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File 140466302196.jpg - (66.42KB, 500x517, 306b3a704a00e986ce57ca1ee17912e2.jpg) [iqdb]
37747
You dream.

In your weapon cum chariot cum coffin, you float between the stars and you dream, content and alone. Your story ended at a time and place of your choosing. You made the best decisions you could have based on the information you had at the time and your own judgement. You followed your heart and you regret nothing.

Unfortunately, your dreams are a completely different matter. Replaying pivotal moments over and over, abstractly shoving your life in your face, you are all but bathing in your own legacy, ever questioning your choices. If you had sought greater power, would you have found it? With it, would you have done things differently? Were the sacrifices needed to get that power greater or lesser than what was lost when you turned your back on it all? At the time, you decided they were greater.

Sometimes the dreams are less intense. Flashbacks from the very beginning, when you were barely more than a girl, when you first touched on power at all. The choice you had to make that day, in a different dream altogether. The sword, power to stand against anything. The staff, indirect and non-obvious might. The shield, for those who have the will to protect and endure.

Sometimes they are simply fond memories, like the moment you discovered your own magical nature. Of the fourteen known elements, you touched yours in a burst of inspiration shortly after unlocking your inner potential. It is a part of you; in a way it always was even before you knew magic was real. It is said that those of similar dispositions are destined to cross paths one day, for good or ill.

Time has been meaningless to your dreaming self. You do not notice when the impact occurs, and you do not feel the spinning as you veer out of control. You crash into a barrier, then plunge through, tearing a hole behind you. A second barrier allows you through without resistance; a forgotten and unneeded figure such as yourself is welcomed in a place such as this with (figurative) open arms.


[***]

In a bamboo-secluded manor, a great mind turns its concerned attention outside and upwards after hearing chatter about an unanticipated wide-scale meteor shower.

[***]

At an isolated shrine, two women sipping tea gaze up at a sky full of falling stars. One turns to the other.

"Is this your fault?"

"I wish it was, ze~"

[***]

In an unreachable space, a sage idly notes a newcomer's entrance, but doesn't notice the starfall as she is curled up in bed.

[***]

In a small house in a dark forest, a dozen dolls freeze in place as their master remembers something thought long forgotten.

[***]

By a field of flowers, a parasol tilts back to allow amused crimson eyes a view of the night sky.

"Welcome to Gensokyo, dreamer."

[*******************}

CHOOSE THE FORM OF YOUR POWER

[] The Sword. Ineffable might, you will be casually dismissed at your enemies' peril. Outside of rules, you are a respectable threat to many. However, raw might does you little good in a match of Spell Cards. Some of your power will translate into danmaku (like Youmu's), but how well will depend on your paired element.

[] The Staff. Danmaku are about as indirect as power gets in Gensokyo, and yours will be considerable. This option also grants you the most versatility with your chosen element. You'll need it, as your direct power and endurance is potentially average.

[] The Shield. No youkai, man, or god will kill you quickly. While this form is least useful for offensive danmaku, it opens up options that are otherwise . . . uncanny. Your element choice can mitigate offensive weakness, enhance defensive potential, neither or both of those.

{Clarification: Whichever one you pick will decide what kinds of abilities you start with and which ones you can get later. The two you don't pick will always lag behind somewhat}

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

CHOOSE YOUR ELEMENT (FROM THE FIRST 11)

{You will start with a few levels in your chosen element, and will be much more likely to spontaneously combine it with your other talents in various ways. You level up an element by beating the living shit out of having a heart to heart encounter with an entity of the relevant element. If it would have gotten you encounter XP by DND 3.5 rules, it probably counts. If a set of choices would have built a 3 dot intimacy by Exalted 2E rules, it probably counts. Thankfully this is a setting where both of those things can happen towards a protagonist OR an antagonist! Finally, you may gain any new element through the course of play, the last three being special cases. The categories below do not rank inherent elemental talent by anything but rarity in your former social and professional circles. The last three are intrinsic to one's weapon and nature, and you aren't special enough going to have a personal element that resonates perfectly with your weapon's nature}


~The basics~

[] Fire

[] Ice

[] Lightning

[] Flower

~Intermediates~

[] Wind

[] Water

[] Earth

[] Time

[] Space

[] Illusion

[] Moon

~Advanced~

[] Light

[] Nothingness

[] Darkness
[x] The Staff. Danmaku are about as indirect as power gets in Gensokyo, and yours will be considerable. This option also grants you the most versatility with your chosen element. You'll need it, as your direct power and endurance is potentially average.
[x] Ice
[X] The Shield.
[X] Illusion

I smell new blood; am I correct? If so welcome to THP.
That said, is this a Kingdom Hearts crossover?
>>37749
It is. OC female Keyblade War veteran. I wonder if I used the wrong board . . . this story could go anywhere at this rate.
[x] The Shield
[x] Moon

I am the Moonshield
File 140469807416.jpg - (819.91KB, 1920x1080, 38663.jpg) [iqdb]
37752
Do not use ze people here hate it. I don't mind it though.

[x] Sword
[x] Moon

THE MOON ALSO RISES
File 140470617666.jpg - (240.62KB, 650x1011, 444.jpg) [iqdb]
37753
[x] The Shield (Reflect Guard is as uncanny as it gets in Danmaku. Also defense is always good, 'cause staying power.)
[x] Illusion (We are in the land of fantasy, people.)

Pic related to any choice.
...Pic related to every choice.
File 140470631575.jpg - (152.51KB, 850x622, 1343220234069.jpg) [iqdb]
37754
[X] The Shield.
[X] Time

EX boss. Every spellcard is a timeout spell card.
>>37754
...You're a monster.
I like the way you think.
[X] The Shield.
[X] Time
[x] Shield
[x] Lightning

PROTECTED
DETECTIVE
ELECTRIC EYEEEEEEEE
[x] The Shield
[x] Moon

>>37749
>>37750
Not a fan of KH, but your writing's pretty good so I'll give it a chance.
Also, as long you involve characters associated with the shrine itself, it should be fine. [opinion]Suika and Mima would be fun, rather than two of the most popular and overdone characters.[/opinion]
>>37757
Well this board is named Shrine, but it also covers the human village and the Buddhist temple, as seen in the navigation window to the right.
Shield is winning by a landslide.

1 Ice
1 Lightning
2 Time
2 Illusion
3 Moon

Keep 'em coming.

Our main character will be basing operations out of the village if nothing happens to strongly dissuade her from that plan.
"Welcome to Gensokyo, dreamer."

What?

Wind.

Falling.

You snap to panicked wakefulness and try to figure out which way is d-

Impact.

[***]

You come to slowly, feeling wet and cold.

Sitting up, you flinch at a sudden sucking sound; your body pulling free of the thick mud it was resting in. Small favors. Under the light of a half moon and a sky of stars, you look around. A trench your body carved into the ground. A second trench caused by your weapon. An impression of said weapon in the mud, from where it had been removed. Footprints leading off towards trees in the distance.

You stand and see the moon reflected on water a little ways off. Rice paddies? So it seems. Your clothing is dark, and visibility is poor. There are farmhouses and a wall nearby, denoting civilization.

Nodding to yourself, you make your way out of the mud and onto a proper path, then wind through the paddies towards the town. As you walk, you summon your weapon to your hand, and it appears, manifesting with a minor display.

Someone took it from your landing zone while you were out. That someone saw fit to spare your life. While you appreciate the courtesy in principle, it means that there is now a potentially unstable new force in this place . . . wherever this place is.

If this had been an assignment, you'd have been irritated. Ashamed, even. Sloppy, and unprofessional to boot. As it was, this was not an infiltration. If you had to guess, you either drifted here or were pulled here or some freak accident knocked you here. It didn't matter. You were asleep, and barely woke up in time to realize you were about to crash.

The pain in your leg wasn't helping, either. Your 'armor' probably took the brunt of the impact, enough to cause it to unmanifest.

You banish your weapon and limp on. While you'd love to just take off back into the sky and continue sleeping forever, your sense of responsibility would ruin your dreams.

You made a mess, and you're going to clean it up.

An unknown factor touched a Keyblade. Did they cause any direct harm in the unknown minutes that they had it? Would they later manifest one of their own, and sow chaos and destruction on this random world?

You've seen what a single Keyblade wielder could do on purpose. You've seen the collateral damage too.

Your mind shifts into a mode you never thought you'd use again. Your posture shifts. Your confidence seems to fade. You are alone, afraid, and hurt. Or at least, that's what you project.

Normally this would be a routine infiltration mission; enter the area, assimilate into the populace. Learn about the movers and shakers, and look for potential candidates for recruitment.

This time, however, if you found your target, you'd have a choice to make. Would you simply seal their heart, locking away the potential for them to tap this power? Or would that not be enough?

You have enough blood on your hands for one lifetime already, but you won't balk from shedding a little bit more, if the target is of the wrong mindset; that is, strong of heart and heedless of consequence.

You hope someone powerful and wise picked it up. Those without power tend to be warped by such things more than most. Unfortunately the thief didn't finish you or tend to you, so you doubt they are wise- or compassionate.

You begin to circle the wall. The entrance will make itself visible soon enough.

As you see the glow of torches around the corner, you pray that the people here are tolerant of strangers wandering in from outside.

You slip completely into the role of scared young woman and begin the dance of spies once again.

[Keep voting for the previous post's stuff]
Will sleep, wake, get to work, eat, and then if nothing stops me I will call the vote and carry on. Right now Shield/Moon is winning; In case of a tie I will rule in favor of whichever options got to the tied number first- so if tomorrow morning when I call it if it's 3 Illusion and 3 Moon, Moon still wins.
arright, calling it.
It has been one month since you arrived here in Gensokyo.

A full cycle of the moon, in fact, which is particularly relevant to your interests.

Firstly because of your nature and the quirks of your talent.

Secondly because of one Keine Kamishirasawa, and her own nature and talent.

[***]

As it turned out, the village was very used to outsiders arriving out of the blue.

Outsiders with a capital 'o,' no less.

As you fell from the sky instead of stumbling in from one of the more common entrances, you were not treated with suspicion due to your lack of familiarity with 'Japan.' Well, that, and you were an obvious foreigner to the lands this little closed space ostensibly connected to.

Part of the package of your Keyblade's power is the ability to communicate in any language. It took you a little while to understand that one with your appearance was not expected to speak the local language as flawlessly as you were.

You were about a half to a whole head taller than most of the adult men, and your shoulder-length head of curly crimson hair did nothing to help you blend in either. Blue eyes were also right out.

Thankfully your ditzy slow-to-catch on act has been refined over years of undercover work, and your long nap didn't rust your skill.

You cheerfully allowed yourself to be branded as 'the new western girl,' and went about securing a home and finding something to do to pass the time.

Apparently there were always a few open homes at any given point.

You had expected it to take weeks to catch sign of the local manifestations of light and darkness, and to figure out how best to use them to assist your search. It took less than one day.

A pair of figures floating in the air over the village dueled with waves of magical projectiles, and you stood slackjawed as they fought. When the loser fell, stood up, dusted themself off, and shook a good natured fist before wandering off, you were stunned. You were gently pulled aside and told the nature of the 'Spell Card' system.

That then delved into a lesson on Youkai.

This little closed world's manifestations of darkness were sentient. Sentient and sapient.

Self aware thinking beings that were conscious of the fact that they were delusions born from the darkness in the hearts of Man. Beings with hearts of their own.

And the local humans were also aware of them and lived in a strange balance.

This . . . was enough to send you sprawling once you were safe back in your small house. How long were you asleep? What was the final outcome of the Keyblade War? Those mindless shadows that spawned from the deepest reaches of darkness were the only examples you were personally familiar with; as different areas of the World were sealed off and secured one by one, those manifestations took on their own unique twists. Was this one of those sealed zones? How long had it been isolated?

Too many questions.

Thankfully, you were told that curious newcomers could get answers from the wisest figures in the village. There was also extensive reading material available for the public as well.

You resolved to read, and spent a couple weeks doing that and little else. The Ninth Volume of the Gensokyo Chronicles painted a . . . somewhat bleak picture of the world outside the walls for the average villager. Thankfully you were anything but.

When you ventured out for food and asked the occasional question, you did your best to keep your vapid expression of interest in place. Eventually you ran out of books that seemed useful. Getting all of this 'welcome to our world' information smacked of being too good to be true.

[***]

Your cover's security was divided into many layers:

On the outside, you were a pretty young woman in modest local dress who asked seemingly obvious questions and tried your best to find answers. You were sort of clueless and were bad at answering questions about the Outside world.

When needed you could slip on your black coat and raise the hood. Outside of the first few people who greeted you in when you arrived, no one has seen you wear it; it is a plausible deniable appearance. While wearing the coat you are masked from many supernatural senses and can go about undetected by scrying eyes.

Thirdly you can don your armor. You will be blatantly and obviously magical to anyone with the right senses, and there is little you can do to hide or mask that signature. However it is a third unique appearance. You've swapped between these three looks to your advantage dozens of times.

Finally, your Keyblade. It is obvious and unique. If someone sees one of your forms holding it, they will inevitably recognize it in the hands of another unless they are an idiot. While it is undeniably your greatest and most versatile asset, it alone will compromise your cover like nothing else.

[***]

You drafted a few Spell Cards from the available template blanks that were free to take. Only a couple would work when you were unarmed and unarmored. Your armor and keyblade each allowed you to invoke a few more. You would have to be careful choosing which patterns you displayed between your civilian and black-coat identities.

When it got close to the full moon, you noticed lots of smaller children running around the village during the day. On asking, you were told that Miss Kamishirasawa dismissed classes close to the full moon because of her 'condition.'

Right. She was a were-hakutaku. Lycanthropy and its non-wolf derivatives was not unknown to you, but it was one of those conditions you went wildly out of your way to avoid witnessing. Your own might waxed and waned with the moon, after all. The last thing you needed was a fight with something better than you whenever you were at your best. You also suspect that you would be extra vulnerable to communicable varieties of said transformations; also a reason to avoid such beings if you'd ever heard one.

Regardless, she was going to increase in her supernatural insight and perception of 'history' as the moon apexed. You hoarded some food and spent 72 hours in your house, wearing your black coat. It was a bit warm, but you were taking no risks at this point.

[***]

For the second half of your first month you were a bit more outgoing. You had names and profiles of many better known youkai. You hadn't seen a trace of your weapon inside the village, and no reports of impossible burglaries or suspicious beings of inky blackness reached your ears. There were plenty of common burglaries- and the youkai known as Rumia, but her darkness was said to be uniform and static, berefit of the obvious tells like gleaming yellow circular eyes.

You chatted with the locals more, and evaded any questions about why you hadn't visited the Hakurei shrine with excuses like "it sounds far away," "scary youkai congregate there," and "people say the priestess is scary." No one argued with either point. You witnessed a handful of danmaku duels near the village, and you saw (if not met) a variety of youkai that stopped by the village for shopping or social calls.

As the new moon grew back towards half full, it was more or less assumed by everyone that you were staying permanently, and people that crafted the various permanent fixtures of life began to call on you to test you interest in variosu wares. Apparently there was a salesman free grace period before you were assumed to be fair game as a potential customer.

[***]

It is the day of the first quater of the lunar cycle. Tonight the moon will be half full, and spring has recently begun.

As you go out to get water from the well for the day, you notice a commotion in the middle of the village.

Heading over, you watch as a shop owner laments his misfortune loudly. His entire stock of alcohol has been spirited away.

Before you move on, you hear mumbles of discontent in the crowd. Apparently the storage shack for this merchant's stock was a bit of a legend.

You follow the crowd around behind the shop.

The shack was warded.

Heavily.

Every known species of youkai that liked alcohol was accounted for; layers upon layers of seals and talismans and forbiddings. Taoist, Buhddist, Shinto. They were not overpowed by might. They were not ignored by a human. Each seal was broken, cleanly cut in two.

You shift closer, wide eyed and curious. People part a bit to allow your through. Just before you are asked to back away from the makeshift police line by the 'officer' on scene, you manage to take a deep nasal breath.

Quickly, you make your way back to the well, get your water, and head home. You throw on your black coat, sit on your floor and close your eyes.

The smell had been unmistakable.

The power of darkness, tinted by an individual heart, projected directly into each ward. It was not the 'smell' of various youkai you had grown accustomed to over the last month, a deeper, rich scent mixed with elements of what spawned them.

This was sharp and pure, in a way you've sampled a thousand times before. A Keyblade 'unlocked' those seals.

An untrained Keyblade user is in the wild. Petty larceny is only the start. If they aren't stopped, they will annoy the powers that be enough to be attacked directly. If by that point they have master a bit more of the Keyblade's nature, then they could very well unleash wholesale chaos on the scale of whomever is foolish enough to confront them uninformed.

And if the rumors and stories and reports you've read are true, that means just about everyone who's anyone around here.

You will not let that stand. Every minute the target runs free is time it could be mastering more abilities from its new toy. Later the risk of the power spreading further becomes real; by conquest and seizure from their corpse, or by contagion if they grow strong enough to awaken the hearts of others.

You will clean up your mess, one way or another. For all that either is worth anymore, you swear that on your name and title-


[ ]░are░an, Gu░rdian ░f L░g░t

[x] Darejan, Seeker of Darkness

Your eyes snap open, citrine pupils meeting their twins in your (generously donated) mirror. You manifest your Keyblade, and with a flick of your wrist it snaps from its default shortsword shape to your preferred thinner, longer fencing foil. You reach out to open a short corridor of darkness to exit the village without drawing attention-

A knock at your door.

The corridor fizzles, and with a blink your pupils pop back to sky blue. You quickly banish your Keyblade and make towards the door, then remember your black coat is still on. Dashing back to your bedroom, you doff it quickly, tossing it in a corner before spinning around and heading back to your door. You make it halfway there before your foot catches the edge of a tatami mat and you go sprawling, landing on your face.

"Ah, miss? Are you alright?"

Mumbling something under your breath, you shake your head and let out a (hopefully adorable) moan of pain and scoot over to the door without standing, sliding it open. You rub your nose as you look up at your visitor.

You see . . .

[ ] Someone suspicious

- [ ] Write in who?

- [ ] Write in why?

[ ] Someone trustworthy

- [ ] Write in who?

- [ ] Write in why?

[ ] Someone terrifying

- [ ] Write in who?

- [ ] Write in why?

(Since she has a trail to follow, she'll try to brush off someone suspicious, placate someone trustworthy, and delay her hunt for someone terrifying. She has read the Ninth Gensokyo Chronicle, and as such has the warped information on the best known youkai and humans as written in Perfect Memento in Strict Sense. She will overestimate many of the characters listed in that book, based on the written text. She has not gone out and encountered anyone outside the village yet. It is known that she arrived on the night of the super meteor shower, and anyone asking around could find that fact out easily enough. She has been known to do a lot of reading about Gensokyo during her first month's stay, which is unusual for newcomers. Reasons can vary, from a representative of Byakuren inviting the newcomer to Myouren Temple for lunch or a representative of Eirin inviting her to be studied dinner at Eientei, that sort of thing. Obviously the person at her door will not be the culprit~)
***STATS AND INVENTORY***

Darejan's Keyblade- specifically a Keyblade of the World of Darkness.

The Keyblade may open or seal any lock, and acts as a focus for magic. Its default form for Darejan is a one handed blade about the length of your arm, but she prefers to warp it into a more rapier-like or foil-like shape which is slightly longer.

As her nature is Moon, her most notable talent is in taking advantage of the flexibility of her Keyblade's form. She is excessively skilled at warping it into increasingly complex shapes as the moon grows more full. On a new moon she is limited to its default shape and her rapier-custom shape. The speed and utility of these changes waxes and wanes with the moon as well.

As a Seeker of Darkness, she has a few special skills she can invoke without her Keyblade. She may open a corridor of darkness, which is a pair of portals between her current location and a place she has been before (or to a place her heart leads her to beyond all else). The zone inside such corridors is an odd space that may be infested with dark creatures; usually it is easy enough to crush them or ignore them while running through. Used sparingly and at peak strength, they are a relatively safe way of getting from place to place unseen, if not undetected.

Her other talent lies in 'smelling' darkness. Each being with a heart has a unique scent, Darejan can smell their emotional state. This is exceptionally useful for manipulating people. It is also a dick move if abused, and under the right circumstances certain beings will be quite incensed to realize they were tricked using this information.

She also has a Black Coat; a unique looking item (in Gensokyo) that when worn prevents the use of her dark powers from being noticed by sensitive beings. Anyone attuned to Light, Darkness or Nothingness is liable to feel corridors of darkness open and the flaring of power from a Keyblade if the user does not take steps to mask such things. Other mighty beings may have developed other methods of noticing such energies as well.

Finally, she has her armor. It's a form-fitting bicycle-suit deal with a full helmet much like Vanitas' in Birth by Sleep or Riku's in KH1 and Chain of Memories; as a girl she tends to pull off the look much better, though. The armor renders her less susceptible to Light-natured effects, dampens physical damage a bit, and enhances physical strength significantly by acting as a secondary set of muscles. It also makes her boobs look one size bigger

Darejan has three points in her Moon alignment, three points in Shield and one point each in Sword and Staff and Darkness. The moon alignment, as part of its nature, is at 3 during a half moon and goes up or down based on how many quarters are illuminated, topping off at 5 during the full moon and bottoming out at 1 during the half moon.

These points can be dedicated to various skills; think of them like different flavors of AP from KH1 and KH2. When she changes the form of her weapon, she is dedicating her sword point and one moon point to it.

For two moon points and two shield points, she shapes her Keyblade into its vehicle form; a giant vertical inverted shield-like shape that she stands inside of. It can hover and travel while she is upright in it; at top speed she points the bottom forward and is sitting up inside it- or on her back, asleep, as she was while hibernating. She can cast unassisted magic or spell cards while standing in it.

When her keyblade is in her hand, she gets a bonus point in Darkness while she holds it.

When she is wearing her armor, she gains another bonus point of Darkness.

Various skill options and examples will be shown as the story goes on. If I do a good job with that, then write in combos will be solicited later. If this story lasts that long.
[x] Someone suspicious

- [x] Komachi Onozuka

- [ ] "Good Morning! My name is Onozuka Komachi and I represent the Yamaxanadu, Shiki Eiki. It has recently come to our attention that you are about four thousand three hundred and twenty six years overdue on your soul . . ."
I just want to say, that while this story has started much differently than most on this site, I actually enjoy all the crossover components, and your writing seems flawless so far. Well, except for that second sentence.

>In your weapon cum chariot cum coffin,
What?

But anyways, you've got me hooked, and I guess i'll see how this suicide mixture tastes as it goes on.
From http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/cum

Conjunction

cum

Used in indicating a thing with two or more roles, functions, or natures, or a thing that has changed from one to another.

But instead of being a salesperson cum barista cum waitress merely serving the wordsmiths, I'm one of them, reading her latest baby out loud.
>>37768
What with you using "Citrine" before, I figured it was something like that, but damn that's just never a word i've seen used like that.
>>37769
IRISES
Citrine IRISES
fuck fuck fuck I messed it uuuuup
also because I am a moron and forgot this before making a wiiiide open choice:

No PC-98 exclusive characters for this choice, please. Make what deductions of that what you will.
[x] Someone suspicious

- [x] Komachi Onozuka

- [ ] "Good Morning! My name is Onozuka Komachi and I represent the Yamaxanadu, Shiki Eiki. It has recently come to our attention that you are about four thousand three hundred and twenty six years overdue on your soul . . ."

That works for me.
[x] Someone suspicious
- [x] Komachi Onozuka
- [x] "Good Morning! My name is Onozuka Komachi and I represent the Yamaxanadu, Shiki Eiki. It has recently come to our attention that you are about four thousand three hundred and twenty six years overdue on your soul . . ."
HA HA TIME FOR FIGHT
>>37773

Maybe she'll let us pay the fine. I mean...come on, it's only a few millennia late.
[x] Someone suspicious
- [x] Komachi Onozuka
- [x] "Good Morning! My name is Onozuka Komachi and I represent the Yamaxanadu, Shiki Eiki. It has recently come to our attention that you are about four thousand three hundred and twenty six years overdue on your soul . . ."

We hermit now
File 14050206324.jpg - (1.07MB, 3750x2625, newgensokyocoly.jpg) [iqdb]
37777
A cheerful-looking girl in a stylish dress and shoes with a coin tied on her belt returns your eye contact.

"Good morning! My name is Onozuka Komachi-"

Where have you seen that name before?

"-and I represent the Yamaxanadu, Shiki Eiki!"

holy crap that is a huge scythe behind her back

"It has recently come to our attention that your soul is about four thousand three hundred and twenty six years overdue-"

-you feel old now and oh yeah CRAP she's that shinigami-

"-for processing, judgement and reincarnation, so if you wouldn't mind coming along with me we can get this all sorted out right away!"

You have gotten to your feet while she was talking. You glance out behind her to either side, and see an abandoned street with doors and windows shut in each direction. You can smell her anticipation; she expects you to run or attack.

Your eyes widen in wonder and you lean forward eagerly.

"Oh, Onozuka-san! You're much prettier than that picture in the book!"

"Eh?" the shinigami blinks. Her heart surged for a moment at the compliment but was quickly pulled back into check. Uncertainty has blossomed. You resume your normal posture.

"While I appreciate your concern I must ask though; have I broken any rules regarding my lifespan?"

"Ah- well of course, you've altered-" she stammers as her gaze slips up to above your head, where she freezes, "your time of . . . death?"

She leans in and squints, then pulls out a scroll. You stand there patiently while she rolls through it.

"Your name came up on the list a month ago, I know I read your birth date right . . . this was supposed to be some easy extra credit; why doesn't your lifespan look tampered with?!"

"I only woke up from a long sleep a month ago. I don't know how long I was out."

The reaper freezes, her eyes sliding back to yours.

"You did one of those cryo-things? That's . . . uggh, that's-" she chokes out her next words, "-not technically cheating. You didn't actually live that time, then." She frowns.

You can't help a small amused smile. You won't dissuade her from her misunderstanding about whatever she's talking about. Suddenly, inspiration strikes you and you gamble.

"If it would help, I'd be more than happy to speak with your leader. Your diligence should be rewarded, after all!"

You are betting that she was trying to pull a fast one under the table. If you read that book right, weren't Kishin-somethings supposed to be the ones that come for people that have lived too long anyway?

The shinigami snaps out of her funk.

"Oh! No no no that won't be necessary I apologize for taking up your time pleasedon'ttellEikiIharrassedanothernormallivinghumanagainbymistakesorrysorrysorry!" She rapidly bows and backpedals a few times and then flies off. A bit of change clatters to the ground in her wake, which you discreetly scoop up.

You gambled and won, this time. You let out a breath you didn't realize you were holding.

You honestly have no idea if you are 'cheating' the laws of life and death in this place. Even if that is the case, you have a job to do before you fall.

You slip back inside your home. No one is going to fault you for staying inside today after a shinigami graced your doorstep.

After carefully changing back into your black coat, you open a Corridor of Darkness and dash through, popping out shortly thereafter just outside the village walls. You quickly make a lap around the outside of the village, bowing in acknowledgement to the various guards of the gates and other structures standing at their posts as you pass. You catch a whiff of the power a little bit before you completed your circle.

The trail leads . . .

[ ] Towards the Hakurei Shrine, to the East

[ ] Into the Myouren Temple complex on the southwest side of the village

[ ] Towards the Forest of Magic to the Northeast

[ ] Into the Bamboo Forest of the Lost to the South

[ ] Write-in (A general destination and direction, please)

[***]

~YOU HAVE GAINED ONE POINT OF SPACE AFFINITY FOR "DEFEATING" KOMACHI~

Poor Komachi, she got metaphorically stomped as the first easy-mode encounter in the story. Maybe she'll be back for revenge later?
[X] Towards the Netherworld to the South-East

Feel free to change the direction, I just picked one at random.

I was somewhat worried at how you were going to handle the write-in, but I see that it was for nothing.
[x] Into the Bamboo Forest of the Lost to the South

We need some time to go with that space!

Plus, I'm kind of curious about whether Heartless can even affect a Hourai Immortal. They're eternal and unchanging, after all!
>>37779
Time? SDM would be better for that, right? Also there's a fukken werewolf in bamboo.

Then again, Reisen. Waves. Waves == light.

Hell let's hammer out our touhou flavors! Add on to the list!

fire - moukou, patchy, okuu
ice - cirno
lightning - the taiko girl
flower - yuuka, maybe medicine, patchy
wind - ayayayaya, patchy
water - nitori, murasa, patchy
earth - tenshi, patchy
time - sakuya, (the immortals?)
space - komachi, sakuya, yukari?
illusion - reimu?
moon - keine, werewolf in bamboo forest, luna child, patchy, maybe the oni?
light - reisen, okuu, MARISA, patchy
nothingness - byakuren~
darkness - rumia. miko?, yukari? (kind of universal here)
If Manipulation of Eternity isn't Timey as all get out, I don't know what is. Though pretty much everyone in the Bamboo Forest is somehow tied to Moon in some way. You have the lycanthropes who're obvious, but Reisen's power inspires LUNAcy, and one could easily argue that both of the local Lunarians are strongly moon-related (though also tied to time, in Teruyo's case). Mokou is Timey, Fiery and has a pretty strong grudge against the moon.

Of the entities in Gensokyo, Sakuya and the Immortals seem to have the strongest ties to Time, though.

As for the PC-98 stuff... Did the world of PC-98 fall to the Heartless? Maybe Makai is involved, given Alice's interest in the opening cutscene. It's probably within Shinki's power to make a world anew if she really has to, though we know Makai must exist since Byakuren is around. Interesting, interesting.
[x] Into the Bamboo Forest of the Lost to the South
[x] Into the Bamboo Forest of the Lost to the South
>>37778 here

I didn't think of the moon connection of Eientei at all, so I'll be changing my vote to

[X] Into the Bamboo Forest of the Lost to the South
[X] Into the Bamboo Forest of the Lost to the South
[x] Into the Bamboo Forest of the Lost to the South
Awooo~
Calling it, then.

In other news, some friendly feedback has inspired me to switch up some habits; less direct reference to gamist elements, and more quoting the winning vote result at the top of each post. There was also some "show don't tell" in there as well, but it was more in reference to the gamist elements which were being mentioned outside of the narrative proper. I'll keep an eye out.
[X] Into the Bamboo Forest of the Lost to the South

[***]

You head south, passing a few relatively empty clearings as you approach the vaunted Bamboo Forest of the Lost. The wisps of power you detect are not altogether frequent, and only a bit of guessing and anticipation led you in this direction, to be rewarded with another trace or two.

The Black Coat you currently sport is designed to prevent precisely this sort of tracking. If your target had somehow been wearing one, you'd have taken a much more direct (and less characteristic) approach. From what you've learned about this place, that would have ended in tears for someone, and that someone might have been you.

As you venture deeper into the stalks, an animal trail makes itself visible. you step over to it, and your head spins. You lurch down on reflex and kneel, your power flaring. After a moment, you stand, gasping for breath.

You can feel it. You can feel this place trying to turn you. You stepped onto this trail and turned right; had you not noticed, you would have headed left- and completely scrambled your bearings.

This was the blessing and curse of the unlocked power of the heart; it occasionally acted outside of your control. Normally this was fine- the power would usually respond to your needs and supplement your conscious efforts. However, if your heart wasn't in it, your power might work against you at a critical moment. This was part of why you abandoned the war when you did; as your faith in the cause eroded, you realized you were like as not about to become yet one more statistic.

You chose dereliction of 'duty' over fighting your heart.

Duty. Heh.

Wandering further, you note an active spinning sensation at each faint crossroads. You ignore it, keeping an eye out for landmarks beyond 'yet another intersection.' Eventually, you realize you haven't caught a whiff of your target in a while.

This could be because you aren't following them, because they hadn't invoked the power while in this place, or both.

You curse and double back, whipping out your Keyblade and making differing angled cuts on a stalk of bamboo or two at the previous intersection. You banish the weapon, then re-summon it and repeat the process (after checking for witnesses each time). Finally you count back to the first intersection you found, and keep going past it, in the direction the forest tried to make you follow in the first place.

It doesn't take much time for you to find an extremely sloppy chopped section of bamboo. As you follow the plant carnage, you see the route cross over the clear animal paths time and again . . . and keep moving perpendicular to them. Whatever enchantments are on this place seem to focus primarily on the easily traversed ways, and not so much on the overgrown areas. You notice the carved path veering around awkwardly whenever an animal path is not in direct sight; correcting your earlier theory, you assume the misdirection is simply less overt here.

At one point you look up and gauge that it's noon from the sun. Now that the obvious compass reference is gone, you realize how the carved 'path' could seem straight to an uninformed traveler; it only changed directions at the crests of hills, such that from any given point if one looks back, they only see the path going straight back.

Insidious.

You come to another crossing over an animal path, and stop. The machete-clearing seems to turn left and follow the animal path, as if the blade's wielder simply ran down the path while holding out the blade, felling all the bamboo on one side. From that direction you faintly smell smoke and rage. To your right, the animal path leads on intact, with wisps of terror and glee. No trace of the dark power of a Keyblade is evident in either direction, but that just means such active power was not flared in this spot.

You hesitate. You know you look suspicious, and if pressed, your own Keyblade would be a clear candidate for the weapon that cut all this bamboo. You can think of reasons to go left, go right, and stay put for a bit.


[ ] Go left, towards the smoke and rage.

[ ] Go right, following the terror and glee.

[ ] Stay put and wait for a bit.
[x] Go left, towards the smoke and rage.

Terror and glee? Prey and predator. Not that unusual for a land filled with terrible beasties.
[x] Go right, following the terror and glee.
-[x] Note to self: Conceal Keyblade. When concealing is not possible, establish that it is not unique, or else you are going to get stuck with the blame for the random crap that's been gotten up to.
[ ] Go right, following the terror and glee.
[X] Go left, towards the smoke and rage.

>>37790

As per canon, keyblades are stored in hammerspace when not in use.
[x] Go left, towards the smoke and rage
Calling it.
>>37794
from what I played of the KH games I know keyblades are utterly broken when used right, could we for example use it to 'open' ourselves to the world, allowing a better understanding of it?
[x] Go left, towards the smoke and rage.

[***]

After a moment's hesitation, you turn left. You are following the cut bamboo. You have wronged no one, and if someone tries to vent their frustration out on you, they would deal with the consequences.

The path veers only slightly; this one is wide and relatively well tread. It opens into a small clearing, with a small burning building and a roughly dressed white-haired woman seething with red-hot rage. As you walk closer, you watch her gather power- true power, not the paltry little lights of danmaku, and lob a small, white-hot ball of flame into the middle of the burning shack. The baleful light glowed clearly despite the surrounding flames, and then it silently erupted, a wave of white-hot flame buffeting out, snuffing the lesser conflagration as it expanded. A moment later, the building was blackened and smoking, but no longer openly aflame.

The woman took a few deep breaths.

"Haven't had to fight fire with fire in a long time."

She steps towards the building, then pauses and turns to see you.

You smell her darkness, hot and impatient. Her tone of voice does not match her emotional state, however. She speaks calmly.

"You lost? You came at a bad time. Unless-" the heat in her heart surged "-you've come back to admire your handiwork?"

You shake your head and point at the cut side of the path.

"Following someone. Cut bamboo. Led here."

The woman's mouth opened and shut.

"They get you too?"

You shake your head.

"They took something they shouldn't have. They gained power, and they probably gained recklessness with it."

The woman's eyes narrow and she nods.

"Be right back."

She walks into the blackened shack and comes out with some scraps of paper.

"Would this power involve locks and seals?"

You suppress a flinch, and nod your head slightly.

She shows you the papers.

"Anti-fire seals. I got them pasted all over the inside of my house, the bed, the furniture. Got them stuck inside my locked drawers and chests. She gestures to her own clothing, which is covered in similar slips of paper. "Got 'em all over me too. I'm fireproof, but my stuff isn't.

"Apparently someone unlocks my door, waltzes in to my home, unlocks every sealed object in the place, then splits every single anti-fire seal in half. I wander in half asleep, crash on the floor, and at the first flicker of a nightmare I flare up in my sleep like usual, except this time in a minute my house is burning down around me." A corona of flame flashes around her for a second in demonstration.

Seems like a textbook case of Keyblade abuse. You consider for a moment.

"You have enemies?"

A dead-eyed stare washes through you for a moment, then she turns away again.

"You could say that."

When it becomes obvious she isn't going to elaborate, you speak again.

"The culprit I chase stole much alcohol from a strongly sealed storage shed in the village. Every seal was split like those."

She blinks.

"Huh? Matsuda's youkai-proof closet, you mean? He even bought some of these anti fire seals from me once. Even paid to have me demonstrate that I couldn't even heat up the inside, let alone burn it down after he applied them. Lotta nice booze in there. Who was it?"

You shrug.

"This morning every ward was broken and every lock was opened, and the place was empty. No one noticed anything during the night."

She gives off a low whistle then glances around, avoiding eye contact with you for a bit. Her heart is wavering, anger giving way into worry. Then she looks directly at you again.

"This . . . is some serious shit, then? I mean, I'm pissed that I got nailed, but anyone with a lockpick could have gotten in here and fucked me over. That shack though, that was no joke. Thing was enchanted so hard that any human not repelled by the anti-youkai wards would have set off other warnings in the guy's house. Even the Hakurei would have taken long enough to get seen busting in there. I've lived long enough to tell that much. If this jerk can pull that heist off, then they could get into stuff no one wants anyone poking around in."

You nod, then ask another question.

"Nothing was taken from you, then?"

"Naw, this seemed like another move by Kaguya at first glance. I was about to look for whoever did this, then probably march over to Eientei and-"

She blinks.

"I got nothing worth stealing, but they sure as shit do."

Her anger rekindles, boiling internally while her tone remains calm. The smell of ashes fills your nose.

"And I was probably about to cause the mother of all distractions over there if you hadn't shown up." She points at the trail. "You followed that in? I would have followed it out. Where did it come from?"

You explain as best you can, and the woman is less confused by your explaination than you thought she'd be. Hell, you're confused by it and you walked it.

"So a wild goose chase, which ends on a main illusionary path, which would have had me default to Eientei." She looks at the sky, then continues, "Which would have had me marching in there at about sundown, ready to burn it down. Or at least try. Right."

Illusionary path? So even with your sense of direction protected, you were still bamboozled by the forest. Tricky, tricky place.

She walks up to you and offers a hand.

"Mokou of Fujiwara."

Your translation magic jams on this, and you hear her verbal utterance of Fujiwara no Mokou supercede the translation. Some sort of title, then.

You grasp the outstretched hand and shake.

How do you introduce youself? Mokou sees you in your hooded coat outfit. She can't see your face, and won't know to associate you with your civillian guise at this time.

[ ] By name, Darejan.

-[ ] Show your face
-[ ] Keep your face hidden

[ ] By your old allegiance, Seeker of Darkness.

[ ] By personal sobriquet [vote below]

****

[ ] Your sobriquet happens to be [write-in]

Also no matter what you pick to do, toss in a sobriquet vote. Your sobriquet should probably invoke your element, your favored weapon style (rapier), or both. Darejan is a black ops agent. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Organization_XIII for example sobriquets in quotes after each member's name. The format of the Japanese translated ones (where they differ from the English) are probably more fitting.
>>37795

The greater your mastery of the keyblade, the more metaphorical crap you can accomplish, yes. However, Darejan is not a 'master,' and has not been granted certain knowledge as to the true nature of the power she grasps. She's very aware of the chaotic potential, and intuited enough to walk away from the War, but for the time being she is only going to be using the keyblade (when she uses it for non-combat) in more easily-comprehensible contexts; obvious locks and seals, things she needs to cut or bash, etc. She has a decent grasp on the operation of the human heart, and the ways a Keyblade could apply there; without deeper understanding though she's like as not to simply open a hole in someone's chest if she tries to 'open their heart.' Her sense of emotional 'smell' is extremely similar to a youkai's; they tend to be able to smell out their favored prey based on what they carry in their heart and what sins they have committed in certain contexts, after all.

Now, certain youkai are more likely to intuitively grasp the subtle potential of a keyblade than others. Darejan is not beyond growing a bit and learning something new herself, either.

As an aside, she recognizes Pureblood Heartless on sight, but doesn't call them that. They are the nameless shadows she alludes to.
[x] By name, Darejan.
-[x] Show your face
We'll probably need to trust someone eventually. May as well be the immortal phoenix chick.

[x] Your sobriquet happens to be "Lucent Mirror".
cuz
shields reflect stuff
and so does the moon
man I dunno I'm bad at this
[x] By name, Darejan.
-[x] Show your face

As much as it could kill our cover, not having any allies wouldn't do us many favors in a tough situation.

[x] Your sobriquet happens to be [The Silver Ghost]

Silver is commonly connected to the moon, while ghosts are supposed to not exist (in the outside world, anyways), kind of like what black ops are supposed to be. Though if anyone else has a better idea, go right ahead.
[x] By name, Darejan.
-[x] Show your face
[X] By personal sobriquet "Lucent Mirror"
-[X] Keep your face hidden
If i remember right we were trying to hide our identity and the fact that we have a keyblade of our own, so giving a sobriquet is better than our name and face
[x] By name, Darejan.
-[x] Show your face

She used her name and is showing her face like a normal person. Let's not go down the slippery slope of dark and edginess.
[x] By name, Darejan.
-[x] Show your face

Also supporting "Lucent Mirror"
Calling it.
[x] By name, Darejan.
-[x] Show your face

[x] Your sobriquet happens to be "Lucent Mirror."

[***]

For a very long second, your mind spins between your options. Tactical value clashes with basic human courtesy, and you decide to bank on the latter. You mentally review what you read in the book; Fujiwara no Mokou is immortal, and guides humans that get lost in this forest. Nothing was mentioned about fire. In fact, she apparently has spoken more to you just now than she usually ever does to random people. You grab the offered hand with your own while pulling back your hood with your other hand.

"Darejan. I'm new around here, relatively."

Mokou's eyes widen a bit as the handshake finishes. You feel her surge of shyness as her remaining suspicion melts to nothing.

"Ah, the one who appeared right next to the Village? Yeah, that was unusual enough for news of it to get to me all the way out here; let alone that you were Western." She freezes, then cuts herself off. She flares a bit of heated shame. "Uh, sorry, I rambled a bit."

You smile.

"Not a problem. I didn't really reach out much to anyone since I arrived. I've been keeping my head down waiting for-" you gesture to the burned house, "-this. In a general fashion, not for arson."

Mokou nods a bit.

"I guess that makes sense. Wow, Keine didn't seem to think you were anything but a busty ditz- ah!" she stops herself, flushing with another wave of embarrassment, "Sorry. I, uh, don't talk to people much."

You wave off the comment. She didn't notice your expression freeze at the mention of Kamishirasawa, and she let you know that the were-hakutaku bought your cover completely. On the other hand . . .

"Kamishirasawa-san mentioned me?" you probe.

"Ah, she's the only one I see on a regular basis. She keeps me up to date on stuff as it happens; I've been slowly trying to fold back in society. N-not that I'm nervous about it or anything, ahaha!" She scratches the bac k of her head like this, as a wave of anxiety washes over you. Whatever her circumstances, she's not cursing anyone for her isolation, and beyond her indignation regarding her home earlier, she seems remarkably forthright.

Forthright people are a blessing and a curse, in your business. But, as you keep needing to remind yourself, this isn't your regular business.

"Well, as much as I'd enjoy shattering everyone's misconceptions, I'd much rather keep my head down while we hunt down our little vandal. It's one thing to know you're going after them, but I'd like my pursuit to remain quiet if possible."

She nods, and I slip my hood back up. Then she tilts her head.

"Whoa, I can't make out your face at all," she says, then she holds up two fingers with a small flame in front of my collarbone to illuminate me. "Holy crap, that's creepy as hell!" She moves the flame back and forth a bit, then catches herself and steps back suddenly. "Ah, sorry about that. Something new, you know?"

While a hood that completely darkened one's face was not exactly common, you'd never seen a reaction of childlike curiosity regarding yours before. Fear, sure. Cautious inquiry, sure. But unrestrained wonder in the face of a magical item that was inevitably and obviously used for nefarious purposes? Immortality. Huh.

Then it hits you. No fear. Social anxiety, sure, but in Fujiwara no Mokou's heart there was not a single wisp of mortal fear. Your initial conversation with her was not typical of your previous first encounters with people while your hood was up. You're so used to reading hearts that you reacted to her emotional state without factoring in your appearance; without missing a beat you engaged as an equal without showing any fear or aggression of your own.

In hindsight it made sense, but you consider it the sort of thing you should have caught. However, she seems to have opened up a bit in response; the book mentioned she kept a guard up around people she was guiding and spoke little. Maybe they were scared of her and she noticed?

"So yeah," she starts as she heads towards the path you arrived on, "let's get moving so we can warn Eirin. I've been able to enter the grounds peacefully more often, recently. Hopefully that pattern holds for this."

You follow her, and decide not to ask anything personal. Before you can decide what to say, she lifts off and turns to you. You cough humbly.

"I, uh, can't fly. Like that, at least."

She blinks and sets back down.

"Oh! Uh, sorry, I just assumed. People that I meet that aren't lost can usually fly, it's just how it goes. My bad!" She touches back down and starts to jog. You follow.

You mentally note that this confirms a personal hypothesis of yours that you built over the last moth: Anyone who's anyone in Gensokyo can fly. Which means your intimidation factor is sorely lacking without that power; sorely lacking indeed. You won't be scaring anyone that can fly if they think that you can't. That said, you presently can fly, but only by morphing your Keyblade into mobile form at this time. It's always available to you, normally- but on the nights of a new moon you have to choose to give up either your preferred weapon shape or your mobility. Or both if there's some third form you value more than those two at the moment.

In any case, you'll have to pull out your Keyblade to fly at present. Fair-play danmaku will be prohibitively difficult if your opponent goes airborne and you don't, never mind actual mortal combat. Based on everything you've learned, deflecting danmaku shots is anything but fair play- but it's not technically illegal. Yet. That may or may not last, depending on when you first do that yourself, or when your target figures out it's possible.

Random paranoid thoughts fill you as you trail behind Mokou, and your mind travels to memories you'd rather forget.

Mokou leads you to a great clearing after some time, in which you see various bits of equipment strewn about. At the far end is a large mansion. You eye catches motion in a bush to one side, and a quick moment of focus lets you register a dozen or so nervous hearts desperately hoping to hide. Mokou waves at the mansion, and points to you; a moment later you see a glint of light from the roof and Mokou sighs with relief.

"Okay, kept my head, we're off to a great start."

You decide to not think too hard about that statement being literal or figurative.

As you both get to the entrance, you note that the doors do not lock. It's a pattern with these buildings; the doors tend to not have locks. It's disconcerting for you. It also makes it harder to track your prey; if they aren't forced to invoke their power they will leave less of a trail.

Mokou slides open the door and motions for you to go in first. You enter, and hesitate; your boots should come off as per the cultural norm. Mokou brushes past you, her own heavy footwear audible on the polished wood floor. Apparently she's not going to bother. You follow suit.

She stops at an intersection. Her heart wavers with trepidation.

"Ah, on second thought, maybe we should talk to someone else first. Visiting Eirin usually involves waiting, which is bad news today. Busting in to see her immediately would go badly for us. Reisen would probably present our case to her, but I don't know if she'll buy our theory, let alone relay it to Eirin without bias. Kaguya . . . well, Eirin will listen to Kaguya, full stop. Me getting within hearing range of Kaguya is risky if we go unannounced. Asking Reisen to take us to Kaguya is a calculated risk."

You feel her weighing her options. You ask,

"Um, I don't understand what the context is?"

A bit of shock, then a swirl of emotion.

"Ah, usually when I show up without anyone else, I sort of, uh, murder Kaguya."

"What."

"She's immortal! Like me! It's, ah, it's a thing. A game. Sort of. Just gruesome. A bit. But we heal right up!"

Suddenly her earlier mention of Kaguya makes sense.

"The game is mutual, then?"

She looks at you, surprised that you aren't recoiling- or surprised that you came to that conclusion so quickly.

"Yeah! Yeah, it was. Is. But it's been tapering off ever since danmaku got big. Now it's only really worth going lethal for a showy kill; something the other sees coming from a mile away but can't stop, or a super ironic weapon and location."

You are morbidly fascinated. Well, a bit. You draw a conclusion.

"So, choking to death on smoke from your own home burning down around you?"

She smiles slightly.

"Yeah, that's pretty damn ironic. We both know what happens if we fuck with each other's stuff overmuch, though. And she has a lot more flammable crap than I ever did. A killing? We heal right up, might need a new outfit. Wanton property damage? Less funny. Everything I own going up in smoke? That's, like, one of the last few berserk buttons I think I still have after all these years."

You sense someone approaching. Neutral emotions. You don't find that often.

"We have company," you nod towards the nearing presence.

"It's probably Reisen. Shit, gotta make a call, quick- um, uhhh-"

What do you do?


[ ] Suggest meeting Kaguya

[ ] Suggest meeting Eirin

[ ] Keep silent. Mokou's nervousness is increasing as (Reisen?) gets closer.

> and for any of those choices:

-[ ] Wait for (Reisen?)

-[ ] Avoid (Reisen?)
[x] Suggest meeting Eirin
-[x] Wait for (Reisen?)
Neutral emotions? That's totally Eirin.
[x] Suggest meeting Kaguya
-[x] Wait for (Reisen?)
[X] Suggest meeting Eirin
[X] Avoid (Reisen?)
[x] Suggest meeting Kaguya
-[x] Wait for (Reisen?)
[x] Suggest meeting Kaguya
-[x] Wait for (Reisen?)

My top three favorite IN characters in one go! Except Tewi. Tewi is tops in general. Still, gotta go for meeting the Teruyo.
Calling it.
File 140700979620.jpg - (294.02KB, 781x869, 377a8bbdf42e28a3ca06df581b99c76d3232edf2.jpg) [iqdb]
37813
[x] Suggest meeting Kaguya
-[x] Wait for (Reisen?)

[***]

Your heart rate increases a bit as you feel the presence get closer. Masking emotions like this is difficult without specialized equipment; such as your own coat. It would not do to aimlessly retreat from someone with either the mind or the tools to be opaque to you.

"I say we wait and let whoever it is guide us to whoever has the most authority. Don't act suspicious."

Mokou nods.

"Right. Okay."

You both stand there a few moments longer when one of the doors into the hall slides open and a young woman steps out. Lavender hair, red eyes, bunny ears- and she looks nervous. A long bag is slung over her back. Probably a weapon. Yes, she matches the visual description in the Chronicle-

It's her. No doubt about it. You cannot read her heart. She glances to you and then Mokou, bowing to each of you in greeting . . . then her gaze flickers back to you. You see her pupils contract, then dilate, and her ears each twitch slightly. You can't look away. The darkness of her pupils stretches bigger, and bigger, and you can't look away you can't move you can't think-

"-sen. Reisen?"

The bunny girl blinks, her eyes back to normalcy, and you gasp for a breath, stepping back. She blinks again, then flushes red.

"Ah- Mokou, ah, sorry, I just was looking at your friend's face there and couldn't see it and I guess got carried away and, um, sorry." She's now sweating visibly.

Mokou tosses you a look and you shrug. She turns back to Reisen.

"Uh, no harm done, I guess? Anyways, believe it or not I'm here to see Kaguya."

Reisen freezes in her apologetic bows for a moment and looks up at Mokou.

"You are formally calling on the Princess? Announced?"

Mokou scratches the back of her head and crosses one leg behind the other.

"Ah, yeah, I guess I am, ha ha. Something happened in the forest and I think it concerns her. My new acquaintance here can back me up."

Reisen straightens and her apologetic manner vanishes.

"If you are attempting to take advantage of the hospitality of Eientei for the sake of yet another childish assassination attempt, we won't be merciful, Fujiwara no Mokou." Her voice is no longer wavering and her gaze is steel.

Mokou puts her palms forward quickly.

"No! No! I swear it on my father's name! I'm here with a legitimate concern!"

Reisen's attitude breaks at that. Her mouth opens, then shuts. You are not sure exactly what passes between them in that moment, but the bunny girl frowns and nods.

"I will take you at your word, then. Please come with me, the Princess is in her room."

As we follow, Mokou quietly queries Reisen.

"I appreciate your understanding, but we can wait in a guest room for her like anyone else, you know? Eirin wouldn't approve of me being led directly to her chambers."

Reisen shakes her head without looking back, and responds.

"As shameful as it is to admit it, you have as much access to this complex as I do. If you so chose you probably could have infiltrated with little trouble and gained access to the princess at your leisure. Assuming you are serious in your business, then no further delay is acceptable whatsoever. Your sacrifice of the time for formal admittance is something I expect even the Princess will not dismiss lightly. Far be it from me to hinder you by a second more."

The rabbit's formal tone is audibly different than her initial greeting. It doesn't take us much time to arrive at another sliding door. You sense a single bored heart beyond it. Reisen slides it open slightly and speaks in without looking.

"Mistress, the party of Fujiwara no Mokou requests an urgent audience, bearing news for Eientei."

You register shock, suspicion, incredulity- and finally, boredom melting into eager anticipation.

"Really now? By all means, send her in. I am presentable."

"At once, Mistress," Reisen says while sliding the door all the way open.

Lounging half under a kotatsu, is a long haired brunette wearing what I can only assume are her nightclothes. Long flowing silk pajamas shift as she turns to face the door properly. However, she makes no move to stand, let alone sit up or make any motion of greeting. A faint smile graces her lips and a wave of confidence washes through her, dissolving any hesitation, uncertainty, or doubt she had clinging to her heart.

Royalty.

You stand straight, hands behind your back, and make no move to offend after stepping in behind Mokou. Reisen slides the door slowly behind you.

As she does so, Mokou wordlessly slides under the opposite side of the kotatsu without missing a beat. You hear Reisen make an indignant sputtering sound just before the door shuts completely, but she doesn't say anything. You hear her walk away quickly.

'Kaguya,' or the Princess, as you have identified her, just grows her smile by a degree.

"My, how uncouth. Do your tidings involve finally confessing undying love to me after all these centuries, Mokou?"

You feel a flare of . . . something intense in Mokou's heart at that jab. It isn't love or shame or anger- or at least, you can't make anything specific out. It is rapidly quenched.

"Nah, nothing lame like that. Someone raided my house and wrecked all my fire wards."

Kaguya pulls a hand fan out from below the kotatsu and opens it, covering her mouth. You feel the amusement bubbling up. Mokou continues:

"So I didn't notice, came home, hit the sack, had a nightmare, and flared up."

Kaguya's eyes barely conceal their mirth. Her heart spins with malicious glee. She speaks.

"So you come here to slander me once again? How typical." Her heart surges in preparation.

Mokou waves a hand dismissively.

"Nah, that's not the important part."

Kaguya raised a single eyebrow slightly, as her heart stuttered in confusion. Mokou continues.

"The important part is, whoever did it zapped every ward I had, then laid a false trail leading back to Eientei. Way I see it, someone was planning on having me march in here to try to burn the whole place down around sunset, taking advantage of me being a big flashy distraction."

Kaguya's fan didn't move and her expression didn't change, but in the seconds after Mokou finshed all traces of amusement faded. In its place rose a very cold and slow rage.

"Oh? And they think we would fall for such a ploy?" Her tone and demeanor has not changed in the slightest; she is a professional.

"They have the ability to open any lock and break any seal, silently and without obvious or flashy magic," you speak up.

Kaguya blinks, and turns her attention to you.

"My, but I have been terribly rude; I apologize. I am so used to being rude to Mokou on reflex that I didn't realize that the one following her in couldn't possibly be a servant, as she doesn't have the means or charisma-" Mokou rolls her eyes at this point, "-to retain loyalty. As such, you have my apologies." In a motion much much too smooth to not be practiced, she is out from under the kotatsu and formally bowing a bit in greeting. "I am Princess Kaguya Horaisan, Mistress of [The House of Eternity]. I also apologize on Mokou's behalf for not introducing us properly." She bows again, deeper this time. Mokou is flabbergasted.

You feel a flicker of Kaguya's victorious thrill (for yet one more insult delivered, apparently) before it is lost amidst that cold rage again- and a new, thin buildup of suspicion.

You bow in kind, precisely as low as she bowed to you the first time.

"I am merely a resident of Gensokyo trying to recover some stolen property, and at this time it behooves my interests to hide my identity until I have secured the culprit. I believe that the thief used my possession to vandalize Fujiwara-san's home, in addition to other larceny in the Human Village last night."

You stop talking when you realize Kaguya's fan is once again hiding her mouth, but now her eyes are wide and her heart is surprised. Mokou looks like she just ate a bug, and is about as grossed out, emotionally.

You blink at her.

"What? What did I say?"

Kaguya's confusion ebbs again. Mokou coughs.

"Before, when you first spoke up, it was normal. Then when you were talking to Kaguya, you were speaking like she does, like you had a huge royal stick shoved up-"

"-like a cultured woman of the royal courts," Kaguya interrupts, "but then when you spoke to Mokou directly just now you matched her ignorant peasant dialect quite perfectly."

Oh. Shit.

Mokou and Kaguya's respective class differences revealed a flaw in your translation magic; you will flawlessly speak the language (and dialect) of whoever you speak to, within limits. At the very least, it prevents misunderstanding. Apparently the speech each of these two employs differs enough that particular care to wording changes meaning. Subtler, higher class speaking styles do indeed tend to hide layers of figurative subtext.

Oops.

"I apologize; my translation magic automatically adapts to my audience, however wide or narrow it is."

Mokou nods sagely.

"Yeah, Kaguya is pretty wide these days-mmph!"

A pillow silences her. Kaguya speaks again.

"Regardless! You think your stolen property will be used against Eientei? Then I formally convey our thanks and as such and I will personally guarantee we will endeavor to subdue any thieves with their equipment intact."

And now it gets complicated.

"I appreciate your consideration, Lady Kaguya. Unfortunately, my primary concern is not so much recovering my property as it is isolating the culprit and purging their memory of the technique."

"Technique? Then . . ."

You sigh.

"Yes. I maintain the ability to accomplish any of the feats I claim they can accomplish, plus more. I wish to stop them from learning more from what they stole, and hopefully prevent an Incident."

There is a silence at this, as Mokou and Kaguya digest the new information. Kaguya speaks first.

"Any ward, seal, or lock?"

You nod. Here it comes!

"Would I be amiss to request a demonstration?"

You strive to keep the exasperation from my voice.

"I would prefer to not be witnessed directly, but I can defeat any such security freely. If you have a chest or lockbox?"

"Ah. Then . . ." Kaguya closes her fan and taps it on her chin for a moment, "Yes! There is a red chest in he back of my closet. It is . . . secure against fire, and other means of opening it. If you could bring out the object inside I would dismiss any doubts."

Mokou raises an eyebrow herself, then shrugs.

You have no reason to refuse. Kaguya points you to the door, and you walk into a large closet. Sliding the door shut behind you, you see the chest on the floor, far in the back past rows of neatly hung fancy clothes. You step up to the chest, and before you summon your Keyblade you wave your left hand, invoking elemental darkness. An opaque cloud billows out from your palm, clouding the room and blocking the sight of any hidden observers. With a quick flash and a tap, the lock clicks free and you hear the chest open. You dismiss your blade and dispel the darkness, reaching down and grabbing the envelope. It reads "To Mokou" on it. You return to Kaguya's main room, and her expression is of wide-eyed shock, eyes dancing from you to a screen on one wall that had been hidden from view before. It listed a number of layers of security on the very chest you just opened, apparently.

You hand her the envelope and return to your former position, back to the door. She sighs, and hands it to Mokou.

"Your victory this time, Mokou."

Mokou accepts the envelope, and with an odd expression, opens it.

[CONGRATULATIONS: YOU GET NOTHING!] graces the paper.

"Huh?" Mokou asks.

Kaguya waves a hand dismissively.

"I was building up that chest to potentially hold something embarrassing, and I was going to trick you into going to great lengths to secretly infiltrate my closet and defeat it, only to be humiliated when you wasted all that effort and ill-mannered trespassing for nothing. I would have then sold the footage of your breaking and entering to the tengu. Unfortunately that game has been defeated before it began. Well done, miss." She nods, and you return the gesture.

You almost jump out of your skin when a slow clap begins behind me. Before you land you are spun around and in a defensive crouch, ready to deflect or attack.

Two figures are standing in the now-open doorway. When did they- Reisen Udongein Inaba from before, and a silver-haired woman of- of-

Neither of them are registering to your heart sense.

You shake your head and look again. They are both wearing what seem to be transparent ponchos over their other clothes. The new woman is obviously Eirin Yagokoro. The pattern on her outfit matches the shading of the sketch in the Chronicle, as does her hairstyle and face. But that doesn't matter right now.

What matters is that she is looking at you with indiscernible intent while completely void to your heart-sense. Reisen is as well, but she still looks nervous. Before, the rabbit girl was muffled but still detectable; now she is utterly snuffed out. Reisen no longer carries her long bag on her back, but Eirin has hew bow and quiver on hers.

"Very well done, indeed," Eirin remarks as she claps.

"What the hell are you two wearing? Expecting a storm from a teacup or something?" Mokou's voice cuts through your hesitation.

Eirin breezes into the room.

"Hardly. Reisen simply reported the interesting fact that one of our guests was utterly opaque to her special vision. After a few passive scans with the security sensors, I figured that her coat was responsible, and whipped up a quick prototype based on what I had found. I'd have to have a bit more hands-on time to replicate it quickly, but according to Reisen these seem to blind her wave-sense to all but conventional optical and sonic waves. I had never though to research down this branch before, but the fact that someone already has just means I need to catch up and surpass them!"

As she speaks she wanders around Kaguya's room, waving around a small device in her hand. She opens the closet and walks in.

Kaguya sighs and speaks towards the closet.

"Eirin, we've been warned of a likely theft attempt, aren't you concerned?"

Eirin makes some interested humming sounds from the back of the closet, then comes back.

"Oh, that? I heard everything."

What, how?

"I already have Tewi calling all hands to battle stations. Reisen has amplified the Forest's aura and disabled the clear zones on the paths. On the assumption that the warning is legitimate, no force will reach Eientei unchallenged, however small or powerful. As you are currently honored guests, our protection and support extends to you two as well."

At this point a perfectly mundane looking white rabbit hops by the doorway, a green army helmet in its head. Everyone watches it pass by in silence.

Mokou has a bit of a lost expression on her face, but you don't let that stop your reply- but you don't dance around your message.

"Likewise. As a guest, my full strength will be used to minimize damage."

Eirin smiles at you, and you desperately wonder what she's feeling. You feel crippled without your heart-sense; it's almost never been countered.

After a second she nods to you in turn.

"A fine choice of words, cloaked one. In the event that damage to Eientei is necessary for the prevention of greater harm, well, I will be sure to extract whatever value I can out of our theoretical assailant in turn. That is, after you finish with them at least." At that, the moon sage's lip quirked up a bit. Perhaps a private joke.

You and Mokou exchange another look, and she stands, the posturing standoff with Kaguya completely broken. Before either of you can speak, there's a loud crash, and a small girl with short brown hair and white rabbit ears come tumbling into the room, rolling to a stop. An appropriately sized army helmet rolls in after her.

Tewi Inaba is currently limp with a bump on her head, and her heart is an oblivious mess from being knocked out. As the occupants of the room all look out the way she came in, a Tewi-sized hole in the wall of the hallway across from Kaguya's door revealed yet another hole in the wall beyond it.

Eirin was already massaging Tewi's neck, and she shuddered to something resembling consciousness. Mokou had already moved with Kaguya to the hallway, but a word from Eirin halted them.

"Hold. Let's get some intelligence from Tewi before we go running off."

Reisen looked like she wanted to say something to that, but she held her tongue.

With a groan, Tewi faded back into consciousness.

"Did anyone catch the number of that truck?"

"Tewi. Report." Eirin was not in the mood for comedy, it seemed. Alas, comedy was what she got.

Looking around a bit, the injured rabbit gave off a bit of a frightened laugh. Her heart was awash with a bit of shame and fear.

"Ah, ha ha, they came . . . from behind?"

The rest of the room save you sighs as one. Eirin lets go of Tewi, whose head lands on the floor with a thump.

"Ow!"

"You'll be fine." Eirin shifts her attention to the rest of you. "Hot pursuit it is. Reisen, you take point. I'll head outside to cover the exits. Mokou and her friend, if you would be so kind as to support Reisen? Kaguya, stay here."

The princess huffs.

"Don't wanna."

Mokou bites her lip and follows Reisen out without a word. You copy her as an argument brews behind you. Reisen slides open another nearby door in the hallway and pulls out a very intimidating-looking rifle. Mokou lets out a low whistle and nods. The two of you fall into step behind the moon rabbit as she starts to rush through the holes that Tewi's body had punched, tearing them wider as she goes.

You shake your head a bit as you continue to be slightly disturbed by the fact that you can't sense Reisen's heart while she's wearing that poncho. Not that you got much information from it before she donned it anyway, but it was the principle of the thing. Mokou's heart was slowly warming with the excitement of pursuit and thrill of an upcoming fight, if you had to guess the context for her current emotional state. Various other rabbits with their own tiny hearts make themselves known to you as you follow Reisen. Finally, the series of Tewi-shaped holes comes to a stop and she scans the room as you and Mokou slow and stop behind her.

"Tewi was probably slacking before the alert, and came in here to suit up." You look at the low racks of dozens of tiny rabbit-sized helmets, plus a couple larger ones on a higher shelf. Reisen continues, "I can't directly scan for them through walls; cloaked one, would the target have one of those coats?"

"Impossible," you reply. "They should have no way of hiding themselves unless they already had a similar ability before they gained the new power."

Reisen nods in reply and leaves the room through the proper entrance, gun pointed ahead. You lean over to Mokou and whisper.

"Hey, whatever happened to danmaku? That gun does not look like a nonlethal weapon."

Mokou shrugs.

"Inside of Eientei? In Eirin's territory? As long as your brain is intact, nothing is actually lethal here. As long as Kaguya has time to freeze you in a moment, Eirin has all the time she needs to fix you before your life gives out. I'm sure Kaguya has enhanced a bunch of this equipment to do just that."

Reisen confirms.

"Mokou is correct. While she has some resistance to the power of eternity being used against her, more mundane trespassers are less lucky. Not that we see many true trespassers, though. Quiet, please. We are reaching the storage rooms."

Conversation stops as you turn down a corridor with a dead end. On either side there are three doors.

Reisen holds up a hand and you and Mokou stop as she slides forward. You feel it, then- a sharp spike of glee as someone behind the last door on the right exults in their accomplishment.

You step forward and place a hand on Reisen's shoulder. When she glances back in annoyance you point sharply at the door. Her red eyes search for yours for a moment, then she nods and abandons her motion to secure the first door on the left. As you step back and she levels her gun at the door in question, it is whipped open and a shape leaps out.

It's not a cloak like yours. It's dark blue, and has a hood, but you can see the mouth and bottom of a chin unshadowed. The intruder is taller than Tewi, but shorter than Reisen. The cloak, mundane as it is, hides its figure. In its left hand is a bottle, ostensibly of some alcohol or another. You can feel the heart clearly; shock and fear and the fading glee. Before you can speak, before you can caution, Reisen has adjusted her aim and a single shot rings out.

The intruder reacts.

Their right hand snaps out and in it appears a Keyblade, in a swirl of clear liquid. It resembles a bottle opener. with the 'teeth' being the actual business end of such at a 90 degree angle. That's all you determine in the fraction of a second needed for the bullet to be deflected and strike Reisen.

The rabbit girl is frozen in front of you. However, she wasn't totally neutralized; you can feel the target's heart surging with random turbulent emotions. They are still holding up their blade in a guard, but they are quickly losing control of their heart.

That is dangerous.

You step out from behind Reisen and the target notices you for the first time. The wildly churning emotions all instantly realign to fear. Pure, unadulterated fear.

You raise a single finger and point at them. They panic.

They dash back into the room they came from, you and Mokou rushing after them. As you round the corner and enter the room, you feel it; the pure desperate longing of the culprit's heart to be somewhere else.

Oh, no.

"Stop them, NOW! They'll escape!"

Dashing between shelves of various jars and bottles and crates, you hear the footsteps and sense the gathering of darkness.

If this chase is what inspires them to figure out Corridors of Darkness, I will not forgive myself.

Mokou had dashed down a different row of shelves, and yelled out.

"I see them! Wait, what the hell-" You hear a splash.

You dive through an unstocked gap in a shelf and roll to your feet a bit behind Mokou- who now reeks of alcohol as liquid pours at her feet.

You feel her calming down rapidly, desperately trying not to ignite the mess. She turns to you sheepishly.

"Ah, I won't burn, but this whole place would go up and beyond annoying Eirin, you'd get toasted too, I think."

You nod as you dash by, getting a clear view of the target as it surges in fear once again. It turns, and at the furthest reach of the row, a small ball of blackness forms. The warped darkness roils and grows, and a dark mist begins to pour out.

The target turns back to you, turns to the budding corridor, and dives into it. It closes as you get up to it, and you curse in frustration.

"That . . . that was an escape trick, I take it? Damn."

You have greater worries, now. Reisen and Mokou both saw a Keyblade. Mokou you aren't worried about. Reisen will report to her superiors.

It has begun. A process you have personally and purposefully started a number of times yourself; the introduction of the Keyblade to a community, and the agitation of various elements that coveted its power. Be it out of academic curiosity or raw personal ambition, people would tear each other apart for that might.

As you hear running, you turn to see Reisen coming up behind Mokou, and she seems to sense the mood.

"I felt a long range wave pattern I've never detected before. It- it pierced the whole Forest. They're gone, aren't they?"

You nod.

[***]

A bit later you are outside of Eientei with Mokou and ready to leave. She, at least, is now clean and dry and no longer reeking of booze. Kaguya got in a few jokes at Mokou's expense before Reisen announced precisely what bottle the thief made off with; while meaningless to you the info shut Kaguya right up and caused Eirin to drop the pen she was using to scribble notes at the time.

With assurances that the full might of Eientei would happily back you if you got a lead on the culprit again, you are courteously seen off; Mokou walks you out of the Forest and you both chat for a bit before you head back to the village.

"So, what will you do now?"

You sigh. There's no need to mislead her.

"I'll probably just wander around in my normal clothes. I will recognize them on sight now if they aren't using a cloak like mine or the things Eirin and Reisen were wearing. I have something like Reisen's senses; I can 'smell' them. Since they are terrified of seeing me in what I was wearing when they stole from me, I am assuming they have no idea who I am outside of this coat. I'll just use that to my advantage and see if I can't chase them down again; but now that they can teleport, they won't be leaving a clear trail for me all across Gensokyo. I will have to be hot on their trail when they are heading somewhere they've never been, or I'll have to get lucky and randomly encounter them undisguised, probably."

Mokou nods.

"Well, you know my feelings on the matter. I'll probably be crashing at Keine's place until my shack's rebuilt; I don't really care about the elements but she'd never let me hear the end of it if I slept in a half burned house."

You tilt your head.

"Won't you burn down her place too?"

Mokou flushes with embarrassment.

"Ah, I did help her get some anti fire charms set up around her place, and, uh, I don't tend to have nightmares as much when I'm near her. Yeah."

You smile, though she can't see it.

"Then have fun with that, and maybe I'll see you in town!"

"Yeah, sounds good! And good hunting!"

You wave, and begin your march to a hidden place where you can open your own Corridor of Darkness back directly into your home.

Unseen by you, a figure leaning behind some bamboo just out of sight peers around to watch you go. It then salutes you, and turns back to walk into the forest.

"Best of luck to you in that, lady."

The figure walks a few more steps then flinches.

"Ow! My freakin' head!"

Rubbing its bruised cranium, the petite figure ambles back home.

[***]

You have gained the respect of Mokou and Reisen. You have the thanks of Princess Kaguya, the curiosity of Eirin, and the blessing of Tewi.

Currently, your best bet to find the culprit is to encounter as many people as possible. You don't even have to interact, just get near enough to sense their heart and you'll know. If you cross their path on the way to a new crime you'll have a chance to chase.

What do you do tomorrow?

[ ] Visit Mokou and Keine

[ ] Case other places in the village you have not visited yet

[ ] Pay your respects to the Hakurei Shrine

[ ] Visit Myouren Temple

[ ] Go elsewhere.

- [ ] Where?
[x] Visit Myouren Temple

Lots of people there.
[x] Pay your respects to the Hakurei Shrine
Booze twice now? Might be the oni, assuming the hood covers the horns because magic.
[x] Visit Myouren Temple
[x] Visit Myouren Temple
>>37813
[X] Pay your respects to the Hakurei Shrine
Hm. An apparently water-based elemental affinity, an interest in sneaking around and unlocking things that should be impenetrable, and an association with keys.

It might just be one of our friendly neighborhood Kappas, too!

[x] Pay your respects to the Hakurei Shrine

Because Reimu has a right to know that there might be things going on in her territory.
>>37819
>an interest in sneaking around and unlocking things that should be impenetrable, and an association with keys
I thought that was caused by the keyblade?
[X] Pay your respects to the Hakurei Shrine
[X] Pay your respects to the Hakurei Shrine.
-[X] Ask the shrine maiden if she knows any particular places in Gensokyo where shadows or darkness tend to congregate. It might be a good place to start searching.
[X] Pay your respects to the Hakurei Shrine.
-[X] Ask the shrine maiden if she knows any particular places in Gensokyo where shadows or darkness tend to congregate. It might be a good place to start searching.
Calling it.
Sage goes in the email field.
I was under the impression that if a tripfag has no name before their trip typed in the name field, then saging will not work. Am I mistaken?

(this post was saged)
This thread ha been at the top of the board for ages since it's the only active one, so it's impossible to tell!
>>37826
Saging prevents the post from being bumped, no matter what's in the name field, be it blank, name or trip.
You can leave only your trip in there and still stage.
why couldn't the OP bother doing a basic check on touhou facts? Wouldn't it be easier to just make it an original thing rather than turn touhou in name only?
>>37829
This isn't the right place to ask, so I'll give you the short version.
It's the setting. Writing a story in an already existing universe is easier than creating your own.
That said, there are more than just this one reason, but please ask in /blue/ instead, as it's more appropriate, thank you.
>>37829
Ahahaha, oh my. I have been drowning myself in wiki information and research and reading other THP stuff over the last two months as preparation. I will not purport to be perfect or anywhere near such. If I slipped up on a fact or two after more or less coming in blind when I began this enterprise, shame on me, I guess. As a newbie to THP I will state I am trying, and if there is criticism to be done I'll take it. I didn't come here expecting a kind or gentle reception- this is more or less one of the harshest places to write for that I am aware of. That said if there is an appropriate place like /blue/ for such commentary feel free to at least post a link to it in this thread. I admit to some curiosity as to what 'basic touhou facts' I have flubbed (beyond mixing up what info was or wasn't in the Chronicle, such as what does come to kill humans who have lived too long; all it says is Shinigamis don't kill).

I picked KH because its elements seemed to interact in a fun way with Touhou elements, and Gensokyo is more than capable of dealing with KH-levels of bullshit. The OC doesn't realize this, and so is acting horribly cautious. As time goes on, I was planning of increasing the import of stuff; this first encounter was as close to a 'freebie' as we were going to get, with further options having more chance to piss someone off, somehow. I am more than aware that sometimes stuff doesn't go according to plan.

I know enough Touhou to understand that there are as many interpretations of the cast as there are writers, and I have tried to read virtually every last canon manga that I could find; I think all I have left is a little bit remaining in the Three Fairies of Light stuff. I walked in here knowing I wasn't going to please everyone with characterization.

But enough of me blathering on. If you're going to call me out, anon, please be specific and fire from both barrels! In the appropriate place, that is.
I don't know what that guy's talking about, so far this deviates from canon far less than most stories on here.

Unless he comes back with specifics just ignore him.
black_tewi.jpg
>>37831
>>37832
I also have no idea what >>37829 is talking about. I have absolutely no familiarity with KH and I'm still thoroughly enjoying your story. That's all that really matters, so even if you had make mistakes, I personally would have been to busy enjoying the story to care.
I don't know what that earlier guy was talking about, I just know that I've been enjoying this story and want to see more of it.
>>37829
I can only assume that this was posted in the wrong thread.
I'm guessing it's the Kaguya/Mokou interaction, which while nontraditional is hardly unprecendented. It's also interesting, which frankly is the important bit.
[X] Pay your respects to the Hakurei Shrine.
-[X] Ask the shrine maiden if she knows any particular places in Gensokyo where shadows or darkness tend to congregate. It might be a good place to start searching.

[***]

The next morning you wake up and consider your options while putting away your futon. Wandering around aimlessly searching for the culprit is fine and all, but this is going to get worse before it gets better. You should probably come clean to the local authority . . . or at least, as close to clean as you dare.

Whether they take you seriously or not is their problem.

With that, you venture out in your street clothes and head out of the village along the path to the Hakurei Shrine. It's an uneventful trip for the most part, until you sense three small-yet-eager hearts just off the path, in a tree. A casual glance revealed nothing, but your nose has never been wrong before.

As you pass by the tree, you feel the illusion fall over you. The smell awakens old reflexes and bad memories.

You were just subjected to an illusion of Light.

Your Keyblade is in your hand as you pivot and follow through with a wide diagonal swing. The shaft deforms, bending as if it was made of rubber; then the top half flings out, stretching out like taffy as the teeth turn forward and shrink, embedding themselves sharply in a branch of the tree in between two of the three hearts which are still utterly invisible to your eyes. However, that doesn't matter. You prepare to rip the branch free, then stop.

The illusion drops. Three figures appear sitting spaced out on the branch; they are frozen in terror. Wings? Girls?

Fairies.

The four of you are motionless for a moment, then you flick your wrist, recalling your weapon to its default shape. It vanishes in a swirl of blackness and you walk on- but not after making a dismissive grunt.

You don't need to crush anyone here. Even if they use Light to mislead and deceive. Your war is over.

It's over.

[***]

Your mood has not improved as you finally reach the stairs to the shrine. The thin, barely-visible path spreads out to a clear walkway and then becomes a relatively wide and well-kept set of steps. As you begin to climb you try and fail to divert your mind away from thoughts of light and dark. There are many things that Light can directly accomplish or enhance that Darkness cannot; convincing illusions are but the tip of the iceberg. Users of Light cannot be trusted precisely BECAUSE they seem so appealing; they will trick you into supporting a cause against your own interests and have you thanking them for the privilege. Or at least, that's what you saw with your own eyes more than once. Just as you know there were at least a few decent people on the other side, your own force had its share of miscreants.

You'd like to think that your side was unified in its desire to support independent empowerment, but the suspicions you developed towards the end led you to think that both sides had more in common than you had ever dared imagine before. That didn't change the fact that you could see yourself drinking with most of your own factions and virtually none of the other; just that the hands pulling the strings of each side of that conflict may have been closer to each other than you ever dared to suggest in anyone else's hearing.

These thoughts swirl about in your head, and as you make it to the top of the stairs and pass under the torii you realize you completely forgot to mentally review how you wanted to approach the priestess- ostensibly the mightiest being in all Gensokyo.

As you step forward, a voice rings out.

"HALT! Who dares approach the Hakurei Shrine!"

Rumors of swarming youkai and the miko's fraternization with such beings made no mention of access to the shrine being anything but public and open. You swallow your annoyance and reply.

"Um, I'm just a human from the village? Come to see the miko?"

You see a large shadow move inside the paper wall to one side of the shrine proper. A moment passes, and the voice bellows forth again.

"A MERE HUMAN DARES TO APPROACH WITHOUT AN APPOINTMENT? This is not some two bit tourist attraction! This is the Hakurei Shrine, home and workplace of the Wonderful Shrine Maiden of Para-"

A second shadow looms, and a hollow thump is heard.

"-OW! Reimu, why did you-"

"Sukuna. Cut it out."

"But I was just-"

"Shut it. Also, how were you so loud?"

"The Mallet can make my voice super big if I don't make the rest of me bigger!"

"That's stu- actually no, it makes sense. Stupid sense."

The paper wall slides open and the crimson and white clad eponymous Wonderful Shine Maiden of Paradise walks out, something small dangling from her left hand.

She walks over to you, expression neutral, then places the dangling figure onto her right palm.

A tiny girl with a round hat bows to you.

"This Shinmyoumaru Sukuna humbly apologizes to the honored guest for her disgraceful behavior and will endeavor to work harder to provide a welcoming and accepting environment for all petitioners to the shrine henceforth."

Her heart isn't in it.

Before you can react, the miko pokes her in the head.

"You're full of crap, and were just bored. Don't do it again." With that, she plucked the tiny figure and flung her back over her shoulder. She looked like she was going to hit the ground, but took off and arced smoothly back into the open door into the living space once again without incident.

The miko watches her go, and turns back to you. A cool, uninterested gaze scans you.

"So, how can I help you? Youkai extermination? Return to the Outside?"

You bow and introduce youself.

"Ah, yes, my name is-"

"REIMU! I CHALLENGE YOU~!"

You stop short and feel the wave of irritation from the priestess, which matches your own.

"Sorry about this. One moment, please."

A black and white figure swoops in over the treeline to one side of the shrine, faster than you can focus. It is glowing with excitement and enthusiasm. Almost without effort, you feel the barrier manifest between yourself and the miko, its transparent wall smooth and unyielding to your probing hand.

The invader banks rapidly to avoid what is probably the far side of the barrier, and reorients to face Reimu. The priestess pulls some papers out of a sleeve, and almost listlessly flings a stream of ofuda at the attacker. Said attacker dodges the obviously telegraphed projectiles, and makes to let loose with another taunt-

-but, your attention is on the miko. The miko whose heart just opened up a sliver, leaking equal parts annoyance and eagerness, tumult and peace, anima and animus, yin and yang. The raw power that she just casually invoked with such muted emotions. This- this is beyond what you had expected, even after reading the books.

The world twisted inside the barrier, and the assailant that was just dodging the seals was suddenly on ground level, on course to blast right past Reimu. Two objects dropped out of the miko's her sleeves into her hands, and in one smooth motion she spun, releasing them to both orbit around her- and in her single 360 degree turn, they inflated in size and remained on exact opposite sides of her. Her right arm pointed up, then down, and one of the orbs maneuvered likewise, slamming down onto the black and white blur just as it passed next to her.

With a bone-jarring thud, the figure was pinned, a crashing and clattering sounding from the far end of the barrier as a broom fell to earth. You stand slack-jawed. If this girl got her hands on a Keyblade, she'd be able to destroy the world.

You calibrated your mental power scales with a steep divide between 'those that are powerful with a Keyblade" and "those powerful without one." While it takes effort and training and practice for most of the Keyblade's power to manifest through a given person, magic was another thing entirely. A Keyblade could rapidly bring someone's magical power from 'zero' to 'formidable.' If they had magic already? There was a reason a conflict with few dozen Keyblade users on each side was classified as a War, with a capital W. Magic was that reason. Your imagination is currently flashing apocalyptic possibilities at you, and your face is gradually turning white.

"Oi! Reimu! Orbs are cheap! I thought we agreed no orbs in friendly morning matches!"

The miko looked down at her opponent with doom in her gaze.

"We agreed you wouldn't scare off customers."

"Customers? Bullshit, you don't have- AUUGH!"

The orb rolled over her roughly, allowing her a clear view of you. Its partner moved in the opposite direction, still hovering in the air above the priestess' head.

Marisa Kirisame. Thief. Magician. Troublemaker. Her fake anger quickly faded to embarrassment as she noticed you standing there wide-eyed. She averts her gaze and her tone shifts to subdued instantly.

"Ah. My bad, Reimu. Lunch on me, then?"

The orbs shrank and shot back into Reimu's hands. She stretched her hands above her head, and you noticed them drop into her sleeves as she did it. The barrier dissolved.

"Lunch, and you brew this morning's tea. Get going."

"Yes, mistress. Your wish is my command, and all that~"

She gets up, dusts herself off, and straightens her hat, making sure to avoid eye contact with you. She calls her broom back and wanders off to the living space behind the shrine.

Reimu turns her attention back to you, and sees your expression. You feel her burst of regret and frustration get clamped down into nothingness. Her bored expression reasserts itself, and she dismissively gestures back towards Marisa.

"Yeah, sorry, happens a lot. So, what do you need?"

[***]

How do you come across?

[ ] Terrified and respectful. You don't even have to fake it much!
-"Ah, haha, yes, Good morning my name is Darejan Suketakagami and I represent the Seekers of Darknessohgodpleasedon'tkillme!"

[ ] Nonplussed and informal, like her. Curb your fear, match her impassive expression with your own. Allow your annoyance at the delays to bleed through. Try not to look scared again.
-"Uh, yeah. I'm Darejan, and I heard you like to be kept informed when crazy stuff goes down?"

[ ] Formal and respectful. Act like you just saw nothing at all. Make your request properly.
-"Ah, yes, my name is Darejan. I am here to report what might be at worst an Incident in the works, or at the very least an unconventional criminal that gained a dangerous artifact."

[ ] Something else
-write in, specify tone, image you are projecting, and initial wording.
You will get around to asking Reimu that side question, just not until the conversation is going in earnest.
Er. FYI, nonplussed doesn't mean what you think it does.
non·plussed
nänˈpləst/
adjective
adjective: nonplussed; adjective: non-plussed; adjective: nonplused

1.
(of a person) surprised and confused so much that they are unsure how to react.
"he would be completely nonplussed and embarrassed at the idea"
2.
North American informal
(of a person) not disconcerted; unperturbed

was going for the 2. usage there. whoops.
>>37839
Start off with a quick
[X] Terrified and respectful. You don't even have to fake it much!
-"Ah, haha, yes, Good morning my name is Darejan Suketakagami and I represent the Seekers of Darknessohgodpleasedon'tkillme!"
But when you realize halfway trough your hasty explanation how disrespectful you are change to
[X] Formal and respectful. Act like you just saw nothing at all. Make your request properly.
-"Ah, yes, my name is Darejan. I am here to report what might be at worst an Incident in the works, or at the very least an unconventional criminal that gained a dangerous artifact."
[X] Formal and respectful. Act like you just saw nothing at all. Make your request properly.
-"Ah, yes, my name is Darejan. I am here to report what might be at worst an Incident in the works, or at the very least an unconventional criminal that gained a dangerous artifact."

I'd rather have just this.
[x] Formal and respectful. Act like you just saw nothing at all. Make your request properly.
[x] Formal and respectful. Act like you just saw nothing at all. Make your request properly.
-"Ah, yes, my name is Darejan. I am here to report what might be at worst an Incident in the works, or at the very least an unconventional criminal that gained a dangerous artifact."

We're all professionals here.
[x] Terrified and respectful. You don't even have to fake it much!
-"Ah, haha, yes, Good morning my name is Darejan Suketakagami and I represent the Seekers of Darknessohgodpleasedon'tkillme!"


You guys are so BOOORING, I swear to god.
[x] Nonplussed and informal, like her. Curb your fear, match her impassive expression with your own. Allow your annoyance at the delays to bleed through. Try not to look scared again.
-"Uh, yeah. I'm Darejan, and I heard you like to be kept informed when crazy stuff goes down?"

Mirroring is always a decent choice. Keep your panic to be vented later when you're sure nobody is watching.
[X] Formal and respectful. Act like you just saw nothing at all. Make your request properly.
-"Ah, yes, my name is Darejan. I am here to report what might be at worst an Incident in the works, or at the very least an unconventional criminal that gained a dangerous artifact."
>>37847

How is the choice least likely to result in bullshit, and most likely to result in more delicious PLOT boring?
[X] Something else
“What would you say if I told you that someone had gained a powerful artifact which power they’re currently abusing?”
[ ] Formal and respectful. Act like you just saw nothing at all. Make your request properly.
-"Ah, yes, my name is Darejan. I am here to report what might be at worst an Incident in the works, or at the very least an unconventional criminal that gained a dangerous artifact."

Probably the best idea in this case. If she wants us to be less formal or more information, she'll probably bring it up.
[x] Formal and respectful. Act like you just saw nothing at all. Make your request properly.
-"Ah, yes, my name is Darejan. I am here to report what might be at worst an Incident in the works, or at the very least an unconventional criminal that gained a dangerous artifact."
>>37849

Are we sure this is the right approach? Given what Darejan observed in the previous snippet, putting Reimu in a position to get a Keyblade herself could make things go from bad to worse.

The issue I have is that we're just reporting the problem to her. She might get it in her head to just take matters into her own hands. I think we should instead say that we are working to resolve the potential Incident, and just want her help to track down the culprit.
>>37865
Presumably when she asks 'Dangerous? In what way, exactly?' we'll tell her about the whole 'drives you completely batshit bugfuck insane' thing.
>>37869

I think the Keyblade doesn't actually cause any sort of insanity, and it's more someone being irresponsible with the powers it gives.

>>37865

You... Have a point there, actually. If she does decide to solve this by just taking the Keyblade then, if I'm understanding this right, by picking up someone else's Keyblade one could possibly summon their own.

I'm not sure exactly how right I am though...
[x] Formal and respectful. Act like you just saw nothing at all. Make your request properly.
-"Ah, yes, my name is Darejan. I am here to report what might be at worst an Incident in the works, or at the very least an unconventional criminal that gained a dangerous artifact."
>>37875
You are correct. As demonstrated in the KH game Birth By Sleep, Keyblades are contagious; they can be spread on purpose or by accident. Pick one up, and assuming you have the right kind of personality and are put in the right situation, you'll manifest your own eventually.
calling it.
[x] Formal and respectful. Act like you just saw nothing at all. Make your request properly.
-"Ah, yes, my name is Darejan. I am here to report what might be at worst an Incident in the works, or at the very least an unconventional criminal that gained a dangerous artifact."

[***]

You shake your head quickly once and take a deep breath. Letting it out, you regain control of your expression. You maintain eye contact and smile again, forcing yourself to drown out your imagination. This girl in front of you?

She could take you in a straight fight.

She would utterly dominate you in danmaku.

Neither of these facts are relevant at all to your current business.

Before your pause becomes awkward, you continue.

"Ah, yes, my name is Darejan," you start, bowing in greeting, "I am here to report what might be at worst an Incident in the works, or at the very least an unconventional criminal that gained a dangerous artifact."

An eyebrow rises. Skepticism rises with it.

"Oh? Do tell." I don't need my heart sense to know I have a small and shrinking window to convince her.

"The robbery in the village two nights ago was followed by an additional one yesterday at Eientei. I was present for this second crime while tracking the culprit."

Her interest is piqued, mildly.

"The artifact was mine, is mine, and allows-" you hesitate, trying to find the perfect wording to convey the urgency, "-the manipulation of seals and gateways."

"Manipulation of seals and gateways?" she repeats.

"In the same sense as the manipulation of borders," you clarify, while holding her gaze unblinking.

"The same sense of . . . what do you mean, that's Yukari's-"

You nod.

"Simple sentence. Nightmarish implications. Abstract applicability as skill increases."

She holds your stare, expression unchanging. Her heart is rocking between revulsion, horror, and desperation. With this last one she ebbs and speaks again, her voice sounding much more dismissive than she feels.

"You're full of crap. That's preposterous, Yukari would swoop in and kick someone like that out the moment she noticed them. You," she squints a bit, "you're that westerner from last month, right? The one that landed in the paddy? Why didn't you come right here about this? Huh?"

She's hoping you fumble and turn out to be a kook.

"Well, everyone spoke about the poorly maintained path and the youkai that would harass anyone coming to visit you, so it seemed like a poor idea."

In the living space, you sense a third heart you hadn't picked up on previously jolt with irritation.

"The last thing I wanted to do was bother the authorities over what might have turned out to be a simple case of missing property." You feel your white lies seep into Reimu, her dread growing proportionally to her belief.

Time for the finishing blow. It felt good to use your skills at manipulation for a constructive cause, for once.

"In any case, Fujiwara no Mokou can attest to the capabilities of the artifact and culprit. Her house was burned down after the thief destroyed her anti-fire wards and tried to frame Princess Kaguya for it. They seem to be stealing valuable alcohol for now, but petty theft is only the beginning. If I can secure the artifact, we can hopefully stop them from doing anything permanently harmful; at the very least we can recover it before someone dangerous defeats them and takes the artifact for themselves."

I had her. The final sentence spun her into a rising frenzy of emotions.

"Borders and gateways. And seals. All at once. She'd never leave me alone."

You allowed yourself a mental cheer, then focused on her rambling. There would be a perfect point to snap her out of it for maximum suggestibility coming up soon enough-

"Oi! Reimu! I thought you just clobbered liars!"

-but instead it all starts tumbling down.

Your glance shifts behind the miko to the small figure sauntering up to the two of you, swaying a bit as it does so.

Well, small as in child sized this time, not as in tiny. Two horns on her and a gourd in hand. You review the last minute in your mind and realize that spikes of irritation had happened each time you lied.

Wonderful. It was about to all go to hell. Suika Ibuki was both a friend of the priestess and a hater of lies, as an Oni. You hadn't anticipated her presence, and even if you had, you weren't aware that she was a fully fledged natural lie detector. You wouldn't have done anything differently.

She has you dead to rights- and if the mildly smug expression on her flushed face is anything to go on, she knows it, and knows you know it.

Anger wells up inside you. First those fairies, then the delay with the duel, and now this?

Your emotions flash boil over into rage, then evaporate completely, leaving you almost totally calm. There is one way to salvage this. It isn't a sure thing, but it is the best you can think of on the spot.

You turn and lean over towards the newcomer with a smile.

"Now now, run along little girl, adults are talking! I'm sure you can go play with your friends!" That last bit was a lie.

Flash of indignation and annoyance? Bullseye.

Distracted from her warning to Reimu by your ignorance, audacity, and more, the oni turns to look at you directly.

"Buzz off, liar. Reimu doesn't need to waste her time on your tall tale."

Your smile grows the slightest bit. You stand back up straight.

"My, aren't you a bit . . . short-tempered?" A lie, as you are perfectly aware that her nature is contributing to her attitude towards you right now. Doesn't mean she didn't just try to ruin your plan, though. Bitch. You weren't even lying about the critical parts. "I'm asking the Hakurei Miko for a small favor, and there's no time for minor distractions like you to interrupt us." A one-two combo.

This isn't convincing Reimu you were being honest. It's not doing the opposite either. What it is, if the sputtering oni is any indication, is distracting her from the voiced accusation with the patented insanity that is a human taunting an oni directly to its face.

"You- you! Think you're so slick with your, your greasy-"

"If you have nothing substantial to say, please leave- as cute as your tiny tantrum is, baseless accusations are not how real adults solve big-people problems." And we have ignition.

The oni gapes at you for a second, glancing to Reimu but turning back to you before the unusually quiet miko could respond.

"You- you have no idea, do you?" Totally incredulous. She takes a slow swig from her gourd, popping the cap back on and slowly lifting her right knee in a telegraphed stomping motion. She yells, "I'M IB-wa-wa-wa!"

As her foot shot down to shake the earth in a primitive show of force, you casually opened a small corridor of darkness directly underneath it. When she brought it down, it passed through the target impact point and she stumbled forward, directly towards you. With a smooth motion, you step forward and kneel, catching her before she falls.

With you hands on her shoulders, you look directly into her eyes as she regains her balance.

"I know exactly what you are," you begin. She grins in anticipation of your recognition. "You are drunk."

A beat passes.

Her head tilts to one side a bit, then the other. She seems to strain to focus on you. When she speaks again, it's slow and quiet; you can smell the incredibly strong alcohol on her breath as it brushes over your face.

"Are you . . . picking a fight?"

She seems like she can hardly believe it.

[***]

[ ] "Just a small one. Three cards." (Fighting Suika will improve your mood and let you blow off some steam, win or lose)
-[ ] Keyblade only; don't reveal your full bag of ticks, and rub it in her face that you held back after it's over. Assuming you win, that should blow her mind. Perhaps enough to have her clarify.
-[ ] Go all out, Keyblade and armor. Victory is your priority, because you are going to make her clarify precisely what you were lying about to Reimu, restoring your credibility at the cost of showing your hand.

[ ] "No. I was just trying to politely avoid a small distraction." (Taunting Suika further might not be wise, but you've already convinced her you are not quivering in fear. She might just drop it)
[x] "Just a small one. Three cards." (Fighting Suika will improve your mood and let you blow off some steam, win or lose)
-[x] Keyblade only; don't reveal your full bag of tricks.

This will work perfectly. How do people make friends in Gensokyo? By dueling, of course!
Whether we win or lose, we can make nice with the oni afterwards if we don't rub it in her face. Then again, she's an oni and might respect that sort of strength. Though if we do lose, don't mention that we were holding back - that's just being a sore loser.
I don't know how much Reimu will believe our story given that Suika already screwed us over, but we'll see what she thinks after this fight.
[X] "No. I was just trying to politely avoid a small distraction."
Pointless fights are pointless. Better say no, though I think we can go without taunting her.
[x] "Just a small one. Three cards."
[x] "Just a small one. Three cards." (Fighting Suika will improve your mood and let you blow off some steam, win or lose)
-[x] Keyblade only; don't reveal your full bag of ticks, and rub it in her face that you held back after it's over. Assuming you win, that should blow her mind. Perhaps enough to have her clarify.

Man this personality thing is annoying. Or it would be, if it wasn't so much fun.
[x] "Just a small one. Three cards." (Fighting Suika will improve your mood and let you blow off some steam, win or lose)
-[x] Keyblade only; don't reveal your full bag of ticks, and rub it in her face that you held back after it's over. Assuming you win, that should blow her mind. Perhaps enough to have her clarify.
[ ] "Just a small one. Three cards."
-[ ] Keyblade only; don't reveal your full bag of tricks

>bag of ticks
Eww why does she have that on her.
[x] "Just a small one. Three cards."
-[x] Keyblade only; don't reveal your full bag of tricks
[x] "Just a small one. Three cards." (Fighting Suika will improve your mood and let you blow off some steam, win or lose)
-[x] Keyblade only; don't reveal your full bag of tricks.

[***]


You lightly push off her, hopping back, manifesting your Keyblade and whipping it into its rapier-shape in a single flowing motion. The point is level with Suika's throat, and she staggers back a bit to avoid swaying into it after you disengaged.

"Just a small one. Three cards."

The horned girl blinks, then throws back her head and laughs.

"Right. Right! I accept! One small duel, coming up!" She raises a hand, and a barrier snaps into place. Suddenly, the characters [伊吹 萃香] appear, then [萃まる夢、幻、そして百鬼夜行] glowing in light behind her on the 'wall' of the barrier. It takes a moment, but [Ibuki Suika] and [Forgathering Dream, Illusion, and thus a Night Parade of a Hundred Demons] resolves in your mind.

My, but isn't that a mouthful.

"Liars and cowards have no right to speak up! I'll crush you quickly!"

You close your eyes and reach out your senses. If it's something everyone can use . . .

There.

[Darejan] [Lucent Mirror] appears behind you. Suika spits to the side and cracks her knuckles. The odd chains dangling from her clothes lengthen, and three shapes appear at the ends of them. You feel her heart surge with confidence and certainty.

"Heh. Never heard of you. EAT THIS!"

Oni God: [Missing Purple Power]

You grin.

You know that feeling. You've inspired it a dozen dozen times over your life. It is the culmination of your art, your discipline. On some level, absolutely everything you do during a mission indirectly adds up to the same pattern: Convince the mighty that their victory is at hand, manipulate them into using their full might, and then hit them with their own strike.

Your blade is pointed up, now, in a salute. The oni has dissolved into mist, which is growing into a much bigger cloud. This doesn't bother you, because you feel the familiar tugging in your heart. In your left hand, a card appears, and you toss it forward.

"Breaking it already? Guess it's worth it," mutters Reimu under her breath.

Not quite. Your grin turns feral

The card spins in the air before you once. You thrust at it, striking it precisely in the center. Its face, a hollow green triangle on a black field, flashes to blank white as you declare:

Key Sign: [Reaction; Moon, Moon, Space, Darkness, Darkness - Oni God: [Missing Purple Power]]

A pattern and character you don't see replaces the front of the card, and Reimu's eyes widen a bit on taking it in. You feel yourself dissolve, and for a moment you are disoriented. However, you are grounded again in time to hear Suika's latest taunt die on her lips.

"-o's littlest now, you- wait, what?"

And you finish reforming, staring down at the still-diminutive Suika's gaping expression, shit-eating grin firmly plastered on your face.

"It's you!" you boom, while pointing your blade (down) at her. "The littlest oni is you!"

For once, her indomitable confidence wavers. A wave of empty bravado fills the gap in her heart quickly, however.

"That- you cheapskate copycat! I don't even need to be bigger to thrash you!" She lashes a hand in front of her and a small constellation of danmaku sparkle into existence and fly forth. Large as you are, dodging is not exactly feasible- but you're still running on your own copy of Missing Power. You match her motion wit hthe opposite hand and a mirror wave of danmaku erupts, perfectly countering hers.

As the fireworks explode between the two of you, Suika stomps once. Reimu doesn't seem to stumble.

"Oy! What's so beautiful and meaningful about being a plagiarist! Even freakin' Marisa at least changed the name of that Spark after gankin' it, right?"

Before Reimu (tiny, tiny Reimu!) could respond, you simply slash your blade behind you without turning, pointing at your title glowing on the wall.

Without hesitating you then dash forward, clearing the distance between the two of you in a second- not hard since you're both huge and the barrier didn't grow in size with you. Your blade, which was still up and behind your right side, comes down in a slash; one that Suika simply ignores as you strike, one arm rearing back to counter.

"Swords can't cut me, idiaaAUGH!"

Your Keyblade phases through her like a hot knife through butter. Tiny illusions of crescent moons and globs of quicksilver blink into and out of existence in your weapon's wake, but no damage is visible on Suika's flesh.

As it should be. The spell card system allows for the conversion of all magical phenomena and most physical ones to transcend mortality and harm, merely scoring a 'point' and reducing the victim's stamina proportionately. The caveat was that, if not an actual danmaku, a given attack had to be capable of landing a valid blow on the opponent to even register. To Suika, human-wielded weapons are like raindrops. Thankfully, the Keyblade is not physical and is no mere weapon, either.

You leap backwards in a flip, but the counter never comes. When your blade passed through her, you felt her heart ring like a bell, albeit a muffled one. You're too busy to parse the tones for meaning, but from the look on her face she seems to be stunned. She shrinks back down to normal size in a puff of mist.

Perfect.

The stage is set, the opponent is confused, and you have the advantage.

You press your advantages.

Switching gears now, the amusement fades from your expression. You feel the spell card about to wear off, and the shrunken Suika is looking up at you, breathing heavily, her expression evaluating.

Next move?

[***]

You each have two spell cards left. Suika has taken one hit. Three hits loses. Any hit with no spell cards left loses. Your initial strategy played off wonderfully; you goaded her into using a trump early, copied it, then beat her at her own game by correctly inferring that as a mighty being she rarely if ever got into fights with things as mighty as she is.

Which you are not, for reference. You just have the ability to copy your opponents' magic if you have compatible magic 'free.' Also of note, you can only use a spell card once in a duel, so Key Sign: [Reaction] is no longer an option here.

Once your card expires, you will have...

2 Moon (3 natural -1 for rapier form Keyblade)
2 Darkness (1 natural, +1 from Keyblade)
1 Space (natural)

...free, allowing the following spell card options:

[ ] Heartless Sign: [Tranquil Darkness] (-2 Darkness for duration)

[ ] Heartless Sign: [Almighty Darkness] (-2 Darkness, -2 Moon for duration)

[ ] Moon Sign: [Ever Shifting Trickster] (-2 Moon, -2 Darkness for duration)

[ ] Darkness Sign: [Dark Break] (-2 Darkness, -1 Space for duration)

[-] Key Sign: [Reaction] (cost varies)

Extra info: Your point of Moon committed to your Keyblade ups your ability to deflect and attack. If you use your single Space element for a spell card, this reduces your ability to dodge. However you are still perfectly capable of deflecting blows. [Tranquil Darkness] summons some minor minion-options as a distraction while leaving you Moon points to enhance danmaku and physical strikes. [Almighty Darkness] summons stronger minions that are smarter and faster, leaving you as the distraction. [Ever Shifting Trickster] allows you to stay mobile while filling the air with bullets. [Dark Break] will let you teleport behind your opponent once in the middle of a pattern, all but guaranteeing a clean hit on the non-clairvoyant. There is no advantage to leaving your Darkness unspent at this time.
If this is actually a vote for the rest of the fight, not just a single vote for the next card, I would use these two in succession at an appropriate time in the fight.

[X] Heartless Sign: [Tranquil Darkness] (-2 Darkness for duration)

[X] Heartless Sign: [Almighty Darkness] (-2 Darkness, -2 Moon for duration)

In that order. I'll bet on the chance that similarities between cards, but a different attack will throw her off enough to get the points we need. If not, oh well.
I'm guessing regular Shadows for Tranquil Darkness and Neoshadows or Invisibles for Almighty Darkness. I think I see a problem, though. If I'm reading this right, using a Spellcard uses up energy, and all of our Spellcards require 2 points of Darkness. The problem is, we've only got 2 points of Darkness available so once we use our second card, we won't be able to use another. I could be wrong, though.

With that in mind, I say "Tranquil Darkness" is our best bet.
>>37905
Energy is only committed for the duration of the spell card; it reduces your passive buffs available while the spell card runs.

Your two points of darkness comes back after any card, and none of your passive buffs rely on it right now, so there's no reason not to spend it.

I have given the options she can cast that are most likely to work; she will try to use them at the right time. This was to be a single card vote, but voting for two in succession to set the pace is a perfectly valid option.
[x] Heartless Sign: [Tranquil Darkness] (-2 Darkness for duration)
followed by
[x] Moon Sign: [Ever Shifting Trickster] (-2 Moon, -2 Darkness for duration)
Make her mad, spam her face.
Hmm...

I wouldn't count on being able to hit Suika with Dark Break. If nothing else, "hit 'em from behind" is not unprecedented among Gensoukyou spellcards. "Manipulation of density" probably covers things like the air, too, so she could tell where we were by the air we displace.

So:

[X] Heartless Sign: [Tranquil Darkness] (-2 Darkness for duration)

followed by

[X] Heartless Sign: [Almighty Darkness] (-2 Darkness, -2 Moon for duration)
[X] Heartless Sign: [Tranquil Darkness] (-2 Darkness for duration)

I'd like to see where this actually gets us before deciding on the second card.
>>37912
Agreed.

[x] Heartless Sign: [Tranquil Darkness] (-2 Darkness for duration)
[X] Heartless Sign: [Tranquil Darkness] (-2 Darkness for duration)
Calling it.
File 140847247834.png - (5.42KB, 64x96, Tranquil_Darkness_(card).png) [iqdb]
37917
[X] Heartless Sign: [Tranquil Darkness] (-2 Darkness for duration)

[***]

You bring your blade down while lunging forward, and Suika dives to the side, stumbling a bit. She tosses a row of bullets at you but a quick shift of your weapon blocks them easily.

You shrink back down rapidly, and see she's crossing her arms in front of her, loading up another wave of mundane danmaku. Neither of you have taken flight, and she feels impatient; she wants you to use your next card.

You oblige her after running out of the path of her latest barrage. A new card appears in your off hand which you promptly thrust in front of you, where it hovers obediently. A red card with a crowned top, it features a picture of a solid black creature's head with round solid yellow eyes. You spear it with your weapon and call its name.

Heartless Sign: [Tranquil Darkness]

It turns into a glob of blackness, which drips to the earth at your feet.

The splatter of blackness spreads outward, with wisps of rich purple floating up from it. Once it's about two meters wide, the wisping stops, the puddle breaks into a dozen smaller ones, and each inky patch becomes one of the creatures depicted on the card. They all inflate up from two dimensions, amble around for a few steps, and look like they are sniffing. Each one is roughly Suika's size- though stunted in body with overlarge heads, sharp looking claws, and wiggling antennae.

In their own alien and unnatural way, you find them adorable.

With a gesture of your hand, they all fall still, then spin to face Suika, who has braced herself for a fight and has two of her shape-anchored chains in her hands, slowly twirling one around.

Rather than rush her on foot, the nameless shadows all sink back down into two dimensional flatness and coast along the ground towards her at speed. She dances backwards, and to the side, trying to crush them as they get close with her flailing chains but not seeming to damage them despite many direct hits. Finally they spread wide enough to get around her and converge, with a couple popping up behind her and jumping to grab her from behind.

"Nope!" She takes off into the air, two of the little creatures colliding into each other silently and hitting the ground in a daze. They are popped by danmaku without ceremony.

Hovering in the air, Suika watches the shadows all sink back into the ground and fade to nothing beneath her.

"Ha. Guess you aren't so hot after your cheap trick after all." She pulls out a spell card of her own and holds it up- only to yelp in surprise as the first shadow creature falls by her and grabs one of her horns. Soon it is raining pitch-black bodies, each fading into existence as a puddle on the ceiling of the duel barrier and tumbling down directly above her head.

"Wa-wa-hey cut it out!" A second one grabs her other horn, and she is suddenly upside down in the air; apparently her flight technique lifted her by her center of gravity and didn't spend as much energy stabilizing her-

Suika rockets forward, down to the ground, then blasts towards you at full bore. The two shadows clinging to her horns hold on, but the two that landed on her after that were blown off. She is leading with a fist. With an effortless twirl you deflect her charge, sending her bouncing back on her butt.

A second later the rain of shadows resumed on her head directly while she's shaking it, trying to fling her first two passengers off.

"Screw this!" The spell card in her hand vanishes and a different one appears, which the thrusts forward as the dogpile of creatures builds.

Spectre -Sparse-

The pile of shadows exploded, dozens and dozens of tiny Suikas blasting out from underneath them. Tiny little voices cried out in defiance as the situation reversed, with Suikas dangling from antennae and biting arms and legs- and sometimes burying an unfortunate shadow under a full pile of herself.

You slashed a few that got near you, and they vaporized into mist. You dash into the chaos, your foil-shaped keyblade inflating into a large, wider paddle. You start swatting the Suikas not currently attacking a shadow, striking them directly or knocking them into their peers. A generous number of danmaku accompany this, quickly exterminating a large number of them before they notice what you're up to. As each shadow falls, a new group gets targeted, their screams of surprise cut short as they popped back into mist, which was beginning to obscure visibility.

The final shadow was about to fall, and you were already running towards it- or at least, you though you were. The mist is so thick it's impeding your motion; you know you've fallen into a trap. The mist squeezes your head, then swirls around you and wrenches your head backwards as Suika reforms, your skull firmly in her grip.

"Game over. ONE!"

You are lifted, then slammed into the ground face first. Outside of spell card rules it would have crushed you, but instead an impression of your face is now in the dirt. You feel the 'hit' register, and then are lifted back into the air.

"TWO! Aaaaand THREE!"

Two was a gut punch sending you flying. Three was the impact on the far wall of the barrier.

Or at least, it was going to be, but you wrenched yourself out of the arc of the throw and back-flipped off of nothing at all with a burst of dark power, landing lightly on your feet.

"Tch," Suika spits again. "You're gonna make me work for it. FINE! Show me what you've got!" She manifests a spell card in each hand, and waits, swaying.

A healthy disrespect for the shadows, an extreme unwillingness to let me freely get into melee range of her real body, and the confidence of finishing this fight in one more hit. All the conditions have been cleared.

Final move?

[***]

[ ] Heartless Sign: [Almighty Darkness] (-2 Darkness, -2 Moon for duration)
(Suika will probably underestimate them, and Darejan just proved she doesn't have any sixth sense that detects their silent, massless bodies.)

[ ] Moon Sign: [Ever Shifting Trickster] (-2 Moon, -2 Darkness for duration)
(Classical Danmaku pattern and dodging- use it after she uses one of her cards if you don't think you can hit her twice. If she uses one of her cards, that is.)

[ ] Darkness Sign: [Dark Break] (-2 Darkness, -1 Space for duration)
(Wait for her to use her last card, then hit her in the back.)
[X] Heartless Sign: [Almighty Darkness] (-2 Darkness, -2 Moon for duration)

I voted this last time, And I honestly think i've gotta stick with it. I'm doubtful that ever-shifting trickster can do much against her, with it being standard danmaku, and i'm just not convinced about Dark Break. But hey, if she's that unwilling to let us get close to her, then maybe a free teleport in Dark Break may be what we need. Might be, but I still think Almighty is the better choice.
[X] Heartless Sign: [Almighty Darkness] (-2 Darkness, -2 Moon for duration)
[X] Heartless Sign: [Almighty Darkness] (-2 Darkness, -2 Moon for duration)

>>37918
I like this anon's reasoning, so I'll vote for it as well.
I'm curious to see what Heartless gets summoned by Almighty Darkness, so that's where my vote is going. I get the sinking feeling it's just going to be a bigger swarm of Shadows, though.
[x] Heartless Sign: [Almighty Darkness] (-2 Darkness, -2 Moon for duration)
[x] Heartless Sign: [Almighty Darkness] (-2 Darkness, -2 Moon for duration)
Calling it.

ADVISORY: UNANIMOUS VOTE DETECTED
Your heart is certain. Your path is sure.
>>37924
I can't not hear this as sung to the opening bars of "You're Beautiful".
[x] Heartless Sign: [Almighty Darkness] (-2 Darkness, -2 Moon for duration)

[***]

You face her for a few seconds, trying to decide how best to goad her into a move. While she's holding the cards, she can't actually shoot danmaku. If you were in her place, you'd just save your last card (and the extra hit it grants you) while peppering with mundane bullets, but apparently this little demon doesn't want you to have the chance to get close.

That suits you just fine. A burst of small dark fireballs erupt from your hand, which she sidesteps easily. You rush her and she gyrates her hips once, swinging two of those chains at you. Two flicks of your blade and they go flying back at her while you close in further. One hits her in the forehead, knocking her on her back- but you're not so green as to assume her follow-up rolling backwards somersault is uncontrolled. She just looks off balance; her drunken swaying and staggering has been a constant in this fight. It's just an illusion.

And you had one surefire tool with which to fight illusions.

As you leap forward once her motion stops, she grins and begins to fade into mist again; you halt your advance and flip backwards twice, avoiding her foggy grip. Danmaku form in the mist and lazily floats towards you, but your window is already open.

Twirling around a few incoming stray bolts, you produce your final card. You are absolutely certain of victory, now.

Dropping it to the ground, you thrust your keyblade through it, plunging it all the way to the hilt as you sink to one knee. You feel the burst of power erupt from the tip of your Keyblade, even if it's hidden from the view of the others.

Heartless Sign: [Almighty Darkness]

The pool of blackness forms faster, and end up larger than the previous one. The wisping is similar, but with more dark blue tones along with the purple. You stand and withdraw your blade, allowing your absolute desire to win to pour from you into the void at your feet.

Victory. Progress. Success. You will have them today, and none will gainsay you. Your desires have been steeped in your power, and the darkness that you have brewed responds.

Twelve taller, more humaniform shadows with long, jagged antennae rise up as one around you. Dark blue veins are visible along defined, muscular-seeming limbs. Oversized hands They are all facing Suika, and do not appear confused or disoriented for even a second.

Twelve? You were expecting three or four. Six if you were lucky. You felt no doubt, no wavering or conflict in your mind; you had absolute control over the shadows. You've seen your former peers control even more, but only in more general ways; directing the attack vector of a swarm, or calling for an overall attack or retreat.

You feel as if you could make these twelve dance.

Suika is, as predicted, unimpressed.

"Just another group of critters? Feh. Once again, not even proper danmaku. Looks like we'll do this the easy way!"

She leaps up into the air. One card in her hand vanishes, and the other is thrust forward.

"This is what danmaku should be like!"

[Night Parade of One Million Demons]

Overlapping spiral waves of danmaku cascade down upon you. Cursing silently, you crane your neck up and start to avoid what you can, but your deftness with your blade has been negatively affected by your own spell card, leaving you with only your heightened spatial awareness to help you predict incoming fire.

It's not enough.

You can feel your minions leaping and twirling away from their own share of bullets, but a couple still get hit and dissolve into fumes. You're cutting it closer and closer, but your certainty has vanished from your heart.

Thankfully, the darkness didn't get the memo.

One of your shadows tackles you, and you go careening into a second one- but instead of hitting the ground, you splashdown into blackness. You hear the muffled explosions of danmaku striking the surface of the 'puddle' you just sank into.

Sight is useless here, but you can smell them, neutral presences of pure darkness; power without intent, potential without will. Except they did have will, for now. You imprinted it on them.

Grasping clawed hands take hold of both of your arms and gently pull you forward through the black. Down, deeper and deeper you go, idly wondering if this is what life is like for these things when they naturally manifest. Certain people on the other side of the War would be utterly terrified right now.

Good thing for you then that you aren't afraid of the dark.

You hear the explosions of danmaku from ahead, much like the ones from behind, earlier. You get closer, closer, and then right before you break the surface, the sounds stop; apparently her barrage ended. You break through and are now falling, straight down at Suika, whose hands are on her hips as she turns slowly, looking for you down below. Just as you get within striking range she whips an arm up and sends a weighted shape flailing towards you.

"As if you could sneak up on me!"

You block the shape, but it twists in the air and wraps around your Keyblade, ripping it from your hand. Suika throws her arm back, untangling the weapon but sending it flying down to the ground. You keep falling, and once again she's rearing back a punch while hovering, waiting for you to fall helplessly into range.

Which you almost do, but your ankles are grabbed at the last second. You swing perpendicular to her punch and feel the air displacement as it barely misses you.

Bending forward, in your inverted state you see the trapeze style chain of elder shadows, each grabbing the ankles of the previous one, as they lead back up to the pool on the ceiling from which you first fell. You are swung over to the far wall of the barrier, where you are released, landing on the wall and breaking into a sprint down the side of it, in a moment of space-manipulating excess. Getting to ground level, you dash towards you fallen Keyblade-

-when Suika crashes to the ground in front of you, throwing two fistfulls of bullets in a shotgun spray. You cartwheel to one side, catching a glimpse of the last shadow retracting into the ceiling as you do so, and dodge successfully. Suika has hopped sideways to keep herself between you and your weapon; without which she quite correctly assumes you can't manage a physical 'hit.'

"I could do this all day!" she yells as she releases another burst. This one you ignore, as right in front of you bursts all twelve shadows to absorb the blast. Suika has to hop back to avoid the shockwave of their entrance. You dash through the space they had occupied and close in, mentally thanking them for their sacrifice.

"Again!" she releases a third spread. This one you strike out and deflect with you Keyblade that just materialized back in your hand.

"Where did you- oh crap!"

She falls onto her back, and her own pattern of danmaku shoots past her face. In two strides you are above her, and plunge the keyblade into her chest unceremoniously for a coup de grâce. Her back arches and she hisses in distress, but you aren't sure what the problem is; you're certain you're not hurting her. The worst that could happen is the jostling up of old memories.

Old memories.

Bad memories.

Some people drink to remember, blurring the walls of formality to let their hearts shine through.

Some people drink to forget, burying their past in a haze, allowing a less burdened side of their hearts to show.

In a moment of insight, you slash your Keyblade down through her and behind you, fling not blood, but clear liquid on the wall of the barrier behind you. Said wall flickers and winks out, and the smell of spilled sake begins to spread through the air.

Suika is unharmed, and sits up.

"Ugh, I have a headache."

Reimu walks up, looks down at Suika, and blinks.

"Oy. You look pale."

You glance and your vanquished opponent, and see what she means. You smile.

"She's not pale, she's just sober. No rosy flush to the cheeks."

Reimu looks at you, looks at the liquid dripping off your weapon, and raises her eyebrows. Turning back to Suika, she kneels down.

"Say ah."

"Aaaaaaaaah"

Taking a sniff, Reimu wrinkles her nose, then stands back up.

"Well, aside from oni breath, no alcohol. She beat you sober, Suika. That's like, a first for you, isn't it?"

"Head . . . hurts." The tiny oni starts to fumble with the cap on her gourd.

You walk up and tap it with the tip of your Keyblade before she opens it.

Her fumbling gets more desperate, fingers slipping as she keeps trying to remove the cork. She frowns in realization, then she looks up at you like a kicked puppy.

"Wha, whadid you do that for?"

"Apologize."

"Huh?"

"I'll unlock your gourd after you apologize for interrupting."

Suika blinks, squinting.

"But you were a liar."

"A liar about what?"

Reimu crosses her arms. You keep your gaze locked with Suika.

"Ah, human crap. Lying about- about being scared and crap. Why would you want to be seen as a coward when you're not one. Jerks, tricking people. Saying things they don't mean when there's no good reason to, humans are all the same. Can't just say what you mean."

You nod.

"So, to restate. You got mad for me being polite and throwing out some little white lies?"

"Mmmph."

"Say it, Ibuki Suika. You're not a sore loser, are you?"

She flinches at this, then turns a flat stare your way.

"I'm hung over, not an idiot or a little kid. Yeah, you thrashed me. Playing dirty, but whatever." She turns to Reimu, jerking her head in your direction. "She's alright. I was just annoyed at humans being humans and using slippery words and crap. Lies are still lies, and they woke me up, even if they were harmless." She looks away from both of you. "I might have been a bit annoyed at being woken up, is all."

You nod, satisfied, then tap the cap of the gourd again. It pops off, and Suika tips it back immediately, chugging the whole thing.

While she drinks, you turn back to Reimu (who is looking at you differently now).

"So, to revise, I am perfectly capable of taking care of myself. I only delayed coming to you because I thought I could take care of this myself and I didn't think you'd believe my story right off the bat."

Reimu hmms in understanding and gestures at you to go on, looking at your blade. You take a deep breath and sigh, then resume.

"This is a Keyblade," you say while gesturing at your weapon. "It's not actually a physical object; it's a projection from inside oneself. Picking mine up opens up the potential for someone to figure out how to project their own. I can recall it to my hand at any time. When I first fell here, I woke up without it and called it back, but I have no idea who had it for the time I was unconscious. A month later Keyblade-style crimes started happening." You lean forward a bit to press your next point. "Whoever this is will not only get into more trouble, but anyone that beats them might pick their Keyblade up, potentially getting one of their own. It's contagious."

Reimu's expression is frozen again. You keep going.

"I didn't come to you because I wanted to find this thing, take it, seal the memories of the one that had it, and end this before it became a clusterfuck. I didn't go to the authorities because I didn't know you and I didn't trust you. For all I know you might have tried to take the power for yourself, or someone that you told would have, or someone spying on you-"

Reimu starts looking around in a panic at this, then calms down.

"If Yukari had been watching just now- wait. Yukari. How the hell did she not see this? You've been here for a month, right? Wait, she only woke up a little bit ago. Right. But then, wait. How haven't I even heard of you? You beat Suika at danmaku, so at the very least you're good enough to have beaten some other important enough for me to hear there was a new presence around."

You shrug.

"This was my very first danmaku duel ever."

Suika immediately choked on her sake and started coughing.

Reimu blinked.

"Ah. That . . . huh. So wait, that flipping and dangling crap, does that mean-"

"Yeah, I can't even fly."

Suika has stopped drinking, choosing to stare at you instead. Then she blinks.

"Wha- wait. Did you know who I was from the very start?"

You cough.

"Yes. I read the Ninth Gensokyo Chronicle."

She has let go of the gourd and holds her head in her hands, mumbling.

"Human. First duel. Couldn't fly. Challenged an oni. Won." She looks up at you. "You sure aim high, lady. They'll be talking about this for weeks." She holds your gaze a bit longer.

Then she throws back her head and laughs.

"Okay! Looks like I needed a slice of humble pie! You're no coward!" She hops up and grabs your sleeve, then Reimu's and starts pulling both of you back to the shrine. "Drinks are on me!"

As you both get dragged along, Reimu gives you a disinterested looking glance.

"So, Darkness?"

Her expression was bored, but she's actually curious. You nod in response.

"Darkness. Don't ask about 'Heartless Sign," I have no idea why that came up. I can control those things when I find them, but I haven't seen any of their type since I crashed here. The spell card lets me cheat and conjure some up from nothing, it seems like."

"Hmm."

"By the way, would you happen to know of any magical sources of darkness? I've been looking to stock up. I've heard of Rumia, but haven't sought her out."

"Ah, she's over by the big lake, playing with the fairies and others when she isn't failing to eat humans."

You wonder about that for a second, then remember what the article said about her tendency to blind herself and run into things.

"Makes sense. Any others?"

"Uhh, I think that Byakuren lady did some shadow magic or something, but I didn't pay much attention. Marisa would know more about that kind of thing, I just stick to barrier stuff."

Rumia. Byakuren. Two names to note. Marisa might have more information. Got it.

Suika lets you go to throw open the sliding door, revealing Marisa with fresh tea prepared. As the witch and the oni begin an argument about what's about to be served, Reimu yawns and speaks to you again.

"Don't let Yukari get you, if you can help it. She's okay with monsters and demons and whatever else, but if it's a potential threat to Gensokyo she will trick every last power player into gunning for your life at the drop of a hat. Also she'll probably take your thing too."

You snort.

"She can try."

Marisa's sudden cry of outrage caused you both to look back inside, as Suika finished spiking the tea with her sake.

Should you stick around for the aftermath? They might have more leads on constructive things to do.

[***]

[ ] Sure, why not. Chat, get more info.
- [ ] Focus on Marisa
- [ ] Focus on Reimu
- [ ] Focus on Suika
- [ ] Focus on Sukuna

[ ] Nah, politely escape and head elsewhere.
- [ ] Hunt down Rumia
- [ ] Seek out Byakuren
- [ ] Bug Mokou
- [ ] Elsewhere? (Write-in)

[***]

CONGRATULATIONS, by defeating Suika you have earned a new element point! Please also vote on it!

[ ] Space
[ ] Moon

You have also earned the following intimacies: Respect from Suika, Attention from Reimu, Interest from Marisa, and Envy from Sukuna! That's one point of positive from each! Three points of positive or negative from a character is another element point. Opposite types neutralize each other, so if you piss someone here off you'll go back to zero before you start accruing negatives. People can gain a first point without directly interacting with you, but further points tend to require personal attention, unless you somehow strongly attract their interest.
Why yes, it is much faster and simpler to just duel people for power. Why do you ask?
[x] Sure, why not. Chat, get more info.
- [x] Focus on Marisa
pls no ze

[x] Space
We need to get better at dodging.
[X] Sure, why not. Chat, get more info.
-[X] Focus on Suika
--[X] Explain how the perpetrator seems to have an interest in stealing rare wines. Wines that are likely very distinct. As a wine connoisseur, she might be able to keep an eye out for anyone who has recently come into possession of those wines.
-[X] Focus on Marisa.
--[X] Ask about shadows, both for yourself and possibly for tracking down your quarry.
[X] Space
>>37906 So I was right for both spellcards.

Anyway, I'm all for clearing out before we overstay our welcome. Question is, who do we seek? Odds are high we're not gonna get a clear answer out of Rumia, though we could end up dragged into another duel. Seeking out Mokou could be nice, but we wouldn't learn much that we don't already know, and she's also probably busy rebuilding her home. Byakuren could be in the middle of sutras or meditation or some such, but going to her still nets us the best odds of obtaining new information. So, I'm casting my vote for:
[/] Nah, politely escape and head elsewhere.
- [/] Seek out Byakuren
[X] Spaaaaaaace. (gotta go to space.)
[X] Sure, why not. Chat, get more info.
- [X] Focus on Marisa

Sure, why not. Darejan needs to get used to the personalities around here anyway.

[x] Space

Moon waxes and wanes, so it'll be nice to strengthen an element that's more of a constant.
[x] Vessel of Stars
[x] floating in a most peculiar way
[X] Sure, why not. Chat, get more info.
- [X] Focus on Marisa
[x] Space
[x] Sure, why not. Chat, get more info.
- [x] Focus on Marisa

She'll be pretty important, I think, if this is going where I'm thinking it's going.

Besides, a Casket of Stars might be useful if ever Gensokyo is cast into Complete Darkness.

[x] SPAAAAACE

Sociallinkssociallinkssociallinkssocialliiiiinks
calling it.

you poor, poor fools~★
[x] Sure, why not. Chat, get more info.
- [x] Focus on Marisa

[x] Space

[***]

Following Reimu's lead, you stand impassively as Marisa grabs Suika and starts pouring the tainted tea directly down her throat. Suika struggles a bit then rolls with it, grabbing the pot and chugging freely. Marisa lets go and slips over to you and Reimu.

"What she doesn't know is that I mixed in a new mushroom blend, and I have no idea what it will do mixed with alcohol," she whispers. "I figure the trouble of brewing another pot is worth seeing what happens next."

Reimu frowns.

"So now thanks to you there is a drunk and high oni in my home."

Marisa grins and slaps her on the back.

"Take it easy, eh? What's the worst that could happen (that she couldn't fix later)?"

Reimu just turns a flat stare at Marisa for a second, which does nothing to darken the latter's blinding smile. The priestess sighs, and walks into her home.

"I'm brewing a fresh pot myself. Any damage Suika does is on your head, Marisa," she says as she goes out of sight.

You and Marisa stand there for a second, then she turns to you and slaps you on the back a few times.

"Good showing out there, by the way! Have a seat, Reimu will be back with tea in a bit. Tell me about those critters, the ones you called up!"

Her heart is bright and direct, almost irritating in its enthusiasm. You shrug it off and smile, sitting down.

"I just call them shadows. They are creepy and mindless and can slip into places real easy. I can normally control those things if I find them in the wild. I've never just called them up out of nowhere before, the spell card system did that for me."

Marisa nods sagely.

"Yeah, it does give weird boosts like that. What's better is when you figure out how to invoke spell cards outside of duels; you can trick it into giving you the same kind of extra oomph while still being fully powered. It usually has to be a projectile or something to work, so unless you are chucking those things at someone it probably won't let you pull that one off."

You digest that for a second. It sounds even more dangerous than you were imagining before. A Keyblade boost to magic and help from the Great Barrier? You force yourself not to shudder. Marisa rambles on.

"Now, I saw your sword thing for a second there, if you like swords you might want to meet Youmu, she's bing on all things slashy. I only caught a couple glances at the end of your duel but it looked like you weren't using very danmaku-like danmaku, ya know?"

You cough, then defend youself.

"Well, it was my first time-" and then Marisa cuts you off.

"Right, right. Suika was just screwin' with ya, else you wouldda been pasted, right? She seemed to get serious at the end but then you got all sneaky."

Suika groans in annoyance, from her position of laying her face down on the table. Marisa keeps going.

"Yeah yeah you apparently opened up strong, I heard that. I heard her call out a whatsit too. She copied you, right? Sucks, but them's the breaks!"

The girl would not shut up. Not that you really wanted her to, but it was hard to get a word in edgewise when she was on a roll.

"So you use the sword for magic?" she asks without missing a beat.

"Ah, yeah, it's a focus. It just helps you call on magic you could otherwise eventually learn. It doesn't give you magic by itself, it just boosts it." Not a lie. Suika doesn't react.

"Oh, so where'd you get your creepy black stuff from?" Marisa asks you point blank. She's honestly curious about your abilities with darkness, it seems. You think about phrasing for a moment before you answer.

"Ah, I was taught a bit when I was first starting out, but most of it just kind of built up over time with practice. Darkness is, in the sense that I use it, just a natural aspect of people. That instinctual sense of self, the desire for safety and security, basic survival and happiness."

Suika's head turns a bit to listen and Sukuna is sitting calmly in her little cage, sipping from a miniature tea set of her own. Marisa nods again before following up.

"So, like, practical crap? Get the job done, damn the flowery details?"

You had never thought of it in those terms, but it did sound relatively valid. You nod in return.

"That sounds roughly accurate. Light would be the opposite, regard for others and an eye for presentation, to summarize drastically."

"Ha! Then I'm a natural for both!" she exclaims.

You tilt your head a bit.

"It normally doesn't work that way, I think."

Marisa shrugs.

"What can I say? I have an eye for flair. Around here, how powerful a spell looks is like, almost more important than what you put into it! That's probably why I can always beat Patchy; everyone in the village sees me fight all the time and I keep getting better for it. She keeps to her dusty library and never shows off, so no one thinks of her stuff as that powerful."

"Patchy?"

"Ah, right. Patchouli Knowledge, in the Scarlet Devil Mansion. She's a huge nerd, always reading and figuring out new spellwork. She uses a different style than me but a lot of the basics are the same, so I always swing by and borrow books." You feel a slight buzz when she says 'borrow,' but ignore it. "If magic was like, chess or something, she'd whip me every time, but she never really bothers to match me for raw power."

"So you are firmly a student of the 'flip the board' school of chess?"

Marisa thinks for a second then nods enthusiastically.

"Ah, yeah, guess I would be! Ahaha."

Reimu glides back in and deposits a fresh tea service, then comments.

"I'm still missing one of my gold generals, you damned sore loser."

Marisa just scratches the back of her head and laughs nervously. You wait for her to stop, then ask something of your own.

"So Reimu mentioned you might know somewhere I could find things that resonate magically with shadows or darkness?"

Marisa tilts her head.

"Uh, hmm. Well, I do a lot of alchemically boosted magic and brute force stuff; any flavor added to my magic is just how it comes out, I guess. I've never really thought in terms of finding light or star based stuff, ya know? So as for the opposite, uh- uggh." Her face blanches a bit.

"Hmm?" you inquire. Her heart just did a backflip of fear.

"Ah, nothing, nothing. I was thinking darkness, then night, then sleeping and dreaming, and I thought of someone unpleasant."

Reimu lowers her teacup.

"You honestly just considered sending her to Yuuka, didn't you."

"No!"

"Admit it."

"Of course not! Well, maybe! For a second! But I didn't say it! Wasn't even going to!"

"Yuuka?" you ask.

Both girls stop their exchange and glance at you. Reimu takes the lead.

"Yuuka Kazami. She's bad news. Hates humans, obscenely powerful, holds a big chunk of Gensokyo to herself, the works. Her only redeeming features are that she barely ever leaves home, and when she does she doesn't start trouble herself."

Marisa nods at each statement, then adds her own two cents.

"Yeah, she holds a mean grudge, too!"

Reimu levels another flat stare at her. You suspect this is a common occurrence.

"Because you stole her signature technique."

"Hey! I thrashed her and then copied it fair and square!"

Reimu and Marisa bickered for a bit, then Suika spoke up, still limp on the table.

"Oy, why'd you think of her, anyway? She's in the Garden of the Sun- no darkness or shadows there at all beyond, you know, plain old night."

Marisa held up a finger and opened her mouth, held still for a moment, then broke the pose and rubbed her chin in confusion.

"Why DID I think of her? Reimu, you did too!"

The miko looked annoyed. You felt that they were both honestly confused. Reimu shrugged and Marisa threw up her hands.

"Aaaahh forget it! Anyways don't seek out Yuuka, she'll eat you, little shadow dudes and all! As for other dark things or shadow things, uhh, crap. There's, like, black magic that is basic attack stuff, but that's not specifically what you're going for . . ."

"Would this Patchy be a good reference?"

Marisa brightens up.

"Ah yeah, tell her I sent y-" Reimu slaps her on the back of the head, suddenly. "-yeeouch! What the hell?"

"Telling Patchy that you sent her would be asking for an execution."

Marisa blinks.

"Aww, you know she loves me!"

Reimu gives her friend a long-suffering look. She turns to you.

"Look, if you wanna visit the Scarlet Devil Mansion let me know, but it would be better to go at night and to not mention Marisa at all. Remi, the owner, is on good terms with me for what that's worth, so on my word they'd probably let you in. Probably."

[***]

You nod and the conversation shifts between other inane and pointless things as time passes. Soon the tea is gone.

"And that's because you don't know Reimu's secret weakness!" Marisa boasts to Suika.

"Ah? She doesn't have any. And even if she did, Oni don't need to stoop that low!" the demon responds.

You hold your peace while Reimu turns an interesting shade of red. The miko's heart is a rather fascinating swirl of feelings at the moment, and you don't want to disturb it. It's like looking at a kaleidoscope. But smelling it. Or something.

"It's a rather common weakness, all things told! There is no shame in it- behold!" Marisa stands as she proclaims this. Her heart is alight with mischief. A fan of charms and seals appears in Reimu's right hand as she prepares a defense. She makes her way around the table looking to go around you, and then her heart pulses.

"AN OPENING!"

There is suddenly a broomstick heading for your face at ludicrous speeds. Marisa's heart is radiating eagerness.

Reaction?

[***]

[ ] Parry it. You could block this telegraphed strike blindfolded with one hand behind your back. She wants to go? Let's go.

[ ] Let it hit you. It always pays to have people underestimate you a bit, doesn't it? Though it does seem to be coming in a little fast . . .

(no write-ins accepted this vote)

[***]

GAME RULE NOTE:

So, the last fight vote was unanimous. As befitting the nature of those who use the power of hearts, landslide votes over magic-related choices will have a vastly improved chance of succeeding in whatever task they are associated with.

That is to say, if you are trying to win a danmaku duel, and everyone votes overwhelmingly for an option that otherwise would have gotten you a point loss, you might very well pull off a score instead.

"Success" does not mean "Victory" or "Best Outcome," it means achieving whatever your current short term goal is. Your power will respond if your heart is sure! Poor tactical decisions are still poor, even if you succeed at them!

This mechanic makes no difference in otherwise mundane choices like picking someone to hang out with or choosing whether or not to be smashed in the face with a broomstick.

I am thinking that the threshold for a "Sure Heart" reward will be 5/6 or more of the vote; we tend to have about 5 regular voters, so that will make this a rare enough occurrence.
[x] Let it hit you. It always pays to have people underestimate you a bit, doesn't it? Though it does seem to be coming in a little fast . . .
She was talking about Reimu's weakness, which we can assume from this to be 'is actually a nice person who protects other people from getting hit in the face by broomsticks', and she's intending to abuse it.

>You feel a slight buzz when she says 'borrow,' but ignore it.
Oooh, we got Suika's lieDAR. Neato.

>Yuuka Kazami. She's bad news. Hates humans, obscenely powerful, holds a big chunk of Gensokyo to herself, the works.
Not my favourite interpretation.
>>37980
Note that in the very next bit Reimu mentions Marisa thrashing her. Obscene power is relative. Reimu considers Marisa obscenely powerful too; in fact, that label might apply to anyone she can't put down without trying. Who knows?

It's canon for this fic that Yuuka was defeated before the spell card system was implemented, when going no holds barred.

And we didn't get Suika's lie detection; Marisa just mentally diverts when she refers to her assisted lending services.
[X] Parry it. You could block this telegraphed strike blindfolded with one hand behind your back. She wants to go? Let's go.
[x] Let it hit you. It always pays to have people underestimate you a bit, doesn't it? Though it does seem to be coming in a little fast . . .

No way Marisa intends to hit us for no reason.

I can see where you're coming from thematically with the unanimous vote rule but it's a terrible idea mechanically. Now unless you're the first or second voter it's stupid to do anything but vote for whatever's already winning.
[x] Let it hit you. It always pays to have people underestimate you a bit, doesn't it? Though it does seem to be coming in a little fast . . .
Remember Sun Tzu.
[x] Let it hit you. It always pays to have people underestimate you a bit, doesn't it? Though it does seem to be coming in a little fast . . .

No way in hell are we risking Marisa getting hold of a keyblade.
>>37983
Well, I thought of it more like this:

You're about to fight Yukari! Oh noes! What do?

[]Punch her in the mouth!
[]Run like a bitch!

Assuming a few people vote for each and 'punch' wins, you'd try and fail to punch Yukari in the mouth, because you are not fast/powerful/cool enough to punch Yukari in the mouth. She'd then gap you for being a jerk. If a (nigh) unanimous vote selected 'punch,' then somehow your punch would actually connect.

Then Yukari would gap you for being a jerk. Because all you did was punch her in the mouth. It's more useful for edge cases. Like, a long series of choices adding up to an outcome, a unanimous vote on a good decision with give a bit of extra oomph. On a bad decision? Extra oomph. You could very well dig your grave deeper.

The way I was seeing it, it would reward the occasional groupthink. There's still time to tweak this part before anything irrevocable happens; as the chaos increases the weight of decisions will increase too.
>>37986
Nah, he's right. Encouraging bandwaggoning is shit. While it is an interesting idea to counter miscommunication and reader/author disconnect, but would only really work if the votes were invisible until called.
>>37987
Well, if two of my loyal five-ish voters have spoken, and no one opposes, then I have no problem cutting out the mechanic. Vote as you will, without regard to your peers!
[x] Let it hit you.

>>37988
Three of six, even! ... wait, you said "loyal", didn't you. Sorry, senpai, I've been cheating on you.
>>37988
As much as I LOVE the idea of it thematically, I just don't see how it could be done fairly, since like the other anon mentioned, it really only works when the votes are invisible, not when people want to actively work for it..
[x] Let it hit.

No exposing the Keyblade to Marisa.
>>37988
Going to agree with the other anons that while it's a good idea in theory, I don't think it would really work out in this kind of format.
[x] Parry it. You could block this telegraphed strike blindfolded with one hand behind your back. She wants to go? Let's go.

That last line on the let it hit you option makes me think it's not such a hot idea to let yourself get smacked in the face with a heavy stick.
>>37997
I'll take getting hit in the face with a heavy stick over letting Marisa get a keyblade every time.
[x] Let it hit you. It always pays to have people underestimate you a bit, doesn't it? Though it does seem to be coming in a little fast . . .
Calling it
[x] Let it hit you. It always pays to have people underestimate you a bit, doesn't it? Though it does seem to be coming in a little fast . . .

[***]

You aren't exactly sure what did it. Was it the gleam in her eye? The tiny wellspring of darkness that burst into being as the broomstick approached your face? It felt like time slowed down as the wooden shaft got closer; enough for you to just barely smirk as you made no move to intercept the blow, and Marisa's eyes widened in that last instant that she realized she was actually about to hit you.

Then your world went white with pain, then black, and you saw stars. As your consciousness faded, you heard some screaming and scrambling, but it didn't bother you so much.

After all, you felt like you had won.

[***]

+1 DARKNESS POINT GAINED

[***]

As you came to, the drumbeat of your throbbing head demanded your attention. You raised a finger to it and traced the swollen parts of your head, ear, and cheek. There are splinters! You sat up slowly, realizing you were on a futon as you did so.

Hearing you shift around, Reimu came into the room.

"Ah, you're up. Right, sorry about that. Marisa can be crazy, but she's usually not hit-random-guests-of-mine-with-her-broom crazy. If I see her again any time soon I'll thrash her for you."

"Mmph." You don't trust yourself to speak, working your jaw carefully to test it. Reimu went on.

"Honestly, what the hell? She was all 'She was supposed to block it' and 'the weakness was tickling!' and crap." She stops short and glares at you. "You didn't hear that. I catch wind of that spreading outside these doors and I come for her, then you."

You nod, too distracted by your revelation to be intimidated by the threat. You speak up.

"I know what she was doing."

"Oh? Other than being an idiot?"

"Far from it. I could have blocked that blindfolded. She was counting on it." You manifest the Keyblade in a guard to demonstrate. "Probably would have tickled me to make me drop the Keyblade and then made off with it."

Reimu just stares at you for a second, looks away, and sighs.

"Yeah. Yeah she would have." Then she blinks and turns back. "And then what would you have done?"

You consider the question seriously.

Marisa Kirisame is legitimately one of the most powerful beings in this little sealed world. She assumes she has top tier raw firepower, rightly. Virtually undefeated in no-holds-barred danmaku duels, Reimu aside. Used to setting her own pace and forcing others to play along.

There was a chance, a small chance, you might have been able to apprehend her and seal her memories. It would have taken every ounce of skill and deviousness you had, but it would have been possible. It just would have left her despising you if you flubbed it at any point towards the end.

Most likely you would have just been thrashed and she would have gotten clean away. Reimu doesn't react to your expression as it changes during these thoughts. You finally reply.

"That's an uncomfortable question, and the answer depends on just how seriously you took my warning and how far you would have gone to help."

"Hmm." The miko grunts. "Well, it didn't come to that. You actually ate that hit though. Looks painful."

"Feels painful. I owe her one."

"Feel free to give her an extra one on my behalf if you get to her before I do. Rules of hospitality and all, for once."

You chuckle and she helps you up.

"Well, I understand if you want to get going. It was about 11:00 AM when you got hit, it's 1:00 PM now. She knocked you hard, the stupid drugged-up juicer. You might want to see Eirin." Her tone aside, she wasn't as angry with Marisa as she looked; she was more exasperated and annoyed. Assuming her social life was colored by her relative power level to other humans, she probably valued her companions more than she admitted, even when they misbehaved. You won't blame her.

You take a wobbly step. Yeah, that's a concussion at the least. Back in the day one of your teammates would have healed you up with a cast of Cura or two, but no flower elemental mages are around at the moment.

Flowers. Plants.

Yuuka Kazami.

That is such a terrible idea you won't even mention it to Reimu. You are perfectly aware of your Keyblade's ability to draw power away from your clashes with opponents; you noticed while staring into Marisa's pure desire that there was a flavor of darkness you'd not really seen up close before. Seeking power solely for the sake of power; as much as your superiors accused the Guardians of Light of it, you never actually saw that behavior directly in their agents. Marisa, on the other hand, was intoxicated by the idea of the Keyblade. You should have noticed the signs sooner, but you were too busy enjoying victory. Sloppy.

The girl would come for you again. For you, or for your original target. You had no doubt she'd crush the amateur Keyblade user without breaking a sweat.

You take a few more dizzy steps forward. You're in no condition to dodge danmaku or fight. You need healing. If Marisa found you like this, she'd . . . probably be able to coerce you into handing over your Keyblade, if she was ruthless. You didn't get that vibe from her, but it was easy to tempt people into reckless actions. You'd done it yourself enough, after all.

Or you might appeal to her better nature.

Waving to Reimu, you head out slowly, then hesitate. There are places you could go, and ways to get there.

A Corridor of Darkness is a terrible idea right now. You might fall over at any moment. You'll walk, or you'll fly.

And by fly, you mean ride.

[***]

You will be operating at penalty until you deal with your injury. You are dizzy, and your head hurts. Options:

[ ] Eirin's clinic - quite far, can't fly over the Bamboo Forest. Would have to go on foot from the forest entrance.

[ ] Go home and rest. - shorter trip, you can recoup before your next move.

[ ] Get to Keine's place, hope Mokou is there, ask to be hauled to Eientei - shorter trip for you, but imposes on new friend.

[ ] Visit the Garden of the Sun - you could fly there, about the same distance as the entrance to the Bamboo Forest. You'd probably get a magical healing spell out of it, if you survived.

- [ ] but you'd better think of something to get Yuuka to help you / let you survive a fight. (Write-in)

[ ] Pursue Lu Bu Marisa Kirisame. Make her take responsibility for healing you up.

How will you travel?

[ ] Land - on foot.

[ ] Sea

[ ] Air - summon armor, ride on Keyblade in mobile form. Arrive in style, wherever you go.

[ ] Other? Write-in.
[X] Get to Keine's place, hope Mokou is there, ask to be hauled to Eientei - shorter trip for you, but imposes on new friend.
[x] Go home and rest. - shorter trip, you can recoup before your next move.
[x] Land - on foot.
You don't need a goddam hospital to cure a hit to the head and fatigue, just some sleep.
[X] Go home and rest. - shorter trip, you can recoup before your next move.
[X] Land - on foot.
>>37979
[X] Get the fuck out of dodge.
C'mon, it's the obvious option.

Also, I agree that groupthink-boosting mechanics are a bad idea. There's not enough people to make dissent very common, either.
[x] Visit the Garden of the Sun - you could fly there, about the same distance as the entrance to the Bamboo Forest. You'd probably get a magical healing spell out of it, if you survived.

I know an important plot hook when I see one, and Yuuka's name suddenly coming to three different people's heads certainly feels like one.

or maybe it's the trap and Yuuka has a keyblade already
[X] Go home and rest. - shorter trip, you can recoup before your next move.
[X] Land - on foot.

Go back home, hole up.
[X] Eirin's clinic - quite far, can't fly over the Bamboo Forest. Would have to go on foot from the forest entrance.
[X] Air - summon armor, ride on Keyblade in mobile form. Arrive in style, wherever you go.

Out for two hours? That's a fair bit more serious than "Just head home and sleep it off.", time to get treated.
[x] Eirin's clinic - quite far, can't fly over the Bamboo Forest. Would have to go on foot from the forest entrance.
[x] Air - summon armor, ride on Keyblade in mobile form. Arrive in style, wherever you go.
I know of people who have died from trying to sleep off 'minor' cranial trauma.
Also, goddamnit Marisa.
[X] Eirin's clinic - quite far, can't fly over the Bamboo Forest. Would have to go on foot from the forest entrance.
--[x] Walk

Because flying is a good way to smack into all kinds of bamboo.

[spoiler]Tasukete Eirin~![spoiler]
[x] Eirin's clinic - quite far, can't fly over the Bamboo Forest. Would have to go on foot from the forest entrance.

[x] On foot

Because the last thing we need is for Marisa to swoop out of the sky and graze-touch the Keyblade.

Tasukete Eirin~!
>>38020
>>38021

Damnit, these are both me. My script blocker didn't let me delete the first one when the spoiler tag failed, and now I can't get rid of it.

Sorry, my bad!
[x] Go home and rest. - shorter trip, you can recoup before your next move.
[x] Walk

She does seem like the sort to sleep off a mild concussion and just deal with it. I don't think there's enough to be done at the clinic to warrant a revisit so soon either.
what the fuck about KNOCKED OUT FOR TWO HOURS, STILL DIZZY AFTER WAKING UP says 'mild' concussion?
[X] Eirin's clinic - quite far, can't fly over the Bamboo Forest. Would have to go on foot from the forest entrance.

[X] On foot
[x] Eirin's clinic - quite far, can't fly over the Bamboo Forest. Would have to go on foot from the forest entrance.
[x] On foot
[x] Corridor of Darkness
[x] Home

NOTHING CAN GO WRONG WITH THIS PLAN [/concussion]
calling it
[x] Eirin's clinic - quite far, can't fly over the Bamboo Forest. Would have to go on foot from the forest entrance.
[x] On foot

[***]

As you turn to the torii gate and start to walk, Reimu calls out.

"Oy. You really okay? You really don't look so hot."

You wave off her concern.

"I'll be fine, don't worry about it."

You take a deep breath then start marching down the steps. You consider for a moment what you'd do if those fairies decided to make trouble for you again; then you figure they wouldn't dare. You get to the bottom of the stairs and sit for a spell, allowing your head to stop spinning. You're too woozy to be mad; you just want the dizziness to stop. You seriously consider heading home and hitting the sack for a minute, but shrug off the urge; you've never been hurt this bad for this long without magical healing of some sort nearby. Your resilience in the face of injury is not something you took the time to train.

No. You want to be at 100% with minimal risk, as soon as possible. Minimal risk in this case also includes minimal risk to your cover; while you could fly your Keyblade to the clinic, you'd probably be seen. You knew your way to the Bamboo Forest, so walking would do.

Tripping over a root on the barely-kept path to the shrine, you bite down on an unladylike curse as you awkwardly regain your footing. A wave of irritation washes over you regarding the state of the walkway, but before you can really think about it that irritation becomes pain. Sharp, sudden pain.

You immediately resolve to try not to think about anything at all. This works out well until the precise moment you step out of the mildly wooded area on the way to the shrine into the clearing which marks the beginning of the properly maintained path to the Human Village. The sudden direct sunlight causes you to actually curse and throw a hand over your eyes.

That's unusual. You have your problems with the Guardians of Light and people who use similar magics, but plain daylight never gave you problems before. You find yourself wishing for your black coat or the wonderfully shaded visor of your armor, but neither is an option at the moment.

A few quick glances out from under your arm serve to gradually acclimate your eyes, and with one hand over your brow you start following the path around the outer southern rice paddies to the branch off towards the Bamboo Forest. You pick up your pace, dizziness be damned, because the brightness is painful as hell even with your hand blocking most of the light.

You make it to the entrance of the forest, get inside far enough for the shade to do its work, and sigh in relief as you finally lower your arm. You're out of breath and thirsty. Odd, since you're in pretty good shape and that wasn't a particularly long walk. You wipe your brow, then blink as your hand comes off wet. You're sweating profusely, and you've only noticed it now that you're out of the light and no longer moving.

Well. This just gets better and better.

You head in further, following the most direct path. You hope that Reisen didn't 'amp up' the disorientation effects again for some reason. You march on, focus narrowing to the singular goal of reaching your destination. The pain fades. The dizziness just becomes a new rhythm to factor into your balance. Your expression is no longer the unguarded openness of your ditzy persona; now only a grim mask of determination graced your face.

A giant centipede bounced off of your Keyblade as you passed by it on the path, and you kept walking. Then, about five second later, you blink and spin around.

There is a giant five-foot long centipede coming after you.

Holy shit.

"Holy sh-"

You deflect its lunging bite again, only now realizing that you reflexively blocked it without thinking a few scant seconds ago. It recoils and dashes to the side, shooting forwards once again. You knock it back, feeling the dizziness returning in a big way with each motion. It disappears under the leaves and soil, but isn't escaping.

Crap.

You focus on the hunger, the need for sustenance, and lash out.

Its head comes off cleanly, and its body spasms. You back away, catching your breath.

Suddenly you're sitting down. Huh. You don't remember-

The world is now sideways.

Your last act before the darkness takes you is to banish your Keyblade.

Won't be fooled again.

[***]

Hearts nearby. Curious hearts. Inquisitive hearts. Observing the helpless one-

Helpless one.

You.

You jolt upright and manifest your Keyblade in a surge of panic, throwing off your . . . covers?

You blink.

Panicked white rabbits flee the scene, from their various places around the room. Machines quietly beeped and whirred around your bed, displaying information you couldn't parse.

The slightly-ajar door slides all the way open, and Eirin Yagokoro steps in, eyebrows rising ever-so-slightly on seeing your weapon. She smirks on seeing your confused-but-recovering expression, and you dismiss the Keyblade and lie back down quietly, expression uncertain.

"Hmph. Better reaction than most that wake up here after a life or death fight."

You don't comment, trying not to think too much about the brief razor-sharp flare of curiosity the sage displayed on seeing your Keyblade, and the second one when it vanished.

"Didn't bother to wear that interesting jacket, either, this time."

She knows who you are. That both complicates and simplifies things. No need for your persona. Your face shifts instantly to serious-business mode as you reply.

"Thanks for the save. I'm pretty sure that centipede didn't bite me, though."

The doctor turns to one of the machines and dismissively waves a hand.

"Heavens, no. You suffered a severe concussion, and were suffering from a cerebral hemorrhage. You would have been dead in hours had you not been brought to me."

Huh. Fancy that.

Turning to check your calm expression, she nods.

"A soldier, then. Other than the knock to your head you're in peak condition. Well, technically you are once again in complete peak condition, because I'm the best at my job. However, for reference, can you recall what struck you?"

You consider how to answer. Unvarnished truth seems best.

"Marisa Kirisame's broomstick at point blank range."

The doctor waits for you to go on.

"She was baiting me into revealing my weapon. I didn't take the bait." You look to the side for a moment, then shrug. "I honestly didn't think she was going to hit that hard."

Yagokoro keeps watching your face for a moment, then pulls out a sheet of paper. She turns it to face you, and you see a very detailed image of a skull, and a number of cracks on one side of it.

Damn.

"As you can see, no rational individual would have allowed something to hit them in the head 'that hard.' However, I am familiar with some of Kirisame's . . . alchemy-" her heart does this intricate dip into bitterness for that one word "-and while I am not impressed by it, I can acknowledge that she gets definitive results from her regime of home-brewed potions. Results like superhuman strength, reflexes, and general athletic ability."

The things you wish you knew ahead of time. Huh.

"In any case, I doubt you had an opportunity to become familiar with her habits of that nature in the month you've been here. And yes, based on your earlier information, a mundane knock to the head from a broom would have been an acceptable sacrifice for your tool's security."

Your mind jams at that last comment. You rapidly go over your last visit to Eintei, and cannot for the life of you remember saying anything that would give away the time of your arrival in Gensokyo. Eirin notices your pause.

"Ah, you're quite distinctive and you arrived during that huge meteor shower. Fell from the sky, if the rumors are correct. I had Reisen keeping an ear open for talk about newcomers and distinctive black coats. One of the farmers was happy to confirm your outfit that night."

Damn. She's good. You try to think of a response, but the moon sage presses on.

"In any case, you did well to get as close to Eientei as you did before you collapsed. Had Tewi not found you, you'd have been food for some other youkai, most likely. She should be around somewhere if you want to thank her personally. Otherwise, you're free to go . . ."

You can taste the dangling sentiment at the end of that sentence. She's expecting something. Oh, right. Compensation. Probably.

"What do I owe in exchange for the care?"

A jolt of satisfaction. Got it in one, then.

"Well, since you helped us out earlier I wouldn't charge you money or anything, but there is a small favor I would ask when you get the time."

"Oh?"

"While I will heal anyone brought before me, and will sell medicine to anyone in Gensokyo, I run into minor supply chain issue with some of the . . . deeper reaches of the land. My rabbits refuse to visit the underground city and its capital- not without reason. Reisen would do it herself if ordered, as the best of them, but if she got into trouble her primary method of self defense would be somewhat messy in the diplomatic sense. Therefore, if you would be willing to drop something off for me if you head in that direction I'd appreciate it, and not worry about the costs of the surgery."

Unspoken was the implication that while ostensibly allied to Eientei, your current injury was gained independent of your pursuit of the culprit and therefore technically excluded from any 'aid' they had promised. Or at least, your inner cynicism figured as much. Regardless, it was harmless.

Wasn't it?

"Why don't the rabbits go down there?"

Eirin just smiled again.

"Because the residents are some of the mightiest, most terrifying and hated youkai of all Gensokyo. Youkai rabbits tend to fall in the same place on the youkai food chain as mundane rabbits do on the animal one."

Considering that, you mentally shrug. Made sense. Eirin went on.

"And that jacket of yours will allow you to easily avoid trouble if I am even half on target with what I think it does."

You choose to not take the bait and simply nod. You feel her respect for you inch up ever so slightly in response. She reaches into a pocket and pulls out a small bag.

"Heat-resistant seedlings of common surface crops, to be delivered to the ruler of the Underground City, Satori. They are to be delivered directly into her hands, and not to any of her pets, who might just eat them on a whim."

Satori, Satori- you don't recall reading that name in the Chronicle, or elsewhere. Eirin's heart is simply waiting with mild anticipation.

"Sure, I guess. Might as well swing by if nothing else is going on. Always better to have business if I'm wandering somewhere new." You reach out and take the envelope. The seeds slide around inside as you slip it into a pocket.

"Wonderful, that will save me some time. Feel free to wander around- the cafeteria is open all day and the earth rabbits manning it can actually assume human form, so you'll not have much rabbit hair in your food."

Much, eh?

You bow and thank her again, and make your way out. Yagokoro's heart quickly spun up into curiosity about some new thing as she left after you and headed the opposite way in the corridor. You hear some chatter coming from a slightly ajar door you are passing by, and some nervous hearts behind it.

It's late afternoon, if the digital clock in the hospital room was any indication. You have a favor to grant and a grudge to settle. You also have a mission, but damned if you'll make any better progress on it by not taking care of other business in the meantime.

[***]

[ ] Eavesdrop on the chatters.

[ ] Seek out Tewi.

[ ] Seek out food.

[ ] Leave and head to the underground.

[ ] Leave and find Marisa.

[ ] [Write-in]
[X] Seek out Tewi.

It's only proper to thank the one who saved us.
[x] Seek out Tewi.

I hate being in someone's debt. If Tewi was the one to save us, we should compensate her somehow too.
[x] Seek out Tewi.
God damn it, Marisa.
Ough cerebral concussion. That could have been really bad. This is why you don't just lie down after you get a big hit to the noggin!

Also, I agree about the whole Tewi thing. We need to at least say thanks.

[x] Seek out Tewi
[X] Seek out Tewi.
[X] Seek out Tewi.
>>38045
>This is why you don't just lie down after you get a big hit to the noggin!
Actually, if you get hit in the noggin, you should get assessed by a trained physician. If you just have a concussion, laying down is fine and in fact is the recommended treatment.
But you might have a fractured skull and a pocket of blood slowly increasing in pressure and volume until it tears your brain apart. Which would be bad.
So yeah. If see someone get hit in the head by something hard and they act a bit funny for an extended period afterwards, take them to see a doctor, or they'll die.
[x] Eavesdrop on the chatters.
[X] Seek out Tewi.
[X] Eavesdrop on the chatters.
Then [X] Seek out Tewi.

I feel like Eavesdropping should be a fairly short action, what's stopping us from potentially gaining some quick information before we get on with it?
Calling it.
[X] Seek out Tewi.

[***]

First things first. A debt of gratitude is due. You turn around and walk back to the door with the voices.

"-and she defeated an oni. An oni!"

"Bullcrap."

"It says so right here! It's not my fault you can't read!"

Deciding you should get along with your business, you slide the door open. The two rabbit girls behind it flinch at the sound and then recoil in fear on seeing you.

Huh.

"A-ah-ah how c-c-can we help yu, M-miss Darejan?" the one holding the newspaper stammers.

You slide your gaze from one to the other, fear ebbing in whichever one meets your eye contact. You don't think you've warranted this sort of reaction around here, but whatever.

"I was wondering if you two might know where I could find Tewi?"

A burst of absolute terror blossomed in both of their hearts. Now you're just confused. The second one gets her wits back first.

"She should be out front, directing the mochi-pounding. Or sleeping on the job. One of those."

You nod.

"Thanks."

"N-n-no problemhaveaniceday!"

And the two rabbits tear out of the small room, the one dropping her newspaper. You reach out towards them to let them know, then decide it wouldn't matter. You kneel down and pick it up.

WESTERN NEWCOMER MAKES DANMAKU DEBUT, ANNIHILATES ONI

. . . what?

[***]

HAKUREI SHRINE, 10AM: The home of the Hakurei Miko was once again graced by the sounds of battle this morning, but unlike most days the source wasn't the usual suspects. While the notorious thief Marisa Kirisame was on-scene briefly, today's conflagration actually erupted not between the priestess and her usual shady guest, but between a relative newcomer to Gensokyo and one of its eldest legends.

The human woman styling herself as Darejan, [The Lucent Mirror], challenged the former Deva of the Mountain, Ibuki Suika herself. While the uneducated might not see much of interest in this, our readers are sure to note the vast difference in scale between the competitors. The oni are not to be taken lightly, as even the smallest of their number is still vastly more mighty than any mere human could dream of becoming.

The duel, while less than conventional, ended in a surprising defeat for [The Tiny Night Parade of One Hundred Demons]. The danmaku displayed by both sides was less beautiful than is typical at this sacred place. The spat seemed to erupt from an insult from Ibuki directed at Darejan, and after crushing the tiny oni, the victor then somehow sealed off the former Deva's personal sake gourd. The Hakurei Miko herself was heard to seriously remark that the demon was 'beaten sober,' as if such a thing was even remotely possible.

You read it here first, folks. Jokes on sobriety aside, the stopper of the gourd was apparently jammed to the point where the mighty oni herself could not loosen it for a post-defeat drowning of sorrows. After extracting a verbal concession and apology, the victor undid whatever enchantment or curse she set and allowed Ibuki to finally quench her thirst. Chatter after the fight revealed her artifact blade as the source of her strange power.

This reporter can only speculate as to the nature of the newcomer's abilities, but it seems this Darejan has decided to introduce herself to Gensokyo in a big way. She was unreachable for an interview as after the battle the participants and witnesses quickly retreated into the Miko's residence; the Bunbunmaru has been instructed to schedule any and all requests for the scheduling of interviews of the occupants at least a week in advance, under pain of 'full Shinto sealing.' While the information control regime there is strong, our reporter has not lost heart! Other sources have revealed the western woman arrived only a month ago, and apparently kept her head down, learning as much as she could about our country in the meantime. Is she going to try to take over the land? Is her might capable of eclipsing not just oni, but perhaps the Border Youkai herself? Only time will tell.

(The article is accented by a blurry photograph of you lashing out with your keyblade at Suika- if it wasn't for your distinctive shade of hair it would have been all but unidentifiable, but it more or less pegs you perfectly as shown.)

[***]

No.

No, no, no.

This- this is bad. Depending on who normally reads this 'Bunbunmaru Times' and how seriously they take it, your cover is completely blown. Worst of all, it actively mentions your keyblade as a source of power.

You couldn't name a faster way of turning this into a complete clusterfuck if you tried.

Scanning the paper, all the articles seemed to be credited to Shameimaru Aya. You read about her. Oh, yes. One of those you noted to avoid fighting seriously if at all avoidable.

Well, depending on how far she sticks her nose into this business, you might be forced to try to stop the wind itself. No big deal.

Ugh, you wish you actually felt as confident as that quip.

Sighing, you set the paper down and head out, navigating to the front of Eientei and taking a moment to watch the dozens of rabbits pounding mochi. Or, well, chatting and standing around while occasionally swinging a hammer. Tewi was short, with brown hair and white folded ears. You spot her lounging on a ledge off to one side, staring up at the clouds.

You walk up to the rabbit's relaxation spot and wait. It takes a bit before she blinks and glance over, at which she sits up.

"Ah, sorry, didn't see you. Usually when I get found her I get shoved off, haha!"

You didn't have much time to get a read on her when you saw her last, but now you take a moment to inhale deeply before you reply. Her surface emotions are surprisingly light; a bit of the wariness all the rabbits seem to have, plus a healthy buzz of relaxation.

"I wanted to thank you for saving me out there. I am in your debt." You bow, deeply.

Her emotions spin up a bit.

"Hey hey hey, no need to be so- oy stand up! You're ruining my image!"

You stand, glancing around at the various rabbits nearby that have broken off their conversations and work to stare openly. Tewi rears back.

"OY! GET TO WORK!"

As one, the rabbits begin to labor fiercely at their pounding. Tewi sighs.

"Uggh, no look what you made me do. I actually had to exercise authority." Her heart echoes of regret. Odd.

"I, uh, don't understand?"

Tewi looks at you for a moment, finds something in your gaze, and smirks. She leans back and puts her arms behind her head.

"Well, it's like this: you don't get to be boss of the rabbits by being a tyrant, see? Rabbits are born scared, live scared, and die scared. At least, down hear on Earth it's like that. Youkai rabbits are still the same, even if they are in a higher weight class than normal rabbits. You earn their loyalty by helping them live a life where they don't have to feel as afraid. Good habits, good food, and good hiding places." Her tone turns wistful and her heart . . . is suddenly much, much larger than you glimpsed a moment ago. "Even the fear of authority is a tiny chink in that balance. The rabbits can be happy here because all of the yelling from above lands mostly on Reisen, and hers lands on me. She just doesn't seem scary to Earth rabbits, but she also yells a lot, so while they do obey her, I'm the one that gets all the love by playing good cop. She's young, she hasn't caught on yet. And if I just told her, she wouldn't listen. She's still Lunarian at heart."

You listen and nod, deciding not to press on the Lunarian comment. However, the insight on the rabbits explains much of their behavior before.

"Thank you for the information, I'll keep it in mind regarding the rabbits in the future." You bow lightly again, and when you raise your head you see Tewi looking around in slight fear of anyone watching.

"Ahh, cut out the formality! Take it easy, yeah? I'm allergic to respect! People can't think I get away with crap for any reason other than luck, you hear?"

You cock a hip and raise an eyebrow.

"You seem to be operating on a far deeper level than just luck."

The glance she gives you at that comment and the heavy thoughts behind it almost make you step back. You had already figured she was quite powerful; the fluffy write-up in the Chronicle made it seem like laying eyes on her at all would be a miracle. She smiles.

"You . . . I was right, you deserved it. And you still deserve it. Walk with me, I'm going to give you a bit of background."

As you follow her around the wall, out of sight of the rabbits, she spins to face you, eyes closed and one finger aloft.

"People make their own luck. Any energy they spend seeking it out is typically a waste. While here, faith and power can literally shape the world, luck is still fickle. When you left the forest the first time, you had my blessing on you for doing Eientei a solid. That's probably the only reason you're still alive right now. Even if you had done something dumb, you ass would have been covered that once. Now, while heading here to get your head examined was the right call, you were too slow. I got no idea if you had a way to arrive faster, but it would have been the appropriate choice. That all said, you fell over and I stumbled on you, mostly because I felt my own power popping back into my range. That? That was luck. I got some help and dragged you back here, and you're good as new. Funny thing? There's making your own luck, and there's trying to game the system."

She nods here, agreeing with herself. You let her continue.

"If you had been seeking me out for the jolt of good luck, you wouldn't have found me. I'm pretty good at dodging humans doing that, if I do say so myself. But no, you walked right up to me and I didn't notice. You have no idea how rare that is, outside of Eirin and Kaguya who . . . honestly I am not sure if those two ever bothered to read up on how I operate. Regardless! Your gratitude is received, and since I am awesome . . ."

Quick as lightning her hand lashes out from behind her and you are bopped on the head with a very, very light mallet. A -pika- sound rang out, and when the mallet dropped to the ground, Tewi was gone. Her voice called down from behind you, and you spun around and looked up. She was standing imperiously on the roof, hands on her hips.

"Behold, mortal, for my blessing is once again upon you! If it all goes to hell, take heart that you have one "Pull your* ass** out of the fire*** free" card! Don't waste it, though; this shit don't grow on trees!" A gust of wind blew her skirt up, and with a yelp she threw her hands down to restore her modesty and promptly fell backwards and rolled off the roof out of sight, lack of dignity restored.

You get the feeling that she's a lot older than she looks and acts. A lot older. Shaking your head and smiling, you head down the path to leave Eientei and the forest. Late afternoon is fading into early evening, and most people that sleep at night will be eating by the time you get anywhere.

[***]

*not necessarily you

**not necessarily your physical body

***danmaku duels, as a rule, don't qualify as metaphorical fires for the purposes of this expression, though Mokou's spellcards do count as literal ones

[ ] Head to the Human Village and call it a day.

-[ ] Home

-[ ] See if Mokou is at Keine's

-[ ] Something else? [Write-in]

[ ] The Underground

[ ] KOTOMINE KIREI! KIRISAME MARISA!

[ ] Screw all that I do what I want [Write-in]
[x] The Underground

Onward, hooded stranger, for your task is not yet done.
Ten bucks says we get into a fight with Yuugi because we beat Suika.
[X] Head to the Human Village and call it a day.
-[X] Home

Back for preparartions. And this is somewhere between "Very Bad" and "Absolute Clusterfuck". The only thing keeping it from that second option is the good fortune that there isn't a complete write-up of the keyblade's powers in the article.
[X] Head to the Human Village and call it a day.
-[X] Home
-[X] Quietly
Hmm. How long have we been unconscious again? Well, it's not like day or night matters much for the underground.

[x] The Underground

UNLESS Darejan's really that tired, in which case she should probably go home and catch some zzzs.
[X] The Underground

God damn it Aya. What are the odds that she was stalking Darejan all month?
>>38060
Good point. Plus, it might be good to let things die down a little in the village anyway before you go back again.

Changing my vote:

[X] The Underground
[x] The Underground
Tewi's pretty cool. We should come clean with her at some point. Maybe even just straight-up give her a Keyblade.
>>38063
>Maybe even just straight-up give her a Keyblade.

Putting it lightly, I disagree. I think giving it to anyone would be a bad idea. Actually, that makes me think of another issue. Once we achieve our mission, depending on how many people know about the power of the keyblade, we may just have to leave Gensokyo after we accomplish the mission, if we're gonna get harassed non-stop by extremely powerful beings that want their own one.
>>38064
Just tell them to ask Reimu. That'll make them think twice.
[X] The Underground
>>38064
Just thought of another thing. If we want to keep any secrecy about the keyblade when we deliver this thing to Satori we should get the coat.
>>38067
Where is the coat at the moment? I think we should make sure we have it when we go underground.
If you go to the underground you will CoD home for a second to grab it and CoD back out, but not stick around.
[X] The Underground

[***]

Right. You have something mildly constructive to do, and that's better than all of your other options. You just woke up feeling like a million bucks, so you might as well get some use out of it.

You open a Corridor of Darkness and step into your home without incident. Grabbing your Black Coat, you toss it on and head back out through the same portal. You keep to the paths, heading towards Youkai Mountain, keeping your eyes open for the rocky areas hiding caves that lead downwards.

You breathe deep, and make sure to avoid any hearts you notice; not too hard because sentient youkai are quite obvious to your senses. Monstrous youkai are harder to notice, but in turn with your coat on they are infinitely less likely to notice you via their own sixth senses. If you had to phrase it in terms you were familiar with, less intelligent youkai usually target and consume humans with a greater share of darkness in their hearts than average. You are definitely included in that number yourself, however that is one of the traits that your Black Coat was made to neutralize. No 'wild' youkai will attack you out of the blue while you are wearing your Black Coat.

It takes a while to avoid the occasional tengu patrol, but you make it to the foot of the mountain proper. A but more scaling and you find one of the larger caves off the path; one that was populated by a spider youkai of some sort if you recalled correctly. Giant spiderwebs were not going to hinder you much, if at all, however.

As the light fades behind you, you find your step quickening and your posture straightening the slightest bit. You are in darkness, now. Normally one would light a torch or cast a spell to see, but you are beyond such needs. Darkness is your ally, and when in darkness, a little bit of light tends to help one's enemies far more than it helps oneself. Not that you are expecting enemies, but it's better to avoid trouble altogether, and being noticed is the first step to finding trouble.

You are almost blind, now, but it's little matter. One gloved hand traces the cave wall by your side, and your spatial sense will warn you in case of an upcoming obstacle or sudden drop-off. You walk without fear.

Then you smack into a fine web, bounce back, and stay stuck fast. Distantly, a heart lights up in interest and begins to move.

Without delay your keyblade is manifested, and with a few awkward wrist motions a forearm is free. A bit of a twist more and it's pointing at what you are pretty sure is the center of the web. Twin swirls of light anoint the tip, and a beam shoots out and strikes the web dead center. It collapses, falling off the ceiling and off of you as its stickiness completely fades.

The approaching heart is now concerned and making haste. Best to move on.

You jog now, keeping your hand on the wall and dismissing your weapon. You make it a generous distance before hearing a faint exclamation behind you,

"What the hell?"

and the heart fails to follow you further. Good.

[***]

A while later you come to a wide open chamber, faintly lit with a couple distant torches. There's a chasm and a bridge across it, with a building nearby. The torches are at the far end of the chamber; apparently anyone carrying a light source from your side would be seen immediately. You halt, taking in the scene. A heart roiling with darkness is as obvious to you as a beacon, yet it makes no move to intercept you. The building is barely visible from your side, and you are utterly confident that you are still in complete blackness yourself. You take a deep breath.

Envy. Resentment. Jealousy. A hint of spite. Spinning, churning, burning. You've sensed jilted lovers, cheated business partners, and merely petty little souls before. This smells most like the latter, but it lacks an edge; a target. It's unfocused.

This is strange to you, as envy, by its nature, tends to need a subject. Two, actually; a state to be envious of, and a non-self party that is in that state. Envy therefore smells like a sharpened arrow, directing force relative to the state towards the envied party. This heart simply spun with it, no direction at all.

You do not want to be noticed by this heart. You do not want it to become aware you exist. In a world full of terrifying beings of might and power, this one has set you off balance more than any other you have yet met.

The being is in the building, and it's probably glaring at the very opening you currently occupy. Maybe.

Regardless, if you walk over that bridge it will notice. To hell with that.

You manifest your keyblade, still secure in the shadows. Rather than flicking it to your preferred combat shape, you shake it and toss it in the air. It flips and warps and grows, and slows to a hovering halt a foot above the ground. Silently, you step up on to it and cross your arms. It rises into the air, and you quietly gain altitude, making sure not to get too close to the ceiling and whatever bats and other creatures are present. You get as high as you dare, then blast across the gap at high speed, space-affinity assisting you indirectly. You are across and through, shooting further into the cave system, before the strange heart can begin to move in pursuit. Letting out a breath you didn't realize you were holding, you burst out into a well-lit chamber that all but dwarfs the one you just passed, if such a thing is believable.

You shoot upwards for a better view (and to get out of the sudden flood of torchlight and lanternlight). A city. An entire city, in a cave, deep in the earth. Hundreds of archaic looking buildings, looking for all the world like a bigger, fancier, more populated version of the human village. Thousands upon thousands of hearts. You keep to the cavern wall because there seems to be glowing lichen or something all over the ceiling. The darkest area, therefore, is along the walls of the great chamber around halfway up.

You shoot around the edge, getting a slowly rotating view of the great city below. People going about their business; or, well youkai. The scent of darkness incarnate is distinct, if not overwhelming. Horned beings, discolored beings, all manner of youkai that you aren't particularly familiar with. Well, the horned ones are likely oni, at least.

You keep catching glances of a large building in the middle. Some of the other buildings are rather tall, and keep blocking your view. Finally, you get a clear angle; it's a palace. Huge, newer looking than the rest of the place, and distinctly empty of people loitering near it. The entire rest of the city is peppered by bursts of danmaku or all-out street fights here and there. Many of the pedestrians, on more careful observation, are drunk. You doubt you could walk through the city to the center unharassed.

So, time to do this the interesting way instead.

With a quick leap into the air above your hovering platform, you manifest your armor around yourself. A skin-tight yet rather thick blue-black bodysuit envelopes you, your black coat vanishing for now. A darkened full-face helmet is the finishing touch, hiding your now-orange irises from casual observation. You land again without incident. Darkness surges through you, and your full might is finally at your command.

Bending your knees slightly to compensate, your Keyblade drops down to ground level and blasts forward at high speed. In seconds you are shooting through alleys and roadways, deftly avoiding buildings.

You don't hear or see them at first; you just catch a few whiffs of shock and surprise. A little bit later, you feel the eagerness of the hunt, and a quick glance behind you shows a handful of beings trying to chase you. If you stop now, they will get you. If you stop now, they'll drop a danmaku duel barrier (or worse, they won't) and keep you from your goal. However, that is not your concern.

A bit more time has you blasting through the courtyard of the palace, hovering a few yards up. Most of the rabble chasing you swerves to avoid the area, but a select few follow you right in. Various animals roaming the grounds stop and look at you in stupefaction as you buzz the area, swooping down low only to shoot back up over the far wall and head out to the edge of town.

Those few youkai that flew after you through the grounds are catching up, now; apparently they were quite fast and were being held back by the earlier crowd. They are now being followed themselves by a small stampede of animals swarming out of the palace gates in the distance, and a handful of birds and other flying creatures taking off and chasing your train of followers directly. The fastest one among them is gaining ground steadily, and just manages to get into hearing range as you clear the last few buildings and scape the city proper.

"Oy, I've got you now! Stand and fight, speedy!"

You can feel her intent reverberate through the air. You wrench open a Corridor of Darkness in front of you, careening through it at stupidly high speeds. Just as quickly you dismiss your Keyblade and come sliding to a halt, taking care not to stare to deeply into the non-space of the corridor proper. Your armor evaporates, and you walk out the other side wearing your black coat; the other side being the point in the middle of the palace courtyard you swooped low to pass through. The portal closes behind you, and the sounds of a brawl can be heard faintly in the distance of the edge of the city you just led that mob to. All of the animals seem to have followed- the courtyard is empty of all hearts save your own. Smiling to yourself, you walk up to the doors and knock; after a lack of response you shrug and open them, walking inside. If this is the wrong place, you'll be out in seconds anyway.

Glancing around, you figure the best course of action is to wander the hallways until you detect a heart, then announce your presence and verify you are indeed in Satori's home. You do just that, idly walking down large, lonely corridors that seem . . . rather sparse, for a palace. Oh well. You wonder about the nature of the delivery, and note that it doesn't seem too incredibly warm outside; not enough for heat-resistant food crops, anyway. Darkness-resistant, sure, but that's an altogether different story.

You notice the heart as you reach the end of the hall and its large white double-doors. You smell . . . focus, and minor irritation. It wavers at irregular intervals, but doesn't seem to be related to your presence. Concentrating on something difficult, perhaps? Waiting for the heart to calm for a moment during a break, you find your opportunity and then knock on the door twice.

When you were first noticed by Mokou, she was a bit startled to see you, but quickly buried it under the surface. When you defeated Suika, Reimu was surprised but maintained her impassive poker face perfectly. The fairies you nearly impaled before that? They were utterly terrified, but their shock turned into resigned fear quite quickly.

The figure on the other side of this door? It was just spooked out of its fucking mind.

You physically recoil from the acrid blast of absolute startled fear and second of terror after you knocked. You almost miss hearing the girly shriek of surprise and the sound of a chair flying backwards. A swirl of emotions surge and retract rapidly, and you feel the heart crushing itself under control.

"Koishi. I have no idea how you managed to do it again, but I do NOT appreciate it when you sneak up on me like that. Now open the door and-" you push it open "-tell me what yo- wait, who are you?"

A girl with short hair standing behind a desk, with a pile of playing cards flat against the table or scattered nearby on the ground. There's a . . . an eye? An eye, aloft on some tentacles, suspended in front of her. She's looking at you, and her expression is incredulous. She's squinting a bit, and the third eye squints too. Her confusion and fear are building up, and the pupil dilates and contracts sharply, once.

She relaxes and she exhales a bit. Okay, whatever was scaring her has stopped. Good.

A jolt of confusion. Now what? I haven't even done anything yet! Why is she getting worked up again?

Dreaded realization, a sliver of hopeful anticipation. That's a funny look she's giving me now, like she's expecting something.

A wave of disappointment. Okay! Now she's depressed! Is she crazy? Did I get commissioned to deliver something to a crazy person?

"I'm not crazy." Disappointment evaporates and turns to caution and suspicion. Oh, right, hood, suspicious, fuck.

You pull back your hood at once.

"Never said you were, miss. Are you Satori?" Please be her please be her please be her.

The girl starts to say something, then stops herself. She nods.

"I am she."

Woohoo! Let's get this over with and get out of here. I've seen tops that spin slower than this girl's heart.

"Then I have a delivery for you, madame, compliments of one Eirin Yagokoro." You pull the envelope out of a pocket with a flourish, and hold it out. "Should I walk over or do you want to come here?" Or do you want me to set it on the ground and back away slowly? Anything goes when you're crazy!

She huffs.

"I told you already, I am not crazy!" She steps around her desk and approaches.

Right, not crazy, sure, how the hell else do you explain that level of emotional shifting in such a short- HOLY MOTHER OF SHADOWS SHE CAN READ MY THOUGHTS.

She stops short of reaching your hand, and eyes you warily. Logic flows in your mind, piecing together the last minute rapidly. Mind reader. Mind reader. If I was sitting there building a house of cards and someone knocked without me smelling their heart I'd jump out of my skin too. Happened all the time actually because the guys all wore the same coat. Assholes. The coat. The coat made me invisible to telepathy? No, because she's reading me now (oh god she's reading me now) and she squinted at me when I walked in and then she chilled and then started reading me reading her and AHAHAHA I CAN READ YOUR HEEEEEEART how does it feel? how does it feel? how does it fe-WAIT DON'T TELL ME BECAUSE I ALREADY KNOW!

She freezes, then is disgusted and horrified for a moment. She steps back, then freezes again, and as black a wave of self-hate as you've ever smelled washes over her, before is it scoured clean by cold, inviolate light. She steps forward and accepts the envelope, then steps back once and bows to you.

"My apologies; we seem to have gotten off on the wrong foot. As you know I am Satori, ruler of the Underground City and the greater Underworld below it. My normal procedures for dealing with guests failed me, for which I am mortified and offer my sincerest regret." She's . . . actually upset about it, no lie. She emits a quick waft of satisfaction, and continues, "Normally I would have detected a new presence and went to meet you, but as I understand it your garment protected you from my . . . indirect vision. May I have the honor of knowing who I address?"

Well, this just narrowly avoided becoming a clusterfuck. A thousand potential responses flood into your mind, your training and practice cycling through the appropriate levels of cover or introduction or misdirection to apply. In a normal situation, you would introduce yourself under the same auspice you used with Eirin, as you come here in her name by her reference. However, this is not a normal situation. You inhale, and exhale once, shuddering. This . . . this was new. New, and terrifying, and wonderful. There is only one correct response.

Darkness roils around you and your armor manifests around you for the second time since you arrived in this land. The helmet does not, however. Your Keyblade appears in hand and you flick it to rapier form and salute in one smooth motion.

"I am Darejan the Lucent Mirror, Seeker of Darkness and wielder of the Keyblade, at your service." You bow, and continue speaking while holding it. "I am a veteran from a great war distant in both time and space to this land, and my arrival was accidental. My power is in this blade, and a witness to my crashing here stole it while I was unconscious. While I can summon it back at will, physical contact unlocks the potential for someone to call on this power themselves. My sole purpose in this place is to seek out the one who touched on my power, and stop its further spread by any means necessary. This power is vast and terrible, and could tear this little world apart if it falls into the wrong hands- and if I do not act, it shall. I mean no ill to this place or anyone in it, and I act only to correct the harm my unintentional arrival has caused."

You suppress a sigh of relief. It was unexpectedly therapeutic to get all of that off your chest. The best part is? She'll believe you.

Because you have finally, finally, finally found someone you can tell the whole, insane, wildly improbable truth to and beg for assistance, that will take you seriously and appreciate the full scope of the threat! She has to, because she can read you mind, and she knows you aren't lying! You look up and meet her gaze. She knows I am not lying, she knows I can tell ifshe[/i] is lying, and she will know now-[/i] a flurry of images and feelings and memories tinged with horror and despair and regret flicker past your mind's eye -what I am willing to do to see my mission through.

Satori looks at you for a while, a minor haze of trepidation around her all but totally obliterated in the face of your honesty and happiness. She blinks, and her emotions slowly shift a bit before she nods.

"Pleased to make your acquaintance. If you would be willing to dine with me, I would hear you out. It seems to be a long tale in the telling. I have no aspirations on Gensokyo or personal power beyond what I already have, and you seem like you need to vent." Her heart flutters once, with the nervousness that precedes acceptance or rejection.

You stand tall and nod.

"It would be my pleasure."

[***]

Satori has developed a one point intimacy towards you of 'Hopeful yet Nervous Interest'

The next snip will be a one shot perspective change while Darejan eats and spills her guts to someone who will take her at face value (or think she is so crazy she believes the crap she is saying!). Forced actions of questionable wisdom such as this one will not come back to bite you in the ass. Sorry for the lack of agency during this sequence, but a degree of stirring up trouble to root out her target plus the unprecedented boon of finding a person she doesn't have to lie to more or less narrowed her course of action. Her bad mood regarding Marisa didn't help either. After the interlude her next move will be an actual choice again!

Who do we check in on in the meantime?

[ ] The Culprit (No spoilers regarding identity or how/where to apprehend them will be revealed)

[ ] Marisa Kirisame (You thought she was just going to give up after one try?)

[ ] Mokou and Keine (The rumor mill in the village is churning, and these two are watching it spin)

[ ] Reimu (Aftershocks of the day's events are finally reaching her ears)

[ ] Other (Any Windows-era character is fair game. If they aren't already involved or destined to be involved this won't necessarily force them into the thick of things, but it might give Anon a clue as to how to reel them in, unlike the Culprit option)
[X]Satori
I want to see this from her point of view.
[x] Yuuka

Because Yuuka!
[X] Mokou and Keine (The rumor mill in the village is churning, and these two are watching it spin)
[x] Satori

I'm a fan.
[x] Yukari
[X] Yukari

All the Yukari!
[X] Yukari

Because if she isn't sleeping anymore, I'd like her opinion here.
[x] Yukari

While I am a huge fan of Satori and would love to see her side of these conversations, I believe we could learn much by observing Yukari, especially since the Culprit option seems less than useful the way it's written.
[x] Satori

Never enough Satori.
Are >>38078 and >>38079 the same person? Maybe an accidental double post? Those posting times seem a little quick.
[x] Mokou and Keine

uh okay
and here I was thinking it was just Koishi influencing Darejan's personality
[X] Marisa Kirisame (You thought she was just going to give up after one try?)

Preventative Measures preventative measures preventativemeasurespreventativemeasures
[X] Yukari
>>38083
I can personally confirm they are not.
Mumble chat paraphrase:
!lBirDbIRD.: Hey guys I released a new HC.
Yukarifag1: Oh, cool.
Yukarifag1: Wait you left an open option at the bottom.
Yukarifag1: YUKARI!
Yukarifag2: ALL THE YUKARI! wait we posted pretty close together we're going to get accused of samefagging aren't we?

Goddamned prophetic. I lol'd.
[x] Yukari

Why the hell not?
calling it for Yukari, then.
I like this story, it is good. Had my doubts at the start but it redeemed itself pretty quickly. Keep up the good work.
[X] Yukari

[***]

Dreams into nothingness, nothingness into wakefulness.

Turning in bed, Yukari Yakumo mentally nudged Ran to start cooking breakfast. She relaxed, indulging in the warmth of the sheets as she gradually woke the rest of the way up.

As a youkai, she technically didn't need to sleep.

Eventually she slipped out from under the covers and checked her reflection in the vanity. Still immaculately young and vibrant. Round black pupils in bright blue eyes. Standard-length canine teeth. Round, dainty ears.

Still human-looking.

She silently sighed in relief and ambled out of her room, putting on her patented smile before bursting into the dining room. Ran didn't even twitch, setting out her food and awaiting further comment or command.

"Good evening, Ran! Good evening, Chen!" Chen was already finished eating and was back in the kitchen taking care of cookware cleanup. Yukari allowed Ran to pour her tea while she scanned a handful of reports set next to her plate. Today's breakfast was Western. A forkful of pancake made its way into her mouth and she hummed in satisfaction.

As a youkai, she technically didn't need to eat.

Various status updates from the Human Village looked normal, so she turned her attention to a copy of the Bunbunmaru. Unlike the average supermarket tabloids, most of Aya's rambling articles contained at LEAST a grain of truth; and even if one didn't then her paper's popularity and Gensokyo's nature more or less forced some element of it to become true.

Little progress in robbery investigations, Daiyousei sightings tapering off now that Spring was well and truly here in force, Ibuki Suika crushed in a newcomer's first Danmaku duel, Fujiwara no Mokou's house burned do-

What.

She skipped back up to the previous article, reading it completely. Even if it's mostly garbage, I can't see her getting the victor wrong. This seems interesting- and it's an excuse to bother Reimu!

Finishing her food, she stood up and stepped into a gap, opening a new one from inside the Borderland and leaning out to grab Reimu from behind in a hug. She was sweeping, so the broom clattered to the ground once Reimu's arms were pinned.

"Reiiiiimu! I loooooov-OW!" The youkai of borders leaned back and rubbed her nose. "A backwards headbutt? You're so mean, Reimu. I'm just trying to-"

"Be a pest!" finished the shrine maiden.

"Ufufufu, surely you don't think that's the only reason I visit?"

Reimu turned to face Yukari, cautiously backed up a few steps, then bent over and recovered her broom. As she rose up she lashed out with it behind her in one smooth motion, striking Yukari who had leaned out of a new gap to grab her again.

"Ow! Ah, ah-choo! Reimu, you need to clean your broom off! It's rude to hit guests with dirty things~"

"That's what you're complaining about?"

"Well, I know you like to play rough! It comes with the territory when I come over!"

At that, Reimu turned with an exasperated glare.

"You're starting to sound like Marisa."

Yukari tilted her head in contemplation.

"Well, she has her hair going for her, and good taste in drinking partners. Maybe that's not so bad?"

"I crushed her under a Yin-Yang orb this morning."

"Ah well, her hat is silly and her eyes are funny so I guess I'm better after all!"

Reimu just rolled her own eyes at that and started sweeping before speaking again.

"So? You just here to screw around or you have business?"

"Ara, Reimu, why ever would you say that?"

Another glare.

"Because you're always extra-affectionate when you have an ulterior motive. You are transparent that way. Like glass."

Yukari didn't let her expression slip- that crack hit a little too close to home for comfort. Her entire personal mythos was being inscrutable and mysterious, and having it casually denied by a human- even a supernaturally saturated human like Reimu -was tangible. Any other being in Gensokyo, and she would have taken offense and immediately moved to correct their impression of her . . . however, as far as Reimu was concerned, being annoying and predictable was a blessing. Better that than dangerous and random; Reimu was not one to shy from the extermination of more dangerous youkai, no matter their power.

Once they had gotten into a fight so serious that Yukari was certain she would lose. Some silver-tongued lines saved the day that time, and Reimu ended the fight thinking she had merely pushed Yukari to the point of not wanting to bother to fight any harder. She had no idea she had pushed the border youkai to her utmost limit in that duel. If Yukari had her way, she'd never realize that at all. Regardless, she swallowed her pride for once and followed up on Reimu's query.

"We~ll, I heard there was an interesting duel here today!"

"What the hell do you mean, there are always du-ouch." Reimu caught the newspaper that gapped onto her head and saw the highlighted headline. "Oh. That." She glanced up at Yukari's smiling face, then back down at the article. While Yukari might have missed the slight tightening of her eyes, there was no way she'd fail to see the sudden thickening of Reimu's mental border between caution and carelessness.

Interesting.

"Well, the article is actually sort of on target, for once. Yeah, this lady showed up, wanted to talk to me about the recent string of thefts, and Suika got all worked up from some white lies she had used. I'm sure you understand."

Oh, yes. The border of honesty and dishonesty is a fickle thing, and oni are quite sensitive to realizing they have been tricked, no matter how it's done . . .

"Mhmm. Go on."

"So when Suika walked up and started giving her crap, she went from timid petitioner to total bitch in three seconds flat." Reimu's grin betrayed her true opinion on the matter. "She started getting in Suika's face and alternating between more white lies and size cracks. Size cracks, Yukari. Even you don't have the balls to do that to Suika's face."

Indeed, but for completely different reasons than you'd imagine, dear.

"Ahaha, and then they had it out?"

"Pretty much. It was a rough fight, and obviously the new girl's first time," Reimu yawned before continuing, "but she was tricky. Suika got taken by surprise because she underestimates humans. She lost, and then there was much rejoicing. Hooray!"

Her tone did not quite convey the enthusiasm her last few words implied.

"Well, I'll be sure to sneak a look at her eventually, then."

At this point Sukuna floated out of the living quarters and yelled.

"REIMU! TEA'S READY! Oh hi Yakumo-sama."

"Ah! Still so cute!" Yukari was suddenly in Sukuna's face via yet another gap, poking her gently with one finger. While few enough residents in Gensokyo saw fit to address her with -sama, the inchlings were particularly gratifying when they did so considering their disproportionately large egos as compared to the rest of the local races. Kill one oni, and your entire civilization decides to take credit for generations after you're dead. Then their leader tries to overthrow the social order and get reduced to a live in servant. Huh.

"Ahaha Yukari-sama please stop it tickles!"

Reimu just sighed and put away the broom.

"You want tea?"

"My, I never thought you'd ask!"

Another flat stare.

"Asking is pointless, you'd stay anyway."

"You wound me, Reimu!"

As Yukari began to duck back into her current gap, Reimu held up a hand.

"Stop."

Yukari froze.

"You're a guest now. No gaps. It's rude."

The border youkai reflexively did her normal social math, trying to figure out what the angle was- but as she couldn't really note any reason for not doing so in the second she gave herself to think about it. She figured it was probably fine to cooperate. Reimu bothered to invite her in, after all.

But first, appearances! Yukari pouted.

"You won't hit me?"

"Invited guests don't get hit."

"Re~ally?"

"Rude invited guests get hit."

"Ah!" Yukari hopped out of her gap and walked inside like a normal person. Reimu just shook her head and followed. They sat down, Sukuna started pouring tea (with great effort), and Yukari once again focused on the little one.

"So, Sukuna-chan, what did you think of the battle today?"

The inchling blinked and set down the teapot with effort.

"Ah, I didn't really see much of it, I was in the cage. I did look outside towards the end, though," this admission made with a sheepish look towards a now-frowning Reimu. Yukari spoke quickly before the miko could voice a reprimand.

"That's too bad, I hear it was exciting!"

Sukuna nodded.

"It sounded exciting! And the lady was so tall and pretty and her sword was a lot like mine-"

Yukari mentally tuned out the rambling praise while taking a sip of her tea.

"-but it was (obviously) a lot bigger and also shaped like a key!"

To Yukari's credit, she reflexively opened a tiny gap in her mouth such that she did not visibly spray tea all over Reimu's face. She lowered the cup with perfect decorum, then turned her full and undivided attention to tiny Shinmyoumaru. All traces of levity, amusement, and youth were gone from her tone when she next spoke.

"Beg pardon?"

[***]

Darejan is just finishing spilling her guts to Satori, who has been a very good listener. She has come completely clean with her actions, motives, and motivations. Satori was not exactly amused about the stunt pulled with her pets, but they can take care of themselves and honestly there was little chance Darejan was getting in the front door without a fight otherwise. The conversation will finish on good terms and Satori will offer to let Darejan stay the night in a guest room.

[ ] Accept

[ ] Decline

- [ ] Home

- [ ] Elsewhere [Write-in]
So Yukari recognizes the keyblade. This will lead to trouble. If she knows anything about the Keyblade War, she knows how dangerous those things are, and the threat they present to Gensokyo.

Actually, I'd like to hold off the vote until we see the actual conversation between Satori and Darejan. You did say in the previous post that there was going to be a snippet of the two talking, and I think seeing their actual banter will help me get a better idea of which way to vote.
>>38096
Agreed. I'd definitely like to see some actual interaction between the two before voting on it.

Also, Yukari a shit, as usual.
[x] Accept

A trip back home seems silly when there's probably still some angling left to do in regards to trying to get Satori to pitch in to assisting the effort of making sure gensokyo doesn't get shafted in one way or another.
Your voices have been heard! Rejoice!

Voting will stretch for this choice until after the next update.
[x] Accept
Oh, Yukari. Poor Yukari.

(And poor Parsee, too!)
[x] Accept

Expecting Koishenanigans.
[x] Accept

Want more Satori.
[X] Accept

You got yourself another reader.
"And so I decided that causing and evading a mob would be the fastest way to reach your door unmolested, and you know the rest."

You take a moment to sip your tea as Satori digests the end of your story. Having long since dressed back down into your kimono, you had opened up with a brief overview of the world as it was at the outbreak of the Keyblade War, the parties involved, the excesses and atrocities that drew you in on the side of the Seekers of Darkness, and your general resume of your career; that is to say, dirty work for a greater good, tempered by your gradual loss of faith in your own cause as you got more frequent and deeper glimpses into the workings of your own superiors. The generalized pattern of cordoning off a chunk of land via magical boundaries, preserving a single story, mythos, or legend as a bulwark against the burning might of the Light- the hateful Guardians of Light that demanded conformity, unity, and endless selfless sacrifice in all things. The outer face presented as a greater good, with the insidious process of labeling all who refused to submit as an 'evil,' one that its conformants were strongly encouraged to unify against.

It was effective. It was mighty. And, in some way, it was correct; those who obtained the power to stand against it had to lower themselves to desperate, despicable, unethical acts in order to survive as 'themselves,' as opposed to surviving as puppets of the Light. Or at least, that was how you saw things at the beginning, when you threw your all into your work.

It felt as cathartic as you expected it to to confess, to tell your story, to lay out your actions and motivations in the face of one who would not harbor a single suspicion of dishonesty during your expression of personal truth. The story was admittedly hard to believe and fantastical to the extreme, but this seemed like the place for fantastical tales to be shared over dinner.

Dinner which was quite good, considering the amount of fungus and lichen in the meal. You have nothing against foodstuffs that grow in darkness; you just generally were forced to subsist on them in times of need rather than enjoy them prepared by one accustomed to such ingredients.

Satori nods at your thought as she glows with a bit of pride.

"I'll pass on your compliments to the chef. While we did initially consume such things as a matter of need, it did not take long for the more voracious of the youkai species to begin work on culinary advances. After a few years we had started breeding cave-flora for flavor as opposed to mere sustenance, and by the end of the first decade of our exile we had elevated the craft to including mushroom and lichen delicacies. After that it was just a matter of finding enough youkai of the proper temperament and intelligence to succeed at preparing food at such levels. In my personal case I had to find some pets that were capable of being trained by some of the city's best chefs once they could maintain human forms long enough to cook an entire meal."

You nod as you observe the various household 'staff' go about its duties. Birds, cats, dogs, and more exotic animals occasionally passed by, all in the middle of some household task or another. The smaller their animal forms were, the more likely they were in human form for accomplishing a task. You could tell they were animals without looking; an animal's heart, one it was great enough to be detectable to your senses, had a sort of inhuman single-minded focus that was utterly unmistakable. Even the various 'pure' youkai had the characteristic wispy human range of emotions, within whatever spectrum their species tended to operate in, emotionally. Youkai of human imagination were still exaggerated humans, whereas youkai animals were exaggerated animals that slowly approached being human in a youkai-like fashion, with instincts and personalities slowly warping from fitting common stereotypes to actual unique personas.

It was refreshing; the precise opposite of what the Light did to the various peoples it had gradually spread its influence to. Satori spoke up again, with curiosity.

"If Onozuka-san was correct in her dating of your soul, then only a mere four millennia have passed since your War. Hardly enough time to wipe such a conflict from history, isn't it?"

You shake your head. The cordoned zones, the areas set to independently co-exist, began to show early signs of temporal diffraction as they were un-anchored from the greater World. If Gensokyo, or rather the Outside that Gensokyo was bound to, was one of those bound areas, then the time that Gensokyo experienced while you were asleep could be much, much greater than four thousand years.

Satori shook her head.

"Gensokyo is little more than one hundred years old, actually. Many of its elder inhabitants thrived in the Outside world for quite some time before it was created. This is, in your terms, simply one more cordoned-off area that has only begun to slip in time as compared to the Outside. Your description of your 'greater World' seems to vaguely match some ancient ideas about the nature of things, like a flat ever-expanding horizon with a moving Sun, as opposed to the tiny wandering planets as the current Outside humans believe in. It would make sense if the Outside was itself one of those cordoned zones, from the time before history could ascertain the truth."

You wonder if any elder youkai might have more firsthand knowledge of those ancient years.

"No, I am afraid that even our most ancient citizens only have concrete information about the eras they were first born into by human stories and rumors. Even the gods that are credited with creating this world go quiet when grilled for details about the world's first days, simply repeating what little we know from their myths. Looking too hard at any creator-god's beginnings compared with another's is an almost surefire way to have a net loss of faith; it's probably why those particular details are politely set aside even in the most heated theological debates." She sips her tea for a moment and clarifies, "Debates, mind you, as opposed to conflicts or wars. Man does not care about the details when he is fighting in the name of faith; he is even less inclined to hear of the truth of his god's thoughts from the mouth of one such as I." She smiles for a moment, a bit of a melancholic tinge to her heart forming. "It says much that gods avoid my species as much as possible; the damage they might suffer if I call them out on their potential lack of faith in themselves must be horrific."

You nod, mentally categorizing gods as beings of Light as an aside. Not Light in the sense of your old enemies, but Light in the sense of beings that are utterly reliant on others to even define themselves. Youkai are born of darkness much like human hearts are; they can define themselves and even thrive when alone, so long as they are not completely forgotten. Gods, however, can be eradicated even if they are remembered, so long as no one actually has faith in them. They are defined by Others, and as such have origins in Light. A god acts primarily on behalf of Others, even if they are being selfish in their motives. Satori tilts her head.

"So Humans are of Darkness? I don't quite understand."

Humans consume others to survive. Youkai consume others to survive. Gods require others to survive. A human digests the stuff of what he eats, and a youkai can subsist solely on the darkness of the humans it eats once it is born. A god must have a sustainable audience of believers. Or so you understand.

"Well, youkai flocked to Gensokyo because they were having trouble surviving in the Outside world. Wouldn't that imply they are just as reliant on human faith as gods? Even more so, since couldn't a dead god be resurrected if a group of humans picks up their holy texts a thousand years after they were forgotten and started worshiping them?"

You shake your head. In your experience, manifestations of the darkness in man's heart simply subsist so long as there is darkness being generated. They don't need recognition or faith to maintain their forms. While they might be insubstantial and influence man to generate ever more darkness, they are not reliant on man's recognition. Youkai should be no different.

"Then we'll have to disagree, there, as I have met many newcomers to Gensokyo that have been starving, to put it in human terms, until they arrived here. It's why this place was formed, after all."

You decide it's something worth digging into later, but not precisely urgent as compared to your mission. Satori nods in agreement. Your next step after delivering the package was-

"Oh!" Satori exclaims, "I didn't even open the envelope!" She quickly flushes with embarrassment from being so expressive. As you understood from her personal tale, she had to force herself into expressionless monotone to soothe the nerves of almost anyone she spoke with, else they'd accuse her of nasty reactions to their private thoughts.

She pulls out the envelope and carefully pours the seeds out onto the table. She also pulls out a note.

You almost shiver as her mood cools to subzero temperatures. She blinks slowly, once, then wordlessly folds the letter and slides it across the table to you.

You reach forward and pull it the rest of the way, then open it up.

Miss Satori:

Greetings from Eientei. As I heard you were interested in expanding your variety of agricultural production, I saw fit to prepare and include some seeds that should fit your needs in that regard.

I do not ask for any payment, yet I would appreciate a small, easy favor. The delivery-person handing you this letter is a newcomer to Gensokyo, and her motives in this land are as of yet unclear. She has demonstrated guile and power such that I worry about her potential as a threat to the land if she is sufficiently angered or otherwise motivated. If you would be so kind as to send me word of your impressions on her character, nature, and abilities, I would cheerfully waive any costs for a supply of further seedling samples of this nature in the future.

With respect,

Eirin Yagokoro


With this context, you are much more aware of the subtleties in Satori's cold regard; the directed hardened frost not at you, but at Yagokoro. You speak, for one of the few times you've bothered to since dinner started.

"She tried to use you."

Satori's approval of the direction of your thoughts warmed her heart a bit. She replied.

"Operating word 'tried.' I expressed my interest in crops a while ago to some visitors; I don't know how long that information has been in Eirin's possession, but I do know this was the first opportunity she has had to take advantage of it. We have occasionally sent some critically injured citizens her way ever since the hot spring incident, and I don't doubt she's somehow squeezed them for whatever intelligence she could in the course of caring for them." She breaks eye contact so as to lessen the direct flare-up of resentment as she continues, "It's not like she dared to come and visit in person, or even send an agent. All that tells me is that she has terrible secrets, or at least secrets she thinks are terrible. About the only credit I give her is being unapologetically transparent in her offer, which is more than I can say for her actions towards you."

You nod, understanding easily that the entire pretense for sending you here was to get you in range of Satori. Honestly it sounds like the kind of thing you'd have done in your younger days- but not without your sensor teammate's foreknowledge and consent. At least, you'd hope you would.

Satori sighs.

"And I find my faith in people restored the slightest bit. Your high capacity for self-doubt is rare in humans, let alone in youkai. It is a handle by which you can pull yourself back from decisions you may otherwise regret."

You mentally note that it was also a bar to your promotion, as your doubting nature expanded in unpatriotic directions as well as appropriate ones. Apparently it also directly limited your magical potential, as the Keyblade responds to the heart, and doubt in yourself all but cripples your ability to grasp the true strength that is theoretically within your reach.

Satori giggles. "Well, as long as it is your own will and logic staying your hand, rather than cowardice or short sighted impulse, I'd doubt you have a need to question the strength of your heart."

You nod in thanks, and move on to dessert. You idly wonder if she has a list of figures in Gensokyo that have only deigned to communicate with her via post since the City was reintroduced to the surface.

"You would be correct. The foremost of that list is Yukari Yakumo, who has apparently delivered or had delivered a number of letters since Reimu came down here. I daresay based on what I have heard that she would not dare to come within line of sight of me; she has her fingers in too many pies to risk tipping her hand, and I have much too much influence with the City to risk getting into an extended conflict with." She smiles and had a bite of cake. "When we were all exiled down here, we were and handful of disparate races stuffed into one space. Now? We are a nation. A small one, but a powerful one. The oni support my rule because I am immune to lies and trickery, and the rest support me because I am not an oni. Reimu's visit introduced me to the spellcard rules, and that alone has stabilized a number of the more violent outbursts that were common around here. Now the worst one can expect from out most aggressive citizens is a set of dusty clothes and some jeering, as opposed to being eaten."

Your mind wanders to the terrifying being on the bridge.

Satori blinks.

"That . . . that is how you perceived her? Oh my. Parsee-chan is indeed a youkai of jealousy, but to actually be able to smell emotions, she must be . . ."

Your recollection fades into the absolute terror of your initial observations.

"Yes. People have said they are scared of me, but at the end of the day I am a rather weak youkai as my powers are of observation. Parsee could ruin humans instantly if she desired to, that much is certain. And for you who channels your emotions into your power, that- actually, wouldn't that be useful to you?"

You shake your head to emphasize your disagreement. One's heart must be one's own. To mindlessly be swayed by others is the way of the Guardians of Light. To some degree, you suspect it is also what happened when you were pulled into the Seekers of Darkness- you will not absolve them of suspicion of manipulating you in their own way before you knew any better.

Indeed, you only became privy to some of the more regular secrets of the organization after your name was already well known to the Guardians; in other words, after you had been marked for death by the Seekers' enemies. Only then could they trust you to any serious degree.

Yes, your employers were shady as hell, in hindsight.

"Hmm. Well, in that case, you should continue to avoid her. Jealousy is easy for me to detect, and I can keep her in check because I will know if anyone has become unnaturally more jealous in a short time- that and I can tell if she is trying to manipulate me. My third eye also allows me to see my own motives and thoughts, and any alien influence is easy to root out.

You glance at the third eye as it hovers by Satori, connected to her by a few tendrils. Struck with an idea, you set down your fork and stand up, walking over. Satori doesn't flinch as you summon your keyblade because she knows what you are about to do.

You hold your weapon up to the third eye, having it make 'eye-contact' with the gleaming blue eye which is the écusson of your own weapon. Satori's third eye blinks, and she shudders with a wave of shock as she takes in a gasp of breath.

"I, this- this is how you see people?"

You raise an eyebrow and sense her curiosity cool into deep thought. She continues after a moment.

"It's like . . . suddenly seeing in color after only seeing in black and white my whole life. Well, only you are in color, but, I think that looking into that eye lets me read your emotions like you read everyone's. Maybe."

Interesting. As your thoughts turn to what it would be like to have that eye, and then close it, and how one's worldview would differ, you feel Satori's heart do a backflip into anguish, and you snap your attention to her face.

"No, no, it's quite alright. Just, a bad memory."

It is at this point you get a summary of her sister Koishi's circumstances, and her self-closed third eye. Her loss of perspective, her loss of self, and the inability of people to remember her for a long time after she crippled herself. Naturally, your mind wanders to darkness magic, and the fact that more than once you had considered the Keyblade's ability in regards to the 'windows of the soul,' both in temporary applications of obscuring darkness (which you had actually used before), and more permanent sealing of those windows via the Keyblade's more esoteric nature (which you had not, because that was unnecessarily cruel). Additionally, you recall that people in a cordoned zone tended to quickly forget about everyone and everything they knew of outside the zone- an effect that would reverse itself if they left the zone, or if a forgotten thing would enter.

Then you notice that Satori has gone silent and emotionless. Turning to her, you smell the faintest flicker of hope fluttering in her heart.

"If you could help her, I would be grateful. Not that I have any expectations, seeing as the nature of the power you thought of is not accounting for the disconnected tendrils of Koishi's third eye."

You nod. Anything your Keyblade can open, it can close, and vice versa, to no irreversible effect- however the tendrils were a wild card. For all you know, forcing her third eye back open would cause long dead sensations of excruciating pain or worse to suddenly return. It's not something you'd want to try thoughtlessly without consent and supervision.

"Of course. If the opportunity presents itself, please make the offer, and I will gladly join you or host you at any time for it if she agrees."

Conversation turns towards more idle topics for a bit. Satori's third eye keeps staring at your keyblade which you've left leaning on one of the chairs. You find yourself explaining some of the minutia of your first month here- unimportant stuff that hadn't really come up since you were on the hunt. You got your kimono from one of the shops here for free; apparently it had been commissioned by a rather towering youkai woman, but by the time it was finished she had shrunk down to a more childlike form and cancelled her order on a whim. The tailor hadn't wanted to dispose of it, and so when your Western frame walked past his storefront on the street one day he decided that the advertising would be more valuable than leaving it to hang forever on display.

You learned that a generous subset of the youkai population ironically preferred western fashion themselves so as to stand out more from the native human population. Apparently having supernatural might allowed one to ignore the normal cultural consequences of sticking out like a sore thumb, fashion-wise. From what you can tell, 'western' in this sense was more what you were accustomed to wearing; your black coat would be such a garment, while your armor would not be. That would explain why the few that did encounter you in your coat took you seriously from the word go- wearing western clothes was a symbol of power. A minor one, as virtually every two-bit fairy that could manifest them had an outfit, but a symbol nonetheless. Being adult-sized (and more than adult sized by eastern standards) helped your image considerably, in that regard.

The oni were an exception; in the underground city they tended to dress eastern-style. They had no need to stand out with minor gestures like foreign clothes.

Ibuki Suika was, of course, an exception. Satori had been amused by your telling of her defeat, and explained that as the smallest of the Oni (but by no means the weakest, far from it), Suika was rather constantly underestimated by her peers when she was not actively assuming her role as one of the Four Devas of the Mountain. While she was not one to make completely infantile displays of might at random, she still got quite annoyed at being dismissed on sight when she wasn't actually in formal dress and standing with her three peers at some function. Her relatively recent exodus to the surface was a diplomatic incident of its own, but one that was smoothed over quite quickly considering that she had meant no harm and had clearly shown she understood why the oni were banished underground in the first place. That she adopted the surface's fashion standard (Powerful being that looks like a young girl? Frilly western outfit!) alone showed a willingness to conform far beyond that of the ancient Oni with their refusal to wear anything but the skins of various cats.

At your mental image of the diminutive Suika wearing a tiger skin, both you and Satori chuckled a bit. Then some of the other details of the conversation sink in. Peers?

"Oh, right. The other three Devas. Well, they might not care about the trouble Suika gets herself into, but anything that tarnishes the image of the Four Devas of the Mountain might draw them out. That said, that newspaper doesn't get delivered down here, so unless someone goes spreading the word, it will probably not become an issue."

Your relief is palpable. It's not that you're particularly scared of three angry oni, it's just that you have business to take care of and you have no need for a bull in that china shop, let alone three.

One of the doors to the dining room swings open, and a girl in a dark goth-loli outfit complete with cat-ears walks in stretching and yawning. She sees the two of you at the table, and tow tails jerk to attention behind her as her ears twitch and she freezes on the spot, mouth open wide.

Okay, the cat ears aren't an accessory, then. Her total shock is purely from surprise. Apparently guests do not sit down to dine with Satori. Satori intercedes.

"Rin. As you can see, I have a guest. Please prepare a room."

The cat-girl snaps into a bow.

"Right away, mistress!" She scurries off without another word. Satori shakes her head with a smile.

"As you can see, my pets all wear their hearts on their sleeves. It can make for a rather comical daily life."

You nod in agreement. As an afterthought, you recall your keyblade to your hand and banish it, so that any other pets don't accidentally pick it up. Satori blinks.

"Oh, right, I'm sorry if I was being presumptuous; it's late, so I figured you might want to stay the night. I mostly just wanted Rin out of the room, so I gave her a chore without thinking. If you stay you are of course welcome to breakfast, but I will warn you that it will be a much busier meal with many of the animals present."

You consider. With a snap of your fingers and a quick jog down a Corridor you can be back in your own home, so the travel time and distance are irrelevant. If you stay for breakfast you'll likely leave later in the morning. Leaving now means you'd wake up early in the morning. With a nod, you make your decision.

[***]

[ ] Accept (Five votes already counted)

[ ] Decline

- [ ] Home

- [ ] Elsewhere [Write-in]
[X] Accept
[X] Accept

Satori route please.
[x] Accept

We should play a prank on Eirin. Satori's assessment should be "Mostly harmless." and nothing else.
[X] Accept

I was waiting for this update before I voted, and I'm glad I did. I like your Satori quite a bit. Never particularly cared about her one way or another before, but I'd very much like to see her again. I have a feeling that she and Darejan will be great friends to each other.
[X] Accept

Mind Reader/Heart Reader OTP
File 141386500266.jpg - (374.64KB, 1119x1600, a7d520f07e355f65ff2c2044852be269.jpg) [iqdb]
38112
[x] Accept

Satori is lovely.
[x] Accept
More Satori is always a good thing.
>>38109

Yessss.

[X] Accept
[X] Accept.

I don't want this story to be dead.
>>38145
It was dying the moment it was born, anon
>>38155
Hope isn't dead.
>>38156
So it's "not dead" in the same way that a few particular famous stories whose authors have ascended to the IRC are "not dead"? I guess it's better than nothing.
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38158
WARNING: The last two posts had the same choices to vote on at the bottom, so they are totaled for this post.

[***]

[x] Accept

[***]

"I'd be happy to. A nice bed sounds wonderful after my futon in the Village."

"Then I will see you in the morning. Rin will lead you to your room in a moment."

Satori bids you goodnight and retires to her own chambers, as the cat girl returns and directs you to a guest room. Apparently it had been dusted recently, as from Satori's words it was not used very often.

Sinking into a proper mattress and pillow, you quickly drift off to sleep. A feeling of security and safety unlike any you had in your home suffuses you; the knowledge of the chaotic gauntlet anyone would have to navigate to reach you here was incredibly reassuring.

As such, dreams came quickly, and with gusto.

[***]

As the spike sank into the ground and dissolved in darkness, you sigh with fatigue. One more spike, and this cordon will be complete; a keyhole will form and this piece of the World will be ready to Disconnect at a moment's notice.

You open a Corridor of Darkness and rush through it to the final location you had scouted earlier. Emerging from the other side, you glance around and verify there are no witnesses lingering around the empty field you just emerged in.

Witnesses like the figure in gleaming silver armor charging at you, Keyblade coming down in a two-handed overhead strike.

Damn it.

Your own blade comes up to parry, and you can see the vein-like tubing throb on it as you hold back the larger weapon. Your opponent takes the opportunity to speak.

"You never rest, do you, dark-child?"

An insult, that he considers you a child. A backhanded compliment that he acknowledges your work ethic.

You feed your offense at the slur into your power and throw him off, 'winning' the clash. As a Guardian of Light was already present and attempting to interfere, protocol dictated that you were to finish the cordoning and then invoke the Disconnection as soon as possible, then force the Guardian out; you would both forget the place that had been Disconnected, but at least it would be safe from further interference.

As your cover was blown, you manifest your armor and prepare to lay down the pain. Usually you would just escape, but this mission did not allow for it.

The knight steps backward once warily, as he was expecting a chase, not an uncornered mouse immediately turning on the cat.

The stakes had to be implanted at the corners of the edges of a given 'place;' vertices to form borders. As this was once such intersection, there was nothing around. It was an abandoned area where no one was likely to come, and no one was likely to be. Collateral damage was not an issue.

As you assume your stance you allow your frustrations to come to a boil, and a black and violet fog begins to waft out around you. The Guardian takes another step back, as you have never once attempted to stand your ground against him before this day; as such his knowledge of your fighting style is sketchy at best. Usually you'd just defend, deflect, and escape when one of the Guardians stumbled into you mid-op.

Smiling behind your helmet's visor, you twist your wrist and the barbed tip of your blade rockets forward as your keyblade stretches. He deflects it, but the excess length of the blade keeps shooting forward even as the tip was deflected, allowing you to snap it back and cause the tip to whip at him once again, like a roll of mechanical measuring tape. That blow hit him directly, and as he was recovering you followed up with a similar strike from behind- one that was sent through a small Corridor you opened and stretched your Keyblade through.

You didn't play nice or fair, as you more or less used your Keyblade and some darkness tricks without the more powerful magic of your peers to back you up.

In the end, you succeeded by the skin of your teeth, but you had to reveal way too many of your tricks to him. The worst part was slamming him through one of your own Corridors to get him out of the cordoned zone, as had he remained inside he would have been able to undo your work before he forgot about the outside World. While trapping him like that was a pleasant possibility, it was too much of a risk to take. Keyblade Wielders were notoriously difficult to contain, regardless of their philosophy.

[***]

You wake up, shaking off the dream of a figure that had long since ceased to be your problem. Redressing yourself, you make your way to the dining room once more, where a handful of animals take notice of you and freeze. Many of them were in the mob that had chased you yesterday. A few in human form instant pop back into animal shapes at the shock of seeing a human, while others just gave you a glance and then kept going about their business. You sit at the same seat you did the previous evening, and accept an offer of tea. The animals at the table that had chased you the previous day hesitated, but since you weren't running you couldn't be chased. Or so you surmised from their disappointment at your refusal to run away.

As you accept an offered cup of tea, most of the animals return their attention elsewhere as their attention spans demanded. Satori emerges soon after, and takes her place at the table as well. Food is served thereafter, and the two of you quietly eat while enjoying the symphony of simple hearts and minds around you. The innocence is refreshing; you can see why Satori arranges her home like this. Silly little hearts bouncing off of each other and sparkling. After soaking it in a bit more, you open up conversation.

"So, knowing what you do about Gensokyo and my circumstances, do you have any suggestions regarding my next course of action?"

Satori hums a bit as she considers. "Well, beyond returning to Eirin with my response, I don't think I can be of too much help in that sense. What I can provide is a bolt hole. You are welcome here whenever you need a place to stay, without advanced notice, and without even using the door. That should be quite useful for you to avoid the attentions of those who would not dare my presence. As for your next steps, ah, Suika might be convinced to help since the matter involves alcohol, and I know she likes a good adventure. I know her, though, so that's why I mention it. Your earlier ideas are also valid; Rumia may resonate with your power in a useful fashion, Kirisame might become a problem later on, and the Scarlet Devil Mansion will get involved if the thief runs rampant much longer- so it may behoove you to engage them directly.

She pauses for a moment, thinking.

"As an aside, the voice you heard, when you first awoke?"

You nod for her to go on.

"That was, without a doubt, Kazami Yuuka. I have never met her, but too many of my surface guests have too many vivid memories of her for me to be mistaken about her voice. I do not know why she deigned to greet you personally, or even how she did, but it was most definitely her."

You take this in stride. Apparently you've been on someone powerful's radar since you first touched down.

"Indeed. I would warn you to be wary, but honestly considering your experiences I don't think you have much to worry about; even if Yuuka attacked you and didn't follow spell card rules, you could escape her without much trouble."

You nod, appreciating the observation from one with a multifaceted perspective.

As you both finish breakfast, animal servants cleaned up the dishes and you donned your Black Coat before you opened a Corridor to leave. Satori hands you an envelope with her response to Eirin, explaining she'd vouched for your honesty and intentions and confirmed what Eirin already knew about your power. Allowing your mind to fill with gratitude, you bow to Satori and turn to march forth on the next phase of your mission.

[***]

Since you accepted her hospitality, Satori's one point intimacy has changed to (Friendship)! As Satori has a pre-existing intimacy regarding friends and a protection against social slander tactics, this means it will be much more difficult for her intimacy to degrade!

Where do you go? Who do you go out of your way to seek out? [Names in brackets are people you'd seek out indirectly] (Just because you seek someone doesn't mean that's who you'll find, in some cases!)

[ ] Back to Eientei, to return the correspondence (Eirin, Reisen, Kaguya, Tewi)

[ ] Back to the Hakurei Shrine, to recruit Suika (Suika, Reimu, Marisa, Sukuna)

[ ] To the Scarlet Devil Mansion by way of the Human Village (Mokou, Meiling, [9])

[ ] To the Garden of the Sun by way of the Human Village (Mokou, Yuuka, [Aya])

[ ] Elsewhere (write-in); directly if you've been there before, or from the closet place you've already been otherwise (Somebody {write-in}, Rumia, Nobody, Anybody)
[X] Back to Eientei, to return the correspondence (Eirin, Reisen, Kaguya, Tewi)

We were on an errand after all, might as well finish it.
[X] Back to Eientei, to return the correspondence (Eirin, Reisen, Kaguya, Tewi)

As much as I'm tempted to visit Yuuka
>>38160

I agree that we should see Yuka, especially given what we know now. But for now, we should wrap up our errand.

[X] Back to Eientei, to return the correspondence (Eirin, Reisen, Kaguya, Tewi)
Ah, I was unclear. Pick who you want to seek out in particular in parenthesis after the destination. so

[x] Eientei (Eirin) would just be there for the delivery and leaving, and

[x] Eientei (Reisen) would be going to deliver the letter and then seeking out Reisen specifically.

Same format for the other choices. The 'main' objective character for the choice is a straight shot, while other ones will be diversions.
>>38162
Well in that case...

this is >>38159 changing vote to:

[X] Back to Eientei, to return the correspondence (Reisen)
[X] Back to Eientei, to return the correspondence (Reisen)
[X] Back to Eientei, to return the correspondence (Reisen)

Very, very glad to see this alive.
>>38160
Here

Changing vote to:

[X] (Eiren) Back to Eientei, to return the correspondence
[X] Back to Eientei, to return the correspondence (Reisen)
calling it for silly rabbit
Don't forget to make a new thread, brudda. We're over bump limit.
>>38169
What is the bump limit anyway?

Also would this thread fall off the forum before the heat death of the universe?
>>38170
Autosage starts at the 250th post, which is about when it says that there are 246 posts omitted. This thread is already in autosage.

While it may take quite some time for this thread to fall off the front page, if another thread were to get bumped, many people would not notice for quite some time if this thread were to be updated. I usually stop scrolling down as soon as I've stopped seeing new messages, and I'm sure many do the same.
I just use the watchlist. It's pretty handy.

(You should still start a new thread though. It'll have that zesty new thread smell.)
>>38172
How does one watch a thread?
>>38173
Never mind, the button's only visible on the board itself, not in the thread.
That's fucking stupid as shit.
Thread Two >>38175
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