Sipping her tea, Yukari watches the beauty of nature in fall. Using a gap as a chair, she looks over the ocean of orange trees "Ah this is the life." She relaxes until she finishes her green tea "Such a shame that this will end earlier than usual." She says frowning remembering the little incident with Yukako and remembering the pain delivered from Reimu from her fight with her. 'Did those needles have to be so big?' She sighs "Oh well." As she leans into the gap but stops when she felt something... off. Then she understands, an outsider is going through the Great Hakurei Barrier. What is strange though is that the outsider didn't leave a hole, which while thankful, confuses Yukari on how they didn't leave a mess. She opens a gap to view this outsider "Well would you look at that." she says to herself. This outsider is dressed like a hiker, brown coat, bright-blue jeans and a pack back probably filled with a variety of goodies. The outsider looks rather frail as if a simple breeze can knock them over! They are wearing small round glasses showing blue eyes. Black hair tied back to a pony-tail to keep it from blocking their view. They look around the area before walking as if already knowing where to go. "Well this is strange, how did they enter Gensokyo?" The way the outsider enter was like Gensokyo was just a part of the outside world. Perhaps a hole in the barrier? She gaps in the area after the outsider left looking for any holes, but found none. Yukari scans the area looking for her shikigami, but did not find her "Ran wasn't able to detect it... stupid fox." shaking her head sighing.
[x] Put the outsider on the other side of the Barrier, where they belong. -[x] Be sure to get their name, too. If this story ends up being a story that ends, you're too much of a troublemaker to be the only person in it.
As much as she appreciates how the outsider didn't leave a mess to clean, food is still food. Opening multiple gaps, Yukari let the scent of the human outsider cross the gaps for the more... hungry youkai's to sniff them out.
"Feeding time~" she sings, closing the gaps for the hunt to begin.
'Now it's time to find that stupid fox.' she frowns wondering why Ran still didn't appear yet.
Yukari opens a gap and enters it "Oh Ran~" she calls out to her shikigami in the red void filled with eyes
"Yes, Lady Yukari?" she hears the voice coming from behind. Turning around, she sees her nine-tails shikigami with her eyes closed already knowing that she made a mistake "There you are!" Yukari says as she pulls an umbrella out of a gap "I-Is there something you need?" she prepares for the accursed thing to land on her head.
"Care to open your eyes Ran? I have something to show you." Yukari orders pointing at an open gap. Ran opens her eyes to see an outsider being chased by a pack of youkai's "An outsider." she answers "Great! It's good to see that your eyes are still working." Yukari says cheerfully "Now tell me, where were you when the outsider appeared?" she asks now pointing the umbrella at her shikigami
"...I was looking for what was causing the disturbance in the barrier" Ran says closing her eyes again "Were you able to find it?" Yukari asks raising the umbrella above her "N-" before she could finish, the umbrella slams into her head "Ow!" Ran begins to rub her head trying to soothe the pain away "You had one job Ran and you messed up. This hurts me more then it hurts you." Yukari clenches her chest sniffing. Ran roll her eyes at her master's acting "Anyway! It's good to see that you are alright, it would be ashamed if one of my tools were broken." Yukari says "Now, we just have to find who or what let the outsider in unnoticed." She opens a gap back to where the outsider came from.
Before she exited, Ran calls out "Lady Yukari. This is not a normal outsider." catching her attention, she looks over to the gap her shikigami is looking to see what it is.
What Yukari saw got her curiosity. A youkai is actually defending the outsider as they run toward the Human village "I saw them putting their hand on the youkai and then this happened. What should do about them?" Ran asks as Yukari continues to watch this strange scene.
[ ] Have Ran investigate where the outsider came from while having Yukari question the outsider
[ ] Have Yukari investigate where the outsider came from, while Ran question the outsider
Yukari sighs "Question the outsider while I investigate where they came from, understand?" she says walking out of the void through a gap.
"Yes, Lady Yukari." Ran bows as her master closes the gap
Now all by herself, Ran observes the human who is now in a clearing laying on the ground catching there breath.
'From what I saw, their power works by touch by the hand.' Ran takes a deep breath
'As they touched the youkai, it attacks the other predators as if being controlled.' she breathes out fortifying her mind.
Ran left the void, making sure to keep some distance away from the outsider before talking to them.
The outsider looks up just as Ran appears, their eyes widen at her sight. A golden eyes woman with nine tails appearing in front of them. Where she appeared from they didn't know but knew anyway that this is a youkai, but the strangest thing about her is the kind smile she is wearing on her face.
"Greeting Outsider," Ran says bowing slightly
The Outsider cocks there head, but smiles back and wave after seeing her form of greeting understanding that.
"I'm sorry miss, but I don't know what you are saying." The Outsider shakes there head
"I see, how about now?" Ran asks this time in English leaving the human in awe
"Wow! Did you use a translation spell?" The Outsider says smiling, curiosity gleaming in their eyes
"No, I just know how to speak English." She chuckles as the Outsider's face turns red
"Oh," they say as they look at the ground
"As I was saying, greeting Outsider. I am Ran Yakumo and welcome to Gensokyo." Ran spreads her arm around the clearing.
"Hello Ms. Yakumo, my name is Jesse Jane Jackson! Or you could just call me 'J' for short." they bow similar to how Ran did it.
"For a human, you seem rather unfazed by this place Jesse." Ran says as she shows off her tails. Jesse tries to respond but is too distracted by the tails. There were in awe, like how a child would be the first time they saw a new animal.
"Um well, you see, I, well not me, but my parents told me a lot about this place." They say regaining focus
Ran stops shaking her tails after hearing this information "Oh? You're not alone then?"
Jesse smile falters for just a moment Ran notice it, but said nothing
"I am, I... just wanted to see this place." They fidget looking away from her
"May I ask how your parents know about this hidden place?" Ran walks closer to the Outsider
Jesse didn't respond looking at the floor. Ran could tell from how they act and the tone of their voice towards her is that they want to co-operate with her. All she needs to do is ask the right questions.
"I am sorry, but I don't know how they found this place," they say looking to her golden eyes
"Hmm, how about telling me how did they get here?" she asks just out of their hands reach
"...My parent told me, I can't tell anyone. I'm sorry." they say while bowing
Ran opens a gap behind her and Jesse preparing her tails to grab them
"Jesse Jane Jackson," Ran says catching their attention "Gensokyo is the home for a youkai such as myself." She says gesturing herself
"Now I want you to see what I see. Are you ready?" she asks and Jesse nods
"Excellent, as you know, Gensokyo is my home, it's not perfect, but it's still my home." Ran smiles as Jesse continues to nod
"But right in front of me is a stranger, someone who somehow got in my home without my permission or without me noticing something off." Jesse's eyes widen they were about to speak, but Ran raises a finger silencing them.
"You're not in trouble Jesse, I just want you to see it in my view," Ran says smiling
"...I'm sorry for making you worry like that Ms. Yakumo." Jesse bows again "I'm sure Mom and Dad would understand why I told you about them." they say convincing themselves
Ran bows as well "Thank you 'J'."
J breathes in "My Mom has the power to make 'roads' to other worlds you see, that's how I got here." they say
Ran closes her eyes nodding "I see, and how was she able to hide these roads from me?" she asks
"That's thanks to my Dad! He can make anything invisible!" J exclaims
Just as she is going to ask the next question, both of them heard a buzzing noise coming from a rustling bush behind J forcing Ran to close the gap that was behind them. A Saimyosho crawls out of a bush, its wings in tatter with half of its abdomen missing as well. If memory serves correctly, it is the same youkai Ran saw J touch while they were hiding from the pack of youkai. J gasps and runs towards the wasp youkai catching Ran by surprise.
"Y-you'r- oh god..." J tries to finish their sentence but is too shocked at the blood trail the youkai left behind.
"F-Fooooddd" The wasp wheezed out, J quickly drop there back bag and opens it to pull out a piece of raw steak giving it to the youkai.
The Saimyosho devours the slab of meat and soon falls asleep.
"I-is it...?" J shakes the wasp, unable to tell that it is just sleeping
"It's alive, although it will take a while for it to completely recover." Ran answers
J looks to Ran their eyes filled with hope "Really? Ran nods
"...I should get going, the other youkai could come any minute." J says closing there pack back "Is there anything else you would like to know before I go?"
This is odd, it looks like you're often referring to one person using plural ("they" instead of "he/she" ). Also, I'd like some clarification on the purpose of the Yakumo faction in this story, is it just about ensuring the Border's integrity ? It's important to make that kind of things clear if you're not granting your readers any directions nor pre-made options.
"Where can I find you after you leave Gensokyo?" Ran asks, now curious about J's family history and how they obtain such powers.
"...Well actually, to be honest. I wasn't keeping track where I was running." J starts "And I don't know where the road is at." J says looking down fidgeting
"Oh, you poor thing." Ran chuckles at J's misfortune
"This isn't funny! Now I have to wait at Human Villiage until my..." J stops as if remembering something
"J?" Ran asks
J shakes their head "Sorry, I was just thinking where the village is." their voice sounds shaky
"I see, do not worry J, I will guide you to the place." Ran snaps her finger opening a gap showing a village not too far off.
"Wow, you can make portals!?" J rushes toward the gap getting a closer look at it
"Indeed, would you like to try it?" Ran asks amuse of how giddy J is.
"Yes please!" J jumps through the portal with Ran following behind
The gap leads to a small hill that has an overhead view of the village that survives being surrounded by man-eating youkais. The village itself is rather small, but J could tell that it's bustling with life with people going to there job or just buying grocery.
J takes a breathes in, then breathes out "The air feels... fresher somehow."
"Do you live in a city?" Ran asks admiring the view of the village
"Yeah, born and raised in New York." J answers looking back to Ran
J turns towards Ran and bows
"Thank you for helping so much Ms. Yakumo. You probably saved my life!" J says in appreciation
"Think nothing about and just call me Ran please," Ran says smiling
"No problem! Actually, hold on a sec." J takes off their pack back and is fishing something out
"Here you go!" J pulls out a small container that smells delicious
"Food?" Ran asks taking the container from J's hand
"Yup, Mom told me how youkais love to eat, I'm saving cooked foods for older youkais who prefer something more then just raw meat, I know I would." J shrugs closing the pack back and put it back on.
"I see, thank you very much for the offer J..." Ran stops for a short moment, but continues "Although I must be going now." she says opening a gap
"Oh okay, I hope to see you again Ms. Yakumo!" J waves goodbye to Ran as she enters the gap
"Farewell Jesse, but before I leave, I have a question." Ran turns her back against the gap
"What is it?" J asks
"Do you plan on being kind to everyone you meet?" she asks, her smile gone and now with a neutral expression
"...Yes? I mean, I don't see why I shouldn't." J scratches the back of there head
"Understandable, although I will have to warn you, kindness will not always be the answer to every youkais you meet." Ran says before closing the gap, disappearing with it.
Now all by themselves, J sighs 'That's what I'm afraid of.'
They pull out a phone from their pocket looking at the front page 'But what's taking Mom and Dad so long to come back?'
J closes the phone putting it back in their pocket and begin their journey to the Human Villiage.
Where should they start searching after they enter the Human Villiage
 Search for specific places Mom and Dad usually like to go to.
Stepping down the hill, they found a dirt road leading to the 'Human Village' a somewhat silly name in their opinion.
As they enter the village, the first thing they notice is the shops. Well not quite shop more like stands that are selling different types of items. Jesse didn't really care what they were selling, they only care for where they are which seem to be a marketplace that also seems to be a social spot with how many benches there are for people to sit and eat with others. Theirs's even a bar, but right now it's closed.
The people themselves were eyeing the visitor, Jesse smiles, waves and continues to explore not bothering to talk to them due to the language barrier.
Reaching the end of the market area, they found a group of people facing a dragon statue wrap around a small pillar. The face shows absolute fury, but the most interesting about is it ever changing eye color going from grey, white, blue, and red. It eventually stops and stays on white. The group of disperses talking in their own language.
Jesse walks pass the Dragon statue following the road leading what seems to be the resident area. The house was unique to Jesse since they never seen front doors just being sliding doors. At the other side of the road were groups of kids going inside a building which Jesse assumes is a school.
Getting near the end of the resident area lead to further to parts of the forest, but the strangest thing they see is an old warehouse, its paint is peeling with dust clearly visible on the windows. Taking note of it, Jesse turns back to explore more of the village.
After a couple of minutes, Jesse began to see people with finer clothing, houses more luxurious then the previous houses they seen. In the noble area of the village, the roads were much cleaner and some of the houses were even two stories high although Jesse isn't that impress by the size of the building. All in all, it's just a more fancy resident area in Jesse's eyes. But interesting enough Jesse found a bookstore in the area.
'Guess reading is for the nobles only.' Jesse rolls their eye at the thought
After finishing there search, Jesse still didn't find their parents. They start thinking of what to do next.
 Visit the School, Mom and Dad love sharing knowledge.
 Wait till the bar is open, Mom and Dad always love trying different alcohols
 Visit the Bookstore, Perhaps the owner saw Mom and Dad?
 Settle down at the abandoned warehouse, this may take longer than expected...
'Mom and Dad love to share knowledge.' Jesse remembers fondly how their parents would home-school them. Jesse turns back to the resident area looking for the school again.
Getting closer to the school, Jesse begins to wonder how exactly they will talk to the teacher, if they are in the middle of class they have to wait until class is finish. Their thought, however, is interrupted by the sight of a strange looking woman standing in front of the school who seems to be looking for something.
This woman wore a blue dress with a red bow tied on her collar and a silly looking hat that to Jesse looks like a small lunch box. What is the strangest thing about her though is her hair though, silver for the most part, but at the very tip of her neatly come hair is blue
'I doubt that she's human, but she seems nice enough.' Jesse thought as they walk closer to her, they notice she has a worried look on her face.
"Excuse me miss, are you looking for something?" Jesse calls out
The Lady looks at them and says something, but it's in Japanese.
Jesse wishes they could just link minds with her, it would make things much easier, but they would need her trust to be able to enter her mind. Besides making a mind link with someone who doesn't trust them would cause... unwanted changes for everyone envolve.
"I... looking for... students." The Lady speaks again in English, but with some difficulty.
"You're looking for people to teach?" Jesse asks trying to make sure they understand her
She shakes her head and points to the window of the small school. To Jesse surprise, there were no students in the classroom, but they clearly remember there were kids entering the school.
"Your students are missing!" Jesse asks and the Teacher nods rapidly able to understand a bit of English.
While they are looking for their parents Jesse decides to postpone it to help this teacher look her missing students.
"I can help," Jesse says pointing to their eyes then pointing to the area hoping for to get the message.
She smiles and bows "Thank you!" she says
'She seems to trust me now, maybe I could link with her now. Then again I should be 100 percent sure and look for her students first just to be on the safe side.' Jesse thinks on what to do.
'Linking with her now would help make everything easier, but she might get scared off from the suddenness of the linking.'
'Nothing venture, nothing gain!' Jesse exclaims clenching their hand focusing on their desires and hope. Their hand begins to glow a soft warm light.
The glowing catches the teacher by surprise. They extend their hand towards her as if to shake it.
"Do you trust me?" Jesse asks looking directly into her eyes
She understands what they said, she looked at their young eyes filled with hope. She firmly nods and grabs the glowing hand
The world goes blank, then Keine wakes up from her desk. She looks across the room only to still see empty desks, but this time she hears children laughing.
'...Was it just a dream?' She asks herself
Keine stands up from her chair and walks to the door sliding it open to see that took her breath away. A playground is now in front of the school with all of her students playing in it.
"What a beautiful desire you have." a voice calls out from her side
She turns her head to see the child she was talking to on the bench.
"My name is Jesse Jane Jackson, you could call me J for short," they say smiling
"Where are we?" she asks
Keine looks around to see other villagers she saw before walking by smiling and wearing much finer clothing, but everything else looks different. The streets were made of concrete and the other building were so massive that they can touch the clouds.
"We're in our world, all our thoughts and desires are here," J says
"My power is to link minds together and create a world between them." They say waving towards two adults
"So it isn't real?" Keine frowns slightly saddened that it is all in her mind
"Nope, but we can make it real by first finding your students Miss." Jesse pats down on the empty space
She jolts "Oh! I am so sorry! I was just so caught of this place. My name is Keine Kamishirasawa, teacher and guardian of the Human Village." she bows
"It's nice to know you trust me Ms. Kamishirasawa, now then, can you tell me what happens?" Jesse stands up and bows back before sitting back down.
Keine sits down with Jesse "Well, during class, I went to the closet at the back of the classroom to get some material for today's assignment, but something strange happens."
Her grips on her dress tighten "I... felt something hit me from behind multiple time."
"You sound unsure about it." Jesse points out
She nods "I felt the pain, but I didn't hear or even feel the object hitting my head... It was like getting a massive migraine from nowhere." Keine massages the back of her head.
Jesse begins to scratch their chin "Whatever it was, it somehow got past the students without getting spotted and sneak into the closet without a sound."
"Correct. When I woke up, all of my students were... gone." Keine couldn't help but look back at the playground seeing her 'students' playing to their heart's content
"Maybe they ran?" Jesse suggests, but Keine shrugs
"Perhaps, all I can do now is to search for them," she says determine to fulfill it
"Since there little kids, I think the best place to look for them is back at their home," Jesse says
Keine nods in agreement "Then should we get going then?" she says standing up
Jesse stands up as well "Yup, although now that I think about it." They look at the kids at the playground
"Are those your students that are missing?" They ask
"Yes." Keine answers
Jesse snaps their fingers and all of the kids suddenly stops what they are doing and run towards the Outsider lining up. Jesse crouches down and study each of their faces
"All of their faces are so detailed, it's like I'm seeing them in real life. You must really care for them otherwise their faces would be blurry." Jesse comments
"Immensely," Keine says with pride filling her body
Standing back up, Jesse claps their hand and the world begins to dissolve to black. The connection begins to weaken with Keine and Jesse fading away.
"I will stick with you since I can't speak Japanese, is that alright?" Jesse asks looking to Keine
Their hands let go ending the link. Keine opens her eyes feeling like she woke from a wonderful dream. Jesse, the strange outsider, stood in front of her with a smile on their face.
"Should we get going?" Jesse asks re-adjusting their glasses
Keine notices of the particularly big book-bag Jesse is carrying on their back wondering if they got lost and appeared in Gensokyo, or perhaps Yukari took an interest of the human and took them away from home.
"Leave... the bag here in school." Keine felt embarrassed by her poor English, but Jesse understood what she said.
"Oh sure, it was getting a little heavy." Jesse slips off the book-bag as Keine opens the door to the school
Jesse leaves it right at the entrance of the door before Keine closes the door.
Now feeling lighter from putting away the book-bag, They begin their search for the missing students.
As they explore the school area, Knocking on doors nearby the houses, but there is no response. They try other houses, but it ended with the same result. They look around for people to talk to, but nearby the school are gone as well. The duo check other sections of the village and everything seems normal. They walk back to the commoners' area one more time.
"Is everyone working or something?" Jesse asks as they peer through a window.
"I know every student's... parents very well. Some should still be home." Keine says with a thick accent
"Is every teacher like that?" Jesse asks as they continue their search
"Like what?" Keine asks
"Know everything about their students. Like their names, faces and parents... stuff like that." Jesse says
"Yes, have you been in school?" Keine asks
Jesse shakes their head "Nope, I was homeschooled by my parents."
"Ah, what they teach you?" the teacher grew curious
"They taught me how to use my power and being responsible with it. They also show me all types of worlds too! Like in one world, everything was made of diamonds!" Jesse says
Keine only caught that Gensokyo may not have been the first new world Jesse has visited.
"Parents have power too?" she asks
Jesse nods "What about you Ms. Kami...shirosawa? Camashirosawa? Ms. Cane! What about you Ms. Cane, do you have any powers?" they ask
Keine couldn't help, but chuckle how Jesse tried to pronounce her name. As she is about to correct them Jesse stops in their track and looks at the house beside them. The front door is ajar with a small breeze coming through.
"Hello?" Keine calls out in her original language.
"We should go in," Jesse says
"No. You stay." Keine orders
"What? But something bad might happen!" they say
"Exactly. Now stay please." Keine place a hand on their shoulder hoping Jesse understood
"At least let me watch your back, Ms. Cane. It's not right that you risk your life while I just stay and do nothing." Jesse says
Keine looks between the house and Jesse
"If fight, get out. Understand?" Keine says
Jesse gives a firm nod and gets into position as Keine slides the door open and enters the house. The inside of the house like the outside is small with about two rooms, one to the kitchen and one to the living room.
Keine removes her shoes and places it in one of the shelves beside the entrance confusing Jesse why she did it, but decides not to question it. The duo enters the kitchen to find an unfinished dish on the table. Jesse places their hand over the food.
"Still warm," they say
The duo leaves the kitchen and enters the empty living room.
"Is where they sleep?" Jesse whispers
Keine shakes her head and points to the next room connected to the living room. Vines were covering the door keeping it shut.
"What... is that?" Jesse asks
But Keine only looks to them in confusion.
"The door?" she says
"Yeah, what's covering it?" Jesse says
Keine looks at the door again but looks back to Jesse
"There's nothing," she says
Jesse frowns "You don't see it?"
The teacher shakes her head.
"Try opening it," Jesse says
Keine stares at Jesse then walk over to grab the side of the door to slide it open. However, she is met with resistance from the door as it didn't budge. Keine pulls on the side harder, but it still did not budge. She then uses her inhuman strength to slide the door crushing the vines in the way and leaving crack marks on the door she was holding.
"Jesus! You murde-" Jesse shouts, but is interrupted by Keine covering their mouth.
"Shh!" she whispers
"Sorry, just got surprised from your strength," they say
Keine slowly enters the room with Jesse follows suit to find an odd site. A boy is infused to the ground with bits of there skin is what seems to be made of wood. His legs are like the trunks of a tree while his arms were like branches.
"Kenji!" Keine shouts running towards the boy
The teacher looks on with horror seeing one of her students in such a deform state.
"Who did this to you!?" Keine cries out, but the boy did not respond.
She tries to pull her student out of the invisible restraints.
"Wait!" Jesse shouts stopping Keine "He's part of the tree!" they say
"What tree!?" she shouts in anger
"Look!" Jesse points at the skin on the boy that is stretching starting to tear.
Keine immediately lets go in shock that she was just hurting her student. She begins to pace around the room trying to think what to do while Jesse stood still unsure what to do.
She stops her pacing "Jesse stay here." she begins to leave the room.
"Where are you going?" They ask
"Getting help, please watch over Kenji," she orders as she runs out of the room
"But what if his parents come?" Jesse calls out but she was already gone
"Great..." they say looking at the boy wondering what to do
Then an idea struck
'I could try to mind link with him and since he's unconscious, I won't have to worry about breaking in.'
'Although, I don't know what's going on in his mind, would it really be safe?'
Jesse walks up to the boy, with their hand glowing and reach for his face
"Nothing ventured, nothing gained!" they say before making contact to Kenji
The outsider wakes up to the color pink. Confused, Jesse begins to shuffle around trying to stand up with pink petals falling off their body. Now on their leg, Jesse observe that the mind-world is cover in cherry blossoms with the sky being cover like a dome by what appears to be the trunks of a tree. Even the wind itself send a chill down Jesse's spine as if it carries dark secrets that no human should know of.
Jesse is too terrified to speak by the power oozing from the world overwhelming them. They never felt this small in their entire life. Off in the distance, Jesse could see a blossoming tree and walk bit by bit, worry that just walking normally would get them killed for reasons they couldn't understand.
Finally, they were close enough to see details on the tree such as the tree is larger than expected from the distance and a familiar boy.
"...Kenji?" Jesse calls out but immediately regrets it
The ground below begins to shift under Jesse's legs then stop, but they didn't dare to move. Jesse clenches their hand and opens with now a rock in it. They limp throw the rock away from them and the tree. Once the rock landed, the ground begins to shift again this time away from Jesse.
They continue to walk towards the tree now slower than before to avoid alerting whatever is in the ground. Now in closer inspection, Jesse could see that the boy is covered in vines with some sort of bud sticking out of his chest. The bud seems to be pulsating, injecting something into Kenji. Jesse steps closer to the boy and quickly taps the bud to see if there is a reaction. The bud shakes sporadically causing Kenji to groan in pain.
'This bud seems to be the problem, maybe if I take it out it would free him.' Jesse thinks
'The faster this ends, the better. Although getting him out of this area first would be safer, but also longer...'
Jesse breathes in and releases the tension in their body. It slightly helps in this oppressive atmosphere. They place a leg on the tree planning to use it as leverage, then grabs the pulsating bud. Kenji begins to squirm, his groaning is louder than before, but Jesse ignores it and prepares to pull it.
"Sorry," Jesse whispers and pull on the bud
The ground begins to tremble as Kenji's groan grew louder, turning into screams. Jesse pulls on the bud with all their might ignoring the dread of death emerging from the ground. They didn't dare to look back too terrified to stop what they're doing. The bud itself is pulsating faster as if realizing it's in danger, with parts of its tendril begin to spaz out, flailing out of control lashing on Jesse's leg that is resting on the tree and on their arms holding onto it.
A shadow looms over Jesse reaching towards. The bud slowly begins to loosen which Jesse took advantage of by pulling it in different directions speeding up the process. The unseen figure wraps it enormous appendage around Jesse and begins to squeeze. Jesse closed their eyes not wanting to see anything, their thoughts only surrounding one thing. Keep pulling.
They kept thinking that mantra as bones begin to crack and dislocate. Jesse felt like an ant being hold by a human between two fingers, unable to do anything, but wait for death as the two finger press together.
'Keep pulling, keep pulling, keep pulling...'
"Keep pulling!" Jesse screeches
As the large figure is about to pop Jesse's body, the bud loses its attachment to Kenji and flies in the air disintegrating into nothing. Whatever was holding Jesse begins to break down bellowing out a roar that shook Jesse's entire being down to their soul before fading away. Jesse goes limp and falls on their back, curling into a ball, crying.
"Ah ded it! Am alave!" They say but were distorted by the tears and snots streaming out of their face. Overwhelm with relief from certain doom.
Kenji's screaming has stopped now replace with a soft snoring unaware of what happened.
"Jesse." A woman's voice calls out.
Jesse's eyes sprang open, but the tears hinder their sight. Blinking, Jesse begins to see two figures walking to them. Jesse recognizes the two.
"Mama! Papa!" the pain, dread, and death is replaced with sheer joy
Jesse forces themselves to stand up but falls back down. Father and Mother sit down on the ground and hug Jesse softly.
"We're here for you," Father says
"You're safe now." Mother says
Jesse begins to cry louder in joy feeling the warm embrace, feeling safe with their family holding close to them protecting them from any kind of danger.
"Ah'll f-find yah! Ah swear...!" they whisper
Using all of their strength from the trial, Jesse falls unconscious ending the mind link with everything including the parents, fade away.
All is dark, as it should. All is silent, as it should. All is nothing, as it should. Jesse's soul travels without direction, without purpose. All is natural in the unconsciousness that is Jesse's mind, until now. A single yokai decides to go against common sense by existing in a world of nothing. The yokai begins clapping as if the world is not broken enough.
"I have to admit, I'm surprised you live this long J." She says
Jesse's soul begins to travel towards the sound. Unsure if they are in a dream or in the afterlife.
"...Who are you?" Jesse says surprise being able to speak as well as exist.
"Well I go by many names, but you may call me Yukari Yakumo." she waves with just her fingers
Jesse recognize part of the name "Yakumo? Are you related to a yokai named Ran Yakumo?"
"Correct, she told me about you and your family. Interesting powers you all have," she says
Jesse didn't say anything. Instead, they try to open their eyes to see Yukari but fail to realize they don't have eyes.
"Why can't I see?" Jesse asks not sure why they don't mind this
Yukari shrugs "We're in your mind, just make something exist."
Jesse would have raised an eyebrow if they had one "How do I do that?"
"Just use your imagination. Like this!"
A gap similar to Ran made appears out of nothing as if acting as a curtain, begins to move to reveal a woman with golden hair and a purple dress. She may look like a young woman, but her golden-color eyes show something else. Her eyes show knowledge and maturity of someone far older, but it also has signs of being mischievous.
"Just think and it will appear?" Jesse asks
"Yes," she says
Jesse remembers how they created the pebble in the mental world and tries to imply it to their current situation. It's easier then they thought, just by remembering how they look, The floating orb that is Jesse's soul begins to transform into Jesse's body (clothes included). The eyes open and Jesse felt awake.
"I did it!" Jesse says finally able to see again
"See? It's easy." Yukari says
Yukari then taps the invisible floor with her umbrella. Grass begins to cover the ground with tree oaks emerging from the ground. Various animals that have been long extinct populate the forest either sleeping or just roaming the place. Finally, a road that seems to have stretch forever appears with Yukari standing on it.
"Let's go for a walk," she says
The two went for a walk while it is peaceful, Jesse couldn't shake off that there is a reason for this walk.
"Kenji wasn't the only one you know," she states catching Jesse by surprise
"How do you know about Kenji?" They ask
"I was watching you," she says
"...And you didn't help?" they say
"Didn't really care about the boy." She says smiling at them
Jesse narrow their eyes "Why?"
Yukari shrugs nonchalantly "Would you help an ant?"
The question reminds Jesse about what their parents said about yokai. Different beings with a different way of thinking. While some yokai may be nice, most viewed humans as something less.
"Nevermind." They say
"...Anyway, there are more people infected by the Saigyou Ayakashi." She continues
"Hold on! How do you know about what's causing this!?" Jesse stops walking
"Well, I peak in your memories and gather everything I wanted to know about what you saw, and came to the conclusion that it's that trees doing," Yukari says now mildly annoyed at the outburst
"You look through my memories!? Without my permission?" They ask
"Yes." She smiles
Jesse is too stunned by her demeanor to say anything.
"After you saved Kenji, the other people infected disappear only leaving a dirt trail." She says
"..." they stay silent
"I looked everywhere for them, but it was as if they never existed." She says
Yukari turns around looking at Jesse with a grin
"You wouldn't know how that happens right?" She asks
A small thought enters Jesse's head on who could have done it, but they immediately reject it.
"No." They say
Yukari's grin turn to a neutral expression, then she shrugs
"Eh, it doesn't matter to me. What does though is where there are now," she says continuing her walk with Jesse grudgingly follow.
"Fortunately, you can somehow still see them," Jesse says nothing to that
"And you want me to find them?" They say
"Correct! But I didn't visit you just to tell what to do. You probably would have searched for the rest of Keine's student." she says
"...How many are infected by Saigyou?" Jesse asks
"Seven, excluding Kenji," she says
"I see, what is the other reason you 'visit' me then?" they say
"To help you of course," she says
"I thought you didn't care." they retort
Yukari stops again and turns around
"I don't care about ants, but caterpillars are a different story." she walks towards Jesse
"Caterpillars turn into butterflies, who pollinate the flowers keeping the plant species alive." She reaches to Jesse's face pinch their cheek
"Plus they're cuter then ants. It's a fact really," she says smiling
"Ow ow ow! What's your problem?!" Yukari lets go and Jesse rubs their cheek. She's stronger then she looks.
"Anyway, I want to give you two gifts." Jesse raises an eyebrow
"Grab my hand," she orders
Jesse looks at her hand then back to her then back to her hand, unsure what to do. Yukari extends her hand further trying to make them shake her hand. They slowly reach for her hand and grab it. Jesse's eyes widen as knowledge begins to flow through their body becoming enlighten by Yukari's power. She lets go of their hand.
"How do you feel?" she asks
"I feel... different?" they say unsure on what she did to them
"I gave you the knowledge of speaking Japanese." She says in the language surprising Jesse
"Now that pesky language barrier won't be a problem for you!" she smiles
"Just like that!?" Jesse couldn't fathom what Yukari's power is.
"And since you will be hunting down the kids infected by the Ayakashi, I gave you the ability to detect evil."
Jesse is stun of how helpful Yukari is even though of her lack of care to humanity. Suddenly the ground begins to shake snapping them out of their trance.
"What's happening!?" They say
"You're waking up. Perfect timing too, I was thinking of going to sleep soon." She says yawning
"What!? Why not help me in finding the missing kids!?" They ask
"Eh, I'm sure you will be fine." She says as she opens a gap
"Ta ta!" she says before entering the gap and closing it.
'...What are you Yukari Yukamo? You said you don't care about Kenji's life and you violated my privacy without a care in the world, but then you want to help me in finding the missing students and you seem to care about me... Just what are you?'
Jesse stirs on the bed, slowly waking up to the sound of someone talking. They soon realize their coat is missing from their body only leaving their yellow shirt covering the upper body. After getting off of the bed, Jesse looks out of the window to see it's night time with no people in sight. Then they hear the door open.
"Oh, you're awake." Jesse didn't recognize the voice
Jesse turns toward the door to see a man who's hair is completely grey and wrinkle face showing fatigue.
'he looks like around Father's age.' Jesse thought
"Excuse me, but where am I?" Jesse bows speaking in Japanese for the first time
"You're in the Villages clinic, Keine brought you and one of her students in." the doctor says
Jesse rushes towards the doctor "Is Kenji alright!?" they shout
The doctor steps back, surprised by the outburst.
"He's asleep, but other then that, We're expecting a full recovery for him," he says
The tension inside Jesse released and he makes a sigh of relief
"Thank you for telling me," they say
"You're welcome, now if you excuse me there are other patients I need to see," he says before closing the door.
Jesse continues to explore the room and found their book-bag in one of the corners.
'Keine must have dropped it here for me.'
They dig through their belonging and found what they were looking for. A notebook and a pencil. Jesse went back to their bed and sit on it with their back against the wall.
Two weeks have passed since Mom and Dad disappear. On the last day, I woke up to find Mom's portal in the living room with a single note on the table. Gensokyo. Mom and Dad told me many times about the place, how dangerous it is or the monsters in it, but they never explain further.
I knew it would be dangerous coming here, but... twice my life was in danger and I honestly thought I was going to... die.'
Jesse couldn't help but shiver. Their body slowly being crushed is still in their mind.
I can't help, but worry about them. Where are they? Why did Mom create the portal? Are they in danger? And if they are... what can I do? My power can't help me in a fight!
"Damnit." Jesse whispers
Jesse takes a deep breath
And now there are Keine's missing students... Maybe there is a connection? Yukari, while strange and extremely uncaring about personal space, I feel like she is trying to help in her own strange (Yokai?) way and Keine is definitely trustful, but I'm worried how she is doing right now.
I need to come up with a plan! I don't... feel the evil? Nearby. I think the rest of the students are outside the village somewhere and I think Keine will be the only person that can help me and keep me safe, but what if I can't find her? ...Will I have to find the students by myself?
I don't want to find out what happens if the infection continues to grow, it could be like a zombie infection or something! And what if there suffering? In the mind-link world, I saw some sort of bud pumping something into Kenji. I can't just sit back while knowing I can help! Maybe I should ask Kenji what it was like being infected tomorrow... They are also the only possible connection to my family. It's dangerous and I might... really die, but what else can I do?
Jesse closes the notebook sighing. They look out the window before going back asleep.
 Wait for Keine  Continue without her or Write in if you have a plan
The night has ended and now comes the sun bringing its glorious light to the land of illusions driving away any nocturnal yokai back to where they came. A glimmer of light pierces through the window hitting Jesse's eyelid, waking them up. They slowly rise from their bed rubbing the sand away from their eyes. The door opens with a nurse carrying miso soup on a tray
"Hello! Here's your breakfast!" She says in Japanese
"...Thank you" They say taking it from her hand
"Oh! I didn't know you could speak Japanese." She says surprise
"Ah, well, you never know until you find out right?" They joke
"Very true! Oh dear! Where is my manner? I'll let you eat your breakfast." She says just as she is about to leave
"Before you go, could you tell me where Kenji is resting?" They ask
"Why he's in the room next to yours on the right, but make sure to eat first!" She orders
"I will." They say
As the nurse left, Jesse begins to eat the miso soup noting that the meat in the soup tastes like chicken
'Are their farm animals in this place?' they thought
After finishing their breakfast, Jesse places the tray on the drawer next to the bed and did a few stretches before leaving their room. Heading to the right, Jesse opens the door to find the small boy already up.
"..." Although Jesse didn't know how to start the conversation
"Hello," fortunately Kenji did
"Uh, hi... how are you feeling?" They ask
"I'm good, what about you?" He asks
"Yeah, I'm good, um, my name is Jesse Jane Jackson." they walk towards Kenji extending their hand
"What are you doing?" He stares at Jesse's hand
"Oops, I was trying to shake your hand." They bow instead
"...My name is Kenji Kimura." Kenji says
"Hello Mr. Kimura, is it alright to ask you a question?" Jesse asks
"Sure." He smiles
"Thank you, now, can you tell me if you remember anything before waking up here?" They ask
Kenji crosses his arms trying to think back on what happened.
"I was in school, we were learning about history, but Keine-Sensei forgot to bring the textbooks." He says
"After that..." Kenji scratch his head
"Yes?" Jesse inquires
"I don't remember. It's weird, but my head feels fuzzy kinda like a dream." He shrugs
"I see, thank you for helping me Mr. Kimura, I will let you rest." Jesse bows
"Ooh! I remember something!" Keine grabs Jesse's arm
"What is it?" They ask
"I remember something about cherry blossoms... but I don't if it's important." He mentions
"It is. Do you remember anything else?" Jesse asks
Kenji shakes his head
"Alright then, I'll be leaving now." Jesse gives a short wave
"Bye Je...jisse? Gesse?" Kenji fumbles
Jesse couldn't help but chuckle "Try saying 'J' it's my nickname." They say
"J? J, Bye J!" Kenji waves goodbye
Jesse exits the room and scratches their head, wondering what to do next. Then, they hear a familiar voice.
"Thank goodness you're okay Jesse," Keine says sounding a bit tired
Jesse looks down the hall to see the teacher. Keine did not look in her best condition, her hair is a mess, but oddly enough she still looks like she can take on the day
"Forgive me for leaving you alone with Kenji, I was so scared, I just had to get help," she says bowing
Jesse says nothing unsure how to tell Keine that they can speak her language now. But Keine mistook the look of Jesse's face.
"Ah, sorry how are you feeling?" she says now in her broken English
"Good," Jesse says in Japanese
Keine's eyes were as wide as a fish, with her mouth slightly open.
"How are you...?" Keine couldn't finish her sentence
Jesse opens their mouth to answer the question, but nothing came out. They try to remember who gave them their new abilities, but it came blank. They then try to remember what the person was, but it became blank again. Did they even remember if the person was a boy or a girl?
"...I'm not sure. It's strange, but I can't remember who." They say
"Someone gave you the knowledge?" She asks
"Yeah, but it feels like I always knew how to speak Japanese." They say
"I see, Jesse, can you wait here while I check on Kenji?" She asks
"Sure," They step aside
As Keine enters Kenji's room, Jesse is left alone with their thoughts.
'Why can't I remember?' They scratch their head
After a couple of minutes pass, Keine exits Kenji's room with a smile on her face now knowing one of her students is safe.
"I'm sorry Ms. Kamishirasawa, but I just can't remember who gave me the power." They say
"That's alright Jesse, now, can you tell me what happened when I left you with Kenji?" She asks
"Oh, that? Well while you were gone... I thought of mind-linking with Kenji." They answer
"Okay, but why did you do that?" She tilts her head
"I wanted to see if his mind was in danger or something." They say
"What did you find?" She asks
"I saw Kenji entangle by a bud against a cherry blossom." They recall
"A cherry blossom!?" She repeats to herself
"Is there something wrong Ms. Kamishirasawa?" Jesse asks
"...I think I know who is behind the kidnapping." Keine says
"Re-really!? Who is it?" They stammer
"You weren't probably here at the time, but there was an incident that also involved a certain cherry tree." She explains
"What happen?" They ask
"I don't know much of it, but I know the culprit lives in the Netherworld." She says
"What's that?" They ask
"It's where the dead lives." She says
"What?" Jesse says again
Keine couldn't but chuckle "I know that it sounds strange, but it's real."
"...Okay, so when will we go?" They ask
"I'm sorry Jesse, but you will have to stay this time." Keine orders
"But what if the rest of the students are there? I can cure them like with Kenji." They point out
"I know and I am extremely grateful for what you did, but the Netherworld is dangerous for humans. The place is full of ghosts that contain so much negative energy that it can kill you!"
Jesse says nothing, the feeling of being useless looms over them. They clench their hands unsure what to do.
"...Well, what am I suppose to do?" They look up to Keine
Keine begins to ponder
"How about this? While I face the suspect, you can continue the search for my students. I know you have been able to see what's happening to them. Maybe then you can see something I didn't." She suggests
"It's also possible there somewhere else besides the village," Jesse says unsure how to tell Keine of their other ability
"If that's the case, you should check on a girl name Reimu Hakurei, she is the Miko whose job is to help the humans." She says
"I can do that." They smile
"Good, be safe Jesse." She smiles back
 Find the Miko
Explore the Village (again) with your new abilities
After giving the direction to the shrine, Keine took off to face the possible suspect in the kidnapping. Jesse puts on their jacket and brought their book bag with them for the travel ahead. As they left the clinic, it felt like seeing a whole new world. They understood the signs and what the people were saying perfectly. Jesse couldn't help but smile.
Jesse follows the road to the shrine, although it seemed like no one kept it clean for a long time. Leaves cover a good portion of the road with some branches as well. There is even a fallen tree that Jesse had to climb over to continue the journey.
During the travel, Jesse notices something off. While they were traveling they would hear the leaves crunching from below their shoes, but it sounds like there is more than they are stepping on. They stop and so does the noise, but before they even move again, they heard the crunching noise from behind.
They quickly turn around but saw nothing and the noise is coming closer than before. Images of being chased and being closed to death fill Jesse mind. As they were about to run, they begin to hear whispers.
“Hello?” Jesse calls out, but no one responds
“Boo!” A familiar voice whispers to their ear
Jesse yelps, jumping in the air by surprise. They quickly turn around to see who the prankster is.
“Ran!?” They shout
“Hello J! It’s good to see you again.” The kitsune chuckles
“…It’s nice to see you too, but what was that for?” Jesse asks slightly annoyed
“Oh, nothing, just my way of saying hello to you.” She smiles
“What a strange way of greeting a person.” They retort
“Is it? It’s rather normal if you ask other youkais.” She says now following Jesse
They walked in silence for a few moments, with Jesse unsure what to talk about and Ran possibly just enjoys the silence
“If it’s okay to ask R- Ms. Ran, is there something you need?” Jesse finally speaks
“A mind at peace is all I require from you.” She says
“All I have to do is stay calm?” They ask
“Exactly, it’s difficult to listen if your mind is in shambles.” She says
“Okay, so what did you want to tell me?” Jesse asks
“Tell me J, do you know how to survive?” She asks
“Well, me and my family would go camping in the forest for vacation, so I know how to deal with wild animals and how to ration my foods.” They say
“That’s not what I meant, I want to know if you can handle an intelligent youkai.” She explains
“Oh, um, be friendly with it?” They say
“Close, but no, you have to show respect to them.” She says
“Isn’t that the same thing?” They ask
“Some youkais want friendship, but all desire respect. They are your elders after all.”
“I see, is there anything else I should know?” Jesse asks
“Hmm, exactly how much do you know about youkais?” Ran asks
“Yeah, every time I ask my parents about Gensokyo they seem… sad.” They say
“And?” She persists
“They just say it’s dangerous and I don’t have to worry.” They continue
Ran says nothing for a moment
“Ms. Ran is it okay if I ask you questions?” Jesse asks nervously
“…Sure,” She says
“It's been bothering me for a while, but how many youkais are there?” They ask
“More than there are humans.” She says
“And most of the humans live in that village?” Jesse points at the other side of the road
Ran sighs “Yes.”
A pregnant silence fills the air
“You know, now I feel a little silly.” Ran finally speaks
Jesse says nothing
“When we first met, you mention about older youkais liking cooked meat more than raw meat.” She says
“Which means you did research on youkais, didn’t you?” Her pupils slit vertically
“…I-I did.” They say
“I know that they eat humans, but how!?” Jesse turns around to see Ran but is taken back by how her pupil looks, they breath grows heavy
Ran cocks her head “How?”
“H-How the people are dress… from how the buildings look, that village is old maybe even before my parent were even born.” They say
“So… how are there still humans left M-Ms. Ran!?” Their heart starts to beat faster
Ran says nothing looking at Jesse directly to their shaking eyes
She gives a stoic look “Your mother is not the only one who can move between here and earth.”
“That’s impossible! Only Mom can do tha…” They remember Ran ability
“You use the gaps to kidnapped people a-and…” implications begin to form in their head
Their hands begin to shake “Y-you and al-ll of the youkais e-e-e-e” They couldn’t finish the line
“We did.” Ran answer
Jesse mind goes blank, then they press the clips that kept the book-bag attach to them off. They ran as fast as they could almost trip themselves several times unable to think straight. Their mind became their greatest enemy, images of Ran or possibly even Keine killing and eating humans flood their mind. The images made them run faster than they ever did in their entire life.
After running for what feels like a mile, Jesse stops to take a few breathes leaning against a tree
“A-All those mm-missing p-people!?” They stammer tears flowing freely from their eyes
They wipe the tears from their eye
They look back only to see Ran standing a few feet away from them holding their book bag
They were unsure if they made any progress or simply went through a gap without realizing it. But something felt off to them, Ran’s face did not show the face of a killer, but someone… curious, as if wanting to see their reaction.
Jesse didn’t know what to say. They let the first thing they thought of go first
“You could have and still can kill me, but you didn’t… Why?” They say shaking
But Ran did not say anything, she only took a step forward causing Jesse to take a step back.
’Unless you didn’t want to.’ They thought, but immediately dispel it from their mind
’She could be playing with me! Want to see my face before she kills me!’ Their breath became heavy again
Ran did not take another step, she only stood in the same spot, waiting for something.
’Maybe because… she’s f-full?’ They heard their heart thumping faster
Regaining stamina, Jesse could make a run for it, Ran doesn’t want to chase, but that would mean leaving their book-bag behind with her.
’Do I trust this… thing not to eat me?’
’Are they just animals…? No! Animals aren’t this intelligent!’
Then they concluded
’Is this what a youkai is? A murderer?’
The thought alone made Jesse nauseous. The thought of human flesh being consumed fills their mind.
’She saved me and is keeping me safe though… but…’
Jesse gulps and stands straight up. They took their first step towards Ran, next take another, but a slower step.
’What will I say to her?’ Jesse thoughts ’What can I say to her? How do I even talk to a murderer!?’
They falter but, continue walking with the distance closing each step. Ran also took a step forward surprising Jesse from taking another step. She is still stoic, but her pupils are now rounder than before. Jesse regains their composure and continues their slow walk.
’Oh god, what if I made her mad? Did she was offended that I started running?’
Then without realizing it, Jesse sank to the ground.
“Huh!?” They yelp
Looking down they saw a gap instead of their feet. As they try to raise foot up, the gap rises to their waist and tightens. Jesse now couldn’t do anything but float as Ran continues to get closer. They begin to panic again, trying to grab the outline of the gap, but couldn’t make it budge at all.
“Ran!?” Jesse calls out
“Yes J?” Ran finally speaks
“I didn’t mean to make you angry!” They quickly say
Ran gives a confused look “Angry?” She chuckles “I’m actually happy of you Jesse.” She smiles
“…What?” They ask
The kitsune is within arm’s length of Jesse “What you did was natural after finding out how we get our food, in fact, I would have been surprised if you haven’t run.”
Jesse slightly calm down, but now is confuse of Ran’s action
“And what are you proud of?” They ask
“You came back, knowing full well of what I have done, you still trust me.” She answers
“Then what is the gap for?” It felt strange to Jesse, it’s like their legs are hanging in the air
“To keep you still,” She says
“F-For what?” They ask
“While I am happy, you’ve made a terrible choice Jesse.” She says
Jesse didn’t know what to say, but fear creeps on their back.
“You’ve panicked, you let your fear take control of you instead of the other way around.”
“You said it was natural!” They shout
“It is, but don’t worry this will be quick.” She says grabbing Jesse’s left hand
“W-Wait!” They plead, but it is too late
Ran inhale then blew on Jesse’s hand, with blue fire coming out of her mouth. At first, it did nothing, it pasts through Jesse's hands, but then it starts to burn from the inside. The fire is burning the nerves on the back of their left hand. Jesse yells in agony pleading for Ran to stop, but she didn’t. Due to the magical properties of the fire, Jesse still felt the excruciating pain of their hand on fire. Ran stops breathing fire and place a gap over Jesse’s now burnt hand. She places her index finger on the gap and traces a symbol over Jesse’s hand.
After finishing her work, Ran close the gap on Jesse, leaving behind a scar. Jesse screams stop now just sobbing from the pain.
“This is for your own good Jesse, remember this moment for this is what happen when you let your fear overrun you.” She says
The final words Jesse hears before falling unconscious.
Evil, the first thought that enters Jesse’s mind after waking up. Rising from the futon, Jesse looks around the room. The room itself is rather empty, beside the futon, it has a table with a blanket over it and the seats seem to be just pillows. Light comes through the open front door showing a young girl around their age with black hair wearing a red-white clothing brushing the stone tiles with a broom.
Jesse tries to stand up by using their left hand, they hiss in pain from the burning sensation from the hand and instead use their right hand. After getting up, they check their left hand to see it all bandaged up.
“So, you’re up and awake, are you?” The girl calls out
Jesse looks up from their hand to see the girl limping using the broom as a support,
“Ah, you must be the Miko.” Jesse bows
“Reimu Hakurei and you’re J, right?” She asks
“Yes, but how do you know my nickname?” They ask
“The fox told me about you. Weird seeing an outsider capable of using magic.” She says walking to another room in the house
“I see…” Jesse says
“Tea?” Reimu asks as she brought a pot
“Oh sure. Here let me carry this for you.” Jesse walks toward Reimu who pass the pot to them
“Thanks, set it on the table, will you? I’ll get the cups” She smiles
Jesse did as she said and place the pot on the table. As they wait for Reimu to get the cups, they focus on the evil smothering the air
’Is one of the students here?’
A sound of something crashing echoes the house catching Jesse attention
“Reimu?” Jesse calls out
“I’m f-fine.” She stammers
Jesse walks to the room she entered to see leaning against the wall clutching her side
“Reimu! Are you alright?” Jesse swept the shards of the cup with their foot.
“Yeah, I should be.” She says, “Mind lending me a hand?” She asks
“Sure,” They say
Reimu rings her arm around Jesse’s neck as they grab onto her hand and brings their hand around her waist being extra careful not to touch her side. They walk back to the living room as Reimu’s legs shake with each step and set her down on the pillow next to the table.
“Thanks again, ugh!” She felt a sharp pain on her side
“Should I get the cups?” Jesse asks
“Yeah, that would be great.” She says then she sucks her teeth in pain
Jesse walks to the kitchen keeping special attention to the shatter pieces of the cups with the lack of their shoes. They spot a shelf that holds more cups and grabs two. As they were about walk to back to the living room, they spot Reimu’s broom on the floor and pick it up.
Returning to the living room, Jesse places the cups on the table and gave Reimu her broom. She frowns “Some Miko I am, can’t even carry some cups.”
One thing is that this story tends to lack description. While you don't need to go full purple prose, setting a scene is important for immersion. Things like describing the place people are in at once, or building up descriptions of that place over time if the character has just gotten there. You don't need to describe places every time if it's a place the reader has already become familiar with.
You tend to focus on dialogue a lot, but it comes across as stilted mainly because of "he said" "she said"s. These are important, yes, but cutting them once it's clear who is who can create a much better conversation flow. An example of three characters in a scene.
== Sanae is nervous. She picks at a thread of her skirt while seated at the table while the two natives observe her wordlessly... for a time, at least.
"I mean," Reimu speaks first, "it's just the first time I've seen an Outsider with green hair."
Marisa nods, squinting at the newcomer. She answers, "Like Yuuka, or the Yama... or Wriggle,"
Reimu blinks at her magician friend and shakes her head, "I'm not joking. Is that a fairy?"
"It's like a bug."
"Even less than a fairy."
"U-Um!" their guest finally speaks up. "P-Please don't stare too much..."
"Well," Reimu eventually talks again in a half-whisper, "I suppose she is a living god."
"Not that Suwako's a greenie," Marisa replies. ==
It's good to try to interject with small actions and descriptions, but doing it every time makes the conversation hard to read.
At the same time I get an impression the story feels like it's almost rushing given the first point I made that it lacks scene descriptions. You do have a good idea of explaining characters' emotional states, though, and while perhaps you don't need to do it frequently, it's nice to have.
My last point is that you definitely don't wait long enough for votes. I personally don't have any voting troubles on THP but I will sometimes wait a week or more regardless because I want readers to have a chance to consider the update, choices, and their vote. Plus life is busy and THP isn't heavily trafficked. There are times people tell me they missed a vote even after I waited. Sometimes I won't wait long before I write another update, but in those cases I still have gotten a decent number of votes (usually indicating which of the options will PROBABLY win) so I feel it's reasonable. Saying "I didn't get any votes so I'll pick myself" after just four days is too much!
>>66858 I would add that non-verbal communication is a great thing in general (stares, gestures, glances aside), but perhaps don't overdo it. Also even if you do hit every dialogue line with an additional note of non-verbal communication, it may not need a "he/she/they say".
“I think you should take it easy on yourself, especially with those injuries.” Jesse advice
Reimu’s face scrunches “Sounds like what a lazy person would do.” She says
“Well maybe if you weren’t injured.” They point at the kettle “Should I pour the tea?”
The Miko huffs “I’m not that weak.” She grabs the handle of the kettle and carefully lifts it up to pour the tea
She gives the first cup she pours into Jesse “Here.”
Jesse smiles “Thank you.” They sit down on the other side of the table
Reimu shifts awkwardly in her seat before clearing her throat “Uh, no problem.”
As they drink tea in the somewhat peaceful atmosphere, Jesse’s mind begins to wander back to the disturbing discovery on where youkai get their food from. A chill crawl down their back recalling of any time they have seen a missing person report with no traces of where they have gone
’How many people died? How many did Ran eat in her life? What about Keine? She’s a youkai too isn’t she!?’
Jesse’s left hand grew uncomfortably warm, but they ignore it
’Would she really do it? Kill a human?’ Their breathing hastens
Images of Keine devouring humans reappear in Jesse’s mind increasing the heat in their left hand to the point of smokes start to appear. Reimu alarm by the sign calls out for Jesse’s attention, but fail to get an answer.
’Does she only cares about the humans in the village and not the outsiders?’ Their hand starts to fidget due to the heat
“J,” Reimu raises her voice, but Jesse did not respond
’Is she just using me to find the students? Then after I’m no longer of use she would kill me!?’
”Hey J! She shouts catching finally dispelling their panic mind
After coming back to the real world, Jesse hisses in pain from the now unbearable heat sizzling their left hand
They hold their hands up “I-I’m alright! I was just wondering in my head…” They begin to shake their left hand in the air
Their eyes widen in surprise when they see smoke coming from their hand
“Well whatever you’re thinking, quit it.” She orders point the handle of her broom to them
Jesse begins to take deep breaths “S-sorry,” they took a sip of their tea to calm down
Putting the cup down, Jesse begins to take deep breaths trying to dispel the fear clouding their mind. Reimu, on the other hand, didn’t know what to do when someone is in a panic state.
Then an idea pop in her head “Uh try thinking about puppies or something cute!”
The smoke from their hand dissipate, the heat cools down as Jesse calms down
“Sorry I… it’s just…” Jesse wants to tell her what was in their mind, but couldn’t come up with the words
“The youkai diet?” she raises an eyebrow catching Jesse by surprise
“Y-yes, how did you guess?” They ask
“The fox told me.” She says before taking a sip of tea
It took a moment for Jesse to figure it out “Oh you mean Ran?” They ask
Reimu sets her tea down “Yup,” She says
Jesse shifts around their seat looking away “How… do the people in the village live with that?” They ask softly
She sighs “I’d guess that they don’t try to think about it, or maybe they just don’t care?” she shrugs
Jesse riles up “Don’t care? How could they not care when other humans are being eaten!?”
She shrugs again “Some humans can be worse than youkai.” She sips her tea again
“Worse than youkai?” Their shoulder slump unsure what to say
In the now silent room, Reimu continues drinking her tea with Jesse following as well although only out of politeness.
Feeling guilty, Jesse speaks “I didn’t mean to shout like that, sorry…” They bow
Reimu looks at Jesse confuse by their action but sighs “Do you want to know how I handle it?” she asks
Jesse returns to their previous position “Yes,” They say
She leans forward and rests her arm on the table “Alright, you know how humans eat meat right?”
“Yeah, we do it to survive,” Jesse answers back
“Exactly, same rules apply to youkai too, no humans to eat they die.” She explains
“…So, they either starve to death or kill to survive.” Jesse begins to understand a bit slowly
Reimu finishes her tea “Yeah, now I want you to repeat after me.” She waits for Jesse to finish their tea
They set the cup down “What is it?” They ask
The Miko then refill the two cups and grabs her cup “To survival.” She raises her cup towards Jesse
She smiles “Good! Now let’s enjoy the tea till it’s empty.” She sips her tea
Jesse shuffles in their seat “About that Reimu, but I believe one of the students are here.”
Finishing her tea, she pours another “I had a feeling that was the case,” She takes another sip
This catches Jesse’s interest “How did you know?” They begin to drink the tea
Reimu lifts her shirt up to show a horrendous scar on the right side of her abdomen that made Jesse choke on their tea.
They couldn’t believe their eyes, Reimu’s scar compares to her skin is beyond recognition. What is worst being that when Reimu turn to her side, the scar follows all the way to her back. Whatever hit her pierce her body.
"This wound hadn't caused me any trouble until now." She explains
“Oh god Reimu, what happen!? That scar seems bigger than my hand!” Jesse couldn’t help but stare at her wound.
Reimu smirks as she let goes of her shirt “Just an incident because of the main tree,” She grabs her cup gulping down her tea finishing it and exhale “Don't worry, I’m made of tougher stuff than your average human.” She slaps her scar which didn’t seem to affect her too much
‘Now you’re just showing off.’ Jesse couldn’t help but flinch when Reimu perform the questionable action
“I don’t think it’s a good idea hitting that.” They say but were impress by her gut for doing that
The Miko shrugs “As long as nothing bad happens, it was a good idea.”
Jesse couldn’t help, but raise an eyebrow at that statement “I see… Well, we should head out and find the tree.” They stand up and walk over to Reimu
They extend their hand to her “Do you need help standing up?” They ask
Reimu scoffs “I don’t need to be treated like a baby.” She slowly stands by herself with her broom
Jesse stood by just in case she fell “Sorry Reimu, I didn’t mean to be disrespectful it’s just that scar has me concern for you.” They explain
“How come?” She asks walking towards the front door
They follow as well “Well you always seem to be in pain so that makes me worry.” They say
Reimu rolls her eyes “I mean why do you care.” She asks again opening the front door
“Well, my parents also have superpowers which they used in secret to help people.” They explain
Before they left though, Jesse looks back to the living room ‘I guess Reimu’s parents are not here.’
Reimu calls out “Oi J! Your coming or what?”
Jesse follows shortly “Sorry about that, just got distracted.” They say
The front of the shrine contains what seems to be a box for donating on the stair. The shrine itself seem recently clean, which Jesse assume it was Reimu doing. Although what Jesse did find strange is patches of gravel that look layout by a person. On the side of the path is what seem to be a fountain with a ladle sticking out of it which Jesse did not know the use for. At the end of the pathway is two red beams holding up two post that seems to be made to walk through.
“So, you want to be like them?” She closes the door
Jesse looks back to Reimu “Absolutely! I love them very much and inspire to help people as well!” They exclaim realizing that got a little excited
Talking about their parents made Jesse curious about their new ally “What about your parents Reimu? What are they like?” They ask
Reimu stops for a moment and shrugs “Don’t know, I have never seen them in my life.” She walks to the right of her shrine “Hey J, mind taking the lead? I can’t sense the tree.” She looks back but is taken aback by Jesse shock expression
They begin to shift around “I-I didn’t mean to! Uh, sorry!” Jesse bows
Reimu raises an eyebrow “Eh? For what?” She asks
Jesse starts scratching the back of their head “Well, I didn’t mean to remind you something like that.” They explain
“Relax J, I don’t particularly care for them.” She says nonchalantly
Jesse didn’t know how to feel about that “…I see, well who is taking care of you now?” They ask as both children continue to find the tree
Reimu jabs a thumb to herself “Just me,” She says
“Ah… What about friends?” They ask hesitantly
Reimu smiles “Yeah I got one, she’s been with me since we were little kids” She begins to have a sense of nostalgia emitting from her
“What about you J? Got any friends from the outside world?” Reimu asks
“I was homeschooled, so I never really talk to other kids my age.” They say as the duo reach to the back of the shrine
The scenery took Jesse breath away who lived in New York for most of their whole life. They saw a small pond teeming with life from unique plants and animals alike. And just further ahead is a view that made Jesse realize that they were on a tall hill. The gorgeous view shows Gensokyo as a carpet of trees with a single mighty mountain standing proudly above it all.
“This… is beautiful!” Jesse says in amazement Unfortunately, the serenity of the view is shattered by a pulse of pure evil spreading through the area suddenly with a scream of pain following soon after.
Jesse quickly turns around to find Reimu on the floor clutching her side and the blossom tree that stood behind the shrine that Jesse miss due to being distracted by the view. Another wave of evil passes through and the Miko’s scream grew louder
They run towards her “Reimu!” Jesse calls out Now able to reach her, they gently pick her up and carry her like before in the shrine.
She mumbles something, but Jesse couldn’t hear what she said
With haste, Jesse carries Reimu away from the tree, her cries soften now just groans as they return to the front of the shrine.
Reimu begins to squirm “I’m… alright now, you can let go.” She says
“Are you sure?” They ask concern for her well being
She only nods for her answer
Jesse cautiously let go of Reimu making sure she can stand with her broom
“Hey J,” Anger seeping out of her voice “I got a question.” She states
“What is it?” They ask
She turns towards them staring directly to their eye “Ran told me about your power, but what I want to know is can there be more than two people in that world of yours?”
Jesse could tell what she is thinking “I’m not sure really, but do you think that really is a good idea Reimu?” They question now concern what the Miko would do
She snorts “I don’t care even if it was a good idea! I want that tree exterminated!” She shouts in anger
The sudden shouting caught Jesse by surprise “Wha-?! I don’t know if you notice, but I think the closer you are to that tree, the more pain you will be in!” They try to persuade her
“So, what? I should give up because it hurts!?” She punches where her scar is “I couldn’t care any less about this pain!” She punches her side again
Jesse quickly grabs Reimu’s hand to stop her “Reimu please stop hurting yourself!” They plead
This seems to calm her down just a little, but she manages to escape their grasp
“Reimu, we don’t know if my power can do that, even if I could, I don’t think it’s a good idea for you to enter the tree’s mind.” They explain
With surprising strength, Reimu grabs Jesse’s collar and drag them closer to her “J, listen to me,” She spoke calmly
“My duty is to keep the balance between youkai and human safe.” Jesse listen carefully
“Up to now, I’ve saved Gensokyo twice. Twice. ” She lets go of Jesse’s shirt
“If you don’t believe me, just ask any villagers at the Human Village, hell, I will take you there personally.” She says with absolute certainty that she is right
Jesse stares at Reimu, trying to decide what to do
‘There’s no fear in her eyes, willing to fight a monster even though she’s injured… I want to be like that too.’ Jesse admits
They sigh “Reimu, you’re so injured that you have to use the broom to help you walk.” They say
“We’re entering the tree’s mind, right? It has nothing to do with my body!” She argues
Jesse’s eyebrow furrow “What about your mind?” They ask, “Your mood change so suddenly!”
Reimu rolls her eyes “That stupid tree had me awake through the whole night! Of course, I would be mad!” She exclaims twisting the broom into the ground
“But what if it can still hurt you? You would be helpless!” They point out “That’s why you can’t join me.”
“What about you?” She points a finger at them “You’re somehow immune to it?” She accuses
Jesse shrugs “I don’t know, besides this isn’t my first time with the blossom tree, I can handle it.” They explain
“Good for you, but I don’t care, I’m joining to kill that tree.” She says with a smile
Jesse frowns ’What’s with her? She offered me tea and now she’s acting like she’s an executioner!’
Reimu begins walking to the back of the shrine, but Jesse quickly step in front of her stopping her
She looks at them with a glare “What is it now?” She beings to tap her feet against the ground
Jesse glares back “I like how determined you are Reimu, It’s really cool.” They admit plainly
She raises an eyebrow “…Okay?” She stares at them a bit confused now
They slowly breathe in “But because of that, you’re going to get yourself hurt… or maybe even worse! I’m not going let you hurt yourself like this.” They explain walking pass her and turning around to face her
Reimu smirks “And what are you going to do?” She places her free hand on her hip
’I can’t believe what I’m going to do…’ They stare at Reimu, their body tensing
Reimu herself bring her broom before her “Try anything and you will regret it.” She warns
Both kids stand against each other, eye-to-eye, Reimu with her cold and determine eyes against Jesse’s anxious but hidden resolute eyes.
“From how you talked, I have a feeling you’re stronger than me,” Jesse says evenly
Reimu simply smiles “You would be right.” She says
Jesse nods “But I know how to beat you.” They boast
“Oh, this should be good, how?” She asks
They breathe in and out reading their body “All I have to do is…”
Jesse suddenly turns around and sprints to the blossom tree as fast as they can
They hear Reimu shouting “Hey!” Jesse didn’t bother to look back
’…Would Keine do the same?’ Memories of Keine begin to reemerge in their mind
’Now that I think about it if she didn’t care about me, why did she try to stop me from entering Kenji’s house?’
They turn around the corner of the shrine and sees the tree in sight
’But right now I have to deal with that tree. Hopefully, Reimu’s courage rubbed off on me!’
Jesse right hand begins to glow preparing to mind link with the tree
Reimu roars from around the corner, aggressively limping after them “J! Don’t you dare!”
Ignoring her order, Jesse touch the tree, feeling their mind connecting with the evil being
Like last time, Jesse finds themselves burry in cherry blossom. They slowly stand up making sure not to make any noise to avoid being attacked. Looking around, the scenery is still the same, a floor of cherry blossoms with a tree standing in the distance.
Jesse’s mind begins to wonder during the trek ’Ugh, now I feel like a hypocrite for leaving Reimu behind, but what else was I supposed to do? Bring an injured person with me?’ They shake their head
’At least with Keine, I wasn’t going to slow her down.’ They sigh softly ’Hopefully Reimu will get better when I-‘
Their whole body suddenly went against their will, unable to move ’W-what’s happening!? I can’t move!’ Their mind began to race ’This didn’t happen before! So why can’t I…?’
A pink glow brightens enough to catch Jesse’s attention. They realize that they could move their eyes. In the distance from where the pink glow is coming from, Jesse spots a little girl all tie up reminds them how they found Kenji, but what is different is a single eye rooted right above the girl’s head staring at them. It’s the source of the pink light.
’Is that thing the reason I can’t move?’ They thought
The eye fires a beam larger than Jesse’s torso at an extreme speed! It hits Jesse’s chest pushing them back as they scream in pain. The beam begins to push Jesse into the ground ripping the back of their shirt, causing a carpet burn as the beam plows them into the ground while also kicking up petals and particles into the air. Soon the beam sputters out of existence only leaving a trench of dirt where Jesse was drag through the ground, petals slowly falling and smoke covering the area.
Jesse groans in pain, slowly lifting their head up to check the damage. The clothing is now charred barely holding together with large holes. Their skin did not fare any better either, it looks identical to the shirt, burnt and flaky making Jesse gag at the disgusting sight. Strangely enough, there is no smell of charred skin
’…H-how am I alive?!’ Their breathing begins to go uneven, but their hand starts burning up again forcing them to stay calm ’I can’t panic now! Perhaps since this is the mind link world I can take a hit without dying?’ They struggle but were successfully able to stand up
They couldn’t see through the smoke ’It’s a different creature than before, but maybe it also has a weakness like the previous creature.’
’I can move now, but I need to come up with a plan before the smoke settle down!’
’If I have to take a guess, that eye stops me from moving.’ They thought as they run their hand over their hair
’It looked at me before I saw it, so keeping my eyes closed won’t help.’ The smoke begins to dissipate
Jesse looks around trying to get an idea ’This world is so open! There is nowhere to hide!’ Their breathing hastens with the burning sensation on their left hand again
As they look down to the ground, examining the trench that they made being cover up by the cherry blossoms that were gently floating down. Like lightning, an idea struck Jesse’s head, they snatch a petal from the air and let it fall only to grab it again before it hit the ground again.
“I told Keine that this world is made of thoughts and desires.” Jesse recalls “Dreams are usually made of those two, so if I were to change my desires and think in a different way…”
Jesse holds the petal on the palm of their hand ’But is this even a good idea to try now, of all time!?’ They close their eyes
If it doesn’t work then I might die, but I can’t think of anything else!’ Their eyebrow scrunches as they try to concentrate, sweat begins to roll down their face out of nervousness
Jesse turns their hand sideways letting the petal fall, but instead of down it went forward. The cherry blossoms begin to move forward as well as if rolling down the floor. Jesse crouches down and tucks themselves to a ball and felt a familiar force pulling them toward the tree
“I-it’s working! I’m shifting gravity!” They exclaim as they began to roll off the ground and free fall
The tree’s eye widens in surprise seeing a human cannonball speeding towards it. A beam attack erupts from the eye hitting Jesse but failing to hit center mass causing them to roll off the beam and begin to spin like a human top at a dangerous speed.
’It doesn’t matter if I miss! In fact, it’s even better!’ Jesse passes by the tree “Because you’re the one pulling me!” They shout before curving around the tree than being slingshot away from the tree creating more speed
The eye looks on as the human cannonball lunches off to the horizon further then it can see confuse at what just happened
’Since this is just a dream, I don’t have to follow logic!’ They grin
As they continue soaring through the air, the pull from behind begins to pull them forward. If Jesse could see, they would see the back of the tree coming into view. The tree’s eye begins to look around wondering where the human went, but before it could realize, Jesse slams into the back with enough force to go all the way through the tree and bursting through the eye with ease.
Jesse shifts gravity back to normal causing them to crash into the ground and skidding across it creating a second trench much longer than the first
“…Ow.” They mutter trying to stand up, but their body couldn’t comply
Due to the spinning, Jesse begins puking on the ground as they try to keep their body stable. Finally standing up, Jesse immediately falls back down for being too dizzy with their view always moving. Jesse decides to lay on their back staring at the sky waiting to recover.
“After this one, only six will be left…” Jesse mumbles looking at the clear pink sky “A quarter of a way there.” They clench their hand
A minute pass and Jesse slowly stand up making sure not push their luck in this world. Where they landed is not too far from what’s left of the tree. The eye or more specifically, where the eye was now replaced with a hole that is slightly bigger than the eye.
Jesse shudder ’Thank goodness it didn’t have any blood’ Then a curious question pops in their head ’But what happens if someone dies in this world anyway?’ They shake their head “Focus Jesse, someone needs your help.” They say stopping in front of a girl who is entangled in vines with cherry blossoms blooming on it.
The well-dress girl seems to have slept through the whole chaos with no scratch on her. Jesse breathes in then exhales through their nose, getting ready for the last obstacle. They grab the bud and pull on it. Like before, the bud begins to lash its vine-like tentacles out at Jesse’s arm although they ignore the pain and the cries of the girl in pain and continue pulling with all their might.
Finally, Jesse pulls the bud out of the girl stopping her from crying more. They chuck the bud away looking on as it dissipates into dust. Jesse checks on the girl one final time, seeing as she is okay, they end the mind link.
The tree Jesse had their hand begins to fade to nothing leaving behind the small girl with long black hair and fancy clothing. Jesse opens their eyes, the first thing they do is checking on their body making sure that their power didn’t somehow transfer the damages into real life
They release a sigh of relief “Thank goodness, it didn’t actually happ- “A wooden object slams on top of their head causing them to yelp
“Ow! Reimu!?” Jesse guesses as they turn around rubbing their scalp to find Reimu staring them down with her broom at hand “What was that for?!” They ask as the pain begins to fade away
Reimu points the broom at Jesse “For being stupid, that’s what.” She answers obviously not please of their plan. “Don’t try to be a hero and let the professional handle it.” She gestures to herself
Jesse rolls their eyes “Look, can we talk about this later? This girl need help.” They point to the girl lying on the ground
Reimu stares at the unconscious girl and set the broom down “…Fine, carry her to the shrine, after we get her in, I’m going to take a quick nap though.” She says mostly to herself, grabbing the small girl by the leg
She looks to Jesse “Well? You’re going to help or are you tired out?” She asks, but Jesse isn’t sure if she was mocking them Jesse shuffles “What about the pain?” They ask
Reimu shrugs “I’m feeling better now with the tree gone. And with you helping this should be no problem.” She reasons
Jesse insists “Are you sure? I could carry her myself.” They say
The Miko eyes narrow “Just get over here and help me!” she orders getting tired of Jesse’s questioning
Jesse apologizes and went to grab under the girl’s arms as Reimu makes sure that she has a good hold on the girl’s legs. They raise the girl up and begin their walk back to the shrine.
“I’ll be honest with you J,” Reimu spoke up grabbing Jesse attention “I wasn’t expecting you to deal with the tree so quickly.” She says
“Oh, that? In the mind link world, times seem to be faster than the real world.” Jesse explains
Reimu hums a response but didn’t go any further in her questions “I see,” They make a turn around the corner of the shrine reaching the front. After entering the shrine, they set the girl down on the futon that Jesse waked up on.
“There we go, now I can finally take a much-needed nap," Reimu calls out her walking seeming more sluggish before carrying the girl
Jesse nods “Okay, but when should I wake you up?” They say as they place a blanket over the student’s shoulder
“Noon.” She opens the door to her room and enters it
Now by themselves, Jesse sighs and take off their jacket setting it over their book pack that is in the corner of the living room. Next, they search through their bag and found their notebook and a pencil to write. Walking to the entrance of the shrine and sitting down, Jesse begins to write
Where do I even begin?
Jesse stops for a moment thinking back to Ran
I guess I can start with Ran or at least what she told me, Maybe I was hiding it from myself, but I couldn’t believe what she told me, how many of those people are missing, and how many came here? Is there even a way to save them?
I can’t imagine how many people died here, without anyone knowing. What was going on in their head when they appear here? I feel sick saying this but, I hope they were already dead. If they weren’t, my mind would only assume the worst.
Jesse left-hand starts to twitch
God, just thinking how many people being eaten is terrifying… I think it would be best for me to assume they were dead before coming here.
They take a deep breath and then exhale, they look to their bandage left hand. The bandage itself seem close to falling off
And then there’s Ran, she put some sort of spell on my hand, the pain was unbearable, and I passed out, but I remember what she said to me before I did. ‘It was for my own good,’ or something like that. Well, what else was I supposed to do!? Just be okay with what she told me? How would she feel if her kind is being eaten!
’…The bandage is starting to peel off, I don’t feel any pain on my hand, so maybe it’s okay to take it off? Might as well as see what she put on my hand.’
Jesse begins to tug on the bandage, but stops, anger surging through them
’Why should I bother? Ran is a youkai, why should I even try to understand her? It’s not like everything will get better even if I did…’
Jesse huffs and fastens the bandage keeping it from falling off by itself. After a quick turn of their hand to make sure there are no loose spots, Jesse resumes writing only to find that their journal is missing
“Huh?” They look to their other side, but found nothing “Where did it go?” They say as they look under the porch
“How sweet, a child looking for their parents.” A familiar voice spoke up startling Jesse
Frantically looking up, Jesse sees half of a woman’s hanging in the air reading their journal “Gah!” They stumble onto their back
The woman gives a friendly smile and waves “It’s good to see you too J.” She says
Memories begin to flow back to Jesse “Yukari,” They say softly looking into her eyes, the same mischievous eyes
“You’re…” Annoyance flash in Jesse’s eyes “Stop reading through my journal!” They shout jumping trying to snatch it back
Yukari quickly raises her hand up “Nope~” She sang as Jesse misses to grab their journal
“Come on! Don’t you have something better to do than invading my privacy!?” They shout now trying to jump higher
The woman thoughtfully places her hand on her chin “Well now that you mention it, there is something I want to ask.” She says lowering the gap to reveal the other half of her body.
“Can you at least ask me rather than invading my privacy!?” They shout
Yukari giggles “Sorry, a force of habit!” She sits down on the porch holding the journal out for Jesse to take
Jesse grabs the journal “…So why are you here? Aren’t shrines suppose to be yokai-free or something?” They ask
She shrugs “When the god of this shrine gains enough faith then perhaps.” She pats the area next to her “But enough about that, I came here to talk to you.” She says
Jesse stand still for a moment, thinking their options ’…I did say I would give her chance…’ after making their decision, they sat next to Yukari at arms distance
A genuine smile spread across Yukari’s face
“So, what is it?” They ask as they place their journal in their pocket
“I wanted to know how you’re feeling.” She says as she opens a gap
“Huh?” The sudden concern of their well-being surprises them “Oh well, I… I’m not sure really.” They admit
Yukari pulls out a tray that has two cups and a teapot “That’s understandable, this is not a place for someone your age.” She sets the tray between them “Tea?” She offers
Jesse nods and grabs a cup “Thank you,” They say
After pouring tea on both cups, they begin to drink “Tell me Jesse, how come only you can see the trees?” She calmly asks
Jesse’s hand being to grow warm “I don’t know,” They quickly say
“Are you sure about that? Don’t you find it odd?” Yukari presses on
“Y-yeah, but I don’t know why,” Jesse states as they drink the tea, calming them a bit
Yukari slowly takes a sip from her cup “I think you do know why you just don’t want to believe it.” She observes
Jesse says nothing as their hand begin to get hotter
“There is also the question of how the trees are able to be anywhere in such a short amount of time.” She points out
“…Why are you telling me this Yukari?” They ask quietly setting their cup down on the tray
She also sets her cup down “I’m doing this because I don’t want this to fester in your mind, the more you reject it, the louder it will be.” She explains
“Now tell me Jesse, who is behind the kidnapping of the students?” Yukari asks
Jesse gets off the porch “Look, my parents are good people, they wouldn’t kidnap anyone and do this!” They state
Yukari leans back with the support of her arms, looking up to the sky “Perhaps, but do you believe your parents has at least some connection?” She asks
Jesse’s hand begins to cool down “Maybe if someone or something is forcing them to do it, like the tree.” They admit
Yukari looks back to Jesse with a satisfied smile “Good, good, I was worried you would reject the idea.” She says
Jesse begins to walk back and forth “Yeah, that means I could sense them too if the tree is controlling them too!” They exclaim
Yukari smiles “Your welcome by the way.” She says grabbing her cup again
“Ah, y-yeah thank you, Ms. Yukari.” Jesse bows their head “But now that I think about it, where would they be? They can be anywhere in this world.” They scratch their chin
The youkai chuckles “Fortunately Gensokyo is not even as big as Japan, and I believe I know the location of two trees” She takes a sip from her cup
“You do!?” Jesse asks, excitement creeping in their voice
Yukari nods “I’m predicting the other two who help stopped the blooming of Saigyou will be targeted as well.” She points out
Jesse smiles “That’s great! Who are those two?”
She shows one finger “Marisa Kirisame, Reimu’s friend,” Then she raises another finger “and Sakuya Izayoi, a maid at the Scarlet Devil Mansion.”
“Okay, we could work with this, but what about the other students?” Jesse asks
Yukari opens a gap with two crows exiting out “With the help of Zenki and Goki, I can find anything suspicious!” She states
Jesse begins to scratch their chin ’Who should I find first though?’
Jesse scratches their chin “Reimu told me a bit about Marisa, so we should find her first.” They conclude
Yukari smirk “Trying to butter Reimu up eh?” She says as her two crows fly off in two different direction
Jesse quickly shake their head “Of course not! It’s just… where the maid is working doesn’t sound friendly to humans.” They explain
The youkai stands up “Relax Jesse, with Reimu and soon Marisa on your side, no youkai would dare to take you.” She places her hand on their shoulder
The human slowly nods feeling confident now “Okay, now we just have to wait for Reimu to wake up and then use your portal to get there.” They say
Yukari’s smile falters for a second “I can do that but remember Jesse you’ll have to find the tree yourself in that forest.” Jesse gives a firm nod
Her eyes widen “Oh, I almost forgot!” She opens a gap and pulls out a gas mask “Here,” She passes it to them
Jesse looks at the mask in confusion “Uh thanks?” They say grabbing it
“The Forest of Magic is a dangerous place for humans due to monsters and of the poison release from the mushroom that grows there” Yukari explains
“And this Marisa lives there?” Jesse asks “Why?” they say now in fear of her safety
Yukari looks off in the distance as if something got her attention “Some humans become rather invested in their dreams, wouldn’t you agree?” She says
Jesse recalls why they came to Gensokyo “…Yeah,”
Suddenly a woman’s voice shouts out “Jesse get away from her!” Jesse turns around in the same direction, Yukari was staring off to
“Keine?” They call out seeing her soaring through the air towards them. What got their concern is that the teacher’s cloth seems damage and her hat was missing.
“Keine! Are you alright!?” Jesse shouts walking towards where Keine is coming from
The teacher slows down as she comes closer, only stopping in short distance of Jesse. She grabs their hand, pulling them to go father from Yukari.
“Oh? What exactly did you plan next after this?” The yokai smirks “You know I was just planning on finding you, History Eater.” She says
Keine glares at her ignoring her taunt “Are you behind this?” she accuses
As Jesse tries to answer, Yukari beat them to the punch “That depends, on what?” she goads
Keine narrow her eyes “My students! Where did you take them?” she points at her
Jesse steps in while Keine still kept a firm hold on their wrist “Wait, she’s your suspect Keine?” They ask now confused
She shakes her head “The other one wasn’t the culprit, Yukari here is the second suspect.” She states
Yukari reach for her sleeve, making Keine tense, and pulls out a fan using it to cover her mouth “Now what use would I have with your kids?” She questions
Keine says nothing, she only stares into Yukari’s eyes silently judging her
The silent prove too much to Jesse “Keine, I think we should trust her.” They spoke up
She shakes her head “I wouldn’t trust her if she was the last person of this world!” She declares “She’s a ruthless youkai that sees everyone as a tool to be used and discarded when no longer useful!” Keine exclaims
Yukari closes her fan and points at her with it “I’ll have you know Keine, that I treat my tools with at most care.” She says seeming somewhat insulted of Keine’s accusation
“That’s… not helping you,” Jesse comments “Anyway, for this situation, Yukari is the one that gave me the ability to speak Japanese.” They explain
Keine looks back “You remember Jesse?” They nod
She stares at Jesse than back to Yukari who is waving at her “…Alright” she sighs
Yukari claps her hand “Excellent! But there’s one small problem now.” Yukari says
Jesse’s hand grew warm “What is it?” ask now worry
“The humans in the village are growing restless with the student’s disappearance” She explains “If nothing is done about it, it could be terrible for everyone involved.”
Keine crosses her arm together “What do you want to do about it?” She asks
Yukari walks closer to Keine “I have eyes and ears everywhere, but now I need hands and yours will be perfect.” She says to Keine
Keine says nothing, waiting to what the gap youkai’s ‘request’ will be.
Yukari opens a gap and pulls out a stack of papers “This here is all the children’s record from their birth certificate to entering your school, use your power to get rid of it” She hands it to Keine
The statement confuses Jesse, but notice how Keine’s body went rigid “What will happen if she does that?” They ask
Yukari looks over to Jesse “When she does it, the people at the village will have no memories of the students.” She explains
“People don’t forget what I cover, I can only conceal from sight.” Keine immediately correct her
Yukari wags her finger “Not with that attitude! I know the true extent of your power Keine, you’re just hiding it.” She says
“You want the students to be liquefied!?” Jesse eyes widen at the implication of the power “Is it permanent?” They ask
“Only as long as we need it to be, to save the students.” Yukari answers
“Why not just tell them the truth though why go through all this?” Jesse asks as Keine’s grip on the papers tighten
“If we do that, people will be in rage instead of fearing the youkai.” Keine explains “Battle would ensue with heavy losses on both sides.” She says
Jesse says nothing unsure how to feel about this situation
“…I’ll do it, but you’ll have to wait for the moon to rise, you also stole Kenji’s paper as well even though he’s safe.” Keine says as she looks at the first paper on the stack
Then Jesse remembers “Oh Keine! I found another student that was placed here!” They exclaim pointing inside the shrine catching Keine’s attention
A smile is brought to her face and she bows to Jesse “Thank you, Jesse! It seems I’ll have to rely on you to save my students.” She says, “Now if the both of you excuse me,” Keine goes into the shrine to see who the second student is.
Now it just Yukari and Jesse “I guess she’s at full power when it’s night?” Jesse says to themselves
“When it’s the full moon to be more specific,” Yukari corrects
Jesse shuffles around unsure how to feel about this situation “Something feels off,” They say
Yukari raise an eyebrow “What would that be?” She asks
“Well, how would there be great losses?” They ask, “Ran told me that there is more youkai than humans, so why would it be a great loss for youkai?”
Yukari says nothing, but then chuckles “Jesse, have you wonder why there are humans here in the first place?” She asks
They shake their head “No, but now that I think about it, is there a point?”
“Of course, there is! All youkai requires human belief to exist if all the humans die so will youkai as well.” She explains
Jesse frowns “But why do some need to eat humans?” They ask
Yukari shakes her head “You’re thinking it wrong Jesse, youkai is made out of a belief it’s our body, what a youkai eats depend on what type they are.” She says
Jesse places their hand on their chin “Interesting…” They say
While the conversation to Jesse is interesting, their worry for Keine outgrew it “Anyway Yukari, I should see how Keine is doing.” They say, “I’m a little worry about those injuries she had on her.”
To Jesse surprise, Yukari pouts “Leaving me for another woman? You’re the worst Jesse.” She says with a faux tone of sadness
Jesse couldn’t help but laugh at her small play “Sorry, sorry, but I just want to see how she is holding.” They explain looking over to the shrine
She shrugs “If you believe that’s the best course of action than I won’t stop you.” She says “I’ll be here until then.” She sits back down on the porch refilling her cup with tea
Jesse walks up to the stairs and enters the shrine, the table is cover in papers of all the student’s paper. The teacher herself is sitting down, with the small girl still sleeping in the futon. Keine wore a grateful smile when she notices Jesse enter
Jesse smiles back “It’s good to see you again Keine.” They say happy to see a familiar face making a bow to her
Keine stands up and bows back “Thank you for saving Yuki, Jesse.” She says
Now seeing Keine standing up, Jesse sees her battle damage clothing “Your welcome, by the way, Keine, what happened to your clothing?” Jesse asks
Keine looks up “Huh? O-oh this?” She then looks down on her damage clothing “I fought the first suspect in a duel and won, but unfortunately, she wasn’t the one.” She explains
She looks to Jesse “What about your hand Jesse?” She points at their bandage hand
Jesse frowns recalling the incident “…I really don’t want to talk about that.” They say, anger and sadness lingering in their mind with the tremendous pain burning into their flesh, they couldn’t help but shudder.
Keine eyes widen “Jesse… was it when you were coming to the shrine?” she bit her lip fearing that she failed her duty again. Jesse didn’t respond making Keine assumes the worst.
Her heart feels heavy, a burning sensation travels over her body as she stood up “I’m so sorry Jesse if I had known, I would’ve come with you.” Shame fills her body for failing to protect her students and leading Jesse into danger and all in the span of two days.
Jesse felt a bitter feeling in their mouth “Keine,” They say grabbing her attention “You didn’t have control of it and even if you did, you didn’t know that it happened. So, don’t blame yourself.” They point out
Keine hesitates, then gives a reluctant nod “I see what you mean Jesse, but I feel as I should have done more.” She says
An idea struck Jesse mind “Why not join me and Reimu in finding your students?” They suggest
She gives a wistful smile “I would love to Jesse, but I can’t.” She states surprising Jesse. Before they could ask, Keine continues “I cultivated myself as an image of safety, when surrounded by numerous youkai, the people look up to me as their protector. If they notice how frequently or how long I leave they will worry.” She says even though in her mind she feels that she failed in her duty
Jesse slowly nods “That’s understandable,” They say
Keine stands up from the table “Which is why Jesse, I have a request.” She walks toward them
She grabs their hand and cups them together “Please save them,” She pleads “My only wish is to see them all safe and sound.” She says
Jesse understood this pain all too well, memories, when he was by himself, begin to resurge, the turmoil of never knowing if their parents would ever come back were the worst two weeks of their life. Jesse looks into Keine’s eye noting that they seem puffy.
They give a firm nod “I will,” They say with resolution
“Thank you… thank you,” She repeated with a shaky voice
Jesse reaches and wraps their arm around Keine’s neck pulling her down for a hug. This action surprises Keine, but she hugs back in appreciation.
“I know what it’s like when someone you care for goes missing. It’s a horrible feeling, but I swear on my family name that I will save them.” They swore as they hug her tighter.
Keine wonder what exactly Jesse went through to know that, but decides not to ask “Thank you, Jesse.” She says
They both let go from the hug with renewing conviction to continue walking forward in their life.
Then a loud yawn is heard from the next room. The door slides open revealing to be Reimu stretching her arms “Hmm? Who are you?” She asks Keine
Keine gives a bow “My name is Keine Kamishirasawa and I’m sorry for barging into your house shrine maiden, but I needed somewhere to rest.” She says
Reimu stares at Keine “Did you at least make a donation?” She asks seeming not to care much about her apology.
Keine shakes her head “Ah, not yet, but I will soon after I finish organizing these papers” She says
Reimu looks to Jesse for confirmation to which they nod “I believe her,” They say
She looks back to Keine “Alright, just make sure you clean up after yourself.” She says
Reimu begins to walk out of her shrine “J, we’re heading out.” She gestures them to follow
“Oh? Where are we going?” They ask
She shrugs “I don’t know, I’m hoping we’ll find the problem along the way.” She says
Jesse didn’t like the idea at all “Why not we go to Marisa’s house?” They suggest surprising Reimu
They point outside “I was talking to Yukari and she mentions that the tree is probably out to get the both of you and the girl name Sakuya.” They say
Reimu eyes widen “The hag is actually helping?” She says catching Jesse and Keine by surprise
“Don’t act too shock Reimu, that tree is a problem to everyone,” Yukari calls out from outside
Reimu groans in annoyance “Great,” She says
“Anyway, we should get going now. The faster we deal with the tree, the better.” Jesse advice
“What about her?” Reimu points to the sleeping girl
Keine spoke up “I’m her teacher so I will bring her back to the village.” She says
Yukari walks to the front door “It seems like everyone is ready, shall we go?” She asks
Reimu and Jesse look to each other and nod “Yeah,” Jesse says