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File 144972999557.png - (962.71KB, 811x1168, how did this reach thread 2.png) [iqdb]
38909 No. 38909
[x] An assistant librarian.

"Heeeey!" I call, waving, "Koakuma!"

Koakuma's head jerks up from scanning the rest of the village. She puts on a burst of speed, swoops slightly, and does an acrobatic flip to land quickly without flipping her skirt. She touches down almost silently a few paces in front of us, straightens, and mutters a spell as she approaches. With a flick of her fingers and a few glowing runes, all four of her wings seem to just melt away.

Of course, most of the village just saw all of that, so it feels a little pointless to put on a disguise now.

"Miss Marisa," Koakuma says, bowing very slightly. She wears the tired half-smile of someone whose day isn't going well at all.

"Heya Koa," Marisa says, "yer a rare sight outside the Mansion. Ol' Patches send ya out book-huntin' or somethin'?"

"If only," Koakuma groans. "It's all hands on deck at the moment. Lady Remilia sent me to find you, among other people." She glances at me and Sekibanki. "I guess it might interest you too."

"Eh? Whassat ol' bat want with little ol' me?"

"Lady Remilia will be holding a carnival of sorts on the lawn in front of the Mansion gates, opening tomorrow evening."

"Carnival? Ya mean like a party?"

"More or less. For whatever reason, she wishes to bring as many humans and youkai together as possible, and would like to request your assistance in keeping the peace."

"Keepin' a bunch of partyin' youkai from layin' into a bunch of partyin' humans? That's a tall order."

Koakuma sighs. "I know. I'm supposed to let Miss Reimu and Miss Sanae know as well, but I've been to both shrines and I can't find either of them..."

"Reimu was here a moment ago," I say, "so she can't have gone far!"

"Good luck gettin' 'em both to work together, though," Marisa adds with a chuckle. "So, party at Remilia's, an' she wants folks from the village to attend. Seems a bit outta the blue, y'know?"

"She decided on it a few hours ago," Koakuma replies, looking even more tired.

"...huh. Yeah, that's Remilia for ya. Anythin' else I should know?"

"Miss Sakuya is busy preparing the venue, Meiling is out looking for people to provide food and entertainment, and Lady Patchouli is refusing to have anything whatsoever to do with the matter." A distant rumble of thunder punctuates her sentence. "...other than keeping the weather cooperative for the duration. You'd have to ask Lady Remilia herself for more information; I'm in the dark here myself."

"Okay, gotcha. I'll see about gettin' on Reimu's good side for ya," Marisa says, turning to leave.

"So you'll help?" Koakuma asks hopefully.

"O' 'course! Ya think I'd wanna miss out on an opportunity for a good party?"

Marisa departs with a wave, revealing Kosuzu frozen in place where she'd been hiding behind her.

"P-please excuse me!" Kosuzu says, and hurries off after Marisa.

Koakuma lets out a long sigh, head and shoulders drooping.

"So, um, been busy?" I ask.

"Have I ever," Koakuma groans. "First Marisa trashes the library, then she comes back and dumps a huge pile of books in the way of the cleanup, then some crazy fairy turns up and starts terrorising the maids, then the Young Mistress comes out to play with her and both of them start blowing the mansion to bits, then all the fairies are too scared or dead to do anything so Miss Sakuya drafts me to help with mansion repairs, then Lady Remilia wakes up in a rage and takes it out on us, then that stupid fairy challenges her to a drinking contest, which she accepts, and loses, and then she hugs me while reeking of alcohol and says 'hey Sakuya, I just had a great idea!' So now we're trying to organise a carnival on our doorstep in just twenty-four hours which is insane because the mansion is a complete freaking wreck!" Koakuma grows steadily more hysterical as she talks, until she's practically wailing. She takes a few deep breaths to steady herself.

"...ouch. Um, is there anything we can do to help?" I ask.

"No no no, I don't want get you tangled up in this mess too..."

"It's fine! We don't mind helping out, right?" I say.

"Of course!" Shinmyoumaru says, folding her arms. "It would be criminal for us to ignore a fair maiden in distress!"

"Fair maiden, you say... you do know I'm a devil, right?" Koakuma asks.

"Irrelevant details!" Shinmyoumaru replies, waving her hand dismissively.

"Uh, well, I'd offer to lend a hand but mine are in hospital..." Sekibanki says.

"Ah, yes, I heard about that," Koakuma says. "I hope you recover soon, Miss Sekibanki."

Sekibanki looks away uncomfortably.

"Speaking of which, did you know that you were in the paper this morning?" Koakuma asks.

"Me? Really?" I ask.

"The Kakashi Spirit News ran an article on you rescuing two human villagers from wild youkai."

"Er, well, I didn't really do all that much..."

"She even went and interviewed Miss Hijiri about improving human-youkai relations."

"Urk. So, um, anyway, what can we do to help?"

"Well... I'm sure Lady Patchouli or Miss Sakuya would appreciate some help cleaning up the mansion. None of us have a particularly good reputation in the village, so it's doubtful we'd be able to convince many humans to come, and I still need to find the mountain miko..."

[ ] Let's help clean up the Mansion!
[ ] Let's help advertise in the Village!
[ ] Let's help find Sanae!

---

I am so bad and slow without a deadline looming over me.
Expand all images
>> No. 38912
[x] Let's help clean up the Mansion!

Well now I wish we'd visited the mansion more, I want to meet this badass fairy.
>> No. 38913
[X] Let's help find Sanae!
>> No. 38914
[x] Let's help advertise in the Village!
>> No. 38915
[x] Let's help clean up the Mansion!
>> No. 38916
[x] advertise!
-[x] Keep an eye for a copy of the Kakashi spirit news
>> No. 38917
File 144983144597.jpg - (209.00KB, 800x750, that's not misfortune.jpg) [iqdb]
38917
> three-way tie again

An excellent excuse to play vidya instead of writing!
>> No. 38918
[X] Let's help clean up the Mansion!
>> No. 38919
[X] Let's help advertise in the Village!
Time to cash in on our improved reputation.
>> No. 38920
[X] Let's help advertise in the Village!
Time to cash in on our improved reputation.
>> No. 38921
[X] Let's help advertise in the Village!
Time to cash in on our improved reputation.
>> No. 38922
>>38919
>>38920
>>38921
No votespam to be seen here! No sir!
>> No. 38923
>>38922
Calm down and look at the time stamps. It was just my shitty internet causing an unintentional triple post.
>> No. 38924
Okay, this is getting annoying. I can hardly write every day if I'm stuck with tied votes.

So, question: should I go ahead and flip coins or whatever, or should I just be patient? The story isn't really good enough to warrant a long wait between updates, but on the other hand I guess not everyone has the time to check in daily anyway.
>> No. 38925
It was just a coin flip, so I reverse my previous choice.
[X] Let's help advertise in the Village!

That should remove the tie.
>> No. 38926
>>38924
Yeah, flip if you have to.
>> No. 38927
>>38924
Flip it or just write whatever you would prefer to.
>> No. 38928
File 145009445035.jpg - (420.54KB, 540x971, better late than never.jpg) [iqdb]
38928
[x] Let's help advertise in the Village!

"Well, I wouldn't say I'm popular or anything," I say, "but I do know a lot of people in the village."

"People that run food stands, by any chance?" Koakuma asks.

"A few, why?"

"Nobody from the village is going to turn up if all the stands are run by youkai," Koakuma points out. "And youkai cooking is one of those things..."

"Ah, right!"

"It doesn't have to be limited to food, of course. Can't have a carnival without masks, games, toys, music, fireworks... the more humans running the show, the more comfortable others should be with coming, right?"

"Good thinking," Shinmyoumaru says, nodding. She perches on top of Sekibanki, who scowls up at her but doesn't say anything.

"Meiling said she'd visit Youkai Mountain first to see if she could get the kappa and tengu interested, since they're on better terms with humans than most," Koakuma continues.

"The kappa especially," I say. "The manzairaku and the planetarium were super popular in the village!"

"...yeah, you're obviously way more qualified for this than me." She fumbles around for a notebook and pen, and scribbles some stuff down before tearing the page out and handing it to me. "Meiling should be somewhere around here by now, but that was the plan when I left."

I look over the note. There's a rough sketch of the grounds, an optimistic timetable, a list of people Meiling said she was going to invite, and plans for stuff like lighting a path around the lake to the village. For something Remilia came up with a few hours ago, while drunk, they sure are serious about it.

"Ookay," I say. "I don't think many people will listen to me, but I'll try!"

"Wrong!" Shinmyoumaru declares. "Where's your optimism? Your sense of conviction? Your unwavering honesty? You'll never convince others of your -"

"Hey, hey, I'm not your soapbox, runt," Sekibanki complains.

"What did you just call me!?"

"Ow! Hey! Don't pull on my hair!"

"...good luck with that," Koakuma says, ignoring the argument. "Any idea where to look for the Moriya miko?"

"Well... Sanae spends most of her time at her shrine, Reimu's shrine or here in the village," I reply. "I suppose she might have business with the tengu, but Miss Kanako usually deals with them." I scratch my head as I think. "They usually try to make sure at least one of them is home, though. Was there really nobody there when you visited?"

"The frog goddess was there. She was the one that told me Miss Sanae was out."

"Then why didn't you just tell her about the carnival!?"

"I, uh, I didn't want to be rude, and she's, well... godesses are scary..." Koakuma fidgets and looks away awkwardly.

"I hate to say it, but Sanae is way scarier than Suwako."

"Hauuuu!"

"Just walk up to her, tell her about the carnival, and say you want the Moriya Shrine's help to make sure everything goes smoothly."

"But - I mean - it's a shrine - they exterminate youkai!"

"See, this is why you should get out once in a while instead of learning everything from books," I say. "The Moriya shrine don't get many human visitors, way up on the mountain, so they're gathering faith from youkai instead!"

"Faith... youkai... what? Wasn't it just the tengu?"

"Nope! You'll be fine, especially if you leave a donation."

"I... I don't have any money. I haven't had a paycheck in centuries..."

I pull Koakuma into a hug. She looks startled, but returns it after a moment.

"Feel better?" I ask after a minute.

"Umm... maybe?" she replies.

I let go. Koakuma sighs. "I guess I'll head back to the mountain then."

"Don't be so glum about it! The sooner you're done the sooner you can lock yourself in the library with Patchy, before Miss Sakuya drags you off again!"

Aha! A smile! "Okay. See you at the carnival, hopefully." Koakuma drops her disguise and flies away toward the Mountain.

"Done yet?" I ask as I turn around.

Sekibanki nods, more vigorously than normal, causing Shinmyoumaru to topple over backwards before she can reply.

"Great! Let's go!"

I head down the street toward where most of the food shops are. They're all proper shops here, but I know a few people who open stalls at Hakurei Shrine festivals and so on. Clouds are gathering on the horizon and the wind is just starting to pick up, so everyone's hurrying to get things done before the storm hits.

The first store I enter turns out to be empty save for the owner.

"Ah, good afternoon Miss Tatara!" he says. "And Miss Sekibanki," he adds, looking much less cheerful.

"Good afternoon!" I reply.

"Yes, I know, I'm not supposed to do the head thing in the village, sorry," Sekibanki mumbles.

"Ahaha, well, I know you're alright, it's just, I have to worry about my reputation, you know?" the shopkeeper says.

"Spare me the lies, please," Sekibanki says, suddenly looking cross. "I know full well you get plenty of youkai customers, and they don't bother you in the slightest."

"...sorry. Severed heads make me really queasy."

"I know, I know... look, I should just wait outside-"

"No no, it's fine. I'll manage. So!" He claps his hands together. "What can I do for you?"

"Actually, we came to ask if you'd be interested in setting up a stand at a carnival."

The shopkeeper frowns. "Carnival?"

"It's a kind of Western festival."

"Oh! Haha, now you're talking! When and where?"

"Tomorrow evening, in front of the Scarlet Devil Mansion."

The shopkeeper frowns again. "The Scarlet Devil Mansion?"

"Uh-huh. Miss Remilia is the one hosting it." He looks skeptical, so I quickly continue. "It won't actually be in the Mansion itself, though. It's on the lakeside, in front of the gates."

"But it will be a youkai festival?"

"Nnnot really? There will be plenty of youkai, of course, but it's just a normal festival!"

"No different from the Hakurei Shrine every year," Sekibanki adds.

"True," the shopkeeper says. "Still... tomorrow, you say? That's very short notice. And the weather, being what it is..." He gestures out the door.

I grin. "That's one thing you won't have to worry about. Miss Remilia doesn't like the rain, so she makes sure it doesn't rain around the mansion!"

The shopkeeper scratches his chin for a while, frowning in thought.

"Hey, Sousuke!" he calls over his shoulder.

"Yes boss?" a voice replies from the back room.

"How about doing some open-air cooking on the weekend?"

"No thank you! The rain is bad for my hair!"

"What if I told you it won't rain?"

"Then I get to say I told you so!"

"We'll do it," the shopkeeper says.

We thank the shopkeeper and leave, moving on to some of the other places I had in mind. Nearly everyone we visit is at least a little enthusiastic about the idea. Not all of them give a definite answer like the first, mentioning other business or bad weather, which is understandable. At least we're spreading the word!

After a while a large number of fairies show up in the village, all dressed in Scarlet Devil maid uniforms and handing out flyers. One of them hurries up to me and gets halfway into her sales pitch before I manage to explain that I'm already doing the same thing as her. She gives me one of her leaflets anyway.

Shortly after that, we run into Meiling.

"Hi Kogasa!" she says with a wave. "Can't stop and chat, I'm a little busy right now!"

"Actually, I wanted to talk to you about that!" I says, hurrying to catch up. "Koakuma told us what was happening, so we've been asking around for people interested in opening stands at the carnival."

Meiling stops short. "Wait, really?"

"Yep!" I pass Koakuma's note to Meiling, to which I've added the list of people I've visited.

"Well, looks like you've had a lot more success than me. How did you find so many people so fast?"

"I just remembered who I saw at other festivals! It's not a big town, so I recognise nearly everyone, even if I don't know their names."

"Right, right, I forgot you live in the village these days! Anyone else you can think of?"

"Just one more." I nod at the shop behind Meiling.

Meiling twists around to look, and turns back to me with a grin. "Saved the best 'till last, did you?"

A bell jingles as I lead everyone into Grandma Yamada's toys and sweets shop.

"Welcome back, Kogasa. Ah guess ye'll be wanting some shaved ice again, hmmm?" the elderly shop owner says, smiling warmly like she always does.

"I won't say no!" I reply.

"Fer yer friends, too?"

I glance back at the others, who all nod. "Of course! I don't think you've met Shinmyoumaru and Meiling before, have you?"

"A pleasure to make your acquaintance, ma'am!" Shinmyoumaru says.

"Sorry for intruding," Meiling says, bowing.

"Hohoho! Ye keep lively company as always."

A big bowl of shaved ice is the best on a hot day! You wouldn't think of finding something like ice in the Human Village, but Grandma Yamada has a special ice-making machine the kappa made for her. Needless to say, it's super popular. We all fall silent as we savor the refreshing chill, until I...

[ ] Get straight to the point and talk about the carnival.
[ ] Ask about recent happenings in the Village.
[ ] Ask about the copy of the Kakashi Spirit News on the counter.

---

Another update I feel terrible about. I honestly have no idea why anyone is still reading this crap...
>> No. 38929
[x] Ask about the copy of the Kakashi Spirit News on the counter.

How badly has the Tengu mangled the story?
>> No. 38930
[x] Ask about the copy of the Kakashi Spirit News on the counter.

Could be trouble.
>> No. 38931
[X] Ask about the copy of the Kakashi Spirit News on the counter.
>> No. 38932
[x] Ask. About. It.
>> No. 38933
[x] Ask about the copy of the Kakashi Spirit News on the counter.
>> No. 38934
[X] Ask about the copy of the Kakashi Spirit News on the counter.
>> No. 38935
[x] Ask about the copy of the Kakashi Spirit News on the counter.
>> No. 38936
File 145026408995.jpg - (171.57KB, 654x767, I need more Meiling pics.jpg) [iqdb]
38936
[x] Ask about the copy of the Kakashi Spirit News on the counter.

"Um, excuse me, could I have a look at the paper?" I ask, pointing at the copy of the Kakashi Spirit News sitting on the counter.

"O' course," Grandma Yamada says. "Ye got yer picture taken, after all."

I lean over to pick up the paper, and unfold it to reveal the front-page article.

"Hey, Sekibanki! Look at this!" I say.

"Hmm?" Sekibanki mumbles through a mouthful of ice.

On the front page of the paper is a photograph of yesterday's danmaku duel between me, Sekibanki, Patchouli and Marisa. Specifically, the moment Marisa was caught off-guard by Sekibanki's spellcard. Marisa's surprised face is front and center, with Sekibanki smirking right behind her, me cheering in the background, and Patchouli scowling up at us from the ground. The picture is perfectly clear, and looks like it was taken by someone right in the middle of the action.

"Kogasa?" Sekibanki says.

"Yes?" I reply.

"We are totally going to visit Youkai Mountain, I am totally going to beg Hatate for a copy of this picture, and I am totally going to frame it and hang it on my wall."

"You defeated Miss Marisa? No waaaaay!" Shinmyoumaru says, reading the article from her position lounging on Sekibanki's, uh, head.

"So that's what that was about!" Meiling says, after taking a peek over the top of the paper. "This morning Marisa turned up with several thousand books flying after her," she continues when she notices all three of us looking at her.

The mental image of Marisa leading a flock of flying books makes me giggle uncontrollably.

"You get used to seeing strange things after a few centuries as the gatekeeper of a vampire mansion, but nothing could have prepared me for that. By the time I managed to gather my wits she'd already flown over the wall and in through the library window like she usually does."

"What did Patchouli have to say about that?" I ask.

Meiling shrugs. "I haven't seen her yet. It's been a busy day."

The rest of the article is a fairly accurate description of the duel, including a mention of Patchouli being carried to Miss Alice's house. Thankfully it doesn't go into much detail. The event is presented as an example of the Spellcard Rules promoting equality between the strong and the weak, and of the dangers of overconfidence. I guess that's not too much of an exaggeration?

I skim through the rest of the paper, looking for interesting articles. Miss Himekaidou seems to like reporting on unusual or mysterious events, so it's an odd collection.

Nameless Hill Destroyed Kazami Yuuka burns flowers, displaces resident; motive unknown... nothing here I didn't already hear from Wriggle.

Aliens in Gensoukyou? Crop circles appear in - auugh, Nue! Don't keep listening to Sanae's weird ideas!

Towards the end another photograph catches my eye. It's me! I'm walking down a forest path with two humans behind me, grinning as I look over my shoulder. This must be the article Koakuma mentioned.

Surprising Savior

An unlikely ally of humans appears?


Ms. Tatara Kogasa (Tsukumogami) caused something of a stir recently when she was granted permission to take up residence in the Human Village. Though she is not the only youkai known to live there, she is the first to do so publicly, and her presence has caused no small amount of controversy among the humans.

Tsukumogami are among the types of youkai that do not need to consume humans to live, and Ms. Tatara is no exception. Her attacks on humans are limited to what would ordinarily be considered harmless pranks. Even the children do not feel threatened in her presence.
Urk... don't remind me...

Recently, however, it appears that she may in fact be actively protecting the humans of the Village. Siblings Kotarou and Setsuna (Human) were returning from an errand when they lost their way and found themselves by the shore of Misty Lake. They were fortunate enough to be in the presence of humanoid youkai, mindful of the restrictions on attacking village residents outright, but with night falling they would easily fall prey to the many beastial youkai that inhabit the region.

Miss Tatara, having arrived in the area on other business, immediately offered to escort them to safety, or at the very least promptly report their location to the village guardian. True to her word, she returned the pair to the village unharmed, even fending off an attack by wanted miscreant Kijin Seija (Amanojaku) in the process. She refused any offer of compensation for her efforts.

Opinions on the incident are divided among youkai. Proponent of peaceful human-youkai relations, Hijiri Byakuren (Magician), had this to say on the matter: "Just as humans can show compassion for other forms of life by abstaining from the consumption of animals, so too can youkai show compassion by abstaining from harmful attacks on humans. Overcoming one's desires in this fashion is a great achievement for one's spirit."

Yakumo Yukari (Youkai) was less sympathetic: "In order for the balance of Gensoukyou to be maintained, humans must fear youkai. To ensure this balance, youkai must attack humans. This is an absolute rule that must be upheld without exception."

It would seem the road to peaceful coexistence of youkai and humans is a long one.

(Hatate Himekaidou)


Um. Wow. It really does try make me look like a hero, doesn't it? I mean, it doesn't mention that I left the humans with Mystia for an hour or so, or that Seija tossed me away from them with barely any effort at all and could have easily attacked them if she wanted to. I could hardly expect any thanks for that, right? And Sekibanki doesn't even appear in the photo!

...I hope Miss Yukari isn't actually angry with me. That would be really, really scary!

"Watcha reading?" Shinmyoumaru asks from somewhere above me. I feel a weight settle on my head, and quickly fold the newspaper back up.

"Nothing important," I say.

"But I saw your picture in there! What's it about, huh?"

"Nothing! Just some embarassing stuff, that's all!"

"Embarassing? You're just making me want to read it more! C'mon, what's it say?"

Meiling clears her throat with perfect timing.

"Thank you very much for the treat, ma'am, but I really must get on to business," she says, and straightens up a little. "Lady Remilia Scarlet will be holding a festival tomorrow evening, on the shores of Misty Lake, and she's looking for anyone interested in running stalls or providing entertainment for the event."

"Hohoho, Ah'm flattered that ye'd think o' me," Grandma Yamada says. "But Ah don't think Ah'm quite sprightly enough fer a youkai festival these days, if it's all the same ta ye."

"We were hoping to attract human guests as well. Lady Remilia was quite adamant that the event be as peaceful as possible."

"All the same... Ah'd be more at ease if it were somewhere closer ta home."

"As head of security at the Scarlet Devil Mansion, I give you my personal assurance that no-one will come to harm on my watch." Meiling bows deeply. "Miss Kirisame and Miss Hakurei will be there as well, so if any youkai get too excited they will be swiftly dealt with."

Grandma Yamada smiles. "Ye drive a hard bargain, ye know that? Ah'll have ta see how Ah'm feelin' in the mornin', and if Ah can get any help ta carry everything."

"I can help!" I chime in. "I'll be going to the carnival too, and I don't mind carrying things!"

Grandma Yamada just chuckles, smiling warmly. I have a brief argument with Meiling over who should pay for the shaved ice, which only ends when Meiling realises that she forgot to bring her purse with her, before we thank Grandma Yamada again and step out into the street. The storm is really starting to look ominous.

"I better get back to the mansion," Meiling says. "I've been all around Youkai Mountain, and you've already invited more people from the Village than I could have hoped for, but it's going to take more than fairies to patch up the walls before the storm hits."

"Patch up the walls?" I ask. "You mean there's holes in them?"

"Yep, and big chunks of masonry everywhere. Unless Lady Remilia decides to do it herself, I'm the only one who can even lift them."

"Wow. That's... that's bad!"

Meiling sighs. "We'll manage. Somehow. Thanks for all the help, and if you think of anyone else, feel free to invite them!"

Meiling hurries off toward the village gate, rounding up a few fairy maids as she goes.

[ ] To the Scarlet Devil Mansion! Let's help finish the repairs in time!
[ ] To Myouren Temple! A carnival for both humans and youkai is bound to interest them!
[ ] To the Prismriver Mansion! I think I can find it again...
[ ] Where did Kokoro and Futo go?
[ ] Where did Mokou go?
[ ] Miss Keine is coming this way. She looks cross.

---

So much for daily updates. Hopefully every other day isn't too slow.
>> No. 38937
[X] Miss Keine is coming this way. She looks cross.

I'm curious about why she's cross. Hopefully we can rush on to the temple after speaking with her.
>> No. 38938
If keine wants to talk to us, she can follow. It's not like Kogasa will outrun her or something.

[x] Myouren temple!
-[x] Consider making a stand in the festival

Scared humans may want to order some swords and scary humans may need to buy needles
>> No. 38939
[x] Miss Keine is coming this way. She looks cross.
>> No. 38940
[x] To Myouren Temple! A carnival for both humans and youkai is bound to interest them!
>> No. 38941
[X] Miss Keine is coming this way. She looks cross.
>> No. 38942
[ ] Miss Keine is coming this way. She looks cross.
>> No. 38943
[X] Miss Keine is coming this way. She looks cross.
>> No. 38944
[ ] Miss Keine is coming this way. She looks cross.
Let's hear what's in her mind.
>> No. 38945
[x] Miss Keine is coming this way. She looks cross.

I take a quick look up and down the street, and freeze when I spot Miss Keine headed in my direction. The small frown on her face would look harmless on anyone else, but on Miss Keine, it looks like impending doom. I glance behind myself, hoping she might be looking at someone else, but there's nobody there.

Ulp.

"Hello Miss Keine," I say, trying not to sound nervous.

"Hello, Kogasa," Miss Keine says. She clasps her hands as she stops, and I notice she's holding one of the advertisements the fairies were handing out. "Could I have a moment of your time? There's something I'd like to talk to you about." She glances at Sekibanki, and Shinmyoumaru on my head. "In private, if you would."

"Um, okay?"

I fall into step behind Miss Keine as she turns back the way she came. She leads the three of us to the empty Temple School.

"Aren't you normally teaching at this hour?" I ask as we reach the doorway to an empty classroom. Everything is closed up and packed away.

"I sent the children home early, on account of the storm." Miss Keine glances out the door. "It's not that much earlier than usual anyway."

I feel Shinmyoumaru's slight weight lift off my head as she floats back over to Sekibanki.

"If you two would please excuse us for a moment?" Miss Keine asks. Sekibanki just nods.

Miss Keine leads me through the classroom and into what must be her office. There's lots of shelves, scrolls, books and other things you'd expect to see in an office. She motions me to sit in front of the desk, and takes her place behind it.

For a moment we just sit there in awkward silence. Miss Keine takes off her impressive hat and sets it on her desk, wedging the leaflet she was carrying under it. Then she takes a long, slow breath, her face relaxing into a prefectly neutral expression.

"Thank you for taking the time to listen to me," Miss Keine begins.

"Um, it's fine. Am I, uh, in trouble or something?" I ask. I get the feeling I shouldn't have said that, because Miss Keine's frown immediately returns.

"To start with, I'd appreciate it if you'd take this conversation seriously."

"I am taking it seriously! Very seriously!"

"Then I'll get straight to the point. What is your objective in the village?"

"...huh? What do you mean?"

Keine frowns harder. "The Human Village is, as you would expect, a place for humans to live. There are youkai here as well, it's true, but they keep their heads down and their noses clean, if they know what's good for them."

I swallow. "I'm not planning anything bad, and I don't want to hurt anyone. I just want to live here."

"If that was all you were looking for, you could have come quietly, like the others - like your friend, Miss Sekibanki. But you didn't. And you must have done your homework, because you somehow managed to talk your way into getting exactly what you wanted."

Keine is positively glaring at me now. "I'm not blind, Miss Tatara. I can tell you're not as dumb as you act."

I can feel the color draining out of my face. "B-but I'm not acting! I'm not trying to trick anyone! I'm just being me!"

"How else am I supposed to explain your actions? Look at it from my perspective: a high-class youkai wanders into the village. She knows exactly what to say and to whom to sweet-talk the authorities into letting her stay. She sets up a business which, by all accounts I can find, is not only legitimate, but excellent; she's honest, reliable and prompt, without exception. And yet in public, she behaves as though she has the mentality of a child, playing juvenile pranks, giving the village children dangerous ideas, ignoring my warnings and mocking my attempts at conversation."

"I wouldn't dream of mocking you, Miss," I say quietly.

"Then stop acting like you're nine years old!" Keine slaps her palms on the table.

"I'm not trying to! I'm just trying to be nice to people!"

"Since when have youkai cared about being nice!?"

"Since not being nice gets us exterminated! I don't eat people! I don't hurt people! I'm not even good enough to surprise people! I'm no good at doing bad things, so I'm trying to do good things instead! Why can't you believe that I'm not scheming or acting or trying to trick everyone and that's really all there is to it!?"

I pause for breath and realize I'm leaning right over the desk. I think I may have broken it, too. My face is so close to Keine's that she's leaning away from me, wide-eyed and tense for a fight.

"Ah..." I slowly release my grip on the edge of the desk and sit back down. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to get angry."

Keine takes a slow, calming breath as she sits up straight again. "No... anger is something I understand. We all have our breaking point, and now I know yours."

"Were you... testing me?"

"...more or less. I am very concerned about your intentions and angry at your childish behaviour. Maybe more than I realized." Keine takes another deep breath. "You seem to be telling the truth, so I'll be honest with you. Kogasa, you scare me."

"...what?" I ask, staring at her in disbelief.

"You scare me," Keine repeats, corners of her mouth twitching upwards. "I dedicated my life to protecting the humans of the village from youkai, and I've been doing it since long before Reimu came up with the spellcard rules. You scare me because if you were to turn on us, I'm not sure I could stop you."

...if I get any more confused, I think my face is going to break. "But... that's... you're way stronger than me!"

Keine chuckles, smiling properly now. "I'm flattered, but I think you might be overestimating me. My bark is, unfortunately, much worse than my bite."

"You've fought Miss Reimu!"

"So have you. And if I remember rightly, we were both soundly beaten."

"But... but..." I trail off into silence.

"Whatever I may think of you," Keine continues after a moment, "you at least seem to be a youkai of your word, so it would ease my mind if you would promise me one thing."

I fidget uncomfortably. "Like what?"

"Promise me you will not harm the humans of the village."

"But... that's not allowed anyway! We'd get exterminated for that!"

"Punishment after the fact does not undo the crime," Keine says matter-of-factly, "especially if the crime is murder."

"Oh. Right. Then... I promise I won't harm any humans from the village, for as long as I'm living here."

Keine smiles again. "I can hardly ask for more than that from a youkai now, can I? Thank you, Kogasa."

I look away and squirm. Hearing nice things from Miss Keine is really weird.

"Speaking of which," Keine continues, "I'm told I have you to thank for rescuing two of my former students last night."

My confused brain takes a moment to catch up with the sudden change of subject. "Huh? Oh! Um, I guess so? I didn't really do much, though..."

"You did enough, and that's what matters."

"Umm, if that's all... can I go now?"

"Of course. I imagine you have things to do before the storm gets here."

I pick myself up and start towards the door, but one last look around the room reminds me that I nearly broke Keine's desk in half.

"I'm, uh, I'm sorry about your desk," I say.

Keine brushes it off. "Better it than me. Even Marisa hasn't always had that much restraint. Take care, now."

I shuffle out of Keine's room and through the gloomy classroom. Sekibanki and Shinmyoumaru are waiting at the door.

"Is everything all right?" Sekibanki asks, looking a little concerned.

"We heard shouting," Shinmyoumaru adds.

"Huh? Oh, um, it was just a little misunderstanding. It's all cleared up now!"

I put on the best grin I can manage. They don't look convinced.

"...can we just forget about it and do something else now, please?" I ask, letting my face fall.

"Uh, sure, but we're gonna have to be quick about it," Sekibanki says.

A rumble of thunder reminds me why it's so dark outside. The storm is almost here, and the wind is getting fierce.

[ ] Let's go home! It's uh, about time I did some cleaning anyway...
[ ] To Myouren Temple! I'm sure they won't mind me waiting out the storm there!
[ ] To the Scarlet Devil Mansion! I think I can make it before the storm hits!

---

I hate myself for picking the genre I'm worst at writing, then doing it well enough people won't let me stop.
>> No. 38946
>I hate myself for picking the genre I'm worst at writing, then doing it well enough people won't let me stop.

If you want to stop, then do so. Don't force yourself to write a story you don't enjoy writing. Your enjoyment is just as important as ours!

[x] To Myouren Temple! I'm sure they won't mind me waiting out the storm there!
>> No. 38947
[X] Let's go home! It's uh, about time I did some cleaning anyway...
>> No. 38948
[x] To Myouren Temple! I'm sure they won't mind me waiting out the storm there!

Of course you can stop if you want to.
>> No. 38949
[x] To Myouren Temple! I'm sure they won't mind me waiting out the storm there!

Bad news! This is actually what you're best at!!
>> No. 38950
[X] To Myouren Temple! I'm sure they won't mind me waiting out the storm there!

You can of course stop at any time if you are not enjoying writing this. That being said I think that you are being overly critical, if so many people like this quest you must be doing something right. If you do feel that the quality is not good enough I recommend one of two things. Identify a couple concrete things you can improve, or get a beta or another writer to help you out. Just pushing on out of some perverse sense of duty to us readers will surely end badly. If you have to take a hiatus or something to figure out how you want to handle the quest than do so. It is better than you burning out and completely abandoning it.
>> No. 38951
[X] To Myouren Temple! I'm sure they won't mind me waiting out the storm there!

Like other anons said, you don't have to push yourself. If you need a break to improve your writing, you should totally do it. I am enjoying this and I think you are too paranoid about your writing but you are the writer so the ultimate decision belongs to you.
>> No. 38952
File 145068483496.jpg - (681.67KB, 900x675, why am i still posting hina.jpg) [iqdb]
38952
> overly critical
> paranoid

I guess I am a bit of a perfectionist. If it's worth doing, it's worth doing well, right? I want to write, and you lot want to read what I write, so that makes it worth doing.

As far as all the talk of taking a break goes, you're completely missing the joke. This story was intended as practice, so I picked stuff I knew I had trouble with. Then I went and put so much effort into it that it came out good, so here I am stuck with a story that's basically made of my personal kryptonite. It's like putting an electrified plate of bananas in front of a monkey with short-term memory loss.

On the flip side, I've been writing way faster than I used to, and I've done a pretty good job of keeping the story together with no planning whatsoever, so it was totally worth it. If I could just exorcise my dialog and characterization demons, I'd be all set.
>> No. 38953
[x] To Myouren Temple! I'm sure they won't mind me waiting out the storm there!

Writing a CYOA is an exercise in letting go of your notions of what's 'good' or 'right'. You'll drive yourself mad otherwise.
>> No. 38954
[x] Myouren

I don't like that maybe in the sdm choice
>> No. 38988
File 145096227975.jpg - (862.39KB, 2247x1635, wrong weather but you get the idea.jpg) [iqdb]
38988
[x] To Myouren Temple! I'm sure they won't mind me waiting out the storm there!

"Well then, let's go!" I say, and set off at a brisk pace out of the village.

Rain doesn't bother me of course, but umbrellas are weak to wind and thunder is on a level by itself, so even I stay indoors when a big storm hits. I fly along the path from the village to Myouren Temple, just to make sure I get there in time. We arrive just as Kyouko is heaving the temple gate closed.

"Wah, Kogasa! What are you doing out in this!?" Kyouko says, as loud as ever.

"This is sudden, but I have a message for the temple and I need to shelter somewhere anyway, so can I come in?" I ask.

"Sure!"

I help Kyouko with the gate - it's not heavy enough to bother youkai like us, but the wind is blowing it around - and follow her inside. With the big sturdy doors closed you can hardly hear anything from outside. It's really peaceful and quiet.

"So!" Kyouko says cheerfully, making it not so quiet anymore, "what was this about a message?"

"Right," I say. "Ahem... Miss Remilia is holding a Western-style festival outside her mansion tomorrow, and everyone is invited."

"That sounds great, but... Lady Hijiri doesn't approve of noisy gatherings..."

"This one's different! I'm not sure why, but Miss Remilia wants both humans and youkai to come. She's even asked Miss Reimu and Miss Sanae to help make sure no-one gets hurt, so she must be serious about it!"

Kyouko perks up at that, but she still looks apprehensive about something. "Oh! I, uh, guess we should ask Lady Hijiri about it, then."

"Ask Lady Hijiri about what?"

"Hyaaaa!" I jump so hard I nearly hit the roof and spin around. "M-Miss Ichirin, I d-didn't see you there!"

Miss Ichirin is standing with folded arms and a no-nonsense expression. The huge, pink, always angry face of of her inseperable companion Unzan glares down at us from above her.

Ichirin raises an eyebrow at me. "This had better not be anything like your last visit."

Oh crap! I forgot about that!

"Th-that wasn't me, I swear! I just stole everyone's towels, I had nothing to do with -"

"I was talking about you scaring Kyouko here into unconsciousness, but thank you for reminding me!" Ichirin says, with really scary smile!

"Aha... ahahahaha..."

"Oh come on, it was just a bit of fun!" Kyouko says. "We're all girls here, except for Unzan, and you know he's above that sort of thing, right?"

Unzan closes his eyes and lifts his chin haughtily, as if offended the question even had to be asked.

Ichirin sighs, finally letting her arms fall. "Well, if you're just here to wait out the storm, that's fine, but no funny stuff, understood?"

"Yes Ma'am!" I reply.

"Don't 'Ma'am' me. Now, what was it you were thinking of asking Lady Hijiri?"

"Er..."

"Lady Remilia is holding a gathering for both humans and youkai, and Kogasa has come to ask us if we'd like to attend," Kyouko answers primly.

Ichirin frowns. "A gathering for both humans and youkai? What kind of gathering?"

"It's just a normal festival, really," I say.

"Then what's so special about it?"

"Well, um, she's gone to a lot of trouble to get all different sorts of people to open stands there? And she's enlisted Miss Marisa, Miss Reimu and Miss Sanae to make sure the humans feel safe?"

"...and why would Miss Scarlet, of all people, be doing this?"

"I, uh, don't know. Miss Remilia does odd things a lot. But she must be serious if she's invited the best youkai exterminators in Gensoukyou to her doorstep, right?"

Ichirin looks uneasy. "If she isn't planning anything untoward, it would be an excellent opportunity to promote Myourenji's vision of peace, but on the other hand, if she is..."

"Something worth asking Lady Hijiri, right?" Kyouko asks.

Ichirin nods, frowning. "This way please," she says, and starts off down the hall.

"Why didn't you back me up?" I whisper to Sekibanki.

"And make that guy glare at me? Hell no," Sekibanki replies, nodding at Unzan.

Unzan glares at Sekibanki. Sekibanki squeaks and hides behind me again.

"He's not that bad, once you get used to him," Shinmyoumaru says, still perched on top of Sekibanki. "He's just a little intense!"

"Why didn't YOU speak up then?" Sekibanki shoots back.

"There is a time and a place for every word and act," Shinmyoumaru solemnly replies.

Ichirin leads us to Miss Byakuren's room. The rain is pouring down by now, but everything sounds muted and distant from inside the temple.

"Lady Hijiri?" Ichirin asks at the door. "Miss Tatara is here, with a message for you."

Ichirin pauses for a moment while Hijiri presumably says something we can't hear, before she slides the door open all the way.

"Lady Hijiri will see you now," Ichirin says, gesturing for me to enter.

I swallow. When she says it like that, it makes me feel like I'm intruding on someone really important.

...I guess I sort of am, aren't I? That's not helping me feel any better! I take a deep breath and step into the room. Ichirin closes the door behind me, without following me in.

"Back so soon, Kogasa?" Byakuren says, smiling warmly as she always does. "I was worried I might have frightened you off for some time."

"Er, well, I did kind of deserve it..." I say sheepishly as I sit down.

"If you understand your wrongdoing then all is well." She leans to the side oddly. "Hello there, Sekibanki. You really don't have to hide from me, you know."

I nudge Sekibanki out from behind me and onto my lap.

"I, uh... hi. I'm, um, just tagging along. Again," she says, trying to avoid looking at Byakuren.

Shinmyoumaru stands up, mindful of her footing on Sekibanki's hair, and bows to Byakuren. "Greetings once again, Miss Byakuren. Please pardon my intrusion."

"Not at all! Now, Ichirin said you have a message for me?"

For what feels like the hundredth time today, I explain about the carnival. Byakuren listens quietly, only speaking to prompt me when I stop talking.

"So since you're interested in humans and youkai getting along better, I thought you'd be interested in the carnival too," I finish.

"Indeed I am!" Byakuren says, looking a lot more enthusiastic than I thought she would. "I think this is a wonderful idea, and I am very grateful that you've brought it to my attention."

"I, uh, don't mean to be rude," Sekibanki says, surprising everyone, "but it's just a party, right? I, y'know, didn't think you were big on those."

Byakuren laces her fingers on her desk. "It has recently been brought to my attention that Buddhism is seen by many as rather... old-fashioned. The humans in particular find it obscure and difficult to relate to. I suppose it is hardly surpring, given the length of my... absence... that I should need to refine the manner of my teaching."

"How are you going to do that?" I ask.

"As I am repeatedly informed by a certain member of the temple, whom I know to have good hearing and a tendency to eavesdrop, the youth of today feel entitled to a great degree of freedom, and do not take well to the notion of restrictions. As the core tenets of Buddhism include self-moderation and self-denial, this causes no small amount of friction."

"People don't like being told what they should do, and you're telling them what they should do, so they don't like it?"

Byakuren's smile increases, which is pretty impressive and actually a bit scary. "You are very perceptive, did you know that? That's exactly my solution."

"I, uh... huh?"

"In your words, I have been telling people what they shouldn't do. In order to make my teachings more palatable, I need to tell them what they should do instead."

"Ooh! I get it! So, um, how are you going to do that?"

"As the very same member of the temple, who still has good hearing and is still eavesdropping, has also told me, actions speak louder than words. I, and the other members of the temple, need to do more things to gain the respect of the people. Things that they can look up to, and, more importantly, things that they feel they can do themselves. Things that will hopefully open their minds to the virtues of restraint, and make the teachings of Buddhism more approachable."

"Meaning, you need to show off and do good things, so other people will want to do good things too!"

Byakuren's smile gets even more radiant. "A strategy inspired by the simple wisdom of a certain umbrella youkai."

...oh. Oh. Hauuuuu!

"There's no need to look so aghast! I can't help but hear news of your actions, and you've accomplished more than you know!"

"But... I was... just... doing what you told me to..."

Byakuren's smile gets less scary, and she leans over the table to ruffle my hair. "I merely provided the spark; it is you who lit the fire."

"...that's one of those Buddhist sayings, isn't it?"

"Not really, I just made it up now," Byakuren says. "It's not hard to sound wise, just a few vague analogies and you're there."

I gape at her as she gives me a sly wink.

"Actually being wise is far more difficult, and the first step to getting there is to admit that you don't know where you're going."

"Is that another vague analogy?"

"Yes."

Byakuren shifts from sitting in seiza to sitting with her legs crossed, and floats into the air in a comical fashion. She holds a finger to her lips before floating over to the door, and throwing it open in one quick tug.

Kyouko is kneeling with her head next to where the door was, one ear still up like it was leaning on the door. Since Byakuren is still hovering just above the ground in a sitting position, her face is right in front of Kyouko's.

"It's rude to listen in when other people are talking, Miss Kasodani."

"I was, er, just keeping watch!" Kyouko halfheartedly suggests.

"It's also rude to lie, Miss Kasodani."

Kyouko slowly droops, her ear flopping down and her head tilting to face the floor. "...sorry."

I can't see Byakuren's face right now, but this is the part where she smiles. "We weren't discussing private matters, so I'll let you off this time. Now, Miss Tatara and her companions will no doubt wish to stay here until the storm abates, so why don't you return their favour from last time and show them some hospitality?"

"Can do!" Kyouko says, bowing, which nearly results in her stuffing her face into Byakuren's lap. She goes red with embarassment and scoots back a bit before trying again.

Byakuren, still floating around like a silly cliché, turns to face me. "If you would please excuse me for now, I have a busy evening to plan."

I get up, holding the oddly motionless Sekibanki in my arms as I do so, and hurry out of the room.

"I, um, thanks for... uh..." I trail off as I realize I'm not sure what I'm thanking her for.

"...not lecturing you?" Byakuren suggests, smiling.

"N-no, not that that was a bad thing, but, no, wait, urk!"

Kyouko grabs the back of my collar and drags me down the hall. Byakuren waves and closes her door.

"Well," Kyouko says, "that didn't go too badly, all things considered!"

...

"Hey, are you guys all right?" Kyouko asks.

"...Shinmyoumaru?" Sekibanki says.

"...yes?" Shinmyoumaru replies.

"Is she stacked, or is she stacked?"

"She is most definitely stacked."

Kyouko and I share a look. I drop Sekibanki. They both manage to catch themselves before they hit the ground.

"I guess I deserved that. Sorry," Sekibanki says.

"I was... merely awed by the difference in scale. I apologise for how I must have sounded," Shinmyoumaru says, sounding insincere.

"So!" Kyouko says, loud enough to make me wince, "who should we bug next? We are gonna bug someone, right?"

[ ] Nue
[ ] Minamitsu
[ ] Nazrin
[ ] Shou
[ ] Ichirin Ahahaha no thank you!
[ ] Actually, some food would be nice.

---

So, uh, as an excuse - or maybe an apology - for being so slow, I've started writing a silly Christmas sidestory. It features a bunch of characters Kogasa hasn't visited yet going bananas and dragging a bunch of other people Kogasa (mostly) hasn't visited yet to a wacky Christmas party.

Or it would, but it's really long and keeps getting longer and I'm really slow so it won't be finished in time. Should I go for it anyway? It's a bit different to the main story; for a start, Kogasa hardly even appears. It's also badly written, but you should know by now I say that about everything I write.
>> No. 38991
[X] Nue
>> No. 38992
[X] Shou

Go ahead with the sidestory.
>> No. 38994
[x] Nue

Never not post wacky christmas parties.
>> No. 38995
[X] Nue

Shitty side stories are great.
>> No. 38996
Kogasa is praised, success!

[x] Minamatsu
How is a former sailor dealing with this storm?

About the story... If November taught me anything is that anon's resistance to shitiness is higher than I thought (no, I'm not talking about this story) So I say go for it!
>> No. 39004
[x] Nue
>> No. 39015
[X] Shou
>> No. 39042
[X] Nue

I love themed sidestories, and I personally don't care about them being late, so do it!
>> No. 39056
File 14511880904.png - (1.61MB, 800x1131, merry cursemas.png) [iqdb]
39056
The last week of the year has its boot firmly planted on my ass, as usual, so I may as well let you know that progress is looking very unlikely right now.

I'm trying to get the Christmas thing done first, but I have no idea how that's going because I keep coming up with more crazy shit to throw in. I'm going to have to draw the line somewhere.
>> No. 39132
I'm not dead! Well, not yet anyway.

I told myself I was going to get back to this in a month, and now it looks like it's going to be two, so here I am posting stuff nobody wants to read because I hate it when writers just up and vanish. But I already did that didn't I ahahahaha fml.

So, yeah. See you in another month or so... weather permitting.
>> No. 39135
I'd still rather read a "no progess" report than total silence. Thanks for letting us know.
>> No. 39158
Seconded.
>> No. 39265
Um... is this still going? I mean, the last "no progress" report was at the end of December, so it's not looking good...
>> No. 39266
File 14614760921.png - (1.10MB, 1060x1500, no wait I can explain aaaaaah.png) [iqdb]
39266
Welp. No excuses, I'm just plain lazy. Took a break, lost momentum, hard to get rolling again, you know the drill.

Updates coming whenever pic related manages to drag me back to work.
>> No. 39274
File 146207383675.png - (1.17MB, 1228x868, not hiding.png) [iqdb]
39274
Nothing like a three-month hiatus to knock you back to 70 words per day. Sorry for the wait.

[x] Nue

"Well, I did promise Miss Ichirin I wouldn't cause trouble so... is Nue around?" I ask.

"Nue?" Kyouko asks, tilting her head to one side in thought. "I saw her when we started closing up for the storm, so she should be around somewhere."

We start wandering around the temple, checking Nue's usual hiding places. Her favourites are up on the roof and out in the graveyard, but even Nue isn't silly enough to go outdoors in a thunderstorm. Nobody we meet has seen her, but that's to be expected.

Eventually we catch the sound of voices out the back of the temple. I can't make out what they're saying over the sound of the storm, but there's definitely someone out there. Kyouko opens the back door a crack and pokes her head out.

"Aha, there you are! Oh... I'm not interrupting anything, am I?" Kyouko says.

"Nah, just a boring theological discussion," Nue's voice replies.

Kyouko opens the door wider, and I see Nue sitting on the back steps, just out of reach of the rain thanks to the temple's wide eaves.

"Never debate the meaning of life with someone who's already dead," the figure next to Nue adds, before bending over backwards until she's looking right at me. "Hello Kogasa."

"Hello Yoshika," I reply, smiling awkwardly.

"I haven't seen you around the graveyard lately. What have you been up to?" Yoshika asks.

"Er, well, kind of a lot actually..."

I end up sitting down beside Nue as I start narrating my recent adventures all over again. But it's not just me talking this time; Nue and Shinmyoumaru are both happy to regale everyone with probably-exaggerated tales of their own exploits. Even Sekibanki has a few stories to tell.

I'm in the middle of telling Nue off for messing up some poor farmer's fields when a loud clunk from behind us makes everyone except Yoshika jump.

Nazrin scowls at us from the doorway. "I thought you were going to find Nue, not disappear as well."

"It's not like I'm hiding or anything, geez," Nue whines.

"Wait, how long have we been out here?" Kyouko asks.

A glance at the sky tells me... not a whole lot, since the storm made it dark early, but I can't actually see the clouds anymore so I guess the sun must have set?

"Over an hour," Nazrin confirms. "Everyone else is getting ready to eat."

"Whaaaaaat!?"

"Oh man, food! I nearly forgot that was a thing," Nue says, already getting up.

"Well, thank you for keeping me company," Yoshika says, turning to look at me. "And thank you for letting me know about the carnival. I'll pass on the word to the others, if they haven't heard already."

"...Miss Miyako, wasn't it?" Nazrin asks, only just noticing her. "What are you doing here at this hour?"

Yoshika makes a lazy gesture at the storm with her free hand. "The rain caught me napping. Don't worry, it's not a long walk home, and I don't mind getting wet."

Nazrin's frown deepens. "Are you sure? It would be terribly rude of us to shut you out in this, rival faith or no. You're welcome to stay the night."

"Well then, since you're offering..."

Yoshika slowly gets to her feet and stretches, her joints making painful-sounding cracks and pops that set my teeth on edge.

"I will have to ask that you not eat us out of house and home, though," Nazrin adds.

Yoshika just chuckles. "Of course."

I follow everyone else back inside the temple. Nue and Kyouko are already out of sight, so Nazrin leads the way, muttering something about manners under her breath.

When we reach the dining room I realize that there are a lot more people here than I remember. Youkai of all kinds are crowded around the tables, most of them completely unfamiliar... and quite a bit rowdier than the disciples of a Buddhist temple probably should be at mealtime. At least the food seems to be appropriate.

I spot Nue's red and blue wings across the room, and she waves me over, patting a space beside her.

"I saved you a spot," Nue says, already helping herself to some rice.

"When did Myouren Temple get this popular?" I ask as I sit down. Shinmyoumaru lands on the table between us.

"We started getting a lot more interest when all those urban legends started popping up," Kyouko replies, seated on Nue's other side.

"Which, funnily enough, was around the same time Hijiri started riding that motorcycle around," Nue adds with a smirk.

"What's a motorcycle?" Sekibanki asks.

"It's an Outsider vehicle," Nue explains as she serves herself some rice. "Kind of like a wheeled, mechanical version of a horse, I guess?"

"Okay... so, what does that have to do with the Temple getting more followers?" Sekibanki asks.

I snag Koishi's wrist before she can empty Nue's bowl a second time.

"What are you doing?" I hiss.

"It's less about the bike and more about what she wears while riding it," Nue continues, glancing over at the table Byakuren and the others are sitting at.

"Other people's food tastes the best!" Koishi says cheerfully. "You should try it too!"

"You have to see it," Shinmyoumaru says.

I scowl at the smiling umbrella thief. "Why are you even here?"

"Cut it out, you two," Kyouko says, elbowing Nue in the ribs.

"'Cause the people here are so interesting! And that makes the food really tasty!" Koishi replies.

I groan and rub my temples. Just looking at her is making my head hurt, like she's really hard to focus on.

"Hey. You okay?" Sekibanki asks, looking at me with a slight frown.

"I think so..." I say. "Uh, this might sound weird, but who's sitting to our left?"

Sekibanki glances right at Koishi. "Some guy I've never seen before. Might be a tanuki, if his tail is anything to go by. Why?"

"Um. Do you remember Koishi?"

"...who?"

"The girl who stole my umbrella yesterday."

"I did?" Koishi asks, tilting her head to one side.

"Right after we met Kokoro," I add.

"Would you be talking about Komeiji Koishi?" Shinmyoumaru asks.

"Hello!" Koishi says, waving at the inchling.

"Hey, yeah, I remember her!" Sekibanki says, her face lighting up. "How'd I forget about that?"

"Ah, it's you!" Shinmyoumaru exclaims.

"She's sitting between us and the tanuki-looking man," I tell Sekibanki.

"I challenge you to a duel!" Shinmyoumaru intones, raising her needle sword.

"Huh? She is?" Sekibanki asks, looking right at Koishi but apparently not seeing her.

"Okay!" Koishi says, bouncing to her feet.

"Not in here!" I interrupt. "Leave it until morning!"

"Oh. Right, of course," Shinmyoumaru says.

"Leave what until morning?" Sekibanki asks, looking confused.

I spend the rest of dinner trying to pretend Koishi isn't there, except to stop her repeated attempts at stealing our food.

-----

BOOM.

Wah! What was that!?

It takes me a moment to get over the fright and recognise the sound of a spellcard declaration. There must be a duel going on nearby.

...and it's still dark outside. Ugh.

"'S too early for this," Sekibanki grumbles from somewhere behind me.

I can hardly get back to sleep with the noise of a fight going on right outside, and I can already hear the sounds of other people up and about in the temple, so I drag myself out of bed and start getting dressed. I can't find a comb anywhere, so I settle for smoothing my hair out with my fingers as I shuffle to the door and peer out into the darkness.

"'Mornin' sleepyhead," Nue says, grinning. She and Minamitsu seem to be... mopping the floor together? I can only just make them out in the dim light.

"What time is it?" I mumble, before stifling a yawn.

"Sunrise," Nue replies. "Temple life starts early."

I step out of the room, and promptly almost slip over.

"Whoa... uff. Isn't it a bit dangerous to be mopping when it's still dark?" I ask.

"Sooner we start, sooner we finish!" Nue replies. It's not like her to be cheerful about doing chores.

"You're not supposed to be helping me, you know," Minamitsu says. She looks up at me and grins sheepishly. "I got demoted to swabbie for sinking a bar."

"A... bar?" I ask.

"Yup."

"As in a building?"

"Yup."

"On dry land?"

"Yup." Her grin widens. "Totally worth it."

...I don't really know what to say to that. Sekibanki seems to have fallen asleep again, so I quietly slide the door shut and start making my way outside, careful to mind my footing.

"Hey," Nue says, floating soundlessly up behind me. Why didn't I think of that? "There's, uh, something I've been meaning to ask you about."

"What kind of something?" I reply. "If it's another one of your pranks..."

"No, no, nothing to do with that! Or, well, maybe kind of." She stops, and I stop too. "See, Hijiri's been getting on my case about getting along better with humans."

I frown slightly, not sure where she's going with this.

"I'm not trying to get back at her or anything! It's just, well, it's... hard." She looks away uncomfortably. "I kinda freak people out without meaning to. I don't really... know anything about humans. Dumb, right?" She grins awkwardly.

"So, well, I mean, since you live there and everything... I thought you might be able to help me out," she finishes.

"Um. Shouldn't you be asking Miss Byakuren this?"

"...it's embarassing, okay?"

"Urk. Well, er... have you heard of the Grassroots Youkai Network?"

"Nnnot really?"

"It's a group of youkai that are trying to get along better with humans. Well, sort of. They're all much weaker than you, so it's more about not getting exterminated than anything else. But they know a whole bunch of stuff about not scaring people! Some of them even live in the village, like me!"

"I, uh..."

"I don't really go to their meetings much, because I'm trying to make myself more scary, not less. I don't actually know why humans aren't scared of me so... I don't really know how to help you. Sorry."

"Yeah. It was kind of a dumb thing to ask anyway. Forget I said anything."

"Ah, wait!" I grab Nue's hand to stop her leaving.

"...I can try to help you, but I really don't think it'll do much good..." I say.

"Nnnng... gah, alright, leggo." Nue shakes free of my grip, and takes a deep breath. "This is dumb. I'm dumb."

"You're not dumb at all! Trying to be friendly to humans is a really nice thing to do! Miss Byakuren would be proud of you!"

Nue gives me an odd look. "I'm seriously starting to wonder if you're really a youkai. You sure you haven't turned into some kind of saint or goddess or something without telling anyone?"

I stare blankly at Nue for a few seconds before I burst out laughing. Nue laughs too.

"Yeah, you're right," Nue says after we've calmed down. "I guess I should talk to these Grassroots guys. Suck in the ego and ask the dumb questions."

"I'll let you know when their next meeting is," I reply, "and maybe you could visit the village some time so I -"

A loud crash and a muffled, very un-Buddhist curse echo down the hall. There's just enough light for me to see Miss Toramaru sprawled face-down on the floor, with a tray, a cup of tea and several bowls of food littering the ground in front of her.

"Sorry Cap'n! Deck's still a mite slippery!" Minamitsu's voice calls.

Nue and I are both out of sight before she's finished talking.

Once we're safely out in the courtyard, I finally find the ones behind the duel that woke me up.

"I won!" Koishi cheers, balancing on one leg with both her arms raised above her head. Shinmyoumaru is sitting on the ground behind her, pouting.

A handful of spectators applaud politely.

"Who else wants to challenge me~?" Koishi asks.

[ ] Time to give the umbrella thief her comeuppance!
[ ] Time to head back to the village!
[ ] Time to visit the Scarlet Devil Mansion!
[ ] Time out! I want to go back to bed...
>> No. 39275
File 146207846880.jpg - (8.92KB, 260x168, 1412554060710-4.jpg) [iqdb]
39275
[x] Time to give the umbrella thief her comeuppance!

YOU'RE ON
>> No. 39276
[x] Time to give the umbrella thief her comeuppance!
>> No. 39277
[X] Time to give the umbrella thief her comeuppance!

Interesting that Kogasa remembered and could see Koishi even when the others couldn't.
>> No. 39278
> "You sure you haven't turned into some kind of saint or goddess or something without telling anyone?"
>
> I stare blankly at Nue for a few seconds before I burst out laughing.

You'll notice she didn't say "no"...

[X] Time to give the umbrella thief her comeuppance!

Must look impressive for possible worshippers!
>> No. 39283
[X] Time to give the umbrella thief her comeuppance!
>> No. 39284
[X] Time to give the umbrella thief her comeuppance!

We'll show that playable character who's (the stage 2) boss! Although, since Koishi's not having too much of an effect, it might be just about fine...?
>> No. 39287
[x]Time to give the umbrella thief her comeuppance!

Glad you're back, I was missing Kogasa's adventures around Gensokyo.
>> No. 39290
[X] Time to give the umbrella thief her comeuppance!

Surprise everyone by defeating her!
>> No. 39302
File 146226833242.jpg - (142.45KB, 566x800, pichuuun.jpg) [iqdb]
39302
[x] Time to give the umbrella thief her comeuppance!

It's still a bit early in the day, but...

"I will!" I say, stepping forward.

"Yaaay~!" Koishi cheers, prancing over to the far side of the courtyard. Shinmyoumaru scrambles to get out of the way.

I float up into the air, stretching my still-sleepy muscles to - wait where did -

I raise my arm just in time to block Koishi's heels from coming down on my head. She bounces off me, finishing her front flip as she flies over me.

So it's going to be an endurance-type duel then.

I whirl around and lunge forward to attack while her back's turned, but she's not done yet. Her foot connects with my stomach without even looking, and the other one follows it right after. She turns back around to face me, sneezes (what) and bounces toward me, twirling in a spray of petal-like danmaku that launches me back the way she came.

Ow.

I recover just in time to dodge a thorny vine covered in orange roses that suddenly sprouts through the air where I was a moment ago. Thinking fast, I call down some hail danmaku to distract her, dive forward under the thin red laser spinning slowly toward me, pop open my umbrella and twirl it as I spring up beneath her. Surprise!

I follow it up with a high kick and some point-blank danmaku, then bring my now-closed umbrella down hard, smacking her across the courtyard like she just did to me.

"Wheeeee~" How can she be so cheerful when I'm trying to beat her up!?

Koishi rights herself and poses on one leg again for a moment before zig-zagging up and down toward me. I time my dodge to carry myself over her at her lowest point but -

BING

- suddenly a bright flash knocks me upward, and then Koishi is right in front of me for a moment before two purple tentacles (why does she have tentacles!?) with flappy ends shoot out of her sleeves and smash me into the wall, followed by a faceful of giant purple heart that knocks me into another one of those circling lasers.

I've been struck by lightning a few times before. Koishi's lasers are nowhere near that bad, but the memory alone is enough to make me shudder.

...why would a laser feel anything like lightning? This girl is weird! She's also twirling toward me with that flower danmaku again so I stop thinking about it and will myself upward. Koishi comes out of her spin with a flourish and a grin, facing a blank wall of stone. Then my heel drops onto her collarbone.

Hehehe~ maybe I should try beoming a poet?

My momentum is carrying me into a front flip, so I grab Koishi by the scruff of the neck and spin her around with me, pitching her across the couryard for a second time. She catches herself quickly, but I don't want to give her time to react, so I kick one of my geta off at her. It hits her neatly on the forehead. That gives me enough time to throw myself at her, swinging my umbrella in an upward arc and smacking her skyward.

I quickly slip my foot back into my geta as it falls.

Then I grab a broom that was leaning against the wall - I've crossed the courtyard again - channel as much of my energy into it as I can, and hurl it after her. It obediently whacks her back down to me, where I'm waiting with a vicious uppercut.

Koishi flops though the air like fish out of water. She rubs her chin for a moment as she sits up in midair.

"Owwie~"

She's still smiling!

"Do you not feel pain or something?" I ask in disbelief. Koishi closes her eyes, tilts her head and smiles even wider.

"Maybe?" she says. Then she opens her eyes wide in a vacant grin. "Or maybe you just haven't hurt me yet~♪"

I blink. She's gone.

CRACK

Searing pain shoots through my jaw as Koishi's knee smashes into my chin, snapping my neck back so fast I think for a moment she's taken my whole head off. It hurts so much I barely even notice the flurry of blows that grind me into the wall a moment later, or being wrapped up in her tentacles and crushed like someone squeezing the juice out of an orange.

But I do notice the tornado of multicolored roses that follows, sweeping me up into what can only be described as an explosion made of flowers. I thought only Yuuka could do that.

Finally, I feel the refreshing sensation of cool, moist stone against my cheek.

My everything hurts.

After a moment to catch my breath, I gingerly peel myself off the pavement.

"I won again!" Koishi cheers, balancing on one leg with both her arms raised above her head. I pull myself into a sitting position on the ground behind her, pouting.

I don't hear any applause. I think that explosion might have damaged my hearing for a bit.

I swallow my pride as a karakasa obake and use my umbrella as crutch to help me get up and shuffle over to where Nue and Shinmyoumaru are sitting.

"Man, that looked painful," Nue says, cringing sympathetically.

"Ow," I confirm.

"She's always like that!" Shinmyoumaru whines. "Nothing I do to her seems to have any effect! It's not fair!"

I can't help smiling, despite everything. A tiny inchling waving her arms around like that is just too cute.

"Well if she's neighbours with that Yuugi woman, I can totally see why," Sekibanki's voice says. I blink and look around, finally spotting her floating right next to Nue.

I think that explosion must have damaged my eyesight too.

"Ugh," I groan. "Anyone who's used to that wouldn't even feel me hitting her."

Shinmyoumaru's arms stop mid-flail. "...who's Yuugi?"

"An oni," Sekibanki says. "Seven foot tall, has a jab like one of Yukari's trains."

"I think that might be a little bit exaggerated..." I suggest.

"You didn't se the punch that hit Kokoro into you, did you?" Sekibanki replies. "No wind-up at all."

"But she isn't that tall."

"May as well be!"

"Size isn't everything," Shinmyoumaru says haughtily. Sekibanki smirks. Nue chortles.

"Stop making fun of small people!" Shinmyoumaru snarls, stamping her foot and brandishing her needle sword at them.

"Or what? Death by a thousand paper cuts?" Nue taunts smugly. Something tells me she's been doing this the whole time.

"Yoooooouuuuuuuu!!! I challenge you to a spellcard duel! I'll teach you not to underestimate the kobito!"

"You're on, short stuff!" Nue tosses back, blurring sideways to dodge Shinmyoumaru's retaliatory sword-swipe.

"Yeesh," Sekibanki says, having been just barely missed by the swing.

"Did I wake you up?" I ask sheepishly.

"Nah, that sassy sailor getting a verbal spanking was way louder," Sekibanki says. "She has a heck of a mouth on her."

"Minamitsu? She can be a bit, uh... colorful."

"I was going to say creative."

"...that too."

We fall silent as we watch the duel between Nue and Shinmyoumaru. Or try to. I keep finding myself getting distracted by Koishi, who is doing the weirdest dance ever as she cheers on... someone. I can't really tell whose side she's on.

"Dammit," Sekibanki grumbles. "I know that crazy girl is still here, but I keep losing track of her. It's like I forget about her as soon as I take my eyes off her."

"Uh, really? I was just thinking that she was distracting me from the fight."

Sekibanki frowns at me. "Maybe getting kidnapped and beaten up by her makes her easier to remember?"

"It's not something I recommend trying," I reply, grinning weakly.

"Yeah. Say, uh, d'you think we'd be able to grab a bite to eat around here? I don't want to sound greedy after they put us up for the night, but..."

[ ] I'm sure they won't mind! We could help out for a bit as thanks, even.
[ ] Maybe we should go home and eat instead. It's not the best, but it would be a waste if it went bad.
[ ] Or we could ask Sakuya. She's always up early to feed all the maids, and there's always some left over!

---

Totally not jealous of Revenant One getting three updates out in the time it takes me to do one.
>> No. 39304
[X] I'm sure they won't mind! We could help out for a bit as thanks, even.

One day the time will come when the umbrella will get her revenge on the closed-eyed satori.
>> No. 39305
[X] I'm sure they won't mind! We could help out for a bit as thanks, even.
>> No. 39307
[x] I'm sure they won't mind! We could help out for a bit as thanks, even.
>> No. 39308
[X] I'm sure they won't mind! We could help out for a bit as thanks, even.

Please let the rest of this be a long training montage Rocky-style leading up to a thrilling final rematch. We can do it! We can beat her! We can prove Kogasa deserves to be in a fighting game!
>> No. 39311
[x] Or we could ask Sakuya. She's always up early to feed all the maids, and there's always some left over!

That too
>> No. 39313
[X] Or we could ask Sakuya. She's always up early to feed all the maids, and there's always some left over!
>> No. 39314
File 14625694023.jpg - (0.98MB, 1200x1000, suika-ibuki-as-sakura-kyouko.jpg) [iqdb]
39314
[X] Maybe we should go home and eat instead. It's not the best, but it would be a waste if it went bad.

Don't waste food.
>> No. 39323
File 146305038667.png - (429.19KB, 700x450, why me?.png) [iqdb]
39323
[x] I'm sure they won't mind! We could help out for a bit as thanks, even.

"I'm sure they won't mind!" I say. "We could always stay and help out for a bit as thanks, if it bothers you."

"Uh, well, I'd like to," Sekibanki says, "but I kinda can't even brush my hair by myself so -"

"Ah, sorry!"

"Wait, no, I didn't mean - you don't have to -"

Sekibanki dodges too slowly to avoid me putting her on my lap, where I start straightening her hair out and retying her ribbon.

"...you really don't have to keep doing this, you know," Sekibanki says after a while.

"Don't be silly. You can't go around looking like you just got out of bed all the time."

"Nnguh, that's not what I... gah, never mind." She squirms as I work out a particularly stubborn knot.

"...thanks," she says finally.

"You're welcome!" I reply.

We sit in silence for a while as we watch Nue and Shinmyoumaru battle it out. I know Nue's not that much stronger than me - I've beaten her a few times, but not many - so it's a chance to see just how good Shinmyoumaru really is at spellcard duels.

...she really wasn't exaggerating her stories much after all.

"Ah, there you are."

I look up, startled, and see Miss Toramaru approaching.

"Ichirin wanted to know if you were staying for breakfast."

"Oh! Um, we did kind of want to stay a little longer, so if it's okay with you..."

"Of course," Miss Toramaru says, smiling. "You're welcome here any time, Kogasa." Then her smile turns into a small frown. "Are you all right? You look like you've just been in a fight."

I glance down at myself. Being pounded into walls and paving stones hasn't been kind to my clothes - they're all smudged and dirty.

"Er, well, I kind of was..." I say sheepishly.

"You were? It wasn't one of our disciples causing you trouble, was it?" Her eyes flick toward Nue with obvious annoyance.

"No, no, I challenged Koishi after she beat Shimyoumaru."

"The satori girl?" Miss Toramaru looks surprised. "She's here?"

"She's standing right behind you, actually," I point out.

"Gah!" Sekibanki exclaims.

Miss Toramaru turns around. Koishi swiftly zips around her, staying out of her line of sight. She grins and waves at me and Sekibanki.

"I don't see -" Miss Toramaru starts to turn back to me, Koishi starts to dart around her again, and I snatch at the tentacle-things attatched to her ankles.

WHAM

I wince as Koishi trips, hitting the floor face-first with a painful-sounding crunch that makes Miss Toramaru literally jump as she whirls around.

"...oops?" I say guiltily.

"Owwie," Koishi says, sitting up and rubbing her nose.

"Are you okay, Miss Komeiji?" Miss Toramaru asks, kneeling down.

"Maybe?" Koishi says, sounding confused. That's actually the first time I've heard her sound anything but cheerful.

...urk.

"I, ah, I'm sorry," I say, starting to get up. Sekibanki floats off my lap and hovers beside me as usual.

Koishi gets to her feet and stares at me vacantly. She brings her hand up to her forehead, pushing her hat up, and slides it over to me, touching my eyebrows.

"You're taller than me," she says, still looking completely blank.

"I, uh, I guess so? Are you alright?"

Koishi tilts her head to one side. "No? Half of me is right and half of me is left," she replies. "I'm not that weird. That's for mirror people."

"...what?" I ask.

"Don't worry, I confuse me too," Koishi says, and rubs her nose again. Then she licks her hand.

"I taste funny," she says. I suddenly realize her hand is stained red.

"Ah, I-"

"First blood!" Koishi cheers. She wipes the blood off her upper lip with her finger and stuffs it in my mouth what is she doing

"Mmmnrrf!?" I jerk my head backward, trying to get away from her, but I'm still sore from the fight so now the world is spinning and -

WHUMP

- it's my turn to crash to the floor.

"Owwwwww..."

"Oh dear," Miss Toramaru says.

-----

A few minutes later me, Sekibanki and Koishi are all sitting at a table in the otherwise-deserted main hall.

"Yaaay! Food!" Koishi cheers, looking way too happy for someone with two bloodsoaked tissues up her nose.

"And it's your food this time, so don't try to steal mine!" I say.

"Why would I do that?" Koishi asks, mouth already half-full.

"That's what you... do you even remember last night?"

"Last night?" Koishi pauses in thought for a few seconds. "Nope!"

I stare at her. It takes me a while to realise I'm feeding Sekibanki while I'm at it - I'm doing it automatically by now.

...that could get awkward when she recovers.

"Do you normally just forget everything?" I ask.

"Yep! Everyone forgets about me, even me," Koishi replies.

"But I still remember you! You stole my umbrella!"

"I did?" Koishi asks, exactly like she did last night. But after a moment her face lights up. "Oh yeah, I did! And then you brought Kokoro over to play!"

"I didn't go down there for your sake!"

"I remembered~ I remembered~ Sis is going to be so happy~"

"What's so great about remembering that?" I grumble.

Koishi throws her arms up in the air. "I promised Sis I'd make her breakfast in the morning!"

...

"...you promised her this when we visited?"

"Yes!"

"That was two days ago, you know?"

"It doesn't matter~ I remembered~"

Talking to her is only making my head hurt more, so I focus on my food instead. Koishi seems content to eat in silence too, but the peace doesn't last for long.

"Victory!" Shinmyoumaru cheers as she floats into the room. Nue follows her in, looking really dirty and grinning self-consciously.

"You missed a good match," Nue says, rubbing the back of her head.

"If even the loser says that, it must have been good," Sekibanki says.

"Hey, get your own!" I say, shooing Shinmyoumaru away from my breakfast. "Why does everyone keep trying to steal my food?"

"Don't worry, she won't eat much. Just a little bit," Nue says.

"Ah!", Shinmyoumaru tuts, holding one finger up disapprovingly.

"Sorry, sorry, force of habit. My bad, okay?" Nue says, raising her hands in surrender. "Hey, what happened to you?" she suddenly asks Koishi.

"I tripped!" Koishi replies.

"I, um, kind of tripped her..." I say.

"You did?" Nue says, staring at me in mock disbelief. Then she pats me on the back. "Well done. I knew you had it in you!"

"Wha- Nue!"

"GOOOOOOD MORNING!"

I clap my hands over my ears a little too late. Even Kyouko's indoor voice is deafening.

"Morning sleepyhead," Nue says, completely unfazed.

"Wooooow...." Koishi says, staring at a spot about a foot above my head.

"Ugh," Sekibanki groans.

"I know Lady Hijiri approves of you waking up the whole temple, but do you really have to do it in here?" Miss Ichirin grumbles as she emerges from the kitchen.

"Sorry!" Kyouko says, "I just sort of follow my stomach in the mornings..."

Ichirin sets another tray of food down on the table. I feel her gaze sweeping over me and try to look as small as possible.

"Miss Houjuu, why are you so filthy before breakfast?" she asks, in a tone that sounds far too nice.

"Miss Sukuna here was just giving me a lesson in courtesy," Nue shamelessly replies. Shinmyoumaru looks smug.

"I see." For a moment I think I see a glint of amusement in Miss Ichirin's eyes, but I don't dare look too closely. "I trust it was memorable?"

"Very," Nue agrees, meeting her death stare with a wide grin.

Kyouko looks like she's searching for enlightenment in the table's wood grain.

...

"Seconds please!" Koishi cheers.

Breakfast is very quiet after that.

Once we're done eating I clean myself up a bit - and finally manage to find a comb - before tracking down Kyouko in front of the temple.

"Ready to head off?" she asks.

"Actually, we were wondering if you needed any help cleaning up after the storm," I say. Kyouko looks surprised. (Yes!)

"Are you sure? I mean, we could use some help, but there's a lot of work to do..."

"I'll survive," I say. Sekibanki suddenly looks apprehensive.

Kyouko was serious when she said there was a lot of work to do. Most of it's just normal day-to-day stuff, but the storm did cause some damage, especially to the trees. And of course the ground is all soggy from the rain and people are tracking mud everywhere, slowing everything down and making even more mess to clean up.

"Aha, you two! Go grab rakes and help Miss Ichirin out the back! Come on, hop to it!"

Kyouko also seems to be in charge of all kinds of things now. Or at least she barks orders and people do what she says, so she may as well be in charge. Most of it involves yelling at people for slacking off, which they seem to do a lot, but she's also juggling a bunch of different jobs and coordinating people to get them all done.

Plus she's the one telling me and Nue what to do. I'm fine with that, since it means I only need to worry about one thing at a time, but I'm kind of surprised to see Nue obediently following her instructions. Or anyone's instructions really.

"Target sighted! Wheeee~"

"Hey! We just finished sweeping those up!"

I'm not sure why, but Koishi won't stop following me around. Sometimes she actually helps, but most of the time she just plays around and ends up making our job harder.

"Why would anyone want to dive into a pile of wet leaves, anyway?"

"I'm a leaf monster! Graaaaah!"

"Gack! Let go of me! You're all wet!"

Eventually, though, we manage to finish everything Kyouko has for us to do.

"Phew," I say. "Living at a temple is a lot of work!"

"You get used to it after a while," Kyouko replies.

"That was fun!" Koishi says.

"For you, maybe," Nue grumbles.

"Nnnnnh!" Shinmyoumaru says, stretching. "Well, I don't know about you, but I should probably be off. Reimu'll be wondering where I went."

"I hope she's not angry at you anymore," I say.

"If the Scarlets have given her a nice big 'donation' for her help, she should be in a good mood. If not..." she shudders.

"Ah! I nearly forgot about that!"

"Well, no point sitting here wondering. See you at the carnival!" Shinmyoumaru says.

"Bye!"

"Come again!" Nue calls after her.

"I should be going too," I say.

"Yay!" Koishi cheers, jumping to her feet. I get the sinking feeling I'm not going to lose her any time soon.

"Thanks for, well, everything," Sekibanki says. "And sorry I couldn't help out more."

"Don't worry about it," Kyouko replies. "See you at the carnival! Lady Hijiri said we'll all be there!"

"Okay!"

"So!" Koishi says once we're out the gate, "where are we going next?"

Ugh.

[ ] To the Village! There's always stuff to do there.
[ ] To the Scarlet Devil Mansion! I bet they could use some help too!
[ ] To the Prismriver Mansion! I bet Kyouko hasn't had the chance to tell them yet!
[ ] To somewhere else! (write-in)

---

Why is this the Koishi option. There wasn't supposed to be a Koishi option.
>> No. 39324
[X] To the Prismriver Mansion! I bet Kyouko hasn't had the chance to tell them yet!
>> No. 39325
[X] To the Prismriver Mansion! I bet Kyouko hasn't had the chance to tell them yet!

You don't need to plan the Koishi option, you just suddenly find it there one day.
>> No. 39326
[x] SDM

Let's. Have her meet Flandre! That never ended up badly in any CYOA ever!
>> No. 39327
[X] To the Tengu! We can ask about our article in the newspaper and everything! Maybe we could even pose for some pictures?

Straight into the tide with a write-in!
>> No. 39329
[x] To the Scarlet Devil Mansion! I bet they could use some help too!

Why wouldn't there be a Koishi option? Seconding the suggestion to hopefully go meet Flan, because that could only end in the best of ways.
>> No. 39330
[x] To the Scarlet Devil Mansion! I bet they could use some help too!
>> No. 39340
File 14636590013.jpg - (112.32KB, 1440x640, scarlet devil maidhem.jpg) [iqdb]
39340
[x] To the Scarlet Devil Mansion! I bet they could use some help too!

"Why are you following me around, anyway?" I ask.

"Because you're interesting!" Koishi replies, still smiling. "I don't normally get interested in things, so it must be important!"

"Uh... well, can you at least try not to cause trouble for everyone?"

"Okay~"

I'm not really convinced she means it - or that she'll even remember it - but I think that's about the best I'm going to get out of her. I take to the air, and Koishi spirals after me.

I love the air after a good storm. It's clean, cool and fresh, as if the rain has washed all its troubles away. I watch the rain-drenched grass and trees glittering in the morning sun as I climb high above Gensoukyou. It really is a beautiful sight.

I turn my attention towards Misty Lake, and immediately spot something going on in front of the Scarlet Devil Mansion. Some structures of some kind have been put up, and lots of small figures - fairies, probably - are scurrying around. I can't really tell what's going on from this distance, so I fly over the lake for a closer look.

About twenty or so fairies are gathered in front of the Mansion. It's an odd group; big fairies, small fairies, laughing fairies, panicking fairies, some wearing blue, some wearing red. One of them even seems to be wearing a dress made of metal. They're all hard at work, measuring, hammering, carring planks or something of the sort, building what looks like a stage and marking out places for stalls. It's kind of an unusual thing for fairies to be doing.

Normally fairies only get together in big groups when they have something to bring them together, like an Incident of some sort. Even the Mansion's fairies tend to work (or not work) in like-minded groups. Seeing a crowd like this outside of a party or something is weird. This being where it is, I could imagine Miss Sakuya managing to keep them all together and on the job, but I don't see her anywhere. I can't even see Meiling at the gate; it's being guarded by even more fairies.

Meiling is always at the gate in the mornings. It's her favourite time of day!

I drift down to the edge of the construction site. The grass here is perfectly dry, as if the storm last night never happened. I've barely even touched down when one of the fairies teleports in front of me. It's not like Miss Sakuya's startling appearances - more like how Miss Reimu does it. It takes time and makes a distinctive noise.

She's exceptionally tall for a fairy, and has long purple hair, which is also a bit odd. She's definitely the kind of fairy you only find at the Mansion.

"I'm terribly sorry Miss, but as you can see, the carnival venue is not yet prepared. If you could please return a little later -" she begins, bowing politely.

"Er, actually, I came here to see if there's anything I can do to help out," I reply. The fairy freezes mid-syllable.

"Oh. I, ah, er... is that allowed?" she asks, glancing between me and the notes she's holding in confusion.

"Why are you asking me?"

"I don't know! Miss Sakuya just lead us all out here, gave me this clipboard and vanished! I have no idea what I'm doing!" she wails.

"Well, if it helps, you seem to be doing it pretty well," Sekibanki offers. "Most productive bunch of fairies I ever saw."

The fairy looks over her shoulder at the group. "I have no idea why Miss Sakuya picked any of us," she groans. "There's kitchen fairies, basement fairies, gardeners, window cleaners... none of us do anything involving hammers and nails, how is this supposed to - ah, wait, hey! That doesn't go -"

She teleports away to correct one group of fairies, then does it another three times in rapid succession, before reappearing in front of us.

"I'm sorry!" she says, bowing again. "You're Lady Flandre's friends, aren't you? I think I saw you here a few nights ago."

"Ah, yes! I'm Kogasa, this is Sekibanki and, uh," I glance around for a moment before I spot Koishi pestering one of the workers, "that's Koishi."

"My name is Sophia," Sophia replies, bowing yet again. "Not that it matters. I'm just an unimportant cook."

- why is Koishi holding a hammer this isn't going to end well -

"Well, you look plenty important to me!" I say, trying to cheer her up. "You look just like Miss Sakuya, jumping around and keeping everyone organized!"

I think I must have said the wrong thing, because a look of horror washes over Sophia's face.

"Ahahahaha, I'm nothing like her! No way, right? She's weird and spooky and scares everyone half to death there's no way a fairy like me could be anything like-"

"Um, I didn't mean -"

"Nooooooooo!" She flails around hysterically before vanishing again. I can't see where she went.

"...oops?" I say.

"That... was a reaction," Sekibanki says.

"Don't worry, it wasn't your fault," Koishi says, looking at me as she hugs Sekibanki from behind.

"Gyaaaaaaah! When did you get there!?" Sekibanki replies.

"You're really tense, you know?" Koishi says, pinching Sekibanki's cheek.

"You think!?" Sekibanki shoots back, trying and failing to get free.

"When Sis gets tense, I giver her a shoulder massage! That always does the trick!" Koishi says. Then her face falls. "You don't have shoulders though..."

"Just lemme go already!"

Surprisingly, Koishi does exactly as asked.

"Fairies are no fun," she says suddenly. "Let's go find someone else!"

Koishi marches towards the gate, and I hurry to catch up. The two fairies guarding it look awfully familiar.

"Good morning!" I say.

"Good morning!" Koishi echoes.

"Good morning!" the guardsfairy with short black hair replies.

"Welcome back, Miss Kogasa," the one with long blond hair adds, bowing politely. "Have you come to visit Lady Flandre?"

"Er, something like that. Will I have to fight you again, or..."

"No, no, Miss Meiling had a chat with us about that," short hair says.

"We have a guest list now!" long hair adds, nodding.

"We, er, don't actually have a key to the gate though," short hair continues, "so you'll have to fly over it."

"Oh. Well, thanks!" I say.

"Any time!" long hair replies.

We fly over the gate as they said, and let ourselves in the front door. It's eerily silent inside.

"Oooh, spoooooky~" Koishi says from behind me.

"Where is everyone?" Sekibanki asks.

"I dunno. Sakuya?" I try.

"Wait, don't just -"

Nothing happens.

"Do you know your way around in here?" Sekibanki asks, suddenly sounding nervous.

"I think I can find my way to the library," I say.

"Well, uh, you might need to, 'cause the door just disappeared."

I look around. We're standing in the middle of a long hallway.

"Oh. It does that sometimes."

Sekibanki doesn't look very reassured. Koishi just looks at me expectantly.

"Well then, let's go!" I say brightly, and set off.

We wander around for an awfully long time. The mansion is even more mazelike than usual today. But we do eventually end up in the library! What we see when we get there makes us all stop short.

The library is in ruins. There's scorch marks on the walls, great big holes blasted in the ceiling and fragments of wood and stone everywhere. Whole rows of giant bookshelves have been knocked over, smashing into each other and spilling books everywhere. Even the carpet's been ripped up in places. The books themselves seem to be undamaged though - that's Patchy for you.

But the most astonishing thing in the room is the gigantic mountain of books. It's as if someone gathered half the books in the library and threw them in a haphazard heap in the middle of the room. It's taller than my house!

It takes me a minute to realize there are other people in the room. Quite a few of them, actually.

"Yo," one of the maids says as she walks by with a huge armful of books.

Wait, that's Marisa. She's wearing an immaculate maid uniform and her hair has been neatly brushed, braided and tied up, but it's definitely her!

"What's going on?" I ask, sounding only about half as confused as I feel.

"Spring cleaning!" Marisa calls back.

"Aha!" an accusatory voice calls. Flandre is standing on top of the huge pile of books, dressed as a maid just like Marisa. Her leggings are red instead of black though.

"I have something important for you!" Flandre declares, pointing at me. "Stay right there!"

A moment later, another Flandre - so she's doing that today - pops out from behind a bookshelf and presents... a neatly-folded bundle of clothes?

"Today is Scarlet Devil Maid Day! Everybody has to wear one!" the second Flandre announces, smiling widely.

I slowly accept the uniform. Flandre looks at me expectantly. Then she spots Koishi.

"Flan!" Koishi says, throwing her arms up.

"Koishi!" Flandre responds, copying her.

They both dive forward for a hug... and somehow pass right through each other. Flandre flops onto the carpet, while Koishi stops short, looking around in confusion. Or at least pretending to - the mischievous grin on her face is a bit of a giveaway. Flandre bounds back up as though nothing happened, grabs both of us by the arm and drags us off.

A few minutes later I'm wearing a maid outfit. So is Koishi. Sekibanki's ribbon has been replaced with a frilly headdress.

Flandre even tied a minature maid headdress on my umbrella!

"All right!" Flandre cheers. "With this many maids we'll have the library cleaned up in no time!"

"What exactly are we - wah!"

Flandre grabs my hand again and rockets into the air, hurtling out of Patchouli's bathroom and barrelling between bookshelves until she jerks to a stop in front of a row of fallen shelves.

"First things first, we gotta pick up all the books!"

Yank. Zoom. Stop. Huge pile of books.

"Stack them all up here!"

Whoosh. Screech. Feeling dizzy. Alice and Hourai dressed as maids. Lots of dolls.

"Then we gotta clean up the broken stuff and fix up the shelves!"

Wrist hurts. World spinning. Patchy and Koa dressed as maids. Rumia? Rumia. Also a maid.

"Me, Patchy and Koa know where all the books go, so we put them away!"

Breakfast rebelling! Must return to bathroom!

"Hey, are you alri - EEEEP!"

Flandre leaps out of the way as I... somehow don't ruin the carpet. It just sort of floats there without hitting the ground.

That's gross. I puke again.

"Urrgh..."

"Oh dear. What brought this on?" I open my eyes to see Patchouli kneeling beside me.

"Too fast..." I groan.

"I'm sorry!" Flandre squeaks. She's wide-eyed and actually looks more shaken than me.

"I'll be alright in a minute," I say.

"Could you fetch me a bucket please, Flandre?" Patchouli asks. I feel a rush of wind as Flandre leaves.

Urp.

"If you're still feeling ill, you may as well get it all out," Patchouli says, gently patting me on the back. Not helping!

"I just need to wait until my head stops spinning," I say.

"Rough night?" Koakuma's voice asks.

"Rough morning," I reply.

"Already? Ouch. I only got up like half an hour ago."

"I am aware of that, Koakuma," Patchouli says testily.

"Well excuse me for needing to sleep, boss!" Koakuma replies. Patchouli just sighs.

"...you look kind of weird in a maid uniform," I say.

Patchouli looks down at herself. Her usual clothes are loose and soft and make her look kind of... motherly, I guess. Kind of like Miss Keine in a way. But this is much closer fitting, and shows off her surprisingly lithe figure. Her hair is tied up in a ponytail too, leaving her neck exposed. She still looks older than me, but it's more like an older sister.

I don't think I could have imagined the "normal" Patchy wearing a short skirt with bright purple... whatever these things are called, and half-sitting on the floor like she is now.

"It was Flandre's idea," she says, acting like she's apologising for something. "She can get quite enthusiastic about things, as you are aware."

"I think it looks good on you," I say. Patchouli chokes.

"...you are not the first person to say that to me today. Nor the second."

"That's 'cause it's true, boss. You should show off those legs more often," Koakuma says as she returns from whatever it was she was doing. Her own legs are red, a darker shade than Flandre's.

Patchouli looks like she has a headache too.

"-n't find any in the library had to go ask the fairies -" Flandre says as she returns.

"Just put it down over there, please," Patchouli says. I try not to look at the levitating ball of sick.

"Is she gonna be okay?" Flandre asks, fidgeting and looking really nervous.

"Kogasa is fine, Flandre. She merely needs to sit quietly and recover for a while," Patchouli replies. Flandre looks relieved, but still worried.

"I'm okay," I say, grinning as cheerfully as I can.

Patchouli helps me up.

"I'm afraid I have very little in the way of hospitality to offer you," she says, gesturing at her desk, covered and surrounded by books and debris, "but I do at least have a chair you can sit in. It's an improvement over the floor."

"Thanks," I say. And sit. Flandre hovers nearby.

"I'm okay, really," I tell her.

"...I hurt people a lot. I thought I might've hurt you," she says after a moment.

"You just made me really dizzy for a bit. Koishi hurt me more just this morning." Actually, that's probably why I felt so dizzy. Even youkai take time to recover.

"She did? Was it bad?"

"Er, well, I did kind of challenge her, so it was my fault really... I didn't know you knew her too."

"She comes to visit every now and then. Sis doesn't even think she's real; Meiling and I are the only ones who can see her. I guess that's 'cause she's clever and I'm crazy."

I immediately get up and ruffle Flandre's hair. "You're not crazy, Flandre."

"Normal people don't hurt their friends," she sniffles.

"Okay, that's enough," I say, hugging her. "Don't start that now. You have a library to clean up, remember? And three other selves to supervise. And more maids to find!"

Flandre makes a noise halfway between a sob and a chuckle.

"You haven't done anything bad today. At all. Blame Koishi for knocking me on the head. Twice. And Nue for making me help tear up a tree."

That sounded more like a laugh! "...you tore up a tree?"

I grin. "Yep! The storm blew it over, so we had to get rid of it. Kyouko told us to get the axe, but Nue just marched up and started ripping it to bits!"

Flandre giggles. I let her go.

"I'll join in the cleaning when I'm feeling better, okay?"

Flandre takes a deep breath. "Okay! Clean library, here I come!"

She waits until she's far enough away not to knock me over before getting up to full speed.

Someone taps me on the back. I turn around, and immediately get a faceful of feathers.

"Super duster striiiiike!" Koishi cheers, waving the duster in my face. But then she stops and holds out... my umbrella.

"You left something behind~"

"Um... thank you," I say, taking it.

"Uh-uh-uh!" Koishi replies, stabbing her feather duster over my shoulder suddenly. "This is a no fly zone! All maids must proceed by foot unless accessing elevated areas, by order of General Scarlet!"

Patchouli stares at her, leaning back to avoid the feathers. "Understood, Miss...?"

"Koishi! Komeiji Koishi!" Koishi beams.

"Pleased to make your acquaintance, Miss Komeiji. My name is Patchouli. Would you kindly stop threatening me with a cleaning implement?"

"Okie-dokie!"

With that, Koishi prances off between the bookshelves. Patchouli stares after her for a moment.

"...how odd. She feels familiar, but I cannot recall meeting anyone by that name before," she says at last.

"She does that to people," I say.

Patchouli shrugs. "I brought you some water," she says, apparently having only just remembered the glass she was holding herself.

"Ah, thank you!"

"If you need anything else, simply call for me. I am aware of everything that occurs in my domain. Or so I thought," she adds, looking back the way Koishi left with a frown.

I stay near Patchouli's desk for a bit longer, until my head and stomach stop protesting. Patchy herself comes and goes a few times - walking, oddly enough - to carry books to and from their proper places on the shelves. But other than that, it's all quiet.

[ ] Ask Patchouli if I can help with anything.
[ ] Go looking for Alice and Hourai. It should be quiet around them.
[ ] What's Rumia doing here?
[ ] Leaving Koishi alone is probably a bad idea...
[ ] Better show Flandre I'm okay. She probably won't overdo it again today.
[ ] Miss Marisa looks way less scary as a maid.
[ ] I still haven't found Sakuya and Meiling...
[ ] I spy with my little eye three soon-to-be-maids passing by!

---

Look at me beating up the umbrella again. I'm turning into Platemask. This is supposed to be a happy story!

Speaking of which, what do you folks think of the pace so far? No, not the update pace, weekly is shit and I know it. I mean the story. Too silly? Too edgy? Too boring? Too many crappy OCs? I can't tell if I'm getting better or worse. My characterization feels worse, or at least less consistent. How are you supposed to write characters that are more than vehicles for shenanigans anyway?
>> No. 39341
[X] What's Rumia doing here?

Seriously, why is she here? I can think of a decent reason for most other people, but Rumia? No clue.
>> No. 39342
[X] What's Rumia doing here?

Your pacing seems fine to me. Consistent characterization is always desirable, but it's more important for stories with a major plot - if people act out of character temporarily in this sort of story it's unlikely to even be noticed.
>> No. 39343
[X] Miss Marisa looks way less scary as a maid.
>> No. 39344
[x] I spy with my little eye three soon-to-be-maids passing by!

I think the pacing is fine.
>> No. 39345
File 146381457433.jpg - (64.23KB, 960x720, 3aVG2.jpg) [iqdb]
39345
[x] Better show Flandre I'm okay. She probably won't overdo it again today.
>> No. 39347
File 146443059538.png - (1.20MB, 1000x1182, more related than you'd think.png) [iqdb]
39347
[x] What's Rumia doing here?

I'm feeling better, and sitting around is kind of boring, so I decide to get up and have a look around.

I make sure to keep track of where I'm going. You wouldn't normally think of a room full of books being big enough to get lost in, but Patchouli's library is huge. It's so big it sometimes doesn't feel like I'm indoors at all, and I can almost imagine rivers flowing through it and trees growing out of the floor.

Actually, that sounds like a great way to decorate it! All this red does get boring after a while. It's the sort of thing Miss Remilia would do, too. An indoor river might be a bit over the top, but a fountain like the ones they have outside would be really relaxing. Maybe I should suggest it to Meiling?

I shake myself out of my silly thoughts when I come to a part of the library that isn't completely wrecked. I'm not quite sure if it's already been cleaned up or if it wasn't blown to bits in the first place, but the shelves are bare so I guess it's new. Unless Patchouli decided it would be a good time to reorganize or something.

The whole gently-curving aisle is littered with stacks of books. Some are right out in the middle of the walkway, while others are up against the ends of the shelves, with little notes pinned up above them. I can't figure out what the notes mean - lots of strange words and unfamiliar abbreviations - but I guess they're something to do with where the books are meant to go.

I don't see anyone doing any sorting though, until I spot Rumia standing next to of one of the larger piles. She's dressed as a maid, like everyone else - I think this might be the first time I've seen her without that ribbon of hers. She looks up as I approach.

"Oh. Hello Kogasa," she says, looking at me over the top of the glasses she's wearing. They look strangely cute on her.

"Hello! What are you doing here?", I reply.

"Book sorting, by category." She gestures at the pile of books.

"So I see," I say, "but, um, I kind of meant the Mansion in general. I don't see you here very often."

It's true. I've seen her at parties and stuff, or talking to Meiling or Sakuya outside the Mansion, but she never seemed to be interested in anything here.

"Cirno told me there was going to be a party and they were short-staffed, so I came to help out. Then Flandre happened," Rumia says, shrugging. "Not what I was expecting, but I don't mind."

"She can be a bit enthusiastic sometimes..." I say.

"It's better than the alternative," Rumia cryptically replies. "What brings you here?"

"I came to help out too! With the party or the cleanup. Koa told me about both."

"Did she tell you who caused all this?" Rumia asks, gesturing at the pockmarked walls and ceiling with a frown. "It doesn't look like Flan's doing this time."

"I think Marisa had something to do with it," I say.

We both pause and look up.

"...looks like a Spark or seven, yes," Rumia says, shuddering.

"But she had help," I add. "Koakuma said there was a fairy too."

"What kind of fairy could cause this much damage?"

"...I dunno," I say at last.

Cirno's the strongest fairy I know of - strong enough to beat me if I let my guard down - but I can't picture her causing this kind of damage. Not that she'd want to, since she's good friends with everyone here, including Flandre.

"So!" I say, changing the subject. "Is there anything I can do to help?"

Rumia looks at me over her glasses again. "How's your Latin?"

"Pardon?"

"Me neither!"

I do my best to look confused. Rumia grins.

"Patchouli's a bit of an omniglot, so -"

"An omiwhat?"

"...Patchouli speaks a lot of languages, so the books aren't sorted by language. They're sorted by topic. If you want to figure out where they go, you have to be able to read them," Rumia explains.

I look at the pile of books and immediately spot a problem.

"I can't read any of these!"

"That's probably because this section is for books on the subject of magic originating from Western Europe and the British Isles," Rumia replies. "Africa and the Middle East are back there," she points back the way I came, "the Indian subcontinent is over there," she points further down the row of shelves, "and so on. China and Japan are right down the far end, where Alice is still cleaning up."

"...I didn't understand any of that," I sheepishly admit.

"Can you tell which books are enchanted?" Rumia asks.

"I, uh, I think so?"

"Well, that's a start."

Rumia points out a few of the piles and gives me some simple directions, and I start doing my best to help sort the thousands of books. I can more or less tell which books are magical, which were written by youkai and which were written by humans just by picking them up. But they're sorted by what they're about, not by who wrote them, so that doesn't really help much.

It does let me spot a few out-of-place books though.

"I found a weird floppy book in this pile!"

Rumia squints at the book I'm holding up. "That would be the original edition of Roget's Thesaurus, which belongs in Linguistics, on the other side of the library. Wrong section pile."

Rumia tries to explain a few of the more common words, particularly in languages called "English", "Latin" and "Greek", and even writes them down on a piece of paper, so I can pick out the books with them in the title and bring them to her. It actually works pretty well. She can't read anywhere near as many languages as Patchy though.

"Cuneiform? Really, Patchouli?"

"What language is that?" I ask.

"One that went extinct before books were invented," Rumia says, flipping the book open. "And it's printed, too! Why would anyone print a book in a dead language!?"

"What's it about? Can you read it?"

"Heck no. Throw it on the too hard pile."

Rumia seems to know a lot about books and languages. Most of the books we're sorting are about magic, which neither of us are any good at, but the way she keeps talking about legends and history makes me wonder if she was actually there. It wouldn't be too surprising if she'd been around back then - I'm centuries old myself, though I don't really remember much - but the stories she's telling are from the other side of the world!

After what feels like hours of staring at books I can't read - and one that I can, not that it helps since the subject matter is waaaaay beyond me - we're finally interrupted by the arrival of Alice and her dolls.

"Whew," Alice sighs, wiping her face with a small cloth. She's dressed as a maid like the rest of us; her leggings are the same blue as her usual dress.

Hourai is beside and slightly behind her, human size and dressed the same way, and the two of them are followed by a small army of dolls. Four or five of them stand out as unique, looking around and moving independantly like their leader, Shanghai, but the rest are all marching in perfect step and staring blankly ahead.

And, of course, they're all wearing maid outfits.

"Hello Alice! Hello Hourai!" I say, waving.

"Hello Kogasa," Alice replies with a smile. Hourai just bows slightly.

"You look really tired," I say. "What have you been doing? Sorting books like us?"

"No, we've been repairing the shelves. We just finished this row," Alice says, gesturing to her left.

I look up and down the aisle. It extends as far as I can see in either direction.

"Wow," Rumia summarizes.

"I'm not used to doing so much work by hand," Alice says. "I think I might be a little out of shape."

"You did it all by hand!?" I exclaim.

"With a lot of help, of course," Alice says, stepping to one side and gesturing proudly at the dolls, who all wave. The identical ones all perfectly imitate Shanghai.

"So cuuute!" Rumia gushes.

"So you're taking a break now?" I ask.

"Yes. I think it's about lunch time anyway," Alice says.

Rumia's stomach growls loudly at just the right moment. Alice laughs, and Rumia looks embarassed.

"Come on then, let's find the others and see if we can get something to eat," Alice says.

We all make our way back to where Patchouli's desk is, but there's nobody there when we arrive. Alice simply takes a right turn and keeps walking, leading the way towards the middle of the library.

It's not long before we find someone.

"Yo, Alice! Been workin' up a sweat I see!" Marisa calls. She's currently busy filling a shelf with books, taking them from a worryingly large pile stacked on top of Sekibanki.

...that looks really uncomfortable.

"Says the person responsible for this mess in the first place," Alice huffs.

"Hey, hey, I'm here ain't I? Feels kinda weird puttin' 'em back instead of takin' 'em out, but I'm doin' my bit!" Marisa replies, still grinning from ear to ear.

"Are you okay under all that?" I ask Sekibanki.

"Hmm? Oh, these? Yeah, I do this all the time," Sekibanki replies, without sarcasm. "Glad I can be of some help, really."

"I suppose you are," Alice concedes. "We're taking a lunch break; I imagine you'll be joining us?"

"Heck yeah!" Marisa replies, hopping off the pile of books she was using to reach the higher shelves.

"Uh, hey, a little help here?" Sekibanki calls after her.

"Whoopsie-daisy!" Marisa backpedals and hefts the rest of the stack of books off Sekibanki, dropping it rather carelessly on the floor with a loud thud.

Alice sighs. "Do you know where everyone else is?"

"Hang on a sec, lemme check," Marisa says. Then she takes a deep breath and bellows at the top of her lungs.

"YO FLAN, WHERE ARE YA!?"

Alice winces and scowls.

"Over heeee~re!" Flandre's voice calls back faintly.

"Hey, c'mon, it works!", Marisa says, elbowing Alice.

Then she sets off in the opposite direction to where Flan's voice came from.

Alice facepalms. "Marisa, where are you going?"

"Takin' a shorcut!"

Sekibanki stops when she notices we're not following too. "Her shortcuts work, by the way."

I shrug, and set off after Marisa. Rumia follows me like a shadow. Alice throws her arms up in defeat and starts after us, dolls falling into step behind her.

I have to run a bit to catch up with Marisa. She takes a series of nonsensical turns, opens a hidden door through one of the bookshelves, and emerges near the big pile of books at the entrance. Flandre is right in front of us, sitting on Koishi's shoulders to reach some of the higher shelves. She's plucking books off one by one and dropping them down to Koishi, who tosses them across the aisle to another Flandre, who lobs them up to a third, who adds them to the pile.

The fourth Flandre is pulling the books off the lower shelves, and stacking them on top of another Sekibanki. I'm pretty sure I just glimpsed a third Sekibanki floating out of sight around the corner with a full stack, too.

"How many of you are there right now?" I ask Sekibanki quietly.

"Four, one for each Flandre," she replies. "It's a long story."

"We're stoppin' for some chow," Marisa tells the others.

"Yay, food!" Koishi cheers. The Flandre on her shoulders hops down.

"Kogasa! Are you feeling better yet?"

"Yup! I've been helping Rumia sort books!" I reply.

Hourai runs a finger along an empty shelf, and makes a face at the thick layer of dust.

"Really? I didn't know you could read English too!" Flandre says excitedly. One of the other Flandres drops off the bookshelf and lands in the same space as her, moving to match her posture exactly and vanishing as a result.

"She can't," Rumia answers for me. "But she was a big help anyway."

"Oh. Well, that's good too!" Flandre says.

"If you're looking for food, there may be a small problem," Patchouli says from behind us, making us all jump. "Sakuya is still quite busy cleaning up after yesterday's... guest." Her eyes flick toward Flandre for the briefest moment. "It is doubtful she will be available to prepare meals."

"So?" Marisa says. "Not like we gotta be waited on hand an' foot. We can just whip up somethin' ourselves!"

"We're gonna cook something?" Flandre asks, voice and wings rising in excitement.

"Will Sakuya object to us using her kitchen?" Alice asks.

"I see no reason why she would," Patchouli says, frowning. "Provided we leave it in the same condition we find it."

"Ya hear that Flan? No blowin' stuff up!" Marisa says. Alice facepalms again.

"Okay!" Flandre says, giving Marisa a thumbs-up.

"If we're going to be making something ourselves, we'd better get started," Rumia says.

"Let's go!" Koishi cheers, grabbing Marisa and Flandre and dragging them toward the library entrance. Rumia isn't far behind.

Patchouli shakes her head and sighs before hurrying after them.

"Who is that girl, anyway?" Alice asks me as we follow.

"Hm? You mean Koishi?" I reply.

"Is that her name? I've never seen her before, but everyone else is acting like she's always been here."

Koakuma, another Flandre and three Sekibankis fly past us. The Sekibanki beside me lets out a loud whistle, and her other selves turn around.

"She does that," I say "She's a satori, I think, but instead of reading minds she makes people... forget about her."

"Forget about her?" Alice asks, frowning. "But that does't explain why everyone else seems to recognise her."

"Flandre's known her for a while now, and I guess Marisa has too. I only met her a few days ago. But most people never notice her at all, unless they already know her."

"So why can I see her now?" Alice asks.

"Hey, uh, sanity check," Sekibanki interrupts, shaking herself after having merged back into one, well, head. "Who are we talking about?"

Alice looks at her strangely. "Koishi, of course. Why?"

"She just left," Sekibanki says, nodding at the door. We're lagging behind the others, who have already disappeared out of sight around the corner.

"...so?" Alice asks, looking even more confused.

"We're still talking about her."

"Your point being?" Alice asks, starting to look annoyed.

"We should have forgotten about her already!" Sekibanki replies.

"It works that quickly?" Alice asks.

"I guess so?" I say. "I have a reason to remember her, but Sekibanki normally forgets about her as soon as she looks away. Well, mostly anyway."

Alice frowns. "I clearly remember seeing her while I was repairing the shelves. She was watching the dolls, and poking them with a feather duster. You remember, her, don't you?"

She looks down at the doll army. The generals confer with one another for a moment before answering. Three of them nod, including Shanghai. The other three shake their heads.

"Hourai?" Alice asks.

"I was not there," Hourai rasps.

"Hey, um, does anybody have any idea where we're going?" I ask.

There's a moment of silence as we all look around at one of the Scarlet Devil Mansion's many endless halls.

"The kitchen is that way," Alice says, pointing.

We walk the rest of the way in silence. It turns out Alice does actually know her way around, at least somewhat, as we reach the grand dining hall very quickly. Patchouli, Koakuma, Marisa, Rumia, Koishi and Flandre are already in the kitchen, and arguing over what to make.

"But that's not sweet!" Flandre complains.

"You can't make meat sweet. The flavours just don't go together," Rumia replies.

"Who says we gotta have meat? Mushrooms are where it's at!" Marisa butts in.

"I wanna make pizza!" Koishi declares, practically jumping on the table.

Patchouli buries her face in her hands and Koakuma shakes with silent laughter. Three very confused fairy maids hover around nervously. It occurs to me that they're the first fairies I've seen since coming inside, which is really odd. The mansion is usually swarming with maids.

"Aha!" Marisa jabs a finger at Alice. "Back me up here, Alice! We're gonna have mushrooms, right?"

Alice gives her a flat look. "I think sandwiches would be the best option. They're easy to prepare and we can all choose our own ingredients."

"But mushroom sandwiches taste lame!" Marisa whines.

"I highly doubt Sakuya keeps many mushrooms in her larder anyway, Marisa," Alice replies tiredly.

"Actually, she does!" one of the fairies pipes up. "Miss Sakuya keeps all kind of ingredients well stocked!"

"Not helping! We need less options, not more!" Marisa declares, moving her pointing arm over to Hourai.

"Not you, you don't eat." Hourai ignores her. Over to me.

"Right then, you choose! What are we going to make?" Marisa says.

Wait what? Why me!?

[ ] I haven't had mushrooms in a while, so, yeah, let's go with that! Please don't spark me!
[ ] I'm actually pretty hungry, so something with meat in it sounds like a good idea.
[ ] I don't really know what sandwiches are, but Alice sounds the most sensible.
[ ] ...what's pizza?
[ ] Sweets aren't really a full meal, but there's always room for dessert.
[ ] Ask Patchouli! She'd know more than me, right?
[ ] All of the above! If we make more than we can eat, I'm sure the fairies won't mind having some too!

---

This would probably have been better as two smaller updates instead of one. Blame Thank >>39345's flantastic pic for the latest sidetrack.

>>39342

Yeah, but I don't want to write this sort of story forever.
>> No. 39348
[X] ...what's pizza?
>> No. 39349
File 146445244890.gif - (165.69KB, 384x509, flan-on-flan-action.gif) [iqdb]
39349
[ ] Sweets aren't really a full meal, but there's always room for flan.
[X] ... what's pizza?

>>39347
>Blame Thank >>39345's flantastic pic for the latest sidetrack.
I accept no responsibility whatsoever for my actions. Then or now.
>> No. 39350
[X] ...what's pizza?

Mushroom and peperroni pizza?
>> No. 39351
[X] ...what's pizza?

I mean, if everyone makes their own, this isn't a problem at all, right? Mushrooms and meat are common toppings, so Marisa and Rumia should be fine with it.
Sweets? Sorry Flan, we're having savory first. Maybe after, okay?

I should really not have voted while I was hungry
>> No. 39352
[x] ...what's pizza?
>> No. 39353
It's hard to speak about consistent characterization with Touhou characters. Their whole shtick is their lack of a defined personality besides a few, easily ignored, details.

[x] Sweets aren't really a full meal, but there's always room for dessert.

Flan for Flandre!
>> No. 39354
File 14645026786.jpg - (116.39KB, 590x651, never enough hina.jpg) [iqdb]
39354
>>39351

If you want both, vote for both! Because that's totally an option. In fact, the wording of the [x] Flan option was supposed to imply that you'd pick a main course too. My bad for not making it more obvious.

Not sure if that's what >>39349 meant; can you clarify that vote?

>>39353

I thought it would be pretty obvious by now that I'm not even trying to stick to canon. Or maybe not; you've managed to avoid meeting any of the characters I really screwed up. Clownpiece, for instance. I'm more concerned with keeping my characterizations consistent within the story.

Or just having characterizations at all, really. Patchouli is a robot, Flandre is a cliché hyperactive kid, and Byakuren didn't so much break the fourth wall as flat-out explain how I wrote her dialogue. It works, and nobody's complained about it so far, but I do want to get better eventually.

Have some more Hina.
>> No. 39355
[X] All of the above! If we make more than we can eat, I'm sure the fairies won't mind having some too!
>> No. 39356
File 146451354715.jpg - (178.01KB, 850x697, yeah more hina.jpg) [iqdb]
39356
>>39354
Yay for Hina! Best goddess 2016 and beyond!
>> No. 39357
>>39354
In that case I'll add this to my previous vote >>39350

[X] Sweets aren't really a full meal, but there's always room for dessert.
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