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File 144652430320.png - (42.74KB, 277x220, routine.png) [iqdb]

I continue to sweep the path. The newcomer’s voice is a routine and, as usual, she’ll swoop in and start talking whether or not I acknowledge her greeting.


She crashes right next to me. Leaves, branches, and other oddities in my neat pile are spread all over the path. My work is gone, but I don’t even blink. I’m used to it.

“Hi, Marisa,” I mutter, beginning my sweeping anew.

“Reimu, have ya heard about the ghost girl?”

I shrug noncommittally. Her greeting is abrupt, and follows a train of thought that I am not privy to; however, I have no need to ask questions, because she’ll just tell me everything.

“A little girl ‘as been showin’ up at night, terrorizin’ villagers.”

“Sounds like another urban legend.”

“What, after all that trouble we went to with the occult balls? Nah, this is somethin’ else. Besides, it’s more than just the hauntin’,” she continues. “The girl is one o’ the villagers ‘erself. Not a youkai. She disappeared the night before all the terrorizin’ began. Rumours are spreadin’ that she died and is hauntin’ the town.”

I freeze, looking up from my work. Her expression is blank, but I can see excitement in her eyes. She’s come here to get me involved, I already know it. As troublesome as these sorts of things are, I can’t leave a situation like that alone. I pry her for more details. “Do you have any leads?”

“I don’t have anythin’ yet. I came to ya as soon as I heard about the major stuff. Thought you’d be interested.”

I set my broom against a nearby pole. “It sounds troublesome. Especially since we just finished dealing with an incident. If this ends up being the fault of the Lunarians again...” I pinch the bridge of my nose, sighing loudly. “...I’ll assume that this is something unrelated, for now.”

“So, you gonna check into it?”

[ ] Yeah, I’ll go ask some villagers. I need some more information.
[ ] I doubt there’s much I’m missing, so I’ll visit the village at night and look for this “ghost.”
[ ] Let’s sit on it. Until something else happens there’s no need to act now.

- - - - -

Updates will be short (shorter than I'm used to writing, is it legal to write this quickly?!) but hopefully enjoyable.

Part of the Carnival of Quick Words. >>/gensokyo/13978
[x] I doubt there’s much I’m missing, so I’ll visit the village at night and look for this “ghost.”

Take 'er easy, Reimu. This ain't nuthin' you haven't dealt with before.
[x] I doubt there’s much I’m missing, so I’ll visit the village at night and look for this “ghost.”

Information gathering? Talking to people? Reimu don't play that game.
[x] Let’s sit on it. Until something else happens there’s no need to act now.

Fuck this. Time to sip tea.
>“So, you gonna check into it?”

Gosh darn it. I keep messing up my own Marisa's way of speaking.
[x] Yeah, I’ll go ask some villagers. I need some more information.

He has to, at some point.
[X] I doubt there’s much I’m missing, so I’ll visit the village at night and look for this “ghost.”
Locking it now. I guess we're going ghost busting!
“It’s probably best to find out what’s going on,” I say. A grin appears on her face. “Don’t get too excited, Marisa. It’s probably a simple youkai trick.”

The grin widens. “Heh, if it was just that, ya wouldn’t be lookin’ into it. When’re we goin’?” The smile irritates me. Not because I find her smile inherently irritating, but given the circumstances it just serves as a reminder to how much trouble this whole thing will be.


“Aw, yer not gonna take this solo, are ya? After I came all the way up here to give ya the info?”

“...Come on in, let’s have some tea.”

- - -

We spend the rest of the afternoon at the shrine. We drink tea, banter a bit, but at some point the conversation turns to recent our own lives. As spontaneous as it is, I'm glad for her company.

“After the Lunarian incident, people have been asking me strange things,” I say, lying back on the floor.

She joins me on the floor, the two of us staring up at the ceiling absently. “What sorta stuff?”

“Stuff like, ‘What’s it like up there, shrine maiden?’ I’m so tired of answering questions about the moon.”

“Heh. I know what ya mean... I keep getting’ invitations to visit to Eientei. Ol’ Yagakoro probably gonna ask too many questions and give me some bizarre medicine.”

“You’re getting those too? I wish everyone would just forget about the whole thing...”

“Y’know how it is. Give it a few months and e‘ryone will have forgotten all about it.”

She’s right. In Gensokyo, fantastical things happen so often that they rarely keep people’s interest. After incidents there is always a period of interest. Eventually the interest fades away as the people move on to the next new thing. In general it is too fast-paced for me, but considering that it takes off the spotlight in events where I happen to be involved, I’m not complaining.

Orange light reaches into the room from one of the windows. I yawn, rising to my feet.

“Looks like it’s time to go.”

- - -

The sun begins to set as we leave the shrine. The cool autumn breeze pushes against us as we fly in the direction of the village. I shiver. I should have brought a coat or something; the season is just getting too cold to fly around in my usual attire.

We travel without conversation. After talking for most of the afternoon, I don’t really have anything else to say to her, and she probably feels the same. As the village comes into view, someone flies towards us.

Shizuha Aki, goddess of the autumn leaves, comes into view.

“Look, Marisa, it’s a leaf blowing in the wind.”

“Not a leaf, just a goddess.”

The newcomer pouts. “ ‘Just.’ ”

“How’s the harvest goin’?”

“You should ask my sister. She’s the harvest goddess.”

“I never could tell the leaves apart at this time o' year,” Marisa says, shrugging.

“What are you two doing, going to the village on a cold day like this?”

“An inspection,” I say, trying to sound vague. She’s just a minor youkai, and probably wouldn’t care to hear about the ghost, so I’d rather not explain the details. It’s just a waste of energy.

“Oh, are you looking into that ghost?”

...Well, so much for conserving energy.

“So even the youkai are talking about it.”

“It’s hard not to gossip,” Shizuha admits. “Well, I won’t keep you. Good luck and all that.”

“See ya~” Marisa chirps.

The fact that the youkai are discussing it makes me suspicious. Are they involved in the “ghost” somehow? It’s way too early to be making any assumptions, but I tend to piece things together long before I have enough information. Often it leads to fights with people who have nothing to do with the situation at hand.

As we touch down in the village, the sun finishes its daily ritual, plunging Gensokyo into darkness. Lamps glow along the village roads, casting sinister shadows in-between the cracks of buildings. There is nobody around besides Marisa and I.

“Marisa, do you know anything about where the ghost sightings usually are?”

“...Erm, not really. Maybe we should split up?”

[ ] Split up. Cover as much ground as possible.
[ ] There’s no rush. Stick together and be thorough.
[ ] (Write-in)
[X] Split up. Cover as much ground as possible.
[X] There’s no rush. Stick together and be thorough.
Like a date!
File 144664272539.jpg - (138.21KB, 820x580, 3e03beaec94d3ebe4682d31411529822.jpg) [iqdb]
Did we just skip the stage 1 boss? That's not like Reimu.
File 144664808361.png - (185.30KB, 800x1000, cfde7dd2197cfdb7c139743f1a71f3c5.png) [iqdb]
It's fall, so she must be busy. Give her a break.

[x] Split up. Cover as much ground as possible.
[x] Split up. Cover as much ground as possible.

Ghost story? Better split up to achieve maximum spookiness.
[x] Split up. Cover as much ground as possible.

Let's split up, gang!
We decide to split up. Both of us are easily competent enough individually to deal with this alleged ghost. She tackles the shopping district and I head for the residential.

There aren’t many people milling about in the residential roads. I suspect that anyone who would be walking about at night would be at the shopping district. Here, there’s no reason to walk around at night besides going home. Or hunting ghosts, apparently.

As I walk through the various streets, I take in all that I can. Those who are out at this hour steadily reduce. Some people catch my eye along the way, and I’m positive that they can recognize me, but they just look away after a few moments. A few start to walk faster after noticing me. Even after all the attention I’ve garnered from exterminating youkai, a lot of humans are still unsettled when I’m around. I wonder if they consider my presence an omen for bad news.

On the flipside, youkai just won’t leave me alone. They visit me at the shrine and pester me as I move about Gensokyo. They’re like a bunch of overbearing children minus the helplessness and naivety. (They are also like children in that you can be sure that if they can put something in their mouth, they will.)

I can sense a presence. It’s not here, but it is near. As a shrine maiden, I am extremely in-tune to the spiritual energy in my surroundings. I follow it, like a hound on a scent. Turning corner after corner, traversing block after block, the spiritual essence leads me to a house. It’s a simple building: not very wide, but it is two stories tall. Identical houses line the street to each side. There are no lights on, but I can sense the presence quite vividly in this building.

What sort of creature is this “ghost?” Is it really bad news, or just another harmless youkai? Well, whatever it is, I’m going to fight it. Or, at the very least, tell it to stop messing around. Using the language of danmaku.

I float up to the second floor – the floor where I can sense its presence – and approach the window. Inside, I see a bedroom. A girl around the age of nine or ten is in the room. As I float into view, her head snaps in my direction. Her eyes glow an unnatural light blue. I freeze up as her eyes look into mine. They’re cold, the eyes themselves, oh-so cold, I can feel the chill rising up my spine—

She turns towards the bed. Another little girl is on this bed, sound asleep. The “ghost” continues to stare at the sleeping girl, her face expressionless.

[ ] Keep watching. Only intervene if things look dangerous.
[ ] Get in there! Stop the ghost from... whatever it is she’s doing!
[ ] Write-in.
[X] Get in there! Stop the ghost from... whatever it is she’s doing!

Hello Stage 1 Boss.
[x] Keep watching. Only intervene if things look dangerous.
[x] Get in there! Stop the ghost from... whatever it is she’s doing!

Being passive is not our style. Fire first, ask questions later.
[x] Get in there! Stop the ghost from... whatever it is she’s doing!

Remove goast.
[X] Get in there! Stop the ghost from... whatever it is she’s doing!

We can act now, apologize later if she's an innocuous ghost. Better safe than sorry.
[x] Keep watching. Only intervene if things look dangerous.

Let's not assume things
[X] Keep watching. Only intervene if things look dangerous.
[x] Get in there! Stop the ghost from... whatever it is she’s doing!

We're Reimu. It's our job to assume.
[X] Get in there! Stop the ghost from... whatever it is she’s doing!
shoot first questions never
I enter through the window. The ghost turns, its eyes staring into mine again. The chill comes back, and it takes considerably more effort for me to move. I close my eyes. Tapping into my own spiritual power, I open them again and fix her with a glare. The chill is still there, but it’s severely muted by power from my own spirit.

As I step towards her, the ghost realizes that she has minimal effect on me. She growls, baring her teeth, but I keep walking. She flees the room, running down the hall, and leaps through a window. I give chase, taking to the air.

She runs fast, but I easily keep up with her. I could swoop down and take her now, but letting her lead me to wherever she’s headed makes more sense to me. After all, she can’t run forever, so she must have somewhere to go.

Her spiritual signature is strange. I keep calling her a “ghost,” but she’s not dead. She’s not a youkai, either.

At some point she leads me down a tight alley. I’m unable to follow from the air, so I land and continue pursuing her from the ground. This entire time, she hasn’t turned to make sure I’m still chasing her. She just keeps running, not even slowing down.

As if she could hear my thoughts, she stops. She turns, yet again trying to freeze me up using her glowing eyes.

“Again? That trick is old by now,” I call out. She doesn’t react to my voice.

In the blink of an eye, and a flash of light, a short hooded figure stands between us, having appeared seemingly from nowhere.

“It’s you,” the figure says. “You’re the one they call when trouble arises in this realm, yes?”

“Sure, you could say that,” I say. “Are you the one behind these ‘ghost sightings?’ ”

“Maybe. Or maybe I’m just another pawn.”

“It is a little early for the final boss. So, what’s the game?”

“There’s no game. We just want to live our lives.”

“What do you mean?”

In a flash of light, the two of them are gone.

“Hey! You can’t just disappear without a fight!” I shout.

Almost immediately, there is another flash of light, followed by something colliding with the back of my head. I fall to the ground, vision going dark.

“See you around, shrine maiden.”

The last thing I see before blacking out is the face of the hooded figure: A young woman with orange hair and glowing orange eyes.

- - -


Poke. Poke poke.

“Hey, wake up.”

I open my eyes, waking up to see...

[ ] Fujiwara no Mokou.
[ ] Mamizou Futatsuiwa.
[ ] Marisa Kirisame.
[x] Mamizou Futatsuiwa.

Maximum mofu.
[x] Mamizou Futatsuiwa.

She does like to hang around in the village
[ ] Mamizou Futatsuiwa.
[X] Fujiwara no Mokou.
[X] Fujiwara no Mokou.
Locking now because I started writing.
Mamizou Futatsuiwa stands over me, gently poking my shoulder with a big stick. She is a tanuki, a youkai that resembles a raccoon and is able to change its shape. Today she is in her human disguise.

As for me, my head absolutely aches. My entire body feels too heavy to move. It's like someone filled me with lead.

"Hakurei?" She offers her hand to me, a calming smile on her face. I take her hand.

"Gah... Hello," I say, wincing from the pain in my head.

"Mm. I was not expecting to find the Hakurei shrine maiden in a forgotten alleyway," she says wryly.

"It's a long story. What are you doing here?"

"This passage connects to the Forest of Magic. Few know about it, but I use it regularly to move between here and there."

A path that leads into the village? Troublesome. Not that there is anything I can do about it.

"You were knocked unconscious, eh?"

How does she know? "...Yes."

"By what, pray tell?"

She knows I was knocked unconscious but doesn't even know who did it? Maybe she guessed. She's just a tanuki, not a mind-reading satori.

"Have you heard those rumours?" I ask.

"Oho, that ghost story?"

"I met it. Actually, there were more than one. And they weren't ghosts."

"I see."

I give her a suspicious look. "You aren't involved, are you? You and a couple of tanuki pals could easily trick everyone into thinking about ghosts."

She wrinkles her nose. "A flattering accusation, but it wasn't me. What motive would I even have for something like that?"

"How am I supposed to know?"

"It's your theory."

"Okay, try this: What's your motive for hanging around Suzunaan all the time?"

She smiles. "Just a loyal customer."

I don't know what I was expecting.

"Speaking of which, I was just heading there. Want to come with?"

[ ] Eh, why not.
[ ] Nah, I have somewhere to be.
- [ ] (Find Marisa.)
- [ ] (Write-in.)
[x] Eh, why not.

Kosuzu is a good person to question about the rumors
[X] Eh, why not.
[ ] Eh, why not.
[x] Eh, why not.

We FS now.
“Sure, I’ll go with you. I guess.”

She nods and continues along the passage. I follow, fully realizing how stupid I must look for being unconscious in an alleyway. Why did I drop my guard last night? Going down without a fight isn’t like me. I must have been out of my mind.

Anyway, it is best I focus on what’s next. We’re going to Suzunaan, the book rental place. However, I’m not going there to get a book. I want to speak to Kosuzu, Suzunaan’s worker. She’s a bit naïve, but she knows a lot about rumours and such that go on in the village. If anyone around here knows something about the ghosts, it’s her.

We decide to head there separately. People already see me as strange; plus, human disguise or not, Mamizou is a suspicious individual. Being seen together wouldn’t do much for either of our reputations.

Speaking of reputations, along the way I bump into Sekibanki, a rokurokubi. She’s a youkai who can detach her head from her body at will. During the youkai rebellion a few years ago, she became uncharacteristically aggressive and attacked some people in the human village. Since then, she’s had to use disguises to remain invisible to the public eye.

Anyway, I collide with her just as I enter the shopping district. The area is crowded during the day, and with all of the people moving about both of us end up on a collision course without realizing it.

“Sh-shrine maiden!” she exclaims, taking a step back. Her “disguise” merely consists of dying her hair black. The vibrant red from before gives her a distinct image that most people could recognize in any crowd.

“Hi, Sekibanki.”

“Wh-what are you doing here?”

“Just looking for ghosts.”

“Oh,” she whispers. “I thought you were going to exterminate me or something.”

“Do I really look like the type to randomly beat up youkai?”

“Yes! I mean... er...” she trails off, smiling awkwardly. “Never mind. So you’re after those ghosts, huh?”

“Yeah. You wouldn’t happen to know anything, would you?”

She bites her lip. “Ehhhh... not really.”

“Alright. I’m on my way somewhere right now, so let me know if you see something suspicious.”

“Cut my neck and hope to die! Er, that is, I promise!”

We go our separate ways.

[ ] Go straight to Suzunaan.
[ ] Sekibanki is suspicious. Follow her.
[ ] Sekibanki is suspicious. Follow her.
[X] Sekibanki is suspicious. Follow her.
[X] Go straight to Suzunaan.

Cut Sekibanki some slack.
[x] Go straight to Suzunaan.

Yay, 'banki.
[x] Follow her
Gotta trust those shrine maiden instincts
[X] Sekibanki is suspicious. Follow her.

Let's go investigate.
Hi all.

We've done this for a week now. I went into this story with the mindset that it would be "low effort" and "fast." And while that is true when you compare it to my usual writing habits, it's not as easy as I had been hoping.

I am both studying for university and holding up a part-time job. Between these two things, I get little time for myself and using it all to write daily updates is taking its toll on my health. Ive been staying up until the early hours of the morning to write and in turn I've become more anxious than usual. I dont think this is solely from writing but it certainly has a hand in things.

I don't mean to go on about my personal issues; I just want to be transparent with you guys about this. Now, as I said before, it's been about a week. I've come to the conclusion that writing at this pace is too much for my life right now. Regrettably, I must drop out of the carnival. It was fun, and I wish the best of luck to all those still participating.

As for this story, I'm going to drop it. However, if down the road I can devote my full attention to this story, I may attempt a second go at it. If that day comes, I promise I will use the lack of a daily deadline to make it better in quality all around. As it is, writing on a daily basis has lead to a lot of rushed posts and lacklustre characterizations. (I feel like my Reimu in particular is lacking something, which is not great for a protagonist.)

That's all the news I have. Thank you, everyone, who took part in this story. Sorry to disappoint anyone, but thankfully there are a bunch of other great stories updating daily right now!

If you have any questions, I'll answer anything short of spelling out the whole mystery, since that would ruin this story's potential "remake."
Thank you for taking whatever spare time you had to write this story. I hope this doesn't dissuade you from writing in the future or supporting other writers on this site. Daily updates is no easy task, no matter how short you plan for it to be. Every writer has felt the pain of staring at a blank page or wanting to just scrap entire hours of work. In the end, it's all about the letting everyone share their own version of a series that we all love. Don't forget that and enjoy it in your own way.
Hope to see you again when things get better on your end!
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