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52277 No. 52277
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...To be quite honest, I'm still a little angry at Hatate. Maybe she was upset, frightened, and was overreacting, but that doesn't change the fact that she HIT ME IN THE FACE WITH A CHAIR. And was apparently willing to bludgeon me to death with it, all based upon the insurmountable evidence that I was a butler, and therefore had to be guilty by definition.

Truly, a superlative performance from our intrepid reporter.

Judging from my train of thought that I am still somewhat irked with her, I instead choose to walk over to Lyrica, who glances up at me as I approach. The red-clad... poltergeist, was it? ...Turns to me with a humbled expression, hands clasped in front of her. She can't quite seem to meet my gaze.

"...You're angry at me, aren't you?" she asks in a voice just above a whisper.

"You accused me of murder," I say calmly, my anger somewhat subdued after talking to Hina, but still there. "You threatened me with a hot poker. And all based upon some ridiculous theory about 'the butler always doing it.' I was hoping for a little more thought on your part. Some rationality, perhaps? Some critical thinking?"

I notice Hatate's shoulders slump, and the young reporter quietly walks away, slipping into a different lounge than the others. It occurs to me that faced with her error, the young woman must be feeling devastated. It makes my anger subside even further, but first I want to finish talking to Lyrica.

"...I guess I did," Lyrica whispers. "I was pretty stupid, huh?" She shakes her head, looking up at me with teary eyes. "Alfred, I'm really sorry. It's just, we walked in there, and there was all of that blood... and that smell... Anyway, Hatate panicked and knocked you out, and I guess I kind of egged her on afterwards. I mean, I saw the mess, and just wasn't thinking."

"You put her up to it? Beating me to death, I mean?" I stare at the ghost unflinchingly.

Lyrica closes her eyes and looks away. "Sort of. I mean, it's Yukari, you know? Anyone who could kill her could kill anyone. I just figured that you were standing over her and gloating, or something like that. I wasn't thinking, I was being stupid, and I... I'm so sorry." Lyrica's voice breaks at the end, and she's visibly fighting back tears. "It's just so frightening. Even now, I don't know what to do. I don't know if this is a huge joke, or if Yukari really did get eaten by something. I just... I'm just so lost." Lyrica shakes her head helplessly.

I sigh and think back to my own reaction. How I nearly shut down and lost my mind. How must it have been for the others who came upon me in that situation, just standing there, staring at a pile of gore? How would I have reacted?

...Honestly, I might have reacted much the same in the heat of the moment, driven more by shock than by rational thought. So really, can I honestly condemn this young woman? Any of them? Not without being a hypocrite, I think.

I lean against the wall, sighing heavily. "You were referred to as a poltergeist," I say finally, "Does that mean you're a ghost?"

"...Sort of," Lyrica says, wiping her eyes and turning back to me. "I'm actually a sort of spiritual creation, imbued with the appearance and personality of the original human being. A girl with strong spiritual powers created me and my sisters when their family split up." She shrugs. "I regard myself as a separate being than the original, though. I have my own thoughts, memories, and desires. And I'm real, a real being with hopes and dreams. But I do have similar qualities to actual ghosts, yeah. Walking through walls, supernatural powers, the whole nine yards."

I nod slowly. "Fascinating. So, a spectral being with different origins than a more conventional spirit?"

"Pretty much." Lyrica smiles weakly. "It's the real reason we're called the Phantom Trio. And we live in the family's original house. With our talents, we can put on some amazing shows."

"I don't doubt it." I hesitate for a moment. "I almost lost my mind when I saw what had happened to Yukari. I apparently was standing there in a daze for a solid fifteen minutes. With that in mind, I suppose I shouldn't be too hard on you, should I?"

"Still doesn't make what we did right," Lyrica says with a gentle smile, "But thank you for that. Listen, would you talk to Hatate? If she's feeling anything like I am, she really needs to talk to you. And besides, she was kinda the instigator of all this. The chair thing, you know."

I nod, remembering Hatate's hunched shoulders, and her slow gait. Sure signs of someone consumed by guilt. She must realize the error she made, that she was ready to kill an innocent man in the heat of panic. In her position, I can only imagine how I would feel. "You're right. I'll have a word with her," I assure Lyrica.

The poltergeist smiles at me. "Thank you. Just wait here, I'll go get her, okay?" I nod, and Lyrica walks over to the door Hatate had disappeared into. I take a deep, calming breath, ready to have a word with the first of my accusers.

I am jolted out of my meditation by Lyrica's horrified, blood-curdling scream.


I rush over to Lyrica, practically leaping over to the door frame, my heart already pounding in my chest, a sick feeling of dread in my stomach. Lyrica is standing just inside the room, one hand grabbing the door frame in a white-knuckled grip, the other clamped over her mouth. As I enter the room, the poltergeist grabs onto me as though her life (unlife?) depended upon in. She shakes heavily, staring at the scene in horror.

Of course, so am I. The thought that first crosses my mind, almost obscenely, is how much neater it is this time. Almost as though the culprit were learning manners.

There's a pool of blood on the floor, with a couple of black feathers soaking in the blood. Right in the middle of the blood, looking almost prim amidst the gore, his Hatate's strange hat.

Beside the pool, written in neat printing, is the message: TASTES LIKE CHICKEN.

[ ] React.
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No. 52279
Fuck, I knew this was going to happen while I saw the tide going for Lyrica.

[x]"Oh no. Not this shit again!"
-[x]"Now you see it wasn't me, right?"
--[x]And now seriously, call all the remaining guests alive. Tell them of Hatate's demise.
---[x]And most importantly, instruct them to make sure nobody gets alone at any time.
No. 52284
[ ] "Oh motherfucker."
No. 52285


Of course, circumstances are probably going to make us all split up at the earliest possibility anyway. But you can't fault us for trying.
No. 52286
[x]"Again? This is getting annoying."
-[x]"Now you see it wasn't me, right?"
--[x]And now seriously, call all the remaining guests alive. Tell them of Hatate's demise.
---[x]And most importantly, instruct them to make sure nobody gets alone at any time.
No. 52287
[x] Gather everyone and make sure not to split up.

Bye Hatate. Just as planned.
No. 52288
You monster.

[x]"Oh motherfucker."
--[x]And now seriously, call all the remaining guests alive. Tell them of Hatate's demise.
---[x]And most importantly, instruct them to make sure nobody gets alone at any time.
No. 52290
[x] Get Lyrica back to the hallway! 1 youkai out of sight is vulnerable, what better odds could a youkai and a powerless human have?
-[x] No snarking about your innocence. This is hardly the time to pile more guilt on Lyrica. Support her.
--[x] Make sure everyone stays in groups of 3 or more.

That's all I got. Informing everyone seems too obvious to bother including, I'm sure at least half of them heard that scream anyway.
No. 52292
[X] Oh motherfucker
-[X] Protect your head, in case of.
No. 52293
[x] Get Lyrica back to the hallway! 1 youkai out of sight is vulnerable, what better odds could a youkai and a powerless human have?
-[x] No snarking about your innocence. This is hardly the time to pile more guilt on Lyrica. Support her.
--[x] Make sure everyone stays in groups of 3 or more.

No bodies are left and the victims don't scream. They're not eaten whole or the spit would have some bones or something besides blood. Either their bodies are liquefied or they're still alive and Suika is full of shit.
No. 52296
[x] Get Lyrica back to the hallway! 1 youkai out of sight is vulnerable, what better odds could a youkai and a powerless human have?
-[x] No snarking about your innocence. This is hardly the time to pile more guilt on Lyrica. Support her.
--[x] Make sure everyone stays in groups of 3 or more.
---[x] powerless humans don't count towards the minimum of 3.
No. 52300
[x] Get Lyrica back to the hallway! 1 youkai out of sight is vulnerable, what better odds could a youkai and a powerless human have?
-[x] No snarking about your innocence. This is hardly the time to pile more guilt on Lyrica. Support her.
--[x] Make sure everyone stays in groups of 3 or more.
---[x] powerless humans don't count towards the minimum of 3.
No. 52305
Right, I should be able to put this all into a decent update. Which I shall do later.
No. 52307
...No body?
No. 52309
File 137445547371.jpg - (17.81KB, 500x372, just as keikaku.jpg) [iqdb]

Looks like anon is the real murderer.
No. 52310
File 13744567877.jpg - (158.61KB, 850x680, what could have been.jpg) [iqdb]

"Oh, motherfucker," I hiss, overcome with emotion. I'm not usually given to such profanity, but in this circumstance... I feel that an exception can be made. Lyrica doesn't answer, just burying her face in my chest as sobs wrack her body. I hold her tightly as well; not out of any sense of romance, just for the comfort of another living body. And right now I don't give a damn if Lyrica is a ghost, or a poltergeist, or whatever. She's close enough.

My God, there isn't even a body left. What the hell is going on?

I hear the stomping of feet running down the corridor, and suddenly Kasen's bandaged hand is on my shoulder, shaking me slightly. I look over at her drawn, nervous face and see the rest of the guests gathered behind her, Eiki pushing her way to the front.

"What. Happened?" Kasen asks me very seriously.

For a moment I don't respond, simply passing the sobbing Lyrica over to Hina, who gazes down at the poltergeist with a drawn, pained expression. Then I force myself to make my way into the room, followed closely by Kasen and Eiki. I don't go anywhere near the puddle of blood.

As for the other two, they get a few feet into the room before freezing in place, their eyes going wide with shock as all of the blood drains from their faces. Behind them, the rest of the guests peer into the room, whispering to each other in shock.

"Gods above, not again," Kasen whispers quietly. "How? How did this happen?"

I close my eyes, the horrible smell of blood seeping into my nostrils yet again. "I was talking to Lyrica," I say quietly. "We were discussing the... reasoning surrounding the accusations they leveled against me. Somewhere along the way, Hatate slipped into this room, probably for privacy. I think some of the things I said hurt her feelings." I take a deep breath. "Anyway, Lyrica went looking for her, and saw this." I gesture to the pool of blood, and the message. And, of course, the hat.

"I warned everyone," Eiki says angrily, "I told them that there could be something dangerous loose. But she didn't listen. Why didn't she-"

"That's not fair!" Lyrica shouts in a tearful voice. She storms into the rooms, tears streaking her cheeks. "I felt so guilty when I realized how wrong I was! Hatate must have felt the same! She probably felt too guilty to even look at Alfred, so... so..."

"For all we know, she slipped in here to weep in private," Kasen murmurs. Lyrica just bites her lip and scrunches her eyes shut.

Eiki sighs, deflating. "I apologize. I spoke too quickly. This is not the time for one of my lectures." She looks down at the ground, and around the room. "You didn't hear anything, Alfred?"

"Not a thing," I report. "I mean, we couldn't have been more than a few feet from the door! And We were only talking for a few minutes! I just don't know how this could have happened!"

"Supernatural silence is a distinct possibility," Yumeko comments, stepping into the room and giving the remains a hard look. "Perhaps someone... attacked Hatate while she was alone, and left only this. If there was a mystical silence over the room, we wouldn't have heard anything."

"I was close by," Kasen points out, "I'm certain that I would have felt something."

"Not all forms of magic have a huge signature," Iku points out from the corridor, apparently unwilling to enter the room. "Gensokyo is all about flashy forms of magic, it's true. But there are other abilities that would be extremely difficult to detect, even at close range."

There's silence at this, as the guests mull this over. Meanwhile, I just stare at the pool of blood. It's an awful lot of blood, and it seems so strange how it's pooling there, spreading out in an even circle. Well no, not a perfect circle. But something about all of this, the neatness of the scene, the playful message, the hat, placed ever so primly in the middle of the pool, seems so obscene. It's like someone defiled a grave.

In a way, someone has.

"Why are there feathers?" I ask quietly.

"Hatate was a crow tengu," Suika says quietly, coming up to stand beside me. "She had black wings. She was just hiding them."

Black wings. I wonder what they looked like? Were they large? Small? Did they shine? How did she hide them? Somehow, the fact that I would never know, would never talk to Hatate about her newspaper, would never be able to pose for the pictures she wanted to take of the gardens, of the boathouse... that I would never get to do any of these things, now, wrenched at my heart. To my surprise, I was fighting off tears.

I look around the room myself. "There's one other door, here, so there was a way in and out for the killer," I tell everyone else. "Somehow, this individual snuck up on her, murdered her, and carried the body away without a single speck of blood landing on the floor."

At my words, Eiki marches fearlessly towards the other door to the room, quickly flanked by Yumeko and Parsee, both with stern expressions on their faces. The door is thrown open, and the three look through, only to shake their heads in dismay.

"Nothing," Yumeko sighs, "And believe me, I've been a maid for a goddess for a very long time. If there was a trail out there, I'd see it."

"Then what happened?!" I demand. "Did something just eat her body on the spot, and spit out any excess blood? Did they stuff her in a plastic bag, end her life, then pour some out as a joke? Where the hell did the body go?" A thought occurs to me. "...Are we even sure that this is Hatate's blood?"

Everyone shares a glance as a ripple of hope seems to go through the room. If this was really a deception...! Suika steps forward then, with a grim look on her face. Kneeling down, the Oni stretches out a hand, dips a finger in the blood, and brings it to her mouth.

"Oh God," I groan. "Not this shit again, I beg you!"

"Shut up, Alfred," Suika says without any malice. Without another word, she sucks the blood off of her fingertip. For a moment, the small Oni is silent. Then she stand up, and regards the rest of us solemnly. "Tengu blood. I'd know the taste."

There's not much to say to that. I feel like my stomach is falling through the floor, and from the expressions of everyone else, they feel the same way. That's it, then. There is no way to escape it.

Hatate is dead.

I just met the girl, and now she's dead. And she might have died thinking that I despised her.

Damn it.

"We need to get out of here," I say quietly. "Get to the other lounge, where we're all together. Form a plan. Something."

Eiki nods. "Alfred is right. Let's go." Without a word of argument, everyone leaves the room, leaving behind all that remains of Hatate Himekaidou and the message written in her blood.

As soon as we enter the other lounge, I practically lunge for the glass of brandy I was sipping from earlier, and down it all in one go. The burn feels good. It's something for me to focus on, something to distract me. Distantly, I note that this is conclusive evidence of my innocence, but I ruthlessly crush the thought. Now is not the time to think that way.

"We can't separate," I say hoarsely. "We need to stay in groups. Groups of two, no, THREE people at all times. We're cut off by the storm, and that, that MADMAN is out there somewhere."

"Good call," Parsee says. "And anyone here who can summon copies of themselves probably should, just for the extra manpower." After saying this, Parsee gets a confused look on her face.

"Yeah, and maybe I can sweep this place from top to bottom with some mini-clones of me," Suika says with a nod, "You don't just hide from an Oni's senses." Parsee doesn't respond, just frowns down at her hands. Suika shakes her head and walks over to one of the walls. "Poor kid. She had such high hopes, too. I just... DAMMIT!" Shouting in frustration, the Oni slams her fist into the wall. I wince; that's probably going to have to be repaired.

"Ow," Suika says instead.

The room goes very quiet.

There isn't a mark on the wall, except for some scuffed wallpaper.

Suika stares at her hand in confusion, and then punches the wall again. And then again, harder.

"Please don't do that," I say, "It's a terrible pain to repair."

"There should be a hole in that wall right now," Suika says, voice numb. "Why is there not a hole?!" Walking stiffly with a sudden purpose, Suika marches over to one of the shelves, wraps her arms around it, and tries to lift it off of the ground. She fails.

"I can't summon my duplicate," Parsee says, "In fact, I can't do anything." Her face is very tense. This leads the rest of the Gensokyans to doing a number of odd things. Lyrica walks over to a wall and starts pushing against it. Hina spins in pace for a moment before losing her balance. Kasen starts squeezing her bandaged arm in bafflement. Iku frowns, straining in concentration, while Yumeko makes a number of odd hand gestures which do nothing. Eiki actually bounces in place for a moment.

Finally, the eight women stare at each other in growing horror, as the reality of the situation starts to dawn on them. Of course, it's obvious what is happening, but Eiki is the one who finally puts things into words:

"We're powerless."

[ ] Mute silence.
[ ] Start thinking, goddammit! (Write-ins welcome)
No. 52311
[x] Gotta get out of this mansion, somehow.

Yeah, it never works, but... maybe there will be a clue to be found?
No. 52312
[X] Is there anyone from from Gensokyo who can do something like this?
No. 52313
[X] Start thinking, goddammit!
-[X] Okay, the sicko behind this is treating the whole thing like a game. It's obvious from the color commentary.
-[X]The only rule I can figure out is "don't be alone". Or maybe it's "have someone else's eyes on you"?
-[X]Let's get to the kitchens and make sure there's still food and water available. We can take some more time to think there.
-[X]When night rolls around, we can sleep in shifts or something to make sure someone's always watching the rest.
No. 52314
[X] Stay in the lounge, it's safe and has only a few entrances. Bring some beds down and space them out, NO ONE SLEEPS ALONE. Also you take turns keeping watch and periodically send FOUR people out to search the mansion, they are to stay TOGETHER. The teams are to be observant.

I'm glad I voted for Lyrica earlier.
No. 52316
...now that I think about it, is it possible for a poltergeist to die/get eaten? I don't think poltergeists are made of flesh and blood, but... Maybe we kinda made the wrong choice. I don't know for sure.

Just speculation. Feel free to rip it apart.

Anyways, VOTES.

[X] Stay in the lounge, it's safe and has only a few entrances. Bring some beds down and space them out, NO ONE SLEEPS ALONE. Also you take turns keeping watch and periodically send FOUR people out to search the mansion, they are to stay TOGETHER. The teams are to be observant.

Because I can't think of how to do anything in a murder mystery situation.
No. 52317
[X] Stay in the lounge, it's safe and has only a few entrances. Bring some beds down and space them out, NO ONE SLEEPS ALONE. Also you take turns keeping watch and periodically send FOUR people out to search the mansion, they are to stay TOGETHER. The teams are to be observant.
[x] Brainstorm, determine who from Gensokyo is capable of nullifying powers.
No. 52318
[ ] Mute silence.

Solution for no bodies.
Killer ate them.
Nom nom nom, chicken tastes damn good rare.
No. 52319
[x]Calm down. Rational approach.
-[x]Searching the mansion for the killer is foolish. We have no recourse if we do find the killer.
--[x]Check your mental map of the mansion. Is there a tower or something we can view the grounds from? If so, does it have room for us all to stay the weekend?

Branching: If yes to the tower:
---[x]Move as a single group to the tower, getting beds or whatever is needed on the way.

If no such location exists:
---[x]Move as a single group to retrieve supplies, beds, etc. Bring them to the lobby.

In either case:
----[x]Once there, set up beds and a food/drink stockpile, barricade all entrances. Sleep in shifts. Once the storm ends, we leave as a single group.

We don't need to catch the killer. Our goal should be to get as many people as possible out alive. To do that, we need to outlast this storm.
No. 52320
Sometimes I wish I could stand to read stories involving dead Touhous. Only sometimes, though.
No. 52321
I won't be convinced that they're actually dead until the after-story Q&A. And even then, if it's true, I'll rationalize it off.
No. 52324
I figured the person we didn't talk to would die the moment the last group was split to be talked to individually, so I can't say I'm surprised, but still, poor Hatate. Even if she did bludgeon Alf with a chair.

Everyone's been depowered, so everyone should be treated as effectively human.

[X] Vote against the tower idea. That sounds like a really easy way to get them trapped. The culprit just needs to barricade/collapse a stairway. High places in general probably aren't very safe.
No. 52330
File 13744750586.jpg - (90.44KB, 700x700, 8b672c819fb56647043ba1cd7349ca27.jpg) [iqdb]
Right now I can only think of one person. She's not extremely well known, and many people don't even consider her a Touhou because she isn't canon, but her power pretty much allows her to trump any other ability. I doubt Keymaster is one to use OCs from the fandom community, but the possibility is there.
No. 52331

Also , thank you for the dear picture, we sure don't feel guilty now.
No. 52332
---> Padlock on Mitori
No. 52335
Normally I would check to see if the telephone and the boat were still intact, but I highly doubt any of the two are actually viable now.

You just wait until the power gets cut. Calling it now.

[X] Stay in the lounge, it's safe and has only a few entrances. Bring some beds down and space them out, NO ONE SLEEPS ALONE. Also you take turns keeping watch and periodically send FOUR people out to search the mansion, they are to stay TOGETHER. The teams are to be observant.
- [X] Get the supplies in one group. Safety is the most paramount concern here, not speed.

Why kill the guests here and why eat them? I have to wonder if whoever is doing this is actually getting the powers of the missing guests, that would explain quite a few things.
No. 52336
Has the Kasen/Suika situation been explained in Being Meiling by the way?
Since Kasen is normally very adamant to not being seen by Suika
No. 52337

I'm deliberately avoiding that question, since it has yet to play out fully in Wild and Horned Hermit. Just assume that Kasen and Suika made a quiet agreement to not discuss it for the weekend. In any case, it's not an issue for the sake of this story.
No. 52340
File 137450304411.jpg - (7.73KB, 176x137, 1333831855998.jpg) [iqdb]
A fanon character with a rip-off design and mary sue powers as the villain? Now you're starting to scare me.
No. 52341
Whoa guys. This is a mystery novel. Act the part. All this crazy preparedness is going to go to naught for the sake of the plot. Part of the fun is knowing everythings going to go wrong even when the characters don't.
No. 52342
File 137450478089.jpg - (58.13KB, 848x480, 1345965484843.jpg) [iqdb]
Forgot your picture.
No. 52343
It occurs to me. None of the characters actually know how weak Keymaster's Yukari is. Which means, to them, she plausibly has the means to take away their powers. This new development actually makes the idea that it's all something Yukari's doing more plausible, IC.
No. 52344
Though we can have a pretty clear idea of how weak she could be from Being Meiling...
No. 52345

Not weak, though I apparently left that impression. She's powerful, just not invincible. She can still do a lot with her powers, but it wears her down.

Anyway, I see the most votes in common for the stay in the lounge plan. I'll start thinking up an update along those lines.
No. 52346
it feels more like a horror movie to me.
No. 52347
Of course not, but compared to other interpretations of her, your gap hag is pretty weak, in the sense where she has limits, when most others don't.
No. 52348
File 137451728022.jpg - (284.42KB, 850x850, oni stress management.jpg) [iqdb]

For a moment, there is stunned silence in the room as all of the women take in this new state of affairs. It must be jarring for them. After a lifetime of enjoying vast magical power, it's suddenly taken away from them. While they're trapped in a mansion with a psychotic murderer on the loose.

A heavy gust of wind shakes the mansion, reinforcing the overall feeling of doom permeating the room.

"This blows," Parsee says finally, admirably summing up the situation.

At once, the assorted females start talking to one another, a cacophony of shouts, frightened whispering, and disbelieving mutters. A pale Eiki and frowning Yumeko try to get everyone's attention, while Lyrica slumps down on a couch, hiding her face behind her hands; Iku sits down next to her, giving the frightened girl a hug. Hina is visibly panicking, asking anyone who is willing to listen just what we should do. Kasen is moving her bandaged arm around with a look of relief on her face. Parsee is glaring at the floor in irritation, biting her lip. Suika, meanwhile... has made a beeline for the liquor and is drinking. Again.

I shake my head. This is accomplishing nothing. Everyone is panicking, which is likely just leading directly into the hands of whoever or whatever is behind all of this. I clear my throat and speak loudly over the commotion: "Am I to assume then, that this is a bad thing?"

That gets their attention. Parsee stares at me like I'm insane. "Something managed to gulp down Yukari and Hatate without anyone even noticing," she tells me slowly, as though speaking to a child. "And now we're powerless. How screwed do you think we are if this thing, or whatever it is, managed to take down YUKARI YAKUMO, and is now loose in this place, all while we can't so much as summon a single bullet?!"

"We're all gonna die, aren't we?" Hina whispers, causing several people to shudder. "It's gonna come for us next, isn't it? And then we're all gonna get killed, just like poor Hatate!"

"Th-that's enough, Miss Kagiyama!" Eiki declares, forcing herself to put on a brave face. "Defeatism gains us nothing, at this point. That said Alfred, yes, we regard this as a bad thing." The judge of the dead has a drawn appearance. "We are being forced to consider the fact that something managed to take down one of the most powerful beings in Gensokyo, and now we don't even have any of our magic with which to defend ourselves." Hina starts sobbing openly at this, causing Eiki to wince.

"If it can neutralize your magical powers, maybe that's how it managed to take down Yukari," I point out. That causes people to pause. "Think about it. By Miss Suika's suggestion, Yukari had gone to her room in order to do something about this storm and salvage the weekend. How much concentration would that have required?"

"A lot," Suika says around a mouthful of wine. "Yukari can do a lot, but the flashier stuff she needs to concentrate on. I'll bet she was trying to do something about the roads, too."

"In other words, she might not have noticed when something sneaked up on her, and neutralized her powers," I point out, thinking rapidly. "Something that can neutralize powerful magic, and move in absolute stealth... I don't suppose that sounds familiar to any of you?"

The guests look at each other and shake their heads. Drat.

"So what does this gain us, Alfred?" Yumeko asks me, curious about my train of thought. "And why didn't it neutralize our powers before now?" I take a deep breath to buy some time before speaking again.

"I'm not sure. Maybe Yukari was considered the most dangerous target and had to be dealt with first? Maybe it needed some time to warm up? Some... food to energize itself? But think about this: we're all in here, and it hasn't attacked us yet, even though you're all powerless."

There's a moment of silence as everyone listens to the storm. There are no inhuman grunts in the halls, no pounding at the doors. No sign that anything is wrong, really, aside from the two crime scenes.

"...You're implying that this entity isn't all that strong, physically," Kasen realizes. "What you're saying is that it's acting like this because it has to. Because it doesn't have the physical power to overwhelm us."

"That's my thought, otherwise it would have neutralized your abilities and started stalking us through the halls," I nod in agreement. "I think this thing is like an assassin. It moves quietly, takes away any magical abilities, and then strikes with just enough power to overwhelm... well, someone like a de-powered Yukari or Hatate. Maybe enough to match one of us. Or even two of us, unarmed. But all of us?" I shake my head. "Somehow, I don't think so. Otherwise, we'd have company by now."

There's moment of silence as everyone mulls this over.

"What if you're wrong?" Hina asks quietly. "Some youkai feed on fear. What if it's just doing this to feed in another way? Or what if it's just... digesting right now? It could come for us at any second!"

Eiki swallows, and Lyrica starts to weep in Iku's arms. Suika guzzles down some more alcohol. As for myself, I just shrug. "Then we can't sustain it. If we act like it wishes, we've already lost. We have to force ourselves to not be afraid, and starve our ravenous friend. After all, it most certainly did NOT receive an invitation." There's some laughter at this. Good, this is raising their spirits. I just wish that I was as calm as I looked.

"You're making a lot of guesses here," Iku notes, rocking Lyrica. "What if you're wrong? This might not be a youkai, it could be some sort of magician, or an assassin, with certain magical abilities."

"There's not enough to go on," I admit, "I'm just making general assumptions based on what little we know. And if it isn't a fear-consuming youkai, that just reinforces my original idea. But if I may suggest a course of action?" Several people nod at me, and I continue. "I say we wait out whoever, or whatever, this is. We get some supplies and barricade ourselves in here."

Eiki takes a deep breath and nods. "I see what you mean. This place only has a few entrances, after all, and we can seal them with furniture."

"Exactly," I say with a nod, the idea coming together in my head. "We head out and get some beds, then bring them down here. They can be spaced out, but above all, NOBODY SLEEPS ALONE." I ponder some more. "And we should take turns keeping watch, so at least two people are awake at all times. It might not be a bad idea for us to send a team of people out into the mansion to search for clues, for that matter."

Yumeko nods. "That team can also be the one that gathers resources. Beds, food, water, that sort of thing."

"And weapons," Parsee puts in, nodding at the fire poker on the floor. "That thing, knives, fire axes... anything we can use to defend ourselves. Humans have hunted youkai with pointy sticks since time immemorial. No reason we can't do the same." Yumeko nods and picks up the poker for herself.

"What if we have to go to the bathroom?" Lyrica asks quietly, looking up with a blush.

I hesitate. "Well... either we can escort people to the washroom via the aforementioned teams, or we can bring some bottles back, and accept that things might get a tad less... private... than would normally be the case." There's some embarrassed coughing at this. "Regardless! The search team seems like a good idea. I recommend that we send no less than four people out at a time, who are to remain TOGETHER, and OBSERVANT." I emphasize the two words, remembering the fate of poor Hatate.

"Now there's a good man!" Suika says jovially, her cheeks flushed with alcohol. "Alfredo! The good man with the good plan! Great plan, in fact! Atta boy, Alfonso!" The Oni starts laughing, and I really don't know how to react. But then, I suppose that all of us deal with stress in different ways. Suika's is to drink.

"Then four of us will head out to search and scavenge," Eiki says with a nod. "The other four will remain here and be vigilant. We'll settle in and wait out the storm. When it's over, and when it's daylight, we'll get out of here and head to civilization." She nods, satisfied with this plan.

"Should we all head out together?" Iku suggests, "You know, to gather supplies. Safety in numbers, and all that."

"That might make things a little cramped, and I for one would like some people to remain behind and make sure that nothing slips inside our little sanctuary," Yumeko muses, "But it's something to think about. Anyway, let's get this place secured before we go looking around. Then we can worry about gathering supplies." There are some nods at this, and the nine of us begin moving shelves around to block the entrances.

Outside our little bastion of safety, the halls suddenly seem like a forbidding wilderness, filled to the brim with death. Death we will have to brave.

What the hell is going on?


Vote for ONE woman to talk to. I will tabulate the votes, and the THREE guests with the most amount of votes will win. These are the ones that Alfred will speak to next update as they fortify the lounge. Also, feel free to continue your discussions on how to get through this; I'll integrate what I can into the story.
No. 52349
[x] Parsee.
No. 52350
[x] Eiki
No. 52351
[x] Eiki
No. 52352
[x] Parsee.
No. 52353
>I'll integrate what I can into the story.
You mean use against us?

[x] Suika
No. 52354
[X] Parsee
What if the deads are now - flying - zombies, roaming free in the mansion?
(That'll explain the absence of corpse :GENIUS: )
No. 52355
No. 52356
[X] Yumeko.

Aside from Yumeko, who we've seen knows her way around a blade, who else here can physically fight? Both the search party an the home base should have at least one person who can.

Also, if Alfred has a spare cellphone he should give one to the search party and make sure everyone knows how to use it. If there's no spare, give the search party his phone and tell someone how to call the mansion's landline.
No. 52357
In the middle of a huge-ass storm, walkie talkie > cellphone.
But I though that nowadays, every staff members of any kind of guest house have some kind of communicator on him and others in the staff room, no?
No. 52359
[X] Yumeko.

Maid talking gaems
No. 52360
[X] Eiki
No. 52363
[X] Parsee

Something's going to go wrong, I just know it! Mind you what we're doing is still smarter than the majority of horror movie protagonists.
No. 52365

Poor girl needs some comfort.
No. 52366
[X] Yumeko
No. 52367
[X] Yumeko
She somehow is the only one who can still fight without her powers.
No. 52369
[x] Eiki

She's been pretty level-headed throughout this, she's my first choice.
No. 52370
Well since Hatate is dead, I'll toss in my vote for [x]Iku because she needs more love.
No. 52374
[X] Iku

She's been acting rather level-headed, and helping Lyrica. She might be able to help with keeping everyone calm through this.
No. 52375
[X] Yumeko
We have to keep acting like this until all of our hypothesis are proven wrong. And if someone needs to go out, they have to be groups of people who have nothing in common, I still think there's an insider.
No. 52377
[X] Parsee
No. 52382
[X] Kasen

She deserves at least a chance to not be murdered. I am of course assuming that things will go horribly wrong for the scouting group.

The ones that win the vote are staying with us in the lounge right?
No. 52383
[X] Lyrica

TIDE PISS GO!!! Seriously, no votes for the poltergeist? Absolutely disgusting anon.
No. 52384
[X] Yumeko
No. 52385
[X] Parsee
No. 52386
[x] Hina
No. 52391
[X] Eiki
No. 52394
[X] Iku
No. 52395
[X] Hina

> if Alfred has a spare cellphone
Won't work:
>The weather is playing merry hell with my cellular service.
No. 52396

Yeah, I should have figured that wouldn't work. Still think we should try to find some two-way radios or something.
No. 52400
[X] Lyrica
Oof. I barely even want to vote on this. It's so... I don't even know.
No. 52401
[X] Parsee.
No. 52402
[x] Suika

Poor little Oni.
No. 52408
[x] Eiki

Was going to vote strategically, but it's too close to take the chance.
No. 52409
VOTE CALLED. And >>52408 just barely slipped in.

Final tally:
Parsee- 7
Eiki- 6
Yumeko- 6
Hina- 4
Suika- 2
Iku- 2
Lyrica- 2
Kasen- 1

Update will be later today, with appearances from Parsee, Eiki, and Yumeko. Possibly a brief word with Hina, as well.
No. 52410
File 137461110180.jpg - (160.79KB, 700x949, had the most votes.jpg) [iqdb]

Parsee and I grab a shelf and begin to push it over one of the doorways to the lounge. "Huh, used to be I could handle something like this no problem," the youkai woman grunts, struggling with weight. "So this is what it's like to be human, huh?"

"It's part of the experience here at Pleasant Meadows," I shoot back, straining with the damned thing. "Come for the food and amenities, get the full human experience, and even be stalked by a mysterious killer! Recommend us to your friends!"

Parsee laughs at this. "Heh. This is nothing. You should see festival week at the underground city. Now THAT'S terrifying!"

"Underground city?" I ask, panting for breath.

"I live in old hell," Parsee grunts as we finally move the shelf into place and go for a couch. "Lovely place, home to all sorts of youkai who were forced underground because all of the youkai on the surface didn't like us for various asinine reasons."

"It certainly couldn't be because of your silver tongue," I quip, receiving a middle finger in return.

"Swivel on it, Westcastle," Parsee says with a smirk, then raises an eyebrow. "Or do you enjoy that sort of thing~?" she finishes in a sing-song voice.

"And deprive you of your favorite pastime? Perish the thought, Parsee!" I stretch as we finish settling the couch into place. "I have to admit, you're taking this rather well."

Parsee shrugs, grimacing. "I can't say I'm feeling calm right now, but panicking won't do anything for us, will it? Anyway, I'm not too far up on the power scale, so maybe losing it didn't bother me as much. Besides, old hell isn't exactly perfectly safe. I'm pretty sure that I can handle myself, if it comes down to it. And if I can't, I'll be sure to go down fighting." Parsee gives me a confident smirk, just slightly offset by the slight panic in her eyes. She's frightened, but controlling it well. "How about you? How are you holding up?"

"Managing," I say simply. "I'm terrified beyond words, but giving in won't do anything for us, now will it? So, I'm just trying to focus on the job at hand, and then the job that comes after that. It gives me something to focus on."

"Well, it's working. You're still snarking with the best of them." Parsee actually looks a bit impressed.

"If I didn't, I think I'd go insane, Parsee," I tell her quietly. The bridge guardian just nods in response.

"Let's remember to get some weapons, okay?" she tells me. "I may not be supernaturally strong right now, but I'm pretty rugged even without my magic, and I know how to fight. Just hand me a knife or two, and I'm all set." I nod in agreement. Parsee looks like she could get in a fight and expect to win.

I would say more, but I notice Eiki struggling to pull a couch into position beside one of the doors, and run over to help her. Parsee goes to work making sure that our barricade is intact.

"Thank you, Alfred." Eiki says gratefully as I help her maneuver the couch around. "I'm putting this couch here because it's near the door into the main hallway. It'll be easy for us to barricade once the gathering team comes back." I nod silently, just looking at the slender woman. She notices my attention and blushes a little bit. "What is it? Why are you staring at me like that?"

"Are you all right?" I ask quietly.

She blinks at the question, and I take a moment to take her in. Back a little too straight, eyes a little too wide, and face visibly drawn. Her hands keep bunching into white-knuckled fists. "I'm fine, of course!" Eiki protests, "What kind of question is that?"

I gently set a hand on her shoulder, causing the mighty judge of the dead to startle a little bit. "Are you all right, Eiki?" I ask again, staring her directly in the eyes.

Eiki stares back at me for a moment before averting her gaze. "...No," she admits, "I'm not. For many reasons. I was probably the most powerful person here at the start of the night. More powerful than Yukari, certainly. And now I'm suddenly all but helpless and terrified, when the situation demands, more than ever, that I be strong!" She clenches her teeth in frustration. "The worst part? There have been murders here. People robbed of their lives in some manner of sick game, and yet, do I seek justice? No. I look to my own survival." Eiki shakes her head in frustration. "What kind of celestial official am I supposed to be?!"

"A rational one," I tell her quietly. "We are all in a very bad situation here, Eiki. There is little that we can do. Wanting to survive through it isn't terrible, it's completely natural and understandable. Besides which, you're not used to this, are you? Feeling so... mortal?"

Eiki slumps a little bit. "No," she admits. "And I'm feeling vulnerable. It isn't a good feeling. I'm just so used to having all of this power at my disposal, and now? I guess I could take it as a learning experience, if the stakes weren't so blasted high!" She sighs.

"You said that you were looking to your own survival, Eiki," I say slowly. "Tell me, even like this, if someone was in danger, would you rush to help them?"

"Of course!" Eiki says at once. "I might be frightened, but that's no reason to submit to it!"

I nod, smiling. "So it's not your own survival you worry about. It's everyone's. And that's a good thing. As is acknowledging your fear, but not surrendering to it."

Eiki stares at me for a moment, before a smile crosses her features. "Speaking from personal experience, are you?"

"You mean my present experiences? Hell yes." I sigh. "Not really your fantasy come true, is it?" I ask, remembering our first conversation.

Eiki laughs a bit at this. "No. Not enough dancing men, and far too much death and terror. But thank you for your words." She glances up at me. "You've stopped calling everyone 'Miss' and 'Madam,' I've noticed."

I blink in surprise. "...I suppose I have. Maybe I feel that this isn't the time to stand on formality."

"Which it it truly isn't," Eiki agrees, sitting down. She takes a deep breath, already looking a bit braver, and gives me a courageous smile. "Thank you, Alfred. I think I'll be fine now." I smile back and head over to where I notice Yumeko carefully writing a list.

On my way, I stop by Hina and give her a warm smile. "Chin up, Hina. If you let the fear claim you, whoever this is has won. Let's show them some courage, eh?"

Hina smiles back, looking relieved. "Okay! I'll try, Alfred." With another nod, I walk over to Yumeko.

The maid glances up as I walk over to her. "Looks like we've got this place well-fortified," she notes.

I glance around and nod. The doors out, save for one, have been thoroughly barricaded. A few pieces of furniture are to the sides of the room, giving people a place to sit well away from any points of entry. "So much for a vacation, huh?" I say to her.

Yumeko snorts. "Just my luck. I need to go back to work to relax." We share a short laugh at this. Then Yumeko shakes her head. "None of this makes sense. This place doesn't have a history of haunting or unusual phenomena, does it?"

"Not so much as a single haunting," I shrug. "The tale of this place is noticeably devoid of mysterious deaths and murders. Until tonight. So no, I don't think your presence awoke any angry spirits or the like."

"If there were such things, I'm certain that Yukari would have noticed," Yumeko muses. "So that implies that whoever is doing this is from Gensokyo, and knows who we are. There's no other reason to attack us, unless they're some form of human monster hunter. And even then, how could they have moved so quickly?"

"Are there any back in your home who could have done such a thing?" I ask curiously.

Yumeko sighs. "Technically, I'm from Makai, not Gensokyo. But I take your meaning. And, maybe? Some of these girls might have enemies, especially Yukari. But this isn't how things are normally settled. And the humans of Gensokyo generally leave any issues to the local shrine maiden. Long story, don't ask."

"Wouldn't dream of it," I say dryly.

"Anyway, in the end, I have no idea who could be doing this, let alone why." Yumeko stares at the ground in frustration before looking back over at me. "So, how are you holding up, anyway?"

I shrug. "As well as can be expected. You?"

"About the same," she replies. "I'm a little more confident in myself than I suspect some of the others are. Even without my magic, I'm still fairly strong, and confident in my ability to defend myself. Though I'm certainly not going out there alone."

"Please don't," I tell her earnestly. "I don't want to find your blood-soaked headdress alongside yet another pithy message."

Yumeko nods. "And the same goes to you. Anyway, I've been going over some of the things we need if we're going to wind up in here until the storm breaks." She taps her list with a pencil. "We need food, water, beds, and possibly something to use as latrines. I don't think venturing out for a bathroom break would be a good idea."

"There's some antique chamber pots we can dig up out of a closet somewhere," I tell her. "Kind of a shame to use antiques that way, but that's what they're there for. Also, Parsee suggested we find some weapons. Knives, fire axes, that sort of thing."

Yumeko nods and scribbles this down. "All right. Let me know if you can think of anything else. Anyway, when we send a group out there to scavenge, I want you to be part of it. You know where things are, after all. Who do you think should go with you, and who should stay behind? I think we should leave some people behind to keep an eyes on this place, but... what do you think?"

I take a moment to ponder it.

"Also, Eiki suggested that we could split into groups of three and sweep every wing of the mansion rather than trying to wait this out. Do you think that's a better idea? Sorry to ask so much of you, but you do know this place the best."



[ ] Things to collect:
-[ ] Write-in (feel free to elaborate on the above ideas).
[ ] Venture out in a group while some people stay behind.
-[ ] Name the teams (Alfred will be heading out no matter what).


[ ] Split into groups of three and sweep the mansion. Surely you can overwhelm this thing!
-[ ] Specify groups.
No. 52412
[X] Things to collect:
Swords, fireaxes, daggers, maces, any ranged weapons, maybe also some firearms? + Clubs, ropes, grenades (if there are some around), cuisine ustensils (hatchets, knives, frying pans (lol)), some lances/polearms/staffs (Broom = Staff?), any blunt objects (Like, for exemple, er...A CHAIR?).
NO decorative weapons/armor, those shits may look fancy and ominous, but aren't suited for real combat at all.
Walkie-talkies, at least one for each group, good communication is serious matter.
Kevlar armor or any light armor.
Flashlights and at least one crowbar, in case of.
[X] Split into groups of three and sweep the mansion. Surely you can overwhelm this thing!
-Aflred/Yumeko/Parsee --> Two confirmed fighters
-Eiki/Hina/Kasen --> Kasen should have CQC skills
-Lyrica/Iku/Suika --> Suika too, good CQC skills
And at least one 'calm' person per group.
No. 52417
>Surely you can overwhelm this thing!
Translation: Doomed to fail miserably; which two characters don't you want to send to the chopping block?

[X] Venture out in a group while some people stay behind.
-Team A: Alf, Parsee, Suika, Kasen.
-Team B: Shiki, Yumeko, Hina, Lyrica.

Team A's going out, so everyone on it (bar Alf) needs to be capable in a fight, but Team B can't go unguarded. Parsee asked for the weapon, so she's going out to grab the knife, and while Kasen and Suika can fight, they'll probably be crippled by their newfound weakness, so that leaves Yumeko to play guard duty. Lyrica and Hina are in no condition to go out anyway, and Shiki should hopefully be their voice of reason in case of a panic.

Yes, I'm trying to use logic here to maximize survivors. If I was going by "I like this girl", I'd probably have Yumeko and Hina on Team A.

I am fully aware that someone on Team B is probably going to die anyway, despite my best efforts.
No. 52418
My money is on a member of the team that leaves get to die. If we all choose to cower in there, then we get no clues or someone gets distracted and dies anyway.
No. 52419
[x] Things to collect:
-[ ] Write-in (I'll leave this to the other anons. Treat it as a vote for anything mentioned that isn't obviously bad. No nukes.).
[x] Venture out in a group while some people stay behind.
-[x]Team Asset Acquisition(Alfred, Lyrica, Hina, Parsee, Shiki, Kasen, Suika, Yumeko, Iku).
-[x]Team Murder Bait(Yukari's hat, Hatate's hat)
No. 52422
Just realized I forgot about Iku. Yeah, I say put her on Team B.
No. 52428
I wish I had your optimism and ability to rationalize/blow stuff off too.
No. 52429
[X] Things to collect:
Food (non-perishables and such), Water (large cartons). Carry them in large plastic containers/eskies/boxes or bags if possible, we need to make sure they don’t spill/spoil/get eaten by rats.
Weapons (doesn't matter what, could be knives and forks from the kitchen, fire axes, wine bottles, a broken broom stick, maybe an antique rifle or any weapons of war that could be found hanging on a mantelpiece, knitting needles, golf clubs and other long sporting equipment are fine as well)
Tools (Wrenches, crowbars are good as improvised weapons as well as repairing/barricading if need be)
Flashlights (self-powered ones?), spare batteries, walkie-talkies/two-way radios (doubt you’ll find some in a mansion, but hey, maybe?)
Rope, duct tape, first aid kit, bandages, fire extinguisher
Sleeping bags/blankets/bedsheets (two can be used as an improvised sleeping bag, pillows (not sure if we’ll have the time and energy to drag actual beds away, but if any are nearby, then sure)
A whistle (to signal for help?)
Towels, wet wipes, tissues, toilet paper, miscellaneous toiletries (for the females if they need them), urns/empty bottles/chamber pots (to be used as toilets), garbage bags (sanitation is important)
Spare clothing/underwear, improvised protective gear (things like gardening gloves, football helmets and sheets of metal could be used to protect parts of the body if fastened properly, heck you could use a pot lid as a shield/Frisbee throwing weapon)
Light armor (would be great, but I just kind of doubt we’ll find Kevlar and chainmail around here)
-[X] Draw a map for the designated leader of team B (A members shouldn’t be away from us)
-[X] On the trip (or before if we're lucky) we should acquire a trolley like the ones they use to deliver food in restaurants to put more things in
-[X] If we have any sinks or bathtubs that are nearby we can plug them and fill them with water as an emergency source

[X] Venture out in a group while some people stay behind.
-Team A: Alf, Parsee, Suika, Kasen.
-Team B: Shiki, Yumeko, Hina, Lyrica.

And that's my list! I'm aware that we couldn't possibly carry (or even find) all of this, but I doubt we'll get everything that quickly anyway. I just hope that what I’ve put down is good enough. I suppose this is mostly moot if we end up splitting up to sweep for the murderer, but frankly, that doesn't seem like the greatest idea if they can pick the time and place to strike.
No. 52432
File 137467269246.png - (31.59KB, 120x120, classic misdirection.png) [iqdb]
>"Please don't," I tell her earnestly. "I don't want to find your blood-soaked headdress alongside yet another pithy message."

I GOT IT! Tell them all to destroy their headwear and they won't get killed.
No, wait, they might use other clothes; tell them to get naked!

>Dat Eiki/Yume characterization
I thank the gods that you get a writer-boner for forgotten characters.

Also, I might be changing my mind about the 'culrpit is one of us' thing. I mean it makes sense (a murder mystery can't use a chinaman as culprit-Higurashi, Umineko and Ten Little Niggers used that and the story is kind of based around them) but I think Keymaster likes these Touhous too much. A copy gone rogue, or a non-canon (Mitori) are more likely.
No. 52440
>>52417 and >>52429 are the two votes in common, at least in terms of what plan to use and who to send out, so I'll be going with this. Vote called, then.
No. 52442
File 137469159993.jpg - (184.09KB, 600x600, 21c576504c060dfe67693ead0de7bed647701982.jpg) [iqdb]
What could follow them from Gensokyo without their knowledge? What could kill and eat a youkai without so much as a sound?


The only sticking point is this: What could nullify the powers of some of Gensokyo's strongest youkai?

Yukari, right? What if whatever ate her, gained her powers?
No. 52443
Uh, that's starting to sound like TakerFox's story at ff.net. I don't know if I like that.

Besides, it's been already established the Yukari in Keymaster's universe doesn't possess such amount of omnipotence to simply "nullify other people's powers" like that.
No. 52445
Not so much, given that the original S. Youkai don't really eat them, just snuff out the life, and Rin don't do it either, or at least, no with this much blood left.
No. 52446
But maybe it's not a ability, but some kind of device, like Yuuka's Mykr's Siren in IM?
+A big ass storm with thick, unending rain? IT'S A BLOODY MORIYA SHRINE CONSPIRACY!
No. 52447

I'm not going to ask why you know that.

It all depends on the nature of the killer. If it is from Gensokyo, it's probably in-universe. If it isn't, literally anything could be game and we're grasping at straws.
No. 52448
"I'm not going to ask why you know that. "
I fail greatly to see how can the website which host a story influences said story, or have anything to do with it, those kind of remarks are just dumb.
But if the killer isn't from Gensokyo, then shit just hit the fan at supersonic speed.
No. 52449
File 13746965874.jpg - (163.39KB, 850x752, also nice legs.jpg) [iqdb]
"We should really fortify here," I say finally. "Going looking for the individual behind this just smacks of trouble. Too many ways for us to be ambushed. No, let's stick with our original plan: gather supplies, wait this thing out, and then get the hell out of here." I look out the window. Night has fallen at this point, and the bolts of lightning do nothing to dispel the darkness. If anything, they just make the blackness out there more profound.

"...You're probably right," Yumeko admits with a sigh. "I hate it, though. I don't like being forced to hide like this. But without my powers, what else can I do?"

"Welcome to the world of humanity," I tell her without malice. "Anyway, I've been thinking. I'll take Parsee with me, since she looks like a caged animal right now. What about Kasen and Suika? How well can they fight?"

"I don't know them well, but I believe that they're rather skilled," Yumeko says thoughtfully. "And even without her Oni strength, Suika still looks fairly wiry."

"More importantly, I'd like to get her away from the alcohol for a while," I explain, "Some activity would do her good. Meanwhile, I'd like the rest of you to stay behind. Iku, Lyrica, and Hina look ready to crack, and might panic out there in the halls."

Yumeko nods in agreement. "I understand. Leave it to Eiki and I to keep watch over this place. As for supplies, there's any number of things we could get. Here," She hands me a list with a rather impressive number of supplies written on it. "Don't try to get everything, there are priorities. The beds are a good idea. Also, the food and water is a must. Those chamberpots you mentioned are also a good idea, and we should probably have some weapons, as well."

"There should be a survival kit somewhere," I muse, looking things over. "That would give us some tools, as well as some two-way radios, which would make it easy to communicate with each other."

"You know this place better than us," Yumeko says with a shrug. "Anyway, want to get going?" I nod, and start gathering my team.

A few minutes later, they are gathered in front of me. Parsee, looking fierce and angry. Kasen looking cool and determined. Suika, looking... drunk.

"All right," I say calmly, "Let's get the essentials first. I suggest we go to the kitchen. We can get our food and water there, along with some knives to use as weapons. Just behind the kitchen are the servants' quarters. There should be some emergency survival gear in there, including a fire axe. Once we have all of that, we can make a stop here, and then make a trip to the east wing to get some bedding and commodes. Who knows? We might even get lucky and find a clue on our way."

"That would be welcome," Kasen says grimly. "I, for one, am not amused by the idea of sitting around waiting."

"Me neither," Parsee grumbles. "I'd rather head out with an axe and kick the ass of whatever's messing with us like this."

"I didn't say I didn't agree with this course of action," Kasen elaborates, "It is the best way to go about things, and helps ensure our survival. That's especially important under the circumstances." She rubs her bandaged arm self-consciously. "I just don't like it."

Parsee rolls her eyes. "Yeah, yeah, we all heard you and understood. You don't need to lecture us about the right thing to do, for the gods' sake." Kasen frowns, looking slightly affronted, and is about to respond when Suika flings an arm about either one of their necks.

"Heeeeyyyy," the drunk Oni drawls, "No fighting, 'kay? We're alllll buddies here, riiight?" She giggles hazily.

"...I came here to get AWAY from Oni, and this is what I get?" Parsee mutters to herself.

"Maybe it's karma," Kasen comments idly, earning her a glare from the bridge guardian. Suika just giggles some more, swaying on her feet.

Eiki gives me a worried look. "Good luck," she says seriously.

I nod back. "Thank you." Turning around, I place my hand on the door. After a moment's hesitation, I turn the knob and fling the door open, causing everyone to tense up around me.

Nothing there.

That's a good start, I'd wager.

Carefully, Parsee and I make our way out first, looking down the hallway in both directions. Nothing. Kasen and Suika follow, the door closing behind them. The sounds of furniture being moved to block it are very clear. For the moment, at least, we're blocked out. Time to get started.


Funny. The house seems a lot larger now. I mean, I'd become used to its size over time, to the point that I'd actually started to regard it as being rather small for a mansion. But now? Somehow, the hall seems bigger, longer. The shadows seem deeper, and I'd almost swear that several of the lights are dimmer than they should be. Which is all in my mind, of course, but I still can't shake the impression.

Parsee gently sets her hand on my shoulder, and I nearly jump out of my skin. "Easy," she murmurs quietly. "Just lead the way." I nod tightly and start forward.

It's about twenty paces from where we stand to the doors leading to the kitchen. Just twenty paces. Absolutely nothing. Not even something worth mentioning. Just twenty paces, accompanied by almost constant thunder from outside, the distinct feeling that something is watching me, and the knowledge that there is something within this house with murder on its mind.

The worst part? Something probably is watching us right this second. From the shadows, perhaps? Around the corner? Or maybe it's just listening to us, gauging our position by our footsteps alone...

"I think I'm going mad," I say quietly as we stand outside the doors to the dining room.

"Sounds like you have experience with that," Parsee quips.

"Miss Mizuhashi, please," Kasen says sternly, "Anyone in that situation would have their faculties sorely tested. Especially Alfred, who has had no prior-"

"It was a JOKE for fuck's sake," Parsee groans, rolling her eyes, "You know, a 'joke?' Something used to lighten the mood? Or do you have your head so far up your ass that you don't care about humor anymore?" Kasen's face darkens, and she turns to say something to Parsee when Suika slaps them both on the ass.

Yes, I just saw that.

Both girls yelp in surprise, and Suika starts laughing her drunken head off. "C'mooooooon!" The littlest lush wheedles, "Why are we all fightin' right now, eh? We gotta, we gotta go get some FOOD, right! And some other stuff, that I don't care about much."

"Due to its low alcohol content?" I suggest.

"'Zactly," Suika says with a grin, eyes swimming hazily. "Now, c'mon! Open that there door!" Kasen and Parsee staring at her in shock, Suika gestures to the doors to the dining room. She does not move to open them herself. Instead the Oni simply gazes up at me expectantly.

Gazes with frightened, desperate eyes.

With a sigh, I approach the doors and throw them wide. Revealing nothing.

No slavering monster. No assassin clad in black. No blood-soaked, cackling maniac. Just a fine dining room, a little brighter than the rest of the house. With an irritable grunt, I make my way across the room towards the kitchen, throwing that door open as well. A cursory glance shows nothing. A follow-up inspection, with all of us inside the kitchen, shows nothing as well.

"Whoever this is is trying to make me paranoid," I mutter, "And he's succeeding."

"I can't blame you," Kasen says, opening cupboards at random in her search for food. I go over to help her locate non-perishable items. "This whole situation was clearly set up to make us as afraid as possible."

"But who set it up? And why? When? How?" I shake my head irritably as I start stuffing sacks full of food. Dry stuff mainly, that doesn't require any cooking. Setting up a hot-plate might be a little much.

"Good question," Parsee comments, looking over a large butcher knife approvingly. She slips it into her belt and looks at another. "We're all running scared with no powers, and this storm can't be a coincidence."

"Course not," Suika mutters, staring into the fridge with a grouchy expression. "None of the good stuff in here... anyway, we got someone that can control the weather, shut down magical powers, and nab people without anyone noticing. Someone set us up but good." She shakes her head in irritation. "Hey, Alfie! Where's the good stuff, huh?"

"In the basement," I say blandly.

Suika stares back at me. "I'll be fine," she says quietly, pulling out bottles of water.

"This... does feel like a setup," Kasen notes, sounding hesitant. "I mean, all of us sealed in the house, helpless? But I really can't see Yukari doing this sort of thing. She kept making cracks about getting me to lighten up, and really sounded excited about it."

"And if she wanted to kill somebody, or somebodies, this is all a little too elaborate for her," I finish.

Kasen nods. "She has far more convenient means available to her."

Suika staggers over. "Y'know what I hate most? 'Side from not bein' drunk enough?" She looks up at us, trembling ever so slightly. "That feeling of being watched."

I shudder a little bit. "Tell me about it."

"I feel it too," Kasen agrees.

"Same here," Parsee agrees, her belt now decorated with a wide array of pointed implements. "I bet everyone does. And it probably ISN'T just our imagination." There's a moment of silence as we contemplate this fact.

I'm about to suggest we step over to the servants' quarters when I am interrupted by the sound of breaking glass in the distance.

Followed by feminine screams.

[ ] React.
No. 52450
[x] Announce that you're coming, get what you've gathered, and march as a group to the screaming.
No. 52451
[X] Don't panic nor genuflect, might be a trap, still go back to the other with haste, in case of it is not.
No. 52452
[x] Announce that you're coming, get what you've gathered, and march as a group to the screaming.

Emphasis on "as a group". Hold hands or something.
No. 52453
[x] Calm the girls in your group
-[x] Grab whatever you got and return to the main group quickly, but orderly.
No. 52454
[x] block the door with yourself before someone goes alone.
-[x] Quickly but orderly return to base.
No. 52455
[x] Scream!
[x] Calm down, and the girls in your group
-[x] Quickly but orderly return to base.
-()with someone watching your backs at all times

I'm loving this, Silent Hill 2 music is the icing on the cake.
No. 52456
[x] Calm the girls in your group
-[x] Grab whatever you got and return to the main group quickly, but orderly.
No. 52479
[x] Calm the girls in your group
-[x] Grab whatever you got and return to the main group quickly, but orderly.
No. 52492
[x] Calm the girls in your group
-[x] Grab whatever you got and return to the main group quickly, but orderly. Everyone needs to hold the hand of the one behind them.

Make sure that everyone holds the hand of the one behind them as so that it gets noticed if someone gets dragged away. I suspect that the murderer wants to use this chaos to just kidnap and kill someone of the current group.
No. 52493
So there's more than one killer? Interesting twist.
No. 52494
Okay, calling the voting for calmly but quickly investigating just what the hell is going on this time. Update later.
No. 52496
File 137478423450.png - (415.91KB, 800x960, the next to fall.png) [iqdb]

There is a moment of shock as the four of us gape at each other. Then rationality takes over. "We have to hurry," I tell the others. Wordlessly, Parsee hands each of us a knife. Suika slings the bags of food and drink over her shoulders, while Kasen is already heading towards the door.

"Wait!" I call out to the hermit, "We need to stay together, just in case!"

Kasen holds a hand out to me. "Then grab on and let's hurry!" I nod, and quickly take her unbandaged hand in my own. Parsee clamps a strong hand on my shoulder, knife at the ready, while a pale and decidedly more sober-looking Suika brings up the rear, hand slipped into Parsee's belt.

Quickly, at the pace of a fast walk, we make our way back towards the lounge. Through the dining room we go, hearing the sound of arguing from down the hall Good; at least someone is still all right. But I have a sick suspicion that our ranks have just been diminished by one more.

Out the door and up the hall we go, and I see the group of women gathered outside of the lounge door. Yumeko and Eiki are arguing with each other in hushed tones, both looking rather jarred. Hina is sitting on the floor across the hall, hands over her face, rocking back and forth. Lyrica is right next to her, whispering calming words.

There is no sign of Iku.

Dammit, no!

I break into a run, the others right behind me. No, running by my side. Eiki and Yumeko hear us coming and look up, their faces pale and grim. Lyrica glances up as well, but is much more focused on tending to Hina.

I come to a stop in front of the maid and judge. "What happened?" I ask breathlessly. Wordlessly, they point to the door to the lounge, and I peek inside.

The window is shattered. Glass litters the ground in front of it, and the rain pours in freely, staining the carpet. There is no sign of Iku, not even of bit of cloth on the remaining shards of glass in the window frame.

"It's all my fault..." Hina whispers quietly, voice trembling. "Iku... it's all my fault."

"Don't say that," Lyrica says soothingly, giving the misfortune goddess a hug.

"But it's true... it's true..." Hina starts shuddering and hunches up tighter, regardless of Lyrica's attempts to soothe her.

Eiki sighs, giving Hina a pitying look. "We were waiting for your return," she explains, "When Hina heard something out in the hall. She even pressed her ear against the door and insisted that there was something moving out there, something stalking us."

"I didn't hear anything, but that didn't mean that Hina was wrong," Yumeko says, looking down at the ground. "I was... agitated. I wanted to know what we were dealing with. I still do! So I suggested unbarring the door and just taking a peek out into the hallway. Just to see if there was actually something there. Hell, for all we knew, one of you needed some help!"

"And I agreed with Yumeko," Eiki sighs. "Hina was convinced that there was something out here, so Lyrica and I grabbed on to Yumeko's body while she peeked out into the hallway."

"I saw nothing," Yumeko continues. "So, we stepped out into the hallway and looked both directions. Nothing."

Lyrica takes up the story now. "Then there was this huge crash behind us. I saw a bit of movement in the corner of my eye, and when I turned around..." she gestures to the lounge helplessly. "...Hina was just frozen, too scared to turn around. The window was like that. It must have moved so fast..." Lyrica shakes her head weakly.

Hina gazes up at me, her face streaked with tears and wracked with guilt. "I'm sorry," she says quietly, "It's my fault."

For a moment, we can think of nothing to say.

Iku. I barely had a chance to speak to her. So beautiful, and classy as all hell. I wonder, what would it have been like to dance with her? What stories did she have to tell of the heavens? Would she have liked my artwork? Now, the chance to find out was denied to me for all time.

Somehow, that thought made me extremely angry.


"This isn't working," Yumeko says finally. "Barricading ourselves in like that only gives whatever this thing is more time to figure out ways to lure us out. What next? It starts a fire and drives us out of a room?"

"What about going somewhere upstairs?" Lyrica suggests, "It might have a hard time tearing through a window above the ground floor."

"What if it can fly?" Suika asks, her face very pale. "Then it'd just punch through a window regardless."

"Even so, maybe we can still wait this thing out somewhere safer," Lyrica insists. "There's other rooms here, right? Maybe we can go there, and stick to the main plan."

"Or perhaps we should actively try to hunt this... being down," Eiki presses. "We divide into groups of four and sweep the mansion. Since it's been outside, it must be damp now. We can figure out where it came in, and where it went. Maybe we can corner it somewhere."

"But if can move so quickly..." I begin.

"Why hasn't it used that speed before?" Eiki notes. "Clearly, it has the strength to drag Iku through a window and the speed to do it in a heartbeat. Wouldn't we be easy pickings for such a creature? So why isn't it coming after us? Why did it not simply break into the lounge while we were separated? Or assault the four of you? With this supposed speed and strength, it surely could have done great damage in an ambush."

I nod slowly. Some things were not adding up here. I could feel it on the edge of my mind.

"Perhaps we should actually start investigating the murder scenes?" Kasen suggests. "We didn't really look at any of them terribly closely. If we take the time to go over them with a proverbial fine-toothed comb, we may yet find something."

"...That means being close to all of that blood," Hina says weakly from the floor, "Or the rain."

Kasen shrugs. "Yes, but it might be worth it to investigate further."

"We could always run," Parsee says flatly. "Fuck this thing and fuck its stupid game. I say we just get some rain gear on and run like hell. Head through the woods, and get out of here until we reach civilization again. Or at least get far enough that our powers start working again."

I wince, listening to the storm raging outside. "A tad risky, especially given that our foe might be stalking out there, Parsee," I tell her.

"What other option do we have?" Parsee snorts, "Wait in here until it gets us? We're still being stalked right at this very moment, Alfred."

"Somehow, I feel that in here is still better than out there," Eiki muses, listening to the thunder and lightning.

I frown, thinking. We have some options. But what to do?

[ ] Barricade yourself. The plan is sound, so stick to it.
-[ ] (Barricade yourself here)
[ ] Enough waiting for it to come to us! Form a search party!
-[ ] (Search where, how many groups, composition, etc.)
[ ] Wait, we need more information. Let's examine the murder sites.
-[ ] (This room)
[ ] Screw it. We're outta here!


[ ] Choose one guest to talk to while thinking.


Fun fact: did you know that oarfish is inedible to humans? The things you learn!
No. 52497
[x] Wait, we need more information. Let's examine the murder sites.
-[x] The first murder scene

[x] Choose one guest to talk to while thinking.
-[x] Eiki

Running like hell is just stupid. A search party would not bring that many results because you do not know what to search for and how.
Being passive is not going to work out in the long run. What is needed are informations and clues on what the hell is going on. There has never been a perfect murder and there are always some clues left.

Informations are needed now. Eiki was always a good support and has the know how due to her job as a judge.
No. 52498
[X] Wait, we need more information. Let's examine the murder sites.
-[X] In order, first, Yukari's room.
+No scream, no reaction whatsoever from Iku when she was kidnapped through the window? Suspicious.
No. 52500
[X] Choose one guest to talk to while thinking. --> Eiki, eventually get others to comfort Hina.
No. 52502
This is at least partly because I forgot about Iku when I made this post: >>52417, isn't it? Dammit, sorry guys, my bad.

[X] Wait, we need more information. Let's examine the murder sites.
-[X] The room we're currently in.
-[X] Make sure no one is ever out of anyone's eyesight. This can never be stated too much.

This is a murder mystery, and there ain't going to be much solving if we don't eventually go clue-hunting. Of the three crime scenes, the other two could have been tampered with while we weren't looking.

[X] Hina.

She's taking Iku's death the worst, and was always the one closest to breaking down.
No. 52503
[X] Barricade yourself. The plan is sound, so stick to it.
-[X] (Barricade yourself here)
--[X] Talk to Lyrica

Lyrica was almost completely ignored before, let's give her a chance this time.
No. 52504
[X] Wait, we need more information. Let's examine the murder sites.
-[X] Starting with the first one.

[X] Eiki

Sounds like the best option. Running away in this weather is suicide, and barricading isn't working out.
No. 52505
>the other two could have been tampered with while we weren't looking.
This is a good point that you brought up.

I suspect that one of the people here to be the murderer. So I hope that we get a summary of what is found during investigation.
No. 52506
[X] Wait, we need more information. Let's examine the murder sites.
-[X] Starting with the first one.
-[X] From now on, we remain all togheter.

[x] Hina
-[x] If she feeds on misfortune, does that mean there are other who feed on fear? Because this thing is going out of its way to do so.

If there's a culprit between us, we just reduced the suspect list by half; with Hina at the top. (she faked hearing a sound, and then insisted on leaving the safety of the refuge)
No. 52507
[X] Wait, we need more information. Let's examine the murder sites.
-[X] The room we're currently in.
-[X] Make sure no one is ever out of anyone's eyesight. This can never be stated too much.

[X] Eiki.
No. 52508
[x] Wait, we need more information. Let's examine the murder sites.
-[x] The first murder scene

[x] Choose one guest to talk to while thinking.
-[x] Eiki
No. 52513
[x] Wait, we need more information. Let's examine the murder sites.
-[x] The first murder scene

[x] Choose one guest to talk to while thinking.
-[x] Eiki
No. 52514
[X] Wait, we need more information. Let's examine the murder sites.
-[X] The room we're currently in.
-[X] Make sure no one is ever out of anyone's eyesight. This can never be stated too much.

No. 52515
it's more like a horror movie, in murder mysteries, the muderer is human, whatever this is... is definitely not human.
No. 52516
[x] Wait, we need more information. Let's examine the murder sites.
-[x] Right here
-[x] The second murder scene
-[x] Didn't Hatate have a cell phone?

[x] Choose one guest to talk to while thinking.
-[x] Eiki
No. 52518
[X] Wait, we need more information. Let's examine the murder sites.
-[X] Starting with the first one.

[X] Eiki

Running away is not an option, but we can't stay idle. There's so much that we don't know, and the questions keep on piling up.

I wouldn't too sure about dismissing that possibility.
No. 52520
Vote called. You will be conducting a survey of the murder scenes, starting with Yukari's room. But first: some Eiki.
No. 52524
File 137487174225.jpg - (425.98KB, 650x866, carries a heavy burden.jpg) [iqdb]

As the others argue, I walk down the hall a little way while making sure not to let the others out of my sight. Or, to be more precise, to not let myself out of the others' sight. I lean against a wall and slump a little bit, shaking my head.

First Yukari. Then Hatate. And now Iku. Why was this happening? What on earth did those people do to deserve this kind of treatment?

And then there was the fact that so little was adding up. No, this whole situation was terribly suspicious, and that had nothing to do with the pools of blood. Eiki was right, why did this... thing not simply assault all of us at once? Was it physically incapable? Or did it simply enjoy causing so much fear? And why was it alone capable of such feats while everyone else had been effectively neutralized?

"Lost in thought?" A voice asks me. I start a bit, and look up to see Eiki watching me.

"Was, yes. Thank you for finding me." I give her a warm smile. Got to keep spirits up, after all.

Eiki returns my smile and leans against the wall beside me. "So, what do think?" she asks.

"That this whole situation is a nightmare, that the lounge will have to be repaired, that the carpet will have to be replaced, and that we should thoroughly search the scenes of the crimes for evidence," I reply. "There may be something that we missed."

Eiki nods. "I concur. I was thinking that we should start from the beginning. In other words, go to Yukari's room first. Honestly, we were all a little too rattled to give it a careful going-over the first time around. As you said, something might have been missed."

I'm silent, just staring at the ceiling. Beyond it, I fancy that I can see the raindrops falling towards the house, landing on the rooftop and sliding down until they reach the gutters. It's a relaxing mental image, one that I find helps to calm me. I honestly wish that I were out boating. I like being on water; it's relaxing, and helps me fall into a meditative state, which I find helps me while I'm painting. Alas, the storm prevents me from indulging in this pleasure of mine. How damned inconsiderate of it.

"What's it like, judging the souls of the dead?" I ask suddenly. I am more than a little curious, and a bit of conversation would be welcome. It would be a few precious moments free of this situation, before I had to be dragged back into it.

Eiki thinks for a moment. "It's a lot of work," she says finally. "Every day, a large number of souls are brought before me, and I must judge their cases individually. I don't mind, really; it's an essential task, and I take pride in my work. And really, most of the souls are fine. They've had a long, hard life, and are ready to take their eternal rest." Eiki sighs unhappily, her eyes looking haunted. "It's the damned souls that truly bother me."

"The deeds they've performed?" I query. "I suppose as judge of the dead, you must consider all of a soul's actions in life."

"The official term for my position in Yama," Eiki notes. "It's easier to say, too, though it does make my full name a bit cumbersome. Eiki Shiki, Yama Xanadu." She chuckles a little bit, then grows solemn. "Seeing the deeds these souls have done is not always easy, but the worst part is how unnecessary they are. It all comes down to basic foolishness. So many of those that I cast down into Hell could have been decent beings under different circumstances. It's just that they chose not to, that they had terrible foresight, that they honestly believed that they could do whatever they wished, and it wouldn't matter." She closes her eyes in frustration.

"It's often a human failing," I note, looking at the ceiling thoughtfully. "Not planning ahead, not thinking about the future."

"If it was just that, it'd be fine," Eiki murmurs, looking at something that only she could see in her mind's eye. "A little foolishness is something that you can learn from. But to deliberately turn your eyes from your own wrongdoings... to refuse to acknowledge that what you are doing is in any way wrong..." Eiki looks up at me. "Do you know what the worst part is? Many of the damned souls, to the very end, don't understand that they did anything wrong. To them, their terrible deeds were completely justified. And so I cast them into hell, while they protest that what they did was right. The murderer, who insists that he was only paying back an insult. The career thief who claimed that he never did any harm, no matter how much pain he caused his victims. The rapist who insisted that he was only claiming what was his." Eiki shakes her head in frustration.

"...What is hell like?" I ask quietly.

Eiki's head whips around and she paralyzes me with her stare. " Never. Ask. That," she tells me gravely. "Hell is just a word. The works of those that describe it are nothing more than poetry. The reality is a horror beyond all description, one that I am forced to gaze at every time I condemn a soul to that fate. The only souls that go there are the truly worthless, the ones who through their sins have proven beyond all doubt that the cosmos is better off without them. It is the dumping ground of the heavens, the trashpile of souls, and the sheer concentrated misery is something that words could never, and should never, describe."

There's a moment of silence as Eiki's words hit home, and the Yama seems to slump after she says her piece. "I send people there who should have known better," she says quietly, "and I hate it every time. That's why I lecture people; to put them on the right path so that they never have to be condemned to it. Every soul lost that way is lost forever; there is no greater tragedy."

I watch the slender woman in silence for a long moment. It must be difficult, having such a lot in life. To condemn people to perdition, knowing that they could have avoided it, and knowing how they could have avoided it. I can't help but respect Eiki that much more, now knowing the burden that she carries.

"What about where you work?" I ask, changing the subject, "Does it appear as a grand, celestial courthouse?"

"It's called Higan, and yes it does," Eiki responds, brightening up. "It's a magnificent construction, with vast gardens and magnificent boulevards. Higan is a center for the celestial bureaucracy, and after work I am able to unwind by visiting restaurants, shops, you name it. There are gardens and parks to lounge in quietly, vast, beautiful fields of flowers, and the view of the vast Sanzu River from one of the peaks is quite breathtaking."

"It does sound lovely," I note, trying to picture it in my head. "I wouldn't mind seeing it one day." I stop at once, realizing the implications of what I just said.

Eiki smirks, not letting it slide. "Well, I'm afraid you'd have to die first, Alfred," she points out.

"...I'll take a rain check then," I decide.

Eiki chuckles. "Well, you'd be out of my jurisdiction, anyway. Though from what I've seen, you needn't fear the inferno." She gives me a warm smile, and I admit, such a statement does feel a bit... reassuring.

Maybe it's the situation. Constant threat of death, and all that.

Eiki sighs. "The only problem I have is with Komachi."

"Komachi..." I muse, remembering. "Your subordinate, correct?"

Eiki's eyebrow twitches. "Yes. A ferryman for dead spirits. And the most unprofessional nitwit that I've ever been forced to deal with!" She huffs a bit in irritation. "I mean, she's so lazy! She'd be one of our best workers if she'd just put a little effort into it! But no, she's always slacking off somewhere, and I have to go get her, and then she'll just put on this shit-eating grin and suggest that we go out for drinks! Except when she's already in a bar, and she tells me to sit down for a drink. All so shamelessly, like she hasn't a care in the world! Honestly!" Eiki pounds a fist against the wall in irritation, and I conclude that this is a long-standing aggravation for her. I also conclude that she's quite attractive when irritated.

"...Do you ever join her for a drink when you find her?" I ask, smiling as I note that the other guests are watching Eiki in fascination.

"...Sometimes," she admits. "But only to lubricate my throat for yet another lecture. Which never works. And then she tells me that I need to go get laid, and forced me on this little excursion." Eiki pauses, feeling the wind go out of her sails. "It hasn't gone the way that I expected," she finishes.

"Nor as I had expected," I sigh. "And here I had hoped to have an opportunity to check out everyone's legs this weekend. Blast." There's a snort of laughter from someone down the hall. Possibly Parsee.

Eiki stares at the wall opposite us. Then stares up at me. She raises her eyebrow. Then she raises her leg perpendicular to the rest of her body. "You mean a leg like this?" Eiki asks innocently.

"Precisely like that," I answer evenly, giving her leg my polite interest. Which successfully disguises my MASSIVE interest. I mean, decorum be damned, that thing is fantastic!

Eiki snorts and smirks at me. "Open displays of lust are sinful, you know?"

"I consider it art appreciation," I say primly.

"I did start existence as a statue," Eiki admits, lowering her leg as she pushes off from the wall. Her mood seems to have improved dramatically. "Anyway, come on. Let's start our investigation." Eiki doesn't notice the amusement of her fellow guests, or at least doesn't comment on it. Shaking my head ruefully, I follow after her.


Yukari's room.

I peer inside, at the bed soaked with dried blood. At her hat, now a dark shade of crimson. I try not to breathe too deeply, lest the overwhelming smell, saturated with the tang of iron, overwhelm me. It's a lost cause; the smell is so thick that I can taste it on my tongue.

After a moment's hesitation, I step into the room.

[ ] Describe your search. Anything in particular that you're looking for? Creativity will be rewarded, assuming there is something here to find...


[ ] Choose one girl for Alfred to talk to while he searches. This girl can help in the search, or just be someone to speak to.
No. 52525
Did we just raise a dead flag for Eiki? I fear we just did. It is time that we start to protect them.
No. 52526
[X] Anything that 1. Is not blood 2. Wasn't in the room before. Look everywhere, even at unconventional places, like under the bed sheets, on the ceiling, etc...

No. 52529
[X] Look for
-anything that could be a weapon
-anything out of place/doesn't belong there
-Check every inch of the room. This means under the furniture, in the closets, and even check the drawers of the dresser/cabinets.
[X] Lyrica

Seriously Lyrica is doomed if we ignore her!
No. 52530
[X] Search the entire room for possible weapons.
Go through furniture checking for clues and look for things that are out of place/don't belong in the room. Also search for clues on who or what the murderer might be.
Also look for blood spots that might lead into a wall, furniture, window, or out of the room. This might lead to hidden weapons/clues.

Errr, forgive me if I didn't notice this, but is everyone with us right now?

[X] Eiki

Shouldn't Eiki be genre savvy in this thing, since she has seen all kinds of murders? She should be able to help us in finding clues.
No. 52531
-[x]Examine the silly hat
-() examine the sheets
-[x]Examine the writing, it could give some indication about the height of the killer
-[x]Search for something that might have fallen under the furniture.

>Seriously Lyrica is doomed if we ignore her!
I hear you.
No. 52532
[X] Check all doors and portals into the room (windows, air vents, closet, drawers, etc). We should be familiar enough with the design of the rooms to know where everything should be, and what belongs aside from the guest(s) luggage.
- Check if there are any markings in the blood: hand/footprints, signs of something being dragged through/across, etc.
- Yukari's luggage? Whether or not there's anything useful in there, has anyone/thing else been through it?
- Is anything at all in the room actually disturbed, aside from having blood on it?

[x] Suika. She seems to have known Yukari better/longer than most of the others, so she'd have more insight in general about the gap yokai.
No. 52533
File 137489080152.jpg - (59.35KB, 400x400, bloodstain-converge.jpg) [iqdb]
>Blood splattered on the carpet, on the walls.

Can I assume that as a painter, he should be sort of familiar with how liquids splatter? Perhaps we can do some basic forensics on how she was killed?

Though, rereading the description of Yukari's death, it almost seems like she just exploded on the bed. There's also mention of bits of her clothing being scattered around.

[x]Do some basic blood stain analysis.
[x]Check how Yukari's dress was damaged.
[x]Her body was either taken away or eaten, perhaps you can find tracks or marks of disturbance in the sheets/patterns in carpet?
[x]Pretty much what everyone above is saying.


Man, I wish Hatate didn't bite it, we could have used her cellphone to compare pictures of the crime scenes.
No. 52535
[X] Search the entire room for possible weapons.
[x]Examine the silly hat
- Yukari's luggage? Whether or not there's anything useful in there, has anyone/thing else been through it?

[x] Yumeko
We have not talked to Yumeko in a while, am concerned.
No. 52539
[x] Look for
-anything that could be a weapon
-anything out of place/doesn't belong there
-Check every inch of the room. This means under the furniture, in the closets, and even check the drawers of the dresser/cabinets.
[x] Check all doors and portals into the room (windows, air vents, closet, drawers, etc). We should be familiar enough with the design of the rooms to know where everything should be, and what belongs aside from the guest(s) luggage.
- Check if there are any markings in the blood: hand/footprints, signs of something being dragged through/across, etc.
- Yukari's luggage? Whether or not there's anything useful in there, has anyone/thing else been through it?
- Is anything at all in the room actually disturbed, aside from having blood on it?
[x]Do some basic blood stain analysis.
[x]Check how Yukari's dress was damaged.
[x]Her body was either taken away or eaten, perhaps you can find tracks or marks of disturbance in the sheets/patterns in carpet?
[x]Examine the writing, it could give some indication about the height of the killer

>Choose one girl for Alfred to talk to while he searches.

What girl? They're all women with 3-to-4+ digit ages. Among them, I'll chose…

[x]Kasen, because she's an incident resolver and therefore the most like a detective.
No. 52540
[X] Check all doors and portals into the room (windows, air vents, closet, drawers, etc). We should be familiar enough with the design of the rooms to know where everything should be, and what belongs aside from the guest(s) luggage.
- Check if there are any markings in the blood: hand/footprints, signs of something being dragged through/across, etc.
- Yukari's luggage? Whether or not there's anything useful in there, has anyone/thing else been through it?
- Is anything at all in the room actually disturbed, aside from having blood on it?

[x] Parsee- I'd rather not have her die next.
No. 52541
[x] Check the doors, windows, portals, etc.
[x] Speak with Suika, since she claimed to be Yukari's friend.
No. 52544
Okay, so some good ideas for the investigation. However, there's a three-way tie between Parsee, Lyrica, and Suika. Eiki is safe for now, so don't worry about her.

Can I get a vote for one of the three so I can start writing? Next one takes it.
No. 52545

Lyrica, you just got saved!
No. 52546

Thank you!

Vote called, Lyrica will be our little assistant!

...And probably Eiki too, since we already talked to her, and it's a logical connection.
No. 52547
File 137495475442.jpg - (159.76KB, 850x637, saved.jpg) [iqdb]

Eiki follows me inside, her face set and determined. Together, we stare at the mass of what used to be a beautiful woman. The blood, partially dried on the bedsheets. The occasional hair and scrap of cloth. Her hat, of course. A few drops of blood are splattered on the walls and carpet, and of course there is that repulsive message.

DELICIOUS instead. Sick bastard, whoever this is.

I glance behind me, at the remaining five guests who have yet to enter the room. There isn't room for all of us, but one more set of eyes would not be out of place. For a moment, my eyes meet with Lyrica's, and she immediately starts forward, pauses, then comes the rest of the way in the room.

"I'd like to find the real culprit this time," the poltergeist says quietly.

I nod, smiling gently. "Thank you for your help." Eiki and Lyrica flank me, and we stare around at the room, exposed to all of its gruesomeness.

"Let's look for anything that could be a weapon," Eiki says finally. "I doubt that the killer left one behind, but you never know. Otherwise, search for anything out of place. Under the furniture, in the closet, the dressers... every last inch."

We nod and get to work, creeping around the room slowly. For the time being, we avoid the bed; no one apparently wants to get any closer to that than is necessary. I personally get down on my hand and knees and start sweeping the carpet with my palms, searching for anything unusual. In the meantime, I decide to make a little bit of conversation with Lyrica.

"So, what's it like to be a poltergeist?" I ask, carefully searching for anything that might be the one clue we need.

Lyrica pokes her head out of the closet. "Pretty much like being a human, really. I mean, not that I'd know anything other than being a poltergeist, but I've had a lot of time to make comparisons. My sisters and I eat, sleep, and bathe. We hope and dream, and feel the same... impulses... that any other living being would feel."

"Such as the desire for a man?" Eiki asks, looking through a set of drawers.

"...Yeah," Lyrica admits, peering back inside the closet. "We think and feel. We even bleed, although it tends to evaporate over time. And as long as we continue to get people's attention, we will continue on."

I look up at this. "Sorry, what was that?"

Lyrica sighs. "Well, all youkai and gods are formed from belief, you see. In our case, we were formed by the desire of one woman: Layla Prismriver. It was her power, her desire, that brought us into being. Of course, she died long ago." Lyrica's voice gets very hushed at the end; this must be a difficult topic for her.

Still, that nonetheless begs an important question. "...If your creator is dead, how is that you still exist?" I wonder out loud.

"Well, even after Layla died, we still had some of her magical energy maintaining our forms. Pretty quickly, we realized that we'd have to find a substitute for it. And we did, quite quickly. That's why we started giving performances."

I look up at this. "In other words, it's not just your livelihoods that depend on your music. It's your very lives."

"Precisely." Lyrica pulls some hangers out of the way and then gets on her hands and knees. Despite myself, I can't notice that the poltergeist woman has some very lovely legs, and a pleasant bottom. Sadly, this isn't the time to admire the opposite sex, and I return to sweeping the carpet while Lyrica continues speaking. "It's why we perform for people. We play our music, and people start talking about the Phantom Trio, and their performances. How it seems to clash, and then comes together harmoniously. There's actually a couple of youkai we've started to perform with in order to increase our exposure. Anyway, it works We're all perfectly fine, and have absolutely no intention of going anywhere!"

"And what would happen if people stopped talking about you?" I ask, standing up.

Lyrica shrugs. "If people stopped thinking about us, remembering us and our music? About the same thing that would happen to you if you stopped eating."

"Sorry I asked," I remark, then look around the room. "Well, there are definitely signs of people walking around on the carpet, but I can't tell anything more. It could be just Yukari's footprints, or there could be someone else's as well. No claws marks, in any case. What about you two?" Eiki and Lyrica shake their heads. "Damn. Well, I'm going to check around the window. Can you two check the air vent over there, and around the door? Just to see if anything forced its way in."

"Sure," Lyrica says,walking over to the vent while Eiki goes to examine the door frame with Kasen. "Ugh, that'd just be perfect, wouldn't it? If we were being hunted by some sort of super-fast slime monster."

"Well, we haven't seen any slimy residue so far, so I don't think that's it," I comment, running my hands over the window frame. It's pitch-black outside, and the occasional flash of lightning does nothing to dispel the darkness. If anything, it only serves to deepen it. "So, the Phantom Trio, huh?"

"Yep!" Lyrica says cheerfully. "Lunasa's on violin. Her music induces melancholy. Merlin's on the trumpet, and her music induces cheer in people. My own music, on the piano, can induce illusion, which basically allows me to create mild hallucinations in people. Together, we can send people on a real roller-coaster of an emotional experience!"

I pause in my search. "...That sounds quite fascinating, really," I admit.

"Well, we're certainly very popular!" Lyrica chuckles. "Like I said, we aren't going anywhere any time soon!"

"People often talk about your sisters and their qualities," Kasen notes from the doorframe, where she's helping out Eiki. "For some reason, I don't hear a lot about you, though."

Lyrica hesitates. "...Yeah," she finally says, and then nothing else.

Kasen, Eiki and I glance over at her, and Kasen looks a bit guilty. "Sore subject?" I ask.

Lyrica sighs and leans against the wall, staring off into the distance. "Kinda. I mean, I understand. Merlin's tall, and quite, you know. Well-endowed." Lyrica gives a visual cue to emphasize her statement. "Combine that with her upbeat personality, and it's no surprise that people like her. And Lunasa? She's usually so solemn and stern. There's a certain appeal to that, and a lot of people wind up paying attention to the quiet girl, you know?"

"And then there's you," I conclude.

"Yeah, " Lyrica agrees. "Then there's me. The third girl, neither as cheery as Merlin, or as solemn and quiet as Lunasa. The one people forget." She sighs wearily. "I mean, it's not like I don't understand. It's just frustrating. I mean, I work hard, you know? I'm the one that manages the finances, and handles the bookings, and mediates between the two extremes of mania and melancholy when we play. All that, and I make my own contributions as well. Hell, I'm the one who got us hooked up with Mystia and Kyouko... those are the other two youkai we play with." Lyrica shakes her head. "But despite all of that, I'm the one that people tend to forget about. It's kind of frustrating, you know?"

I nod sympathetically. "It's always the hardest workers that get overlooked, isn't it?" Lyrica nods without bitterness; this seems to be something that she's grown used to. "Well, for what it's worth... I loved your music. Perhaps you can play a little more later, once this is all taken care of?"

Lyrica looks up with a genuine smile. "Thanks!" Then her smile turns sly. "What, no comment on my legs? I feel so left out!" Eiki coughs in embarrassment from the door, and I hear Parsee snicker.

"All right," I say evenly. "I would love to have 'dem fine gams' wrapped around me Miss Lyrica. There, is that better?"

Lyrica snorts in amusement. "You're such a charmer, Alfred. Anyway, I don't find anything usual her at all. No sign of the vent being forced."

"Same here," Eiki comments, "This door was never kicked open or forced, so the killer didn't break in through here."

"Meanwhile, the window shows no signs of so much as being touched since it was last cleaned," I muse. "Very well..." I walk over to Yukari's luggage. "I hate to intrude upon a lady's privacy, but this is an urgent situation, after all. Let me see..." I unzip her bag and being the search through it. "Clothes, toiletries, more clothes... lingerie... lingerie... yet more lingerie..." I raise an eyebrow. "A wide variety of creatively-designed sex toys, no less." I hear several guests squeak in embarrassment behind me at this. "Illuminating in several ways, but at the same time perhaps a bit too much information."

"Yukari, you frisky biscuit," I hear Suika chuckle from the hallway. At least she's perked up a little.

"Actually, Yukari has Lady Shinki," Yumeko points out. "She was planning to play matchmaker this weekend, meaning that those... objects... were probably going to be issued to us."

There's a moment of silence at this. Somewhat horrified silence, at that. Though I do see a couple of intrigued expressions.

Shaking thoughts of magical women and erotic toys from my mind, I walk over to the dried message on my wall and hold out my hand, gauging where I would write such a message in the killer's position. "...The murderer was probably a little shorter than me, but not by much," I say out loud, noting that the message is just below my eye level. "I suppose that could be inaccurate, but if you're going to be writing something in a reasonable hurry, you'd do it at eye level, wouldn't you?"

"So we have a general height for our assailant," Eiki muses, striding over to me. "Probably no claws on the hand either, or there would be marks on the wallpaper. It would be incredibly difficult to write that message otherwise."

I hold up a hand and note that the letters are about the width of a fingertip. So it was likely written by hand. Score one for the Yama.

I then turn and frown at the bloodstain on the bed. "...No signs of a struggle, no blood trails leading anywhere, no obvious signs of anyone being dragged. Not even a rumple in the carpet. It's more like she was carried out of here."

Eiki stares at the blood. "It's a fair amount of blood, but it's kind of odd how it's all centered on the bed like that, isn't it?"

"How about those bits of cloth and hair?" Lyrica points out. "I mean, random bits of her hair and dress, tossed in the puddle of blood like that? They're all torn up fine, rather than being large strips. Her hair looks like it was cut off, too; you don't see any long strands as though it were torn out."

I nod, slowly. "It's like they were tossed there after the fact, isn't it?"

Lyrica nods as Eiki straightens up. "And for that matter, why no bits of skin, no bone fragments? Whatever did this left all of this blood behind, this hair and cloth, but nothing else? And then just tossed the hat down on the pile?" Lyrica frowns at the sight, biting her lip.

I stare at the blood stain in the middle of the bed. At the splatters on the carpet and walls. Frowning, I start to turn in place, flicking my hand at the walls as though flicking blood at it. Or rather, paint.

"Alfred?" Lyrica aks me, sounding bemused.

"...I'm a painter," I say absently, "So I deal with splatters all of the time. It's unavoidable, really. You learn how liquids, viscous liquids, splatter over time. That's especially true when it's your task to clean things up." I flick my hand up one last time as cold certainty settle into my stomach.

"...The blood was poured onto the bed," I say finally, turning to stare at the clotted mess ruining the sheets. "Slowly and carefully, so that it all got on. A little bit dripped off the sides, but that's about it. Then blood was quite deliberately flung onto the walls to create the very convincing image of a savage attack. But this evidence suggests that Yukari was attacked while laying down on her bed when she was assaulted. Yet, there are no signs of the sheets being torn. Rumpled, yes... but as though someone took their hand and ruffled things around. There is no sign of a true struggle."

"Yukari would have had to be all but melted for there to be so little mess," Lyrica realizes, "Or at least for the mess to be so contained. But there's still blood splattered all over the place."

"Very deliberately," Eiki agrees, her eyes burning. "Suika, Yumeko. Are you certain that Yukari wouldn't be pulling some sort of prank?"

"It's her blood, and like I said, she was really looking forward to this," Suika says, unwilling to enter the room. Yumeko nods her agreement. "Why?"

I look at Eiki and Lyrica, then turn to face the guests clustered outside the room. "Yukari may very well be dead. But this entire scene was faked."

[ ] What now? (If examining another room, specify which.)


[ ] Pick another woman to talk to.
No. 52550
Why do I feel that the person whom we wouldn't talk to will kick the bucket?
No. 52551
Right. Time to put my brain to work.

This room is more than likely not the actual scene of the attack. If there was an attack, it most likely occurred somewhere between the bedroom and the foyer, and even more likely along the path that Alfred had taken Yukari through the halls.

Furthermore, the lack of bone and other viscera seems to suggest that the killer may not wish to actively dismember its victims. One thing is for sure, though, it wanted this room to be found, and that message to be read.

Everything here is very deliberate.

But the first step is such:

However, something very interesting of note: We had only brought /Yukari/ to her room. Unless she possessed something that indicated her room's number, or something of the sort, the murderer must be someone who knew where she would be staying- or else she was attacked outside her door. If she had something that indicated her room's location, and if she was not attacked outside her room, then she must have been assaulted somewhere in the halls and brought to her room.

If the path that the criminal took was direct, it indicates that the culprit /knew/ the location of Yukari's room. If they did not, then they likely meandered- it must have therefore started along the path that Yukari would have taken to her room, and end at her door, with the crime scene in between.

We can likely determine several things in one fell swoop: Whether the criminal knew the layout of the house, and, possibly, where the criminal had first struck.

Thus, a course of action:

[x] Begin with Yukari's door is the door locked? Is the latch busted?
-[x] Retrace steps back toward the foyer. Look for any aberrations in the halls- Alfred gave this place a once over before anyone arrived, so if anything is out of place, it's probably a clue or a trail.
--[x] Start keeping notes on the killer's apparent personality traits.
---[x] Enlist Yumeko's help in combing the halls- she's a maid, after all.

Lastly, a minor addendum: The killer was likely strong enough to carry Yukari's body without problems, but this raises the issue: How do you carry a bleeding body, to or from this room, without getting blood on the carpets? This is a /massive/ assumption, and it may be more likely that Yukari was attacked, bled into a convenient container, and then had that evidence scattered in her room.

Just a thought, but it may be interesting to note if we don't find any blood.
No. 52552
File 137496221294.jpg - (41.66KB, 580x360, semi-tempered-glass-6915.jpg) [iqdb]
[🔍]Go back to investigate Iku's death.

>The window is shattered. Glass litters the ground in front of it, and the rain pours in freely, staining the carpet. There is no sign of Iku, not even of bit of cloth on the remaining shards of glass in the window frame.

First inspect how much glass is in the room, does it seem to add up the amount of glass that would be in the window? If so, then our attacker is definitely something foreign. If the shards are directed outside, then it would implicate the women that were in the room or we're dealing with something even more terrifying than we imagined.

If Alfred has ever dropped a wine glass before, he would know that untempered glass tends to leave massive shards that are very likely to cut something or someone, especially
>a huge scarf that must be at least ten feet long.

But if the glass was tempered then if the attacker had been inside the room, there might be enough of the small shards to figure out if she was dragged out or something.

Regardless, closely examine for fragments of ANYTHING. Something MUST have been cut by the glass.

This is a fun story.
No. 52557
[X] Begin with Yukari's door - is the door locked? Is the latch busted?
-[X] Retrace steps back toward the foyer. Look for any aberrations in the halls- Alfred gave this place a once over before anyone arrived, so if anything is out of place, it's probably a clue or a trail.
--[X] Start keeping notes on the killer's apparent personality traits.
---[X] Enlist Yumeko's help in combing the halls- she's a maid, after all.

I think we should learn all we can from one scene at a time.

I'm also starting to wonder if we're dealing with something that can either teleport or render itself or other things intangible. You don't just waltz into a room, kill someone, and leave absolutely no traces of the crime whatsoever. Since we believe that Yukari's scene was set up and Iku's scene had no immediate evidence that she actually came to any harm short of her not being there, it's possible our culprit might have blinked our missing ladies out and dealt with them elsewhere, then returned to set up the crime scenes. Even if Yukari was killed on sight and packed into something, there should logically be traces of dragged carpet or some other sign that a heavy object had been moved. Yumeko also didn't find any traces that Hatate's body had been moved, either.

One thing that definitely needs to be looked at when we get to Iku's scene is how the window was broken - it might have been broken in such a way that it only looks like she was carried through.

This is a rather radical theory, but with no bodies and no evidence as yet that bodies were physically removed, it's something to consider.
No. 52558
You have a point. The criminal either knew the layout of the mansion, or at least knew of the location of Yukari's room.

> How do you carry a bleeding body, to or from this room, without getting blood on the carpets?

You have to think beyond this room. The scene itself was engineered for us to find. It's just as likely that Yukari wasn't even in this room in the first place. For all we know, the murder took place somewhere else entirely.

[x]Go back to investigate Iku's death.

I'm curious about why Iku's death is so much more different from the others. According to how much we know, the killer could have easily done the deed in a small amount of time. What made her different that she needed to grabbed, or shoved out of the window?
No. 52559
[x] Retrace steps back toward the foyer. Look for any aberrations in the halls- Alfred gave this place a once over before anyone arrived, so if anything is out of place, it's probably a clue or a trail.
[x]Go back to investigate Iku's death.
No. 52566
Okay, I think there's enough to call the vote here. We'll be backtracking to the foyer, moving on to investigate Iku's death, all while getting Yumeko to help us.
No. 52568
File 137503350732.jpg - (266.60KB, 600x800, best maid.jpg) [iqdb]
(http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UGkNmoe8pLM)- ignore the spoken bit at the end.

For a moment there is stunned silence at this pronouncement, as the guests still outside of the room gape at me in disbelief.

"...Faked?" Kasen says at last, "But how?"

"A fair question," I admit. "Though I have to wonder whether this room was the actual scene of the attack, given the absence of any actual signs of a struggle."

"Wait, wait," Parsee says, raising her hand. "Are you saying that Yukari was killed somewhere else, bled into a jar or a bag, and then someone dumped the blood out here?" The bridge guardian looks more than a little sickened by the thought.

"That's my best assumption," I say with a shrug. "I mean, it fits, doesn't it? With no sign of a struggle or a body being carried off, it only makes sense that she was killed elsewhere, and then this scene was thrown together for our convenience." I take a good long look at the message on the wall. "It's some sort of game on our enemy's part, all meant to scare us."

"So, it's the same thing with Hatate, isn't it?" Lyrica suggests. "The killer grabbed her, carried her off, and then brought her blood and hat back to make a crime scene."

"Probably," Yumeko muses. "Whoever it was could've slung her over their shoulder and lugged her off, then doubled back just long enough to make that... sight. All without making a single sound." The maid shakes her head in dismay.

"...Yukari was on her way back to her room when she left," I think out loud. "At least, I was certain that she was. It may actually be worthwhile to search the mansion at some point to find the actual scene of the murder."

"That's a lot of house to cover, and assumes that we're on the right track here," Eiki points out.

"Good point," I admit. "We really have no way of knowing where Yukari was going in order to concentrate on restoring the weather to what she wanted it to be."

"Here," Suika says firmly. "She would've gone to the one place she could relax and get some privacy. Probably was planning to lay down and work her mojo."

"But there was no sign of the door being forced open," Kasen notes, running her hands along the unmarked doorframe. "Implying..."

"...That she was waylaid somewhere along the way and then dragged off," I finish. "Now, I saw Yukari wander off towards the east wing, but it's entirely possible that something distracted her. Perhaps an anomaly that she went to investigate before being killed. I suggest that we sweep the halls and rooms of the east wing and make our way back to the downstairs hallway, backtracking the route Yukari would have taken." I glance up at the maid from Makai. "Yumeko, I'd appreciate your help."

She nods in response. "Leave it to me. I can spot a speck of blood from fifty meters away. Literally." The maid taps Suika on the shoulder. "We could use your sense of smell as well." The Oni quietly nods in response.

The rest of the guests cluster around Yukari's door as the three of us wander down the hall. One by one, we open the doors to the other rooms and peer in, looking for blood. Or smelling for it, in Suika's case.

"I can't help but wonder," I muse, "Both Hatate and Iku were taken so damned quickly. Could we be dealing with some manner of teleportation?"

"Unlikely," Yumeko replies, scouring the floor, walls, and ceiling for clues. "Teleportation isn't mystically subtle. Before our powers were sealed, we would have detected it in a heartbeat. There would have had to be some indication of its presence. Light, heat, sound, something."

"Unless your powers were sealed, and then Hatate was taken," I point out.

Yumeko frowns. "There's another big question. How could whatever this is be using magic when there's clearly some sort of anti-magical field in place? This just doesn't make sense."

"...There would have to be some sign of the teleportation, otherwise there would be no need to wait until we're alone," I reason. "Though Iku is quite the anomaly. Pulled through a window rather than quietly whisked away. No, I don't think we're dealing with teleportation, not with what you've told me. But I do want to visit the downstairs lounge once we're done here. What happened with Iku was... odd." Yumeko nods her agreement.

A thorough search of the upstairs reveals nothing, so we make our way down to the first-floor rooms, the ones intended instead for Yukari's hired men. As Yumeko and I lead the rest down there, I decide to take a moment to get to know the Makai maid. Call it professional curiosity.

"So, servant to a goddess, then?" I ask politely.

Yumeko chuckles as she descends the stair with me. "That's right! One of Lady Shinki's dearest creations! Maid, bodyguard, companion... I've served her for longer than I can remember. Wish I was with her right now, actually." She finishes up with a sigh.

"Can't say I blame you," I say grimly. "So, what's Makai like?"

Yumeko opens the first of the doors on the ground floor and she, Suika and I peer in. "You'd probably find it a bit intimidating at first. Red sky, crimson seas... a lot of red and purple, really." She smiles fondly. "However, all of the land was fashioned by Shinki. All of the inhabitants were created by her. Set aside your preconceptions, and you'd find Makai to be a lovely place, Alfred. The seas are warm, and relaxing to bathe in. The wind is hot during the day, and cool during the night. Everything was crafted by Lady Shinki's loving hand."

"She sounds quite pleasant for the ruler of Hell," I note.

Yumeko shakes her head. "Not Hell, though there have been historical dealings with it. Long story. Makai is the home of demons and devils, yes. But that doesn't make every last one of us evil, just as humans can't all be classified as good or evil. We just... are, much like your people. Some of us are benevolent, while others can tend towards criminal behavior. Some sections of Makai can tend towards extreme depravity, while others are serene and peaceful." She pauses. "Though I think that we're overall a lot more liberal than Earth as a whole. Must be the influence of the succubi."

"Who were created by Shinki," Suika quips, smirking. "Which really makes me wonder about your goddess, hmmm~?"

Yumeko flushes. "W-well, Lady Shinki certainly had her youthful moments of indiscretion, I'm sure," the maid flusters, "And there is a need for such beings in Makai's order, so uh..."

Suika snorts. "Please. Yukari told me what the two of them got up to sometimes." The Oni winks at me. "Look at it like this, Alfie. Who taught the succubi their trade, hmmm~?"

My eyebrows raise until they hit the ceiling, while Yumeko starts flapping her arms in embarrassed consternation. "D-don't make such insinuations, dammit!" she protests loudly. "I-I mean, certainly, Lady Shinki has her... hidden sides, but I assure you that she is a very kind, motherly woman!"

I glance at Yumeko in speculatively. "Just out of curiosity, Miss Yumeko... Lady Shinki formed you, correct?" The maid nods at me, not certain where I'm going with this. "In that case, what precisely did she teach you?"

Yumeko stares at me with wide eyes, her face going very, very red. Without another word, she spins on her heel and walks further down the hallway, practically leaking embarrassment from her pores.

"Companion," I say out loud.

"Yep," Suika agrees.

"Perhaps I said too much?"

"It was a perfectly valid question," Suika says with a shrug. I purse my lips and walk after the crimson-faced maid. That was perhaps going a little too far, and an apology is due, in my opinion.

Yumeko walk out of the next bedroom, shaking her head and talking a little quickly. "Well, nothing here, so let's move on-"

"I apologize," I tell here, bowing. "I was only trying to lighten the mood a little. Obviously, I went too far. I beg your forgiveness."

Yumeko stares at me in surprise before relaxing. "It's all right, Alfred," she says gently, "I'm not mad, Just... a little embarrassed, I guess." She sighs, and looks around. Suika is politely lingering further up the hall from us, while the rest of the guests are milling about at the entrance to this wing. "Lady Shinki formed us Makai denizens from the very substance of the land itself. Such activity required a... bent towards fertility, and Lady Shinki was younger then, more... promiscuous. She felt that there were certain skills that her children should know. I inherited some of those skills." Yumeko sighs. "I've always been considered a bit of a prude by Makai standards. I was never happy with the thought of just sleeping around. That's not an uncommon thing; many Makaians prefer to stick to a chosen mate, but I suppose that I've always been a little... uncomfortable with that side of my existence."

"That hardly seems shameful," I point out.

"It isn't," Yumeko agrees. "It's just that I guess I've always found that part of my life a bit... embarrassing. Anyway, Lady Shinki mellowed out a bit with age, becoming more a mother than a seductress. I came to be her most trusted servant during her lonely years as ruler of Makai... and then she found a companion in Yukari." Yumeko hesitates. "Then she started to feel that she was being selfish and keeping me all for herself all these years, and began hinting that I should find myself a lover. A nice man, maybe. Then this came up, and, well..." She rails off helplessly.

"...So it's not a fear of mean or intimacy, just a case of shyness?" I ask in a teasing tone of voice.

Yumeko blushes again. "...I guess," she mumbles. "I mean, I'm confident in my body! It's just... I don't always know how to approach a prospective lover. Which may be why I never made it as a succubus, I suppose. Not that I'm complaining, my chosen path brought me into Lady Shinki's direct service, but ummm..."

"I see nothing to be embarrassed about," I tell her seriously. "Some things are very private, and not to be taken lightly. If you wish to wait for your ideal mate, I see no reason for you not to do so."

Yumeko pauses, then nods slowly. "...Yeah," she says slowly, "Maybe that's all it's been all this time. Wanting to wait for that one special being. Yeah." Yumeko smiles at me. "Thank, Alfred. I think I needed to hear that from someone else."

I smile back. "Being the voice of the conscience is a servant's job, as you well know, Yumeko." I look down the hallway. "Now, shall we get back to it, then?" Yumeko nods, and Suika rejoins us to conclude our sweep of the bedrooms.

And then the foyer, all to no avail.

"Nothing," I say bitterly, staring at the floor of the entry way. "No sign of any blood, or any signs of a struggle. Dammit, what are we missing?!"

"Easy, Alfred," Yumeko says soothingly, once again the perfect, supportive maid. "We must just be missing something. Let's go to the lounge; maybe we can figure out what happened to Iku." I sigh and nod; she's right after all. Shaking my head, I lead our little group to the lounge that was supposed to be our sanctuary.

It's about as we left it. Window broken open, rain pouring in, being spread by the wind all over the place. The only new addition is a familiar black hat with a ribbon sitting on the ground, next to a message written in blood: TASTES GOOD FRIED.

I snort and resolve to ignore the message. Honestly, the damned things are starting to be irritating rather than intimidating. Instead, I stand to the side of the shattered window, just out of the way of the wind and rain. I stare at the remains accusingly.

No sign of blood. No sign of any torn clothing, despite Iku having apparently been dragged through. Impossible. This glass, when broken, is sharp enough to cause terrible wounds, and yet there isn't so much as a scrap of Iku's clothing on the jagged edges? Not a speck of blood? A cold certainty begins to settle into my gut and I tug down a curtain to wrap around me, providing some small protection from the rain. I turn to Suika and Yumeko. "I'm going to take a look outside. Hold on to me and don't let go." They nod at my instruction and take careful hold of me.

Taking a deep breath, I step forward into the path of the rain, feeling the curtain already starting to get soaked from the intense precipitation. Carefully, I lean forward out of the window. As I do, I can't help but notice how the sharp glass catches on and tears the curtain, leaving behind small scraps. I look down at the front porch... and see exactly what I expected. Satisfied, I lean back in and step out of the rain, pulling the curtain off and tossing it to the ground.

I turn to the assembled guests. "There's glass on the porch out there," I tell them solemnly. "A lot of it. This window was broken from the inside. It was just made to look otherwise. Poorly, at that."

There is a moment of contemplative silence at this. Then, as one, we slowly turn to face Hina, who is turned away from us, staring at the wall. Hina, who was the closest to the window when Iku was taken. Hina, whose face has been a mask of guilt ever since.

"Miss Kagiyama," I say quietly, "You were the closest one to the window when this happened. Is there anything that you can tell us?" I don't want to accuse the woman, but things are not adding up. She's hiding something, and it's high time we found out what.

"...I can tell you how hard it is," she says quietly. "Wanting to help people, but being feared by them. Wanting to take their misfortune away, but being feared as an ill omen." Hina shakes her head, her body trembling. "And you know, I want to do something more with my life. It's not like everybody doesn't KNOW how dangerous youkai mountain is. I understand fully why everyone stays away, and the tengu sure as hell drive off any visitors. It's not like I'm needed there. But every time I try to do something to better my place in life, I get thwarted. A bunch of the goddamn tengu come down, condescend as politely as they can, and tell me why I can't leave the mountain, criticize me for wanting to 'abandon my duties.'" Hina's voice is extremely bitter as she says this. No one else speaks.

"So you start to resent them after a while. Start to hate them. Tengu. Other youkai who prey openly on the humans you... I care about so much. Other goddesses who have all of these worshipers, all of this power without doing anything for it, without working as hard as I do. So someone comes and offers me a deal, and the only cost is a handful of youkai, a few beings we'd pretty much be better off without anyway. And I was just so frustrated, and the deal was so good. How could I say no?"

"Miss Kagiyama..." Kasen breaths in horror, understanding seeping into her features. Seeping into all of our features, really.

"Yukari isn't faking," Hina says in a voice full of misery and guilt. "This isn't a prank. This is truly dangerous. I know this." The goddess of misfortune turns to face us, tears streaming down her face, expression wracked with guilt and sorrow. "I know this... because I helped to set it all up."

For a moment, there is only stunned, horrified silence.

And then the power fails, and we are all plunged into ebon darkness.

[ ] REACT.
No. 52569
FUCK. We're going to lose 1+ of them now, aren't we?

[🔍]Yell for everyone to come to your voice, monster be damned.

Hopefully at least this will let us group up...
No. 52570
Damn, I wonder if we spent more time with Hina she might have let something slip.
No. 52571
[x] Tackle Hina. Preferably as a group.

Don't let the guilty party get away.
No. 52572
[X] Tell everyone to make a sound off to confirm that no one got picked off
No. 52573
That's an odd view as I get the impression the Tengu care for little that doesn't directly affect them, not sure why they'd want Hina to stick around on the mountain.

Though I wonder who she made the deal with.
No. 52574
So what would have happened if we'd talked to Lyrica and Hatate instead of Hina before the second murder?
No. 52575
[X]Yell for everyone to come to your voice, monster be damned.
[X] Tell everyone to make a sound off to confirm that no one got picked of

I fear it's too late to tackle Hina, if it's going to follow the tropes, she will be long gone before we can have semblance of lighting.
No. 52576

I'd rather not answer too many questions mid-story, sorry. Just keep it in mind and I'll answer in a Q&A session at some point.
No. 52577
[x]Yell for everyone to come to your voice, monster be damned.
[x] Tell everyone to make a sound off to confirm that no one got picked of

That is pretty much the only thing that can be done right now. Hina will die because the murderer can't have her talk.
No. 52578
[x] Hug Tackle Hina and don't let go
She's right in front of him, she's not getting away.
No. 52579
Damnit. Ill go for the bandwagon vote going on. Phone just wont copypaste it correctly. Maybe add a "Well damn. Didn't expect this."?

Although looking at her reaction in hindsight it starts to become clear. Who is her accomplice though? I don't see Kasen, Suika, Yumeko or Eiki being the culprit. The last three more so than Kasen but I still don't see any reason or motive for any of them to do all this.

I do hope this wont permanently ruin said characters in Keymaster's Touhouverse like Aya. Hina was a total surprise and I did like her.
No. 52580
[x] Hug Tackle Hina and don't let go

Get. Her.
No. 52581
[X] Tackle Hina and don't let go.

She's not making any sense:
>It's not like I'm needed there. [...] A bunch of the goddamn tengu come down, condescend as politely as they can, and tell me why I can't leave the mountain, criticize me for wanting to 'abandon my duties.'
What duties? She just said she isn't needed there.
>So someone comes and offers me a deal, and the only cost is a handful of youkai, a few beings we'd pretty much be better off without anyway.
Only, instead of picking off the ones that prey on humans, they're going after ones that are friendly. The guests at this party had to be in order to attend. What were you thinking, Hina?
No. 52582
>a few beings we'd pretty much be better off without anyway.

>Yukari is the first to go

Ha. Hah. Hahahah. What the hell, Hina.
No. 52583
[x] Hug Tackle Hina and don't let go
No. 52585
[x] Make sure Hina doesn't run off somewhere
[x]Yell for everyone to come to your voice, monster be damned.
[x] Tell everyone to make a sound off to confirm that no one got picked of
[x] Ask her more about this deal.

The least friendly might be Parsee but even then she's proven to be pretty nice if snarky.
No. 52586
Well, the next post will actually be fairly short, so I think I'll call the vote and start writing. We'll be attempting to save Hina, and otherwise getting everyone to gather around.
No. 52587
File 137506002499.jpg - (611.10KB, 768x1024, truly sorry for what shes done.jpg) [iqdb]

I know what's coming. It's blatantly obvious. And I know, deep down, that it's useless. But that doesn't mean that I can't try. "Everyone, to the sound of my voice! TACKLE HINA!" I shout out as loudly as I can, hoping that everyone will understand. Judging by the sudden yelps of confusion, and the sudden pressure of bodies pressing into me on all sides, they have. That's good.

Lightning flashes, and for a moment, I see Hina in black and white, staring at me in confusion, tears of guilt and shame streaking down her cheeks. I don't want it to end this way. I want to know why. Hina seemed so sweet, so kind. She was the kind of woman you instinctively felt that you could trust. She naturally wanted to help people, to watch over them, and she was just so damned graceful.

So why, Hina? Why do this?

As soon as the lightning strikes and I see where she stands, I surge forward along with a few others, struggling to get to her before it's too late. The light fades, and the thunder claps, deafening in the blackness.

At the same moment, something pushes me over, taking most of the guests clustered around me down with me.

I tear a terrified, muffled scream. Hina's scream.

I look up as lightning flashes again and see Hina, eyes wide with terror, struggling with... something. The figure is shrouded in black... robes? A cloak. One hand is covering her mouth, the other arm is wrapped around her throat in a headlock.

The lightning fades, thunder claps again, deafening, and I feel the sensation of rapid movement, a breeze blowing by me.

Then, silence.

All that I hear is the panicked breathing of the women around me, desperately struggling to our feet. Hands grope, and find me in the darkness. I realize, distantly, that I have also reached out to grab onto whoever I can, seeking comfort in the darkness. Lightning illuminates us again for a moment, and we all press tighter together, a bundle of warmth standing against the darkness.

"Sound off!" I shout out hoarsely. And they do, one by one.








"FUCK!" I swear.

No one tries to make a joke of it.

"What the hell was that?!" Parsee screams over the sound of thunder, a commanding noise in the darkness.

"I saw something... a figure in black," Yumeko's voice comes from beside me.

"I saw it too," Lyrica says shakily, "But I didn't get a good look. It was wearing a robe, or something heavy. I think it had gloves on, maybe."

"Vaguely humanoid," Eiki says, breathing heavily. "Is it still here? Where did it go?! Wait... can anyone see in the dark here?"

"I can, pretty well," Parsee responds. "Hang on, this lightning is making it hard for my eyes to adjust... I don't see anything. No sign of whoever, or whatever that was."

"Well, where the hell did it go?!" Suika demands. In the brief illumination of another lightning strike, I see her looking around wildly.

"Not here," I say, my ears pricked up for the slightest sound. The storm isn't helping. "But as Eiki was saying, which of you can see in the dark?"

"Me," Parsee repeats herself.

"Me, sorta," Suika says.

"I can see fairly well," Yumeko puts in.

"All right," I nod, thinking hard. "There might be more evidence here after that. But we can't do anything in this darkness. We need some illumination. Parsee, Suika, and Yumeko can guide us. Now, back in the servants' quarters is a survival kit that we never got around to getting. There are flashlights in there, and some electric lanterns. That would really help us out. Or..." I hesitate.

"What is it, Alfred?" Lyrica asks from behind me.

I swallow and try to wet my dry mouth. "There's an emergency generator which would bring all of the power back on in the house. It would easily last us through the night. However, it's located in the basement, so we'd have to go down there to get to it."

There's a moment of silence as everyone contemplates going downstairs in the midst of all... this.

[ ] Go after the survival kit.
[ ] Get the generator running.
[ ] Something else (Write-in).
No. 52588
[ ] Get the generator running.

We need power. Lights, appliances etc.
No. 52589
>I feel the sensation of rapid movement, a breeze blowing by me.

Hatate-tate confirmed for killer.
No. 52590
[x] Get the generator running.

The darkness will work to our enemy's advantage. Activating the generator seems like a better solution, unless it gets destroyed too...
No. 52591
[X] Get the generator running.

Flashlights don't last very long.

Or maybe Aya's gotten free again. She'd have a grudge against Yukari for the wedding trap. And Hatate for taking over as Gensokyo's premier reporter.
No. 52593
[X] Go after the survival kit.
-[X] Then go down to start the Generator.
It would make more sense to get the survival kit first. It has flashlights, and you know, we don't have night-vision. It'll be easier to start the generator AFTER we have some way of seeing what we're doing.
No. 52594
[X] Get the generator running.

Is it Komachi? Black robe like a typical grim reaper, she can manipulate distances so she could move fast enough for the murders and take the bodies with her.
No. 52596
[🔍]Get the generator running.
[🔍]Move as a group. One of the girls with night vision leads, with the other two guarding the rear.
No. 52601
[x] Get the generator running.

What else to do but this.
No. 52603
[X] Get the generator running.

Darkness is scary. Darkness with only a few flashlights and other meager implements? Scarier. Unless this survival kit has a couple-million-candlepower torch, it's not worth it. Best to be on equal footing in darkness (or in Parsee's case, better-than-equal) than to give yourself away to every yahoo by holding a flashlight.
No. 52604
[X] Get the generator running.
It clearly is a Moriya Shrine conspiracy.
No. 52610
[X] Get the generator running
Blundering around in the dark after the survival kit probably won't work out too well
No. 52614
Pretty much unanimous for getting the generator going. Vote called, update later.
No. 52616
File 13751290731.jpg - (103.21KB, 850x979, guide in the darkness.jpg) [iqdb]

It's dark. It's storming. The only illumination is the occasional flash of lightning from outside, which actually serves to blind us further by preventing Parsee, Suika, and Yumeko's eyes from adjusting. The wind feels like it's everywhere, and there is a crazed murderer loose in the house.

All that, and the most logical plan is to go down into the even darker basement.

"We go for the generator," I say finally. "Flashlights just aren't going to cut it . We need to see. We can get to the generator from a door in the kitchen that leads downstairs."

"All right, but how do we go about this?" Eiki asks me. A flash of lightning shows her face: drawn and nervous, yet completely in control. That's good to see.

"Leave that to me," Parsee says, sounding stern and determined. "I can see in the dark the best, so I'll lead the way with a knife in each hand. Anything that comes close gets stabbed; I'll wager my hand speed over that thing any day of the week. Suika, Yumeko, you two take up the rear. The rest of you huddle together in the middle." No one questions Parsee's suddenly commanding tone. It's simply the best plan available to us, so we go along with it.

Parsee leads the procession slowly out the door into the hallway. It is very slow going; Parsee can see fairly well, but the rest of us are hanging on to either her or each other as we proceed across the lounge. Yumeko and Suika gently herd us along.

It's funny. Like this, the lounge feels the size of a football field. It can't take us more than ten seconds to make our way to the door, but it feels like an eternity.

Out the door. Lyrica bangs her elbow and grunts, but otherwise keeps herself together. She does press up against me a bit tighter, though. Carefully, we file out into the hallway, and Parsee pauses a moment to look both ways. Or so I imagine; the darkness is even deeper here away from the windows. I find myself missing the lightning.

Down the hall, slowly. The sounds of our breathing. The sounds of our footsteps. The sounds of the storm. It's not enough; everything is too damned quiet. In the distance, I hear the sound of wood creaking; probably just the house settling. Probably.

"I hear something," Yumeko murmurs. "Some kind of humming, below us. Something underground."

"...It couldn't be the generator," I say as we trudge along. "Are you certain?"

"I hear it too," Parsee says grimly. "Never heard anything like it before, but it's too distant to say what it is exactly. Some kinda humming, like she said. Really faint; if my ears weren't trained from all that time spent in the underground, I probably wouldn't hear it either."

"I'm just used to hearing Lady Shinki across the length of the palace," Yumeko says seriously. Parsee grunts, but doesn't respond.

A humming sound? What the hell could that be?

We stop. Turn. Into the dining room. Carefully around the table and into the kitchen.

"Which door?" Parsee asks.

I think carefully about where I am, and where the door would be. "There," I say, pointing in the pitch-blackness. "You should see a door in the corner. That leads downstairs."

"...Got it. Follow me, but watch the cupboards." Parsee starts forward again.

Through the kitchen, slowly, without a bit of lightning to illuminate our path. I can't hear anything other than us and the rain. Somehow, it is not reassuring.

A door opens in the distance, and we freeze. Parsee tenses in front of me, at least from what I can tell from the feel of her back. We hold very still, seven lambs praying that the butcher doesn't come for us, pressing together for the illusion of security. Though, at least three of us lambs are armed and ready to fight.

But the butcher doesn't come. Instead, there is silence. Somewhere, far away, a door slams shut.

"Let's go," Parsee mutters, and there is the sound of a door opening in front of us. "There's stairs here. Watch your step." The sound of feet on wooden steps. I am gently tugged forward, and I realize that Parsee has laid one hand protectively on my shoulder, carefully leading me forward while preventing me from falling at the same time. I follow her down, and am followed in turn.

Ten steps.

Turn right.

Ten more steps.


"Parsee, there should be an electric lantern on a shelf to our left," I say to our guide. "Can you hand it to me?" There is a moment of silence, then a grunt from Parsee.

"Just a second," the blonde tells me, then there is the sound of her moving forward. She is deliberately making noise with her footsteps so that we know where she is. A pause. The rattle of metal. Returning footsteps. "Hold out your hands." I do so, and something is carefully pressed into them. After a moment of fumbling, I find the switch, and blessed illumination shines forth. Parsee watches me carefully, face tight and... concerned?

Never mind. Need to find the generator. It isn't far from the steps... there! Walking over to the machine, I check the gauges. Thankfully, someone had the forethought to fill the tank in case of an emergency. Bless you, unknown soul.

A bit of fiddling, and then...


Light returns to the world.

We're standing around in the basement. Off to one side are the ranks of utility machines, then the doors to the laundry room and wine cellar. I'm more than a little tempted to sample some wine right at the moment.

I turn to my companions, looks of relief on all of their faces. Over the humming of the generator, I speak to them. "Pleasant Meadows. Romantic walks in the darkness are our specialty."

"Get a new one," Lyrica says flatly. There is some general laughter at this, the laughter of people who have just gone through a crisis and emerged on the other side. It's illusory, of course; Hina has still been taken, and our hunter is still in the house. But at the least, we've caught a glimpse of that which hunts us.

There is much to discuss, much to do. We need to think about what we have learned so far, and work out our next course of action. But for now, we need a moment to rest. Many of the women are slumping down onto the ground, and I myself feel depleted. At the very least, for the moment we are safe. The only other way out of here is through the laundry room, which has a set of stairs leading to another hallway; I take a moment to jam the door with a spare chair.

Yes, a moment to catch our breath is definitely in order.


Rest period. Choose ONE of the guests to talk to (I'll be choosing the three with the most votes), and feel free to bring up any topics of discussion that you wish. For now, the guests have earned a breather. Also, give some thought as to your next move.
No. 52617
I think staying to the initial plan is best. We need more information instead of just waiting out here and I still think that one of the guest is the murderer.

[x] Eiki
No. 52618
[🔍] Eiki
No. 52619
[x] Eiki
-Who was the closest person to Hina? She may have some insight.
-Alberto should try to remember all his conversations with the whirling Dervish, bring it up with the others to see if something makes them tick.

The walk to the basement was actually scary!
No. 52621
[X] Lyrica
-[X] The generator won't last forever. Get the survival kits. Also grab any and all candles, flashlights, walkie-talkies (if any), objects that can be used as a weapon, blankets, pillows, couch cushions, and nonperishable food (Preferably things that can be eaten without being cooked).
--[X] Set up some traps around the mansion.

We don't want to just be prepared. We want to be CRAZY prepared.
No. 52622
[x] Parsee
-Does she still hear the humming noise from before?
-What was she worried about when she handed us the lantern?
No. 52623
Argh the agony of choice, I am going to go with
[x]Kasen cause we just haven't talked to her.

as for plans, have Parsee distribute the knives she got and continue with what we were planning to do.
No. 52625
[x] Suika; she's the most likely to know about Gensokyo's inhabitants given her age and proximity to Reimu. Ask:
-Who's the sort to make deals?
-Who's most likely to make food jokes?
No. 52627
No. 52628
[X] Yumeko
-[X] The generator won't last forever. Get the survival kits.
No. 52631
[X] Parsee
No. 52632
[X] Parsee
Mo' paru mo' betta.
No. 52633
Eiki is taken care of

So lets vote for

[X] Suika
No. 52634
[x] Suika

We haven't talked to Suika lately.
No. 52635
[X] Parsee
-[X] Think about getting those survival kits
-[X] 'Do you know anyone who has a grudge against Yukari knows Hina and moves really frikkin' fast?'
Considering these clues... I think the culprit is... Yumeko. Yeah.
No. 52636
Hina is at least portrayed as malevolent in fanon.
I can't think of justification from Yumeko.
If we go by the book, who was the girl closest to Hina/Hina trusted the most?
No. 52637
[x] Suika
No. 52639
[X] Parsee
No. 52640
[x] Parsee
-Does she still hear the humming noise from before?
-What was she worried about when she handed us the lantern?

Not exactly, unless you count Kuma-Hina.
No. 52641
File 137515899946.jpg - (146.11KB, 850x850, sample-a96c83f8da572294cbd1015171face1e.jpg) [iqdb]

There is someone, anon, who holds a grudge against not just Yukari, but, in her psychotic state, probably against everyone (simply by virtue of being in the same room as Yukari).

Pic related.

Consider that this is the same universe as Being Meiling.
No. 52642
[x] Parsee.
No. 52643
I hope not, or I will be very sad.
No. 52644

Keynaster has also said though he planned on writing a sort of redemption story for Aya. So I'm not saying for 100% certain its not her but I do highly doubt its her.

Else she's got a LOT of work to do after this for redemption
No. 52651
[X] Eiki

Aya redemption story? When did Keymaster say that?
No. 52652


Well it's not certain he will, but a good chance she will get one it seems.
No. 52653
[x] Parsee
-[x]Does she still hear the humming noise from before?
-[x]What was she worried about when she handed us the lantern?
No. 52658
[x] Parsee

She's the MVP so far, and my second favorite after Eiki.
No. 52659

In addition:

-Ask why Hatate took your sarcastic mention of a "weather-control knob" seriously.


It seems like Gensokyo has weather control, so we narrow down who can control the weather and we narrow down the suspects.
No. 52661
It was a joke. Considering the evidence, it is obvious that Aya is the most suspicious person here. However, she can't be alone because the powers are suppressed (unless EVERYONE IS LYING)

Well, that or someone who can control people, considering it took advantage of Yukari first (powers sealed) and Hatate later (she kindnapped Hina) but Koishi mindgames are kind of a cop-out
No. 52666

Eiki: 5
Lyrica: 1
Parsee: 9
Yumeko: 2
Kasen: 1
Suika: 4

Vote called for Eiki, Parsee, and Suika. Update later.
No. 52668
File 137520526577.jpg - (393.38KB, 640x800, liquid comfort.jpg) [iqdb]
(http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rKpDrVy5Urw) - again, ignore the spoken stuff at the end.

With a sigh, I lower myself to the ground, staring at the ceiling. How the hell did everything come to this? It was supposed to be a simple weekend; a group of wealthy ladies come to delve into to decadence, and then be on their way. That was it. That was all that there was to it. Nothing else.

Somehow, we've come to be hiding in the basement from a psychopathic murderer. Funny how things work out, isn't it?

I glance up at Suika, who is standing around looking nervous. And sober. "Need a drink?" I ask her.

"Like a fish needs water," Suika replies, staring at me with wide eyes.

I point to the door on the other side of the room. "The wine cellar's over there. Under the circumstances, help yourself." Suika is already on her way, with Kasen trailing after her. Good. It's better not to stay alone here.

I notice that a weary Lyrica has lowered her head into Yumeko's lap, and the maid from Makai is gently stroking her hair while keeping a close eye on the stairs. Eiki and Parsee are standing around, taking in the room. With a smile, I pat the floor to either side of me.

"May as well take a load off," I tell them. With matching smiles, Yama and Bridge Guardian take seats on either side of me.

"Think we're safe here?" Eiki asks me.

"For the moment," I reply. The only other entrance is through the door to the laundry room, which I barricaded. There's a set of steps which lead up to a different hallway." Yumeko shifts in response to my words, keeping a careful eye on that door, with the occasional look at the stairs.

"It won't be safe forever," Parsee says grimly. "Whoever this is will figure out some way to get us out of here. Maybe by smoking us out, or something."

"Maybe," I agree, "But for now, let's get our bearings." The door to the wine cellar opens again, revealing Kasen and Suika, the latter of whom has a pair of large bottles in her hands. Expensive stuff, but right now, I just don't care. Kasen goes to a corner to sit cross-legged and meditate, while Suika starts to go off on her own to drink. I smile at her. "There's more company over here," I call out to the Oni woman, and she looks at me in surprise before making her way over with a relieved smile. Kasen cracks open an eye for a moment but makes no effort to move, while Yumeko seems perfectly fine where she is with Lyrica.

Yumeko does nod to me in acknowledgement and mouths a message to me: 'I'll keep an eye on the entrances.' I nod back in gratitude. Honestly, I'm starting to feel a bit depleted.

Suika plops down in front of me. "Thanks for the invite, Alfie! It sucks drinking alone, you know?"

"I do know," I say with a smile, and consider her selections. "You have an eye for fine wine. That's some of the best we have in storage."

Suika winks at me. "Oni have a nose for good alcohol. So, who wants to share with me?" My hand goes up along with Parsee's and Eiki's and Suika laughs a bit more naturally than she has for a while. Opening one of the bottles, she takes a drink before passing it around. "So, are you our local expert on the local alcohol?" Suika queries me.

"Sort of," I agree. "What can I say? Working here gives a man a fine appreciation for good wine and good tea."

Eiki chuckles. "You'd fit in just fine in Gensokyo. It's all about the tea and alcohol there."

"More sake than wine, though," Suika comments, "not that this isn't some good stuff." She takes another swig of wine to emphasize her point.

"As long as you don't mind flesh-eating monsters," Parsee snorts.

"Well, that ain't as bad as it used to be," Suika points out. "Honestly, it's not too hard for a human and a youkai to get along, if they actually try."

I shrug. "I wouldn't know. I for one, can't imagine what it's like there. From what you say, I can't tell if it's dangerous or not."

"Some days, no one can," Eiki chuckles. "Well, I suppose it's like that all over, though. Every locale has its own dangers."

"True," I agree. "Anyway, Suika. How are you holding up?" The Oni looks up at me with a quirked eyebrow. "You've been hitting the alcohol quite hard," I tell her gently. "If I didn't know any better, I'd almost say you were trying to put up a front."

Suika stares at me for a moment before chuckling bitterly. "I guess it's a little obvious, huh?"

"Only to those good at reading people," Eiki tells her, voice gentle.

"Or to anyone used to dealing with Oni," Parsee quips.

"Yeah." Suika sighs deeply. "What can I say? I'm used to being one of the most powerful beings around. Suika Ibuki, one of the Four Devas of the Mountain. Unparalleled in physical strength, except for the other devas, and with control over density to boot." Another sigh. "I was pretty much the definition of strength. Now? I'm powerless. Helpless. Weak. I don't like it." Suika takes another long pull of wine.

Eiki nods sympathetically. "I understand, Miss Ibuki. We all do."

"Suika," the Oni corrects the Yama. "And yeah. I guess you do." She laughs bitterly. "I guess it's sort of a learning experience, huh? All those years, wondering why the humans were acting like jerks when we were just trying to make friends with them... I guess this is what they were feeling, huh? It's not a good feeling." She falls into a brooding silence.

"Making friends...?" I ask, brow furrowed in confusion.

Suika shakes her head. "Long story, Alfred. Means going through a whole lot of Japanese mythology, and that's just for starters. Let's just say that our attempts to get along with humans blew up in our faces, and we've always been a little bitter about it. I think I'm finally starting to understand why."

It sounds like a long, complex story. I take another drink of wine before leaning back against the wall. I probably should stop drinking now. "You know, I always wanted to be a painter," I say to my companions. This causes them to look up in surprise, and across the room I notice Yumeko and Lyrica perk up a little bit.

"A painter?" Parsee asks in surprise.

"Indeed," I reply, smiling. "There are two things that I love in life: the sea, and painting. Painting the sea, or painting while on the sea, is pretty much the best I could hope for in life." I look off into the distance, through the walls, into the depths of my imagination. "You see, I'm not a 'real' butler. I haven't gone to any of the butler schools or gotten an official certification. I got this job mainly through a chance meeting with Eric, and he hired me on the spot. I learned on the job, so to speak, and eventually was entrusted with serving the guests directly."

Parsee blinks. "Coulda fooled me," she says.

"I fool a lot of people," I chuckle, "Except for those who know what to look for. Yumeko had me figured out in an instant. There's something of an air around 'true' butlers, and I don't have it. However, I'm able to to appear as a reasonable facsimile. It probably runs in the blood; my grandfather was a genuine butler to the rich and famous, and I've inherited his work ethic. Basically, I knew how to act from imitating him. The rest, I learned from Eric." I shrug. "It's worked for me."

"Then this isn't what you want to do for the rest of your life," Eiki notes.

I shake my head. "My dream? Scrounge together enough money to attend a good university of Fine Arts, and make it as a painter. Maybe buy a boat and sail the world, paint scenic landscapes from my boat. That's my dream." I sigh, imagining it now.

"That sounds lovely," Eiki muses, "So you really do have your life planned out. But then, you implied as much to me earlier."

I sigh again. "Now, I just have to make it out of here to pursue that dream. All of us do." There isn't much more to be said to that. After a moment, Eiki rests her head on my shoulder, lost in thought, while Parsee rests an almost protective hand on my leg. "Why would Hina do this?" I ask out loud.

Kasen stirs from where she is meditating. "I have heard that Hina had been getting into arguments with the tengu of late. If she was attempting to increase her exposure as a goddess, that might have caused problems. The tengu are notoriously conservative, and would have taken issue with an increased flow of humans to her shrine on the mountain. Likewise, Hina had served to turn away humans from the mount for a long time. If she had desired to move elsewhere to establish a new shrine, the tengu might have also grown cross at their order being disrupted." Kasen sighs and looks over at me. "At least, that's my best guess."

"Still, doing something like this..." Suika shakes her head.

"Bitterness," Parsee says simply. "I could smell it on her. If she kept trying to make her life better, but the tengu kept getting in her way, she probably got pissed off at them. Then at youkai in general. You can do some pretty dumb things when you're feeling bitter. Especially if it's gone on long enough..." Parsee looks away as she trails off.

"And people can do foolish things when they are gripped by emotion," Eiki says sadly. "I've seen it many, many times. When Hina looked at us earlier, I saw true regret in her eyes. She knew that she had chosen poorly, and regretted her actions. Only, it was too late to change what she had done." Eiki shakes her head. "Such a tragedy..."

"I have to wonder who approached her, and what was offered," I wonder out loud. "It seems more like Hina was taken advantage of in a moment of weakness... and she knew it." I ponder a moment, then look over at Parsee. "Do you still hear that humming?"

She frowns, and places her ear against the wall. "...Yeah. It's faint, but it sounds a lot like this generator here. It's coming from somewhere underground, anyway. About level with us." I chew my lip at this revelation.

"...You looked concerned when you handed me that lantern before," I say, curious. "What are you worried about?"

Parsee looks at me for a long moment. "You. Me. Everyone." I have little to say to that.

"...We should go after those survival kits," Yumeko says at last. "They might have some materials that we could use. We should all be armed. And maybe we should set up some traps..."

"I wouldn't mind continuing our investigation," Eiki puts in. "There has to be SOMETHING that we're missing."

"I wanna figure out who's doing this," Suika grumbles. "That cloak concealed everything, but they're able to move super-fast... while the rest of our magic is sealed. Hm." The Oni chews on her lip. "Someone with something to offer Hina... who likes making bad food jokes... could be anyone, really."

I take a deep breath. Enough resting. It's time to act, now.

[ ] What is your next move?
No. 52669
Well, Youmu can move really fast... and Yuyuko loves to eat.

But I have to wonder what did they have to offer Hina? Or why they would do this? Aya is a much more likely suspect, but the author said she'd star a redemption story so...

[x] Move to get the emergency supplies
-[x] Continue the investigation where we left off: investigate Hina's last known place.

Well first we grab the kits, then we investigate Hina's place and then we look for the other subterranean generator.
No. 52670
I have the most bizarre idea that we have an anti-magic generator somewhere. Maybe built by the kappa or someone else and snuck on the grounds. Or maybe a weather generator. I guess we should scrounge around, see if anything useful can be found. Impromptu weapons and the like.
No. 52671
I'm calling an absurd twist now, this is the redemption story.
No. 52672

This just made me think of something: perhaps there is a third party. The killer's MO involves a bloody message, but Iku and Hina just disappeared. Aya (or any speedster) could be this third party. She could be seeking to capitalize on the situation or attempting to save people from the real killer. Perhaps (and this is serious blind guessing territory) the creator of the bloody messages is the "benevolent" third party, creating a scene so that people will stay on their guard.

[X] >> 52669
This seems like a good plan. Perhaps the other generator is making the anti-magic field.
No. 52674
[X] Move to get the emergency supplies
-[X] Continue the investigation where we left off: investigate Hina's last known place.

Something's been bothering me - the "anti-magic generator", if you will, wasn't in place until after Yukari and Hatate were murdered. If you're intent on killing supernatural beings, especially someone as powerful as Yukari, why wouldn't you implement that right away, instead of waiting until after the murder was discovered? Moreover, if you're someone who can just up and kill a youkai sage, why do you even need to depower everyone to begin with? And what's even capable of depowering things up to and including a transcendent judge of the dead?

This whole thing really isn't adding up.
No. 52675

NOW you're asking the right questions.
No. 52676
That was addressed with the 'Yukari is allied with the culprit, she depowered everyone by receiving magical assistance from the actual culprit'

But my favorite theory, so far, is 'Everyone is fucking with the MC' but only because it's so bad that it's good.
No. 52677
The obvious answer is that Yukari had to be out of the way before they could start up the machine. Or that they needed her or her dead body to power it. The blood and messages implying consumption are just misdirection.

And since it's a machine the obvious culprits would be Kappa. Who also happen to live near the mountain and Hina. Who also have a weather control machine. Who are building a machine powered by youkai that creates an anti-magic field because...?
No. 52678
It's quite possible Yukari would've noticed the field going up and done something about it, or he could have been immune to it (anti-magic boundary) or at least have been alerted to it costing the killer th element of surprise(or perhaps she would have alerted Ran before the field could take full effect).

We also don't have any evidence that Hatate's murder was before the field went up, it's possible that it was turned on beforehand and no-one noticed until afterwards(note that the first anyone learnt of it was when Suika punched the wall, so it's subtle).

The other factor's the storm, Aya has power over wind so in theory she could've blown it in from elsewhere, that would explain Iku's weird feeling's, the atmosphere was being messed with as well as the weather report as it shouldn't have blown this way.

For now though this humming is of most interest, and nothing else in the building would make that noise, then it's highly suspicious and probably set there by the killer. We're not in any position to make a move on it right now though, we have no way of protecting ourselves out there and it could be anywhere. We should keep Parsee close though, she's our main way of finding it when we are ready to.

[x]Ask self, is there any other basement levels to the mansion that this other humming could be coming from. Even if it's just a maintenance area or a panel leading below the floor.
-[x] Get the survival kits for now, the generator itself could become a target as soon as we move and we need to prepare to be able to move around safely if we're not bunkering down for the night.
No. 52685
[x]Ask self, is there any other basement levels to the mansion that this other humming could be coming from. Even if it's just a maintenance area or a panel leading below the floor.
-[x] Get the survival kits for now, the generator itself could become a target as soon as we move and we need to prepare to be able to move around safely if we're not bunkering down for the night.

I second this.
Also, I predict an hermit on the next menu.
No. 52686
Giant meatgrinder under the mansion, calling it now.
No. 52696
Part of me thinks "Lunarians" as they would love to increase human/youkai hostility, though sensibly i doubt that as the sisters got shamed good enough to NOT do that.
No. 52723
Calling votes! Alfred and company will finally be getting those survival kits and heading over to investigate the lounge where both Hina and Iku were taken. Along the way, speculation about what that damn humming is.
No. 52728
File 137530344768.jpg - (196.97KB, 850x1202, not an axe but eh.jpg) [iqdb]

I get to my feet and stretch out a bit. "All right, enough sitting around. We need to get moving before... whoever it is throws a bomb downstairs or some such."

"There are so many unanswered questions," Eiki muses, standing up next to me. "If the goal of this individual is our deaths, why such a roundabout tactic? Why not, as you say, throw a bomb at us?"

"I say they get off on fear," Parsee grunts. "Anyway, where to first?"

"Well, we're quite close to the servants' quarters," I muse. "No reason no to get those survival kits." There is a general murmur of agreement, and after a few moments to group together and screw up our courage, we make our way up the stairs.

The kitchen is silent. There isn't so much as a pan out of place. With the storm outside, the rain and thunder almost feel a bit... soothing, in this sterile place. Sometimes I hate such illusions.

I lead the group through a short hall into the servants' quarters. There isn't much to say about it, really. Rooms for the staff, a couple of washrooms, a small break room. More or less what you'd expect to see in a place like this.

I walk over to one of the closets and pull it open, jumping back unconsciously as the door yawns wide. I sigh and roll my eyes at my behavior. "Almost expected there to be something in there," comes my embarrassed admission

"No one here can blame you," Yumeko says quietly. I don't make an issue of it; on second glance, everyone tensed up as soon as I open the door.

Instead, I start pulling out the survival kits and riffling around in them for supplies. Some tools, flashlights, a bit of rope and some sleeping bags. Tinder and flint, a large knife, some stored water. Some warm blankets, whistles, towels, sanitary necessities, some dried food. First aid supplies as well. Perhaps most importantly, there are some two-way radios inside. Those could be helpful.

As I continue to rummage around in the kits and take stock of the supplies, Parsee calls out to me. "Hey, Alfred?"

"Yes, Parsee?" I call back.

"What does this writing say?" I glance over to where Parsee is pointing, and... oh. She's pointing to a fire-axe mounted in a wall sconce.

"It says to 'break glass in case of an emergency,' Parsee," I tell her matter-of-factly.

Parsee nods. "Good." Calmly, Parsee walks over to the break room, picks up a chair, brings it back and smashes the glass without a second of hesitation. "This qualifies." Carefully setting the chair to one side, Parsee reaches in to the sconce and oulls out the red fire axe, twirling it in her hands a little bit before turning to the rest of us with a satisfied grin. "I suddenly feel much better."

"...I don't," Lyrica cracks, staring at the axe dubiously. Parsee just chuckles and slings the axe over her shoulder.

I'm about to make my next suggestion when Kasen's voice interrupts me. "Who painted this? It's quite lovely." I glance over my shoulder to see that Kasen is admiring that landscape painting that I had made... oh, last year, sometime?

"That's mine, actually," I tell her, walking up to stare at the painting myself. "I made that while on vacation last year. Eric liked it, and asked for permission to hang it on the wall. I guess the staff here sort of regards it as a good luck charm."

All of a sudden, Eiki, Parsee, and Yumeko all seem to have taken a large interest in my amateur work, and Lyrica and Suika are giving it a close look as well. It's... a tad embarrassing, but welcome, as well. One always likes their efforts to be appreciated, no?

Kasen turns her head to face me and smiles appreciatively. "It's very fine work," she tells me, with a nod of approval.

I smile back. "Thank you."

After a moment of art appreciation, Eiki clears her throat. "All right everyone, let's head back to the lounge. There might be some clues there that we could use." There is a collective murmur of assent, and the guests begin to file out towards the kitchen. Before following, I take one last look at my amateur 'masterpiece' and gently stroke the frame.

A little luck is never amiss.

Through the kitchen, through the dining room, and down the hall. As we walk, Yumeko slides up next to me. "Alfred, do you have any idea where that humming sound could be coming from?"

I frown and shake my head. "Not a clue. I mean, I know every last inch of this house like the back of my hand. Every last crawlspace, every last cubbyhole... you name it, I know where it is. And to the best of my knowledge, there is no secondary basement, no other space for a generator. In the end... I just don't know." I chew my lip for a moment. "Although, I think that there are some old plans for the mansion stored away... yes, they're in a storage closet just off the ballroom. I don't think anyone ever consults them, though."

"It may be high time," Yumeko says grimly, "Just as it might be high time to consider who all knew that we were coming out here." The maid doesn't say anything more, because we've arrived at the lounge where two of our number were so brutally taken away from us.

The lounge looks much the same as when we last saw it, save for the fact that more rain has managed to soak the room. Also, there is one more addition: a familiar, blood-soaked ribbon, laying in the middle of the floor. This time, there is no message.

Eiki stares at it grimly for a moment before raising her head. "Fan out, and look for anything out of the ordinary. And I do mean anything." With silent nods, the lot of us spread out and being searching the room, looking for anything that could possibly be out of place. A footprint, a dropped object, a scrap of cloth... anything that could shed some much-needed light on this situation.

We don't have much luck.

While Yumeko continues to search, I straighten up with a sigh. "Whoever did this is talented indeed," I admit. "Perhaps we should head upstairs; those plans might hold a clue-"

"There's some scuffing by this wall," Yumeko interjects.

I turn to stare at her. "Scuffing?"

"Yeah." Yumeko stares at the floor by the wall in confusion, chewing on her lip. "Some serious scuffing on the floor. Not quite sure what to make of it, either."

And then a door slams, loudly. From the sound of things, it came from the east wing of the mansion, on the first floor. It sounded very close.

[ ] Block the door and see what this "scuffing" is all about.
[ ] Investigate as a group.
[ ] Stay together and go for the plans.
No. 52730
[x] Investigate as a group.
-[x] The scuffing
[x] Do it quickly and move out, all targets were killed while lingering in a place for too long: you got to keep moving.
-[x] To find the maps.

I hope this clue is worth losing a member, because that's what will happen if they don't move out soon.
No. 52734
[X] Block the door and see what this "scuffing" is all about.

needless to say , everyone needs to regroup fast.
No. 52735
[x] Stay together and go for the plans.

I think the noise is a distraction.
No. 52740
Remember your tropes.

"You should never say, 'Who's there?' Don't you watch scary movies? It's a death wish. You might as well go outside to investigate a strange noise or something."

[x] Stay together and go for the plans.
No. 52742
[x] Stay together and go for the plans.

Perfect time for someone to go take a shower.
No. 52744
Or try and get laid.

[]Barricade the door as a group
-[]investigate the scuffs
-[ ]preoare to move out for the plans
No. 52765
3-3 tie. Drat. Next one takes it, then.
No. 52766
[X] Block the door and see what this "scuffing" is all about.
No. 52768
[x] Investigate as a group.
No. 52769
No. 52770

This guy got in first, so we'll be investigating the scuffing for now!

Vote called, update later.
No. 52771
File 137538493312.jpg - (297.70KB, 700x933, idea.jpg) [iqdb]

For a moment there is dead silence in the room. No one moves. No one dares to do so much as breathe. I glance over at Parsee with a question in my eyes, and she shakes her head in response. 'No footsteps,' she mouths back at me.

All right, then. No need to go looking, either.

"It's an obvious trap," I murmur, "So let's not head out and spring it. Parsee, Suika, can you block the door, please?" The two nod and move to comply, sliding a couch over the last unblocked doorway.

There is another sound of a door slamming from the east wing, and then silence.

"It was trying to lure us out?" Eiki suggests.

"Probably," Kasen agrees. "We may be too strong as a group for it to overwhelm. Therefore, it's trying to draw us out, make us expose ourselves."

"Suggesting further that what we are dealing with is far from all-powerful," I say with a frown. After a moment, I shake my head and walk over to stand beside Yumeko. "What did you find?" I ask the maid.

"Right here," Yumeko says, tapping the ground. I kneel down beside her and frown. There is indeed some severe scuffing right by the wall. Several threads of the rug have been pulled up completely, and the whole area shows signs of wear. But it's contained to the area right beside the wall...

"So while we're waiting, let us discuss who precisely knew about this trip," Eiki says from behind us.

"Who didn't know?" Suika snorts. "Yukari got the idea from a couple of pamphlets in that shopkeeper's store, and Marisa and the kappa are in and out of there all the time, among other people. Even odds that they all knew about it. Reimu knew about it, and whoever she woulda talked to."

"Miss Shinki was in on it of course, as was Miss Yuyuko and her servant," Yumeko puts in. "A few other Makai denizens found out as well."

"I'm quite certain that Iku would have told Tenshi and several Celestials, at that..." Eiki murmurs, "And through Hatate, the tengu and much of Youkai Mountain would have known."

"Well, my sisters know, as do a few of the ghosts around Gensokyo," Lyrica puts in. "Heck, Yukari was wandering around the human village looking for inspiration at a couple of the shops there, so there's probably a few humans with a grudge that know."

"Komachi and several of my co-workers knew where I was going," Eiki muses, "But I can't see any of them doing something of this magnitude. Actually, I can't see any of those we have mentioned doing something like this."

Parsee glances at Suika. "You told Yuugi, right?"

"Yeah," Suika nods, "And a buncha other Oni were there listening in."

Parsee sighs. "Plus, I wasn't her first choice. Yukari had actually gone to the palace to see if Reiuji wanted to come, and Komeiji pretty much ran her off. She took one look at me on her way out, and invited me along. I figured why the hell not, so here I am. Thanks, Yukari." The blonde rolls her eyes.

"I didn't know that," Suika says, giving Parsee a sympathetic look. "So you feel like a substitute, huh?"

"I AM a substitute," Parsee grumbles, looking away. "Story of my life. And even then, it all turns out like this." She glances at me for a moment, before quickly looking away.

"What it all comes down to is that Yukari's secret was anything but," Kasen notes. "Which means that any number of individuals could have done this. What we need to consider is who could have had the resources to do such a thing. And who had a motive." There is nothing but silence to meet this proclamation.

"...If it turns out that little darkness youkai just got hungry, I'm going to shoot somebody," Lyrica says blandly. There is a round of laughter at this.

"I'm just going to smile and nod, and pretend I know who you're talking about," I say, smiling and nodding.

Eiki gives me an embarrassed look. "Sorry Alfred. Just a list of people we know in Gensokyo. We still don't know who could have done this." Eiki looks thoughtful. "Hmmm... stopping the weather, sealing magic, and bursts of super-speed... but only bursts, like they can't be sustained. All of that suggests a collection of powers rather than just one, but this doesn't feel as though we're dealing with multiple murderers. Otherwise, multiple people would have been taken at once."

I shrug. "Well, you're the ones who know Gensokyo. Talk about it, and let me know what you think."

"Speaking of what people think..." Yumeko glances at the wall. "What do you think, Alfred?"

"I think it's impossible," I say, shaking my head.

"What are you talking about?" Lyrica asks.

"The scuffing on the ground," Yumeko says, "Like something had been hastily dragged over the rug. It wasn't there before Hina was taken, and it's confined to this area near the wall."

Lyrica stares at her for a moment, then shakes her head. "I see where you're going with this, and I have to say no. There just wouldn't be enough room for it."

"But-" Yumeko begins.

"Miss Yumeko," I say gently, "There are no secret passages in this house. Yes, it was originally constructed with a wide array of servants' passages, which is where such legends come from. However, the house has been subject to many renovations over the years, and those passages were removed to expand the rooms. So no, we are not dealing with a proverbial rat in the wall."

Kasen walks over to us and stares at the wall speculatively. Raising her bandaged hand, she raps it against the wall. "It that case, why is this wall hollow?"


"What?!" I choke out, "Miss Kasen, that is completely impossible! There's just no room for any sort of passage, and it would be filled with utility pipes in any case..."

"The walls are actually somewhat thick," Kasen muses, "So there would be just a little bit of room. If there were some sort of passage, it would be a tight squeeze, and yet..." Kasen reaches up, and pounds the higher part of the wall. Then the lower. She 'hmmms' to herelf a bit, and feels along the wall, lower to the ground. Then she stops. "There's a seam here."

"Impossible," I breathe. "This house sees regular maintenance! Something like that would have been noticed!"

"...Unless it's new," Lyrica says slowly. "Given how well put together this whole thing was, what with the storm and all-"

"Someone may have specially prepared the house for us without anyone knowing about it," Eiki finishes grimly. "Miss Kasen, can you find anything?"

Before my astonished eyes, Kasen continues to probe around the wall, searching for a catch of some sort. Suddenly, her eyes widen and she flicks something behind a wooden panel.

With a click, part of the wall slides open ever so slightly, the highest part of the concealed door about waist-height.

Quick as lightning, a black-gloved hand shoots out, seizes Kasen, and yanks her inside.

The door slams shut.

We can hear struggling form within the wall.

No. 52772
-[X] Find the switch behind the wooden panel and use it to open the door, FAST
No. 52773

Parsee, time to use that axe!
No. 52774
[x]Axe the wall around the door.

The passage is thin, so the killer would have to have grabbed Kasen from the side. Kasen's struggling means she's still near the door, so the killer must be near the door to reach. By threatening the killer with the possibility of being chopped s/he could decide to drop Kasen and run, if it weren't for plot armour we could even end up hitting it and doing any amount of damage. Hitting Kasen's a risk but if we don't do anything she's a goner anyway and any other attempt to open the door is risky as we can't gang up on it in such a small passage.
No. 52775
[X] Have Parsee axe the door open.
--[X] Then send in Suika with a knife or other small weapon.

Suika's the strongest one here, and I think she already has a knife, and time is of the essence. Axes suck in small spaces, so Parsee needs to bring up the rear.
No. 52776
[🔍]Axe the wall around the door.
My heart stopped.
No. 52777
[X] Have Parsee axe the door open.
-[X] If axing the door doesn't' work, use the axe and/or a knife to wedge the door open.
[X] The rest look for a switch or weak spot in the wall near the door.
No. 52778
[x]Obviously, after the door is open, everyone rushes in with you in front.

If someone has to die, then he'd choose himself, that's for sure.
No. 52780
[x]Get that door open, NOW.

No. 52782
[X] Have Parsee axe the door open.
[X] When it is opened, everyone rush in with Alfred on point.

I have all confidence in Parsee's hacking skills
No. 52783
[X] Have Parsee axe the door open.
[X] If it's possible to do so without getting in Parsee's way, look for the switch.
[X] Suika goes in first with a knife; she's small enough to move easily in the walls. Everyone else follows after her.
No. 52785
[X] Have Parsee axe the door open.
[X] When it is opened, everyone rush in with Alfred on point.

No, no, no, not Kasen, absolutely fucking not.
No. 52786
We cannot say we didn't see it coming.
No. 52788
File 137540714088.png - (778.78KB, 800x1280, go down fighting.png) [iqdb]




Dammit, not again! Where's the catch, I don't know where the catch is, I don't know how to open the damned thing!

"PARSEE!" I shout, panicked. The bridge guardian is already moving, eyes blazing, teeth gritted, axe in hand. With absolute fury, the youkai woman screeches to a halt in front of the wall, rears back, and slams the axe into the secret door.

Within the wall itself, the struggle continues. I hear muffled shouting and loud thumps.

Parsee strikes with her axe. Again. And again. Bits of wood fly off as the axe digs ever deeper into the wall.

It isn't fast enough.

"Please, hurry!" Lyrica all but shrieks.

"SHUT UP, I'M GOING AS FAST AS I CAN!" Parsee screams back. She hammers with the axe again.

And again.

And again.

She's being smart about it; striking low so that she's making sure to hit where the door actually is. But Parsee can only go so fast, and it's




Dammit, I have no idea how to open this thing! How the hell did someone manage to put in a goddamned secret passage without anyone in the household knowing about it?! How the hell is this happening at all?!

Inside the wall, I hear Kasen shriek in alarm, a muffled sound.

Then, silence.

"Dammit, don't you give up on me, you stupid hermit!" Parsee shouts, nearly screaming, Her face is bright red with both emotion and exertion, and her eyes pulse with a frantic rage.

She's hitting the wall with everything that she has, with every last drop of strength that she can muster.

But it




A sound of liquid splashing against the inside of the wall is painfully audible to all of us.

Parsee doesn't stop pounding on the door. If anything, she's giving it even more strength, her blows given the might of a frantic hate. "Not again..." I hear her breathe, "Not again..."

Eiki's hand is squeezing my arm tightly, so hard that it hurts. I don't care; I don't want her to let go. Yumeko is on my other side, and she's taken my hand. We're squeezing each other very tightly. Again, no complaints.

Suika and Lyrica are holding each other, staring at the concealed door with desperation in their eyes. A deperation that I know, instinctively, is mirrored in my own expression.

Not again.


Not again.

Not right in front of us, dammit!

Not like this!

With a howl of rage, Parsee brings the axe down one last time, and it punches through the wall into an open space behind it.

In a twisted form of retaliation, the smell of blood punches me in the nostrils.

Parsee keeps hacking away, her arms finally starting to show weakness, opening the hole she has made. Within the wall comes the definite shine of lighting. Someone has set a lamp up in there, or something.

After a few more whacks with the axe, Parsee slows to a halt. Slowly, carefully, Yumeko detaches from me and quietly walks towards the hole. Parsee holds her axe ready, and Yumeko hesitantly peers through, looking for something. After a moment, the maid reaches into the concealed space with rapid movements. There is the rattle of a latch, and the door pulls outward.

Oh, I see where the release lever was. Pretty obvious, when you know how to do it.

Slowly, rigidly, I step forward. I think about Kasen. I barely got a chance to know her. Kasen, analytical, trying hard to be the detective. Kasen, so disciplined, but with a core of decency beneath her exterior. Kasen, who had liked my painting. I had some better ones I would have liked to show her.

I get on my knees next to Yumeko and peer into the hole

It's cramped, to be sure. The actual walkway looks to be built into the foundations. It looks new. From the opening, a few short steps built into the wall lead down to the walkway, which continues deeper into the mansion. A string of lights provides illumination in the cramped quarters. I see definite signs that piping and wiring has been carefully moved to the side, allowing this unwanted renovation to the mansion to be made.

If I were to duck down into the walkway, my shoulders would be about level with the floor. This is how our assailant has gotten around. This is how the murderer has struck twice in this room which was supposed to be protected. Who the hell would have the resources to do this?

However, all this is secondary to me. What really is locked into my mind is the fresh blood, splattered on the floor and across the walls of this secret hallway. There is a lot of it.

Of Kasen's body, there is no sign.

[ ] Scream.
[ ] After the passage! After that bastard!
[ ] Wait. Take a closer look at this thing, search for clues.
[ ] No. Withdraw. Go somewhere else. (Write-in).


[ ] Choose a woman to talk to. (Again, the top three will be chosen; conversations will be worked into the coming updates)
No. 52790
[X] Wait. Take a closer look at this thing, search for clues.
[X] Lyrica

Lyrica is likely the most mentally fragile of the group remaining. Suika is an Oni and is likely to just continue to drink her troubles away. Eiki is the judge of the dead, so she's probably seen the horrors that man can create and is used to it. Yumeko is holding together, and Parsee is well being herself.

Honestly the two we should talk to the most right now are Lyrica and Parsee as they probably haven't seen as much death as the others. At least, not death like this.
No. 52792
[x] After the passage! After that bastard!
[X] Parsee

Whoever made off with Kasen is carrying or dragging her, so he/she is probably slowed. The culprit also most definitely used a weapon to pacify her as well, which means it's likely that it isn't all that strong physically.

This whole situation stinks, someone arrived before Alfred and set up the entire house extensively. I'm getting "Cabin in the Woods" vibes.
No. 52797
[X] Wait. Take a closer look at this thing, search for clues.
[X] Parsee

Considering everything we know so far, I can't help but wonder if a kappa had a hand in any of this.
No. 52801
[x] After the passage! After that bastard!
Fuck fuck fuck this
No. 52802
[X] Wait. Take a closer look at this thing, search for clues.
[X] Lyrica

I don't know if we want to just run in blindly. If this person went to the trouble of carving out an entire network of hidden passages I'd give even odds it's full of traps. Plus the culprit's had maybe fifteen or twenty seconds of headway at this point - more than enough time to duck out somewhere else or otherwise misdirect us.

Someone went to a LOT of effort to set all this up. Building passages into a pre-existing mansion's foundations? Redoing wiring and plumbing? Even with a team that kind of work takes time and effort - not something you could up and do over the weekend. Our culprit either has access or knows someone that has access to that kind of manpower, and said manpower is so skilled that their work has gone unnoticed until now.

If it wasn't clear this is a setup before, it is now.
No. 52804
[x] After the passage! After that bastard!
[x] Yumeko
No. 52807
[x] Wait. Take a closer look at this thing, search for clues.
[x] Eiki

We have to be smart about this. The culprit is long gone and rushing in will in no way guarantee our safety or Kasen's. We're in the metaphorical lion's den, so safety is paramount.

> "This house sees regular maintenance! Something like that would have been noticed!"

It would actually be pretty easy to sneak a secret passage in if this place sees regular maintenance. Nobody would question a few odd inspections here and there. And who would go looking for secret passages, anyway?
No. 52808
Fuck everything.
No. 52809
[x] After the passage! After that bastard!
[x] Suika
No. 52811
[X] Wait. Take a closer look at this thing, search for clues.
[X] Parsee
No. 52813
[X] Wait. Take a closer look at this thing, search for clues.
[X] Eiki

Well, that went to hell.
No. 52815
[X] Wait. Take a closer look at this thing, search for clues.
I feel so bad for mocking Kasen's demise now....
When we will face the mastermind, my only choice will be to remove his/her innards barehanded.
No. 52817
[x] After the passage! After that bastard!
[x] Suika
No. 52823
[x] After the passage! After that bastard! If it can attack you when you're looking right at it then you may as well go on the offensive. Better to die angry than afraid.

[x] Parsee, she's got an axe and better night vision.
No. 52837
>[ ] After the passage! After that bastard!

...I hate it when I make stupid typos like that. Obviously, it should read INTO the passage, but I think people grasped that.

Anyway, vote tally stands as follows:


So Parsee and Eiki are a lock, and there's slight majority for stopping to investigate, so we'll be doing that. Could someone cast the tie-breaking vote between Suika and Lyrica? Thanks.
No. 52839
[x] Suika
No. 52840

And done. I'll update a little later today, in a new thread.
No. 52843
File 137547393763.jpg - (332.88KB, 850x1216, at least you tried.jpg) [iqdb]
New Thread:


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