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File 152880674018.png - (2.19MB, 1000x1414, Ibuki Suika.png) [iqdb]
66462 No. 66462
♫: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JRj1EfwRnQI

The story of...

THREAD 1 >>65260
THREAD 2 >>65548
THREAD 3 >>65922
Expand all images
>> No. 66465
File 152881174538.png - (3.59MB, 1500x2104, warm weather rematch.png) [iqdb]
66465
[X] He tried to avoid her, and flew instead to Youmu.


Gen pulled his hand from her face.

“Keep quiet, Aomu. I’m going to stay out the way of her.” He said this, and began moving, a long way, toward the gate.

“Haven’t had enough sneaking...?” the kappa asked, before doing as he instructed.

He watched Sakuya carefully, and began to wonder about the three in front of her. What are they? he thought.

Aomu seemed to have been looking at his face, as she tugged at his coat to show him another device of hers, held awkwardly atop the mapping invention. This one seemed to be a PDA of some sort, and on it she had typed: “I think they’re ghosts”.

Ghosts? Would those be in or around the Netherworld? Slipping into a cloud (of which, really, there were absurdly many here) he thought about this, and decided it was unlikely: the Netherworld itself was not a place for ghosts, but for departed souls awaiting another world and another life. Ghosts lingered on Earth, not yet awaiting passing on.

At any rate it was impressive, he thought, that Miss Sakuya had taken out three enemies in a battle of danmaku at once. If he decided to talk to her about this Incident after when all would be said and done, this would be something to ask about. He neared the giant doors, having made it past the maid. He wanted to just stay there and appreciate the feeling of being nothing before a thing so immense, but instead determined that he must not wait and instead ascend to make his way for the top. From there he would see if the barrier could simply be... flown over. He nodded to himself, somewhat sure of his plan. The maid then tapped him on the shoulder.

“Wah!!” Gen shouted shortly and let go of Aomu, who shouted at length while clutching a hand at his vest. He recovered quickly and took hold of her again, looking at Sakuya who was just behind him.

“Where are you going, Gen?” she asked, politely. And then, “With a kappa no less,” she added.

“S-Sakuya...” he nervously spoke, “I...”

Gen looked to the side, to nowhere in the sky, and did not know what to say. Could he say he hadn’t seen her? That he had, but was feeling tricky? Why would he have gone past her? For glory and praise at the mansion? To surprise her? What business could he say he had in the Netherworld otherwise? He squeezed at Aomu, attempting to relieve stress.

“Now, where are you looking?” the maid asked, and then said “There’s nothing over there.” When he didn’t answer, she continued. “Does a cat have your tongue...? ... Hm, did you not see me? Ah, or perhaps, you saw me but were in a prankster’s mood? Why did you go past me? Maybe to impress Lady Patchouli and Mistress Remilia? To surprise me past the gate? I wonder, what business could you have in the Netherworld otherwise?”

Without a word in return, Gen continued to grip his kappa.

Sakuya observed and said, “You seem stressed.”

The maid took out her pocket watch, one he’d seen her play with time and again so frequently, so lightly and almost always almost unseen, that he suspected it told no time at all. Still, she seemed to using it to check, and when she closed it said: “Gen, I have a bad feeling about you today.”

“Well... Miss... Sakuya, I don’t believe that’s warranted,” he replied with a lie he could hardly cover. Aomu was trembling, with her face in his stomach. He put a hand on her head.

“... I think I’ve seen enough,” Sakuya judged, putting the watch away after seeing his gesture. She shook her head, and she sighed. “Oh, Gen...” she began, looking into his face, “you know, I think I get on with Reimu a bit well now. She’s told me, when an Incident is about you can expect to have five encounters before the last, when the culprit shows themselves. I... have a feeling I haven’t even met this culprit’s second hand, yet, and I have clashed one, two...” she counted on her fingers, “four times of note so far. That would leave two more but...”

A light shined between them, and he saw that Sakuya had brought up a knife and pointed it to the lump in his throat.

“... why do I feel,” she asked, wearing a near-sad smile, “that you’re giving me more work to do?”

Words rose in his mind, but his heart stopped them from passing his lips. Although he knew he had to be rid of Sakuya now, without the idea of “play” between them, he couldn’t bring himself to pull that trigger.

Sakuya saw his Adam’s apple bob, and looked into his eyes again. “Gen,” she said, simply, “everybody knows.”

And with that confirmation, it felt to him like there was poison numbing the inside of his mouth, draining into his throat, filling his lungs and stomach and chest. He grimaced, and she continued.

“We wondered: will he keep it ‘secret’?” she said, pulling the knife back behind her neck. “Or will things happen like they will today?”

The maid opened her palm, and three more knives appeared between her fingers.

“I will not play with you here, Gen. There isn’t any time left for me to clean up after your mess.”

“I can clean up after myself, Sakuya,” he found his voice, and was deliberate in his lack of honorific. “I don’t want to fight you, but would you even trust me to solve this on my own?”

She shook her head. “No, Gen.”

“I suppose after trying to avoid you, you won’t let us work together either.”

“Your hand in this is too warm,” she said. “You care more about that girl involved in this Incident than you care about resolving it.”

He did not answer.

“Then, alright Gen,” said the Maid of the Devil, “you, too, are a resident of Scarlet Devil Mansion. You know as well as I do how to act. That’s why we’re both here. That’s why...”

The two locked their stares again. Aomu, still gripping like Gen held her life in his hands (and he might), gazed into the other human’s face.

“... you have to stop me!”

[ ♫: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ULozNxBkkzY ]

The spell on his mind finally reached his lips, old words rapidly leaving his mouth, and then the surrounding clouds were returned to water. Sakuya, at so short range, threw her knives.

Aomu pushed from his chest, dropping her things to the earth. She almost fell out of his hands as well, but remained and drew the sky-water fast toward her—too fast, with speed that could make it cut stone. She used it to reduce the knives, making them split and shatter. Sakuya saw this and the new playing field (one of floating lakes and streams) and retreated far back and below in two blinks of an eye. The kappa, panting heavily, looked up at her partner with eyes begging for an explanation. He only continued to spellweave.

And then, a book on his waist having flipped open, the water in the air began to rush.

“Will this do?” he asked, still looking sternly at Sakuya, who was looking sternly back.

“Eh? You...?” Aomu began, looking out to what he had done. A wild formation of cloud water was bending and turning madly before and long around them, reaching far over their heads and under their feet. Or, at least, that was Aomu’s immediate impression. On further examination, she saw a clear and manmade architecture to the flowing water. The kappa put a hand to her upper arm, and then to her stomach, and looked at the magician saying, “It’s not ideal, but...”

“I’ll have to ask your help again, Aomu,” he begged. She shut her eyes, looked into his, and nodded once. So, he let her go.

What?” Sakuya commented, watching the dark-haired kappa fall. The youkai held her jacket with both her hands, her eyes very closed again, and then stopped in midair. Breathing fast, she opened her eyes once more, and then her arms wide. The maid glared and shot forward as water tumbled down after her in collapsing fury, as if a dam had been ruptured. She rolled left suddenly, and a beam of light that had threated to run through her ran past her instead, slipping into the distance. She looked up and saw her fellow human, casting spells above them.

“I want to end this without any harm, Aomu!” Gen called. “Easier said than done, I know, but I swear this: that’s what I want, and I’ll have it by these hands!”

“Human idiot...” Aomu answered, hands still aloft. She gave him one more despondent look before returning her attention to Sakuya and beginning to ascend along with her friend. They went toward the top of the gate; Sakuya would not allow it. She pulled a card from thin air, and said its name.

“Time Sign,” she declared, flying fast, “Tunnel Effect.”

She threw out a circle of knives, and then blinked away.

“Right from the start, of course...” the apprentice commented, he breathed out and saw a new army of knives where she had vanished, while the maid herself was a little bit closer than before. He opened another of his books, and began to call for another spell.

“Stay safe!” he heard Aomu shout, and he glanced to see her fly straight into a bend of water. Although it was being supported by his magic, her body took to it all the same as it would a normal river, and submerged there she looked much more self-assured. Sakuya seemed to want to ignore her, firing all her knives and giant bullets his way instead, but the kappa kept a careful and yet concerning rain of water on her all the way she went. She would thus blink forward with her time manipulation seemingly only to avoid Aomu’s barrage, rather than to keep pace with him. Still, the assault of her spell card followed doggedly and soon enough reached him. While maintaining his incantation as best as he was able (through grit teeth and with eyes wild to every knife and bullet coming his way), he engaged the storm of bullets and blades and would not be hit.

He flew himself right, mainly, daggers flying through his coat and trying to pin him there, ripping the cloth apart. When he saw that this way would eventually lead him to a wall of danmaku, he pushed his foot against the Netherworld door, and with magic of wind and his own flight soared all the way to the other side of the gate with blearing speed. Knife and knife and knife after knife plunged into the wood where he had only just been, while boulders of magic slammed into the door like furious knocking. He completed his spell, and water and light combined, forming liquid crystals of obfuscation.

Sakuya, divided in her attention, nonetheless noticed this action. She made a noise of confusion as her vision shifted, but this proved to be for her a very badly timed pause. Aomu, underwater and motioning like she was swinging a bat in her hands (with effort, as if said bat was immense and weighty), swung a column of water that rivaled the size of the pillars surrounding them. She aimed for the maid, and with ease Sakuya was consumed. Without waiting for the effect this had, Aomu began to swim through the air streams faster than Gen could fly, passing him in seconds with a wink as she did so. She crested water above the gate in a splash, and saw the next world out before her. She opened her mouth to make a noise of admiration, but this proved to be for her a very badly timed pause.

At the waters below her Sakuya appeared outside of the turn, and for a frozen moment she was surrounded by spheres of liquid that quickly fell away. Where she had been, knives exploded outward in two volleys and all directions, accompanied by her giant bullets, splitting and bulldozing any liquid in their paths. The artificial river was almost instantly severed. With this, Gen’s magic was disrupted, and the kappa immediately felt it and despaired.

She cried his name, the water breaking up around her and her own small weight now feeling terrifyingly heavy here in the sky. She fell, reaching to that sky like anything in it might hold her, somehow, and a gloved hand found its way to hers at once. Gen, his tattered coat almost tearing from his body for the winds he had cast to cannon himself here, grabbed hold. Aomu put her other hand over the top of his while tears fell out her eyes. He pulled her up, pulling himself backward and taking them both crash-land on top of the door.

They fell in a tumble, Gen holding the girl tightly and trying to have his body receive the most of the blows from their rolling. At the end, now he was breathing fast. He picked himself up from the dark grain below him and saw that the door was not only wide, but a field’s length thick as well. He supported Aomu, bringing her onto her hands and knees.

“Haa... h-haa... haa... haa... Uuh...” the little kappa breathed, still crying. He kept his hand to her back, and looked toward Gensokyo to see Sakuya flying up after them.

The Maid of the Devil looked particularly menacing to him now, and he wondered if it was her crimson scarf or just the way the light from the world of the living shone behind her. Her confidence in her posture, despite her body dripping wet, also told him that all of that he and Aomu had done down there wasn’t close to enough. He had wasted much of his spirit, and what fuels he still had left had very limited application.

“I’m wondering if you’ll ever change, Gen,” she said, looking at him.

“I think I have changed very much,” he replied, standing and reluctantly pulling away his hand. Sakuya descended, a ways away from him, landing on the door as well.

“When we first fought,” she began, ignoring his claim, “you were on the ground, and I wasn’t.”

“I technically wasn’t either,” he remarked.

“The point stands: you couldn’t fly. I’ve never felt good about it, actually,” she admitted. “So, let’s fight here, like this, on the ground.”

“Technically,” he started, laughing once, “this isn’t the ground either.”

“Look to the other world,” Sakuya said. “There is spring.”

He looked: she was right.

In a night-darkened, hilly and barren purple landscape, a sun he could not see also lighting it in places blood red, a stairway on the horizone ascended even higher than they were now (although in its realm those steps cut through no clouds). At the top beckoning over a thousand cherry blossoms from places beyond the barrier was a glowing and resplendent tree that stood at what seemed even from this vantage point to be an impossible height. A pleasant draft breathed over them. That was it: the Saigyou Ayakashi, and by his measure...

“It nears full bloom, that tree you’ve been reading about,” Sakuya said. “I think I’ll have to stop it for more than bad weather then, hmm?”

“Sakuya,” Gen began, “I’m sorry about all this.”

“Don’t apologize now,” she told him. “Do what you think you must, instead, and just like before... Have no regrets.” With the scene of the land of the dead at one side, and the already distant land of the living fading at the other, they thought the same thing. Spring was so close to being retrieved. The pair of humans from the mansion by the lake thus prepared for an honest rematch. She pulled out her knives, and he pulled out a book. They stood there calm on the edge of the world.


[] Defeat Sakuya.

[] Protect Aomu.
>> No. 66466
[x] Protect Aomu.
>> No. 66469
[x] Protect Aomu.

Knew that we were gonna get her directly in the line of fire with people rushing off to Youmu for whatever ridiculous reason after involving an innocent.
>> No. 66470
[X] Defeat Sakuya.

We owe it to Youmu to be the one to stop this incident, not to hand it off to Sakuya. Sorry Aomu.
>> No. 66471
[x] Protect Aomu.

Critical Mission asset. How? I have no proper clue anymore but we bought her here for a reason so darn it we'll make sure she's unharmed!
That and I think both options aren't mutually exclusive.
>> No. 66472
[X] Protect Aomu.

Gotta make sure your friends are safe... said ~73% of anime protagonists.
He did drag her into this.
>> No. 66475
[x] Protect Aomu.

Tough choice... but Youmu got into this mess of her own free will, while Aomu is some random bystander we dragged into things.

And friends are more important than winning. At least, they are when nobody's life is on the line, and I doubt Sakuya wants to cook us.
>> No. 66476
[X] Defeat Sakuya.

We owe her that much.
>> No. 66477
[X] Defeat Sakuya.

Yeah we started this mess with Youmu. We should be the ones to finish and clean it up. We helped cause this situation.
>> No. 66478
Oh thp. Don't you get tired of being so predictable?
>> No. 66479
[x] Protect Kappa
>> No. 66481
>>66478
You tell us, oh anonymous thp poster.
>> No. 66482
[x] Protect Aomu.

Come on now, you don't befriend an adorable Anal Vampire just to let her get hurt like that.
>> No. 66483
[X] Defeat Sakuya.

I just don't care about Aomu.
>> No. 66484
>>66483
Aw :(
>> No. 66485
[x] Protect Aomu.
>> No. 66486
[X] Defeat Sakuya.
>> No. 66487
>>66483

I don't care about Aomu but I care about Youmu even less. Hah!
>> No. 66488
[X] Defeat Sakuya.
>> No. 66489
[X] Defeat Sakuya.
>>66483
idem
>> No. 66490
[x] Protect Kappa
Thats just the kind of man Gen is, and what can I say, she's grown on me.
>> No. 66491
[X] Defeat Sakuya.

We started this, And by damn will we end it
>> No. 66492
[x] Protect Aomu.

I feel like Gen would regret it quite a bit if he didn't at least try to protect her after he dragged her into this.
>> No. 66493
[x] Protect Aomu.

You drag someone into a mess, you take care of them. A little bit of selfishness is okay, but a lot of it just turns you into a sociopathic asshole, and I would not like to see Gen turn into someone as stone-hearted and manipulative as that.
>> No. 66494
File 152927705012.png - (1.65MB, 2100x1032, rescue.png) [iqdb]
66494
For optimal fun, open the image around the second song.

++++++++

[X] Protect Aomu.

[ ♫: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UoUxFuTXjQo ]

Gen turned a page over.

“Alright, Sakuya,” he began, putting a finger to a spell, “let’s have your fight.”

The maid simply answered with her knives. He spoke quickly, and bit his tongue.

After exclaiming “ow!”, strange bright auras began to take form and fold around him, colored yellow, green, red, purple, and blue. Sakuya squinted with recognition on seeing them, but her eyebrow bent that it was surely unfamiliar. On further scrutiny, it was for certain physical material he had summoned, but whatever Gen had spelled was not the Philosopher’s Stone she knew.

Magic of five elements surrounded him, rotating in impressively sized ribbons and cloaking him over all angles. When Sakuya’s first barrage of knives came, they were scattered by those ribbons acting like wavering walls. She looked on and puzzled, feeling this was, again, familiar.

“Want to know how it works?” the magician asked, starting to take off his coat. “You’re right, it’s like Master Patchouli’s grand spell, but I can’t use it offensively. To be honest,” he said, pulling the coat off completely, and she noticed the strange magics shifting oddly at that, “this is more like fairies’ magic. You want to go back to our first fight? Do you remember how it ended?”

As he held the robe over his shoulder and pinched his tongue, the maid glared at him. “You want to fight me while you’re invincible? My word... there should be a limit to how much you can get away with as an outsider.”

“I will certainly be limited,” he admitted, and he slipped his coat onto the kappa behind him.

The kappa flinched, and she spoke up in a faltering voice, “E-Eh? Gen...?”

“Keep that on, alright?” he advised, not looking at her. Then, at a lower volume he said, “But keep in mind that it won’t stop everything.”

“O-Okay...” she acknowledged, bringing his coat around herself more. The magic followed too, and he stepped out of it.

“Now that’s out of the way,” he spoke, walking a little more and rotating his wrists, “I encourage you to not hold back, Sakuya.”

Sakuya was silent for a moment, but soon enough stood up straight and announced, “I wouldn’t have in either case,” before vanishing.

What seemed to be a thousand knives now surrounded him, shining far as he could see like some several-lathered mirror sea. Seeing this he thought ... I must dial back the arrogance, This is excessive. He squinted around the Netherworld door’s top, and reminded himself quickly of what he could do.

Fuels were running somewhat low, and because of his use of the Philosopher’s Aegis just before this moment, anything that could help with his use of fire, water, earth, wood, or metal magic was almost out of the question. The Aegis was a trump card of his for truly desperate situations, and it was magic his Master had told him was almost useless. She was somewhat (or perhaps even more than that) correct: it had some deep flaws to its structure, and was still something he needed to put more research into.

So, he had some leaf-full mixture and aether left for light and air magic respectively. His spirit was perhaps about halfway gone. Light and wind wouldn’t help him right now.

Spirit it is.

The curtains of silver came fast to skewer him, and he spoke with speed again to match it, thinking he soon needed a break on his vocal cords and some honey tea. When his incantation was done and the blades were upon him, he winced at the familiar but still unused-to feeling of draining power from inside him, and scattershot magic translucent and black began to shoot out of his front and back in gem shape bullets. They clashed with the knives, most of them, and allowed the young apprentice to begin moving through to where he believed Sakuya to be. He leapt forward and turned ‘round, ducking for a series of daggers to fly over his head. He slipped through safely, and soon enough spotted his fellow human not many meters away from him. When he did, and she’d noticed, she disappeared again, adding more knives.

The scene above the doorway to the Netherworld thus became a glittering, sharp storm, strange of elegance. He was forced low and to leap more, scanning ever quickly for Sakuya who would not relent, and slipped away whenever he found her.

Not flying here... really causes some problems... he thought. And while I took the spell cards I had from my coat’s sleeves, I don’t think any of them will really help me here. Sakuya is steadfast in her trying to pin me down. He stopped where he was, for a small second safe. He sighed, and made a foolish decision.

He closed his eyes, and spun open his jar of leaves.

At once a high number of knives sliced past him, and he felt that he’d narrowly avoided one. While swinging himself in whatever vague directions he had wagered might constitute “openings” in Sakuya’s “patterns”, he spoke new words for a spell while fiddling with the top of his vial of aether. The black magic he had summoned before saved him regularly, and the maid looked at him doing all this dumbfounded.

Gen might actually die, she thought, standing still and watching. I suppose Lady Patchouli won’t like that.

And though this she determined, she did not stop her knives. She kept him in her gaze instead, listening for perhaps recognizable words in the spell he was casting. She was made to frown again when “lux” passed his lips, and she grit her teeth when his magic became manifest.

The stored light in his leaves exploded forth in simple, powerful luminescence. Any nearby were blinded by the intensity, which was made more pervasive and stunning as it bounded from every one of the maid’s mirrored knives. Sakuya had to shut her eyes, and shortly after doing so she felt a hand on her breast.

“Got you.”

She peeked to see the magician’s apprentice pushing into her with a satisfied grin cut through his face. She could see that a knife had pierced his left leg, another in his right arm, and, apparently, one final in his left side. His eyes were full closed, and she knew at once that this had been his gambit: to confuse her enough to keep her in one remembered place. She thought then to stop time (for what good it could even do with the battlefield too illuminated), but another spell he had prepared was cast before she could accomplish the action. She was so forced, instantly, back.

Wind buffeted her with incredible power and she felt strongly in pain, more as if she had been caught in a riptide than a storm. She worried she would be cast off the door, but soon felt herself being pushed down into its grain instead, and dragged violently backward like she was being used to sand. She tumbled into an eventual but unkind stop, clothes in rags, and looked above to see more magic in the air coming in little bursts of cyclones. She stopped time then.

In a soundless, infinite moment she saw Gen far from her still smiling; hand over where she’d seen a blade in his core. There were about fifteen shots of his magic coming down onto her, and she herself... couldn’t move. She attempted to stand, and only managed to turn from her back to her stomach. She pressed her hand to the ground and pushed, but the agony from his attack had her drop in a stopped second. Time resumed, and punishment came, relentless.

Nearer to Aomu, Gen stood slouching. The knives within him hadn’t torn through anything too terrible, and the wards his Master always laid on his clothing had managed to help him somewhat. They were indeed not any true sort of “defense”, but they helped protect her “things”: the outfit he wore was sturdier, and the books he carried were almost indestructible. This had proved to work well enough against Sakuya’s weapons that any wounds he earned were kept from being too deep for him to move. Still, being stabbed was no joy, and he removed the blades to drop them bloody to the floor. They clattered through a silence that told him he’d won. Walking back toward Aomu, he wished his Master knew proper curative magics: something for fieldwork.

While thinking this over, he felt a strange but inured sensation slip over all of his perception. He turned, and found Sakuya there.

“Wha—?” he was cut off, as the maid returned his favor by sending him flying forward, the force of her attack ripping the back of his vest and shirt open in a great hole straight through.

He desperately held onto his hat as he tumbled, legs in the air, ahead, narrowly keeping his face from smashing into wood. From how it had felt, he was sure Sakuya had used a bullet for that strike. When he stopped rolling over and could stand up, he saw the hobbled maid casting wave after wave of purple-ish, human-sized projectiles. Between her, and him, was Aomu.

“Aomu...!” he managed, standing himself up and kicking from the ground, “S-Stay put, the spell won’t...!”

He lurched forth, unable to tell her that with too much movement his Aegis would break apart. The warning still reached her, however, and she remained. That was to the good, but he didn’t know whether the shield could hold against Sakuya’s damage. Not caring for the honor of this fight any longer he ran, jumped, and then flew to the front of his friend. He thought, he probably had spells to stop the coming barrage, but nothing was coming to mind. An avalanche of witchcraft approached, and worse: Sakuya came with it, flying now as well and with knives in her hands again. He had imagined his attack wouldn’t take her out. It wasn’t supposed to hurt her in any serious way, in fact, but it was supposed to put her down for a minute. That maid really was a monster.

He stood before Aomu with his arms outstretched, his legs wide, and his eyes shut.

... And nothing came.

[ ♫: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fWVcdlM9bdw ]

A smell of grass and flowers filled the air.

He opened his eyes, finding a human-sized phantom turning serenely before them.

“Gen, I think it’s far too early for you to die,” said Youmu. “And to die on death’s door would be the height of sin!”

The gardener of the Netherworld stood before him with her Roukanken drawn, blade stopping well those of Sakuya, who remained aloft with a frustrated expression. Gen looked up and saw that where there had been just before gigantic bullets, there were now instead trails of vapor indicating slashing. The remains of Sakuya’s violet magic drifted down over them all in little stars that faded into nothing. He looked at the girls in front of him again, struggling with their weapons sparking against one another. The half-phantom gripped with all her strength and brought her sword sharply down. Sakuya retreated at once, flying far back. Youmu then took a combative stance, and she spoke once more:

“So, it’s a rescue!”

“Miss Youmu!” he shouted, and the girl almost fell over.

“Hey! You don’t need to shout, I’m right here, aren’t I!?” she complained, turning slightly to glare at him.

He felt in every part of his being that he wanted to hug her, his lips turning up without thought, but instead of doing that quickly shook his head and became stern. “Youmu,” he said, “spring—”

“Never mind that,” she interrupted, turning from him, “there is an intruder aiming to reach Hakugyokurou, and it is my duty to stop them.”

Sakuya looked oppressively sullen, composing herself in cold, refined, animosity. She had entirely run out of patience.

“So you’ve come out,” said the maid, “the culprit’s second hand.”

“So this is why everyone here was getting noisy...” Youmu noted aloud, “it’s because not one, but two living humans have come.”

“Finally... I’ve finally gotten to the source, eh?” Sakuya muttered, lightly shaking her head. “You know it took me a whole day to get here.”

“In coming here you have exercised great composure,” Youmu complimented, smiling pleasantly. “This is Hakugyokurou,” she announced. “The deceased live on in this place. Acting on the common sense of the living will only cause you trouble.”

Sakuya answered with her eyes closed, stating emphatically: “The dead don’t speak.” She opened her eyes then, and demanded, “Now, return the spring you stole.”

“Wait just a moment,” the half-phantom insisted.

“A moment is no good.”

“In just a moment, the Saigyou Ayakashi will reach full bloom. That could never happen with a normal spring.”

“I was saying I have no care for this.”

Youmu continued unabated. “The trace of spring you brought here could bring the Saigyou Ayakashi to full bloom.”

“Are you listening? Goodness, I’ve traveled through that cold, only to find an incredibly selfish idea here.”

The gardener said with a light voice, “But it’s warm here, isn’t it?”

“No, enough,” Sakuya spoke and shook her head. She stood straight again and brought her knives up, “The dead do not speak.

“Right. They don’t speak,” Youmu answered, eyes briefly closed. She brought her own blade up, and plainly avowed, “I will take what warmth of spring you have away, and leave you in silence.”

“I wonder, can my knives cut through phantoms as well?” Sakuya mused.

“If you wish to speak of cutting...” Youmu began, “then I must inform you: the things that cannot be cut by my Roukanken, forged by youkai...”

Her spirit surged.

“... are next to none!”

Both rushed forward then, and clashed in brilliance.

Damn...! thought Gen. I wanted to see if I could reason with her...!

He looked back on Aomu, who sat staring and transfixed. Since those two are fighting now, I don’t have to worry about the lethality of the battle at least. Youmu and Sakuya fought with nothing held back now, throwing what seemed to be their best after their best in patterns, all evoking beauty and determination. Metal was struck against metal, sounding loud and far-reaching, and winds of force often shot down from their bout, rippling his clothes. Just looking, he did not know who would win... he only knew that the tree had to be stopped.

The lights faded for a moment, and both combatants landed to ground, Youmu again in front of him. He arrested her immediately, clasping a hand on her shoulder.

“G-Gen! I am fighting!” she snapped. Sakuya seemed to take this moment to breathe, and contemplate rushing for the mansion of the dead beyond the stairs.

“Miss Youmu, I have to stop the Saigyou Ayakashi from blooming,” he said, and the girl was bewildered.

“W-What!? But you helped m—! Egh, ah...” the child scowled, knowing that officially she had never implicated this man in her business. While she hadn’t been good at keeping them such, her motives had always been intended to be secret. This knowledge of her own betrayal seemed to make her falter, but she was quick to find conviction again. “I can’t disobey Lady Yuyuko, Gen.”

“I can’t ask you to,” he assured her, “and I can’t be sure that I can do anything to stop the tree, but I have to try.”

“Why? Why do you have to?” she asked him seriously.

“I don’t think you know what it does, Miss Youmu. I can’t be sure your mistress does either... but I do. I am part the reason for it almost being awake, and now I will by all my power put it back to sleep.”

And, he could see that the half-phantom was torn, the expression in her eyes pained. Her grip on the Roukanken was intense enough that he thought she might bleed it, and she was next frowning at the wood below her feet. Eventually, she told him, “Gen... you are... you are somebody that I... can call a partner.” She looked up at him, eyes steady and severe. “I will invite you to Hakugyokurou as my guest, but...”

She turned from him, to Sakuya who was preparing to escape, raising her blade to point to the maid. “After I finish this enemy, you will be the next.” Without looking at him she continued. “I will make sure your kappa friend is safe, but I cannot say the same for you. Gen, it is strange, but I... despite being me, cannot be two things... You should hurry.”

She posed to return to battle.

“I allow this because I trust you.”

Once more, she went to fight his peer from the mansion.

Gen remained there, unsure of how he should feel. He did, however, think that the silly sword-wielding girl truly was beautiful, not only in how she appeared. Suddenly, he winced and looked down at his side.

“Just hold still,” said Aomu, tying bandage around his waist after having snaked her hands into his shirt through the hole Sakuya had created. The Aegis still swirled around her, and he saw that she was uninjured. “These are bandages I made,” she continued, “they’re just as good for you as they’d be for a kappa. I also put a salve to your cut that should help the wound heal clean.”

“Aomu... I’ve got to apologize to you too.”

“Shut yer mouth and get going,” she replied, smirking as she finished applying her treatment. “I wanna know what it’s like to be friends with a hero.”

“I can tell you,” he said, smiling in return.

Aomu grinned now, exclaiming, “What the heck! So cheesy!” She then laughed an awkward laugh, chuckling and blushing.

Gen looked over to the Saigyou Ayakashi as danmaku exploded overhead. He addressed his companion once more, “Alright, wish me luck, good Aomu! Cheer me on!”

“Go, Gen! Do your best! You’ve got this!” the kappa cheered, pumping her fists.

“You bet,” he answered, hopping into the sky and tugging down his hat. “Stay safe, friend.”

“Stay alive,” she wished, and he nodded once before flying headlong into the Netherworld.

Colors and knives were left behind him, like a carnival-festival above the gate. He looked back at the chaos, and forward into a new kind. Although Youmu called him a “guest”, the residents of this land were unwelcoming.

“Daaamn... I really don’t want to deal with any of this,” he whispered through his teeth at the sight of spirits before him hurling death-smelling magics in vast curtains. He still had enough sense and wherewithal to dodge, but deliberately kept from returning any fire. There were fairies here, too, surprisingly, and just as trigger-happy (unsurprisingly) but still he refrained. He flew over the dead lands as peacefully as he was able (insofar as his progress was pacifistic, not gentle and calm), and soon began ascending the dangerous stairs, steps blurring gray and black beneath him as the world itself blended between shades of dark lavender and amber. The weather grew warmer, and he noticed the sky was no longer full of flower petals. Instead, flowering trees lined the staircase, and the Saigyou Ayakashi pulsed dully in the distance. This was all nice indeed. However...

Every thinking thing in the Netherworld seemed to genuinely want him dead, and he wondered why that might be as he traveled toward the youkai cherry blossom. He wondered if the Saigyouji Yuyuko surely at the top of these stairs was the one controlling all of them, or perhaps they were all like fairies and agitated or excited due to the strange phenomenon and power. Most likely, he thought that a living thing in the land of the dead should perhaps not also be alive, so they sought to remedy that in patterns of killing danmaku that had his heart thumping and his forehead sweating. He grabbed at his wounded arm, keeping some patterns to a path just behind his careful movements, soaring through others and only hoping for the best. He was struck twice as he went, and he truly felt like those two hits were the two worst-feeling things he had ever experienced in Gensokyo outside of dealing with Yuuka. They had each hit in the same shoulder, and he didn’t like thinking about it, but he felt like his arm was being wrenched out.

Panting, he reached halfway up the staircase, realizing it was truly absurdly long. Then, he heard a sound of magic from behind him.

Youmu...!? he thought, bringing down his brow. He dodged instinctively and looked back to see a yellow laser flying past. So, he spoke, “Marisa...!?”

“Bingo!” said a distant girl following after him. “So you really are here, Gen!” the little girl shouted. He saw that she wasn’t alone: the Shrine Maiden was with her. His heart sank.

They got past Youmu!? What about Aomu!? Damn it, damn it...!

Grinding his teeth together, he ran through various possibilities in his head, and many courses of action he could take from here. The children neared him, but only Marisa came to match his speed. Reimu flew past without even a glance in his direction.

“We decided the one who deals with you doesn’t have to make dinner for the next week,” the blond witch explained, nearing him on a broom. “You’re a real pain after all.”

“What happened to Sakuya?” Gen asked, looking to Reimu’s figure growing distant, “Did you pass her at the gate?”

“She was fighting some green girl,” Marisa said, “and there was a green kappa too, but the girl wouldn’t even let us go near her.”

Gen’s emotional state complicated and he was full of side-by-side pangs of panic, relief, and happiness. Eventually he palmed his face, and from between his fingers looked at Marisa.

“So, you want to fight me. Why?” he asked.

“‘Cause you shouldn’t be here,” she answered like it was nothing. “And honest, mostly ‘cause Reimu got a bad feelin’ seein’ you here.” She grinned. He grimaced.

“What intuition...” he remarked. After sighing, and feeling frustration that his progress had slowed, he told his fellow magician, “I’m trying to resolve this Incident. I know how to, and that’s why I’m here.”

“Hehh... really?” Marisa mumbled, but it didn’t seem like she was disbelieving. “What’s your plan to do that? Me an’ Reimu, we were just gonna beat up the boss and take spring back.”

“I’m here because I’m not sure that will work. More importantly, the reason they took spring was to revive an ancient, dangerous tree. Really, that’s what I want to stop.”

“Oh? Hmm. So, an apprentice magician who hasn’t even been studying for a year wants to try stopping a... an evil? Evil tree? One that’s older than, what? How old?” the little witch prodded, her arms folded.

“Definitely older than the Barrier.”

“Well, you’ve got ideas,” Marisa admitted with a shrug. Then, she looked at him seriously, “but right now we need something we know will probably work. This is, like, actually a really big problem, Gen. What if you mess with that tree and make things worse?” Marisa, squinting with a hand over her mouth in contemplation, shook her head. She looked at him seriously once more. “Now I’ve gotta stop you for a completely different reason.”

And, Gen laughed, it being his turn to shake his head. “Gensokyo... is really too much,” he managed to say in few breaths. “Even when we want the same thing, you just want a fight.”

“Yeah,” said Marisa.

He glanced back to the Saigyou Ayakashi, and then returned his gaze to her.


[] Steady on, convince her to help.

[] Risk a fight.

[] Try to get away.
>> No. 66495
[x] Steady on, convince her to help.

I don't care what you want, there's a real risk here.
>> No. 66498
>>66494
>several-lathered
I think Word made this lathered instead of... layered... Nice.

as an aside, reposting
>>65992
>When Master Patchouli was born as a Magician, alongside natural magical prowess she only had the abandonment of food, not the abandonment of temper.
After looking into it, "abandon temper" seems like a really bizarre mistranslation of the magic magicians use to become immortal. It is literally Remove Bug magic, which SEEMS like it relates to the Three Corpses, or the Three Worms that Miko discusses here: https://en.touhouwiki.net/wiki/Symposium_of_Post-mysticism/Bunbunmaru_Newspaper_8

So consider this "abandonment of worms" instead. The idea is that the magician gets rid of the worms/bugs in the body that cause eventual death in all living things. I am honestly not certain this is what the idea is, but the kanji is read 捨虫 and that (specifically 虫), as far as I know, can in no way be interpreted as temper. It's an interesting idea that I will probably have to talk about more than this offhand mention here. Gen would surely be weirded out that the Taoist idea is something Magicians believe in, and that it's actually "real" as far as he can tell. Let's say that because he's not interested in immortality, he has yet to think of the implications of the magic "捨虫" (remove bug(s)).
>> No. 66499
[X] Steady on, convince her to help.

Oh no! She's right.
What if we it screw up? What ever shall we do?
If only we had a super smart, talented, amazing, reliable, powerful, and cute witch (who totally isn't a thief by the way) to bail us out if something goes wrong!
My, they could even get one over on that lazy shrine maiden by claiming to have been the one who resolved the incident! Now wouldn't that be something?
>> No. 66500
[X] Risk a fight.
Girls are being unreasonable, prepare for battle.
>> No. 66501
[X] Steady on, convince her to help.

>>66499
Screw it. Having Gen be cheeky about getting help is way too good of a moment to pass up.
Our Shtick is to play dirty at this point too so the more willing individuals on our side the better.
If Marisa is really iffy about it just offer the fight once the incident isn't on a timer.
>> No. 66502
[x] Risk a fight
[x] with terms (?)

Was originally hardcore continue talking for help but I can't see Gen being able to do it without directly showing himself as partially responsible for this incident. He knows Marisa takes a lot of stock in fighting and if he wants to win people over to his cause in the middle of an incident, it'll be with fighting and showing the strength of his ideal.

Explaining probably leads to Gen getting double teamed (he's still an outsider, and if he's found to be responsible even partially for an incident, Reimu is gonna come down on him real hard).

Marisa will honor the outcome of the duel, if we fight her, it might behoove Gen to put some terms in so that we can actually attempt to get Marisa's active help after.
>> No. 66503
[x] Risk a fight

what's the dumb meme way to put it? You can't let yourself be held back by common sense in Gensokyo?
>> No. 66506
[X] Steady on, convince her to help.
>> No. 66507
[X] Steady on, convince her to help.

Solely on the basis that Gen probably won't have enough energy to stay conscious if he fights Marisa now. And that's no good. We only just got here!
>> No. 66508
[X] Steady on, convince her to help.
>> No. 66509
[x] Steady on, convince her to help.

Seconding >>66499 and >>66501.
>> No. 66510
[x] Steady on

Let Reimu try the dumb force approach. We Are Magicians!
>> No. 66513
File 15299187594.gif - (3.55MB, 650x444, rescue spring!.gif) [iqdb]
66513
>.gif

++++++++

[X] Steady on, convince her to help.

“So, am I understanding right, Marisa?” he began, folding his arms. “You will face and fight me, while Miss Reimu takes on Saigyouji Yuyuko.”

“Saigyouji?” the witch asked, confused.

“So you’re letting her take the credit then? For a few meals?” he prodded.

“Eh!? That’s not it!” Marisa rebutted, quickly shaking her head. “You’re an outsider! Since you don’t fall under the rules, you’re a pretty big nuisance.”

“I am an outsider who wants to do the same as you,” he replied, eyes closed and putting his hands up in a shrug. He snuck a glance to the youkai tree not very far away from them now. “Aren’t we Magicians? Why don’t we resolve this Incident with our heads rather than our fists, like the Shrine Maiden?”

The young girl gave him a frown, glaring too. She frowned even more, and spoke, “Magic’s all about firepower,” she said, “it’s gotta be flashy.”

“A flower storm from the restoration of spring will surely be that,” he insisted, “but if the Lady Saigyouji is defeated and the tree remains... Marisa, that will be worse.”

His fellow magician put her hand beneath her hat and began to roughly comb her fingers through her hair, eyebrows knit in deep consideration. “Well...” she eventually said, “I definitely don’t like the thought a’ Reimu getting one up on me.”

“Yeah!” he cried at once, leaning forward and surprising her. “Let’s show that dumb girl what for.”

[ ♫: http://listenonrepeat.com/watch/?v=xkCQNO2e0Ng ]

“... Alright, Gen, I like the sound a’ that. Idiot Reimu can barrel on ahead on intuition like always.” She gave him a grin, and then a raised thumb. “Let’s figure this Incident out right!”

“Absolutely,” he answered, nodding. “Come on! The tree is close and we don’t have any more time!”

“Then you’d better hang onto me,” the girl said, nodding backward. He went behind her, grabbed the back of her broom, and readjusted his scarf. They began to fly, much faster than he alone ever could, to the wicked tree.

Marisa pulled him to the top of the staircase of Hakugyokurou, and then paused to witness the estate. Gen, also watching, sure enough wanted to stay.

“Beautiful...” he said.

“Yeah...” Marisa agreed.

The mansion of ghosts and spirits was beyond large, impossibly reaching out beyond the horizon, and was cool-colored in a strangely gorgeous gray. Stone and green gardens awaited them, zen pebbles raked into patterns that brought about a sense in the apprentice of solemnity, while cherry blossoms, and many other flowers of spring drifted through the air in enchanting spots of color. He thought this, as well: that the Japanese mansion itself, though cold and still, evoked very much grandeur. The almost shapeless departed swirled through the air, and to one main place. He looked, and saw the girl clad in red and white in the distance, facing a person surrounded by spirits, clothed in sky blue robes, and by her posture incredibly relaxed. They flew in place before a tree the size of a small mountain. The Saigyou Ayakashi was bright and vibrant, and it was already beckoning him.

“Yick. Gen, you feel that?” Marisa asked, after a shiver had gone through her.

“That’s the Saigyou Ayakashi;” he answered, “nasty, isn’t it?”

“Talk about youkai power...” she commented, glancing back at the Hakugyokurou grounds. “I’ll have to come back here later,” she said, and she sped to the base of the youkai tree.

They flew below the feet and notice of the Shrine Maiden and the Mistress of the House, looking up at them as they passed. He wasn’t certain, but they seemed to be talking about flower viewings...

As he was dragged ahead, his eyes lingered on the Dead Princess of Hakugyokurou, and he found himself fascinated in a way dissimilar to how he felt whenever he saw Youmu. This girl... in her flowing robes, with her lavender hair falling almost wildly from a strange, ghostly cap... Her slack demeanor somehow very charming... Of course, her face... Without a doubt, he was sure Saigyouji Yuyuko was the most beautiful person he had ever seen, though knowing she was dead made him wonder if she quite counted.

They reached the roots of the youkai tree, and the sky became bright with danmaku.

Marisa stopped, and flung him from her broom. ”The battle’s started! I’d say we’ve got like six minutes!” she cried, and he gave her a dull and annoyed look after recovering from his almost-crash into the giant cherry tree.

“Seals, seals...” the younger magician mumbled with her arms crossed and her eyes shut. He gazed up at the Saigyou Ayakashi, and was stunned for a moment. Standing before this tree felt to him like standing before a kaiju, and what was worse: he could feel it thinking.

“Ugh...” he moaned, and he stepped away from it, glancing at Reimu and Saigyouji Yuyuko. The Princess was, with her hands out as if basking in the sun, leaving no freedom in the sky for Reimu to navigate. He turned back to the youkai tree, and started considering how he might deal with it.

Can Marisa and I just syphon off the season from it...? Or, has it been tied to Saigyouji Yuyuko...? No... He touched the tree, feeling over its bark. It’s the tree’s. They’ve given spring to the tree here. He looked up into its branches, determined. We can take it back.

“Gen, you figured something out?” his companion asked.

“I have, but I’m not sure if it can help yet...” he mumbled, looking the colossus all over and trying to sense its springs. The branches? The trunk? The roots? “Can you understand the seal on it? I’m sure there is one.”

“Seals...” she shook her head, not to Gen’s notice, “no, that’s more Reimu’s thing.”

“But magic is magic,” he said, standing. “And this is magic, isn’t it?”

“Yeah,” the girl agreed, holding firm the handle of her broom, “but, it’s weird: I think a youkai might’ve done it. I don’t think I can recognize this structure.”

“Marisa...” he moaned, meeting her eyes with disappointment in his, “if you can’t figure it out, how can I?”

“I can tell more than you,” she insisted, pouting. “That seal there’s still good as whenever it was set up,” she looked up at the blossoms above, and Gen followed her gaze. “This punk’s fighting back against it, and those ghosts are helping it get strong enough that it might even manage. Look,” she told him, pointing, “that shimmer, like the world’s splittin’ on its ‘skin’; that’s some kinda border, and it’s holding tough, stoppin’ it from bloomin’.” The little witch then grumbled, and he looked back at her to see her gnashing her teeth. “Aaaagh, but I’m just guessing!” she said. “The seal’s, like... I dunno if that’s really what it’s doing, just that it’s still working and the more spring this thing gets, the more it can struggle. I’m pretty sure at full bloom, the border’d shatter.”

“Thank—” he started, but the two of them nearly fell over from a sudden feeling of overwhelming power. The pair of humans looked back to where Reimu and Saigyouji Yuyuko were fighting, and the Ghost Princess seemed to have summoned some kind of artifact behind her back: a fan for a giant god to hold, pulsing purple light and showering at Reimu with a thousand bullets,

“The heck is that?” Marisa asked.

Gen did not know, and instead of trying to answer returned to his previous thought. “I was going to say thanks,” he said. “That means we don’t have to worry about the seal, only the spring inside this creature’s body.

“I was collectin’ spring on the way here, but I wasn’t really thinkin’ about it,” Marisa mentioned, lifting one of her hands. A little cyclone of flowers rotated her raised pointer finger.

“I only got one petal’s worth of spring myself,” he replied, and as if on cue it revolved past his front.

“How do you take spring outta somethin’?” she asked, placing both her hands on the Saigyou Ayakashi’s bark.

“That will depend,” he told her. “Get to the sky and try to coax it out of the flowers and branches, I’ll try the roots.” The other magician nodded, and then did as she was told while he sifted through dark soil.

Where... Where is it... Where’s your grip weakened you infernal tree? He wondered, and grew increasingly anxious. The tree seemed to keep its supply of spring firmly locked inside of itself, and though he could feel the good season flowing through the wood of it, he couldn’t draw any out. From Marisa’s silence he imagined she’d also not. Saigyouji Yuyuko declared another spell card, making for three.

There has to be something to the trunk, then! he thought, and there was a commotion just behind him. He turned, seeing a sword stuck in what seemed to be (at least from the scent) a giant candy star. “What?” he spoke, and he looked to see that Konpaku Youmu held that sword.

She finished...! he screamed in his head as Marisa came back down to the earth, in front of him.

Youmu looked ragged, her shirt sleeves torn and fallen off, and her dress having been run through by several blades. Aomu was nowhere beside her. He was worried enough to ask the gardener about the kappa’s wellbeing, but knew that she would not answer him.

“Hand it over...” the gardener spoke weakly, freeing her sword and holding it out to her side. Her head was dropped, and he could not see her eyes. “Give me the last bit of spring!”

“After all that trouble collecting my spring,” Marisa said, smirking, “I ain’t just handin’ it over to you that easy.”

“We are one step short of full bloom!” she shouted, finally lifting her head. She was on the edge of desperation, and looked straight into Marisa’s eyes, determination and, from what he could see, some water filling hers.

“Or better yet,” the little witch began, not missing a beat, “what would you say if I were to snatch away all of your spring to make cherry blossoms bloom for myself?”

“I will not hand over my spring,” Youmu vowed, bowing her head again and bringing herself to her swordsman stance.

“Me neither,” Marisa answered.

“Youmu...” Gen muttered without thinking.

“... The things... that cannot be cut by my Roukanken, forged by youkai...” the half phantom breathed, gathering her strength again “... are as good as none!”

“No way through the branches, Gen—get on the trunk!” Marisa shouted, and a second spell card duel started in curtains below the one in the skies. The young man witnessed Gensokyo’s two Incident Resolvers excitedly and fiercely fighting to the end, and felt invigorated. With this sense of renewal, and feeling like he hadn’t even been wounded at all, he lifted into the air and began to further examine the tree.

“Six Realms Sword! ‘A Single Thought and the Infinite Kalpas—Lunatic’!”

Youmu...

“Cherry Blossom Sign, ‘Perfect Ink-Black Cherry Blossom—Bloom’.”

Saigyouji...?

Color exploded, and he almost could not see, He was forced to hide himself to the tree as bullets and... butterflies(?) fired and fluttered past. With patterns getting very intense, he was given the distinct impression of climax.

Still, the tree was impenetrable. Flitting from one part of it to another, he reached spiritually within it, only to be refused over and over. In frustration, he yelled, “Just give it up already!”

[ ♫: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t8_WxoZ_nt8 ]

But it did not answer, nor did it yield. The great monster only stayed still save for its spirit beating. It remained, reaching overhead and making a wicked, expansive, rose and black colored canopy. He stared into its ridged skin, clawing his gloved hands on it, and suddenly felt full of life.

“Hah—! ... That’s...” He gasped, and whispered, eyes going wild over the wood. “That... It’s... here! Here, I—!” he exclaimed, pushing his hand to a part of the plant. Then, brightness consumed his vision, and a burst of sound roared through the Netherworld. He thought for a moment that, having found a weak spot, he had extracted all of spring at once. Instead, as white light faded and he looked toward the two youkai exterminators, he saw that Reimu had successfully finished Saigyouji Yuyuko.

“Ah... no, the tree is still...” he muttered, staring again at the beast against his hand. It was still full of nature, and what was worse, power seemed to be welling within it. “No...! Shit!” he cried, and a ring of energy erupted from the trunk, viciously blasting him away.

“What!?” he heard Reimu cry.

“Oi, what’s up with that!?” came Marisa’s voice.

But he did not hear Youmu.

Stopping his flight backward and nearly overturning, he made fast for the tree, hearing, “Hah!? Come on, I just beat you!”

An ethereal voice followed:

“Resurrection Butterfly.”

“Oh crap,” Gen grumbled, and after shimmering and glowing for a second, the tree pulsed once, twice, and a cloud of lilac butterflies billowed from it in a veritable avalanche. Beams of blue and pink light began to fire out as well, and though he was not dueling her, he was forced to dodge a revived Saigyouji Yuyuko’s danmaku.

What the--!? Is she breaking the rules? I guess she must not be, but...! Though he tried his utmost, Gen was struck again on the shoulder he had hurt before, a butterfly landing there heavily and making his mind go white for an instant. He recovered, but knew he could not suffer any more. Aagh! The tree is reaching full bloom! No! Nope! I’m stopping this right now!

I’m fixing this damned mistake!


The boy struggled to make his way through the screen of dead magic, and found the spot on the tree’s trunk that he had found before, shouting, “There! Now I’ve got you, youkai twig!” He slammed his palm to the bark.

In the incorporeal body of the youkai tree’s self, a tear was violently opened up, and the spring held inside threatened to flood out it... but did not.

“Oh what the hell!” he cried, but, when he had rent its spirit, he had fast discovered a few other places where the “skin” of this being was weak. “Alright, Saigyou Ayakashi; I’ll just keep it up.” The great youkai pulsed again, and the smell of death filled the air more.

I won’t be hit, I won’t be hit...! he chanted within himself, plummeting to an area below, where he had “seen” a place to wound.

With each tearing, the tree and Dead Princess seemed to rebel only more, and at times he spotted the tenacious Reimu, firing nothing and instead trying to simply survive against vibrant, massive waves before Yuyuko and the tree. All the while, he could feel the tree reawakening. Its hunger was extreme, alarming, and too palpable.

He ripped the spirit flesh away thrice more, and could feel Gensokyo’s spring beating hot against the youkai’s physical body, like it wanted to return. With the path he took, the last place was now far above him, and he flew for it with all haste, but could sense the dark precipice of this being’s revival.

“I won’t make it...!” he exclaimed. “No! No, no, no, no!”

Come on...! Fly faster! Why must I be so slow? he thought, and he noticed... the tree seemed to be breathing. His heart sank, and he was deeply compelled to quit there, even slowing down before a sweeping pattern could overtake him.

“Hey Gen!” he heard a shout. Marisa below him had both her hands cupped before her mouth. “I’m gonna guess you know where you’re going and give you this!” She reached behind herself and got her broom, tossing it a bit up and putting her mini-Hakkero under its bristles. “Don’t break your arm!” she yelled, wearing a brilliant smile, and the broom was thus launched like a rocket.

“Oh fuck!” he swore in English, wincing harshly and raising his arms at the sight of blue fire blossoming wild underneath him. In spite of the blinding intensity, he made himself turn toward it, and started to descend, his hand again outstretched.

Avoiding lasers, bullets, and butterflies, while also aiming for her broom, Gen sped downward on a course for the stick, severely hoping that he would not miss. His prayers were answered as he met with the tool soon, and on grabbing it was propelled horribly skyward, his body whipped suddenly like a noodle, and his arm almost wrenched from its socket by the force. He screamed at the sensation, and held on tight, rubbing at his right shoulder and gritting his teeth.

He steered the broom much as he was able as air deafened him and threated to push him off this ride. Eyes blearing, and mouth mercifully covered by his scarf, he shot, shaking terribly, toward the final point. He reached his left hand toward the cherry tree, getting close as rays of light only just shaved above and below him.

The last unstable place almost seemed as if it were being protected, the bullet screen becoming much too dense to see anything, his vision being obscured by so many butterflies that he could only barely dodgy. But, on faith, he put out his hand where it should touch, and as luck would have it struck the bark on the sore spot just as he went past. He let Marisa’s broom go and, while dropping, pulled asunder the shell of spirit protecting the Saigyou Ayakashi’s spring. Sound and sight were for a moment taken from him entirely, and both returned along with the stolen spring in a full ridiculous and majestic display.

The flowering youkai tree quaked, and an enormous swirl of petals flowed out and off of it, scattering everywhere as warmth and breeze stormed Hakugyokurou. As life filled the world of death, the great tree was forced to slumber again, and nature began to drift back to the wintery lands of Gensokokyo. Every sensation of spring could be felt here at once, and despite all that he’d gone through having left him badly aching, he could not help but feel joyful and refreshed. Itou Gen grinned at the spectacle, and then... cried in agony as he crashed to the ground.

The not-that-fit magician rolled left and right, yelling in debilitating pain, eventually getting onto his stomach and then knees, and breathing heavily in hopes of ignoring his suffering. He moved himself a little forward, and then Marisa’s mini-Hakkero fell on his head and he fell down again with an, “Oh, ow!”

Following that came the broom, which landed upside down on his injured shoulder.

Gen breathed out, scattering dirt, and thinking, I have to stop doing this. While this wasn’t as bad for his body as his encounter with Kazami Yuuka, he was quite certain he’d at least sprained his arm.

The library’s apprentice, with an involuntary tear in his eye, managed to pick himself up again. He looked up at the Saigyou Ayakashi, now barren, and laughed. He hoped it would sleep forever. Holding his arm, he limped his way toward the front of the tree. As he came, in the distance he saw Reimu and Marisa standing over a collapsed and beaten Saigyouji Yuyuko. The sky was speckled with pink blossoms on their way back home, and the air too had many drifting flower petals still. Next to him as he completely rounded the trunk, was Youmu, Roukanken plunged in the dirt and face again hidden. He shuffled toward the girl, and sat down beside her.

++++++++

Image sources:
https://danbooru.donmai.us/posts/1805787
https://danbooru.donmai.us/posts/1658513
>> No. 66514
File 152993496957.jpg - (297.24KB, 907x631, it leads to a party.jpg) [iqdb]
66514
“Sorry, Mi... hm, Youmu,” he said. “We won.”

“This was the first thing... The first thing I had to do on my own since my Master went away.” Youmu spoke with her face still aimed at the ground. Her phantom half was slumped over her shoulders. “The first important thing, not just cleaning, or cooking, or... I put everything I had into it, for a year.”

She picked her head up, eyes faded and gazing on her Mistress. “And, look: I let Lady Yuyuko get hurt; I let four humans enter Hakugyokurou... and one kappa. And, the Saigyou Ayakashi—the tree...” she looked up over their heads, and he looked as well, “it didn’t even fully bloom.” She thrust the Roukanken further into the ground, her shoulders up and head down once more, while her jaw showed unmasked frustration.

He didn’t say anything.

She after a while relaxed and continued, “... Your friend is safe. When I lost to the maid, I brought Miss Aomu to the mansion... I don’t know where the maid went.”

“Huh...”

Did she see that Reimu and Marisa were already succeeding and go back home?

“I lost to the maid, and then to the witch. The only thing I thought I understood was this Roukanken and Hakurouken, and I couldn’t even wield them to victory when I had really needed to.”

He looked at the shining blade in her hands, mixed feelings shown on his face.

“Master said many times that I didn’t understand. I was just so sure I did.” Youmu picked up her head, breathing slowly, worriedly through her nose. “I am really good for nothing,” she declared, her brow quivering. Gen watched as the young girl was brought to the verge of tears, and wasn’t sure what to say to her. He felt empty reassurance would only be mocking. So, he turned also to look out at the trio before them and said:

“You’re young,” and, “you’ll learn.”

[ ♫: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_PVLX87ZUhU ]

“‘Young’...” the half-phantom repeated the word with importance, and stood up, leaving her sword before the sleeping tree. She began to walk toward her Mistress, while still talking to Gen, “I told you on the day that we met, that we half-phantoms live for hundreds of years, and that my Master would not be much longer.” She looked racked with pain as she walked, and he wondered if it was only in her sides and joints that she was aching. “I wanted to think... Master left as another lesson. I still want to think that.”

Youmu stopped in front of the Ghost Princess, who was not unconscious, and quickly picked herself up upon seeing her servant. Reimu looked on with her arms crossed, while Marisa had her arms behind her head. Saigyouji Yuyuko stood.

“Lady Yuyuko,” the gardener said, looking up at the woman she’d addressed, “Master... won’t ever come back, will he?”

The Princess shook her head. “Youki?” she said. “Not even for a drink or a snack, Youmu.”

“Then you only have this Konpaku... and Grandpa won’t come back.”

“Yes.”

“He won’t teach me anymore...?”

“Aren’t you supposed to be teaching me? Youmu.”

“I... G-Grandpa’s...”

The elegant woman then pet the child on her head. Once, twice, and then she hugged Youmu, who was shaking, to her breasts. “You’re so embarrassing, Youmu,” said Saigyouji Yuyuko, “we have guests, you know?”

But the girl only loudly cried, grasping at her skirt while her Mistress cradled her. Reimu looked away to the risen moon in the sky, while Marisa smirked at the sentimental display. Gen looked to the gate to the world of the living, and thought again about what his future might hold.

~~

“Phewww~!”

From a cave that had been oddly smoking all day, that odd smoke coalesced, made arms, and stretched them.

“Oof, oof, aaaahh... Did that take all d—? Dwuh? What in Hell is this!?”

As it formed completely, it became a small girl with disproportionate horns who dropped, hands and feet, into the snow. She gazed incredulous at Gensokyo, and more than a little mad.

“It’s snow! In spring!? Oh maaaan, is it not...? Did I...? Aaagh, jeez, sake, sake...”

So she pulled a gourd of sake from her hip, uncorked it, and drank. And drank. She continued to drink for a minute and a half.

“Guh...” she grunted, putting the cork back in. “I’ve got to... talk t’ Yukari about this. Everyone said it was spring! I’m getting old!?”

The little girl roared with aggravation, pulling at her hair, but her yell soon became laughter as she fell to the ground on her back, “Gahahaha! Hahahaha! Gensokyo~! It’s been too long! And, ohya? What’s that I smell? Hey, that’s spring isn’t it? That means flower viewings, flower viewings~!”

The first oni to witness Gensokyo in hundreds of years picked herself up and marched through the spring snow, following cherry blossoms like stars in the sky. She made her way to an old friend, and while she went, gathered in her head grand plans for celebration.

--End of Chapter 9: Perfect Cherry Blossom--

++++++++

Oni has landed, and so ends the story prologue I'm not a dick

That chapter was an \EXPERIMENT/, and not everything worked, but most of it was fun. The MGS shit was my self-indulgence. I hope even two people actually enjoyed my sudden aside. But hey, I'm learning too. Just like Youmumu.
>> No. 66515
As well as we could have hoped I guess.

Unleashing a youkai tree of death, which they were supported to guard... seriously. And all for what? For curiosity? Jeez.
>> No. 66516
File 15299358673.jpg - (141.94KB, 646x502, rough n tumble cuties.jpg) [iqdb]
66516
Now before we move on...
>>66462
>>66514
There's a short I have prepared for the next aboutaweek. Not required reading, but helpful reading(??). Fun reading (yes).

Histories of Yatsugatake, a Suika short: >>>/shorts/2180

(that's Youkai mountain's old name!)
>> No. 66518
File 152996749280.jpg - (8.95KB, 163x152, 1412554303204-4.jpg) [iqdb]
66518
Youmoe is still too soft~
>> No. 66519
>gen isn't the one to console Youmu

damn
mission failed
>> No. 66520
File 153006369218.jpg - (179.17KB, 1654x1524, and youmu is still cute.jpg) [iqdb]
66520
THE WATERMELON HAS LANDED
>> No. 66523
>>66519
We'll get her next time.
>> No. 66524
File 153036206075.jpg - (165.57KB, 625x1000, to the future.jpg) [iqdb]
66524
The short story is complete! You may now read it all at once over here >>/shorts/2180

And, a gift: for download, perusal, or whatever. I find it nice to have all these tracks (from all the threads) in one place, so I may as well share.
>>66462
Tracks used:
https://mega.nz/#F!1BdBzIKZ!bhLzijfM3iyphpueDOKf0g

Title - Album (Circle)

Fulcrum - Atelier Escha & Logy Alchemist of Dusk Sky
Flash Frost/紫電清霜 - New Atelier Rorona ~ Story Of The Beginning ~ Alchemist Of Arland Original Soundtrack ~Re-Compilation~
Flash Frost/紫電清霜 - Atelier Rorona Arrange Tracks
ultimate_blossom - 東方恋想郷 ~Grazing Heart~ (Seventh Heaven MAXION)
幽雅に咲かせ、墨染の桜 ~ Border of Life - 桜華幻奏 (NEUTRAL)
Ayakashi set 16 ~ Sakura, Sakura/さくらさくら - House set of "Perfect Cherry Blossom" (Kuroneko Lounge)
>> No. 66531
File 153041679910.jpg - (878.33KB, 1003x1402, Master's focused.jpg) [iqdb]
66531
A few things I realized:
>>66462
this track's info is 東方萃夢想 - 緋萃のシンフォニック・スイート (Melodic Taste)
and it wasn't in the downloads folder so I had to reupload everything in THREAD 4
Also other credits:
thread 1 >>66526
thread 2 >>66528
thread 3 >>66527
thread 4 >>66524
Histories of Yatsugatake >>/shorts/2189


On to the update.

++++++++

[ ♫: http://listenonrepeat.com/watch/?v=zAxfjkBpIq8 ]
[桜花繚乱 – 花天月地 (Hachimitsu-Lemon)]

“For evil’s sake, stay still.”

“‘Evil’... don’t say that, Master.”

“Stay still!”

“Right... But, Master, I’d really like a shower, or to treat my wounds, or—”

With a word and a wave of a finger, Patchouli Knowledge summoned water above her apprentice’s head, which fell all over him. Soaked, he stood (still), miserable.

“There, a shower,” she said. “As for your wounds, they can wait. Aren’t you fascinated by this, Gen?”

“I mean I was there, and now I’m exhausted, Master,” he replied, sputtering through liquid.

“Enough, show me enthusiasm,” his Master ordered, taking some charcoal in her hand and crawling below a fixture that he, Itou Gen, was keeping magically steady with his hands.

“Wow! Amazing! A miniature Netherworld! Awesooome!” he said.

“Yes, like that,” his Master replied, returning from under the structure. With her dirtied hands, she thoughtfully, carelessly touched her face and nodded at her work, satisfied.

“It really is amazing, though. Sakuya, well done.”

“Thank you, Lady Patchouli,” Sakuya answered with a smile and slight bow.

All three of them were in the depths of Scarlet Devil Mansion, the Library where he so often frequented. They all looked each a mess as well, though the master of the library was decidedly more kempt. Sakuya had, during the time he’d taken to stop the Saigyou Ayakashi, snuck around Hakugyokurou and stolen ghosts, soil, and phantasmal cherry blossoms for an idea. It was an idea that so interested his Master that he hadn’t even been scolded for the events of the last twenty-four hours.

“You should be in better spirits,” Sakuya commented, coming to rest at a chair and coffee table, elbow on it and uncharacteristically relaxed, “I got this idea from your false sky of last year.”

“I really am honored, Miss Sakuya,” he said, and he meant that. He was currently holding steady with what little energy he had left an artificial barrier to contain the space his Master worked on. Master Patchouli had managed to scale down the spirits and bind them to her creation (a model under a glass dome), while molding false trees and blossoms from the gathered soil. Looking on this admittedly beautiful recreation, he reminded himself that those spirits had been at Hakugyokurou to await the next life or world, and that perhaps his Master’s swear to evil had not been off the mark. With muddled feelings, he closed his eyes and wiggled his brows.

“But, to think under those cherry blossoms are—” his Master began to talk with wheezing excitement. He cut her off.

“Don’t say it, Master!”

“—bodies. I wonder if that’s how the Netherworld’s blossoms produce such beauty.” She seemed to not hear him.

He deeply wanted to palm his face, but he had to remain, of course, still. While groaning in melancholy at that queer, dark fact of the Netherworld, he looked over to his fellow human who was at rest. Very at rest, now, it seemed: she was sleeping.

It really has been exhausting, he thought to himself while watching the maid, slumped over the table, breathe peacefully, her back rising and falling slowly. I really could use a rest tooooo... But, I deserve at least this much “punishment”. Definitely more.

Frowning, he continued to watch his Master eagerly work. He didn’t like to think about what the hour of night might be.

“Geeeen...”

His ears perked, though he did not turn to his back to where this small voice came from.

“What is it, Merremia?” he answered. “You can be awake at night?” he asked.

“Geeen... go to bed so I can wake you up...” she moaned. He looked over his shoulder now to see his morning fairy walking toward him and rubbing her right eye with a balled fist, clearly on the verge of sleep.

“You first,” he said. “Though I won’t wake you up.”

He turned away from her to keep focus on the small Netherworld. She flew onto his back, and crawled to cross her arms on his head. Eyes closed, and mouth showing his misery, he ordered, “Off me, fairy!”

“Guu... hmmm... Nng...” was the reply he received.

She’s asleep!? he thought, eyes wild.

“Stay still! The barrier is wavering!” shouted his Master from beneath the fixture again.

“Merremia’s crawled on me, Master,” he explained.

“Merremia? Is that your fairy?” she asked, poking her head out from under her work to have a look and confirm. “Ah, it is,” she said, and while she went back to her efforts gave a yell of, “Hey fairy maids, listen: Gen is being a bed now!”

His feeling sunk at those words. From a few places around the library, other maids descended or flew to him, and piled on his back and legs, two hanging from his arms. He was ultimately weighed by six of the tykes, and finding it very hard to remain focused as each of their initial joy of finding a human to bother waned in favor of tiredness, and they used him as his Master directed.

“Stay still!” Patchouli yelled.

“Yes, Master...” he answered, buckling under tiny weight and very much warmth. His body sincerely aching, and his right shoulder begging him for ice or anything other than fairies, he stayed like that through the night, helping his Master in her work even as he was ordered to move, the maids never letting go.

~~

His Master had a little mercy.

Hours before sunrise, her work was done, and she’d allowed him to go bathe, as well as have his injuries and wounds treated. After getting clean, she fit his right arm in a sling and, looking at this, shook her head at him in disappointment, saying: “This isn’t how Magicians should be.”

He had replied, “Things happen.”

And she had told him, “They shouldn’t, if you’re any good at magic.”

She was perhaps right. Who ever played an RPG with a mage in the front lines? He admittedly loved a risky, but successful move in a life-or-death battle, much as it was foolish to prefer, but he deeply considered working to keep himself at range for future endeavors.

He went to sleep after that, finding Merremia in his bed, and now actually appreciating her hugging through what little night was left (at that point, his ability to sleep was seeming to disappear). When morning came, though he had said this would not be the case: he was the one who had to wake her. This said, once she knew the Sun must be high in the air, she woke infinitely faster than he ever could.

So the new day dawned, just after the ending of the Stolen Spring Incident. Merremia informed him of the day’s duties and possibilities.

“The Shrine Maiden invited the Mistresses and Lady Sakuya to a flower viewing this afternoon and tonight! We got the invitation last night! Lady Patchouli was invited too but I bet she won’t go!”

“I see,” he said, unbuttoning his sleepwear shirt.

“You’re invited too, even though you started the Incident Sir Gen!”

“I didn’t start the Incident.”

“What’re you saying you big dumb? Dumb idiot dumby,” the fairy looked incredulous, shaking her head. “Everyone said you did, so that’s that.”

“Right, that’s how truth works,” he answered, yawning.

“Yeah, it’s true,” she answered with a thoughtful nod. She moved on, detecting no sarcasm, “Anyway, you don’t have to do anything today, Sir Gen. I think you should relax!”

“I also think that.”

“Did you have anything you wanted to do today?” she asked, curious.

While putting on his repaired and refreshed clothing and refitting his sling for his sprained arm, he told her, “Well, I did want to have a spell card duel with Miss Meiling at some point today. My arm isn’t in the best condition, but I can still have a friendly bout with her.” With everything on, he rubbed at his chin and explained, “I promised her almost a year ago that when I could fly, we’d have a sparring match, but that’s gotten away from me.”

“Awesome. Can we watch?” Merremia asked, mimicking his thoughtful hand-to-chin pose.

“If it doesn’t make Miss Sakuya angry. I think today’s a good day for this sort of thing. I imagined once the Incident was resolved, all of Gensokyo would relax from having been on edge so perhaps, for instance, Miss Meiling might not have to worry, and the Mistress might be more forgiving for a flight of the guard’s fancy.”

“Spring’s back!” the fairy cried, and he smiled. She fired light from her fingers and cheered happily, fluttering in place. When she was done celebrating, she put a hand beside her mouth as if to tell him a secret, saying, “But, I think winter mornings are just as good as summer or spring ones, or fall.”

He nodded. She grinned.

“Other than that,” he continued, “I don’t really know what I’ll do today.” He yawned greatly, and scratched at his head. “Perhaps I’ll study? Talk with someone?”

“Whatever you want, Sir Gen!” the fairy maid said, and patted him on his head twice. With this part of the morning routine finished, she blast wind into his face with a playful shout, fell to the floor laughing, and tripped backward as she went out the door. He fixed the fringe of his hair, and thought on what to do.


[] Go study alone.

[] Go study with Master.

[] See Mistress Flandre.

[] Find Miss Sakuya.
>> No. 66532
[x] Go study alone.

Concoct foul plans to take over SDM, conquer Gensokyo and take over entire world.
>> No. 66534
[x] Find Miss Sakuya

After what happened, this is the obvious choice. It's the morning so she shouldn't be too busy.
>> No. 66535
[x] Find Miss Sakuya.

Not enough Sakuya time in this story.
>> No. 66536
[x] Find Miss Sakuya

I feel like she saved Gen from a bullet with her little mission to get odds and ends to distract Patchouli in the end. Kinda want to see if Gen acknowledges it formally.
>> No. 66538
(X) See Mistress Flandre.

Just so you don't think I don't know that you want it as well as I do.
>> No. 66539
[x] See Mistress Flandre.
>> No. 66540
[X] Find Miss Sakuya.

It would be nice to talk with her after everything that went down.
>> No. 66541
[x] see Mistress Flandre
(insert shitty joke here)
>> No. 66542
[x] see Mistress Flandre

Don't want to see sakuya after she tried to kill us.
>> No. 66543
(X) See Mistress Flandre
>> No. 66544
[x] Go study with Master.
All of Gen's interactions are fun, so I don't want Patchy to go completely without votes and risk giving you the wrong message.
>> No. 66545
[x] Find Miss Sakuya

Don't think we've had a one on one talk with her yet and we should at least apologize for grabbing her breast in our fight.
>> No. 66546
[X] Find Miss Sakuya.

It would be nice to talk to her more after the fight.
>> No. 66547
I'll call this a tentative, at least, lock-in for Sakuya. I haven't started writing yet, and I'm not sure when I will. Hopefully tonight.
>> No. 66554
File 15313176104.jpg - (1.35MB, 1240x1754, springtime.jpg) [iqdb]
66554
[X] Find Miss Sakuya.

~~

Due to its “lateness”, this year’s spring wouldn’t last long, and most everyone in Gensokyo wanted to bask in it as much as was possible for them. Thus, he imagined he could find Scarlet Devil Mansion’s head maid in its gardens that morning instead of its halls, and he did.

Gen walked out the front doors of the mansion and winced at the bright light of the Sun. He basked under it for a moment, let wind blow through his clothes, and after his eyes adjusted looked out to see Sakuya tending to the Mistress’s flowers, cleaning the stone pathways, and sometimes taking a moment to just stand and breathe. She looked to be in a good mood, and he wondered if his presence might ruin that.

But, he walked forward instead.

“Miss Sakuya,” he called, “good morning. Can I help at all?”

And he had been right; the maid’s expression soured as soon as his voice fell on her ears.

“Gen...” she said as he made his pace slow, reluctant, and awkward, “how many things do I want to hear from you?”

He stopped, and looked to flower petals swirling in the sky. Having an answer, he turned his head to her and announced, “You look very good today, despite yesterday.”

“Gen, why might it be that yesterday would make me bad in some way today?”

He rubbed his chin, “Well you did go off to resolve the Incident.”

“What happened on my way?”

“You did find me,” he answered, planting his unslung hand on his hip.

“Ohh, Gen...” the girl sighed, shaking her head and touching around her left eye with all five of her fingers. She squatted before a bush of camellias, brought a knife into her hand, and began to carefully cut it into a pleasant shape. “We hardly talk, yet you somehow seem to have taken after me in your time here.”

“How so?” he asked, knowing what she meant.

“You know,” she glanced at him, “and that’s why you know I won’t tell you, isn’t it?”

“You didn’t tell me whether or not I could help,” he reminded her.

“You can talk to me,” she said, slicing off a maverick branch, “I do feel like talking to you.”

“Alright. Then I shall wistfully admire the Mistress’s gardens while we chat,” he replied, and began, thoughtfully, to do just that.

“Feel free.”

He bent before another bush of the same flowers, his back to hers, and examined them with an inquisitive touch. “I should apologize to you, Miss Sakuya,” he evenly declared.

“What for?”

“For lying to you.”

“And?”

“Not helping you.”

“And?”

“Attacking you.”

“And?”

“Consorting with youkai.”

“And?”

“Being at least somewhat responsible for the Incident.”

“And?”

“Not finishing our rematch.”

“And?”

“Hurting you fairly badly regardless.”

“And?”

“I’m pretty sure that I grabbed your breast.”

“You did,” she answered, turning to him. He felt her eyes and turned as well. “So?”

And he innocently sounded a “Hm?”

“Where is this apology you should deliver?”

“Hmm...” he sounded, now pensively. He faced away from her, put his elbow in his palm, and as was usual for him held his chin in thought. Sakuya looked at him with a pout that showed disappointment in spite of meeting expectation. Her ear perked up and she squinted, and the boy faced her again with a smile, cheerfully saying, “Tada!” as he revealed between his hands a bouquet of almost countless flowers, blossoming then and there as he lifted his left hand to give them room to grow.

“A bit hard to support with just my left,” he said.

“What on—...” the girl uttered, glancing to her sides and seeing that all the flowers there were accounted for. She was, unexpectedly, surprised.

“I don’t know the language of flowers,” said the magician, looking over his bundle of nature, “but while in the garden, and with this concentration of spring, it doesn’t take much to craft more than a few. Still, these are some of the nicest I think I could come up with, and I’d like you to have them as a gesture of sincerity in my saying this:” he presented her with the bouquet and proclaimed, “I am quite the awful human being, and I apologize for being so. Miss Sakuya, I am sorry for my actions of the past day.”

She fully faced him now and examined his work. The bushel was a collage of pink, blue, purple, red, white, yellow, indigo, green, and mauve, crowded with peony, puschkinia, lilac, camellia, snowball, beautybush, forsythia, daffodil, winter aconite, tulip, crocus, bridalwreath spirea, and rhododendron. It was fragrant, gorgeous and very comely life. She found herself admiring it, blooming with such vigor that if she were to reach for it she could hardly hold the bouquet in both her arms, but she held her hand back from her want to touch it. In her brow, he saw that she was conflicted.

He continued to talk, “Naturally they will not expire – Master wouldn’t have me learning any faulty, street-artist magic like that – but there is a catch.” She looked up at him then, quizzically, and he explained, “For every time I betray you, or this mansion, one of these flowers will wilt.”

There was quiet between them then, aside from the sound of joyous birds and fair folk caring not for the moment. Sakuya did not know what to say. He spoke again. “I wanted to make a promise,” he continued, turning up his left palm to show a new stem of forsythia grasped within it, “and that is this: I promise, as a fellow of this Mansion, that I won’t play its enemy again. Not unless we agree on it,” he finished with a smirk, and then spoke a different spell which made a gust rush forward over her, pick up her headpiece, and drop it on the bushes at her back. Immediately, the sun-colored flowers in his hand lost their color and fell away. “Or, of course, I just decide to break that promise.”

He put the dead stem down and gave her his gift. She received it in a modest fashion and, eventually, found her lips turning up in spite of herself. The two servants stood, she with a lot of flowers, he with empty hands, one of which now in his robe’s left pocket.

“... I have some things to say before I put these in my room,” Sakuya finally spoke, largely hiding her face. “The first is that your last action that required apology...”

“My last?” he repeated.

“Your last,” she confirmed. He saw her half-lid her eyes as she told him, “It was extremely bad of you.”

Ah, he thought, her breast.

“For that transgression,” she said, “you will have to listen to me and complete any of my requests for the next four months, whatever they are, and at once.”

“My,” he commented.

“I would ask if this is agreeable, but you don’t have any right to disagree do you?”

“Correct,” he answered with a nod.

“Next, I’d like you to have...” she followed, pulling from the magical flora a single white tulip and presenting it to him, “... this. And, I would like to know if and when it withers.”

He removed his hand from his coat and took it, rolling it by its stem between his fingers. He examined it closely, but saw that she had not changed its make at all, and was thus soundly confused. He soon relinquished any attempt at understanding, slipped the flower into his vest’s pocket, and nodded.

“I also wanted to say,” she continued, “that I worry about your actions in combat, Gen.”

“Oh?”

Sakuya leaned somewhat aside and began to chide him, “Aren’t you too in love with risks? Does a knife-user like myself have to teach a magician how to stay at range?”

He made a face.

“Oh? ... Really, I wonder if the Mistress just attracts the rash and foolhardy...” she mumbled, casually including herself with a sigh. “You have forgotten my advice, Gen.”

“I haven’t,” he denied, now serious, “I remember what I am.”

“Then, for my last word, I urge you: take that advice seriously, and stop your stubborn courting of death. With your eagerness, it won’t be long now that she will accept your proposals.” She looked at him coldly then, before gently closing her eyes and breathing in the flowers’ scents. She gazed upon them once more, and turned to re-enter the mansion, saying, “If not that, I swear: one day you’ll come back here and you won’t even have an arm to be put in a sling or cast...”

She vanished then, and he felt he’d heard a “thank you”... but was not convinced. He thought to himself for a moment, looking nowhere in particular, and flinched with a jolt of fear as something flew past his face.

“Wh-What!?” he stuttered, glancing behind himself to where he’d heard a sharpened thud. There, perfectly between cobblestones, was one of Sakuya’s knives stabbed into the earth, and through a slip of paper. After a moment’s hesitance, he bent low and freed the dagger to read her note.

Gather the things on the ground to burn. It said.

He looked around himself, and at the twigs and leaves and bits of wood here and there.

“... Huh.”

He got to work.
>> No. 66556
File 153135463847.jpg - (319.81KB, 1205x1080, Papel tapiz de Visualizador de fotos de Windows.jpg) [iqdb]
66556
The magician apprentice just turned into the servant's apprentice. Nice.

I wonder if he can look away from elements long enough to try time Magic. Then again, an amateur should focus on a topic long enough to become good at it before expanding... And he barely started using reagents.
>> No. 66585
I feel like it's been too long so I'm just apologizing for a lack of update here. It's being worked on, but along with other things I'm writing at the moment (three other things, for that matter). Dunno when it'll be done, but at the very least I'll have all my free time for the story in at most two days.
>> No. 66586
nice
>> No. 66605
File 153284354877.gif - (0.96MB, 428x600, tutor and guard.gif) [iqdb]
66605
>.gif

++++++++

“Once more!? You can’t be serious, Sir Gen!”

“I just did what I had to.”

Had to!? Sir Gen...”

The youkai pinched the bridge on her face, and after a second laughed through her nose. “I keep thinking you’re gonna get killed out there, but, to think the highest possibility is like this...” she whispered. “Does a rough-and-tumble youkai like me have to teach Lady Patchouli’s human apprentice manners?”

“I believe I have very good manners.”

She sighed next, but his damage to her humor was clear. Hong Meiling was snickering, and hiding her smile behind a fist. However, she soon gave a shake of her head and steadied herself. Becoming stern, she crossed her arms, hardened her eyes, and declared, “Sir Gen, you don’t just grab a woman’s breast!”

Gen, who was seated on one of the mansion’s outer walls, pondered this statement while a small crowd of fairy maids hovered behind him, mirroring his thinking gesture. After a moment, he determined: “Hm, but if the opportunity affords it...”

Meiling deeply frowned, but the corners of her mouth were tugging upward upward.

The apprentice and now-servant had done his chore, and after putting his gifted tulip in a borrowed vase at his bedside come to the front gate for a spar with the guard Hong Meiling. She had already chastised him for getting injured on his last excursion, explaining that she wasn’t teaching him tai chi for him to get physical – it was for him to get away. Now she was chastising him for his ungentlemanly hands.

“Twice you’ve done this, Sir Gen.”

“Gen’s depraved,” one of the maids commented. He looked at the girl and gave a half-frown.

“Miss Sakuya, Kazami Yuuka... Wait, no, thrice—didn’t you grab F—!?”

The Magician’s apprentice flew fast to the Gatekeeper of the Devil and put his left hand over her mouth. As the dust from his move settled, he told her in a hushed tone, “Not before the fairy maids, Miss Meiling.”

She glanced at the curious children, nodded once with a wink, and he let go as she put one thumb up.

“Fight already!” came a call from behind. They both stared at the fairies for a moment, seeing them growing agitated, and then looked back at one another to shrug.

“Okay, how about this?” Meiling proposed as she walked toward the gate, Gen turning to watch her. “I will punish you justly for your rude touching. What I think is that you need to get brought back down to earth a bit. Maybe flying’s given you too much freedom.”

“I’ll admit I don’t fully see the problem with it,” he answered, looking off to nowhere, “I’ve never really groped a lady after all, I’ve merely had my palms on uncompromising places.”

[ ♫: http://listenonrepeat.com/watch/?v=SakwghofYNc ]
[上海紅茶館 ~ Chinese Tea - 東方志奏 9th Spell, Cardinal Red (xi-on)]

“That guiltlessness...” the Chinese girl began to rise into the air while speaking, putting her hands together and entering a stance of concentration, “is a bad habit! Prepare yourself, Sir Gen; I’ll wipe it out of you!” To the cheers of onlooking maids, she threw a palm forward and fell now into a stance of battle, launching a barrage of qi without declaration. The Sun was at her back, rendering her a notably dark shadow against it that was only made discernable in shape by the prismatic aura lining her body. Gen found himself so pleased with the sight – it being so fantastical and strange – that he involuntarily began to grin before slipping out the way of her attack with zeal.

Although the first time he’d seen Meiling fight was against a ship-killing sea monster, since then he’d seen her more often employing patterns and attacks like she did now: pinwheels, flower motifs, and bursts of power. Presently she was spinning shards of red and blue qi in his direction as some kind of warmup, and he was firing back with bolts of flame.

Among the spectators, all were in support of the gatekeeper, booing her enemy’s every avoidance of a wave and movement through gaps. To rile them further, he scattered fire deliberately beyond Meiling and toward them all. They shrank away quickly save for one of them, who caught a round of flame and bounced it between her palms giddily. He scowled at her, and mixed it shots of water. That got her hiding.

When he’d worn Meiling down enough to change into a pure offense, the guard came to notice his evil as a fairy yelped out and went to duck behind the walls. She realized what he’d done, and glared at him with a look that cried for justice. Puffing up her chest, she shouted, “Itou Gen! Your villainy has gone on long enough!” She withdrew a card from a pocket in her dress and made to declare her first spell. “You stepped through my work earlier, didn’t you? Were the gardens to your liking? If so, then how’s this!? Flower Sign ‘Selaginella Nine!’!”

Indeed, the guard’s flower motif patterns were not only a sign of preference. Although Sakuya had been maintaining them earlier, this was only an act of temporary fancy; the gardens of Scarlet Devil Mansion were the responsibility of its gatekeeper. When he’d learned the fact that Youmu fulfilled this same role, he’d wanted to ask Meiling “guards doing gardening: what is that about?”, but he had been keeping his correspondence with the half-phantom secret. Maybe he’d ask her now...

At any rate, the Chinese girl certainly loved pretty things. The fact contrasted harshly with his knowledge of her brutality in unrestricted combat as well as her taste for human flesh but, in spite of this, he did find his tai chi master rather adorable conceptually. Her first spell was, as he expected, nothing much. This too was cute of her. Unlike Master, he thought, Miss Meiling can’t understand danmaku.

Selaginella Nine fluctuated to start, as a flower with petals swayed by wind, and then cast its “pollen” toward him in expanding circles that crossed one another. Avoiding the bulk of it was a simple matter of hardly moving left or right. He captured it not long after it had begun. In response, Meiling clenched her fist, and growled. He looked at her and shrugged.

“Miss Reimu is right:” he announced, “danmaku isn’t your strong suit at all, Miss Meiling.” For his granted round he began a pattern of rampant water and sublight, and while she dodged it the Gatekeeper of the Devil fumed with irritation.

“Yeah, yeah, is that right...” she muttered, eyes closed and still dodging. That irritated him. “You got the Shrine Maiden to evaluate you a few months ago, right? How’d she rate you, Sir Gen?”

“Nicely, in fact, when it came to fighting under the spell card rules,” he answered, and Meiling puffed with dissatisfaction at it. He could imagine what she wanted to hear. “I should say her favorable rating was heaped with asterisks. As in, ‘you’re good for your level, but your good and your level are both awful’.”

Now she was pleased, smugly smiling to herself as she dodged more of his bullets. She threw a punch after a moment, a spread of her qi fired from it as if her arm was a shotgun. More importantly, she had done this after suddenly getting right into his face. Expecting nothing like this, he received all of it, and cursed as his round was forced to end.

How is that power any kind of fair!? he whined in his thoughts, wincing to the sensation of pain rolling over the front of his body.

“Next card,” said Meiling. He winced at her, fishing just that out of his sleeve while she asked another question: “You fought her twice, yes? Once without the rules. How did that go?”

“She said I was too evil,” he replied, holding his card between two fingers, “too much like a youkai.” He declared it: “Water and Sun Sign: ‘Water Park’”.

Uncorked bottles on his belt bubbled and boiled over their brims, and his card shined brightly before bursting into cool droplets. Meiling backed away with caution, but no visible surprise. His spell was one crafted with the idea of “refreshing”. The air before the mansion gate began to heat up.

“Eeehh? What the heck? It’s so hot...!” the guard complained, waving her hand before her face. Gen scrutinized her curiously.

Eeehh... isn’t that reaction too much? he thought, water swirling around himself and the sky, spreading thoroughly as it swirled and splashed and wildly shot out. This spell mimics summer, but not that well. Guess the overlong winter really got to her.

“If you aren’t liking this heat,” he answered, “please, run into my water.”

Some of the fairies booed. Others looked like they wanted to take up his offer.

“Water Park” sent out an endless sun shower, while bullets and streams of summoned water cut through it seemingly randomly. It was a pattern, though; that much one could tell by simply waiting and watching the display, which soon mimicked fountains, spouts, and of course the attractions after which it was named. He and his Master both believed it: this spell car was rather gorgeous, and rather despicable. Coupled with the persistent heat, the arcs and sprays and timed cannons of moisture could compel the opponent to dive headlong into the fray. In this case the onlookers did instead.

A girlish cacophony resounded as fairies suddenly soared over the wall and in-between the opponents at play, aiming to deliberately run into the apprentice’s waves. They gladly started a battle of splashing, the one fire fairy among them taking this fight within their fight very, very seriously. With a smirk of pleasure, he watched the childish madness unfold before him, Meiling having to aim around the maids in order to hit him. With a smirk of arrogance, he imagined she genuinely felt like diving at his patterns, too.

Temptation was clear on her face, but nonetheless Meiling persevered. With determination, a little time, and a visible amount of sweat, she had his card captured, and seeing that he had the feeling that at their respective levels of spell card play this match would not have a particularly spectacular end. Of course, it was at this moment of acknowledgement that she flew forward to him again, bringing with her a kick that cracked the air with its delivery. The atmosphere visibly shimmered, crimson light pulsed, and for a moment he was terrified.

With shock racing through his blood he backed away and immediately dropped down, for her foot carried a surprise. The fairy maids (still floating about their space of play) looked on in awe, making noises of amazement as another kind of shower erupted from the guardsman’s leg: that of a rainbow of qi bullets.

The boy made noises too; a grunt of frustration and then a yelp of fear. Even though he had only narrowly avoided the girl’s opening charge, Meiling held for him no mercy and swiftly brought out another with little time for him to rest. As he dodged, he saw that a blowback of wider-spread, but thinner in density rainbow shots were going off behind her as well.

C-Cool... he thought involuntarily as he backed out the way and saw how her bullets fell.

“Cool!” said Merremia with much enthusiasm, which caused him to reflexively shut one eye. He looked left. His morning fairy was now hanging off his shoulder.

“Away, Merremia!” he growled. She stared into his eyes, and poked his cheek.

Meiling came again, and he grabbed at the straps on the back of the maid’s apron to pull her off his body. He them pulled himself out the way of another rain of physical power, carrying the fairy like one might carry books by a strap. While keeping as much distance as he was able (and for however long), he observed his opponent in all seriousness.

That’s... he began to note without certainty, no, definitely, that’s a hexagram-based glyph! The apprentice spotted it: every time the guard delivered a kick, she supplemented it with some sort of red-star magic. The boy then whispered darkly, drawing light from the sky and from his fairy’s wings (eliciting a “hey!”). Now wielding beams of sunlight, he snapped at the gatekeeper, “Magic! You’re using magic!”

“Just,” she answered, striking at him again and making him flee, “a little!”

“Annoying... That’s annoying, Miss Meiling,” he grumbled. “You were so emphatic when I claimed you used it before.”

“Eh, did you? Was I?” she earnestly wondered aloud. Now he began to glower, and she continued to pursue.

He dragged the fairy maid up and out the way of Meiling’s spread, and the little one cheered with glee as he did so. He squinted at her for a good while, having finally entered a rhythm of surviving and attacking for this irritating round. He peppered Meiling with his own magic, and soon enough made her pull another card that, as he saw it, had him confirm a fact to himself: Hong Meiling really was much too straightforward for danmaku play.

“... You’re looking smug again,” Meiling said with a tone and a grimace.

“Heh, that’s just because...” he started, bringing Merremia out before him, holding under her arms and by her sides, “I’m going to win.” He beamed happily.

And he did.

[ ♫: http://picosong.com/w4siF/ ]
[ 魔法の森 ~人形遣いは怒った!~ - 大正義幻想郷動的音画大系 (LION HEART)]

After a disappointing match, Gen was now squatted before a fallen Meiling who was dressed in ruined clothing. One fairy was seated on her back and braiding her hair, another was standing on the youkai’s rear and posing with triumph, fists on her hips. As for Gen, the morning fairy Merremia was sitting on his shoulders now.

“You’re lucky Master and Miss Sakuya are better at danmaku than you, Miss Meiling,” he said with a look of sympathy, “because you really suck under the Shrine Maiden’s rules.”

“Go away,” she replied.

With his good arm, he patted her on the open part of her back (clear of fairy butt and also any form of cloth material), “Do you want me to teach you how to create better patterns?”

Meiling lowered her chin to bury her face further into the dirt, answering, “Shut up!”

“Come on,” he shook her, “it’ll be a repayment for teaching me tai chi.”

“Leave me alone, already!”

“Ahh, Meiling...” he drummed his fingers on her body, shaking his head, “we all have things to work on.”

“Just before you become a youkai,” she said, “make sure you fight me one more time, without the Shrine Maiden’s rules.”

He pinched her.

“O-Ow!” she cried with a spasm.

“I won’t become a youkai,” he said.

“Yeah you will,” said Merremia.

“He will,” said one of the fairies flying around.

“Yep,” said the one braiding Meiling’s hair.

“Definitely,” said the one standing on her.

“You all provoke a human’s rage...” he spoke, his eyes losing color. “Shall I show you why monsters fear us!?”

With a playful roar he stood, a tome now in hand and a spell on his tongue. The fairies screamed, mostly with laughter, and flew off as he sent all the elements spiraling up to the skies before the gate. Meiling observed his antics with a hand on her cheek and a pout, but soon huffed with a laugh herself. And, from a balcony on the mansion’s southern face, the master of the house observed the magical display serenely, lightly twirling the bar of a parasol in her hands.

========

There was still time until the later party.

He...


[] Went to do research with his Master.

[] Went to the library to study.

[] Went to chat with Wakasagihime.

[] Went to find Mistress Flandre.

++++++++

image sources:
https://danbooru.donmai.us/posts/1733332
https://danbooru.donmai.us/posts/1034380

Sorry again for the delay! If you want to know the truth, the things I was focusing on writing had been waiting on me for over half a year so I figured that had higher priority. I feel better now. Hope you enjoy Meiling bullying.
>> No. 66606
[] Went to do research with his Master.

We beat Meiling! Praise us!
>> No. 66607
That was adorable. I can't stop grinning.

[x] Went to the library to study.

Gotta keep grinding if we wanna keep winning.
>> No. 66608
[x] Went to chat with Wakasagihime.

Worth the wait. You write my favorite fairies on the site.
>> No. 66609
[x] Went to chat with Wakasagihime.

It has been a while.
>> No. 66610
[x] Went to chat with Wakasagihime.

This is waaaaaaaaay overdue.
>> No. 66611
[x] Went to chat with Wakasagihime.
>> No. 66614
[x] Went to find Mistress Flandre.

Wonder how she reacted to his escapade? Time to find out!
>> No. 66615
[x] Went to chat with Wakasagihime.

Mermeido
>> No. 66616
As I can see it the vote can't really swing without a surprise amount of voters so I've started writing with the fish princess in mind. Cheers, girls
>> No. 66621
[X] Went to do research with his Master.

Nerds doing nerd stuff!
>> No. 66623
[x] Went to chat with Wakasagihime.

Finally caught up. Can't wait to actually be able to participate.
>> No. 66629
File 153361874969.png - (710.02KB, 900x636, Welcome to Misty Lake.png) [iqdb]
66629
>>66623
Super. Enjoy!

++++++++

[X] Went to chat with Wakasagihime.

After playing a while, he returned to the mansion to help Meiling recover, then wandered the halls for a time in thought. He wondered again if he was becoming strange within these walls and with these beings surrounding him. The year before, the dark halls of Scarlet Devil Mansion, haunted with light laughter whispered behind corners, put him on edge enough for more than a few sleepless nights. However as he focused further on the lessons his Master taught him he focused less on the queer existence that was Scarlet Devil Mansion: a home decorated and suited for the vampiric undead. Now, he even felt at ease in this hardly candlelit, red-colored place... Making notice of this now, when joking was all done the thought of a transformation for him being inevitable was more likely than he’d care to admit. Much more likely.

He stopped walking and lifted both his hands to push his fingers under his hat and feel his hair. His brow furrowed somewhat from the pain that came from his shoulder, but primarily from frustration. He winced and thought, Gods, I’m moronic. His self-evaluation was thus: pathetic. Childish inner turmoil was boiling in him again.

He pulled his hands free. He rubbed his shoulder and looked at the place near his feet where the floor met with the wall, and he sighed miserably.

He needed to see Wakasagihime.


It should be said it was a terrible idea to see Wakasagihime. It was now noontime according to the clocks he could find in the mansion, which meant Misty Lake would be rapidly taking to its name. Which meant worse creatures would be lurking it. Which meant he would be consciously putting himself at mortal risk.

He always skirted but never stepped on Youkai Mountain. He had only visited the Road of Reconsideration when it wouldn’t be very terrible. He tried not to be out anywhere at night. And the Lake... he was sure to not pass through or by it at noon, having only spent time there during the hour once, and stationary, while in the company of friends.

But his Master had been right when she’d accepted him as her apprentice: Itou Gen was definitely selfish. What he wanted—truly wanted, he would stubbornly, certainly have. He made up his mind, left the mansion, and departed for the Lake.

Gensokyo was a place where the unexplained thrived and remained without even a hint or theory as to the causes behind them. Like this, since and before the records of time the phenomenon of the Lake’s midday mists had remained so: an unknowable phenomenon. Above the lake, white wisps enveloped it too thoroughly: it was near opaque. Gen walked into it from the mansion gate, and on his shoulders and mind wariness immediately began to set in.

The fog of Misty Lake made him feel not only uneasy, but unwell. He was not sure if it was something infused with a kind of supernatural energy, or if the atmosphere was simply and frankly too strange. This was the trouble: not knowing, and being unable to even guess as to why. At noon, this place began to prod the most basic of a human’s fears, so it was not a wonder to him that the hairs behind his neck were prickling in the presence of what had to be several unseen monsters, so hungry that he thought he might soon hear their stomachs growl. In a way, this was like he’d first felt within Scarlet Devil Mansion: traveling through an alien place. And though he knew the Mansion for its close walls and heavy darkness, the bright and open Lake area at this time was no less genuinely frightening. He was certain he would be attacked, and his palpitations—his damnably loud, interminable palpitations reflected that.

He couldn’t make his way in any recognizable direction. He stepped slowly and carefully, with his left hand on the stopper of one of his vials. He could just barely see his feet in front of himself... the atmosphere had gotten so thick that if he held his arm out he couldn’t see his hand before his face. It didn’t feel like spring here, despite his yesterday efforts, and that made him remarkably irritated. Here, it only felt unnerving, eerie, confounding, and dangerous.

With these conditions he reasoned he would not be able to find a safe place to lower himself and use the Mermaid’s Flute Wakasagihime had given him, not without leaving his back even more open than it already was. He listened instead, hoping that despite the fog Wakasagihime would be making the most of the returned spring she could by singing above the water’s surface, even now (with her the likelihood was high). He listened for her voice, and did not hear the bullet racing for the back of his head.

It struck him, and with surprise the cold shot smarted terribly. Cold? Was this some remnant of winter? The thought ended soon as he had stumbled forward from the blow and stepped on too-smooth ground: ice, in fact. He slipped, was toppled, and fell, evidently into the lake. Splashing about and reorienting himself quickly, he surfaced and moved to where he thought was the shore. He placed his hand on grass, much to his relief, at which point a shoeless (but not sockless) foot stepped onto it, toes wiggling. The foot was the size of a child’s. He saw this, and his expression went entirely sour as a single thought rose in his mind:

Fairy...

“Human under my foot!” shouted a young and boisterous voice. “Are you stupid?

“Often I think so,” he admitted, “like now.”

“Yeah, you’re definitely stupid, walking into the territory of the Master of the Lake at noon!” announced the voice.

“‘Master of the Lake’...?” he repeated. “I seem to recall the Lake’s Master was a kind of fish, not a fairy.”

He looked up, seeing white boomers and a pair of hands on a pair of blue-dressed, narrow hips. Ah... he thought to himself in realization, it’s this one.

“That tiny fish is nothing if I freeze it! I’m the real boss around here!” she boasted, “And I think you’re the other magician from that house on my shore! That means...” the fairy bent down so he could see her face and declared, “you’re one of the guys who stole winter!”

He let out a chuckle and had his eyes fall back on her wiggling toes. “That’s inaccurate, O Master of the Lake. Winter stole spring, and we took it back.”

She gripped her toes in, shouting, “You confessed!” He squinted, as suddenly the air seemed to be glittering. He raised his head to gaze upon the face of the ice fairy Cirno, the cold and blue troublemaker of Misty Lake, who had a hand over her head and was summoning a volley of danmaku. She was confident, arrogant, and small.

He had not met this fairy before, but knew of her from his Master’s warnings (and that his Master had on one occasion snatched and kept one of the fairy’s strange, crystal-ice wings). Contrary to most of her kind, this fairy was surprisingly full of herself (insofar as she tended to lack a sense of danger), as she steadfastly believed in a great strength she did not possess. Miss Sakuya in particular cited this one as a frequent nuisance on walks with Mistress Remilia, or while on errands.

But, despite an initial well of negative emotions to having been assaulted, Gen found himself chuckling again, and then openly laughing. The ice fairy’s power let him see the pattern shining over her head quite clearly, and she entirely reminded him of himself from the year prior. A naive pattern, and the carriage of an egoist. He thought to himself, This fairy is actually very cute, before calling for a curtain of flames that flooded over the area.

She squealed.

“Eek! What the heck!?” the fairy shouted, flailing backward and disrupting her magic. Tears were in her eyes as she fell onto her rear and out of his range of visibility. He recalled his flames, and they rushed toward him, gathering and drying his hair and face. Compressing them with his words, they became a small sun, which he directed to be kept floating over his shoulder.

Gen pulled himself entirely from the water and stood, dripping wet. He stepped toward where Cirno must have been and soon spotted her legs. “So,” he said, “what to do with you?” The trembling Cirno said nothing, though he suspected she was thinking “please forgive me” from her closed-tight eyes and wary posture.

He...

[] decided to punish her.

[] left her alone with a warning.

[] struck up a conversation.

++++++++

Image sources:
https://gelbooru.com/index.php?page=post&s=view&id=1955622
https://danbooru.donmai.us/posts/2381273
>> No. 66630
[x] struck up a conversation.
Being the neighbor of our best friend, we should try to be civil with the (potentially lethal) little scamp.
>> No. 66631
[x] decided to punish her.

B U L L Y

U

L

L

Y

THE BAKA
>> No. 66632
[x] ... offered to teach her.

If anyone asks, it's a thought experiment.
>> No. 66633
[X] struck up a conversation.
>> No. 66634
[x] struck up a conversation

no bulli
>> No. 66635
[x] struck up a conversation

NO BULLY 9-BALL
>> No. 66636
[X] decided to punish her.

Always bully a fairy. Always.
>> No. 66637
[9] decided to punish her.

this is bliss
>> No. 66638
File 153367378967.jpg - (104.71KB, 1200x512, DIIFkf0VwAAcja-.jpg) [iqdb]
66638
[X] struck up a conversation.
>> No. 66640
>>66632

My vote is with this guy.

[X] ... decides to teach her.

Nothing big or powerful. Just to see how well a fairy can actually learn schooled magic.
>> No. 66641
File 153369609458.jpg - (544.64KB, 4096x2822, Chillno.jpg) [iqdb]
66641
【⑨】 struck up a conversation.

We're so chill we can chill with the chillest of the chill.
>> No. 66644
[x] struck up a conversation
We can bully her when she actually deserves it.
>> No. 66646
File 153399754452.gif - (1.68MB, 437x540, fish princess.gif) [iqdb]
66646
>.gif

Also for what it's worth, while I can imagine dear Master trying to see if fairies could learn magic, I can't see Gen studying in that direction.

++++++++

[X] struck up a conversation.

[ ♫: http://listenonrepeat.com/watch/?v=iUh0uer-MSc ]
[遥か、遠く、君へ – Cosmic Armonica (Halozy)]

“Hey, how do you usually get through this fog anyway?” he asked her.

Still shaking, she only managed a breaking “H-Huh...?” for an answer.

“You mentioned the house by the lake, so I’m sure you’ve seen its clock tower,” he said, calling to attention the mansion they could no longer see. His Mistress had built it with a large clock facing outward that he occasionally used to keep track of the time when near, but not within his second home. “If you’ve seen that, then you’ve probably noticed that when both its hands point up—” and he lifted his finger for emphasis “—the mists of this lake set in.”

“Y-Yeah...”

“And like that clock always strikes twelve, the fog always sets in. Every day, at this time. How do you make your way through it?”

“O-Of course, I do what I do with everything...” she said, as her tension seemed to ebb and her shoulders lightened. She sat on her calves and pumped her fists, declaring, “I freeze it!”

“‘Freeze it’? Right, ice fairy...”

“Cirno!” said Cirno.

“Cirno.”

Cirno continued, “I can make a path through the fog, or I can make it sparkle in spots, and I feel out where I can go.” She crossed her arms and with confidence told the boy, “There’s nothing to it!”

“Hmm, really...?” he muttered, looking around himself. He finally noticed that in some spots of the atmosphere the smoke of the lake seemed denser, and when he put his fingers through it it felt very cold, ice crystals forming on his hand. Casting his eyes elsewhere, he could see more glinting formations clearly showing where movement was possible. Seeing as the ice couldn’t form everywhere, where it didn’t form meant somebody or thing was there—even he could, upon application of scrutiny, make out what youkai were watching him and this fairy and probably waiting to see a human back unguarded again. For Cirno, coupled with her knowing of the lake area, during the midday hour this ability likely gave her the kind of expert tracking of a seasoned hunter. He brought his hand near to his face to see the mist frozen on it, and gave his honest evaluation: “Amazing...”

“Right? Praise me!” the fairy called.

He looked at her and said, “You’re amazing, Miss Cirno.”

“More!!”

Again he examined the air of Misty Lake and said, “I’d never imagine a fairy to be capable of this.”

“Mhm, mhm!”

“Really, it’s a kind of good thought and sense that leaves me envious.”

“Heh... Heheh.”

“Honestly, it’s no wonder you’re famous,”

“R-Right...”

He let his eyes fall on her again. Even through the so-obfuscating fog he could see that her face had become entirely scarlet. As for his, it gained a catlike smile. He extinguished his ball of flames and spoke quickly another spell.

“Miss Cirno,” he said, having knelt before her, “I’d like you to have this. I know enough about the language of flowers to mean this, and sincerely.” He presented her with a new flower.

“I-I don’t know about flowers,” the fairy stammered, reaching for it cautiously, “is it a dandelion or a daisy? Is it blue?”

“It’s a white camellia, from me to you,” he reached forward himself, and stuck the many-petalled flower’s stem through her short, sapphire hair, and above her left ear. The fairy did not seem to know how to take this act, and he withheld a laugh that was coming out of a twisted love for teasing. He followed his action with, “Well enough of that,” and, “that’s twice I’ve done that today; cosmic forces will be at work to strike me down for my clichés.” He moved his hand past Cirno’s face and stopped it over her spine.

“Eh?” the fairy voiced.

He announced, “Alright, fairy, up you go,” and he lifted her by the back of her dress.

“Haa!? Wha!?” she yelled.

“I’m looking for a mermaid. Let’s chat while you guide me.”

“Eh? Eh!? No!” she cried, twisting and flailing. He held her out away from his body, sporting a pout. “Why should I help you when you’re taking me like this!?”

Still pouting he thought, Perhaps as reparation for attacking and threatening me? before saying, with sympathy decorating his voice: “But you’re so good at navigation here. Can’t you show me more?”

She held her elbow with her left hand and, in a cocky gesture, cupped her chin with her right, telling him, “Y-Yeah? You want to see what I can do? Well, I can help with that.”

“If you will please, O Master of the Lake.”

“Yes! Me, the Lake’s Master, can show you the way!” she told him, pumping her fists again while looking in his eyes. “I know the Lake like the back of my hand, and all the fish guys in it!”

“Thank you very much,” he replied, bowing slightly. “Let’s go then.”

“Alright!”

He cast his gaze over his shoulder. It seemed like most youkai had left, perhaps (he speculated) due to his confident performance. One, however, still remained. He had been sincerely hoping the aftermath of spring’s return would calm them all, and give him at least some peace in the outdoors. The mist was too much an opportunity, he supposed. He held Cirno out before him, and began to make his way forward until he turned, Cirno having told him he was heading into the lake.

~~

“So does that mean you’re an outsider? Have you ever got eaten?”

“How would I even get back from something like that?”

“Well, like, if whatever ate you was big enough...”

Gen stopped where he was and thought on this for a moment. A dragon? A giant animal? To be swallowed by something like that... having to escape its stomach...

“I don’t like the sound of that,” he answered, continuing along the shore. “Also, getting swallowed whole seems like something only a fairy would worry about.”

Cirno protested, shooting him a look of irritation while crying, “What!? No way! Outsiders get eaten all the time, but do you ever hear about fairies getting eaten!? No! Of course not!”

“You’re all so small, though,” he reminded.

“I’m strong!” said Cirno. “I’m the strongest!”

“You are undoubtedly powerful for a fairy,” he acknowledged. Even if the pattern she’d shown him earlier had been simple, it had been significant for a being such as herself, both in complexity and density. The fairies of Scarlet Devil Mansions struggled to have such formations, and this was with the head maid’s stringent instruction. Cirno was happy to be praised again, and puffed with pride while smirking with her eyes shut and her arms crossed. He shook her upon seeing this, saying, “Hey, keep looking.”

They had yet to find or hear Wakasagihime, and the youkai at their backs still seemed to be stalking the human of their pair. He no longer knew where precisely on the edge of Misty Lake they were, and he felt as though the landmark had gotten larger than normal (and though he told himself this was naturally because he was moving slower than normal, he couldn’t lose the suspicion). Cirno was proving necessary to him today for more than navigation; her simplistic level of speech and self-aggrandizing personality were very helpful in keeping his mind off the idea that whatever was stalking him could lunge out and kill him at any moment. It would be very simple, and the assailant would not need to rely on the spell card rules. While keeping this fear from overwhelming him, he decided he would never enter the lake at noon again.

He paused. He could hear something. “Do you hear that, fairy?”

“What? That song?” Cirno asked, looking confused. “Haven’t we been hearing humming for a while?”

“... I haven’t,” he informed her, glaring. “You’ve been hearing humming?”

“Mm. It’s one of the mermaids,” she replied with casual certainty.

“You... What do you think we’re doing here? Did you already forget?”

“Uh, what was it again?” she asked touching her lip.

“When I’m back in my Master’s library,” he said, “I’m going to research the language of flowers more thoroughly, and give you another signifying ‘idiocy’.”

The singing voice he was hearing began to come across more easily. From the kind of lyrics he heard, he was certain of the vocalist’s identity.

Oh my father was the keeper of the Eddystone light,
And he slept with a mermaid one fine night,
” ... sang the voice, at an upbeat tempo.

From this union there came three:
A porpoise and a porgy and the other was me~
Yo ho hoo!
The wind blows free,
Oh for the life on the ro~lling sea~!


He headed toward Wakasagihime’s singing, having Cirno take care that he wouldn’t fall in the water.

As he came closer...

One night while I was a-trimmin’ out the glim
A-singin’ a verse from the evenin’ hymn
A voice from the starboard shouted ‘Ahoy!’
And there was my mother a-sittin’ on a buoy.

Yo ho hoo!
The wind blows free,
Oh for the life on the ro~lling sea~!


Splish. Splash. As her voice rose in volume from proximity he also heard sounds such as this. Cirno told him to stop at one part of the shore, and he squinted ahead to see if he could spot the mermaid. He did... vaguely; her very female shape, at least, and most noticeably her flapping tail. She was sitting on something near to shore and slapping at the pond below with playful flicks and kicks. As he’d predicted, the mermaid Wakasagihime was in an exceptionally good mood.

He chose to hail her.

“Princess!” he called. “I’ve gotten lost at Misty Lake! Come and protect me!”

The singing stopped, and a somewhat distant reply of, “Eh? Gen?” arrived in its stead. There was a greater splash, and the sound of shifting water, and he threw Cirno toward the lake while turning, the youkai stalking him having finally come for his neck.

Cirno screamed, of course, and despite having expected this, the apprentice magician did not have a spell on his tongue as he faced the monster (which at most he could tell was some sort of diminutive girl). What he could manage... was an almost dodge: a reflex action. He jerked backward, and the girl bit into his damaged shoulder, anticipating his neck. He stared at her hair, rufous in color, and his eyes widened. This lunge had hurt him, but not precisely for the bite—mostly it was just the act of having weight on his bad side that really affected him. His robe and other clothes were thick enough to save his skin from puncture. He wondered what sort of monster she was.

She started to bite down harder. She started to pierce his clothes.

Breathing fast and thinking faster, he decided to cast from righteous light magic, and with a pair of quickly opened vials had it supplemented with salt and metal—specifically silver. He bellowed an incantation, and upon hearing it the beast bleeding his shoulder glared at him. He spoke in two foreign tongues to invoke two potent forces, and returned to his own to meld and direct them:

“रोशनी! दुष्टता को निर्वासित किया जाए! इस आत्मा को नरक में ले जाएं।
Ασήμι! Εξαφανίστε το πτώμα και αφήστε τα κόκαλα του κοίλα!
Sunder! Tooth of Heaven!”

Two of his books were open, and a glyph scribed with Hindu, Greek, and old Japanese spiraled into vibrant and blinding existence over the girl’s navel. Light warmed her belly, and then grew painfully hot, before it birthed silver and blossomed violently through her stomach in a sparkling and shining strike. A lance mixed of effulgence and metals sprouted from her back like a gorgeous tree, branching toward the sky. She spit and bled over his shoulder, but with tears in her eyes did not let go.

“You too-foul creature,” he spoke, lifting his thumb over her forehead, “voi vindeca această ciumă cu flacără. Burn.” His thumb seemed to be set ablaze, and he pressed it into her skull, whereupon the magic leapt from him and latched onto her, immolating her in seconds. She let go then.

Screaming in agony, the youkai fell from him unfed, and his first spell broke and collapsed like fine glass. The youkai staggered backward, clutching around the point he’d pressed on her head, and crying tears that would dry in an instant. Rather than standing coolly to witness his victory, Itou Gen staggered too, and fell on his knees.

Haa... hhaa...” he breathed, and his breathing was racked with quakes resulting from his tumultuous nerves. His heart was pounding as though he’d just finished a marathon, and his mind was nearly blank. He did not notice Wakasagihime at his shoulder, nor did he notice Cirno complaining at his left. He hardly noticed the light of the burning youkai before him; it was as if his entire body had paused from being overwhelmed, and his brain needed some time to both process and evaluate what had just happened.

After much shaking from Wakasagihime, and the recovered youkai’s flight from the scene, the conclusion he drew was this: he was a very lucky person, and that was troubling.

Luck had it so that he ran into Cirno first instead of that beast, and Wakasagihime later as well. Without the two factors, he was sure he wouldn’t have had the confidence to risk a close-range youkai-devastator like “Tooth of Heaven”, a spell his Master had taught him for use only in desperation. Further what he realized was that even with his Master’s magic, that weak youkai had been determined to kill him. With exorcism-specific magic scorching its very insides, it bit harder. In the end, what he had needed to survive that encounter was physical reflex, a not-powerful-enough (although it was specialized for this very enemy) last ditch spell calling on three schools of magic, and a spell of purification through fire at a very close range. Again, he only felt lucky, and rapidly felt sick of himself.

“What was that all about!?” he finally heard Wakasagihime, and looked at her.

“Did it bite a part of you off!?” asked Cirno at his other side.

“Perhaps it had some of my blood,” he finally answered, “I’m physically... I’m basically fine, though.” After all, to be physically well his heart rate needed to severely relax.

“That was a youkai, wasn’t it? Speak up, idiot!” Wakasagihime desperately begged for an answer, still shaking him.

He admitted, with a shaking voice, “I-I nearly died again, I guess. That’s the first time for it being that close, though, I think. Yeah.” He smiled, of course ruefully. “Wh-What really scares me... is that that was one of my trump cards—eh, ‘cards’, not... really a.. card and... all. Uhh...” he shook his head, in a bodily attempt to settle his flying thoughts. “That was... my innate specialty, imbued with materials and my own spirit, and that... thing... still almost ate me.” He then laughed hollowly. “I mean, what the hell...? And here I’d thought I’d really gotten strong.”

“What?” the Princess replied flatly, now holding carefully his shoulder. “You almost killed a youkai, Gen. As in you, a human, nearly performed an extermination, not in the modern sense.” She squeezed him gently and continued speaking, “I saw it bite you here—” he looked, and evidently she was touching over the bite marks through his robes “—more strongly, when you cast that first spell. It was almost as good as dead, then. It just wanted to see if it could hurt you.”

“It survived, Princess,” he reminded her, “don’t pity me.”

“It survived because you broke that first spell of yours,” she said. “From what I’ve seen before the Shrine Maiden’s rules took effect, a proper way to kill most any youkai is to pin it and make sure it’s dead. That fire pushed it off, and it got away to heal...” she looked into his eyes, and he saw in her face quite a lot of concern. It was an expression that left him guilty. “It’ll be mad at you now, though,” she continued, “don’t travel in dangerous places for a while, okay?”

“Yes, mother,” he answered.

She punched him on his head.

Wincing from the still-surprising power of the mermaid, Gen grabbed the cold Cirno and pushed her cheek into his shoulder. The girl complained of the warmth, but he kept her there and directly cooled down, any swelling in his afflicted joints and skin reducing.

“I saw that earlier,” Wakasagihime noted, looking at the glaring Cirno, “it’s a nice lamp for the lake.”

“Thank you,” he said with a small nod, ignoring a sharp “Hey!” from his companion-tool. “I was using her to find you.”

“You came to me... during midday? Gen,” Wakasagihime stopped talking for a moment, looking at him with a face now full of incredulity and “this fool...” pity before unceremoniously knocking him on his head again with her other fist.

“Ow! Wakasagihime! Stop!” he complained, letting go of Cirno to hold his skull. “I’m traumatized right now, girl!”

She punched his wounded shoulder.

“Hell’s bells, woman!” he shouted, almost rolling backward into the lake as he clutched his upper arm. It was apparent the fish princess would not be satisfied with “almost”, as she followed him from her place in the water to sternly poke his body while staring him down.

“You don’t,” she said, and poked, “come in,” she poked again, raising her voice, “to the Lake,” she followed up, pushing him to the ledge, “at noon!”

With one final poke he was nearly pushed in, but he stopped by gripping the earth. Breathing heavily again, he awkwardly picked himself up to look at the Princess. The Princess filled her mouth with water, which she then spat into his face as if she’d become a fountain. He fell in.

Another grand splash resounded. Gen, sputtering, yelled in anger, “P-Princess!” and she must have heard his call, for she arrived beside him posthaste, and dragged him underwater. He continued to yell.

Caught in a mess of bubbles and swirling water, he did not notice Wakasagihime maneuvering to his face until she was already there. She held his cheeks in both her hands, and brought him in for a kiss.

Gen’s eyes went wild in a rush of bother and confusion, only somewhat ebbed from the pleasant sensation of the Princess’s lips that he rather steadfastly did not want to enjoy. She released those lips from his, and looked at him somewhat plainly. He complained immediately, shouting “Princess!” once more, and looking even more bewildered that he had spoken perfectly clearly. More bizarrely, it seemed like he was breathing air.

“That won’t last long,” she told him, taking his hand in hers. “Come along, unless you want me to kiss you more,” she teased, smirking over her shoulder as she went on ahead.

He did. He did want to kiss her more. But now was not the time.


Meanwhile, the ice fairy and Master of the Lake, Cirno, hovered above it looking in, coming to the slow realization that in more ways than one, she had definitely, certainly, and rather thoroughly gotten very lost.

++++++++

Image source:
https://danbooru.donmai.us/posts/2679471
https://danbooru.donmai.us/posts/2527398
>> No. 66647
Poor Cirno got ditched.

Poor MC got (almost) eaten.

Poor Youkai got burned.

Poor Wakasaggy got kissed.

An eventful update, that's for sure.
>> No. 66648
Gen blundering into situations he knows are stupid is starting to get stale. Hopefully the bitten shoulder will finally teach him some caution.
>> No. 66649
>>66648
Yeah, like with previous chapters that's the "idea" of this one. All in all I'm trying to make sense of an outsider's survival in Gensokyo, even granted they can use magic. That is to say he needs to learn several lessons and not be as big-headed. He's had a tendency to entirely forego spacing in significant encounters for instance and outside of regulated spell card duels will often compensate for a lack of power by using high risk, close range spells (which I think I've made clear he completely enjoys for the thrill of it). Personally I hope it makes sense given his motivations and desires, but basically this was his major "oh, that was really quite dangerous" moment. Not Yuuka (as Yuuka was so powerful it was more like a freak accident), but some random and not particularly noteworthy youkai which he TENDS to deal with easily however, he hadn't willingly put himself in the same sort of risk until now.
>> No. 66650
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>>66649

Chardev is cool, but voting for something that sounds relatively safe, and only then being told it was a really dumb idea, feels like railroading, and that detracts from the fun a little. Especially if you do it repeatedly.

It's a fun read regardless - everything you write seems to be awesome, adorable or both - but by the time Gen was whimpering about his latest brush with death I was rolling my eyes and groaning, which really killed the immersion.

But I seem to be the only one who thinks that so nevermind. Have a cute Patchy.
>> No. 66651
File 153406744484.jpg - (281.39KB, 420x716, very loli patchy.jpg) [iqdb]
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>>66650
It's kind of one of those cases where I neglected to explain danger because danger is somewhat implicit should you know things... which I haven't necessarily actually STATED in the story. Misty Lake gets Misty + outside is dangerous is about all I've said in this story. I mean all of Gensokyo is dangerous without certain protections (only one of which Gen sort of has -- freedom in SDM), but Misty Lake is a highly trafficked youkai watering hole that becomes low-visibility at noon (which would've been approaching after Gen's morning activities). Basically it was a bad choice to make, but I didn't make that clear (for better or worse? I kind of like setting up ways things could go wrong, but if you try to logic me out you can see a few potential roads).

More importantly I personally think that if this idiot isn't regularly put in danger then things aren't legitimate, given the whole Gensokyo is deadly thing. The problem I have personally is putting him in danger and making sense of how he survived. Him being a magician helps a lot, I think, since if he was truly ordinary and lacked magic I imagine he would've been dead on the first day he got outside the mansion. There are also times he could get permanent damage from a choice, but none have been made so far. In this case I was hoping a small encounter having more severe ramifications would be a decent wake up call. Sorry to disappoint, but I hope future developments will please you!
>> No. 66652
File 15340734709.png - (1.05MB, 894x900, under the lake.png) [iqdb]
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[ ♫: http://listenonrepeat.com/watch/?v=JAZ33IELXIw ]
[Misty Lake - Touhou Yukkuri (Yoshio)]

The human was dragged to the bottom of the lake. There he noticed nothing in particular, which had him confused. The mermaid pulling him continued to swim, however, and brought him to the sands below. He looked at her, all the more confused.

Wakasagihime placed her hand on a nearby mound and wiped it a few times. It shook, and dirt fell off of it, and he noticed, shimmering above the thing, some hard-to-see and very translucent tube reaching for the surface. He looked now utterly bewildered, not noticing the Princess opening a hidden door on the mound – a proper door, comprised of many shells – until she was already carrying him through it. He looked about rapidly, having much information to absorb.

And so, closing the door behind him, he entered what he took to be surely the mermaid’s home: a small and modest chamber of small collections (stones, of course, but also jars and gadgets for instance), a pile of thick cloth that may have been a bed, a few sitting pillows, a table, a rocking chair, and a window aimed toward the sky. He looked twice at the window. It was not glass that it was crafted from, but some sort of... was it a bubble? The room itself was walled like the milky and shifting-color insides of a seashell, and he went to kneel before it and give it a touch while Wakasagihime swam to the ceiling to fiddle with something.

The wall felt, also, like a shell. He immediately assumed this was a mermaid’s design, and not kappa-tech. That meant this was another of his encounters with blatant fantasy, and examining it he was left quiet in fascination. The water in the Princess’s home began to drain, and the sound brought him out of his thoughts.

The bizarre tube connected to the top of his friend’s home drew the water out of it, and left Wakasagihime’s abode dry as well, replacing the water with oxygen. Soon, even without the Princess’s aid, Gen could breathe while below Misty Lake.

“What is all this?” he asked, looking up at the ceiling where the strange “vent” was attached. “It has to be mermaids’ work, right?”

Wakasagihime, after smoothing out a rug under her table that expanded to the entrance, crawled toward her rocking chair and pulled herself into it, sighing. Once relaxed, she answered him, “Mermaids are friends of humans,” she said, “I really meant that, you know?”

“This... This is for humans?” he asked, his eyes looking everywhere.

“Well it’s my house,” she said, “but the Sighni’s Pipe is for humans, yes. We can also give a few minutes of our ability to breathe underwater to those we kiss.” She began rocking slowly, looking up on the supposed pipe. She told him, “Because we think ourselves friends, and that we know the sea is dangerous, though beautiful, we don’t want anyone to die tragically in it.” She looked at him, and smiled.

Gen made himself more comfortable, crossing his legs and still looking over his companion’s home. He decided to first ask her, “‘Sighni’s Pipe’? That’s Nordic, right? Was Sighni a mermaid?”

“That’s right,” Wakasagihime said with a nod. “While we mostly believe in the rules of nature insofar as it’s kill or be killed... the wrath of mother nature itself is too cruel. During storms, humans would often be drowned on the oceans and seas just like that. Sighni was a sympathizer... We all were, but Sighni was a craftswoman and expert of magic. She conceived and designed these things that could create living spaces for humans underwater.” The Princess closed her eyes and chuckled, “Because after all, during a really bad storm getting to shore could be much more dangerous than bringing humans down to the depths.”

“How does it work?” he asked.

“Huh? How would I know?” she answered, looking at him with twisted eyebrows and laughing again. “Do you know how a ventilation system works in a mineshaft?”

“You have a hole that goes to the surface,” he replied, then thought, “... or... I’m not sure it’s that simple, but...”

“Yeah, and the Sighni’s Pipe also replaces water with air and prevents new water from getting in until it’s been turned off. I just know that it’s a good device, I couldn’t make one.”

“Fair enough,” he said.

He began to search through her things, finding familiar and very unfamiliar objects there. He felt the pillows by her table and was surprised at how dry they were. He found where she seemed to keep her clothes, and decided looking more than that would be ungentlemanly.

The Princess watched calmly a while, but decided to speak up again after seeing him at her collection of pebbles. “So,” she said,” what made you come out to the Lake when it was foggy, anyway? Spring is back! You should’ve been celebrating in the mansion!”

Gen put down a smooth and red stone, and turned to face the girl.

“... I,” he started, wincing and frowning somewhat, “I guess since it’s been a year, and I’ve been through so many crazy things, I’m losing my sense of danger.”

“Even if you said it earlier, I’m not your mother, Gen,” said the Princess. “How am I supposed to remind you of something you should know just from being alive and mortal?”

“I guess that was the other thing: I was wondering about if I might become a true magician again,” he replied, his eyes closed.

“It’s too much effort for me to get over there and punch you in your head again, so do it for me,” said Wakasagihime. He refused, and she crossed her arms. “You seem like you’re serious this time. You’re seriously thinking about it, huh Gen?”

“I would say I work like this, Princess:” he began, eyes open now and addressing her with his palm up, “I want a little too much, and due to Master Patchouli’s expectations in me, and my own attitudes, I try a lot.”

“Patience?”

“Among a lot of other things,” he admitted. He thumbed his chin and continued, “I basically just want to be awesome.”

Wakasagihime groaned, and her expression told him she wanted to tell him to get out of her house.

“Listen,” he said, leaning in, “using magic is really incredible.”

“Hmm,” was the only noise she made.

“When I first arrived, more than wanting to go home I wanted to use it for myself. I had the chance, and I took it,” he clenched his fist, gazing into the pattern of her green carpet. “And what’s bad is, I’m realizing that this body is too limited for great magic.”

“You,” said Wakasagihime, grimacing slightly and slumping in her chair somewhat, “You definitely sound like you’re going to become a magician.”

“So here’s the deal:” he followed, now looking at her again, “it’s a whole big mess. Power, immortality, evil, the soul, fear, superstition, belief, requirement, humanity... if I think about even a single one of these things it’s like a floodgate opens in my head and I get stuck. I really get stuck, because I absolutely don’t want to become a youkai.”

Wakasagihime did not answer for a time, only looking him up and down with her arms folded again. She eventually said, “Hm, you’re serious about that too, Gen?”

“I’m really not joking when I say that,” he said, almost pleading. “I’m still a human. I was born outside Gensokyo. I’m, like, totally split here.”

“Hehh...” the mermaid sounded, still scrutinizing him. “Then, okay Gen, here’s the real deal:” she spoke, changing her posture to rest her cheek on the heel of her hand, “don’t become a youkai, and stop acting like one.”

“Huh?” He didn’t get it.

“You’ve become like a youkai, Gen, not like a cheeky joke” she said. She began to flap her tail lazily, explaining to him thusly: “You crave power, you want to fight, you want freedom in Gensokyo, and you go for it, heedless, all the time. It’s a good thing I’m stuck in the lake, because whenever I see you acting like that it’s very hard to not slap you.”

He did not answer.

“When we got caught by that thing in the lake, that couldn’t be helped, but everything else you tell me, and the times I catch you fighting lakeside, those can be avoided or handled better. Do I have to tell you? Me, huh?”

“Tell me what?” he asked.

“Play safe, you idiot!” she snapped, almost squealing with anger. “And if you don’t want to be a youkai, be a real magician!”

“Uhh??” was the only noise he made.

“How does that Patchouli even deal with you?” said the Princess, wearing a mask of disappointment. “You just need to cool off and learn, and when you’re in danger like a magician you should be playing smart.” She frowned, glancing away before acknowledging, “I guess that’s hard for someone stupid.”

“Harsh,” he answered, brow furrowed, “you’re being kinda mean, Wakasagihime.”

“Then don’t be stupid, and be safe,” she said, relaxing further and moving her palm over half of her mouth while she leaned to one armrest. “You know what I think whenever you come to see me?”

“What?”

“‘Thank goodness he’s alright’,” she told him. “Because what I think every time you leave is, ‘will he get himself killed tomorrow?’ I said it, didn’t I? Mermaids are humans’ friends, and we don’t want you to die needlessly.” She winced, and wouldn’t look at him. “Watching you march off like that, not taking every safe step, not thinking far enough ahead, or worse seeing what’s ahead and running forward like it’s nothing... it’s like watching someone dive willing into Charybdis. You’re nothing like a true magician, are you?”

“Huh, well,” he was unable to formulate a proper reply, thinking that frankly, this was oddly illuminating for him. Reimu, Sakuya, Meiling, Marisa, and his Master had all told him in parts where he had to improve, but Wakasagihime had cut to the true core of it: that he was, really and honestly, not thinking like a magician.

He stared off into nothing again, his expression stern. That was it: that was why Patchouli was so often upset with him, wasn’t it? She’d implied as much before. It was nice that her student could hold his own despite this and despite that, but when he wasn’t being an entirely proper student, he was surviving on broken principals. She may have been fond of him by now, but Master Patchouli did not respect him. He found that more than anything – more than his love of thrills, more than his love of a fantastic spell card, more than his fears and so many other worries – the idea that he would not be deserving of his Master’s honest praise and approval upset him foundationally. He wanted to return home – to the library.

“Ah, you look set,” noted his friend, perking up a little, “You want to go home? I was hoping we could talk about me a little today, you know?”

“I—” he began, intending to deny her, but he dropped this and acknowledged another of his faults again: his selfishness. He straightened up and told her, “Actually, I really want to hear more about what’s been going on with you, Princess.” He was honest. “How’d you handle winter? How are you holding up?”

She smiled genuinely. “I didn’t feel it too bad. There were a few nice stones that I found since winter was longer than normal.”

“Like what?”

“That one!” she pointed at a white-flecked rock amidst others of many colors, and told him how it kept winter’s temperature even now into spring. There was also a case of a kappa frozen in ice falling to the bottom of the lake, and her discovery of other special rocks. Eventually, side by side, they examined the things she had gathered, talking of trivialities for once. Talking of mermaids, and of convenience stores. Of vehicular flight, and of myths. For a moment or two, he felt guilty he had not done this with Wakasagihime as often as he’d have liked, but for the joy of conversation this guilt had been fleeting. They lost track of time, pleasant in each other’s company, until long after the mists above had faded.

========

2 choices
When he returned to the Mansion, he absorbed himself in


[] books regarding youkai,

[] books regarding magic,

[] books regarding outsiders,


and he read them


[] after asking for his Master’s help.

[] after asking for Miss Sakuya’s help.

[] after asking for Mistress Flandre’s help.

[] alone.

++++++++

Image source:
https://danbooru.donmai.us/posts/1572838
>> No. 66653
[X] books regarding youkai,

[X] after asking for Miss Sakuya’s help.

My reasoning here is Gen needs a solid look at how to not become a Youkai, and while looking up stuff on Magic could help, he sort of already does magic a lot already. Sakuya would be a good authority on the whole 'being human' deal, and he could use with an opportunity to build some trust there, anyways.
>> No. 66654
[X] books regarding youkai,
[X] after asking for Miss Sakuya’s help.
^Sounds like a plan.
>> No. 66655
[X] books regarding youkai,

[X] after asking for Miss Sakuya’s help.
>> No. 66656
[X] books regarding youkai,
[X] after asking for Miss Sakuya’s help.
>> No. 66657
[X] books regarding magic,

[X] after asking for his Master’s help.
>> No. 66658
[x] books regarding youkai,
[X] after asking for his Master’s help.

I still don't really know why he's so adamant on not becoming youkai. Seems like a pretty good deal to me; who doesn't want to live forever?.
If it was adressed I've forgotten.
>> No. 66660
[X] books regarding magic
[X] after asking for Miss Sakuya’s help.

Books regarding magic sound more useful. And Sakuya sounds like someone who can teach him how to be smarter
>> No. 66661
>>66658
Hasn't said it outright, but generally he's not comfortable with losing his humanity because he's not completely sure what it means and it worries him. It would also be a much more permanent decision than just hanging around in Gensokyo as a student. If he ever has second thoughts, becoming a "monster" might mean he could never return to the outside world. He also thinks living forever sounds weird, and doesn't have any particular reason to abandon his mortality.
>> No. 66662
[x] books regarding youkai,
[x] after asking for Mistress Flandre’s help.

Maybe this will pique the interest of our bored savant friend.
>> No. 66663
[X] books regarding outsiders,
[X] after asking for his Master’s help.
>> No. 66664
[x] books regarding youkai,
[x] after asking for Mistress Flandre’s help.

This sounds good
>> No. 66665
[x] books regarding outsiders,
[x] alone.

Maybe reading about the fate of others will help him make up his mind.

>>66651

> it was a bad choice to make, but I didn't make that clear

This is the bit I'm talking about. Unclear choices hurt a CYOA. If readers know an option is risky, they'll vote accordingly. If something completely out of their control happens, they'll accept it. But the protagonist doing something they would have voted against is like a cutscene in a video game forcing you to do something you know is stupid - it feels cheap, whether it actually is or not. I've been on the other side of this conversation more often than I'd like, and I've lost every time.

You did tell us way back in thread one that Misty Lake gets misty at noon (which is the only place I've seen that besides the wiki - you've done your homework), but later in that very thread Gen and Wakasagihime were cheerfully drinking the day away at that very time. And it's very hard to tell what time it is in a written work in the first place; when the vote came up, I assumed it was still early, and we'd be able to find Wakasagihime before the fog set in, like last time. Given the knowledge that it wasn't, I would have voted for something else.

...which I did anyway, since I thought more study would help grind the suicidal tendencies out of Gen. But of course I now see I was wrong, and this is better for both him and the story. So, since I still seem to be the only one with this particular bee in my bonnet and I like the result more than what I actually voted for anyway, it's time I shut up and let you keep being awesome.

Just don't Bad End us without warning. Pretty please.
>> No. 66667
>>66665
That I will avoid, and if I don't explicitly telegraph THIS IS A WORRISOME CHOICE I'll try to make it more obvious through details within the story what the implications of certain choices could have. Really, should've said it was nearing noontime because as my mother always says: you shouldn't make assumptions (in this case, the assumption that readers can read my mind), because it makes an "ass" out of "u".
>> No. 66668
[X] books regarding youkai,
[X] after asking for Miss Sakuya’s help.
>> No. 66669
[X] books regarding youkai,

[X] after asking for Miss Sakuya’s help.

Sakuya has a good perspective being on both... sides... of this equation. She also has a very unique focus which may be what Gen needs to keep his humanity, or at the very least, evaluate it.
>> No. 66672
File 153433292940.jpg - (959.84KB, 999x1163, Sakuya-san.jpg) [iqdb]
66672
[X] books regarding youkai,
[X] after asking for Miss Sakuya’s help.

~~

[ ♫: http://listenonrepeat.com/watch/?v=Lyk4cbl9-eE ]
[フラワリングナイト - Eternal Eclipse (Saitama Saisyu Heiki & Aether)]

By the time he returned to the mansion, evening was not many hours away.

“So keep that in mind,” Sakuya reminded him, “because I will have to escort the Mistress to Reimu’s party once night falls. We’ll be going late to save the Mistress’s skin.”

“Yeah, thanks again,” he said from his chair, bright-faced in his zeal.

“Don’t mention a word of it. Here,” she handed him a tome, “this should be a better start than the one currently in your hands.”

He took it: another untitled tome, most likely authored by his Master. He and the head maid were in Master Patchouli’s library and researching youkai. He’d asked for his fellow human’s help in finding books as well as in discussion and understanding. He sat before a table piled with books he’d already been meaning to read, while Sakuya stood at a nearby bookshelf that... seemed to be having its contents periodically changed. It was a bit strange to see before his eyes, but he knew already that along with his peer’s manipulation of time came the ability to somewhat manipulate space. Hence the library never felt quite the same, even when sitting in it for hours on end—Sakuya would regularly manipulate its area and layout. He did not know if this was to discourage intruders, assuage Sakuya’s boredom, or to irritate his Master.

He put down the large, earth-colored book before him and opened it to his Master’s preface (and from the writing, he knew at once that it was his Master’s). It read so:

The dilemma of being a Magician Youkai is that we Magicians, although possessing great power, no need of sustenance, and optional eternal life, are for the most part, physically the same as humans. In fact, we are often lesser as a result of our means of experimentation. At the time of this writing, I have already become anemic for instance... Although I possess the dark power of a youkai, I can still be attacked by others who may ignore my energy and aura or simply confuse me for a human. This has also happened...

This is a book of countermeasures... or more importantly avoidance, to not have to contend with the more bothersome sorts of evil beings who may try to attack me in confusion or in malice. Keep your friends closer, your enemies closer, and unknowns near to your heart. The unknowns—youkai—will be known through this book.


He thought to himself after reading this, Why didn’t Master Patchouli give me this book to read when I looked for bestiaries before? He frowned, Just didn’t want to show any of her weakness, I’m betting. Chewing the inside of his bottom lip, her turned the pages over past the table of contents and to the meat of it: the entries.

... And he soon began to notice a trend.

Nothing to fear.
Nothing to fear.
Nothing to fear.

Every log and detailing and summary of a youkai began with these words. Had this been written by anyone other than his Master, he’d have suspected this to be a kind of self-fulfilling mantra, but as he knew her he was sure this was an honest and matter of fact evaluation of each and every other monster Master Patchouli could think of. It might become a mantra for me, he thought.

“Master Patchouli definitely wrote this,” he said.

“As you know, she wrote most of the books in the library,” said Sakuya, putting down another pile of books and having a seat on the right side of the table, so that she was beside him. His Master was elsewhere in the library at the time, penning another for the collection now that she’d conducted experiments using the souls of the dead. He was still deeply impressed that much of this incredible space was dedicated to one person’s works of only about a hundred years.

Looking at Sakuya, he saw that she now had a teacup, and seemed to be going over the books they had chosen and set on the table. She drank from the cup and meticulously dragging her finger across the spines. Briefly putting it down (on a plate that had not been there before), she continued speaking, “That book you have now was helpful to me when I began my training with knives under the Mistress’s tutelage. Like Meiling, Mistress Remilia wanted me to be capable of fighting and winning against anything.” She smiled, tapped the ridge of her teacup, and caught his eyes to follow with, “‘Like Meiling’ is a funny thing to say in this context, isn’t it?”

“Miss Meiling is quite strong,” he replied seriously, returning his eyes to the book and turning another page over, “though it is a funny thing to say. Did you see me against her earlier today?”

“Did I see her not working and then losing against our most recent resident? Yes, of course,” Sakuya answered. “That youkai needs to shape up.”

“Hmm...” he mumbled. He was now reading about beast youkai, and the many ways they manifested.

To this point, he had only looked into what he imagined would be local problem youkai he might stumble across in his work and trips, and his greatest focus had of course been on magic. He knew basic means to deal with just about any monster, but his Master’s specific details were proving illuminating. The beastlike nature of beast youkai, for instance, was something he hadn’t really gathered in his limited exposure to them. They to him seemed more manlike than animal, but reading these entries now he determined treating them more as animals would prove beneficial. Give a fox some tofu, spook a rabbit, attempt to intimidate those that would, as ordinary animals, succumb to intimidation... These means would all be much more conservative than to just rush into battle, without mentioning the potential safety of these tactics.

“... Suuuuwww.”

He leapt in his seat, a strange noise arriving at his ear. Slurping!? he thought, and looked to his right to find Sakuya over his shoulder, hand on the back of his chair. She was sipping tea while beside him at a deliberate volume. He shot her a shocked and vaguely angered look, but she only commented on what he was reading.

“How many times have you encountered beast youkai, Gen?”

“Not... too... often...” he answered, leaning away from her. “... Perhaps thrice, all in all. I try to leg it if I ever hear or feel anything suspicious, if I can.”

“Did you know how to identify them from ordinary animals?” she asked, looking at him with a smirk. “They’re not all in the shape of men and women, you know.”

“I didn’t know, actually,” he said, “though I know youkai don’t have to look human, and I’ve seen as much. There are youkai that look like animals completely?”

“Oh yes,” said Sakuya, standing up straight. “Patchouli and other youkai can tell them apart from feeling, assuming they are not disguising themselves like tanuki or foxes, so she doesn’t mention anything about identifying them in this book, nor any of hers in the library.”

He returned to normal posture, and waited for her to continue.

“The best way to tell is that they don’t often act as ordinary beasts do. Truly, their behavior is often slightly... off. It’s not something so easy to explain, as it’s best to know more about fauna in general before you begin to notice. You should come with me on some hunting and leisurely trips through Gensokyo, Gen; you could build up knowledge through observation that way.”

“A very kind offer of you, Miss Sakuya,” he said in earnest and with a chipper face.

Sakuya shrugged with exaggerated motions, her now-empty teacup vanishing from her hand. She said, “I do not want you to embarrass Scarlet Devil Mansion,” and went to the other side of the table to continue evaluating books.

He returned to the book before him again, saying, “In that case, might you have some other general advice, Miss Maid?”

“It is likely I do,” she said, bending over to look at an awkwardly placed column of manuals, “but I am rather together, Gen—I don’t think about most of what I do, I act upon what I know, feel, intuit, et cetera. You’ll have to give me a prompt to recall any specific advice.”

“Fair enough, Your Elegance,” he answered dryly.

Sakuya nodded politely, and continued. “My best advice is to read these books,” she told him, nodding now at the pillars of paper and leather on the table. It was then he noticed there were not as many as before, and saw tall in her hands most of the books he had chosen to put down among the others. “Not these, though,” she said.

“You.. You’re sure? I thought those looked... I mean, I thought they looked good... to read...” he mumbled, watching her walk over to bookshelves surrounding them, smoothly and almost acrobatically replacing the books one by one.

“I’m sure. Not that these have no use, but...” she slipped another in and showed him a pleasant, cheerful expression, “... for your needs, save them for another day, month, or year.”

“Hmmmm, okay...” he replied with reluctance, and a little disappointment could be easily detected in his voice.

“You really know almost nothing about youkai at all, Gen,” she said, smirking again. “I would say it’s amazing you’re still alive, but I’ll grant that you do indeed tend to remain to safe places when you wander Gensokyo.” Finishing her task, she faced him with her arms crossed, leaning against the shelf she was before and relaxing. “The books you intended to waste time on might increase your vocabulary right now, but not your capability.”

“I see...”

He had decided an assortment of mythological texts for reading, which would have kept him aware of even rare creatures in Gensokyo. Those were essentially all the ones Sakuya had decided to return.

“You will need to pace yourself when it comes to studying behaviors, strategies, and countermeasures. Prioritize what you can really expect, first. Retain that crucial information. Pacing matters for you especially, Gen, since you are clearly not very interested in any of this.”

“I-I’m interested!” he lied.

“You’re intrigued. Or more accurately: awakened to necessity. That’s what compels you, and that’s fine,” she said, now taking out one of her knives. “It’s boring stuff, I know.”

He looked at her, looking at her knife, in quiet. She, as always, looked entirely cool, calm and collected, even with a knife so close to her eye. He still only ever saw the breathing motions of her body if he ever spotted her asleep—she carried such impossible composure, really.

“Were you ever flustered in life, Sakuya? Ever?” he asked.

She glanced at him, and spoke after a moment, “... You’re inconsistent with the ‘Miss’, hm?”

“One day I’ll drop it entirely,” he said. “So?”

“Of course I have not always been composed. I had a childhood and I’m still an adolescent, Gen.”

“Still?” he asked. “In all seriousness.”

“In all seriousness,” said Sakuya, “you shouldn’t ask a woman about their age.”

“Oh, right, uhm, my apologies.”

“I have told you about my past troubles, due to my powers. There were many times then that I lost composure. You have surely also noticed by now that I anger easily.”

“It’s a composed sort of anger, though,” he noted.

“Goodness, Gen; just let me tell you that I am also imperfect.”

“Hmm...”

He looked at her pouting face and thought back to conversations with their Mistress. Mistress Remilia had informed him that she had “lost track” of how many years Sakuya had been at the mansion. Thus, he imagined that although she was not immortal, Sakuya’s “time” was being manipulated. It would explain her near-perfection, but also give him less confidence in himself.

“If you think that it is only a matter of vast experience that I can brave Gensokyo as if it is nothing,” said Sakuya, “you are right.”

It felt as though an iron lump had dropped inside of him to hear this, and his face reflected that disappointing feeling. However, Sakuya reassured him by saying, “But if that... ‘ordinary magician’ who lives in the forest can do near the same, you should carry more faith that you can get... a little close to me.” Sakuya did not look at him as she mentioned Marisa, so she did not see the enthusiasm return to his face. Indeed, Marisa was younger than him and had admitted herself that she did not travel Gensokyo fearlessly, only confidently. Although in his human lifetime he could possibly not reach Sakuya’s level of will and strength, he still had her to help him, and could still assuredly improve.

He read for a while longer, Sakuya eventually getting another cup of tea and sitting on the back of his chair, watching dust fall over the library. When he saw her doing this and gave her a look, she only said, “It’s a bother to clean,” and continue to relax. He finished the book, having made notes in his own journal, and continued onto another, and another, Sakuya chiming in or being called on regarding this or that beast and this or that method of handling something throughout his research. They also discussed common youkai haunts for a time, in general and in Gensokyo, which let a surprising amount of weight off his mind.

Later, while reading about mermaids, he mentioned to Sakuya, “Miss Sakuya, why don’t you become immortal yourself?”

And she, seated behind him, told him this: “Because being what you are is too precious to change.” He looked up at her, and her down on him. In the little light of the library, her pale figure did not demonstrate humanity at all, he thought. But, her words told different: “A name can change, a position can change, or a profession, or a place of living. Indeed, even your being can change, but I believe it should not.”

She spoke in an even tone as she delivered the core of her reasoning: “I am Izayoi Sakuya, Maid of the Devil, Resident of Gensokyo... titles, names, roles; but nothing ‘always’... With that said, I have always been human. I am the human servant of our Mistress, and that is what I will ever be.”

“So many people speak with conviction here,” he said.

“You have, too,” she observed.

“I think it’s contagious.”

The maid chuckled, and checked her breast pocket for her watch. “Look at that,” she said, “I must be off. Will you be joining us?”

========

Pick one or the other, but give your choices for companionship for both choices, in case the other wins.

[] Yes.
(attend the party, stay with, in particular:
[] Reimu [] Marisa [] Remilia [] Sakuya [] Yuyuko [] Youmu [] Alice )
Pick up to three.

[] No.
(stay and study with:
[] Flandre [] Master Patchouli [] No one )
Pick one, of course.

I.E.
[X]Yes.
[X] Bonnie [X] Clyde

[] No.
[X] Lincoln

-or-

[]Yes.
[X] Bonnie [X] Clyde [X] Teddy Roosevelt

[X] No.
[X] Lincoln

>> No. 66673
[X] No.
[X] Wakasagihime
[X] Meiling?
[X] No one.

[] Yes.
[X] Reimu
[X] Suika (That's... going to be next thread?)

Kizin you buzzki--- oh wait that was another guy. But I still wanna spend time with people who aren't going to the party!
>> No. 66674
[] Yes
[] Alice

Haha, cute girls in formal attire.
>> No. 66675
Disregard all 'o dis.

[X] Yes
[X] Alice
[X] Reimu
[X] Remilia

[X] No
[X] Patchouli
>> No. 66676
[X] Yes.
[X] Yuyuko [X] Youmu

[] No.
[X] Flandre

We should check up on our ghostfriends, especially since we haven't had the opportunity to interact with Yuyuko yet. (Or, if we end up staying back, getting Flandre's perspective on our situation would be interesting, too)
>> No. 66681
[ ] Yes.
[x] Reimu [x] Remilia [x] Sakuya

[x] No.
[x] Master Patchouli

Patchy is love.
>> No. 66684
[]
-[x] Youmu [x] Marisa [x] Reimu

[X] No.
-[x] Flandre

A weird voting method, but I understand its purpose.

My choices were made to maximize knoweldge on the topic of self preservation while being a human without including his master, as Gen so wishes to avoid showing such weakness. I think she'd be proud of him for realizing his limits though.

Except Youmu. That was purely waifu factor. Too soft~
>> No. 66687
[X] Yes.
[X] Marisa [X] Youmu [X] Alice

[] No.
[X] Flandre

Marisa because she's pretty relatable to our current situation. Youmu and Alice are just my preferences here.
>> No. 66691
[X] Yes.
[X] Marisa [X] Youmu [X] Alice

[] No.
[X] Master Patchouli

Nerds, unite up!
>> No. 66692
[x] Yes.
attend the party, stay with, in particular:
[x] Youmu [x] Alice

[] No.
stay and study with:
[x] Master Patchouli [] No one
>> No. 66693
[x] Yes
[x] Remilia [x] Yuyuko [x] Sakuya

I think I can see Gen possibly being the bridge between Remilia and Yuyuko meeting which would be amusing to me (I can't tell if it would go very well or very poorly) and Sakuya could be asked for input and commentary about the guests as a whole as they go.


[] No
[x] No one - Of the no options presented, Patchouli is so far beyond our skill that even she recognizes at some level that she can't properly give Gen the fundamentals and Flandre is so far removed from the youkai topic that I'm not sure she'd be anything other than just someone in the room.
>> No. 66696
[X] Yes.
[X] Yuyuko [X] Youmu [X] Sakuya

[] No.
[X] Master Patchouli
>> No. 66699
[] Yes.
[x] Remilia [X] Youmu

[X] No.
[X] Flandre

Moar Flandre time.
>> No. 66702
File 153474782433.png - (726.91KB, 1023x724, 1520694842107.png) [iqdb]
66702
Results:
[x] Yes.

[7] Youmu
[5] Alice
[4] Reimu
[4] Remi

[3] Sakuya
[3] Marisa
>> No. 66703
>>66702
Hmm. Looks like a tie there.
Given that I was >>66673 and voted for Reimu, add a vote for Remi to break that tie.
>> No. 66704
File 15347801705.png - (868.33KB, 800x566, drink up.png) [iqdb]
66704
>>66703
Too late.

Enjoy this long update. Actually too long for thp so I had to split it in two.

++++++++

[X] Yes.

[X] Youmu [X] Alice [X] Reimu [X] Remi


He looked to his book of notes (noticing only now with a break of flow that his left-handwriting was... genuinely not ideal) and put the quill he’d been using between its pages. He looked up and behind himself after to say, “I think that I will. Let me tell Master Patchouli first and I’ll meet you at the door. You did say I should pace myself after all, and I should probably cool off.”

“As you will,” said Sakuya, and disappeared. He stood then, marked where in the tomes he had left off, and began to wander through the library’s rows in search of his dear Master.

~~

“And here we are,” said his Mistress, landing before him and his fellow human, “the miserable stairs of a poor human. Unkempt as ever, aren’t they?”

“They are, Mistress,” said Sakuya in agreement. Gen was silent, looking over the Shrine’s staircase and surroundings with curious eyes. He hadn’t seen it or the hill it was on before without any trace of snow.

“We will, of course, walk from now on,” said Remilia matter-of-factly, “and look, the Sun is down;” she indicated to the sky for the both of them, where now hung the Moon, “I won’t be needing this anymore.”

His Mistress, who had been carrying a broad parasol, now closed it and handed the fanciful and girlish item to her second servant. She ordered simply: “Gen.”

“Yes, Mistress,” he answered, taking it and hanging it on his right wrist.

With it given, the vampire looked him up and down with a charming smile and a confident pose before declaring: “You look very cute.”

“Thanks, Lady Remilia.”

His Mistress only huffed with pride, her eyes closed. She turned from her two humans and started up the stairs, only to trip and fall, her wings spreading in shock. He started toward her at once, while Sakuya looked happy at his left, and walked past their Mistress without extending a hand. “Watch where you’re going, Mistress Remilia,” she said, and continued up the stairs.

The boy among them stopped at his Mistress’s side and offered his good hand, which she took and used to pick herself up, growling all the while. When he saw her face, he puffed with laughter behind harshly closed lips. She glared at him.

“Very well, Gen,” she said, “now you must escort me hand in hand up the stairs. Enjoy my cold touch, boy.”

He smirked at her demeanor, and kept her hand, saying, “Please, Mistress: you know this is a reward if anything.”

“Of course it is!” she answered, and they were off to follow Sakuya, who had not waited.

The Hakurei staircase to the same-named Shrine was quite pretty, he thought. In the outside world, he had lived somewhere where the night sky lacked stars, and on those Gensokyo nights when he got to see it, he was always taken aback for a while at the swirling, fantastical cosmos spreading overhead. On the staircase, it almost felt like he was ascending now into the Heavens, with a Devil in hand. There was a sound of joyousness in the distance, but mainly from the surrounding trees he could only hear the little things of the earth, loudly crying now that the season had finally turned: as if to scream “I am alive!” He squeezed his Mistress’s hand, feeling some significance to this time and place.

“You look happy,” she observed, “do you like the underside of Sakuya’s skirt so much?”

He turned his head to the vampire quickly, wearing a glare. “That isn’t where I’m looking!” he snapped.

His Mistress pointed upward, looking to tease. “It’s a nice place to look, though,” she said.

“Don’t tell Miss Sakuya that I said that, Mistress. She’ll kill me.”

“She will, won’t she! Ahahahah!!” his Mistress laughed, and then grinned, her left arm bent elbow out at her side in her childish glee.

Scowling, he continued to make his way.

After a few minutes (or so it felt), they neared the highest point, and Remilia spoke again. “Do you still keep my gift?” she asked.

“I always do,” he assured her.

“I appreciate that, Itou Gen,” spoke his Mistress in cool honesty. “Come now,” she said, “let’s enjoy bothering Reimu.”

He nodded, and they crested the hill where Sakuya stood waiting.

[ ♫: http://listenonrepeat.com/watch/?v=r8oOcoHyikk ]
[風穴カーニバル - Carnival! (Floating Cloud)]

“DRINK!“ roared a child’s voice, and a storm of cherry blossoms, shining with moonlight, blew over him.

He stood still, Remilia gently removing her hand from his and giving Sakuya a look (arms crossed), before joining her to enter the Shrine grounds.

Although when last he’d seen the Hakurei Shrine it was in a state that could only be described as “sorry” (and indeed still it was looking no better from a perspective of maintenance), at present it seemed to be bustling with excitement and gaiety, likely for the party had been going since the afternoon. The Shrine’s now blooming cherry trees were also showering the scene in a lovely and almost dazzling pink and white hue that made it splendor to witness. There were youkai reveling here, and he thought even one had the look of a tengu, but at the center of the chaos before him was Hakurei Reimu, looking the happiest of the bunch with Kirisame Marisa under her arm. More than the few other humans there, eating and drinking with monsters beside them, it was that little girl’s glowing face that told him there was nothing to worry about whilst on these grounds.

He hadn’t noticed while ascending the stairs with his Mistress, but there also seemed to be a band playing near the trees. Or... they weren’t playing, it seemed. Three flight-capable girls in distinct colors (red, black, and rose-white) were... perhaps manipulating(?) three separate instruments floating beside them to give song to the festivities. They brought strings, brass, and what seemed to be a keyboard of all things to the Hakurei’s gathering, and a festive, distinctly loud and somewhat messy song was being cast out from their direction. Although rough, it did not seem the party-goers minded the almost-noisy tune.

Still standing dumbly beneath the shrine’s torii, Gen returned his eyes to the guests surrounding Reimu. He wondered if he might find Youmu and her Mistress there, and in short order he did.

Moving first to a spread of food for one skewer of dango and another of fish, he intended to swiftly approach the dead and a half pair, but stopped after taking a single step toward them. With recollections of the day before, and a worry about the awkwardness of his self in general, he froze there, reconsidering an approach so forward.

Gen began to worry. Although he had become quite familiar with Youmu, he recalled that with parties he had nowhere near the same acquaintance. Sweating there, and with his heart beating nervously, he stood in front of the table of food, nibbling at his skewer of fish with a pale face. Chewing anxiously, he attempted to look as though he was appreciating the flowering trees while glancing toward Youmu now and then. After a little time had passed, he sighed, squinting at the earth instead.

The fates had mercy on him then, however, as when he stole another look at the half-phantom, he saw that she was looking at him as well. When she caught his eye, she waved toward him with a pitying glance that he wasn’t sure he understood, and beckoned him over. He looked behind himself at the no persons there, and began his uncool walk toward the girl of his sad affections. As he did, he came to understand her look of pity.

On Youmu’s lap was a significantly piled plate of food, and at Youmu’s side was Saigyouji Yuyuko, the Mistress of Hakugyokurou, eating from it plentifully. He approached them, and offered a greeting of, “Good evening.”

Youmu’s smile was still one of pity (he now knew toward herself) as she sat in seiza, while Saigyouji Yuyuko looked up at him with her doe-eyed faced, her seating posture a heart-catching yokozuwari.

“Oh my,” said the full-ghost of the pair, touching her lower lip with her left hand and setting down a pair of chopsticks in her right, “if it isn’t the boy from the Outside World. Welcome to my party.”

“It’s my party!” yelled Reimu, to his surprise (as it had not registered to him that the child was really very closely sat by the pair from the Netherworld). “This is a celebration for my resolving of the Incident!”

“I resolved it,” said Marisa, still under Reimu’s arm with her eyes now sleepily closed, and looking very red-faced.

“You got in the way,” grumbled Reimu, looking at her friend. After a moment she looked at Gen with a bright grin and said, “Like this guy! Hey, Gen, drink up! Have a seat and a dish! Go on, go on!” She splashed her own dish of alcohol in a boisterous gesture while addressing him, and he stiffly nodded while following her command.

“You can put those down on our plate,” said Saigyouji Yuyuko, looking at his skewers. With an “ah” of notice, he did so.

“Ah,” echoed Youmu, seeing his move, but elaborating no further than that. He raised an eyebrow as he looked at her.

“Here, a dish,” said the ghost beside him, handing him a sakazuki. He took it, and began to realize that without the floating spirits gently following this woman, he would not have taken her for dead at all. “Your cup,” she said, holding a tokkuri. He held the dish she’d given him up, and the Ghost Princess of Hakugyokurou filled it with the smooth motions of a thoroughly experienced host. He felt his face blush.

“Th-Thank you,” he said as she placed the tokkuri down among a large circle of others and picked up her own dish.

“Youmu, you too,” she said, and her servant took up a sakazuki as stiffly as he had. “A toast, to Gensokyo’s safety. Cheers!”

“Ch-Cheers,” the half and full humans said, stuttering in the same manner. They drank, and when he finished he put his sakazuki atop his crossed legs and reached for his now-barren skewers. He made a gasp of confusion then, looking at Youmu, who looked at her Mistress, miserable.

Saigyouji Yuyuko had her left hand now entirely over her mouth, and her eyes were closed. She said, “Delicious~” and he was astonished.

He opened his mouth to confirm his suspicions, and heard Reimu’s voice instead of his own: “‘Gensokyo’s safety’!? I don’t want to hear that from you!”

“Oh? What do you mean?” asked Saigyouji Yuyuko, genuinely confused. Reimu growled at her, reminding Gen of an angry dog. Yuyuko looked all the more concerned, mumbling “I don’t understand...” before turning to him and speaking again. “It is very nice to meet you, Gen. I am Saigyouji Yuyuko, Youmu’s master. I understand you are the one who helped my Youmu with her gathering of spring. That was very bad of you, you know.”

“Uh—” unused to her pace, Gen could only manage this, pausing after to compose himself and answer in seriousness: “Yes, I apologize.”

“Yes, you should,” she scolded, “Youmu doesn’t know aaanything. You shouldn’t have helped her, and should have let her learn on her own!”

“Oh,” he answered, thinking just after, Hm? That’s what she meant?

“L-Lady Yuyuko...” mumbled Youmu, blushing with embarrassment.

“What is it? Youmu. Speak up,” said her Mistress plainly.

“I-I’m...” managed Youmu, and he saw her quickly glance at him before staring into her sakazuki with an even more scarlet face, “I’m still young!”

Now he blushed.

“Oh, Youmu,” said Yuyuko, almost squirming with delight as she reached to her servant and began to pet her hair. Youmu squirmed as well, and he saw that she was not sure whether to smile. “You’re so cute, aren’t you?” continued her Mistress, following with “Hey, hey,” as she poked the half-phantom’s cheek. Youmu’s ghostly half twisted in the air behind her, and seemed to try to hide at her right side. Gen, who was still stunned from secondhand embarrassment, began to understand the gardener a little better.

Eventually he could talk again, and said “W-Well, I have a bad habit of helping, I’ll try remedying that.”

“Hmm?” replied Saigyouji Yuyuko, looking over to him, and she said no more than that.

“Ahem,” he cleared his throat, fist before his mouth. “I am honestly sorry that I had to try to stop you, Lady Saigyouji. I thought it would be for the best.”

“My name is Yuyuko,” she said.

“Ah, Lady Yuyuko.”

“My name is Yuyuko,” she repeated.

“Y-Yu... Yuyu... ko...” he said with painstaking effort and an expression to match.

“Talk to Youmu now,” Yuyuko casually ordered, standing up. “I will go see the flowers of earth, in their inelegance.”

“Hey!” came an expected shout.

“The beauty and majesty of these gardens, minute as a cat’s forehead, can of course not at all compare to that of those in the Netherworld.”

“A cat’s...? Jeez, I’ll send you to the Netherworld,” threatened Reimu, and with a fresh smile to the Shrine Maiden, Saigyouji Yuyuko walked toward the musicians and the cherry trees behind them.

“So that’s your master,” said Gen, watching the Ghost Princess stride away.

“Yes, that is Lady Yuyuko,” answered Youmu, almost in resignation.

“You seem to be a lot better, by the way, Youmu. I’m happy to see you in fairer spirits than yesterday,” he told her, taking up Yuyuko’s abandoned chopsticks and awkwardly grabbing some beansprouts from the cornucopia on the plate Youmu was steadying.

“Yes,” said the gardener, turning her lips up only slightly, “I had just needed to face a trouble I’d been having head-on. I also... I also have decided to hold onto the hope that my Master is still out there, and that his departure was a lesson I have yet to understand.”

“Oh?” he commented while munching.

“He, Lady Yuyuko, and Lady Yukari, are all adults who are hard for me to understand, but I am sure that in time I will have a grasp on it all.” She showed him a determined fist, smirking a bit with building confidence. “Until then, I’ll try to just be sure of myself first! I will follow the way of the sword that I know, and be certain of it! More certain! Absolutely certain! So, thank you Gen!”

He stopped chewing. With the simple innocence displayed in her face combining with her hopeful words, he felt as though an arrow had been shot through his heart. He quickly looked to the left, and then the sky, chewing again as his gaze shook. Bad...! he thought. This girl’s purity is too much...!

“Y-Yeah, don’t mention it!” he said, floundering. He pulled his eyes toward her again, and they went wide as his gaze fell on her neck. He noticed that it was exposed, her tie loosened and the first button of her shirt undone. His gaze sharpened as the thought of Collarbones...! fired through his mind. He tried not to focus any further on the sight. Not her small beads of sweat clinging to them, nor the tapered and smooth way they seemed to curve out of his sight, nor the motion of her throat when she drank another cup and sighed with heat, nor the way her chest rose and fell with the steadiness of her breath.

He tore his eyes upward to meet with hers and said, “You know Youmu...!” pointing toward Reimu’s entourage with the chopsticks he was holding, “My Master is here too! Well, my Mistress: Mistress Remilia!”

“Ah, the vampire?” asked Youmu with interest. “Is it that girl in the pink dress by Reimu? The winged one?”

“Yes...” he answered, already calming down. It helped that, at the time of his witnessing the Mistress, she was clinging to an irritated Reimu while squeezing a rather uncomfortable Marisa’s face in with her stomach. He continued, saying, “She can be unreasonable, but she’s done a lot for me since I got here, and she’s quite admirable.”

“Lady Yuyuko is not very admirable,” said Youmu frankly, which surprised him. “I am her loyal retainer all the same. I would do anything for my Mistress.”

“Well that’s good,” he said, “insofar as you must like her very much then. It’s not good what you two tried to do to Gensokyo and that tree.”

“I have to follow my orders,” said Youmu flatly. “Would you not do anything for Lady Remilia and Miss Patchouli?”

He thought about this, staring at Youmu for a moment before his eyes began to wander and his expression began to shift in thought. “At present,” he eventually started, “I don’t think that I would, honestly.”

“Gen, that’s terrible,” responded Youmu at once and with all honesty, a look of pity again on her face. He shared the look, and continued.

“My masters are the kind who could whimsically send me to my death should they be at all bored. I will have to say no sometimes, and it is expected of me if I’m being truthful.”

“Hohh... to your death...?” repeated Youmu seriously, sipping from her dish of new sake.

“The Scarlet Devil Mansion is a bizarre place run by bizarre people,” he said truthfully, though looking at Remilia he followed with, “but I’ve come to like it. I would do... near anything they would ask of me.”

“You need to work on your loyalty,” said Youmu, “I would half-die for my Mistress.”

“You’re already half-dead,” he told her, frowning.

“Ah, you’re right!” said Youmu in shock. He looked at her with concern. “What on earth...? I’d forgotten...!? Could it be the moon, driving me mad!? Could it not affect me while in the Netherworld...!?” The half-phantom held her head, staring into the source of her present conundrum in her other hand.

“You’re getting drunk,” said Gen, pointing at her sakazuki. “It seems that you’re a lightweight, Youmu.”

Again to his surprise, Youmu giggled at this comment, beaming at him and saying, “Heh heh, yeah, I am. Do you want to hold me and pick me up? I am very light in weight, you know!”

She held her arms out to him.

He put his hand up, and looked away from her while a blush spread over his cheeks and to his ears. As he answered, he glanced at her open collar several times in spite of himself. “I-I’ll pass,” he said, “in fact, I think I’ll leave you for a moment at least. I should take the time to talk with Miss Reimu and my Mistress while I have this festive opportunity.”

“Very good,” said Youmu, serious again as he stood up, placing his sakazuki down beside him. “I will guard Lady Yuyuko’s food. Be vigilant, Gen!”

“Uh, right, I will.” He put down the chopsticks he’d been using where he’d gotten them, picked his sakazuki up from the ground where he’d placed it, and walked toward the vampire, maid, magician, and shrine maiden.

“Oh ho, if it isn’t Gen, finally deciding to join his lord after escorting her to a party.”

Gen stopped before his Mistress, and with furrowed brow looked away before answering, “... ‘Lady’, Mistress?”

“Master of Fate!” said Remilia, squeezing a groaning Reimu and Marisa tight to her, “Your fate in particular, Gen!”

“Mm, yes, Mistress Remilia.”

With this, he sat on his knees before her. Remilia finally released the humans, and Marisa collapsed, her head falling on Reimu’s lap where she proceeded to sleep and drool. The Shrine Maiden flicked the magician in her cheek a few times, but it only made her friend readjust for comfort. Giving up, Reimu continued to drink, using Marisa’s head as an armrest.

“It looks like you get along well with the Hakurei, Mistress Remilia,” Gen commented. As he did, he spotted that Sakuya beside her seemed to be nodding off while sipping from a cup.

“Of course, it’s me after all,” bragged his Mistress. Reimu only glowered at her while drinking.

“So,” began Gen, turning to the little girl, “taking all the credit for resolving the incident, are you?” He smirked at her, and she turned her glowering on him, pulling the cup from her lips.

“I recall you being there, Gen,” she said, “but I don’t remember you fighting with that ghost.”

“I ‘fought’ with the tree, with Marisa’s help,” he told her.

“I didn’t need any help. I just needed my seals, my gohei, and my needles, like always,” the shrine maiden insisted.

“Well, rewrite history as it’s being made, little girl; I probably would be safer kept out of it anyway, and a Marisa even more big-headed than usual would just give me and Master a headache.”

“Reasonable,” said Reimu. “You get how this works. You want to take credit? Learn to fight first, and how to dodge before that.”

“Learn something first before first?”

“It’s easy,” she said.

Ignoring this nonsensical advice, he told her, “As a matter of fact, I’m going to learn how to avoid fighting altogether for now.”

“That’s even smarter,” Reimu told him, drinking more.

“Now is that so...?” his Mistress remarked, drawing his attention. When he looked at her, he saw her presenting him a filled dish, and realized shortly it was his. She delivered to him a composed look, and he took it to mean “be honored”. He was.

He took the dish and drank from it as his Mistress continued speaking, her mouth a perfectly devious-looking shape, “I appreciate your boldness every day, Gen, but you really will die by keeping up the way you’ve been going you know. Does Patche know about this change in direction?”

Finishing his cup, he answered, “I told her just today, before we left for this flower-viewing.”

“What did she say?” Remilia asked.

“‘Huh? Since when did you grow sense?’”

“Kyahahahaha!” his Mistress laughed, holding her stomach.

“She said that as punishment for being stupid for so long, she wouldn’t help me on this new front I’m attempting.”

“How cruel of her,” said the Devil.

“I haven’t seen that shut-in for a while,” Reimu cut in, “how’s she doing?”

“Master is doing great, and she isn’t a shut-in,” Gen replied.

“I invited your master, so why ain’t she here?” the girl asked.

“Busy,” he answered bluntly.

“Reimu, Reimu, listen to this...” his Mistress began, and the two of them turned to her. At this point, he noticed that Sakuya was fast asleep, sitting perfectly straight. The vampire continued enthusiastically, talking animatedly with her hands, “Patche made a replica of the Netherworld’s Hakugyokurou!”

“She’s still researching things about it,” he elaborated.

“Hmm...?” moaned Reimu, showing some interest in her eyes.

“It was a gift to me, and I will allow you to come see it if you like!” Remilia offered, touching a hand to her chest as her wings fluttered happily.

“I may take you up on that offer,” said Reimu, “because going to the real Netherworld is kind of a pain. Does it have real ghosts too?”

“It does!”

“That would be useful in the summer then. Or was it phantoms that were cold?”

“Sakuya caught both, and as well she gathered soil and unique cherry blossom petals,” explained Remilia, clasping her maid on the shoulder and waking her up,

“Hn?” was the only noise the maid made before quickly dozing off again.

Gen observed this small conversation worriedly, thinking that tampering with departed souls was really not the best thing to do (even if he had done so himself under his Master’s instruction).

So, he said as much.

“Shouldn’t you be worried about messing with the departed, Miss Reimu? The Mistress is already a lost cause.”

“Hey,” snapped his Mistress, who he did not give even a fleeting glance.

Reimu shrugged. “Nobody’s perfect,” she said, “and I’ll take my imperfections to the Yama in the end. She can judge me then, my good deeds and my bad ones.”

Spooky... he thought. Reimu’s so at ease with mortal life. I mean, I guess I sort of am too, but I’m not sure I could say what she said that easily.

“It’s those souls’ fault for not escaping Sakuya,” Remilia said. “They should’ve had more sense than that. How’d they even get caught!?”

“... That’s a good question,” he replied.

“Is it anything like catching rabbits?” Reimu asked.

“... They’re dead,” said Gen.

“What do dead people eat?” asked Reimu, looking at Remilia.

“I’m not dead,” said Remilia, shaking her head.

“Aren’t vampires undead?” the shrine maiden asked.

“As you can see, I am clearly alive!” his Mistress insisted. “And if I were undead, I wouldn’t be dead!”

“Un... I... guess?” pondered the Hakurei, looking puzzled. “But the undead are moving corpses?”

“I wonder if they can think if their brains are rotten,” said the vampire, arms folded as she seriously considered this.

“Let’s ask Sakuya, then.”

“Sakuya’s brains are totally healthy!”

“No, about catching ghosts.”

“Ahh...”

There was silence for a moment before Reimu spoke up again.

“... So?”

“... Our Sakuya is asleep. Please write a memo for her to read later and submit it as the standard mailing rules dictate. Before the witching hour.”

“‘A memo’—? ... I don’t have any paper.”

“Gen probably has paper.”

“Wait, why don’t we just ask a dead person?”

“Are there dead people here?”

“I think those two are dead.”

What is this conversation? thought Gen.

“Hey ghost!” Reimu called to Youmu, “What would you eat to fall into a trap!?”

But Youmu did not respond. She was chuckling to herself while hugging her phantom half, and seemed oblivious to the world.

“Tch, useless huh?” said the callous Reimu. Gen reminded her that phantoms were not ghosts, and further that Youmu was only half of one anyway. “... Hah?” was the shrine maiden’s response, before she began to lecture him about phantoms, ghosts, and departed souls in general in surprisingly great detail (more surprising was the fact that at no point did she prove phantoms were equivalent to ghosts, nor did she even try). Meanwhile, Remilia began to stack sakazuki atop Sakuya’s very still head, enjoying the rare moment she had caught her maid sleeping before bedtime.
>> No. 66705
File 153478026471.png - (348.52KB, 1049x1004, the dexterous magician.png) [iqdb]
66705
After Reimu’s lesson was done, she seemed to notice the music the trio on the outskirts of the grounds was playing, and seemed to favor it. She insisted that everyone come to join her before the little concert the strange girls were performing, but not before carefully removing the meter-high stack of cups on Sakuya’s head that Remilia had managed. She ordered Gen to bring the sleeping girls (Sakuya, Marisa, and now Youmu) inside her home, which he reminded would be difficult with his one good arm. She told him then to use one good arm, and one bad.

He was not happy with this answer, but still proceeded to listen to the child’s command. With much effort done, he put all the girls in Reimu’s room. He found quite a few futons to use, which reminded him that despite her lackadaisical veneer of aloofness and simplicity, Reimu was a genuinely helpful person. In fact, if he ever asked she would still take him safely to his first home, just like that. What a mysterious girl, he thought, covering Marisa with a sheet and refitting his hurt arm in its sling. Looking over those asleep he also thought, So Youmu’s phantom half is tethered to her, somehow...? At any rate, she really is quite light. Sakuya was the only one who made my arm hurt, really.

... Better not tell her that.


He left the room, and went to sit on the porch with another cup of sake. In the distance, all those of the party were cheering to an even-louder-than-before band. They played a high-energy rendition of Sakura, Sakura, and seemed to have the crowd enraptured. Appropriate, he thought.

“Won’t you join the cheering, sir?” came a woman’s voice. He looked up, and saw another familiar blond.

[ ♫: http://listenonrepeat.com/watch/?v=CAkCaVFb1lw ]
[grimoire of alice II – Duende (fromadistance)]

“Alice,” he said, pleasant in voice and expression, “I had been hoping to see you before the night ended. Sakuya mentioned you got in her way yesterday.”

“Yes, I got in all three of their ways,” she replied.

Alice Margatroid sat down at his right, and he saw that she was also carrying a cup of sake. Noticing his noticing, she said, “I also have a tokkuri,” lifting such a flask and chuckling.

“So why’d you fight the three of them?” he asked, and jumped slightly as he noticed a petal fall into his dish and float on top it. He relaxed considerably at the sight.

“I was merely having some fun, nothing more or less,” she said. “We youkai do love our fun.”

She looked over at the concert, and he followed her gaze. Someone had begun firing danmaku to light the trees and skies, and flowers were still scattering throughout. He looked over the dark and emptied grounds, petals all over it and glinting through the air still with the aid of Selene. The human village below lit fires to stave off the night, flickering distant in his sight. He put one foot over his other thigh, and smirked. It was indeed not as beautiful as what he had seen in the Netherworld, but it was still very, wholly, warmly wonderful.

“How’ve you been?” asked Alice. “I see you’ve gotten another injury? I’m sorry you had to carry the girls inside.”

“Shoulder definitely hurts,” was his reply.

“I have very good fingers, you know,” said Alice, wiggling said fingers beside him. “Would you like me to give your shoulder a massage?”

Gen looked at her, and naturally wanted to refuse outright, but decided on sighing through his nose with a closed simper worn on his face instead. “If you aren’t teasing me, please do,” he said, pulling off the top of his robe, unbuttoning his shirt, and properly exposing his shoulder. “I’ve really not been treating this thing nicely over these last two days.”

“Alright,” said Alice, setting down her dish and getting up on her knees behind him. She pressed her fingertips into his body and he winced at once. “Don’t suck it up if it hurts, little apprentice. Tell me so I don’t end up making things worse.”

“Got it,” he replied.

And she got to work.

He was surprised to find that, despite initial discomfort, Alice seemed to actually know what she was doing. As if reading his thoughts, she told him, “This is only a soft tissue massage; anything more wouldn’t do you any good.”

“What favor do you want for this?” he asked.

“Hmm... how about...” she started, pressing her thumbs into the right base of his neck. She bent in toward him and smugly suggested, “a lock of your hair?”

“Absolutely, Miss Margatroid. Let me pledge my soul to you,” he said, his words soaked with sarcasm.

“I would actually like a lock of your hair,” she continued, “but only to experiment with voodoo.”

“Then please ask for something else,” he replied.

And she laughed.

She continued massaging him, removing stiffness and pain from his injury, the sensation like rivers of warmth and gentle relief draining out from the hurting area. His mouth squirming to the simple, clinical pleasure, he thought more seriously about how he might repay this at a later date. “So I overheard you talking with the vampire and shrine maiden;” Alice said eventually, “you intend to focus less on your power and more on your survivability, hm?”

“Eavesdropping...” he said.

“At an open party, it’s hard not to,” she replied, smoothly dragging the heels of her palm along his muscles and making him reflexively keep one eye shut.

“Well, yes: I’ve decided on trying more earnestly to save my skin from now on so this kind of thing doesn’t happen again,” he told her. “As my mermaid friend puts it, I need to be a magician who acts like a magician.”

“What a novel concept,” said Alice.

“And don’t you know all about novel concepts, playing with dolls through magic?” he quipped.

“You won’t ever miss that beat whenever we talk, will you?” she asked, rotating her fingers over the upper right of his back now. “Lift your arm, I’m thinking of rotating it.”

“Alright. Also no, Alice, I never ever will,” he answered, doing as instructed.

“So even as you learn better survivability skills, I can expect you to be as rude as your master, hm?” she noted, rotating his shoulder slowly and looking over his arm thoroughly, eyes distant.

“You’re looking so seriously,” he noted before reminding her, “but I’m not a puppet so don’t think you can gauge my wood grain from sight alone.”

“The sass on this boy...” Alice whispered, grabbing both his upper and forearm while looking at him. “I’m still a youkai, Gen. Don’t whittle away my kindness.”

“Now it’s whittling, then?” he swiftly replied. “Only got wood-working on the brain?”

“As much as you have your unfriendly and airheaded Master on yours,” said Alice.

“Hey.”

“For an eye, I will take an eye,” said the youkai magician with a little grin. “By the way this really isn’t looking the best, you know? We magician’s already have weak bodies as it is, so you shouldn’t be pushing yourself with physical demand and injurious danger so frequently. You’ll just break down.”

“Yeah, I’ll try... Why is it that so many people aside from my Master tell me things like this?” he wondered aloud. “Takes her quite a bit to even acknowledge these sorts of faults...”

“Because the way your Master loves you is in how you impress her, Gen,” answered Alice in fact. “I’m surprised you haven’t gotten that.”

“Auh... Master... loves me...?”

“Now now, don’t be disgusting,” she chastised him, and he blushed as she kept at it.

And in time, she finished, the concert still ongoing. She sat beside him, and took up her dish. Looking at it, and him getting re-dressed, she proposed, “How about a toast?”

“Sure,” he said, slinging his arm once again and bringing up his cup after filling it. “What to?”

“To what else but magic? Cheers, Gen,” she lifted her cup and he touched his to hers.

“Cheers then,” he accepted, and they drank.

Alice took up the tokkuri between them and refilled their cups. “And to spring!” she declared.

“Cheers,” he said, and they drank again, Alice replenishing their dishes quickly.

“And of course, to the wonder of puppetry,” she announced next.

And they both clicked their cups and shouted “Cheers!” before downing their spirits. After, Gen realized what he had done, and realized he was likely drunk at this time.

“I’ve gotten you...” said Alice, hugging her knees close and pointing at him with her free hand. She snickered, and he laughed once, dryly.

“Well, haven’t you,” he said.

The trio at the edge of the woods announced their last song.

“Have I ever told you about the time I used a form of puppetry myself?” asked Gen.

“You... have not done that,” the senior magician answered.

“Then allow me to regale you... with the time I managed to topple the two greatest youkai exterminators in Gensokyo.”

“Oh...?”

“Yeah, I feel as if... it’ll be a little while before I have things as exciting as that in my life again,” he admitted. “Anyway, I had just finished shoveling snow from the shrine due to my Master using me as a bargaining chip, and Miss Reimu was getting very, very drunk...”

He told the story.

Alice told one of hers, and of her encounters with a certain flower youkai.

The party didn’t end with music, but began to wind down into a quiet atmosphere.

And soon enough, his first night so far away from the mansion in Gensokyo came to its peaceful end.

--End of Chapter 10: Hanami--

++++++++

Smells like sake.

That was fun to write.
>> No. 66706
Alice da cutest
>> No. 66707
I can't wait to experience moonlit spring nights again myself. Hurry and come, Spring!
>> No. 66708
File 153483943558.jpg - (19.01KB, 320x204, this update.jpg) [iqdb]
66708
OP, I swear to Hinyaa if your updates get any more adorable you're going to give me diabetes.
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