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File 154614013222.jpg - (179.36KB, 700x840, buddhistballs.jpg) [iqdb]
41628No. 41628
Thread 1: >>41094


[x] To spar.
 [x] Loser has to sleep at the opposite abode.

I strode back out, into the open. She wouldn’t get out of those habits on her own, so I decided to shake this up. Byakuren waited by the trees.

I turned and faced her, resting my left hand on my sword. Seiga didn’t help, but I still had one card up my sleeve. I threw my right hand out, shaku pointed at Byakuren. “We’re here to duel.”

She stepped out of the shade. “Excuse me?”

I shrugged my shoulders and let my right hand descend to my side. “We’re not reaching each other through conventional means. So, I’ve decided we need to speak in a more common language.”

She cocked her head. “Violence?”

“Magic bullet duels.”

She shook her head as she rolled her shoulders. “I can accept that. What are your terms?”

“Our beds.”

She froze, turning pink. “Excuse me?”

“The loser must rest in the winner’s abode. We’re companions now, after all, so we ought at least to do that much.”

She stared back, a slant to her eyes. “I think you want to sleep here.”

“Oh ho. You’ve got some fire now.”

She shook her head, face still as she balled one hand into a fist, which she pointed at me. “How many cards?”

“As many as you have.” Or in other words, the fight would continue, all out, until someone wore out or gave in. A choice normally reserved for intense, almost desperate encounters. Or extreme workouts, as in this case.

“So, you do want to sleep here.”

I growled back, half-playfully. “I’ll still win, darling.”

Lights gathered around us both as I swallowed my fears. Byakuren was savvy, but not as proficient as I in the social sphere. Yet in direct, one-on-one combat, the tables turned. I lifted off, into the air, my cape fluttering as I ascended. Byakuren hung below, hovering barely above the grass. Her head flitted between me and the temple.

I had beaten her almost as often as she bested me. Almost. And yet, despite the odds, I had no intention of suffering even this embarrassment here. I would win.

Byakuren fired off a volley of mixed, large and small, blue orbs. I glided out of the way, only to find her retreating away and into the sky.

Cross, I pursued her, right into a solid wall of large blue balls with smaller tails. One of the tails clipped me as I slipped through. I grunted through its sting, but otherwise shrugged it off.

I fired off my own volley of golden arrowheads, wide and tightly packed, as I wove through her own bullets. This would have come across as a spectacular show of fireworks at night, as very few natives commanded the level of firepower we wielded. But even as I wove between the heavy blue spheres and their deceptive tails, I only found myself wondering who would be the first to start this battle in earnest.

Then, in a flash, Byakuren had surged across my vision in tight, impossibly quick zig-zags. I lurched back, anticipating the utter swarm of tiny bullets that followed. She chose well, too. My talents gave me an edge in baiting out and misdirecting aimed shots, but these floated at random. Perhaps we’d fought a few too many times. She stopped, almost within arm’s reach before floating back.

She revved up for another run.

[ ] I kept my distance, leaving my options open.

[ ] I pressed in close at the next lull.

[ ] I fired off my own card.

[ ] Write-in.

Votes End:
Quit livin' in the past

Expand all images
>>No. 41629

Votes End:
Time remaining: ::Timer ended at: 2019/01/01(Tue)19:00

>>No. 41631
[X] I kept my distance, leaving my options open.

I don't know the matchup, but in AoCF I usually have more luck as shooty Miko than punchy Miko.
>>No. 41632
[X] I kept my distance, leaving my options open.
>>No. 41633
[X] I fired off my own card.

I feel like we should respect her choice to start off with a powerful spellcard by reciprocating with one of our own. That, you can't just sleep on 「Superhuman - Byakuren Hijiri」like it's a fodder spellcard.
>>No. 41634
[X] I pressed in close at the next lull.

Go in and get some pressure going!
>>No. 41635
[x] I kept my distance, leaving my options open.

This will be rough. But good for the relationship. I hope.
>>No. 41654
File 154656067180.png - (537.16KB, 800x578, danmakufight.png) [iqdb]
[x] I kept my distance, leaving my options open.

I floated back as the swarm approached, flicking my head left and right, up and down. I shifted, barely, as I watched the gaps fan out or fill in. Byakuren shot through our impromptu battlefield again, now zig-zagging sideways. The first swarm had barely begun to ebb as her jumps toward and away from me conjured up the next.

I kept my own golden bolts flying out from my body but kept my cards in reserve. Much of our battles lately had become games of chance to me. Do I rush in early, betting I’ll overwhelm her, or wait for better opportunities, hoping one will come before I tire? Or do I do something strange, assuming it will surprise her at least enough to overcome my resulting vulnerability?

I often command the tactical edge, but time favored her impressive stamina.

She fired through another zigzag, now zipping away from me. I kept moving, hair’s breadth at a time, but my joints had grown tight. It was a shame that she had no need to dodge when bolting back and forth like this, as it left my openings only to the short lulls between such bursts.

Nothing landed, of course. It would have been a miracle to catch someone of our experience out during such tiny windows with only common fire. Even for our own brand of ‘common’ fire.

I squeezed through a pair of tight bullets that wandered close, barely slipping my gut between them. I dared not lose. Our first night would land where I ruled, damnit. Not in her testament to utopian tunnel vision.

Our first night, under the same roof. Possibly in the same bed. I shook my head, wobbling through a bullet corridor to a nearby gap. The rumors would last well after our union ended. A bullet grazed my ankle, bringing me back to the fight before me.

A near-solid wall of meandering bullets approached. I flung my eyes around, failing to find any hole I could squeeze through. I floated back, hoping for one to open before they hit. The bullets followed, never wandering far enough to slip between. Their light filled my eyes as I drifted as far back as I dare—Byakuren was a dangerous opponent to lose track of—before an opening finally appeared.

Too far away. I lunged to the side, but the bullets came too quick, their heat washing over me long before I…

The wall came, then faded away. The card had ended just before they hit. A thinner host of bullets followed behind, one I had no trouble keeping between. The thoughts still tugged at my mind. My mind had returned to the battle at hand, but I couldn’t count on it remaining here. Some of the very worries that had kept her so distracted the past few hours had now seeped into my own head.

Would we go shopping together? Training? We would no doubt spend quiet nights alone together. What would we even… No. I had to end this fight soon.

Flowery patters appeared behind her as the next wave of bullets soared toward me. Thin, faint lines shot out, soon to bloom into irritating lasers.

[ ] I responded with lasers (and talismans) of my own.

[ ] I brought subtle, delayed waves to bear.

[ ] I hit her with pure bullet spam.

[ ] I closed the distance.

[ ] Write-in.

Votes End:
Time remaining: ::Timer ended at: 2019/01/05(Sat)19:00

>>No. 41655
[x] I brought subtle, delayed waves to bear.

Close and personal? That's her forte.
>>No. 41656
[X]I re-purposed the captured spellcard
-[X]Star Divine Sign 「Superhuman of Seventeen Articles」

Pulling a Marisa is a surefire way to surprise her. Just hope our body can take it.
>>No. 41657
[x] I brought subtle, delayed waves to bear.
>>No. 41658
[X] I brought subtle, delayed waves to bear.
>>No. 41663
It looks like I might get a bit busy this month, slowing updates to about a weekly basis in a worst-case scenario (hopefully). A best-case scenario looks like about twice a week. That said, there should still be one coming today, depending on your time-zone.
>>No. 41664
File 15469857279.jpg - (148.52KB, 800x600, closeenough.jpg) [iqdb]
[x] I brought subtle, delayed waves to bear.

Her lasers had barely flared to life when I called out my own card. A bit of a hidden treasure. A secret jewel.

A sphere of bullets flowed out from me as a vast, messy field of similar spheres faded, almost, into being. As one, they revolved around me, forcing Byakuren to move. She slipped between the expanding sphere even as the field of bullets flared to life, then faded back out as the next sphere rippled out.

The next field lurked as well, now revolving in the opposite direction. Byakuren flinched but followed suit. And here the chaos of danmaku rose to the surface.

She moved, jiggling right and left, which in turn jostled the bullets pouring out from her. Her beams had faded off, but that still lead to a chaotic spray coming my way. So, I jostled and twisted to avoid her barrage, which in turn shifted the field of bullets that orbited me.

It was an almost pretty mess of twisting, shifting, and jiggling as we bobbed and weaved around each other’s changes in pattern. Byakuren had to work quite a bit harder as she now stared down the barrel of superior firepower, but she held out better than I did under her card.

So, I changed things up, just a little. Much of these battles came down to what you brought in. Cards had to be created, consciously or otherwise, beforehand. These cards consistently followed certain rules, such as allowing escape for a sufficiently skilled contender and displaying some sense of the user’s history or personality.

These cards, once created, could not be changed in the heat of battle. But they did not dictate every detail. Against someone like Seiga or Eirin, I might speed my cards up. It exhausted me faster but made them difficult for more tactical opponents to keep up with.

But speed and reflexes were her domain.

So, I slowed the next wave down. I suppressed it. The next spherical burst came out sluggish, easy for Byakuren to find a hole in, but she held back. She slowed down herself, gliding almost with the wind. Then she startled.

Her head flicked to the left and right. Even her bullets came out slow as she realized. By suppressing the card, I made the coming wave almost invisible. Her bullets came back in force, even as she flitted around the field, trying to pick out a safe spot.

Fully invisible bullets would have been illegal, of course.

The swarm appeared, blasting into her back but throwing her into a gap as they spun around me. She followed, rattled but focused. Good. I had a bed to visit tonight and it wasn’t here. She slipped through the sphere just as the wave died down.

My next sphere fired out, slow once more. She practically ignored it as she floated through the faint lights. The swarm ignited once more, not touching her. But it did distract her, letting a bullet from the sphere clip her.

I fired off a couple more waves, which she dodged flawlessly, so I ended the card. I had taken the lead, commanding a full hit over her, but I had to finish this before I tired.

Her bullets thinned out as she warmed up her next card.

[ ] I interrupted her with waves of ‘sticky’ bullets.

[ ] I brought blinding light to the battlefield.

[ ] I switched from arrows to knives, but kept my cards close.

[ ] Write-in.

Votes End:
Time remaining: ::Timer ended at: 2019/01/10(Thu)19:00

>>No. 41665
[x] I interrupted her with waves of ‘sticky’ bullets.

Keep her off balance
>>No. 41666
[X] I interrupted her with waves of ‘sticky’ bullets.
>>No. 41667
[X] I switched from arrows to knives, but kept my cards close.
>>No. 41668
[X] I brought blinding light to the battlefield.
>>No. 41689
File 154752257785.jpg - (158.77KB, 800x544, fallingstars.jpg) [iqdb]
[x] I interrupted her with waves of ‘sticky’ bullets.

I didn’t give her a chance. Barely out of the first card, I fired off another. She blinked, once, at the vast wave of bullets forming behind me. I felt a sense of nostalgia as the force rippled through my body, popping more of them into existence. This was final card I’d used against the very maiden who got us into this mess.

I let go, unleashing them in a staggered, uneven mess. One that barreled forward, right in her direction. This formed a field not unlike the ones I conjured last time. A field she dodged through almost flawlessly. But that was fine.

With a flick of the wrist, this swarm changed, cooling down in both speed and luminosity. The darker, slower bullets now flowed directly toward her. They too missed. I fired off another wave, as I warmed up the twist to this card.

But Byakuren chose not to abide my pressure. Just as I had my third wave readied, she activated a card of her own.

That flowery backdrop still behind her, four great, red beams lanced out, pushing her back before they dissipated. Not one landed, but my stomach fell. That was a near-perfect choice for interruption.

A second later, long chains of small, angular bullets streamed out from the glowing frame behind her, undulating as they approached. Some came directly for me while others pushed out in flanking streams, limiting my escapes.

My own wave fired off, bright and quick like before, but with a twist her card would, gratefully, do little to help. The might of her card was the variety of fire, not the invulnerabilities or density of her earlier card.

As my wave reached her, its nearest bullets flashed dark and slowed down.

The first addition to Byakuren’s card now appeared in the form of red bullets, both large and small. But even as I jumped between them, a small cluster of dark bullets built up around her, closing off many of her options. And yet she slipped through them, nudging her streams closer to me.

I floated away, firing off my next wave. More bullets flashed dark, limiting her movements again as I ducked through the growing horde of red bullets and blue streams. I pushed my card, urging the next wave out faster. Adrenaline coursed through me as I slipped through a cluster of red. My great, white balls kept flashing out near Byakuren, penning her in more and more.

Then her red beams returned, firing out and penning me in as well. And now, like the undulating blue streams, they moved about, rotating in their own narrow cones. Which jittered, in turn, as she shifted through the dark bullets around her.

One such bullet clipped Byakuren, pushing her into a nearby cluster of bright orbs, turning them dark and constricting her further.

And in the process of watching her, I skipped around a large red orb, only to get clipped by a smaller neighbor. I fired off one more wave, sweat now beading on my skin. We’d both pushed ourselves far harder and faster than usual. Idly, as I squeezed myself between a string of small reds, I wondered if she suffered from distractions like what afflicted me earlier.

My card ended with no further hits I could detect. Her own fire continued, though somewhat more stable now.

I breathed heavy, readying my next card when I slipped a hair’s breadth too close to the streams. It wobbled, clipping me again.

I grunted as I fired off one last card. Something simple and straightforward. Four consecutive spheres thick with bright yellow bullets fired out from me as her card ended. Only for one of her red giants to strike my gut. I teetered, barely airborne, as my sunburst expanded, still sailing toward her.

She wobbled herself, almost meandering through the air as her card died down. I could hold out for maybe a moment or two, praying my bullets would down her first, or I could bow out, surrendering my bed in return for a more dignified exit.

[ ] Hold On.

[ ] Surrender.

[ ] Write-in.

Votes End:
Time remaining: ::Timer ended at: 2019/01/17(Thu)01:00

>>No. 41690
[X] Surrender.

I guess we should start packing for an overnight stay, then.
>>No. 41692
[x] Well we DID agree to as many card as we have.

You give me a write-in. I make a Mystery Box.
>>No. 41693
[X] Hold On.

Gotta play to win, everyone is waiting for us back home!
>>No. 41694
[X] Hold On.

Never give up, never surrender!
>>No. 41695
[X] Surrender

She outmatches us in terms of stamina. If we haven't managed to shoot her down by now, it's better to go ahead and take the loss.
>>No. 41696
[X] Hold On.

Until the bitter end.
>>No. 41697
[X] Surrender
Because I want to see how Shou reacts to us spending a night in the temple
>>No. 41732
File 154811452188.jpg - (187.73KB, 930x626, toyojiri spark.jpg) [iqdb]
[x] Surrender.

I sighed and ceased fire, descending. Byakuren took the hint and eased her fire off as well, floating closer. I groaned as I touched down inside a dense cluster of trees. I rubbed under my earmuffs, between my great tufts of hair. I almost had it, certainly. Just a few more moments.

But I couldn’t be certain how many moments. How many it would take, or how many I even had. The point was to shake her out of this useless stupor, anyway. On that count, I…

She touched down, walking close, her eyes neither wide open nor especially narrow. Guarded, I would call it. “Are you sure you didn’t just want to sleep here?”

I groaned, stretching out my hands. “I’ll get you next time.”

Her desires had shifted, but only subtly. A mess still tangled her head.

I sighed again, long, loud, and a bit melodramatic this time. “You win, Byakuren. We sleep in the temple tonight.”

She smiled, her eyes open now, but her lip curled. An expression trapped between open happiness and the competitive relish of victory. Then, just like that, the smile vanished.

“Why did you call this duel?”

I turned away, looking back to the temple. I had to squint to identify any distinguishing traits other than its size. I chose to start walking back, slipping out of the trees to a small side road. It was more to keep the blood flowing than to travel. Byakuren jogged up beside me.

She stared at me, sour. I maintained a neutral visage.

“How did you feel?”

She folded her arms, looking down. “I’m flustered. What are you thinking? Insisting we get close, then fighting?”

“It’s what we know. It’s…” I paused, glancing to the sky. I shook my head, resuming my march. “You needed to clear your head. Maybe we both did.”

“Your methods are too violent.”

“Would you rather we sniped at each other in public?”

She snorted. “If you’d be so kind as to take them.”

“Without retaliation? Of course not.”

We skirted around a bend in the tree line, coming back up to the temple’s steps.

“Have you thought about our relationship? Whether or commit or…” I paused, listening to a twist in her desires. “About how you’ll commit to it?”

She scowled, again. “You’re far too nosy.”

“And you’re far too ambivalent.”

“I have a sermon to prepare for.”

“That’s still hours away.”

She stopped. I followed suit, looking back.

She shook her head and marched ahead of me.

I fell in line behind her, listening hard to her desires. They still churned, though in another direction, precisely what that meant…

“This evening.”

I jogged up beside her. “Excuse me?”

“We’ll meet this evening, after the sermon. We can call it a date, I suppose.”

That would be about sunset.

“Excellent. We’ll get some drinks, then—”


I groaned. “Then what will we do?”

She wrung her hands. “We’ll… dance?”

“Good enough.”

“Then, excuse me.” She jogged up the steps, the fabric of her dress shifting and bouncing across her…

I turned around. Two weeks. Now, what would I do for the next few hours?

[ ] I’d scope out our room.

[ ] I’d check in on my disciples.

[ ] I’d visit Kokoro.

[ ] Write-in.

Votes End:
Time remaining: ::Timer ended at: 2019/01/24(Thu)01:00

>>No. 41733
[x] I’d scope out our room.
>>No. 41735
[X] I’d visit Kokoro

Let’s visit our favorite Menreiki
>>No. 41736
Looks like you fucked the timer

[X] I’d visit Kokoro.
>>No. 41737
[x] Kokoro!
>>No. 41738
I think you're right and I miscounted by about a day and a half. But I'll just roll with it for now, though I may update before it fully ends.
>>No. 41739
[X] I’d scope out our room.

Panty raid!
>>No. 41740
File 154856635734.jpg - (58.16KB, 600x800, sinismami.jpg) [iqdb]
[x] I’d visit Kokoro.

I walked down the road, listening to Byakuren’s messy head fade away.

Where would Kokoro be around now? Her… ideas about herself, especially with me and Byakuren, worried me.

Yes, if you had to assign parentage to a tsukumogami, I would be the father. No, the mother. The masks would have been more like an egg than its counterpart. This would, of course, have made many, many men ‘mothers’ in precisely the same sense. Perhaps that thought required some meditation of my own.

I shot up and off, soaring back toward the village. It didn’t matter. Her ideas alone failed to concern me too much. I had made peace with them. But she was not the sort of girl to keep quiet about something like this. She’d want to learn more.

She would talk to people. She would ask questions.

If they were the devious sort, they would fill her head with strange ideas. Strange ideas that would make the ultimate reunion with my gentle, ghostly wife more difficult. With Byakuren and her temple out of the way for now, I had to get in first.

I dropped back out of the sky as I reached the walls, skidding across the hardened dirt. I took a moment to straighten myself back up as I approached the guards, giving polite but clipped greetings as I strolled through the gate. Keeping my ears open, I tuned out the village’s words, listening only to the textures of their internal voices and the… flow, I suppose, of their thoughts.

I heard a scattering of beast youkai nearby, some tengu, and a few spirits. Only two tsukumogami, neither of which sounded much like a menreiki, much less her.

I jogged through the village, listening near the edge of my hearing. Throngs of busy, tiring people pushed past as I marched on. Then I heard the familiar greed of a kappa I suspected I’d fought before.

Listening in, just barely, I caught a hint, a whiff, of her. She wanted to spend her time away from Kokoro.

Just a few more blocks, and—

A heavy arm fell across my shoulder, accompanied by the stink of a fluffy, conniving scavenger.

“How’s it been, little prince?”

Mamizou. She wanted gossip. Gossip and dirt.

I shrugged underneath her arm. “It’s been much the same as it always is.”

She snorted. “Ye mean to say these affairs always happen?”

“Of course not.” I stepped out of her ‘embrace,’ palming the tip of my shaku. “I mean to say it changed little.”

“Sounds like ye don’t even care for her.”

I listened out. The kappa still hung nearby.

“You’re quite eager today, Mami.”

She cocked her head. “I ain’t sure how I feel about ye using my name like that. But, what can I say? Ye made quite a stir.”

The kappa moved away.

[ ] I took the time to explain myself.

[ ] I excused myself to seek out the kappa.

[ ] I counter-interrogated Mamizou.

[ ] Write-in.

Votes End:
Time remaining: ::Timer ended at: 2019/01/28(Mon)19:00

>>No. 41741
Mami-nee a cute

[X] I counter-interrogated Mamizou.
>>No. 41742
[x] I counter-interrogated Mamizou.
>>No. 41743
[x] I excused myself to seek out the kappa.

We're the ones who dug up dirt on people-not the other way around.
>>No. 41760
I thought I'd get an update out by now, but I've got some family stuff (good stuff, but time-consuming) going down that could delay it another few days. Just stopping by to warn y'all that this one could take more than a week.

On the plus side, I'm almost out of the busy streak, so hopefully the updates will speed back up a little soon.
>>No. 41761
[x] I counter-interrogated Mamizou.
>>No. 41779
File 154940302712.jpg - (157.03KB, 800x696, toyojiri shade.jpg) [iqdb]
[x] I counter-interrogated Mamizou.

I exhaled. “Those sound like rather juicy stories. You wouldn’t be so stingy as to deny me a taste, would you?”

She shrugged. “Depends on what’d be in it fer me. Ye got some dirt o’ yer own to share?”

I stared, holding my expression steady. She stared back, barely smirking. I tapped my chin, thinking.

I folded my arms, resting the shaku behind them. “Do you intend to pry into my personal life, without offering even a scrap in return?”

“Ye know that ain’t me. I just ain’t too sure they’re to yer taste.”

I narrowed my eyes. “You’re rather cagey today, too. Something to hide?”

She growled. “Quite nosey, ain’t ye?”

My eyes flattened.

“Fine, fine. I hear ye.” She flicked her eyes left and right, then stepped to the side, motioning I follow.

We walked down a side road and into an alley, a fair distance from the active traffic.

“It ain’t much, really. Jus’ a little rumor that ye both’re plannin’ somethin’ shady. Mixin’ faiths or settin’ up a racket, mostly. Not countin’ the dirty rumors, o’ course.”

“So soon? Could they not have waited one day?”

“It’s already been half o’ one, ain’t it? As I said, ye caused quite a stir.”

I groaned. “They don’t even trust Byakuren, do they?”

“Ye might jus’ be surprised what some folks think o’ her. Ain’t so different from yerself” Mamizou shook her head. “They just be small timers, though.”


She narrowed her eyes. “Watch for when the papers come in. They’ll tell ye more’n little ol’ me ever could.”

I patted her shoulder, turning on my heel.

Mamizou cleared her throat. I glanced back.

“Ain’t ye forgettin’ something?”

I raised a brow.

“I gave ye some info, how ‘bout ye give me somethin’ in return?”

I turned and tapped a foot, thinking.

[ ] I let her in on the upcoming date.

[ ] I let her know of my new accommodations.

[ ] I pressed for details.

[ ] I left her hanging.

[ ] Write-in.

Time remaining: ::Timer ended at: 2019/02/07(Thu)19:00

>>No. 41780
Short update, but I'm finally back. Fingers crossed I'll get back into 2ish updates a week from here.
>>No. 41781
[X] I let her know of my new accommodations.

hey we're gonna be spending the night where are the bathrooms
>>No. 41782
[x] I let her know of my new accommodations.

Seems to be the most entertaining approach.
(Welcome back, by the way!)
>>No. 41783
[X] I let her know of my new accommodations
>>No. 41784
[x] I let her in on the upcoming date.

Good that no one is thinking of making Miko a liar.
Also, Mamizou is underrepresented in the site. I really like her
>>No. 41791
[X] I let her know of my new accommodations.

I wonder how she'll take the news?
>>No. 41792
mami-chan a cute
>>No. 41799
File 154976975519.png - (638.84KB, 567x800, mamifan.png) [iqdb]
[x] I let her know of my new accommodations.

“Perhaps you could ask my new housemates. I’m sure they’ll love the attention.”

Mamizou rubbed her chin, eyes narrowing as a grin grew. “New housemates, eh? What made ye leave yer crack home?”

I sputtered, eliciting a chortle from her.

“It’s an extra-dimensional dojo, not a ‘crack home.’ But…” I spun around, putting a finger to my lips. “You’ll need a better offer to steal that from me.”

She chuckled. “Would ‘home in a crack’ have treated yer ears better? Well, I think I’ll jus’ ask these roommates instead. We be talkin’ about the missus’ place, yes?”

I groaned. “I’m the ‘missus.’ But yes. I hear you might be one of these housemates yourself, is that true?”

She tilted her head, wearing an innocent smile. “No so much as ye’d think, but I suppose ye could say that.”

“I don’t need to put wards around our room, do I?”

“Now what do ye take me for? I’m just a proud, innocent tanuki.”

“Innocent tanuki? What a novel concept.”

She frowned.

I smiled. “I suppose it wouldn’t hurt to give you a chance. Besides,” I waved a hand, “not like I could trust the others much more.”

She chuckled again. “Ain’t that right.” She paused, putting a hand to her chin as she looked me over. “I ain’t sure what to make of ye lately.”

“Perhaps I could share my most intimate feelings during a tour of the temple.”

“How ’bout ye visit me later and I tell ye who spilled the beans.”

“About what?”

“Ye’ll see when they spill ’em.” She strolled away.

She had something to hide, something serious. But when I stepped out after, I turned in another direction. I’d already spent a bit too much time here to press her on that. Opening my ears, I listened to the afternoon urges. Plenty of humans interspersed with youkai. Hunger, success, affection, belonging, security, envy, love. All the usual desires in much the usual ways, nothing standing out.

Several kappa appeared, some with a greed akin to the first, but none quite the same. None thinking of Kokoro. Either she left, or her thoughts moved on. I preferred not to pester random kappa in the hopes of snagging the right one.

That kappa wanted to avoid her. Did she scam Kokoro? Did Kokoro harass her?

I sighed and marched back to and through the gates, greeting the guards in passing. I knew at least that I would not have found Kokoro here.

Absent-minded, I walked down the road toward the mountain. A few voices appeared, spread wide outside the walls. Wide enough for me to listen a touch closer.

An elderly couple hoping to enjoy the day, a young man pining after a merchant’s daughter, a wandering goddess worried about…

About a menreiki climbing the mountain.

[ ] I stopped by to learn more of my ‘daughter’s’ fate.

[ ] I cut out the middle man and flew up myself.
 [ ] After listening a little closer.

[ ] I visited the ravine to check in with the local kappa, first.

[ ] Write-in.

Time remaining: ::Timer ended at: 2019/02/11(Mon)19:00

>>No. 41802
[x] I stopped by to learn more of my ‘daughter’s’ fate.
>>No. 41803
[X] I visited the ravine to check in with the local kappa, first.

They know something. Mom detective is on the case.
>>No. 41809
[x] I stopped by to learn more of my ‘daughter’s’ fate.

Let's keep being a responsible parent. Somewhat.
>>No. 41813
I came down with a cold a few days ago. I thought I could write through it, so I didn't say anything. I was wrong.

Basically, I'll still try to write the update 'cause I want to, but odds are good at this point it'll take another few days. Just poppin' in to note I ain't dead or disinterested, just preoccupied.
>>No. 41814
get well soon!
>>No. 41818
File 155054350242.png - (892.58KB, 700x1093, hinadismissive.png) [iqdb]
[x] I stopped by to learn more of my ‘daughter’s’ fate.

I turned toward the nearby forest, following that voice. Stepping into the trees, I heard the sound a nearby brook babbling as dead twigs and leaves crunched beneath my feet. I soon found the goddess, who flinched as she turned to face me.

She was a beauty, in her own way. Long emerald hair flowed from her scalp, around her neck, into a shared ribbon resting on her chest. Sure, the hair was rather frizzy, but the crimson ribbon atop it and the matching dress below served as excellent contrasts to that distinctive color.

The green swirl on the side was a bit much, though. She blinked, seemingly hoping I’d be the first to speak.

An opportunity I could not turn down.

“Good afternoon, Lady Goddess. May I ask your name?”

“Oh? I’m Hina. Hina Kagiyama. You shouldn’t be here.”

I took a step back. “How rude. Should the menreiki avoid these woods as well?”

Her eyes widened. “The menreiki? Do you know her?”

“Of course. I’m her father. Mother…” I paused, thinking. “Let’s just say I’m her parent. One of them.”

“Your familial ties are no concern of mine. Humans don’t belong here.”

I held a hand over my mouth in mock offense. “Me? A human? Please, that was centuries ago.”

“Do you wish to play word games?”

“I’m quite straightforwardly ex-human. Hermit, if you must know. Now, could you let me know what happened to my poor daughter?”

She scowled. “Nothing yet. You should teach her some manners if you’re so worried.”

I waved it off. “I think she might be akin to a child. We’re trying, but she’s stubborn. If you’d be so kind as to point me in the right direction, I could try to help you.”

Hina blinked again. “A child?”

I paused. “Did you… miss the event? Big religious brawl? Tore through half the village, plus some countryside?”

“Oh, a religious fight.” She rubbed her head. “I watched a couple fights by the river. She had something to do with that?”

“She instigated them, in her own way. We had to fix her up a little.”

“I see.”

She wanted to get back to her… doll floating thing. Something about curses—no—misfortune…

Ah. The Nagashi-bina. She carried away misfortune, most likely.

“Has she caused you harm?”

Hina sighed. “No. She just hounded me about some conspiracy theory.”

[ ] I asked about Kokoro’s actions.

[ ] I asked where Kokoro went.

[ ] I asked about the mountain.

[ ] I offered my condolences.

[ ] Write-in.

Time remaining: ::Timer ended at: 2019/02/20(Wed)19:00

>>No. 41819
[x] I asked where Kokoro went.
>>No. 41820
[X] I asked about Kokoro’s actions.
>>No. 41821
[x] I asked about Kokoro’s actions.
>>No. 41822
[X] I asked where Kokoro went.

Eyes on the prize, find that girl!
>>No. 41823
[X] I asked about Kokoro’s actions.
>>No. 41824
[x] I asked where Kokoro went.

The good thing about knowing what people want is that we're aware when we're being bothersome
>>No. 41835
>She scowled. “Nothing yet. You should teach her some manners if you’re so worried.”

Jeez Hina tell us how you really feel ya cunt.

[X] I asked about Kokoro’s actions.

Preferably with a healthy dose of sass.
>>No. 41858
File 15512116123.jpg - (69.87KB, 750x530, moriyagrin.jpg) [iqdb]
[x] I asked about Kokoro’s actions.

“A conspiracy theory? May I hear more?”

Hina grunted, turning aside. “With the Moriya gods, of all people! I insisted I had nothing to do with it, but she kept pestering me.”

That was odd. Had she gone unstable again? Was my beautiful mask not enough? Did I need to chase down that damn satori again? Or had she taken some of my words a little too seriously?

“Did she at least do something to interfere with your work or hobbies?”

Hina sighed. “No, she just kept yammering.”

I circled around to her side, sliding one hand out to pat her back. “I think we both know our fair share of locals known for little other than talking your ear off.”

She pouted, turning away again. “Well, I don’t.”

I heard something bizarre from her mind. Attention. She wanted… she was lonely.

Yet there was a nerve cut and laid bare, raw.

By Kokoro. Giving her attention.


She turned back, looking at me only from the corners of her eyes. “I assume you wish to intrude as well?”

I turned around, looking to the mountain. “Are you sure you’re not just a little paranoid? I simply wish to find my daughter and resolve whatever confusion she may have caused.”

And keep her from getting too attached to Byakuren, but no one needed to know that.

I spared a glance back to Hina, whose closed eyes and neutral brow suggested careful thought.

I tapped my foot. “She didn’t push or attack you? She didn’t steal anything or engage you in any duels?”

“No.” Hina sighed, sitting down on a nearby rock. “She only asked insulting questions and insisted I knew something I didn’t.”

Her desires, though far less muddled than Byakuren’s, displayed a distinct, knotted intensity. She believed what she said, but I doubted I could trust her testimony.

I rubbed an earmuff. “An inquisition of sorts, then. Do you think she harassed others in a similar manner?”

She paused. “I… suppose she might have. Why?”

“I’m just putting a picture together.” I looked ahead, peering through the canopy to the mountain’s silhouette. “They won’t appreciate my presence, will they?”

Hina’s chest heaved. “No. They certainly won’t.”

“By the way, you don’t remember what her conspiracy theory was, do you?”

“No. Something about you and Byakuren, and some inanity about a wedding.”

I couldn’t decide whether to chuckle or groan. In my indecision, I did neither.

Instead, I tapped my chin, considering how best to pursue Kokoro’s trail.

[ ] I invited Hina to follow.

[ ] I slipped inside the Moriya Shrine.

[ ] I slipped inside the Tengu Village.

[ ] I just flew up.

[ ] Write-in.

Time remaining: ::Timer ended at: 2019/02/28(Thu)19:00

>>No. 41859
That took way too long, but here we are. Unfortunately, I'm also planning to put serious time into the Nanowrimo reward I'd promised, so updates may remain about this slow for a few weeks.
>>No. 41860
[x] I invited Hina to follow.

If she wants attention, she should have it. If she doesn't, she can refuse.
>>No. 41861
[x] I slipped inside the Moriya Shrine.
>>No. 41863
[X] I invited Hina to follow.
[X] Tell her about our marriage
Don't give away that it's a sham though, that'd go against the spirit of the deal
>>No. 41872
[X] I invited Hina to follow.

Sure, why not? Seems like she could use the company.
>>No. 41882
File 155181599031.jpg - (176.31KB, 700x990, momiguard.jpg) [iqdb]
[x] I invited Hina to follow.

I stepped toward the mountain. “Follow me.”

She frowned. “Why?”

“You could use some company. I want someone the tengu would find less threatening.”

“They don’t trust me either.”

“They like me less. Trust me.”

I floated forward, glancing back over my shoulder. She held still.

I sighed. “It would be an excellent chance to voice your complaints to her, wouldn’t it?”

“She didn’t listen last time.”

I smiled. “You have me now, don’t you?”

“Do I?”

I sighed. “You’d have my ear, at the least.”

Hina huffed. “Very well.” She stepped forward.

I took off, flying high over the trees and toward the foothills. As I climbed ever higher to keep pace with the earth’s rapid ascent below, I heard hints of Hina’s problem close behind.

Kokoro’s attention was… wrong. That did not surprise me. It wasn’t that it was too hostile, though. Instead it was too… pointed. Directed.

“…I don’t get many visitors.”

I tapped my chin, thinking as I crested the first hill. “Something to do with your domain?”

“I gather misfortune.”

“It scares people away, doesn’t it?”


Disappointment there, a desire expected and unmet. Perhaps Kokoro had only rattled this goddess.

“I could perhaps—”


I halted. I floated above the highest hills, just before the mountain’s face. Two white wolf tengu flanked me, both wielding round shields, the left armed with a glaive, to the right a scimitar. The one with the glaive had her hair in a ponytail, the other short and choppy. Both wore plain tengu dress of subtly different colors and decorations, with dark skirts and those detached sleeves that became so popular since I revived.

And the usual red tokin caps with their fuzzball strings.

The left spoke first. “State your business.”

Their eyes and their concerns flicked between myself and Hina. She worried them more than I.

“I am Miko,” I paused. Their hostility flared, now focused almost entirely on me. I harrumphed, staring back at them. “I’m here for my daughter.”

They hesitated. Perhaps there was some value to treating her like family after all. I softened my eyes. “I heard terrible stories about her behavior. Did she come this way?”

The wolves exchanged glances.

The scimitar-armed one spoke next. “Is this your business?”

“Of course. What other business could I have here?”

The glaive-wielder spoke up. “We can handle whatever trouble she may or may not have caused. If we need restitution, we’ll visit you.”

Kokoro caused them trouble. Her voice alone told me that.

“So, she’s here.”

Ms. Glaive flinched, wishing she’d kept her mouth shut.

Her companion groaned. “I’m sure we can send a delegation tomorrow. If you have questions, you can ask them then.”

Did Kokoro embarrass them? I preferred not to needlessly antagonize them but had already left her alone with strange ideas a bit too long.

I glanced to Hina. She shrugged back.

[ ] I requested an audience with someone higher up.

[ ] I insisted they forward my request for her presence.

[ ] I visited the nearest neutral village.

[ ] I retreated to the Moriya Shrine.

[ ] I actually retreated, choosing instead to speak with Hina further.

[ ] Write-in.

Time remaining: ::Timer ended at: 2019/03/07(Thu)19:00

>>No. 41883
...That took too long. I'll try at least keeping it down to five days per update.
>>No. 41884
[x] I insisted they forward my request for her presence.

I wonder why they don't want us to take her out of their hair.
>>No. 41885
[x] I insisted they forward my request for her presence.

Pride, probably.
>>No. 41886
[x] fite
spell cards agogo
>>No. 41887

Pretty sure Koko whopped these two in a spellcard battle or otherwise to gain entry.

[X] Fight em

2v2 me bro
>>No. 41888
[X] I insisted they forward my request for her presence.

Probably shouldn't volunteer Hina as a partner without asking her.
>>No. 41889
I'm sure we could 2v1 some no name scrubs if she declines. Probably. Man, that would be super embarrassing if we lose, wouldn't it?
>>No. 41891

Nah bro, we'll just use the good ol' Call of Duty cop-out. If I win a 2v1 it's because I'm skilled, If I lose, well...it's cuz it was a 2v1. There's no downside unless the news media gets wind that a respected political and religious icon started an international incident after violating border security laws and picking a fight with local nationals. Which would be pretty bad. But also pretty funny. But mostly bad.
>>No. 41892
I don't suppose running around, yelling 'HELP, I'M BEING OPPRESSED' would work?
>>No. 41899
File 155225551761.jpg - (117.74KB, 750x530, worrymiji.jpg) [iqdb]
[x] I insisted they forward my request for her presence.

“Let’s compromise. I’m confident you know where she is.”

The scimitar wielder sighed. “Yes.”

“Good. Tell her I wish to speak with her immediately. Perhaps you could point me to a good place to wait for her arrival?”

“You could just tell us where you want to wait so we can tell her.”

“I’d prefer to wait on the mountain.”

We floated there, air tense.

Scimitar growled. “What would your second preference be?”

I didn’t need my exquisite ears to sense her frustrations. Indeed, she gave me the sensation of an underling trapped between two bigshots’ mutual belligerence. I felt a pang of sympathy at her unenviable position but worried about the implications of this trouble going further up the chain of command.

So, in turn, I pressed the issue. “Perhaps a nearby town or outpost?”

“The human village is close.”

I winced. So cold. Functionally, there was no intrinsic difference between waiting close or far. I could perhaps luck into overhearing a thing or two if I was nearby, but I could find other things to do if I waited further away.

What mattered was that my continued presence near their domain would… incentivize them to expedite this process.

We held a moment longer. I glanced to my new companion. “I don’t suppose you have anything to add?”

She shook her head. An exchange passed between her and the sentries. Something I preferred not to meddle with at the time. I locked eyes with them for a long moment, neither budging.

Growing tired, I chose to relent. But not without trying to get something more out of this exchange.

“Very well, tell her to visit my dojo. She’ll know where to go.”

Scimitar stood to attention, soon joined by her companion.

A peculiar, even amusing sight at dozens of meters above the earth and against the backdrop of a mountain face.

I smiled bright. “I appreciate your…” I thought a moment, “patience. If you could help convince her to leave within the hour, I would appreciate it.”

She frowned. “I’ll… see what I can do.”

And so, with my mission stalled, we departed. Hina followed, close behind but tight-lipped.

I scanned the land ahead, keeping an eye out as we returned to the sky above the smoother plains and forests of the valley, looking for good crevices. I spared a fleeting glance back to her almost impassive face. “I sense frustrations from you.”

“That should be obvious.”

Another moment of silence.

“…That was intended as a hint, my dear. Please, let me shoulder your troubles.”

“I’d rather know what it is you want.”

I thought a moment. In truth, I wasn’t quite sure. My journey to the mountain had been put on hold, and yet I preferred not to depart just yet.

[ ] I held out hope she would yet assist with them in some form.

[ ] I wanted to address Kokoro’s indiscretions.

[ ] I simply desired company.

[ ] Write-in.

Time remaining: ::Timer ended at: 2019/03/12(Tue)19:00

>>No. 41902
[x] I wanted to address Kokoro’s indiscretions.

She won't believe if we say that we just want company, even if it is true
>>No. 41903
[X] I wanted to address Kokoro’s indiscretions.

I wanted to Mom it up. You know, the cliche making-the-teen-apologize scene, where like the first time they do it they clearly don't mean it and then the parent forces them to give more of a real apology, that's how much I wanted to Mom it up.
>>No. 41907
[X] I wanted to address Kokoro’s indiscretions.

Is it really so hard to believe that we want to be a better parent?
>>No. 41909
File 155261098962.jpg - (181.97KB, 650x918, hinajoy.jpg) [iqdb]
[x] I wanted to address Kokoro’s indiscretions.

“It was entirely about Kokoro, I’m afraid.”

Hina’s expression darkened as we descended, just south of the village.

“As I had said, she is a daughter of mine… in a sense. I’ve chosen to try to educate her properly.”

“Again with that language. In precisely what sense is she your daughter?”

I scratched my hand. “I created the masks, naturally. It’s a tragedy you had to meet under such poor circumstances. Their beauty would’ve dazzled you.”

I turned toward the front of the village walls, banking toward the gate as I descended.

“You speak with such pride, yet you left them to rot sufficient to create a youkai.”

“Hey!” I stabbed a finger in her direction. “I died. It’s not my fault my successors discarded them.”

She hummed a dour tune as we approached the ground. I twirled as I touched down, only to find Hina mimicking me when I did, smiling again.

I approached the village, but Hina slowed behind me, a desire to turn around growing.

I cleared my throat, turning toward the woods. “I suspect my daughter has overstepped her bounds.” It felt strange to use that word so many times. Strange, uncomfortable, and… exciting. I had an abundance of emotions tied to that concept. Too many. “I would like to see her correct her error.”

She folded her arms, shifting her weight. “You don’t need my presence for that.”

“Oh, but I do.” I turned and stood by a nearby pine tree, scanning the road I’d left. “Apologies mean the most when spoken directly, do they not?”

“I’d most appreciate getting my time back.”

“And yet, you’re here.”

She frowned.

I smiled. “Let me hear what troubles you.”

“Your daughter.”

I sighed and sat down, lifting my cloak as I crossed my legs. The bark behind tempted me, but my dress deserved better. “I’m aware of that trouble. Let me hear what else bothers you.”

Hina leaned against a nearby tree, frowning. “I’m a goddess of the nagashi-bina festival. I guide dolls infused with the misfortune of troubled humans safely away. In truth, I’d prefer to hear your troubles.”

I blinked, then chuckled. “I’m afraid it’s all rather confidential.”

“We may start with your name, then.”

I stared. She stared back. She wanted to know about me but shared no desire to exploit that information.

“I am Miko of the Toyosatomimi clan, formerly known as the legendary Prince Shotoku.”

“Do you feel content with your current life?”

“Quite so.” I paused, remembering my upcoming date. “Mostly so.”

She stared, just a hint of curiosity flickering across her face. And quite a bit bouncing through her head.

“As I said. Very confidential.”

She frowned, just a little sad.

I huffed. “Very well. I’ve married recently, but my wife and I are quite different in most ways. I’m not certain how best to…”

She giggled. Giggled. She cleared her throat. “I’m sorry, please continue.”

“I’d like to hear what you find…”

I heard it. Kokoro approached the village. My dojo proper was, of course, Senkai. But I had plenty of young disciples who couldn’t reach there, so I’d arranged for periodic lessons to be taught in the village.

Usually by more experienced disciples, but I’d stopped by myself once or twice, so it still counted.

I grunted as I stood, flattening my cloak back out. Kokoro touched down just before the guards.

I clapped once, quite loud. She turned to face me, impassive, a closed fan in one hand. Hina stood behind me, still irritated. I cleared my throat, approaching Kokoro as…

[ ] A patient mediator.

[ ] A stern mother.

[ ] A curious detective.

[ ] Write-in.

Time remaining: ::Timer ended at: 2019/03/16(Sat)19:00

>>No. 41910
[x] A stern mother.

She likes it, we like it, will Kokoro like it?
>>No. 41911
[x] A stern mother

Miko mom~
>>No. 41912
File 155262029237.jpg - (51.81KB, 700x350, Magical girls will be magical girls SMH.jpg) [iqdb]
[X] A Co-conspirator

Let her be her own person. I'm definitively not on board with getting all stern when it doesn't sound like she did anything wrong.
>>No. 41913
[X] A patient mediator

She’s probably not one to respect authority, so let’s try and hear her out as much as ‘Mom’ing out’ is temping.
>>No. 41914
[X] A patient mediator.

I think we should try to be there for her without pushing her away.
>>No. 41917
[x] A stern mother.
>>No. 41920
[x] A stern mother.

But, you know, be sure to get her side of the story before any scolding.
>>No. 41931
College has gotten messy, so it looks like I'll need a few days to push through that before I can get back to writing.

I apologize for the delay. Hopefully it'll take less than a week.
>>No. 41979
File 15539902831.jpg - (200.44KB, 618x618, kokohannya.jpg) [iqdb]
[x] A stern mother.

I held my shoulders up and my back straight as I marched forward. It seemed that today would prove a time of many new experiences and risky investments. Kokoro wanted answers and I felt… something. A nagging itch I’d thought to be buried before I was.

I cleared my throat, placing a hand on the hilt of my blade. It was a gesture entirely for show, though it did provide a sense of comfort to feel my true body at times like this.


I used a cool, level voice, but not cold. “What have you been doing?”

I waited a moment, staring her down as I felt a short pang of envy toward the satori. For all the anger and distrust that they suffered, times like this had me wishing I could truly read another’s mind.

An instant, really. Then I would hear the subtle shifts and remember just how superior my ears were.

Whatever Kokoro had done, she wanted to finish it. She desired to know more. Despite the bravado she showed in Hina’s tale, she genuinely sought the truth.

Kokoro stepped forward, adopting her red Hannya mask. “I almost had them. You stopped me.”

She flinched, now recognizing Hina. She swapped in the Monkey for only a second before returning her ‘angry’ mask.

I stood straight. “I hear you bothered this innocent goddess.”

Kokoro growled, face flat. Such contradictions amused me, though they no doubt vexed most others.

“She tried to stop me.”

I glanced back at Hina, more for her benefit than mine.

Hina clasped her hands by her knees. She did not quite glare. “I only tried to warn you.”

“You got in my way.”

“Because you weren’t listening.”

“I don’t need warnings.”

“You could have simply said as much.”

“I shouldn’t h-”

I held an open palm up, fingers straight. They quieted down.

“Kokoro, did you accuse her of conspiring with the gods of the Moriya shrine?”

She spared me only a glance, otherwise keeping her eyes locked on Hina. “She tried to keep me away from them!”

“I did not.”

I chose to try a different approach. “Was she actually involved?”

“…No. Probably not.”

“Don’t you think you’d acted prematurely, then?”

Kokoro pouted. “She was suspicious.”

I wanted to groan. “I’m sure you could spare an apology.”

“Not before she does.”

“It was my duty. I can’t apologize for that.”

…And they continued staring each other down.

[ ] I separated them, hoping for a more conciliatory attitude once they’d calmed down.
 [ ] I spent some time with Kokoro.
 [ ] I spent some time with Hina.

[ ] I held firm until we all ironed this out.

[ ] I asked Kokoro about her investigation first.

[ ] Write-in.

Time remaining: ::Timer ended at: 2019/04/01(Mon)19:00

>>No. 41980
[x] I held firm until we all ironed this out.

Stern mother, remember? Hina deserves an apology and Miko has failed his 'daughter' often enough to not do it now.
>>No. 41981
[x] I held firm until we all ironed this out
>>No. 41982
OP, how old is Kokoro in this context?
>>No. 41983
Sorry for the delayed response, but I'll try to answer.

Individually, the masks (as youkai) would be more than a millennium old (about 1300-1400 years, I think) but it was maybe two or three decades ago that they all merged to form Kokoro.

Due to the nature of tsukumogami psychology, hers in particular, her emotional development lagged far behind most human peers and even much of the rest of her own mental growth.

If you're asking for what human age her mental or emotional maturity would match, that may just have to be something for Miko to find out, but Kokoro's nature may or may not prevent such an answer from existing.
>>No. 41985
[X] I asked Kokoro about her investigation first.

Hina doesn't deserve an apology. If Kokoro is brash and tactless, then that's just what she is.
>>No. 41986
[x] I held firm until we all ironed this out.
>>No. 41987
[X] I asked Kokoro about her investigation first.

Let’s get down to the true cause behind such actions
>>No. 41990
I'm afraid I need to put this story on hold for awhile. My primary reason is that it's been too long since I committed to writing a reward and this thread currently takes the most time.

I'd hoped at least to get one more update out before the pause, but I think I'd rushed some of the recent updates a bit too much and now I need to take a step back to reorient again.

I cannot express in this medium how upset I am to have to do this and promise to return just about as soon as I can. At the very least, expect progress updates if this takes more than a few weeks.
>>No. 42102
I said to expect progress updates if it takes more than a few weeks. I did not provide such updates. All I can say is that I screwed up there.

On the plus side, I think I've completed the rough for this project. So I hope to upload it within two weeks, or within the month at the most. I apologize for how long this pause has dragged on for, but once that's done, the next update shouldn't be too far behind.
>>No. 42143
File 156150378337.jpg - (188.02KB, 800x800, kokostretch.jpg) [iqdb]
[x] I held firm until we all ironed this out.

I stood back, watching the two stare each other down.

They paused a moment, dragging a heavy silence into the road.

“You helped the villains get away, you bastard.”

Hina startled, eyes growing dark. “Excuse me?”

“They were planning something. If not for you, I’d have learned their schemes by now.” She conjured her light blue glaive, bringing it low to the ground.

A weapon much prettier than the tengu’s version.

Nonetheless, this was not as I’d intended. I debated stepping forward to stab my shaku between them but decided against it.

Hina started floating first, summing green balls of light around her. With a groaning sigh, I turned around. This was how Gensokyo operated.

I folded my arms behind my back as the duel began. Kokoro would win, of course. She excelled most in the more hand-to-hand fights, but she commanded an excellent repertoire of danmaku as well. Once it ended, I’d need to peel her off Hina. Convince her to be gracious in her victory.

Then I might have to duel her myself. She’d been rather hot-headed lately.

I sighed, the Byakuren issue still unresolved. Just what was that damn monk thinking?

“Why do you even care that I slowed you down? What schemes?”

“Getting Miko and Byakuren married.”

Silence fell. Not one bullet sounded.

“They’re married? When did this happen?”

“They don’t suit each other. It will tear the village apart.”

I froze.


I turned around. Hina descended, Kokoro following shortly behind. Hina stared me dead in the eyes.

I shrugged. “Could you not put it together? Byakuren, I, and a marriage? That seems by far the most natural conclusion.”

Hina’s mouth opened, then closed. “I had assumed it was too inane to be a possibility. What do you even share in common?”

“We’re religious leaders, are we not?”

“Is tha-”

I turned to Kokoro. “What did you mean by ‘tear the village apart?’”

“I meant what I said. You’ll make fools of each other. It will embarrass your followers and they’ll get mad at the others. Then…”

“You may be looking a little too deep into this.”

She kept silent a moment, pouting. “I know emotions.” She looked back toward the mountain. “The tengu refused to let me see their gods. They’re hiding something.”

I frowned. “Be that as it may,” I turned to Hina, “would you apologize to Kokoro for slowing her down, if she apologized to you first?”

Hina huffed. “I’d consider it.”

Kokoro frowned. “What are you scheming, Miko?”

I held my face firm. “Didn’t you want her apology?”

“…You’re too devious.”

I couldn’t help a chuckle at that.

Kokoro glanced between Hina and I. “I’ll think about it.”

Hina sighed. “Then, if your business with me is finished, I’ll return to my duties.” She turned and walked away.

I groaned, but chose to settle for the small victory, considering my next action. I’d come here to spend time with Kokoro, but all this business with the mountain did intrigue me. Between them and the tanuki, there seemed far too much intrigue for such an absurd event.

[ ] I chose to return to the mountain myself.

[ ] I chose to invite Kokoro back to my dojo.

[ ] I chose to invite Kokoro for a stroll through the village.

[ ] Write-in.

Time remaining: ::Timer ended at: 2019/06/28(Fri)19:00

>>No. 42144
The project's finally done, so this thread should be back in business for a while. Again, apologies for that massive delay.
>>No. 42145
Better late than never, as they say.

[x] I chose to invite Kokoro for a stroll through the village.

Our plot is being a fucking father
>>No. 42146
[X] I chose to invite Kokoro for a stroll through the village.
Of course we'll embarrass each other, however it won't inspire anger, but jealousy! "Ah," they'll think, "if only I could be so lovey-dovey..."
or maybe it will inspire anger. reeee normalfags explode and die
>>No. 42147
[X] I played into Kokoro's conspiracy theory while guiding her towards the truth

I feel like this is how their father-daughter time would go.
>>No. 42159
File 156243962931.jpg - (111.24KB, 1071x1308, mikokoro.jpg) [iqdb]
[x] I chose to invite Kokoro for a stroll through the village.

“Let’s go back to the village.”

“The culprits are still loose.”

“We can’t reach them with the mountain so paranoid.” I strode down the road, back toward the gate.

“This was my investigation. You don’t need to follow.”

I glanced back to find Kokoro walking close behind, her blue glaive now gone.

“And the investigation’s over until the mountain eases its borders or these culprits descend from it.”

She wore the Hannya near her face. I sighed and gave an idle wave of my hand as I turned to exchange pleasantries with the gate guards. Stepping back inside the village, I stepped through the crowds with half an eye on the peddlers and hawkers at the edges of the street. I listened close to the crowds. The tanuki had vanished, of course. But so had the kappa.

Kokoro followed me in.

I shot an idle glance her way. “Not pursuing the villains?”

“Help me get past them.”

I sighed. “To what end? What could you learn by recklessly charging in?”

She pouted. “It works just fine for you and the monk, doesn’t it? Just fight, crash, boom. Then get your answers on the way.”

I groaned, scanning the nearby stalls. Dango, manju, sake…

Kokoro wanted to know what they’d hid from her, obviously. And, as usual, she wanted to better understand emotions as well as how to convey them. But she also wanted to know much more about Byakuren and myself.

A desire that reminded me of my purpose for coming here.

“The monk’s not as wise as she thinks she is. Proper battles are often best saved for more serious engagements.”

“Was the fireworks festival a serious engagement?”

An awkward silence descended as I glanced toward more distant shops. The danmaku fireworks festival, a silly idea that had no less proved an irresistible chance for many to show off their abilities. I had not only participated in that event, I’d stolen the show, regardless of what some of the rabble said. I counted the shops off. More food, tools, textiles…

A new dress would have done me good, but few in the village would have had the needed skill. I exhaled. “What I mean to say is there are ways to learn what you want without confronting the source in open battle.”

“You think I should ask their friends?”

“It’s a good start, but you should also consider visiting the places they frequent and listening in on their conversations there.”

Kokoro stopped, having traded the Hannya for the fox. I halted too, turning back to her.

“That sounds shady. And it would take too long.”

I rapped a knuckle across my shaku. “Stick to battles and gossip if you wish, but dynasties don’t survive without knowing their enemies’ secrets.”

“I’m not you.” The Hannya returned to her face.

I let out a quiet chuckle at her childish response, before old memories choked it out. I took a long, slow breath. I waved it off. “I’d hope not. I never intended to be anyone’s tool.”

Her eyes darkened. I parted my lips to correct the blunder but found her desires… odd. She wanted not to correct an offense, but to strike back at a deeper scheme. I’d need to talk with her in greater detail, but I’d also need a setting that could ease her mood.

And I preferred to wait for a more opportune time to probe her on that. I’d started to feel somewhat disrupted.

[ ] I purchased some manju and found us a quiet spot.

[ ] We returned to the amphitheater.

[ ] We stopped by the dragon statue for luck.

[ ] I parted ways with her, returning to Senkai.

[ ] Write-in.

Votes close in:
Time remaining: ::Timer ended at: 2019/07/10(Wed)19:00

>>No. 42160
[X] I purchased some manju and found us a quiet spot.
McDonald's McDonald's McDonald's!
>>No. 42161
[x] We stopped by the dragon statue for luck.

We need that.
>>No. 42162
[X] I invited Kokoro to the communal hot springs.

Oh we'll relax her alright. Surely she isn't too old to take a bath with pops.
>>No. 42163
>Votes close in:
>Time remaining: ::

Timer machine broke, when's the cutoff?
>>No. 42164
Just over 19 hours from the time of this post.
>>No. 42173
File 156313361293.png - (95.77KB, 272x637, dragonstatue.png) [iqdb]
[x] We stopped by the dragon statue for luck.

Needing a chance to clear my head, I simply started walking. I listened to the desires around me, letting them float in, then out. In, then out. I had a destination in mind, of course, as I am not one for idle wandering. But it was the journey that mattered right now.

This was not a time to dwell on past troubles.

Dirt crunched in a rhythmic pattern behind me. The menreiki had chosen to follow, silent. It was not, however, the silence of reflection or suppression. As angry as she had gotten at my sidelong comment, I had worried her too.

I turned away from the shops and stalls, the homes and warehouses, walking out into a quiet walkway at the village’s edge. A relatively humble abode for the monument to such vital entities.

The dragon gods. Said to be the most powerful beings in all Gensokyo. A most fitting location to take my rest, as I intended to one day take their place. Almost idly, I checked the statue’s eyes.

They glowed a dull, faint gray. I turned my eyes to the heavens, finding clear, open skies. To the east, however, I found a heavy cloudbank. It seemed the statue was right. My “date” would occur under an overcast sky.

Fitting, really.

I clapped my hands together and bowed to it, terse and shallow. Let me make fools of the temple and see Tojiko soon.

“I want another mask of hope.”

I blinked, turning to Kokoro. She came up from a deeper bow of her own, then turned back to me.

She glanced aside, wearing the Fox. “That’s how this ritual goes, isn’t it? I don’t think this is a Taoist practice.”

I waved an idle hand, swinging my shaku. “Humility is key to any successful pursuit of the Tao. I’m seeking guidance from beings clearly more in tune with the universe than I.”

“I’m shocked. You admitted to someone being above you.”

I groaned, finding myself tempted to bonk her for that. “I may be an administrator first, but I do take my path seriously.”

“Your path?”

I rubbed my shaku. “I never did teach you much of the Tao, did I?”


I sighed, staring at the statue. “Rather than Byakuren’s dogged pursuit of giving, submission, and asceticism, the Tao begins with a simple, three principles.”

“That’s a funny way to talk about the woman you love.”

“…” I flipped my shaku front to back, then back to front. I needed to answer her but found myself unsure of the right approach.

[ ] Mentorly. Teach the Tao.

[ ] Defensive. Love does not require I respect all ideas.

[ ] Clarifying. What I love about her is…

[ ] Evasive.
 [ ] I acquired snacks.
 [ ] I invited her to the baths.

[ ] Write-in.

Time remaining: ::Timer ended at: 2019/07/17(Wed)19:00

>>No. 42175
[X] Evasive.
 [X] I acquired snacks.
>>No. 42177
-[X] Some might say belief is the first step to finding hope. Are you truly against embracing this opportunity to grow and learn?

Politicians gunna politic. Our daughter doesn't seem like the brightest girl, so we might as well play to our strengths here.

This premise would be so much better if Miko was single.
>>No. 42178
File 156365795590.jpg - (18.16KB, 474x314, mitarashidango.jpg) [iqdb]
[x] Evasive.
 [x] I acquired snacks.
 [x] Some might say belief is the first step to finding hope. Are you truly against embracing this opportunity to grow and learn?

“Do you feel hungry?”

“You’re changing the subject.”

I sighed. “Love’s not a topic you can grasp with a few snappy lines. Excuse me for just a moment.”

I turned on my heel and, striding back into the village, made my way toward the nearest cluster of food vendors. To everyone else, I felt I could comfortably play the lover for a few weeks. I could get under Byakuren’s skin, leave the crowds questioning, and have a laugh at it all when the dust cleared. After all, the two women who’d truly be hurt were already in on the joke.

But around the menreiki, I found myself drawn to acting with excessive honesty.

I stopped by a quiet stall, purchased a package of mitarashi dango skewers, and made my way back to the statue. Simple, syrup-glazed dumplings.

I wouldn’t cut it off just for her. I could wait at least a day, after all. At the very least, I’d have to honor the terms of my duel with Byakuren and spend one night under her roof. But I would have to pay Byakuren and Reimu back for my troubles. Perhaps when I retired for the evening, depending on how close Byakuren and I slept together…

I stopped at the statue, finding it vacant. Sighing, I settled, cross-legged, on the grass. Plopping the package in my lap, I peeled it open and brought a skewer to my lips. I bit down on the first dumpling, savoring the sweet but rather plain taste. I’d allowed all this foolishness to shake me a little too much. And yet… Kokoro needed direction, preferably away from Byakuren. She also needed to buy our story, for which I would need to-

She stood behind me, desiring my sweets. Holding the skewer in my mouth, I pulled another from the pile and lifted it above my shoulder. She snatched it from my hand and dropped to sit beside me, gobbling the first dumpling down.

I swallowed what was left of my first, then cleared my throat. “Compassion, moderation, and humility. Those are the three treasures.”

“Is that why you love her?” She plopped the second dumpling into her mouth.

I rubbed my shaku, thinking. “It’s a long story. They’re an excellent starting point, and they’re principles she does indeed adhere to from time to time. But abstinence is not moderation. Righteous zeal is neither compassionate nor humble.” I turned to her. “You still wish to learn more of emotion and hope, don’t you?”

She stared back. “Why?”

“Spirituality provides a key foundation for this in many people. If you wish to understand them, it would help greatly to practice it yourself.”

She put a finger to her chin as she set down her nearly empty skewer. “You two really are made for each other.”

I chuckled, a little woodenly, squeezing my shaku as I munched on my skewer. We were nothing alike. She grew quiet. For a few moments, we ate in silence, watching the statue and the sky. The cloudbank inched closer, but it would still be a while before it arrived.

When the dango ran out, she brushed her poofy skirt off and stood. A bit of syrup stuck to her cheek. Sighing, I reached to my pockets for something to wipe it off, only for those sensations to return. She stared back at me for but a moment, blinking. Then she turned and walked away.

Despite my intentions, I found myself sighing in relief. The sun began to approach the horizon, but I still had some time left and I needed to clear my head for this anyway. I chose to turn and seek out a new gap. I would need the tranquility of Senkai for my meditation.

I chose to spend the remaining time…

[ ] Meditating on Kokoro.

[ ] Meditating on Byakuren.

[ ] Sneaking in a visit with Tojiko.

[ ] Pursuing Kokoro.

[ ] Write-in.

Time remaining: ::Timer ended at: 2019/07/24(Wed)19:00

>>No. 42179
[X] Pursuing Kokoro.

She has been a lousy mother in canon. This fic lets me fulfill my desire to correct this. We are kind of digressing but...
>>No. 42180
[x] Meditating on Byakuren.

About time to decide how we really feel about this matter.
>>No. 42181
[X] Meditating on Kokoro.
>>No. 42189
[x] Meditating on Byakuren.
>>No. 42190
File 156427855291.png - (305.58KB, 700x700, graykokoro.png) [iqdb]
[x] Meditating on Kokoro.

I turned back to the village, inspecting the architecture. With a pat or two, I found a good crack and slipped back to the space between spaces. From there, I stepped back upon the road to my grand temple. Marching back to, then up, the steps, I listened to the idle desires floating on the still air.

The disciples here sought peace, wisdom, power, sometimes food or water, occasionally entertainment. All very common needs and wants for my followers. But I heard a recurring, uneasy undercurrent in almost every one.

A quiet churning confusion accompanied by an acute hunger for answers. Even the most cursory listen to the subtleties of any one made the underlying reason clear. They’d learned of either the marriage itself, or of our upcoming date. I’d need to answer them, of course. But now wasn’t the time. I myself had been too bothered by recent events to bring the tranquility they’d need. First, I’d calm myself, then seek to extend that calm to them. So, I exchanged only token pleasantries with the few hermits idle enough to address me as I made my way through the halls to my personal suite.

Stepping back into the comfortable, familiar embrace of my chamber, I exhaled, long and slow and heavy.

I passed the low table in the center to enter a small room with only a small, soft mat in the center, a dim lamp hanging from the ceiling, and full-length mirrors to each side. Turning to face the door, I closed it and sat down, setting my shaku to my right. I leaned back and, taking a token glance at my left reflection, closed my eyes.

For a few moments, I simply sat and meditated, seeking to return to harmony with the universe’s primordial nature. Slowly, my mind cleared and my heart calmed. ‘Inner peace’ often seemed to be the objective of my rival’s believers, when they engaged in this practice. This approach often made such believers easier to deal with, which was one of the many reasons I chose to preach that faith while I ruled. But with the occasional, gradient-haired exceptions, it did little to truly empower practitioners. Without a great nation to keep stable, I saw little virtue to these practices.

Great nation, huh…

As troublesome as my faltering attempts at ‘romance’ had proved with the monk, I found myself even more flustered by the menreiki. Kokoro. She fancied herself a daughter to me and I had mistakenly chosen, however briefly, to indulge in this whim. Youkai like her had creators, not parents.

Certainly, the thought of being returning to parenthood intrigued me. In fact, I dare say I’d have loved to once more have a son or daughter. To once more teach a child, from the beginning, how to navigate the world. To revel in their first great accomplishment, to fret over their first date. To bring into the world someone nearly as wise and powerful as myself.

But I’d already had one such child and, despite the several centuries since his passing, I found his final moments difficult to shake. Over my millennial slumber, I had managed to forget which clan to blame, to seek what would now be unjust and fruitless vengeance upon. But his face, the way his body…

I shook my head.

To address the menre-no, Kokoro properly and to keep my cool, I’d need to do one of two things. I’d need either to address and overcome my first failure, or I’d need to sever the possibility of any familial relationship between us.

Now that she reawakened that desire, I found both possibilities quite difficult.

Despite a while longer of thinking on the issue, I found no immediate solutions. I meditated a moment longer, then rose.

I grabbed the shaku as I stood, then slid the door open. The sun would be setting soon. It was time to return to the monk’s temple, first for the date, then to sleep. Despite myself, I couldn’t help a faint blush at the thought. As a person and as a woman, Tojiko beat that monk in just about every way.

But I couldn’t deny the fruits of Byakuren’s vanity.

I sighed as I stepped back into my main room, taking a moment to consider my final preparations. My raised futon laid to my left, my study to my right. I’d promised Nue a drink, but this would be a very sensitive moment, one that alcohol could easily ruin.

Then there was the question of how I should dress for… oh, who was I kidding? I dared not attend such a dramatic moment in anything but my finest dress and cape. Which I was, of course, already wearing. It seemed that there was only one question left in my mind: the attitude I’d take when I returned to the temple.

[ ] I’d play the tender, lonely lover.

[ ] I’d keep calm, acting only as needed.

[ ] I’d play the proud empress.

[ ] Write-in.


[ ] Hold the booze. (For now.)

[ ] Sneak the booze in.

[ ] Write-in.

Votes End:
Time remaining: ::Timer ended at: 2019/07/31(Wed)19:00

>>No. 42191
Therapy sessions with Satori/Koishi would be so cool. It'd be like that one /at/ story that died in one update.

[X] I’d play the tender, lonely empress.
[X] Hold the booze. (For now.)

Would be kinda disrespectful to bring alcohol after Nue already got in trouble for having some.
>>No. 42192
[x] I’d play the tender, lonely lover.
[X] sneak booze and meat
>>No. 42193
Oof, I forgot Miko did had sons.

[x] I’d play the tender, lonely lover.
[x] Sneak in

Let's have some fun for a change.
>>No. 42195
[x] I’d play the tender, lonely lover.
[x] Sneak the booze in.
>>No. 42196
[x] I’d play the proud empress.
Appropriate smug levels must be maintained

[x] Sneak the booze in.
We should make good on our deal with Nue
>>No. 42204
File 156513581332.jpg - (82.27KB, 480x640, junmaiginjo.jpg) [iqdb]
[x] I’d play the tender, lonely lover.
[x] Sneak the booze in.

I stepped back into the halls, striding through them as swift as I could while maintaining decorum. With a few practiced turns around the right bends, I found myself facing a flight of stairs downward, which I then proceeded down. The air grew cool and damp as I descended into my temple’s underbelly.

Dim light from faint candles, cast across simple but rich woods and a smooth, tiled floor, offered a quiet atmosphere. Like the Buddhists, we stored a wide range of things down here. Clay, textiles, some food, ink, plenty of reagents, and incense all rested down here in crates, chests, or drawers. I stepped past them all to reach the wine racks on a far wall. Idly, I ran a finger along the caps. I couldn’t help a touch of frustration as I studied their makes; Gensokyo had access to a wide range of exotic climates and crops to brew from, yet few of the exotic brews agreed with my palate. Once I’d narrowed it down to good, ‘proper’ sake, my range was more limited than before.

I found the kaleidoscopic tastes of this land thrilling, but too often perplexing. To say nothing of, apparently, the classifications they used now.

So much happened while I slept. Much of the sake I’d known before would likely be called ‘Futsushu’ now, marking it as outright plebian. Honjozo simply didn’t exist back then, though it failed to impress me in this time, anyway.

I sighed, pulling out a random bottle of Junmai Ginjo, double-checking that it wasn’t one from my favorite brand. I’d promised her the really good stuff, but not literally the best bottle I could possibly offer. Rooting through the rest of the supplies, I found a small crate, stuffed some spare paper in it, and set the bottle down. Closing the crate, I fished out a few talismans and sealed it.

Despite her protests, I suspected Byakuren knew as well as I did what her temple would do to this treasure if allowed.

Slinging the box under my arm, I didn’t bother leaving the basement. I simply found a gap and put one foot toward it, then stopped. I never did settle on a good location to use as my regular entrance. I shook my head and stepped through, coming out in their own basement.

Theirs’ was a fair bit plainer than mine and less organized. But that suited my purposes just fine. I found a pile of boxes, then nestled my package in a corner of it. Now, to…

A hand clapped my shoulder. I jerked forward and spun around. How did she just…

“Yo, what’s in the box?”

Minamitsu flickered green, just once, as she sat on the crates beside my package.

I groaned. “It’s a gift for a special woman. A thanks for helping me in my efforts to woo my dearest love.”

“Do you ever talk about not-romance?”

“She’s the light of my life.” I paused, stroking my shaku. “Have you ever met a newly-wed?”

“Pretty sure I sunk a few. Does that count?” The ‘captain’ stopped and sighed. “Look, she’ll be out soon, but she’s still sermonizing. How about we have a chat first.” This girl wanted to know what the box contained. Badly.

I turned away. “I can’t bear another moment without her.”

Her desires scattered into the air, before she flickered green again, now floating, cross-legged, before me. “Best not to interrupt her right now, babe.”

I sniffed, turning my nose. “Only she gets to call me such things. And I would not be so uncouth as to interrupt her anyway. I’ll simply watch until she’s done.”

“You realize if she’s feelin’ the same way you do, that might just be a tad distracting?”

“But…” I fluttered my eyes, turning to stare into the distance. “I can’t bear another moment without her.”

A moment passed. I sniffled, blinked, and rubbed my eyes. I couldn’t hope to force actual tears out, but I could still put on a show.

She groaned. “Fine, fine. Go see your lover.” I turned back to see her waving me off. I stepped around her and moved toward the stairs, only for her to clap a hand on my shoulder. Again. “But uh, you wouldn’t deny me a bit of what you brought, would you?”

I sighed. “It’s a very special gift. But I suppose I could consider it.”

“Much appreciated, dame.”

I shrugged her off and made my way up. A small cluster of excited fear mingled among more sedate desires somewhere to my left as I rose, coupled with intense desires to feel even more terror. Adrenaline junkies, huh?

I shook my head. I could do this. I held my arms close, glancing hopefully but aimlessly from door to door as I made my way to the cluster. Incense and a calm practiced chant floated on the air. I couldn’t hear the details yet, but the delivery suggested a story or sermon. No doubt Byakuren’s evening activity.

“…samgate bodhi…”

Yeah, whatever. Sutra chanting, got it. Instead I chose to focus on the vocal texture as the doorway approached on my left. Smooth and crisp, with a good dose of reverence. I stopped at the opening, leaning around to stare in. The heavy presence of horns, odd ears, and odder skin-tones made it clear that more youkai than humans kneeled here, facing Byakuren’s serene form as she recited her admittedly elegant nonsense.

I clasped my hands and stared on, lip curling in a quiet, tense smile. As empty-headed as my ‘wife’ could be at times, she really did have an excellent voice. I hugged the wall, gripping the edge and pushing my torso out just slightly, like a lost little girl watching her crush sing.

Then Byakuren’s eyes opened, testing every acting bone in my body as she saw me and fumbled her next ‘gyate’ before clamping her eyes shut and returning to her previous rhythm. I mostly held my expression through the whole thing, letting only a quiet, amused wheeze past my lips.

Even under the waning light, I caught a rosier tint to her skin as she continued. Despite all this, she managed to get through to the end the way she started. Rushing through a closing statement and ‘thanks for coming,’ she excused herself and marched my way.

My act was yet unfinished, but I found an opportunity fast approaching. Just before we joined for this date, I would…

[ ] Grab her hand.

[ ] Hug her.

[ ] Kiss her.
 [ ] On the hand.
 [ ] On the cheek.
 [ ] On the lips.
  [ ] With tongue.

[ ] Write-in.

Votes End:
Time remaining: ::Timer ended at: 2019/08/10(Sat)19:00

>>No. 42206
[X] Hug her.

There's tender lover, and there's too lewd.
>>No. 42207
[x] Grab her hand.

We have places to go. We can save the heavy stuff for later.
>>No. 42208
[x] Hug her.

Kissing is too lewd. And let's not even talk about hand-holding.
>>No. 42209
Less than 24 hours left to vote, if anyone's interested.

Votes entered after the timer expires are still appreciated and may still count for tie-breaking, if I choose to do so. Otherwise, if you haven't voted and wish to do so, I encourage you to try to get it in with the next 17 - 18 hours.
>>No. 42210
[X] Broach the topic of polygamy

You guys are thinking too small.
>>No. 42211
[X] Hug

Let’s keep it calm for now
>>No. 42212
File 156607279445.png - (3.01MB, 2480x3508, preacherhug.png) [iqdb]
[x] Hug her.

Her face grew stern as she approached, bothered by my untimely presence. I waited until just before she would have stopped. I threw my arms forward, around her sides, and pulled her into a tight hug. Between the remaining distance and our relative heights, I found this pressing my face into her generous bust.

Shutting aside a growing desire to separate and play this off, I held her close. I sidled forward, pressing my gorgeous, slender body to her rather full, curving form. In doing so, I got my head to the crook of her neck, though the heavy, soft pressures now applied to my own relatively modest chest did little to ease my tension.

She was silent, of course, her desires swirling and conflicting worse than they had before. Her hands hovered near my waist, twitching in a way that made two of those desires rather clear. She wanted to embrace me back but didn’t dare make a move so bold. The incense-stained scent of her hair filled my nose as I nuzzled into her neck. I should have said something then, to embarrass her more or to produce some distance, but I found my tongue tied.

Then two of those desires resolved themselves and I found her warm hands sliding across my back. I didn’t yelp, but I did come rather close.

It was when we heard the first “D’aww” that we separated, both of us rather pink and anxious. A good quarter or more of Byakuren’s audience had stayed behind, seemingly for no purpose other than to witness our display. We had set out to sell this farce, and for once, it seemed we’d begun to succeed. I should have taken pride in that. I’d begun to worry if we even had a chance, after all.

And yet, I found my mind rather preoccupied with other things. I’d found myself suddenly grateful she was such a prude, for I worried I’d be unable to hold myself back the entire duration.

Byakuren cleared her throat. “Th-there’s a small festival being put on, in honor of our union. Shall we attend, dear?”

I chuckled, a little too shrill. “Already? Didn’t they have one just yesterday?”

She sighed. “This land seems quite fond of its celebrations.” She then turned her eyes to me. “It would be a good opportunity for us, don’t you think?”

“Was this your idea for our date?”

She glanced aside. “It is now.”

I waited a moment, holding my shaku to my lips. “Very well.” I took a sideways glance at the peanut gallery, noting the dominance of horns and odd skin colors among them. “Let’s leave this place behind.”

She nodded and strode forward. I fell in step behind her, relieved to have her taking the initiative in our ‘romantic’ affairs for a change.

We walked through the halls and out of the temple together, down the front stairs, onto the road, toward…

A mess of stalls and the growing sound of excited revelers, easily within eyesight of the temple itself. “I gave her a quizzical glance.

She shrugged. “Both our temples are essentially at the same place, so this seemed only fitting.”

I tapped my shaku against my chin, taken aback by just how fast they’d managed to get all that together. I made no comment, listening instead to the desires in the distance.

Everyone wanted either to have a good time, or to sell their wares. Many of them wanted both. The party had settled on the first intersection of the temple road, where one path went to the human village, the other to the eastern mountains and Reimu’s shrine.

I stepped forward, advancing to Byakuren’s right side, too abashed to show any further physical affection. Soon, specific people and stalls came into view.

And of course, a couple kappa had managed to snag one of the two stalls directly before us. An old human couple got the other. A purely coincidental arrangement, I was sure. And yet, an arrangement oddly fitting, too. The festive atmosphere tended to attract both humans and youkai to it, but only rarely did it truly bring any of them together, and the few exceptions tended to involve especially powerful humans, such as the Hakurei or thieving witch.

As we stepped into the festival grounds, I heard a new sound thumping beneath the commotion. Drums. They pounded in a rhythm I’d never heard before. Something slow but… wild, in a way. Undisciplined, but…

“Why, if it isn’t the lucky couple? Would y-”

“Commemorative badges! Get your badges here!”

I turned to find the kappa selling a series of small, tin circles with a yellow yin-yang in the center, surrounded by a somewhat compressed, violet dharmachakra. A Buddhist wheel, that is. I snapped one up from the booth, tossing a coin back.

The kappa scowled, then glanced up. She stared at me, then sighed, shaking her head. “You get that one, but I you’ll need to pay full price for a pair. And I’d better see you showing it off.”

I glanced to Byakuren, she shook her head. I held the ‘badge’ out in front of me. “It’s only fitting they’d make my faith the centerpiece.”

Byakuren snatched it from me. “Doesn’t it look like we’re fencing you in, though?”

I snatched it back. “Nonsense. It just symbolizes the way I spread it during my reign.”

She grew quiet at that. “That dishonesty doesn’t bother you?”

I glanced aside. “Not when I’ve got the needs of an empire on my shoulders.”

“You don’t, not anymore.”

“I’m not professing Buddhism anymore either, am I?”

“I… no, you’re right.” She sighed. “We should focus on this date, shouldn’t we?”

I chuckled. “Yes, we should.”

The beat stopped. I turned away from Byakuren to find a proud redhead in a very outsider-like white suit walking toward us with a pair of taiko drumsticks in her left hand.

She gave a full, but very short bow. “Hey there, lovers. Name’s Raiko. I’ll be your musician for the evening.”

Byakuren gave her a standard bow, I gave her a rather shallow one. Not out of disrespect, of course. “Pleased to meet you.”

I took a quick glance around the area. Beyond the various vendors, I found Ichirin, Murasa, and Shou to my left, drinking. To my right, I found Futo juggling plates before a handful of excited children. Tojiko wasn’t here.

All for the best, most likely.

Raiko cleared her throat. “So, what sorta song would you like to start with?”

I paused, something tightening in my chest. She wanted to have fun, and to see a show between us. I held my tone level as I asked my question. “What for?”

She snickered. “For your performance.”

My mouth slid open. Of course. Byakuren said we’d be dancing. Together. My mind wandered back to her…

I swallowed. Subtly, of course. A couple dozen people lingered around us, their desires and curiosities sliding our way. At least a quarter of them waited on friends or relatives, too. This crowd would grow before we finished.

I requested…

[ ] Something soft. We’d give them a show.

[ ] Something exciting. I’d drag them in with us.

[ ] More ambience for a just a moment, while I…
 [ ] Grabbed a drink.
 [ ] Greeted the attendees.

[ ] Write-in.

Votes End:
Time remaining: ::Timer ended at: 2019/08/21(Wed)19:00

>>No. 42213
[x] Something exciting. I’d drag them in with us.

The more the merrier
>>No. 42214
[x] Something exciting. I’d drag them in with us.

d a n c e
>>No. 42215
[X] Something exciting. I’d drag them in with us.
Party time
>>No. 42216
[x] Something exciting. I’d drag them in with us.

Easier to get lost in a crowd.
>>No. 42217
Less than 24 hours left to vote, if anyone's interested.

If you want to ensure your vote is counted, I recommend you get it in within about the next 21 hours.
>>No. 42220
File 15671184726.jpg - (397.81KB, 685x769, happyraiko.jpg) [iqdb]
[x] Something exciting. I’d drag them in with us.

My mouth curled into an uncertain grin. “Give us something lively, would you?” I cast my gaze across the crowds that had started to grow still around us. “I think we all need to let loose a little,” I turned my eyes back to the drummer, “wouldn’t you agree?”

Her mouth curled into a knowing smirk. “Are you sure you want that?”

I rubbed my shaku. “Of course.”

She giggled. “I like your spirit, but don’t come complaining to me if it’s not to your taste.” She turned her back to me, twirling her sticks as she returned to her drums.

Byakuren cleared her throat. I turned to her, eyebrow raised. She frowned. “I said we’d dance, but don’t you think this might be too rambunctious?”

I rolled my eyes and the beat started, low and quiet. Small, subtle bounces and sways moved through the crowds, but no one jumped in. Strange. I’d heard that impromptu dances had become more popular since my time. Yet no one wished to begin. I groaned.

“Futo! Join us!”

She jumped, scrambling to catch her plates before they could crash to the ground. Naturally, she caught them all. “I am most apologetic, Crown Prince. This art is not to mine understanding.”

I turned my eyes toward the Buddhist side. Minamitsu glanced my way, then to Shou and Ichirin, then back to me. I glanced to Byakuren. She sighed, glancing aside.

The beat paused with a heavy drum strike. “Alright, people! Let’s get this party started!”

A cymbal crashed, followed by a heavy drum beat. Something deep within that sound struck a chord in me. I threw my right hand up, pointing my shaku to the sky. I swayed my hips to each drum strike that followed, then dropped my right hand to my chest, where I clapped my left hand against it to her rhythm.

I glanced around the crowd as I tapped my feet to the beat. Futo fidgeted, glancing away. Reimu wandered around, behind the stalls. Minamitsu grinned, looped her hands around her companions, and marched them forward.

Ichirin squeaked. “Hey! Don’t…”

With another cymbal crash, I found myself spinning, then pulling Byakuren to my left as I slowed and stopped. I must have looked strange, possibly even stupid, but the music called to me in an exotic but familiar way. Something about this rhythm, this beat, had resonated with me. I’d never heard such a sloppy, uncouth musical styling in my life.

And yet…

There was a raw, enthusiastic sincerity from it. It was much like the awkward movements of the Buddhists beside me. Of Futo’s fidgeting sways. And more, it commanded an energy so raw, so fervent, and so…

Byakuren looked away, but I felt the subtle rhythmic tapping of her feet.

Primal. That was it.

I spun around to her right, lopping an arm around hers.

The drummer’s strikes, crashes, and rolls moved in a rhythm more of instinct than practice, stirring the audience one at a time to dance. As if without any goal or ultimate objective, but to be in the moment. To flow with the energy around her, and to amplify it.

I pulled, she refused. I swung off, toward the others.

It was this primordial movement that had harmonized with my soul. Even as I stomped and clapped to the beat alongside Futo’s struggling efforts to follow, as I spun, shaku high, by Ichirin and Shou, as I wrapped my arms around Byakuren’s sides and lifted her into the air…

I smiled. Our temple’s next festival could have benefitted greatly from her talents. I was sweating hard by the time I set Byakuren down again. I spun around to face her, closing in to…

I halted, as had Byakuren. Her bright red face filled my vision, her firm, frozen lips far too close to my own. My left hand rested around her chin. Half her desires pulled me in as the other half pushed me away.

What blasphemy was this, that my unconscious action, my spiritual intuition, would guide me here?

The beat went on, with much of the crowd following. But plenty of them hadn’t. They’d slowed or stopped, surrounded by the more fervent dancers, wanting to see what we’d do next. There were now dozens of them, filling much of the space around us. Given the nature of this party, I should not have been surprised where their interest would lie.

Minamitsu and Futo had begun something of a dance-off to my right, both displaying tricks and moves I could not comprehend. But even that failed to call the whole crowd’s attention from us.

I gulped, then…

[ ] Gave Byakuren an air kiss.

[ ] Scooped Byakuren into my arms and rushed back into the temple.

[ ] Separated to…
 [ ] Catch my breath.
 [ ] Dance with other partners more.

[ ] Kiss Byakuren.

[ ] Write-in.

Votes End:
Time remaining: ::Timer ended at: 2019/09/02(Mon)19:00

>>No. 42221
[X] Kiss Byakuren.
Chaste, closed-lips. No frenchies allowed.
>>No. 42226
[x] Gave Byakuren an air kiss.

Not yet. But soon.
>>No. 42227
Just short of a day left to vote. As usual, please try to get your votes in if you want to ensure they're counted.
>>No. 42228
[x] Kiss Byakuren.
A simple but direct sign.
>>No. 42231
[x] Kiss Byakuren.
>>No. 42232
My other story's been giving me enough grief that it's pushed even my update for this one back. I apologize for the delay and hope to get it out soon, but it probably won't be ready for at least a couple more days.
>>No. 42245
File 157022880694.jpg - (424.03KB, 800x583, byakumikokiss.jpg) [iqdb]
[x] Kiss Byakuren.

And then I pressed my lips to hers. I could not comprehend why the universe would push me to her, but I could not refuse such a clear invitation. The music faded away. I separated soon after, the faintest hint of incense on my lips. For a short moment, the two of us just stood there, music and people paused around us. Byakuren’s lips parted, then shut, then parted again.

An eager, excited holler rang through the crowd, riding on a stunningly familiar voice.

Minamitsu pumped her fist in the air, staring at us as her voice died down. Ichirin looked pale, Shou’s eyes jumped between her, Byakuren, I, the rest of the crowd, and back. A few, similarly eager participants applauded our display, though most held quiet.

I couldn’t help a quiet giggle, turning back to Byakuren to give her my best, haughtiest bedroom eyes. Then my mind finally caught up with my actions. My hands twitched. Grasping my shaku, I spun around and pressed it to my moistened lips as Byakuren’s fingers crawled up to her own. I glanced around only a moment before the tsukumogami interrupted my thoughts.

“Now, let’s take this down a notch.”

The beat, having cut out at some point after our kiss, resumed, slower this time. Quiet and gentle. As if on some unheard que, the revelers joined into couples, holding each other close as they stepped and swayed around us. That rhythm from before ran through me, drawing my hands to Byakuren’s. Hers floated toward mine before they halted, twitching to Raiko’s beat.

We stared at each other only another moment before parting. We had to do so. For… appearances. It would… It would have looked bad on her to engage in such intense affection so quickly. Yes. That was why, even as my hips swayed to the quiet thumps and trills, I looked studiously away from the woman I’d entangled myself with. I had to remain on her good side for at least most of our time together, after all.

The fact that my shaku had returned to my lips was pure coincidence. Uncertain of how I ought to have felt about the matter, but certain I didn’t want to confront it here, I stepped forward, away from the dancers. Turning, I found Byakuren do the same, returning to her people to seek companionship and copious distraction.

I felt a twinge of offense at that. A gentle, respectful kiss like mine should not require near as much diversion as she sought. I turned back to my own group, only to find Futo wandering, hips swaying, to the dancers I’d just left. My eyes followed her, until I heard a great desire from the disciples she’d left.

A desire to hear my story. Well, who was I to say no?

Taking another few steps forward, I lowered my hips to the ground and settled in. The disciples she’d been showing off to soon gathered around me, eyes bright and ears eager. They sat there a moment, in reverent anticipation. They wanted to know how the kiss went and how I’d sedu…

I ignored the young and spry, rather young man to my right. Besides, they wanted me to demonstrate my talent almost as much as to hear the story itself.

Slowly, I lowered the shaku from my lips. I took a breath, fixing my gaze on the young woman to my left. Thin and sharp-featured, but with a subtle, soft hint to her body. I listened but a moment to her alone, then grinned. “Their temple’s spacious, but just as restrictive inside as out.” I turned to the man directly before me, wide-set but muscular. “She’s difficult and naïve, but…” I sighed, tempted to complement only my new wife’s body, “she’s passionate and energetic.”

I turned to the man on my right. He locked eyes with me, then flung his gaze away, fixating his red face on a nearby pebble. I sighed, smiling. “You’d be surprised, young disciple, what the universe brings you when you’re in harmony with it.”

I turned my ears to the last two disciples, a young couple sat just behind them, hearing a heavy sense of distrust. A desire to be reassured that…

Another desire blasted through my ears. An insecurity ripped open. And nearby, yet another one, this one a growing resentment of…

I turned to find Shou leading Futo through that strange, rotating, stepping ‘dance’ that everyone else had settled into. A yearning for matches and oil floated to me, loud and clear. Further off, Byakuren and Ichirin stared hard at one another, with Minamitsu staring pointedly away from them. So many troubles, so little time. Even for a brilliant administrator like myself. I…

[ ] Stepped into Byakuren’s quarrel.

[ ] Peeled Futo away from Shou.

[ ] Reassured my disciples.

[ ] Tried to distract them by shilling the kappa’s badge.

[ ] Write-in.

Votes End:
Time remaining: ::Timer ended at: 2019/10/08(Tue)19:00

>>No. 42246
If I ever take this long on another update, without some major warning first, someone needs to ... chew me out or something. That was ridiculous. Hopefully I'm back to more regular updates for a while.
>>No. 42247
[X] Tried to distract them by shilling the kappa’s badge.

Support kappatalism
>>No. 42248
[x] Stepped into Byakuren’s quarrel.

She's obviously the reason of their quarrel so let's face it head on.
>>No. 42250
[X] Peeled Futo away from Shou.

Feels the most urgent.
>>No. 42251
[x] Tried to distract them by shilling the kappa’s badge.
Honestly, I just think that this is the most amusing option.
>>No. 42252
Just about 17 hours left to vote, if anyone's still thinking of it.
>>No. 42253
[x] Tried to distract them by shilling the kappa’s badge.
Let’s see where this goes

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