Something fell to the floor in the main room, and rolled across it. Or, it sounded like that had happened at least. Sometimes things fell; this land may have been sealed away but it was still a part of Japan—a part of the Ring of Fire. Things shook sometimes, and so things fell. In a cluttered shop like this, things falling at seemingly random times of the day was to be expected, really. But, still—
Morichika Rinnosuke listened out, in case the clatter had been caused by some unwelcome nighttime visitor. No more sudden sounds arose.
He was in his study – a small room before his bedroom, where he’d cleared enough space to have one of his assortment of lanterns at light for the evenings, a little table, and a chair – and he was reading. Reading, in fact, a book from another world... or perhaps that was too lofty to say. It was foreign—an import. It was some little novel from beyond the border. From that Japan which Gensokyo was still a part of.
It was not a good book.
However, he would never admit that.
It might... just be strange fantasy of other worlds, he thought as he turned another page. It was quite a few years back now, wasn’t it? When some beasts rose from some hell and wanted slaves themselves. Well, I don’t imagine outsiders have become beasts—no matter what Sumireko seems to wish to imply, but... maybe this is some strange fancy one might... entertain... in written word.
He doubted even himself in this evaluation... but surely, surely—this small novel had worth to many people. It had said so on a piece of paper that had been hugging the cover. And, with that thinking, so pondered Rinnosuke: That being the case... there being worth... surely I can determine that w—
A huge crash rattled the shop and startled him enough to have him fall back in his chair and crash, himself, to the floor. Then he heard hammering and some sharp, strange fwoosh. A constant, intermittently “scraping” fwoosh--and now he could see some extremely bright blue light flickering into his halls... from the main shop. His brow lowered, and he pushed himself to his feet.
That would be... what she found some days ago, no? She asked me quite a lot about it.
So this wouldn’t be Marisa—well, it shouldn’t be her. Nor should it be Sumireko...
He sighed heavily, and his footsteps slowed. He didn’t want to see what was happening in his shop himself...
...but closing his eyes and going to bed wouldn’t make her disappear. Rather, that device could make a lot of sparks... even if she was adept at water magic, she was also adept at not caring to use it should she ever start a fire.
Rinnosuke trudged into his store “Kourindou” properly, wincing through the intense light he found there. Mercifully, it stopped as he made his appearance.
A terrible little child was crouching in his store: a teenager in her 16th year with a welding torch in one hand, the two tanks that supplied it with gas and air sat behind her in a steady case, a heavy metal mask over her face, and her stare (it seemed) fixed upon him. Before her was a large, unpleasant block of metal.
She took off the mask to let it clatter to the floor, a pair of dark twin tails falling behind her head. She reached behind herself and picked up a dark cap—a “bucket cap” that he’d given her some time ago—placing it instead on her head.
With a dull look in her eyes, duller in the dark, she continued to stare at him.
And so, he addressed her: “...Seika—”
She raised a finger at him, and another finger over her lips, one strap of her overalls slipping the shoulder of the plain and loose t-shirt underneath. At once, Rinnosuke slouched and withdrew halfway into the hall he had arrived from.
The young girl, Seika, looked around the shop. The lowers of her irises caught the light of the moon bleeding through one of Kourindou’s windows, and for a brief moment it seemed as if blue were shining throughout the room once again. It might have, but he could never be sure... she often had strange, phantasmal tricks like that—with the blue of her eyes, and those few blue strands in her hair as well. Or, really, in impish general...
He waited for her for some seconds before deciding to address her again, with a hushed “What is it, Seika? Is a youkai here?”
At his voice, the girl blinked and turned her eyes on him again. Now, the upper half of them—a deep crimson—plainly and quickly shined.
“Where is it...!?” Rinnosuke big her urgently.
She let go of the torch in her hand and, smirking with both hands extended out before her—pointed at Rinnosuke.
He frowned, and immediately began to stand up...
...only just too slowly, as the girl withdrew her hands, and with her thumbs indicated herself as the other monster here. Still smirking she, the welding torch, and the hunk of metal before her, suddenly dropped through the floor (she snatched her cap and took it along with her before vanishing).
Rinnosuke scrambled forth, and dove down after her—through the gap she had summoned there.
“Ohh, Kourin. Could you fly?” asked the awful child. Rinnosuke looked to his left, and to his right. He looked below, and saw the hunk of metal Seika had stolen smashing into an earth path. A very rather distant earth path. Rinnosuke, also, was falling now—through the night sky.
And he could not, in fact, fly.
Seika had the welding torch and case and tanks she had also stolen hanging from her left hand, and she now smiled coolly at the falling Rinnosuke. “You’re making my night, Kourin,” she said, and she extended her free hand to him. He snatched it.
His durability as a half-youkai helped as his body tried to drop down below and was stopped by Seika’s firm grip. Her durability as a half-youkai, of course, also helped. There they hung before the full moon, the young girl looking down at him and, of course, still smirking. He swung lightly, and glared back up at the child.
 Ask what she was doing in your shop.
 Tell her that her mother will need to hear about this.
He asked, “Why were you in my shop? Don’t you know how dangerous it is to be out at this hour?”
“‘Dangerous’? At night?” the girl repeated, tilting her head a bit to one side. “What would you do to me, Kourin?”
“What would...? No, no, I wouldn’t do anything.” he replied plainly after grasping what she meant.
“Yeah? Nothing?” she prodded.
“Not one thing, other than telling you to go to bed.”
“Oh...! That’s something,” the girl hummed, her grin full of mischief.
“No. No games like this, Seika—I believe I asked you a question. Please answer it.”
“That wasn’t rhetorical? Kourin, your shop’s been open longer than I’ve been alive. Everyone knows: everything in there’s free—” she paused, glanced toward the moon, and then looked back at him to add, “if you can get away with taking it, at least.”
“You’ve been taught wrong, then. I’ll certainly kick up a fuss if you just outright thieve from me.”
“You aren’t fussing right now.”
“I’d rather you not drop me. I’m not in a particularly good place to negotiate, let alone retaliate in any fashion.”
“...I’ll change my question. What, exactly, were you doing? What were you welding?”
“Ahh, that’s more fun to answer,” said the girl. She looked down at the hunk of metal below them for a little while, and then met his eyes again. “There’s an Incident,” she said.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Seika brought him back to the earth and returned to him the welding set: case, tanks, and torch all. She was now squatted before the hunk of metal. That metal was...
An animal cage and... rebar, and... hm.
He stood behind her with one hand at his mouth, and the other holding his returned goods by his side. He was scrutinizing the metal. It was about a meter in height and width both, and looked as if it might stab whoever wished to carelessly touch it.
I’ve lost its name with what she’s done to it. Has it become an art piece now?
Seika turned her head to glance at him. Expressionless, she asked, “You like it?”
“I do not.”
“It’s a weapon,” she said, turning back to look at it. “I call it Hectic Beast.”
As he heard that name, he realized: this girl had only just named the abomination. In her doing so, however, her motivations behind the object came to his mind easily as he gazed upon it. It was “a tool to menace, and prove rule”. Ordinarily, such a purpose would need much thought to understand. However, in this case, the shopkeeper had been given context.
“You mean to sell this to the yamawaro?” he asked her. Without turning around, she answered.
“It’s not complete,” and, “once it is, I’ll use it on them.”
“...I want to have nothing to do with this.” Saying this, Rinnosuke set the welding case down, folded his arms, and turned half away. Seika sat to the earth and turned along with him, resting an elbow on a leg and her chin in a hand. Her other other hand drummed the earth as she watched him. She watched him for quite some time, until he tersely followed his words with, “...I will not.”
“Who said I wanted you to join me, Kourin?”
“You always ask me! Incessantly!”
He looked at her. Her voice had changed just slightly, just higher in pitch. Their eyes met.
“Absolutely not!” he snapped, turning to her. “How many times must you drag me out before you understand that!? Even Marisa has never been so persistent! Even your mother!”
“Hmmm...” She only gave that, looking at him.
“You intend on—what now, interfering? With those kappa who have forsaken the river?”
“It’s started to spill to Misty Lake, Kourin,” she replied. “That means the Forest will be next.” She waited a beat before saying, without feeling: “I’m worried about you. And Marisa. And Masato. And Maki.”
He looked back at her with a frowning mouth and a twitching brow.
...It was quite some time ago, and not very long after that hell of beasts had overflowed into Gensokyo. Though they had tried for war, at the time Seika’s mother and quite a few others had joined the fray and quelled it. Old names from old hells, whispers of plots, attempts at assassination... Of course, he had paid little attention as it went, though it did spark more of his attention than average given it had tangential relation to the Cards and Market Incident crafted by the Tengu...
But it had very much “spoken” to the blood of the rebellious yamawaro that lived upon the Mountain. War games were always a pastime of those kappa that had left the river, but the rumblings of war from beasts had interested them a little more... A little too much. And, year, after year, their “interest” had grown.
It began with a little bloodshed, said to be sportsmanlike and all very honorable. It grew to pretend grabs at mountain territory, eventually legitimized and eventually spilling from yamawaro to yamanba and beyond. The yamawaro also embraced some more of their heritage, and began engaging in commerce—participating in and thriving from Gensokyo’s economy. In short, what was once nothing more than a negligible tribe of scalawags grew in time to a comparable and notable faction of Youkai Mountain. And so, in present day...
...those little rebels nearly stood on level with the Tengu above them.
Since her birth, the young Seika had grown with rumbling, rolling war of the Mountain—brought there often and bid too often by those from there for her blessing, and for her interest. After all the Shrine atop the Mountain played very safely and smartly with all of Gensokyo’s factions. Gensokyo’s Shrine Maiden and her child, however... weren’t they easy to twist?
It never sat right with him.
As he recalled these things his frown lessened and his brow withdrew—just somewhat. Seika stood up before him and pat the back of her overalls before meeting his eyes again.
It wasn’t quite the same as some forty or so years before, but...
...perhaps some part of him had been worn down over those decades by a pair of wayward and bothersome children. Yes, Seika had her parents... and the Hakurei before her at least was certainly caring and certainly “there”... but she was also, of course, quite stupid. A reliable and unreliable girl...
At any rate in forty years he had somehow found himself three sisters not of his blood, and minding them had become a matter of course. Of course... even those overalls that young Seika wore right now, and of course that cap on her head, had been tailored by him.
That said, his “sister” before him at the moment... was the easy worst of the three.
“Ko~u~rin,” she sang as she leaned and stepped toward him, bent forward with her arms behind her back. He stepped back once, and she stopped while noticing his foot. She smirked there, and steadily stood up straight. She lifted her hand, and put it on his cheek, waiting there.
[X] Ask what exactly she wants... but basically just agree regardless of what she says.
“...What do you want from me this time, then? Just the torch? Just my thoughts?” Rinnosuke asked, and feeling her hand at his face he thought, Just my presence?
“Hm...” said the girl, seeming to think on an answer, but surely already having one. After a few moments she replied:
“I want your eyes.”
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
The two of them made plans, and after he followed her through a second gap to the Shrine (where she left the Hectic Beast rather randomly on the grounds) to make sure she went to bed, he had her provide him a third gap: so that he needed not waste more time walking down the Hakurei’s hill, past the village, and to his shop. He went home, showered, picked up the light novel he’d been reading from the from the floor where it had fallen, and went to bed with a frown on his face.
The newest Hakurei Shrine Maiden was not quite like the last, but was instead as enterprising as her other parent. She had the talents of one mother, and the drive of the other... It proved a terrible sort of combination. Perhaps unsurprisingly she also liked tools, and so from an even younger age Marisa had started to bring her to see Kourindou and to play with the many treasure Rinnosuke had found in the outside world.
He was used to people of Gensokyo barging into his place and asking about this or that. Sometimes it was an amusing little opportunity to display his profound knowledge of the Outside World, and oftentimes it was bothersome. The little Seika had not provoked either of those feelings. She hadn’t tended to poke fun at his collector hobbies, and she hadn’t dismissed things he had to say. She hadn’t tended to only take him at face value, either; she liked to ask him things, and then ask if she could assist with determining, precisely, the functions of tools he had picked up from the other side. It was a fresh feeling. He found very quickly that she was likely the only visitor of his shop who he never minded intruding. He found in her, perhaps for the first time, a “comrade”.
Marisa? Marisa was a rival, of course.
Seika was as pushy as most anyone else born and raised in Gensokyo, but she also had the eye for odd treasures, and she very much valued his. He could recall, and recall, and recall times they’d spent experimenting, testing, and excitedly talking. He could recall and recall, even, times they had worked together to craft new tools.
...He had really made a lot of mistakes.
This sister of his, this comrade of his, had been such appreciated company that she’d even managed to often pull him from his house.
Thinking of her, he fell asleep, and when he next opened his eyes—in what seemed like only a few seconds but new light told that the day had risen—he could once more hear banging within his shop. This was not Seika, however. This was the incessant banging of a customer who did not care to read the sign telling the hours of business operation right beside the door. Or, worse, it was a pure and plain nuisance. Thinking, I’ll send them away regardless, Rinnosuke rose from bed, retrieved his glasses, changed into his usual clothes and after brushing his teeth and washing his face made his way to the entrance.
He opened the door, making the bell above it ring.
On the other side of it was a short and twin-tailed tengu in a purple and black checkered skirt. She took her hand from the door she’d been knocking, put it on her hip, and with her other hand waved to say, “Hello!”
“Goodbye.” Saying this, Rinnosuke closed the door back.
“Hey! Hey! Hold it! Aren’t you open!?” cried the girl on the other side.
“...Do the tengu simply speak into typewriters to make their papers? There is a sign right beside the door. Kourindou is not open.”
“Oh, there really is a sign,” he heard.
“Yes, so sorry but—”
“It says you’ve been open for an hour!”
Rinnosuke turned his head to a wall of clocks he’d procured. Upon most, but not all of their various faces it was conveyed: right now it was ten past ten in the morning.
He opened the door again, the bell above it ringing again.
“...Come in, then,” he told the tengu, thinking to himself with a deep sigh, Seika...
That tengu, Himekaidou Hatate, marched right into his store, glancing around its inventory without any curiosity.
So... a pure nuisance then.
No customers this morning.., well, that was typical.
Hatate turned to him with a smile as he closed the door. “Mister Rinnosuke, you were visited by the Hakurei’s daughter last night!”
“You don’t just call her ‘The Hakurei’?” he asked as he moved toward her, and headed toward the counter where he usually sat for the day.
“Reimu is the Hakurei...” Hatate explained, indicating with her hands one way, and as she indicated another way she said, “Seika is the Hakurei’s daughter!”
“I see,” Rinnosuke replied dully. As he sat down behind his shop counter he noted, “She isn’t only a Hakurei, you know.”
“Her being a Hakurei is more important,” Hatate said factually. He gave a slight frown.
“The Hakurei” herself likely wouldn’t agree...
“Anyway, answer me! She was here last night, right?” Hatate asked, approaching his counter and placing her hands down on it excitedly.
Rinnosuke put an elbow up on the counter and his cheek in his hand. “I’d greatly appreciate knowing why you know that,” he said.
“I didn’t know! So it’s true, huh! I was guessing since I saw you together on a road to Misty Lake!”
Rinnosuke stared at her and, inwardly, remarked, Damn me running my mouth. While he nurtured self-loathing, the bird took out a notepad and a pen, flipping to some page of the little book. He looked away, and suppressed a sigh.
“What was the metal thing you two had there?”
“I will not answer that.”
“Are you two going to do something on Youkai Mountain!?”
“I will not answer that.”
“Which youkai faction do you think the Hakurei’s daughter supports?”
“I will not answer that.”
“Does she support any youkai factions at all?”
“This routine is getting old.”
“Last week,” Hatate went on, having written nothing in her notepad, “Seika got caught up in a little mess in the Genbu Ravine.”
Rinnosuke’s ear twitched.
She hasn’t mentioned anything of the sort... He glanced at Hatate. Is this crow lying to get something out of me?
“It seems her injuries healed rather quickly...”
“However when I asked her for comment she wouldn’t give any. And last night, I saw her with you, Mister Rinnosuke. Given the track record you two have, it would make sense to me that y—... Oh, you didn’t know that she was injured?”
Hatate stopped prattling to raise her eyebrows and look into the shopkeeper’s wide eyes. He looked away again.
“Perhaps... she’d mentioned something or other about kappa...” he gave.
“‘Kappa’?” Hatate repeated in confusion. He flinched, and cursed himself in his head. “You thought this had to do with kappa?”
What happened in the Genbu Ravine, then...? he thought, his brow furrowing. Once more, he looked at the tengu.
 ask this crow for details, I suppose.
 ask Seika herself for the details later.
 leave it at that. If Seika doesn’t want to reveal it, then... I shouldn’t pry.
>>32141 Though I didn't want to say so, there actually is an outright explanation of Seika's parentage on THP! I haven't mentioned it because this is being written as a story that does not require any previous reading.
But, if you or anyone else are curious: >>/shrine/41060 It's a story I wrote that I'm quite fond of. Image of this post also reveals it.
“Say... that you are correct, and I’m unaware of all the details,” floated Rinnosuke, sounding (to himself at least) cool and confident, “in that case, what happened to Seika at the Genbu Ravine last week?”
“Hmmm...” the crow gave a not-particularly crow-like sound, and stood straight before his counter. He narrowed his eyes at her, thinking, Will she take this bait? And, midway through this thought Hatate asked, “What happened between you and Seika last night?”
His expression soured. What else would this be but an exchange... He sighed, and finally answered her: “Seika asked me to accompany her in a survey of some parts of Youkai Mountain. I’m sorry but I can’t explain to you what that hunk of metal you saw was.”
“Heading up the Mountain even though she’s a human, huh?” Hatate noted.
“As am I, you know? And she’s a youkai; as am I.”
“So she’s pushing more into the Mountain’s affairs...”
“She’s concerned, because the yamawaro’s ‘playing’ has begun to toe into the territory of Misty Lake. She asked me to accompany her to determine... let’s say, the ‘strength’ of the various factions on Yatsugatake.”
“So she’s against the yamawaro...?”
“If you were to ask me, I’ve gathered that she is ‘against’ all of you up there. Right now, she seems most interested in investigating the yamawaro.”
And, he refrained from asking, Had they attacked her?
“Then this doesn’t have to do with last week, I’d guess...”
“What happened last week?”
Hatate turned and then sat upon his counter, eliciting a frown from the shopkeeper.
“I’m going to admit to misleading you, Mister Rinnosuke,” said the reporter. Hearing this, his frown deepened. “The mess with the Hakurei’s daughter began in the Komakusa Gambling Den where she’d been disguised.”
“The... gambling den...!?”
“There was a rude and new patron there from the Animal Realm who could disable the proprietor’s mind-controlling smoke,” Hatate revealed, wagging a finger through the air. “Nobody knows why the Hakurei’s daughter was there, but she interfered when that beast started harassing some yamawaro who had been there to relax—with kappa, actually! It’s a neutral place, you know?
“Anyway~ she helped the proprietor kick out the guest, and the guest kicked her down into the Ravine. Some tengu were saying that she’d broken her arm while fighting back. It’s reported that she’d said after sustaining injuries: ‘You know, I like a bit of lawlessness too, but the laws of spell cards are some of the few you can find here. If you’re going to break them, then I’ll break them too.’ After that, she sealed the beast’s arms, legs, and face to the earth, and then she sealed away his voice as well. He’s still there! But, he can’t be interviewed.”
Rinnosuke stared back at the tengu sitting before/beside him in silence, and now with a much paler face.
Hatate finished, saying, “We think she’s planning to enforce a bit more law down in Gensokyo. Sure that was a pretty bad visitor, but with how unstable things have been and how firm the Hakurei’s daughter has been so far in her duties... Well, what do you think, Mister Rinnosuke? It stands to reason, right?”
Rinnosuke stood up, with his hands on the counter.
“Sorry,” he told Hatate, “I’ll be closing the shop early today.”
Hatate looked at his furrowed brow for some seconds with her brow raised, before hers gently lowered and a half-smile grew on her lips. “Need a flight to the Hakurei Shrine?” she asked.
Rinnosuke looked at her and answered: “Not so far, but take me to the abandoned mansion by the Lake, if you would.”
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
They had set their meeting to be at ten-thirty in the morning after all... After locking up Kourindou, the Tengu took him up into the sky by his hands and began to fly him toward a dark mansion by Misty Lake, home to three poltergeists. He didn’t notice or care how absurd this looked: a young-looking youkai girl carrying a grown man in such an odd way. His thoughts were rather spinning. He couldn’t keep them straight at all, and paid little attention to his legs striking trees mid-flight, to fairies giggling in the sky—to anything else, really.
He thought about what to say and do...
He didn’t know it, so caught up in his thoughts, but he would see Seika again very soon.
What he did know, however, was what he would tell her when she was before him.
He would face her with a sincere posture and he would—
 urge her to not be so reckless, and tell her how worried she was making him.
 firmly chastise her for being so reckless, and tell her how dangerous she was being.
[X] firmly chastise her for being so reckless, and tell her how dangerous she was being.
Hearing this, Rinnosuke blinked and looked up to the reporter carrying him. “There she is,” the reporter added.
He lowered his gaze, seeing that they were now just past the glittering lake landmark of Gensokyo.
In front of the gates to a dilapidated and overgrown western mansion was a girl, sat at one of the gates’ walls. By her plain, though unusual for Gensokyo dress—even without seeing her eyes indeed it was obvious that this was Seika. Hatate brought him down, Seika looked up, and he marched toward the shrine maiden.
Behind him, Hatate stayed to watch. Before him, Seika stood up and watched him as well. Rinnosuke breathed in, clenched his hands, and began.
Stern, he asked “What have you been doing by yourself?”
Looking bored, Seika answered, “Hm... good morning.”
“Would you answer me please?”
Seika closed her eyes and tilted her head.
“Hm, a serious Kourin,” she muttered. He opened his mouth to retort, and she opened her eyes to stare into his. His mouth closed, and he swallowed. Those eyes... he thought, seem more alike to Reimu’s than usual. As he began to wonder why, Seika told him, “If you’re going to be a nuisance then I’ll stay by myself.”
She closed her eyes again and now put her hands on her hips, lazily digging her heel into the sand below. “Mom had to fight off outright invaders to Gensokyo before she was ten years old, and she’s only human.” She looked at him again, and he shivered. “Kourin, do you think I need a babysitter?”
“...You don’t ask for my company as a chaperon?” He tried to settle her down. He almost felt like that gohei he himself had prepared would shortly come out and be turned onto him.
Seika continued to look at him, then shifted her gaze to look behind him. She narrowed her eyes for a moment, and then looked at him once more. “No.” That was all she said.
“Well regardless of why you ask for me to be around...” he continued, reaching up to his chin, “these are not the same times and these are not the same sorts. And indeed, Seika, you aren’t only a human. What that means is that Gensokyo’s laws, though you maintain them, will not protect you.”
“You’re worried about me?”
“I’m angry at you. You don’t seem to understand what’s at stake when you do reckless things by yourself.”
“Hmm... Did a little bird tell you something?”
“Never mind that.”
“‘What’s at stake’, hm... losing a Shrine Maide—”
“Losing Seika, Seika!” he shouted. Seika flinched. “You can’t let the casual speak of death of the people here mislead you. You are irreplaceable, and your death would never mean nothing. Your death wouldn’t be a loss of ‘a Shrine Maiden’, it would mean the loss of someone loved.” He paused, and now folded his arms. “That was why I prepared your gohei for your mother so many years ago. That was why I crafted Marisa’s mini-hakkero... to help them live in a dangerous world, and to show them that they are cared for. I’d hope you’d understand that...”
Seika was silent and, in a rare showing, she frowned. “You love me like Mom and Aunt Marisa?”
“I... care about each of you. I mind you. You are loved, and I wouldn’t necessarily say that one of those who loves you is myself. Rather, the meaning of love is nuanced and multifaceted—”
“Yeah, sure, shut up.”
Seika folded her arms as well, mirroring him.
“You’re not my dad or my brother, Kourin. You aren’t the only person who raised me, you just like to act like it.”
“I... I do not!”
“I’ve learned a lot of lessons, and the most important ones were from Mom,” said the girl. “One of those is that everyone in our line has something they must do: protect Gensokyo. Mom can’t protect Gensokyo forever. I need to protect Gensokyo now; no matter what it takes, no matter what I risk. That’s it, Kourin.” She paused, looking if he might interject. Seeing he wouldn’t, she continued saying, “I can fight, I can seal, I’m smart, and I’ve been getting my period for years now.”
“Stop saying what. I’m telling you I’m a grown woman, Kourin.”
“Shut up. Now come along, let’s get going. We’ve given that tengu enough of a show.” Saying this, Seika turned around and began to walk toward the Mountain.
What!? Why did she—Excuse me!? Why... Wait, she still wants me to come along? What is she... Why did she say that!? Who taught her to speak like that!?
He grabbed at his head, gritting his teeth with his eyes shut.
But... she isn’t wrong about her duties! Mercy, I couldn’t say a thing to her! Damn it... Damn it!
He was still clenching his other fist. He opened his eyes to a wince to see her still walking. Grudgingly, he shook his head, took his hand away from it, and followed her. Behind him, the tengu took flight and kept watch.
This is getting out of hand; now there's two of them! (Tsunderes, that is.)
Sounds like somebody might have a bit of a crush.
But, as to be expected, the object of affection is as dense as a black hole.
Considering Seika learned her "most important lessons" from her mom, I'm inclined to say that secretly investigating is just not her style.
The main question is: is she like a certain previous generation of Hakurei; a laser-guided missile aimed straight at the heart of incidents?
If so, going straight for the Yamawaro is a no-brainer, but the fact she even considers going to the Kappa (and also checking up on the aftermath of one of her interventions, importantly) might mean she is more of her own person.
Actually kinda torn between the two, but I'll choose Kappa for now.
It also makes a bit more sense from a routing perspective, since the Kappa will be lower down on the mountain than the Yamawaro.
But, again, don't know how much "Hakurei Logic" has rubbed off on her.
So I definitely could be convinced to go the other way depending on anon's take.
[X] Go see the Kappa first, and ask if they’re interested in the Hectic Beast. (Speaking of, you can check on the Beast sealed to the earth...)
[X] Go see the Kappa first, and ask if they’re interested in the Hectic Beast. (Speaking of, you can check on the Beast sealed to the earth...)
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Seika continued to walk from Misty Lake’s shore and into a forest: the Great Youkai Forest that marked the base of Youkai Mountain. She had genuinely been here countless times, and most of it almost felt like a second (largely hostile) home. Near the top sat a second shrine and another mother/daughter pair of shrine maidens. Though Seika’s mother was friends with that other shrine maiden mother, they seemed to like to not get along—fairly often. Subsequently, her own friendship with Kochiya Mana was something she kept as something like a secret.
Now then, behind her—
“...so, Seika, that’s all that I was trying to say—”
Rinnosuke was speaking...
“—and naturally I meant no offense at all. If you took any I’d like you to—”
Seika was trying to avoid listening, and wouldn’t look back at him. He fell silent every few minutes, likely going over what to say and how to say it in his head—likely evaluating what missteps he’d taken with a teenage girl. Likely, he knew them entirely—why he might be questioning himself would be that he wished he did not know.
Really: a complete doofus. While she was still ignoring him, she began to hear rushing water and feel water vapor on her face and arms. Involuntarily she smiled, and felt like dancing. She thought of her youkai parentage and stifled this compulsion, though. Not that she didn’t like it, it just was not the time to be playful. She had to be... cool.
Soon enough she, and Rinnosuke, stood overlooking the Genbu Ravine and the basalt columns that made its walls. Far below them were kappa playing and experimenting, to their not-so-far, several waterfalls surrounded by almost imperceptible pipes running through the stone were rushing down. To their immediate left was a spirit-beast. A boar beast embodied: the beast she had sealed a week prior, stuck to the earth.
“...That’s the animal you sealed?” Rinnosuke asked. Now she looked at him.
“Yeah, an embodied boar spirit,” she answered, and she slid three of her fingers down her left forearm. Sliding her right hand outward, she took a long gohei out from a gap, spun it smoothly over her head and, then grabbing it, striking its end to the earth beside her. The long white tassels at its top billowed wildly.
“I’m still not quite sure how or when that tool of yours and Reimu’s became a long-staff...” A dull remark from a dull boy—Seika ignored this and spoke up.
“Do you remember my voice? I know you can’t answer,” said the girl. “I’ll unseal part of you but, you know, I have a purification rod readied to exterminate you the moment you try anything stupid. So, don’t.”
She crouched before the beast. It was a burly thing, pink-skinned and wearing tattered eastern clothing. Tattered, it seemed, partially from forest critters eating at the threads, but mostly from her trouncing this beast some days before. His hair was shaggy, but he thankfully didn’t seem to reek at all. Perhaps the kappa had washed him.
Seika reached forward with a finger and tapped the boar twice on its skull. As Seika stood back up, the creature shortly huffed, billowing dirt out behind it as its mouth detached from the ground. It lifted a dusted and furious face at Seika. Seika stomped her heel down on its forehead.
“Just a question for you before I think about letting you scamper back to Hell,” Seika told the beast. “Be a good pig and answer me properly.”
The beast growled... but then nodded.
“Great,” said Seika, “so, it’s been over ten years...”
Some route settings
 “... what is the Kiketsu family still trying to do in Gensokyo?” [Yachie]
 “... what is the Keiga family still trying to do in Gensokyo?” [Saki]
 “... what is the Gouyoku alliance still trying to do in Gensokyo?” [Yuuma]
So is this purely a route setting or are we actually trying to figure out who this pig belongs to?
If so, a brute like this sounds mostly like a Keiga stooge.
I don't think a Kiketsu would intentionally pick a fight and stand out so much he gets his ass beat.
I thought Gouyoku were just birds (minus Yuuma herself) at first, but after reading some omake again (Yachie & Yuuma), apparently they like to attack "from the air or with overwhelming numbers".
That second point is actually kinda interesting considering how individualistic they are in Gouyoku. (Mainly because Yuuma herself apparently doesn't really care about having underlings and likes doing things on her own.)
Anyway, if this is just a preference/route vote I gotta go with Gouyoku; I really like Yuuma.
Besides, a greedy pig (boar) checks out.
[X] “... what is the Gouyoku alliance still trying to do in Gensokyo?” [Yuuma]
Doesn't seem like this has much interest/traction so continuing it just seems like a fairly pointless and arguably vain exercise. I don't imagine keeping up with it daily would change anything and it's not as if stressing over balancing writing is helpful for me--especially when next to no one cares. Consider this story abandoned.