"Alfred!" I scream, panic causing my heart to clench.
This cannot be happening. It isn't fair. After everything we've been through, after he showed incredible valor and determination, Alfred deserves better than this. He can't die now! By all those above, we're supposed to be working to restore a little justice to the world! How could this be happening?!
I... I just met him. He's someone to talk to. Someone to share my hobbies with, who actually listened with interest. He wanted to paint me, of all things. I wanted to take the time to get to know him, to spend my days off with him. Hell, I wanted to get advice from Komachi on how to... date him.
How can this be happening?!
Tears sting my eyes as I cradle the heroic man to my chest, barely acknowledging the non-linear beast slowly crawling out of Yukari's gap. The others are shouting, panicking, but I only have eyes for my Alfred. His grim stare. His eyes, full of concern. Gods, he's dying and he knows it, yet he's still worried about us over himself! A man like this deserves the express trip to heaven.
But... he's out of my jurisdiction. I'll never see him again after this.
A gentle hand strokes my cheek, brushing away my tears. I look down to see Alfred, gazing up at me intently. "Run," he gasps out, shuddering, "I just saved you... now get out of here... hurry..." he falls into a fit of rasping coughs at this, coughs that are not those a healthy person. They are the coughs of a dying man.
Before us, the External Beast howls a hunting cry, a song of hunger. The others cringe back in justifiable fear, but not wanting to leave behind their comrade, their savior, their friend.
Slowly, gently, I lower Alfred to the ground, feeling the wrath flow through my body. I haven't felt this angry in an age and a half. This beast dares? It dares to intrude on our realm, to try and hunt? Has it forgotten how its ilk were run out of this realm, screaming? It seems I must remind it.
I rise to my feet. Legal jurisdiction means nothing here. This creature is not a human soul. It is not of this world. It has no legal defenses. I am fully entitled to use my maximum strength.
Good. I need an outlet right now.
I sense the beast send an appendage my way, seeking prey. The others shout out warnings, but I barely hear them. They are unnecessary, in any case. The arm reaches for me, and I whirl about, striking it with the back of my hand.
Reality fractures at my rage, and the offending appendage is ruptured into its component concepts. The beast screams, a horrible sound to the others, a pathetic sound to me. My companions may yet be weak, but I was the last to be strapped into those damned machines. I can easily access my full power. And a thing like this is nothing before me.
Adrenaline runs through my body, dismissing any trace of weariness. My aura, my presence, fills the room, causing the others to gasp and reel back. Even Yukari has never seen me at my fullest, I note. So be it. Let them remember this. I step towards the monster, sensing it reel back in shock and... fear. Ah, so it finally realizes its position. Too late.
The thing tries to withdraw back into the depths of interspace, and I surge forward, seizing one of its tentacles and pulling with all of my might. That is sufficient to drag the entirety of its massive bulk close to this dimension. I hold out my right hand, and the Rod of Remorse responds to my anger, instantly transporting itself across the dimensional fabric to my hand. A minor breach of protocol, but acceptable considering the circumstances. I thrust my left out and glare at the beast, exerting my will.
Bolts of power, the might of Judgement itself, lash out of thin air, sundering the core of the being, fragmenting it into disparate fragments. Face twisting into a snarl, I leap forward and bring my Rod down upon one of these fragments, immediately reducing it to particles of Hunger and Toxin. Vile beast. A tentacle lashes out at me, and I smack it away with full divine force, shattering it into similar particles of Corruption. Honestly, such a sickening thing. How dare it even try to touch me?
I lash out again and again with the Rod of Remorse, my wrath causing the space around me to tremble, crushing the brutes existence before my will, and sundering what remains with bolts of Judgement. Finally, when all that remains is insensate particles of unclean being, I raise my hand and summon them to myself with a divine wind, a disgusting mass of black mist. With a shake of my head, I render my Decision, and Condemn this thing. It has no business here. Let it be no more.
With a jerk of my hand, I open a portal the the Final Damnation that some refer to as Hell. For its temerity in daring to approach our realm, let its remnants be purged in the true flames until final destruction. As the nearly-insensate remnants wail with what dismay it can muster, I cast the mass of corruption into the rift, and watch briefly as the soul-flames began to utterly eradicate it. That is enough; even I can barely stand to look into Hell for very long. With another gesture, I seal the portal, and then skip backwards out of the gap, which closes behind me.
Judgement has been rendered.
I turn to my friends, who stare at me with something between shock and awe, and allow my aura to recede, the crushing pressure of my presence fading away. "It's over," I say simply.
And then my eyes fall upon Alfred, who is smiling at me.
Now that was truly impressive. Ah, for a canvas and my paints! A brush would be nice, too. There is something awe-inspiring about a Yama in the midst of laying down the law. The others seem intimidated, but I know better. That was the sight of a true deity acting in defense of the world.
I think I might be in love. Pity about the mortal wound and all that. I wonder if I'll be permitted to see her again.
Eiki sees me and rushes to my side, grasping my hand in both of hers. "Alfred," she breathes, "Just hold on. We can save you! Yukari!" She looks up at the youkai woman with panic in her eyes, but Yukari just has a pained expression on her face.
"I'm sorry. I'm trying to send him to Eirin, but that toxin is throwing me senses off too much. I need a little more time..."
My vision is going hazy. Time is something that I don't possess any longer. Just one last thing. I squeeze Eiki's hand, and she looks down at me, face terrified, pleading. I smile at her.
"Dance for sometime, won't... you...?" I rasp out. Eiki, trembling, stares down at me, her tears landing on my face as she nods shakily. I nod back, pleased, and impress the sight of her beautiful face into my mind. I want it to be the last thing that I see.
Then I breathe one last time, close my eyes, and
[ ] A comfortable lap.
[ ] A warm smile.
[ ] Bouncy!
That probably would have been more of a fight if we hadn't picked the canonically most powerful Touhou that exists As it stands, and with almost her full strength, she could've taken down the Dragon God itself.
How odd. I never realized that dying could be so peaceful. Or is this death itself? In that case, it would appear that my primordial human fears have been sorely misplaced. This isn't so bad at all.
There is a gentle breeze blowing over my body. The scent of flowers, and another, very familiar scent is in my nostrils. My head is resting on something solid yet very comfortable, and a soft, gentle something is stroking my hair and face. I think I hear a gentle humming from somewhere nearby, and there isn't a drop of pain in my body.
I must be dead. And if that's the case, I suddenly don't mind in the slightest.
I open my eyes, and see Eiki's kind face smiling down at me with a loving expression. I realize that I'm lying on the ground, with my head on her lap. Well, then. It seems that I was good enough to deserve a trip to heaven, if this is my afterlife. That's... something I can live with quite happily. So to speak.
"How do you feel?" Eiki asks me quietly.
"This is a lovely afterlife," I say in a relaxed voice.
"It has its flairs, I must admit," Eiki chuckles in response.
I blink at this, and stare up at her. "Oh, wait. So then... I really am...?"
Eiki nods, suddenly solemn. "I'm afraid so. The wound was too severe, and the toxin from the beast had saturated your bloodstream. By the time Yukari managed to gap you to the hospital in Eientei, you were already gone."
I sigh. So, this really is death. I can't help but feel a bit disappointed. So many things yet undone... Glancing down at my body, my soul perhaps, I notice a lack of any injury. It looks like I'm perfectly healthy here, at last. A healthy soul... perhaps that says good things about me? With Eiki's help, I lever myself up into a sitting position and-
This is the most beautiful place that I have ever seen. Flowers everywhere, going off into the far distance. An endless field of them. Off in the distance, I see the buildings of a truly magnificent city. Eiki and I are sitting close to the shores of an enormous sea coated in a strange mist. Standing on the shore talking are a beautiful woman with pigtails and an old man in a white suit with long silvery hair and a beard. As I look at them, the red-haired woman notices my gaze and gives me, and perhaps Eiki as well, an amused smirk. The gentleman in the white suit looks right at me, giving me a reassuring smile and a conspiratorial wink.
"...Where are we?" I manage.
Eiki gives me a gentle, and somewhat shy, hug. "The fields of Higan," she tells me. "Off in the distance are the Halls of Judgement, where I work. The river you see is the Sanzu River, across which the souls of the dead are ferried. The boob-monster is blue is my subordinate, Komachi." I snort in amusement at the turn of phrase. "The gentleman there likes to be called Pete. He's sort of... my equivalent, in your soul's normal jurisdiction."
I consider this for a moment. "Interesting. And while I am very much enjoying the view, and my cushion..." Eiki blushes at this, "...why am I seeing this, and not a set of pearly gates. Not that I'm complaining, mind."
Well," Eiki mumbles, flustering a bit, "I... wanted to see you again." She glances away, and I feel my face soften. I know exactly what she means. "So, I took it upon myself to assume emergency jurisdiction over your soul, um, just in case there was a problem due to the influence of the beast. There wasn't, but I had to be sure..." the Yama looks uncomfortable, and a but nervous.
"So you brought me here to watch over me," I conclude.
"Basically," Eiki admits, "But that's not all of it. Not by a long shot. You see, I... I didn't want to let you go." The Yama hangs her head in shame. "I mean, I just met you, and I really like you. I wouldn't call it love, not yet, but I feel something very powerful for you. Something I've never felt before, ever. And I wanted to feel more of it. I wanted to see you paint. And, didn't you deserve better than to just be randomly killed, after all you've been through? So, so..." She trails off, fidgeting helplessly.
I wrap my arms around my lovely Yama, and she melts into my embrace. "So you brought me here," I finish. "I'm glad. I'm happy that I get to see you again."
Eiki sighs heavily, the tension running out of her. "...You've done some impressive things," she murmurs, "And I recommended you for a position. I had to burn a couple of favors, and Komachi had to use some of the dirt she had on a couple of officials, but Pete was completely willing to help out."
"What do you mean?" I ask, wonderingly.
"Well, you saved a number of beings from a pretty terrible fate, including a high-ranking member of the Celestial Courts," Eiki says awkwardly. "So, with your permission... we'd like to offer you a job in Higan. As part of the secretarial staff. If you're willing, that is."
I stare down at her in surprise. She's offering me a job in the Celestial Bureaucracy itself? A chance to work with her, be with her. Surrounded by the most fantastic vistas that I have ever seen, alongside the woman that I am slowly falling in love with. A chance to paint this place, to paint Eiki, to share my life... well, my soul, anyway, with her.
She's looking at me hopefully. Komachi and Pete are watching us with a mixture of warmth and amusement. They know already, of course. What kind of fool would pass up a chance like this?
And I am no fool.
"I accept," I whisper to Eiki, and seal my pledge with a kiss.
>>54220 Different anon, but I agree with >>54217. It's not that the happy end isn't good; quite the opposite. The issue is that it's a complete and total asspull. Internal consistency of cause and effect within the story should always take precedence over pulling a deus ex machina.
File 137667255319.jpg- (391.23KB
, like this for instance.jpg
Curse paperwork and all those responsible for its production.
So, advantages to working in the Halls of Judgement: promotion to minor celestial being with all of the privileges thereby, a very nice room with a view, and an excellent living stipend. Disadvantage to working in the Halls of Judgement: having to deal with metric tons of paperwork describing the final state and destination of countless souls.
Now, this isn't to say that I was bad at my job. In fact, my diligence at my work had already netted me a promotion. Something about being a former butler with an excellent work ethic helped me along, I suppose. But staring at reams of paper detailing every last right and wrong of a soul eventually became rather burdensome. Really, I understood why Eiki took it upon herself to take relaxation breaks: enough of this nonsense could burden any being.
I also understood perfectly just why Komachi deliberately kept herself in her ferryman's position: it kept her away from the onerous responsibilities of high rank. I mean, really, the woman got to relax in her boat all day long, and just watch the waters float by.
At least I has requisitioned a boat for my personal usage. The vistas I had access to now were absolutely fantastic. They were even better when I got Eiki to pose for them. And Komachi, I suppose, though the latter gave a different kind of appeal to my paintings. But then, I suppose the best works of all were those that had both women smiling at the artist, close together as only old friends could be.
And then Komachi would suggest that they take their clothes off, and Eiki would turn red and start ranting at her, and it would be all that I could do to hold my laughter in. Not that I wouldn't mind painting Eiki nude, of course. It's just that Komachi would inevitably find out about it and leap in, and I'd never get anything done. Still, the ferrywoman certainly knew how to keep the mood nice and relaxed.
Speaking of large-bosomed ferrywomen, I felt a pair of large, soft somethings press into my back as a pair of arms went around me. "Alfie~!" a familiar voice sang, "It's quitting time~!"
I look up at Komachi's grinning face. "And is it also harass Alfred time? My, I wasn't looking at the clock! You know, perhaps I should just use you as my timepiece instead."
"Sounds kinky," Komachi chortles.
"You do this sort of thing every single day, at the same time, without fail," I continue. "Really, complaints about your reliability are totally inaccurate."
"Aw, you make me blush, Alfie!" the shinigami chuckles happily, "But you're wrong about something! I don't always squeeze the 'girls' into your back; sometimes I press them onto your head!"
"Or my hand, or sometimes you plop down onto my lap," I agree dryly. "Honestly, I'd think you were trying to steal me away from Eiki if you didn't do the exact same thing to her on a regular basic."
Komachi gives me a quick squeeze. "I'm teaching her all the many ways to get your attention," she insists.
"She can do that by walking in a straight line," I remind the ferrywoman.
Komachi grins broadly. "Ohhh yeah, that's a fact. Them legs, huh Alfred?"
"Got that right," I say, staring at the paperwork on my desk. "So. Quitting time?"
"Quitting time," Komachi nods.
"Good. To hell with this nonsense, at least for today. Let's go retrieve my Lady Love, eh Miss Onozuka?"
Komachi laughs and tugs me up from my desk. "Now that's what I wanted to hear! C'mon Alf, let's go get Eiki away from her desk." Nodding, I straighten my official uniform and make my way out of the office area. Work is done for the day, and can damned well wait for tomorrow. I need to fulfill my daily quota of staring at Eiki's legs. And eyes. And, well, the rest of her, really.
It takes us no time at all to reach the door to Eiki's office, mostly because I was granted space-warping power as soon as I joined the bureaucracy. Apparently, it's standard for all personnel at my level. Komachi showed me all kinds of things that I could do with it, as well as a few tricks not meant for polite company. I made sure to take very careful notes when she explained those to me.
We take a moment to straighten our outfits, and I knock on the door. "Come," Eiki's voice says from within. The two of us nod at each other. She's still in business-mode. We'll have to do something about that.
Calmly, the two of us let ourselves into Eiki's massive office, and walk to stand before the mighty Yama of Xanadu's desk. She's hard at work, making her way through the stack of papers still cluttering her 'in' tray. "Is there anything I can do for the two of you?" she asks, still using her business-voice.
I nod. "Indeed, Miss Shiki. I am pleased to inform you that it is now time to cease the day's labors and make our way downtown, were a comfortable table and refreshing drink await all of us."
"And a canvas," Komachi says with a wink.
Eiki hesitates at this, but shakes her head. "I'm sorry, you two, but I really want to get through some of this before quitting. Maybe give me another hour?"
Komachi and I roll our eyes at one another. "There will always be more paper work, and all of that will still be there tomorrow," I remind the lovely Yama. "When it's time to stop, it's time to stop. So, shall we...?" I offer my hand, and Eiki stares at it hesitantly.
"Well... it's just that there's still so much," she says hesitantly.
Komachi rolls her eyes. "Oh, whatever," she snorts, "I'm done playing nice. Drinky-time is now, worky-time is done!" Squaring her shoulders, the shinigami marches over to Eiki, grabs the pen out of her hand and slaps it down on the desk, and finally picks the smaller woman up into her arms.
"K-Komachi, what..?!" Eiki squawks, face blushing beet-red. Without another word, the red-haired ferrywoman deposits Eiki into my waiting arms. "A-Alfred?!"
"As Komachi said, the time for work is now over," I say patiently, before spinning on my heel and walking out of the room, Komachi getting the door behind us.
"At least put me down now!" Eiki sputters.
"I'd really rather not," I remark. "Not because you'd run back to your desk, but because you are just so delightfully soft and warm. I don't think that I could bear to put you down right now." Eiki looks away at this, utterly embarrassed at my words. On the other hands, the mighty Yama makes no attempt to free herself from my arms.
"Don't forget the legs," Komachi reminds me, "We also get a good look at her legs like this."
"Well, that goes without saying," I shrug.
Eiki whimpers, mortified, and shrinks a bit more deeply into my arms. After a while, she sighs and hikes up her skirt a little bit before wrapping her arms around my neck. I grin.
"Hell-o!" Komachi exclaims with a laugh.
Eiki sniffs. "Like you said. I'm off-duty now. And if my man wants to stare at my legs, who am I to complain?" She nuzzles me contentedly, and I throw Komachi a victorious smile. The ferrywoman just laughs uproariously, but doesn't hassle Eiki any further. She does take the occasional glance at those legs, though. Not that I'm doing any differently, mind you.
One advantage to having distance-warping powers is the ability to take a leisurely stroll through the streets of Higan without running into anybody, which would doubtlessly embarrass Eiki and ruin the moment. So, the three of us instead take the scenic route that gives us a fabulous view of the endless flower fields and the vast Sanzu river. We finally end up at what has become our favored after-work haunt. The proprietor and I hit it off pretty quickly, so one of the patios is pretty much for our exclusive use, in the name of Eiki Shiki.
We make our way onto our private patio and I set Eiki down, who then stretches languidly. "What a day," she sighs, slumping into her favorite chair. "I had to review the case of a chronic thief, who didn't have a clue why he was being sinful."
"Did you have to send him to Hell?" I ask in concern. Komachi also looks worried. We know how much Eiki hates condemning souls to the inferno. Fortunately, the Yama shakes her head in negation.
"No, no, he wasn't vile enough to deserve that. His soul will be working off its karmic debt, and then he will be reincarnated to try again. Hopefully, he will do better the next time around." Eiki stops talking as our drinks arrive, and takes a long pull of hers before sighing in relief. "You know, I think I live for these after-work get-togethers now."
Komachi slings an arm over Eiki's shoulders."See? You're way more relaxed these days, just what you needed!" The ferrywoman winks at me. "I guess we have Alfred to thank for that, huh?"
I shrug. "All I ever did was resolve to spend time with the woman I love," I say evenly. "If this has had some positive side-effects, then I'm grateful for them." Eiki smiles and blushes prettily when I say that I love her, as she does every single time. I remember the first time I told her how I felt, under the moonlight in the field of flowers. With teary eyes, she returned my feelings in full.
And then she jumped me. It was a very nice evening for both of us.
Komachi giggles happily. "You two are so cute. So! I have Alfie's painting supplies all set up. How about a nude painting of the both of us, Eiki?"
"No," Eiki says flatly.
"...Nude of you alone?" Komachi tries again.
"Nude of just me?" A big smile this time.
"Painting of us making out?"
Eiki turns to glare at the ferrywoman. "Do you ever think of anything else?"
"Plenty of things," Komachi tells her primly, "Like how cute you are when you make that expression. Alfred, back me up here."
I take a careful look at Eiki's annoyed yet embarrassed expression. "It's the perfect combination of of lovely and cute," I agree, "Komachi deserves a medal for bringing it forth into the world." The ferrywoman smiles proudly while Eiki blushes again and stares down into her drink.
"Alfie, welcome again to Higan," Komachi says, raising her glass in a toast. "It's been way more interesting since you got here!" I smile and raise my own glass in salute. Eiki doesn't say much, instead looking up at me shyly.
Then she smirks and runs her stocking-clad leg over my shin. I barely suppress a shudder of pleasure. Komachi notices the whole thing and winks, but doesn't say anything. She certainly wouldn't interrupt something like this. I'm pretty sure that Eiki has been taking very careful notes from the shinigami's playbook. Heaven knows that she's been a font of information for me.
After a relaxing drink, we hear the establishment's musicians start to play, and Eiki starts to dance. Once, she was very nervous and shy doing this in front of us, but that changed when she realized that neither of us would tease her for it. Instead, Komachi relaxes back in her chair and watches contentedly while I commit the scene to canvas.
Eiki dancing, with the flower fields in the background. Me, painting the woman I love. Our trusted friend, watching the whole scene with a smile on her face. Higan may not technically be Heaven, but for me, this is truly paradise.
EIKI SHIKI GOOD END ACHIEVED.
Query: the route vote between Parsee and Eiki was really, really close. I was wondering if people wanted me to go back in time and write out the Parsee vote from that choice. The main allure of this would be the interaction between Parsee and Alfred, though some things, like the battle against the Beast, would naturally be very different (no Yama to crush it this time).
Anyway, it's just a thought. If enough people want me to, I'm willing to do it. Otherwise, we'll call things a wrap and move on to Q&A!
>Query: the route vote between Parsee and Eiki was really, really close. I was wondering if people wanted me to go back in time and write out the Parsee vote from that choice. The main allure of this would be the interaction between Parsee and Alfred, though some things, like the battle against the Beast, would naturally be very different (no Yama to crush it this time).
YES! I WILL THROW MONEY AT THE SCREEN IF I HAVE TO!
I'm all for the Parsee route, but I'd also like to know what happened to the rest of the girls... and Rinnosuke. Did he make it out of that alive or not? If he did, what kind of punishment will he suffer? Did Yukari find her concubines at last?
And Eric and Eric and Sylvia were forever left in the dark wondering about Alfred, wondering how he vanished forever and feeling the guilt of leaving him alone that day...
Anyway, complaint time. I started to notice this in Being Meiling and now I finally see the problem clearly in your writing, Keymaster. I see two problems, with the second being part of the first.
Basically, your make your main characters too good. Meilign never failed much and Alfred was perhaps entirely too rational compared to teh rest of teh girl. I mean, some of the girls were older than him by far he was one of the most composed characters. Making your characters teh best thing after sliced bread with little to no flaw is tiring after a while.
Second is, you don't do your vilains justice. Apparently, no one against your main character is allowed to be competent when it's critical. Marisa gets beaten hard by Meiling with little in retaliation, for exemple. Here? Rinnosuke. That last part with him was pathetic for all the wrong reasons, especially after that intro. Where was the mind that managed to pull all this in the first place? What I expected with mental and snark was Alfred dodging him so Rinnosuke could strike something he shouldn't break, with snark keeping him distracted for realizing he was near critical stuff. And Rinnosuke, as old as he is, easily gets angry like a kid when one punch could have outright killed Alfred?
Like I said, that part was pathetic.
Then, a sudden monster that killed Alfred. I would like to point out that things coming out of nowhere to create drama is bad, especially in Quests with choice. This should have been the consequence of failing to notice something, not you forcing it.
Worse is, if we killed Rinnosuke... Then Yukari would not have gapped him, no? But anyone with common sense could see that doign that in front of Eiki would have damaged that relationship forever. So, forced drama after illusion of choice? Bad.
Overall, I would rate thsi alright. Nice to read once, but that's it. If you want to have a story to the level of A Fairy's Tale and such, you'll have to do better next time.
Anyway, that's my opinion. You can dismiss it or you can accept it. I sure as hell hope you accept it and don't repeat those mistakes next time.
The main problem with PC incompetence is that it takes agency away from the player, you have to be very careful about this to avoid the impression of railroading. If you want to limit what a character can do you have to give the voter some idea of the PC's abilities and emotional states at the time of voting which could bog down narrative if done poorly.
As for the whole end-boss thing, the beast was a little dumb, and probably wouldn't make sense outside of Eiki route (no other girl besides Suika could hope to do more then hold ground against it and the cheap kill is bad plotting rescued by the fact the love interest worked in the afterlife).
There also the issue of Rinnosuke's competence, yes he's meant to be having a little breakdown by how we screwed things up for him but it was a little easy considering he had nearly every other advantage in that fight. A better way to handle the end-bosses would probably have been to drop the whole gap monster thing and have the Rinnosuke fight be made up of smaller updates with several ways to both bad-end and bittersweet-end where you both stop him and pay for it somehow(replacing the beast's cheap kill as a way to both win and die).
This lets Rinnosuke be more of a threat(which he should be if he thought all this up, surely he add a few contingencies),adds more weight to the climax(because the bad guy is more of a threat and the conflict is emphasized) and gives the voters control over Alfred's ending.
>>54243 I agree with the mini updates thing. Not bad.
>>54240 You take the ending as a separate thing instead of a part of the whole. After 4 threads of powerlessness fear and despair, the sensation of competence was a welcome and, to be honest, needed change.
That said, as the other person I quoted said, the boss battle was kind of weak.
As for the monster in the portal, it was obviously a plot device. Those are needed and this one wasn't particularly unwelcome. As for Parsee's route I can already see that she'll get hurt instead of the MC (but she'll survive due to her being a Youkai so they live happily ever after)
Finally, I can understand you being disappointed, but I'd like if you posted a bit less. At least this time you did bothered to make an argument.
Hmm, seems there are a few people at least who'd like me to do a Parsee route, so I may as well type something up. Again, the main difference here will be the interplay between Alfred and Parsee.
Anyway, some fair criticism being made here. I don't claim to be the best writer in the world; calling be an amateur is completely on the nose. In the end, I'm doing this for the fun of it. Still, some fair points have been made here, and I'll give them some careful thought, as they deserve.
>>54247 >typing up the Parsee route
Aw yeah. It's a wonderful thing to get both your top choices. I was wondering about the other girls though. What happened to them? What, exactly, happened to Hina? Does Alfred get to see any of them at all? And what about the others that work at Pleasant Meadows? Did Al just disappear from their perspective, leaving behind a screwed up manor?
Regardless I have enjoyed every bit of this quite a bit. Thank you for investing your time & effort writing this. It's been a great little adventure.
I'll answer those questions in a Q&A when I finish Parsee's route. And no, I won't be doing a route for every girl, just the two that were the clear favorites all the way through.
Just as a follow-up to my earlier statement, any criticism is welcome, and more than likely valid. This is my first time trying a 'true' CYOA (Being Meiling was really a collection of connected shorts), so I've doubtless made more than a few screw-ups along the way. Still, I hope some people got some enjoyment out of it.
Incidentally, writing for Parsee is strangely fun.
Anxiously awaiting Parsee end, but I definitely agree with these guys: >>54240, >>54243. Before the fight with Rinnosuke began, the writing emphasized that he was at the limit of his patience and about to rip Alfred's head from his body. Then, he just walks around behind Alfred, mewling about being badmouthed by yet another string of insults. You literally reduced him to a child with no buildup: he hangs off of every word out of Alfred's mouth and denies them, as though the approvable of this random outsider who he'd never met until a night ago was of critical importance to him. You really need to realize that characters, like actual people, sometimes just don't give a shit about what another character thinks or says. Not to mention a critical piece of the tirade was straight up wrong: Alfred went on and on about how Rinnosuke had failed, despite every single one of his intended targets being secured and brainwashed at that very moment. The only hitch in the plan was Alfred's presence, and instead of having Rinnosuke focus on resolving that, you, as previously stated, made him choke and whine in unexplained impotence for minutes on end.
For a moment, I glance over at Eiki, but I find my gaze being drawn inexorably over to Parsee. Such a fascinating woman. Her personality is full of rage and spite, but beneath it all there's a dry humor, and a deep-seated desire to protect people. It makes for a strange contrast; Parsee the irritable woman, snarling at whatever irritates her, and Parsee the protector, charging with murderous intent at whatever dares to threaten those she cares about.
From the very beginning, she's been on my side, seeking to protect me. She's also someone that I take a good deal of pleasure talking to. Banter with her is always amusing.
Before I know it, I'm walking over to where she sits in the corner, sprawled out in a chair. Out of the corner of my eye, I notice that Eiki pauses as she flips through the videos, raising a hand to her forehead in confusion, but my attention is currently focused on the blonde youkai ahead of me.
Parsee looks up at me as I walk up to her, the ghost of a smile on her face. "Hey, badass," she says with a smirk.
I raise an eyebrow as I lean on the wall next to her. "Badass? That's a new one. Or are you making a comment on my posterior? Here I thought it was pleasant to look at..."
"Make a point of staring at your own ass, do you? You got a special mirror for it?" Parsee snorts in amusement.
"Actually, it might have more to do with wishful thinking on my part," I admit. "Either that, or the actions of women who are really to old to be grabbing at me." I wince at the memories.
Parsee laughs out loud. "Granny-bait, huh?"
I sigh wearily. "I fear so. It gets awkward after a while. And by a while, I mean the first time."
Parsee shrugs. "Hey, beggars can't be choosers. Besides, maybe some little old rich lady would make you her boy-toy! At least you'd get monetary gratitude for your services!"
"It's the nature of those services that I dread," I respond. "Besides, what about you? Would you really be willing to date a man old enough to be your grandfather?"
"Youkai don't age a whole lot. If anything, he'd be wealthy, powerful, and still look young," Parsee says with a chuckle. Then she frowns. "On the other hand, if he was old and wrinkly, I probably would throw up if he made a pass at me."
"What about a good personality?" I ask with a look of wonder.
"Yeah, if they had a good personality, they wouldn't be going around grabbing asses," Parsee grunts. "And honestly? I don't know how you could stand some old granny grabbing you. I mean seriously, what?"
I shrug. "All part of the job. Humor the guests, keep your distance when they get a bit fresh, and think about your lovely paycheck at the end of the party."
"Doin' it for the money, eh?" Parsee nods in approval. "I can get behind that."
I shrug. "Well, that and I genuinely like the staff here. Eric and Sylvia have been mentors to me. If it weren't for them, I wouldn't be here. I wouldn't have made it through my first party."
"You pick up your language from them?" Parsee asks with an amused snorts. "Seriously, I've never heard anybody snark like you do. Is it part of your job description? 'Butler: service with a smile, cutting comments are free and abundant.'"
"You know, it's part training, part genetic, I feel," I muse. "My grandfather, a fully-trained butler, could snark with the best of them, and I think some of that lodged inside of me somewhere deep. Maybe it was passed on through the blood, or maybe it was just something I remembered him doing as a child. Learning through observation, and all that. Hell, I learned a lot of it from just watching Eric at work."
"Oh gods, somebody worse than you?" Parsee asks, wide-eyed.
"You think that I'm bad?" I chuckle at this. "Hardly. Eric can politely tear you apart while sounding like he's commenting on the weather. He's done it before to particularly difficult guests. All they can do is stare in shock, and then he simply turns on his heel and walks away. The man is a verbal artist, I mean it."
"Huh. That's way classier than what I do when someone's really pissing me off," Parsee says contemplatively.
"Oh? And what would that be?" I ask.
"I punch them in the face," Parsee says primly.
"...Crude, but effective," I admit.
Parsee makes a face. "Nah, not really. Most of the people in the underground city are Oni. Like Suika. Punch them, and they just laugh it off. Hell, most of them think you're just trying to be friendly. Then they'll drag you off to get drunk." She groans. "Yuugi's done that to me a few times, and I always wind up in the damnedest situations. Like wearing a bunny suit that one time."
Parsee in a bunny suit? Mmmm....
"No, goddammit, you are not allowed to think that's sexy!" Parsee shouts, sitting up straight. The other guests look over our way in curiosity.
"Who said anything about sexy?" I ask innocently. "I'm certain that you'd look cute and adorable, dressed up with fuzzy bunny ears."
Parsee gives me a flat look, then holds a creamy leg out straight. "Yeah. No. Bullshit. I've got your number, butler. Take a good, long look at this, and then tell me what you'd actually be looking at."
I give Parsee's leg a good, long look as commanded, then shrug in defeat. "Oh, all right, you've got me dead to rights. But I'm only human, after all! I don't resist temptation all that well!"
Parsee snorts. "You do it better than some of the people I deal with. Seriously, Oni and alcohol..." the youkai stares a moment to glare at Suika. "I envy anyone who can have that much fun, so easily."
"Why would you envy anyone with legs like those?" I ask innocently.
"...And nuclear eyes?" Parsee quips in amusement.
I raise my hands in defeat. "All right, that wasn't one of my better ones, I admit. But let's face it, you were being whiny, and I dealt with it the only way I knew how."
"With professional insults," Parsee notes.
"Precisely," I agree.
We fall into a companionable silence, just listening to the rain fall while the other guests get their breath back. Still, I find it hard to relax. It feels too much like the calm before the storm, and I wonder what our mysterious foe has in store for us next.
"You have a great ass," Parsee says out of the blue, "I'm kinda jealous, actually."
I stare at her. "You are jealous of part of a man's anatomy? How bizarre of you."
Parsee shrugs innocently. "I'm jealous of the fact that it's so nice. Damn you. I want a nice ass."
"If you give me a look at yours, I can give you my honest opinion," I offer.
"Yeah, no," Parsee says simply.
"Drat. Now, next question," here I give Parsee a suspicious look, "How exactly have you been formulating an opinion on my buttocks?"
"It's called an 'ass,' Alfred," Parsee says informatively, "And I know because I've been checking it out. And given how fucked up things are, I don't see any reason to deny it."
I blink. "I'm flattered. But it sounds like you've given up already."
Parsee frowns. "Not exactly. I just try not to expect too much out of life. It almost always winds up disappointing you, you know? So, I just keep forging on, trying to tear whatever little bit of joy I can out of each day. It ain't much, but it keeps me going." She sighs.
"You know, the whole jealousy thing probably doesn't help your outlook very much. You really need to rein that in a little. Especially if you're getting jealous of male body parts. Down that path lies madness."
Parsee bursts into laughter. "Heheh, you might be right on that last one. But jealousy's kinda my thing, Al. It's what I do. I came to terms with it a long, long time ago. Now, I just cope with things."
I shake my head. "I have to hope for the best. I'm not going to curl up into a ball and let this jackass walk all over us. We almost got that cloaked maniac. Next time, we'll end it." I clench my fists tightly.
"Now THAT'S something that I can get behind," Parsee growls darkly. "If there's one thing I hate, it's people jerking me around. Mark my words, Al, the next time I see this dick, I'm driving my axe into their fucking skull."
"That 'dick' you say," I muse thoughtfully, "But what if our nemesis is a female?"
"That dickgirl, then," Parsee snorts.
"I just had to ask," I sigh.
"Then you got what you deserved," Parsee trills sweetly.
I give her a long look. "I've said it before, and I'll say it again, Parsee. You should really consider singing."
She just looks at me silently for a moment, a gentle blush spreading across her face. Parsee glances away, not saying anything, but after a moment her hand seeks mine out and gives it a tight squeeze. "Maybe," she finally says, in a voice barely above a whisper, "One day. Maybe."
I smile, and return Parsee's squeeze. Her hand feels good in mine.
[ ] Is there anything that you want to ask of/say to Parsee?
Welp it's time to think, though one I'd be temptd to ask is "how come no one noticed how cute you are" though she might not be amused by that.
Though I should really remember the question about the smile/lap/bouncy choices as I have an idea they're related to when he 'wakes' up but not sure.
Though Komachi as "good enough friends to get boob rest'd is a nice perk even if nothing more comes of it. (Also nude Komachi paintings would put Playboy and other such magazines out of business) Also the Eiki PoV bit did put things into some nice perspective.
I've thoguht on it, and here's something.
[x] "Your eyes are quite distinctive in a good way. It's enough to call attention away from your legs, well maybe except if you wore that bunnysuit."
[x] Ask about her outfit, it's quite distinctive compard to the others, that and it flatters her.
[x] Near the end of the conversation, make a remark about being jealous of how cute she is when snarking.
The last one is more a flattering joke, though I wonder if we'll go through the exact same motions. It almost makes me want to do a time skip of the too similar parts in that case.
>>54247 Just finished it. The ending was good and fluffy but it is too predictable and came out of nowhere.
>Again, the main difference here will be the interplay between Alfred and Parsee.
Why don't you try something else this time? I am sure that you can think of something that will surprise us. Hey, you are the writer this time. No need to make this the same only with a different girl.
[x] So , jealousy is kinda your thing? Could you elaborate a bit on that?
[x] Why do you guard a bridge by the way?
[x] Near the end of the conversation, make a remark about being jealous of how cute she is when snarking.
>>54240 >Meiling never failed much
Because that was slice-of-life, for the most part. It was fun. Not every CYOA has to be some kind of game that the readers might lose.
Of course, this one was survival horror, so fear of "losing" was a given. I have to agree that snarking-the-villain-to-death followed by death-by-plot-device was, while thematically conclusive in a story with a snarky butler MC and a yama love interest, somewhat anticlimactic. I can't think of a better way to wrap things up, but that's why I'm not a writer.
Anyway, the ending itself with Eiki and Komachi was wonderful. Working a new character into an existing dynamic isn't easy, but this was a damn fine job. And I always love seeing touhous in love.
>>54252 >as though the approvable of this random outsider who he'd never met until a night ago was of critical importance to him.
Well, what if it was? You're talking about a guy who, just minutes before, had been giving that random stranger a rather thorough explanation of his entire plot. You don't waste time monologuing like a Bond villain unless you're either trying to impress someone, or simply enjoy hearing the sound of your own voice talking about how awesome you are.
[x] So , jealousy is kinda your thing? Could you elaborate a bit on that?
[x] Why do you guard a bridge by the way?
[x] Near the end of the conversation, make a remark about being jealous of how cute she is when snarking.
Parsee is not allowed to monopolize jealousy. It wants to be freee!
When someone does the whole Bond Villain monologue, it's because they want you to be amazed at how smart they are, and there's no way you could beat them blah blah blah.
And the part where he falls apart, I can actually understand that. He's a great planner, but he can't improvise worth a shit. It's not just that he's trying to impress/intimidate Alfred, he literally needs to be in control or he falls apart.
That's why he started acting like a child throwing a tantrum. He panicked because he was no longer the one in control of the situation.
I glance out the window as Parsee relaxes even further in her comfortable chair. It looks like the storm is dying down just a little bit. If it was artificially generated, perhaps that means that our unknown opponent is running out of steam? I certainly hope so. I, for one, am getting sick of all of this.
I distract myself by looking over at Parsee. She really is a beautiful woman. Frown lines do nothing to conceal delicate, lovely features. Her hair is long and golden, shining under the light, and her ears come to cute little points. Her lips, when relaxed, look gentle and soft, and I am paying entirely too much attention to her. It's probably irritating her, based on the confused stare she's now sending my way.
Still. Those are truly remarkable eyes.
"The hell are you staring at, Alf?" Parsee asks me, sounding amused.
I shrug. "You."
"I can tell that, wise-ass," Parsee snorts, "Any particular reason? Or do you wanna jump me to blow off some stress?" She grins as she says this last.
"Would it be terrible if I did?" I ask innocently.
Parsee flushes a little bit, but rallies. "Fine. You're on. Take your pants off, badass." She crosses her arms expectantly.
"Sorry?" I ask blankly.
"You wanna fuck? Let's fuck. Now take it off. Don't argue with the woman with the axe." Smiling cheerfully, Parsee taps her axe meaningfully.
"Oh dear God, are you serious?" I choke out. This is just so sudden...
"Of course I'm not serious, jackass! What, you can dish it out but you can't take it?" The youkai women suddenly bursts into laughter, her musical voice only furthering my embarrassment. She looks up at me with amused, shining green eyes. Very shiny, in fact.
"Okay, okay," I sigh, "You got me. But give me a break! When a beautiful woman propositions you so directly, it kind of puts men off balance."
Parsee blinks at the beautiful woman comment, but smirks regardless. "Yeah, I've noticed that. Anyway, I'm just messing with you." I nod, admitting my defeat. "We can screw after this is all done with. Anyway, seriously, what were you looking at?"
I stare at Parsee for a moment, letting my brain reset. "Your eyes," I say finally, "I was looking at your eyes."
"My nuclear eyes, huh?" Parsee chortles.
"They're pretty," I say simply. Parsee stares at me in shock. "Not to mention distinctive. I'd say they're the most distinctive part of you, really. Second only to your legs." I frown a little bit. "Though to be honest, if you were actually wearing that bunny suit you mentioned earlier, I might be paying more attention to your legs."
Parsee rolls her eyes. "Eesh. Any more drooling over my legs, and I'll have to wash them off. Friggin' leg man." She giggles a bit despite my words. "Still, not many people compliment my eyes."
"They suit, you, Madame of Jealousy," I chuckle. "Green eyes and apparently a jealous nature. Could there be a connection?"
"Yes," Parsee says simply.
I stare at her, startled. "Sorry?"
Parsee stares up at me, expressionless, before closing her eyes and leaning back in her seat. "...I'm what's called a hasihime. Also known as a bridge princess. I used to be human once, long, long ago."
I straighten up a little bit. "Really?"
Parsee nods. "Yeah. Don't remember much about it, though. I do remember that I was married, though I really don't even remember his face." Her green eyes stare off into the distance, as though searching for a memory that no longer exists. "I don't even know if we were in love, or if it was just arranged. A business agreement between families. I do know that he left me for another woman. Just took off, and left me behind. Like I was worthless."
I stare at her in shock. "Jesus Christ..." I mutter.
"I know who that is," Parsee comments. "Y'know what? I'm not even sure if I'm actually Japanese. Yeah, I have a Japanese name, but if I think hard enough, I can sort of remember something else. Maybe I just moved to Japan later in life. Or maybe I was given away as a bride by a merchant family...?" She shakes her head. "Never mind. I was pretty much someone else back then anyway. But yeah. He left me, and married another woman. They were happy. I hated their fucking guts."
I'm silent. Parsee is lost in her reflections, and I don't want to interrupt her.
"So I killed them."
"What?" I say out loud.
She looks up at me, her face neutral. "I was jealous of them. Their happiness. I wanted to be happy like that, and I wasn't. I blamed them for it. So, I got consumed by jealousy and murdered them both. No one ever found out that I did it, but the story about what happened spread far and wide. Hell, I still don't know if I'm the actual woman, who turned into a youkai, or if I'm a youkai who sprang forth from the story."
I won't lie. "Yes," I admit. "It truly does trouble me. Whatever you suffered, your actions were unjustified." I hesitate. "But you know that already, don't you?"
"Of course I fucking know," Parsee says bitterly. "Ex-human or whatever, it turned me into a being that guards bridges as part of my nature. My core is jealousy. I'm jealous of everyone. Everyone. And I can manipulate feelings of jealousy, too. It's why I was banished to the underworld. That's what my petty revenge got me. Nothing, in the end. It got me nothing. Remember that." Parsee sighs heavily.
"And that's why your eyes are so green. The association with jealousy," I realize.
"...They're still quite pretty."
"What about you outfit? It's very eccentric," I ask, changing the subject.
Parsee looks up at me, and then solemnly gives me the finger. "Up yours, Alf. I like my clothes. They're comfortable, and unique. And don't make a crack about the 'unique' bit!" She says the latter as I start to respond. I shrug and fall silent. Parsee smirks a little bit. "I'll tell you this, though: getting those tight shorts was a godsend. Now I don't have to worry about every creepy little pervert looking up my skirt for panties."
"Bike shorts, you mean?" I suggest.
"Yeah, those." Parsee nods.
"...Do they look up your skirt to check out your butt?" I wonder.
"Not more than once. Fair warning." Parsee raises an eyebrow.
"Says the woman who was staring at my own 'ass,' as she insists upon putting it."
"I have an axe, and you have a dinky little hatchet," Parsee reminds me.
I sniff irritably. "It's not the size, but the skill behind it!"
"Yeah, all you guys say that," Parsee chuckles. She shrugs. "On the other hand, I soak of all kinds of jealousy from women wanting another girls' rack, so I guess it all works out, huh?"
"Apparently. Strange balance," I shake my head, and the two of us fall into another silence. We're still holding hands. "Anyone who'd leave you is an idiot," I finally say.
"...Yeah," Parsee responds.
I look over at her. "You know something? You're very cute when you snark."
Parsee smiles up at me. "Back at ya, badass."
"And those ears of yours are adorable," I tease, reaching out for the tips of Parsee's ears, only to be stopped by both a firm grip on my wrist, and a panicked look from Parsee.
"Um, actually, don't touch those. They're kinda sensitive. I mean really sensitive. So uh, don't. 'Kay?" The blush on her face tells me all that I need to know about how sensitive they are, and I just smile benignly. "I fucking mean it, for God's sake," Parsee yells, even more embarrassed.
"Pardon the interruption," A new voice says, and Parsee and I nearly jump out of our skins. Eiki is standing before us, looking troubled.
"For fuck's sake, don't walk up on us like that!" Parsee sputters, trying to get over her shock.
"Sorry," Eiki apologizes, "But we have a problem. For a while now, I've been sensing something very wrong. Something familiar, in a bad way. I'm worried that our enemy has been tampering with certain aspects of reality itself, and that is a very bad thing..."
Parsee suddenly sits up straight, eyes wide with alarm. "What is it?" I ask, Eiki also looking very nervous.
"I don't know if it's something unnatural like the judge was saying," Parsee says slowly, "But I just heard something. Something really, really big-"
A loud noise comes from outside. The noise of something heavy hitting the ground. I realize that I can't hear the storm anymore, and a look out the window only shows me a wall of purple and gold eyes.
>>54300 Where's a snobby magic book when you need him? Anyways:
[X]Flee for your lives in a calm and orderly fasion.
-[X]Find some of the kidnapper/saboteur/asshole's power lines and use them as an electrocution trap. As a bonus, you can use them later to chase him down.
>>54310 [x] Flee for your lives in a calm and orderly fashion.
-[x] Make sure no one gets separated.
-[x] Find explosives (like gas tanks), 'cause something this big needs LOTS of firepower to take down.
A propane tank for a gas stove, maybe?
There's no way a place like Pleasant Meadows wouldn't have redundant backups in case of power outages and such. I mean, imagine having to tell the guests that "sorry, power's out and the backup generator has broken down, there will be no more warm food".
(Looking at some info about propane, since I wasn't sure if I was confusing it with something else, I found that it's also found in refridgerators and as fuel for heating.
If they use it for heating, or simply buy propane in bulk because it's cheaper than buying small tanks individually, they're likely to have a large amount of it just sitting around in a storage shed or something...)
No, goddammit, I'm not going down like this! At the very least, I have to try to get everyone to safety! The creature itself is staring down at us with its multitudinous eyes, arms spread wide. It appears to be sizing us up, or maybe just letting the sheer impossibility of the situation sink in. Either way, it gives us a chance.
"Ladies," I say into the horrified silence, "Might I humbly suggest that we, in a very calm and orderly fashion-"
The creature reaches out for us.
"Run for it!" I shout, and as one we charge for the doors into the hallway. Lyrica isn't fast enough, and just as she reaches the door, a massive hand closes around her as she screams in panic. I skid to a halt. "Lyrica!" I yell over my shoulder.
"She's gone, hurry the fuck up," Parsee screams at me, hauling me down the corridor. "What the hell do we do against that thing?!"
"Well, I guess throwing Lyrica against it won't do much," Suika says with a stunned expression.
"Not the time for jokes, Oni!" Parsee shouts angrily.
"Enough!" I yell at the others, "Panic won't gain us anything! Look, at the very least it isn't tearing down the walls to get at us."
And that's when an enormous mass of black-purple tentacles studded with purple and gold eyes starts to slither out the door and creep towards us. I stare at it blankly for a moment.
"Everybody run," Yumeko whispers. We do.
Running as quickly down the hallway as we possibly can, we quickly outpace the tentacles, which withdraw out the hole they had come from. The five of us remaining skid to a halt un the central building's hallway, breathing heavily. The ground shudders beneath us as the gigantic monstrosity moves around outside of the house.
"Now what?" Eiki asks us.
"Let me think, let me think," I say breathlessly.
"Too big to fight," Parsee mutters. "No magic either. What the hell do we do?! Drop it into the lake, blow it up, electrocute it? What about those cables in the wall, can we use those?"
"I'm no expert on such things, but I don't think that there's enough current here to kill such a beast!" Yumeko insists.
"Well, it was just a fucking idea!" Parsee shouts back, eyes wide with panic. "I'm throwing ideas out there, you got a better one?!"
A massive tentacle suddenly tears through the door to one of the lounges and rushes forth with unbelievable speed, wrapping around Yumeko in a flash. With a cry of dismay, the maid jabs her poker into it, and Parsee frantically hacks away at it, but it is all to no avail. With a sharp jerk, the maid is hauled away through the door to the lounge, her anguished cry fading into the distance.
I stare for a moment before shaking myself. "Kitchen! Now!" I practically drag Eiki and Parsee with me, Suika falling into position behind us.
"What the hell good's that gonna do?!" Parsee yells at me, "We can't cut that fucker apart, for Hell's sake!"
I barge through the door into the dining room, not slowing. "Door to the basement!" I yell back breathlessly, "We have a bunch of spare propane tanks there! You said it yourself, blow the damn thing up!" Parsee's eyes widen in understanding and she practically starts to drag me through the door to the kitchen. As soon as we enter, I take just a moment to grab an electric lighter from a drawer.
Partway across the cooking area, a long tentacle breaks through the window and seems to stare at us. Snarling with revulsion, Parsee pulls a long knife from her belt and expertly hurls it at the tentacle, burying it to the hilt. The monstrous appendage shudders as though in pain, and in the next moment we're bounding down the stairs, making sure to lock the door behind us.
I barrel over to the storage closet and nearly tear it open. Good, there's still two cylinders of propane left, along with a dolly we use to lug empty cylinders upstairs! This could work!
"Alfred, what do we do?!" Eiki asks me, her voice tense as something scratches against the door to the kitchen.
"Load those cylinders into that dolly, and get ready to haul them upstairs!" I shout, rushing over to the wine cellar. Bursting through the door, I grab the closest bottle and reach for one of the corkscrews kept down here in case private sampling is desired by the guests. I run back into the main basement room, staring up at the door to the kitchen as the others guests finish loading up the trolley, all the while working the corkscrew with unconscious motions. As soon as the cork pops out, I turn the bottle over and dump the wine out on the floor.
"Hey, that's wasting!" Suika protests.
"Tough!" I call back, making my way over to a spare container of gasoline. It is at that moment that the door upstairs breaks open, and the mass of tentacles starts surging down the steps. I heft the gas can. "Through the laundry room, NOW!"
Parsee wheels the dolly rapidly towards the laundry room door, while Eiki runs ahead and kicks open the barricade. Those two are the first through, with me right behind them. Suika is last through. She isn't quick enough, and the tentacles swarm around her, dragging her off as she stabs furiously all the way.
I snarl under my breath for just a moment and screech to a halt. With hurried motions, I unscrew the gas can and start to fill the wine bottle with gasoline, not caring that some of it is slopping on the floor. As soon as the bottle is full, I grab a rag off of a shelf and soak it in gasoline before stuffing it in the bottle's mouth. Igniter: check.
The slithering of tentacles comes from the kitchen, and Parsee shouts out to me from the set of stairs leading from the laundry room to the upstairs hall. "Alfred, hurry your godsdamned ass!" I hurry my godsdamned ass, molotov cocktail in hand, and help drag the dolly full of propane cylinders upstairs.
"What's that bottle for?" Eiki pants as she helps move the dolly upstairs.
"To ignite the propane!" I gasp back, kicking open the door to the hallway. "Front door, outside! Now!" Eiki leads the way as Parsee and I follow behind, flammable materials in hand. Reaching the front door, Eiki throws it wide open, and is immediately seized by a black, multi-eyed hand. Shouting in dismay, Eiki is hauled away, Parsee and I following in her wake, cursing up a storm.
Before us, the dark giant looms. Three of its arms are perched behind its back, fists curled around into perfect balls. As we watch, the hand around Eiki changes as well, shifting around her until it forms a sphere. That hand also perches behind the monster's back.
"It's trying to capture us," Parsee mutters. She doesn't slow, however, and wheels the propane tanks onto the front lawn. Above us, the monster's head splits open until it looks like a combination of a gaping maw and a grasping hand.
"Looks that way," I say breathlessly, heart pounding in my chest. We have exactly one try at this. With a shaking hand, I turn the handles on the propane tanks, letting the gas flow freely. Moments later, the giant bends forward, hand/jaw opened wide to seize us both. At the last moment, Parsee wraps her arms around my stomach and leaps to the side, letting the claw/teeth wrap around the cylinders, seizing them instead of our bodies.
The giant stands back up straight, black substance starting to flow around the tubes... when it pauses, as though confused. I take its moment of confusion and light the gas-soaked rag, and then hesitate. Can I really throw the bottle hard enough to reach the propane cylinders...?
Parsee takes the decision out of my hands. Grabbing the cocktail, she rolls to her feet and hurls it upwards with all of her might. The bottle flies true, and the gas ignites as it runs over the leaking cylinders. It doesn't take long for the propane to ignite.
I can't imagine how many windows that blast just destroyed. I do know that it's enough to knock Parsee and I to our feet. It certainly blows a massive hole in the giant's torso, the arms now dangling loosely by the narrowest of strands. The spheres on the ends of its arms look intact. I really, really hope that if the others weren't just killed by this monster outright, that they weren't hurt by the explosion.
But despite losing most of its torso, the monster doesn't fall. Instead, it takes a shuddering step backwards. Then another. And it is then that I realize just what the yard outside looks like.
There is no storm. No thunder, no rain. In fact, more than thirty feet away from the mansion itself, there isn't much of anything. Just a strange... something. The mansion, and the grounds surrounding it, are hovering in some sort of purple-black haze. Floating within this haze are innumerable purple eyes. These eyes stare around wildly; some stare in obvious panic, some are squeezed tight as though trying to shut out the world, while others are twisted into what looks like sorrow or pain. Most of them seem damp, as though on the verge of tears that they are unable to shed.
It is towards this haze that the creature is backing, the substance making it up matching the surrounding haze almost perfectly. I do notice that the golden eyes have vanished from its body completely, leaving only the purple eyes to stare around wildly. With one final step, the enormous thing falls off the edge of the mansion's grounds... only to be perfectly absorbed by the strange void surrounding us.
And then there is silence. Parsee and I stand side-by-side in front of the mansion, in which most of the front windows have shattered. We stare around blankly at our alien surroundings. At some point, our hands have found one another, and are squeezing tightly. As the ringing fades from my ears, I realize that I can hear a distant, feminine sobbing, a voice wracked by fear, despair, and agony.
It sounds like Yukari.
So now what?
[ ] Same as last time, but adapted for this situation.
[ ] Something different! (specify)
[x] Same as last time, but adapted for this situation.
-[x]Craft more weaponsSearch for anything that can be used as a weapon (ammo, knifes, chemicals, etc). You don't know when The Beast may return for Round Two.
-[x]PREPARE FOR EVERYTHING.
>>54332 [x] Same as last time, but adapted for this situation.
-[x]Craft more weaponsSearch for anything that can be used as a weapon (ammo, knifes, chemicals, etc). You don't know when The Beast may return for Round Two.
-[x]PREPARE FOR EVERYTHING.
-[x] Hide weapons just in case.
Total metagame here because Keymaster will likely ramp up the boss fight difficulty due to all the bitching the last time.
"Okay," Parsee says quietly, "Now this is fucked up." I can only nod in mute agreement.
The sobbing continues on around us, unabated. It's definitely Yukari's voice, no two ways about that. She sounds like she's suffering tremendously. The eyes floating in the void shake and tear up, looking around desperately as though seeking an escape. Maybe they are.
"It's Yukari," I say quietly, Parsee nodding in reply. "Come on, let's go see if we can talk to her. Maybe she can tell us something." The hasihime stares at me for a moment, then nods hesitantly. Together, the two of us walk to the very edge of the mansion's property. Or what's left of it. "I don't suppose you have any idea where we are?" I query Parsee.
"It looks a lot like one of those gaps the hag used to bring us here," Parsee mutters. "So what happened? Things go out of control when she died?"
"Either that, or things are very much under control. Someone else's control." I look at the pained eyes floating in the void and grimace. "And I don't think it's very comfortable for her." Parsee winces, and says nothing.
Standing at last on the edge of the property, the two of us stare into the swirling madness. Parsee is standing close to me, and I find her proximity to be comforting. I sweep my hand out into the void and touch nothing; the material surrounding us feels as though it's a million miles away, and yet just out of the reach of my fingertips. How odd. However, my gesture does cause several of the eyes to turn towards me and widen slightly. Judging from their sense of pleading desperation, and Yukari's suddenly louder sobs, I think I got her attention.
"...Yukari?" I call out into the emptiness, "Yukari! Can you hear me? Are you there?"
There is the sound of someone taking a breath, somehow audible yet distant at the same time. After a moment, I clearly hear Yukari's voice, calling out as though from the bottom of a well, tight with pain and distress: "...help..."
"We'd sure as hell love to do that, but we're kinda clueless, gap hag!" Parsee shouts out. "Care to give us a pointer? What the hell's going on around here?!"
"...hurts so much..." Yukari's voice comes back. ...can't move... not meant to be used like this... dangerous... won't stop doing it..."
"What isn't meant to be used like this?" I ask loudly, "Do you mean your powers?" Several eyes focus on me and bob in what I take to be a nod. I hesitate. "Yukari, are you and the others alive?" I finally ask, heart beating in my chest.
"...Yes," Yukari replies, voice stronger for a moment. "They're here with me. We can't move. It... ugh... what's being done to us is... can't think straight...My powers aren't under my control anymore. Got taken by surprise." A shudder seems to run through the murk, and most of the eyes suddenly seem to clench in pain. "Help us..." she pleads, her voice fading again.
"Well, at least we know the others were captured, and not killed," Parsee says to me. I nod, feeling a weight being lifted off my chest.
"He just brought in the others..." Yukari gasps out, "Now it's just you two... ugh... he won't stop, though."
"'He,'" Parsee mutters, "Now that narrows it down a whole ton."
"Yukari, please concentrate," I plead with the pained woman, "What else can you tell us?"
There is the sound of her taking a breath. "Just a moment... ugh... I think you bought some time with that explosion. It really rattled him. I'm... hooked up to a machine. It's letting him...argh... use my powers. He's using my abilities to seal everyone's magic. It all comes down to that." There is a pained moan. "But more than that...! He's screwing around with things even I don't dare trifle with! He got the.. attention of something terrible.... something ancient... the kind of thing that hovers in the spaces..." Yukari gasps with sudden, indescribable agony.
"Yukari, hang in there!" I cry out desperately, "Tell us more! Where are you? Where do we go to rescue you?!"
For a moment, there is silence. Then Yukari makes one last, pained pronouncement. "Beware of The Beast..."
And then, silence.
Parsee growls unhappily. "Great. Not too fucking ominous, was that, Yakumo?"
I look over at her. "What in the name of all that is holy is this Beast she was talking about?" I wonder.
Parsee shakes her head. "No idea. But if it scared Yukari Yakumo herself, I don't wanna know." The bridge guardian shudders genuinely, and I'm inclined to agree with her. Whatever this monster is, I pray that we never encounter it.
"So, what now?" Parsee asks me.
I think about it for a moment and then turn back to her. "Isn't it obvious? We find out who is doing this. Then we clobber him, and release the others. Simple enough, yes?"
She snorts in response. "In theory? Yes. In practice? Probably not gonna be that easy."
"I know." I chew my lip for a moment, staring out at the dazed purple eyes. "We need to arm ourselves as best as we can. Search the house from top to bottom, looking for anything we can use as a weapon. This is going to come down to a fight."
"You realize that he's hiding somewhere in those tunnels, right? Whoever 'he' is." Parsee frowns. "Honestly, Gensokyo is a little short on men. The only males I deal with regularly are Oni, and this just isn't their style. I really don't have a fucking clue who's doing all of this."
"We'll just have to find out," I declare. With one final look, I stare out at the sea of eyes before turning back toward the house. "Come on. Let's see if there's anything in here that we can use."
Parsee falls into step beside me as we head back to the house. "I don't suppose you have any of those outsider weapons here, do you? Firearms or whatever?"
Outsider? I decide not to press her on the terminology. "I'm afraid not. We used to, but then one of the guests got drunk and irate and managed to find a handgun. Sylvia just barely managed to talk him down. So no, we haven't kept firearms here since then."
"Fuck," Parsee says eloquently, leading the way into the house. "Well, that's just perfect-" She stops mid-sentence and screeches to a halt, I doing the same beside her. "Fuck times infinity," she mutters.
"Such a lovely voice and you used it on such harsh words," I comment.
"Tell me you're not thinking the same thing," Parsee challenges me.
"...I cannot. Not without lying."
"Thought so." Parsee shakes her head and stares at the message written on the wall in thick black ink. 'MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!' "Who in hell does he think he's fooling?" Parsee snorts.
"Maybe he thinks we're fools, or thinks himself utterly brilliant," I reason. "Either that, or he's simply toying with us for his own amusement."
"Splitting his head open's too good for him," Parsee grunts. "Maybe I should start with the crotch."
"...Please don't say that sort of thing around a man," I say, looking at Parsee's axe and wincing. "So. Weapons. We sweep the house and gather up whatever we can. Then we go hunting, as it were."
"Sounds good to me," Parsee says with a nod. "So, what're we looking for, exactly?"
[ ] What are you looking for, exactly? Feel free to throw some ideas out there, including ideas of weapons to makeshift together.
Even if not against Rinnosuke, they might come in handy later.
[x]Blunt long object (bat, plank)
[x]Sharp object (scissors, glass shards)
[x]Improvised axe that looks fragile enough to be underestimated by an overconfident enemy.
I cannot believe I got to use two pictures from the same game in the same story. And this time it's actually related!
Basically what we want is to liquify a mixture of 3 parts potassium chlorate and 2 times sugar, with a bit of bicarbonate to slow the reaction. To do that we need to apply heat to the 3:2 ratio mixture in a pan and wait until the sugar carmelizes, then stir up and heat up some more until it all liquifies. Then introduce the liquid in small aluminium bags, wait for it to cool and soldify and voilá!
>>54361 We could also make a spear with something like a curtain rod instead of a bat. Less force, but greater reach.
Besides, a quick trip through the kitchen and we'll probably have more sharp objects than handles.
I assume we've already grabbed most of the knives, but things like large scissors or cutlery (like grill forks or whatever they're called). Hell, they could just take something like a heavy frying pan and add a handle to make a hammer, or smash a bottle to get that "something sharp" to use. I recommend putting the bottle down and smashing the end with a blunt object, though. Less risk of a hand full of glass shards that way. Movies cheat with trick bottles.
Oh, and speaking of bottles. More molotovs, too, if there's any gasoline left.
Range is an surprisingly large advantage in a melee fight, it forces them to go around the weapon before they can attack you giving you more time to dodge, or a free hit if they're sloppy. Spears in particular are very good in corridors as they can't go around and your not impared by the inability to swing.
[x]Small heavy things + Elastic(from some stored clothing) + Y shaped thing = slingshot.
Having a ranged weapon is also nice, but we don't really have the time or expertise to make anything other then Molotovs or a slingshot, the former is for emergencies only because it would start a fire that would torch the house and anyone still in it. There also the worry of encumbrance, we can't really afford to be carrying around something bulky like a wine bottle for no good reason especially as we risk being ambushed. A slingshot itself would be surprisingly effective Vs a human-strength enemy if you can load it with something good.
Behind us, the rain starts up again. However, this time it feels gentler somehow. The thunder and lightning has mostly halted, leaving the rain to fall against the house in an almost mesmerizing staccato. If it weren't for the damned situation we were in, I'd almost find it relaxing.
I hazard a look over my shoulder and sigh in relief. The terrain has returned. In the distance, under a gradually-lightening sky, I can once more see the trees ringing the property. Distantly, I wonder just how damage the mansion took. It's probably going to be hell to repair.
Parsee notices my gaze and follows it, eyebrow rising. "Well, at least we're out of crazy-land," she declares, walking over to the open front doors.
"Out of one crazy-land and back into another," I note, walking over to stand beside her. "To think, this was supposed to be a nice, normal, debauchery-filled weekend for lonely women."
"Ah, fuck it," Parsee replies, "I see enough debauchery in the underground city. You get tired of it, after a while."
"It'd still be a step up from this insanity," I note.
Parsee mulls it over. "True," she allows. "Anyway, like I said earlier: what are we looking for in the weapons department?"
I frown, deep in thought. "Well, I wish I had enough chemical knowledge to throw together some sort of chemical bomb. However, about the best that I can manage is a molotov cocktail."
"A what now?" Parsee says blankly.
"The firebomb I made earlier."
"Oh." She thinks a moment. "...You know, there's some Oni who would take that at face value and drink it. And probably survive."
I shudder. "They sound like an amazing people, in many ways. Anyway, we need to arm ourselves as best as we can. Blunt objects, sharp objects, dangerous tools, makeshift spears... anything we can use to defend ourselves."
"Spears you can toss..." Parsee murmurs, "Same with those fancy cocktails of yours."
"Though I'd really prefer not to burn the house down," I point out.
Parsee just looks at me. "What if it's our lives on the line? Still gonna hesitate?"
"...No," I admit.
"Good. Let's get started then." She glances at me hesitantly. "Um... where do we go first, anyway?"
I frown. "Let's stop by the pool area, first. There's some thing we can use in the supply closet there. Supplies for cleaning the pool, like extendable poles. If we were to tape a knife on the end, that would give us something on the order of a length-adjustable spear."
"Sounds good," Parsee agrees, "Lead the way."
A few minutes later I'm searching through the supply closet off to the side of the pool room. There's quite a few cleaning supplies in here; it makes me wish I was a better chemist. Someone who knew what they were doing could probably make a ton of explosives with this stuff. Or poison gas. The pool supply closet, your one-stop shop for things that you really shouldn't be playing around with. Still, I think we can use these adjustable pool rods for something useful, at the very least.
"Y'know, I've never been to a place like this," Parsee says into our watchful silence.
"The mansion? Or do you mean a pool?" I ask.
"Yes to both. I mean, I've been inside the Palace of Earth Spirits before, but it wasn't as... luxurious, as this place is. Oh, and the underground isn't as big on swimming as on the surface. We tend to have pools of magma rather than water."
I frown a little bit. "Sounds like a very extreme tan."
Parsee snorts. "Yeah, even the Oni aren't dumb enough to go swimming in that crap. Anyway, what's the deal with this place? Do you jump in naked or something? Yukari talked about swimming suits, but I never saw what we were supposed to wear."
I pull out a large roll of duct-tape. "Well, she had some custom-picked swimsuits delivered for both the men and women that would be staying here. I think that they're stored in the changing room."
Parsee considers for a moment, then turns back to me with a lopsided smile. "Okay. Time out. I gotta see this shit."
A few minutes later, we are in the women's changing room, considering the suits on offer for the female guests. Parsee took a moment to appropriate a few of the male swimsuits, and is now looking from them to the swimsuits stored in a box with her name on it. "Um..." she mutters, looking embarrassed.
I take out a bathing suit that appears to be a long purple spandex strap. "I think that this would be quite flattering on you," I say cheerfully.
Parsee stares at the ridiculous bathing suit, then back at me. "In your dreams, Alf."
"Pleasant dreams, at that," I agree.
Parsee glares, and holds up something neon-green that she found on the males side of things. "If my ass is hanging out, your ass has to hang out too."
I consider the purple piece of spandex intended for Parsee. "I feel that it would be more than just your rear quarters that would be hanging out, Miss Parsee."
"My point stands. I mean, jeez, you're practically naked in these things!" She looks at her own swimsuits awkwardly, the tips of her ears turning red.
"I think that was the point, actually," I reason, "And furthermore, outfits like these are rather easy to pull off."
"Right," Parsee says slowly, "I forgot the original purpose of this night. Huh. So, do your guests often get up to shenanigans, Alf?"
"Constantly," I sigh, "And it's always a terrible pain to clean up. Still, it's all part of the job, and all that."
"Fair enough. And just for the record?" Parsee points an accusing finger at her swimsuits. "No way in hell I'm wearing anything THAT embarrassing. Period."
"That's too bad," I sigh, "I thought some of them would look quite fetching on you. You have a lovely figure, you know."
Parsee's mouth works for a bit, before her hand drops back to her side. "...Maybe for a special occasion," she murmurs. This statement brightens me up considerably.
In any case, after getting a few objects from the pool room, we make our way over to the remains of the television room. Amid the wreckage of the wall, through which the rain purs freely, we pick up several large shards of glass with pieces of the drapes. From there, we make our way to the kitchen. The pool rods are locked into place, and long knives fastened to the ends with duct tape. Spears, check.
From there, we wrap more duct tape around the end of the long glass shards. Knives, check.
A quick check of the supply closet in the servants' quarters reveals a few things that were left behind earlier, due to lack of carrying space. A couple of crowbars, another hatchet, and a pair of baseball bats. I also take the time to check one of my coworkers' bedroom. He's something of an avid hunter, though he isn't permitted to keep any firearms on-site, for reasons I had already mentioned to Parsee. Still, we do find a very long hunting knife, as well as a pair of vests to carry our armaments.
Finally, I duck downstairs and grab the spare gas can, using the remaining fuel to prepare three more molotov cocktails. I really hope we don't have to burn the mansion down. I really, really do.
Much to Parsee's joy, we find a spare safety axe in one of the supply closets in the basement. I really had no idea that it was here; Eric must have put it there at some point and then forgot about it. Still, it certainly brightens up Parsee's day; she now has one axe for each hand, and a huge smile. It's strangely cheering, and utterly terrifying. I'm really glad that she's on my side.
With our arsenal complete, the two of us take stock of ourselves in the basement.
1 makeshift spear.
3 glass knives.
My coworker's hunting knife.
3 molotov cocktails in a metal box strapped to my back.
1 butcher's cleaver.
1 baseball bat.
"I feel like a walking arsenal," I say dryly.
Parsee shrugs. "Look at it this way: we need 'em. Anyway, we're armed. How do you wanna do this?"
"Let's enter the tunnels and look around," I suggest, "Whoever this man is, he's likely to have made his lair down there. With your hearing, we should be able to figure out where the sound of the generator is coming from."
Parsee nods. "Fine by me. Let's go." The two of us climb the stairs into the kitchen. That's when we see the letter.
There is an envelope sitting on the counter, next to a huge wad of cash. The letter is addressed to 'Mr. Westcastle and Miss Mizuhashi' in flowing script. For a moment, we can only stand there and stare at it. Then, carefully, I pick up the envelope, open the letter, and read.
To my worthy opponents,
Allow me to commend you on your actions thus far! You have proven to be tremendously entertaining, and good company over this long night! Please accept my apologies for any harm or inconvenience that you may have suffered; rest assured that I have already made arrangements for repairs to be done to Pleasant Meadows. As an apology for the troubles you have encountered, I have left a sizable sum of money for you. In all likelihood, this will allow Miss Misuhashi to make her way make home, and will allow Mister Westcastle to pursue any dream he so wishes. I hope you will accept this gift in the spirit of generosity with which it was intended.
On a side note, the two of you make for a lovely couple. Truly, your endless banter has been an endless source of entertainment for me. I suspect that any relationship will be a pipe dream, given your respective situations, but perhaps a lovely cruise to Japan is in order?
But enough of that. Allow me to be direct with the both of you. I am hereby declaring victory. You now know of my resources, my powers. I am willing to let Miss Mizuhashi go free; she's really quite incidental to my plan. In the end, it would be better if you simply accepted my gift and departed peacefully. Accept your defeat, and forget this night ever happened. Make whatever excuse you wish, Mister Westcastle, I'm certainly willing to play along. But I have no further use for either of you. Take your payment, and leave.
I trust you will find the logic in my argument.
Parsee is shuddering with rage at this point. "Motherfucker," she hisses under her breath. I realize that I'm gripping the letter so tightly that it's starting to crumple in my hands.
I think that I am experiencing pure rage at this point.
I'd like to point out that the men that were supposed to be coming are people Alfred would be serving as well. So the whole "I came her to serve ladies thing" doesn't really work since he wasn't going to be serving just them.
I take a deep breath to steady myself, and try to regain control over my temper. It fails miserably. This is going too far. After everything we've suffered, after all of the hoops we've been forced to jump through, now this son of a bitch tells us to buzz off?! He tries to BRIBE us?!
No, I think I've gone far past the point of being merely 'angry.' 'Livid,' and 'wrathful' are a bit closer to the mark. Maybe it's just the influence of the axe-wielding lovely woman at my side, but I suddenly don't feel like escaping and pretending this all never happened.
I suddenly feel like hurting someone. Specifically, this smug bastard with the initials 'R.M.'
"Motherfucker," Parsee snarls, eyes flashing angrily. She turns to face me. "Can you believe this asshole? This trying to buy us off like that?! Who the hell does he think he is?!"
I contemplatively stroke my baseball bat. "Parsee, dear?" I say in a gentle voice, "I think that it's just about time for a bit of the good old ultraviolence."
Parsee raises an eyebrow and hefts one of her axes. "Ultraviolence, eh? Fancy word. I like it. Did you make it up, or did some genius come up with it before you?"
"One of these days, I'm going to have to sit you down and show you A Clockwork Orange," I say with resolution. "...It's a classic movie," I add at her blank expression.
"Oh." Parsee nods her understanding. "Gotta say, Al, I haven't seen you this worked up before. You look about as pissed off as I feel."
"I am a butler, if not in fact, then in all the ways that count," I tell her evenly. "Someone has broken into and mutilated my mansion, and turned it into a stage for their own sick game. Frankly, Parsee, I'm tired of being calm and patient. I want to end this, right now." I pause for a moment. "Need another line? How about this one? I'm here to kick ass and serve ladies. And I'm almost out of ladies."
Parsee snorts with amusement at this boast. "Al. Seriously. Just tell me 'let's go kick his ass,' alright?"
"...Let's go kick his ass, Parsee," I say to her.
The bridge guardian nods approvingly. "NOW you're talking."
A few minutes later, the two of us are in the wrecked lounge, staring into the ragged door to the concealed tunnels. "We go in quietly," I mutter, "And we try not to tip off our enemy to our presence. If at all possible, we need to release Yukari. That should allow all of you to get your powers back. Remember to listen carefully for any sign of the power generator."
Parsee nods her agreement. "Got it." She hesitates. "Hey, Al?"
"Yes, Parsee?" I ask, turning to her.
She grabs my face and kisses me. Hard.
It's a very nice kiss. For someone with such a sharp-sounding tongue, it actually feels quite soft on gentle. Same with her lips, and...
...Kinda hard to think now.
She smells nice, though. Although there is a tang of sulfur there.
After a long moment, Parsee breaks the kiss and steps back, blushing. "For luck," she says quietly.
It takes me a moment to find my voice. "I sure as hell feel lucky," I admit.
Parsee laughs shyly, then shakes herself. Grabbing both axes, she walks over to the hole and leaps in. "You coming, or you just gonna stand there and gawk all day?" she challenges me.
I laugh a bit myself. Out the window, the sun is starting to come up, and the rain is finally starting to fade away. "Parsee my darling, I wouldn't miss this for the world." I follow Parsee into the passageway.
Silently, we move forward down the cramped hallway. Parsee pauses every minute or so, ears perking up as she listens intently for any sound of the generator. A frown crosses her face more than once, but she doesn't break our self-imposed silence. Together, we make our way to a familiar cross-section, with the one passage leading down to the guest bedroom. Parsee hesitates, shakes her head, and then continues to lead us forward.
The concealed hallway seems smaller, somehow. Maybe our mysterious enemy has depleted his resources and can't warp space anymore? Either that, or Yukari's energy... that isn't a pleasant thought. Regardless, we continue to press onward, passing by the open space with the breakers labelled L-30. Parsee glances at the breakers for a moment before passing on, then she stops in mid-stride. With a puzzled expression, she leads the way back and places her ear on the wall next to the breakers. Her eyes flash, and she looks over at me. "It's here."
"You have to be kidding me," I tell her, staring sharply at the wall.
Parsee shakes her head. "Nope. I can hear it, through the wall here. The generator is close by, and it sounds like this wall is pretty thin. It's hard to explain; you learn these things when you live underground."
I glare at the breakers accusingly. Were we actually so close, earlier, when we stopped to take a break? Could we have ended all of this madness if we had only been a little more observant? Maybe so. I distantly wonder if our foe was feeling a bit nervous when we halted here to rest... and if he was laughing uproariously when we departed without finding anything.
That's assuming that there is anything to find here, of course. Which there is. It takes Parsee and I about two minutes to find it; a switch, hidden behind some cables along the top of the wall. With a deep breath, I glance over at Parsee, receiving her encouraging look in return. Thus fortified, I press the switch.
With a click, the wall pushes away from the rest of the hallway. It easily slides away at my touch, revealing a dusty brick hallway behind. Part of the original foundations, long ago built over. And, apparently, renovated for a monster. Parsee taps me on the shoulder and hand me one of her axes. We each heft our weapons in a two-handed grip, and move forward.
Twenty feet in, we find the lair and freeze.
In a place of prominence is Yukari, strapped to some sort of odd contraption that I can't even begin to comprehend. Her arms and legs are shackled, and a strange sort of helmet with a visor is on her head. I see several IV lines running into her arms from medical machines, and a strange, thick cable runs into a harness on her back. She is awake and in visible pain, with tears running down her face as she concentrates furiously on something, face a mixture of terror, panic, and suffering.
The others are here as well, shackled to the walls. The have the same kind of helmet lowered over their heads, but none of the other equipment. I notice that all of the helmets have lines that run to another odd piece of equipment with menacing lines and eerily glowing bits. The women themselves are in various states of consciousness, with Eiki and Suika snarling weakly, while Hatate is staring blearily into the distance, looking half-conscious.
Off to one side is this place's generator, humming away constantly. I don't recognize its make. On another wall is a bank of monitors. Some of the monitors are black, some covered in static, but a few are still clear. The clear ones show the interior of the mansion, each one focused on a different room. Someone had the perfect setup for voyeurs installed. I notice a small, neglected kitchenette and what appears to be a small bathroom next to an unused cot. A lonely tool chest stands neglected in the corner.
The last thing along the walls that gets my attention is a bronze arch in the corner that has a strange, shifting quicksilver bounded within its arms. I can't even begin to imagine at its purpose.
Sitting in the center of the room is an unoccupied desk, with several strange things upon its surface. A glass ball with swirling mist inside. An peculiar contraption of gold and crystal. Several sheets of paper with complex diagrams on them. And of course, a tea service. From the smell of things, this individual has terrible taste in tea.
As we walk into the room, the guests groan and look up at the intrusion, each in varying states of awareness. Eiki is the first to see the two of us, and she tries to say something. However, her throat locks up and she falls into a fit of coughing. She blinks a few times, then shakes her head in visible confusion. What is being done to her? Yukari looks up and gives me a look full of hope and worry combined. The others all look at me, one after the other.
Hatate. Iku. Hina, who looks away in shame. Kasen. Lyrica. Suika. Yumeko. There is no sign of our enemy.
At least, not until he steps around from behind the machinery Yukari is strapped to, and shoots Parsee.
The youkai woman's reflexes are good, and she leaps to the side, only receiving a flesh would as opposed to a direct hit. However, it appears to have been enough. Parsee topples to the ground, clutching at a mild scratch. Her limbs move slowly, and she appears sluggish overall. At the sound of something metallic hitting the ground, I hazard a look and see what appears to be a small dart rolling on the floor.
Judging by Parsee's seeming paralysis, there has to be some kind of drug on it. But I spare it the briefest of glances, instead settling down into the best fighting stance that I can come up with. My eyes are focused on my enemy.
He walks over to his desk nonchalantly, setting the strange-looking gun down. "And that was the last of my special darts," he sighs. "No matter. She isn't going anywhere any time soon." Calmly, the man takes a sip of his tea before giving me his full attention. Gold eyes regard me emotionlessly from behind steel-rimmed glasses as he brushes silvery hair out of his face and adjusts his blue and black clothing.
"It's a pleasure to finally meet you, Mister Westcastle," he says in a deep, cool voice. "My name is Rinnosuke Morichika."
Yeah, so I'm not gonna completely re-do Rinnosuke's explanations. Next two updates will be nothing more than slightly adjusted copy-paste jobs; feel free to skip them. I will post them regardless, just so people don't have to click back to the previous thread. To make up for it, I'll post a couple of nice pictures of Parsee with them.
I will be re-doing the Rinnosuke fight, however. And this time, there's no Yama ready to help you against what comes after.
For a moment I just stare at this man, who has caused so much pain and terror. As I glare at him, he just stares back blandly, as though nothing in the world could possibly be wrong. I take a deep, shuddering breath, trying and failing to calm myself. It takes all of my willpower to keep from charging him right here and now. A glance behind me shows that Parsee has managed to prop herself up against the wall, but won't be doing much else. I'm on my own for now. Therefore, I ask the first question that comes to mind, one that I need answered before anything else:
Rinnosuke nods. "A fair question. A fairly simple one, though there are actually three such questions I could answer. I will assume, however that you want to know why I did all of this in the first place."
I look at the women strapped to the walls, and then back to Rinnosuke, sneering. "That hard up, are you? Can't get a girl to go on a date, so you need to kidnap them?"
"With all the free women in Gensokyo, you must be pretty rancid, huh?" Parsee spits out.
The silver-haired man just chuckles at this. "I assure you, I have no intention of mating with any of them. No, if I truly feel the need for a rendezvous, there is a lovely little crested ibis youkai who comes by my shop." There is a pause, and when Rinnosuke speaks again, his entire demeanor has changed. His eyes seem to twinkle, his mouth is turned into a smirk, and he has a relaxed air about him. "All I need to do is turn on the charm, and the young lady practically dives headfirst into my bed." He chuckles in a perversely warm voice.
"Tokiko..." Hatate whispers in a strained voice. "You jerk... she really cares about you!"
"I know," Rinnosuke says with a dismissive shrug, back to his cold, uncaring self, "It makes things a lot easier. Less hassle, that's why I bother with her. But back to your question, Mister Wescastle; no, I am not doing this to form a harem of sorts."
"Sick fuck," Parsee grunts.
I work my jaw, irked at how the man spoke so dismissively of a young lady's feelings. It's like she isn't even real to him. "Then why? What is the purpose of this?" I demand.
Rinnosuke raises a finger in the air the punctuate his next statement. "Self-improvement." He chuckles at my blank stare. "I mean it. I'm just going about it in a different way. You see, I'm a half-youkai, Mister Westcastle... may I call you Alfred? I never knew my father, and I barely remember my mother. But that isn't important. What is important is the rather awkward place I occupy in Gensokyo."
"Don't tell me that this is some sort of sob story about being stuck between worlds, and no one understands you," I say harshly.
Rinnosuke's eyes flash, but his face remains impassive. "It isn't. But it is true that neither group, neither human nor youkai, particularly likes me. To each, I'm an outsider. I've learned to live with it. But what I'm getting at is that, though I have youkai blood, I really have none of their strength. Humans can come to wield rather massive magical power, with training. Youkai are born with vast power. Me?" He chuckles again. "I can tell, roughly, what an object does. Also, I'm a bit stronger than your average human. That's about it."
"So what?" I ask him.
"So, Gensokyo is a land where those with power rule. The mightier you are, the more respect you incur. Weak beings are beneath contempt."
Yukari stirs at this. "What a moment, that's not true-"
"Isn't it?" Rinnosuke asks, not turning to face her. "The mighty have their tea parties and lounge around in contentment, while those beneath them are just that- beneath them. It takes a significant being indeed to change this, and they usually do it by changing themselves. In other words, acquire greater power."
"You're blowing things out of proportion!" Kasen shouts.
The half-youkai snorts. "I don't think I am. And honestly? After a while, it gets to you. I've never been able to harness my heritage to strengthen myself. Human magics don't come to me, and youkai powers are inhibited by my human blood. I'm permanently stuck in mediocrity. After a while, that starts to... grate on you. You get sick of always being the strange, forgettable shopkeeper."
Parsee grunts, but says nothing. I don't dare take my eyes off of Rinnosuke to check on her, however. "So when you can't get power of your own... get someone else's," I say , realization sweeping over me.
Rinnosuke smiles darkly. "Precisely, Alfred." He gestures behind him to Yukari. "Behold the mighty Lady Yakumo, shackled to a device which binds her powers to my will." He shakes a device on his wrist to demonstrate. "It pumps her full of nutrients, allowing her to utilize powers that would normally exhaust her. Which she then utilizes at my command."
"A process which exhausts and pains her," I spit out.
"Unimportant," Rinnosuke says dismissively. "This is just the first step, in any case. The helmets you see are a sort of conditioning system, altering their thought patterns to my whim. It will take some time, to be certain, but eventually, they will all obey me absolutely, and without question." He smiles. "It's nice having my connections. I know some people with some very interesting mechanical ideas, and more importantly, I know how to urge them onward."
I clench my fists. "In other words, you're ultimately going to brainwash them, turning them into your loyal soldiers."
"And many of them have servants of their own, which will also come to belong to me," Rinnosuke adds. "With them at my beck and call, I won't need massive magical abilities of my own. I can simply order them to do as I wish, and they will. Even if it's murdering a loved one."
I take a steadying breath, appalled at this man's lack of conscience. "And what then? Do you intend to make yourself into a king?"
Rinnosuke smiles. "You know what? I haven't really decided yet. I suppose I could, but that might bring the wrath of some rather powerful beings down upon my head. No, better to spend the rest of the weekend ensuring that their minds are my own. Then if I ever need something, they will provide it for me, like good little puppets. They might even be able to go back to their lives, just a little bit. Or, maybe not. I'm not sure what the long-term effects of the conditioning will be. But then, that's an unimportant detail, no?"
My heart is pounding in my chest, and my face is growing hot with anger. "You said there wre three questions you could answer. What are the other two?"
Rinnosuke smiles. "Why would Hina help me set all of this up?" he asks. The curse goddess in question closes her eyes, tears streaming down her cheeks. "The answer is quite simple: bitterness. A goddess lives and grows strong based on the power of prayer. The more faith she receives, the stronger she grows. And poor Hina has been shackled to youkai mountain for a very long time."
Hatate starts at this, her eyes focusing on Rinnosuke. "What...?"
The half-youkai shrugs. "Hina long ago grew frustrated with her situation. People mistrusted her, feared her, despite her great love of humanity. The prayed to keep her away, despite her efforts to remove their misfortune, despite her role in keeping them away from the dangerous mountain. So, she did what any deity in that situation would do: she tried to move away. And the tengu stopped her."
"Huh?!" Hatate is wide awake now. "Wait a minute, we'd never imprison her on the mountain!"
"Of course you wouldn't," Rinnosuke agrees, and Hina's eyes shoot open in shock. "The truth is, the tengu are just very bureaucratic and conservative. Hina had been on the mountain for a long time, and when she made plans to move somewhere closer to human civilization, to spread the truth about her and gather more worshipers, the tengu had what could be called a fit. Basically, Hina's planned action would result in a situation they weren't used to, and they wanted to keep things the same. So, a group of tengu came to her doorstep, and argued loudly about what she was doing. Terms like 'irresponsible' got bandied around. Really, it sounded to me like a bunch of old men angry about their favorite restaurant closing. Horrible change afflicting a very conservative group." He pauses. "But if Hina had really pushed for it, they wouldn't have been able to stop her, of course."
The curse goddess stares at Rinnosuke with a slack jaw. "So Hina was talked out of moving away by a bunch of grouchy tengu?" I ask.
"Nagged, more like," Rinnosuke grunts. "But to her ears, it sounded like she was being forced to stay. A misunderstanding, yes... but one I caught wind of through my friends among the kappa, and one I was willing to use to my advantage."
"You came to visit me," Hina whispers, "You listened to me, and invited me to come see you. You told me about Yukari's trip, and even got her to ask me along."
Rinnosuke nods. "Yukari had mentioned this little outing to me, and I immediately recommended you. Then I made sure to befriend you, and remind you of all the injustices you had suffered. Bitterness is such a useful, tool. Especially when it's misplaced." Rinnosuke turns back to me with a smile. "She'd been seething over this for years, you see. All I had to do was promise her that I'd ask my friends among the kappa to speak up in her defense, and to help her build a lovely new shrine far away from tengu territory. All she had to do in exchange... was help me pull a little prank."
"A prank," I say hollowly. "She didn't know what was going on."
"You were yanking her chain the whole time," Parsee says quietly from where she sits against the wall, "Letting her think she was just blowing off some stress by screwing with some youkai. No wonder she started to break down." There's actually a hint of pity in Parsee's voice.
"She thought this was all a joke to yank the chain of a few youkai," Rinnosuke agrees. "A few mock kidnappings to humble them a little bit. But, well, reality began to sink in, and I had to grab her before she spilled the beans completely. She still helped me with Miss Iku, of course." Rinnosuke rolls his eyes. "Honestly, she's such a gullible shrew." Hina chokes with shame and humiliation, clenching her eyes tightly closed again. Hatate gives her a pitying look.
"Lovely," I say with forced calm, "You've shown your ability to manipulate the emotions of unhappy women, Good for you. Then let's get to the final question: what was the point of this little game?!"
Rinnosuke shrugs. "I was just having fun."
I stare blankly. "What."
"What." Parsee says, a cold heat in her voice.
The half-youkai smirks. "You weren't in my original plan. I had intended for the house to be devoid of anyone but the guests themselves. I was going to lay out a few trays of food and an apology note myself, but then you came along. I wasn't expecting it. I toyed with the idea of removing you, but realized that this might have tipped off your fellow staff members if they were to call in, and my whole plan would be in ruins. Besides, the situation had potential!" Rinnosuke laughs, an unpleasant sound. "A butler, all alone in a house with a group of frightened women, trying his best to defend them. Now, I had to take the women one by one, but I decided to use your reactions as a cue, and avoid the ones you favored most. I suppose I was curious as to which one you liked the best. And since I was going to grab them anyway, why not make a little game of it?" He purses his lips. "Mind you, it was a touch more complicated than I had anticipated, and by the end I decided to just end things. I had a good grasp on Yukari's powers by then, you see."
I take deep, slow breaths. "So this whole thing... from the very beginning... was just you playing a game?!"
Rinnosuke shrugs innocently. "Who says you can't mix work and play?"
Parsee snarls in utter hatred, and it takes all that I have not to rush him then and there.
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I keep my face as calm as I can manage, and take a deep breath to steady myself. Anger would accomplish nothing, here. If anything, this madman would probably feed on it, assuming he cared at all. No, I'm tired of being jerked around by his sick interests. Instead, I'm going to deal with Mr. Morichika the same way I would deal with any other unpleasant guest.
With massive amounts of snark.
I sigh and shrug. "Well, that's really quite amusing then," I say evenly.
Rinnosuke nods at my composure. "I thought you might think so-"
"You almost make it sound like you knew what you were doing," I finish, in the same tone I would use if I were talking about the weather. The twitch on Rinnosuke's face is very satisfying. Parsee's sudden laughter is also very pleasant on my ears.
"I DID know what I was doing," he insists, face dark with outrage. He spares a withering glance for Parsee. "Or had you not noticed how I had all of you running around at my whim?"
"What I noticed was your expertise at running into walls," I reply, "As well as your skill at pitching female guests at me as projectile weapons. But never mind your questionable execution, Mr. Morichika. I'm curious: just how did you set all of this up in the first place?"
Rinnosuke glares at me for a moment longer before taking a steadying breath of this own. After a moment, his composure has returned in full, his face a bland mask. However, I can still see a flash of anger in his eyes as he speaks with a bland voice. "...It all started when Yukari found a brochure for your mansion in my store," he tells me, "An old one, far out of date, but Yukari was enthralled by the place at once. We got to talking, and she told me of her idea: get some of Gensokyo's women together for a lovely weekend of feminine pleasures. I saw an opportunity, and encouraged her to follow though on it."
"No doubt you were excited at the thought of females having pleasures," I quip, causing Parsee to snort in amusement again. "Much like a young lad's first pornographic magazine."
"He does have the perfect set-up for a voyeur," Parsee notes. "Anyway, keep going. I wanna hear this."
Rinnosuke's eyes flash, and his jaw works as he glares at us. After a moment, he continues. "In any case, at that point I began to discreetly observe Yukari. You see, over the years I've accumulated a wide variety of magical artifacts. Such as this one." Here he lays his hand on the crystal orb with a swirling mist within. "A classical crystal ball. It took me some time to learn how to use it, but once, I did, I became one of the most well-informed men in Gensokyo. I started to follow Yukari's movements."
"Oh, even better for the lonely young man!" I remark, "Though I shudder to imagine just where you were spying on her. Your interests seem a tad too... unconventional for my tastes."
Yukari snorts. "You know what? Under different circumstances, I might actually be flattered."
"I just hope he doesn't like to watch girls on the toilet," Parsee groans.
"That would be very less than flattering," Yukari admits.
"In any case," Rinnosuke says quickly, voice betraying some annoyance, "When she first visited this place to investigate, I made my move. Over there..." here he gestures to an odd arch in the corner, "... is one of the most powerful artifacts in my collection. A literal portal to anywhere I set the arches. The other end is in my shop."
Yukari jerks in her bonds. "You followed me," she breathes, "I thought I felt something, but decided that it was just my imagination. You followed me when I came to visit Pleasant Meadows the first time and met with the owner, exploiting the gap in the barrier that I had to make."
Rinnosuke nods, not looking at her. "Using the magic of the portal to make a one-way trip is... unpleasant, to say the least, but it was worth it. Using my crystal ball to set the coordinates, I had no trouble making my way here and lugging the other arch along with me. Then I waited until this place was deserted and made my way in. I associate with kappa, Mister Westcastle. Breaking in and avoiding your security system was child's play for me."
I nod slowly. "And then you could renovate our mansion to your liking, all using your own home as a base of operations," I realize.
"My shop," Rinnosuke agrees.
"Your junk store," Lyrica snorts.
"Junk store?" I chuckle, looking at Rinnsuke's rather unusual garb. "How fitting."
"Regardless," Rinnosuke continues through clenched teeth. "The next step was setting the stage. Of course, I made sure that our dear Hina here was in on the 'prank,' and I naturally kept an eye on Yukari and the other guests. But the real work was done by the kappa."
"Why would they help you?" Kasen asks with a frown.
Rinnosuke shrugs. "I'm on fairly good terms with one of them. She's suffered a great deal of personal frustration lately over that whole affair with the ice fairy- long story, Mister Westcastle- and was ecstatic at the chance to work on a special project in a human mansion, in the outside world, no less. As far as she knew, this was all a part of Yukari's plan. The rest was just putting on a little charm to convince her, and supervising the work. Everything was in readiness two days before you showed up, mister Westcastle."
I nod. "Enthralling. And how, exactly, did you convince anyone to create these... devices?" I ask, gesturing to the mechanism Yukari is hooked up to, as well as the eerie machine that everyone's helmet leads to.
Rinnosuke shrugs. "Alcohol."
"Naturally," I say dryly.
Parsee just groans.
"It's true!" Rinnosuke exclaims. "When under the influence of alcohol dear Nitori is capable of the most amazing work... while properly supervised, of course. She just needed me to egg her on, and put a little something in her drink later to make her forget."
"I'm surprised you didn't just brainfuck her too, you bastard!" Parsee spits at him, trying and failing to stand up. I start to move over to her, but she waves me off as best as she can.
Rinnosuke just shrugs. "I didn't want to risk damaging her technical skills. She's too useful to me as she is, and easily manipulated. No, I'll leave her alone. No reason to hook her up to this machine, when all I have to do is provide an open ear and three bottles of sake."
"In any case, with the stage set, all that I had to do was wait," Rinnosuke tells me, looking pleased with himself. Of course, your arrival was a bit of a surprise, but I already told you how I adapted to that. Still, I made sure tho learn the routes that the rest of the staff would be coming from, as well as Yukari's hired prostitutes."
"Escorts!" Yukari shouts at him.
"Everyone knows better," Rinnosuke chuckles. He taps the odd device of gold and crystal. "A weather-control mechanism. Currently drained dry of all of its magic, but it allowed me to manipulate local weather patterns to prevent anyone from arriving by car. Save you, of course, since you were here too early. The others arrived via one of Yukari's gaps."
"An impressive array of magical equipment," I admit. "Tell me, whom did you have to fellate to acquire it all?"
Rinnosuke actually snarls. "During a long lifetime where you specifically collect the odd and unusual, you manage to acquire a wide array of artifacts, Mister Westcastle. But enough of your childish provocations." He clears his throat and straightens up. "With the house closed off from the rest of my world, my first target was Yukari. I went after her as soon as she went to her room. I had acquired a fascinating weapon from the kappa that shoots darts." He holds up the weapon that he used to shoot Parsee. "Darts that I coated with a strong sedative, strong enough to even render a youkai unconscious. I made sure to lock her door, just in case." The half-youkai smirks. "It was quite a chore to lug her back here, but it was worth it. You should have seen her expression when she woke up in my apparatus."
"I was terrified," Yukari hisses, "I still can't believe that you're doing this!" As she speaks, Yukari catches my eyes, glancing quickly at the gun, then at the desk itself. Are there extra darts there after all? An antidote, maybe?
"Your beliefs mean nothing," Rinnosuke says dismissively. "Regardless, by manipulating her powers remotely, I was able to give myself great speed and great stealth. Enough to make it to her room first and prepare it for you once I realized that you were on your way." He nods over to the bank of monitors.
"And did so with all of the skill of a rank amateur," I sniff. "You might have impressed a student filmmaker with low aspirations. Maybe. We certainly saw through it when we actually looked at it for more than five seconds."
Rinnosuke hesitates, then shrugs. "It served well enough. And by then the game was on. I kept careful watch over all of you via my cameras, and grabbed the women one by one."
"Wait, what about what happened with Iku?" Parsee aks, "That was a little weird how it went down."
Another pause. "That... proved difficult, I admit. I wasn't expecting you all to just hole up like that. Fortunately, I had Hina on my side." Rinnosuke spares a cold smile for the goddess, who looks away in shame. "All I did was throw on a raincoat, make a sign for her to read, and then make my way around to the window. When nobody else was looking, I got her attention and showed her the message. It basically said to cause a distraction and make sure Iku was near the window."
I nod in understanding. "And then when everyone else was distracted, you used your newfound speed to rush in, shatter the window as a red herring, and grab Iku."
Rinnosuke nods. "I used an iron bar for that. It worked well enough. After that, I decided that it was time for me to cut the power and switch to my own generator." He frowns. "Thank you for switching on the main one, by the way. It seems my cameras can't see though the darkness all that well."
"Such a well thought-out plan," I chuckle.
Rinnosuke glares at me icily. "It worked, didn't it? And once I started to use Yukari's power to warp the halls themselves-"
"You could barely control it!" I snap, "Like a child trying to program a mainframe! Honestly, the whole thing was such a transparent ploy to terrify us, it fell apart just as soon as we got our heads straight and actually looked! Really, what are those papers on your desk? Schematics of your devious plan? Did your plan involve running like a chicken with its head cut off down hallways you warped yourself? I seem to recall that you barely got away from us that time!"
"But I did get away from you!" Rinnosuke shouts.
"Yes, because you had to run from a coward from the very group of people you were trying to scare in the first place! In the end, you had to swarm us with a mob of those... things! Not to mention ambush me to bring me down and capture Eiki. Incidentally, I can't help but notice that your little weapon seems to be lacking ammunition. You certainly tossed it down casually enough, and I assume there's a reason you didn't shoot me as well as Parsee."
"The drugs are costly," Rinnosuke growls. "And it doesn't matter. Yes, things were a bit more... awkward, than I had expected, but it doesn't matter! I have everyone right where I want them!"
"Except me," I note. "Such an honor, to be the wrench in your plans. Which, by the way, look like you ripped off an Agatha Christie novel. A fan, are we? She did it much better than you. Now, next question, what the hell is with those helmets, exactly?"
Rinnosuke's outrage lodges in his throat at the sudden change of topic. "...The device uses a form of concentrated faith to overwrite mental patterns. Youkai are particularly susceptible. Gods, less so, but still more so than humans. It will take some time, but I will eventually reprogram everyone here to be loyal to me, and me alone. Hadn't I already made that clear?"
"Yes, but I needed to confirm it," I tell him, striding towards his desk. Rinnosuke tenses up as I approach, eyes locked with my own. I come to a stop on the other side of his desk and stare into those gold eyes, cold with rage. It seems that I've managed to anger him. Good. He's not nearly as clever as he thinks he is. In the end, he only won this game by applying massive force which he could barely control. Though, that does present a problem, now doesn't it?
Calmly, I reach over and pick up the tranquilizer gun by the barrel, examining it from all angles. Rinnosuke relaxes a little but, looking a bit proud of his possession. It really does look like quite the exotic toy, I mus admit. I purse my lips and nod, opening my mouth as though to say something...
...and then I throw it into his face as hard as I can.
"Ungh!" Rinnosuke grunts, more startled than hurt. Then he sees my axe, descending towards his head. Instinctively, his arms raise up to protect him, successively putting his control bracelet directly into the path of my weapon. With a loud smash, the device's sensitive machinery shatters, though the axe is regrettably stopped by the underlying metal. Still, that had to have numbed his arm, at the very least.
I am quickly proved wrong in this assumption as, with a feral growl, Rinnosuke's hand lashes out, knocking the axe away from me with strength that I never would have imagined could have existed in such a slender frame. Then his other arm comes around for a backhand-
As Parsee's frightened shout hits my ears, I hit the ground with a pained grunt and roll several feet, my head spinning. I shake myself to clear my senses, and come to the sudden realization that Rinnosuke's blow has knocked me a good ten feet away from the half-youkai. Who, by the way, is staring at me with undisguised hate. He glances down at the bracelet's remnants and strips it off with a shake of his head.
"Meaningless," the man spits out, "Maybe I can't control her powers directly, but she's still unable to so much as breathe without my consent. I'll just have to do this with my own two hands. Somehow, I think that I'll enjoy it!"
Carefully, I rise to my feet. "I'm far from unarmed," I point out. And on top of that, Rinnosuke is no longer utilizing Yukari's abilities. That gives me the advantage here, really.
And then Rinnosuke picks up his desk and hurls it into the wall fifteen feet away hard enough to shatter the wood. He does this with seemingly no effort. Must be the youkai blood.
"Your weapons mean nothing to me," The half-youkai says coldly.
This isn't good.
Eyes burning with deadly intent, Rinnosuke takes a step towards me. He doesn't say anything. He doesn't have to. Everyone can tell what happens next.
"Be careful," Parsee whispers intensely from where she slumps against the wall. "You have weapons, but he's crazy strong. Try to avoid him. Yukari kept looking at the desk, maybe there's an antidote for this drug. Toss me some if you can find it."
I nod silently, eyes locked with the madman intent on my death. I cannot lose this. While my life is at sake, the very minds and souls of the others are also at risk. I cannot afford to be defeated.
I shall not lose. This I swear.
I take one last look at Parsee, taking strength from the determination I see in her beautiful green eyes, and ready myself. As they say, it's go time.
Anyway, time for a re-do of the Rinnosuke fight. Big difference this time: Alfred is armed. If you have any suggestions for the guy, now is the time to put them forward. I'll start writing tomorrow sometime.
First of all, even if we're armed we should still snark the hell out of him. Snark is Alfred's greatest weapon.
Anyway.. Alfred lost the axe, but he still has a spear and all the other stuff, he should use it as his main physical weapon to keep his distance from Rinnosuke.
If possible, we should get Parsee back in the fight too, but we'd need some way of distracting Rinnosuke first. Digging through the remains of his desk isn't exactly easy while simultaneously keeping him away.
We could try throwing something at the arch and see what happens, or just get Rinnosuke to gloat about it some more. If the arch is "active" and the things are teleported to Rinnosuke's shop, we could throw a molotov through there. It's probably a pretty nice distraction if his home is on fire.
If we get the chance, we could stab one of our glass knives into some important cable somewhere. (Probably one of the cables connected to Yukari.) I doubt we have the time to cut through it properly, but this is sensitive machinery, even just disrupting the flow through the cables should do quite a lot.
Glass is an electric insulator, so there's very low risk to Alfred compared to if he uses, say, a metal knife. And glass being an insulator, if the knife sticks that'll be almost as good as if we manage to sever the cable completely. (I'm assuming the cables are rather thick, because otherwise we could easily just chop through them instead.)
>>54455 Fucking hell man, I'm exactly at that very spot, having just ragequitted at the sorcerer that shoots you from above into that very same pendulum axe that kicks you to the cliff. Don't remind me of that humiliation.
How the hell do you even get on that axe, anyway? Sorry for my n00bness.
All right. When I consider the situation, things don't look that good. Rinnosuke is clearly a great deal stronger than I am. You don't need to be brilliant to see that. He's also got a very deadly look in his eye, making it clear that my death is at the top of his list of priorities. Rinnosuke is a total sociopath, he wants me dead, and he may as well have arms ending in sledgehammers.
Good news: I have weapons.
Bad news: They're mostly makeshift weapons, and I don't think that they'll do much against someone with his strength, Furthermore, I am completely alone. I don't think that Parsee will be of much help, given how slow her movements are.
Good news: this man clearly has an ego the size of a mountain. And me? I'm a butler. I practically specialize in tearing down egos.
Time to get to work. Carefully.
Rinnosuke takes a another step towards me, eyes smoldering with hate and hands bunching into white-knuckled fists. Heart pounding in my chest, I nonetheless manage to appear calm as I pull out and extend my spear. The half-youkai stares at it in disbelief. "Are you joking?" he scoffs, "You're using some cobbled-together weapon against ME?"
"It's about what I feel you deserve," I say simply. Rinnosuke snarls at this and leaps forward, seizing the end of my spear and crushing it in his hand. He pulls it out of my hands and tosses it away before seizing me by my hunting vest and hurling me across the room into the kitchenette.
It's more than a little bit painful.
"Afred!" Parsee calls out, frightened. Rinnosuke himself leers at me, clearly pleased at being able to show off his great strength. And therein lies the key. Yes, this man is incredibly dangerous to me, and if I give any sign of the fear currently gripping my heart, he's won. I will not give him that satisfaction.
Instead, I pick up a particularly large cleaver from the kitchenette, pondering Rinnosuke over the edge of its blade. He pauses, waiting to see what I'll do. I consider him carefully for a long moment, long enough for my muscles to stop aching and my breath to return to normal. "...Yes, that's about what I was expecting," I say out loud.
"Absolute terror?" Rinnosuke chuckles.
"No," I reply, and set the cleaver down. "Utter disappointment."
He stares at me blankly for a moment. "...Sorry?" the half-youkai asks me, looking startled.
I sigh and stand up. "This whole thing. You had an amazing set-up, I have to admit. A secret network of tunnels, surveillance equipment, the whole nine yards. You were in the perfect position to do whatever the hell you wanted, and we simply wouldn't have been able to stop you." I stare at him. "But when it came to the execution, you were a total amateur."
Rinnosuke flinches as though slapped, and he charges me, fist raised high. At the last moment I leap out of the way, as his fist crushes the kitchenette.
Goddamn but he's strong.
Okay. Stay calm. Don't panic.
"That's exactly what I mean," I tell him simply.
"Me almost crushing your skull is a disappointment?" Rinnosuke spits at me, "Because I can correct that-"
"No," I interrupt him in a flat tone. I cross my arms, deliberately not reaching for any of my weapons. "You had the opportunity to act like a complete mastermind. You wound up showing yourself to be a total fool. And at the very end, you choose to act like an angry gorilla. THAT is what I find disappointing." I sigh again. "Please, if you're going to try and kill me, at least ACT competent, will you."
Rinnosuke whirls on me, and I pull out the hunting knife, its edge gleaming in the light. There is no sound in the room other than the hum of the generator; everyone is transfixed by our encounter. Rinnosuke's eyes are focused on the blade; he obviously sees it as the main threat here. I take a step away from him, two, three. Now I'm standing next to the shattered remains of the desk.
Then, with slow and deliberate motions, I put the knife away.
Rinnosuke watches, confused, as I toe around the remains of the wooden construct. "Such a waste," I note.
He shrugs. "It's just a desk. I can get another."
"Why did you destroy it?"
"I told you, I can just get another-"
"No." I interrupt him again, causing him to growl. He's about to lunge again. Have to stop him, make him think. "Why did you destroy this desk? What was the point? For someone who wants to go on about how he's in control, you were very quick to destroy it. Why?"
Rinnosuke actually hesitates, and I continue nosing around the shattered remains, near the drawers. "You made me angry," he said simply, "And I didn't appreciate that. People shouldn't make me angry, Alfred, especially when-"
"Enough," I say coldly, and Rinnosuke actually knashes his teeth together in anger. "Stop this at once. I want to make this clear, Mister Morichika. You do not impress me." There! Next to a few spare darts, a pair of bottles, one empty, one full. The full bottle is much smaller, and is clearly labelled as an antidote. I sigh deeply and look up at Rinnosuke, then glance over at Parsee, holding her gaze just until her eyes widen ever so slightly. "Do you have to deal with this sort of thing in the underground?" I ask her.
"All the time," she sighs. "There's always a bunch of dumb brutes who like to show off how tough they are, and it's always a pain in the-"
Rinnosuke lunges at me, and kicks me in the stomach, knocking the wind out of me and launching me across the room. Should have seen that one coming.
Fuck, but this guy's strong!
"Alfred!" Parsee cries out, but it's clearly all for show. At least to me. With Rinnosuke distracted, she slowly and painfully begins to push her way across the ground, trying to get to the desk. I have to keep his attention.
Which I clearly have, given by how the man suddenly looms over me and picks me up by the vest, holding me high in the air above him. Fighting down panic, I lock eyes with him as I finally regain my breath. His face is a mask of barely controlled rage. "You know, that is enough. I have you right where I want you, and you still refuse to take me seriously? That is very... annoying, Mister Westcastle."
I stare back down at him with a dispassionate look. "You're doing it again," I tell him.
"Doing what?!" he demands.
"Proving yourself to be a complete and utter fool," I reply.
With a snarl of utter outrage, Rinnosuke hurls me across the room, causing me to slam against the wall. I barely manage to maintain my footing. "Explain to me how I look the fool when I have complete and utter control of the situation!" he shouts, stalking towards me. It's a real question. He honestly doesn't know how I can remain so cold and blase when I'm supposed to be cringing before his might. Time to give him what he wants. An answer.
"Correction: you HAD control," I say icily. He actually pauses mid-stride, staring at me blankly. I begin to creep along the wall, stroking one of my weapons meaningfully but not going for it. Have to keep his attention."You very much had control at the start of the night, It's true. You started to lose control very quickly, however. Starting with when you decided to play your game. Did you not just admit that capturing Iku gave you problems? And she was only your second capture. With things going wrong so early, how can you claim to have had control?"
Rinnosuke actually pauses and looks uncertain, his confidence faltering in the face of his mistakes. "...It doesn't matter, " he says at last, "I still grabbed her in the end. And I certainly gave you a run for your money afterwards, now didn't I?"
"That's the point," I tell him coldly, "You gave us a 'run for our money.' If you were in control, why was there a competition to begin with? Why were we able to resist at all, when you supposedly had everything just as you wanted it? Why did you have to use guests as projectile weapons," Lyrica snorts at this, "when we were supposedly helpless before you?"
"...It doesn't matter!" Rinnosuke shouts after a moment's hesitation, "In the end, everyone is still here, and you can only babble on, hoping I'll spare your life for another moment." Which is true, thanks to his desperate desire to have everyone see him as a genius. Thank you ever so kindly, egotism.
Parsee has managed to slide over to the desk, and is carefully reaching for the bottles. Got to keep him talking. I reach the axe which was knocked out of my hand earlier... and very deliberately step over it, instead taking a step towards the man who has circled me this whole time. Rinnosuke's eyes flash to the axe, then back to my face as he frowns in confusion.
"Fine," I say, "Leaving behind your awful execution of a brilliant setup- which you needed help for, by the way- let's get to the heart of the matter: now what?"
He rolls his eyes. "Are you dense, Mister Westcastle? I am going to kill you, and I will-"
"No," I interrupt yet again. His eyes flash, and he nearly leaps at me again. Got to talk fast. "Obviously, your plan is to kill me and then set yourself up as a king or whatever. But say you kill me. Then what?"
He blinks, now honestly confused. "I don't follow."
Parsee is fiddling with one of the bottles now. I have his attention. I sigh heavily, not taking my eyes off of him. "Allow me to be clear," I tell him evenly. "It's quite obvious at this point that I was the fly in your ointment, so to speak. Without my presence, things may very well have gone precisely as you hoped. Yet all it took was one man who wouldn't be frightened by the loss of powers he never had in the first place to turn your lovely, well-thought-out plan into a near-debacle. Fine. Let's leave aside the question as to why you were so damned arrogant as to make such a misstep and move on to another, more pertinent question." I lean forward and fix Rinnosuke with my gaze. "What do you do when the others get here?"
Rinnosuke is utterly baffled now. "What?!"
I continue to speak. "I alone was almost your ruin," I continue. "What happens when Eric and Sylvia get here? Because knowing them, they were awake as soon as the storm started, shouting into the phones to get dump trucks full of dirt up here to restore the road so that they can attend to their guests. Did you honestly believe the staff would just give up and call the whole thing a wash? They'll be here within the hour, I'll bet. And then they'll see the mess. Within ninety minutes, every police officer in the state will be here. What do you do then?"
I don't give him time to think. Got to keep up the pressure. "Do you run back home?" I press him. "Do you leave everyone here? Of course not, you have to take them with you. Where do you hide them? Where do you go? And furthermore, many of these women have powerful friends, and resources who will miss them. What do you do when they come looking? How long until they find you? What then?"
Yukari takes this moment to speak up, watching our showdown with fascination. "Ran, my servant, will already know that something is wrong through my bond with her," she says calmly. "And Eiki's colleagues will definitely come searching for her. Do you honestly seek to defy the entirety of the celestial courts? Do you think you can?"
Rinnsosuke remains silent, face bearing a troubled expression. He licks his lips and his eyes move rapidly in their sockets. From time to time, he glances over at his arch, then at the rest of the guests, then back at the ground. He's trying to think. I can't let him.
"You don't know, do you?" I ask in a cold voice. "You never really thought this through beyond kidnapping powerful women. And now here you are, with a prize you cannot keep, facing consequences that you cannot escape from. You declared yourself a victor in your note, Mister Morichika. Allow me to congratulate you." I give him a slow, mocking round of applause. "Enjoy your 'victory.' Enjoy it until the servants and colleagues of those you harmed come to exact retribution on your hide. I suggest running, you might last twenty-four hours then. Maybe."
The sudden twist of hate in Rinnosuke's face makes it quite clear that my last mocking comment was a bit too much. In a flash he is upon me, hand like a crushing vice around my neck, lifting me into the air. "There is one thing I can do for myself," he hisses at me, "I can silence your aggravating tongue once and for all."
I glare down at him, an icy calm coming over me. With quick movements, I pull out a glass dagger in each hand and stab downward. His left arm catches one of my wrists. His right arm is otherwise preoccupied, and my dagger stabs hard into his arm. Rinnosuke shouts out in pain, but does not release me. I twist the dagger in his flesh, but his grip only grows tighter. He glares up at me, eyes tearing up with pain.
Yet his gaze is only filled with death.
And it is at that moment that Parsee brings her axe down on his shoulder. "LET GO OF MY MAN, FUCKER!!!" she screams. Screaming in agony, Rinnosuke drops me, scrambling frantically for the axe blade stuck is his shoulder. With her free hand, Parsee jabs a glass dagger of her own into his back, causing him to fall to his knees.
I take my chance. In one rapid movement, I pull out the hunting knife, slam it into his stomach, twist, and pull. The wound it makes is horrific. Rinnosuke's eyes go wide as his face goes pale, and he clutches at the wound desperately. Choking, unable to speak through the pain, Rinnosuke keels over to the side, curling up into a ball in a slowly spreading pool of his own blood.
I breathe heavily, adrenaline making my heart beat a mile a minute. I look up at Parsee, who scowls down at Rinnosuke spitefully. The bridge youkai then looks down at me, concern etched into her features. "You okay, Alf?" She holds a hand out to me.
I take the hand and let her pull me to my feet. "You certainly... took your... sweet time," I get out, panting heavily.
"Hey, I had to get at that antidote. Give me a break!" She protests. I just laugh, allowing all of the fear and panic to flow out of my system. Parsee just smiles and places a protective hand on my shoulder. After a moment, I manage to get my breath back in full.
Rinnosuke is still crumpled on the ground, broken and immobile, and the rest of the guests are cheering their approval. It looks like we've won. This horrible night is finally over.
Last time we spared him. Unfortunately we never got to know what happened to him after the ordeal because we died and Keymaster didn't bother to make an epilogue with the rest of the cast. Let's try killing him now for good. For a change.
[x] No, killing him now is just being too merciful to him. We can disable him and let the ladies decide his fate.
-[x] We have a proper judge right here, so...
[x]And don't lower your guard, The Beast may still be lingering around, and you sure don't want to be caught off guard.
>>54528 here, and I just thought of something to tack on to my vote.
[X] Wait, wait, wait a moment, Yukari mentioned something about how Rinnosuke caught the attention of something that hovered in the spaces. With her powers weakened... Just in case, keep your damn guard up.
Hopefully that doesn't count as metagaming, since Yukari talked about it.
[x] Spare the bastard, but make sure he can't retaliate while you free the ladies.
I don't remember where exactly I got it from, but I vaguely remember a speech along the lines of "I won't kill you. I will do all in my power to make sure that you survive to stand trial for all that you've done" blah blah blah "death would be letting you take the easy way out" yada yada yada, and so on.
So yeah, that.
[x] Back of the neck
[X] Wait, wait, wait a moment, Yukari mentioned something about how Rinnosuke caught the attention of something that hovered in the spaces. With her powers weakened... Just in case, keep your damn guard up.
For a long moment, I stare down at Rinnosuke's crumpled body. He looks to be out of the fight, but how can I know that for certain? As a half-youkai, he's obviously far tougher than a bog-standard human. How do I know that he won't just get back up and attack us again?
I look down at my hunting knife and stroke it thoughtfully. It wouldn't be hard to end this, really. Just a simple stab to the back of the neck. Sever the brain stem, let the bastard die. It would be so damn easy.
It's Parsee who shakes me out of my dark thoughts, eyes boring into mine with compassion and concern. "Don't even think about it," she says quietly.
"Why not? I growl, my voice thick with my anger. "After all of the shit he's pulled on all of us...!"
"I didn't say I don't think he should die," Parsee tells me, her voice grim. "I'm saying I don't want you to get your hands dirty. I'll do it. I've been there before. What's one more stain on my record, huh?" She raises her axe meaningfully and gives Rinnosuke a glacial stare. He cringes helplessly below her.
"One more stain is a whole lot, Miss Mizuhashi," Eiki says quietly. The two of us turn to regard the Yama, still shackled to the wall, regarding us with a solemn expression. "He is helpless right now. He can't heal from wounds like those so easily. Taking his life will make you nothing more than cold-blooded murderers. His crimes are already massive; don't let him drag you down to his level."
Parsee works her jaw, and the two of us share a look. After a moment of silent communication, we sigh. She's right, of course. Killing him would make us no better than Rinnosuke, and I won't let him drag me down to his level. Besides, death would be too easy for him. He needs to face consequences for his actions in life as well as death.
Instead, I kneel down and roughly go through his clothes, ignoring Rinnosuke's grunts of pain. After a moment, I find a set of keys tied to his belt. My prize obtained, I take a moment to stare down at him icily, meeting his weak gaze with my own. Then I turn my back on him without another word. I've had more than enough of this man. Parsee keeps on eye on him in my stead.
Walking up to Yukari, I catch the look of desperate hope in her eyes. No reason to drag this out. After a moment's hesitation, I first undo the latches keeping the peculiar helmet on her head and tug it off. She groans with relief as I do so. Next up comes the bizarre harness strapped to her back, and finally the shackles holding her in place. Released, Yukari staggers forward, rubbing her wrists. The youkai woman gives me a grateful look.
"Thank you, Alfred," Yukari says to me, then smiles. "I always had absolute faith in Pleasant Meadows' excellent service."
I bow politely. "Always at your service, Madam. Now, about the others..." I start towards them, but Yukari lays a hand on my shoulder.
"No need," she tells me, "With the system deactivated, everyone's powers should be back now." The guests still strapped to the wall blink, then glance at each other.
Suika is the first to react... by tearing her bonds out of the wall, then snapping them off like they were made of cardboard. "Oh yeah! I'm back, baby!" the Oni cheers.
Eiki is the next to release herself by simply glaring at her bonds, which explode into a fine dust. Lyrica simply passes through her bonds as thought they simply weren't there. Poltergeist, and all. These three manage to release the others, and soon everyone is standing around, shaking their heads, and visibly relieved that the nightmare has passed. The helmets wind up smashed to smithereens, not that I can blame the ladies for this action.
I do notice Hina walking away from the group, quietly, while Hatate goes after her with a sad expression on her face. Eiki just leans against the wall with a confused expression, blinking at the air as she rubs her head.
Parsee takes one last look at Rinnosuke before walking over to me, a gentle smile on her face. The two of us stand together silently for a moment, smiling. "I'd give you a hug, but given all of the sharp objects that we're carrying, that could be dangerous for us both," I say idly.
Parsee giggles in response. "Yeah. So I'll do this, instead." And then she kisses me again. It's better than the last one, gentler, with none of the desperation her lips held previously. Instead, there is the distinct sense of triumph, and relaxation after a job well done. Parsee breaks the kiss and steps back, desperately trying not to look away in embarrassment. I reach up and gently stroke her cheek, the youkai woman placing her hand over my own in response.
Sadly, our moment is shattered by Kasen's voice. "So, what do we do with him?"
Parsee and I glance over to where the rest of the guests are gathered around the bleeding Rinnosuke, glaring at him icily. The shopkeeper himself has a look of absolute terror on his face. Well, that explains why we haven't been getting any wolf whistles.
"I'm going to send him to Eirin," Yukari decides finally. She raises one of her hands, and a strange sort of... tear... opens up in the air, bounded by ribbons of all things. She reaches in, pulling out a paper and pen, and writes out a short note which she then slaps onto Rinnosuke's chest. Yukari smiles icily at her former captor. "Don't worry. That note explains everything to Eirin. She'll patch you up, and keep you nice and safe in the hospital until we're ready to deal with you." Her smile becomes glacial. "And rest assured, we WILL be dealing with you. Later." With a sharp gesture, another one of those tears opens up beneath Rinnosuke, and he falls in with a look of blind dread on his face. As he falls, I notice that the interior of the portal is a swirling purple-back haze, with a large number of purple eyes floating around. Huh.
In any case, as soon as Rinnosuke disappears, Yukari slumps in obvious exhaustion. "What a day," the blonde woman sighs.
Something occurs to me at once. "Yukari, you mentioned earlier that Rinnosuke had gotten the attention of something, didn't you?" I speak quickly, remembering that moment clearly. "Are you feeling anything now? If there is actually something hovering in those 'gaps' of yours, perhaps you should keep your guard up."
Yukari blinks at my words, and Eiki's eyes get very wide before she looks at Yukari sharply. "Is that true?!" The Yama demands, her voice agitated.
Yukari stares down at her gap and frowns. "Well, I can tell that Rinnosuke made it to Eientei without a problem. As for what I sensed..." She stares at her gap for a long moment. Frowns. Then turns very pale. "Uh-oh."
Iku gapes at her. "Uh-oh? Yukari, this is not the time or place for an uh-oh!"
"Well, it's not really my choice," Yukari responds, her voice agitated. "Come one, we need to get out of here, pronto!" She begins marching quickly towards the exit, her gait sure and strong... for all of three steps. Then she collapses to her knees. "Dammit!"
I rush to her side to aid her. "What are we dealing with?"
Yukari glances back at her gap, which is now starting to twist and convulse strangely. "There are things in the spaces between worlds that I exploit. Things without names. Things that even the gods shudder to think of. And that idiot, Rinnosuke, has been playing fast and loose with the fundamental laws of reality all night long! He got the attention of something, and all of the reality twisting has weakened the walls between worlds!"
I...can't even describe it. There is s sound, but my ears refuse to process what it sounds like. First it sounds like a scream, then glass scraping against a chalkboard, and then a high-pitched whistle. It sounds like there's a rhythm, but maybe not. Then again... I shake my head as the sound turns into a low rumble. What in hell?!
"I can't fight it," Eiki says, her voice nervous. She shakes her head rubs her temples in sudden confusion. "I... if I was at full strength, that would be something, but that machine still has me scattered... I can't access my full strength..."
That horrible, horrible sound again. The gap is growing. I... think I can see something moving inside of it. "We have to go now," I tell the others.
"Too late," Yukari says grimly. "That thing is coming now, and it won't stop!" She stares into the gap, her face a mask of determination.
"Then what the hell can we do about it?!" Parsee demands, her voice on the edge of desperation. Within the gap, I can finally see something moving, something hazy and black that my mind seems unable to process properly. It's like my mind won't let me see what is in there, just giving me a murky image instead.
"...Who here can move about without their heads spinning?" Yukari asks slowly. Parsee and I hold up our hands. "That's what I was afraid of," she sighs.
"What are you asking us to do?" I ask her.
"I can force it back to where it came from," Yukari tells me, "Especially if Eiki helps me. We can hold it back just a bit, and ultimately cast it back to the spaces from whence it came. However, that's going to take all of our concentration. Someone is going to have to fight it, swipe back its efforts to crawl into this world, at least until we can seal the rift. Once we do, it will rapidly fall away into the interworld currents.
"You want us to FUCKING FIGHT THAT THING?!" Parsee shrieks, disbelieving. The horrible sound come from the wide gap once more, the hazy tendrils seeming to get closer.
"Just the appendages that it tries to get into this world," Yukari corrects her. "If you can fight those away as they emerge from the gap, then Eiki and I can seal it away again." She hesitates. "Unfortunately, there is no other choice. We simply can't run away fast enough at this point. Thank Rinnosuke for that one."
Parsee and I stare at each other in disbelieving horror, then slowly turn to face Yukari's gap. It's slowly, ever so slowly, starting to close again, but what lurks inside is getting ever closer. I can't even make out what it's supposed to be. But somehow, I feel that this is a mercy. Behind us, Eiki puts her hands on Yukari's shoulders, and the two stare intently into the gap. Wordlessly, Parsee hefts her axe and hovers slightly into the air.
Looks like there's one last hurrah to get through.
You are now fighting The Beast, a creature from the depths of Yukari's gaps. Your job, along with Parsee, is to hack away at any of the tendrils that it sends into this world, just long enough for Yukari and Eiki to seal it away again. Good luck.
[x]Ready the hatchet, axe is backup. Stay mobile, and hit fast. Your goal is to delay it, not to kill it.
-[X] If it gets too dangerous or starts pushing though too fast, light to molotovs. Aim for the floor under the gap.
Property can be replaced or repaired. Lives can't. Do whatever we have to do to protect the guests.
[x]Ready the hatchet, axe is backup. Stay mobile, and hit fast. Your goal is to delay it, not to kill it.
-[X] If it gets too dangerous or starts pushing though too fast, light to molotovs. Aim for the floor under the gap.
Parsee and Alfred should positions themselves at each sides of the gap, not getting in each other's way and maximizing harassment.
[x]Ready the hatchet, axe is backup. Stay mobile, and hit fast. Your goal is to delay it, not to kill it.
-[X] If it gets too dangerous or starts pushing though too fast, light the molotovs. Aim for the floor under the gap.
--[X] Also, if it comes to it, remind Parsee she can duplicate herself if she somehow forgets in the heat of the moment.
I think the last one would be a given, but I figure I might as well toss it in anyway.
>>54575 Eh, considering this thing is basically a shoggoth, I don't think there's really any chance of reasoning with it.
Well, here's my take on how to deal with this battle.
Wall of text incoming...
First of all:
[X] Anyone not in any condition to fight, get out of the room.
[X] Kill it with fire!
Those who are feeling better (Suika, Yumeko and Lyrica, most likely, judging by least time spent in the machine) should help the most traumatized ones. (Hatate, Iku and Hina, chosen by most time spent in the machine.)
Protecting Yukari and Eiki is our top priority, I don't know how close they have to be to the creature to send it back, but hopefully they can at least step outside the door. That way we can give the others a bunch of knives at least and have them guard the door, just in case. They don't need to move around much for that, so any dizzyness or nausea shouldn't be a major problem.
They're a secondary defense anyway.
I think it might be a good idea for Alfred to take the spear and keep the monster at bay while Parsee arms the others. She has (almost) all the proper knives anyway.
Also, anyone with a power that could in any way be useful should attempt to use it, even if they are too unsteady on their feet to actually fight.
They can lie down, if they have to, but every little edge we can get in the fight helps.
Yukari and Eiki: Busy banishing the beast, no-go.
Suika: Maybe she can manipulate the density of the flames/oxygen in the air around them to make it burn better or more controlled, or something.
Hatate: Probably a no-go, considering she's been here the longest except for Yukari. Besides, taking a long distance photo of this thing probably won't help much anyway.
Hina: Not likely, but if she is well enough to try to absorb misfortune from the others, she should do so. At the very least it should probably make people feel better, I think, maybe?
Iku: Been in the machine second longest (again, except for Yukari, but she had all those IVs to keep her going), so not likely. Also, weather control isn't likely to help us much in a basement.
Yumeko: Her powers aren't really very well defined afaik, (and she has not been shown to have any real powers in this story anyway) so she should probably just focus on making sure everyone else is safe(ish) by guarding the door.
Kasen: Not sure if she has any apliccable powers so I'm gonna say: guard door with Yumeko.
Lyrica: Again, not sure if her powers are really that applicable to this fight -> Door guard.
That gives us at least three door guards, more than enough. So one of them can tend to the others while the other two guard the door.
As for the tactics against the monster:
Set fire to the area around the portal, and because it's a fuel fire it will drip/run down into the portal too since it should be on the floor. (It appeared under a prone Rinnosuke.)
If the floor around the portal is on fire, the creature is probably in less of a hurry to enter, and we can use Parsee's spear to keep it contained to the burning area.
If the fire starts dying out then, well, that's what the other two bottles are for.
Hopefully the fire won't spread too fast, since a lot of the burning gasoline should run down into the portal. We could even throw a bottle at the ceiling above the portal to make sure that we get a bunch of burning gasoline in there.
We can worry about containing the fire after the beast has been dealt with. Worst case scenario, just have Yukari seal off the cellar and let it burn out, claiming it was an electrical error due to the thunderstorm or something (there are a shitload of cables and stuff in these tunnels, after all) and cash in on the, no doubt massive, insurance this place has to rebuild it.
Didn't see >>54586 before I posted so adding:
[X] Remind Parsee that she can duplicate herself.
to my vote.
Also, if Parsee can duplicate herself, can she also duplicate items she's holding?
Having an extra spear would be nice. That way she can duplicate herself and we get two spears to use to keep the monster itself at bay, while Alfred uses the hatchet/axe to chop at any sneaky limbs that might stretch out too far.
[x] Lets try reasoning with it like civilized beings first.
Why does everyone automatically assume that the eldritch horror is a chaotic homicidal maniac? That's just prejudiced. Its probably just as confused about us as we are of it. Maybe its just curious and wants to investigate this crazy Euclidean world of ours. We can throw him out of our dimension AFTER he proves to be an unruly guest.
[x]Ready the hatchet, axe is backup. Stay mobile, and hit fast. Your goal is to delay it, not to kill it.
-[X] If it gets too dangerous or starts pushing though too fast, light to molotovs. Aim for the floor under the gap.
[x]Ready the hatchet, axe is backup. Stay mobile, and hit fast. Your goal is to delay it, not to kill it.
-[X] If it gets too dangerous or starts pushing though too fast, light to molotovs. Aim for the floor under the gap.
>>54614 Enough. The Beast is made of Hunger, Toxin, and Corruption. It already murdered Alfred once, and Eiki sent it to hell without a second thought. It is not here to make friends, you loopy dumbfuck.
[X] Anyone not in any condition to fight, get out of the room.
[x] Try to reason with the thing, but be on guard.
-[x] "We just want to leave. Tell us what you want or write it on a wall but don't hurt us."
-[x] Ask Parsee if she can sense any jealousy from the thing.
[x] However, if the thing grabs at anyone then whack away at the tentacles.
-[x] Follow strategy outlined here: >>54588
>>54621 I've read enough mythos to almost want to save a molotov to chuck in the library once we're done here, just in case of books.
Which is why I strongly discourage the idea of trying to open up a dialogue with a thing that our mind even refuses to look at, because it's very shape is enough for us to instinctively refuse it. Imagine what could happen if we tried to understand it.
>>54643 Well, that's convenient. Nah, just kidding, I believe you. If that's the case then I take back the spoilered parts. My apologies for sounding rude.
But the first part still stands. If you want to convince me to reason with an Eldritch Abomination then you should come up with better arguments than "just because it's lonely". Beings like that monster (if they can be called "beings" in the first place) simply do not care about social interactions. Nor I see any reason why this one in particular would listen to us. The Beast only wants to be free after spending eternities in the Gap World. Why should it listen to puny humans/youkai/ghosts like us?
"Three minutes," Yukari says to us as the other guests slip behind her and Eiki, "Just give us three minutes, and we'll have this wrapped up."
"Guests and their silly, extreme requests," I sigh, holding up my hatchet.
"I don't envy your job at all, Al," Parsee chuckles beside me. A brief moment of concentration crosses her face, and suddenly there are two Parsees. I like this development. They both turn to face me, but only one speaks. "So, game plan?"
"I don't suppose that your magic can do anything to it?"
"Only one way to find out." Raising their arms, the Parsees unless a wave of dazzling, colored bolts, all of which fly into the gap, and into the monster's body. They fizzle into weak puffs of sparks as they impact the haze that my mind cannot properly process. "Guess not. Not too surprising, I guess. Looks like we're going hand-to-hand with this SOB."
"I'm not terribly surprised, somehow," I mutter. The Beast howls yet again, and I realize that my heart is pounding in my chest. A cold chill runs up and down my spine, and a thick sweat stains my brow. I'm terrified. I'm about to go toe-to-toe with something that belongs in an H.P. Lovecraft novel, for God's sake! How the Hell am I supposed to do this?!
"Alfred," Parsee's gentle voice breaks into my panicked thoughts. I turn my head to see both clones smiling warmly at me. "Don't worry. I'm here. We'll be fine." Those soothing words are all that I need to hear.
Taking a deep breath, I clear my mind. "Stay mobile, and hit it fast. We're just here to contain it. I'll stick to my hatchet, you focus on moving around at hitting it hard and fast. Can you do that?" The Parsees grin and twirl their axes nimbly. Each figure has taken to carrying an axe in her main hand, and a hatchet in her off one. I envy that youkai strength. For some reason, Parsee's smile grows even broader as soon as I think that. Huh.
I take the center, while each Parsee floats to either side of me. And then there is no more time to strategize, or even think.
I can't really make it out. Call it a tentacle, for lack of a better word. But it reaches out of the gap and comes towards me. Shouting in instinctive revulsion, I lash out with my hatchet, blade sinking into the appendage with a sound like hacking into thick oil. The tentacle flails around, and I almost think that I can see some sort of ooze flying out of the appendage before dissolving into the air.
Somehow, I'm grateful that my perceptions are so murky with regards to this creature.
Parsee 1 shouts out a deafening battle-cry and charges into the fray as two more tentacles climb out of the rift. Her axe severs one completely, while her hatchet knocks another one clear back into the rift. You know what? I'm going to go ahead and envy her physical strength. Maybe it will help her out somewhat.
Parsee 2 stands her ground, meeting the approach of one tentacle with her hatchet before bringing her axe around and severing it cleanly off. The appendage dissolves into a black mist which seeps back into the gap. This Parsee seems calmer and more controlled than the battle-raging Parsee to my other side. Different aspects of her personality, maybe?
Two more tentacles lash out at me. I dodge quickly to my right, bringing my hatchet around and down in an overhand strike. As it connects, I quickly fish out my last glass knife and jab it into the other tentacle. A quick twist, and the blade shatters moments before both tentacles withdraw, nearly taking my hatchet with them.
Parsee 1 meets the strike of another tentacle with her axe, but this time it seems to stick to the tentacle. Hurriedly, the Parsee strikes it rapidly with her hatchet, freeing her axe and knocking the tentacle away. Then she barely jerks backward as another tentacle lashes out of the gap. She mostly avoids the blow, but the hatchet is knocked out of her hand and into the void between dimensions. With a snarl, Parsee 1 pulls out another glass dagger, readying herself for another attack.
Parsee 2 is holding ground admirably. She swipes the air in front of her expertly, cutting apart two tentacles with ease, then nimbly leaping to the side and dodging the strike of a third. Bringing her axe down, she severs the third, then hurriedly leaps back into a ready position as a fourth comes out of the gap, pointing at her.
Parsee 1 hacks through another tentacle, while Parsee 2 fends off her own. I myself duck two swipes from one of my own before catching the tentacle with a sideways chop of my hatchet. Quickly, I pull out my hunting knife and thrust it as hard as I can into the murky mass. The tentacle twitches and pulls back quickly, as the main creatures lets out a strange sort of... hiss? No, don't focus on the sound. I have bigger problems.
Namely, the half-dozen tentacles which have just risen out of the gap and are now all pointing at me. It seems that The Beast has realized where the weak link is in our line.
Immediately, I drop both weapons and pull out a molotov cocktail. Quickly, I light it one fire and hurl it at the intruding appendages. One of them grabs the bottle and seems to squeeze, and the next instant the tentacles have caught fire. One more second, and the fire surges in intensity, causing the tentacles to flail about wildly as a sort of... shriek... comes from within the gap. I hear a grunt of exertion behind me, and see Suika staring at the fire intensely as she leans against the wall. Is she doing something...?
My thoughts are interrupted as I hear an alarmed shout from Parsee 2. Whipping my head over to her, I see that she is surrounded by five of the hazy tentacles, which almost seem to have sharpened into deadly points. Gritting her teeth, she sets herself to receive their attack. I can already tell that her defenses won't be enough to block them all.
[X] Attack the tentacles closest to you that are going after Parsee 2.
-[X] Support the Parsees and be ready to jump in if either of them gets overwhelmed.
She can't handle all five so let's see if we can even the odds. In fact, let that be our entire purpose in this fight. By now Parsee should be physically stronger than us, both Parsees. We should play interference for the Parsee that looks like she's getting overwhelmed and leave the heavy cutting to them instead.
No, more than that, right now I have to help Parsee!
In one movement I reach down and grab my weapons before rushing over to Parsee 2's aid. My hunting knife sweeps around in an arc, digging deep into one of the tentacles before my hatchet slams down into another one with another of those sickening oily sounds. There is a screech that barely touches the edge of my consciousness, and two of the tentacles retreat.
The pressure suddenly off of her, Parsee 2 swings her axe in a wide arc, severing one tentacle and damaging another. She hovers nimbly over another tentacle before swinging down on it with a powerful blow. Wounded, that tentacle also retreats. With a brief moment of respite, my comrade looks up at me with a smile. "Thanks."
"My pleasure," I say, looking over my shoulder. Parsee 1 is holding her own just fine, lashing out in a berserker rage with an axe and baseball bat. "Rather intense, aren't you over there?"
Parsee 2 shrugs. "Different side of me. Here." She passes me her collapsible spear, and I take it before returning to my position, thrusting like mad at the tentacles that begin to emerge from the gap once more.
We haven't even been fighting for a two minutes, but my muscles ache and my lungs are starting to burn. Of course, there's the fact that I was banged up a little bit by fighting Rinnosuke, but still, the fact is that I am not built to be a combat machine. Oh, for a rifle of some sort.
Noticing that the flames are starting to die down a bit, I reach for a another molotov cocktail and light it before flinging it into the mass of tentacles once more. Yet again, Suika's powers come through, and the fire bursts into a massive conflagration that wrings an otherwordly scream from The Beast. It isn't enough.
To my left, Parsee 1 throws her baseball bat away, which appears to have been ruined by some sort of of black acid, or toxin or somesuch. Instead, the berserking youkai grabs her axe with both hand and swings it in wide arcs, chopping deeply into any tentacle that dares to come close to her.
To my right, Parsee 2 has started floating rapidly from side-to-side, diving down on the tentacles before rapidly evading and then starting all over again. It's working quite well; the monster seems to be having trouble locking on to her.
As for myself, I lock myself in position and desperately thrust at the tentacles coming my way. All it takes is one good strike with the sharp blade on the end, and the appendages reel away with seeming pain. That's fine. I'm not in this to win, or turn into a mighty warrior. It's about holding the line. About keeping this thing at bay until Yukari and Eiki can seal it away. Just hold position a little while, longer, Alfred.
Thrust, twist, retract.
Thrust, twist, retract.
Thrust, twist, FUCK!
One of the damn tentacles got a grip on my spear and twisted it out of my grasp! Okay, never mind, dig the hatchet out again and strike. I lash out with a double-handed blow and send a tentacle reeling away, then set my stance again and wait for one of the writhing mass to make a move.
Parsee 1 snarls as a tentacle wraps it self around her axe and digs out a long knife, which she then uses to saw through the tentacles and reclaim her knife. The knife does not survive this treatment, so she tosses it aside and severs another tentacle in a two-handed grip.
Parsee 2 loses her hatchet as well, and hovers back for a moment before reaching for her knives and flinging them overhand at the tentacles coming her way. The makeshift projectiles thud one after another into The Beast's tentacles, causing them to reel away and giving Parsee 2 a moment to catch her breath.
The tentacles writhe in pain in front of us. It's going well. The gap is getting smaller, and it can't get as many tentacles through now. I'm tiring, but we can close our line, make it tighter, more defended. Come one, Alfred, get that breath back! Fight!
"Less than a minute!" Yukari's voice shouts out.
See? Almost there. Just hang on.
Three tentacles inbound. A sideways swipe knocks one of them away, and is followed by an overhand swing that digs deep into one of them deeply. The tentacle jerks away a bit more sharply than I intended, leaving me off-balance and directly in the path of the third. It lashes out, I am off balance, can't dodge, I hear Parsee (maybe both of them) cry out in alarm, but I just can't get my footing fast enough-
WRAPPED AROUND MY ARM.
GOD, WHAT IS IT?!
SOMETHING... BEING PUMPED INTO ME.
[ ] Tentacle wrapped around Alfred's hatchet arm. Do something.
[X] Call out of help from Parsee.
-[X] Sever the arm if they won't make it.
We don't have time to get into a Quick Time Event with it since Yukari is almost done with her thing. Plus it's pumping something into Alfred and that is never good. Time to go full on Evil Dead and make Ash proud!
Depending on how far up the arm the tentacle has grabbed, we might have to cut it off at the shoulder.
There is no way we're going through the humerus, we have to sever it at a joint. Meaning either elbow or shoulder, we don't have the time nor the physical or mental fortitude to actually work our way through bone.
Also, the hatchet is better than an axe if we're cutting off our own arm. Easier to use a smaller tool so close to the body. If Parsee cuts it off, though, the axe is better. She can get a better swing and actually use the bigger axe to it's full advantage.
>>54689 Ash? While he is awesome, this isn't just a possessed hand. This is a demon that has grabbed our entire arm.
This picture is closer to our situation.
I.... I think my skin is turning black, and I can FEEL something being pumped into my body.
I don't want to die here.
I can't die here.
I'M NOT GOING TO FUCKING DIE HERE!
...Fuck, I don't have any choice, do I? The arm's as good as gone anyway, I can't let myself be taken with it. I look around me frantically. Parsee 2 is embroiled in a fight with the tentacles, but Parsee 1 appears to have a brief respite. With no other choice, I shout out to her in a voice that really is more like a shriek of fear and agony. Which, quite frankly, it is.
Parsee 1's head whips around in an instant. Her eyes go wide, very wide, and she rushes towards me, her face a mask of panic.
"C-CUT IT OFF!" I bellow out, holding my arms out straight. The flesh is starting to smoulder, and long black lines are beginning to form under the skin. It feels... oh God, it feels horrible. Like some sort of sludge is being forced under my skin, I want to throw up, I want to cry, I want it OFF OF ME.
Parsee 1 screeches to a halt beside me, eyes full of tears as she hesitates. I meet her eyes and try to communicate without speaking, letting her know my pain, my fear, my horror. Scrunching her face up with determination, Parsee 1 forces all of her hesitation away and brings her axe up for a chop. "Yumeko, get you ass over here!" she screams, and I hear the maid shout a reply from behind me.
My heart is pounding in my chest.
This is going to hurt.
Parsee 1 brings her axe down and-
Oh my god that hurts so bad.
I stagger away from Parsee 1 and the gap, watching as my arm and hatchet go flying away. Instinctively, I reach over and grasp the stump where my forearm used to be, trying frantically to fight through the pain, to focus, to keep pressure on the wound, to keep from bleeding to death, to do anything-
Something is pulled mercilessly tight around my upper arm, and I turn my head to see Yumeko, teeth gritted, knotting a piece of cloth from her dress around my arm, pulling it tight to stop the bloodflow. I want to thank her for saving my life, but words just won't come to me right now. My head feels so fuzzy...
I fall to me knees as Yumeko throws an arm around my shoulder, whispering to me intently, trying to get me to focus, to stay with her, to not pass out...
I think I might be going into shock.
Stay with it Alfred. Focus. Don't die now. Concentrate on something. Concentrate on Parsee. Both of her. Two Parsees sounds like a lot of fun, right? Just watch them at work and imagine how fun they could be on a nice warm beach.
"Thirty seconds, hang in there!" Yukari's voice screams out.
The Parsees are a blur of motion, dodging and weaving, attacking and dodging, absolutely tearing into The Beast's tentacles with a fury I hadn't seen previously. She's screaming in outrage, shouting insults in Japanese, practically frothing at the mouth.
"HE'S MINE, YOU FUCK! YOU HEAR ME?! MINE!!!"
...That's actually kinda touching, come to think of it. God, I wish I still had my arm.
There are too many tentacles for just the two of her. She needs help. Just a little bit of help. With my remaining, left arm, I pull out my final molotov cocktail. "Yumeko," I croak out, "My lighter. Set the rag on fire." Yumeko, bless her, doesn't argue. She's been watching me, she knows where my lighter is, and she digs it out in a heartbeat. A moment later, and the firebomb is lit.
I have just enough strength for this.
With a feral roar, I haul back and fling the cocktail at the mass of tentacles. The Parsees, in unison, pull back and allow the firey concoction to shatter against the appendages sticking out of the nearly closed gap. There is another FWOOMP of gasoline combusting, and the murky tendrils are enveloped in flame once more, lashing around in agony.
Then, they quiver in mid-air, as though fighting against something. They pull slowly back into the gap, then are jerked the rest of the way as though yanked by something. There is a hideous shriek that my mind thankfully cannot comprehend.
Then the gap seals, and all is silence.
I hear the Parsees breathe heavily as they stare wildly at where the gap used to be. The next moment, there is only one Parsee, and she lowers to the ground, dropping her axe to the side. Turning around, Parsee looks at me and screams, her eyes wide. "Alfred!"
"Ugh..." I try to respond, but it feels as though all of the strength has gone out of my body. I feel cold, and there is this sickly feeling in the pit of my stomach. In a flash, Parsee is next to me, gently taking me from Yumeko and cradling me in her arms.
"No baby, no baby, no..." she coos desperately, hands stroking my face in terror. "Come on, stay with me, all right? I just met you, you can't... you can't..." Parsees voice breaks and she looks up in a panic. "Yukari!"
The purple-clad blonde is next to me in an instant, face drawn with worry. "I'll get him to Eirin's as soon as I can, but I can't open a gap just yet. I have to wait until that thing is a safe distance away first..."
"How long will that take?!" Parsee wails, tears streaming down her face. Tears don't suit my love Parsee, and I want to reach up and stroke them away. Unfortunately, I just can't seem to move my arms. Arm, I mean. Singular.
"I don't know," Yukari says, her voice uncertain. "Damn that Rinnosuke, this is all his fault!"
"It's fading away," Eiki says, her face slipping into confusion. "I can feel it... and it's presence is just fading into nothingness... did we hurt it more than we thought?" Yukari doesn't answer, just staring off into the distance with an increasingly confused expression of her own.
I don't care about them, though. My eyes are fixed upon Parsee's face. Her mouth moves as she speaks to me, but I can't make out her words. Or much of her face at this point, really. Everything's going hazy. I can see her eyes, though. Her beautiful, shining green eyes.
I think that green stars must be this lovely. And I have two of them, staring at me.
Your eyes are as lovely as twin green stars, Parsee. That's what I should have told you.
I hope I get the chance
The sensation of movement.
Voices, arguing. Parsee, screaming. Yukari, sounding as cold as a glacier, and then reassuring.
Something going over my face.
[ ] Twin green stars.
[ ] A single, all-seeing eye.
[ ] Hugs~!
Af her current level, after being in the machine? Not so much.
She was struggling to control the density of the fire from the molotovs. To control the poison/corruption/god only knows that Alfred had been hit with, without affecting him as well... as I said, probably not.