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File 154110515734.jpg - (217.31KB, 800x1250, Lil cutie.jpg) [iqdb]
41087 No. 41087
“Despite how it looks, it’ll be easy to fix.” The young man takes a few steps back from the broken door. “Though I’ll recommend we get you a new one entirely.”

“I’m not sure we can afford it.” The teacher shakes her head. “Our budget is tight as it is, and we have to save up for winter too.”

“Forget about it.” He dismissively waves her concern away. “Regardless of what I do, I charge a standard service fee, which you’ve already agreed to pay.” Reaching into his vest, he pulls out a vial with a thick brown liquid in it. “If I take this broken door as compensation, I’ll be able to replace all other costs for making you a new door.”

“I know you run your business in an unusual way,” the teacher folds her arms, “but what exactly can you use a broken door for?”

The young artisan looks at her for a second, puzzled by her words. “Oh right, you’ve never actually seen me work.” Placing the vial on the table, he frees up his hands to cracks his knuckles. “How many years have you been my customer now, Keine? Doesn’t matter, you’re going to be in for a treat.”

Holding his hand over the vial, it starts to float. As he drags it through the air into the more open space, the cork sealing the liquid inside is popped off. Drawing his other hand away, a few drops of the brown liquid follows the motion out of the glass container.

With the vial now suspended in the air he claps his hands around the droplets. As he draws them apart again, hardwood fills the space.

Using careful movements, he guides the growth of the tree granting it the rough shape of a door. As a final touch, he flattens it before it solidifies.

“I’ll admit, doors aren’t that exciting to create. Not compared to some of the other requests I get, but this one turned out nicely.” He places his hands on his hips, admiring his own handiwork. “Though it’s not done. We still have to install the handle and the hinges.”

“What was it called that skill again?” The teacher inspects the newly grown door.

“Alchemy.” He puffs out his chest. “A rare skill passed from one master to one student.”

“Alchemy?” She thinks a bit. “It might not be a rare a skill as you think. See, I used to know this other alchemist, though his methods were quite different to yours.” The teacher holds her own hand. “Sadly he got spirited away by a winter spirit a few years back.”

“Really? How could I have missed that?” The artisan grabs the still floating vial and corks it back up before stuffing it back into his vest. “I try to keep an eye for alchemists. You know, looking for a new master, and all that.” He taps the hammer hanging by his waist.

“I can’t say I understand.” The werebeast admits. “But each youkai has its own things to worry about.”

“That we do.” He pulls out a vial of silver liquid, drawing out a single droplet in a similar fashion as last time. “Now please stand back.”

Placing a hand on each side of the new door, the alchemist drills the metallic liquid inside the wood, carefully shaping the locking mechanism. Through his skill, he can observe the matter his transmutes at all times, though not directly.

The teacher takes a silent sip of the tea she prepared. She expected this whole replacement to have taken a fair bit more time and didn’t expect to see the finished result mere minutes after she’d made the request. Instead she just enjoys her time, watching the alchemist do his work.

“And done.” He declares, pulling the handle a few times to make sure it works. “I’ll need a little help keeping it in place when I mount the hinges.”

“Oh, right, sure.” Keine places her cup on the table, running over to help.

The two of them move the door into the frame where it fits like a glove. Almost like it was made for for it.

“Now just hold it in place as I fasten it.”

One again, the alchemist pulls out the silver liquid. This time he fashions a couple of screws.

Through some gestures, he commands the screws to drill into the door, securing it.

“And done.” He declares, taking a few steps back.

“Already?” Keins asks, still surprised by the speed despite having seen it a few times already.

“Already.” He confirms. “Installation came as a free service, so don’t worry about that. I’ll take the broken door, and you can just come and pay whenever you have the money.”

“People are going to get suspicious if you keep offering them deals like that.” Keine cautions the alchemist.

“I’m only offering you deals like this because you already know I’m a youkai.” He states. “Though I don’t even need money, I have to charge a prize to keep up appearance. And I have to charge enough to not out-compete other artisans too. I doubt you’d tell on me, so I can relax this pretense here.”

“Even so.” She continues to argue.

“I’m several centuries old, Keine. I was here when Gensokyo was founded. I know how to handle myself. That said, I appreciate the concern.”

The alchemist steps over the two destroyed door. Placing a hand on a fragment, it first turns to liquid before compressing in size until it barely takes up the space of a droplet. As he picks up the other fragments, they too turn to liquid and join the droplet. Once done, he uncorks the brown vial and let the new drops flow into it before sealing it up again.

“Perfect.” He states. “As said, you can just come pay when you have the money. I’m not in a hurry to get it, so take your time.”

“Mm.” The teacher nods. “I appreciate you taking such a rush order.”

“No problem. My schedule happened to be free today.” He waves away her concern. “Then I think I’ll just get going.”

“Yeah, sure.” Keine holds open the new door. “Be sure to tell Kogasa I said hi.”

“Will do.” The alchemist raise his hand as he leaves.

==========

“I’m back.” The alchemist shout as he opens the door to his own shop. To his surprise, though, there’s a customer sitting by the counter waiting. “Youmu? I thought I closed the store before I went out.” He says, checking the door once more to be sure.

“It was, Kogasa let me in so I didn’t have to wait outside in the cold.” She spins around on the chair, facing me. “Sorry for the intrusion.”

“Don’t worry about it. I just hope you haven’t waited long.” He says, taking his usual spot behind the cover. “So, what is it this time? Need a new clipper for the trees? Maybe a new rake?”

“No, not this time. Though my clipper could use some proper maintenance now that you mention it.” The half ghost pulls up the wrapped equipment on the table. Unpacking it reveals the longsword Roukanken.

“Didn’t I just apply a new edge to this last week?” He asks, unsheathing the blade. Drawing it from its sheath, the problem becomes quite clear. “Youmu. How did you manage to snap the blade in half?”

“It wasn’t my fault, okay.” The half ghost quickly argues. “The spirits are restless for some reason. They broke the blade when they attacked me.” She curls up a little. “I had to defend myself.”

“I’m not mad, Youmu.” The youkai pinch the bridge of his nose. “Concerned, is the word I’d use. A fine blade like this doesn’t just snap. Especially not after it’s just been strengthened.” He picks up the blade to examine the broken point.

“I couldn’t believe it either!” She exclaims. “I accidentally cut them with Hakurouken as a reaction. Miss Eiki is going to scold me for sure, I just know it.”

Pig iron typically lacks in strength, making it a poor material for weapons. To compensate, blades like katana have been folded a couple of times, to strengthen the core. As a result, they become stiff, unable to distribute the force of impact from other weapons, causing them to be prone to snapping.

Using alchemy to add new material to the blade has allowed this youkai to repair even badly damaged swords. However, in cases like this where the core itself has snapped in two, the blade will need to be reforged to properly patch it up. It can be done with alchemy, of course, but that would destroy the unique enchantment that Roukanken has.

The alchemist walks around the counter to the staircase. “Hey, Kogasa!” He calls out.

Before long, the single eye of the umbrella peeks over the edge.

“You’re home. Great. I need you to reforge Youmu’s sword, if you have the time.” He gestures to the half ghost who hasn’t moved from her spot, though her ghost half has been eagler floating around the store.

The purple umbrella disappears from the stairs, and within a few seconds the blue girl comes jumping down the stairs, already clad in her thick leather apron.

“Just leave it to me.” Kogasa declares as she pulls out her gloves. She picks up the sword shards from the counter and walks into the back room.

[ ] “I’m going back with you, as soon as the sword is done, Youmu. I’ll do what I can to help with the spirits.”
[ ] “I’ll be with you in a moment Kogasa. Let’s finish this sword asap.”

Two small footnotes:
I have zero plans about this story, other than trying to write some lovely Youmu, so write-ins are always welcome, as I have no idea where I’m going.
And this story is for Nanowrimo only. I might do something more with it if I finish my main story. But that's first relevant next decade or so.
Expand all images
>> No. 41088
>>41087
[x] “I’m going back with you, as soon as the sword is done, Youmu. I’ll do what I can to help with the spirits.”

Reforging a broken Roukanken? Interesting opener.
>> No. 41089
[X] “I’m going back with you, as soon as the sword is done, Youmu. I’ll do what I can to help with the spirits.”

Ain't nobody got time for spirits.

Also I'm totally gunna tell Teruyo you're referencing a story that started on the Forbidden Green Board. Yur gunna get in sooooo much trouble.
>> No. 41090
[x] “I’ll be with you in a moment Kogasa. Let’s finish this sword asap.”

When do we bully the dork tho
>> No. 41091
[X] “I’m going back with you, as soon as the sword is done, Youmu. I’ll do what I can to help with the spirits.”

Ghost dork >>> Youkai moe
>> No. 41092
[x] “I’ll be with you in a moment Kogasa. Let’s finish this sword asap.”
Kogasa a cute. Also a blacksmith but that doesn't come up much, so I'd like to see it directly.
>> No. 41093
Wintertime Alchemist, rest in peace.


[X] “I’m going back with you, as soon as the sword is done, Youmu. I’ll do what I can to help with the spirits.”

If you want to write more Youmoe, this is da way.

Also, I wonder what relationship do those two have? Guess we'll see.
>> No. 41098
[x] “I’ll be with you in a moment Kogasa. Let’s finish this sword asap.”

I'm sure we'll have plenty of Youmu, but I'd like to see blacksmith umbrella first.
>> No. 41101
[x] “I’ll be with you in a moment Kogasa. Let’s finish this sword asap.”

I've seen exactly zero blacksmith umbrellas on THP so far.
>> No. 41102
4/4 tie
Tiebreakers will be decided by a "first-to" basis.
Dorky vote reached 4 first, so it wins.

Writing now
>> No. 41105
File 154119292814.jpg - (934.75KB, 826x1200, Best dork.jpg) [iqdb]
41105
“Now lets see.” The alchemist says.

Going through various draws from under the stairs, he pulls out several pieces of equipment to assemble a small distillery looking tool. In it, he places a vial containing a dark pale lavender liquid slowly circling itself, and another vial with darkish orange liquid that constantly bubbles as if it’s reaching the boiling point.

Pulling out a small empty flask, the alchemist extracts a single drop from the lavender vial, putting it into the small flask. Then he extracts a handful of drops from the burning, mixing it into the flask as well.

Sealing it up with a proper lid, he picks up the flask and starts shaking it wildly.

“Is that really how it’s supposed to work?” The gardener asks. “I mean, I’m not the expert here, but I haven’t seen you do it like that before.”

“Nope.” He answers, adding some wilder moves to the shaking. “And I can feel all of my master turning in their graves with each shake.” He places the flask, now containing a pale brown liquid. “It’s just as effective as slowly distilling it, but is far more risky. Even one drop of essence could destroy the house. Never mind an entire vial.”

Not waiting for the ghost to react, he carries the small flask into the next room.

“I think I’ll have to melt some more steel.” Kogasa states as he enters the room. “We don’t have anything with the same carbon level. It’s still doable, but it’ll throw off the weight distribution slightly.”

“I figured.” He cross his arms. “I’d love to take it through the proper heat treatment to purify it.”

“I know.” The blacksmith agrees. “Though that would some base aspects of the sword. It’ll add some flexibility, making it more durable, maybe even a tad lighter.” She holds the sword pieces in place, examining the rift between the pieces.

“The problem is the enchantment. If you can’t work around it, then there’s no way I can.” He states, before placing the flask on the forge’s edge. “Ones this turns the same shade as your hair, it’ll be ready.”

“Is that spirit fire.” She picks up the flask, examining its content. “That should speed up the process a lot.”

“Yep. A ratio of 1 to 5. Works wonders on articles from the netherworld.” He leans against the forge. “You remember how to use it, right?”

“Point the lid to the forge and uncork.” Them umbrella repeats the instructions she’s been told uncountable times. “I got it.”

“Perfect. I’ll leave the sword to you then. Don’t spare anything.” He pats her on the shoulder, to which the umbrella grows the biggest grin before saluting. “Meanwhile, I’ll prepare to head off to the netherworld.”

“You will what?” The half ghost exclaims from the other room. “But it’s dangerous right now.”

“Exactly.” The alchemist walks back out to the front room, passing Youmu’s spirit as it floats into the back. “What’ll I do if I lose my favorite customer?”

“What kind of reason is that?” The gardener argues back, trying to ignore her growing blush.

“As good a reason as I need.” The youkai argues back. “This body is technically immortal, after all. As long as I keep this safe, I’ll be okay no matter what.” He declares, tapping the hammer.

“But-”

“No buts.” He holds up a finger, silencing her. “I’m a friend of the clan. Your problems are my problems, and vice versa. I’m going, whether you want it or not.”

The sound of hammering starts to fill the room as Kogasa finally begins the actual work.

“Then shouldn’t you at least help Kogasa out with the sword?” The half ghost folds her arms and pouts, clearly not happy with her lack of choice.

“I’d rather work alone on this, actually.” The smithing umbrella adds from the other room. “Having a partner can be great when you need fast work done. Careful work like this is better done alone.” She shrugs. “Besides, Bro is nowhere near good enough to properly handle a masterwork like this.”

“Oi! I heard that.” He shouts back at her.

Of course, tsukumogami don’t have family in the same sense as humans, since they’re created rather than born.

“But that’s how it is.” The blue youkai argues back. “Your alchemy is one thing, but when it comes to actually hammering the metal, you’re lacking.”

He’s about to argue back, but actually consider what she said before saying anything. “I mean, you’re right. Rather embarrassing, considering I’m a smithing hammer.”

With that said, the alchemist walks back behind the counter and pulls out a couple more vials from inside his vest, placing them with the equipment before getting to work.

The half ghost, with nothing else to do other than wait, takes seat by the counter and watch the alchemist as he works. Her ghost half leaves the back room, floating along the outer wall of the front room, brushing against the work displayed on the shelves as it makes the round.

Small figures made from various materials, all carefully detailed, line the windows, displaying the level of detail the shop can achieve with their craft. The walls further into the shop is lined almost exclusively with metal works, ranging from farming tools like hoes and horseshoes, to a careful selection of weaponry. The weapons rarely make it into the hands of the public, though, thanks to regulations.

Nothing forbids citizens of Gensokyo from owning weapons of any kind. Weapons are just taxed with a fixed fee that prize it out of range for the normal citizen. The people in charge, of course, can ignore that tax because the money goes straight back into their pockets.

But we’re not here to talk about the corruption of Gensokyoian politics. That’s a story for another month.

With the methodical sound of the hammer clinging away in the background, and the focused alchemist carefully working with his elements, Youmu finds herself engrossed in watching him work, to the point where she finds herself in a daze, completely losing track of time.

That is until the sound of the hammer of broken by an uncanny sizzling sound as Kogasa gets ready to remove the blade from the furnace.

Curious as to the result, the gardener enters the back room, though not entering further than the door, as she doesn’t want to get in the way.

Grabbing the blade with her tong, Kogasa starts pulling the blade out of the furnace’s blue fire. Before long, she supports the burning blade with her gloved hand, carefully eyeing it as she moves it.

Once fully outside the furnace, the smith takes a second to admire the sight of the burning blade, before submerging it entirely in a basin of water, quenching it one final time.

“All that’s left is to sharpen the edge again and reattach the handle, and it’ll be ready.” Kogasa states. Even though she haven’t looked, she knows Youmu is watching. “But come here and look for a second.” She waves the swordswoman over. “It’s not perfect, but you can hardly see the patching.”

“You’re right.” The swordswoman notes. “But will it still hold out?”

“Of course.” The smith hits her own chest in pride. “I may not be a master, but I can fix broken cores. As long as the core holds, the blade won’t snap. It may chip and it may dull, but we’ll always be ready to fix it right up.”

“The handle’s silk pattern has been reapplied.” The alchemist joins the two girls in by the forge, carrying the handle.

“Then I’d say about 10 minutes before I’m done.” Kogasa adds.

“And then we’re off to kick some spirit ass.” He declares, punching his knuckles together.

“I’m still against that.” The half ghost adds once again.

==========

“You don’t really have to come, you know. We can handle this much ourselves.” The gardener says as they walk the pathway from the gates to the Ghost Princess’ mansion.

“I told you, I’m going. That’s that.” The alchemist insists.

“I mean, you really don’t have to come.” The swordswoman clutch her repaired sword with both hands.

“Why are you so insistent on keeping me away?” The he asks. “Is there perhaps something you’re not telling me?”

“N-No, of course not.” She stutters. “I’d have no reason to lie about anything.”

“Then there’s no problem in me coming to help me friends, is there?” The youkai smirks.

Unbeknownst to both of them, a shadowy figure draws behind them, closing it quickly and silently.

Glancing back, the alchemist catches a glimpse of their pursuer before they hide.

“I think we’re being stalked, Youmu.” He states, suppressing the urge to smile.

“What?” Youmu replies, glancing around, looking for any sign of a pursuer. “I don’t see anyone.”

“Well, this is the land of the dead, so it could be a zombie. Or a ghost.” He suggests, laughing it off as a joke.

“There aren’t any zombies here!” She exclaims, clutching her sword even tighter.

“What about ghosts?” He asks. “You’re not denying that?”

“There aren’t any ghosts either.” The half ghosts states.

“Then I guess I must be seeing things,” he points to her shoulder, “because that definitely looks like a ghost to me.”

As he says that, their pursuer lays a hand on Youmu’s shoulder, causing all color to drop from her already pale face.

She screams as she swings her sword, without drawing it, at the so called ghost behind her. To her surprise though, the sword hits nothing, causing her to spin around once, twice before stopping.

“You really are too precious, Youmu.” A womanly figure appears next to the alchemist, wearing a bright pink kimono matching her hair, which is held back by a simple triangular headband.

“Yuyuko!” The half ghost’s face regains its color and much more. “I told you to stop doing that! I thought I was going to die.”

“You’re already half dead, aren’t you.” The princess giggles. “It’s great seeing you again, Ren. You really should come visit more often.”

“As lovely as always, Yuyu.” The alchemist greets her. “I just rarely have an excuse to come all the way down here.” He shrugs it off.

“Really? Then what, mayhap, is your reason for making this long treacherous journey today?” The princess floats to his other side, leaning against his shoulder. “Did you start to miss little old me?” She asks with playful giggle.

“Of course, I miss all of you.” He gestures towards Youmu. “But as it happens, I’ve been informed you have had some trouble with the spirits here as of late.”

“Trouble, you say?” The ghostly woman spins off his shoulder, floating a bit on her own as she ponder the recent events. “Nothing out of the ordinary as far as I’ve been told.”

Youmu, realizing her little white lie has been seen through, remains quiet, her face having grown so red it’s spreading to her ears.

“Really then? I guess you did have something to tell me, Youmu?” The alchemist asks, stroking his overgrown stubble.

“Yes.” The half ghost replies, hiding her face by looking at her feet.

“Now, do you feel more embarrassed that you were found out, than you would have felt if you’d just told me?” The half ghost nods. “Now what if I told you I knew from the start?”

“What? How?” She shoots back up.

“I never had the opportunity to tell you, but I can commune with sleeping tsukumogami.” He reach out for the sword, which Youmu hands him. “Roukanken has been around for centuries. It’s long since manifested as a tsukumogami, though never found a reason to awaken. Yet it eagerly tells me everything. About how happy it is by your side. About how well to take care of it. And about how it got broken.”

The alchemist slightly unsheathes the sword, looking directly at the blade.

“But that’s that.” He says, sliding it back in it’s sheathe, handing it back to its owner. “Accidents happen. Roukanken has been fixed and is happy. It’s all in the past.”

“Wait. Then why did you come all the way down here?” The half ghost asks, equipping her sword again.

“It was a good chance to bully you a little.” He shrugs. “Of course it was about time for me to come visit anyway.”

“Delightful.” The princess folds her hands. “Today was just getting boring anyway.” She flies over to the youkai, leaning on his shoulder again. “I’m sure someone would like it if you stayed a while, though.”

“Yuyuko!” The half ghost yells out before running off, glowing bright red once more.

“Do you think she realize why she’s embarrassed?” The alchemist asks.

“It’s obvious to onlookers like us, but she likely hasn’t realized it yet herself.” The princess lets go of her friend, giving him more room to breathe. “She likes to go tend the garden whenever I tease her too much.” The ghost notes. “Going on autopilot like that helps her think while she’s in her own little world.”

[ ] “She’ll come back once she’s calmed down a little. Let’s take the time to catch up, Yuyu.”
[ ] “I think I’ll go watch her work. I’ve seen it a few times, but it still amazes me.”

>>41090
Whenever you feel like it. You can probably think of better ways to bully tease her

>>41101
>I've seen exactly zero blacksmith umbrellas on THP so far.
A criminally low amount. Let's fix that, together. Whenever there's not dork to be written.
>> No. 41106
[x] “I think I’ll go watch her work. I’ve seen it a few times, but it still amazes me.”

We're going full dork route now.
>> No. 41107
[x] “I think I’ll go 'watch her work.'”
-[x] By which I mean I'll wait for an opportune moment to bother her.

Let us commence to bulli
>> No. 41108
[x] “I think I’ll go watch her work. I’ve seen it a few times, but it still amazes me.”
Let's do it.
>> No. 41109
[X] “She’ll come back once she’s calmed down a little. Let’s take the time to catch up, Yuyu.”

Let her be for a little bit. She's probably pretty behind on work, and it's important to bully tastefully.
>> No. 41110
>>41101
>I've seen exactly zero blacksmith umbrellas on THP so far.
There's another that recently started, also on /shrine/, but so far it's just something that's been mentioned Kogasa does. She's one of the two protags, also (other is Reimu)
>> No. 41112
[X] “She’ll come back once she’s calmed down a little. Let’s take the time to catch up, Yuyu.”

So we're an alchemist smithing hammer tsukumogami huh. Neat.
>> No. 41114
[x] “She’ll come back once she’s calmed down a little. Let’s take the time to catch up, Yuyu.”

Gotta pace ourselves. Can't go triggering a dorksplosion too soon.

>>41110

Yah, I've been reading the hell out of that one.
>> No. 41115
[X] “She’ll come back once she’s calmed down a little. Let’s take the time to catch up, Yuyu.”

Both options seem great
>> No. 41120
4/3 in favor of boob ghost
>> No. 41124
File 15412515358.jpg - (774.85KB, 800x1120, Scarfed dork.jpg) [iqdb]
41124
“Then perhaps it’s best to just leave her be for the time being.” He notes, starting to walk towards the mansion. “Should give us plenty of time to talk.”

“Mm.” The ghost nods eagerly as she catches up.

“By the way. What’s the occasion for the dressup?” The alchemist asks, glancing over his companion once more.

“Oh this?” She asks, twirling around to give him a good look at it all. “Unlike Youmu, I have more than one set of clothes. Just because I’m dead doesn’t mean I don’t want to be pretty.”

“I can tell.” He comments as he takes seat by the low table. “One of the pretties ghost around.”

“Even prettier than Youmu?” She leans in over the table.

“In terms of beauty? Sure. There’s not many who can beat you there.” He picks up a cracker from the snack pile. “Youmu is by far the cuter one, though.”

The princess chuckles, pulling the bowl of snacks closer to herself. “Even though I can change my shape freely, she’s just too pure to compete against on that front.” She takes a snack. “Speaking of cute ghosts. You know she likes you, right?”

“Oh that’s obvious as day.” He looks outside to the netherworld’s dark lilac sky. “Though I guess that expression doesn’t work here, since the sky never changes.”

“Then why don’t you return her feelings?” She takes another snack. “You know we’d all welcome you here. Moreso if you were to marry into the clan.”

“I think you’re skipping a few steps there, Yuyu.” He taps the table with his index finger a few times. “And the answer is a little more complex than the childish “I’m afraid she’ll reject me” business.”

“Well I have all the time in the world, since I died, so take your time.” The princess unties her hair band, letting her hair flow free.

“Well, basically, we tsukumogami feed on one specific aspect of the human heart in order to survive. An aspect we don’t get to chose, but one we just know.” The youkai places his hammer on the table. While Kogasa feeds on fright, a simple yet vague feeling, I have to feed on a more complex but well defined feeling. Specifically, a desire for me. Whether it’s to buy my services or to just wanting to talk to me.”

“Wouldn’t that make our little cutie the obvious choice?” she continues to snack. “I mean, her little heart should be overflowing with such a desire.”

“And it is, which is the problem.” The alchemist leans back. “Because I can’t tell if I like her, or I like her desire, since she makes enough to keep me fed all by herself.”

The ghost chuckles. “Sure, it’s more complex than fearing rejection. But it’s just as childish.” She pushes the bowl across the table to her guest. “If you want to be with her, be with her. Whatever your reason may be doesn’t matter, as long as you want her in your life.”

“Are you speaking from experience?” He asks, knowing the ghostly princess have been around for many more centuries than himself.

“Now now. It’s impolite to ask a girl about her age.” The ghost hides her smirk behind a fan she just pulled out of thin air. A classic trick for those of immaterial bodies.

“But I didn’t.” The alchemist argues back, taking a snack for himself. “But enough about me. It’s your turn. Have you heard anything from Youki yet?”

“Ah, right. We never got to tell you.” The princess sits back up, placing her fan on the table. “Youten has succeeded him as the master of the Yureido style.”

Yureido, meaning Way of the Ghost, is the sword style practiced by the warriors of the Konpaku clan. While the general teaching is open for all clansmen to learn, the secrets of the style is passed only from the master to his one disciple. Once the master has been succeeded, they disappear for good.

“So Youki is gone.” The youkai clutch his hammer. “He always had some interesting jobs for me and Kogasa. I’m gonna miss him. How did Youmu take the news? They were rather close.”

“She was devastated. Didn’t show up for work for weeks, which is entirely understandable.” Yuyuko leans back again, supporting her nonexistent weight with her arms. “The only one who’d know what happened to Youki is Youten, and he’s not allowed to speak on the matter, thanks to the oath he swore. So for all we know, Youki is dead.”

“Then what about Youten? It’s a big mansion, but he usually hovers around you.” He looks around, more out of habit than actually searching for anything.

“He said he wanted to journey for a while longer.” The princess leans in over the table, resting herself on her elbows. “He’s grown a lot, you know. When I took him in, he was the definition of meek.”

“That just means you raised him well.” The alchemist comments.

“I’d say Youki did most of the raising after he took in Youten as a pupil.” The ghost lose herself in thought, reminiscing about the past.

==========
==========

A couple days have passed since then. Youmu, too embarrassed to join them, kept to her gardening, spending the rest of the day drawing patterns in the sand like a giant zen garden.

Our alchemist went to take a walk through the garden before heading home that day, admiring the work the young gardener did, though without seeing any trace of her.

With no work lined up, the store remains empty, said for the alchemist who sits by the counter reading, mindlessly passing the day away. Kogasa, his partner, has taken the day off from the store entirely to help out the temple school. That girl has a heart of gold, and a knack for children. Those two things are probably related.

The silence of the store is broken as the door swings open, inviting in the sound of the bustling streets outside, but quickly close again as the guest makes her way into the store.

“Youmu?” The alchemist asks, putting the paper he’s been reading down. “Did Hakurouken break this time?”

“Not this time.” The little swordswoman tuck on her swords.

Inside the human village, Youmu needs to carry her swords over her shoulder. The length of Roukanken means it’ll swing around too much when just walking. In crowded areas like the village, she has to move it from her waist to her shoulder, as to avoid hitting random people as they walk past.

“I actually came to apologize.” She says. “For just running off the other day, even though you came all the way to the netherworld. And for lying.” She bows her head deeply. “I’m sorry.”

“Come on, Youmu. You know I’m not bothered by small stuff like that.” He taps on the counter, inviting her to take a seat. “Besides, Yuyuko did tease you a little too much.”

“Mm.” The half ghost sits down by the counter.

“But you didn’t came all the way here, just for that, did you?” He asks, making room on the table for the little ghost to land.

The human half nods. “I did, actually. I felt bad about it, so I had to come and apologise.”

“Come on, Youmu. Now you’re making me feel bad.” He glance over at the paper, remembering what he’d just read. “Then how about this. If you feel bad for it, then come and join me for the harvest festival.”

“The harvest festival?” The little ghost asks.

“Yes. The festival the humans hold after a harvest. The harvest festival.” He reiterates.

“I know what it is.” Youmu pouts. “I’m not stupid. I was just wondering why.”

“You want me to join you for the festival?” She asks, to confirm she understood the request properly.

[ ] “Yes. You, me, Yuyuko and Kogasa. It’ll be great.”
- [ ] But ask Kogasa to be “busy” that night. Yuyuko will understand.
[ ] “Yeah, just you and me.”
>> No. 41125
[X] “Yeah, just you and me.”

More Youmu dorkness please.
>> No. 41126
[X] “Yes. You, me, Yuyuko and Kogasa. It’ll be great.”

Let's not hamfist it. having rivals present will make her more proactive instead of simply reactive and shy.
>> No. 41128
[x] “Yes. You, me, Yuyuko and Kogasa. It’ll be great.”

Perhaps we might accomplish the fabled Double Bulli
>> No. 41129
[X] “Yeah, just you and me.”

Holy fuck yes, inject this fluff directly into my bloodstream.
>> No. 41131
[x] “Yeah, just you and me.”

Full. Dork. Route.
>> No. 41133
[X] “Yes. You, me, Yuyuko and Kogasa. It’ll be great.”
Double Bully go!
Plus I like Kogasa more than ghost dork anyways.
>> No. 41137
[x] “Yeah, just you and me.”

It pains my heart to vote against the New Youkai Moe, but... this Youmu is just irresistable.
>> No. 41138
4/3 in favor of some alone time with the dork
>> No. 41143
[X] “Yeah, just you and me.”

Yuyuko is right, it doesn't really matter which reason he has for liking her-as long as love is a possibility: that means there are feelings there.
>> No. 41144
[x] “Yes. You, me, Yuyuko and Kogasa. It’ll be great.”

I require more umbrellas
>> No. 41148
File 154136473268.jpg - (763.36KB, 800x1120, tryhard dork.jpg) [iqdb]
41148
“That’s what I just said, wasn’t it?” The alchemist sits back down. “It’s a few days from now, though. They’re not quite done with the harvest just yet, but they’re already preparing.”

The little ghost rolls off the table, down onto the floor next to it’s bigger half.

“I’ll be sure to tell Lady Yuyuko to set some time off, then.” Youmu says. “I think she’d love a festival like that, with all the food and stuff.”

“I was thinking more along the lines of just the two of us.” He corrects her.

The little ghost starts squirming as it’s color change from whitish grey to pale red. The human half, too, grows a blush, though she has an easier time hiding it by looking down.

“I mean, if you want it to be just us, then I’m fine with it.” She plays with one of the ends of her bowtie, trying to keep herself from fidgeting too much. “I just can’t promise it’ll be much fun.”

“But I can.” The alchemist declares, giving her a confident smirk. “The whole event starts at sundown. I’ll be waiting outside the store.”

“Alright. I’ll be sure to be here.” She picks up her ghostly half and turns so the alchemist won’t have a chance to see that it’s practically glowing red. She hurriedly skips to the door. “I’ll see you in a few days then.”

“Yeah, it’s a date.” He says just as the door closes behind the little swordswoman.

She freeze up right outside the door, losing grip of her little ghost, causing it to fall on the ground where it practically melts.

==========

The chime hanging by the store’s door rings as the door swings open.

“Sorry, but we’re not taking any more orders today.” The alchemist yells out from inside backroom.

“I guess I came too early after all.” Youmu says, clutching her hand.

“Youmu?” He peeks his head out from the doorway. “What time is it?” He puts his tools down and pulls out a pocket watch.

Looking out the shop’s windows, he confirms that the watch indeed isn’t lagging behind, seeing as it’s still very bright outside, with not a single stall in sight yet.

“Maybe a little.” He pockets the watch again. “I have to ask you to wait a bit, since I’m still have some work to finish.”

“What are you making?” She asks, skipping over to the door, being careful to not dirty her red kimono.

He hold a small wooden sculpture of a bird, it’s wing spread out far. It’s still only roughly outlined, but the overall shape is clear.

“I was asked to make a handful of these.” He says, picking up a small chisel and starts carving again. “They’re supposed to be prizes for something, though I didn’t ask what.” Without looking away, he points to the table right next to the door. “Those are the finished ones. I wasn’t told how many I should make, so feel free to take one if you like.”

“I can’t do that. Someone paid for these.” She denies the offer.

“To be fair, I haven’t been paid yet.” He argues back. “Can’t really demand money for a product that doesn’t exist yet. But I’m not going to force one on you, if you don’t want it.” He says, getting right back to work.

“These are well made, though.” The half ghost comments, as she picks up one of the wooden figures to examine. The sculpture depicts a small bunny in the middle of running, with both the front paws firmly planted in the ground and both hind legs swinging past. “They almost look alive.” She comments.

“Give them a few years and that might just happen.” He says, running a small knife down the wings of the bird, carving out the pattern for the feathers. “Don’t just stand there. Find something to sit on, if you want to watch.”

“Ah. Oh yes. Of course.” She puts the figure down on the table and runs upstairs.

The little swordswoman has been to the personal section of the house plenty of time already, so she knows exactly where to look to get a small stool. She did consider moving one of the chairs, but they’d be too much trouble to get downstairs, and the ones by the counter are bolted to the floor.

Taking seat, once again by the door, she watch the artisan as carves into the wood, adding even more details to the bird.

==========

The artisan rotates the bird in his hand, examining the small nooks and crannies. “That’s that.” He puts down the brush. “It’ll just need 5 minutes to dry, and I’ll be ready to head out.”

He looks at his guest, who to his surprise, has fallen asleep, leaning against the door’s frame.

Looking past her, he see the long shadows being cast outside, indicating it’s almost sunset.

Placing the bird next to the other sculptures, he carefully sneak around the little warrior, walking upstairs to fetch a small piece of cloth. He dips it in the big bowl of water they have standing in kitchen, making it nice and wet before walking downstairs.

He hesitates to wake her up, in favor of the chance to look at her sleeping face more, but ultimately lifts her small ponytail and press the wet cloth against her nape.

The little ghost visibly shake from the cold surprise while the bigger half jumps up.

“What?” She looks around confused, finally spotting the alchemist, squatting behind the stool with a wet piece of cloth. “It’s just-” She looks around again. “Did I fall asleep?”

“Sadly my work isn’t exciting to watch.” He shrugs. “But at least you’ll be ready for a long night.”

“That’s not,” she stops herself from finishing that sentence. “Sorry. I’m just a little nervous.”

“Why? We’re just going out to have some fun.” He throws the rag into the counter. “You got a little dust on your shoulder, by the way.” He says, pointing to his own shoulder where it would be. “Can’t have that lovely outfit spoiled by some dirty workshop.”

The little swordswoman’s outfit for the evening is a beautiful red kimono, adorned with a simple feint floral pattern. Each of the openings, that is the collar, sleeves and the legs have had the edge decorated with a brighter pattern of more saturated flowers, against a flowing background layered between the basic floral print and the detailed flowers. Her obi has a deep navy blue with an octagonal pattern, offset slightly so it angles. Underneath you can just spot another kimono with a simple checkered pattern, alternating between the same navy blue and the usual jade color the gardener is so fond of.

Aside from having tied her short hair back in a ponytail, she has nothing else adoring her hair. Her little ghost on the other hand has a hairpin stuck into it where it’s hair would have been. The pin matches the same pattern as the kimono, with bright red flowers running along the whole pin.

“What’s with the hair pin?” He asks.

“Hairpin?” She looks at her ghost half. Ah. That.” The ghost floats over to her, and she pulls the pin out. “Lady Yuyuko wanted me to wear it, but I thought it was too much.” She slides it down into her obi. “She must have put it on without me noticing.”

“Can’t you feel anything with your ghost half?” He asks, pulling off his dirty apron.

“I can, sure.” She confirms. “But I think she did it while I was,” she stops herself, looking away, “distracted.”

“Attack while distracted. Noted.” He cross his arms and nod.

“Don’t note something like that.” She protest.

“Would you rather I note how much effort you put into getting dressed?” He asks, holding the door outside open for her.

“This is Lady Yuyuko’s choice, actually.” She looks down on her outfit. “I would have preferred something a little less gaudy. Maybe something easier to move in.” She smiles at her date. “But I guess that’s just my inner warrior speaking.”

“So if Yuyu helped you get dressed, how come to you showed up so early?” He asks, as they walk start walking down the street. “Oh, and I hope you don’t mind, but I need to deliver these first.” He says, holding up a bag with all the sculptures. “They’re for this festival after all.”

“That’s, um,” She runs her fingers along the edge of her obi. “I didn’t want you to wait long for me. So I wanted to get ready early. Then I worried I wouldn’t have time to get ready, so I did it even earlier.” She says. “Then once I was ready, I just couldn’t sit still waiting, so I decided to come to Gensokyo to see how much time there’s left, because we don’t have a sun in the netherworld it’s a little hard to judge time.” She looks away. “When I saw how much time there still was left, I couldn’t exactly just come over to you, but it’d be even more embarrassing to go back to Lady Yuyuko.”

Both of them can imagine exactly what that old ghost would say. Teasing her with a line like “young love” for sure. Especially since the half ghost let it slip that he called it a date, which really got Yuyuko fired up.

“But if I may ask, who ordered those?” The little warrior changes the topic.

“A monk from the temple.” The artisan answers. “At least, he told me to bring them there when they were ready.”

“They’re participating in the festival?” She looks up at her date.

“Of course they are. The monks participate in every event the village holds.” He explains. “In some they’re just more prominent than others.”

“I guess.” She ponders a bit. “We don’t really practice religion, so I wouldn’t really know how they behave.”

“Over here!” A bald man standing in front of the temple calls out to the alchemist. He skips through the small crowd. “I’m sorry for placing an order like that on such a short notice.”

“Don’t worry about it. It was a fun little challenge.” The artisan hands over the bag. “Since you didn’t give me a number, I just made as many as I could. I hope it’s enough.”

The monk looks through the bag. “I only asked for a couple. I’m sorry, but I haven’t prepared enough to pay you for a dozen.”

“Don’t worry about it, then.” The artisan dismiss the monk. “It’s my fault for over delivering. Just take the rest as a donation, in that case.”

“No no, I can’t do that. Honest work deserves honest pay.” The monk denies the offer. “I only expected two, but having more really is better for us. This is great news. Just let me go fetch some more money. I’ll be right back.” He says, handing the bag back over to the artisan.

The monk is gone for a couple of minutes before running back with two strings of coins. “I hope this will be enough for your trouble.”

“It’s fine.” The artisan says as they trade items. “Though I do hope you’ll accept the little extra I included with the sculptures.”

“Something extra?” He looks down into the bag.

“Since you said these were prizes, I included some wood wax to go along with each of the sculptures. So the new owners can maintain them for a while without cost.”

“This really is too much, good sir.” The monk says, despite the big smile on his face.

“Then it’s too bad I’m not giving you a chance to pay me for those.” The artisan states as he begins to back off.

Youmu gives the monk a polite bow before she follows suit.

“Is it really alright to just hand over something like that?” The little swordswoman asks. “Wax isn’t cheap, if I recall.”

“Using alchemy, I can make it myself using little more than just water.” He answers. “Besides, those figures have the potential to become tsukumogami. I’m just giving the owners a little push in the right direction.”

The young girl grows a big smile as she thinks about what she just heard. “You really are kind, you know that.”

“Are you sure you should be praising me already?” The alchemist stops up and looks at her with a smirk.

“What?” She asks, waiting for more to follow.

“Remember how I promised tonight would be fun?” He holds out his hand, inviting her to give him her hand, to which the swordswoman complies. He places one of the two threads of coin in her hand. “I thought the two of us could play a game, tonight.”

The half ghost examines the bundle of money she was just given. “What are these for?”

“That’s your budget.” He answers. “Once that runs out, you’ve lost. Same goes for me.” He says, holding up his bundle of coins. “We’ll take turns challenging each other to one of the games you can find at the stalls here tonight. Like, you can challenge me to a game of ring toss, with the condition that I need a ring on each pole within one game- I’ll then have to spend my budget to try and win, or I can forfeit, which would give you the choice of giving me a new challenge, or giving me a small punishment. Of course, it’s the same the other way around.”

The ghost looks at her bundle of coins, then back at the youkai. “What exactly are the punishments.” She asks, rather hesitantly.

“Anything.” He answers. “Of course, we shouldn’t go overboard, since it’s just for fun.” He pockets his change. “Of course, there should be a big punishment on the line, in case you lose the game as a whole.”

“Like what?” She asks, almost scared. Though her little ghost seems to tell a different tale as it’s started circling her main body.

“Why don’t we just go for the classic.” He shrugs. “Loser has to do what the winner says.”

“You’re up to something, aren’t you?” Youmu asks. To which the alchemist just smiles and shrugs once again. “You’re on.” She states.

“Perfect. Just two rules.” He holds up 1 finger. “First, be reasonable. Giving an impossible challenge is a no-go.” He holds up a second finger. “Second, don’t involve other people.”

“Alright, seems fair.” She nods. “I’ll give you the first move.”

“Confident, are we? Well, alright then.”

Main:
[ Write in ] What should her first challenge be
- [ Write in ] If she lose, what should her punishment be

>>41143
>>41144
I'm afraid you two were late for the vote
>> No. 41156
File 154139176724.png - (663.83KB, 675x858, TAcvHhG.png) [iqdb]
41156
[x] Five shots at a cork gun range
- [x] Speed-eat a corn dog for every target left standing
>> No. 41158
>>41156
Sounds good. I don't know if they have corn dogs in gensokyo but I'm sure there's some sort of greasy delicious festival food that can serve as a substitute.

[x] Five shots at a cork gun range
- [x] Speed-eat a corn dog for every target left standing
>> No. 41159
[X] Five shots at a cork gun range
- [X] Speed-eat a candy apple for every target left standing

I think candy apples would be more appropriate in a Japanese festival.
>> No. 41160
File 154145007790.png - (1.39MB, 791x849, Sweet tooth.png) [iqdb]
41160
“How about,” The alchemist strokes his beards as he ponders the many possible ways to start out the game. “How well do you think you can use a gun?”

“A gun? You mean those cork guns, right?” The little warrior cross her arms, keeping them in check as she thinks for a second. “I can’t imagine it’d be much harder than using a bow.”

“Well then. We’ll go buy five rounds. You’re goal will be to knock down five targets.” He explains as he starts walking towards the bigger crowd. “For every target you miss, your punishment will get worse.”

“Easy.” She pumps both her fists. “So, what if I fail?” She asks. “What will the punishment be?”

“Not telling.” He cross his arms. “If you know the punishment, you can forfeit before even trying, because you know the punishment isn’t so bad.” He explains. “But since I won’t tell you, you won’t know how bad it’ll be.”

“Hey that’s not fair.” The half ghost pouts.

“But it’s more fun.” The alchemist argues back. “Plus, you can chose not to tell me either. All depends on whether you think I’ll fight harder to avoid it, if I know what’s waiting for me.” He starts tapping his fingers together. “But the thing is. Yuyu and I have been friends for a long time, so I’ve picked up a few things from her.”

“Wait. You wouldn’t.” Youmu stops, suddenly looking concerned.

“Who knows. Do you dare try to find out?”

“I should never have agreed to this.” She hides her face in her hands, before slowly lifting it up again. Good thing she doesn’t wear makeup, since that would just have ruined it.

“Hey.” The alchemist leans in over the counter for the stall. “Think we could borrow this stall for a minute?”

“Depends.” The man running the stall says. “As long as you’re paying, do can do just about anything.” He strokes his thick snail of a mustache.

“Perfect. We’ll pay this much for five shots.” The alchemist says, putting a small handful of coins on the table. “We’re not playing for prizes, so we hope this much will do.”

Mr. Mustache looks over at the half ghost, who’s hidden her ghost half somewhere along the way, making her look like a normal silver haired young girl. After sizing her up, he leans in over the counter, almost whispering to the alchemist. “If you’re trying to impress her, you’ll have better luck actually winning a prize for her.”

“Nah, she’s the one that’ll be shooting.” The alchemist replies. “We’re just using this game to settle a bet.”

“Well alright then.” He pulls a gun down from the shelf, spinning it around with one hand so the handle face the little warrior. “It’s all yours, then. Do you know how to load these?” He asks.

The ghost examines the gun for a second. “I don’t think so.”

The stall owner pulls down another gun. “These are repurposed air rifles. These a small lever here you press with your thumb.” He demonstrates, and the barrel comes loose. “Then you pull the barrel all the way back, until it clicks, at which point it lose all resistance. Then you insert the bullet, put the barrel back in place, and it’s ready.”

Following his instructions, Youmu goes through all the motions, without inserting the bullet, seeing as she hasn’t been given any as of yet. “Like this?”

“Exactly. Then you just aim and fire.” The clerk says, pulling out a handful of cork bullets. “Just a word of warning. “Shooting someone with this will hurt, though not do any real damage. However, hitting someone in the eyes can obviously make them blind.”

“I would never,”

“I doubt you would.” The clerk cuts off the little ghost girl. “I just need to inform you in any case. With that said, feel free to go nuts you two.” He backs off a bit, clearing the way for the targets. “Shoot it once, to release the charge. Then load it with a bullet.”

“Got it.” She says, aiming the rifle loosely at the targets and pulls the trigger. There’s a click, but nothing more.

Once more, she goes through the motions of loading it, this time putting in the bullet as well.

She leans her small body on the table, practically lying on it. Out of the 26 targets sitting on the rear wall, the half ghost takes aim for the left middle row, where 5 targets stands lined up. She takes a deep breath before holding it, allowing her aim to stay more still.

As she pulls the trigger, she flinch, surprised by the sudden force applied, which weren’t there before. She manage to suppress the small squeal she’d otherwise have let out.

The bullet didn’t hit anything, but instead got caught by the net right behind the targets, letting it fall into a gutter.

“Well, there went the perfect game.” The alchemist notes.

The little ghost looks away as she loads in another attempt, hiding her blush. “I just got surprised, okay?”

“Feel free to use the rest of this round to practice, in case you want another attempt. To avoid my terrible terrible punishment.”

Ignoring his tease, she lies on the table and readies her second shot. Taking her time again ,she carefully aims for the same target as the last time.

This time, as she pull the trigger, she’s ready for the small shock and the bullet connects with the target, knocking it back a little.

“I hit that. Why didn’t it fall?” She looks back at the alchemist. He just shrugs, unwilling to tell her why it didn’t fall over.

The targets have been padded on the bottom, using a light metal. This makes them bottom heavy and prone to standing up again unless tipped all the way. Being how they’re tall, the implied tip is that you should go for the ‘head’ of the target, though it’s smaller and harder to hit. Youmu hit the core of the target, meaning she barely even got it to rock, and instead just pushed it a little.

Reloading, she once again takes aim at the same target. This time though, she had the idea of aiming for the head.

She graze it, but ultimately miss.

“I think I’m starting to get the hang of it.” She says. “If this next one miss, I’ll give up.” The little warrior declares.

She reloads and takes aim, carefully adjusting before pulling the trigger, hitting the target in the head dead on. The target falls down into the gutter along with the bullet.

“Hah. Told you.” The half ghost does a little jump.

“One out of four.” The alchemist sums it up. “Hit the next one, and you’ll only have to suffer three times as much.”

“Can’t you just let me have my moment.” She fake pouts before loading in the last bullet.

Going through all the motions, she hits this last one too.

“Nice. So that’s three that remained standing.” He notes. “Are you going to buy a retry?”

“Of course I am. I just got the hang of it.” She quickly pulls out her coins and place a couple on the counter.

The clerk puts the targets back on their shelves before finding a new handful of bullets for the little ghost.

She hurriedly reloads the gun and gets to aiming, shooting down another target.

It’s clear the little warrior picked up on the gun quite fast. Maybe because she has the mindset of a warrior, or because she has talent for guns. In either case, she’s begun knocking the targets down quite easily.

So instead of describing the same thing over and over again, it might be more interesting to detail how Youmu’s kimono remains form fitting, given its weight, making the sight her of bent over the table quite something to behold. Or maybe it’s be worth mentioning how her whole body tense up right before she’s about to shoot, causing her to let out a muffled little yelp with every shot.

Needless to say, she manage to knock down all five targets in just two tries.

“Have to say, I’m impressed.” The alchemist notes. “I expected it to take at least five tries, or that you’d give up before that.”

“Now I’m insulted.” The half ghost pouts, crossing her arms to really show she’s annoyed. She has some trouble keeping a straight face, though, and there’s a little smile visible. “As if it’d take me that long to pick up on something so simple.”

The two of them leave the stall, thanking the mustached clerk for his time, setting out to find the next challenge.

“I was thinking of having you eat some delicious, but heavy food in one setting.” The alchemist explains. “The amount would depend on how many targets remained.”

“Heavy food? Like Takoyaki?”

“I was thinking it’d either be Karumeyaki or some candy apples.”

“That.” She pause. “Wouldn’t actually have been so bad. I mean I like sweets.”

“Oh I know that, trust me. The candy jar by the counter always seem to be missing a couple pieces after you visit.” He chuckles to himself. Truth be told, the jar is only really there for Youmu, since kids rarely come to the workshop. Of course, they were meant to be given away for free to begin with, so there’s no problem with her taking some.

“Maybe I should just have you buy me some more snacks for your punishment.” Youmu threatens.

“Oh no, my wallet.” The alchemist says in complete monotone.

“Speaking of punishment, I have to pick your challenge now.” She looks around. “Since you’re a hammer, you should be good with nails.” She points to a small wood stump.

Said stump has several nails hammered into it, with a box of more nails sitting on a table right next to it along with a hammer. There’s a small bottle with a piece of paper labeled to it, stating the price of a single nail, presumably for the stump.

“I deal more in the fine work, but yeah, I sometimes work with nails.”

“Then can you knock a nail all the way down in one hit?” She puffs out her small chest.

“Can I? Easy.” The artisan shrugs it off. “Though, assuming you mean on hit in total, then getting it to stand right is the hard part.”

“Yeah, just one hit.” She clarifies.

“Right then.” He picks up a nail from the unmanned stand. “Since I paid for the first try for your shooting, you’ll pay for this first try of mine. Just to stay fair.”

“Sure, makes sense.” She says, pulling out her bundle. “Should I put down the same amount for the shooting, or just what it says here?”

“Same as for the shooting.” He answers. “If we stick to that price, we should have ten tries each.” He examines the stump, to find the place best suited for a nail. “As long as we don’t play for prizes, I’m sure the people will let us pay that amount.”

Since Youmu is down two tries, the alchemist has to match it at best. If he’s trying to win anyway.

He pulls out his main body, the hammer hanging by his side, and give the nail a couple small hits to make sure it stands on its own. “This is more to prove I can, than to win.” He says, hitting the nail straight on the head, driving all the way down. “There, easy. Now the trick is to do with with only one hit.”

“That was impressive in itself.” The little swordswoman admits. “I’m not much of a carpenter, so I have a hard time hitting the nails at all.”

He picks up another nail and press its tip against the soft wood, pushing it in just enough to where it might be able to stand on its own until someone touches it.

“The angle is going to be a little awkward.” He notes.

Winding up, he hammers down on it, driving it into the wood.

“Did you get it already?” The half ghost asks.

“Nope. I held back too much.” He gives the nail another little hit to get it all the way down. “Third try.”

Using the same strategy as the last time, he pushes the nail just a bit into the wood. This time, he spends a little more time trying to angle it, before giving it a good old hit.

“And down.” He states, after examining it. “Third try, but I passed.” He pulls out his chain of coins and drop two tries worth of cash into the jar. The first attempt already paid for by Youmu.

“No loser so far.” The swordswoman notes. “We’ll have to try harder.”

Out of the ten tries, Youmu is down two, and her date is down three.

[ Write in ] The next challenge for Youmu
- [ Write in ] Punishment.

Since I couldn't use corn dogs for the punishment, since they wouldn't exist in my version of Gensokyo (same universe as my other story) I tried to find suitable alternatives. Karumeyaki was the thing I found, which seemed most appropriate. Basically, grilled caramel with optional flavors.
>> No. 41163
I must say, I like this story. It's cute.
I've never been to a festival like this though, so I don't know much about what challenges there could be.
Isn't goldfish scooping a traditional thing in japanese festivals? And that balloon game with paper hooks or something?
I have no idea though, everything I know is from anime.

As for punishments, I'm definitely even worse at coming up with that, so someone else will have to fill in for that.
>> No. 41164
[x] Katanuki, since she likes sweets
- [x] Reveal something nobody else knows about herself
>> No. 41166
[x] Katanuki
- [x] Reveal something nobody else knows about herself
>> No. 41173
don't ask me what to do on a date
>> No. 41176
File 154153270011.png - (1.24MB, 888x1243, Dork Love.png) [iqdb]
41176
“Lets see if we can find a Katanuki stand.” The alchemist says, walking back into the crowd.

“Katanuki? You mean that candy cutting thing?” The half ghost quickly catch up to him. “You know you can’t eat that, right? You may be okay, but normal people won’t.”

“I’m not sure if the Konpake clan can really qualify as ‘normal people.’” He smiles at her. “But that said, it’s not to get some snacks, but it’s for your next challenge.”

“You want me to cut candy?” She looks to the sky as she wonders how that could be turned into a challenge. “How is that going to work?”

“I’ll tell you what to make, and then you’ll have to make it.” He explains. “Of course, I’ll be fair when judging it.” He makes sure to glance down at the little warrior, smiling to make her doubt his word.

“Wouldn’t it be more fair to compete directly?” She asks, not picking up on her date’s intention. “If I also challenge you, then we can compete to see who can make the best candy.”

“Not a bad idea.” He strokes his beard, acting as if he hadn’t thought of that exact idea. “What’ll the punishment be?”

“Hmm.” The little ghost girl grabs her chin, pondering for a moment. “Since we’re competing directly, it has to be something bigger than it otherwise would be.”

“Then how about this?” He spreads his arms out. “The loser has to reveal something about themselves which no one else knows.”

“Isn’t that a bit much?” She asks, without a hint of embarrassment.

“I don’t think so. You get to choose what you share, after all.” He explains. “I think I even have the perfect bit of information to share, should I lose this. Either way, you better start thinking.”

“Right. I’ll just have to not lose.” She pumps her fists. “I’m ready.”

“Perfect, cause I think I found something a little better than katanuki.” He points through the crowd. “Actually edible cardy.”

The stall is mostly surrounded by kids and the occasional young adult. It’s managed by an odd couple, an older man in his late forties, and a young woman in her early twenties. The man stays in the back, as he continues to produce various kinds of treats. The woman, taking the kids’ requests some of the candy and using some tools, shapes it onto a very general shape, from which the kids starts to scrape away using the small tools lying on the table.

“So,” Taking an opportunity where they don’t appear too busy, the alchemist place one round with of coin on the table. “What can i get for this much?”

“Aren’t you a little old for this?” The young woman asks.

“I may be up there in age, but I’m not too old for fun, yet.” He nods back at his date. “Besides, me and the little lady has a game we’d like to play using your stall.”

As a youkai that’s been around since before Gensokyo, the alchemist is indeed old, by human standards.

The clerk shrugs. “Depending on the material you chose, I’d be able to give you about one bowl of for each of them.” She says, pointing to the small bowls they use back there.

“Alright Youmu, pick your weapon.” He looks back at the little ghost.

“I think the powder cubes would be the easiest to work with.” She notes.

The “powder cubes” she speaks off, are made from sugar, ground to a fine powder. It’s then mixed with flavored water, then ground again to remove any lumps that may have formed after mixing with the water. From there, using the tools, they can compress these powder into a solid, yet brittle shape. Solid enough to not fall apart on its own, but soft enough to be easy to sculpt in.

“Right, then we’ll take two of those.” He says, as Youmu puts down her share of the coins.

Within minutes, the girl has wiped up two large cubes of pure sugar. The kids sitting around stare in amazement, seeing as their small budgets would never allow for such spending.

The artist picks up a thin wire, wraps it around his fingers and start the process of carving, already having an idea of what to make.

Thanks to the soft material, cutting out the shapes is easy for someone skilled, so the artisan quickly gets down to the point of adding details, with a level of finesse only years of experience can grant.

Almost as quickly as the clerk prepared the material, the artisan has finished his small sculpture. A small figure of Youmu’s little ghost. Though simple in shape, the little thing is filled with small details. The pose, if you can even call it that, is the little phantom circling upwards. This allows for a large area to support the shape so it won’t break from its own weight, while also adding a sense of motion.

“Amazing.” One of the kids almost shouts.

“You did that so fast.”

“Can you show me how to do mine?”

“Sure, just bring it over here, and we’ll try to work on it together.” The artisan answers.

While the kids lining up, he gets busy as he starts trying to teach them how to sculpt, if even only slightly. Youmu on the other hand, struggles to even get started.

==========

“See, I knew you could. You just need to try.” The artisan praises the last of the kids who lined up. The the final one now running off to who knows where, he turns back to his date, who’s all but given up.

“Bushes are one thing. They’re easy.” The little warrior lifts her head from her hands. “But I’m drawing a blank here, for some reason.”

“I just gave a bunch of kids some lessons on sculpting.” He notes. “Weren’t you listening?”

“No, I was too busy trying myself.” She push the nearly untouched sugar cube away.

“I wouldn’t mind giving you a few private lessons, one of the next times you drop by the store.” He nods off the clerk as he and his date walks away. “That is, if you think you can endure a few hours alone with me.”

“I’ve spent the whole evening with you. I think I can endure a few hours.” She tease back, though her blush grows the further she gets with the sentence.

“Oh, so now we’re getting confident enough to talk back?” The alchemist cross his arms. “Should I remind you that you lost this round?”

“I know. But you promise not to laugh, right?”

“Of course I wouldn’t laugh.” He answers right away.

“I hate lightning.” The little ghost states. “It’s not that I’m scared. It just makes me feel uncomfortable, and I can’t stand it.”

“Why? If you don’t mind me asking?”

“It’s just,” she taps her index fingers together. “It’s because it makes me feel powerless. Because despite all my training, there’s nothing I can do against it.”

“That’s really interesting, actually.” The alchemist strokes his beard.

“You’re not going to laugh?” The little warrior asks.

“Why should I? Mother nature is scary. Being afraid of being powerless against her is completely natural, from my perspective.”

“I see.” She looks down to hide the little smile the appears.

Youmu is down 3 tries, the alchemist is down 3 tries. Despite having chosen a small number, expecting the game to not last too long, it seems the evening is about to pass, turning night soon. From there it won’t be long before the fireworks are lit.

[ Write in ] Yet another challenge
- [ Write in ] Punishment
- [ ] Cut the game from 10 to 5 to speed things along

>>41173
I spend all day every day writing magical loli fanfiction. Think I know better?

>>41163
Part of me still feels like I'm not putting enough effort into the story (lack of proofing and planning,) so I'm glad people actually enjoy it. Sadly I didn't have much time today, so this one might be a little subpar compared to the rest.
Also, if you can't think of any games or punishments, try to think about the big thing you might win after this little game. You can make Youmu do any one thing, if you win. Or you could let her win and see what she might ask for.
>> No. 41178
[x] Ring tossing
- [x] This time hold back and let Youmu win
- [x] Cut the game from 10 to 5 to speed things along

So we make it in time for the fireworks. Honestly, I'm not that creative when it comes to write ins.
>> No. 41182
[x] Ring tossing
- [x] This time hold back and let Youmu win
- [x] Cut the game from 10 to 5 to speed things along

Yeah, something quick sounds good. Not sure on just throwing the game, but I couldn't think of a penalty either.
>> No. 41183
[x] Ring tossing
- [x] Don't hold back
- [x] Cut the game from 10 to 5 to speed things along
>> No. 41186
File 154162153252.jpg - (238.09KB, 850x1186, Someone draw me some pure dorky handholding.jpg) [iqdb]
41186
The alchemist looks to the sky, making big movements to make sure the little ghost girl notices. “Seems we might be having too much fun. We’re almost out of time.”

“Already?” Youmu shades her eyes as she looks to the sky, mimicking his pose. “What are we looking for?”

“The color of the sky. And judging by the shade, it’s almost time.” He relaxes his pose. “So why don’t we wrap up this game.”

“Aww.” She pouts. “I was just starting to get into it.”

“Trust me, you’ll like what comes next just as much.” He rubs his hands together for warmth, seeing as it’s starting to get chilly. “What do you say to one last, best out of three game? Of your choosing.”

“I’m going to keep you to that promise.” The half ghost smiles. “And let’s do ring toss.” She states enthusiastically. “I’d have challenged you to fish scooping, since I’m pretty good at it.” To emphasize she flex her arm, even though fish scooping has nothing to do with strength.

“Why ring toss?” He asks, as they start walking. “If you’d picked fish scooping, it’d be a sure win. Or are you that confident in your ring tossing skills?”

“Then it wouldn’t be fun?” She states without hesitation. “The best part about competing is putting everything you have into it, giving it your all.”

Looks like she’s managed to get over her shyness for the night. Which means everything is going according to the alchemist’s plan. All that’s left is to do is to put the final piece into place, then wait for the fireworks.

“Oh yeah, I’ve been meaning to ask.” He changes the topic. “Where’s your phantom? I know they can become incorporeal, but they should be able to turn invisible.”

“Ah, that’s,” she looks away, “how do I say it.” The half ghost stays silent for a moment as she thinks of how to formulate her thoughts. ” It’s, inside me.” She tries to hide her blush, clearly feeling embarrassed by the thought.

“As in, you’re possessing yourself? How would that even work?” He ponders out loud.

“No, I just remain intangible as I stay inside my main body.” She explains. “It’s a very strange feeling, which I don’t think I can describe.”

“I would imagine.” The youkai replies, placing a hand on the hammer. “My main body is an object. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to describe what that feels like. To be able to hold my own body in my hands, while I occupy both bodies.”

==========

“Seems like we’ll have this game for ourselves.” The alchemist notes, spinning one of the rings around his finger. “It’s not exactly a tent, but it’ll do just fine.”

“Mm.” The half ghost nods. “Should we move back further? It seems a little easy to hit it from here.”

“Sure. Go ahead and take the first turn, so just move as far back as you want. We’ll play the game from there.” He replies, following her steps backwards.

“Here.” She drags her foot in the dirt, drawing a line. “We’ll throw from here.”

The little warrior pulls back, getting ready to throw when she notices a minor problem. Her kimono doesn’t allow for much leg movement. This means she’ll either must deal with awkward stances, or open her kimono up a little, revealing some leg. Since Yuyuko dressed her up, Youmu has been forced to wear the dress up in the old fashion. That is, to go commando. So, the prospect of showing some leg might have some unintended consequences that she’d rather avoid.

On the other hand, the alchemist’s plan needs him to lose the overarching game, yet he can’t make that obvious, since Youmu would hate to have him throw the game, for whatever reason he might have had.

Which puts both in a spot where it’ll be hard not to reveal too much, though in different ways.

With effort and determination, the little ghost managed to throw it in a less than graceful manner. And she manages to land the first throw, no less.

The easiest way to throw the game, without drawing attention to it, would be to miss the first shot. It can be written off as “getting used to it.” Plus, they if both play it perfectly for the rest of the game, it’ll still be his loss.

Aiming for the back row, the alchemist throws his ring. The inside of the ring bounces off the pole, causing it to fly backwards and land on the ground.

“So, it’s going to be that kind of game.” He notes, smirking at the result of his throw.

Youmu ungracefully manage to throw another one, also aiming hers for the back row. Unlike her date’s, hers swing around the top before falling on the pole.

Following that pattern, both manage to continue landing their shots. Though they both miss one throw to the front poles, ending the game in the alchemist’s defeat by one point.

“Yes!” The little warrior does a little hop.

“Nice throwing.” He compliments her. “I thought I had a chance again when you missed your shot.”

“I got a little nervous, I’ll admit.” She runs over to fetch the rings. “But now the pressure is on. You have to win the next two games, or you’ll lose.”

The loud whistling of a rocket climbing into the sky echoes through the village as the first firework has been lit. It explodes with a loud bang, drawing the attention of all participants, including our little love birds.

“It’s starting.” The alchemist notes. He grabs Youmu by the wrist and starts dragging her along. “We got to hurry, before our spot is taken.”

“What spot?” She quickly catches up and follows pace, despite her initial surprise.

“There’s a small hill inside the village that will be perfect for viewing the fireworks.”

==========

The first firework was launched as a signal, that the show would start soon, giving people a chance to come and see it. They barely made it, but the couple made it to the hilltop in time for the fireworks. That is, the show has already started.

“You’re right. This is a beautiful spot.” The half ghost admits.

The hill is just tall enough to stand above the roof line of the village, giving a clear view of the horizon. With nothing else to distract you, viewing the fireworks from here would indeed be a sight to behold.

“A perfect ending to a great night.” He whispers to himself.

Initially, he had some concerns following Yuyu’s advice. But right now, at this moment, he’s glad he did.

Youmu seems to feel the same way, as her hand slowly finds its way to his, very loosely grabbing it.

“Youmu?” He asks.

She immediately retracts her hand with a small yelp, just realizing what she was doing. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to.”

He doesn’t say anything, but instead grab her small hand, holding it in his. “It’s fine.”

They both stand in silence, watching the beautiful colors fill the dark night sky.

“So.” He speaks up after a good few minutes of silence. “Since you won, that’s the prize you want?”

“I’ve already gotten it.” She grips his hand too, interlocking fingers. “I’ve gotten something much better.”

He gives her small hand a little squeeze in responds but doesn’t say anything.

Neither of them has noticed yet, but Youmu’s phantom has heated up to the point where it’s melting, leaking out under her feet.

“Would you mind if I stayed over tonight?” She asks, not realizing what her request suggest, or maybe she just doesn’t care at this very moment.

“I’d love to.” He pulls her a little closer, allowing her to rest against his arm.


---
No votes for today. You can probably understand why.
>> No. 41188
awww
>> No. 41191
Walk her home gently.
>> No. 41201
File 15417060315.jpg - (702.42KB, 1200x1500, Other Dork.jpg) [iqdb]
41201
The two lovebirds went home to the workshop after the fireworks show had ended. Nothing happened after it, however, seeing as Youmu felt sleepy after an exciting night and went straight to bed. Not wanting to disturb her, the alchemist let her have his room for herself while he went to living area to sleep.

The next day, the little ghost was gone before either Kogasa or the alchemist had woken up. She’d left a note saying she went home, hoping the two of them wouldn’t worry about her sudden disappearance.

It’s been a few weeks since then, and she hasn’t shown up since. Business has kept going like usual, if not a little better thanks to the small amount of advertising he managed to do during the festival.

Even with the slight influx of customers, the store doesn’t feel any more busy than usual. Kogasa has picked up some orders for horse equipment and has diligently been working by the forge for days now. The customers asking for the alchemist typically want to buy some of the premade items displayed in the store, like the small sculptures or the jewelry.

Today seemed to just another day like that until the alchemist spotted someone out in front of the store. A certain little woman, seemingly unsure if she should enter, debating back and forth with herself.

Unable to hold back a snicker, the alchemist pulls down the jar of hard candy from the shelf behind the counter. He places it on the table and rest his hand on it, looking out at the ghost waiting for her to notice.

Finally, having made up her mind, she pushes open the door.

“Hey there.” He greets her, resting his head on his other hand.

The moment he says that, the little gardener grows bright red and turns around, walking back out the store.

This is probably going to take some time.

She tries again, still as red as when she left. Her movement is completely stiff as she walks up to the counter. She struggles a little getting seated, obviously trying not to look awkward.

“Are you ready now?” The alchemist asks.

“No.” She answers honestly.

“Well then.” He slides the jar over to her. “Take your time. I’m not going anywhere.”

“I’m not a kid, you know?” Despite her protest, she still takes a piece from the jar. A sour one, her favorite.

The alchemist pulls out a book and starts reading, waiting for his guest to be ready. A few minutes pass in silence as the ghost whittles down the candy.

“Yuyuko seemed disappointed, the other day.” She notes after some time. “I don’t think she wanted to see me so early after the festival, going from her questions.”

“Really. Do you know why?” He asks without lifting his eyes from the book. Though, having been friends with that perverted old ghost for years now, he already knows what Yuyu wanted to happen.

“I don’t.” She shakes her head. “I think something was supposed to happen. But I don’t know what.”

“Can’t really think of anything, either.” He says. He knows what the old ghost wanted, but he’s more interested in taking things at Youmu’s pace. Wouldn’t want to press her, after all. “Though, if you don’t mind me changing the topic. What did you come here for today?”

“Nothing. I just,” she scratches her nose, “I just wanted to see you.” She swings her legs a little. “Is that weird?”

“No, it’s perfectly normal.” The alchemist replies. “You can come here whenever you feel like. So, you don’t have to stand around outside and hope it’s okay.”

“You saw that?” A wide blush appears again. “That was, I just needed courage to come inside.” She admits.

“Courage? I may be a youkai, but I don’t bite.” He plays dumb.

“You’re teasing me.” The half ghost states, pouting a little.

“Of course.” He puts down the book to look straight at her. “How can I not tease such a cute girl?”

Her blush widens as she got caught off guard by that comment, causing her ears to start turning red too. “Meanie.” She takes another piece of candy, to compensate for the bullying.

Aside from the alchemist’s chuckle following her comment, the two of them sit in silence, just enjoying each others company.

“What are you reading?” The little gardener asks.

“Thirty Years that Shook Physics.” He answers, closing it to get a look at the English title. “In the outside world, they’re founding a new field of science called Quantum, I think that’s how it’s pronounced. Basically, it’s about very tiny thing that don’t make any sense.”

“You’re a scientist?” She lights up. “All the books you have are in a different language, so I can read them. I’d never have thought they were about science.”

“Alchemy is a special category that exists between science and magic.” He explains. “In order to learn new things, I have to study both. However, getting good books from the outside is hard, and more often than naught, you find ones like this which is pure fiction pretending to be fact.”

“Wait. You know magic too?” She lights up even more. “Can you show me?”

“What did you think alchemy was?” He puts the book back on the shelf under the counter.

“A skill?” The swordswoman looks puzzled. “You know, like swordsmanship or carpentry.”

“Not quite. It’s a field of study with the intend of finding the truth about the world.” The alchemist corrects her. “Science has its limits, since it’s all about observation. Magic has its own limitations because it’s all about acting. Alchemy aims to combine these two practices.”

“I didn’t know that.” She sits back down in her chair. “And here I complain about kanji being difficult.”

“You can’t read?” He asks.

“No, no, I can. Just not anything difficult.” She corrects. “It’s just hard memorizing all of them. And there you are, reading an entirely different language.”

“You don’t need to memorize all of them.” The alchemist tries to comfort her a little. “The literacy rate here is so low you’d be able to get away with 500 characters. Of course, if you want to get a job with trading or the government, you’ll have to be able to read, but I can’t see you do that.”

“Lady Yukari, one of Yuyuko’s friends, said that you’d have to be able to read at least 2000 characters.” The gardener explains. “I’ve been studying hard to learn more.”

“You definitely won’t need 2000 characters. I don’t even think we have that many anymore.” He fishes up a piece of hard candy for himself. “A lot of them got lost after the barrier was erected, because no one used them. You might need to know them if you’re reading old books, but beyond that I really doubt it.”

“Mm.” She nods. “2000 seemed a little too much, so instead I just resolved to learn as many as I could.” She lies down on the counter. “I want to be as helpful you Yuyuko as possible. To repay her for everything.”

Unable to resist the urge, he places a hand on her head. “Trust me when I say Yuyu already appreciates everything you’re doing. Oh, that reminds me.” He dives under the counter, scavenging his book collection for a specific title. “This one.” He throws it on the table before he’s even gotten back up himself. “Scribes used to favor this book when teaching others how to read. I can’t tell how relevant it still is, but it’s all the help I can give right now.”

“I can borrow this?” She flips through the paperback.

“You can have it. I got done with it ages ago.”

“Really?” Her whole face lights up. “I’ll be sure to learn anything I can from it.”

“Hey, Renkin.” The other resident tsukumogami walks through the front door. “I’m going to need help with some work. Leather and engravings.” She spots the little ghost. “I’m not interrupting anything?”

“No, no. Not at all.” Youmu is quick to deny. “We were just talking.”

“What about work?” The alchemist changes the topic back on track. “Dis they just expand the contract without warning?”

“Yeah.” The umbrella unties the strap by her neck, causing her leather apron to fall and hang by her waist only, revealing her black tank top. She takes a seat next to the ghost and flattens out on the table. “This is the last time I deal with those guys, I swear.”

“We’re finally boycotting them?” The alchemist asks. “About time. These guys always do this.” He starts explaining to his guest. “They ask for an order, then once it’s done, they append to it, expecting it to be a rush order because they’re the current customer.”

“It’s not like we need the money either.” Kogasa notes. “We’re just doing this for fun. We can just let the other craftsmen deal with these guys. They’ll probably be more than happy for the extra business.”

“How much are we talking about?” The alchemist asks.

“His entire stable. All new equipment.” She pulls off her bandana, revealing her messy hair. “That’s like a dozen horses. Why do they need so many horses?”

All new equipment for a dozen horses comes to forty-eight horseshoes, twelve bridles, saddles and masks. An order of this size is going to take time, though it’s not like the shop is very busy, so it’s entirely doable for the two of them. The prize is going to be high as well, meaning they’d be able to afford some luxury afterwards.

But on the other hand, money is worthless to these youkai, so is it really worth the hassle of dealing with a couple of stuck up noble jerks?

[] Do the job, then cut off all future business.
[] Just drop the order. Whatever they’re offering, it’s not worth it.
>> No. 41202
[X] Do the job, then cut off all future business.

Uphold your pride as efficient workers, but cut them off. You can only eat a sheep once or however that saying goes.
>> No. 41204
[x] Do the job, then cut off all future business.
Asscovering is priority one.
>> No. 41207
[X] Do the job, then cut off all future business.

We do have some pride as craftsmen, but a customer who keeps screwing with you gets banned from the store eventually. That time just happens to be right after this job is done.
>> No. 41208
[x] Do the job, then cut off all future business.
>> No. 41216
File 154179016297.png - (703.59KB, 1023x724, Hard working not-dork.png) [iqdb]
41216
“Let’s just do it.” The alchemist states. “I hate them as much as you do, but we accepted the job. That means our honor as artisans are at stake here.”

“I don’t think people care if we drop that guy’s order.” The blacksmith argues back. “No one likes him. They just like his money.”

“I don’t want to do it either, but we are pros.” The alchemist argues back. “Why don’t we do this instead. Once the job is finished, we’ll take a trip to Old Hell.”

“You mean it?” She jumps up, causing the gardener to jump back in surprise. “How much ore can I bring back?”

“As much as you can carry.” He spreads out his arms. “I need to stock up on metallic essence too, so it works out.”

She clenches her fists, fighting to keep herself from pumping them into the air, yelling out in excitement. “Sorry, Youmu, but I’m going to have to steal him from you for a week or so.”

“No, it’s alright.” The phantom averts her eyes. “I have to study hard too.”

“Work hard, Youmu.” The alchemist. “I’ll drop by once we’re finished with this job.”

“Mm. See you, then.” Clutching her book, the little swordswoman runs out of the store, wearing a big grin.

“I never thought you’d actually make a move on her.” The blacksmith notes as soon as their guest has left the building.

“I finally decided to take Yuyu’s advice.” He replies. “And I’m happy I did.”

“I can see. You haven’t stopped smiling since the festival.” She ties the apron around her neck again. “Just let me know before hand when you two plans to, you know. It’d be a little awkward to be around when that starts.”

“You’d have to ask her for that.” The alchemist pulls out a thick book containing a record of everything related to the shop, like stock and transactions. “For the time being, I’m just following the flow.”

“She’s too passive. You’ll have to take the lead.” She pulls out the gloves stored in her apron’s front pocket and puts them on. “That is, if you want your relationship to go anywhere.”

“I’ll just go at my own pace, thank you very much.” He reads through the stock, figuring out how much leather he needs to buy. Using alchemy, it’d be possible to create top quality leather, but it takes a lot of effort to create organic matter.

“Just trying to help my bellowed brother out.” The blacksmith snickers. “I’ll just take from stock to begin with.” She declares, pointing back at their workspace.

“Sure. I’ll be going out for a bit, getting the materials.” He gives her a thumbs up. “A dozen horses. The man’s a lunatic.”

==========

“Finally.” The artisan puts his knives down. “Shaped, tanned, cut, treated and painted.”

“Are you done?” The hammering stops.

“It took four full days, but I’m done.” He falls to the chair behind him. “Twelve saddles, each uniquely decorated, and color coordinated as per the request.”

“Almost makes me wish I had a horse.” Kogasa absentmindedly says, trying to keep her soot covered hands off the newly painted saddle. “But just for a saddle like this, that would be a little too much.”

“How’s your work coming along?” He picks himself back up from the chair.

“It’s hard getting them just right.” She waves over her sworn brother.

The blacksmith has hanged up two long poles. One of the holds sets of finely polished horseshoes, while the other holds the rough ones which still need work. The so-called rough ones are still perfectly sellable to the average commoner, but nobility like their current customer demand higher quality.

“The rest of the rings for the bridle and masks are on the table, by the way.” She points out as they pass into the back room. “But as you can see, I’m almost done.”

The artisan picks up one of the finished shoes to examine. “Why anyone would want engravings on their horse’s shoes, of all things, is beyond me.” He hangs it back on the rack. “Nice pattern, though.”

“Yeah, engraving is harder than you make it look.” She picks up another one to show. “I had to start over with this one because I messed up.”

“The trick is to fully visualize it in your mind before you begin.” He notes. “Of course, if you mess up, you have to be willing to change your design to cover for that. Otherwise you have to start over.”

“That’s why it’s hard. If I have a design, I want to make that, not something else.” She tightens her bandana.

“But at this pace, we’ll be done tomorrow. The day after, at the very latest.”

“I know. I’m looking forward to the trip underground so much.” She clasps her hands. “I just can’t wait to get my hands on some raw quality ore.”

“Something wrong with the iron I make?” He crosses his arms.

The umbrella just laughs at his fake display of offense. “No, not metal. Ore.” She corrects him. “There’s just something about getting your hands on some raw ore, purifying it and forging it. All the way from start to finish.”

“Yeah, that’s a nice feeling. Not very productive, though, but it’s still nice to do occasionally.” The alchemist admits.

“Anyway. Back to work. The sooner we finish the better.” The blacksmith pumps her hands, filled with renewed vigor.

==========

“I’m so glad we’re done dealing with those guys.” Kogasa lets out an exaggerated sigh.

“Yeah. Could you believe that?” The alchemist pinches the back of his nose. “Trying to only pay for the saddles, claiming the whole thing should be a set.”

“It’s humans like that, that wouldn’t be missed if they suddenly disappeared.” The umbrella adds.

“That’s a dangerous line of thought, Kogasa. Especially for us.” He stops her. “Instead, just be happy we’re done with him. We got the full payment. Expenses and taxes considered, we’ll have plenty for a trip underground. Might even be able to visit a hot spring, get some quality sake and a fantastic enjoyment to unwind in.”

“Oh, it’s been ages since we last went to a hot spring.” She pokes her partner in the side. “I think I can guess who you want to attend as well.”

[] As long as Kogasa won’t mind, it’d be lovely if Youmu could join
[] The two of them worked hard, so they should enjoy this reward together

>>41207
>>41208
I can't really say you were late, since I never actually called the vote, but I'd already written a large chunk, so yeah, my fault. Still appreciate it, though.
>> No. 41219
[x] As long as Kogasa won’t mind, it’d be lovely if Youmu could join

Without a doubt.
>> No. 41222
[X] The two of them worked hard, so they should enjoy this reward together

Nope. Youmu got her alone time. Gotta at least give the rival a chance.
>> No. 41223
[x] As long as Kogasa won’t mind, it’d be lovely if Youmu could join

Dork in a hot spring please
>> No. 41225
[x] As long as Kogasa won’t mind, it’d be lovely if Youmu could join.

Full. Dork. Route.
>> No. 41226
[X] The two of them worked hard, so they should enjoy this reward together

Just the two of us.
>> No. 41227
[X] As long as Kogasa won’t mind, it’d be lovely if Youmu could join

Kogasa will feel bad otherwise
>> No. 41228
[x] As long as Kogasa won’t mind, it’d be lovely if Youmu could join.
>> No. 41230
5/2 for hot spring dork
>> No. 41232
File 154188171887.jpg - (1.17MB, 1200x1679, Clean Dork.jpg) [iqdb]
41232
“Of course, I’d love it if Youmu would join us.” The alchemist admits without hesitation. “The more time I get to spend with her around, the better.”

“You just want a chance to ogle at her body.” The blacksmith leans into his field of view. “You don’t need to hide that from me.”

“Whatever could you be talking about.” He steps around the topic. “I get so see her naked body every time we meet.”

“Wait. Really?” She runs a few steps ahead and turn around, so they can look at each other as they walk. “I didn’t know you two had already gone that far.”

“Of course. I mean, have you ever seen her little phantom with clothes on?” He’s barely able to keep a straight face as he delivers the line.

“Oh, ha, ha.” She follows her fake laugh with an actual snicker.

“I can’t deny it, though.” He gets back on topic. “A chance to see Youmu in her natural beauty is a thing to strive for.”

“Mm.” The umbrella agrees. “She’s a little treasure, that one.”

“I’ll need her to get a few days’ notice.” He says, unlocking the front door. “So how about we leave the day after tomorrow, on the weekend.”

“Works for me.” The blacksmith nods. “That will give me a chance to prepare a wagon for the ore.”

“Oi, don’t go overboard.”

==========

“Overflowing Sake.” Youmu reads the inn sign out loud. “Is that right?”

“Yeah. Strange name, I know, but it’s Oni we’re dealing with here, remember.” The alchemist notes. “If you ask them, they’ll tell you it’s because the springs are filled with sake flowing from a natural spring.”

“Is it?” The gardener asks hesitantly.

Might sound like a stupid question, but keep in mind this place was once used to extract gold from souls by burning them. A naturally flowing sake spring is more believable than you might think at first. Especially since one of these did exist at one point, until the Oni drank it all, which is quite impressive.

“It’s not.” The alchemist states. “I tried extracting some essence from the water last time we came here. Alcohol almost always yield water and poison essence. Oni brewed alcohol always yield more poison than water, but the water here yielded no poisons, thankfully.” He strokes his beard as he explains with pride. “The water here did yield some stone essence, so it’s high on minerals.”

“This one is so good.” Kogasa emphasize. “You’ll feel amazing afterwards.”

The alchemist slides open the huge doors, allowing the three of them to walk inside.

The Oni are practically giants. The average adult woman stands close to 260 centimes with the men reaching 310. While the Oni are the primary residents of the underground, they build their stuff so that smaller beings can still use them. Common courtesy, they say, since they moved in here while other species still inhabited the area, so the least they can do is consider them when building.

“Hey there.” The alchemist waves for the attention of the giant clerk.

The big man looks over the counter, adjusting his glasses. “Ah, surface dwellers.” He adjusts his seat, so he gets further down, making little difference, though the gesture is appreciated by the group. “Welcome to Overflowing Sake. How can I be of assistance?”

“We would like two rooms for the weekend.” The alchemist states. “With access to the bath.”

“Certainly.” He writes in the book on his counter. “Here we run the policy to put down a deposit when checking in, counting for half the payment. The remainder will be paid when you checkout.” He turns the book around, showing a breakdown of the prices.

There’s a weekend deal where dinner is paid for, on top of the usual free daily bottle of sake. Breakfast is an all you can eat buffet, paid for when separately. Lunch has a bunch of premade food on offer, ready for takeout. Dinner is a big meal, decided upon by the chef; the only warm meal on the list.

“Alright.” The alchemist signs the book. “By the way, the two of us,” he gestures to Kogasa, “we’re tsukumogami, so I hope it’s alright for us to carry around our real bodies, even into the bath.”

“As long as you don’t dirty the water too much or break anything, there won’t be a problem.” He picks up the bell sitting on his desk and rings it.

Meanwhile the alchemist picks out the money for the deposit. It barely takes a minute for the door leading further inside the inn opens, revealing a young Oni, clad in a local variant of a maid uniform.

“Could you show our guests to room 114 and 115?” He instructs the Oni maid.

“Of course. If you would please follow me.” She gestures them through the door.

The rooms the group has been given are big enough to easily hold ten people each. Obviously scaled for the Oni, though the included furniture is scaled down. It’s likely these rooms are assigned any non-Oni given they’re prepacked with small furniture.

The rear of the rooms has access to a shared balcony, spanning all the rooms on this side. The balcony has a great view over the lava lake used to power the whole Underground, painting the ceiling with a dim orange light.

Looking at the ceiling from the balcony, several holes and be spotted in the walls, some emitting light as they act as housing.

“The Underground really is an amazing place.” The alchemist notes. “Though it may look crude, the amount of effort it’d take to make everything work as smoothly as they do is astounding.”

“Maybe getting two rooms was too much.” The gardener notes, looking around the big room.

“They might be a little big.” Kogasa admits. “But we can’t all sleep in the same room. That’d be embarrassing, right Youmu?” The umbrella winks at her, very subtle.

The swordswoman blushes but doesn’t any anything.

“Anyway.” The umbrella claps her hands. “Why don’t we start with the main attraction. The bath.”

“Great idea. The trip here was long, so let’s wash the journey off so we can get in the right mood.” The alchemist agrees. “You two head in first. I’ll go talk to the chef, then hop in myself.”

“You got it.” Kogasa gives him a thumbs up before grabbing Youmu by the wrist and drags her along to the hot spring.

Having stayed at this inn before, the umbrella knows her way around and quickly drag the little ghost with her to the bath house. Being as excited as she is, to finally enjoy a real hot spring, as soon as she’s inside the changing room, she rips off her clothes leaving them in the floor and runs into the spring buck naked.

“Kogasa, wait.” The half ghost attempts to stop her, though in vain as she’s disappeared before the ghost even manage to say a word.

Accepting she got the short end of the stick, she starts picking up the umbrella’s clothes, fold them neatly and put them into one of the empty baskets, putting the towel that was already in the basket on top, so the blacksmith would easily be able to dry off afterwards, without getting all her clothes wet.

Once her friend’s clothes have been taking care of, she starts stripping herself. She wraps the towel around her chest and continues into the spring.

“What took you so long?” Kogasa asks, sitting in the far end of the big empty spring. “Hurry up and get in.”

“I had to pick up your stuff first.” The ghost protests. “Besides, shouldn’t we wash off before getting in?”

“We don’t need that here?” The umbrella dismisses her notion. “Taking care of that with magic is the standard down here since it’s such a huge part of their economy.”

“If you say so.” The phantom just accepts her friend’s word for it. “Should I get a towel for you before I get in?”

“Why?” Kogasa just asks.

“Well, because, you know.” The ghost blushes a little. “Because it’s improper to be naked around others.”

“But it’s just the two of us.” The umbrella smiles. “So hurry up.”

“Just us?” She walks around the edge, getting closer to her friend.

“Yeah. Did you think Renkin would join us?” The umbrella grows a smug smile. “Too bad today isn’t mixed bathing.”

“I didn’t,” The half ghost cuts herself short, not wanting to embarrass herself. Instead she just sits down in the red water.

“There’s no need to be embarrassed.” The umbrella rests her arms on the edge. “Everybody already knows.”

“What?” The ghost looks straight at the umbrella.

“That you like Renkin. It’s obvious, really.” She clarifies. “Obviously, he cares about you too.”

“When did you find out?” The half ghost grows bright red.

“One of the many times you just sit there in the shop staring at him with a smile.” The youkai looks at as she tries to recall the countless small signs that Youmu has been giving off for years now.

“It’s that obvious?” The half ghost sinks into the water, covering her mouth.

“Yeah, it is.” The umbrella jumps her from behind, giving her a naked hug. “But lucky for you, big sis here can give you all the advice you need. Such as,” she holds up a finger out in front so they both can see it, “you need to be a little more aggressive, otherwise you’ll never get anywhere.”

“That’s easy for you to say.” The half ghost complains, placing a hand on her small chest.

“Yeah, it is.” The umbrella admits, sitting back down by the edge. “I mean, considering we tsukumogami can change shape at will, we have that advantage over normal people.”

“Wait, what?” The little swordswoman looks back at her friend. “This is the first time I’ve heard that.”

“Yeah? Well, these bodies are just vessels we create to make it easier to move around in.” The umbrella spreads herself out, enjoying the space to it’s fullest. “Though there are things we can’t change. Like, I’m a woman. That’s something I can change, not that I would. But I’d never be able to create a male vessel.” Using one arm, she lifts her breasts out of the water. “I can freely change the size of these, though. Same below.”

“Yuyuko is a ghost, so I can understand that, but you too? That’s just unfair.” The ghost pouts.

Realizing she might not be boosting her friend’s confidence like she’d hoped, the umbrella changes tactic.

“That may be the case, but he still chose you.” She points out. “That’s why you should be prouder of what you have, because that’s what he wants. And he’s what you want, right?”

“Still.” The half ghost sinks back into the water. “Won’t he dislike it, if I suddenly get too aggressive?”

“If you get too aggressive? Sure, no one likes that.” Kogasa points out. “But being completely passive makes it look like you’re not interested.”

“But I am!” She yells out. “I mean, I just don’t know how to act around him. My mind gets all blurred and I end up just getting dragged along. Not that I dislike it.”

“Trust me, I know that feeling.” Kogasa states. “But nothing will ever come to you on its own. You’ll have to work for it. Be a little aggressive. Tell him what you want to do.” She sighs, relaxing further into the water.

“I don’t think I can.” The half ghost admits.

“I’m not telling you to jump at him wearing only lingerie, or anything like that.” The little gardener not ready for that image grows completely red by the mental image her friend has instilled in her. “Instead, start small. It’s late evening, you two sit alone in the workshop. What would you like to do? Talk? Play a game? Cook? Things like that.”

Rather than respond, the gardener just blows bubbles in the water, thinking about her friend’s words.

==========

Having left the spring first, Youmu got herself dried off and dressed, leaving Kogasa to enjoy the vast hot spring to herself. The umbrella insisted on staying a while longer, to fully unwind.

Heading back to their rooms, she finds the alchemist sitting by the oversized table, looking into the lava lake. He looks back, as the little swordswoman approach.

“How’d you enjoy the hot spring?” He asks. “The ones down here are just on a completely different level than the ones on the surface.”

Once more, Kogasa’s advice runs through her mind. And she’s right. If Youmu wants to take this relationship anywhere, she needs to do something, anything.

[] Hold hands Nononono. That’s too much. Last time was a one off. Her heart isn’t ready yet.
[] Lap pillow. As a reward for his hard work.
[] A little snuggling. Enjoy the view together.

I know. It's technically magma, not lava, since they're underground. I just want to call it lava since it's above ground underground. Plus Lava Lake sounds better than Magma Lake.
>> No. 41233
[x] A little snuggling. Enjoy the view together.

Hug the dork
>> No. 41234
[x] Lap pillow. As a reward for his hard work.
Youmu is the softest after all.
>> No. 41240
[X] A little snuggling. Enjoy the view together.

Hand holding is too lewd!
>> No. 41242
[x] A little snuggling. Enjoy the view together.
>> No. 41243
[X] Lap pillow. As a reward for his hard work.

For some reason Youmu and lap pillows just work together.
>> No. 41244
3/2 for snuggling

>>41243
It's those thighs. Those well toned thighs combined with her caring nature.
>> No. 41246
File 154195883012.jpg - (224.15KB, 700x840, Love.jpg) [iqdb]
41246
“Mm.” The half ghost agrees. “They’re nothing like the ones we have back home.” She takes seat by the corner of the table, right next to the alchemist.

“You have hot springs in the Netherworld?” He rests against the table, looking at the newcomer.

“Not exactly hot springs.” She corrects him. “They’re cold springs. But the longer you sit in them, the warmer they get, but only for you.”

“So, it’s like a localized hot spring?” He asks. “Sounds interesting.”

“They’re strange.” She shifts a little closer. “You know what this place is missing? A kotatsu.” She answers her own question.

“A kotatsu, you say.” The alchemist gets up and walks into the adjacent room they’ve rented. He comes back with the spare blanket. “This should do the trick.” He throws the blanket over the table.

With that done, he reaches inside his vest, extracting a few elements from the vials he always carries with him; one fire and three stone essence. Manipulating the elements, he places the fire in the middle, surrounding it with the stones before making the three stones spin around the fire. Once they’ve built up speed, he claps his hands together around them, and as he pulls the apart, a glass sphere containing a small flame is revealed.

“Tada.” He sings, as if performing a magic show. “Now we have a table with a blanket and a heat source.” He places the ball in the air where it remains stationary, making sure the floating spell works before pushing it in under the table. “Enjoy.”

The half ghost crawls under the blanket, and even though it was just put there, the heat is already spreading fast. She continues to shift her way under the makeshift kotatsu until she’s practically lying under it.

“This is amazing.” She notes blissfully.

“I’m glad you like it.” The alchemist says, crawling under the blanket to keep his feet warm.

“Hey.” The half ghost turns around so she’s looking out the balcony, though more importantly, away from him. “I know you know, but I just want to say it.” She takes a small break calm her blush. “I really like you.”

Completely caught off guard by her comment, the alchemist covers his face with his hand, not wanting to reveal the fact she made him blush. Something none of their friends has managed so far. “Me too, Youmu.” He says after a moment of collecting himself. “I really like you too.”

Unable to contain the sheer amount of joy welling up inside him, he ends up sitting there, grinning like an idiot, never removing the hand.

Youmu, on the other hand seems able to contain her excitement. That is until you look at the table where her phantom half has taken a seat, right above the fire orb. The little ghost lacks any form of inhibition when it comes to emotion, so just a single glance at its propeller of a tail should tell you anything you’d need to know.

Neither of them can gather the courage to say anything, but somehow, neither feels like it’s necessary to say anything else.

Kogasa came to peek at their progress but left them alone as soon as she felt the atmosphere in the room. After all, she wouldn’t want to ruin such a perfect scene. She did close the door, though, giving them some privacy.

After some time, the alchemist does manage the courage to place a hand on the little phantom. Even though it’s not physical, it managed to provide some resistance, keeping the hand on top of its little body.

Youmu responds by diving all the way under the table only to crawl out on the other side so she can sit next to the alchemist. But rather than leaning against the table, she leans into him, enjoying his warmth more than the kotatsu.

“It’s strange.” Youmu says, breaking the long silence. “My heart is beating harder than it ever has, but I still feel so calm.”

“Mm.” He answers, too distracted to listen.

“Can we stay like this for a while longer?”

“Mm.” He answers again.

The little half ghost shifts right up next to him, nestling into his light embrace. The alchemist responds by tightening his hold on her.

It’s true. Her little heart really is beating faster. He can feel it as she presses herself against him.

Somehow or another, the little gardener manages to fall asleep in his embrace, leaving him to put her to bed once again.


-----
It only dawned on me after I started writing, but the idea I imagined when I used the word snuggle is likely different than the idea I have, since the english language don't have a word for it. Look up the word "hygge" if you want an idea of what I imagined, since other people can explain it better than me.
>> No. 41247
>>41246
"Cozying up" would be a right translation, I think.
>> No. 41257
File 154204226529.jpg - (400.54KB, 1280x720, Hammer Dork.jpg) [iqdb]
41257
“Had a good night?” The umbrella asks as soon as the alchemist opens the door.

She’s been standing outside their room for longer than she’s willing to admit, waiting for her chance to start bullying her brother of choice.

“I had, that’s for sure.” He replies, closing the door behind him. “I’m not sure if Youmu has recovered, though.”

As soon as the little gardener woke up, she remembered how she felt asleep. Feeling the embarrassment rush over her, she just crawled under her blanket and became unwilling to leave.

The trick to dating Youmu seems to keep her in an excited mood. That’s when she feels the boldest. Unless you’d want to continue teasing her, which is easier when she’s shy.

“You two went at it that hard?” She snickers. “You fiend.”

“Oh yeah, it went on for several hours, until she passed out.” He explains. “We even had a perfect view over the lava lake.”

“With the doors open?” She looks confused for a second before sighing. “So, you didn’t do it. Even though I left you alone on purpose.”

“We did all we wanted to.” He argues back. “Just sitting down and enjoying each others companies was exactly how I wanted to spend that evening.” He motions her to start walking with him. “Besides, we did confess, even though that was already implied.”

“Really? How?” She gets that gleam in her eyes.

“Well, we said it. Then things got silent.” He admits.

“You’re not really a romantic, you know that?”

“You first figured that out now?”

They both let out a chuckle.

“Hey, as long as you’re happy, I won’t meddle.” The umbrella states. “Though I do plan on giving you two some room once in a while.”

“Much appreciated.”

The two of them walks to the main hall where they serve breakfast. They pay for their portions and bring them back them back to their rooms. The alchemist hands his partner one of the two trays he’s carrying, before sliding the door open.

Youmu still hasn’t crawled out from under her sheets.

He crouches next to the half ghost’s futon. “I thought you’d be hungry by now, so I brought you something to eat.”

Responding to the mentioning of food, her stomach decides to let out a loud growl, making its own desires known.

“Seems I was right.”

“No.” She protests from under the blanket. “It’s too embarrassing.”

“Ah, I see.” He places the tray on the floor. “Seems like she needs you, Kogasa. It might be that time.”

“It’s not.” The little half ghost shoots up from the bed, face burning bright red.

“Oh hey, it worked.” The alchemist smirks to himself.

Youmu looks out the door for Kogasa, but the umbrella has taken a step to the side to hide the fact she’s laughing.

“Go on, eat some.” He pushes the tray closer to her, and once again, her stomach demands food.

She picks up the tray. “You’re the worst.” She pouts, as she walks to the table.

“I love you too.” He continues to tease her.

The little woman seems to shrink even further, trying to hide how embarrassed she is, despite only making it more obvious.

Kogasa takes the chance to butt in, still carrying the two trays. She takes seat by the table corner, sitting between the two love birds, pushing one of the trays over to the alchemist.

“So, what’s the plan today?” The umbrella asks, taking a bite of her bread. “I want to go to the quarry as early as possible.” She glances over at the gardener.

The gardener looks back before realizing what Kogasa is trying to tell her. “I’d like to go sightseeing.” She states. “It’s my first time here, after all.”

Obviously, the alchemist would like to go with the little ghost, but he also needs some more metals. So, the question is, should they split up or move as a group.

[] Stick together
[] Split up

Originally planned to have this tagged on the last update, but I couldn't ruin the moment so fast.

>>41247
Yes and no. But the way I wanted to use it, yes.
>> No. 41259
[x] Stick together

Let's not make anyone feel unwelcome.
>> No. 41260
[x] Stick together
>> No. 41264
[x] Stick together

There will be time for lone time.
>> No. 41267
[x] Stick together

A quarry is a sight, right?
>> No. 41273
[x] Stick together
>> No. 41274
File 15421388916.jpg - (575.53KB, 900x1115, No good pic so have a kitty instead.jpg) [iqdb]
41274
“Then let’s start with the quarry.” Kogasa suggests. “Despite what you might think, it’s actually located at one of the highest points of this village.”

“Oh right, we got to see that at night, didn’t we, Kogasa?” The alchemist asks.

The underground obviously doesn’t receive light from the surface, so they have had create their own sun. The whole underground village exists on the inside of a flattened sphere, making the ground and ceiling more even. In the center there’s a pillar connecting the ground with the ceiling. At the halfway point on that pillar sits a giant amber crystal. This crystal pulsates light so slowly it mimics the day night cycle, though it doesn’t change with the seasons.

“The view from up there is amazing at night.” The umbrella comments. “Of course, they view of the city during the day is great too.”

“You’ll probably be able to pick out some landmarks you’d like to visit.” He adds.

“You don’t have to convince me.” The little gardener says. “I’ll go. Just promise I can get a chance to look around afterwards.” She asks, looking over at the alchemist.

“Of course.” He downs the last of his drink. “We just need to pick up some materials. After that it’ll be all fun and games.”

“Mm. We came here to relax, after all.” The umbrella adds. “It won’t take long, once we’ve picked out the ores we want.”

==========

“See, what did we tell you?” The alchemist asks.

Youmu is almost leaning over the railing, admiring the view. From here it’s possible to see practically the entirety of the underworld. Chireiden, the Palace of the Earth Spirits, stand prominently in one end, overseeing the whole of the underground, much like the quarry, but with less dirt and more stained glass. At the other end is the entrance to the underground; a wide staircase growing narrower the further up you go. In between these two landmarks stand countless small houses, build by the local Tsuchigumo. The houses carved into the walls were made by the Oni, though. There’s a hard line between the wall cutouts and the wooden buildings, which they seem to use as a wide road, though the angle might make it difficult to use for anyone who’s not an Oni.

“Remember to stay close to Kogasa once we go inside.” The alchemist notes, handing the umbrella his hammer. “She’ll keep you shielded, in case anything happens.”

“Are we expecting a cave in?” The swordswoman takes her eyes off the village.

“No, but it’s better to be prepared for the worst.” Kogasa says, giving her umbrella a twirl.

The three of them descend the quarry’s entrance, entering another open room after walking down a small hall. Well, small relative to the Oni. This room is supported by thick wooden beams and structures, lining the spiraling road down to the hole.

There are a few Oni on duty, planning out different ways to proceed. One of them looks up at the group arriving, giving them a friendly nod before getting back to work.

“They’re awfully calm about letting us walk in here.” Youmu notes. She expected more of a mining shaft than a big hole.

“I told them we’d be arriving.” The alchemist answers. “They’re also okay with us just taking the ore we need, since they’re here for the stone.”

“Isn’t the whole purpose of digging to get ore?” The gardener asks.

“In a mine, yes. You dig for ore, minerals or gems.” He answers. “A quarry is specifically to get stone. It’s a useful material, after all.”

“Interesting.”

“Where did your material stone came from?” He asks. “Thought that someone like me were melting stones together?”

“No. I’m not that stupid.” She pouts. “I just never thought about it.”

“There’s a good one here.” The umbrella points out. The ore she’s found is a large cluster of deep blue.

The alchemist places a hand on the blue ore and concentrates for a moment.

“Azurite.” He concludes. “Might take this one for myself, if you don’t want it.”

“No.” The blacksmith shakes her head. “I’m looking for something different.”

“Alright then.” Cracking his knuckles, the alchemist gets to work.

Pulling out a piece of chalk, he draws a circle on the ore, adding a triangle in the middle. A simple transmutation circle used by a difference branch of alchemy.

Placing his hand on it, he activates it, making it cut through the stone to separate the ore, which allows him to pull out of the wall

“The art of deconstructing and reconstructing.” He preempts the gardener’s question. “That is, the ability to break down any matter and put it back together however you want.” He drops the solid chunk of ore on the ground. “Depending on how you use it, it can be quite handy.”

“Why don’t you use it more, then?” She asks. “I mean, I’ve seen you make some pretty amazing things from what seems like nothing.”

“Creating something from nothing is impossible. Something will always be traded for the matter you create. That’s a founding rule of alchemy known as equivalent exchange.” The alchemist lectures her. “And for the question. Because it’s too easy. I like to create slowly create things, to take my time making sure every detail is perfect. Crafting is my calling after all, it’s the thing I was made to do.”

“Sometimes I forget you’re a tsukumogami.” The gardener admits. “So when you say things like ‘you were made,’ then it takes a second to understand.”

“And I sometimes forget the phantom is just as much you as your human body.” The alchemist admits. “Guess we’re even, then.”

“I think I found it!” Kogasa exclaims.

Like before, the alchemist examines the ore.

“Mithril.” He concludes.

“Just what I wanted.” She sings.

“Mithril? What do you want to do with mithril?” The alchemist asks, preparing another transmutation circle on the ore.

“That’s a secret.” She holds a finger to her mouth. “But I promise it’ll be great.”

After extracting the rare metal, the alchemist went around, scavenging other ores to break down and restock his supply of metallic essence, leaving only the azurite intact.

“Then we’re done here.” The he states, as they exit the quarry. “We have the rest of today for fun, since we head back home tomorrow.”

“Do you have anywhere you want to go?” The umbrella asks.

“Well.” The little ghost scratches her cheek. “I kind of, maybe want to try some Oni sake.”

“You drink?” The alchemist asks, somewhat surprised by this piece of news.

“Not a lot.” The ghost admits. “But Yuyuko does make me drink with her once in a while.”

“That old lady.” He can’t help but smile. “That will have to wait for last, Youmu. Someone your size will get knocked out before they even go through two cups.”

“Oni sake is strong stuff.” Kogasa taps the ghost in her side. “Besides, it’ll easier to take the next steps with a little help like that.”

With her best effort, the little swordswoman manages to suppress her blush.

“Bot beyond drinking, what did you want to see?” The alchemist asks. “Or do you just want to stroll around and soak in the atmosphere?”

[] Find a resonant. Get a taste of real Oni food
[] Youmu thinks she might have spotted a garden down here.
[] Just wander around
>> No. 41275
[x] Just wander around

A little early to eat, I think.
>> No. 41276
[x] Find a resonant. Get a taste of real Oni food
>> No. 41281
[x] Just wander around
>> No. 41282
Finally home. Calling it for randomly walking around.
>> No. 41286
File 154222368544.jpg - (356.90KB, 439x1191, Efe-ing Youmu.jpg) [iqdb]
41286
“Strolling around sounds nice, actually.” Youmu comments. “I don’t really have any place specific that I want to see.”

“The architecture down here is nice.” The alchemist comments as he takes his hammer back from Kogasa. “Distinct from the style they use on the surface.”

“Speaking of the surface.” The umbrella adds. “Don’t they have a dragon statue down here too?”

“The human village has a dragon statue?” The gardener asks.

“Oh yeah, it’s famous.” The blacksmith answers. “The kids love of cool it looks. The adults appreciate it’s weather prediction as well.”

“Have you never seen it?” The alchemist asks. “It’s right at the center of the village.”

“No, I’ve never been that far in.” The half ghost admits. “I’ve only needed to deal with the outer ring when I come to shop.”

“The workshop is in the middle ring.” The artisan notes.

“I know, but that’s the only store I visit when I go that far in.” The little phantom girl explains.

“Then let’s go see a dragon.” He concludes.

“I’m not sure if it actually is a dragon, though.” The blacksmith corrects herself. “I just know they have a statue.”

“Then let’s go see the statue.” He corrects himself.

With that, the three of them set off from the quarry.

==========

The atmosphere of the underground, despite what you might think, is not the full-on party time that most people would expect. The Oni drink, that’s for sure, and the many brands of alcohol they have can be smelled in the air. The Oni party, that’s undeniable, but they’re also hardworking, as can be attested to anyone walking through their streets. You’ll have a hard time spotting even just one Oni who’s doing nothing.

“Well, it’s not a dragon.” The alchemist notes, as they approach the statue. “I’m pretty sure that’s a catfish.”

“So instead of predicting the weather, it’s supposed to predict earthquakes?” Youmu asks.

“I think. But even so, they should have put a little more detail into it.” The artisan notes. “It’s a little too rough. Doesn’t mix well with the environment.”

The village center of the underground, where the statue has been erected has a fine brick road, carved and maintained to keep it at the same level, so there are few bumps in the road. The buildings around here all have that noble estate feeling to their design, though they’re relatively small after factoring in the Oni’s size.

“How would you have done it differently?” The gardener asks.

“Made it smoother, for one thing.” The artisan circles around the statue, getting a better look at the thing. “Too many rough spots. Maybe a wax finish to make it easier to clean.” He circles back around. “The pose too. It doesn’t feel alive.”

“I think it’s well made.” States the umbrella.

“Don’t get me wrong, it’s not bad in the slightest.” The artisan corrects himself. “Whoever made it clearly had skill. They just needed more time.”

Before any of them get a chance to reply, a thick beam of light shoots across the sky right above them, followed by the sound of breaking stone.

All three stand in shock trying to figure out what just happened.

“Is that normal?!” The ghost exclaims in a panic.

“No.” The alchemist states.

“Whatever it was, I don’t want to get involved.” Kogasa states.

“Agreed.”
“Agreed.”
The two responds in unison.

The three decides to skedaddle before they get caught up in anything. They’re here on vacation, to get drunk and bathe.

“What are we going to do now?” The alchemist asks once they’ve walked away a fair bit. “That kind of killed the mood.”

“Well, we’ve gone to the quarry already.” Kogasa says. “So, I’ve used my turn.”

“Same here.” Adds Youmu. “I’m sure I’ll be able to see more of the underground as we walk around.”

“Meaning, it’s your turn to pick.” Finishes Kogasa.

[] Curiosity killed that cat, so good thing none of them are cats, because he sure is curious about that beam.
[] He’d love nothing more than go back to the in and pick up where they left off yesterday.

Another small update, I'm sorry, but I've been busy.
On another note. I have enough ideas for a the rest of this trip, plus a few subplots I haven't started yet, but beyond that, I'm starting to run low on ideas. So if you have anything you want to see, do let me know and I'll look into it.
>> No. 41287
[X] Curiosity killed that cat, so good thing none of them are cats, because he sure is curious about that beam.

What's the worst that could happen? Nuclear bar brawl? Pshh.
>> No. 41289
[x] Curiosity killed that cat, so good thing none of them are cats, because he sure is curious about that beam.

Beams are so... unisex.
>> No. 41290
[X] Curiosity killed that cat, so good thing none of them are cats, because he sure is curious about that beam.

Saber class confirmed
>> No. 41292
[x] Curiosity killed that cat, so good thing none of them are cats, because he sure is curious about that beam.
>> No. 41295
>>41286
[x] He’d love nothing more than go back to the inn and pick up where they left off yesterday.
>> No. 41298
[x] Curiosity killed that cat, so good thing none of them are cats, because he sure is curious about that beam.
>> No. 41300
5/1 for beams
>> No. 41301
File 154231103931.jpg - (112.83KB, 1056x753, Gonna be eaten.jpg) [iqdb]
41301
“To be honest, I’m curious about the source of that beam.” He answers. “But I have a feeling I’m the only one.”

“Didn’t you just say you weren’t interested?” The umbrella protests.

“I did, but that was more out of instinct than anything else.” He argues back. “Now that I’ve calmed down, I have to admit I’m curious about what could have made such a thing.”

“Haven’t you heard? Curiosity killed that cat.” She continues to argue.

“None of us are cats.” He argues back.

The umbrella ruffles her own hair, creating a fake pair of cat ears. “I beg your pardon.”

“You can do that?” The phantom girl asks.

“We can partially shapeshift.” The alchemist runs a hand through his hair, creating a new set of ears for himself. “Although, things made this fast are only cosmetic. It’ll take longer to make them real.”

“Can I,” the half ghost asks cautiously, “Can I touch them?”

“Sure?” He crouches down so he little woman can reach.

Although still a bit hesitant, the little ghost reach for one of the ears. But to her surprise, it breaks off as soon as she touches it.

“Ah. I’m sorry.” She hurriedly apologizes. “I didn’t mean to.”

“What?” He looks up to see her hold the fake cat ear. “Oh that. I told you, they’re fake. Can’t even feel them.” He plucks off the other one. “Anyway, I think it came from the palace. Should we get moving, or do I go by myself?”

“I’ll go with you.” The half ghost states, having recovered from the small shock of ripping off an ear.

“That leaves me with no choice.” The umbrella shakes her head, removing her fake ears as well. “Lead the way, bro.”

==========

“It really did come from the palace.” The alchemist notes, as he looks over the gaping hole in the wall.

“It’s beautiful.” The ghost comments. “Is this what western buildings look like?”

“Don’t know.” He shakes his head. “My last master only reached western China before he died. I began my journey home after that.”

“I don’t believe we’re expecting guests.” A green clad youkai walks out the front door of the mansion. “I’m going to have to ask you to leave.”

“Oh, sorry. We didn’t mean to be in the way.” The alchemist explains to the newcomer.

“Surface dwellers?” The new cat girl phrases it as a question, but she’s already made the conclusion. No one else would bother with something so regular anymore. “Doesn’t matter. It’s better if you keep clear of the entrance until we’ve fixed the hole.”

“No, no. We just came because we were curious about that beam.” He explains. “We don’t actually have any business here.”

“I see, then please be on your way.” She states again.

“Though, looking at it, I think I could repair that in a couple of minutes.” He says. “For a price of course. Paid after the repair.”

The cat sighs. “I knew it would be something like this. Listen, we’re used to repairing this palace, so I’m thankful for the offer, but we’ll manage.”

“I see.” He gives her a polite bow. “Then excuse our accidental intrusion.”

He gestures the two girls to turn around and they start walking when yet another youkai joins the conversation.

“What’s holding you up, Orin?” The lady of the mansion steps outside. “We still have plenty of things to tend to.”

Before the cat gets to answer, the little lady continues.

“I see. Mister Tatara.” She calls out to the alchemist. “It’d help us a lot if we could borrow your service for a moment. You will of course be compensated.”

The fact the two Tsukumogami both chose the same family name before they ever met, is part of the reason they formed a family.

“Of course.” He turns around again. “I’ll only take a moment.”

“How did she know you guys’ name?” The phantom girl whispers to her friend.

“Allow me to introduce myself.” The little lady responds to the question. “I’m Komeiji Satori. As my name suggests, I’m a satori, a mind reader.”

“A Mind reader?” The little ghost hides behind her friend.

“Done.” The alchemist breaks their conversation.

While they were talking, he injected some stone essence into the wall, allowing him to repair the hole even though it’s on the second floor, by moving the essence up to the hole remotely.

And just as he’s about to walk back to his group, the wall is blown up a second time.

“Satoriii!” The raven yells as she escapes the hole, flying down to her master. “The wall is alive. It tried to eat me.” The bird hugs the much smaller woman, almost crying.

“Now, now, Okuu. Calm down.” Satori pats the bird on her arm, trying to calm her down. “The wall isn’t going to eat you. The good man over there was just repairing it.”

The alchemist gives the pair a little wave before getting back to repairing the wall once more.

“Mind if I ask what caused that beam from before?” Kogasa asks. “That’s why we came here after all.”

“That would be this little child.” The mind reader says. “At times she still let out too much power. I hope you’ll forgive her for surprising you.”

“Ah, well, of course.” The umbrella is caught slightly off guard by the sincerity of the satori’s request. “I mean it wasn’t that big a deal to begin with.”

“Done. Again.” The alchemist declares.

“Fantastic.” She lets go of the raven. “I would offer you some indulgences, however we’re currently a little too busy.” She pulls out a small stack of coins from who knows where. “Instead, I hope this will suffice.”

For comparison, the amount the noble paid for the rush order of horse equipment, is approximately one eighth of the amount offered by the young lady.

“I can’t accept that much.” The alchemist denies the payment. “This job was far too simple for me to demand anything much.”

“But you’re not demanding anything. I’m offering you this much.” The mind reader explains. “It may seem like a lot to you, but that is how much the repair is worth it to me.”

“In that case, I’ll accept it.” He reluctantly accepts the money, knowing she’ll continue to insist.

The two groups bow each other farewell and walk their separate ways.

“What am I supposed to do with all this money?” The alchemist asks. “It’s a ludicrous amount, compared to what we need.”

“Maybe drop it off as anonymous donations for the temple school over time.” Kogasa suggests. “That’ll put Keine at ease and give the kids the things they need.”

“Not a bad idea.” He pockets the money. “What now? What do you two want to do?”

“I could use a little time to relax.” Says the phantom. “It’s exciting to see all of this, but at this rate I’ll be exhausted when I come home.”

“Agreed.” The blacksmith adds. “Going back to the inn to get a good nap sounds nice right about now.”
>> No. 41309
File 154238539562.jpg - (610.06KB, 998x702, my last excuse for dork in a swimsuit.jpg) [iqdb]
41309
“You lose.” The umbrella sings, flipping the paper over as she starts to draw another grid.

“Why can’t I win?” The little ghost wracks her head trying to come up with any kind of idea.

“Because I’m the undefeated champion of tic-tac-toe.” Kogasa states, striking a pose.

“Only because she hasn’t figured out your trick yet.” The alchemist interrupts, taking a sip of the drinks they brought to the room. “Though, once she does, it’ll be nothing but ties.”

“Which still leaves me with more victories.” She argues triumphantly.

“Renkin. Help.” The ghost groans.

“That would be cheating, Youmu.” He takes another sip, ignore her plea for help.

“But she’s going to win all my snacks.” She continues to cry for help.

“And you agreed to bet them.” He lies down, watching the two girls play.

“I don’t want to play anymore.” She says, admitting defeat.

“Oh? Well, I guess I was winning a little too much.” The umbrella agrees. “There’s still some time before the baths open, though. What do you want to do until then?”

“Think you could make the kotatsu again?” The little ghost asks.

“Easily.” The alchemist gets back up again and goes to the next room.

Following the same process as yesterday, he creates an incased flame and sets it to hover under table.

As soon as it’s done, all three of them crawl under the table.

“We need to get one of these, back home.” The umbrella wishes.

“They’re easy enough to make, but I don’t think we have room for one.” The alchemist answers.

“But you would make one, if we had room?” She asks again.

“I would. It’s pure heaven to lie under these.” He admits.

==========

The phantom girl is looking through the other baskets in the changing room. Yesterday it took all her courage to enter the bath, thinking the alchemist would be there. Today she can’t muster the same amount she would need since she spent it all yesterday. So, she’s looking for a second towel, so she can cover both her chest and her legs, since the towels barely reach past the hips when tied around the chest.

Her phantom half has gone ahead of her and is already floating around in the water with the two naked youkai.

“Remember, you have to act surprised when she enters.” The blacksmith instructs her brother in a loud voice. “She’s putting in effort to be pretty, I bet.”

“Wouldn’t that just make her more self-conscious?” He asks in an equally loud voice, making sure the little swordswoman can hear it.

“Yes, yes, but girls love it when the man they like pay attention to them.” She continues to give him questionable advice. “So, make sure she knows you’re watching.”

“But I’m always watching.” He admits.

“Right, but you need to make sure she knows.”

“Could you two stop.” The little ghost yells from the changing room.

The two youkai just chuckle, knowing they got the reaction they wanted.

The little ghost finally joins them, having found a way to tie her towels in a way where they don’t get in the way of each other, while not revealing anything. She walks along the edge, getting in the water on the other side of the umbrella, so there’s some space between her and the alchemist.

The blacksmith pokes her brother in the side. “You didn’t react on her entry.” She whispers.

“She knows I noticed.” He whispers back.

The umbrella just sighs, getting back into her relaxed position.

“Aren’t you two embarrassed?” The ghost asks, keeping her eyes fixed ahead on the empty spring. “By being naked around each other, I mean.”

The two youkai take a look at each other for a second before shrugging it off.

“Not really.” The alchemist answers.

“Me neither.” The umbrella adds.

“After all, these aren’t our real bodies.” He leans back against the edge, resting both his arms on it. “Of course, we can feel through these bodies as if they were the real deal, which is why we can enjoy nice baths like this.”

The little ghost glances over at the blacksmith, getting a good look at her since she was too embarrassed yesterday.

Beyond her endowment, which she highlighted yesterday, Kogasa has a fair bit of muscle built up. Unlike the little swordswoman, the blacksmith doesn’t have many muscles that stand out, though they’re clearly there if you look. Youmu, on the other hand, has built up enough muscle to where they’re always visible, thanks to her training with the sword, though they’re still subtle enough to not stand out from her tomboyish frame.

The phantom’s gaze continues over to the alchemist.

Likewise, he too has a lot of well-defined muscle, likely as a result of working with his hands every day. Sure, he’s not a walking bundle of muscle, but he’s above average compared to the men Youmu have seen.

“Youmu.” The alchemist calls out to her. “You’re staring.”

“Sorry.” She quickly looks ahead to get his eyes off him. “How did you know? You weren’t even looking.” She asks before sinking into the water a little, trying to hide.

“Have you forgotten what I eat?” He asks, without even looking at her.

“No, you,” she starts to answer, but when the fact hit her, she instantly grows bright red and turns away, trying to hide it.

The alchemist chuckles in response to her. “You’re too easy, Youmu. But that’s part of why you’re so cute.”

She flinches at the last word. “Stop teasing me already.” She pouts.

“Sorry. But it’s just so easy, that’s it’s hard not to tease you a little.” He says, unable to hold back a smile. “But we’re getting real Oni sake after this, so that should make up for it.”

“Then I’ll allow it.” She says after a few seconds. “But only a little.”

==========

“This is the one I’ve prepared.” The alchemist says, presenting a bottle with ‘Shojo’ written on the label in big characters. “Authentic Oni sake.”

“Isn’t the flask a little small?” Kogasa asks.

“This should be plenty for just the three of us.” He answers.

Youmu, staying seated by the makeshift kotatsu fidgets a little as she eagerly awaits her share.

The alchemist places three cups on the table and pour one for all of them.

“Cheers.” Kogasa raises her cup before downing it without giving the rest a chance to follow.

Renkin downs his too, and Youmu tries to follow suit but starts coughing after the first mouthful.

“Easy there.” The alchemist reaches out to help her. “It’s strong stuff, after all.”

“I noticed.” She coughs a little more. “I just didn’t expect it to be this strong.”

“What do you think this taste is?” The blacksmith asks, examining her cup like it’ll give her the answer. “Cherry?”

The phantom girl tries to drink it again, but slower this time.

“Can’t put my finger on it.” The alchemist answers.

“Either way, it’s tasty.” Kogasa declares, pouring another cup for herself. This time, instead of drinking it with her vessel, she lets her real body drinks it.

Like you might probably have figured out, a tsukumogami’s vessel doesn’t require sleep or food to survive, since it’s fueled by the main body. Consequently, the vessel remains unaffected by things like lack of sleep, or poisons like alcohol. For a Tsukumogami to get drunk, they must drink with their real bodies.

The alchemist, lacking a mouth on his real body, has no way to get drunk, but he still enjoys the experience of drinking with friends. Plus, he gets to taste all the alcohol instead of getting too numb to taste anything.

The blacksmith on the other hand, is an experienced drinker. Though, when she gets drunk, she tends to get more energy while revealing more of her true nature.

Then there’s Youmu. She may drink with Yuyuko occasionally, but she has no real experience with alcohol, which is why the alchemist chose a milder sake, so she’d be able to enjoy drinking as well.

However, it’s barely been five minutes since they started, and she’s already showing signs of being tipsy.

Pouring another cup, Kogasa decides to suggest another game to play. “How about truth or dare?”

[] That sounds dangerous, maybe it’s not the best idea
[] One of them will stay sober, so it should be okay
>> No. 41310
[x] One of them will stay sober, so it should be okay

I like where this is going.
>> No. 41311
[x] One of them will stay sober, so it should be okay
>> No. 41315
[x] One of them will stay sober, so it should be okay
>> No. 41316
[x] One of them will stay sober, so it should be okay
>> No. 41321
Calling it 4/0 for drunken party. What could possibly go wrong?
>> No. 41324
File 154247667840.jpg - (141.41KB, 846x1200, Kissu.jpg) [iqdb]
41324
“Sounds fun.” The ghost leans in over the table.

“I’m game.” The alchemist joins in.

“Me first, then.” The umbrella states, downing the cup she just poured. “Ren, truth or dare?”

“Truth.” He answers, not feeling like he has anything to hide.

“What’s your honest feelings towards Yuyuko?” She smirks.

“A trustworthy old friend who likes to make sexual advances towards all her friends.” He answers honestly.

“Mm.” The umbrella agrees. “She’s a bit of a pervert. But I like her.”

“Youmu.” The alchemist takes his turn. “Truth or dare.”

“I’ll take truth, too.” She answers.

“What’s your opinion on Yuyu?” He asks.

“Aunt.” She blurts out. “She took care of me like the other orphans, even though I still had grandpa.” She starts smiling. “I’m really thankful, and I wanna make her happy.” She pushes herself up from the table. “Kogasa.” She passes the torch.

“Guess I’ll go with the flow and take truth as well.” She pours another cup.

“Have you ever kissed someone?” The ghost gets straight to the meat of the game.

The umbrella stops her pour. “Have I ever kissed someone? That would be a yes.” She finishes her pour. “I’m not really picky when it comes to partners.”

“How lewd.” The ghost half turns a light shade of red.

“Then, I’ll ask back. Truth or dare?” The umbrella asks the ghost.

“Uh.” She quickly glances over at the alchemist, who’s watching the two with the same smile he always has. “Truth.” She states after a second.

“Then, have you ever kissed someone?” The umbrella asks, putting as much of a tease into her voice as she can. “Of course, I don’t mean those little pecks on the cheek, either.”

The ghost’s shade of red grows a little more crimson. “I have.”

“Wait, really?” The blacksmith drops the snack she was eating, one she won earlier on the night. “Who?”

“No.” The ghost folds her arms. “My turn.” She looks at Kogasa.

The blacksmith rests her arms against the table. “Dare.” She accepts the challenge.

This is turning out about how the alchemist would have expected it, so he just leans back with another cup and enjoys the show.

“Uh, then,” the ghost hurries to try and think of something, since she didn’t expect her friend to actually pick the dare. “Then I dare you to take off your underwear right here.”

Judging by the smug look on the swordswoman, she clearly expects it to be too much for her friend and that she’ll skip ahead to the punishment. Evidently, she’s forgotten their conversation in the bath just an hour ago.

The blacksmith reaches beneath the kotatsu, pulling up her skirt enough to undo her side-tie. Using her other arm, she lifts herself up enough to pull it. She dangles it in front of the ghost, to show she actually did it, before throwing it to the side.

The gardener gapes in disbelief. Not just because she took off her underwear, but because she has the courage to wear side-tie, something she herself would never be able to muster the courage for.

“Now then, you’re going to tell me who took your first kiss.” The umbrella threatens playfully.

“No.” The ghost continues to deny.

“Then perhaps I should dare you to strip too?”

The ghost frowns, thinking thoroughly about what would be more embarrassing; stripping before the person she loves, or admitting her first kiss.

“Dare.” She states, hoping to hide the fact she had a crush on one of the other orphans.

“Oh boy.” The blacksmith rubs her hands together. “Then drink this in one go.” She pushes her cup over to the ghost.

“I don’t that’s a good idea.” The alchemist interjects.

Albeit a little too late, since Youmu has already started, holding her breath and doing what she can to hold back her coughing.

She drops the cup on the table, trying to place it, wearing a full-face blush now. She takes a moment to clearing her throat from the burning alcohol, wiping a tear in between.

“Dare.” Kogasa states, before even allowing the ghost to say anything.

“Kiss another person in this room.” She blurts out. The alcohol is clearly starting to take effect now.

The umbrella looks at her brother, asking for permission with her eyes. The alchemist just shrugs it off.

Letting her tongue hang from her mouth, the umbrella crawls over the table, wearing a big grin as she approaches the little swordswoman.

“Wait” is all the protest the ghost gets to say before the umbrella locks lips with her.

Youmu tries to draw back to protest, but Kogasa decides to be a little aggressive and follows her, not allowing their lips to part even for a moment. Not being able to extend herself further, the ghost falls to the ground with the umbrella lying on top.

Finally, the umbrella breaks apart from her, allowing the little swordswoman to breath once again.

“Tastes like strawberry.” She notes, rolling over so she’s not sitting on top of her friend. “Did that satisfy your dare?” She teases.

Youmu is unable to answer, however, as she’s busy regaining her breath. Instead she covers her face, trying to hide a blush no one would be able to see because of how red her face has become as it is.

“So, now that I’ve shown you how you do it, it’s your turn.” Kogasa reveals her master plan with this game. “I dare you to kiss Ren.” She empties what was in Youmu’s cup, since she drank from hers.

The little phantom looks at Kogasa for a moment before turning her gaze to the alchemist, who’s just been sitting back, still enjoying the show.

She gets up enough to crawl her way to him. Trying to imitate Kogasa, she places her hand on his shoulder to push him down, but she instead falls against his shoulder, unable to support herself.

The alchemist sits there for a moment, watching what she’s going to do next. He places a hand on her back to get a feel for her breathing. It’s calm.

“She’s fallen asleep.” He concludes.

The blacksmith starts laughing. “I expected her to be a weak drinker, but I didn’t think she’d just pass out.”

As if on cue, the blacksmith faceplants into the floor as well, going completely motionless.

That’s when the umbrella, as in her real body, push off the wall to stand up. She looks at the alchemist with the one stoic expression she can in that body, before hopping over to her vessel. She gives it a good lick, expecting something to happen. Seeing as nothing does happen, she decides to lie down next to her vessel and go to sleep.

It appears Kogasa’s real body drank too much, and when the effect finally kicked in, she lost connection with her vessel. The vessel is like a puppet after all and needs to be controlled. If the Tsukumogami can’t concentrate enough, or if they get too far away, the connection to the vessel is lost.

That game went pretty much as the alchemist had expected. The kissing at the end was a surprise, though it led to another great meal.

He picks up the sleeping ghost, still clinging to him, and gently pushes her under the kotatsu, making sure she’s lying in her side, just in case. He pulls out a blanket for the umbrella, packing her in nicely.

With the two girls taken care of, he walks to the other room to go to sleep himself.
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