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46623 No. 46623
“How is it coming along?”

The servant didn’t even look away from her designated task. “These things take time milady.”

“It must be done before the clouds dissipate again. I’ve had to call them three times now. Someone will be getting suspicious if I have to do it again.”

“I’ll do my best.” The servant didn’t seem very confident.

“I trust your talents. Still, we need to make haste. Waiting any longer would be… unbearable.” The master departed with these ominous words.

How was she supposed to get anything done with all the interruptions around here? This was a very delicate process. Shaking her head to clear her thoughts, the servant set about her task of reshaping the world.

++++++++++

This is such a pain! I flopped to the ground and grumbled about my ridiculous predicament.

Twice a year I have to ward the shrine with protective ofuda. Last time, I apparently wasn’t thorough enough and rats got into the storehouse. Reimu just about went berserk. I got in major trouble for not warding the place properly. If the rats are willing to come through the freaking border to find a meal, they can have it.

This brings me to my problem. How in the hell am I supposed to attach these things to the Border? I already tried applying them both with and without glue. I tried drawing the symbols with charcoal. When that failed me, I resorted to paint. Nothing works.

Cooperate damn you! I missed lunch while covering the other three sides of the shrine grounds. I spent six hours tagging every tree and stone on the perimeter. I’ve spent the seventh failing to make any progress on the only uncomplicated part where I only need to place a ward every meter or so.

It’s long past sundown now. Might rain soon as well. I’m running out of time. The only thing worse than missing dinner would be having to beg Reimu’s assistance. I’d never hear the end of it. So here I am, stuck between a rock and a hard place. Self pity is getting me nowhere though, so I should actually do something.


[ ] Another once-over of the grounds should clear my head while still covering my bases.
[ ] Perhaps I’m not being forceful enough. (Pick up to two)
-Maybe a holy ritual is the way to go?
-Magical override could work.
-Time for an old standby. Violence.
-I could try nailing them in place.
[ ] I might actually need Reimu’s help, consequences be damned.
[ ] Screw this, I’m hungry.
[ ] Something else. (Write in)


***
Hope you all find this interesting. This is a story I've been dying to write.

>> No. 46624
[x] Perhaps I’m not being forceful enough. (Pick up to two)
[x]Time for an old standby. Violence.
[x]I could try nailing them in place.
>> No. 46625
[X] Perhaps I’m not being forceful enough. (Pick up to two)
-Magical override could work.
-Time for an old standby. Violence.

It appear that our protagonist is an associate of Reimu's, so let's take a lesson from her and use more force when the problem doesn't get resolved the first time.
>> No. 46626
[x] Perhaps I’m not being forceful enough. (Pick up to two)
-Magical override could work.
-Time for an old standby. Violence
>> No. 46628
. [ ] I might actually need Reimu’s help,consequences be damned.
>> No. 46629
[X] Screw this, I’m hungry.
>> No. 46633
Called for trying sword and sorcery. Writing.
>> No. 46644
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46644
I figure I should try magic. I’m not very practiced, but Mima said that I was a fast learner when she taught me a few basic tricks for day to day convenience. Reimu said that magic would corrupt my innocent mind or something. I’m not in the habit of listening to her lectures.

I trace out a spell circle in the air, directing it at the Border. Let’s see, which element works for this? With the imminent rain, Water will have to do. I think it’s supposed to be good for manipulation and control too. I close my eyes and try to draw upon the water in my surroundings.

I’m startled out of my trance by the boom of thunder. A torrential downpour immediately follows. Hooray. Will this help me any? Moreover, did I cause this or does the universe just like toying with me?

Oh well, might as well make the best of it. I quickly direct my intensions through the spell. Don’t want to stay out here any longer than I have to. It’s already been a rather cool autumn, but this rain is positively bone chilling. I hate cold weather, it makes me want to curl up and sleep till spring.

I spent several more minutes distracted by my internal ramblings. Eventually, I noticed that my spell was actually working somewhat. The Border’s usual iridescent shimmer was slowing and taking on a blue tinge. Finally, something is going right!

Immediately, I pull out the ofuda and begin sticking them to the border. To my surprise, they actually stay in place. In about five minutes, I’m done with the task. I stand back and admire my handiwork.

Wait… it seems wrong somehow. Indistinct. The ofuda are soaking through, their ink running off. It moves to a large blot at the center and begins forming words.

< MAGICAL INTERFERENCE DETECTED. COMPENSATING. >
No! You’re supposed to obey me! Reimu chose me as the Miko of Hakurei. That means that you have to do as I say.

Refusing to be made a fool of any longer, I draw the knife I keep hidden in Elsewhere. I stab into the Border and begin carving in the protective wards. I find myself hoping to inflict as much pain as I’ve received from it.

Immediately, I’m blinded and deafened in an angry red explosion. I narrowly avoid cracking my head on one of the flagstones. I can only hear the ringing of my ears and only see splotches of color. After a minute of this, my vision clears up enough that I can attempt to stand. What awaits me upon looking back at the Border turns my righteous fury into terror.

An immense crimson eye glares at me through tears of blood. If looks could kill, there’d be nothing left of me. The remainder of the Border is the ugly color of dried blood. Ink and blood mix to form new, terrible words.

< PAIN HURT SUFFER SIN DESTROY DIE BURN PURGE. IT HURTS. IMPOSSIBLE. YOU ARE NOTHING VILE SLIME DISGUSTING FILTHY MONSTER. DEVIL. U N W O R T H Y YOU ARE AS A STONE BEFORE A BOUNDLESS OCEAN. BECOME SAND. DISAPPEAR. >

The words are accompanied by a building pressure. I can’t breathe. It feels like I’m being crushed into a paste. I need to run now!

[ ] I mustn’t run away. I mustn’t run away! Imustn’trunawayImustn’trunawayImustn’trunawayImustn’trunaway!
[ ] Hold the line.
[ ] AAAAAAAAaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhh!
[ ] Save me Reimu…


***
Gensokyo is, for the most part, a pretty cheery place, but you never know when the underlying horror will jump out of a bush and try to stab your eyes out with crazy.
>> No. 46645
[x] Save me Reimu…
Well, uh, oops.
>> No. 46646
[ ] Hold the line.
>> No. 46649
[X] Save me Reimu…
This won't end well...
>> No. 46651
[X] Hold the line.
[X] AAAAAAAAaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhh!

It's bleeding, so that means that it can be hurt.
Time for berserker rage.
>> No. 46653
[X] Hold the line.
[X] AAAAAAAAaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhh!

WE DIE STANDING!
>> No. 46656
[X] Save me Reimu…
>> No. 46679
[X] Save me Reimu...
I wonder if this new shrine maiden will be helpful or hurtful to Gensokyo?
>> No. 46680
Called for divine intervention. Writing now.
>> No. 46684
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46684
I have to get away. So why can’t I move? The invisible grip on my throat tightens. My vision is starting to go dark around the edges.
I fall to my knees. It isn’t fair. Why do I have to die? I was only doing what I was told. It’s not fair…

It can’t end like this! I can’t die here! I’d just found a home, people to call family…


It hurts.


I don’t want to die! Save me!



Reimu…




Am I dead? It’s dark and cold and empty. I can’t see or hear anything. If this is what being dead is like, then being dead sucks!

<No, you aren’t dead. Not anymore at least.>

The sudden interruption is startling, though I appreciate the change from solitude. More importantly, I was dead before? How does that work? I’m so confused.

<Your heart stopped after you lost consciousness. Fortunately, your Spark had not left your body before your caretaker could perform treatment.>

Spark? Where am I? Who are you? And what happened with the Eye ? I shudder at that last one.

<Spark, Flame, Lifeblood, these are all things which the world has forgotten. To put it in a way you should understand, your soul was still attached and your head wasn’t completely dead. As for myself, I’m the between, the transience of all things, the Border.>

Oh god! I’m sorry! I didn’t think that the border was a person. Please don’t crush me again, I promise to not stab you anymore. If there’s anything I can-

The woman’s laughter stops my desperate pleas. “You sure are quick to submit to authority. It’ll certainly keep you alive for quite a while. Where’s the fun in that though? Nobody interesting ever just followed all of their life. And you’ll never grow besides. You’re young. Rebel against authority. Create a new kind of music. Innovate. Make a few life-altering mistakes and learn from them. You’ve done the last one already. Now continue becoming something.”

Somehow, she sounds much less formal talking aloud. On a more relevant note, I still have unanswered questions.

“I believe I interrupted your asking if there was anything you could do for me. There is.”

Not that question!

“That eye wasn’t one of my sensors. It overwrote one, which isn’t unheard of, but not for scrying. While anyone powerful could simply jack one if they found it, it was stolen without my knowledge. Worse, it was a straight up hostile takeover of Gensokyo’s Border. Someone was trying to break the world. Either an outsider just tried to kill us all, or a resident wants to destroy Earth. I can’t even tell who, how, why, or where! The entire network is wrecked!

Not to be rude, but this is waaaaaay too big to relate to me in any way.

“Ohhhhh, but you are involved. You drew first blood. The hacker tried to murder you. It was her actual eye that you stabbed. Then, Hakurei staked it with one of her spikes. If they weren’t pissed before, they are after losing an eye. You both showed your hands. She had the better one. If you just laze about and try to forget that this even happened, you’ll be dead within the week.”

I can’t just go hunting for some unknown perpetrator that can crush me with a thought. Even if I weren’t utterly screwed , I wouldn’t know where to start!

“Assume that it’s someone within the Border. She probably has red eyes, so that’s about half the youkai in Gensokyo. Well, eye. Someone sporting an eye-patch should stand out. A woman, judging from the screaming when she had her eye put out. Everyone in Gensokyo heard the screams.”

Even with a lead, a search would be hopeless. I can’t help you.

“I’m not going to force you if you’re unwilling. I could make it easier for you though. I would grant you a pass that marks you as an Incident Resolver. You wouldn’t be bothered by most youkai and some would be honor bound to offer to help you if you needed it. Additionally, I would be indebted to you and would offer a favor to be traded in at your leisure.”

She seems sincere enough, though I feel as though there is an ulterior motive.

“So, yes or no?”

I…

[ ] Accept. I have no choice. At least it won’t be all bad.
[ ] Refuse. I can’t handle this. I wish things would all go back to normal.
[ ] I need some time to think about this and recover.

***

No wrong answer here, unlike the previous choices. I would greatly appreciate reasons for any given choice though. Any discussion/comments/advice is very welcome.
On a tangentially relevant note Fires of Hokkai, Capital City of Flowers and Desire Drive are contenders for best stage theme. They helped me power through this update.
>> No. 46686
[X] I need some time to think about this and recover.
Should talk it over with Reimu, she might know what to do.
>> No. 46687
[ ] Accept. I have no choice. At least it won’t be all bad.

A free pass to get out of youkai attacks sounds cool to me.
>> No. 46691
[X] Accept. I have no choice. At least it won’t be all bad.

A chance to be hero? Sign me up.

As to who is the one trying to wreck the barrier, they need to have both subtlety and power since even Yukari didn't notice the change until now. There are several possible motives as to why they would want control of the barrier. If they were pro-youkai they might want to turn Gensokyo into a dining hall by letting in some humans when the current supply gets too low, or if for some reason they are pro-human they might want to do away with the barrier entirely to have the youkai exterminated. Considering that the owner of the eye also called us "VILE SLIME DISGUSTING FILTHY MONSTER. DEVIL. U N W O R T H Y" we might filter out Gensokyan youkai as the suspects since why would they call a human a monster or a devil, but the phrase " YOU ARE...U N W O R T H Y" implies that the now half blind perpetrator is familiar with Gensokyo. This can mean an outside force that considers youkai monsters, knows of Gensokyo's existence, and has the power to take parts of the border from Yukari. Then again an insider could be sending information to one of their people outside the border.
Until more information is presented let's just go around looking for someone who lost an eye, social propriety be damned.
>> No. 46696
[x] I need some time to think about this and recover.
>> No. 46700
>>46691
Interesting and well thought out. A few things you assume aren't necessarily true. Similarly, the facts aren't all clear. What the perpetrator was doing, how successful she was, and why are not very clear yet.
>> No. 46718
Waiting for a tiebreaker. Will write whatever I want if there is no vote in the next 12 hours.
>> No. 46727
Since I haven't gotten a vote in the last 2 days, I may as well write.
Called for being on the border of decision.
>> No. 46755
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46755
I can’t decide. This is all so heavy. I didn’t wake up today expecting to nearly die. I certainly didn’t expect to be dragged into a world-breaking conflict.

I need time to take this in. It’s too much to ask me to decide right away. Can I at least talk this over with Reimu?

“Time is something that’s running out. Still, I can’t fault you for being uncertain. You’ll get two days of safety at most. If you haven’t decided by then, I will rescind my offer. Whatever you decide, I’ll be watching. I suspect you are going to be so very interesting .”

“Oh yes, you should be waking up soon. Do say hello to Hakurei for me.”

Her voice fades out as bright light fills my vision.





AAH! Too bright!

“So there is still someone in that head of yours!” Reimu was shining a bright light directly into my eye.

Why the blinding light? At least let me rest when I’m injured!

“That’s to check to see if your eyes dilate. It’s to see if they still work and you’re not dead and such.” She has no idea what she’s talking about. “Well, you’re awake, so it worked.”

Yes, I’m fine. Can I go back to sleep now?

“It’s noon Yukari!”

It’s not that late. I’ve had to get you up later than this.

“It’s Monday!”

What month?

“It’s still mid-September. You’ve been out for three days.”

I try to get up. It’s probably the worst mistake I’ve made since attacking the Border. I ache all over, especially my neck. I can’t even tell if anything is broken with all the pain I’m feeling.

Why haven’t I healed yet? I should be fully restored after three days of bed rest. Bruising wouldn’t even take that long to heal.

“Well, that’s because, uh, well…” she won’t even meet my gaze.

Out with it Reimu!

“You were pretty um, dead.” She pauses, expecting me to say something. I of course already heard that from the Border. “I had to reassemble your skull and ribs. Your heart and lungs were a difficult fix as well. It was a long road to make you even as well as you are.”

It was that bad… I think I’m going to be sick. There isn’t any response I can muster. What could I say to the news that I was almost unrecognizably mangled?
During the uncomfortable silence that follows, I finally begin to notice my surroundings. We’re in the large, central shrine room. Reimu doesn’t get very many visitors wishing to offer her their faith, so the room is typically used for other purposes. It’s served as a banquet hall, a mass guest room, a dojo, and now, a makeshift hospital. I can see faint stains where my blood must have seeped into the wood. I fail to suppress the resulting shiver.

Reimu herself is looking at me with concern. She seems unsure of how to break the silence between us.

It takes me a moment to pin down what exactly about Reimu looks different. Her hair is the same mess of brown that she futilely tries to secure with those hair tubes and an oversized bow. She seems shorter than usual. Ah, she isn’t floating! That explains it. Hmm, she’s only about a head taller than me on the ground. She also seems paler than usual. She has dark circles under her eyes, which are redder than usual. Aside from their natural crimson, Reimu’s eyes look irritated and puffy. Sleep deprivation? She couldn’t have been crying! In the six years I’ve lived here, I have never once seen Reimu cry.

“If we’re done staring at each other, we need to talk about what happened.”

Already?

“I guess you probably should clean up first. Afterward then?”

[ ] We can talk now. I should explain myself and tell her about my meeting with the border.
[ ] I could definitely do with a bath. I probably should examine my injuries. We can eat after right?
[ ] You seem tired Reimu. We both need more rest.

***
In the next update, the plot kicks into high gear. In the mean time, questions and unlimited discussion works are appreciated. Also, at this point, there should be some clarification as to why this is posted in others.
>> No. 46758
[x] both rest.
>> No. 46759
[x] I could definitely do with a bath. I probably should examine my injuries. We can eat after right?
[x] You seem tired Reimu. We both need more rest.
Share a bath, share some words, share a meal, share a bed no not like that.
Also, completely alternative Yukari characterisation , I am intrigued.
>> No. 46760
[x] I could definitely do with a bath. I probably should examine my injuries. We can eat after right?
>> No. 46775
[x] I could definitely do with a bath. I probably should examine my injuries. We can eat after right?
>> No. 46797
Called for famous scene from Psycho. No, not really
>> No. 46801
>>46797
>Called for famous scene from Psycho.
YES, YE-
>No, not really
Awww.
>> No. 46805
Reading this and then rereading the opening part of the first post, I...

Well, I think this is some kind of bizarre retake on EoSD, unless there is another master-servant pair of whom the master has an interest in cloud cover.

I don't know what to think about the rest of this. Yukari is not the gap youkai, but a shrine maiden and amateur mage? The Border is alive and an entity? Mima is around? I am plenty interested.

Please say Marisa is some kind of MILF or something, now.
>> No. 46809
Was Rumia selected as the picture for any reason?

She does have red eyes
>> No. 47005
Oh god, I really need to hurry up with that update.
Life is getting very intrusive lately, and I often lack the energy to write. Still, that's no excuse. Updates Thursday at the latest.

I guess I'll take this opportunity to answer some questions.

>>46801
Maybe someone will get their Psycho on later.

>>46805
This is definitely a bizzaro Gensokyo. I suppose you will see how deep the rabbit hole goes over time.
This isn't the Scarlet Mist Incident, though it could be similar. The clouds in this incident are not the incident itself, but rather a distraction, maybe even a false flag operation.
Also, MILFrisa is definitely a thing.

>>46809
Rumia coming out of a mirror just happened to fit with the story title. That being said, Rumia might be introduced in the next few updates.
>> No. 47076
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47076
Afterward for sure. I haven’t bathed in days after all. I feel all icky and at least half of that is blood.

“Go ahead. Take your bath. I’ll make some food for when you get out.”

Now that you mention it, I’m starving. I guess I really haven’t eaten in days.

“Run along now Yukari. The food will wait for you.”

I slowly and painfully leave the main shrine building. It’s very dark and cloudy out today. Windy too, I notice as a leaf from the unswept yard blows past my face.

Thunder rumbles as I cross the yard into the housing quarters. My room is right across from Reimu’s. I’m already breathing heavily by the time I get there. I fetch a simple shirt and pants. It would be a waste of time to grab anything more difficult to put on. I barely even had the energy to cross the yard. How long am I going to be like this?

Another laborious trip across to the bath now. Why the heck is the shrine made up of six buildings instead of just one? I light the bathhouse furnace before going in.

Upon reaching the bath, I set my clothes down where they won’t get wet. I look in the mirror, probably out of morbid curiosity more than anything else. Honestly, I have no idea what I was expecting. I’m positively caked in dried blood. What remains of my miko outfit will probably have to be burned; it’s far beyond saving. That is, if I can even get it off of me at all. It seems pretty stuck, almost fused to the skin in places. If I don’t get these ruined rags off, I won’t be able to check the extent of my injuries.

Going over to the bath, I fill the tub, then a bucket. Standing over a floor drain, I pour the water over myself. It certainly feels invigorating. Some of my aches and pains feel a little better already. Lifting my arms above shoulder level brings tears to my eyes though.

Peeling off my now dripping clothes, I douse myself with the bucket again. Now, I’m at least clean enough to try washing with soap. Might be a good idea to do this by the mirror, where I can see my injuries and make sure I got all the blood off.

Apparently, I’m more out of it than I thought. It took me until now to notice that most of my hair is gone. It isn’t a great shock or anything, just a surprise. My hair is now just a short, straw colored tangle. Reimu must have had to cut most of it off while trying to put my head back together. Really, it isn’t so bad. If it grew back this much in a few days, it should be completely normal in about a week.

While washing my hair, I notice a few white marks on my forehead. Are those scars? I thought Youkai didn’t even get scars. Hopefully, this doesn’t mean any of my wounds are permanent !

One scar starts near the center of my hairline and curves over my scalp and behind my left ear. A second goes from the bridge of my nose over my right eye. The last crosses from the outer corner of my right eye to just below the ear. At least one of the smaller ones is probably from hitting a rock when I fell. I must have narrowly missed losing an eye.

In checking the rest of my head, I discover two leading out from the base of my skull. One leads toward my left ear. That’s probably where I had my head caved in. The other points straight up.

As for my body, I’ve seen better days. I’m stiff and achy. All over me are bruises, both the fresh purple kind and the icky yellow ones that are partway healed. I’ve got two healing punctures at the bottom of my ribs. I gently prod at them and…

My bottom pair of ribs is gone, the ones that don’t join in the center.

Wow… I’m being really calm about all this. Am I in shock? I guess this could just be a coping mechanism. I don’t feel detached, just hungry and in pain. I’m not acting like this is happening to someone else. I’m even still narrating things in my head in that way Reimu finds so annoying for some reason. No strange voices in my head telling me to do things or bombarding me with questions. I’m still sane, or at least as sane as I always was.

And now I’m trying to convince myself that I’m okay. Sooner or later, I’ll probably have a breakdown. Sooner would be ideal. Otherwise, it’ll come at an inopportune time and interrupt whatever I happen to be doing then.

Hmm…

Well, enough of that! I’m getting cold just staring at myself in the mirror. Less philosophizing, more bath time!

After reheating the water, I’m finally able to warm up with a nice, relaxing bath. The warmth is very soothing, and I doze off for a while. I sleep rather peacefully, without nightmares, nearly drowning, or other such mishaps.

Some uncertain amount of time later, I wake up feeling stronger. The bath has cooled, but there is a fair amount of fog hovering lazily in the room. Checking myself over, I don’t look any different aside from the usual shriveled fingers and toes resulting from soaking too long.

I dry off and dress quickly. I’m very hungry now. I probably missed yet another meal thanks to my nap.

I just leave my old clothes where they are as I leave the bathhouse. At this point, ‘clothes’ probably isn’t the best word for them. They should probably be burned at some point. And I liked that miko outfit too.

Feeling clean now, though not entirely healthy, I venture through the gardens, toward the kitchen and dining building. The gardens feel barren and empty this time of year. The flowers have withered with the changing seasons and we’ve already eaten or preserved most of the vegetables and herbs. Now, there is little more than a few skeletal trees swaying in the breeze. It’s serene, but also a little dreary and depressing.

Having dawdled enough, I enter the dining hall. The moment I slide open the door, I’m greeted with the smell of cooked food. I could eat just about anything right now, but this smells fantastic!
>> No. 47077
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47077
“So there really was a Yukari under all that mess. You look much better now. Relatively speaking.” Reimu smiles at me from over by the stove.

Yeah, yeah, Reimu. I know I look terrible. Between the hair loss and scars, I could really do with a hat. More immediately, what’s for breakfast? Or is it dinner? What are we having?

“Fried wolf over curried rice. I figured you needed meat to get back to full strength. Hopefully, it will be edible. I mean, I rarely cook meat and I’ve never tried to cook a wolf, so…”

I recall that last week, Reimu mentioned in passing that a wolf tried to get into the chicken coop. This is the sort of thing that happens to those unfortunate enough to try to steal from the Hakurei Shrine. It’s also the reason we never seem to get any visitors. Aside from Marisa and Mima that is. I suppose the fact that the nearest human settlement is a three day walk from here doesn’t help. Humans seem to detest inconvenience, and the few other youkai I’ve met have had a keen danger sense.

Regarding the taste of the food, I’m not too worried. It smells excellent at least. The food you normally make is at least technically edible. It may taste like tree bark, but I had to eat worse from time to time before I came to live here.

Technically edible?! And tree bark ?!” Reimu sputters. “Are you saying I have no sense of taste?”

No! Not at all! Wait… yes, exactly that.

“How ungrateful! At least I cook better than Marisa!” Great, now she’s in a huff. Good job me.

Um, not really. Her meals look and smell toxic, but they usually taste amazing and unique. Her experiments tend to be successful. Meanwhile, you can somehow ruin rice. For all your talents, you can’t cook at all.

“Well sorry for not living up to your standards miss gourmet.”

Or any standards whatsoever.

At this point, Reimu whacks me over the head with the spoon she was using to stir the rice. It doesn’t hurt much, but I get showered in rice.

You got rice in my hair, Reimu. I franticly try to brush it off.

“And you got hair in my rice.” She points the spoon at me accusingly. Her expression indicates that she feels it’s actually my fault. I stare back at her defiantly.

After half of a minute of mutual frowning, my mouth starts to twitch. Reimu grins and we both burst into uncontrollable laughter. Every time it seems like one of us is close to stopping, we make eye contact, and the laughing begins anew. By the time we manage to compose ourselves, I’m practically in tears, and Reimu’s face is almost as red as her clothes.

“Ah, that was great.” Reimu says between gasps for breath. “I really needed that.”

I did too, Reimu. A little bit of normalcy is essential when things are going crazy.

“It’s good to have you back Yukari.” Reimu gives me a hug.

Good to be back. I return the hug warmly.

===

The food is actually quite good. The curry offsets Reimu’s inability to cook rice, and the wolf is actually quite tender.

Whenever I ate wolf in the wilds, it was always sort of stringy. Of course, it was raw. And yet, I’ve always enjoyed wolf more than other meats. I suppose it was always a challenging fight. I always worked up an appetite killing wolves. They were the biggest thing I could hunt, and almost never ran away. Most of my good memories from that time are of feasting on rewarding kills. I even made the knife I always have with me from a wolf’s jawbone. I wonder if it’s still out back where I dropped it.

“You always think so much more than you say Yukari. If you’re thinking about something, then you might as well say it. Honesty is the best policy and such. Your knife is right here by the way.” Reimu passes the knife to me. It looks a little chipped, but is fine overall. “I don’t know why you even have that. It isn’t really very useful.”

I have it to defend myself. More than once, I’ve used it to intimidate attackers into backing down.

“Like how you defended yourself against the Border?” Reimu’s tone is unfamiliar. It’d harsh and almost choked, very different from her usual lecturing voice. I find myself a little frightened. “With the way you handled that , I feel as though you don’t deserve to carry around a weapon. You aren’t mature enough.” She gestures at me to give the knife back to her. Like that’s going to happen!

I am so mature! And I already tried every alternative before resorting to violence.

Really now? You tried asking nicely? How about placing them on the ground in front of the Border? Did you ask for help any? Hell, even leaving the perimeter unfinished like last time would have been preferable to what you did!” Reimu remains composed enough to stay seated.

Half of those options don’t even make sense! You’d just mock me for being stupid if I asked you. And giving up after seven hours of work would be humiliating.

“So you started a fight with reality just to save face ? Personal honor and glory should not be worth more than your life , no matter who you are!”

What about duty then? You taught me that duty mattered more than life? Was that not true?

“It’s only true for me ! I’m Reimu Hakurei ! Being the Hakurei means I have to prioritize duty. And besides, how can you expect to keep doing your duty if you’re already dead?

I can’t win this argument. Even if I knew which parts to poke holes in, I’m not sure how they would be wrong. I guess wisdom will come with time. I guess that, for now at least, I’ll just have to deal with the consequences.

DEAL WITH THE CONSEQUENCES?! ” She slams her fist on the table. “You died Yukari! It took me three days and almost all of the faith I had in order to restore you to the wreck you are now! I even had to call in a favor from one of Gensokyo’s founders to bring you back from the brink! So don’t act like I’m the in the wrong! Admit your mistakes and learn from them! That’s what adults do.”

I-but why would you? Won’t you disappear if you run out of faith? You’d risk that for me ?

“Believe it or not, I see you as family , Yukari. We might be related not by blood, but we certainly are in circumstance. People take risks for the ones they love. And where did you get the idea that I’d disappear if I ran out of faith? I never said anything like that!”

Marisa said that faithless gods disappear! Is that wrong?

“Not exactly… but I’m a human who became a god. Only artificial gods who weren’t something before disappear. I’m just weak for a while when I use too much power.” She gestures around her. The orbs which usually circle her are gone.

I’m kind of stupid for failing to notice the lack of orbs. They provide most of the color in her look. So they indicate her power level then? I always thought they were some sort of accessory or conversation piece.
Normally, there are four glass orbs filled with the elements circling Reimu. The Fire Orb is rarely present at all. Reimu once said that the irregularly orbiting heat makes her uncomfortable, but I think it would be nice in winter to have it pulsing around my chest.
Next to go is the Lightning Orb. It has to cause at least half of Reimu’s hair troubles, what with the constant static it exerts from just above her head. Yet, she seems to cherish it for some reason.
The Water Orb is usually present floating lazily around Reimu’s head at about eye level for her. It always moves in the opposite direction from the Fire Orb. While it seems like a distraction, the fact that the orb occasionally reflects distorted shapes indicates that Reimu can probably use it to see behind her.
For the first time I’ve ever seen, the Darkness Orb isn’t bolting up and down Reimu’s back. It always seems so frantic to detach itself from her. The thing always tries to club at people who get near. Luckily, it can only reach about an arm’s length away from her before snapping back. Seriously, why does she even have it if it can’t tell friend and foe apart?

I know that the orbs are supposed to mean something . Reimu just says that together, they symbolize a harmony of the elements. They don’t seem harmonious at all to me. She never mentions the individual meanings either. How did she get those anyway? I’m sure it’s an epic tale of heroism and glory!

“If you’re quite done with your inane tangent, can we get back to an apology?”

Aww! But I want to hear that story!

“Quit acting like such a baby! At least act your apparent age!”

So then, how exactly is a thirteen-year-old supposed to act? I sincerely don’t have any idea.

“Well, um, I guess you should…” She doesn’t know! “You should avoid angering your mother figure, especially if she happens to be your god! If you do upset her, I mean me, you should apologize. Sound regretful, genuflect, and the like.”

She really is terrible at this. I should probably humor her though. Still, I don’t really feel like it and I’m sorry Reimu! I only wanted to prove myself as good enough. Please forgive me! why is she so hung up on this apology junk anyway?

“I’m ‘hung up’ on it because you don’t seem to care how the consequences of your actions affect other people. If you can’t at least acknowledge the fact that you affect others with every good or bad choice, then you’ve learned nothing in the years you’ve lived here.” Reimu takes a deep breath. Her next words come out as the tiniest of whispers. “Do you regret the path which has led you here? The path of foolishness and pointless violence.”

I don’t know. I thought I was doing what was right. And I haven’t even told my side of what happened!

“Which is?” Reimu taps her foot, waiting for my no doubt already deemed insufficient explanation.

It wasn’t the Border who attacked me.

“You mean who you attacked.”

Whatever. I spoke to the Border while I was dead. She said that some powerful mage was tampering with the natural order. It was something about destroying Gensokyo or the outside world.

“That seems a little… absurd. The border is warded against magical intrusions. I believe you found that out while trying to control it with a water spell. The only people who can manipulate the Border are Gensokyo’s three founders. Of them, I trust one implicitly, and another restored you to life. It would be impossible for any one of the three to destroy Gensokyo without another’s consent anyway.”

I guess I don’t really know anything about Gensokyo’s workings after all. I just assumed things were always the way they are now. Today is the first time I’ve really heard anything about founders and anti-tampering protocols. I’m torn between a desire for answers and a need to finish explaining first.

I guess I might as well…
[] ask away! More knowledge might provide clues as to what is going on.
-Who are these three founders you mentioned?
-What sort of dealings did you have with the founders in the past?
-One of them saved me? I should really thank them.
-Where does the Border fit into all of this?
-I have a few other questions as well. (write in)
[] get on with it. I should finish explaining what I know.
-I should provide what little else I know about the perpetrator.
-The border offered me a deal. What do you think about it?
-Apparently, a highly powerful mage is probably out for my blood. What should we do?
-We should also talk about… (write in)

Also choose three:
[] Blindside
[] Transience
[] Infamy
[] Renegade
[] Prometheus
[] Degeneration
[] Overlord
[] Yesteryear
[] Nightstalker
[] Void

***
After FIVE missed deadlines, I return with an update longer than the rest of the story so far combined! I'm not entirely satisfied with the way things turned out, but I never am with my work.
Distractions and health issues abound, but things should be easier from here on out. If I ever go another straight week without at least posting SOMETHING, please call me out on it loudly.
As always, please comment and tell me how, specifically, I'm doing it wrong.
Problems in this story will require lateral thinking and creativity. Vote as you like here, an info dump now could be very useful later.
>> No. 47078
[X] get on with it. I should finish explaining what I know.
-I should provide what little else I know about the perpetrator.
[X] Prometheus
[X] Overlord
[X] Renegade
>> No. 47084
[x] get on with it. I should finish explaining what I know.
-I should provide what little else I know about the perpetrator.
-The border offered me a deal. What do you think about it?

[x] Prometheus
[x] Overlord
[x] Void
>> No. 47090
[x] Hidden
[x] Forbidden
[x] Holy--

Wait, wrong game.

[x] Prometheus
[x] Void
[x] Nightstalker
>> No. 47099
>>47090
You were supposed to vote for the first choice as well. And I saw what you did there. I could have even worked it in too.

Anyway, vote called for:

[x] get on with it. I should finish explaining what I know.
-I should provide what little else I know about the perpetrator.
-The border offered me a deal. What do you think about it?

[x] Prometheus
[x] Overlord
[x] Void
>> No. 47959
In order to write this story, I need to first finalize all of the background details. As such, the prequel story: Path of Hakurei will be found in /shrine/ within a week or two.