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File 154761937043.png - (2.37MB, 1754x1240, the witch in the devil's mansion.png) [iqdb]
67429 No. 67429
♫: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lG4a4ittWVg
[紅の魂 ~ 赤より紅い夢 - 幻想少女大戦紅 オリジナルサウンドトラック (さんぼん堂)]

・-・・ --- ・・・- ・

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

Histories of Yatsugatake, a Suika backstory short: >>>/shorts/2180
THREAD 1 >>65260
THREAD 2 >>65548
THREAD 3 >>65922
THREAD 4 >>66462
THREAD 5 >>66845
Expand all images
>> No. 67431
File 154880868867.jpg - (486.67KB, 800x426, the always noisy halls.jpg) [iqdb]
67431
[X] Leave Suika with Wakasagihime.


“Suika, I’m going back to Scarlet Devil Mansion. Would you mind waiting here while I go?”

“You’re gonna leave me with some slimy fish!?” she whined.

He looked on with a smile and some confusion. “You haven’t eaten each other,” he noted. To that, Suika made a grumbling sound. So did Wakasagihime.

“It’s a bad idea to let you in while Master Patchouli’s still in a mood,” he explained, gazing toward the Mansion again. He gave her his attention again, saying, “I’m leaving you for a little while to not start any trouble.”

“But trouble’s fun,” she told him with a grin.

“Not so fun is the punishment I’d receive for letting your fun through the gate,” he told her, turning away. He glanced at her once before taking off across the lake, waving and telling her, “... Later!”

Suika sat before Wakasagihime and watched him go while the mermaid waved goodbye to her friend. With that, the two seemed to stop arguing, and in short order idle talk began instead.


He brought his heel down to the sands before Hong Meiling, who lifted her head very suddenly to the sound. He shot her a glare. “You were sleeping again!” he chastised.

“S-Sir Gen... No, I...!” she answered him awkwardly, rubbing her right eye with the back of her hand. “I just closed my eyes!”

“Leave them open,” he told her with a frown. “What would the Mistress say?”

“Yes...” she replied, her head slightly bowed, “I will do better.”

His frown deepened and he shut one of his eyes, resting a hand on his hip. “I’m too new to Scarlet Devil Mansion to be the one chastising you.”

“Ah, to speak of chastising, Sir Gen,” Meiling whimsically changed the subject, pointing upward in announcement, “Lady Patchouli is angry with you!”

“Hehh... Seriously...?” he muttered, sweating a little at the thought.

“You should’ve told us you’d be staying outside of the Mansion. We figured you were dead,” explained the guard. Gen put his free hand on his other hip and cocked one of his eyebrows.

“She was angry with me even though she thought I’d died?”

Meiling yawned, waving off her breath while explaining: “She’s annoyed.” The youkai stood at ease, saying, “Please talk to her soon, Sir Gen.”

“Of course,” he replied, and he floated his way past the gate, hurrying to the front doors with the intent to go down to the basement quickly. Upon throwing them open, he paused due to seeing Sakuya blink into existence in the foyer. She addressed him immediately.

“Gen. Go to Kourindou later and find something curious for the Mistress. I’ve been meaning to but haven’t had the time.” She spun on the toe of her shoe, said, “Welcome back. Please see Lady Patchouli as soon as possible,” and vanished.

He couldn’t, and wouldn’t refuse her order, but he thought it was somewhat inconvenient. He wasn’t exactly sure where Kourindou was, let alone what sort of curiosity would pique his Mistress’s interest. While he was thinking, still at the door, his face caught a flying fairy maid, who grabbed around his head and threatened to topple him onto his rear.

“MMWHat!?” he exclaimed. From the scent, rather like the scent of an autumn morning, he determined in a muffled voice: “Merremia!?”

“I didn’t get to wake you up or sleep with you yesterday,” said his fairy, “I’m gonna sleep on you now, Sir Gen.” She squeezed his skull a bit tighter.

“Don’t, I’m doing something!” he shouted, but she was already at rest. Somewhat used to this, he sighed into the cloth of her uniform and put his hands under her thighs to start rotating her. He switched posture to pull her back around until she was settled, snoring, on his shoulders now in a way that let him at least see ahead. He felt exasperated, but held her drooling, unconscious form firm to him regardless. The foolish fairy felt like family to him at this point, and he didn’t even consider being angry with her.

He took a cautious step forward, expecting a different resident (or flock of residents, as the case may be) to stop him, but finding none. So he walked undeterred through the bleak antechamber and toward the basement stairs, keeping Merremia steady and hoping her spit would not ruin his hat.

That reminds me, he noted while descending beside flickering torchlight, watching orange streams and shards dance upon the steps, I need to get my coat back. Taking it off for the Village was pointless, huh? He looked down at his vest, recalling when he’d received it. Once entirely in the stone-halled basement, he felt a pang of guilt. He didn’t have to report in every day. He didn’t have to do anything, despite recognizing another person... at least three people, in fact... as “masters”. The nagging sensation he’d felt before accepting Suika’s midnight invitation loomed again at the edge of his awareness.

He pushed it away.

He looked down the hallway, pondering, Is Mistress Flandre in her room? He turned his attention to the great doors of the library, huffed, and moved to get them opened.

It wasn’t that he already missed the library—he’d been here just yesterday, but he realized that the old odor of its almost infinite catalog of books was calming his nerves with ease. As he pushed the right door forward, gripping Merremia’s thigh to keep her stable, and the smell of the library – the rush of mostly stagnant air displaced from a difference in temperature – blew around him, his apprehension and worry started to fade. It only started, and it wouldn’t finish. It did a little for his confidence, but he had to face his Master.

“Master...” he called out, moving into the library, flanked by shelf-towers and walls, “I’ve returned, alive.”

She didn’t answer him, so he kept on, assuming he would run into her instead—as was a fairly typical pattern. He did, not long after coming inside.

His Master was lounging on a scarlet-colored couch to his right and ahead from where he entered the area. Her legs were extended across it as she – of course – paged through a book. Her eyes laboriously moved from the text to his face, where they held their gaze in silence for a solid, rather noticeable number of seconds. Her first word after letting him stew was simply, unemotionally, “Gen.”

He nodded.

“I see,” she continued, unblinking, “you’re alive, hm.”

“I-I’m sorry I did not return last night,” the boy stammered. “I—”

“Are you aware of why I’d be angry about this?” asked his Master, blank-faced as ever. He swallowed, and answered her seriously.

“I don’t have that freedom,” he told her, echoing the truth his Mistress had given him the day he was introduced to Gensokyo. “I can’t pretend that I do.”

Patchouli swung her legs to put her feet near the floor, sitting up and putting her book down, slouching forward. “That isn’t the only reason,” she told him, speaking somewhat hoarsely. “In fact, I thought it over, Gen, and if it even is a reason, it’s a negligible reason. We can rule it out: no count on however free or not free you are.”

He stood still and listened. She explained.

“Of the facts relevant, the most important is that you are not only summarized in two words: ‘my student’. You are, in one word, ‘mine’.

“Yes, that means you have no freedom,” she said, her eyes steady, “but the overarching truth to this is that you are something I value. I do not want you to reflect on me poorly by dying stupidly out in the wild, and I do not want you worrying me by possibly dying at all.”

He drew his eyebrows together, feeling confused. She lowered her gaze, and continued to speak without tone.

“You’ve been good lately. Don’t concern me by playing ignorant with one of my foundational warnings.” Patchouli Knowledge stared into his eyes again and he straightened his back, feeling a prickling crawl up his forearm. “The night is dark,” she spoke smoothly, with a threat cold on her tongue, “and it belongs to dark creatures. It will never be humanity’s place.”

It had been quite a long time since last, but Itou Gen found that he was once more fearful of his Master.

He didn’t know what to say to her. He had a justification, but not one he wanted to admit to Patchouli Knowledge, and especially not at that juncture. He felt he hadn’t forgone her teachings, but telling why would leave him compromised. He had left his life in the hands of an oni and slept overnight at the foot of the Mountain (on a full moon—a youkai’s night, no less). He could explain every facet to the context of that reality, but he was sure she would hear only the reality: that he had knowingly put himself at the second greatest risk (and this was after he had put himself at the first when he’d dabbled with the Rauðskinna). He felt like right behind him, at his heels, was a yawning, bottomless, pit to doom.

He swallowed again, unable to break his gaze from her eyes, and something struck him as odd.

What struck him as odd was that more than scared of the witch’s potential malice, he was upset that he hadn’t met his Master equally. Not four days ago he had accepted that he had a strong love for his Master. Why, then, had he underplayed his worth in her eyes again?

When he’d nearly perished from producing a gift for Remilia and Flandre Scarlet...

When she’d taken up arms to defend his right to life against Kazami Yuuka...

When he’d returned after resolving the Spring Snow Incident...

There were many times he remembered that Patchouli had surprised him with concern, care, and even affection. Had he been surprised because she said caustic things? Because she wore a face that often told nothing?

Why hadn’t he realized this? In gesture and act, Patchouli Knowledge showed in many ways that she loved her apprentice as much as the apprentice loved his master. Was she not the same way with the Scarlet Devil...?

So now, although he felt worried for his life, he more majorly felt regret and fast-diminishing self-worth. He knew he had betrayed the one who mattered most to him within this hidden world.

... However...

He couldn’t regret it all, and he swore inside his mind; cursing that this was simply not simple.

“Master Patchouli...” he finally spoke, managing to tear his eyes from hers to stare at the blood-carpet below them. His chest was thumping into his throat, and cold ran down his skin. He opened his mouth, and felt a vibration through his teeth. The words he had to say, he had to drag them heavy from his heart, and so out they came weakly, but in absolute honesty, “... I am sorry.”

Without begging for anything, he expressed how he truly felt.

“... I didn’t tell you to always come back to me,” Patchouli said. He continued to gaze into the red before his feet. “And I didn’t think you made a mistake.”

His brow relaxed and his tension went away instantly, leaving him feeling pale, and in a daze.

“You came back safely, which tells me that whatever you did last night, you did within reason. I maintain that I have taught a good student, one who listens to me well.” Gen brought his head up with a jerk, jostling the fairy on his shoulders awake. His brow contorted in befuddlement, and there was a heat in his eyes. “I don’t need to know what it is you did...

“Thank you for returning unscathed. Please do not worry me any more. Welcome back, Gen.”

“Don’t cry, Sir Gen,” he heard Merremia’s voice, feeling her hands atop his head. He forced a smile to his lips, exhaling a shaking breath from his nose and mouth and saying:

“I haven’t cried yet.”

“Do you have anything to tell me about your discoveries or findings so far?” Patchouli asked, as if nothing prior had taken place. He hid his eyes behind the back of his hand before answering.

“N-No, I... I’m still working on your request, Master.”

“You should take care if you’re seeking things out at night that although the moon is a source of youkais’ power, it can be used just as well against them. Don’t fear it, or become narrow-minded about neglecting it.”

“Yes, I know that...” he replied, sniffing once, and keeping himself together. Merremia rubbed his head.

“And if you’re sleeping under the sky, don’t put too much faith in wards and barriers like some kind of idiot. That can just as easily be a beacon, and a shield is no use against quite a number of evil spirits.”

“Right...”

“Are you listening?” she asked.

“I always listen to you,” he answered, lowering his hand and revealing unreddened eyes, having successfully held back a wave of burning, twisted, sentiment. He told Patchouli Knowledge, “Master, I hope that I can always be someone you’re proud of.”

“... The record shows,” she said lightly, and she opened the book on her lap again. “If you’d like to read or research, do as you like. I’ll be waiting for the completion of your task. Be careful, be mindful, boy-Gen.” She turned a page.

“Please excuse me, Master Patchouli,” he announced formally, and bowed before turning to take his leave. Patchouli did not acknowledge this, and kept at her book.

As he listened to his soft footfalls on the scarlet field below, Merremia told her human, “You’re a real crybaby, Sir Gen.”

“There are things I don’t deserve, Merremia,” he explained. “And it just so happens, I often feel like it’s ‘every’ thing.”

“Hmm...” she moaned, swaying slightly while still seated on him, “I don’t get it.”

“You can’t,” he said with a chuckle. “Just... Lady Patchouli is a better person than she’d ever let on.”

“What?”

“She’s a good girl,” he said simply. “I love her.”

Merremia breathed in sharply and he heard her wings beating rapidly. He looked up at the library’s doors, laughed through his nose and said, “Not like that.”

“No! Noo! Don’t you know what ‘love’ means, Sir Gen!?” the maid cried, gripping at the hair underneath his hat. He smiled easily now while he pushed the door open.

“No, please tell me.”

“Love is—!”

And she explained her fairy view of romance.

He couldn’t tell his Master what he had done the night before, or more importantly the circumstances behind his choice... he’d say that in time. He was not resolute or settled in his decision: regret still crept at his mind and core. However, he knew now that the faith he had in his Master, his Master readily reciprocated in him. He only needed to prove that her faith was worth it. Patchouli believed he was a mature enough magician to truly handle himself, even in the dark. He had to do everything to make that sure, and he was eager to rise to the challenge.


Before he left to complete Sakuya’s errand...
He felt like easing his mind, just a little more, through the company of at least one of the two sisters. Selfish though that may be...

Which did he seek out?


[] Remilia.

[] Flandre.
>> No. 67432
[x] Remilia.

The hardest decision of this quest so far
>> No. 67433
[x] Flandre.

Easy choice
>> No. 67434
[x] Flandre.
>> No. 67435
[X] Remilia.

May as well kill two birds with one stone and ask her if she had anything specific in mind.
>> No. 67436
[x] Remilia.
>> No. 67437
[x] Remilia.
>> No. 67438
[x] Remilia.
>> No. 67439
[x] Flandre.
>> No. 67440
[x] Flandre.

She's super observant, so she would probably be the better of the two to ask about what would be an interesting curiosity to Remilia.
>> No. 67441
[x] Flandre.
>> No. 67442
File 154889222580.jpg - (54.32KB, 415x311, 1293452337447.jpg) [iqdb]
67442
(X) Flandre.

Given the choice, a Magician's Apprentice will always gravitate toward the blond loli. QED.
>> No. 67443
[x] Remilia.
>> No. 67444
[x] Remilia
>> No. 67445
[x] Flandre.

The most ancient popularity contest of vampire lolis begins anew.
>> No. 67446
[x] Remilia
>> No. 67447
[X] Flandr
>> No. 67448
[X]Frandoll

>>67445
At least he didn't invoke the forbidden popularity contest.
>> No. 67450
[x] Remilia

The votes are now perfectly balanced (as all things should be).
>> No. 67451
[X] Flandre.

I'll vote for the opposite of what the tiefag voted for.
>> No. 67452
[x] Rumia

Ok, [x] Flandre
We'll probably be seeing the other sister after Kourindu
>> No. 67453
File 155037790223.jpg - (392.33KB, 718x723, canon sass.jpg) [iqdb]
67453
Sheesh. Lots of votes. Thanks, even to the cheeky "making it a tie or not" voters.

Image is safe for work, just a surprise box. Sorry for the delay. Slowly but surely I earn more free time.

++++++++

[X] Flandre.


After shooing away his morning fairy, Gen began making his way toward the younger mistress’s room. He wanted a bit of relaxation from the company of one of the sisters... They were often entertaining to be around, and it had been a few days since he’d sat down with either specifically. When he reached her door, he knocked on it and announced, “Mistress Flandre? Are you there?”

He opened it, finding the room seemingly tossed inside (which was the norm), and the little sister absent (which was also the norm).

He left her chambers to find and ask the maids if they’d seen her in the halls somewhere and was surprised to learn that today was a rare case: Flandre was with her sister.

“Really?” he asked the fairy who had revealed this information. The little blue-haired fay nodded.

“They’re hanging out together,” she explained. She told him, “You should go make sure they don’t start beating each other up, Sir Gen. I’m not gonna. I’d get killed!”

Eehh... It’s not like I have much better chances, and I don’t even get to revive...

Hmph. It’s probably fine. They’re not
always at one another’s throats.

“Will do. Thanks,” he answered. “Get back to work.”

“Roger!” she exclaimed with a salute, and then she returned to dusting painting frames.

The sisters were in one of the studies on the second floor. He traveled more windowless halls and grandiose staircases on the way, noting that it wasn’t particularly quiet today. The mansion tended to only really be loud at night. He wondered if Suika’s closeness to his home at the moment might have been exciting the fairies. The presence of powerful youkai usually led to that.

As he came toward his destination, he began to hear a pair of familiar voices muffled behind a door. They didn’t sound aggravated... The voices seemed quite casual, in fact.

He entered the room.

[ ♫: http://listenonrepeat.com/watch/?v=4RC2hrMFIMQ ]
[Acoustic Image - TOHO BOSSA NOVA 2 (ShibayanRecords)]

“Because they were brothers, Flandre.”

“He killed the dog, Elder Sister! He killed Danny!”

“I’m aware, Flan.”

They’re... talking about JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure? he gathered as he stepped inside the room.

It was a chamber with an open-air balcony and some cupboards for chinaware: the sort of place his Mistress often liked to find herself in. The sisters were seated at a circular, thin, and white tea table with an elaborate metalwork base crafted to resemble spiraling roses. Remilia’s posture was leaned back, but composed. Flandre looked like she was ready to stand in anger.

“If you did that to my dog, I’d never forgive you, Elder Sister,” said the blond.

The blue-haired sister looked a touch exasperated. “We don’t have a dog. Though, if I ever did something like that, I wouldn’t expect your forgiveness.”

“You wouldn’t get it!” the younger sister insisted. “Why did Jonathan!?”

“‘Forgiveness’, well... Putting aside whether or not he truly forgave his brother in the end, he was simply a gentleman. Though he could fight, he always wanted an amicable, jovial relationship with everyone. He wished for a peaceful life.”

“Peace is for losers,” Flandre said. She declared (almost hopping with emphasis, which made the crystals on her wings waver a bit wildly), “It’s cooler to mess everything up! You agree with me at least for that, right? You.”

“Use respect... I only mostly agree. Dio certainly did have more charisma.”

“That’s right, huh... He was bad, but fun too... Oh? Gen. The heck are you doing here?”

Having finally been addressed by one of the two, Gen ceased twiddling his thumbs and bowed. “Mistresses. Sorry for interrupting.”

Remilia smirked. After taking a sip from her teacup she asked, “My, who is it that you came to see?”

He squinted, knowing the truth or its opposite as an answer would, in either case, cause trouble. From the look in her eye, he could already tell that Mistress Remilia had wagered he hadn’t come to see them both... and the fairies could corroborate that.

He decided to answer truthfully, “Mistress Flandre.”

Remilia’s expression soured. Flandre looked at it, her expression now twisted and teasing. Seeing this, Remilia snapped, “Don’t look at me like that!”

“Like what, El-der Sis-ter?” Flandre asked, looking, of course, entirely smug. She pointed at her face with both hands. “Like this? With a face of someone superior?”

“It’s a face of someone who’s about to get thrown,” the older sibling threatened.

Gen interjected, saying, “I wanted to see one of the two of you before I left the Mansion again, and decided to see Mistress Flandre since I don’t tend to bother her with my company as much as I do with you, Mistress.”

“Smooth!” the elder vampire exclaimed, her eyes severe.

“Don’t make excuses, Gen; you can say I’m the better sister. It’s fine,” Flandre assured him with a voice full of sympathy. She had her elbow on the table now, her cheek on the heel of her palm. “Well, you found me,” she spoke breathily. “What happens now?”

I’d thought about asking her what Mistress Remilia might be interested in from Kourindou, but... he thought to himself, eyes drifting to the somewhat bothered older sister. “I was going to go back out shortly. Would you like me to find anything out in Gensokyo?”

“Find a leprechaun,” Flandre said.

“... Are those here?” he asked seriously.

“How should I know?” she asked, pouting more than Remilia now. She stretched out across the table, making her sister narrow her eyes and frown rather deeply. Turning her head she told him, “I don’t know, Gen. If there was something out there, wouldn’t I go get it on my own?”

“... Would you?” he asked, again seriously.

“I would!” she shouted. While Remilia shook her head.

“I’ll challenge myself to spark your interest then, Mistress Flandre,” he announced with a bow. Looking up he changed the subject, “That aside: JoJo, Mistresses?”

“You already know I read that,” Remilia told him. Flandre began to lightly flap her wings as the Mistress continued, “Flandre decided to read Phantom Blood, and was discussing it with me.”

He straightened up, asking Flandre, “How did you find it aside from the animal cruelty?”

“The frog punch was cool,” she said.

He nodded. It was.

“But I could’ve destroyed that rock without even touching the frog!” she boasted, grinning.

Remilia sighed, afterward saying, “Of course you could.” Flandre shot her a glare.

“Do you have any other manga to read out ahead of you, Mistress Flandre? Or are you going to shift your interests again?”

She shrugged. “Who knows?”

Remilia hissed in an angry whisper, “Get off the table already!”

“You should join Miss Meiling and I for tai chi in the mornings!” he declared enthusiastically.

“Hahh?” Flandre grunted. He lost enthusiasm.

“We vampires have no need for exercise,” said Remilia calmly. Next, showing a fang in her smile, she explained, “Unlike physically lesser youkai such as Patche, our bodies are made of strong stuff. In fact, we’re the most powerful beings imaginable.”

“Pffff.”

That had been Flandre. Remilia’s smile stiffened.

While looking at her sister and kicking her legs slowly, Flandre asked, “Didn’t you get beaten down by an old lady only last week?”

“I did no such thing,” Remilia replied, squinting at Flandre again.

“You did, you did,” she insisted, though playfully.

“I didn’t and you’ve got no proof!” With a raised voice and flared wings, Remilia Scarlet settled the matter. Flandre Scarlet puffed laughter out of closed lips.

He wagered they were talking about Miss Suika, who he recalled had mentioned in passing that she’d met Remilia and thought of her as a “scaredy-cat”. Much as he respected his Mistress’s strength, having witnessed Suika’s firsthand he was quite sure Flandre’s call had been right. Not that he’d ever call Suika an old woman, even with her gruff and somewhat old manner of speech.

This wasn’t something he could ask Remilia about, at any rate.

“Mistress Remilia is incredible,” he said truthfully, “I’m sure she’s being honest, Mistress Flandre,” he lied.

“You’re lying,” said the younger sister. Remilia, whether she believed his words or not, was happy that he hadn’t delivered them mockingly, and was blushing now with her eyes closed and a smile on her face. He did believe this: if her opponent hadn’t been an oni, there were none likely to really give his Mistress a run for her money. Miss Reimu could due to Gensokyo’s rules of engagement but that was all.

... Oh, he recalled, and whoever it is antagonizing Mokou, sis, in the Bamboo Forest. They’re supposed to be trouble.

On second thought, there may have been quite a few. But, that didn’t matter! He had faith in the Scarlet Devil’s power!

“You look like you just went through a buncha leaps in logic in your head, Gen,” Flandre said, still fully locked in to “sass”. “Don’t worry, this girl is always building herself up way taller than she actually is. I mean, look at her! Midget.”

“You’re the same height as me!” Remilia snarled.

“And you’re five years older than me... How sad...” spoke a pitying Flandre, still sprawled out across the table. He saw the cup in Remilia’s hand trembling.

“I’m going to go get Sakuya.”

“Get off the table!” Remilia yelled, standing from her chair. Flandre cackled, her wings flapping delightfully. He stepped out of the room, closing it as he saw a red spear of energy manifest in his Mistress’s hand. This had been a critical failure. He had to find the Head Maid to make sure the two of them kept things civil. If they destroyed parts of the Mansion while the Sun was still up, that would be very bad. He hurried down the halls and stairs and flew fast toward the kitchen, hoping to find his human peer there, who might defuse the lit bomb between Scarlet Sisters.

~~

He stepped into the Mansion’s gardens.

After talking to Sakuya, he outfitted himself completely once again, and so now stood under the Sun in his dark, but airy robes. The maid had gone to keep peace, and though the two’s fighting had already gotten intense enough that he could hear it outside, he was sure Sakuya could handle it.

What should I pick up for her...? he wondered as he rose into the air, thinking of Remilia. Something that’d amuse her and take her mind off of her sister’s bratty behavior, hm...? Huhm... I wonder if I can find a Rubik's Cube there... Oh! Or maybe one of those... What are they? They’re like, boxes of smooth metal pins... You can put an imprint of your hand or face in it... Those are cool.

Supposedly Kourindou had quite the supply of curated Outside World items. It would be better for finding something than his going to Muenzuka, perhaps. That, and surely Miss Sakuya would prefer that he not dig around in garbage for The Mistress’s gift.

He started to descend when he spotted Suika and Wakasagihime where he had parted from them.

“I’m back!” he told them enthusiastically.

“Hey,” answered Suika with a smile. Wakasagihime waved as her greeting. He noticed at once from Suika’s slouched back and The Princess’s usual shore-resting posture that these two, at least, had worked out their differences.

“We just heard something going BANG, BANG coming from the Mansion. Was there a fight?” Suika asked. He nodded, and Wakasagihime sighed.

“Why do so many youkai fight all the time...” she lamented.

“It’s in most of our blood,” said Suika, thumping her chest while looking at the mermaid. She pointed at the younger woman and observed, “Can’t you fight, too? It’s weak, but, I can feel some kinda power coming from you.”

“You end up having to fight here and there in Gensokyo... I wish it wasn’t like that,” she answered.

“Where’d that fire in your heart go, mermaid!? Did the Lake drown it!?” complained the oni. Wakasagihime shook her head.

“I just ended up feeling easy around you, Madame Suika.”

“Just call me ‘Suika’...” the older girl replied, plainly bothered by the honorific use. Gen smiled and pushed up one of his brows to observe that. She found his use of a similar term adorable, after all.

“Do you mind if I get going, Princess? I have a new assignment from Sakuya,” he said to his friend, who shook her head lightly.

“Go ahead. Just be careful the oni doesn’t rip off one of your arms by accident.”

“I... I won’t do that!” snapped the oni in question. Wakasagihime only gave her a look, centered around a smirk.

“See you soon, Gen!” said the girl, turning from the shore and waving once again. He waved back with chipper gusto, then looked at Suika as she stood up.

“So you two hit it off?” he asked.

“I can hit it off with anyone!” she yelled, more “honest” than boasting. He knew that wasn’t true, and when she saw the look on his face she grumbled and turned her eyes away.

“I’ve got to go to the shop just outside the Forest, but not quite near the village. You know it?”

“Yeah, a pathetic guy lives there.”

“I can’t speak for that, but that’s where I need to be. I don’t feel like flying there. Shall we walk?”

“Y-Yeah! I can spend more time with you that way!”

Whoa, he thought as his heart tightened. He put a hand over his chest and gripped.

“Th-Then—” he spoke abruptly, “let’s –


[] go through the Forest.”

[] take the long way around to the store.”
>> No. 67454
[x] go through the Forest.”

(insert Jojo reference here).
>> No. 67455
[x] take the long way around to the store.”

Just to spend a bit more time with her.
>> No. 67456
[x] take the long way around to the store.”

HNNNNNG
>> No. 67457
[x] take the long way around to the store.”
>> No. 67458
[x] go through the Forest.”
>> No. 67459
[x] take the long way around to the store.”
>> No. 67460
[x] take the long way around to the store.”

Suika a cute
>> No. 67461
[x] take the long way around to the store.”

Jojo references get me in the mood for long, drawn out journeys that are more indirect than necessary.
>> No. 67463
File 155237008784.png - (772.22KB, 840x679, 94fd1865178d04ab850564f41a89d628.png) [iqdb]
67463
Sup duders.

Firstly a self-shill. My first totally completed story, Make a fist., has been completed over here >>/underground/16139 Please give it a read! Not only is it my first completed CYOA, it's what I consider to be my first full long story ever written and finished.

Other than that status report: finally finished reading CoLA in its (translated) entirety, so now I feel comfortable writing for Rinnosuke. Updates SOON.
>> No. 67464
Thanks for the update. I'm looking forward to more watermelon content.
>> No. 67465
File 155284147975.jpg - (328.92KB, 704x686, remorseless assaulter.jpg) [iqdb]
67465
Here we go. Long one.

image source: https://danbooru.donmai.us/posts/268601

++++++++

[X] take the long way around to the store.”

[ ♫: http://listenonrepeat.com/watch/?v=4RC2hrMFIMQ ]
[妖精のいる風景 - 東方アイリッシュ8 妖精奇譚 (Floating Cloud)]

With a nervous laugh and a coquettish smile, Ibuki Suika made the astute observation: “Ahaha... You want to spend more time with me, too.”

“Of course I do,” he answered with a half grin and a reddened face. He stuffed his hands in his pockets, turned, and began to walk the dirt road alongside the Forest. Suika trotted just behind him, watching him with a blush on her face as well—until the smile on her lips pushed up her cheeks and she sprang ahead to tug down and hug onto his arm, squeezing rather intensely. He allowed it, but worried the oni might shatter the bones within.

~~

The afternoon was nearing its last hours, and the atmosphere made that much known through a change in the air that was now just barely, but clearly, tinged with a chill. The Sun was still high and the day was bright. The emerald and wild forest flitted and churned with life. Beside it, he walked a path he had become very accustomed to, feeling very much like this was all rather new. He found himself asking Suika about things as they went along – things he hadn’t noticed prior and things he’d noticed before but hadn’t much cared about.

Mostly, he did it just to hear her voice.

“Do you know if these trees are the same as when you were last in Gensokyo?”

That seemed to be the only reason.

“Oh, yeah. I think there’re a lot now that’re younger, and I get the feeling they got brought in somewhen along the way, but for the most part it’s the same forest it always was.”

“What about the forest on Youkai Mountain?”

“That’s totally the same!”

Whenever she gave a shout, he noticed that he was smiling. To her latest, he chuckled and pondered aloud:

“I wonder what that’s about...”

“It’s not that nothing can get added to it, but humans don’t really know about the Mountain.”

“Eh? What?”

“Since the humans in Gensokyo don’t have much of an idea about Yatsugatake aside from ‘it’s scary!’, they don’t assume much about it. Like that, the only ones who can change anything on it are the youkai living there... and most youkai don’t like any change... Yeah.”

“I figured something could slip through the barrier and onto the mountain, though.”

“Mm, well, that’s why I said it could still happen.” She put herself a bit closer to him. “Just not something I could see happenin’ on its own.”

“Hm, now that you’re mentioning it... See that moss over there?”

He pointed at a segment of bluish-green growth on a great oak nearby.

“What about it?”

“It grows on the south side of trees.”

“Hah? First I heard a’ that.”

“Master says that, from what she can tell, the fairies here were tricking the sense of direction of travelers enough that a kind of ‘fool’s moss’ evolved or... well, it was partly an evolution, and partly a total farce.”

“Blasted fairies.”

He knew about it as a curiosity, a warning.

“I’ve thought offhand before, that if fairies are just aspects of nature, then it’s strange they could change nature itself. The reason moss grows on the north side of trees isn’t as a guide. It’s since we’re on the top part of the world, so that part of the tree gets the most light. It’s the opposite in the bottom part, by the way.”

“Hehh...”

“But, like with the Bamboo Forest and the Lake, in Gensokyo, humans’ ideas can definitely make parts of nature supernatural.” He paused for a moment, thinking about that. “And that’s kind of neat, but also a bit terrifying.”

“Scary, huh...” Suika seemed to consider the idea. “That humans can dictate the life of somethin’ supernatural? Mm. Well. That’s...”

She stopped herself. The way she did it was something he was beginning to recognize as sort of... patterned behavior. Put simply, Suika had a tendency to retreat inside herself when something (about her past, he wagered) was brought back into the forefront of her mind that had, perhaps, once bothered her deeply.

With the consideration that she didn’t follow every standard of an “oni” in mind, he neared in his thoughts a troubling realization: one too troubling for the mood.

“Don’t worry,” he said, “I’ve got faith in you.”

“Hah? ‘Faith’...” she grumbled, becoming a bit gentler with her hold on him. “I’m the one that proved what an oni really is,” Suika told him firmly. “You’re the one that shouldn’t worry, Gen. That story is as old as it’s over, and any of my hang-ups from the time along with it.”

So you did remember something... he thought.

Despite how close he’d gotten to Suika in really a handful of days, he understood that there was a lot to know about her, and that, in her surely long life, there had to have been many moments that weren’t all joy and revelry. The mere fact that her race had abandoned this world for another one told him much about his oni companion. She’d even suggested that she wanted him to help her... help her with something that she thought was impossible even for herself.

So, he wanted to make sure he knew whatever he could about Ibuki Suika. He noticed all sorts of things in all sorts of places now because they were opportunities to grow his knowledge on the ancient oni. Even if he was talking about stones and pebbles, he felt he could round that into learning more about her. The more he knew, the more he could potentially help...

“Have you ever eaten any mushrooms from the forest? Master says to not put anything I find on a branch or the ground in my mouth before she checks it first.”

And, the more he knew, the more he liked her.

“Course I have. What’re you saying? You never had any morels straight from the ground?”

“Raw? You’re... supposed to cook those first.”

“Human stomachs! Weak! Let’s go foraging right now!”

“No.”

Suika, with no secondary motivations for learning more about Gen in mind, only probed him in return for that one reversed reason: her like of him.

She asked: “When were you born!?”

And then: “Do you like that color so much, or is it just ‘cause of Patchouli?”

“Hey, hey, where were you born?”
“Chiba!? Where’s that!?”
“If you’re not eating outta the forests, what do you eat!?”
“Umm... Can you cook?”
“Wha—! ‘Stop talkin’ about food’!? It isn’t my fault you didn’t eat at your mansion!!”
“Hey, hey, you ever gone hunting? ... Don’t roll your eyes!!”
“We should go hunting some time! Hohh, or fishing! Let’s fish out that mermaid, okay!? Have you gone fishing before!?”

She asked a lot of simple questions, and she was much more direct than he was. He found that he was almost embarrassed at having someone this concerned over him. Prior to entering Gensokyo, he didn’t find himself to be all that interesting. Of course, that didn’t matter.

Like Gen wanted to be an expert on Suika, Suika wanted to be an expert on Gen. He wasn’t truly aware of this, and nor was she of his intentions. With some observation and awareness, the two of them would have likely stopped on their way in order to dwell in shame for a while. Without it, they continued their frivolous back and forth: Gen being roundabout, and Suika being straight – but both unconsciously playing a truly saccharine game. It would have made Patchouli sick to her stomach.

Like that, they went on.

Every so often, a youkai from the forest would stop to watch, consider the human of the pair, and promptly reconsider upon witnessing the horn pressed broad into his back. Suika wasn’t doing anything consciously to protect him; he simply had the fortune of her figure being so quickly recognizable.

It was thus a trip without complication or hindrance. After they’d taken to strolling quietly for a bit of time, being sufficiently at ease, Suika became compelled to sing. Gen listened with pleasure to her song of oni, sang with repetition and the subdued (but distinct) influence of bluster and zeal.

On~ days of su~n
The good oni alone~ surely ought to know~ that a cup of sake goes~ down very well.

On~ days of moo~n
The great oni alone~ surely ought to know~ that a cup of sake goes~ down very well.

On~ days of fi~re
The strong oni alone~ surely ought to know~ that a cup of sake goes~ down very well.

On~ days of wa~ter
The wise oni alone~ surely ought to know~ that a cup of sake goes~ down very well.

On~ days of woo~d
The tough oni alone~ surely ought to know~ that a cup of sake goes~ down very well.

On~ days of go~ld
The swift oni alone~ surely ought to know~ that a cup of sake goes~ down very well.

On~ days of ear~th~
Oni young and old~ surely ought to know~ that a cup of sake goes~ down very well.

On those days forlorn and gray, on those days blissful and bright,
Any oni knows~ that very well.


Suika finished, crooning giddy. With her song done, she looked at Gen expectantly, almost hopping in place.

“Wait,” he said, cocking an eyebrow and bringing up one side of his mouth, “so ‘every day’ is a drinking day?”

“What else?” was her cool answer. She bared her fangs in a grin. “So?” she asked. “Wanna drink?”

He wanted to hear her sing more. Her singing voice was a bit scratchy, full, and layered with something like... a whole belief in her words. It sounded old, and calming; sort of like a grandmother singing to her grandchildren...

But he’d never tell her that. Also, he didn’t want to drink.

“From your gourd? How’s this? ‘Any human knows not to drink sake before the evening.’”

“Tchhehh...” was Suika’s miserable response, before she took her own offer and gulped from her infinite supply. She swallowed several times before turning her bleary eyes on him, pointing at her tongue, and asking, “How about if you use this as a cup? Eh?”

Gen frowned, telling her, “You’re a pervert, Miss Suika.”

“Eh, that’s not a no? You would?”

Of course I would, he thought to himself with his eyes shut and brow furrowed, struggling to not imagine taking the oni up on her offer. He felt her pressing into him even more than she had been and, squinting, saw that she now had her gaze square on his lower body.

She lifted her left hand and began to move it toward him.

“Hey!” he snapped, lifting his right and almost growling. “You’re incorrigible! Give it a rest!

He pushed down on her head; she pushed her hand against the front of his trousers.

Gen leapt out of her hold, turning to fly backward and away from the girl. “Is it always going to be like this whenever I’m close to you!?” he yelled.

In response, a rosy-cheeked Suika put the pads of her fingers over her lips, puffed with laughter, and told him, “Shouldn’t I be the one asking you that?”

She pointed where he expected she’d point. As he gritted his teeth, his face felt on fire.

“Geeen... I can give you a hand! Or a tongue! Or, whatever!” she shouted, jumping toward him. The lad gripped his belt with both hands, turned his pale face forward again, and took off hoping the oni would not tackle him.

I suppose this is retribution, he thought, recalling his provocation in the skies from earlier. But I was only teasing...! If she even gets a hold of one of my pant legs...

Concerned about public indecency, Itou Gen fled from the pursuing youkai, prepared to strike her single-minded head down if necessary.

========

Curious about the song? The tune of Which Oni Knows to Drink Sake?, I imagine, is this: https://onlinesequencer.net/1074098 (repeats 3 times before the conclusion rather than 7, because otherwise it'd be annoying!)
I think that repeats automatically. Close that tab, dude!

The lyrics are these, according to my struggling understanding of Japanese:

日の日に
「いいな鬼」は酒を飲むことを知っている。
月の日に
「素敵な鬼」は酒を飲むことを知っている。
火の日に
「強いな鬼」は酒を飲むことを知っている。
水の日に
「賢いな鬼」は酒を飲むことを知っている。
木の日に
「逞しいな鬼」は酒を飲むことを知っている。
金の日に
「速いな鬼」は酒を飲むことを知っている。
土の日に
「老いも若きな鬼」は酒を飲むことを知っている。
悲しいの日とも、嬉しいの日とも、
「どんな鬼」が知っている。

I made it up. To roughly fit meter, the translation into English is VERY loose. In Japanese, it's basically:


X no hi ni~
"Y oni" wa~ sake o~ nomukoto o~ shitteiru.

...

Kanashii no hi tomo, ureshii no hi tomo
"donna oni" ga shitteiru.

translated
On days of X
"The Y oni" knows to drink sake.

...

On sad days, or on happy days,
"Any oni" knows.


========
>> No. 67469
File 155284281548.jpg - (388.75KB, 1240x1754, Rinnosuke.jpg) [iqdb]
67469
~~

Morichika Rinnosuke sat in his store (it was a store, he insisted), considering closing early for the day. It was perhaps four of five in the afternoon-going-on-evening, the clocks in his store (he insisted) were all misaligned, but vaguely within the same hour or two. Regardless, it was business as usual, and he’d reached a fairly good part in the book he was reading. It would be a shame if he had a customer’s arrival spoil that. He’d have to greet them, see to their needs... He thought to put out a sign.

“Mm, let’s do that,” he muttered to himself. He stood up, putting his book face-down on the counter and stepping back to begin navigating his network of goods to reach the main area of his store.

The alleged store, Kourindou, was at first glance, and any subsequent, upon a cursory look-over and closer evaluation, even upon the most thorough scrutiny... a nightmare of items, of all shapes and sizes. It was the home of, seemingly, the proverbial collector bird that was compelled to gather anything that shined (or really, as was clear in the somewhat small confines of the place: anything “novel”). It was the nest of, apparently, a rodent with a similar habit. Were an outsider to walk inside, they would recognize perhaps seventy-five percent of the items as familiar but... old. Kourindou was a store of artifacts, and its proprietor gathered these artifacts (from within and without Gensokyo) with complete zeal. He had a reason, an open one which he advertised, but the establishment maintained a reputation of not being much of a business but more of a... kind of house of curiosities, where one could bother the owner for tea or free, strange items.

It maintained that reputation because the owner, contrary to his protests, often maintained it.

“It’s fine to close up now,” he continued to monologue, “because there were so many parties over this past month. Surely no one in Gensokyo wants to see any more of anyone else after all of that. I’ve certainly had more than enough.”

He made his way to the counter’s end and started to squeeze past a large urn, pausing for a moment as dust tickled his nose and threatened a sneeze.

I’m better than this, he thought, holding back a sneeze and keeping stable with both hands on the pot. He glanced over his wares: the computers, the monitors, the totems, the staffs and glass bottles, the keyboards, the broken instruments, the tools of his own formation... all layered, almost, with a level of dead mites comparable to a fraying, vast blanket.

... Shall I dust tonight?

The entire building shook, and there was an explosive sound just outside his door. On some shelves to his right, porcelain statues threatened to rattle their ways off. He felt his blood drain and thought to move, only to realize the porcelain urn before him was beginning to fall toward the ground.

No! he thought, and he reached to grab at its top and around its side. Sweat on his cheek, panicked, Rinnosuke slowly breathed out through his nose and carefully stood the pottery back up while also putting himself onto his store’s main floor. Kneeling, he told himself that he shouldn’t be so panicked by sudden sounds: this was Gensokyo, and ever since Reimu had instated new rules of battle within it, sounds of fighting had actually become more frequent. His jumping and flinching from the perhaps-danmaku battle outside had nearly cost him a three-hundred year old container of sacred ashes.

That was... assuming the noises outside were danmaku. He could imagine there being exceptions. Standing straight, attempting to steel himself, Rinnosuke slowly, calmly, made his way to his entrance. He pulled the door ajar, and as the bell above jingled its usual sound of entrance or exit, he peaked through the resulting crack to witness the... somewhat expected.

Outside of his (make no mistake) shop was a magician with garb he thought was somewhat familiar, stood with his legs apart, one hand grasping and pulling up on his belt, and his other hand pointing down at what had to be a youkai. There was a little girl with horns below him, grasping at the end of his pants with her eyes shut in pain. A pillar of stone was pressed down on her head, towering well above Kourindou’s height, and perhaps two arm spans wide.

The magician spoke.

“Wait until tonight!” he yelled. “You can do that, can’t you!?”

“Nngh... augh...” the other youkai moaned. Squinting, Rinnosuke realized that she, too, looked rather familiar. He thought back on why that might be, holding his chin while the girl continued to hold the young man’s pants.

The young man growled, shook his head, and knelt before the other youkai. He reached toward her left cheek, looking rather annoyed. “Here,” he said (and at this point, the youkai opened her eyes), “this is what you want, right?”

Rinnosuke slammed his fist down onto his palm. “Ibuki-douji!” he said in a hushed voice. “I’ve seen those horns before! I’m sure of it!”

The two youkai flinched, the male of the two moving his face back from hers and looking petrified. He peeked up from under the brim of his hat to the sign of the establishment he apparently hadn’t realized he’d stopped before.

“Kou... rin... dou...” the man read. He looked at the proprietor, who was thinking over details of the Ibuki-douji legend and comparing them to what he could see of the pinned down youkai. “Mister... Rinnosuke?” he ventured.

“Y—Yeah, that’s him,” said Ibuki-douji... the oni... as she let go of the boy’s clothes and harbored a heavy blush on her face. An oni in Gensokyo... thought Rinnosuke, There’s no way, right? They’ve been gone for longer than I’ve been alive. Much longer, in fact.

He got his bearings again; he stood up straight behind his door as the magician dispelled his earth and patted the oni off, carefully helping her up. What a curious relationship, Rinnosuke observed before coughing once into his fist. “Ahem,” he began, “yes, my name is Morichika Rinnosuke, and this is the store ‘Kourindou’. I’ll have to ask that if you wish to do business here, I cannot allow any fighting within the store.” Feeling a bit more confident with the two now standing up outside of his establishment, Rinnosuke fully opened his door. “Do you wish to do business? If so, welcome, but do keep in mind that I intend to close soon so if you’d please...”

He stopped. The magician wasn’t a youkai. In the chaos and confusion that was the pair’s arrival his eyes seemed to have missed the truth of the matter. That, and now it was obvious that no youkai energy was coming off of the human dressed in lavender and blue. The human, kneeling now and rubbing Ibuki-douji’s head with his bushy eyebrows furrowed, was somebody he’d heard of, in fact.

“Yes, sorry,” said the human, now looking his way but not ceasing the easeful motion of his hand, “I apologize for causing a disturbance outside of your store... We got carried away. Sorry.”

“It’s alright, this is Gensokyo; I understand,” Rinnosuke answered. “However... Gen, I want to be absolutely clear that you will have to buy whatever it is you need from my establishment. If you understand that, please come in. Humans and youkai are both welcome at Kourindou.”

Itou Gen was somebody he’d expected to eventually meet, if only because he was a human living at the same mansion as a certain maid. The Mistress of that mansion was unreasonable, and he’d long now wagered that the magician in their library had to be as well. According to Marisa, this young man worked for that magician. He didn’t know much else beyond that, but it was enough...

Enough to know some recompense could be had at that estate’s expense.

Gen stood and gave Ibuki-douji a questioning look while pointing Rinnosuke’s way. He received a shrug in return, before the oni looked to where he was pointing, waited for the owner to go inside, and beckoned the human to her level, whereupon she took his lips.

~~

[ ♫: https://picosong.com/w6a82/ ]
[月のワルツ [カラオケ] - 月のワルツ (諫山実生)]

Inside, Rinnosuke walked to his counter and waited. He wondered how he could get back at the mansion for the destruction of his property. Earlier in the year, the head maid of Scarlet Devil Mansion, Izayoi Sakuya, had come to meet and baffle him, starting a series of events that ended with his stock taking a definitive loss. He had nothing against this new fellow, but if he could get rid of some junk at a high price then, well, he could consider that a debt repaid (and air easier to breathe).

He turned as he heard the pair’s approaching footsteps. The magician took off his hat and looked around. The oni looked at the magician’s free hand, and, squirming a little, began touching a few of her fingers together absently.

“Do you have something already in mind?” Rinnosuke asked.

“No, unfortunately,” Gen answered with a smile. He looked around just a bit more, noting after: “Huh... it really is filled with outside world goods.”

The proprietor nodded. “Yes. Are you familiar with outside world objects?”

Gen thought about that, answering, “Yeah, I am,” with a nod after a moment.

“A fellow collector?” asked Rinnosuke, a bit excited.

“I’m just familiar, sorry to say,” answered Gen with an apologetic smile.

“What’s this? It looks like if you poked it just slightly you’d break it.”

Rinnosuke turned his eyes to Ibuki-douji, who had a finger raised tentatively over a short box with the figure of a frill-skirted dancer posed atop it. Though the box was open, its contents were still blocked from sight so the dancer might have a floor. Rinnosuke looked at it, looked at the oni, and told her, “It’s called a ‘music box’. One of those rare names that tells you everything you need to know.”

“It can play music? What? But there’s no... eh, mouth? Or strings, or a hollow body... Nothing for sound to come out of.”

“I’ve stocked a few of these before. Inside, there’s a small instrument that... if you spin that bit on the side around a little, a small, bump-filled cylinder will rotate afterward, each bump plucking at the instrument inside to make music.”

“No way!” Ibuki-douji picked it up and began winding it immediately, the figure on top turning as a click, clicking sounded. The two men eyed the oni warily, both looking as if they wanted to explain that not much winding was necessary. She let go of the diamond-shaped knob on its side before they could interrupt, and watched with a pair of wide eyes as the dancer slowly spun in place, and a song (one from, if he recognized it correctly, Spain) began to prettily play. Her mouth spreading wide into a smile, Ibuki-douji cried, “This’s crazy! How’d you humans even think of this!?”

“Well, I’m not entirely human, nor did I invent the music box of course,” he replied. He walked over toward her, “I understand these were invented rather recently, if we’re considering the entirety of history. They’ve been around for only two hundred years.”

“Young!”

“Yes.” He nodded. The oni showed her smile to him, and its brightness made him wince.

“You got any others!?” she shouted.

He nodded again. “Yes. Are you interested in buying them?”

“Yeah, yeah, of course, lemme see some more!” she insisted. Rinnosuke frowned, looking at her suspiciously... but ultimately recalled, oni were not known to lie. Business was business...

“I’ll get some of the hand-operated ones from the back,” he said, and he went to do just that.

“Hey, Gen! These are awesome! Look, look!”

Rinnosuke glanced over his shoulder, seeing the oni holding the box in both of her hands and chortling mirthfully, her eyes fully closed.

The human answered, “You mean listen?” The oni frowned, and told him to shut up. Rinnosuke turned away.

“Your Mistress would find these interestin’, right?”

“I don’t know how else to say this but... music boxes are common enough that I’m sure Mistress Remilia has several... Ahh, Miss Suika, don’t look so devastated. I like them, see?”

Those two are very peculiar, he thought to himself as he stepped into the even-more-stuffed realm of his store’s back storage area. He stepped carefully through narrow paths of somewhat random making, looking for where he kept the music boxes he’d collected. So that vampire mistress wants something “interesting”. Poor fellow, I think I can understand why meeting that request can’t be easy.

He stopped in front of a metal and leather-bound chest.

What should I do, then? Something the vampire would like...

As he opened the chest and looked for things to satisfy the oni’s curiosity, he considered also the blood-sucking oni’s curiosity. The item would be important, certainly... but what would really matter would be how he spun its value. If this Gen was anything like the other residents of Scarlet Devil Mansion, he was likely fairly intelligent... but not infallible. More importantly, he’d have some sort of ridiculous way of thinking. He seemed to be a partner of some kind with a genuine oni, for one. Perhaps if the shopkeeper could impress the magician well enough, the oni would see him as trusting and so might share some of the secrets of her kind’s spectacular tools... Once more, he found himself getting excited. This could be an exceptional chance.

With a few music boxes selected, Rinnosuke put a thumb to his chin and a hand on his hip.

What could he try to sell?


[] Something cheap from the outside world. If Gen was well-versed in the outside world, he might actually need less convincing than with another item for sale.

[] Something cheap from Gensokyo. With an oni around, and one the human trusted so well, he could have the elder youkai potentially corroborate whatever explanation he game.

[] Something expensive from the outside world. Something Rinnosuke was convinced would be worth something. This was a rare opportunity, after all. Retribution could wait.

[] Something expensive from Gensokyo. Something Rinnosuke was convinced would be worth something. This was a rare opportunity, after all. Retribution could wait.
>> No. 67470
[x] Something cheap from the outside world. If Gen was well-versed in the outside world, he might actually need less convincing than with another item for sale.
>> No. 67471
>As he opened the chest and looked for things to satisfy the oni’s curiosity, he considered also the blood-sucking oni’s curiosity.

Suika does not suck (blood) As far as I know...

[X] Expensive - Outside world

Both rare AND valuable.
>> No. 67472
>>67471
>Suika does not suck (blood) As far as I know...
Refers to Remilia, actually.

The way the Japanese call vampires is 吸血鬼, which literally means "blood-sucking oni". This is probably why roasted soybeans harm vampires in Touhou, because they are "technically" oni.
>> No. 67473
[x] Something expensive from the outside world. Something Rinnosuke was convinced would be worth something. This was a rare opportunity, after all. Retribution could wait.
>> No. 67474
[x] Something cheap from the outside world. If Gen was well-versed in the outside world, he might actually need less convincing than with another item for sale
>> No. 67475
[x] Something expensive from the outside world. Something Rinnosuke was convinced would be worth something. This was a rare opportunity, after all. Retribution could wait.

"I know I've got some scarlet gold around here somewhere..."
>> No. 67476
File 155329608935.jpg - (2.28MB, 2281x1000, usual kourindou.jpg) [iqdb]
67476
[X] Something expensive from the outside world. Something Rinnosuke was convinced would be worth something. This was a rare opportunity, after all. Retribution could wait.

... Thinking, it had to be that.

Rinnosuke put the music boxes down onto a tray and moved back toward the main store.

[ ♫: http://listenonrepeat.com/watch/?v=cganW8kwG-s ]
[月のワルツ - 月のワルツ (諫山実生)]

He arrived to find a somewhat strange-looking scene: Ibuki-douji had her hands on a counter and was swaying her head lightly to the music of the box from before. On one of her horns was the human magician’s hat, held as if it was meant to hang there. On her other horn was the human’s finger, tapping the rhythm of the song offhandedly. He was looking at some of the clocks on one of Kourindou’s walls, and had his other hand in his robe’s pocket.

Rinnosuke spoke up, “Miss Customer, I have some more here.” He presented the tray of the varied boxes on his front desk, drawing the oni’s attention. “They’re hand-operated. Rather than running on their own, they only play as you move the crank. I urge you to take care with them.”

“Of course!” she answered, and she leapt from the magician’s side (who, on her leave, snatched up his hat and started spinning it slowly ‘round a finger). Ibuki-douji got her hands on a dark-wood box with a fairly large handle to go along with the box’s rather significant size. She cranked it gently, smiling as a song Rinnosuke believed to be from Deutschland was plucked out. He looked to the human in the room.

“As for you, Gen,” said Rinnosuke, addressing the boy amicably, “I believe I have something that your Vampire Mistress would be quite interested in in stock. With your knowledge of Outside World tools, perhaps you will recognize its value and rarity immediately.”

Gen waited. Rinnosuke thought to himself, Alright, this is it...

He stepped from behind the counter and past the library’s assistant (just as he donned his cap once more), moving to a shelf upon which, beside some strange lamps and heavy-looking, many-buttoned devices, lay a relatively simple, small and thin white box.

“Have a look,” he said, indicating toward the box with a flat and open palm. “This is called an ‘iPod’. It’s a tool that can store and play music.”

Morichika Rinnosuke could see names.

More than that, in knowing the names of things he saw, he was also able to determine their functions. This... did not include an understanding as to how they functioned, though. In other words, the “iPod” was one of the rarest, strangest, seemingly useless items in his store. It had a large circle on its face, containing another circle that seemed to be a button; there was a switch on top along with a few purposeless holes... it was supposed to gather and play music, but even assuming it could perform that former part, or perhaps even was somehow already, Rinnosuke was entirely unable to get it to sing; unable to make it play, or anything. What’s more, the odd, shiny and dark square of material on its top half seemed to only serve as an incredibly poor mirror. It may have seemed unworkable or broken... but this was the only device of its kind Rinnosuke had ever found. Its unusual, esoteric and sleek make also suggested to him that this was, miraculously, a new device. It was something Gensokyo, a land of forgotten and old things, was not likely to find. It must have been lost: the lost also showed up in this land after all.

At any rate, Rinnosuke was sure a portable box of many songs would not even simply sate that vampire’s curiosity; it would be an invaluable, precious tool.

“So? Have you heard of it?”

If she could figure out how it was used at least.

Rinnosuke looked over at Gen and saw, with a little bit of a shock, that the boy was plainly in awe; the sort of awe that mostly confused Rinnosuke. Why? Because the look in Gen’s eye told Rinnosuke that not only did this boy know far more about the object than Rinnosuke could, he also saw value in it surely beyond what the store owner had estimated.

For a moment, he reconsidered selling it.

“How did an iPod get in here? Moreover... I’ve never seen this before,” Gen muttered. “Can I have a look at it? At the back?”

“F-Feel free,” Rinnosuke stammered as the younger gentleman stepped next to him and picked the box up. He observed, swallowing from nervousness.

“‘Sup, Gen? Ya recognize it?”

At Ibuki-douji’s sudden interjection, Rinnosuke swiveled his head, spotting the girl with a much smaller music box on the palm of her hand, turning it by pinching the handle with two fingers.

“That’s the thing: I don’t,” said her partner, drawing Rinnosuke’s quick attention again. The magician turned the iPod over in his hands, squinting at the text near the bottom of it.

“Could it be...? No... You understand what that text down there means?” Rinnosuke asked. He had a sinking feeling in his stomach.

He could read a bit of English and so knew a little of what was said on the back of the tool, such as its point of origin (China, though it was designed in a place called California by... an apple—perhaps a nickname or business name?), but there were numbers and words there, as well as symbols, that were essentially total gibberish to the Gensokyoan man.

“No, it’s all gibberish to me, aside from knowing Apple made it, of course,” replied the boy. He squinted, holding his chin. “I was hoping the year of production or copyright would be back here, but looks like it isn’t... A forty gigabyte model that looks this slick... Which generation is this?”

“Um,” Rinnosuke began, a bead of sweat crawling down his forehead, “copyright? Gi... Giiga... baito? What? Generation?”

“This is insane. It somehow got in here after I did, Miss Suika.”

“It happens once in a while, but that really is nuts.”

“Hey, wait, wait a second,” Rinnosuke interrupted, his posture now somewhat slouched, his hands raised as if trying to physically grasp an understanding, “you, what on Earth are you?”

Gen brought the iPod close to his chest and met Rinnosuke’s eyes. “I’d say that you seem trustworthy enough, Mister Rinnosuke. More importantly, Sakuya wouldn’t have sent me here on a shopping trip if she was concerned about my safety... ha, well, when it comes to the Mistress, that’s first priority. She wouldn’t send me to my death on an errand for Mistress Remilia.” The boy chuckled again, looking off in thought. Rounding his gaze back to Rinnosuke, he revealed, “I’m from the Outside World.” He straightened his back a little. “I’m an Outsider.”


Rinnosuke felt like reality had broken for him. As the proprietor of a store primarily dealing in Outside World goods, perhaps a genuine Outsider’s appearance should have been expected at some point. But, there were some things to keep in mind. For one: the majority of Outsiders either died shortly after entering Gensokyo or they left via Reimu’s Shrine. For two: they did not tend to settle in Gensokyo, and if they ever did it was in the Human Village. A human Outsider, living in that Devil’s mansion? Capable of magic? And, most importantly...

... he hadn’t had any interest in Kourindou, despite having been in Gensokyo for over a year!?

The owner of the secondhand artifact store was deeply, wickedly affected by this. Was his store’s reputation so poor that this Gen had decided against shopping there? Or was it that Outsiders would consider his Outside World goods to be... quaint? Truly junk?

He thought he was an expert on Outsiders and their world. Even with the good news that the “iPod” was indeed valuable, he was finding this horribly difficult to take in.

“Er... are you alright, Mister Rinnosuke?” Gen asked.

He tried to answer, frowned, looked askance, then looked miserable. He wasn’t.

Gen moved to whisper behind his hand. “Miss Suika, something’s wrong with him,” he said.

Ibuki-douji, still testing music boxes, told him plainly, “He thinks he’s an Outside World expert. He’s probably upset that you never thought about going to his shop, even though you’re an Outsider.”

Why on Earth does she know that!? Rinnosuke was flustered.

Gen said nothing. Composing himself, the store owner saw that the Outsider was struggling with what to say.

“N-Never mind it, ah, Gen,” Rinnosuke urged. “The iPod... you are interested in purchasing it?”

“Mister Rinnosuke, I abandoned the Outside World because I have little interest in it. That’s really all there is to say about it. I’m quite dedicated to the arts, so I don’t have much time to go on flights of fancy to your store anyway.”

“‘Abandoned’?” the half-youkai repeated. “You came to Gensokyo on purpose? Through the barrier?”

“No, but I’ve stayed on purpose.”

This man is crazy, thought Rinnosuke. “Why?” he demanded to know. “Why abandon the greater world for this tiny one?”

Gen and Ibuki-douji looked at one another, then at Rinnosuke. Gen could have answered completely honestly, but looking at Rinnosuke, he surmised that he currently had his foot over another man’s dreams. His conscience, which held him always by a firm leash, informed him that saying outright “The Outside World isn’t a wonderful place, Mister Rinnosuke” would be... essentially an evil act. “I’ve found things that I want in Gensokyo,” he decided to say, fishing out the necklace and vial around his neck, “and things that I’ve come to love. I found a different life here; I can’t leave it now.” He put the vial in his grasp, looking through the glass into Remilia’s dark and precious blood. “I... wasn’t heading anywhere special in the Outside World.”

“I... I see,” Rinnosuke replied. “Thank you for humoring me. Pardon my outburst.”

“It wasn’t really an outburst...”

Rinnosuke coughed into a fist. “Well then... um, Gen, could you tell me how it is the iPod works? You see, I have the ability to understand the names and purposes of tools... but I cannot understand the ways to use them. Perhaps... my store would be rather popular if I did.”

Gen nodded in understanding. “That makes a lot click,” he said, and Rinnosuke agonized over what the boy meant by that. “First, it’s dead so it needs charging. I can’t do that myself but my Master, Patchouli Knowledge, can use lightning and other sorts of electricity in magic. As long as I tell her how much or... rather, how little is needed, I can give the device power.”

“Wait, so you’re going to buy it then?” Rinnosuke asked.

Gen nodded. “I intend to, depending on the price. Mistress Remilia would love this, and if we want to change the music on it we can just—... well, we can do something, and get that done.”

The proprietor was flabbergasted once more. “You know how it stores music!?”

“We need a proprietary USB cable for that, which is a bummer. Master might be able to circumvent that with magic. We’d also need a computer, and a connection to the Internet. In Gensokyo, even if we had the former we can’t access the latter here but... Scarlet Devil Mansion has its own routes.”

“I... I see, but—” Rinnosuke grimaced, cutting himself off and thinking, You haven’t told me how to actually use it...!

“If you’re still wondering how it works, I don’t know how understandable it would be to someone from Gensokyo but...” Gen stopped to think, putting a hand over his mouth and a finger and thumb on either cheek “think of it like... being able to connect to anyone or any business through a series of electric cords, one of which is tied to your computer. For the iPod, you buy or... find music by searching through those connections. It’s all rather organized, so finding anything isn’t difficult. Once you have your songs, they go from the USB cable into the device.”

“I think I understand...” I understand that the technology of the Outside World has advanced much beyond my imagination.

“Oh, and, it isn’t a stereo or boombox. You need earbuds to listen to its songs. You plug them in here.”

Gen indicated toward one of the holes on top.

“Earbuds...! Those things are worth something!?”

He only knew they were used to “listen”. Earbuds landed plentifully in Muenzuka where he hunted for items; so plentifully he’d assumed they were a strange, disposable sort of trash.

“Well, whether they’re ‘worth’ anything or not is... Eh, they’re needed is all. Headphones work as well. I’d prefer those, honestly.”

“Um, sorry, please slow down,” asked Rinnosuke, holding his skull with his fingertips in something of a vice. Headphones... weren’t phones, then? Certainly they had the same function as earbuds, but with their name he had assumed they could be used to communicate across long distances, like telephones supposedly could. He’d tested pairs of them on so many things... he only ever used them now on some cold winter nights as novelty ear warmers.

“Anyway, it makes more sense once it’s on; I’ll show you later,” Gen said, looking at the device in his palm again. He met Rinnosuke’s eyes, “May I ask how much you want for it?”

Rinnosuke froze up for a second, but quickly made himself seem self-assured. It was undeniable: he was out of his league. He didn’t know how much this item was worth. He could tell that even in Gen’s society, it was a luxury item given the apprentice’s reactions and comments, but... how much of one? And did he really want to give it away if it was that valuable? He’d love to use it himself, and he couldn’t be sure he could find another.

He swallowed. If he was being honest, he almost felt faint right now. This innocuous visit was turning extremely revelatory, and he hadn’t even gotten to asking the oni about her society’s fantastic tools. He tried to calm down as best he could. How much was it worth? Well...

He didn’t want to seem unknowledgeable. Even if he didn’t know how to use items from the Outside World, he still understood value. He had to believe that. He would answer the Outsider quickly. When he did, he’d tell him—


[] a higher price than he’d originally predicted. High for Gensokyo, but reasonable given its rarity.

[] a much higher price than what he’d originally predicted. This was a now or never sale.

[] the iPod was priceless. He wanted to have it for himself. Maybe... if the Outsider helped him get it working, then the boy could have another deal.
>> No. 67477
[x] a much higher price than what he’d originally predicted. This was a now or never sale.

The iPod isn't priceless if only one person in Gensokyo can actually use it. If Gen doesn't buy it, no one will, and Rinnosuke will never figure out how it works. Sell the device if Gen promises to come back and demonstrate its function once he gets it working.
>> No. 67478
[x] a much higher price than what he’d originally predicted. This was a now or never sale
>> No. 67479
[x] a higher price than he’d originally predicted. High for Gensokyo, but reasonable given its rarity.
>> No. 67480
[X] a higher price than he’d originally predicted. High for Gensokyo, but reasonable given its rarity.
>> No. 67481
[x] a higher price than he’d originally predicted. High for Gensokyo, but reasonable given its rarity.
-[x] But a bargain could be made if he agreed to use his knoweldge to help categorize items in the store.

An investment.
>> No. 67482
[x] a higher price than he’d originally predicted. High for Gensokyo, but reasonable given its rarity.
-[x] But a bargain could be made if he agreed to use his knoweldge to help categorize items in the store.

Absolutely yes. This helps everybody by giving the Mansion a lead on things coming in that might be interesting and it'll give Rinnosuke a better position with his shop if he actually knows what to do with some things.

Though keep in mind, Gen's help would need to be kept quiet for his safety. Maybe things sent to SDM on occasion for examination?
>> No. 67483
[x] a higher price than he’d originally predicted. High for Gensokyo, but reasonable given its rarity.
-[x] But a bargain could be made if he agreed to use his knoweldge to help categorize items in the store.

Going too high will scare him off, and getting their help will be much more valuable in the long run.
It's time to actually be a bit business savvy.
>> No. 67484
File 155377464643.jpg - (836.84KB, 1462x2048, perspective switch.jpg) [iqdb]
67484
[X] a higher price than he’d originally predicted. High for Gensokyo, but reasonable given its rarity.
-[x] But a bargain could be made if he agreed to use his knowledge to help categorize items in the store.

~~

~~

Gen blinked.

Morichika Rinnosuke seemed to be a bit fragile. This was a comment on his mind or personality rather than his physique (not that the tall and pale, fancily garbed man in glasses looked anywhere near tough). The Magician’s Apprentice wondered, somewhat seriously, if part of the reason Sakuya had sent him to Kourindou was to potentially greatly disturb the shop owner’s foundation. He was an Outsider after all, and Mister Rinnosuke was an alleged Outside World expert. The only way one could be an expert on another place would be if they had quite a lot of firsthand experience with it, rather than just relying on secondhand accounts. Rinnosuke clearly did not have that for the Outside World, if simple facts he brought up (such as the function and use of headphones) were completely blindsiding him.

The half-youkai cleared his throat. “Ahem... Hm. It’s thirty-five thousand.”

The human winced. Well... that’s definitely cheaper than what they sold last year for around the same price and less storage... But, I was hoping he wouldn’t be so close to the mark on how stupidly high Apple prices its things.

“... I’ll pay it,” he answered, almost bitterly. Rinnosuke narrowed his eyes rather worriedly. “Or I say that, but I don’t have the money for such a thing right now.”

“It’s yours for five thousand,” Rinnosuke said quickly, “if you do something for me.”

The boy was taken aback. Suika, without any knowledge of present-day value, did recognize that the number Rinnosuke had just offered was thirty thousand less than before, and dropped her jaw upon hearing it.

“Uh, seriously? What’s with that deal?” Gen asked, almost slouching now. “The catch has to be disgusting.”

“That relies on your perspective alone, dear customer,” Rinnosuke explained, looking now to be much calmer than before. Opening his eyes from their rested state, he met Gen’s and told him, “I’d like you to help categorize this store’s items if you want that deal.”

“Geh,” was his immediate response, complete with a notably repulsed expression. This confused the store-owner.

“I-Is it that much of a problem?” he asked.

Gen let his gaze wander around the store and its many, many tools as he answered, “I can’t sign myself up for that,” he said, “I only even have some part time work in the Human Village for when I have a rare amount of freedom to earn some spending money. The time I spend with others, I tend to spend when my Master grants it during research trips and ingredient runs, not to mention tasks I must complete. What I’m saying is, I’d have to ask my Master about that, and she’d probably answer no given how much time I’m to dedicate to her...” Gen looked toward Rinnosuke again, apology on his face. “Or she’d want something in return,” he revealed.

“Hmmm...” Rinnosuke looked upset by this.

There was another reason he had for being reluctant. From his lectures on Gensokyo’s make and maintenance with Patchouli, he had a somewhat... incredibly bad feeling about identifying many modern day tools in Gensokyo. He considered this: his Master only things from the Outside World in fantastic terms... although she had, as far as he knew, come from the Outside World—he wondered from where exactly. At any rate, the closer Gensokyo came to truly understanding the Outside World and its devices, the closer the worlds would be overall. Kourindou possessed a vast array of tools, therefore...

He shook his head.

Maybe working with the unpopular shop Kourindou wouldn’t cause a significant shift in balance, but maybe it would. Gen didn’t want to be responsible for that. With this in mind, he spoke up again.

“Hey, if I show you it working after I fix it, could you drop the price to twenty-thousand?”

Morichika Rinnosuke thought for a solid, eyebrow-twisting minute before answering, carefully and deliberately:

“... I insist, take the deal. Think of it this way:” he paused to exhale, then inhaled long before explaining, “the vampire you work for is one who’s quite whimsical, no? My shop is a concentration of many of the sorts of things that would absolutely interest her. Not only do I have things here that would interest her, but I have things that would be of use to her. If you ever spot something she might like, you would be the first to know about it, before any other customer. A certain amount of exclusivity would thus be granted to your Mistress. And that Magician master of yours: surely I have things she’d like to see or utilize as well. Furthermore if you lack time, searching for items of interest in places like Muenzuka would be dangerous to an Outsider such as you, but for me searching through the things of other worlds is more than half of my work. I can waste that time for you, and I can travel largely safe through Gensokyo while you cannot. Having a partnership with Kourindou would be invaluable to you! You wouldn’t need to be here constantly either, only whenever I’d call upon you. So? So!? How does that sound!?”

“It sounds desperate,” he replied. Rinnosuke shut his mouth as Gen gave him a pitying look. The magician put his fingers under the brim of his cap and vaguely explored his hair as he continued, “I’ll definitely talk to my Master about that first. For now, give me this.”

He grabbed off a lower shelf a small (about half a foot high), clear, rather thin tank of water, full of plastic rings coming in several colors. Two yellow buttons were apart and prominent on its red base. It was a piece of trash piece of entertainment...

But it could pique his Mistress Flandre’s curiosity.

“That? The water ring toss?” Rinnosuke was visibly bothered by his customer’s decision. “Certainly if she hasn’t seen that, your Mistress would be intrigued but...”

“There are two vampires I call ‘Mistress’,” Gen explained, pressing one of the buttons to push up water and toss the rings toward their peg goals. He met Rinnosuke’s eyes, smiling now. “One of the two would really take their time figuring this thing out.”

“I see...” Rinnosuke sounded defeated. The older man (who, really, looked to be about Gen’s age) sighed. He pinched his white hair, narrowed his golden eyes, and touched the black bottom frame of his glasses. “Well, these are cheap; as I’ve no doubt you’re aware. I couldn’t even try to pretend that these had any sort of value. They fall into Gensokyo very often, and break fairly easily.”

“No surprise there,” said Gen.

“This much.” Rinnosuke lifted his arm to indicate toward a (very low) price. Gen bought it at once.

He looked over to his partner, asking, “Suika, are you going to buy one of those?”

“Nah, let’s get going. It’s getting late.” The oni put down the music box she’d been fiddling with and started toward the exit.

“Alright then. Thank you, Mister Rinnosuke, I’ll see you again soon,” said Gen, nodding politely and following after the girl.

Rinnosuke’s face had become about as blue as his outfit now. He was almost shaking. However, without a confrontational bone in his body, the half-youkai simply let them leave. He’d have to rely on luck. Luck...

The young old man sighed once more at the sound of the entrance bell, and returned to the front counter to find the book he’d been reading, picking back up from where he’d left off.
>> No. 67485
File 155377476551.jpg - (1.05MB, 3541x2343, hello.jpg) [iqdb]
67485
~~

On the other side of the door to Kourindou, Gen stepped forward and found himself surrounded by greenery, breathing an almost poisonous air. Old trees, dead leaves on the ground, and mushrooms sprouting every which way... There was no doubt about it: somehow, he now found himself in the Forest of Magic.

[ ♫: http://listenonrepeat.com/watch/?v=HcGWNts_3BQ ]
[Necrofantasia (Sweet Melody) - Remix (Flandre-SDM)]

“... Hn!?” he stopped, glared, and went immediately on guard. He wasn’t outside of Kourindou anymore. In fact, he was not sure exactly where he was. He’d undergone this kind of sudden shift in place quite a few times back in the mansion due to Sakuya’s tampering, but never had he experienced this outside those scarlet walls. He had a feeling Sakuya wasn’t behind this either.

Before him, Suika was stood in place, her back facing him while she stared upward through the forest canopy and to the sky, blending and fading between lavender and the color of the setting sun.

“Suika, did you do this?” he asked in a hushed whisper.

She shook her head. “It’s that girl,” she replied in her normal voice. She lifted her left arm to point deeper into the Forest. With a hand on one of his spell books, he followed her direction, and saw a white and violet figure taking a few steps toward an oak tree: perhaps thirty feet away, not facing him and almost fully in profile. The figure sported a large white parasol that obscured its face, one that was decorated with red ribbons on the out and inner sides. It lifted a hand – a silken-white gloved and feminine one – to touch the mossy bark.

“You’re off the mark, you know,” spoke a voice he knew he’d heard before. “It’s not humans that changed the trees. The moss is just an ordinary moss. It’s colored a bit different from normal and its makeup is designed to survive well enough with less light, that’s all. It’s certainly the fairies’ fault that it exists and confuses passers-by, but it’s simple evolution.”

Gen began thinking of magic to utilize quickly as he addressed the woman: “Yakumo... Yukari.”

The infamous youkai moved her parasol aside, revealing better her long and golden hair – the crimson bows tied at the ends – as well as her amethyst-colored eyes and her white mob cap, festooned with red ribbons. She smiled, almost entirely with those odd-colored eyes, telling him in a lightly delighted lilt, “Ohh, you remember me? Itou Gen.”

“What are you doing here, Yukari? Are you bored?” Suika asked with a sloppy, hand-on-hip pose, entirely absent of tension. Gen glanced toward her, recalling to himself: Right, they’re friends.

But he did not relax his guard.

Yukari ignored Suika’s question and talked to him directly, looking his way in a very polite manner as she did so: her head bent just slightly in respect, and her hands posed elegantly on the nature before her and the object in her grasp.

“You met the half-human shop owner?”

“Yes,” he replied.

“That offer he gave you for the mp3 player was superb. Why didn’t you take it?”

“... You were listening? Don’t do that,” he told her with a frown and a narrowed gaze. Suika mirrored him.

“Yeah, don’t spy on people,” she said.

“Suika, you’re one to talk,” Yukari chastised airily, now pouting at her friend.

“I spy no more than the wind,” the oni boasted with her hands on her hips, raising her chin and closing her eyes. Gen turned his frown on her, and Yukari lowered one eyebrow while raising the other and smirking.

“Well if you were listening, I gave him my reasons,” Gen finally answered.

Yukari closed her eyes and shook her head. “An oni’s lover shouldn’t lie,” she said, “even if the oni in question is Suika.”

“Oi,” interjected the oni in question, crossing her arms and shooting a glare.

“... Alright, Miss Yakumo—”

“Yukari. We’re friends, Gen, because a friend of my friend is a friend of mine.”

“... Yukari,” he said miserably, his brows pushing together, “why do you think I said no?”

“Oh, you really are smart! How nice! You’re just like that pillow you call ‘Master’.”

“Quiet...” said Gen, more embarrassed than bothered.

“So you see...” Yukari began to walk their way while speaking, looking to her right (he felt, perhaps, toward Kourindou), “Kourindou and its owner as they are are... cute. There’s a similar place, in the human village, called Suzunaan... it’s a book rental shop that specializes in books from the Outside World, but nobody in Gensokyo can understand them.”

“Seems like the kid there has special eyes. She’s cute,” Suika noted. Gen didn’t know what she meant.

“Yes, she is quite adorable, though her eyes can’t ‘read’ yet,” said Yukari, now in the same clearing where the two of them stood. She closed her eyes to smile.

“... You’re worried about Gensokyo’s stability, too?” Gen asked, relaxing just a bit. Though he eased his stance, he was rather disgusted by Yukari’s presence. She felt a little like being before the Saigyou Ayakashi.

“Let me take care of the shopkeeper,” Yukari proposed, meeting his eyes. “I will get you the mp3 player, and replace his with another. If we’re lucky, he won’t notice.” She smiled again.

“... I don’t want to steal it,” said Gen. “I’ll leave the evil-doing to youkai, thanks.”

“That’s why I said I’ll do it,” Yukari replied.

“I don’t aim to be an accomplice, either. Aiding and abetting is a crime, too.”

“Gen, you’re so kind,” Yukari complimented, though she spoke and looked as if she was sad to say that. She reached into her sleeve. “When you become a youkai for Suika, I wonder if you’ll lose that kindness.”

Beside him, Suika blushed. Gen dragged his fingernails gently over the leather of his grimoire. “You’re saying that, too...” he grumbled.

“It isn’t wrong,” said Yukari, extracting a wad of bills, “and I’m not admonishing you. Here.”

She presented the cash to him. A quick count told him it was thirty-five thousand en.

“Gen, are you gonna...?” he heard Suika mutter.

“I have a lot to think about,” he answered. If he was being honest, the shift in his considerations had been happening since before he’d met the oni,

He grasped the money Yukari was offering him.

“Gen, this is the second time I’ve interfered with your life. That wasn’t what I expected when you crossed the barrier. Well... I was certain you’d end up on a dinner plate, actually.”

“I didn’t beg for your help or anything,” he said, pocketing the money. “Why help me at all?”

“Helping...? I didn’t use that word...” Yukari told him, looking a bit miserable. “Though this is helping, I suppose. I’m funding you. Aren’t I swell?”

“Because I’m your friend?”

“We’re on the same side,” said the youkai, and her lips turned up one more time, raising the hairs along his arms.

He grimaced before speaking. “You told me to be honest, so I should say: I really don’t think of you as a friend, Yukari. Besides not knowing you, you creep me the hell out.”

“Well, ignoring that first part, the second is good. I am a youkai, after all,” she admitted, looking thoughtful with her pointer finger pressed to her lifted chin.

“But Miss Suika likes you,” he continued, “and it sounds like we agree on things. I’ll try to get along with you.” He raised his hand, offering it to her. Yakumo Yukari looked down at it, raising her eyebrows and losing her smile. “Let’s keep Mister Rinnosuke and Gensokyo safe,” he said, smirking just a bit.

Yukari grinned very happily then. She took his hand, and he was not surprised to feel how firm her grip was. “Yes...” she almost hummed, “this sort of thing... is grand, no? ... No, better... ideal.”

They shook hands amicably, and Yukari let him go, keeping her arm aloft as he dropped his.

“Don’t get too chummy with her, Gen. She thinks you’re useful,” Suika noted plainly. He met her eyes and shrugged.

“That isn’t true. Gen isn’t very useful,” Yukari defended herself, slightly insulting him in the process.

“Then why’re you bothering with a human like him? Isn’t the deal that Outsiders are fair game in Gensokyo nowadays?” asked Suika, jutting her thumb his way and putting her other hand on her waist. “‘Cause of me? If you’re gonna go easy on him ‘cause of that, I won’t forgive you, Yukari.”

The eerie youkai shook her head and spoke to Suika quite seriously, telling her, “That isn’t it. If it turns out that way and I think I have to kill this boy, then I will. And, if he is to die, I will let him die... When I came across him last year, I rescued him by happenstance. The creature attacking him had threatened a resident, and I couldn’t ask Reimu to help there...”

Suika didn’t answer. She looked at Yukari and pushed out her bottom lip. Yukari’s expression became pleasant again, and she continued.

“I want to get along with him, that’s all. Isn’t it nice? Getting along with people. It’s nice to see that you two get along as well...” She chuckled, and took a step back. “Take care of Suika, Gen. She isn’t as strong as she wants to be.”

“H-Hey!” Suika shouted. A gap unfurled behind Yukari, the eyes within the new void staring everywhere before the girl entered it and it closed on her ladylike, farewell wave.

“Be seeing you... Gen.”

The gap thinned, its bow-ends slipped into nothingness, and Gen was displeased to realize that Yukari had left them in the forest.

“... I guess we should find our way out,” he said. Suika looked at him.

“Wanna talk about it?” she asked.

“About Yukari?”

“We should talk about it.”

“Nobody’s really told me about her. Actually, it kinda feels like she just... started to exist a few months ago.”

They picked a direction, and started moving through the Forest.

“Yukari’s... we’re friends, but she’s not a good person. You can’t trust her, Gen. She’s the only person I’d call a friend who I can’t trust... I’d say the only thing I can rely on with her is that she’s not really reliable.”

“How’d you become friends with her?”

“Hm...” Suika went quiet, closing her eyes and thinking to herself. He cocked an eyebrow at that. “I can’t tell ya that,” she said.

“Did you make a promise?” he wondered, tilting his head. He moved a low branch out her way while she continued to walk.

“That’s not it. It’s just pretty complicated and uh... it’s her business. If she wants ta tell ya, she can, but she probably won’t.”

“When you say it like that, I feel like I don’t wanna know.”

“Yeah, she might kill you if you figure that out,” Suika admitted. He could tell she wasn’t joking.

“So what do you think? Think she’s gonna come after me now because I made a kind of deal with her?” he asked in a playful tone.

“Naaahh, she won’t,” Suika said, shrugging her shoulders and stepping into the air to start floating instead of walking. “She probably won’t bother you much, either. She lied about being your friend, after all.”

“I could tell that much.”

“But you did something she liked; she wasn’t lying about that,” said the oni, drinking from her gourd after. She turned over and began floating backward, nearing him more and almost hitting his head with hers.

“I just got caught up a bit in something, huh.”

“Yup, but hey, you could befriend her if you tried? Ya shouldn’t though.”

They walked quietly for a bit.

As they did, Gen thought:


[] he really didn’t want any more to do with Yakumo Yukari.

[] that might not be a bad thing.
>> No. 67486
[x] that might not be a bad thing.

G A P
>> No. 67487
[X] he really didn’t want any more to do with Yakumo Yukari.
Didn't expect to meet her.
>> No. 67488
[x] that might not be a bad thing.

Getting in over his head is his second name. Well, I'm not sure if it is, but it should be.
>> No. 67489
[x] that might not be a bad thing.
>> No. 67490
[x] that might not be a bad thing.

Because of course.
>> No. 67491
[x] What happens, happens.

I don't want to clearly keep distance, I don't want to try to like... ingratiate Gen towards her.

Treat her just like everything else that can kill Gen with a small but of effort, dangerous but cordial unless there's reason otherwise, I guess.

I trust Suika here a lot when she says that Gen shouldn't be outright friends, but we don't need to be friends with someone to at least be friendly.
>> No. 67492
[x] that might not be a bad thing.

I like the way you write for Yukari, but I agree with >>67491 in general. Gen should trust the Oni.
>> No. 67493
[x] that might not be a bad thing

Gap youkai moe~
>> No. 67494
[X] he really didn’t want any more to do with Yakumo Yukari.
>> No. 67498
File 15542100026.gif - (779.18KB, 600x600, o hai.gif) [iqdb]
67498
[X] that might not be a bad thing.

~~

It took them some time to exit the forest. After they did, they returned to Kourindou to purchase the iPod (with an explanation that the magician had found a benefactor), which Rinnosuke was not pleased with. Gen said he would still ask his Master about assisting the store... but in all likelihood he wouldn’t. With the moon rising, he and his partner left the secondhand store to start heading back to the Mansion.

“Are you gonna sleep in your room tonight?” Suika asked him as they walked the open road.

“I’ll probably report back and give the girls their gifts, but um...” he faltered, slightly screwing up his face, “... I’d like to sleep with you tonight... I implied as much before we went into Kourindou.”

“Ah... ahaha...” Suika laughed with embarrassment, and quietly grasped the side of his robes.

“Oh, it’s you again.”

Gen stopped. The odd, bouncing cadence of the voice which had just spoken was distinctly recognizable. Beside him, Suika was quiet. It seemed she didn’t care.

Floating in the air a few meters before them, difficult to see as it had almost blended in with the night sky (really, it was only visible due to the lack of stars, as if they were being blocked) was a somewhat large hole in space, flying slowly over the road from the trees nearby. Gen thought it looked familiar, but wasn’t certain. He was only certain of that voice. He’d found the one who had spoken it only yesterday.

“Do you want me to set you on fire again?” He threatened, casually.

A blond head of hair emerged from the void in space, revealing that the void was some sort of sphere before the girl within spun and showed herself to be the small youkai that had tried to attack him on the Road of Reconsideration.

“That doesn’t sound great...” the youkai opined, smiling apologetically with her red eyes closed.

“That’s a shame, then,” he replied, and he released the clasp on one of his belted grimoires. Suika decided to speak up then, rather suddenly.

“Oi, oi, oi, you kidding me right now?” the oni grumbled. Letting go Gen’s coat, she stepped forward to confront the lesser monster. Glaring, one finger raised and pointed, she growled out, “I’m in too good of a mood for this stuff. If you want a fight, you’re getting a massacre. I’m an oni.”

“What’s that?” the childish youkai asked. This did not please Ibuki Suika.

With a dark smile cut along her face, eyes wide and pupils sharp, Suika brought up the claws of her right hand. Gen shivered. His new lady friend was choking the air around her, with choking too similar to the sensation of a rope around his neck. It was something humans ordinarily weren’t keen to. The youkai tree in the Netherworld, the flower youkai, and the being in the lake; forces like these were the only ones with power and emotion so strong that they had been palpable too. Suika had had a moment as well in the library, but it had felt deliberate then. It was like the gathering of strength in a fighting manga, really. On the other hand this was natural, tangible rage and – being frank – evil. It was fearful; youkai.

“Here,” Suika bid, the muscles in her arm coming to resemble a statue’s in definition, “I’ll make your body remember.”

“I—... I can handle this, Miss Suika,” he made an attempt.

“You’re with me tonight,” she answered, her tone heavy as iron and obstinate as a boar, “I’m not wasting even two minutes of my night on a nuisance.”

[ ♫: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C-YFDV-5x8A ]
[Atomic Bonsai - Strife! (Homestuck) (Joren “Tensei” de Bruin)]

The hair waving behind Suika began to wave like water. In fact, he was fairly certain while watching that the girl was genuinely becoming liquid. The ends of the strands began to mist, and the air surrounding her shimmered. He swallowed, and took a step back. “This’ll take me just two seconds,” she said, and she promptly closed her fist.

There was a crack of sound before a veritable explosion of it, wind whipping around the elder youkai enough that he was sure he’d be knocked back in moments. The air that was shimmering around her seemed to break, brightly, and Gen realized he was blinded temporarily from the spectacle. He braced near the ground while shutting his eyes and waiting to regain his sight, and in a split second found that that was very difficult, on account of the earth being mercilessly, violently rocked every which way. Several more explosive sounds went off in the remainder of the second, a veritable cluster bombing all around, and he felt dirt being splashed and peppered all over him. He opened his eyes, and saw nothing. Not due to being blinded; with light fading from his eyes, he saw that he’d become surrounded by shadow.

He had a bad feeling, and so began to incant. It was then he heard a voice at his ear, happily breathing out:

“Aa~n.”

His sweat ran cold. He continued his call to the elements, but turned as well in an effort to escape. It was then he felt the pair of hands on his shoulders, holding him from behind.

“Fire Si—!” he announced, but was stopped when a third hand grabbed the front of his clothing, the powerful grasp taking hold of his coat, vest, and even his undershirt with ease. He was yanked forward, hearing a krsh just behind him, something like steam, spraying out after a distinct, hollow, snap: a pair of things fast closing shut.

Suika was pulling him out of the shade. As her image blurred past and he was dragged like a towel rather than a person, he could make her face out for only a moment, and saw that she really was rather pissed. She delivered a weighty body blow into the black mass from where she’d extracted him, and as he slipped and planted his feet beside her (still being held) he saw that the shape was bending oddly to the punch. He took a second to look over their environs, too, and was instantly reminded, with chilling effect, of footage from American riots about ten years before. Suika had set the place on fire somehow, but it lacked any of the prettiness he tended to strive for in his danmaku. This was a chaotic hellfire, completely unlike the noble flares his Master liked to produce. With black billowing sickly to the sky from burning and almost molten pits; with crippled, crackling and spitting trees falling nearby, the young human grew concerned for the first time about what it meant to have an oni return to Gensokyo.

“Wow, wow, wow!” the other youkai exclaimed, recalling her darkness like a cloak to reveal that she was entirely unharmed. She grinned with a row of wicked shark’s teeth, excited plain as day (contrary to her abilities). “What did you say you were? Ongi?”

“We’re fighting! Shut your trap!” snapped his girl, and the temperature surrounding her began to rise. It was sweltering as soon as he noticed the change.

Don’t know what that means, but I’m not liking it, thought Gen. He put his hand on Suika’s at his front. She didn’t notice.

I’d better do something before this becomes an event. We’re a little too close to the village...

Holding his partner’s hand tighter, he made a decision:


[] He’d sneak attack the other youkai to finish this quickly.

[] He’d attack Suika to distract her, and then finish off the second youkai.

[] He’d attempt to placate the oni by hugging her from behind and pleading, in as cliché a manner as possible.
>> No. 67499
[x] He’d attempt to placate the oni by hugging her from behind and pleading, in as cliché a manner as possible.
>> No. 67500
[x] He’d sneak attack the other youkai to finish this quickly.

Dishonorable? Please. They're a pair. A duo. Just like she reacted because they were threatening him, is he not entitled to do the same?
>> No. 67501
[x] He’d attempt to placate the oni by hugging her from behind and pleading, in as cliché a manner as possible.

Holy fuck yes please
>> No. 67502
[x] He’d sneak attack the other youkai to finish this quickly.
>> No. 67503
[X] He’d sneak attack the other youkai to finish this quickly.

Suika's not in the mood and we aren't either, so let's end this.
>> No. 67504
[x] He’d attack Suika to distract her, and then finish off the second youkai.

Gen first impressed her with irreverence, recklessness, and bravado that bordered on insanity- time to remind her who she fell in love with.
>> No. 67507
File 155495099219.jpg - (203.30KB, 700x560, shadow.jpg) [iqdb]
67507
[X] He’d sneak attack the other youkai to finish this quickly.


[♫ still on]

It wasn’t the easiest thing to hide an attack under the school of magic Patchouli had taught him, ruled by incantations, but it wasn’t the time to be put off by difficulty either. If this was a youkai of darkness, then he would pierce them with light—perhaps something that would burn, for good measure.

For now, he’d distract Suika to slow her down. He pulled his clothing from her grasp (tearing all three layers out from his side because she would not let go, thus leaving an awful hole), got behind her, and while speaking his next spell put his hands into the front of her shirt, through her torn sleeves.

Feeling his hands on her chest, the oni instantly diminished the heat that had been surrounding her and she screamed at him, “GEN!? WH-WH-WHAT ARE YOU DOING!?”

He didn’t answer, of course: he was still incanting.

The youkai who sought to attack him was also stunned by his boldness. “Wahh! Human! Isn’t that too much!?” she cried, floating before them with her arms out to her sides.

“Nun lasu la teron malfortiĝi. Fosu profunde.”

“G-Gen, let go! A-A-And stop whispering in my ear...!” Though her body had gone cold, Suika’s breathing had plainly heated up.

Looking stern, the human grabbing her continued to quickly bid the elements without any pause. The youkai before them stopped looking flustered; realizing that now was a perfect opportunity to bite into the young man.

She went ahead. He let go. Suika put her hands over her chest. One of his books opened, glowing orange. She surrounded herself in darkness. He calculated his aim before the shadows swallowed her completely.

And a hole opened up beneath him, dropping him at once. Suika, noticing his fall, hid the back and underside of her skirt with both her hands. The belligerent youkai snapped her jaws at open air, and realizing the human had disappeared she let light illuminate her again, checking for him. The falling Gen rapidly spoke a second spell, knowing his aim was true.

“Sunder! Tooth of Heaven!” he yelled, and between the palms before his stomach a hot light manifested. However, an unfortunate thing happened before the tree of evil’s bane could sprout from it.

His side suffered a twinge from where he’d been struck in the morning. He winced, and his magic missed.

Mostly.

Aboveground Suika leapt away from the hole Gen had made, surprised at the potent, silvery spell that was now erupting from it. It probably wouldn’t hurt her, but from only looking she could tell it was a kind of magic designed very specifically to harm most any youkai.

“Guess that pervert’s okay, then...” she spoke under her breath, taking her hands from her butt and slouching back into a fighting stance. “... Hn?” she grunted.

Something was different.

The youkai before them had definitely been struck, and obviously badly. On the mirrored branches of Gen’s spell were red and viscid streaks, with just a bit of glistening, gooey white. Suika noted no brain matter, so the youkai shouldn’t have gone temporarily insane or anything. She’d stopped, however: fully stopped, without even the slightest twitch. She was like a colorful figure, stuck to a bizarre tree in a bizarre way: by her head—her face, with her arms wide and her backside jutted behind like she was sitting in the air.

“Huh...” said the youkai, but she continued to not move.

Suika looked at her back, feeling a glance of something both familiar and peculiar. She lifted her gaze slowly to where the damage had been done. Where the magic had speared and torn the small youkai’s cranium asunder were some floating, crimson, bits of religious paper.

How hadn’t she noticed before?

[ ♫: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hPBt-sMkYU8 ]
[妖魔夜行 - Scarlet Inferno (PHOENIX Project)]

“Ohh... ” the girl moaned as she gently parted from the lance. Strands from the inside of her skull clung to the bright and jagged pillar, glinting scarlet. Smoke and shadow seeped out of the cavernous wound.

The ribbon in her hair was never cloth: it was in actuality a Shinto seal.

The trace Suika had felt was familiar was the unrefined and primordial power of the night.

The youkai gave a shout: “Ah...! Isn’t this nice!?” And darkness rushed out around her, quickly consuming all light that could be, from the earth to the sky.

“Tch!” Suika spat, and she leapt away from a rapidly expanding swirl of the oldest element. She stopped her retreat, however, when a pang of concern shot through her heart. “Ahh, crap,” she muttered, and she jumped into the blind, intending to slip under the youkai before her.

“Hey, Ongi,” said the youkai from somewhere in the dark, “and human; I wanna thank you. That’s really been such a pain~.”

Come on!

To thank you, I should tell you my name.”

Suika felt around for the edge of the hole Gen had made, and saw that the shining spire was fading and splintering in front of her. She spun over the pit spread-eagle and called on her inborn ability.

A pair of eyes glowed above her.

Scatter!

The shadows parted, but not as much as the oni had wished for. Between what manifested as ink-stratus clouds, she saw the blond child’s three-fourths face grinning at her. She felt in her stomach the curdled and instantly recognizable feeling of black magic, running her through. From the girl’s arm was a jet-colored spike, stabbed directly into and out the oni’s core.

The youkai narrowed her eyes blissfully and hissed: “It’s Rumia...”

Ancient blood crawled down the spike, down to the tip where it fell in a heavy drop. In a moment, it struck the human below on his cheek, and he assumed it was some of the unburned stuff from inside the youkai he’d attacked. With his hand on his side and his gaze aimed up, he saw at once that that wasn’t the case.

He steeled his mind, and began to ready another spell.

Above, Rumia looked to her left as her eye and skull slowly regenerated, looking at her shadows stuck in the air. She noted to the oni she was spearing: “Eeeehhh? When that seal was off before, there wasn’t aaaanyone who could hold back my darkness. Ongi are...” she trailed off, meeting Suika’s eyes and showing her fangs in an open smile, “... kinda strong, huh?”

Suika gripped the youkai’s upper arm, made a fist, said, “Oi,” and smashed her knuckles against the right side of Rumia’s smug face.

With the wallop, Rumia was blasted into the woods, sand and dust rippling from the force and speed before she exploded somewhere within, presumably having hit a thicker tree or a boulder after smashing through smaller sorts. But, she did not go with her arm, which Suika had held by her nails. The arm was torn off and left as a bloody weapon stuck in the oni’s belly.

The elder youkai went to the side of the artificial hole in the earth and loosened the arm by moving some of the mass of her body that was around it away. She pulled it out, held it in her hand, and looked at the hole going through her with a frown.

It was then that Gen scrambled out of his pit, falling toward Suika the instant he saw her. His eyes were wide and pupils narrowed. He held his hands out near the new opening on Suika, gaping and obvious there.

“Su-Sui... Sui, ah—!”

Suika saw that he wasn’t able to talk. She looked at him sideways while taking a knee and still frowning.

She pointed to where she’d been impaled, and Gen watched as her body and clothing smoothly reformed. Suika gripped her stomach, and then her gourd.

“Listen here, boy:” Suika began, taking a second to bite the stopper off her gourd’s mouth (she then spit it out), “an oni’s not gonna get taken down by something that pathetic.” She then drank with her head back, holding the arm over where she’d been hurt and swallowing everything presently inside the infinite container. When she was done, she made to look at his worried face more directly, addressing him again, “More importantly, you. Did you get hurt at all there?”

Gen had to gather his thoughts before shaking his head. Suika threw the arm on the ground, the spike shape of it returning to a white-sleeved, bloodstained, child’s limb. She then pushed her hand down over Gen’s hat and head, bowing him. “Then quit freaking out now,” she said, pointing at him with her sake-holding left. “Get it together. That fight isn’t done.”

The arm in front of them turned into shadows and lost its form. The forest out ahead of them burst suddenly with a blaring, discordant sound and waves of black energy, like half a hundred malignant geysers had gone off all at once within the wood. Suika stood to her max height, and Gen followed suit beside her.

“Sorry,” she said, keeping her eye on the bleak miasma now oozing out of nature. “I got really carried away.”

Gen looked at her and held his gaze, then straightened up to stare into the building shadow. “Am I going to have to expect that a lot from you?” he asked.

“Yeah, you went and courted an oni,” she said.

“Hmph,” he huffed. He then smirked, saying, “Let’s see some of that passion in bed tonight.”

Suika’s grimace deepened, and she answered, “... I’m going to beat you the hell up in bed tonight.”

The shadows swirled in a conic shape, pointed towards Heaven. At the tip was a cross, shining red at its center.

“Well then, I ought to tell you that I hit that seal in her hair because you hit me this morning,” Gen mentioned, opening a few of his grimoires. “Hm... it was a seal, right?”

“You know why I hit you!” Suika snapped.

The sky filled with orbs of white, some half-hidden by lingering darkness.

Gen donned a soft smile and told her, “... I just can’t help myself,” before flying off to the right, his whipping coat catching her eye before slipping out her view.

“...” Suika quietly grit her teeth, not wanting to admit to herself that she felt the same. Not here. Wasn’t this serious?

She stayed put, and waited for the unsealed youkai to come to her.

Rumia drew up her darkness out of the Forest of Magic, and with it came a low hum of power, vibrating the teeth and skin. She threw her arms out ahead of her and cast it as a pall over her opponent. Suika drew a fist back, and uppercut the sky. The air thumped, and shook. With this, in the next second, the darkness split in half, then all fell away in wisps.

“Dealing with this is nothing,” Suika declared matter-of-factly, still holding her fist in place.

“Is that so~?” asked Rumia, who Suika realized was now beside her and lurching out of a stream of shadow that was falling down to the ground. Suika looked rather annoyed, and quickly grabbed the girl’s face.

“You’ve gotta...!” Suika began, lifting her arm up and tugging Rumia out of the shadow. “Respect your elders!” she shouted, and slammed the uppity youkai down with a fair fraction of her strength. The earth shook like the plates below had shifted and the girl made a crater. She bounced, and crashed back down into dirt like a ragdoll. Rumia immediately began to disperse into shade, and Suika hopped over her body, aiming a clawed hand at the child. Her shape was thus retained, and she in place along with it. She forced her head to the side to see what Suika was doing, in time to see the oni dropping her elbow against her spine.

“Gh—! Ah—Oooowww!!” the youkai yelled, for with that impact her back had broken and the ground beneath her too, fracturing like a fault. She dragged her fingers forward, not caring about the soil accumulating in her nails, and realized she didn’t feel her legs. She looked behind herself to see that her back being “broken” meant that it had broken the upper half from the bottom. Suika knelt beside her and lifted her hands to continue. Rumia looked where the oni’s shadow was being cast, and melted into it.

From the cracks in the earth, darkness flowed like a flood of water—like a wild and wrathful black fountain. Suika began to push it aside with her own power, but this Rumia had gotten either smart, or desperate. Darkness was coming almost randomly in waves, obscuring her vision as the youkai took potshots. It wasn’t a simple matter to gather or dismiss it, because it wasn’t centralized at all. If she gathered it all at once into a sphere to be disposed of, Rumia made sure to hold some shadow away for another round. She pounded the oni with the bullets she’d gathered earlier in the sky, cut at her with her power, and generally acted a nuisance: one Suika had to (angrily) admit, was formidable.

The field brightened.

In the sky, before the moon, her lover was weaving light thoroughly and beautifully. From his hands, white color was drawn out almost like the waves of old block paintings. She didn’t stop to appreciate; she pushed her hand into a nearby puddle of shadow, willing Rumia to her grasp, then yanking her out again. At this point, Suika acknowledged that the child was indeed, at the least, battle smart.

Rumia became the absence of light for a split second, enough that Suika couldn’t grab her. She hid in Suika’s shadow again, and when the oni tried to draw the youkai from the black behind her it slipped to the shadows under her feet, then to the pit nearby, out and into the woods. Suika concentrated and jerked the “shadow” out of the forest in a show of fantastic and dark wonder that gave Gen above pause, only for the youkai to dive out of the resulting void-avalanche into a crack underfoot. Gen concentrated again and maintained his light, which now danced slowly like strings in water. He was no longer able to see what was happening clearly, and so didn’t notice that Rumia had impaled Suika again: through her spine now.

The youkai spiraled out of the wound looking only two-dimensional, and she split the spike of darkness running Suika through in twain to lock her in place. From there she entered the black of the sky, and unbeknownst to Gen came for him directly.

Suika was meanwhile regularly whipped against the eyes with blindness, not even knowing what the youkai’s new target was.

Rumia swam carefully to her prey, not wanting to alert him. His light was decent, but the kind of shadow she controlled wasn’t something light could easily dash away—not if she wished that it didn’t.

It had been long since she’d had a taste of power.

It’d been fairly long since she’d had a taste of human.

She neared the side of her target, his exposed, waiting belly. She opened her mouth, and kept it open frozen as a gohei struck fast against her face.
>> No. 67508
File 155495105328.png - (878.22KB, 1536x819, not today.png) [iqdb]
67508
[ ♫: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hPBt-sMkYU8 ]
[少女綺想曲でメタルっぽい何か - Tokushu Gensokyo (O-LIFE.JP)]

“Hey.” Reimu said, keeping the Shinto staff firm to the youkai’s visage as she glared with utter contempt. “What the hell do you think you’re doing just outside the village?”

Gen looked down at his side to the two little girls that were there. Realizing how close that had been to a dead end, he swore under his breath.

Reimu meanwhile looked at the youkai trapped against her weapon closely. Specifically, she looked at the youkai’s hair. When she heard Gen’s curse, her eyes darted to the older boy. “Don’t get upset over this,” she said. “Turns out this girl’s not someone you should be fighting.”

She pulled her gohei back, and before the angular paper tassels from its top could fall, her left arm flickered. Rumia bared her teeth in a grimace, then felt something stabbing through her chest. And her arm. And her forehead. Her chest again. Her legs... She looked down and saw needles inside of her, then became aware that she was being rocketed back.

“Don’t waste your life tonight, Gen,” Reimu ordered, and she dropped into a gap opened under her, reappearing quite a distance away and giving chase to the strange youkai.

Gen stared after her, then squinted. He blinked twice, and shook his head violently.


Down to ground, Ibuki Suika was freed from her second round of impalement, and rather irritated at the fact that she’d been so thoroughly damaged twice by a being that wasn’t an oni. Old-fear youkai like this “Rumia” tended to be like that... Simple, timeless fears gave forth to simply absurdly powerful youkai. This one had been sealed, also simply, but very effectively. When she thought about it, she wondered if even she could have undone the binding spell that was in that youkai’s hair. Only a human could’ve dealt with it, probably.

On that note, she looked into the night sky. She’d felt Reimu coming, and now there was a dazzling battle in the night sky of auras, lavender rays, glowing orbs and patterned ofuda. Darkness was there too, but Reimu seemed to be cutting barriers through the heavens, opening gaps to confuse the battlefield and generally manipulate a win here. Shadow was awkwardly severed at angles and swallowed by the tears in space. Cheating, really. Well, the human had to. Loathe as she might have been to be honest about it: Suika felt her hands couldn’t actually stop that youkai, not without killing her. That would’ve pissed Yukari off, for certain. She’d definitely forgotten for a moment but, the age of death was over.

“Hn...! Gen...” she noted the magician’s apprentice descending slowly a bit away from her and started stepping toward him, gathering the plug of her gourd with her power along the way.

Gen stopped on the ground with a start, holding his hands aloft. His back was turned to her, and she reached up, intending to tug at his coat. He spoke before she could do so.

“Hmph, that smells nice... It must be Suika. Is that you, Suika?”

“Huh?” She was puzzled, letting her hand stop aloft, fingers held awkwardly.

“Yeah, it’s Suika. Hey, look,” he said, turning and pointing at his face.

Suika felt her face going pale, and her heart sink.

Behind him, in the skies above, light burst all around to signify the close of a spell card duel. She saw the dark figure of Rumia fall into the trees, and Reimu draw a gap beneath herself again to follow. Gen, unchanged, told her plainly:

“Looks like that cheeky brat of a youkai made me blind.”

Gen’s eyes had become entirely black, glassy. Suika looked into them, and felt ice flowing through her veins.

Her mind went into a rush.

What do I do?

Wh... Why’d I let happen...!? I knew that unsealed youkai was too much for him!

Oh no no no. No, man...! His Master! His Master’s gonna be pissed!

Isn’t that perm—? No! No, sh-fu-cra—crap! Crap!!


She stood on her tiptoes and balanced by keeping her left hand on his stomach while she waved in front of his face. Gen didn’t react to her hand’s closeness to his face, but did flinch at her touch and general proximity.

Gen...” spoke Suika in a cold voice, “that was a youkai of darkness... Wh-What the heck do I d-do?”

“Whoa, you’re panicking, Miss Suika?” asked Gen with a smile, now closing his eyes.

“D-Don’t take this so lightly, boy! This isn’t like your tricky magic stuff! That’s... That’s a curse!

“Ahh...” he muttered. “Then can’t Reimu take care of it?” he asked.

Suika shook her head.

“I-I-I’ve seen that before and it wasn’t a shrine maiden’s problem to fix, I... I’ve never seen it get fixed.”

“Uh...” was Gen’s response. His humor had rapidly, entirely faded.

Suika took a step away from Gen, but now held his clothing with both hands. She looked at him while hearing her heart in her ears: incessant, loud, sickening, too troubled.

She didn’t know what to do, but in the face of that...

... she had still not completely acclimated to trying to make the impossible possible. Even after everything she’d gone through, and her life had been so long that what she’d gone through could healthily fill several historical texts.

Ibuki Suika was at a loss.

And in that loss—


[] she did the first thing that came to mind.

[] she succumbed to panic.

[] [Write in.]

++++++++

image sources:
https://danbooru.donmai.us/posts/1199367
https://gelbooru.com/index.php?page=post&s=view&id=3690155
https://danbooru.donmai.us/posts/1813587
>> No. 67509
[x] she did the first thing that came to mind.

Oh fug
>> No. 67510
File 155502436640.jpg - (189.87KB, 634x697, image.jpg) [iqdb]
67510
[x] she succumbed to panic.

is that so~?
>> No. 67511
[X] she did the first thing that came to mind.

EX Rumia?
>> No. 67512
[X] she did the first thing that came to mind.

EX Rumia?
>> No. 67513
[x] she did the first thing that came to mind.
>> No. 67514
[X] she did the first thing that came to mind.
Another defeat! Don't worry, you'll eventually do something Gen... After you become a youkai.
>> No. 67515
File 155542147789.png - (92.47KB, 488x486, upset oni.png) [iqdb]
67515
[X] she did the first thing that came to mind.


“Open your eyes!” yelled the oni. Her human did just that, with a stern and ready glare.

She held her hand in a claw before his eyes. When I last tried fixin’ this, she thought, a bead of sweat running down her forehead, I tried pulling out darkness, night, shadow, even “blindness”...

I could never pull it out. Whatever the stain was, it wasn’t called by any a’ those names... But what if... What if I tried to gather light back to the eyes instead? Adding instead a’ subtracting...


She frowned, and focused.

The marks on her fingers ran with something vibrant and white, swirling the unique patterns there. Out of the trees walked Reimu dragging Rumia behind her by the collar. An ofuda was tied in the unconscious and beaten blonde’s hair.

Come back!!

She extended her digits toward his blackened eyes, and the light lifted sharp and thin off of them. They swirled into his sockets and he made a face of confusion, one eyebrow lowering. She looked at him carefully, concentrating through waves of sway-inducing intoxication. She waited as the spheres in his skull crawled with bright lines, waiting to see the color in them again. When she began to—when the shade covering them began to lift off so thin she suspected it lacked any depth at all—she quickly withdrew the light into her right hand. Something like black paper began to flit out from under his lashes. Before the cursed shadow that was on his eyes could escape, she pulled it to her left hand.

Gen, who could now see perfectly, blinked and winced as he watched Suika smash her palms toward each other, the dichotomous elements between them fighting one another in a microcosmic war. She forced them into armistice, and the result was a strange object: a small, evil-feeling orb attempting to lash out from a cage of morphing light, floating in the cage that was her hands. It reminded him of a cabochon obsidian gem, but with an unstable form that the light was reining in. All he could do was wonder, Could I hold that?

“It’s done...” said the oni, not raising her head.

“Thanks!” he offered with cheer. He quickly wiped the smile off his face, however, when he realized cheer was not what his girl needed right now.

“... Hic.”

She made a noise, and her shoulders bounced. Reimu, who was fairly close now, frowned more than she was already frowning. “Gen, take care of your girlfriend,” said the little girl with a hand on her hip. She lifted the little youkai in her grasp to her side, saying “I’ll take care of this one: punish her a little more, and I’ll punish Suika later for acting out of order.” She floated away from the earth and gave him a tired look. “Haahh...” she sighed, looking to the east. “Seriously, youkai are such a pain.”

Reimu flew off, and Suika burst into tears.

“Uuuu... Whyy...? Wwwhyyyy’d I dooo thaat...? I-I-I—...” she hardly managed these words while Gen fretted before her, his hands held up and serving no purpose. Suika wailed and cried, her tears pouring down her face like twin waterfalls. Her eyes were shut, her mouth was wide, and her head was bent back. Gen felt his heart racing in the worst, most desperate way.

“Miss Suika... Miss Suika! Don’t worry about it! Like you said, you’re an oni! That’s only natural!” he insisted.

Yet she protested, “No id’s nodd! Hig... Id—Id’s not for mee...” Gen wasn’t quite sure what she meant. “You coulda been blind! You coulda been blind ‘cause of me!”

“If you hadn’t fixed it, my Master would’ve,” he assured her, slouching over the broken youkai. “And if she couldn’t fix it, even if she could, no matter what the case the fault was my own for not recognizing when things had gotten out of my league.”

“You don’ ged id!” she pointedly refused his attempt at reassurance, balling her fists. He opened his mouth to ask her to clarify, then, but she seemed to shut down. She grabbed and tugged futilely at the hair atop her head, moaning long in despair. He looked down at her almost stunned. There was some sort of nerve this whole situation had touched. He would definitely have to find out what nerve that was.

But not now. For now, Gen walked behind Suika and grabbed her under her horns. He could lift her easily, and due to her overwhelmed emotional state she didn’t even notice what he was doing. With a frown on his face and a furrow on his brow, he stomped toward The Lake with Suika before him, who continued to express her anguish into her hands, into her forearms, or into the balmy, open air.

~~

The time he took until Scarlet Devil Mansion’s gates shone dull on the evening horizon changed absolutely nothing. Suika cried the entire way as he carried her, clutching the frozen curse in her fist all the while. He was thankful, at least, that her powerful voice was most definitely acting as a ward.

“Higg... hku.... Waaahh...”

She was truly miserable.

“I’m an iddiod...”

Gen felt absolutely terrible.

Of course she’d recover from this, no person ever didn’t from a good cry (youkai or not, surely), but that he couldn’t seem to help very much bothered him. What did he have to do? Give her a hug? Tease her? These sorts of gestures just seemed shallow. This person who he was coming to love had a wound in her heart. Of course he wanted to heal it.

“...” The young man silently marched, thinking about his options.

... He came to the conclusion—


[] that he’d take her into the Mansion
----[] and sneak her into his room.
----[] and bring her to Sakuya, who was much more used to handling miserable and all-powerful youkai than he was.

[] that after going to the gate and handing off his gift, he would spend the night doing his best to impress her.
>> No. 67516
[x] that he’d take her into the Mansion
----[x] and sneak her into his room.
>> No. 67517
[X] that after going to the gate and handing off his gift, he would spend the night doing his best to impress her.

This time we will ask permission of course.
>> No. 67518
[X] that after going to the gate and handing off his gift, he would spend the night doing his best to impress her.
>> No. 67519
[X] that after going to the gate and handing off his gift, he would spend the night doing his best to impress her.

I suppose.
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