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31030 No. 31030
/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
5.875 - >>30675

\o==================8875===================o/
Expand all images
>> No. 31032
===== Time: Morning | Curse: ~<o>~ =====

The girl named Elly shows the world a frozen, comical smile. In this situation, paired with her eyes that are wide with fear, her smile appears more like a cage. The teeth twitch, and jerk, and grind in clear effort to break the enforced, unbefitting monotony, but a smile remains. Schütz wishes the smile was genuine. It could be if he stopped terrorizing her. ‘This is Elly,’ the thought repeatedly bashes him over the head. His half-glare threatens to become quarter even as Meiling, his friend, unintentionally excretes what remains of their intestines with every breath. ‘And this is what Elly did,’ or so reality would claim. His trust and belief in Elly, his wall, says otherwise. The man of Blacks and Whites falls into disarray at the sight of Grey.

Elly is in the wrong, but. The inevitable conclusion comes crawling out of his mind after being chained and beaten. It is not alone. The man’s breath hushes as he notices a parasite attached to the end of his thoughts: ‘But.’ It is a sacred notion; when attached to anything, anything could be excused. He has tried hard to find a ‘but’ that excuses his own failures. By some subconscious notion his eyes dart back to Meiling. Carnage he cannot see is vividly imagined. He knows what Elly did, and he knows why she did it. “Accept. . it?” he parrots Meiling’s words to dead silence.

Elly silently absorbs his words, lost and pawing for some form of respite. This is not how it should work. Elly is his superior. She should not be at his mercy, and seeing her like this; the sight melts something inside him. Elly is in the wrong, but—she is mine. It is a toxic notion. Of course, Elly is Sisters’. Unfortunately and apparently, reality has little effect on Schütz. He realizes these thoughts are wrong in every sense. He realizes these thoughts can never be vocalized or expressed. The notion remains. Truly, the sense inside him has melted, though its existence in the first place is debatable. At the very back of his mind, some part of him recognizes and shrugs hopeless at the fact this might be the worst mistake he has ever made. To him, it feels out of his control. This is the natural conclusion — and anything else would be forced.

Meiling continues to silently bleed out. Elly continues to silently beg for mercy and explanation. Schütz knows his priorities.

First, Schütz purges what remains of his dead-eyed, unfocussed quasi-glare. Second, he addressed his best friend. “Elly.”

The silenced girl shivers.

“You should not hurt friends,” he orders. “So … You are in the wrong, but - but — that is Meiling, and you are Elly. Elly is more important.” He breathes as if he had just taken his hand out of fire. “But -” Another unexpected ‘but’ comes to haunt him. “- but, you are still wrong. Apologize.” This is what his mind calls a compromise. The wall shakes, and buckles, and cracks, but it does not fall. He has found an excuse. It is an excuse he dare not acknowledge, despite how vibrantly it has colored his actions.

Silence reigns.

“Sorry. You - you can speak, Elly.”

“Schütz,” she squeaks out, suddenly bunching up against him as if to embrace, but far past such pleasant things and into desperation. He notes she is warm, knowing well she could have been a cold effigy of rod and cloth. Would it matter to him at this point? His mind might collapse if he thought about it.

“I . . .” No sense comes from his mouth. If Elly wanted sense from him, she should have came a few moments earlier.

“I’m sorry for making Schütz sad,” the blade grinds like a whisper next to his ear. It is a voice that would make anyone else in the world regret being born capable of hearing. To Schütz, it is becoming endearing.

He gulps since the air he breathes through stilted, nasal twitches is not enough. “Elly, no, it is. . Meiling, I said. I meant to apologize to Meiling. But -” Another stray ‘but’ ravages his thought process. “But, I accept it. Your apology. I - yes, thank you, Elly.” As his words permeate through the layers of fear and confusion, Elly eases into a quiet, true smile. He will call it shy, though it looks like the same overeager smile as always. He feels something in his chest. The stupid, doomed man dares to find happiness in this situation.

Meiling coughs.

/ MEILING \
Meiling feels sick in the stomach. It’s a bizarre sensation given she has no stomach to speak of. Try as her body wills to vomit, all that results is a dainty, red cough. To a mindless predator of men, their own flesh and blood tastes rancid. It’s the only thing stopping some from eating themselves. For Meiling, it traps her in a bothersome cycle of coughing blood, and retching from the taste. Some good tea would wash it down. Meiling must settle for willpower.

“Meiling - are you.. fine?” asks the jittery Flower.

Meiling has to pause for that. She was having a relatively good time ignoring the pain aspect of evisceration. Now, acknowledged, she does feel it. It hurts a lot. Still, she answers: “Better than expected.” Speaking slushes the vis in her mouth, making her cough again.

“Will you die?” he presses. He’s asking the wrong person.

Meiling looks down at her tailored uniform turned orifice, and pretends with him that it is the only wound she will receive today. “Sakuya will kill me, but I will live.” Thoughts of home and family are as fulfilling as imagining water in the desert. The mansion is barely a few hundred metres away, but it may as well be across an ocean. They wouldn’t say Meiling accepted this; she has.

The man nods at first, but his face continues through a complexity of emotions as he journeys to comprehend her words. He carries a transparency of heart about him that screams ‘please tease me’ to those interested. Remilia must love it. That and his doomed fate makes him irresistible. He is a bait, and Elly the snare. It’s a perfect trap set by no one but a universe with a cruel sense of humor.

Flower reaches peace eventually, nodding again with actual comprehension this time around. Then, a bolt of impulse hits him something fierce. “. . . Elly has something to say.” He nudge-pushes the manifested antithesis of mercy named ‘Elly’ towards her. It reminds Meiling of a mother introducing a child. It feels like having the sky fall down on top of your toes. The contrast amuses Meiling because they always say Meiling is above fear. Shut up.

“I do!” the reaper answers with far too much enthusiasm. That enthusiasm does not reach her eyes as she stares at Meiling, or, rather, tries to stare at Meiling. The archfiend’s golden glare pierce straight through to the other side, like a harpoon fisherman striking the water’s distortions rather than the fish. Both the reaper and her Flower have trouble in the eyes. Flower is a lost cause who makes a conscious effort of looking everywhere conceivably possible except the eyes. The reaper tries, at least.

Meiling coughs. Beholding Death would be humbling if she weren’t Meiling. For a moment, she wonders what it would be like.

“Meiling?” the reaper has a cold, distant voice befitting her station. Her appearance is like sunset, the flax-gold hair and eyes, and red dress in combination. A scythe wavers in one hand, in the other, she holds her companion’s hand. Is flirting with Death another Gensokyo custom? Without him, would it be slumbering beneath a mountain, terrorizing continents, or torturing souls in the afterlife? To that, Meiling inwardly shrugs. The same could be said about her own situation. Idiots attract danger.

“Yeah,” Meiling replies.

“I’m sorry that you made me make you shut up.”

“. . . Yeah.”

That should be the end of it, but the man interjects: “Elly.”

The closing sunset of all life flinches, and turns heel cartoonishly. “Schütz?”

“That is not how you apologize.”

“-?” She makes a cute, clueless sound.

“You are sorry for hurting my friend Meiling,” he reminds her.

“I am?”

“You are.”

The girl blinks, dumbstruck but determined. “I’m sorry for hurting Meiling?” she parrots at Flower, rather than Meiling. He nods and squeezes her hand, making her visibly deflate with relief. She did just completely guess, despite being told the answer. The man now looks expectedly at Meiling.

They say Meiling has a short temper, that her eyes glaze red when slighted. They would be wrong as always. “... Apologies accepted.”

Flower excitedly tugs the monster’s arm. “You did it, Elly.” Elly, in turn, celebrates in her own way by smiling dead and mystified in his face. Satisfied, Flower looks in the vague direction of Meiling, and orders: “Now apologize to Elly.”

No one is eager to fill the following silence. Meiling, again, takes the hard job. “I would, but…” This isn’t the simple position as gatekeeper the eldest lady Scarlet promised - but, it wasn’t Remilia who decided to make Meiling’s life difficult. That fault lies all in the conceited youkai gatekeeper.

“What - but?” the Flower awkwardly questions.

Yes, what but? Apologising outright would have been easy for anyone except Meiling. Bullheaded might describe her, but bulls are known to tire. It takes all her willpower, the same substance she’s using to suppress the coughs, to hold herself back. She coughs. ‘What kind of idiot would hire this belligerent, borish gatekeeper?’ Meiling idly wonders. Remilia. “But… I needed to cough. I’m done.”

“Oh.” Flower nods honestly, like a taught child.

The gatekeeper angles her head down. Any more movement and she might lose balance and topple. She’s done this once to Elly - apologizing, that is - back when Meiling acted like they said she would. Meiling can only regret one thing: not acting like Meiling. It’s not in Meiling’s nature to apologize for being herself. She swallows her pride. Eating herself is as difficult as it sounds. “... I, Meiling, Hong, sworn to Scarlet, and youkai gatekeeper, apologize to you, Elly.” The gatekeeper recalls from memory an imitation of an honest apology.

Elly occupies herself staring at Schütz. “For?” he prods.

Meiling is turned silent. This is not a question she can answer easily.

Thankfully, the man is eager for a happy ending. “You’re sorry for making Elly hurt you, right?” he presses with equal parts uncertainty and determination.

“... Yes. Very. Absolutely.”

The Flower is overjoyed. It can be seen in his eyes. They twinkle with a distinctly human madness. “Elly-!” he pushes the monster forward for the second time. Under the spotlight, she is completely dazed, and immediately looks back to him for support.

“You’re supposed to accept Meiling’s apology.” He continues to direct his make believe interaction; starring Elly, terror manifested, and Meiling, the worst actor in Gensokyo.

Elly looks to Meiling, then to Schütz, then back to Meiling. “Meiling.”

“. . Yeah?”

“I’m supposed to accept your apology?” The reaper hums, then continues: “And I accept your apology.”

The man looks ready to tear up at the sight. Meiling is beginning to suspect Elly didn’t actually hear her apology at all. That comforts her a little bit. Meiling looks up at the sky as the odd couple celebrate gaily. Dark blotches stain newly arrived clouds. Afternoon tea with the maid is looking less likely by the moment. “A storm. On a nice day, too. What are the odds?”

“Schütz.” A reaper’s perverse affections drip from that word.

“Elly?”

“Would it make you happy if I destroyed Gensokyo?”

A gathering storm, an ancient evil, and a plot to end the world. This is more Remilia’s thing, Meiling concludes. So here I go. Meiling has no choice but to repeat what got her eviscerated. Meiling is calm, Meiling tells herself. They wouldn’t agree.

Meiling pulls her head out of the clouds, and interjects: “Adorable, but. . .”

\ Meiling /

“- the Elder Scarlet has a better cure than that,” the powderkeg continues unimpeded.

‘Crik’

I hate Gensokyo. There is no uncertainty in Schütz’ mind. This is the truth, and but only a new revelation. He has not even begun thinking of ‘solutions.’ “Really?” he asks. “For me? Why would..?”

“Truly,” Elly confirms with a smile next to his face and an ear-splitting grind in his ear.

“Oh, I - thank you?” The offer alone is ludicrous. Why would anyone do such a difficult thing for him? “Elly. Are you certain? That sounds hard.”

“It isn’t.”

“Oh.”

“Would it make Schütz happy?” Elly repeats.

Gensokyo: gone. Schütz feels strange. “I - do not know.”

“Schütz. Listen,” Meiling, who has made their stumbling way over, speaks before plopping down onto the soft undergrowth before him. Every time it suppresses a cough, blackpowder distends inside its body, and floods out the wound in its gut. “And Elly. I’m trying to help your.. friend too. You want to make him happy? Adorable. I like it,” the youkai dribbles its half-sentences together into something nearing coherent.

‘CRIK.’ The leviathan locks onto Meiling’s figure, and coils like the colossal serpent it is. No strike comes, but one is promised.

“—Alright,” Schütz eventually answers. He trusts Elly, to do the right thing but nonetheless he tugs her down as he sits. She tumbles with a metallic squeak of shock. Sleep deprivation, constant alertness and distress, and the sheer weight of what has happened over the past day, hours even, heap down on him at this moment. “Tired,” he declares like it is a surprise to himself.

“Same here, friend.” The disemboweled sack of gunpowder bleeds to now-blackened heavens.

“Going to rain,” he notes.

“What are the odds?”

Schütz blankly stares at the trail of gunpowder feeding the clouds. He hates Gensokyo. The undergrowth provides a soft cushion, and a dull ‘thud,’ for his head when he eventually relinquishes sitting. He curls on his side, watching the gatekeeper.

“Schütz?” Elly now decides to drone in.

“Elly?”

“You don’t want Gensokyo destroyed?”

“Maybe later.”

“Are you sad?”

“No. Only tired.”

“#” Elly grinds in thought.

“You need rest? We have seven hours before Remilia does something stupid.” Meiling looks up, melancholic. “But the sky is. . .”

True rest is impossible for Schütz. When he is silent and pensive, he fidgets. When he sleeps, he soon wishes otherwise. He finds the only remaining option is to speak. “I remember it - her — Remilia. She was. .” The vampire is a brief, pleasant memory preceding a waking nightmare. Remembering too hard would only hurt him. “- nice to me,” he finishes vaguely. This time even he realizes how indecipherably fractured his speech is, so he reiterates: “Remilia is nice.”

The youkai is quiet; it lines its thoughts with pulses and zig zags of its gunpowder breath. Whenever it speaks it gives the impression of coming from a long pilgrimage, even for the simplest of phrases. “Remilia. She’s a doctor, you know. Retired, but. . You came at a bad time - reignited a flame. She sees someone like you, a sick creature, and she just has to help it, or. .” Meiling abruptly pauses, puffing a smokey sigh. The topic has been dropped with no illusions. “— She wanted to be a hero. It didn’t work. But she can fix you.” “I swear as Meiling.”

The man hears the most optimistic prediction ever made about his life, again. His reaction is the same. “How.” It is a blank question without optimism or expectation.

Meiling gives a self-assured, weighty nod. “The only way that works. She takes you, tears you apart, removes the rot, then stitches you back together.”

“Oh.” Of course, purging everything wrong about him would work. “That sounds - good, but —” what would be left? The answer disappoints him. “It will not work.” Another ‘but’ creeps in. His cannot be as kind as Elly’s. He has done nothing to deserve a kind excuse.

The youkai shakes its bulbous, smoking head. “It works. It sounds impossible - it is.” Meiling pauses, thinking, smoking, and then coughing with something like a scoff. “Remilia shouldn’t exist. She doesn’t let it bother her.”

“No - I.. There is-” He stops. Explaining the curse has only ever made others’ life hell. The man is left to squirm uncomfortably.

“Schütz?” Elly squawks behind him.

“Elly,” he eeks out.

“What’s wrong?” she asks a simple question.

“It is .. nothing important.”

“Schütz is important.”

Oh. Schütz has learnt to endure many things. Care is not one of them. He goes quiet, defenseless.

“Your boy is doomed,” answers Meiling in his stead.

“#” with a sound like Hell’s gate being torn from its latches, Elly faces Meiling. Her expression is a picture of hatred, foolishly defied by an unbreakable grin. For a brief moment, Elly could be called truly hideous. “Shut up. I’m trying to hear Schütz.”

“He’s going to suffer if we don’t -”

“Quiet.” Elly hears something that is not Schütz, but does not react accordingly. The girl turns to her muse, the paralyzed Schütz. “I shouldn’t hurt Schütz’ friends,” she verbally recalls. “Then I will tell Meiling -” The leviathan swims beneath Meiling, and breaches so that the blade anchors just before the youkai’s head. She emits the fear of death like light for a simple desire: “-Shut up and and go away!”

Meiling, the conceited youkai gatekeeper who would currently function better as a door stopper, coughs.

Today has been hard on Schütz, especially if an extended period without restful sleep could be considered a day.

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

He tells Meiling:
[A: “Shut up.”]
[B: “—And go away.”]

|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 writeins.
>> No. 31033
Oh shoot, I had forgotten the bad option had won.
Not sure where to go from here, but I guess our path is pretty much set. I'll just focus in damage control.

[A: “Shut up”]

The other option can be taken as murder, whereas this one can only be taken as mutilation. That's better, right?
>> No. 31034
[A: “Shut up.”]
I honestly have no idea whether that vote could kill someone.
>> No. 31035
[A] Shut up
CEASE THOU MOUTH MOVEM
>> No. 31036
*movements
fuck you auto-correct
>> No. 31037
Systems:
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. So far the only writein that gained significant traction was one destined to nosedive the story.

In the case of votes with more than two options, you are free to note if your vote is a compromise. 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. This is only functional with votes with more than two options.

Notes:
Drawing for this project have ceased. Drawing efforts have been funneled to a more fulfilling, private project. However, I will still sketch new characters as they appear.
>> No. 31038
>‘And this is what Elly did,’ or so reality would claim. His trust and belief in Elly, his wall, says otherwise.

With his apparent power, thoughts like this may lead in dangerous direction.

>the sight melts something inside him.

Hopefully his heart. Then again, taken too literally that may end poorly.

>Elly is in the wrong, but—she is mine.

...You know, in retrospect, the best path would have been a write-in accompanying that but. I feel like we missed an opportunity there. Heck, this is a big part of why I tried to discuss what each vote meant, as this is most certainly not what I expected to come from Schutz's but.

>It is a voice that would make anyone else in the world regret being born capable of hearing. To Schütz, it is becoming endearing.

Funny how that works, huh?

...Wait, wait, wait! I understand Meiling's design now, I think! She's a sack of gunpowder; a sack of explosives. She has an explosive temper! A lazy sack of anger issues! Everyone thinks she's going to explode at any moment!

All these things are my observations while reading the update. Take them or leave them. That said, I will have to cautiously vote against you guys.

[B: “—And go away.”]

Why, you may ask? Meiling is bleeding horribly. If she goes away, she can seek treatment for her injuries. If she can die of blood loss, and I feel that she indeed can, having her stay is the more dangerous option.
>> No. 31039
>>31038
You convinced me.

[B: “—And go away.”]
>> No. 31040
Vote to be called tomorrow night, likely. The fate of ties will be dealt with on a case by case basis.
>> No. 31041
A.

What's a sack of powder and wind worth.

Take what control you can while you have it.
>> No. 31060
“Shut up,” Schütz groans “Shut up, and. .” He considers his next words. “Just shut up. And stop annoying Elly. Please.”

Meiling puffs a dismissive wad of smoke, but says nothing. To that he responds, “Thank you.”

Elly is pleased until she remembers why she wanted the youkai quiet in the first place. ‘Criik.’ The shifts of her emotions are told with the subtle clickings and grindings of a serpentine mouth. “What’s wrong?” She turns and ask him a simple, unanswerable question.

The boy is splayed like the dead, quiet and rigid, on the ground. He watches smoke bleed from Meiling to become clouds. The clouds gleam with an oily, purple sheen that leaks from the unseen sun. Everything under the sun is wrong. Little wars are waged inside him over the details, but that is absolute. “Elly,” he starts, a minute late to him but not to Elly. — “Schütz?” She bends over absurdly to meet his eyes.

He cannot lie down for this. The protest of his body is unending to the point of being monotonous and therefore ignorable, which he does as he rights himself into an impression of a normal person’s sitting position. Elly perfectly aligns herself with his ascent. She watches so intently that he might trip over his own ass from the pressure. That is not his concern, however. The smile he forces to console her does not go as planned, and may pass better as an abstract art piece.

“I asked what’s wrong, and I will know what’s wrong,” she says. The serpent orbits hims, encircling and possessive as a python’s wrap. “And what is with Schütz is not nothing until I unmake it.”

Why would you. .? His immediate question is left unspoken for its stupidity. ‘Stop caring so much,’ he rebuts silently, but his actual response is a mumbled: “. . ah.”

“You cannot,” he continues.

“Why would you say that if it isn’t true?” The blade grinds. “I’m Elly.” That alone is her justification.

“Because is it so.”

“Then--” she begins.

“Elly.”

“-Schütz?”

“You - you want to make me happy. Truly?” he asks a dumb question.

The girl looks at him in quiet disbelief. “I’m Elly,” she repeats.

That must mean a lot to her. It does to him too. “Oh- then, sit down, Elly.”

After a whine of thought, she sits. The position is awkward under the cursed lens. Her post sinks directly into the ground, and the top of her body bobs above like in water. He tentatively pokes where her leg ought to be, as if her body were made of fragile glass. Tap, tap. He feels the soft resistance of her flesh beneath cloth. Nothing breaks - and it takes some effort to resist the urge to feel again. Elly watches on with curiosity stained by concern. He finds that, again, he holds her hand. Who did that? Does it matter?

“Elly. You were right. I am having trouble thinking,” he starts.

She grinds with frustration over the fact.

“I said I was dangerous. Do you remember?”

“Schütz is very dangerous,” Elly affirms.

Because I recognized her goodness? Elly’s reasoning is beyond him. “No - no, not because of that?” “— I” He breathes in, deep. “One day — Elly, one day, I will do something bad.” Meiling knows it. Remilia knows it. Ran knows it. Yuuka knows it. I know it.

“Schütz isn’t bad.” One would think it was a fact with the force in which she claims it.

He made her think that, he realizes. Following a gulp that cannot clear the distracting kernel of guilt in his throat, he continues, “You like me now, Elly. And - and you know I like you too. A lot. You are my best friend.” His other best friend died - this is something his melted brain decides pertinent to remember.

Elly’s permanent smile is pained with crinkles and occasional twitches of distress. Nonetheless, she loves to be acknowledged.

“That will not change. No matter what. So - I have something to ask. To make me happy.” He breathes, he gulps, he pauses; anything to delay. Nothing he does can stop time. The words are forced out like barbed wire from the throat. “Can you - can you —” His plan turns to ashes the second the first words struggle past his tongue. ‘Can you let me die? As a friend?’ It would be simple to ask. He thought in his half-dead state he might even be able to bear her tantrum that follows. He thought he might be able to convince her if he tried. It would have all been for her sake in the end. But, no, he does not plead that stupid, selfish request. He did promise to exist for her. Even in this physical and mental state bordering ghoul he cannot forget that.

“Schütz?”

“Apologies - ha.. Ha ha. I forgot something important.” His laughter is comparable to disturbed dust over a wasteland. “Let me think. Yeah.”

“#?”

A minute of mental sloughing follows as he excretes a new plan. Elly’s occasional, ear-piercing grinding acts as a tune to his thoughts.

“Ah.” The end of his thoughts are announced. “When it happens,” he starts, “When I ruin everything. If you can - only if — remember who you are, Elly. Please.” He stares down into the mud between his crossed, shivering legs. “I know - I know it sounds dumb. But it means a lot to me. So..” He checks; she is unreadable. “Please say yes.”

“Yes,” she replies without hesitation.

A few moments pass as he waits for the ‘but.’ But it is as simple as that.

“You. . You understand what I am asking?”

“I understand Schütz wants it. Then I will give Schütz what he wants.”

“That is - that is —” Good.

He realizes he has been attempting to squeeze all the blood from her hand. He relaxes his grip. “. . Good. Elly. You are too good for me.” Maybe she really will remember? How stupid he is. “That should be enough.” He smiles, slightly. It is a smile earned through sheer force of will. “You did it. I can think clearer now that I know you will remember.”

“Truly?” she prods. The serpent is persistent and intrusive.

“Truly.”

“Schütz.”

“Elly?”

“What’s the bad thing?”

He finds a convenient truth. “Evil.”

“A lie?” she asks.

“Maybe.”

“Then it may not be evil?”

“I do not know.” He cannot say for certain. Ran made sure of that.

“Does Schütz want to know?”

At some point, the once-protestors in his body perform a strike. He realizes this because he topples head-against-mud. His eyes are towards a pitch black sky. Elly overhangs, pulled along by his hand. “Ah,” he notes.

“Schütz? Schütz? Are you dying? I can bring you back,” Elly nannies above him.

He finds he has not let go of her hand, forcing her to hover over him awkwardly.

It takes far too long for him to find his voice. “No - again, Elly. Just tired.”

“Does Schütz want to be tired?”

It has never been optional, so it is not a preference he considers often. “. . No.”

“I will destroy it for you.” She frowns, concerned and determined. “Where is the weariness?”

“Everywhere. Always.” he notes truthuly.

His Elly smiles bright and merciless like the sun. “I can destroy everything, forever. Does Schütz want that?”

“No. Elly.” Terrible thoughts are had, and are better kept as thoughts. He underestimates his own selfishness. “There is - there is a better way.”

As he expected, she leans in closer in curiosity; her empty, soulless eye-sockets are wide with poorly managed excitement. “Y-yeah. There. It is warm, now. That helps.”

“This?” She marvels at herself pressed against him.

“Yeah.”

She lets the rest of her weight down on him carefully. “Is it dead yet?” she asks.

“. . No. It takes a while.”

‘. . . This was a terrible idea. Why do I do these things.’ These thoughts and many more like them offer token resistance. He remains still. Up close, he can admire the crude yet purposeful details of his friend’s cursed face.

“Did I kill it?” she asks.

“Not yet.”

“Schütz,” his scarecrow buzzes again.

“Elly?”

“My dress is foul.”

“Oh. .” “Apolo.. gies..”

“It leaks from dress into the water, and then the water is muddy. And apologies for what, Schütz?”

“The -” He then notes the state of her smile, demented and wide with glee. “Is - is that good for you?”

“Is it? I’m submerged in Schütz, and covered in Schütz, and rotting in Schütz. Is that good, Schütz?” she asks.

The forgotten Meiling coughs.

Quiet!” Elly barks, face twisting vicious for less than a blink. In less than a blink, every flower as far as the eye can see is decapitated. Mud slops to the ground. Meiling is untouched, a survivor in the muddy massacre.

Schütz blinks dully; once, then twice. “Ah.”

“Yuuka commanded me never to clean Schütz off. But if she asked me to, I wouldn’t. Is that good?” she continues.

All of her body weight and more is upon him. She smells like terror made physical - but he is accustomed to that from her voice. It excites him nonetheless, jolting a dagger of energy through his dead system. Only his head is functioning at this point. He hopes it turns off soon.

“Do you like it - this?” he asks the only question that matters.

“I believe I do,” she answers.

“Then it is good.”

Never doubt in Elly’s ability to smile wider. There is no physical limit.

“Schütz.”

“Elly?”

He can feel her moist, over-stimulated breath on his neck, which he twists away to the side in some pitiful attempt of resistance. To his dismay, but not surprise, he regrets nothing. “Can you spit on me, and bleed on me, and -”

“Elly.” He stops the equivalent of a falling meteor with one word.

“-Schütz?”

“Later. I am tired.”

“It’s not dead? I will kill it until it dies.” She presses down on him harder. The loamy earth squelches as the man is imprinted into it like the luckiest bug in existence.

It is dark, it is warm, and it is quiet. He is safe. Schütz falls asleep more peacefully than he has in many years.
>> No. 31061
Elly killing the weariness is adorable.

Also getting some Mirai Nikki vibes here.
>> No. 31062
>>31061
Glad you liked it.
>> No. 31063
Writing, writing.
>> No. 31066
Writing. Elly this, Elly that. Ever had glass shoved in your ear? I haven't, but we can imagine what it feels like together with Schütz.
>> No. 31067
...Is it just me, or is Elly laying on top of Schutz? I wonder what Meiling's opinion of Elly is now? She's kinda acting adorably, and I'm sure even stabbing wouldn't be enough to change that.

Maybe terrifyingly cute?
>> No. 31068
>>31067
>I wonder what Meiling's opinion of Elly is now?
The type of opinions one like Meiling would have after attempting to prevent omnicide-minus-one, but then being eviscerated.

I sage my vague writing updates and minor statements like 'glad you like it' since they are ineffective to most/all people, I imagine. I suggest not saging your thoughts as I'm interested in hearing them.
>> No. 31069
>>31068

I think I can do that in the future. ...Although, I assume that this statement of acceptance of that still counts as sage material, but I'll not just to be sure.
>> No. 31074
3.5k in.
>> No. 31086
moved houses and have to go to an interstate business meeeting thingamajigger.
>> No. 31087
5k.

No point cutting prematurely. Will go as long as needed
>> No. 31089
Pitter patter.

Schutz awakes to the sounds of rain, the smell of terror, and a disturbing lack of tears. He yawns, only to find all of his limbs locked in place. This is not new to him. Sometimes, he feels like stone when he wakes up. The times when the feeling is robbed from his body, and dark phantoms whisper darker things into his ear. Sleeping is tiring. However, today, beneath complete darkness, he feels safe. Warmth cocoons him like midday sun, but it is a living warmth, undulating above, slow, hot, and heavy. Sterile breath creeps up his neck and around his ears. He remembers why - who.

“Schutz?” a dark phantom whispers into his ear with a voice like glass passing through bone.

“Good morning Elly,” he replies.

“Good morning, Schutz!” The lump of warmth above him shifts vividly with every word.

Part of him did not expect a response, and that this was a cruel extension of a nightmare to be cut off. “Eheheha ha ha - ha?” Is that me? It is. He is happy he does not have to see the dumb smile he feels on his face. He is also surprised to find he is happy.

“Did I kill it?” Her killing intent is clear in the way she forces him further into the ground.

Somewhat winded, he coughs. “Yes - yes. I - am. . uh. .” Just before his next words depart, they are recalled. There must be a mistake, a mismatch somewhere in his broken head. No matter - despite his greatest, most thorough interrogation, it is reluctantly spat back out. “Not.. tired?”

Elly huffs like a predator over flesh. He cannot see her smile, but he can sense it like a rabbit might sense a wolf. Though the rows of needle-like spines crammed into her mouth celebrate a less literal death. She has slain his sleepiness. She will feast on his gratitude.

He suppresses the instincts that tell him he is about to die and become food, and with a retained stupid smile he speaks: “Thank you Elly. You did good. Very good.”

“I am good, and I feel good. Do you feel good, Schutz?” The excitement is clear through the pain in his ears.

Condensation builds on his cheek, and runs slowly down his face. Besides the palpable fear, she is utterly scentless. The moisture down his face is not saliva, but pure water. It tastes the same, tasteless, and he knows that because he just tasted it. Somehow, it downs better than normal water. He figures he must be dehydrated.

“Yes.”

This is apparently the correct answer, as the large girl atop him exhales sharply from all her withheld anticipation. “Yuuka said friends think alike, and then Yuuka was right!” She pauses, and again he feels that victorious, predatory, murderous and merciless smile beaming down on him: “Then you want to bathe in my body fluids, Schutz?”

“Uh. . oh. ?” The awakening brain should not be subject to such questions. His smile remains frozen, wanting to exist despite the unexpected turn. “Huh?”

“This vessel is made of interpretations of flesh, and blood, and spit, and sweat, and urine, and all else. I can crack it open, if Schutz wants.”

“Uh.” “Elly?” he emptily questions.

“Schutz?”

“I -”

“#?”

“What?”

She spits on his face. “That. And more than that.”

He blinks. The water-saliva runs quickly to the earth. It serves a purpose in restarting his struggling mind. “Bathing in body fluids,” he repeats to himself airily. “That is what you want - Elly?”

“Yes! How did Schutz know? Is it because we’re friends, like Yuuka said?”

“I . . . knew. Right. Yeah. No - I mean, you said it.”

“##?”

Warm silence passes.

Air is passed rhythmically out his mouth, not quite laughter - but close. “Heha.. ha. Yeah. It does not matter. I will do whatever you want Elly.”

“Schutz will make a boat, and take us to the lake, and then spill body fluids on me?”

“Yes,” he answers without hesitation. “But - I do not need — no, want — you to do the same. Thinking alike - that does not mean we are the same.”

“#!?”

“Elly - Elly. It is not bad. It is good.” He remembers he cannot actually nod, and succeeds in lightly headbutting his scarecrow’s nose. “It makes you special. Yeah. Very special.”

“I’m special?”

“You are Elly. - The one.”

“And that is good, you believe?”

“It is, and I do.”

“Then I will believe it,” she nods firmly against his nose; it’s more like a nuzzle, but that is purely circumstantial on her part. “Schutz is very special,” Elly declares her logical conclusion.

“I - uh.”

More warm silence passes. Rain crashes down around them, or that is what Schutz’ ears tell him. It is as calming as it is nonsensical.

“Elly.”

“Schutz?”

“It is raining.”

“It is?” She twists all of a sudden to check. “It is.”

H er dress, hair and body smothers him, blocking out the light. He can only take her word for it; that and the implied downpour that echoes muffled in his prison. “. . .Oh. Right then, right then.” Elly is warm, the ground is soft, and the scent and sound of rain is nice.

“I have a question,” he starts.

“#?”

“Why can I not feel the rain?”

Elly grinds in thought, then twists around to find out. “Yuuka is stopping the water from hitting us.”

“Oh.”

Sister. Maybe if he lies down here, he can just fall back to sleep.

“A pleasant afternoon my brother! Act as if I am not here!” Sister cheerily calls out from somewhere.

He tries and fails in the span of a second. No, no, he absolutely cannot.

“Schutz,” says Elly, unaffected.

“E - Elly?”

“I wanted to say Schutz.”

“Ah.” “Right.”

Elly imparts some calm in him, like a fairy trying to douse a forest fire by piddling on it. He appreciates her oblivious effort - but ‘Sister’ invokes so much inside him that even beginning to consider considering is painful. Not all of that pain is from thinking. There is a different, sharp tug at the back of his mind. A message.

/ ~<O>~ \

>[WELCOME: AMETHYST]
>[MESSAGE RECEIVED FROM: CITRINE | T:6:01]
>>[OPEN: [Y]/N]
>...
>[HELP ME NAME MY NEW CAT.]
>[I CAN ONLY THINK OF GOOD NAMES.]
>[BUT THIS CAT NEEDS TO EARN A GOOD NAME.]
>[SHE IS DISOBEDIENT!]
>[YOU NAME HER FIRST.]
>[-CITRINE]
>...


And then, an unquantifiable moment later in violet time, another.

>[MESSAGE RECEIVED FROM: CITRINE | T:6:01]
>>[OPEN: [Y]/N]
>...
>[WHY DO ANIMALS HATE ME?]
>[-CITRINE]
>...
>[GIRLS ARE PREPARING. PLEASE WAIT WARMLY.]

\ ~<o>~ /

Real time crawls along as he tries to find a reaction to what he just read. Cat names? Rain.. water.. . wet.. . dirt..? Thunder roars. Schutz jumps with all the worry he hoped to suppress. Fortunately, all he manages is a particularly lively twitch underneath his blanket.

‘Crikik?’ Elly takes it well. Though, she quickly jabs his thigh back in retribution.

He tries to rationalize. It is as useful to him as trying to breath water without gills, or fly without wings. Nonetheless, a forgery of sensibility is attempted. There is Sister. I should talk to her. Knowing that second guessing would only topple him, he forces words from his mouth: “Elly. Can you get up?”

“I can.”

Elly makes a perhaps-not-oblivious point of not moving.

“Will you?”

“I can’t think of a reason why. Will you, Schutz?”

He very much does not want to leave the safety of Elly’s bosom, but - “Yeah.”

“#?” she prods.

“I need to speak to Sister.”

Warm silence passes.

“That - that was my reason, Elly.”

She makes a slight, pretty noise. Laughter? Is she laughing at me? Giggling, morelike.

“#? That’s not a reason for me to move, Schutz. Can you not hear her pretending to speak from beneath me?”

“I. . can. But-”

She immediately interjects: “Then can you not speak to her from beneath as well?”

“Uh.” He dribbles something out before he is forced to think too hard: “Please. I would like you to get up. Elly.”

‘Crik.’ Left with no choice she does get up, leaving the loam-imprinted man behind.

It is like a coffin has been opened. Freezing cold air wafts in, and quickly seizes his breath. The dazed wannabe-dead’s eyes stare blankly into a pitch black sky. The sky is interrupted by a vibrant red circle, connected by stick to a gloved hand, connected to a sculpted arm, and finally ending in Sister. Thinking about what she looks like wastes time that could be spent wishing he was somewhere else. “. . Thank you.”

Sister outstretches her hand to help him up. Elly mimics. He takes Elly’s hand, or where it ought to be, who helps him up. Once up, he refuses to release the hand, as does she to him. He has to force himself to move, but it is as if the ground before him were caltrops.

He faces Sister, amasses all of his willpower, re-numbs all of his higher thoughts, and says: “Hello.”

Sister looks mystified back at him. She then checks her hand. “Hm-Ah - Hello, Schutz.”

Sister stands there a while, still, smiling slightly. Usually this is when he would hug her, but that would be akin to running into fire. So he waves. This is Sister, why am I like this? Good for Schutz that he never expects answers to questions he asks.

“So you made a friend!” she picks up.

“Yes.” The answer is drawn from automated speech. It sounds normal, eerily so. There may as well have been a bug in his throat doing the talking. His mind is undoubtedly not the source. It preoccupies itself with thinking in circles, and making more complex pretzels when the circle is too scary.

“Wonderful! Humans love making friends.”

he automated response system tries to find something fitting he would say. “They. . do?”

“Certainly. It was in a book I read.”

“Ah.”

He stares down intently at his feet. The reason is not clear to him.

“Elly’s a very special girl.”

“Yeah.”

“She’s always had trouble making friends. — Mm, she never tried, but I assume she would.”

The Elly in question does not even register Sisters’ words.

“Ah.”

“But if she could make friends anywhere, it’s here.”

“. . . Here,” he echoes.

“With you, Schutz!”

She keeps talking, but only the vestiges of sentiments permeate the thick, protective barriers underneath his skull.

Poke. A bop to the forehead proves enough to rattle the man. He blinks. “Apologies,” he mumbles as he is forced to focus on Sister rather than his muddy feet. The latter manages to be more pleasant. Again, he cannot discern why. This is Sister. His eyes quickly wander upwards to the rain. Droplets swerve to avoid the strange trio. They learn fear specifically to be afraid of her. Knowing Sister, this is no hyperbole on his part.

Sister gasps, then hastily hangs her parasol overhead, giving the illusion it suits a practical purpose. Only, the rainshadow is far, far larger than the umbrella.

“Ha. Haha.” A real laugh leaks out of somewhere in him. Auto-response temporarily thwarted, he responds with an easily spoken, but still difficult to believe, phrase: “Yeah. Elly is my best friend.” Then, something large and disgusting forces itself from his throat, “Wh- why are you here?” He feels like he just vomited a log.

“I woke up,” she says, and yawns.

He notices her hair now, so long it nearly touches the ground. Normally, it would be cut weekly. With me. “Ah.” How long have I avoided paying tribute? The thought terminates, replaced by a newfound need to talk, “Your hair,” he blurts. “It is long. We should cut it.”

“Oh!” She feels behind her head to find a wavy curtain of hair grown with the lustre and wildness of a meadow. “We shall.” Armed with good reason, she slides up to Schutz, turns round, and asks, “Hold~” Of course, she refers to the act of constraining her hair to an easily sliceable bundle. There is but one issue.

“Elly.”

“Schutz?”

“I apologize.”

He lets go of her hand. He did not account for the fact she would not.

“#?”

“Er.”

“##??”

“Please let go of my hand.”

“Why?”

“I need to cut Sisters’ hair.”

Elly is quiet. It is no act of rebellion, she simply has nothing to add to an argument she won and he lost.

“Sister?”

“Mhmm~?”

“I cannot.”

“Mm?” She guides by hum, an absurd sort of maestro.

“. . . Apologies. I-”

“It’s only hair, Schutz. You dislike my long hair so much?”

“No, but I - I -”

She bops him with a stunning backwards poke maneuver. “At ease.” ~ “I made Elly’s body, so you fondling it so fondly is as good as my hair.”

“Really?” he asks her hair.

“Naturally.”

He sighs with relief; it is a long, well-appreciated sigh on his part. God accepts his unintentional sacrifice.

“Oh~” Sister twirls about to meet him with a lovely hum in her throat and two suns caged in her eyes. The pressure she emits invites all bodies under the sky to bow down. Schutz is used to it, and Elly is too busy not noticing. The rain, however, pauses mid air, too scared to make a noise. ‘Sister is excited,’ the boy astutely recognizes.

‘CR###IK#IKIK?!’ Sister grabs Elly by the other arm, eliciting a sound one might expect from a dying star, and presents the scarecrow’s body like a chunk of meat. “Schutz, Schutz! Have you tried procreating with it?” Several petrified raindrops explode from awe and terror at hearing the great word of god.

Long ago, the man made peace with the fact he would never understand most of what his Sister does and says. That does not mean he has given up trying. “Pro - creating?”

“Filth piles onto filth to make more filth,” Elly answers.

“All true~” The raindrops shiver. “Living creatures love to procreate, but humans are kind enough to do it with anything!” She shakes the piece of meat called Elly. “Even - this!” She pokes Elly’s self-proclaimed ‘immoderate’ breast, and trails down to the hip. “It even looks kinda~somewhat~almost alike a human female!”

‘Crik?’

“I ask, have you tried to procreate with Elly yet?” The energy she emits, both literal and social, is a gravity in upon itself.

“I - uh. .”

“Don’t give up! If you try hard enough it will work. Humans are fantastic at getting the world to play pretend. For some even clay and semen is good enough with significant effort.” She vigorously shakes Elly, who has taken to ignoring the excited, sun-like lady. “You could be the first human to make flesh with this - thing!”

Schutz nods along, understanding nothing. He makes the mistake of trying to speak. “I could . . . what?”

“Keep putting that -” She points to Schutz’ naked crotch. “- In that -” She points to Elly’s significantly less naked crotch. “To make something.”

“Wh-why?”

“Why?” Elly joins in.

“It’s a human thing.”

“Disgusting,” comments Elly.

“Mmm ~ there are many fluids involved,” adds Sister.

The way Elly shivers ever-so-slightly is felt like an earthquake in his body. The sensation of lice underneath skin slowly travels from arm to down his back.
It is at this moment Schutz realizes he is in peril. No words are spoken by his scarecrow, nor do any need to be. His fate is sealed, no consent required or asked for.

“Wonderful~!” Sister hums. Caged suns in her eyes threaten to burst. Raindrops explode, and flowers bloom beneath.

“It . . .” Schutz starts, considers, then ends. “Is.” Sister is smiling, Elly is smiling maybe too much. That ought to be enough for him, so he makes it enough by force of will. The man sighs, another hard battle fought and won.

“Why not start now?” Sister asks.

“Start - what?” he grinds out through tragically broken peace.

“Procreating.”

On instinct he turns to Elly for help, but it is equivalent to shoving one’s head in a shark’s mouth. “The dirt has good ideas, Schutz,” she damns him. “I am not filth, but I can pretend to be for Schutz.”

‘Dirt.’ “Ha - ha. Yeah.” He nods meaninglessly. “Yes. What about - you - uh. . Do it first, and I follow.”

“#?”

Questions - even the most simple ones are too much for him. The rain is like a cage keeping him in place. An awkward mix of befuddlement and forced calm blights his face with something so far from calm he might as well quit. His inability to permanently give up has consistently proven to be his downfall.

“My brother wants a demonstration?”

“I - maybe - yes. Yes.”

“Hmm. If you put a human and a thing in a space long enough they will inevitably breed ~ I have faith in my brother’s ability.” She nods to her own conclusion. “Worry not ~ with love anything is possible.”

“We are currently in a space, Schutz,” Elly decides important to point out.

“I - yes. Yes.”

Elly makes a sound that could be interpreted as pleasure. “Are you procreating yet?”

He turns to Sister for answers. “He tried to earlier, I saw.” But she ends up giving him more questions.

“Yep,” he mirrors to Elly with auto-speak. “But not. Right. Now.”

‘Crik.’

“Later.”

‘Crik - krik krik~’ Someone who did not know Elly might mistake this as the sound the gates of hell would make as new souls arrive. Schutz accurately labels it cute.

Sister sits down. Schutz follows automatically, and Elly by extension. The scarecrow tries out a few positions before accepting the man’s vacant shoulder as appropriate rest. She meets no resistance apart from his awkwardness. The expectations of the sun bear down upon him. What should I do? His right hand wanders up, stops to question its own actions, then follows through in its journey to the scarecrow’s head. Her flax-gold hair is plush, and his hand sinks in like it were water.

‘Crik~’

He strokes her scalp, around her rounded-point ears specifically. This is fine. More than that if I think less about it.

Except, only Elly has been taught the path of vengeance. She assaults his head only seconds later with her own hand. To do this she must twist around, and pin him in place with their already intercrossed other hands. Unlike earlier, the monstrous puppet is in full spotlight. Her clicking is whining and incessant. The snake passively coils around him, never quite touching.

“Wonderful foreplay,” Sister commentates.

He pauses, so Elly pauses, leaving them stuck in a strange shape. Sisters’ anticipation causes more raindrops to explode.

“Elly.”

“Schutz?” the serpent grinds.

“This will make it hard to talk to Sister,” he speaks an excuse that is true enough to work.

“Schutz says many pointless things,” she notes.

“I - I apologize, but -” He is disrupted by the disturbing bend of Elly’s smile.

“Pointless statements, and pointless apologies, and arguments that are not. I like hearing Schutz speak. It feels like filth being poured inside my head.” She looks down into the ground. “I hear it swish around in my head when its quiet, so it’s never quiet anymore.”

“Right,” he tells himself, then her, “Right. As long as you are happy. Yeah.”

“I’m happy.”

“Good.”

“Good!” she cheerfully responds with voice like teeth plucked from an iron skull. “Schutz.”

“- Elly?”

“Spit more when you speak.”

“U h. I will, I will try?”

The two are still tangled. He sees Sister behind, watching with rapt attention. Every now and then, a new flower sprouts somewhere to watch them from another angle. He imagines them saying: ‘Keep going keep going keep going keep going.’ But that might just be him. Why would I want that? No answer comes, but he makes a good show of being still and silent for a minute.

“Sis-ter,” he says.

“Hm?” “Is it difficult to procreate with Elly? Imagine it isn’t Elly, it will help.”

“No.” “No! I - I just wanted to keep talking. Please.”

“Go on. You can procreate as we talk. The human crotch is not the hole that speaks.”

This configuration is ‘procreation,’ truly? This is easier than I thought.

“Sewing - I made the dress. Elly’s.. Dress,” he picks up.

Sister gestures out. “The one on the ground, in the rain?” The rain freezes where the dress is, caught at the scene of the crime.

“Yeah.” It sinks in. “. . yeah.”

“I like it!” adds Elly.

“She likes it?”

“I like it,” she affirms.

“She. . likes it. Yeah.”

“Mhm~” Sister hums. She moves to pick up the dress, but as hands meet fabric, her arms decide to fall off - or, that is how it appears. Sisters’ arms lie twitching on the ground in an imitation of life. The stumps where they once lived begin to weep mud. “Ouch,” she says neutrally, then hums, clears her throat, and retries with more enthusiasm, “Owee!”

Schutz sits like an idiot. Sister stands in a way that would look like an armless idiot if she were physically capable of not looking immaculate. But Elly appears to be happy.

“Elly,” says Schutz. His voice would suggest anything but panic. Auto-speech serves him sell this day.

“Schutz?” she returns.

“Sisters’ arms fell off?” His observations of reality are rarely true. He hopes this particular one falls within the commonly false.

“They did? I believe I tore them off.”

“Ah.” He lurches forward a bit, trying to stand, but then realizing he is attached to Elly in a compromised sitting position. “#?”

In the meantime, Sister tries out different noises to indicate pain. Some are more believable than others. All are commendable attempts. “Brother - brother, which one sounds best?” she asks him.

“Uh.”

“‘Uh?’ Hm~ That is the sound of a guttural pain. This is traumatic - a fatal wound for a lady such as I.” She studies his aghast face, and relents. “Alright, alright. Perhaps I can make this work…” She cradles her absence-of-an-arm in her absence-of-an-arm. “GUH!?

“Sister!”

“Ease~ It was merely a performance, brother.” Her satisfied smile mingles with concern. “I’m pleased it was believable, but worry not.”

Her words do little to rationalize the sight before him. “Your arms!”

“Mm. Schutz - I don’t have arms,” she corrects him while waving her stumps.

“Yes?! Because Elly - because Elly-?” Several thought processes smash into a wall at once, stunning and scattering them beyond hope for reassembly. Such collisions are inevitable given the nonsensical, melted, thrice-twisted-circle layout of his mind.

“-Wanted to help me practice pain?” Sister helpful continues.

He blinks. “Huh.” ‘Huh’, ‘uh’, and ‘ah’ work over-overtime to fill in where sense of the world ought to be. Alas, they cannot replace every single lost thought, there is not enough dumb sounds in existence.

“Pain - it’s the feeling that tells the body its in danger. But I could never ~quite~ figure it out.” Amid her well-meaning explanation, Sister realizes something important. You can tell by the brilliant way her eyes light up, and how the ground seems to quiver in fear for her next move. The earth capitulates completely, and a newborn, fleshy, distended arm rises from the dust and clay to wield a parasol. Impractical parasol aloft, Sister continues: “Elly saw me studying, and decided to help,” she finishes with a radiant smile.

“Really?” he barks out. For all he wants it to be true, he has to ask.

“Naturally.” Sister answers with all the confidence of her being behind it.

“E - Elly, you meant to help Sister?”

Elly looks at him oddly. “Why would I do that? I’m procreating with Schutz,” she answers.

Sister giggles. “Isn’t she funny?”

Taking Schutz’ dopish silence as enlightenment, the armless sun continues on chipper. “Oh, Elly~ Do my head next. I need the practise. Oh - no, no, humans cannot naturally scream without heads.” She raises one leg up to reveal the other beneath her pajama skirt. Her bare feet are untarnished by the mud they are made from. “Mhm ~ Legs. Do my legs. Humans love having legs,” she orders. In lieu of lost arms, the flowers that now-sprout around her do the pointing.

Unfortunately, if Elly was listening, she was not thinking, and if she were thinking, she certainly did not care for anything Sister said.

“El~l~ly?”

The scarecrow does a good job of acting like a scarecrow.

Sister nods as if hearing something profound. “Oh ~ I see! Unpredictability is key. If I know my legs will be severed, I cannot react naturally. Another time, Elly.” Sister bends to meet Schutz. She regrenerates an arm for what appears to be the sole purpose of giving him a thumbs up. “She’s very thoughtful for an entity so thoughtless,” she tells him.

This is fine. This is fine. Schutz takes to stroking Elly’s supple ears for comfort. She responds in kind. He is inclined to pinch her cheek, so she does the same.

“Try lower,” Sister suggests.

He touches her chin.

“Much lower.”

Neck.

“Low~er.”

A green colossus wanders into the rainshadow with its invisible intestines dragging behind, collapses onto its buttocks, and eventually greets into the dead silence that follows: “I’m Meiling, a youkai gatekeeper and-” It vomits blood into its lap, or it would if it had any left to spare. “- emissary of lady Remilia Scarlet.”

“Here to watch them spawn?” asks Sister.

“No.”

“It’s a wonderful event.”

“It’s… cute.”

Sister nods. “Not as cute as whatever crawls out from its womb afterwards.”

‘What is a womb?’ the man silently asks himself, hand on Elly’s shoulders, head far in the dark clouds above. Elly is enjoying herself enough as is. Her smile is disgustingly wide, and bright enough to beacon at night. Her serpent, a monstrous appendage of darkness, vibrates as a cat’s pur. Though, it sounds more like the rumbling of a volcano about to rupture. The pitter patter of rain is no match for her.

“Names are important. What do you want to call the child?” Meiling asks.

“Antichrist.”

“Christians. . .” The youkai falls to ponder. “The ones with the sticks, silver, and scented oils. Kid will taste bad with a name like that.”

Sister nods. “What’s a good tasting name, youkai?”

“Sakuya..” “Sky..” “Herb..” “Tea..” Meiling thoughtfuly lists on. “Rainbow..”

“Rainbow Antichrist?” Sister suggests.

Sister and Meiling. Schutz thinks. He tries to stop thinking by hugging Elly, but, of course, that does not work. Sister wants Meiling dead? Elly rumble-purs. It hurts his teeth.

“It’s starting~!” Sister shakes Meiling’s shoulders in excitement, likely dislocating the youkai’s arm in the process. Raindrops explode elsewhere.

Meiling falls to the side in a puddle of its own blood. It coughs. Thunder roars. Cursed clouds vomit from its belly unceasing. Its mouth hangs open agape, letting more clouds trickle to the sky. “(. . .)” it mumbles incoherently to an audience of itself and him. No one else here could possibly bother listening.

My friend? I should - what should I do? Sister wants - what?

“Schutz,” a serpent whispers like an embolism passing through a rusted metal vein.

“E - l ly?”

“Schutz forgot where I was again,” she says, attached to him like a burrowing tick.

“I - did?”

“Yes, he thought I was where the other filth is, but I am here, and he remembered I was here when I said Schutz.”

“Ah.” “Ha. Ha.. I said, I said its name is Meiling. Do you not … ?” Remember?

“It looks like anything else, and anything else looks unremarkably disgusting. I’m more good and special to look at, Schutz would think,” she tells him.

“Yes. Yes, but -”
>> No. 31090
/o====================5====================o\

He will make the right person happy.
[A: He looks at Elly, his best friend.] {Elly.}

Some rogue, demonic thought plants an ideal in his mind, where everyone will be fine and happy. He hopes the thought dies before he does something incredibly stupid.
[B: He looks at Elly, his best friend, and bothers Sister.] {Elly. also, tell Sister to fix the youkai} {very reckless}

[C: He looks at someone who is not Elly.] {impossible}

Something infiltrates his private, purple space.

>[URGENT MESSAGE RECEIVED FROM: CITRINE | T:6:20]
>...
>[NAME THE CAT!]
>[/\ /\]
>[|-.-|]
>[\_=/]
>[-CITRINE]
>...

...

|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: Late Afternoon

\o==================8875===================o/

'elly blowjob' is synonymous with suicide in several languages
including English
>> No. 31091
[B: He looks at Elly, his best friend, and bothers Sister.]

The mixture of hilarious and horrifying is fantastic. Elly's route was a mistake and what a show does it make !
>> No. 31092
File 153526018291.jpg - (55.49KB, 711x789, rans final moments.jpg) [iqdb]
31092
[B: He looks at Elly, his best friend, and bothers Sister.]

Elly route is great in the 'be careful what you wish for' sense. The feeling of constant danger is almost palpable. Also, every one who was ever kind to the MC is suffering-or about to.

>"What's a tasty sounding name?"
>"Sakuya"

Oh you!
>> No. 31093
[X]Name the cat chen
>> No. 31094
Your descriptions of things never cease to amuse me. Just trying to picture them is equal parts as difficult as they are intriguing.

Huh. Why do I get this odd feeling Chen will be showing up soon?

>He faces Sister, amasses all of his willpower, re-numbs all of his higher thoughts, and says: “Hello.”

...That is more than a little worrying. I can't tell if that's meant to be in response to the cool air, or if he is forcing is mind to blank for some unknown reason or something.

It's also worrying that he must imitate himself, as if he isn't Schutz any longer. Or maybe Sister isn't so much the apple of his eye as she once was. Clearly Elly has become his world, as indicated by him ignoring Sister's hand in favor of Elly's.

>She keeps talking, but only the vestiges of sentiments permeate the thick, protective barriers underneath his skull.

Okay, seriously, what is going on? That feels new and concerning. I don't remember mention of him protecting the contents of his head so fiercely.

So Sister did make Elly... I had been thinking that, but hearing it from the horse's mouth helps quite a bit. Her design screams it, what with what Elly has hidden under her soiled dress.

...Sister asked the big question. I never expected her to ask if they'd 'procreated'. And I doubly never expected her to be so, uhh... ...enthusiastic about semen.

And now Sister reminds me of a crazy cat lady with a cat that really, really doesn't want to be held. Who is named Elly.

Also, my concerns are becoming increasingly correct: I think Elly is going to kill Sister, or whatever passes for death for mud.

[B: He looks at Elly, his best friend, and bothers Sister.]

Soon he shall be so reckless as to procreate with Elly and/or Elly's serpentine scythe.

Then again, he seems totally up for procreation, if only he knew what it meant. That said, I hope he gets no splinters, should it work.

Actually, her mention of clay makes me wonder... is Elly a golem?
>> No. 31095
What an odd situation. Elly sees Schütz as filth and Schütz sees Elly as an awful sounding scarecrow, yet they've become so close they're nearly procreating.

[X] [B: He looks at Elly, his best friend, and bothers Sister.] {Elly. also, tell Sister to fix the youkai} {very reckless}
Taking the "safe" options of relying on Elly and focusing only on Elly has gotten us into this somewhat terrifying situation. Might as well take risks while we still have some control to speak of. I worry Elly might take what control we have left from us with the way things are going.

>>31093
Chen is a good name. A naughty cat needs a name like Rascal.
>> No. 31096
>>31094
>Also, my concerns are becoming increasingly correct: I think Elly is going to kill Sister, or whatever passes for death for mud.
I don't think that's her real body, if she even has one.
>> No. 31097
>>31096
The power difference between creator and creation seems insane. As much as Elly has become a danger to his safety I fear for her if Yukari realizes she is no longer obedient.
>> No. 31098
Vote to be called 'soon.' The majority of the interested readerbase (4/4~5) has casted judgement.

>>31091
>a mistake
Consider what options you had, and ask if they could have led you anywhere better than here. At least one girl would say 'no.'

>>31092
>Ran's final moments
Death by boredom as she waits for bad-cat names from her favorite-by-default man with an unbefitting German name.

>almost palpable
It's quite palp'd for the one whose innards have eloped with the air.

>>31094
>Your descriptions of things never cease to amuse me. Just trying to picture them is equal parts as difficult as they are intriguing.
Like a guy who likes doing things it's what I like to do. Glad ya like it.

>>31095
>What an odd situation. Elly sees Schütz as filth and Schütz sees Elly as an awful sounding scarecrow, yet they've become so close they're nearly procreating.
It's not odd if you believe Yuuka. Lucky he didn't spend too long with the sake bottle, or Nue's stain. On the matter of control and its loss, you are wise to consider it.
>> No. 31099
File 153538125862.png - (6.67KB, 650x263, meiling mind.png) [iqdb]
31099
because
>> No. 31101
http://www.strawpoll.me/16353131
>> No. 31102
I'm bad at waiting. Judgement set : B.

Here we go.
>> No. 31103
File 153558506518.png - (73.34KB, 720x1280, Screenshot_2018-08-30-09-22-01-25.png) [iqdb]
31103
Just a reminder to make sure you click "Excalibur", the best girl(?), when you vote. 4 people accidentally missed, and it's tragic. Thank you.
>> No. 31104
>>31103
With purple as a waifu, sky's literally the limit.
You can't compete with her, she's everywhere.
>> No. 31105
File 153572954894.png - (46.28KB, 993x799, results.png) [iqdb]
31105
Results. Adjusted for accidental misclicks. Congratulations, Excalibur!

>>31104
Thank you for your incorrect opinion.
>> No. 31106
File 153580681193.png - (52.07KB, 202x249, shoepaca.png) [iqdb]
31106
>>31105
YOU RAILROADING FUCK. I RESERVE THE RIGHT TO BE JUDGEMENTAL AS SHIT AND AS SUCH YOU GET THIS UNNERVING AND SCARY JUDGEMENTAL BEAST.

As a matter of fact, it's a seven-way tie, and you lost.
>> No. 31107
>>31106
I did not railroad, I read the intentions of the audience. The question is 'best character,' so I can fairly assume that voters are intending to vote for the best character. In this case, this is clearly Excalibur. Hence why I corrected for misclicks. You may be upset by the 0.1 vote for 'the color purple', and this is because the person who freely admitted their subhuman intelligence could only possibly count as 10% of a person (a generous overestimate. I personally think they may represent a divergent species of new-world monkey.) I included them out of pity, but don't be alarmed: in a statistical analysis this would be omitted.
>> No. 31108
>>31107
You better stop disrespecting The Lake. Or one day, it might just start disrespecting YOU.
>> No. 31109
>>31108
Friendly reminder that when expressing your opinions to use your brainus not your anus. Thank you.
>> No. 31110
On a serious note: I am the physical manifestation of 'busy' for the next month and a half. I have ~5 scientific reports due in that timeframe alongside 3 exams. I will also be going for a week to the Heron Island research station to stare at corals. I will be 'free' from the 9th of October.

That said, I want to get an update out within 2 weeks.
>> No. 31111
File 153594355338.png - (170.83KB, 1279x875, they hated jesus because he told the truth.png) [iqdb]
31111
>> No. 31112
File 153595049473.png - (28.44KB, 785x536, bestpuppet.png) [iqdb]
31112
>>31111
>Elly

That's the worst misspelling of 'Yuuka' I've ever seen.
>> No. 31113
~2.5~3k in depending on how much I scrap and reuse.

>>31112
Behold, dear readers, Homo stercoregustum. This primate is renowned for consuming its own defecate and using the belches to inspire its opinions.
>> No. 31115
4.5k
>> No. 31117
Done. Unless I make radical reforms, editing and posting tomorrow.
>> No. 31118
Schutz, a self proclaimed and now self-actualizing idiot, had hoped wrong to be otherwise. Would not a point in life where everyone he likes be fine and happy be good? The answer is yes, and the question of feasibility has been asked, answered, and dismissed. All of my friends - all two of my friends, should be fine. Is that too much to ask? Yes. He marvels at how little that answer fazes him, then continues on planning something dumb. Am I really going to-? Yes. Truly? Certainly.

He looks at his best friend, Elly, and in a fit of what could only be described as madness, calls out past his blonde companion, “Sister. Heal Meiling — my friend. Please. Thank you.”

The world proceeds not to explode, much to his surprise.

‘That was not so hard,’ he tells himself. Maybe he exaggerated. All he did was ask Sister to help his friend. Meiling should be healed, and that would be the end of it, right? Of course not. The man battle with himself, armed to the teeth with larval doubt ready to, at any moment, become regret.

“#?” The stale breeze of hell beckons.

“Ah - Elly,” he acknowledges her.

While his mind silently battles, another impetus possess his hands. The calloused digits stroke across Elly's shoulders because they can, and because they can he cannot seem to stop himself. Her shoulders are trim and soft, with little muscle he can feel beneath the fabric. The not-so-helpless Elly counters in tandem. It is a sight absurd and nauseating to watch those twin poles of its arms creek and bend to touch him. Yet her hands, invisible, are soft and comforting as the rest of her.

A lightshow beyond his and Elly’s bubble casts a sunny warmth. Meiling fails to hold back a howl of agony. Schutz remembers the time his broken bones were healed. In comparison, when or why they broke feels irrelevant. He imagines Meiling will feel the same way when Sister is done with them.

“#” his dependant whines.

“Elly.”

She looks at him expectantly.

‘What am I supposed to do?’ he asks himself. His body has the answer to that question. Lower his hands wander, behind her back and into an awkward but not unwanted embrace. Now what? Of course, like Sister would have said, the hands go lower until they reach a pair of mounds. His fingers dig into the delicate mountains. Why am I grabbing her ass? His body can only seem to answer in actions, not logic. In this case, his hands stay there. He realizes his body, too, is confused. Schutz jolts as Elly’s hands grope his ass as well, as justice would decree. Her smile shimmers and distorts like a heat mirage. Her eyes are nothing, yet still manage to look happy. I made her happy, again. Making people happy: it is not something he ever considered within his capabilities. Thanks.. body? We - you - did a good job? His confused hands remain locked on her buttocks, but probably appreciate the encouragement.

Does she exist? Does it matter? Unanswerable questions clink around in his mind like stones down a deep well.

/ Meiling \

Meiling always disliked storms, though it’s more accurate to say she dislikes disasters. She looks to the sky to see it’s storming, and beside her is the embodiment of blind, unbridled power. Hunters, demons, beasts, heroes and villains. Now the maddened earth butts head against my Lady. It will not make it that far. I will stop it. “(I will. I will.)” To the tune of a tired and worn mantra, Meiling, the youkai gatekeeper, does her job, and asks the abomination: “What’s your name?”

“Kazami, Yuuka, flower master of the four seasons,” it answers without looking.

“Kazami. .” The name feels like a forgery on Meiling’s tongue when compared to the oppressive prominence of that monster. “A powerful name. I came here to talk to you…” The most dangerous. The most inhuman. The least negotiable. A storm on the horizon, and a natural disaster unerringly set to turn my lady’s life to dust. “. . to reach an understanding.”

“Still not to watch them procreate?”

Meiling turns to see the couple. They have almost managed to figure out where the parts are meant to go. Another hour. . or two, and they might get it. “Once they start — I will need an appointment to meet them when they are not. . .” The mental image comes to Meiling before the words. It is something like starving dogs taking to meat, or a man finding water in the desert - the image of a young man and a willing outlet. “Breeding.”

“Naturally~” The entity turns to Meiling with a hum and a little imitation of a smile on its face. Its casual gaze is blistering. Its aura is power and nothing else. Meiling feels inclined to kneel, and beg for forgiveness. She does not. “What does my brother’s friend have to say?”

“There’s a mansion over there. .” full of helpless idiots and their queen. “A little vampire lives in it-”

“Lived,” Yuuka corrects. Such a tiny statement, yet it feels like a stamp falling from heaven with a brand of damnation. Judgement is passed. Continuing now is pointless.

“I live there,” continues Meiling. “A girl lives there. . a littler vampire liv-” Meiling pauses as the natural disaster who happens to look like a person giggles. “-lives there. A librarian and her pet lives there.”

“Elly was so busy frolicing with Schutz that she must have forgotten to evict them,” the monster notes to itself with a tone of amusement.

“Yet. . she’s going to be busy. .” Spawning a monster darkest and foul, cursed with a hateful name and fate - yet still second to Yuuka. “Breeding. Perhaps consider waiting until she’s free.”

“Oh no,” the force as unstoppable as changing seasons and merciless as the upset earth almost frowns. “I’ll take a tour myself.” The weakness is identified and eliminated.

Meiling finds breathing difficult. She can’t excuse it to shredded lungs this time. They say Meiling’s treasured belongings are untouchable. She pushes the intrusive conscious aside, and continues speaking. They say Meiling’s wrath speaks more th- “The girl in the mansion makes the best tea. I’d get her to make us some but… ” I can prolong her life by an hour, at least. Meiling can do more than tha- “She’s busy.”

“Tea - that is a human food!” the monster exclaims.

Tastes like the real thing. “Want some?”

“Yes~”

“Well . . . you know the girl is busy, but I know if she knew it’d please you -” The idiot will die for nothing. She would thank me for the opportunity. “- I could make her make you tea,” Meiling continues regardless.

“That might be hard after I remove her.”

Slowly and systematically Meiling dismantles her fists, and her stance that creeps in when she does not watch. ‘Shut up,’ she preemptively tells herself. They say Meiling is deaf to the pleas of the weak.

“Ayep.” — “Have,” Meiling starts.

Destruction is keen to listen, but not to change. Meiling is talking to a wall of dirt. Meiling is much better at destroying walls than convincing them to crumble. She sighs, relaxes her rapidly clenching jaw, and continues: “.. you considered not doing that?”

“Not once,” the wall cheerfully answers.

They say Meiling could make the earth yield to glass with a single blow. Meiling wishes they would stop telling lies. Not minding her tensing muscles, she keeps talking: “Because it would be smart if you did,” because Meiling always knows best. “No. I. . .” Called an idiot and idiot. Meiling looks to see the destroyer unfazed. Its smile is slight and eerily constant. Its eyes burn like the suns that they are. These are eyes that would burn the world to a desert twice over if they escaped their sockets. Right now, they act solely on Meiling. They say Meiling could snuff the sun with a single breath. Breath black as storm’s brink hisses through her teeth. Shut. Up.

“Go on,” Yuuka encourages.

The youkai gatekeeper breathes in. “I suggest you consider sparing the people of the mansion.” Meiling pauses to wonder why - why should the world care? The suns blaze. Remilia’s eyes do the same. They are little sparks. Is it the nature of the nature of the most powerful, idiotic, and unreasonable to kindle a fire in their heart? It shines through the eyes to attract moths. In the reflections of puddles I see - Tangents are cut. “Because of your brother. The mansion is a house of the recovering sick.” Meiling pauses, knowing well that if she says wrong in the eyes on unknowable chaos that she will face judgement. “Schutz is sick.”

“He’s my diseased flower~” proudly hums a merciless earth. It reminds Meiling of a child showing off a favorite toy. It’s broken, and beaten, and covered in muck, but it’s theirs.

The relief Meiling feels at still existing is transient. “My lady is a doctor. Retired, but . .” She’s a romantic idiot. “She likes him. She has a cure.” Meiling pauses for any reaction, but the monster only waits for more.

“If you gave her a chance, she could cure him,” Meiling presses, head and heart heavy.

The monster waits for more. Realizing there is none, it interjects: “I tried considering, but you’re not giving me anything, youkai. But keep trying — you have me curious.”

Meiling has no reason to be frustrated. Meiling is good at breaking things. She can eat people, and beat them to pulp. That is her one, simple given job, and can she manage that? No, she decides to greet a mountain, and tell it to move. Even when considering that, the prideful Meiling has the gall to be frustrated at her impossible, un-asked-for, and self-imposed job of ‘protect Remilia.’ “Gruuuuu- - -” A growl escapes the unreasonable idiot. Lightning forms a spiderweb of strings on the horizon; they strum to a roar of thunder. They say civilisations cower from Meiling’s raised voice. . . shut up.

Meiling knows she can’t convince stormwinds to quell. She knew that long before Kazami Yuuka. That was then, this is ‘Gensokyo.’ So there is something the upstart bruiser can try. “On behalf of the Scarlet Devil Mansion I challenge you to a spellcard duel, Kazami.”

\ Meiling /

‘crik ~ crik ~ crik’

Elly’s ticking and purring is a constant. There is no rhythm; that would make it objectively pleasant. It is more like the spontaneous bursting of gas bubbles from beneath a quagmire of asphalt and death. Minor as it is, it drowns out the rest of the noise. There is only him, Elly, and the monstrous superimposed image before his eyes.He has tried touching places besides her ass, but his hands always end up in the same cushioned spot. ‘It is soft. It must be made for hands to grab,’ he concludes. For some reason this makes him upset. ‘No - just my hands,’ he adds.

“Elly.”

“Schutz,” she instantly replies. Her attention on him is constant and absolute as it always has been since they became friends.

“Am I soft too?” he asks, looking down at himself.

Her face tightens with sudden purpose. Gentle hands feel all over his body. He jolts when she grazes over some places, and can’t suppress a reflexive giggle when she prods others.

Then, she stops. “No,” she answers.

“O - oh.” Composure is regained slowly. “Okay.”

“Does Schutz want to be soft?”

“I -” “Yes. I want to be soft. Like Elly.”

Her thoughts line the next moments with pain. “If I break his body enough it will be a soft pile of filth for me to b-be inside.” She shakes beneath him with unspeakable, imagined pleasure.

/ Meiling \

The initial bindings of spellcard rules extend.

“No. I’m busy,” the natural disaster decrees. Rules turn to wet dust in the rain to figuratively and literally blow back in Meiling’s face. This does not surprise Meiling. All it does is crush her hope. A true monster makes and breaks rules, it does not follow them. Meiling, a youkai who can’t even ‘youkai’ right can’t hope to compete with that; fortunately for no one, it is not for hope she stands here in dumb defiance. “Later?” Yuuka feigns compromise. It may even believe itself.

Talking does not work. Rules and semantics are dust. All Meiling has left are balled fists and rage. Once she realizes this, she suppresses them both. Now she has nothing, and less than nothing when the unstoppable force meets her fragile-yet-bullheaded lady.

Silence passes. The couple continues foreplay, and the Sun watches over them with a big, terrifying smile on its face.

Meiling would sooner break her own treasure before letting it be stolen. She sighs as she remembers something that a human might do in this situation. Meiling takes her pride, shoves it down into her newly-formed stomach, and kneels. For the first time since she became Meiling, she prays. “Please spare them.” Tremors in her body advise her to leap up and uppercut the abomination, or to do something, anything, but beg. Her hands are kept shackled to the ground nonetheless.

“Mm ~ no. My brother needs a home, and that home should be a house. It’s one of those strange and wonderful human things.”

Prayer is as useful as it was for the priests who found themselves being eaten limb by limb by a certain overprotective gatekeeper. Meiling is not Remilia. Meiling can’t fix problems. So Meiling should tear them apart! She does not. The insides of her violent mind are scraped for things to say besides ‘die.’ She will run out soon, but for now: “Humans sometimes live together. We can live together.”

The sky growls. That is until it is made to shut up by the monster. The world holds its breath, rain pauses, and lightning freezes mid strike, but not for long: “Good idea!”

Lightning, unfrozen, meanders in the sky before dissipating with hardly a whimper. It takes a lot to render the sky lost for words. Too, the kneeling Meiling is at a loss. Meiling should use fists! No. No she shouldn’t. She says the first thing that comes to mind, “Obviously.”

\ Meiling /

Schutz wonders what it would be like to be torn into shreds. He dreads more being forced back together by Sister - again. There is no doubt he would survive, however. “I . . .”

For the act of opening his mouth to speak, he invites Elly to lean in with anticipation.

He does the logical thing, and spits on her face. “There?”

“Sch-schut~z##!” A choir of birds and rusted blades intersects for a massacre of noise.

The man is jettisoned to the ground with her descent. He presses against her with all the force of her arm strength around his back. Maybe he would shout if much air were left in his lungs. Though the wheezing sound he can summon is more equivalent to laughter than shock - victorious laughter, at that. Expending the rest of the air left in his lungs is not the most intelligent act. Elly will not, and if like him, cannot, let go. The difference is she is stronger than him on a scale between here and the sun behind the clouds. She twitches beneath him like a crushed insect. Her smile made of vague nightmares clenches as a globule of his spit dribbles from her nose, and down through her infinitely spanning and self-consuming rows of teeth.

There exists a lady, his lady, beneath him. He made her very, very happy, he sees. That is truly something I can do now. When did this happen? Does it matter? More thoughts clink down the well.

He does the logical thing - he unfastens a hand pleasantly sandwiched between her ass and the relatively less soft ground, moves it to her head, and strokes her hair. Why this is logical he is not completely sure, but his body has given good advice so far.

Her breathing is hushed and quaking. “Sch~utz.”

There is also the matter of fact he can hardly breath at all. “egg - hy”

She huffs, and tries to speak. “I wanted to say Schutz. Schutz.” Every time she says it, she fidgets beneath him a little more. “Schutz.” She reaches behind his head, and shoves him into her breast. By mysterious consequence, more saliva slobbers from him. He mumbles nothings into the softness, which succeeds only in spreading fluids. ‘But this isn’t food?’ he notes. Saliva flows uncaring. Is my body trying to tell me something again? He does not get it, but Elly gets his saliva. She fidgets below him, shallowly gasping. “(schutz~schutz~schutz~)” The cycle continues. Luckily he is breathing to survive it.

/ Meiling \

Meiling and Yuuka watch the couple do what couples their age ought to do - flail around in an awkward, vaguely pleasant way. Still lost for exact words, the youkai speaks because it got her this far: “What’s your favorite tea?”

“Mm, whichever one Schutz likes.”

“Troglodyte hasn’t tried any. Doesn’t know what he’s missing out on.”

“So ~ How does a youkai like tea?”

“Herbal.”

“I tried eating plants, but-” Yuuka pauses, and turns to meet Meiling. For the first time, the monster shows genuine concern in the form of a furrowed brow. “I couldn’t judge whether cannibalism was inhuman or not.”

“Sometimes it is. Sometimes it isn’t.”

The earth gives birth to a flower, which is immediately plucked and eaten by the monster. “What about now?”

“Were you starving?” Meiling asks.

“Nope.”

“Was it your sworn enemy?”

“Nope.”

“Are you insane?”

“Nope~”

Meiling shrugs. “Ehh. Might still be a human thing to do anyway.” She looks back to the mansion, obscured by rain and wind. “Ask Patchouli. She would have a book on it. Set aside about. .” Meiling thinks back to Sakuya’s bitchings regarding the librarian. “Eight hours for the explanation. Nodding along won’t make her go faster. . If you manipulate time she will account for it. . If you don’t notice the smell of rotten egg at first, you will within eight hours.”

“I shall!”

“She lives in the house.”

“Could she talk for longer than eight hours?”

“Do you have more than one open ended question?” Meiling asks.

“Yes.” “Hm~” It makes an exaggerated show of pondering. Did it just copy me? “Why don’t humans eat themselves when they’re starving?”

Meiling blinks, then nods to affirm the original question. “Patchouli can talk.” This is one of the absolutes in the world.

“Wonderful.” On that note, the destroyer returns to watching the foreplay.

. . .

“So we’re going to live together?”

“Certainly.”

I was wrong. How convenient. Miracles are performed by gods and Remilia, not Meiling. Yet here Meiling is, convincing the earth to spin the other way. “. . Good idea,” she says. “My lady will be here soon. She will be delighted. All according to her plan - maybe - probably.” Meiling has done her job. She freely lets go of her body, and crumples backward into the mud. Through upside-down eyes she sees her home. It doesn’t seem so far away now. This is what I get for acting like a stubborn little girl rather than stubborn man eating beast? Not bad. Meiling is the best! Sometimes, maybe. Such as right now. Lightning crackles in the distance, and booms thunder reminiscent of laughter.

Fear Meiling! Meiling is unstoppable! They say Meiling survived Death; they say her will moulds the earth itself!

Shut up. The sky laughs at her. Meiling groans into the mud.

\ Meiling /

One hand on the ass, the other in her hair, and his persistently drooling mouth sidelong against her breast. This is not precisely how Schutz imagined spending time with Elly. He wonders what happened to boats and dresses and staring sessions. The important thing is he is not complaining, not one bit. I like this? I think. Philosophy is stilted by the twitchings and gaspings of his lovely eyesore, Elly. He is making her happy. I like this. . I like this.

A stab at the back of his mind tells him he has a message. It is ignored. Still, it remains an annoying reminder of there being a world outside the cryptically pleasant feeling of Elly’s ass.

The dazed man lets his eyes wander away from the indents in Elly’s dress, and towards his Sister and the green beast, Meiling. They both look happy - if a dumpy green bag of darkness can be in a state comparable to happy. And it’s no longer leaking. Sister healed it. Everything is fine. Everything is fine!

“Sch~utz.”

He attacks Elly with a nuzzle into her soft chest. Everything is fine. Everything will be fine. Schutz is one who invites all his thoughts and beliefs to criticism. It is the nature of paranoia - the kind tempered from birth to an inflexible, mind ruling state at maturity. Nothing goes unchecked, least not the raw stupidity it took for him to excrete ‘everything will be fine’ from his mind. That cannot do, his paranoia, his oldest companion, would know. ‘Reimu,’ it starts strong, then twists the knife, ‘Sister. Doomed. Fish. Ice. Ran. Curse.’

“Schutz.”

“Elly?”

“What’s wrong?”

He looks to see a twisted, wide-eyed monster look back at him. Nothing has changed. As long as he lives everything is going to die. She promised she would remember, remember? Convincing himself that she knows anything of the weight she promises is another matter. Overwhelmed, he buries himself further into her body.

“Schutz? Schutz? Schutz?”

“Mpghmhh--” he groans.

/ ~<O>~ \

The worst possible inevitability happens at the worst possible time. He feels the warm body latched to him lose its mass, and turn cold as the grave. His face falls into hard sticks beneath cloth. His hand grabs nothing but cloth. The hair he strokes feels more like frozen straw.

“My brother, you smell of fear. You’re supposed to smell of lust and boyhood,” Sister overhead alerts him. “Remember to imagine it’s not Elly. Imagine ~ ‘human female with breedable proportions.’ That will help,” she tells him. He can feel her well-meaning smile.

“Schutz? Schutz?” Elly continues.

Coldly, through crumbling hope and optimism, he unlatches. Shivers rock his body, shivers of cold, shivers of something less physical. “A-h,” is the sound wind makes through his throat. “It,” he spits out to himself only. “Happened.” At last, doubt becomes regret. Sorry Reimu. I am so sorry.

“Schutz?”

“Ell-y.” Two dead eyes in his sockets are shocked periodically to align themself back to his best friend, what should be his best friend - the girl he is kneeling on top of. He cannot feel it because only her stick runs between his legs. There is no flesh or warmth. “Oh. Hello. Elly.” He knows just enough of what is happening to hate it, but not enough to know what to do.

“Hello Schutz.”

His gaze shifts to his Sister. He promised himself and her she would never be involved. This is his problem, despite the fact it hurts everyone else. “I-” Words fail.

“Hm~?”

“I broke it.”

“What’s it?” Elly asks.

“It - is . . is . . .” Muscles in his face break so to force something of a smile. “Hello. Elly.”

“Yuuka.”

“Hm~?”

“There’s a nugget of bile on my dress, and why do I want it there? Did you scramble my mind for a joke again? Is it funny?” Elly laughs mechanical birdsong through proxy of snake.“It’s funny.”

She doesn’t remember, or - or what? She promised to remember by his browbeating. Why would the curse preserve a promise? It kills everyone. The man stares into Elly’s lack of eyes. He slides his hand from her hair, around an empty eye socket, and down to her triangular nose. It is smooth, cold, and broad. Slowly, he pushes the pyramid in, then relaxes. That is not a nose he remembers.

“Not at all,” says Sister. “Ask Schutz.”

“Schutz.”

“Elly?” he responds airily.

“Did you scramble my mind for a joke as the mudpile would?”

The serpent eaks in with curiosity. He considers touching it, but suicide is as commonly thought as it is rejected for him.

“. . No.”

“Then Elly enjoys being ravaged by sewage of the form of Schutz. I should have become not-invisible to him sooner, the one who is useless and does not know what Elly is.”

Useless.

“What-” he starts. “Do you think you are?”

“Elly. Lady injustice, and the one Yuuka finds hilarious, and the one humans find at the end of their lives, and the one who now seems to like being physically violated by the ignorant one ‘He who is useless and does not know what Elly is.’”

Useless. A number of events happen at once. It is the sort of miracle that inspires beautiful things in the right people. Schutz is anything but the right person. This spark of inspiration within him, a miracle fusion of accidents and mistakes, rises from the deep, rotting well of his mind. Its body is darkness, and its will entirely selfish. In the books Sister gave him, he remembers the image of the dragon, a worm of selfish evil. This ‘dragon’ inside him gives him the reckless will to continue, so he uses it. Be useful, moron. Fix it, moron. Moron. Moron. Moron.

{VOTE NULLIFIED. RECKLESS PATH SET.}

“Wrong.”

“#?”

“You - you do not remember, but -”

“I remember yesterday, and the yesterdays before yesterday, and the yesterdays before those. I am Elly,” she tells him. It is all static to him.

“Ha - ha . . haha,” dead and carved-out laughter escapes the wilful boy. “Wrong - incomplete. Again.”

“Schutz.”

“Elly.”

“Are you going to tell me a lie? Humans make interesting lies, and I will believe it if it’s interesting.”

“Believe me. Elly is my best friend. She is good. Nothing else,” he tells her.

“But I am —” Elly stops abruptly. “I am - I am —” She tries again. The rest of the words simply do not come.

“Good,” he tells her.

The monster brings its two poles up to its nonexistent eyes, moves it closer, and closer, and closer - until, the end of a pole fits inside. “I am-” She feels for breasts that do not exist. “I a-am -” She notices the snake that speaks for her.

“Elly - do you — do you remember?”

“Schutz, Schutz, I-” Elly freezes, staring petrified at her own writhing, mechanical, screeching organ. “I remember - I am, I. . am?”

“Elly - it is fine, Elly. If you remember, then -” He strokes her icy straw hair for comfort. A smile is forced, partially true, and partially because it should be true. “Everything is fine.”

Except, not. “##I. AM. I am - I am - I am - I am - I am - I am - I am - I am - I am - I am - I am - I am - I am - I am - I am - I am - ####””##I am? #”####I - AAA###A”####m?” The leviathan knots into itself, over and over and over until it falls into the ground. The sea serpent drowns in its own ocean.

Schutz has made a mistake. The reckless will inside him flees, avoiding all responsibility. The scream inside his mind is not his own, but he feels its budding pain like it was.

“Schu#tz,” a knotted, twisted leviathan whines.

“. . E - ll - y?” The sound is in his teeth, it flows through his blood, it melts his eyes from the inside, and eats the marrow within bones.

“Put me back in the flesh, and blood, and fluids, and warmth, and softness, and pretty gold eyes, and stupor, and goodness, and specialness - and - put me back, and put me back, and put me baAA###A#”#”#”#”#”#”””##”“AAAAAAAAAAA##AAA###############A##################A###”
No, no, no - “no - elly, i-”
“#####################################################################################################################################################
##################A###################################################################################################################################
######################################################################################################################################################
####################################################################################,” a monster pleads and cries. The world proceeds to explode.

“You did break ‘it,’” Sisters’ chiding voice supersedes all.

“#####################################################################################################################################################
######################################################################################################################################################
######################################################################################################################################################
######################################################################################################################################################
######################################################################################################################################################
######”

‘Fix it, moron.’ One last thought.

“################## ### # # #”
\ ~~~ /

Violet falls from the sky at his command, and covers all in purple ice.

“—” Schutz would talk, but it does not happen. He would hear, but that also does not happen. He would think, but his brain melted. He would die, but Sister will not let him.
>> No. 31119
what the fuck
>> No. 31120
After that, I'd wish I could die too.
>> No. 31121
I must leave you all here for a while. I'm busy.
>> No. 31122
Off to an island to do research stuff. May actually be able to do a bit of writing there!
>> No. 31123
Man, what hot foreplay. I wasn't expecting the explosive finish, but knowing Schutz, I guess I should have.

So, no vote, huh? How ominous, this route lock. If only we screwed Elly instead of up. Or made a boat. I was looking forward to that boat.

Honestly, I've nothing much to comment on. Not for lack of thing happening, but that the happening was very... well, it felt unfinished. Like being given half a puzzle.
>> No. 31125
While on the island doing research I got job offer to work for the government. All is well.
>> No. 31126
Home, etc. Will be working on it now. Have three scientific reports to write in a short period of time, but I can do it.
>> No. 31128
I have read the entirety of the story over a few days. It is enjoyable, though somewhat confusing. I am quite dense, so I am not sure I get everything through Schütz's unique perspective, but I still enjoy reading it. However, I am somewhat disappointed previous voters did not make asking what a conversational partner looked like into a running thing. I would have enjoyed that, I think, as I enjoyed Elly's and Meiling's reactions.

Fucking phone autocorrect fuck off.
>> No. 31129
Ayo. Consistently surprised new people even find this given it has fermented on the site for a while now, and there's no advertisement/publicity whatsoever. Glad ya like it. As long as people enjoy it and vote with a functioning, non-myopic brain (or at least don't drag others down with em) I'm happy.

Not understanding things is the set standard. You're fine.
>> No. 31130
This update is proving particularly difficult to write. I would not say this if it were not to the point of being irksome. Several hours with little to show for it.
>> No. 31132
5k. Posting tomorrow after I go over it and such. Delay is well-justified by workload and other factors, though it is a shame it happened.
>> No. 31133
/ his personal hell \

“. . That kid -” “That child -” “His son is -” “- his mother -” “Poor kid.” “what a-” “Kid. Child. Son. Idiot. Burden. Retard -”

The kid knocks the back of his head against a tree. The forest is a place where bad things go. Worrying about being bad makes no sense here. He is in bad company. That being the case, he is always happy here - relatively, at least.

It is that time of day.

That girl arrives.

“Hey,” she greets.

He considers for longer than her patience, then speaks. “. . You.”

“Yep. Me.” And he knows she isn’t going anywhere unless she gets what she wants.

The boy gets off the stiff corpse he was sitting on. It bleeds dryly out of the wound in its heart. “. . Meat. I caught a . . meat.”

“It’s a boar.”

“I caught a .. boar?” He dispels confusion with certainty. “You want it.”

She nods, and digs around inside her dress to pull out a mass of paper. She counts five seals slowly by finger. He takes them. She tears off a leg from the ‘boar.’ It’s too much for a little girl, but evidently not too much for her. The boy’s clothing is slowly being eaten by seals.

This is when she should leave - but before that, he has something he should do. She’s too thin. “Take it.”

“Wah?”

He nudges the corpse.

That girl looks at him weirdly, like he just insulted her intelligence. He sees little to insult. She is dumb to come here, and dumb to talk to him. She’s hungry. He frowns, then nudges the corpse again. It does not budge in the least.

The girl locks hands together. The look on her face is that of one facing a potential predator, though she is not scared. If anything, she looks annoyed. “Not giving you more seals.”

“Okay. Take it.”

Her face scrunches from cynical curiosity to earnest befuddlement.

He considers saying something, but realizes he has nothing to say.

Slowly, the girl’s resistance whittles away until all there is left for her to do is shrug. She marches forward, and takes the mass of boar behind her, dragging it like a sack of air. The look she gives him is inquisitive, as if he might at any moment charge to take it away.

He waves. Go away.

That girl does not leave like she should. She stands there looking weird at him with a ‘boar’ on her back, what little of it can fit.

“Bye,” he orders her.

She shakes her head, but it does little to help. She gets purple hair all over her eyes. “. . Bye.” That girl leaves. The confusion never left her face.

She should not be here. That thought ends when he catches sight of the true prize in his little hands. Colored paper - slips of safety. The youkai do not like it. He thinks about where to add to add the new seals. Having a choice makes him happy. Forcing poison fruit and flesh down his throat is something to worry about later.

=====

The purple sky is covered by trees. He likes that about the forest. It has been seven nights. So it is the usual time of day.

She arrives.

“Hey.”

“Hey,” he mirrors, then adds his usual greeting, “You.”

She looks at him weirdly. “Hakurei.”

She said her name. Nothing else registers to him.

Lost, he points to dead meat

“I got a . .” He waits.

“Bear.”

“I got a bear.” The boy nods to himself, satisfied. “A bear. Another bear.”

The usual, wordless transaction is made, or it would be if she did not keep insisting he take half. A mutilated, half-corpse is left like a cat’s prize at his feet. He pokes it, grumbling silently. Trying to make her take it is pointless.

The girl sits down near him. Her teeth are red with blood. He wonders, not for the first time, why she is not retching from a sore stomach. Maybe this meat is fine? These type of questions are the ones that make potential poison appetizing. All he has concluded is that hunger is annoying. He eats ‘enough,’ and precisely that. He knows because he is not dead yet.

He watches the girl take another bite of the poisonous bear flesh.

He tries some himself. His hunger is wrong, again. The meat is not fine; it tastes like pain, but if he eats it slowly he knows he will not spit it up, maybe.

Looking at the dumb girl, and containing the ball of sickness in his throat, he realizes something. “You look less dead.”

The girl’s brow scrunches, which is then hidden as she buries her teeth in for another bite.

“I’m the shrine maiden of Hakurei. Dying isn’t allowed.”

“Of . . course.” He thinks very hard. “You just pretended for . . more food, yeah.”

Her eyes visibly widen behind a chunk of bear flesh. “What?”

He has nothing else worth saying, so he stares into nothing in particular.

“I never pretended,” she pushes.

“Then.” “I — sorry. Sorry.” The ground is nice to look at. If he waits long enough he can imagine himself inside it.

“Yep.”

He hears her go back to eating.

“Long as you have my seals you won’t die either,” she continues. “Follower.”

He frowns at dirt.

“What is - that?” the question worms out of him.

He cannot see her face, though he can imagine that quizzically patronizing look of hers. Coming to terms with the sorry fact not everyone is savvy as her, she speaks. “You offered me . . stuff. I give you protection. That’s how it’s supposed to work.” She holds up a chunk of flesh. “You get it?”

“. . Yeah.”

She nods. “So you’re a follower.”

“Oh.”

The girl nods, uncontested and therefore absolutely correct.

Silence passes. He looks at the seals eating his tattering sleeves like tape. They make him feel safe. Then he looks at the girl. She makes him feel weird. Now she stares back at him, a perplexed, expectant look on her face.

“Your hair is ugly,” he tells her, not sure what to say but the obvious.

The girl takes a liking to staring at the flesh in her hands. He wishes it stayed that way, as a look as ugly as her hair is directed at him. Blood dribbles down her chin, and stains her face. Then, all at once, she relaxes. She is no less terrifying, and also no less terrifying than most monsters in the forest. “S’ a dumb thing to say.”

“W-why?”

“Because it’s not true. Moron.”

“O - oh.” The child would relent, if only he were not himself. “But it is purple,” he counters, emboldened by an absolute truth. Is it? That notion is enough to make him want to vomit. Then, as memories flow, want becomes need, and need becomes a puddle in front of him. It is filled with little black pellets.

“Ah,” the little boy notes to himself. “This bad - thing. Again.”

“Hey.”

He stares at wet dirt.

“Hey, hey!”

The girl shakes the shoulder of the kid-made-statue.

“Hey,” he replies with cadence like wind escaping a bag.

The girl remains quiet. She does not leave like she should. Telling her to leave feels like a bad idea to him. Bad ideas are what he has. “You can go,” he reminds her.

“You just vomited blood.”

Stating the obvious must be her hobby, too.

“You need help.”

“I . .” Where? Who? Vague faces stare down at him from above. He shies from their judging gazes.

The girl is quiet.

“Am I going to die?” he asks. It has been on his mind for a long time. That should be an answer itself, but it is not enough for the kid in constant, living terror.

Time passes slowly before she replies, “Nope.”

He nods, not satisfied, but accepting the fact she has an opinion.

She senses something, and it makes her displeased. “I can do it,” she tells him. “I can help.”

Time passes ineffectually to him.

The girl rises to the challenge. “Really. I’ve beat up heaps of stuff worse than - sickness.” She pauses, and flicks her hair. “An . . . evil big blue freak with wings. An evil green witch. An evil green ghost. Another . . green . . person.” She points at him resolutely. “Don’t trust the green freaks.”

“W. . what?”

“Greenheads.” She smiles for what might be the first time he has ever seen. “Well - it’s not that you’re lucky to not see them. Since I beat them up.”

“Why?”

The blank look on her face tells him ‘why’ is not something she thinks about often. “They kept bugging me,” she improvises, nodding in agreement with her own conclusion.

“Ah.”

“If they bug me they could’ve bugged anyone.”

“Are they - greenheads - scary?”

“Pft. I don’t get scared.” She pauses, makes an evaluation, then continues, “You’d have been so scared though.”

“Oh.” “I . . would not like that.”

“One of them . . Yuckuza - yakuza?” She flicks her fringe. “Yep. Yakuza. Kept running away.”

“Why?”

She is prepared this time. “Since I kept trying to beat it up. It was really frustrating.”

“Yeah - yeah,” he nods empathetically, and grasps this opportunity to say something even slightly pertinent, “I hate it when prey runs away.”

“I know right!” Reimu exclaims. “And when I finally got it - it - it turned to dirt.”

“How?”

“I - kept hitting it in the head with my gohei - then it just —” She holds her bloody ams out. “Poofed?"

“. . Into dirt?”

“Ayep.”

The boy shakes his head, knowing the struggle. Dirt. He tried eating that once. He also tried eating that twice. “Useless.”

“Yep! Greenheads are just - useless.”

“It sounds like it.”

“I got them all though.” Pride shines brilliantly through a blood-tinged smirk.

“Thank you. I - think?”

The little girl is quiet for a bit. Thoughts visibly bounce around in her head through the little tics in her brow. “You’re welcome!?” The words exit abruptly and awkwardly, which she covers with a cough, “So - if a greenhead is around, just . . shout really loud until I come and deal with it.”

He needs no more convincing. “I will.”

“Bring an offering though. I don't — shouldn't - do this for free.”

“Okay.”

“Good.” Her eyes widen. “Wait.”

“What?”

“You distracted me.”

“. . Uh.”

“You’re still sick,” she accuses.

“It is . . fine.”

“Hmm-” She looks him in the eyes, persistent despite his aversiveness. Her face contorts, then goes stony. “Are - you?” — “Beh,” she dismisses, then recedes.

“. . Beh?”

“B - e - h,” she accentuates. “I’ll solve it alright. I’ll do something about - this.” She extends her arms out to show how big whatever ‘this’ is. 

He opens his mouth, closes it, thinks, then mumbles, “. u - h.”

“Don’t worry about it. I’ll do something about it.”

He nods, slowly, accepting the fact those were, in fact, words. The meaning remains lost to him. Do what? Die.

“Thank you,” he says anyway.

She meditates on what ought to be a simple phrase, then returns, “You’re welcome.”

“You’re welcome,” he mirrors, not sure what to say.

Her look tells him that was not it.

He shrugs.

The boy knocks his head against the tree behind him, wondering what just happened. The girl does the same.

\ his personal hell /
>> No. 31134
It hurts. He hears something because Sister decided his ears had to stop being mush.

“Schütz, Schütz! Why am I crying? Is it because this feels good?” His newborn ears are defiled on delivery.

His first forcefully regenerated eye tells him a significant portion of his body has melted. He sees what might be an eye. It is hideous, so hideous he has to look away. Water gushes down from above out of what must be a sick weather god. The earth is a brown slosh. Lightning tears across the land and sky, and shakes the liquefying earth with sound and fury that can scarcely be captured in essence through words alone.

“Haaaaaaah,” he groans out through remade throat. It hurts. Before he thinks he was screaming. He is lucky that he was not capable of thinking then. “-waaaaaaaahhhhh.”

“Schütz! Schütz! Sch---” Prattles a personalized symphony of twisted metal. “Schütz! Schütz! Schütz---”

“Haaaah - haaaaah - haah - haaaah -” Breathing is not difficult, physically, yet he still has trouble. What a moron. “Waaaaaaaaa-”

“Schütz?” drones a terrible voice.

“Schütz?” prods a supernal voice.

The boy cries meaninglessly. The rain stops mid air, incapable of hiding his tears.

“Is Schütz happy too?” Elly asks.

“What’s wrong?”

“Schütz? Schütz?”

“Brother?”

Schütz. Brother. Moron. Schütz. Brother. Moron. Schütz. Brother. Moron. Schütz. Brother. Moron. Schütz. Brother. Moron. Schütz. Brother. Moron. “SHUT UP.” His shouts are lost to rain and thunder. Yet, he can hear the pounding of his own heart like a storm god’s drumbeat. He tells that to shut up too. It does not, so he curses it. Die. He blinks. Blinking reminds him of sleep, and sleep reminds him of failure. This sensation is not new to him, and he hates it from the bottom of his soul. “Raaaah--- haaah -- haaah --”

‘Criik ik ik’ a girl impulsively criks below him.

He mumbles a greeting eaten by the enraged sky. His heartbeat is louder still.

The boy looks around, lost and looking for nothing. He sees his Sister. She is teaching the corpse of a green bag how to scream, again. Meiling is hurt. Sister is already fixing it.

“Haah - haaah - haah,” he breathes, and cries, and sniffles. Moron.

“Schütz? Schütz? Are you okay? Schütz? Are you -” the wretched scarecrow drones below him a painful litany.

“Hhhaaah - haaah - haaaaah,” no reply comes from in.

Elly, ‘his’ Elly, is below him, coated in a thick film of what can only be described as filth. His former body still twitches in places. She twitches along with it.

“So - loud - I cannot think. . .” he mumbles words he can barely hear to the tune of thoughts he cannot understand.

“Schütz? Schütz? Schütz -”

The boy jerks his arm up, then lets it rest on Elly’s mouth. Her face is soft, and her breath is hot and moist. This is how it should be, before he broke everything. “Sorry.”

“Schütz?”

He falls down from kneeling unto the wet carcass of his former body and Elly. “Elly.” She should hear it now, beside him. He should not be here, but he cannot bring himself to move.

“Schütz!” she joyfully hurts his ears.

“I am so sorry, Elly. I - am sorry - I —” The sorries spill out like blood from his wounded mind.

“Why would Schütz be sorry when I am happy? Is it because he did not explode on top of me sooner? It is good and fine and I forgive him - and please do this whenever he wants,” she prattles on, beautifully ignorant.

He sobs into the mud beside her face. The girl twitches underneath him in the unconstrained throes of pleasure. Dying here would suit him. I hurt Elly. I killed Elly. Nothing can make that an-untruth. He thought he could live on if Elly was happy about it. Except, now he has to live on anyway, and Elly is going to suffer no matter what. Because - because . .? Because I exist? What can I do? His thoughts actively stab him in the head.

The boy lies here a while. Elly is warm. He wonders how long that will be the truth, until she breaks again.

“Hmm~?”

The worlds demands he revolves his neck, and behold the being above him. Sister is like the sun: radiant, merciless, unchanging. Absolutely nothing has changed since the day they met, no matter how much he begged or cried, nothing ever changed, so he learnt to accept it. What she thinks and says is absolute, so calling it perfect is the only way to cope. These are thoughts usually locked tight, but now they leak out like acid into his head. “Shut . . up,” he tells his leaking thoughts.

“Sis - ter?” Why? There is no point asking, and there never was. “Why?” He does anyway. His voice is muted by storm, but she smiles as if she heard. That says nothing of her care.

“My Brother, you -” She gestures at Elly. “Forgot something?”

The boy forces his eyes away from the sun to look at Elly. He wishes to think she is smiling back, but all her face is really doing is fidgeting madly. “Elly,” he identifies.

“Schütz~!” Elly identifies.

“You were about to do something, hm?” Sister prods.

The boy thinks. It hurts, so he stops. He looks at the radiant Sun blankly.

“You were going to make me more friends~!” She beams.

“Ha aaah?”

“Procreate.” He can tell this is a big hint because she leans closer, nearly exploding with personal radiance.

“What is - that again — I - I cannot think. Apologies - sorry.”

Sister tilts her head, then giggles. “You do not need to think to procreate, Schütz,” she tells him. “Just imagine you are an Escherichia coli laden with the fertility factor, and Elly is anything except Elly.”

“Ah.” He nods. “W-what?”

“It was in a book I read.”

“Ah.” . . . “What?”

“Hm~ It will be easier if you read it yourself. I’ll go get the book! Hold your lust until my return, Brother!”

In a flash of reality-smashing indifference Sister is gone. Her old body slops into mud. There is the matter of fact she was the only force stopping the downpour - so now the lesser of nature’s furies takes back its reigns, and beats him into the earth with fistlike raindrops. The boy feels a ton lighter. Now he only must endure the weight of his head, which, tragically, still leaves him pinned on the ground like a toddler. “Haaaah. .” he sighs with relief. The loss of a minor burden is a burden lost still. Sister is - Sister is what? The mental connection happens without consent. A burden.

“Schütz.”

“. . Elly?”

“If Schütz is crying can he cry inside my mouth?”

“I - suppose - yes, I can, I think?” Only, it is raining so hard he might drown if he keeps lying down. “We - we should get up. Yeah.”

His legs are not one to follow his advice. The boy slides around quite a bit, not sure how to operate his body amidst the storm of other thoughts in his head.

“Schütz - my disturbed friend,” echoes a different voice from above. It is grainy, heavy, and rumbling.

“Meil - ing. Meiling. It is - Meiling,” he tells himself repeatedly, affirming the difference between thought and reality. The boy squints at the green colossus, still not sure

He notices much later the beast has offered him an arm. After much thought, most of them unrelated to the current situation, he takes it. Meiling pulls him up with surprising gentleness.

He stands, dazed. Standing up is phase one of his plan. The other phases remain in arrested development.

“It’s raining,” says Meiling. Its voice does not supersede the storm, rather, it feels part of it as if a series of raindrops fell in just the right order to make those words possible.

Stating the obvious calms him, especially if there is someone else to tell him what the obvious is. “Yeah. It is.”

“I don’t know why, but I know this is my fault.” Meiling’s gormless, void-like mouth gapes skyward.

“Ah.” His friend is correct. The youkai exploded, and rain fell out. “S - sorry,” he automatically blurts out.

The beast sighs in tune with the wind.“And, you know, it’s easier to blame myself than . . you.” It shrugs. “You — whatever you did - Remilia can mend it. Remilia can mend anything.”

He mutters vaguely, nothing.

“Do you prefer to sleep outside, flower?”

“Ahh - I - yeah - yeah.”

“I will arrange it. Otherwise my lady will force you into one of those cots.”

“Oh.”

“In the garden the grass is soft . . the trees cast shade . . the maid brings food . . . sometimes dumb people die, but that it what dumb people do.”

“Sometimes,” he, the living proof, repeats.

“Sometimes dumb people live long enough to realize they’re dumb.” Meiling drifts on through thought. “I will be there too. I can teach you how to . . not much. Meiling has little worth teaching,” the youkai rambles on. “They say Meiling survived death - but only because a bigger tyrant decided she should.”

The boy shoves aside his raging thoughts for a moment. “Meiling - are you - are you fine?”

The youkai looks from the sky to him. “I could eat a nation, I would eat a nation. . . I won’t eat a nation,” it answers. “So long, friend. I . . am going to force a maid to turn this lake to tea.” The green beast waves vaguely at the lake, then waddles off like a baby bird. The rain soon obscures its huge image.

“Bye,” he mumbles at the sheets of rain.

“Schütz,” calls a terrible voice from below. It could be mistaken as a demon from a hell, had he not looked down and confirmed it to also be Elly.

“Elly?”

“I didn’t destroy your friend!” she proudly proclaims.

“Ah.”

“And I really wanted to, and I really didn’t!”

“Ah.” He frowns, shaking away the flies that are his thoughts again. “Elly - that is good. Thank you.”

She creaks with contentment at his words. The viscera coating her body shimmers with the lightning spiralling above.

“Oh - Elly . . why are you still down there?” The boy stretches out his arm to the scarecrow before he realizes why that is such a dumb idea.

The girl takes his hand, hoists herself up, and does not, nor will she ever, let go. He feels the warmth of her skin like a countdown until inevitable cold.

“Schütz.”

“. . Elly?”

“You said Elly could do this,” she preempts. Elly bends forward, pressing into him deeply. The boy feels something hot and wet on his cheek. Desperately, he closes his eyes, not wanting to see what is. Up and down, the girl savors his tears. “It tastes so disgusting, and I can’t stop drinking,” she says.

“A - ah,” he mumbles out. That is a mistake.

The curious bird spots a worm. That worm is his tongue, and she strikes. It cannot be called a kiss, it is more like a siphon, and though she is not violent she is not soft either. She sucks and stirs. Her tongue explores his mouth for traces of filth, and it happens that is all the boy is made from in her eyes.

“GLEGH!!!” he sputters, and by consequence coughs more of what she wants into her greedy mouth. Escape is impossible, though he admits, somewhere in his tired head, that this is not entirely unpleasant. She tastes like cool, fresh water.

She releases. He coughs and gags.

Both of them are made dumbstruck.

“I##” her words are eaten by an ear-tearing moan. “I like Schütz. I like Schütz!” She hugs him.

“. . I like Elly.” I hurt Elly. On cue, she nuzzles up to lick his budding tears. His insane laughter mixes with harsh breath.

Like Meiling would say: ‘it is raining.’ Muddy water begins to lick at his ankles. Dazed as ever, the boy gathers his belongings. He notices the sake gourd, and swiftly makes it just an ordinary gourd. Flesh coated arrows are left along with a knife. The bow is the only thing that can fit on him. He stands there in the rain with Elly fawning over him like a honeyeater. The question of what do next is followed by a dozen voices in his head murmuring in unison: ’you should die.’

At some point, Sister returns. The rain ceases to fall on him, but now the weight of her presence shoves his mind into the dirt. Her radiance blinds him, even if he hides.

She offers him a book with a smile. “Found it.”

His hands are soaked with blood, gore, and water. “It is raining,” he says.

‘Genetics - French, 2nd Edition’

“Hm~” Sister takes his wrist. He flinches away, but no force on earth can match the exact force of earth.

“Behold and listen, brother!” She grandiosely gestures skyward. “Humans call this ‘a rainy day.’ It is when they pretend to be scared of water ~ despite being made of it ~ stay inside, and procreate.” She hums merrily at her recollection. “~ Let’s explore our new home ~ then you can explore it alone in a dark, sealed room with Elly.”

The boy blinks, helpless. His arm is stuck in the Sun’s gravity well. There is no escape. Sister begins pulling, therefore he must follow, therefore he must call it ‘perfect.’ His mind, laid out plain to see, disgusts him. Why am I like this. Because Sister loves me? Because I exist? Sickness runs riot in his gut.

“Schütz.”

“. . Elly?”

“Let’s make a boat.”

“Ah.” . . “Sister. Elly wants me to make a boat.”

“Humans don’t do things on ‘rainy days’ Schütz.” The phrase ‘rainy day’ is accentuated like a mystical spell.

“Ah.”

He trots along with Sister, incapable of resisting — that is until her arm falls off.

“Ow,” Sister is the first to react - but only because Schütz’ head is elsewhere, and Elly could not conceivably care less. “OW! OW! OW!” she cries out in desperately acted pain.

“Ah.” - “Sister - are you - you are okay,” he answers his own question as he speaks.

“Hmm ~ No, I’m really hurt, see!” To emphasize, Sister holds up her severed arm. It is still attached to Schütz’ hand.

“Ah.” The boy turns to Elly.

“Let’s make a boat,” is her insight on the situation.

He would resist, except even the most reckless beasts do not resist gravity. “Later.”

‘cr. . . ik.’

“How did it sound?” Sister asks.

The boy watches his Sister, and can feel himself slowly going blind.

“How did my pain sound?” she reiterates excitedly.

“. . Bad.”

“Wonderful~”

The sun and her little planetoids march along. “Ow ~ ow ~ ow,” Sister hums a song of victory to herself.

His head hurts. A message.

/ ~<O>~ \

>[WELCOME: AMETHYST]
>[MESSAGE RECEIVED FROM: CITRINE | T:7:13]
>>[OPEN: [Y]/N]
>...
>[YOU “BROKE” THE “ICE”.]
>[GOOD JOB.]
>[NOW I HAVE TO KILL YOU AGAIN.]
>[LET’S MAKE IT A PARTY.]
>[I WILL BRING SAKE!]
>[I WILL BRING CAT!]
>[YOU WILL BRING THE ICEPICK!]
>[DID YOU FORGET TO NAME MY CAT?]
>[NAME MY CAT.]
>[START THINKING OR I WILL RECONSIDER MY APPROACH TO AIMING!]
>[ELLIPSES.]
>[NOW IMAGINE MY LAUGHTER.]
>[IT IS LIKE SO |TEE HEE HEE|]
>[BECAUSE THAT IS A JOKE.]
>[NOW YOU LAUGH.]
>[DO IT LIKE SO |MWAH HAH HAH|]
>[I WILL BRING MORE GOOD JOKES.]
>[YOU SHOULD TRY TO PULL YOUR WEIGHT.]
>[WHAT ELSE CAN YOU OFFER THIS PARTY?]
>[-CITRINE.]
>...
>[GIRLS ARE PREPARING. PLEASE WAIT WARMLY.]

\ ~~~ /

Ran. The name falls into his tangle of thoughts, never to return. He marches on through the mud.

“Schütz.”

“Elly.”

“I wanted to say Schütz.”

“Oh — yes — yes,” he mumbles.

Sister stops. That means little to him, as he stumbles forward, Sisters’ de-armed arm still attached to his wrist. The man comes to some form of realization as the raindrops begin to pelt him. “Ah.” He turns around, and bumbled towards Sister.

“Our new home,” she declares.

“Ah.” Indeed, they are before the big red house. His memories of it are mostly negative. Good for him that remembering is a task, not a given, at the moment.

“Oh, look, Schütz! A friend!”

Sister moves, so does her sphere of influence. He is left in the rain, dazed.

The boy watches as his Sister eagerly shakes the hand of a little pink bird creature. Rem - rem ..? Remilia. That one. Inedible . . vampire? The one that can fix things. It wanted to - wanted to what? Fix me?

“This is my brother -” All of a sudden Sister grabs his wrist which holds her severed arm. “- Schütz! He likes human things like eating, sleeping ~ and I think he’s going to procreate soon. Isn’t that wonderful? I hope you have enough space for the tide of spawn. Oh~~! And - since we are in the same house you can watch them procreate if you wish. It’s his first time trying to breed with a sentient-like object. How exciting~!” she goes on and on.

“Hello. Remilia. . girl,” he says to Remilia. It - she - enjoyed pretending to be a girl, some vagrant memory tells him. It is difficult to make out expression of the bird-snake ‘vampire’ beneath its her ludicrous visor. Regardless, the youkai looks mortified.

“This boy is in critical condition,” the chimera says bluntly to Sister. There is no flair to her words.

“He’s very ‘pent up.’ ‘Pent up’ meaning the human phrase of desiring to breed due to -”

“If I don’t cure this poor boy he and everyone around him will suffer,” Remilia interrupts coldly.

“‘Pent up’ meaning the human phrase of desiring to breed due to having no reproductive outlet for a prolonged period of time,” Sister continues, caring not for the bird’s whiny song.

Remilia steps forward, just a bit closer to the all-consuming flames of the sun that is Sister. “IF you must vent under my roof so be it, but I simply must take this patient under my care.”

“Schütz.”

“. . . . Elly?”

“Is that noisy wad of filth a friend of his?” A serpent that arbitrates the line between life and death points at Remilia.

“Remilia.”

The little-girl-bird-creature acknowledges him with a sharp look.

“Are - you a friend?”

“I’m going to fix you,” it declares.

It sounds like someone he knew. I hate it. “Moron. Idea. - That is. . an idea for m-morons.”

“There’s no time to correct your opinions. Come. Now.” Remilia takes another step towards the sun. Rather than cease to exist, Remilia is poked back.

“Worry not, strange creature, when my brother breaks I can put him back together,” chides Sister.

“Is this wad of filth a friend, Schütz? Schütz? Schütz? Schütz -”

The boy stares into nothing. Elly stops talking so to drink his tears.

“The one condition you live under my roof is that you submit to my treatment - no matter who or what you are.” It cannot be said Remilia is ‘pushing,’ it is more comparable to a dust particle scraping against a mountain.

“Kazami, Yuuka - Flower Master of the Four Seasons.” Sister makes introductions with a smile. Several flower grow about for effect.

“And what do you think you are?” Remilia prods.

“Schütz’ sister.”

“No - actually you’re a obtrusive dope and terrible sibling. Now let me fix your dying brother so we can have a nice breakfast and talk about our favorite cakes over tea.”

The rain stops. The wind stops. The clouds stop moving. Lighting pauses mid-strike. “How -” Sisters’ voice cracks. The earth beneath her imitates like a child. “How could you say that! I’m a wonderful sister.” There is no doubt. Doubt does not exist in an entity like Sister.

. . .


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

. . .

She is - Sister is - YUUKA is a . . .

[complete the thought]

{must be in character. I allow leeway in that I will adjust votes to be more in-character but remain in the same ‘spirit,’ though I will outright dismiss utterly out-of-character votes}

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

Items:
Bow (Heavily Anti-Youkai Seal Fitted, Hakurei Brand, Blood Coated ‘Kitsune’)
Seal Hairtie (Unknown Properties)

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

Curse: ~~~

Moon Phase: <o “last quarter”

Time: Early Night

\o==================8875===================o/
>> No. 31135
>She is - Sister is - YUUKA is a . . .
>must be in character.
Damn that's a hard one.
Not going to vote here, just listing possibilities.

[]YUUKA is Sister
Safest answer, she's always been described as some sort of indescribable absolute.

[]YUUKA is good sister
I guess it will put his mindset into "God can do no wrong" as far as she's concerned.

[]YUUKA is a God
He's been offering beasts at her feet for years.
Makes him her follower.

[]YUUKA is a Sun
Because one god among many isn't a bright enough spot in his mind.

[]YUUKA is a burden
Her mere presence is uncomfortably crushing, does anyone want her gone for good ?

[]YUUKA is dirt
Let's check if this story allows MC permadeath lol
>> No. 31136
Yuuka is many things.

Yuuka is a greenhead, but Reimu can't do anything about it now.

Yuuka is a good sister who healed our friend at our request and seeks to give us all the things a human wants.

Yuuka is a terror that removes those who stand in her way without hesitation.

Yuuka is a burden that won't let us live or die how we desire.

I really don't know what to pick here, but I'll tentatively go with the same answer Schütz reached in this update, [X] Burden, and likely change my decision as more discussion flows in.

On a totally different note, our inventory has dropped to nearly nothing, yet that seal hairtie has stuck with us since the beginning. I'm starting to get pretty curious what its unknown properties are and if we've had any hint to them yet.

Also I still want to name the cat Rascal although I understand Schütz probably isn't in the right mindset to think about cat names right now, even with Ran's threat.
>> No. 31137
Man, this whole thing has been so bloody opaque its just inane to me, whatever.
>> No. 31138
>>31137
What did you like enough about the story to get this far? - Assuming you arent reading this out of sheer directionless boredom.
>> No. 31139
[X] Burden
[X] Sister

Seems like a good choice. It doesn't let him die after all.

She is also a greenhead, an idiot, dirt and a living god. But above all, he would say that 'Sister is sister' so I added that too.
>> No. 31140
>>31138

Well, the story's plenty fun enough, walking that line between creepy and charming and all. but there's really no real way to understand what consequences our choices are going to have. The various warnings we've been given have been uniformly unhelpful and whenever something bad DOES happen, I don't actually understand WHAT happened or WHY its bad.

Schutz's peculiar way of perceiving the world doesn't help much either. The guy's such an alien to me I don't know whether the things he worries about are even worth paying attention to or not.

And then there's the curse, of course. I still don't know what supposedly triggers it, what it does, whether it kills people around us, or changes them, or what. We apparently destroyed Reimu with it, or something?

And now there's this choice. Should i even try to predict how Schutz is going to react to any input we give? Is he going to help, or is he just going to magically unexistalize someone again? Is that even what happened last time? I don't know. I had fun up to a point, but now its kinda like playing Zork, only not as straightforward.

I know this isn't what you asked me for, but it just sorta turned into this tangent.
>> No. 31141
Not >>31140 But I'd like to add that you do horror really well. That eerie and uncanny feeling that you experience when you see what should be a familiar sight transformed into something not quite right is present here and I didn't think it was a feeling that could be translated to writing at all.
>> No. 31142
Sister is [a burden that tries too hard]

Cat is [Cat]

I felt such a name is the most Schutz, and such an answer is the most justifiable, given his recent admittance of her being a burden.
>> No. 31143
Vote will be called early tomorrow.

>>31140
Delay in replying due to me being busy/preoccupied.

I am satisfied with the way this story functions. Your complaints appear to stem from your distaste with aspects I consider fine, therefore all I can do is clarify the nature of this story.

a) this story is mystery oriented. if you want a hand in events, it is expected that you take the time to find out what is happening and why
b) votes generally inform events much later than current events
c) votes are as much about the mindset as the action. prediction of Schutz is vital. shaping his way of approaching things is vital. this vote is a good example.

TO CLARIFY: recklessness is an intended element of 'unpredictability' in the story. you brought this entirely upon yourself, if you voted recklessness.

The complexity of this story is it's most notable aspect, and a spur in my side for reasons one might expect. It takes a very long time to write updates due to the sheer quantity of variables surrounding characters and the overarching plot. Nothing is arbitrary. This isn't a random story in the least - and for that it takes ages to write.

Clarification: complexity =/ quality of writing. I am saying this story is complex, not 'a good story.' Though I personally enjoy my own story.

Nothing will change besides, possibly, an improvement in my writing abilities to portray such a complex narrative. Knowing this, it is your decision whether this story is to your tastes. Thanks for reading. I appreciate feedback that isn't mean spirited.

>>31141
Neato patito
>> No. 31144
>>31143

Oh well, you do you. At least you're all having fun.
>> No. 31145
>>31143
Wait -

>>31135
Did you end up voting? It would not be kind to shut you off.
>> No. 31146
>>31145
He did said he wouldn't vote. No idea why.
>> No. 31147
[X] Yuuka is good.
[] Cat is ????
See if we can bean the messaging system with emoji
No wait that's stupid
[X] Cat is Kitty
>> No. 31148
>>31147
That was supposed to be break, not bean, fucking phone
>> No. 31149
>>31145
>Did you end up voting? It would not be kind to shut you off.
Guess I will.
[X]YUUKA is a Sun
I feel like it fits, you don't stare into the sun otherwise you turn blind, you can only get glimpses of its true form. And staying in its vicinity for too long sets you on fire. But you need the Sun. The world needs the Sun.
>> No. 31150
Vote will be left open for one more day.

>>31147
????????????????????????????????????????

>Yuuka is good
Oh boy that would be 'something' to write. Poor Elly. This is not an endorsement.
>> No. 31151
>>31150
No. Do not.

CEASE.
>> No. 31152
Vote set. 'Burden' being the most pervasive sentiment.
>> No. 31153
But what about the more important choice, naming the cat?
>> No. 31154
>>31153

This does seem like the most vital of the two.
>> No. 31155
NO CONSENSUS REACHED ON CAT NAME BEFORE DEADLINE.

THE VERDICT IS DEATH.

>> No. 31156
Death sounds likea name for a good cat though, a really cool one.
>> No. 31157
>>31155
[X] Cat is Kitty
>> No. 31158
>>31157
You have the audacity to vote past certain death? You dare knock on the iron gates of Dis?

Cool. Fine.

cat = kitty
>> No. 31172
I've been working on a project both publicly unpublished and utterly unrelated to this story and site. Now I'm working on this. The split between the two usually is not so severe, as I typically use my other project to occupy the downtime between (long) writing sessions.
>> No. 31174
4k in. I should be done tomorrow.
>> No. 31175
There are a lot of feelings packed into Schutz’ smouldering mind - among all the fear and distrust, there is an undeniable wealth of warmth. He thinks of the few good people he has ever known, and loyalty follows like a collar tug around his neck. ‘I am dumb. They are smart. They are strong. They are good.’ Reimu, Sister, and Elly - all of them a pretty new collar on his neck.

The tamed-thrice puppy looks at Sister. He feels the weight around his neck grinding his dumb little snout into the mud. That dog realizes something, and, more importantly, for once in his short, dog life, he accepts it.

Sister is a burden.

The second collar around his neck is unbreakable cast lead. It digs down past the flesh into his bone, poisoning him from within. Sister is strong. That remains true. Moreover, that may be the only thing that is true. The blazing sun before him is strong. She shines whenever and however she wants, and he can feel the chain of the collar tugging him into the flames. It is a burden, and it has hurt for a very long time.

What is there left for him to do but call her ‘good?’ Even now, gazing dazed and blind into that merciless sun, the boy cannot think of an answer. No matter what, he is her property, her Schutz, as she forcefully named him. Forcefully. Sister forcefully doing something is redundant. Sister does, and what she does is force - there is no need to specify. The more he thinks the more he remembers how pointless remembering is. There is a reason he does not think about these things - to cope rather than dwell on the unchangeable. So, Sister is a burden, now what? Now what? Now what? There is no answer. Nothing has changed, nothing new under or within the sun.

“Haa h . .” the boy breathes, and jolts surprised at the sound of his own air within his skull.

“Schutz,” A voice tugs at his newest collar.

“Ell - y?”

“Is that cacophonous pustulent mass your friend?” she asks, gesturing with an organ of pure, undiluted destruction and misery to Remilia.

Remilia is squawking at Sister. Sister listens deafely.

“Do - not . . .” He thinks. “Hurt that thing. That - girl? Remilia.”

“Why?”


“Ah.” He did not think that far. It is hard, but he thinks. “It - she might be good?”

Elly creaks, whines, and pops in deep thought. “In what dimension is that pustule alike to Elly?” she asks.

The boy thinks, again. “She wants to help - me. She wants to help me. I think. Maybe. Yeah.” He nods to himself vaguely. “Like you. Elly.”

“How?”

“I do not know.” The boy rolls around an alien word, unable to figure out its secrets, but he ends up spitting it out anyway. “Fate?”

The abyssal serpent, Elly’s mouth, barges forward with Elly herself in tow. “Good afternoon, filth,” she announces to a startled ‘vampire.’

Remilia gathers herself quickly. “Wait your turn.” She points to the boy, “Him,” then she points to Elly, “Then you,” the finger directs off into nowhere in particular. “Then that poor fox lady you tried to murder.”

‘Crik?’ Elly lets the useless words pour past her like any other downpour of sewage. “Tell me how to help Schutz” Elly replies. “And nothing else matters.”

“Oh - sure.” The youkai ‘girl’ holds an arm out to Sister as if presenting some kind of
“You can help by convincing this dope to release the boy.”

Elly turns to Yuuka. “Release the boy, dope,” she eagerly parrots.

“~Oh Elly, I know you’re Schutz’ friend, but I’m his Sis-” That is the last words Sister makes before her body is transitioned from immaculate to a cloud of dust.

Elly turns back to Remilia. “I convinced it.”

“Huh.”

. . .

“Is she dead?” the girl asks.

“Is she alive?” Elly asks an equally valid question.

Schutz, meanwhile, stares into space regretting having a mind to comprehend any of this.

“~Elly?” A hand, arm, head, and torso begins to pull itself from the earth. Except, only for that moment.

“Be convinced,” says Elly, obliterating the traces of Sister as they generate.

“Elly.” comes again from the earth. There is no body to speak it this time, only the sodden earth that vibrates. “Give me more time to react when you tear me apart, hm? I need more practice with pain.”

Elly stabs the ground. Nothing happens. “Be convinced.”

“Like the good sister I am I will be escorting Schutz through the new home that I acquired,” says the ground.

‘Liar,’ the boy thinks, silent.

“Are you convinced yet?” asks Elly, obliterating another one of Sisters’ bodies.

“No, you're not listening, Elly - I need a body to —”

Elly stabs the ground. “Be convinced.”

“Ohh~! I get it.” The oncoming pause is punctuated by rain and lightning. “That is what I would say if I knew what you were doing. What are you doing?”

Elly stabs the ground, again and again. “Be. Convinced.”

“Elly?”

Stab.

“Elly?”

Stab. “Are you convinced?”

“No I-”

Stab.

“Ms. Kazami, I urge you to reconsider,” says the little vampire.

The earth bleeds water, and chokes in its own blood. “!!!” the ground argues unintelligibly. Elly stabs along to the supernal tune. Stab. Stab. Stab.

Everyone is resisting Sister. Why would they do something so stupid? The boy cannot find an answer that makes sense. For me? Nonsense. Moronic. Bunch of . . morons. Like me. He frowns so hard he feels his brow might snap. The eyes lolling in his skull settle to glare at the earth below. What will Sister do to them? What will she do - what will — she will-!

“STOP IT!” Such blasted words sound absurd from the mouth of that otherwise gibbering and incomprehensible puppy dog of a boy.

“Schutz?”

“Boy?”

“Brother?”

The boy breathes. “Haah - haah - - I said. Stop. And you stopped. So - so -” The gibbering mess returns in full directionless force. “Thank you. Now you will not all - I do not know what Sister would do to you - Elly - Rem - il ia?”

“Hm ~ is there a problem, brother?” asks the ground with voice supernal and all-commanding.

“Schutz,” whines Elly. She has been whining for a while now at his side. “Are you having trouble thinking, and are you sad?”

The boy, caught off guard, can only admit: “Y-yes.”

“Wonderful ~ tell me all about it afterwards,” says Sister merrily.

Just about everything conceivable is a ‘problem’ with this boy - I’ll tell you all about it after I’m done fixing him,” the vampire chimes in.

“Schutz, Schutz? Schutz? Is everything conceivable a problem with him?” Elly asks, clinging to him desperately like a tick about to be plucked. True, he keeps rebuting her whenever she tries to help.

The boy breathes, nodding vaguely to himself and Elly at the words.

“I can destroy everything conceivable if he knows or thinks or guesses it will help,” she says. The serpent of destruction edges into his face, never touching.

“No - no - I do not think —”

“Do you guess?”

“No - I? Do not.”

“Ending the world? Hm ~ Where’s the adventure in that? Hand my brother a mystic blade, and prop the apocalypse up as an adversary,” says Sister. Her body is pure, immaculate, and prone to being torn to shreds. “Ending the world is the threat, not the solution, Elly. I understand you’re used to playing the villain, but Schutz should be fighting for ~ love! And justice! And .. ~hmm” Sister pauses to think. A few raindrops explode. “Many other things I’m sure you’re objectively incapable of comprehending. Though ~ Heroes do love to procreate. You understand that, Elly?”

“Can you shut up?” ask-demands Elly.

“Death is right,” concurs Remilia.

“Ah - I - yes. Please go away,” mumbles the puppy named Schutz, who then realizes what he said.

The three morons and a lump of mud stand still for a moment.

“Woah! I managed to hold back my great ideas for an entire second ~” Sister cheers to herself. “~ Let’s explore the house.”

“You’re free to explore a room for the next few hours while keeping perfectly still and silent,” offers Remilia hopefully.

“Wow. So that’s how it works? Wonderful! Let’s go, Schutz~”

Sister takes the boy by the arm, and drags him along.

“I’m not Death, I’m Elly,” says Elly to an audience of the deaf earth, an addled boy, and a triumphant little vampire.

“Uehh,” moans Schutz, comprehending nothing.

The house of red looms over like an angry wound. He stumbles along the path of the drowning garden, and up the stone steps, and through two massive doors left ajar. Before the incomprehensible and uncomprehending boy is a red room. The walls are wood enameled with stone and swirling scriptures. Miniature suns captured in glass cling to the walls, but are black as night when compared to Sister, whose presence not only illuminates but burns the world around her; everything is weak, and dull, and harmless in comparison. Rain marches rhythmically on the roof, and echoes through the room as a constant, low drone.

The boy thinks he might be glad to be out of the rain. He’s not sure because he does feel any different, besides a feeling that he ought to be. Where do his positive feelings tend to come from in the first place? Does he borrow them from someone? Elly? Sister? Reimu? Seeing them happy was usually enough for him.

Elly looks happy, though he knows she is not. It is cruel she has such a misguiding face in reality. ‘Schutz’ she keeps saying and pleading. He cannot think of a response.

Reimu looks like a corpse. He can see her dead, eternally terrified face etched into the back of his mind.

Sister looks happy, and he realizes he is not.

The boy is dragged along through halls, and streets, and sidelong paths across, above, below, and other directions that make little sense. Along the way Remilia ‘says.’ Describing what it is saying would require his attention.

“Woah~” “Wow~” “Wonderful~” These are the types of things his Sister says along the way. Not listening to her is physically and mentally impossible.

At some point, the boy realizes he has stopped moving. “Ah.” He looks around. He and everybody else is in a room. There is a bed that is much to high off the ground, and an assortment of other strange,impractical furnitures. Why would anyone want to see themself when they wake up?

“This looks like a good room to procreate in.” Sister is the first to speak. She looks around, starry eyed in the most literal sense. The sun slaps the top of the bed, and gestures to Schutz and Elly. “~here works.”

“Actually -” Remilia speaks up. Her voice carries well despite her comical size. “I wanted to show you this wall, Ms. Kazami.” The youkai ‘girl’ gestures to the back wall. It looks like a wall, with all the qualities one would expect from a wall. Schutz rarely gets to see walls given he lives in the dirt and grass, though, still, nothing about this wall surprises him.

“Woah ~ What’s so special about this wall?”

“It’s special.”

“Ohhhh~ Is admiring walls a human thing?”

“Absolutely. Silent wall admiring is a time honoured tradition in pan-European culture.”

“I never read about that!” Sister is not skeptical, she is astounded.

“It’s an oral tradition - I figured to pass it on in celebration of …” Remilia cycles her little hand vaguely. “Our friendship.”

Sister nods sagely, her face grim with concentration, but her eyes filled with wonder and light. “Though, isn’t ‘watching paint dry’ an analogy for a pointless task?” she prods, her only apparent motive curiosity.

“Ahah, correct, but -” Remilia holds out its arm to present the very mundane wall. “This wall is ‘bone dry.’ (ahem) That is a human analogy. See, no one makes scathing analogies about dry walls, for it’s a noble task. Only the most anthropocentric of humans could hope to undertake it.” Remilia pauses, her demeanor darkening in an instant. “Perhaps, could it be that you are not up to the task?”

The house rumbles and shakes. The foundations are tested and found to be true enough to resist at least the most tame reverberations of Sisters’ passion. “Hah! You underestimate the profound depths of my humanity, my friend~” Sister swells up. The world shrinks back in fear. “I can handle this. I actually cooked a food last week.” Sister sits herself down and watches the wall so intensely it might shatter. In fact, the realness of that probability causes Remilia to stand back from the groaning wall. “I won’t let humanity down.”

“. . . So noble. So human. I am in awe,” the vampire commentates, stony faced.

“This is a nice wall,” says the beaming Sun. “Brother! Come look at this wall with me.”

“Silent wall admiring,” corrects Remilia.

“Yay~” . . “y a y ~?”

Cracks begin to form in places.

Schutz looks at the wall, not sure what to think or whether he is thinking at all.

“Boy.”

Schutz perks up from a stupor pleasant for the fact he was not thinking. “Ah.” He feels another hand on his arm besides Elly’s. It is small, pale, and delicate. “Huh?”

Remilia leads him out the room where Sister is. “Come,” the vampire says more than a few tads too late.

The boy stumbles along. “Oh - kay?” - “Bye,” he mumbles, already long out of the range of Sister. Gram by gram, a weight is released from his shoulders every step he takes away from the sun. Nonetheless, the greatest weight, a collar remains as a reminder that he is not free.

The boy stumbles on, following the vampire who leads him.

“Schutz,” prods Elly for a countless time.

“. . Elly?”

“Schutz is sad, and Schutz is having trouble thinking.”

“Yeah.”

“Let me help.”

“No - you — cannot.”

“But Schutz helped Elly, and -”

“No.”

‘CRIK. CRIK. CRIK,’ Elly criks. That background criking has become the beat of his life at this stage, along with the rain that continues to march echoes through the halls.

“Don’t fret, Elly. Your boy will be receiving treatment soon as able,” the vampire calls out, the piercing confidence of its voice a stark contrast to his despair. “And you were fine help to him before, fending off that dense Ms. Kazami.”

“Would the putrid mass call it good help?” Elly asks, her voice a razor to the ears and mind. The boy’s senses have scabbed over so many times that ‘pleasant’ has replaced pain.

“I daresay that separating your boy from that Jupiter of a woman is the goodest help he could receive.”

’~Crik’

‘Putrid mass,’ huh?” the vampire muses.

No one is listening.

‘Scarlet Devil’ has more impact, no?”

Still, no one is listening.

“How about we compromise. ‘Putrid Devil,’ mmm, no, ‘Scarlet Mass’? Pah, that makes me out as some kind of blood-themed Catholic singalong. . .”

. . .

“Clap twice if you want to save Schutz’ life.”

Elly claps twice.

“Good girl.”

‘~Crik’

Morons. Though, the boy offers no resistance.

The strange trio moves on. The boy stumbles, the scarecrow drifts, and the little vampire works hard and confident on her equally little feet.

Schutz finds himself in a new room. It is spacious, though not cavernous. The walls are red wood, and in the center of the room is a rectangular stone block, laid down and acting as a table. Several simple wooden chairs are positioned around it.

“So ~~ Before we begin, I will preface -” The vampire releases her soft grip on his arm, and gestures out grandly to the space before the boy. “This is a safe place - Schutz. I, nor anyone else, will hurt you.”

The puppy-boy stands there dumbly for a while before realizing his name was called. “Ah,” he barks out his usual unresponsive response.

“Take a seat, both of you.”

Schutz is still, and Elly is attached to Schutz.

Remilia looks at him expectantly.

Under pressure, Schutz sits on the floor where he stands.

Remilia sighs, stands up, and takes to ‘guiding’ the boy to his seat; lifting him up, and pushing him along by the curve of his spine. He acknowledges the new position like a potted plant might to a sudden shift - so, he does not notice except for perhaps several days later. Elly sits beside him, warmly clasping his hand until he dies again, and criking her unsubtle worries for his being. Still, her body is coated with his former gore. Whatever pleasure she got from it has long since been overridden.

“Sakuya,” says the vampire.

He barely recognizes the girl who appears so suddenly before him. Iz - a - yoi Sa - ku - ya. Her skin has gone beyond the description of ‘pale’ into unmistakeable sickly pallor. Her clothing is dishevelled, and thrown on like a mess of sheets at morning. Nonetheless, her face is the same as always: a stern, determined look of a worker. “Mistress,” comes a stable voice belying half of her appearance and all of her health.

“Fetch a pitcher of water, some glasses, a towel, a blanket, a pair of simple warm clothes, and a pillow.”

The pale girl bows, then disappears. She never acknowledged the boy.

Schutz blinks.

“Just a few minutes, she will take,” says the vampire.

“Ah.”

“Once I save your life, would you like some beef sausages? Sakuya loves cooking for those who can appreciate the finer tastes.”

“ A - h. . Save - my life?”

“You are doomed. I am the only one who can help you.” Remilia leans forward into the stone table, hands crossed, a meaningful smile on her face and scarlet glint in the eye. “And I will help you.”

“. . How?” The question of ‘why’ has been abandoned. ‘How’ will follow eventually.

“I will take every single-stranded, cursed fate you were born under, and turn each of them into a choice.”

The youkai speaks like a youkai would. Nonsense. He latches to the words he understands. “. . .Curses,” he mumbles. “I have - those. One.”

“Don’t think about it. They will be gone soon.”

“Ah.” He cannot bring himself to believe such things, nor can he reject it. The statement passes through his mind and out into the aether.

“The benefit of being the worst case of damnation I have ever seen is that you will become the most blessed man I have ever seen when I am done with you,” says Remilia, whatever vestiges of dialogue there is sitting solely on the shoulders of her musings.

“Do you - do you know what will happen to me - when I -” he fumbles.

“What won’t happen to you,” she corrects. “Though . . If you must know — It would be like a bottomless pit. You would fall for eternity, and everything you cherish and hold close would fall with you.”

“Ah.” His stupid little bark does not satisfy him. “But - it . . . it -” he fumbles, words lost.

“It won’t happen.” The youkai leans up from their seat, bends over, and strokes the boy’s dirty mat of hair. He flinches, but any nodes of resistance he had are worn and so very, very tired. “You’ve become my patient. I will cure you.” The vampire sighs. “Welll - I never had a choice in the matter, when I see a pitiful creature like you, my heart explodes.”

“A - ah.” His eyes feel wet. His mind hurts.

“Sakuya will bring towels soon.”

“A a - ah.”

“You are clinging on the edge of the deepest pit I have ever seen, but it matters not if I hoist you up, no?”

‘It is impossible,’ that is what he tells himself. He has looked into the depths of tha ‘pit’ for so long. The only reality he can comprehend is falling in. What he wants has always been irrelevant. Sister and his cursed life are the same in that way. That ‘pit’ exists for him to fall into it.

“The disgusting thing will help Schutz?” asks and states Elly at once from her long silence.

“So the Scarlet Devil will.”

‘Crik . . crik . . crik . .’

The pale girl, Izayoi, reappears. There is a veritable bundle of ‘stuff’ between her arms and around her body. She lets it down on the ground, and sorts it silently. First, she sets glasses on the table, and pours water into each.

“Please stand,” she says.

. . .

“Boy.”

Schutz blinks.

“Help the maid help you — stand up, boy.”

Ah. Always good at following orders (eventually), Schutz stands.

The maid unfolds a towel, and begins the slow process of cleaning the cakes and layers of filth off him. It is a hopeless task if one sought to clean it all. Fortunately, the maid, right now, only seeks to scrub the most superficial of grime. Schutz is still as can be, and does not squirm. He reacts like a potted plant would, besides the occasional ‘ah’ that passes through his head as the maid scrubs some of the more tender of his body.

Far from done, the maid takes out a thick one-piece of clothing, and begins the arduous process of stuffing the doll of Schutz’ body in it. It looks to be of a wooly animal’s skin, moulded to form a person-shaped sack. She directs the puppy-boy occasionally, and he follows obediently. Except, one issue, Elly will not let go of his hand.

After a round of trial and error, the maid must eventually relent to utter a dispassionate: “Let go.” The words are physically directed to the problem Elly, but are effectively lost into the void.

“. . Elly.”

“Schutz?”

“Let my hand go - please - for a second.”

‘Crik ik ik,’ Elly whines.

“Please.”

“A second is too long, and how long is a second, Schutz?”

Elly’s time does not work - I forgot. “A second - is - a second. . I can count - for you, Elly.”

“Must I?”

“Yes. For a second I will count.”

Elly lets go, but not without openly criking her displeasure.

“O -” Schutz starts the count, and in a fraction of a fraction of a moment his new clothes are made to be on. “ - ne?”

Elly whines.

“That was - that was a second, Elly.”

So, at that, his hand is connected to Elly once more.

Once the moment passes, a strange thought occurs to the boy within his new, fluffy and puffy clothing cocoon. Feels . . nice? The boy’s eyes are wide with surprise of feeling a pleasant thought.

The diligent maid directs the boy back into his seat, now featuring a cushion to his rear, and drapes a blanket over him.

It feels nice. The new clothes smell like food, which is preferable to the scent of his own gore.

No words are exchanged between the boy and his unlikely-yet-inevitable-by-circumstance aid. This is only her duty.

“Now fetch some sleep,” the vampire calls out.

The maid has many misgivings. They flicker across her very pale face as little spasms, and eventually arise as a solitary ‘“But . . “‘ before dwindling into dust. She bows, then disappears.

“Dry your eyes, and drink some water. It will help.”

Schutz follows the vampire’s advice.

He watches the odd little ‘vampire’ youkai before him. Its oversized, fanged, and birdlike helmet is ridiculous, and its pale face is beset by two, large and inquisitive red eyes. Her black wings are colossal, he remembers, though now they compress into a cloak. Stranger yet is its personality. Just like Meiling, this moronic creature keeps being nice to him. If it wanted to hurt him it could have done so many terrible things by now. Part of him still expects it to do something like that, though at this point he can hardly bother caring. Being tormented and eaten alive by a kind youkai is better than being tormented and eaten alive than a Nue-like one, he realizes.

“Thank . . you?” he mumbles.

“You will be glad to know I accept pre-emptive gratitude, as I am guaranteed to succeed regardless,” says Remilia. Accept it she does; the vampire visibly absorbs the ‘thank you’ like some bizzare form of sweet. Her smile is toothy and entirely self-congratulating.

Thinking about those words hurts, but he continues anyway. “You are a girl . . right?” He also tries to think of something to say. This is the result.

Remilia cycles her hand. “I have been called some ‘creative’ things, but the truth is less exciting. A girl, yes.”

“Thank you for trying . . girl.” A youkai ‘girl,’ the concept is still stupid to him. He will act stupid if it makes this creature happy. It is nothing lost to him. He expects the creature to try, fail, be sad, and be killed by him. The least he can do is call it her a girl.

“For succeeding.”

“. . .” he breathes, but no discernible sound comes out.

“In the words of a well-learned troglodyte: ‘Shall we continue?’” Remilia amuses herself well enough. “Tell me about yourself. Any hopes and dreams? A favorite color?”

“Huh.”

“You’re here now, and therefore guaranteed to be cured. So ~ the more I learn about you, the better the new ‘you’ will be.”

“Huh.”

“Do you want to be an indecisive, grumbling buffoon like Meiling, or a contented Patchouli?”

“Huh.”

Remilia squints. “Boy . . Tell me what you like, and I will do my best to make it true.”

“I . . I like Elly.”

“I like Schutz,” says Elly.

The vampire taps a tune with her little fingers on the table as she ponders. “O h - I had an excellent idea just now.” The applause Remilia seems to expect must be fulfilled by the girl personally. After applauding herself, a crisp double clap, Remilia continues, “I can cure the both of you at once, and bind you deeper than any divine wedlock.” She taps the stone table before turning to Elly. “I must say that - girl-death - you are also doomed - juuust not quite so direly as your boy.”

“I’m Elly, not girl-death,” says Elly.

“That you are.”

“That I am.”

“Uh,” ‘uh’s Schutz.

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

Hopes and dreams, a favorite color? Both prospects are alien to him.

He thinks of his hopes and dreams. {anything within character}{this vote is meaningful}
(Current Considerations: Elly. Elly. Elly.)

He thinks of his favorite color. {any color besides purple and green}{this vote is cosmetic}
(Current Considerations: Elly’s color.)

{Considerations represent his current thoughts, the ‘default.’ You may suggest anything within character.}

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

Items:
Bow (Heavily Anti-Youkai Seal Fitted, Hakurei Brand, Blood Coated ‘Kitsune’)
Seal Hairtie (Unknown Properties)
One-Piece Clothing (Fluffy, Puffy, Animal Hide)

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

Curse: ~~~

Moon Phase: <o “last quarter”

Time: Early Night

\o==================8875===================o/
>> No. 31176
File 154026534581.png - (20.62KB, 692x436, 53.png) [iqdb]
31176
Finals are on the horizon. I will try to get an update out before they tackle me.
>> No. 31177
File 154026750875.png - (29.79KB, 790x554, BESTGRILL.png) [iqdb]
31177
Your updates keep getting better. Either they're giving me dread or making me laugh out loud. Sometimes both.

That wasn't just an expression, I actually laughed at the computer screen. It's been months since the last time I did that.

>“Ohh~! I get it.” The oncoming pause is punctuated by rain and lightning. “That is what I would say if I knew what you were doing. What are you doing?”

Good lord. Elly and Remi's banter was good but this caught me off guard.

[x] Elly. Reimu. The curse disappearing for good. Elly. No more people suffering for his sake -ala Patches or Meiling- (Hopes and dreams)

[x] Scarlet: Elly and his saviour? colors (Color)
>> No. 31178
File 154028506782.png - (31.68KB, 448x368, 53_5.png) [iqdb]
31178
>>31177
Glad you like it.

>comedy
Before I started this story I had little confidence in my ability to write characters people would enjoy reading. I never approached this story thinking to align with a specific genre or tone. The only thing I try to keep consistent is characters and their development as they navigate this quagmire. It's nice to know that my characters are entertaining to you.
>> No. 31179
[X]Hopes and dreams:
[X]Make sure Elly stays good
[X]Save Reimu
[X]Reign the curse

[X]Favourite Color:
[X]Red
Reimu, Yuuka and Elly dress in red. The Scarlet Devil that's trying to help him has glowing red eyes. And meat is red. So pretty much everything that's been good to him holds that colour.
>> No. 31180
>>31128
I can do that!

[X] "So, what do you really look like?"

[X] Red
[X] Gensokyo remaining intact, Elly being whole, Reimu being alive, Him being redeemed

More dreams than hopes in this one. Also, I admit other votes' arguments completely decided color for me.
>> No. 31181
File 15403075543.gif - (0.97MB, 448x352, OAaRV.gif) [iqdb]
31181
>“I’m not Death, I’m Elly,” says Elly to an audience of the deaf earth, an addled boy, and a triumphant little vampire.
>> No. 31183
[X] "So, what do you look like?"
Because I want this to be a /thing/ we ask everyone at least once.

[X] "By the way could I get my old clothes back"
gimme da seals.


[X] Red

[X]Elly stays good
[X]Save Reimu
[X]Curse disappearing
[X]More seals
[X]More Rumias, less Nues
>> No. 31185
Hopes and Dreams:
[X] To be free of the curse (with great care not to describe its effects as anything but lies, should Remilia inquire deeper)
[X] Clarity of mind: a mind bogged down by fear, worry, and idle-thoughtlessness surely does nothing to make thinking less difficult
[X] Safety of friends
[X] Elly: because this vote would be OOC otherwise because Elly

Color:
[X] What everyone else said

Also, seconding >>31183 in asking for our old stuff back- clothes and whatever else we left behind in the library, as well as thirding >>31180 in asking Remilia what she looks like.
>> No. 31186
Vote is gonna be called tomorrow barring a sudden surge of people.

From 'two options' to 'writein only' votes. Show me that adaptability!

>>31179
>Red Meat
Flesh derived from the forest of magic is as bountiful as it is magically contaminated. It provokes something similar to an allergic reaction.

For reference.

>>31183
>gimme da seals
The boy requests youkai-hurting implements in front of a youkai? Gutsy! Nah, probably just didn't think it through.

I'm not giving you shit. This is actually an in character thing to do.

>More Rumias
???
>> No. 31187
>>31186
>More Rumias
hoping that the youkai encountered while hunting are more straightforward like Rumia and less tricksy like Nue.
>> No. 31188
>Her body is pure, immaculate, and prone to being torn to shreds.

I regularly find myself loving how you describe things.

>Miniature suns captured in glass cling to the walls, but are black as night when compared to Sister, whose presence not only illuminates but burns the world around her; everything is weak, and dull, and harmless in comparison.

I worry about the potential implications of this, though at once feel that I don't comprehend them, either. If she, in fact, literally burns the world, just what might that make her?

Well, other than the sun. ...I wonder if she's a sun youkai? Is that a thing? I know there's sun gods aplenty, but youkai may be a tad more out there even for the Japanese.

>Reimu looks like a corpse. He can see her dead, eternally terrified face etched into the back of his mind.

...Is it possible that he isn't seeing her in the back of his mind, but that she's actually here? Just a crazy thought.

Also, I'm loving just how manipulative Remilia is, as well as how... easily manipulated the others are. It truly feels like a distinction I could imagine to be the case.

>Accept it she does; the vampire visibly absorbs the ‘thank you’ like some bizzare form of sweet. Her smile is toothy and entirely self-congratulating.

Is this when we are supposed to go "d'aww"? Because I feel like I should.

>The applause Remilia seems to expect must be fulfilled by the girl personally.

And now, too. She gets my vote for most adorable youkai.

[X] "So, what do you look like?"

Wants:

[X] More seals.
[X] More Elly. More good.
[X] The curse to go away.
[X] More Reimu, who is not presumably dead.
[X] Less collar. Maybe none. That would be nice.
[X] His seals. And the things they are stuck to.

Colors:

[X] Elly. Of course she is a color; she is the best color.
>> No. 31189
I have to go to bed. I'll comment this before I do.

>>31188
>Sister stuff
> If she, in fact, literally burns the world, just what might that make her?
I will word the analogy in what should be clearer terms. Say there is a scale of an abstract 'brightness' of an individual from 0 (unnoticeable) to 10 (an unmistakably exceptional person). She exceeds the scale and renders everything else effectively 0 due to relativity effects.

>Less collar. Maybe none. That would be nice.
Schütz has spent much of his life tied to someone. You have made no tangible efforts thus far to distance him from this mindset - instead, you distance the puppy from one particular individual. Consider this going forward.

>seals, etc
A plan for Ran? Or comfort in the relics of a dead friend?

>Remilia
A bird singing to herself for fun, though you're free to enjoy it too.

Thank you for your thoughts!


>>31185
>To be free of the curse
>(with great care not to describe its effects as anything but lies, should Remilia inquire deeper)
While this mercy is granted by me if I were to write it, you are astute to point it out.
>> No. 31190
Given this is a writein only vote, I must take liberties in compressing all you say into a general sentiment. If you have any complaints, etc, do not hesitate to contact me.

While I do call this vote 'called,' if you find it unsatisfactory you are free to try to tilt the scales.

Doggy Dreams:
NO CURSE, the source of all lies (evil.) without it, Elly can stay as she wants to be, and he will not have to hurt anyone by virtue of his existence.

Doing something good is completely alien to the boy has led to nothing but ruin in all but the untouchable (Sister), but if by some miracle he could, then he would (save Reimu.)

{utter rejection of curse}{emphasis on selflessness, and the ability to make positive change or at the very least non-harmful change}

Doggy Color:
Elly's color, which also appears to be Remilia's color. What a coincidence. . . ?

Doggy Thoughts and Talks:
"So, what do you look like?"
and he left some seals behind.
>> No. 31191
If Shots is a doggo I guess Kitty won't like us. What a shame.
>> No. 31192
>>31191
I didn't ask for this
>> No. 31193
>>31191
fucking phone autocorrect I swear to god I typed Schütz, I specifically remember doing the ü
>> No. 31194
File 154061644949.png - (15.03KB, 867x523, shot.png) [iqdb]
31194
>>31193
the now-official mascot of 5.n
>> No. 31195
>>31194
bork
>> No. 31196
>>31194
well I can always appreciate a doggo doin a heckin bork
>> No. 31197
I miscalculated how much time I have by a factor of a week. I need to study very hard now.
>> No. 31198
File 154068824627.png - (262.01KB, 900x650, 1e6f8f30-4f8a-43f7-9e0d-00b905ccb9e0.png) [iqdb]
31198
>>31197
>> No. 31199
3k in.

>>31198
Personally, I study after the finals.
>> No. 31200
File 154083658835.png - (364.36KB, 564x640, 7hgdq53m39n11.png) [iqdb]
31200
>Oh - sure.” The youkai ‘girl’ holds an arm out to Sister as if presenting some kind of

I think you accidentally a word.

>Seal hair tie

Uh? I don't remember this.

> ~crik

Cute...! Pic related.

>Dry your eyes.

That part is a gut punch, but now is not the time to cry. That will come later.
>> No. 31201
>>31200

...The hair tie has been mentioned in literally every update that has mentioned gear, hasn't it? Which I'm 90% sure is every update.
>> No. 31202
>>31201
From the first update up to now.
>> No. 31203
Hopes and dreams? The boy has somehow managed to lose hope more times than he has gained it, and dreaming would require sleep - one of the things he fears most. Colors are manageable. Never mind the fact he can never be sure if the colors he sees are the colors that actually exist. Which side of the ice is real again? The thought drips out of his brain smooth as honey over velcro; the boy shakes his head as a dog would to aid the process.

Elly is - red.

“Red,” he answers out of nowhere. “The color . . red.”

“Scarlet red?” asks the vampire, openly invested.

“Elly - ish red.” For emphasis, the boy gestures with a fluff-cocooned arm to his best friend.

The girl folds her hands. “Right.”

“I’m red,” says Elly.

“I’m afraid . . .” Remilia tapers off deliberately. “That she could be interpreted as scarlet,” the words are dealt sharp and smoothly, a killing blow.

The dog’s skull is thick enough to ward off that which to anyone else might make one stop and think. He blinks, feeling the words plink off his head.

“Scarlet it is,” concludes Remilia. “Excellent choice.”

“. . Ah.”

“Coincidentally, it’s my favorite color too,” she pauses, and receives no tangible response. It may as well be a ‘I’m so interested, please continue’ to the vampire. “It’s the color of my morning - or your night. The sunset.”

“. . .” the boy opens his mouth, then closes it when he notices that the vampire likely prefers to talk to herself. That, and he has nothing to say longer than a grunt.

“Others might call it the color of blood. And the more creative say that the innocence of virgin’s blood burns as a fuel in my eyes.” She pauses. “I can attest that innocence tastes like white bread,” the vampire ends rather blandly.

“~ Hopes and dreams,” she picks right back up. “What are yours?”

The boy winces. That says enough for the vampire.

“I understand it’s hard for you.”

To Schütz, this is nothing but saying: ‘meat is red, and dirt is brown.’

“But, think about it — it really doesn’t matter since you’re going to be running around as someone else in two hours,” the vampire says, offering the voice of reason with one hand outstretched.

“.. h - uh?”

“Again - if you could chose to not be this pitiful self fate has doomed you to be, who would you be?” She cycles her hand hands through the options, infinite. “A librarian with a spunky pet? An elegant maid? A gatekeeper who’s greatest worry is if it’s going to rain tomorrow? Or even - a gracious, infinitely merciful hero?”

The dog-boy frowns into the table. If there were a reflection he would bark at it in frustration. A hero? Me?

“Schütz?” whines Elly.

“. . Ell - y?”

“Does he not want to be Schütz?”

“I . . I . ?”

The boy thinks. It hurts a lot.

“Elly,” says the vampire.

Elly ignores her.

“This boy is definitively yours. I am giving him a choice, not a destiny.”

‘Crik’

“That is no small statement, my friend.”

‘Cri - k?’

“Given any choice with ‘Elly’ involved, we both know that boy would choose you.”

“Me?” eeks out the scarecrow.

The vampire does not relent in her assault. “The boy might distinguish himself as ‘The Scarlet King of the Forest’ and live like a balding gorilla, but he would still have his Elly at his side. That is, if you would not give him up over a few new life choices.”

“I would not!” Any illusion of Elly’s deafness is revoked in its entirety.

“Right! As if Elly would never give up on her Schütz - even if he was not necessarily called Schütz. . .” the vampire pauses. “Right?”

“Yes! The explosively loud mass of putridity is correct!” Elly boldly declares to the tune of a little girl’s awkward grin.

“Elly,” the vampire prods. Nothing bites. “You may call me Remilia.”

“I couldn’t remember Remilia,” counters Elly.

Remilia folds her hands and makes a face that is difficult to describe. Her lips are thin and stretched out like a fish, while her cheeks contain a slight breath of air that exits occasionally as a nasally kind of pseudo-laughter. The vampire gathers herself. “What’s that word you could not remember - my memory, it fails me.”

“Remilia,” Elly reminds her.

“Ah! Right, of course.” Time passes. Remilia must come to terms with finding a skull thicker than a dog’s. This may be a whale. “Did you know that is my name?”

“I forgot,” says Elly.

“Forgot what?”

“Remilia.”

The girl folds her hands, eyes closed and breathing in.

Elly looks at Schütz as she does when she has nothing better to do. “Is Schütz the Scarlet King of the Forest?” she eventually asks.

The boy, who was in fact in deep thought this entire time, blinks. “I - what?”

“Is Schütz a balding gorilla? And what is a gorilla?”

“. . Ah.” He look at the table, and then to a more telling oracle. “Rem - ilia. What is a gorilla? Am I one of those?”

The girl with folded hands and an odd expression sighs. “It’s a big strong ape that eats fruit. And it depends, do you want to be a gorilla?”

“Fruit . . I eat that. A lot.”

“Gorillas also tend to be naked,” adds Remilia.

“Naked - and I eat fruit.” He pauses, frowning. “But I am not strong. And I am not big.” The boy is larger than the vampire, but that says dreadful little.

“You might be more of a bonobo then.”

“I would - like to be big and strong. Like a - gorilla. . ?”

Remilia raises an eyebrow, but appears welcoming. “And why is that, boy?”

And why is that? He asks himself. Why be big and strong? His mind, already tired from thinking, goes through more loops. Then, he realizes something. Immediately, it must go to words, lest it disappear into the muck of his mind.

“I!” he declares, damning and daring himself to finish speaking. “I - I -! I want to be big and strong, because —” The weight of his life and history tugs at his throat, a vice of time and hopeless suffering. No, it does not break, but instead he chokes through it, gasping for air with words that ought to have been crushed out of him long ago. “If I did not have this curse - and I do not want this curse — this stupid, lying, ugly curse!” The swampen ashes of his mind burn from within, a smouldering ruin still bearing reckless dreams. “If I did not have this curse, and I were strong, I could do something. For someone. Something good.”

He stops. Everyone is silent.

There must be something in his eyes. They burn dryly. They must be on fire: disgusting, lavender-tinted fire.

“More than that. Even - more than that. I know I am asking too much from anything.” And I do not care. “But - if I did not have this curse, I would want to be with Elly, and do good things with her. And me. Together. But without me -” The last words spit out, a dog’s petty anger. “Ruining everything.”

The boy breathes in, then out, and repeats this process consciously many times. Fires are kept fanned, though they serve to only heat up a dying mind.

“Good boy,” says Remilia. “It must have been scary.”

The boy, leaning into the table’s stone face with wide eyes scared by his own useless desires, feels something on his scalp. He looks to see it is a dainty little hand, attached to a silly looking youkai ‘girl.’ “. . .” he says nothing, and resists not. His eyes are still dry.

“You don’t have to be scared anymore, Schütz.”

“Schütz? Schütz? A curse, Schütz?” asks Elly, wide-eyed with concern as visceral as a nail between the eyes.

“Stress not the boy. His problems will be gone, whatever they are. It only matters to have an inkling of his desires.”

‘Crik.’

The girl keep kneading his head. His hair is no doubt a mess of oils and dirt.

“One day I should ask you - how did you keep that reckless little fire inside you? The rest were dead on my doorstep. I thought you were too. But look at you.” The hand runs over his scalp, around his ears. “Look at you. Still struggling on the edge of that bottomless pit.”

“. . . ah” “Rem-” He swallows. “Milia. Remilia. Girl.”

“Hm?” She welcomes his voice, careful not to overshadow it with her far-more-bombastic own.

He frowns into the table. “You.”

“I- ?”

He masses his strength to lift up his torso. The girl’s hand slips from his head, and retracts. There is a vicious and silly looking bird in his eyes. It is black all over, and holding onto the body of a girl. Its face is a helmet devouring her head, and its claws hug her body tightly. This is a monster, he knows. In some reality it is real to someone, but not here and now. The girl inside the bird’s mouth smiles back at him slightly. “You . .”

“Iiii?” she encourages.

“So. .” He pauses. Odd heat in his cheeks, but determination on the mind. “What do you look like? Actually.”

The girl looks at him, and that is just it. She keeps looking at him, tilting her head, squinting, folding her hands. No sum of those actions seems to give her the answer she seeks. So she asks: “What?”

“Youk- Girl.” He mentally slaps himself. “Girl - girl. Yes.” That youkai is a girl. “Tell me what you look like. Please.”

“You mean - in an abstract sense? Or are you -” For once, the girl seems caught. For as long as he has scene this bird flit around, singing and enjoying its own existence, he has never seen it caught. It surprises him too. “- asking me what I physically look like?”

The boy pauses, trying to find the correct response. It is not too hard. “Yeah.”

The girl’s face goes hard and serious. “Stay still,” she orders, crawling atop the table and knocking over a glass cup in the process. The girl shimmies towards the stunned but not scared boy.

“. . uh?” he mumbles, unmoving.

It is not long until the girl is over him, crawling right up to his face atop the stone slab of a table. “Lean forward.”

“Uh. . . “ He does anyway.

She clasps his cheek with one hand. “Stay still,” she repeats, before clasping around his eye, and prying the eyelid open to reveal the orb within.

“Whby??” he mumbles through a twisted face.

“Still.”

The boy settles uncomfortably, accepting his fate in the hands of the girl. He sees her eyes. They are like twin fires. Not the terribly overwhelming kind like Sisters, but a persistent spark. Somewhere in there, there might be warmth - but whatever is fueling that mad spark in her eyes is something raw and recognizable. Insanity. He is not put off. No, he keeps staring into those mad, theoretically warm eyes. She stares back, scrutinizing.

“Srry deyy ar ugli,” he tries to speak again, but only to apologize for himself.

Remilia’s face is hard; her brow forms a tight knot of concentration.

“Boy. . .” She appears to want to say more, but she does not, which is worrisome in upon itself.

The boy swallows.

Remilia recedes, though remains cross-legged on the table in front of him. “I will spare you the poetry,” she allows herself to say. “You will be fixed soon.”

The boy looks down into his puffy clothing.

Remilia has nothing she wants to say. Except, of course she cannot let that be the case. “There is one flaw in your question before, boy,” she picks up. “In that you assume I know myself.”

’What?’ Schütz asks silently to himself, tugged from one thought to the next so fast he gets whiplash.

“It’s my reflection, you see? Oh, you wouldn’t. That’s the problem. Even if we were in a gallery of mirrors, my reflection would not show,” she continues to the unreactive audience. “No mirror, pond, or metal sheet can tame her. I’ve scoured every corner of the earth, I say - and believe me, I’ve tried catching her, convincing her, and asking her on a date. But not thick and seductive layers of makeup nor the obscuring masks of beasts could hope to fool her. Alas, my reflection is sly as me, with none of the courage . . . She’s the one force on this earth I could consider a worthy nemesis, that reflection of mine.”

“You . . “ Schütz mumbles, losing track of everything in the jumble of words. “That sounds annoying,” he eventually comments.

“Indeed. I even challenged her to a duel, but she never showed up! I waited in front of a mirror, blade at the ready, for hours.” The vampire appears miffed, to put it mildly.

“What I mean to say is ~ I don’t quite know my own self, myself!” The girl proclaims, smile bold and wonky, unabashed.

“I - apologize. Sorry. Remilia. For asking. Yeah.”

“You only owe an apology to my sister, boy.” “And it’s no hassle - I like talking about myself.” She gestures around her. “Everyone else here has heard it all once or twice ~ a year.” Nothing about that statement suggests an intention to stop.

“Ah. Okay.” He frowns to try to look serious, and nods as best he can.

“Though — could you promise me something, boy?”

“Ah - I . . am not good at that.”

“I believe you could manage it, if you wanted.”

The boy is conflicted. He likes helping people, though he is not sure how he knows that when he has never done it before. He nods, so slightly no one could see it.

Thankfully, the girl is going to keep talking regardless. “If you see my reflection running around, could you relay to me her location? It’s a losing battle, and a hopeless war, but I plan to fight it to the end.” Her grin is toothy, her eyes are bright.

The boy realizes something. “If I see it. I - could catch it.”

She openly laughs at him, but stifles herself to speak: “Pray tell.”

“I can shoot it. It will hit. Then I can keep shooting it until it stops.”

“Shoot ‘her.’ Annd - excellent idea! So ~ mind if I sign an arrow of yours?”

“H uh?”

“Imagine her face when she gets penetrated by an arrow in my name.” The vampire almost looks like he imagines all youkai should: vicious. Almost. Despite the fire in her eyes, and the pointiness of her pure white teeth, it barely registers to him as ‘threatening.’ This is, of course, after he stretches the definition of ‘threatening’ to encompass excitable young girls with sharp teeth.

Imagine her face. The boy imagines Remilia but with an arrow through the forehead. He also imagines she would spend the next while turning it into a conversation piece, so she would probably be glad to have it. “Okay,” he says.

“Another time.” Remilia ends that particular line of conversation. “What I can say now is ~ I’m a vampire, a girl, an admirer of frills, ribbons, and dresses, my eyes are scarlet, and my hair is wavy navy blue,” she answers. Her colossal, thick cloak like wings ruffle behind her back. “Bat wings do wonders for the feisty demonic image, cute as they are.”

It is a good answer.

“Woah,” Schütz vents shock as wind. “You - figured that out . . without a reflection?”

She nods. “Indeed. It was a hard fought battle, but in the end I managed to capture a painter or twenty.”

“Pain - ter?”

“Someone who rubs colors on a surface for a living.”

“Uh . .” How does that make food?

“I could show the fruits of their efforts later.”

“. . Sure,” the boy nods, utterly confused, though he cannot deny that little bit of curiosity inside him. Fruits? When he scribbles figments of food in the dirt, fruit does not appear. Was I doing it wrong?

Bat wings. The boy is pleased that the Remilia before him and invisible to him are similar enough. But bat wings? The bird devouring the girl must not exist. The claws. The wings. The bird head helmet. One side of the ice, or the other? It blurs to him. He tries not to think about it.

Of course, trying to suppress one thought only causes more to sprout from the decapitated head. Ran. The fox. The boy breathes in, then out. “Ah,” he exclaims, numb of body, face, and mind. “Remilia.”

“Yes?”

“My seals. I left them here. I want them back. Okay,” he strings together words without stumbling once. How impressive he is when he does not think.

“The seals which bite at the heels of all that isn’t mortal? Those ones?” Remilia asks.

“Yeah.” “I need them,” he clarifies.

“Mhmm, of course, it all makes sense now.” Remilia nods, looking absolutely very sincere.

“Thank you.”

The girl giggles. “Oh, you. I’ll have the maid fetch them.”

This of all things sounds odd to the boy, knocking him straight from stupor to some semblance of sentience. “Ah. But…” He frowns. “Is she not sleeping?”

Remilia scoffs at the very concept. “She’s tactically resting her eyes and leaning against a wall somewhere while imagining -” The girl cycles her hand to draw out the words. “- dirty dishes? What goes on in a maid’s head is a mystery - but we can always ponder.”

“But not sleeping,” the boy emptily notes, which is preyed upon by the vampire in an instant.

“When I say ‘sleep’ the maid hears something quite different.” She shrugs. “It must mean something different in maid-tongue.”

“. . Dirty dishes?”

“Maids worry about the oddest things. Let’s ask her, shall we?” “Sakuya.”

One, two. .

“Mistress?”

“What were you thinking of just now?”

“. . Mistress,” the maid repeats.

“Two seconds before then.”

“Dirty footsteps trodding down the halls,” the maid answers calmly.

“A-huh -” Remilia nods, and turns to the boy. “Close enough? Close enough.”

The maid stands there, silently but with eminent pressure. “Mistress.”

“Yes.” “Have Meiling fetch the boy’s belongings. And -” The vampire grabs the soon-to-be-retreating maid by the sleeve. “Get. Some. Proper. Sleep.”

“If that is an -” the maid starts.

“That is an order,” Remilia ends.

The much too pale maid disappears before she can show a reaction.

“The language barrier can be broken with sufficient punctuation,” notes Remilia to Schütz.

“Punct - tu - ation?”

“(ahem) Talking. Like. This. Scares. Maids. So. Be. Careful.”

Schütz nods, serious. “I - I understand.” He does not, really, but he would also rather not scare the scary maid.

“Schütz,” says Elly.

“Elly.” He faces her, not smiling, not frowning, not particularly anything. However, that changes when he takes her appearance in, still lightly gore coated, and still a nightmarish apparition to behold. My Elly. My best friend. Schütz almost smiles. What have I done to you? The answer is painful to think about, and rumbles poorly-veiled underneath the swamp of his mind like a ball of sharp. He can make out the rough shape of the thought he seeks to avoid, and that is more than enough to make him sick.

“Can he make a boat after he is helped by the howling tumor?”

“I -” He turns to Remilia for assurance. “- would like to. Please.”

“Oh, a boat? What for?” the girl asks, eyebrow raised.

“So Schütz doesn’t drown, and so Schütz doesn’t sink,” answers Elly.

“So I don’t drown,” repeats Schütz to the vampire.

“I have a question,” says Remilia.

“Okay,” says Schütz, noting the fact that she has a question. “What?” he eventually asks.

“What if you fall off the boat?”

The boy turns to Elly. She is having a great time not paying attention. “Elly.”

“Schütz?”

“What if I fell off the boat?”

“You would sink, and drown.”

“Ah.”

He turns to Remilia. “I would sink and drown.”

The girl folds her hands. “I could never expect,” she says. Something about the way she says it suggests to Schütz otherwise, but why would this youkai lie? He realizes answering that question is more trouble than it is worth. “Alternatively ~ have you considered learning to swim?”

“No,” he answers truthfully. He does not think past that point.

Remilia sighs. “Another time.”

“Remilia?”

“Yes?”

“How do I swim?” he considers for the first time.

“I’m so glad you asked.” She smiles. “I’m not certain myself. But the maid would be so eager to teach you after learning that I ordered her to.”

“Huh,” the boy thinks. “Do I have to speak in pun-tu-ation,” he sounds its out. “Yeah. Do I have to speak in punctuation, to the maid?”

Remilia makes an odd sound. “That won’t be necessary.”

“Good. I - did not want to scare her.”

“Precious.”
>> No. 31204
/ Meiling \

It is a well known fact that the patrons of undergods give their peoples ‘something.’ The serpent brought wisdom to man, and another idiot brought fire. Muses whispered innovations of war and peace through one ear and into civilisation. The less ambitious brought victory to thousands, and lower still are the little divinities who answer an individual’s prayers.

‘. . . So it had to have come from somewhere,’ Meiling thinks, trodding along the halls with a so-called ‘gun’ in her hand. ‘Who was the most stupid patron to think blastpowder was a positive gift to man?’ It is not that the other patrons brought much better. Wisdom, fire, innovation, and victory - none of them strike Meiling as a good ideas. Humans were easier to eat when they hid in caves, like pre-prepared larders. Meiling swallows a pool of saliva in her mouth. Tea is a fine innovation . . maybe.

Divinities and devils gave the little mud people gift upon gift, blessing upon blessing, and now they are all poofing into obscurity. Old monsters have been driven to pockets, and old gods of war or peace can’t manage a gun or ‘computer’ to save their life . . so that is just it: they cease. The gun in Meiling’s hand is heavy. It carries the blood of old gods of war, slain by its sheer practicality. Again, Meiling must wonder what desperate divinity thought blastpowder was a suitable gift for a once-world of mud, wood, rocks, sticks, and metal. No one comes to mind.

They probably got blasted by a cannon the year later as a thank you.

The youkai named Meiling, who is a gatekeeper and nothing else, shrugs to herself. It doesn’t affect her. However, the case under her other arm is filled with something that does. Clothes coated in anti-everything-but-me seals. . the first resort of zealots. Meiling has found that when it comes to ‘anti-(thing)’ countermeasures, that they tend to include her. Anti-monster, anti-evil, anti-demon, anti-divine, anti-this, anti-that. In the end, most human weapons and armors, specialized or not, are made to stop big, bad things from eating the wielder.

Schütz would taste like . . flowers? The seals tear against Meiling’s arm and existence, as if sensing her thoughts. Meiling shrugs, not one to apologize for herself.

\ Meiling /

“So, Elly,” says Remilia.

Elly may have been busy staring at Schütz, but a miracle occurs. She turns to Remilia, and says: “It.” ‘It’ may not seem like much, but the fact Elly acknowledged the vampire without a trigger is astounding.

She,” the vampire corrects, not even close to giving up.

“I - uh - Elly.”

“Schütz?”

“It is a girl.”

“Who?”

“Remilia.”

“What?”

“The youkai.”

“The caustic polyp over there?”

“Yeah. It thinks it is a girl so you should call it a girl. Okay?”

“Is that good?”

“I think - so?”

Elly makes a series of clicks and groans signifying difficulty, before turning to Remilia, and saying: “The writhing noise-creature that thinks it is a girl said something to Elly?”

Remilia may as well be a prop, because Elly does not acknowledge it for more than a second before turning back to Schütz, smiling so wide that it exceeds physical limitation and goes somewhere else less comprehensible.

The boy squeezes his Elly’s hand. What a beautiful Elly. “Good job.”

The scarecrow practically vibrates with pleasure.

“Indeed. I did,” says a not-defeated though thoroughly beaten Remilia. She comes out with a wonky smirk, however, so it cannot be that bad.

“What did it want to say?”

“I’m curious about you.” The vampire trails a finger up and down in the air, creating an invisible circle around Elly. “Whatever you are.”

“Elly.”

“Exactly! But - could you define that?”

“She’s good and red, I believe,” answers Elly.

Remilia nods as if that makes sense - and it should. It makes perfect sense to Schütz.

“You’re trying very hard, aren’t you? To not kill me? Everyone?” she tries another angle.

Elly has nothing to add.

Remilia smiles. “Love can do strange things to people, and ‘Elly’s too.”

“#What’s love? Schütz made me a dress out of it, and the dress tried to erase his existence.”

The vampire adapts quickly. “It’s ~ ah, what you feel for the boy.”

“Disgust?”

“Not. Precisely. No.”

“##?”

“More, it is the reason you tolerate your disgust,” the vampire offers.

‘Cr - ik?’ Then, the scarecrow falls silent.

“Yes. You’re trying very hard, to fight that disgust, but what if you didn’t have to?”

The scarecrow is silent.

“Would you like that?”

More silence.

“Elly?” prods Schütz.

Pain throbs inside his head. A message.

/ ~<o>~ \

>[WELCOME: AMETHYST]
>[MESSAGE RECEIVED FROM: CITRINE | T:7:44]
>>[OPEN: [Y]/N]
>...
>[HELLO.]
>[I’M WAITING IN THE FOYER.]
>[THE FRONT DOOR WAS OPEN.]
>[NO ONE IS HERE.]
>[THE CAT PEED ON THE RUG.]
>[I BROUGHT SAKE!]
>[-CITRINE.]
>...
>[GIRLS ARE PREPARING. PLEASE WAIT WARMLY.]

\ ~~~ /

“Fox,” the boy says emptily.

The fox?”

“Ran.”

“Another patient?” Remilia drums her fingers on the table. “I’m full today, but I can’t just-” she trails off into thought. The drumming is frantic, but rhythmic. “Oh. I almost forgot. I’m the protagonist, I can do anything I want,” she tells herself, face obscured by the maw of her visor. Her eyes are pinpoints of insanity, she aims her reticle at the world itself. When she raises her head, her smile is cocky.

“The boy has helped you immensely already, Elly. But he can only do so much. Nobody can defy fate.” Whimsy drains from the girl like a snake’s skin. Her eyes are hard and penetrating, a focussed, elementally unreasonable insanity. “— Except me. You are doomed. Accept my treatment or suffer. And I will not tolerate the latter.”

“###I-##” Elly groans out, squirming.

“Will you let your life revolve around this cruel, rigged, ‘disgusting’ existence, or let me free you?” Remilia focusses the reticle of her insanity finely on Elly, now. In the line of fire, Elly can only squirm. “Do you want a [choice], Elly? To throw your own die? Shuffle your own deck, and draw your own cards?” The youkai pushes and pushes. Its wings are splain, its eyes pinpricks of purest, youkai spirit. The bird crawling and consuming its back writhes, alive and excited. In contrast, the youkai’s face is stern.

‘crik’

All at once, the youkai recedes. By the slant of its eyes, it is easy to tell the beast is not impressed. “Really, don’t be selfish. I have another patient coming.” ”Just say ‘yes.’”

“Remilia!” the boy finally finds his spirit.

“Boy. .” it draws out the words with not a scrap of want or anticipation.

‘crik’

His fists clench. “Do not be mean to Elly.”

“I’m giving her a gift,” it lectures.

“Meanly!”

‘crik’

“Really?” the youkai asks, brow scrunching for different reasons.

“Yeah! You kept - pressing. Elly is not some kind of -” He waves his arms, one still attached to his Elly. “- thing you press!”

‘crik’

“I don’t have time to wait for the bird to sing. So it would be great if you both said ‘yes’ now.” The youkai drums its fingers on the table a single cycle before stopping. “I can smell the foxy patient’s rotting fate from here. . .” The fingers becomes a fist, which makes a little ‘pat’ as it hits the table. “I’ll be right back. Don’t go anywhere.”

The next moment, the vampire is gone, hopping off the table and jogging on its teeny little legs down the halls beyond the doorway.

“Ah,” blankly exclaims the boy. His head is full of flames and tar.

“#” The boy imagines that Elly is the same.

Both of us are in a personal hell.

“Schütz,” says Elly.

“Ell - y?”

“I will escort Schütz, and I like escorting Schütz.” Elly squeezes the boy’s hand. “I will escort Schütz even if I am not Elly tomorrow.” His hand hurts. “Is he fine with that?”

“I -” the boy starts. Both of us are in a personal hell. “- want you to be happy. Are you happy now, Elly? Like - this?”

She looks at him weirdly with those bottomless voids that substitute eyes. “I’m with Schütz.” It is as simple as that.

“That is . . happiness?”

“The decaying excrement that thinks it is a girl called it love.”

“Ah.” “Elly.”

“Schütz?”

“I want to be cured,” he admits his most stupid, unreasonable desire to the one he trusts most.

“Then I will escort Schütz,” she answers immediately.

All that can be heard is his breathing and Elly’s creaking. Both of us are in a personal hell, but we are together. He owes it to her - everything, that is. Without Elly, where would he be? Not here, with this amazing, beautiful Elly.

He hugs her. Bits of his former corpse stick to his new clothes.

“Thank you. Elly.”

‘~crik’

‘I will not ruin everything. We will be happy,’ a fire in his head insists. It burns away the many good reasons he has to believe otherwise.

. . .

Another message.

/ ~<o>~ \

>[WELCOME: AMETHYST]
>[MESSAGE RECEIVED FROM: CITRINE | T:8:01]
>>[OPEN: [Y]/N]
>...
>[ME: KNOCK KNOCK.]
>[YOU: WHO GOES THERE?]
>[ME: IT IS I, CITRINE.]
>[THEN WE BOTH LAUGH AND DRINK SAKE.]
>[IMAGINE.]
>[THIS COULD HAVE BEEN REALITY IF YOU GREETED ME AT THE DOOR.]
>[BUT NOW I DRANK ALL THE SAKE.]
>[AND THIS LITTLE GIRL IS YAPPING AT ME ABOUT FATE.]
>...
>[GIRLS ARE PREPARING. PLEASE WAIT WARMLY.]

\ ~~~ /
>> No. 31205
Oh, I guess this is where all goes to shit.
Can't have despair without hope, after all.

>Did you know that is my name?”
>“I forgot,” says Elly.
>“Forgot what?”
>"Remilia.”
>The girl folds her hands, eyes closed and breathing in.

You can heal memory but not thickness.

>You owe an apology to my sister

Oh, so she does know. We definitely do.
>> No. 31206
My finals end on the 13th. I will write the next bit then, no sooner.

I found a way to simulate a rough approximation of Elly's perspective, if anyone is curious.

Play this twice with different timestamps (can be random but two are provided for simplicity.)
https://youtu.be/o0Xx3RXyGRE?t=843
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o0Xx3RXyGRE&t=1551s

Overlayed with this at a random timestamp.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tY92NAdGaR4

It's hard to do much more without sticking your head underwater and putting a powerdrill to your ears.
>> No. 31208
To aid in your memories, no doubt rusted by time, I am considering making a gdoc compiling the dog's opinion on all the characters.
>> No. 31209
University is done for good. Returning to writing tonight. Hurrah!
>> No. 31210
unanticipated difficulty writing this update.
>> No. 31211
3.5k in
>> No. 31212
Update done! Editing today, posting tonight! Hurrah!
>> No. 31213
/ Remilia \

There is the distant ‘thwomp’ of a wall exploding and being remade - again. The girl pays it no mind.

‘Another patient.’

Remilia stares up to her patient, a fox. The doctor in Remilia sees a cancer, the hero in her sees a villain, and both of them conclude one thing: ‘another patient.’ Remilia can feel the sword hanging over her own head - the burden of power. One mistake and it falls, skewering her head and heart. There are three patients, as are there three swords. A single one of them could kill her, but against all logic, the devil’s head is filled with giddy fire. Assuredly, she never learnt to stop touching the hot cauldron as a child, so she is blessed that her body does not scar.

“- I insist,” the hero pushes.

“Yep. You do,” says Ran, sporting a rather plastered-on smile. “I noticed.”

It’s needless to say: a dog barks, a cat purrs, and a Remilia insists. “Good. Have you considered listening?”

“Mm, what choice do I have, the ambassador of the Yakumo family? - None.” Flippancy occasionally tails her numb speech, belying whatever semblance of professionalism the fox pretends to hold.

Flippancy sprinkled like cheap spices. An attempt of adding depth to a shallow villain, or maybe a tactless vent of her vexations? Remilia bothers not chasing the fox’s flippant tail - a tangent clear as mud. It’s undoubtedly just another mask, thin and disposable as any other. Though this is an observation, and nothing more. What makes the vampire’s brow twitch is the feeling of impending doom oozing out of Miss Yakumo akin to the desperate strokes of a heart before cardiac arrest. She is merely a villain. There is no scheme, no mask, no hope, no armament sanctimonious or sacrilegious that can affect a loaded pair of dice; and that can’t do.

’But a TRUE hero wouldn’t stand for this injustice!’ the true heroine rallies with a flap of her wings, fanning the flames inside her head that melt all doubt, which with overflowing zealotry flashes scarlet in her eyes. Why did I ever retire, anyway? What’s another sword in the heart, or twenty, a hundred? A downright devious, unladylike mocking guffaw tears from her throat, insulting her own nonexistent weakness. This time it will work. She’s the protagonist - it will work.

“Precisely -” Remilia homes in, stepping forward with a sharp clack of her heel. “Exactly -” a vampire stands directly beneath a fox, and stares up through bosom to an empty smiling face. She pokes the fox in the stomach pointedly, as if there were a tumor just beneath her finger ready to be plucked. “Not a single choice - not one. That can’t do.”

Ran removes the offensive little hand, but Remilia has, in the literal sense, already made her point. “Would you like me to relay your concerns to the Yakumo family?” asks the ambassador, a tower of nonchalance in incidental and unacceptable defiance to the firey little zealot.

“Yes.”

“Ya’ sure?”

“Absolutely. Can I speak with the master?”

Ran tilts her head, ears flopping to the side within baggy hat, gaze flat and now blatantly judgemental behind her bored smile. “I’ll rephrase. Are you sure you want to die?”

The tip of Remilia’s red shoe taps against the ground, swallowed by the echoing bellow of rain beyond closed doors. “Oh, don’t act stupid. I’m the protagonist, I can’t die,” she deflects, and quickly moves on past the obvious, “And, yes, Miss Yakumo, it would be lovely if you could set an appointment between me and the head of the ‘Yakumo’ family,” she pushes.

“Ok.” The roar of the storm just beyond punctuates the following silence. Ran looks down on Remilia, with her face stuck in a perfectly natural, inoffensive pleasantness. Behind that one mask among many, Remilia can sense the ticking of and clicking of gears judging her. It’s almost as if the fox expects Remilia to reconsider. Little does she know, the vampire has never considered more than once on a topic in her life.

“Right. Then, I shall relay your concerns regarding my freedom of choice after I’m done with my target. It’s my obligation as the ambassador of the Yakumo family to act as the tether between the general populace and the Yakumo family,” the fox lists off blandly.

“Excellent.” “But what would you rather be doing? Surely not - all of this.” The typical interrogation pattern ensues.

“That reminds me, Remilia,” says the effectively emotionless tower.

“Yes, Miss Yakumo?”

“You’re in my way.”

“. . What?”

“I’m trying to get in, and you’re in my way,” lists off Ran, soullessly pleasant as ever.

Remilia nods, acknowledging the fact those were words; spoken words by an actual sentient creature that presumably has a mind. “Really - what? I’ve invited you in a dozen times.” She gestures for emphasis, a welcoming host - or a doctor ushering a patient.

“It is well within the limits of possibility that you could be lying to me, therefore. . .” The fox breathes in, savoring an unknown something beneath that mask of hers. “Therefore you are an obstruction. Not quite a threat, not quite a nothing, but an obstruction. Do you know what that means, Remilia?”

Remilia defines what it means to look unimpressed. “Miss Yakumo. Are you going to come inside or do I have to break your legs?” she asks flatly.

Regardless, the fox cracks the mask concealing a thin, predatory smile. It is a surprise to no one, especially not Remilia, and begs the question why she bothered hiding it in the first place. A poorly written villain? “It means we can have a spellcard duel.”

“Okay - okay. On what grounds then?” It’s Remilia’s turn to sound tired out of her mind.

“My free passage through this territory.”

“Consider your passage free. Now, let’s -”

“Hmm - Nah. I don’t believe you. Sorry,” interjects the least sorry creature in known existence.

Remilia briskly takes Miss Yakumo’s hand. Leading a horse to water yet again, the legendary, fearsome Scarlet Charro! “Don’t be absurd-”

Ran’s spirit is smothered like it never existed, replaced with the frigidity of hell. Remilia pauses just to be courteous. Villains need to feel strong and important sometimes, it’s good for their health if not for their delusion of control. “Touch me again and I will consider it a potential threat. A threat to me is a threat to the interests of the Yakumo family. A threat to the Yakumo family is destroyed,” the villain lists off, leaving a trail of verbal permafrost that deafens the storm outside, and makes hearing her blatherskite easier.

“Fine. Go on, then.” Remilia releases the hand, not out of any fear, but the knowledge that the patient’s calm is more valuable. Tantrums are useless. The vampire sighs internally. Whatever it takes to get the patient to my table.

“We are having a spellcard duel, Remilia, for my right of entry.” The terms are clear. Then, unfettered by any standards of consistency and tension, Ran takes a gourd from apparently nowhere, and chugs. “Please don’t tell Schütz I brought another gourd. The boy is a natural alcoholic, I sense it,” she calls out with a finger to her noggin between one long sip and another. The flippancy cuts through the ice smooth as a butter-knife across gravel.

Remilia blinks. None of this could hope to snuff the fire in her head. The only question is how to vent it constructively. Any zealot can burn down a building, it takes a special kind of fire to bring warmth. “These ‘spellcard duels,’ I . . .” Remilia starts.

“Hm?” Ears are perked. It’s hard to cover such large ears with a mask, and a pantaloon hat can only do so much.

“I’ve never had a chance to try them.”

A flick of the ear. “Yep, yep - the idea of not tearing one another to bits in a gorilla fight is absurd to the common gorilla. But I trust it will catch on.”

“The terms of a duel, how are they enforced, precisely?”

“With a gorilla,” Ran answers simply.

Remilia nods to herself. “A big gorilla. Of course.” The words reverberate in Remilia’s mind, tickling all the wrong senses. A big ‘gorilla’ to enforce the rules? Smells like another patient. I’ve wandered into a sick ward, haven’t I? The makings of a fourth dirk begin to form over her head.

“Yep.” The fox would end it there, but instead they keep talking. “Ultimately, the best persuasion is but another, bigger gorilla. Though the spellcard rules are poignant enough to forego tasteless violence through the judiciary process, at least. Yet, still, I look down and see blood on the soil rather than a splash of pretty colors.”

“But it could catch on?” Remilia prods.

“No. It will.”

“Starting here, I assume?”

“No, no - this duel is only because you are an obstruction to the interests if the Yakumo family, not for some irrelevant fox’s whims,” drawls a dry fox.

“Oh. My mistake.”

“It’s no problem.”

“My terms. . .” Remilia openly ponders.

“Your terms,” mirrors Ran. “If they are against the interests of the Yakumo family it must be considered a threat,” she says.

“Sure. If I win, I grant you right of entry.”

“Yep ~ yep, and when I win, you grant me right of entry.” “Best of three.”

“Best of one,” Remilia intercepts.

Ran is deathly quiet, ears still, and without recourse. It reminds Remilia of a child, quietly sulking with their favorite toy locked in a cupboard, just out of reach.

FINE - FINE! Damn my golden heart. “Best of three,” she tacitly amends. But a hero against a villain. There is only one possibility. Poor child. Poor, poor child.

“Best of three, best of three,” the fox repeats to herself flatly, but she could not hope to hide that childish excitement from her tails, wagging and writhing like a ball of baby stoats. “Prepare yourself.”

Remilia considers, briefly, that she may have to make up ‘spellcards’ as she goes along. But how hard could it be?

There is the distant ‘thwomp’ of a wall exploding and being remade - again.

\ REMILIA /

/ ~<o>~ \

>[WELCOME: AMETHYST]
>[MESSAGE RECEIVED FROM: CITRINE | T:8:06]
>>[OPEN: [Y]/N]
>...
>[CELEBRATE WITH ME.]
>[YAHOO.]
>[THIS SILLY LITTLE YOUKAI GIRL BLOCKS MY PATH.]
>[THANKFULLY I RECALLED THAT AN EXCEEDINGLY INTELLIGENT KITSUNE DEVISED THE SPELLCARD SYSTEM.]
>[FOR THE PRECISE CIRCUMSTANCE OF DEALING WITH EXCITABLE LITTLE YOUKAI GIRLS.]
>[-CITRINE]
>...
>[GIRLS ARE PREPARING. PLEASE WAIT WARMLY.]

\ ~~~ /

Schütz reads, then summarily throws into mental garbage.

He and Elly are enjoying each other's company in the only way they know how. Which is to say, Elly is boring a hole into him with nonexistent eyes, while the boy squirms in place. They are on even ground, hell, that is, so why does he still squirm like a lesser?

He feels like a spectator. All he can do is watch, and hope he does not ruin everything by virtue of his presence. That little ‘vampire’ ‘girl’ offers an alternative to who or what he has been his entire life, even if it took disaster for him to realize it at first. He didn’t always think death was the only exit, but as old as he is, and for all he has tried, there has only ever been one way out he can find. Sister clogs it with her indestructible will. So here he is, a spectator watching himself move. He has no choice. This feeling is not new to him. The thought of there being a tangible ‘something else’ feels like a fantasy, a bait on a hook dragging him towards the same hell with a different name. Again, he has no choice.

“A cure,” he mumbles to himself.

The boy hears it before he sees it, the sloppy lumbering footsteps of Meiling. He turns around, to see just that. ’It is Meiling,’ his dull mind astutely points out. “Yeah it is,” he tells himself to Meiling, before addressing the youkai directly, “Hello Meiling.”

The youkai leans on one side, bearing a gun in one hand, and a vessel under the other arm. “Hey. Schütz - doing as he should,” it addresses him, then turns to the other, “And Elly . . just Elly.”

“I’m Elly,” Elly confirms.

“Hey,” greets Meiling with a gun-filled wave.

Elly has nothing to say to that.

The youkai hefts down the case with little love or care, then admires their own spasmodically twitching arm. Whatever is in that suitcase is undoubtedly the cause. The youkai shakes it off. “Your clothes,” the youkai gestures briefly to the case, before trotting on over to him. “Your gun.”

It presents a gun to the boy in its bulbous moss-green arm.

Parabellum The gun Sister gave to him. For a reason his mind cannot bear to present, he does not touch it. The boy looks at the gun like it is a foreign object, but he has had the thing for years, an omnipresent metal tube on his hip, a limb of its own like his bow. “Ah,” he mumbles. “Okay.”

The youkai shrugs, placing the gun on the table. “A gun. The bloodiest weapon you will find,” it drawls. “I wonder if the mistress could sate herself on it . . or maybe the gods blood is too gross for her.” Again, the youkai shrugs. “I can’t say much. I’m not a vampire. . nor am I fussy.”

Meanwhile, Meiling’s arm seizures. The youkai does not seem to notice.

“Your arm. Is it - are you fine?” the boy finally asks the begging question.

Meiling gradually lifts up the twitching appendage, and pokes it idly with what Schütz assumes to be their working hand. “This?”

The boy nods, not quite sure why he needs to.

“It happens,” says the youkai.

“Oh. . Okay.”

“I will be fine.”

‘. . Good.”

“It’s worse when you eat them.” Meiling look down at their abdomen, an indistinct lump of green like any other in Schütz’ eyes. “Makes the body eat itself from the inside.”

“Why would you?” His brow scrunches. The boy tries his best to empathize with the youkai, he truly does.

“- eat them?” the youkai asks itself the same question, pondering with a puff of stormcloud. “Hunger. . Boredom. . Accidents. .” It refocuses on Schütz. “You know, when you find yourself eating a vampire hunter, always check the holes. The sneakiest ones wield the strangest things in the strangest places. Seals . . quicksilver vials . . holy beads . . Check for anything dangerous that can fit in a human hole.”

“Ah.”

“And . . a new hole in the stomach only makes you hungrier. Don’t eat seals for hunger. Though, for boredom. Yes. Eating seals will make you less bored,” Meiling ponders on. “Eat anti-everything seals when you’re bored. Can bet on which organs fail first. Can feel sorry having no one around to bet with. But . .” Meiling freezes, a dark revelation striking them cold to the heart. “Actually - do not. The maid will kill you.” The youkai’s whiskers twitch in a rare sight of alertness.

“I will - not,” the boy confirms.

“Don’t be a Meiling. Follow someone elses example. Like. .”

“Elly?”

The youkai looks at Elly, then back to Schütz. “Like Elly.” It pauses, then continues, “But not Elly.”

Schütz nods, confused.

“Vowing to end all life on a whim is . . bothersome.” Meiling’s stance on omnicide is a hard ‘no.’

“Bothersome?” he echoes. Schütz, however, is undecided.

“It causes . . bother,” the youkai clarifies. “Though . . it would make my job easier. As a gatekeeper.” It shrugs. “Always a positive somewhere.” The youkai ambles vaguely around the table, until it finds Remilia’s former chair. It plonks down on it, and the chair’s pleas for mercy are muffled in great green behind. “If you want a rolemodel . . how about the maid?”

“Maid,” he echoes dumbly. “Scary,” he says the first thing his mind spits out. “Scary.”

“Scary. Yeah,” Meiling nods heavily. “She can cook, and clean, and . . cutely fail at everything else, I suppose . .? And still she tries the hardest of them all. It’s scary. That maid is scary …” Meiling looks down from the ceiling, whiskers twitching unevenly. “Do you know how hard trying is? It’s . .” It searches for the word. “— Bothersome. Makes the mind and body sore.” There is more to be said, but it is lost in a trail of meaningful smoke.

“Whenever I try I regret it.” Meiling continues, leading into a bizarre dusty wheeze of amusement. “So don’t be like a Meiling, flower.”

“Trying.” “Doing something?” “That is -” “Scary.” The boy stumbles through a thought of his own, just one, and it is terrifying he can manage that after all he has been through.

“Trying? Do it if you want to look cute. Or . . . if you want to say you tried?” Meiling thinks. “I like cute things. That meaning . . try if you want gatekeepers to laugh at you rear when you fail?”

“Is Elly cute?” asks Schütz the most powerful, thought provoking question a dead mind can conjure.

“Is Elly cute?” Elly mirrors to Schütz.

The boy silently pleads to Meiling for guidance.

“No.”

“No,” Schütz instantly relays.

Elly makes a pleased sound. It violates the ears in a unique way, so Schütz can tell it apart from the other guttural screeches.

“No . . That is what a Meiling would say,” the youkai continues. “What does a Schütz say?”

“N - no?”

“Flower . .” Meiling shakes her head. “I said not to follow what Meiling says. And . . calling your girl not cute is . . .”

“Huh?”

“Flower.”

“Meil - ing?”

“Since you think it’s a noble idea to follow my lead. I will try to act well. Just this once . . and only once, repeat after me —” The youkai breathes in. “‘Elly is cute.’”

“Elly is - cute?” the boy echoes to Meiling.

“Repeat that to Elly.”

“Elly.”

“Schütz?”

“Meiling told me to tell you that Elly is cute.”

“No he didn’t. He thought of that entirely on his own,” interjects Meiling at surprising speed for Meiling.

“I - did?” he asks, genuine. The youkai only succeeds in grabbing his attention.

“Yeah.” It tried. It regrets.

“I do not remember thinking Elly is cute . . .”

“Schütz.” She squeezes his hand. “Schütz.”

“Elly?”

“What’s cute? And why am I cute?” Elly leans in, her eyes bottomless pits leading straight to what Schütz can only assume to be heaven.

The boy tears his eyes away, and turns to his only guidance. “What is cute?”

Smoke dribbles freely out of Meiling’s half closed-flat maw. Its whiskers feel around the air idly. It sighs ponderously, then speaks, “Cute is when you want to . .” Meiling starts, then stops with a spot of smoke. “No. Mentally . . you may both be too young for this. The maid would kill me for introducing children to . . Though that sister of yours . . Nothing. Nevermind.” It breathes in and out a few times, drinking smoke from the air and regurgitating it, a working analogy for thoughts. “Cute is when you want to be near something. . Because it makes you feel better. By being near it.” The youkai’s speech manages to be more slipshod than usual, a crumbling construction of words fit only to pedestal the dumbest of ideas.

“My bow?”

“Like a bow,” starts Meiling, “But not like a bow,” ends Meiling.

“Ah.” He nods.

“More maid-shaped.”

“Ah.” No matter how much he nods, he still understands nothing.

“Elly is cute because to you she is maid-shaped,” drawls Meiling. “Though it is more like Elly-shaped to you. My maid-shaped is your Elly-shaped. . Yes.” The youkai looks up, proud in its own way.

“Ah - I . . get it?” the boy questions his own words. “I do? I do.”

He smiles weakly, the best he can manage if he is to be truthful. “Elly.”

“Schütz?”

“You are cute because you are Elly-shaped. And I like to be near Elly-shaped . . things? Yeah.”

“Cute. C - u - t - e,” Elly exercises it. “I have always been Elly shaped,” she says.

“Always cute. Then.” He glances to Meiling for confirmation. Meiling nods briskly.

“Then I’ll believe it. Elly is cute,” says Elly. “Nothing else is Elly-shaped, and nothing else is cute.”

“Yeah.” “True.”

Meiling watches, nothing more.

“So . . . Did you accept her offer?” the youkai eventually asks.

“Uh?”

“Remilia’s extortion of your soul.”

“Ah.” “Yeah. The fate - thing. Yeah.”

“You said yes . ?”

“Will.” it needs no thought to say what has already been decided.

“Ah - -” Meiling visibly deflates with relief, whiskers fanning out. “Maid won’t have to scrape you off the walls. . I won’t have to rifle through the compost bins for scraps. . Elly won’t have to terminate all life after it learns what grief is. .” “Always a positive.”

“Y-yeah?” “It - could - work. Maybe. I . . hope?” The boy can feel the part of his mind that allows speech rotting with each word spat.

“Doubting her will only make her more . . Remilia . . ish?” Meiling looks up to the sky: but a wood ceiling, coated in orbs of light held together by wires aplenty. “You know . . the world should have ended a while ago. Years . . months . . days . . centuries back? I don’t know. I don’t know why I know this.” “Remilia. Remilia is something that shouldn’t exist. World should've ended by now. Instead we have Remilia, I suppose.”

“She . .” the boy mutters, unsure how to continue the thought.

“She’s something special. I don’t really know who she is. I don’t know her reasons. All I know is what she does.” Meiling speaks to a ceiling of artificial stars, then falls back to earth. “Retirement never would have worked. Escaping to Gensokyo was a farce. The second she heard of you she . . changed.” “Everyone changed . . . on the inside.”


“I -” “Apologize.”

“Don’t bother yourself with it. I won’t ask who . . or what . . or why you are,” Meiling dribbles on. “I know — that storm outside. That was me. Wasn’t it?”

The boy stares into the table, guilty, silent with shame but incapable of speaking even if he could.

Meiling sighs. “You don’t need to answer.” “I don’t know why I know what I know. But I know that the world keeps trying to end . . again. And Remilia will stop it - again. So, I ask -” Meiling breathes in. “- Trust her. The who, what, and why you are? It won’t matter soon. So trust her.”

Trust. Who can he ever trust? Not himself. Sister? He can trust her to hurt him. Elly? Yes. Elly. He can trust her to be Elly. But Remilia? ‘Trusting Remilia,’ the thought is slimy, a slug of tar in his head, leaving trails of toxic all over. “I - I … ” it is not even speech at this point, but static emanations.

“You know, I saved the world just then, before. I don’t know how to take it.” The youkai looks at its hands, one still twitching. “That sister of yours. She wanted to kill Remilia … so it goes when two tyrants meet. I tried using words. Not fists. I tried, can you believe it? I don’t know. But it worked.” “Talking . . I wonder how Remilia does it so often. It’s hard.” “When a dolt like Meiling sees something wrong, she only wants to punch it. This . . ‘wordplay.’ It does not suit me. But you can see I am trying.” It looks up again, making that scraping, dusty noise reminiscent of amusement, but it is only self mockery. “Doesn’t seem to be cute when I do it, though.”

“Saving the world - part of me feels good about it. I don’t know why. That never happens. And … I never really cared about the world, myself.” it shrugs, before being struck by a revelation told in a puff of smoke. “Perhaps that’s why Remilia does it? To feel good about herself?” The youkai sighs, exhausted with themself. “No. That is what it is like to be Meiling. The worm sees Remilia above, and tries to drag the star into the dirt with her. What an ugly, selfish, conceited creature, that Meiling. Someone like her could never understand Remilia, but she can surely, just barely, manage to admire her.”

“I will -” the boy stumbles, and scrambles to regain footing. “I will try. To trust her - Remilia.”

“Feels good to hear that. More people should. Everyone should. But it’s just us here, and the rest of the world there.” The youkai pauses, a ponderous wad of smoke forming within and releasing. “Remilia retired for a reason. You know, I don’t actually remember why. I don’t remember anything important since I got here - Gensokyo. I wonder why. It gets me nowhere.”

’Fish trapped under ice. Their reflections warped and distorted,’ sparks fly in his frying brain, causing his brow to knot in pain. “Me. Neither.” I could crack the ice. ‘End the world.’ I know it. I know it.

“Knowing … is given too much value. Truth or fiction, whatever makes you happy. Personally . . . I’m happy to not think, though I think too much.” It looks to the ceiling, either seeing something profound, or just enjoying the pretty lights. “And I think: what a hypocrite.”

“I wonder . . . Those nipping clothes. That bloody gun. What do you need them for? … You won’t remember them tomorrow, will you?”



“Ah- - Yes. Tomorrow we can pretend this all never happened. Sip some tea. . Play some cards. . Do you gamble? I do, but I don’t - no one wants to gamble with me,” the youkai rambles on. “I don’t have any valuables left. Remilia took all of them the first and last time we played cards. I didn’t know the rules. Still don’t.”

“We can use . . flowers?” it postulates.

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

Cold leaks through Schütz’ blood, freezing his eyes on the case containing his clothes. He swallows saliva from a dry mouth, and scratches raw and red an itch that does not exist.

He never asked for Parabellum, but those clothes are . . .
[A1: For - protection? From what? From a fox?] {keep}
[A2: For what? From what? . . . Nothing?] {abandon}

There is another reason. Those clothes. Those clothes. Those clothes. He does not feel like remembering it, and his husk of a head does not argue against a moment of rest. Except, no. THOSE CLOTHES. The ability for his mind to keep screaming while bruised and beaten is as incredible as it is self-destructive.

[B:] {???}

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

Items:
Bow (Heavily Anti-Youkai Seal Fitted, Hakurei Brand, Blood Coated ‘Kitsune’)
Seal Hairtie (Unknown Properties)
One-Piece Clothing (Fluffy, Puffy, Animal Hide, Blood Stained ‘Schütz’)

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

Curse: ~~~

Moon Phase: <o “last quarter”

Time: Early Night

\o==================8875===================o/
>> No. 31214
Wait was due to finals and having to fumble my way through some fairly difficult-to-navigate character interactions. I refuse to sacrifice on the standard of quality I uphold, whatever standard you believe that is. Haha.

If you're ever curious as to what's up, I try to be diligent with my saged tidbits.

Remember to try out Elly's perspective:
>>31206
Get to know the second best girl better. (True fans will grab a powerdrill and go to town on the frontal lobes.)(Truer fans will do that while drowning under several many atmospheres of oceanic pressure.)
>> No. 31215
[A1]
[B]

These clothes are an eyesore.

I voted for keep, and to ask for the clothes in the first place, but that said I wasn't planning on fighting Ran or anyone in the mansion. It's just, it's our stuff, you know? I must hoard. Plus, those seals are from a dead friend, and are needed for hunting. I doubt we'll be doing much hunting in the quest, but it'd be like ditching the bow — sure we're probably not going to actually kill anyone with it, but it just feels wrong to abandon. I completely forgot about the gun, it's been a while, but hey that's great, now we can use Firsthand Curse ~ “Freischütz” in a Spellcard duel, as it required the gun as a focus. I mean, kinda doubt we'll be winning any of those, or using Freishütz instead of Elly is Good, but more options is more options
>> No. 31216
>>31215
A and B are mutually exclusive. Furthermore, B is a 'hidden option' in the sense I intend for you to figure it out if you want to vote for it. Otherwise, please stick to merely keeping or discarding the clothes.

I'd recommend taking a less pragmatic approach in terms of the objective utility of the clothing, and rather consider why Schütz actually wants a motley of Hakurei-sealed rags.
>> No. 31217
>>31216
Whoops. Ignore the [B] vote then, please.
>> No. 31218
>[A1: For - protection? From what? From a fox?] {keep}
>[A2: For what? From what? . . . Nothing?] {abandon}
I don't expect seals will actually mean anything as far as protecting us from Ran, so this is more just a question of our attitude toward her. I fear what Ran might do at the will of the Yakumo family, but she seems decent personally, and I'd like to trust her.

>[B:] {???}
Very mysterious and risky looking option. Looks like Schütz is blocking out some memories related to these clothes. (Related to girl who gave him the seals?) This feels like a choice that will wake up the curse, but it's also probably our last chance to figure out what Schütz is suppressing if what Meiling says is true, and we'll forget all about these clothes after treatment.

It's probably not wise to tempt the curse in general, even less so when Ran is already on the way to "kill" us over activating it. Still, I think it will be worthwhile to dig into what Schütz doesn't want to remember if we want to find any answers.

[X] [B:] {???}
If B doesn't get any traction, I'll shift my vote to A2.
>> No. 31220
[X] A1

You know, I'm starting to think that Remilia has good intentions, but will go about it the wrong way. Hence this choice.

Purely theorizing. But I think that if we wholly follow through Remilia's will, she intends to just wipe our slate clean and reform Schutz into her 'ideal' image of what he should be.

Whether or not she'll be entirely successful or not, doesn't really matter to her. So long as the end result satisfies her.

If we discard the clothes and disregard everything we've built up to now in exchange for giving up to Remi, I imagine it'll just come back two-fold because she tried to shuffle his curse under the metaphorical rug.

If we keep it, I imagine we'll follow along with her plans, but we'll keep our "Will" of resolving the situation on our own terms. It'd hurt and be annoying. But as they say, "the cure is worse than the illness."

On the topic of [B]. I imagine it's got something to do with Reimu's last words to him and most likely a promise to fulfill something that either he believed that he failed to accomplish or an act of - fuck.

what if Schutz promised Reimu to be the Hakurei priest following her death but failed because of his curse?

I'm probably way off, since I haven't checked back on any of the previous threads. But I hope that I'm on some kind of track parallel to the actual answer.

It'd probably explain Ran's interest in him with his accidental manipulation of the border and by extension, Yukari...
>> No. 31221
I see you are all thinking about it. There is no such thing as overthinking here. I can write it down as many times and in many different ways as I can in-story, but I can't help you outside of it.

I hope you are all well and non-hospitalized.

The vote will be called in a few days: 3? 5? I will grant some leeway given it has been a while.

>>31218
>I don't expect seals will actually mean anything as far as protecting us from Ran
To jog your memory - Schütz fired around 10(?) or so sealed arrows between its head and brain. They had no noticeable effect besides provoke its instinctual desire to text fox emoticons.

>If B doesn't get any traction, I'll shift my vote to A2.
Perfectly acceptable. Good to see this system being used.
>> No. 31222
If I see it as abandoning his past notion of Youkai as stupid beasts, I'd throw them out. But... maybe he'll need them for "fighting" against Ran or sister? In a simbolic sense, of course.

Wait does he even remember who gave them to him? Believing in the curse is bad but remembering is, well, paramount.
>> No. 31223
[B:]Remember Reimu
Mementos keeps memories alive.
>> No. 31225
>>31224
A and B are mutually exclusive.

Clarity:
>Villains need to feel strong and important sometimes, it’s good for their health if not for their delusion of control.
This was Remilia referring to Ran.

>Or perhaps it is better said that this could be what Schutz sees?
All perspective shifts are angled from the perspective of the relevant character.

>I... ...What? I thought Parabellum was a knife?
The knife has no name. Parabellum is the pistol Schütz lost after undressing for miss Patchouli Knowledge.

>Meiling, giant, etc
The youkai looks large and bulky from the boy's perspective, but in this instance Meiling was staring up to the ceiling, then looked down.
>> No. 31226
So meiling is aware of the end of the world. I wonder if she knows about the curse? Probably not.

She speaks as if he will forget about all of this soon, but is that due to the curse or Remilia's treatment MO? Then again, she did said everyone should listen to her. I guess forgetting bad things is how a cynical man eating dragon would see things, even after seeing how the talking she dreaded so much worked when force did not.


[B:]

If it doesn't gain majority...

[A2]
>> No. 31227
>“Precious.”

I like that both Meiling and Remilia seem to find him adorable.

>Schütz would taste like . . flowers? The seals tear against Meiling’s arm and existence, as if sensing her thoughts. Meiling shrugs, not one to apologize for herself

Interesting... Are the seals sentient? They seem reactive, at the very least. They seemed to start doing their thing only when she had dangerous thoughts. I wonder how exactly these charms work? ...I wonder what Schutz's hair charm does? Does it react to youkai, or does it react to something else?

>“Another patient?” Remilia drums her fingers on the table. “I’m full today, but I can’t just-” she trails off into thought. The drumming is frantic, but rhythmic. “Oh. I almost forgot. I’m the protagonist, I can do anything I want,” she tells herself, face obscured by the maw of her visor. Her eyes are pinpoints of insanity, she aims her reticle at the world itself. When she raises her head, her smile is cocky.

...Interesting. This says so much and yet so little. Twice, now, has she been called insane. But to call herself the protagonist is... odd.

>‘I will not ruin everything. We will be happy,’ a fire in his head insists. It burns away the many good reasons he has to believe otherwise.

I have to wonder if this is just a fun description, Remilia fate powers, or the charm. That mention of burning is concerning.

>Remilia pauses just to be courteous. Villains need to feel strong and important sometimes, it’s good for their health if not for their delusion of control.

Remilia has the balls of a hamster and the spunk of a villain. ...Now I'm starting to wonder just what the title of the story is meant to mean.

>The makings of a fourth dirk begin to form over her head.

I'm starting to wonder if this is literal. Or perhaps it is better said that this could be what Schutz sees? I worry what she would be like when the eye opens.

>Parabellum The gun Sister gave to him. For a reason his mind cannot bear to present, he does not touch it. The boy looks at the gun like it is a foreign object, but he has had the thing for years, an omnipresent metal tube on his hip, a limb of its own like his bow. “Ah,” he mumbles. “Okay.”

I... ...What? I thought Parabellum was a knife? Something feels very... wrong. Is this Remilia's changing who he is? Am I so blind as to miss this? There wasn't even a mention of ammo in his inventory...

>“Scary. Yeah,” Meiling nods heavily. “She can cook, and clean, and . . cutely fail at everything else, I suppose . .? And still she tries the hardest of them all. It’s scary. That maid is scary …” Meiling looks down from the ceiling, whiskers twitching unevenly. “Do you know how hard trying is? It’s . .” It searches for the word. “— Bothersome. Makes the mind and body sore.” There is more to be said, but it is lost in a trail of meaningful smoke.

...I feel like I'm learning some oddly missed details?? When was Meiling a giant? Am I going crazy?

>’Fish trapped under ice. Their reflections warped and distorted,’ sparks fly in his frying brain, causing his brow to knot in pain. “Me. Neither.” I could crack the ice. ‘End the world.’ I know it. I know it.

Ran's words are starting to make sense. I don't know if that sense makes sense, but at least sense is being made.


You know, I'm starting to wonder... is that hair tie seal like Rumia's? Not something to protect us from them, but them from us? Or even memories? Something doesn't smell right.

Could it be that taking it off is B?

[B] Try to remember what the unknown charm does.

>>31220

>what if Schutz promised Reimu to be the Hakurei priest following her death but failed because of his curse?

I wonder what that'd mean for the B vote, if it actually is the case.
>> No. 31228
...Wait, is it possible that the write-in is asking about Ran's cat? Clearly that is reckless beyond anything we have done, and thus not obvious to him! After all, there is nothing less wise than talking to a crazy cat lady about her babies.

Wait, or maybe it's to tell Ran a cat name? Such a monumental thing that it would invalidate other votes... But we must persevere! We can't go into that calm night! No, we can't go out without a fight!

But, in all seriousness, I have to wonder... What exactly was it that Schutz normally wears? Has it been mentioned in specifics? With his talk about his clothes, that may be tied to B.

>>31225

>This was Remilia referring to Ran.

I know.

>The youkai looks large and bulky from the boy's perspective, but in this instance Meiling was staring up to the ceiling, then looked down.

Ahh. I thought it was saying that her head reached it and that she was looking down from that height.
>> No. 31229
Six people after such a long hiatus? Great. I worked very hard on these updates, though that's nothing new.

The vote will be called tomorrow if there is no further discussion.

>>31228
>What exactly was it that Schutz normally wears?
Motley of well-maintained, chimeric masses of tough clothing bound together by seals. Think of a gillie suit, but made of seals and ragtag bits of cloth peaking out.

>Has it been mentioned in specifics?
Much earlier. Likely, around when he stripped for the purple weirdo.
>> No. 31230
B:

Set.
You're doing OK.
>> No. 31243
2k in. This will take time.
>> No. 31248
The dog stares the case of clothes down, snarling at his own confusion, and scratching red and raw itches that do not exist. “Those clothes - those seals - are — they are -” the boy fumbles at the speed of melting thought. His head is full of sludge - a melting pit where everything ends up and nothing escapes. ‘They?’ he asks himself, but wherever that voice inside him came from has already melted. He could leave it at that. He could make up a reason to keep those seals, or discard them. It would not be hard. Instead, here he is, knee deep in the proverbial acidic bath of his mind, searching for that fleeting thought.

What a reckless idiot.

Come back. Please.

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

Something disgusting and foul inside him obliges. Eyes the color of bruises, or ‘amethyst,’ line the inside of his skull. He does not even try to suppress it - rather, his inaction is a form of invitation. Light flickers purple, and the air hums with danger recognized but not heeded. Here I am. Where? It feels familiar, nostalgic in a way akin to revisiting a pool you once almost drowned in.

LOST≠FOUND

He looks around with eyes that are not his own, and finds what he needs: two distinct states of existence made real by belief -

LOST=FOUND

- and the boy, untrained, uncontrolled and incapable of doing anything else, makes that belief irrelevant; he breaks the barrier. ‘Lost’ and ‘Found’ dissolve into one just for him.

\ ~<o>~ /

Schütz feels sick in his everywhere, as if his entire body were filled with bile, a blood that is not his own. ‘Hurts a lot.’ he notes with no intention to change the fact. More importantly, he remembers what he lost. Those seals.

/ his personal hell, many years ago \

A lot of time has passed since he met Hakurei. The only way for the child-of-mind to recognize its long passage is the distinct tone becoming of his muscles, and the springing of hairs that grow in places he thought only suited beasts. Hakurei is changing too. With food constantly in her belly, nothing is stopping her growth. In fact, she will exceed him soon. He can feel it.

It is the best time of day. Except, it has been that time for a while now. The sun is beginning to set and Hakurei is not here. The beast she had named a ‘tiger’ lies next to him, bleeding dryly from where an arrow once punctured its heart. Hakurei would eat most of it; the boy knows he would not be able to handle more than a few bites. That is how it goes in the Forest of Magic. Something about ‘contamination,’ she said. All that means to him is that eating is hard.

So, more time passes. The bite he takes out of the tiger is spat out just as soon. Without Hakurei around he finds it hard to convince himself that it is worth trying to eat the wretched meat.

“Hey.”

‘It is her!’ the plain thought shoots sparks through his body, bringing a candid expression to his face. The precise feeling and expression of a puppy waiting at the owner’s door, finally rewarded by their coming footsteps. “Hey - hey Hakurei!” the overgrown puppy yips. “I got a tiger. This one!” He gestures, pointing finger shaking at the end “I already bit it. While I waited.”

“ . . Good.” The undergrowth rustles as she takes a step forward.

He beams at her. Though, now as he actually takes the moment to observe her, in the afternoon light that peaks between the glade, he realizes she looks terrible. This is nothing new. The boy might even say she looks ‘normal.’

She pauses a moment, befuddled by the shaky smile on his face. She opens her mouth, tentatively and briefly, revealing a few missing teeth. Again, this is nothing new, though the particular missing teeth change by the week. Rather than be lost in the complexities of social expectation, the girl just charges in, sits down, tears a leg off the tiger, and consumes.

Quiet and fidgety, the boy looks over her again, noticing the motley of greens, yellows, and purples of bruised flesh, and the deliberate way she leans on her side. “Are you -” the puppy starts, immediately muzzling himself as the maiden pauses. The quiet look she gives him is a challenge, a ‘well, what is it?’ with no intention of receiving an answer. Of course, his question was dumb. Of course, of course. That is why he has to ask it again, to prove how dumb he is. “Are you okay?”

‘Really?’ her eyes tell him, her teeth buried in bloody striped hide.

The dog is too stupid to back down. Hakurei cannot be killed because she is Hakurei, so he is not worried. I am not. So not worried is he, that he keeps reminding himself of the fact. Unlike him, Hakurei is strong. She does ‘things;’ she is trying to help him. She does not want him to be worried; she has made it clear time and time again. All he has to do as her follower is feed her, nothing more.

“Behh- I’m fine, alright.” She looks him in the eyes, a mistake on her part. She buries back down into her food.

See, she is fine. Stop being stupid.

“I’m - testing something,” she announces into the shank of flesh.

“Testing . . ?”

“A system,” she clarifies.

“A system,” he parrots.

“Yep.”

She eats in challenging silence. If he asked a question now, he feels like he might faint.

Afterwards, she counts some seals, and hands them to him. There is no less than usual. Food for protection - there is nothing more to this exchange.

“Thank you,” he says. However needless it is, it is what he wants to do.

She has gotten used to that phrase, in the sense that it only winds her now. Nonetheless, she attempts a reply with: “Yep.”

The seals might mean little to her, but they mean a lot to the boy. They are a form of proof - proof that someone is out there with him. It does not matter how or why. These seals are, to him, all of the ‘love’ in the world. Though the boy would not learn the meaning of that word for a long time.

“Thank you!” he yelps out again.

That breaks her. She looks down, snarling almost, into the bone of the shank. He has nothing but admiration for the immortal Hakurei. She may as well be a god to him.

\ his personal hell, many years ago /

And then she died.

There’s more to it, so much more, but this is enough for him to seize the truth. Lost and found differentiate again. Those seals . . .

He stands up. The chair legs scrape terrible against the ground. He is already gripping his sealed bow; which is usually only noticed when he is not. Seals cover it toe to tip, obscuring wood that has not seen the light of day for many years. Always by my side. He looks at it not as a tool, but an old friend. I have a lot of friends. The rest of his friend is in that case over there. Those seals.

‘crik?’ Elly is tugged along, simultaneously blissfully unaware and tortured by the fact of her own existence.

“Eh?” the great green youkai lets out a half-assed non-question. “ . . Sure,” it concedes.

The boy kneels down in front of the case, dragging down his girl with him.

“Schütz?” Elly prods.

“Sorry. Elly. A moment - quiet, please.”

‘Crik?’

“Good. Thank you.”

The boy encounters a problem. The contraptions binding the case are impenetrable. Little metallic things, fiddly and unwilling to tell their secrets. “Uhh,” he lets out the most intelligent noise he can. “Open the container please. Elly.”

The attached Elly beeps affirmatively. “She will.”

“Wait, Elly.”

“Schütz?”

“Please - do not break what is inside the container. Yeah.”

“She will not.”

Elly slides forward, not conforming to the laws of motion. She looks at the case, the case then ceases to exist. One can only assume it got scared and left.

Schütz coughs in the cloud of particles that was once a case.

“Than -” he splutters. “Good. Thank you.” “Now please be quiet.”

‘Crik’ She complies, simultaneously holding the leash and obeying it.

Meanwhile, the boy beholds an old friend. Carefully, ever so carefully, he spreads out the chimeric patchwork of cloth and seals. It is seamless in the sense that all of the seams have broken, long replaced by seals. Seals riveting and gluing, and coating like a beast hide. Shimetani Eita once wore this. Who? Me? No - no. He died with her. Who? The seals squirm at his presence, like a thousand leaf-shaped slugs. She is happy, angry - both?

What am I supposed to say? He decides to let it come naturally, for all that implies. “Hello, Reimu.”

The seals squirm.

What was that? I can hear her? Of course I can hear her. “It is good to see you again.”

The seals squirm.

He hears something - voices in his head. Reimu said something. She is alive. In my head. Of course. Of course she is alive. She was in my seals the whole time. She is dead, but she is alive. “A fox said I can save you.”

The seals squirm.

“Do you think I should believe it.”

The seals squirm, no different than the last times, but of course the boy sees something in it. They are all Reimu. He can feel every bit of so-called ‘love’ she put in these seals. That must mean something. He just has to try.

“Yeah.” “Do not worry. I am here. Have you met Elly? This is Elly. She is my best friend now.”

The seals squirm.

‘Crik?’

“Elly. This is Reimu. My old friend. She is alive.”

“Schütz?”

“Elly?”

“Who’s Reimu?”

“She is . . my friend. Who is dead.”

“If the garbage is dead it will be back tomorrow.” It is a straight fact, nothing more.

“Reimu is here now.”

“Today?”

“Yeah.”

“Where?”

“She’s talking in my head.”

“I would hear anything inside Schütz that is not Schütz, and I would destroy it if it weren’t his friend.”

“Oh . . “ “But . . I can hear her.”

“##Schütz.” She drifts beside him, towering overhead, but only eye to eye in reality.

“E - Elly?”

“There is only Schütz inside Schütz. If he must be sure then he will see himself torn open and he will see for himself.” There is no threat, only a friendly offer from a friend trying to help.

“O - oh.”

The seals squirm. Is Reimu whispering? Speak up! Speak up!

“And would Schütz be fine with being torn open? I would like to be inside Schütz again.” His old gore paints her. It smells acrid and vile, but he always expected he was disgusting on the inside, so it is no surprise.

“No - no. Not r-right now, Elly.” “Reimu is here. I do not want to - explode. Next to her. Right now.”

“Who?”

“Reimu.” The boy senses repetition, eventually. “Who is inaudible to Elly because . . she is whispering?”

“I only hear the cacophonic buzz of flies and maggots feasting on their own corpses, and Schütz,” cacophonously buzzes Elly.

“Reimu sounds more like -” the boy pauses. His warped pretzel mind, despite being designed to facilitate cognitive dissonance, struggles to cope with a reality this undeniable. How could he forget what Reimu sounds like when she is right here talking to him? “Uh.”

“Uh?” parrots Elly like a skewered cow.

“Uh.”

“##?”

“Sounds. Like. Reimu,” he forces out, scratching an itch on his side until it hurts and more.

“#Schütz.”

The seals squirm. “She is - she is talking. Okay. Please believe me.” This itch.

“I will believe Schütz if he wants me to.”

“Please.”

“Then I believe Schütz, and this is despite Elly not knowing what she is intended to believe.”

“That - Reimu is talking.”

“I forgot, but I will believe it.”

“. . Good? Good,” he tells himself, blanking his thoughts of all potential for destructive introspection.

The boy strips from his puffy clothing, and worms his way into the sealed, chimeric contraption. The insides are softened by a weave of seals - they constrict squirm comfortingly against his skin. Because a youkai is nearby? No, shut up. He stumbles his way back to the chair.

“Anti-everyone-but-me-seals,” Meiling proclaims, leaning back as an ineffectual escape. “If you can chat to them . . why not tell them to calm down? It’s nice here . . I’m not going to eat you, unless you try to leave. Mhh - can’t say I don’t have a choice in the matter — you know I’d spin a way to let you go. I’m bad at my simple job.” It shrugs. The twitching of its arm intensifies under the stress of a thousand or more seals attacking. “I saved the world. Aren’t heroes supposed to be . . worshipped? Protected? Given food? . . Ever consider donating an arm? You don’t need two if you’re going to be a butler,” the youkai dribbles on.

The boy looks down to the seals. “Please be nice to my friends.”

The seals squirm.

“Please. Reimu.”

The seals squirm.

“Ah. .” He looks up. “Sorry. She does not feel like being nice. But she is really nice when you get to know her. I think. I . . forgot?” I could find out.

“It’s fine. I’ve never invited niceties. Plenty of blades . . Plenty of curses . . Plenty of tears . . Not many kind words. I wonder why.” What to most would come off as self-deprecation comes off more as a boast from the youkai.

“I like you,” he says to the precise extent he can like a youkai.

The gasbag makes a harsh noise, recognizable as a chuckle. “A maid, a vampire, and a flower. Three nice people against an army of spite.” The youkai blows smoke. “I like you too. But you know . . I’d eat you if you harmed my lady. Not a scrap of hesitation. Nothing left to save.”

The boy thinks about it. It makes complete sense. “I would kill you if you hurt Elly.” It is a strange but reaffirming form of camaraderie: two devoted dogs, a puppy and a seasoned warhound.

The youkai quakes, finding something amusing about the whole situation. “So it goes.”

Elly, who is in a constant state of abject torture, has nothing to say.

“Saving the world and making friends; they are a different business,” continues Meiling. “Remilia tries. It is hard work . . And me? I’m already exhausted. I could sleep for a century. I would sleep for a century. But . . I won’t.”

“Tomorrow - I will have to ask for you to sleep outside. Remilia prefers keeping patients in the big, embellished and . . fragile rooms. Both of us are filthy creatures at core . . belonging of dirt. You know you would not last a night in a room.” It pauses. “Wait . . maybe Remilia will change that, too.” It shrugs.

Changing. The boy fiddles with the seals. They crawl like worms through his fingers. He will not forget Reimu, no matter what.

“Mhh,” the youkai puffs smoke. “Something tells me I had imaginary friends, too, once. I don’t remember who . . or why . . or anything. But I was young, like you,” the youkai continues, speaking its thoughts as they come. “But I was never young, was I? I came into being guarding gates, and I will leave guarding gates. This memory business . . it’s bothersome. . . and embarrassing.”

Meiling’s words flow like lumpy syrup. Yet, not slow enough for the boy to wrap his aching mind around. He comprehends only the fact he is to blame. He can feel the distance between ‘fish’ and ‘reflection’ thinning like a drill to his eyes. Slowly, so slowly that he cannot find a foothold to deny it, the fox’s words begin to make sense. “I apologize,” he answers reflexively but not incorrectly.

The youkai waves it away. “It’s fine. Everything will be nice and easy tomorrow. . Don’t worry. I won’t push it. If I did - I don’t think I have it in me to save the world again. Too hard.” The youkai leans forward, into the purging fire of seals. Its arms quiver, but do not falter. “What kind of idiot would want to reinvent the world, anyway? Things are fine as they are. Who couldn’t find peace in this situation? Creatures like us are passengers - not . . conductors. No matter how much pride and wrath and greed and envy and sloth and . . . whatever else they would say Meiling has, she would never be so insipid to throw a tantrum and ruin everyone’s day.”

“Then, again, there is that storm I made outside.” The youkai looks down, emptily beholding its own hypocrisy.

“I will not - end the world,” the boy blurts out, locking himself in a promise. The fact he will forget it tomorrow is some certainty he can fulfill it to its end.

“It’s hard - and I know you’re trying. So let Remilia handle the rest. She’s used to it. She’s only broken once. And it was worse than ‘this.’ Maybe . . ? I don’t remember. I don’t want to remember.” It ponders, then shakes its weighty head.. “How about we talk about . . girls? Ehh, whatever Elly is?”

“I’m Elly,” says Elly.

“What are you?”

“Good.”

“Mhh - being told who you are is the easy way out. Good job not being stupid.” Meiling claps once in admiration, it carries as much weight as thunder when coming from the usually placid creature. “I’d do the same, but . . Oh . . I probably already did, didn’t I?”

“So, flower. Girls, or Ellys - what do you like in them? Breasts . . asses?” The youkai looks up, searching for the mysterious third element. “Shapely personalities?”

“Personally . . I’d never touch something that isn’t cute, supposing anything besides the tip of a blade would ever touch me back. Mhh - I suppose and wonder a lot. Thinking is a bad habit. Like opium. I should quit some time - but that’s what they all say.”

The youkai shrugs, then gestures to Schütz.

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

What do I like in Elly? That may be the most easy question he has been asked in a long time. The boy decides to describe Elly in as much detail as possible, but how?

[A: he asks Elly to describe herself for him.] (positive: Elly | negative: what?)
[B: he asks Meiling to describe Elly for him.] (positive: knows what Elly looks like | negative: is Meiling)
[C: he tries his best.] (positive: in his own words | negative: in his own words){writeins acceptable}

{note: consider this a ‘breather’ vote - purely for the sake of breaking up the usual ultra-super-heavy-character-defining stuff. That said, more impactful writeins are accepted if you want to dive back into the shark pool. There’s plenty to work with.}

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

Items:
Bow (Heavily Anti-Youkai Seal Fitted, Hakurei Brand, Blood Coated ‘Kitsune’)
“Parabellum”
Tough Clothing (Heavily Anti-Youkai Seal Fitted, Hakurei Brand)
- Seal Hairtie (Unknown Properties)

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

Curse: ~<o>~

Moon Phase: <o “last quarter”

Time: Early Night

\o==================8875===================o/
>> No. 31249
[B]
>> No. 31250
[A: he asks Elly to describe herself for him.] (positive: Elly | negative: what?)

Elly option is good option
>> No. 31251
[A: he asks Elly to describe herself for him.] (positive: Elly | negative: what?)

In before she just says red, like the last time we asked
>> No. 31252
[X][B: he asks Meiling to describe Elly for him.]

We've already heard Elly describe describe herself, and Schütz's description would be about the same as long as he ignores the curse, so let's hear what Meiling has to say.
And of course, more Meiling is always nice.
>> No. 31253
[X][B: he asks Meiling to describe Elly for him.]

Let's just say she's more eloquent than Elly.
>> No. 31254
>“Mhh,” the youkai puffs smoke. “Something tells me I had imaginary friends, too, once. I don’t remember who . . or why . . or anything. But I was young, like you,” the youkai continues, speaking its thoughts as they come. “But I was never young, was I? I came into being guarding gates, and I will leave guarding gates. This memory business . . it’s bothersome. . . and embarrassing.”

I get this feeling that Remilia's cure is akin to a lobotomy in a way.

[C]: Elly is Elly. Elly is good, so everything like Elly must be good. But Elly is better than everything not Elly, so everything Elly must be the best, clearly making what makes Elly good being that she is Elly.
>> No. 31255
>>31254 here. In the event of C not being the winner, count me as B. But, if it's a tie between them, not that I expect traction, keep it C.
>> No. 31256
Vote will be called tomorrow.

Note that just because the vote is trivial, this does not make the content of the updates trivial. I warn you that the good intentions will absolutely not see you through to a desirable end. Work as a team, find a goal, and see it through to the end. You cannot please everyone. You are dealing with many powerful and volatile individuals, and the main character who you have deeply traumatized will have difficulties keeping peace.
>> No. 31257
[C: She keeps me going.]
>> No. 31258
Vote set.

B. Meiling.

Full of hot air.
>> No. 31261
Busy working on my other project.
>> No. 31262
This story is cancelled

I am fulfilling my part to notify you. This is a well informed decision.

Seeya.
>> No. 31263
Well, I'm mad. Partly because we seemed very close to the end, and mostly because I don't think I will ever see a story just like this one again. Even though I usually just lurk, I feel like I should say thank you for writing this.
>> No. 31264
fugg
>> No. 31265
Thank you for writing. I hope your strange needs are fulfilled by you other project.
>> No. 31266
well shit, that's a let down
>> No. 31267
RIP, we'll miss you and your brand of crazy.
>> No. 31268
Awww is a pity ... I hope to see other story from you here ... but if is not asked too much can we have the summary what it could have become? or the plot explained? (sorry if is not clear English is not my natural language)
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