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40222 No. 40222
Continuation of >>34237

Hm. Delays, massive ones at that. I need to visit that damn doctor.
Perhaps, an extra scene to compensate..?

-------

Running from a bunch of fireflies. Probably not -the- most humiliating episode in my career as a destroyer of all things monstrous and unholy, but somewhere up there in the top ten. Probably. Still, I wasn't stupid enough to disregard the words of someone more experienced with the local wildlife than myself; looks can be deceiving, and all that sort of stuff.

"...Youki..."

"I overheard your conversation." Calm and cool as always, Youki revealed that he had been listening in on us while keeping his senses honed, eyes and ears keeping track of the insects' movements. I felt slightly envious.
"We are not completely surrounded just yet. If we are not to stay and fight, we should flee immediately."

"Alice?"

Without even responding, Alice reached somewhere into her outfit, pulling out one of those dolls of hers; from the colors and design of the outfit, I could tell it was one of the high-explosive variants. Accelerating from a walk to a light jog with Youki and myself following suit, she used her teeth to pull a specific ribbon undone. Immediately, the doll's eyes shot open, glowing brightly as some manner of arcano-chemical reaction began to bubble and fume inside of it, smoke billowing from its ears in a manner that would have been mildly comical, had it not been incredibly obvious what was about to happen. After about a second or two of waiting, Alice chucked the doll behind us, lifting off from the ground and flying off ahead of us. Not wasting time on confusion or anything of the sort, Youki and I dashed after her at full speed.

The moment the doll - now emitting a bright light and a high-pitched whistling noise - flew into the darkness behind us, an incredibly loud and violent buzzing noise made itself audible. as I glanced behind myself in curiosity, I finally realized that the fireflies were not what we were running from after all - the doll was suspended in the air, its clothing and artificial skin being torn at and ravaged by a thick swarm of tiny, nearly invisible insects seeking to devour everything in their path, the lights and noise attracting them away from us and giving us a much-needed head start. Any second now, and-...

KA-BOOM

...

I found myself on the ground, my ears ringing as the rest of the world - even that loud buzzing - was muffled to the point of near-silence. Scrambling to get back up, I looked back once more. My eyes beheld a rather... unique sight, almost beautiful in a way, a brilliang glowing circle of flame spreading outwards through the air as millions of microscopic insects were incinerated and blasted away by the shockwave; along with most of the trees in the surrounding area, flying through the air in flames. And yet... that was only a tiny fraction of the main swarm. A strong, rough-skinned hand gripped mine, yanking me up to my feet - Youki had come back for me, despite the risk to his own life. Half-life. Unlife. Whatever you call it. I wasn't going to waste his assistance in any case, resuming my sprint through the woods after Alice. The magician had apparently chosen to take an alternate path, not heading straight for the lake... an inexplicable choice, considering we were being chased by millions of BEES carnivorous bugs. Or was it? Save for diving into a below-freezing-temperature lake, we would have no means of shaking the damn things off.

So where was she going?

The insects getting closer by the second, my hearing returning to me only for my ears to be deafened yet again by the brutally loud buzzing around us. Noticing a dead tree in our path, I leapt at it and delivered a sharp kick to its base, knocking it off-balance and causing its dried-up roots to break, the tree slowly beginning to fall as we passed it. As that would obviously not stop insects that can fly, I grabbed one of my remaining bottles of Holy Water, hurling it at the tree which promptly combusted into flames, incinerating another small portion of the insects and buying us some time. Youki and I finally caught up to Alice in a clearing in the middle of the forest... banging on the door of the Kirisame household. By the time we reached her, Mr. Kirisame opened the door, the three of us diving into his house in a most impolite manner, ending up in a pile on his floor. Catching enough of her breath to speak, Alice shouted just two words to the man.

"Harvest mites!"

From the (surprisingly mild) widening of his eyes, he understood instantly, rushing to another room for a brief moment. As we clumsily stood up, with me considering slamming the door shut so the goddamn murder-bugs don't get in the house, I heard what sounded like someone unlocking something, before old man Kirisame rushed back to the door, holding in his hand what seemed to be an octagonal block of wood or something, with strange markings on it. To my shock, he ran right outside with it, apparently to face the bugs on his own. But if even the three of us had to run, what could he-...

My thoughts were interrupted by Kirisame pointing the device at the steadily approaching cloud of insects, like locusts of the apocalypse bent on devouring all life in their path... and projecting forth a brilliant, bright cone of rainbow-colored light, ripping through the night sky, scattering clouds and blasting through the tops of the nearest trees, destroying all in its path. Quite the pretty lightshow for one of the most destructive spells I'd ever seen in my short life up until then. Despite the sheer amount of willpower and energy that must have been required to even cast such a powerful spell, the man managed to even maintain it for several seconds, slowly sweeping the are to make sure all of the insects have been completely obliterated. Perhaps the device he held in his hands was some manner of focusing tool for magicians? In any case, once he felt satisfied and stopped channeling the wave of magic, his shoulders slumped downwards a bit as he walked back inside, shutting the door behind himself.

"I'm getting too old for this shi-... Ah, pardon my language. You're lucky, you know... I was about to take this thing to Kourindou and sell it tomorrow." Gazing at the three of us dusting ourselves off and muttering apologies for barging into his house like that, his eyes stopped on Alice, and a warm smile spread across his mildly wrinkled face.
"Good to see you again, Alice."

"Likewise. And thanks." Returning the smile with utmost sincerity, Alice spoke with a sense of familiarity in her voice, taking on a more relaxed posture. Old friends, colleagues perhaps? If they were on a first name basis, then it must've been something like that.
"You've aged well."

"Hah. I'd say the same to you, but... well, you know."

"How's your wife? Do tell her I said hello."

"She's alright for now. She's sleeping upstairs, but don't worry; an earthquake wouldn't wake her up, with the sleeping pills I gave her..."
Snickering lightly, Mr. Kirisame then turned to greet Youki with a polite bow (which Youki promptly returned,) and finally turned to face me.
"I see you've come back. Still in once piece, too. How did the whole vampire-slaying thing go?"

"I haven't gotten to the slaying part yet, unfortunately. It's a long story, but we've run a little low on equipment, so..."

"Ah." A strange twinkle could be seen in his eyes.
"Then, you've come as customers, haven't you? And here I thought you were coming for a casual visit, Alice."

"No such luck, I'm afraid. Maybe next week." Acting as if this were her own home, Alice casually plopped down on a nearby chair, crossing her legs and leaning against the backrest.
"Hey. Do you still have my old stuff lying around somewhere, or did you manage to sell all of it? If you're willing to take credit, then I might just want to buy it back from you..."

"Hm. Credit, huh." Stroking his stubble-covered chin with his fingers, Mr. Kirisame took a moment to ponder the offer.
"Well, it should still be around somewhere. Adventurers are a dying breed, you see... Not much demand for that sort of thing."
He then headed off into one of the side rooms, searching for something in the piles of... things, disappearing from sight after a while, only the sound of rustling and items falling over one another hinting at him being around somewhere in the house.
"Marisa, dear, would you bring our guests some tea?"

...

A child's head timidly peeked out from behind a corner, looking at the three of us as if deciding whether or not it was safe to come out and interact with us. She had blonde hair like Alice, yet much longer, tied in a braid on one side, and she was wearing what appeared to be a traditional witch's hat, slightly too large for her. Her large, amber eyes looked between Youki and myself a few times, before settling on Alice, a look of recognition flashing in her gaze.

"...Auntie!"

...Auntie? I couldn't help but snicker into my palm as the little girl happily ran across the room, pouncing her way into Alice's lap and hugging onto her tightly, Alice giving me a mild grimace in response. However, a faint smile quickly returned to her face, as she affectionately returned the hug, then pulled the girl into a more comfortable sitting position.

"I really wish you'd stop calling me that. It makes me feel old, you know."

"...but, you're a friend of daddy, aren't you? Daddy is old. So you're old too, right?"

Ah, children...
You know, something I noticed about the kid's speech patterns was that she tended to use a rather boy-ish vocabulary. It's a Japanese thing, men and women, boys and girls, they have these distinct ways of talking that you pick up on over time. A girl using boy-ish words while speaking comes off as a bit of a tomboy, and so on. In any case, the girl - Marisa, wasn't it? - seemed to feel more comfortable and secure in Alice's arms, looking to Youki next.

"Wow, you look -real- old. Older than daddy!"

He didn't seem to be offended. You kind of can't afford to be, with pure-white hair and a beard like that. Instead, he just smiled back at the kid.
"Your father doesn't seem quite as old as you might think, child. His face shows the wear of experience, not of old age."
I think that went over her head just a little bit, bro. Ah well, she's giggling anyway, whatever makes her happy.
"My name is Youki. Pleased to meet you, Marisa."

Ah, she's looking at me, now... Cute kid. Seems like a really energetic type, too, kicking her legs back and forth playfully in Alice's lap. So much about that tea, huh... Not that I wanted any to begin with, considering we already just-...
Okay she's just staring at me now. Well, go on... what is it? Do I look old too? I suppose it'd be a welcome change from the usual where everyone keeps pointing out my young age.

"...You have scary eyes."

"I'm sorry for that, kid."

"Now, now... My friends here are good people, alright? You should be more polite, Marisa." The way Alice looked, with the girl in her lap, scolding her with such a motherly tone and divine smile on her face, you'd think it were her very own daughter... Hm. An old acquaintance of Mr. Kirisame, wasn't she?

Perhaps I'd have to ask her about that later, if my curiosity didn't fade by then.

...

By the time old man Kirisame returned, dragging a somewhat heavy-looking chest behind him by the handle, Marisa had somehow found her way into my lap instead, despite my protests, and was presently entertaining herself by braiding my hair on the sides. What could I do? When I told her to cut it out, she looked so damn sad. Not that I'm a softy when it comes to kids or anything, but it earned me dirty looks from Alice and Youki, so... whatever keeps the kid occupied, I guess.

"Sorry it took so long. It was buried under a ton of junk in a corner."

"Glad to hear you've been taking care of my old things so well, old friend." A slightly sarcastic smirk spreading across her face, Alice stood up from her seat, the keeping-Marisa-company apparently having been completely delegated to me, and went over to the chest. After staring at the lock for a few seconds in silence, the two glanced at one another.
"Do you still have the key?"

"Should I go get a crowbar?"

"Please, allow me," Youki interjected, stepping forward and drawing the longer of his blades, promptly slicing through the lock in one smooth movement... and leaving me all alone sitting in the back of the room, a little girl in my lap and playing with my hair.
"It is open."

"Thank you, Youki," Alice responded in a tone kinder that what she usually offered him. Crouching down, she opened the chest, peering in and muttering something to herself in silence, as if counting items off a list in her head. Though I tried to stretch myself so I could see what was inside as well, I found myself unable to catch a glimpse of the contents without dropping Marisa.
"Did you keep this dry?"

"Of course. Granted, I'd forgotten about -those-..." Alice lifted a few old-looking dolls out of the chest, their dresses seeming slightly more crudely crafted when compared to her current works. Mr. Kirisame wiped a few beads of sweat off his forehead, furrowing his brow slightly.
"Had I remembered, I'd have put the chest in the basement. At least it's blast proof."

"Ah, this brings back memories." Next came what appeared to be a... gauntlet? with thick rings around its knuckles. In the light, I could see glints of what appeared to be strings coming from said rings.

"Careful with that. Wouldn't want to cut yourself... or me."

"Yes, yes... Do you have something I could use to carry all this stuff and the rest around?" The rest? There was more?

"Like what, a backpack? Sure, but it wouldn't look good with that dress. You sure you can't just keep it where you keep all of your toys?" he asked with a smirk.

"Har, har, har. Very funny."

...

Eventually, after Alice had gathered up all of her old gear from what I assumed to be from her past adventuring days, and Youki grumbled a bit about time being wasted, we set out to leave the Kirisame household. The old man and Marisa saw us to the door.

"Take care, then. It was good to see you again, Alice," Mr. Kirisame said with a wave and a smile.

"Likewise. Perhaps I'll visit again someday, if all goes well." Gee, thanks for the vote of confidence...

Just then, Marisa ran up to Alice, tugging on her dress as she looked up to her with wide eyes and a childish grin.
"Hey, auntie! Bring me a present next time you visit, okay?"

"A present, you say? Well, only if you're a good girl and listen to your father."

"Okayyy." Somehow, she sounded less than enthusiastic about that. Suddenly, her eyes got that certain excited glint in them again.
"Oooh, can you make me more witch clothes and stuff?"

"She certainly likes that hat you made for her a lot. Never goes anywhere without it," old man Kirisame sighed.

Marisa giggled. "I wanna be an awesome magician like auntie Alice some day!"

"You mean like your father, right?" Alice responded.

Marisa then turned to look up at her father with a somewhat bored expression, before turning back to us.
"Naw. Daddy has hair on his face. I wanna be a really pretty and mysterious witch of the forest, like Alice!" A huge grin all over Marisa's face, Alice couldn't help but pat her head with a smirk and a sigh.

"Alright, alright. Maybe. We'll see, next time. Good night, Marisa."

With that, we took off, offering our thanks and goodbyes to Mr. Kirisame and heading back into the forest, towards the devilish mansion that awaited us in the night. Without dangerous beasts or evil insects preying upon us, the forest was actually kind of nice... Quiet, a cool breeze passing between the trees, the ambient sound of crickets chirping around us. The moon shining down upon us between gaps in the leaves of the trees above us, preventing the forest from falling into complete and total darkness. And then... the silvery glint of the lake, becoming visible from between the trees in front of us, moonlight reflecting off the light rippling of the water's surface by the night wind. And there, directly in front of us, at the end of a long peninsula stretching to the middle of the lake... the Scarlet Devil mansion's silhouette.

"Finally. Back here again." Stretching myself and taking a deep breath to prepare myself for more monster-mashing, I couldn't help but grin in anticipation. Fighting makes you feel alive, sitting in a chair slurping tea... not so much.
"Next stop: the clock tower. And then the vampire's head is mine."

"Let us not get ahead of ourselves," Youki scolded me from behind in what I hoped was -not- the worst pun I had ever heard, tapping me on the shoulder with the side of one of his blades, which he had drawn silently for some reason. He then used said blade to gesture forwards at the mansion.
"...We seem to have a rather largewelcoming party waiting for us."

Being only human, I couldn't exactly make out what he was pointing at with ease, but squinting into the darkness for a while eventually allowed me to catch a glimpse of moonlight reflecting off the weapons and armor of what seemed like a small army, stationed in front of the mansion gates... and a familiar head of red hair, blowing in the wind like a general's cape.

"...So much about the suspicious lack of guards."

"Indeed. As the only path to the mansion is across this narrow peninsula, sneaking to the side undetected is likely not an option." Coming from Youki, the statement that a battle was unavoidable did feel somewhat unusual. Not that it bothered me in the least... The old man had been keeping me back all this time, and now I'd get to get my knuckles bloody once more.

"Well then." Slipping on the strange gauntlet from before and making a fist a few times to get the proper feel for it back, Alice sent a smirk of anticipation my way, eyes faintly growing a bright green in the darkness of the night.
"It would be rude to keep them waiting, if they went through all that trouble to come out and greet us."

"Then let's not keep them waiting, shall we?" I responded, gripping my sacred whip in one hand, and the Kusanagi in the other, beginning to march down the peninsula, accelerating to a light jog, and then a run after but a few steps, when the minions in the distance noticed out approach and took on a defensive stance to prepare for us.
"Charge!"

-------

(More tomorrow. For those of you who have been complaining about the passive attitude of the last several updates, I promise more killings in the next one.)
>> No. 40225
Yay!

>braiding my hair on the sides.
Hohoho.
>> No. 40231
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40231
>"...You have scary eyes."
>entertaining herself by braiding my hair on the sides.
Either you are very clever or very cruel.
>and a familiar head of red hair, blowing in the wind like a general's cape.
Meiling is back, stronger and meaner than ever. Not like she has any chance of winning anyway.
>> No. 40236
This seems like SDM's crew last stand. Sure, there is still another member, The Boss and the EX boss, but the redcoats have been dying right and left so... I think I'm going to enjoy the next update. Immensely.
>> No. 40240
Glad to have you back Taisa.

And when this is done, you can go back to your other story without all the crap flying around.
>> No. 40241
>>40236

Hopefully
>> No. 40242
>>40241

Sorry, meant >>40240
>> No. 40244
Formerly known as Generous Music Anon Here!

In celebration for this update and possibly more, hopefully coming around I've updated my Castlevania thread over at /words/.

http://www.touhou-project.com/words/res/186.html

Hope ya enjoy it~!
>> No. 40253
>>40231
>Implying Meiling can actually die.

No seriously, she just won't die.
>> No. 40256
>More tomorrow.

Hooray!

Welcome back!
>> No. 40276
Sigh, here we go again...

Don't worry, I have like half of it typed up. I got home from work later than I expected today. and have an early start (6AM) tomorrow.

No, honestly, I won't vanish for another month.

Please do forgive me for my poor planning and trust me when I say that I'm sticking around this time, am perfectly motivated to write this now, and have it reasonably planned out for the time being.

It's just that my typing turns to derp at 3:21 AM, that's all. Keep an eye on the thread tomorrow, folks.
...Or later today, depending on your timezone? I guess.

G'night.
>> No. 40277
>>40276
Good night, happy writing!
>> No. 40284
>>40276
G'night mate. Glad to have ya back and looking forward to more
>> No. 40286
>>40222
>The way Alice looked, with the girl in her lap, scolding her with such a motherly tone and divine smile on her face, you'd think it were her very own daughter... Hm. An old acquaintance of Mr. Kirisame, wasn't she?
Enough bricks to make an industrial chimney.

>hair braiding etc.
sfglgsj;fkjeqwefqw

STOP TEASING US, YOU FUCK.
>> No. 40310
The site's not been working for Taisa tonight.

He says he'll try updating after work tomorrow.
>> No. 40339
I was pleasantly surprised by little Marisa's appearance in this story. And it made me feel warm, too.

Take your time, Taisa. A good story is like a matured wine; it's not to be enjoyed in a rush.
>> No. 40402
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40402
I am eagerly waiting.
>> No. 40436
I'm waiting anxiously.
>> No. 40459
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40459
Ah, the rush of adrenaline, the gleeful heat building up in my ears, the tension building up in my hands in anticipation of extinguishing many lives tonight... No, I lie. As I said before, I did not gain any particular pleasure from killing. However, neither did I have anything against it. Fighting is what made me feel alive. Made me feel like I had a purpose. It was what the Church had destined me for, until the day I was no longer useful to them, or the day I died in battle.

Works for me.

Mere seconds remained before we would clash with the first line of defense, armor-clad warriors wielding tower shields and gigantic axes, reminiscent of one of the guardians Alice and I had disabled earlier that night in the mansion. Smaller, maybe, but more numerous by far. At least four dozen I could see in the front lines alone, probably many more further back; peering out from behind them, skeletal minions brandishing lighter equipment - a few bits of armor here and there, swords, that sort of thing. As skeletons lack muscles and thus must be moved entirely through the magical power of their master, kitting them out in heavy plate is rather inefficient; better to rush your foe with numbers.

And, of course, Hong Meiling, my persistent nemesis, eyes glowing in my general direction with rage, from behind the shadow of her army. Surely, both of us were disappointed that she wasn't there in the front, waiting to greet me, to grant me one last brawl... before I cut her head off to make sure she -stays- dead this time.

Suddenly, she raised her arm.

Waving to me in a mock-greeting?
A salute of respect, perhaps?
No, arm bent at the elbow, hand in a position as if she were about to swat down at someth-...

"Archers!"

Drat, I had seen them too late; perched upon the wall and the mansion balconies, arrowtips glinting in the moonlight as they stood up, having waited until we were too close to hide from them... or at least, until I was too close, Youki and Alice both slowing to an immediate halt and diving to the sides. But it was too late for me - I was completely exposed, right in the center of the open path heading to the front gate. No use slowing down, then... Instead, I sped up, gathering my strength into my legs and sprinting for the axe armors as fast as I could, just as Hong Meiling lowered her arm, shouting to her minions.

"Fire!" As her powerful voice, commanding the armies of the Scarlet Devil with authority granted by the fiendish vampire herself, echoed through the night, a series of near-simultaneous *thwip* noises was heard for just a second, before it suddenly became dark.

Their arrows had blocked out the moon...
...Well, then we would fight in the shadows.

-------

BGM: "Followers of Darkness - The First"
http://www.endlessyoutube.com/watch?v=LEnz3fSXum4

-------

A metallic clank rang across the battlefield as the hail of arrows descended upon me, the whistling of my whip flying through the air at the closest axe armor masked by the sounds of the archers releasing their arrows. Wasting no time as the holy chain coiled itself around the surprised creature's waist, I yanked it towards myself...
"Get over here!"
...and impaled it upon the Kusanagi, the legendary blade cutting clean through it as if its armor were made of paper as I crouched under its bulk. You know, they say a history or a good legend or two make a weapon particularly effective against supernatural beings...

Something wet hit my face. Looking up, through the visor of the plated monster leaning over me, taking its last breaths, I saw the glint of a pair of eyes. So, these were not hollow suits after all, but warrior servants wearing armor...
Good! Then they will know fear. Before I could take the time to wipe the coughed-up blood off my face, however, the sound of metal hitting metal began rapidly sounding from above me, the body of the axe armor twitching and spasming (and groaning rather annoyingly...) as the first volley of the Scarlet Devil mansion's archers stabbed into its back, and into the ground around us, with me using the minion as a (formerly-)living shield.

"Oh, be quiet, you." Paying little heed to the monster going through its death throes upon my sword, I glanced behind myself to check whether Alice and Youki made it clear of the arrows in time. To my relief, the two seemed to be mostly unharmed; Alice had managed to avoid the arrows entirely, whereas Youki's outfit had taken some damage, a few minor cuts and scratches on his arms, plus one across his cheek. Nothing that wouldn't heal over a few days. Nevertheless, as the archers scrambled to ready their next volley, I pushed the axe-armor-turned-pincushion off myself, standing up on my feet yet again. Youki rushed to my side, ripping off his shredded shirt... gi... whatever you call it, revealing a more-than-surprisingly fit, muscular body, for a man of his apparent age.

Damn. I realize it'd get in the way in that condition, but seriously. You're here to fight, not to pick up chicks with that godly figure of yours...

...anyway. Where was I? Oh yes, facing the mansion's army and whatnot, the three of us versus quite the formidable horde of minions both unholy and fairy, the latter sticking back with their bows while the former, outraged by the blink-and-you'd-have-missed-it loss of one of their comrades, bellowed out in a demonic roar, charging at us in the form of a seamless wall of metal, axes raised, shields held forward, the peninsula trembling under the weight of their steps.
I bared my teeth at them, lashing the chain whip through the air once to intimidate them in their approach, the Kusanagi firmly gripped in my other hand.
Youki, apparently deciding to kick things up a notch, drew his second blade, mimicing me by dual-wielding his weapons. Not something you'd want to try unless you were both ambidextrous and very, very experienced in using two weapons, but I decided to put my trust in his capabilities. Even I had to respect the decades, perhaps centuries of experience he must've had over me in swordsmanship. Something about the way his blades glistened in the light of the moon made the approaching horde hesitate for just a moment, before resuming their charge.
And finally, Alice, hovering by our side, summoning several dolls both older and newer from wherever it was that she kept them, the little helpers orbiting around her and brandishing disproportionate weapons of various shapes and sizes that we had collected over our adventure. The gauntlet in her hands, disappointingly enough, did not exhibit any unusual properties just yet, seemingly being just a fancier glove for her to use when manipulating her little murder dolls... I was eager to see how she would prove my disappointment to be mistaken.

The distance kept closing.

Just before they got within a few last remaining yards of us, the three of us met their charge - Youki in a focused silence, me with an enthusiastic battlecry - Youki and I tearing right through the ranks while Alice flew higher above the battlefield, coordinating her dolls to cover us, sending a handful of explosive variants to the sides of the army, detonating them to keep the armored warriors from overtaking us through sheer numbers. We would have to be swift and cautious in our battle; while still focusing on butchering all the unholy minions around us, I made sure to keep an eye on the archers in the back. There was no cover for us to hide behind, other than the army we were fighting; we could not afford to expose ourselves.

With both swords drawn, Youki seemed to have... transformed, into a whirling dervish of death, the blades whistling through the air, leaving white blurred trails in the air as the moonlight reflected off the metal, too fast for the human eye to follow, slicing through shields and plate armor with barely any resistance. A grim determination on his face, this old man who opposed senseless killing was by no means such a merciful pacifist in actual combat. Cold and efficient, he would reward each strike of an axe that he dodged or parried with swift death. Blood sprayed forth in a wide arc as he severed the jugular veins of yet another foe before it could lift its heavy weapon to attack, or even defend itself. They would attempt to surround him, attacking as three or four at the same time from all around him, yet he would flawlessly deflect all of their blows. Smooth and

Yes, the difference between our fighting styles was just that; Youki was defensive, relying on parrying blows and counterattacking before the warriors could recover from missing with such a heavy weapon. As for myself? I preferred to rely on my mobility, to strike first and keep moving before I could be attacked in the first place, to kill before even a single strike could land against me. Despite me whining earlier about not having any decent armor in my Church-issued standard vampire hunter equipment™, it truly is more convenient to go light - you can keep moving, faster, without getting tired.

The spiked ball on the tip of the whip slammed one of the axe armors in the side of the helmet, disorienting it just long enough for me to leap towards it and kick it off-balance, landing on its chest and stabbing the Kusanagi into the ground through its throat. In retaliation, several others attempted to surround me, charging at me from all sides, in response to which I grabbed a fistful of knives with my free hand (the sword was still stuck inside the dead axe armor, you see), spraying them all around myself. While the armored plating of the fiends was thick enough to not take significant damage from the knives, that wasn't why I threw them... I just needed to knock them off-balance for a moment so I could pull the sword back out. Of course, after doing so, I was still surrounded.

Too bad for them, huh?

The ensuing clatter was near-deafening, as I whirled my whip around myself in a low, circular arc, sweeping the encroaching warriors' feet out from underneath them, giving myself another opening. Springing from on top of the corpse I was crouching on, I landed on one of the fallen knights, slamming my heel into the side of its head with enough force to break its neck, leaving the others behind and sprinting over to another axe armor in the distance amidst the chaos. It was apparently preparing to hurl its axe at Alice, who was presently distracted by fighting off more than twice the amount of axe armors that Youki and I were facing.

Oh no you don't, you son of a-...

Wrapping the chain of my whip around my knuckles, I delivered a kick to its side to interrupt its throw and get it to turn around, punching it square in the visor just as it looked at me with a loud clang, sending it stumbling. Before I could finish it off, though, I was caught off-guard and charged from behind by another one at full speed, being carried towards the rather hard-looking mansion wall atop its shield as it seeked to flatten me. Caught between a monster and a hard place, huh... Throwing my legs in front of myself just as we reached the wall, I managed to exert enough force to stop it from crashing right into it, thrusting the Kusanagi backwards at the same time, effectively causing the monster to impale itself on the sword with its own weight and momentum, just barely avoiding getting crushed under its weight as it collapsed on top of me. With a grunt, I pushed the heavy thing off myself, grateful that it didn't start bleeding too profusely before I removed the blade from its gut.

Concerned about Alice, who seemed to be rather busy with fending off attackers from all directions, I glanced around the battlefield, searching for her... only to discover that she was kicking some serious ass, and that the gauntlet was definitely not just for show. Gripping my weapons and running back to battle, I witnessed Alice glare at a pair of axe armors advancing towards her, before swiping her arm through the air, the dollstrings attached to the rings on her fingers barely visible as they sliced clean through them. Seriously, cut them into five neat slices, each. Damn, so much about the squishy wizard... Those two were starting to make me feel inadequate.

"Twelve," muttered Youki to me, as I managed to clear my way to him through the mass of hostiles. He said this while removing his blades from the shoulder and abdomen of yet another dead axe armor.

"Pardon?"

"Oh, nothing," he responded with a smirk. What, he was keeping a kill count now? Why that old-...

"Fourteen," I yelled to him in advance as I hurled the Kusanagi at a charging foe, the blade stabbing its way into the side of its chest, with me running to it, grabbing the handle and vaulting over it, cutting its torso practically in half as I landed behind it. Absurdly sharp magical blades are fun like that. Granted, I hadn't been keeping count of my own kills, but I wasn't going to lose to Youki. Oh, and skeletons didn't count; I hadn't even bothered mentioning them so far because we kind of just knocked them into pieces on the side, in between fighting axe armors. The cocky old fart didn't even bother acknowledging my kill, focusing instead on fending off two axe armors that had approached him from the other side... and failing to notice a third one coming at him from behind.
"Hey, look out!"

He noticed just in time, shoving the other two away and catching the crushing axe blow between two crossed swords. After struggling against the axe armor for a second or two, he kicked it in the chest, knocking it back and forcing it to release its axe, which Youki promptly hurled in my general direction.

Wait what.

I managed to just barely dodge it, the colossal axe flying through the air right above me as I leaned back, back... back far enough to see it embed itself right in the forehead of -another- axe armor that had been trying to ambush me from behind. Throwing my momentum into a backflip, I kicked it over, landing on my hands and feet like a cat. Or something.

"Nice save."

"Thank you," was Youki's brief and polite response, as he casually beheaded another armored warrior charging him, with another one next to him getting a hole blasted through its chest by a magical beam originating from our friend up in the air. Standing up and glancing about the battlefield, I could see that we appeared to be winning for the time being, Alice's dolls doing rather well at keeping the skeletons from assisting the axe armors, circling them, stabbing them in their joints with various weapons to dismantle them, performing explosive suicide attacks, barely visible strings flying through the air, slicing and dicing our enemies into shreds. The woman's gleeful laughter echoing over the battlefield was rather... chilling, to say the least. She was actually having fun with this.

"There's three of them. Three! And you can't even take down one of them?" Hong Meiling was getting frustrated.

As another group of axe armors surrounded us, Youki and I put our backs together, covering each other in battle and taking on a defensive position. Quite the bonding experience, really... Each time one of them would attempt to rush us, we would parry its attack and either slice through its armor or knock it back. Eventually, though, they stopped fighting like mooks in a bad kung-fu movie and tried to swarm us all at once, together; defending ourselves just got a lot harder. No longer could we counterattack with ease, instead having to focus on evading and parrying a merciless rain of blows from all sides... not exactly easy when your main hand weapon is a whip of all things. Couldn't even kick them away. Youki seemed to be holding on with his two swords for the time being, but even he was entirely focused on keeping himself from being cleaved with heavy axes. Our backs pressed together, the circle of metallic warriors closing in tighter with each second, all I could do was attempt to gather up my magical energy, and...

"Get... BACK!"

Unleashing a burst of holy power channeled from my whip, I managed to knock the soldiers back a few feet, giving Youki and myself some much-needed breathing room. Although the holy energy did cause Youki to stumble as well, for a moment, him being only half-ghost (however the hell that works) meant it didn't affect him as badly. In any case, we had to make good use of our precious few seconds, before they piled up on us again...

This time, Youki did the quick thinking for us, gripping my whip's chain and wrapping it around his forearm, grimacing mildly at the burning sensation before swinging the chain - and myself - in an arc around himself. Not wasting time on being surprised or confused, I held onto the handle and held my sword ready, impacting into the chest of an axe armor feet-first, slicing the Kusanagi through its visor, and proceeding to run along the rest of the soldiers in a circle, kicking off their chests or heads (kind of like in that one scene in The Matrix: Reloaded... except that movie wasn't out yet in 1998), dragging the Kusanagi along and slicing through their heads and necks. By the time my momentum ran out and I jumped down to the ground, we had effectively killed or disabled most of the circle of foes that had just surrounded us. Still, many of them stood, ready to attack once again-...

"Second wave, FIRE!"

...Apparently, despite many of their own warriors being in the line of fire, Hong Meiling had given the archers the order to fire the next volley of arrows, friendly fire be damned. Unfortunately, there was still the problem of not having any cover to hide behind, and there were far too many archers for me to be able to do something about all those arrows by stopping time...
Hundreds of arrows whistling through the night sky yet again, descending towards the three of us, too fast and too wide to avoid. Alice erected a barrier of both magical defenses and dolls in front of herself, yet it would likely not be enough to defend herself against such an onslaught; Youki stood in front of her, blades ready, apparently willing to at least try to deflect as many of the deadly arrowheads as he could. As for myself... all I could do was slash through the air with the Kusanagi in desperation.

The whistling got a lot louder.

...And then we were fine. The arrows had been redirected by a sudden strong gale wind, missing us completely, flying off to the sides and hitting many of the axe armors, some having turned around completely and hit the archers that had originally fired them. Did the sword do that? After examining the mystical blade in my hand with a newfound curiosity, I focused my vision on Hong Meiling - take out the leader, and the army would disperse. As both my companions and the armored warriors were still recovering from the shock of what just happened, I dashed for the gatekeeper, channeling my will into the blade and thrusting it forwards.

As expected, another torrent of wind kicked up from behind me, blasting forth in the form of a sort of wind tunnel, granting me increased speed while knocking the axe armors out of my way... and smashing the remaining skeletons into pieces. Three of the armors tried to defend their leader - not even bothering to escape or meet my attack, simply standing there with her arms crossed - but they were easily dispatched; sidestepping the axe blows from the first two, I holstered my weapons and slammed their helmets against one another with my bare hands - hard enough to knock them both out. As for the third one, I simply kept running towards it, baiting an attack which I evaded, vaulting over it while holding onto its head with my hands... and twisting myself 180 degrees in the air, before landing on the other side.

That is to say, I twisted its head as well. The loud snap was quite satisfying. Dusting my gloves off, I slowly turned my head to face my worthy foe, Alice and Youki taking care of the rest of the army in the background. Hong Meiling looked back to me, her face relaxed, calm... one would think emotionless, at first glance, yet the look in her eyes suggested otherwise. In the background, the archers were nervously scrambling to prepare for a third volley, but they weren't important right now. I shut off all unnecessary sounds and sights in my mind, the clanging of metal and explosions of gunpowder-filled dolls, focusing only on the gatekeeper before me. Still standing there, arms crossed, unmoving and stoic, in front of the mansion gates. Then, she frowned lightly, and spoke.

"...I will give you exactly one chance to quietly return the keys to me. I will call off the soldiers and allow you to leave in peace."

Ha. Just who the hell do you think I am!?

"Other way around. I'll give -you- exactly one chance to call off the soldiers and let us inside." With a smug smirk, I continued.
"...And maybe I'll leave you alive this time."

Ah, a satisfied glint in her eyes, followed by a pleased grin. We had both been waiting for this. As I put up my fists, she took on a fluid martial arts stance. While not being one for organized fighting styles myself, finding improvisation far more valuable, I still knew quite a bit about various styles around the world for the purposes of anticipating certain techniques from my enemies. Tai chi chuan focuses on capturing an opponent's force, redirecting or absorbing their attacks... the usual turning your opponent's weight against them spiel so popular in kung fu movie depictions of martial arts. A reckless head-on attack would merely end up with me getting destroyed. After staring one another in the eye for a few more seconds, we charged.

Then, suddenly, it started to rain.

As we met, I immediately ducked to avoid an open-palm strike from Hong Meiling, delivering an uppercut to her abdomen from below. She managed to block it, catching my fist in her hands and twisting my arm in an attempt at a lock; instead, I whirled myself through the air, following her motions and landing on my back, curving myself upwards and kicking her in the chest, forcing her to release me as she stumbled backwards a step. Not allowing herself to be stunned for long, she immediately assaulted me again, this time putting me on the defensive. The rain did little to soften her blows, with me just barely able to avoid or deflect brutal impacts that would turn bone into a fine powder, as well as open hand strikes and pushes which would knock me off-balance long enough for her to finish me off.

Suddenly, more clanging - an axe armor had approached from the battlefield, to assist their leader by attacking me from behind. Ducking under yet another punch, I performed a circular leg sweep, which Hong Meiling managed to avoid, whereas the armor lost balance and fell over. I used the brief moment in which the woman jumped back to steal the soldier's axe and bring it down on its neck like a guillotine, beheading it on the spot, before discarding said weapon and turning my attention back to the gatekeeper. As we dashed for one another once more, a second axe armor came from the side again... only to be knocked aside by Hong Meiling herself, sending it flying into the wall surrounding the mansion and knocking it unconscious, hinting at the others not to interfere in our duel.

Coming close, we exchanged several blows yet again, each one being deflected or softly absorbed, neither of us able to land a clean hit. Our arms were a blur, our eyes tense from reading our opponent's movements, our breathing heavy yet focused. Even the occasional kick was ancitipated and evaded or blocked, until she faked a strike at me and caught me off-guard with a knee to the groin. Grunting loudly and grimacing from the sheer force behind her attack, I barely managed to regain my focus in time to avoid a swift strike aimed at the throat, gripping her arm as it passed me by and using her weight and momentum to throw her over. However, nimble and agile like a cat, she landed on her feet, unfazed by this, kicking herself off the ground back in my direction, not even giving me a second to catch my breath, her assault relentless and unforgiving.

Hearing a loud swooshing sound, I managed to pull myself back just in time for a large, heavy axe to whirl through the air between us, flying past and embedding itself into the wall. Having pulled back as well, Hong Meiling grimaced briefly, the distance this interruption had put between us interrupting the flow of her attacks... except not. Her eyes - and hands - glowed with a spiritual power for the briefest of moments, before she hurled an energy sphere in my direction, followed by two smaller, quicker ones after I avoided the first one. The second one passed me by nearly close enough to singe my hair, and the third one came too fast to avoid. Gathering up my own energies, I empowered my fist with holy energy and punched it. The orb dissipated, yet my fist felt as if I had punched a solid concrete wall... on fire. The pain was nearly bad enough to leave my hand numb, and it had burned through the knuckles of my gloves. Even so, the scarlet dragon I had been battling was once more closing the distance between us, focused entirely on ending my existence.

Yet again and again did we clash, trading blows, attempting to find weak spots in each other's defenses; each time one of us had their blow blocked, we anticipated the following counterattack, and attempted to counter that, and then-... you get the picture. After missing a kick, I smacked her across the face with my long coattail, taking her by surprise and disorienting her long enough to deliver a second kick to the side of the head. Against a normal mook or human, I'd have either killed it outright, or at least broken its cheekbones. Unfortunately, Hong Meiling was nowhere near the low standards of a mere human; though she definitely felt that hit, she didn't let it bother her in the least, recovering immediately and coming right at me again. Indeed, my own human stamina was starting to prove to be a significant handicap, my foe not showing the slightest signs of tiring yet. I could have used a weapon, yet at this point it was clear that she had learned to counter my every move, she had learned my largely-improvised and unpredictable fighting 'style'; a weapon of any sort would be more likely to become a liability, or to be used against me. Even chain whips were included among the more exotic weapon types included in traditional styles of tai chi chuan.

The rain had soaked us quite thoroughly, adding to my fatigue. My clothes felt heavy, yet she seemed completely unhindered by her own outfit, as if it were her own skin. I had knocked the fancy hat with the star off her head long ago, near the beginning of our little spar, and her bright red hair stuck to her face, drenched in rainwater, yet even this did nothing to lessen her combat prowess. And to think that I had underestimated this woman back when I first saw her, taking a nap while on duty... Even the most competent warriors need to take a nap now and then, I guess.

I slipped up. My next strike was too slow, too predictable, and she caught me by the wrist again, this time not giving me the chance to turn the situation in my favor, immediately smashing me square in the chest with another palm strike, sending me flying - and pulling me right back by the arm, the resulting forces pulling me in opposite directions badly dislocating my shoulder, the pain almost causing me to black out right there, only my sheer stubborn determination keeping me lucid and focused despite being yanked back and forth like a ragdoll. Again, she struck me, her blow formed as to cause maximal internal injury, with me barely able to turn my body in the air so as to avoid being struck in the heart... I think she broke a rib or two there, though. Quite the light injury, considering what it -could- have been.

Several axe armors had appeared yet again, overeager to assist their commander in finishing me off; Hong Meiling was not pleased, but also not one to waste resources. Swinging me around like a sack of potatoes, she smashed me right into the heavily armored soldiers, knocking the wind out of me and getting rid of the annoying intereference at the same time. Two birds with one stone, and all that. Hoping dearly that I wasn't suffering from internal bleeding or anything, I managed to pull myself together enough to kick myself off the last one, twisting my body so as to come towards Hong Meiling with my legs forward, my position allowing me to pass just above her intended strike and wrap my legs around her neck as my posterior smacked her in the chest. In furious retaliation, she made use of my position in such close proximity by grabbing my neck in her vice-like grip, shutting off my access to air. I decided to respond in kind, squeezing my legs together as hard as I could with my rapidly failing strength.

Being strangled by creatures stronger than me twice in one night was definitely an experience I hoped I would never have to go through again, assuming I lived through that time to begin with. Time certainly seems to slow down when you're oxygen-deprived. The rain mercilessly beating on us, we clung to each other, each one trying to squeeze the life out of the other first. Hong Meiling's face gradually turned redder, contorted, teeth bared and grinding; her eyes, filled with rage, bulged out at me. Keeping my legs firmly locked around her neck and squeezing with all my might, all I could do with my hands was pull on her grip, trying desperately to keep her hand from breaking my neck, though not enough to draw breath. Utilizing sheer will power to keep from blacking out, I amassed all the strength left in my battered, bruised body, and... squeezed.

"S-... Shoot h-..."

SNAP
>> No. 40460
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40460
...

That wasn't me. Just after managing to force out one last command, Hong Meiling's neck snapped under the pressure, her limp body falling to the ground along with mine, collapsing on top of me. Deja vu? Wait, speaking of deja vu, what's that whistling...

Oh crap. This time, instead of a focused volley, the archers simply fired arrows rapidly at random, in my general direction, most of them hitting the ground around me or embedding themselves into Hong Meiling's body. Too tired and weak to stand up, I simply lay there, hoping none of those arrows would punch through the gatekeeper's body and hit me anywhere important... until someone's strong, muscular arm pulled me out from under there and hoist me up onto the back of the said arm's owner. Another minion, come to carry me off to the meat wagon to become food for that abomination in the basement? No... apparently it was Youki, carrying me towards the mansion, cutting his way through the gate with the longer of his swords, followed closely behind by Alice, hovering backwards and blasting soldiers behind us, while her dolls hovered up to the archers, blocking their arrows with their own bodies, attacking them, pulling and pushing them off the balconies to their falls.

Once we made it in through the front doors, Youki turned and slammed them shut, grabbing a nearby coathanger and barring the door by sliding it through the handles in a manner that prevented the door from being opened from the outside. The hole through which I had first entered had been haphazardly repaired, too. Meanwhile, Alice reached into one of my coat pockets, pulling out the map and motioning for Youki to follow her.

"This way. We need to get to that clock tower."

"Of course." Not even bothering to put me down, Youki went after her, the two jogging through the hallways, to the mansion foyer, up the stairs and past the sealed door, then took a turn towards the hall leading towards the large clock tower. It looked quite high and very impressive from the outside, but navigating our way up with me in such a state would probably be a pain... Noticing my involuntary groaning, Alice stopped with a concerned frown, grey eyes glancing up at me on Youki's back.

"Are you quite alright?" she asked, motioning for Youki to let me down for a moment, which he did in the most careful manner possible; even so, I flinched in pain. Not only was my entire body badly bruised and battered, but I had indeed cracked a few ribs, and my right arm was still dislocated at the shoulder. When I opened my mouth to give her a nice and sarcastic response along the lines of 'never better', she simply pressed her fingertips to my lips, silencing me and sharking her head.
"The average human would be dead ten times over in your condition. You can't go on like this."

"Ugh... You're overreacting." I turned my head and spat; my saliva was disturbingly red, but a quick check with the tongue revealed that I still had all of my teeth. Good.
"I'll be fine. I just need to - ack! - catch my breath, and I'll be good to go..." Having said that, I struggled to get up on my feet, only to be pushed down again by a very concerned seeming Alice, frowning at me rather angrily.

"No, you won't be fine. You might be able to walk, but for how long? We can't afford to have you drop dead from exhaustion in the middle of battle. After all, you're-..."

"What?" I snapped at her, getting frustrated.
"'Just a human'? That's what you were going to say, right? I'm not going to be a damn load, I just-..."

"I was going to say that you're-... ugh, never mind. Just..." Gosh, I had never seen her look quite so frustrated. What was she so damn pissed off about, anyway? If anyone there had a right to be annoyed, it was me.

Eventually, Youki felt the need to speak up - surprisingly, he seemed to be on my side in the given argument.
"A person know the limits of their own body the best. It is not your place to force the hunter to stay out of battle." Alice gave her a bit of a hateful look in response.

"Ugh. You're useless, old man."

Youki merely shrugged at her.





[] I'll be fine. Just... let me stay back in the next few fights, so I can catch my breath...
[] Well... Maybe a little bit of rest can't hurt... Just five minutes, or... zzz...

-------

Finally, site works again. Sorry about that.

I decided to cut out an insignificant style choice somewhere in the middle of this and just made the update longer during the wait. Still not sure if I'm happy with it, though... Granted, it might just be inadequacy paranoia provoked by >>40402 and >>40436 (no offense to the readers in question), and me being afraid of disappointing your expectations.
Oh well. Here it is.
>> No. 40461
[x] Well... Maybe a little bit of rest can't hurt... Just five minutes, or... zzz...

Dense Hunter is Dense.
>> No. 40462
[x] Well... Maybe a little bit of rest can't hurt... Just five minutes, or... zzz...
Poor Meiling. She somehow became a gag character.
>> No. 40463
[] Well... Maybe a little bit of rest can't hurt... Just five minutes, or... zzz...

Rather recover a bit so as to not waste any useful resources later.

WHERE ARE THOSE FUCKING PORK CHOPS?! EVEN NOW THEY'RE AS ELUSIVE AS EVER!
>> No. 40464
[x] I'll be fine. Just... let me stay back in the next few fights, so I can catch my breath...

Gotta keep on the move. Meiling's still not dead.
>> No. 40466
[x] Well... Maybe a little bit of rest can't hurt... Just five minutes, or... zzz...

Meiling will be back but the question is if it's better to rest up a bit before she gets back or if we can get the next key before we get attacked again if we act now.
>> No. 40470
[x] I'll be fine. Just... let me stay back in the next few fights, so I can catch my breath...

We can rest when we're dead.
>> No. 40473
[x] Well... Maybe a little bit of rest can't hurt... Just five minutes, or... zzz...

We will probably wake up just in time to deliver some serious asskicking.
>> No. 40474
>>40473
Asskicking with broken ribs and a dislocated shoulder would probably be pretty serious indeed.
>> No. 40478
[x] Well... Maybe a little bit of rest can't hurt... Just five minutes, or... zzz...
We still have the most dangerous foe ahead before facing Remilia.
>> No. 40479
[x] Well... Maybe a little bit of rest can't hurt... Just five minutes, or... zzz...

I don't think we've ever gotten it quite this bad before in the story, and I don't think we could handle much more without a little recuperation.
>> No. 40482
[x] Well... Maybe a little bit of rest can't hurt... Just five minutes, or... zzz...

Who want's to bet that Meiling will come back from this as well?
>> No. 40487
>>40482

Something simple as a broken neck? She was nearly beheaded before, and came back good as new.

Goddamn Terminator and all that.
>> No. 40488
[x] Well... Maybe a little bit of rest can't hurt... Just five minutes, or... zzz...
>> No. 40512
>>40487
>Something simple as a broken neck?

Something as a clean or even a rather sloppy cut is one thing. A crumpled nervous system where instead of the being torn it's malformed is another.

Might have to decapitate her for her to recovery properly, not to mention the number of arrows that plunged into her body.
>> No. 40513
>>40512
This might actually keep her down for 20 minutes.
>> No. 40545
Migraine tonight. Worse than usual.

The first of a streak of flimsy excuses? Let's hope not. I've at least got one paragraph written and a good idea of what I want to do with this. I was hoping to get it done quickly tonight, as this one's going to be pretty short before a choice moment, but... yeah.

Sage for useless writefag that doesn't write.
>> No. 40548
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40548
>>40545
>Sage for useless writefag
Only good for its sex-appeal?
>> No. 40550
>>40548
hmmmm
this story could use some moon bunnies assassins.
>> No. 40576
>>40545

It's now the next day.

Your head feeling better?
>> No. 40710
>>40545
Not trying to be rude, Taisa, just checking in. Everything feeling okay?
>> No. 40724
Ugh, I'm still here. Just... give me just a little while. Busy work period and health issues chasing each other around in circles.

I really want to update this, though. Stay tuned.
>> No. 40730
>>40724
Don't worry too much! Healthy and happy writefag is quality writefag. Status updates are nice, though (perhaps I just need to actually check irc).
>> No. 40754
>>40724
We shall wait.
>> No. 40794
As >>40730, I kind of want to point something out.

While I have on more than one occasion asked for a status update from Taisa (both in GH and in Touhouvania), I'm not the one doing it in giant walls of text in the GH thread on /th/.

I'm not that self-important.

Also, deleted and saged in hopes this would undo my bump. TOO LATE I SUPPOSE.
>> No. 40881
>>40794
>giant walls of text in the GH thread on /th/
oh god what
>> No. 40886
>>40881
Just some faggot assuming GH was dead.
>> No. 41493
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41493
Youki's and Alice's incessant bickering gradually faded from my ears as I shut my eyes, intending to take just a short break and catch my breath until they were done. The dull aching of my, uh, everything, did little to counter my fatigue. With a bitter smile weakly spreading across my face, I simply dozed off, the pain gradually melting away (to my great relief) as my consciousness faded. Now, the risks versus benefits in falling asleep while in a state of lying down in a slowly increasing pool of your own blood are obviously debatable, but quite frankly I didn't give a crap anymore at that point.
Didn't give a crap...
about anything...
not even...
...
...death itself.

...

...

...

A light nudge.
Ugh, leave me alone.
Fine, fine... I'm awake. I open my eyes...
...And stare right into the face of a feminine figure donned in a black cloak and hood, brandishing a scythe that seemed more ceremonial than combat-purpose. The spirit guide removed her hood, revealing a familiar head of red hair tied in two short pigtails, as well as a rather sad look on her face.

"Ah... The ferrywoman."

"Reaper, actually, right now," she responded dryly, with a hint of remorse in her words, looking down at me with an expression I could only surmise as to be feeling sorry for me. Odd for a reaper, I thought.
"We're a little short on staff at the moment, so some of us do a little of both when necessary." I hadn't noticed it before, but her speech had a mild... accent to it. It's difficult (for me, at least) to explain to non-native Japanese speakers, but think of it as the Japanese equivalent of a 'southern' accent when compared to American English. Why was I noticing such insignificant things while sitting down in a vampire's mansion, again?

"Heh." Guess that meant I had managed to bleed out or drown in my own vomit or something during my little nap there. It's funny, the pain disappears completely when you die. An absolutely lovely numbness permeating my entire body, I stretched myself a little, idly trying to remember where all of my countless bruises and broken bones had been. I decided not to bother - gift horse, mouth, that sort of thing. Numb is goood.

Goddamn, Hong Meiling certainly beat the shit out of me back there, didn't she?

"So, how may I be of help to you, miss reaper?"

There was a brief moment of silence, with me smiling dumbly in her general direction, her red eyes peering right back into mine, eyelids narrowed just slightly, a frown on her face. The woman didn't seem to take jokes well.

"I believe you know exactly why I am here. I had hoped we would not meet again so soon..."

"'So soon'? Well, I suppose it's only been several hours since you helped me across the lake, but-..."

"That is not what I am referring to," she interrupted me quite bluntly, that serious look still on her face. Odd, had I encountered her again recently and forgotten about it?
"But that is not important right now." With a heavy sigh, she tapped the shaft of her scythe against the floor; everything around us seemed to ripple for a moment. Then, she turned around, grasping the ceremonial scythe in her hands and carving a 'hole' into the space before herself. As she stepped aside, my eyes beheld a rather unusual sight - through this hole hanging in the air before me, i could see a distant place - a long, wide river, with countless bright red flowers growing on its shores, more real than any television image could ever hope to be. Through my experiences in dealing with various magical people, beings and creatures, I gathered that this must have been some manner of portal to... wherever that place was.
"The Sanzu River." Another heavy sigh.
"Shall we be off, then?"

"You're awfully reluctant while doing your job, aren't you? You seemed a lot less... I can't even think of a good word. You seemed a little different, back when you gave me that boat ride."

"And you are awfully persistent," she responded, ignoring the latter half of my previous query, leaning in my direction and reaching out a hand to help me up.
"I only pray that the next-... ah." Before I could grab her hand, she recoiled slightly, pulling out of my reach.
"...Perhaps I was hasty after all."

Huh.

"What are you talking abou-..."

-SLAP-

...

"Ouch! What the hell are you-..." Lightly rubbing my cheek with mild annoyance at the sharp yet not-quite-full-strength slap the reaper had inexplicably delivered to my face with the hand I had been reaching for, I blinked my eyes once or twice. My temporarily blurred vision gradually re-sharpened itself as the woman standing before me came into clear view again.
It was Alice. In one hand, she was holding a pouch she had brought from the Kirisame household when she took some of her old belongings with her - it looked considerably lighter than before. The other hand had just slapped me awake, apparently.

"You need to wake up. Now." A hand reached for me in assistance yet again. I glanced around in confusion, spotting Youki a few steps to the side, facing in the direction of the mansion entrance, his hand resting on the hilt of one of his swords. Muffled crashing sounds could be heard periodically, accompanied by a familiar female voice barking orders left and right.
"They're breaking through the door. I managed to patch you up a little, you should be able to move now."

"Huh, wha...?"
Still disoriented, I tried reaching out my arm to grab her hand, but instantly winced as my entire body sent out a slow, dull aching pulse, crippling my movements. While it was nowhere near as anguishing as before, this was not saying much - it still hurt. Still, the pain was somehow... distant, dull. I could hear the ocean in my ears. My vision seemed unnaturally clear, and any unimportant background noises were drowned out to me. Like the effect of some manner of adrenaline shot.

"Come on now, I haven't carried your ass around this long for you to drop dead now!" Grasping my arm firmly enough to send another jolt of pain through my numbed nervous system, she hoisted my limp form up from the floor, steadying me by pulling one of my arms over her back and carrying me along down a hall headed in the direction of the clock tower.
"Youki, we're going!"

"As you command, milady," Youki muttered quietly, drawing the longer of his two blades and eyeing the ceiling directly above us. Glancing over my shoulder, I noticed that he had, at some point, cut through the floor in front of him in various places. What he was looking at turned out to be a large ornate chandelier, one of several decorating the hallways of the Scarlet Devil mansion. Without warning, he suddenly leapt into the air, kicking himself back and forth between the walls of the narrow hallway for increased altitude until he reached the chandelier, grappling onto it and climbing on top of it. As the chandelier gently swayed under his weight, he swiftly delivered a clean slice through the chain suspending it, sending it hurtling down to the floor below - right before the inevitable crash, he propelled himself off in our direction, landing on his feet a good distance away as the chandelier loudly smashed a sizeable hole through the floor, tumbling loudly all the way down to the basement/dungeon complex below the mansion itself.
"That should keep them off our tails for a while," he smirked as he caught up with us, grabbing me under the other arm and assisting Alice in carrying me.

By the time we made it down the hallway and up the staircase leading to the clock tower door, I had recovered enough to walk on my own, feeling the strength gradually returning to my limbs.
"I'm amazed those medicines of yours had managed to stay in working order after all those years..." Rubbing my side, where I recalled having cracked a rib or two, I could only feel a light stinging remaining; my hand was quickly pulled away by Alice, frowning at me with a stern look on her face.
"...They were in working order, right?"

"Naturally. Magically prepared medicines and healing salves can last decades, even centuries. I'd imagine a dungeon crawler by profession like yourself would be used to finding who-knows-how-old potions left by dead adventurers..." She coughed lightly, removing her hand from me and glancing at the padlock on the door before us. Then, she coiled a string from the fingertip of her gauntlet around the shackle and pulled it tight, the string slicing right through the metal after a bit of exertion.
"Besides, I'm not -that- old."

"You knew old man Kirisame back when he was still young, didn't you?"

She smirked lightly, pushing the door open. It had apparently been used and oiled recently, as it lacked the stereotypical creepy creak you'd expect, opening with barely any noise.
"He's not as old as he looks, either. An adventurer's life will do that to you."

"And," I started, now curious, "you spent a lot of time working together with him, then?"

"Yes. We did a lot of exploring, magical research, that sort of thing... Leaving behind any real home, making do by either camping in the wilderness or staying at local villages in return for favors and the like, slaying whatever monsters were plaguing them or taking care of bandit groups harassing the populace. You know, typical adventurer stuff."

"Killing rats in peoples' basements..."

"Hey, we had standards," she remarked with amusement in her voice.

"...So, that blonde girl that seemed to get along with you so well..?"

"Eh? Marisa? What about her-..." She looked at me briefly in confusion, before realizing what I was getting at.
"Oh, no. No no no no. Nothing like that, at all, no." Waving her hands at me and shaking her head in denial, I couldn't help but notice a mild hint of an old and forgotten envy burning in those bright green eyes of hers.
"Well, we, ah... entertained the thought of taking our relationship past professional limits at one point, but... It didn't work out. I became a youkai magician, he wanted a wife he could grow old together with, you know."

"I... really don't know, but I think I can understand, yes."

"Mmm. He seems to have a thing for blonde, foreign women, though. Marisa's got her mother's hair. We stayed good friends since then, though, so I've been something like an aunt to little Marisa. His wife's not the healthiest thing in the world, so I sometimes help out by going to pick up her medicines from the village nurse, miss Satsuki, and bring them over, staying around for tea and such. Hm, come to think of it..." A bit of a melancholy look in her eyes now, she looked up into the ceiling in thought.
"It had been a while since I last visited. Thanks for the opportunity." We kind of just stood there in somewhat awkward silence for a few moments, Youki having drawn back respecftfully some time ago so as not to eavesdrop. Eventually, she gripped the door handle, pushing it open and gesturing to me with a smile.

"Right. Let's go, then. Youki?"

"Right behind you," came the swordsman's reply, as he followed us into the clock tower itself.

...The noise was deafening. Ticking, tocking, the clack-clack-clattering of gears grinding against gears, orderly chaos, a chaotic order; it took a while for us to adjust to the constant noise and take in the amazing sight before us. The interior of the tower was... vast, towering so far above us that we could not see the end past all the clockwork mechanisms that filled the shaft, yet it was also incredibly wide, far wider than we would have guessed from looking at it from the outside. The interior walls were decorated with countless gorgoneia, for some reason. Here and there, moonlight shone in from small barred windows to the outside. Leading upwards was a long, very long spiralling stairway - climbing up by the stairs would likely take forever, I figured, rubbing my aching sides in thought. As we paused in awe of the complexity of this clockwork behemoth, Alice quietly whispered to me.
"...Looks like a long way up." Nodding to her, I couldn't help but notice Youki staring pensively at the colossal swinging pendulum hanging from all the way at the top, slowly rocking back and forth between the gears and gadgets assembled around it, reaching all the way down to our height and below, dipping into a dark chasm underneath us. Was he considering using it to climb up and continue along the clockwork itself? Granted, going straight up would likely be faster than climbing the stairs, but it would also be far trickier. Alice could hover, sure, but Youki and I would have to scale the gears, rotating beams and seemingly randomly placed swinging pendulums, careful not to fall or be crushed between the machinery.

...Exciting~

"I wonder what we'll face at the top."

"Who knows," I mumbled, still calculating my options.
"Whatever it is - or whoever it is - I intend to get that last key and face Remilia Scarlet, once and for all. This little game of hers has gone on far too long."




[] No, I'm not in any condition to go climbing up any clockwork right now. The stairs it is, as time-consuming as it might be.
[] Platforming is in my blood, I tell you! I'll show that old geezer how it's done, injuries or no injuries.

-------

Oh boy. Picking the next BGM won't be easy. There are literally almost no non-awesome Clock Tower themes.

Also, I've finally got nothing to do for the next two weeks. Let's see if I can make use of this newfound free time, for a change.
>> No. 41494
[x] No, I'm not in any condition to go climbing up any clockwork right now. The stairs it is, as time-consuming as it might be.
You will need all the energy later on. A rest won't hurt.
>> No. 41497
[x] No, I'm not in any condition to go climbing up any clockwork right now. The stairs it is, as time-consuming as it might be.

>>41494

Hey that's not fun MC almost died that way.
>> No. 41501
[X] No, I'm not in any condition to go climbing up any clockwork right now. The stairs it is, as time-consuming as it might be.

All those "you can rest when you're dead" jokes? They're not funny anymore.
>> No. 41503
>>41497
lol'd. Anyway, it's time to meet our senpai. Or something. I don't know.
On an unrelated note, I found the chat between the MC and Alice really well-written and entertaining. Dunno why, really, it just felt that way.

[x] No, I'm not in any condition to go climbing up any clockwork right now. The stairs it is, as time-consuming as it might be.
>> No. 41505
[x] No, I'm not in any condition to go climbing up any clockwork right now. The stairs it is, as time-consuming as it might be.
>decorated with countless gorgoneia, for some reason
All of my hate. All of it.
>> No. 41512
[x] Platforming is in my blood, I tell you! I'll show that old geezer how it's done, injuries or no injuries.

There is one way to go through a clock tower.
>> No. 41514
[x] Platforming is in my blood, I tell you! I'll show that old geezer how it's done, injuries or no injuries.

Hope you guys are ready for no Sakuya.
>> No. 41515
[x] Platforming is in my blood, I tell you! I'll show that old geezer how it's done, injuries or no injuries.

>>41493
>There are literally almost no non-awesome Clock Tower themes.

No kidding as there is a nice variety out there. In fact the clock tower does not have a specifically designated track as it can range from Bloody Tears, Aquarius, Gears Go Awry etcetera.

SCIV
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YVOMsDJXdVM

Cva-Rebirth
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NxArzb7tjjU

AoS
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bg2ojV4eY8w

Castlevania 64/Legacy of Darkness
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=366cM9e-9HE

Castlevania NES:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=261kBI_ma4Y

Castlevania Chronicles:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2MpwZP8_r3s

Rondo of Blood:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uAZEXbhoXuI

Harmony of Dissonance:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mtpI4Lvk9_M

DoS:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NgvV04RsCP4

OoE:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fdcJebTDyUk

PoR: (probably my current absolute favorite)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e3Q3UuaUR7I

I hope you enjoy trying them all out as I have hehhehhehheh
>> No. 41519
File 12819022211.jpg- (132.43KB , 576x513 , 222.jpg ) [iqdb]
41519
BGM: "Eneomaos Machine Tower"
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ElT0PpvBno4

-------

As much as the thrill of scaling a chaotic mess of constantly moving machinery called to me, Alice's stern glare reminded me not to test my overly-motherly companion's patience. Despite not being in much pain anymore, it would likely take a while longer for me to heal enough to become fit enough for acrobatics and combat and whatnot. On the upside, we couldn't sense any guards at all within the clock tower - how boring. Even after being nearly crippled not too long ago, I felt a need to find something evil and tear it apart; stress relief and all that.
"The stairs, then?" I turned to Alice, who simply nodded in response.

"I will go ahead and scout for traps or guardians," Youki muttered quietly, all of a sudden. Before either of us could react, he leapt to the large swinging pendulum in the middle of the tower, grabbing on to it and scaling up as if he were climbing a tree; he then promptly leapt off, grabbing on to a chain which was moving upwards, carrying him along with it until he passed out of sight amidst the constantly revolving gears.

"...Quite nimble, isn't he? And just about as reckless as yourself," Alice remarked with only a mild hint of scorn this time. Apparently the two were starting to get along a little better - camaraderie is quick to breed in times of distress. In any case, we decided it to be best if we didn't fall too far behind, and started our long, long journey up the spiralling staircase. Our ears had gotten used to the constant ticking and clacking of the various clock tower mechanisms around us already by that point, giving us time to properly admire how vast and intricate this colossal construct truly was. You really have to respect even monsters when they manage to create something so... paradoxically beautiful. A functioning clockwork mechanism is among the ultimate embodiments of order in the world, whereas creatures of the night are embodiments of chaos. This gigantic clock tower, stretching high to the heavens yet denied by God like the mythical tower of Babel itself, would be considered a true wonder of the world... if the outside world were allowed to know about it. Indeed, it was quite a shame that I would have to see it, along with the rest of the mansion, destroyed once my duty was done.

Ah well - if I could rid the world of a vampire in the process, it would be considered a net gain.

"So," I figured I should start some conversation to pass the time as we slowly climbed the stairs, "how bad was it? My injuries, I mean."

Alice paused for a moment in thought, pressing a finger to her chin and probably emitting a pensive 'hmm' that was drowned out by the sound of the machinery around us.
"Bruises pretty much all over your body - especially your neck. You've got quite a handprint, there. A few cracked ribs, but luckily you didn't manage to get a punctured lung or anything. No other -serious- bone fractures..." Serious?
"...A dislocated arm. You're going to feel that in the morning - I honestly don't envy you." I rubbed my shoulder absent-mindedly, not looking forward to it myself; assuming I survived this whole ordeal, that is.
"Various other unsightly injuries that should heal up nicely... Now, those cracked ribs of yours aren't going to magically heal themselves, so please... don't overexert yourself."

"Yes, mother."

"Oh, and... Apparently that fancy outfit of yours that the vampire gave you..."

"What about it?" I asked curiously.

"Well, it seems to have protected you from getting hurt any more than you already did. Whatever fabric it's made of, it took most of the brunt from the gateguard's attacks." Lightly brushing some dirt off my longcoat, she gestured at it to show me what she meant.
"Notice how the coat itself is completely undamaged."

"...Huh. You're right. I hadn't noticed." And it still looked stylish as hell, too. Nice. Though...

...What exactly was Remilia Scarlet doing, giving me an advantage like this? Toying with me? Or did those clothes have any hidden negative sides that would bite me in the ass when I least expected it? Or does she have something more sinister in mind that I could not even imagine? As unnerving as the thought was, I didn't quite feel like stripping down to my underwear just because of paranoia, either. I decided I would let it be, for now.

"At least your face wasn't hurt too badly," Alice added after a short pause, an amused smirk spreading across her face as she averted her gaze from me, seemingly just to look at some random bit of machinery to the side.

"Oh yeah?" Drawing the Kusanagi from its hilt, I used its blade to try and catch a reflection of my face - not very easy in the low light of the clock tower interior. And then there was the issue of all the blood on the blade... A bit of a rub here and there, and I got it clean enough to get a decent look at myself. A scratch here, a bruise there, not too bad. Jaw felt a little stiff, but that'd likely go away on its own.

Clocks, clocks everywhere along the walls as we went further and further up along the staircase. However... each clock showed a different time, each clock moved at a different speed. One or two even seemed to be moving backwards. Even Alice, usually so cool and collected, seemed to be slightly affected by the chaotic nature of this area. As for myself, my experiences with that little pocketwatch of mine had allowed me a more flexible perspective of time and space. In any case, we pressed on, ever higher, the top still far from visible.

Suddenly--

"Be careful!" Youki?

"Wha-..." Before I could properly react, a tile of stone I stepped upon made a light -click- noise, and one of the gorgoneia on the wall promptly launched out like a cannonball, hitting me square in the side and exploding into tiny pieces of rock, the force knocking me off the side of the stairs to the sound of a very shocked Alice's gasp.

You'd think they'd have had guard rails or something.

...

Fortunately, I had managed to grab on to the ledge before plummeting to my doom, and Alice managed to pull me back up. Rubbing my aching sides, I took a glance around the area, ignoring her concerns for my well-being for the moment.

The eyes of all the gorgon faces on the walls had lit up, bright red glows emanating from the sockets like crimson rubies. In the dust of the one medusa head that had smashed into me, we could see what looked like faint laser trails following their gazes - both in front of us and behind. So, I had inadvertently activated some manner of trap...

"I did warn you," shouted Youki to us from a high-above platform, a massive horizontal gear very slowly rotating clockwise, with him casually pacing along its side while looking down at us, hands folded behind his back..
"The entire tower seems to be full of the damned things. One false step, and you'll be knocked down to your deaths."

"Seems you chose the safer path, huh," I responded, sending a glance at Alice, which she did not return. Grabbing a piece of stone left behind by that one medusa head, I threw it forward, through the line of sight of the next medusa head on our path - it instantly launched itself out of the wall, smashing into the machinery in the middle of the tower; the gears were completely undisturbed by this, crushing the stone into a fine powder between their teeth. I'd hate to have seen what they could do to human limbs.

"...This could be fun, you know."

"I somehow doubt that," Alice responded, not sharing my enthusiasm for our present situation. After a brief sigh, she joined me by my side, keeping an eye on the locations of the next most likely to launch out at us - both on the wall closest to us, and the one opposite of us.

"Let's go!" And with that, we dashed forward at full speed. Dozens of stone medusa heads catapulted forth from walls all around us, some even flying at odd trajectories from above or below, the two of us ducking, jumping, stopping and rolling to avoid them as they crashed into pieces around us, painful stone shards and fragments scraping at our skin. The further we got, the more dense the barrage - I grabbed my whip and managed to smash a few medusa heads at range before they got to us, although using such a weapon proved to be tricky in the clock tower, as I risked getting it caught between the gears. Meanwhile, Alice sent out a handful of her dolls to weave a sort of safety net from their strings - that is, the strings from her gauntlet. This way, we were constantly protected from at least one side, as any medusa heads passing through the net would be sliced into smaller, mostly harmless pieces, and lose most of their momentum. Youki didn't simply stand and watch, either; he managed to intercept most of the medusa heads coming from above, slashing them apart with his swords.

"Uh-oh."

"What is it?" Alice snapped at me, focusing too hard on avoiding and blocking the countless potentially lethal stone projectiles flying in our general direction to keep her tone of voice pleasant.

"The staircase." It was... out of service. Or, to be more accurate, it had apparently crumbled over the years; it simply stopped without warning several feet ahead of us. Or, perhaps, it was destroyed on purpose to impede our progress?

Luckily, Youki quickly came to the rescue.
"Up here," he shouted, reaching down and offering us a hand - granted, we were still a good distance from him, and the massive gear he was crouched upon. Also, there was the matter of being bombarded with medusa heads.

"Alice, you fly."

"But what abou-..."

Naturally, I didn't have time to argue with her, so I simply got what little of a running start I could manage, and jumped off the staircase, arm outreached, just barely managing to grab onto Youki's hand, nearly pulling him down along with myself. Alice quickly flew over to the two of us, grabbing my other hand and assisting Youki in pulling me up onto the gear.

A simultaneous, echoing KA-CHUNK could be heard as our combined weight pressed down upon the gear, followed by a rapid succession of smaller ka-chunks; reacting instantly, we drew out respective weapons and pressed our backs together, defending ourselves from a barrage of medusa heads from all directions. Due to the limited space I had to swing around in, I found the Kusanagi more useful than the whip in the given situation, occasionally managing to channel enough energy into the blade for a quick gust of wind, redirecting particularly dense barrages away from us - apparently its powers worked indoors as well. How convenient. Youki had resorted to using both of his swords, covering both himself and our sides with incredible dexterity, whereas Alice had woven another web of razor wire before herself, using her dolls to deflect any stray projectiles away from us. What felt like a small eternity probably passed in but a few seconds, but the medusa heads finally stopped... for the time being. Catching our breath would prove to be difficult, as the air was thick with dust. The gear-platform revolved slowly enough to not cause too much disorientation or discomfort.

"...Phew. Well, it looks like we'll be continuing the rest of the way along the clockwork after all." Sending a tired smile at Alice, I merely got a roll of the eyes in return. Glancing upwards, I thought I could see the top getting closer.
"We seem to be about halfway there. Funny, how running for your life speeds up travel."

"Not so fast," Youki interjected, "there is something I believe you should see before we continue. It is why I waited for you here." Motioning for us to follow, he lead us to the center of the gear we were standing upon, where a long, thick vertical beam went through the gear, to which it was attached, rotating it. As if for decoration, sitting on the surface of the gear and leaning against the beam was a stone statue of Medusa - a woman with a snake's lower body, and snakes for hair, one of the gorgon sisters of Greek myth - wielding a sword with red decorations in one hand and a very shiny, reflective shield in the other. The statue's eyes were covered by what seemed to be a cloth blindfold. Examining the sword more closely, I could make out what seemed to be some sort of engraving in the dust-covered surface of the blade...

"...Écarlate. Hm."

"The sword and shield do not appear to be parts of the statue itself," he added. Indeed, it was more like the statue was actually holding a proper sword in its hand. It looked like it - or the shield - could possibly be removed from its grasp, too.

"While I can certainly appreciate a good treasure hunt," Alice's somewhat disgruntled voice sounded from behind us, as she dusted off her dress, "I hardly think we have time for such things right now. We can come back and admire the statue after we've done what we came here to do. Unless..." Joining us at the statue, she examined the blade and shield more closely, before curiously glancing at the out-of-place seeming blindfold.
"...you think this is important, somehow?"

Hmm.




[] ...No, not important. Let's keep going.
[] Maybe.
-{} Examine the sword more closely.
-{} Examine the shield more closely.
-{} Examine the blindfold more closely.
>> No. 41520
[X] Maybe.
-{X} Examine the shield more closely.

If it happens to wake up, I'd like to go all Perseus on its ass.
>> No. 41521
>>41520
Good thinking. Besides, a sword can always use a shield, or so they say.

[X] Maybe.
-{X} Examine the shield more closely.
>> No. 41522
[X] Maybe.
-{X} Examine the shield more closely.

Mucking with the blindfold sounds like a good way to get killed.
>> No. 41523
[x] Maybe.
-{x} Examine the shield more closely.
>> No. 41526
[x] Maybe
-{x} Examine the blindfold more closely.
The blindfold is out of place for a reason. Shits suspicious.
>> No. 41528
>>41526
I think it was in reference to how it was around a "statue's" eyes.
>> No. 41529
-{X} Examine the shield more closely.

This will do
>> No. 41534
[X] Maybe.
-{X} Examine the shield more closely.

Medusa's gaze can turn people to stone, so I'll leave that blindfold on for now.

Also, Medusa was a boss in the Castlevania games.
>> No. 41544
[x] Maybe
-[x] Examine the shield more closely.
>> No. 41546
[x] Maybe
-[x] Examine the shield more closely.

Another update? You spoil us.
>> No. 41549
[X] Maybe.
-{X} Examine the shield more closely.

Certain Medusa heads in Castlevania can actually change their target to stone by merely touching them. or in this case "paralyze" their victims here in Touhouvania.
>> No. 41563
File 128199366841.jpg- (134.34KB , 650x905 , 5f2e53e58b10cff2bdec64b97eea0a52.jpg ) [iqdb]
41563
>>41546
I suppose I did deserve that dose of sarcasm. I'm sorry.

-------

"...Maybe. Let me get a closer look."

Walking over to the worryingly life-like statue, I took care not to make too many sudden movements, or to step on any other hidden switches.

"Careful, now," Alice reminded me from behind, slowly hovering along with me while keeping constant watch for booby traps and whatnot, Youki staying where he was with swords still drawn. As we got closer to the statue, it...
...didn't do anything. Well, obviously - it was a freaking statue, after all. Still, I couldn't help but feel wary for some reason; like I was being watched, through that blindfold. Best leave it alone for now, I figured at the time, more out of irrational nerves than reason. Leaning closer to the blade in the statue's right hand, Alice peered at it from both sides with moderate curiosity.
"Écarlate, huh..."

"It's French. It means 'Scarlet'." You have to pick up a few foreign languages in my profession - it helps you deal with the locals when the Church sends you off to various countries all over the world. Meet new people, see exotic places! That'd make for a wicked recruitment poster. At least they cover your travel expenses, albeit begrudgingly. Also lets you engage in pre-battle banter with foreign monsters!

"Huh, that's odd. Aren't names normally left untranslated?"

"'Scarlet' is the name the vampire gave herself after she was turned. Or so I've heard." I shrugged, turning my attention to the shield.
"Probably wanted to go for a more 'international' appeal. Or thought it sounded more menacing. Who knows, who cares?" What I was far more interested in at the moment was the purpose behind this oddly-placed piece of decoration, and the weapon and shield it was wielding. Tugging on the shield once or twice to see if I could dislodge it from the stone grip it was locked in, I quickly gave up; it was stuck, alright.

At the sound of my disappointed sigh, Alice turned her attention away from the sword for the moment.
"What's the matter?"

"The shield's stuck in the statue's grip. I wonder how they managed to do that. Can't get it loose."

"Hmm." Approaching me - walking, this time, she leaned down to peek at the stone hand grasping onto the shield's handle.
"...I could probably loosen this, actually," she muttered quietly, pulling out one of her dolls. The artificial little girl in a blue dress performed a cute curtsey, before flying under the shield, sitting down upon the statue's fist and giving us a thumbs-up.

"Hey, hey; won't you damage the shield with that bomb doll of yours?"

"Relax," Alice dismissed my concerns, "it's not one of the high-explosive ones. It should just break the rock, and leave the metal mostly intact." She paused for a moment.
"...Maybe a scratch or mild dent, here or there. Nothing serious."

"Right... Well, go ahead, then." Despite being assured that the explosion wouldn't be too, ah, destructive, I took a good several steps back, joining Youki at the edge of the giant gear on which we stood. Alice gave her doll one last loving pat on the head before floating over to the two of us; with a bit of a sad sigh, she held out one of her hands, a taut dollstring extending from a ring on her glove to the doll at the statue, and pulled on it.

BANG

...followed by a light crackling noise as shards of rock fell onto the surface of the platform, soon followed by the clang of the shield, loosened from the statue's grip. I promptly jogged over to examine the shield more properly, leaning down and turning it around in my hands. No significant damage from the explosion, indeed - the handle was only slightly scorched, and bits of burnt doll hair were scattered across the shield's inner surface. Sadly, further study of the shield itself yielded disappointing results, as I couldn't sense any magical properties within it. All of a sudden, I was roused from my thoughts by a strange noise, coming from nearby - not the steady dropping of more stone shards from the damaged statue, but something else entirely.

Chaka-chaka-chaka-chakchakchakchakchaka

"Look out!" Youki's shout prompted me to look up, and not a moment too soon - where I expected to see a statue missing a hand, I could instead see a living, scaled hand protruding from underneath a thin stone shell, grasping and flailing, the stone steadily crackling off Medusa's skin - that rattling sound was the tip of her tail, already freed from the rock and swinging about wildly, the rattle on the tip shaking violently. Dropping the shield (...dumbass...), I scampered backwards, tripping over my own heels and falling over. Just then, Medusa's head and torso burst free from the weakened stone shell, an incredibly loud hissing noise drowning out all other noise as the snakes on her head took their first breaths in what must have been years, maybe centuries. The gorgon herself let out a high-pitched shriek, her voice inhuman and sickening - in response, the platform we were all standing on spontaneously started rising.

Now, this all happened within the span of a few seconds, at most. The moment Medusa sensed my presence she reached for the blindfold before her eyes, removing it - getting over my surprise at this unexpected (no, really!) turn of events, I turned away and shut my eyes as quickly as I could, crawling back and away from the monster...

Alice gasped from behind me.
"Y-Youki!"

Surprised and curious, I took a chance and opened one eye, carefully peeking forward as Alice rushed to my side and helped me back on my feet... only to see Youki standing between Medusa and myself, petrified into stone by her gaze. At the same time, using the sword in her hand, the gorgon smashed her way out of the rest of the stone that had kept her imprisoned, cackling in our direction in a malicious manner.

Oh, shit.

-------

BGM: "Snakeheaded Medusa"
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0GIm9bK9YMY

-------

Motioning for Alice to fly off the platform and avoid Medusa's gaze, I lunged for the shield, rolling across the surface of the platform to grab it, ducking behind the now statue-fied Youki for cover after picking it back up. As I couldn't afford to look directly at Medusa for obvious reasons, I had to handle this fight by ear - or by looking at her reflection in the shiny shield in my hand..

Gonna go Perseus on its ass for petrifying my companion like that.

The platform kept rising higher and higher, disregarding all the clockwork machinery in its path - in fact, it simply smashed its way right through it, leaving the snake lady and myself to avoid getting crushed by various gears and pendulums and whatnot as we ascended towards them. Regardless of the damage this elevator-like mechanism was dealing to the clock tower's interior, it didn't seem to impede the working order of the tower in the slightest, as if the machinery it was destroying was purely superfluous, only there to serve as an obstacle - further adding to the chaotic aura of this portion of the mansion.

Wait, enough description of our surroundings, it's boss battle time.

I darted out from behind Youki, keeping the shield aimed at Medusa at all times as I stopped on the opposite edge of the platform from her. Would the shield's reflective surface get her to petrify herself, perhaps?
...Nope, she was just fine. Apparently gorgons do not work that way. Keeping my petrified companion between us at all times, I lowered the shield from my eyes, carefully pacing left and right along with the monstrous woman. She was apparently amused by this, treating it as a game of sorts at first; spinning the sword in her hand around to distract me, she would attempt to catch me off-guard, sticking her head out from behind the statue from either side, yet each time I would manage to hide my eyes just in time. Naturally, I couldn't just keep them closed the whole time - I had to keep out of reach of her weapon, as well as avoid random machinery along the way as the platform escalated further. Each time it knocked some gears loose, the platform would shake and vibrate violently, threatening to knock me off entirely - Medusa, on the other hand, seemed to have no balance issues, her serpentine lower body coiling around itself to keep her in place.

"Can you speak?" I tried communicating with it, despite wanting nothing more than to sever its head and put it between a pair of those large, crushing gears at the time. Unfortunately, either it was unable to do so, or didn't find it necessary to bother speaking to its prey - whether it understood me or not, it simply laughed out loud to itself, a grotesque chortling-mixed-with-hissing sound, evil to its core. I wonder, where do vampires find these beasts, and how do they get them to work for them?

We surged left and right time and again, maintaining our distance, the pole in the center of the platform and Youki's form providing a suitable barrier for me to avoid her. Deciding it was time to stop playing games, however, Medusa used her free hand to grab onto some of her 'hair', ripping out a handful of violently hissing snakes and dropped them to the ground, a sinister grin forming on her scaled lips.

Uh-oh.

"Alice, I could use some help over here!"

No response. Had she finally decided I wasn't worth the effort? Well, no matter - I had my own survival to worry about for the time being. With vicious snakes approaching me from all sides, evading their monstrous mistress proved to be a far more challenging task than before. Drawing the Kusanagi, I took to defending myself from the beasts as they lunged for me, fangs ready to pierce my flesh - and likely inject me with some sort of godawfully deadly venom. This task was made more annoying as I had to constantly keep watch for-... oops! That falling gear nearly crushed me, just now, instead rolling over a few of the snakes that had tried to come at me from the side. Slicing them apart as they leapt at me would have been easier if I didn't have the constant need to shield myself from the gorgon's petrifying gaze; some of them chose to go for my legs instead, to which I responded by kicking them off the platform to their deaths as they fell between the machinery below.

"Alice!?"

Still nothing. Another swarm of snakes surged for me - damn, doesn't she ever run out of those damn things? You'd think she were a hydra instead, regenerating two heads each time you cut one off. I launched a blast of wind from the Kusanagi to blow as many of them off the platform as I could, yet one managed to bypass my defenses and sank its teeth into my leg - right through the boot, too.
Son of a BITCH that hurt. Staggering from the pain for just a moment, I took its head clean off, limping over to the side a bit to avoid the steadily-approaching Medusa, and pried its jaws off my boot. Unfortunately, by then it was too late - a numb, cold chill seeped through my leg, as it began to petrify into stone right before my eyes, stopping just above the knee... and thus severely limiting my mobility. It was heavy as fuck, too. Crippled in such a manner, evading both Medusa and the pendulums and whatnot coming from above proved to be too much for me, slowed down as I was.

Seizing the opportunity, Medusa quickly closed the gap between us - as I continued to avoid her gaze by hiding behind the shield, she decided to try getting to me with her sword, instead. Naturally, seeing her attacks coming from behind the shield wasn't exactly easy, not to mention parrying sword blows with a heavy-as-stone, crippled leg. Her gleeful hisses only magnified in intensity as she mercilessly rained down slashes and cuts at me from above, pushing me closer and closer to the edge of the platform - even as I tried to counterattack he,r she would swiftly weave back and avoid my sword with ease, showing off her nimble maneuverability before lunging right back at me. Halfway between sensing and just plain guessing her next attack, I slammed my shield into it to deflect the attack to the side, closing my eyes and slashing at her blindly - a shriek of pain followed by an angered hiss hinted at my attack hitting its mark, if only just barely. Using the moment of respite I had earned myself, I limped a few steps away, noticing that I had beheaded one of the snakes protruding from her head.

Suddenly, I... tripped. Falling over onto my ass, I could see that even as she seemed to be momentarily paralyzed by pain, she had actually extended her massive tail behind me, sweeping my legs out from underneath me, rattling the tip of her tail triumphantly... or perhaps, mockingly. Rising high above the platform using her serpentine body, she aimed her blade downwards at me, coming down at high speed and stabbing the blade in my direction, like the tail of a striking scorpion - I barely managed to roll myself out of the way, immediately having to roll back to avoid the second strike, blocking the third one with the shield. I managed to time the fourth strike, counterattacking with the shield and knocking the sword from her hand - her attention was immediately distracted, as she lunged for the sword, allowing me an opportunity to somehow pull myself back upright with only one functioning knee. Seeing her long tail slither after her, I amassed all of my strength and rage, bringing the Kusanagi straight down in a chopping motion, cutting off that annoying rattler of hers.

An ear-numbing screech echoed through the entire clock tower, the gorgon's tail swishing back and forth through the air as she writhed in pain, spraying her monstrous blood all over. While I was in no position to take on the offensive role in our little duel, I still felt some satisfacton in having dealt a truly painful blow to the creature. However, another sinister, fanged grin found its way to the fiend's face as it recovered from the pain, and it suddenly wrapped its tail around the petrified Youki, hurling him in my direction! With little time to think, I dropped the Kusanagi and the shield, grabbing onto my stone companion as he slammed into me, putting all my strength against him to avoid having the both of us knocked off the edge.
Disarmed as I was, I would now be easy prey for the gorgon - sword once more in hand, she came for me yet again. Evading both her gaze and slashes by weaving left and right behind the statue, I had to think of something, fast. As Medusa was momentarily distracted by a large pendulum swinging between her and Youki, I threw my weight into a spinning kick with my petrified leg, my arms holding onto Youki tightly, my leg impacting with the side of Medusa's head as she was caught unaware. Although my heart briefly sank at the distinct sound of stone shattering, I was relieved to find that it had merely been a shell similar to what Medusa had been encased within before we awakened her. My leg freed from stone - but still somewhat numb - I had regained some of my mobility and stunned my assailant briefly. I went for the Kusanagi and shield, so as to arm myself once again and end this battle.

Unfortunately, turning my back on her would prove to be a very bad move - I turned back around just in time to smack a lunging snake away from myself, several others coming from me along the surface of the platform. Ducking under another swinging pendulum and avoiding a random pair of falling gears, I backed away from the serpents, slashing at them as they attempted to strike, until I managed to back myself against the beam in the center of the giant gear on which we stood.

All according to Medusa's plan, as it turned out to be.

This time, the long, muscular tail coiled itself around my own body, binding me firmly to the beam and immobilizing me. Before I could attempt to stab her to free myself, she grabbed me by the wrist holding the Kusanagi in her vice-like grip, using her other hand to attack me again and again with her own sword, the only thing I could do being to defend myself against her blows and avoid making eye contact with her. The snakes on her head attempted to snap at me as I struggled, whereas the gorgon herself sneered and cackled maniacally in anticipation of her... dinner? Do gorgons eat humans? I wasn't truly fond of the idea of finding out through experience. Her tail squeezed harder - not only did it become impossible for me to breathe, but I felt a familiar sharp pain from the side of my chest again. As I struggled against this overpowering monster of a foe, I was reminded of one important fact of life.




[] At times like this, the only one you can truly rely upon is yourself. Your own strength is always there for you, as long as you can call upon it.
[] Some challenges in life you simply cannot overcome alone. A lone human cannot hope to succeed without the support of allies.
>> No. 41564
[x] Some challenges in life you simply cannot overcome alone. A lone human cannot hope to succeed without the support of allies.
Without Youki, those two would be long dead.
Without Alice, he wouldn't have reached the middle second thread.
Like it or not, we humans will always need help. That's our strength no? "United we stand" and all that.
Mmmhhh. That sounds like an awfully good name for a spellcard...
>> No. 41565
[X] Some challenges in life you simply cannot overcome alone. A lone human cannot hope to succeed without the support of allies.

When you have nothing else to go on, nothing wrong with having faith in your friends.

Hmm... strangely a satisfying rendition of Medusa as through out all the times of her appearance I can only recall one time where she was actually annoyingly difficult. Her incarnation on "Legacy of Darkness/Cva64"

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vufmr-LRP6Q

On the bright side of things at least "Hunter & Co." didn't have to deal with Harpies that had recently residing along side the Medusa Heads in the clock tower. Especially powerful ones like this one.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8ACtWEYHH6M
>> No. 41566
>>41565
addendum to this post:

I really should get around to uploading "Legacy of Darkness"'s OST as it has an incredible ambiance to it; if only simplistic to some...
>> No. 41567
[x] Some challenges in life you simply cannot overcome alone. A lone human cannot hope to succeed without the support of allies.
Together strong, etc etc.
2 People can move more than one alone. And they deserve your trust. At least Alice, that time when we saved her life. Yeah.
>> No. 41568
[x] Some challenges in life you simply cannot overcome alone. A lone human cannot hope to succeed without the support of allies.
>> No. 41570
inb4 this is the "give up and die" option.
>>41567
>2 people
What about Youki?
>> No. 41572
[x] At times like this, the only one you can truly rely upon is yourself. Your own strength is always there for you, as long as you can call upon it.

Youki's down and out, Alice is unaccounted for.

HEAVEN OR HELL. LET'S ROCK!
>> No. 41574
[x] At times like this, the only one you can truly rely upon is yourself. Your own strength is always there for you, as long as you can call upon it.
We've called out for Alice two times now, I would rather not bank our lives on the third.
>> No. 41578
[x] Some challenges in life you simply cannot overcome alone. A lone human cannot hope to succeed without the support of allies.

I'm sure Alice's up to something to help us. If she was truly going to ditch us, she'd have done it sooner.
>> No. 41579
[x] At times like this, the only one you can truly rely upon is yourself. Your own strength is always there for you, as long as you can call upon it.
>> No. 41598
[x] Some challenges in life you simply cannot overcome alone. A lone human cannot hope to succeed without the support of allies.

After all those times Alice insisted that our Hunter should give trust to her...

ANY TIME NOW ALICE!

also what about Youki's other half..?
>> No. 41602
File 12820627363.jpg- (377.34KB , 1154x1278 , those crazy japs.jpg ) [iqdb]
41602
>What about Youki?
If he were this CYOAs protagonist i would vote for Fight alone and win flawless.
>> No. 41612
May or may not make it tonight, started later than usual.
>> No. 41614
>>41612
Waiting warmly
>> No. 41687
File 128227165249.jpg- (26.95KB , 550x412 , clockwork.jpg ) [iqdb]
41687
You know, I hate working in teams. I really do. If I'm not the one in charge, I have serious leadership issues, problems with taking orders, no respect for authority, and so on. If I -am- the one in charge, I tend to tell the others to just stay the hell out of my way and let me do my job. I don't get along well with people, nor have I ever really wanted to in the first place. Even on my own, I've always managed to pull through even in the most dire of circumstances... so far. That being said, even I knew the value of strength in numbers, and this mess I'd gotten myself into I would not be getting out of alone, save for a wild stroke of blind luck.

...

I'm not a very lucky person.

"GOD DAMN IT, ALICE!!!"

As if in direct response to my by-then somewhat panicked cry, loud explosions could be heard from above us, powerful enough to distract both Medusa and myself. Taking advantage of this unexpected event, I stabbed the Kusanagi into Medusa's body, forcing her to release me from her crushing grip due to the pain; just to make it hurt that little bit extra, I twisted the blade with all of my strength before pulling it out and rolling away from her. But what had made that noise? As I looked up, my eyes widened - a gigantic bell that would make Big Ben seem tiny was falling towards us, bouncing and smashing against stairs and machinery along the way, crushing everything under its colossal weight and causing a deafening racket of loud, echoing clangs. Both of us would surely be crushed if I didn't escape immediately; sheathing the Kusanagi, still dripping with gorgon blood and all, I instead drew my whip, dashing for the serpent woman and whistling to get her attention back to me.

"Hey, catch!"

Just as she turned to face me, I threw the shield at her, with my eyes closed. Relying on my ears and gut to pull me through this, I listened for the sound of her grabbing onto the shield before it could smack her in the face, hissing violently at me as I ran towards her. Then, peeking out of one eye just to get a better idea of how I was moving, I leapt right at her, pulling back my arm in preparation of swinging the whip; naturally, her first reflex was to defend herself with the shield I had so generously provided her with, allowing me to land upon it and use it as a platform to jump off of. Opening both eyes, it took me a split second to locate a dangling chain hanging above me - aiming for this target, I lashed out with the whip, managing to entangle the two chains hard enough to stop my fall, leaving me hanging in the air. Carefully, I glanced over my shoulder, spotting the now very confused and enraged Medusa still on the platform, spitting curses at me. However, she was soon interrupted by another clang directly above her - not a moment after she managed to turn her head to look up did the giant bell of the clock tower smash into the platform she was standing upon, knocking it loose and sending it tumbling down into the depths of the tower, along with the gorgon... and with Youki's petrified form.

...Hm. Grief. I wasn't used to the feeling. I had only just met the guy that night, he goofed up, he paid the ultimate price. Not my fault, not my business. And yet... something chewing at my heart prevented me from fully enjoying the sight of Medusa falling into the clockwork below, her tail getting caught between two larger gears and pulling her between them, slowly crushing her body inch-by-inch into a find red pulp as she screamed and wailed, flailing about, trying to grab onto anything nearby to pull herself out in a futile manner. The wet crunch of her skull being pulverized was the last I would hear of the fiend, allowing me to finally breathe a sigh of relief, and ponder the situation.

Medusa was not the 'boss' of the clock tower. She didn't have a key anywhere on her, and we weren't at the top yet. Hell, we could've probably ignored her and avoided this encounter entirely.

The shield wasn't anything special, no big loss there. The sword, however, was a bit of a shame - she took it with her as she fell, and it was now probably somewhere in the bottom of the tower - what seemed like a bottomless pit even as we entered it at ground level. It probably had some magical properties, but... no use worrying over something that is lost.

Youki was probably dead. Not only did his statuefied form fall from an impossible height to the bottom of the tower, through the machinery along the way that had just now made mincemeat of Medusa, but I couldn't even... -sense- him anymore after he was petrified. As if he really had become nothing more than a stone statue. Medusa's gaze had probably already killed him by then; you'd expect the gorgon herself to have a more lethal variant of her snake servants' petrification powers, after all.

...And, god damnit, where had Alice gone?

Oh, wait. Those explosions, the falling bell... Could it have been..?

"Hey, up here! Up here, I said!"

Ah, yes. Focusing my senses, I could make out a familiar female voice calling to me over the deafening racket of the clockwork mechanisms surrounding me. Looking up, I made out Alice's form amidst the gears and machinery, floating downwards and carefully avoiding swinging pendulums and other gizmos.

"Are you alri-... ugh!"

-------

BGM: "The Gears Go Awry"
http://www.endlessyoutube.com/watch?v=FNobYgm18gE

-------

...And just as I was about to respond to her, something golden bursted from a nearby wall, hitting her in the side and knocking her out of my line of sight again, onto an intact portion of the staircase above me. Well, I figured I should probably find a way up there, then; glancing around, I noticed another bit of the staircase not too far from my current location, dangling from a random chain as I was. Rocking my body back and forth a bit, I managed to swing myself in the general direction of the stair platform, untangling my whip at just the right time to launch myself over the chasm below and onto the platform. A worrying crackling sound, a few smaller bits of stone falling into the abyss below, but it seemed to hold my weight.

What a mess we had made of Remilia Scarlet's clock tower, indeed. Looking below, there was a sizeable gap in the machinery where gears had fallen, pendulums had broken or been bent, pistons on random steam engines (hell, why not?) no longer functioned. Was the elevator system in the platform installed before the rest of the clockwork, never meant to be used afterwards? Who knows. Perhaps none of the machinery in the tower made any sense at all from a realistic viewpoint. An engineer's chaotic nightmare. Looking up, however, the rest of the way would not be as easy as a simple walk up the stairs. Bits and pieces of the staircase still remained at random intervals, the rest having fallen to time's slow yet unforgiving influence.

Well, first thing's first. The next highest stable platform I could see was directly over the chasm, on the opposite wall from me. A large pendulum was swinging back and forth nearby to the side; waiting for it to reach its apex on my side, I jumped onto it, grasping the shaft firmly and swinging along with it a few times, before kicking off, langing onto a gear in vertical position. Struggling to maintain balance after landing onto a thin, moving, round-ish surface like that, I let the gear carry me forward a bit, jumping from it onto a smaller, horizontal gear connected to a series of other small ones, jumping along them until reaching another large vertical gear higher above me. Grabbing one of its teeth, I once again let myself be carried, standing upright at the top and kicking off, grabbing the edge of the staircase in front of me and climbing onto it.

I only managed to walk a short distance along the stairs before they ended again. However, the wall leading to the next bit of stairs was decorated by more of those damnable medusa heads on the walls, waiting for hapless adventurers to cross their field of vision and trigger the trap mechanism to fire them like cannonballs. Anyway, I got an idea - pulling out a handful of my throwing knives, I threw a knife at each of the medusa heads, the blades sharp enough to go through the stone and pin them to the walls. This left me with a path of small stone platforms to cross the chasm with, hopping along the wall from one medusa head to another.

The next gap would be more tricky, as there was nothing immediately obvious to swing or jump from. One of those large steam engine type things powering the clockwork mechanisms of the tower was on the way, however, with several pistons in a row pumping in and out of its sides. Taking a moment to time the intervals of the pistons going back and forth, I jumped onto the one closest to me, then the next one, and so on, careful not to jump too early or too late lest I fall, eventually clearing the gap. Ah, it gets your adrenaline pumping when you need to cross distances through unconventional means. Makes you feel alive. As the medication and painkillers had properly kicked in by then, I could move my body almost perfectly yet again, making my way up through the clockwork as if it were as simple as climbing a ladder.

I finally got high enough, to the point where Alice came into view. Whatever it was that had hit her, the blow must have been quite strong - she was still lying down, despite Youkai recovering from injuries much faster than humans. What could it have been, though? Not wanting to be careless, I examined my surroundings, but couldn't spot or sense any nearby foes. What I -did- see, however, was an empty socket in the wall; looking up higher, I noticed several more medusa heads lodged in the walls. Except, some of them were different - for whatever reason, they were covered in a coat of gold, glistening in the faint moonlight passing into the tower from the barred windows. That must have been what I saw hitting Alice earlier, alright. After I hopped over a few more bits of clockwork, and rode the side of one particularly thick horizontal gear, I jumped off and hoisted myself up to the platform Alice was lying upon.

"Ugh..."
There she was, still alive and well, yet I could see what made the golden medusa heads 'special' over the regular ones at just a glance - half of her body was coated in a thick layer of stone similar to my affliction when that snake bit me during the Medusa battle. Now, I had thought I had it bad with just one leg petrified to above the knee, but not only had she been petrified across half of her entire body, but she was wearing a dress. The sheer weight and lack of mobility had effectively pinned her to the ground, only able to move her right arm and just barely her right leg. Flecks of gold were visible both in the stone shell around her and the debris on the ground. She turned her head to face me, shifting her position a tiny bit with what strength she could summon into her usable arm and leg.
"...Good, you're here... Help me with this, would you?

"...Where did you go? What were you thinking?" Before deciding to do anything further, I crouched down beside her, staring down at her with barely-contained frustration. No, not frustration... anger. This. This is exactly why I don't like working in a team. Someone fucks up, and then people start dying. And I don't have the time or energy to babysit them so they don't get each other killed. I like to work alone. If I get killed in the process, it's nobody's problem but my own, right? Hell, it's a win-win for the Church whether I make it back alive or not; they didn't even bother figuring out a way for me to get back out of Gensokyo this time, after all. What had just happened simply... pissed me off.

"What?" Incredulous, Alice stared right at me, those grey eyes of hers wide in astonishment, before furrowing her brow angrily.
"I just SAVED you, damn it! What are you talking about?"

"You also killed Youki, that's what I'm talking about," I shouted right back at her. My fingernails dug into my knees as I struggled to contain my... frustration.

"Youki was already dead! There was nothing more we could do for him!"

"And what if he wasn't?" I spat back at her, no longer able to keep my rage in check.
"What if we COULD have saved him, too? What then, huh?"

"I..." Alice paused for a moment, averting her eyes, my words having silenced her for a moment. I stood up, trying to get my fists to stop trembling; I stuck my hands in my pockets and turned my back to her, gazing down at the chasm below, wondering what the bottom could possibly be like.
"...I had to choose. One of you, or both of you." Even though I wasn't looking at her, I could tell she turned her gaze back to me.
"I did what I could. The whole fight, it happened over just a minute or two, I didn't have time to think about it."

"...You could've just blasted the bitch."

"With the way she was sticking to you? I'd have hit you, too."

"I could've avoided it," I shouted, "Or you could've tried something else! You-..." Ugh. No. If I said anything more, it'd get ugly.
I turned my head back, glancing at her over my shoulder. She simply looked back at me in silence.
"And what if I get into a situation like that? What then? Will you just leave me for dead, too?"

She did not respond.




[] ...I decided to leave her there and go on alone - given time, she could probably free herself. Regardless of what she may have said before, or what had happened between us so far, I couldn't trust her to watch my back anymore. I work best alone.
[] ...I decided to help her out - I had decided to trust her, after all. Youki had sacrificed himself in my place, despite only having met me that same night. Somehow, I feel Alice would have done the same if it had been just the two of us, given what we had been through together.
[] ...I decided she was too great of a risk to leave alive. All youkai are monsters - even the most humanlike ones. They think they're above humans because of their power. Regardless of what she might say, given the circumstances she would gladly sacrifice my life to ensure her own survival.
>> No. 41688
[x] ...I decided to help her out - I had decided to trust her, after all. Youki had sacrificed himself in my place, despite only having met me that same night. Somehow, I feel Alice would have done the same if it had been just the two of us, given what we had been through together.

So I wonder if killing off Youki was originally your idea or that of one of your buddies.
>> No. 41689
[X] ...I decided to help her out - I had decided to trust her, after all. Youki had sacrificed himself in my place, despite only having met me that same night. Somehow, I feel Alice would have done the same if it had been just the two of us, given what we had been through together.
cuz the other options make sakuya a bitch
>> No. 41690
[X] ...I decided to help her out - I had decided to trust her, after all. Youki had sacrificed himself in my place, despite only having met me that same night. Somehow, I feel Alice would have done the same if it had been just the two of us, given what we had been through together.

I don't recall the hunter being two-faced about such situations; usually that seems to be the case with shady partners and employers within the business.

Besides wasting the effort to kill Alice would be pointless and simply dumping her off to the sidelines for now would only short-hand the hunter on the upcoming fight towards the last key holder and whatever else that may block the way to Remilia's Castle Keeproom.
>> No. 41691
>>41689
>cuz the other options make sakuya a bitch

I'd imagine fighting Sakuya all alone would make her out to be a bitch considering the difficulty our hunter already has had with a Gorgon.
>> No. 41692
[X] ...I decided to help her out - I had decided to trust her, after all. Youki had sacrificed himself in my place, despite only having met me that same night. Somehow, I feel Alice would have done the same if it had been just the two of us, given what we had been through together.

haven't forgotten her keeping our ass alive an hour ago
>> No. 41693
>>41689
>>41691
You two are confusing me, now.
>> No. 41694
[x] ...I decided to help her out - I had decided to trust her, after all. Youki had sacrificed himself in my place, despite only having met me that same night. Somehow, I feel Alice would have done the same if it had been just the two of us, given what we had been through together.

It's what we always did, she watches our back, we watch hers. After all that the two of them went through, trust in each other should be no problem anymore at this point.
>> No. 41695
>>41693
One's guessing the Hunter is actually Sakuya, the other is guessing Boss in the Clock Tower is Sakuya rather than the Hunter.

Although that shouldn't be an issue, considering Remilia's home had been drastically damaged from a variety of things (monster destruction, Meiling's murderous attempts etcetera, Property destruction via property destruction) You'd think some one who often take up the role of bodyguard/bouncer would have Sakuya stick by Remilia.

Or so assuming in this case Sakuya is already under the employment of Remilia. If that's not the case, there's a fair chance Sakuya is the hunter and has been all this time with the readers unaware of it.

There's even a slight chance that Sakuya is not even present this time around considering the the time line; take in consideration of Marisa's and Reimu's current status which both are currently very young children in this story rather than both a fully realized Shrine Maiden and Witch respectively.

tl;dr - just roll with it and wait to see what comes up in the later updates to help answer the question.

More importantly take it easy.
>> No. 41696
[x] ...I decided to help her out - I had decided to trust her, after all. Youki had sacrificed himself in my place, despite only having met me that same night. Somehow, I feel Alice would have done the same if it had been just the two of us, given what we had been through together.
Good night, sweet prince.
>> No. 41697
[x] ...I decided to help her out - I had decided to trust her, after all. Youki had sacrificed himself in my place, despite only having met me that same night. Somehow, I feel Alice would have done the same if it had been just the two of us, given what we had been through together.

Alice has definitely earned our trust, saving us many times over. Bros for life, and all that.
>> No. 41700
[x] ...I decided she was too great of a risk to leave alive. All youkai are monsters - even the most humanlike ones. They think they're above humans because of their power. Regardless of what she might say, given the circumstances she would gladly sacrifice my life to ensure her own survival.

Herpity McDerpity.
>> No. 41704
[x] ...I decided to help her out - I had decided to trust her, after all. Youki had sacrificed himself in my place, despite only having met me that same night. Somehow, I feel Alice would have done the same if it had been just the two of us, given what we had been through together.

This will do
>> No. 41705
[x] ...I decided she was too great of a risk to leave alive. All youkai are monsters - even the most humanlike ones. They think they're above humans because of their power. Regardless of what she might say, given the circumstances she would gladly sacrifice my life to ensure her own survival.

The monster has outlived its usefulness.
>> No. 41709
Gee sure is votesam around here
>> No. 41710
>>41709
I'll get a spamcheck when I manage to contact a mod.
>> No. 41711
>>41709
>>41710

How so? The vote seems pretty unanimous so far, with only two votes for killing Alice.

Or was the spam deleted and I'm late to witness it?
>> No. 41721
[x] ...I decided to help her out - I had decided to trust her, after all. Youki had sacrificed himself in my place, despite only having met me that same night. Somehow, I feel Alice would have done the same if it had been just the two of us, given what we had been through together.
>> No. 41728
Unless it was already deleted, nothing looks like votespam since they aren't even all the same vote.

[x] ...I decided to help her out - I had decided to trust her, after all. Youki had sacrificed himself in my place, despite only having met me that same night. Somehow, I feel Alice would have done the same if it had been just the two of us, given what we had been through together.
>> No. 41729
[x] ...I decided to help her out - I had decided to trust her, after all. Youki had sacrificed himself in my place, despite only having met me that same night. Somehow, I feel Alice would have done the same if it had been just the two of us, given what we had been through together.
>> No. 41730
File 128244843638.jpg- (57.64KB , 400x300 , mechanical-clock.jpg ) [iqdb]
41730
Tick, tock, tick, tock, tick, tock. No sound other than the constant ticking of the clock tower's machinery surrounding us interrupted the silence, the two of us locked deep in thought. What was I so angry about anyway? Was I just pissed off because things weren't going according to plan? Or was I actually mourning a man I had known for less than a day? Had I subconsciously accepted a non-human being as a 'friend' so easily?
...Maybe. If this was truly the case, however, then I had another friend in need of help right behind me. I couldn't let my emotional turmoil get in the way of my better judgment. Drawing the chain whip, I turned around, pulling my arm back in preparation for the strike. An odd feeling of deja vu crossed my mind as I looked into her eyes, thinking back to the time where Alice protected me from a surprise attack by Hong Meiling back in the entrance hall.

SMASH

She only winced lightly at the impact shock going through her body; the stone shell around her crackled and slowly fell into large pieces, allowing her to shake off most of the rest. Standing up and brushing the dust off her dress, she seemed to be avoiding my gaze for the time being.
"Thanks."

"Don't mention it," I responded dryly, looking down into the tower's depths yet again. Should we go back later for the Magatama? No, that Keine woman said the regalia would return to her once my mission was complete - there was likely no need to go after it ourselves. So, with that thought out of the way, there was really only one direction to keep going - up. Unfortunately, the way was densely packed with medusa heads both gold and normal along the walls, as well as some machinery that looked less suitable for a clock tower than some sort of torture dungeon - pendulums more closely resembling giant swinging guillotine blades, gears mixed in with sawblades, spikes with no easily explainable purpose in completely random places. Someone's been busy changing the place into an obstacle course, alright.
"...Well let's go. Try not to get hit this time."

"Same goes for you," was Alice's reply, although lacking the snarky-yet-well-meaning tone her voice usually had in our moments of idle banter. And I had already gotten used to it, too. She seemed to in as serious of a mood as myself after what had just happened.

Ah well, we could grieve later.

Getting a running start, I jumped off the platform, grabbing onto a chain being steadily pulled upwards, riding it as high as it would go, weaving from side to side to avoid various obstacles along the way. Before the chain looped back down, I managed to grab onto a nearby pendulum, clinging to it as it swung back and forth, timing my jump to get past another, bladed pendulum perpendicular to its path. Hovering after me, carefully avoiding the various deadly devices strewn in our path was Alice, frowning strongly at my reckless acrobatics as usual, although surprisingly not saying a word about it, for a change.

Timing myself with precision, I swung off the pendulum, passing by the blade right in the nick of time and landed on another platform by the wall. I barely managed to stop myself from rolling forward too far after such a fall, since the wall itself was covered in spikes. Anticipating the KACHUNK from the side, I ducked under the medusa head flying past me from the side, shattering into a wall harmlessly. I may have been a little hasty in standing up, however, as another medusa head at head-height launched at me from the opposite wall - I managed to bend my body backwards just in time for it to pass right above my face. Glancing to the side, I could see Alice triggering the medusa heads in advance by sending her dolls ahead of herself as she slowly ascended the tower, meanwhile taking care not to get her dress caught in any of the gears. After getting over my smug amusement over what a bother wearing a dress or skirt must be, I nearly fell over as I tried stepping forward - my coattail had gotten snagged in one of the spikes on the wall.

That brief humiliating episode behind me, and confident that Alice didn't see me stumble, I pressed onwards. Vaulting from gear to piston to pendulum to gear again, dodging medusa heads left and right, avoiding swinging guillotines, sawblades and spikes. On occasion, I would reach a dead end, only to have Alice reach out a helping hand from above and help me climb up. Otherwise, I would simply make my way up through the machinery, constantly praying that there would be enough bits of the old staircase remaining for me to use as platforms. Hoisting myself up onto one of these platforms, I could spot another one not too far up ahead... but a little too far to jump. Testing the wall and finding it not to be too slippery, I stepped back a bit so I could properly build up speed, before running towards the gap between platforms at full speed, jumping at the wall to my side and kicking myself forward along the stones, effectively running along the wall itself to the other side, managing to reach my destination before physics decided to be a bitch and pull me back down.

More new obstacles - what looked like spears, periodically thrusting out of the walls and sliding back inside. Great, more fun if there's more crap to avoid, right? The spear traps had been placed along a longer stretch of intact staircase, some coming from the walls, others from some sort of overhead surface, others still from underneath, from inside the staircase itself. A fairly simple obstacle to navigate, really - just need to keep your attention on what's up ahead, and time your movements right. The tricky thing is that you have to get it all right in one go, as there's not enough space to pause in between; stay in one spot too long and you're shishkebab. Of course, this being something of a classic trap to put in one's lair, I had experience with such things. However, the coattail would be a bother, unless I did something about it. Stuffing the ends into my boots, I slightly limited the movement of my legs, however I wouldn't need to be kicking things or doing any splits, so it shouldn't be a problem. I took one last moment to study the pattern of the sharp spears intended to impale anyone foolish enough to try to reach the top of the tower, and...

Three...

Two...

...One. Here I go!

Dash, pause, roll, pause, roll, dash again, keep going, pause, jump into a roll, pause, step back once, pause, dash... Phew, it was a lot longer than it had looked from the other end, but eventually I made it to the other end of the platform. Now, the bad thing was that I didn't exactly have time to look before I leap, and staying on the edge would've gotten me impaled within a second or so, so... off I went, frantically scanning the area in the general direction of my trajectory with my eyes, looking for -something- to grab on to, but... nothing. I was boned. Nothing at all to grab on to.

Except, maybe, that one set of spears conveniently placed mid-air like that, coming from the walls. Now, if only the timing would be on my side...

Got it! My weight suddenly coming down on the lowest spear - they tended to come in sets of three - seemed to break something in its mechanical systems; as it bent down a little in a somewhat worrying manner (accompanied by an equally worrying -snap- and creaking noise), it stopped moving back and forth, effectively becoming nothing more than a pole for me to hang from. Wonderful. Now, how could I make use of this..?

A small blonde doll in a blue dress suddenly floated by my face; it was that one doll Alice never used for actual combat. Honestly, you'd think it was her imaginary friend or something. It pointed upwards once, then gripped onto its string and pulled on it, mimicing climbing up a rope.

"I don't think your dollstring is strong enough for me to climb up by."

The doll actually seemed... dejected, for a moment, before looking upwards and waving at someone. A few seconds passed, before several other dolls lowered themselves down - only one of the ones she originally came here with, several ones with faded colors suggesting they were from her old stash, and even one of those made-on-the-spot ones from back in the alchemy lab. The dolls grabbed each other's hands, and... started dancing, in a circle. While my arms were getting somewhat tired from hanging there all that time, I was sufficiently distracted from my fatigue by this little performance. Honestly, you'd think they were fairies at first glance, rather than artificial dolls, with how lifelike their movements were. However, the true purpose of this twirly little dance quickly became obvious - as their strings spiraled around one another tighter and tighter, until the dolls could no longer move, they had formed a thicker, stronger rope for me to use.

...Now I'd just have to hope she remembered to use the strings that -don't- cut through metal. My arms were becoming weaker by the moment, yet I managed to hold on with just one arm long enough to grasp the doll-rope, and then I let go of the spear, praying this would work.

At first, it almost seemed as if I would fall down along with the dolls, yet my descent abruptly stopped, the strings cutting into my gloves as I slid downwards, but I managed not to let go. Pressing my feet against the wall, I started the long climb upwards - man, those strings certainly were longer than you'd expect. Along the way, I had to hold to the left or right a little, or pull myself closer to the wall, to avoid more spears and medusa heads, nervously keeping my eyes on the strings to make sure nothing breaks them. What seemed like an agonizingly long eternity probably lasted only a few minutes at best, and eventually I reached the top, climbing up onto the last portion of the staircase, on which Alice had been waiting and holding onto those strings. Suddenly, having a being stronger than the average human as my partner didn't seem like such a bad thing after all.

"Phew. Finally, made it!" I took a moment to stretch myself and relax my limbs a little, the feeling gradually returning to my exhausted arms over time. Alice seemed to be too busy disentangling her dolls to respond with anything other than a quick 'mhmm'. Turning around, I noticed that the staircase lead just a few feet further into a room at the very top of the tower; leaving Alice to deal with her dolls, I decided to go and investigate, cautiously peeking inside before rushing in or doing anything else reckless.

It was empty. Walking further inside, I got a better look at the design of the room itself - in the middle was a large hole, which was probably where the main bell of the clock tower used to hang before Alice sent it tumbling down earlier. Clocks of various designs showing countless different timezones decorated all of the walls of the room, leaving almost no space uncovered. A door lead outside, to a balcony from which one could likely observe pretty much all of Gensokyo during the daytime. However, I had not come all the way up there just for the view - somewhere, my next challenge was lying in wait for me, and I had to remain alert so as not to be caught by surprise. That was when I noticed a piece of paper with some writing on it, attached to a large grandfather clock in the center of one of the walls of the room. With a growing curiosity, I approached the clock, eyes glancing left and right for any unwelcome surprises, and reached for the paper.

Just as I removed the note from the clock, I heard a strange metallic noise from behind me - a porticullis had fallen in front of the doorway through which I had entered the room, locking Alice outside. An ominous feeling of dread washed over me; quickly turning around, I caught a glimpse of a familiar silhouette against the night sky, near the balcony door, approaching me with something metallic in its hand.

Shit. Somehow, I hadn't expected this. If this was... who I thought it would be, then I had to react immediately; without a moment to waste, I knew exactly what I had to reach for...




[] ...a handful of throwing knives.
[] ...a rebound knife.
[] ...the cross boomerang.
[] ...a throwing axe.
[] ...the pocketwatch.
[] ...a vial of holy water.
[] ...the Kusanagi.
[] ...the cranberry candy. It seemed like a good idea at the time.
[] ...a clock on the wall. Improvised weapons are fun.
>> No. 41731
[x] ...a clock on the wall. Improvised weapons are fun.

Hey, why not? Ruin Remilia's mansion while getting the last key.
>> No. 41732
[X] ...the cross boomerang.

>>41731
>Hey, why not? Ruin Remilia's mansion while getting the last key.
With all the the damage that's been done getting up here, I'm suprised the tower is still standing. And considering everything else we've destroyed in the other areas, one clock isn't going to make much of a difference.
>> No. 41733
[x] ...the cranberry candy. It seemed like a good idea at the time.
Meiling once again?
>> No. 41734
>>41733

I have an really awful feeling it's actually Flandre considering it's candy. I can't help but remember when we picked this up back in....Thread 2 was it? Theory back then was its for Flandre.

Gonna catch back up on this before I vote though.
>> No. 41735
[x] ...the cranberry candy. It seemed like a good idea at the time.
Time for our first bad end.
>>41733
Flandre.
>> No. 41736
> I caught a glimpse of a familiar silhouette against the night sky, near the balcony door, approaching me with something metallic in its hand.
> I caught a glimpse of a familiar silhouette
> a familiar silhouette
> familiar

We never saw Flandre. We heard her, but never actually saw her.

I'll withhold my vote for the time being.
>> No. 41737
[x] ...the cranberry candy. It seemed like a good idea at the time.

Let's make friends. Maybe.
>> No. 41739
[x] ...the cross boomerang.
Death? I really hope we don't have to fight Komachi, shes a bro.
>> No. 41741
>>41736
Maybe it could be a character that hasn't showed up in the story yet, but one with whom the MC has met before the story started?

Like, say, a former fellow vampire hunter or something...

>>41734
Why would Flandre be at the top of the clock tower and not the basement?
>> No. 41743
>>41736
True that. Or maybe Taisa just forgot that we never saw her. But it probably could not be her because the hunter knows how to best take care of it.
Either >>41739 or someone else we don't know yet.
>> No. 41745
>>41743
Keep in mind that the hunter had background information on Patchouli and Meiling from the Church, too.
>> No. 41746
[X] ...a vial of holy water.

Unless Remilia managed to enlist KomachiDeath it self to provide some, "entertainment", Holy Water ought to be able to slow down whatever is attacking. Engulfing the enemy in flames could help our crew.

Probably one of the few times that I'd prefer Holy Water over the Cross Boomerang. Even in Rondo of Blood I find myself preferring the Holy Water and Axe over the Cross Boomerang

A nice example--> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=261kBI_ma4Y
>> No. 41747
[x] ...the cross boomerang.
>> No. 41748
>>41734
>I have an really awful feeling it's actually Flandre considering it's candy.
The candy option is only there because the MC's entire inventory is available.

Unless I forgot to list anything, in which case feel free to include whatever I missed.
>> No. 41756
[] ...the cross boomerang and then the pocketwatch

i figure we can keep whatever/however it is at bay with one attack then resize our options after watching how they react.
>> No. 41763
[x] ...a vial of holy water.
>> No. 41771
[X] a vial of holy water.

Works for me~!
>> No. 41792
So I'm finally seeing that doctor. The bad news is, back-to-back doctor's appointments among other obligations this week, hence the lack of updates.

Good news is that, in theory, I should have an entire week free after thursday. Also, I might find out just why I've had such a lack of energy lately, and maybe fix it somehow.
>> No. 41793
>>41792
Good news. Best I've heard all week.
>> No. 41957
Status report.

Gonna try to write tomorrow.

As for my fatigue issues and whatnot... after various testing and poking and prodding and even X-rays and a heart scan and lots of blood tests and other stuff, it turns out that physically I'm in great condition. However, after a psychiatrist appointment it turns out that I'm likely to have bipolar disorder or something, and they think that's the source of my issues. Or so the woman said.

So now I've got another appointment at some sort of more qualified psychiatrist AND a psychologist (I don't even really know what the difference is, myself) on the 20th. Maybe I'll figure something out after that.

Would be nice to not feel like I haven't slept for a month all the freaking time, considering I sleep 10-12 hours on a good night.

...Ah, wait, not my personal blog. tl;dr version: Writefag hopefully becoming less lazy in near future, update frequency to increase if this happens.

Stay tuned.
>> No. 41961
>>41957
>bipolar disorder
Oh shit. Now that is very very bad news and would explain the lack of energy, fatigue and general lack of power and willingness to do anything. Mood Swings and the much sleeping.
My Mother has that and it is one of the worst possible things to get and i seriously hope that it is not the case for you.

So just take your time and concentrate on something else, i completely understand that you are not lazy. Do your best man.
>> No. 42077
Just chill for the time being if you're really dont feel like updating. Unless, of course, you do want to update but don't have the energy because of your possible bi-polar disorder. If the latters the case, you might just want see what's up with that then get back to this after all is said and done. Oh, what do I know.
>> No. 43823
>>41957
>However, after a psychiatrist appointment it turns out that I'm likely to have bipolar disorder or something, and they think that's the source of my issues. Or so the woman said.

This is pretty late, but know you aren't be the only writer on this site with that problem. Just stay the fuck away from antipsychotics, and realize that in a controlled environment a little mania can go a long way toward actually getting shit done. The satisfaction of having accomplished at least something helps when your mood flips into the other extreme.

Oh, and update, nigger. I want my fucking doppelganger fight.
>> No. 43829
>>41957
As a lifelong sufferer of severe clinical depression, I can say that, with practice, it is possible to clamp down on any negative impulses hard enough to continue operating until the emo shit passes out of your system.

One thing: Never do depressing things or listen to depressing people when you're at a low point. It's not cathartic, it's poisonous. At other times, use your best judgment, but never when you're feeling low already.

Surround yourself with positives, and understand that even if something is only there to lie to you and make you feel better, that doesn't make it bad. It's normal to bullshit positivity. That's what keeps most sane people functional.
>> No. 45679
Progress: ~33%.
Do not expect a wall, mind you.
>> No. 45754
File 131112544667.jpg- (61.53KB , 800x534 , and_my_shadow_b11.jpg ) [iqdb]
45754
Disregard that last vote, it was pointless filler just for the sake of having a choice between updates. A sad symptom of my well running dry, as it were. Cross Boomerang won, by the way, but yeah... doing this a little differently. Forget that last vote even happened.
Sorry.

Also this is a horrible update because getting back to goddamn action scenes after half a year of hiatus for someone like me is like trying to chop wood with a plunger.
Sorry about that, too. At least we're almost done.

Don't welcome me back or anything just yet. Feel free to chew me out, though.

-------

„If you're reading this note, you've just missed me. Don't worry, though - I left a little surprise behind for you to play with, along with the last key you need... should you be able to claim it, of course.

Have fun.

--S“

-------

Having dropped the note – written in a painfully elegant and curvy handwriting - to the floor, I dug my hand into my coat pocket, clicking the button of the pocketwatch down as fast as I could. Not a split second too soon, either; just as my finger pressed down onto the button, the shadowy figure vanished from my sight, a brief flicker in my vision. Time ground to an abrupt halt around me, the very air around me becoming thick as quicksand, the multitudes of clocks mounted on the walls around me ticking and tocking slower, slower, until their pendulums froze in place. My foe once more became visible, a long, thin blade stopping mere inches from my face.

Gripping a dark copy of the Kusanagi in one hand, a pocketwatch identical to my own in the other, illuminated in the night by the moonlight, loomed before me... I, myself. Me. Or, more accurately, a doppelganger mimicing my form, the only flaw in its visage being the animalistic glare in its glowing red eyes, and the sadistic grin of a predator about to strike down its prey. I couldn't help but spread my lips into a smirk – there I was, having already defeated various supernatural creatures ranging from a nigh-indestructible golem to a gorgon, and now the vampire sics a beast on me that takes the form of a regular human. On the flipside, this would likely be the only one resembling a 'fair' fight in the entire mansion.

And I would savor it.

I reached into my coat, drawing a fistful of knives from within and hurling them in the direction of the doppelganger. As they left my hand, the blades froze in mid-air before the creature, a wall of deadly blades suspended before it, ready to launch forward the moment I'd choose to hit that button again, or lost my focus. Too easy? No, even as my thumb gently caressed the tip of the button on the pocketwatch, I could see a certain glint in the eyes of my copy.

„You can see what's going on, can't you?“

*click*

-------

BGM: „Darkness of Fear“
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KVeQjJqrKcs


-------

The moment the time-stop faded, the doppelganger lashed at the flurry of knives thrown at it with its blade, deflecting just enough of them to snake between the rest, dropping into a roll and springing for me with bloodthirst in its monstrous red eyes; parrying its attack with my own blade, I managed to push it back, taking advantage of its momentarily unbalanced state to rush up and deliver a swift kick to its chest, forcing it to tumble towards the yawning pitfall in the center of the floor – the hole the bell had fallen from earlier. Before it could fall to its doom, the beast managed to recover enough balance to hurl itself into a backflip, landing on the other side.

„Looks like I won't disappoint myself, will I?“ Smirking, I could hardly tell which one of us had said that just now. The doppelganger seemed to share in my amusement, grinning at me for a moment, before-...

flicker in vision sudden feeling of overwhelming weight sensation of vertigo all occurring within an instant

-...I had managed to focus my will just in time to sense the time dilation field which had trapped me. Our roles now reversed, I was the one helplessly suspended for the doppelganger to slay at its leisure. How impressive... to think that this creature could mimic my abilities down to even the stopwatch itself! No wonder these beasts fascinate sorcerers to no end.

Unfortunately for it, however, one has to learn to resist the effects of time manipulation to be able to use such abilities for themselves. Gritting my teeth, I wrenched myself free from the grip of its magic, my limbs feeling as if I were digging my way out of cement. But I couldn't allow the strain to best me, not when I had come this close, not when I was technically battling nothing more than a mere human...
Heh, saying that, I sound no better than the monsters I hunt, do I?

I caught it by surprise. The holy whip, by its very nature resistant to the magic of fiends, whistled through the air in its direction, the spiked tip nearly missing an opportunity to cave in the creature's skull, instead swinging over its head; not wasting the momentum I had put into that attack, I spun it in another circle, this time aiming lower, the doppelganger sensing my intentions and jumping over it, rather than letting itself be sweeped off its feet. Of course, having jumped, it was no longer able to dodge... A third strike from the whip hit home, coiling the chain around the false Kusanagi the doppelganger had used to defend itself; a hard yank, and the beast was disarmed, the sword bouncing down the shaft into the darkness below.

Making use of the break this would afford me, I grabbed a bottle of holy water and flung it behind myself, smashing it against the porticullis that had fallen in front of the doorway I had entered from, a shriek following the sound of shattering glass.

„Holy shit,“ Alice burst out in an uncharacteristic fit of profanity from behind the bars, having run over once she figured out what had happened, „you could've hit me with that!“

„Shut up and help mergh,“ I blurted out in return, the end slurred as the doppelganger pounced onto my back, gripping onto me like a savage predator due to having lost its weaponry. As we fell to the ground, it let go for a moment, allowing me to roll myself onto my back before it mounted me again, raising its fist before slamming it down square into my face. My vision flashed black for a brief moment, the force of the monster's superhuman strength – doppelgangers don't mimic aspects of their pray that would make them weaker, of course – combined with the impact of the back of my skull against the hard stone floor nearly giving me a concussion. Not being satisfied with merely the one blow, it began raining fists down on me like a brutal hailstorm.
Except the hailstones were fist-sized.
I'm no good with analogies.

Desperately trying to defend myself with my increasingly bruised arms, I couldn't help but take a few slams to the face regardless.

PUNCH

That'll leave a black eye...

PUNCH

An inch lower and that would've knocked out some teeth...

PUNCH

The taste of blood in my mouth, from a source I couldn't pinpoint at the time.

Okay, this was getting far too one-sided all of a sudden.

„...Get... OFF!“ Struggling violently, I managed to knock the doppelganger out of balance, rolling around with it a bit, nearly causing the both of us to fall down the pitfall together, until managin to hoist myself onto it myself, proceeding to eagerly return the punishment it had subjected me to.

Humans can be quite strong when under duress, too.

PUNCH

The cartilage giving „my“ nose its shape caved in.

PUNCH

„My“ tongue got caught between „my“ teeth, cutting off the tip in a bloody mess.

PUNCH

I grabbed „myself“ by the collar, raising „my“ head up before slamming my fist down into „my“ face again, hammering it into the stone floor below us.

My knuckles were beginning to ache.

My gloves became stained with blood.

In a way, it felt somehow exhilarating, to be beating the shit out of myself. This savage, monstrous, ugly side of myself. Still bombarding its face with a relentless flurry of blows, I actually chuckled out loud, thoroughly amused. The bloodlust, driving this creature like the animal it was, it was not unlike what pushed my human body past its limits in my quests to slay monsters. No matter how many suicide missions the Church would send me on, I would somehow pull through. Scary rumors would spread, quoting that tired old „he who fights monsters“ cliché.

But I was still little more than mortal. Human. Fragile. My fists had become numb from pain. I couldn't even tell what parts of the doppelganger's „face“ I was beating on. Not until I drew back my hand for yet another blow, and a slender hand gripped my wrist to stop me.

„That's enough, already. It's dead.“

I looked down at my foe, or what remained of it. On the ground, above the neck of the fiend, where the head should be, was a gory mess, a puddle of blood with dark red lumps of fleshy residue smeared all around it. It was sticky, and gave off a sickening scent of death, which stuck to my knuckles even as I withdrew my hands. Shards of bone and pieces of broken teeth were scattered about; the feeling returning to my fists, I had to wonder whether some of those were broken pieces of my knucklebones. I removed my gloves, the leather having long since been worn out at the knuckles, and being coated in fleshy gunk.

I stood up.

Alice was standing next to me, an unreadable expression on her face. She averted her eyes; not from the scene before her, but from me. I couldn't tell whether she was scared or disgusted as her grey eyes stared past me. Just then-...

A high-pitched screech erupted into the air from behind me, as Alice had jammed a sharp piece of soulsteel bar that had melted off through the chest of the doppelganger, somehow miraculously still alive, as it attempted one last ambush from behind. I turned around in shock, staring at the unyielding beast as it writhed on the floor in its death throes; its form changed from that of mine to various other unfamiliar people, as well as all kinds of animals and strange creatures, until shrinking into an emaciated, dried-up hairless husk with wrinkled skin, which promptly burst into flames, ignited by the holy water residue left on the metal. All that remained was the sharp metal bar, and a key it had kept... somewhere. I didn't bother thinking too hard about where it had been, as the holy flames had cleansed it of any possible pollutants.

„...Wow. Thanks again, I suppose,“ I muttered, leaning down to pick up the key and pocket it. That's all of them, now...

„Don't mention it,“ she scoffs back, her words a little more dry than her usual snark; before we could discuss the situation any further, however, the sound of angered yelling and footsteps echoed out from below us.

„They're in the tower! Block their escape!“ Ah, Meiling. You never give up, do you? That's what I respect about you. Hearing the chinese youkai shouting orders to what sounded like a rather sizeable regiment, I paced around the room, searching for potential escape routes. Alice glanced down the shaft nervously.
„I hope you have a plan for this,“ she mumbled, priming one of her explosive dolls and tossing it down, an explosion echoing through the entire tower and shaking the floor beneath our feeth, although by the sounds of it it didn't do much to reduce the amount of enemies headed up what remained of the staircases... Glancing outside over the edge of the balcony that surrounded the top of the clock tower, a chilling wind rushed through my hair, harshly biting at my skin... A low howling noise was being produced as the wind blew through the hollowed jaws of the many gargoyles lining the outside walls of the tower.

The voices became louder. They were getting closer.

-------

[] We decided to fight our way down. We had the higher ground, so to speak.
[] I had an idea. Perhaps there -was- a way to get back down without having to fight our way through Meiling's minions...
>> No. 45755
[x] I had an idea. Perhaps there -was- a way to get back down without having to fight our way through Meiling's minions...
>> No. 45759
[x] I had an idea. Perhaps there -was- a way to get back down without having to fight our way through Meiling's minions...
Welcome b.. oh, nevermind.
Anyway, nice way of keeping the suspense... we never managed to find the last guardian, but we got a time-stopping fight all the same.
>> No. 45760
[X] I had an idea. Perhaps there -was- a way to get back down without having to fight our way through Meiling's minions...

We haven't gone back the way we came after getting the other keys, why start now?

>>45759
>we never managed to find the last guardian
Or did we?
>> No. 45763
[X] I had an idea. Perhaps there -was- a way to get back down without having to fight our way through Meiling's minions...

Well we have the last key anyway. So what's left besides 'Terminator' Meiling, 'Count' Remilia, and 'Bonus Boss' Flandre?
>> No. 45764
[x] I had an idea. Perhaps there -was- a way to get back down without having to fight our way through Meiling's minions...

Sneaky. Have to be sneaky. Else we wake those that should not be woken.
>> No. 45765
[x] I had an idea. Perhaps there -was- a way to get back down without having to fight our way through Meiling's minions...

>>45763

>--S
>written in a painfully elegant and curvy handwriting

Sakuya

I won't welcome you back Taisa, but I can at least be happy that you wrote this right? Thanks, even after a couple months it was still a good update.
>> No. 45767
[x] I had an idea. Perhaps there -was- a way to get back down without having to fight our way through Meiling's minions...

Now, that is like awesome.
>> No. 45770
[X] I had an idea. Perhaps there -was- a way to get back down without having to fight our way through Meiling's minions...

Hello castle walls!

Good to see an great update here once more~!
>> No. 45775
>>45765
You know, it could also stand for Scarlet.
>> No. 45776
>>45775

No, clearly it stands for Satori.
>> No. 45778
[x] I had an idea. Perhaps there -was- a way to get back down without having to fight our way through Meiling's minions...

Less resources spent on mooks the better; especially in enclosed areas with iffy footing.
>> No. 45789
File 131125180024.jpg- (279.86KB , 856x840 , 49e71dc52051115c37e9ee52996907ad.jpg ) [iqdb]
45789
Update likely tomorrow, kinda bouncing back an forth between other stuff I need to do today.

Sorry about that.
>> No. 45800
>>45789
>Sorry about that.
Stop apologizing!
>> No. 45806
>>45789

hooray!
>> No. 45826
File 131143043422.jpg- (195.22KB , 1000x750 , f266ab5fb215c57af70063a69d87229e.jpg ) [iqdb]
45826
SUDDENLY
>> No. 45840
>>45826
I have not been following this story vigilantly due to the author's proclivities towards abandonment, but god help me if I can neglect a reference to MGQ. Was this pic relevant or just another excuse for no updates?
>> No. 45844
>>45840
The latter, sadly, but I'm done with it now so hopefully I'll actually get something done...
>> No. 45848
>>45844

>but I'm done with it now

That's what you think. Your dick will be disagreeing with you shortly, but it's a normal reaction to Monmasu.

See you in a week.
>> No. 45867
File 131164675998.jpg- (55.61KB , 419x591 , Gargoyle.jpg ) [iqdb]
45867
Also, sorry about the weird quotes in the last update, I had accidentally forgotten to change the formatting from Estonian to English.

-------

“Wait, what are you doing?”

I paid no real heed to Alice, who was still busying herself with chucking dolls down the shaft like hand grenades; figuring that the explosive damage would render the already-crumbled stairs even harder to navigate, getting down would actually be safer through an alternate route... Thinking so to myself, I stood up on the edge of the clock tower's balcony, whip firmly in hand, and glanced at my companion over my shoulder. She looked somewhat perplexed.

“Just follow me. I've got a plan.”

With a smirk, I leaned forward, arms spread out, and fell.

-------

BGM: “Mist Tower”

Well, I lied. I hadn't quite thought this all the way through, but I had always been good at improvising. As the cold wind of the night slapped me in the face in my rapid descent, I had to squint my eyes to be able to see, although the darkness still made this quite difficult. Fortunately, the moon had peeked out from behind the clouds just enough to illuminate an arrangement of gargoyles mounted on the outside walls of the mansion; spotting one in the path of my plummeting, I lashed at it with the chain whip; my aim striking true, I got the tip to coil itself around its neck, turning the whip into a makeshift grappling hook.

Of course, there was still the issue of my momentum, due to my previous acceleration towards the ground. Damn you, gravity and physics as a whole. Even the tail of my coat, flapping behind my like some sort of inadequate parachute, didn't do much to slow me down. Anyway, I had fortunately managed to hit it at an angle where the whip pulled me into a circular swing, as opposed to yanking my arm out of its socket (though it did come close). Swinging almost full-circle, I landed right on top of the gargoyle, taking a moment to regain balance and plan my next move. A ray of moonlight spilled out of the oily layer of clouds covering the night sky, hitting me like a spotlight. Perched on the back of the gargoyle as I was, I peeked down at the fortified castle-like walls constructed onto the roof of the mansion, being patrolled by fairy archers.

I'm the goddamn Batman.

...Just then, something beneath me stirred. A light crackle, and bits of the top layer of stone that the gargoyle was made of crumbled away beneath my feet; as I struggled to maintain balance, my feet touched upon something quite a bit smoother than stone.

Something... fleshy.

A spine-chilling sound of stone grinding against stone drew my attention to the gargoyle's face – which had somehow turned to stare directly at me, the stone covering the creature's neck having flaked off, soon followed by that coating its head, revealing some rather sharp-looking fangs and a pair of tiny black eyes, sunken deep into their sockets, a dim red glow beginning to emanate from them as the gargoyle fully gains consciousness.

“...Er, sorry, did I wake you?”

I don't think it understood me. Instead, it shook itself violently, bursting forth from its stone carapace and knocking me off its back, sending me plummeting downwards once more. Before I could even react, it swooped down after me and grabbed onto me with its talons; the only thing keeping them from sinking into my flesh was the strangely resilient longcoat Remilia Scarlet had provided me with.

Undeterred by this, the gargoyle proceeded to thrash me about, taking occasional swipes at me with its clawed arms – apparently it had grabbed me by the shoulders with its prehensile feet – which I somehow managed to deflect with the chain whip, grasped in both hands. All this time, it was flying through the air at high speed while holding onto me; how these creatures manage to generate enough lift to fly by themselves, let alone with human-sized prey, without having ridiculously disproportionate wings is beyond me.

I usually just blame magic.

In any case, I had no intention of being shaken about like a ragdoll. I spotted an opening in its attack pattern, coiling the chain into a loop and throwing it around its neck, yanking it tight. Its air supply(?) cut off, the gargoyle ceased its attacks in favor of clawing at the chain constricting its neck, its grip on my shoulders loosening enough for me to shake myself out of its grip, swinging my body up onto the creature's back. Now riding the monster like some sort of flying mount, I used the chain around its neck to steer it downwards, in the general direction of what appeared to be the large skylight over the main hall of the mansion. I suppose unholy aberrations can be convenient at times, too.

Unfortunately, my little gargoyle-wrangling session in the sky hadn't gone unnoticed. What whistled past my ear just then was not the wind, but the first of an incoming hail of arrows coming from the archers on the mansion walls, intended to drop me from the sky. I reached into my coat and pulled out a fistful of my somewhat-dwindling supply of throwing knives, flicking them downwards at the fairies, catching a few of them in the chest or head.

While most of the arrows bounced off the gargoyle's rough skin relatively harmlessly, one fairy managed to get a lucky shot that hit the beast right in the chest, piercing through its flesh and bypassing the ribs – a fatal shot. With a bloodcurdling howl, the gargoyle stiffened up and its flesh took on the form of stone yet again; I heard a crackling sound, and its head fell off mid-flight, its neck having crumbled under the tightening chain constricting it in its new, astonishingly fragile stone form. Dead gargoyles don't seem to be all that durable...

Now, this left me in a rather undesirable position: sitting on what amounted to a big ol' rock falling from the sky at an ever-increasing speed. At least I was falling in roughly the right direction – onto the mansion wall, the skylight right in front of me. Bracing myself, I could do little else than lifting my feet up onto the gargoyle's back, kicking off of it just before it crashed and falling into a roll that managed to soften the drop just enough to keep me from breaking any of my bones. That was more than I could say for the unfortunate fairy that the dead gargoyle fell onto, at least. All I could see were a pair of feet peeking out from a pile of rubble, unmoving.

Eh, she'll get better.

Of course, seeing one of their comrades get crushed to death like that got the other fairies on the wall quite riled up, to say the least; spotting one of the gargoyle's wings that had somehow managed to stay mostly intact, I grabbed it and held it in front of myself as a makeshift shield; funnily enough, in its inanimate, stone form, the gargoyle's body parts seemed to endure arrows quite a lot better, though you'd assume it couldn't fly in such a state. In any case, I had to press on; with the chain whip now on my belt, I instead drew the Kusanagi and charged forward, gargoyle-”shield” in hand, tackling my way through whatever fairies didn't manage to get out of the way in time, hacking and slashing at those that dived to the sides to avoid me, cutting a clean path through them.

I could hear them calling for backup in their high-pitched, nervous voices. After all this time, I was still alive; they were afraid. Sheathing the Kusanagi once again, I instead reached for a vial of holy water, uncorking it with my teeth and letting the chemical fluid flow out behind me, leaving a trail of fire impassable by my foes. Well, okay, they could've probably just flown over it, but fairies aren't too bright under pressure. By the time any of them could've possibly thought of this, I had reached the skylight; diving into it, I held the gargoyle's wing in front of myself to avoid cutting myself as I shattered the glass, landing a good ways down, the impact shattering the thin stone wing and leaving me lying there, coughing and covered in dead-gargoyle-dust.

The shouting outside was promptly interrupted by the sounds of small explosions, shaking the paint loose from the main hall's ceilings and making the chandeliers shake about violently. Just as quickly, everything quieted down, and my companion slowly hovered down through the broken skylight, already shaking her head at me.

“Really. You certainly know how to make an entrance, don't you?” For whatever reason, Alice didn't seem to approve of my impressive track record of property damage; somewhat amusing coming from someone who utilizes bombs as a weapon. Her feet touched down on the carpet, a quiet crackle being produced by glass shards under her boots. With a light frown finding its way to her lips, she glances about the mansion interior, signs of the various previous encounters we had had still lingering here and there, the fairy maids being a little too preoccupied with combat duties to clean things up in the mean time.
“The lady of the house is going to kill you for all this, you know.”

“Not if I kill her first,” I responded instantly with a chuckle, although I can't say I took any real pride in my vandalism. The mansion looked quite tasteful and elegant before I arrived to turn it upside down, after all... What a shame. I turned upright a fallen-over vase that had somehow managed to remain unbroken, before turning my glance to the sealed door beckoning to me upstairs. Turning back to Alice to meet her eyes, I whispered to her, tension in the air...
“...Shall we?”

She nodded to me. Slowly, we ascended the staircase, which felt an awful lot longer than before, the keys hanging from the ring in my hand jingling forebodingly.

We reached the door.

I removed each key from the ring, one at a time, inserting each into their respective hole.

A star, with a lion and chinese dragon grasping it and looking at one another with furious faces. Hong Meiling, the Gatekeeper.

A pentagram, with six bat wings sprouting from its sides, three on each side, and a heart in the middle. Koakuma, the Succubus familiar.

A halfmoon suspended above an open tome. Patchouli Knowledge, the Sorceress.

A clock dial. The Doppelganger in the clock tower.

And two large hands suspended above a humanoid shape. The Golem that Alice had constructed.
I gave that last key to Alice. As I inserted mine into the keyhole with the clock dial emblem, so too did she insert hers into that of the Golem. We turned the keys in unison.

A whirring, clicking noise rang out from inside of the mechanism sealing the doors, getting louder and more intense by the second, until stopping with an echoing KLAK. A moment of silence passed, the two of us exchanging glances, before the double doors slowly – painfully slowly – opened inwards, invitingly, allowing us entry to the final portion of the mansion – the path to Remilia Scarlet's inner sanctum.

“Endgame” I found myself muttering to myself under my breath.



-------

[] Enter.
[] There was just one more thing I wanted to do before we went on to finish this little game... (write-in)
>> No. 45868
[X] Enter. With style!
>> No. 45870
[X] Enter. With style!

Vampire Killer time?
>> No. 45871
[x] Enter.

I hope you do not rush things here Taisa.
>> No. 45872
[X] There was just one more thing I wanted to do before we went on to finish this little game...
-[X] The Mistresses sister. She would be rather pissed when she finds out that I killed Remilia. And if I wasn't here, it would likely take it out on the villagers.

You know we just have to fight that Bonus Boss.
>> No. 45874
[x] Enter.

Even just one Crissaegrim makes Dracula a joke.
>> No. 45879
[X] There was just one more thing I wanted to do before we went on to finish this little game...
-[x] Is there a way to improve our equipment before entering?
>> No. 45880
>>45867
>BGM: “Mist Tower”

And here's your Mist Tower (Outer Wall) track~!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jEwS5qeeoq4

[X](write-in)
-[x]Prepping equipment as well as physical assessment would be a good idea; don't want to DRAMATIC ENTRYcharge in and realize unnoticed wounds before it's too late.
>> No. 45881
>>45880
Derp, I goofed. That's what I get for writing at 6AM, I guess.
>> No. 45882
File 131170517922.jpg- (146.58KB , 1600x1200 , 3167.jpg ) [iqdb]
45882
>>45881

Hey it gives this Music-Man a purpose and another reason to support the boards here aside from simply enjoying reading them!

Besides I've finally stopped procrastinating and am gonna post a sound track over on /words/ eventually today.
>> No. 45891
[x] Enter. With style!
>> No. 45904
I've unexpectedly got work until Sunday, sorry.
>> No. 45905
>>45904
>I've unexpectedly got work

I will pray for you in these trying times. Please bring a gun with you for safety purposes.
>> No. 45956
Alright, finally done with work for the time being. Now allow me to sleep for 24 hours in a row and I'll get back to writing. This story's dragged on for far too long now, so let's finish it.
>> No. 45967
>>45956

Hooray!
>> No. 46025
Would you believe I'm having the damnedest time trying to write a 'stylish' entry? I'm still nowhere near satisfied with how this is shaping up so far. I'm sorry. I'll have something for you tomorrow, with or without style.
>> No. 46030
>>46025

>Would you believe I'm having the damnedest time trying to write a 'stylish' entry?

Not really. I can't think of how I would write it either. Didn't vote for it anyway.
>> No. 46043
File 13130061038.jpg- (286.66KB , 1250x2550 , 1d657f256b47066d55bc601bc9c038c0.jpg ) [iqdb]
46043
Disgracefully short. Sorry.

-------

Without further ado, I walked up to the parted doors, pressing my palms against them. They were heavy, difficult to move... at least for a human. As I peered in through the crack in between, all I could see was darkness, faint hints of silhouettes of living beings rustling about in the shadows within. Glancing briefly to Alice and exchanging nods between the two of us, I pressed my weight against the double doors, exerting further force when that proved to be insufficient, until they gave way and swung open before me, the light from the main hall of the mansion penetrating into the corridor ahead, illuminating it from behind me and casting a tall shadow of myself onto the floor.

A short pause for effect - and to regather myself after the night's challenges - and I stepped inside. A firm, confident stride, hands at my sides at the ready for if I should come to need the whip or the sword. It took a moment for my eyes to adjust to the dim interior of the mostly featureless corridor. A row of maids on either side became visible, standing in unmoving formation, eyes fixated upon me. I coolly returned their stares, before shooting quick glares at the two closest to me, to my sides. I raised my arms and, with a snap of the fingers, pointed at the unlit candlesticks mounted on the walls.

“Let there be light.”

With surprising obedience, the maids turned to the wall and lit the candles as told; presumably with magic. Conjuring a small flame is no big deal, after all. Having done so, the two turned back to me, clasping their hands in front of their aprons and reassuming their stance, a diligent expression on their faces. I nodded to them in smug satisfaction and motioned to Alice with my head, beckoning her to follow me deeper inside, retaining the confident stride from before. The rest of the maids proceeded to light more candles on the walls as I passed them, the light following me deeper into the depths of the final part of the mansion. Kind of symbolic in a way, no?

Compared to the fairy maid brigade that had been assaulting me so haphazardly over the course of my adventures in the mansion so far, the Elite corps was in another league entirely, and it showed in their demeanor. The majority were still fairies, of course, yet instead of looking like sinister children, they had the proportions (if not the height) of mature women, and bore weapons of a size fit for humans, as opposed to the down-scaled versions of the other fairies; “greater fairies”, if you will. In place of the uncertain, confused or inexperienced looks of the regular maids, the faces of the fairy Elite showed signs of stern discipline. Believe me, it's quite a challenge to get a fairy to take -anything- seriously.

Not all were fairies, of course; several of them showed subtle signs of a more demonic origin – pointed tails and ears, small horns, bat-like wings, that sort of thing. Due to their... nature, the fiends passed sultry gazes at both myself and Alice as we passed them, although they stayed true to their contract and remained in formation with the rest of the maids, only allowing themselves the freedom of licking their lips or the suggestive waggling of eyebrows. While maintaining my confident posture, I couldn't help but feel a cold sweat come over me. Patchouli Knowledge's little pet was a low-level demon, and only one, presumably just a favorite which she had bonded with. However, it seemed the sorceress had summoned scores of the fiends and bound them in service of the Scarlet Devil herself, as both servants and bodyguards.

And yet, our passage was completely unhindered. They had been ordered to let us pass, for whatever reason. Perhaps just another stage of Remilia Scarlet's little 'game'. Perhaps something else.

We would find out in just a moment. A single maid awaited us just up ahead, standing in front of yet another ornate door (ugh...), stood with her arms crossed with a strong sense of authority, and blocking our path. With one hand resting on the handle of my whip, I extended my other arm towards her, pointing directly at her in a confrontational manner.

“The head maid, I presume?”

As the last candles were lit, the dim glow of the flames just barely illuminated her face. She smiled at me, although it was a cold, hostile sort of smile. The smile of a killer. I knew that smile well. I had seen it in mirrors before.

Silence.

-------

[] Oh well. Another enemy, another battle...
[] Talk. Maybe you can avoid having to fight the -entire- Elite maid corps, somehow.
-[] “I don't suppose you're here to escort me to your mistress, are you...”
-[] “That note in the clock tower... You wouldn't happen to be “S”, would you?”
-[] “Are you... human?”
-[] “You look familiar.”
-[] (write-in)
>> No. 46044
[x] Talk. Maybe you can avoid having to fight the -entire- Elite maid corps, somehow.
-[x] “You look familiar.”
-[x] “That note in the clock tower... You wouldn't happen to be “S”, would you?”

The endgame, finally. I'm a bit nervous.
>> No. 46045
File 131301514372.png- (154.19KB , 409x484 , 1300205191216.png ) [iqdb]
46045
[x] Talk. Maybe you can avoid having to fight the -entire- Elite maid corps, somehow.
-[x] “I don't suppose you're here to escort me to your mistress, are you...”
-[x] “You look familiar.”

The doppelganger is already dead. What the fuck is going on?
>> No. 46046
[x] Talk. Maybe you can avoid having to fight the -entire- Elite maid corps, somehow.
-[x] “You look familiar.”
>> No. 46048
[X] Talk. Maybe you can avoid having to fight the -entire- Elite maid corps, somehow.
-[x] “I don't suppose you're here to escort us to your mistress, are you...”
-[x] (write-in)
--[x] Mind if we're allowed to freshen up or would she prefer us as we are now..?

Bound to have some standards regarding an "audience"'s appearance before her!
>> No. 46050
[x] Talk. Maybe you can avoid having to fight the -entire- Elite maid corps, somehow.
-[x] “You look familiar.”
-[x] “That note in the clock tower... You wouldn't happen to be “S”, would you?”
>> No. 46051
[X] Talk. Maybe you can avoid having to fight the -entire- Elite maid corps, somehow.
-[XI] “You look familiar.”
-[XII] “That note in the clock tower... You wouldn't happen to be “S”, would you?”

Works for me~!
>> No. 46053
Shit is about to get so real.

[x] Talk. Maybe you can avoid having to fight the -entire- Elite maid corps, somehow.
-[x] “That note in the clock tower... You wouldn't happen to be “S”, would you?”
-[x] “You look familiar.”

Think this will be an Archer fight or a Richter fight?
>> No. 46054
>>46053
>Think this will be an Archer fight
Archer? Do elaborate.
>> No. 46055
>>46054

Future Sakuya vs current Sakuya
>> No. 46056
>>46055
Are we still on that "Hunter = Sakuya" thing?
>> No. 46057
[X] Talk. Maybe you can avoid having to fight the -entire- Elite maid corps, somehow.
-[X] “You look familiar.”
-[X] “That note in the clock tower... You wouldn't happen to be “S”, would you?”

>>46056
Is there any definitive proof to the contrary? Even this does not count. "Head maid with the smile of a killer" could describe Yumeko or an original character. Taisa is keeping everything vague to keep us guessing.

And even if this maid is "Sakuya Izayoi," there's currently no proof that a "you lose, you're now my head maid. Your new name is Sakuya Izayoi." ending can't happen.
>> No. 46058
>>46057
>Is there any definitive proof to the contrary?
That argument just doesn't work. Regardless, I feel that you're right. The "Kinzo style" naming plot twist would be quite adequate here.
>> No. 46083
The usual useless writer's block whine goes here. Sorry.
I've been working on the next update, though. I'm still here.
>> No. 46088
> I've been working on the next update, though. I'm still here.

hooray!
>> No. 46101
Alright. I’ll take a few more days, and then get off of my lazy ass and try to start writing.
>> No. 46104
>>46101
What, are you taking over or something?
>> No. 46108
>>46104

Judging by his own thread, looks like a misfire.
>> No. 46116
File 13137520438.jpg- (253.34KB , 1226x1380 , Yuuka-cosplaying-or-is-she.jpg ) [iqdb]
46116
>>46104

For the record you'll never see a "takeover" and rarely some one else continuing a story from another author unless it was a collaboration (even rarer occurrence).
>> No. 46117
>>46116
As long as we get some updates out of it, I don't mind either way.
>> No. 46118
File 131376790949.png- (50.41KB , 440x560 , hmm.png ) [iqdb]
46118
>>46117
I would as I wouldn't want YAF for example to continue it or other writers who have a style or mindset that clashes with what the story had originally set.
>> No. 46217
[X] Ask her one final question.
-[X] Did she ever discover her true self?

Ugh, all of the choices seem demeaning. I admit, I laughed at the begining of the Richter speach. But after the Hunter's "nothing but a weapon" thought and the maid speaking like she had been through that too... feels bad, man.
>> No. 46218
[X] Ask her one final question.
-[X] Did she ever discover her true self?
>> No. 46219
>>46217
>Ugh, all of the choices seem demeaning.
What makes you say that?
>> No. 46220
[x] Put the doll out of her misery.

There's no point in having compassion or sympathy for your enemies, cruel as it sounds. All it does is weaken your own resole.
>> No. 46222
>>46220
You say that to the people who've voted to avoid killing anyone with a name whenever possible so far. I bet we'll even end up sparing Remilia!
>> No. 46223
[x] Put the doll out of her misery.

He's chosen his path. To do anything else would be like a small admission of weakness, of hesitancy, in his credo. The hunter has lived his whole life like this. If he admits, in any manner, that he could possibly be wrong... then what would he have left?

Also, this whole update sucked. I surmise that it is easy to fall back upon thinly veiled parodies when hitting a blockage, but it doesn't make for a fantastic bit of writing.
>> No. 46224
>>46223
>Also, this whole update sucked. I surmise that it is easy to fall back upon thinly veiled parodies when hitting a blockage, but it doesn't make for a fantastic bit of writing.

I agree, I agree. I'm sorry. I could delete it and rewrite it, if you think it's that bad. I'll check back sometime and see how people feel about this...
Would you have been able to tell if I hadn't included the little mental speech thing in the middle?
>> No. 46225
>>46224
I wouldn't have picked up on it so quickly, but once swords started shattering in quick sequential order, it immediately brought to mind Gilgamesh Vs Shirou. That, combined with the battle of ideology, was what sealed the deal.

Well, aside from the UBW chant, which was hidden with all the subtlety of a brick to the face.

Don't worry about rewriting it, either. It is what is is, ya know.
>> No. 46228
File 131462149972.jpg- (220.63KB , 782x1580 , dont_mind_me.jpg ) [iqdb]
46228
-[Write-In]
--[X] Only a human can truly hope to kill a monster; perhaps that is why your master said you were fated to betray and defeat her.
---[x] Say a prayer for her.

The question remaining now is who's the monster and who's the human when the final confrontation occurs.
>> No. 46229
File 131462558314.jpg- (479.27KB , 1400x2400 , 1eb2567e1a25fd000c3fac58671083b1.jpg ) [iqdb]
46229
>>46225
I know, I know, but I feel the need to compromise here, if only for my own sake. I refrained from a full rewrite, but I deleted the worst-offending portion... Those among you that have already read the update in its original form know what it was anyway, of course. I'm sorry.

-------

Taking her silence as affirmation, I slowly approached her, every step of mine carefully followed by countless eyes from behind. The light from the candles caused countless shadows to dance across the entire corridor, obscuring details of the woman's appearance; yet, as I got closer, so too did she, taking a few silent steps in my direction, contrasting with the soft echo of my own footsteps. As we came nearly face-to-face, she wordlessly dropped into an elegant curtsy. Bringing her head back up, she flashed a sinister grin at me.

“Good evening, honored guest,” she said, that last word dripping with clearly audible venom that contradicted the sweet, melodious flow of her voice, standing back upright and adjusting a crease out of her dress, before crossing her arms once again.
“I trust your stay in the mansion has been... satisfactory?”

“I can't say I've been bored. Your mistress certainly knows how to entertain her guests.”
Now that she was closer and in direct light, I decided to make some smalltalk to get a chance to inspect her more thoroughly. Blonde hair, golden eyes, a red maid outfit... And what appears to be something hidden under her apron, further obscured by the relative darkness still permeating the corridor. Something told me I had seen this woman before, somewhere...
“The fact you're standing in our way suggests that you're our next... entertainer. By the way...” I took another step closer, now standing directly face-to-face, eye-to-eye with her, our faces mere inches from one another, just short of the distance where the human eye can't make out finer details anymore.
“...You look familiar. Have we met?”

She chuckled softly, her pleasant voice not doing much to reduce the dark tension gradually building up in the air.

I could hear my heart beat.

Thump.

“In a manner of speaking, we have seen one another before, yes.”
This woman. At this distance, I could see – no, I could sense every detail of her body. The way her stance leaned her weight on one leg. The subtle body movements, looking innocuous enough to the average viewer, yet to me this was akin to a preliminary combat stance, the maid poised to avoid or deflect any strike I could attempt. The minute shifts of her eyes, scanning my body just as I did to hers. The subtle tension in every one of her muscles, every tendon. The very arrangement of the bones of her skeleton. The sort of anatomical insight you'd need to kill efficiently.

Thump.

In but a few seconds, it felt as if we knew more about each other than anyone else.

“However,” she continued softly, “you haven't come all this way just to ask about me, now have you?”

“Well, perhaps I have, perhaps I haven't... That note, in the clock tower. I had assumed 'S' stood for 'Scarlet', but...”

“This -is- the Scarlet Devil Mansion, after all.”

“...but I somehow doubt your mistress would have been the one intended to face me there.”

“It's not so farfetched of a thought,” she responded, looking to the side in thought while still leaving no openings in her defenses, “as the mistress has a habit of... meddling in other peoples' affairs.”

I couldn't help but cock an eyebrow at this. Something about her demeanor was... off, for a human under a vampire's spell.
“That's not a proper way for a servant to speak of her mistress, now is it?”

“She has chosen to interact with you in the middle of your little game with her already, has she not? It is not as if I am telling a lie,” she smirked back, lowering her arms. I couldn't help but glance at whatever it was that she was hiding under that apron of hers.
“Although, supposing you were right, supposing I was meant to face you in the clock tower, myself... What difference would it make to you?”

“If that were the case, then I assume you're not going to let us pass here without a fight. Simple as that.” Mindful of the tight quarters which we were in, I switched my hand from the whip to the sword, getting ready.
“A human, standing here to defend a vampire's inner sanctum... You're probably nothing more than the devil's watchdog, in reality. Just a slave to her mental domination.”

Her smile vanished just then, her body tensing up visibly. Sometimes it's easier to strike a nerve than you'd assume; one's pride is always going to be a vulnerable spot, especially when dealing with vampires and their ilk or henchmen.
“And what if my service is voluntary?”

“Then you never had any true will to begin with, to consort with monsters.”

CLANG

I had managed to draw the Kusanagi just in time to parry her strike, as the head maid had pulled two blades out from underneath her apron. A twisted grin found its way to her lips, baring her teeth at me like those of a hostile hound. The rest of the maid brigade surrounding us prepared to join their superior in assaulting us, yet she barked an order to them upon which they returned to their original positions, a wary look in their eyes. I motioned to Alice to stay back as well, which she hesitantly agreed to. Turning around, she prepared some manner of spell, keeping a watchful eye on the rest of the maids in case they decided to attack us anyway at some point.

The head maid, staring at me with slightly narrowed eyes, whispered to me softly.
“...Who do you think are the real monsters here?”
With that, we jumped back from one another in unison, blades in hand, prepared for our imminent duel. Her smile had vanished, leaving a cold, serious expression on her face. After several seconds had passed in silence, she spoke once more.
“Die, Hunter. You don't belong in this mansion.”

-------

BGM: “Blood Relations” (Don't read too much into the track name, I picked it for a different reason.)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hCIKrcnm8JA

-------

Instantly, we dashed for one another, our swords colliding with a deafening clang; with her being armed with two blades instead of one, I had to go on the offensive right off the bat, lest I risk being overwhelmed. The legendary blade in my hand delivered crushing blow after blow, the maid putting all of her strength into deflecting my attacks, vaulting over me as I put too much momentum into my swing. As she landed, she attempted to deliver a low, sweeping slash at my legs, which I avoided by mimicking her earlier maneuver, backflipping over her and attempting a horizontal, beheading charge; she dropped into a roll to avoid it, putting us right back in our starting positions. Not pausing for even a moment, we once more dashed for one another, our blades meeting with terrifying force.

The sound of metal shattering.

One of the maid's swords crumbled from the force of the Kusanagi.

“Tsk... I'm not even here by my own choice! But the people of the world need Hunters to protect them from monsters!” My next blow, fueled by my frustrated outburst, shattered her other sword as well, granting me an opening to cut a gash into her upper arm; she had just barely managed to pull back enough that the wound wasn't too deep, so I followed up with a tackle, knocking her to the ground. Those heels must've been murder to fight in.

“Shut... UP!” she screamed at me, her previously calm demeanor having vanished into thin air; she lunged for me, leaping through the air and materializing two new blades out of nowhere to deliver a downward double-slash. Understanding the difference in the power of our weapons, I stepped into her strike, slamming the Kusanagi into her swords with full-force, the blades breaking apart once again.

A gasp.

She dropped to her knees; I could almost -hear- her clenching her teeth. The maids around us looked down at her with worried faces, yet they didn't break their formation out of fear or respect towards their superior.

“...'Protect', you say!? Your Church lies, deceives and manipulates people from behind the scenes, and sends out minions like yourself to establish their dominance in the world...!”

Slowly, she stood up; I am not quite sure why I didn't simply strike her down right then and there... something about her felt almost pitiable. And... relatable.

Suddenly, she turned around and dashed for me once more, two more blades forming in her hands from nothing.

“DIEEEE!”

Just barely, I managed to deflect her blow, leading into a counterattack of my own; her movements faster than before, she dodged it and moved to my side with me barely noticing. Before she could strike, I spun around and slashed at her once more, her blade stopping mine with a loud clang. The noise of our battle sent countless deafening echoes through the long corridor, the maids tensing up with each sound. The head maid delivered a vertical downward slash, the force dropping me to one knee in defense.

“Perhaps the same could be said... of your mistress and her kind!”
Exerting all of my strength, I pushed her away and slashed at her again, yet she blocked my attack with her other sword, and again and again with the former one as I struggled to maintain my offense.

“Your words are as empty as your conviction!”
Sensing an opening, she drove the right-hand blade forward in a deadly stab, which I narrowly avoided by ducking, following up with an upward slash of my own, once again deflected by her. A flurry of blows assaulted me, putting me on the defensive until I could counter with a charging attack, knocking her back enough to keep me from being backed against a wall. Still, with two blades against one, she was quickly able to resume her streak of attacks unhindered, forcing me to vault over her to prevent her from cornering me. As I attempted to stab her in the back as is fit for a hero such as myself, she turned just in time to block it, pushing against my blade with a savage expression on her face.

“Mankind ill needs a savior such as you!” she continued, but I cut her off (heh) by knocking her blade aside and going for another attack, which she could only avoid by diving to the side. Not allowing her to simply lie there as she pleased this time, I jumped after her to finish her off, yet she rolled away just in time for the Kusanagi to harmlessly embed itself into the floor. Managing to yank it back out before she stood up, I resumed combat with her, not letting up my offense; preserving momentum as much as possible, I hammered her swords with a series of crushing blows, pummeling her to the floor in a brutal manner unfitting of the graceful weapon in my hand. However, even I was bound by human limitations; as I began growing tired from maintaining my onslaught, she didn't hesitate to exploit the opening I left, standing up and striking me with such force as to drive me back from her.

“And what is a man if not food for your master and her ilk? But enough talk... GET OUT OF MY WAY!” Exclaiming this, I slammed my sword into hers with enough force to shatter it into a million pieces; not letting this even bother her in the slightest, she swung her empty arm at me. Understanding her intention, I dashed backwards just in time to avoid the new blade she had just created mid-swing. As missing the slash left her open for attack, I put myself back on the offensive and ran for her.

“You're wrong!”

I slashed. She dodged. She swung both her blades at me, I deflected. She dashed to the side, I followed. Like this, we were literally chasing one another around the room, trading blows each time we got close enough, our tired bodies not allowing us to defend one another as efficiently anymore. From the sides, I could see both Alice and the maids staring at us with both worry and awe in their eyes.
“Humans are weak!” Despite telling her to shut up, I couldn't hold my own yelling back anymore.
“Weakness is always exploited, this is nature's own law! Coexistence is nothing but a naive dream!Just as the wolf kills the sickly deer, so too would monsters wipe out humanity if not for humans like you and me to oppose them, to keep them in check! By handing your body over to the side of the enemy, you've betrayed not only yourself, but your entire race!”

Exhausted, she leaned her weight onto her swords, gasping for air while leaning over them. For one reason or another, I couldn't bring myself to exploit this, again; had the repeated instances of me showing mercy to my opponents that night gotten to me? Had I grown soft? Should I have killed the sorceress and her succubus after all? Should I not have risked releasing Alice – or killed her, just to be safe? To be safe... to remain my old self. As I said in the beginning, to have those you care about, is to willingly create yourself a weak spot for enemies to exploit.

“...My body... is nothing but a weapon,” she muttered to me through clenched teeth, looking up at me with blood trickling down her face. What she said... had a sense of familiarity to it.

“You're still... defending your position?” Why did I feel like the villain, all of a sudden?

“I will not lose to you,” she said, her voice trembling not out of weakness, but rage.
“I wouldn't mind losing to anyone else, but... I can't lose to a human!”

“You-...” Before I could say another word, she lunged for me with speed I had never seen before. Her strikes came so fast it was less like fighting against two blades, more like twenty! All I could do was desperately defend myself, hopping backwards between each flurry of blows. Each time I attempted to strike back, she defended herself not by parrying, but by striking back at me, the force of her blow resonating through the Kusanagi into my arm, neutering the force of my own attacks.

“You know she views you as nothing more than a pawn! Once you become useless to her, she'll drain you and cast you aside like so many others before you!” We traded two more blows, the strength behind them actually sending shockwaves of force through the entire corridor, forcing the maids to retreat further from us.
“And yet you'd still give your life for her!?”

I'm not the one at wrong here!” With that cry, our swords meet once more, the sound produced literally disabling my ears for a moment, cutting off all noise other than a high-pitched ringing in my skull. With horror, I could see the Kusanagi fly from my grip, vanishing into the darkness behind and narrowly avoiding decapitating one of the maids in its path. Gritting my teeth, I kicked one of the swords out of her hands and caught it in the air, taking it for myself. With a mutual loud roar, we charged for one another one last time, the speed behind our blows no longer blinding, but with all of our energy devoted to strength. Each collision of blades resonated through the air of the corridor as if a bomb had gone off, yet neither of us could afford to let up the offense.

“Your ideals are not your own!” she screams at me, “You've merely borrowed them! This is why you can't win!”

“And you!? Are you saying you're truly here purely of your own will!?”

Hearing that, she almost seems to hesitate for just a brief moment, before crying out in rage and knocking me back with her sword, charging me with it just after, intending to stab me through the stomach before I could recover.

To kill me right there and then.

Reaching into my coat, I pulled out one of my throwing knives and tossed it at her, hitting her in the chest.

As she stumbled in both pain and surprise, I caught her sword-hand and pushed the blade through her body.

“...It's my win, head maid.”

Her body convulsed briefly, before going limp.

“...Yeah. And it's my loss...”

I set her down on the ground, laying her against the wall in a sitting position.

She coughed blood. The wound didn't even look that serious due to her blood-red uniform not showing the blood itself, but a sword going through you is usually bad news. I knelt down in front of her. The maids around us were still in formation, despite their superior having just been mortally wounded. Obedient to the very end, I suppose.

“...The mistress said...” she tried to whisper, but her voice was becoming weaker by the minute. It was difficult to speak, due to the blood forcing its way up her throat.
“...She said I was fated to betray her... One summer day... I would fight my way through the mansion, and defeat her in combat...” She spat out a mouthful of blood, to make it easier to speak.
“...I don't think I could've lived with myself if that happened, so... this outcome isn't too bad, either.”

The carpet underneath us was getting wetter.

“...Humans are bastards, you know. I used to be like you. I used to fight on the side of... good, and justice. Heh. What a joke...” She tried to swallow, but that just made her choke.
“Agh... You know they don't care about you. They'll never acknowledge you for what you've done, they'll never reassure you, make you feel good about what you've done... But killing never feels good. Where was... my justice?”

“...You knew you were doing the right thing.”

“Did I? Did I really...” She coughed again. Not a lot of blood came out that time... because she was running out.
“...We call them monsters. We kill them. But they, too have families, societies... And we too have villains among us. Perhaps we're killing innocents among them, ourselves? Perhaps we even started it, and they're just retaliating... A vicious cycle like that, heh... What a joke.”

She slumped, and slid off the wall; I managed to catch her, and gently set her down on the ground.

“...Do you hate my mistress?”

“...No. I don't even really know her. But I'm a Hunter, so it's my job...”

“I love her,” she stated matter-of-factly. “She gave me purpose, without forcing me to question myself. Without making me feel like I was good for nothing but killing...” Her eyes became glazed over, staring blankly into the ceiling.
“...I don't want to kill anymore, milady.”

I stood up.

“...I'm going to go face your mistress now.”

“Yes... I'm sure you'll... do the right thing,” she whispered, barely audibly. The life was almost gone from her body.

The maids lowered their heads, some of them crying softly in the background. Even Alice seemed touched.

...Why did this scene make me feel so uncomfortable?

-------

[] Ask her one final question.
-[] What is her name?
-[] Did she ever find happiness?
-[] Did she ever discover her true self?
-[] Is there any hope for you?
-[] (write-in)
[] Say a prayer for her.
[] Apologize.
[] (write-in)

-------

All previous votes still apply. Current standing is 2 for true self, 2 for put out of misery write-in, 1 for the other write-in plus a prayer.

Again, I'm sorry. I know this doesn't really fix or improve anything, it's just something I did for myself so I could bare looking at the thread somehow. Having slept on it, I just felt too terrible about what I've done otherwise.

If it makes you feel any better, the whole 'battle of ideologies' thing was going to be a part of the scene one way or another, I didn't shoehorn that part in. Ah well. Let's hope I manage not to fuck up the next update this badly, then.

Again, sorry.
>> No. 46230
I half expected was for Yumeko to open the 'Gate of Pandæmonium' and start chucking swords at our hero out of the air.

[x] Say a prayer for her.

I think it would comfort her most if we were to carry out our prescribed 'role' (as laid out by her master or in her mind), even if the prayer itself is empty.

Anyway, you've learned something important from this: Scarlet's predictions of one's end fate are not infallible, and may mean as little for you as they did for her.
>> No. 46245
Well, with that last fiasco it doesn't look like I'll be getting any more votes for the time being. As a reader has let me know that the choices given sucked in the sense that they didn't do the final scene justice, I'm inclined to go for the write-in to break the tie.

Called for mercy kill, barring sudden vocal protests.
>> No. 46346
>>46245

Updates?
>> No. 46362
>>46245
I still think you can delete it and rewrite, on a new thread. References like this are very easily to catch on and somehow prevent me from enjoying the fight. A clash of ideologies is good and all, but not the best part for... tributes. Much less 3 on a row. Just use your style.

Just in case you can't or aren't willing to change it, here's my vote
-[Write-In]
--[X] Only a human can truly hope to kill a monster; perhaps that is why your master said you were fated to betray and defeat her.
---[x] Say a prayer for her.


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