I decided to have fun and do a self-contained little something. Very likely with daily updates. And yes, as you might expect from the title, this story draws from other things. No, you needn’t have read it to know what’s going on nor in order to participate. Things should either be self-explanatory or anything that’s essential to know will get quality™ exposition to fill the reader in. The idea, as always, is to cut loose and enjoy the energetic spirit of things.
I’d appreciate comments in general, particularly when voting, as they help keep me fueled for the quick pace of things. I’ll be forthright and say that I may pick outcomes not only based on number of votes but if anything was said too. And even if a vote doesn’t win, I’ll try to work in stuff from reader comments if it makes sense to include. Not to mention that, in case of a tie, I may go with whatever reasoning in the comments that seems the most fun. So don’t be shy and say whatever comes to mind! Feel free to reply to your peers. The idea is to encourage engagement instead of just going through the motions. Anti-democratic, I know, but whenever you get around to writing a silly story with fast updates, you’ll get up to make up the rules.
A yawn forced itself from my mouth, catching me off guard. A pleasant nap would have gone a long way before we set out but there was no helping it anymore.
“Look alive now!” Suika laughed and poked me in the ribs as she passed up ahead of me, her steps quick and bouncy. It amazed me that she was so light on her feet, given the large pack she carried on her back. It looked like she was carrying half of the camping supplies all by herself without even so much as breaking a sweat.
As if guessing my thoughts, she began to whistle a cheery tune as she zoomed to the front of the group. A drinking song, really, but the others didn’t know that. They seemed to find her good humor infectious and, all across the staggered column, conversation and laughter sprang forth.
Despite feeling just a little touchy … because reasons, a smile bloomed on my lips as well. Yeah, Suika had it right. It was a lovely day and, even though we had started out at the crack of dawn, I wasn’t feeling that tired. It was impossible to feel tired surrounded by nature like we were, with the deep green of the forest providing refreshing shade from the ever-intensifying sun. As we had stopped going uphill some time ago, the going wasn’t too bad. We’d arrive sooner rather than later.
I tugged at the straps of my own backpack and shifted the weigh a little more on my right side as I had been favoring the left for the last half hour. As I wiped off a little bit of sweat that had trickled down my brow, I briefly made eye contact with a very indifferent young lady. It was clear that she was super indifferent because she made a show of turning her head and pointing her nose up towards the sky. A preposterously out-of-place haughty gesture.
Marisa, who was walking besides the person who couldn’t care any less about me, caught the little exchange and offered a silent giggle, one that also seemed to say, “Oh, looks like there’s trouble in paradise.”
I proffered a grin as a reply, one that I hoped said, “That’s just the way things go.”
I let the distance between us increase a little as I fell back into the rest of the group. I watched as Suika enthusiastically led from the front, having fallen into a conversation with the now-scowling class rep. It seemed like Reimu was wasting her breath by telling the troublemaker to be on her best behavior. She must have seen the stupid expression I was making as she stuck out her tongue at me before getting back to the one-sided conversation with Suika.
The perceptive Marisa caught that one too. With doe-like eyes, she seemed to tell me that she was still on my side no matter what the others thought. Or maybe not. Tossing in an impish wink, she turned to her neighbor, very clearly meaning to talk about me and find out what was going on.
I fell back further, deciding to enjoy the soft breeze that blew up from ahead. The rest of my classmates seemed oblivious to the whole exchange. They were excited. And who could blame them? We were almost there, after all. A few days all by ourselves without having to worry about work and study at a secluded camp. Not only was the area around the lake beautiful but the night sky in the area was famous for being clear, seeing as we were sufficiently far from the city. Star-gazing and … if I recalled correctly, a meteor shower would likely happen in a few days. A pretty special occurrence. And opportunity.
I stopped walking and stood off to one side of the trail. I pretended to take my duties as a student representative (or would-be one) seriously, acting like I was doing a headcount and making sure that everyone was still with the group.
Kaenbyou narrowed her eyes as she passed, offering a silent (and rather self-satisfied) rebuke. She saw through my bullshit. She spoke to her friend, Okuu, quietly, conspiratorially, likely meaning to get my goat.
By contrast, when Kagerou passed, she looked uneasy and didn’t even seem to notice me. It was a little too warm for her to be wearing a sweater, I thought.
A group of boys followed Kochiya and Kawashiro, not really getting the hint that they were basically eavesdropping and being rude. Behind them were a few of the newer transfers, like Yamashiro, who looked to be in their element and were fully dressed in outdoors clothes that looked similar to combat fatigues.
Way behind everyone else were some of the newer “troublemakers” that had horned in on the shtick I had going on with Suika. That is to say, being lovable rascals. Or, according to certain prudes, being delinquents. While I could claim to be a free spirit that was just misunderstood, they leaned into their image a little too hard, having “lackeys” and making all sorts of nonsense declarations about territory.
“And another thing, Kenji,” one of the “bosses” snarled as she passed by, “I’m counting on you to be on your toes. No telling what sort of nonsense the others are going to try to pull at camp”
Cleverly, I avoided making eye contact with any of them. Audaciously, I turned my attention to the riotously short skirt Aya had chosen to wear that day; there was a good visual contrast between her slender, pale, and shapely legs and the dark pleated material. Wisely, I only stole sidelong glances, pretending to still be doing my duties and watching over the group while admiring Aya’s nimble movements and how she effortlessly went back and forth between groups. She prided herself on being clued-in on everything that went on and was almost always hard at work. I watched her as she happily snapped countless pictures of the group, surely intent on squeezing out as many stories about our trip for the school paper as she could later.
With another yawn, I decided to get a move on again. I was looking forward to making it to camp.
 Return to the front and merrily help lead the way.  Catch up with Kochiya and the rest from the other classes.  Hang back with Aya and see if she has any juicy info to share.  Tenshi option
Ah, you beautiful, beautiful man. I'd harboured a wish that the relevant story might return somehow, having never given it the fair shake it deserved when it was running. Well, I'm here and shaking now.
>indifferent [redacted magician] Woah, there, slow down. I can only get so erect.
>lake foreshadowing I'm onto you, bud.
If there's no 'jump in the lake' vote, I riot.
>Kagewoo I wonder if [redacted MC] will develop/has developed a fine enough sense to know that hairier is better.
>A group of boys followed Kochiya and Kawashiro What can I say? I like slugs and turtles.
>Yamashiro in b4 mountain ninja shenanigans
>having “lackeys” and making all sorts of nonsense declarations about territory Oh? Oh? Could it be?
>“And another thing, Kenji,” one of the “bosses” snarled as she passed by, “I’m counting on you to be on your toes. No telling what sort of nonsense the others are going to try to pull at camp” I'd like an order of sides, because mine achieved escape velocity spotting that. It took me a second, but goddamn did that hit. Bravo.
Also, I goddamn well expect some dragon-turtle and lamb. Rioting will occur if my demands are not met.
>Aya legs caw caw...
Yeah, fuck it, you hooked me. I'm going full simp mode.
[x] Tenshi option fuck you you can't stop me [x] Hang back with Aya and see if she has any juicy info to share. But, more seriously, I wish to caw caw with a crow and get the answers to important questions. For instance: where the lamb at?
By the way, good to see the newerhus are getting included, too. I look forward to a new round of youthful shenanigans.
>>69172 >“And another thing, Kenji,” one of the “bosses” snarled as she passed by, “I’m counting on you to be on your toes. No telling what sort of nonsense the others are going to try to pull at camp” >I'd like an order of sides, because mine achieved escape velocity spotting that. It took me a second, but goddamn did that hit. Bravo.
Okay, I'll bite, what's the reference there? The only "Kenji" I can think of in the context of a high-school romancey setting is the crazy guy from Katawa Shoujo (I was going to say "and the guy from Persona", but then I realised I was fusing the names "Ken" and "Kanji" together in my mind), and I don't think that's what you're going for. Was there some old THP story with a Kenji in it?
>>69176 Now, now, no need to be a prick about it. I recognised Kenji, myself; but I haven't backread everything in the story list either, so I also didn't recognise the Theater reference. I should probably get around to reading that one at some point, though.
So, choices. Front: Suika & Reimu Kochiya: Sanae, Nitori and Takane Aya: CHICKEN THIGHS & a bit of everyone/juicy gossip. Tenshi: Why is there empty space here.
Can't say I'm not tempted by the Sanae group, Nitori is always a plus in my books. But I'm gonna agree with the others and approach leg get the word on the street.
[X] Hang back with Aya and see if she has any juicy info to share.
>>69174 >>69178 Yeah, guess I should have stated that it's >>44424 but that was a long-running and somewhat complicated story with a lot happening so didn't want to scare prospective readers off by making them think that they needed to be familiar with all that. The gist of things is that it's kinda tongue-in-cheek and a celebration of tropes and school stories (with a lot of anon being anon while voting).
Oh and I guess I should add that part of the charm of ToY back in the day (at least for me) is that there's plenty of opportunities to speak to different characters and their story lines. No one vote or choice will decide that and there'll be another chance down the line usually. So don't worry about getting locked in or missing out on characters most of the time. I used to make fun of anon for that; it's a way more cumulative thing over many updates that nudges things here and there. Always a good thing to have variety and take it easy.
>>69176 >>69174 here – thank you for the clarification, I am somewhat familiar with ToY but I hadn't read that one yet.
Anyway, actual vote time, I'm going to go with: [X] Catch up with Kochiya and the rest from the other classes. I agree with the idea of >>69180 and others that it's interesting to involve newer characters like Takane.
I've got to get to writing otherwise I won't have time to later. Since it's tied and think both are fine choices and there's good reasons posted for both, I'm falling back on chance: Heads for Kochiya et al, the other is for a feathery tail.
Before too long, the group came out of the woods and onto the crest of a gently rolling hill, one that sloped downwards towards a large lake. Sunlight reflected off the blue waters made the scene a little dazzling and many in the group stopped to admire the watery expanse before them—the farthest shore seemed to be in a little bit in a haze but it otherwise looked like a pristine natural environment with only a few wooden buildings off in the distance, nestled between the trees that otherwise covered the area. Already the head of the group was well on their way down the hill, following the path towards the water’s edge.
Aya had perched herself on a large exposed boulder that was wedged between the lip of the hill and the forest. She was taking panoramic shots with her camera, a faint smile on her lips as she adjusted the exposure.
“Beautiful, right?” she spoke without breaking away from her photography as I found my footing next to her.
“Sure. It’s nice to get out of town every now and again,” I said.
At that she laughed, bringing the camera down and replacing the cap on the lens. With her usual lack of shame, she corrected the record, “I meant my legs. Caught you staring earlier.”
“They’re good too,” I shrugged, knowing better than to deny it.
“Wore this skirt just for you, you know.”
“Who can say?” she shrugged and placed her camera into a protective case that hung around her neck. With surprising swiftness, she hopped off of the vantage point and onto the path again in a single motion; neither skirt nor dark, medium-length hair seemed to flutter much. She watched as I climbed down rather less graciously; my backpack encumbered my movements and so I took my time to make sure that I didn’t trip and fall flat on my ass. Her voice was flat as expressed what to a stranger might sound like an afterthought, “I did want to get your attention at some point for whatever it’s worth.”
“… You want me to help you find something out from someone who knows better than to talk to you? Is that about right?”
Aya had asked me to work for her on other occasions, paying me to act as a set of eyes and ears as I was one of the few who pretty much came and went as I pleased. I was no stranger to cutting class and also prided myself in not being involved in any clubs. Sure, I had been press-ganged into service by an unscrupulous authority figure but that was a different matter entirely. I was a neutral party and had a knack for getting to the bottom of things, even if it was more because I was direct and stubborn rather than clever and ingratiating. Or was that the other way around? Either way, I gave as good as I got. And that got me by. Usually.
“Hm, I guess you would be cranky. Heard you got into a lover’s spat earlier.”
I laughed and placed my hand on her shoulder. The material of her blouse was rather light and felt smooth against my fingers. I leaned close to her and pressed my forehead to the side of her head. I had thought to make a nonsensical joke about her being jealous but, instead, I found it hard to hide my surprise, “Since when do you wear that sort of flowery perfume?”
“It’s all for your benefit,” she brushed me off, gently banging up against my forehead with the side of her head and taking my hand off of her shoulder. Before letting go of my hand she did smile—perhaps a little too sweetly. “It’s okay if you don’t want to talk about it, I respect your privacy.”
“Always. Not my fault you don’t understand my pure intentions.” she said. Aya began to walk down the path slowly, biding me to come along with a playful look she tossed with a turn of her head over her shoulder.
We were far from the back of the group and were basically afforded a private stroll together. I couldn’t say that I minded it much as I did enjoy spending time with Aya—in her own (admittedly, abnormal) way, she was the most honest person that I knew. If she wanted something from me, she’d ask. And if I wanted something from her, I could also ask. Terms could then be negotiated.
“You know, that girl from the track and field club is wearing short shorts. Nice legs there as well,” I tried to get a rise out of her.
“Momiji certainly caters to unconventional sorts of tastes,” she retorted, sounding overall indifferent to the provocation. Her eyes narrowed as she spotted the athlete in question up ahead, talking to one of the people in survivalist-style clothes. Pausing for a moment, her sharp eyes swept over me, sizing me up. “So, you don’t want to tell me about your own problems?”
“And see you write up an article on it? No thanks>”
“Not sure how you’re going to get what you want otherwise.”
“And what is it that I want?”
“What everyone who comes to me wants. Information.”
“I could always go to Himekaidou for that.”
“That shut-in stayed at home,” she recited that fact with undisguised satisfaction.”Besides, I’ve always been better at sussing out the truth.”
“That confidence of yours is why I love you.”
“Now who’s the liar?” she giggled, a light ripple of color coming to her cheeks. “Then again, I guess I should expect as much coming from a politician.”
“Am I really a politician if I didn’t want the job and no one voted for me?”
“As a journalist, I just report the facts.”
“Well, assuming both things are true, then our casual relationship is pretty inappropriate.”
“On the contrary,” Aya beamed, grabbing me by the arm, “it’s one built on mutual respect!”
Well, whatever else the truth might be, we at least seemed to have a mutual understanding. She was quick and incisive and I appreciated that more than I would admit to her face. And I was sure that she liked me for other reasons that weren’t purely transactional. At times we may have gotten on each other’s nerves but those were, ultimately, short-lived affairs.
“So, want me to try to get you a bigger budget from the student council?” I guessed that that was the sort of thing she’d want in exchange for information.
“… It would make my life easier but no,” Aya shook her head. She clung onto my arm and spoke quietly. It was a slightly too hot out for her to be pressed against me but I didn’t mind the feeling at all. If anyone up ahead bothered to look back, the might have thought us a happy couple enjoying a little alone time. “I do want your help with something but I’m not sure what it is yet. When the time comes, I’ll ask. I have a feeling that there’s something more to this trip than meets the eye….”
It was my turn to laugh again. Aya looked up at me, perplexed. I didn’t address it, instead keeping the thought to myself. How could I admit to her that I thought it endearing that, at the end of the day, she really did think herself a serious journalist? She’d just think I was making fun of her and counter with a barb. But, well, I was content to be one of the few to know that she really did have an earnest side and that it was pretty cute.
I hoped that none of those thoughts showed on my face. I decided to ask her about something else, to deflect for the time being.
 Was there anything besides journalistic instinct that made her suspect something more was going on?  She probably interviewed everyone when we set off, anything that would interest me?
[X] Was there anything besides journalistic instinct that made her suspect something more was going on?
I agree with >>69206's logic that this plot-y option seems more interesting and unpredictable than the more generic gossip of the other option. Though, I also think that >>69209's idea of politicking with the beast gangs sounds interesting if an opportunity comes up for it in the future.
[x] She probably interviewed everyone when we set off, anything that would interest me? Even if it's a 'plot' thread, this is basically ToY, so it'll only matter as much as Aya is concerned, in all likelihood. So, sure, probably fun to chase, but what I liked about ToY was the openness and variety — when anon wasn't going tinfoil-hat over bullshit — so I'm going to juke the bird for the moment and run at the new shiny instead.
Besides, maybe Aya heard something regarding a certain redacted magician that our redacted protagonist might want to hear.
Alright, calling it here in order to be able to write. Don't want to flip a coin again, slightly more persuaded by the supporters of the first (and maybe because I wrote a story titled Bait). The other choice wasn't really a springboard for inciting gang wars. That said, I think I have to do a better job with the wording for these, sorry. It takes me a stupidly long amount of time to think of the wording for the choices as-is.
The best I could do on the spot was a little predictable. I whispered, affecting a conspiratorial air, sure that she would be delighted at my flair for the dramatic, “Do you have anything besides a hunch? An anonymous source?”
“It’s just that things are a little too convenient,” Aya whispered back. Playing along, she stole a look to the left and then to the right and searched for non-existent eavesdroppers. She let go of me and hurried her pace, before stopping and once again turning to face me. “Just think about it, how did we manage to get the only lodgings around the lake so cheap and having to book months in advance? Didn’t you feel anything off when you were discussing this with Reimu?”
I, of course, knew why everything had fallen into place so easily. I could just give her the scoop that she wanted and she’d probably love me for it. Still, it wasn’t up to me. I repeated the same lie I had told early on, about how Suika had wanted to go out drinking somewhere different and we had decided to camp out, only to hear about a lodge that had been closed for renovations and wasn’t fully open for business. And someone overheard and suggested the cost be split … before we knew it, it became an informal school trip. Reimu had been annoyed at having to organize some of the logistics but the promise of good food had won her over quickly.
If she sensed that I was lying, Aya played it cool. As we had caught up to the group again, she resumed her previous work of observing the others and taking photographs every now and again. I didn’t mind her leaving me out in the cold, content to watch her slender figure move gracefully back and forth, blowing around the area like so many gusts of wind.
We reached the camp soon enough.
The mountain that dominated the area looked even more impressive from the shore opposite to its base. It was a large, but supposedly dormant, volcano that could be seen even from town. I knew that somewhere among those slopes, in the less craggy areas, there was a large shrine and a lake. I had gone there once years before, riding the cable car and seeing the larger lake that was in front of me off in the distance. Of course, getting there had been easier and hadn’t required a hike as paved roads snaked through valleys and foothills to reach the area.
A cool breeze came on in over the water and relieved some of the fatigue that I had felt from the trek. I began to look around and get my bearings around the camp.
There were a few small wooden cabins in a clearing by the shore that were fairly textbook in terms of accommodations. They were all centered around common areas that included bathrooms and a small lodge that sat right by the water. A small pier extended just beyond that into the lake, hosting a few small rowboats that had seen better days.
Already there were people out exploring every corner of the area, splitting off into groups and chatting excitedly among themselves. A few of my fellow classmates had taken off their shoes and were wading into the lake and laughing, drawn in by the allure of surely-refreshing water. It seemed like it was everything everyone expected and more.
From the distance, I recognized Marisa standing at the water’s edge. She was watching the others play around, wearing a large and floppy hat that was no doubt meant to keep the sun off her face and neck. Her long blonde hair spilled beneath the dark hat about halfway down her back, where it was tied into a small bunch by a delicate ribbon. I hadn’t noticed earlier but she had changed how she wore her hair yet again. As if guessing that she was being watched, she looked around, saw me, and gave a little wave, holding onto the brim of her hat with a hand so that the wind didn’t send it flying. Someone else, a girl with long dark pigtails came up to her and said something, causing Marisa to turn away and start up a conversation.
There was no sign of Suika nor of … well, no point in worrying about her when she wasn’t worried about me.
I caught sight of something unexpected as I walked towards the shore: tall, weather-worn walls and the hint of a large structure beyond perhaps a kilometer or two from our camp site where a small peninsula formed. I couldn’t tell what it was at a distance but it looked like some sort of old-style hotel or mansion but it looked abandoned or, at the very least, currently vacant. Old growth forest covered the approach along land, dark and dense.
An irritated yell came from the front of the lakeside lodge. Reimu was trying to get a few of the people who had volunteered to help set things up at the camp to help out. Predictably, they were quick to disappear from sight and preferred to play around as someone else did all of the hard work. Only one of the more helpful girls … the one wearing loud tourist-y-type shorts … had stuck around but even she was having a difficult time dealing with Reimu’s mounting frustration. Not that the frustration was unreasonable—she’d understandably rather be sitting around carefree dipping her toes in the water than having to do work. That work was foisted upon her was annoying.
If she saw me, I was sure that I’d get drafted for drudgery right away.
 Join Marisa; the lake’s siren song is impossible to resist.  Join Reimu; a little self-immolation would appease the gods.
>>69241 You're referring to my mentioning 'backtracking'? I kind of implied in my vote on the first post that I would vote for the 'jump in the lake' option if it showed up. No votes being replaced here.
>>69243 Apologies, it didn't register with me that you could be referring to something before the current vote, so I just read it like you were changing your mind about a vote you made for the current choice.
I set my bag down a few meters away from the water’s edge. I was in fairly good shape, I thought, but the cross-country hike had worn me down more than I cared to admit. At once I felt more limber and, obviously enough, unencumbered. I was enjoying the relief as I approached Marisa and was stretching my arm and shoulders when the girl with her clammed up. At that Marisa wrinkled her nose and adjusted her large hat again, guessing that I was nearby.
“Hiya,” she greeted with a smile, her usual chipper self. Her light-colored eyes turned up to look at me in the face, alight with a twinkle of irreverence. “I missed talking with you while we walked. There was something I wanted to tell you at breakfast but you were gone.”
“Um … maybe I should leave?” the girl with the dark pigtails ventured quietly, averting her eyes from either of us. She stood over a head above Marisa but, then again, nearly almost everyone did at least as much. I hadn’t met the pigtailed girl before and offered a fairly standard greeting. She seemed to be taken aback at being talked to directly and looked to Marisa in hopes of guidance.
“No need,” Marisa said with a laugh. The tight blonde braid that rand down the left side of her face to her chest jiggled—I was glad that it was still there—and she lubricated the interaction with typical aplomb, “this is the person I was telling you about. The one who helped me out in the past.”
“After you ran away from home…?” catching herself, the girl put a small hand to her mouth, thinking she committed a faux pas. Her dark eyes drooped towards to the rocky ground below.
“It’s a little more complicated than that,” I spoke up, trying to make things less awkward. Marisa didn’t really mind talking about all of that anymore but it wasn’t something that outsiders could easily understand. It was easier to be cheery and show everyone that things were alright at present. “But yeah, I helped her out. Or at least I think I did. She’s helped me back a million times over since.”
“His aunt also really an amazing person, I’ll tell you about her some other time,” Marisa chirped, broadcasting her feelings directly so that she wouldn’t be misunderstood. It wasn’t something that an outsider could understand casually—straightforward as she tended to be, Marisa also had a tenderness to her that was best understood by actions and not with words.
“Oh,” the girl said simply.
Moving things along in typical fashion, Marisa introduced the girl, “This is Narumi. She’s expressed interest in joining the magic club that I set up.”
“Ah, yes, pleased to meet you,” the girl gave a nervous bow, her conservative ankle-length dress fluttering thanks to the wind. Though I had been a little out of it lately, barely attending classes, I would have remembered a new transfer student. Her excessive bashfulness made me conclude that she was an underclassmate. I wondered how it was that she had managed to come along. It wasn’t like the trip had been advertised beyond out year.
“A pleasure,” I answered with a nod and slight smile. I was going for “nice but a little mysterious” for the first impression. I told her my name but ended on a familiar refrain, “Everyone calls me Arc. There’s no need for formality.”
“Arc has helped me get materials for my experiments. It’s not exactly easy to get laudanum these days, you know,” Marisa said cheerily. She was a resourceful person but she wouldn’t be so far along in her “magical studies” if I hadn’t also allowed her to do as she pleased at home, borrowing or asking of me all sorts of things. The less she knew how I got her things, the better, I had decided a long time ago. I just found it difficult to say no to her.
“So he’s pretty reliable…” Narumi stared at my face, as if trying to find something that had been carefully hidden away. Catching herself, she quickly added, “I mean, of course a friend of Marisa’s would be reliable. After all, she’s really helped me out of many a jam.”
“Tried the water yet?” I asked no one in particular. For the better part of the last few minutes, the gentle lapping of water upon the shore had been on the back of my mind. A few others had been busy splashing around all the while, not having bothered to change into swimsuits.
“It looks a little cold,” Narumi said.
“I was waiting for you to start playing around,” Marisa said, “either you or Alice.”
“… Well, I wasn’t planning to go swimming just yet. But I wanted to at least dip my toes.”
“Go ahead,” the blonde egged me on, “get in there.”
Taking the hint, I left the nervous underclassmate and Marisa to finish their own conversation. I took off my boots, socks, and rolled up my trousers to just below my knees. The small stones beneath my feet were smooth and cold, still moist from when waves had passed over them. I took a step and then another and was soon ankle-deep into the water. I closed my eyes and enjoyed the cool sensation.
I marched on until my shins were submerged. It was an undoubtedly refreshing sensation and, if I hadn’t been wearing clothes, I might have well continued until the mostly still waters were up to my chin. Things felt just right, like being welcomed back home by an old friend who had been eagerly anticipating my arrival all day. Whatever else might happen during the trip, I at least felt like it would have been worth it to be so relaxed, accepting the gentle homecoming.
I felt at peace.
 Share the moment with Marisa.  Think of those who could use more whimsy in their lives.
Time remaining: ::Timer ended at: 2023/11/05 (Sun) 16:00
A timer because I feel I'm being a little too inconsistent with calling things. Let me know if more time is needed.
I really need to get back to reading ToY so I can fully understand what happened with Marisa; I petered out somewhere just after she made a dash out of Arc's window.
But, yeah, pretty much guessed Narumi would be unremarkable. Hard to say much about her in the best of times. Ah well, I guess we'll get more chances for lion-dog elsewhere.
>Things felt just right, like being welcomed back home by an old friend who had been eagerly anticipating my arrival all day. Lake-san, I...
As to the vote, hmm... I think I'm going to continue to push for variety, just out of principle.
[x] Think of those who could use more whimsy in their lives. Arc is, after all, a whimsical guy who can't help spreading whimsy every which way like a pack of route-fixated anons in a heavily VN-ish CYOA.
Well, Narumi's definitely cute, but the dog would've been cuter. No matter. As mentioned she'll show up again. Probably.
Sharing the moment with Marisa when the introvert friend is still standing right next to her seems kinda mean.
So, instead I agree we should embrace chaos spice up the life of those who need it. Maybe that just means singling out Narumi instead, but that's fine. It'll be a way to break the ice if it turns out that way.
[X] Think of those who could use more whimsy in their lives.
>>69255 here. Absolute idiot move, but I realised I forgot something right as I hit reply, so sorry for the double post.
I just wanted to add that I think the timer is good. It means people know what's up and gives you whatever time you need to write. So, keep it as long as you need/want, I'd say. Have no opinion either way on the timer setting, though. Maybe others have a stronger opinion, but if you ask me just adjust it as you, yourself, see fit.
[X] Think of those who could use more whimsy in their lives.
I agree with the other anons that the variety option is more interesting; Marisa is nice enough but she has plenty of screentime across THP – including in the original ToY. With this option it is also more unpredictable what we will come across.
On another topic, I'm curious about the "mansion or hotel" mentioned in the previous update. On the one hand, its location on the lakeside suggests it might be the SDM, but on the other hand its description as looking abandoned sounds more like the Prismriver mansion, so I wonder which one it is. I think we should go investigate that if an opportunity for it arises.
>>69258 Leaning on meta-knowledge of the author here, but I'm pretty sure it's neither of those. Given everything about ToY, I'd bank on it being inspired in some way by an old eroge. At the very least, I'm pretty sure it ain't the Prismrivers' mansion, because our resident moon-man doesn't care about them. Also, the EoSD cast was pointedly given (with maybe a certain exception or two [my memory is slightly hazy]) a reduced role in ToY, so I doubt it's the SDM, either.
But, y'know, I'm sure it'll come up sooner or later, given its looming presence.
Embarrassingly, despite the timer, I've been busy and haven't been able to write properly yet. Undermined my own schedule, sorry.
But I did want to take a moment to point something out that I thought ought had been fairly obvious: this is a choice primarily about Marisa. How could it not be if the previous choice that won explicitly named her, if the whole update also involved her? To go engage with a character and then ... not is just silly. It would be a huge waste of time and foment inconsistency and reward kneejerk voting (exemplified by "I don't like X character so Y instead!"). Nothing could ever really meaningfully happen if there's no ensured follow-through. If I wasn't keeping to a daily schedule I'd consider rewording the choices and calling for another vote because it's not at all what people seem to expect. Certainly this is on me for doing a poor job in wording things. I apologize and I'll try to do better on that front in the future.
>>69260 I mean, that's not really your fault. Speaking for myself, I try to notice things when reading, but stuff like the actual context of choices tends to miss me by a country mile. I feel like I should be asking clarification... but I never know what I should ask about, because I simply don't know what I don't know. I mean, I'm not sure what the alternative is.
And just to be clear, I'm not bitching here. I just don't know what the happy middle is.
I agree with >>69261 No need to beat yourself up over it, Teruyo. I actually read it more as a Marisa vs. Narumi thing, but clearly I was mistaken. I don't really have a satisfactory solution, either, but maybe it's better to sometimes just not include a choice when the flow of the story makes sense? Just a "to be continued". Maybe you disagree with taking away player/reader agency, but that's just my immediate thoughts on the matter; because I do agree with your point about, in this case, going to see Marisa and then just going nope after we get there. I'm also just not really a fan of "voting against" characters just because you don't like them, personally. I always try to weigh all options against each other, myself. But, yeah, there's no need for you to apologise.
>>69262 While I agree that the wording of this question ended up being confusing, I'm not sure if it fits for this story to have vote-less updates, because the ToY/PoY paradigm as Teruyo explained it has always been to have small, fast updates with choices that may not have a big effect immediately but do add up over time.
>“So he’s pretty reliable…” Narumi stared at my face, as if trying to find something that had been carefully hidden away. Trying to start some shit from the very first conversation? This bitch is stone cold!
I missed the vote but I would've gone with [x] Think of those who could use more whimsy in their lives., 'cause she does seem busy with Narumi at the moment.
I think life is kicking the shite out of our dear writer, as it is unfortunately wont to do.
In the meantime, I suppose we can throw around crackpot theories about the story based on what limited info has been presented.
I think Yuyuko arranged the whole thing in order for Arc to... do something. Resolve some kind of inconvenient issue for the school, maybe? Maybe investigate fellow trouble students whilst engaging in bonding?
...well, that's basically ToY in a nutshell, but... I dunno. I'm grasping at straws.
I apologize for the lack of updates. A few pressing and unignorable things have happened in the last few weeks to me which, coupled with extended illnesses, have left me thoroughly drained of energy as well as mentally and emotionally exhausted. I didn't say anything earlier because I would have preferred to have more concrete news about resuming the story but by now any sort of sign of life is overdue.
I'll only start up this story again once I'm more or less sure that I can return to daily updates; there is a tempo to the story that is fundamental to its identity that I wish to maintain. That may be in a few days or it may be in weeks—I'd rather sooner than later but I honestly can't predict when it will be. It'll depend on external factors allowing me enough time to write as well as attaining a little peace of mind, energy, and physical wellness. Sorry once again, I know it sucks for all involved, but I hope that you'll wait warmly all the same.
I have nothing but THIS LAKE, and I want nothing more. It has been, it still is, faithful to me.
[x] Share the moment with Marisa
I mean like...she's here. She's available. Might as well bond with her a bit. Besides, Marisa gives off such powerful friend vibes that there's no way anyone would ever fall in love with her, so might as well milk this moment for all it's worth.