Yeah, my apologies about that. I used to be a fair bit better about that than I am right at the moment.
Anywho, just two votes for the second vote? Eh, can't really blame you guys. This did come out of left field with the last appreciable bit of context being a few months ago.
Part of me really doesn't want to have to deal with the concept of an annoyed shrine maiden giving it her all right at the moment, and I sure as hell don't want to stick Kurumi anywhere near the line of fire if I can avoid it. "Shall we go see what's up with the bird?" I ask the lovely vampiress.
"Sure!" One word from Kurumi, and a sigh of relief. It may be slightly irresponsible of me, but in this particular instance I'll choose to stop and smell the roses, so to speak. "Hey bird lady! What're you doing?" ...Huh boy. Didn't even ask for a name first. Then again, I have to wonder how much social skill she actually has, what with her living on an island in the middle of a lake of blood with only a couple other youkai for company.
The red-winged bird youkai starts upon being called out to, and turns her head to look at the person calling her out. "Me? Chasing that shrine maiden. She's trying to take something from me again." Just as a small note, there is something of a bird-like melody to her voice, as though she's trying to apply both a human's and a bird's rhythm to her words at the same time. It's a little awkward to hear at first, but the effect is far from unpleasant.
"Something important?" The blonde vampiress tilts her head to the side as she contemplated what that meant. There was really only one possibility, but part of me was trying to think up some other reason as to why the bird was chasing down the shrine maiden. Or at least trying to anyway. "Was that something humanoid and sort of blue?"
The bird youkai nods in assent. "Yes. As a matter of fact, your friend looks remarkably... similar?" She looks at me and slows down her speech in confusion. Her chase momentarily forgotten, she floats over to me and looks me over carefully, inspecting every detail she can get at without getting indecent. She lifts my visor up to look at my eyes, then sets it back into place. "...Who are you?" She asks. It's a question posed with nothing more than mild surprise, but since I don't know her at all I can't really tell just how surprised she actually is.
"He's Wade! I'm helping him hunt down those wayward fragments of his so he can go back to being himself." Her enthusiasm is coming back now that she doesn't feel threatened by the shrine maiden's presence, and I find that it's starting to get a little infectious.
"...Ah, I haven't even introduced myself, have I? I... don't really have a name, but some people refer to me as 'Tokiko'. You may do so as well, if you wish." Apparently the vampiress giving out my name was enough to let her know that we didn't know hers. "And what do you mean, go back to his old self?"
No sense in swiping the spotlight here, is there? "Nice to meet you! I'm Kurumi!" The introduction was met in kind before she continued. "Well, long story short, a bad person broke Wade's mind up into a lot of small pieces, and we've been trying to put him back together for a while now. You'd think this would be easy, but each fragment's got a mind of it's own, and they all want to keep what they've gained, so they're beating each other up to stay at the top of the heap."
"That sounds rather absurd, but it does match what he said..." Tokiko pauses to think to herself for a moment. "Wade." She looks to me once more. "Perhaps it's unreasonable for me to ask this, but do you plan to take responsibility for what your fragments have done while they were loose?"
"That's the general idea, why?" I could have said no. There's no real reason for me to do so. Each fragment is simply a part of the whole, and unlike a normal person I didn't have control over what any of them do. Yet at the same time, it feels like that would be a dick thing to do. While most of my fragments seemed more interested in simply living out their ghostly lives, I'm sure a few have caused their fair share of harm or mischief. These people don't really deserve it either, so far as I can tell, so in some cases it might be better to try and make peace. Especially if I plan to come back here again.
I'm a little surprised when the smaller girl hugs me. "Then you have to take care of me too." Wait what.
[Tokiko has joined the party.]
"Eh? What'd the fragment you found say?" I note that there's really nothing in the way of objections from Kurumi in regards to me spontaneously acquiring a new lady friend, but it is a little early to get excited about it. Neither of us even know the nature of her relationship with that fragment.
"That he'd take care of me. Normally I wouldn't care about such a thing, but something about it made my heart race, and I couldn't refuse." Tokiko doesn't let go of me for another minute or two, then steps backward a couple steps. "How important is it that you re-acquire those odd fragments of yours?"
"I'm in no immediate danger, but there's a chance that they'll burn themselves out and vanish. I may look fine, but I feel like I still have some holes in me and I'd prefer to fix that." I can't help but shrug at first. Out of all the fragments, I'm the least vulnerable of the lot even if I'm not the strongest. I could potentially ignore all of this, but that would be immensely stupid of me for numerous reasons.
"It's really important! We need to wrap this up as soon as possible before something happens!" Kurumi swats me with her wing ever so lightly, but that still sends me stumbling forward since 'ever so lightly' for a youkai isn't the same as for a human. "I won't settle for a pale imitation after all!"
"She really cares about you." Tokiko regards the enthusiasm with a small smile as she starts walking off in the direction of the shrine maiden. "We ought to catch up to those two then if it's that important. Maybe she's regarding you with a little more respect, but I don't quite trust her." I guess she and Reimu have a little history.
"Of course! He's my fuck-buddy after all~" Kurumi practically carries me along as she falls in step with the smaller bird youkai, and matches flight speed as the two take off. Me? I only put in enough effort to keep pace myself since my own face flushed a deep red.
"'Fuck-buddies'?" Tokiko simply looks confused again, either because she's never heard of that particular phrase, or because she's genuinely uneducated when it comes to more intimate things. I'm actually kind of torn in terms of what I'd prefer the reason to be. "What are those?"
"Eh?" Kurumi seems somewhat taken aback by that answer. Clearly she was expecting it about as much as I was. "You don't know what a fuck-buddy is? It's when a couple of people who are close, but not romantically involved-"
I quickly rap her on the head to get her to shut up. "Fragment first. Embarrass Tokiko later." Normally I wouldn't be too bothered by this, but the vampiress is trying to sully the mind of an apparently pure girl.
"Killjoy." Kurumi mock pouts as we close in on what appears to be Reimu coming back our direction.
Earlier, inside Mugenkan...
Ugh, my options look like this: Try to find Wade without diving into the rabbit hole too deep, or screw caution and dive in head-first. Both have their pros and cons, but in the end my mind's settled on the latter of the two. He'd do the same for me, so it's only fair I do it for him. "...You're right. I am scared, but I will come back later physically to learn magic better. In the meantime, I want to scout out this 'Gensokyo' place so my friends and I won't be going in completely blind when we finally do go there for real."
"Very well." Her tone is neutral, but she's either terrible at keeping a poker face, or she's just trying to keep the elation out of her voice for some reason. "That key I handed you can be used as a way to get in and out of Gensokyo as well, but it would be wise for me to set up a proper door to lead you here should you use it." With nothing more than a wave of her hand, a door appears no more than ten feet away from us. Funnily enough, it wasn't blue like the rest of the furniture, but a kind of pearly white. You know how if you look at something with a pearly sheen, it reflects other colors too? It's like that. "This will serve as your entry point into Mugenkan if you enter this place from Gensokyo. To make the door appear there, you just need to will it to appear, so don't be afraid to bail out if things get too dangerous."
I simply nod in response as I get up from my chair to use the door. "Thanks for your help." I try, but I can't quite keep the nervousness out of my voice.
"It's no problem at all~ If you really want to thank me though, come back in one piece. I find that I don't mind your company." She waves goodbye to me as I open the door. "Oh, and one more thing. I might not always be here, but if you're willing to wait, simply sit down for a bit. I'll be able to tell when you're there."
I nod once more, gulp once, open the door, and step through.
"...Oh dear, I think I forgot to tell her that the door will deposit her as close to her goal as possible." Mugestu ponders for a moment before getting up and walking off. "I'm sure it'll be fine." She waves to no one in particular as she vanishes from sight.
Wow, that was mundane. When she said that this was a door that will get me inside Gensokyo, I didn't think that it'd be as simple as walking in. Don't get me wrong, this isn't a bad thing, I was just expecting a fall, a trip through some kind of weird space, something fantastic. Granted, this forest has more than made up for that already. On the surface, it looks like any other run of the mill forest, but it just feels different. The air is charged, like everything livelier than what you'd find back home. Still, no sense standing around. I'm on a worn-looking road, so I may as well walk along it until I find something interesting.
Of course, I would have, save for the fact that I was literally run into by something moving pretty fast. I'm suddenly glad I came here in spirit form first, I'm not sure how well I would have taken it if I was hit in my physical body. Still, I'm knocked into the brush along with my mystery attacker, who looks an awful lot like... "Wade?"
That was my last thought before I was engulfed in light.
"Ugh, you could have helped with this." Reimu's currently chewing me out for not helping her catch that loose fragment, but I still don't feel all that guilty about it. She managed to get it all on her own, so that's one more down.
Yet that's not what's caught my interest. The miko was carrying someone other than a fragment fireman style when she came back to get us, and that someone turned out to be none other than an unconscious Naomi. "Sorry, but you did manage to catch it on your own." Tokiko and Kurumi were content to talk to each other for the time being, and a quick glance showed me that they must not be talking about naughty things, or the bird youkai has the single best poker face I've ever seen.
"Not quite." Reimu shook her head and pointed to Naomi, whom I am now carrying. "She managed to trip the fragment up long enough for me to use Fantasy Seal on it, and got caught in the blast. It's just light though, and it was only supposed to target that fragment, so she should be fine." And she is entirely too carefree about this. "Might take her a bit to wake up though."
Let's see... Chew out Reimu now and burn my annoyance out too much to chew out Naomi for being so reckless, or save it for the artist and let Reimu get off scot free? ...Meh, no point in aggravating things if they're working well. "Fine. But I think there's a question that's in need of answering. Where do we go from here? I can't just leave Naomi be, but we could also wind up having more troublesome fragments to deal with later if we leave them be."
"Up to you." The miko responds with a simple shrug.
[Fragment 'Lovers' acquired]
[Naomi has been located]
[Reimu waltzes right back into the leader slot, bumping you out of it]
[X]Start tracking down the most annoying fragments. There's no time to lose.
[X]Wait for Naomi to wake up first. Find a place to let her rest. I doubt Reimu would mind taking a break either.
'Lovers' is essentially a fragment that specializes in handling women. It wields a spear in combat, an odd, red one with wing-like spear tips, and it is able to split into three. It also possesses decent homing properties, and with your current power it might actually do some damage. As for the fragment itself, it makes it easier to interact with those of the opposite sex. They might be more inclined to offer useful information, or provide services for less than normal. Others still might join you more readily.
Hopefully that's something of an improvement.