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File 138439006896.png - (795.00KB, 768x1024, My Mentor.png) [iqdb]
37038
“Motoori Kosuzu.”

The young redheaded librarian, who walks around with chiming bells in her hair. The girl who loves knowledge in all its forms, and doesn't believe in Things Humanity Was Not Meant To Know. The pure, earnest girl who believes in heroes and fairy tales.

And I want her to believe in me. To look at me with adoration and simple, easy faith. The way she looks at Reimu, the way she looks at Akyuu.

The crystal ball glows orange as soon as Kosuzu's name leaves my lips. It floats away from me and into Mima's waiting hands; my mentor scrunches over it, using her billowing sleeves to hide the ball from my view. Her clothing isn't quite thick enough to hide the light. The blue mood of the dream tent's ruined by the orange light, and it even feels warmer. Happier.

“Well, let's see,.” Mima intones with all pomp and seriousness. I can't help but lean towards her, losing myself in the atmosphere. “Kosuzu. You could certainly do worse. And you already know why you like her. But love is understanding, in its deepest form – can you tell me who Kosuzu is fond of, and why?”

The words come out slowly, but naturally – there's no hint of resentment or jealousy. And I'm not sure if it's because of the dream, or... oh, I don't know. “She has a crush on Mamizou because Mamizou plays mysterious stranger really, really well. Mamizou has that cultured, sophisticated aura to her when she tries, and it helps that she's damn good with magic.

“Reimu... Kosuzu doesn't really interact with Reimu too much, but she grew up listening to stories of the Hakurei clan. Hell, I grew up with those stories, and Mom's from Outside. Gensokyo's a land where fairy tales are still real, and who doesn't want to get rescued by Princess Charming?

“And... if Mamizou is Kosuzu's version of a mancrush, and Reimu's the fairy tale lover... then Akyuu's probably the one she's actually in love with.”

The scene slowly changes, from the cramp and smoky fortune teller's tent to the homey gloom of Suzunaan. The dusty corners and small aisles between the bookshelves seem all the darker, because...

Because in the middle, Kosuzu sits on Akyuu's lap, and they're glowing. The only source of light in the room.

“Akyuu... I don't really know how their relationship got started, but they seem so... close. Whole. And I don't think I ever felt that with Alice. I don't know how I could compete with that kind of intimacy.”

I need to sit. It's... Remembering Alice exhausts me. Mima gives me a moment to rest, though she takes the time to move closer to Kosuzu, to take in the joy in her eyes and the faint blush that touches her cheeks.

“I think,” Mima starts, “that you should probably just ask her out on a date.”

What.

“No, hear me out. Kosuzu's hungry for knowledge, right? It's her raison d'être. She eats and breathes learning. That's why she likes Mamizou, that's why she likes Akyuu. That's the nature of their relationships – she learns from them. I mean, all the moves Akyuu was making on Kosuzu? They weren't making out or rutting on the desk; they were discussing poetry.”

I really have to wonder if Mima's seeing the same things I am. Because the hazy pleasure in Kosuzu's eyes certainly doesn't come from poetry.

“Okay, so they were discussing poetry rather erotically. That's fine. It's still just poetry, and it's not like Kosuzu has a ring on her finger.”

The image gets fuzzier now, the specks of dreamy blue seeping into the corners of this little snapshot. Kosuzu and Akyuu remain untainted by the color – though they do start to fade as the walls close in on me.

“And the thing is, you're one of Kosuzu's teachers too. You teach her magic. You're giving her a firsthand view of something she's only heard stories about, only read about, only dreamed about learning for herself. Marisa, you have her curiosity. Now get her attention.”

I allow myself the luxury of petulance, pouting a bit as we return to Mima's fortune-telling tent. She sits across from me once more, spinning the crystal ball on her fingers.

“It's... that simple, then?”

“Oh Heavens no. Love never is. But you don't know if it's love. So find out, and we'll work from there.”

With a snap of her wrist, the crystal ball pops up, and descends, ever gently, towards me.

“Your second paramour, Marisa?”

Kosuzu's name had came to me as simply as breathing. No worries, no hesitation. But now, three names – three amazing women – jump to the forefront of my mind. They battle for dominance, bringing with them flashes of fantasy, daydreams I've mulled over, a hundred 'what ifs' and 'maybes', memories.

It... it hurts, to realize Alice is one of those names. To remember our little dates; the times where we'd argue long into the night, and then hold each other in bed, no layers or lies to separate us. To feel her warm, gentle lips on mine, that tingle of lightning...

To see her glow with a love of life, and her distant, ice-blue eyes melt with pure affection. To see her honestly smile, and know that I was the one who made her happy.

Reimu was my first love. Still is. But Alice was my first relationship, and that means just as much.

It hurts. Remembering her. But I'm not sure if it hurts more or less than putting those memories and desire... away.

But I do. With all my will, if not all my heart, I put away the past, and look towards the future.

And Mima, bless her hateful, vengeful soul, doesn't judge.

That just leaves Reimu, and -

“Hieda no Akyuu.”

I know what I need to do with Reimu. In my heart of hearts, I surely do. The problem is just mustering up all the... will, to take that last step. And Akyuu, I know nothing about her, so if this'll give me an edge...

I look up. And now Mima's judging.

“Okay, why her?”

Her voice was cool, and patient. No sense of hurry – which is not the same as no sense of pressure. This wasn't Mima the magician, Mima the ghost, Mima my big sister. This was Mima the teacher, and unless I explained myself I'd be getting a failing grade in love.

“Because...because it'd be easy, wou -”

“Marisa. Because I love you, and you're tired, I'm giving you a warning. Rethink what you're about to say.”

There was no disappointment in Mima. Not yet. Because she allowed me my flights of fancy, always gave me a warning, if not a second chance.

So I dutifully shut my mouth, and do not ask Mima how to seduce Akyuu as a means to an end.

Loving Akyuu. Being with her... that has to be the end. So the question is, 'would I be happy with this outcome?'

Not being with Kosuzu. Not being with Reimu. Not... not being with Alice. But with Hieda no Akyuu, and only Hieda no Akyuu, the eighteen year old with nine lifetimes of experience. The prickly, quick to anger historian. The young woman who'd probably die long before we were old and gray.

The proud noble, who was secure in the belief that she was right, or at least 'not wrong', and made sure everyone knew it. The protective lover, who bared her fangs and attacked with all her fierce, tiny might, against the things that could harm what she loved.

The passionate young girl, who gave it her all every day, because every day was precious, and she had dreams to chase after, damn it.

“I want to see if I could fall in love with Hieda no Akyuu.” Despite all of my nervousness, I state my intentions cleanly and simply. No subterfuge needed.

Somehow, even through her veil, I know Mima's smiling. “Okay. Why?”

“Because... because she's like me. And Kosuzu's her Reimu.” I don't know that for sure, but it feels right to say. “And I know what it's like, to only hold... real affection for one single girl. Akyuu probably can't connect to her parents, or her family, because she's had nine of those already. I was jealous of Mom, since she knew what the Outside was like, and I would never get that chance. I was angry at Dad, since I didn't want to spend my days behind a counter and waste my time away.

“And I know what it's like, to give it your all, to carpe diem every single damn diem. It's exhausting. It's painful. Enthusiasm turns into desperation, and you never allow yourself a break, since then you feel like you're just a... a decomposing sack of meat otherwise. And you don't know what's worse, what's scarier, living with the ache and the fear and the desperation, or giving up completely and letting all those moments, all those chances... turn into ash. Because you're just too tired, just too burned out.

“You need people. People who'll pull you back from either extreme. Reimu was mine, and that's why I love her. Kosuzu is Akyuu's, and that's why she loves her. And...

“And I want to give Akyuu another person. I want to give her me, who can understand her. Because my Reimu and her Kosuzu, they don't understand. Not really. Things come easy to them. I mean, they work hard, they put in effort... but it's easy. Simple.

“But Akyuu suffers, and... and they always say misery loves company.”

My throat's dry as can be, and I rub my neck to soothe the irritation, prevent myself from hacking and coughing. But that's just the physical aspect to talking so much.

Because mentally, emotionally, I know. And there is no nervousness, no hesitation.

And Mima nods her head in approval.

“Okay, then. Well, if you want to win Akyuu over, you're gonna have to help her reach the same conclusions you did. You'll have to show her your serious side, you know. Prove you're a kindred spirit. After all, you - “

I wave her off, feeling surprisingly... light. Like I have the weight of the world on my shoulders, and I still could carry more. “Yeah, I thought she was a coward and a pretentious, selfish jerk. Not my proudest moment.”

Mima reaches over, and ruffles my hair. Her fingers run across my locks, curling them around her fingers. She's... surprisingly warm for a ghost. “Eh, we all make mistakes.”

She doesn't stop for a while, and I don't try to stop her. She hasn't done this in years, and... I miss it.

“Uhm, Mima. You're just a part of my subconscious, right?”

I'm grateful she doesn't stop. “I don't think my answer would matter. You know what you know.”

Her warmth, her answer... it gives me some courage. “So you won't mind if I bounce ideas. Because, you said I could only choose two names, but... well, you know.”

I can't see her anymore – I can't see anything now, because those blue candles go out, leaving me in a gentle darkness.

“I know, Marisa. I know. Hakurei Reimu. Best friend, first love.”

Shrine Maiden. Peacekeeper. Miser. Fond of the drink. A tease. Cool under pressure, serious minded. Childhood friend. Heroine.

My... savior. A light in the darkness. When Mima was gone and I was lost... she was there.

No matter how I imagined my life. No matter my fantasies, or hopes, or whims... she always featured. Not always a lover, but...

She was there. We fought, we laughed, we drank and cried. We teased each other, argued and made up.

We grew old together.

And in the mornings, when I woke up. I'd fly over to the Hakurei Shrine... and she'd be there. Waiting.

“Reimu... Reimu's done so much for me. And... and if there's one thing I could do, one absolute, magic spell I could cast to make it happen... I'd want to ensure that Reimu's happy.”

Mima stops now, and drifts away to look at me face to face. I can see her green eyes, glowing in the darkness. Just like when I was young. “But, more than that, more than anything else. In any form... I want her to be happy, with me.”

First loves are heady things. Now and forever, Reimu would have a piece of my heart.

“If you confess early, you won't get a chance with anyone else,” Mima warns.

“And if I confess late, Reimu might find someone else.”

And with that melancholy thought, I wake up.

-----------------------------

Sunny days couldn't last forever. But the pitter-patter of rain is a bit... soothing, all the same. But then, water always was relaxing to me. Shame there's no ocean in Gensokyo. I'd move there and never leave.

But enough what-ifs. I get up from bed, stretch and do my morning routine...

And when I glance at the calender, I freeze.

With all my will, I try to put away the past, and look towards the future. But I can't do it with all my heart, and the past has a habit of catching up with me.

Today's my turn to cook for Alice. And just like that, all of the longing, all of the memories, come rushing back. Of the languid days of just being at peace, being together. Of encouraging Alice to stay in bed with me in the mornings, of Alice cajoling me to bed in the evenings. Of her smell, like fresh detergent, of her feel and taste during the nights.

I... I have to go. It'd be unfair if I didn't. Even after our breakup, we continued this... eating together. No man is an island.

But what should I do? What can I do?



[ ]Move on. We broke up for a reason. It was mutual, and simple and clean. And when she walked away, she didn't hear me say “Please, don't go.” The hurts are healing now, and I have new loves, new hopes, a new future to look forward to. And if it still stings sometimes, well. We'll always have Paris.

[ ]Linger. Despite our arguments, despite what I said about not feeling whole, Alice and I really did click. Not like two parts of a whole, but two people who became something that was greater than a sum of its parts. There's... there was enough there, between us, that she still feels some sort of obligation towards me. And maybe I want to know if it's still more than that.

This isn't a route lock in the conventional sense. I'm a bit too greedy to be satisfied with only one girl. It's not a 'lock in' to Alice, but a 'lock out'. No matter what happens, I'll still pursue the others. I got advice from Mima and I'm not wasting it.

Please help me decide.

Just saying author, but you realize that at the mention of locks, some fans start cheating like crazy just for the girl they prefer?

Yes, it may not be a lock in. But it's still a lock of a kind.
You hit me hard there, Marisa. I really felt the emotion in this post.
As someone who had voted for Reimu, I'm glad to see that she still got a bit of thought even if she didn't win the vote.

[x]Move on.

As much as I like Alice, there are more fish in the sea. Specifically red-white colored fish.
Though that's not to say you should start avoiding her or anything. You're both mature people and can even still be good friends even through that checkered history together.
[x]Linger. Despite our arguments, despite what I said about not feeling whole, Alice and I really did click. Not like two parts of a whole, but two people who became something that was greater than a sum of its parts. There's... there was enough there, between us, that she still feels some sort of obligation towards me. And maybe I want to know if it's still more than that.

I want to give her a chance.
File 138439210848.png - (246.79KB, 600x1042, 6e4e759bb89e15df536bd03a95298f9f.png) [iqdb]
37044
>>37042
No reason we can't get both, along with Kosuzu.
I mean, we were given more than one choice for a reason, so we can pursue more than one girl.

[ ]Linger. Despite our arguments, despite what I said about not feeling whole, Alice and I really did click. Not like two parts of a whole, but two people who became something that was greater than a sum of its parts. There's... there was enough there, between us, that she still feels some sort of obligation towards me. And maybe I want to know if it's still more than that.
>>37041

"I know, it wasn't the smartest of things to do, but... I was getting tired of pussyfooting around. And I thought Alice would appreciate some finality. I know I would, if I was in her place."

>>37042

"Er, I'm sorry, I must not have made it obvious - Reimu and Akyuu tied for second. But Akyuu needed more... words. With Reimu it's instinctive."
[x]Move on. We broke up for a reason. It was mutual, and simple and clean. And when she walked away, she didn't hear me say “Please, don't go.” The hurts are healing now, and I have new loves, new hopes, a new future to look forward to. And if it still stings sometimes, well. We'll always have Paris.

We have plenty of promising girls to pursue now. No need to go dredge up the past.
[x]Move on. We broke up for a reason. It was mutual, and simple and clean. And when she walked away, she didn't hear me say “Please, don't go.” The hurts are healing now, and I have new loves, new hopes, a new future to look forward to. And if it still stings sometimes, well. We'll always have Paris.

I see Alice as being a pleasant memory. A very fond memory, mind you. But still, a memory. That road was walked, and it didn't turn out to be the right one. Time to move on.
[X] Do you feel cold and lost in desperation? You build up all the failures you have known. Remember all the sadness and frustration, and let it go. Let it go.
>>37049
(That means [X] Move on, by the way.)
[x]Linger. Despite our arguments, despite what I said about not feeling whole, Alice and I really did click. Not like two parts of a whole, but two people who became something that was greater than a sum of its parts. There's... there was enough there, between us, that she still feels some sort of obligation towards me. And maybe I want to know if it's still more than that.

More than friends, less than lovers? Because that's where I feel Alice fits.
Still mad that Miko didn't win. Stupid fathead Byakurenfags ruining everything. Hopefully we can still be drinking buddies or something.
[c]Move on. We broke up for a reason. It was mutual, and simple and clean. And when she walked away, she didn't hear me say “Please, don't go.” The hurts are healing now, and I have new loves, new hopes, a new future to look forward to. And if it still stings sometimes, well. We'll always have Paris.

Wow, I never felt so hurt from reading an update before.
[x]Linger. Despite our arguments, despite what I said about not feeling whole, Alice and I really did click. Not like two parts of a whole, but two people who became something that was greater than a sum of its parts. There's... there was enough there, between us, that she still feels some sort of obligation towards me. And maybe I want to know if it's still more than that.

God.
Damn.

I just want to tell you this is one of the most powerful, well executed things I've written on this site. I was getting pretty teary eyed but yeah, pat yourself on the back and all, just one of the best moments here.
[x]Linger. Despite our arguments, despite what I said about not feeling whole, Alice and I really did click. Not like two parts of a whole, but two people who became something that was greater than a sum of its parts. There's... there was enough there, between us, that she still feels some sort of obligation towards me. And maybe I want to know if it's still more than that.

Marisa seems like the type to beat her head against the wall until she can make the wall explode. SO WATCH OUT ALICE, LOVE POWERED LASERS IN YOUR ASS! WHOOO!
[x]Move on. We broke up for a reason. It was mutual, and simple and clean. And when she walked away, she didn't hear me say “Please, don't go.” The hurts are healing now, and I have new loves, new hopes, a new future to look forward to. And if it still stings sometimes, well. We'll always have Paris.
[X]Linger. Despite our arguments, despite what I said about not feeling whole, Alice and I really did click. Not like two parts of a whole, but two people who "became" something that was greater than a sum of its parts. There's... there was enough there, between us, that she still feels some sort of obligation towards me. And maybe I want to know if it's still more than that. 

I... I don't think moving on is healthy. Not quite yet. Marisa's been really vague about what caused the breakup, and she seems to have a love-hate relationship with Alice. Knowing the specifics would help, and even if it still doesn't work out, maybe it'd keep breakfast from feeling so tense, like the first time we saw it.
[X]Move on. We broke up for a reason. It was mutual, and simple and clean. And when she walked away, she didn't hear me say “Please, don't go.” The hurts are healing now, and I have new loves, new hopes, a new future to look forward to. And if it still stings sometimes, well. We'll always have Paris.

Parting is such sweet sorrow. However, all lingering would do is continue to scrape at the same old wound. And there would always be the little "what if", "what if I had decided to try something new", "what if Alice wasn't the best for me and I was afraid to try something new out", et cetera.

Those kinds of regrets cannot be healthy for a relationship at all.

Of course, they come with any relationship! Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee
[X]Linger. Despite our arguments, despite what I said about not feeling whole, Alice and I really did click. Not like two parts of a whole, but two people who "became" something that was greater than a sum of its parts. There's... there was enough there, between us, that she still feels some sort of obligation towards me. And maybe I want to know if it's still more than that. 
[X]Linger. Despite our arguments, despite what I said about not feeling whole, Alice and I really did click. Not like two parts of a whole, but two people who "became" something that was greater than a sum of its parts. There's... there was enough there, between us, that she still feels some sort of obligation towards me. And maybe I want to know if it's still more than that.
[X] Move on. We broke up for a reason. It was mutual, and simple and clean. And when she walked away, she didn't hear me say “Please, don't go.” The hurts are healing now, and I have new loves, new hopes, a new future to look forward to. And if it still stings sometimes, well. We'll always have Paris.

When it's mutual, simple and clean it's best to leave it that way.
Stay friendly, but don't try to go back to things that are already lost.
[x]Linger. Despite our arguments, despite what I said about not feeling whole, Alice and I really did click. Not like two parts of a whole, but two people who became something that was greater than a sum of its parts. There's... there was enough there, between us, that she still feels some sort of obligation towards me. And maybe I want to know if it's still more than that.

Well, as someone who double-voted Alice, I can't just go back on that now. Although I wonder what revelations we would have gotten if Alice had won?
[ ]Linger. Despite our arguments, despite what I said about not feeling whole, Alice and I really did click. Not like two parts of a whole, but two people who became something that was greater than a sum of its parts. There's... there was enough there, between us, that she still feels some sort of obligation towards me. And maybe I want to know if it's still more than that.

What I want to know is: are they incompatible? First relationships are so hard
[X]Linger. Despite our arguments, despite what I said about not feeling whole, Alice and I really did click. Not like two parts of a whole, but two people who "became" something that was greater than a sum of its parts. There's... there was enough there, between us, that she still feels some sort of obligation towards me. And maybe I want to know if it's still more than that.

Damn..you put a lot of thought into these two choices.
[X] Move on. We broke up for a reason. It was mutual, and simple and clean. And when she walked away, she didn't hear me say “Please, don't go.” The hurts are healing now, and I have new loves, new hopes, a new future to look forward to. And if it still stings sometimes, well. We'll always have Paris.
[X] Move on. We broke up for a reason. It was mutual, and simple and clean. And when she walked away, she didn't hear me say “Please, don't go.” The hurts are healing now, and I have new loves, new hopes, a new future to look forward to. And if it still stings sometimes, well. We'll always have Paris.
While I'm not sure it's necessary, do you want to call a mod to check for votespam Marisa? >>37041 does have a point after all.
[ ]Linger. Despite our arguments, despite what I said about not feeling whole, Alice and I really did click. Not like two parts of a whole, but two people who became something that was greater than a sum of its parts. There's... there was enough there, between us, that she still feels some sort of obligation towards me. And maybe I want to know if it's still more than that.
>>37062
Hi proxy.
[X]Linger. Despite our arguments, despite what I said about not feeling whole, Alice and I really did click. Not like two parts of a whole, but two people who became something that was greater than a sum of its parts. There's... there was enough there, between us, that she still feels some sort of obligation towards me. And maybe I want to know if it's still more than that.
File 138447836312.jpg - (703.87KB, 900x720, A Long Long Time Ago.jpg) [iqdb]
37077
"I felt kind of bad about closing a bit too early last time, so I'm gonna try to give warnings from now on.

You have one more day to vote before I close 'em.

And, before you ask... yeah, part of this is to postpone making a choice. Just a bit longer."
[X]Linger. Despite our arguments, despite what I said about not feeling whole, Alice and I really did click. Not like two parts of a whole, but two people who became something that was greater than a sum of its parts. There's... there was enough there, between us, that she still feels some sort of obligation towards me. And maybe I want to know if it's still more than that.
[X]Move on. Just seems to be the cleanest way to do things.
>>37077
>"And, before you ask... yeah, part of this is to postpone making a choice. Just a bit longer.
Sounds like you've already picked [x] Linger, then, doesn't it?

For my part... well, I don't think either of them are right. It's obvious you love her -- but consider that it may be philos, rather than eros?
[X]Linger. Despite our arguments, despite what I said about not feeling whole, Alice and I really did click. Not like two parts of a whole, but two people who became something that was greater than a sum of its parts. There's... there was enough there, between us, that she still feels some sort of obligation towards me. And maybe I want to know if it's still more than that.

>>37077
It seems to me, though, that you have already picked your decision.

Wallowing in the past is not healthy at all, but there's always a chance, right?
>>37080
>>37081

"Yeah. You guys are... right on the money. And I guess the majority of you agree.

When I get to Alice's house, I'm gonna sit down, relax. And Linger a little longer."
Marisa ♦ Alice OTP!

Yes, I'm aware I'm a terrible person.
>>37083
Marisa <3 Akyuu <3 Kosuzu <3 Byakuren <3 Toyosatomimi <3 Alice <3 Reimu <3 Mima OT8

also Marisa <3< Pache OT<3<

Byakuren <3< Toyosatomimi might be interesting too.

File 138462800783.jpg - (95.03KB, 650x775, Distant Lover.jpg) [iqdb]
37089
[X]Linger. Despite our arguments, despite what I said about not feeling whole, Alice and I really did click. Not like two parts of a whole, but two people who became something that was greater than a sum of its parts. There's... there was enough there, between us, that she still feels some sort of obligation towards me. And maybe I want to know if it's still more than that.


In the end... I am terrible at letting things go. And when I sigh, I'm not sure if it's relieved or exasperated.

But all the same, I really am hungry. And I'm sure Alice is, too. And while shoving all the ingredients into a thieving comandeering bag would usually take forever, Kosuzu's cleanup from before makes everything easy to find.

I'm clean, fresh, and ready to go. So with a bag in my hand and love in my heart... I go.

---------------------------------------------------

My house is just the place where I stash all my shit. Alice's house, in contrast, actually looks like a respectable home. The paint isn't flaking, there aren't any vines climbing up the walls, and none of the windows have cracks in them.

Also it's not made out of gingerbread and candy to lure unsuspecting kids. Anymore. But that's a story for another time.

The windchill and the moisture don't bother me much, thanks to magic, but the overhead clouds and the constant rain do. It makes things gloomy and mopey, and if I were a melodramatic gal I'd be saying that it reflects the state of my soul. But I'm not, and it isn't, because my heart is sure as can be.

A bit worried, a bit resigned, but sure all the same.

Regardless, it takes a while to travel to Alice's pad. The Forest of Magic has a habit of changing its treeline at the drop of my hat, and while the rain might not be chilling me to the bone, it's still making things a bit blurry. It's slow going, and I can't wait to take shelter – Alice tricked out her house with a front door porch a while back, and armed with enough magic barriers and charms to almost make it another room.

...She also installed a second story landing pad, complete with awning, while we were together. It leads right into her bedroom, so I never did use it after our breakup. It wouldn't have... felt right.

But as I start to descend, I still can't help but notice she's kept the landing pad in tip-top shape. She's turned it into a little garden of sorts, mostly vegetables like tomatoes and bell peppers -

But she keeps a few herbs as well. Like sage. And mint.

...Damn it, Alice. You don't touch alchemy, you don't even like herbs. You don't need to keep them around for me.

I grit my teeth as the wind kicks up, which almost knocks me off course, and definitely knocks me to the ground. It's a small comfort that Alice built her house in a forest clearing – small since without tree roots to keep things somewhat anchored, the grass is muddy as hell.. And mud, I'll have you know, does not cushion as well as you'd expect. With solid ground, I'd be able to roll a bit to reduce the impact, but instead I'm planted face first into the mud with a great big splat.

It's not that the air gets knocked out of me, it's that there's no air to breathe in mud. It's so thick and sticky that by the time I manage to free myself, I get a complimentary facial for my troubles. And I swear I could feel my pores open up as the rain washes it all away.

I could probably run a killer spa if I could make the Forest safe enough. But I can't, and my ingredients are still dry and clean, so there's no point in dilly dallying. A few knocks on the door, and...

The door opens, and I give her a tired glare. My hat's all jaunty too. “Morn', toots.” I drawl.

Alice always did wake up early in the mornings, and today's no exception. Her blue dress is immaculate as always, and given all the frills she adds to it, like the red ribbon 'round her waist and the spotless white capelet, I've have a mind to tie her up and dig through her spellbooks for a laundry-cleaning ritual.

Still, though; Alice has color, if not a colorful personality, and the blue tint to the world fades a tiny bit. And for a moment, as she stares at my dripping, muddy form...

I could swear she's smiling again.

But it's just a moment, or maybe a trick of the light, and Hourai dutifully floats towards me with a warm, fluffy towel. “Good morning to you too, Marisa. I half expected to be enjoying lunch with you, not breakfast. Come in, you're letting the heat out.”

And it was true. As soon as the door opened, it felt like all the water on me evaporated. It didn't do much for the inner bone chill, but Hourai pouting at me while wiping the mud off my hair certainly did. That towel was amazingly warm, and I let out a sigh as she rubbed the cloth against my neck.

“Mmmm... you're the best, Hourai. What would Alice do without you?” As Alice went to the dining room, and I headed to the kitchen, I reached out to pet the little doll following me.

“I'd fix her right back up. That should have been obvious, Marisa,” Alice says from the other room. And since poor Hourai's never used to praise, she blushes, and hides her face behind the towel. Which leaves her open to me wrapping her in said towel and bringing her with me to the kitchen.

I could feel Hourai struggle and kick at me, but, well. She's the size of my palm. She can't do much. It kinda tickles, actually, as I put her aside and get my ingredients out.

Eggs, semi-stale bread, oil and syrup. My mom missed Outside food often, and my dad and I learned how to make some for her to keep her spirits up. It helps that French toast, at least, is pretty simple to make. Dunk slices of toast in an egg bath, fry it on the pan, syrup to taste.

The fresh, floral scent of Alice's house, the sizzling of the pan, the cool rain... all of it's uncomfortably nostalgic, and I almost get lost in the reminiscing.

Cooking's a lot like alchemy. You can just memorize the recipes if you're not a serious student of the craft. But to experiment, and make things better, you have to know what you're doing. Like, for example, crisping a happy face onto the toast.

Okay that's more dicking around than actually making the food taste better, but to be fair it's hard to make French toast any better than it already is. Even Hourai's affected – as soon as she gets out of the towel, she's hit full force by the savory smell of Breakfast, and she starts hovering near the frying pan in order to get a better sniff.

And then she flies over to my bottle of syrup and applies... quite the generous amount to Alice's empty plate. And then she dodges my attempts to stop her from using all of said syrup.

Hmph. Fine, I like my French toast without any syrup, anyways!

Once the slices are properly cooked, I plate 'em in a jiffy and bring them over to the dining room table. Alice's ignoring me in favor of a book, in a language I've no heads or tails of, but at least she remembered to get the silverware ready.

Once I sit down next to her, Alice... 'wakes up,' putting the book down and taking up her fork and knife. I do too, forking a nice big slice and chewing it, but...

French toast without any syrup is incredibly... plain. The egg bath adds a bit of savoriness to the toast, and the toast itself is all puffy and soft but... there's no taste. It's like eating warm bread. Or plain pancakes. It's not inedible, just bland.

So I'm a bit relieved when Alice takes my portion and unceremoniously plops it onto her plate.

The relief turns sour when she cuts up a piece of the toast, soaks it up in her syrup, and gently raises it towards my lips.

Just like always, I open my mouth. And just like always, Alice feeds me. The syrup really makes the dish, and I can't help but moan as I feel the sticky sweetness soak into my tongue. I am a damn fine cook.

Alice and I never really did talk during our meals. We'd take turns feeding each other, just like this. I don't bother stopping Alice as she scoots closer to me, and I can't help but wrap my arm around her waist, and smile at her. It was years of habit.

No, Alice and I usually talk after eating. And Alice finishes first, using a napkin to hide the fact that she's totally licking up all that syrup on her lips and cheeks. “So,” she begins, only lightly muffled by the napkin, “How has your practice with my doll strings been going?”

I don't give Alice the benefit of a reaction. Absolutely not. I chew calmly, thoroughly, even as the toast loses all flavor and my anger starts to flare. “I haven't been,” I tell her, washing out the nonexistent aftertaste with a cup of water. “Practicing, that is.”

There's a long, awkward pause. And though I avoid looking, I can feel the hurt and disappointment rolling off her. “...Why not, Marisa?”

Her voice doesn't shake, and she only has a small frown tugging on her lips. And I still, somehow, feel like I just punted a puppy.

And – one way or another, we really need to make things clear. This... part-friends, part-whatever we are. Because for all that our breakup was mutual, and agreed upon, and all that other jazz, we never actually talked about it.

“Alice. Do you still love me?” And before I can stop myself, the words blurt out of my mouth.

And if things were uncomfortable before... Alice stares at me, her frown gone, her disappointment gone, her face completely devoid of emotion. And yet... her shoulders are tense, and it feels like she's forcing herself to meet my gaze.

There's a tension in the air, and... and it feels like we'll both end up choking on it. I can't breathe, I can't look away, and...

“Marisa, that's all water under the bridge. Why does it matter?” Alice always had a better handle on her emotions than I did. I can't hear any panic, any trepidation – hell, she doesn't even sound nonchalant.

So I don't bother hiding my emotions. I let the worry and the pain and the confusion run across my face. I can't look at her, can't bear to see that... blankness, so I look down.

“It matters. Because... because.” I offer lamely. When push comes to shove, I never find the words.

And when push comes to shove, it never matters that the words don't come.

“Marisa. You brought life into my life. How could I not love you?”

A part of me... tingles in delight, is sunshine and rainbows and sheer relief, that Alice still holds a flame for me. And a part of me rages, curses and screams at her, for daring to say those words, for trying to claim even a speck of affection after she fucking cheated on me!

And a part of me... is just dazed and confused.

“Alice? You're not making much sense there.”

And when I look up, I see my Alice again. The serene one, the quietly assertive one. The Alice who glows with the joy of life, instead of the Alice that just... existed.

“I'm a youkai, Marisa. I don't need to eat, or drink – I don't even need to sleep. Magic sustains my body, and that gives me twenty four hours a day, every day, to work with.

“So that's what I did. Work. I would sew my dolls, I would gather reagents, I would study and research and experiment. That was my life, Marisa. And even though it wasn't much of one, I didn't know any better.”

Alice summons up Hourai, and a few other dolls, to collect our plates. We don't talk as they come in and clean up after us. Me, because I don't know what to say. Alice, because she's trying to find the words.

She only speaks up after everything's clean, and I notice a melancholic smile gracing her lips. “I was living on my own. None of Mother's servants to pass the time with me, no Mother to come and check up on me. So I delved into magic - my only interest, my only hobby. And I let myself go.

“And then you showed up. Again. And again. You crazy, loud lunatic.

“I hated you at first, Marisa. Ye gods, you were insufferable,” Alice admits, laughing at the memory. It's a nice sound, her laugh – not particularly low or rich, but it had a... gentleness to it. A softness. “But you dragged me, kicking and screaming, to the Village. Again, and again. And when you didn't want to go to the Village, you stayed here, asking all these incessant, obvious questions. Again, and again. And Like a fool, I answered you, again, and again, because I earnestly believed that if I just satisfied your curiosity, you'd leave me be.”

I can't help but smile too, closing my eyes to better picture those... long ago moments. “You weren't wrong. I was curious. But your magic was really just a sidenote. I was interested...”

“In me,” Alice says, letting out a gentle sigh.

“In you,” I agree, joy and anger battling in my heart.

I should press her. I have to press her, if I want this to get anywhere. It wasn't our beginning that was flawed, it never was. It was the ending, rapid-fast and twice as hectic. I panicked, and she panicked, and...

And I really, really, have to get to the bottom of this. “Alice? Why did you offer to break up first? Usually it's the victim of cheating that calls those shots.”

Alice can't quite look me in the eye. And I don't have the heart to cradle her chin again, and guide her eyes to mine. It'd be... too much.

“Because I realized that...even though you brought life into my life, and I loved you with all my everything... we didn't really understand each other. Not in the way that matters.”

In the way that matters. That matters. Like years of loving each other, living together, being together didn't matter at all.

My temper flares, and my magic with it, almost physically shoving Alice away from the sheer force of it all. She gets up to do, something, but I don't pay attention. Because I hide my eyes with the brim of my hat, like hell I'd let her see me cry, and turn to -

“Marisa. Could you come visit me at work tonight?”

And turn back around, to glare and to hate her with all my hate. “To the Lotus Pavillion? What, so I can see you fucking another man again!?”

And Alice stops her reminiscing, and with it her smile. “The Lotus Pavillion caters to female customers as well, Marisa.”

“Like that matters!? Why do you want me there, huh? We broke up already! You're free to do whatever you want!” I scream at her, I yell and slur, my confusion and hate and pain coming out into a... pathetic wail.

And Alice stands there, not letting even a hint of remorse or guilt show. And that's the worst of it. More than anything else... Alice doesn't feel any, any kind of shame over her actions. As soon as she was caught she turned it around, and broke up with me, and...

And Alice didn't even try. Doesn't even try. To defend herself, to apologize, to salvage our relationship.

I'm left sobbing into my apron, chocking back hiccups and desperate gasps for air. I can feel my teeth chattering, my body flushed and shivering from all the adrenalin coursing through me. I'm all cried out, leaving my eyes red and puffy.

“Marisa...” Alice begins, and I just don't have the energy to resist her.

I don't have enough energy to raise my head up either, so Alice gets on her knees, her hands in my lap, to look at me.

“Marisa,” Alice begins again, and a shuddering gasp escapes me. “There...there has to be enough here, between us, for you to feel some sort of obligation to me. So please, just...come visit me tonight.”

And how could I refuse her, when she phrases it like that?
File 138462804512.jpg - (256.42KB, 956x1084, Father's Sketch of Mother.jpg) [iqdb]
37090
I end up leaving shortly after that. Alice offered to clean me up a tad, but the faster I got out of that house the better.

'Course, it's out of the fire and into the freezer. My concentration's... nonexistent, after that argument, and I just don't have the energy to bother with keeping the magic up. So I end up flying through the windchill and the rain, and the only silver lining's that it won't look as obvious that I cried and sobbed earlier to Mom.

I do owe her a visit today, after all. Pops got a promise out of me. Or what counts as one between father and daughter.

The howling storm's keeping everyone inside, where it's warm and safe and the exact opposite of miserable, so the streets are clear enough for me to land right in front of my Pops' shop. Naturally, I barrel in immediately; rain is nice, but I am freezing my ass off and I'm far too tired to give a damn about the wares. I'll pay Pops for the damages when I'm rich and famous.

Luckily for me, Pops is gone as promised. And considering the time...

I slide over the counter, and head back into my childhood home. The storefront is pressed right next to the kitchen, and even before I walk through the door, I can smell the food.

Mom always ate breakfast late, and there she was, cooking up some French toast. She looked as young as ever, and already set to go in her purple dress and her crumpled-up hat.

“I'm home Mom,” I announce myself, still drained from... everything.

And Mom turns around, with a shocked expression on her gentle face. It's not quite looking into a mirror, but I stare into her golden eyes, and the curly, unruly blonde locks, and I can't help but think it's close.

And her shocked look turns into a relieved, ecstatic smile. “Welcome home, Marisa!”

----------------------------------

After that second breakfast, Mom and I retreat to the living room, cups of tea in hand. I haven't been in it for years, and more than a few things have changed – like the new pretty light blue color of the walls, the replacement of the old, secondhand recliners with a well worn, well loved leather couch, and a new window which got me a glimpse of a very new garden.

“So, how's my little girl doing, hmmm~?” Mom asks, before I even have a chance to sit down. Her eyes are... bright, and attentive, and right now I want nothing more than a hug.

But I'm a big girl now, and I'll hold my own. “I don't know, Mom, you tell me.” I smile sweetly, and gesture to all the articles Pops cut and framed over the years. “Am I doing well?”

“Bah! I only keep those things around because I don't have a first person account. You should visit more often, and bring one of your girlfriends next time, too!”

There's a pause. I very calmly set my tea down. “Mom,” I then ask, with proper pomp and seriousness, “How in the hell did you-”

And I get thwacked upside the forehead for my trouble. Mom's fingers are quick! “No swearing in this household, young lady!” Mom admonishes me, with the wagging finger and the tut tuts in her voice and everything. “As for how I knew, well... let's just say you're not the only one in the family who likes pretty little things~”

Ew. Ewww. Ewwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww.

I drink a long, burning gulp of the tea, all the better to wipe out the image in my head with sheer pain. “That's... that's too much information, Mom,” I whisper weakly, massaging my throat to help ease the heat and the burning.

“You asked how I knew. And mothers always know these things – usually from experience.” And before I realize it, Mom's sliding over to me and pulling me into a hug. I can feel her longer locks rubbing my cheeks, and they're just as soft as Pops'. Guess they are using the same shampoo.

“Just like how I know that the border of your heart's all aflutter. Come now, Marisa. Tell me what's wrong?”

My heart catches in my throat, and I stiffen in Mom's arms. She doesn't react, though – she never does, and I'm always grateful. I calm down on my own good time, and she doesn't pressure me in any way.

I. I don't want to tell her. But if Mom has so much experience, then maybe I could ask for advice. Or just story time.

But what to ask? It's been too long.

[ ]Ask about Mom's love life. All terrible images aside, maybe I got my troubles with love from Mom, too. Asking why she chose Pops might help a little, get me some insight. And I always was curious.

[ ]Ask about the Outside. Right now, I have everything under control – as much control as there can be in a place like Gensokyo. So hearing some of my old bedtime stories again would really be a comfort, and comfort's what I need the most.

[ ]Ask about Mom's career. I've seen the textbooks Mom fell in with. I've never managed to make any kind of headway into actually understanding the damn things. How does someone so smart like Mom become satisfied with... teaching little kids basic math and reading?
...

Next time that happens, let's vote to move on from Alice, alright?

Anyway, what's happening to this story? Wasn't it supposed to be about teaching magic, with what seemed like light-hearted romance on the side for fun?

You may want to get this story back on tracks, Marisa. Romance wasn't supposed to be the focus, I believe.
>>37092

"It is. And after this talk with Mom, I'll get right back to it. Heck, asking Mom about her own teaching will probably help me with my kids, too. But there's only so much teaching you can do with a once a week schedule and four students - that's why Byakuren and Miko made me those offers. Broaden my student base, more classes.

Dear lord do I want to just focus on classes for a bit."
[x]Ask about Mom's love life. All terrible images aside, maybe I got my troubles with love from Mom, too. Asking why she chose Pops might help a little, get me some insight. And I always was curious.
[x]Ask about Mom's love life. All terrible images aside, maybe I got my troubles with love from Mom, too. Asking why she chose Pops might help a little, get me some insight. And I always was curious.


This is something you can't run from. Sometimes, it's best to just face things head-on and try to resolve them. Maybe some motherly advice will help with that. Help get your head on straight again.

Also, your Mom's nice.
[X]Ask about Mom's love life. All terrible images aside, maybe I got my troubles with love from Mom, too. Asking why she chose Pops might help a little, get me some insight. And I always was curious.

>>37092
Please. Have you read Shoujo-ai or Yuri? Even if it's lighthearted, we can't have girls loving girls without drama, or suffering.

Also, I enjoyed this. It's a nice departure from the norm, keeps things interesting, and its pretty well written.
>fucking another man again!?

What the fuck, you can't just not tell us what happened.
I'm willing to bet that if that bit was known before the last vote, people would have chosen "Move On."

[x]Ask about Mom's love life. All terrible images aside, maybe I got my troubles with love from Mom, too. Asking why she chose Pops might help a little, get me some insight. And I always was curious.

This is clearly on the forefront of Marisa's mind, so we should clear it out before we do anything else.
>>37097
>I'm willing to bet that if that bit was known before the last vote, people would have chosen "Move On."

And I'm willing to bet that if the vote had fallen in favor of "Move on", it wouldn't have been true.

[x] Ask about Mom's career. Because your mother's love life is just not something you want to know about in the sort of detail she's guaranteed to go into.
[x]Ask about Mom's love life. All terrible images aside, maybe I got my troubles with love from Mom, too. Asking why she chose Pops might help a little, get me some insight. And I always was curious.

>>37098
Either way, I'm sure as hell never voting to interact with Alice again.
[X]Ask about Mom's love life. All terrible images aside, maybe I got my troubles with love from Mom, too. Asking why she chose Pops might help a little, get me some insight. And I always was curious.

So Alice is a sex-haver, Marisa wears the cuckold's horn, danger lurks in every corner and no one is safe from the Self-Sufficient Sexual Shoe's mother telling about what Shoe Sr. was up to in the sex department. Dark times indeed, friends! Dark times indeed.
>>37090
X]Ask about Mom's love life. All terrible images aside, maybe I got my troubles with love from Mom, too. Asking why she chose Pops might help a little, get me some insight. And I always was curious.

I am now very curious why Alice was at the Lotus when she already had Marisa. Moreso as Alice does not seem like a sex fiend.
[x]Ask about Mom's career. I've seen the textbooks Mom fell in with. I've never managed to make any kind of headway into actually understanding the damn things. How does someone so smart like Mom become satisfied with... teaching little kids basic math and reading?

Well, that's not the reason I was expecting. Raises a whole host of interesting questions. And we're going to visit her? Oh, my.

Also, your mom's nice. I see a sense of adventure runs in the family.
>>37102

Possibly very different views on relationships. If Alice works at the Lotus Pavilion, she may consider her work there to be just that: work. And therefore something separate from her relationship with Marisa. When she realized that Marisa couldn't accept such a thing, and thus held different priorities than her, Alice probably figured that a clean break would be for the best.

Of course, one would think that Alice'd pick up on that sort of thing beforehand. This suggests some fundamental compatibility issues. Or maybe I'm completely off-case here.
Oh boy, another writer who thinks it's okay to withhold in-character knowledge in order to shepherd votes in the direction they want.

Abstaining this time because none of the options interest me.
>>37104

Wait what's the Lotus Pavilion again?
>>37099
>Either way, I'm sure as hell never voting to interact with Alice again.
You know, as one of the people who voted to move on (because I thought it'd be healthier), way to be harsh, dude. Yeah, Marisa could've handled it a tiny bit better (in a perfect world), but it's on Alice too. Wait, I'm kind of agreeing with you here, which isn't my intention.

What I'm trying to say is: It's not like Alice was being a complete jerk about it. From what I read, she owned up to it and didn't make the standard shitty excuses that people who are cheating do. Yeah, Alice wasn't great about it either, but trying to avoid all contact because of a backstory thing that's been blown out of proportion by the readers is a little shitty. It's a broth-y place, it's just banging. Alice should have told Marisa, yes, but this shouldn't be a thing to end all contact forever over.
[X]Ask about Mom's love life. All terrible images aside, maybe I got my troubles with love from Mom, too. Asking why she chose Pops might help a little, get me some insight. And I always was curious.


>you're not the only one in the family who likes pretty little things~
I'm reminded of the phrase "God only knows how mothers know of all the things they forbid their daughters from doing".


>>37104
Well, in the end Youkai don't think like humans. What is logical and "right" to us might not be the same to them and vice versa.
X]Ask about Mom's love life. All terrible images aside, maybe I got my troubles with love from Mom, too. Asking why she chose Pops might help a little, get me some insight. And I always was curious.

This update was pretty damn uncomfortable.
>>37106
*cough* *brothel* *cough*
>>37109
Good uncomfortable, or bad?
[ ]Ask about Mom's love life. All terrible images aside, maybe I got my troubles with love from Mom, too. Asking why she chose Pops might help a little, get me some insight. And I always was curious.
[X]Ask about Mom's love life. All terrible images aside, maybe I got my troubles with love from Mom, too. Asking why she chose Pops might help a little, get me some insight. And I always was curious.

Whoa! Gunna go ahead and Nope.gif on the two dollar hooker. Glad we got that out of the way before we got too deep in the route.
>>37110

Oh god that's what I was afraid of. Please tell me Alice just designs the clothes there. . . please?
>>37114
>“Marisa. Could you come visit me at work tonight?”
>“To the Lotus Pavillion? What, so I can see you fucking another man again!?”
Nope. Ultra-turbo whoreslut.
>>37110

It seems the master of subtlety has made his presence known among us. Bow, Anon, for we are not worthy.

>>37114

From what we've seen so far; It's a pretty upscale and classy brothel. Dunno if that changes your opinion or not though.

But...there is the possibility that it does indeed have a two dollar hooker department...so there's that. Whatever the case may be, the Lotus Pavillion(and personnel employed there-in) probably isn't something a Children's school teacher should get herself involved with.
>>37116
Clearly Keine works there in a cow outfit
>>37117

Sorry, school teacher was probably the wrong choice of words. How about magic teacher?
[X]Ask about Mom's love life. All terrible images aside, maybe I got my troubles with love from Mom, too. Asking why she chose Pops might help a little, get me some insight. And I always was curious.

Look at the bright side: After this night, even a (the) magician of love will be ready to move on completely.
"Sorry for the lateness, but here's the newly customary warning for vote closing."

>>37095
>>37103
>>37108

"My mom is the absolute best mom. I just really don't want to think about her doing the nasty. With guys or gals."

>>37097
>>37098
>>37099
>>37107

"No, it was there from the beginning. That was why I was pushing away from an 'Alice route'. But you guys made me think about it, and... well, I reconsidered. And here we are.

Alice cheated on me, yeah, but >>37107 has the right of it. She owned up to it, and... maybe the break up was her trying to make things easy for me. Or I'm overanalyzing. Fuck, this sucks."

>>37102
>>37104

"The thing is, she isn't a sex fiend. I was the horny one in our relationship; Not a day went by where I didn't try to bring her to bed. I just don't know why she'd work in a place like that. It doesn't add up at all...

And Alice didn't even work there until after we got together. I... I 'brought life' into her life, after all. So I don't know what changed."

>>37105

"I don't know about you, but I find not wanting to talk about your first girlfriend cheating on you to be completely reasonable. I thought I'd... hell, I don't know what I was thinking."

>>37113
>>37114
>>37115
>>37116

"No, no, don't... call Alice that. She respects herself, and the Lotus Pavilion is pretty damn respectable itself, even including its line of business. It's just...

I'd normally be okay with her working there, if, you know, we weren't together at the time."

>>37117

"Heh. What I wouldn't give to see Keine in one of those. Mmm, milky."

>>37120

"I'm... I'm not too sure. Alice never plays that obligation card unless she means it. For a magical puppeteer, she really does hate forcing people into things. And while deciding to 'Move On' would have made visiting her an actual choice, with votes and everything...

Well, obligation goes both ways. That's what makes a relationship."
>the Lotus Pavilion is pretty damn respectable itself

Yes, as I understand it, it's more like "a place to find pleasurable companionship".
I know it's basically just semantics, but the difference is: a brothel is somewhere you go to get laid, while the Pavillion is the place if you are interested in maybe just spending some time with a pretty lady? (Intimate activities optional, usually extra, and most importantly not always the main selling point.)
>>37122
>>37123
>The thing is, she isn't a sex fiend. I was the horny one in our relationship; Not a day went by where I didn't try to bring her to bed. I just don't know why she'd work in a place like that. It doesn't add up at all... And Alice didn't even work there until after we got together. I... I 'brought life' into her life, after all. So I don't know what changed.

>I... I 'brought life' into her life, after all. So I don't know what changed.

This is baseless speculation mind you, but one theory I've got is that Alice is trying to do the exact same thing for people that you did for her. Bring life to their lives.

It's possible that Alice just doesn't see sex the same way most humans do, so doesn't have any qualms about having sex if it'll help people.

But I'd rather hold off on speculating about or condemning Alice until after we visit her tonight. I've got a hunch, you see...
>>37123
Basically. I'm not sure if everyone in the thread has in fact read the Lotus Pavilion and its sequel with Kaguya. The first firmly establishes the place as a extremely classy brothel. The women who work there do so of their own free will, and because they enjoy the sex. The second story with Teru has plenty of sex, yes, but a large amount of the experience was about spending time with Kaguya. Among other reasons, Kaguya works at the Pavilion because the establishment attract unusual and interesting people. For the immortal, the Pavilion was a way to keep fresh things in her life.

PS. Lotus Pavillion and Checking Out the Librarian are required reading if you want to learn how to write porn. Do yourself a favor and read them.

I have my own theory as to why Alice started working at the brothel, but it's only what I could infer:
Alice had always been asocial and alone but Marisa came in and dragged her out of that, “Marisa. You brought life into my life. How could I not love you?”
Marisa opened up a new world for her, but I think curiosity got the better of Alice. It seems like it is her fatal flaw: curiosity drove her to delve into magic, curiosity over Marisa drew her into a relationship, and curiosity about the world Marisa opened up for her slowly pulled her to the Pavillion. With rather unique and powerful youkai working there, as well as interesting patrons, it become her forbidden apple.

We have no idea behind Alice's reasoning: maybe she, as a youkai, had a different set of expectations or norms within a relationship. Her mother did create a race of succubi; maybe she gave into her curiosity and felt guilty, but couldn't over come her need to sate her curiosity; fuck, for all we know, it could be an misunderstanding. She does feel guilt though and owned up to it. That's a respectable level of honesty. The only thing left to do is work through it and see what happens. I doubt they'll be able to go back to the way things were before.

In my opinion, the whole Pavilion subplot feels like forced drama. It came out of left field. If nothing else, it's remarkable how invested readers are in this story, or how strongly they self-insert as the protagonist. From a metagaeming perspective, we can accept Alice back, but make it clear that Marisa's heart no longer belongs solely to the puppeteer. We gain a member who's most likely open to other partners, a powerful resource for our school/library, and an ally who is desperate to make things up.

The hypocrisy in the responses is rather humorous. You'd think that after being so hurt over Alice cheating on her, Marisa would be whole dedicated to a single person. Yet, here we are, judging her for being polygamous while we chasing after a harem, my self included, as well as everyone in the previous thread who wanted to chase after some combination of Kosuzu, Byakuren, Miko, Reimu, and Akyuu, and explicitly asked Mima about more than one girl. The way I look at it, Marisa is no better than Alice.
>>37124
>>37125

"Those are some... some really reasonable explanations, right there. Maybe that's what Alice meant when she said we didn't quite understand each other. I'll try and press her about it when I visit her at work.

"About the drama being out of left field... well, yeah, I'm not gonna sugarcoat it. Alice and I had, have luggage, and being interested in her means clearing all that luggage up. Drama is part and parcel with relationships - see the whole thing with Kosuzu and Akyuu - and anything involving Alice is gonna have a bit more drama than usual. We broke up, after all. Trying to re-establish a relationship after that is going to cause things like this.

"And, as for the hypocrisy... I can't say anything about the reasoning for the rest of you, but when I was with Alice, I was with Alice. I didn't mack on Reimu or anyone else. I might be a bit sluttish now, what with chasing after multiple girls, but that's my prerogative as a single lady."
>>37127
>We broke up, after all. Trying to re-establish a relationship after that is going to cause things like this.

Here's the thing; if you'd been forthcoming about why you broke up (ie ALICE IS A GODDAMN PROSTITUTE) then you wouldn't have gotten a single vote for 'linger'.
I don't consider this 'out of left field'. I consider it 'complete and utter bullshit'.
You left out in-character knowledge that would have been critical to the character's decision.

You have deliberately misled your readers for the purpose of 'drama'.

There was another story a while ago that did the same thing. You know what ended up happening there? A complete asspull of an ending, and an ensuing clusterfuck of hate and rage.
Now, what you've done isn't on the same magnitude as what that guy did, but I'm seriously concerned about where this story might be headed.
I think y'all are blowing this "we should have known" thing way out of proportion. The gimmick is that Marisa tells the story, and speaks to the reader right? It makes sense to me that there's two sides of the coin: on one end, Marisa is forthcoming with what she knows and what she doesn't. On the other side, there's things Marisa doesn't want to talk about.
>>37128
We know that MariAli used to be a thing, and that a split happened. I'm not the most attentive of readers, but that's what we knew, and our source of information's been holding back. Then we get the big reveal. You know what else does this? Damn near every other story that's ever had a shocking reveal revealed by a somewhat reluctant information teller. It's called "not meticulously explaining every single little detail." Yeah, this isn't a traditional story, it's a CYOA. My point still stands.
>>37128
So, uh, I think this is an important point to make. This story is told in first person limited which means we readers are only able to see what Marisa her self does. Furthermore, she is an narrator who is willing to withhold information, which she has done before. It may be drama, but this rather par for the course.
>>37128

>if you'd been forthcoming about why you broke up (ie ALICE IS A GODDAMN PROSTITUTE) then you wouldn't have gotten a single vote for 'linger'.

Don't presume to speak for me; I still would've voted for linger, if only because I think Marisa needs to understand why Alice did what she did. Can't make a good decision 'bout your relationship 'till you understand the reasons why your partner did what they did.


>>37129

Also, this.


>>37127

>"And, as for the hypocrisy... I can't say anything about the reasoning for the rest of you, but when I was with Alice, I was with Alice. I didn't mack on Reimu or anyone else. I might be a bit sluttish now, what with chasing after multiple girls, but that's my prerogative as a single lady."

Pretty sure >>37125 is actually referring to the fact several people have plans to get together with multiple people in a harem. But still, it's not really the whole escort thing that bothers me, it's fact that she didn't talk to you about it first. It's perfectly fine to sleep with multiple people as long as everyone in the relationship is fine with it, but to do it without even saying anything at all? Whelp, Alice dun goofed. Can't really see any good reasons for not doing so, but I'm prepared to be proven wrong.

Anyway, I'm gettin' real tired 'bout now, So I'll apologise if this is a bit incoherent, and retire to bed. 'Night all.
[x]Ask about Mom's love life. All terrible images aside, maybe I got my troubles with love from Mom, too. Asking why she chose Pops might help a little, get me some insight. And I always was curious.
>>37128
In the very first update, Marisa refused to let us choose her dad as an option, and when pressed by the readers refused to talk about it. Granted, the information was light and the incident was resolved without, well, incident, but there is precidence that Marisa'll withhold information.

And being forced to make decisions without in character knowledge might be cheap in other stories, it's fine here. Why? Because we're not the main character. Marisa is. And she's demonstrated herself to be her own character that we as readers can interact with regularly, and is not just an extension of our own wants.
>>37128
Chill out. You should stop posting for a while too.
Well, I for one don't find >>37128 's accusation baseless. There is a difference between holding information for a small thing and then for a bigger thing like right now. Lingering also seemed fine to me, but what happened with Marisa afterwards and the reason for the breakup... What was the point of Marisa letting us decide to linger or move on if pain was the immediate result?

So yeah, siding with that guy here.
>>37129

Agreed. We knew that Marisa had a split with Alice. She didn't want to talk about it. Now we know why. If we hadn't chosen to linger, we might never have known, but it would still have been here. Now, we have a chance to confront it.

So yeah, I have no problem with how the story has progressed. I'm just wondering about Alice's perspective, and how she sees all of this.
>>37136

Well, considering what Marisa said here at the end of this post - >>37122 - The difference between Moving on and LIngering is how... dedicated, Marisa would be about things with Alice. The whole cheating thing might not have been revealed at all, since Marisa would have officially gone "I don't give a shit anymore" and let sleeping dogs lie.

But she didn't, so she doesn't, and the dog that was Alice's cheating woke up.

And also, about half the choices or more in this story have been about the long term. Choosing a place for the library, choosing what to teach the students, choosing between Byakuren and Miko... Maybe Moving on and LIngering are long term choices, too.
Putting my two cents in. This story wouldn't be nearly as interesting to read if it wasn't told in the story it's being told. Withholding information is just as important as disseminating it- what you don't know informs your decision making just as much as what you do.

Personally, I'd have gone for staying and talking with Alice, even if I did know their past. After all, that hatchet hasn't been buried yet- there's still pain there, and it won't be resolved until Marisa sees everything that there is to see and can act on that. Relying on half-truths, partial-knowledge and so on isn't her style.

Straight on, like a giant death-ray shining into a moonless evening, splitting the clouds in two and turning night to day. Straight-forward, with guns blazing and full steam ahead no matter what might come, that's the Marisa Kirisame we all know and love.

But even she needs a break once in a while, and advice, so.

[x] Hug your mother.
And
[x] Ask mom about her love-life!
I would still vote for Linger. But I think we should have been told.

[x] Hug your mother.
And
[x] Ask mom about her love-life!
"I know what will get our relationship back on track, come watch a complete stranger pour his boiling hot semen into my vagaina/ass/mouth."

Seriously...like...what the fuck Alice.
>>37098
It would have changed my vote the other way.
Also we knew they had a fight. I .. just don't get peoples reactions.
>>37143
>had a fight
>over Alice deciding that getting paid to fuck complete strangers was a more attractive option than staying in a meaningful relationship with the person she loved

To be clear, I don't have a problem with Alice's actions. She's a bitch, yes, but that's just how she's characterised here.
Marisa, on the other hand, is completely inconsistent. Prior to that update, she was shown to be a strong, independent person, with clear goals and the drive to achieve them.
Then suddenly she's screaming and crying over an obvious lost cause.

And don't you dare say 'well that's what you voted for' because it fucking isn't.
>>37144

It's called a moment of weakness. Those are allowed.
Guys...wait...wait...I figured it out. It's all so clear to me now. We should definitely forgive Alice because...

Turns out she's a quarter Succubus, and needs human semen in order to survive.

Oh Alice...I'm sorry I ever doubted you. Can you find it in your heart to forgive Marisa and date her again?
>>37144

Yeah, it's not like real people can be strong and independent normally, but fall to pieces when exposed to certain triggers, like I don't know, revisiting emotional trauma with your girlfriend who betrayed you. No siree!

[/Sarcasm]
I'm aware that THP was born from /jp/ but I kinda hoped that the people here would be less... sheltered.

[x] love life story + hug
"Thanks for all the... well, discussion I guess, about how this story's told. I'm glad you like my own little method of doing things - and, sorry if I trampled on any feelings."

>>37142
>>37146

"No. Just... No. Alice isn't a quarter-succubus, and even if she was she's not the kind of person to hide behind that, or force me to watch her... work.

>>37148

"It's not so much that they're sheltered as much as, well. The sex industry is kinda polarizing, inherently.

"And back to better things. Asking Mom about her love life won with an amazing lead, so... I guess I'll find out why Mom chose Pops over Auntie Renko."
>>37149

>I guess I'll find out why Mom chose Pops over Auntie Renko

....Goddamnit Marisa, you made me spray my drink all over my screen!
>>37149
Well... that comfirms it. Though it'll be interesting considering Marisa's dad is as ordinary as you can get.
>>37149

To be fair to >>37142, what he said is no worse than your "What, so I can see you fucking another man again!?"

Anyway - even if she didn't, for whatever reason, understand what the problem is, it still doesn't make sense to me that she abruptly decided to break up instead of talking things through, deciding to stop now that she does know you have a problem with it. But, then, I wasn't there for that conversation, and you were, so it's possible you understand this better than I do.

>Auntie Renko

Wait a tick, just who exactly is your mother?
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37154
...
Did you not open the spoiler image?
Her mother is Maribel Hearn.
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37155
>>37150
>>37151
>>37152

"Wait, what? I don't get why you're reacting like this. What did I say?

And speaking of what I said, yeah, you're right >>37152, considering my own thoughts on the idea, >>37142 had a point."

>>37154

"Okay, wait, hold up.

Yes, Mom's maiden name is Maribel Hearn, and yes that means I'm a descendent of the amazing and great Lafcadio Hearn, but how did you get all that from my picture?"
Uh..we've seen a picture of her from her college days. In what should correspond to GY 250 or so?
Either time travel or alternate universes are involved. Or both.
There are plenty of people out there with open marriages, now not telling/working it out with Marrisa ahead of time. . Yeah that was a fairly horrible thing to do.

But Alice is not nesisarily a lost cause.
>>37155

Long story involving parallel universes. Probably. Best not to get into it.
>>37155

I was merely surprised about your parentage, Marisa.

Once upon a time there were two girls seeking the supernatural. One had the ability to see borders, and the other could tell the time and place merely by looking at the stars. They had many an adventure together... But that's not my story to tell.

...If your mother is the same Maribel that we think it is, then you're probably related to Yukari... somehow.

Whelp.
>>37155
... who are you talking to?

I'm not asking rhetorically, and I'm not looking for answer like “the guy who said such-and-such”. Who do you think we are, and how do you think you're communicating with us?
File 138481820181.png - (55.36KB, 284x140, マエリベリー.png) [iqdb]
37161
>>37155
>Yes, Mom's maiden name is Maribel Hearn, and yes that means I'm a descendent of the amazing and great Lafcadio Hearn, but how did you get all that from my picture?"

There are other reasons - and someone already mentioned a rumored connection to a certain gap youkai - but also... Well, I don't know if you get pictures through this, but I have highlighted a relevant portion of the picture you showed us.
>>37161

...Not that most of us can read moonrunes anyway.
>>37160

You... really have not been paying attention, have you.
>>37156
>>37158

"Oh, well alright. I know all about alternate dimensions - they're convoluted at the best of times."

>>37159

"... Very convoluted. I think I'll, uh... I think I'll never ask Yukari for a maternity test."

>>37160

"You're my audience, of course. What else?"

>>37161
>>37163

"Oh hey, someone who can read Japanese! Awesome. Though I thought I'd whited out Mom's name. Guess not."
I'd have sex with Marisa's mom.
>> 37166
I'm sure Marisa appreciates that sentiment.
>>37167
Hey, I never said I wouldn't have sex with Marisa.
What's up with this silly Alice whoreshaming? Completely moronic. The only place she fucked up was in not telling Marisa beforehands. Hardly a big deal.
>>37169
see
>>37149
>"It's not so much that they're sheltered as much as, well. The sex industry is kinda polarizing, inherently.

What you call 'whoreshaming' is considered 'common sense' for other people. Keep your mind open and remember that your moral standards are only yours.
>>37170
Sure. Doesn't make your standards not wrong though.
File 138487252155.png - (424.44KB, 900x1099, mosquito in forehead.png) [iqdb]
37172
>Sure. Doesn't make your standards not wrong though.
9/10: Made me reply.
>>37169
>Hardly a big deal.
Just like how she took a big steaming dump all over Marisa's feelings on the matter, right?
And basically said 'Hey, let's have sex some time. You have to pay me, though.'
I like how everyone seems to have missed that.
>>37173

>'Hey, let's have sex some time. You have to pay me, though.'

...I can't see where she said this. Maybe I'm just blind, or I'm missing some sort of implication in the update, but could you please quote the part where Alice said this?
>>37174
Didn't outright say it but.

> “Marisa. Could you come visit me at work tonight?”

When she works at a brothel this could be interpreted as such.

But I don't think she meant it that way.
>And how could I refuse her, when she phrases it like that?
Wait, hold on.
Are we not going to be given a choice on that?
And this is Alice working at the Lotus Pavilion, the classiest name possible for a prostestablishment.

I'd hate to see how you guys would freak out if she worked at Jizzmilkers, or Aryan Anal, or the Cheesecake Factory (Now Serving Handjobs).
>>37180
The issue isn't the she works at a brothel; it is that she did so without telling Marisa, and reacted to being discovered with 'I don't want to deal with your feelings so I'm just going to leave you.'
She doesn't give a single shit about how her actions affect Marisa. She's not just a whore, she's a bitch.
[X]Ask about Mom's love life. All terrible images aside, maybe I got my troubles with love from Mom, too. Asking why she chose Pops might help a little, get me some insight. And I always was curious.

I really want to ask about her career, but we seem to be doing alright with the teaching part of things, whereas our love life is a tempest. if i can pick two, definitely throw in career questions, but love life is the pressing matter.

Also, the part of things that I'm hung up on isn't the what of marisa's and alice's relationship, it's the why. A great many things can be justified with the proper motive, but bad reasoning makes even the best of choices rotten. I'm not going to throw any stones at alice until we understand more of the situation, especially considering we are currently aiming to make half of gensokyo a part of our harem. As the saying goes, people in glass houses should shut the fuck up. It has been stated that being single now changes the two situations, but we are still juggling maidens, and that is a core similarity.

For the record, had I known, I still would have picked linger, not just for understanding the scenario, but also because it seems most in character. Love isn't logical, and with marisa pining after so many, it seems to me that she wouldn't have quite cut ALL the strings that bind her to alice just yet. wounds take time to heal, old habits die hard, et cetera, et cetera.
Vote was already closed for the option you picked.
>>37183

...You basically managed to say what it took me three posts to say, in one. And you said it better and more coherently too. Thank you.
>>37183

The problem is - for all that the job itself could be explained in terms of Alice not being able to anticipate how Marisa would feel about it (because socially awkward and/or because not human) - even hiding" it from Marisa could be explained in terms of her not understanding that it's a big deal in the first place i.e. it never came up.

But despite all that - nothing explains the breakup. Especially since she was, to all accounts, the first to mention breaking up, so we can't even assume that was prompted by something Marisa said in anger. I really can't see any scenario other than not caring enough about Marisa to want to make the relationship work. Screwing up is one thing - people make mistakes, and people with an alien view of emotions and social norms can make bigger mistakes than normal. Bolting at the first sign of trouble is quite another.
>>37187
That might also be chalked up as "different expectations of how things work/are supposed to work".

Until we hear what Alice wants to say, it's hard to know for sure why it happened the way it did.
>>37187
>I really can't see any scenario other than not caring enough about Marisa to want to make the relationship work.

Then you're biased and not trying hard enough. Please correct your own shortcomings before throwing statements such as those.
I know 'being dumb' isn't something that should be said like this, or used as a way to disqualify an argument, but when you try to throw a rock at the ground and not only fail, but hit me in the face, I can't help but think that it was your intention all along and not a simple mistake.

Anyway, the most common and logical reason for Alice's suggestion for breaking up would be the realization that her 'job' affects Marisa much differently than it affects her and that two beings that are so fundamentally different can't understand each other after all. Or maybe she wanted Marisa to stop feeling the pain she expressed when she found out about Pavilion. Or maybe Alice realized that she valued her freedom more than her company, but with her absence she now wants to make a compromise. Or maybe she doesn't like girls anymore. Or maybe.. well, do I really have to go on?
>>37191
...nope, still mad.
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37193
>>37192

Y-you can't mean that...I knew Marisa, bold and brash as she is would end up getting me pregnant, and we would need money to support the children. Can't you see how much your scorn is tearing me up inside?

Can't you see how much I love you, Marisa?
>>37193
True. Marisa's mushroom based spermicidal cream would likely have mixed effectiveness
This thread is everything that is wrong with THP.
>>37196
You are everything that is wrong with Pooshlmer. Please die.
>>37193
Clearly, you're deranged, if you're saying shit like that after what you pulled.
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37204
>>37199
Aww, come on, alice is always looking out for you. Supporting you.
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37205
>>37204
Oh shit. Is it Alice-o-clock? I bought this funny watch, but it only tells me the day of the month.
>>37204
>>37193
YAF pls go
File 138530512484.png - (140.05KB, 801x481, yian ocelot.png) [iqdb]
37207
>>37206
Those were the times.
>>37204
Obviously not, or she wouldn't have pulled what she did.
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37211
>>37210
You sound angry.
>>37211
I don't hear any denials.
>>37217
I hear shitposts. Is that good enough for you? Case in point...

>>37193
>>37204
>>37194
>>37196
>>37197
>>37199
>>37205
>>37206
>>37207
>>37210
>>37211
>>37217

Please stop mucking up a good thread/story. Take it to blue if you want, just don't do it here.
Oh god, Marisa update already so this bullshit can end already!
>>37196
True.

You'd think waifu shitstorms can only occur with male MCs. Guess I was wrong.
>>37243

>You'd think waifu shitstorms can only occur with male MCs

Why would you ever think that?
Friend of Marisa's here. She's going through a bit of a rough patch, and needs some time to herself. She's a tough girl, though, so I'm sure she'll be back eventually.
File 13874812757.jpg - (138.22KB, 650x890, Young Mom.jpg) [iqdb]
37286
[X]Ask about Mom's love life. All terrible images aside, maybe I got my troubles with love from Mom, too. Asking why she chose Pops might help a little, get me some insight. And I always was curious.


My parents are definitely a weird case of opposites attract. Pops is...is gruff, and kinda cold. He's just a really typical conservative dad, with the quietness and poker-facing that entails. And Mom is the exact opposite of typical; she's bright, and bubbly, and wears her heart on her sleeve. And somehow, someway... they still manage to click, and keep the flames of love burning bright.

And I know it's love. If I had been a mistake, and they'd stayed together for me... Mom's smiles wouldn't have been so bright, or filled with all her heart and soul. And Dad...Dad would never have had that warmth inside, those wry grins when he thinks no one's looking.

But still... it takes time to get to that level of trust. And frankly I don't know how my folks got there.

“Hey, Mom? Remember Auntie Renko?” I ask, still in her arms.

I don't need to see the confused look on Mom's face to know its there. “Of course I do, Marisa. But I'm surprised you remember her; you were only four when she came.”

Has it really been that long? It doesn't feel like it – I can still picture Auntie Renko pretty damn well in my head. She had her angled trilby hat, for one, and brown bangs that did that cliché 'covers one eye' thing, even though her other eye was big and full of expression. Faint freckles dotted her cheeks, and I remember her blushing furiously when Mom told me they were 'angel kisses.'

I remember her breaking in from the Outside. It wasn't particularly eye-popping, or extravagant. She was just... like a whisper. Here in an instant, and vanished just as fast.

Well, maybe not quite as fast. She lived at our place for a few weeks, but... she left. And I was too young to think of asking her how the hell she managed to slip in and out of Gensokyo like that.

But my regrets are as deep as the sea, and there's no point in pondering over what-ifs. No, right now is the time to ponder hows and whys!

“Well, she left a impression, Mom. And, speaking of which...why did you choose Pops over her? It seemed to me like you loved her more than Pops.”

Mom suddenly pulls away from me, and I have to wince at the sight. A small frown pulls down on her lips, and her eyes flicker from gold to purple for the briefest of moments. I really crossed the line, and I start to apologize, but...

But Mom's eyes are stuck firmly gold, and she gently ruffles my hair to shush me. “I raised a perceptive child, hmmm? I wonder if that's from me or your father.”

“Absolutely Pops. He told me you didn't notice he loved you until a year after you two met.”

Either it's my words or her memories, but something gets Mom to chuckle and mellow a bit. She stops making a mess of my hair to drink from her teacup, sighing in relief as the drink's heat warms her soul. “Well, I suppose that's true. But in my defense, I still thought myself in a relationship back then.”

I got Mom talking about it, so now I just have to let the story unfold. Mom likes her tea a bit sweeter than mine, so once I finish my cup I don't pour myself another. But even without the tea, being in my old living room is soothing. Nostalgic.

It's pretty much the perfect setting to reminisce. And that's what Mom does, sighing gently and almost gazing off into the distance. “You have to understand, Marisa. Your Auntie Renko was more than just my college girlfriend. She was my life, in every way that mattered.

“The Outside... to me, it was nothing but a bore. Everything was explored, everything was discovered. I lived my life in complete ennui, Marisa. It was terrible, but I just didn't have the energy to change anything.”

I knew that feeling all too well; Gensokyo's pretty amazing from an objective standpoint, but for me... it's just my home country. Hometown, more like. There are maybe three or four actual outposts of civilization, and everywhere else is populated by wild youkai – or more commonly, nothing at all.

“Renko... she changed that for me, Marisa. We met in college, and... we clicked. Love at first sight; I had never believed in it until that moment. She showed me her powers, I showed her mine, and -”

Wait a damn second, that's news to me! “You have powers?”

And Mom nods, like it's totally normal to have supernatural powers. “I didn't think of it as anything special, Marisa. My ability was really subtle. Renko could look at the stars, and always know the time. And if she looked at the moon, she always knew where she was. My power was... well, let's just say it was a good intuition.”

Mom...Mom's lying, I think. Intuition can't really be a power, not unless you could prove it somehow, and how do you prove 'My gut's telling me to do this' is supernatural in origin? But she's already getting off the couch before I can say a word, and the teapot lies forgotten as I follow her upstairs, the gentle thumping of rain on our roof being our only accompaniment. “Renko was the one who convinced me to start exploring – for the supernatural, I mean. We'd spend all our free time traveling around, visiting haunted mansions, abandoned shrines, all sorts of sites.”

Mom and Pops have really gotten into interior decorating. The wall on the staircase holds a bunch of photos now; some of them show camping dates my folks went on, and there's two family pictures – once when I was young and Auntie Renko was around, and another right before I... left. I'd pause to reminisce, but Mom's not stopping.

But a brisk walk still gives me the time to take in some of the changes; like, for example, the squeaky floorboards finally getting replaced. Those damned things always gave me away when I tried to sneak out, and I get the feeling Pops only replaced them after I left because he, well, didn't need them anymore. The house's musk has changed, too – when I was growing up, it was all dusty and old, like the place was just rotting away. But now it smells... earthy. A bit sweet. All the chocolate Pops has made over the years must have soaked into the wood.

Mom ends up stopping at a cabinet that was, in fact, here before – but the wood's been sanded down a bit, and the beaten up thing's enjoying a new varnish for its trouble. It actually looks respectable, now. She bends down to open it, and over her shoulder I can see all of her photo albums lined up inside. Even in this dim light, I can tell she's grabbing the oldest one; the spine's all beat up, and unlike the others, it's labeled in English: “Husband and Wife.”

The hallway's a bit too cramped for us to look at pictures, so Mom and I both head back downstairs to make ourselves comfortable. She doesn't let me look at first, since she wants to skim through her memories again and pick out the best pictures for me to view. So, I busy myself with inconsequential things, refilling our teacups, rebraiding my hair, while...

While Mom chuckles, and sighs, and wipes a few tears from her eyes.

It's only when she stops tearing up that she finally puts down the photo album and lets me see. The entire binder is big enough to take half of the table space, so I have to move the tea tray to make sure it's not in the way. Mom starts by flipping the pages back, not quite to the first page, but close.

It's not my first time seeing Mom and Auntie Renko in a city, with actual skyscrapers, and cars, and... so many other things I don't yet know the words to. My mom, and even the other kids, grew up with fairy tales, of heroes and princesses, dragons and all sorts of youkai. But me? I grew up with sci-fi. So seeing the Outside, even if it's just a few snapshots...looking at the planes and the satellites in the sky, or the metal, titanic ships out at sea...

It's enough to drive me to distraction. Enough to make me forget about my fucked up love life. About Mom's fucked up love life.

But Mom just gently taps a different picture down in the corner. One of her and Auntie Renko, smiling together at the camera...with an old, beaten up shrine in the background.

"This is where she confessed to me, Marisa. Right here, in front of the Shrine." I could hear the capitalization, the sheer importance she put into the word, and I had to look up at her. Mom's locks covered her face, so I couldn't see her eyes... but it was obvious where they were focused. "It's...looking back, it's funny. We never really talked about love. It didn't need to be said. I knew how I felt, and she knew how she felt. But..." Mom chuckles, brushing back her bangs, and I can see the tears welling up again. "But your Auntie Renko, she was scared of losing me. My grades had been slipping, I'd been losing sleep... and all I could think about was the magic, the fantasy. The sheer want, the need for it to be real. It became my obsession.

"And Renko...in another world, in another life, she didn't say a thing. She cared more about my happiness than hers. So eventually... I left her. I left my home, my family, my lover and best friend." There's a surety in Mom's voice, like she's talking about 'what happened' and not 'what-ifs'. Mom, at that moment, feels just... terribly old, and terribly lonely. Like she's channeling the sorrow of eras gone by, and speaking with the weight of centuries.

My hands don't shake. I don't let them. But the warmth that soaks through the porcelain is a comfort, all the same.

And then Mom smiles, small and gentle, and she steps back into better times. "But not this world. At that time, at that place...Renko was selfish. More than wanting my happiness... she wanted me to be happy, with her. Oh, Marisa, your Auntie Renko was never more beautiful than in that moment. She didn't ask me to stop, she just... asked me to slow down, enough for her to catch up. And I couldn't deny her that."

But...but she did. Otherwise I wouldn't be here right now. And I try to hide my confusion with a sip of the tea, but I never could hide anything from Mom.

"I couldn't deny her... but in the end, it wasn't really my choice. We had a year, Marisa, a wonderful year, but then...one day, I woke up in the middle of the field." I can see the exact moment where her heart throbs with pain, and it's... unsettling. I don't want to see Mom like this. I really shouldn't have asked her, about Dad and Auntie Renko.

"I was lost, Marisa. If you ever manage to make it Outside, you rush over to Tokyo U and find your Auntie Renko. She'll take care of you. Because getting transported to an unfamiliar land isn't all it's cracked up to be. And maybe if I had abandoned Renko, and focused on my powers, then it wouldn't have been so bad. But I didn't, and I didn't, and so it was. This was before your Reimu made those Spellcard Rules, so...well, let's just skip this part of the story, hmm?"

Mom's putting on a stronger face, and it's the least I can do to match her. "I remember this part - Dad told me." He's told me so many times when I was younger that I almost feel like I was there, at that moment. "You came during the summer, a few hours after noon. You were crying, and your dress and hat were all torn up. And... and you were right there, in the middle of the road, and no one even asked if you were okay, because you were an Outsider."

"And then your father walked right up to me, and offered me his handkerchief." Mom breaks into gentle chuckling, the sadness and stress washing off of her. "After I was through with it, he had to toss it in the trash. He only threw it away when I wasn't looking, after he'd made sure I had a roof over my head. Marisa, I remember thinking, 'Whoever ends up with him is going to be one lucky girl... if they can get the stick out of his ass.'"

I was only holding my cup of tea for the warmth, so I manage to avoid choking as I laugh, and laugh, and laugh. It's only when I'm gasping for breath, with tears in my eyes, do I notice that Mom took my cup to make sure I didn't spill.

"You mean he was worse before, Mom?" Pops is... is gruff, and cold, and all kinds of stony. His smiles, and his affection... seem a lot more meaningful, sometimes, because it's so hard to make him proud. How could someone like that make Mom happy?

"Mmm... not worse, but... different. Your father's just shy, is all. Even when he was wooing me, he never said much." Mom smiles again, and begins to gently brush my hair. "You really are your father's daughter, Marisa... Both your actions speak so loud, sometimes I can't hear what either of you say."

That's... certainly a way of putting it. And now that I think about it, it does... fit. Despite all the bluster and anger, Pops never tried to bring me back from Mima. And just yesterday, after years of no-contact...Pops ruffled my hair, and cut out articles of my accomplishments, and gave me back the books I sold him, free of charge.

I need a moment to process things. And Mom, as always, gives me all the time I need. Even though the rain and lightning is only getting harder and louder, and the living room doesn't have a single candle... nothing feels gloomy at my parents' house. It never has. So... "So, what were Dad's actions? When you were younger."

Mom doesn't say a word, and instead taps on the photo album. I lean over to get a better look, and I see...

I see a younger Pops, and Kourin, studying right in our living room. Pops looks frustrated, and determined, pointing his finger at something in one of the many, many textbooks strewn over the table. And Kourin's trying to hide his smile, cleaning his glasses so that the frames and his hands would be in front of his tucked-in head. But his eyes betray him, they always do, and right now they're looking right into the camera.

"Your father learned a new language for me, Marisa," Mom says, in English, and in the photo I notice that Pops' mouth is open, just a tiny bit; I can picture him sitting right here, shaking the walls with his loud, gravelly, horribly-butchered Rs and Ls, and Mom sneaking a photo when he wouldn't notice. "Even when I was Outside, with Renko, I hadn't spoken English in years. And your father, he learned it, so I wouldn't be so homesick. He even learned how to say my name right, after a while. He made me correct him every time he butchered it. And on every attempt, Marisa, your father was so serious about it. It was a grand occasion when he finally got it right, more important than gods descending the earth.

"I still remember the first time he said it. It was a rainy day, just like this. I was crying, because I couldn't go back - back Outside, back to Renko. It had been months, and I was building a life here, with friends and a job, and...and I didn't know if that was what I wanted. It didn't feel...right, after what Renko asked, after what I'd promised her. And your father... he marched up to me and pulled me into a hug, and I cried in his arms. He felt so warm, and safe. And he said, while I was bawling, 'Maribel. I'm sorry. I'm so, so sorry.'" There's a melancholy smile on Mom's face as she talks, and I can't help but think she really needs a hug.

So I hug her. What kind of daughter would I be, otherwise? "Mom, you don't have to tell me if it still hurts."

But Mom just wraps her arms around me, and gently rubs my back. "No, Marisa, it's fine. I'm just... trying to find the words for your next question, is all."

My next question...damn, Mom's intuition really is good. "Why you chose Pops over Auntie Renko, right?"

One of Mom's arms lets go of me, and the ruffling of faded pages fills the quiet room. "Yes. It's complicated. But love always is. Now take a look, Marisa."

I turn from Mom to look at the photo album, one last time. This photo's special enough to get its own page, and compared to the slapdash way the other pictures were put in, this is lovingly, gently framed.

Kourin took this outside of our house. There I am, four years old, with a witching hat that's so big I could use it as a blanket. I'm sitting down with the pointy thing held against my chest, staring at the camera like nothing's wrong.

Mom, Pops, and Auntie Renko are all sitting behind me. Pops is kissing one cheek, and Auntie Renko's kissing the other. And Mom looks joyously, deliriously alive.

"My relationship with your father was... different, than my relationship with Renko. And, for an example, I guess: I knew I loved Renko the second our eyes met. With your father... it wasn't until after Renko left the second time, that I was sure."

Wait. Waaaaait, hold up. "Mom, you had me before you were sure you loved Dad. That's. What. What?"

And Mom giggles, and says something about needs, and suddenly I'm imagining her just riding Pops and oh, god whyyyyy. Why have you forsaken meeeeeee.

It is only after, when I finish destroying the part of my brain that governs memory gagging that Mom continues talking. "Yes, I married your father, and had you, before I was sure. I still loved Renko, remember, and I didn't want to stay in Gensokyo. And your father knew that when he proposed. Because it'd make things easier for me, if I didn't have to pay to rent a room. Being part of the Village would ease some of the tension around me. Those were the reasons he gave me, and the reasons that appealed to me, but for him...

"He loved me, Marisa, and that's a rare thing. He knew about Renko, about me wanting to leave, and he didn't care. He just... loved me, and wanted to be with me. And hearing your father, this kind, reliable man, sing to me for his proposal... I can still remember the lyrics. 'Even if, the only thing that could connect the two of us, was but simple necessity, and nothing more; I would still want to be by your side, our fingers, then and now, intertwined.' He told me he'd understand, if I found a way Out, and took it... and I thought to myself, 'Maribel, maybe you should marry him. Just to see what it might be like, if you had met him first..'

"And when Renko came, found a way to get me back Outside...that was when I realized. It had been maybe six, seven years since I last saw her, since she saw me. I was a mother now, a housewife - and Renko was a professor and a scientist, researching all these great and wonderful things. We loved each other, Marisa, but we didn't revolve around each other. Your father isn't a consolation prize, or a replacement for Renko; I fell in love with him on his own merits, and Renko understood that.

"And even then... even then, I wanted to go, Marisa. I didn't love your Auntie Renko any less since that day at the Shrine, and she had spent so much time trying to find me. She did what I would never be able to do; she used her powers to force her way in, but she didn't want to stay, after all that effort. I'm happy here, Marisa, where there's no pollution, or corruption, or even all that much pain. But Renko... she didn't want to find a perfect world. She wanted to make the world she was in... better."

I can tell Mom's starting to feel dry, so I help her to some more tea. She kisses my forehead before drinking cup after cup, and in the meantime... I sit there, and look, and wonder.

It takes a few moments for Mom to compose herself, but when she does, her voice isn't so shaky anymore. "I didn't go with your Auntie Renko, in the end. I would have loved to visit, but this was my home now, and Renko wasn't good enough to do more than a single round trip. I wanted to raise you here, where you were born, and... well, after she had left, and you went to sleep, I walked up to your father, and kissed him, and held him, and told him this: 'Even if, the only thing that could connect the two of us, was but lucky chance, and nothing more... I would still want to be by your side, your hand, as always, holding mine.'"

----------------------------

Mom made me promise to visit them again more often before she'd let me leave. Good thing too, since the rain had finally faded to a drizzle in the half-hour our argument took. It'll be an hour or two before my appointment with Byakuren, so that gives me some time to figure things out.

Things like, "What in the world do I take from Mom's experiences?"

Sitting in the rain isn't quite my style, so I end up hopping on my broom and doing a few laps above the wet and empty streets. There isn't anything to see, and the only sound is the pitter-patter of the gentle rain, so I'm free to just... think.

I think of Alice, and Akyuu, and Kosuzu and Reimu. They aren't like Pops or Auntie Renko, and I'm not Mom. Trying to put the people I... like, if not love, into templates like that is a disservice. We're our own people, and even if there are similarities, relationships aren't that formulaic.

I think of Mom, and how she both... moved on, from Auntie Renko, and didn't. About how she let herself want... and, if I remember right, about how she let herself get what she wanted. I think of Pops, about how he gave himself whole-heartedly to a woman who he wasn't sure would love him back, and I think of Auntie Renko, who literally moved Heaven and Earth to get Mom back... and then just walked away, to pursue better things.

I think... I think there's no real moral to Mom's story, not one that's applicable to me. And even though I didn't say a word about my love life, I think I have a better idea of what I want.

But business before pleasure, and right now I have to get ready for Byakuren. The rain's refreshed me from the stress of the morning, but I'm still feeling antsy about the whole ordeal. So, what should I do?

[ ]Ask Reimu to help negotiate. They always say to speak softly, and carry a big stick, right? Well, Reimu has the biggest stick around, and I'd feel safe with her at my back if things went south. Plus, it is her donation box, so she'd definitely put in some effort to keep things smooth.

[ ]Ask Kosuzu to help negotiate. Kosuzu's my landlord, so she should have some kind of say. Plus, interacting with peaceful youkai might be good for her, to show her that they're not all that bad. Poor thing's a bit too sheltered for my tastes...though that does mean she might get too freaked out and hamper my talk with Byakuren.

[ ]Ask Akyuu to help negotiate. Akyuu might not like me, but she has her fingers on the pulse of the Village. More than anyone else, she'd know what would cause a riot and what wouldn't. Plus, she's the closest thing the Village has to nobility, and that kind of political clout would help smooth things over. And...well, like Mima said, I'd like to show Akyuu my serious side.

[ ]Just head in early. Byakuren didn't say I had to go alone, but it might put her at ease if I do anyway. It'd show her that I trust her, and even if I don't have anyone else's wits to help me, I don't think Byakuren's the type of gal to screw over someone in a business deal. And, well... going without anybody would make it easier to scope the place out for blackmail, if it comes to it.
[x]Ask Kosuzu to help negotiate. Kosuzu's my landlord, so she should have some kind of say. Plus, interacting with peaceful youkai might be good for her, to show her that they're not all that bad. Poor thing's a bit too sheltered for my tastes...though that does mean she might get too freaked out and hamper my talk with Byakuren.
[x]Ask Kosuzu to help negotiate. Kosuzu's my landlord, so she should have some kind of say. Plus, interacting with peaceful youkai might be good for her, to show her that they're not all that bad. Poor thing's a bit too sheltered for my tastes...though that does mean she might get too freaked out and hamper my talk with Byakuren.
[X]Just head in early. Byakuren didn't say I had to go alone, but it might put her at ease if I do anyway. It'd show her that I trust her, and even if I don't have anyone else's wits to help me, I don't think Byakuren's the type of gal to screw over someone in a business deal. And, well... going without anybody would make it easier to scope the place out for blackmail, if it comes to it.
>>37286
[x]Ask Kosuzu to help negotiate. Kosuzu's my landlord, so she should have some kind of say. Plus, interacting with peaceful youkai might be good for her, to show her that they're not all that bad. Poor thing's a bit too sheltered for my tastes...though that does mean she might get too freaked out and hamper my talk with Byakuren.

Mommybel is COMPLICATED. Marisa will need to think things through and be confused like the poster. Kosuzu knows finance and should get out a bit more, Marisa can manage things assuming no one freaks out.
Marisa, that story just hit me in all the feels. All of them.

Just wanted to let you know that.

But there's one lesson I think is important to take away from Maribel's story-

It's that parents can always find a way to scar their children if they really want to.

Withholding a vote for now, because I want to see some discussion.
[x]Ask Kosuzu to help negotiate. Kosuzu's my landlord, so she should have some kind of say. Plus, interacting with peaceful youkai might be good for her, to show her that they're not all that bad. Poor thing's a bit too sheltered for my tastes...though that does mean she might get too freaked out and hamper my talk with Byakuren.

It looks like your good looks and personality were not the only things you've inherited from Mary.
[ ]Ask Akyuu to help negotiate. Akyuu might not like me, but she has her fingers on the pulse of the Village. More than anyone else, she'd know what would cause a riot and what wouldn't. Plus, she's the closest thing the Village has to nobility, and that kind of political clout would help smooth things over. And...well, like Mima said, I'd like to show Akyuu my serious side.

Show Byaku and Akyuu that we're serious business here.
"Sorry for the quietness, everyone. Getting through this update was a real hassle. Still trying to hit that twice a month update schedule, though!"

>>37166
>>37168

"That's. Ew. Ewwwwwww. I am so beyond uninterested in a mother/daughter threesome."

>>37177

"No, I'm not. Sorry, but I promised; after Byakuren, and after dinner, I'm heading over to the Pavilion."

>>37221

"What the Christ. And I don't mean you specifically, but all the posts you're quoting."

>>37243
>>37244

"Romance is complicated and passionate. There will always be shitstorms, no matter who or what's involved. We just gotta ride things out when they come, and disinfect all the shit once it's over."

>>37290
"You have no idea how relieved I am to hear you say Mom's complicated. Even if she scars me on a daily basis, she's Mom. My storytelling isn't the best, so I wanted to make sure she and Pops got their dues."

>>37291

"I'm hoping for some more discussion, too! Hearing you guys explain yourselves is part of why I like this thing we've got going on so much. And knowing the hows and whys of your thought processes helps me when it's time to make the choice and follow through."

>>37292

"You're gonna have to elaborate. What else did I inherit?"

>>37294

"If Akyuu wins, I'll try my best!"
Are we allowed to pick multiple options? Like bringing both Akyuu and Kosuzu for example?
>>37296

"I thought about it, but I don't think rolling on into Myouren Temple with a... a posse is such a great idea. And, well... I want to impress whoever I do bring with me, and that's trickier to pull off if I'm performing for a group."
>>37298

Good to know. Thanks.
>>37295
> "You're gonna have to elaborate. What else did I inherit?"

A complicated love life. Although, I think it's much more of your problem than anything genetic.
[X]Ask Akyuu to help negotiate. Akyuu might not like me, but she has her fingers on the pulse of the Village. More than anyone else, she'd know what would cause a riot and what wouldn't. Plus, she's the closest thing the Village has to nobility, and that kind of political clout would help smooth things over. And...well, like Mima said, I'd like to show Akyuu my serious side.
>>37295
>"No, I'm not. Sorry, but I promised; after Byakuren, and after dinner, I'm heading over to the Pavilion."
Well there goes any waning interest I might have had in this story.
[X]Ask Reimu to help negotiate. They always say to speak softly, and carry a big stick, right? Well, Reimu has the biggest stick around, and I'd feel safe with her at my back if things went south. Plus, it is her donation box, so she'd definitely put in some effort to keep things smooth.
[x]Just head in early. Byakuren didn't say I had to go alone, but it might put her at ease if I do anyway. It'd show her that I trust her, and even if I don't have anyone else's wits to help me, I don't think Byakuren's the type of gal to screw over someone in a business deal. And, well... going without anybody would make it easier to scope the place out for blackmail, if it comes to it.

Haven't given up on Byakuren route. And there's still the matter of that dildo...
>>37303
I SMELL COLOSSAL BUTTHURT. WHAT'S WRONG, CAN'T HANDLE A LITTLE ADVERSITY?
Well, it's nice to see that this is back on track.
I'm gonna have to brush up on earlier events before voting, because I've completely forgotten what we were doing (and that whole mess of people posting Alice-related shenanigans didn't help).
Even if I don't have time to vote before the next update, I just thought I'd let you know I'm still reading this story.
[X] Ask Akyuu to help negotiate. Akyuu might not like me, but she has her fingers on the pulse of the Village. More than anyone else, she'd know what would cause a riot and what wouldn't. Plus, she's the closest thing the Village has to nobility, and that kind of political clout would help smooth things over. And...well, like Mima said, I'd like to show Akyuu my serious side.

Kosuzu is great, but if Marisa's going to get any respect from Akyuu, it's a good idea to try for it now instead of letting her dislike fester.
>>37311

> Kosuzu is great, but if Marisa's going to get any respect from Akyuu, it's a good idea to try for it now instead of letting her dislike fester.

A good idea, but what about Akyuu's dislike of both Byakuren and her religion?: http://en.touhouwiki.net/wiki/Symposium_of_Post-mysticism/Byakuren_Hijiri
[X] Ask Akyuu to help negotiate. Akyuu might not like me, but she has her fingers on the pulse of the Village. More than anyone else, she'd know what would cause a riot and what wouldn't. Plus, she's the closest thing the Village has to nobility, and that kind of political clout would help smooth things over. And...well, like Mima said, I'd like to show Akyuu my serious side. 

>>33713

Better to let her know now, and ask for her help in handling things, imnstead of having her visit Kosuzu one day and gthe SUDDENLY YOUKAI.
[ ]Just head in early. Byakuren didn't say I had to go alone, but it might put her at ease if I do anyway. It'd show her that I trust her, and even if I don't have anyone else's wits to help me, I don't think Byakuren's the type of gal to screw over someone in a business deal. And, well... going without anybody would make it easier to scope the place out for blackmail, if it comes to it.
[x]Ask Kosuzu to help negotiate. Kosuzu's my landlord, so she should have some kind of say. Plus, interacting with peaceful youkai might be good for her, to show her that they're not all that bad. Poor thing's a bit too sheltered for my tastes...though that does mean she might get too freaked out and hamper my talk with Byakuren.

I think picking Akyuu will make talking with Byakuren a lot more difficult. They really don't get along and Akyuu will probably protest the entire point of the meeting.

I could easily be convinced to change my vote to going in by ourselves, as the only reason I picked this option is because Kosuzu deserves to know what we're doing and interacting with Byakuren might do her some good.
[ ]Just head in early. Byakuren didn't say I had to go alone, but it might put her at ease if I do anyway. It'd show her that I trust her, and even if I don't have anyone else's wits to help me, I don't think Byakuren's the type of gal to screw over someone in a business deal. And, well... going without anybody would make it easier to scope the place out for blackmail, if it comes to it.
Regular reader, irregular voter here. Sorry about that last part. I'll try to vote often from now on.

[x]Ask Reimu to help negotiate. They always say to speak softly, and carry a big stick, right? Well, Reimu has the biggest stick around, and I'd feel safe with her at my back if things went south. Plus, it is her donation box, so she'd definitely put in some effort to keep things smooth.
Byakuren as all the reasons of the world to play nice with Reimu.
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37321
"That's right, Votes close in one day, give or take a couple hours! That means >>37291 >>37310 better get your votes ready, as well as the rest of you who are still thinking about a choice!"


>>37300

"That's probably true, but someone smarter could probably do some more observations and experiments to try and find out what traits in my lineage correlates to more harem antics.

My money's on the exotic color-changing eyes and the blond hair."

>>37303

"That's fair enough, and thanks for reading this far; hope you got some enjoyment from it, though. But, if you do happen to see this, do you mind telling me what about visiting Alice broke your camel's back?"

>>37309

"Hey, don't be rude! >37307 might have legitimate grievances here. At least wait to hear his explanation before you start shouting and slurring."

>>37311
>>37313
>>37314
>>37317

"Bringing Akyuu is definitely the high risk, high reward option. And I'm all about those - go big or go home, they always say!

"More seriously, I think you guys are giving Akyuu a bit of a bad shake. Yes, it's true that she doesn't like Byakuren, but her reasons are probably the same as Kosuzu's dislike for youkai - it's culturally ingrained, and people abhor the unknown. If exposing Kosuzu to Myouren Temple might help her open up, immersing Akyuu could do help too.

"Above all else, Akyuu is a professional. Her goal is to record history, and a negotiation on this scale has never been done before in the Village. Worse comes to worst, she'll just yell at me before and after the negotiations, and silently record during.

"And, trying to speak objectively here... I am hella biased towards Byakuren. Pops always taught me to be careful when I'm like that, because it means I'm more likely to let things slide that'll hurt me in the long run. All of the girls have their own interests than mine, so they might be able to pull me back if I fall for Byakuren's beauty charisma tits dastardly tricks.

"'Course, this is Byakuren, the Holy Buddhist Nun and Youkai Jesus we're talking about here, and after the shitstorm that was her life, maybe she deserves the benefit of the doubt. Hell, even if she doesn't deserve it, it wouldn't be a bad idea to give it to her. Trust is a two way street, and... I think it would feel nice, to be the first person since her brother to give her unconditional faith.

"Each choices has its ups and downs - which is why you guys are here."

>>37320

"Hiya! Glad you decided to pop in! Hope you've been enjoying the wild ride - and apologies for the technical difficulties."
>>37321

> Trust is a two way street, and... I think it would feel nice, to be the first person since her brother to give her unconditional faith.

In that case, here's my vote:

[x] Just head in early. Byakuren didn't say I had to go alone, but it might put her at ease if I do anyway. It'd show her that I trust her, and even if I don't have anyone else's wits to help me, I don't think Byakuren's the type of gal to screw over someone in a business deal. And, well... going without anybody would make it easier to scope the place out for blackmail, if it comes to it.

I'm looking forward to seeing you two talk shop.
[x]Ask Kosuzu to help negotiate. Kosuzu's my landlord, so she should have some kind of say. Plus, interacting with peaceful youkai might be good for her, to show her that they're not all that bad. Poor thing's a bit too sheltered for my tastes...though that does mean she might get too freaked out and hamper my talk with Byakuren.

Landlord man.

Landlord.

Gotta respect the Landlady.
>>37321
>do you mind telling me what about visiting Alice broke your camel's back?
As I've stated previously, Marisa as depicted prior to >>37089 was strong, independent, and willful.
Now she's behaving like a spineless, needy schoolgirl, effectively begging Alice to take her back when it was Alice who destroyed the relationship in the first place.

Other readers claim that 'THIS IS OP'S STORY THEY CAN WRITE WHATEVER THEY WANT' and while that is true, it doesn't mean that I will consider what you write to be worth my time to read.
>>37324

"That's... huh? But I spent, like, that entire argument bitching out Alice, and Alice was the one who begged me to visit her at work for some...nefariously defined, probably dumb reason.

Do you mind finding a few quotes from that... I dunno what to call it, scene? From that scene, to support yourself? Because I might be a bit disoriented from the argument and the talk with Mom, but I'm not seeing it."
>>37325
>And Alice didn't even try. Doesn't even try. To defend herself, to apologize, to salvage our relationship.
>And how could I refuse her, when she phrases it like that?
And then there's the whole going to see her AT ALL thing. Which you misled me into voting for.
Lying by omission is still lying.

I'm aware that I'm being extremely critical, but that's because, prior to that revelation, I considered this to be an extremely excellent story. Then you changed the entire definition of the main character, and caused me to regret ever reading a single word.

However, you shouldn't take my opinion as anything more than angry ranting; I do not consider this a bad story, and I do not consider you a bad writer. I simply have no desire to continue to participate in this story given the decisions you, as the writer, are making.
[X]Just head in early. Byakuren didn't say I had to go alone, but it might put her at ease if I do anyway. It'd show her that I trust her, and even if I don't have anyone else's wits to help me, I don't think Byakuren's the type of gal to screw over someone in a business deal. And, well... going without anybody would make it easier to scope the place out for blackmail, if it comes to it.

I am very much in favor of having Kosuzu help but... if something's worth doing, it's worth doing yourself.
>>37324
>>37326

For what it's worth, I'm pretty sure Marisa isn't begging for Alice to break her back but is probably looking to get some closure on a relationship that was very good but ended on a sudden and decidedly sour note, which is understandable.

Also you said you're not trying to say this is a bad story or has a bad author, but your word choice and phrasing are very aggressive and perhaps a touch insulting, at least to my social sensibilities.

[ ]Ask Kosuzu to help negotiate. Kosuzu's my landlord, so she should have some kind of say. Plus, interacting with peaceful youkai might be good for her, to show her that they're not all that bad. Poor thing's a bit too sheltered for my tastes...though that does mean she might get too freaked out and hamper my talk with Byakuren.
>>37290
After thought, changing my vote here to [x]Akyuu as Marisa and Akyuu bitching at each other should be fun.
>>37326
>A sentimental woman is unable to refuse a request from her best friend and former girlfriend
>What is this shit, so fake, I'm not going to vote anymore.
>Visit Alice or don't?
>It was a misleading choice.
Jesus Christ stop posting.

I'd understand if you had a single decent point, or incited discussion but you're doing neither. You're whining and have been doing so for your last 5 posts. And you don't even have the decency of being polite.

If you regret reading, then stop doing so and leave already.
>>37329
>your word choice and phrasing are very aggressive and perhaps a touch insulting
That's because I'm angry, and because I'm a firm believer in the concept of telling people when they fuck up, so that they stop fucking up. Eventually.
Again, this is just my opinion. Marisa is free to simply ignore my complaints, same as anyone else.
>>37331
>Visit Alice or don't?
>It was a misleading choice.

Let's take a look at the 'don't' option, shall we?
>[ ]Move on. We broke up for a reason. It was mutual, and simple and clean.
OOPS THAT'S TOTALLY WRONG AND BASICALLY A LIE.
>[ ]Move on. We broke up because she's a selfish bitch. It was one-sided, unexpected and messy.
THERE THAT'S MUCH MORE ACCURATE ISN'T IT? It also would have won the vote, by a landslide.

Also, fuck you. I was asked for my opinion and I gave it.
>>37334
And now that we have your opinion, it's revealed to be a stupid one grounded in not understanding a lick about the story's format and not understanding how people work, because instead you think people/characters are one note and they can't have internally conflicting opinions that are at odds to how they generally present themselves.
[x] Ask Akyuu to help negotiate. Akyuu might not like me, but she has her fingers on the pulse of the Village. More than anyone else, she'd know what would cause a riot and what wouldn't. Plus, she's the closest thing the Village has to nobility, and that kind of political clout would help smooth things over. And...well, like Mima said, I'd like to show Akyuu my serious side.
Okay, finally caught up.

[x]Just head in early.

Probably better to go it solo right now. If there's dirty dealings, they'll be sniffed out somewhere.
[x] Ask Akyuu to help negotiate. Akyuu might not like me, but she has her fingers on the pulse of the Village. More than anyone else, she'd know what would cause a riot and what wouldn't. Plus, she's the closest thing the Village has to nobility, and that kind of political clout would help smooth things over. And...well, like Mima said, I'd like to show Akyuu my serious side.
"And that's all, folks! Thanks for participating!

Looks like...oh, wow. I'm begging Akyuu for help? This'll be rough."
>>37344

Godspeed, Marisa. I have no idea how you'll pull this one off.
"Forgot to mention, but this update might take a while. Stuff's going down in two days, so."

>>37345

"Between you and me? If you have any ideas, I'd be glad to hear them."
>>37346

Um, well... you said that you wanted to show her your serious side, right? So, just ask her straight out for help. When she inevitably asks what the hell you're thinking, just be clear that you think she'd be a big help in negotiations. Given that Kosuzu is related, she should come along just to make sure you don't do anything incredibly horrible (from her perspective). The rest is just professionalism on your part. You have a chance to impress her; take it with both hands.

Good luck.
> "Between you and me? If you have any ideas, I'd be glad to hear them."

For Akyuu:

• Reassure Akyuu that a) she trusted you to be the moderator for the Symposium and b) you were willing to voice disagreement with Byakuren during said Symposium.

• If she's worried about being held for ransom or some such the let her know that as an incident resolver that you have a very particular set of skills, skills that make you a nightmare to misbehaving youkai.

For Byakuren:

• Be apologetic and give her reasons for bringing Akyuu that she'd want to hear: you wanted to do away with festering resentment, you want to foster peaceful interracial relations, and so forth. Anything as long as you're not technically lying.

• When, not if, one of the Myoren youkai decides to get in Akyuu's face then let Byakuren deal with it rather than undermine her authority. However, do encourage said youkai to voice her concern in a polite manner.

In short, be prepared to be a moderator again and don't expect the meeting to stay on topic.
>>37324
>>37326
>>37334
Even if you have good points or legitimately want to give the writer pointers, please find better phrasing and choice of words. Even with you admitting to the fact that you were furious and your opinion is only your own, you came across as ranting and insufferable, when most of your intentions could have been said in a much more productive manner. Even with the view that the writer withheld info, constructive criticism is better than screaming that he lied.

As for Marisa's current problem, I say we be the best mediator we can be. Akyuu prolly has good business sense and can be a fair politician, so simply tell her we need her expertise, and appeal to her better nature as need be. With Byakuren, just play up the equality angle, and be a proper guest. If we see any chances to improve our lot, take it, but otherwise be the graceful ambassador I know (hope) we can be.
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37383
"Hey, guys! Sorry for the delay - new years shenanigans are always a bitch to get through. I don't wanna leave you guys pining until the end of the month, though, so here's the first half of the update!"

----------

[X] Ask Akyuu to help negotiate. Akyuu might not like me, but she has her fingers on the pulse of the Village. More than anyone else, she'd know what would cause a riot and what wouldn't. Plus, she's the closest thing the Village has to nobility, and that kind of political clout would help smooth things over. And...well, like Mima said, I'd like to show Akyuu my serious side.

You don't need laws or armies to lead. You just need respect. If people think you have a good head on your shoulders, and you're reasonably charismatic, then they'll be willing to listen to you. Which is why, in addition to being historians and record keepers, Akyuu's family are also mediators-for-hire.

Which is a surprisingly lucrative profession. Disputes are a part of life, and the Hiedas make a pretty penny making sure arguments are taken care of efficiently and fairly.

But the point of all that rambling is - while the Village is filled with tiny houses, the Hiedas have an entire mansion. We're talking three stories, a courtyard, the works. I've never seen a fancier place... but then again, it's not like I have a particularly large sample size.

The upshot of the Hiedas owning a kickin' sweet pad is that their mansion doubles as a sort of... community center, for the Village. Keine borrows a side wing for her school, and other rooms can be rented out by pretty much anyone. Even the courtyard's up for rent - the streets have room for stalls and the like, but some people prefer to stake out a place in the Hieda courtyard, since the entire place gives it more of a... high class feel.

Not that there's a lot of foot traffic today. Or business in general - today's a weekend, so Keine's not teaching anybody, and no one ever opens a stall during a rainy day. While normally this unofficial town square would be teeming with life, right now everything is nice and serene. The only sound comes from the drizzling rain, dancing on the breeze and pitter-pattering off the gravel.

So when I knock on the front door, the loud rapping of my knuckles on wood ruins the atmosphere with an embarrassing amount of noise. I can't but feel a bit foolish right now, as the loud knocks echo through my ears. Pops always taught me the importance of looking good for business meetings, and right now I can't help but judge myself: soaked to the bone, muddy legs and boots, dirty, matted hair...

Cripes, Alice really did a number on me... and in retrospect, I'm kinda shocked that Mom didn't say anything about how I look. No time to pretty myself up though, because before I get the chance to cast anything -

Kamishirasawa Keine, head teacher of the Village's only school, opens the door. And when your old school teacher's surprise turns into pure, genuine worry, you start feeling self-concious. Just a tad. It's instinctual, I swear!

"...Marisa?" Keine's sad frown doesn't fit on her face - but frowns on pretty women never do. "Are you alright?"

In a way, maybe it's a good thing that I look like such a mess. My hair's all over my face, and the brim of my hat's kinda lidded down from all the moisture... which means I'm free to ogle my old teacher.

Keine usually wears this fancy, but frumpy, schoolteacher's dress. It's blue and white and terribly poofy, and it makes Keine look kinda... formless. But she's not wearing that today. instead, Keine has on this white and soft looking ribbed sweater, which looks a lot warmer than I'm feeling.

Seeing Keine in casual wear is kinda... dazzling. The sweater is a lot more flattering than her dress, and I can see just how... shapely, my old teacher is. She just looks so soft, and squishy, and huggable, that I almost can't resist staring.

But business before pleasure! I shake my head to clear out my thoughts - and the water from my hair. Keine's quick enough on the draw to block with her umbrella, though, so all is well~

"Uhm - good afternoon, Miss Keine! I wanted to ask for Lady Akyuu's assistance in a personal matter." Always speak politely to your elders, people! It'll save you so much headache.

Keine gives out that warm, proud smile of hers, and my young girl's heart is aflutter all over again. "Are you referring to your own little school, Marisa? Maybe I should be worried - between you and your mother, I'd be out of a job."

"Oh, please. If we had any idea of what we were doing, we'd hire you first thing. Mom had a handful dealing with me - I have a handful dealing me with me. Trying to keep twenty or thirty kids focused is beyond me." Babysitting duty? The worst.

But a familiar voice rings out from the hallway, and cuts our conversation off a bit early. "Kamishirasawa, who is it?" Akyuu calls out, from what I imagine to be her innermost domain.

Keine turns to call out over her shoulder, which does some amazing things to her body and terrible things to my train of thought. "It's Marisa. She wants your help with something."

"Which Mar - oh, who am I kidding. Let her in. And keep yourself warm!"

Keine helplessly shrugs, but for once I pay more attention to the amused smile pulling at her lips than anything else. She steps aside to let me in, and we wave silent goodbyes as she lets herself out into the rain.

Now that I'm safe from the weather, I can afford the time to make myself presentable. No self-respecting witch goes without an assortment of cleanup spells. A half minute later, my clothing's dry and my skin is a hearty pink. Hair's still a terrible mess, though- even with magic, getting all these knots untangled is a bitch.

It's a good thing Akyuu's hallways are so long; I finish my prep work just as I enter her... foyer, I guess? The jargon for huge buildings escapes me. Regardless, it's a large and empty room, with a small meeting table right in the middle. It even comes complete with flower arrangement and floor cushions for resting! So this, I obviously ignore, and instead walk straight over to Akyuu's tiny floor-desk, where she's... going over her family budget?

It takes me a while to process the paperwork, since I am reading upside down, but I hadn't realized just how loaded Akyuu was. Seriously, she's throwing around money like it's nothing, considering how much cash she's investing. Restruants, carpenters... hell, she's even investing in a haberdashery. That makes absolutely no sense, what would a haberdashery use the investment money for? Higher quality buttons? At some point you can't really make a business model any better.

...But maybe Akyuu doesn't know that.

"Uhm, Akyuu? You might want to cut back on your investing next month."

It's not like I shouted or anything, but the dulcet tones of my voice still make her jump like a rabbit. "W-what!?" Akyuu squeaks out, her face pale as a sheet.

...A bit over the top, but I'd probably get like this too, if some schmuck was about to blow my mind. regarding my livelihood. "You're overinvesting, Akyuu. Like, see here?" I reach over to grab her hand, guiding those slender fingers to her accounts. "A haberdashery is complete chump change. The place sells needles, buttons - small knick knacks. There's no room for growth; whoever you're investing in won't expand his shop, since it's a waste of space. Securing higher quality goods is also pointless, because the difference between a cheap needle and a fine one is miniscule. He's probably pocketing a slice of the cash for an early payday, and he'll just keep the rest to give back to you."

Akyuu's heartbeat is starting to slow down, thankfully; if it were pumping any faster, she'd probably have a heart attack. She's already gonna kick the bucket early, no need to stress her out. It takes her a moment to breathe, but when she does, it's a gentle sigh. "So long as he makes his payments on time, what does it matter?"

And she's right. Personal loans, commercial investments - so long as payments are made, Akyuu's getting money off the interest. But it's a matter of principles, damn it. "Because it looks inelegant on your budget, for one. For two, it breeds bad habits; you could mess up and donate to somone who won't pay you back. And lastly, because you could be investing in places that could use the money. There's this one place Reimu and I like to go, the Amber Teahouse, run by this sweet girl. Tiny storefront, only serves a couple different brews. And yes I am aware this is me gushing about my favorite places, but it's those kinds of businesses you want to invest in."

I end up moving her hand up a few lines up, drawing her attention to a small food-preservation place that's criminally underfunded. "A storefront like this? Much more worth your while. Food preservation's always going to be an issue, since we don't have fancy chemicals or fridges like the Outside. Your haberdashery is going to use your investment for nothing. A place like this can invest in better earthenware for jugging, or even a small warehouse for food storage. Your money's more likely to be wisely spent, and you'd also be contributing to a business that'll help the community. Stuff like that reflects better on you, and you can leverage that kind of reputation into securing better interest rates."

It's ony when I notice Akyuu's... almost amused look, that I realize I'm ranting. "Kirisame, how do you know so much about investing? I thought your passion was magic, not economics."

I have the decency to blush. No, scratch that. I have the decency to fake a faint, miniscule blush with the power of magic. I'm not embarrased of my knowledge at all! Just, uh... my habit of showboating. "Well, Pops wanted me to take over the shop. First rule of running a business - always know where your money's going. Doesn't your interview process go through that? 'Oh, Mister So-and-So, what will you be using my money for?'"

I don't think I've ever seen Akyuu so off guard before. She blushes bright red, looking down and away so that her bangs cover her eyes. "That's, uhm... we do, but whenever I was...in such a meeting, I rather... skimmed, if you will. I always believed that they would buy extra equipment, or expand, things of that nature.'"

The great Lady Hieda not following proper procedure? This was precious - but antagonizing her would do me fuck all. "Well, that's generally true, but the devil's in the details. Your ancestors - descendents? Past self? Well, they put in that kind of process for money-lending for a reason. And if you ever need it, I could always go more in depth for ya."

"...My thanks, then, Kirisame. I suppose one good turn deserves another." I can feel Akyuu repressing a drawn out sigh as I sit back down to face her. A part of me feels bad for her - it's only been a day since we had our little talk, but the woman before me looks... exhausted, plain and simple. And not the happy, 'I've just accomplished my goals and also impressed a pretty girl' kind of exhaustion.

"So. As you yourself said, you're a merchant's daughter... and I daresay that your mouth is more well-known than your penchant for explosives. So, Kirisame Marisa..." She leans forward to look at me, her hands steepled together in methodical thought. "Why do you need me to mediate?"

And this is where things get complicated.

"Because I'm brokering a deal with Hijiri Byakuren, and I'd like some backup."

It's a small mercy that lightning and thunder don't punctuate my ominouscompletely innocuous statement. But only a small one, because Akyuu is like two seconds from kicking me out of her house. "...And this deal has to do with your library, I imagine?" She doesn't actually snarl at me, but the way her lips are curling is giving me bad thoughts.

"Yup," I say, not even bothering to try to get more words in. Because sure enough, Akyuu's arguments are all ready to fire.

"Hijiri Byakuren, if you'll recall, was literally sealed in Hell. Her religious beliefs are a joke, and not even her followers, well, follow them. What could she possibly offer you?"

Well. At least this time she's not screaming. But just like before, I have to stay rational, if not entirely logical. I don't... I don't need Akyuu to agree, I just have to get her to understand.

"She was sealed on false charges. Reimu and I hashed things out with her, remember? And her religion doesn't really matter in this case; Byakuren wants to clean up her image some, and what she's offering to do that will help Kosuzu and me."

"Do enlighten me as to how this benefits Kosuzu at all, Kirisame." Akyuu doesn't let up an inch, and I can see her small body tensing for a long fight. Her pale skin's all flushed with hot blood, and she looks like she'll probably try to sock me one if things get heated.

Well. More heated, at any rate. I was feeling the pressure, too; diplomacy's exhausting. I can kinda see why Akyuu's willing to skim through those investment interviews.

"Kosuzu needs more experience with youkai. Even if I stop teaching her, she's still going to collect those books of hers, and even if you somehow talk her out of that she lives in Gensokyo. Trying to keep her away from things 'not-human' is going to end in tears."

Akyuu's scoffs, but scoffing's not screaming or any other kind of overt maliciousness, so I'll call that a win. "So I'm to trust you to keep her safe? I've heard tales of your fights, Kirisame, and you are no Hakurei Maiden. You return victorious, but also in tatters and bruises. She wins flawlessly, and without blowing up the countryside in the process."

"Which means I know exactly how difficult things can get in a fight, and that I have a better idea of what Kosuzu can handle." I wait a moment to allow Akyuu a rebuttal, but she's not forthcoming. More chances to press on for me. "And besides, I'm not the only one protecting her - why do you think I'm asking you to help?"

"To show off?"

... Akyuu's astute. And I can't really... deny her argument. It would have been a nice feather in my cap, especially with her.

But... "If I was only interested in that, Akyuu, I would have brought Kosuzu with me.

"No, it's because you are a thousand times better at politics than I am. I'm a dilettante - which means I know just enough to realize I'm about to mess with a powder keg. But you? You know how to stop the keg from blowing up in my face, you know how to protect me and the rest of the Village if the whole thing explodes, and worse comes to worst? You know how to clean up the mess and patch up the wounds." I look right in Akyuu's eyes, desperately hoping she can see the sincerity in mine. "I can take care of Kosuzu if things get physical. You can stop things from going that far - and if things play out nice, you can make sure it stays that way."

"And if I brought up the fact that she could go to Reimu or the Taoists instead?" Akyuu gamely counters. "They would easily catch her interest and also sidestep this whole... commitment, with Myouren Temple."

"Well, Reimu is with Kosuzu because of me. Once we get through basic magic Reimu and I could easily teach her some bullet play and warding. As for the Taoists..." I shrug. "They're human. Weird, quasi-immortal humans, but human."

"And that's not particularly conductive to helping Kosuzu get used to youkai." Akyuu concludes, letting out a tired sigh as she begins to rub her temples.

My throat is uncomfortably dry when I finish talking, and I end up leaning back from Akyuu to sit on my cushion like a regular person. Akyuu's mulling things over as I conjure up some water to drink, and she waits for me to finish my cup before she says a word.

When I look at her...she doesn't seem relaxed, but she doesn't look like the world's on her shoulders. Akyuu just looks... ready.

My new partner in crime gets up from her desk, still shaking her head at what I've managed to talk her into. "Has anyone ever told you you talk too much, Marisa?" I can still feel the hints of malice from Akyuu's words... and I wouldn't have it any other way. There are things to be said for spiteful young women.

"Just imagine what else I can do with my tongue," I tease, and I only get a punch to the arm for my troubles.
>>37383
Welcome back, Marisa. Waiting warmly for the second half of the update.
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Though empty of people, the streets are neither silent nor still - the wind's howling in full force, rattling the doors and windows of all the buildings we pass by. It makes for a mind-numbing scene as Akyuu and I walk through the soaked streets - well, Akyuu's walking. I'm gliding; navigating through mud is a pain, as my historian's grunts of effort and mud-marred frowns can attest to.

I'm not sure how Akyuu still manages to look dignified even while she's getting her boots unstuck. There's a certain... je ne sais quoi about her, something that makes her most banal actions seem... prideful. Even when she stumbles through the mud and her face and clothes get dirtied... I don't think I could laugh at her. It wouldn't feel right.

All the same, going over to help her up feels wrong too. I could offer Akyuu a spell to help her balance on the mud. Hell, if she was adamant against magic, I could even just give her a piggyback ride. Akyuu puts up a strong front, but her lineage is predisposed to illness - and considering her status, I'd probably get yelled at if I let such a cute girl suffer through such shitty weather.

It's funny in a way. I'd absolutely push Reimu into the muck if it was her. And if it was Kosuzu... I'd probably baby her, despite myself. You know, make sure she has the spells to brush off the worst of things and even come out of it smelling like roses.

And I mean that literally - perfumes are far too expensive, and a quick spell to change your scent is a hundred times easier.

Ah, I'm digressing again. The point is... Akyuu doesn't have fire in her eyes. Not a lick of vibrant flame nor glorious heat. But, even without the fire, there's... a passion there. A rock-solid surety that I could only ever hope to ape.

Because Akyuu wears her responsibilities like an impenetrable armor. Insults are but the stifling breeze, and slanderers are as empty air. She'd suffer through any number of indignities, big or small, and keep going until she's finished the job.

I can't do that. Hell, Reimu can't do that. Life's unfair, and it's the prerogative of people with duties and responsibilities to bitch and moan. Because sometimes things get a bit too much, and people need some sort of stress relief, even if it's just complaining about life.

Akyuu has that right. She doesn't use it. Her pride... her pride would never let her pride get in the way.

And as I notice Akyuu staring at me with such an unamused look, I finally realize that I get lost in thought way too much.

"We're wasting time, Marisa," she coolly reminds me once she sees I'm paying attention. And I fall in love just a bit more.

I can't tell if the burning on my cheeks is from embarrassment at getting called out or the realization that I'm actually falling for this prickly young girl - but there's no embarrassment in owning up to my mistakes.

"Yeah, sorry. I was - I was thinking about you." And I realize, once again, that I'm a bit of a blabbermouth. Akyuu doesn't quite recoil from me, but she does... flinch a bit, taking a step back.

Her next words are cautious... and curious. "What about me?"

I can only respond with more of the truth. I... owe it to her, I guess. "Just thinking about how amazing you were."

And Akyuu gives me that 'Really? Really,' look that is universal amongst all women and just rolls on like it ain't no thing. I'm almost disappointed - after our arguments, I was hoping for more of a reaction.

She does mutter something to herself... but I can't make out the emotion behind them.

"Never thought someone like you would bother with someone like me."

-------------------------------

Myouren Temple was only built recently - and the Village, in contrast, has been here for maybe, oh, two hundred years? The downshot of all of this is that it takes a long ass time to walk from the center of the Village, where Akyuu's house is, to the outskirts. I couldn't tell you the actual distance, but that's more me not caring than it actually being uncalculable.

The upshot is that Myouren Temple has a ton of land to play with. It isn't quite an acre - not even half, really - but it certainly feels large. The compound's bordered with a gorgeous, stone-carved fence, polished enough to gleam in sunnier weather. At the entrance, you can see everything: the smooth stone staircase to the temple itself, the lilies that paint the grounds in a whirlwind of color - and the graveyard, looming at the end of a well beaten path.

The entire place feels incredibly spacious - and, in a word, peaceful. Maybe it's the rain, but...

Well, a lot of people complain about the rowdiness of the place. Youkai being incarnations of animal instinct and desire, said complaints usually ring true - even Byakuren didn't deny them during the Symposium. So seeing youkai act normal and calm and just shooting the breeze feels weird.

Now, two pretty girls gawking gets peoples' attention, but the temple-goers keep their distance from us. Or maybe just me, I suppose. Because some poor girl with dog ears and a broom is hesitantly walking towards us - there's barely veiled panic in her eyes, and she's shaking all over. And when I shoot her a ladykiller's smile, she drops to a dead faint. "Oh, come on, I'm not that bad."

I can't say that Akyuu's next line was a snark, but only because those require sarcasm. Or, you know, emotion in general. "Marisa, you looked like you were about to kidnap and eat her."

"Well, yeah, but not that kind of eating." It's a lucky thing that the rain isn't pouring anymore - otherwise the poor girl would be soaked to the brim. As is, Akyuu just keeps on walking towards the temple, wheras I pick up the dog-youkai and dry her off with a spell or two.

"Come now, Marisa - we've no time to waste."

"Yeah, yeah, just give me a sec to drop her off somewhere." Luckily for me, a fancy temple like this has more than a few benches for contemplation of the universe and such, so it's a cinch to rest my fainted fellow's forlorn fbody on a cool wooden bench and enchant her so she won't catch a cold.

Akyuu's already by the front doors by the time I finish rushing up the stairs. I can't help but admire how much Byakuren's magicked the wazoo out of the place - a couple friction charms to keep people from slipping is just so... her. Simple. And ungodly helpful.

The acoustics inside the temple are enhanced with magic too - we can hear Byakuren's smooth, soft voice ringing out from deeper inside. Her chanting almost... serenades us as we take off our footwear and look around.

The interior is wide and spacious, with an altar pressed to the back wall for - oh, who knows. What I do know is that there's a bronze statue of the Buddha right in front and a few other guys flanking his sides. In front of them sits a large, black ash container for incense - and it definitely looks higher quality than the one in Reimu's place. The paint's not flaking, for one, nor does it look particularly charred. Final verdict? Well-loved, and well-used - there's three sticks of incense lit in the thing, the sweet-smelling smoke swirling around the hall.

But, though there are cushions and prayer books resting in neat rows, Byakuren herself isn't here.

So, naturally, we wander. It takes a bit to work through the echoing of her voice, but we find Byakuren's... personal meditation chambers, I suppose? It's fairly secluded since it's situated at the very back end of Myouren Temple, and even the plain, ordinary hallway leading up to it has a touch of the divine in its bones.

Akyuu raps her knuckles against the double doors - but, whether Byakuren's straight up ignoring us or can't hear us over the sound of her own voice, there's no response.

So, naturally, I kick the door open.

And my first coherent thought as I gaze upon the room is that I'm definitely going to the Buddhist Hell for this.

There are no windows nor lanterns to cast light in - because it is unneeded. Byakuren's dazzling, shining with an inner glow, bright enough to light the room on her lonesome. The grey stone, and even the flower-vines twined around the pillars, seem pure and golden in the monk's presence. Like just being near her makes everything better.

Everything. Even my base, lustful soul. Even Akyuu's angry, hateful heart. Even the pool of muck and sin that stood betwixt the three of us.

Byakuren - well, she actually looks like a monk now, with a serene smile on her lips, and her body garbed in simple orange robes. There must have been splashing earlier since her entire front's soaked, but the trailing droplets on her face and clothes don't seem to bother her a bit.

It... bothers me, though. Without any sun or flame to keep the temperature up, everything feels... chilly. I'm almost shaking in my boots, and I'm clenching my teeth so that I won't chatter. Akyuu's still by my side, and out of the corners of my eye I can see her eyes widen and her cheeks tint with red. We've noticed the same thing, then.

Hijiri Byakuren gives no sign of discomfort - but the body is divorced from the mind. We can see Byakuren's face flush with a pretty pink as she meditates, and the water's made the front of her robes cling to her skin, outlining those full, yummy breasts of hers. The billowing, conservative robes have utterly failed in their duty, as we stare even at the imprint of her nipples, erect from the cold.

Her eyes are closed and her words are loud... and though her voice is strong enough to make ripples in the water, her chanting can't draw me away from her. Not for a second.

Everything is divine and clean, and I feel so terribly dirty.

A pulse of magic brings me back to coherence, and my eyes are drawn to Byakuren's pretty, pretty hands. They're clasped and palm-up in her lap, and I can feel the purple-haired monk pour all of her effort into... something. The tone and speed of her voice never changes, and her face is as still and soft as a marble statue, but...

But I don't think it's just spring-water that's trailing down her face, and the way her breasts jiggle, full and soft, makes it clear just how heavy she's breathing.

There's no flash of light or sudden crescendo of noise or anything so... gaudy. In an instant, her hands are empty - in the next, they cradle the most beautiful pearl I've ever seen. And, without a care in the world, Byakuren lets it slip from her hands.

The pearl tumbles off her lap and into the water. And as it sinks, the water... clears.

As Byakuren's purity falls, the mud around it just - evaporates. Slowly but surely, the pollutants vanish, removing a stench that I hadn't noticed from the air. And as the filth washes away, the water becomes - more than clean. It sparkles and shimmers under Byakuren's light, and white lotuses and lilies bloom from nonexistent seeds.

I could take a drop of water from this pool and revive a fire-ravaged forest.

I could take a drop of water from this pool and bring the dead back to life.

Byakuren steps into the pool as though it were nothing - and it's not, because she's purer and cleaner than the waters themselves. She pays no attention to me or Akyuu while she bends down to pick up the pearl and we're too transfixed to move.

Water trickles from her palm, and the pearl gleams under her care. With practiced ease, she wraps her fingers around it -

One breath, and her pearl glows through the cracks of her fist. Another, and the pearl is gone. She lets out a heavy sigh as she finishes her meditation, wringing the water from her robes with a spell and a flick of her wrist.

But it's only when she smiles that she takes my breath away.

"Good afternoon, Marisa. Lady Akyuu. I'm terribly sorry for making you wait - shall we have lunch?"

I have to admit, I'm a bit relieved when Akyuu's at a loss for words. It means mine's not the only breath the pretty monk's stole.

--------------------------------

Lunch... lunch is a daze for me. I don't eat much, considering the whole two breakfasts thing, but I still remember the temple's food tasting... pretty good. Vegetarian, of course, but whoever's on cooking duty is doing a fine job. Akyuu's pleased as a peach, too - the only reason her bowl's not licked clean is because she has manners. I, well... I don't.

"Miss Hijiri, that was... quite delicious." Even after an half an hour or so to collect her thoughts, Akyuu's still at a loss for words. "Where do you buy your produce?"

Byakuren blushes a little as she places her own bowl and chopsticks back on the table. "I... ah, I actually have you to thank for that, Lady Hieda."

"...how so?"

"Because you opened my eyes at the Symposium." It... amazes me just how earnest Byakuren looks. You'd need a vise and needles to get me to ever admit to a fuck-up. "I had not known that my disciples were breaking their vows - I am, it seems, a terrible judge of liars."

How curious. "So how'd you discipline them? You're not exactly the punishing type of woman."

Byakuren just smiles and shrugs and acts as if her next words aren't particularly insightful. Which, to be fair, they're not. "I made them do chores."

Akyuu just blinks. "Excuse me?"

"I had... forgotten that youkai are not the same as humans. It is in their nature to act - to want to act. And so my lectures and teachings were less than effective."

It's impressive that Akyuu can make scoffing in disbelief sound so posh. And I'm just as impressed that Byakuren's doesn't take any offense. 'Cause if it were me, I'd be slamming the table and demanding blood sacrifice to appease my wounded honor.

But Akyuu doesn't seem too interested in probing further, so I guess that's up to me. "So - what does that have to do with the awesome veggles?"

Byakuren doesn't exactly jump in her chair; it's more of a weird... surprise-flinch, I guess, and as she turns to me, I can see a faint blush on her cheeks. "Oh - I'm sorry. I get too caught up in myself sometimes. Part of their chores include growing crops for the temple. It's good, I think, to learn how to care for other things."

That... is way too simple a plan. "And this works. This - actually betters their understanding of Buddhism."

"It seems silly, but it is a matter of Upaya. Growing crops, tending to the gardens, even cooking meals; all of these things help train a person's diligence and appreciation for life. A farmer who raises livestock understands death better than those who routinely eat meat; so it is here."

Her logic's... a bit tricky to follow, but understanding still dawned. "So me taking on extra students for you..."

"Is also an expedient means of practicing Buddhism. I can instill discipline, but that alone isn't enough. Your magic lessons will, hopefully, get them to think and discover and search for clarity."

Akyuu doesn't have a pen or paper to write anything down, but I can see the gears in her head running at full steam. "This feels rather slapdash, Byakuren. Aren't you just foisting your problems onto Marisa here?"

"Yes, I am. This... method of teaching my faith is new to me; it's very much a case of throwing stuff onto a wall and seeing what will stick." And Byakuren states her intentions clearly and simply, no subterfuge needed.

...Ehen Akyuu grilled me, I came out swinging with ideals and dreams close to my heart. But Byakuren just... owns her motives, letting them stand tall and proud.

Even Akyuu seems impressed, with the grudging smile on her lips - far too different from the look she gives me.

...I'm not ashamed of my words. But maybe there's a bit of shame from why I said them.

But the pure and honest monk's noticed my frown, and she's quick to try to - appease me? Cheer me up? Getting her attentions suddenly feels embarrassing. "Ah - Marisa, don't worry! I'd be sure to pay any tuition you'd ask for. I understand that dealing with youkai would be much more difficult than working with children, so increased rates would certainly be understandable..."

I'm not sure whether she's deliberately tossing me a lifeline or if it's just a bit of luck - but I'm grateful all the same. My smile comes as naturally as my wink, and the only complaint is that Byakuren doesn't swoon. "I couldn't possibly charge you a tuition, not when I don't charge anyone else. I just want to teach and spread my craft."

"Though a few donations would not be remiss," Akyuu chimes in, and I can't help but notice the gleam in her eye. "Marisa teaches her students well, and word is spreading fast, but some of the less scrupulous parents are not giving Marisa her dues. Both she and Reimu would be quite pleased if you could help 'keep them going', as it were."

"Oh, is that so?" Byakuren asks - and, if it were anybody else, I'd be infuriated that I can't tell if she's being suckered or just humoring us. "I'd be happy to help in any way I can - though I must admit I do have a few requests to help smooth things over on my end. I understand that it has only been one class, but would you feel comfortable offering more than one session a week? That way more of my followers could enjoy your tutelage."

Teaching more than once a week isn't particularly high on my priorities... but how else will students learn, right? "I'll consider it - but, 'requests', plural. How else can I accommodate ya?"

She bites her lip, and I can already tell this is gonna be a doozy. "I was... I was hoping you could ensure that the number of youkai students would equal the number of human students."

Eternal gratitude swells up in my heart when Akyuu plays bad cop for me. "Impossible. Most of Marisa's students are children - having an equal number would ruin Marisa's standing amongst the human population and turn Kirisame Library into a youkai hangout in the eyes of the public. Separate classes would be much easier to swallow."

Byakuren closes her eyes, shaking her head in dismay. "I'm sorry, but I can't accept that. Separate but equal classes would do little to bring humans and youkai together - I would like my followers to get a better insight into humans, and socialization under Marisa's watchful eye seemed to be the safest method."

Akyuu doesn't give an inch, though, and while she's arguing, I'm free to plan out counter-offers. Byakuren mentioned her own magic books last time, so that's certainly something. And, if my classes get too big, I could always demand a small fee just to make it worth my while - or name an outrageous price to make Byakuren back off.

Decisions, decisions. Let's plot this out:


First, how to handle the number of classes:

[ ] Don't budge on the once a week schedule. This might be my laziness talking, but teaching is seriously exhausting work. Furthermore, even though the class itself is only an hour or two long, the prep and cleanup work easily eat up the entire day. Magic's really a self-motivated trade too, so it's not like forcing classes would help people learn.

[ ] Three classes a week seems reasonable. Magic might be self-motivated, but my students are going to be absolute beginners - or instinctual users at best. If people don't want to show up, then fuck 'em; I'll help the ones who actually want to learn.

[ ] A class every day! Ahahahahahaha, no. Not without some extra teachers.

[ ] Write-in.


Next, what to offer for class makeup...

[ ] Separate classes by species. This is easily the safest option by far - youkai don't exactly play in the same ballpark as humans power-wise. Last thing I need is for some over-energetic youkai to knock a kid into a coma. Byakuren will understand if I phrase it right - and Akyuu would probably be all for it.

[ ] Separate classes by age. It's pretty transparent that this is going to separate the youkai and the kids, but it's a face-saving measure for now. It won't stop Byakuren from giving me younger youkai to train up... but that's not necessarily a bad thing. Plus, if I make adult classes, then that might encourage some, well, adults to come join in.

[ ] Shove 'em all in and let the gods sort them out. A clusterfuck if ever there was one, but I'd only have to plan things out for the one class. Plus, if everyone's learning the same thing, the older students can help the younger ones - or vice versa, I suppose. A touch of humility never hurt anyone.

[ ]Write-in.


As for class size, let's see:

[ ] Keep classes small. One-on-one training's the best way to get serious about magic - and I can't exactly do that when I'm dealing with a small horde of students. I don't have the manpower to teach more than maybe 10 people at once.

[ ] Make classes bigger. My goal isn't to raise up an apprentice or anything - it's just to teach magic. If it's like that, then I can afford skipping out on individualized training. Plus, my youkai students will already have some experience, so with them it'd be more a matter of keeping them hard at work and playing nice. 15 to 20 students isn't too much.

[ ] Make classes Keine-sized. Lusty jokes aside, having 30 students or so would add some legitimacy to what I'm teaching. With Byakuren adding to the book collection, Kirisame Library would have enough texts to offer an entire curriculum! The main issue would be dealing with all the baggage that'd come with it - like homework and parent-teacher conferences and desks.

[ ] Write-in.


Now, what should I do about Byakuren's affirmative action?

[ ] Allow a 1-to-1 ratio of humans and youkai. This would make Byakuren pleased as punch, but Akyuu's right when she's mentioning the backlash. Actually allowing youkai in is already going to be a hassle; it wouldn't be too eye-catching if my classes were super-tiny, but even five youkai to five kids might land me in hot water. My goal's to teach magic to the Village, after all - I can't really do that if no human's willing to learn.

[ ] Keep a 75% human to 25% youkai proportion. This'll still get some parents jittery, but I'm pretty sure I can bank on my reputation as 'Youkai Exterminator Extraordinaire ™' to take care of any dissension. Plus, you know, Reimu would be backing me up on this. The main issue here's that Byakuren wouldn't be particularly happy; saying 'Oh, we'll take 'em all out if they get too uppity,' is kinda-sorta the exact opposite reception she's looking for. Maybe there's a better way to phrase it...

[ ] Write-in.


Finally, what should be my compensation? The more I acquiesce to Byakuren, the more I can ask for - but two 'rewards', I guess, makes for a good baseline.

[ ] Funds. This entire operation depends on me getting Reimu out of the gutter, so extra donations would be a godsend. Miko's huge roll of cash helped a lot, but I think Reimu would be more satisfied with an increase in quantity - just a few humongous deposits looks too much like...pity.

[ ] Advertising. Akyuu did a pretty number on Byakuren's reputation, but it's not like she's universally reviled. If I have multiple political authorities backing me up, then people are absolutely going to pay attention - and good publicity is always a strong currency to spend in business.

[ ] Buddhist Magic. Byakuren's basic magic books probably have little to do with her current specialty, so learning Buddhism from her might be worthwhile. I wouldn't be able to use most of the good stuff since I'm not a believer, but a few tricks and tips might be applicable to what I'm teaching. If nothing else, Byakuren's sure to grill me on the Ethics of Magic, and I could probably use a refresher course on that.

[ ] Go on a date. I mean, well... Byakuren's, nice. She's brave and wise... and so, so pure. She shines like the sun... and maybe I'd like to know her a little better. But mixing business with pleasure's a bad idea all around - and forcing Byakuren's hand like this might be a bit too much. I should be confident enough to straight up ask her out after I've earned her trust - and, if I want to impress Akyuu, then I shouldn't act like a total horndog.

[ ] Write-in.
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[X] Once a week.
[X] Separate by age.
[X] 75 per cent human to 25 per cent Yokai. And: [X] Promise to improve ratio as the humes get accustomed to the freaks.
And reward: [X] Advertising. Because what I want to choose ([X] So much peyote you could open a coat factory and have all the buttons be peyote buttons, so that the children will be adequately sorcerously inspired) is probably not what she has.
[x] Three classes a week seems reasonable. Magic might be self-motivated, but my students are going to be absolute beginners - or instinctual users at best. If people don't want to show up, then fuck 'em; I'll help the ones who actually want to learn.

More than once a week wouldn't be bad and it'd help keep things fresh.

[x] Separate classes by age. It's pretty transparent that this is going to separate the youkai and the kids, but it's a face-saving measure for now. It won't stop Byakuren from giving me younger youkai to train up... but that's not necessarily a bad thing. Plus, if I make adult classes, then that might encourage some, well, adults to come join in.


[x] Keep classes small. One-on-one training's the best way to get serious about magic - and I can't exactly do that when I'm dealing with a small horde of students. I don't have the manpower to teach more than maybe 10 people at once.

Maybe after Marisa gets a hang of things that expanding the class size becomes possible.

[x] Aim for 60% human/40% youkai until they get used to each other.

A compromise.
Finally, what should be my compensation? The more I acquiesce to Byakuren, the more I can ask for - but two 'rewards', I guess, makes for a good baseline.

[x] Funds. This entire operation depends on me getting Reimu out of the gutter, so extra donations would be a godsend. Miko's huge roll of cash helped a lot, but I think Reimu would be more satisfied with an increase in quantity - just a few humongous deposits looks too much like...pity.

If we're to increase the class size, this would be needed just to compensate for the expenses at least.

[x] Go on a date. I mean, well... Byakuren's, nice. She's brave and wise... and so, so pure. She shines like the sun... and maybe I'd like to know her a little better. But mixing business with pleasure's a bad idea all around - and forcing Byakuren's hand like this might be a bit too much. I should be confident enough to straight up ask her out after I've earned her trust - and, if I want to impress Akyuu, then I shouldn't act like a total horndog.

Well this could be worded in a way of getting some general leadership pointers from her.
Right, so...

[x] One class a week
We probably could go with more classes in a week, but I think playing it safe is a better idea in this case.

[x] All in one class
This is one hell of a risk, and a pretty stupid one at that but I figure since we have Marisa (and maybe Reimu?) on guard duty things should go smoother then they would otherwise.

[x] Make classes bigger
Since we only have one class we don't have much in the way of excuses not to make the classes bigger at least. There are a few things to keep the youkai students, mostly helping the other students and over-achieving.

[x] 75%-25% human to youkai ratio
-[x] Consider changing the ratio if/when humans start to get used to it.
Doing this to lessen the risk, because with a 1:1 ratio the parents and students could get cold feet.

[x] Funds
-[x] Advertising, if we can convince Byakuren.
Money seems to be the biggest priority out of all of them, and good PR can help a hell of a lot.

and of course, the most important step:
[x] Hope this entire situation doesn't end in disaster
[x] Three classes a week seems reasonable.
[x] Separate classes by age.
[x] Keep classes small.
[x] 75%-25% human to youkai ratio
-[x] Consider changing the ratio if/when humans start to get used to it.

All these are fairly self explanatory - since Marisa doesn't have the standing to support a full classroom like Keine, small classes are the best.

But for rewards...

[x] Funds
[x] Buddhist Magic

And, we're still curious about those rumors, right?

[x] Try and sneak into Byakuren's room, and check out that supposed 'Mara Dildo'.
[X] Three classes a week seems reasonable.

Three a week gives students time to practice on their own, without long gaps that might lead to them forgetting.

[X] Separate classes by age.

This might be a "wait and see" deal, depending on who comes to take lessons, but I still approve of the idea.

[X] Keep classes small.

Another wait and see. You can always add more students later.

[X] Allow a 1-to-1 ratio of humans and youkai.

Have Marisa present it as something like "I don't turn down anyone who wants to study". That helps her look like she isn't taking sides.

[X] Funds.
[X] Advertising.

Capital and reputation. Don't do business without them.
[X] Three classes a week seems reasonable.
[X] Make classes bigger.
[X] Keep a 75% human to 25% youkai proportion, to be gradually increased once the human parents get over their initial worries.
[X] Advertising.
[X] Mix classes.


My reasoning is:
1. and 2. If you want to be taken seriously, then be prepared to put in a lot of work.
Taking on more students, and more classes per week, gives you a certain legitimacy that you won't get if you're only teaching just a handful of kids once a week.
Show them you're really serious about it.

3. Most of all, you don't want to move too fast. It's better to take on a few youkai students now and increase that amount later, rather than suddenly taking on a lot and causing a parental panic.
I'm sure Byakuren understands that your new school is still very much on unstable ground and needs some time to be fully accepted, so you can't make much bigger waves than you already are.

4. Money will come once the village starts respecting you as a teacher. To get that respect, you need people to understand that you are serious. Having influential backers will help you reach that point.

5. The class division is a tricky question. Splitting them apart would destroy the whole point of taking on the youkai students, but keeping them together risks aggravating the parents.
In the end, I believe the best idea is probably to mix classes.

But make sure to teach them, first and foremost, to respect magic. It's a tool like any other, and tools can be dangerous if misused.
Apply the same safety rules that would be used for, say, power tools.
Make sure they always keep a minimum safe distance between themselves and others when using magic. Never cast magic in the direction of another person. While at school they are only allowed to use magic under your supervision, and so on.
Safety first.

You should also work in some more theoretical classes as well. Maybe as a way to finish the day they can take some time to discuss what they've learned, come up with ideas for how they could use it in practical ways, split them into groups to solve a problem, have them discuss the different ways magic already affects their lives. Anything that is magic-related without actually using magic.
That would allow the youkai and humans to get to know each other better without any risk of magical mishaps.
Once they've all reached a certain minimum level of skill (and the parents have been pacified) you can start mixing the practical classes more, since they would almost be training individually at first.
>>37401
Oh right. Missed the line about two "rewards".
Make that
[X] Advertisement
and
[X] Funds

Prioritized in that order.
Advertising would (hopefully) lead to more long term gains than straight up cash, and you're in this for the long haul. So if you have to cut corners, do it with the money.
>>37393
[x] Three classes a week

[x] Separate classes by age

[x] Make classes bigger

[x] Keep a 75% human to 25% youkai proportion
-[x] Make a tentative promise to improve the ratio as numbers improve. Maybe even turn it back on her and make it conditional on her support? Use it as leverage for funds if you have to; get every single mon you can grab.

[x] Funds

[x] Advertising

If we want big support, we gotta go HAM. Through hard work we shall prevail!
[x] Three classes a week

It's not really that much trouble considering how much free time Marisa has. It'll also lets us make fairly conservative choices with everything else since we'll have more time to space things out.

[x] Separate classes by age.

Only good way to do this is either by age or all in, Byakuren won't be happy at all otherwise. If we have three classes a week all in will either be a clusterfuck or we won't have many students at all, so I'll pick age to be consistant.

[x] Keep classes small.

Best way to teach magic is to tailor the lessons to the individual. Besides, we really don't want someone to blow themselves up because we were too busy dealing with other students. Magic is too dangerous to be taught without careful attention, at least for the basics anyway.

[x] Funds
[x] Buddhist Magic

Funds for Reimu, we're not gonna let her live in poverty if we can help it. Buddhist Magic because that was one of the things that got Marisa interested in this idea in the first place. Besides, Byakuren probably knows far more about magic than just the buddhist-only kind; they don't call her the Sealed Great Magician for nothing. We might even get her to teach us her some of her personal stuff if we teach her some of ours. Byakuren's magical specialization would be pretty good for letting Marisa maximise her movement speed with the reflexes and body strength to avoid splattering herself all across Gensokyo. I might be overestimating what Marisa could actually teach Byakuren, but we won't know unless we ask.


Hey Marisa, how do you feel about exchanging your personal techniques with Byakuren's? Maybe let her have a look at that grimoire of yours?

Also, will you be counting the votes for each option individually or as an overall plan?
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>>37399

"Uh - well, if enough people ask for it, I'll try to sneak into Byakuren's room and see what I can dig up. Pops always did tell me to keep some blackmail up my sleeve... and knowing if she does use those kinds of toys would make it easier to approach her."

>>37404

"I'd be an absolute hypocrite if I wasn't okay with showing Byakuren my stuff. I shared everything with Alice before, well... Before, so it's nothing new to me. It'd be nice if I could strut my stuff and impress Byakuren, too!

"As for my grimoire... well, I wouldn't mind showing it off, but it's pretty bare-bones. Nothing like the scrolls Byakuren's probably written.

"Also, to simplify things, I'll be counting votes individually. If there's a contradiction - something like one class a week, but separating youkai and humans - then we'll have a second vote to choose one or the other.

"Keep the questions coming? This entire talk with Byakuren and Akyuu's gotten me all sorts of jittery. I could use the distraction to mellow out a bit!"
I'm not sure how effective advertising would be without improving Byakuren's reputation (no thanks to Akyuu)

Also by taking In Byakuren's students we are doing a form of advertising as they'll tell others about it. That and it shows that Byakuren trusts Marisa enough to do so so it'll be good press among the connected circles. Not much more would be needed in this case.
>>37407

"Ah - I feel like I should clarify some things, here.

"First, while Akyuu did make Byakuren look a bit foolish, her reputation is fairly good. Not as good as say, Miko's or Reimu's, but better than the vampires at the Scarlet Devil Mansion, or the tengu on Youkai Mountain.

"Second, the advertisement thing is more like what Reimu's doing. I'd be able to say stuff like 'Officially sponsored by the Myouren Temple' and the like. For regular people, the distinction won't matter.

"But it does add a wrinkle to the political arena. For people who already don't like Byakuren, it'd drive them away - keeping her students as just students would make me look mercenary, but not necessarily a race traitor. On the flipside, it could convince the more liberal folk to take me up on my offer, since I managed to get Reimu and Byakuren to endorse me.

"I have my own ideas on what to ask for a reward, but I'm not sure if mentioning them is a good, well, idea - I don't want to swing votes like that."
>>37408

>"I have my own ideas on what to ask for a reward, but I'm not sure if mentioning them is a good, well, idea - I don't want to swing votes like that."

If it's for one of the established options then it's probably a bad idea. If it's "write-in" suggestions then it just gives us more options to consider so it should be fine.

Either way, feel free to exposit on the benefits and flaws of each option. As long you don't make an overt "this option is better than the others" you'll be fine. It's also good if you want to tell us your preferances as a guideline for your default "in-character" choices i.e. why you would pick any particular option.

In summary, feel free to give us your thoughts and opinions but refrain from telling us the "right" choice, if you know what I mean? Let us decide that from your arguements and exposition. That's my opinion anyway.
[x] Three classes a week

[x] Separate classes by age

[x] Make classes bigger

[x] Keep a 75% human to 25% youkai proportion

There is no other choice. Necroanon keeps shoving his foot into his mouth and this still means nun sexing.
[x] Her body
[x] Advertising.
[X]Three classes a week seems reasonable. 
[X] Separate classes by age 
[X] Keep classes small 
[X]Maintain a 1 to 1 ratio. 

If Marisa wants to succeed, she needs to remain as impartial as possible. small classes often would be the best bet for that. 

As for rewards... 

[X]Buddhist Magic 
[X]Her body. 

The implicit lewdness is great, but Marisa might be in over her head, in general. Byakuren mentioned in UFO that Marisa was always free to come to her for advice and help; maybe now would be a good time to capitalize on that. We can't ask her to move in with us, but just keeping her around Kirisame LIbrary would let kids, her own followers, and even Marisa herself rely on her. Plus, having her regularly interact with the Village will help mend her reputation.

But speaking of lewdness...

[X] Sneak into Byakuren's room and check out those rumors of a Mara Dildo.
[X] Three classes a week seems reasonable.
[X] Separate classes by familiarity with magic
[X] Keep classes small
[X] Maintain a 1 to 1 ratio.
-[x] Make the transition gradual, though. Give everyone time to adapt to how things might change.

The second option is largely because some Youkai may get frustrated if they're not continuously challenged. Also, it helps Marisa build specialized plans for each 'grade' of magic user. Maybe separate things into three 'grades' for now?

The amendment to the last one is to ensure Marisa doesn't get thrown out on her ass for suddenly bringing a bunch of Youkai into the village (not that there aren't any there already, Sekibanki).

Also, for favors!

[x] Buddhist Magic, because books!
[x] Funds, because funds!
[x] Her body, because it's phenomen--
--[x] Er, because it'd be helpful to have her around to help out with advice in regards to the Youkai students.
[x] Three classes a week seems reasonable.
[x] Separate classes by age.
[x] Make classes bigger.

When it comes to becoming a teacher, if you're in for a penny, you're in for a pound.

[x] Allow a 1-to-1 ratio of humans and youkai.

Race relations sure aren't going to get any better if you let fear of backlash stop you from doing things. It will get really bad at first but change is rarely the easiest course, and it has the added bonus of being the right thing to do.

[x] Advertising.
[x] Funds.

Tangible things. Like you said yourself, as a non-believer, you could at best hope to dabble in her magic, but money is cross-cultural. This will also help Marisa look like she's serious business even more.

[x] Her body.

Engines all ahead, flank speed.
[x] Three classes a week
[x] Separate classes by age
[x] Make classes bigger
[x] Keep a 75% human to 25% youkai proportion

[x] Cash money
[x] Buddhist magiks

[X] Check out that rumor at some point.
I love this story. I'm too sick to vote, but I love this story.
I dunno guys. I have it on good authority Byakhuren's vagina is a fanged maw that leaks acid. And that's why she became a nun: a deep-seated self loathing mixed with a desire to kill all humans with fanged vagina acid.
>>37409

"Thanks for the advice! I'll absolutely keep that in mind - no need to start unnecessary shitstorms, right?"

>>37410
>>37412
>>37413
>>37414

"I just wanted to let you guys know - yes, I will accept the... the 'her body' thing as a vote. I was thinking about making it a regular choice, but it seemed... too much."

>>37413

"Hold the hell up. Sekibanki's a youkai? Flaming red hair, awesome cowl, owns a noodle-cart, that Sekibanki?"

>>37416

"I'm glad I could help you feel a bit better. Make sure to drink lots of hot water, okay? Votes will be open for a few more days, so maybe you'll still have time to vote."

>>37417

"This may or may not be totally true, but - I'm a chick. What care I if she wants to enjoy her some sausage?"
>>37418
Not that guy, but I'd say either that or she's a very cleverly disguised Yukkuri.
>>37418
Has your Hakkero been acting up? You might want to get it checked.
[x] Three classes a week seems reasonable; one for humans, one for youkai, and one all together.

[x] Separate classes by age, but have them work together once a week. "It's good for different generations to learn from each other, you know?"

[x] Make classes bigger…gradually. While we can teach the basics to larger groups, we don't want to overwhelm ourselves here.

[x] Have a 1-1 ratio, but let Akyuu screen the applicants. She writes about threats and human-friendliness all the time so she should be a good judge in that regard. Also, associating youkai with cuties like Kyouko might calm Akyuu down (maybe).

[x] Funds, because there's some things you just can't steal.
[x] Youkai Magic. If Byakuren wants me to teach youkai then it's only fair that they teach me, or rather that she teach me how to learn from them. She got her start learning magic from youkai so maybe my students could too. If nothing else it'll give a good excuse for when someone complains: "There're youkai everywhere so the kids might as well learn from them, you know?"

The reason I'm not going for advertising is because there's no point chasing numbers when we want to keep classes smallish. If we're good enough then word-of-mouth should suffice.

The youkai magic write-in is because I'm genuinely curious to see Byakuren do wizard things. Since it's personal teaching we may even sneak some romance in, certainly better than directly asking for Byakuren's perfect body.
[x] Three classes a week

[x] Separate classes by age

[x] Make classes bigger

[x] 75%-25% human to youkai ratio
-[x] Consider changing the ratio if/when humans start to get used to it.

[x] Funds

[x] Buddhist Magic
>>37419

"...What's a Yukkuri?"

>>37420

"I keep my Hakkero well tuned, thank you very much~ It's purring like a kitten."

>>37421

"That's - wow, that's a really well-thought out post. Thanks a lot! Adding the hows to your votes is gonna be super helpful; it's certainly making me favor your plan!

As for youkai magic... well, I can definitely appreciate getting close to a pretty teacher, but I'll be grouping this as a vote for Buddhist Magic. Byakuren would probably teach me both.

"Although I gotta admit, seeing the 'her body' votes win would definitely get me all tingly."
>>37424
A Yukkuri is sort of like a jelly-filled bun that usually resembles some famous person.
File 139066195940.png - (57.54KB, 228x447, Sekibanki.png) [iqdb]
37427
>>37418

>"Hold the hell up. Sekibanki's a youkai? Flaming red hair, awesome cowl, owns a noodle-cart, that Sekibanki?"

Is this picture representative of her? If so; then yes, she's probably a youkai. A Rokurokubi to be precise.


>>>37424

>"I keep my Hakkero well tuned, thank you very much~ It's purring like a kitten."
>It's purring like a kitten

...Literally or figuratively?


>"Although I gotta admit, seeing the 'her body' votes win would definitely get me all tingly."

I guess some things don't change, 'ey Marisa?
Do you know a Hata no Kokoro? We appear to have a small case of slipped timeframes here.
[c] Three classes a week seems reasonable.
[c] Separate classes by age
[c] Keep classes small
[c] Maintain a 1 to 1 ratio.

[c] Cash money
[c] Buddhist magics

[c] Check out that rumor at some point.

Also, the more I read about your mother, the more I wanted to know badly about her. Damn it, Marisa, your mother is probably the best.
File 139071406760.png - (1.53MB, 847x1066, Beauty and Grace.png) [iqdb]
37430
>>37426

"That. That kinda sounds hilariously morbid. I'd eat one."

>>37427

"Uhm... yeah, that's her. That's a pretty simplistic picture, but - yeah, Sekibanki. Holy shit, I didn't realize there were secret youkai living in the Village.

"As for my precious hakkero: yeah, literally. It's soaked up a lot of magic over the years, so it's become super helpful. Stuff like jumping into my hand, auto-firing - it's great, and such an absolute sweetie pie!

"And no, no they do not. Have you seen Byakuren's body? It puts goddesses to shame - and she has such an amazing personality too!"

>>37428

"Nope. Doesn't ring a bell."

>>37429

"Oh yeah, Mom is the absolute best! I'm glad I take after her more than Pops - even if Mom thinks otherwise.

"I was worried she wouldn't be well-received, so thanks for enjoying her!"
[x] Three classes a week seems reasonable.

[X] Shove 'em all in and let the gods sort them out.

[X] Make classes bigger. My goal isn't to raise up an apprentice or anything - it's just to teach magic. If it's like that, then I can afford skipping out on individualized training. Plus, my youkai students will already have some experience, so with them it'd be more a matter of keeping them hard at work and playing nice. 15 to 20 students isn't too much.

[X] Allow a 1-to-1 ratio of humans and youkai.

[X] Funds.

[X] Go on a date.
File 139073108769.jpg - (117.00KB, 600x334, Take_It_Easy!.jpg) [iqdb]
37433
>>37430
Here's an example of what yukkuris might look like.
So, guys... Mind if I ask for a reason for the 1 to 1 ratio votes? Akyu already said how bad an idea it is regarding the human side. Last I checked, Akyu was also picked so we know what would lit the powder keg and what would not. Why is her advice regarding that ignored? Changes must be brought gradually, not all at once.

If it's about pleasing Byakuren, kindly remember not having humans in our classes is not going to have her happy at all. Which is what you heavily risk having happen.
[x] Three classes a week
[x] Separate classes by age
[x] Make classes bigger
[x] Keep a 75% human to 25% youkai proportion
-[x] Do mention that it's only to start with. Once the villagers get used to them, there shouldn't be much problem bringing in more. But for initial shock? That ratio would be better to start with.

[x] Cash money
[x] Buddhist Magic
>>37435

High risk, high reward my brutha. The majority of the population would assume such a situation would be impossible.

Successfully pulling it off though would go leaps and bounds towards dispelling some of the bigotry prevailing in the general populace.
[x] Three classes a week seems reasonable; one for humans, one for youkai, and one all together.

[x] Separate classes by age, but have them work together once a week. "It's good for different generations to learn from each other, you know?"

[x] Make classes bigger... gradually. While we can teach the basics to larger groups, we don't want to overwhelm ourselves here.

[x] 3:1 ratio, at first, and have Akyuu meet the applicants.

Leaning towards [x] her body*, but it seems so... gauche, to just ask like that. Especially in front of Akyuu. Maybe later, when we [x] investigate the dildo rumor. Between you and me, Marisa, I suspect that's half the reason people aren't voting for it, so just because it's not winning doesn't mean you should rule out the possibility entirely, once you're in a more intimate setting.

*Just to clarify, I do want that, though my preference is to be a bit more subtle if possible. Maybe something like "Well, we can talk about rewards over dinner some time. ~wink~" - which I suppose might make more sense to count as a vote for a date, and we can see where the night goes. Of course, if you were to get caught searching her bedroom...
>>37437
Except what you gamble is the whole damn project in the first place. And that is not going to help Akyu see Marisa in a better light for sure.
>>37435
I was the one who voted for a 30:70 ratio at first.
>>37393
[x] Three classes a week seems reasonable.
[x] Check Youkai students out, filter the younger, lower powered ones in with the kids after they are scoped out. This may involve lasers.
[x] Keep a 75% human to 25% youkai proportion. Humans are panicky and nervous, so Marisa needs to go in slow and smooth and work them into it.

[x] Funds.
[x] Goat rental. Who doesn't like magic goats?
[x] Buddhist magic. Buddhist magical goat tower? You bet.

[x] Sneak into Byakuren's room and check out those rumors. THOSE rumors.
-[x] Has a penis
-[x] Actually a bunch of squirrels in a costume
-[x] Weird Buddhist sex toys
-[x] Secret bondage lair (Looking at you, Moriya shrine)

[x] Ask for one boob, let Akyuu cover the other, tackle Byakuren to the floor, go go go Oscar Mike
>>37443

Whoa, whoa, back the fuck up...secret bondage lair? I think Marisa should do a very subtle inquiry into this one as well.
[x] Three classes a week.
Seems like we have the time for it.

[x] Keep classes small.
Individual coaching seemed essential last time. Wouldn't want to lose that and take a hit to quality.

[x] Keep a 75% human to 25% youkai proportion.
Seems like a safe bet to start with.

[x] Funds.
[x] Her body.
Gotta keep the place running. I'd go for the date, but sexytimes seems to be where the votes are at. And once we've seduced Byakuren, I bet she'll gladly share the secrets of her magic with us.
[ ] Don't budge on the once a week schedule. This might be my laziness talking, but teaching is seriously exhausting work. Furthermore, even though the class itself is only an hour or two long, the prep and cleanup work easily eat up the entire day. Magic's really a self-motivated trade too, so it's not like forcing classes would help people learn.

[ ] Shove 'em all in and let the gods sort them out. A clusterfuck if ever there was one, but I'd only have to plan things out for the one class. Plus, if everyone's learning the same thing, the older students can help the younger ones - or vice versa, I suppose. A touch of humility never hurt anyone.

[ ] Keep classes small. One-on-one training's the best way to get serious about magic - and I can't exactly do that when I'm dealing with a small horde of students. I don't have the manpower to teach more than maybe 10 people at once.

[ ] Allow a 1-to-1 ratio of humans and youkai. This would make Byakuren pleased as punch, but Akyuu's right when she's mentioning the backlash. Actually allowing youkai in is already going to be a hassle; it wouldn't be too eye-catching if my classes were super-tiny, but even five youkai to five kids might land me in hot water. My goal's to teach magic to the Village, after all - I can't really do that if no human's willing to learn.

[ ] Funds. This entire operation depends on me getting Reimu out of the gutter, so extra donations would be a godsend. Miko's huge roll of cash helped a lot, but I think Reimu would be more satisfied with an increase in quantity - just a few humongous deposits looks too much like...pity.
>>37424

> "That's - wow, that's a really well-thought out post. Thanks a lot! Adding the hows to your votes is gonna be super helpful; it's certainly making me favor your plan!"

Thanks! Something else I forgot to mention in the "let Akyuu screen youkai" plan is that when the parents get fussy (when are they not?) then you can you can say "Akyuu picked them so they have to be safe, you know?"

As for asking Byakuren for her body (I know which body part Anon thinks with apparently) I'd advise being very polite about it. Byakuren's many youkai followers are very loyal, good at hiding, and are just as roguish as you. One could be behind you right now and you'd never know…

>>37430

> "That. That kinda sounds hilariously morbid. I'd eat one."

Yes, "hilariously morbid" pretty much describes the life of a yukkuri. Note that they taste better the more they suffer. Just make sure you leave the niceheads alone and only go after scum.
File 139087578644.png - (540.08KB, 625x1000, An Outfit.png) [iqdb]
37459
"Again, one more day until votes close! So to anyone who's been muffling about, and to >>37416 specifically, get your votes in!

And to motivate you are, here are the tallies:

Three Classes a Week: 20
One Class a Week: 3

Split Classes by Age: 15
Mix 'em All In: 4
Split by Skill: 2

Make Classes Bigger (Gradually): 11
Keep Classes Small: 9

Have a 3 to 1 (75%/25%) Ratio: 12
Have a 1 to 1 Ratio: 8

Be Rewarded with Funds: 17
Be Rewarded with Magic: 10
Be Rewarded with Advertisement: 7
Be Rewarded with Her Body: 7
Be Rewarded with a Date: 2

"So as you can see, some of the options are still neck and neck!

"And yes, for those who are wondering - I'll try to be subtle if the more risque options win, and I'll see if I can't find some blackmail."

>>37435
>>37437
>>37441

"Yeah, the 1 to 1 ratio isn't going to win me a lot of points with Akyuu. And asking her to screen each and every one of the youkai applicants is a lot to ask for, unless I have something to offer her in return. It's - well, it's definitely risky."

>>37443
>>37444

"I, uh - well, I don't think the goats are worth a lot, reward wise. As for those rumors... well, check the picture, I guess? Don't know what to make of it."

>>37453

"You've a good point about using Akyuu to convince others, but convincing Akyuu herself will be tricky. As for Byakuren's followers - ngh. I'll be careful.

And - wait holy shit, these Yukkuri things are sentient? That's horrifying."
>>37459
Magic Goats. Rent them out and delight children as they climb towers.
>>37460

"Obligated to remind you that the goats weren't actually there in the meditation chamber with her. It's just another silly rumor! I don't think goats seriously transform into her clothing."
>>37461
Hold out some grass to her clothing while snooping, see what happens.
>>37443
>-[x] Actually a bunch of squirrels in a costume
Byakuren is not the Lady of Pain.
>>37463
So what you're saying is, Yuka is a bunch of squirrels in a costume.
[x] Three classes a week.
[x] Keep classes small.
[x] Keep a 75% human to 25% youkai proportion.

[x] Funds.
[x] Her body.
File 139096307630.jpg - (46.47KB, 524x736, BUNNIES.jpg) [iqdb]
37470
"Alrighty, votes closed! Meaning we have... well, it's a bit of a mouthful, so just look above at the last time I tallied everything!

"As an aside, I think Byakuren will be rather ehh about the terms I offer, so we're just gonna ask for the two payments - that is, funds and her body I MEAN MAGIC."
>>37470
Yes, yes. Byakuren will be a bit miffed.

Still, and it should be stressed here, Akyuu is right on one thing and you should remind Byakuren of it: Make changes too big too fast and there will be a riot, no human will come to your classes ever again and nobody will be happy about it. Slow and steady win the race. Even if you yourself have no right saying something like that.

Anyway, you start slow, see how villagers react and once they get used to it and nothing is going wrong, we can see about changing things a bit more.

And I suppose you can always say you you want more teaching experience first before beign confident in handling potentially volatile situations. Can't just Masterspark problems away.
>>37470
Ah, right. Same poster, but something even better to help Byakuren accept it. You have Akyuu with you. Who else can you get to tell how worse things were between human and youkais a few generations ago? And thus, say how far things progressed since then?

Just to point out that while the current situation is still far from what she wants, it could be a hell of a lot worse and there's no reason to not be careful poking at it.
>>37470
"Well this is workable, just GET NAKED."
"W-what?"
"YOUR TITS, I WANT TO SEE THEM. MY CAPSLOCK IS SO TURNED ON RIGHT NOW."
"Hey, all! Apologies for slowing down to a crawl - this next scene is kinda bloated, and I'm busy trimming the fat. Then there's steeling myself for Alice, and... blugh.

"Onto better news! The update's coming on reasonably, and I just wanted to let you guys know I'm not dead. And, since we're about to hit autosage, I figured I'd tell you guys to be on the lookout for Thread Three of Marisa's Magically Magnificent Maktaba!

"But, well. Since my first thread got accidentally bumped earlier, i figured I'd try something to remedy that. If you have any questions or lingering thoughts on the story so far, post 'em here! Having some discussion will keep me motivated, and might make this actually hit autosage. And if you guys are just waiting warmly, well - let me know anyways! You can probably tell I'm a bit of a gloryhound."
>>37489

Akyuu and Byakuren in leotards. Good idea or BEST ide waitwait! Not what I meant to ask!

Ahem. Anyway, I really am enjoying the story so far, and am looking forward to what's coming next! Though I'm curious as to how you're gonna spin the whole teaching youkai thing to the parents. That's gonna be... delicate.
So like...earlier you said your relationship with Alice lasted for years. Exactly how many years are we talkin? Cuz you're like...what..17 or something, right?

Doesn't that mean that some 30ish year old youkai basically seduced you and stole your purity before you really understood what it meant to love someone?
>>37492
Wouldn't that require her to be pure in the first place?
Also, see if you can scratch Nazrion or Shou's ears.
>>37490

"I have no idea either, to be honest. Most parents wouldn't want to get on the ground floor of something so dangerous - or so blatantly political, for that matter. I can't think of any ways to sell it, so I'd probably stress the fact that the kids do get their own class, and that Reimu thinks it's safe.

"Though, I gotta admit - even if she thought it was dangerous, the money might make her shush."

>>37492

"Well... I don't actually know how old Alice is. We just kinda... agreed to not talk about it. Alice used to live in Makai before she moved to The 'Soak, and the first time we met, she looked younger than me.

"So... yes, maybe she is a thirty year old cougar and seduced me. Time is hella weird when you play with multiple pocket dimensions. But you have to remember, I made the first move by bugging her every day. I was the one who asked her out on our dates. All that... stuff, that comes from a relationship.

"As for how many years, exactly? Well, we became an item a bit before the Imperishable Night incident with Kaguya, so we've been together for...for...

"Uh. Uhhhhhhhhhhhhh. Let me get back to you on that, because by all accounts this doesn't make sense."

>>37493

"Hey! I'll have you know I was a pure and honest tot before my hormones destroyed any sense of shame I had.

"And yeah, I'll try petting Nazrin's and Shou's ears if they show up. I probably have some cheese to bribe 'em with somewhere."
Did you ever consider all those youkai intentionally fed Akyuu false info, in order to preserve their "scary" image?

If everyone in the outside world AND Gensokyo stopped fearing youkai, wouldn't there be no safe haven for them?

Also, what's your three sizes?
>>37495
I would say some of hte SoPM stuff seem made out of ignorance/assumption as they lack the supporting quotes older articles did. (Then again it might be ZUN being lazy)
>>37495

"Of course youkai talk a big game. Hell, the humans do it too - I tried to fasttalk Akyuu into making me into this super awesome badass when I was younger.

"Thing is, there are youkai who still, you know, eat people. And you have to remember that the Spellcard Rules are really, really recent; before Reimu got that set up, she and I were legitimately blasting people apart. It got gory sometimes, no lie. Whether it's real or posturing, people still get scared. And they have a right to fight back against that fear.

"Lastly; in cases like that, you could do what Byakuren and Shou did, and find a way to not run off the fear of humanity. Hell, Magicians like Alice and Patchy don't need scare tactics to keep themselves around, either.

"But all in all, I'm speaking Devil's Advocate here. I can't say I really care one way or the other.

"As for my sizes? That's for my future waifu to find out~"

>>37496

"You gotta remember that Akyuu's Symposium's focus was all about Byakuren, Kanako, and Miko. The articles that are used as sources and references aren't the whole thing - they're just quick copies stuffed into the book so everything makes sense. Printing's expensive, yo."
"Right over here! >>37498

Third time's the charm, and all that, right?"
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