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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]
66849
(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
>>66845
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
>>66861
...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]
66865
[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.”

“Mhm...”

“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?”

“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?”

“Yes!”

. . .

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.”

“Hm...”

“But! I acted fast...!”

“Hohh.”

. . .

“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.

“Bullshit.”

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

“Nah.”

“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.”

Laughter.

. . .

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?”

“Yes.”

“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.”

What...?

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.

“Lucky”...

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:
https://danbooru.donmai.us/posts/2531553
https://danbooru.donmai.us/posts/1479438
and >>66845
https://danbooru.donmai.us/posts/736055
https://danbooru.donmai.us/posts/2422584


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]
66867
>>66866
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
>>66866
>>66867
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
>>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".
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]
66874
[ ♫: 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,
伊藤彦


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.

also
>>66871
>> 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]
66890
Tie, but I wanna write so

Flipped a virtual coin. A cloth it is. These other options may return again, however...!
>> No. 66891
>>66890
>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]
66895
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.

First...


[] ... 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
>>66908
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]
66918
>.gif

++++++++

[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?”

“Yep.”

“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:
https://danbooru.donmai.us/posts/806055
https://danbooru.donmai.us/posts/3257182

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]
66935
image sources:
https://danbooru.donmai.us/posts/2867798
https://danbooru.donmai.us/posts/3253415

++++++++

[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?”

“Nope.”

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
>>66941
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
>>66942

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]
66954
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.

========
CHOICE:

[] 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—

========
CHOICE:

[] 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?”

”Hope”...?

“What—”

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]
66956
~~

[ ♫: 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.”

========
CHOICE:

[] 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.
-or-
[] Refrain. Save.

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

========
[] See the school teacher at night.
-or-
[] 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]
66965
[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.

Futility.

[ ♫: 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.”

“Shaddap.”

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.”

Hmph.

“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.”

“Yeah?”

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.”

“Hmmm...”

“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
>>66970
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
>>66971
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.
>> No. 66975
[X] Eh, first thing: getting the Shawl to Reimu?

As much as I wanna have a chat with the netherworld crew, this is sort of the only think Suika can do that Gen can't, and it may as well be done immediately.
>> No. 66976
[x] Eh, first thing: getting the Shawl to Reimu?
>> No. 66979
>>66971
Now that you say that, I want to see a one-shot in which at least two Suika have a brawl.
>> No. 66981
Pardon the delay. Got sick and that fucked me up.

Also World Trigger is coming back from a two year hiatus and that basically has stolen my heart since yesterday.
>> No. 66982
File 153986437134.jpg - (506.97KB, 1000x1414, shrine maiden.jpg) [iqdb]
66982
[X] Eh, first thing: getting the Shawl to Reimu?

[ ♫: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CyuvPeiSPPo ]
[昼下がりの憂鬱 - Nurebane Nostalgia (東方黒髪少女地位向上委員会)]

After changing back to her favorite outfit, she went along to bother Reimu. Bothering Reimu felt extremely natural.

Something about the child’s nature was perfectly compelling. Unlike the magician she’d befriended, Reimu had been immediately attractive to the returning oni. She thought of that as she condensed to a more physical form and landed on the old stones of the Maiden’s shrine: the girls posture, temper, and strength of heart—but especially her honesty, were all too charming.

“You again,” Reimu, who was sweeping, noted with a slight glance.

“Yo!” Suika greeted her cheerfully, a hand raised in a gesture of palliness. Her fingers dropped as she realized Reimu’s present activity. “What’s that? You’re sweeping after I cleaned the Shrine for you?” she asked in an irritated voice. That was pointless.

“I’ve got nothing else to do,” said the red and white human plainly as Suika approached. She then shrugged. “Unless you guys start some trouble, I’m out of work.”

“Aren’t you a shrine maiden?” asked the elder youkai with a particularly arrhythmic lilt, having begun to at last regain her buzz once more. “You can do other stuff, right?”

“Y-Yyeeahhh, uhh... Sure,” the little girl replied awkwardly, that awkwardness fast-showing on her face. Suika could not hide her joy from seeing it.

She lifted her hands into claws. With as much threat as a puppy seeing their master after hours of absence, she leapt at Reimu, a playful “Graowrrr!” on her tongue. The shrine maiden wore a frown and a glare and flicked a long needle into the oni’s forehead, knocking her skull back. Simultaneously, she released a sheaf of homing seals, which rushed toward the incoming youkai and... as a flock decided to stick to the red blanket around her neck.

“... Eh?” Reimu made this small sound as she began squinting very slightly. The ofuda she’d sent were all burned away, and Suika stomped back to the ground to watch them disintegrate. Was the ribbon around her collar that big...? the human wondered to herself.

Suika plucked the needle from her head before it could fall (as it hadn’t pierced her skin, and at had most made a small impression) and spun it around her finger, still looking at the ashes falling from the Shawl and whistling as she did so. She caught the needle in her grasp, and gave Reimu a knowing smirk before putting the needle’s point to the pad of her finger and flinging it back. Once Reimu casually received it with a pinching grasp over her shoulder, the oni decided to speak. “I have a job for you,” she announced. “Can you break curses?”

~~

“Come back in a few days,” Reimu said, sitting slouched and cross-legged before an elaborate scene, “there’s quite a lot I’ve got to prepare for something like this.”

“Seriously? That’s really it?” asked Suika, swaying somewhat and slightly in place.

“We already decided on this being a favor for a favor, right? Hurry up and go.” With that word her last, Reimu turned from the oni to look upon what she was starting.

A circle of candles stood around the Shawl of Kagutsuchi, which itself seemed to have been enshrined. A shimenawa rope comparable to it in width (that of about three feet) was laid out on the stones before it, its jagged white paper tassels floating as if wafting from heat. Above the shawl, five ofuda were stuck in place afloat, like they’d been caught still in glass. Suika herself could also feel that Reimu had put this part of her shrine within a barrier, something that would prevent anything other than what the caster allowed from entering or leaving. She glanced down at a meditating and old-Japanese whispering Reimu before she stepped out of it, looking to the left and thinking.

The “payment” for this was, they decided, Suika’s own work earlier that day. Knowing that, she figured if Gen had gone to ask Reimu for the same thing, the Shrine Maiden would have asked for something more. Potentially much more, in fact, as she’d become aware to Reimu’s greed through observation since her little “Incident”. Suika’s cheeks warmed in shade. She thought it would be nice if the boy praised her for that.

She slapped her right cheek twice, her eyes squeezed shut. C’mon, c’mon; you wanted to get away from him for a bit, didn’t you Suika?

She looked up at the sky. Although Reimu had needed a little time for Suika’s explanations and her own setting up, there was still day left. Suika crossed her arms and smiled alone. Good job, Ibuki, she granted herself.

Now where?


[] Become the breeze, borrow the wind a while.

[] Maybe seeing the Ghost Girl is still a good idea.

[] Get back within sniffing range of Ge
uh

[] Fight someone.
>> No. 66983
I'm torn in two directions on this, one that Suika would want to "get away from herself" for a bit and disperse into the wind and just float for a while.

The other being that she feels best when she's in a fight and it'd help her think more clearly in general. Downside being that no no one can really fight her too well or offer perhaps even an appropriate challenge.

I wonder if she'd up to spar Yukari (or if Yukari would even bother) after the whole memory/"you fox" scene earlier, as if Yukari had done something personally to put her in a temporary miserable state. There's some amusing witty barbs that could happen here as Suika's... mental state is poked at.

I'm not too crazy for the random trip to the underworld to see Yuyuko at the moment unless we had something more to go on.
>> No. 66984
>>66983
I think you're thinking right, and I'm glad you're torn.
>> No. 66985
>[] Get back within sniffing range of Ge
Careful, Suika. At this rate, you'll end up a total deviant like Gen, nearly going for a headpatting-handholding combo.

[X] Fight someone.
The direct approach! And if the direct approach works now, perhaps she'll try it again later~
>> No. 66986
[X] Maybe seeing the Ghost Girl is still a good idea.

Time for the Halloween side story!
>> No. 66987
[x] Maybe seeing the Ghost Girl is still a good idea.

I want more Youmu, the only one that can get close to Suika in 'best girl' territory.

By the way, have they exchanged cups yet?
>> No. 66988
[x] Become the breeze, borrow the wind a while.

Become the breeze, borrow the wind... bother the tengu? I'm in.

Yes, I know, that's almost certainly not what it means, but they're all good options so I need an excuse to pick one over the others.
>> No. 66989
[x] Maybe seeing the Ghost Girl is still a good idea.

I have some suspicions as to where this may lead, but it's a pretty dumb plan so I won't voice them. Netherworld is fun no matter what regardless.
>> No. 66990
>>66987
When cups are exchanged, it will be known.
>> No. 66991
[x] Maybe seeing the Ghost Girl is still a good idea.

I'm not adverse to the idea of combining this with fighting somebody. I just want to see more of your Youmu and Yuyuko, and this is an interesting opportunity to see how differently they deal with Suika rather than Gen.
>> No. 66994
File 154029811630.jpg - (471.44KB, 793x694, ghosts and phantoms.jpg) [iqdb]
66994
[X] Maybe seeing the Ghost Girl is still a good idea.


Being an avid lover of life, Ibuki Suika could not be considered a fan of death. She was not often a willing visitor of the Netherworld... but that preference was not the reason.

Suika made her way quickly through the skies of Gensokyo as twilight hours began to morph their color, going to the gates that hadn’t changed in the slightest since her last visit. The barrier, however, had. In the past, she needed to destroy it for a moment to pass, or if she was feeling lazy slip through a part in the door where her body of mist could infiltrate. Now, she saw that the barrier had become weak. Even a human could get through this, she noted as she went. She squinted on a distant pavilion atop an impossible rise of stairs. Must be Yukari, she determined.

The Barrier of Life and Death had absolutely been tampered with, and her friend could be the only reason. She felt she shouldn’t criticize as she used to sunder it herself all the time during one particular series of events in her life, but each trespassing had been temporary; this was permanent. Now she understood why there had been so many phantoms in Gensokyo after her arrival. She hadn’t thought about it much since it just made her think of the Dead Princess, and she wanted to keep a good mood.

Yet here she was.

Quiet as ever, huh... she noted, looking over the landscape with little emotion. Eh... get in, get out; get in, get out. She needed to reassure herself.

The Netherworld was withered and barren. She remembered that the “tower” of dead poets where the Princess and Konpaku resided was quite beautiful, but it was as if all the beauty possible within this dead world was concentrated only on Hakugyokurou and its gardens. The rest of the place was marked with dry dirt roads, thin plank graves, wandering spirits, husks of trees, and nothing alive of course. The distant mountain range locking the place from elsewhere – bizarre, thin and multitudinous like a row of broken teeth – was also outright unsettling. Entirely, it was a place that rubbed her the wrong way, and she rubbed it the very same. Her presence was clearly and solidly unwelcome. Her being so full of life, it always felt like this world was actively rejecting her, air rippling at her skin and forces tugging at her back toward the sunset of the living world. Not enough to stop an oni, but enough to put one in a bad mood by the time one touched down before the stone sea of the white jade “palace” at the top of the realm.

“Eh, who!? Y-You!” said the youngest Konpaku before her as she landed and grumpily reached for her gourd. The little gardener looked very rattled as Suika drank, gripping her broom, mistaking it for one of her swords, and then carefully putting it aside before pulling out her family’s heirlooms in an aggressive pose. “Answer! My blade has already begun to learn how to cut you down!”

Suika chugged.

“A-Ans—! Ah, I...! Didn’t ask a question!” the half-phantom realized. Suika breathed out her nose and continued draining her gourd. “I ask you!” cried the child, pointing her Roukanken, “What is your business at Hakugyokurou!?”

Her gourd had emptied. It’d be a moment before it refilled. Suika pulled the purple tool from her mouth and dropped a powerful sigh. “HHHaaaaaahhhh...” she breathed, shifting the pebbles beneath them with her volume. Dropping her gourd so that it could fall to her waist again, she nearly fell over and lifted both her hands palm-up. She twitched her fingers inward twice. “C’mon. You wanna go, right?” she asked in a drunken, provocative voice.

The tiny warrior was riled. “Fine!” she shouted, taking her stance. “I will repay you the embarrassment you dealt me three nights ago!”

But a bell-like voice spoiled the fun.

“Youmu,” spoke that clear voice from indoors. “don’t touch filthy strays.”

“Lady Yuyuko,” answered the girl, calming rapidly. She looked toward the source of the chiding, and Suika did as well, seeing a young-looking woman with a pair of spirits surrounding her seated at the manor’s veranda against a wooden pillar. Saigyouji Yuyuko had come, and was resting with a fan over the lower half of her face.

“Uwaa... the stench of death got worse,” Suika commented at once, and the Saigyouji spared no time either to retort.

“‘Stench’?” she repeated, glancing toward the oni with eyes that said nothing. “Do you really want to say that when demons like you can’t even bathe?”

“What! I bathe!” she snapped, her drunkenness ebbing. “I bathed this morning!”

“Dunking yourself in water isn’t bathing,” Yuyuko said, her eyes now closed. “Just wetting and drying yourself... Are you a demon or a dog?” She sighed breathily. “Did you even use soap?”

“You...” Suika folded her arms as she growled this out, her eyes narrowing, “do you think oni are uncivilized?”

“Don’t you sleep outside and eat in the dirt?” the Ghost Princess asked seemingly in earnest, even cocking her head aside in innocence. That... bit. Suika began to claw her skin. The Konpaku, who stood between them, was looking to each of the ancients and steadily growing in panic.

“I guess I can’t expect a kid who’s always lived in a house to understand the allure of nature,” said Suika coldly, her eyes shut and a smile twitching on her face. “And I can’t imagine a sheltered brat would ever know what it’s like to be worldly and mature.”

Yuyuko took down the fan over her face, lifted her head in the smallest possible movement, and offered Suika a simple, serene smile. She recited: five, seven, five.

“I spoke with a child
Who believed their hands over words
For eighty-nine years.”

Suika looked incredulous. Sayin’ ‘cause I ain’t so well-read I’m a whelp...!?

“You’re lucky you’re dead, ghost,” she threatened, trying to stifle her mounting rage, “you really like to get me going.”

“Hmph,” Yuyuko snubbed the trespasser, staring off in distant thought and losing her expression. “I don’t know why you came here uninvited then. Well? Go.”

Suika sighed, grumbled, and put one hand on her hip and another behind her head, her eyebrows scrunching. She swallowed her pride for a moment, and decided to be the bigger woman. She looked toward Saigyouji Yuyuko’s impassive face, her lips and brow offering nothing to imply the state of her mind. Their meetings always, without fail, went this way. Why?

“I just wanted to ask you somethin’,” she said in a mostly steadied voice. “Since you’re in charge of a land of the dead, do you know what happens to dead gods?”

“Gods?” Yuyuko asked with curiosity.

“I’ve got one I’m lookin’ for: Hinokagutsuchi, specifically the part of him that was left in his birthing shawl.”

The ghost glanced at Suika and lifted her eyebrows a touch. “Oh, I see... by now that might have left, wouldn’t it?” she whispered absently. At a normal volume, she followed with, “And here I thought you were more relaxed than that. Don’t you usually leave well enough alone?”

“Like the time with you,” Suika answered, “I’ll deal with what my pals want me to.”

Yuyuko was silent. The Konpaku, feeling that tension was dying down, mumbled that she would prepare some tea. “Just prepare it for your mistress,” Suika told her, and the girl nodded awkwardly before sneaking off toward the kitchen.

“I don’t remember what you mean,” Yuyuko finally responded, not elaborating further than that.

What? All you remember is hating me? Tch... Suika rolled her eyes. Characters like Saigyouji Yuyuko almost made her reconsider the oni ideal of always helping one’s brothers and sisters. Not worth remembering, she told herself, and she shrugged.

“Don’t worry about it. So? You know anything about where gods go when they die?”

“It depends, actually,” said Yuyuko, her posture growing sloppy. Suika drifted toward her, and took a seat at a wooden column across from her, resting one hand on the porch and another on her knee, her right leg extended. The ghost continued, “As with any living creature, the death of a god means the judgement of a yama, and he or she decides where they go. You surely know... the mother of the god you’re looking for went to The Land of Darkness upon her death. The Creator Gods of Japan may be old but they were not the First, and so were judged as any other.”

“Hnn... So? What about Hinokagutsuchi?”

The little gardener returned with a tray and cup, presenting it to her mistress and sitting in seiza beside her. Yuyuko took the cup and sipped before telling her unwanted guest, “Kagutsuchi was a special case as far as I know. That child’s death cemented ‘death’ in the Eastern Land. While his mother was judged, he was not. He simply... ended. Parts of him spread, but truthfully it is as if the god never existed.” She peered into her cup. “That shroud,” she said, “lost the piece of him that was inside it once, did it not?”

“Can you find where that piece went? I need it.”

“No,” Yuyuko said with finality. She drank a little more and that was that. Suika frowned.

“So it’s just totally gone?” she asked.

Yuyuko shrugged.

“You don’t know?”

She shook her head.

“Hmmm...”

“You seem really disappointed,” the noblewoman finally answered, “but it’s probably for the best. You can’t turn things around once they’ve been set in stone. The dead will stay dead, and the gone gone.”

Suika only looked at her, remembering the reason Yukari had given her as to why it had been snowing in spring.

“Alright, fine,” she said, her head bowed. “Can’t exactly up and ask the Yama to be sure or anything. Hell, if the spirit is even in an afterlife, it might not be Gensokyo’s.”

“Indeed, now leave,” Yuyuko said pleasantly. The oni scowled.

Again with this.

“Thanks, Princess. I actually appreciate it a lot,” she forced these words through her teeth. Yuyuko nodded. “I’ll get you something later,” she vowed.

“If you do or you don’t I don’t really care, just leave already,” the ghost said calmly. The Konpaku next to her was looking worried again.

However, as the oni grew tired of the ghost’s sass, she did not choose to show wrath. Instead, she gathered zeal in her breast, stood up, and fell into her unwilling host, who brought up her shoulder and pouted. Suika put her arm around the girl’s warm back, and drew her close. “Ya know, I wanna think of friends of my friends as friends of mine,” she told the Princess, gesturing skyward. The Konpaku was not sure if she should grab her sword. With her thumb, Suika uncorked her gourd and lifted it to the ghost’s cup. “I don’t hate you at all,” she admitted, “and if I’ve pissed you off in the past, don’t sweat it, alright? Here.” She blended the woman’s tea with her infinite sake.

Yuyuko looked into her cup, still pouting. However, she drank without hesitation. Suika grinned, and hugged her a little closer. “Let’s hang out with Yukari together sometime,” she offered, “I think we need something like that, yeah?”

“Really,” Yuyuko asked lightly, speaking more an observation than a question. Despite the sharpness of this girl’s tongue, Suika did ultimately like her.

“Alright, see you,” she bid, letting the woman go and beginning to float in the air. She nodded at the Konpaku. “And you,” she addressed, making the little one flinch, “you still haven’t thanked me for teaching your sword what an oni feels like.”

The swordswoman was too flustered to respond.

“Thank me later with a better fight,” Suika told her, and she faded away, her next destination a place to think and drink, and then the Human Temple School.
>> No. 66995
File 154029820520.jpg - (25.52KB, 1000x667, the moon is high.jpg) [iqdb]
66995
[ ♫: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fQQyDMphZGc ]
[eureka - eureka (fromadistance)]

A strange cloud hung above the Human Village, violet and thin, but night had come in full and so none seemed to notice the phenomenon. It lasted only a little while regardless, soon forming a person’s shape above a certain human’s left side.

Itou Gen lifted both his shoulders as a pair of arms came around them. He looked to his left and the hairs on his body began to rise as he realized Ibuki Suika was hugging him, and rubbing her cheek to his. She squeezed him tightly, unabashedly.

Then, she fell asleep, her right horn pressing into the back of his head.

Gen opened his mouth as if to comment, but no words came. He was used to child-sized persons falling asleep on his back, so he let her rest and looked upon the school before him.

Well, here I am, he thought to himself, putting his hands in his pockets, should I just head in?

It had been a long day.

He’d managed to find some work as a scribe, ultimately deciding that using his magic in the human village might have been too suspicious, if it was even allowed at all. Nothing permanent, but he’d earned a little and now had the option of keeping records if he ever needed a bit of spending money. It had also been useful work – very dull and monotonous – since Suika’s words and actions earlier in the day had really entrenched him within a befuddlement vortex.

He wasn’t experienced, but he wasn’t dense. He and Suika were definitely interested in one another. He turned his head to her sleeping face, eyes falling to the line of drool flowing from her mouth and onto his shirt. Even if he knew he had caught her eye, and she his, he didn’t actually know how to proceed. He thought: let’s face it, asking an Elder Youkai “Would you go out with me?” was so absurd as to be assuredly disastrous.

Table it, he settled, trying not to let the warmth of Suika warm his baser parts. If they indeed liked one another... something would eventually happen. For now, it wasn’t worth the agonizing internal dilemmas over it.

“Guess I’ll just head inside...” he mumbled. He walked toward the simple wooden door in front of him, and opened it up.

“... Ah; maybe I should’ve kno—”

Fear froze him, for a low rumble was coming from deep within the building. It reminded him of coming before a bear’s den... or, this was what imagined that might be like.

He’d thought he’d become used to dark places. The Mansion was always dark, after all, and even home to so-called devils. But the rather ordinary entrance hall, only there to deposit shoes before a not-distant classroom door and what seemed to be two other rooms or halls, gave him quite a lot of pause this night. Its stillness blended with the trembling sound within made him, quite legitimately, quite thoroughly, and to his core “spooked”.

The moon was full, but hardly gave light to the meager Eastern foyer ahead of him. He moved to step forward, and there was a roar.

In reconsideration, describing it as a “roar” was too light. Hearing this throaty voice of raw anger gave him the distinct impression that something, possibly something from an opening hell, really wanted him to leave, and was overpowering him in one of the simplest ways possible to have that desire fulfilled.

Another growl, a fearful sensation. The voice of an animal waved over and pushed into him as it bellowed greatly once more. He was paralyzed again, and his hairs were entirely stood up. That had been loud. Suika slept through it.

Alright... what exactly is this teacher? he thought, sweating cold and wearing a somewhat convulsing smile. She... knows the history of Gensokyo on the night of the full moon, right? Well, I don’t know what sort of beast would be capable of that, but she’s a therianthrope of some sort, most probably.

He swallowed.

Whether he was powerful or not: frightening things were still frightening.

He held his position without breathing for half a minute, listening to the furious being hiding within the school.

... I’m heading in, he decided. If I miss this chance, the moon won’t be full for another month.


[] He went to sneak inside.

[] He walked in bravely and brazenly.

[] He left, and knocked first.

[] He called out to Miss Kamishirasawa.
>> No. 66996
[X] He walked in bravely and brazenly.

The brave and the bold.
>> No. 66997
[x] He left, and knocked first.

Manners please, sir.
>> No. 66998
[x] He walked in bravely and brazenly.
The Oni's behavior is rubbing off on Gen.
>> No. 66999
[x] He called out to Miss Kamishirasawa.

We already entered without permission, might as well show SOME manners.
>> No. 67000
[X] He walked in bravely and brazenly.

This is a terrible idea. I like it.
>> No. 67001
[X] He left, and knocked first.

The hakutaku imparted knowledge to kings it deemed worthy. A bit more decorum seems wise.
>> No. 67002
[x] He left, and knocked first.

Manners, boy!
>> No. 67003
[X] He called out to Miss Kamishirasawa.

Embrace the horror tropes!
>> No. 67004
[x] He left, and knocked first.

Let's try not to antagonize the person giving us information before we've even met them when we've only got this one chance for now.
>> No. 67005
[x] He left, and knocked first.
>> No. 67006
File 154064292721.jpg - (1.29MB, 1654x1654, Kamishirasawa-sensei.jpg) [iqdb]
67006
[X] He left, and knocked first.


First, he backed away.

Closing the door as he stepped out, he waited a moment and then knocked on it thrice.

He cleared his throat. “E-Excuse me?” he spoke a little loudly “I came to see the teacher here. Pardon if you don’t like to be bothered on full moon nights, but the Ninth Child of Miare told me I should see you about some questions I have regarding... uhh, history.”

No answer.

“I-If you don’t mind...” he said rather politely. He waited another moment, and opened the door again.

Silence.

All that he heard was the faraway chatter of late-night strollers and businesses outside. That, and Suika’s snoring in his ear. The growling had stopped. He took off his shoes and stepped onto the raised wooden flooring of the school proper. He did this to no noise of irritation or rejection. Alright, he thought, swallowing, so far, so good.

He walked carefully toward what he imagined was the classroom door, reached for the handle, and stopped to pull his hand away and knock here too. “I’m coming in...” he whispered a little loudly.

He slid the door open and was surprised to find himself wincing somewhat to light within the chamber. It was not light powered by electricity nor even was it firelight, but instead some sort of faded, jade, and peculiar illumination. Looking around, he saw that there were floating diamonds within the air, standing at varied heights and spread sparsely but efficiently to keep a faint yet usable glow within the room. He saw desks and chairs haphazardly pushed to the sides of the class, allowing plentiful space for a floor shoved full of scrolls. They surrounded somebody who was seated at the center: someone who herself glowed the same moss-light that the diamonds shined.

[ ♫: http://listenonrepeat.com/watch/?v=WOCEvBGF7GI ]
[穢血呪姫 - Solaris Lues (El Dorado)]

Delivering to him a stare that spoke of an aching head was a woman sat on her knees amidst the paper, giving the impression of a statue placed within a rolling sea of cloth. Mostly, she was visually comprised of greens and pales, but her eyes were a fierce red. Her hair had streaks of color through its fair and wild length, and he saw that from her lower back and coming to rest on her lap was a thick, fluff-full tail reminiscent faintly of mint. It seemed a meter long by his estimation, and at least half that measure in thickness. He looked over this youkai-girl a little more: from her stern and weary face to her forest-shade dress that ended in separations and spaces similar to Nazrin’s wear. This revealed instead of legs a white, frilled, and skirted undergarment.

Much about her was so otherworldly that it reminded him strongly of where he truly was, but what especially drew his eyes were the pair of tall-standing, ivory, and tusk-like horns atop her head. If not for the tail, he might have determined that this woman was some brand of oni. Instead, these horns of hers (one of which like Suika she’d decorated with a small bow, hers a vermillion color) he imagined were simply another race trait among the several others she displayed.

And that said, he still couldn’t tell what she was.

“What’s your business?” the woman asked bluntly. The direction of her gaze shifted a little. “And why did you bring an oni into the village?”

“I’m sorry for interrupting... this,” he said cautiously, taking a few short steps her way. “I wasn’t told you’d be busy.”

The woman, presumably Kamishirasawa Keine, did not speak for a little while, only gazing at him in that time with the same beastlike and simmering anger that had made him retreat from the building in the first place. However when she spoke, carefully, she did not speak any particularly threatening words, “... It’s not as if I put up a sign or put a lock on the door. While you may have been wiser had you asked Little Akyuu the details of my therianthropic condition, the simple fact is that you haven’t. I... apologize for trying to scare you off. As a hakutaku, and with a month’s amount of history to weave, I tend to be very... irritable on nights of the full moon.”

“Hakutaku”...! he confirmed ... I have no idea what that is!

“Anyway...” the... were(?)-hakutaku continued, “you did not answer my questions.”

“Oh.“ He decided to take a seat before her, crossing his legs and straightening his back. He angled his body forward to compensate for the slumbering oni hanging off of him. Seated, he saw that Miss Kamishirasawa seemed fairly tall. “I wanted to ask you about the history of Kagutsuchi’s presence within Gensokyo. More specifically, I’d like to know about the shroud he was born and killed in—I already know that it was summoned to Gensokyo a few centuries ago during a bad winter, and was lost between then and now.”

He paused to let that information sit with her. She’d closed her eyes while he was explaining, and had them shut now still. He breathed in, and said, “As for the oni—”

“So,” the half-youkai interrupted, opening her eyes, “you’re Itou Gen, who lives in the new Mansion beside the lake. Your history here, particularly with Ibuki-douji, has been short, but nonetheless you two have formed a bond.” He stared on at her, bewildered. “Let me create it...”

Miss Kamishirasawa took a brush into her hand and wrote upon some of the paper before her. As she did so, she also spoke. “The Shawl of Kagutsuchi...” she mumbled, “is not by technical definition an ‘artifact’. It wasn’t created with the intent to be remembered, nor was it deliberately infused with any sort of power. It was, by all accounts, an ordinary cloth that encountered exceptionally unordinary misfortune.” She paused, and whispered to herself “Weeks... the oni vanished... can I see it—? Is it not Gensokyo...?” He raised his eyebrow, she raised her volume back to a lecturing level. “As you know it was summoned by gods around four hundred years ago. Shortly after Hieda no Amu’s death, it was stolen away to Makai, though at the time nobody knew the culprit. The thief wanted the soul of the deceased god that resided in the object. She intended to extract that fragment of the soul and use it to strengthen her own power. The invader was a frost demon who wanted to temper her ice enough that it could withstand the fire of one of the first gods. Her name was never spoken within Gensokyo, but with her collaborators—two others—she openly discussed her plans. After it was stolen, I’m afraid I don’t know its history until the events of... earlier today, in fact. While you can reach it from here, Makai is not a part of Gensokyo, and so the facts of its past lie beyond the scope of my knowledge.”

He winced at the information he was given.

“Makai”… the world where Anlight is summoned from. This is getting too complicated.

I’m not going there. No way. Master won’t even let me travel up Youkai Mountain; why would it be alright for me to march into a world of actual demons?


“I’m thinking of getting a piece of Kagutsuchi’s soul to rekindle the flame of the Shawl. Are any other pieces of him in Gensokyo?” he asked the woman. She sighed, set her brush down, and thought with three fingers to her temple and her eyes shut in aggravation.

“… There is one, in the dormant Youkai Mountain. However, you aren’t to go there; your Master forbids it for one, but for another you haven’t been naturalized to Gensokyo, and so are a ready target for food, terrorizing, or simple murder and bloodshed. And you—” her eyes moved, and Gen saw that Suika was now awake, “—you will not step foot onto the Mountain either. Is that clear?” her words were stern.

“Hah?” Suika sounded in an irate tone, squeezing him tighter and stirring his emotions. “Who the heck are you? Even if I went there I wouldn’t bother anyone. I know the crows and wolves and turtles are all a jumpy bunch.”

“Your presence alone would greatly bother them. The entire Mountain dreads your potential return. Don’t do anything to upset them.”

“Hey, Cow, you never introduced yourself and now you’re here tryin’ ta order me around,” Suika pressed into him after saying this and he nearly lost track of the conversation. “Laughable! That’s too bold, isn’t it?”

The teacher slowly withdrew an answer, her eyes closed all the while and her brow showing pain, “… I am Kamishirasawa Keine. We all know each other’s names, so I wished to throw out formalities.”

Suika propped her elbow on his cap and her chin on her palm, looking at the were-hakutaku with a bit of confusion and an appreciable amount of scorn. “I dunno you,” she said, and she said it as the honest truth.

“Well I never went to your parties,” revealed the teacher in a blasé tone, now lifting her eyelids at a measured and deliberate speed, “but you had your fill of watching me over the past month, as you did with everyone else. It’s not a wonder someone so nosy is friends with Yakumo Yukari.”

Suika thought about that.

“… Oh right, you’re the teacher. You’d always end up either locking yourself indoors when I called you, or you’d go check on the immortal in the Bamboo Forest. Are you two lovers? That’s not the kind of thing I check myself.”

Kamishirasawa Keine said nothing, but her darkening glare said all.

“That a no?”

It was no response, at the very least.

Does Miss Suika mean Mokou? Hm.

“Don’t worry about it, Miss Suika,” the human spoke to the oni, who glanced below herself, “if I ultimately decide to ‘revive’ the Shawl, I have a few ideas on how I could go about it.”

“‘If’, huh?” she noted, but said no more than that.

“If you’re done,” said Kamishirasawa Keine, and she returned to her mysterious work.

Gen looked upon her for a moment,


[] bid her thanks and apology, and got up to leave.

[] and then offered to help.

[] and determined that this opportunity was too great. He decided would ask another question or two—or more, in fact.
----[] Write in.
>> No. 67007
[x] and then offered to help.

Normally I'd think it'd be a thing to leave, but he literally was just doing scribe work earlier today and it almost looks like Keine is writing right now, putting history into words and maybe using that to teach from(?).

Even if she turns him down, I still want to kinda offer something since we imposed on her and she still aided us. On the other hand if Gen can actually be of use to her during the full moons it could be something repeated in the future perhaps. This has implications just in terms of learning more about Gensokyo and researching in general but also possibly knowledge that is beyond that of Patchouli's library.

tl;dr: Possible short and long term gains, spirit of "favor for a favor" of Gensokyo.
>> No. 67008
[x] and then offered to help.

Yeah we were just doing scribe work. Maybe we can help.
>> No. 67009
[x] and then offered to help.

...he really thought about being a scribe just an update ago, uh?
>> No. 67010
[x] and then offered to help.
>> No. 67011
[x] and then offered to help.

Me smell plot hook.
>> No. 67012
[x] and then offered to help.

That's some very tasty bait there, let's bite into it.
>> No. 67013
[x] and then offered to help.

Either it works and is polite or doesn't and we end up getting Gen being a nuisance in some sort of hilarious fashion. Win-win.
>> No. 67014
File 154089978017.png - (3.27MB, 1250x1500, consideration.png) [iqdb]
67014
[X] and then offered to help.

“Um,” he began, “would you like any help with that?”

He pointed at the scrolls surrounding her.

“I’m fairly experienced with writing by hand,” he explained, which was and would be true of any who studied under Patchouli Knowledge, “I could assist with your records.”

“Are you an idiot?” she asked, not looking up from her work. The rebuff actually upset him. The boy legitimately felt a bit hurt. She continued without apology, “Why do you think I do this only when the moon changes my form? When I create history in this body, I create it. It becomes accepted, certain, unchangeable.”

“You’re saying otherwise history can be changed?” he asked, trying not to feel so wounded.

“Yeah,” Suika answered, which was unexpected. She slumped over him again, letting her left arm drop over his same shoulder as she rested her chin on his right. He turned his head toward her as she explained, “If someone slips through time, they can alter the past so long as it’s not set in stone. People, too, can change the truth of the past by shaping it differently through speech or writings in the present. The hakutaku is a creature that keeps history pretty much static. To keep it even safer, only one is ever actually around any point in time.” She looked over to the still-writing Keine. “One showed itself to me before, a long time ago... but it wasn’t there ‘cause of a full moon. Wonder what your deal is,” she pondered.

Keine looked at her for this, but said nothing before keeping up with her work. That seemed to be that.

However, Gen cleared his throat, and spoke up once more. The two youkai looked at him, impressed and fed up. “I still want to help however I can,” he declared, “though if I can’t help at all, I’ll be on my way after an apology. Before that happens, I don’t want to feel as though what I’ve done tonight has been only troublesome.” He then said frankly, with a look to Miss Kamishirasawa’s eyes, “And I don’t want to feel as if I owe you anything.”

The hakutaku smirked, and laughed once through her nose. “Okay,” she replied, “gather up my finished writings and prepare more scrolls for me. You can find unwritten ones in that closet in the corner there.” She nodded toward the place she had mentioned, then looked at the oni using him as a body-sized pillow. “You help too,” she commanded.

“You’re something else...” answered Suika, taking her left hand to the top of Gen’s head to push herself up and shoving his hat down over his eyes in the process. “Fine, I’ll help you like one a’ your predecessor’s helped me.”

“Do as you like, but please don’t interrupt me any further. I’ve got a lot of work to do,” spoke Keine. Gen pulled up the brim of his cap to see she was already getting back to it, removed the suitcase from his belt, and stood beside Suika, nodding at her to gesture that their own work should now begin.

So, they set about organizing things for the were-girl.
>> No. 67015
File 154089995392.jpg - (762.78KB, 1000x1519, her wants.jpg) [iqdb]
67015
“Hey, hey, what if you set this on fire? Would it stop being history or what?”

”I’m guessing that since it’s been written, that makes it canon to reality already.”

“Hmmm...”

“... She’s still at it.”

“Sure is, huh?”

“What’re you reading about?”

“Me starting up at the start of this month.”

“Hmmm...”

“She’s really objective; not like that Hieda girl at all,”

“I thought you didn’t know about the Kojiki and the Hieda?”

“With or without names I got to know pretty much everyone when I came back. I read some of her stuff too. Sassy, man.”

“It’s pretty funny.”

“You should see what she’s writing about Yukari! That girl’s gonna throw a fit!”

Suika grinned, and he felt at ease to see that. They were standing parallel to one another just outside the moss-light classroom, the sliding door only slightly opened to check on the teacher within and see if she needed any changing in or out. Suika had one of her scrolls and was reading the record over. Gen was slouching a bit with his arms folded, mostly just monitoring the hakutaku and engaging in chatter. The two of them had already gone over how their days had went after they’d split in the afternoon, so he’d learned about the fact that the god they were seeking had died before “death” was established in Japan. While carefully picking up full scrolls and laying beside the hakutaku empty ones, they’d discussed concepts of death among the living on Earth, and how in the case of oni, as long as the strength to live persisted, so did the being. He thought that was fairly interesting, but wondered then what kind of mood an oni would have to be in to just... surrender, and end.

“Ah, here, here, it’s where I met you,” Suika noted, thumbing a part of the paper in her hands. He tossed a glance her way as she read aloud: “‘Itou Gen encountered Ibuki-douji on the shore of Misty Lake, just outside the Forest of Magic. This is a transcription of their conversation’... man, she does these a lot. So much to get through. No wonder she’s touchy when she’s got to catch up... Let’s see here...”

Why would she write about that...? It wasn’t really important, was it? I just kinda... drunkenly ran into her.

He looked to his feet at a mostly rolled-up scroll, reading what he could see with the classroom’s illumination. It just spoke of weather patterns and their overall effects on crop production. Detailed conversation was only recorded for what Keine seemed to have deemed “significant”, but he wondered how she determined what was and wasn’t that.

... At the same time, if she ever missed a so-called “important” moment of history, she could always write it down during the next full moon. She knew everything about Gensokyo as a hakutaku, after all.

... But my encounter with Miss Suika, huh? he glanced at her again, seeing her dutifully reading. I guess if she thought our fight in the next morning was important, the setup might have been too. He noticed Suika was reading rather intently now.

“... Hey, Miss Suika,” he addressed her.

“Hn?” was all she grunted.

“You said you met a hakutaku before, but there’s only ever one?”

“Mhm.”

He smirked. “What? You fought it or something?”

Suika shook her head. “He gave me advice,” she said.

“Oh, really?” He was a little surprised at the seriousness of her response.

“He said he liked to appear before...” she stopped to think for a moment about what she would say “... kings, queens. Of the four of us, he said he’d only show himself to me...”

“Wait, so...” Gen started, giving her all of his attention now, “you... ruled Youkai Mountain?”

The oni nodded. “I was one of the Four Devas of the Mountain. Guess I still am.”

Gen had thought Suika held importance in Old Gensokyo, but hadn’t imagined that she was a ruler of an entire part of it. She seemed so free-spirited that it was difficult to imagine her seated on a throne, giving orders, or holding any kind of responsibility.

... But it wasn’t that he imagined she couldn’t, just that it hadn’t been a possibility of her past he’d considered. On the contrary, he felt she would do very well as a leader of people. She was strong, confident, and joyful. She had a very simple, yet powerful charisma—like Mistress Remilia. It was entirely unrefined, yes, but almost more fantastic for that.

However, he detected notes on her voice of hesitation and remorse. She was not telling it all. He wanted to ask, but a thought stopped him. The thought of how much audacity he truly had.

No matter his level of ambition right now, he could not even step near the amount of life experience, skill, and power that Ibuki Suika possessed. In a way similar to how he’d felt when considering the reality that, at the time, his Master would never respect him, right now he felt ashamed of himself. He had become incredibly enamored with Miss Ibuki Suika in quite a small amount of time, and even if he’d gotten her attention... he knew he didn’t deserve it. As that thought built, so did the notion that he might never. Every goal until now for him had felt distant, but reachable. Suika was truly from another place, on another track...

But as he worried to himself, Suika came across the portion of their shared past for which she had been most thankful: the moment he had decided to not let her leave without being sure that a bond had formed between them. And, in the retrospective third person looking back on that small turn in her history, she started to understand more greatly that what she felt toward him was not one-sided.

And so, a switch in her head that she’d been hesitant to press was finally flipped.

She looked into the apprentice’s face, seeing that he was worried over something. He had his shoulders hunched, his bushy eyebrows together, and his eyes turned. She got his attention then, and got it because she fancied it. “G-G... G-G-Gen...” she managed, “... how do you... see me?”

“‘See you’?” he answered, looking down to her again and making her heart sway a little with only that. “I see you as an incredible person.”

“An incredible... woman...?” she fished for response.

“M-Miss Suika?” was what he gave. So, she pushed further.

“More than an incredible human, I see you as a man.”

Gen closed his mouth and stared at her, his shoulders lowering as he absently moved a hand near his face.

“I-I’m saying...” she continued awkwardly, the scroll in her hands crinkling, “even... no, like... I’m...”

They hadn’t noticed, but the sound of brush strikes from within the classroom had stopped.

“K-Kiss me, please!” she said suddenly, leaning slightly toward him. “I’m getting sick of it! It’s making me go crazy!”

“S-Sui...!? Miss Suika...! Uhh, I—” he looked away from her again. He lifted his other hand and while wavering both uselessly flapped his mouth, unable to form coherent speech let alone thought. What he wanted to convey was that this was probably too quick, that they still didn’t know everything about one another, that he was about to begin another arc to build his character and be worthy of her.

At any rate, he’d only ever even kissed someone out of complete and practical necessity—it felt like they’d skipped a dozen steps.

But the oni held firm. With her hands closed over her chest, she spoke to him clearly. “Yukari told me this: ‘with or without long lives, tiptoeing around affection like it’s a cold lake will just make it worse once you dive in’. Gen, d-d’you want to hold me?”

Gen couldn’t answer. This was not how he’d expected the day to end.

[ ♫: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u713SIh2Hws ]
[月見酒 - 幻想郷事変 (Floating Cloud)]

Suika looked toward his stomach. “I want to hold you...” she mumbled, “I want to know you. I want to have you really close to me...” She looked up into his eyes again, and he saw a gleam in hers, “I wanna kiss you, I wanna bite down on you, I can’t help it...!”

Her honesty eased his nerves. Though he was frowning, his hands now in his pockets, the glow of his face made it clear that he was becoming honest himself.

“I really want you to help me,” she pleaded, looking nowhere now, “I keep thinking ‘if there’s someone who can do it, it’s him! It’s amazing that a human can do that!’ You’re amazing to me...” Her voice faded away as she said this. Gathering more of her courage, she raised it again. “B-But now, I want you to kiss me...” she lifted her head. “Please, Ge—”

So he did.

He bent forward and pressed his lips to hers, parting them slightly when she breathed. His eyes were severe, while hers closed soon after, her brows twitching with feeling. He found her tongue, and as they entwined he heard the paper fall from her hands. It was very much unlike what he’d gone through with his friend from the lake; most clearly the difference was how his present partner felt. As she’d been saying: she wanted him clearly. She made small sounds that compelled him to continue, and between the two of them was the one more forward in action. She lapped at his tongue and opened her mouth wider to caress his teeth as well. He felt her fangs, and of course tasted the alcohol she always imbibed.

She also liked to say his name, which he found above everything else to be what drove him the most. Suika put her hands on his chest to feel him, and he brought himself down to one knee to help her do so, taking his hands from his pockets to place them firmly on her shoulders.

They continued to kiss with little space to breathe, her regularly sucking on him and gripping at his torso gently. When he felt that his groin was probably too obvious (and considering the place, this was dangerous), he pulled his mouth away from hers, and managed to push her body away as well.

“Is that enough?” he asked.

“No.”

... And she waited for him, her eyes shining again and her face entirely flushed. Reason fell away, and he moved to her lips another time, closing his eyes now and trying to match her. Suika raised her shoulders, and let him.

She shivered. She brought her hands lower than needed.

“Gen...” she moaned his name again, and he flinched, opening his eyes once more. This oni... she was wrapping him up in her pace.

But it wasn’t as if this was something he could call intense. All of their touching, all of their licking was slow and careful. They seemed to have silently agreed to enjoying one another as much as they could. With ease, with passion, they parted again, their tongues left out and tied together by a bright line. Gen swallowed.

“That’s enough,” he said rather seriously, fearing consequence.

“It’s not,” she replied in a plaintive voice, her hands on his belt and thumbs in his waistband. Apparently no concept of his fear was in her head.

He looked over the little oni again, and swore he could hear her heart beating. He felt like putting her to the floor and feeling over her horns. He wondered if it might make her any more pleased than she was now—and she was already breathing hotly, half-lidding her eyes, and mostly waiting for him. That was what almost took the leash from his mind: that she wanted him to act first. An invitation... or more like some sort of resonance. She didn’t merely want him to push on ahead, they wanted the same thing, and were inherently understanding which buttons were best to press. It wasn’t her waiting that got him going: it was her waiting and knowing for certain that he would come, it was that anticipation on her breath.

But it had to stop here.

“At least let me see it,” the girl whined, tugging lightly at his trousers. He put on an incredulous smile.

“What the heck?” he told her. He leaned toward her and gave her a light kiss on her cheek, next speaking quietly, “We’ve still got something to do here, don’t get carried away.”

In return she kissed his cheek back, breathed out long through her nose, and then, without warning, licked him once there as well. He stiffened immediately. After kissing his face repeatedly, arousing him further and further, Suika leaned toward where he could hear and whispered softly. She asked him there, simply, an absurd request: “Bite my ear.”

And without a second thought he complied, taking the top of her ear between his teeth and licking the small thing once. Suika trembled throughout her whole body at the move. Her mouth shut in a squirming smile, she whined with pleasurable noise, and shoved her left hand into his pants.

Whoa!

The door swung open.

The little imp girl seemed to only half-register what was happening before fully comprehending where her hand was and who stood before her. The human held the girl’s ear still in his mouth, but had paralyzed and gone completely pale. Standing above them was a glowering, glowing, jade youkai with her hand gripping the wood of the doorframe as if she meant to splinter it. In fact, she was about to. Suika pulled back her hand and Gen pulled away from her ear.

“Uh—” was all she got out before Kamishirasawa Keine gripped her horns from underneath, lifted her off of her feet, and smashed the hell out of her skull in a sound-shattering headbutt. The oni’s eyes went white, and she seemed to have, at least briefly, lost consciousness. Like that, Keine let her go to drop to the floor, her rear ingloriously up in the air.

“Um—” was all Gen managed before the wise youkai lifted him by both sides of his head in a terrifying grasp, leaned hers back, and bashed into his forehead, pain instantly covering his skull like a blanket. He was unable to see for a moment, and when next his vision returned he saw that he was staring at a pair of sock-wearing feet. His eyes were spinning, and he could hardly focus.

“Did that clear your heads?” asked a voice from above. “Some help you two are being.”

He couldn’t formulate a response. He was surprised that he now understood the phrase “seeing stars”.

“When you’re better,” the were-beast continued, turning on her heel, “get back to work. You’re lucky you’ve prepared for me well so far. Get up soon and pick up the completed histories.”

And then, the door slammed shut.

The two new lovers shared their suffering, groaning miserably in the foyer, and just like that their excitement was mercilessly cut short.
>> No. 67016
Ouch. She did what she had to, but wow.


Also: good job Yukari!
>> No. 67017
The two were practically necking each other while on the job.

I don't blame Keine for being pissed.

And yes, good job Yukari.
>> No. 67018
File 154095379833.png - (855.89KB, 1000x571, Yukari giving a hand.png) [iqdb]
67018
Good job Yukari!
>> No. 67019
Keine-sensei demonstrating the proper treatment of numbskulls.
>> No. 67020
File 154097929844.png - (2.42MB, 1418x2000, the moon's still out.png) [iqdb]
67020
When, with headaches, they had gotten up and shuffled to complete the work the therianthrope had asked of them, their tension had zeroed out. Really, they were hardly thinking at all, and once they were done setting up her scrolls, they were surprised to later find themselves sitting side by side with packs of ice over their heads—waterskins that Keine must have filled with a crushed variant of the stuff from somewhere. His first truly cohesive thought, not broken by throbbing pain, was that he was amazed Suika had gotten hurt as well. She really did seem to suffer when she wasn’t on guard. Eventually, the teacher had this to say:

“Alright, I can handle the rest of this on my own, so you two get out and be safe.” She glanced at them and when she looked back down added, “if you want me in a more pleasant mood, find me on some morning. Alright, get out.”

And, though they were still not entirely cognizant , they did. They dragged their feet out of the school, trudged through the village, stomped a bit clumsily past the gate, and began to walk toward Misty Lake, their skulls in the end feeling much better... though not the best.

Along the way, thanks to recovery, Gen recalled that he’d made an error. “... Crap,” he said, Suika looking his way, “I forgot Master’s suitcase in the classroom.”

“Can’t blame you...” groaned Suika, taking the now mostly-liquid skin of water, erstwhile ice, from her head, “that headbutt almost made me forget the whole sixteenth century.”

“Huh. Do you use the Gregorian calendar?” he asked.

“Yukari taught me it,” she explained.

They talked for a while about western religions, and how much or little the oni knew of them. They did not discuss the subject of hours before, but this was not due to any sense of awkwardness between the two. They didn’t think of it. To them, it was no matter.

They reached the Lake in time and stood on its shore to take in the glittering pleasantry of its surface and the soothing sounds of its motion. The night was fairly quiet besies, and the breeze very little. Not far away stood the red-lined Devil’s Mansion, which one could imagine was awke given its residents, but as a resident himself he knew his masters only feigned nocturnal. Gen asked, “So you don’t know when Miss Reimu will be done with removing the curse?”

“Nope,” Suika answered.

“Guess we’ll keep checking back.”

“You’ve also gotta think about what you wanna do after it’s gone,” she told him, lifting a finger for emphasis. To that, he nodded. She then looked at her hand, took note of which it was, and gave him a kind of crooked, rather heart-tugging smile. “Haha...” she laughed, “I touched your thing.”

He blushed.

“That was my first, uh...” she trailed off in reminiscence =, closing her eyes, “well, like, it was a lot of kisses but, eeehh... What about you?”

“It was my first... romantic kiss,” he admitted with some hesitation.

“Whaaaat?” she whined, looking a blend of broken up and bothered by that fact. “With who? How many people?”

He pointed toward the lake, and she looked as he told her “Don’t fish her out, but it was one of the lake’s mermaids. Twice, actually. First I kissed her, and then she kissed me.”

“Not romantically?” Suika attempted to confirm, one of her eyebrows peaking.

“Not romantically,” he answered straight. “The first time I had to get her to drink a spirit rejuvenation potion while we were both underwater. It was either hoping the potion wouldn’t escape the bottle before she could drink it, or getting it to her mouth to mouth.”

“Huh. And the second time?”

“She forced herself on me like the secret brute she is,” he said with a smirk and a glance. “Mermaids can give people the ability to breathe underwater with a kiss. She decided to do that to me not very long ago to take me to her house for a chat.”

“You’re friends?” Suika asked, cocking her head to the side. His smirk grew.

“We’re friends.”

“I’d still rather be your first kiss...” Suika revealed, slouching and letting her arms hang, her eyes shut in disappointment and consternation.

“I’ll think of it like my first,” he told her truthfully. “Both times before this were essentially matters of life or death. In this case, it was only a matter of you being lovely.”

“Kyaa~!” she squealed, with her hand and on her face and her eyes shut again. He beamed nicely.

“By the way,” he said, “I want to let you know verbally... that I do indeed like you.”

Suika’s mouth dropped open a little at the confession, and after a second she closed it to swallow once. She stared at him silently.

Gen covered his mouth and spoke behind his fingers, looking away from her as he did. “Even if my actions made how I felt obvious,” he explained, “I didn’t think it was fair that only you spoke so clearly.” He looked down at the girl he was falling in love with. “Ibuki no Suika, I want to be with you as well.”

She smiled gently at that, her face showing a little color under moonlight.

“Uh...” she spoke, still smiling, though she seemed to be trying to hide that. She took the leather pouch from her head. “This is prolly where we say goodbye, buuut...” Her smile turned to a coquettish smirk. “Wanna... sleep beside me tonight?”

Somehow, he knew that wouldn’t mean consummation of any sort, but Suika’s glance told him she would at the very least be... “lively”... before any actual sleeping took place.

He moved his hand to cup his chin and thought about this with a face of honest consideration.

If he went with her and they slept together, there was a chance he could die overnight. If he took her with him to his bedroom, death became a morning certainty.

So if he wished to grant her request, he would have to do so outside of the Mansion. However, that would of course mean not returning for the night. Master Patchouli expected this task to take a fair amount of time to complete, so... it was possible she wouldn’t expect him to always come home while completing it.

... Still, he felt like going home was the right thing to do.

He did not look at Suika. Looking at her would make him say “yes” immediately and without hesitation. Thus, he waited wordlessly for his thoughts and feelings to sort out, and at the end of the process decided:


[] Sleep with Ibuki Suika.

[] “Sorry, not tonight.”
>> No. 67021
>... Still, he felt like going home was the right thing to do

Why? I don't get it.

If he worries about his relationship going too fast, it's a bit late for that. And, besides, he did said that it probably won't mean anything yet.

Maybe he's still worried about that? Or, more likely, he wonders where should he sleep tonight? The village has housing, but he doesn't have money. That's a fair point.

Still, my own experience has told me that telling someone you want to be with her and then immediately rejecting a chance to be with her, is a bad idea.


I don't know, the choice seems too obvious, am I missing something? Did he promise something to Sakuya or Flandre?
>> No. 67022
>>67021
Aside from dubious safety his main concern is maybe pissing off his Master by not showing up at night. Boy's got a lot of freedom to act, but in the end he's bound to Patchouli Knowledge. I won't say his concern is unwarranted either.
>> No. 67023
[x] Sleep with Ibuki Suika.
>> No. 67024
[x] Sleep with Ibuki Suika.

Cuddle that oni
>> No. 67025
[x] “Sorry, not tonight.”
Absence, as they say, makes the heart grow fonder. Also, Gen probably has a concussion and should recover from that in a stable environment. I figure Gen can go back to the schoolhouse for the briefcase another day. Considering that Keine is probably exhausted after pulling a mystical all-nighter, just sleeping with Suika until morning and trying to go back for the briefcase when the sun comes up before going home seems like a good way to get another headbutt for the trouble.
>> No. 67026
[X] Sleep with Ibuki Suika.

No backing out now. Take Yukaris advice to heart.
>> No. 67027
[x] Sleep with Ibuki Suika.

You can't throw out the chance when it's there before you.
>> No. 67028
>>67022
That's dumb. Is he not his own man? Hasn't this happened before?

[x] Sleep with Ibuki Suika
>> No. 67029
>>67028
The closest has been his drunkenly collapsing on his way back (twice in the same night/early morning, actually), but Suika brought him to the library before sunrise. Technically speaking, he's basically Patchouli's to own, though it's not in formal writing. He is to Patche what Sakuya is to Remi. That's probably a good way of putting it.
>> No. 67030
[x] “Sorry, not tonight.”

All good things come to he who waits.

Also:

> that headbutt almost made me forget the whole sixteenth century

LMAO
>> No. 67031
>>67029

Bleh, if that's how she sees it she'll have to tighten the leash herself.

[X] Sleep with Ibuki Suika.
>> No. 67032
[x] “Sorry, not tonight.”

we're on what, date 2 or 3 depending on how you define it? what kinda loose man is our MC supposed to be if he's giving it up that soon? Gotta make Suika work harder than that
>> No. 67041
File 154112251816.png - (1.46MB, 1103x750, aaaandwejustlostthedarkages.png) [iqdb]
67041
>>67030
That part was great. Poor, overworked, Werecow
>> No. 67092
>>67020

[x] Sleep with Ibuki Suika.

The only concern is where to spend the night, but surely one of the safest places is in the arms of Suika. Refusing is in poor taste, and it's not like Patchy has set a curfew. Also, since Suika had been observing all of Gensokyo for a month she must have seen at least one place they could stay at.

Glad I caught up for an important choice!
>> No. 67101
File 154146899095.gif - (3.42MB, 700x410, the scent of.gif) [iqdb]
67101
>.gif
This thumbnail is SFW, but the second images is NOT SAFE FOR WORK NSFW. Not to say it's explicit, but don't have someone over your shoulder while it's open.

This update itself is also rather perverted.

>>67092
>but surely one of the safest places is in the arms of Suika
Heh.

++++++++

[X] Sleep with Ibuki Suika.


“Alright,” he said with a nod, bringing his hand back down, “let’s pick up where we left off.”

At once, his partner sprang over to put herself directly beside him and pulled down his left arm so she could grasp it. It was the hand he was using to hold the pack for his head, and she was putting hers (still cold) over his sleeve... but she was being fond of him and happy, so he could think of no complaint. He just hoped whatever damage had been done to him by Kamishirasawa Keine had not been severe.

Suika pulled him toward the Mountain, which worried him slightly, but her direction was so sure he followed without question. In a little time he’d understand her confidence.

~~

[ ♫: http://www.infinitelooper.com/?v=0zMx-IvAmu4&p=n#/0;79 ]
[Thank You - Riei Saito (Fragile ~Sayonara Tsuki no Haikyo~ Original Soundtrack PLUS)]

At some otherwise nondescript portion of Youkai Mountain’s base, Suika brought him to see a rather lived-in seeming camping site, or so it seemed by how it was clear, and how one spot of it looked to have been lied upon very often. It was beside a steady, towering rock formation, sported a pair of logs for seating, and featured a circle of stones surrounding what looked to be an assortment of burnt out kindling. Suika parted from him and started gathering dry twigs from the forests nearby. He didn’t see any anything for starting fire about, so when a sufficient amount had been collected and placed and his lady friend turned back for more, he whispered a quick spell and flicked a ball of the stuff into the stone circle, beginning to ignite it. He stepped next toward one of the logs, taking off his gloves and pocketing them as Suika brought more fuel. When she was done, she put her hands into fists and fiercely placed them to her hips, her chains rattling. She stood with her chest out and her eyes closed in self-satisfaction.

“Is this where you sleep?” he asked politely.

“It’s one of the places I like to hang out!” she proclaimed, opening her eyes to gaze upon the cliff face behind him. “This one... it’s been one of my favorites since I was a little oni!”

“You’re still small,” he reminded.

“I’m lively!” she told him, making a turn and hopping backward so that she could sit beside him before the now-growing fire. She pointed out ahead with gusto, exclaiming, “Look! This view isn’t the best one but... just look at it!”

He did.

“I get a great sense of adventure looking at this, day or night!” said Suika, touching her shoulder to his arm. Looking ahead, he understood why. It wasn’t like the view of the entire world that he’d seen from the Hakurei Shrine by aid of fairy—really, it was rather repetitive scenery altogether and from here one couldn’t even see the Lake. But that all made it look almost infinite: hills after hills, dark in the distance and swallowing the horizon, a sky above them all blending deep violet and blue. Of course, the stars were easy to see as well, and through a frame of Youkai Mountain’s trees... it really made him want to leap off and fly into wherever “forward” took him. So, he said as much.

“This is cool,” he judged, slouching a bit. “I kind of just want to go off right now. Just take off from the mountain on some random trip.” While still looking he asked, “Have you ever?”

“Yeah,” she answered without much thought on the question. She leaned back, kicking her feet and drawing his attention from the natural skyline. He straightened his back, and listened. “Even back when I thought the whole world was just this mountain, I was thinking of going off and finding more. Sometimes I did. I found where I was born... I found this one island...”

“Where were those?” he asked. When he did, the position of his voice alerted her to his likely line of sight. She looked up at him briefly, then moved to rest her head against his chest while she answered.

“Mount Ibuki and Onigashima, The Isle of Oni... well, it was just some island when I found it.”

He put his left hand on her same-side horn and used the thing as an armrest while they wound down further.

“So you were born on a different mountain than the one you were raised?”

“Yeah. Most oni came to The Mountain at the time so we could build our strength...”

“Hmmm...”

“You like wandering, Gen?”

“It’s what got me here,” he said. “Not allowed to do it much nowadays, though.”

She leaned more of her weight into him, lifting her head so she could look into his face. Her expression almost gave nothing: almost blank, almost tired. She suggested, “Hey, let’s go mountain climbing.”

“No,” he told her, “not happening.”

“Then, exploring.”

“Well, I mean, if exploring a land you know so well sounds good to you... I don’t know it, but you certainly know Gensokyo.”

“Not anymore,” she told him, “not that well, and—” she began to move and he lifted his arm as her left horn became smoke and she turned to climb onto his lap, facing him and draping her arms over him, resting on his shoulder, “—there are a lotta places out there.”

The sound of her bangles oddly tantalized him. He swallowed, and breathed out.

“Gimme examples,” he told her while observing the reformation of her horn. He planted his hands out to his sides and he bent a little back for Suika to properly get cozy with him.

“Makai, The Land of Darkness, Elysium...”

“You’re creeping me out,” he told her.

“I’ve just never been ta those places,” she explained. Before saying more, she closed her eyes and put her face down so that when she spoke, she would speak into the fabric of his shirt. He put his right hand on her left side. Her heart beat, and he held back on an impulse to slip his thumb into her shirt. He was warmed from her breath as she told him, “I wanna go. Let’s go to Atlantis, El Dorado, the Biringan city...”, and his skin tickled as she began to breathe in. Again, and again. Almost always shortly, but occasionally she would shift and inhale against his body for a few seconds before panting, the temperature of her breath notably rising each time. She wiggled with a little impatience in his lap, and he bit the metaphorical bullet.

Ibuki Suika’s scent was something he had, really, basely, ashamedly wished to indulge in since it began to draw him in only a few nights ago. Now with her... “secretly” indulging in his, he raised his left hand, unsure what to do with it, and put his nose to the top of her head. He put his left hand back down with hopes she wouldn’t notice, and breathed in.

As he did, he did not consciously acknowledge it but he came to understand Suika’s frequent like of pressing against him and smelling him. It not only served to turn him on to an almost fully battle-ready state, but it also made him feel incredibly... safe. His relationship with the idea of safety had been always momentary and always fleeting since his coming to Gensokyo. Even within the mansion’s walls, he rarely truly felt like nothing would go wrong, or that everything was fine no matter how many days passed by without danger. However, in Suika’s arms, smelling Suika’s scent, he was made to feel perfectly well. After his first breath, he touched her back, and without caution put his free hand beside her face. He brushed at some of the strands of her hair, and closed his eyes.

Ibuki Suika’s hair smelled wonderful. Like earth and sweat, and though not entirely, perhaps, “clean”, that this was her body’s fragrance, unmasked, was by the fact alone something hugely provocative to him. She was girlish, sharply sweet with the smell of rice wine, and as she became more heated by his own body’s aroma, the smell of her perspiration became stronger. He began to fondle her ear, and once he did she lifted her head, wanting with her eyes still shut. She’d pulled her hair away from him in the process, but gave him her lips instead, keeping her chest up against him. These acts affected him strongly.

She had an adorably small body. That she was pressing it to him with confidence despite not having near anything resembling traditional “womanly” vivaciousness excited him even simply by thought, but to feel it—her muscle, her heat—it tightened his heart. He thought her body was gorgeous, and how she used it was sexy beyond his belief. Her small tongue was also enjoyably lustful, and the mix of their saliva causing them to slide over and beside one another had him erecting almost painfully now.

He continued to play with her ear, thumbing the stiff grooves and tugging the soft lobe with his knuckles, making her nearly melt to his touch. He himself tried not to melt to hers as she clung to him, (which was like any competition with an oni: no small feat). After having her fill of his tongue, she pulled back again to look in his eyes. The two of them were heated enough to show radiance, and without worry of interruption were now full of undisguised desire. Suika closed her eyes once more and took to pecking his lips affectionately, sending a tingling sensation over his body each time. She took her arms to his torso and squeezed him lovingly, her tough and somewhat bony form rubbing against him, and that was it. He gave up. He melted. While succumbing to a steady flow of too-charming kisses, he pet the length of her hair with matching affection as far down as he could manage, thinking over and over, You’re too cute... You’re too cute...!

Eventually, she stopped to just hug him, and he stopped his hand at her back (and really, her not-soft shape was proving to arouse him almost beyond what he could bear; he was beginning to... fantasize). They stayed like that for a little while, and were not without moments of breathing in each other’s fragrance.

Gen brought his right hand to her shirt’s top button as she put her hands near his belt. However, despite his surge of instinctual boldness he paused there. Suika, noticing this, decided to give him a push. She nuzzled his throat, raising hairs all along his skin, and blinked at him when she caught his sight. Stretching upward she locked her lips with his, filling his mouth with the taste of alcohol, and she undid his belt as he slipped her button through its clasp.

Suika’s tongue... he thought, as unbeknownst to him Suika thought of his in parallel. He eventually had her shirt open, and she her hands on his member.

With that, he lost any semblance of reason. Her grasp around him, small and exerting a little pressure, made him twitch inside her hands with thought-distorting pleasure. He was breathing in shakes now. Every gentle, curious scrape of her nails over his manhood, above and below, caused the muscles in his stomach to go taut. All this while her tongue was still tussling with his own; and now there was also the sensation of a pair of tiny buds on her chest – flicking past his fingers as he dragged them in exploration.

There was nothing else to think about anymore. His lust pulled down his sense.

Her chest was perfectly flat. The tips of her breasts had stiffened from arousal, but aside from the (pink-hued, from what firelight told) things there was nothing to grab. Thus, he pinched lightly (to her twitch), rolled gently (to her tremble), and brushed the pads of his fingers against them (to her shudder). He suddenly flinched and took his mouth from hers. A breeze had touched his lower body, thus telling him his own arousal must have had him wetting Suika’s palms and fingers. He wanted to suck at her before the approaching end, and she straightened her back suspecting his aim. He bowed his head, and lapped at her skin.

“Ah...hh...!” she gasped, whined, and he gasped as well to hear her, her voice sending a signal to his brain that compelled him to hear it again. She began to caress him, her motions almost milking, her relentless stroking close to taking his focus away from indulging in the oni. He quickly, almost with desperation, put his lips to her chest. He felt he couldn’t have enough of her taste. “Nng...! Ge... n...” She squeezed him with almost too much power, making him spasm... but that need in her only drove him to tease her body more, lustfully returning to her nipples again and again.

As Suika panted over his head, massaging him with enthusiasm now and edging him closer and closer, he kissed at her body wherever he liked, huffing her full aroma as well. Until then he’d had his hands along her ribs, now he took his dominant one and entered her skirt.

“Mm...!” his partner moaned and flinched, her mouth widening as her breath became far heavier. He felt her stomach arch reflexively into his arm and endured the tender feeling of her abs to reach farther. He hadn’t even entered her bloomers, and he could tell the garment was becoming significantly more damp than it had been as he reached it.

“Su... Sui.. ka...” he said her name when she bore into him, her still-open mouth telling him of her own desire to taste his body. He pressed and held something hard, hot, and miniscule within her underthings, and with that she began twitching with her thighs closing on his wrist, repeating his name breathlessly, falteringly. Her... Her... cli...? “Ah...! Hah...! Nn...!”

At the same time he found her most sensitive part, he convulsed involuntarily, euphoria whiting out his mind. Only after a full minute had passed did his flinching die down, and as it did he realized that they had reached the end together through seeing the dancing light of the campfire shining off of her hands below him.

H... Holy crap... he thought, that was amazing.

Suika seemed to be regaining her reason as well, and was now touching her own hands to feel what he had left on them. He almost felt like apologizing. She leaned back from his body and, now very slouched, he saw her taking note of his semen caking her forearms.

“Wow... izzat normal?” she asked.

He answered, “No,” in embarrassment.

Sadly, seeing her lifting her wrist to sniff at his ejaculate made him stand at the ready again. Suika noticed, and smirked with an open smile.

“Ahahaha... honesty!” she chirped. Then in stark contrast, she stated, “I should clean you up...” whilst wearing an expression that told him she did not have a handkerchief.

As Suika opened her mouth while nearing his fellow man, he thought about returning the favor. This was not going to be a night for sleeping... he could only hope he might find some rest before the Sun broke across those distant hills before them. Until then, he was determined to please her.

--End of Chapter 13: A Small Journey--


++++++++

image sources (both NSFW):
http://img.moeimg.net/wp-content/uploads/archives7/7975/43_7afcuvnydp.jpg
https://www.pixiv.net/member_illust.php?mode=medium&illust_id=17199438

Boy, that escalated quickly. I mean that really got out of hand fast.

To be clear, the plan for their relationship that I originally had in mind was that he would fall for her, but she wouldn't be interested in him at all. I actually expected you guys to choose one of the other two options for their game of tag, and thus result in a loss, but you picked the one that impressed her the most. After that, having her end up reading Keine's histories pretty much sealed the deal. Even with Suika's affection points for Gen as high as they were from his display during their first game, I was going to hold off on intimacy until a bit later. Reading how he became interested in her was the last push.

One more update coming up fast.
>> No. 67102
File 154146910049.jpg - (215.23KB, 530x420, out like a light.jpg) [iqdb]
67102
He awoke at some time in the morning to the feeling of being watched, but when he opened his eyes... nothing present told him that had been anything more than imagination.

He was atop one blanket and under another. He was shirtless, as was the girl he was holding. Drooling against his chest and hugging him right back was Ibuki Suika, entirely asleep and slightly hurting his ribs with the press of one of her horns. He felt almost as if sleep had made him feel worse, or rather that he was drained. A part of him, at least, had absolutely been worked tirelessly while the moon was still out. Suika had also enjoyed a lot of his attention in their two-sided affair, and he could testify: he has more than happy to give it.

Although he had not technically slept with his oni lover in the biblical sense this past night, this past night had been extremely perverse. Now in the morning after a few thoughts were going through his mind, though he would always return to the desire to squeeze the oni’s butt. He would bat the thought away and after considering the tasks to-do, the events of the yesterday, the small, cute buttocks of his lover—and, ah: there it was.

He had learned before they finally decided to rest that Ibuki Suika’s posterior truly was Grade S, and her reactions to a little honk of one of her cheeks were S+. Essentially, he had played Eve in the Garden of Eden last night, Suika the Snake, and her bottom... right. She hadn’t offered it however.

He looked up through the forest canopy to the slips of blue sky above. There weren’t many sounds of birds, so he imagined it wasn’t early morning.

He looked at Suika’s comically relaxed sleeping face.

“...”


[] Squeeze Ibuki Suika’s butt.

[] That’s dangerous!
>> No. 67104
>He awoke at some time in the morning to the feeling of being watched, but when he opened his eyes...

Anti scrying magic should be a priority if he wants to have privacy ever again.

[x] Dangerous!

Let sleeping Oni lie.
>> No. 67105
[x] Squeeze Ibuki Suika’s butt.

swiggity swooty i'm coming for that booty
>> No. 67106
[X] Dangerous!
>> No. 67107
[x] Dangerous! Let's totally DO that!
(counts as [x] Squeeze Ibuki Suika’s butt.)
>> No. 67120
[x] Squeeze Ibuki Suika’s butt.
>> No. 67121
[X] Squeeze Ibuki Suika’s butt.

Sometimes authors merely give the illusion of choice to conceal their own guilt in writing an option.
>> No. 67143
File 15419342748.gif - (3.96MB, 600x510, aaaaand squeeze.gif) [iqdb]
67143
>.gif

A pair of idiots in the morning.

++++++++

[X] Squeeze Ibuki Suika’s butt.

[ ♫: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pc4zZ43R9o0 ]
[賢者の極北 (Nhato Remix) - Sedecim (ShibayanRecords)]

Gen reached down to where her butt should be, still watching her face, though now wearing a blank pout as he did so. His hand found the cloth of her bloomers, and he rested his palm above one of the two mounds he could feel there. He closed his eyes as he recalled the night before. It’s cute and round, was his evaluation, and he looked satisfied.

He then brought the lid up from his left eye so that he could see her reaction. Without warning, he gave the oni’s bottom a quick and handful squeeze.

“Hyah!?” she jolted awake with a shiver throughout her body, eyes opening in cracks. She looked to the left and right repeatedly, rapidly, her horns swishing with sound in the air.

“G’morning, Suika,” he greeted her cheerfully, now squeezing her absently and enjoying the repelling, tight, yet soft feeling. If he wasn’t so fond of life, he might have been tempted to throw in a pinch as well.

He could only accept a punch in the side.

“Gwf—!!” When she struck him from under their covers he spat out the contents of his lungs from behind closed lips and pulled his hand to the afflicted, aching area of his abdomen. Despite radiating with pain, despite knowing he’d likely feel this for a day or a few after, he had no regrets.

“D-Don’t grab that!!” shouted Suika (who was now on her knees and blushing) and when she saw that he was laughing through the hurt, she put him in a headlock against her chest. “Oi! Quitcher laughin’!” she warned. He laughed all the more as the damage from her jab became a bit more manageable. He brought his hand up to the left cage of her ribs and placed it there.

“Sorry, sorry!” he apologized without meaning, feeling elated that he was close to her.

“Tch! This human...!” she hissed, letting his neck go and taking his face in her hands. Through tear-bleared eyes, the grinning human saw that his lover was pouting at him angrily, still red-faced. Then, she brought him close. She kissed his forehead, spurring a light peal of laughter in him again. While embarrassedly avoided his eyes, she next told the boy, “Good morning, Gen...”

“Ahh! Suika! You’re too cute!” he exclaimed, pushing his face into her chest as he brought her into a caring hug, his eyes closed, his mood at peak.

“Ah, ahh! C’mon, you’re too clingy!” she said, pushing down on his hair, and from the little waver in her voice he knew she was holding back a tugging at the corner of her mouth. He squeezed her harder.

“Mmm~!” he moaned happily.

“Y-You’re like a puppy...” she grumbled, but after letting him hold her for a good while, she ultimately she chose to hug him back around his head and “Mmm!” as well. He pulled away from her once her embrace relaxed, sitting up himself now and delivering to her a most alive expression.

“Was I a good pillow?” he asked. Now prompted, Suika evaluated his body, the sensation tingling him as she pressed and gently pinched at his torso. After a bit, she nodded.

“Yeah!” she shouted, wearing a serious face complete with furrowed brow and now matching his gusto. Her staring increased as she looked over his faint abdominal muscles, putting the thumb of a closed hand before her lips, carrying her elbow in another. He returned her look with a curious one, one eyebrow twitching upward. “You could use more muscle,” she told him, and with that it was as if a pit opened beneath his heart. His posture sank.

“Ah... I see...” he muttered, his eyes now faraway.

“For your health,” she told him simply, her visage now at ease. She brought her nose near to his, her countenance turning to serenity as she closed her eyes. “You’ve gotta live long, my boy,” she told him, her voice lilting with the words. They kissed once, and after withdrawing snickered involuntarily at one another.

“Alright, enough of all this, we’ve got a day out ahead of us,” said Gen, taking his legs from their thin “bed” and standing up to stretch. He looked out at the view Suika had shown him the night before as he pulled at his arms, and felt exhilarated at the same sight bathed now in a new day’s sun.

“We should bathe,” said Suika from behind. “Let’s go to a stream. I know one the kappa aren’t messing with nowadays.”

Together...? he wondered, looking at Suika’s topless and pale body, eyes lingering too long on her exposed breasts. He blushed, turning his gaze to the woods. I don’t know about that...

If he went with her, there was a good chance of them repeating intimacy, of that he had no doubt. Especially if her saw her lower body exposed. His experience with that had been vivid, intoxicating. After his first taste of her, he was quite sure the only term appropriate for the way he felt about pleasuring Ibuki Suika was “desperate addiction”. Even without any fantasizing, his body’s response to the facts of memory now was rather apparently Pavlovian. Careful, he made sure to only show Suika his back.

“Go get what you need for that,” he told her from over his shoulder, “I’ll concoct some soaps and such.” He got down onto his knees and went to one of his thinking poses, knuckles pressed to his mouth. He didn’t have any materials. He started mumbling ideas to himself: what seals he could draw perhaps with blood instead of ink, the procedures for summoning, whether there were oils and the like in present environment he could use in ritual or craft. As he entered deep thought, Suika looked over at him, scratching her head. She didn’t have much of anything to get; to bathe, she tended to draw any impurities from her body with her power and use soaps and oils made by oni to refresh herself for good measure. She still had quite the supply, miniaturized, but since her gentleman seemed now set on survivalism, she decided she would only show him what she had once he was done. It would be interesting to see, she thought.

And to speak of what might be interesting to see...

The oni pounced onto his back, craning her neck beside his face and looking down. The act had her right horn strike against the back of his head, gaining his notice with a start and a yelp.

“You hid your boner?” she asked bluntly, grinning, teasing.

Gen, with a reflexive tear in his eye, looked at the oni in befuddlement and some reactive irritation.

“Is it gone now?” she asked, looking closely.

“... I’m somewhat trying to get it so, yes,” he explained, which was indeed the case. His mind was almost off her body until it came back with such proximity.

“Should I help you out?” she asked impishly, and he spotted her tongue out her lips.

No,” was his flat reply as he glowered at the mischievous youkai. He was particularly bothered since her offer had gotten his second mind’s full attention.

“Looks like I should...” she whispered with a severe tone, scrutinizing his crotch. He pushed at her forehead, shoving her slowly off of him.

“I’m not descending into debauchery with you—there are still plenty of things to do today,” he spoke sternly, straining against her.

“Aww, come on! Just once!” she whined.

“Once?” he repeated.

“Yeah! Stop right after that!” she “swore”.

“Like you would,” he growled. He slouched a bit further and added, “And you call me clingy.”

“‘Clingy’...” she echoed him, and her body dispersed, the smoke of her new form curling over his fingers. He watched as a hand formed where her forehead had been, interlocking with his fingers. Tugging his hand out a bit ahead of himself, Suika manifested in front of him drifting slow through the air, still only in her white underthings and her chains. Her face was near to the back of his hand, and she kissed it like some sort of Prince, drawing his heart nearer to hers in dedication despite how his brow seemed to be displaying trepidation. She floated down into his body, her skin sticking to his, and she hugged him dearly. Gen allowed this. Now, with a flushed face aimed at indistinct trees, his hands resting near the bottom he’d touched earlier, he continued to think on the current predicament of soap.

++++++++

>>67121
Heh, uh, ha hahm...

ehh...

image sources:
https://danbooru.donmai.us/posts/1973138
https://danbooru.donmai.us/posts/1064153
>> No. 67154
File 154203309535.png - (23.92KB, 400x400, mysterious beams of light.png) [iqdb]
67154
Yes, that image is actually NSFW//NOT SAFE FOR WORK, though as usual there's nothing explicit.

The update itself is mostly tame, though!

++++++++

[ ♫: http://listenonrepeat.com/watch/?v=Ly2vN9mbGUI ]
[神々が恋した幻想郷 - Festival (NEUTRAL)]

Plant oils, a summon circle written in a bit of his blood on the earth (Suika having pricked his finger for him), fire, and some temporal magics a little beyond the ordinary scope of his ability: this is what it took him to create, and carry, a substance for cleaning one’s body. At the end he had made a clay plate, atop of which was a small and solid bar of white soap.

He huffed with satisfaction.

At his side, Suika (still only in bloomers and metal bangles) whistled that she was impressed. She smirked, nodded, and spoke to him while meeting his eyes, “G’job,” she praised, and he felt a little giddy. She continued, “so do you wanna use yours or mine?”

He processed what this question meant quickly, jolting at the knowledge. “You have soap!?” he asked.

“Yeah, lots,” she said, opening her hand to him upon which sat a pile of off-white beads from the look of it. A closer look proved each was rectangular... and he surmised that these were bars of soap, made small with her power. “I’ve also got stuff for cleaning your teeth,” she informed him.

He looked down at what he had produced, grimacing. He had a feeling that his less than an hour’s work was probably not as good at getting the job done than whatever made Ibuki Suika smell so good.

He put his hand over his face, bending his neck back. That was such a waste of tiiiiime... he thought in anguish. He was a little miserable now.

“Now you know how to do it!” the oni was supportive. “Come on! Let’s go wash up!”

Indeed. To bathe together. He stood up next to her and looked down to the oni with a rather dour face. His feelings on the subject were very halfly mixed.

After turning to follow her on her way to the supposed stream, he picked up his shirt and threw on the sleeves and shoulders at least to have some semblance of decency and lack of vulnerability so near to Youkai Mountain (his feet were utterly exposed, but he found he didn’t actually mind that). He remained close to her while his thoughts drifted away. He could imagine washing together with Suika, having her tempt him to take his hands to her body, and then many things after that. Frankly: he was anticipating such an outcome most eagerly. At the same time, he felt like opening that Pandora’s Box would result in the death of several hours, the only hope being whether the oni spared him at least for the night.

He smiled to himself.

It wasn’t exactly a terrible problem to have: someone who was just as hungry and adoring as he was, just more open and demanding about it. It just wasn’t conducive to a plan for the day. Maybe... some other time. Spending an entire day in Suika’s arms...

He exhaled sharply through his nose. He could imagine that scenario very easily, and that jostled his reason. He hoped she wasn’t paying him any particular attention. It was his luck that she wasn’t, or she may have seized the opportunity to seduce him without hesitation.

Eventually they did make it to the stream she’d mentioned: a very clean, sparkling thing with a somewhat weak waterfall which seemed to hardly be two heads over his own. The water had quite a few rounded pebbles in it and a handful of large boulders. The shore was glistening and largely untouched... he wondered if it was the shallowness of the water here that had made the kappa write the area off.

While he looked over the idyllic scene, nearing significant depths of thought, Suika got out of her bloomers and tossed them into the air, letting them fall a foot or two away from him, to his left. It, and her new freedom, did not escape his notice. He blushed behind a hand and turned his head from her—but still maintained his gaze. Then, she turned to him and stood with confidence in her posture. This was despite her also looking rather embarrassed, the smile on her lips quite warped in shape. It was almost to his surprise at this point, but apparently without a mood going even this oni could be ashamed.

It was otherwise just as he’d predicted, however. His heart was beating loudly enough that he imagined she could likely see it pounding below his chest. He closed his eyes, and hoped she wouldn’t ask anything of him.

“U-Uuhhh... I-I’ll go first,” she said after a moment. It may have been a relief to him were his blood not already rushing hotly in excitement.

“Alright,” he said, his mouth still hidden behind his hand. He intended to turn away, but in spite of himself watched her enter the water instead.

It seemed they’d quietly come to the understanding that this was perhaps not the best location for indecency. What was getting them like this? Was it just the excitement from their both being so new to one another? After all it was to the point that they’d have likely agreed on this truth: had one of them even extended an awkward invitation or request, the other would not have hesitated to accept or grant their wishes.

Looking at Suika float soap over her hand, her butt out toward him as she quite obviously tried to avoid consciously acknowledging his curiosity, he felt that was not the case. It wasn’t novelty; he genuinely, wholly, found Suika attractive. It wasn’t only how physically compelling she was, either. Her mannerisms and attitude felt like they were always pulling him in even now, be it for conversation, cozying, or a licentious act beginning with the syllable “cunn”.

As here—

While lathering her sides and arms, she met his eyes by accident, and hers, though nervous, became unwavering. She wore a small frown and put one hand underneath her arm. She then leaned her back against one of the small river’s boulders, arching her stomach forward as she began to near the lower part of it with her left hand. She did not seem to want to stop her hand there, however.

Knowing what she had in mind, his eyes went wide, he pivoted on his heel, and he took quick steps to stand with his back against a tree, no longer facing her. His palm was over his face again.

A girl like that is anathema to any idea of dedicated research, plans, or projects, he thought, I’m feeling for her too much.

He attempted to calm himself down for the next several minutes, but to no avail. How do I even still have stamina...!? he wondered to himself, recalling how quickly sessions tended to put him out of commission on other days. He sighed, and waited.

In enough time, he heard, “Done, Gen,” and turned to where she was.

Suika was seated on a boulder on the shore, apparently drying in the Sun, sitting rather unladylike and still very much doused in water of course. He walked past her, taking off his shirt and stopping his hands at his belt frowning.

“... You sure you don’t want help with that?” she asked, and a secret glance told him he was right in imagining where she was looking.

“... I’m sure,” he said, still not pulling down his trousers, “besides, you just bathed.”

“I could aim you at the water or something,” she suggested, her cheek now on the heel of her palm.

“N-No,” he insisted, though the twitching of his lips betrayed his thankfulness to the offer. If he couldn’t demonstrate self-restraint with her, he feared his life was going to become very difficult.

... Still, he really did want to turn to her and undress in front of her eyes, knowing exactly what she would do if he did.

Gen pulled down his trousers and pants as he moved, and hopped on one foot toward the water while still removing them. He let them fall on the shore and splashed down to sit on the river’s bed, turning toward Suika and scooting back until he was under the waterfall. It was entirely cold, though mostly refreshingly so given the summer’s usual temperature. It wouldn’t eliminate his arousal with guarantee, but it would probably help.

“You forgot your soap, Gen. Gross~.”

Having closed his eyes as if he was meditating, Gen now opened them and near fell off his bottom from the presence of Suika before him. He flailed a little to regain his balance, and put a hand over his chest. Suika was standing up and holding two bars, as well as bending toward him and looking at the things in her hands. “Mine or yours?” she asked.

“... Mine,” he said, his arm up as if he was defending against an imminent pouncing. He brought it down so that she could put the soap in his palm. Instead, she tossed her bar to the shore, wet her hands, and began making suds with his. He brought the arm up again. “Wh-What are you doing!?” he demanded to know.

“Relax, I’m finished teasing, finished,” she told him honestly, looking not at his face but his body. “I didn’t get to crawl all over you like you did with me last night, so just think of it as ‘fair is fair’! Besides, I punched you earlier so I’ve gotta see the damage.”

Gen remained silent and she brought her hands to him. He put on a worried face, but offered no denials as she scrubbed him with her hands. She didn’t seem to have any alternative motives, and his manhood finally decided to stand down. Now, he almost felt bad knowing if he tried to do the same to her, he would undoubtedly be unable to control himself before pushing his face between her legs.

... That thought called his young Sir to attention once more.

“Settle down, cowboy, that’s not what I’m here for,” the oni chastised with a smile, pushing down on him with a bubble-filled hand. When she was done with his stomach she said, “Stand up.”

He did, folding his now-cleaned arms and trying not to be embarrassed as she floated up to his back. He took her hand from behind to get some of his soap for himself in order to finish up his lower body. She meanwhile loosened up his neck, took care with his (still sore) injury, and eventually returned to his front side to lather his cheeks in her hands, chuckling blissfully while she enjoyed his face.

... Maybe it was too early to believe this, maybe it was inexperience and immaturity’s cause, but he thought then to tell her, “I love you”, the words shining out of his heart and flowing to the tip of his tongue. Instead, when he was done being cleaned by her, he put his hand behind her head and brought the happy oni into another kiss. Then another. He pulled away from her, and offered a smile of thanks.

They brushed their teeth together afterward, pretending to not be worried over the taste of their mouths in the morning, though believing, at least, that the other was perfectly fine. After they gargled and spat mouthwash side by side, Gen thought on what he planned to do first. Suika had told him earlier in the morning that she had her own business to get to, so he’d mostly be going this day alone. With that in consideration he...


[] decided since Aomu was close by, he would go to see her about the volcano.

[] believed the first order of business would be going back to the village to get that suitcase.

[] thought he should head back to the Lake,
---- [] to see Wakasagihime.
---- [] and return to the Mansion.
>> No. 67155
[X] believed the first order of business would be going back to the village to get that suitcase.

Reporting back to the mansion sounds good too, but kind of a waste with so little to report
>> No. 67161
[X] believed the first order of business would be going back to the village to get that suitcase.

All seem good.
>> No. 67162
[x] believed the first order of business would be going back to the village to get that suitcase.
>> No. 67171
[X] believed the first order of business would be going back to the village to get that suitcase.

Cute~
>> No. 67203
File 154239185656.jpg - (558.46KB, 1400x823, It's Keine!.jpg) [iqdb]
67203
image sources:
https://danbooru.donmai.us/posts/1058821
https://danbooru.donmai.us/posts/1163675

++++++++

[X] believed the first order of business would be going back to the village to get that suitcase. The pair, soon finished with their ablutions, thus returned to where they’d slept and dressed as fully as each was capable. They parted for their separate business after a peck between lips, and Gen watched as Suika took to the sky from their campsite

Panic set in upon his turning, however, and his expression shifted.

The young apprentice realized that without any of his things, performing magic could be difficult. His books, too, were in his Master’s suitcase, and so his ready-made circles as well. Complex magic was now out of the question, and powerful magic would be less refined. Casting from his own spirit was much more viable than it had been even half a year before (and it was growing viable then, really), but it was foolish to control one’s own life essence when the elements abounded.

He pivoted about and watched his woman’s receding figure, rather torn within. Pride wanted him to keep mum about this, smugly set off, and take care of everything along the way in search of moments for which he could later unhumbly boast.

Every other word and experience told him what a magician should do.

And so, his pride bowed out.

“Suika!” he yelled, and she stopped immediately. She changed direction, pointed her foot to the ground before him, and fell like a meteor back down to the earth. Through the resultant whirlwind of dust, he stood normally and addressed the now-crouching oni. “Please keep with me to the village entrance at least,” he asked. “I can still perform magic, but without my things I’m just a duck that’s come bearing green onions.”

“You do look delicious,” she said with a smirk. He frowned.

“Cut it out.”

“I’ll admit to ya I like the sound of protecting my man, I do, but not as much as my man protecting himself,” she explained, and she took her first swig of alcohol for the day. “Nm... ng... Hahh... Is it ‘cause you’re scared, Gen? ‘Cause, on principal, I’m gonna have to turn down a weak heart. Tell me the truth.”

“The truth is I didn’t want to call to you,” he was honest, slouching a bit. “It’s more exciting: the prospect of testing my limits with only my spirit, the environment, and ingenuity. I’m fairly sure I could do it,” he spoke without any hesitation, raising his hand as though there were power inside it. This pleased the oni.

“Oohh!” she moaned, her excitement clear.

“But on the chance that I could die,” he said, “it isn’t worth my bragging rights.”

“Hmmm...” she considered this while kissing the mouth of her gourd. She did not consider long, shortly pulling the tool back, standing up, and telling him, “‘Lright, I’ll scare off any weaklings looking for an easy kill off a’ ya while yer down.” This pleased the human, whose cheeks rose with his ensuing smile.

He put his hands together in obeisance, bowing his head and saying, “Yes! Please make me feel safe again, Miss Suika!”

“‘Again’...? And when was the first time?” she asked while looking haughty, her arms crossed as she leaned away in her posture.

He opened his eyes a bit wide and his entire body paused. He hadn’t told her that. Eventually his motor functionality returned and he stood up straight. He turned to make his way out, stared off sideways to nowhere, and answered: “I-I wonder...?”

“I make my human feel safe! How often do you feel like it’s dangerous!? Huh!? Hey, Gen!”

She pursued at his back, floating behind him and poking his one cheek, tugging both, fiddling with his ears playfully. Even though he’d gotten to know her so intimately already (at least physically), it seemed she could still have him ashamed. As he walked past the Lake she clung to his shoulders—rubbing at his face, and kissing it plenty.

And though he was silent and tight-lipped the entire way it was mainly out of practicality. Hugging her back, squeezing her close, adoring her at all would only leave his back open.

And ever since the morning, the feeling of eyes on him had not passed.

~~

[ ♫: http://listenonrepeat.com/watch/?v=lGQHhx_-v6s ]
[秋姉妹のなく頃に - 秋満開の風に舞う (ばんばんしー)]

“See ya later,” she said as they neared the gate. She turned to his front, and they finally shared a strong embrace, her human holding her up and enjoying that such it was clear he had little intention to let her go. Nonetheless, they wordlessly agreed on a time to detach. When they did, Suika lifted into the air behind him, then lifted her fist toward him. He presented his as well.

At once they declared, “First is rock! Paper, scissors, go!” And promptly drew with scissors.

“Beh~! Another tie!” she stuck out her tongue and put the pair of her fingers next to her face, such that her winking eye was between the two of them. He mirrored her, (sans tongue), and when he did she dove her arms around his shoulders to hold him again. With his hands on her back, he laughed and spun her in a circle, pivoting on his heel with his other leg in the air. Her chains flowed wonderfully with their turning.

He stopped with a foot down, and looked up at her as she looked down at him, matching his content and pushing off of his chest. She then suddenly hugged him around his head powerfully, though for just a few seconds before releasing him. This left her arm beside his face and her hand atop his head. She touched her nose to his and told him in secrecy, “I keep wanting to kiss you...”, looking girlishly delighted as she admitted it.

Wh-Whoa, my heart...! He thought, wincing. She did not kiss him, finally pushing off her partner and throwing one instead (with a wink and one shoulder up) as she took off. He caught it on its way, swiping her affection from the air.

“Really, see you later!” Suika called, waving enthusiastically. He had to face it. He was definitely already in love with her.

“Phew...” he sighed, turning back to the village gates. Hopefully it was lunch time around now... He didn’t want to interrupt any of Miss Kamishirasawa’s classes. He made his way to the entrance, bid the guardsman good day, and was soon in the village, now vaguely aware that whoever was watching him was doing so from the sky, given nothing had followed through the gate.

Nobody will attack me at or around the Human Village... he wagered, stepping ahead without any regard for his pursuer, ... It’s a tengu, I think. Aya?

She’d tracked him not long ago when curious over his ties with Suika, after all. If she was still following him... she must have confirmed it. Perhaps she was afraid of Suika and so hadn’t yet made contact with him directly. Miss Kamishirasawa had said that Suika’s presence as an oni was worrying the residents of the Mountain, which would mean tengu. As Gen continued to walk, he theorized, and told himself to prepare for the worst whenever it was he next left the village.

Soon enough he was before the now bright and unintimidating temple school where Miss Kamishirasawa worked. He knocked on the door to no answer. Opening it, he saw no shoes in the entranceway either. Depositing his, he stepped up into and walked through the naturally lit hallway to rap his knuckles on the door of the classroom.

He heard a strange but human sound muffled behind it, and then, “Yes? What is it?“

“Miss Kamishirasawa, it’s the fool from last night,” he said, sliding the door out of his way. “Gen,” he clarified. “Good morning.”

“It’s the afternoon,” said Keine, who looked obviously different now. Her horns were no longer present and her scheme of colors had shifted to blue (white hair streaked with a periwinkle hue, and a navy dress of the same design otherwise, furthermore there was...). His eyes fell on her... her... “hat”(?).

There was... a kind of lunch box on her head, apparently, complete with a standing red ribbon tied to its top. It was an extravagant, two-staged box as well. He... wasn’t sure what to say about it.

She turned her eyes (hazel, he was a little surprised to see) from the more conventional lunch box on her desk to him, ignoring where his gaze was directed. “Your suitcase is here,” she said, reaching under her desk and pulling it onto the top with a clack. “Take it. It’s dangerous to have around children.”

“I deeply apologize,” he responded in as polite Japanese as he could manage, bowing sincerely and contorting his brow and lips in guilt.

“Don’t. I disoriented you two,” said Keine, getting back to her meal. She gave him a pointed look as he approached, however. She swallowed and told him, “If you feel like you’ve got to apologize for something, apologize for doing what you did. In a school building, no less! As if you have no common sense or decency.”

“I am very sorry,” he said quickly, still bowing.

“I understood why you did it,” she revealed, which did not surprise him given the knowledge she possessed under the full moon, “but I wish you had waited until the work you offered was done. Don’t let that oni bully you around.”

I kind of like her bullying... he admitted to himself, a slight smile on his lips. Keine saw it as he straightened his back, and she glowered. He reached for the hand of the suitcase, trying to ignore her judging.

“I won’t say that you shouldn’t lay with a youkai,” the teacher said without any concern to her tone, making him spit air, “but I will say that history shows your road will have a sorrowful destination if you do not... adapt, alright?”

He grabbed the suitcase, pulling it toward him. “Thanks for the advice,” he told her, and meant that. “My final apology is for interrupting your lunch. Thank you for taking care of my forgotten things. You’re a very good person, Miss Kamishirasawa.”

“I am,” said the half-youkai without pride or shame, still taking up her rice, chicken, and vegetables. He nodded once, clipped the case to his belt, and turned away to leave. Thinking this was all, he was surprised that she interrupted him with a “Wait.”

He gave her his attention

“A favor returned for a favor...” she began, “... completes last night. This has been another favor.” With that said, she looked into his eyes. “Will you compensate me?”

“You want me to do something?”

“Over time I’ve learned that you’re used to doing errands,” said the woman simply. He frowned, as he was always prompt to do at the soonest hint of dissatisfaction.

“For my Master,” he clarified.

“Do me a favor,” she came right out with her wish, and the magician’s apprentice took a pose of consideration (one hand on his hip, and the other beneath his chin).

He wasn’t sure about doing anything unplanned this day, not with a tengu after him, and his Master had already beat into him the value of preparing before any sort of task you could seek to endeavor. So... how to answer?


[] Refuse, unless the task is to hold on to one of her things overnight.

[] “Is it urgent?” (seek to postpone)

[] “... Alright; what favor?”
>> No. 67204
[x] “... Alright; what favor?”
>> No. 67205
[X] “... Alright; what favor?”

His caution is well deserved but... His brave spirit is what enthralled so many souls around him
>> No. 67206
[X] “... Alright; what favor?”
>> No. 67207
[X] “... Alright; what favor?”
>> No. 67208
[x] “... Alright; what favor?”

We kinda do owe her for not running us out of the village.
>> No. 67214
[x] “... Alright; what favor?”
>> No. 67231
>>67203

[X] “... Alright; what favor?”

We really do her. Not only were we getting physical in the school house, remember that our meeting with Suika warranted being written down. As such, most likely our evening activities warranted the same, so odds are Keine was writing about it as it was occurring. So we really do owe her.
>> No. 67233
[X] “... Alright; what favor?”

Favors for favors. As a stranger in a strange land, we shoukd help out and gain allies.
>> No. 67290
File 154311960530.png - (253.70KB, 530x718, youkai.png) [iqdb]
67290
Unanimously maintaining Gen’s “good boy” status, eh?

++++++++

[X] “... Alright; what favor?”

“Go check up on Mokou. See if she’s alright.”

Gen straightened his back a little upon hearing this request. He raised one finger quizzically, cocked an eyebrow, and asked, “... That’s it?”

Keine snorted with humor. “‘That’s it’, he says... The same man who, on his night return from the Bamboo Forest, confided in his fellow residents of Scarlet Devil Mansion that he was still, if not more, afraid of the place?”

He folded his arms, looking like he had eaten something sour. “... Fair,” he soon confessed. “So you’re too busy to check on her yourself? The kids will return after lunch time?”

“So they will. I’m worried about that girl,” said Keine. Gen didn’t really understand the concern.

“Mokou is immortal,” he told her, “what has you worried?”

“She’s not invulnerable. She doesn’t care for her own well-being and suffers because of it. And yesterday—!” The teacher stopped with her fist on her desk, meeting her passionate eyes with the boy’s puzzled ones. She breathed out and settled down, looking again to her near-finished meal. In a voice that told him she was forcing calm, Miss Kamishirasawa told him, “I should warn you.”

He cocked his head a bit to the side. He was listening.

“Without revealing the whole truth, for knowing it will assuredly put your life at risk, Mokou got into a particularly dangerous fight with somebody last night. It seems that she lost, and I need you to see if she’s recovered fine and is eating properly. Don’t let her starve. Also, please make sure she’s bathed, and that she’s slept on her bed too. Check that her house is tidy, and make sure she has clothes to wear. Do her laundry if she hasn’t, and make sure she’s washed her plates, cups, and utensils. Check her roof and walls for any holes... What else?”

Jeez, Gen thought to himself, a mild grimace on his face, Mokou, sis... you’re probably gonna be happy it’s me who checks up on you today, hm?

He cleared his throat, fist before his mouth. “Yes,” he told her reassuringly, “I am fairly used to looking after immortals.”

The half-youkai blinked, and then considered his words with the nail of her thumb to her lips. “Ah, yes, the Mansion’s Magician,” she finally said. “Right... well, Mokou’s immortality is a bit different.” A bitter smile came across her face as she said this. Gen didn’t know what to think of that: the only kinds of immortality he knew of were from the abandonment of worms, certain hermit arts, becoming a Celestial, or becoming otherwise divine—such as achieving godhood. As Miss Kamishirasawa was not being forthright about the specifics of Mokou’s brand, he decided not to prod—especially not Keine. He already knew of its uniqueness through keeping the ancient Fujiwara noble “human”, but... It would probably be best if he presented such a question to said noble directly. That was, assuming she would even deign to answer it.

“I’ll keep that in mind,” he said politely. He then asked, “If you don’t mind, can you give me some sort of directions to her house?”

“No,” the teacher denied, shaking her head and making a peace sign, “for two reasons. First is that even if I could tell you them, I wouldn’t for fear of the words falling on the wrong ears—I can never be sure, and it isn’t an exaggeration to say that the ones with which Mokou bears a grudge have far wider reach for listening than I’d like. Second, I don’t ‘know’ where her home is.”

Ah, he thought, closing his mouth on a word of objection, right, the forest’s layout changes.

“How do you find it yourself, then?” he asked her. Keine answered promptly:

“That part of the forest remembers me, and parts of it seem clear to me when I look for Mokou’s house nowadays,” she explained. “It isn’t something I can teach, unfortunately. Like the bamboo harvesters and Mokou herself, the forest becomes more welcoming to you over time. For the white rabbit who has lived there since ancient times, the two know each other from the furthest stalk to the next, and from head to toe. For myself, I feel some comfort and ease when I enter the Forest of the Lost for Mokou.”

“Aha, I see, that’s it,” he said several confirmations, nodding as well and crossing his arms. “So you’re sending me to my perhaps-death, then, to see to a person who can’t die.”

“Don’t be dramatic,” said Keine, having none of his sass. She shooed him with her hand. “Get going,” she told him, “I don’t think I have much more time for chatting.”

“Yes, once more: sorry.”

“Don’t worry,” she insisted. “See you later, Sir Gen, in hopefully better context.”

“I hope so too. Bye, then!”

He was off.

~~

[ ♫: http://listenonrepeat.com/watch/?v=cpj6ZOX7ylo ]
[韋駄天パトリオッ - IsuCaの嘴 (さかばと)]

He checked his things.

He paged his books.

He stood before the Bamboo Forest of The Lost, feeling more equipped to deal with whatever it might have in store than his last time there.

Gen breathed out, his eyes to the ground, before stepping forward and into a crow tengu standing in his way.

“Wh-Whoa! Say when you’re gonna move, okay!?” said the youkai, hopping back on one foot.

Gen was utterly flustered, swatting a bit at his face and shaking his head, slouched. “Huh!? Wha!?” he managed to say with heat in his breath. Will this become a trend!?

What was that I hit anyway—breasts!? Is this youkai going to blackmail me for walking into her breasts!?


Indeed he had felt something rather soft over his nose and eyes before hearing the words of a female voice. Looking at her now, he saw that if he had ran into her chest... it was not a wonder he wasn’t sure. The tengu before him was no Wakasagihime or Onozuka Komachi, to put that fact bluntly.

This girl had wings thinner than those (from Shameimaru Aya) he was familiar with, and they were presently outstretched in her surprise. A gust turned about the two of them, telling him she had shown up before him only a second ago. He frowned on her face, a youthful-looking but rather embarrassed expression churning upon it. This girl looked younger than Aya... as if she were in her teenage years to relate her to a human. Her ears were pointed, her hair was dark and almost purple in color it seemed, and her eyes matched that. Her tokin was a shade of purple as well, and the same went for ribbon-ties in her hair that separated it into flowing, soft-looking twin tails of a decent, not overlong length. Her shirt was a bit professional looking for Gensokyo (meaning she had a black and rectangular tie as well as a frilled collar—violet again). The puff and short-sleeved thing was a faded pink in color, and her skirt (again, short) was made up of a large checkered pattern interchanging black and dark magenta—though those boxes were scuffed, almost, with speckled shadow. She wore the distinctive one-tooth geta of tengu, as well as a pair of near knee-high black socks. Like Aya she had modified the shoes, though in her case it was only to the straps, which were... once again... violet. The straps crossed the top of her feet twice before wrapping up her calves a few times as well.

“Like what you see!?” the girl asked excitedly. Gen was disgusted.

She reached for a small, leather, black-button pouch on her waist. “Wait, wait—!” she spoke, still full of unmasked energy. “I shou... A picture! I’ll get a picture!” She unclasped the pouch and extracted, to his genuine bewilderment, a flip phone. She aimed the checkered yellow thing at him, a brush for writing dangling off of it like a charm. A crimson heart sticker drew his attention to a lens, which she was directing at him. “H-Hold still!” she asked.

A camera phone...? he pondered as she stared at her phone’s screen, her rapture slowly being overtaken by confusion and devastation. Those are pretty new... I wouldn’t have figured one would have fallen into Gensokyo already.

“Wh-Why won’t it wooorrrk...?” she moaned, holding the item with both hands. He hadn’t actually touched such a phone before, but he knew his way around a computer at least...

The human approached the tengu, reaching for her phone. “Let me see,” he said. “... Eh? This is kappa tech,” he observed once it was in his hand.

The girl stared at it as he navigated the menu, which had a cucumber logo in its bottom-right at all times with a kanji right upon it, signifying the mark of a kappa invention, as well as a letter from the name of whichever kappa had created it. He buttoned over to a lens symbol, confirmed, and a view from the reverse side came to the screen. “Whoa, awesome!” he said without thinking.

“Right!? Right!? Those turtles are amazing!”

He took a picture of the road beneath them, eliciting the sound of a shutter. “The quality’s really good too...” he admired. “This is pretty much new stuff in the Outside World. I’m really impressed.”

“D-Did you take one!? A picture!?” the crow at his side asked him, bending beside him, her wings still far out. He turned the lens to her, and pressed confirm. “Augh!”

He caught her face with her eyes completely closed, her hair up as she was jostled in surprised, her mouth open and in an amorphous shape. He smirked, and navigated to the gallery to show her.

Her eyes glittered.

“Woooww!!”

Aw, he thought.

So, he showed her the basics of its use. “Here, you navigate with the arrows—you figured that much I guess. If you press this button in the center, that confirms. It’s also what you press when you want to take a picture. This right here... is the cancel, or back button, which takes you to previous menus, denies actions, and so on.”

“Awesome, human! I knew you were special!” she shouted.

He handed her back her phone. “I’m not really special for this,” he said. “That’s why you wanted my picture?”

She blushed awkwardly, smiling halfway but still possessing a look of determination in her eye. “I... I just wanted to try it out,” she admitted. Then she hopped back from him, folded her arms, stood on one foot, and smirked (still flushed in her face). “Hmph!” she breathed through her nose. “Listen here, human! I’ve decided to document you!”

“I decline,” he said.

“Hwah!? Y-You can’t decline!” she yelled, almost falling from her balance.

“Then I’ll just beat you into submission,” he said, flexing his hand. “That’s how it works in Gensokyo, no?”

“I-I’m against violence!” she cried, holding a hand up. This is sounding familiar, the boy thought, his lips turning up ever so slightly.

“Honestly, though, you haven’t even introduced yourself. Who the hell are you?” he asked bluntly. “I’m not keen on associating with tengu.”

“Please. I’m a professional! I won’t scare you like that thug Aya... don’t tell her I said that!” she was quick to cover, though she still stood with confidence. “My name, human, is Himekaido Hatate! Ha-ta-te, in hiragana! I want to become the best reporter! Gensokyo’s resident consummate reporter! That means really, really good, human!”

“I know what consummate means.”

“Good! I knew you were special!”

“Are you trying make me angry?”

“Fufu... no, no I’m not. Please don’t try to fight me, I’ll just run away. In a flash,” she spoke with her eyes closed.

“... Okay, what; you want to document me right? You run something like the Bunbunmaru?” he asked.

“Not yet, not at all!” she proudly declared. “I’m still learning!”

“Huh...”

“Please, please... Please let me accompany you on your journey today! I want to see what you’re up to!”

“You’re a tengu.. the way you lot do things is listening in, following, and all that without mentioning jack. Unless you’re Aya, then you just talk to people ‘honestly’ and lie about them later,” said Gen plainly. He followed with, “I’m not seeing why you’d want to follow me, and even with the coward act, I know tengu are some of the most powerful beings in Gensokyo. Generally speaking, I want to steer clear of those, especially with the reputation for aggression tengu have. Why would I willingly leave my back open to one?”

“...” Himekaido Hatate had listened to him with her eyes closed all the while, that smirk always on her face. She now looked at him and said, “Wow, uh, you’re totally right huh?”

“You won’t even argue?” he folded his arms now, scowling.

“Sorry, I really don’t know what to do and I don’t talk to people a lot, ha ha. It’s a joke: my life.”

“I know a kappa you should meet. You two would get along.”

“Ha ha, I dunno... ahem,” she coughed into her hand, “Um, I hope it’s not too much trouble, but I’d like to document your escapades if that’s alright with you?”

“Just backing up, huh.”

“I, uh, swear I won’t do anything bad to you!” when she said this, he opened his mouth to point out— “That ‘uh’ was just ‘cause I’m still learning, please don’t worry about it!”

Gen blinked, still with his arms crossed. Trusting a kappa he’d just met was one thing, but a tengu...?

For what it was worth, Tengu weren’t known for trickery. Though they had some reputation for being deceptive, it was from foxes and tanuki that that behavior was more likely to be expected. Say he believed her...

He was still curious as to why she’d want to document him, and he’d already rebuffed Aya days before because he did not want much of a reputation yet. Then again, it could be that this Hatate only wanted to be upfront about her intentions and articles, unlike Aya who seemed to want to record his life largely in secret, until she would publish details on it at some later date.

... Hm.

Could he perhaps use this tengu to interfere with the plans of another?

He looked at her, and decided


[] to accept her request.

[] to refuse her request.

[] to dominate her by trouncing her with magic first and foremost.

++++++++

image sources:
https://danbooru.donmai.us/posts/3210819
https://danbooru.donmai.us/posts/2626736
>> No. 67291
[x] to accept her request.

might as well be a nice boy
>> No. 67293
[x] to accept her request.
-[x] WITH SEVERE BULLY

Let's get rid of pent-up frustrations.
>> No. 67294
[x] to accept her request.
-[x] WITH SEVERE BULLY

Gen has finally found someone who's a bigger nerd than he is
>> No. 67295
[x] to accept her request.

NO BULLI
>> No. 67296
[x] to accept her request.
-[x] WITH SEVERE BULLY

There are some characters who can only be liked if they are BULLI'd.
>> No. 67298
[x] to accept her request.
>> No. 67304
[X] to refuse her request, for today

Mokou-nee appreciates her privacy
>> No. 67305
[x] to accept her request.
-[x] WITH SEVERE BULLY

Sure, why not?
>> No. 67307
[x] to accept her request.
-[x] WITH (not-so) SEVERE BULLY
Gen's a good boy, he's not gonna be THAT mean.
>> No. 67309
[x] to refuse her request.

Keine's request feels very personal, and it's important to respect Mokou's personal space. Bringing Hatate into that feels very intrusive.
>> No. 67310
[x] to refuse her request.

I agree with the other anon. With the way Keine told us her request, and how intensely fearful she was of Eientei(?) getting any info on Mokou, unfortunately I don't think we can let Hatate come with us.

That doesn't mean we could ask Hatate later I imagine.

I would hope we could politely decline her offer here, but maybe let her come with us on other escapades?
>> No. 67311
[x] to refuse her request.
>> No. 67312
[x] to refuse her request.
>> No. 67314
[x] to refuse her request.
>> No. 67323
[x] to refuse her request.

Mokou > Hatate
>> No. 67340
[x] to refuse her request.
>> No. 67341
File 154352548161.jpg - (288.81KB, 600x600, 1485722554266.jpg) [iqdb]
67341
Though I'm probably not gonna start writing for a while-ish, I'm going to call it. For what? Well. The tie.

It's a tie between refusal and acceptance--polar opposites. What I'm gonna do is just respect what seems to be the general wishes of muh readers and have Gen accept WITH CONDITIONS (and bulli). Indeed, although Mokou is a known figure, AFAIK her home is not a known place.

Well, we'll get around to it. Pretty amazed this tied the way it did
>> No. 67342
It is a pretty good story, yeah.
>> No. 67358
File 154375892257.jpg - (235.43KB, 1182x1511, HATATAA.jpg) [iqdb]
67358
Small minor "who even cares" retcon: I had Gen wearing gloves the night before this. He doesn't have gloves presently at all, actually, so that couldn't have happened. It's just one of the details I set up and misremembered/read incorrectly. Whoops!

++++++++


[x] to accept her request.

[x] Wait, no, to refuse.

[X] ... Well...


[ ♫: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GVXKfsX4YOk ]
[妖怪モダンコロニー - MAPLEAVES (xi-on)]

He smiled innocently.

“When you say you wish to document me, how much do you mean?” he asked the girl.

“Oh! Pretty much from now on! And—And, if I know anything about you from before we met, then too!” she explained, balling her fists and bending a bit toward him from where she stood, her face obvious with excitement.

He showed his hand. “Then, would you mind if we put it in writing?”

“Oh, like, of course!” she answered, putting one hand on her hip and making a tent of her other hand over her chest. She smirked. “I’m a professional, after all!”

“That you are,” he answered, opening his suitcase. He pulled out a large scroll and a bottle of ink. Opening up and calling for the bottles contents, he began to draw on the paper.

“That, uh... looks like a magic circle,” Hatate commented with some nervous laughter.

“That may be because it is,” he said, not looking up. He paused after speaking, however, to lift his head and explain, “I’m a magician, Miss Himekaido. Magical contracts are a part of our repertoire.”

“Hatate...” the Tengu corrected absently, studying his writing still from afar. “... Do magical contracts use circles too?”

“Many do,” he told her. It wasn’t false.

However, this was naturally not a contract.

Contracts established by Magicians were only used in summoning. Magic beyond the bounds of the rules of spellwork would be needed to perform other sorts of deals, covenants, pacts and the like that held supernatural ramifications for being broken, or gains for being brokered. Such works of the Art were the works of demons and specific youkai, but not any sort of Magician. Even Nikulásson, the one who bound a Christian demon to The Red Skin book and thus established a tome of readily available, superbly powerful magic, only himself contracted and enslaved Paimon; the greater benefits of the book could only be attributed to Paimon’s power.

But these were not things one would simply know, and judging the youkai before him to be quite ignorant of the world outside of tengu society, Gen was rather certain this trivial fact of Magicians’ limitations was not within her head.

He penned a circle of harmful magic, though he set down no materials in order to not be too obvious with his intent. It was the first spell of his morning and already later in the day—he could afford to cast from spirit.

“Now I will activate it with an incantation,” he said, the glyph now complete and intricate before him. Its swirls, spots, and letters would inform the action of a spell of sunlight. There was no need for him to hold back his magic with a tengu of all beings. “Please stay just there so that the magic recognizes you as one of the participants when we come to signing.”

“Uh... A—Alright...” she muttered, and he almost stopped speaking his spell. Himekaido Hatate was, in spite of her apprehension, also obvious in her eagerly awaiting what magic he would perform. He almost asked if this would be her first witnessing of the Art, or at least the first performance she would see a human execute. What stopped him was knowing that an answer of “yes” would sway him to reconsider this move.

I’ll make things clear with this... and vent a bit about tengu through her here, he told himself.

With a final whisper in a dead language, the light of the sun that bathed the area grew over-vibrant, painfully so. Only for a fraction of a moment, however. After, it looked to solidify, and faster than it had become intense his magic became a semi-large dome of luminous white orbs over their heads, each orb a soccer-ball’s measure in width. Gen closed his bottle, and stood. Hatate’s eyebrow perked up, and she kept her mouth held open in a small, ovoid shape.

The tengu didn’t seem to fully comprehend that she had been caged, so while she looked everywhere around herself at the gapless half-sphere of his creation, Gen prepared another spell, withdrawing from his case a concoction of simple magical fuel, which he opened calmly while speaking to “fire”.

The air surrounding his right hand then set off in combustion, and a rolling blaze turned around it, looking as if it could barely be kept within his control. The human next put this inferno before him, moving his hand a foot front in front of his chest and looking at a very still, very wide-eyed bird between the flames.

“I feel like giving you a warning... Hatate,” he said to the youkai, who listened without budging, “that warning is to not be naive: don’t ever show your weakness to a human, because once they know it they will exploit it.

“Youkai may often be more powerful than humans, and some may also be far more intelligent, but this place is a reserve for a reason. We humans are resourceful. My resource is magic, and I should let you know: I am very proficient with it.”

Hatate’s head was bowed, and she now gripped the shirt before her stomach. Her eyes had gotten to be no less wide. She seemed to realize what her mistake had been in thinking any tengu could lord over any human. In spite of his tendency for sympathy, Gen’s tendency toward the thrill gained from being simply overpowering won out in his heart then, and he fought to suppress a smile. Right now, if the tengu before him attempted escape she would be met with heavy, obfuscating resistance. If she tried to attack him a light would fast seek to blind her. If she moved too quickly for that, his flames would take her wings.

A shudder of satisfaction waved through him as the involuntary smile made its way through to his lips in one of its haughtiest manifestations. Gen finished his words by saying, “I’ll torch you into nothing if you try anything, Hatate. If you don’t want to be put in this predicament again, and value your flesh to not have it skewered through and cooked, then consider my warning well going forward.”

Himekaido Hatate was not used to the outside world.

Slowly, still looking at the dirt beneath her, she made to stand on two of her geta instead of one, then lowered her knees to the dirt. She put her hands onto the road as well, the fingers pointed toward each other, and she lowered her head until her bangs brushed bits of earth away, her twin tails functioning as loose-bristle brooms. Itou Gen stood then before a tengu performing dogeza to him, and the sphere of arrogance inside of his heart split.

“I-I am very sorry, Sir Ge—eh-Itou, I meant you no harm at all, or... or any insult,” Hatate told him, her wings folding into her back. “I am aware that you are... are not from Gensokyo, and so do not have to follow its... i-its new rules, so please don’t exterminate me, as in death.”

He looked on, the fire over his hand curling lightly. Her back shook.

“A-And don’t make me... spill your blood with my hands either... if it comes to that.” She swallowed, and exhaled.

Gen bent to his scroll while she continued to talk, opening his suitcase again.

“In... the current political climate,” she explained, “it would reflect very poorly on my society if I harmed you, even if you are an outsider.”

He wrote a spiral on to sheet and “tied” it to the primary magical circle, taking from his suitcase a heavy, round stone. He closed the case, and put the stone upon the spiral.

“I deeply apologize. I sincerely apologize. Please reconsider your... your... your...... threats...”

He finished his alteration of the spell with a few runes etched around the stone, stood, spoke only a few words, and thus the luminous curtain above them transformed at once into a light, pleasant rain which fell for only a few seconds. He released the fire about his arm too.

... Now a bit damp, the tengu in front of him had curled into herself, and was presently quivering, quite terrified. “It was just rain,” he told her. “I turned the light into rain.”

“W-What...?” she muttered, her voice thoroughly broken. She threw her head up. “What!? You... You...! Did you... trick me!?”

“If you’re going to follow me,” said Gen, checking the contents of his suitcase for moisture (none!), “I want you to know that I’m not slave to your whims. I’m more than capable of taking down a tengu if they’re as unused to encounters as you... however—” he put a hand to his hip and looked from her eyes “... I didn’t expect such an earnest reaction, and I apologize if I scared you. Murder... even grievous harm is not something I want to partake in.”

Hatate was sat on her knees, her eyebrows clashing against one another, her mouth contorted with frustration. “I knew I shouldn’ta left...” she sniffed, and he looked to see a shimmer in her eyes, “I knew I shoulda just stayed in my room...”

Gen was put in a slight panic, watching a young (-looking, at least) girl struggle against tears he had caused. There was something joyful about putting a youkai beneath his foot with magic ordinarily, but there wasn’t any satisfaction without a sense of a fight or defiance as here. There was no glee to be derived from making another person genuinely fear death or consequence, especially not for simply, rather politely, making a request. All he’d done was bully someone... youkai or not... and that made him now rather darkly muddled.

“Y-Your room?” he asked eventually, lifting his hands a bit in front of himself, to grasp at nothing. “A shut-in? Y-You’re a shut-in!?”

“I left, didn’t I...!? I’m... just as good!” she insisted, water now at the edge of her eyelids.

He hesitated, conflicted as to whether he should approach the girl or not. To do so would be to mark down another moment worthy of his Master calling him a fool again. Demonstrating sympathy to a powerful monster... was not a good idea. Again, a kappa was one thing, but...

“Don’t you know how crazy things get here!? The insane abilities and powers and threats on the Mountain, off the Mountain—this whole places sucks! I figured out how to live without worrying about... about ANY of it, okay!?” she shouted. Her voice then quieted as she followed her outburst with, “That’s right... I figured it out... Why did I think I should come see you...?”

Gen looked on miserably while Hatate became miserable, gazing bitterly at the backs of her hands.

After a moment, the Magician’s Apprentice began to sneak sideways until he was parallel with the left of the girl’s body. Though warning alarms blared in his head that he should get away, the inside of his chest whined stronger than that with guilt. Arguably dauntless, he slowly approached her trembling form very carefully while she spoke to herself under her breath over and over. He gradually understood her saying, “... go home... wanna go home... wanna go home...” to herself in a mantra that seemed familiar.

... The Wizard of Oz? he speculated accurately. Did she...?

Come across the film?

Watch it, and believe it?

Believe in the power of wishes... and thus wish so dearly for home now in this moment of anguish, anger, and ashamedness, red shoes or no?

Sadly, yes to all.

He held his breath, set his resolve, and put both his hands on top of Himekaido Hatate’s head, avoiding her tokin.

[ ♫: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t6yZBAgkVLY ]
[Atatakana Kokoro - Rozen Maiden Original Soundtrack (Mitsumune Shinkichi)]

“...” He stayed, keeping a wide stance. The crow stopped shaking.

“D... Do you have a death wish?” asked Hatate, turning to try to look at him. He pushed down on her hair. “H-Hey!”

“Have you calmed down?” he asked warily.

“No!”

He rubbed her head a bit, frowning. “Then, I’ll say I’m sorry again,” he announced. “I’m not doing this for any other reason than I’d rather... not be mean, I suppose. I don’t want someone feeling awful because of my words or actions... usually. For the most part.”

He bent down and put his right hand over her shoulders, his left hand on her left arm. He moved to pick her up. “Don’t worry,” he said, “you’ll be fine. Worst that can happen to a tengu nowadays is a nonlethal bullet. Well, a lot of them, and some torn up clothes, but that’s all. Come on, stand up, stop sniffling.”

She eventually managed to stand to his height (as afforded by the teeth of her shoes), and he saw that her nose and the skin beneath her eyes had become rosy in complexion. He still kept presence of mind to attempt escape if need be... but prioritized being gentle with this evidently fragile girl, easing her of her anxiety.

“... So this is why,” Hatate muttered.

“Hm? What’s what?” he asked, but apparently the words had been meant to be quieter than she’d managed.

Her response was a slight-stammered, “N-Nothing,” before she told him, “I guess I should just go now...”

“Nah, come on: be a reporter, right? When are you going to publish what write about me anyway? If you were thinking ‘soon’ I was going to... not be kind at all about that suggestion.”

“A compilation... eventually... I’d let you know... Um, sorry, let me go now please.”

He did, stepping back as well and leaving his hands aloft. Hatate coughed into her hand.

“Sorry,” she said again. “I’ve... I’ve been inside a long time. I guess I got... overconfident.”

“How old are you?” he asked her, heedless of the problems such a question delivered to Japanese women.

“I’m... not old for a tengu,” she said. Hatate breathed in slowly, then long out, and slapped twice at her face lightly. “Okay... Okay...! Yeah! Yeah, I’ll report on you! Document you!” she said, looking at him with much of her zeal returned, uncaring of how unflattering her bout of tears had made her face.

“Alright, super,” he said, giving her a thumb’s up. He started walking backward toward the forest and said, “but wait there first, because I can’t let you follow me here.”

“H-Hey! Wait—what!?” she snapped, pointing at him and becoming entirely flustered. “You just told me to be a reporter!”

He turned his back to her now, hoping she’d understand it as a sign of trust. “Be a good one,” he said, waving a hand once in a goodbye as he moved into the thicket, “listen to the wishes of your subject. Honestly, it’s not my place to let a youkai follow me to the person I’m going to see today.” He looked back at her with a small smile on his lips. “Tell you what,” he said, “I’ll ask her if she’s cool with you being there some other time. If she says yes, that’ll be an exclusive.” He looked back into the forest.

“Wait!”

He didn’t. “Talk to you later, Hatate. Here—” he took from his suitcase a small piece of parchment with spellwork inscribed very similar to that which had been used on his letter to his parents,“—write on this and draw a small circle if you want me to read it.”

Gen enchanted the paper with direction, and let it go so it would fly to Hatate’s hand. The tengu took it, eyeing it in total confusion. With that, he parted from her, relieved that that hadn’t gone near as poorly as it could’ve.

~~

In the search for Mokou’s house


[] Wander aimlessly.

[] Attempt to figure out paths from evidence of animals.

[] Attempt to logically, carefully explore the Bamboo Forest of the Lost.
>> No. 67360
[x] Wander aimlessly.
>> No. 67361
[x] Wander aimlessly.

Common sense has no place in Gensokyo~
>> No. 67362
[x] Wander aimlessly.
>> No. 67363
[x] Wander aimlessly.

it's what I would do
>> No. 67364
[x] Attempt to logically, carefully explore the Bamboo Forest of the Lost.

Let's piss off the forest!
>> No. 67365
[x] Attempt to logically, carefully explore the Bamboo Forest of the Lost.
>> No. 67366
[x] Wander aimlessly.
>> No. 67367
[X] Wander aimlessly.

The forest can't make you lose your way if you yourself don't know where you're going. Take that!
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