Pain. Agony. Suffering. These were the songs that my body was singing to me, a harmony of protest over how poorly it had been treated lately. The bruising from the fight with Yuugi was basically nothing. The sheer amount of alcohol I had imbibed, however? That was the real problem. To say I feel like hell is an understatement. My mouth feels like it's full of fur. My head is pounding relentlessly. And that weird, rusty squeaking coming from somewhere nearby is NOT helping.
I open my eyes a crack and then slam them shut quickly. Light! Horrible, horrible light! And what the hell is that squeaking?!
In the distance comes the sound of someone puking. Ladies and gentlemen, we have a hangover. Good thing I know a cure.
I focus deep within my self and send a surge of chi through my body, restoring bruised flesh and purging toxins from my system. As I do so, that squeaking noise fades... then returns... then fades again. Well, I'll see what it is in a bit. For now, I've managed to get over the hangover. Some water would patch me up even better, but for now I can get up without wishing I was dead.
I open my eyes. Yep, that's a ceiling. Must be somewhere in the underground. God, what happened last night? I was fighting with Yuugi, alcohol got involved... then blackout. Shaking my head, I sit up...
These are not my clothes.
This is Yuugi's blue Kimono.
Why am I wearing Yuugi's blue kimono?
I look around the room I'm in and see... signs. Many, many signs. Road signs. Shop signs. What appears to be a billboard (how did that get in here?). Just... signs, everywhere. I carefully get to my feet. Okay, this is definitely some sort of hotel room. There's the bed. There's the window. There's the bathroom, with somebody moaning in agony inside it. There's the open door to the hall, and that insufferable squeaking is still going. I walk over to the window.
My eyes widen as I see the city in ruins. Buildings are smashed, exploded, and pulverized. There is a sort of trail of ruin leading all over the city streets. Through buildings too, and piles of rubble that might once have been buildings. In the distance are orangish explosions. And the Oni on the streets are... drinking, apparently unconcerned about the destruction. They're just going about their business, and a few are starting repairs already. Pretty resilient people. I walk away from the window and peek into the bathroom.
The woman dry-heaving into the toilet is familiar; it's the bridgekeeper we saw earlier. Her outfit is not familiar. She appears to be wearing a red bunny-girl uniform, complete with rabbit-ears, except there's a cut-out around her stomach. The blonde woman moans in agony, her voice echoing in the toilet bowl. I back away, leaving her to her misery. What is that infernal squeaking?
I peek out into the hall and see the wheelbarrow. Just an old wheelbarrow, slowly moving forward under its own power. It has two inhabitants. One is a red-haired girl with cat ears, hair half in a braid, the other half loose. Her arms, legs, and two tails are sprawled over the edges of the wheelbarrow, and she's clearly unconscious, Sleeping on top of her is a familiar woman with pink hair, curled up on top of the cat-girl and fast asleep. I watch the wheelbarrow slowly squeak by me and gracefully turn the corner. As I stand there thinking, trying to remember last night, the wheelbarrow comes back around the opposite corner and wheels by me again. I reach out and stop it, and the infernal noise stops. Those sleeping inside of it murmur, but stay asleep.
I recognize the woman with pink hair. I broke into her home last night by sheer accident, I'm pretty sure it's Satori Komeiji, and I really wanna get out of here before I have to explain things to her.
Where the hell are my clothes?
I check the next room down the hall and open the door to see an underwyrm. It's sort of the subterranean version of a wyvern, and it appears to be sleeping on a small horde of empty alcohol bottles. Its sleep is fitful, and I don't want to wake it up. I search my memory, come up with a vague impression of riding an underwyrm while laughing maniacally and then... nothing. I close the door.
The next room down holds a throne made out of bottles somehow fused together. Possibly by raw strength. Sprawled in that throne of glass is Yuugi, dressed in my uniform. A keg is clutched to her like a teddy-bear. I start forward to wake her up, then realize that I in no way want to wake up a potentially hung-over Oni. No, I'm going to go look for the others and let Yuugi wake up on her own. Then I'm going to go back to the mansion and let last night remain a mystery.
Downstairs now, to a large, cavernous common room with a statue of a laughing Oni in it. A statue that, judging from the dirt and cracks around its base, was uprooted from somewhere else and transported here. Recently. There are no doors big enough to accommodate it, nor are there any holes in the wall.
I have goddamned clue how this fucking thing got in here.
Sitting on the base of the statue is Shou, wearing clothing not her own. It looks familiar, though... A yellow shirt, a green skirt, and a black hat with a ribbon on it. Shou is awake, and staring with what looks like horror at her left hand, then at a piece of paper she holds in her right.
I'm about to call out to Shou when a whimper brings my attention to the window next to me. I peek out. There is a huge spiderweb spanning the street, which is empty and blocked off at both ends by debris. Within the spiderweb, hanging upside-down, is Reisen, stuck fast and gagged with webbing. Her eyes are wide with panic, and keep flashing to a familiar individual: Yamame Kurodani. Yamame is in her underwear. Yamame is also happily cuddling Reisen in her sleep. Reisen looks to me in a panic, and I slowly pull my head back in the window.
All the way down the stairs. Look to my left. It appears to be a private bar for the hotel. There are six Oni on the floor, all passed out in a pile. Standing next to that pile is Koakuma, clothing immaculate, hair heavily mussed, looking at the Oni with an expression of pure panic. She sees me and looks up, about to say something...
...When the front door slams open, making Koa, Shou and myself wince. I'm still not 100%. In through the door staggers Iku, looking heavily hung-over. There are heavy bags under her eyes. Her hat and shawl are missing and... does she have a tablecloth wrapped around her waist? Yes she does.
Iku stares at me, and speaks in a voice raspy with alcohol and horror. "Meiling. I can't find my hat, shawl, or dress. I can't find TENSHI. HELP ME."
Shou stands up, showing a small golden band on her left hand and waving a piece of paper. She speaks in a low voice full of shock. "According to this, I am LEGALLY MARRIED to KOISHI KOMEIJI. What the FUCK."
Koakuma races in, looking panicked. "I don't remember last night!" she wails. "There are men in the other room, I was with them, and now I don't remember what happened! I MIGHT HAVE FINALLY HAD SEX, AND I DON'T EVEN REMEMBER IT!!! I WANNA REMEMBER HAVING SEX!!!" Ah. She feels that she might have gotten it on with some Oni men, and wants the memory back. That's our succubus for you.
"Help~!" Reisen wails from outside. She must have worked her gag off. "I'm stuck here, and this spider is getting frisky in her sleep! Spider youkai are really fertile, and I'm a rabbit! I don't wanna be a mother!"
Is that even possible? It might be possible.
"Shut up..." moans a hoarse voice. The bridgekeeper-bunnygirl staggers out and slumps against the railing of the upstairs balcony, unable to say more. Yuugi staggers out behind her, slumps over the railing, then overbalances and falls downstairs. Her fall is punctuated by a massive belch. I think she's fine.
Slowly making her way down the stairs is the woman I have tentatively identified as Satori. Behind her, crawling down the stairs, is the catgirl from earlier, mewing pitifully. The woman looks at us... in general terms. Her all eyes seem to have trouble focusing. All three of them. "...Damn you all to hell," she mutters disconsolately.
There's another explosion from outside.
This morning sucks.
What do I do first?
[ ] Yuugi. Gimme my clothes back. [ ] Hi, Satori, right? Um, sorry about your window... [ ] Help Reisen. [ ] Find out what happened with Koakuma. [ ] Shou, you're WHAT? [ ] Find Iku's clothing. [ ] Wait. Where's Tenshi?
In rough order: [X] Priorities first. Who won the damn fight? [X] Apologize to Satori for trashing her city. [X] Get your group down and lined up in front of you. -[X] Smack each and every one of them and make sure they understand what happens in Former Hell stays in Former Hell. [X] Then, organize the expedition to search for Tenshi.
[X] This kimono is pretty sweet. Try to get one for ourselves before we leave.
I take a deep breath. Okay. Lots of things to do right now. For one thing, I'd really like my normal clothes back. Not that this Kimono isn't nice, mind you; I might have to buy one or two for myself, if only to see Yuuka and Sakuya's reactions. However, given that Yuugi is passed out on the floor, it might be difficult to peel my clothing off of her. Actually, that reminds me: who won our fight?
"THAT'S the first thing on your mind?" Satori snaps, glaring at me with her third eye. The other two, the ones in her head, are being rubbed by her hand. She looks like she had a rough night. "No thanks to you," she mutters, third eye narrowing. It looks bloodshot.
Right! Mind-reader! I forgot!
"What's on your mind?" Iku asks me, curious.
"I was just wondering who won the fight between me and Yuugi," I explain.
"I think it was kind of a draw," Shou tells me absently, staring at her wedding ring in horror. "You two kept fighting and drinking, then switched to just drinking and kind of forgot about the fight. Why am I married?!" She seems to have her mind on other things right now. Understandable, that.
"Oh god, HELP!" Reisen wails from outside, "She's unbuttoning my shirt! I don't wanna be Master's science experiment! Again!" Right. Moon bunny in imminent peril. Kind of important.
"Come on, Reisen needs help," I sigh, and walk for the open door, Satori muttering darkly from where she's slumped on the stair bannister. Shou and Iku follow behind me, while Koakuma dashes off for something or other. A quick hop over the pile of rubble,and there's Reisen, still stuck in Yamame's web, with the amorous spider fumbling with the buttons of Reisen's shirt. I think she's still asleep.
"SOMEBODY DO SOMETHING!" Reisen screams.
"Here ya go," Koakuma says as she lobs a box of condoms up at Reisen. It lands in the web.
We all stare at Koakuma for a minute.
"What?" she says defensively, "It'll prevent pregnancy!"
"...Can she even get pregnant?" Shou wonders out loud, "I mean, they're both girls."
Iku shrugs. "Magic. Youkai are involved. Who knows?"
"LESS DEBATE, MORE HELPING!" Shouts Reisen. I notice that Yamame has startled to fumble with the box. How awake is she, anyway?
I shake my head with a sigh. "Okay. Koakuma, fly up to that open window and grab a large body-pillow, will you? Shou, cut her loose with your spear. Iku, we're going to have to peel Yamame off of Reisen, it looks like."
It turns out to be a pretty delicate operation. Shou has a bit of difficulty moving; Koishi's clothes are quite a bit too small on her, with the shirt being very tight across her chest and the skirt being more of a mini-skirt. Still, she manages to cut Reisen loose of the bonds holding her in the web. Meanwhile, I take Yamame's arms, Iku takes her legs, and at the right moment, we PULL.
Yamame whines in protest as Reisen tumbles to the ground, but Koakuma swiftly presses a large fluffy pillow up to her and Iku and I release our grip. Yamame snags the pillow quickly and happily nuzzles into it. Soon, she's snoring away. Mission accomplished.
On the ground, Reisen is rubbing her head as I settle down next to her. "So, Reisen? What happened?"
The moon bunny sighs. "Well, Tenshi ran off somewhere, I don't know where, and I bumped into Yamame. We had a few drinks and saw you and Yuugi fighting. After a while, the two of you were leaning on each other and talking about getting a private bar or something. Yuugi wound up getting the whole lot of us rooms at this hotel, or maybe renting the whole hotel or something. I dunno, she started pouring booze down our throats pretty fast."
Reisen glances at Shou. "At some point Shou and... Koishi, was it?... they showed up and started talking about marriage. I was pretty far gone at that point. I did hear Koakuma whooping it up at the bar. Dunno what happened there, though." Koakuma sighs in disappointment, and Reisen shakes her head. "As for me and Yamame... like I said, I ran into her and we started talking. I knew Eirin would love her help with some experiments, so we talked about that, then started talking about the city... and then we got dragged here and things get hazy."
Reisen stares up at the slumbering Yamame and pales. "I woke up like that. I have NO idea when that happened. What a fucking night." Too right, that.
Then Satori sticks her head out the window, looking livid. "You," she hisses, pointing at me, "You did this. You and Hoshiguma. You damaged my home. Wrecked my city. Got my poor Rin drunk. God knows what happened to Okuu. You... you..." Satori suddenly turns pale and grabs her stomach, trying very hard not to be sick. She pulls her head back inside and slumps over on the stairs.
In the distance, there is a flash of orange light and an explosion.
[ ] Yuugi, I really need my clothes back. [ ] Sorry about your city, Satori... [ ] What DID happen with Koakuma? [ ] We should probably get Iku's clothes back. [ ] Shou. Back up. You're WHAT? [ ] No, really. Where is Tenshi?
[X] Sorry about your city, Satori... [X] No, really. Where is Tenshi?
We should really apologize. We may have had our fun, but Satori is going to have to deal with the aftermath. We owe her at least that much. We also need to find Tenshi, because she's most likely fucked something up, with how naive/childish/arrogant she can be. She might even have wanted to try out that "getting laid" thing
Clothes can wait, Koakuma will surely be fine if she has to wait a little longer, Satori is a little occupied what with being sick and all(and I don't think she would give two fucks about us being sorry.) Can't do anything about Shou's marriage now so, that leaves Tenshi.
[X] No, really. Where is Tenshi?
I think those explosions are Tenshi's and I'm quite worried what would happen if we left her alone.
[x] Sorry about your city, Satori.. -[x] ...but I have some fires to put off before we get into apologies. Uh, some of them literal. [x] No, really. Where is Tenshi? I wonder what the fuck keeps exploding.
Anyway, we should get the gang together before we go any further. Iku's clothes may be important to her, but they aren't THAT important. Same with Shou's clothes... and she can't get any more married. Besides, Koakuma is better off not knowing: If she did get laid, then she'll feel bad because she can't remember it. If she didn't, then she'll feel bad because she couldn't get laid during a party where the entire city was filled with hot-blooded drunk males.
I slowly turn my head to look at Satori, suffering on the hotel steps, I sigh. I really owe her an apology, don't I? And avoiding her isn't going to accomplish a single good thing. I gesture to the others to wait for a moment, and make my way over the rubble, and back inside the hotel. They follow behind me.
Yuugi is still on the floor, staring at the ceiling with bleary eyes. The bridgekeeper (what is her name, anyway?) has made her way to the ground floor and is slumped heavily against the statue. Satori is sitting on the bottom step, with the cat-girl's head in her lap. She looks up at me as I walk in, eyes smouldering with wrath.
She seems upset.
"You have no idea," Satori growls.
I carefully walk up to the mind-reader, thinking over what I'm going to say. I should probably apologize for helping to wreck the city to start with-
"FUCK. The city," Satori snaps. The cat-girl's eyes snap open at this, and she looks up at Satori in shock. Yuugi raises her head from the ground, looking equally surprised. "You know what they would call this in any other city in the world?" Satori stands up, and despite behind such a petite woman, she still manages to feel like she's towering over me. "The would call this a calamity. A disaster of unprecedented proportions. Do you know what the Oni call this? Tuesday."
"It was a Wednesday evening," Yuugi corrects.
"Silence, Hoshiguma," Satori snaps, not taking her eyes off of me.
"Here's what makes me upset," Satori continues, jabbing her finger into my chest. "First, you violated my privacy, something even the Oni know not to do without properly announcing themselves." Jab. "Second, you broke an expensive window." Jab. "Third! You cracked my wall." Jab. "Fourth! You ran off without proper explanation or apology, just like a common hoodlum!" Jab. "Fifth! When I came looking for you, not only were you hideously inebriated, you dragged me into it as well!" Jab. "Sixth! One of your number ran off with Okuu, and I don't know where she is, and given the circumstances, that terrifies me! Seventh, you made both me and my poor Rin drink ourselves to oblivion and NOW look at us! How dare you make my Rin suffer!"
"Master Satori," the cat-girl moans, trying to cover both sets of ears at once, "Too loud..."
Satori takes a deep breath and settles down. "I'm sorry, Rin," she says, before turning her burning gaze back upon me. "Well? What do you have to say for yourself?"
I slump before the rapid-fire accusations. They're probably all true, even if I can't remember all of it. "I'm sorry," I say quietly, meaning it. Satori blinks, and I continue. "I guess I got really drunk, huh? And there's this witch who always- well USED to always- break into the mansion where I live and cause a mess. I should know better. But I was drinking, and got carried away, and... well..." I sigh and bow deeply before the angry woman. "I apologize. I will of course do everything in my power to assist with the repairs." For a long moment, Satori is silent. A very long moment. Hesitantly, I glance up at her to see... her staring back at me in disbelief.
"...You're seriously apologizing," Satori says.
"And you truly mean it." It's not a question.
"Well, yes," I say, straightening back up.
Satori reels for a moment before recovering. "Oh. Well, apology accepted, then. Sorry, I... don't get a lot of apologies for damage caused down here. By either residents or visitors." Given that the residents are Oni and the visitors are likely Reimu and Marisa, this doesn't really surprise me. "Anyway, you're forgiven. The Oni will have the city repaired in no time, and I can have my home repaired quite easily. Rin and I will be fine, and no I don't want you to use your powers to help us. The hang-over will be a good reminder not to let it happen again." Satori takes a deep breath and smiles gently, suddenly seeming much warmer. "So... let's let bygones be bygones, hm? Though I do wonder where Okuu has gotten to."
An explosion in the distance causes the walls to shake. Satori pales a little bit.
I slowly turn to the others. "...Where's Tenshi?"
Iku turns a bland stare on me. "Tenshi is missing. There are explosions nearby. You truly need to ask?"
"Okuu is also missing," Satori says faintly.
[ ] Okay, Yuugi? Clothes please. [ ] Well, the Oni are right there... what happened with Koa? [ ] No, no, why is Shou married all of a sudden? [ ] Iku. Seriously. You need your clothes back. [ ] Tenshi is missing. Find her. Now.
I mull it over a little bit. Tenshi is missing. Explosions.
Could there be a connection?
"I think we need to find Tenshi," I tell the others, "Right NOW." There is no dispute. Iku is already walking for the door. Well, staggering for the door anyway.
"I'll come with you," Satori begins, and takes a step forward before her face turns very green. "Or maybe I'll just stay here," she murmurs, sitting back down heavily. Rin puts her head back in Satori's lap. Poor girl. When you're that petite, alcohol must really do a number on your body, huh? "Just please save my city from whatever's happening," Satori sighs in response to my thoughts.
A few moments later, the five of us are gathered in front of the hotel while the Oni slowly reconstruct their home around us. Gotta hand it to them, for a race of drunkards they're surprisingly industrious.
"So," I say to the others, "I strongly suspect that Tenshi is connected, in some way, to those explosions we've been hearing." As if to punctuate my statement, there's an orange flash of light and an accompanying explosion. "Like so."
"Tenshi is unescorted," Iku notes, "Explosions are certain to follow."
"Is she that bad?" asks Reisen.
"You have no idea," Iku groans.
"B-but what about me?!" Koakuma complains, "If I got laid last night, I WANT MY MEMORIES BACK, DAMMIT!"
"I. Am. Married." Shou emphasizes. "I don't know how that happened. I would very much like to be enlightened on that subject, and to get an annulment."
"I understand completely," I say reasonably. "Iku and I are in the wrong clothes. But let me repeat things, just to be perfectly clear. Tenshi is missing. There are explosions occurring. We are in an UNDERGROUND CAVERN. Does this not worry you?"
Koakuma and Shou look at each other.
"...They aren't going anywhere," Koa admits.
"I guess I can get an annulment a little later," Shou agrees.
"Good." I nod in satisfaction. "Then let's find Tenshi. It shouldn't be too hard." There is a particularly large explosion. I'm pretty sure I see some dirt fall from the distant ceiling. "...Let's find Tenshi FAST."
We must make such a strange crew. Me in my borrowed blue Kimono. Shou in her ill-fitting clothing. Iku with her tablecloth. Reisen, looking rumpled after a night with Yamame. Koa is the most together-looking one of us, and her hair is sticking out every which way. Throw in the generally bleary, run-down expressions we wear, and in any other town we'd be hauled off to the drunk tank in a heartbeat. In the underground city? That's the typical morning fashion.
In any case, by following the explosions of orange light it doesn't take us long to find Tenshi. Or her new friend.
"Here it comes, Tenko~!"
"Send it my way, Okuu!"
Tenshi looks fine. She doesn't have so much as a speck of dust on her, and her glowing sword is out and held in her hands like... a baseball bat?
Her friend is tall, with long black hair and huge black wings. The red eye in the center of her chest and the long engraved rod let me put a name to the woman: Utsuho Reiuji, the hell raven. There have been a couple of articles in the Bunbunmaru (when it was still running). But... she's called Okuu? A nickname?
Tenshi is laughing happily. "One more! C'mon Okuu! Gimme a HARD one!"
Utsuho (Okuu?) laughs happily, an expression of delight upon her face. "Okaaaay, Tenko! Here it comes!" The hell raven points her long rod at Tenshi, and with a flare of orange energy fires a massive fireball at the celestial. Iku gasps in shock.
An Oni holding a massive side of beef holds it out on a metal rod. As the fireball goes past, it flash-fries the meat, making an instant chunk of steak. The fireball continues on, reaching Tenshi, illuminating her in its glow-
-and Tenshi hits it with her sword, knocking it away like a baseball. The ball of energy impacts into the wall of the cavern with a massive explosion, to the polite applause of several Oni spectators. The Oni who had used Okuu's magic to cook some meat places it on a rack alongside several similar specimens and grabs a new one. From the looks of things, he's been at it for a while.
"Okay, now let's do it in the air!" Tenshi shouts.
"You got it, Tenko!" Okuu cheers.
I stare. "What is happening."
Shou considers the situation. "Well. It looks like Tenshi and 'Okuu' over there are playing two-person baseball with nuclear energy and an ancient sword of unsurpassed power. And cooking some meat in the process." I groan. It's like using Flandre's power for demolition work. Iku facepalms. Koakuma laughs nervously.
Reisen shrugs. "Pretty much par for the course around here, really."
I think about Sakuya, and her use of the awesome power of time manipulation... to do chores. "Gensokyo really gets me down sometimes," I sigh.
"Heeeeey, guuuuuuuuys!" I look up to see Tenshi flying toward us, huge smile spread across her face, and an equally-smiling Okuu right behind her. As the two set down in front of us, Tenshi immediately starts to babble excitedly. "Ohmygod you guys, this place ROCKS! I mean, I'm running around, and there's just so much to SEE! Anyway, I ask who the strongest person here is, and they point me to Okuu here, and we just start talking!"
"Tenko's from the sky!" Okuu chirps excitedly. "And, and she can cause earthquakes, and has a neato sword, and can fly on rocks, and she's just so cool!"
"She calls me Tenko," Tenshi confides. "Anyway! We really hit it off, and Okuu here showed me all over the city, and all the cool things to see, and eat, and we had all kinds of fun! Hey, did you know? She has a freaking SUN-GOD in her chest! Isn't that wild?!"
"I ate her a while back," Okuu giggles. "She was yummy! Oh, but I don't eat living people! Just corpses of bad people! And this dead god, too! So, it's okay, right?" Okuu suddenly looks endearingly hopeful.
"Aw, don't worry, Okuu! They aren't gonna give you a hard time over something like that! They're all really nice people! Anyway, where was I? Oh, right! Okuu showed me around, and we were doing all kinds of stuff, all night long!"
"Eld-, I mean Tenshi? What were you doing just now?" Iku ask quietly.
"Huh? Oh, we were just smacking some balls around," Tenshi shrugs, "Okuu sends 'em my way, and I smack 'em into the wall!"
"Some Oni are using my power to cook food," Okuu adds, "I'm really happy I can help people out!" The hell-raven looks absolutely delighted.
"You're smacking around plasma balls with a magical sword." Reisen points out.
"Eh, I tried pitching keystones at Okuu her her to knock away, but it didn't work out as well. This is a lot more fun!"
"Aren't you worried about the cavern collapsing?" Koakuma wonders.
"Aw, don't worry!" Okuu chuckles, "It's a city of Oni! The walls are reinforced, just so the really big parties don't knock them down!" I shudder to imagine what a 'really big party' looks like down here.
"So, what did you guys do last night?" Tenshi asks us.
"I woke up in a spider web. Being cuddled by a spider," Reisen says.
"I can't find my clothes," Iku mutters.
"I'm married. For some bizarre reason," sighs Shou.
"Total blackout," groans Koakuma.
I just point at my borrowed kimono. "Hangover-ville. Population: us."
Tenshi 'tsks' and shakes her head in disappointment. "Oh, you guys. Set you loose in a city full of alcohol, and what do you do? You run wild! And just look at what happens." She thumps her chest proudly. "You need to be more responsible. Like me!"
It takes us a few minutes to keep Iku from trying to throttle Tenshi. The celestial and her new hell raven friend just stare at the oarfish in confusion.
Well. We found Tenshi. Now what?
[ ] I want my clothes back from Yuugi. [ ] Well, Koakuma's pretty eager to know what happened. [ ] Where are Iku's clothes, exactly? [ ] Shou? Why ARE you married?
"Geez, Iku," Tenshi shakes her head. "I can't believe you're like this when you're hung-over. You really need more discipline. Like me!"
"I'll give you discipline you little termagant! After all of the messes I've had to clean up, you have the nerve to call yourself RESPONSIBLE?!" Iku's been livid ever since Tenshi made that remark.
The celestial just rolls her eyes. "You're one to talk, Miss Tablecloth." Tenshi points at Iku's makeshift dress.
"...AAAAARRRGGGHH!" It would seem that Iku is not having a very relaxing vacation. As I watch the spectacle I continue eat my breakfast: a freshly-roasted hunk of meat (courtesy of Okuu and Tenshi) with a number of spices rubbed into it. Credit where credit's due: the Oni know how to cook.
I'm also drinking water. I'm done with alcohol for a little while.
"Unyuu... they keep going on like that," Okuu notes, looking concerned.
Shou shrugs, tearing off a chunk from her own bit of spiced meat. "Eh, Iku's job is to look after Tenshi whenever she comes down from heaven. There's bound to be some frustration there."
"Oh, so she's like Master Satori is to me!" Okuu perks up.
"Sort of," Reisen shrugs. "At the very least, she's always cleaning up Tenshi's messes."
"Unyuu... just like Master Satori is to me." Okuu suddenly looks a little depressed. I chuckle and ruffle her hair, causing the raven to squeak and rub up against my hand cutely. Once again, massively powerful Youkai and extreme cuteness combine seamlessly.
While I continue to pet Okuu, I turn to look at Shou. "So, anyway, what's this about you getting married?" Shou chokes on her meat.
"Ah, you got married?!" Okuu looks overjoyed. "Congratulations, Miss Shou!"
"Um, well..." Shou fishes out that sheet of paper again and glances over it.
"By the way, your clothes look really familiar..." Okuu glances curiously at Shou's borrowed outfit.
"Um, well..." Shou scratches her head in confusion. "From what little I can remember, I think I switched clothes with my new bride during our wedding ceremony."
"...What the hell kind of wedding ceremony is that?" Reisen wonders out loud.
"An AWESOME one!" the Oni chef hollers over.
"Well, there are certain similar rituals in some parts of Makai," Koakuma muses.
"...You married Master Koishi?" Okuu is still staring at Shou
"...I guess?" The tiger herself is still staring at the marriage certificate.
Okuu stares at Shou. Over at Tenshi and Iku, still arguing. Back at Shou. "...Who's the bride? Both of you? And... and who'll have the kids? Does this mean I'm an Aunt?" The hell-raven looks absolutely baffled.
Shou just sighs deeply. "I don't know. It's all sunk beneath an alcoholic haze."
Okuu looks uncomfortable. "Umm... Miss Toramaru? I hate to say this on your day of happiness, but it doesn't sound like you have a very good foundation for a lasting relationship. Even down here." She pales a little bit. "Unyuu... Master Satori isn't gonna be very happy about this."
I wince. Right. The last thing Satori needs is to recover from her hangover to discover that her sister wound up marrying a woman from the surface. "We should probably look into this, huh?" I ask.
Shou stand up abruptly. "Yes. Yes we should." She glances at the marriage certificate. "Apparently we got married at... Big Papa's House of Looooooove?" Shou looks up at me. "There's even seven 'o's in the name, all clearly spelled out." I take the paper at look at the name. Yep. Big Papa's House of Looooooove... and Tacos. Apparently they specialize in tacos and weddings.
Why are there even tacos in the underground? This is about as far from Mexico as you can possibly get.
"Oh, I know that place!" Okuu speaks up, "I eat there sometimes. The food's really good! I can take you there if you need."
Shou nods firmly. "Yes, please do. I need to know what I was thinking last night. If anything." She turns to the bickering celestial and oarfish. "Hey you two! Hurry up and get over here! We're gonna find out why... and how... I got married!" Iku and Tenshi eventually follow along, Iku still seething, and Tenshi still glorying in her moral superiority.
Big Papa's House of Looooooove and Tacos is a big, ostentatious place that somehow manages to be even bigger-looking and more ostentatious on the inside. Maybe it has something to do with the porcelain heart decorations all over the place. The carvings of an Oni with a huge grin. Or the enormous oaken counter with all the fixings for tacos behind it. Certainly the solid gold chapel holding a place of pride at the back of the main room was less than subtle.
Though right at the moment, our attention was taken up by the figure sprawled out on the floor, wearing tiger-striped clothing that was much too big for her.
"Master Koishi!" Okuu gasps, rushing over in concern. Said object of concern groaned in misery and muttered something about Okuu keeping her voice down.
The rest of us walked over and looked down at Koishi Komeiji, currently wearing Shou's clothing, and clearly in the grips of a truly massive hangover. Koishi glances up at Shou wearily. "Hello apparent love of my life."
Shou nods back. "Hello blushing bride. How are you this morning?"
"Firstly, my life is misery right now. Secondly?" Koishi works some saliva back into her dry mouth. "We agreed that I could be the husband. You're the bride."
Tenshi bursts into laughter at this, causing the rest of us to wince. Shou lowers her face into her hands. "Fanfuckingtastic. How did this happen?"
"Well," Koishi sighs, "I saw you fighting a bunch of Oni and decided to follow along since it looked fun. Eventually you won, and I handed you a celebratory drink. I'd made some money off of betting on you, y'see. Sometimes without people knowing they'd made the bet, but I digress." She smacks her dry lips. "...Can someone please get me some water?"
Okuu rushes off to fulfill this request and Koishi plows on. "So, you seemed like a bit of fun. So we drank a little, hooked up with your friends here... by the way, hi Meiling... and drank a lot more. And you know, you were a lot of fun." Koishi takes a moment to take the water Okuu offers her. "So I suggested that we get married."
"What." Shou's face indicates that she is attempting to process this and failing utterly. "But how... why... where do you make that jump, exactly?"
"Koishi's a creature of impulses," I explain, "When she gets an idea, she needs to follow it to its conclusion, or until she gets bored of it."
"Apparently that mixes badly with alcohol," Koishi notes. "Who woulda guessed?"
Shou stares at her 'husband.' "So... you were drunk, got the idea to get married, and I was drunk enough to go along with it?"
"And we came here to get it done?"
Koishi raises a hand. "Hey, this place serves great tacos, and I knew you could get weddings done here. So, we had some tacos and then got married."
"Why the clothing swap?" Asks Koakuma.
"Just something to do," Koishi shrugs, "It was an idea and I was really drunk." She looks at myself and Iku significantly. Yeah, the two of us are really in no position to criticize something like that.
Shou shakes her head wearily. "Okay, great. Now, no offense, but I really don't want to stay married to someone I married on a drunken whim."
"DID SOMEONE CALL FOR AN ANNULMENT?!" A bombastic voice roars. We all whirl in place to see... a huge Oni dressed in a perfectly white suit and top hat, complete with monocle, and a huge grin seemingly engraved on his face. The chef's apron over his suit and chef's hat perched on top of the top hat complete the bizarre ensemble.
"Big Papa?" I hazard a guess.
"The one and only!" The Oni declares. "Big Papa's House of Looooooove and Tacos offers a 48-hour grace period on all marriages, allowing the parties involves to back out of it at any time up to that deadline." He leans in conspiratorially. "We get a lot of drunk couples who regret it the morning following," he confides.
"No kidding," Sou grunts. "One annulment, please."
"Same," Koishi puts in. "Tiger-lady's a little too rough for my tastes."
This takes a moment to sink in.
"Sorry, what?" I look at Koishi in confusion.
"Well, after the marriage, we went up to the honeymoon suite and messed around a little bit. Shou's pretty rough, you know? Wore me right out. After a while, she went after you guys and I staggered downstairs and collapsed here." Koishi shifts uncomfortably. "Talk about demanding. I think I have some bruises..."
Shou stares at Koishi in absolute horror, and I turn to the smiling Big Papa. "One annulled marriage, please. And two orders of tacos."
"Three," Reisen puts in.
"Coming riiiiiight up!" the big Oni declares.
Sometime later, I'm munching down on my tacos while Shou and Koishi walk back from getting their regular clothes back. Further interrogation revealed that 'messing around' didn't go any further than 'fully clothed make-outs,' leading to further questions from Koakuma about just how aggressive Shou was. This lead the tiger to drag Koishi off to get changed, not really helping her case any.
Koishi slumps heavily down into a chair. "I think I'll just stay here for a little while," she says. "Just sit here, watch the day go by, and feel wretched. That seems like a good idea." Poor Koishi. She looks ready to keel over at any minute. Well, I should finish getting my crew cleaned up.
[ ] Back to Yuugi, I want my clothes back. [ ] Back to the hotel, Koa really wants to know what happened. [ ] Help Iku find her clothes.
>>56628 I can see Koa and all those men getting into a room together, she's so damn excited because she hasn't had a proper orgy since leaving Makai (or wherever the hell she's from), and she so turned on that the moment they touch her she accidentally drains their energy, they pass out, and she passes out from sadness and being drunk. But not before trying to get it on with their unconscious bodies.
I give Koishi a sympathetic look. "Feeling pretty sick, huh?"
The satori looks back at me wearily. "What gave it away? General weariness, or the fact that I look ready to puke at any minute?"
"Yes to both. Looks like you and your sister have one thing in common. You don't handle liquor very well." I smile. "Anyway, if you like I have a technique that can help out. It'll purge the toxins from your system. It won't let you feel completely better, but at least you won't feel like death would be a step up."
"You never offered that to us," Reisen notes.
"You guys looked fine," I tell her. "Relatively. I was the one trying to outdrink an Oni."
"Point," Reisen concedes.
I turn back to Koishi. "Anyway, your sister turned down the treatment so that it would serve as an object lesson-"
"Screw lessons, I want the hangover cure NOW," Koishi insists, leaning forward sharply. Then her eyes cross. "Urp. Shouldn't have done that. Cure please. Before I barf." Koishi's face is starting to match her green eyes. I quickly lean forward and put my hands on Koishi's forehead and chest, sending a pulse of cleansing energy through her. The result is dramatic. Koishi's face regains a healthy color, her breathing becomes clearer, and most importantly of all, she is no longer tensing like she's trying to hold back vomit.
"There," I tell her, "Just get some water in your stomach to re-hydrate, and you should be fine."
Koishi sighs in relief. "Meiling, you are a gorgeous woman with a sweet heart, and I would happily father your children after the necessary treatments from Eientei."
"Just as well," Koishi agrees, "I don't think a penis would fit me. Anyway. I feel better and I'm in the house of looooooove and tacos, and I've had way more than enough looooooove. Seriously, Shou must be scary when she's in heat." Shou just groans at this while Koakuma chuckles. "So, I'm gonna go get some tacos. Later." This said, Koishi goes off to the counter to place her order with the always-jovial Big Papa.
"Well, that's done," says Koa, who turns to me with a pleading look. "Now can we PLEASE find out whether I finally got lucky last night? So I know whether or not to alchemically dig my memories back up? I wanna know dammit-"
"ARRRRGGHHH!!!" The rest of us jump in our seats as Iku lets loose with a scream of frustration. "Dammit, Tenshi, you DROPPED A ROCK on the Hakurei shrine to say hello, and you're criticizing MY restraint?"
Tenshi shrugs. "That's how they say 'hi' around here. I maintain that I did nothing wrong. But you don't see me getting drunk and losing my clothes, now do you? You're so lewd, Iku!" Tenshi waves her finger in Iku's face in a scolding gesture.
It's almost more than the heavenly messenger can stand. "You were knocking nuclear fusion orbs into the wall of an underground cavern."
Tenshi shrugs. "That's normal. You were the one getting drunk. For shame!"
"I... but... rrrggghh..." Quickly Iku spins and storms away from Tenshi, who shrugs and goes to order some tacos. Worried, I walk up to the trembling Iku.
"Iku? Are you alright?" I ask.
The oarfish turns to me with tears of frustration in her eyes. "I can't take it," she moans, "I have to watch over that brat all the time... she keeps breaking things and I have to clean up after her... now she says she's more responsible too?!" Iku whimpers pitifully. "I'm hungover, I'm missing my clothes, and Tenshi is really driving me up the wall! I just wanted a vacation..."
Gently, I take Iku into a gentle hug and rub her back. "Shhh... there, there. I'm sure her parents appreciate your hard work."
"Lazy bastards don't even know how to raise her," Iku grunts, "Never did. Always dumped it all on me. She was fine when she was little, cute even. Then she got rebellious." Iku hugs me tightly. "Now she's like this. All. The. Time. I'm running out of strength."
"At least there's one upside," I tell her.
"What's that?" Iku mumbles, burying her face in my bare shoulder.
"Tenshi made a friend down here, where the inhabitants can actually deal with the damage she causes. If she comes down here more often, doesn't that make your life easier?"
"Sure, I don't mind!" Okuu happily pipes up, "Tenko's cool, and likes to play with me! And the Oni don't mind us one bit! I'd be happy to have her over whenever she wants!"
Iku goes very still. "Tenshi could come down here? Where she couldn't do any real damage? And I wouldn't have to worry about her?"
"Pretty much," I say.
Iku looks up, suddenly much more composed. "That sounds absolutely heavenly. Whole days without needing to watch over Tenshi..." A dreamy smile comes over Iku's face and she practically sags with relief at the thought. I suspect that Tenshi is much harder to look after in many ways than Flandre. Scary thought, that. Iku glances over at Okuu. "So it's okay if I dump her down here from time to time?"
"Unyuu... 'dump?' Well, it's okay if she comes to visit, but what do you mean by-"
"THANK YOU SO MUCH!" Iku rushes over and seizes Okuu in a tight hug. "I assure you, I'll encourage Tenshi to come visit you as much as she can!" Poor Okuu looks baffled by Iku's behavior, but delighted at both the hug and the promise of a new friend coming to visit her. She finally decides to just go along with it and happily returns Iku's hug.
"Well, good for you, Iku," Shou comments, "But you're still missing some essentials." Iku freezes, suddenly remembering her lack of important articles of clothing. Carefully, she steps back from Okuu and looks over at me.
"Er, Meiling? I would sort of like to get those clothes back. I like that hat, and it's my favorite shawl..."
"Yeah, but where did you leave them?" Reisen asks.
"Er..." Iku blanks, the memories lost beneath an alcoholic haze. Then Koishi steps up, carrying a plate of tacos.
"I know where she went. I saw her while I was walking around with Shou. Shou probably doesn't remember, 'cause she was drunk out of her mind."
"Really?" Iku looks hopeful. "Do you think I can find my clothes there?"
"From what I saw? Yes." Koishi smiles innocently. "As I recall, you were dancing on a table at the Crazy Wombat with a drink in each hand."
Iku stares in horror.
What can I say about the Crazy Wombat? It's a bar in an Oni city. Granted, a slightly more upscale bar. Not the place frequented by your average, tiger-striped, club-dragging Oni. Rather, the kind of bar whose patrons are more civilized Oni, who carry their clubs slung over one shoulder, and who wear fine clothing. Perhaps they talk about the news of the day before getting into their bar fights.
So yeah. In the underground city, a bar named the Crazy Wombat is one of the more upscale establishments. Go figure.
Anyway, the Crazy Wombat was half-missing, and several Oni were hard at work repairing it. As we walk up, an Oni dressed in a snappy suit sees us coming, and gets a huge smile on his face. "Hey! It's Madame Exotique!" he says happily, pointing at Iku.
Iku freezes, going pale. Tenshi bursts into laughter. "Madame Exotique?! Oh man, where did THAT come from?!"
The apparent proprietor pauses in his work to come talk to us. "Blackout?" he asks Iku. She nods. "Yeah, that'll happen when you're not used to our liquor. Or even when you are used to it, really. Anyway, you come in last night, looking real tired, and ask for something that'll loosen you up. So I start feeding you booze. That's what happens in a bar, right? And you start talking about your troubles, and how there's this crazy idiot that you have to look after all the damn time, and you wish she'd just knock herself out for a week so you didn't have to deal with her."
Tenshi freezes, and Iku looks awkward.
"So, you keep drinkin' and decide that you need to unwind a little. And THAT'S when you hop up on a table and start dancing. It was great!" The Oni booms with laughter as Iku turns beet red. "I mean, there you are, hopping from table to table, dancing and hollering along with the music, and some joker yells at you to take it off. So you toss your hat on his head. Golden!" He laughs again as Iku tries to hide her face.
"Oh, man! You start calling yourself Madame Exotique and start dancing all over the place! The floor, tables, the bar, railings, even the ceiling! And you toss off that shawl of yours, and you're sliding off you skirt, saying that it's too hot..."
Iku gapes in horror.
"...When Yuugi tears through the bar with some other girl in the middle of a fight, levels the place, and knocks most of us unconscious. Literally knocked your skirt off, but I guess it was half-off already!" The Oni laughs again, and I share an awkward look with Iku. "Anyway, when I woke up this morning, you were gone. Found your clothes, though. You want 'em back?"
"Yes, please." Iku mumbles.
"Who's a crazy idiot?!" Tenshi shouts angrily. Iku ignores her.
"Hey..." one of the Oni workers says slyly. "I heard that if you manage to snag a heaven-girl's shawl, she has to marry you! Is that-"
"That is a complete falsehood," Iku says flatly.
"Aw..." the worker sighs, deflating.
"I am not a crazy idiot! Are you talking about me?!" Tenshi has started pouting.
Regardless, the proprietor brings out a box with Iku's clothing and she immediately disappears to a back room to get changed. Tenshi is still pouting, muttering about not being a crazy idiot while Okuu tries to calm her down.
Koakuma taps me on the arm. Can we please go back to the hotel now?" she pleads, "I really need to know what happened."
I raise an eyebrow. "Didn't you say you can just get your memories back with a potion?"
"It takes days to brew, and I want my memories back now!" Koa whines, practically bouncing on her heels. Well, we do need to get back to the hotel. Although, I'd kinda like to get my clothes back and settle things with Yuugi.
[ ] Yuugi first. I want my uniform back. I just realized how much this thing keeps slipping. [ ] Humor Koakuma. It's important to her.
[x] Humor Koakuma. It's important to her. Koa's been patient enough to follow us around basically half the city from the sound it when her problem could have been resolved (possibly) at the starting point.
Upon telling Koa that we'll look into what happened with her last night, the girl practically drags me down the street back to the hotel. Koishi remains behind with her plate of tacos, but Okuu follows along with the rest of us, sharing in Tenshi's own tacos. As I open the door to the hotel, I see Yuugi up and about in my clothing, having a conversation with the anonymous bridgekeeper. Okuu practically launches herself at the table where Satori and Rin are sitting, giving her mistress a massive hug and beckoning Tenshi over to make introductions.
As for me, Koakuma drags me over to the private bar nearly hard enough to tug my arm out if its socket. Within, a half-dozen Oni still snooze upon the floor. Koa looks at me expectantly. Right. Time to settle this then.
With a surge a chi, I stomp on the floor hard enough to shake it and bellow out "ALL RIGHT! GET UP, ALL OF YOU!" I ignore the pained protests from behind me.
Speaking of pained protests, the Oni are quickly brought to a state of consciousness and wearily stagger to their feet.
"Ugh," says one. "How rude. Interrupting a late-morning nap."
"Tell me about it," says another, "People these days have no manners."
"Maybe they're looking for a fight?" suggests a third, "That's a good way to wake up in the morning." There is a rumble of assent.
"Booze is better," another one says, "That and a big plate of food." There's a louder rumble of assent at this.
"Oh! Oh! Even better! Food and drink WHILE fighting!" The Oni start to loudly cheer at this, apparently having forgotten that they'd been woken up in the first place.
I clear my throat. "Hey. Guys?" The Oni glance over at me and blink.
"Oh. Oh!" One of them says, slapping his forehead. "Oh wow, sorry about that! We weren't trying to ignore you or anything! It's just, you know, mornings around here are pretty confused things, right? What with the hangovers..."
"... The early morning drinking..." adds another.
"And breakfast and the morning fights and all," a third puts in. "Point is, we're not up on our game this early. So, you fought Yuugi, right? Up for a fight?" The Oni collectively look hopeful at this. I'm actually sort of flattered.
"Maybe later," I tell them. "First, do you remember her?" I gesture to Koakuma, and the Oni immediately perk up.
"Remember her? Hell yes, we remember Pretty Red!" one Oni laughs. Koakuma perks right up. "Oh wow! The things we did last night! You wouldn't believe it!" Now Koakuma looks positively ecstatic.
"Do tell." I have got to hear this.
"Well," an Oni clears his throat. "There we were, see? Just sitting around having a few drinks when Red here comes up all smiles and sweetness. It was a nice change from the Oni girls, you know? They're all aggressive and stuff, which is nice, but Red here is all classy and stuff. Cute, too. So, she says she's looking for some guys to show her a good time, and she's obviously had a few drinks, so we do what any Oni would do in that situation!"
"And that is?" I prod.
"We took 'er to the museum!" the Oni says proudly.
Koakuma chokes a little bit.
"I mean, here we have a nice little visitor, probably from Makai, of course we have to show her a good time! So we go to the museums and drink there, then we take in a performance and drink there, and see some museums and drink there, and Red here was having a great time!"
"We pride ourselves on being cultured Oni," another of their group puts in.
"Exactly! Heh, and Red here was being all affectionate and stuff. Just like a kitten!" He winks at Koakuma, who is staring back with a dead expression. "I mean, she was crawling all over us. It was kinda cute!"
Another of their number laughs. "Oh man. Remember when she tried to pull us into a dance hall? We had to stop her from pulling her clothes off!"
"Remember that one guy who was giving her a creepy look? We had to run him right off!"
"Too right! I mean, what kind of dick do you have to be to take advantage of a drunk girl? For shame!"
"Anyway, I dunno how much she remembers after that much booze, but we showed her all over town. I'm sure some of it stuck in her head." The Oni look rather pleased with themselves.
Koakuma is chuckling with disbelief. I look at the bunch of them appraisingly. "Oni gentlemen. Who would have guessed?"
The Oni puff their chests out with pride. "We take great pleasure in debunking the myth that Oni are just a bunch of drunken, fighting goons!" Says one. "I mean, we love our alcohol. Who doesn't? And a good fight just completes your day! But it doesn't mean we have to be brutes or anything!"
"We are educated Oni," another nods. "We work hard, we play hard, and we try to set an example for the Oni people." The group nods at each other, quite pleased with themselves.
"... So how'd I get here?" Koakuma asks dully.
"Oh, well," one of the Oni gentlemen clears his throat. "You were mentioning how you'd like us all to take you back to your room. So, we tracked down your friends, and you were nice enough to invite us to stay! And, well, we had a proper Oni party. At some point you passed out, so we put you to sleep in the corner and kept going. Until we passed out."
"But don't worry!" says another, "We made sure to pour some water down your throat to dull the hangover and made sure you were nice an comfortable. It was only the decent thing to do." The Oni gentlemen nod again.
Koakuma chuckles, an empty, hollow sound. "Amazing. When I came down here, I figured I was going to corrupt Tenshi and wake up surrounded by men. I wake up alone with a pile of men off to one side, and Tenshi did just fine. And the worst part? THERE. WAS. NO. SEX." Koakuma's eyes are starting to twitch wildly.
One of the Oni looks a little concerned. "Is there a problem?" He cringes at Koakuma's sudden glare.
"Don't mind her," I assure him, clapping a gentle but restraining hand on Koakuma's shoulder. "It's just been a while since she's been in a relationship."
The Oni look astounded. "Seriously?! Such a pretty, educated young lady?" He shakes his head in dismay. "Curse the denseness of the men up above."
"And that of those below," Koa mutters.
"Well, chin up!" The Oni in front smiles warmly. "If you haven't found someone, it just means that you haven't find the right person YET. And then one day that special person will come into your life, and everything will be just right. And she'll punch you in the face and take you home. That's how I met my wife. So chin up!" He gives Koakuma an enthusiastic grin and a thumbs-up.
Koa actually looks a little touched by this speech. And possibly a little thoughtful. I may have to have a word with her later.
In any case, the Oni gentleman six-pack makes its way out to the streets, leaving me with one final task: getting my damn uniform back from Yuugi.
Because there's been some debate over it:
[ ] Get your uniform back. [ ] Can I keep this kimono?
I walk up to Yuugi and she gives me a broad smile. "Hey Mei. Sounds like you've been busy this morning."
"It sounds like we've been busy since we got here," I note. "Honestly? Things go black some time last night when we were fighting. Turns out that we all got up to some serious shenanigans."
Yuugi bursts out into laughter. "That's puttin' it mildly! Nothing wrong with that, though. It's good to cut loose from time to time, right? And by the way? You're one hell of a fighter. I'm up for a rematch any time!"
I grin. "Too bad it ended in a draw, huh? We'll have to leave the booze out next time."
"Aw, but then it won't be a proper Oni fight!" Yuugi protests. "C'mon, you fight so good while smashed out of your wits! Little suspicious, really. You get instruction or something?"
I shrug innocently. "I'm highly trained in martial arts. Drunken boxing is a martial art."
Yuugi snorts. "You could totally teach that down here and have an entire city full of disciples."
"Tempting, but I like my current job way too much."
"Ah, that figures," Yuugi shrugs. "Incidentally, do you remember meeting Parsee here?" At this, the blonde woman looks up and glares at me. Parsee, no doubt.
"Well, we encountered her while we were coming down-" I begin.
"No," Parsee says flatly. "Not that. I was minding my business, minding my bridge, doing my JOB, when you two drunken lunatics stagger up and tell me to come down to a party. I told you no, I was doing my job. So Yuugi THROWS ME OVER HER SHOULDER, and I get physically lugged down here."
"You needed to get out more," Yuugi shrugs.
"Up yours, Hoshiguma," Parsee replies. "So what happens when I get down here? Oni booze gets poured down my throat, not just any booze, but ONI booze. Then SOMEONE forces me into this ridiculous outfit. Do you know who?" Parsee gestures to her abbreviated bunny-girl outfit.
"...Yuugi?" I guess.
"No! It was YOU, you damn weirdo! Hauling off my clothes and forcing me into this! Saying 'just like Flan,' whatever flan has to do with anything!" Oops. Looks like Flandre rubbed off on me this time.
"Relax, Parsee," Yuugi chuckles, "You needed the time off too. And you weren't exactly resisting that outfit. In fact, it seems to me that you were helping to get on it. And no one made you dance around like that, either. Hey, I had no idea that you could sing so well! You learn something new every day!" Parsee goes bright red at this, and mutters darkly under her breath. Sounds like Yuugi was right on the mark.
I turn around and look at my crew. Reisen, rumpled but satisfied with her trip. Shou, whose good cheer has returned now that her marriage is just a memory. Koakuma, looking thoughtfully off into the distance. Tenshi, laughing happily with her new friend. Iku, frustrated with her charge, but ecstatic that she can basically dump Tenshi off on someone else now.
Hangover aside? It was a good trip. I'd definitely come back one day. Just one last thing. I turn to my Oni hostess. "Hey, Yuugi?"
I smile. "Do you mind if I keep this kimono? I think it looks really good."
Yuugi grins back and tips my own hat at me. "Only if I can keep your outfit. Makes me look distinguished, you know?" We share a grin as Parsee rolls her eyes.
Sometime later the six of us stagger out into the afternoon light. What a trip. I'm still in my new blue kimono with my hat tucked under my arm. I let Yuugi keep the dress in trade, I have several spares after all, but the hat is a keeper. Apparently I managed to do some shopping in the midst of the drunken haze, and a bag filled with souvenirs is grasped in my hand. Among them is a tiger-skin bikini. That should draw some looks.
Tenshi and Iku fly off while Reisen and Shou decide to go on foot, for the exercise. Koa and I take to the skies ourselves, and soon enough the mansion comes into view. "Hey Koa?" I ask my companion.
"Thoughtful," she replies, "I think I might have been going about things all wrong. Definitely worth thinking over."
"...Please don't kidnap anyone."
"I'm not that kind of girl, Meiling."
"Just making sure." The rest of the flight is quiet, and we soon land in front of the Mansion. Sakuya is waiting for us, and her eyes get very wide when she sees me. Possibly due to how I've loosened up my kimono so it shows off my legs and chest. Possibly. "Hi, Sakuya!" I greet her.
Sakuya shakes herself. "Ah, welcome back! Did you have a good time?"
Koakuma sighs as she walks inside the mansion. "Even underground. Why did I have to meet the nice Oni?"
Sakuya watches her go in confusion, understanding slowly dawing on her face. "No luck?" She asks.
"None," I confirm, "Poor Koa. As for me, I have a lot to tell you, starting with a drunken duel with an Oni! Did I miss anything here?"
"Drunken duel..." Sakuya blinks, then laughs it off. "Fitting for a trip to the underground! Anyway," Sakuya grins at me. "We had a bit of excitement here. Reimu showed up, talked to Flandre, and the two of them started chasing Remilia around and trying to force her into another tiny bathing suit... while wearing such swimwear themselves."
I snort with laughter. "I'm sorry I missed that!"
"It was something to see!" Sakuya laughs. "Miss Patchouli had a night out herself. Still can't believe that woman is so good at finding men." Sakuya shakes her head in disbelief. "Also? According to Reimu, Yukari went and found herself a lover."
My eyes widen. "Really?! Who is it?!"
Sakuya shrugs. "No idea. Reimu didn't even know if it was a man or a woman. But Yukari seemed pretty happy about it." I'm about to ask more questions when a tumult comes from inside:
"Flandre, no, stop!"
"Aw, come on Big Sis! Let me paint you! I need to practice my artistic side, you know!"
"WHY DOES IT HAVE TO BE NUDE BODY PAINTING?!"
Sakuya and I burst into laughter. "Shall we try to pull those two apart?" she asks me.
I smile back. "May as well try." We walk, side by side, into the mansion.
Well, that's that. Guess it's time to wrap this story up, huh?
Or, y'know, you could pick one of these options:
[ ] The big date with Sakuya. [ ] A pleasant day with Yuuka. [ ] Koakuma gets some. [ ] Checking up on the married couple. [ ] Checking up on the Marshmallow fairy. [ ] The DyCirno Super Heroic Force [ ] Yukari maintains the peace.
I'm in the kitchen, having come here to get a snack.
So is Flandre, carrying a mugful of blood.
I stare at Flandre.
Flandre smiles back.
Specifically, I'm staring at Flandre's chest, which seems to have grown several sizes during the night. I point at said chest. "Those are fake."
"Yeah," Flandre admits, sipping her blood. "I put oranges down my shirt front. A little tissue as padding, and it looks like I've sprouted."
"And you are doing this why?"
Flandre's smile doesn't even waver. "Just wait and see."
I shake my head and go back to making a sandwich. I make sure it's a big one, with all kinds of meats and cheeses, and of course several types of vegetable. Hey, if you're gonna have a sandwich, make sure it's a good one. Anyway, I'm about to head back out to my post when Remilia walks in.
"Ah, Flandre, there you are," she says to her sister, "I was wondering if you'd like-" Remilia freezes mid-sentence.
She stares at Flandre's enlarged chest, mouth open wide.
Flandre smiles happily at her sister. "Sis, look! I grew boobs!"
Remilia gags, and finally manages to choke out an answer. "WHY."
I make my escape at this point while Flandre gives her sister a completely made-up story about nutritional supplements, exercise, and massages. Poor Remilia. She never saw this one coming.
Anyway, back at my post I enjoy my delicious sandwich and think about life. I enjoyed my trip down to the underground city, and certainly enjoy the reaction I get from Sakuya and Yuuka whenever I wear that kimono. Actually, I like their reactions whenever I wear any outfit that might be considered suggestive. This gives me pause.
Maybe I've messed around with them more than enough? After all, I certainly do enjoy their company. Maybe it's time I gave them a chance and really saw what they were like in private? It's been so long since I've just sat down and chatted with Sakuya, and a private moment with Yuuka is a real rarity.
Also, I'm kind of jealous of Remilia. She's got Reimu now, and seeing their relationship is just so damned cute. It makes me wish that I had one of my own. And according to the rumors, even Yukari managed to find someone, in spite of all the difficulties she'd been having. Maybe it's time for me to take action of my own on that front...
I'm still in the midst of my thoughts when Koa walks up to take a place next to me. "Hi Meiling," she says to me. I manage to mumble a greeting through my sandwich. "Oh, don't rush on my account, I'll wait until you're done," Koa assures me. I shrug and get to work on finishing my sandwich.
After a while, I set the plate down and look over at my succubus friend. "So, what can I do for you?"
Koakuma takes a deep breath. "I need your help getting a man."
I snort with laughter. "Koa? I think we've both been there before-"
"No, no, no," Koakuma waves her hands in negation. "You misunderstand. You see..." she takes a deep breath, "After our little jaunt, I did some serious thinking about what I want. You know, from a man. And I went out looking for it. And, well... I found it."
I'm interested now. "A man caught your fancy?"
"...Is he taken?" That's always the first problem.
"No, he's not!" Koakuma exclaims, "I asked around, and he's free! Which is why I want to snap him up, before anyone else gets to him." Koa has a hungry look in her eye.
"...Is he gay?" I ran into that once.
"Nope! He's definitely interested in women."
"Is he some sort of horrific pervert that would make us run screaming in horror from his fetishes?"
"Nah, he seems pretty clean-cut."
I nod slowly. "This sounds like no one I've ever seen before. Care to give me the details?" It's true. In a place as small as Gensokyo, there aren't a lot of straight, available men who don't have some sort of crippling social defect.
Koakuma takes a deep breath. "So. I went to the village the other day to get some research materials for Miss Patchouli. Eientei has a pharmacy in town, you know, so that people don't have to wander the bamboo forest whenever they want a cold remedy or something."
I nod. "It's usually staffed with rabbits. They sell research materials?"
"They will if there's an order for it," Koakuma replies, "The rabbits will mix up certain reagents which Miss Patchouli uses. Wouldn't be surprised if Marisa does some business with them as well, but I digress." Koakuma looks off into the distance. "There was someone new there today. A man. Definitely an outsider, by the looks of him. Said his name was Josef. Very nice, very friendly. Clean-cut, educated, intelligent, handsome..." Koakuma licks her lips. "I wanted to tackle him right then and there."
"Didn't want to do things Oni-style?" I quip.
"Reimu would clobber me and you know it," Koakuma retorts.
"True," I admit. "So, he didn't seem put off by your wings?"
"Not at all! In fact, he was genuinely curious! So, I explained to him what I was, and talked to him about my home back in Makai, and he told me about his home, and I think things went really well." Koakuma takes a deep breath. "So, I like this guy and want to land him. I need your help. It's been a while since I've successfully seduced someone, and I want to get it right."
I nod slowly. "You want a wing-woman."
"...Are you planning on draining his soul?"
Koakuma looks a little offended. "Meiling! You know I only do that when I'm on an actual mission! Which I haven't been since before I came to work for Miss Patchouli! Besides, he's too nice to be a Makai target."
I raise my hands in a placating gesture. "I had to ask. So, are you looking for a one-night stand with this guy, or something a little more?"
Koakuma thinks about it for a moment. "You know? I wouldn't mind getting to know him a little better. He seems awfully nice, so..." Koakuma hesitates for a moment before grabbing the front of my dress and begging. "Pleeeeeaaaase help me, Meiling! It's been so long, Josef's so nice, and I don't know why Reisen hasn't nabbed him yet, but I want to get to him before she does! Pleeeeaaaasssse!"
I laugh, patting her on the shoulders. "Okay, okay! I'll help you out! Just... calm down alright? Try not to act so desperate." Koakuma nods, taking a deep breath, and I think carefully. Okay. I'm going to help my friend with her relationships. How should we go about this? What's my first move?
[ ] Go meet him with Koakuma. [ ] Ask Reisen about him. [ ] Find a pretext to invite him to the mansion. [ ] Write-in?
[x] Ask Reisen about him. >We have to protect Koa's heart. And it possible there's a reason he wasn't taken by the school teacher yet. A far more plausible problem considering Koa's description of him.
Although I've got this feeling that if we went with Koa to meet him, he'd totally lose interest in her and go gaga over Meiling, until he found out that we're the gate guard for the SDM, at which point he'd ask to be introduced to the residents therein.
A while later the two of us are walking through the Bamboo Forest of the Lost, following a carefully marked path that leads to the Eientei clinic. Kind of an unusual feature, really, as it prevents people from getting lost in a locale that is specifically made to MAKE people lost in the first place. Eh, the rabbits probably pull up the markings when they don't want company.
"So, why are we here, exactly?" Koakuma asks me.
"Well, you're curious about this guy, right?" I respond, "Then the best way to learn about him is to talk to someone that knows him, which would probably be Reisen. This will let us figure out what he's actually like away from the counter, and just why Reisen hasn't grabbed him for herself if he's so desirable."
Koakuma nods slowly. "Good point. Stake out the prey before beginning the hunt."
I groan. "Hey, Koa? Stop thinking of this guy as prey, all right?"
Koakuma winces. "Right. Sorry. Bad habit."
"...No sucking his soul out."
"I told you I WON'T!"
"Ahem," the two of us are interrupted by someone clearing their throat, which upon further investigation turns out to be a small rabbit youkai. Most likely one of the attendants at Eientei. "Welcome," the rabbit tells us politely, "May I ask the reason for your visit?"
I turn to her. "Actually, we wanted to talk to Reisen if she had a minute."
"We want to hear more about this 'Josef' guy," Koa puts in eagerly. I sigh. Need to dial it back a bit there, Koa.
"Oh, Joe?" The rabbit brightens up at this. "Yeah, he's a swell guy. Been studying at Eientei for a little while, but miss Eirin recently put him in charge of the village pharmacy. He's welcome to it if you ask me. Anyway, follow me, I'll get Reisen for you."
A few minutes later, Koakuma and I are in the courtyard of Eientei, waiting for Reisen while the rabbits labor around us. It's a pretty busy spot, really. We're in the section that leads to the main clinic, but I can see other areas of the compound that are doubtless for private use. Same deal as with the mansion, really. Although, the rabbits here are a lot more industrious than the fairies we have back home.
"Hey guys!" Oh, there's Reisen. Wearing a sweatsuit for some unknown reason. Huh. Reisen walks up to us and sighs. "If you're wondering about the outfit, Tewi snuck into my room in the middle of the night and stole all of my clothes. Again. Which meant rushing through the house to the bathroom to get a towel to cover up, and finally settling for wearing a sweatsuit because all of my clothes are now muddy. Get all that?"
I blink a little at Reisen's monotone tirade. "Uh, I guess so. How are you holding up beyond that?"
"Eh, can't complain." She smiles at us. "So, what can I do for you guys?"
"Well, just curious," Koakuma says carefully. "I couldn't help but notice you had a new guy in at the pharmacy in the village."
Reisen brightens. "Oh, you mean Josef? Yeah, he's a pretty swell guy."
"What's his story?" I ask, "Eientei doesn't usually have human employees."
Reisen shrugs. "Josef's a bit of an exception. I forget where he's from originally, but a fluctuation in the border caused him to land in the bamboo forest. Tewi found him, declared him lucky to be found by her, and that was reason enough to bring him back to Eientei, as far as she was concerned."
"Fair enough. So Eirin hired him?" I ask further.
"Basically. Joe actually has pharmaceutical experience and slight medical background, which is a pretty rare skill-set here in Gensokyo. Eirin hired him pretty much on the spot, and he settled right in. She's been making sure his skills are up to her standards, and recently put him in charge of the village pharmacy."
"Oh, so that's why we haven't seen him before," Koakuma notes, "He's been here at Eientei most of the time." Reisen nods. "Well, it's a good opportunity for him to study in his field. Anyway, uh, what's your take on him?"
Reisen shrugs. "He's a nice guy. Smart, gets along with everyone well enough. Every so often he makes the strangest, most random choices, but a little eccentricity is pretty much par for the course around here. Why do you ask?"
I grin. "We were wondering why you haven't snatched this guy up for yourself."
Reisen blushes at this, then slumps a little bit. "Eheh... I thought about it. But Eirin has this stupid No Fraternization policy for employees. Says it serves to distract people from their duties." Reisen grumbles at this a little bit.
"So he's available?" Koakuma quickly asks. A little too quickly. Reisen narrows her eyes.
"Koakuma? You're a friend, okay? But Joe is also a friend. And I swear, if you try to suck his soul out..."
"I won't do that!" Koakuma protests, drawing some stares from the other rabbits, "Why on Earth and Makai do people keep thinking that?!" She shoots me an accusing look.
"Because you're a succubus," Reisen notes.
"It's your job," I agree.
"Only when I'm specifically on a mission," Koakuma groans, "Come on, guys, just because I have headwings doesn't mean I don't like a good cuddle from time to time! I have no intention of draining his soul, or anyone else's for that matter!"
Reisen deflates a little. "Sorry, Koa. Just... Josef doesn't have any magical abilities, and can't handle himself like Albrecht does. It's just... we worry about him, you know? Gensokyo can be kinda dangerous for an unprepared outsider."
"I just want a date! Is that so wrong? A simple date with a man?" Koa pouts a little bit. Reisen just lifts an eyebrow. "...You know exactly what I mean, Reisen. Don't make me spell it out."
Reisen sighs a little bit. "Well... I'm not exactly a prospect, and as long as you don't mean him harm, I guess it's okay. Josef did mention that he met you, and seemed a little curious, so I guess that's as good as you'll get. Go for it." Reisen smiles a little bit. Koakuma smiles back, seeming a little relieved.
"So, any advice for our lonesome succubus?" I quip.
Reisen shrugs. "Josef seems to like smart girls, so you're good there, Koakuma. My advice? Make the first move. Joe isn't exactly shy, but he's not exactly sure how a youkai woman- or a Makai inhabitant for that matter- would react to a human asking them out on a date. He feels like he has to step carefully, unfortunately. So, you'll probably have to make the first move and ask him out."
Koakuma shrugs. "It's the modern era. No shame in it. Besides..." Koakuma suddenly starts to look a lot more seductive than usual, and her voice flows like fine wine. "It's not the first time I've had to lure a man."
I point at her. "That. Don't do that. You're looking for a date, not hunting the poor guy down."
Koakuma quickly resumes her normal stance. "Oh. Right. Sorry." She shifts awkwardly for a moment. "Well... no time like the present, huh?" Squaring her shoulders, the succubus marches off, presumably to the human village. Reisen watches her go, then turns to me.
"So, how do you think this will go?"
I shrug. "Should be fun to watch if nothing else." I take my leave and follow after Koa.
The pharmacy in the human village is a pretty straightforward set-up. Shelves of drugs, of painkillers, of more questionable concoctions that are 'Yagokoro-certified for efficacy!' and all come with disclaimers on them. Basically, Eientei claims no responsibility if something goes horribly wrong due to someone not carefully reading and following the clearly printed instructions, but of course Eientei is willing to provide any necessary medical services.
Well, the disclaimers aren't quite that wordy. but the gist is there.
Anyway, Josef greets us as we walk in, and proves to be just as Koakuma described him. Youthful, tall and slender, clean-cut and with a generally pleasant air about him. I could totally see him growing up to be one of those kindly old drug-store owners you just don't see anymore. Handsome guy, intelligent look in his eye... I could see why Koakuma was attracted to them.
"Welcome to the Eientei pharmacy! Oh, Koakuma, wasn't it?"
"That's right," Koa says, nervously walking up to the counter. "Hi Josef. Um, this is my friend Meiling." Josef smiles and nods, and I return the simple greeting. Okay, first point in his favor: he realizes that Koakuma is still talking to him, and hasn't immediately forgotten her existence to talk to the next pretty girl. I've seen a lot of guys like that.
"It's nice to meet you, Meiling. Anyway, can I help you, Koakuma?" He smiles expectantly.
"I want a date with you," Koakuma blurts out.
Wow. Way to cut to the chase.
Josef sputters a little bit. "Er... you... sorry?"
"I want a date with you," Koakuma repeats herself. "You seem like a nice, cute guy. That's my reason. No, I have no intention of preying upon you for your soul. No, this is not part of some devious plan by my Mistress to rope you in to some diabolical scheme. No, this is not secretly some long-term plot. I'm just a girl who would like a date with a nice guy."
Josef stares for a moment. "Are those common concerns?"
"Unfortunately, yes," Koakuma sighs.
"Noted." Josef smiles. "Sorry if I seemed put off. I was just a bit... surprised. Never been asked out by a beautiful woman before. I happily accept." Koakuma looks ecstatic that her attempt to acquire a date has succeeded. "Did you have anywhere in particular in mind? You know the land better than I do, after all."
Koakuma blinks. "Wait. Do you mean right now?"
Josef shrugs. "Why not? Doesn't have to be anywhere special if we just want to get to know each other. Besides, I get off in a half-hour, so... why not?"
Koakuma nods slowly at Josef's reasoning. Looks like he's the type of guy to get to know a woman before seriously dating. And judging from her blank look, Koakuma has no plan whatsoever beyond this. I suddenly feel a pang of sympathy for many men worldwide. Okay, time to make a suggestion:
[ ] Wander around the town. [ ] Go for a nice countryside stroll. [ ] Show him parts of the mansion and grounds. Remilia wouldn't mind.
>Koakuma looks a little offended. "Meiling! You know I only do that when I'm on an actual mission! Which I haven't been since before I came to work for Miss Patchouli! Besides, he's too nice to be a Makai target."
So, Makai runs a group of succubus assassins. Whose modus operandi seems to be sleeping with the target and stealing his soul.
Pick up a copy of Hitman: Codename 69 this holiday season.
[x] Show him parts of the mansion and grounds. Remilia wouldn't mind.
Home field advantage! If he can tear his eyes away from Meiling to talk to Koa then he should be fine at the mansion.
>"Josef's a bit of an exception. I forget where he's from originally, but a fluctuation in the border caused him to land in the bamboo forest. Tewi found him, declared him lucky to be found by her, and that was reason enough to bring him back to Eientei, as far as she was concerned." >"Basically. Joe actually has pharmaceutical experience and slight medical background, which is a pretty rare skill-set here in Gensokyo. Eirin hired him pretty much on the spot, and he settled right in. She's been making sure his skills are up to her standards, and recently put him in charge of the village pharmacy." >"He's a nice guy. Smart, gets along with everyone well enough. Every so often he makes the strangest, most random choices, but a little eccentricity is pretty much par for the course around here."
Holy balls! His is a CYOA protagonist! One that is apparently spec'd for an /eientei/ run for either a Reisen or Eirin route.
I clear my throat. "How about a nice stroll around the countryside?" I suggest, "It's a beautiful day, after all."
Koakuma seizes upon the idea like a drowning man seizing a life raft. "Yes! That's exactly what I had in mind. Uh, how much have you seen of Gensokyo, exactly?"
Josef sighs. "Not as much as I would like. Eirin kept me at Eientei studying for the most part, and whenever I went anywhere, it was here to the village. Usually escorted by Reisen. I mean, I understand their reasoning. If I wandered off by myself and ran into so much as a fairy in a bad mood, I'd be in a heap of trouble. Still, I'd like to have a look at things."
Koakuma smiles broadly. "Then allow me to be your tour guide! I can fly you around, show you the sights... you name it!"
Josef nods slowly. "All right. Sounds good! Then uh, just give me a half hour to close things up?"
"You got it!" With a happy smile, Koakuma turns and wanders out the door. I give Josef a farewell wave, and follow her outside.
Naturally, Koa has already started to panic. "Meiling. Ohgodohgodohgod what do I do? What do I do? I gotta make this work WHAT DO I DO?"
I quickly grab her and look the panicking succubus in the eyes. "Koakuma. Calm down. You are better than this. This is just a date. It is a chance to get to know a guy better, and maybe something will come of it. Maybe not. But don't jump the gun, and don't get too wound up, or things WILL go wrong for you. Just relax, and try to have a good time with this man. All right?"
Koakuma takes a deep, slow breath. "Okay. You're right. I can be calm. I just really want this to work out." She frees herself from my grasp. "But... just follow along behind us in case things go south?" I nod. "Thanks. Okay, the best sights in Gensokyo are..." Koakuma starts muttering to herself as she begins to plan out the date, and I leave her to it. Of course, I'll be along if she needs any help during the date, but I have a feeling I know what my true role is going to be.
My suspicions are borne out, of course.
This doesn't change the fact that the date is going quite well. After a half-hour, Josef locks up the pharmacy, takes Koakuma's hand, and the two being flying over Gensokyo, with Koa excitedly pointing out the various features of Gensokyo and answering Joe's questions about them. Hakurei Shrine, Youkai Mountain, the Forest of Magic, the lake and the Mansion, the Garden of the Sun... all of Gensokyo's most famous landmarks are revealed to Josef, and her drinks it all in.
That's all well and good. The problem is that Gensokyo seems to hate the very idea of a peaceful date. As soon as those two get airborne, a flock of fairies decide that they're the ideal people to play a prank on. So, it falls to me to fight them off so that those two can have a peaceful date. As expected.
Then I have to talk Hatate out of taking pictures for her Personal Interest section. Then I have to run off a karakasa who wanted to surprise them. And THEN I see Sanae, who comes over to talk to me about the DyCirno fan club, and gets very excited when she learns that Koakuma is on an actual date. She wants to 'help their love along.' I very firmly tell her that any help would only get in the way, and she flies off, disappointed.
Honestly, it takes everything I have just to let Koa and Joe have some privacy.
Meanwhile, Koakuma has started to tell Josef more about herself. "Well, I served in the Makai army for a while before transferring to our interdimensional unit. We were the girls who'd seek out targets of interest and, well... collect them, if you know what I mean."
"So that's where the stories of soul-sucking succubi come from?" Josef asks, intrigued.
"It's one of the sources, but yeah," Koakuma confirms, "It's considered a valid means of dealing with your targets in Makai. I haven't done it in a long time, though, just as I haven't donned the old armor for a very long time, either. I mean, I COULD do it, but why would I want to? It doesn't mean I'm inherently dangerous, any more than a human who knows how to use a gun is going to automatically shoot you in the head."
"Yeah, I know Albrecht," Josef chuckles. "So how'd you come to your current job?"
"I got sick of bouncing between dimensions all the time," Koa shrugs, "I received word that a magician with a huge library was looking for an assistant, and I've always loved books, so I submitted myself as a potential summonee. I hit it off with Miss Patchouli, and I've been there ever since." Koakuma looks over at Josef. "So what about you?"
He shrugs. "Eh, not much to say. I was a pharmacist in a small town, and I guess some fluctuation in the border got me dumped here. Had no luck getting back home, and Eirin offered me a job at Eientei, so I said yes. I mean, a chance to study under the greatest mind in the solar system? How could I say no?"
Koakuma smiles. "It's pretty much how I feel about working for Miss Patchouli. I'm learning so much just from helping her. Anyway, it sounds like you've settled into Gensokyo pretty well."
Josef shrugs. "Maybe. I just don't like how dismissive Eirin can be about my life outside the Border. I mean, maybe my life wasn't special or anything, but it was MY life, to make of it what I would. I mean, maybe I would have done something really amazing, and now I'll never get the chance to. It's not like I don't like the folks at Eientei, of course. They're my friends. I just don't like the assumption that there was nothing good in my old life." He sighs. "But yeah, I guess I have settled in."
Koakuma nods. "Change can be hard. Gensokyo and Earth in general are just so different than Makai... it took me a while to get used to things. But I think the experiences were worth it."
Josef nods. "True. And at least I got to go on a date with a gorgeous woman from all this." He smiles gallantly at Koakuma.
Koa smiles back. "Well, if you ever want me to make your stay more pleasant, just let me know."
Josef blinks. "Meaning...?"
"Whaddaya think?" Koakuma giggles as Josef turns bright red. Overall, it looks like she has things well in hand.
That evening, Koakuma and Josef are sitting together on the shores of the lake in front of the mansion, a secure place to watch the stars together. I keep an eye on the two from a safe distance, extending my senses to watch for any creature that might threaten their private moment. The couple in question talk quietly, every so often pointing out a constellation and discussing it. Astronomy must be a common interest.
Good for you, Koa.
As I watch, Koakuma rests her head on Josef's shoulder and they link hands. Awww. Well, credit where credit is due. Koakuma got herself a man.
"I guess I should take you home now, huh?" she sighs wistfully.
"I guess so," Josef says reluctantly, "It's a bit reversed from how things are supposed to be, but I don't think I'd make it if I walked home."
The two of them stand up. "It's okay," Koakuma assures him. "I understand completely. I don't want you endangering yourself. But Josef? Before you go..."
"Yeah?" He asks.
Koakuma kisses him under the starlight.
You go, Koa.
After a moment of surprise, Josef returns the kiss, and the two stand there, embracing under the gentle night sky.
And then the kiss starts to get a little more passionate. More than a little bit, actually. In fact, I could swear it's suddenly heating up around here...
Koakuma breaks the kiss, panting. "Sorry," she breathes, "got carried away."
It takes Josef a minute to reply. "...No problem," he says, "I'm really not complaining. What brought that on?"
"I'm a succubus and you're a really nice guy."
"Oh." He nods slowly.
"In fact, right now everything in my body is screaming at me to drag you inside to my room."
"Huh." Josef nods slowly. "Aren't we supposed to wait until the third date?"
"That's not a rule in Makai," Koakuma informs him. From where I'm keeping a look out (I'm peering over the wall), I can tell that her eyes with blazing with a great deal of emotion. And many things beyond mere emotion. Josef seems lost in thought, as though debating with himself, and making a very serious choice...
"Would it make me any less of a man if I said I was totally okay with that?" he asks lightly.
"Nope," says Koakuma. Then restraint gets tossed completely aside. Koakuma lunges, presses him against the wall, and completely takes control of Josef's lips. Then she starts tearing at their clothes, and I decide to give those two a little privacy. I guess a succubus will be a succubus. At least he gave permission first.
Remilia finds me in the garden next morning. "Meiling?" she asks, walking up under her parasol, "What are you looking at?" Wordlessly, I point at the ruined patch of flower bushes I've been staring at. Goddammit, Koa. I come out this morning and find THIS. You KNOW how much those flowers mean to me...!
Remilia frowns. "What happened there? It's like someone rolled around in them... is that a pair of pants?"
"Koakuma got a boyfriend yesterday," I tell her simply. Remilia stares at me. At the pair of pants on the ground. At the bushes, which look somewhat like two people fell into them and got very active with some form of gymnastics, or maybe wrestling. Then at a smashed bed of begonias. Then at a rosebush right beneath an open window. That one must've hurt. I wonder if they even noticed.
Remilia and I share a glance and walk inside, to the room where two people must have rolled in through the window. Remilia sniffs the air and points at several places in the room. The floor. A chair. The couch. Another chair. The wall? The ceiling...?
Well. Koakuma can fly, after all.
Out of sheer curiosity, we follow the trail down the hall. Past a decorative table that's had all of its ornaments knocked off. Up a set of stairs, with Remilia giving the bannister a very long look. She also gives a chandelier a very suspicious look. A quick peek in a bathroom shows that the tub was in use last night. Then into the library, where Patchouli gives us a confused look as we examine the tops of several bookcases and a few forgotten nooks in the back. Eventually, we arrive at the door to Koakuma's room. It's very quiet inside.
"...Seems like someone was very bust last night," Remilia notes. I nod wordlessly and open the unlocked door.
Well. There's a bunch of paraphernalia scattered on the floor which shall remain nameless. Also, a number of bottle of Eientei brand energy drinks. Koakuma must have always had those in reserve, just in case. They finally came in handy, it would seem.
Koakuma herself is sitting in bed, holding a sleeping man to her chest, and gently stroking his hair. She gives me a very satisfied look, followed by a thumbs-up. I nod, and back out.
"Well?" Remilia asks idly.
"...I think Josef needs a little bit a sleep," is my reply. Remilia nods, and we leave the two in peace.
Josef emerges from Koakuma's room two days later, looking heavily rumpled, but with a huge grin on his face. Koakuma is much peppier than I've seen her in a long while, and goes about her duties with much more gusto than ever before. They've already made plans for another date.
Congratulations! Josef has completed the Koakuma route-
Congratulations! Koakuma has completed the Josef route!
You get what I mean.
Anyway! Next choice! Including an option that I plain forgot to write down last time.
[ ] The big date with Sakuya. [ ] A pleasant day with Yuuka. [ ] Recapturing the rogue tengu. [ ] Checking up on the married couple. [ ] Checking up on the Marshmallow fairy. [ ] The DyCirno Super Heroic Force [ ] Yukari maintains the peace.
I walk through the mansion, taking in the activity of the fairies. They're industrious sorts, when they put their minds to it. Sakuya has lately started to enforce a sort of carrot and stick policy to encourage good behavior from them. Fairies who do well get special treats from the kitchen while fairies who do poorly get to sit in the corner. They get bored so easily, that this is somewhat like torture for them. The dreaded 'corner' convinces many fairies to be on their best behavior when on the job.
Still, it's hard not to like the house fairies. They're just so cute, and cheery, and always have a smile for you. The friendly ones always want a hug when they see you, and some of them like to sing along when they work. So curious, so innocent...
Of course, it can be pretty awkward when a few of them saw Koakuma and Josef 'spending time together' the other day, and now they've come to you for answers.
"...So then Miss Koakuma started going bouncy-bouncy and he looked like he was in pain, but he kept telling her to do more! I don't get it!" The little fairy is just so curious, so keen to get information.
"Um... well..." Me? My face is flushing bright red. I have no idea how to give 'the talk,' dammit!
"And they kept doing it!" another fairy pipes up, "All down the hall, and in the chandelier... Meiling, what were they doing? Was it some kind of game?"
"...Sort of." Yes. A game. That's it. Just tell them it's a game.
"Can we play it?" Such innocence.
"No." I tell them flatly. "No you can't. You cannot play the... bedtop bouncy game until you're married. Period." I REALLY don't want to get into it.
"But they weren't doing anything on any bedtop..."
"They were doing it wrong." I tell them flatly. Please change the subject, girls. "Anyway, isn't there work to be done-"
"Oh! I get it!" One of the fairies smacks her fist into her palm. "That's the sort of game Pameel likes to play with Miss Marisa! A married couple game!"
"...Yes. Exactly." Close enough, I guess.
There are a few nods of understanding at this, which seems to close the matter, thankfully. Though I do hear a few of the fairies wondering if Flandre will get them a nice wife too, some day. Honestly? I wouldn't put it past Flandre.
With my involuntary class on the facts of life thankfully aborted, I turn to go on my way when I feel a tiny tug on my sleeve. I look down to see that one of the fairies has remained behind, looking concerned. "Um... Miss Meiling? Can I ask you a question? It's something different... and it's kind of important, too."
She looks very worried. I kneel down in front of her. "What's wrong, little one?"
"Well, um, do you remember our sister who liked the marshmallows? The one who kept setting everything on fire?"
I sigh. "Kind of hard to forget. I had to run around a lot to keep her from burning the mansion down."
"Yeah," the fairy maid sighs as well, "As soon as she found out about marshmallows, she couldn't get enough pf them. Then she found out you could toast them, and kept trying to find out what toasted them the best. So she burned things. And got kinda sorta out of control."
"She left the mansion and started a forest fire," I point out.
"...Yeah, that's what I mean." The maid glances to the side. "Probably thought it'd be a nice blaze and she could toast a lot of marshmallows," she mutters before turning back to me. "Anyway, Miss Meiling... when will she be coming back? I mean, I know she was hard to handle, but she was one of us. We... kinda miss her."
My heart melts as I look at the sad-eyed little maid. I understand completely. It's like Flandre; Flandre can be hard to deal with at times, but that doesn't change the sweet person she is at heart. And even when she damaged things, we still cared about her. Now the marshmallow lover's family was worried about her.
"I honestly don't know," I tell the fairy maid, "It was decided that she should help to replant the parts of the forest she tried to burn down, and I don't know how close that is to being done." I give the girl my warmest smile. "But I'll tell you what: I'll check on her right now, and make sure she's okay, all right? And if her job is close to being done, I'll bring her right home. How about that?"
The fairy maid looks delighted, and throws her arms around my neck in a hug. "Oh, thank you, Miss Meiling! Thank you so much! Will you also take a letter to her from us? We'd really appreciate it!"
I laugh and pat her on the back. "Of course, little one! You run off and get that letter written, okay? I'll be sure to take it to her!" The maid nods enthusiastically and starts to run off, when I suddenly remember something rather important. "Oh, wait!" The fairy stops and looks back at me. I scratch my head in embarrassment. "Um... I hate to say it, but I kind of forget her name. What was it again?"
Now it's the maid's turn to look embarrassed. "Well... I actually don't remember either. We all just called her Miss Marshmallow."
Fitting name, somehow.
Anyway, several fairy maids collaborate on writing the letter to 'Miss Marshmallow,' which is mainly written in colorful crayons, haphazardly spelled, and otherwise looks like a total mess. It was also clearly made with all of the enthusiasm that the fairies could muster, and warms my heart just to look at it. After a moment to let Sakuya know where I'm off to, not to mention a quick duck into the kitchen, I pocket the letter and take to the skies.
When the marshmallow-loving fairy was captured, Yuuka took a personal interest in her punishment. Not surprising, given Yuuka's interest in plant life. Her punishment was quite simple: the fairy arsonist would replant the burned parts of the forest, using magic to help it along, all with no marshmallows to eat.
Pretty terrible punishment, given the fairy's love of marshmallows.
I can see the work site from a distance. It used to be a blackened mar on the Forest of Magic, but now it seems to have considerably greened up. Looks like the little one has been doing a good job! I hover over the site and set down...
...And then I see it.
It's very orderly here. All of the new trees have been planted in perfect little rows, with each row being a separate type of tree. Each type of tree in the row has been planted almost exactly the same distance from each other. The rows are all precisely the same distance apart. Furthermore, it looks like someone has been pruning the trees, trying to give them identical shapes.
Did I mention the rocks? Because each of the trees has a random assortment of rocks scattered around their trunk. Typical forest debris... except that each tree has the exact same arrangement of rocks. All the same size and shape, all buried the same depth in the exact same way. It's like someone took pains to make sure that each tree looked as identical to the others as possible.
And there was a fairy planting these trees. A fairy, a creature naturally inclined towards a little disorder. Something like this would be strange for any human or youkai. For a fairy? Something feels very, very wrong. I set off in search of my little pyromaniac.
Soon enough, I find her. She has a little tent set up in the woods, with a little billboard where Yuuka has left directions. And then there are boxes of seeds, all put up in an orderly row. A line of laundry has been strung up between two trees, with all of the clothing having been strung up, nice and neat, according to size. It's all neat and tidy, perfectly straight, and completely unnatural. Even Sakuya isn't this anal about tidiness. And this is certainly not something that Yuuka would force upon anyone.
Something feels very, very wrong here.
The fairy herself sits at a table with her back to me. She's eating lunch. Some sort of soup, I think. She sits with her back perfectly straight, her left arm straight down by her side, while her right spoons soup into her mouth. Slow and precise. The exact same motion each time. It's like watching a robot eat.
Distantly, I think I hear the fairy humming a tune. Three notes, hummed over and over again, at the exact same pitch each time.
Something is very, very wrong here.
[ ] Call out to her. [ ] Walk up and greet her. [ ] Surprise hug!
If she goes creepy crazy, we can always just punch her face in. It's a fairy, it's cances of seriously harming us is slim to none. Yuka, however, may take offence at us for mucking with her tree planter. And love gone bad is very bad.