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File 153687834442.png - (1.95MB , 1514x941 , Setsubun.png ) [iqdb]
66845 No. 66845
A theme fitting for the tale ♫: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0tXMk-vk7ns
[Tada Rin Toshite - Starry Sky Logic (Kishida Kyoudan & The Akeboshi Rockets)]

Lyrics: http://www.faceorama.com/bluelight/kishidakyoudan/tadarintoshite.html

A story of magic.

Music Collection: https://mega.nz/#F!1BdBzIKZ!bhLzijfM3iyphpueDOKf0g

THREAD 1 >>65260
THREAD 2 >>65548
THREAD 3 >>65922
THREAD 4 >>66462
Expand all images
>> No. 66848
PS Look up what Setsubun (節分) means.

Current vote >>66836

to get a strange girl's attention

[] ... really open the floor by talking about myself. She might be used to Outsiders, but I’m far from an ordinary one.

[] ... talk about the forest instead. Maybe I can trick her into talking about something else?

[] ... ask her name; I mean, that seems like a normal step one, right?

Current tally is 4 (Name), 2 (Self)
>>66837 Ask for a name.
>>66838 Ask for a name.
>>66839 changed to >>66843 Talk about self.
>>66840 Ask for a name.
>>66841 Ask for a name.
>>66842 Talk about self.
>> No. 66849
File 153687934214.jpg - (20.20KB , 251x251 , clip+(2018-09-14+at+12_53_01).jpg ) [iqdb]
(X) ... really open the floor by talking about myself. She might be used to Outsiders, but I’m far from an ordinary one.
>> No. 66850
Can't forget

Histories of Yatsugatake, a Suika backstory short: >>>/shorts/2180
disappointed in myself for not getting this in the OP
>> No. 66851
[x] ... ask her name; I mean, that seems like a normal step one, right?
>> No. 66852
[x] ... really open the floor by talking about myself. She might be used to Outsiders, but I’m far from an ordinary one.

Women love it when you endlessly talk about yourself.
>> No. 66853
> ... Monster rabbits are no joke... and I don’t even have any grenades...

I know I'm late, but this almost cost me my sides.

[x] ... ask her name; I mean, that seems like a normal step one, right?

Gen's totally cute enough to play the adorkable card. Boy can't into socialization.
>> No. 66854
[X] ... ask her name; I mean, that seems like a normal step one, right?

We must know the name of our ridiculously awesome savior who acts like they just walk straight out of an action film.
>> No. 66855
Wasn't Mokou expected to be cagey because she had no reason to expect us to see her again? Let's show otherwise.

[x] ... really open the floor by talking about myself. She might be used to Outsiders, but I’m far from an ordinary one.
>> No. 66856
[x] ... really open the floor by talking about myself. She might be used to Outsiders, but I’m far from an ordinary one.
>> No. 66861
[x] ... ask her name; I mean, that seems like a normal step one, right?

Outsider talk seems a tad too risky.
>> No. 66862
[X] ... ask her name; I mean, that seems like a normal step one, right?

Seems more a normal thing to ask or tell about honestly.
>> No. 66863
...Risky? Really?

We're talking about one of the people least likely to kill a human we're likely to encounter in this story, outside of those based in the human village. And for most outsiders, the best course of action when in Gensokyo is to leave it. We're still here because this is an intriguing land of fantasy - someone motivated to save lives would not be ill advised to avoid letting someone make a deeper connection to that.

Hence, why Mokou just responded with a bold-faced lie when we probed. Even if I'm wrong about the why, she's not going to open up in response to normal conversation. If an option doesn't change her impression of who we are, her bullshitting isn't going to go anywhere.
>> No. 66864
She won't bother telling us about herself because she thinks we're leaving.

[x] ... really open the floor by talking about myself. She might be used to Outsiders, but I’m far from an ordinary one.
>> No. 66865
File 153709750325.png - (828.32KB , 768x1024 , Mokou.png ) [iqdb]
[X] ... ask her name; I mean, that seems like a normal step one, right?

He balled his fist before his mouth and cleared his throat. “Well,” he began, “may I ask for this yakitori stand owner’s name?”

The girl didn’t even seem to consider what he said. In fact, with how she proceeded he felt that she may not have listened to him at all. Eventually he did hear a small sound from her, a little “hm” of simple resignation. She turned her head as if to let the next word simply drop out of her mouth and off her shoulder. Without much of any concern in her voice, she told him, “Mokou.”

An unusual name, but more importantly he was surprised to hear only one. Thus far he couldn’t think of any people, youkai or otherwise, who had only one name aside from...

He stopped moving.

“One name...” he said to the ground, and almost to himself. He looked up at Mokou, put his eyes on the back of her head, and asked her in all seriousness: “Are you some kind of fairy?”

Mokou finally stopped. She took a few seconds to answer, “Fairy...?” once more talking only barely over her back. “Not all fairies have only one name. For instance, I hear there’s a trio of them in the Forest of Magic that each have family and given names.” He expected her to leave it at that, as she said nothing for several more seconds. Eventually, though, she turned around to face him from her side. Her thin eyebrows were twisted in light confusion, and her lips were parted as if a question was just on her mind. Then, she asked it. “Aren’t you from... well, Japan? A Japan without anything... strange? Are you a human villager who just happened to get Outsiders’ clothes?”

“I’m not a human villager,” he answered, smirking with a little hesitance. He’d had... a KIND of breakthrough.

Mokou smirked and asked him, “Not human, then, but a villager?”

“Youkai villager? I hope that’s not the case in any case.”

“There is one... a half-youkai villager,” said Mokou tilting her head. She began steadily, but not quickly, bouncing her heel, and after looking him over quite a while said, “You’re from around here. And... you’re definitely human. Where?”

“What’s up with that? I have to answer your questions seriously, but you’ll just ignore mine?” he said, just somewhat cheekily.

Mokou shrugged with one shoulder and both eyes closed, turned her back to him, and said, “Fine, just thought it was curious, but that’s fair enough.”

[ ♫: http://listenonrepeat.com/watch/?v=ZUGelxx62Ao ]
[エクステンドアッシュ ~蓬莱人 - 東方ふゅーじょん Spreading Full Colors (UI-70)]

Wait wait wait wait wait...” he said in a small panic, hand held up. She looked at him again, pushing out her lips a bit in a bit of a sassy manner. Letting his fingers curl to his palm, he began to lower his hand and said, “Fine. I’m from Scarlet Devil Mansion.”

“How about that...” she spoke, looking fairly impressed, though coolly so. She thumbed her chin, still looking him over. “Keine said they don’t dress like... ‘new’ Outsiders, though. Like, they look pretty classic. Not like you.” She showed her teeth in a smile. “Interesting!”

Gen was taken aback by her expression, which was plainly and simply... very nice to look at. It felt nice, seeing her smile. It wasn’t moving his heart as Suika’s pleasant grins had done to him early in the day; it was just a rather good thing to see. Her nose was scrunched just slightly, he only saw a glimpse of her spotless teeth, and she looked... really, completely, fully glad. He felt soothed.

What a refreshing smile... he noted within. I can hardly believe someone threatening murder could have one like that only minutes after she was raging.

“So...” he said, “will you tell me your name now?”

Her smiled vanished, replaced with confusion again. He was a little disappointed. With an eyebrow raised, she told him, “I already told you? I’m Mokou.”

Just Mokou? That’s your only name?” he pressed, leaning forward. Her reply was steadfast, and she lifted a palm toward the sky in a gesture of open honesty as she gave it.

“A name is a name,” she said. “It’s the name my father gave me.”

How are you called?” he followed. Mokou laughed again, and he was briefly happy to see her happy.

“Whoa, that’s a formal way of putting it,” she said.

Gen decided he would give and take. In a short, firm move, he spread his hand over his chest to present himself, and said, “I am called Itou Gen. And you?”

“Itou...” she confirmed, and he was surprised to see her surprised. She looked like she was thinking that name was impossible to possess, and as if to follow on that asked him, “Is that with the ‘I’ from ‘Izu’?”

“Yes, but not the ‘tou’ for ‘east’,” he replied almost practiced, nearly rolling his eyes. It may have actually been a little practiced at this point for him.

“Then what’s the ‘tou’ from nowadays?” she asked.

“Nowadays”...? “It’s ‘wisteria’, the flower.”

His name was excessively common in Japan, and there was a theory... really more of a kind of belief without proof that his family (and any other family of ‘Itou’ men and women) descended from a clan called ‘Itou’ (of the East). This alone was dubious, what was more dubious was the ancient clan’s claim of nobility. The unverified assertion was that the Itou (of the East) were descended from Fujiwara no Korekimi, the Fujiwara being an exceptionally noteworthy historical Japanese clan. The idea was that one Itou branch used the kanji for “wisteria” instead of “east” at some point, which became the norm in present day and was recognized as a sign that they were tied to the Fujiwara, whose name began with the “wisteria”.

The Itou had certainly been influential at any rate, but he always thought it was rather silly to tie modern Itou to historical ones, let alone to compare them to the great Fujiwara. Thus he would scoff whenever the idea was brought up. There weren’t many surnames in the Land of the East as common as “Itou”.

“I am Fujiwara no Mokou,” said Mokou, smiling lightly, “We’re blood.”

“Fujiwara... ‘no’?” He repeated, it now being his turn to think of something as impossible. It had been nearly a millennium since there was a Fujiwara (that he knew of, at least) who referred to themselves in that ancient way. It was only ever just the format of Fujiwara Name now, like any other family.

“Something odd about that?” she asked, looking very warm to see him.

“Wait... what are you? You’re not a youkai?” he interrogated, not sure he was understanding anything.

“I’m a human, man,” she informed him.

“Is the Fujiwara clan still powerful in Gensokyo?”

“The Fujiiwara clan doesn’t exist in Gensokyo, it’s just me,” she said.

“Then... how old are you?” he asked,

“That’s rude,” she said with a frown. True, it wasn’t a polite question, but...

“I guess I’ve been around for a little while,” she said, looking off to the side and thinking. “I never thought I’d see family again, to be honest.”

He began to worry a little, seeing her lost in thought. He told her, “I don’t think you should assume we’re family. ‘Itou’ is the sixth most common familial name in Japan. We aren’t special.”

“‘Special’...” she repeated. She looked up at him. “I don’t know about you being special, but we’re definitely cousins... There was some stir and a Fujiwara and a Kudou... that’s one of the families we made, that time from the Nanke in the south... ended up making something nobody wanted. It wasn’t recorded because no one wanted it recorded, but I was surprised when, while war was tearing the country apart, that bastard clan the child had forged managed to rise to prominence. And here I am just... hm.”

He seemed to have figured something out. Scrutinizing the earth, he grew more and more certain. He turned his scrutiny on the Fujiwara. “You’re immortal... but a human?”

Mokou did not answer.

“That shouldn’t really be possible,” he said, “even immortality through Taoism doesn’t keep you ‘human’.”

“You might not be special,” said Mokou, turning to walk again, “but I am.”

He watched her go and suddenly gasped. That was it. The cool exterior, the casual mannerisms, the awesome power, and the flame motif: she was like a Guilty Gear character!

“Keep up, native boy,” said the admirable immortal, leaning forward and looking at him almost upside down. As she straightened up she continued with, “and keep talking, I want to hear what you have to say.”

He breathed in, and then out in a sigh. He supposed he wouldn’t get much else from this girl. “Alright,” he relented, following after that, “I suppose I’ll... bore you with the details of me.”

“It’s not boring,” she said with a sincere and kind glance back at him.

He blinked, thought, and then started watching his feet as he walked.

“Then, I suppose I’ll start with where I’m from...” he said, and he did just that.


“I did my usual ‘walking around aimlessly’ thing and I wound up in Gensokyo on the night the Scarlet Mist got resolved. I don’t know how.”


“The first days were harrowing... I was almost killed a bunch, even though I got picked up by the guard at Scarlet Devil Mansion. There was a ghost, two vampires, and that youkai at the gate and I thought all of them wanted to eat me. At least one definitely did. There was also a witch in the basement who tried to set me on fire.”


“Yeah. She’s my magic instructor and Master now.”

“What the heck?”

“Have you heard? The Devil of that mansion can change fate.”

. . .

“What happened next?”

“Sakuya came in with something I later figured out was a special plant’s seed to figure out if the sun I’d made was real. Basically, it sprouts in true sunlight. It was Master’s idea.”

“Just like her, huh?”


. . .

They were stopped, one on the ground, one leaning against a bamboo stalk.

“I thought the mermaid was dead. I really just wanted to stab myself in the heart for letting that happen to someone I’d just met.”

“I heard there’s some rules to stop killings in Gensokyo nowadays, though.”

“It wasn’t exactly playing by the rules.”


“But! I acted fast...!”


. . .

“And there was a cute mouse.”

“Heh. Nazrin, right?”

“Yeah, I haven’t seen her in a while.”

. . .

“I stopped. There it was: the Sanzu River.”

“... Hm.”

. . .

They were walking again.


“No, seriously! I beat them both in one fight.”


“I’ll bring you to the Shrine myself and show you!”

“I’m not leaving this forest.”

. . .

“So that... that winter was kinda on you? You... You get caught up in too much stuff. What kind of human are you?”

“As many have told: a stupid one.”

“Tell all of them they’re right.”


. . .

They had taken longer than was needed, Gen having poured out his life’s tale to his savior, who claimed interest just from it being another’s words, and additionally from it being the words of her kinsman. Mokou, however, had said nothing about herself. After the effort of almost pulling teeth that was getting her last name, Mokou had done no more than acknowledging her supposedly very long life. They reached the forest’s exit, and Gen still had no inkling as to what he had witnessed before she had decided to get him safely to the village.

“We’re here,” she said, stopped in front of him. She turned to face him. “Can you make it back to Scarlet Devil Mansion safely on your own?”

“Hopefully,” he answered. “It’s dangerous for me to be out at night.”

“Want me to get you there?”


“Too bad I won’t, then,” she said, smirking.

“What...? Seriously?” he replied, looking bothered and miserable.

“I have less capable Outsiders to stumble on and help out. It was nice meeting you though, Gen. I haven’t seen your magic, but if it’s any good come back to the Bamboo Forest sometime. It was lucky I met you tonight, and I don’t mind talking more.”

“Lucky...” he repeated, frowning. “All this because I’m ‘family’?”

“Family is important,” she said quietly but firmly, not looking his way. She told him, “Despite everything, I will never stop being a child of Fujiwara. No matter I’ve done, no matter... whatever was done to me. That’s my clan.”


She recovered from what looked to be a memorial precipice and pointed at him. “And you’re in it, no matter what anyone says.”

He wondered why she’d used the word “anyone” rather than just referring to his denials.

She lowered her hands and closed her eyes, still speaking. “If you think it doesn’t matter, I haven’t met any other Itous in my time here... so if you want something special: this is it.”

She looked at him again. “Um... please,” she requested, but wasn’t specific. Her request was delivered earnestly and almost staid, and he could tell she was apprehensive. Hesitant himself, he approached her after a few seconds of consideration.

“Alright,” he said with a calm smile when he was in front of her, lifting his forearm toward her, “Mokou-nee it is, then.”

She blinked, and lifted her own forearm. With a nervous smile, and both their hands closed to a fist, she brought her arm to his in a gesture of kinship.

Family, huh? he thought as they held steady the bond between them. I mostly couldn’t care about what blood I have, but I can tell it matters to her.

I won’t try bothering her anymore, but I definitely want to know what she’s about.

They took their hands apart.

I’ll definitely be seeing you more, Mokou, sis.

“Alright then, don’t die, and come bother me again,” said his cousin, returning her hand to its pocket. She slouched slightly, almost in a bow, and walked away from him to return to the forest. “Just be careful if you do come back,” she said as she left, “the bastard who tried killing you will try again if she thinks you’re... dangerous, I guess.” When she reached her destination, she stopped, turned, and spoke to him from the swallowing shadows of the thicket. “And my Enemy... that scum lives here too, along with youkai that’re no joke. Don’t trust the rabbits either. This grove is a gorgeous place, but, Gen? Don’t ever mistake it. Here is a hell: spilling blood, and full of deceit.”

Fire overtook her, and as she vanished in the flames and dark she parted with the final words:

“So, ‘The Bamboo Forest of the Lost’.”

It was as if the forest had become sealed, and after hearing what she said, the apprentice felt legitimately spooked, his bones seeming to grow cold. He swallowed, and looked at the heights of the bamboo.

... Ah.

He came to a realization, his mouth opening just slightly.


He readjusted his bag and squeezed the strap. This day had only gone well for one reason, and so his entire impression of the forest could be thrown into question. He had crossed paths with the White Rabbit of Good Fortune: Inaba Tewi. Almost from the start, until he met with the girl named Mokou... he hadn’t been seeing what this place truly was.

He shuddered then and there, staring at his feet, and realizing that if he had not met Mokou (his encounter with which may not have been a matter of “luck” but “chance”) he would have returned to this forest with his guard entirely down.

And if he didn’t see the Rabbit again, that would mark the end.

Sobered, confused, and with many thoughts and questions, Itou Gen finally turned from the forest, and began to make his way home.


image sources:
and >>66845

SO, in case you're wondering the "right" choice, insofar as it would have had the best outcome, was to talk about yourself. Those of you who were right, good on ya, but the reasoning of asking for a name isn't BAD, just not ideal for Mokou. Mokou is very mum about herself without a fair amount of time given for her to get used to you, BUT she's a good listener. Similar to how Komachi always talks to the Dead she ferries across the river, Mokou pretty much always happily listens to those who she takes out of the forest, only ever saying the "yakitori stand" bit. This is canon and true! This applies to everyone, not only Outsiders but villagers too. If anything she's more known for dealing with villagers who get lost, and still not talking to them much.

Mokou also took a shine very quickly to Gen, only because of his last name. If you think this is bizarre, it's definitely not an explicitly stated aspect of her personality that Mokou is big on family and the bond it implies, but it's shown. Go ahead and read her CiLR chapter and her profile/backstory if you haven't! Basically, her past, and how she hasn't abandoned it, really highlights how much who she "is" and who she's tied to mean to her. I take this farther than her immediate family for REASONS, not my own, but based off of Mokou's personal history with being a... family member.

I won't give all her details away but do encourage you to read up on her if only because ol' Kizin here loves him some Mokou. By the way? The name connection was a complete coincidence. I chose Itou because it paired nicely with Gen, and learned about its kanji characters a while after starting.
>> No. 66866
I don't want to be mean, but it occurs to me that Gen's a bit...

Let me put it this way, in the relatively short amount of time he's spend in gensokyo so far, the list of things he's accomplished includes:

- Winning a contest for his life against patchouli after having spent only about an hour or so reading about magic in a book she gave him.

- Impressing Remilia enough that she decides tp change his fate and make him part of the household.

- Fighting and holding his own against not-cthulhu at the bottom of the lake, parting the water like Moses in the process.

- Surviving getting wrecked by YUUKA KAZAMI.

- Beating both Reimu AND Marisa at the same time.

- Helping to defeat the youkai tree in the netherworld, easily dismembering a hostile youkai on the way there.

- Getting ambushed by ANOTHER youkai at the lake, whom he almost managed to kill permanently, according to Wakasagihime.

- And finally, beating an ONI in a protracted contest.

The point I'm trying to make is that I just don't ever buy that Gen's in as much danger as the story means him to be. He's TOO powerful at this point for me to believe that gensokyo really poses that much of a threat to him. Every character, and even Gen himself, keeps going on and on about how lethal the place is to him and how he needs to learn his limitations but I'm just not seeing it. It was particularily jarring when Gen got unsettled after the aforementioned ambush at the lake, which just seemed bizarre considering how well he's been doing in almost every other encounter.

I do enjoy this story, a lot. Its just that this has been bothering me for a while and I felt I needed get this off my chest. Sorry.
>> No. 66867
File 153714711291.jpg - (105.97KB , 1000x867 , 8855e2ec9ff137b82e216cac1c0c68d0.jpg ) [iqdb]
I think your concerns are more than warranted as this is something I think is a problem with the story myself, my desire to both present Gensokyo as a danger and, honestly, portray a person who could survive that danger.

Gen is mortal and fears for his mortality a lot of the time even for small encounters should he ever, ever, EVER feel unprepared. It doesn't matter how skilled he is because in the moment, assuming the battle is legitimately life or death, that means that a mistake could kill him. Buuuut... a mistake would kill the story too, no? I know it's an artifice but I don't want to end this prematurely with the boy dying just like that. As for being fearful despite being objectively powerful or skillful, this trait is actually taken from Kirisame Marisa, who is still easily spooked to date by youkai, although she often tries to be cool.

So what I want to do is, again, portray a person who COULD survive. This is why Gen:

-Has the pre-established traits of being obsessively studious and interested in magic.
-Happens across Patchouli Knowledge.
-Gets Remilia Scarlet to change his fate.

With these three core elements, I am hoping to create a character who can convincingly survive the encounters we put him through. To this end he also has not been put in EXTREMELY deadly situations without either a significant amount of help or the whim of the person fighting him (the Sea Monster and Kazami Yuuka, in respective example). Gen will always be afraid, because in his eyes it doesn't matter how strong he is when he conceivably COULD die at any moment. I don't think this will resonate with someone reading it, because they know he will probably survive. To THIS end I try injuring him instead, and furthermore there are a few points throughout where he could have suffered permanent damage of some kind, but those have been avoided thanks to your decisions.

I know that this story began with a tone of "survival", but my actual intent has always been to show a story of a person who "survives". Someone who WILL make it, against what odds are against him. Why? Due to diligence, preparation, practice, and connections most importantly. I want to figure out how an otherwise basic human outsider could survive in Gensokyo despite it being a meat grinder for his kind. The potential of death will always keep Gen worried, but I don't actually mean to convince the readers that he is in mortal danger, the danger is his own concern. My intent is really to entertain with a story about someone who actually makes it. Hence Gen's declaration near the very beginning:

>(Alice) “Would you mind telling me what philosophy it is you’re following ever since your arrival?”

>“Be a coward, be brave,” he said, “until cowardice is no longer of any worth. This is a mad world, and hiding away all the time in it would only make me a waiting meal for hungry monsters. However, I can’t forget: caution will be my only shield for now as I make my foolish way.” He looked Alice in the eyes next and finished with, “’Let me one day march through dream and nightmare lands with hand of fire and heart of flame’. That sort of silly thought now drives me.”

>“I see,” replied Alice, looking satisfied, “so this is why you’re Patchouli’s favored.

I hope this is reasonable/makes sense. I totally get the criticism, but that's basically what I intend for this story.
>> No. 66870
Something else relevant from the first thread. This was from Patchouli's perspective.

>Gen would not be able to entirely separate “fear” from “youkai” until he himself transmogrified into a full magician. It was beyond early to be thinking of such things, of course, so he would remain cowardly for some time to come. To his credit, though, the boy also knew courageousness, and she did find it admirable and human how he often decided when faced with a wall to not succumb to what brought him there, but instead break through it by all means. He’d grow in power, youkai or not, and have less cause for fear.

>He was nice.

Metatextually, or whatever, the story actually starts off without a choice and yet Gen survives, to show that he is a survivor/resourceful/studious etc.
>> No. 66871
> "right" choice

I was voting for (or at least trying to) the in-character choice. As in, no meta-knowledge. It seems kinda harsh to call that "wrong". I get your explanation though, and I did spot the connection - or close enough that it didn't come as a surprise.

> Gen OP nerf nao

I think you've done a pretty good job of balancing the story. Gen needs to be a little overpowered, because everyone in Gensoukyou is overpowered. It really does feel like one wrong move could kill him... but that would end the story, and BAD ENDs aren't in vogue anymore.

> Seija pics

Stop teasing me! There's been an amanojaku-shaped hole in my life since Isolex dropped his story. All the more motivation to start writing one myself, I guess.
>> No. 66872
> "right" choice

>I was voting for (or at least trying to) the in-character choice. As in, no meta-knowledge. It seems kinda harsh to call that "wrong".
Yeah hence quotes, and "for Mokou". It's perfectly reasonable for Gen to ask... That's why it's a choice :>
>> No. 66874
File 153718603760.png - (817.24KB , 761x994 , The Scarlet Devil Mansion.png ) [iqdb]
[ ♫: http://listenonrepeat.com/watch/?v=EzD7D2p7stU ]
[Re:Clean Sky - 幻想古今奇譚 (Glassy:oceaN)]

It wasn’t a quiet night, and he encountered three youkai on his way home, telling him his luck from Inaba Tewi had certainly run out, likely before an arrow almost took his head. He returned to the mansion, waving to Meiling as he flew down behind the gate. He went inside, and headed down to the library.

“Master? Sakuya? ... Anlight?” he called as he entered through the book domain’s colossal doors. Eventually, a feeble voice somewhat near replied.

“Over here.”

He went in the direction of his Master, and found that Sakuya was looking at her with her arms folded and frowning. Patchouli Knowledge was at a work desk, simultaneously reading, noting things down in an open book, and trembling ever so slightly.

“Master!” he snapped, “Did you get any sleep at all today!?”

“No,” she told him. In response, he gave a look blending concern and disappointment to his fellow human. Sakuya returned his gaze and shrugged.

“She fought me when I tried to get her in bed,” said the maid, sighing. “As in, it came down to a duel. She won.”

“Patche gets like that sometimes,” he heard, and turned to see his Mistress seated in a comfortable chair with a large book in her hands. The title was Die unendliche Geschichte, and he saw that Remilia was almost crying while reading it. He didn’t know German... he’d have to ask her what it was later.

“Well...” he returned his attention to Sakuya while speaking, “I did as you requested regardless.”

He pulled the satchel off of himself and opened it to show her. She made a sound that told him she was impressed and picked one of the shoots out from the bag. “These look great,” she evaluated, rotating the fresh bamboo before her eyes, “good job, Gen. I’m sorry I couldn’t fulfill my end of the deal.”

“Master Patchouli will be Master Patchouli,” he replied, taking from the bag the small pouch he’d found in the forest. He looked at his Master, and what she was researching, and knew she was too absorbed to discuss his find. He closed the satchel and gave it and its contents to Sakuya.

“Oh, Gen? You’re back?” came an adorable voice from above. He looked to one of the tops of the bookshelves around them and saw his younger Mistress lazing around on her stomach, a copy of a volume of the manga Crows in her left hand, which was hanging off the side. She looked almost like a gold and crimson bat at rest. “So? How was the Bamboo Forest?”

“I’m not actually sure; I spotted the White Rabbit of Good Fortune, so it’s hard to say what the place is actually like based on my experience... which was good, by the way. Thank you for asking, Mistress Flandre.”

“Don’t mention it!” she answered cutely, pulling her manga up and reading it while lifting and swaying her feet behind her.

“The White Rabbit of Good Fortune...” mumbled his Master. He and Sakuya looked down at her in her seat as she put down her research materials. “You must’ve gotten lucky, then... Inaba Tewi, no? Did you find anything good, aside from bamboo shoots?”

The two humans only looked at her. To them, her eyes looked quite horrible... or rather, the area beneath them did.

“Sorry, Gen...” she said, looking down, “just a moment of zeal, that’s all. I’ll sleep, so tell me about your trip.”

He called to a chair and sat down before her when it came slowly flying to him, taking a poor and slouching posture. “It went well,” he said, “but now I don’t know what to watch out for if I go there again. I’m almost more scared.”

“Nothing to fear,” she said, looking at him and resting her hands on her lap, “not only are you capable, but Fujiwara no Mokou is likely to assist you should you ever become lost in there.”

“So Master did know about Mokou, sis,” he replied a bit quietly. Sakuya meanwhile went off to prepare tea.

“‘Sis’, eh? She lets you call her that because of your name?” Patchouli asked.

“Rather, it seemed like she wanted me to call her that,” he said. “I also found this,” he continued, presenting her with the black pouch.

“This... hmm...” she mumbled, taking it. Without pulling it out the pouch she said, “it’s a stone from Heaven, is it not?”

“... Eh? You can tell, just like that!?”

Sakuya returned, giving them both mercifully delicious drinks to nurse, while she took a cup herself and began blowing away its steam.

Patchouli told him, “I’ve seen it before, this cloth and this weight it’s carrying, not out and on my own though... I’ve had them given to me now and then, or have acquired them otherwise.” She opened the pouch allowing it to light her face, and said, “Look,” as it did not move. “There is still a roof in the way, so it isn’t compelled back to the sky. When you were outside, it began to float outside the bag, didn’t it? The more bored Celestials sometimes contain these in pouches like this one and drop them... or so it is rumored.”

“So these stones belong in the sky?” he asked, sipping from his teacup with both hands.

“Yes. Celestial earth...” she confirmed, sipping as well with one, “it’s an interesting material. Keep it and treasure it, Gen, like you do Remi’s gift.” She set down her cup on her desk, closed the bag, and handed him his discovery. “Don’t let it return to the sky, of course... You may want to ask that rude shinigami who comes uninvited about it, actually. I recommend that. I don’t know very much about Heaven... it’s not like I want to go there. I only know about what falls from it... like rocks, veils, and dead immortals.”

He had heard about the immortals, from that very same Komachi. He put his boon from the Rabbit’s luck in his lap, and noted to himself to lock it away within the library later on.

“One last thing, Gen,” said his Master, swaying slightly. He looked at her with concern. “Tell me about Setsubun tomorrow morning. Tell me everything you know.”

He squinted, and became confused... only for a moment. His eyes sharpened from an understanding.

Wait... Does...?

Does Master Patchouli hate oni...?

His expression contorted further. That wasn’t good.

“Hm...? Well, can you do that for me?” Patchouli asked, not grasping his confusion. He looked up at Sakuya, still blowing at her cup.

“Sure can,” he answered stiffly. This was bad... if it was true.

He decided to shelve the thought. Looking back at his drowsy Master, he asked her, “I actually have a request myself, Master Patchouli. Could you help me contact my family?”

“Absolutely,” she answered at once and without dramatics. The answer had come so easily he wondered if sleep deprivation had impaired her judgement. But, she continued, “We can send a letter to the outside world that can reach them with the proper magic placed on it. We can even enchant it so that your family can write a reply, and you may reply back to that exactly once. It’s not simple magic, and can be very demanding and exact, but I would do it for you. I would do that as many times as you wished.”

Gen felt his grip on his cup loosen. He did not drop it, but it had been close. He looked aside, and then looked at Patchouli with his mouth opened to speak, but no words were delivered. He felt the shape of his mouth widening and wavering, and his eyes were welling up. “R-Really, Lady Patchouli? You’d go to such lengths for me...?”

“Mm,” she answered, and she gave him a rare and gentle smile, not questioning for even a second why he might be thinking to reach out to his parents, not worrying for even a moment that he might consider going away.

Patchouli Knowledge told him confidently, “you are my apprentice.”

And he realized...

“L-Lady Patchouli...”

... he’d come to love his Master.

Gen cried. Without theatrics, he lowered his head and cried. And as he sat crying, tears falling into his tea as Flandre mocked him, Remilia came over to his side worriedly, and Sakuya looked on with a slight smirk, he considered the truth of things.

He hadn’t thought about it, but his life had changed so much more than scenery.

He remembered that the person who had first spoken of eating him was the very same who saved his life on two occasions.

He remembered the clothes given to him.

He remembered the knowledge given to him.

He remembered the new friends in his life.

He remembered the advice of his fellow human.

He remembered the charm around his neck.

He remembered Ibuki Suika.

And who it had been that truly granted all this.

Itou Gen set aside his tea, leaned toward Patchouli Knowledge, and slowly brought her into his arms, squeezing her tightly beneath hers.

Remilia Scarlet hugged him around his back.

Flandre came down and hugged Patchouli around hers.

Even Sakuya, smiling almost sarcastically, placed her arms around them all.

“You lot...” whispered Patchouli Knowledge, “I c-c-can’t breathe...! Hey!”

He had two homes. He had another family.

In that moment, he made a dedication.


A letter reached a mailbox.

It began with apologies, with confirmations, explanations, and more apologies still.

But I can’t come back. I can’t even imagine leaving, and I hope you can understand that. Your son has never been very selfish, and here he wants to expend all of his selfishness at once.

I still want you to keep this letter a secret. I can correspond with you once if you write on the back of this paper and complete the broken circle there. I will be awaiting your reply and will answer as quickly as I can, to show you that this is all true.

I can never ask for forgiveness, I only want you to know that I am alive and thankful for everything you’ve ever done for me. I’ve found “reason” in this other place, and I will make it my life to follow it. Again, don’t take this as falsehood, or a prank, or madness. In Another World, your son will become someone you can be proud of, even if this has made you disappointed now.

I send my love, all of it. I hope we will keep in contact.

Your son,

With the European and ancient-seeming envelope came a photograph. A strange girl in violet sat disinterested at a small table with another strange girl wearing a light-pink dress standing at her back, holding her shoulders and smirking. Standing behind the table was a foreigner child in red clothing with an ecstatic face and her hands joyfully raised as if she were jumping, and just beside her was a tall, uniformed woman wearing a pleasant expression. The thick-browed boy in front and very near to the camera, wearing a hat that matched the seated lady and throwing a lazy peace sign, was smiling a very familiar smile. They replied at once, and quickly received an answer:

Yes, the one in purple. I hope you believe me. Thanks; Father, Mother. I will reply again absolutely soon.

--End of Chapter 12: Itou Gen--


When he went to bed, he found a note on his pillow, marked with Patchouli’s sign.

By the end of next week, get me

[] cloth that warms itself.

[] an ωκεανό πύλη πέτρα.

[] a tengu’s feather.

He had thirteen days.


One last note RE: Gen is definitely that, this boy has GOT to be impressive, or things won't make sense. Similarly he's GOT to be scared rather than confident at all times, because then he'd be obnoxious. He's not the type to pull off cool and OP well outside of star-aligning moments I'd say. Mostly, he's a dork.

>> Seija pics
I loooove Seija, obviously, but I can't actually imagine writing any stories for her. If you haven't read Vector Spectacle yet, I highly suggest that. Not on here, it's a SFW doujin and it's awesome.
>> No. 66875
[x] an ωκεανό πύλη πέτρα
>> No. 66876
Competent MCs scare people because they make the wish-fulfiment nature of some of them too obvious. I personally don't care. I want a good story and a powerless outsider cowering in fear has been covered to death here.

[x] cloth that warms itself.

It's good to research magic for its own sake, but practicality must be always kept in mind.
>> No. 66877
[X] cloth that warms itself

The value of a heated blanket is immeasurable. Shame we couldn't prepare one before the extended winter.
>> No. 66878
[X] cloth that warms itself

I'd like to see where this goes, a mixture of practical application and theory.
>> No. 66879
[x] a tengu’s feather.
>> No. 66880
[X] a tengu’s feather

While it would be hilarious if the cloth was the Fire Rat's Robe, this is the one I want to see.
>> No. 66882
[x] an ωκεανό πύλη πέτρα.

The only thing I can come up with for "cloth that warms itself" is Kaguya, and we just got back from there. And as much as I'd love to pluck Aya, I suspect that'll result in Gen owing her something, and heck with that. So let's see how Gen's gonna deal with the fact that Gensoukyou is landlocked.
>> No. 66883
[x] cloth that warms itself.

Let's rob the lunarian household, there's no way this can backfire.
>> No. 66884
[X] an ωκεανό πύλη πέτρα.

An ocean stone gate? Sounds interesting!
>> No. 66885
[] an ωκεανό πύλη πέτρα.

'Ocean stone gate' sounds underwater-y, which means more mermaid time.
>> No. 66888
[X] an ωκεανό πύλη πέτρα.
>> No. 66889
[x] cloth that warms itself.
>> No. 66890
File 153741601421.png - (56.27KB , 736x463 , thus spoke Yuyuko-sama.png ) [iqdb]
Tie, but I wanna write so

Flipped a virtual coin. A cloth it is. These other options may return again, however...!
>> No. 66891
>Chooses the thing that could be used to keep food warm.
As expected of Yuyuko-sama!
>> No. 66895
File 153768083775.png - (1.81MB , 1440x975 , helping out.png ) [iqdb]
Tuesday morning.
Twelve days remain.

[X] cloth that warms itself.

One day was spent.

After falling asleep, he was awoken in the morning by several fairies crowding into his room and at his door. Livy made her way to his bed and demanded that promises be kept. He had gotten so caught up in the day prior that he’d forgotten he’d sworn to spend it playing with the fairy maids. He’d also promised gifts. In fact, the maids had stolen his clothes the day before after realizing that he was not keeping to his commitment. Thus, he spent his Monday adventuring around the Lake and Forest looking for treasures to gift the mansion staff.

Baubles, shining plants, things that passed into fantasy from other worlds... they found many toys for the maids to play with, and he apologized to Sakuya later. Like so, one day was spent, and he was left with twelve to solve his Master’s riddle of an assignment.

By the end of next week, get me cloth that warms itself.

That was on the note she had left on his pillow. He wondered just when she had put it there, considering he had spent the entire evening working with her to send a letter through the Barrier. Now, the day after his Fair Folk Journey, he stood in his room looking at that note as if more detail about his assignment would be revealed to him somehow from examining it further. Did she want some artifact? Him to enchant a blanket? Something else? He knew asking her would result in chastisement. He took the letter from his pocket.

Dad and Mom should be getting it soon if it worked... When did mail come again? Assuming time between the “worlds” is one-to-one.

At this point they had yet to reply to him, all he had was a one-sided parchment with a backside that was blank, save for a broken circle. As he stared at it, he lifted his eyebrows. Black ink was filling it in.

The young lady sitting down. Is she the “Master” you mentioned, Gen?

He looked at the writing in shock, eyes wide and body still for almost an entire minute. He hastily scrawled a response, and flew out his bedroom in the direction of the basement stairs.


According to Patchouli Knowledge, The Outside World and Gensokyo did in fact follow concurrent history, however due to the barrier and other strange phenomena that were almost beyond understanding, what passed from one to the other would not always pass “sensibly”. In truth, the letter he had wrote and sent was transported with space-time magic because of this. Thus, although it was early morning in Gensokyo (and so mail shouldn’t have been received outside), it seemed the letter had been sent forward at least a few hours in time, and then its reply was sent a kind of “backward”. Such an amazing thing... his devotion to the Girl of Knowledge and Shade merely increased.

But, after gushing over the magic’s success, his Master told him that he had already wasted a day on fairy nonsense, and he should not waste an hour more putting off her assignment. “No nonsense, Gen,” that was the decree.

So he was now headed toward the Shrine.

[ ♫: http://listenonrepeat.com/watch/?v=qzIsHYksHik ]
[daisy little - 憧憬の地 (ATELIER ATMOS)]

Reimu wouldn’t be able to help him with this. He only went there intending to meet one of her alleged regular visitors. He arrived past her torii gate and landed while looking this way and that, anxious.

“Who is it!? Youkai!? Human!?” came the brusque voice of the Hakurei from her storage shed.

“Youkai-human,” he answered.

“Rinnosuke’s voice is more manly than that,” she answered, and poked her head out from the shed door. “Gen! What is it.”

A head appeared under hers, and the Shrine Maiden winced and grimaced as her chin was smacked by a long horn. Ibuki Suika showed herself, grinning brightly and shouting, “Boy!”

Reimu smacked her on her head with what looked to be her gohei, but was in fact a feather duster, eliciting a “guah!” from the oni. “Onis OUT!” the human girl snapped, striking at Suika repeatedly and shooing her out the room. Suika emerged with a crate in her arms, lifting her shoulder defensively as Reimu continued to strike her. She looked at him, one eye closed.

“What’s up, Gen? Are you here to help out Reimu too?” she asked, mostly ignoring the snarling dog at her back.

“Ah, no, I wanted to ask for your help actually,” he explained, looking at Reimu while addressing Suika.

“Oho? Ya do? That’s great~!” she answered, grinning. “What do ya need? I’ll do whatever!”

“Thank you,” he answered pleasantly, feeling happiness in his chest.

Reimu interjected, grabbing the oni’s horns like handlebars and eliciting another “guah!” “Hey,” she said, glaring at him, “the oni’s helping me out right now, so you can’t have her.”

“Ah! That’s right!” said Suika in genuine surprise, realizing what she was carrying. Reimu looked down at her in annoyance and disbelief.

“Then I’ll have tea and wait,” he said with a half-smile, pointing at her home and leaning to indicate that he would let himself in.

“What the heck!” Reimu yelled as Suika laughed and said, “I’ll take matcha!”

“Do you think this is a shrine for tea ceremonies?” asked Reimu in confusion.

“Well, three-halfs the times I see you here you’re sitting and drinking tea,” Suika explained in a slur, and as if what she had said had made sense. Reimu asked her:

Three halves?”

“Or was it five-fourths?” she questioned aloud, closing her eyes and thinking.

“It’s two-thirds!” Reimu insisted, shamelessly.

He spoke up, saying, “I’ll go get the tea” as he turned to walk toward the shrine.

You two...! Cut. It. Out!” growled the Hakurei, pushing down on a whining Suika. “Gen!” she called him, “If you’re here, help me clean!”

“Fine,” he answered easily, having had his fill of teasing.

“Ohh! Show me what you’ve got, Gen!” demanded the oni.

In some excitement and nervousness, he answered “Y-Yeah!” slightly pumping his fists, eager to try to impress her. He entered the crowded storeroom that threatened to rival the Library in its volume of dust and got to work.


But he was not too impressive.

“Magicians sure are weak, huh!” the chipper Suika remarked, walking past him with two near meter-wide boxes of needles: one in each hand as though she were simply balancing plates. He had one such box himself, and was struggling.

“It can’t be helped,” Reimu said, passing him by with a futon folded over her arms, “Magicians weaken themselves, after all.”

“I-It’s for magic, and I...” he began to insist, but stopped before explaining his exercising with Hong Meiling. “It’s all for magic!” he repeated, stomping involuntarily with the weight of the box.

He dropped the thing outside and began panting over it, despite the dust it had kicked up. Reimu passed him again to enter the shed and mentioned over her shoulder, “The oni mentioned you beat her in a game, but I guess even oni can lie sometimes.”

“Hey! I wasn’t lying at all, you know!” Ibuki Suika defended, lifting a different box with both hands. He wondered how heavy thatmust have been. “He beat me fairly!” she continued. “Not even you could do that, Reimu!”

“Sh-Shut up...” complained Reimu, stopping at a chest and resting her arms on top of it. She looked embarrassed by this fact. “We didn’t play the same game.”

This was true, and he couldn’t deny it. Walking back into the shed and eyeballing another large container, he recalled that the entire reason he’d proposed a game of tag was that he knew a straight fight with an oni... perhaps even a spell card duel would have not ended well. A game with different rules was almost the only option.

“What are you cleaning up for anyway, Miss Reimu?” he asked, putting his arms around the storage unit.

Osouji,” she replied.

He stopped his efforts to raise an eyebrow at her. “... Did it turn to the end of the year without my noticing?”

Reimu yawned and answered, “‘Spring Cleaning’, then.”

“It’s summer!” he retorted.

“Honestly,” Reimu said, not joking any more, “it’s just opportunism. This oni showed up a little earlier and started cleaning up my shrine, so I told her to help me clean and organize my shed, too.”

“Yep!” chirped Suika, grinning. He blushed. “Anywayy, reallyyy, you humans are all so squishy and helpless, aren’t ya?” she noted, leaning onto a crate herself now, resting one arm on it and playfully lifting her other hand as she spoke. She took that hand to her head and pulled a small grip her hairs, blowing on them in her palm while wincing. Again she made a crowd of tiny clones, which immediately set about clearing the remaining containers and objects from the shed. “I missed this...” she said to herself, although he heard it. He watched her take the gourd she seemed to always keep at her side and begin drinking from it long.

“Yeah, yeah. ‘Humans are weak’, said the oni of all things,” Reimu muttered as two clones leapt up from below her to push the chest from the wall, fall back to the floor, and from there start to lift it. She and Gen left the shed to let the ancient youkai finish by herself. With her hands on her hips, Reimu looked up at the apprentice and ordered: “Help me sort this stuff,” pointing down at one vessel of assorted tools (seals, skewers, and orbs among them) among the thirteen or so currently out.

So he spent time doing just that, studying Reimu’s implements all the while and trying to understand how she used them too. Marisa had told him that essentially, Reimu’s weapons and techniques worked because she was Reimu. She could write and had written “seals” that were complete nonsense, and yet they were no less effective than truly expertly crafted ofuda in her hands. While organizing a pile of envelopes that all read “new year’s money” he considered this. Reimu was most definitely human, but her natural ability and spiritual strength were almost miraculous.

As he thought about how much more proud he was of being someone successful in this land of fantasy who had no innate ability or power, a question came to his mind that he felt he ought to ask later. Before that, there was another he had in mind as one of Suika’s clones walked by him with a bottle of sake four times its height held over the little one’s head.

“Miss Suika,” he said, addressing the drinking oni sitting cross-legged beside the storeroom door. Before he could continue on, she giggled and blushed.

Miss Suika! Ahahahaha!” she laughed. “‘Mi~ss’... cute,” she spoke fondly, looking at her gourd. She then resumed drinking.

He lost himself for a moment, finding her words and actions terribly affecting. He looked away from her, and asked his present question. “The clones you sent to our library: what happened to them?”

“Nng... Glp... hahh... Mm, I... re-absorbed ‘em after they finished fixin’ your broken things,” she told him. “When they’re spent, they turn into mist, find and come back into me,” she explained. He decided to look at her charming figure again.

Suika was looking into the shed, waiting for one last miniature inside of there to remove a broom. She looked serious, something he recognized as a rarity for her. Before he could let himself admire her bare neck, sleepy-gaze, and relaxed yet certain seating posture – standing the gourd at her side as though it were a staff representing prestige and power – he spoke again, in thanks, to prevent that. “I... I should thank you on behalf of Master Patchouli! F... For fixing the shelf and floor!” he said a bit louder than perhaps was necessary while looking askance.

He glanced at her and saw a thin simper cut along her face. “Nah...” she said, “you shouldn’t thank me for that at all. I busted the place up, so it’s on me.” She turned the look on him. “I’ll apologize to your Master later.”

As a waddling broom passed beside her face, Suika lifted a hand again. This time, dust from all around was collected and condensed above her palm until Reimu’s shed was spotless. Reimu was openly impressed, eyes wide and mouth slightly open as she applauded the oni, who accepted the praise with a look of immense self-satisfaction. After a few seconds of silently gloating, Suika held the orb of dust between her thumb and forefinger, and brought her gourd under her arm. She then lifted her other hand to begin “gathering” and “dispersing” Reimu’s things, swiftly sorting them all out and from box to box with only the slightest movements of her wrist. He had flashbacks to The Sword in the Stone to see it, though without the shrinking of the storm of flying objects. He had to admit, seeing her make light of what he and Reimu had been tediously working on for several minutes in a matter of seconds had him understand why she described his kind as “helpless”.

The youkai firmly tossed the ball of dust into the sky, launching it like a rocket in time to fall somewhere in the woods, and crossed her arms confidently after putting her gourd back on her belt.

“Humans, in,” she said, jerking a thumb toward the shrine’s main building and putting on a cool face, “I’ll take care of the rest, you kids can go relax.”

Reimu accepted the offer immediately, though as she left for her house told the oni, “Sure, but if you’re going to work without me looking then don’t break anything like you did at the Mansion.”

The oni’s façade broke and she became embarrassed at once, uncrossing her arms. “I-I won’t!” she cried, but Reimu was paying her no more attention. Suika’s face became sullen, she sighed, and with her eyes closed she put her hands on her knees and let her head fall back. After a while, she brought her head forward and whispered, “It’s just been a while~... that’s all, mhm,” while staring at the ground. Her brow furrowed then, as she noticed Gen’s shoes out ahead of her. She whipped her head up, surprised and embarrassed again. “Eh, uh, g-go inside!” she said to the human standing meters away.

“I just thought I’d wait here,” he answered, taking a seat on the ground, “sit in the Sun a while, not leave you feeling lonely.”

“W-Well...” the oni answered, lightly scratching at her cheek and staring off toward the woodland, “th-thanks... Go... Go ahead and watch me work!” She flexed an arm and clasped her bicep while beaming, finding her spirit again. He smiled simply in return and raised his thumb.

As Suika got up to finish the job and he sat looking between clouds and her, he wondered why it was that she seemed so eagerly helpful. She had beaten Reimu three nights ago, and rather apparently had taken a liking to the shrine maiden regardless of that. However, amicable as an oni could be, they were most often known for beating their own drums as far as he knew. They would help a sworn friend if they felt that they could, but helping of no accord was far from usual. In legend and myth, humans mostly considered the average oni to be at best a nuisance, and at worst an absolute terror. That the oni had been forgotten from Gensokyo of all places, with only Suika’s return, informed him that despite their reputation her race had not been banished either: for whatever the reason, they had to have willingly left. And so, Suika had to have willingly returned.

She had a pair of her clones relaxing on her shoulders while she brought something back in, having already returned a third of the items to the shed by now and abandoned most of the miniatures. She stood for a moment analyzing the space of the room, absently stroking a finger along a place on the bottom of her left horn in minute motions. He had a lot of questions for her, and began planning out how he might ask them in the future. He did not want to intrude, but he found he was desperate to know more.

A few minutes later, Suika had returned over half of the things that were out on the grounds back to the shelf, and began sweating—quite a lot in fact. She came to rest on the chest Reimu had been resting on earlier, and in the same way, breathing a little heavily. It is hot, he thought to himself. “Do you want some water, Miss Suika?”

She tilted her head and looked like she found that question funny, confirming this with, “Heh... I’ve got something better than water here.” She patted the gourd at her side, sweat dripping from her chin.

“Alcohol dries you out, Miss Suika,” he informed her, taking one of the small tomes from his belt.

“It’s what I drink when I’m thirsty,” she said, closing her eyes and letting her mouth hang open as a cool breeze gently rolled over the shrine. “Ahh... feels good...”

He scoffed, “What? You never drink water?”

“Nah, nah, I do, I do,” she replied, and looked toward him cheerfully, “I do need some. Could ya?” she asked.

He repeated the word and motion his Master had used on him the night he returned after the Spring Snow Incident, and water appeared above Suika’s head, dumping down on her. The clones sitting on her saw this coming and dropped to avoid getting wet, but the original Suika herself had a head of soaking hair now.

Behind her cloaking bangs she blinked now, and a wicked grin found its way on her face as she parted her hair to look sharply at him. “Why you...!” she growled playfully, and she leapt at him, getting his head under her arm before he could even fall back. Her skin was warm against his cheek, but he had no time to enjoy this, as she let him go and put her knuckles on either side of his head, grinding them “gently”... as gently as an oni could manage. He felt like he was under a millstone. “Impudent human...!”

“Whoa! Ow, ow! I-It was cold, though, right!?” he tried to defend himself. It was cold. He knew as her hair was now falling over his face and soothing him from the heat.

“I wanted something to DRINK!” she declared emphatically, pushing her knuckles further into his skull

“Sorry, sorry!” he yelled, putting aside the retort he had prepared to remind her that drinking had not necessarily been specified in her request.

“Ahh, jeez,” Suika grumbled, and she finally let his head go. She turned, and leaned her back into his, her hair between them and chilling both bodies. He let her stay like that, and he slouched forward to observe her two remaining clones finish the work of returning Reimu’s equipment and things. The human and oni stayed in silence like that for a while, nobody coming to bother them.

Eventually, he found that he was watching the diminutive oni fragments sitting on either side of the door, legs out, and basking in the Sun. He hadn’t really been thinking about anything in particular, he realized. The last several minutes had been no-fret or worry downtime. He wasn’t sure when the last time was that he’d genuinely, non-contemplatively, sat and done nothing but live for a little while.

“Since when were you two so chummy?” he heard Reimu ask. He turned slightly his ear to her voice, and heard her say more. “Watch it,” she said in a plain and sensible tone, “this one is still an oni. She’s dangerous, you know?”

As she said this, Reimu pulled him up by the shoulder cloth of his coat, dragging him away from Ibuki Suika. He heard a thud behind himself, and turned his head completely to see the short girl fallen on her back on the stone grounds, arms spread and sleeping heavily. The girl in red and white continued talking, “She fell asleep standing while against you? Ridiculous.”

“I wonder if she’s tired,” he thought aloud while looking.

“She’s drunk,” Reimu explained, and she presented him with a cylindrical yunomi from a tray she was carrying atop her other hand. “Thanks,” she said.

He took the cup and drank from it. Tea... The child really was a good host. He looked down at her tray and saw that two cups remained on it.

“Come on over,” Reimu spoke, walking back toward her home, “let’s relax and wait for her to wake up.”

So he did.

Gen’s opportunities to speak with Gensokyo’s protector were very few. Aside from the parties of the last Incident, indeed he had conversed with her all of thrice. As Patchouli’s apprentice, he simply had little reason to head all the way out to where she resided. The Shrine was not a hotbed of magical ingredients, and Reimu was not a magician or magical being of any sort.

But he enjoyed sitting with her. When not being provoked, Reimu was infectiously calm and an amusing partner over drinks. Today as well, he spoke with her about his recent studies and observations, which she would comment on lightly yet seriously, and with infrequent nonsensical thoughts such as, “If you’re collecting bamboo seeds, you should grow them in that library so the two of you can breathe better in there. Just give me some shoots if you go through with it.”

But she didn’t tend to talk about herself, mainly because there was little to say. If she didn’t have a job, he would easily think of Reimu as a hermit.

After some time, Suika woke up with her cheek on a stone, having rolled over in her sleep. She pushed herself up by her hands, looked to her two now-resting clones, and recalled them absently while focusing on getting her gourd to her lips. She drew herself up to a seated position while chugging, put the vessel down, and muttered, “Water... tea...”

“Over here, oni,” Reimu called to her. “Good work.” To this, the youkai turned in some bewilderment, stood, and made her wavering way to the porch where they were sitting. She grabbed up the remaining yunomi on the tray between them and drank it down in an actual second. Wiping her mouth with her hand, she looked for more, and when Gen saw that she was discovering there was none, he offered his cup. She took it, and drank it halfway with careful gulps, holding it out to him when she was finished and saying,

“Thanks,” with a light voice. He took the cup in both hands and looked at where her mouth had been.

“Well I don’t need you anymore so you can shove off if you want. Honestly I don’t mind you staying though,” Reimu addressed her, and she looked glad.

“Nuah,” she breathed her friendly refusal, “I told Gen I’d help him out.”

Hearing his name, the magician’s apprentice looked up suddenly, giving a, “Huh!?”

Suika put her hands on her hips and smirked brightly, seemingly now fully awake. “What, you forget? Come on...” she chastised.

“Looks like you forgot what happened about an hour ago,” Reimu answered for him, looking at her helper dully. Suika merely looked confused at this statement.

Red-faced, the boy quickly drank from where Ibuki Suika had, and pulled the cup away to stare into it when he was done, swallowing, heart beating. Whoa... th-there’s a taste—

He shook his head rapidly.

Trying not to look as ashamed as he felt, and so wearing an open smile in consideration of that, he spoke to Suika, “I’m looking for something in Gensokyo: a cloth that warms itself. Want to join me on discovering it?”

“A warming cloth?” Suika repeated, cocking her head a tiny bit, “Well one place you can go to would be the Land of Oni. We’ve got plenty of stuff like that.”

“I don’t particularly feel like dying today,” he answered, and she laughed heartily. “More importantly, could I even get there in the first place?”

“You? Hmmm...” Suika held her chin, her thumb up and her forefinger parallel to her lips. “Well, even if you could I can’t show you. ‘Cause I made an oni’s promise. If you want to find it on your own I can join you, though.”

“Well, we’ll probably go somewhere else—uh, ‘we’—” he stammered, and Suika laughed harder, holding her gut.

She swung to his left side and pulled him close with an arm over his shoulders, squeezing him and saying, “I already said I’ll do whatever! Come on, let’s go, let’s go!”

“Okay...!” he replied childishly, and then was embarrassed again for the innocence of his inflection.

“Don’t die, Gen,” Reimu said, sipping from her cup quietly. “Remember, I’m not going to help you if you’re not right in front of me.”

“Yeah!” he replied.


[] ... to the human village!

[] ... to Muenzuka!

[] ... to the Bamboo Forest!
>> No. 66896
[X] ... to Muenzuka!

We just went to the bamboo forest and it doesn't feel right going to the village after ignoring it for so long, especially not if we're bringing an oni with us.
>> No. 66897
[X] ... to Muenzuka!

Oh boy, we get to go back down the Road of Reconsideration (of life choices)!
Gen's sure to have plenty of wonderful memories to reminisce about.
Who knows, we might even run into an old friend? Wouldn't that just be dandy?
>> No. 66898
[x] ... to the Bamboo Forest!

Human almost gets perforated; brings walking earthquake as retaliation.
>> No. 66899
[X] ... to Muenzuka!
>> No. 66900
[X] ... to the human village!

Looking for clues in a (somewhat) safe(r) location!
>> No. 66901
[x] ... to the Bamboo Forest!
>> No. 66902
>Whoa... th-there’s a taste—
Gen is lewd~

[X] ... to Muenzuka!

Suika can probably deal with the threats there. And more importantly, Komachi might tease Suika and Gen about whatever their relationship might be.
>> No. 66903
[] ... to Muenzuka!

I think Suika might also wax poetic a bit if she sees the humans departing from the shores.

Komachi giving them grief is also A++.
>> No. 66904
[X] ... to Muenzuka!

Incoming electric blanket.
>> No. 66906
[x] ...to Muenzuka!

In before Suika versus Yuuka.
>> No. 66907
[X] ... to the Bamboo Forest!

I wonder if firegirl can help us out? Eientei probably can, and we kind of didn't visit it last time.
>> No. 66908
[x] ... to the Bamboo Forest!

Wasn't one of Kaguya's impossible requests something along these lines? The Fire Rat's something or other? Of course, they probably won't be keen on dealing with Earthlings at the moment.
>> No. 66909
[X] ... to Muenzuka!
>> No. 66910
Uh, that's a good point.

[x] ... to the Bamboo Forest!
>> No. 66912
[X] ... to Muenzuka!

Somehow I feel Kaguya isn't just going to hand off the Fire Rat's robe for nothing, though Mokou is naturally for based, too.

Honestly, I just want to go to Muenzuka, and Nazrin will be a good lead, too.
>> No. 66916
[X] ... to Muenzuka!

When in doubt on leads. Muenzuka is definitely a good start.
>> No. 66918
File 153802844866.gif - (3.94MB , 496x700 , the forest and mound.gif ) [iqdb]


[X] ... to Muenzuka!

He turned his head to Suika. “Let’s go to the Road of Reconsideration!”

“Aahh... Fair enough; might be safer since the spider lilies shouldn’t be in bloom,” she answered, nodding.

Reimu said, “Remember: don’t die,” and after confirming once again that he would not, the human went into the sky with the oni.


Suika bid him to stop flying when they reached the Forest of Magic.

The two began to walk through it, then, with the oni in lead, stepping down a verdant path choked with branches and roots. He had become used to the forest, she had almost forgotten it.

“The air in here is still really thick, huh...” she noted.

Following with his hands in his coat pockets, he said, “I’ve been getting used to it.”

“Still a bunch of fairies?”


“Still got Magicians hiding out?”

“A few at least.”

“It’s not really different at all, huh...”

“Well I wouldn’t know,” he replied, shrugging, “aside from what’s written in books.”

She cast her gaze to him from over her shoulder and lightly thumped her chest with a closed fist, “Well you can believe me; I’m an oni after all.” She smirked.

He smiled.

“By the way, Miss Suika; may I ask you a question?”

“Go ahead!” she loudly accepted.

“Have you always been as strong as you are now?”

“No, no,” she told him with a chuckle, eyes closed and shaking her head, “but I’m the best oni. Most of us will sit satisfied with the strength we have... which is amazing, you know! But I made myself better, the best.”

“Jeez... the bragging,” he said with a joking sigh, but Suika’s response was sober.

“Mm-mm,” she denied, shaking her head, “I like to brag but that’s the truth. It’s the truth that I earned, and I’m proud of it like I should be. Aren’t you proud too, Gen?” she asked, looking at him again. “For beating an oni.”

“I...” he hesitated, with the truth of how he felt. Ultimately, after a lot of contemplation, he decided to be honest again. “Rather than proud, I’m happy about it...”

Her eyebrows lifted. Suika looked to the roots of a tree and gave him a reply of, “Oh, ah, I...” before turning to look ahead and finishing with a warbling, “‘Happy’, ehh...?”

So Miss Suika had to improve herself too, huh... he thought to himself. Awesome...

For a while they continued to walk with shared feelings, though shyness prevented them from soundly confirming that. The dishonest oni had a small fear to admit that she agreed, and the young human was worried to elaborate any further.

In time they managed to speak of fairies and a little bit of magic, and when a neutral mood had finally been reestablished they began to discuss the details of his quest.

“It really just sounds like a fire blanket some oni made,” said Suika, now walking beside him and crossing her arms in thought. “If not that, then what?” she asked, cocking her head to the side and making eye contact with him.

He looked out ahead, and delivered his thoughts: “I think it might be something from the Outside World...” he began. “From the note, I figure Lady Patchouli wants me to find something rather than make or enchant something. That got me thinking of an acquaintance I have at Muenzuka, and thinking of that made me think of Outside World items.”

“You’ve got something like that back home?”

“Yeah, cheap electric blankets,” he informed her, meeting her eyes again, “My Master has said that modern inventions as I know them... human technology, science, and so on are all simply magic by another name.”

“‘Science’?” she asked, confused.

“Hmmm...” he thought on how to explain the concept, “... the way my Master uses it, you can think of it as ‘the end result devices or techniques that cannot be innately understood, but with learning anyone can apply the concepts and create the same things’.” He lifted his hands a bit in a shrug, saying, “So, in that sense, just like magic.”

“I think I getcha. Humans have advanced a lot in all this time, huh?”

“Because of its advancements, Gensokyo sealed itself off to protect itself,” he explained.

“Right, the barrier,” she said. She uncorked her gourd and brought it near to her mouth. “I wanna say I know all about it, but at the time I didn’t really care, so all I really know is what Yukari’s told me.” She drank.

“Um, what exactly happened, if you don’t mind me asking? Why have oni been forgotten in Gensokyo?”

She frowned in memory, then simply told him, “We left. Not all at once, but most of us, until there were none of us.”

“S...” he ventured nervously, “Sounds... touchy.”

Suika was silent a little while, and he worried slightly that he might have bothered her until she told him, “... I just ended up missing humans. I like them.”

He felt he could figure out why the oni had left...

... but he decided to let the issue sit for now.

“The Road of Reconsideration, huh...? It’s still pretty boring out of season.”

It had been exactly a year since he’d first come to this place, and he hadn’t returned once in that time. He looked down at Suika and wondered if, like the last time, her presence as a powerful youkai would drive lesser ones away. He felt it wouldn’t... if only because he’d realized Suika’s presence was often subtle, if felt at all. Kazami Yuuka had been unnerving at once, and had a violent reputation to put fear into any hearts beating within Gensokyo. Suika felt like a breeze, beguiling and warm, and those of Gensokyo had almost all entirely forgotten her kind itself. He imagined that unless she got excited as she had in the library, or gods forbid enraged, the diminutive oni could wander where she pleased without drawing attention... or at least spiritual attention.

“I kind of like how quiet it is, though I feel vulnerable walking through it.”

The road was once again lined by silent white fields of thin and spider-like higanbana. This time, however, he was sure that eyes were watching him from the distant trees. Putting his companion aside, he was not alone on this second visit.

“I wanna see how you handle youkai coming to attack you, so I’m gonna let them attack you.” Suika delivered this absurd statement with complete ease, swaying a little like a metronome before her form dissipated until he could see her no more.

“Well...” he muttered, turning his head from where she had been to look out at the Road of Reconsideration, “I hadn’t called her out because I wanted her protection.”

He opened one of his tomes.

Youkai at Muenzuka expected easy prey. It was worth noting that his attitude toward this fact had entirely turned from his first outing to the flowering path, not that this was something he was entirely aware of. Rather than fostering a hot-blooded desire to crush monsters underfoot, he stood at the start of the Road with a mindset most akin to his Master’s: one of practicality and complete certainty. First: a show of power, to deny expectation.

He spoke perfectly and quickly, addressing nature and the materials on his belt. Like Aya had confirmed, not everyone knew that Gen was an Outsider. A simple way of discouraging that idea was to demonstrate that if they presented him with an attack, they could be sure to receive a fight—and not just any, but one dealt in cards.

“Light and Fire Sign,” he declared with a paper slip in his hand, a pair of glyphs larger that his body intersecting behind him. A pouch and bottle on his belt burned with heat. “‘The Sea in an Impossible World’.”

The paper burst and burned, and twelve rays of light fired forth, spreading in a reversed conic shape, went to reach across the entire space before him. The lights began waving from side to side, and over them rolled over a hundred individual flames, swelling and crashing as they were named. The Road of Reconsideration looked as though a Sun had spilled across it and, lifting into the air, the young magician floated through that glowing flood, his posture sure and his direction—to the Mound of the Lifeless—absolutely clear. This was a human come to the Road, but one that knew the Art.

Above the burning field, he was encountered by a blond child in a black dress, a distinct red ribbon decorating her hair. She approached him with her arms spread... which was odd. He wondered if she was a kind of Jiang Shi.

And he immediately spoke like a resident of Gensokyo.

“What are you doing in a black dress under such a hot Sun?” he said. “If the fires don’t burn you, the sky will.”

“Is that so~?” she pondered childishly. She then sheepishly told him, “That’s so, huh~?”

“Well? Go on, get out of here and under some shade,” he told her, gesturing to the left with his head to shoo her away.

“I’ll get under some shade but I won’t go away,” she told him, which was the sort of answer he expected.

“I’m on an errand, so I’ll have to shove you aside,” said the human.

“I’m hungry, so I’ll have to take a bite out of you,” said the youkai.

The light of his spell card faded, and darkness fell over her as she declared hers.

“Darkness Sign ‘Dark Side of the Moon’, ehe!” she shouted and giggled, and she then turned to black mist. Briefly, he saw the outline of something red behind her, and knew it to be some magic’s circle.

The youkai’s card made Meiling look prodigious. The shadow she seemed to be manipulating only clouded around her, not threatening him at all. He fired bullets of wood and nature at her, she fired the colors of October at him... or rather, she just fired. There was no pattern, plentiful space, and it made him wonder as he approached the halfway point of successful hits before their positions reversed...

“Can you even see in there?” he referred to her surrounding darkness. As if to answer, she ran into one of his errant shots—one that would have been difficult to meet even accidentally.

It’s like fighting a fairy, he thought, dissatisfied. She only had three cards altogether, and defeating her took him only a pair of minutes. At the end with her dizzy and defeated upon the fields of off-season flowers he only had this to say, looking near-on devastated as he said it:

“Completely unremarkable.”

He looked to the surrounding woods expectant and genuinely hopeful. It hadn’t even felt like a warmup. Unsurprisingly (“Thankfully”), defeating such a weak youkai proved hardly a deterrent, and three others found him before he finally began to ascend the Mound. As he dropped onto dying grass and started to march up the hill, he spotted smoke coming into shape at his right.

“Someone once told me that only weaklings would ever come to hunt at the Road and Muenzuka,” he told the forming and still-floating Suika. Scrunching his brow and frowning a little, he said, “She really hadn’t been kidding.”

Suika was following him and resting simultaneously, keeping pace with him while “laying” on her stomach in the air, her hands propping up her chin and cheeks. “For real, huh?” she said, her eyes closed in frank disappointment. She sighed, then glanced at him. “How about it? Wanna go?”

“Eh? Fight?” he asked, leaning away from her and putting his hands up while wearing a worried expression, “No way, you’ll kick my ass.”

She took her hands from her face as she turned around, now posed like she was in a hammock. She punched one of her palms twice, looking frustrated. “Aagh, I’m frustrated,” she confirmed, “I wanna fight. Aaah, I wanna fight already.”

No use telling an oni to calm down about that, he remarked in his head, looking at her advancing in irritation due to the lack of present violence. He looked toward the top of the Mound, and felt he understood. In fact, if he wasn’t busy, he might have just accepted her offer inevitable loss or otherwise.

He threw his gaze back to her, smiling. “How about we do some thumb sumo now and I take you up on that offer later? After we find the cloth.”

“Thumb sumo?” she confirmed, gripping at the back of her hand and staring at him. “What’s that?”

“Huh... is it more recent than I thought?” he pondered to himself. It seems like such an obvious idea though... He shook his head, and turned to explain as they walked, Suika listening now with her hands behind her head. He tried not to let her underarms draw his eyes. He presented her with a half-formed thumbs-up gesture, and spoke, “You just hold hands like this and fight with your thumbs. You try to pin the other player’s thumb under yours. If you can do that for two seconds, it’s your win... or point, I guess. Either way.”

“Hohh...” breathed Suika, very interested. She lifted her hand and cheerfully encouraged a match, saying, “Okay~! Let’s go! Let’s go!”

They locked hands. “Best of three,” he said.

And with a “Reeaaady set...” they began to fight on, “go!”.

Suika did not seem used to manipulating her opposable digit for combat, and so looked intensely at their small field of battle, her thumb raised and shifting suddenly, slightly, every second or so. Gen, on the other hand, started feeling concerned as he experience just how firm the oni’s grip was.

“Don’t break my arm...” he warned as they walked distracted. Suika answered,

“Hey! I won’t!”

He made the first attck.

“Ah!” Suika exclaimed, and she yanked him toward her,

Head to head, they both stared down at their fingers as Suika weaved out the way at his attempts. He looked up into her eyes for a moment, seeing how serious she was being, and looked down as he laid his thumb on the side of her small hand.

“Aha!” she cried, and struck. He pulled his thumb away and pinned her. “Ah!?”

He let her go after only a second. When she looked up in confusion, he backed away from her to avoid any awkwardness. “You fell for that?” he asked, looking off toward the nearing crest of the hill and looking satisfied.

“Fight fair!” she insisted.

“I won’t betray you. Possum is fair,”

“What the heck is ‘possum’!?”

He pinned her again while she was distracted, laughing. She flared up, tightening her grasp and tossing his thumb off of hers with a powerful flick the force of which shifted his bangs. Though they were at the top now, they stayed absorbed in their game.

Suika got more aggressive, breathing out sharply as she darted in straightforward attempts to hook her thumb around his and pin him with strength and dexterity alone. He found this was less troubling to deal with than her proximity, which he was now primarily olfactively aware of and growing as a result. He stepped up his efforts, now concerned mostly about avoiding something worse than embarrassment. Assuring himself that strategy was more important than strength in games such as this, he continued with attempts to bait her, throwing in false attacks as distractions as well.

They held their hands together for two minutes before, with a huff, Suika got him down, and once she did it was as if the muscles in his finger ceased to function. His digit became entirely immobile. She had him down for two seconds easily.

Ye-heeehhss!!” she bellowed, lifting her finger off of his and throwing her head back in laughter. He snaked around her thumb and rubbed its outer side. She snapped back at once, glaring, and reflexively dropped her thumb over where his had been. The move had, however, been deliberate and he slipped his thumb to the right, getting hers down and pressing his fingertip onto her joint.

“Nng...! Hrmm...!” she grumbled, seemingly unsure of how to motion her finger without also destroying her human opponent’s hand in the process. She could not determine a means within two seconds, and the score was tied. Once the next round began, she went for something straightforward again, diving her thumb toward the root of his. However, when he stretched it out and away from his palm, she raised hers and met the pad of his finger, forcing a contest of strength that he could only lose. Realizing she’d also employed something of a roundabout maneuver, he could only think, Damn; utterly impressed.

Then he began thinking of the only ways he could more assuredly win.

Blowing past her ear.

Saying something to throw her off.

Pulling her in and...

“Oh...” Suika uttered as his thumb became bereft of solidity. He realized she was ready to take him down, and realized why he had got distracted. He thought about pulling her in again and, so torn apart by what he was feeling, let go of her hand before she could get him, stepping away from the oni. He turned away in a swift motion and began stomping into Muenzuka, hunched over and covering his face with his scarf.

“I forfeit!” he shouted back to her, “Good show!”

“Nuh uh! No way, get back here, Gen!” she complained without missing a beat, following him at his back and over his shoulders. He shoved his hands into his pockets and slouched further. “Lose properly!” she ordered. “Don’t give me that, ‘I give up’ stuff!”

“Trust me, you won,” he assured her, continuing forth on the Mound of the Nameless dead. “I wasn’t... Head wasn’t in the game.”

She grabbed his upper right arm with her left and dragged out his forearm with her right. He was utterly shocked by this, and froze. Clasping his open palm firmly, Suika brought their linked hands up and showed him, saying, “Look!”

He only looked toward a barren cherry tree, and on the almost colorless plains of Summer’s Muenzuka, she saw very clearly that he had become red-faced. At this point, she took her left hand from his arm, extended her pointer finger, and poked him between his ribs.

He made a noise and she smirked. “What’s thaaat...?” said Ibuki Suika, “Something got in your head during our honest match?”

She took his right hand into both of hers, looking at them. She glanced sporadically between them and his eyes, which still avoided hers. “W-Wonder what it could be~? ...” she trailed off. She rubbed the back of his hand with her thumbs, and he finally looked at her as she began to shyly speak. “Say, uh, Gen, you...” she stammered, “do you... uhh... ummmm...”

She gently tugged his arm down, placing her left hand where it had been before, softly now, and pressing her chest against his.

On the almost colorless plains of Summer’s Muenzuka, he saw very clearly that she had become red-faced. And, with her body close, he could feel how deeply her heart was beating.

“I-If I do this...” she began, “how do you—”

“Huh...? If it isn’t the brazen Outsider. You got a hat,” observed someone watching. Suika’s entire body flinched, and she clung onto him around his torso, hiding her face under his chin. He stared off toward and almost past the mouse youkai Nazrin, who had found them. The pair standing at Muenzuka thought the same thing, and both wanted desperately to bury themselves away.

Suika spoke first. She dropped off of him and quickly flew to his side, smushing down on his hat and roughly mussing up the hair beneath it. “Jo... Joke!” she said with a forced grin, her eyes forced shut, “Just... pallin’... uh, never mind! Fo... Forget it! Clo... th. Cloth.”

“R-Right, the cloth,” he answered, He also forced a smile, and forced his eyes shut. “L-Let’s continue our game later!”

“Good idea!” she said, falling from the air and landing to the earth. “We can just play it later, like whatever! Forget it!”

“Y-Yeah, right?” he replied. Nazrin looked confused, her eyes moving between them.

“The Hell is going on? Hey. Isn’t that an oni? It’s been a long time,” spoke the mouse.

“You remember them?” the two guests of Muenzuka asked at once, their shame diffusing almost instantly as they mirrored one another by bending their heads to the side in curiosity.

“Oni are hard to forget,” she said, crossing her arms as she walked toward them. Gen noticed at her feet and behind her, a swarm of mice followed her closely. He looked up, and rose his eyebrows.

“You grew out your hair,” he observed. Indeed, her gray locks were reaching significantly past her shoulders. “You look pretty,” he evaluated with a smirk.

“Mice shouldn’t be that decent,” Suika agreed, folding her arms and looking the youkai up and down. “They’re just filthy little scavengers, you know? But you’re keepin’ it really nice,” she evaluated with a more genuine grin than before.

“Shut up you two,” spoke Nazrin bluntly. “Hair grows, so what? What are you, a human, doing here again boy?” she looked up at Gen as she spoke.

Gen thumbed his lip, thinking back to the last time they’d spoken. “It’s good I found you,” he said, “I need you to look for something for me. I’ll pay this time, of course, and not in terracotta pigs.”

Nazrin nodded, businesslike. “Everyone’s pretty full, so it’s good timing. Price will depend on how hard to find it is, and there’s a flat rate if I can’t find it. We’ll discuss the pricing later.”

He shook his head, folding his arms to complete the trio of crossed-arms on the Mound. “No,” he told her, “we’ll discuss it now.”

Nazrin exhaled a puff of air from her nose, and closed her eyes as she explained: “Three thousand en flat rate, plus two thousand every hour we search.”

“Expensive,” he spoke breathily.

“How much is that?” Suika asked.

“Well,” he said, squinting at his companion, “I can afford it, but I’ll be out of money by the end for sure if it takes long.” He looked back to Nazrin. “So long as it’s finished by the end of the day, you have a deal.”

“Alright, great. If you can’t pay, I’ll distribute you among the mice,” she told him, and he grimaced solemnly. “Shoot, tell me what you’re looking for.”

[] “An electric blanket. It heats up as long as it’s given energy or power.”

[] “Some sort of blanket artifact that can warm the wearer. Maybe magical?”

[] Ask Suika to explain.

image sources:

Hot meme maus, oni, and weird blond chick.
>> No. 66919
[x] “Some sort of blanket artifact that can warm the wearer. Maybe magical?
>> No. 66920
[x] “Some sort of blanket artifact that can warm itself. Maybe magical?”

Going straight for the electric blanket description would narrow it down a tad much, and there is no guarantee a actual electric blanket has dropped in.
I also took the liberty to stick more closely to the wording of the original request but that's just me nitpicking.
>> No. 66921
[X] “Some sort of blanket artifact that can warm the wearer. Maybe magical?”
>> No. 66922
[X] “An electric blanket. It heats up as long as it’s given energy or power.”

Because it's specifically what Gen said he was looking for.
>> No. 66923
[x] Ask Suika to explain.

Neither of the other options are actually accurate. To me, 'warms itself' means self-powered. An electric blanket requires electricity. And the other option is something that can be accomplished by a mundane coat. In addition, 'warms the wearer' is conceptually different from 'warms itself', and Patchy is the type to mean precisely what she says.
>> No. 66924
[X] “An electric blanket. It heats up as long as it’s given energy or power.”
>> No. 66925
[x] “Some sort of blanket artifact that can warm itself. Maybe magical?”
>> No. 66926
[x] Ask Suika to explain.

In b4 she says something else on purpose.
>> No. 66927
[x] Ask Suika to explain.

Both of the other options feel like they're Gen reading incorrectly into it, Suika's "fire blanket" literally sounds more like the request.
>> No. 66928
[x] Ask Suika to explain.
>> No. 66929
[X] “Some sort of blanket artifact that can warm the wearer. Maybe magical?”
>> No. 66931
[X] Ask Suika to explain.

Explain Gensokyo things to Gensokyo people with Gensokyo people.
>> No. 66932
During an earlier tie I broke it with a bot, but now it's tied again.

Wasn't able to write for a little while due to a bad fall (WARNING: if there's wet leaves on the ground, do NOT run around. My fucking arm still hurts two days later) but in that time... hm, I've come to like the idea of the [X] Suika option more due to what's been said, so that's what I'm going with. It's a nice point: that Gen may be stuck in a way of thinking here. I originally threw in the throw to Suika just cause, but I think it's a good idea.
>> No. 66935
File 153847692629.jpg - (944.63KB , 1980x1200 , to find the right treasure.jpg ) [iqdb]
image sources:


[X] Ask Suika to explain.

Thinking for a moment, he considered how unsure he was of what he was actually looking for. He wanted to be specific, otherwise he was certain asking for Nazrin’s help would be entirely wasteful. His Master’s request was simply too vague... He believed it could be an electrical blanket, but what if it was something magical instead? If it was the former, could he even harness electricity within Gensokyo? He was too unconfident about all this.

Suika, however, was not.

“Miss Suika,” he spoke, looking down at her (she perked up at address, but then immediately after looked rather sleepy), “could you ask for me?”

“Mmnyah? Me?” she mumbled. She thought to herself for a few seconds, head bent and eyes shut, smirking. She then looked at the mouse youkai and told her, “Find us the shawl that wrapped Hinokagutsuchi when he was born, the same one that turned into his pall after his death. If ya can’t, find us somethin’ that’ll put us in the right direction.”

Nazrin nodded. “I don’t imagine I can find that here,” she said, “but I’ll look.”

She turned away with the small sea of fur at her feet and lifted her giant rods to begin the search. She spoke to her mice command, and they began breaking off from the pool of gray to each look around on their own.

Gen had to be honest.

Hino...?” he asked, looking at Suika again.

She looked disappointed. “Wha...?” she said. She put up her hands and asked him, “Do you not know about the gods of Japan?”

He didn’t actually know much. A lot of what he knew he knew through simple stories and common rituals that everyone in the Outside World’s Japan practiced. He shook his head. “I know a bit about Izanami and Izanagi and such,” he told her, elaborating with, “the more famous stories.”

“Come on, come on,” she waved him over while walking toward a pale tree, beckoning him without turning his way, “I’ll give you some lectures over sake.”

He watched her go for a little while, then looked to see he could no longer find Nazrin. With that confirmed, he followed.

Suika poured him alcohol into a white cup, direct from her gourd. As he recalled, her drink was potent, so he told himself to be careful. The day was still young.

“Izanami no Mikoto and Izanagi no Mikoto were sister and brother, wife and husband,” said Suika, sitting beside him with her arms wide. She gestured carefully as she spoke, “However, Izanami giving birth to Hinokagutsuchi proved too much for the old girl. Uuuuhhh... Ka gu tsu chi as you might know him was killed as he was born, for the intense flames his body carried consumed his mother and took her life. His father Izanagi, the bastard, was the one who killed him.”

She ended with her fist punched into her hand, and she smirked at Gen as she told him, “Gods: they’re bastards and crazies, all of them. Izanami even eventually started a blood feud with her brother after death, just because she was ugly and didn’t want her... brother to look at her and he did anyway—‘cause he missed her! I know the value and strength of promises, but vanity is complete nonsense. What a ridiculous woman, and a stupid, too-angry man.”

“Lots of stories of gods are like that across the world,” he replied, bringing his cup toward his mouth, “like turning people into salt for looking at the destruction of a city, or like a male god turning into a mare to become pregnant, or just general insular breeding.”

She stuck out her tongue, eyes fiercely shut as she uttered, “Blehh, they’re all sick and messed up.” And, very suddenly, after switching which of her hands was balled into a fist, she slammed her right hand down into her palm. “Family is sacred!” she roared! “Your brother is your brother and your sister is your sister! You keep your family close, and you help it grow! You spread your seeds across the Earth; you don’t confine it to a native field! You don’t scorn others to hole up in your own houses!” She seemed to be growing in wrath, and he edged away, eyes getting a little wider. “And tampering with the world like a plaything, like all the lives in it are their toys... It REALLY pisses ME OFF!!”

She let loose a wave of power, her muscles flexing and her teeth biting down with clear strength. Gen covered his cup, and watched her speechless as his clothing rippled in the winds of her rage.

“YUKARI!!” she yelled to the empty skies, standing with her palms open and fingers twitching, wanting. “LET’S DO IT AGAIN! LET’S SHOW THE HEAVENS THE POWER OF THE EAR—Hah!” she gasped, and the cyclonic waves of her might (which, he was sure were threatening to uproot the tree they were beneath) ceased, the energy feeling like it was splashing down over the hill and rolling off its edges. “Yukari—!” she repeated, and he did not see it, but her face was now glowing with color. She looked at her hand, and then her chest, and she dropped back to the ground, gripping at her skull. “Uuugh... Yukariii... you fox, you tanuki...” she moaned. Her face had become entirely miserable.

Gen finally took a sip from his cup, flinching at the taste he was still unused to, but being entirely distracted by it once its flavor had entirely come through. Though he’d had the sake before, at the time he was quite actually possessed, and so he hardly recalled the experience. If his tongue, being so inexperienced with spirits, now had to put a word to its taste, it would be: “terrestrial”. It tasted immensely of the Earth in its entirety, and so was simultaneously otherworldly and incredibly “known” to him. Like grass, mountains, and rivers—all of it, at once, in a warm liquid form. At any rate, it was delicious—almost overwhelmingly so.

He glanced at his companion, still letting the sake burn through him. For a second, he worried it might actually start a fire in his gut. It was quite something. “Wh-What was that all about?” he asked.

“Old memories and new memories; I’m getting beaten down by both,” she groaned. “D... Don’t worry about it,” she spoke as if this was a command, taking her hands from her head and staring off toward a pile of junk in the distance. He decided to ask something else.

“So, because Kagutsuchi is a god of fire, the cloth that wrapped him is consumed by flame too?”

Suika shook her head, making a sound of denial. She explained this to him: “It’s soaked in his blood, and it’s been hot ever since. Can be warm too, I hear.” She picked up her gourd and took a few gulps, seemingly in a bid to improve her mood. What she said after invalidated the attempt, “That pile of scum Izanagi killed his own son for the crime of being brought to life; a ridiculous, preposterous, reprehensible move. He cut off his newborn’s head, even went and cut the body into eight pieces. Each part became its own god and mountain of fire, same sort as Yatsugatake. Kagutsuchi’s blood formed other gods, as if this world needed more stuck-up rulers, and it soaked through his shawl-become-pall.”

She exhaled for an impressive ten seconds, her still-bad-mood very obvious. She put her fingers through her hair, and concluded. “So, the Wrap of Kagutsuchi, the Shawl of Kagutsuchi, the Pall of Kagutsuchi, whichever, that’s what I think your librarian wants,” she said. She followed with, “A fire blanket wouldn’t be up here, not even in Muenzuka. We made sure that none of our tools were left behind when we went away. That, uh... something-blanket you mentioned, it doesn’t sound exactly right for what that girl was askin’ for. That kinda blanket sounds like it’s supposed to be worn, but your Master asked for something that just warmed itself, right?”

Gen blinked, bent his head, and considered that. “Oh,” he said, raising his eyebrows, “... huh.”

With this, the oni found a moment to be smug, and took it, huffing out of her nose and telling him, “Wellll, seems like you’re still too young! Naive, naive! You didn’t even think of that, didja?”


She showed him another, wonderful smile. He changed his pose, bringing up a knee and putting his elbow to it so he could rest his cheek on his knuckles. She was cute.

“You’re cute, huh...” Suika observed softly, watching his face and slouching over her own brought up knees. He smirked, twisting his brow a bit, and let out a chuckle.

Now he thought about this alleged cloth of a god. If Suika’s supposition was correct, he wasn’t sure he could actually... hold such an object, even if it was for his dear Master. The god’s body had created volcanos (Yatsugatake, or Youkai Mountain, perhaps not being one of them), killed one of the two creator gods of Japan, and its scorching blood birthed a plethora of other deities just from being spilt. He imagined that the shawl must be some sort of inferno-cloth that would immolate anything it touched. He’d likely have to see to dampening its power.

He and Suika drank in silence for untold time after that, one thinking of methods to subdue fire, and the other not thinking very much at all.

A shock ran through Gen’s body—the reflexive shock from an unexpected touch. He looked down at his hand that was on the ground, expecting to see a spider on his exposed wrist. He saw a little rodent, sniffing at him.

“Huh...? One of Nazrin’s?” he supposed. The drink had made him just a little bit tipsy, though he’d only had a single cup. He wondered what the hour was... perhaps around noon.

The mouse at his hand started squeaking. Suika leaned forward to look at it, drinking still from her seemingly infinite supply of alcohol. “Wants us to come with?” she eventually proposed after drinking a satisfactory amount. She stood up muttering “awright then,” and patted at her rear once before gathering ashes and dirt from her cloths and then scattering that to the wind. Gen stood as well, whispering to reset his own outfit.

The mouse squeaked some more, its gray body hardly still below him. When it saw that the two of them were on their feet, it turned and went in some direction. The human and youkai followed it dutifully.

They came after a while to where it led: to its seemingly ancient, Servant-of-Bishamonten master. The fair elder mouse was sitting on a large and burned wooden cart, bent forward with the bends of her arms atop the bends her legs. She was lazily holding her dowsing rods in her hands and had her head held high, letting the wind blow her hair behind her. The silver length waved, curled, and flowed too picturesque. He stopped at the same time Suika did.

“... She looks great,” he said, entirely serious. Suika followed with an equally grave, “Yeah.” He hadn’t really given the mouse youkai a second look the day they’d met. He thought, It’s quite something, what a small change can do.

Nazrin looked over to them, her mouse ears twisting mildly. It was then he noticed that something else was flowing in the breezes of Muenzuka: a somewhat small, burgundy tarp held at the end of her rods. Squinting at it, he saw that it carried what looked to be a pattern indicative of an arashi shibori dyeing method: the sheet was marked by thin claws of unstained white, almost lost in the deep red which bled through the rest of it. “Bled” was likely an appropriate term... this was very probably the Pall of Kagutsuchi. That Nazrin kept it from her hands despite its likely being the treasure he had requested had him deeply worried, however.

Before he could confirm anything, Suika spoke just behind him, and loudly. “Ahhh,” she bemoaned with some disappointment, “it’s lost its power!”

He turned back and asked, “Then that’s it? That’s the Pall?”

“Mm, it reeks like old blood. Like some of the oldest, I mean.” She grimaced, and then hopped into the air. Nazrin spoke to her as she approached the pall.

“I wouldn’t touch that if I were you, Ibuki-douji,” warned the weaker youkai, watching the oni without interest, “it made ash of one of my mice, and then burned the ash to nothing. I suppose that’s what one should expect of the primordial fire god.”

Suika only answered, “Su-i-ka,” and threw her hand into the shawl.

Her arm was immolated, and to the sight Nazrin winced in pain while Gen’s jaw dropped. These two others stared on voiceless, imagining they would soon start seeing the oni’s bleaching bones after her skin and muscle had been eating away in fire. They peered through the bright orange flurry and saw that Suika’s arm... was merely holding still, her bicep and forearm full of natural strength as she gripped the crimson cloth. Although it waved her hair, and from the searing white glow of the chain off her wrist he knew the heat had to be beyond intense, Gen saw that Suika only looked into the fire with a solemn and almost empty expression as she spoke to it:

“Hinokagutsuchi... can you hear me? Is that you?” She addressed it calmly, watching the fire for some sign of recognition, and only finding more rejection as the flame spit and grasped for her shoulder. To the pair of observers, it seemed as if it were a small but desperate beast, trying in vain to plant and dig its nails into her flesh. She lackadaisically pulled her head away, wincing a little, before she lifted her left hand. “... Just a grudge,” she said, and her words fell with damning and closing weight. She forcefully smothered the fire with her left hand, and it quickly all went out, retreading into the fabric as quickly as it had come out... like a magic trick, Gen thought. Suika took her left hand away, and raised the artifact in her right, looking at it with a tinge of pain in her eyes.

“... At any rate,” she spoke in the silence after the scene, “this isn’t what the flame was like before. It’s gotten too weak.” She turned it over so it was before her rather than above, her palm facing the sky. “At the same time, it’s been bathed in ill will and misery, of course. If you’re gonna use this, for anything, it has to get restored, and after that...” She threw the shawl over her shoulders, holding her grip above the bone of her chest quietly for a second. Taking her hand away, she put both palms to her hips and looked down at Gen to say, “You gotta do something about it if you restore it, ‘cause it’s just gonna kill anything less than an oni, and even most fire-youkai that even get close to it. The true flame of Hinokagutsuchi burns stronger than the Sun.”

Gen only asked, “A-Are you okay!?”

Suika rose her eyebrows, then chortled heartily. “I’m an oni!” she cried. “This is nothing!”

Nazrin spoke up, still in the same pose as if nothing had transpired, “That thing was in one of the stranger parts of Muenzuka. We almost found ourselves somewhere else getting at it.” She sighed, continuing on, “It was scary. I’m going to charge more.”

“I don’t think so,” Gen came in immediately, but then gave a shrug and said, “... Is what I’d say, but I didn’t expect you to be able to find something like that.”

“Yep, don’t underestimate me,” she bragged, looking satisfied. He felt she deserved that, and decided he would give the dowser near all of the money he had saved. Well, he hardly used any in the first place.

“Well you’ve got what ya need, Gen, but I don’t think this is a job done at all yet,” said Suika as he took to his pockets for cash. The oni landed and began to twirl, letting the tragic sheet dance around her neck while her chains caught light and prettied her movements. She looked down at herself, most pleased, and continued to talk after she had sufficiently giggled, “Where to next, eh!? What was it... Kourindou!? Or maybe, back to the Mountain? What!? Where?”

Gen counted the dollars and coins in his hand and thought about that before answering. Kourindou was a place ran by, according to Marisa and his Master, a half-youkai collector. The proprietor had the ability to identify the name and purpose of items, but his Master warned that the alleged ability was dubious at the best of times. Youkai Mountain... was a worrying idea for several reasons. For one, he still felt unready for the place, especially so shortly after a tengu had demonstrated its absurd speed before him. For another, bringing an oni onto the Youkai Mountain sounded like it would only bring trouble. From what he understood, there was essentially a society and set way of things to the Mountain, and if Suika was once “a Deva of Yatsugatake”, that meant she had to have previously had considerable influence there. How the nervous kappa and quick-to-judge Tengu would feel about her brazen return... well, he imagined it would only be bad, and his human self would just be evaporated within anything that transpired. The only thing was, that was the one volcano in Gensokyo. He was sure he could work something out with it and this cloth he’d obtained.

He could go back home, or even bother one of his magician friends to research an approach. He might even see Reimu about removing this sort-of-curse that the shawl bore. There were a decent number of ways to go about this... and importantly was Suika’s warning. Once the shawl was brought back to its initial state, it would begin burning even stronger than he had already seen, and without pause. That was something to think about.

[] Research first. Sneak back into the library to study, then discuss findings with fellow magicians.

[] See if Reimu can do something about the shawl’s grudge.

[] Go to Kourindou to see if the owner can figure out anything about the shawl innately.

[] March (quietly) into Youkai Mountain, mainly relying on Suika to figure out the next steps.
No, no, that’s a disaster waiting to happen. At the very least, not yet.

[] There was someone in the Human Village with a vast knowledge of history. She might know something about the shawl, particularly how it might’ve ended up between worlds at Muenzuka.
>> No. 66936
'Cursed sunfire' sounds pretty nuclear to me. The best ending probably comes from Gen giving peace to the artifact somehow and maybe obtaining its recognition. With his knowledge of the Outside and elemental affinity, it's probably possible.

[X] Go to Kourindou to see if the owner can figure out anything about the shawl innately.

The human village option sounds like Akyuu, not Keine, and Akyuu wouldn't be able to confirm my nuclear hypothesis.
>> No. 66937
[x] There was someone in the Human Village with a vast knowledge of history. She might know something about the shawl, particularly how it might’ve ended up between worlds at Muenzuka.
>> No. 66938
>[] Research first. Sneak back into the library to study, then discuss findings with fellow magicians.

Ruin the surprise.

>[] See if Reimu can do something about the shawl’s grudge.

Chances are Reimu can do it, but we have no money left and favors are really costly.

>[] Go to Kourindou to see if the owner can figure out anything about the shawl innately.

He can likely find out what things do, but that's it - no finer details.

>[] There was someone in the Human Village with a vast knowledge of history. She might know something about the shawl, particularly how it might’ve ended up between worlds at Muenzuka.

Oni, a portable nuke and a magician attempt to walk past the front gate.

[x] Research first. Sneak back into the library to study, then discuss findings with fellow magicians.

No need to hurry just yet.
>> No. 66939
[X] Go to Kourindou to see if the owner can figure out anything about the shawl innately.

We just spent all our money which makes this a perfect time to visit Kourindou.
>> No. 66940
[x] There was someone in the Human Village with a vast knowledge of history. She might know something about the shawl, particularly how it might’ve ended up between worlds at Muenzuka.

Logically, a ancient artifact like this means one needs to look into it's history in order to narrow down the necessary research to restore it.
My Meta intentions for this decision are not important.
>> No. 66941
[x] There was someone in the Human Village with a vast knowledge of history. She might know something about the shawl, particularly how it might’ve ended up between worlds at Muenzuka.

A starting point of some kind for research into would be good and it amuses me we've sidestepped the Human Village for a pretty long time now.

I wonder how distrustful of magicians they are. On the other hand, I wonder if Gen would be up to plying his trade with magic to earn money beyond the stipend he seems to get.
>> No. 66942
I should clarify a little that Gen gets literally no money at all from working/living at SDM. No allowance, no nothing, but he gets free food and education as long as he remains loyal and dedicated. The money he still has is actually all from way back during his trip to the Sanzu River, which he earned from Aomu and from dubiously gaining an expensive item. Unless I forgot... which is entirely possible... he hasn't had any other outlets, even from Aomu since he hasn't tested for her since.
>> No. 66943

Same-anon as the one replied to here, yeah, that's something Gen'll need to look into then for the long-term. It's okay to be frugal but to have no income at all is gonna make things rough, especially now that we're at bare minimum. Oof.
>> No. 66944
[X] There was someone in the Human Village with a vast knowledge of history. She might know something about the shawl, particularly how it might’ve ended up between worlds at Muenzuka.

Seems like the best way to learn more about it.
>> No. 66945
[x] Go to Kourindou to see if the owner can figure out anything about the shawl innately.

OP likes to run close to canon, so Kourin's the guy to ask for mystery artifacts. You just have to filter the bullshit, and we've got Suika for that.
>> No. 66946
[x] Go to Kourindou to see if the owner can figure out anything about the shawl innately.
>> No. 66948
[x] Research first. Sneak back into the library to study, then discuss findings with fellow magicians.

One Hell Raven is enough risk of horrible death by intense heat radiation for me. We're hitting the books.
>> No. 66949
[X] There was someone in the Human Village with a vast knowledge of history. She might know something about the shawl, particularly how it might’ve ended up between worlds at Muenzuka

It was either this or research, but more info would be useful. That and her firecracker of a friend probably has the means to stop the fire from hurting us.

That said, CYOAs are like VNs. Choosing the wrong option just to length things will give us a less than optimal result. Thats the nature of the game. So don't go saying dumb shit like "there's no need to rush" yes?
>> No. 66950
Gonna call this for the human village, that's the count
>> No. 66954
File 153883241686.jpg - (892.93KB , 1000x950 , your human associate.jpg ) [iqdb]
BIG ONE! FOUR choices.


[X] There was someone in the Human Village with a vast knowledge of history. She might know something about the shawl, particularly how it might’ve ended up between worlds at Muenzuka.

“Let’s go to the Human Village,” he said, speaking to Suika as he handed over most of his funds to the treasure hunter.

Said hunter took the money, but asked him, “Are you stupid?” rather flatly.

“Oohh, the Human Village! I can put on a disguise!” shouted Suika with excitement, drawing in her fists.

“We’re going to see the fabled Child of Miare at the house of Hieda,” he explained. “She might know a thing or two about the Shawl. Her ancestor wrote the Kojiki, after all, and said ancestor’s reincarnations have been recording and remembering mythological history between their lives ever since... or so I’ve read in one of Master’s books.”

“Hmmm... Hieda, huh,” Suika mumbled, thinking about the name. He noticed she seemed confused, and that as she thought longer her confusion seemed to be building, a nervous smile on her face and her eyebrows low and twitching. “M-Miareee...? Ko... Kojiki...?”

He and Nazrin looked at her, with some bafflement and inexpression respectively. If Ibuki Suika did not know these names... Then, given she and her kind had abandoned the human world, this oni’s existence had to predate Japanese written history. It was something a little difficult to grasp.

“Well then, first meetings all around,” he declared with a smile. Nazrin now looked deflated.

“You’re a magician, she’s an oni, and that—” the mouse pointed, “—is a cursed cloth of primeval fire, and you want to march into the Human Village.”

“I’m a human, so it’s fine. Considering the fashions I’ve seen around Gensokyo, I won’t be too unusual a sight, even there. We’ll take care with the cloth, of course.”

“And your oni?” Nazrin questioned.

Like I said—I’ll be wearing a disguise!” Suika swore, thumping her chest with her fist, fingers-to-sternum. She was plainly eager to show off.

“I assure you in all faith that the oni will not disguise herself well,” said Nazrin, now given up and counting her money. Quickly done, she looked giddy herself and sneered at him like a child. He was disarmed. “Thanks for the business,” she told him, “let’s work together again, alright?”

It was a shock of magnetism. He and Suika swooned: a little exaggerated, a little theatric, with their hands ending over their chests.

“My heart!” lamented Gen.

“Too beautiful!” bemoaned Suika.

Nazrin blew through her teeth sharply, lowering her eyelids in anger. “I’m going to cut my hair,” she told them, “just to shut you two up.”

“Don’t!” Suika begged at once in earnest concern. Meanwhile Gen looked deeply disappointed, and a little hurt.

“Get out of here before I tell every youkai in the area where you come from, Gen,” snapped Nazrin.

“Alright, alright,” the outsider backed off, his hands now up in surrender. “Thanks again,” he told her, “your nuisances shall now disappear.”

“I may come back here again later jus’ ta have a look atcha,” Suika revealed, and Nazrin was quite displeased with the idea.

“Shoo!” the mouse hissed.

“That’s not something a mouse should say,” Suika grumbled, but before Nazrin could begin tossing danmaku their way, Suika leapt away snickering, grabbing and tugging Gen backward by his clothes. As they departed he waved goodbye to Nazrin, who let her rods fall to rest on her shoulder while she put her cheek in her palm, her mood torn between crankiness and appreciation.


About a pair of hours later, Gen stood at an appreciable distance from the Human Village, enough that its walls and gate were clear to him, but from its vantage he was sure his form was indistinct. Nevertheless, he knew Nazrin was right: especially as he remembered how quickly Kazami Yuuka had identified his study and occupation the year before. He had gone back to the mansion after he and Suika had made their way through the Forest of Magic in order to change his clothes to something less distinct. This had not been very possible, however.

Essentially, all Gen had done was remove his characteristic colorful scarf and velvet coat, as well as his gloves, and was now carrying on his belt a suitcase once more for materials, cards, and a few books. He certainly looked old-fashioned in his dress shirt, trousers, and vest, but not old-fashioned for Japan. Unfortunately, Sakuya and his Mistress had no yukata to spare. “Western fashion only” for the House of the Devil. He worried a little about his hat as well... but had ultimately decided to keep it, despite the risk. He imagined once he entered the Human Village like this, the rumor of a second human living at Scarlet Devil Mansion would spread further. He sighed, but was satisfied with that. He felt like this little bump in difficulty wouldn’t be too bad for him now.

At present, he was waiting. Suika said she would meet him at the gate on the fourteenth hour, and he’d borrowed Sakuya’s pocket watch in order to figure out when exactly that was. Miss Suika was sure to have a good sense of the time of day, but he wasn’t a (by definition) prehistoric being with over a millennium of time to get a consistent internal clock. He checked Sakuya’s treasured possession.

“... About now,” he muttered, and he began to approach the town.

The Human Village was something he’d only seen so far from a distance and from above. This was the human population of Gensokyo, as far as he knew. As his Master had told him early on, Gensokyo was a land of youkai, not of humans. The humans were there to maintain the youkais’ existence... not as food, but through their fear and belief. Despite the rather restricted life of the average human villager, allegedly this simply did not bother most of them. In the time since Gensokyo had become a forgotten land, its human people had become used to the way of things, not rebelling, not dissatisfied, only content. Perhaps they all, too, understood the appeal of fantasy as he did—though it was supposedly a heavy rule that none of them stray too far from the ordinary that they might become out of it entirely. A human villager becoming a youkai of any kind was a grave sin, and learning magic – even learning flight – would lead to suspicion at best.

So, as ordinary villagers grown very comfortable with youkai (at least within their own walls), the humans of Gensokyo had expanded their home to the size of a rather small city. It sat adjacent to the unvisited shrine and the Forest of the Lost, and was also not very far from the forest in which Marisa and Alice lived. He looked at its tall and wide defensive measures and whistled that he could not see where they ended to the right or left. Scarlet Devil Mansion’s gates were not even near so grand, though he thought their color was nicer.

The gate he walked to was very formal and very Japanese architecturally. It had an angled and two-stage roof, and a simple door to be entered, nested within a pair of large doors presumable for large vehicles and such. He put his hand to the pulling handle of the smaller portal, and brought it open.

[ ♫: http://listenonrepeat.com/watch/?v=hrtI_HxUHfU ]
[次元の風 - UNION2 (Sound Refil)]

Within a hollowed chamber – the distant and dark ceiling lined with parallel and thick wooden beams, ridged and paper lanterns illuminating staircases and ladders aside going above and into the walls – echoed the muffled sounds of busy human life. However... it was distinctly different from the sort with which Gen was familiar. Across the way was another door within one of two large other doors, and beside him was a simple counter, behind which sat what else but a human. It was a lazy-looking man in pale gray, simple, and summer Eastern garb. “Lazy” as his feet were up on the counter, and he was reading a magazine which featured a woman with distinctly voluminous hair. On it was a headline: “A New STARS in Sky!? The Surprising Rise of Nakashima Mika!” ... He might have heard the name.

“U-Ummm...” Gen tried to address the... probable guard.

He glanced at Gen very briefly. “Two? The door’s open, you know? Don’t cause trouble, please,” said the man, and he went back to reading.

“‘Two’...?” Gen mumbled, and finally felt that someone was beside and below him. He looked down.

“Eh...? ‘Trouble’...? How would a pair of humans cause trouble in the Human Village?” asked Ibuki Suika in a very smart tone. The guard gave Suika a dull glance, and she opened her arms as if to say “Well? Look.” He looked, and huffed dismissively at what he saw. Gen, however, was almost floored by her appearance.

Suika of the Ibuki had indeed worn a disguise. She had on an open black robe and stark, loose and white clothing beneath that, with hakama split and monochrome in color as well for her legs. She was wearing geta, the Shawl of Kagutsuchi over her shoulders, and was making absolutely no effort to hide her ancient, domineering, and very far-reaching horns.

Gen said nothing. He could say nothing.

“Looks like it’s working well,” spoke the drunk, hand on her chin and visage proud. He grimaced looking at her. Even the decorations she adorned her horns with were still present... As she had told him: oni were not compelled to lie; she was sure of herself. He didn’t even have the heart to play her straight man.

“Well let’s head in then,” he said, having eventually found his voice, and not using it to remark on Suika’s choices. He went to the far door with an expression indicating pain at the back of his eyes, and Suika stomped alongside him in what he imagined was her idea of the typical human’s arrogant stride. Pushing it open, he was arrested by sensations.

The first was the scent of foods: stands and restaurants deliberately fanning out their dishes to entice passersby, some kitchens behind glass to show cooks in preparation of yakisoba, sushi, and other quick and enticing dishes. He tasted this all, too, and felt himself growing hungry. Next was the sound of crowds and musicians, now full in the air past the door, full of hollering, bartering, chords and cries of joy and children’s simplistic anguish over falling things and selfish wants. Finally the sight was so much different from what he’d started becoming accustomed to. This was definitely a place full of life, unlike the Road of Liminality which put life beside death, and sold itself on that queer divide as appeal. To him, this was so unusually... normal to see. He had to hold there at the gate a while, just taking the bright scene of gaggles, wanderers, sellers, youkai, families, entertainers and all in what seemed to be the drawing and entrance hub of the Human Village.

Captivated and a little dazed, he jolted to two unexpected sounds. One was a squeaking, rumbling, and groaning noise, and the other was jangling accompanied by light scraping—he shot his gaze down to the person poking out from behind him with her head before his stomach, who was holding her own belly and grumbling.

“Mmn... I gotta eat somethin’...” Suika moaned, and he saw that attached to shackles around her wrists, and locked to a small obi at her waist... were some of her chains.

The chains too...!? ... Ha...!

The final thought was vocalized, and he openly, purely laughed as he began to walk earnestly into the village. Suika complained.

“Don’t laugh, boy... I haven’t had time to get a bite ‘a somethin’... Gah...” she followed behind him, eyeballing the place at her hip where her gourd would ordinarily be. “... Givin’ you a time limit, Gen: get me outta here before I wind up sober...”

Gen was laughing with his mouth shut and his hand to his face, unable to look at her. Just how vast was this girl’s pride? She couldn’t give up on her horns nor could she give up on her chains. One glance at her made it so simple to see she was an oni, but also so clear... It was clear as day her love of that truth. The image of her “disguised” appearance came to his mind again, and he laughed more strongly, almost doubling over for a moment. Suika followed, still thinking she was being teased for her stomach.


[] Get Suika something to eat/drink later.

[] Refrain. Save.


Eventually this tickling thought subsided and he was beside her again, walking through the village and taking in all he could see and hear. The Human Village was like a historic recreation... but with some odd touches. There was clear western influence from older days within some of the architecture, and especially within some of the things on display. Old radios as decoration (or surprisingly actually in use—this raised many questions), grandfather clocks, gramophones... all put beside simple, old, Eastern dress (commonly) and designs. It was a... relaxing aesthetic. Though the plaza and main street were very much bustling with foot traffic (and a few rickshaws, even), this was not the density of modern Japan he knew—not even close, and that was a weight off the mind. There weren’t... crowds that certifiably resembled body-comprised rivers, and he could actually move around quite easily. No building went higher than three stories (and three seemed to be an incredible rarity) and the layout of the place was surprisingly orderly as he went deeper within. The Human Village was laid out as a competent grid, something he found if not rare... certainly poorly implemented in the Outside World, where residences were packed together to maximize space, and placed out of the way on winding, confounding, tiny, and disturbingly thin roads, while business districts... mostly made sense most of the time... and still had noticeably small and not-wide roads. Exception to any of this was rare. These streets were wonderfully open to the contrary, and under the summer sky he felt very happy and light in heart to walk them.

They proceeded past bars, grocers, homes, and what seemed to be a school in the directions he had written down... the directions to the Hieda Estate somewhere within the Village. As they went, he kept an eye on those who kept their eyes on Suika. As he had quickly affirmed from what he had read... indeed the Human Village did not mind youkai, insofar as they were seen within the village itself. They were not a majority, but typical nonhumans could easily be spotted walking about in a distinct minority, and fairies were obviously hiding here and there just out of sight. But, he eyed the people eyeing Suika... because Suika was an abnormal, even for this diverse place. She was mostly concerned with having her fill of the sights and sounds of the village at this point, her mouth an oval agape, and so was not giving any attention to those giving her attention. Quite a few were, though: worriedly eyeing the impressive parts of herself, which showed her age easily, and thus had them frightened in knowing how powerful this being (... whatever sort it was) must have been. Those who noticed the youkai’s chains would often whisper to those beside them, as if confirming something. What else...? If there was anything telling about her, her absurd “branches” aside, it would be the symbol of “the unchained”: the shackles that told she could be tied to nothing but her own self. Unthinkably strong and brazenly free... What else could this youkai be but an oni?

... He was worried she was going to start a scene just by being here, eventually. Maybe Reimu would show up...

“Hey,” the woman of the hour spoke up, and he looked down to her, “how’re you gonna get an audience with this... Miare? Are you gonna pay or something?”

“A toll just to see somebody... That’s a scary thought,” he replied. Suika shrugged.

“I dunno, I jus’... I just remembered, ahh, the girl... who yer after.”

Gen squinted at his companion and began frowning rather deeply. “... Hey,” he said, “you seem... more drunk.”

He now noticed Suika’s face was rather flushed. “My gourd’s named for me...” she started to explain, “It’ll give... give away who I am, so I left it at, uhh... I left it somewhere, and drank a whole lot of it.”

“... That may be a problem,” he admitted with a frown. Though Suika was an impressively clear-headed drunk... she seemed to be always thoroughly drunk, and he had not thought that she could grow intoxicated beyond that.

“I’m fine! More than fine! Heeere,” she drawled, and then dragged him down by his sleeve. In short order he was being princess carried by her, one of her arms under his thighs, and the other supporting his back, while his suitcase dangled below him and before her knees. They were at the center and top of a red-rail bridge passing over a small and sparkling canal, and so were very prominent. Rather than be embarrassed by this, Gen mostly could not parse the information of her action, and only looked at his... “prince” a little strangely. Suika returned his gaze with a sleepy one, and then started walking in the direction he had been headed. “Y’see? I can even carry ya fine,” she told him, not thinking at all how her display of strength might look to anyone else.

But, that was true: she carried him very comfortably despite their difference in size. In fact, he decided he didn’t mind this. He would let himself be carried and with the time this granted think of what to ask Hieda no Akyuu when they finally met. He crossed his arms, put his thumb and forefinger before his lips, and while squinting began some consideration. Suika, who quite apparently did know what girl he was after, moved in the proper direction toward the Hieda Estate without any of his help at all. She had covered and watched the entirety of Gensokyo for nearly a month; it might be stranger that she wouldn’t notice the important child.

So he ignored the villagers and youkai staring at and muttering about the tall and foreign(?) man being carried by the short and venerable youkai. He ignored them, and thought about a point his ferry had brought up... and about how he was very nearly out of money.

Generally, money was no necessity for Gen: he could gather most any ingredients for free, his room and board along with his meals were provided so long as he kept working as he’d sworn he would, and simply, finally... he had virtually no desire to buy or spend money on anything. But... funds had so far already proven invaluable for him in his Master’s assignment. He had a feeling settling this matter – that of this cursed shawl of an old god – could take a definite and long amount of time. So, the question was whether to find work and so cash to smooth transactions that could probably come about later on, or to be frugal and deal in favors if deals were to be made at all.

For now—


[] he decided he’d find some work.

[] he decided he’d keep his pockets empty.


After all, really, that would likely be for the best.

“Here we are,” announced Suika. They were now before another large wall and a gate. This was much fancier, shorter, and more elegant than that which surrounded the village, with black-shingled tops above the walls, and a genuine barring entrance such as the one back at his home which allowed one to see the opening stone and pond gardens and sprawling, single-story Asian buildings of the Hieda mansion. A young lady with black cropped hair and servant’s garb peaked from behind the bars to see the source of the drunken voice she had just heard. He heard a soft “oh my” from her behind a raised hand, and she spoke to them with polite speech.

“Excuse me, are you here to see the young mistress?” she asked.

“Yeah! Show us the spirit immortal!” demanded Suika in a fiery voice. He was still being carried in her arms, still holding a thoughtful pose, and looked at the Japanese maid as if nothing was strange about their appearance.

“I would like to see the Ninth Generation Child of Miare, Lady Hieda no Akyuu, about an artifact I discovered that comes from the time of the first gods of Japan, yet wound up within Gensokyo at some point.”

He indicated to the cloth around his prince’s shoulder’s, the oni smiling down at it as he did so. He told the servant, “I believe that this is the wrapping Kagutsuchi was delivered into and died within.”

“He’s telling the truth,” Suika looked at and told the maid. She shrunk a little behind the wall at the address, looking away nervously. He listened to her mumbling.

“Mistress Akyuu is... but, if it’s an oni... hmm... I should...” she spoke to herself for a little while like so. Eventually she looked up at them and told the pair, “I-I will go to see the young mistress!” She bowed, swiveled, and hurried inside.

After a few seconds of waiting, Suika gave an, “Ah.”

He looked to meet her eyes, and she looked to meet his. Then, she smirked coolly, squinting one of her eyes a bit and giving her princess a handsome glance. “I remembered where I saw this move now,” she said, referring to the way she now carried him. “Hey, is your heart beating?” she queried, nearing his face.

“Pretty as you are, this is all too silly so no: it isn’t,” he said, smirking in return and folding his arms now.

“P-Pretty...? N-No; I’m cool, not pretty,” she insisted, blinking down and shying away now. But, he saw her peeking toward him with a single eye, and her smile hadn’t left: it had only gotten to squirming.

... He took the opportunity.

“Honestly, I love the way you look,” he said bluntly, “when I saw you a few nights ago for the first time, I was pretty set on wanting to take you down, but you looked so amazing I even forgot that for a while.

“Ho... Hoohhh...?” she replied, still peeking.

“How do I put it...” he thought on this seriously, his own eyes closed, “you look like you know with total confidence who you are, and that completeness and bearing catch me in as short as a moment... It’s incredible, I think.”

“U-Um, I, uh, I didn’t think of you at all be... fore...” said Suika, and he looked at her as she continued to confess, “But I thought you looked... like a blue spark suddenly leaping out. glowing in the dark and heating everything when we had our competition...”

She gripped at his leg and back, and spoke honestly, her brows knit.

“I... keep wanting to see that... I-It...” she swallowed, “It was pretty... It made my heart race, and I got really happy.”

She gave him an anguishing look, drawing out the words in her heart to say, “Hey... I want you to know... you gave me hope again, ‘kay?”



She dropped him.

“Pff!” he blew out air very suddenly, having landed awkwardly on his carrying case. He now propped himself on his elbow and readied words, but before he was able to ask for an explanation he heard a child’s voice behind him.

“Hello there... I suppose you must be the rumored oni... and you, the second human at the Devil’s Mansion. I am Hieda no Akyuu. Welcome.”

He looked over his shoulder. Through the settling dust clouds he saw a girl in expensive traditional clothing, colorful and autumn-like in its shades. She had perfectly straight and shoulder-length lavender hair, similar to his Master, and in her hair, on the left side, was a large and prominent white flower pin, decorated with red string. The child looked down on him with purple eyes, and offered a polite and pleasant expression. He crawled onto his feet and started to pat away the dirt from the side and back of his clothes. As he rose, he saw that the gate had been opened, and the little girl was awaiting them.

“Thank you very much for seeing us!” he exclaimed as soon as he realized this, bowing to a right angle. “We arrived without notice and must be a bother! Please excuse us!”

“Come on, pick your head up,” the child insisted. He did, and saw that she was gazing behind him to his companion, who was pinching at her left forefinger and pouting badly, the look in her eyes faraway.

“I gotta calm down...” she told herself quietly, putting her face in her hands and sighing. She seemed to think no one else could hear her, and so spoke to herself again, “I look totally ridiculous...”

“Um, Miss Oni?” the Hieda asked, and Suika remembered where she was.

“Awah! Ahm! O-Oni, huh!? N-No oni here!” Being “exposed” flustered her immensely. But, after waving her hands about in refutation a little while, she approached a theory and asked in a severe tone, “... That... Is that your power, Akyuu of the Hieda!?”

Akyuu of the Hieda looked at Suika’s horns, then at her chains, and finally at her face. She smiled again and told her, “Yes, that’s right.”

The oni breathed out in relief. She looked up into his face with a weak simper, telling him, “That’s somethin’, huh...? Well, let’s go.”

She walked past him to enter the grounds. He stayed behind and let his eyes fall on her back.

Gen was not a fool.

Ibuki Suika and the rest of the oni race had left this world because of humanity. If he had to guess, humans’ propensity for craftiness, trickery, and generally victory by any means had to have soured their relationship with the honorable and truth-esteeming oni. Although he personally knew oni as mythological kidnappers and raiders just as much as he knew them drunken fun-lovers, he also knew that regardless they valued straight and honest relations above anything else.

At the very least, he could tell that Ibuki Suika certainly did.

He’d given her hope? He was one of the most underhanded people that he knew. For a long while now, he felt he had to be.

Itou Gen stepped onto the expensive and gorgeous property of the Hieda, following Suika who was now following the young Lady Akyuu. He understood: he had very much to think about.
>> No. 66956
File 153883268575.jpg - (1.08MB , 1016x1370 , Hieda.jpg ) [iqdb]

[ ♫: http://listenonrepeat.com/watch/?v=ZKQBrkB8G0Q ]
[忘らるる物語 - 音 (凋叶棕)]

They found themselves in a very gorgeous room.

To their side: a long set of sliding doors opened here and there to show the Sun and a sea of raked pebbles dotted sparsely throughout with boulders—a nice and fulfilling stone garden. The doors gave the only lighting to this pleasant-scented place, the place in which Hieda no Akyuu seemed to work given the sitting desk with a small mountain of unused scrolls, an ink and pen set, and a small record player for ambience behind her. The space was full of many sorts of flowers in many sorts of vases, crowding in a way that did not feel claustrophobic. Every one was quite varied in shape and size, and many he thought must be exotic. The beautiful things demonstrated their pale and deep colors that belonged to canvas so long as the shafts of illumination from outdoors shone upon them. If not, in shadow they looked almost as velvet flora. Akyuu drank from a porcelain teacup and set it down before an unfurled scroll. He saw the translucent ruby color within it, and was reminded a little of his Mistress.

He and Suika waited before her with their knees on moss-colored seat cushions, their postures very formal and their distance from one to the other rather noticeable. For different reasons and in different ways, the two were thinking independently on how to proceed from here.

“I’ll have tea for you two in a little while,” said the master of the house. Surprising him, Akyuu put one arm on her desk and rested her chin on her knuckles, even slouching. “So,” she began in a tone significantly more mature than her appearance, “the very same cloth that wrapped the newborn Hinokagutsuchi... I’m surprised you found it.”

“So you recognize it?” he asked, and she nodded, looking at the cloth around Suika’s shoulders.

“Of course, I don’t remember its... ‘creation’, I suppose, and even if I could—even if the Children of Miare went that far back in lineage, I would hardly be able to recall the memories from back then. In fact, Hieda no Are... you know of her?” He nodded, though was not aware Are had been female. “Hieda no Are who was crucial to the compilation of the Kojiki only compiled spoken histories, and she did this at the start of the eighth century, far after the earliest known events had transpired. Everything we know about the creation of Japan is secondhand, really.”

“I didn’t know she didn’t write the Kojiki,” said Gen.

“That was Oo no Yasumaro, though Are could have certainly done it by herself,” said Akyuu as a matter of fact.

“Mm, mm,” Suika grunted, having her eyes closed and her arms crossed. She looked at the Hieda fiercely and asked, “What the heck’s the Konjiki?”

Akyuu chuckled at this and thus began to explain. “Kojiki. My ancestor was ordered to memorize all the oral accounts of the history of Japan, Yamato, or however it had been known and was later ordered to put them down to a record. That record was known as the Kojiki, Japan’s first historical writing. It detailed basically everything one could know about the nation – particularly all its legends and myths – from the land’s creation to about half a century before the then-current year of writing.”

“So your soul’s got some sorta special power,” Suika observed with a finger raised. “What’s it called?”

“Does every power need a name?” asked the Hieda, looking slightly incredulous.

“No, but,” answered the oni, and she looked toward the ceiling, raising her fingers as she counted silently. “... Man,” she said eventually, frowning and cocking her brow, “I should name more of my moves.”

Hieda no Akyuu tittered again. “Gumonji,” she said, “that is the name of my power to memorize anything I see or hear, and I suppose that is why when I reincarnate, I can keep some memory of my past lives. Like this, it’s harder to forget things, really.”

Suika pinched at the shawl she was wearing, putting on an open smirk as she asked, “So? Whaddya know about this kid? ... Or, it used to be him.”

Akyuu cupped her chin, closed her eyes, and remembered. “... It showed itself fairly recently, thankfully,” she soon began. “It appeared in Gensokyo when I was Amu, so about four hundred years ago. The winter of the year had been particularly harsh, after a series of winters consecutively worsening. It was decided that the gods would be petitioned to fight against it. This was when I was told to remember.”

“The gods proposed that we return the cloth within which Kagutsuchi had been born and slain to our existence, as it had been lost to time. The undying flame of his blood would keep us all warm through any winter... was the idea. The Hakurei Shrine Maiden of the time was told to keep watch, for Kagutsuchi’s flames were said to be terrifying and without restraint. If anything went wrong, all life in Gensokyo could have perished, from humans to gods. Of course, something went awry.”

“The Hakurei was quick and graceful. Moving with no hesitation in her heart, she faced the rage of Kagutsuchi and made him calm through force and ritual. For the remainder of my life as Amu, it was as if Gensokyo had two suns—though to be exact, Kagutsuchi’s flame is not like that of, say, Yatagarasu. It is a terrestrial flame.”

“What happened after that?” Suika asked.

And Akyuu answered simplym, “I died. When I became Anana, I found that the Shroud of Kagutsuchi had been lost, and none were alive to tell why.”

“What?” asked Suika with emotion, not satisfied with what she had been told. Gen looked over at her hand, seeing that she was clawing at her knee.

Akyuu straightened up. “Why do you wish to know?” she bid. “Does it have to do with your saying the Shroud ‘used’ to be him?”

“The soul of Kagutsuchi left this Shawl a long time ago,” Suika explained, her head bent, “all that’s left are the feelings he had: despair and anger. He’s got every right.” Suika straightened as well, informing Akyuu, “We gotta return Kagutsuchi to the Shawl.”

The child gave them a pitying smile. “That sounds pretty dangerous,” she replied.

Gen finally spoke up, admitting apologetically, “Well, maybe we don’t need to go that far.”

Suika shook her head, placing her other hand on her opposite knee now and leaning toward him. “Listen up, Gen: once we get this grudge removed, this Shawl’ll just be some bloodied cloth, without any heat in it at all. Without Kagutsuchi’s spirit, that’s just the way it is. That’s how gods work. You split ‘em up, and their power doesn’t change a bit. Without a bit of the fire god in here, you ain’t gettin’ any fire.”

“Couldn’t you rekindle his power without getting his soul?” Akyuu chimed in. They looked at her. “The blood and body of Kagutsuchi are quite potent, after all. That must be how a grudge remains in the Shroud without any spirit to maintain it.”

“W-Well, maybe...” Suika almost refused to agree, her arms folded again, and her eyes closed defiantly.

“So our options...” Gen spoke, “... are to return Kagutsuchi itself to this object, figure out how to bring its fire back without necessarily doing that...” he stopped, looked at Suika, blinked, and turned his head away to say after, “... or we remove the grudge, and leave the cloth as it is.”

“What!?” the oni protested. He looked at her again. “Why would we do that!? People gotta remember! They’ve gotta remember the sins Izanagi no Mikoto committed!”

“I’m not sure about bringing something like this back, even at a fraction of its power,” he told her firmly. “The Lady Hieda is right, it sounds dangerous. In the first place, I was looking for something that warmed itself, right? Not burned.” He crossed his arms and put on a bit of a smug face, “What’s that? You’ve lived long enough to get set in your ways? Pretty naive. You didn’t even think of that, did you?”

Suika glared at him. She turned away, pouting. “Tch,” she sounded, “I’m sobering up.”

Gen turned his attention to Akyuu, who was watching the two of them carefully. “She’s saying it’s time for us to go,” he told her.

“That’s too bad,” said the human girl with a sorrowful smile, “we didn’t even get tea for you yet.”

He shrugged with a little smile.

“Before you go,” Akyuu stopped him as he rose (Suika was still pouting), quickly scrawling something on a piece of paper, “it may be helpful for you to go to the local temple school when night falls. You see, it’s the end of August and just still a full moon so you’re in some luck to visit now: the school’s teacher, Kamishirasawa Keine, will be entirely aware of Gensokyo’s history when that moon rises.”

She handed him a set of directions, which he took and looked over.

“It will be a little dangerous to visit her tonight...” Akyuu confessed with a knowing tone, looking askance and almost bringing her hand to touch her forehead, “but you have an oni with you, so I’m sure you’ll be fine if you decide to do so.”


[] See the school teacher at night.

[] Refrain. The night is still dangerous.


Suika was standing, and lifted her head when mentioned.

“I never did get your names,” said Akyuu, looking between them.

The oni stood to her full height, hands on her hips. “Ibuki no Suika,” she said.

“Just Itou Gen,” said Gen, putting his hands in his pants pockets.

“It was nice meeting you two,” said Akyuu, her words truthful. “I think... if you survive, Mister Gen, and if you stay, Miss Suika, then in a few years I may be the one requesting an audience with you.” She closed her eyes in pleasant contemplation. The pair looked over to one another, not entirely sure what she meant by that.

“It was nice meeting you too, thanks for the info,” Gen said. Bowing, he followed with, “If that’s all, we’ll be off.”

Suika left promptly, giving a little salute over her shoulder and saying, “See ya.”

He hurried after her, putting up his hand perpendicular to his face in an apologetic gesture. She looked sympathetic, and relaxed at her desk. With that, he left the room.


[] Go see Reimu about the curse.

[] Go bother Marisa and Alice about the curse.

[] Bother all that—figure the curse out on your own!


Reminder the other three choices are:

[] Get Suika something to eat/drink later.
[] Refrain. Save.

[] he decided he’d find some work.
[] he decided he’d keep his pockets empty.

[] See the school teacher at night.
[] Refrain. The night is still dangerous.
>> No. 66957
[x] Get Suika something to eat/drink later.

She voluntarily put herself in a tough spot to help us, even if we're low on funds I think we kinda owe it to repay that. She's responsible for the artifact we found being able to be quelled at all and pretty integral to what we're doing, if she's asking for something simple I'd like to follow through on it. If we have the money for it, it might be worth getting something to bring to Reimu for later.

[x] he decided to find some work.

I like this for a couple reasons - it would give him some ties to humans which might be a good reflector/grounding/insight for his seeming struggle about turning into a full magician or not. It also allows him to apply his magic to an actual purpose instead of just battling right now, Patchouli embodies knowledge for the sake of knowledge but I (selfishly?) hope that Gen can apply that knowledge to improve life for people better, put magic into practical practice. I think constantly fighting for favors, while it has a purpose and time for important things, can't/shouldn't be done for everything under the sun.

[x] See the school teacher at night.

Akyuu pointed us in this direction otherwise I wouldn't have felt comfortable following it up, honestly. If she asks why we've come on this night of nights, that it was Akyuu that pointed us in this direction. I also would do this only if we get Suika something to eat/drink after -- we're relying on her heavily here and I do want to do something to honor that.

[x] Go see Reimu about the curse.

Shrine Maiden and curses, that's a strong duo. It involved the past Shrine Maiden, which Reimu might know or just be curious about. I wonder how much Reimu knows about past Maidens. I just don't know what she might ask in return, which is why I'd at least like to go in mind with an offering of... some kind while we're getting something to eat/drink, even if it's "not enough", it's still rude to just show up with nothing and expect help.
>> No. 66959
[x] Get Suika something to eat/drink later.

[x] he decided he’d find some work.

[x] See the school teacher at night.

[x] Go bother Marisa and Alice about the curse.
>> No. 66960
[X] Get Suika something to eat/drink later.
[X] he decided he’d find some work.
[X] See the school teacher at night.
[X] Go bother Marisa and Alice about the curse.

Eat, drink, go to school, try to find a job, and spend time bugging your colleagues.
Even in the land of fantasy some things don't change.
>> No. 66961
[x] Go see Reimu about the curse.

She's the expert.

[x] Get Suika something to eat/drink later.

Let's use the money we have, while we have it. It's good that he doesn't depend on it, but it does have its uses. Which leads me to:

[X] He decided he’d find some work.

And, finally:
[X] See the school teacher at night.
>> No. 66962
[x] Get Suika something to eat/drink later.
[x] he decided he’d find some work.
[x] See the school teacher at night.
[x] Go see Reimu about the curse.

The smart people have already given the reasons, so I'll just leave it at that.
>> No. 66963
[X] Go see Reimu about the curse.

Shrine Maiden was partially responsible for how the cloth is today, Shrine Maiden can fix it.

[X] Get Suika something to eat/drink later.

Never leave an Oni unappreciated.

[X] he decided he’d find some work.

What could possibly go wrong?

[X] See the school teacher at night.

If the Oni's feeling appreciated, they'll be fine to mud-wrestle a Hakutaku or two.
>> No. 66964
[x] Get Suika something to eat/drink later.
It's not a proper date if we don't treat our girl to something nice.

[x] he decided he’d find some work.
I like the reasoning that having a few positive interactions with his fellow humans could be good for Gen-Gen.

[x] See the school teacher at night.
Even though it may lead to she and Suika locking horns, as it were, this is probably the right choice.

[x] Go bother Marisa and Alice about the curse.
I want to see Alice do a spit take when we barge in with this this issue.
>> No. 66965
File 153918646381.jpg - (388.93KB , 700x986 , a friendship.jpg ) [iqdb]
[x] Get Suika something to eat/drink later.

[x] he decided he’d find some work.

[x] See the school teacher at night.

[x] Go see Reimu about the curse.

Talk of history put history on the mind, and hers was both lengthy and storied.

She sat now cross-legged and slouching on a roof that overlooked the Hieda gates, the direction of her gaze vaguely falling down to where her new human friend was exiting the manor. Her thoughts were far behind, and so what she was “seeing”, too.

He was complaining to himself. For a moment, she stared blankly at the boy as he grabbed at his head with a single hand, looking around. She couldn’t hear him, though. Maybe, “where did she go?” or “Miss Suika!” She let her sight return to memories again.

She plucked up and rubbed the hem of Kagutsuchi’s Shawl on her forefinger’s side. A word came to mind.


[ ♫: http://listenonrepeat.com/watch/?v=e5spig0vxeQ ]
[幽霊楽団 ~ Phantom Ensemble - Cradle 東方幻樂祀典 (Sound Sepher)]

It was a word that no oni ever wanted to accept.

Where’d I mess up? Why wouldn’t they gather?

A month is a raindrop in the sea of time, right? Did I need a river’s worth?

She squinted.

But if that couldn’t grab them, more isn’t going to.

She separated her hand from the article, and looked into its palm: its lines, its marks, its nails.

The old hand of a king that couldn’t sway a kingdom.

There was a more recent memory... That of a voice of an old friend rose in her thoughts, and she tugged in the rest to make the scene. The old house on the edge of the world, the inventions she’d never seen before sitting on counters, against the thin walls. Out the veranda a sight she was trying to re-familiarize herself with: Gensokyo. The long-surviving forests, the bold hills, the ever-present Mountain, the old Lake, the strange spots of fantasy; it was always beautiful, but here she couldn’t perceive it well. Every so often, the landscape would fade and be replaced by a million graves of a million giants: colossal slabs that seemed to leave no space for the smallest blade of grass. The scent of her homeland was difficult to catch from this transcendental place. If not for it being her friend’s home, she might even feel resentment toward the manor.

“So you’ve given up, then?” asked Yukari, taking her eyes away from the distant Lake. “That’s unfortunate.”

“Nah, nah, I’m not giving up—I just gotta quit it, alright?” she answered, waving her hand dismissively. She was lounging on her side on the tatami and playing with a two-tailed cat, petting its dark fur lackadaisically. “Reimu really wanted me to stop, and I thought—‘Why not?’ It’s respect, respect.”

“Respect would be to keep going,” said Yukari, resting her elbows on a low table. “Suika, what you’ve done—what you’ve always done, has been abandoning the honor of a fight because your heart informed your decision.”

Suika turned her head from her friend as this was said, as if looking away would let her not hear it. She pushed on the cat’s head, pouting.

“Don’t pout,” said Yukari.

“I ain’t pouting,” she replied grumpily.

“Don’t lie either.”


She felt a hand on her head and growled as it began to rub between her horns. The girl behind her had put her hand through a gap in reality to pet her oni friend. “This is why we’re friends, Suika,” Yukari said, “because you’re a terribly special girl.”

“Shut uuuup,” she moaned, her eyes shut from the caressing. In a flash she reached up and grabbed Yukari’s wrist, holding it firm.

“But really,” the gap youkai spoke again, letting her hand limply fall such that her fingertips tickled the oni’s skin, “I could have told you it wouldn’t work, but you’d already shown up quite suddenly.”

Suika did not answer.

“That’s your impulsiveness,” critiqued Yakumo.

It wasn’t just impulse, Suika thought, using the pet nekomata (fallen asleep) as an armrest, no, it wasn’t that at all.

She began to smolder. Impulsive? No. Not when it counted, not ever where it mattered. When the world was shifting, the First Deva of the Mountain always played her part to the letter. “Impulsive”...

At that time, she remembered the other human who had impressed her. A little devious, a little sly, but in how he approached a fight he had mainly used what power and knowledge he had and nothing more. Despite his like of tricks, that boy had not been cruel. All in all, he had faced her as straight as an Outsider could, although there were many ways he could have cheated her. And because of that... no, because of everything, he was radiant: the young man roared with life and style. He, a human, bested her, and it had been marvelous. Recollection warming her face, she rolled onto her back, brought the feline over her chest, and while hugging it thought, I can do this.

“Futility”, right? That didn’t matter.

He didn’t give up. She couldn’t.

“Hey, Yukari,” Suika asked, looking at the fresco of youkai and gods on her friend’s ceiling, “how d’you... get closer to a man?”

Now, she forced the memories to disperse. The world as it presently was came back to her perception in a rush of light, sound, noise, fragrance, and feeling, and it was like lurching through a tunnel that bore itself through time. To most, the sensation would likely flip their stomachs over and get them vomiting, but the process had become normal for her since long ago. Regardless, she did not need to relive that advice. Yukari’s gonna pay, she swore in her heart.

“Gen! I’m here,” she called down to the young Outsider. He looked up, lifting his eyebrows and sighing out a stream of air before relaxing his shoulders and wearing a relieved expression. She blushed a little. Cute...

She jumped down from the roof where she had been “watching” him, landing powerfully and almost splitting the earth. Itou Gen put up his arm against the wind and sand that had been cast, looking at his sleeve and shirt and speaking in another language. The dirt on his outfit lifted off and dropped to the ground, and he looked down at her with a frown. “Weren’t you disguising yourself?” he asked. “What kind of human leaps around like this?”

Oh yeah, she remembered.

“Don’t give me that ‘oh, right’ look,” he spoke breathily, almost pained. He looked askance and was quiet for a few seconds. He then revealed, “Uhh, I should apologize. I don’t disagree with your sentiment about the Shawl, I’m just... well, I’m a cowardly human.”


“Don’t worry about it,” she said, and meant it. Nothing he’d said in the Hieda’s house had been wrong. She’d lost sight a little. “Reset. What’s up next?”

“Want something to eat?” he offered, still not looking her way. He seemed to find a bit of confidence, and told her while meeting her eyes, “I’ll get you some drinks, too.”

A light lit inside her.

“Ha ha...” she laughed, “yeah, I’m starving.”

The boy found her a restaurant with a view, and at a convenient hour: before dinner, yet significantly after lunch. She could order as she wished, so long as it was within his somewhat limited budget, so she ordered a tokkuri and a plate of gyoza to start. Thus, she began relaxing to the sound of folks coming and going through the adjacent plaza.

She sat across from him, munching on dumplings and watching people. Gen was slouching, his mouth and the bottom of his nose resting in his left palm as he absently tapped his left cheek with his middle finger. He was writing on some parchment and absorbed—from what she could tell, they were notes and ideas. Guess a human needs that to organize... no—most oni are like that too, huh?

She could organize her thoughts with her power, and unless drunkenness was interfering particularly severely, she could force her thoughts into order. Though, “force” was inaccurate: it had very much been long enough that literally “gathering her thoughts” was a second kind of nature to her now.

“Whatcha writin’?” she asked him, glancing at his scribbling hand for a second and talking though a mouthful of food. She washed it down with sake, straight from the flask.

Gen did not look up. “I’m putting down my thoughts to paper,” he answered, “because there are quite a lot of them right now.” He lifted his eyes and next added, “Almost too much to do.”

She chewed on another gyoza, and a smile grew on her mouth. Eventually, without saying anything, she had to giggle.

“Wh-What?” Gen asked shyly, shrinking a little and twisting his eyebrows.

She chewed some more and swallowed, leaning forward across the table and spreading her arms out across it. Her worries were almost gone. Something about being with him put her in a good mood. “Lemme help!” she announced.

The human looked at one of her hands for a little while before answering. He said, “I don’t see how you could.” He looked into her face and pondered, “Unless, what, you want to use your power to organize my ideas for me? I’m not sure about that, it sounds like it’d hurt.”

“Nah,” she answered lightly, “I won’t do that, I just wanna help you figure things out with my teeth and my tongue, is all.”

The boy put down his left arm and propped the elbow of his right on the table, leaning his cheek into the heel of his hand as his eyes fell on her hand again. He moved his face to cover his mouth, his eyelids dropping until he came to a kind of natural squint. What was he thinking about?

He closed his eyes, and when he next opened them they were aimed at the crowds she’d been watching earlier. “Sure,” he spoke into his palm, “I’ve basically got three meals on one plate, so to speak.”


He met her eyes again. “Yeah. I’m thinking of finding some kind of work, probably in the Human Village. I also want to see Miss Reimu about the cloth, and when night falls I want to see this teacher Miss Akyuu mentioned. Then, there’s a bunch of other plates waiting once this day’s over.”

“A job, huh,” she replied, drawing back her arms so she could put her chin in her hands. She looked over his notes upside-down, reading: Scribe, labor, odd jobs...

“You don’t got a lotta ideas,” she told him.

“Nope,” he admitted, dropping his right arm over his left and leaning toward her to get a better look at his writings. “In the first place, I don’t really know what work there’d be to do here without it being more... permanent. And honestly, I’m not interested in having more coins that much.”

“How about youkai extermination?” she asked, kicking her legs.

“I’ll pass on stuff like that for a while,” said Gen, “I feel like that’s asking for trouble in a way that not even I’m so bold as to tempt.”


“Did your world have currency? How did your society function in the Land of Oni?”

“Hmmyymm,” she mumbled, thinking that over. “We’ve... got some, I guess. Used to be it was more important when we ruled The Mountain—uhh, not money exactly, but just like... trade and all that. Like, an economy...” She reached over her own arm for another gyoza, opening wide and throwing it into there. The juices – savory as hell – made her feel like she was melting. She had to come here again. “We ushed to jush help eashother out wheneva. Glp... Not really any matters that needed a coin to settle it, not even for if ya’d usually have ta flip one.” She smirked, having demonstrated her recent knowledge about currency’s uses. Next, she flicked her nose, grabbing the tokkuri up. “And when we make tools, they’re only for us. There was a little guy who stole one of our things... didn’t work out for him nice, or like... his descendants got it bad. They abused it. That’s a lesson, Gen,” she told him, and she drank, gulping the whole flask down. Ooooooohhh... this mixture with the juice of the beef is gonna kill me...! She reached near the end of the bottle and lifted it over her head, holding out her tongue for the last drops. Man, I gotta try making some a’ these on my own...

Her thoughts stopped as she spotted her companion looking toward what seemed to be one of her fangs. She tilted the tokkuri upright and grinned as a feeling welled inside her. She wanted to tease him.

“Eh? Want the rest?” she asked, elated.

“‘The rest’ being a few drops?” he questioned blankly.

“Wellll, if you’re that fascinated with my mouth, I thought you might want a taste of it—just kiddin’!” She began nearly wheezing with laughter at this. She looked into his face, anticipating a scarlet shade, and giddy at the thought of seeing him flustered.

And indeed, he was just so: a finger on his nose tip, brow furrowed, and looking away as blood rushed to his face. A few “uh”s and “no”s fluttered past his lips; She wanted to go over to him and give him a slap on the back or a spirited punch in the arm.

Well, really, what she wanted to do was get close to him again at all. Like when she’d cradled his head, or when she’d hugged him around his stomach. Especially around his stomach. Despite being a magician, he had a firm abdomen. How did it look? When her nose had touched a ridge there...

Ahh—what the heck am I thinking? But despite herself, with her chin in her hands again, she found herself staring hard at his opened collar. Her last thoughts were replaced with, Ahh, I wanna see. I wanna see it, and in an effort to steer her thoughts towards something less racy, grabbed for another gyoza, which turned out to be the last. She ordered more as Gen coughed into his closed fist, trying to return the mood to normal.

But it was hard.

Without wanting them to, her memories of talking with Yukari about this came back.

All the jokes at her expense, the reminders that she had lived since ancient times and nothing had swayed her, that she was so, so adorable—ugh!

One of Yukari’s sentiments had been very sincere, though.

“I think that this must have just been the right time and the right place, the right situation and the right person,” she’d said, and followed with, “Moreover, I think... Well, I’ll keep that to myself, but I am happy for my friend to find lo—”

The memory was dispersed, just as a next order arrived.

Suika slammed her fist on the table, and thus began to eat messily, ignorant of the wave of fright she had sent through the humans watching her (Gen had simply flinched).

That’s not it!! That’s not it, right!? It’s too dang soon to use a word like that, yeah!? It is, yeah!? Wh-Wh-Why would it even be him!? Wh-Why—

She was unable to lie to herself.

Nooo... No, no, I took a liking to him, like Yuuga, and Reishou, and Neieiki, and Joryuu—but it’s like...

Another memory came to her mind as she squinted at the next dumpling in her hand. Outside her perception, Gen looked on in concern.

Standing on a dark tower of grimoires, looking across to a tired young man looking right back with a face saying his head was aching. The young man told her coolly:

“... My name is Itou Gen, it isn’t nice to meet you.”

That tightening in her heart. That sense of defiance from a challenger—she always liked that.

Another memory:

“Watch me,” he commanded, but it was a little weak. He didn’t believe in what he was saying, but he had to.

She’d opened her eyes, and promised him: “Sure.”

Later she was at his heels, and there was a picture of him stuck in her head from then. He looked like a kid, like an actual kid. He smiled at her, showing teeth, and was turning around a branch, pulling it down with sparks at his fingertips. His coat swirling, the pages of his books fluttering—

Handsome and cute.

Cool and cute.

Weak, strong, and cute.

She was brought out of her memories by him now waving his hand in from of her face. This wasn’t like her. Getting caught up in old days in her head, leaving herself open for the sake sentimentality—if this was the “l” word, she almost didn’t want it.

... Only almost.

“Mood swings are typical for oni, but I like to think you can usually see them coming, Miss Suika,” Gen told her. “You alright?” he asked sincerely.

She looked once more at the gyoza she was still holding. She looked at his frowning mouth, and pushed the dumpling into it. He opened his mouth in surprise at the act, but didn’t feed beyond taking it in. After all, Suika had not yet removed her fingers.

“Hey, listen,” Suika said, standing to reach him, her free hand planted on the table, “I’m gonna get going. I’ll meet you at the teacher’s place at nightfall, but I gotta pull myself away from you for a while.” She explained, “Really, you’re messing up my head.”

She withdrew her fingers. “If I stay here any longer...” she said, her body heating up and her breathing getting heavy. Without a second thought, she honestly admitted, “... I’m gonna wanna eat you instead of gyoza.”

That really shut him up. She’d noticed he had a habit of picking up on where he could embarrass someone else in a moment of turned tables, or at least he’d definitely done so aplenty over the last month, with that puppeteer and younger bloodsucker especially. He had no riposte now. She left him like that with a “see ya”, jumping into the plaza, then leaping into the sky while fading into mist.

—Oh, whoops, she thought as she spread herself out over the village, forgot I’m in disguise again...

Eh, oh well!


[] Go to that Ghost Girl and bug her about the dead. Dunno, she might have an idea about it. She’s in charge of the Netherworld, right?

[] Eh, first thing: getting the Shawl to Reimu?

[] Let’s go fight someone.

[] Watch Gen.
>> No. 66966
[x] Go to that Ghost Girl and bug her about the dead. Dunno, she might have an idea about it. She’s in charge of the Netherworld, right?
It makes sense for her to take the investigation somewhere that would be a little difficult for Gen to get to. And if she wants some insight into romance, an accomplished poet isn't the worst person in the world to consult. (though I can't quite recall if she is supposed to be a poet herself or just descended from them)
>> No. 66967
[X] Go to that Ghost Girl and bug her about the dead. Dunno, she might have an idea about it. She’s in charge of the Netherworld, right?

It's important to meet the competition. Ideally, this results in a flustered Suika and Youmu.
>> No. 66968
[X] Go to that Ghost Girl and bug her about the dead. Dunno, she might have an idea about it. She’s in charge of the Netherworld, right?
>> No. 66969
[x] Eh, first thing: getting the Shawl to Reimu?

I'mma help
>> No. 66970
[x] Let’s go fight someone.
-[x] Fight Suika again.

This is a suicidal vote, but she probably REALLY needs this.
>> No. 66971
While Suika can technically fight herself, just in case there's any confusion, this is a vote for Suika's next move rather than Gen's.
>> No. 66972
Replace that with [x] Fight Gen then.
>> No. 66973
[X] Eh, first thing: getting the Shawl to Reimu?

First thing's first, else it'd be last thing.
>> No. 66974
[x] Eh, first thing: getting the Shawl to Reimu?

Helpan gaems.
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