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File 154043409481.jpg - (222.86KB, 860x1204, KogaRei.jpg) [iqdb]
41060 No. 41060
Rice and Rain >>/shorts/2209

Inspired by, or shamelessly stolen from. Take your pick. Mibya wrote that (>>/gensokyo/15535).
26posts omitted. Last 50 shown. Expand all images
>> No. 41211
[] Ask the Child of Miare about how well known daikagura is in Gensokyo.
[] Time to see the hermit on the mountain.
>> No. 41229
[X] Ask the one pretender youkai in the village to borrow some things to practice.

[X] Time to see the hermit on the mountain.
>> No. 41263
[x] Ask the Child of Miare about how well known daikagura is in Gensokyo.
[x] Time to see the hermit on the mountain.

Let's get chatting.
>> No. 41269
also the 'pretender youkai' — that's 'banki-chan, correct? referring to her pretending to be human, and not some other youkai whose shtick is pretending or something, right?
>> No. 41270
>>41269
Indeed, since the only other named pretender (Mamizou) only frequents the village rather than living there.
>> No. 41271
[x] Ask the Child of Miare about how well known daikagura is in Gensokyo.
[x] Time to see the hermit on the mountain.
>> No. 41564
File 154492644917.gif - (228.66KB, 699x786, hermit.gif) [iqdb]
41564
>.gif

Sorry for the delay of LITERALLY OVER A MONTH. I could blame how I have other stories running, but the real reason is that I find this story to be one I feel most careful with. "Hardest to write", but in a good way.

++++++++

[X] Time to see the hermit on the mountain.


“Hmrrmmm...”

Reimu grumbled whilst floating above and before the most odious den of nonhumans still within Gensokyo: Youkai Mountain. She stayed posed beneath a clouded sky, arms crossed and calves as well. Good rest hadn’t worked. It aggravated her to do so, but she thought it might be a good idea to bother the nagging hermit about this. This hermit visited her shrine often, but with the skies still gray and a bit of a damp touch to the easeful, but miserably foreboding breeze, the shrine maiden was sure that Ibarakasen would stay within her special Hermit Realm today—within her Senkai.

“How do I get there again?” She actually didn’t know.

Reimu had been stolen away to the hermit’s secret place once before in the past, but she hadn’t exactly paid attention while being stolen. The truth was, even if she had, the probability steered greatly in favor of her forgetting the path. In fact, she had confirmed with Marisa (who had stayed overnight) early in the day the supposed route to sneak onto the premises, but the quickly-deemed-unimportant conversation had drifted out her memory by the time she arrived above The Great Youkai Forest. She now vaguely recalled something about lights and eagles... maybe.

“Uuu~n... should I just... go?”

She didn’t.

She continued to stare into the greenery below, almost hoping a path would show itself amidst the fluttering birds, the branches, the darting youkai, the falls...


/ / / / /


Kogasa had spent the day before reading her rented book in the comfort of Suzunaan, and was allowed to stay after closing (although she did not realize this until ten, and the shop closed at eight... that had been terribly embarrassing). Because of this, she wasn’t able to bring herself to bother any villagers for shelter that night. It had been a while, but she had to find a quiet place and rest seated against a wall until morning instead, her umbrella half covering her overhead and keeping her dry in the alley she chose... relatively, at least.

Most youkai used Misty Lake or other rivers to clean themselves when needed. Kogasa, however, had determined that to be old-fashioned. For a tsukumogami – the kind of youkai closest to humans – to head off to nature for basic needs was an absurdist concept. No, this karakasa-obake would use public baths.

“Excuse me! Miss Proprietor!” the youkai announced, tossing aside short blue curtains that marked the entrance to a bathing establishment. She closed and put down her parasol, then marched toward a smirking woman behind a counter. “I would very much appreciate it if you let me take a bath here!” she declared, her chin up, her eyes closed. She leaned toward the owner, whose grin was widening, and put her hand perpendicular to her mouth in order to speak secretly. “I am a youkai, though. I’ll do my best not to frighten anyone else.”

The young woman flinched slightly, suppressing a laugh, and said, “Yes, Miss Kogasa, I know.”

Kogasa arched her eyebrows and smiled proudly. “I’m famous...!” she realized.

“Well, I know you,” the human girl replied, leaning forward herself to show Kogasa the house rules, “but this is the first time you’re coming to our bath, hm? Anyway it’s fine, of course we accept youkai. Men on the right, women on the left. Pay first, please.”

She observed the signboard outlining the basics of etiquette and breathed out a warm sigh of relief, letting her shoulders slump down. Inexplicably, the proprietor giggled, and she looked at the girl quizzically. “So you really do that every place?” the human remarked. She tugged one of her eyebrows up and told the tsukumogami, “You know, a youkai in the Human Village isn’t an unusual sight. Anyway, would you like your dirty clothes washed as well?”

Kogasa blinked, then returned a pleasant smile. “It seems I know something you don’t as well,” she said. She then stuck out her tongue and winked. “The clothes will be clean,” she told the girl, still winking, “it’s simple youkai magic.”

= = = = =

Choosing your appearance meant choosing your wear. As long as you had the magic for it, you could restore the clothes you’d made for yourself. Even fairies were capable of this, and in a world where colorful, violent patterns often filled the skies and tore your sleeves and skirts asunder, such magic was a necessity. Wounds were another matter... only most youkai and gods could fast recover from injury, and oftentimes it relied on some sort of “other” factor such as surprise, nature, fear, or faith to do so.

Kogasa left her outer and under things in a basket to restore on their own, and she stepped from the empty changing room into an empty, smooth-stone and finished-wood bathing room. It was still early in the day... not a wonder then. She was a little relieved as she moved to the showers to scrub herself down—though frightening humans here would be rather helpful to her, the inconvenience would have left her feeling rather guilty.

While she refreshed herself and later while she soaked in the heated baths (her more-toolish half soaking along with her), she thought about what she’d like to do in the day. Since the room was empty, and the gentle ambience of swishing waters and rare droplets out of faucets was almost too quiet for her so as to make her a touch unnerved, she first began to put in practice a part of what she’d learned the day before. She lifted her other half from the water and spun it in her hands from its handle-leg, the tongue of it spinning in what she considered to be a rather terrifying manner. A bit of red, after all, was always sure to be an off-putting sight. The act scattered sparkles—or so the liquid all looked within the bathroom’s soft-yellow lighting—and she glowed to see that she was dexterous at this task. Perhaps, like how she easily connected with other aspects of “the parasol”, daikagura would also come to her easily.

She attempted to roll one of the nearby wooden buckets of water and dropped it close to immediately, standing out the bath at the very moment of disconnect.

She yelped at the resulting crash rebounding loud and hollow around her when the bucket met the stones, and fretted after while she turned it around in her hands, looking for splits or cracks.

Nothing was broken.

For several reasons, she felt relieved.

She let the bucket join her on her return to the bath as an apology, and while it swayed through and atop the surface she thought beyond “now”.

The mistake of seconds before must have been from a lack of proper form: her having been sat down and immersed in hot water after all. Given that, How much of a good or bad idea is it, I wonder?

I’m really excited about trying it out more seriously, and the idea of drawing a crowd is a great one, but maybe humans wouldn’t like it... It’s hard to guess what humans like. Can I ask someone?


“Someone who could know about daikagura... Miss Akyuu?” her voice rang everywhere, quiet though it was. “She knows everything, right? Maybe she’d know about this...”

She huffed, pumped her fist, and sloshed the bathwater.

It’s decided!

I’ll go to the
Hieda no MAN-SHON after this!


\ \ \ \ \


“Oh, is this the place?”

Reimu was pondering aloud while walking past trees and bamboo into a familiar-feeling place. It was the usual sense of being somewhere beyond Gensokyo, though the sense never told where exactly. The sleek, white wall and rose roof, three-story Eastern mansion before her led her to believe that she’d found Ibarakasen’s secret home. It was lined modern on every side and floor with sharp and dark pink balconies—or, perhaps, “rose” would be a better word. What had been her path to get here? Sort of... meandering toward and around Gensokyo’s other shrine. The only thing that had her reconsider this might be her destination was that, surprisingly enough, it didn’t smell like a den of animals. In fact, it was like perfume—floral. She didn’t remember the place smelling bad—which made sense, since hermits could change their worlds however they wished—but nonetheless it seemed odd that Kasen’s beast-filled realm didn’t have a zoo-like odor.

“Ooooii! Kasen! You here?”

She yelled out fully expecting an answer. Reimu was certain at this point that the hermit had to be holed up in her home. Before she’d entered this warm and sunshine realm, lush with flora of all seasons, she’d had to narrowly avoid the next steps of a miserable sky, and the first drops of rain. She was once more without an umbrella... but if she wanted, she could beat up a kappa later at their nearby den and get herself a free coat. Of course, thinking about her lack of rain gear made her think of that Kogasa again. She put on a frustrated face. That was why she was here.

While taking steps down a walkway marked by different sized and shaped stones, a gray canid openly came toward her, and toward her hand specifically. She raised her palm, and sat to pet its head and ears a little while. The thought came to her mind: I wish rabbits were this friendly... dnd her stomach grumbled.

“How did you get in here? I changed the way.”

Reimu turned up her head. She saw a pair of legs, a fresh green skirt. “You really do hide out when the weather turns bad, huh.”

“Quiet, you.” Hands balled into fists and put themselves to the hips in front of her. One was bandaged. Reimu looked up higher.

“Well, I’m here Kasen,” she said, eyes falling upon a pink head of short hair, twin-tied in Chinese buns. White covers as always, red ribbons to tighten them. She smiled. “Have any tea?”

“An intruder who wants to be treated like a guest...” the hermit whispered in exasperation, fingers just touching her forehead. She sighed, and closed her eyes with consternation.

But it was Reimu who felt more bothered, pushing down on the dog’s (wolf’s) head in irritation. “Hey,” she said as she dropped her eyelids halfway, “you bother me and use my things all the time; the least you could do is get me something to drink when I drop in on you.”

“Ehh... but... well...” the older girl wanted to express that the Hakurei Shrine was open to all. Her Senkai wasn’t.

But as she couldn’t argue against the fact she often bothered the Shrine Maiden, she turned away and began going to her house. “Alright,” she said, crossing her arms and sighing again (though this time in accepting defeat), “follow me, and bring Naoe along. I’ll feed him.”

Naoe? the shrine maiden questioned in her head, looking down at the head of the affectionate canine. She shrugged. Naoe.

She then followed Ibarakasen.

= = = = =

“So? Why’d you come here?” The hostess asked whilst tipping a ceramic pot, its contents flowing into a somewhat unusual cup. Before answering Reimu eyed it suspiciously, wanting to feel whatever it was made of, wondering why it was shaped somewhat like a hybridization of a bowl and vase. “... You’ve seen these before,” Kasen spoke before her, and she turned her eyes quick to the hermit.

“I’d remember something like that,” she stated plainly. Kasen knew this was false. “Anyway, I came here to ask you some questions.”

Finished filling the cup, the hermit’s face blanched to the words. She swallowed, forced a smile, and carried over a tray to her uninvited guest. “Questions... hm?” she confirmed.

Reimu noticed nothing of this. She looked at the tray as it was placed on the table in front of her. A white tablecloth... Kasen’s home was really rather extraordinarily fancy. It reminded her of pictures she’d seen a few times of “model homes” from the Outside World: incredibly clean, incredibly stark. The windows were patterned with wood, right-angular designs, that she didn’t tend to see in the more practically architectured human village. It all struck her as funny – that an ascetic would furnish their home so expensively – so she chuckled, making said hermit more nervous.

“I’ll get right to the point,” Reimu declared, taking the tea offered to her. She sipped, the hermit held her breath, and when the girl was done she asked, “Do you see anything wrong with me?”

“Um... ehh... come again?”

“Notice anything? Like... possession, or... a spell on me...”

“On... you? On you? No, I... You seem as ordinary as ever,” was the hermit’s evaluation, to which Reimu frowned.

“Really? You’re a hermit so I figured you might know something about this. I feel strange, but can’t recognize any usual problems... I’d go to the aliens in the Bamboo Forest, but even you’re better than them.”

She grumbled. Kasen wore a mixed expression. “Well, thank you...” she mumbled. Raising her voice, she followed with, “but I don’t see anything wrong you at all.”

“Ridiculous,” the maiden hissed, and she put down her cup a bit strongly.

“What’s the matter?” asked the hostess, sitting down across from her. “Maybe I can still help you.”

“Ahh, well...” Reimu began, and her face began to change shade. She turned her eyes to one of the surrounding white walls and explained, “Ever since yesterday I, uh, keep thinking about this one tsukumogami, and every time I do she crowds up my head almost like... like an avalanche or something. Like a bunch of clouds, just... ones I keep wanting to see. Bright, y-you know? It’s aggravating.”

Kasen blinked. “... Which... tsukumogami?” she ventured.

“Oh, that’s... It’s Kogasa... the umbrella youkai,” Reimu admitted, and she let her eyes shut.

Kasen blinked again and put the fingers of her false hand to her lips, lifting her eyebrows too. Oh my, she thought. Oh my, oh my.

“So?” Reimu asked, looking at her with one eye. “Does that sound familiar?”

It did.

Really, it was terribly obvious.

“Am I the first person you’ve talked about this with?” the hermit questioned.

“I guess you’re the first I’ve been... honest with,” she admitted. Kasen put her bandaged hand over her heart.

Oh, she... trusts me enough with that? The hermit found that she was nearly shedding a tear. I hadn’t realized...

But still, what to say...?


Kasen traced the lip of her own cup with her still-flesh hand for some seconds, then drank of it slowly. Reimu meanwhile awaited her answer racked with anxiety. Ultimately, the older woman put down her cup to a saucer, brushed a few strands of hair from her face, and told Reimu:

“[]”
>> No. 41565
File 154492652331.gif - (201.06KB, 726x784, historian.gif) [iqdb]
41565
>.gif

++++++++

/ / / / /


[X] Ask the Child of Miare about how well known daikagura is in Gensokyo.


“HEY, HEY! Youkai here! I wanna see the Child of Miare!”

“Hah!”

The servant girl at the Hieda Mansion gates was not expecting Kogasa to leap out from just outside her range of vision. She had been looking up at the sky and wondering if it would begin to downpour again, having stopped half an hour before, and was startled at the sudden appearance of a cutely dressed person.

Kogasa, on the other hand, had not expected this to surprise someone.

What? Huh? she thought, her smile plastered, but her brow contorting. She’s surprised!? Why!? It’s not night, and I didn’t even tell her I was going to spook her! Are there ghosts nearby...? Like at the graveyard?

She turned her head this way and that curiously, while the servant smoothed down her robes over her legs and realized she recognized this youkai. No relief-ful breaths were sighed at this understanding, however, as knowing who this youkai was made the reality that she had been “spooked” feel incredibly silly.

“Tatara Kogasa,” said the girl, bowing slightly before approaching the closed gates, “you were already interviewed for the Gensokyo Chronicle. Did you wish to see the Young Mistress about a revision or recall? Though it’s... been quite a while...”

“Oh, no. No no no no. No, no; I just wanted to ask her something,” explained the guest. The servant had no issue with that reason.

“I will go see the Young Mistress and ask if she would mind your company. Please wait there, I will be back shortly.” The servant bowed again, and turned to the mansion proper.

“Alright!” Kogasa shouted, and she spun her umbrella half over her head.

In the time since she’d taken a bath, it seemed to have rained. She lifted her heel and looked around her shoulder to see mud caking the bottoms of the geta’s pair of teeth, pouting without negativity and with her eyebrows raised. It was a shame she missed it. She liked when it rained.

“Still looks like it might,” she said to herself whilst looking up, hand posed a visor along her brow. The weather interested her more than the Hieda’s high-wall and unpretentiously palatial estate. She had seen it and gawked at it already; the sky, however, was always unpredictable. Zen gardens would remain zen, stately verandas would stay stately.

“Lady Kogasa, The Young Mistress will see you.”

The umbrella brought down her head and hand, and posed her fingers to her bottom lip, grinning like a cat. The servant who had returned and called for her attention tilted her head, confused. “Lady,” said the youkai with a snicker, “Kogasa.”

The servant blushed, and while fumbling with the gate she meekly explained, “My apologies, one of my cousins was babysat by you and, um, the Hieda House etiquette is...”

Kogasa marched forth as soon as the gates were parted enough for her feet. Still unconcerned with the mansion’s looks – the openness of its courtyard, how even beneath the gray color of brooding clouds the many flowers chosen kept vibrant and unscathed by gloom – she declared in passing, “Whatever name works!” and asked, “Where’s Miss Akyuu? Where she writes?”

“She is currently in the sitting room... I will guide you.”

Kogasa waited a moment for the likely younger girl to begin to do just that, following behind with a bounce to her step. The servant showed her to the dark-wood and polished porch, showed her where it was best to leave her geta, and offered no socks or indoor shoes having met many nonhumans already who swore off of footwear entirely.

So she stepped barefoot along the home’s outer edge – its near-to-earth balcony – walking largely beside closed doors, though a few were opened to rooms airing out and halls where others in the employ of the Hieda would bow upon seeing her. She sometimes wondered how these humans felt about that: showing outright respect to youkai. It was only with this latest Ninth Generation Chronicler that integration with youkai began to be promoted. Out of a small but persistent anxiety over how her presence could be unwelcome, she would smile brightly and bow in return to any and every boy and girl who showed her deference.

In a few seconds, perhaps a minute, she began to hear sounds... fake instrumentation. Energy? Something certainly... musical, though she couldn’t speak for musical tools. Long notes, slightly warbling like electricity, drew her interest and made her veer nearer to the building proper. She started tapping her finger on her skirt next, on every first and third beat, as a somewhat adventurous beat started up.

“Right in here Lady... Tatara,” said the maid, and she opened the nearest doors, exposing nature to the rather queer tunes in their full peculiarity.

Hieda no Akyuu sat within, on a stool and at a tall and thin table while she had tea. She was before a phonograph older than Kosuzu’s, and to its strange songs she was tapping her fingers on every beat, and bouncing her toes aloft as well. The room was warmly-lit, the tatami below seemed to shine, and the record-player’s stand reminded which home afforded and retained this place so well: Akyuu’s family name was gilded and set right at the front in Roman letters.

“Miss Tsukumogami,” said the master of the house, smiling to complete the perfect pose of regal laxness she was portraying (cheek rested against knuckles, arm bent before her, leaning forward but not slouching), “I really must ask: to what do I owe the pleasure?”

“‘Pleasure’...” Kogasa echoed the human girl and stepped within, the door being closed behind her, “you know... the ending of my article in the latest chronicle made it sound like me showing up was one of the most troublesome things that could happen to a human.”

“Eh? Isn’t that the kind of reputation you want?” Hieda no Akyuu remarked, lifting her face from her fist in honest confusion.

“No, that... isn’t the kind of reputation I was looking for,” Kogasa answered, lowering her head. Akyuu smiled again, but couldn’t keep a twitch from the corner of her mouth. After all, the way this umbrella acted most of the time, the idea that she lacked self-awareness regarding her own behavior and antics was rather baffling for the Historian to seriously consider. “Anyway... I wanted to borrow the Chronicle to look through it for anything about daikagura.”

“Daikagura, yes... that would be mentioned but...” Akyuu frowned and pondered, her brows furrowing. The record switched track, the next being more note-full and quite a bit more exciting to the ear. The purple-haired girl brought her hand to the phonograph and turned a nob on the side of its base, the volume lowering until it was only the level of a slight, but constant, melodic sort of wind. “Miss Kogasa, you are interested in daikagura for the show aspect of it, I take it?”

“Y-Yes...!” The youkai began to bounce back in enthusiasm, something the historian had seen often enough in her research and heard of enough in others’ accounts to know that it was manufactured.

“The umbrella juggling then,” she said. She halfway frowned and gave Kogasa a pitying look. “I haven’t written about that, then. I wouldn’t have.” She gestured to a sofa beside and somewhat behind her.

While the tsukumogami went to sit ther with her legs up, she asked, “Why!?”, and turned her head to her host rather emphatically.

“The thing of it is, although from the start it’s been entertainment for gods, and it was actually used to drive away youkai, it wasn’t long before attractions such as spinning things atop umbrellas were more for the purpose of general entertainment than something spiritual. My Chronicle concerns the fantastic, not the ordinary.” She smiled apologetically. “Sorry.”

“Dang it...”

“What did you even think I could help you with anyway?” Akyuu asked, taking a sip of her tea.

Kogasa showed her palm and a disappointed face. “I was wondering how popular it might be in Gensokyo, or if anyone had heard of it at all,” she said. “When I found something that wasn’t even heard of before... well I still babysit, but it was kind of a disaster for a while.”

Akyuu nodded. She knew. It took quite a while before her family and Suzunaan were done getting requests to send out warnings about Miss Kogasa’s escapades.

“Well I can tell you this, Miss Tsukumogami: there are many kinds of shows going on in the Village all the time, and I don’t see why umbrella spinning and juggling can’t be just as well received. Can you do it?”

Kogasa considered this for a second before answering: “Well, I can try!” Akyuu gave a light smirk to this.

“That’s the spirit, Miss Kogasa.”

“Which is it!? You keep switching!” The guest complained, lifting her fists over her head in cute frustration. The host chuckled, enough that she had to stop an encroaching cough.

But though she complained, the umbrella was happy to hear even a few words of support.

While she had the human’s time, she decided to speak further on any other matters that came to her mind: how youkai were faring in the Village lately, popular trends with humans, and just how the two of them had been doing. It went a lot like the first time she’d come to the Hieda Estate, and that familiarity was comforting. Hieda no Akyuu seemed genuinely fond of, or at the least interested in youkai, and though Kogasa wasn’t insensitive to the touch of a patronizing tone in some of the human’s words regarding Kogasa’s... less successful attempts at making a living, overall the young woman’s posture and expression were only accepting and open. Interested, and wanting.

And that was just very nice.


K

[] Practice at Myouren Temple.

[] Practice alone and out of the way.

[] Bother the pretender youkai. Also practice.


R

[] “You’re in love.”

[] “Well, I’m honestly not really sure...”

[] “I think the first thing you must do is confront the cause directly.”

++++++++

extra image sources:
https://danbooru.donmai.us/posts/3187942
https://danbooru.donmai.us/posts/1788883
>> No. 41566
[x] Bother the pretender youkai. Also practice.

B A N K I

[x] “You’re in love.”
>> No. 41567
[x] Practice at Myouren Temple.

[x] “You’re in love.”
>> No. 41568
[x] Bother the pretender youkai. Also practice.

[x] “I think the first thing you must do is confront the cause directly.”

Who doesn't want to realize they have a potentially embarrassing crush in front of the subject itself?
>> No. 41569
[x] Bother the pretender youkai. Also practice.

Pretty sure there were supposed to be multiple choices for this vote, but I only see one.

[x] “You’re in love.”

Best to be direct and unambiguous with a girl like Reimu.
>> No. 41571
[X] Bother the pretender youkai. Also practice.
'banki
plus you could do like that gif and practice with her hea-no that's a bad idea

[X] “You’re in love.”
I think she'd be direct. And really, it's the only way to get through.
>> No. 41715
File 154787508813.jpg - (299.16KB, 476x626, the things I deal with.jpg) [iqdb]
41715
\ \ \ \ \


Bpffffffwwff.

The tea that had been in Reimu’s mouth was now on the hermit’s face, and it now dripped off her nose, Reimu tried to drink again after coughing, and Kasen spoke again.

“... You’re in—”

BWFFFFWHWPp!

Kasen squinted at her guest through more warm tea; her guest who had one hand on her table, was leaning over it, and had clearly put much more force into this spit take than the last.

“... You—” was all Kasen said to make the shrine maiden pucker her lips at the lip of her cup. “Incorrigible...” said the hermit, and Reimu swallowed her drink, coughing once more. Kasen dabbed the tea from her face and the front of her shirt with a handkerchief, addressing the girl opposite her. “Reimu,” she began, “did you hear me?”

“No,” Reimu replied, her voice now somewhat scratchy. Kasen cocked her eyebrow.

“Really? So you just spit on people like that when... an odd wind tickles you, or somesuch?”

“... I heard you,” the girl finally admitted. While her host wiped away the mess she’d made, Reimu sat there not apologizing, too absorbed in the words Ibarakasen had said. She was otherwise only vaguely aware of the twittering of a distant family of birds from outside of the manor. Kasen silently continued her work, and in this quietness Reimu faced the question:

Am I in love with that umbrella?

Reimu grasped her hair with both hands, rudely digging her elbows into the tablecloth and finally making a sound: “Aaaaaagggghhh...” Kasen looked up.

“What’s the matter?” she asked with a bit of a tug up at the corner of her mouth. Reimu glowered.

“Quit joking. You know exactly what the problem is,” she said, “I... can’t! I’d... never! ... Me? For a youkai? The Hakurei Shrine Maiden!?”

“The same Maiden who’s really too lax with youkai in the first place...” noted Kasen with a sigh, wringing a cloth damp with tea into a basin. Reimu scrutinized this basin. She hadn’t noticed Kasen bringing it out. Noticing Reimu’s critical eye, Kasen explained: “You’ve been staring into your cup for five minutes.”

“Seriously?” asked Reimu, incredulous. That would have to mean that until she’d growled in frustration, she hadn’t really been thinking at all. Her mind had essentially gone blank. There was just no memory, no acknowledgement of the matter at hand. It seemed she’d unconsciously refused it. Her outburst a moment ago had really only been impulsive, and she wasn’t facing the conundrum—her entire “self” did not want to. And, as Kasen watched the knitting brow of the human she’d made her charge, she thought about Reimu, and how it could ever be possible to successfully make her realize anything through that mountain of stubbornness and self-assuredness that she was always stuck so deeply within.

“... I can only tell you what I think,” the hermit eventually said, “which is what you asked. You don’t seem to be haunted or cursed, so from other observation it only makes sense:”

Kasen put her hands on either side of the ceramic basin in front of her, and said again: “You’re in love.”

Reimu did not spit this time. She turned her cup around with her fingertips, and her face grew hot at the thought. She heard what Ibarakasen had to say, and she did not reject it.
>> No. 41717
File 154787537777.png - (391.28KB, 795x901, two heads.png) [iqdb]
41717
/ / / / /


Among the many people—and in particular, youkai—Tatara Kogasa respected, one who she respected particularly highly was the rokurokubi from the Human Village, Sekibanki. Sekibanki, in contrast, rather disliked Tatara Kogasa. Not necessarily specifically... The headless and neck-long youkai rather disliked everyone.

Kogasa was quite sure she was the coolest person in Gensokyo because of this.

Sporting a high-collar cape and a dismissive attitude, Sekibanki always seemed aloof and, ironically enough given her physicality, together. She lived in the human village hardly participating in human things, but also feigning at being human. She had been there for years, and only a few other townspeople were even vaguely aware of the truth at her neck. What youkai knew kept the secret safe, and like that, without issue, Sekibanki gathered fear quietly, leading a peaceful village life.

... Thinking on it, perhaps she did dislike Kogasa in particular, because this umbrella youkai would come up to her, obviously youkai, and strike up conversation without a care. This thought gave Kogasa pause as she made her way to the rokurokubi’s home. She stopped on the road and put a finger to her chin, her eyebrows wriggling. Would I be annoying her today, too? she thought.

Not caring about the answer, she continued on as the people she passed by put down their rain shutters. The feel in the air had gotten a bit “full” again, so they were quick to prepare. A few villagers were taking out their parasols and raincoats. Whether she was aware of it or not, she tried not to look at them.

She intended to get some advice from Sekibanki again... and to use her to get some objects to juggle. In the past, the most she usually got from the other youkai was a spell card thrashing. Today, she told herself: I’ll be her friend THIS time!

The so-called “Dullahan” lived in a perfectly ordinary, but admittedly quiet part of the village: a simple neighborhood of a few standard houses, and hers was as standard as the rest.

Kogasa trotted to her front door and rapped her knuckles against the wooden frame, saying quite loudly: “Alms! Alms! Alms for the tools!”

In a few moments, Sekibanki opened the door a crack, gazed upon Kogasa’s bright countenance, and simply closed the door back in the next moment.

“You’d let a tool rust in the rain!?” the umbrella cried, to which the Dullahan swiftly noted:

“You’re supposed to do well in rain.”

“C’mooon...! Let me in!”

“Why would I do that? What reason at all?”

Kogasa opened palm toward the clouding skies, as if the house owner within were watching. She told Sekibanki, “We’re friends, right?”

And Sekibanki answered, “No.”

“Why are you so unfriendly!?” whined Kogasa in a huff. To this, Sekibanki opened her door a bit again to ask a similar question.

“Why are you so nosey?”

Now, she kept the door open, and she stood a sight of red from within the darkness of her home. She met Kogasa’s blue eye, and then stared instead at the skies above that ordinarily matched it, wincing at their dour color. A black sky would have definitely been better. She brought her gaze back down and followed with another question:

“What do you want today?”

Kogasa shined.

“Help me improve my scares!”

Sekibanki narrowed her eyes, and her brows pushed together.

Again this?”

“Uh, please?”

“No.”

“Can you help me with something else?”

“What?”

“Juggling.”

“... What?”

Kogasa shined again, and Sekibanki moved away from her door with a sour face.

“Is that a yes!?”

“It’s a ‘what’. What the hell are you up to? ‘Juggling’?” she asked, and Kogasa saw a chance. The umbrella youkai stood up straight and proudly. She coughed to clear her throat.

“Ahem! I have decided to become a street performer!”

“Oh?” muttered Sekibanki lazily, and her grip on her door relaxed.

“I read about daikagura and it gave me the idea to try.”

“Can’t you settle down? You bounce around too many jobs...”

“I’m just trying to figure out what works for me...” Kogasa trailed off, and her gaze drifted elsewhere.

“Hmph...” Sekibanki’s eyes also turned away. She tightened her hold on her door’s handle and said, “Well, you can do that for yourself. You don’t need me for that.” She began to pull her hand left. “Good luck,” she big Kogasa, and then told her, “Stop bothering me, alright? Don’t come back here.”

Kogasa’s body jumped with surprise. This wasn’t an unfamiliar pattern... but...

Maybe she could change things this time...!


Stop her!
[] Barge in!

[] Make an offer for forging/making something!

[] Beg and plead!

++++++++

image source: https://danbooru.donmai.us/posts/2739846
>> No. 41718
[x] Beg and plead!
>> No. 41719
[X] Barge in, begging and pleading!
It just seems to fit the flow.

'Banki said Kogasa bounced around too many jobs, but I figured the smithing thing was a steady thing for her? Like, all the other stuff is for fun or pocket money or to help train spooks, and the forge is where she really earns her bread. Maybe it's seasonal.
>> No. 41720
>>41719
~it is a mystery~

Kogasa claims to sustain herself on surprises/spooks, but that would have surely killed her by now if that were the case. She also claims that a tsukumogami of this day and age should be whatever a human needs, and adapt with the times and trends to remain useful/relevant. Maybe it's "whatever works"
>> No. 41721
[x] Beg and plead!

Give her the biggest, wettest puppy dog eyes you've got.
>> No. 41722
[X] Barge in!

Seems she views us as a nuisance... clearly the answer is to make ourselves too big of a nuisance to ignore!
>> No. 41744
File 154861978490.jpg - (372.54KB, 700x652, noncommittal rainy day.jpg) [iqdb]
41744
[x] Beg and plead!


She began with, “Wait!”

To which Sekibanki did not.

She followed with, “Please? Can’t you—”

And Sekibanki closed the door.

“Oh, come on!” moaned Kogasa, hitting her knuckles (rather politely) against the door. “Just once! Just this once?”

There wasn’t an answer.

Kogasa stood dejected at the rokurokubi’s door, her shoulders slumping, and her posture growing dejected.


\ \ \ \ \


Reimu had to return to her Shrine, prepare a bit more for rain, and if only to get her mind off of things: patch up some parts of the roof. Stop up the holes and all.

After checking and confirming that no mice were on her premises, she went into her home with some waterproof paper in her hand and a dull expression on her face.

She wasn’t really a repairwoman. If there were ever any major problems with her house or shrine, she relied on a wandering oni to take care of it. Really, for things like the problems in her ceiling and roof that she would be dealing with now... ordinarily she just wouldn’t deal with them. If water dripped on her face or in more than three places, then it was a problem. Anything other than that, as now, was just par for the course at Hakurei Shrine. She took a patch to the first of two leaks in her pale ceiling—in a corner of her bedroom—spreading the square thing smooth against the wound. She’d have to go up top to actually take care of the problem altogether, but this would be first.

More than a leaking roof bothered her, unfamiliarity bothered her much, much more. If anything she was presently fighting off one out-of-ordinary thing with another: ignoring the idea of romance by paying attention to the poor state of her shrine for once. While she walked to her kitchen, where the other leak could be found, she realized that was not working. Maybe hammering would change the subject.

She patched the drip, dripping spot, frowning as some water had hit her cheek while repairing, and she stepped back out of her house while sighing. She walked to the shed, reminding herself that Ibarakasen had been right.

Reimu went through the storage’s door and swiftly grabbed a mallet hung on the wall. She stepped further in to rummage through musty boxes, in search of nails.

And, after a fair while of looking, her brow began to distort.

“Hmm...? What? There aren’t any wakugi... Eh? There aren’t any sorts nails at all?” She pulled back from the chest she’d been exploring and sat on her knees, the mallet still in her hand, which was now at the floor. “What the heck... Can I afford more nails?” she asked herself, shutting her eyes and leaning her head back. Her ears perked up, and she squinted into the shadows that hid her shed’s ceiling. She could hear some pitter and patter of the faintest rain. She closed her eyes and sighed again. “Could use Suika... Where is she when I want her?”

She went quiet after that.

Eventually, she laid the hammer down on the floor and stood, reaching for her parasol. I’ll get some stuff... she settled on this idea.

She would either go to the village to resupply, or to Marisa for possible help. She decided—


[] to go into the village.

[] to find Marisa.

++++++++

No friendly Banki here, guys. Better luck next time.

Image source: https://danbooru.donmai.us/posts/1939786
>> No. 41750
[X] to find Marisa.

She's sure to have a box of nails in that junkyard she calls a house
>> No. 41751
[x] to go into the village.
>> No. 41754
[X] to find Marisa.
>> No. 41755
[] to go into the village.
>> No. 41756
>>41744
[X] to find Marisa.
>> No. 41836
File 155080637751.jpg - (431.03KB, 1502x964, the ordinary magician's house.jpg) [iqdb]
41836
[X] to find Marisa.


/ / / / /


It was fairly quiet, since her begging had long-ceased. Kogasa was now sat with her back to the other youkai’s door, watching a few children pass by here and there, but mainly watching nothing. A little-trafficked dirt road on a cloudy day: truly unremarkable.

Sekibanki’s rejection had put her in a seemingly irreversible mood. While the echoes of distant wheels and the occasional vague marketplace shout were cast overhead, she stayed down below, hugging her knees and feeling like her heart was being dragged further and further down in her chest—like it had become a stone in there, and her ribcage had become a deep and black pool of water it was being sunk into.

I really wish I didn’t have to do any of this, she thought. Why can’t things just go... “right”? I don’t want to be the best at anything, I just want to keep going...

To just live...

It’s horrible.


She felt like she wanted to quit again.

Contrary to how Akyuu and most others thought of her, she wasn’t without any sense. She wasn’t just a ball of easily slighted emotions. She knew well enough that in time she’d get over this, and that she’d be able to coast for a while as always until hitting some sort of wall again.

But, like always, it didn’t feel that way. It always felt like rock-bottom, end of the rope when she was like this. She could have gone to practice juggling on her own near thirty minutes ago, but instead she just felt hollow, pointless, and not dissimilar to how she had felt when she was cast off the side of the road. She felt like she was dead, hated how overdramatic that sounded, and yet couldn’t for the life of her shake the emptiness that was persistently boring through the left side of her core.

She really hated it. She really hated herself.

Being in this state of heart was more disgusting than saddening. There wasn’t even any strength in her heart for tears.

“Should just give up”, “should just go away”, “can’t do anything”—these were awful, but often thoughts, and they were bogging her down now more than ever due to a mere rejection that she should have fully expected. She sighed without feeling, she listened to the town, and she didn’t move on.

“Are you going to be there all day? Eventually I’m going to want to leave my house.”

Kogasa lifted and turned her head, answering the girl behind her with a half-broken and somewhat shaking, “Ahh...”

Sekibanki looked at her from a crack in her door with thinned eyes. “What the hell is wrong with you, anyway?” she asked. “One half of the time you’re flapping around everywhere like a bird, the other half you just look like a toad. Like now.”

“I hear they call it melancholia,” said Kogasa.

“Maybe three ages ago. I think what they’d call you now is ‘bipolar’,”

“‘Bipolar’? What’s that?”

“Just what it sounds like,” Sekibanki explained, still not fully opening her door. She held up a sign of peace, telling Kogasa, “Bi-, two, poles—like extremes. Like the North Pole and the South Pole. Feeling some way in one moment, and then completely the opposite in the next.”

“Huh... It sounds like you know what’s wrong with me, so why did you ask?”

Sekibanki grit her teeth in a frown and almost, slightly, growled the words, “Don’t get sassy with me. I’m actually giving you the time of day, here.”

Kogasa’s figure became smaller, and—

“Sorry...”

She apologized.

At this point, Sekibanki realized that while it was possible to move Kogasa from her doorstep it would possibly not be easy doing so. Besides, the girl would surely return anyway on another day. She always did. What was the less ideal option? Letting her in to deal with her happiness, or leaving her out for her to be a bother at a later date?

... Change wasn’t always a bad thing.

“Quit moping and get inside,” said the long-neck youkai. She opened the door wide and said, “Hurry, I don’t want your sitting around outside my house sending the wrong message.”

The umbrella’s eyebrows lifted, and her mood as well... but only slightly. “Really?” she asked.

“If you don’t stand up right now, I’m going to change my mind,” was the redhead’s answer.

Kogasa stood, and walked stiffly through the rokurokubi’s door. Sekibanki surveyed the area for a moment, saw that there was nobody out, and went back inside as well.


\ \ \ \ \


The Forest of Magic.

Although her best friend had lived here since her childhood, Reimu genuinely almost never felt inclined to go here, nor did she tend to have a reason. Marisa was at her Shrine most days, the forest itself was more fairy than youkai-filled so she wasn’t often called there, and it was kind of gross. Maybe, a long time ago, this place had been a wonder to her but... she frankly didn’t remember that ever being the case. Overgrown, a confusing layout, and while she wasn’t unfond of mushrooms the ones in the Forest were usually the dangerous kind. Not that that stopped her friend...

She hovered above the trees with her eye out for the landmarks near to Marisa’s home, and with a hand over her mouth to hold off the spores and awful atmosphere of the Forest. Magicians didn’t mind the Forest much... but it wasn’t because of the place being a hotbed of ingredients for spellwork; it was because they were already very familiar with noxious air and deadly chemicals. Reimu’s only experience with the unhealthy was really just her eating spoilt food despite the warning signs, whether she had bought and forgotten something or was just having leftovers too many months after their initial making. She didn’t intentionally put herself in or under unfavorable conditions, though many might have argued that wasn’t the truth.

She was also steering clear of actually entering the Forest because unlike most youkai, fairies tended to forget why she was considered a kind of “Fantasy’s Bane”, to be feared in the day or night. If a fairy knew it could prank a human, Shrine Maiden or no they would, and she didn’t like getting lost (even if in most cases her intuition made light of any turning around). When she finally spotted a familiar dip and sparseness within the Forest’s canopy, she descended with few of these complaints actually in her head. Priority One was fixing things, not worrying over frivolous, natural occurrences (bothersome or otherwise).

She found Marisa’s house down below, and it looked as much of a trash heap as ever. Oddities from around Gensokyo and items from the Outside World seemed almost like they were spilling from her walls. There was some sort of glossy and thin black box, some sort of scaled down replica of one of Moriya’s pillars, a stood up tatami mat, an old and worn-out sofa...

There was a lot. Those simply caught her eye first. She noticed: it seemed the theft-inclined girl had lost that strange, not made of stone, old man statue...

Marisa’s home was still clearly rather sturdy compared to hers, despite being so... well, filthy. Vines, moss, and dirt choked the outside of the western building, but every shingle was firm on the roof, the windows looked new, and the door wasn’t rattling with the wind. The red and white girl wondered how her black and white friend managed this simultaneous careless neglect and responsible minding. She herself was almost fully in the camp of the former.

Reimu marched past Marisa’s “We’ll do anything” shop sign to reach her door. She knocked on it heavy, and called out, “Marisa? Are you in?”

There was a peal of several hard and heavy things falling, followed by silence. Reimu waited with her hands on her hips, listening to the chirping of birds, and watching the bit of gray sky she could see from there a little warily.

The door opened with a light creak.

“Reimu?” asked Marisa. Reimu turned her eyes to the magician. The shorter girl wasn’t exactly decent: she was only in a camisole and bloomers. “What are you doing here?” she asked. “What’s up? Somethin’ happen?”

Well, it was an exceedingly rare event: her coming all the way here.

“Give me some nails,” Reimu demanded.

Marisa narrowed her eyes. “What? You came all the way out here for that? Is your roof leaking or something?”

“That’s right.”

“Right, it was... Jeez, pull yourself together,” Marisa shook her head, and sighed. Turning she left the door open, telling her friend, “Come on in, and close the door behind you. I probably have something in here...”

Reimu did so, following after the blond into an abused entrance hall. There were more large “artifacts” (pieces of trash) pushed to either wall, and walking through looked like it would prove difficult.

“You should make trash danmaku...” Reimu suggested absently. Marisa pushed air sharp out between her teeth.

“Shaddap...” she grumbled, moving further into her warehouse-called-home.

Reimu looked on past her to see some light filtering through a window and showing that at least Marisa kept the place where she ate mostly clear. Her bedroom was on the second floor; the shrine maiden wondered if the same could be said of where she slept.

“Do you want me to help look through your garbage?” Reimu asked at a bit of a loud volume.

Marisa came back with, “Shut up!” and “It’s treasure, not garbage.”

“Getting the two confused... You’re really too much like Rinnosuke.”

Having entered the kitchen area, Marisa poked her head out to meet her friend’s eyes and to angrily state, “Oi, you’re a guest, so be polite.”

Reimu frowned at this response, thinking of how often Marisa treated herself like the Queen of her Shrine. She said, simply, “Do I even have to say it?”

Marisa returned to her search and said, “I’m always polite.” Lying, like always.

Reimu took off her shoes by a finger to each heel and stepped carefully into the hoarder’s den. She moved, almost sidestepping, toward the kitchen, intent on making some tea.

When she’d finally cleared the foyer, she rolled up her sleeves and walked to the cupboards. No dishes in the sink: everything in regards to that was clean and put away. She got out the tea leaves and kettle, and set about preparing.

“Toss me your mini-Hakkero,” Reimu called out to Marisa, who’d gone into another too-cluttered room.

“You remember how to use it?” asked the magician, returning to throw the artifact over.

Reimu caught it out the air and turned its trigram-side face up on a counter, telling her, “Yeah.” She then clicked one of its sides, starting a small flame from the center, which she set the kettle on after filling it. While she waited, elbows on that same counter, she listened to Marisa making her home more of a mess.

“Did you ask Kasen about what was going on with you?” she heard, and a blush rose on her cheeks. She pouted while looking at the wood-panel floor.¬¬

“Yeah...” she replied after a moment.

“So? What happened?” came a follow-up question, after which there was a crash and a light swear.

Answering that would be a little harder...

While Marisa was undoubtedly her best friend, close to her almost as far back as she could remember, the two of them weren’t entirely... forthright with one another. Typically, “confiding” wasn’t a part of their relationship. Reimu never told Marisa about any second thoughts she had over her judgements as Gensokyo’s Shrine Maiden; Marisa never told her just how hard it was she worked to keep up. They both knew... they were too close to not notice that much.

But admitting was embarrassing.

The same was true here. Being honest about something like her “feelings” and “romance”...? The very thought seemed to snare her heart in brambles.

“Reimu?” Marisa called.

The kettle started to whistle.

Reimu decided


[] to tell the truth.

[] to hide the truth.
>> No. 41837
File 155080647977.webm - (356.35KB, Banki.webm) [iqdb]
41837
/ / / / /


Sekibanki’s home was not ordinary, though there seemed to have been consideration and some sort of effort taken to making it seem ordinary. Kogasa found herself seated in a mostly empty dining room with a kitchen somewhat nearby, but the table’s placement felt peculiar (being put to the corner right of the entrance hall), the kitchen itself had open cupboards that showed no tableware, and the entire building seemed to be dark. By peeking around, Kogasa discovered that there was a wooden-barred window within the bedroom, bringing a bit of light in, but everywhere else was sunless, silent, and... “off”.

Altogether, it was really impressive.

“Your place is pretty scary, Miss Sekibanki,” she complimented.

The other youkai, who was in another room and changing out of her flashier clothing, replied with a mumbling, “It’s not supposed to be...” that the umbrella could not hear.

The Dullahan came into the main room, no longer wearing her cape. With a hand on her hip, she frowned at Kogasa, who cocked her head and smiled (a bit confused). “What?” asked the guest.

“I’m thinking, ‘should I take the words of someone who can’t scare people seriously when they’re talking about what’s scary or not?’ I don’t bring people over to my house... I don’t know how humans would react to it, but I’d prefer they not be creeped out...” The redheaded girl’s brows began to knit. “I’m trying to come across as ‘human’ myself, here.”

Kogasa donned a pitying smile. “Humans don’t stay cooped up inside their homes all day,” she said, and Sekibanki was not incorrect to find her tome patronizing.

“Shut up... What about hermits?”

“Those are weird humans,” she answered, still smiling. The rokurokubi now looked fully miserable.

“Well... I can’t deny you know how to make humans happy...” she said.

“Most of the time, I’m not trying to...” grumbled Kogasa.

“Even if you don’t know how to frighten them, you’ve got a good handle on blending in with them. Tell you what...” Sekibanki crossed her arms and leaned against a wall before continuing, “if you tell me how to get along with humans better, or be a more convincing human... then I’ll give you pointers on how to scare or whatever.” She sighed. “My whole situation relies on the farce. I don’t want to deal with humans or youkai, but that’s how it is. I’ve got other things I want that need me staying here.”

To this proposal, Kogasa truly brightened, causing the Dullahan to wince once more. Unbeknownst to the umbrella, her miserable attitude had come in handy once more (as Hieda no Akyuu had once reported, which she actively tried to ignore: humoring the sky-colored tsukumogami was often a better choice than not). Regardless, it was a golden opportunity. Hardly hiding her excitement, Kogasa thought to herself about what exactly she would ask of Sekibanki in return. Absolutely she could ask for scaring advice, but there was actually another possibility...

Sekibanki didn’t seem to have any objects with which to practice juggling, but she did have something. Asking could provoke a firing of lasers out of her eyes, but... Although... Still, thinking it over...

Kogasa hummed in thought.

And, after much consideration, she decided:


[] She’d keep things straightforward and ask for scaring lessons.

[] She’d ask if she could practice spin-juggling by using Sekibanki’s extra heads.


R - reminder

[] to tell the truth.

[] to hide the truth.
>> No. 41838
[x] She’d keep things straightforward and ask for scaring lessons.

[x] to tell the truth.
>> No. 41839
[x] She’d ask if she could practice spin-juggling by using Sekibanki’s extra heads.

If there's an objectively wrong choice, this sounds like it. I just can't say no to it.

[x] to hide the truth.

On the one hand, Marisa seems the sort of person to offer advice we couldn't get anywhere else. On the other, it might be better to stick to other, 'safer' confidants and let her find out on her own.
>> No. 41840
>Marisa’s home was still clearly rather sturdy compared to hers, despite being so... well, filthy.

Superior Western architecture, folded over a thousand ti built with gaijin things like 'insulation' and 'longevity' in mind. How can nips even compete? With aesthetics only I guess.

[X] to tell the truth.

You can lie to yourself about whether or not it's correct, but don't lie about Kasen's actual words.

[X] She’d keep things straightforward and ask for scaring lessons.

Using heads would be pretty fuckin spooky, but that's a bit too bloody an image for Kogasa, right? She's going for like surprising skills/tricks with the daikagura, not fear, and I'm sure practicing with her heads wouldn't exactly be a pleasant experience for 'banki. It's a shame she doesn't seem to have any balls or wooden cups or convenient metal rings for us to borrow. May as well get some regular spookskills while helping 'bankiki out with not being such a broody creep.
>> No. 41841
[X] She’d keep things straightforward and ask for scaring lessons.
[X] to hide the truth.
>> No. 41856
>>41837
[X] She’d ask if she could practice spin-juggling by using Sekibanki’s extra heads.

[X] to hide the truth.
>> No. 41857
[X] She’d ask if she could practice spin-juggling by using Sekibanki’s extra heads.

[X] to tell the truth.
>> No. 41937
File 15530794096.png - (1.60MB, 1100x1500, てれいむ.png) [iqdb]
41937
Here's your update, and did you notice? IT'S A COMPLETE TIE! Damn, y'all. The result is... this, I suppose. For those who don't dip their noses outside of /shrine/ and /th/ or whatever, I've got a completed story over here now >>/underground/16139 , Make a fist. It's about Joon, the flashy, money-grubbing final boss with a hidden heart of gold from AoCF. Also contains gay if you're into that; actual spoiler: ========(with Koishi)========
Now, on to the update.

++++++++

[X] She’d take a gamble, and ask for two things instead.


\ \ \ \ \


Reimu decided [X] nothing, and became silenced and stiffened by the question instead.

“Hey Reimu, what the heck?” Marisa peeked around from where she’d been, the corner of a wooden box peeking out from below along with her. She almost dropped it upon seeing the shrine maiden’s face, “... Oi! What’s wrong!? If you’re gonna collapse, then switch off the mini-Hakkero!“

Reimu’s face was bright red and she was holding the heel of her hand over her eye, her free and flat gaze aimed toward the floor. Marisa believed she was ill, and that perhaps speaking about whatever currently ailed her was making things worse. Definitely some sort of youkai—or maybe even a youkai’s disease. While that ought to have been impossible, the concept of “impossibility” was a flimsy one in Gensokyo. The small magician hurried over, putting the box down on her kitchen table and marching quickly to Reimu. Reimu leaned back at the sudden approach and Marisa’s outstretched hand.

The witch grabbed behind her to shut off the mini-Hakkero, and while she was pressed against the shrine maiden, she glared upward into Reimu’s eyes and used her other hand to clasp the girl’s shoulder, pulling her down. Marisa put her forehead against Reimu’s, thinking for a while. Pulling back, she muttered, “You ain’t got a fever though...”

She took Reimu’s free hand.

“Alright, enough is enough. Come on, follow me into my room while I get changed; the air’s better in there. We’re gonna go see Eirin.”

She started to drag Reimu forward, and the slightly older girl finally found her voice again.

“Hey! I’m not sick!”

Marisa stopped, and looked her way baffled. “Huh?” she grunted. “Then what’sa matter with you?”

Reimu opened her mouth uselessly, thinking she wanted to speak but knowing she couldn’t. Her lips closed and parted in her attempts, but she was really too flustered. A bird landed on Marisa’s roof, clacking and scratching noisily with its claws as it hopped about. The homeowner looked up with a bothered face, and the two of them relaxed their postures.

“I’m in love...” whispered Reimu.

“Hn? What?” Marisa asked, her concentration having been on the shingle-tapper above.

“Ahh, I—!” Reimu found herself retreating mentally, “I’ve been... thinking about the lune...! Lunar... The moon...” she jabbered on, looking toward the ceiling, laughing breathily, and blushing as intensely as ever.

“‘Lunar’? You went nuts?” Marisa asked. The bird began to cry out, and the magician grit her teeth. “I’m gonna go nuts myself... Tch, lemme grab the mini-Hakkero,”

“Wait, no,” Reimu stopped her, moving the hand in Marisa’s grasp out to gently push both against the blonde’s chest. “Um, that’s not it,” she said.

“That kinda line... This really does have something to do with the moon? Maybe we really shouldn’t see Eirin.”

Marisa...” Reimu almost hissed, gripping at her friend’s camisole.

“Let go a’ me,” said the friend, waving off Reimu’s hands. “I heard ya, I heard ya but... did you really shoot something that cliché at me, Reimu?”

Reimu shut her eyes and whined with embarrassed noise. Marisa almost swore she saw steam coming out of the red-and-white girl’s ears.

“... You fell in love, Reimu? You?”

Reimu considered nodding. She considered suddenly, aggressively, shaking her head. This amounted to her cocking her head to the side just a little, frowning and not meeting Marisa’s eyes. After a distinct amount of silence, she glanced the magician’s way... and saw that her face was matching the blush she sported, tone for tone, scarlet for scarlet.

“Wh-Why are you embarrassed!?” Reimu snapped.

“Ah... uh... well...” Marisa scratched her cheek, her eyebrows pushing together and wriggling. She met her friend’s worried eyes. “... You’re telling me this, Reimu?”

Kaaww! Kaaww!

“Will you... shut your goddamn beak!?” Marisa turned to her right and moved to get to the window over her sink. Reimu leapt in place and grabbed her friend at her sides.

“Marisa!” she shouted, “St-Stop! You’re still in your underwear!”

She tugged the magician away from her attempts to climb toward and open her window, which proved difficult when three other birds joined in on the get-together thus bolstering Marisa’s efforts. Reimu grit her teeth and yanked the smaller girl backward, lifting her for a moment.

“Oi! Don’t lift me!” Marisa complained, raising a pair of balled fists. Reimu slipped on a slip of paper underfoot, and unceremoniously dropped onto her rear, Marisa’s bottom falling into her stomach.

“Bwooff!” the shrine maiden spat air. Marisa, having not expected the tumble, reached for anything, which turned out to be a large skillet. She reflexively pulled back her arm and slammed the pan against her forehead.

Yowch!

She kicked up her feet, knocking a nearby rolling pin.

The pin span across the counter while the two girls fell onto each other. It struck the mini-Hakkero, which fell on Reimu’s head (eliciting an “ow!”), dropped to the floor, and began to produce a high pitched, continuous noise.

“Oh, crap,” Marisa muttered. She turned off of Reimu and, beside her now, kept her head down as the miniature magical furnace erupted with blue, shining lights. It then began glowing and rumbling in place. “Crap crap crap!

While beams bounded around her kitchen, blasting things to the floor, repelling between walls, and ricocheting off into other rooms of her house (and by the noise, causing a tremendous mess (which, at least, did scare off the birds), Marisa got on top of Reimu once more and stretched her arm out long to get at the agitated device. She rapidly pressed the trigrams on its face in a certain order, her eyes wide in panic at the thought of a master spark tearing through her roof. With a final press, she felt its power immediately drain, and watched as it lost its light. She sighed, and began panting from fear, soon feeling the aggressive tickle of a raspberry being blown against her stomach.

“Hyaaahh!? R-Reimu—! St-St-Stop tha-at!”

As the trill of lips against skin grew into a resounding “plbbbbbt”, Marisa finally pushed away, seeing the hem of her camisole tug off from the back of Reimu’s head. She sat down on her friend’s calves then hopped for a moment as the final bounding laser struck her left cheek (not on her face) with a pew!

“That was all your fault...” Reimu grumbled, getting up onto her forearms and elbows. Dust slowly settled down over both of them. “Why’d you put your belly on my face?”

“Why’d you blow it?” Marisa snapped, blushing and holding her molested front.

“It was squishy,” Reimu replied.

“It’s not squishy!!” yelled Marisa, lifting her hem to show the other girl. “I’m thin as a rail!”

Reimu leaned forward and poked beside Marisa’s now-visible bellybutton. “This is fat, Marisa.”

“Shut up!” Marisa exclaimed, tugging down her shirt over Reimu’s hand. She frowned miserably as Reimu squeezed the belly absently. “What the heck...” she complained.

“You mocked me for using a cliché line but... did you seriously just try to get out of what I was trying to tell you ‘cause of some birds?”

“That ain’t it...” said Marisa in her trademark style of speech. “It’s like... you don’t ever get serious with me, Reimu. I kinda wanted to get the hell out of here.”

“Really?” asked Reimu, stopping her palpations to rest her hand against Marisa. Though she asked as if the sentiment didn’t resonate with her at all, in truth she understood and even shared her friend’s reluctance perfectly.

“Uh, well, if we’re gonna be serious today,” Marisa began, stopping briefly to say “get your hand outta there” and extract Reimu’s arm, “Reimu, I’m with ya through thick and thin y’know? If you wanna tell me somethin’ in seriousness, I’ll listen to ya.” With Reimu’s forearm in her hand, she shook the limp-wristed maiden’s limb and spoke on whilst looking at her dangling fingers. “I’ll admit it’s kind of a shock hearing you, like, fell for someone, but... but, if it’s tearin’ you up like that, don’t worry! I’m here for support!” Marisa aimed her thumb at her chest, smirked, and declared, “I’m a master on love! Hit me with your best shot!”

“You’ve never been in love before either,” said Reimu bluntly, ignoring her friend’s zeal.

“I’ve got plenty of admirers...” answered Marisa, somewhat loudly at the start of her claim, but quickly losing volume. Reimu poked her friend in the stomach again.

“Loving a pudgy magician?” she teased.

Marisa flared up again, and pounced on the girl below her. “Ticklin’ and teasin’ me over and over...! Show me those pits, girl! It’s time for revenge!”

“Try it!” challenged the shrine maiden with a tooth-bearing smirk as she struggled against the magician. “You won’t even get close!”

“Damn it, Reimu...!”

And whether or not Marisa’s reaching fingertips could meet their intended marks...

In short order, Reimu found herself laughing regardless.
>> No. 41941
File 155308569616.jpg - (71.43KB, 919x725, ダメ.jpg) [iqdb]
41941
/ / / / /


“You... what?”

Sekibanki was glowering.

“And give me scaring lessons, too!” shouted Kogasa excitedly, her fists balled.

“Wait,” said Sekibanki, “no. Say your first request again.”

“If you want my help, let me try daikagura with one of your heads!”

“Hey, are you really that stupid?”

“Wait,” Kogasa stammered, “wait, think about it.”

What is there to think about?” asked Sekibanki, almost snarling. “Even if I was okay with doing two things for you instead of one... you realize how completely inane one of those two requests is, right?” She straightened her back, maximizing her air of intimidation. “What are you thinking? Do you want me to throw up?”

“O-Ohh, come on now,” said Kogasa in a voice that was attempting to placate, “You don’t feel everything your heads do, right?”

Of course I do.” Sekibanki insisted this in her deepest possible voice, almost raising the hairs on the back of the tsukumogami’s neck. “You feel everything that umbrella part does, right? Are you not sure? Should I break it in half to show you?”

“Eep! N-No violence!”

“What is juggling one of my heads supposed to be, then!? Playing around!?”

“Listen!” Kogasa yelled, holding up both of her hands before her. To her surprise, the dark room became very quiet. In that silence, the first sounds of returning rain could be heard: slowly, barely. “I mean this seriously, Miss Sekibanki...” Kogasa ventured. “Do you have to see through your other heads’ eyes all the time?”

“What do you mean?” asked Sekibanki, delivered as if her question were an accusation.

Kogasa turned in place, still on her knees by the corner table, to face her host. She put her hands down onto her thighs and straightened up, wearing a serious face.

“I mean, you’re right that my umbrella and me, well, it’s really like, we’re the same thing really...” She quickly shook her head after losing momentum, leaning her body a bit forward. “I have to want to see through that eye, otherwise, seeing stuff would be too confusing!”

Sekibanki watched Kogasa without a word. Kogasa wagered that was better than before, and kept talking. “Isn’t it the same for you and your heads? It’s disorienting! One eye is enough!”

“You’ve got two,” Sekibanki corrected.

“Excuse me, I’m a one-eyed youk—”

“Oi.”

“I’m sorry.” Kogasa removed her fingertips from her breast and let the smug look on her face fall away, sweating now. Sekibanki ran her fingers through her hair and scratched a touch roughly for a few seconds, eyes closed. With a grip of red, she aimed those eyes on Kogasa again.

“Yeah,” she said, “that’s how it works for me too. But if you drop one of my heads or attack it, I feel that no matter what.” She crossed her arms. “Same with you, right? And I don’t need you dropping and banging up my heads with your umbrella in practice.”

The tsukumogami made a fist and exhaled sharply, a glint sparking off in her eye. This was it: her chance. “But that’s the thing, Miss Sekibanki! If you’re really the same as me, can’t you control your other parts without ‘living’ through them as well?”

The Dullahan’s gaze narrowed. She understood. Dragging the words out of her gullet, she revealed as a question: “... You want to use me as a crutch?”

“You’ve got it!” Kogasa cried with a bounce, winking and sticking out her tongue just after.

“Don’t ‘You’ve got it!’ me,” replied the rokurokubi, mirroring Kogasa’s expression with none of the enthusiasm, her tongue poking from her lips lazily and her brow pushed down rather low. She sighed, lowered her shoulders, and closed her eyes. In an exasperated voice she told her guest, “Okay, fine, I get it. I’m annoyed but I get it.”

It was a simple enough idea. If her head was about to drop off the umbrella, Sekibanki could recall it before it fell, adjust its movements, float it off the thing entirely, or even tell the juggler what was off about the current attempt... should she dare venture and connect her conscious to the remote head in play. Adjusting the degree to which sensations were shared (aside from the sensation of outright pain) was as natural as breathing to several-“bodied” youkai of their sort. Still, it wasn’t anyone’s first thought to think to juggle with separate limbs, skulls, bodies, or faces... That and if Sekibanki were to help, she’d definitely need to be an active participant rather than a passive observer. Otherwise, this dull-headed tsukumogami could start outright abusing her without even thinking about it.

Regardless, said dull-headed tool youkai was now sure of it: Sekibanki was ready to accept. It was hard for her to not speak up with a “So!?” while the moody youkai before her mulled over the proposal. Waiting with rain’s drumming to a persistent, arrhythmic beat in the background, Kogasa began to hear her own heart joining as bass to the falling skies.

“Even if...” Sekibanki started after what seemed like several minutes, making the umbrella perk up, “I said ‘yes’ to that one thing, remember that you just asked for two.” She glared at Kogasa, “What gave you the idea that I was nice?”

“A-ah, well...”

She had to admit: she’d just kind of been hoping that Sekibanki simply... wouldn’t mind! She wasn’t being realistic, and had tackled this proposal mostly expecting to fail.

Sekibanki threw an arm out forward, casting her cape out dramatically behind her as she declared (once more speaking in a deep voice), “We’ll settle this the Gensokyo way...!”

Kogasa swallowed, a bead of sweat running down her cheek.

“If you can beat me, you’ll get those services you want, Tatara Kogasa...! But if you don’t...” the girl’s tone turned exceedingly dark (darker than Kogasa had even thought possible), her cape waving slightly with her energy, a pair of eyes peeking out from behind her back, “I’ll choose.”

The tsukumogami gripped her skirt.

No... I’m bad at fighting...

She gulped again, and nodded once. She’d do her best, and with luck she’d settle it with that spell card:


[] The one she’d made after remembering the railroad.

[] The one with the heavy gusts of wind.

[] The one where she kicked.
>> No. 41943
[X] The one where she kicked.

Time for a rousing game of Touhou Soccer, using Seki's heads as balls.
>> No. 41945
[x] The one where she kicked.
>> No. 41947
[x] The one where she kicked.

I wonder if there will ever be a Touhou Soccer 3?
>> No. 41948
Oh fuck I didn't see the tie.
that's amazing.

Raspberry bullying the Taoist story.

I don't remember any of Kogasa's spell cards so I'll go with the one I like the sound of the best:

[X] The one she’d made after remembering the railroad.

Choo choo motherfuckers. And shouldn't we take this outside? Don't want to mess up the inside of her house. I guess Sekibanki wouldn't want to do it right in front of the village though, might mess with her cover. Or maybe not, depending on how danmaku heavy this Gensokyo interpretation is.
>> No. 41949
[X] The one she’d made after remembering the railroad.

This is great, just caught up on this after finishing with your previous quest w/ Joon.
>> No. 41988
[X] The one where she kicked.

Ah yes kicking. She'll never expect it! I mean, it worked for an insect so it'll work for an umbrella right?
>> No. 41991
File 155478494818.png - (311.22KB, 566x800, smug v ashamed.png) [iqdb]
41991
[X] The one where she kicked.


= = = = =

It didn’t work.

In the midst of rain, near to the bamboo forest, the two weakling youkai had a duel of spell cards. The tsukumogami had hoped the rain, and her opponent’s lack of cover from it, would give her some advantage. The effect had been negligible really. Perhaps if she’d used “Surprising Rain” to really confuse the field; maybe then she would have won.

She used “One-Legged Return Hit”. Now, on her knees and under her umbrella-half, the rokurokubi floated before her telling her plainly why that had been a bad move.

“Not pretty, not flashy, not much of anything;” she explained, her arms crossed beneath her capelet, “you just shot bullets in simple, childish circles like a child flailing around with a hose, kicking out a separate barrage here and there. Always an easy to dodge, obvious to expect, embarrassing barrage.” She sighed, pulling water from a portion of her bangs, then looking at the resulting beads just before they were lost to the incessancy of raindrops. “It got a bit tougher when you kicked a few extra times,” she admitted, “but really I almost feel bad for you.”

Sekibanki had used something she called “Glinting Eyes ‘Trauma’s Ray’”, a modification of a card she’d used against the infamous amanojaku that had been rampaging some years ago. In retrospect, Kogasa realized that the card was a simple trick. In a way, Sekibanki had given her a lesson on surprising: if something seems very dangerous, mainly by being sudden and overwhelming, even if it’s actually easy to see through you’re likely to panic. She panicked at least.

The rokurokubi told her that there were two very easy ways to avoid her card’s barrage. One was to simply go behind her, turning around back, and then forth.

The other was to stand still.

Sekibanki shook her head. “Whatever,” she grumbled, “I still want your help so...”

She reached into her cloak, and produced a copper four mon coin. Kogasa looked up, trying to stifle self-pity from showing on her face.

“Heads, the characters, I’ll grant you my one of my heads for practice. Tails, the waves, I’ll give you scaring tips.”

She held the coin between her fingers, now barraged by rain.

“Right. Here I go.”

And go she did.

Coin flip: tails!


\ \ \ \ \


Marisa slapped her hand down on the kitchen table, delivering to the shrine maiden across from her a bold announcement:

“Alright! The first strategy meeting of the ‘Seduce Tatara Kogasa’ team starts now!”

“Shut up!”

Reimu sat with her fists closed over her thighs and her face terribly red. Although she’d enjoyed the teasing and bullying session that she’d had with her witch friend earlier, the time after had been spent explaining the situation.

It was excruciating.

Marisa was loving every moment.

“Maaan,” she drew out with a smile on her face, closing her eyes and raising the palm of her free hand in a casual gesture, “but you’re really way too fond of tools, ain’t ya Reimu?”

Reimu made a noise of frustration, squirming in her seat.

“I guess the more useful a youkai is, the better you feel about ‘em?” Marisa continued, shrugging one shoulder. “Guess that explains Suika...”

“Come on! Move past this already!” Reimu begged. Marisa acquiesced as if the aside had never happened.

“Right, so it’s Kogasa you’re interested in.”

“I guess!” Reimu snapped, almost like the words were a denial.

Marisa took a roll of paper from the floor and unfurled it on her kitchen table, keeping it in place with a bottle, her mini-Hakkero, another bottle, and a spatula. She produced a pen from thin air and leaned over the scroll. “So what do you like about her?” she asked.

“‘What’... I mean, I barely get why I like her in the first place...” her guest replied, a flutter obvious in her voice.

“It’s her eyes, isn’t it?” Marisa wagered, looking sly at her friends.

“Her eyes!?” the shrine maiden exclaimed, jolting in her chair.

Marisa frowned in some confusion. “What? Not into heterochromia?”

“If anything it’d be her hair—!” Reimu stopped herself after bursting this out, covering her mouth with both hands and feeling the heat of her own face.

Marisa wrote that down. “‘Beautiful... sky blue... hair...’ ‘Lright! what else?” she finished, meeting Reimu’s eyes again. Reimu began to growl.

“Marisaaaa...” she said from behind her hands.

“What? Listen, Reimu, if you’re going to capture her heart at some point you’re gonna have ta tell her why you want her heart in the first place.”

Reimu’s posture sank. “Why do you think I want her...? Can’t I just wait until I forget about all this?”

Marisa put on a stark, irritated face. “Reimu, that’s too pathetic,” she said. “Capture your love! Where’s your sense a’ romance!?”

“I’ve got one!” she insisted. “I’ve got one, but why do I have to try to get her!?”

“... How about this?” the magician began, bringing the conversation’s level low. “If I say ‘Kogasa’, what do you think?”

“Cute...” Reimu responded, gaze cast down. “Nice... Really sweet.”

Marisa silently committed these thoughts to record. Her eyebrow twitched. “... Why ‘nice’? Because she helped you out yesterday?”

“That’s not it... I mean, it is, but it isn’t just that. She’s...” Reimu hesitated, then looked at Marisa who was looking at her. “You know how after she gave me those new needles the first time? I exterminated her instead of paying first?”

“Yeah, I remember. Cruel as ever Reimu.”

“Thing is, she still came back the year after that. And after that. She keeps making sure I’m either taking care of my needles or if I need new ones, even after I beat her up...” She went quiet for a moment. “... I beat her up before then, even, and she still came around. I was thinking, I never even said ‘sorry’ about that, but she still shows up, and not to bother me like most of them.”

“Youkai, you mean?”

“Yeah.” Reimu nodded, looking down again. “She’s nicer even than most tsukumogami, right? This morning, I remembered she was in some issues of Bunbunmaru and I looked it up, and even though she’s still really dumb she keeps trying to help humans.” She frowned, then met Marisa’s eyes and seriously asked. “Isn’t she a really good girl?”

“Well, I guess,” answered Marisa, still writing. “She scares people in the Myouren graveyard though.”

“That’s what youkai are supposed to do,” answered Reimu, still looking serious. “It feels like she’s doing everything she can do, even if she’s not successful...”

Kinda like me.

“Kinda like you, huh,” Marisa kept making notes, not looking at Reimu who was blushing again. “But, she definitely does more than you do! You’d sleep on the porch in the sun all day if it somehow meant you wouldn’t be going hungry in the next month! Heck, you do that already, even without any food!”

Reimu felt embarrassed.

But truthfully, she did have to admit that on closer inspection Kogasa was almost admirable. Given she could parallel herself with the umbrella, with how she tried to run a successful shrine to survive and Kogasa tried to be helpful to survive, she felt like she could perhaps connect very well with the tsukumogami. Maybe they could even help one another... She’d helped and been helped by a tsukumogami before – Hata no Kokoro – and that had inarguably been her best venture yet. She had to admit, however, that success in life wasn’t her intention. She could imagine speaking with Kogasa over struggling to survive, over ideas to keep going, and she thought that would be nice... She touched her lips, and felt warmth in her eyes. Something heavy defied gravity inside her, rolling up through her heart and into her throat.

The witch was right. She wanted to be with Kogasa as well. She didn’t want to let the feelings fade.

But, in realizing that, at the side of her mind arose something quiet, but massive and awful. Something impossible to deny:

The truth of how unadmirable Hakurei Reimu was.

Her shoulders lowered, and her disposition clearly as well. Marisa didn’t fail to notice. “What’s the matter now?” She waited a moment for a response. When none came, she ventured a guess, “Lemme guess: you just noticed how much of a catch you aren’t.”

Reimu now began to slouch.

Marisa thought to herself, But, well, don’t the two of you have failure in common? And the way you go about it’s the same way too; all gung-ho even if you’ve got no reason to be. Maybe she doesn’t really get it... but I shouldn’t say.

The golden-haired friend decided: That’s something she should figure out herself...!

She wrote something down with flair: a little plan of action for her shrine maiden pal’s path to conquest. The goal would be a youkai maiden’s heart, and the first step would be


[] to meet that maiden again directly.

[] to invite that maiden over under the pretext of business.

[] to hold a party at the shrine, where that maiden would surely appear again.
>> No. 41992
File 155478998268.jpg - (457.88KB, 1113x1600, Night_Sparrow_in_Love_007[1].jpg) [iqdb]
41992
[X] to meet that maiden again directly.

Party's no good — too many people. Staggeringly drunk revelry is not a good atmosphere, and it'd be kind of embarrassing to even think about maiden-capturing in the presence of so many friends and acquaintances. I don't think inviting Kogasa over under the pretext of business is good either, Raymoo doesn't have enough dosh to pull a Mystia and really doesn't seem like she can lie at all.
>> No. 41993
[X] to meet that maiden again directly.

Not only does this feel like it has the best chance of succeding, the direct approach also feels like something Marisa would suggest.
>> No. 41994
[X] to meet that maiden again directly
>> No. 41995
[x] to invite that maiden over under the pretext of business.

Given Reimu's current state of mind, getting her to go the direct route could be more trouble than it's worth.
>> No. 42000
[X] to invite that maiden over under the pretext of business.

>>41993
Then again, Marisa is also a serial liar.
>> No. 42001
[x] to meet that maiden again directly.
>> No. 42006
[X] to meet that maiden again directly.
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