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File 169893915021.jpg - (106.73KB, 1500x999, PotteryWheel-56a147235f9b58b7d0bdbf7f.jpg)
The hard, sturdy, and durable nature of clay has proved it to be an effective material of construct, as seen in their usage in potteries, statues, buildings, et cetera. But, part of what makes it so reliable is not limited to just that, it is due to its ability to soften its texture when mixed with water, making it easy to change its shape as one would like.

A dampened clay, like the one I am handling right now, will lose its tough exterior trait, and it will adjust itself to comply with the forces given to it. This one is no exception. When I mixture it with little water, it makes itself easier to change its proportion. Its structure follows as my rough skin - whose texture does not contain the characteristics of plump, living, mammal skin and is relatively similar to coarse dirt - guides it to shape.

With the help of a potter’s wheel, I change the clay mound in front of me to have a broad half-circle shape with its base facing upwards, then I press its lateral sides to shape it into a torso-like piece. After that, the wheel continues to spin as I pick one scraper from my side and use it to trim the base surface, leaving a hole in its medial area while the trimmed part peels into a spiral waste.

After being satisfied with my work, I bring the chest piece to my hold and turn around to the other being in the same room as me. The woman- pardon. The Goddess in my view is busy managing her latest project, a human-sized haniwa using a warrior helmet for its head and a lamellar armor for its torso, though the latter part is not complete yet as it is still in my hands.

I close my distance from my creator, her delicate blue hair flailing in the air as she solely directs her focus to her work. She is the being responsible for my existence, the only divine that is worth my faith, the sculpture goddess that has never committed any war crime throughout her time in Gensokyo.

“Keiki, my Highness.” I bow respectfully as I show the result of my hard work to her. “I’ve finished my part. Take as you like.”

The Goddess turns to face me, wearing her green apron that serves as a protection for her clothes from the dirtiness of the workplace. “Ah, thank you.” She says cheerfully, clearly appreciating my contribution. She takes the clay torso and puts it into the uncompleted part of the haniwa. Brushing the sweat on her forehead, she takes one thorough view at the idol before setting her arms on her hips, an expression to show her satisfaction. “That’s all we can work for now.”

I feel slightly uneasy by hearing that sentence, she usually completes these sessions after giving the idol a soul for it to live on its own.

“Hey, Pawn.”

I look at her face upon hearing her call.

“Notice that we’re finishing earlier than normal.”

I observe the lifeless haniwa. “Is there something wrong?”

“We ran out of souls, I can’t bring this one to life yet.”

Putting my hands on my chin, I make sure that she sees me quickly thinking of a solution. Gathering faith from the human village will not be practical since it risks for more trouble while finding help from another god is out of the list since it counts as betraying my faith in Keiki.

“Our primary source had also stopped producing more recently, all Rafflesia in our garden were dying.”

Rafflesia, the flower that reeks of a cadaver - which trait is the opposite of the common - and is one of the only flowers in its kind that is rich in souls, rumors say that the smell comes from its nature of absorbing the dead.

"There is none left in Gensokyo, unfortunately." I give her my answer. "Though, there might be some in the Animal Realm."

"I need someone to get there, then." She hums in her thoughts. "You're one of the few people that knows how its seed looks. You've seen it before, no?"

"Correct, my Highness. Perhaps, you want a favor from me?"

"This task might be too harsh, so I understand if you don't want to do this."

I hesitate for a second. “Surely this risky mission will grant me a good reward?”

A grin surfaces on her. “What is it do you want?”

She is giving me the option here and I better not waste this opportunity. I glance over the things that will be beneficial to me before deciding on one. “I want you to promote me as your favorite pawn.”

She gives me a smile that displays her teeth. “And what about the others? Do you want to get rid of your kin?”

“They can still work as usual, I just want you to deem me as your favorite.”

Her snark grows bigger. “I’ll do you a better one. If you complete this task, I’ll make you the only pawn I use for things involving sculpture. Clay is your specialty, after all.”

That surprises me to the point of disbelief. It will be an honor to have myself as her loyal clay thrower. “That sounds great, my Highness.”

“So, you want to volunteer?”

“I surely want to,” I say in a voice that, in my quick observation, does not sound desperate at all.

“I’ll make sure of it then.” She titters for unknown reasons. “No need to worry about the role taken from you. I’ll partner you with an elite soldier as your company for the journey.”

“Just one?”

“Sadly. I’m afraid the Animal Realm residents still have their bad view on us. Bringing an army might provoke another incident.”

“That is fine, I am sure I can manage.”

“Good,” She heads to exit the room. “I’ll talk to you again about this mission. Make sure you have everything ready while you wait.”

“Understood,” I say as she leaves me on my own, joy passing down on me. How can I not feel happy? I finally got the chance to shine brighter than anyone of my kind. With this, I will prove my worthiness as her servant, I will show her my unrivaled competence and get her approval.

I, as her pawn, will prove that I’m worth of my existence.

I will earn her validation.
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late is better than never they said
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Very interesting story concept.

There's been a few stories involving "creations" as MC, but I don't remember any involving one of Keiki's sculptures, so this is pretty cool to see.

>the sculpture goddess that has never committed any war crime throughout her time in Gensokyo.

I don't know if this is a reference I'm missing or not, but the overly specific denial rather humourously sounds an awful lot like some HANIPAGANDA.

Rafflesia seed hunting in the animal realm, huh?

Sounds like some hijinx waiting to happen considering the history Keiki and her idols have with the place.

The "elite soldier" is likely going to be Mayumi?

Another character we haven't seen much of.

But then again; as the head of the whole army and Keiki's right-hand woman, she might be too indispensible to send out like this and we get assigned some other elite soldier.

On the other hand, acquiring the materials (souls) for Keiki to actually do her work sounds pretty dang important.

Waiting warmly.
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Always interesting to see stuff with Keine and the beast realm.
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Thank you for the kind words!

Perhaps one of the reasons I use Keiki's sculpture as the MC is because there's little lore for them as of now, so I can have creative liberty without disrespecting the original.

>>I don't know if this is a reference I'm missing or not,

Nah, that's just the way he thinks, don't worry about it.
and it's not like slavery is a war crime.

>Rafflesia seed hunting in the animal realm, huh?

Funny that you mention it because I was just bullshitting their reason to go to the animal realm lol.

>The "elite soldier" is likely going to be Mayumi?

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So it was Haniwa propaganda after all!




>I was just bullshitting their reason to go to the animal realm lol.

Nothing wrong with a bit of bullshit to get the story rolling.
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Granted, there are good things that stem from the bad. Our invasion of the Animal Realm is a prime example. Had the invasion never happened, the cerulean ceramic chair I'm sitting on now would have not existed, and the sunlight from the fancy window would have not shone on me either. Had it never happened, I would have no chance to enjoy the forest on my current view.

We would have never settled on the surface had the invasion did not happen.

Can I even call it an invasion, though? The whole incident started due to the many calls for help coming from the trapped human spirits in the animal realm, and my goddess, Keiki Haniyasushin, manifested to answer those calls. Seeing the condition of those poor souls, Keiki initiated making an Idol for them to pray on, which is an ingenuine play on her part because, with her unlimited creativity, she managed to make a living haniwa with just the faith of those humans.

Many people glance over the process of figuring out the design for the Haniwa, which is a shame since it is the most fascinating part of the story. Keiki managed to make a solid structure for her creation by using references from the anatomy of the human body. Starting from the framework, the sculpture goddess created a perfect one for our kind by replicating the human skeleton, with the most notable part being the thorax. Using hardened clay, she designed our chest with 12 pairs of costae, 7 of them directly sticking with the anterior bone called the sternum while 5 of them fused together to adhere in one spot of said bone. For the spine, she made small individual bones called vertebrae which consisted of a body, a foramen, a laminae, and articular processes that function as joints for each bone with each other.

Speaking of joints, Keiki also managed to make wonderful mechanisms for us to move freely. Rather than sticking our bodies together, Keiki put a simple connector for each of our limbs that granted us the freedom of movement. She built hinge-like joints for both our arms and legs so that we could flex and extend them, pivot joints on the neck for rotations, and ball joints on our hip and shoulder so we could move them freely like a living creature. Most of our joints were not covered under a layer of skin, making it barely visible from the outside.

She used fiber-like threads as replacements for our muscles. The best example of this is its usage in our carpal. Imitating the work of the biceps and triceps muscles, she assembled the string to work in synergy so that it would extend when the other string was flexing. All of which is proof of her intellect as the goddess of sculpture.

For the skin, my goddess used porcelain clay so that we would look appealing. But, because her focus on figuring out the design is mainly on the function, the first models didn’t look as humane as later haniwa. This would lead to our face only having limited facial features such as the three holes that represent the eyes and mouth of a man.

The first idol became the main model for the next haniwa to come. But upon finishing her work, she realized the need for more workers to help produce her creation, a group of helping hands that specialized in clays and anatomy for sculpture purposes. Thus, the first Pawn was created, blessed with the mind of a broad, general thought process whose main motive was to help proliferate more haniwa. The first pawn succeeded in civilizing our kind.

As time went on and the production steadily increased, the spirits of the animal realm saw us as a potential threat, and in order to fight back, Keiki made her second Pawn, blessed with a narrow, specific thought process with the purpose of designing haniwa specialized in offense, warriors that will strike the beast spirits down. The second pawn succeeded in creating an unstoppable Haniwa army.

After taking control of the animal realm, Keiki started to experiment more with her creation, and she asked for ideas from her pawns. However, she soon realized that their suggestions were either too broad or too narrow. So in order to solve that problem, she created another Pawn, blessed with a thought process that prioritizes exclusions and eliminations, a thought process whose results were not as broad as the first pawn and not as narrow as the second. The third pawn was created.

I was created.

Not wanting to lose with my predecessors, I chased for more ambitious tasks. Perhaps, my biggest achievement as of now came when the animal realm incident occurred, when the possessed humans were fast approaching our area. It was an emergency, and with the lack of actual weapons to fight back those humans, Keiki made an urgent announcement for the pawns. We were asked to think of a new design with at least one being submitted in the next hour. Other pawns, understandably, jerked their head upon hearing such ridiculous order.

I, on the other hand, went straight to work. From simple deduction alone, I concluded that the humans, despite being swift, were not as tough in defense. A regular haniwa would have been outsped by the humans. A warrior with bulky exteriors would work to fend them off. The humans' agility was also one of their key points. An army of offensive warriors would have trouble hitting them. However, an army of wide, defensive warriors would work to block their movements.

I submitted my design twenty seconds after Keiki finished her announcement, and it was mass-produced right after.

Despite losing in the end, my design could be considered a success. It even managed to chase them out, even if just for a while. After the incident, the Haniwa Army Corps - which did not suffer massive financial loss after its defeat - settled into the Forest of Magic and civilized a village of our own. Keiki even held a mutual partnership with the local puppeteer due to their love of craftsmanship. Had the invasion never happened, I would have not been sitting here recalling my past.

How long have I been waiting here?

My current order is to wait for more instructions, so I choose to spend my time glorifying history. It is certainly more productive than doing nothing. I take a view from the window and see the people of our kind busily working together. One of the retired soldiers is helping other haniwa in our village, bringing heavy logs and materials for the construction of our village. That soldier is one of the more infamous ones since she was known as the head of the Haniwa Army Corps in the past. Mayumi is her name if I recall it correctly. Her face had the human aesthetic of later haniwa, which I am not jealous of since I lack the capacity for such emotions.

From the window view, I see Keiki approaching the retired soldier before the goddess confronts her. The retired soldier halts her activity and listens closely before she nods and salutes in respect to her. She then leaves elsewhere, leaving my vision from the window. But before I can wonder what she is on about, the door of my room creaks open.

“Pardon?” The elite soldier, Mayumi, enters the room. “Keiki ordered me here.”
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i fucking spent 20 minutes of my life on a non-existent captcha
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I pointed out his thought patterns before, but I actually really like reading them.
It's hard to pinpoint why exactly, there's just something about his overly (and often unecessarily) analytical descriptions and considerations that I enjoy reading/amuses me.

Gonna enjoy seeing him interact with Mayumi.
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The harsh reality of most war veterans comes not only when they are in the warzone, but also after when they are out of service, mostly due to the fact that they are too adapted to the cruel situation of the battlefield, making them difficult to adapt to a more civilized society. Even our haniwa warriors suffer from this. Specialized for battle purposes only, most of the army from the Haniwa Corps are left behind being a burden to our people.

Mayumi Joutouguu is the opposite.

After leaving the Animal Realm, the ex-leader of the Haniwa Army Corps devotes her life to the people around her. This leads her to be one of the most well-known haniwa in our village. Rumor says that she has such good reputation to the point that she develops a friendship with the ordinary magician near our village.

“What is your name, by the way?” The soldier asks me upon walking through the street of our village. The site is not in its best condition at the moment, as most of it is still under construction.

“We do not have a name,” I answer her.

“Then, how should I call you?”

“Keiki referred to us as Pawn.”

“Pawn, huh?” Her blonde hair flows in the wind. Our faces are completely different. Her head is lively, adorned with yellow eyes and fresh lips whereas my head - which does not represent a coconut in any shape or form except possibly the arches - only has three holes as its decoration. Her fashion consists of a white one-piece under a yellow lamellar armor. In a way, her design is similar to the last project Keiki worked on before. “What are we searching for, again?”

“I believe Keiki will explain that once we get to the garden.” The stressful traffic of noise hinders my sound. It happens that the road we are following intersects with the spot where construction is at its busiest. We keep strolling through the bustling place until a cacophonous scream breaks my focus.

“WATCH OUT!” A cue of a falling massive object catches my attention. Before I can react, the path we are following is shrouded under a shadow, but nothing comes hitting the ground. I look around my back until I see the person responsible for stopping the falling object.

Mayumi holds the massive wooden log that is dropping into our area, with only one hand. She scans her back to find the source of the trouble.

“M-MISS MAYUMI!” A constructor haniwa approaches us. “S-SORRY ABOUT THIS, THERE IS AN A-ACCIDENT!”

“It’s fine.” She turns to the haniwa with a smile. “Nobody’s harmed, luckily. You guys need some help there?”


“Oh, please.” Mayumi shrugs, bringing the massive log on her shoulder. “Come on, where do I put this.”

The haniwa points to a stack of logs of the same kind. “O-Over there, Miss.”

The elite soldier effortlessly carries the massive log to the stack and puts it where it belongs. “Be more cautious next time. Not all haniwa could withstand that thing.“

The constructor nods repeatedly. “Y-Yes, Miss Mayumi. T-Thank you.”

Mayumi then comes to reunite with me. “Sorry for that.”

I get confused by her sentence, what is she sorry for? Nevertheless, we continue our path to the garden, strolling through the hectic construction site to the more exuberant forest outside our village. There, we find an aggregated structure full of creeping plants of some kind.

“Explain your visit here.” Two guard idols intervene on our arrival.

“Keiki.” I reply, “Keiki ordered us here.”

After observing us for a second, the two guards step away from the entrance. “The two of you shall pass.”

The lush scenery of the Garden welcomes us as we enter our way. The sun illuminating from the cavity above serves as the only light source of the place. The ramping growth of vines furnishes the garden’s walls. A line of static idols is present in the garden’s outline with the purpose of collecting the souls stemming from the corpse flower. In our sight, we see our creator standing amidst the four-gridded lane. We descend to the garden in order to gain a better view of the Rafflesia patches. The flower petals, despite not looking fresh, bloom towards the air, showing their rigid insides. The corpse flower ranges from 60 to 100 centimeters in diameter. Their giant size makes our effort to cross noticeably harder.

“How are you, my dear idols?” Keiki gracefully uses one of her hands to brush the petals of a Rafflesia, while she uses the other hand to elegantly cover her nose.

“We’re in our prime,” Mayumi says as the two of us bow before her. “At your service, my Highness.”

“See the state of your primary source.”

We take a brief look over the rotting flowers around us.

“Rafflesia is less of your typical flowers and more of a parasite. It spreads its seeds to nearby plants until said seeds find a host. From its birth, the plant leeches the essence of others in order to survive. This trait naturally makes them rich in the essence of life,” The sculpture goddess blesses us with her smile. “Souls, as we usually call them. Ever since we migrated here, we can not depend on the faith of the human spirits for our souls. So I have no choice but to find an alternative.”

“We’re ready to serve you, my Highness.”

“The extreme terrestrial of the Animal Realm, supported by their general rule of survival of the fittest, makes them a suitable place for the growth of Rafflesia.” Keiki clasps her hands together. “Go out your way and find them.”

Mayumi and I nod in agreement before settling back on our feet. We then head to exit the place before Keiki mentions us once more.

“One more thing. Chances are the Animal Realm still holds its history on us. Make minimum conflict.”
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Glad to hear that! It was originally an excuse for me to reach the word count so yeah expect more of these overly specific yet ambiguous descriptions in the future.
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>Make minimum conflict.

Well. Doesn't that sound like a promise we're definitely not going to be able to keep.

Mayumi is pretty badass.
Less stoic than expected when "off-duty", but I suppose that's exactly why she acclimatised so well to the new circumstances she found herself in.
A good leader should be adaptable; so it makes sense she was made to be. In every sense of the word.
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How are they going to get there? Crossing the Sanzu, maybe? Meeting a chicken, maybe? Meeting best chicken, maybe?
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Hell, or New Hell as they usually refer to as, is Gensokyo’s current and main place for souls of the damned to have their may or may not be justifiable punishment. The New Hell - which is not a place of sexual affairs for desperate people - is an entirely different place than the Former Hell, which is mostly not a place of sexual affairs for desperate people either. The Former Hell serves primarily as a paradise for the youkai and oni who live there, while the current works as an actual place full of demise.

Mayumi and I are venturing through the sanguine grounds of the current hell, seeing in action how the place tortures some sinners' souls. After nonchalantly passing through Higan - which is an experience I do not want to recall, not because the place is egregious, but because it will be a waste of my energy - we wander to the desolate horizon of New Hell, continuing our way to reach the Animal Realm.

“Let’s find shelter,” She takes a quick look at her back, stepping her foot to climb the hill we are processing. The place is full of ambient tortured screams, which is not a hyperbole, making it quite tiresome for our hearing senses. “Before the sun rises.”

The pitiful ground continues to greet us throughout our way, the sky as sinister as blood. “I am not sure of how long this would take.”

“Just keep…” She keeps scaling the ascending route before abruptly looking to her back once more. “Moving on…”

That marks my curiosity. “You’ve been doing that for the past three and a half minutes.”

“Huh? What are you…” Again, she takes a quick look at her back. “What are you talking about.”

I display her movement to her, copying her sudden twist of the neck. “This.” Behind me, I see the pile of inadequate dirt we just walked over. She has yet to give me an answer, posing to walk forward. I decide to follow her guide until we come across the peak of the unproportional ground, a profound canyon greeting us upon arrival.

“Let’s take some rest here, Pawn.” She does a sigh that looks borderline dramatic. “This journey got me real tired.”

“What?” Haniwa can not feel tiredness. “Where…does that come from…”

As I prolong my sentence, the soldier crosses her arms on her back while walking lightly in my direction until…

“We’ve been stalked.” She whispers as she continues to walk beyond me.

I am confident we have not done anything striking, yet someone is already on our tail. For what purpose? In haste, I scan my surroundings with my vision, only to find the uneven hills of rotten soil lie before me.

Mayumi puts her hand to cover her mouth, replicating a yawn while also scrutinizing her perimeter.

Perhaps, I can not take this lightly. We could have never known if the stalker was powerful enough to strike us in one swift. After thinking of a solution, I deploy one of my signature psychological tricks, colloquially known as ‘misleading provocation’. “It sure is a good time to not be followed. Hopefully, nobody except the two of us is present in our vicinity.”


A small mound of the ground noticeably shudders after my deceit. But before I could point it out…

"PwWAH!" Mayumi already got its back, pinning the stalker down with an elbow lock.

"TELL US WHICH INSTITUTION YOU are… working?" Mayumi's scorn trails off as she looks at her suspect, a creature with a winged back and a giant-sized eggshell as a helmet that covers half its head. She grabs the creature by the shoulder and lifts it off the ground, revealing its height that is no shorter than a bipedal youngling.

Still, we can not let our guard down. There must be something it is capable of considering it can survive the extreme nature of hell.

"S-So fast…" Our captive says. "They r-really weren't exaggerating about you guys."

Mayumi turns it around to examine its face, but the creature takes that opportunity.

"Fool!" It pulls out a small ball from its pocket and throws it, releasing a hideous smoke that abrupts our vision.

"Mayumi!" I call her name as the gas fills around us. As I try to scan my area, my back crashes upon something.

"Stay on guard, Pawn." Mayumi is the one pressing her back against mine. The smoke continues to fill the air while our stalker circles around us.

"The unstoppable idols of human spirits, the apex predator of the Animal Realm. Truly, those titles are rightfully given to your kind." The creature keeps her movement hidden, flying around in the smokescreen gasses. "But, prepare as you will counter a force of the hidden, where you won't even have a clue about what's hitting through your defenses!" The gas grows thinner, revealing the chicken-like creature. "Feast your eyes upon the prodigy from the hidden clan of the Animal Realm, RankpPWAAAAAH!"

It crashes upon a rock in its flight and falls into the canyon.

Good riddance. Now that our trouble is gone, I decide to continue our path alongside Mayumi…?

Mayumi is nowhere around.

"Pawn!" I hear her voice coming from the edge of the hill.

Closing my distance, I take a look at the edge of the canyon. Mayumi is hanging at the ledge, carrying the stalker with her and hugging it tightly to her body with one hand. She uses her other hand to pierce her haniwa-shaped sword on the canyon’s surface, stopping their fall.

"Ma…Mama…" It whimpers in her shoulder.

Mayumi's blonde hair brushes its face. "It's alright, you're fine."

It takes comfort in her hold until it seemingly realizes her situation. "Wh-Whaa…" Our stalker blushes as it looks at her face. "F-Fool! Y-You thought you could pity me? I-I was actually just tricking you!" It pulls out another smoke bomb and throws it to the canyon's wall, releasing another smoke. I see it flying away from the smoke right after its release. "We will meet again!" Its says in a voice that is not intimidating, leaving trails of yellow feathers behind.

“Well…” Mayumi climbs her way to the surface as the sun - whose size covers half of the horizon - rises from the corner of the horizon, turning the sky into blazing red. “Let’s find shelter before the sun scorches us.”

Apologies for the lack of updates. If I were to describe the main reason in one word, it would be "COLLEGE".
I'd try to compensate in the weekends.
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Solid point honestly. As the ex-leader it is expected for her to have that kind of "stern" personality. To put it simply, that is not the direction I want to take for my story.

Stern Mayumi would be badass tho, might actually pull that out in the future
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boy do I have some good news.
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Birds have been met, chicken will be socialised with.

Man, Pawn's such a dope, love him.

I feel there might have been some misunderstanding regarding my post.
I meant to say that I think this story's Mayumi is badass.
Because of her being adaptable enough to conform to a more peaceful life, compared to the other soldiers.
If anything, her adaptability was shown again here when she immediately switched into bodyguard-mode to protect Pawn from an apparent threat.
Both kinds of Mayumi are good, I didn't mean to sound like I was criticising you in that respect and I apologise for my poor wording if you interpreted it that way.
Besides, I completely agree with the notion that you should write the story that you, yourself, want to write; stories should be fun for everyone involved, after all.

I'm not gonna say no to possibly seeing more facets of Mayumi's character, though.
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Calimero, is that you?
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🐣 YEAHHH!!!!! 🐣
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The gigantic sun of New Hell is one of the properties that make the place infamous for its absurd heat. Like any other star, Hell’s sun has its period when it sets and rises. This is known as the night and day cycle, which is the byproduct of the rotation of a celestial object when it revolves around a star. New Hell also has its own day and night cycles, at night time, most people use Hell to travel as it connects to many other realms, whereas in day time, tortured souls are dragged around, which is what gives Hell its famous reputation as a blazing place of torture.

I deduce that Hell’s sun can not be a different sun than the one in our galaxy, because if it is, that would mean Hell is located far far away from Gensokyo, and the Sanzu River needs to be way longer than the distance we just traveled before.

From this, I speculate there might be two possible explanations for Hell’s massive sun. My first speculation is that Hell is located on a planet that is closer to the sun than the Earth, possibly Mars, which in itself is a stretch but still a possibility. My second guess - which I am more confident about - is that Hell is located deep inside the layers of the Earth and Hell’s sun is less of a star but rather the Earth’s core itself. This means Hell orbits in a tiny plane located in the cavity around the core.

Both possibilities are applicable, and both explain the burning sun of Hell that is the reason for us frantically trying to find shelter now.

“Got anything?” Mayumi covers her eyes from the sun as she looks around, searching for a habitable place. The wide expanse of red sand reflects the sun’s light, making it difficult for me to see clearly until…

“Is that a…” I point my finger at a landmark in my vision, an uneven hill with an opening in front. “A cave! Let us settle there.”

Thanking the gods above - that I mean none other than Keiki - Mayumi and I are taking a breather in this suspiciously wide cave amidst Hell’s expansive ground. Our skin is already damp enough with liquid, which is not a good sign since we lack any sweat glands.

Being exposed to the sun outright melts our ceramic exterior.

“Nothing particular here,” The soldier kicks a corpse on the corner before sheathing her sword back. “We’d reside here until the sun settles down. I’ll look around for a while, just to be safe.”

I nod in agreement as Mayumi leaves on my own. Being as productive as I can, I sit down in a nearby dirt mound and plan our arrival in the Animal Realm before a sound disrupts my contemplation.

“Kaku…” The voice comes from behind me. “Kakuuu…”

I prance before the mound - which as far as I know is not a camouflage of someone - and hide myself from the possible threat.

“Please…Listen…” It growls like a dying mammal. “Don’t…Animal Realm…”

Some words could be transcribed, but most of them are just nonsensical gibberish. I take a peek from the mound - which again is not a camouflage - and try to scan the creature.

A brief peak results in a shade of white, brown, and yellow palette. Leaning in for more details, I see that those colors derive from her jacket, her dress, and most notably her wings respectively. From this position, the first thing I see is her gluteal region - also known as the buttocks - which I thankfully have no sexual attraction towards as I lack the necessary tools for such stimuli.

“For yama’s sake…” She mutters. I suspect that this creature might be sleeping and these sounds are just unintentional grumbles. My suspicion turns out to be true as I check further on her face, a bag of gloomy folds is present under each of her shut eyes. Her yellow hair is as disheveled as unkempt bushes. In its corner, her hair changes its color to red, which part resembles a small nest.

“Don’t…” It keeps talking in its sleep. Her folded hands function as her pillow. “Don’t go…”

I close my distance to her face, inspecting her poor condition. The fact that there are no bruises or cuts means that her exhaustion is not the result of an intense fight.

“Don’t…” Her breath fills the socket in my eye before the air reciprocates on its own. “Don’t…Pfft…PwWAAH!”

As she opens her eyes, she gets up to her feet in panic, backing away from my non-invasive examination.


She flails her hands to me as she screams. Her screech quite resembles that of a chicken.

“I-I-I CAN DEFEND MYSELF! YOU SHOULD N-MWMPHFF!” Further rants of her are silenced as Mayumi captures her from behind, covering her mouth with her hand.

“Calm- Calm down, Miss Kutaka, is that right?” The creature struggles more aggressively, her eyes watering due to fear. “I’m Mayumi Joutouguu, the corporal of the Haniwa Army. We have no intention of harming you whatsoever.” The chicken-like creature flaps her wings desperately, trying to put away Mayumi’s lock before finally giving up, realizing the gap in their strength.

After she visibly relaxes, Mayumi releases the grip on her mouth. Frightened sobbing emerges from the creature. “I- I didn’t even get the chance to meet her again before my untimely demise…” She frowns pitifully, furrowing her brows while wrinkling her lips.

“R-Relax, Miss Kutaka,” The soldier lets go of her. “We genuinely won’t do anything to you.”

The moment she is let free, she jumps to the previous mound - which I am now confident enough is not someone’s camouflage as it stays still this whole time - and hides as if that will increase her chance of survival. Yellow feathers roam free in the air.

Seeing how she reacts, I conclude that miscommunications are happening between us. I contribute some reassuring facts to calm her down, “Miss, had we intended to kill you, we would have done so,” I raise two of my fingers to make a peace sign, punctuating my message.

“P-Please don’t…” Her voice comes out shaky, perhaps enthralled with my persuasion.

“Pawn…That’s not how you calm people down.” She comments even though I do not understand why. Mayumi picks her sword up and drops it to the ground near Kutaka, “Miss, that’s the only weapon we have. We don’t have any will to fight anyone.”

Kutaka stays behind the mound for a while until she peeks her head. “Y-You’re serious…?”

Mayumi nods, “Count me on that.”

Little by little she shows herself, revealing her worn-out face with her baggy eyes apparent. “T-That’s a relief…” She laughs a bit, “S-Sorry, I’m not in the best of mind right now.”

“It’s fine, Hell’s full of people with trouble,” Mayumi assures her with a smile, is that where I lacked before? “What brings you here, Miss Kutaka?”

“What brings me…Oh!” Kutaka straightens her posture. “Right, uhm, I was searching for this kid. A chicken, like me, but she’s a youkai, and, she’s quite short and um…And she uses an eggshell as a hat.”

That description strikes my memory. “Does she, by any chance, have smoke bombs at her disposal?”

“Uhm…Oh, y-yes she does that sometimes.”

“Miss, we just met her,” Mayumi tells her first. “They attacked us on our way here.”

“WHAT?” Kutaka slams her palmar to the mound “H-HOW IS SHE NOW?”

“She’s…She almost fell into a canyon, but we managed to escort her. Not long after though she flees from us.”

“Gosh, she’s such a troublemaker.” Kutaka exhales before bowing, “T-Thank you for saving her, I owe you much!”

Mayumi waves her hand dismissively, “It’s alright. We got it under control.”

“That means she’s still in Hell. Of course she is but where is she now? What if she didn’t find shelter at all? Oh gosh, she could’ve been roasted as we speak.” Kutaka sandwiches her face with her own hands. “Damn it! Why does she have to make me worry this much? The moment I find her I SWEAR she is in BIG trouble!” She punctuates with a slam to the mound.


The mound…shakes in response, being increasingly more active as the dirt cover falls off, revealing a white surface at the top.

“Why’s it so noisy…” The creature from the mound yawns as it stands up, showing more of her upper body. The eggshell hat reminds me of her previous appearance. “E-Eh? You guys!” She points to my face. “What are you doing here? Did you somehow manage to follow my track? Did you guys stalk me all the way here?” The small creature continues to blabble, “Oh, I get it, so you have a bone to pick with me! Just you know that I am more prepared than ever now. I am sure I can- Hey! Why aren’t you listening to…”

The small creature peeks at her back, being face-to-face with Kutaka before the kid looks back at us, pupils shrinking.

“Ma-” She freezes as Kutaka stares her dead. “Ma-Ma-MamaAAA-”

Kutaka pinches the kid’s ear and twists it like a doorknob. Face cold as a murderer's.

“MAMAMA-” Right after, Kutaka brings the kid with her to a secluded corner, leaving us to hear continuous screams and cries that might not resemble childcare in the slightest. “MAMAAA-”

“DO. YOU. KNOW. HOW. MUCH. TROUBLE. YOU’VE. MADE. ME?” There is a smack that punctuates each word.

An explosion of gas bursts, covering the corner in smoke. I see the kid frantically running away with her hands reaching her front before Kutaka bodies her, ceasing her attempt to escape. “DON’T THINK I’LL LET YOU RUN AWAY THIS TIME.”


I turn my face to look at Mayumi’s, seeing confusion display in her expression. I ought to leave this place as soon as possible, staring outside as the giant sun continues to burn everything in its radius.

I conclude that we are going to stay here for a while…
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>I'd try to compensate in the weekends.
As you can see I am a man that stays true to his words.

Another apology, college is NOT giving me any chance to breathe.

Glad you liked Pawn! I sure hope nothing terrifying will happen to him in future events!
For real though I'm glad his excessive thought process isn't overwhelming as I felt the need to tone him down sometimes lmao.
About your previous comment, I actually took no offense from it. In fact, I am really grateful for your continued support! It even felt a bit unjust for you to apologize like that since it is MY fault for interpreting it wrong. But all and all, I'm happy whatsoever.

I have no clue about that character so I thought you were referring to another author lmao.
Glad that my descriptions nailed the impression I'm looking for, though.

And the plot chickens!!! I'm not sorry

Shoutout for all the anons! Really happy with the support this fic is getting.

Now that the update is done I'll try finishing the 37 assignment lurking in my corner...
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Liking this story and Pawn's perspective a lot so far. Rock on
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>possibly Mars

Absolute Mars slander going on in this story. Mars is the closest planet to Heaven in the solar system! It's VENUS that's the hotboxed flesh-melting hellscape!
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