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File 137524772495.jpg - (44.78KB, 367x500, at least she isnt quite so bad now.jpg) [iqdb]
52704No. 52704
Part One: >>47924

------------

[-y-] Keep on driving. You're just being paranoid.
It was a 2/2/2 vote. I picked the two that didn't send all the bear in the city on your tail, and flipped a coin. Never mind, someone voted. I was too far along to change it, but I'm glad it settled itself.

------------

You shouldn't react so rashly to this car. Granted, you are quite certain that it is following you. However, you are on a major highway circling a large city. The chance that you might see two of the same cars behind you is larger than zero.

Instead, you decide to try to play things safely. Turning away from you introspection of the vehicle in your mirror, you start looking at the road signs to see how far it is to the next exit. "…Alright, that seems like it's the best way out of here…"

Minoriko frowns a bit as she tries to lean forward and check the car herself. "So, we're going to keep driving? I have the feeling that we can't exactly get away as it is."

"No, we can't. She's a good truck, but Lisa is not built for doing such things. Even if we dumped the trailer, with Letty along with it, we probably couldn't get away."

"Pity." She snorts a bit as she continues to try and look. "So, instead, we are changing our route? They've already spotted us; I don't think that it's going to help very much."

"I doubt it will. However, I'd rather at least put some room between us and the high population areas. I'd rather have as little trouble going on in case we have to do anything at all."

She idly nods as she continues looking about. "…Are you asking me to stop it once we are out of sight of people then? I believe that I can accomplish such a thing, although it would take a great deal of power to try and stop whoever it is."

"I might ask you to do that. I don't suppose that you can do anything like that fairy did? Or are you just going to throw potatoes at them until they finally stop following?"

Minoriko snorts and doesn't respond for a few minutes as you finally turn off the main roadway. As you glance behind, you notice that the car does eventually appear in your mirror, even though it does take it quite a while to chug down the ramp. "…Hardly. Although, doing so would weaken me greatly. There's only so much that I can do with this believe." Seconds later, she continues somewhat reluctantly. "…However, I could perform that brand of magic. It would not do anything permanent, although it would leave our pursuer quite bruised."

Personally, you'd much rather them be incapacitated. If you manage to have them set someone onto your tail… Well, you would rather not say. "I'd rather not kill them, if that's what you mean. We have enough troubles going on as it is."

"…I do not aim to kill. What do you think I am?" At your snort, she just shakes her head. "That is a problem, isn't it?"

"We don't have time for this now." You turn left and start heading northeast, going away from the city as quickly as you can. "There's no guarantee that this will throw them off our trail. We are just on a state highway. We'll be crossing under the interstate soon. That was our original destination anyways. But we're not going that way yet."

She purses her lips, but she doesn't say anything against you. "Very well. It seems like we're just stuck waiting and seeing what this man wants to do, doesn't it?"

"Indeed." You fall silent as you continue to roll along the road, slowly making your way through the afternoon traffic. Nothing spectacular seems to be occurring, and instead you wait to see if the vehicle that has been shadowing you the entire time fades away and onto the off ramp. As you drive by the exit, and your tail follows you thirty seconds later, your mouth thins. "Suspicious enough, it seems. Still can't be completely sure, but it seems like we've a tail on our rear."

The girl that is yet awake sighs a bit, as if she expected nothing left. How unfortunate. If I didn't know better, I'd think that the one poor goddess was accompanying us as well. However, as that does not seem to be the case…" Reaching up with one hand, she gives the one laying on her shoulder one good shake. "Wake up, sister. Seems like we've already been found."

"I know. I had planned to wait it out." Shizuha immediately pulls herself straight, not bothering to wipe the sleep from her eyes or even yawn. It is somewhat unsettling how quickly the switch had been flipped. "You two are not exactly the quietest of conversationalists, after all."

A smudge or red tinges your ears at the slight rebuke, but now's not the time for dithering. "Well, that makes the job easier for the two of us. Go ahead and wake up Rengeteki, Shizuha. I'd rather not have her barely awake and wondering what's going on if something does happen." Well, it would also be nice to have Miss Laser Beam up and ready to shoot at somebody that is not you."

The elder sister nods and begins to shake awake the little girl as you turn your attention back to the road in front of you. Now that you are past the outside boundaries of the city, you notice to your satisfaction that many of the vestiges of civilization fade away into the woodwork. Where once were houses and shopping centers are now farmlands and the occasional gas station. Nearly ten minutes later, you find one that is appropriately deserted and pull off. "Well, let's take care of this now. If they aren't following us, they'll drive on by. Even though I doubt that would be the case at all."

"Are… are these the ones that took your…" The small voice of the fairy trails off as you glance at her. "I mean… Is this another man who tried to take me away?"

"No idea. However, I can't think of who would be following us, at least at this juncture." A bit of uncertainty creeps into you voice as you think of a few you've angered over the years. It's not as if you've not your own share of enemies that you've made. "Well, like I said, we'll see soon enough."

The trailer barely manages to squeeze under the crumbling roof of the station you've picked as your stop. It certainly has seen better days, especially as the price for regular on the ancient sign is under a dollar and fifty. There's no one that'd be around here, as anything of value would have been picked clean if the owners simply didn't take it when they left. Angled around the far side so that you can pull straight out and into the road, you barely have to turn your head to look back down as the car approaches.

A curse passes your lips as he slows down and turns into the lot. Seems that your paranoia wasn't for nothing after all. "Great. …You two stay here for now. I'll see what the man wants." A thought comes to mind and you turn to look between the two. "…Minoriko? That gun behind the seat is yours if anyone asks."

"…Ok? Why bother mentioning it?" The girl looks on in confusion as you shake your head and open the door. You slide down onto the broken concrete before walking towards the car. A few seconds later, you hear the opposite door open up, which make you curse under your breath once more.

You have to put them out of mind as a familiar man in a black suit steps on out of the car. Glancing inside the front window of his vehicle, you see that he is alone. That, and the lack of a gun being drawn and pointed at your head encourage you enough to speak first. "So, mind telling me why you've been following us? I'm pretty sure that is getting too close to stalking for a judge to find favorable."

"An interesting accusation coming from you, Mr. Stevens. I doubt there are many judges that would find much favorable with you." The man adjusts his glasses a little before folding his hands together in front of him. "However, I did say we would be in touch. This is merely a bit sooner than we expected."

"…I imagine." Well, they are certainly as forthcoming as the last time. "So, what makes you approach me so soon, then? It isn't as if I have been causing any trouble."

The man shakes his head, his expression never changing one bit. "It is your very actions that caused our renewed interest. After all, you left your home in such a hurry that we couldn't help but to take notice. You, and your friends, are persons of interest. We can hardly turn a blind eye, even if you merely have yet to cause any damage on a scale that some of the others. Or have you not paid attention to the news in the past few days."

"It would be hard to miss it. Although, I can't bother to stomach watching it for hours on end. How many times can you listen to the same thing said a couple of dozen times over with only the barest change in the actual information being provided."

"Very well. At least you are aware of it. It is hardly my job to make you aware of some of the tragedies that have taken place already. However, the damage is not widespread yet, and will not become any greater, so long as we contain it appropriately."

"So you are the ones involved with that. I had wondered…" Grumbling, you shove your hands in your pockets and look at the ground. "How did you manage to find us so quickly then? It's not like we stand out that much. Or did another concerned neighbor tip you off?"

The man shakes his head and begins to circle around you, his feet nearly soundless on the concrete. "Not this time. You gave yourself away with your phone call to try and locate your parents. You then gave specific directions that you were headed to this city." After a moment, he deices to clarify. "Lexington, not Paris."

Well, perhaps it was a little dumb to come up this direction. However, you would have thought that anyone that was following you would have moved on from a stakeout, especially if there were other things that were slightly more important. "Then why wait? If it was obvious that I wasn't showing up, you should have moved on."

"We were able to track the passive transmissions made by your phone. It was easy enough to see that you were deviating from your declared path. It is on file that you are a quite the professional liar, so we didn't take your words at face value. Besides, you performed a similar trick back in Sacramento."

Now that was a long time ago. Back before… Well, before quite a lot. "I'm surprised you dug that far. …Was that before or after Buffalo?"

"After. It was a few months before you were caught." He smiles thinly, the first sign of emotion that he has shown the entire time. "I'm sure that your parole officer would not look kindly on you aiding some that may prove to be a threat to the country."

Alright, that one line of thought is going too far. "Never mind that. You are aware of what was done to my family? If they were taken by you…"

His smile disappears as his face returns to that placid and unreadable state. "Not myself, personally, but they were suspected of being in prolonged contact with one of our targets. They were taken for examination, if that happens to be the case."

"…Examination. They were taken prisoner, then. Which is something I imagine you want of us."

"Precisely." He sighs and looks behind you, staring at your truck. "Those girls are almost certainly targets, and it would be for the greater good if they were quarantined. We do not wish to have anything else happen that could be unanticipated."

"I bet." You frown as you glance back. Shizuha seems to be sitting down as primly as always, even if you can see her eyes peering out at you. Rengeteki is nowhere to be seen, although you can't see the interior so well. The younger sister is watching from the opposite side, although you're far away enough that they can hear nothing, assuming their hearing is normal. Not really the best of assumptions, considering their claims. "However, you took my family simply because they had contact with the one girl. Something tells me that you'd have me turn myself in, correct?"

The man stares you down and eventually nods. "That would be the case. You might have been affected in some manner we cannot predict. We would have to clear that up before we could even think of letting you go. Professional standards, of course. Nothing else would be acceptable."

"…You've got a long thing coming if you think I'm going to volunteer to go back to prison." You don't even have to give the matter at hand a thought to know what you want to do. "I had enough of that place the first time around. And I wouldn't do anything that might even raise the possibility of myself going back."

The frown on the man's face deepens just a bit as he contemplates what to respond with. "Truly? You've no care for the fates of others that might be within our power at the moment? Or is such a thought simply beyond your grasp?"

That is enough of a threat that your hackles raise, but you restrain yourself. He has made no move against you yet, after all. "It doesn't mean a thing what you say. And even if I give myself up, you're not proposing to release them." You cross your arms over your chest as you stare up at the man. "You're showing a lot of sticks, but there are no carrots you've given me so far. There's no reason why I should turn myself and them in."

"We had hoped that you might consider that the situation is far vaster than one such as you would comprehend. It would be better to leave everything under our control." His frown slowly grows into a thin smile. "Although, nothing I say will convince you, will it?"

"It will not." After glaring at him for a few seconds, you have enough and turn around. "We're through here. It's just the one of you, anyways, so it's not like you can take us into custody. I may not care enough for these girls to throw my life away for them, but I am not going to throw mine own away at the same time."

"A pity." You freeze in your tracks as you hear the unmistakable sound of metal sliding out of leather. Turning about, you find yourself staring down the barrel of a gun. "It will only take myself, anyway. The ones that are accompanying you will not be able to help you at all. They are not strong as the others that we have dealt with. The moment that I notice them try to summon some sort of magic to help, whether it be some energy orbs that they seem fond of or some other power that we are not completely aware of."

There's not much that you can do besides holding your hands up in the air. Silently, you try to tell yourself that this is much better than the last time you had to look down the barrel of a gun. At least you were expecting it at some point. "That I see. And what do you hope to accomplish, then? We're going to be in a standoff for quite a while."

He shakes his head as he holds the gun as steady as a rock. "Incorrect. Sooner or later one of them will react. They always have. We have noticed that many of these beings create irrational attachments to the citizens that take them in.  The former will go out of their way to protect them, curiously enough.  Wherever they may be from, it is different enough from this world that they cannot help themselves from taking to the locals." His eyes dart over your shoulder to look at the two girls. You are unwilling to even dare to look back and see their reaction. "You might want to tell them to stop flying. I am aware of how to shoot up, after all."

Before you say anything, he nods. "Good. Best to save all of that for testing. Although, there doesn't seem to be anything too special about your companions. Two sisters, along with that little girl that I saw slip past that bumper? Dangerous, perhaps, but not enough. There was one subject that managed to elude our capture, and killed dozens of our agents, and that was with a risk profile much higher than these two have."

"…Far be it from me to ask, but what happened to that one?" You've no choice but to continue talking it out. You can almost see Rengeteki using that blast right now, but you don't know if she can get clear with you being shot in retaliation. And there is little you can do, being so far. If you were closer, you could try and go in for the hit… At that, you slowly try to edge forward, but are stopped when he shakes his head and then the gun once more.

"Not a step closer. As for that subject? Its fangs were stayed once it laid eyes on the citizen that took it in. Fortunate, as it gave enough of a chance to put it down before it did anymore damage. But that's enough for now. Start calling them over, one by one. Or you die. Something tells me that you don't have it in you to be a hero."

There's not much of that you can deny, at least. You're only in this to take care of yourself, after all. At least, so you believe. A thought crosses your mind, making you wonder if the others care enough to try and help you. Given your experience, that's something very doubtful.

Seconds later, though, you know something odd. On the side of the gun is the slightest hint of frost. You do your best to resist smiling and instead look back at him, wondering how long you can stall. "Well, now, it depends on which ones are out. And I'd probably have to make sure to call the most dangerous one over. …Besides, what are you planning to do? Put them in cuffs? Fat lot of good that will do."

"I am not that dumb, Mr. Stevens. They will be suitably incapacitated. And if they complain, I might have to shoot them instead." He nods slightly as he looks over the three that he can see, not noticing as frost continues to creep over his gun. "Very well then. The little one with the purple wings, the girl with the hat, or the angry girl without one?"

After a few moments of contemplating, you finally let out a small smirk. "What about the one with lavender hair?"

"Lavender… hair?" His eyes widen in shock as he glances about, looking for Letty. "There's another― Of course there is. You have a trailer, and that frost can't be because you left the A/C on. Wouldn't it even work while it is…" The blathering comes to a stop as he points the pistol at you once more, although you notice he is focused on his hand then on you. "And whoever it is is doing something to my… The accident in the mountains. The same one, then." Casting aside his thoughts, he looks back at you and pulls the trigger.

Your smirk widens, as the trigger doesn't even move. "Seems that your thoughts are clicking. Too bad that the action isn't as well." Freed of the worry of being shot, you march towards him. He continues to try and fire a few times before throwing the gun to the side. However, the frost had traveled further, and it was frozen to his hand. In frustration, he does his best to work past the encroaching frostbite and grips the gun solidly before swinging it at you head.

Dodging just to the side, you deflect his arm to your left before rearing back with your own fist. While hardly subtle, the haymaker to the stomach is enough to wind him in his rather frazzled state. You grab his head as he doubles over and immediately bring it to your knee, smashing his nose in the process. A shove and a kick later, and you send him sprawling to the grown. "…Hardly what I prefer. Where is my sap when I need it."

While you consider continuing the pummeling, you notice that the frost is continuing to spread over his body. Before he even can get to his feet, you notice that his breath is slowing and that ever movement is exerting even more effort from him. By the time he gets to his knees, the man collapses as his skin takes on a blue tint. "…I see that you decided to help, Letty. Decided to come out to see what the trouble was?"

"Indeed. It was quite lonely in the back. At least with the fairy I would have had some company. But all by myself…" You turn back and see the girl standing a few feet away with that wide smile on her face. "Although, with the company that you seem to keep, maybe I shouldn't be complaining."

"Hardly the time, I think." You glance towards the others, noticing that they are quickly running forward. For all the man's speech, the only one that looks composed is Shizuha. "So, did you all manage to hear what he said?"

"Bits and pieces. You speak rather softly when it is not Minoriko you are conversing with." Shizuha smiles a bit thinly as she looks down at the man. "Although, I take it we truly are being hunted now, correct?"

"Correct." Looking down, you try and think of what to do with him. You notice that he is still breathing, so he's not quite dead yet. Why would Letty stop, though? "We just need to keep going, and be careful whenever we see something that looks like trouble."

Minoriko just crosses her arms as she stares at you. "I should have just taken him out earlier, and we wouldn't have had to deal with any of this. I think Rengeteki would be quite upset if you were killed right now."

You can't help but to roll your eyes at her. "We did the best we could, although I could have been more careful. …At least we know what their intentions are now." A sigh passes your lips as you wipe your forehead off. You seem to have become a bit rusty gauging the situation, either due to lack of practice or to age starting to catch up. "However… Why'd you bother helping, Letty? It just doesn't quite fit your…"

Worryingly enough, her smile widens. "Well, you are an interesting one, and I'd hate for your time to be cut too short." You can practically hear her qualifying that in your head, but you decide to not ask whether you need her permission first. "Although, I need to finish the job. We don't need anyone telling any tales."

"Considering the only tales they don't know are the ones that involve you, such a proclamation is hardly surprising." Sighing, you stare down at him as you consider your options.

[ ] Let him be. There's more to be gained by letting him live. Besides, you wouldn't mind some amount of lenience given in the future.
[ ] Have Letty take care of him. She'd probably enjoy it, and it'd keep her happy. He isn't that important to keep alive.
[ ] Do it yourself. Something tells you it'll be bloody if you decide to do this the hard way. Might as well finally get your hands dirty.
Expand all images
>>No. 52715
[x] Ask Letty if she'd rather take him out herself or have you do it.
>>No. 52717
[x ] Let him be. There's more to be gained by letting him live. Besides, you wouldn't mind some amount of lenience given in the future.

Honestly, killing isn't NEARY worth the sheer amount of shit that would fall on our heads.

Question is, do the other girls feel the same way?
>>No. 52722
[x] Let him be. There's more to be gained by letting him live. Besides, you wouldn't mind some amount of lenience given in the future.
-[x] If necessary, remind the girls of this:
>Honestly, killing isn't NEARLY worth the sheer amount of shit that would fall on our heads.
>>No. 52726
[X] Do it yourself.
If someone had tried to kill me and failed for whatever reason, I would retaliate in kind.
>>No. 52727
>>52726

We kill this guy and the next time they bring more guys with the big guns, guys presumably not happy about us killing their friend/comrade/co-worker.
>>No. 52731
>>52727
If we tie him up or let him leave the result will be the same: after some time of not hearing of their buddy the will move out to find us, with a stronger force.
Leaving him alive only decreases our time left because he can escape before they find him/give up on him being alive AND give information about Letty and plan wow to deal with her.
>>No. 52748
>>52731
Very good point. If we kill him, we starve them of information they could use against us.

[X] Do it yourself.
>>No. 52764
[x] Have Letty take care of him. She'd probably enjoy it, and it'd keep her happy. He isn't that important to keep alive.

I'm going to guess we're in deep shit anyway. Honestly, this agent guy doesn't seem like he'll do us any favors if we spare him.
>>No. 52836
[x] Let him be. There's more to be gained by letting him live. Besides, you wouldn't mind some amount of lenience given in the future.
-[x] If necessary, remind the girls of this:
>Honestly, killing isn't NEARLY worth the sheer amount of shit that would fall on our heads.

>>52731
You're assuming a bit much as if that was the case then it'd be railroading and I doubt it's like that.
>>No. 53087
[x] Let him be. There's more to be gained by letting him live. Besides, you wouldn't mind some amount of lenience given in the future.

Think big picture here. Touhous are popping up all over, and he's part of an organization that aims to stop the wanton destruction. That's a perfectly reasonable goal, and leaving him alive shows that we're capable of showing good amounts of restraint and/or compassion. That might put us a few ticks lower on the priority list for capture.

>>52836
Different anon, but no. That'd be the agent following standard protocol. If you pursue a target and they get away, you report to your superiors. Don't expect the actors in the story to inexplicably change their actions for our convenience.
>>No. 53650
File 137625004133.png - (38.53KB, 152x126, kinda scraping the bottom of the barrel here.png) [iqdb]
53650
[-z-] Let him be. There's more to be gained by letting him live. Besides, you wouldn't mind some amount of lenience given in the future.

------------

"…Leave him be. It's not worth it." Turning away, you ignore the frown that crosses Letty's face. "I don't want to give them any more of a reason to come after us. Killing him for no reason other than our satisfaction will not earn us any leniency. Besides, we need to keep a low profile." At that, you turn around and leave him lying on the ground and march back to the truck.

Grumbling about the whole ordeal, you walk back to the truck as the others silently follow back. None of them seem to want to say anything, for which you are quite grateful. So, without any further ado, you climb back in the cab and wait for the others to join you.

"…He's gone?" Well, there was one that stayed behind, wasn't there? Looking down, you see the fairy staring wide-eyed up at you from the floorboard. "Just like that? No bangs or shouting or people being taken away again?"

"He's gone." Sighing, you shake your head and lean over closer to her. She automatically retreats a little, but not as much as you had expected. "We're going to leave him behind. Hopefully, they'll get the message that they shouldn't bother us. We'll figure what happened to the others eventually. This one doesn't seem to have been involved in… what happened."

Rengeteki nods her head and glances away. "Alright." She shivers a bit and inches back towards you. She eventually puts a hand on your shoulder and peeks over, just to be sure. "All… Alright. I see. …Are you sure he isn't…"

"He isn't." She could be referring to a hundred different things, but you don't bother to try and figure it out. "Just settle down, now. You're safe. And you won't even have to ride with Letty. You can stay up here." You wonder for just a brief second when you became these girls’ keepers, as you seem to be doing this all to sate their nerves. Still, it's a moot point, unless you want to simply abandon them all right here.

Still, your sparse words do seem to be a bit of a comfort, as she slides down from you and onto the seat. "Alright, then. …Calm down, now. They're not going… They're not going to come and get you… They're not going to kill you."

Without even a thought, you reach over and grab the girl's shoulder, not wanting to do anything more than that without permission. However, she quickly latches on to your arm and remains there for a while, as she tries to fight back a heart attack. "Shh…"

As Rengeteki tries to do her best to calm down, you glance up at the opposite seat. Standing outside is Minoriko, whom is looking at the fairy with an expression that approaches pity. She schools her face the moment that she sees you looking at her, even if her ears do tinge a bit red at being caught. "Yes? What is it?"

"…Nothing." As annoying as she might be at times, you decide not to call her out right at this moment. Instead, you give a cursory glance around her, looking for her sister. "Where did Shizuha go? Is she still over there?"

"No. Instead, she decided to join Letty." Minoriko shrugs and climbs in as elegantly as possible, even though it takes some effort to wrangle her dress into the tight space. "That youkai seemed rather… unhappy that you did not let her follow through. She went in order to calm her down."

Snorting a bit, you glance down at the fairy, who has not moved one inch since she grabbed onto you. "I'm sorry to hear that I didn't let her get her jollies off another man's life. I've never killed before, and I don't plan to start now."

Minoriko nods shortly, satisfied at your response. Still, a frown crosses her face as she considers what had just transpired minutes before. "So, what were the two of you talking about? You started whispering out of nowhere. …Is there something you need to tell us?"

"Just discussing my past. I wasn't always a janitor, you know." Shrugging a bit, you look down at Rengeteki. "Do you think you'll be good? We do need to get going, and I need both of my arms for that."

"I will… I will. Just trying to remember it's… safe here. Not many places that it is… safe. Yes." The girl shivers quite noticeably as her wings flit to and fro, but she does manage to detach herself from you with minimal fuss otherwise. "Sorry. I'll try not to be such a big trouble. Don't want to be trouble…"

"You have been trouble ever since you shot me. But at least you had a decent reason for that." You shrug a little as you finally are able to close the door and buckle up. "As long as you don't do that again, you'll be fine." You'll figure out excuses for now. There hasn't been a panic as far as you've seen, so the only ones running for the hills have been your small little band. So unless things get worse, you'll do your best to keep in the clear. "Oh, and Minoriko, don't worry about what happened earlier. It's… no longer relevant."

Before she can bother to ask, you check behind the truck and make sure that nobody has been left on the abandoned tarmac. A few seconds later, you glance at the younger sister and raise an eyebrow. "Are they back there? I just want to make sure of that before we head on out." She nods almost immediately, and you take that as license to turn back and gun the engine, and once more everyone lurches forward.

As you retrace your steps and try and find your way back to the main road, you remember one thing. They apparently were able to find you with the phone, so you pull yours out of your pocket and stare at it. "Should just toss it out. Guarantee that we won't be followed. …What to do…" Frowning, you set it in your lap as you think on it.

About twenty minutes later, you've retraced most of your steps and are on the correct road heading east once more. While you've calmed down quite a bit by now, the little fairy is still a bundle of nerves, and is resting against the supposed goddess. The latter is once more resigned to being used as a pillow as Rengeteki's wings slowly flap on their own, bopping Minoriko's nose every few seconds.

"So, anything else you can tell me about the things that have happened?" They both jump a bit as you suddenly speak once more. "Is there anything in particular that I need to watch out for? Your little fantasy land has spilled out my world, and I'm starting to get a bit worried."

"Only started? Most humans should already have been afraid." Minoriko grins a little bit as she shrugs. "And there are a hundred different things that could be going on. You'd need to be a little more specific than that. …Especially if it has something to relate with what that man said." She averts her eyes immediately thereafter as she waits for your answer.

[ ] Ask about Rengeteki. The fairy has not been forthcoming about her past, although you imagine that there might be good reasons.
[ ] You still want to know more about these two goddesses, although you've already grilled Minoriko today.
[ ] If everyone from your land is here, is there anyone in particular you should look out for?
[ ] The agent mentioned something about fangs. Who could it have been that they captured?

&

[ ] Get rid of the phone.
[ ] Just take the battery out.
>>No. 53651
[x] If everyone from your land is here, is there anyone in particular you should look out for?
[x] Just take the battery out.

I think getting rid of the phone means someone'd find it.
>>No. 53685
[x] If everyone from your land is here, is there anyone in particular you should look out for?
[x] Just take the battery out.
>>No. 53717
[x] If everyone from your land is here, is there anyone in particular you should look out for?
[x] Just take the battery out.
>>No. 53749
[x] You still want to know more about these two goddesses, although you've already grilled Minoriko today.
[x] Just take the battery out.

Battery removal will be sufficient. The phone's not a specially designed transmitter that activates when microwaves of a particular frequency are directed at it.
>>No. 54961
File 13779630952.jpg - (116.35KB, 640x480, you know his rear is quite sore after all this.jpg) [iqdb]
54961
[-a+1-] If everyone from your land is here, is there anyone in particular you should look out for?
[-a+1-] Just take the battery out.

------------

Idly, your hand flips the phone over and begins to play with the back cover as you eye the girl across the truck. "No, I don't think I need to be much more specific. After all, there's quite a lot I don't know about your… odd little homeland. I just want to know which ones are the ones that we should just run away from even a second thought."

"Hrm…" Minoriko shrugs her shoulders as she looks away, not responding for a few seconds. "Well, at least you're being practical. …And it's not like we could stop anyone who truly meant either you or us that much harm."

Snorting softly, you focus your eyes back on the road once more. "Really, now? There's something out there that gives even frosty there pause?"

"You shouldn't be so facetious about those things, Elroy." Finally, Minoriko looks back at you, although it takes a moment for you to return the gaze. There is no laughter in her own eyes, and you simply nod as she starts to explain. "If everyone else came through, there are plenty of things you'd need to worry about."

After a few moments, in which you do not respond to her assertion, she sighs and begins to explain. "…Although, there aren't too many you should worry about. Most are at least sociable enough that they won't try to attack you outright."

"So, does that mean that they are like you, then?" As disagreeable as she might have been, Minoriko at least has never been hostile. "Or would they be more like Letty, and not care one whit for humans, or others that she doesn't like?"

"The dangerous ones are more like her. Some of them make me rather trust the oni." At your blank look, she sighs and begins to explain. "A type of youkai, and used to be veritable demons. The ones that I still know of that are active are drunkards that can quite literally move mountains. They are honest to a fault and they love fighting." Her lips waver as she pauses, an uncomfortable thought coming to mind. "The Devas are the ones that would be most threatening. But if the entirety of those underground managed to get out…"

Frowning, you wait for her to stop muttering to herself as you head down the road. Eventually, she rights herself, and appears a bit chagrined for continuing to speak so long. "So, basically, oni bad. Roger that. But what do they look like? Or do they look as human as you?"

Minoriko winces a bit at the description and glances away. "Do we truly appear so similar?" Sighing, she folds her hands and explains. "Just look out for anything that has horns on it, and is stumbling around half drunk. Those are usually the best signs for those who cannot tell otherwise."

"…There's something worse than that…" Rengeteki finally speaks up for the first time in quite a while. "My… the one I worked with is probably stronger than them. I don't remember much, but…"

"You are correct." Minoriko pinches the bridge of her nose and looks down. "Kazami is quite strong, and she gets that from virtue of age and effort in comparison to what she was created with." Her mouth fades into a frown as she thinks on what to say next. "…Fortunately, we have not come into conflict with her directly. And our fields are far enough from that garden she frequents every few decades that there is no chance of our two crops interacting."

"I… See." Sighing, you just shake your head. "So, the person that Rengeteki used to work for is just as bad." Frowning, you shake your head. "So, put it this way. Is there anyone who would not be a cause for concern?"

The younger sister shrugs and shakes her head. "Not in particularly. Everyone has some degree of power to their name…" She pauses and looks out the window. "Although, the ones who would be the least trouble would probably be the few that are human. Although, the shrine maidens and the witch are destructive enough on their own to warrant caution as well."

"…So, anything unusual may or may not be dangerous." Sighing, you glare down the road for a while. "Well, at least that certainly explains why they are being so aggressive in their attempts to take into custody anyone who might be a threat." Your frown deepens as you consider everything. "How does a world like that even work? If everyone is so eager to fight, I don't see how you tear that home of yours apart."

Minoriko just nods a bit. "There's lots of space for them to avoid others, and have their own little fiefdoms and plots of land to call their own. That, and if they wanted to be afforded protection, they have to abide by the rules if they want to fight."

Snorting loudly, you shoot a glance at her. "Really, there are rules that people like Letty back there follow?"

"Yes. Although, they wouldn't apply out here…" Her eyes dart to the side, looking out. "And travelers from the outside were never protected unless they managed to make it to the village on its own, and even then the humans that live there knew not to go anywhere that belongs to the youkai." Minoriko looks out for a moment, shaking her head. "But everyone is on the outside now, so nothing will have that implicit guarantee on it."

"They're not all that bad, Minoriko." Her eyebrows knitting, Rengeteki turns to look at the other girl. "There are plenty that have been trying to get better. Some haven't eaten people for years, either. And the fairies aren't bad, they're just… mean."

"Still, it comes out to the same." Shaking her head, she looks at the fairy that is beside her. "For every firefly youkai, there are two or three that is like the one of darkness. And then there are ten more each that do not have her sentience." She shrugs once more. "The majority is weak even to those of us without much power, but with a human as their prey, well…"

"I get the point. Let's just keep going, then." You still don't quite believe all of what she said. This place sounds more and more like the preserve she had spoken of once before. The only question is, if this is one, where is the gamekeeper, and what he is doing to catch his animals and put them back in their pen.

The rest of the trip continues as such, as you ask idle questions to understand a bit more of their world, but it is all more of the same. All of which would reinforce your original idea of going to ground, save for who you have to help.

------------

As dusk falls, you finally turn off the road for the last time and head towards a campground a few miles from the highway. You've been driving a long time, far longer than you should. If not for practice at staying awake for long, you know you might be feeling sleepy. Even if not, it's not like you have the opportunity to stop, and you wanted to cross into the Cumberland Gap before finding a place to rest.

The thought of pulling up on the side of the road is appealing, but you don't want a random sheriff to come up and check up on you. Besides, you do need to empty out the tanks, so instead you head to the nearest place that has a water hookup.

A few miles off the main road, you finally find the old campgrounds and turn it. The two that are still with you in the seat look around curiously, but you remain silent as you pull the trailer through the park. The first few stalls you can't even go in, as the ground is too wet for your truck to get any traction with this load. She makes it in one of the ones in the rear, though, and you push the gear into park and step out. "You two just wait a moment. I'm going to go pay the park director real quick so he'll turn on the services."

"Alright. I'll make sure that the other two are alright." After a moment, Minoriko smiles just slightly. "And I'll make sure that Letty doesn't do anything too much yet. Good thing she hibernates so much, as she'd be quite cranky otherwise."

"She isn't already?" Sighing, you wave her off as you march towards the main office in the dim light of the setting sun. You take your time in walking, mostly so you can stretch your legs out from sitting in down for hours on end. Sooner than you'd like, though, you reach the screen door of the lean-to that serves as the front office.

Once inside, having pushed aside the squeaky door, you see a man staring at a television mounted on the wall. He barely seems to notice you come in, but the moment you get within five feet of the counter, he speaks up. "You the guy that came in with that tiny truck of yours?"

"Yeah, I am. She's all I got, so I make do with what I have." Shrugging, you reach into your pocket, feeling the small wad of bills that has been rapidly depleting. "How much for the night? You ain't that busy, after all. Not like a small little trailer like mine would cost much, anywho."

The man does not answer, and instead stares at the television a bit longer. "Not like there are many people out and about, you know. Curious to see a guy come in here."

"We're heading into the hills right now, trying to get to safety." The lie easily slips off of your tongue as you continue to spin a yarn. A few family friends, along with a very annoying aunt, are trying to get the hell out of dodge while we can. I'd rather not be around before everything goes all the way up shit creek, after all."

The man snorts aloud. "I don't disagree with you there, not at all. Still, you had to bring the aunt along with ya? Sounds like tough luck for ya, bub."

"She's family, so I couldn't leave her be. Besides, she does have her uses. She is quite persuasive if we let her get going."

"Heh. Don't I know it. The missus's mother is just the same." Shrugging, he finally glances back at you. "Still, you seen any of this? Nasty stuff going on. Glad nothing like that is happening over here."

"Nasty like what?" Curious, you lean forward, wondering what might have happened. "We hadn't heard anything since the other night."

"Well, it's the same old here. Rising water levels and whatnot There's some unseasonably cold weather on the south side of Florida, 'pparently. Some stuff in the Midwest is hurting as well, but they hadn't said for sure." He shrugs once more. "Thing is, on one of those Japanese Islands… can't pronounce the name, so funny. They got people dying by the truckload, from the sound of it. Poor bastards look like they got shot in the rear."

Shivering, you try to chase the image out of your head. "Lovely. Well, can we talk about price real quick? I'd like to get hooked up soon."

"Sure. Sixty bucks."

"…Ain't that a little bit high?" Still, you take the money out of your pocket and begin counting off twenties.

"Call it hazard pay." The man takes it the money from you and hits a button, printing a receipt from the register. "I'll go ahead and turn them on for ya. Now, get going, and get some sleep. I might take a chance and skedaddle off myself."

Shrugging it off, you grab the receipt and head out the door. Frowning, you count off what you have left. After getting so much gas, and paying for a little food, you've burned through over half of what little cash you have. And there's not much in the bank you could have taken out, anyways.

You sigh quite heavily as you stand outside of the screen porch. Looks like you're going to have to make a withdrawal for the first time since you got out of prison.

[ ] Head on out and do it now. Your best work is done under the cover of dark.
[ ] Wait until you get closer to civilization. You might find deeper wallets there.
[ ] You can make things stretch for now. Hopefully. As long as nothing bad happens.

------------

Spoiler, Wriggle is nicer in this one. But she's already despawned, so you probably won't see her anytime soon
>>No. 54966
[x] Head on out and do it now. Your best work is done under the cover of dark.

Just get it over with.
>>No. 54970
[x] Wait until you get closer to civilization. You might find deeper wallets there.

Country folk aren't known for having money and are known for brandishing guns at a drop of a hat. City folk on the other hand...

Tch, poor Wriggle. Sounds like whatever happened is wreaking some real havoc (though whatever's happening in japan might have caused the incident in the first place)
>>No. 54989
[x] Wait until you get closer to civilization. You might find deeper wallets there.
>>No. 55031
[x] Wait until you get closer to civilization. You might find deeper wallets there.

Have to get the trailer and utilities set up for the girls, anyways.
>>No. 57861
File 139261670247.jpg - (22.37KB, 350x400, she is back as disagreeable as always.jpg) [iqdb]
57861
[-b+1-] Wait until you get closer to civilization. You might find deeper wallets there.

------------

However, that much can wait for now. You still have a few hundred on you, and it will be enough for now. You're still out in the country, after all. There is no need for you to rush and plunder the first man's billfold. Granted, you wouldn't have gone after this one; there would certainly be a business nearby that was more easily burgled.

Instead of heading off into the dim woods, you make your way back towards the trailer. Part of you wishes that you kept the other truck. With yours so small, you are going to have to worry about gas so long as you pull that trailer. It's hardly rated for this activity. You'll just make do, somehow. And there are always methods…

When you get back to the trailer, you find that Minoriko has already started a fire outside. It is no small relief to see that she actually used the provided fire pit surrounded by rusting iron instead of setting the leaves ablaze wherever they fall. "Well, we're all done. I'm just going to hook up everything for the showers. And I'm sure there's a small television inside if you would care to watch."

"Not at the moment. I want to start the fire. Food needs to be readied, for you and that fairy at least." She looks up at you and quirks an eyebrow. "And I should as well. After all, that is part of the cover that you have decided that we will maintain."

"I suppose it was." You slowly fall onto the ground below you and take a seat, settling into the patch of dirt across from her. "So, where'd the others go? Are those two still talking?"

"They are not. The yuki-onna is busy walking around now, seemingly taking in the sights of this camp." Minoriko rolls her eyes a bit. "I merely hope she is not seeking a human's bed. We have enough problems without the thought of her ending up killing one of the others here by accident or design."

Minoriko would go there first, wouldn't she? "I might have to have a word with her, then. I seem to be interesting enough to keep her attention…" There's no other way to put it. You just hope that, should she grow bored, she doesn't end up hurting you or someone else. "And the fairy? I expected to see her down here as she tries to get warm as well."

"On the roof of this trailer of yours. She wasn't seen, and she didn't plan to come down to nightfall." Minoriko pauses for a moment but ultimately ends up shaking her head. "The insides were rather cold, and she has taken a shine to it. All things being relative, of course."

"What about your sister, then? Couldn't she have told you what was on Letty's mind?"

"She vanished the moment she exited." Minoriko shrugs nonchalantly, more to herself than anything else. "I'm not surprised. She hasn't had a chancy to simply wander in days. I imagine she was starting to get a little stir crazy in that metal box on wheels."

A halfhearted correction on how the trailer isn't really a metal box is tossed aside as you sigh and regard the girl. "We really shouldn't be splitting up. If the ones that were chasing us manage to catch up somehow, and then catch one of us… Well, I don't know if it'd be possible, but I'd rather not risk our chances."

Minoriko shakes her head before looking up at you. "She is on her guard, and she is more at home in those woods than anywhere else. I wouldn't worry that much. Besides, we can handle a human that is on their own. We may be weak, but we are hardly that weak yet. One with as much power as you is not a threat to any of the youkai."

"You could have just said that first part, you know." Grumbling, you stand back up. "You don't have to keep rubbing that in, though. I already understand the point." She doesn't answer, and you leave Minoriko to herself as you plug up all of the hookups to the trailer.

It takes a few minutes to ensure all are secure. The very last thing that you want is for them to come loose and start spewing the clean water everywhere, much less the gray or black water. The stench alone would be horrible, and the mess… You won't even give that a moment of thought. Once you are done, you attach the electrical and head inside of the trailer to ensure that everything is just as you had left it.

Save for the unnatural chill and the occasional icicles, it was just the same. In the low light, you almost swear that Letty's frosty personality, so charming that it is, was beginning to spread to the fabric and curtains inside. However, the ancient lights shine down their murky yellow beams and quickly remove any suspicion to that regard.

Somewhat amusingly, you notice that she has already packed the refrigerator with ice. "I suppose she might be familiar with iceboxes, at least. It explains why she stuffed both parts. …Although, I'm not even sure if this compressor works anymore, really." You certainly don't hear the pump whirring in the background, but with it so cold, there's no way you can check if it works. "Well, I'll assume it's a bust, then. At least I have a valid reason to keep her around."

While the fridge and freezer probably do not work, the small stove inside does manage to turn on. As for the sinks, it takes a while, but once you turn the water heater on and thaw out the pipes, you manage to get the water flowing. "At least we're functioning… Well, I can't say it's not working." The rest of the utilities also turn on, eventually, which makes you very thankful that they managed to last as long as they did. "Granted, I'm going to need to check for leaks in the tanks. If any water is seeping out, especially from the black tank…"

Still, the rest of the girls are away for now, save for Minoriko. You don't know the next time you'll be undisturbed, so you head out and grab a change of clothes before heading back into the camper and cleaning up.

Once done, you head out to find Minoriko once more, sitting in the same spot. Since you've been gone, though, she's managed to fall asleep. Her feet are also buried into the soil on the surface. The fire is still burning, although it has died down some. You take a moment to check the truck and see if you remembered to bring much food.

There's enough inside for you to eat for the night, although it would be nice if Minoriko managed to wake up and magicked some out of nowhere. Still, you sit back down and throw a few more sticks on the fire to make it burn brighter until you can get a proper log to catch.

She eventually does manage to wake up as you finish off your small portion, and she shakes her head as she tries to clear the sleep out of her eyes. "Did I doze off there…?"

"You did. I imagine that the fire was warm enough." You manage to laugh a bit as she sits back up. "So, where should we go now? We're looking for a needle in a haystack out here."

"Well, if all we are chasing are fairies, it really depends. It really depends on what fairy we're chasing, or if it is one of the weaker ones…" Minoriko sighs a bit before sitting up straighter on the ground. "Although, shouldn't we ask the fairy with us? I would think that she would know their hiding spots better."

"She still hasn't come down?" You tilt your head and look towards the roof. "I thought she would have when I went inside."

Minoriko shakes her head. "She hasn't. I wasn't in a hurry to cajole her into climbing down, either."

"It's dark enough by now. She can come on down, although we need to head to sleep soon enough." Grumbling, you climb back to your feet and look towards the top of the vehicle. There's no way that you can see her from the ground. "I suppose I'll have to climb up to get a hold of her." Minoriko just shrugs at that, although she is watching the roof, searching for the fairy all the same.

Leaving her behind, you head around until you find the ladder on the back of the trailer. The metal is cold, but there is no frost lingering on the worn rubber steps. However, it is a little bit shaky when you grab onto the rungs. "…Figures. I'll just have to be slow."

For all of your worries of falling off, you change to ascend towards the very top without any trouble at all. However, as late as it is, and with the shadows being cast by the fire, you have trouble seeing the roof, much less the girl that is supposed to be up here. "Should have brought me a flashlight…" The thought leaves your mind when you climb on top. You can't worry about what you might have done.

Once your eyes adjust to the dim light, you spot the outline of the fairy. She is lying on her back, wings splayed on both sides as she looks up through the trees and into the sky beyond. "Rengeteki, you can come down now. There's no one around here to see."

The fairy looks around few seconds before she eventually finds you. "Are you sure? It is still early enough for the humans to be awake… And the creatures in the woods will wake up soon, if they haven't already…"

"They won't be coming here, I'm fairly certain. And creatures are hardly something that I'm worried about at this point." While you feel somewhat deceitful, you put a smile on your face. "Come on. It'll be fine. I'll just tell them that you're a little girl that loves her fairy costume and doesn't want to take it off, if someone asks."

Rengeteki stares back before she sits up. Her wings flutter a bit, and she floats to the ground. "…Perhaps it would have been better not to fly down." Hardly anything you can change now, or so you tell yourself. Putting aside your constant mental misgivings, you slowly descend the rickety ladder.

This time, Minoriko has stayed awake and pulled those potatoes of hers from out of nowhere. The little fairy is watching them carefully, looking somewhat ill at ease even though no one else was in sight. Even Letty was still nowhere to be found. You do notice that Minoriko is already talking to the girl. "Is there anyplace that you might know of?"

"Well… I'm not… Not too sure really. I don't really keep track of the other fairies. Most of them are dumb as a box of rocks anyways." Rengeteki forces out a weak bout of laughter. "You should know that they show up where trouble occurs. They… They don't really think. They act, and they die."

"I'm pretty sure that there is no trouble where we're headed." You take your seat back on the ground once more, not wanting to look down at the fairy and frighten her anymore. "If there was any trouble in this state, we would have heard about it. Which mean there is none of this… behavior." As you certainly are not familiar with it, you look towards Minoriko and hope that she explains.

She does not. "Which brings us back to what I was asking. Where do fairies like you congregate?"

"There… There are no fairies like me."

"…Wrong choice of words." Minoriko sighs and leans down. "Where would we find these others? I know that they frolic in the trees deep in the forest, but where would they go first?"

"…Frolic." You can't help but to let out a little snigger.

As Minoriko glares towards you, Rengeteki shakes her head. "Nowhere specific, that I would know of. They would just go towards the wilderness. Most would stay away from humans, while others would prank them. I wouldn't know where to find them."

"So, in essence, they could be anywhere. And minus any obvious effects like our friend had up in the mountains, there would be no way to find them."

Rengeteki nods after a bit. "That would be the best way to put it. You could try to cause some trouble…"

"I'd rather avoid it until necessary. We'll achieve nothing by doing that." Grumbling, you shake your head. "We'll have to look for other places to search, then. There will be little time to stop, then. We'll continue to head east, but we need to stay away from the district…" You clap your hands together. "I'll have to look at a map to find out places like that were listed… And I might want to find a paper. See exactly where that incident was again."

"I'll hope said paper does not have the reputation that a tengu's would have." Minoriko coughs gently before handing over the food that she has cooked and wrapped up. "Here you go. I'll have more if you need any…" Rengeteki cautiously takes it before nibbling at the top. She eventually begins to take larger and larger bites as she relaxes a little bit more.

After a few minutes of sitting there and thinking, you look back towards the forest. "…We should get the others in. It's late, and I'd rather not Shizuha be out while we're still awake. …I don't want Letty on the loose, either."

"My sister will be fine. She usually is. She wanders Gensokyo on her own quite a lot."

"This isn't Gensokyo, though. I'd rather not risk that we were followed… Or that one of them manages to harm someone, accidentally or no." Grumbling, you get to your feet. That, and you do need to stretch your legs some more. You'll be the one stuck in the driver's seat for the foreseeable future.

[ ] Go look for Shizuha
[ ] Go look for Letty
[ ] Forget about them and just go to bed

------------

Sorry for the hiatus taken from this. I'll admit I got a bit frustrated, as this wasn't the path I had planned out. However, I've changed my mental approach to this story, and I've put a few more rails in. Hopefully I won't switch onto tracks that weren't finished. (For perspective, I had 1st and 2nd 'boss' prepared. We're on route straight to the third.)
>>No. 57870
[x] Go look for Shizuha

not sure how a boss fight would work in a story like this.
>>No. 57871
[x] Forget about them and just go to bed
>>No. 57872
[X] Go look for Letty

Wouldn't it be best to look for the one that might be killing someone?
>>No. 57874
>>57870
It's a term that I use to keep things straight. Take it for what you will, but any approach would be closer to Obsidion in how they would result.
>>No. 57877
[x] Go look for Letty.

You have no idea how excited I was to see this update again. Please stay around! Hopefully we'll be able to mend our relationship with Letty over time; it's a shame we started to get on her bad side.
>>No. 57903
File 139304833399.jpg - (166.31KB, 850x481, wont anyone just get along.jpg) [iqdb]
57903
[-c+1-] Go look for Letty

------------

There's little question what you need to do. While you do worry about Shizuha, and whether she might end up in trouble, there are more pertinent things to worry about. Besides, that woman can take care of herself well enough, especially if what she and her sister claim is true.

Leaving those thoughts by the wayside, you stand up and look down at Minoriko. "I'm going to go look for Letty. I can't make her come back here, but I want to make sure she hasn't harmed anybody."

The girl glances down at the office, silently echoing your concern. Shadows cast over her face as she turns back to ask, "Do you need me to come with you? If she is still angry from earlier, she might end up doing something rash."

"Concerned for me, all of the sudden?" You can't help but to smirk just a bit as the girl huffs. "Don't worry. I'll manage fine enough. Besides, I'm still interesting. I think approaching her alone while she is mad would maintain that status for far longer than seeking protection would."

"That would be the flimsiest excuse ever if it fails to work. Just scream if you need help then." At that, Minoriko turns back to the fire and you walk away, heading in that direction. Before you can get too far, though, she speaks up. "Do you have a torch of some sort? You'll never find her in this light."

You look back towards Minoriko for a moment, measuring her up. The girl resolutely stares down at the fire as the flames dance around, throwing shadows on her face once more. "…If you insist. I think I could just follow the cold, though."

Rengeteki watches you as you head back to the truck, but she nervously looks away the moment you connect eyes. You shake your head and head towards your luggage that is still stashed in the back of the truck. After reaching in, you feel around for that small box you have kept nearby the entire time. Once you open it up, you feel around the innards before pulling out a small metal cylinder and a weighted piece of leather.

Once the latter is deposited safely under your shirt, you grab a jacket from inside the suitcase and throw it on. Now that you have determined yourself protected from the elements, you head on towards the front of the camp, keeping your small flashlight in your pocket for now.

By this time of day, it has grown dark enough that you can only see by the nascent fires and the glow of taillights. There are a few light poles strung throughout the camp, but the ugly yellow of the dirty light does not cast far into the darkness. Even so, you take your time and ignore what you can see, and instead feel for the cold that hopefully lingers in the air.

There is little to be found. If there is frost that remains on trees or ice that lurks underfoot, you can neither see nor feel it. "…Well, this will be fun. Finding a frozen time bomb in a hay stack." Snorting a bit at how inane the joke is, you keep walking. The light of the camp grows dim and you finally reach for your pocket.

The switch on the flashlight is old and hasn't been toggled in years, but it takes only a modicum of effort to flip it into its first position. A beam of light floods the air in front of you. "I'll have to remember to get batteries at some point. This thing has always drained them like the last batch of good tea in Boston."

Satisfied with how well it is lighting up the current locale, you venture onward through the brush. You stay away from the road you drove in on, as you doubt she took that path. What is more worrying is the thought that she crossed over on someone's property, and the owners discover her in the process. That will be something fun to explain.

Minutes pass by, and you track at least a half a mile away from camp. You've yet to come across any fence that would indicate a property line. Thinking that you've walked far enough, you lean on a nearby tree and look around at the surroundings. "Would she have just left? I guess that is a possibility… Although, she probably would have said something. I doubt that she would have left certain things unsaid…"

You stand there for a few minutes longer, looking about in the dark and trying to spot any other figures. Nothing comes into view, and you eventually rise back to your own two feet and stretch. "I should head back around, then. Either I'll run into her on the way back, or—"

Leaves shuffle, and you spin around as you immediately stop talking. Your flashlight is immediately brought to bear on the source of the noise. Standing there in front of you is a deer. The animal stares back at you, as the oddly bright light is freezing it in its tracks. The longer you look, the easier it is for you to see that the frightened creature is shivering.

"Wait… Letty, where are you? I know you're nearby!" You look up at the trees as you swing wildly around, searching for anyplace that the woman would be. "Come on out; it's time to head back. We need to rest for tomorrow."

Letty does not answer, but you finally feel that familiar chill in the air as she approaches. The deer finally regains its senses and dashes off.

While the deer may have heard her, there is no indication of where the youkai is. For her part, she remains far in the dark. "Alright, now, you can come out Letty. You don't have to stay hidden…" You continue to spin about as you look for her, and you try not to let the frustration show on your face.

"Do I, now?" The voice whispers on the wind, causing the hair to stand up on your neck. "There is plenty of reason to. I wouldn't want to scare the humans around here, would I?"

"You would." The next time you turn around, you find the woman standing right there, smiling and standing with her hands clasped. "There you are. Are you done attempting to scare me?"

She merely tilts her head and looks over your shoulder, peering far into the dark behind you. "Did the little harvest send you? Or was it the quiet leaf?"

"Neither. I came looking for you on my own." Crossing your arms, you look back behind you, trying to see what it is that she is looking at. "Are you trying to find something? The only thing that has gone that way was that deer."

"I am aware of that." While you can't see it, you can feel her eyes move back to your neck. "So, why is it that you have come searching for me? You could not leave my presence quickly enough the previous night. I doubt that you have changed your mind and decided instead to seek it."

Well, that line certainly tells you her mood. "Are you still miffed from earlier?"

"No." She shifts a bit closer. You may be imagining things, but you really do not want to look back at the moment. "I'm merely annoyed. Humans always are decidedly confusing in that manner."

"Really. I thought that you would be decidedly enlightened in that manner." While her manner is frosty, you force yourself to turn back and look at her. She still is smiling, which serves to unnerve you more than anything else. "…Are you planning to kill me already?"

She finally reacts, but only raises an eyebrow. "I have considered it. Then again, when wouldn't I have? There's nothing to be gained by it right now. Although, I will admit that I have become quite bored by sitting in that box all day."

"Technically, you're not supposed to. But I can't squeeze five of us in the cab. And you know how the others would react." You don't even bother to say how you might react. "I get that, though. So, why do you stay? There's nobody stopping you from leaving."

"Actually, aren't you here to stop me from doing just that?"

Sighing, you look down. "I was making sure there was no trouble going on out here. That was the main reason." You snort and cross your arms as you stand there. "That, and it is late out. You might draw questions if you remain out here for much longer."

"Do you suppose to say that you can herd me back to your vehicle, then?"

"…No." Grumbling even more, you finally look back in her eyes. "You know that there is little that I could do to you now. I am unarmed, and even if I was, you would do the same that you did to the agent earlier."

Letty hums to herself as she nods just slightly. "So, are you going to let me take care of him the next time he comes? I am quite sure he will. Incident solvers never are able to keep to themselves, in the end."

"It's because I want him to be on our side. He is just taking care of a threat. I didn't want to do anything. Frankly, I don't want any part in this. I wish to be left alone now. I've spent enough time paying for what I've done. Technically, I still am." You drop your arms to your sides. "I do not want to go back to prison."

Letty continues to watch you with an eyebrow quirked. "What did you do that mandated you be imprisoned? There isn't much that wouldn't be more swiftly dealt with by the sword instead."

"Yeah. Death penalty isn't common anymore." You shake your head. "However, I didn't come here to discuss my past. We need to head back." The snow lady doesn't respond, and instead continues to watch you. Seconds tick by, and you raise an eyebrow. "Yes?"

The grin begins to fade as she rubs her chin. "I wonder… Is that why you were so resistant to my proposition? You pay no attention besides what is necessary. It is the same with the others. And I am not too far gone to be without value."

"…What are you trying to imply?"

"I am merely curious. The little harvest may think you are merely a bothersome human that is honest, brutally so, but you know I can feel that cold in you. I know that you know. And it clamps down just a little bit more when I try to insinuate that there is something a little less than pure under your skin."

"Didn't I say I was through with the subject?" Your eyes glint straight at hers. There is plenty of fear that lurks in your stomach, and you do not want to show it for fear of what she might do.

For her part, Letty continues to regard you carefully. "You should be honest, in the end. I am sure the quiet leaf knows. She does at time know about such things. She will not make you tell, even if she could end your resistance to the idea."

"Good for her. She's mysterious enough as it is when I speak to her. I need at least a little on my side so that I can debate with her. She is more quizzical than you are."

"I do not try to be, unlike you. You merely do not understand me. It is something you will never do. By the time you catch up in years, you would be but dust."

"I'd never want to. I was quite content on my own."

"So you say." Letty goes back to looking over your shoulder. "So, have you finished with me? There is something I was attending to."

Part of you doesn't want to ask, but you should try to at least make amends with the somewhat hostile ice lady. "…Well, wool you prefer to not ride in that thing when we leave tomorrow? Assuming you are coming with us?"

"That would be better, yes."

"…Alright. But I'm not going to kill anyone, if we do end up in that situation again. I want to find my family. If we make them hunt us, I doubt that would happen unless we all are taken prisoner. And they'd more likely shoot to kill, then."

"Then it's a good thing you won't be the one doing it."

Sighing, you follow her eyes as she looks down through the forest. "I suppose it's somewhat pointless to say that it's not season, although I doubt your particular weapon would even be covered. You really shouldn't do anything suspicious, though."

Finally, Letty turns her eyes back to you. "Please, do stop bothering me that much about such things. I will survive as I can, without harming those strangers you value so much. And I am quite capable of cleaning up my own mess. The cold will remain with me… Even if I am tempted to place a little inside of you to carry around and see what would occur."

"You wouldn't."

"I could. You would cease being interesting if you simply became a frozen puppet, though." Her smirk widens, and you can't help but to be thankful that you are already too cold to shiver even more. "Now, go on. You will not want to witness this, as I fear that even you would not be prepared for such a sight."

"And here I thought I was coming to fetch you. …Fine… You wouldn't listen to me if I tried to take you back…" Shrugging, you turn around and try to get your bearings. Letty helpfully points the way back, and you thank her with no small amount of derision in your voice.

As annoying and frustrating as the woman is, she isn't going to harm you or the others… At least for now. At least you're back to square one. You'll probably need more leverage to get her to agree to any more terms, though… Or be friendlier, for that matter. You might have to give something in return, too. That's something you'll have to think about later.

Now, you simply trek all the way back to the camp. The fires are long gone, but the streetlights are still lit. They are plenty enough to guide your way back to your temporary home.

Neither Minoriko or Rengeteki are outside, but a quick check finds both of them inside. Rengeteki is farthest from the door, with Minoriko curiously lying in front of her. Humming in thought, you search for and fail to find Shizuha. It still bothers you that she may be out and about yet, but there is nothing to do except searching yourself.

However, you decide that the others should be trusted for now. Shizuha should be able to take care of herself. If she is missing tomorrow morning… Well, you can worry about that then. You need sleep, either way. Eventually, you pack everything up and climb into the cab of your truck to stretch along the bench seat. With a coat for a blanket and safety provided by two locked doors, you finally manage to fall into a turbulent sleep.

------------

The next morning finds you hurrying about as you unhook everything and double-check your truck and possessions once again. Minoriko and the fairy were still asleep after you woke at daybreak, although the former woke easily once you checked inside the trailer. Shizuha had shown up sometime overnight and was curled up in a chair inside, sound asleep.

You leave her be and just tell Minoriko of your predicament. Letty is, unlike the others, quite awake. You surreptitiously look at her to see if there are any signs of her nighttime activities, but there isn't even a twig on her outfit. Eventually, you just shake your head and guide her to the cab before leaving.

Your first destination is away, and you drive for thirty minutes or so before finally pulling off onto a rural road once more. This time, you head towards a nearby gas station. You need to fill up, no matter what; a map of the nearby area wouldn't hurt either, considering you don't know where any parks or open spaces full of nature would be.

You notice that when you pull in, prices have risen nearly a dollar since you last checked. There is no one else currently pumping, but the rise is indicative of one thing. You better get as much as you can now. The longer you wait, the more it will cost. And you don't have too much to spare…

After taking care of the mandatory business, you consider what to do next. You do need to check with the others to see what to do going forward, and you need to eat…"

[ ] Run into a nearby drivethru. It won't take too much, and you can use something that isn't Minoriko-produced. You'll have to consult with Letty only, though.
[ ] Grab something and go, and get Shizuha out to join you two. You know the others won't want part of it.
[ ] Eat inside, and consult with the others as you do. You can explain away Rengeteki, and Letty would scare anyone who would disagree.
[ ] Stop on the side of the road and get something from Minoriko.
[ ] Just keep driving for now.
>>No. 57906
[X] Grab something and go, and get Shizuha out to join you two. You know the others won't want part of it.

This seems the least likely to blow up in our face. Also, I may have squealed like a giddy schoolgirl when I saw this updated.
>>No. 57908
[X] Grab something and go, and get Shizuha out to join you two. You know the others won't want part of it.
>>No. 57940
[X] Grab something and go, and get Shizuha out to join you two. You know the others won't want part of it.
>>No. 57941
[x] Run into a nearby drivethru. It won't take too much, and you can use something that isn't Minoriko-produced. You'll have to consult with Letty only, though.

Fast food time.
>>No. 58156
File 139442151824.jpg - (385.85KB, 514x600, that is two characters missed with one vote.jpg) [iqdb]
58156
[-d+1-] Grab something and go, and get Shizuha out to join you two. You know the others won't want part of it.

------------

Time isn't that much of a foe, yet, and you should take as much time to stretch your legs and enjoy the company of those that aren't as frigid. Once you've decided that much, you pull the pump out, place it back in its rest, and climb back inside. The engine takes a bit of gunning to start the load, but you manage to roll towards the back of the lot. Seeing as there is no easy way to get to the nearby restaurant, you just park it there and climb on out. "Come on, Letty. We need to go get food."

"Don't you mean that you need to? I am quite full after my meal last night." The woman sends you a wan smile as you dismount. "I have had enough sustenance to last me quite a while. Should I have saved some?"

"That deer, you mean?" Snorting, you raise an eyebrow and shoot her a look. "Did you even have any left when you were through with it?"

"No."

You really don't want to know where she hides the pounds, in that case. "Fine. But you need to move that hind end of yours and come on in. It will look suspicious if you don't come in with me."

"Wouldn't it instead look as if I did not want any? Or are you going to get it merely for yourself? If not, perhaps you would be fine with appearing extremely gluttonous."

Grumbling, you just shake your head. "Well, I guess I'll just go and ask Shizuha then, and see if any of the others want anything as well. We'll just leave it at that." Shrugging, you shut the door and head towards the trailer, ignoring the snow lady for now.

Either Shizuha was expecting you, or she heard your comments, as she is waiting at the door, hands folded behind her back, as she takes in the early morning air, fresh with the scent of gasoline as it wafts off the tarmac. "Good morning. We stopped a little bit sooner than I expected."

"It's mostly because we need gas, and I didn't want wait until we got closer to a large city. It may be a little cheaper that far out, but there may not be any left. For all I know, there's been a run on gas. I haven't actually listened to what's going on in the world beyond here, after all."

"That might be important, but Minoriko could find something for you." The woman smiles just a little bit as she steps down. "Or perhaps you just want a little meat. I have noticed quite a few advertisements for roasted flesh as we rode along."

"Charming. Some variance is always good, and I'm going to go ahead and take the opportunity while I still have it." Sighing, you shake your head. "Listen, do you all want anything? I have enough left for now, and I'm sure that I could get some later."

"Hrm…" She chuckles to herself and steps down. "I am sure that there are a few things that would suit the three of us back here, although neither of the others that care for much that isn't formerly grown from the ground."

"Well, that's too bad. I just hope she likes bread. We certainly have enough of that around." Shizuha chuckles once more as she exits and primly straightens her dress. "Come on, then. We don't want to tarry very much… or wait around too long."

As you head to across the parking lot, you feel the familiar cool chill join you. "What gives, Letty? I thought you were going to stay behind?"

"I changed my mind. If we are to be stuck in that contraption for so long, I don't wish to remain in there the entire time."

"…I figured." It's never going to be that simple, is it? "Fine. Well, I'll get the food. Do you all have any clue where we should start looking?"

"It depends. What are you searching for?"

"Our only clue so far is a fairy. Since we don't have any indication of where it went, I don't know where to start, but it's the only thing I've got aside from fleeing towards the hills."

Letty snorts and shakes her head. "I do not see you surviving out in the underbrush. We have enough fairies as it is, though. Or are you seeking to instigate another interaction with that human and his fellows?"

"I believe you know the answer to that well enough, Letty. But what else do you suggest I do? We are not going out of our way to chase down these other creatures, youkai or no." Leaving it at that, you head up to order the cheapest things you can get, not wanting to sacrifice valuable coinage for quality. You can deal with less.

Shizuha look around the store idly along with Letty, both of who seem to be bored. You notice the teen that was taking your orders gawking at the latter, and you can't help but snort in derision a bit. He's an idiot for even allowing himself to open up that avenue of attack. "…It would be best to find the largest area of greenery possible. They want to be close to nature, not where all this rock is growing."

"I get the point. But I don't know where is… Wait a second." Leaning over the counter, you clear your throat and try to catch the attention of the kid. "Oi, you! I need to ask you where the nearest park is. National park, that is."

He merely gives you a curious look, as he is busy stuffing the food in a bag. "Why in the world you need that? There are a few places around here, I guess…"

"Listen. I just want to get away from all this ruckus. I've got friends and family that I'm trying to get out of the cities. I just want to go somewhere until all this mess blows over. Many trees are good for hiding away from all the hullabaloo."

"Ah, I know ya. It's bad enough as it is. There's some fool up in the lakes proclaiming themselves to be a god. Idiots just wanting attention. But with New York being evacuated like that… It just sends a shiver down my spine. What could be bad enough to cordon off the city?"

You nod a bit at that. "What indeed. I don't really want to find out. 'Swy I'm heading that way; all the way out of the way for us."

"I gotcha, I gotcha. Well, there are plenty of places scattered all about. Go west and southwest towards the edge of the panhandle, but those are more lakes than anything else. There's a big forest to the east of here that might suit your purposes. No real reason to go anywhere in there."

"Hrm…" You glance at both of the others as you think on what to do. "I suppose that that will do for us. Thanks, there. You take care." At that, you grab your stuff and go over to the condiments to stuff your bags full.

Shizuha can't help but to laugh softly at that. "Do you particularly need that much in the way of salt and that packaged tomato juice? Certainly seems rather excessive."

"I'm taking every opportunity I can. And it can always come in handy, somehow." Once done, you look at the others. "So, what do you think we should do?"

"I think we should leave. This place is much too warm for my complexion."

"…Anything constructive?"

"I fail to see how that wasn't." Letty ends up being nudged by Shizuha moments later. "What was that, quiet leaf?"

"Be nice for now. You don't need to be snappish; you always are when a hunt goes bad."

Letty crosses her arms. "It did not go poorly. I was merely unfortuitous when I ran across the one searching for me all of last night."

"So, poorly. Although, usually it is odd for a normal human to go chasing after you. That rarely ends up well, does it?"

"Alright, enough. We'll head on out." Being overheard is the last thing you want to happen, and you're fortunate enough to have not been heard about the fairy. If the locals know about the other, that could attract more attention than you'd want.

Once outside and across the street, though, you breathe a bit easier. "Listen. We need to figure out which way to go. So, do we head to the east or west?"

Shizuha speaks first; perhaps to cut off anything that Letty may say to derail the conversation once more. "I would think that it would be best to do keep going east. We've been heading in that direction the entire time. If you turn around now, you don't know who, or what, you'll run across."

"Well, if they were intent on finding me, they would have already caught up. I am driving a truck pulling an oversized trailer that is barely in its weight class, if that. It isn't hard to catch up."

"I would rather go to the lakes. There would be plenty more to store the chill, and I would like to have a chance to revisit these men is one that I would prefer." Letty focuses on you, and it's obvious enough what she would prefer to do. "There are some things that need to be done, after all."

Well, if you had any opinion before, you certainly don't need to be throwing Letty any bones like that. You can't encourage that bloodlust no matter how much you desire to keep her on your side. "Very well. Let's head to the east. That forest will be good enough for now, and it will serve its purpose of keeping us out of direct trouble with anyone save the park service."

"…Dare I ask why a park needs to be serviced? That seems to be an odd turn of phrase. Or do you have your own human greenskeepers out here?"

"Why would youkai need one?" You shake your head and shoot Shizuha a look. "I hardly was the one to name them in the first place, so questioning that much would be a waist." At that, you look back to Letty. "And you shouldn't do anything to them if they do come. They would merely be performing their jobs if they are even on the clock yet."

"You really do not trust me, do you?" The woman hardly sounds hurt at the thought.

"Actually, I do. But that doesn't necessarily mean anything good." Shaking your head, you head towards the trailer. "Wait here a min. I'm going to hand them their food." It doesn't take long to climb on inside the vehicle, even if you try not to hurry up for fear of drawing attention. You peer down towards the end of the trailer, and you can hear the soft breaths of Minoriko as she is still sleeping. However, during your brief inspection, you cannot find her companion. "Where is—"

"Shhh!" You tilt your head up and notice her clinging to the ceiling. "Be quiet before you draw any attention!"

"…Ok. First, are you alright? Is anything bothering you?" You immediately blink and rephrase the question. "Wait a mo. Is anything tangible bothering you, or did you have a bad dream."

"Comes with the memories, you know. Most dreams are poor. But none of that. Just… Don't want to wake her."

You look down where she is pointing and tilt your head. "Did she say something to you untoward? Or did she try anything like Letty would?"

"…She tried to pat me. On the head. She was half asleep, but… I know not what she wanted to do. I don't want to anger her, so I'll just stay up here until she is fully awake."

"That won't take long. A restful sleep can always result in a fitful wake that leaves them aware and miserable for the first few minutes." Shizuha smiles a bit as she somehow manages to slip by you in a space that is not large enough for her to physically fit.

That again is something you don't want to bother with. "Right. Well, let me just drop off all of this food." With that said, you put the bag on the table and spill it out, dropping most of everything on its surface. Once the contents were evacuated, you pluck one biscuit from the collection of condiments and sandwiches before heading for the door. "We'll see you later. It shouldn't be too far, either way. Plenty of time to wake up, at least."

At that, you turn around and leave them be before climbing in the cab of the truck itself. It takes a moment for the girls in the back to shut the door, and Letty is in no hurry to get inside. A few minutes later, though, you are on the road and pulling onto the highway once more.

"Hrm. It is not like her to go out of her to do that." Letty talks to herself for a few more minutes as you head east. "Truly a pity. I almost am sad that we are chase by someone such as that."

Tempted as you may be to respond to her, you stay quiet and let her rant. As you drive along, you see a sign indicating another highway an hour or so out, which gives you another route out if things go south.

The woman shakes her head and casts her eyes at you. "You are curious. I expected you to ask me to go in the back after we left."

"…What would I have to gain by doing that aside from annoying everyone here? I can abide your company perfectly well."

"I would not be annoyed by such a thing. It is quite fun to irk that goddess, and lowly fairies are just as amusing."

"…That's the other reason. I feel as if I have intimated as much that we don't want that to happen." You cut your eyes toward her. "Let's keep the jibes and the veiled threats down for now as you try to posture yourself. I just want some peace for a little bit. If I'm stuck with all of you… Well, I would like to continue without having my head bit off."

Letty chuckles darkly at that. "I am not so crude as that… But very well. With a life as short as yours, I can gather why you would seek quiet instead of cherishing the volatile interactions." With that, she finally does fall silent, and you quietly urge Lisa on as fast as possible. The engine hums in every response; the truck doesn't seem to strain much at all to pull the heavy load. You smile a bit at the familiar roar as you drive along.

------------

The park that the pimply boy spoke of is easy enough to find, although it takes a little while to find an entrance. Either the park isn't staffed by a crew at the entrance or they didn't bother to show up. You can't blame them at all, and you gladly take the chance to head inside.

However, you can only go so far into the facility. Gravel roads hardly extend that far into a natural park, and your truck isn't well suited to travel on dirt trails even sans the trailer. You'll have to blaze your own trail on foot.

At least, you will now if you want to find them. While you tried to ask Rengeteki to go search on her own, that doesn't fly very well, as she seems fearful that she'll be killed or left behind in the process. Seeing as you'll need the paranoid fairy to have any luck of finding others of her kind, you venture out with her.

To their credit, the others stay behind, although Letty loiters behind your small troupe. You try to broach conversation with Shizuha, as you're curious about all she was up to the previous night, but she just says a few words to deflect your attention and drifts off as well.

Instead of trying to convince any of the others to converse, you turn all of your facilities instead to finding anything else that may lurk in the forest. You may not be able to feel the cold or heat or any other odd minutiae of the creatures that may lurk in the words, but your eyes are still sharp and you can hear well enough. If they are dressed in something as extreme as the girls, there shouldn't be much of a challenge spotting the bright colors of their outfit among the brown and red and yellow.

An hour or two later, though, and you are having no luck at all. Rengeteki flicks nervously ahead of you, and never manages to spend a second sitting still as she darts from tree to tree. She never flushes anything out, though, and she seems confused. There isn't enough magic in the air, and all the trees are fading. It seems unlikely for anything to be found.

However, just as you are ready to go back to the truck and decide your next move, Letty tells you to stop. You spin around towards her as she holds up her hands and her eyes track something that you cannot see. Whatever it is, she is pausing long enough for you to try and see what it wants. However, as the grin on her face widens, it's doubtful you can stop her for long.

[ ] Whatever it is, tell them to come out.
[ ] Ask Rengeteki to ask it to come out, if it's another fairy.
[ ] Tell Letty to make them freeze.
[ ] Other(?)
>>No. 58157
[x] Whatever it is, tell them to come out.

We don't want any trouble, well most of us anyway. Letty is up for debate on that front.
>>No. 58169
[x] Ask Rengeteki to ask it to come out, if it's another fairy.
-[x] If they don't come out, let Letty freeze them.

Best not to take chances, and she could use the opportunity to cut loose.
>>No. 58171
[x] Whatever it is, tell them to come out.
>>No. 58353
File 139658828061.jpg - (760.01KB, 1000x1400, this is always a bad sign when it happens.jpg) [iqdb]
58353
[-e+1-] Whatever it is, tell them to come out.

------------

"Whatever or whoever is back there, you need to go ahead and come out." You cross your arms and peer in to the forest, looking towards the spot that the others are watching. "We don't want any trouble at all, but if you're going to try and do anything hostile…" You certainly can't stop Letty if she decides she wants to attack someone, but you can hopefully talk her down.

Those words are not enough to coax the intruder out of their cover. Rengeteki's eyes dart around, from you to Letty and to the woods rapidly, never focusing enough on a single point the entire time. Your breath hangs in your throat as you wait for someone to answer. After a few seconds you take a few tepid steps forward, approaching the trees that the person is supposedly hiding behind.

Behind the bark and bare branches is merely empty space. There is no creature there, no fairy with oddly colored hair and no human lurking and skulking in the forest as you are. You just shake your head and continue to look, but you have no luck. "Are you sure that you saw something here? If it's someone who wanted to be found, they'd be here."

"Then they do not want to be found, obviously." Letty snorts and clenches her fists a bit. "That one is still here. And they don't smell like a fairy. She smells more like brimstone. Maybe a little sulfurous stench to go along."

"Your nose is much too strong. And how can you be sure that it's a female?" Shizuha just pats you on the shoulder before she circles around as well. "…I guess that means it's a stupid question? Bah. Doesn't matter." You watch the others for a second as they continue to look around, and you just shake your head. "Fine. They must have gone now—"

Someone is here. You know it. The how is not known, but you certainly are aware of someone that is lurking here. How do you know, though? You frown and look at the others before looking back at the forest.

The other girls seem ready to head on or look elsewhere, but Rengeteki gives you an odd look as you suddenly turn around and stare at the spot once more. "…Is there something wrong? I thought we were going to search elsewhere."

"There is someone here."

"How can you tell?" The fairy tilts her head to the side and looks at you for a few second. "You don't seem to be focused. There's something off with your eyes."

Now that you mentioned it, you do have a hard time focusing. Or you did, at least. Now that you concentrate on doing so, you find that you're easily able to look at anything. "Is there something in the air here? Some kind of gas…"

Minoriko inhales deeply and she and Rengeteki both shake their heads in synchronization. "There is nothing here that can be disturbing us. None that I would know at least. We could simply say that it is our paranoia acting up and we are getting tired…"

"Or our minds are simply being affected." Even as Shizuha finally speaks, you feel your senses lock up as a panic spreads through you. The moment it wells up in your heart, it suddenly disappears. "She doesn't mean any harm. She just doesn't want to hurt anyone if the snow lady tried anything."

"Hrm…" Letty frowns a bit and stares straight at you. "Satori, come on out. I'd rather you not play around with this human anymore." Her voice is as icy as always, but you notice some flash of fire on the tip of her frozen tongue.

Worried as her tone of voice makes you, it is ignored as you hear leaves crunch behind you. Yellow blurs as your vision finally lands on another girl wearing a black hat. She stares at you with all three of her eyes before she looks at the others. "Well, you can't blame me for hiding so much. You were threatening me before I even appeared."

"With good reason, it seems. I know you too well, satori. How many times have you been by my cave only to cause mischief of sorts that is random and unheeded?"

The girl just snorts and crosses her arms. "I was terribly bored wandering all of that time. And considering how you are, I would have acted the same had my eye been open." In the middle of her sentence, she turns and looks to Shizuha for absolutely no reason. "And yes, I am aware it is."

The assumed goddess merely raises an eyebrow at the intruder. "Then you know the next thing we are to ask then. Any conversation would end up pointless."

"That is what you assume. Your minds do work differently when you speak. Back then, I had noticed that speech does provoke the far corners of the mind far more than uninterrupted thought." A coy look crosses her face as the girl grins and tilts her head. "Of course, I could just go ahead and look without asking. Shall I just bypass all pretenses?"

Minoriko just huffs and raises her nose. Behind her you notice the fairy is clinging to the back of her shirt, and the younger sister is either unaware of the girl or, more likely, is ignoring her. "Why would we even let you do such a thing? We are hardly defenseless, and we are not so submissive to let you do as you will."

"My question is why we are posturing in the first place." Letty hardly looks like she wants to back down, and Shizuha is, for once, imitating her sister and maintaining the same imperious, distant look. "Since we're actually talking instead of fighting, I think it's safe to say that this isn't one of those monsters that eat people." You look down at the girl and raise an eyebrow. After all, what are the others so worried about? She certainly was able to stay out of sight, but they almost look threatened.

Out of nowhere, the girl begins to laugh. "Well, I see that they never talked to me. Then again, I never did like to leave much to remember me by. Not that I was particular aware of that in the end."

"…How did…"

Shizuha shakes her head and looks at the newcomer. "I'm going to go ahead and agree with my friend on that remark. You really shouldn't be messing with our minds."

"If you insist as such." She shakes her head before looking at you. "I'm a mind reader. You would call me such a thing, at least." You can't help but to clench up a bit at that remark, instantly hoping you can cut her off with just mental effort. "That won't work, you know. It's nearly passive. Your heart is open to me to read. For me to ignore your mind would be for you to look at the sky and not see blue."

"Well, that's just peachy. So much for privacy." You cast the girl a bit of a dirty look, still regarding her carefully. "You sound just like Letty while talking about that."

"Actually, she sounds like me. She merely wished to scare and impress you." Letty just nods as she speaks, as if such things are obvious. The conversation lulls for a second as everyone continues to stare each other down. "Well, at least I can go ahead and answer that question that's on your mind."

The supposed mind reader crosses her arms and looks at Letty and then at the two sisters. "I've been searching for my sister. When we ended up in this new land, I was lost for a long while. My eye was closed, so I continued to act as I did then…" She holds up her hand as you open your mouth. "It's a long story. I closed my third eye, as I hated being feared and despised by humans. Once it was gone, I began to act erratically."

"That's putting it lightly." Minoriko snorts and shakes her head. "How many times have you been in my fields and stripped every third plant of their fruit?"

"Only once."

"…I distinctly remember multiple years having their crops lost."

The girl shakes her head. "The other years it was every fourth plant. …Or it was some sort of pattern. Maybe I stole it from one of the schoolteacher's lessons. Or the kappa. Could be the kappa when they were having a lucid period."

Minoriko snorts and shakes her head. "That's a rather bold thing to say, considering who you are."

"I am just a little crazy now. Not completely mad. And I wasn't as bad as you were saying. I just… didn't care. It's not easy describing your heart being shut off without experiencing it yourself." She shakes her head once more. "Anyways. I eventually did realize that my sister was here… All by herself. I couldn't stand a few hundred of them. Sis was always the stronger one… But there are millions of people here. I didn't know what to do. I had to find her, so I had to open it back up. …I didn't think I had it in me."

Both Letty and Minoriko seem to be mulling something over, but Shizuha speaks up before ether can say something acidic. "Well, that is worrying. We had heard of something happening in one of the cities here. Our human friend here does seem rather fond of keeping up with the daily happenings."

"I'm sure that Aya would sucker him with a subscription, then." The various supernatural creatures crack a smile at that, and you can't help but to feel insulted. "That was what I had found out as well. I may have been out of the loop for a long time, but I managed to catch up easily. I sought out the location that was being tormented… And I found that she had made the same mistake that I had." The girl looks down a bit, and the momentary jovial look fades into oblivion.

"But you weren't able to do anything?" Shizuha tilts her head to the side, and a shadow falls over her eyes as she follows the girl's gaze. "Otherwise you wouldn't be here yourself. I did not see your fight against the shrine maiden on the mountain back when, but I have noticed a few times since. Was there some reason in particular that you were unable to accomplish anything, or…"

"…She is my sister, and she was always the stronger one. But she has dealt with the hate and anger and the sorrow that I induced for so long. I was… I was shocked to see what had happened once she decided to let the emotions out." The girl sniffs a little bit and wipes a tear from her face with the back of her hand. "I shouldn't really be surprised, really. It's been centuries since our hearts have been one. The one chance that I have to come to my senses…"

Letty just shakes her head and crosses her arms. "So, what point is there to tell us? She'll burn out eventually. It may take a few decades, or more, but in the end she'll come back to her senses."

"I don't think that it'd last that long. If things get too bad in the city, the government will try to do something. Sooner or later, they'll figure out the source."

"…He still isn't aware of what we're talking about, is he?" Minoriko looks at her sister before shaking her head. "He doesn't understand the scale that we're talking about here."

"How could he? There's no frame of reference for him. He treats the two of us as humans, after all." Shizuha smiles at you before looking back at the girl. "Still, the humans that are pursuing us are rather persistent. I'm sure that they'll end up doing something."

The girl looks at you for a second, back at the sisters, and then back at you. While you don't feel anything, you can't help but to feel a bit prickly with every passing second. She doesn't even stare as she examines your forehead. "So, what is it that you find so interesting? If you're not looking away, I guess you're reading something?"

"You do seem to be a bit more comfortable when I make it obvious. I decided to just take pity on you." The girl nods and wipes her nose on her sleeve. "I witnessed a host of men attempting to storm the bridges and take some sort of… beachhead? An odd term. Anyway. A few hours later, they come back with their minds broken."

"…Well, that went from bad to worse." Still, at least if they are preoccupied with the city up north, you can take advantage of their distraction and hopefully find some leads. You'll just have to be careful. Maybe find some references on more disappearances, Dig out small articles about unusual troop movement far from the front, as it were. You could use this to your advantage.

"Which is why I've been looking for help. I can't do this by myself. Not with eight million humans at her beck and call. I'm not that good."

You jerk your head up and stare at the girl. She is resolutely ignoring you, and her eyes seem to be focused on the others. Curiously enough, Letty does seem to be considering the plea, although you know a few things that might be able to persuade her. Even though the girl's face is cute enough, you suppose, a quivering lip and big eyes won't turn you towards more trouble. You're already enough of it as it is.

"We'll come and help." Shizuha sudden speaks up and nods. "There's little we can do, but we shall."

"Sister?" Minoriko snaps her head about and looks at Shizuha. "Why are you doing this? You barely have enough power to do anything at all. I'm sure that the red-white will show up eventually."

"She will, but then there will be little left for her to do." Shizuha just nods and looks at the girl. "We must do all we can to end this before Satori does too much. Isn't that right, Letty?"

"It's not our fight. But I've been wanting one for quite a while." The woman stretches a bit before linking her hands behind her head and leaning back. "I suppose I should not complain. There's really nothing to gain but a favor… Then again, you already do owe me a few, Koishi Komeiji. You've interrupted a few dalliances of mine over the years."

"I thought I only came in when you were—" She suddenly snorts and shakes her head, nearly knocking her hat off in the process. "Never mind. But I do need it. You're the first ones I've found that weren't just fairies. Even the great fairy didn't want anything to do with it. She was just too busy trying to find her best friend."

Rengeteki puffs her cheeks out a bit before flitting up. "Just because we're just fairies doesn't mean we can't take care of ourselves. I'm perfectly capable."

Koishi smiles a bit and claps her hands. "I'm so glad you volunteered to come help me out, then! You can show me what you can do."

"Wait, I didn't…"

"Didn't you say that you were a perfectly capable fairy? If you're not…" The grin on the girl gets a bit wider. "Well, I'll understand if you don't want to come."

Rengeteki blushes horribly and crosses her arms before spinning around. "You're horrid, you know? I just wanted…" She grumbles. "I'm helping my friend here. His family took me in. I have to help him get it back…"

Koishi nods excitedly before nodding quickly and looking at you. "So, all the others have agreed. Are you coming, human?"

"Wait a second!" Minoriko quite nearly stomps her foot before glaring at the other two. "I never agreed to do anything at all. You could at least wait until I say yes."

"We both know that you will come with me, Minoriko." Shizuha pats her sister on the shoulder before squeezing firmly. "And this is something that we must do." With that, she looks over at you with steady eyes. "Is this where we part ways?"

[ ] It is. You have things that need to be done.
[ ] No, it isn't. You'll go along for now.
[ ] You need to know about ______ before you'll do anything.
-[ ] Response based on what she says.
[ ] But what about my search? I'm still looking for...
>>No. 58354
[X] No, it isn't. You'll go along for now.

While it would be amusing to see what happens when we decide to part ways, I suppose I have to go with the more reasonable unreasonable option.
>>No. 58355
[x] No, it isn't. You'll go along for now.

The wheels have been set in motion and it'd be easier to deal with the results with them than alone.
>>No. 58356
[x] No, it isn't. You'll go along for now.

Actually, there's practical reasons for this. He's looking for his parents, but has no real leads. Well, one big lead just dropped right on his head. Besides, it isn't like he serves no purpose here. He's the only member of this group that really understands the world at large, which means he's valuable for the 2hus to keep around.
>>No. 58373
[x] No, it isn't. You'll go along for now.

So, now Koishi's the sensible one while Satori's the one running amok and causing chaos?

...Shit's pretty bass-ackwards.
>>No. 58375
>>58373
I don't think you can ever call Koishi sensible. Just too worried to bother being crazy. Not disputing your sentiment, though. I'm curious if anyone can piece out what happened.
>>No. 58376
>>58375

Well... it sounds like Satori and Koishi found themselves in the outside world, and Satori was overwhelmed by the thoughts of millions, causing her to close her third eye. Meanwhile, Koishi opened hers out of fear for her sister. And Satori is apparently mind-fucking an entire city. That about right?
>>No. 58377
>>58376
Pretty much. Although I was referring to the whole situation in general. i.e., what happened to Gensokyo.
>>No. 58378
>>58375
Eh, close enough.

>>58377
As for the whole situation, I'm gonna go out on a limb and assume (gasp!) that this is your idea of a 'lighter and softer' story, and therefore has no relation to a guy named Lucas. So all my theories on that universe have no bearing here.
>>No. 58380
File 139719550166.jpg - (1.02MB, 1000x1412, first route locked technically third.jpg) [iqdb]
58380
[-f+1-] No, it isn't. You'll go along for now.

------------

"No, it isn't." Although you are quite annoyed for being put on the spot like this, there is too much to do yet. At any rate, you're going to need their help to have any luck at finding your kin. "I'll come along. Besides, we weren't going to have much luck just hoping in the end."

Shizuha smiles at your response, but she tilts her head to the side. "Then why were we proceeding this way, then?"

"There was nowhere else that we could go, really. I had to make the best of the situation. Not that there was much that I could do…" With that said, you look back at Koishi, ignoring the look in her eyes. "Fine, then. What part of the city is she in? Or do you know anything at all?"

"I don't have a clue where she might be." The girl tilts her head and rocks back and forth a little. "But if you're heading up, you need to get going. I need to find any others that may be willing to help."

"You're not coming with us? How can we know what is going on up there?" That situation doesn't sound right at all. "Were there any others that you encountered up there? Any of your kind? Were there any other attempts to break into the city? There are so many things that are important in that situation…"

Koishi holds her hand up and stops you from going off on any longer spiel. "There isn't anything else I can tell you. I didn't enter into the city. If I did, I would have risked contact with my sister. And in her state, with so many allies that she has managed to create out of the humans, I most likely would have been overwhelmed."

"…Then what do you expect us to do?"

"To head up there and wait for help." Koishi shakes her head once more, even harder this time. "I can't do this alone, but I've been looking for too long. I'll take the long path around and see if I find any others that wish to assist us."

"…At least you're not asking us to throw ourselves bodily at that entire city."

"Both you and I know that's not how you work." The smirk returns to her face, and you resist the urge to swallow and back away from her. "…The sad thing is, I would have been more disturbed by your reaction long ago. I will just have to hope that my heart opens even more… If it hasn't been permanently affected otherwise."

That's enough soul searching for you. With that thought in your head, you shoot Koishi a pointed look and turn toward the others. Well, if you all are going up there, we'll need to head north. We'll have to discover how much of the region has been cordoned, and try to figure out where this girl is."

Koishi blinks and looks down, her superior grin vanishing as quickly as it appeared. "I do not know where she might be, but… If she's anything like herself, she may be with the animals. She can't hear them with her eye closed as it is…"

"Well, at least that's something. Heaven knows how many pet stores are in that city. I'm not even going to guess the amount of vermin." With that, you look at each of the others and sigh. "Fine. Let's get going now. It's going to be a long enough drive, and I'm going to be stiff as a board at this rate. I don't know how long since I've had to drive this much."

"Sacramento." You blink and look back at Koishi as she winces a little. "I really didn't mean to look that time. Just… extrapolated and followed down a few of your thoughts…"

"Hrmpf." You turn away from her and start heading back on the path you took to get here. "Let's go. I feel like things are going to be picked clean out of mind if we stay here much longer."

Rengeteki looks over from Minoriko before flitting onto the ground. "If you want us to. I'll go make sure that everything is ok, then." At that, she runs on ahead and back towards the truck.

"I suppose you really scared that fairy, satori. Then again, it's easy enough for anything to spook her. Head's not quite screwed on right, you know?" The snow lady grins at Koishi before heading off. "Just remember, you'll owe me even more for this one. I hope you'll recompense me soon enough."

Once Letty is gone, Koishi just shakes her head. "I owe most everyone in Gensokyo for something or the other. Some of those I would rather repay, compared to others." With that, she looks at Minoriko and then Shizuha. "I will be there as soon as I can. Thank you for doing this."

"You are most welcome." Shizuha bows just a little. "There isn't much that we can do. But helping your sister also helps the rest of us, should we succeed." That being said, Shizuha turns and heads out with the others, with Minoriko close on her heels.

"Hrm…" Everything else done, you head out to leave, but Koishi talks once more. "I'll try to be there by tomorrow morning. I'll fly when I can, but it'll be easier for me to find help when I'm on the ground."

"That's good to know. Just don't wait too long. The authorities are going to do something to try and fix that city. And if not, they'll contain and destroy it. So you'll want to hurry up."

"I know what you are imagining. I do not think it will get that far." It's none of your concern anyways, at least right now, so you just shrug and turn to walk away. "…You can trust them, you know. You're keeping them at an arm's length. They won't betray you like your partner did."

Trees blur as you snap your head back. "Would you please stay out of my head? None of that is your business. Nothing at all."

The girl tilts her head, this time looking only a little contrite. She had ventured into your mind on purpose. "Someone has to say it. Even if the elder goddess is a hard one to read, I know that the three of them mean you no harm at all."

"So Letty does mean harm? That's good to know."

"That's not what I meant. And you know precisely what she desires, don't you?" With that, Koishi shrugs and starts stepping backwards. "We will see you tomorrow, hopefully." A few steps later and she has vanished, as if she was never there. "

"…This is starting to get unbelievable. I hardly want to get wrapped up in something like this." They're futile words, and you know it quite well. Still, it makes you feel better as you turn the air blue before heading back over the rest of the girls.

Upon completing the long trek, you find them all waiting, with Letty leaned up against the trailer, Rengeteki awkwardly kicking her feet as she perches on a nearby picnic table. The two sisters are not conversing, as Minoriko has vanished and Shizuha is primly waiting for you to return. All eyes turn to you as you enter the clearing, but you ignore them as you head to the truck.

However, considering the look Rengeteki is sending you, you can't just ignore all of them. "…Just go ahead and get in. We're not going to be in too far, as we're going to need directions and gas soon enough." You look at the fairy and try to smile through your miffed mood. "It won't be long until we'll be out again."

With that being said, you go ahead and climb in, letting the others sort it out. Curiously enough, you notice that three of them climb in the back while you settle into the front seat. The passenger door clicks open as you crank Lisa up, and you see a familiar blonde sliding herself into the seat. "…Funny. What's up with you? I didn't imagine you'd talk the others into staying back there."

Shizuha smiles thinly as she shakes her head. "I merely wished to speak with you. I felt you'd be more comfortable without my sister around. I know that the two of you are fond of butting heads."

"Wait a second, are you trying to say that I enjoy that? It drives me nuts when she does." You can't help but to snort as Lisa jerks backwards, shaking the trailer as you turn your truck and load about. "Now, she's gotten a lot nicer, and she's stopped making as many unreasonable demands… Although that usually happens when that fairy is around."

"My sister does have her soft spots. Fairies go out of her way to drive her crazy all of the time, but she is aware that the one that we found is not the same as the others. She is merely too proud to admit that." Shizuha sighs and leans back in the seat as best she can. "She hopes to impress you with that, someday. If only she could show you the full extent of her powers…"

"Then she should stop. She's starting to sound like a villain on a Saturday morning cartoon." You shift the truck into gear and pull away, heading back for the main road. "The only thing she has impressed me with is her stubbornness."

Shizuha smiles a bit more at that before looking ahead. "One of her more charming qualities, in the end. That much I can assure you." The supposed goddess rests for a bit, closing her eyes and enjoying the light of the sun. "At least most of the time."

The cab of the truck is quiet for a few minutes as you pull onto the road and continue onwards. "You wanted to talk about something in particular. What was it?"

"I wanted to enjoy the ride for a little bit before it became potentially awkward." Shizuha sighs and leans forward before turning her eyes to you. "There's something I wanted to ask you. What is it you are hiding from us? Something in your past bothers you enough to drive you to fits when Koishi so much as broached the subject."

Your face tightens up as she asks. "At least you are asking me directly. …In the end, it doesn't matter at all, does it? That much is my business and mine alone. There's nothing to worry about, you know. What's done is done."

Hums are the first response that you receive. "Truly? I suppose it really doesn't, although you were rather perturbed at direct confrontation such as this. I suppose it can be explained as something being too big for you to do anything about. And yet… There are other things that I have noticed."

"Really? Perhaps you'd like to share, then."

"If you insist." Shizuha looks away and starts recounting every instance that she can divine. "You responded quickly when that man approached us at your home. A little too quickly. That was not your first time encountering someone in that position, was it?" You don't dignify her with a response and she continues to speak out loud. "You know how to pick locks, which seems to be an oddly common human skill, but it doesn't imply anything good. You are armed, but you don't want to be seen as armed. Which is certainly odd enough. And when we ran, you knew where to go and what to do. It may not have worked out on a few occasions, but you were much too accepting of such an instance. You had less of a problem being a fugitive than believing in magic."

"And… There's something wrong with that?" You glance over at her after you pull onto the nearby highway. "I know now that you all can do something. Magic. There are still a lot of things not explained, and nothing that I can do until I see proof of the rest."

Shizuha snorts out loud, and her voice becomes slightly more acerbic. "Perhaps that is how you fail to get along with my sister. You are simply as stubborn as she." She reaches up and pinches her nose, and she continues in a calmer voice. "However, I am quite curious about one thing. You lie easily. Much too easily. It makes me curious how you learned to do such a thing."

"…Do you have a problem with lying? I always have my reason, and if I did not it would attract too many questions."

"It depends, and I do understand your reasons. I just find myself curious." Shizuha tilts her head and offers a warm smile. Besides, you appeared quite troubled after emerging from the woods. If there was something you would like to share, I am willing to listen."

[ ] How do you respond?

------------

>>58378
That did make me chuckle a bit. As for lighter and softer... It and NST are not related. That's about all. You could have gotten Wriggle or Medicine if you had gone a different route

Also, a z vote is available. Just reminding.
>>No. 58382
>>58380
I STILL find myself curious as to what a couple of the wriggle scenes would have been like. Would our protagonist have mistaken Wriggle for a boy like myself and everyone in my group of friends? Would MC have made a Lord of the Flies joke?
>>No. 58383
[x] Tell her some vague details. Trust does not come easily, but a general outline of who you are, and why you believe as you do should satisfy her.


We can at least try to show her some trust, right? Shizuha is at least being up front with us.
>>No. 58384
>>58382
Elroy is a bit older, and ha sharp eyes. He would have noticed that she was female. Besides, it certainly wouldn't have been NST Wriggle. More of the medium-level sociability you might expect.

Instead, you have Letty.
>>No. 58385
[x] Tell her some vague details. Trust does not come easily, but a general outline of who you are, and why you believe as you do should satisfy her.
-[x]If she presses for more details, say that you'd rather not remember it yourself.

>>58384
>Instead, you have Letty.
You say that like it's a bad thing.
>>No. 58386
File 139742238948.jpg - (144.43KB, 782x1070, are you sure you want to go that route?.jpg) [iqdb]
58386
>>58385
I say a lot of things.
>>No. 58388
>>58384
I'd be more peeved if it was some super popular character than someone who's overdue for the spotlight.
>>No. 58389
>>58386
As someone who's voted a fair amount for NST, I certainly know that.

Also, yay, free fanart of Letty!

>>58388
THIS. As an amateur fanfic writer myself, I know I try and give the minor characters a chance to shine... But I fail. Most of the time.
>>No. 58390
File 139745273084.jpg - (130.11KB, 574x950, i find myself curious how you really feel.jpg) [iqdb]
58390
>>58388
>>58389

It's kinda amusing, but I find this is one of the easiest situations to make the minor characters shine. Put them in a position where they're no longer minor. One Stage 1 Midboss, two Stage 1 Bosses, and a Stage 4 Midboss are enough to carry the story so far. Sometimes I wish I could share my plans, as I have minor ones being part of the stage. You know others will show up eventually, though. These things like to escalate.

Also, I'm sure the first run of Graze the Rainbow was a Letty route, but that ended. It's a pity. I really like that story.

Conversation aside, I guess I'll just call it there, unless anyone else has any objections/additions. Might even see this updated before NST.

Have another Letty, just cuz. I don't want to burn a Rengeteki if I don't have to, although I did find a nice pic of Reimu's second maid from MS
>>No. 58391
>>58389

As a writer myself, I know that feeling. Heck, I use Rengeteki thanks to Begi making me fall for her back in SS! It really gave me ideas. I've gone out of my way to use unpopular characters ever since I started!
>>No. 58392
[x] Tell her some vague details. Trust does not come easily, but a general outline of who you are, and why you believe as you do should satisfy her.
-[x]If she presses for more details, say that you'd rather not remember it yourself.

>>58391
There will come a day when the SS/Gray plotline is completed. Someday, eventually. One can dream.
>>No. 58393
>>58392
Worked on Touhoumon tonight. Someday, perhaps.
>>No. 58398
>>58390
Lesser characters can do well but anon if presented with a super popular character, they'll go for that most of the time. I mean just look at all the Marisa or Alice stories in /forest/.
>>No. 58399
>>58398
There aren't many other characters that are commonly associated with the Forest of Magic. Wriggle, Mystia, and Rinnosuke are about it.
>>No. 58400
>>58399
Well, I can think of Tokiko, the dolls (Shanghai, Hourai, Kyoto, Amsterdam, London, Berlin, Orleans, Moscow, Lhasa, and Goliath), the flower field girls (Yuuka, Medicine, Su-san). The Three Mischievous Fairies depending on their home, Lily the White/Black, the sunflower fairies. Perhaps Ellen and Sokrates. Mimi-chan and the tsuchinoko. Heck, most of the PoDD crowd could be here. If you put the Lake of Blood here instead of /shrine/, you'd have Elly/Kurumi/Orange.

That's just off the top of my head. There might be even more, and that doesn't count some characters that do have associations at or near the forest, or are on the boundaries. (Thinking a bit of Mokou, who doesn't belong in /forest/, but could easily show up in it.) ...And etc.
>>No. 58401
>>58400
Well, while that may be true, one can't deny that it's debatable if Alice's dolls are even sentient.
Though I've sort of adapted the idea of Amsterdam being her own character, after I saw you do it. I took a much less grimdark way, of course, but still.
>>No. 58402
>>58401
Of course it is. And I'm not going to say they are or not. But if Shanghai and Hourai are treated as characters, the rest should be treated as well. Although, Shanghai and Hourai probably would be the most advanced ones.

Kyoto was already missed as well in this thread, though.
>>No. 58404
>>58402
You certainly seem adamant enough on the matter. Though, funnily enough, I went out of my way to make Shanghai not be a character.
Darn. I would've liked to see Elroy's reaction to a living doll. Maybe we'll get a chance with one of the others.
>>No. 58405
>>58404
I do like the little characters, yes. Perhaps a bit too much. Ah well. I have the update about half done. I'll try to get it up tonight.
>>No. 58407
>>58399
that's still the point, Mystia and Wriggle are /forest/'s neglected girls, similar to how anyone not named Kaguya or Eirin is /eientei/'s
>>No. 58409
>>58407

Do you count teh Moon Princesses as Eientei?
>>No. 58410
File 139763022443.jpg - (164.14KB, 773x823, so how much was true.jpg) [iqdb]
58410
[-g+1-] Tell her some vague details. Trust does not come easily, but a general outline of who you are, and why you believe as you do should satisfy her.
-[-g+1-] If she presses for more details, say you'd rather not remember it yourself.

------------

"It's not something I tend to share with others. I've only known you a few days; even my family doesn't know everything."

"It is good that I am not family then." Shizuha chuckles to herself and looks away. "I will not always be here to remind you of your faults. Besides, I'm certain that your past has little that is distasteful. There may be a lot of secrets hidden in the recesses of your mind, but even if this front of yours is a fake, it can't be far from the truth."

You remain quiet for a few more seconds as you drive along, taking your time as you traverse the road and consider the words you might share. "…The best disguise is always one dipped in truth. It's much easier to lie when so much of what you say is true, even partially."

The supposed goddess eyes you gimlet-eyed, gauging each word carefully even if her lips remain in that easy smile. "Now you're just starting to dance around. Obfuscation is something I have send before, and it does not resound coming from you."

"I'm hardly throwing up a smokescreen. I'm just taking my time explaining. We do have a long ride, and there are some things I don't want to share."

"Then don't share them. Besides, I've a few virtues from my long years. I am quite capable of being patient." Before you open your mouth, she holds up her hand and halts any response. "Do not bring up my sister at this time. We are not discussing her."

"Agreed. I'll end up distracting myself once more with another tangent on her manners, won't I?" Shizuha laughs airily, but her gaze doesn't lose any of her intensity. "Very well. I learned how to speak out of the side of my mouth to assist with my profession. When I was younger, I fancied myself a thief of a kind. Did a damn good job of it, if I do say so myself."

Shizuha just watches you for a moment before she giggles once more, although you think you see her roll her eyes. "Really? Funny. Something tells me you were caught, were you not?"

"…Well, yes. Although that was a bit unnecessary." Grumbling, you look back ahead into the distance, keeping your eyes on the road for now. "Started out as a simple thief, but I managed to weed myself into a number of situations that demanded a silver tongue and a wit as quick as mercury. I found that I excelled in that situation, even if I hated that world."

"Hrm. You've never suggested such a demeanor. Although you have switched accents numerous times."

"It's been years since I've done any of that, Shizuha. And, honestly, I don't think I have it in my heart to go and do it again. I'm much too jaded anymore."

The woman just titters to herself, and she finally finishes her thorough inspection of your face and leans back in her seat. She stares instead at the barren trees that line the sides of the road and stays quiet for a few seconds. "I can sympathize with you on that regard, Elroy. All of us have grown older in heart and mind. I sometimes am thankful that my age doesn't catch up with me as it does humans."

"I bet. You look at least ten years younger than me."

"You don't look that old now." Shizuha turns and smiles back at you. "Stop being so hard on yourself. There's nothing you gain out of berating yourself for that which you have no control over."

"Mmm." It's not an answer, and you both know it. "I thought we were talking about my past?"

"We are. There's no talking about your reaction to your past or your aging. So, you fancied yourself some kind of gentleman thief?"

"Not quite that much." You shake your head and look out the left window across the tarmac and grass. "I did it to support myself, after all. It wasn't something I did for a fancy. I kept going for a few years, making sure to not go so far as to draw too much attention to myself. Then… Well, things changed."

"Oh? How did they?"

Finally, you turn and shoot Shizuha another look. "They just did. Things got good… and then I was caught. That was all."

"Alright, that lie isn't particularly good. I know there's more to the story."

"Of course there's more to the story. But that's all that happened." You allow yourself to grin just a little bit before you look away. "There wasn't anything else special about it, really. Just something from when I was young and invincible."

"That still doesn't explain one thing, you know. Why have you gone so far out of your way to help us?" Her voice fades a little as she looks away. "Criminals do not help others without an ulterior motive."

"Are you really going to go there?" It takes a moment for you to remember that the trailer is on the hitch, as you are tempted to slam on the brakes and speak to her. "Really? Why are you getting all mopey? I helped you all before I needed you to do anything. Sure, now I need your help… But if you want to go, I won't stop you." You snort and look back ahead, straightening your path as you drive along. "Besides, you were just asking if we part not even an hour ago. Have you changed your mind already?"

"Not at all. Just… Well, I did think ahead of myself a bit." Shizuha shakes her head and closes her eyes. "I've known many over the years that would take advantage of others. Bandits and the like never gave quarter save for when their desires were sated. And then they'd show up and pay tribute with money covered with blood."

"I did keep a firearm then, but I did my best to not kill anyone. There's nothing elegant about going murdering others for me to procure money illicitly."

"Did you ever?"

"Did I? I kept a slapjack for a reason." You shoot her a look before putting your eyes on the back of the road. "That's about everything, really. I got caught, I went to prison for a long while. My sentence was commuted as I was forced to cut a deal or serve until I was old and gray. Besides, they had no luck in discovering where I hid a lot of the treasure I had yet to sell."

The woman hums to herself once more as she also turns and puts her eyes on the road. "Something tells me that is not all there was to it. You haven't admitted defeat yet. What would provoke you to go so far as to admit that, instead of waiting out and proclaiming your innocence."

"Just because I can lie well doesn't mean I like lying."

"That's not an answer. Or was that a falsehood itself?" Shizuha smiles and chuckles softly as she sits there. "Thank you for sharing as much as you have. Did I pry too much?"

"Not yet. Although, anymore, and I'd have to check and see if you had a crowbar hidden in that outfit of yours. By the by, does anyone from that home of yours dress normal? I thought Rengeteki was odd, but there's something wrong with so many odd, bright colors."

The woman lets out another laugh at your remark. "If you believe that there is something questionable about her dress, than I can't wait to see your reaction if we cross across some of the odder girls."

"Sometimes I wonder how much of your personality that you share with your sister."

"Enough of her acerbic portions that I can use if I so desire. I do have to put up with her most of the time, after all."

"I pity you, then. …Not enough to take your place."

"She certainly grows on you if you give her half the chance."

"Considering what she's done with plants, that's not a turn of phrase that I particularly appreciate." You sigh as the conversation falls silent for a few moments, and the jovial mood fades away by a smidgen. "So, what did you think of my story?"

"It truly is fanciful enough that I'm curious as to how much is true or false. How much of your true persona is false, then, if that is real?"

"Perhaps the other is fake, and the current real?"

"Hmm. Possible. Although, in the end, I think that I'll simply remain with my current preconceptions. You did help us out on your own accord, as you kindly point out." She chuckles one more time, this time sounding a bit darker than before. "Besides, Letty wouldn't find you amusing if you were as brutish as you could possibly be."

"Well… I can't convince you by saying anything else." Shrugging a myriad of thoughts off, you take one last glance at her before sighing and turning your eyes to the road. "Now, let's get going. I'd rather not have any of the others questioning too much."

"Indeed. But, all things aside, there was one other thing I was wondering about." You wait for a few seconds for her to ask, although you think up a myriad of things that she possibly could be asking. "What, exactly, is Sacramento?"

------------

The conversation with Shizuha, while tense in some chances, did allow you to get a lot off of your chest, but you soon were driving on after stopping by a Quick Mart for gas, food, and directions. Your money is starting to dwindle too much for your own tastes, and you know you'll have to go out of your way to find an additional source soon. Perhaps by tomorrow, even. This truck still will need more gas.

The woman slides out of her seat with a smile, and you find that the fairy replaces her for a little while. Rengeteki is not vocal in the slightest when she joins you, and instead manages to nod off not five minutes after leaving the fueling station. You certainly know how relaxed you can get after leaving Letty's presence, so you leave her be and don't turn on the radio.

However, as you drive farther northeast, you realize that this is going to be even more difficult than you imagined. This is the most densely populated portion of the country you are approaching, and a steady stream of cars seems to be traveling in the opposite direction. You hardly can blame them; this is the ideal time to visit family in the countryside and stay for a few days — or weeks.

At least you'll count your blessings, as neither cop nor soldier has come up behind you to pull you over. You don't think you can talk your way out of another one unless Letty feels like she is in an extremely good mood.

Traffic begins to get a bit thick, and you start to bog down north of the City of Brotherly love, but you keep on chugging along. The traffic on the outer bypasses still isn't that bad on the eastbound lane, although the discrepancy is making you worry.

Eventually, on an empty stomach and a low tank of gas, you manage cross the Delaware into New Jersey and pass by the capitol. Once that far, you turn off of the main road and head up the side streets, looking for a place to park. Even if you have to make your way to a supercenter in the middle of a small town, you just want an inconspicuous place to park a trailer.

Of course, the moment you pull into one, you realize how bad of an idea it is. "Well… I'll be. That's something… Different." Of course, you should have realized that this close to a disaster of such proportions there would be a run on supplies.

"Did… did you say something…?" Rengeteki yawns and stretches her arms and wings before looking up sleepily. "I'm sure I heard something."

Sometimes you wonder if the fairy is part cat. "Just talking to myself. I think we're going to stop here. Well, in another parking lot. This one is way too crowded. I'm sure there is something here." That being said, you manage to drag your cargo into an emptier lot not quite adjacent to the center. "I suppose I need to get caught up on what's happening. Can you get the others up? I'm going to ask around a little, but when I get back, I wanted to see what was going on."

"I don't think they'll be asleep. They sleep at night. That's why I can sleep in the day if I am safe. Then I can be awake when they should be asleep." Rengeteki gulps a bit at the thought of the others being up at night as well, but she manages to stammer out an answer to your question. "S-sure, I'll go make sure. I'll do my best."

"That's all that I ask of you. With that said, you take your time and make sure everything is locked up before heading off into the distance.

By the time you get back, you have been thoroughly hustled by the crowds, as there are more people around than you are used to having. At least there was some good by slipping in and allowing you to be thrashed by the crowd. Your wallet is just a little bit fatter now that you've plucked a few bills from some of the more affluent ones hoarding large bottles of water.

The state itself isn't in a state of emergency, but it's anything but that at this point. Something in the southern part of the state has gone on to make people spooked. A tanker ship managed to run itself aground in the mouth of the Delaware, while numerous bridges have failed in the middle of the day. It's not that unusual for old bridges like that to collapse out of nowhere, considering the thoroughness of government inspections, but that many at the same time certainly implies it was deliberate.

Of course, you have to weed all of that information out from the veritable surplus of information provided by hysterical men and women. There are too many tales of spooks causing cars to crash and Bigfoot sightings before near-fatal accidents to even take seriously. Mostly. On second thought, it might be best to ask the others about any of those things.

At least they're consistent on the absolute frightening situation coming out of New York, New York.

As you get back, you try to figure out what you are going to do. As far as you are concerned, you just need to hang back behind the others and lead them through the city as best you can. If you're lucky, you can tail them and wait for those men to show up again. If, by providence of some sort, the others can help turn them back… Maybe you can use that to your advantage with those men. If not, you'll just have to hope you can find some sort of clue or way forward.

When you get back, you find the three sitting in various pieces of furniture confiscated from the interior of the trailer. You approach Shizuha, who merely smiles and looks up at you. "As wonderful as this stone is for driving upon, it is no comfort to sit."

"Since when can you read my mind?"

"Since when were your question so obvious?" She smiles a little bit more as she looks toward Letty. "Was there something you were saying?"

The snow lady shakes her head. "Nothing too particularly important. Merely… discussion." Letty looks up at you as she hums to herself. "Hrm. Now, what was it that you found?"

"A lot of rumors, and a whole lot of hogwash. About as good as I could ask for, though." You shrug once more and resist the urge to take a seat on the ground and instead look up at them. "Just getting the lay of the land, or as good as I can get from overly-excited people at a single market."

"Well, what are you going to ask us?"

"It's more like I'm trying to figure out what to do. We have to start here, get over to the city proper, and find this girl all the while avoiding millions of insane men and women. This is a little bit out of my league here."

Shizuha arcs an eye in disbelief while Letty leans forward. "So it is. There's little to it, in the end. If we go in separate, I can take care of anyone that will bother us. If that satori manages to make her way back, we might find that obsolete. It depends on how strongly she can make other people not care a damn."

"That sentence made no sense whatsoever, but alright. I'm just curious how we're going to get on and off without attracting attention."

"That is up to you. And I'll remind you that my sister and I can help. We may be… I may be weaker than I normally am, but I still am capable of enough."

"Are you?" Letty tilts her head to the side and looks at Minoriko. "I wouldn't think she'd want to, in the end. Perhaps she'd like to toss fruit."

"I am certainly most capable. And if you're not careful, you might find your head as a rotten head of cabbage might."

"Now, this isn't the time. We need something to go on…"

"Perhaps we do. But how interesting do you plan on making this?" The frigid woman smiles down at you with an otherwise stoic demeanor. "Aren't you still going to wait on that one?"

"I'd rather not depend on it. We're in no hurry to get in there… But at the same time, with every day any trail would grow colder, and the greater the chance of this event going hot. I don't want to have to dry and avoid bullets."

"That's hardly in the spirit of things, but you are more fragile than the rest of us." Letty smiles and crosses her hands. "So, we go ahead and plan as if we're going in the morning. I certainly can't disagree with that."

"The yuki-onna has a point. That girl is notoriously unreliable. There's no guarantee that she ever joins us." Minoriko shakes her head before glancing between her sister and you. "If you all are still set on this fool's errand, I suppose I shall have to assist as much as I can."

"Good. Then what should we do?"

[ ] Plan (choose who is primary)
-[ ] Shizuha
-[ ] Minoriko
-[ ] Letty
-[ ] Rengeteki

------------

>>58401
Forgot to ask what story you were using her in. Would love to see one with her.
>>No. 58411
Not putting in a vote yet, because open-ended questions aren't my friend.

>>58410
It's not on the Internet; I've started having second thoughts about the plot as a whole. I could see about putting a scene or two up on their own, but I can't promise anything.
It's a shame, too. I really liked where some of the character development was going...

>>No. 58414
[x] Plan
-[x] Shizuha

She seems to have her head on the straightest, so let's see what she has to say.
>>No. 58415
>>58411
You can always phrase the vote as unambiguously as you want.

That's a pity, then. Would have liked to see some, but shouldn't post it in this thread. Don't want to clog it up for archive and etc. But if you ever do, just send a link. Be interested in seeing what you've done.
>>No. 58417
Not sure if vote is to specify a plan, so following lead of >>58414
[]Plan
-[ ] Rengeteki
>>No. 58420
[x] Plan
-[x] Shizuha

let's here what she has to say.
>>No. 58426
[x] Plan
-[x] Shizuha

And by 'plan', I'm interpreting it as 'Let's sit down and figure out what the heck we're gonna do.'
>>No. 58431
It's not always the wisest decision to leave votes to interpretation. Either way, called.
>>No. 58445
File 139822645515.jpg - (76.50KB, 850x637, I really wonder who you will pick.jpg) [iqdb]
58445
[-h+1-] Plan
-[-h+1-] Shizuha

------------

"Well, I don't have any ideas right now… This isn't something that I'd typically attempt." You can't help but to sigh a bit at the enormity of the prospect. "How about you, Shizuha? Do you have any idea of what we should do?"

Shizuha clears her throat and folds her hands. "It will be… difficult, that is for sure. I am unsure of the mechanics of her mental domination of the populace of the city. We would certainly want to go out of our way to ensure that none of us are found by her mind."

"So you propose to float on ahead, imitating a leaf on the wind as you fly through the throng of humans? Quiet leaf, you may be good at escaping notice, but I do doubt that you would efface your very image from their line of sight."

"Now is not the time for horrid and drawn-out puns, Letty." Shizuha shakes her head and folds her hands together. "The best that we can hope for while we are in the city is to not draw attention. In a sea of minds so large, it would hopefully be difficult to find five more." The woman offers a smile before she proffers a few more thoughts. "In such a situation, it might be best to spread out in multiple groups. We do not wish to coalesce our conscious into a single spot that seems odd."

Rengeteki doesn't seem to like the thought of that idea, and her wings flap as she nearly lifts off of the ground. You quickly shush at her and turn around to make sure no one saw the flying girl. All the others that are busy dashing in and out of the market seem to be absorbed with their own business. At least you all benefit from their disregard. The fairy recognizes why you are chastising her, and she smiles nervously before turning to Shizuha. "You should know that splitting up is a dangerous idea! That's what always seemed to happen. Fairies go in and attack one two three at a time and they always end up being picked off quickly!" She huffs a bit and crosses her arms. "I don't want us to die by ourselves."

Before Letty can make a comment, you tap the girl on the shoulder and grin at her. "Calm down Rengeteki." You can't help but mutter under your breath, "I really need to think of a nickname." The fairy blinks owlishly, and you clear your head of distracting thoughts before continuing. "Now, don't worry about it too much. We won't die that easily, and I'll stay with you through this, alright?" You hear someone scoff behind you, but you can't tell who it is. "Besides, she has a point. We want to try and avoid getting caught."

"My question is how are we supposed to cross to the other side?" Letty finally raises her voice and looks across at Shizuha. "Those bridges will be guarded, both by the mad humans and these others that Elroy here seems so concerned about."

"Wait. Why did you…"

"Why did I what?" Letty grins a little bit, and she just continues over your consternation over being named. "And most of us can't fly right now, so that option is out of the question. So, how do you propose us getting across unnoticed?"

Shizuha reaches up and pinches her nose, and old eyes look back up at Letty. "Koishi will be here, so she can get us across. If not, we simply will take advantage of any conflict or chaos. I am sure that we can remove any that do prevent us from accessing that city."

Minoriko just shakes her head and sizes up Letty, putting her fists on her hips as she does. "I can create a bridge across if we must use one. A hanging vine of some sort can be used to cross, if tread carefully. Besides, it's not as if we can't simply craw underneath the bridges. Approach from the bank and simply crawl into the wooden structure underneath."

"…Something tells me that avoiding major population centers may not be helping your sense of scale, Minoriko." You're tempted to launch into an explanation of the type of city this is, but there are a few other things you have to do. "It's not a bad idea itself, but we'd be walking in during broad daylight if things go as plan. We'd be shot before we managed to crawl into the bridges."

"You really do expect the worse, don't you?" Shizuha shakes her head. "It is all dependent on Koishi making it back, I believe. As long as we enter the city unnoticed, the plan will work."

"But if we do get noticed? By either side?"

Shizuha bites her lip and shakes her head. "Like I said, I can do my best to remove any threats."

You cross your arms and just shoot her a look. "With what? Blowing leaves at them? Not to be rude, but—"

"I understand. Or rather, you don't… Well, I am certain you will believe soon enough." The girl smoothes her dress down before standing up. "I believe that should satisfy everything, shouldn't it?"

Letty just shakes her head. "Not particularly. I still think we shouldn't rely on it. The satori will know we are coming sooner or later. Better just announce it. I know I can create a bridge of my own. The waters will suffice once frozen over. And, if provoked initially, we may be able to track their movements back to the elder satori's location."

You sigh and look down as you consider what she says. "That could turn out poorly, honestly. If she has direct control over the throngs, she might be able to coordinate an attack. And if she merely is influencing their minds… Well, that won't be much better. We'd merely have to hope they are too busy acting irrationally to focus on us." Considering how Letty has been acting recently, she may just want a fight. "Are you sure you aren't just acting out your urges?"

The snow lady scoffs and shoots you a look. "Hardly. It would be simpler to approach the problem from head on. It depends on her mental state. Humans never change, and she would approach from honesty except a city's worth of lies and hatred."

"Ok, I know you too well for you to ever be altruistic."

"Do you? You've only known me for a short while."

"Alright, well, I'm sure you have your own reasons, but I'm still not sold on either plan." With that, you stand back up and stretch. "I'm going to have to give it some thought."

Minoriko just shakes her head. "Considering you do not believe what we are capable of, why is it that you are the one that will choose what we will end up doing?"

"Well, none of you have to do anything I say, but in the end, you all came with me this far. And I certainly won't overestimate what you can do." You let out another sigh and look at her. "Frankly, we just need to wait for the others to arrive as well. This is risky enough… I'd rather have someone who can take the heat off of us." With that said, you turn and walk off again, heading off into the night once more to clear your head.

[ ] Shizuha
[ ] Letty
[ ] Minoriko
[ ] Write-in
>>No. 58456
[x] Minoriko

Minoriko's plan to sneak in is honestly the wisest. I'm just not sure of it will owrk as planned. As noted, she doesn't have a good grasp of scale, here.
>>No. 58462
[x] Minoriko

She does seem to have the most sane, workable plan. However, like the other fellow said, she has displayed a poor sense of scale so far... this could easily become a problem.
>>No. 58466
[x] Letty.

Subtlety won't work when the whole city is watching. Just charge in and move fast before a response can be mounted.
>>No. 58468
[X] Letty

Because we have to appease the yuki-onna's tingly wholesale slaughter sense some time. Wouldn't want her losing interest.
>>No. 58476
Well, that makes a tie on both threads. I'll call it later tonight and pick the more amusing one by flipping a coin if it isn't broken by midnight server time.
>>No. 58477
Imma have to go with
[x] Letty

Sometimes, it's best to go in guns blazing... or freezing, as the case may be.
And maybe it's just the Frozen fan in me, but I actually kinda want to see Letty pull an Elsa and cause a massive winter in NYC.
...That was pretty much sarcasm on my part.
>>No. 58481
>>58477
Probably a good thing I never saw that movie. I won't be getting inspiration from it. Although you've made me curious now.
>>No. 58482
>>58481
[sarcastic rage]WHAAAAAT?![/sarcastic rage]
Nah, I kid. I kid.
In all seriousness, though, you should see it. And I'm not usually one to recommend Disney movies.
>>No. 58483
>>58482
Aye, I just might. I've heard good things about it at the least.

There really does need to be a sarc tag of some sort, though.
>>No. 58569
File 14004713585.jpg - (955.64KB, 1000x1494, And so we will begin soon.jpg) [iqdb]
58569
[-i+1-] Letty

------------

You may not particularly like the options that are presented, and hopefully they'll not be chosen. You've been through too much before to expect every plan to proceed as it is originally lain out. And depending on those other creatures… People. Mind readers? You're not quite sure what to call them.

As for who is here now, you'll have to go with the solid choice. Letty seems to understand what needs to be done in order to take care of the opposition that you will probably face. A town full of humans with the same temperament of rabid dogs will not treat you kindly.

Your footsteps fade away as you tread off of the concrete parking lot and onto the empty grass lot right next to it. "Hrmpf. Am I going to pick her again? I still can't understand why that woman is following me around." You can't help but to sigh as you stop in your tracks and look up at the sky. "…No stars. I certainly don't miss that. Even with things starting to fall apart, we still can't see that over the lights."

You let out a short bark of laughter as you shake your head. "Of course, why look up for them when you have a city full of lights that dot the land instead?" You look down and kick a rock before looking back at your truck. "…I'm going to have to leave the trailer somewhere. It's going to be a pain to keep hauling it. These city streets are not meant for RV's… and I imagine that the roads are only going to become more congested the closer we get."

"That, and I really don't want to take the truck, either. Odds would be that she'd be stolen or that she'd be destroyed." Your eyes flick down at the two figures that are still talking outside of the trailer. "Hrm. I wonder where she is. Might need to ask Minoriko if she can tie up the truck's axles with undergrowth; same as the trailer. That way it'd be enough of a pain for someone else to move her. Although, I don't think that she does weeds…"

"I am capable of it, but I would rather not." You snap your head to your side, and you find the sister standing right next to you. "Are you enjoying your time out here, monologuing your thoughts for the world to hear?"

"Perhaps. Who would be listening to me aside from our friends, after all?" A headache begins to pound in your head just at the sight of Minoriko. "Are you here to argue once more with me?"

The girl rolls her eyes before crossing her arms and fixing you with a level stare. "I may be obstinate enough, but if you expect me to come arguing every time then you will ignore what I say to some measure or degree."

"…Well, why did you come after me, then?" You meet her stare with one of your own, and neither you nor she blinks. "If not an argument, you want to try and persuade me of something."

"None of that. We've made our cases as short as we could. Excess details would only bother you more, and drive you to ignore my- our words." Minoriko bites her lip but refuses to look to the side. "After all, you would know what we are used to deal with, and I hope you do not desire to be placed in the reverse situation. None of us enjoy depending on you to the degree that we have."

"Then you may leave. …This is an argument that we've had plenty of times. I do not care to repeat it once more." You shake your head and look down at her. "I need your help far more than you need mine, though. I thank you for not leaving me in a lurch where I had no recourse otherwise."

She nods at that and relaxes just a little. "You did take us in. I and my sister are disappointed at your reaction to us. We sorely do want you to believe of us at our words. We've merely not had the opportunity to show the truth of our words."

"I've seen plenty, Minoriko. There seems to be no difference between your magic and that of the fairy or… well, Letty." After all this time, you're still not quite sure what to call the woman at times. "Are you going to drop it for now?"

"I will. I'll just impress upon you that there we do not make such declarations lightly. Not that you care." With that last barb out, she relents a bit more and looks away. "So, since you know where we're going…?"

You just shake your head and look towards the cityscape, which is unnaturally dark. "I don't know where exactly. Just remember that we're dealing with a city that has buildings the size of small mountains and streets that are made with this concrete. I do not think you or your sister would find yourself comfortable."

Minoriko frowns a little bit and looks to the city just as you are. "I can see them, as I have seen them all. I suppose there is something to what you say. There is nothing of that scale in our home, save for the mountains themselves. Neither of us dares to venture that far into the wastes, and the Tengu's home is not one we scale often. Those gods up there that cause trouble serve their purposes just as well."

"Sure, I suppose. Just don't be caught gawking. I do not know if you need some sort of natural ground to work your magic, but—"

"I will cope just fine. We are not limited to the exact words."

"So you're not." There's not much else to say to her and you shake your head. "Just don't end up gawking at sights that seem unfamiliar. We won't have time to wait around."

"I have seen much more than you have. I will manage to cope, somehow." Her frown deepens and she tilts her head. "Something that I have noticed about you as well. You are far too cold for a human, and there are other things…"

That is enough to attract your attention. You snap your head back and ask, "Other things such as?"

Minoriko meets your eyes for a second before shaking her head. "Never mind. Just mind yourself. You've been handling the yuki-onna quite well. Do not let her do as she wishes out of some base desire." With that, she starts heading back. "I doubt you'll listen to me, but I hope you'd ignore what I say simply for the purpose of being contrary. We'll see you in the morning."

Once she is gone, you wait there at the edge of the lot for a little while longer, still thinking. Minoriko leaves you annoyed and disturbed, but you put it to the side and look out. After a little while longer, you climb in the truck and lie down in the seat. You don't want to confront the others right now; sleep is all you want.

------------

The next morning, you manage to wake up at the break of dawn. You feel exhausted from all the driving you've done. It's not enough to keep you from moving and getting the others up.

They all are quiet, much more than they were the previous night. Rengeteki seems especially reluctant to so much as leave the trailer. You eventually cajole her into coming out, but there's little you can do to calm her down. She's conflicted between her desire to help you and her desire to remain safe where nothing can kill her. The best you can do is tell her that you're waiting for Koishi anyways, and that she needs to go and take care of herself.

Minoriko does send you a few worried glances throughout the morning, but she leaves you alone for the most part. She may finally be resigned to you never listening to her, or she may just be worried for her sister.

The elder woman, for her part, seems to be caught staring at the skyline in the distance. You couldn't really see last night, but now that day has come you notice the pillars of smoke that are rising throughout the distance. None are too great, and the city itself doesn't seem to be on fire. From all that you've heard, though, there is little doubt what the state of the city is. Shizuha seems glued to the sight, and her mouth is set into an uncharacteristic grimace.

The last of your companions is in the most jovial mood, but she doesn't have much to say either. She merely continues to glance at the sun as she sits outside. After you have eaten and done what you could to take care of yourself, you join her for lack of anything else to do. Even after an hour or so passes by, nobody does bother to appear out of the very air before you. No unseemly presence seems to deserve these magical girls that surround you.

After a little while, you turn the radio on to try and get any more news, or anything that might tell you what exactly is going on. Every channel nearby seems to be overloaded with a constant broadcast from a nearby military radio. All you can hear are constant orders to leave the Manhattan vicinity, as whatever has infected the inhabitants has been contained as well as possible. The area has been cordoned off, and they cannot be responsible for anyone who happens to enter of their own volition. No one inside the quarantined area will be released at all.

It's not a fun situation. But as the sun rises higher in the sky, you can't help but to wonder where Koishi is, and how long exactly you're going to wait.

[ ] Go on ahead to the city. She'll catch up.
[ ] Make your way to the outskirts.
[ ] Wait here. You don't want to risk going in without the odd girl with three eyes.
&
[ ] Anything else that you might want to write in.
>>No. 58571
[x] Wait here. You don't want to risk going in without the odd girl with three eyes.

I'll vote on the side of caution until I'm convinced otherwise.
>>No. 58572
[x] Make your way to the outskirts.

I don't wanna just sit here and wait. We don't have to move far, maybe somewhere out of sight. Just sitting out in the open within sight of the city doesn't seem like a good idea either.
>>No. 58573
[x] Make your way to the outskirts.
Doing something while remaining relatively cautious. Seems like an idea.

IT'S NOT DEAD YET!
>>No. 58592
[x] Make your way to the outskirts.
>>No. 58593
[x] Wait here. You don't want to risk going in without the odd girl with three eyes.
I know it may be futile, but I don't want to take the risk
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