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30896 No. 30896
Preceding thread: >>28753
-

“If you don’t mind, I think there’s someone you should meet.” I stood to the side of the busy street with her as Auntie and her group got closer. I recognized some of the faces in the group, faces a little more wrinkled since I last saw them. It made my stomach turn. I focused on Auntie’s radiant smile - it was the only thing that was keeping me from bolting.

“The festival is as great as always, isn’t it?” She greeted me casually. The others stood back, probably remembering what happened last time.

“This is Reimu.” I made introductions, pretending I hadn’t noticed the way she was looking at us. Reimu smiled politely as Auntie made an introduction of her own. The others were trying to listen in but pretended to look around a nearby stall.

“She’s as cute as a button,” Auntie laughed sweetly, Her light and colorful clothes spreading festiveness as well as anyone humanly could. Reimu took the compliment well, smiling but looking somewhat unsure of what to do. “I bet if you didn’t have to mind the store you’d spend all your time with her, wouldn’t you?”

“Stop trying to embarrass me, it’s not going to work.” I tried to keep cool, but Auntie simply laughed again and ruffled my hair. She twirled a strand of her hair playfully and pulled me close, acting like she always did. If it weren’t for Reimu’s polite and consistent smile I could have mistaken this festival for any of the festivals in the last ten years. Auntie was always there, usually taking me around the stalls and buying candy or making me play something for some silly prize. Even if her friends insisted she go along with them, she spent most of her time mucking about with me.

“I don’t think I’m embarrassing you at all - look at you, you’re a fine handsome man and you know it.” She turned to Reimu, “Though I bet he still can’t win any of the prizes at the games. Some things never change,” She winked, “but some do and for the better. So tell me dear, are you having fun?”

“I am. This sort of thing is new for me. All these people look so happy. And the food is good too.”

“Isn’t that nice? Tell me a little more about yourself, I’m afraid that certain good-natured daydreamers forget to talk to their family about the people they meet.” She looked at me with a mischievous grin, “Even if they have almost all of their meals together. It’s not a problem, but it’d be nice if I at least got one of those fried treats for my trouble.”

“Alright, alright. I get it. I’ll go buy some for you. Would you like some too?” I asked Reimu. A nod and a sheepish smile meant both yes and that she was amused at how Auntie and I got along.

“That’s ever so kind of you. You’re a real gentleman.” Auntie started to talk to Reimu, ignoring me completely. It dawned upon me that her objective was to get rid of me. The crafty loon was up to something.

I hung back for a while, braving a line to get a few snacks. The smell of greasy batter was unbearable up close, the middle-aged man operating the fryer wore a mask over his nose, and I ordered quickly in an effort to get clear as soon as possible. It was funny how something as tasty and pleasant smelling could come from such a malodorous place.

Even with crisp treats in hand I stood back, noting that the two women I’d left looked like they were getting on just fine. They were both laughing, and Auntie had placed a hand on her shoulder. I felt a uncomfortable presence looming just behind me, offsetting the scene ahead.

“What do you want?” I asked, trying to decide whether or not to walk away.

“How cold. Is that any way to treat family?” A very nasal voice replied. I imagined that the other two were right behind me.

“You’re not family.”

“How very childish of you to still think that after all this time. We’ve missed you, you know. Family gatherings just aren’t the same without you. Even she knows it, she’s been asking about you lately. They’re not well, you know. Last month things looked very final.”

If it wasn’t for the festival - for the fun time I wanted to have with Reimu - I don’t know what I would have done then. I looked at the smug bastard square in the eye, his weaselly face annoying me by just being there. “They can go to hell, along with you. Leave me alone now, we’re strangers. I only have a single family member left.”

“What took you so long?” Auntie inquired as she grabbed a snack. The others hadn’t said anything else and remained tethered to the spot near the stall. I knew that Auntie had noticed what happened. I silently thanked her for acting casual.

“Line was long,” I shrugged. “Getting along?”

“I was just telling her how she should come to dinner sometime. That and the story about you and the Furukawa girl at the last festival.” She grinned, “No need to say anything, I even told her your usual excuse that it was dark and you could have sworn that was a-”

“You’re trying too hard.”

“Only because I care,” She chomped into her golden treat, small flakes falling to the ground. It was remarkable how half of the time it looked like she was completely uncultured and the other half like she belonged in a grand court of some sort. She chewed quickly, “I should get going now, I promised to meet my friends. A pleasure meeting you Reimu, have fun at the festival.”

She left, in her usual fickle fashion. I watched her walk off in the distance, rejoined by the unpleasant few. They talked as they walked, before Auntie went off in her own way, with a spring in her step.

“She’s an interesting person.” Reimu commented after finishing her snack with a determined bite. “You’re lucky to have her.”

“Sometimes I think that too. Sorry if she seemed a little strange or rude.”

“Not at all. You know as well as I do that she’s probably much better than any of the other people I associate with. And speaking of the which... one of them seems to be coming right for us.”

Yes, she did seem to be coming right for us. The loud jingling of an overstuffed coin purse preceded her. But she was running as fast as her legs could carry her and only seemed to notice us in the last moment, as she passed. “Yo guys, how’s it going!?” She yelled as she ran off, not bothering to even slow down to hear a reply. We couldn’t blame Marisa for not stopping; a group of upset-looking villagers appeared at the end of the street, chasing the black-white blur. We watched as she zipped through the crowd, weaving in and out to avoid stalls and festival-goers.

“I see what you mean,” I said dryly. I really didn’t want to know what the girl had gotten herself into this time. It was obviously something not good. “Wonder if she’ll be alright.”

“She’ll be alright.” There was certainty. And I believed her.

Whiny plucking of string instruments gave their customary prelude. A lot of the villagers began to cheer and head on to the square.

“What’s that?”

“They’re probably going to start the main celebration now. Come on, let’s go see it.”

We followed the moving crowd back the village center. We struggled to find a crack in the wall of bodies to squeeze through but, with a little luck, we managed to get pretty close to the front to watch. A huge pile of crops, the biggest and best, lay in the middle and their cultivators stood adjacent. They smiled as they lit a bonfire and a village elder urged the crowd to quiet down. It took a good ten minutes before he was able to get the crowd under control.

“Thank you all for making this our best festival in years.” He droned about this and that for a good while, and the crowd began to get impatient. “We’ve been blessed with a great bounty this year.” On cue, the usual honored guest appeared from the crowd. Cheers came from everywhere. The old man tried to finish his speech, but all he was able to get out were a few broken phrases. He gave up, and yelled “Drink and have fun!”

Music started up and the already vibrant festival became a frenzy of joy and excitement. The contracts the store made were paying off and I saw more than one villager drinking with no restraint. In the middle of it all, I almost Reimu. She grabbed my hand, looking like she didn’t want to get lost.

It was calmest in the middle of the square, just by the bonfire. Happy villagers carted off the display crops to make space. The guest of honor smiled in my direction. It confused me. To my surprise Reimu didn’t react poorly as I thought she might.

“It makes sense that you’d be here.” She talked loudly over the background uproar.

“It’s good to be here. It makes me feel special.”

“This is a better way to show off your power.”

“Isn’t it? Here have one. For your friend too.” The guest produced two sweet potatoes and gave us one each. She smiled and waved a silent goodbye before disappearing off into the crowd. The crowd began to disperse slightly as they once again sought to fill the side streets. This gave us an opportunity to get out of the middle where the fire made everything unbearably hot.

It was a heat that lingered. I felt that oppressive warmth in the streets full of people and with every hot snack sold. A cool drink didn’t help either. Reimu looked like she was feeling it too. It was always like this. Too many people in a really small area was bound to be like that. The warmest thing, however, was the unyielding hold that Reimu had on my hand. She had grabbed it back in the square and forgotten to let go I thought. The stalls and games were fun but couldn’t distract me enough from that.

“Why don’t we take a little break? I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed.” She looked a bit tired. With reason. All of this was a lot to take in, especially for a first-timer.

We went to take a break in the only place I knew would be quiet nearby. Unlike the rest of the village which was lit by torches and filled with cheering residents, the schoolhouse was a solemn sight to behold. It seemed to be wrapped in a bubble of calm that the noise from the festival couldn’t quite pop. The building was locked, as anyone would expect, so we sat out by the entrance.

“How long does the festival go on for?”
“At this rate, forever.” I joked. It felt good to be away from the loudness. Only here could I really make sure that it was still night.

“Mm.” We sat in mutual quiet, probably both thinking of the same things. There was so much of the night left that it wasn’t worth bothering to speculate what was going to happen next.

The quiet didn’t last forever.

“What are you doing here?” The door opened.

“Miss Kamishirasawa?”

“Geez, how many times do I have to tell you? It’s just Keine. I’m not your teacher anymore.” She sighed, and noticed that I wasn’t alone. “Who’s this? Oh. I see.”

“What are you doing here?” I asked. “Shouldn’t you be at the festival?”

“I could ask the same. I just came here because my clothes got dirty and I had a spare here. It’s closer than walking home.” In a sort of awkward way I had never seen her act before she added, “Am... I interrupting anything here?”

“We’re taking a break. All that movement and noise was a bit overwhelming for me.” Reimu explained. I sensed a little confusion from her. As if she felt she was intruding but wasn’t sure how.

“You should go back soon, the dance is going to be starting soon. And, if you don’t mind, I’d like to get a dance in with you. I’ve never had the chance before.” Even in the dark I could tell that she winked.

“There’s dancing too?” Reimu sounded surprised.

“The villagers sure a festive lot, aren’t they? They go all out during these yearly things. It’s part of the reason why I love this place so much. I bet you’re starting to feel that way too. Come now, I’m sure you wanted to be alone for a bit, but it’s not time for that now. Festivals are all about a community getting together to celebrate.”

Miss Keine closed the door of the schoolhouse, locking it with a large key.

“Do you want to go?” I whispered to Reimu.
“I don’t mind either way.” She whispered back.

“Oh. I get it.” Miss Keine said, going ahead. “I understand if you want to go alone. I shouldn’t get in the way.”

“Isn’t she misunderstanding something here?” Reimu seemed a bit agitated. “In any case, you’re my guide tonight so we’ll do as you like. You know best about this festival after all.”

[] Go with Miss Keine
[] Rest up a bit more
>> No. 30898
>I almost Reimu

I KNOW I WOULD!

[X] Rest up a bit more

>“Why don’t we take a little break? I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed.” She looked a bit tired. With reason. All of this was a lot to take in, especially for a first-timer.

Lets go at Reimu's pace anon; dancing won't be much fun if either dancer are feeling too tired for it.

Rather interesting that relatives once removed are trying to sneak back into Arc's life
>> No. 30899
>I almost lost Reimu
Blame my inability to proofread anything I write. It's always easier to spot when it's not me.
>> No. 30900
[X] Rest up a bit more

Reimu's not used to this sort of thing I take it, that or she just can't stand huge crowds.

I wonder if certain People are smelling the potential money from Arc. But it makes me wonder what Auntie thinks of the rest of the family. I get the feeling that the bulk are ne're do wells. That would explain why Auntie tries so hard to fit into higher society.
>> No. 30902
[x] Rest up a bit more
Usually I'm all for 'You can resdt when you're dead' but she did seem kind of overwhelmed. >>30898 had a good point too.

I just hope they can go back soon enough so that Reimu can dance a little bit. She seemed fairly interested on that point.
>> No. 30910
[X] Rest up a bit more

Better to dance with our date than dance with our admittedly very fine ex-teacher. No matter how tempting it may be.
>> No. 30913
>>30910
I agree, this is a Reimu route.
I'll go with this option as long as we still get to dance with Reimu.

[x] Rest up a bit more.
>> No. 30914
Great update. It kept me engaged and interested.
Curious too, I still want to find out about his relatives.

[x] Rest up a bit more.

As tempting as Keine-sensei's offer is, we're on a date with Reimu. We should not get side-tracked. Staying at her pace and making sure she has an enjoyable night is our first priority.
>> No. 30915
File 127690344554.jpg- (365.16KB , 1000x1030 , 2c31e19f935982ecc560d4bb3e11198e.jpg ) [iqdb]
30915
[\!/] Rest up a bit more.

Moe~sensei
>> No. 30916
>this is a Reimu route
¬_¬
This is not a healthy attitude to take and I suggest you and anyone else from being excessively to the point of narrowmindedness.

Over several updates, including those before my last hiatus there has been the tendency to push away for no real reason or even be outright boorish and uncouth. This story has never been geared towards a single unyielding plot objective nor do I ever intend it to be. I state this bluntly as positive reinforcement seems to go unnoticed and I frankly don't wish to try negative reinforcement unless absolutely neccessary, as it is a break in tone.
>> No. 30928
[x] Go with Miss Keine

Would like to dance with Reimu as soon as possible.
>> No. 30930
I remember dropping this story a looong time ago, because I didn't like how Suika was jerking Arc around.

What was I thinking

Such meaningful personal interactions...so many special moments...characters that I can really care about....

Writefag, if I can keep you from hiatusing again by putting some investment in this story, you have my axe.

[x] Rest up a bit more
Already mentioned, but yeah, she's tired.
>> No. 30931
[x] Rest up a bit more
Oh man, I like this Reimu.
>> No. 30936
[x] Rest up a bit more

Wait until she's tired of waiting, then go dance with her.
>> No. 30945
“...As odd as the Hieda child at times,” Keine muttered, probably not expecting me to be able to hear her. She didn’t press the issue and went back to the festival.

“You’re more popular than I thought. It’s not just the freeloaders that like you.”

“Seems that way.” I laughed. I assumed that Reimu was finding it humorous. “That’s probably the extent of my popularity though. Outside of my Aunt and Miss Keine I don’t really get on with the rest of the village. You know, casual friends sure, but it’s not like I could entrust myself wholly to them. You might have noticed people nodding at me, but no one actually came up and started to chat.”

“Now that you mention it... there were a couple of people who did do that. That’s a bit of a relief.”
“Eh? How come?”
“Because it means they weren’t staring at me. I felt out of place back there.”

A quick look at her face told me that she was serious. She was at ease with me, so I hoped, but the village was something of an alien place to her. “I think some of them were looking at you. I mean, you are nice to look at.”

“Why am I picturing your aunt grinning from ear to ear now?”
“Because she would be if she heard me say that.”
“Not jealous?”
“She’d be jealous as well. I swear that sometimes it seems like she wants me to forget she’s older than me, and my aunt to boot.”
“She seems like a nice person. I can see that certain traits run in the family.”
“Hope you mean just the good ones.” I chuckled.
“I won’t say.” She chuckled in response.

A bright burst of red and green flashed at one end of the sky. The telltale clap of gunpowder echoed in the aftermath of the bursts of fireworks.

“Ah, it’s so pretty.” Reimu observed, eyes drawn to the multi-colored detonations. A quick succession of explosions in the sky lit up the scene around us. I was more drawn to the reflection of the event in her eyes than the sky.

“It is... but it’s strange.” I tried to remember previous years, “Usually they only do it at the very end. Like right before it’s time to go.”

“Maybe they changed the schedule this year,” Reimu continued to revel at the display with her eyes glued to the light, “Or maybe something happened.”

“Could be,” I shrugged, looking up in time to see a bright purple explosion seemingly just above us. There was the sound of whistling projectiles moving in high speed and a massive barrage of white circles exploded in a brilliant display. It reminded of lights and splendor I had scene days before and my mind wondered about her.

I felt like she was watching the fireworks too. In fact, I was pretty sure she was. I knew she was. She was sitting out away from the noise, like we were, watching alone with a stoic look planted on her face. A pile of inert props and accessories sat by her side, the strings leading up in some cases to her fingers. The strings tugged at flesh, flesh that was as light and soft as the frill and lace around her neck. A soft exhalation was louder than the cacophony of fragmenting bombs and against the cool evening air, pale cheeks showed a rosy streak of life.

I missed the rest of the light spectacle. Smells of spent gunpowder and other chemicals wafted through the air, slowly displacing the smell of woodland fabric and herbs. Black smoke that made my eyes water at the same time cleared them of convincing illusions. I coughed. “We should get out of here, we seem to be downwind of the fireworks.”

“It didn’t last very long.” We were almost at the edge of the light and gaiety again.

“It usually doesn’t. It’s expensive to make fireworks.” The roar of lively celebration assaulted from beyond the corner of a street. “They only do it once or twice a year, for the more important dates.”

“It certainly is different to be outside of it for once.”

I wanted to ask what she meant by that. Noise and very dense crowds prevented me from doing so. In the alleys between stalls and (closed) shops there were those who had too much to drink (oftentimes too quickly). There usually wasn’t anything too notorious about it, save the occasional fight, but I felt embarrassed that Reimu might be seeing them regardless. It made me take shortcuts I otherwise wouldn’t have bothered with.

The square, as before, was the center of all festivities. Somewhere, unseen, instruments played joyful tunes incessantly. People danced around the still-raging bonfire and their elongated shadows mimicked their movements in something of a farce. Most dancers were squared off in opposite sex couples those some, having too much fun or being too drunk to care, danced with whoever happened to be standing before them. I knew the tension everyone felt round the year considering the crops. It always was a serious matter, we depended on nature’s bounty to survive.

I gave Reimu a look of invitation, beckoning her to join me.

She came up close, leaning up and on to place her mouth by my ear, “I can’t dance.”

I smiled at her confession. Replying with a mixture of mouthed words and simplistic gestures I explained over the noise of the crowd. I told her that she could follow my lead and I couldn’t dance very well either. I told her that the point was to have fun. It was something of a half truth, but it seemed appropriate. I had danced every year with Auntie and I knew what was expected from the act. I wasn’t any good. I felt that I could guide her through it.

We danced awkwardly at the edge of the main body. I was worse than expected and Reimu didn’t seem very coordinated either. Despite the obvious technical shortcomings it was fun. The simple and repetitive music lead to simple and repetitive moves and laughs were had when awkward variations were tried. There was something bewitching about the fire, song and moment - we seemed to get caught up in the act.

The fire still burned intensely - though maybe not as much - when the music changed and slowed down. Some people had already gone home, or moved on the party elsewhere. One in every three stalls had closed and plenty more had weary-looking attendants who had been rotating throughout the night. This was usually the time of night I went home, changed and lay in bed for the rest of the night. The festival would continue to wind down and I’d hear the last of the drunken singing in the small hours. The candor and spirit of the village was like a bright candle that ate up all the wax, only slowing when the light began to dim.

We sat down by the overturned remains of Marisa’s stall. It had been a rush job, evident from all the string and lack of carpentry know-how. Exactly what I would have expected from her if she tried to build it on her own. Glitter stained the ground nearby, and would probably be the cause of much cursing when someone tried to clean it up in the morning. Reimu looked flush. I probably looked about the same. We didn’t amount to much, and no one was watching or praising us, but it still took a lot out of us to dance like that.

“Some night, huh?” I found that it was quiet enough for me to talk normally now.
“A longer night than most for me."

[] “Drinks? As much as you could want at my place,”
[] Call it a night
>> No. 30946
[X] “Drinks? As much as you could want at my place.”

Seems fitting for some reason, not sure why. Though I do expect Auntie or Suika to interrupt their time together.
>> No. 30948
[x] “Drinks? As much as you could want at my place,”
That is how it always starts
>> No. 30967
[X] “Drinks? As much as you could want at my place.”

Not my first option, but it's better than letting this end.

This is an excellent story, why are there so few votes?
>> No. 30968
[X] "Drinks? As much as you could want at my place."

Reimu seems nice and loose right now, so it's the perfect time. Auntie will probably be coming home pretty quick, and Suika might just bop in, too. What better way to end the night than with all the ladies we care about?
>> No. 30971
[X] “Drinks? As much as you could want at my place,”
>>30968
I agree.
>> No. 30972
File 12770766398.png- (360.23KB , 849x489 , hellyea.png ) [iqdb]
30972
[\!/] "Drinks? As much as you could want at my place."
>What better way to end the night than with all the ladies we care about?

IYKWIM.
Sorry writefag. It couldnt be helped.
>> No. 30974
[X] “Drinks? As much as you could want at my place,”

Because we can
>> No. 30978
[x] “Drinks? As much as you could want at my place.”
>> No. 30980
I can't very well update regularly when it takes 14 hours between the update and 3rd vote. I'm stating this because there was insistence that I communicate. Use rss or the thread watcher, there was plenty of activity on the site during that interval.

On a different point: If there is an option, all choices have merit, otherwise they would not be there. There is almost never choice for choice's sake. Do not be quick to dismiss them. I don't know how I can be any clearer about this or what I've previously said about narrowmindedness. Persisting will only make things less enjoyable for all involved.

I can't say I'm either in the mood or have much time to write just now. There will be something in the coming hours, mostly if I feel good about it.
>> No. 30984
[x] "Drinks? As much as you could want at my place."
Aye, this be good. If slightly worrying option.
>> No. 30986
>>30980

Sorry, working on catching up on this story at the moment.
>> No. 30992
[X] Call it a night

Reasoning being because aside from possibly being worn out, the prospect of Reimu being worn out and maybe too wasted (unlimited booze) for her to head back to the shrine during the night does not paint a cheery image.

Reimu might even insist on Arc escorting her back to the shrine if Arc, and possibly Suika being there, manages to have her go beyond her limits.
>> No. 30993
>>30980

As someone who has tried to follow your stories from the beginning, i assure you i always come with the idea that every option has its merits and opportunities in mind when i vote, but for the love of everything that's cute and cuddly, why would i want to call quits now that we're having so much fun?
Of course you won't say, its a retorical question.
>> No. 30995
File 127714698977.jpg- (111.89KB , 700x300 , Boxed.jpg ) [iqdb]
30995
>>30980

I only vote in 2 other stories excluding this one and I don't votespam

Sorry bro. And take it easy~
>> No. 31001
[x] “Drinks? As much as you could want at my place”

Sure, why not? More time with the miko is always good
>> No. 31009
>>30980
>Persisting will only make things less enjoyable for all involved.

Are you saying everyone should stop agreeing so much? Or do you think it isn't possible that everyone's considering the options and coming to the same conclusion, they must all be mindlessly bandwagoning and ruining your story? I don't know why you worry so much.
>> No. 31013
>>31009
>everyone should stop agreeing so much?
Yes, that's part of what I'm saying. A little dissent is always good. I don't think the other extreme of every option being bitterly divided amongst camps is healthy either but something in between is good. Even if it is only every once in a while. I'm sure that there will eventually be a point where people will wonder if they weren't being a little bit too gungho. Like I said, the choices are there for a reason, and serve to guide things in sometimes rather different directions. Temperance is key.

As for the other possibility, I don't think people are mindlessly bandwagoning. It's however improbable that they would reach the same conclusion choice after choice, especially when other choices have their allure. This is why I'm asking people to step back and think about it. Yet again, if I didn't think it worth the trouble, there would be no choice. The slightly worrisome tunnelvision ties in to this.

As an author I should worry about these things. At the least, if I care about what I write. Things may not go down as readers envision them if they keep pursuing single options without regards for the others, and that's what I'm warning people about. It's not about this specific choice as >>30993 might think but rather about the general state of things. Being like-minded for too long may lead to stagnation.

And besides, I must confess, as an storyteller it is ultimately just dull to watch everyone go for the same thing.
>> No. 31016
>>31013
Meant to add: Unable to write right now, but probably will be able to within half a day of this post. Hopefully, time and votes permitting, it'll be a more regularized ordeal.
>> No. 31039
Things were a little silent until I made the suggestion to move on, “Drinks? As much as you could want at my place.”

Reimu smiled, likely knowing full well that I wasn’t kidding. She didn’t pry into my personal life much, in fact the passing remarks about Auntie earlier had been the first, but she probably had heard enough from Suika to know a little about me. I briefly thought about what she thought about me.

“If you’re going to make that kind of face, I’m not sure I want to go,” She raised an eyebrow, studying me further.

“And what kind of face is that?” I tried my best to look normal.

“Never mind...”
“Is that a yes or a no?”
“The truth is,” She looked out at the waning festivities, “that I feel like I’m drunk enough already. It’s this atmosphere, it feels like it’s all gone right to my head. Embarrassing, huh? Tell you what though, I’ll walk with you to your home, if I feel like I want get more intoxicated, I’ll take you up on your offer.”

There wasn’t anything I could really answer back with. I knew better than to ask for a more concrete answer - it’d be impolite and I had been taught to mind my manners. So, with a smile, I invited her to come with me. We walked through the quickly-emptying streets and witnessed how the festive tempo fast wound down. More stalls were closing and the few obstinate stall-keepers that kept themselves ready for customers probably either needed to offload all of their merchandise or wished to cater to the last lingering souls.

All this didn’t mean that the town was quiet. As we got nearer to my place it was obvious that a lot of the festive spirit had just transferred itself into homes. Neighbors got together for their own after-festival festivities. They would probably go at it until they ran out of alcohol or the sun broke over the horizon. It was, after all, a well-deserved celebration. Even the end of year festivals and spring festivals weren’t such a big deal.

“Oh...” Reimu paused for a moment and looked down the street. It was clear save for a few small groups chatting by doors.

“Is something the matter?” I looked around, trying to see whatever it was she saw.

“It’s nothing. Thought I saw someone. Sorry about that.” She shrugged and kept quiet for the rest of the walk. It felt nice to walk with her like that; She kept close, close enough for me to her soft breathing and for our arms to occasionally brush together by accident. It was a welcome departure from previous years, when I would be supporting an often ‘over-jolly’ Auntie (her word choice was code for absolutely plastered) as I tried to lead us home. It wasn’t that much trouble but it wasn’t the nicest of yearly traditions.

“We’re here.” I pointed to the weather-worn sign hanging over the front door. It was my direct intervention that had kept the old sign up, it was to be replaced long ago by something flashier - presumably to attract more customers. I liked the dignified wooden carvings on it that depicted a nondescript bottle and a pair of glasses, tilted as if during a toast. The sign on the door said ‘closed’ and we normally used the back door after business hours.

“This is your place, huh? Looks cozy.”

“It’s nothing as spectacular as your shrine, but I like it here. We’re far away enough from the fields to avoid the unpleasant smell of manure. Plus, there’s a great view from my room - I can see most of the village from there.” I pointed to the far corner of the second floor. The small window wasn’t visible from the front.

“If I had to live in the village, I’d like a place like this. I’m not too sure I’d want a store though, I’m not sure that I can deal with customers on a regular basis.”

I joked, knowing that she‘d appreciate it, “You deal with people who come to your place, ask for stuff and only very occasionally want to pay the full price almost every day. I think we’re about the same there.”

“I really need to change my business strategy.” She sighed. The girl I saw in front of me was really different from the Reimu I usually saw. The unornamented hair and normal clothes were only part of it too. It actually may have just been the moonlight and her unusual appearance but I thought then that she was very vulnerable. I didn’t know how to deal with that. I’d never had the chance to witness it before.

She looked at the sign hanging over the door, with an almost too-serious glare. “I’m sorry,” She suddenly dropped her stare and smiled at me, “I just realized that I’m in no conditions to have drink. It’s been a great evening and I really had a wonderful time. I think I should go home and sleep.”

“Oh.” There was nothing I could think to say, not even an ‘are you sure’ sounded right in my mind. “Um, do you want me to walk you home? It’s dark.”

“No need. It’s more dangerous for you than it is for me, since you’ll have to come back alone. I can handle myself.”

“Ah, that’s right.” I said, sounding moronic.

“I hope to treat you to something sometime soon as thanks. See you!” She waved and casually began to walk away. I waved back, replying with something that sounded like a ‘see you’.

There wasn’t much for me to do other than to go round back and creep in. The lights were out and I didn’t want to wake Auntie up. I wasn’t feeling particularly tired and wasn’t able to fall asleep. I thought about the evening. It had been a nice evening, overall a success. I even found myself thinking that Reimu’s sudden disappearance at the end was her honestly being tired. She genuinely seemed to enjoy herself during the evening, laughing and talking to me through drink and dance. When we were alone earlier by the schoolhouse she also was forthright.

I found myself believing that I had done everything right. In fact, I was soon smiling in the dark. Not only had I asked Reimu to come to the festival, but we had had a lot of fun together. I figured that if I was going to smirk and look smug, it would be best to do it alone in the dark. No doubt Auntie would be grilling me in the morning and playing it off casually would be the way to go. It would be fun to keep her guessing, maybe even getting her to look petty for wanting to know things so badly. A golden opportunity like that only came rarely. And to make things even more interesting, I’d go to the shrine and make a deal about the fact. I thought about Auntie’s reaction to that, if I played my cards right I could even get her to huff and puff and demand to come with me. I’d flat-out refuse.

It was childish of me, I knew, but I had to make the most out of opportunities given. I felt that Reimu would do the same in my position. In her more whimsical moments, she could go quite far in the foppery.

“Hahahaha!” Loud laughter came from outside my window. A series of voices followed, uttering unintelligible, but loud drunken slurs. A pack of drunkards had found their way to the store and didn’t seem want to leave.

I cursed. Putting my clothes back on, I went downstairs intent on telling them to shut up. Normally I’d tell them off from my window but that risked waking Auntie next door. She looked like she was sound asleep; her door was open and as I passed I saw her sprawled happily in her pajamas.

The group of loud drunks were standing by small alley between the two nearest houses. I recognized some of them - people around my age with whom I had onetime gone to school with. There were four of them and I was just about to tell them off when I noticed the fifth person.

“You’re all out? That’s no fun.” The horns were the giveaway. Suika pouted in midst of the other four, shaking an empty bottle.

“Oh, don’t worry,” One of the drunks said, “I’ve got plenty back home. You’re welcome to come. The others are going there as well.”

“Hm, I don’t know. I’m not sure I’ll be having as much fun as before. Maybe I should just go home.”

There was a flurry of loud protests from the others. Suika seemed to think about it, or maybe she was trying to block all the noise out by placing her hands on her ears. In any case, I wasn’t sure what to do. They hadn’t seen me standing by my building and I thought that maybe if I said anything they’d get even more agitated. The usual crowd of drunks were easier to deal with, as soon as they saw the store was closed they’d usually just curse and stumble back home.

[] Stay put
[] Disperse them
>> No. 31040
[x] Stay put

The drunkards will stumble on home, no need to try and get their attention and keep them longer.
>> No. 31041
[x] Disperse them.

This could lead to some quality oni-time.
It could also mean more business for the store.
If things backfire, Suika is there to bail us out.
>> No. 31042
[X] Casually stroll up, and invite Suika into the store for a drink together.

Gives Suika a nice out if she wants to get away from the revelers, and gives Arc a nice chance to sit down and talk with her. Maybe even have a serious talk with her. If she doesn't want to hang with Arc, surprisingly, then it shouldn't stir up any trouble either.

Ah, what can I say? I like the little oni. Still feel kind of bad about ditching her. Not like Arc is going to be getting a lot of sleep tonight anyway.
>> No. 31043
[x] Disperse them
- wouldn't hurt to have a staff or something just in case

Unless dear Auntie sleeps like a log the noise could easily awaken her and cause her to step out to try dispersing the crowd.

NOT SUCH A GOOD IDEA AFTER REACHING HOME PLASTERED.
>> No. 31045
[x] Disperse them

If just to get them to be quiet sooner. We really need to look for that fine bottle of wine/sake for Suika as so the lie we told isn't a lie.
>> No. 31048
[X] Casually stroll up, and invite Suika into the store for a drink together.

Sounds good to me.
>> No. 31056
[z] Disperse them
:v
>> No. 31057
[X] Stay put
because >>31045
I think Suika deserves it.
>> No. 31059
[x] Disperse them
Considering that she's covering her eyes, I'm pretty sure she doesn't want to hear all those complains.
Besides, if the want to get drunk, then go do that on their own house, like that guy suggested.
>> No. 31061
File 127735900659.jpg- (305.25KB , 665x790 , responsibility for this.jpg ) [iqdb]
31061
I had expected something more of a fight. But sometimes drunks were like children, you come at them with a scary voice and they scatter with the wind. It was like that that time. I Simply raised my voice and came at them, angry that they were making such a ruckus. I was no match for the four of them but I counted on Suika for backup if anything bad happened. I don’t think they even recognized me. They were drunk enough that anything set them into a panic. One of them tried to grab Suika’s arm but gave up when the oni wouldn’t budge. They stumbled out through the alley like a bunch of frightened cats.

I heard them cursing and tripping over themselves for a while, as they tried to remember which way was home. Had they been any less drunk, they might have tried to beat me up. Any more and they might have ignored me altogether. It was something of a sixth sense I had, being around alcohol for a long time had given me that useless skill.

Suika alone remained. Her ribbon was sloppily tied on and her clothes looked a bit dirty. She hadn’t flinched at all during the exchange. But now she was scowling, She didn’t look very pleased to see me and a guilt-pang in my stomach was reminding me why. “It’s late, “ I started, “You shouldn’t be hanging around with strangers.”

“And why do you care?!” She was louder than the drunks had been earlier. “Arc, you’re nothing but a... a dummy! That’s what you are! A big dummy!”

“Geez. Don’t be like that Suika.” I definitely felt guilty. Enough to regret some of the things I’d done. “I’m sorry, I’ll make it up to you. Let’s sit down and talk about it.”

“I don’t want to talk. You’ll just lie to me again. I don’t even know why, I’ve never lied to you. I thought you were different from all the others.” She relaxed the scowl, looking more hurt than angry. It felt like she was slipping through my fingers and I couldn’t do anything to catch her. “Just, just leave me alone okay?”

“I don’t want to leave you alone. Come on now, I’ll fetch us something nice to drink. the best I can find.” I tried to get her to come along. She stood stubbornly, defiantly, not looking like she was going to budge - and all the while seeming to be on the verge of tears.

“I don’t want to. You trying to make me forget things won’t make things better.”
“I’m not trying to make you forget, in fact-”
“I’m just going to go. I know when I’m not wanted.”
“You’re acting like a kid now. I just want to make things better, is that so hard to believe?”

In retrospect, it must have been strange to see the two of us have that conversation. I got the feeling that there was at least one person watching from the comfortable anonymity of a nearly-shut window. A young girl with horns and me, a sloppily-dressed store manager. People were probably getting the wrong impression. Anyone who looked like they were making a girl cry, horns or no horns, was likely the bad guy. It was enough for me to know it.

“Look, don’t go.” I tried to stop her. “What would Yuugi say if she saw you now? She’d probably laugh. If she were in your position she’d have that drink with me.”

“She might. She’d probably be as upset as I am now if she cared.” It broke my heart to see that there was a pale glimmer on her cheeks, running down her face now. She wasn’t acting and those were real tears.

“Give me a chance then. It makes me feel real bad to see you like this.”

“That’s because you’re a dummy.” She wiped her face with her hand. I felt some relief as I realize that she was becoming a bit more reasonable. It wasn’t a sure thing yet. I waited patiently for her to follow up after a few silent sobs, “I’ll just have a single drink and if I don’t like what you’ve got to say, I’m gone. For good.”

I got her to come with me and we sat in the kitchen. I tried to be mindful of Auntie, “Try not to be loud, I don’t want to wake her up.” Suika nodded, understanding, and I saw that her eyes were a bit red and puffy. It tugged at my heartstrings.

“I know I messed up. I shouldn’t have lied to you. It’s just that, you know how I wanted to ask Reimu something important and you might have ruined the chance. I wanted her to come to the festival with me and it was important that it was just the two of us.”

“That’s really selfish of you. It makes me a bit angry to think that you didn’t trust me. After all I did for you to help you find her in the first place.” She spoke the truth. It weighed down heavily on me. It was a big failing on my end. “I, I even said that I don’t mind sharing because that’s the way we oni are. But, I don’t know why but what you did really hurt me.” She clutched at her thin blouse, around her chest, “It feels all weird and tight around here just thinking about it. I should just be angry that a human tricked another one of us but it’s not that at all...”

I poured her the drink I promised. We never moved the stuff I was serving her in large numbers, so a missing bottle wouldn’t be obvious until a few more months down the line. Hopefully it’d be enough time for me to do some deals of my own to replace the missing stock.

“This is pretty good,” Suika admitted. She didn’t look very happy about it, “It’s not making me feel much better though. I’m sorry.”

“Don’t apologize, I’m the only one here who should be apologizing. I was a jerk.” She hadn’t been asking for anything but some respect. The kind that friends were supposed to give one another. I silently hoped that Auntie never found out about this, she would chew my ear off - and I wouldn’t expect any less really. “I promise to never lie to you again. Ever. If I do I swear that I hope bite my own tongue and die.”

“But I don’t want you to die...”

“I’m not going to, because I won’t lie to you. Not even all of the alcohol in this store is worth betraying your trust.”

“I guess I could give you another try.” She drank the contents of her cup quickly, I poured her some more. “It’s funny, but the tightness is going away. Instead it feels like there are bugs flying around in my belly. Maybe it’s because it’s so late and I’m sleepy. It gets weirder when I look at you but it’s kinda nice as well." She drank some more, “Alright Arc, I think I can trust you. Even if you were a stupid dummy once.”

She smiled and it was lovely. Even though it was pretty dark in the kitchen and there were still watery trails on her face it was lovely. I felt like this was the upbeat girl who had introduced me to so much fun again. She was even beginning to drink like that girl again, finishing off half of the bottle in record time. Even with all this it felt like it wasn’t enough to make up for hurting her. I decided that maybe I was too softhearted for my own good but having seen Suika like that, my guilty heart still ached in remorse.

[] Invite Suika to spend the night
[] Pat her on the head
[] Pilfer another bottle for her
[] Promise to buy her a treat tomorrow

(Note: you can select as many as you want but there are ‘dangers’ associated with spoiling your oni too much. That outcome is not for the diabetic, that’s for sure.)
>> No. 31062
[X] Invite Suika to spend the night
[X] Pat her on the head

Poor girl. Don't want to patronize her, though.

We'll just have to spend some time having a bunch of fun with her tomorrow.
>> No. 31064
[x] Invite Suika to spend the night.
[x] Pat her on the head.
[x] Give her something to wipe those tears away.
>> No. 31065
Nice update. I don't really feel guilty because the options that we were given we (as always are) made so that, at least, one person suffers. This is more of a character fault than ours so... let's try to patch things up for him.

[x] Pilfer another bottle for her
-[x] Promise to buy her a treat tomorrow
>> No. 31071
[x] Invite Suika to spend the night
[x] Pat her on the head.
[x] Give her something to wipe those tears away.

Leave for good? Dang, she must have been really upset.
I think she would have helped make the evening with Reimu better. Too bad we didn't apologize earlier.
>> No. 31072
[x] Invite Suika to spend the night.
[x] Pat her on the head.
[x] Give her something to wipe those tears away.
>> No. 31074
[X] Invite Suika to spend the night
[X] Pat her on the head
[X] Hang out with her tomorrow
>> No. 31077
[x] Invite Suika to spend the night.
-[x] Promise to buy her a treat tomorrow (special outing?)

>the options that we were given we (as always are) made so that, at least, one person suffers

I never actually believed this to be the case, even before the last update. In some ways we're missing small things that could have led to a different event.

Heck Arc could have very well done the same thing, "miss" Suika at the festival / spend time with Reimu exclusively, and not upset Suika. As fun-loving as Suika is she's not oblivious to Arc's interests in Reimu.

Just got to be more mindful on what's to be done for now on; especially if anon wants Arc to avoid heart-wrenching/awkward-feeling moments.
>> No. 31079
>I think she would have helped make the evening with Reimu better.

Yeah? I don't.

[x] Invite Suika to spend the night.
[x] Pilfer another bottle for her.

Clingy oni is clingy.
>> No. 31080
[X] Invite Suika to spend the night
[X] Pat her on the head
[X] Hang out with her tomorrow

Does Arc have magic lessons tomorrow?

I don't think Auntie would mind Suika spending the night, not as if she'd be sharing the bed with Arc.
>> No. 31093
[x] Pilfer another bottle for her
>> No. 31095
[x] Invite Suika to spend the night
[x]"So, Friends, right?"
[x]Hug
>> No. 31099
[x] Invite Suika to spend the night
[x]"So, Friends, right?"
[x]Hug

this is like the other options, but lovely
>> No. 31107
>>31080
>not as if she'd be sharing the bed with Arc.

You're too naive.

Arc is the best bed for little oni.
>> No. 31109
>>31065
>options [...] one person always suffers
I'm not sure you're reading the same story I'm writing.
-

“It’s late and everything, so if you want you can stay over. I can lend you something to sleep in if you want as well. Not sure if it’d fit.”

“Here’s a good a place as any to sleep. Thanks a bunch.” Suika was acting more normal now, more of the same confident girl who’d grab my hand and lead me somewhere.

“It’s settled then.” I got up, reaching across to pat her head.

“What are you doing?” She giggled. If she were a dog, her tail would be wagging I thought. She put down her glass and looked up at me.

“Just reassuring you. Auntie does the same to me. It usually annoys me a bit because she’s treating me like a kid but I can see why she does it - feels good.” I did enjoy the hair mussing and other playful antics of hers but they were always so embarrassing when she did it in public. It was something of a guilty treat.

“I have to make sure to get her to do the same to me. This is nice.”

“Come on, let’s go upstairs. Be quiet, I don’t want to make too much noise and wake her up.” I pointed to a nearby kitchen towel, gesturing that she could wipe her face if she wanted to on it. I put away the bottle of spirits and gestured for her to follow me. She followed me up, being remarkably silent. I probably made more noise on the stairs than she did. I tiptoed past Auntie’s room, stealing a peek to see if she was still sound asleep - she had shifted positions, hugging a pillow and her back was now to the door.

I rustled up a pair of old sleep clothes and handed them over to Suika. I closed my door and tried to set a space aside so she could sleep. To my lack of surprise, Suika got undressed right in front of me. “I can turn around you know, or leave the room.”

“Eh, why?” Her petite frame looked even smaller in the dim light. She took her sweet time getting dressed, finding my clothes to be all too big for her. She didn’t complain, instead ending up with very long and loose sleeves which flapped about when she moved. “We’ve taken baths together, how is this any different?”

She had me there. I wasn’t shocked nor repulsed, just conerned really. She was perhaps a bit too casual about this sort of thing and I liked to respect boundaries whenever possible. “You just do it too easily I guess. It’s not like we’re related by blood or anything.”’

“But I like you and there’s no reason to cover up who you are around people you like. That’s how we oni think.” Her explanation might just have been why she caused so many headaches for Reimu. She had no self-reserve. It was why she could live the way she did, having fun wherever she went.

“I guess that’s fine, could you turn around while I get changed though? I like having a bit of privacy.”

“Sure. If you ask me, I’ll do it. “ She turned around.

“Good girl.” I got changed quickly. I was still wearing some of my sleeping clothes underneath. When I went out I hadn’t bothered getting fully changed.

“I’ve seen your thing before if that’s what you’re worried about. It didn’t look weird to me or anything.” Suika’s unneccessary commentary made me chuckle. Her innocent-sounding voice carried no teasing malice that someone might expect in a fellow human. It made it cute instead of offensive.

“I’m not worried about that, alright? Let’s just go to sleep.” The exciting evening had taken its toll on me. I was tired, enough to just want to lay down and forget about the world.

I lay down on and covered myself. I closed my eyes and tried to forget that I was still awake. “Goodnight Suika.”

“Goodnight Arc.” She replied and I heard her moving. Scant seconds later I felt her short arms on my back.

“You have your own bed.”
“This is warmer and softer. What, do you mind?”
“My answer isn’t going to change anything, is it?”
“Probably not. Being like this makes me feel less lonely.”
“Fine, fine. Do as you please.” There was no way I could win this one. “Just don’t hit me with those horns while I’m sleeping.”
“I’ll be extra careful. Anything for you.”

Despite my weariness, Suika was the first to fall asleep. I felt her arms slacken and drop slightly across my back. Her soft and gentle breathing lulled me into a peaceful sleep.

“Breakfast is going to get cold!” Auntie’s call from downstairs roused me from my uninterrupted slumber. I stretched as I did every morning. I’d rolled up onto my back during the night.

“Hey, Suika wake up.” I tried to wake the oni up. She had done some moving of her own during the night and lay perpendicular to me, with her head on my stomach. I poked one of her horns, “Come on, wake up. I need to get downstairs.”

She awoke with a look of absolute peace, like the expression of the Buddha statue I had once seen in town. She yawned and looked around. “Bed hair, breakfast is ready. Downstairs.”

“Uh, whozzat?” She slurred her words sleepily. “Oh yeah. Good morning Arc.” She rubbed her eyes with one of the floppy sleeves and then patted down her flaxen hair. “It’s always like this in the mornings. I can’t help it.”

“See that you get yourself nice and freshened up, I’m going on ahead.” I grabbed a change of clothes and got ready in the bathroom. Auntie called out for me again just as I was descending the stairs. The smell of breakfast made me hungry all at once.

“It’s later than usual, you know. I let you sleep in.” Auntie greeted me with a impish smile.

“Thank you for your consideration, but it doesn’t look like I was the only one that slept in.” I pointed at her top. She was still wearing her pajamas. “Had one too many last night like usual?”

“Without my brave and selfless companion I had no way of controlling my self.” She smirked. That much I could believe. And this was her way of telling me that she missed me. I sat down at the table.

“By the way, Suika stayed over last night. She should be down any minute.” As I finished my sentence the small oni made her entrance. She looked much more awake now, though still looked like she was tired. She hadn’t bothered fixing her ponytail and her hair fluttered unbounded.

“Heya! Those are really cute pajamas, thanks for having me over.” She greeted Auntie casually.

“Thank you. Is there anything special you want for breakfast dear?” I was surprised at how nonchalant she was. Then again she did seem to have a soft spot for Suika. Had it been anyone else I think she would have chewed me out, or at the least teased me about it.

“No thanks, I’ll just eat whatever you’ve made already.” She sat next to me and waited for Auntie to join us before digging in.

Auntie looked hungover, though I had almost not noticed. She was only able to stomach a bit of plain rice. Probably because of that there wasn’t much talk at the table and things went by quickly. “As you know, you’ve got the day off today. Everyone is too tired from last night to buy anything.”

I helped clean up and then left, leaving Auntie free to resume her sleep. She looked like she was going to probably take it easy all day. Suika followed me silently, looking rather pleased.

“What’s up? You look happy.”
“I just slept really well. I might start coming over more often. If I’m nearby.”
“...” I could picture this being how Suika’s attachment to the shrine began. I changed the subject, “What are you going to do now?”
“I don’t know. I don’t exactly have plans today. I can play with you, right?”
“I guess, as long as you promise not to make a contest out of anything.”
“Aww... you’re just sore that you’ve lost so many times. But fine. I won’t, Promise.”

I was definitely going to go to the shrine later. In the afternoon, I decided. Reimu would likely tired from last night and potentially asleep. But beyond that, I didn’t really have any real plans. The day after the festival was always slow. People slept in and only those drafted to clean walked around, shiftless. It was a late start for me - it was barely 10 then.

[] Walk around town for a while, look at the aftermath of the festival
[] Drop in to visit Miss Keine
[] Ask Suika for suggestions
>> No. 31110
[x] Ask Suika for suggestions
This is Suika day.
>> No. 31119
[x] Ask Suika for suggestions
Makes sense. As long as it doens't involve bothering the sleeping miko, that is.
>> No. 31120
[X] Drop in to visit Miss Keine

Couldn't hurt seeing as how Arc and Keine rarely talk these days. It's good to keep up with contacts that actually enjoy your presence. Shouldn't be too long and it'd give Suika another perspective on Arc.
>> No. 31124
[x] Ask Suika for suggestions
>> No. 31126
>>31120

Well, I agree - but this is CYOA timeframes, it hasn't been that long at all.

[X] Drop in to visit Miss Keine
[X] Ask Suika for suggestions
>> No. 31134
[x] Drop in to visit Miss Keine.

We didn't dance with her last night, why not drop by and say "hi".
>> No. 31138
[x] Drop in to visit Miss Keine.
>> No. 31139
[X] Drop in to visit Miss Keine
[X] Ask Suika for suggestions
>> No. 31142
[X] Drop in to visit Miss Keine
[X] Ask Suika for suggestions

Not much to say. Great update.
>> No. 31143
[X] Ask Suika for suggestions

I kinda feel that, while not completely exclusive, these options seem to hamper each other.
>> No. 31144
[x] Ask Suika for suggestions
>> No. 31151
No updates for now. Maybe the day. Can't explain it better than I'm a bit turned off from writing.
>> No. 31158
File 127758725240.jpg- (13.67KB , 111x113 , anotheroneconverted.jpg ) [iqdb]
31158
>It usually annoys me a bit because she’s treating me like a kid but I can see why she does it - feels good

This feeling sure feels...familiar.
>> No. 31162
File 127759313272.jpg- (212.68KB , 1200x848 , de0088d1c287fd2fd4ec89523e174e24.jpg ) [iqdb]
31162
[X] Ask Suika for suggestions
>> No. 31167
[X] Drop in to visit Miss Keine
>> No. 31181
File 127768205055.png- (249.35KB , 438x438 , suika-gentleman.png ) [iqdb]
31181
>>31162
>> No. 31272
File 127811258588.jpg- (260.40KB , 600x875 , 1278111919250.jpg ) [iqdb]
31272
Posting in hopes for updates.
>> No. 31273
File 127812897383.jpg- (14.31KB , 424x384 , Bowl_of_chicken_soup.jpg ) [iqdb]
31273
>>31272
>> No. 31274
File 127818219965.jpg- (34.67KB , 150x150 , shirou.jpg ) [iqdb]
31274
>>31273

You've lost me
>> No. 31279
File 127820113735.jpg- (163.09KB , 800x564 , 1277845971690.jpg ) [iqdb]
31279
>>31272
>> No. 31302
>>31279
Must have source
>> No. 31314
>>31302
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6RzIqq7DVQU
>> No. 31387
As you should be able to guess from the lack of updates, things aren't going well. Mainly because I still don't feel good about this. This might not be better news than no news but it's the truth.
>> No. 31392
>>31387
Feel free to take as long as you need.
>> No. 31406
>>31392
Honestly, more time isn't going to make me suddenly write. Even real enthusiasm from my part doesn't offset how down every attempt to move on with this makes me.
>> No. 31417
>>31406
Curiously what's depressing you exactly?

Anon's voting trends/reasoning?
The general plot you had in mind if any?
lost of interest with strange senses of a completionist?

Is there anything that can be done by anon or is it just personal like health issues/real life issues ect?
>> No. 31423
>>31417
It's not lack of adherence to plot nor something about not feeling that this isn't the best story I can make it (it isn't, but I'm a realist and compromise). It's unfair to unilaterally blame anon, especially since there are those who are legitimately trying. I'm thankful for them.

I don't know how to explain it other than it's the little things. Sometimes it may be a bit of faulty reasoning that gets carried to the extreme. Other times it's the feeling of lack of accomplishment I get when people seemingly overlook the little bits of something extra special I put in to most updates (mannerisms, references and other godies - example Minoriko and the running motif behind a series of metaphors and how they add to the scene). It doesn't bother me that there's no deep analysis - on the contrary, that'd be tedious - it bothers me that no one brings these things up ever. Every once in a while would be nice. It's the same with comments like 'nice update' or 'I enjoyed that'. That's lovely, but maybe add a second sentence occasionally so I get a little bit more feedback? It feels good to be getting through, to be involved.

Yeah, I'm nitpicking here, but I honestly do enjoy writing this and I do enjoy the story that I've thought up. I don't mind if I get few votes as long as some of them sometimes contribute a little something beyond just the vote and if those people bother to check more than once in a blue moon. This is meant to be a fast story and it does bother me to have to pause needlessly to wait for people to think and vote. Again, I want to make things as enjoyable as possible. It's that inability that gets me down and makes me not write.
>> No. 31514
>>31423

You want feedback? Here it is:

Your story is really enjoyable, and I enjoy reading it. My main issue with it? You. You are the problem. You are pretty much the ONLY problem. You incessantly bitch and moan about your voters/readers, go on completely random hiatuses and somehow expect people to follow your story religiously despite that. Oh, and then you blame your readers for not magically knowing when to check your story, despite your shitty track record.

Let me put it this way: You are a flight risk. You complain so much and stop your story so much that you've pretty much guaranteed that you aren't going to get the attention to this story that you want. I for one and sick of being dicked around. Going on hiatus is one thing, but constantly talking about just abandoning the story is another thing entirely. To be frank, you aren't going to finish this story. We already know this.

Why should I, or any other reader for that matter, spend months reading this and getting attached to your story if you are going to just abandon it? To put it bluntly, we shouldn't. We've had too many amazing stories die off, and its like a hope cave-in when that happens.

And to top it all off, you seem to think you are somehow entitled to more votes and discussions than other more consistent (and better) stories get.

You sir, disgust me. You can count me out. Your story is good, but not worth this shit.

Oh, and if you want advice for the future, here it is. When you write a story that is designed to be fast paced, the worst possible thing you can do is slow down. You only sabotaged yourself, and you only have yourself to blame. You got more attention than you deserved, and if you cant work with that, you really don't belong here. Second bit of advice: Don't blame your readers for lack of votes. If you don't have enough votes, but feel like writing, just fucking move on and write.

Here's hoping I'm wrong and six months down the line I check this story again to find it complete. But I highly doubt it.
>> No. 31519
>>31514
I'd have to disagree that I'm the only problem here when the only time it seems I get something more than the passing platitude is when there are overreacting posts such as yours. I'm sorry you feel jerked around but I very much doubt that you would like to hear about the million and one real life issues that keep me from focusing, nor how I've at times written thousands of words just to file it away out of insecurity about the reception it would get here. For the record, I have not constantly threatened to quit, nor made any mention of giving up since the conversations I had with the readers months ago.

I may have my shortcomings as a person and a writer. But I can't count a sense of entitlement amongst them. I've talked of a reciprocal relationship between writer and reader and I continue to believe that. Though I doubt you will, I suggest that you take a look at the posts I've made (even in this thread) and you'll see that I am committed to trying my best and just wish to make things the best they can be. I have written consistently on occasion, for long stretches of time - and my recent attempts have been about a week or two of constant effort before stepping back. It's never my plan to turn something that should be brief into a protracted struggle but, to be honest, if I had decided to update every 4 hours I would only get 2-3 votes each time. It's about having most of the people who care to read onboard.

Maybe my story isn't that good, maybe it deserves no attention, maybe a lot of other stories are better and deserve more attention and maybe I am a whiny little bitch. That all pales in comparison to my message to you: Fuck you. My heart bleeds because you don't want to get attached for fear of abandonment or feel that one writer too many has betrayed your precious trust. Instead of trying to do something constructive about it you would rather harp on how I'm the scum of the earth and I disgust you. Let me assure you that I'm much more repulsed at the moment.

Don't bother reading this "six months down the line". I won't care then more than I care right now about what you think. This story is written for those who participate in it, and for no one else. Much less for those like you who would rather abandon than meet me halfway.

For everyone else: I'm sorry about this and the eyesore of a post I am replying to. I have been struggling to go on but have been looking for some sort of push. Waiting idiotically mostly, occasionally penning thoughts and discarding a lot of what I do. Don't know what else to say.
>> No. 31522
>>31521
Go away YAF. I've been around here for as long or longer than you have, definitely more consistently, and I really don't care for you. Personal feelings aside: I don't post impertinent shit in your threads, and I'd appreciate it if you didn't do so in mine. Especially given you're not a reader and can contribute nothing here.

I'll add to my previous post: I write on this site because it's a fun pastime. I have no pretensions of anything else. I want to create the best experience possible and it all ties in to that and when either side in the writer-reader dynamic is not completely fulfilled.
>> No. 31524
>>31522
Actually YAF made several good points, and you made one pretty critical error: YAF has been on the site since the very beginning, so your claim that you've been here longer is both incorrect AND swinging your balls around pretty arrogantly.
>> No. 31525
>>31524
Perhaps you're not sure what "as long or longer" means. I don't know when each and every person came to this site, but I've been here from the beginning so I haven't said anything not factual. In addition to that what YAF said is a generalized cookie-cutter response that doesn't apply here. I very much don't wish for unsolicited advice about what the site population is like - I know, because I have been part of it all for over 2 years now. Nor him telling me that the site is not for fame. This coming not only from a person with a history of ego issues but also incapable of not posting without making sure people know who he is.

The only thing he got right regarding this situation was not bumping the thread. Please don't you bump it either. If you want to critique me for something, go ahead, I don't mind as long as it's appropriate. This means anything in the story or that I've actually done. Let's not go off into tangents wildly, I don't want to shit up the thread further.
>> No. 31526
>>31522
Hard to tell with the shows you put on. As much as a pompous faggot that YAF is, he might have shed light on why Anon these days aren't the most talkative for the most part. That and the whole "I'm not getting tons of attention so I'm going on Hiatus AGAIN" thing. That being on top of a slice of life story doesn't exactly do any favors to the mood of the readers. Folks don't like commenting a great deal if they think the author will go quit/on hiatus in a fit of depression.

Even Klayman and his Phobe stories (regarded as the best Slice of Life) doesn't get much in the way of comments.

Anon these days only speak when something affects them strongly enjoy (enjoyment or rage); Slice of Life by its nature never inspires remarkable reactions (Joy,laughter,etc)

>>31514 Was right in some ways, mainly that your attitude is easily the most negative thing about this story. And how you use the word "platitude" reeks of both attention seeking and pretentiousness, rivaling that of modern YAF. Maybe with a better attitude, readers will be more willing to sing praises, not forced to make up comments lest you drop this story in a fit of depression.
>> No. 31529
> That all pales in comparison to my message to you: Fuck you. My heart bleeds because you don't want to get attached for fear of abandonment or feel that one writer too many has betrayed your precious trust. Instead of trying to do something constructive about it you would rather harp on how I'm the scum of the earth and I disgust you. Let me assure you that I'm much more repulsed at the moment.

Again, why should we even bother reading something you're just going to abandon? Would you go to a movie theater and pay a movie that is half finished? Heck, would you even do it if it was offered for free? Would you really be happy with nagging questions that would never be answered and a plot that will never be resolved?

Ask around. Nothing kills a reader's motivation to read new stories than having one they were enjoying just fucking die off out of nowhere. Do you think its really healthy for the site to almost never have any completed stories? We barely put up with it from normal writers. But you know what? At least those writers don't usually try to shift the blame onto us.

Let me put this bluntly: You have not earned the "reciprocal relationship" you are talking about. Or at the very least, you have not earned the right to whine about it yet. It is important to have discussion, yes, but you can hardly expect there to BE discussion when you start and stop the story so often that it takes me weeks to even realize you started it back up! And again, it wouldn't be so bad if you were just putting the story on hiatus, but how many times have you talked about just quitting now? In fact, as I recall, you DID quit at least once.

That kind of shit doesn't fly. By doing so you violate your trust with the readers.

Besides, as others have said, this is a relaxed story. Of course we aren't going to speak up a lot. There aren't that many things we really need to discuss. If someone votes for something, you need to take that as "we think this is a good idea" or "this is where we want the story to go" because that is what voting fucking represents in the first place.

If you want more specific discussion besides that, then directly ASK us. But please do not expect us try reading deeply into a story where we are supposed to be taking it relatively easy.

> For the record, I have not constantly threatened to quit, nor made any mention of giving up since the conversations I had with the readers months ago.

Before the conversations you mentioned, you repeatedly threatened to quit, or at least alluded to it. Even in the post I was replying to, you seemed to basically be saying you weren't sure if you were going to be continuing this. And of course most your reasons were reader related reasons. Can you not see how this might get irritating after a while?

Its like you go a while making a story thats enjoyable AND one that I would look forwards to reading. But then one day I check the thread and find something like this which comes up as a red flag that yet again the story is in peril. And to rub salt in the wound I find you whining about that shit, making it seem like you have it so bad? Jesus.

> I'm sorry you feel jerked around but I very much doubt that you would like to hear about the million and one real life issues that keep me from focusing, nor how I've at times written thousands of words just to file it away out of insecurity about the reception it would get here.

Actually yes, I would like to hear. If you are having problems, communicating that to your readers will help let them know that its less a case of you being completely flaky and prone to dropping the story like a rock, and perhaps that you just have to deal with the same shit everyone else does. Communication is key in a format such as this, especially when you are the one demanding better communication in the first place.

Besides, don't even get me started on real life issues. I've literally just lost everything in my life. Unless you are currently dying, like, right now, you do not have it worse. Don't go thinking you're the only one that is going through tough times. If you want someone to whine to about it, you'll find that as long as you aren't an attention seeking whore, we'll usually be pretty responsive to it. I mean, this is a site filled with people that read Touhou fanfiction. You can be certain there will be people in horrible situations like me that will sympathize with you.

I'm honestly in a better mood than I was when I first replied to you, so I'll go a step further, and give you more in depth advice.

You dug yourself into a hole with your antics throughout the story. You're going to have to accept this. Its likely that some people might not even know the story resumed at all, or there may be people that already said "this shit ain't worth it" and already jumped ship on you. The last thing you want to do is alienate people further by leaving them questioning whether sticking with you was a good choice.

I replied about two weeks after you had made that last message. During that time, you could have kept us updated, started a discussion on whatever story elements you thought needed discussing, or whatever the hell else. Even a simple "still not dead" would be sufficient.

The particular brand of communication you seek isn't very hard to achieve, but it will require some patience and effort on your part. You're going to have to tough it out until people feel confident enough that you aren't going to jump ship to actually invest effort. Each time you make us worry, it basically resets all the progress you made back to zero, and we will pretty much just go into wait mode. Or quit on you entirely.

If you really need discussion, you need to give us things to discuss. So far there hasn't really been much in the story that needed much discussion. If we have a chance to go for a scene with Reimu, for instance, we'll go for that. The vote itself shows what we want to do. The magic thing was the sort of thing that sparks debates. But doing such a thing constantly would be counter productive. Instead, you need to be giving us small dilemmas. Actual choices, instead of voting opportunities, sprinkled around. Give us two mutually exclusive options where we would conceivably want to do both very badly. That will spark debate. That is one of the reasons route splits cause such shitstorms discussions sometimes.

Just keep in mind that with a slow update schedule that a lot of time will pass between updates (goes without saying). What doesn't go without saying is that during this time span of a few weeks, only a couple minutes to hours worth of story will happen, usually within that time nothing that needs to be discussed will happen. I can see how this would get frustrating for you if it takes you a month to get the story to a point where you can have the discussion you want. The only solution here is pretty much just to go faster. Its not really a perfect solution, and I know its not easy. But its the sad truth. If we don't have material to work with, we simply can't do anything.

Think of it as swimming from one pocket of air to another. Take too long between them and you'll drown.

And finally, if you don't know where to go with things, or have something you want us to discuss, you could always just ask us what we think of something directly. There's nothing wrong with doing that just as long as its done sparingly.

Your attitude toward me is justified since I obviously had a bad attitude toward you. However, you might want to re-read what YAF said, and not dismiss it as nonsense. It applies pretty well to what happened here. And sometimes "generic" advice is the best kind. The kind you should be taking.
>> No. 31531
>>31529
You may be reading too much into things which aren't really there. Even when I complained in >>31423 I was upbeat about the story (in particular the last paragraph). You may interpret things as flakiness and such but I think I've sent just the opposite message. There will never be a guarantee that anything on this site will ever be finished. That's the way it is. People move on, lose interest, or things just happen. If you're going to assume the worst, then it's not worth reading anything. I don't think that I could be any more explicit in my interest. Seriously, read over some of the non-update posts I've made. I've said that I care, that I like writing this and other similar things. That's just about the best guarantee you'll get over the internet. See everything as an ill-omen instead? Can't help you there.

I don't have to "earn" a reciprocal relationship. It's a fact. I write, you vote. It's the way it works. You may vote more when there's faster updates (or sometimes not) and I may write faster if I get faster votes. You may say something because you want to interact with peers and I may pick up on it and use it as inspiration or motivation. Or maybe not. Fact is, whatever I do and whatever the reader does is interconnected.

It's not my place either to demand forced discussion. As I've stated time and time again, it's not what I'd like either. Hell, I don't even care if I were to get only a handful of votes either. It's genuinely nice to feel that I have engaged readers, and if that means adding something beyond "great update" to show it once in a while then I'd say I want that. Or maybe not taking choices lightly or whatever. Point is, it's the little things that make things more fun. Just like I'm sure that it's the attention to detail and effort I put in that makes this enjoyable to some people. Again, it's not something to be earned, it's something that exists and is best fostered for mutual benefit.

This story doesn't have an intricate plot. Nor does it even boast layers upon layers of symbolism. It does have several motifs though. And themes. And characters I try to make as unflat as possible. Oh, and the occasional reference to one of the games, another story, or something else. It's these things that can be talked about, especially as they change and develop throughout the story. Perhaps not deep character analysis but maybe the occasional spare thought given to motivation behind a particular action. It helps move things along too if you consider this stuff sometimes.

It's interesting that you bring up my silence. Yes, I could have said that I was still here. Though I would have rather just posted eventually with a "stuff will be done soon" rather than being empty handed. Regardless, silence goes both ways. What do you want me to say? It's unsettling how things die down so quickly all the time. Small thing? Yup. But I'm sure you'll agree that in my case it would have made a difference if I had said something. I can't help but feel the same way about the readers sometimes. A bit unfair, sure. I'm just telling you how I feel about it, just like my other posts. I don't see it so much as whining as being level but I suppose it comes off that way nonetheless.

Everyone here has real life issues. Don't ever forget that. It's not worth going into. Both readers and writers are only just human after all. Contrary to certain rumors, we are not all automatons just yet.

>Give us two mutually exclusive options where we would conceivably want to do both very badly.
I will seldom (don't want to say never) give two polarizing choices. The same thing with blatant route splitting. It's counter productive and this isn't that kind of story. All choices are there for a reason and they most often all lead to different outcomes or variations of outcomes. There isn't always a con to a choice, but there almost always is a pro. Someone intelligent enough to follow the story should be capable of telling that choices aren't there just for decoration.

I'm sorry but I won't act on the bulk of your advice. I don't care about those that have jumped ship (their loss), I won't be altering the type of story this is (with the choices) and I'll only guarantee something beyond just week or two of updates if I can get a consistently good vibe going on. It was like that in the beginning. Does this mean that I have my head stuck up my own ass? Probably. For as long as I continue to write though I will try keeping to make things more enjoyable for both parties. Idiocy, naivety or pigheadedness - doesn't matter what it seems like. Just the way things are.

I hope I've made my position clearer though. Won't ask you to believe in me but if it counts for anything I've only ever tried to be candid. I am (as ever) earnest. Please look at the older discussion posts if you have any doubts of what I think or intend to do.

I think I've addressed what you've said here, though I didn't do it in sequential order. I won't take back what I said since I don't take kindly to hostility coming from out of the blue. I will, however, thank you for being civil this time around. I'll always be civil (and reply) if engaged in a positive way.

As for YAF: please drop it. I don't wish to validate him in any way at any time. I don't wish to badmouth or even talk about him or anything he may have said. He may have spoken general truths, but I'm dealing with very specific things here. I've said that it doesn't apply and though it probably seems arrogant of me, I won't go back on that position. Same as to attempting to engage wiseman yet again. I'm done tilting at that windmill. For good.
>> No. 31536
...Wow. Oh wow.

I've looked over this story a number of times and thought about how I should try reading it some time, but you, Mr. Writefag, have convinced me that it isn't worth reading at all. If you seriously have this shitty, whiny attitude of yours about your story... Well, I doubt I'd enjoy any merit of writing past all of your pretentious shit. Seriously, I don't see how you even have readers anymore.

I mean really, goddamn.
>> No. 31538
>>31536
Gtfo.
Don't shit all over the writer of a story you don't even read. Pull your pants up.

As for the author, every time I read your comments on an update or otherwise, I always get the vibe that nothing is good enough. Your tone doesn't inspire us to hope, it usually drags down my spirit. When I read an update, I get excited, but if I see some comment of yours complaining or whatever, it usually robs that enthusiasm. I'll discuss and get excited, but that is usually directly proportionate to what I see from you.

This story is worth it. As long as you keep writing, I'll keep voting. Carry on.
>> No. 31540
>>31538
I can see how it seems how nothing is ever good enough. I'm sorry about that. I truly am. It's not the case. I'm constantly trying to improve and deliver something nice. Perhaps it's because I'm forward, perhaps because I try to be critical in order to grow. Whatever it is please don't confuse suggestion for unsatisfied demands. Like I said, I enjoy doing this and the reason we've gotten this far is because of you as well.

Let me let you in on a little secret: when I mentioned earlier that I've ditched updates and other writings over insecurities, I wasn't referring to insecurities over whether or not I would continue. Far from it. These are insecurities born from wanting to keep the audience engaged and not sure if I've succeeded there. Votes usually are a good indicator but not the final measure.

People here say I'm whining, and that may be true. But regardless I am soldiering on and continuing, aren't I? Or at the very least intend to. It's not like I raise concerns at every possible instant (well I try to say it once and leave it - I've come back to it because people asked and engaged me about it).

Again, sorry for not inspiring you to more. There's no ill-will or conscious attempt to bring anyone down though. It's just genuine concern and interest in the story that comes off wrong.

>>31536
I'd appreciate it if you didn't post. I frankly don't care if you don't read this. Either you take the plunge and move past your assumptions that I'm a pretentious prick and that I'm constantly whining and enjoy things or you learn to keep your mouth shut and move on. I can assure you that I'll be able to deal with this story either way.
>> No. 31551
>>31531
>>31529 here

Its fine if you don't act on the advice I gave, as long as you are aware of it, and the general attitude that your posts tend to exude. Thats all I'll say on the matter.

I won't be reading, mostly due to circumstances beyond my control. Best of luck with the story.

In before I come back a year down the road to find that Arc has completed the fabled harem route
>> No. 31553
>>31531
I'm genuinely curious (despite how fantastically flippant this may sound) but I'm quite curious about anything we/Anonymous may have touched upon that fall into the category of
>Oh, and the occasional reference to one of the games, another story, or something else. It's these things that can be talked about, especially as they change and develop throughout the story. Perhaps not deep character analysis but maybe the occasional spare thought given to motivation behind a particular action.

Alice and her new 'partnership' with Arc and Reimu's general un-frostiness in regard to the festival are the only things that come to mind. We haven't seen Mima or Sanae in forever, Marisa simply has not changed, Keine only just showed up, and I'm still wondering what developments with Suika we can/cannot attribute to the time skip (though the last update did help, but didn't do much in the way of explaining how Suika's horned scalp fit its way into Arc's attire without adding some additional seams.) Your habit of leaving out who is speaking for extended periods of dialog doesn't help, FYI.
>> No. 31560
I want to say something here, but I'm not sure what. You say you want to continue writing this, but have lately just been posting walls of discourse. You say you want more than just a vote and two words of appreciation, but you're not posting any updates to garner this. I want to say something to snap you out of your funk, but I just don't know how to do it.

I would never drop this story (barring an epic shark-jump), but it's getting a little hard to retain interest in it with nothing from the writer in over a month besides depression posts. In before you're not depressed. This story is certainly in a depression.
>> No. 31563
>>31560
Well, it's only proper to reply when people directly address me. It's not like I've been completely idle since the last update. Difficulties and other dime a dozen excuses are applicable. It'll just be a little while yet. Maybe if I clear my schedule and mind, it'll be sooner rather than later. I'm acutely aware how not having updates does not move things along. Also, were I depressed or posting depressive posts, I'd say that everything was fucked and there was no helping it instead of spending time trying to be positive and conciliatory. There is a rather coarse line between the two and the latter doesn't fall under the category of bitching.

>>31553
>Suika's horned scalp fit its way into Arc's attire
Buttons, I presume. Or maybe Arc had planned for the day and gone ahead and customized a shirt. But then that would bring into question his motives, wouldn't it?

When the speaker is omitted, almost always (Can't think of the exception), the speaking order remains the same as established earlier. So A->B->A->etc. If there's a change, it's explicit. Sorry if it's confusing, I'll try to be more mindful about it in the future. But well, for quick banter and dialog a rapid back and forth without interruption tends to give the impression to the reader that it is indeed conversation with little pause.
>> No. 31574
> Sorry if it's confusing, I'll try to be more mindful about it in the future.

Not who you're replying to, but at least you don't do it how Zun does in CoLA. In that sometimes three people are speaking, with almost no indicators, and occasionally swapping orders. Shit is confusing as hell in parts. Still very enjoyable, though.
>> No. 31616
>>31574
That style of dialogue is much more common and understandable in Japanese writing, where a person's style of speech alone is often enough to identify them. Competent translators would add dialogue tags in cases where this information doesn't make it to English, but we don't have very many of those doing Touhou scanlations.
>> No. 31734
File 128145437284.jpg- (289.09KB , 742x830 , oni are all smile.jpg ) [iqdb]
31734
“Oh, is this someone you also love Arc?” Suika delivered the comment with no hint of malicious teasing. It was as if she were asking what the time was.

“She’s special to me,” I avoided giving a straight reply and kept on walking. There wasn’t a better way to answer that, I thought. At that point in my life I wasn’t sure entirely what love was. If it was what I felt for Miss Keine or Auntie then it probably really was a good thing to feel.

“More special than me?” She looked up at me with doe-like eyes. Those eyes were easy to lose myself in. I almost stumbled more than once.

“I don’t know. Everyone is different,” I impulsively pat her on the head, mussing her still-messy hair. I gave her a heartfelt smile, “You’re pretty special though. I wouldn’t do all the things that I do with you otherwise.”

“Good to hear it,” Her face beamed with a bright smile and she latched onto my arm and began to hum a cheerful little tune.

“Watch the horns,” It was a nice moment and all but it wasn’t exactly comfortable to have those things poking into my sides. We walked along for a while, passing the occasional townsperson. I was sure that most of them knew who I was and I wondered what they thought of seeing me like that. I had to admit, Suika was adorable right then. A bright-eyed young girl who didn’t have a single care in the world. If it weren’t for the horns she might have passed off as my little sister or, depending on differing tastes, my smitten lover.

I couldn’t get her to let go even when I needed my hand to knock on the door. I used the other hand and couldn’t bring myself to complain about something so trivial. There was no reply for a good five minutes and I knocked again to make sure there was no one home. The door opened just as I was about to go.

“Yes...?” Keine opened the door with a muted yawn. Her hair was even more frazzled than Suika’s had been earlier and she was in her sleeping clothes. She rubbed her eyes and looked at us, a recognition slowly washed over her, “Oh, hello, what brings you here? Oh, where are my manners? Do come in. I’ll make us some tea.”

We sat in the small sitting room at the heart of the cozy house. Piles of scrolls and books crowded the available seating space. Keine went off to make tea, leaving Suika and I all alone in there. I would have never expected her home to be so... unkempt. Even if she usually dressed simply she had an air of being impeccably neat in all affairs. At school she was good at organizing our things and making us clean up after ourselves.

“Hey, I can see why you think she’s so special. She has pretty big ones,” My clingy oni companion whispered an inappropriate remark. “I won’t say I’m jealous, but even I feel like playing around with them.”

She was, of course, saying that because of Miss Keine’s slovenly appearance. I had pretended not to notice but several of the buttons on her top were undone... and there was nothing blocking the view. It made me shuffle around uncomfortably, and I tried not to think about my wonderful former teacher in that way. It made me uncomfortable when the guys had talked about it in school back then and it still made me feel the same way. I silently prayed that by the time she got back she would realize that she needed to close up. Otherwise Suika might actually bring the subject up and I wouldn’t know what to do.

“It’s not because of that that I think she’s special,” I started but then had second thoughts, “You know what? We can talk about this later,” I hoped to never bring it up with her again. “Well, try not to make a fuss. I don’t want her thinking I’m a pervert.”

“Oh, trust me. You’re not a pervert. I mean, you like me right?”

I failed to see how her logic worked. Before I could think of a follow up, Miss Keine returned with tea. She had also luckily done up her shirt and was looking a slight bit more awake.

“I’m sorry to intrude on you like this Miss Keine. I didn’t know that you were still asleep,” I bowed apologetically.

“Nonsense, no need to feel sorry about it. You’re more than welcome to stop by here anytime.” Keine smiled and poured the tea. She did some apologizing of her own, “Sorry about the mess. I was just getting myself organized before tonight. I’ll be very busy doing work then.”

“Tonight? Why are you working at night instead of drinking and having fun big sis?” Suika fired away like there was established intimacy between the three of us already.

“It’s just something I do about every month,” Miss Keine replied, looking a bit confused at being called ‘big sis’ by the oni.

I felt that perhaps something was missing here. I tried to fix that, “I’m sorry Miss Keine, this is my friend Suika in case you don’t know her. She’s tagging along with me today.”

“Oh, I know her. It’s curious to see her around these parts though,” She took a sip of her tea, letting the meaning of her words soak through to me.

“I love Arc and spending time with him, so I’ll go anywhere he goes,” The oni happily explained. She clung to my arm again, rubbing up against me like a very pleased cat to the legs of her owner.

“Well, isn’t that nice for you. I suppose this is whom your aunt was talking about last we chatted,” She said mostly to herself. It looked like she was curious about something, but refrained from asking. Instead she posed another question, “So did you have fun at the festival? Your friend get back home safely?”

“Yes, she did. And we had fun. I didn’t see you for the rest of the evening though, did you also enjoy yourself Miss Keine?” I drank a bit of my tea, savoring it.

“Yes, I always have fun at these things. I met up with a friend and we drank the rest of the night away. It was a pity because I was planning on asking you for a dance. I mean, you’ve grown up quite a bit since the last time.” She made me recall the fact that we had, in fact, danced once before. It had been only two or three years ago, but it seemed like a whole lifetime had passed since then. I was nervous but she was forgiving and patient. It was in preparation for another festival, she showed the class how the dance was traditionally done. I was her partner and I remember blushing myself beet red as everyone stared at us in the classroom.

“Ah~ I kinda wanted to dance with Arc too. Sounds like it would be very fun.” Suika rubbed her cheek against my shoulder.

“Oh it was a lot of fun for me last time. He’s quite good at it,” Miss Keine gave me a favorable review, “I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s the best dancer of his generation. He’s got really agile feet and good coordination.”

“Oh please, you’re embarrassing me. I’m not very good. I tend to stumble a lot.” And that was true. I wasn’t very confident about my skills.

“I want to see for myself. Next time we have a party, you’re so dancing with me,” Suika let go of my arm and swayed her upper body as if she were dancing along to a lively tune. In her mind we were probably drinking heavily and dancing surrounded by everyone else.

Miss Keine giggled.

“It looks like you two are very close. That makes me happy,” She looked at me with motherly affection, “I often worried that you kept your distance from others at school. I thought that maybe you were scared of getting close to people, but it looks like I was wrong.”

“Ahaha~” Suika burst out laughing all of a sudden, “Hey, big sis, it sounds to me like you’d like to get close to him as well. I don’t mind, whatever makes him happy.”

“I’m sorry, I’m not sure I follow-” Miss Keine tried to play dumb. But I saw something I hadn’t ever really seen before: she was blushing as if being teased. For a brief moment before she regained composure I saw her in a completely different way - a girl only a few years older than me who wasn’t always the respected authority figure that I usually saw her as.

“Suika, don’t create misunderstandings,” I scolded the oni, giving my vulnerable teacher a break. She laughed, looking highly pleased with herself for bringing the topic up. I knew that she wasn’t trying to be a smart ass and that she actually truly believed that being happy meant sharing yourself with everyone you cared about. She was honest in that regard.

“Well, well. It looks like I should make us some more tea,” Miss Keine excused herself even though there was plenty left in the tea bowl. I looked at Suika with a gaze that told her to cut it out and she simply told me to take it easy.

Eventually Miss Keine returned with some more tea. She left soon enough, excusing herself to get dressed. Suika again made an inappropriate suggestion, “Hey Arc, do you want to go peep on her? I really want to see those things again. They were different than Yuugi’s but good as well.”

“I’m not going to do that. It’s not right. She’d think I was the lowest of the low if she caught me as well.” I thought I put it rather clearly for her to understand.

“Bah. I know you’re curious as well, even though you pretend not to care,” She smiled knowingly, “I wonder if you’d do it if it were Reimu? I mean, I know you’ve seen me and I’m cute and all and I’m happy with that but sometimes I worry about you. Loving people is all about wanting to getting to know them better and having fun with them. I bet if you went up to your teacher and hugged her from behind as she were changing, she’d be really really happy. And then you could have a firsthand experience with those things. Sounds good, right?”

I sighed, “It’s not as simple as that.” All sorts of inappropriate thoughts filled my mind but I still tried to explain to her that things weren’t like that, “She probably wouldn’t feel it’s appropriate. I mean, I don’t. I know you think we should all just be upfront about everything but sometimes people like to not do that. It’s just the way things are.”

“That’s boring. If you took my advice, you’d be way happier with your life. Like I am with my own.”

“Sorry that took so long,” Miss Keine returned wearing her normal day-to-day clothes, “I’m sorry for being a poor hostess. Can I get you anything to eat?”

“No thank you, we’re alright. Don’t worry yourself please, I’m more than satisfied just by being here.” Those manners were drilled into me from a young age. And for better or worse, I stuck to them in the majority of situations.

“Well alright, but I really don’t mind fixing something up for you. I always had hoped that one day you would pop in here for a while. You always were one of my favorite students,” She confided with a sheepish smile.

“I told you she liked you,” Suika whispered rather loudly in my ear, “You should go for it. I don’t mind joining in if you feel up to it.”

I nudged her away, muttering for her to shut up. It looked like Miss Keine hadn’t heard what she said. That was good.

“Geez, I don’t know what to say,” I smiled at Miss Keine, “I feel really lucky to hear that.”

“Hey, Miss Big Sis Teacher, I’ve got a great idea!” Suika piped in excitedly. I elbowed her gently hoping she wasn’t going to say anything too stupid. Her eyes twinkled, “But before I say it, could I please have a snack, I haven’t had anything all morning.”

“Well sure I suppose,” Miss Keine looked puzzled. She tilted her head quizzically at Suika but all the same went off into the kitchen to get a snack.

The oni had a wide grin on her face. And she hadn’t even been drinking. I felt a little apprehension at what was coming. She leaned in close, whispering a little softer this time, “I think you should invite her to spend the day with us. Tell her to come with us to the shrine and elsewhere, I bet she’d love to.”

“What are you talking about, I don’t think she’d enjoy that. She’d probably think she was in the way of something with the way you’re behaving.” Furthermore, I didn’t know what else Suika was capable of pulling. For all I knew this would end in another hastily-organized party. I wasn’t sure that I wanted to expose Miss Keine to that sort of environment.

“No, trust me on this one. It’ll be lots of fun for us. She’ll have a good time as well. I can tell that she wants to spend more time with you, I mean you heard how she thinks you’re her favorite student and all.” I was going to point out the difference between her statement and Miss Keine’s but decided against it. The excited oni continued, explaining her unassailable logic, “She doesn’t know how to ask so it’s up to you to invite her to something. I mean you like her and all, so what’s the big deal anyways?”

“I don’t know, I mean-” I was interrupted as Miss Keine came back with a small tray with crackers.

“If you’ll give me a moment I can make something better than crackers...” She began.

“No, don’t bother, I’m fine with these,” Suika said politely. Her attitude had taken a quick reversal from earlier. She was behaving and chose her words carefully. It was like watching anyone other than her ask something nicely, “Well I thought that since you two had some history it might be nice if you did something together. Isn’t that right, Arc?”

“Well, I’m having a swell time just being here,” I smiled and said to the confused-looking Keine. She looked like she wasn’t quite following where things were going. Suika nudged me slightly, whispering that her eyes were sparkling and I should go for it.

“Am I boring you? Please feel free to go if that’s the case, I’m just happy seeing you. But if that’s not the case, feel free to stay as long as you like,” Keine covered her bases, trying to be the best hostess possible. I couldn’t tell what she was thinking at all. Nor what Suika was thinking for that matter.

[] Be polite and stay for a little while longer
[] Ask her to spend the day with you
>> No. 31735
File 128146315816.jpg- (18.29KB , 381x338 , fuck yeah.jpg ) [iqdb]
31735
[X] Ask her to spend the day with you

What's the worst that could happen?
>> No. 31737
[x] Ask her to spend the day with you.

Updates like this are why I read this story.
I'm happy to see plenty of quality oni-time. Your Suika has such a dynamic personality.

It's a shame that we missed the chance to dance with Keine during the festival. We should definitely take Suika's advice and ask the schoolmarm to spend the day with us. Especially if character routes aren't a concern.
>> No. 31738
[x] Ask her to spend the day with you

I like serious stories, but stories where we take it easy like this are what makes the site for me.

More Keine time. Suika is pretty good at convincing people. Well, this COULD end up with Keine feeling like a third wheel like Arc thinks, but Keine wanted to spend more time with Arc anyway and Suika just has to not be so clingy to him. Suika seems to have thought this through pretty well, so I doubt she will make such an obvious blunder.
>> No. 31739
[X] Ask her to spend the day with you.

>>31737
>It's a shame that we missed the chance to dance with Keine during the festival

Maybe not till another festival comes around but it couldn't hurt if Arc manages to make time to take up lessons once again with her.

More importantly I didn't actually realize how much of a loner Arc had been; at least not till this update.

This anon assumed Arc may have had friends at one point but became real busy with running the business with dear Auntie thus becoming rather distant. However it seems he had always been some what of a loner throughout his life; even through childhood.

The previous parts of the story hid this rather well considering, at the beginning, his light relationship with Suika at the time.

yeah perhaps stating the obvious but it did surprise me.
>> No. 31740
>>31739
It might have been whatever troubles were in his family that gave him that tendency. He seems related to some real ne'er do wells.
>> No. 31753
[x] Ask her to spend the day with you
That Suika has a silver tongue, I say! I can't help but feel that listening to her advice on this is akin to making a deal with the devil.
Now what are we actually going to do on this date though? I mean, it would just be sad if Suika led the entire day from start to finish.
>> No. 31756
>>31753
Not really; this is Suika's day after all regardless of who comes with.
>> No. 31760
[x] Ask her to spend the day with you

pimpin aint easy
>> No. 31762
[X] Ask her to spend the day with you.

This should be fine, Suika has already expressed that she's willing to share. Why not?

I really enjoyed back and forth chatter between suika and Arc.
>> No. 31763
"See? Told you it’d be easy,” Suika winked at me as we waited out front. I don’t know if it was misguided guilt that got her to agree, but Miss Keine happily agreed to come with us today. Suika had sealed the deal with unflinching encouragement and promises of fun for all. As we waited for Miss Keine to finish up a couple of things she needed to do before leaving, the oni continued to speak happy nonsense, “We’re building ourselves quite the little group. Who knows how things will go, huh Arc? I mean, nice guy surrounded by the best oni and other girls... ooh it makes me want to see which one of us is the best at this.”

“Best at what? No, you know what?” I shook my head, “I don’t want to know. I’m just asking you here not to make a mess of things.”

“Relax. You won’t have any trouble from me,” She smiled. It was the same smile a kid might have when caught raiding the liquor cabinet. In other words, completely untrustworthy.

As I was about to implore her not to do anything again, Miss Keine came out and joined us. She looked much more collected than before - she had freshened up and her simple dress was absolutely impeccable. The pleasant smell of a mild perfume came from her as well. It’s the first time that I can recall her ever wearing any.

If it were up to Suika, we would have stopped by the middle of town to grab a bite to eat somewhere. I objected, but was overruled when she pointed out that it would be best to eat before we went to the shrine. She had a point there; It would be rather rude of us to show up and just expect to eat there. I suggested going to my place but that was overruled yet again. So town it was.

Suika walked ahead, leaving Miss Keine and I walking side by side. Miss Keine hadn’t objected to town and seemed to be in high spirits; She hummed as she walked along - yet another thing I had never seen her do before. I couldn’t complain about the situation. It made me happy for some reason to have both Suika and her there with me. I nodded more than once in acknowledgment to a leering older villager with a knowing smile on his face.

Not much was open on the day following the festival. And it wasn’t like there was much choice to begin with. We had to settle for whatever small restaurant was open.

The place we were in wasn’t bad or anything. I was just accustomed, like most people in the village, to eating at home. Most people only bought food from stalls as a snack and restaurants were really more of a family affair on special occasions. It was a wonder we had any restaurants at all really. It was more like the front part of someone’s home with a large kitchen nestled away somewhere.

We sat down and an elderly woman took our orders. No one asked for anything too filling since we weren’t really that hungry.

An issue with living in a small community like ours was that people tended to know everyone else. No sooner than we had started talking amongst each other that I saw someone I knew peering in from the outside. I had to excuse myself from the table and say something. It was a good customer and, as Auntie always said, it was important to treat those who were good to us well.

It was a total of five minutes of small talk and niceties. Five minutes too many it felt.

When I got back to the table I was witness to something very odd. Miss Keine was completely red in the face and excusing herself in order to you the washroom. I glared at Suika, and asked what had happened, “We were just talking, that’s all,” She explained.

“Don’t do anything to make her feel out of place. She’s a nice person,” I said.

“We were just talking about you actually. Nothing to feel too bad about, unless you’ve got something to hide that is,” The oni smirked.

“Do I want to know what you talked about?”

“Hmm...” She closed her eyes to think for a moment, “maybe. I’ll tell you but you can’t tell her that I told you. She told me not to tell you.”

I wanted to sigh. I felt like this was the most childish thing possible. It was like I was ten years old again and in school. I didn’t know what I did to deserve that.

“Oh, there’s just one thing,” Suika smirked again, she was on a roll now, “I think I know ya quite a bit Arc. Knowing you, if I tell you it’ll change your attitude for the rest of the day. But, like, it’s your choice. I won’t lie to you because of the kind of relationship we have.”

[] Press for details
[] Forget it
>> No. 31764
[x] Forget it
>> No. 31766
[x] Press for details

I'm curious.
>> No. 31768
[x] Press for details

Deleting other vote. Keine and Suika don't want Arc to find out, but hey this will still be fun.
>> No. 31769
[X] Press for "minor" details

>if I tell you it’ll change your attitude for the rest of the day.

Yeah Arc's a bit, stuffy, around Keine and while she may be glad he's had a rather good upbringing I bet she'd like it better if he'd relax a bit around her.

Just saying as these "details" may be very important for him.

Or could just end up making him more wound up about Suika's behavior...

Arc's suppose to be enjoying their company rather than worry ya know...;_;
>> No. 31771
>>31769
I think Suika warned him, knowing he'd be less at lease.

I wonder what price this insight would come at.
>> No. 31773
[x] Forget it
Arc, you dense bastard. Where is my youlostme.jpg when I need it?
>She told me not to tell you.
>Proceed to tell anyways at the slightest encouragement.
Wouldn't that be a bit against the Oni's lying thing?
>> No. 31774
>>31773
>Wouldn't that be a bit against the Oni's lying thing?

Unless Keine worded her request that follows something like,
Keine: "You won't tell him what we have spoken will you?"

followed by

"I won't tell Arc trust me"

There's really not much stopping Suika of saying anything unless otherwise. Keine may have told Suika not to say anything as a demand but that's not a promise of not saying a word or having her state "I will not say a word to Arc about what we talked about".

Then again we don't know what was said exactly; however it looks safe to assume Suika didn't give her word that she would keep quiet about it.

In any rate...

[X] Forget it

Seeing as how flustered Arc gets, if it's something rather dramatic it could in fact ruin the whole outing rather than improve it.

Though much like that other anon stated, he needs to take it easy.
>> No. 31776
[x] Forget it
lets just have a happy day
>> No. 31777
[X] Forget it

It'd be better not to ask now. Some other day, that'd be another story.
>> No. 31778
[\!/] Forget it

Is dat sum Keine lovan?

Well, since this is that type of story. We'll take it easy instead.
>> No. 31806
[X] Forget it
>> No. 31823
[x] Press for details

>Knowing you, if I tell you it’ll change your attitude for the rest of the day.

Because Arc seems to be having a bored time thus far. This is what worries me most:

>“We’re building ourselves quite the little group. Who knows how things will go, huh Arc? I mean, nice guy surrounded by the best oni and other girls... ooh it makes me want to see which one of us is the best at this.”

Any insight Suika's insinuation reveals would be most helpful.
>> No. 31826
“Not bad,” Suika concluded with a rather satisfied pat on her stomach. After a week of knowing her, I had concluded that oni were somehow fundamentally different to humans. Despite her best efforts to overindulge in both alcohol and rich snacks, she never seemed to get any worse for the wear. If I lived half the lifestyle she did, I would have long since stopped being able to fit through doors.

The walk after the meal included some of the same garrulous behavior Suika often displayed after drinking intensely from her gourd. It was surprising at how Miss Keine not only put up with the chattering oni, but had in fact seemed to encourage the prattle with occasional laughter. I didn’t understand either of them, or what they were possibly thinking, but it was easy enough to not think about. I had paid for the meal, drawing money from my savings, and the genuine smile from Miss Keine had made it seem more than fair. The hug from Suika could have had better timing and I told her not to squeeze so hard right after meals.

I didn’t really want to spend any more time in the village. Standing out wasn’t something I was used to; Though they seemed not to care everyone who saw us was probably thinking about us. It was best to unwind away from the people I saw during my day-to-day living.

“Hey, are you listening to me at all?” Suika poked me in the stomach. I came to a stop and looked at her, puzzled, “That’s just rude. And in front of your teacher and all too.”

“Sorry. I was thinking about things,” I apologized, shrugging hoping she wouldn’t make a big deal out of it. I made eye contact with Miss Keine, who seemed to be studying us.

“Well, whatever. It wouldn’t kill you to pay a little more attention to the people you’re with,” Suika puffer her cheeks, looking like an upset infant. One with horns and a gourd filled with alcohol.

“I am spending the day with you. I just drifted off for a moment. Won’t happen again. Promise.”

“If you’re thinking about Reimu again-”

“Wasn’t,” I made a quick denial. It was the truth, but I already knew that it didn’t matter. Suika wanted to bring up the subject anyways.

“When we get to the shrine I’m going to tell her that you spent all day thinking about her. Even when you had me and Miss Big here to keep you company,” She said it in a matter-of-fact sort of way. That was the way she worked. The one-time casual nicknames were part of that nature.

“Um, excuse me,” Miss Keine interjected, “Am I ‘Miss Big’? It’s a rather odd nickname.”

“I call them how I see them,” Suika replied nonchalant, smiling placidly. Thankfully neither party elaborated further.

I felt like something was up that I should know about but didn’t feel like I had the energy to dig for answers. Thankfully I didn’t have to. By the time we had gotten to the shrine the mood was different. Suika ran off as soon as the steps came within sight. It was like she was returning to a home she left long ago and she was excited to see if anything had changed during the time she was gone. That left me to escort Miss Keine by myself and we started to talk about the shrine itself.

“This place is so peaceful,” She remarked as we passed under the torii, implying something which I already knew all too well. She was probably referring to how no one from the village ever came up here.

“Oh, it can get pretty noisy here,” I smirked, thinking of the parties and host of people that came and went as they pleased, “Almost as noisy as a festival in fact.”

“I’ll take your word for it,” She stopped in front of the main building, by the donation box, and simply stared at me for a moment. She then giggled, bringing her hand to her mouth to cover it.

“Is anything the matter?” I was sure that I was the cause of that giggle. And it made me feel real strange. Like we were the only people in the world or something equally silly.

“It’s nothing. I’m sorry,” She apologized and looked at the direction from which we came. The village wasn’t visible from here, the view being blocked by trees. Miss Keine changed the subject, bringing up bygone days, “You always were rather curious. It’s nice that you found a place where you can be yourself.”

I had nothing to say to that. I could have brought up all the headache and trouble I’ve gone through because of my acquaintances in the past few months - but then I’d be missing the point of what she said. Miss Keine’s kindness wasn’t judgmental and I was fine with just her approval no matter the context. g

I took her into the shrine, looking for Reimu in the process. We stopped by the usual spots.

“Oh, hello. You’re here as well,” I was greeted by Alice as soon as I came into the room. She sat by a table, looking like she was enjoying afternoon tea by herself. I thought I saw brief smile show itself as I walked in but if it did appear, it was gone as soon as she realized I wasn’t alone.

“Ah, this is Miss Kei-” I tried to introduce the two but I got cut off.

“We’re already acquainted,” She dourly interrupted. She took a sip of her tea, like she was trying to hide that she was upset about something.

“It’s been a while. How has it been?” Keine asked diplomatically. She didn’t seem at all frazzled by the encounter.

Alice gave a half hearted answer. I instead asked the next logical thing that came to mind, “Is Marisa also here?”

“Should she be? “ Alice answered my question with another question. And when I couldn’t think of anything appropriate to say back gave me a rather cold “hmpf”.

“Oh there you are!” Suika bolted into the room excitedly. She looked at me with furrowed brows, “Where were you? I thought you were right behind me,” She didn’t lose time waiting for an answer and instead kept on talking, “Well things seem to be lively here too. So I think it’s safe to break out the snacks and get us to have some fun. Dontcha think? With Reimu it’ll be... um..” She counted on her fingers, “six people. That’s plenty. More might come later.”

I didn’t have to ask what she had in mind. Instead, I focused on something else, “So where’s Reimu anyways? She’s usually out front somewhere.”

“She was cleaning something out back. I told her you were here and she said she’d be coming soon. Lucky you and all Arc. She never comes see me when I get back.”

Reimu not bothering to go see Suika probably had to do with the fact that the oni was loitering in the shrine more often than not. She was basically a resident. Besides, I found myself justifying, Reimu probably had things she wanted to talk to me about. Maybe more thoughts on the festival.

Suika had already moved on. She was getting glasses and bottles seemingly from thin air and had gotten Miss Keine to sit down and accept a glass of something. She even somehow had gotten Alice to give up the tea and was getting the magician to make small talk with her. The oni had a magical quality to her, something that made people forget about responsibilities and sourness and relax even if they hadn’t exactly felt like it. There was a spot just waiting for me right next to where she sat.

Though things weren’t nearly as spirited as they were at the last party, everyone was already talking freely. The trio broached upon the subject they knew they had in common - me. Naturally, as anyone of sense might tell you, in those situations it’s best to shut up and look small. There was no need to fuel the fire created by Keine’s giggling account of that time I had brought her some candy I had made at home with Auntie and was forced to give it to her in front of the class. Nor was there any need to explain to a wide-eyed Alice that Suika invited herself into my bed and tit wasn’t a regular thing. They gabbed away and it seemed to be fun for them.

“Reimu sure is taking her time, huh?” I asked with a nervous chuckle. No one seemed to hear my question. As far as I knew she probably was going to pop in at any moment and that worried me slightly.

[] Stay and correct the stories if they’re too outlandish
[] Let them say what they want while stepping out for a moment
>> No. 31836
[x] Let them say what they want while stepping out for a bit.

Let the girls talk while we get some Reimu time. No harm in stepping out for a bit, Arc seems to be getting somewhat bored.
>> No. 31837
[X] Let them say what they want while stepping out for a moment

Even if a few rumors about Arc spread about, the people that matter know the truth. Seeing Reimu while they talk cant hurt.
>> No. 31840
[x] Stay and correct the stories if they’re too outlandish
>> No. 31841
Whelp, it took 13 hours to get a single vote and things aren't looking much more promising now either. I'm now going to force myself to write something before allowing myself to feel completely demoralized. We'll see how things go.
>> No. 31842
[X] Let them say what they want while stepping out for a moment.

Nothing could ever stop them having fun flustering Arc; also what's up with Alice sudden mood shifts. Were there set timetables on when training would take place?

>>31841

Not sure about others, had power outages here for the past two weeks. Just had it back again this late afternoon. You know it's bad when the state had to call in outside support to help restore power.;_;
>> No. 31843
[x] Let them say what they want while
stepping out for a moment
>> No. 31845
[X] Let them say what they want while stepping out for a moment.

Good rumors hopefully. This will be more fun than having to correct again and again and again.

>>31841

Sorry, I'm a useless voter that bought SC2 yesterday.
>> No. 31846
They hardly noticed I was gone. I got a brief stare from Alice as I got up but a story involving me and a misplaced hat reeled her back into the conversation.

I went ago just as Reimu came in. She didn’t look like she approved of the congregation in her shrine but probably had expected things to turn out this way all along. We exchanged a few brief words, “Where are you off to?” She asked.

“I just needed a bit of fresh air. They’re talking about me and I don’t really have anything to contribute. Feels awkward to just sit there,” I told her that. It made going back in harder as well and I hoped that maybe she’d join me.

“Well come back soon then. You know how Suika gets if she needs you for something and you’re not there,” She shrugged.

I thought it strange that she was acting so casually about everything. Normally she’d be more wound up. With no real way to save face I simply told her that I’d be back soon and continued to walk away. She went in and I stared at the door for a while, questioning if something was up with me. For some reason I saw everything here in a different light. Even Reimu’s red and white outfit seemed to carry a different meaning for me now. I ambled on outside, thinking. I stood by the front porch and took a deep breath.

I heard roaring laughter from inside. It wasn’t good for my ego. I slunk down and sat, hands on face. I decided to give it a few minutes before I went back.

“Lack of effort leads to lack of results,” An unwelcome voice told me dryly. It had been a while since I last heard the voice but I immediately knew who it was. The cold yet saccharine tone was as bewitching as it was commanding. It continued to lecture me, much like a parent would to a child, “If you keep avoiding responsibility then you shall never amount to anything. That would be quite the pity.”

I turned around to look, expecting her magnificent form to be hovering just over my shoulder. Surely a spectacle of light and wonder would follow. The world turned absolutely silent as I looked around.

“It seems that you’re unable to determine my exact location. You still have quite a ways to go, boy.”

Something told me that it wasn’t worth questioning why she was talking to me. In fact, I was now certain that she had been watching me for some time now. Every time I appeared at the shrine, there she would be - observing, passing judgment. I had no idea why. I was fortunate just to have her pay attention to me.

“It has been a while. And it will yet be a while longer before things come into fruition,” Her words were sticky with forbidden promise. I had interest in magic and lessons, but whenever I thought of her that interest became a real fascination, if not obsession. To that moment I had not witnessed something as majestic and spectacular as she had been. She knew it as well, “Don’t fawn, boy. It ill-suits you to sit with mouth agape and mind devoid of real thought. Work and aim for more and you shall be rewarded most generously. Collection is key, after all.”

Out of the blue my cheek was caressed. Slowly, deliberately, so fondly. Yet the touch felt cool and the person impossibly distant. My entire body tingled, a web of intoxication and desire turned energy. An invading but comfortable presence leaked into me and worked its way through my shell without impediment. It was like I was one of Alice’s dolls and she was directing my every action deftly. I felt filled with the will of someone else and it felt good.

But that all came to an abrupt stop. As quickly as it had begun, the feeling ended. The touch was withdrawn and all energy boiled away. I was left sitting all alone on the porch. A shudder turned into systemic shivering and my body once again felt like it was wholly mine. The feeling of peace that washed over me was hard to come to grips with, as it seemed so out of context.

I sat there for a few moments longer before I resolved to go back. As soon as I got up, the sound of excited chatting became self-evident again.

They had changed subjects. They were now talking about food. In some ways, the females I associated myself with were rather distant to the model of reserved modesty that any grandmother in the village would hold as an ideal. I found a place next to Reimu, my spot next to Suika being occupied by a pair of tinted bottles.

“There you are,” Reimu smiled, “Feeling better? You look a bit pale, so if you want to use another room to lie down it’s alright.”

“It’s alright,” I smiled back. I had no idea I was pale. I felt normal. My skin felt normal as well until I saw that my arms were full of goosebumps, “There was a bit of a chill out there. Felt a little bit cold.”

“If you say so,” Reimu knew better than to press if I was being diffusive. Unlike a certain horned girl that would hound me until I told her something she wanted to hear.. She seemed to be in a cheery mood, “You wouldn’t believe what they were saying about you Arc. They said it was all true as well.”

“My, that certainly is interesting, isn’t it?” Miss Keine looked us. She was holding a saucer full of sake. At the rate it seemed that they were going at, it wouldn’t have surprised me if that was her sixth already. She continued to speak, and the others also somehow detected that something juicy was coming up, “Everyone here is saying Arc this and Arc that. I thought you hated that nickname. I mean, it was rather embarrassing how you got it after all. Besides you have a perfectly lovely name, good kanji as well-”

“After a while it became a badge of honor,” I said. It was a lie. I probably just got really used to it. It was easier to tell myself that, “You can continue to call me by my family name or given name. I don’t mind, Miss Keine.”

“Oh nonsense, if all your friends are doing it then I’ll be glad to do it as well,” She nodded as if it were a big deal, “Arc it is. Because you should know that I’m your friend as well and there whenever you need me. So I’ll tell you to cut out that ‘Miss Keine” business as well, I’m not your teacher any more.”

“Hehehe, looks like somebody got scolded~” Suika chuckled and drank with no moderation.

“Umm, Reimu, the snacks are done.”

We all turned to look at the door.

“Hi everyone, sorry to interrupt,” It was the other shrine maiden I had met recently.

After a little encouragement from Suika and a brief explanation, she joined us. With the freshly made snacks. They lasted for a grand total of five minutes before being completely devoured.

It turned out that Sanae was here because she had been told to spend some time with Gensokyo’s other shrine maiden. By her parents, presumably. I didn’t feel like prying too much into it. In any case, Reimu had told her to prepare a batch of snacks while she worked on cleaning up the shrine. Now she was here to enjoy this gathering. I certainly didn’t mind, she seemed to be a nice girl. She also refused to drink, probably on account of what happened last time, so I knew that I could likely rely on her to be logical even when things inevitably got out of hand.

“So as I was saying, we should totally liven things up,” Suika took control of the direction of the gathering. What was coming next was a surprise to no one, “I hereby proposed that we play a little game.”

“Are we going to separate into teams again?” I asked the obvious.

“Not this time,” Suika smirked, as if waiting for the question. She drank deep from her gourd before speaking about her plan, “There’s a great way to combine competition without having to resort to actual games. You, my dear Arc, are going to be a judge. For a contest. Naturally we are going to compete against each other and try to be the best. The winner gets to whatever they want to you.”

“How is that fun or fair?” Or even make sense.

“Well, we’ll be drinking and you’ll get to see us try our hardest. You get to make decisions and we’ll all laugh and stuff. Sound great, donnit?”

I wasn’t sold on the idea. But everyone else seemed to be. Oddly enough. I looked to Reimu and she shrugged, telling me that it would probably make less of a mess than the other games Suika usually went for. To my surprise even Miss Keine seemed to be getting into the spirit of things, inquiring into the exact nature of the contest. Alice calmly drank something and Sanae looked resolute, despite her fidgeting.

“For this sort of thing, there’s got to be multiple parts,” Suika explained, “First of all there’s the trivia section. Then there’s the drinking contest. And finally, there’s the talent part. Arc has to write down a bunch of questions and answers for the first. get bottles for the second and then decide a theme for the third.”

“Um... does there have to be drinking?” Sanae asked, she was looking a bit nervous when faced with the prospect of binge drinking.

“But of course. Don’t worry, it won’t be endurance, it’ll be speed. So you should be fine.”

“Oh, alright,” She seemed relieved to hear that. But I wondered if she knew what drinking any moment of alcohol quickly could do to someone.

“To make sure there’s no cheating, if any final ruling is suspect the losers can challenge the decision. Only if they have proof though, otherwise it wouldn’t be fair,” Suika laid down a few additional rules. She really seemed to have thought it through.

I was given a gown. A ‘judging gown’ - or so they called that old frock - but a gown all the same. I was supposed to drape it over myself like some sort of badge of office. I half-heartedly tossed it on and got to writing questions. My field of expertise wasn’t very wide. I struggled a bit to come up with creative questions. Meanwhile, the girls got ready. They made do with anything within arms reach to add more flash to their clothes. It was ridiculous, but they really seemed to get into it.

They all sat in a semicircle around me, waiting for me to begin the question round. It was first whoever first answered correctly would get a point. For a maximum of twenty points.

I picked up my first card and read what was on it, they waited with bated breath.

[] “How long does fermentation take, on average, for the sake made in the village?”
[] “How many festivals does the village hold every year?”
[] “What is 81x12?”
[] “What’s the name of the guardian deity of the village?”
>> No. 31848
[x] “What is 81x12?”

This sounds as if it goes to each girl... not sure if Alice is a math wiz or not. I choose this since it sounded most neutral.
>> No. 31849
[x] “How many festivals does the village hold every year?”
Villariba villabacho
>> No. 31850
[x] “What’s the name of the guardian deity
of the village?”

You know, besides you-know-who. Kinda curious if anyone can answer this.
>> No. 31851
[X] “What is 81x12?”

Very strange to see this asked
>> No. 31852
[x] “What is 81x12?”
Agreed with that other dude. This question seems the most neutral, so as to give the illusion of being fair.

>Collection is key, after all
Whats up with his sudden obsession with her? It's been a while since I read through the whole story, but Arc didn't have this reaction in the past, did he? And just what the hell is she going on about? We haven't heard from here in forever, and when she does show up, shes cryptic.
>> No. 31854
[x] "What is 81x12?"

I didn't see the Mima encounter coming.
I definitely think didn't she'd be so cryptic either.

Well, let's start with a general question and then get harder as they drink more. Should be an enlightening little game.
>> No. 31855
[X] “How many festivals does the village hold every year?”

Do any of them honestly keep track of this..?

I'm sure Arc has to due to the business but...
>> No. 31856
>>31852
I think it's a effect on his connection to her... and Mima went out of her way to provoke a reaction.
>> No. 31859
>>31856

I must also be noted that Alice also did create a bond with Arc as well. How much will that affect their behavior may show later on; or depending on what happens when they spend more time together with their training sessions.
>> No. 31861
Meant to post this earlier but have been out all day.
-
They all seemed to think about it for a moment. And then they all looked at Miss Keine.

“972.”

The answer came from Alice. She was monotone and her posture made her look rather reserved. She was behaving like she usually did with groups when Marisa wasn’t around. I wondered if she would be showing a little more emotion if it was just the two of us drinking together alone. The thought made my arm tingle and I met her eyes with my own. I thought I saw the gaze soften momentarily.

“That’s correct,” I nodded and looked at the cards, “All right- next question...”

It went went on for some time. The questions ranged from very specific to horribly vague. It was the sum total of my useless knowledge put into words. More importantly, it was the best that I could have come up with on such short notice. I watched their faces carefully, and saw that they weren’t taking things too seriously. That was a good thing. I had to quiet them down more than once before being able to ask the question.

The scores, unsurprisingly varied quite a bit. Sanae was last with zero points while Alice tied with Keine for highest amount of points. Suika seemed to be enjoying herself despite not doing as well as she could have been; It felt like the oni was holding back some of her impulsiveness - I expected her to answer all questions, regardless of actually knowing the answers or not. The other miko was doing decently but wasn’t very likely to win.

Finally, I drew the final question. It clearly favored one of the two tied girls. I read it anyway,

[] “What kind of sweet is the village most famous for?”
[] “What’s the village’s favorite pastime?”
>> No. 31863
god damn it, I'd hate giving a biased question if I were Arc now.

uh

[X] “What kind of sweet is the village most famous for?”

I couldn't pick out between two favorites mine so I flipped a coin;_;
>> No. 31864
[X] “What kind of sweet is the village most famous for?”

Alice or Keine eh? Both questions are about the village but I don't think Alice would know the answer to the second one.
>> No. 31865
[x] "What kind of sweet is the village most famous for?"

This could go either way ...

I feel bad for Sanae, she doesn't really know much since she didn't grow up in Gensokyo. Arc should make some time to get to know her a bit, maybe spend the day at the Moriya shrine.
>> No. 31867
[x] “What’s the village’s favorite pastime?”
>> No. 31868
I had a feeling that the question was unfairly loaded.

And it turned out that I was right. My magic tutor got the answer effortlessly without even needing time to think up the answer. It should have come as a surprise, as I had it on good authority that she enjoyed snacking on said sweets as she drank her cup of afternoon tea. In fact, I was pretty sure that I had been offered to partake on more than one occasion. I usually refused on account of me not really being a fan of those sweets. But to each their own and I could see just why they were so well-regarded by human and youkai alike.

Poor Miss Keine never stood a chance. She took the defeat with grace, looking content to have come scoring in second place. She smiled at me when I looked over at her and I wondered just what awaited me at the end of all of this. The prize was me. Sort of. Each of the girls here had a different personality and a different idea of fun. The level of intimacy between me and them also varied so I had to wonder what would happen if each won.

Suika would just be Suika, so I knew what to expect with that. It‘d probably be the same as always, maybe a free drink or two and a hug. Reimu... would probably not ask for much. Maybe for me to fetch her rice crackers while she lazed around. Miss Keine would probably ask me to not call her that again and make me swear I wouldn‘t. Alice didn‘t seem to have much interest in bossing me around or asking for anything from me. And Sanae was a mystery, but I had the feeling that she would not be bold enough to ask for anything too bothersome.

We moved on to the next stage of the contest.

“Do we have to do this?” Sanae asked as we got everything into place. She didn’t seem to thrilled with the idea of drinking, the outcome from last time probably still a vivid recollection. She fidgeted and shied away from Suika, the mastermind behind the whole ordeal. I was having my doubts whether or not it was a good idea to go on with the next leg of the competition. It wasn’t right to force people to do things that they didn’t want to do.

On the other hand, it was only a bottle a piece each. Bottles which were filled with beer rather than hard liquor. I had a feeling that that was Suika’s way of appealing to the sensibilities of some of the more hesitant participants. As far as half of us were concerned, it didn’t matter what was there to drink - anything would do. That is to say, we were now into the spirit of things and so it became easy to justify something as foolish and outright silly like a drinking contest.

“Remember, it’s speed that counts here. So first to down it all wins. Then second place and so forth. You know, common sense,” The oni explained things in plain terms. I could somehow see her winning this already. I thought about it: In a battle of endurance there would be no doubt, but maybe someone else could drink faster than she could. Maybe Miss Keine, she looked like she put them away quite easily; Despite of all that she had drunk, she didn’t look any worse for the wear - and she had drunk a lot quickly.

“I refuse,” Alice stated coldly. She got up and stood at the sidelines, “Go through with it if you must, but I don’t wish to participate.”

“You’ll lose any chance of winning then,” Suika warned, “And a chance to get to do anything with Arc.”

The puppeteer looked over at me, and a complex emotion registered on her face. Maybe some sort of doubt. It was definitely something warmer than contempt and disinterest. She spoke, offering her opinion, “Surely there’s something better to do than to drink for drinking’s sake. Something that requires skills.”

“Whaddya talking about?” Suika sprung into overdrive, “Everyone knows how these things work. You can’t just go around changing the rules on a whim! I mean there’s the intelligence part of it, we did that, then there’s the skill part which is this and then there’s the creativity which is last. It shows who’s the best and most awesome talented person. It makes sense, and it’s like an ancient formula for success.”

“I don’t know...” Sanae now voiced her objections more strongly. She took a place next to Alice and tried to look resolute. Compared to the dour and taciturn look that the magician sported so naturally, her attempt to look serious looked comical. She seemed to be simply too nice and extroverted to take a strong position on something like that, “I really don’t think this is the best thing to do. I’m sure we can have fun some other way.”

‘You’re just saying that because you’re afraid of losing. You need to grow up if you’re going to survive around these parts,” The cold and casual truth came from Reimu. She bore a smug look that was meant to provoke the other shrine maiden into action. I stayed silent as I tried to make heads or tails of who was on what side.

“That’s not true,” Rebuked the other miko, “I’m sure I can do anything just as well as anyone else here. I don’t have to prove myself.”

“Put your money where your mouth is. Come on, compete.” The entrapment was almost complete. I watched as Sanae began to flinch and let herself be drawn into the competition in full.

“Well, we should get going otherwise things will get boring. Just stay standing there if you want to lose,” Suika laughed as if she had just told a really good joke. The others took position, ready to start chugging on cue.

I glanced over at the pair still standing by themselves. One looked to be festering in her own indecisiveness and apprehension and the other betrayed no real feelings on the event save for the occasional furtive look in my direction.

[] Encourage them to participate
[] Let them forfeit
>> No. 31869
>>31865

Doubt it since Arc hasn't gone anywhere besides the forest and the shrine. The mountain is too far and too high to climb up unless he can fly which is impossible for now. However, if I do have an option to spend some time with Sanae, I will definitely take it.

[x] Encourage them to participate

Hard choices. Had to flip a coin.

To writefag, I just started reading this CYOA and gotta say it is pretty good. Keep it up. One of a few stories that I kept an eye to.
>> No. 31870
[x] Encourage them to participate
>> No. 31872
[x] Encourage them to participate

They'll have more fun this way. I think Suika is right about being more carefree, even if she does take it to an extreme.
>> No. 31873
>It wasn’t right to force people to do things that they didn’t want to do.

So why the hell would he do a quick 180?
[x] Let them forfeit
>> No. 31874
>>31873

Point taken

[x] Let them forfeit
>> No. 31876
[x] Encourage them to participate

Just rewording a vote I recently deleted.

While forcing them to do something is wrong so the same goes for making them forfeit any chances of winning as Suika stated.

Alice and Sanae could just fudge it to where they "tried" to but don't win. Keeps them both in the competition fairly enough.
>> No. 31879
[x] Encourage them to participate.

So hard to choose. I'll pick this one to keep them in the game. Who knows, Sanae could clinch it. Though I'm still kinda pulling for Keine.
>> No. 31882
[x] Encourage them to participate.

Alice could stand to loosen up a bit.
>> No. 31883
[x] Let them forfeit
>> No. 31886
[x] Encourage them to participate
>> No. 31887
[x] Encourage them to participate

You know Alicethey want to win; especially if Alicethey can dictate what Arc does.

Such as spend an entire week solely training under her tutelage

Hell I'd imagine Keine would do more than make Arc finally respond to her casually; dancing lessons returning..?

Not sure of the others though; assistance over at the Moriya Shrine for Sanae?
>> No. 31906
>>30896


[x] Let them forfeit
>> No. 31909
Update later today or tomorrow, been busy.

>>31869
Make sure to start from the beginning.
>> No. 31912
>>31909
>> No. 31913
>>31909
Of course. I forgot to mention that I finished read DEFT in 4 days and continue read ADEFT till now.
>> No. 31921
File 128243803327.jpg- (375.51KB , 992x851 , feels good.jpg ) [iqdb]
31921
“Well, if you’re asking Arc, then I guess I don’t really mind going along with this...” As I looked at Alice’s stoic visage I tried to imagine a scenario where she’d say that. I knew just how stubborn the women in my life could be. And obsessive and callous - but that thankfully wasn’t an issue right then. I wanted to be able to read her, and I tried to trust my gut feelings. The problem was, I had no gut feeling about this. I just felt a strange calm as I looked at her and felt like there wasn’t much I could say.

Sanae was another matter entirely. I think I knew how to reach her. Suika giggled suggestively when I asked everyone to excuse us for a moment. They all seemed to want to get on with things, so there wasn’t much said about my initiative. I took the shrine maiden just outside the door, a mostly symbolic ward against eavesdropping.

“I think you should do this, it’s not that much to drink and it’ll be quick,” I thought I understood the underlying reason for her reluctance, “It won’t be like last time, there are no annoying birds around to push you over the edge.”

“And besides, you’ll be there to keep me from making a fool of myself again, won’t you?” The miko asked humorously.

“Excuse me?” I was taken aback by her tone. It wasn’t what I had expected. The problem didn’t seem to be lack of confidence in ability.

“I said it. I don’t have anything against you but I don’t want you to think that I’m too weak to deal with things myself.”

“I, I’m sorry... that wasn’t my intention. I was just being nice, I mean, well, I don’t really know what to say. I’m sorry.” I really didn’t know what to say. I had thought that her wariness was due to her past experiences, maybe feelings of being out place... but that didn’t seem to be the case at all. I looked at her eyes; She didn’t look angry, just oddly determined. There wasn’t much I could say except for another mostly hollow-sounding apology, “I didn’t mean to pressure you here,” I joked, hoping to dispel the tension, “If you dont’ want to compete then I guess I have to worry some more about Suika doing whatever she wants with me when she wins. Though I guess it’ll just be like always. I better just accept it already.”

“...” She didn’t laugh, instead closing her eyes momentarily. In a few seconds, she found the words she was looking for, “Maybe that won’t be the case. It might be nice to win the prize.”

“Oy, no drinking from the bottle before we begin!” Those left inside were restless. With a shrug, we went back in.

I looked at Alice again. Her clear and serious eyes stared back. She seized me up in an instant but I was unable to do the same. I had my answer already. Perhaps if Marisa were here things would be different. Their relationship was amusing from an outsider’s perspective and, from a practical point of view, would have likely avoided this whole situation altogether.

“Let’s get things going,” I got things moving along.

Everyone except Alice took up their position. Four was better than three and I supposed that better than no one at all.

“This is simple,” I explained, “You each have a small bottle of sake in front of you. It’s not very much, just a few servings. When I tell you to go, you should drink all of the contents as quickly as you can. The winner is the one who finishes the bottle first, then the rest come in order of finishing.”

Making sure they understood, I got right to it.

“Go.”

They scrambled to drink. And in less than a minute, it was already over. It really wasn’t much to begin with. Suika, unsurprisingly, came in first followed by Sanae, Keine and Reimu - in that order. For all of her trepidation, Sanae had really gone for it and looked to be no worse for the wear. Not that the effects of alcohol would be immediately noticeable, it would take a few minutes at the least. But for the time being, everyone seemed to be fine.

“We should really do the talent part now,” Suika wasted no time in reminding us that the contest wasn’t over yet.

“Just what exactly are we supposed to do?” Miss Keine asked. There was a chorus of questions from the others as well.

“Anything you think is awesome. And our judge here will pick the best, easy right?” Suika put it in very uncertain terms.

“But, like what criteria will be judged?” Miss Keine didn’t know it was pointless to ask her that.

I answered for her, “I won’t be too harsh. Just show me talent, no matter what kind, and I’ll accept it. You have half an hour to think something up.”

Though some of them had doubt showing on their faces, they all went off for what I imagined was to practice or put together their acts. All of them except for Suika, that is. She stayed by my side, chitchatting incessantly. I just had to ask, “Shouldn’t you be practicing? Or getting ready?”

“Don’t you know me at all?” She smiled mischievously, “Oni are always ready for this sort of thing. I’ll be good to go when they get back. In the meanwhile I’d like to stay here with you. Your lap is a good place for my head.”

“Go ahead, as long as you don’t poke me with your horns,” I let her do as she pleased, adding, “I’m not going to pick you just because you’re acting all defenseless and cuddly, I hope you know that.”

“You think I’m cuddly?” Her beaming looked like a sign of true happiness. If she really hadn’t meant it... well, it made her seem all the more adorable. “Maybe I won’t have to ask in the future, you’ll just start doing stuff like patting my head and hugging me all by yourself.”

“Eh, whatever. It’s not like I really mind...” I smiled back at her, “but I wouldn’t want to spoil you now, would I? Last thing I need is an energetic oni in my life who is not only fun to be around and taking me places but who also expects me to treat her like this all the time.”

“Just do what you can, I already know how you feel about me. I’m pretty sure I’m right about that as well. I’m irresistible. Everyone wants to spend time with me. Especially you~” She giggled, probably taking my smile for an affirmation.

“Wouldn’t be here otherwise, definitely not to see Reimu.”

“Ah, that reminds me... who are you going to pick?”

“What do you mean? For the contest? Whoever does best.” Though it didn’t mean that I would be best off that way it was what I planned on.

“It’s ok, you can tell me the truth,” Suika looked up from my lap with a grin, “I mean, I did create the situation for that very reason. You were quick to go along with it, so way everyone else, so you know they’re all interested to know. I won’t tell them because they’d probably feel set up but I know the truth.”

“Uh,” I had suspected it had been something like that all along. She was asking honestly, and I knew, without any ill intent. She wanted to genuinely know how things were going to play out, probably to see if she had done a good job. I instead tried to change the subject, “Well Sanae doesn’t to seem too interested in winning. She doesn’t like me apparently,” I told her about the exchange from earlier. It had seemed that the other shrine maiden was on her guard around me.

“Bah, you know that’s not a big deal,” Suika laughed. She told me that I had it all wrong in her own special way, “When I first saw you I knew you were a great guy because I’m an oni and an excellent judge of character. That’s also why Yuugi wanted to take you down to her home and have fun with you, because she knew you were a good catch. It’s a talent and if I weren’t there all the time she might have tried it. But you know, she’s just a human and you’re not all great at telling what’s what right away. You guys are funny like that. Nope, not like us at all. Take a drink, look at a face and know.”

“So you’re saying that she can’t trust her gut feelings. That I can’t? Waitasec, what’s this about Yuugi kidnapping me?!”

“She’d let you go after a while. Unless she really liked you that is. But that’s a really good thing because she’s also awesome like I am. But yeah,” Suika reasserted happily, “Things are good but you can’t expect instant results. I mean even you and Reimu haven’t been all touchy yet. Point is, don’t get discouraged.”

She rubbed the back of her head against my lap, apparently scratching herself against my gown and trousers. After she was done, she redirect the conversation, “Tell me, who are ya gonna pick?” She blushed and brought her hands to her face and moved her head side to side - nearly making horn collide with my soft bits. “Don’t tell me it’s me and you’re ready to accept that you’re good enough for me?”

“If you win, I’ll pick you,” I said simply, not wanting to further fuel her (assuredly due to her inebriated state) fantasies.

“It feels good to be as liked as much as you like someone,” She sighed and stopped squirming, “I’d be happy but I want to know if you’re using this opportunity to the fullest. I mean you already have me and I have you and that’s great.”

“What’s the big deal with this thing anyways? I’ve been impartial thus far so there’s no reason to get worked up. You should know I’m not concerned with being opportunistic.”

“Really? But you’ve obviously shown favoritism already.”

“I have?” I raised an eyebrow.

“Yeah, just now you convinced people to drink when they didn’t want to at first. And earlier those questions... they obviously favored some more than others. I mean, I don’t care, but I just want to know if you have a clear idea of what you’re doing. This sort of thing takes effort to think of, and I’d rather drink than think about complicated contests.”

I patted Suika on the head.

“Thank you for your concern, but I really don’t need you to do this sort of thing. I’m fine with the way things are and I don’t worry about making progress quickly,” I shook my head and smiled. She had a point about my being biased. I had been favoring some over others, maybe not intentionally but then again... maybe it was intentional. I poked Suika’s forehead with my finger as I thought.

[] It was a biased contest from the very beginning
[] It was all coincidental
>> No. 31923
[x] It was a biased contest from the very beginning
>> No. 31924
[x] It was a biased contest from the very
beginning
>> No. 31925
[X] It was a biased contest from the very beginning

It could be said that Arc may have unconsciously made biased questions. Arc may prefer an intelligent girl with some working knowledge of where he lives currently; if only trivial.
>> No. 31926
[x] It was all coincidental

Hey, he couldn't think of any good questions s'all.
>> No. 31927
[x] It was all coincidental
this choice is right
>> No. 31928
[] It was all coincidental

Reimu-hunting. I like this Reimu.
>> No. 31929
I've given this all the time I was willing to give it. I'll be writting after flipping a coin to decide.
>> No. 31930
File 12824635569.png- (107.83KB , 400x525 , sounds different.png ) [iqdb]
31930
The others returned some time after, some carrying props. there was an air of excitement about and I could tell that everyone was anxious to show off what they could do. Suika had yet again organized something which people enjoyed. Even if she did claim to do it for an ulterior motive involving me and my pure boyish heart. I grinned.

“Boyish heart?" Miss Keine looked at me, confused.

“Ah, sorry, it’s nothing. I was just thinking about something silly aloud," I tried not to look too embarrassed. In my experience older women had a knack for picking up what I really meant even if I took care and guarded my thoughts.

“We’re all here, aren’t we?" Suika looked around, then she nodded at me, “I think we should begin."

I had them draw lots to decide order. Suika came first, which she didn’t seem to mind. Then again, she never seemed to mind anything.

“Ladies and Arc," She proclaimed whimsically, drawing all attention to herself, “You are about to witness something truly miraculous. See this bottle here? This bottle completely full of delicious shochu? Behold!"

With well-practiced coordination she tore the top off the bottle. We had no idea where she was going with this so we just watched. She began to gulp the bottle down with purpose and dedication, reminding us yet again why she would always win at any competition that involved alcohol. She took her time, finishing all of the contents in a single gulp.

“Tah-daah!" She waved the empty bottle in the air, “Amazing, isn’t it?"

There were a few uncertain claps.

“Is your talent being able to drink a whole bottle at once?" I asked for clarification.

“No, that’s not it at all. Look at the bottle..." She shoved the bottle near my face.

“What about it? It’s your normal bottle. It’s just empty now."

“That’s right! It’s completely empty. There’s not a single drop left," She explained proudly, “Normally when you drink there’s always a stubborn drop or two clinging onto the bottom or sides. I’ve managed to drink even that, leaving it drier than before it was first filled with shochu."

“Wow, that is kind of impressive..." I took a close look, she was right. There wasn’t a single drop left, not even trace amounts of moisture. She had somehow emptied the bottle of all liquids quickly, “Remind me to call you over next time it’s my turn to do the dishes."

“It doesn’t work that way," The oni puffed her cheeks, “It’s an amazing ability that requires a lot of training, alright?"

Before things possibly got messy I called on the next person to show off their talent.

That person happened to be Miss Keine. She smiled and bowed to us.

She took off her hat and showed it to us - it was empty.

With a smile and wave of her hand she then reached inside the hat. When her hand came out again, it was holding a long bright piece of cloth, tugging away at something that seemed to be too big to be able to fit in there to begin with. And it didn’t stop their either, with another smile she made a mahjong tile appear out of thin air. She then gave the tile to Suika, who sat away furthest from me. Another wave of her hand and then she told me to check my pocket. I did, and sure enough, the tile had magically appeared there. It was gone from Suika’s hand, instead replaced by a small pebble.

The tricks were rather amusing and we clapped more than once to the performance. I don’t think that any one of us expected Miss Keine to be able to pull off that sort of trick. After the act was done we asked where she had learned to do that; She didn’t reveal her exact source, instead adding mysteriously, “You can learn a lot of things being a teacher.”

Alice’s talent was less active than than the others. Instead of putting on a spectacle, she set up a gallery of sorts. Paper craft, hundreds of different pieces of folded paper all over the place. She brought her work over from another room and showed us all the wonderful things she could make just with sheets of paper. Most impressive of all was a giant figure that looked like one of her dolls - it was even somewhat articulated.

“If there are any requests, I can make something of your choosing,” Alice offered to demonstrate how things were done to any takers. She flashed a confident smile as she got a request to make a yin-yang orb from Reimu. A single sheet of paper and no cutting later - there it was, a yin-yang orb complete with dots where appropriate. Additional requests came in and Alice happily accommodated the demands. By the end of the display she had made a paper bottle, a dog with a complete set of paper teeth, a pair of glasses and a miniature effigy of Suika.

We all liked it and were impressed.

Paper walls were covered with more paper and blankets. Reimu had asked that we make the room dark for her act and we complied. Meanwhile, Alice got her miniature creations out of the room. Things were set for the next person.

The room was completely dark save for a candle near one of the walls. We gathered around it and Reimu sat in front of it, casting a large shadow against the wall. She cleared her throat, and told us to watch carefully.

And so we did.

We watched in silence as she scooted over, her shadow receding from the wall. Once she had a big enough area illuminated she got down to her act; Her hands moved and blocked the light source partially. The shadows on the wall took shape. It resembled a rabbit, complete with long ears.

“Oooh....” The chorus of spectators sang in unison.

The shrine maiden didn’t stop there, using the canvas of light and movements of her hands to show us ever-increasingly complex figures on the wall. There was a bat, a deer and even a giant tortoise. It was impressive how she did that only with ten fingers. In the relative dark I saw that several people were trying to replicate the shadow play with their own hands but found that they weren’t deft enough to perform the sleights of hand. In the end, by the time she got to animals most of us had never heard of, we were heartily applauding her act. She stood and took a bow, and with her hand to her side she made a duck appear in the shadows.

They were still complimenting her as everyone started taking down the sheets and other things used to block out light. Before the candle was snuffed out, however, I caught Alice briefly holding some of her origami before the light, and looking at the shapes formed on the wall. She looked highly amused with the results, an unguarded smile presenting itself when she thought no one was looking. The candle was finally extinguished and the last of the material came down from the walls. Late afternoon light found its way through the paper doors and reminded us that we had been at it for the whole afternoon. The crimson light set the stage for the next and final act.

Standing in front of us with a nervous smile, Sanae looked almost ready to go. With a healthy gulp of sake (poured by Suika, obviously) she was good to go.

“Well then...” She began, “Please listen to my song...”

There was a pause and then she started to sing.

“Even in my dreams, I want to chase you, and I put your photo under my bed.“ Her singing voice was level and tuned and, even though there were no instruments accompanying her, there was a clear melody, “ Floating through the sky, just at the good part,
the instant I kissed you, I woke up from my dream. “

It was rather catchy. For once, the group didn’t try to sing along or make noise. It was nice.

“Pa...Pa...Pajamas get in the way!” She sang the chorus with a smile a streak of red across her face - it made for quite the spectacle. “I can't get to sleep. I'm lonely, Darling.”

Keeping her composure, Sanae performed without break or stumble until the very end. She closed with a meek, “Thank you,” amidst generous applause. It had been good. It had been different to the type of songs that we were used to.

“Where’d you learn that?” Suika asked right away, “Real snazzy tune.”

“Oh, it’s just a little something I learned from before I came here. I didn’t do it justice I’m afraid...” The prima donna replied modestly.

It was unlike anything we were used to. The style of singing and tempo was radically different from the usual merry festival songs or the occasional musical mantra. That alone made the performance stick out amongst all of the others. Things were closer than I expected. I went off into another room to think over my decision.

Suika had been right about everything. I had come into this with a goal in mind, whether I had wanted to admit it at first or not. It was clear who I had favored too, and who I was most impressed by. During the questions... and then again when I tried to encourage them... and even now, I had favored them above all others. Even above someone I thought I would always prefer. Too bad for her though, this time she lost out. Things were going well enough for me to exclude her for now. I was sure that between the festival yesterday and my regular visits that things were alright here. Suika would probably back me up on that one if I asked. I didn’t have any intention of asking anytime soon, for fear that she might actively push me when I’m still not ready.

It was now nearly evening, and I had come to a conclusion.

[] Alice outclassed the others
[] Miss Keine was the most well-rounded
[] Sanae gave the strongest showing
>> No. 31931
For Alice, we can spend as much time with her during her lessons. However, I'm torn to pick between Keine and Sanae. This Keine have shown some promises about her. But, I would like to know Sanae more... Writefag, I have to admit, you're good.

That said, here's my vote:

[x] Sanae gave the strongest showing

Whatever I picked, I still have some lingering regret for not choosing the other.
>> No. 31932
[x] Miss Keine was the most well-rounded
Whatever Arc says, I am not biased, and Keine definitely won this one. She did magic, man.
>> No. 31933
[x] Sanae gave the strongest showing
>> No. 31934
[x] Sanae gave the strongest showing
>> No. 31935
[x] Miss Keine was the most well-rounded
>> No. 31936
[x] Miss Keine was the most well-rounded

If it was Sakuya or one of the magicians doing the trick it would not be so impressive.
>> No. 31937
[x] Miss Keine was the most well-rounded

Not often I'd see a successful magic trick not requiring anything obviously mystical or change of environment.
>> No. 31938
[X] Miss Keine was the most well-rounded

I must admit, I'm a fan of sleight-of-hand. Although it sounds like Alice's origami skills are impressive.
>> No. 31939
[x] Miss Keine was the most well-rounded
>> No. 31940
[X] Sanae gave the strongest showing

Honestly, I think Alice had one of the better showings, but Sanae sure as heck tried hard.
>> No. 31941
[x] Sanae gave the strongest performance.

You did a great job making me feel torn between all three. In the end, I decided that choosing Sanae would expand Arc's horizons the most. Stupid choice? Maybe. But hey, if we can't pick Reimu or Suika, then I'll choose Sanae.
>> No. 31942
[X] Alice outclassed the others
>> No. 31943
Keine's was very good, but it seemed easy for her.
I'm torn between Alice's show (impressive) and Sanae's... (heartwarming)

I'll go with Sanae's. She had to have a lot of guts to do that.
[x] Sanae
>> No. 31944
>>31943
>>31942
Called it a while ago.

As an aside: I quite honestly find bewilderingly funny the number of votes for Sanae. Not something I would have personally gone with, as it doesn't make very much sense to pick her.
>> No. 31945
File 128253615396.jpg- (413.46KB , 1024x768 , one more for the road.jpg ) [iqdb]
31945
“I made a decision,” My words silenced the room. Willing to admit it or not, most of them were caught up in the mood and actually looking forward to who I would pick. Suika alone smirked while the others either tried to look disinterested or failed to hide their anxiety.

“You all did very well and made things very entertaining. It might be strange for the judge, and prize, to say this but I even considered there being multiple winners,” I was getting wordy and long-winded, so I decided to just come out with it; “Overall Miss Keine was the winner. Congratulations.”

In the end they were all smiling, no looks of bitterness or disappointment. That made me feel more comfortable with my decision. There was a little excitement when Miss Keine got up to give me a hug and kissed me on the cheek - mostly causing me to look embarrassed - but it felt like good-natured ribbing.

“So what are you going to get him to do for you?” Suika asked Miss Keine. Her tone made it sound like I was just an object, not a person.

“I haven’t decided yet. It’s alright if I take some time to think, isn’t it? I want to get the most out of this,” Miss Keine winked at me, confusing me further.

“He’s all your, so take as much time as you need,” The oni shrugged.

“I don’t want to be too cruel about it. Don’t worry too much,” It seemed like she was teasing me somewhat. I didn’t know how to react to that. There was an other round of celebratory drinks.

Toasts and cheers were made to the winner. Suika poured the alcohol generously and the others drank it all up. More than one person was tipsy, Reimu was slightly red in the face and even Alice was being a bit more talkative. I drank a bit to be polite, possibly the first time I had had sometime to drink in a very long time. Definitely the first time I drank voluntarily at one of these parties.

Twilight was about to end, and evening proper begin, when Miss Keine excused herself from the congregation. The party was brought to an end as everyone took the opportunity to go home. Suika protested, like she always did, but even she probably felt that we had as good as time as possible and it was alright to leave things there. It felt right to walk Miss Keine back home, so I took the opportunity to volunteer for the job. Tactfully, or shamelessly depending on how I thought about it, Suika decided to not butt in and stayed at the shrine with Reimu. I’d probably see her again the next day or sometime later in the week. Alice and Sanae left together and disappeared after taking another path.

“Is it always that spirited when you’re with them?” Miss Keine asked while walking through the village. The last stubborn rays of sunlight clung onto the dark orange horizon and a pale and full moon was trying its best to poke through cloud coverage.

“It certainly is usually very exciting. Not always a good thing though,” I told her of some of the previous incidents. My first exposure to the extreme merrymaking had ended in a lot of trouble for me and constituted a considerable expenditure in patience. I had to assure her more than once that they weren’t tall tales, because I knew the average person wouldn’t believe me; It seemed like she would have believed me regardless. I concluded with a humble, “Don’t tell my Aunt about this please. She might not take it well.”

“I won’t,” She smiled, “Don’t worry. It’ll be our little secret.”

A phrase as loaded as that coming from her was enough to make me clam up for the rest of the walk back. It was a combination of her soft smile and our shared intimacy that threw me off. It was only when we got back to her place that we exchanged words again.

“Thank you for walking with me, you’ve become quite the gentleman. It’s probably why those girls like to spend time with you.”

“Does it also mean that you like spending time with me?” I asked a very embarrassing question without stopping to think about it. When I realized what I had done I shuffled about awkwardly, trying my hardest to look detached and aloof. I don’t think that I managed to pull it off very well.

“I certainly do,” Miss Keine giggled, “and I like how they’ve also made you a bit less timid. It’s charming.”

“Ah... thanks,” I avoided looking into her eyes and took the compliment as best I could.

“Say, would you like to come in for a cup of tea?” She offered. She added an authoritative explanation, sounding a little bit more like the teacher I had idolized, “A nice cup of tea will flush out the toxins from all the drinking.” She pulled a reversal, appealing to me from a empathic point of view, “ I did have a little bit too much to drink and my head is swimming slightly. The company will do me some good. I’ll be very busy with work later so it’s good to clear my head beforehand.”

I couldn’t really refuse her invitation. I waited in the same room I had been earlier that day as Miss Keine prepared the tea. A lantern was lit on the other side of the room, doing an alright job of illumination. The piles of scrolls lay unmolested throughout the room.

“Sorry it took so long.” Miss Keine returned with the tea. She sat down opposite me and handed me a cup. “Thank you for keeping me company, I mean it. Days like today are rare for me. I usually have so much else to do that I don’t really ever get the chance to have simple fun like that.”

“I enjoyed having you with us today. Though I have to admit it’s a bit strange not having you being my teacher anymore. I’m not sure how to behave at times.”

“It’s also strange for me you know. I still see you sometimes like my student,” She laughed, “I often want to scold you for using slang. I always remember at the nick of time that it’s not my job to do that. Besides, I don’t think you would appreciate getting scolded in front of your friends.”

I laughed as I thought about it. We weren’t that different. Being treated like a child wasn’t going to do me any favors, “That’s true. Before I knew it I might get lectured by them for whatever reason. It’d never stop.”

“That contest today sure was interesting... it was real interest to see you have authority over us. I didn’t think I’d win at all. I wasn’t first in anything, I’m pretty sure.”

“You did great, it was a no brainer to pick you,” I hid the fact that it hadn’t been a fair contest. My own feelings towards the winner aside, there was no telling how she’d react if she knew the truth. Her words made me think that she knew the truth anyways. Like I had concluded before, older women could often see right through me even when I thought I was being crafty. “The tricks you pulled were really awesome. I would have never expected you to know how to do things like that.”

“I’m not just a boring schoolteacher you know, I live a full life of excitement and adventure that my students don’t know about,” She chuckled heartily. Evidently she found the idea to be very distant from the truth. All the same, I had my lingering doubts. She might joke about having a double life, but I didn’t think it impossible.

We drank our tea. Miss Keine seemed livelier then than she did at the party.

“I think I’ve decided what I want from you. As my prize for winning the contest, that is,” She announced, “I want you to pick something for yourself. Since spending time together was so fun, I’m willing to bet that there’s a lot we can do together.”

“Isn’t that as if I had won?”

“Not really. Think about it, if you had won you could have asked me to do whatever. This is more like I’m asking you to pick something involving me and you together. So that we both benefit and enjoy ourselves,” She explained. “It could be something like one day a week were you help me out with chores, but I don’t want to impose on you since I know you work very hard.”

“You’re too kind,” I told her how I honestly felt. “Maybe too much for your own good, it’s okay to be selfish sometimes teacher.”

“Now that makes me a little angry,” She frowned, overacting her being upset, “no titles or formality. We’re not student and teacher nor casual acquaintances. We’re closer than that, - so I’d like to believe. You can trust me as much as I trust you. So there’s no need to put up any barriers. Besides,” She finally stated what was probably the real reason for insisting, “Our age difference isn’t that great. It’s like you and your Aunt, it’s the same with me.”

There was no telling her that she acted like a really mature adult most of the time. That’s what made her seem older. She would maybe pout if I told her that. Besides, she had been an authority figure for me, small age difference or not. It was hard to dissociate that in my mind.

“I can’t help it,” I confessed, “If I don’t say that I can’t think of you in the same way and it makes things weird.”

“Weird? How?”

“Like if you’re really close to my age, then I should be treating you like someone my age...” I danced around the core of the issue. It was enough for Miss Keine to pick up on. She was too sharp for me to deceive.

“Oh my...” The coin had finally dropped for her. In what seemed like a genuine attempt to not be patronizing she said, “You have a lot to learn about women.”

“It’s beyond my control,” I challenged meekly.

“I can understand where you’re coming from now,” ‘and it’s adorable!’ - I dreaded hearing that. It would hurt my pride as a man. Her sentence finished in another manner, “but I think it’s all the more reason to drop the formalities. Otherwise you’ll never be completely comfortable with yourself. No matter what you call me, I’m sure that on some level you see me as your equal rather than just your teacher.”

“Your smiling isn’t helping. It makes things more complicated... inside my head.”

“Now that’s flattery if I’ve ever heard it,” Her smile smile turned into a happy grin. She counted on her fingers, “Less timid, more of a gentleman, charming and something of a flatterer. You really have come along a long way. There does seem to be room for improvement and instruction but I think your future is quite bright as things are.”

She took a pause to fetch more tea for us. We drank silently for a while - I collected my thoughts while she kept on smiling incessantly at me.

“I have to thank you once again for coming, it’s really been a magical day. I really don’t want it to end,” Her eyes betrayed genuine remorse, “But I really should get to work soon. and once I start I can’t very well stop.”

“I understand. Thank you for the tea.” I was ready to go.

“There’s just one more thing though. Besides inviting you to come on over whenever you can,” Her smile was now accompanied by a sly look of determination embedded in her dark eyes, “About the prize, I’d like you to make up your mind now. I’ve been a teacher long enough to know when my students are planning to conveniently ‘forget about’ an assignment and never hand it in. I don’t really feel like hounding you for this, so it’s best to get it over with now.”

I had to hand it to her. She did a frightfully awesome job at reading my intentions. Yet again she had seen right through me. As per her conditions, I chose the most beneficial think I could think of.

[] Invite Miss Keine over for dinner at least once a week
[] Help her out with her school duties
[] Ask to be taught all about women
>> No. 31946
[x] Ask to be taught all about women

I see this doing Arc some good one way or another (It'd help in dealing with all the women in his life)
>> No. 31947
[x] Invite Miss Keine over for dinner at least once a week
>> No. 31948
[X] Ask to be taught all about women

Arc could use a bit more coaching. Keine would probably have more fun and get closer to him as well. I would like her advice on how to handle the other girls also.

The school work choice seems like the least attractive one, since it maintains her position of authority and increases his view of her as such. And dinner, as nice as it seems, is just too plain.
>> No. 31949
[x] Ask to be taught all about women
After having a good time, we walk her home, and she invites us into her house. I think we all know whats up.
>> No. 31952
[x] Ask to be taught all about women
Truly need that.
>> No. 31953
[x] Ask to be taught all about women

It doesn't matter if Arc implies anything, this'll work out either way.
>> No. 31954
[x] Ask to be taught all about women

Arc just need more knowledge about women. How to deal with them. No, not that kind of 'knowledge' as well.
>> No. 31955
Well then, for those who are still around at this hour: Expect something momentous very soon.
>> No. 31956
>>31955
Awesome!

As for the winning vote: it IS the most embarrassing one, but also the most useful, no doubt.
>> No. 31957
>>31955

You got some strange timing as I just woke up and fired up the pc here to check things out.

nonetheless it's fantastic to see it moving nice pace here. Just got to keep a better eye on it for now on.
>> No. 31958
File 128256668341.jpg- (422.97KB , 680x850 , history catered to your needs.jpg ) [iqdb]
31958
“Do I have something on my face?” She asked me as we finished up dinner.

“Huh? No you don’t. Did I say something strange?” I stared at her, my eyes unfocused. She furrowed her brow. Her hair drooped down and onto the apron - she had let it completely down for a change.

“Not really. You’re just staring at me. And you’ve had that silly grin on your face all evening,” Auntie sighed, “I take it something good happened today then?”

“Well, not really. I mean nothing special if that’s what you’re asking. Just an average day. Yes. Completely average,” My thoughts were elsewhere, not at all at the dinner table. The there and then didn’t seem as interesting as the recent past.

“Hm, well did you have fun with your friends? Suika seemed excited to be with you.”

“I don’t know what you heard but e had a nice day together. Saw a lot of people today. We did normal things, you know.”

With a shrug, Auntie didn’t ask anything else - thankfully letting sleeping dogs lie. Eventually we finished eating. I helped her clear the table and offered to help wash up.

“It’s alright. The bath should be ready, go ahead and use it first if you want.” Auntie dismissed me with unusual ease. I didn’t think much of it at the time nor why she was acting so disinterested.

I stripped and took my bath. It wasn’t that late but the day had worn me down. Dealing with Suika and the others had taken its toll on me. Judging wasn’t easy, nor was having the patience to withstand all of the talking and drinking that was going on. Part of my weariness stemmed from what happened after the party. Keine had worn me out. She drained me wholly and entirely, in ways I did not expect her capable of doing. I let the hot water work its magic on me and relax my tired body. I could feel myself still grinning as I submerged most of my body in the bath water.

I went to bed early that night. Telling Auntie that the bath was free, I slunk into my room with not much to do. I sat for a while near my window, looking out into the night. The moon was in full view, full and pale like a gigantic jewel in the sky. The clouds from earlier had disappeared, making the luminous object cast its ethereal blanket as far as I could see. Buildings in the village were draped in otherworldly hues that made corners sharper and lines more defines. And, of course, shadows all the more darker.

There was a knock on my door late at night.

“Come in,” I mumbled, not bothering to turn to look.

“Mind if we talk a little?” I imagined that Auntie was standing there in her nightgown, ready to call it a night. She didn’t usually talk to me much after dinner, giving me time to do whatever I wanted after a long day of work. Maybe it was because there was no work that she came to talk to me.

“Sure, I guess.” I kept my eyes on the village, noting how only a few people moved about after night fell.

“I’ve been meaning to talk to you about this for some time. I just wasn’t sure this was the right moment... but you seem to have grown up a lot without me even noticing. So I should tell you sooner rather than later.”

“What’s this about?” I chanced a glance behind me. Auntie seemed so pale and ephemeral under the silvery moonlight. A shudder ran through my spine. I had had enough of the transient for one day.

As I lay in bed, I realized just how fast-paced my life had become. The days used to run long and the only excitement came in the form of a good dinner. The seemingly endless torrents of tedium had been redirected into a steady downpour of change and fun. Unlike before, there were now several people in my life that actually mattered to me. I turned to lay on my back and looked up the ceiling, thinking of what I had accomplished since the fateful day Suika had come to our store. It wasn’t all that much, quantitatively speaking, but it felt like quality results.

Auntie... Keine... Reimu... Alice... and Suika most of all. They were people that had changed me. My face felt hot as I remembered Keine and her warm embrace from when we parted. It felt hotter still as I remembered our rendezvous scheduled for next Thursday and what that would mean for me. Anticipation burned strongly within me; This was a new light I was seeing her in and it was positively electrifying. Of course I didn’t tell Auntie about it, I wasn’t sure how she’d react. Or if she’d even understand what I had done and planned to do. Her ‘talk’ from earlier had only confused me and for the first time in memory, I wasn’t sure where I stood with her.

Thoughts of Keine filled my head. Not because of the time we had spent together. Nor due of the contest. Not even as a result of my shy request and her affirmative answer. The brief and intense exchange that had followed on from that was partially to blame but it was more than that. She was my teacher again but instead of teaching me about history and math she taught me something that might help me in the long run. There was no shame in admitting it was something I needed. How I looked at her now, however, was something I wasn’t entirely proud of. It didn’t seem right, it didn’t seem proper. I wrestled with the idea of just coming out and telling her, but I didn’t know if it’d help. It might affect her tutelage. Or worse, how she saw me.

I worried, but then let calm sweep over me. The cool evening air filled my lungs and I felt at peace. There was nary a stir outside - just the breeze moving branches every so often. That breeze would change soon enough, become bone-chilling and unwelcome. Something completely unlike the fickle and likable autumn wind. It was a natural change and I’d have to get used to not being able to open my window for long periods of time.

I got up and closed the window before going back to bed.

I needed to ask for a couple days off of work. In order to keep up with my commitments. Luckily this time of year saw a small slump in sales but as the weather got colder, sales went up. It would be fine if I worked extra hard and did inventory ahead of schedule. I had my priorities set straight.

It was a matter of pushing forward towards the goal. I knew I could get there and reap the spoils of success. The intrusive moonlight crept along my wall from the open window. It reminded me of how the world became all white during winter. I fell asleep thinking about the next season. I couldn’t wait to for the next day to come faster. My arm tingled, telling me of things yet to come.

END

--
This wraps up where I wanted to go with this part of the story. The next part will come after a while. There may be a teaser for it depending on demand. I do plan to do something else in the meanwhile involving Arc. That is dependent on how soon I can bring myself to write it.
>> No. 31959
Do it.

Our little Arc is growing up... Mission accomplished. From now on, Arc should be more aggressive since he has the 'experience' needed.

I expect wonderful continuation for this series.
>> No. 31960
Good stuff. The wrap-up was more than a little too fast for me, but that's probably because I missed that last few votes.

Looking forward to the next part.
>> No. 31961
That worked out much better than I thought it would, but so did every vote. It was a great ride.
>> No. 31962
Looking forward to the next part, and a teaser sounds like a good idea.
>> No. 31963
Learning about women is a plus regardless of how pure or impure it is. Either would increase Arc's confidence around women.
>> No. 31974
I'm glad you came back and finished it

Looking forward to next part gonna be voting for Reimu all the way
>> No. 31978
Sorry if any of you saw the post from earlier, it came off whinier than I expected. I blame the fact I was drinking at the time.

I just wanted to say thank you to those who took the time to say something - it's appreciated.

While I will write what I plan to I'm going to say that you'll need to earn the preview here. Think of it as incentive. I'm worried about my storytelling ability and your comprehension of what happened and why. There seems to be a large disconnect between reasoning and action ever since the festival, peaking again only 2-3 updates ago. I know it's a drag but, hey, it's also a drag for me to eternally wonder if you all didn't get things, don't care or are simply disinterested - it's demotivating. Don't know how else to spell it out. If you're one of the majority that doesn't ever say anything, feel free to ignore this but know it causes me not to write faster.
>> No. 31983
Did our attempt to be neutral epically backfire?
>> No. 31984
>>31983

What?

Sure there were times where anon aimed for neutrality but as far as it went that flew out the window some three or four updates ago.

Trying to please everybody would have made no one happy. Am glad there were some focus in the end of that chapter
>> No. 32071
Isn't OP gonna continue?
>> No. 32077
>>32071
see
>>31978
Which was pretty much ignored. Besides that, I've been busy and lazy.
>> No. 32088
Hooray! i caught up!
So, what do i make of it you ask? Well, i'm not sure. I'm glad it went on smoothly (if a bit fast). I was upset that we didn't get our "training", but i guess it will come in due time. You deserve more but i can't really develop without having digested it properly.
>> No. 32179
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32179
Just finished the normal DEFT. It was a very good and fun read until about half of Thread 4. Then it went down the drain very fast.
Votes changed, things went the other way, waypoints suddenly shifted and confusion spread.

DEFT Reimu was a really enjoyable and cute girl, her attitude is awesome and she doesn't blush and behaves like a little girl that you see so often. I know you did not want something lasting but it could have been Reimu good End A or something. Nothing big but just some underline feelings.

>Arc and the Scarlet Devil Ball, Arc and the Shrine of the Youkai, or Arc and the Endless Portals
This needs to happen. At least something with Sanae.

Not sure why i did not read it until now. Probably because i was not sure if the writer could pull of writing about some other characters.
>> No. 32180
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32180
>I do plan to do something else in the meanwhile involving Arc
Do Arc and the Shrine of the Youkai. The last time with Sanae was kind of bad and it might be time to change that. And we have yet to meet Hina, Kanako and Suwako.
Looking forward to it and hoping you can get into writing soon.
>> No. 32183
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32183
>>32180
Nah, already have plans. Plans which I should have put into motion earlier. But, like, you know stuff happened which has kept me from realizing it (since it requires attention to detail). I've been more focused on my /eientei/ story and other misc projects. I do promise I'll have things going some time very soon though.

As for a preview, the image is related. Enough of a tease? I'll get around to finishing it soon too. Reason I hadn't was, well, look a couple of posts above. Felt like I was talking to myself.

Note to YAF: Take it easy. Ghostbumping every other thread to be above this one is just sad. I do away with my customary sage to spread the love~
>> No. 32194
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32194
“Dinner’s ready~” The wonderfully melodious voice called for me from downstairs.

I could smell the food from all the way there, and I judged that we were going to have some of her delicious stew again. I put down my tools. It was getting dark out and I had put in a hard day’s work. I carefully moved over the sawed pieces of wood next to the wall and, with even more care, moved the unfinished crib out of the way. I dusted myself off and made sure that everything was in order before washing up.

The amazing aroma enticed me to descend the stairs quickly. I found that I was right about the stew; A giant pot with steaming contents sat casually on the kitchen stove. I knew that the meat in there was tender to the point of dissolving in the mouth and the vegetables all contributed their rich and varied flavor. It was a bounty of food, and it happened to be one of my favorite dishes. I smiled as I sat down at the table.

Some stew had been served for me already. She sat across me, smiling happily as she always did when she saw me. I reported on my efforts, “I think I’m halfway done, I should be finished with the woodwork by tomorrow, then it’s just painting it and adding the finishing touches.”

“That’s wonderful honey,” My wife beamed - in her eyes, I probably was some sort of miracle worker. Certainly when I told her that I was going to make a crib for the baby she looked absolutely amazed. The concept of handiwork was foreign to her.

“Dear, you know I love your stew, but don’t you think you’re spoiling me a little bit too much?” I said the same thing every time we had it.

And, like every other time, her answer was the same, “You deserve the best. You know that I’ll always try my best for you as you do for me.” She then added, cheekily, “Besides, when we have the stew she always kicks a lot, I think she has the same tastes as her daddy.”

“So it’s a ‘her’ now, is it?” I dug into the stew, bringing a spoonful of the lovingly prepared food to my mouth. The explosion of flavor in my tongue was enough to offset the discomfort from it being slightly too hot. I stirred the contents of my bowl, trying to cool the stew slightly, “Last week you told me you were certain it was a boy, why the sudden change of heart?”

“Well, honey,” she blushed, her nose twitching in that adorable little manner it did whenever she felt embarrassed, “if you must know - I had a dream.”

“What did you see in the dream?” I indulged her.

She wasn’t eating, instead content to watch me eat first. One of her hands loosely grasped a spoon while another was gently rubbing her enlarged belly. Her apron was loose at the back, permitting her to sit down without constraining herself. It would still be a few more months before she was due but the pregnancy looked to be far more advanced that it was. Undoubtedly that this illusion was caused by her normally petite frame becoming shapelier and more womanly as time went on.

“I saw us taking her to school,” She said, “She was wearing the cutest little outfit, kind of what I used to wear before we got together. You should have seen her honey, with a cute little ribbon in her hair and a smile that could turn stone to butter.”

I found myself imagining it. It was hard not to. In the time we had been married I had learned to appreciate every moment spent with her and her carefree ways tickled my humor without fail. In my professional life, I had taken complete ownership of the store and record profits provided everything to our young family. Though I didn’t tell her often enough, this was the most exciting time of my life. I was managing with my responsibilities, coping with the bliss of marriage, and reconciling my own hobbies.

We ate together, chatting hopefully about the future. When the moment came, I was prepared to rush out to get the midwife and thereafter would not leave her side for anything in the world. Keine would be assisting as well, her steadfastness and cool thinking was going to help us get through the difficult task of childbirth.

“No, don’t bother,” I kissed the top of her forehead, collecting the dirty dishes from the table.

“Thank you,” She relocated to our padded chair, sinking into comfort. She began to undo her few simple ornaments, relieving herself of all constriction around the wrists. From the sink I watched her whisper gently to our unborn child. I wondered if our child’s hair would be as flaxen as hers was and, if it really was a daughter, if she would be just like her mother. Thoughts about the years prior, of the days she still had her ponytail and she was wild and rowdy, made me remember how everything just eventually clicked into place. The carefree days spent learning magic with Alice and trying to make something of myself were long since behind me. I’d never forget Mima’s last words and her motherly embrace.

We spent the rest of the evening quietly together. I worked on the store’s ledger while she continued to knit a wool blanket for the crib. Occasionally I would be distracted from my work, stopping to furtively look at her. If I weren’t feeling so good about things, I would not believe that this sort of happiness was possible.

As usual, we retired to bed before too late. I had to get up early to open the store and she needed her rest. I enjoyed watching her put on her silky pajamas, even if her figure had changed from when I originally bought them. It was lucky that it was something like a robe and it allowed plenty of room to accommodate any expansions. Besides, her bosom had also grown in size in the last few weeks and any chance to feast my eyes on her tender form.

We lay in the dark for a while, hearing the wind whoosh and blow outside.

“Honey, feel this,” In bed, she guided my hand to her belly. I felt a few vibrations every now and again.

“She’s going to be strong like her mother it seems.”

“I wonder if that’s really going to be the case... I mean it’s half your child.”

I chuckled in the intimate darkness of our bedroom, “Somehow I get the feeling that she’ll take more after you, Suika.”

“It might be a good thing to have more oni running around, right? There’ll be more happiness to go around.”

“Probably,” I squeezed her hand, “I know that my oni has been a good thing. I couldn’t be happier.”

Bidding each other goodnight, we kissed before turning in. Every day together meant another magical day.
--
This is the preview I said I might get around to. It is literally the beginning of the next part of the story. Inb4 it turns out it was pointless to post it because no one saw it.
>> No. 32195
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32195
Hooray for Oni Sunday.
>> No. 32196
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32196
I am pleased with these developments. I'm curious about what happened with Alice and Mima's last words though. Looking forward to the rest.
>> No. 32197
>>32194
Oh my god. I could not possibly be more excited about the next parts. Waiting warmly.
>> No. 32198
>>32196
But it asks the question what happened with Reimu and the rest. We had good relations with Suika but were mostly after Reimu.
>> No. 32199
Hooray~!
>> No. 32200
Wonderful. You captured the magic with this one. I'm looking forward to this chapter of Arc's life.
>> No. 32202
There is also >>/forest/21686 for your consideration.
>> No. 32203
>>32202
I probably would have overlooked this.
>> No. 32320
well that was a pretty awesome if abrupt ending. I'm a bit perplexed though by the suddend stop, one that left me with a few questions.

Just what went on with Keine? I was expecting... I dunno. not a skip after the update before, and reading the last update it left both of them taxed so I'm left to assume they both engaged in Full contact grecko roman wrestling.

What did Auntie want to say to Arc? She comes up to talk to him like she is departing an ancient family secret, but then it ends. Obviously it's an evil twin situation, and Auntie has fallen for the goateed bastard.

These two mysteries are driving me nucking futs here, as I reread this update over and over trying to figure out what exactly it is I'm missing. talk about shifting gears without a clutch.

The oni family epilogue was very dawwww though. very cute.
>> No. 32321
> The oni family epilogue was very dawwww though. very cute.

I am over come with cuteness.
>> No. 32326
>>32320
>they both engaged in Full contact grecko roman wrestling
Neither would be familiar with that sport/excuse to grapple one another like that. Full body massages are par for their course, if you know what I mean.

>What did Auntie want to say to Arc?
"You are the chosen one. That gourd-shaped mole on your butt marks you as the King of Oni. You must go, and claim your birthright."

Apparently that also makes them not blood-related somehow. Maybe. Perhaps it means Auntie was... another one of the devas all along.

>The oni family epilogue
It's not an epilogue. Which brings me to my actual serious reply to everything: Wait and see, it ain't over yet. It's good that you gave these things thought though, it seemed to me that no one else did. It feels refreshingly good man actually. Motivating too. I wish more people took the time to at least look at that sort of stuff and go 'oh, I think I have a theory' or 'I don't know and I should ask my peers'.


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