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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).
Expand all images
>> No. 41061
File 154043415898.jpg - (200.10KB, 500x700, clear skies.jpg) [iqdb]
41061
++++++++

It wasn’t bad.

The Shrine’s falling apart.

There are mice in the shed.

I didn’t get any donations yesterday.

But, it’s not bad.


Beyond cyclical, the days felt completely repetitious, like carbon paper had been pressed down on “yesterday”, and the marks from “yesterday’s” events went on to make “today”. Endless, identical sheets were pulled one after the other, creating another day of sweeping, another day of Marisa’s visits, another day of... whatever.

That was peace, and that was fine.

She was one to complain, but never about the way things should be. Keeping that way was her job, and that was how she lived, did everything. Peace was always better than the alternative. She was sure of that, and never even considered otherwise. Unthinking, unchanging, Eternal—

“Reimu,” a voice came from above.

“Ah, Marisa,” was her response.

“The heck you doin’?” spoke her friend in an accusatory tone. “I had a feelin’ you’d mess up, but have you even looked at the sky? Go on, look.”

She looked.

The sky was a cotton field: soaked, by the color of it. Hakurei Reimu was sitting on her deck under heavens that were ready to rain. Marisa had her blond hair bunched up into the hood of a kappa’s turquoise raincoat, and her golden eyes were scrutinizing the brunette shrine maiden. “Well?” she said. “Go bring in your laundry!”

Oh right, I was doing that today.

She put her chin in her palm and gave the magician on the broom above her a simple smile. “Help me out?” she asked.

“Tch...” Marisa looked away and groaned, but promptly landed and put her broom aside, running for the back of the shrine. And as she went, the shrine maiden beamed at her openly. This was also usual.


Clip... Clip...

And damp clothing folding over.

There were a few sounds of light water tap tapping at the shingles of the old roof, but the weather had yet to break. Reimu lackadaisically brought her skirts and bloomers to clotheslines inside, while Marisa quickly brought sleeves and shirts. “Ah—!” the red and white girl suddenly gasped with her hand on a clothespin. She looked at a confused Marisa and told her apologetically, “I’ve got to go buy rice. The mice got into my storage again.”

Marisa ground her teeth and grimaced, “C’mooon... What happened to the cat statue I got you?”

“Well the rat problem was over by the time gave me it, and after a while I figured it didn’t really work and just gave mine to Rinnosuke,” she explained.

Marisa’s expression soured further as she thought, It does work, though.

But Reimu probably wouldn’t have that, especially if she knew who... or rather what had made it.

That Reisen’s turned over leaf after leaf since she started comin’ to the Village, Marisa thought over as Reimu finished putting up the clothes she had in her hands. But “youkai” means Reimu ain’t gonna like the sound of it at all. Too bad for her, not that I’m sure they’re even still sellin’ ‘em through Eientei.

Reimu began to float.

“Oi, where are you going?” Marisa asked, stopping her work.

“I just said! Finish up for me, okay?” the shrine maiden replied, and she was off.

“Hey!” Marisa yelled in vain. Once her friend had disappeared into the distance, she huffed a short sigh, and continued nonetheless.

= = = = =

It was too little too late. Worse: she’d made a bet and lost.

Rain poured like it wanted to drown: looking out ahead made one’s vision shimmer and the constant noise of falling water on the awning of a tailor’s shop she’d stopped under was a bit incredible—not overwhelming or even particularly loud, just steadfastly consistent. Unless she wanted a cold, she was pretty solidly stuck for now. As for the bet—she’d bought a particularly large bale of rice that could only reliably be carried over her shoulder. There had been a deal at the seller’s, so... So basically, even had she thought ahead a little about this trip, her impulse would have rendered her planning moot anyway.

So she leaned against a wooden pillar, right calf crossed above the left, and both arms crossed over each other. The bound straw cylinder sat beside her and out of moisture’s way. Behind her, the tailor eyed her warily. Calm down, I’m obviously not here for work, she thought to herself.

She thought about her reputation then, and stared up at the sky as if she were staring it down.

“Hmph,” she puffed. Some frogs croaking, some humans murmuring, water... running... As she waited in the ambience of rain, some odder sounds – ton... ton... – alerted her to pay attention to what was over her head. Either the sky was raining a few stones now, or there was someone stepping on the awning. She heard a throat clearing.

“Eh, hehhehHEM! ... Phew, okay. Ahem!” Reimu looked up, and an eyebrow of hers went up as well.

“Excuse meee, Miss Shrine Maiden...!” said the voice. Reimu continued to look up, awaiting. The roofing made a bit more noise, and she saw what looked to be a small bucket’s worth of rainwater fall to the left. Two eyes in opposite colors met hers upside down, peeking over the awning, and a cheerful face fully revealed itself in a moment, tongue out. The “karakasa obake”, Tatara Kogasa, then shouted, “Be surprised~!”

It was as if the blue-shaded girl had tried to get a rise out of a wall. Reimu did nothing for several seconds, only eventually delivering a little mercy in the words, “You, huh.”

The girl’s mood came to match her dominant color, and she floated down from the structure with a drooping face to match it, her unstylish umbrella “half” above her head in all its plum inglory. Despite the weather, Kogasa herself looked bright. Though she’d heard the tsukumogami had designed herself to be “frightening”, she had ended up often dressing in a shirt and dress that brought to mind open almost cloudless skies so... failure. Her hair, too, was always bouncing and light. She stepped next to Reimu and put her umbrella aside, closing it and shaking it lightly. Her butt pushed into the shrine maiden’s hip as she did so, and Reimu frowned at the contact.

Once finished, the somewhat shorter youkai stood next to her and sulked.

“... Did you just come to bug me and hang around? I don’t think that ‘one time of the year’ you can deal with me’s arrived yet, right?” Reimu asked. “Besides, I’ve actually been taking good care of my needles, thank you very much.”

Kogasa sighed, and looked at Reimu somewhat sheepishly. “Oh, no,” she answered. She tugged gently at her bangs and decided to explain, “I just noticed you while I was playing in the rain and thought I could give you a hand.”

“With what?” asked Reimu at once.

“Oh...” the tsukumogami’s shoulders dropped as her mood sank instantly. Still, she managed a feeble voice to say, “Well, I’m an umbrella, so...”

Reimu cocked an eyebrow, and then her head. One could easily picture a question mark appearing over her distinctive bow with the expression.

Kogasa seemed to gather her courage, her grip on the handle of her umbrella-half increasing. After breathing in a little while, she lifted her chin (but shut her eyes) and raised her voice in confidence to cry, “I can help you get home without your rice getting wet!”

But she hadn’t raised it much. She’d clearly held back to not cause a disturbance.

“Ah,” Reimu understood, parting her arms so that she could lightly drop a fist into her palm. She extended a finger to point at Kogasa and said, “Right, that’s something you can do.”

“Give me a break!” she whined, her posture sinking even further than before.

“Well, weren’t you a... ‘scary youkai’?” Reimu asked, folding her arms again and relaxing her own posture a little more. “You’re bad at that.”

“Ohh, aw...” was all Kogasa could manage.

“I think I heard about you babysitting before,” the shrine maiden continued, looking out toward the sky, “You were bad at that, too.”

Kogasa moaned and grumbled at her side. Now she looked at the other girl again.

“But you’re good at ‘smithing’, huh? Sorry if I thought that must be your fourth job after failing at ‘sitting’, ‘scaring’, and ‘shielding from rain’.”

“I’ll have you know, I’m a perfectly fine umbrella,” Kogasa plainly spoke. She looked away from Reimu then, and away from the village. Far away, like she was looking at memories instead. In a bit of a dark voice, she muttered, “The only reason nobody used me in the first place was because of my looks, ha ha... snff.”

The human was quick to act. She dropped her left hand onto the youkai’s blue hair and pushed down firmly, yet friendly on her head. “Now, now,” said the shrine maiden, rubbing that hair a little roughly, “that sort of thing doesn’t matter to me. I’ll take your help if you’re pink, purple, or whatever.”

Kogasa lit up at that. She lifted her head, and Reimu lifted her hand. She brought her face close to Reimu’s, her red iris glistening and her blue sparkling. “Really!?” she exclaimed. “Great!”

Reimu blinked, not offering much of an expression in return. Kogasa turned, and Reimu did as well, and as the tsukumogami leaned away from her to get her umbrella open (and bumped Reimu with her butt again while the human was reaching for her rice (making her scowl)), the shrine maiden wondered for a moment if she might have a soft spot for tools. There were a few examples, weren’t there?

“Hah!” the youkai exclaimed, opening the umbrella part of herself out toward the rain and scattering droplets of water. Reimu lifted and secured the bale over her right shoulder with both hands. Then, she flinched. Kogasa had put her arm over the maiden’s back, and was now drawing close, lifting her hand so that it could grab hold of the exposed upper arm. It had gotten cold. The shrine maiden realized that now with the touch of the tsukumogami remedying that.

... That observed—

Reimu flicked her gaze to the tsukumogami, glaring at her, but the tool was too pleased to notice. She was humming a quiet song, and despite herself it had Reimu’s quick turn for a slow retreat. Even when Marisa hugged her without warning, she would respond with a fast punch or a kick. All in all, she hardly knew Kogasa. Until recently, she barely even remembered the youkai’s name.

But unlike with Marisa’s sudden approaches, Kogasa did not mean to tease; she was just happy to help. She was stubborn, but one thing that tended to sway the Hakurei Shrine Maiden was simple, earnest goodwill. It honestly disarmed her, at least momentarily, every time. In this moment, Kogasa swept her up before she could reconsider.

“Stay close, okay?” the umbrella cheerfully advised, and with an objection stopped at her lips they began to fly through the sky.

This wasn’t the norm, not in any capacity.

The helpful girl almost carried her, not letting a single raindrop touch her or her purchase.

The village beneath them had mostly closed due to rain. The forest trees that obscured the path to her shrine were twitching and bending under the pelting and persistent, precipitating skies, and a few lax fairies were sat on braches enjoying their favored weather. She looked to where the Lake would be, and swore through the downpour she could see the glimmer of its surface. Mostly, she listened. She listened to rain falling on and rolling off the cover above her, and she listened to Kogasa discreetly continue her lullaby. Like she realized it had been cold, in Kogasa’s half-embrace she realized too that she had been on edge.

“Are you feeling a little better now?”

The soft whisper beside her brought her out of her thoughts. Kogasa was looking into her eyes, sympathetic.

“Huh?” she grunted, abrasive.

“I thought you looked down...” the youkai revealed almost under her voice, almost worried to admit it. “I thought I might try making you smile, too.”

“Did I look like I was smiling?” she asked rhetorically, but the girl had an answer.

“Oh...” she started, breaking her gaze as her nerves got the better of her, “you... well, you...” ... was all she managed, before fizzling out. Reimu became confused by this, and her face openly showed as much.

Was I smiling? Yeah, right... the shrine maiden thought, but she was only mostly sure.

“... If you ever feel sad,” Kogasa ventured again, “it’s okay to let it be like that for a little while. You might feel bad about it – about just letting it out – but even if people make fun of you, even if it bothers someone, it means you, at least, know what made your heart ache.” The shorter girl continued, and Reimu wasn’t sure to who. “Then you know where your problem is,” she said, “and you can do your best to change it.” She looked out ahead, and gave a smile for the both of them. Something turned within Reimu’s chest, and she decided that little message didn’t sit well with her.

“Haaahhh...” she loosed this rattling sigh, and Kogasa panicked beside her. “Whatever,” she said flatly. Those were words for someone without confidence. They weren’t words for her. “Tell that to yourself,” she suggested. “I’m fine.”

“I... I see...” Kogasa answered sadly. Reimu told herself again, Whatever.

They moved over the canopy of woods that covered the dilapidate shrine stairway, the red torii gate looking almost gray in the distance from the rain. It had become silent between them, so when a sparrow flew out, sudden, from a hidden nest, Kogasa yelped and flinched, letting her human charge go for a moment. In that moment, Reimu took her left hand from her rice, and calmly (but firmly) secured the girl with a hold on her left shoulder. Kogasa looked into her face in surprise, but Reimu simply looked toward the gate, moving them along to their nearing destination. Still, her expression shifted a little. She felt in touching the youkai’s sleeve just how thoroughly wet it had gotten. She glanced down past the girl’s relieved face to see that water ran down the left of her skirt as well.

Not long after, they had made it to her porch without speaking another word.

As Reimu put down her new supplies and checked her clothing for any wetness (finding, everywhere, none), she felt Kogasa – who was sitting behind her and kicking her barefoot geta in the puddles beneath the veranda – stealing glances at her over and over. Eventually the human had enough, and breathily snapped, “What?”, while looking behind herself.

“Are you sure you’re okay?”

Her voice was full of concern, and her eyebrows were bent to reflect that. Reimu looked back inside, but wasn’t sure why she didn’t want the youkai seeing her face. “I am the Hakurei Shrine Maiden,” she plainly declared, speaking into her breast, “I silence crying children, I don’t cry myself. Eternal,” she explained, looking over her shoulder just slightly, “that’s what I a—”

Kogasa put her arms over the Eternal Maiden’s stomach, held her strongly, and pulled the human’s back into her chest and face. Reimu froze, noting the girl’s breath through her clothing. Kogasa felt like she didn’t want to let go, and did want Reimu to know that much through her touch. The Hakurei Shrine Maiden... was not sure.

The youkai spoke.

“Um, thanks for letting me help you...” she told with warmth. Reimu found herself silent. “I hope that what you say... can really be true.” She pushed away from Reimu, and the human finally looked down to see her fully. To see a small bead of water falling from one of her sky blue locks, and the half-discolored clothing she was wearing. She must’ve put her neck out under the rain a little while before. Kogasa reached up, and let her hand fall on Reimu’s head, gentle and cautious in her gesture. She glowed a little, crouched on her feet with her knees up, and while pulling her hand away gave the human’s hair a simple, reassuring caress; sliding past her ear and gliding over her cheek. She then pulled away a little suddenly, her eyebrows lifting and her fingers curling in.

“Oh,” she mused, cocking her head to the side and grinning brightly, “I surprised you!”

Her face felt hot.

“Use me any time!” the tsukumogami bid, and waved as she hopped away, pulled up her umbrella, and took to the sky.

Ah...

Reimu put a hand over her chest, feeling it thmp... thmp... She breathed a shaking sigh again, but this time she hadn’t wished for it to waver. H-Huh...?

Intuition told her nothing.

But, she was warm all over, and not at all unhappy.


/ / / / /

K

[] See the bookstore girl again. Plenty of reference material!

[] See the half-youkai teacher for advice again.

[] Try to find the youkai who lives in the village again. She’s always hiding...


R

[] Get checked for a fever.

[] Ask Marisa if anything’s been going on in the village.

[] Close down the shrine and forbid visitors for a while.
>> No. 41062
kogasa a cute

[X] See the bookstore girl again. Plenty of reference material!

[X] Ask Marisa if anything’s been going on in the village.
>> No. 41063
I'm guessing we don't have to choose between one set of choices or the other, so:

[x] See the bookstore girl again. Plenty of reference material!
[x] Ask Marisa if anything’s been going on in the village.
>> No. 41064
Son of a bitch. Looks like I'm out of a job.

Gotta keep shipping that KogaBanki though!

[x] Try to find the youkai who lives in the village again. She’s always hiding...
[x] Ask Marisa if anything’s been going on in the village.
>> No. 41065
[x] See the bookstore girl again. Plenty of reference material!
[x] Ask Marisa if anything’s been going on in the village.

>>41064
Don't worry, I'll still read whatever you write. I'll even do you a favor and vote against all your attempts to ship KogaBanki here so that you'll still have a monopoly on that.
>> No. 41066
File 154046113374.png - (776.76KB, 1564x1278, #1 monopoly strategy.png) [iqdb]
41066
>>41065
> I'll even do you a favor and vote against all your attempts to ship KogaBanki here so that you'll still have a monopoly on that.

FFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFF-
>> No. 41067
[X] See the bookstore girl again. Plenty of reference material!
[X] Get checked for a fever.
>> No. 41068
[] See the bookstore girl again. Plenty of reference material!
[] Ask Marisa if anything’s been going on in the village.
>> No. 41069
[x] Try to find the youkai who lives in the village again. She’s always hiding...


[x] Ask Marisa if anything’s been going on in the village.
>> No. 41070
[X] See the bookstore girl again. Plenty of reference material!
[X] Get checked for a fever.

Just inject this directly into my veins tia
>> No. 41071
[x] Try to find the youkai who lives in the village again. She’s always hiding...
[x] Get checked for a fever.

You have my attention.
>> No. 41072
[X] See the bookstore girl again. Plenty of reference material!

[X] Ask Marisa if anything’s been going on in the village.

Can't say no to more brelly action.
>> No. 41074
[X] See the bookstore girl again. Plenty of reference material!
[X] Get checked for a fever.

Time to cockblock all ships.
>> No. 41075
File 154078079256.gif - (1.17MB, 888x726, the book renter.gif) [iqdb]
41075
K

[X] See the bookstore girl again. Plenty of reference material!


Time’s as capricious as time is cruel.

With a propensity for ill fortune, this philosophy – and, dispassionately, this reality – shaped the past and drove the present of a very melancholic umbrella.

In an effort to gaze ahead with a positive outlook, this was why Tatara Kogasa titled herself “Cheery”.

If the times change, you have to change too.

She told herself this constantly. That was what it meant to be a modern tsukumogami.

“I wonder if they’re closed for the rain...” she mumbled absently. She’d left the Shrine a minute ago, and was now heading back to the village to look for some books.

In the first place, she’d been in the village to go to the bookstore. She’d only been distracted by the turn of the skies, and a little after by the presence of the Shrine Maiden. It was an entirely worthwhile pair of distractions in the end: she’d helped someone, and surprised them as well. She wouldn’t go hungry again for quite a while.

But that was no cause for relaxation! If anything, now was the opportunity to get a leg up on things she could do!

If they’re not closed the umbrella thought to herself I hope they’re taking care of the books okay, what with all this moisture in the air.

She dropped before Suzunaan and stood at attention, ready to burst in.

... Instead she slowly ducked in, backwards, shaking off her purple half as she pushed through the cloth doorway of the entrance. A bell rang, and she heard a young voice calling, “Welcome~.”

Kogasa looked to her left, and then to her right, seeing at both her sides there were large and open sacks of rice. She glowed at the sight; rice did well to dry a room. She turned around promptly, shutting the more obvious “tool” part of herself and standing with it before her, used as a cane. She gladly replied, “Hello! I’ve come again!”

Behind a desk which was piled with papers and books and adorned with a brass-horn phonograph, the little librarian and little bell, Motoori Kosuzu, delivered to her customer an openhearted smile. “Miss Kogasa, are you looking for foreign books again?”

“Yeah, yeah!” she yelled, walking further in and lifting her hand with gusto. Motoori Kosuzu, the red-haired, bespectacled and bebelled librarian, chuckled lightly in amusement. “Good job keeping your library dry!” Kogasa complimented.

“Some of the books here are alive already; I wouldn’t want them angry,” Kosuzu explained, looking up at the tsukumogami and putting down a magazine as she neared. “That, and in the first place wet books mean damaged goods, and that’s bad for business.”

Kogasa presented an open palm and told her, “And if they ever become tsukumogami, they’ll get really mad at you.”

The librarian nodded. “That’s right,” she said, “and that’s why I can’t lend out any books today; not until the weather’s cleared.”

Kogasa’s smile stiffened on her face. Then, she reacted.

“Wh-What!?” she exclaimed, drawing back in shock. “b-but I can keep them dry, though!”

“If you want to take a book out of here, it’s store policy that the only way they’re leaving on rainy days is due to purchase,” Kosuzu explained rather nicely with her eyes shut, calm-faced all the while. She looked into Kogasa’s mismatched eyes again, asking, “Have you got the cash for that?”

The youkai’s shoulders dropped. She replied, “Well, I guess I do, but...” she grumbled a bit “... lending’s cheaper...”

The junior proprietor only smiled. Kogasa looked at her in despair. They held this uneven gaze for almost half a minute before the glasses-girl let go an involuntary laugh. Kogasa blinked, confused. “Don’t worry, Miss Youkai,” said the librarian after her tittering had stopped, “store policy is that we can’t lend out, but if you’d like to just read in the store, then prices are the same.”

She raised her eyebrows, then sighed with deep relief, “Oh, okay... hahh...”

And Kosuzu giggled again.

Recently, the little girl had become more open to interactions with youkai, but that being said she feared them very easily. Kogasa, however, had long been an exception to this. No matter how she tried, Kosuzu treated her the same as she would any human customer, and the only reaction she would ever give to scare attempts (if she reacted at all) was laughter. It had been long enough, and Kosuzu’s store useful enough, that the umbrella-girl did not mind it anymore. At least not much.

“Let me go find you a selection of options,” said the human. She stood and rested the needle of her phonograph on a record turning on its base. After a little bit of scratching noise, soon a bouncing viola tune began to lightly decorate the air, pairing nicely with the steady beat of rain on the roof of this home and business. Kogasa began to relax at once, humming along with it. The human tossed her a happy glance, and set to work going through bookshelves.

It was always nice to be able to feel good. Her existence often felt like such triumphs and awards of pleasant moods were things hard-fought to earn. No, that was putting it gently: living was very difficult for her these days. A long time ago she could get by with simply being where no one was expected to be, for just looking inhuman. Now, it had been a long time that her appearance was regularly mocked. Though she accepted a philosophy and ethos of needing to change... this was her appearance. It was what made her conscious at the very start. With it decided and set, it was the one thing she would never, ever give up on; no matter what.

One day she would find herself useful to a pair of human hands. Until then, she had to enjoy these quiet and kind moments as fully as she could.

In a little time, the girl returned and gestured Kogasa over to a red and fanciful couch that was off to the side.

“Three things,” Kosuzu said as Kogasa sat down with her umbrella across her lap. The renter held three written works like one might hold a trio of cards, albeit a bit awkwardly in her hands. “This one is a fact book about terrifying deaths in outside world fiction, this one is a fashion catalogue, and this one is a book about street performance.”

They were all very different. The fact book was small, black, and emblazoned with striking titling. The fashion thing was what looked like a magazine: it was tall and bright and had a very pretty woman on the cover who was modeling in a white kimono and holding a paper parasol. The last book was a bit larger than the first, and the cover was eye-catching and childlike in how many toys and pictures it displayed.

“So? Which do you want to borrow?” Kosuzu asked.
>> No. 41076
File 154078090152.png - (1.22MB, 1241x1000, shinyuu.png) [iqdb]
41076
\ \ \ \ \


R

[X] Ask Marisa if anything’s been going on in the village.


Reimu marched into her home.

“Marisa!? Marisa!”

“What? What?” her friend answered in an aggravated tone. She found the blond witch on her back porch, sat behind a screen of her drying clothes and soaking wet.

“What happened to your raincoat?” she asked, thoroughly confused by this appearance.

“A raincoat’s not much good when the rain gets in your face and through your hood,” Marisa explained. She pointed down the clothesline, “Wind got real bad. It’s drying over there,” she said. “What, do you need it?”

“No, I was just wondering how you got all wet. Thanks for hanging my clothes up,” she answered.

“Yeah, thank me,” Marisa replied, and she looked out to the rain while tugging at the single braid beside her face.

“Wait, never mind that!” The Hakurei snapped. Marisa flinched and nearly untied the bow of that braid through reflex. “Is something going on in the village!?”

“You were the one just over there, not me,” said her friend, looking over her shoulder.

“I only went for rice, I wasn’t paying attention to anything else,” said Reimu.

“Well there isn’t,” she replied, turning away. Then, she lifted a finger, stating, “Ah! There’s one thing!”

“Really!? What?” Reimu asked.

“It’s raining.”

Reimu stomped over, and shoved her foot into Marisa’s back.

“Whoooaa! Cut it out, jeez!” the black and white witch moaned, having just barely avoided being kicked off of the veranda by clinging to a pillar. “What’s the matter with you!?”

“That’s what I’m trying to figure out!” she shouted, gripping her fists and blushing fiercely. Marisa was confounded.

“What? You get possessed or something?”

“I don’t know!” After shouting again, she sighed deeply. What on Earth was that? She can’t have cast a spell on me, she doesn’t have that kind of skill.

But then... why am I thinking about how cute she is!? I can’t stop!


“Aaaagh!” growled the maiden with her hands now on her head. Marisa looked on with greater concern.

“Wouldn’t be the first time something screwed you up. What happened exactly? How’re you feelin’?”

“I—” she paused, letting go of her hair for a second, “I’m just feeling... weird!”

“Outta nowhere?”

“... Y-Yes,” she said with hesitation, not meeting Marisa’s eyes.

She’s lyin’...! Don’t see that every day! thought the magician, her eyebrows raised in appreciation of the rarity. She folded her arms, and leaned her body a bit to the side. “Well, alright, then I guess you’ve gotta look into it.”

“Like, just explore the village? I just said I didn’t notice anything there before,” Reimu answered.

“Nah, I don’t think it’s an Incident. Man, your intuition can’t even tell you that? You’ve been off lately, but that’s somethin’ else,” the blond commented, resting against the same wooden column that had saved her earlier. Reimu had no response to that. “Go check Suzunaan or Kasen’s place, maybe you can figure out what the problem is from a Demon Book or from that hermit. She’s gotten you outta your dumb binds before.”

“I guess...” Reimu answered. Her thoughts drifted once more, and the fresh memory of Kogasa’s happy face had her touch over her heart again. Aaahh... She winced.

“You could just stay home,” Marisa also suggested, “could be you’re just out of it. I’ll take care of you while you sleep or somethin’.”

“Hmm...” She thought about it.


K

[] The horrible deaths book.

[] The pretty clothes book.

[] The tricks and performance book.


R

[] Go to Suzunaan.

[] Go to see the hermit.

[] Stay home and rest.
>> No. 41077
I give up. You write Kogasa a thousand times better than I ever could.
>> No. 41078
>>41077
Remember - if you write, you lose.

[x] The tricks and performance book.
[x] Stay home and rest.
>> No. 41079
> She can’t have cast a spell on me, she doesn’t have that kind of skill.

Yes she has, and yes she does.

[x] The tricks and performance book.
[x] Go to Suzunaan.
>> No. 41080
[x] The tricks and performance book.

[x] Go to see the hermit.
>> No. 41081
[x] The tricks and performance book.
[x] Go to see the hermit.

Grisly deaths doesn't really sound like something Kogasa could use effectively. Oh, I'm sure she'd think she could use it, being a scary youkai and all, but let's be real. While fashion would be nice for both potentially making Reimu go dokidoki and the stereotypical 'surprise beautification' thing, the tightwad in me is loathe to spend money to borrow a magazine, and that kinda thing doesn't really feel like it matches Kogasa, you know? Street performance stuff, now that feels like it'd be right in Kogasa's bailiwick. I might be a fool for not jumping on the immediate shippy-feeling option though.

As for Reimu, I feel like Kasen's intuitive enough to get what's going on and pass it on to Reimu that she has a crush.
>> No. 41082
[X] The pretty clothes book.
[X] Stay home and rest.

Why go right back out in the rain when you can chill at home with Marisa?
>> No. 41083
[X] The pretty clothes book.
[X] Stay home and rest.

Birthday updates are the best updates.
>> No. 41085
[x] The tricks and performance book.
[x] Go to see the hermit.
>> No. 41086
[x] The pretty clothes book.
[x] Stay home and rest.

I want to see some Kasen but I also want some quiet meditation time. I choose clothes not for shipping but for the slight chance of Kogasa trying an outfit she's not used to.
>> No. 41206
File 154176324695.gif - (2.50MB, 680x440, lying on your back.gif) [iqdb]
41206
>.gif

image sources:
https://danbooru.donmai.us/posts/1882724
https://danbooru.donmai.us/posts/2448928

++++++++

[X] Stay home and rest.


“... Alright,” she eventually relented. “It’s not like me to get worked up like this, anyway.”

“Yeah, go be lazy like normal,” said Marisa, settling down. “‘Up and at ‘em’ doesn’t suit you.”

She punched Marisa in the shoulder.

“Ow!”

“I’m going to try to take a nap,” Reimu announced, folding her arms and turning away from the witch so she could look off toward the sky. “Take care of things, okay?”

“Sure, sure...” her friend replied in a careless voice as she rubbed her shoulder. When the Shrine Maiden began to step toward her bedroom the magician bid her, “Sleep well, okay?”

“Mm,” the brunette grunted, and she went to think things over.


/ / / / /


[X] The tricks and performance book.


“That one, please!” Kogasa declared while pointing. The renter looked at what the umbrella had chosen.

The Street Hand? Sure thing. That will be two hundred en, please.”

The umbrella took a coin purse from her skirt pocket, opening its frog-mouth design and plucking out two coins from it. On an open palm she presented them to Kosuzu, who put the other two books under her arm, adjusted her glasses, and nodded with a smile before taking the payment up. “Alright, as always we appreciate your business. Thank you very much, Miss Kogasa,” Kosuzu told her this in earnest, and handed over the colorful guidebook. Kogasa received it with a bright smile. Once the renter turned from the eager tsukumogami, she kicked off her shoes to just below the couch and put herself snug between the armrest and back, the new rental stuck well in her grasp.

Kosuzu walked away to return the unborrowed books to their old places. Once done, she stepped over to the phonograph and put her hand atop the horn, adjusting the angle with swift and remembered movement. This let the sound be better carried, and knowing by touch and ear that she’d changed it perfectly she glided past and went direct into the backrooms of the shop. Kogasa, meanwhile, did not notice.

The record turned to a brassy track that eased her well, especially as the rain above continued to drum. It wasn’t the most appropriate music for what she was reading, however. It was a book full of explanations and illustrations, both engaging for a child and very informative for an adult. She became absorbed for a few minutes reading about performing human magic, and when the section was over realized the librarian had draped her in a warm white blanket and returned to her desk, Smiling at the girl, who was herself at present lost within pages. The human was now so far gone, no word of her thoughts showed on her face. The youkai made a note in mind to thank her later.

She returned to her rental. “Any tricks with umbrellas,,,?”

She turned the pages over, occasionally flipping through several, scanning for her fellow and familiar shape. When that proved fruitless, she closed the tome before her face, turned it over, and opened its back cover to the waiting index.

Ka, ka, ka...” she repeated, in search of kasa. “Ah! It’s here!” she exclaimed, but quietly. She shut the book again.

Peeking at the top corner of each page after guessing where “page 63” was, she carefully made her way to the target subject, and once she had, opened the book with gusto and shining eyes to what instance of “umbrella” she could use in entertainment.

Since the edo period “daikagura”, a Shinto art that had long been almost exclusive to high courts, was something mandated to be brought to the people. It was originally a religious practice—a ritual, a ceremonial dance—but time is indifferent to intention. Once, the “lion dance” had been what the entertainment for the gods (and bane of evil) was best known for. Now, daikagura was almost synonymous with the art of balancing objects atop a spinning umbrella:

Juggling.

“Ohooohh!!” the sedulous and (somewhat posturing) intrepid youkai breathed in great interest, bringing the encyclopedic tome near to her eyes as if this act would boost her absorption of the text. I know about this...!

While the present day residents of Gensokyo might not have recalled the practice and performance, she most certainly did. Outside the Land of Illusions, the Shinto faith was not ever restricted to one shrine (and now two, historically recently), nor was it a faith with a sad reputation. The joyous daikagura was something she’d seen, only once. But, at the time...

... thinking on it, it had made her miserable.

And so the tool’s eyes welled up.

Ah, I can’t... she thought, sniffing, pulling the book away from her face, ... I’ll get the pages wet.

It wasn’t just one thing. She remembered being surrounded by blissful, cheering and awestruck humans, and looking at the priest twirling a handle with quick twists of his hands. The white cup buzzing on top, bouncing happily off of fast-moving ridges. Most clearly, the purple color of the paper parasol.

What was it? Repudiation?

Jealousy?

It was mostly the cold feeling that had draped over her at the time, her rags and hood doing nothing to warm it away: society’s apathy. The reason she was here and not there. It wasn’t even a simple divide that she could step over, compensate for, breach. She was unwanted, completely. It could have been for any reason: spite, dissatisfaction, malice, or carelessness. At that time she realized how much it didn’t matter. It didn’t change the emptying, gloomful fact.

And that had made her... awfully resentful again.

“...”

Kogasa got out of her comfortable spot on the couch and adjusted to sit on her knees, posture straight. She put the guidebook flat and open before her, her hands within her thighs while they were not in use, and with a sober and somber face she studied the text in quiet seriousness, turning the pages when they were done, avoiding the twisted spark of the past that had excited her before. Refusing feeling.

Because it was better like this.

To just be silent, and functional.


\ \ \ \ \


The floor was creaking under the weight of a step. She turned from her side to her back, opening her eyes to the plain, old ceiling over her head. It was vibrating, the rain entirely unkind in its fall.

Marisa... she noted neither positively or negatively. At least the roof isn’t leaking today... She put her hand over her stomach and just breathed.

What’s wrong with me? she thought for the twentieth time. Was I really getting down, and that was it? Am I that weak to a hand on my head?

But in touching her head now, and feeling back where the tsukumogami had graced her ear and face before; in blushing at the thought; in her heart’s pace picking up without her control, she knew that she was.

... Maybe I should get Marisa to pat my head, just in case. Like, to check... she thought, feeling aggravation, ... if it’s just her.

Reimu twirled her hair.

She plain and simple wasn’t used to being put on the back foot, and so was easily flustered whenever she had the rug pulled out from under that foot as well. When her friend had yelled at her for ignoring the last incident, when the gap youkai had led her around during the crisis at Suzunaan...

... and now when the umbrella had exposed a weak part of her.

She shut her eyes, brow somewhat furrowed.

She didn’t like to think things over, but she thought on things now.

Why she grumbled about a lack of donations.

Why she became furious when disrespected.

Was there something to it at all? More than simple reaction?

... Probably.

Like those fairies now living behind her. Long after they’d moved in, they suddenly threw her a challenge and had a duel.

What did it mean that after trampling them underfoot, after chastising them for their aspirations to get close with her, after all her conviction against them...

... she’d offered a bottle of wine?

What did it mean to be Hakurei Reimu?

“... Worthless,” was how she rated the question, already tired of self-congratulatory evaluation. It was all stupid: thinking about it, worrying about it, all of it. It was best to just be Hakurei Reimu, then, now, and always.

Whoever that was.


| | | | |


Time went on.

The rain passed.

She fell asleep.

And the sun rose on another day.


K

[] See the Moriya Shrine about daikagura.
Too dangerous!
[] See Reimu about daikagura.

[] Ask the one pretender youkai in the village to borrow some things to practice.

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


R

[] Time to see the hermit on the mountain.

[] Time to borrow some books.

[] Let’s talk with Marisa, seriously.
>> No. 41210
[X] Ask the Child of Miare about how well known daikagura is in Gensokyo.

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