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File 154614013222.jpg - (179.36KB, 700x840, buddhistballs.jpg) [iqdb]
41628 No. 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
...Goddamnit.

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]
41654
[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]
41664
[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]
41689
[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]
41732
[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—”

“No.”

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
>>41736
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]
41740
[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]
41779
[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.”

“Oh?”

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]
41799
[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
>>41813
get well soon!
>> No. 41818
File 155054350242.png - (892.58KB, 700x1093, hinadismissive.png) [iqdb]
41818
[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]
41858
[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.

Odd.

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]
41882
[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?”

“Yes.”

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

“I could perhaps—”

“Halt.”

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.

>>41884
Pride, probably.
>> No. 41886
[x] fite
spell cards agogo
>> No. 41887
>embarasment

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
>>41888
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
>>41889

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
>>41891
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]
41899
[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]
41909
[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]
41912
[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]
41979
[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.

“Kokoro.”

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
>>41982
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]
42143
[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.

What?

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]
42159
[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
>>42163
Just over 19 hours from the time of this post.
>> No. 42173
File 156313361293.png - (95.77KB, 272x637, dragonstatue.png) [iqdb]
42173
[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?”

“No.”

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]Cunning
-[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.
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