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File 132893314251.jpg - (45.45KB, 600x402, frozen_lake.jpg) [iqdb]
A new story! And a new picture! If you didn't know already, this is where I comment the picture. Story comments are after the update so I won't spoil anything.


The thick layer of snow supports your weight as you skim across the landscape. A trail of pawprints is the only sign of your passage: the light, fluffy snow makes no sound under your paws. "Said trail leads behind a snow-covered rock not too far away, and changes into a trail of human footprints. No-one'll ever notice the oddity; it'll be completely covered in a few minutes if it keeps snowing like this. The light flakes, coming as a steady stream from above, hide anything that's too far away. It smells almost like ice, but not quite. Taking a deep breath, you enjoy it's frigid beauty to the fullest. The sight from the shore of the lake is amazing: the branches of the trees behind you are covered with snow and their trunks are gray with frost. The lake itself is only a featureless plateau of pure white snow. It is completely silent. The warm air coming from your nostrils forms a silvery cloud as you continue towards your destination.

The freezing weather starts to bite through your fur when you're about halfway across the lake. Should the ice fail – which it will not, it's thick enough to support a fully-grown bear dragging a similarly sized moose – you'd fall into the water below and die in mere seconds. The snow here feels a little harder than what was in the forest. Thanks to last week's winds, you suppose. Shivering once, you accelerate your pace as much as you can to make the time spend on the lake as short as possible.

The orders you got from the seven-tails are simple: go see if Reimu is up to something. As always, being recognized as an agent of the kitsune is strictly forbidden. That, in turn, means that Reimu can't be allowed to see you change shape. You're quite certain, however, that she won't suspect a perfectly normal-looking fox. She already knows your human form, so that won't be a problem either. One problem, though, is that you don't grow winter fur, and that it's quite fucking damn cold right now. When you left home a few hours ago, your thermometer (a gift from Rinnosuke, a fellow half-youkai) said that it's -13°C. The meaning of °C is not known to you, but it doesn't make the object unusable. Back then, in your human form, your woolen underwear, your thick coat, and it's lovely collar, added by your mother, protected you from the worst cold. Right now, the clothes are somewhere between worlds.

Arriving at the base of the hill where the Hakurei shrine stands wakes you from your thoughts. Looking left and right, and the up the hill, you can't see anything out of the ordinary. No footprints in the snow, no strange scents, nothing. The faint smell of smoke, no doubt coming from the shrine, is the only recognizable thing beside the scent of snow. To seem less suspicious, you climb the surrounding heavily forested hillside instead of using the stairs. It's not very likely that the miko is watching, but her intuition is dangerously good.

Some small things from the outside have found their way into the unkempt forest. There's a can of something, there's something you can't recognize and there's a frozen fish. You shiver. No good... Your thin summer fur is insufficient in this weather. It's possible for you to quickly, in the space of a minute, to grow a winter fur if you use magic, but Reimu would notice that. Damn, you'll have to be quick. Get up there, see what she's doing, get out. Shouldn't take even ten minutes.

A few minutes later and you're behind a rock, watching the clearing where the shrine is built. Or rather, behind a mound of snow. A trail of footprints, leading into the main shrine building, starts abruptly in the middle of the yard. A visitor... You'll have to find out who it is, and, if possible, what they're talking about. Darting out from your cover, you head across the open area. The shrine must be damn cold in this weather; it doesn't have any insulation. Stopping with one paw suspended in mid-air, you look at the shrine's roof and see a plume of smoke rising vertically. What if she runs out of firewood...

A scent of food comes from within the shrine. So, they're eating. Rice and... dried meat? Sniff, sniff... Yes, that's it. Now, how'll you find out who's in there with Reimu? You can't just look inside; a fox that opens doors isn't natural. Reaching the back wall of the building, you quickly scan it for holes. There aren't any. What now...

Instinctively, you sprint away from the noise and hide behind the nearest corner. What was it? Is it gone? Seconds pass in silence. A mild scent of fried tofu reaches you. Awawawaaa... your weakness. Also the speciality of your food stall. But this tofu wasn't made by you. Still, you want it...

Peeking from behind the corner, you see a black-haired figure clad in red. Her eyes are golden, and her figure is very... womanly. Reimu's mother. She smiles heartily at you, and invites you to eat the tofu from her hand with her finger. What is she doing out here? Why didn't she go see Reimu? Hearing the sound of conversation from inside confirms that she isn't the mysteroius visitor...

[] Snatch the tofu and flee. Foxy.
[] Just flee. Very foxy.
[] But she looks so warm...


So, this is how it begins. Ask away, I know you have a lot of questions. Some answers can be found here: >>/sdm/51127

Don't expect updates to be common, my /sdm/ story takes priority over this one when it comes to writing.
[x] Snatch the tofu and flee. Foxy.
[X] Snatch the tofu and flee. Foxy.

Works for me~!
[c] But she looks so warm...

I cannot resist.
[X] But she looks so warm...
[] But she looks so warm...
[x] But she looks so warm...
[X] But she looks so warm...
[x] But she looks so warm...

A story with the former Hakurei Miko? Sign me in!
[x] But she looks so warm...
[x] Just flee. Very foxy.

Need my ackbar.jpg in here.
File 13297132572.jpg - (264.77KB, 800x1118, 49e0b9e81065bcb481182673d5a9c236.jpg) [iqdb]
[x] But she looks so warm...

Carefully, to avoid seeming too eager, you begin inching closer to her, few steps at a time. She keeps still, wagging the tofu a little. Her lips curl to a smile as she notices that your eyes follow the movements of her hand.

"Come on... I won't eat you."
Wag, wag... Your tail flips from side to side, revealing the nervousness which inherently comes with having an animal form. She's close, she's big. Her scent is strong; you store it in your memory in case it's needed later. It's hard to tell people only by scent, though. It's possible, yes, but you prefer other methods if possible. Scent is somehow... indefinite. Using it to recognize someone always leaves you with a 'what if' -feeling.

When you're about one meter from her, you stop. One part of your animal instincts tell you to run, and another one tells you to... stick to her? You're not quite sure. Anyhow, the cold is really starting to get through your fur now. Shivering again, you dart forward to snatch the treat. A wall of warmer air meets you just as you're about to devour the delicious morsel that she is holding. So warm... Closing your teeth around the thin piece of tofu, you hesitate for a moment too long. Her hands scoop you up from the ground, curling themselves around your (relative to hers, anyway) small body like you were a pet of hers. You don't resist too much for two reasons: firstly, you don't want to hurt her with your claws by flailing around and secondly, she's just so damn warm that you don't even want to escape.

“Got you!~” The up to now thin smile on her face transforms into a satisfied grin. “Hey, Reimu! I'm coming in!”
For a moment you feel very heavy. You very nearly panic because of the rapid change in situation, but Reiko pressing her chin on your head calms you down a little. Reiko as in Reimu's mother: that's her first name. Calling her just Hakurei would be confusing. She's just about to land as you try to move into a more comfortable position, looking up while doing so. She seems to be focused on the door in front of you. Trying to remind her that she's still holding a small piece of the tofu, you lick her chin once. This causes her to lift you a little higher and bury her face on your shoulder. It isn't very comfortable for you, as her cheek bones press against the tendons on your shoulder bones.

“So cute~” You hear the door slide open, then close behind you again. She really seems to know her way around here – no wonder. “Reimuuuu! Look what I found! Isn't he cute!”

“Yes, mom. Very. Now, where were we again? Ah, how's the new guy doing? Or I guess I shouldn't call him new anymore, it's been half a year already...”
Reimu doesn't sound nearly as excited as her mother. She's chewing on some of the dried meat you smelled earlier while talking to Sakuya Izayoi, head maid of the Scarlet Devil mansion. The person she's talking of has to be Chris, your friend of sorts. You were tasked to keep an eye on him when he first arrived. Then, before you knew it, you were fishing with him at the Misty lake.

“Aww... So cold. I just came to say hi.” Reiko pouts as she gets ignored by her daughter. “You're not going to even offer tea to your own mother?”

“...Fine, go make some. I don't have any at hand and I'm busy right now. Also, could you see if the rice is ready while you're at it? -so, he's been busy lately?”
Reimu lacking interest in you is more surprising than her laziness. Her mother brought in an apparently wild fox and she doesn't care? They say that she's easygoing, but...

“I'll make some for you two, too.” Reiko suddenly releases you, setting you on the floor. “And you're going nowhere, get it?”
Eh... The door's closed and you can't open it on your own, so that's kind of a given. Out of options, you sit in the corner closest to the fireplace and listen to Reimu and Sakuya talk while Reiko is gone.

“...so yeah, things are pretty silent at the mansion right now, only notable thing is that Meiling seems a little down. Lonely, I guess. She seemed somehow hopeful when Chris arrived but quickly fell into boredom afterward as he nearly ignored her. Not much we can do about that. Oh, and have you heard? They say that the weather's an incident. Miss Patchouli's observations seem to hint at that, too.”
Your ears perk up as Sakuya mentions the word incident. Sakuya's eyes are fixed on Reimu, who keeps on chewing the meat with a dull expression.

“Mmh, we'll see. I'm saying that they're jumping to conclusions. It's true that it's been unusually cold, but the old hags in the village remember many such winters. Plus it's January, not spring like last time.” Reimu scratches her chin while looking at the ceiling. “...Maybe I should pay a visit to the sky god. She should know if something's off about the weather. At least, it should calm down the villagers if they hear that I've done something.” She glances at the kitchen door as the sound of boiling water reaches her ears. “Tea?”

“Please.” Sakuya bows her head a little. “No sugar, as always.”

“Right.” Reimu pushes herself up and heads to the kitchen. “Coming right away.”
Sakuya eyes you curiously as Reimu leaves. You tilt your head and stick out your tongue. She smiles and looks away. Then-

“Nice to see you around, Seimei Modoru. I don't think I even said it before, but we always knew of your presence.”
The maid's sudden presence nearly freaks you out, causing you to snap at her fingers. Still, you let her hand land on your head. It feels kind of nice, having her pet your head. Closing your eyes, you let her do it. So, they knew? And you thought you weren't noticed at all...

“Hey, the tea's ready.”
Reimu informs Sakuya of the progress she's made. The maid leaves you alone yet again to enjoy the freshly-made drink. They begin talking about how things are in the village.. You lie down and enjoy the heat radiating form the nearby fireplace, listening to their meaningless chatter. You live in the village, you know what happens in there.

A moment later, after everyone's had their second serving of tea, and after Reimu's brought out the rice for her and Sakuya (Reiko didn't want any), you feel yourself getting lifted off the ground again. Waking from the half-asleep state you were in, you look upwards to see Reiko lifting you again. Seeing her calming smile, you let her carry you again.

“Bye Reimu! And miss Izayoi, too!”

“Bye mom.” “Goodbye, Mrs. Hakurei.”
They both wave goodbye as the former maiden of the shrine leaves. Outside the door, after closing it carefully, she deposits a few notes into the donation box. You'd do that too, but... yeah. Then you realize that she's got no intention of releasing you. Struggling only makes her hold you even tighter.

“I'll let you go soon enough, don't worry. Life would be boring without your food stall, after all.” Even she knows... But... It's supposed to be a secret. Not everyone can know it, can they? Rising into the air, she hugs you reassuringly. She lands soon again, and lets go of you afterward. “I'm on your side, don't worry. Now, could you change into a more talkative shape?”
Crossing her arms, she looks at you. Being like that makes her bust look even larger than usual.

Trusting her for now, you focus your thoughts on your body. Muscle transforms into water, bone into gas, flesh into quicksilver... Everything melts, bends, reshapes and stretches. Your tail shrinks back into a set of aborted bones, your fur shrinks into your skin, teeth change shape, legs grow...

In a moment, where there was a fox a moment ago, now stands a man of about 20 years in age. His hair is dark brown, heritage from his mother, and he wears rectangular spectacles made of iron.

“So, you had something to say, Mrs. Hakurei?”
Looking up to see her face, you cross your arms, too.

“Just that I'm on your side. I made a deal with the seven-tails. You do the talking, I'll do the shooting. If you do your job properly, I won't even have to do the shooting, and it'll be better for everyone.” She winks at you. “Also, here's my number. I was told that you're one of the few who owns a working mobeel-foone.”
Handing you a slip of paper, she draws out a small mobile phone from the same pocket.

“You want my number, too? Fine.”
After a moment of searching, the string of numbers appears on the screen of your phone. You're not really proficient with the thing, but you know how to make calls. So far, you've only managed to get 4 numbers – Ran Yakumo, Yukari Yakumo, Rinnosuke Morichika and Reiko just now. Ran and Yukari's numbers are something you've never used, though. Rinnosuke just gave them when you were told to get a phone.

“Okay, I think I'm done here. Take care.”
Reiko lifts off again and soon disappears into the still-continuing snowfall. Peculiar woman, she is. She likes to eat at your place, but rarely says a word. You would never have guessed that the seven-tails managed to recruit someone like her to join the kitsune. It'll transform them from “nothing” to “something” if she's to stay loyal. Still, you won't be any match to the major players in Gensokyo: The vampires, ghosts, lunarians, tengu, buddhists or the humans. Right now, everyone's too scared to make a move. A fight between two factions would leave them both weak enough to be conquered by the others. Perhaps the former lead figure of humanity joining the fray could bring some action... Nah, the seven-tails will probably keep it a secret until the right moment. The kitsune remain free only because their existence is known only to a select few. Prodding your Personal Eyesight Enhancement Device, as Eirin, it's maker, calls it, higher, you head back home.

Fifteen minutes, growing of a winter fur, and quite a bit of walking later you're home. It's not much, only a room with a bed, bookshelf full of books, a table and some other pieces of furniture. Most of the house is occupied by your food stall and your study/healing clinic. On the table there are some letters, each sealed with a fox-head symbol. You already know the contents, though. Your future assignments. There's also a letter from your mother about “important things concerning your future.”

[] See what the other Miko and the gods are up to.
[] Confirm the availability of medicine from Eientei in case of crisis.
[] Check what your mother has to say.
[] See Chris and get him to tell the plans of the Vampires. Unavailable until /sdm/ story advances.


Yep, it's the end of the first ...thingy. I guess I can't really call these shorts. The next one should be a bit longer.
Again, if you have questions, ask away.
[x] Check what your mother has to say.
It's a bit odd how you're doing a story that sort of connects with your older one.
Where was Reiko durring the games?
[c] Check what your mother has to say.

I like Reimu's mom. Please, will there be more of her in the future?
File 132972454564.jpg - (295.58KB, 918x774, Hakurei is scary.jpg) [iqdb]
[x] Check what your mother has to say.

We have a flag with the former Hakurei maiden! But for now, let's deal with the family, and let's listen to our elder.
[x] Check what your mother has to say.

It might be important, or it might just be some silliness about arranged marriages. Either way, it should be worth our time as the readers.

Oh, and grammar nitpick time:

>as Eirin, it's maker, calls it,
>it's maker
>it is maker

For you see, "it's" is a contraction of "it is", and "it is" quite clearly is not what you were gunning to say. At least, I hope it wasn't.
[] Check what your mother has to say.
File 133030341252.jpg - (116.10KB, 600x480, 63e8b7ba4046d853c20723c711b6673b.jpg) [iqdb]
What? It's just a sleeping fox.


[x] Check what your mother has to say.

She says it's important, but it wouldn't be the first time when the important thing has turned out to be something totally else when you actually hear of it. Regardless, she rarely bothers you without a good reason – the reasons just range from her asking you to help her redecorate to you doing an immensely powerful joint heal on your father. Memories from the latter still give you shivers. The sheer amount of power required to cast the spell caused a vortex to form around you, scattering the furniture around the house while you harmonized your thoughts and joined minds for the ultimatum... It worked, though. Your father is very much alive thanks to the spell. Perhaps it would be best to honor the unbreakable pact which links you to your parents and listen to what she has to say. Besides, you can have her look at the seal that lets you keep your utilities, namely tail and ears, hidden. It has been... leaking as of late. Not a real problem, but better fix it before it gets worse.

Having reached a decision, you rummage around the room in search for some items before something scratches the door. You forgot to let her out? Setting down the book you're holding, you reach out and open the door to let in an energetic-looking young female fox. The said animal swooshes from between your legs, letting its tail tickle your skin through your pants, and jumps onto your bed. Sighing, you smile at her cutesy clumsiness. She's like that only when she wants some attention from you, but isn't feeling like sleeping on your lap or anything.

“Sorry, sorry... Did I forget to let you out before leaving?”
Tyrande, your pet of sorts, doesn't answer. Not because she can't, but because that's what she's like. Silent unless there really aren't any other options. Sighing, you sit on the bed next to her and pull her a little closer while running your other hand through the fur on her back. She closes her eyes in response, relaxes and lies down. Smiling, you keep stroking her fur for a while. At times, it's good to have her around. Somehow, she gets you letters from the other kitsune every now and then. You don't know how she does that. She's just a normal fox, after all. If you weren't around, she wouldn't even be tame.

She gives you a sad puppy look when you get up to continue your almost finished preparations, knowing that it's something you can't resist.

“Fine, you can come with me. Just don't let mom molest you too much.”
Her ears perk up as she hears your words. You smile again at her clearly overdone reaction, letting her snuggle her face against your hand. Yep, sometimes you're happy to have her with you. Ruffling her head a little, you grab your things and head off with her.

Tyrande follows you closely as you skim across the frigid landscape once more. Your parents live in a relatively large house, not very far from the village. There's just a large and very steep hill in between, so the traveling takes a quite a bit longer than if the land was level. It was around here, about nine months earlier, where you first saw Tyrande. She was an adolescent bitch in heat back then, and decided to stick with you after you accidentally, by scaring away a lone wolf while practicing some of your more potent spells, saved her. Convincing her that you wouldn't have pups with her took a while, but was worth it in the end. At least if you don't take the time before Chris named her into account. It was around that time when she learned that you can't understand her in your human form.

“Hey! So, you decided to come!” Your father yells a greeting in his usual way when you descend the hillside into his field of view. A man in his mid forties, chopping firewood. There's nothing too special about him; just a someone who you wouldn't look at twice if you weren't related. Intending to let him pet you a little before heading inside, you head towards him as he sets down the ax. “Oh, you brought her too?” He pets you as you reach him, then trying to get Tyrande to come to him with no success. “Aw... Anyways, your mother's waiting for you inside.”
Giving him a comforting prod with your nose, you head inside. He may not know, but your pet isn't really comfortable around humans. She tolerates Chris, but not anyone else, really. She's never told you why. Then again, she barely ever even talks, so no wonder.

Melt... Shape... Focus...
Your form shifts again. Slowly, a human rises from the spot where a fox once was. Only, this time the human has a tail and animal ears. No need to hide them in here. None of the more... purist humans ever come here. The few others that do have their own little secrets which they like to keep as such. It's the case with almost all the people who don't live in the village. Sorceresses, magicians, spouses of youkai or people with dark pasts. There aren't many of them, but they tend to keep in touch with each other, and out of touch with the others.

“Hello! I came over.”
The house of your parents, unlike yours, is filled with mats, tapestries, paintings, rugs, exquisite furniture, old items with no discernible use – all kinds of stuff your mother has gathered over the years. Your stuff is mostly from the local carpenter.

“Oh? Come on in, I'll make some tea.” You hear her move around somewhere. “Did you bring that lovely pet of yours?”
Familiar with the layout, you head towards the kitchen, doubling as a dining room.

“Yeah, she's here with me.”
You glance at Tyrande, now zooming around the house to check is anything's changed, when your mother enters the room. Her three tails sail majestically behind her kimono-clad figure, something a lot of the women in the village would be envious of (the figure that is, not the tails), the image completed by a pair of fox ears jutting from her light, almost blonde hair.

“You look like you're doing well. How's it been, lately?”
She begins making tea as you drift into pointless talking of how things have been on your end. Then, as the tea's ready, she calls your father to join you, and together they explain how nothing's happened in here since your last visit a few weeks ago. Then, you tell her about the seal of yours and how it hasn't been perfect lately. She takes a look at it and suggests that you see the shrine maiden.

“So, I believe you read the letter I sent you.”
It's been more than an hour since your arrival when she gets to the point. You don't really mind, but your stall could use some tidying before morning...

“Yes, I did. What was so important that you used the seal?”
Tyrande's lying quietly in your mother's lap as you slowly sip the third serving of tea. Your father has returned to making firewood, saying that if the signs hold true, they'll need it.

“Ah, about that...” You see her twist the ring adorning her ring finger – a sign of nervousness. “See, I got this offer from a rather high-ranking youkai, and I thought you could be interested...”
She sips some tea from her cup and pets Tyrande. Her nervousness is clearly visible.

“Go on. What kind of an offer was it?”
Despite knowing that it's useless, you attempt to hurry her to tell what it's about.

“Before you answer, I ask that you consider the benefits. The deal would be beneficial to our whole race. The support from her family would be invaluable in the coming crisis.”
It's not hard to guess what's she's talking about. It does make you wonder who it was this time, though. Last time was just some bratty noble from the village, and her speech was not as... flattering.

“So, who would it be this time? The kappa? I've heard stories of them marrying humans in the ages past.”
Your mother doesn't react well to your painfully accurate guess. She blushes and loses her composure.

“Ah- eh. Well... I know she's a lot older than you and everything, but...” The blush on her face deepens. You could make fun of her, but it'd be childish. “It's one of the messengers of the dragon palace. You know, the oarfish.”
Them? You've heard of them, but you wouldn't have ever guessed that they'd request for someone as lowly as you...

“Sooo... Me?”
You're getting a little uncomfortable now.

“She said that they need to 'get in touch with the people on the surface.' So, knowing that I have a young son, she asked one of my acquaintances, who directed her to me. We talked for quite a bit and she... wants to meet you. As soon as possible. Of course, knowing what comes of it, she doesn't want to force you to anything.”
It's your turn to blush. It wouldn't be the first time you're on an arranged date, but it'd be the first time it's with someone else than the daughter of a noble who's been told to get in touch with the youkai.

[] You're interested.
[] You're not interested.


Perhaps with her husband?
There will be more Reiko in this story. The exact amount depends on your choices, perhaps in a way that all of you may not like.
[x] You're interested.

No harm in meeting Iku to start with, even if a fox and a fish make an odd pair.

What's this upcoming "crisis" everyone's talking about, though? The fanonically rumored clash between the different religions in Gensokyo, or one between the kitsune and humans/other youkai/whatever?
[x] You're interested.

I don't see how meeting Iku could go wrong as she's actually among the more reasonable/mild tempered touhou characters.
[x] You're interested.
[c] You're interested.

>more of Reiko in the future.


>in the way all of you may not like.

-not awesome.
[x] You're interested.
[x] You're interested.

As long as Mamizou is not around, things will be quiet. Don't forget: the tanuki is the enemy, the tanuki is evil.
[x] "I would be honored."
[x] You're interested.

Never expected this.
[x] You're interested.
[X] You're interested.

I'm curious to see whether or not this oarfish will be deliciously written.
[X] You're interested.

Waiting warmly for more oarfish.
File 133108965443.png - (1.83MB, 810x1150, 5dcbaf132d9b492317223468f9984830.png) [iqdb]
You can run into sights like this anywhere. Just keep your eyes open and don't look at things as "just another tree" or "just another rock." Life, be it human, animal or plant, is surprisingly beautiful.


[x] You're interested.

“Let her know that I'm interested.” Your mother nods as you shift to a bit more comfortable position. “She wouldn't... be around today, would she? There's something I need to do before tomorrow morning, and...”

“Taking care of your business, hm?” Interrupted by her remark, you decide to let her say whatever she has to say. One should honor his parents, after all. “One day, you'll have to tell me the secret of your spice. I can't figure out the secret ingredient.” Smiling, she returns to petting the now-sleeping fox on her lap. “Very well, I'll tell her that you'll be present tomorrow. -Oh.”
The last bit is caused by Tyrande waking up and jumping off her lap. The fox runs off into the direction of the kitchen.

“Perhaps I'll tell you, one day.” The secret isn't all that secret, really. No-one else just pays attention to the non-hostile lifeforms in the Forest of Magic. One of them, a certain vine, has a very special taste when dried and ground into a powder. “Anyways, thank you. Now, if that's all, I'd rather go replenish some of my stocks...”
A scratching noise emanates from the kitchen. She must have heard a mouse in there or something.

“You won't stay for dinner? I was just about to make some.”
Dinner? You could make some for yourself in no time, but... Grwl. Yeah, that. It's been a long time since you last ate, and you've been running around for a good part of the day. Besides, she's got 300 years of experience in cooking compared to your less than 20...

“Oh? Well, fine. I'll stay.” Smiling mischievously, you decide to have payback for one of the many things she's done to embarrass you. In a second, you've dug up a small pouch form one of your pockets and thrown it onto her lap. “There.”
It's a bit of your 'special' spice. Your mother is obsessed with finding out what it's made of, and giving her some is one of the few ways to make sure she won't do anything mischievous to you. She'll try to analyze it in various ways, each one in vain. Even the famous doctor in the bamboo forest didn't get it right if her assistant told you the truth about what they did with the pouch you sold to them.

Your act earns you a confused yet embarrassed look from your mother. On one hand, she knows that adding some to her cookings makes them taste better, but on the other hand she hates having her supply moderated by you. She'd love to make her own, and then watch in glee as your monopoly in selling the stuff crumbles.

“I'll go see if dad needs any help. You'll be fine on your own, right?”
She doesn't respond, but stands up nevertheless. You take it as a 'yes' and head outside.

A bit more than hour later, after you're all done with dinner, your mother leaves without saying anything. While not surprising in itself, the fact that she comes back a few minutes later and hands you a letter makes it something that doesn't happen every day.

“Read it.”
It's all she says despite your questioning look. Shrugging, you give in and rip open the envelope to reveal a neatly-written, short letter. It reads:

Seimei Modoru & his family
Thank you for your swift response. Still, regardless of you being busy tonight, I wish you could find some time for a meeting, however short. I am not short of time; if just possible in any way, I can help you do whatever it is you have to do. It is a wish from my higher-ups.

Best regards,
Iku Nagae

“So? What should I sent to her as a response?” She's on to you as soon as you finish reading the letter. “I believe she'll be here in 15 minutes should you say she can come.”
Eh... Your stall is in quite bad shape, and you need to go to the Forest of Magic to gather some of the vines required for your spice today, and you're already behind schedule thanks to the sizable and delicious meal. Should you leave things as-is, you won't be able to open your stall tomorrow. It's still possible to do everything in time, but only barely... Besides, what would you do with her? It's not like this was expected. Just tidying up your place and then wandering around a dangerous forest in search of some boringly normal vines is hardly something which would make a good first impression. Then again, she knows that you'll be busy and said she's ready to help with anything.

[] Now.
-[] For additional plans.

-[] For additional plans.
[x] Now.
-[x] Think of a way to do some talking during these tasks.
-[x] Perhaps tell her more about what you do usually.

Well it's a start at least.
[] Now.
-[] Be willing to accept assistance offered, but don't get demanding. Starting off rude is a sure way to spoil the atmosphere.

Vote originally contained "and maybe drop a subtle hint or two", but given who we're talking to and what her ability is, she probably won't need that.
[x] Tomorrow.

No need to reveal the secret behind our spice production. And like the update said, cleaning is boring, whether you're watching or helping.
[X] Now.
-[X] Be willing to accept assistance offered, but don't get demanding. Starting off rude is a sure way to spoil the atmosphere.

If you want to make a good impression, be earnest. You've got work that can't wait, but you figure it'd be rude to put her off as well. Besides, she'll get to see just what kind of person you are as you work - a far more honest first impression than a formal, staged meeting.

And if she doesn't mind helping you, well, common ground is always good, and it'll give you something to talk about. If the two of you can't work together, that's a sure sign of things going sour in the future.
[X] Now.
-[X] Be willing to accept assistance offered, but don't get demanding. Starting off rude is a sure way to spoil the atmosphere.
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Updates will come, eventually. I'm just trying to catch up with my studies right now, so this thing isn't on the top of my priority list. I already said it in the first post, but it's very likely that pauses like this occur in the coming months.

Pic related: sneak peek of a possible route.
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She wants YOU!


[x] Now.

You look at your mother, considering your options. Her eyes are full of childlike curiosity as always as she watches you while you ponder whether it's okay to take an envoy of the Dragon Palace to the forest of magic to gather some vine... If she's ever heard of your business, which seems unlikely, she'll immediately connect said vine to your spice. And if she knows your secret, she will not tell anyone if she doesn't want to lose your trust. In the worst case scenario, you'll lose a tiny bit of your income. In the best case scenario, you both learn to trust each other. In other words, a risk worth taking.

“It's fine. She said she's prepared to help me, after all.”
Leaning back on the chair, you plan a little ahead. First you'll visit the forest while the sun is still up, then you'll... Finally... Then, if there's time...

“Oh? You'll let someone help you? How unusual.” Your mother makes one of her usual accurate, yet caustic comments. You've learned not to care about them. “But okay, I'll tell her she can come. Get prepared.”
As she gets up, you notice that her tails are trying to move but she's consciously keeping them in place. She must be more excited about this than you are.

Almost exactly fifteen minutes later someone knocks on the door. A small *pop*, caused by the sudden disappearance of any exposed youkai parts, marks the standard precaution procedure of the house.

“Greetings! I believe I have an appointment with your son, could you please be so kind as to let him know that I have arrived?”
You father, being both the master of the house and fully human, went to open the door. He was greeted by a pleasant, clear voice.

“Indeed. Please, come in. He should be ready in a moment.”
While he is a man of few words, it doesn't mean he doesn't listen to what is said. Only rarely does something pass by his ears without being heard.

“Ah, thank you.”
The door closes again, and the newcomer causes some noise while taking off her shoes. You would actually be ready to leave immediately, but she's already inside; it'd be rude to send her off without offering something to drink.

The first thing you notice about her is the shawl. It flows with the air as if woven of spider silk, emphasizing the slight movements of her shoulders. She moves with an air of graciousness while her red eyes examine the room with curiosity. She is not young, a fact clearly visible from the way she moves and from her face, but age has not taken its usual toll in her; her skin is still smooth and supple. It only takes her a second to scan the room and then fix her eyes on you.

“Greetings.” She bows her head a little, causing the red ribbon on her hat to nearly fall off. Her purple hair moves with her head, swinging just above shoulder level. You nod back in response, but she continues before you can respond in any other way. “I am Iku Nagae, a messenger of the heavens. Pleased to meet you.”
Offering her hand for a handshake, she steps a little closer to you. Your mother is watching from the other side of the room with your father. They're silently whispering something to each other.

“Seimei Modoru, restaurateur and a healer.” Giving her a firm handshake, you continue before she can interrupt. “Optionally, just 'Fox'. I've got many names, and that's one of those.”
To some, you are 'The healer'; some others know you as the 'Tofu guy'. A few call you 'Fox'. Those few are the ones you consider as your friends.

“So... Fox?” She tastes the name and nods. “Let do what must be done as fast as we can. Perhaps there will be some time left for something else when we are done.”

“If you really won't mind sorting out the mess I had to leave there.”
The mess at your place isn't actually half that bad. Going to the Forest of Magic is going to be the time consuming part, but you can't mention it here.

“I am ready to help you in any way possible. Now, shall we?” Iku heads outside with you following close behind her. Tyrande appears from wherever she was and slips out form between her dress and the door frame. “...oh!”

“My pet of sorts. She's shy.”
Stepping outside, you let the door close behind yourself after the obligatory goodbyes. Tyrande is clearly staying further away from you than usual, shying away from the new face.

“How did you tame a fox? I haven't seen a pet fox before.”

“Long story.” You shrug. “Which I guess I could as well tell.”
Beginning to explain how you met Tyrande, you head towards the Forest of Magic through the knee-deep snow.

At some point you begin feeling it again. Someone's watching. There's no-one around expect Iku and Tyrande, but you can't shake the feeling. Nervously glancing around, you try to spot the elusive onlooker.

“What's wrong?”
Iku, floating above the snow, notices your behavior.

“I'm not sure... it's as if I was being watched.”
Glancing around again, you try to find something that could be causing the feeling. The snow is untouched, the only sign of humans is the set of holes you left in the snow. The snowing has ceased, but the sky is still covered in gray clouds, the lands enveloped in the dim light of a winter evening. The white mat of snow has covered everything, leaving no places to hide. If there's someone, he has to be hiding in the nearby forest; your destination.

“Hold on a moment...” You feel a concentration of mana forming nearby. As you turn around, you see Iku floating a bit higher than usual with her eyes closed, palms pointing at the ground and her face turned skywards. The concentration gradually discharges as she stays like that, and when it's eventually gone completely, she reopens her eyes and looks at you again. “Odd... I could sense something, but it isn't like anything I've felt before. Well, it didn't seem threatening...”
She heads onwards while you look behind yourself one final time. There's nothing to be seen. Shrugging, you ignore the feeling and keep walking.

The feeling gradually fades away before you reach the forest. By the time you're in the forest, you've already forgotten about it, ready to look for the vines. The unnaturally thick layer of branches has prevented most of the snow from falling to the ground: as a result, there's only a relatively thin layer of snow, only up your ankle. Your eyes, already trained to find the correct species, quickly spots some of the right kind.

“This is what we're looking for.” You pick some of it to show Iku. “It's not rare, so you should find some if you just look for it.”
She takes the vine you give her and examines it for a while. Her brows furrow as she tries to make out some of the smaller details.

“This? What... makes it special? Does it have some healing properties? I know some plants do.”
As expected, she doesn't seem very thrilled about the idea of picking shrubs.

“It tastes good when used properly. This one's unexciting, but some of the plants I occasionally use for other purpses are rather... freaky. For example, there's the pulsating purple one.”
The small bag you had with you fills quickly as you both gather plants while chatting. Tyrande is nowhere to be seen, but you're not worried about her. She knows how to take care of herself.

“Okay, I think that's enough.” Ripping the last bit of vine from underneath the snow, you straighten yourself. “Now I have to hang these to melt and dry.”
You're ahead of the expected schedule now, having picked the vines just before sunset.

“Ah. I was afraid that we wouldn't get enough before it gets dark.” Iku is visibly relieved by the fact. “Let us leave this place as soon as we can; nothing good comes out of hanging around here.” She hands you the vines she's gathered before stopping to listen at something you can't hear. “Come on.”
Tugging your hand, she urges you to move. While she leaves you confused about the reason, you follow her. She does not seem weak, like you are, and you wouldn't be surprised if she really detected something nasty moving your way. Quickly leading you out of the forest, she doesn't stop until the forest is nothing but a dark line on the rapidly-dimming horizon. The clouds have dispersed, revealing the darkening sky.

“So, what was it that made you leave so swiftly? I know there's a variety of dangerous beings in the forest, but they rarely come near the edges.”
Your hand is a little sore from her constant urging to go faster as she finally releases it. Having already passed by the village gate, the potential danger is gone now.

“I do not know what it was, nor do I want to find out. Anyways, we're safe now.” She looks around, examining the scarcely-populated plaza which is near the easternmost gate. Some of the people still loitering around are shooting not-so-friendly glances at you and Iku. They're not stupid enough to attack, but they do make sure that youkai, at least those who aren't powerful enough, know that they're not welcome here. “...so, there was something you had to do at your place? Could I help with it?”
Finished with checking out the local sights, which include nothing and more nothing, she looks back at you.

“Well, it won't take long anyways, but yeah. There's some cleaning that needs to be done if I want to open my stall tomorrow.” Walking down the familiar alleys, you head home. “It shouldn't take more than half an hour: then we'll be done.”

It indeed takes about half an hour to hang the herbs to dry, wash the big pans and sweep the few tables you have for customers – most of what you sell is take-away. Pita sandwiches and other foods from the Outside have been popular lately, and you're the only one who has a book explaining how they're made.

“Thanks for the help. I couldn't have done it alone.”
You slide a large mug full of your best beer on the table in front of her. Taking a long sip form it, she lets out a drawn-out sigh while absentmindedly stroking Tyrande, who is now lying on the ground next to her. As with most non-humans, it didn't take long for the fox to grow accustomed to her.

“Haa... Quite a big house you have. How did you get it?”
She insisted on washing the pans even after you told her that it's the heaviest job. As a result, she's rather tired out. Her eyes are a little droopy now, and the beer won't wake her up.

“It's actually my dad's. He just doesn't need it so he gave it to me.”
Taking a mouthful from your own mug, you sit down opposite to her and savor the taste for a while. It certainly wasn't cheap, but still more than worth it.

“I see.” Drinking some more, she seems to gain a little bit of energy from the brew. “Say, would you mind if I stayed over for the night?”
You were already expecting the question from her, seeing how tired she is.

[] You won't.
-[] She can sleep with you.
-[] She can sleep in the bed reserved for your patients.
[] You would.
-[] Why?

Next up:
[] Cook something. What's better than a (second) dinner?
[] More beer.
[] Just go to sleep.


That's one long update. Took me two days to write it.
-[x] She can sleep in the bed reserved for your patients.
[x] Cook something. What's better than a (second) dinner?
[x] You won't.
-[x] Discuss the options and see which she'd prefer.

The two choices presume things while this allows her to make her choice. If that isn't allowed then I'll go with "[x] She can sleep with you."

Next up:
[x] Cook something. What's better than a (second) dinner?
[x] You won't.
-[x] She can sleep in the bed reserved for your patients.

[x] More beer.

From evening to morning,
and morning to evening,
I wanna drink something stronger than a man!
[c] You won't.
- [c] She can sleep with you.

Tempting fate.

[c] Cook something. What's better than a (second) dinner?

Do we have a picture of ourselves yet?
[x] You won't.
-[x] Discuss the options and see which she'd prefer.

Next up:
[x] Cook something. What's better than a (second) dinner?

Whether she enjoys our food or not is an important question. A delicious meal can smooth a lot over, and bad cooking is a source of friction, so why not see if she likes what our kitchen has to offer?
[x] You won't.
-[x] Discuss the options and see which she'd prefer.

[x] Cook something. What's better than a (second) dinner?
>-[] She can sleep with you.

Is that a proposition?
[x] You won't.
-[x] She can sleep in the bed reserved for your patients.
[x] Cook something. What's better than a (second) dinner?

Sleeping together after the first date is too soon for an arranged relationship that has long term potential.
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[x] You won't.
-[x] Discuss the options and see which she'd prefer.

[x] Cook something. What's better than a (second) dinner?

”Well, you have two options.” Sipping from your mug again, you leave her unsure about what you meant for a while. “You can either sleep in the bed reserved for my patients, or you can sleep in my room.” You shrug. “Up to you, really.”

“I’ll sleep in the patient’s bed, thank you very-“ Her colder-than-usual tone breaks as she yawns. Her eyes lose focus and she nearly tips over her mug while stretching her arms. “Mmh. Forgive me, I often get tired right after sunset.”
Looking at a spot somewhere behind you, her face is taken over by a dull smile.

“Uh… right. Should I prepare the bed right now or do you want to eat something?”
The words pass right through her with absolutely no visible effect. Only after repeating them does she react in some way.

“Huh? Oh, yeah, food sounds fine.” She blinks twice, looking rather confused for a second. “Just don’t make anything too fancy.”

“All right, just give me a few minutes. Scharf or nicht scharf?”
You ask the usual question without realizing that she may not understand it. However…

Sehr scharf.
…creatures from Heaven are not bound by language in the same way as terrestrials.

“Coming right up.”

Cooking is a form of magic in it’s own right. You need patience to make good food. You need determination to become a good cook. You need willpower to even get started, much less to continue after failures. You also need dexterity, stamina, a good memory, wisdom, knowledge and a bit of creativity. You, by no means a perfect cook, enjoy the feeling of satisfaction provided by seeing happy, satisfied customers. Having to tend to multiple pots and pans at once by adding a little bit of this into there and some of that into the other one is also enjoyable. You’re not sure why, but you just feel at home in the kitchen. Perhaps it’s all the sizzling and boiling and the scent of good food, or perhaps you just enjoy the physical aspect of cooking. Nevertheless, making a meal for someone also doubles as a relaxation exercise since you can’t do anything unless in a specific state of calmness.

You emerge from the kitchen about ten minutes later, carrying two bowls of wok with noodles seasoned with a hot sauce made of the best chili peppers in all Gensokyo – those from Yuuka Kazami. One day, she just appeared with a basket of fruit and said ‘If they don’t get used, they’ll just wither and rot away.’ From that day onwards she has appeared weekly with some of the finest vegetables and fruits you have ever seen, simply giving them to you and then leaving without a word. You’ve offered food, money, information – anything. She hasn’t even bothered to respond.

You receive some tired mumbling as an answer when you slide the bowl onto the table. After a moment, Iku carefully nibbles some of the noodles – and then devours the rest of the portion.

“It was good. Thanks.”
You’ve only barely begun eating your own bowl and she’s finished.

“Eh, the bed is upstairs. Just go up and then it’s the first door to the left.”
Still a little shocked by how fast she was, you watch quietly as she yawns again and heads towards the stairs. Unbeknownst to you, this would be the last time you see her for a while, for something that would turn your life upside down was decided at that precise moment…

About half an hour later, while you’re in your room reading, the last of the clouds drift away and the silvery moonlight creates a small spot on the book you were reading in dim candlelight, possible thanks to your not-completely-human eyes. Setting down the book, you walk to the window and look outside, only to be met by a sight of absolute, haunting beauty. The three-quarters moon has risen above the horizon, bathing the landscape in it’s mysterious dim light, the fresh snow reflecting the rays to create an infinite amount of twinkling stars under the actual sky. The air is completely still, not a single sound is to be heard from anywhere. A single star outshines the rest of the sky with its red light. Mars, the planet of war, was in opposition.

The long winter night had only begun as you feel an urge to go experience the freezing, yet unforgettably beautiful night by yourself.

[] The sheen night calls.
[] Stay inside where it’s warm.


Don't believe everything *they* say.
[x] Stay inside where it’s warm.

It's not worth freezing some just for an impulse.
[x] Stay inside where it’s warm.
[x] The sheen night calls.

>Her colder-than-usual tone
Iku's modesty is duly noted.
[x] The sheen night calls.
[x] The sheen night calls.

Night is for tricks. Let's turn into a fox and pester locals animals.
[x] sheen night calls.
[X] Stay inside where it’s warm.
[X] Stay inside where it’s warm.

Warmth was enough of an excuse to get grabbed by Reimu's mom, and it should be enough of an excuse to make sane decisions, too.
[x]Stay inside where its warm.

Baby its cold outside~
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[x] Stay inside where it’s warm.

The idea of exploring the night is inviting, but the idea of taking your blanket and rolling up inside it to read the book is also inviting. Cold and exciting versus warm and comfortable. You're in the middle of a motivational crisis as Tyrande suddenly bumps her head on your calf. Picking her up, you fetch the blanket and sit on the chair again, this time with your pet resting on your lap and with a blanket covering your legs.

Time passes quickly as you enjoy the shared warmth of a living body, and the shared wisdom of written word. The temperature drops somewhat, even inside, but it doesn't matter. With the blanket and Tyrande, there's no way you'd feel cold.

It is only when you reach the end of a chapter when you think of the time. Perhaps it would be better to go to sleep; you'll have to wake up early to prepare some of the ingredients. The trout you traded from Nitori has to be melted, and you need to check on your stock. Then you need to make sure you're all set to prepare and serve however much food the early birds want, all before sunrise.

That night, you dream of summer; of the scent of grass and dirt, the greenness of new leaves, the scorching heat of the sun, the mighty thunderstorms. Yet mostly, you dream of a specific place near where the river from the Youkai mountain sets into the Misty lake. The water flows rapidly, fed by the last remnants of snow melting on the highest peak. Your favorite spot is where the river bends and forms a stream pool. There you sat in your dream, listening to the song of flowing water, waiting for the bobber to sink. It was in that spot, two years ago, when you first met the kappa. The scene was very much like the one in your dream, only that it was spring, not summer. She just sat next to you without saying a word, and when you caught a fish, she started talking like there's no tomorrow. The only reason she ever gave you was that she was feeling a little lonely.

Something kneads your back. The pair of paws doesn't give up until you groan and swoop her onto your lap, rising into a sitting position while doing so. It's completely dark. The moon has to have set hours ago, and the first rays of sunlight haven't reached the horizon yet. A silvery cloud forms as you breathe out: a telltale sign of a cold day. Mumbling this to yourself, you get up to begin your morning routine.

“There you go, one kebab mit pommes frittes.
Storing the coins in your box, you sigh as the last customer leaves with his meal. It has been a busy morning. Sure, it's good for business, but you still prefer the more silent ones. Gives you time to think.

With the worst hubbub gone, it's time to check on your guest. You should've done it before opening your stall, but what's done is done. To your surprise, there's no-one in the room when you open the door. She made the bed and everything; only sign of her is a letter on the pillow. It reads simply: I apologize for the inconvenience. Iku.

Not a single bit wiser about her reasons, you return downstairs and begin tidying the worst of the mess left behind by your customers. There isn't really enough time to clean anything as the doorbell rings as a mark of a customer or some other visitor.

The said visitor is lady Scarlet, who, truth to be told, looks a little silly with her large, thick coat that covers even her wings and reaches down to her knees. Only her eyes are visible between her woolen scarf and beanie.

“Haa~ Such a cold day.”
With a relieved sigh, she begins freeing herself of the formidable arsenal of winter clothes she has as if she just got home.

“It's rare to see you this early in the day, lady Scarlet. How may I be of assistance?”
Setting your broom neatly in the corner, you remind her of your presence. Being so formal may not be necessary, but you're quite sure that she likes it.

“Sakuya's visiting the Netherworld, Chris is occupied with other matters, Patchy is in a bad mood and Meiling is just boring. That left you and Reimu. I chose you.”
She keeps talking as she turns her back to you when she hangs hear coat to the rack you got for your customers. Then she hops onto the nearest chair and lazily stares at you. It makes you feel uneasy.

“So... you chose me for what, exactly?”
The predator-like eyes of her finally break the tension as she checks one of her nails.

“To keep me company, of course.” She begins cleaning the underside of the nail she checked. You watch her, a little shocked by how she's acting as if this was completely normal. It takes a while until she notices your silence. “What, are you expecting me to spend the whole day with my nose buried in a book or something?”

“Eh, well... It's just that there's something important I need to do today, and that means I have to leave for some errands soon. I won't return until afternoon...”
It's true that you have something to do: you either need to check on the other shrine today, or you need to discuss some matter with the master doctor of Eientei. Then there's also the book you only remembered this morning. It's about botany so you could see if Yuuka wants it as a repayment for everything she's given to you.

“So?” Miss Scarlet shrugs. “I'll just come with you.”
Moving on to another nail, she keeps on cleaning her hands.

Is she coming with you?
[] Absolutely not.
[] Better not make her angry...

Where to?
[] The Moriya shrine.
[] Eientei.
[] The garden of Sun.
[x] Better not make her angry...
[x] The garden of Sun.
[x] Better not make her angry...
[x] Eientei.

It is never, ever a good idea to defer medical issues. Even as much as I would prefer seeing Yuuka or Kanako over the medical staff.
[x] Better not make her angry...

[x] The garden of Sun.

Let's see if she's scared of Yuuka too.
[x] Better not make her angry...
[x] Eientei.

well I guess things with Iku went alright, not sure if he'd get a second date or not. If so keep her modesty in mind.
[x] Better not make her angry...
[x] Eientei.
[] Better not make her angry...
[] The Moriya shrine.
[x] Better not make her angry...
[x] Eientei.

Time to visit the good doctor.
[x] Better not make her angry...
[x] Eientei.
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There was a disturbing lack of Eirin without her braid.


[x] Better not make her angry...
[x] Eientei.

“Fine, if you insist. I'm leaving in about five minutes so get ready.”
Certain enough that she isn't in need of any of the services you provide, you pick up the broom again and begin sweeping the spots still left uncleaned.

“So, how's business?”
Sweep, sweep. From below the chair, too. Sweep.

“Well, last week was a little quiet – no surprise given the amount of snow we got, but this morning was busy as ever.”

It takes a lot more than five minutes to leave. You seem to have underestimated Miss Scarlet's ability to control conversations. Regardless, after a few cups of tea, both of you are standing outside in the cold, crisp and incredibly sunny day. All the light reflecting from the fresh snow causes a stinging pain on your retina before you get more or less used to it. Seeing how bright, and cold, the completely cloudless day is makes it perfectly clear why Miss Scarlet has completely shrouded herself in winter clothing, choosing to leave her parasol home.

“This way, we're going to Eientei.”
Pointing down the alley where your shop is located, you instruct your unusual guest. The hairs in your nose feel like they freeze every time you breather in.

“Eientei? I haven't been there for a while. How's Kaguya doing, I wonder...”
Her short steps cause the stomped snow to creak as she catches up with you.

“I'm sure she's still alive.” Remilia's mouth is covered by the scarf, but you're quite sure that she smiled. “Anyways, I've been meaning to ask how Chris is doing. I haven't heard of him for a while.”
The sound of her footsteps disappears suddenly. Turning around, you see that she stopped on the spot.

“Ah... about that.” Her eyes pierce yours again, but the predatory glare is gone, replaced by something else. “I'm a bit worried, actually. He's barely said a word ever since he got the letter from his brothers. I know he loved his family more than he would ever admit. You should go see him soon and see if you can get him to talk. I have tried, Patchouli has tried, even Meiling and Sakuya have tried without success.”

“I'll visit him soon.”
Your promise is met by silence.

It takes a while to get to Eientei. The bamboo forest is by no means easy to navigate even if you know a few tricks. Snow doesn't make it any easier or faster. The sun has passed its zenith when you arrive to the large mansion. No-one's outside, but you're certain that they know about you already. Due to the sheer size of the mansion, they abandon a few of the outermost layers of rooms in the winter and only warm the ones which are actually used for living. This leads to a rather eerie feeling when one enters the building, the only thing welcoming the guests is an empty, frost-covered corridor. You're no exception. Miss Scarlet barges right in whereas you hesitate a moment, not sure if it's okay to go in uninvited.

“It sure is different in here. When Sakuya and I last came here, there were rabbits everywhere and Reisen welcomed us right after the doors.” Remilia takes off her beanie and shakes her head; it's gradually getting warmer as you get deeper inside. Her hair stiffly follows the rapid motions of her head. “And now? Just an empty corridor. It's like this place's been abandoned.”
Her breath still forms a silvery cloud as she takes off her scarf.

“I agree that it's a little odd. Maybe they're busy?”
Considering taking off your coat, you abandon the idea for the moment. The corridor's plain wooden floor and it's yellow, bamboo-patterned walls seem like they're in dire need of renovation.

A door open a little bit in front of you. A black-haired person with rabbit ears peeks from the opening.

“Ah! There you are. I apologize in the stead of the head doctor, who is very busy, and wishes you would join us for a while, Miss Scarlet. You can come through here too, mister Modoru. Miss Yagokoro wishes to see you.” The bunny girl shivers. “Come in! I'm cold already.”
Simultaneously glancing at each other, you and Remilia quickly cross the distance between you and the open door. A wave of warm air meets you as you enter the room where the bunny girl, dressed in a pink dress, is waiting for you.

“So, the doctor wants to see me. Do you know why?”
The question is addressed to the girl, now happily warming her hands on whatever thing it is that they use to warm this place. Miss Yagokoro called it “central heating” when you asked her.

“I think they have an urgent patient. She only told me to get you. Through there, third door to the left. Or, at least was when I came here.” She points at a door to your left. You nod at her as thanks. “Come on, Remi! The others want to see you, too! Let's go, let's go~ already~”
Jumping from her spot, the cheery little girl hugs the vampire next to you. Smiling at the sight, you leave them and head towards the doctor.

The corridor behind the door is much like the previous one, except the walls are purple instead of yellow. Even the bamboo patterns are the same. Okay, third door to the left. One, two... and nothing. The wall goes on for as far as eye can see. Sighing deeply, you curse the fickle layout of the place and begin your journey.

“I need the antibiotics already! And don't forget the ethanol!”
The head doctor's shout is soon followed by hurried footsteps and a familiar, cursing figure emerging from what seems like a perfectly normal spot of wall.

“Antibiotics... do I need to tell where she can put those- Oh, didn't notice you. Go right in, she's waiting for you. I need to get something for her.”
The lilac-haired rabbit hurries past you without saying another word. You should have a word with her later on. Still, you follow her advice and open the portion of a wall she just came through.

Eirin Yagokoro, the impressive-looking doctor of Eientei, was clearly not in the best of moods. Her usually carefully-braided silvery hair hangs loose, covering most of her back. Dark spots have formed under her gray eyes, most likely as a result of stress and lack of time.

“Ah! Just in time. I hear that you arrived and though I could ask for your opinion.” The doctor shrugs and continues writing on the paper she has on a holder. “It's possible that this falls more on your field.”

“Eh, okay. Just keep doing whatever you were doing. I'll be elsewhere for a moment. You know how I work.”
Eirin points at a chair near the door. You sit on it and take a look at your surroundings before closing your eyes and trying to recreate them in your mind. Right. In the middle of the room is a table. On it lies a woman in her late 30's. To the opposite to the entrance, on the other side of the table, is Eirin's admittedly messy desk. Most of the walls are covered with anatomical drawings, informational posters and strangely enough, a painting of Eirin. However, near Eirin's desk is another door which leads to the other rooms that are used for treatment – surgery room, a lab and Eirin's personal study.

You focus your attention on the woman lying on the table. A blueprint-like three-dimensional graph representing various functions of the human body appears. Complex and simple at the same time, you dive inside and attempt to find an error...

“There!” You cry out a single word as you figure it out. “I found it.” Opening your eyes again, you're a little surprised to see that Reisen has returned. “I can fix it, but...”

“But what? You need some supplies? It'll take a long time? If there's something we don't have, it's time.”
Eirin makes it sound like you weren't away at all with how she demands an answer.

“She'll be back on her feet tomorrow. The problem would be me. If I mend her kidneys, I'll be so exhausted that I can't even move... I'll probably pass out, too.”
Your way of mending wounds and healing people may seem perfect, but in fact it's extremely taxing on your magical reserves and physical strength. Besides, it doesn't always even work. Sure, you can make a deep cutting wound disappear before someone's eyes, but you can't return spilled blood. Fractures will mend, but broken bones will not locate themselves. Basically, the natural healing process has to have started already or you can't do it. In this particular case, the healing process has started, but if nothing's done, it'll never finish.

“Well, it's up to you. Either I'll clone her kidney for a transplant or then you'll do it. She'll be fine either way.”
The doctor fixes her gaze on you.

[] You'll do it.
-[] In a flashy way.
-[] In an efficient way.

[] She can handle it.
[x] You'll do it.
-[x] In an efficient way.
[x] You'll do it.
-[x] In an efficient way.

Its important to help other people when possible. As Eirin is the only one around, there doesn't seem any reason to be flashy and inefficient with our power. She knows how much effort it'd take to fix kidneys, so sound and fury probably wouldn't be impressive to her.
[x] You'll do it.
-[x] In an efficient way.

We're not Marisa, and we're trying to save a life instead of beat someone up. No reason to overcharge.
[x] You'll do it.
-[x] In an efficient way.

Normally I'd just cry about how "speeding" the healing process in an insufficient/failing kidney would be a horrible idea in a biological standpoint since it's impossible to recover the damaged tissue and structure of the neprhon and instead you'd be forming scar tissue (making it worse), but I'm willing to accept it as magic doing the work.
And getting a really tired Eirin to perform transplant surgery would be even more irresponsible if we can heal it as well and we're well rested.
[x] You'll do it.
-[x] In an efficient way.

Trying to be flashy with Eirin is not a good idea.
[x] You'll do it.
-[x] In an efficient way.
File 133644102588.jpg - (563.88KB, 988x768, c90009bcef8e4e2f46c5f443f3f6cde5.jpg) [iqdb]
[x] You'll do it.
-[x] In an efficient way.

“Fine, I'll do it.” If you were at your place, you'd have to put out the pipe, light some incense and slowly circle the patient a few times. In here, all you need to to is to get up from the chair and hover your hands over the patient's torso. “Just move me to a more comfortable position if I fall asleep after I'm done.”

“We'll let you work in peace. Udonge will check you every half an hour.”
Eirin leaves, closely followed by her long-haired assistant. Reisen closes the door behind herself, but not before glancing at you one final time.

You would actually have preferred if they stayed. It helps you relax if you can listen to something, even if it's as silent as someone else breathing. Nevertheless, they're gone now and you won't call them back. With a mental push, you force a bit of raw mana into your hands. Then a bit more, and a bit more... Soon, you're floating inside the blueprint of a human being again, expect that it's less of a blueprint and more like an actual being. The lines blur as you shoot towards your destination. There. Now, you'll need to use a neat trick to force the organ into thinking it's working as intended – and then use another, not so neat trick to actually make it work as intended.

Your reserves are being drained steadily as you restore the original functionality of the kidney in little portions. How many times you've done the same thing to yet another tiny portion is beyond you, as is the amount of time you spent doing it. Exhaustion is slowly creeping into you. The feeling is dulled by the trance but still clearly present. Another one. Another one. Another one. Each tiny bit of mended tissue neutralizes a little of your stored energy, and the stock is about to run out. Mended. Functionality restored. ...already working? Already working.

The trance breaks as you reach the portion you began from. Staggering back from the sudden awakening, you slump back onto the chair and let out a deep breath. There's no visual change in the condition of the patient, but your body feels like it's a bag of quicksilver. It wants to flow to the floor so badly...

The sun shines into your eyes through the open curtains. They have moved you into a comfortable bed in a small room. The room itself is ascetic, there's only a small drawer which doubles as a table in addition to the metal-framed bed. Similar to the other parts of the mansion, the walls are made of wood, but in here they are covered by a light-blue bamboo-patterned wallpaper. The window is directly to your left, you could close the curtains without moving, and the door a bit more than a meter to your right. Closing the boringly gray curtains, you wonder if there's a water source anywhere nearby, but decide not to adventure in an unknown mansion which is known of people getting lost in it.

It's probably a good half an hour until you hear someone coming closer to your room. The person's footsteps stop in front of the door, and you hear the lock being opened. A sleepy-looking, messy-haired person with rabbit ears attached opens the door.

“Oh... have you been awake for long?”
Reisen covers her mouth with her hand and lets out a yawn as she shuts the door with her other hand. She must have been awake for the whole time.

“About half an hour, I think. How long did I sleep?”
You'd throw the covers off you, but you're not sure if it's okay to be seen with nothing but underwear on.

“About... fourteen hours. It's six in the morning right now. Also, what's wrong with your eyes. They're different now.”
Huh? Oh, true. There's definitely something wrong with your eyes. You're not wearing your specs, and the world seems just as sharp as it should be.

“Ah.” With a little focusing, your eyes become those of a human again. The world blurs as you do so. “They must have reverted back while I was asleep.”
Changing them back is not a problem, but having fox eyes will make you stand out in the village. They don't like disguised youkai in there.

“So... Is there anything you need or do you want to leave right away? I ask if master has the time to check your eyes if you want to.”
Reisen yawns again, but not as widely as before.

Your human form is held by a seal, which is not exactly Eirin's field of work, but...

[] Fixing the seal takes priority.
-[] The Moriya shrine maiden can handle it.
-[] Hakurei shrine is easier to get to.
-[] Perhaps Eirin knows something about seals.

[] It can wait, you need to tend to your food stall. If you leave now, you'll be ready for the morning rush.
[x] It can wait, you need to tend to your food stall. If you leave now, you'll be ready for the morning rush.

It would be more efficient and I don't think things will get too bad. I'm not sure why he'd intentionally make his vision bad in human form.
[x] It can wait, you need to tend to your food stall. If you leave now, you'll be ready for the morning rush.

I would like us to meet Reiko again (because she's pure love and she looks so warm), but apparently she's gone now. So let's go with the stall.
-[x] The Moriya shrine maiden can handle it.

Apparently we have business there anyway.
[x] Fixing the seal takes priority.
-[x] The Moriya shrine maiden can handle it.

Ignoring a faulty seal is just asking for trouble.
[x] Fixing the seal takes priority.
-[x] The Moriya shrine maiden can handle it.
[] Fixing the seal takes priority.
-[] The Moriya shrine maiden can handle it.
So is skipping out on a busy morning period as that would raise questions that can't be stopped with "I was sick"
[x] It can wait, you need to tend to your food stall. If you leave now, you'll be ready for the morning rush.

It's understandable if the disguise dropped while we were asleep and exhausted. Since we'll be conscious during the morning rush, our disguise will be fine.
File 133775431593.jpg - (1.07MB, 1200x800, 7ceb26551002da791014c0838a0308f9.jpg) [iqdb]
It's a bit meh but I couldn't be bothered to find anything better.


[x] Fixing the seal takes priority.
-[x] The Moriya shrine maiden can handle it.

...it's better not risk it. Should the seal fail, you'd have to constantly expend some power to remain human. Failing that, the hideous form which is what someone could call your 'real form' would be exposed. That would not be a pretty sight, especially not in the village. You'd be banished, if not killed outright.
Thus, it's better find a professional. Like the shrine maiden of the Moriya shrine. You've heard that she's good, and even has the backing of two gods should something go wrong - much unlike the Hakurei maiden.

“Thank you for the offer, but my issue is a bit more... spiritual. The Moriya maiden should be able to help me; don't worry about it.”
It'd be nice if Reisen would leave for a moment so you could get dressed, but she should be considerate enough to realize it on her own.

“I see. Well, do not let me keep you here any longer. I'll come to deliver whatever master Eirin decides your time was worth at some point.”
Nodding, she turns around and leaves the room.

The problem with visiting the Moriya shrine maiden is that she lives on a high mountain which is in the middle of a typical swamp which is in the middle of a youkai-filled forest which is at the shores of a rather pleasant lake. The said lake often has mist on it when the sun rises, creating some wondrous sight. Or, at least it would if it was summer. Regardless of all this, you're rather pleased to run into Tyrande while you're crossing the (thankfully) frozen swamp. While not really worried about her, it's good to know that she's fine.

The swamp is boring in the sense that the kappa who live there tend to be inactive until nightfall and generally prefer warm weather. Everyone else has just gone to sleep, or in the case of an odd daytime dweller, hasn't woken up yet, despite it being nine in the morning. If there's a time of humanity, then it's morning for the same reasons. It doesn't make your trip any less boring, though. All you see is a few birds and one squirrel. Until you reach the mountain, that is.

One crow and two wolves. All tengu. Nope, make that two crows, there's another one circling above the clearing. It'd be bothersome to use the path they've 'built' so you decided to sneak through their area just for the heck of it, and for the added irony, from right next to their guard hut. Not as a human, though, that would be too time-consuming. You like watching the tengu go around their business, so certain that their area cannot be infiltrated when, in fact, there are several shortcomings in their predictable patrol routines. Figuring those was one of your jobs last year. Perhaps it'd be okay to give someone a promotion by pointing out some of them? Perhaps the one polishing her sword absentmindedly while gazing at the sky, the one with a red-and white dress and a maple leaf on her shield? Or perhaps the long-haired one with a completely red dress?

Well, whatever. They'll have to work their way up the ranks on their own. There aren't many opportunities to shine, though. Barely anyone, apart the shrine maiden or the witch, comes here. Even the two only come to... convince one of the newspaper writers to not to include some details on her paper. Like the one time when she had a picture of the two seemingly licking each others' crotches. It was a set-up by a very drunk oni, done to even more drunk pair of friends, but why would a journalist care about such things? Well, she decided to skip the issue and the next one for health reasons.

A smallish waterfall overlooks the clearing with the guard hut. The waterfall itself has frozen, a pretty sight in itself, but this hasn't stopped a fine-looking tengu lady from sitting on a rock near it. You're not completely sure about the lady part, but she's definitely not one of the worse looking ones. She has brown twin tails bound with purple ribbons and is completely immersed in fiddling with something that vaguely represents your personal portable long-distance instantaneous communications device. The massive coat she's wearing makes her look a bit like a coconut set on a similarly-sized rock.

She certainly doesn't seem like she is in need of company. You aren't in a hurry, and actually feel like talking to someone. The question is, should you talk to this stranger sitting on a rock, or should you hurry to the shrine and take care of your desire with a goddess?

[] Hurry to the shrine.
-[] Prank her anyways.
-[] See what she's up to.

[] Talk to the tengu.
-[] Watch her for a while before doing so.
[x] Talk to the tengu.
-[x] Watch her for a while before doing so.

Spirit photography is something nasty. Theorically. Practically, it depends from the writefag. Let's see if that one can catch you while you're watching a the tengu.
[x] Talk to the tengu.

well we blown off work so why not have a bit of mellow fun?
[x] Talk to the tengu.
[x] Talk to the tengu.
-[x] Watch her for a while before doing so.

>>34552, but to a much lesser extent.
Hello! You're being replied to because you could stand to work on your grammar, spelling, capitalization, and/or punctuation a bit.

If you're new, welcome to THP! If you're old, you should know how things work by now. Either way, in the future, please try to take a little extra time to make your posts neat. It's much appreciated!
[x] Talk to the tengu.
-[x] Watch her for a while before doing so.

Stay awhile and observe.
[x] Talk to the tengu.
-[x] Watch her for a while before doing so.
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[x] Talk to the tengu.
-[x] Watch her for a while before doing so.

Whatever she's doing, it certainly is immersing. You've sneaked right to her, so close that you can hear her silent breathing and mumbling.

“Not good... Needs to be clearer... Wrong place...” She speaks to herself while playing with her phone, clearly trying to choose something of several alternatives. Not finding a better place, you sit on a nearby rock/snowdrift. It's hard to say what is just piled up snow and what is a snow-covered rock thanks to the harsh, snowy winter Gensokyo has had this year. “Mmh, almost...”
Your spot is about a meter from her, approximately 120 degrees from her front. The mound of snow you're occupying is under a leafless deciduous tree, next to the thin, snaky vegetation-free area which marks the spot of the once so happily-flowing and pure stream that would inspire the thoughts of a tengu poet in the coming summer with the clear and pure song played by water flowing through the rough volcanic rocks. The spot would be beautiful indeed if it was summer, but right now it's dead silent apart the mumbling of the tengu with the odd picture-displaying apparatus. She is using it to browse through pictures of people, but the screen is too small to determine who it is she's looking for.

“Interesting thing you've got in there.”
You're sure she would have jumped higher if it wasn't for the massive coat she's wearing. As is, her short flight ends with a soft thump.

Her reaction times are certainly good. It only takes half a second for her to send short burst of bullets at you. Regardless, you have plenty of time to move out of harms way. Had you really wanted to fight, she would be busy avoiding your barrage of shots right now. But, as things are, you just stare at each other in silence.

“Hold it... Not interested in that.” Taking a step back, you reveal your hands to her as a sign of peacefulness. “But if you insist, there's this one spellcard I haven't tested yet...”

“You shouldn't be here. How did you get past the perimeter?”
Pointing at you, she comes a little closer and attempts to seem serious despite still being clearly surprised by your appearance.

“Tricks of the trade...” You shrug. “You don't need to worry about me finding out what goes on in here, I know it already... Anyways, what were you doing? It seemed interesting.”
Despite the attempt to ignore the issue, the tengu's eyes narrow as she closes what little distance remained between you two. Her eyebrows are black and narrow, natural or not, and her eyes are purple. If you'd have to define her with one word, that word would be sleek. She gives you a very good look at her somehow mild features as she leans closer, so close that you can feel her warm breath on your face. She matches a description on one of the reports you've had to read for your operations very closely...

“Kitsune. Twenty to thirty years old. Human father, works for the so-called Kitsune Communal Association without even knowing its true goals. Elite infiltrator and spy.” Cocking her
head a little, she continues the stream of facts. “Runs a food stall on his free time and inherited his mother's healing ability. Combat skills unknown; avoids open conformations and is capable of transforming into a fox.”
Smiling smugly, Hatate Himekeidou finishes her barrage. The only thing she got wrong was the name...

“Tengu. Age unknown, presumed to be between one and three hundred years. Works for Lord Enma without having the faintest idea about his goals.” You can only see her at the corner of your eyes, but it's enough to tell that she's excited about your counter. “Writes a newspaper on her free time and has serious problems with getting popularity for it. Combat skills unknown; avoids open conformations and is capable of transforming into a crow.”
Unlike her, you keep a straight face. While there's a lot you know, it's rare for you to reveal it.

“Not bad.” The tengu smiles. “Your bunch has certainly earned its reputation. Speaking of which, I have a suggestion for you. See, I happen to know that you need to know what the Hakurei maiden is up to. It just happens to be so that I need the same bit of information. Shall we help each other out?”

[] Certainly.
[] Only if [something]
[] Helping a rival is not a good thing.
[x] Only if you let me invite you to dinner.

Yes, it's cliché, but damn, let me turn that fox wizard into Bond, James Bond. PLease!
Did you mean 'confrontation'?

[x] Only if you let me invite you to dinner.

If only to see her reaction.
[x] Certainly.

We already have Iku.
[x] Certainly.

Hopefully we can make up for the night mishap.
[x] Only if you invite me to dinner.

Asking to let you invite her is giving her two favors for the one she's giving you, and inviting her onto your ground, where she doesn't have to give up anything but polite conversation. Use that charisma and press into her hospitality.

Also, the previous sounds too suave for my liking. I want more oarfish in our future.
[x] Certainly.
[x] Certainly.
[x] Certainly.

More 193 is always a good thing.
[x] "Only if you let me invite you to dinner."
-[x] ...Which you're just saying to mess with her, but how could you resist?

>Works for Lord Tenma without having the faintest idea about his goals.
Which is kind of a noteworthy thing to fix, as "enma" is an alternate for "yama".
If we're serious about going after Iku, I doubt a reputation of womanizer would be a good thing.
[x] Certainly.
[x] Certainly.

“I do not see a reason to disagree.”
There isn’t really a reason to agree, either, but having connections is never a bad thing… Reimu isn’t very secretive about her plans, so Hatete’s going to find out whether you help her or not.

“Excellent. I look forward to working with you.” Hatate takes a step back, creating some room between you and her. “So, where shall we begin?”
Her question leaves you with your mouth open. Maybe this wasn’t a good idea, after all…

“Ehhhm… The Hakurei shrine?” You sigh as she tilts her head, waiting for you to continue. “However, I have business at the Moriya shrine. Private business. Meet me there in half an hour.” A promise is a promise. You’re not going to break it for something as small as this.

“Why do you sound so disappointed? Was it something I did?”
Her eyes seem sincere as she looks at you, but that’s not telling much. The way she said it, as if in a hurry, made her sound a little odd.

“I just thought you’d know that a small donation makes Reimu rather talkative. Anyways, I have to take care of something. See you at the Moriya shrine.”
She displays only mild signs of surprise when the man she was looking at shrinks into a fox and runs off; soon followed by another, slightly smaller fox.

The waterfall where you leave your new partner is only a few minutes from the lake which was brought in with the shrine. Although small, it’s a pleasant addition to the otherwise harsh and rugged terrain surrounding the building itself. In spite of the hardiness of the place, the presence of two goddesses has allowed the shrine maiden to maintain a largish farm plot in one of the spots where some soil manages to fight the harsh winds. Having had a good enough look at the wind-blasted ridge, you drop what little money there is in your pocket into the mostly unused donation box and pull the string of the doorbell. It rings with a bright sound which is followed by footsteps approaching the door from the inside. The door slides open, revealing an impressive-looking purple-haired woman. Being as tall as she is, she has to look downwards to face you.

“Hm? I don’t think I’ve seen you before. How may I be of help?”
The mirror on her chest, the rope she uses for a belt, the combination of reds she wears. Kanako Yasaka, the goddess of wind and rain.

“I happen to need help with a faulty seal and heard this would be a good place.”
The reports mentioned her good looks, but she’s more than that. Balanced, curvy, friendly, wise. Those are all words which could be used to describe her.

“Then you indeed came to the right place! Come in, Sanae will have a look at it right away.” Flashing a smile, she steps aside and lets you enter before closing the door again. “Hey, Sanae! We got a visitor! Excuse me for a while.”
Kanako heads somewhere, leaving you alone in the sparsely decorated room. You use the time to take your shoes off and to marvel at the craftsmanship of the few items present. The quality of the metal, the finesse of the craft… you’ve never seen anything like that before. Saying that the outside is technologically advanced is insulting: they must’ve passed into the realm of magic already. How else could they transmit speech faster than sound travels?

“Come in! No need to be shy.”
An unfamiliar voice calls you further inside. Following it, you end up in what must be their dining room. Sanae Kochiya, the shrine maiden, is setting the table for four, and a pleasant scent of food is coming from the kitchen. You have occasionally seen her in the village, even if she hasn’t visited your stall.

“You have a guest?”
You happen to know that the shrine has only three residents so the fourth set of tableware strikes you as odd.

“Of course we do. You’re here.”
Sanae states it as if it is the most natural thing in the world and continues setting chopsticks next to the plates and cups.

[] You’re in a hurry and don’t have time to eat.
[] It’d be rude to decline.
[] Ask them if it’d be fine if Hatate came too.
[x] It’d be rude to decline.
[x] It’d be rude to decline.

So far, my favourite part is this story being hugged by the Hakurei miko while being in fox form.
[x] It’d be rude to decline.

As much as I'd like to possibly get Hatate a meal, I'd think that'd be overimposing but at the same time we shouldn't disrupt the mood.
[x] It’d be rude to decline.

He is here to ask a favor. Can't go possibly slighting them before they can help him now.
[X] Ask them if it’d be fine if Hatate came too.
We can't forget our wing-ed acquaintices.
[x] Ask them if it’d be fine if Hatate came too.
-[x] If not, you’re in a hurry and don’t have time to eat.
[x] Ask them if it’d be fine if Hatate came too.

Every option has a notable downside here - declining is notably rude to the Moriya-ji, and accepting means bailing out on our timetable agreement with Hatate. Overimposing a little really doesn't seem so bad in comparison.
I see trying to impose as worse than accidentally getting sucked into something. Hatate'd understand if the gods insisted on something... not so sure about the gods on Hatate. They'd either welcome the PR or revile the breach of privacy.
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[x] It’d be rude to decline.

“I don’t think I can decline anymore.” you nod as Sanae beams a smile at you, “Your patronage is generous.”

“Guests are so rare in here!” Setting out the last set of cutlery, she takes a step back to appreciate her work. “No-one bothers to visit, apart from the occasional Kappa who only come to buy something we brought from the outside.”
Nodding in approval, the shine maiden disappears into the kitchen before reappearing with a large bowl of rice. She sets it in the middle of the table.

“I thought the tengu came here every now and then. They must have stopped coming.”
One can’t know everything.

“Some of them still visit, but they rarely talk to any of us in here… I guess the wolves are a bit like that, silent and serious. Anyways, have a seat.” She pulls back a chair and offers the spot to you. Thanking her again, you sit down. “Just wait a moment; Kanako will be here soon… Suwako too, if she is here.”
Just as Sanae says, the tall, impressive goddess enters the room nigh immediately. She comes from the kitchen, too, carrying two smaller bowls filled with different sauces. They’re vegetable based, but one has some pork in it.

“You can count Suwako out. She went to see Orin and Okuu.”
Adjusting her strikingly purple hair a little, the goddess takes a seat beside you. Her shrine maiden sits opposite of her and takes some rice from the large bowl. You’re the next one to receive the bowl.

Pfee… they made you eat a lot more than you should have eaten. It wouldn’t be a problem, but you're scheduled to meet with Hatate any moment now. She probably would have at least knocked on the door if the appointed time had already passed.

“…and then she said ‘I’ll get you, just wait!’ Well, it was the last I saw of the ice fairy. Anyways, I heard you had a problem with a seal, Seimei. I could have a look at it now.”
Kanako chuckles at Sanae’s story for some reason. You didn’t find it funny, but smile amusedly out of politeness.

“Ah, yes. That’s why I came here in the first place, but…” You glance at Kanako. “…could we go somewhere a bit more private?”
You’re quite sure that a goddess, unlike a human, wouldn’t mind seeing where the seal is, but it’s better to retain some modesty while in a shrine.

“Private matters, hm?” Sanae points at the door, signaling you that behind it would be a better place in terms of privacy. “Don’t worry, my lips are sealed, as ironic as that may sound.”
Getting up, you both head towards the room Sanae pointed at.

“I’ll worry about the mess. You just… do what needs to be done, whatever it is.”
Something about Kanako hints that she may not do what she says she will. Nevertheless, she begins collecting the various pots and cups as Sanae closes the door.

“So, what would be your problem?” Glancing at her, you chuckle. Why not? A moment later, she’s staring at you, looking shocked. “O-k… And what’s wrong? And where?”
It was only for a second, but your ears, hands and feet changed into something which is neither that of a human nor that of a fox, but something from the between. You also grew a thin layer of fur. It is… not a pretty sight.

“This seal in here.”
Without a warning, you lower your pants a little, revealing the intricate seal that is tattooed on your pelvis.

“Ah. Yes, I can fix that. Just lie down and stay still. This may pinch a little…”
Surprisingly, it actually does only pinch a little. Instead of physical contact, her methods involve a lot of praying and chanting. At the end of the ritual, she only prods your seal with her gohei, sending a wave of cold into your body. The odd feeling that something’s wrong disappears as the wave passes through you. The whole operation took less than ten minutes.

“Sanaeee! I’m going to open the bottle we got from Izayoi!”
Kanako’s voice carries from the kitchen, oddly enough at the same moment Sanae finishes her treatment.

“The wine? But it’s still so early…”
The priestess’ tone reveals that she’s already given up.

“Of course! When are we going to drink it, then? With Suwako?” There’s a short silence, during which Sanae shakes her head and plants her palm on her face. “She’s going to be back tonight and we even have a new face in here now.” The door to the dining room opens, revealing Kanako with a bottle of fine-looking wine and a wide grin on her face. “So, how about it?”
The question is asked from you, even if she’s looking at Sanae.

[] Absolutely not. You need to go to the Hakurei shrine.
[] Hell, why not?
-[] Call for Tyrande and tell her to bring a (message) to (person)
[x] Absolutely not. You need to go to the Hakurei shrine.
-[x]Promise to drop by some other time

I feel bad about leaving Kanako but there are things to be done.
[x] Hell, why not?
-[x] Call for Tyrande and tell her to bring a "Couldn't come. Had to save the mountain from a drunken angry god" message to "Iku".
[x] Hell, why not?
-[x] Call for Tyrande and tell her to bring a "Couldn't come. Had to save the mountain from a drunken angry god" message to "Iku".

[x] Absolutely not. You need to go to the Hakurei shrine.
-[x]Promise to drop by some other time

Can't just go brushing aside previous arrangements for something that is easily done another time.
[x] Absolutely not. You need to go to the Hakurei shrine.
-[x]Promise to drop by some other time
[x] Absolutely not. You need to go to the Hakurei shrine.
-[x]Promise to drop by some other time.
File 133989707289.jpg - (219.25KB, 800x1000, 1336728113252097.jpg) [iqdb]
[x] Absolutely not. You need to go to the Hakurei shrine.
-[x]Promise to drop by some other time

“Thank you for the offer, but I'm afraid I have to go. There's still a lot to be done today and it can't wait anymore.” Then again, it's not every day that a goddess desires to drink with you... “But how about tonight? You could gather some more people and I could bring a little something, too.”
Leaning on a wall, you check your pockets and find the ball-point pen you took with you yesterday. Nifty little thing; one of the few items from the outside that are both plentiful and easy to use.

“So... are you really going to make something out of this?” Sanae shoots a piercing look at Kanako. “Because I have to check our stores if you are... It's indeed been a while since we last did something like this.”
The priestess turns around and heads towards the exit as you continue to search your pockets for some paper.

“Well...” Kanako rubs her chin with one hand and leans on the door frame with the other, completely forgetting that she has the bottle of wine with her. She drops it, but a sudden gust of wind slows its fall before it hits the floor. “Oh. Whoops. What was I- oh. Yes. We could call the vampire and her servant - haven't seen them in ages - and a few of the kappa too... Marisa will be here whether we call her or not, as will Reimu.” Sanae clicks her tongue and sighs as she throws on her coat and steps outside. “It's a bit too cold to be outside, so we'll actually have to keep it at that. Feel free to bring someone, but try not to choose someone who doesn't get along with the others...”
Looking satisfied with herself, she absentmindedly heads towards the kitchen, muttering something as she goes. The wine bottle remains on the floor, forgotten.

“Eh... got any paper? I need to make a note...”
Your unfruitful search doesn't manage to divert Kanako's attention. She just points at something you can't see.

“There should be some in there... Now, if we...”
Lucky for you, Sanae returns from her trip to the store room as Kanako disappears into the kitchen, deep in thought.

“All right, we're- oh. She went to plan something, didn't she? Well, anyways, we have enough for a feast. Come back as soon as you can; we could use some help setting things up.” Then again, paper isn't so important if you're going to come back later on. Pocketing the pen again, you wait for Sanae to take off her coat and shoes before putting on your own. “See ya!”
A wave of cold air greets you as you open the door. Brr.

“I'm not exactly sure how long this will take, but I'll get back as soon as I can. See you then.”
Waving a goodbye, you take a few steps and, when the door closes behind you, shift shapes.

“That took quite a bit more than half an hour.” A voice calls for you from above. Glancing at Hatate, who's sitting on the branch of a nearby tree, you sit on the snowy ground. Your tail sinks into the snow. It feels funny. “Had more problems than expected, eh?” Heaving herself forward slightly, the tengu nimbly drops to the ground. “No matter, as long as we can do what we agreed on.”
Hm. It's probably worth it to explain the situation to her.

“They insisted that I stay for dinner and it would have been rude to decline.” Your glasses sunk a little as you shifted shapes, but a little prod fixes the problem. “Then the resident goddess asked me to stay for a drink. I had to decline the offer, but promised to drop by later tonight.” You shrug to emphasize the coming point. “One thing led to another and they decided that they'd invite some more people and hold a party...”

“That's nice, but what does it have to do with this?”
Hatate tilts her head and lifts an eyebrow.

“They said that Reimu would come, invited or not. That would... make our job quite a bit easier.”

“I see. So, you're suggesting that we ditch going to the shrine and look for her at the party instead?”
Her boots must be unsuitable for this kind of weather: there's snow halfway up her knee even when she's wearing those. She does not, however, seem to care about it.

“That's an option. I need to go back to the village, so going to the shrine wouldn't be a long side trek.”
The cold is slowly starting to bite through your clothing. With the trees leafless as they are, they don't do much to stop the wind from blowing through the forest.

“I don't really care which way we go. As long as it gets done.”

[] You'll find Reimu later tonight.
-[] Ask if she wants to come with you to help with the preparations.
[] It's not completely certain that Reimu will be there; go to the Hakurei shrine.
[x] It's not completely certain that Reimu will be there; go to the Hakurei shrine.

I think a reasonable voice with an offer of free food should convince Reimu.
[x] It's not completely certain that Reimu will be there; go to the Hakurei shrine.

Even if she's coming, it's nice to invite her and stuff. But I'd rather have Tyrande coming along, so that Seimei can pet his pet fow while laughing maniacally like some kind of evil genius.
[x] It's not completely certain that Reimu will be there; go to the Hakurei shrine.

We have slowed down our allies-of-convenience enough for one day, I think.
All right, votes called. Thank you for your lack of interest.
I blame that chronograph story for burying this. /shrine/ rarely moves fast enough to have most people realize there's more than one story with an open vote.
Stop being a drama queen.
Some of us read the story without voting. I am one such.
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[x] It's not completely certain that Reimu will be there; go to the Hakurei shrine.

“Let's get it out of the way, then. Come on.”
You nod towards where the shrine is.

“Now we're talking.”
Hatate crouches, jumps and shifts into a crow. Fwap, fwap, fwap... Her wings beat the air, causing a sound so typical to the wings of a large bird.


A gust of wind blows through the forested landscape as a crow takes off. A smaller bird, hidden somewhere below, ceases its warning call soon after that; it is not visible from above, but a fox also left the general vicinity. The shrine, eh? Just as planned.

“Ufufu... He's so simple.” Well... you didn't actually think he'd go to the shrine, but the plan was so good and everything... Besides, it still works. Probably. Most likely. The plan will work, but you're not sure what will happen if it does. What was it again? Oh, right. It was to kill his family, friends and all he holds dear. No, wait, that was the early version. “Damn it, shouldn't let her do all these plans. Now, where'd I put it again...”
Your hand hits a piece of paper in the last possible pocket. Right: plan of obtaining the Holy Grail from the castle of Aaaaaaaaaaaagh... *flip* Plan to bathe alone in the nice pond in the Forest without to knowing about it.

Ah. So, that was it. You sigh. Why can she just lock the goddamn door when she wants to bathe alone? Seriously... It's the middle of the winter, the pond probably frozen to the bottom, and you have to do this. You can't really object to her, however much you wish to do so..

Sighing again, you attain some altitude to remain unseen and follow the black dot that is the tengu.


“Hello? Anyone here?”
You call for Reimu just as Hatate, in her humanoid form again, lands on the porch next to you. Her eyes are wide open as she looks around.

“I'll be there in a moment!”
Reimu's voice sounds muffled; she's probably at the back of the shrine. It occurs to you that you left all your money at the Moriya shrine's donation box, and thus won't be able to persuade Reimu into talking. Well, a promise of free food should be enough...

“What's she doing?”
Hatate seems to be more interested in the shrine than Reimu; she's strolling around the porch and looking around corners to see what's there.

“Taking a dump or something. Who cares, she said she'll be here soon.”
Just as you expected, some footsteps can be heard from inside as soon as you finish. The front slides open soon afterward, revealing an energetic-looking shrine maiden.

“Sorry about that. So, what bring you here and who's that?”
Not letting you inside, she steps outside and closes the door behind herself while pointing at Hatate. Seems like you need to be quick, she won't last long in this weather without proper clothing.

“I'm just a curious tengu reporter. I've never been here and he said he has something to do here so I thought I'd tag along.”
At the other end of the porch, Hatate takes a few quick steps towards Reimu and shakes her hand even if the shrine maiden clearly wasn't expecting her to do so.

“Well, fine. Just don't cause any trouble and you'll be fine. So, what brought you here?”
Reimu nods at you to tell who the question was appointed to.

“I was just wondering if you have something planned for tonight or tomorrow; they're planning on a party in the Moriya shrine, and you're invited. I thought I'd come and ask you in person even if they said you'd be there anyways.”
Today and tomorrow will have to do for now. You can ask more when she's drunk, or tomorrow, whichever comes first. Your bet is on the first one.

“And that would be tonight?” You nod. “Well, count me in. Marisa will come, too, whether they want her to or not.” A short silence occurs, during which Hatate peeks around the other corner. “So... that was it? I hope you won't mind, but it's a bit cold in here.”

“Yep, that was it. See you later.”
You glance around as Reimu goes back inside, but Hatate is nowhere to be seen. Whatever, it's not like she's got anything to do with you anymore.

It takes more than an hour to get back to the village. It would've taken even longer for a human: part of the reason why Reimu's shrine is so unpopular among the general populace. Today seems to be a silent day: not many have bothered to come outside. It's not completely lifeless, though. There's someone advertising his shop and a few kids playing on the streets. No matter the weather, the kids won't stay inside.

You barely have time to take your coat off when someone knocks on the door. It turns out to be Reisen, shaking from the cold. She's got a scarf, mittens, a jacket and even a pair of pants but even all that isn't enough.

“Oh. Come in.”
You step out of the way to let her in. She doesn't waste time doing so.

“Thank you. It's damn cold when you have to stay still for hours to sell something.” She moves her scarf so her mouth becomes visible. “So, I was told to give you this.”
She takes a bar of some silvery metal form within her jacket and hands it to you. It's surprisingly light for it's size.

“Eh, thanks?” Turning the bar around in your hands a few times, you look back at her. “So, what's this? Some sort of steel alloy?”
You're not an expert on metallurgy so you haven't got the faintest idea about what to do with the bar of metal.

“Aluminium. As strong as steel but considerably lighter. Also a better conductor.”
You're not even sure what a conductor is, but if it's really as strong as steel, it should fetch a nice price from the local smith...

“So... want something hot to drink? I was about to make some tea for myself.”
Setting the bar of aluminium on the nearest table, you hurry towards the kitchen.

“Ah, yes, thank you. I really could use something hot right now.”
You see her taking off her scarf completely from the corner of your eye.

“All right, just wait a moment.”
She pulls back a chair as you disappear into the kitchen.

[] Reisen looks like she could use a party. Ask if she's interested.
[] Ask someone else. Who?
[] Go alone.


Work work!
[x] Reisen looks like she could use a party. Ask if she's interested.

Let's have her lighten up some.
[x] Reisen looks like she could use a party. Ask if she's interested.

In the Inaba manga, Reisen becomes funny when she's drunk. I hereby declare our next goal to be "get Reisen drunk"!
[x] Reisen looks like she could use a party. Ask if she's interested.

If anybody needs to relax a bit it's probably her.
[] Reisen looks like she could use a party. Ask if she's interested.
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[x] Reisen looks like she could use a party. Ask if she's interested.
[x] Write a letter inviting the envoy of the Dragon Palace, if your letter would reach her in time.

We shouldn't forget about Iku, although I guess it's debatable whether she'd actually want to come or not. Also,
British localization detected. Seriously though, before the Hall-Heroult method was refined, aluminium was worth way more than gold or platinum by mass. Provided Gensokyans don't have access to bauxite deposits and a huge amount of electricity from the Kappa, Eirin's sent us a very nice thank you indeed.
[x] Reisen looks like she could use a party. Ask if she's interested.
[x] Write a letter inviting the envoy of the Dragon Palace, if your letter would reach her in time.

Aaaaand my targeting computer is switched on. Sorry about my judgment being so shot to hell that it leaves me trying to score points towards two routes at once.
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This is a hairy Reisen.


[x] Reisen looks like she could use a party. Ask if she's interested.

Pot, water, stove, tea, cups and… Almost everything that’s needed is there; the only lacking thing is a fire. After throwing a few sticks and some larger pieces of wood into the fire box, you lean closer and turn your hand around so the palm faces the ceiling. Fwmp. An orb blue flame appears – and extinguishes as soon as the twigs catch fire. Blowing at the normal, yellowy-orange flames a few time to make sure the fire doesn’t go out, you set the water-filled pot on the stove above the fire. Foxfire can be handy, especially because it doesn’t burn its creator: the problem with it is that it isn’t suited for long-term usage as it tends to become unstable.

“Nice place you’ve got here. Roomy.”
Reisen, now clearly more relaxed and no longer cold, comments your place from the bar. You didn’t notice her moving there.

“Yeah, I kind of like it too.” Setting a cup in front her, you sit down too while waiting for the water to boil. “I just wish it wasn’t quite this big. It’s a bother to keep it clean.”
The hum of fire and the warmth radiating from the fireplace creates a cosy feel. Reisen twirls some of her impressively long, lilac hair around a finger and then lets it go. The fire reflects from her eyes as she looks around your kitchen, her elbows on the bar and her chin resting on the hand not occupied with her hair.

“Try guessing what it’s like in Eientei… We’ve got more than enough space to take care of, even if there are large areas that require little to no maintenance or cleaning.”
She sounds somewhat distant, clearly going through the countless corridors and rooms of the nigh-infinite mansion of her masters. You think she’s going continue, but the water boils and she remains silent as you get up to go and fetch it.

“Has to be even worse for you.” Reisen nods in thanks as you pour her cup full of water and add a pinch of tea leaves before doing the same to your own cup. “Regardless of all that, I was asked to bring someone to tonight’s party at the Moriya shrine. Would you mind coming with me?”
Setting down the pot, you sit down to wait for her answer.

“I… guess I wouldn’t. Yeah, there isn’t anything that needs to be done today.” She nods again. “Yeah, I’ll come.”
Her voice becomes a bit more cheery for the last bit.

“Good. I’m not completely sure when they’ll start, but around sunset should be a safe bet. I’ll be there to help with the preparations if you feel like coming earlier, though.”
You sip from your cup, only to find out that the tea is still too hot and doesn’t taste like anything yet. Bleigh, burned tongue…

“I don’t actually have anything to do so I could come and help with the preparations, too. Going home would be a bother since I would have to leave almost immediately to make it in time.”
Smiling at your failure, she blows into her own cup to cool it down.

“You don’t have to help us, I’m sure we’ll make it in time even without you having to waste your time there.”
She’s already decided about it, but you feign resistance for now. Giving up without even trying doesn’t sound good to you.

“It’s fine. I wouldn’t have anything better to do anyways. Besides, it’s nice to help people.”
Reisen blows at her drink one last time, brings it to her lips and takes a sip. You’d do the same, but your previous failure is still fresh in mind. Better wait just a little before trying again.

“All right, if you insist.”
It’s a bit odd that she doesn’t need any time to prepare. You’re about to ask about the tea, but movement at the corner of your eye catches your attention. It turns out to be Yuuka Kazami, standing outside the door and peering inside despite the ‘closed’ sign. She doesn’t seem to notice you or Reisen.

[] Go open the door for her.
[] She’ll come back later if it’s important.


But you haven't even met everyone...
[x] Go open the door for her.

It's usually better to see what she wants than to try ignoring her.

And I'm keeping my options open as for one, no girl has yet to take a decisive opinion lead for me. Not like AoS1's Yukari.
[x] Go open the door for her.

It'd be rude to ignore her after all she's done for us.
[x] Go open the door for her.

That'll do.
[x] Go open the door for her.

It would be just downright rude to let a lady stand out in the cold like that.
[x] Go open the door for her.
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If you don't read the story, read it.
If you don't like the story, skip to the end of the update and read the not-part-of-the-story part of the post and tell me why you don't like the story.

The updates of this story will become sporadic for now. I'll tell you more when I myself know something more. Pic related.
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[x] Go open the door for her.

“Just a moment, there's someone at the door.”
You hear Reisen turn around on her seat as you push yourself off the stool and head towards the entrance of the stall.

“Oh, it's her.”
Reisen, the teacup still in her hands as you glance backwards, gets up too. Her long, violet hair flows off the chair a little stiffly, hinting that she hasn't had time to wash it properly recently.

“You know her?”
Stopping momentarily before pulling the door open, you notice that Yuuka has seen you. The tiny moment before your hand yanks the door open is enough for Reisen to nod.

“Hello! I've got a little something for you.”
Smiling widely, Yuuka offers an orange pile of hair to you. Said pile moves a little and a pair of ears and a snout appears. Tyrande yawns and looks at you before resting her head on Yuuka's arm again. You have to back off a little in surprise, amazed by the flower lady's ability to keep the animal calm.

“Oh. Where did you find her? I haven't seen her since morning.”
A little nervous about the presence of an elder youkai like she is, you attempt to relieve some of the pressure by gently petting Tyrande. The effect is opposite of the intended since your hand has to be dangerously close to her bust.

“I ran into her on my way here, near where the stream sets into the Misty lake.”
Yuuka does not seem to mind your hand near her breasts. In fact, she smiles heartily and looks at the fox, seemingly pleased at the warmth and softness of the animal in her arms.

“Oh. I'm sure that she would have found her way back in that case, but it doesn't seem like she dislikes your company.”
Encouraged by Yuuka's reaction, you ruffle the fox's head some more.

“Was that the reason you came here for?” A voice comes from behind you; Reisen decided to join the conversation and she doesn't sound very polite. “Bringing his pet to him despite knowing that it isn't uncommon for it to wander around Gensokyo for days seems a little odd...”
You can't see Reisen's expression, but Yuuka's eyes narrow as she looks at somewhere behind you. The forming tension between the two is easily felt.

“No, that is not the only reason...” If the tone of the flower youkai's voice would be a weather, it'd be a blizzard. “But I suggest you drop that tone right now. I had no intention to fight, but I also dislike being insulted.”
Shoving the pet fox to you, Yuuka crosses her arms and shifts into a more combat-ready stance. The change is slight, but noticeable because you're so close. The room gets filled with a deadly and chilling silence, as if all sounds were muffled.

“Inaba, drop it.” Your voice, in an unusually commanding tone, breaks the silence. “Kazami, remember that I haven't given you the permission to enter.”
Staring directly at Yuuka's red eyes, you trust the well-being of both you and Reisen onto her common sense. It is forbidden to fight in the village, but she is powerful enough to make short work of Kamishirasawa and escape before the shrine maiden has a chance to react. Not that she couldn't obliterate the shrine maiden if she wanted to, it's just that she doesn't want the barrier to fall and thus plays by the rules.

“Hm.” Closing her eyes, Yuuka faces downwards and stands down. “Fine. It's such a nice place, after all.” Glancing at you, she flashes a smile. “If you're interested, contact me.”
She winks and then leaves, but not before leaving a letter on the same table where the bar of aluminium is. A mysterious person, she is.

“Hmph. Nothing but trouble.”
Reisen expresses her dislike and sits on her seat again while you pick up the letter Yuuka left and pocket it.

It takes a while until you manage to restart a conversation, and even then it isn't about anything meaningful. Eventually, when both of you have finished third servings of tea, it's time for you to begin the preparations for tonight. Reisen offers to help you with them, but you'd rather have her relax as it's clear that she hasn't had time to do so recently.

[] Have Reisen bathe while you prepare things – and read Yuuka's letter.
[] Let her help you.
[] Bathe together.
[] Have Reisen bathe while you prepare things – and read Yuuka's letter.
[X] Have Reisen bathe while you prepare things – and read Yuuka's letter.
[X] Have Reisen bathe while you prepare things – and read Yuuka's letter.

bathing together is tempting but it's outweighed by two things: Seeing what Yuuka's letter says and the risk of the shared bath coming back to haunt us in the worst way at the worst time.
[x] Tactfully offer the use of your bath to Reisen while you prepare things – and read Yuuka's letter.

It's better to offer a bath than to say "Go bathe now." It prevents one from sounding insulting.
[x] Tactfully offer the use of your bath to Reisen while you prepare things – and read Yuuka's letter.

I agree with >>34815. Luckily, Yuuka seems to be a nice person in this story, so she won't be waiting for us near the stand to rip us in pieces.
This hasn't been abandoned, but due to drastic and sudden changes in my life, I'm more or less unable to write more than one story. I'll try to update this one, too, but I just tend to be too tired when I get to visit home on weekends.
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[x] Have Reisen bathe while you prepare things – and read Yuuka's letter.

The conversation makes you feel like Reisen is somehow reluctant to speak. Her answers are short and to the point, and while not rude, they're a bit blunt. It's probably something between her and Miss Kazami. Letting her remain quiet, you watch a couple walk along the street your booth is located on.

It's silent, the crackling of the fire being the only thing keeping the room from total silence. Tyrande is sleeping on the table right next to the fire, on the spot which is usually used to prepare food. The table the fox is occupying is in a corner: if you'd look at it from the middle, you'd see the stairs to its left and the wood-powered stove and the overly large brick oven to its right. A rather large set of kitchenware is located on a set of shelves above your sleeping pet. The wall opposite to the oven, to the left of where you and Reisen are seated, has a closet and some smaller drawers which hold the daily needs of your kitchen.

That is, of course, what you see. The lunatic eyes of the youkai next to you see something else; what is may be, you do not know. Still, the fire and the part of the room near it reflects from her eyes during the relatively silent moment. Of course, the other shopkeepers have to advertise their wares despite of what you're doing. The village is never quiet during daytime, and only rarely at nighttime either.

“Hey.” Reisen slowly turns towards you, bringing herself back to this place and time from wherever she was. “I'm going to do some preparations for tonight. Would you... want to take a bath or something?”

“Eh...” Her brows furrow a little and she looks at something a little above your shoulder for a moment. “... If you won't mind, sure. Why'd you ask?”
She immediately looks at you again. Her ability, or at least the part she can control, remains unused. The part she can't control loses effect if you see her often enough. You two don't really meet that often, but it's still enough for you to retain your immunity to it.

“I just thought you may want to.” Telling her that it was the first thing not related to the preparations that came to your mind can remain a secret. “I noticed that your hair looks like it could use one before we leave.”
Getting up from the stool, you gather the teacups and leave them next to Tyrande. She doesn't wake up.

“Isn't randomly offering baths to someone you don't know very well a little... odd?”
Reisen is resting her head on her knuckles, her elbows resting on the bar counter. She's looking at you, her eyes a little squinted and her brow lightly furrowed.

“Do to others what you'd like that thou do to you.” It's better not to seem like you want to get too close to her. “That's what Chris has said a few times.”
At least, not yet. Not before you know what she thinks of it, and whether she can be trusted...

“Chris? The name sounds faintly familiar...”
It wouldn't be the first time that someone has decided that you're weak to easy and good-looking women. That tactic would seem a little below the brain of the eternal mansion, but no-one apart herself and perhaps the princess knows her goals and reasons.

“He's been to Eientei twice. Works for the vampires. You remember the guy who's as tall as Miss Yagokoro? Slim, brown eyes, hair coloured like dry sand, definitely foreign?”
There's one thing you know about both poker and life: you already have all you need. A good hand.

“That guy? Can't really say that I remember him, but master has spoken of the vampires' new pet.”
So she has taken interest in the recent change in the balance... Not that it was really news, it'd be foolish not to.

“I knew you'd know him. Anyways, the bath. Want me to start warming the water?”
Reisen stands up as you ask her, and you pull open the door between the stairs and the closet. It leads to the small room which is where you treat your patients.

“I could do it myself, but sure.”
The room only has three pieces of furniture: a bed and separate holders for candles and incense. What makes it special is that you've covered the walls with dark-coloured rugs which have pictures from different legends: the tale of the white hare of Inaba, the legend of the nine-tailed fox and so on. Even the doors are covered, creating a somewhat oppressive mystical feeling into the room.

“Here.” Lifting a seemingly random rug, you reveal the door to the bathroom. “You go there to prepare the water – there's enough in the barrel – and I'll get some firewood.”
Reisen enters your tightly-packed bathroom which houses one of the gifts from your mother: the tub. It's custom made, and its fireplace and rather complicated set of metal tubes lets you take long, hot baths even in the middle of winter when most of the village has to do with cool water.

Your firewood storage has a lot more empty space than you'd like it to have. The winter isn't going to turn into spring any time soon, and it has been unusually harsh. Still, the woodcutters haven't had any problems with keeping the village supplied. They say that they keep cutting the same area over and over again, and that it regrows itself in a week. You guess it has something to do with what Chris said about the forests of the outside and how they're disappearing.

You find Reisen sitting idly on the edge of the now filled tub, looking at the water and drawing fleetingly short-lived shapes onto the surface of the water with her finger.

“I got the firewood. Want me to warm the water, or would you like to try doing it yourself? That way, you can make it just right for you.”
Doing a lap around the smallish room, you gather a bar of soap, a towel and some bath salts before giving the whole load to her.

“Thanks. I think I'll try doing it myself. Your tub looks interesting.”
She immediately hops onto the floor, crouches and shoves some wood into the fireplace. You remain there for a few seconds in case she'd want something, then take the nearly empty water barrel with you and leave.

“I'll get some cold water and leave it at the door in case you heat it too much.”
Reisen mumbles an answer you can't really hear and you let the door close.

The letter is on your table. It has a faint scent of violets on it. “I'm sorry I couldn't tell this personally,” it reads, “but I can't let your long-eared guest know of this yet. I'll make this short: I need allies. Your lot has proven to be skillful. I want to negotiate about our possible co-operation.”

If the flower lady only knew how much of a troubling situation her letter has put you in to... If you tell the seven-tails, she'll suspect your loyalty, and if you won't, you'll have to tell Miss Kazami why she hasn't received an answer. Yuuka probably won't injure you severely, but all the out-of-season fruit and herbs she's given to you are worth a lot, too. It'd be rude not to repay her. In addition to that, you need to consider if lady Kazami will keep to just talking. None of your kin are very strong in battle, while lady Kazami's prowess can only be matched by very few people. The Scarlets, the princess of the Netherworld, Yukari Yakumo, Ibuki, the goddess Yasaka. Perhaps Miss Yagokoro, too, but no-one knows how strong she is in battle apart Sakuya Izayoi and Remilia Scarlet who fought on the night that seemed imperishable.

Nevertheless, you should send a message to the seven-tails and inform her of it all. She's at least as informed as you are, probably knowing things that you haven't even dreamt of, and has lived for several hundred years more than you have. She may question your loyalty, but what can you do?

Tyrande leaves with the message as you fetch the last and largest of the fish you traded from the kappa. Then, just as you're about to start gutting the completely frozen fish, you take it back to the backyard where it came from. If they invited the kappa, then they'll have fish... What won't they have? Beer? ...actually, why not? There's some good stuff in bottles that have been lying around your cellar for a while. If you take them, then you're actually done with the preparations.

Reisen does not hurry with her bath. When she eventually does come out of the bathroom, fully clad and with damp, messy hair, you would have had time to prepare a feast for ten. She comes into the kitchen while still drying her hair with the towel she got from you, seeming immensely more relaxed and at ease than she was when Yuuka was there.

“Mm... Thank you.”
Her voice is deep and a little hazy.

“Glad you liked it.” Following her crossing the room with your gaze, you point at the snack you're having. “Want some?”

She sits on the stool next to you and throws the towel onto the counter.

[] Leave as soon as you're done with the snack.
[] Ask her if she'd want to visit every now and then.
-[] If you're feeling like you know what she wants to hear.


I didn't really think about the plot or anything. I just wrote.
[x] Leave as soon as you're done with the snack.
[x] Ask her if she'd want to visit every now and then.
-[x] If you're feeling like you know what she wants to hear.
[x] Ask her if she'd want to visit every now and then.
-[x] If you're feeling like you know what she wants to hear.
[x] Ask her if she'd want to visit every now and then.

Making and maintaining friends is important. Reisen should get out more often.
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An update will be posted between the 15th and the 18th. Please wait warmly. It is currently mostly written in my notebook, and I'll give it some finishing touches during the week at the barracks.
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[x] Ask her if she'd want to visit every now and then.

“Just a second, I'll make something for you.”
Moving to the other side of the counter, you let loose the magic of experience. Some of that, a little this, minuscule pinch of salt, mix and slap it on top of some rice that was left over from the last batch you made. Simple, fast and filling if not very tasty.

“Thanks,” Reisen tastes the stuff as soon as you place it in front of her. She seems a little suspicious at first, but her face quickly brightens. “Better than what I could have made.”

“You can thank my mother. She taught me to cook.” Watching Reisen eat with a good appetite makes you feel a little better, as watching someone eat the food you've made always does. “She's been making food for longer than any human possibly could ever have.”

“I see.” She takes another bite. “Do you know how old she is?”
It's probably just an innocent questions, but it makes you cautious nevertheless.

“About 300 years. She can't remember the exact number.”
Reisen's trustworthy, so you tell her the truth despite of the small risk involved. It's not an important piece of information, anyway. The problem with information is that one can never know how important it is. Usually.

“That's a rather respectable age. My master would want to talk with her, I think.”
So, that was her reason. Miss Yagokoro is indeed in many things, history included.

“I can ask, but she doesn't like talking about her past. Even I know only a little.”
For example, she's never told you where her vast wealth comes from. “Anyways, we should get going if we want to have any kind of a party tonight.”
You get up and move your fishes off the counter.

“Oh. True.” Reisen moves her own cup to the same place where you put yours. “Thanks for the food.”

“My pleasure.” Your eyes meet momentarily. Reisen breaks the contact by nodding. “Feel free to drop by every now and then. I typically have more than enough to share.”

“I'm not going to say no to free food, but I'm afraid I'm usually rather busy.” She turns away for a while to throw on her coat. “But I'll see about it.”
The coat is thick, filled with the fluff of some arctic bird, matches her hair nicely with its dark lilac colour.

“You’re welcome any time.”
You pull open the door to the stairway since there's something you need upstairs, and then stop again.

“I'm sure I am.”
Reisen smiles, but the smile lacks some of its usual warmth. You glance at her again, but turn around and head upstairs without saying or doing anything.

Reisen's waiting for you when you come back downstairs with what you went for, which is mostly a charm from your mother. “For when all seems lost”, she said when she gave it to you. Other than that, you know little about the sealed bag.

“Ready to go?”
Reisen seems like she's waited long enough with her coat on.

“Yeah, I'll just get my coat. Then we'll have to get the beer from the cellar.”
You quickly throw on your coat, push your gloves through the sleeve where they were in and put on the fur cap which was on top of the coat rack. Reisen waits patiently despite clearly being too hot.

“Shall we go?”
You nod. Reisen opens the door and you two leave. After a quick trip to the back yard and the cellar, you head through the village, towards the mountain.

“Which way should we go? Through the marsh or straight up through the Tengu territory?”
Your breath forms wispy clouds in the crisp, wintry air. Most of the sky is covered in thick clouds which hide the low-lying sun. The temperature has risen since morning, but it doesn't mean it's warm. It's just a bit less cold.

“Let's go straight up.”
The snow-covered fields surrounding the village don't look quite as impressive now, but the fresh layer of untouched snow has its own charm.

“The tengu won't let the beer pass through without a tax, and I'd rather not waste any. You're thinking of something, aren't you?”
The stomped snow on the path crunches on every step you take, breaking the silence of the winter afternoon.

“I have a few tricks. The bunny girl smiles knowingly and falls silent. You glance at her, shrug and head onwards, the only sound being the snow under your feet.


“Who goes there?”
A sudden shout breaks the tranquility of the darkening evening. You saw her before she saw you, but pretended not to notice. Reisen, however, seems surprised.

“Just two visitors to the shrine.”
They follow their patrol routes closely – not very clever when there's snow on the ground to leave tracks in. The wolf tengu, clad in thick furs, steps from behind a tree to reveal herself.

“At this time?” You both nod. “What to you have in the bag?” I heard the sound of bottles.”
She points at the your backpack.

“Yeah, some bottles. Why don't you come and see for yourself if you're so interested?”
Reisen, having recovered from her confusion, takes the lead while you try to find where the tengu's pair is. They never patrol alone.

“Take one out and show me.”
Her pair has to be nearby, ensuring that they have an advantage should you suddenly turn aggressive Pausing your subtle search, you place the large backpack full of beer on the ground and take out a bottle.

“Inubashiri! Check it out!”
A male tengu with a Red-and black skirt and a white shirt comes from hiding and approaches the bottle. That's one card less in their hand while neither you nor Reisen have played your aces.

“Back off.” The young-looking newcomer gestures with his left hand which has a shield, painted white with a red maple leaf in the middle of it, strapped onto it. His voice lacks the commanding tone granted by experience. You glance at Reisen as he picks up the bottle, but she shakes her head just enough for you to see. This would be a good moment to make a move, but if she has a plan... “They've got beer in here. From the village.”
The young tengu looks at the tengu woman, waiting for her command of advice. She meets his gaze with a widening grin.

“All alcoholic beverages passing through these lands are susceptible to a tax.” She places her hand on the hilt of her swords to give some additional weight to her words. “So you better share, or we'll have to take you into custody.”
The elder of the two patrollers heads towards you just as you glance at Reisen, who nods. The younger tengu is only two meters from you and the elder is about twice as far away. The suspect nothing yet...

[] Take out the elder one.
[] Take out the young one.
[] Let them have their share.
[] Distract them, grab the beer and run.


Delivery, as promised.
[x] Let them have their share.

We'll just talk to Kanako about that after this and it's no reason to reveal our hand.
[x] Let them have their share.

Denying a Gensokyo resident alcohol is just not a good move. Besides, if we inform our host that the tengu are interfering with the delivery of booze to her party, she'll probably shame them into not giving us trouble in the future.
[x] Take out the young one.

C'mon, we've unofficially planned it and everything!
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Think of this as the elder one. Not what I thought of, but shall do in the lack of anything better.


[x] Let them have their share.

Letting the younger tengu, called Inubashiri by the elder one, close enough so that he can look into your backpack, you glance at Reisen and then at the female tengu. Reisen's looking at her a little oddly, and the reason seems clear enough. She is, without a doubt, ogling the ass of her male patrol mate.

She's noticed you, but acts like she's innocent.

“Nothing. Just take your share and find a warm and cozy place with enough room for you two.”
Not all of the tax collected by the patrols finds its way up the command chain. Actually, only a small portion does.

“Huh?” The one called Inubashiri straightens his back. “What do you mean?” He looks at his partner and notices that he was being stared at. “Why are you always staring at me?”
Inubashiri sounds a little snappy, but his attitude is met with a sly smile.

“Take some bottles with you and I'll show you. My place's nearby: we can drop the bottles in there for a moment.” You think a slight blush is creeping onto her cheeks, but it's hard to tell since they're red from the cold already. “You should know the way.”
The elder tengu approaches the younger one and picks up two bottles from your backpack, managing to 'accidentally' give his buttock a firm squeeze before shoving the bottles into his hands.

“Why do I have to carry all this?”
His face has clearly become redder than it was before. Also, it seems like it's hard for him to not to watch his elder's ass as she purposefully picks up some more bottles in a way that involves very little bending at the knees. In total, they take about a quarter of the bottles, leaving you with 20 or so. Yes, you were carrying more than 25 kilos. While you may seem like a scholar from the outside, you're actually quite strong thanks to the youkai blood in you. Stronger than most of the humans your size, but farm from being inhuman.

“Because you're the guy.”
Glancing at Reisen, you lift the lightened backpack from the ground and nod towards the shrine's general direction.

“But you're stronger than me...”
The duo leaves, the elder one guiding Inubashiri with her hand, lightly pushing him by his ass.

“Yes, yes... Thanks for the beer.”
She waves at you with the hand that is not occupied with fondling her partner.

“Have fun, you two.”
Reisen waves in response, and doesn't seem to mind the loss of some beer.

“And try not to drink it all at once: it's stronger than your usual beer.”
You're certain that they'll disregard your piece of advice, get completely smashed and have furious sex until morning and then continue until noon. Tengu tend to get like that when drunk. Reisen's already heading towards the shrine as you see the elder whispering something to the younger who responds with something that sounds a lot like 'is that really okay?'


“About damn time. Why didn't we just fly here?” Reisen reveals her frustration as the shrine finally comes into sight as you exit the forest.

“With all this extra load? I would've crashed down from exhaustion before even reaching the village gates.” While you can fly, you prefer to move around as a fox. Flying is tiring for someone like you who isn't powered by dried mushrooms, divine powers or the fear of humans. Your energy is derived from food, although you've been trying to find alternative power sources. Success has been limited, so far. “Even without the load, I would be dying of hunger about now.”

Reisen seems to regret her outburst and pats your shoulder. “Sorry.” It's all she says before you two reach the top of the stairs where you see Kanako Yasaka hanging some sort of paper decorations above the donation box.

“Ah! You're here. And with miss Inaba, no less.” The goddess blows into the tube of paper she's holding. It opens into a long, colourful spiral. “Come in! One of the others has also arrived already. I'm sure you know her.”
She goes inside and then signals you to follow. You do, and she slams the door shut to keep the cold air out.

“By the way, we brought a little something. Here.” You offer your backpack to the goddess, who peeks inside. “It's just something I had lying around.”
Kanako takes one bottle from the backpack for closer inspection while you start getting rid of the excess clothing. The shrine may look like it'd be cold in the winter, but it's actually a proper, wooden building with “glass wool” for insulation. The paper's on the outside, just for show.

“Ehm... sorry to interrupt, but could you tell me where the toilet is?”
The reason for Reisen's frustration is revealed. She's keeping her knees tightly together to emphasize her needs.

“Sure, it's right here. Come, I'll show you.”
A new voice, belonging to the maiden of this shrine, joins the fray from just outside the hall. Sanae came to see what's the commotion, and leaves immediately to show Reisen the way. You and Kanako also leave the cramped, shoe-filled hall.

“Just something you had lying around, you say?” Kanako glances at you. “Well, thank you for bringing this. One can never have too much booze around in Gensokyo.” Finally taking the backpack from your hands, the purple-haired goddess turns around. “Hey, Yuuka! Could you help me out a little?”
Your attention snaps back from the paintings on the wall as you hear the name. Sure enough, the green-haired lady of the flowers comes from the kitchen.

“Yes?” She glances at you, clearly having something to say, but remains silent and lets Kanako say what she has to say.

“Could you put these onto the porch so they'll stay cold?”
She offers your backpack to Yuuka.

“Fine.” Taking the backpack, the youkai watches as Kanako returns to decorating the house. “Want to work with me? I'll help you in the kitchen, too.”
Her face remains emotionless.

[] Keep your secrets, work alone.
[] She prefers it alone; she must have a reason. Agree.
[] You were just about to go help Kanako.
[] Other


[X] She prefers it alone; she must have a reason. Agree.

Path of least resistance. Follow the flow of the ladies around you.
[X] She prefers it alone; she must have a reason. Agree.
[X] She prefers it alone; she must have a reason. Agree.
[X] She prefers it alone; she must have a reason. Agree.
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[x] She prefers it alone; she must have a reason. Agree.

“Why not, as long as you promise not to interfere when I'm flambéeing or something.”
You're not necessarily planning on doing that, but it's better not to agree unconditionally, not when it's someone like Kazami Yuuka. It is also possible that you're wrong about her.

“Are you really going to do something that flamboyant?” Yuuka smiles, seemingly pleased with having figured you out. “It wouldn't be your style, and wasting good alcohol in a place like this would not be... suitable. But, let us get to work.”

You follow Yuuka through the kitchen and into the small back room where rice, flour, and other dry ingredients are stored. After a moment of pondering with Yuuka and the hosts, you carry a large amount of stuff from there into the kitchen itself only to leave it there so you can help Kanako set up some lighting for the set of stairs which leads into the shrine from the shores of the lake. You settle on some candles before realizing that the ice needs to be removed from the steps. Altogether, it takes so long that you're not completely sure if you have time to cook the rice before the guests start arriving. Then, as the water's begun to boil and you've added the rice, Yuuka comes into the kitchen just as you're trying to adjust the fire to stabilize the temperature of the stove.

“Will it be done in time? You've got less than half an hour.”
She nods at the stove, but doesn't come very close.

“It should be. Besides, no-one's going to be on time anyways. We have at least an hour before someone bothers to arrive.”
If you were home, you'd already feel the heat radiating from the fireplace. This thing is made of soapstone, however, and unlike yours, is designed with both heating and cooking in mind.

“That's good, then. I'm sure at least Reimu will want something to eat as soon as she arrives – she's sure to have skipped at least dinner so she can eat here...” She comes closer as you close the cast iron hatch. “Keep your eyes open close to her. She may... accidentally let something slip.”
Her voice lowered to something which is surely heard only by you.

“Why tell this to me?” You let go of the wooden knob and stand up. “I haven't done anything for you.”
Turning your head, you look at her mildly amused face.

“If you really need to know: so I can be sure the information reaches the correct ears.” You think you see a faint red flash in her eyes. “I don't have much credibility when it comes to these things, I'm afraid...”
She turns around slowly, her hand finding its way into her hair and then throwing it back. You watch her walk away, quietly thinking about what she meant. You've got no obligation to do as she asks, but...

“Concerned about something?” The sudden voice makes you flinch and nearly drop the wooden ladle you're using to stir the rice. “...oh, didn't mean to scare you. Sorry.”

“I just got lost in thought.” Closing the lid, you set the ladle into a bowl you've been using and face the goddess. “Nothing important, though.”
You smile in order to look a little less like you're in some other world. It doesn't seem very effective as Kanako only lifts a brow at your show.

“Fine, I'll believe you.” The fact that she's a little taller than you makes you feel a little uncomfortable. “That aside, are you going to be ready on time? Miss Izayoi arrived a short while ago to 'ensure that everything will be done on time.'”
The discomfort is not eased by her moving closer to warm her hands near the stove. You instinctively make way for her.

“Yeah, I will. You want me to make balls out of this or something?”

“Any kind of a snack will do.” She turns her hands around and glances at you, clearly wondering about something. “You don't need to be afraid of me, by the way.”

“I didn't...”
You pause for a while, trying to think about what to say. Kanako turns around to face you at the same time.

“I just seem a little rough? You're not sure if I can control myself?” She glares at you with her dark red eyes. “Or is it something else you're afraid of?” The goddess smiles and blinks, breaking the tension. “Or perhaps it's just an old habit you can't get rid of. Anyways, I'll ask Izayoi if she's fine with helping you out. You should be done in a flash if you work together.”

It turns out to be less of you doing things together and more of her entering the room and then everything's suddenly ready. Yet there is no reason to complain about it, especially when you notice that the time when you expect people to start dribbling in is approaching.

Your goal for the night is:
[] Having fun while getting drunk.
-[] With X
[] Finding out why Yuuka advised you to watch Reimu closely.
[] Extracting information from the host goddess.
[x] Finding out why Yuuka advised you to watch Reimu closely.

Aren't we supposed to watch Reimu anyways?
[X] Finding out why Yuuka advised you to watch Reimu closely.
[x] Finding out why Yuuka advised you to watch Reimu closely.
[x] Help Reisen have some fun (without getting drunk)
I've noticed you to this alot, but here
>“Are you really going to do something that flamboyant?” Yuuka smiles, seemingly pleased with having figured you out. “It wouldn't be your style, and wasting good alcohol in a place like this would not be... suitable. But, let us get to work.”

im not quite sure who is meant to be talking...
My primary school teacher always told me to always put a new person speaking on a new line, but thats a bit much for an imageboard. I dont wana tell you how to write your storys so ill leave it there

not sure what to vote for so I vote [x]whatever landscout prefers most
and hope the thread sage's
[x] Finding out why Yuuka advised you to watch Reimu closely.
[x] Help Reisen have some fun (without getting drunk)

Both the quoted lines were Yuuka.
[X] Finding out why Yuuka advised you to watch Reimu closely.

Might as well see what's up.
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Updates delayed for now. Check >>/sdm/54876
Picture unrelated.
I'm still planning to continue this, but not before I finish my other story. So if you're still checking this thread in hopes of updates, you can stop doing so for now.
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