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File 127120646485.png - (432.05KB , 567x567 , But the future will be MADE to change.png ) [iqdb]
116599 No. 116599

No. 116600
File 127120697857.jpg - (333.55KB , 570x800 , As it was So shall it be.jpg ) [iqdb]
[☴] Radio Four is static

I have to kill her.

I have to.

I need to.

I must.

So... why can't I do it?

My hand is on my knife. Tight, squeezing, caressing the handle.

The blade wants to be free.

No, I want the blade to be free. I want to plunge the blade into her chest, to stop that heart once and for all, for all, for me, for we.

But I can't do it.

All I can hear are her words, bouncing around inside my head. I don't think she was right to do what she did to me, obviously. But...

What can I do?


Like she said, she's already won.

No matter what I do, I can't win.

Every fiber of my being screams for her blood, but she would still win.

And maybe, worst of all, she's right.

Everything I've done has been for nothing. No matter how this ends, she wins.

My reckoning is forfeit.

There's nothing more I can do here.





I stand there, shaking and trembling. I should kill her anyway. Even if she wins, so what?! Fuck that, and fuck her!

She deserves this!

Yeah, she does.

But what good is it going to do me?

I'll be dead within the week, maybe within the day.

I can't release those I've dragged into this mess along with me.

I can't even release myself.

Truly, I am fucked.

I let go of the knife, and turn away.

No idea where I'll go, what I'll do. But I can't stare at her any longer.

I take a few steps and become aware of a sudden, sharp, searing pain in my chest.

I look down to see the gohei protruding through my shirt, stained and bloody. A breeze blows at my back for a moment, short but strong.

I reach up to touch it, to finger the miko's weapon, curiously. Even light contact with the paper burns like the touch of the sun itself.

I slowly turn, even as my vision blurs.

My footsteps are shaky, and unsteady, and sound doesn't come through to my ears very well. Everything is overshadowed by the sound of blood pumping out and away.

No questions are asked. I just sort of look at her.

The green girl looks back at me from where she still sits, propped up against the red pillar. She gazes down at the mortal wound, and at the head of her weapon, protruding from me.

"You understand, right?" she says.

I nod.

"I said I wouldn't stop."

I nod again.

"...I'm sorry it turned out this way, but this had to be done."

I nod. I hate it, I hate it, I hate it so much, but


she's right.

There was never any other way, was there?

I was never going to win, from the very beginning.

Things start getting darker, and I try to take another step, but, my knees bang into the cobbles as I drop, unable to stay standing.

I'm dying, I think.



I don't want to die.

But there's no way I could have done anything.

Was there?

There's a painful crack as I pitch forward, head slamming against the ground.

Everything feels a little better, if only because I can't feel anything.

And I can't see anything.

And I can't hear anything.

And I can't anything anything



anyt hing

any t hin g

an y t h in g

a  n y t  h i n   g

a      n          y                       t

BAD END: "I'm a beliiiever~"

[ ] Back one choice.
-[ ] by the legacy of these fools!


If you people continue bitch and moan and blame one another for bringing this about, and they should have seen this coming, and you TOLD them so, and how could they be so STUPID and blah blah blah blah, then so help me god, I am turning this story around right here and taking us back home, do you hear me?

Do you?!


Now sit down, keep your hands off each other, stop bickering, wait warmly while I write, and cut the arguing out. We'll be there soon enough. For a given value of "soon."

To those of you who picked it "Radio 4": Many of your reasons and much of your reasoning was, for the most part, understandable and in most other circumstances, the "sensible" thing to do. It's not surprising you gravitated towards the more noble-seeming of the two. More on why the noble choice was the Bad End choice when I get to the FAQ section.
No. 116602
[x] Back one choice.
-[x] by the legacy of these fools!
No. 116603
File 127120723426.png - (569.68KB , 498x737 , She smiles because she knows what is yet to come.png ) [iqdb]
Last thread: >>115742
No. 116604
I meant Q&A. Sorry.
No. 116605
Ah, well. Probably should have known.

[X] Back one choice.
-[X] by the legacy of these fools!
No. 116606
Are "fucking called it"s discouraged, as well?

[x] Back one choice.
-[x] by the legacy of these fools!
No. 116607
[X] Back one choice.
-[X] by the legacy of these fools!

Even though it's the only choice left so having a vote is pointless.

You really like mindfucking with us, having people hint towards mercy...

That is unless said dream guardian was one of the gods fucking with us.

What's the point of the so called moral quandary when killing her was the right choice?

Now we'll have to listen to people rub it in our faces. This is the internet after all, one cannot merely win but utterly rub it in the defeated's faces.
No. 116608
[X] Back one choice.
-[X] by the legacy of these fools!
No. 116610
[x] Back one choice.
-[x] by the legacy of these fools!

So we picked the choice we all thought was the better one and it turned out quite the opposite, oh well.
No complaining/gloating needs to happen, we just move on and go with the other vote.
No. 116611
You have to have at least one bad end.

Its tradition
No. 116612
>we all thought was the better one

"We all" excluding the people that were against it, I assume?
No. 116613
I dunno, one could not be an asshole to others. It's a obscure, yet quaint idea, I know, but call me a nostalgic traditionalist.

If you have to ask, you did not read the note at the end.

I just said that. No reason to go repeating it again. I've got things under control, thanks.
No. 116614
[X] Back one choice.
-[X] by the legacy of these fools!

Seeing as I had the ending of a certain movie in mind when I made my vote to walk away, this is pretty much what I expected would happen.

I'm just disappointed it wasn't a rain of hundreds of gohei that took the heroine down, but that might have been a bit too over-the-top under the circumstances.
No. 116615
Y'know a good part of me wants to accept this as the end ...

Whatever, rip her fucking head off then.
No. 116616
[X] Back one choice.
-[X] by the legacy of these fools!

Well that wasn't very surprising.
No. 116617
[x] Back one choice.
-[x] by the legacy of these fools!
I salute you for your punishment Fell. Who would forgive a torturer and monster.
No. 116618
[x] Back one choice.
-[x] by the legacy of these fools!
...to be perfectly honest, I was kinda hopping we actually would drag her down to the torture chamber and whatnot. Oh well.
Do we get bonus content if we get all the bad ends?
No. 116619
[x] Back one choice.
-[x] by the legacy of these fools!
The best thread opener in the story of this site. A wonderful death scene and the most terrying picture I've ever seen. I salute you fell (from grace) and thank you again.
No. 116620
This is no proper Bad End until we get to revel in all of the graphic detail of what Green Girl did to Orange and Kana, ya know.
No. 116622
[x] Back one choice.
-[x] by the legacy of these fools!

We kinda did bring this on ourselves by hesitating in a life-or-death fight. Though I really should have seen this coming since I usually associate in-game radio static with a dead soldier since every time one with a comm system goes down their radio goes to static, then nothing if even their comms don't survive.
No. 116623
Go back to Gurochan.
No. 116626
[ø] Back one choice.
-[ø] by the legacy of these fools!
No. 116627
If you need a Q&A to see why this happened, there is no hope for you.
No. 116628
File 12712232703.jpg - (21.96KB , 400x400 , gnillort.jpg ) [iqdb]
No. 116629
In before "HA HA YOU STILL DIE" lol so randum end before REAL option is available
No. 116630
But I'm not trolling!
I only have one last thing to say about the topic.

This was a person who played jump rope with our intestines.
No. 116631

It was a dumb decision, I'm not arguing that, but it also didn't result in a sad end, just a bad end. It COULD have gone totally tits up, but it didn't. I guess what I'm leading up to is take it easy.
No. 116632

It wasn't a dumb choice, it was just the wrong choice. Different things. But yeah, I was actually kinda hoping it would be a bad end, but for another reason. It would kind of suck to let her go and get an ending then wonder what would have happened if we'd killed her.

This way we get to see both ways.
No. 116633
[Å] by the legacy of these fools!
Suffer not a green girl to live
No. 116634
Alright, alright. Let's all just keep calm, and take Fell at his word that he doesn't want this to turn into a faction fight.

We've got the other option available, so...
[+] Back one choice.
-[+] by the legacy of these fools!
No. 116635
[X] Back one choice.
-[X] by the legacy of these fools!
I hope I make the right choice!
No. 116636
[X] Back one choice.
-[X] Radio Four is static

No. 116641
I'm a little disappointed that it was so dull. A 'chicken out and get run through' kind of thing is so plain. Oh well. No actual harm done.

Back one choice, etc.
No. 116642
> What's the point of the so called moral quandary when killing her was the right choice?

Read the story and think about it.

Congrats on finishing, by the by.
No. 116643
File 127128519441.jpg - (170.41KB , 500x333 , 1dfa7jmzh3skl.jpg ) [iqdb]
[x] Back one choice.
-[x] by the legacy of these tools!
No. 116644
>What's the point of the so called moral quandary when killing her was the right choice?
There was no moral quandary. People just saw one where there wasn't one.
>That is unless said dream guardian was one of the gods fucking with us.
The dream guardian didn't say we should be merciful at all.
No. 116646
>The dream guardian didn't say we should be merciful at all.
See >>112941:
>"...Should you succeed, I pray that you will find mercy in your heart," she says, and sighs.
I suppose you could argue semantics and say that she's not actually telling us to be merciful, but come on.

Honestly, moral quandaries (real or imagined) aside, I'm on the edge of my seat waiting to find out how this situation could conceivably turn out well for us even if we do kill Sanae. Like I said in the last thread, I voted to spare her because I cannot see any way whatsoever to avoid divine wrath after killing her, short of a gigantic cop-out deus ex machina. Of course, I suppose there's no guarantee that it is possible to avoid it. Maybe the True End is just as unhappy as the Bad End was. ;_;
No. 116647
No. 116648
Deus ex machina? Well there's this 17 year old that seems to have taken a bit of a shine to Kogasa's friend.
No. 116650
>"I'm a beliiiever~"

I will consider this your well-deserved revenge. I do however still hope that you can find it in your heart to Love me, Love me~
No. 116651
Freeing her from her self-imposed delusion sounds like mercy to me.
No. 116658
I am with her. Kill the bitch.
No. 116661
[X]With my magic helmeeeeeeet!

...I should feel bad for doing that. Though I wonder how many people will get the reference.
No. 116662

Could her friend double as a spear?
No. 116663
File 12713454314.jpg - (68.72KB , 392x292 , bye.jpg ) [iqdb]
No. 116666
He did in the fight with a certain vampire.
No. 116685
I think the fragmentation of consciousness and the implicit acceptance of death was well put, and is acknowledgment that peaceful living is as ever no guarantee for a peaceful death.

Props for effectively using white space & the CJK-comparability kill screen.

[x] Back one choice.
-[x] by the legacy of these fools!

Eat the liver!
No. 116692
As more time passes, I become progressively more curious as to whether this update is just fucking huge, Fell is being totally swamped at the worst possible time, or whether he's just stalling. There is also a very small voice in the back of my mind saying this is the actual end end, and we have been outstandingly trolled.
No. 116696
He would have told us if he is busy. Probably 10 sites update. The next scene is one of the most important in the whole story, he needs to find the right way to write it.
No. 116718
File 127155273021.jpg - (212.96KB , 607x889 , loveliness incarnate.jpg ) [iqdb]
No. ಠ_ಠ

>fell (from grace)
The name is actually from a Warren Ellis comic.

Faggotry overwhelming.

That actually had nothing to do with it. >>116484 has it.

I agree with you so very much. It was originally going to be much better, but I'd had a crappy day when I was writing it, and hadn't written down the specifics of how I'd envisioned it occurring. I apologize deeply for this.

Thank you!

Not a Monkees fan, huh? I'll keep this in mind for later.

Thank you, but trust me: the original version was much, much better.

>whether this update is just fucking huge,

>Fell is being totally swamped at the worst possible time,
Plenty of that, too.

>or whether he's just stalling.
I am waiting for something, actually. Although I still have plenty of writing left to go, so even if I got it now, I wouldn't be done.

>There is also a very small voice in the back of my mind saying this is the actual end end,
I'm not this mean.

>and we have been outstandingly trolled.
...You know, this bit doesn't have to be connected to the line it was a part of to still be true.

Just putting that out there.

Don't worry, you'll be fine.
No. 116726
>...You know, this bit doesn't have to be connected to the line it was a part of to still be true.
The more obvious you make it that there's going to be a huge-ass twist ending, the more worried I become that it won't live up to its build-up, and yet simultaneously, the more excited I become about the possibility that it will. Godspeed, Fell.
No. 116732
I get the feeling Fell doesn't like writing torture scenes. What a pity...
No. 116740
...Apparently you live in Fucking Missed The Point, Kansas.

When I wrote the torture scenes, it was with the intent of evoking sharp, painful emotional responses, not so that creepy gurofags could enjoy them.

If you like needless, pointless gore, go fap to Saw XVIII or something, and get the hell out of my story.
No. 116748
Tsk, tsk. Enjoying a torture scene doesn't have to be sexual. I'll admit the scenes were much less painful for me than you probably intended, but I was not aroused by them. They were just well-written, entertaining bits of story, and you seemed to have knack for writing them.
No. 116749
I wil always hate you for that.
No. 116756
You're still missing the point. You're not supposed to be enjoying it or wanting more of it in discrete portions without context of a greater story.
Besides, Sanae just killed Protagonist outright. It's not like she's going to bother doing anything but kill the other liabilities.
No. 116757
Who said I'd want it out of context of a story? Story is what separates these scenes from the fetish fuel on Gurochan. Well, that and good writing.
As for how I'm not supposed to enjoy it...heh, probably.
No. 116758
>What a pity...
>Tsk, tsk.
>...heh, probably.
I figured out why I hate you.

There's this smugness in your posts. Every single one of them sounds like it's written with this condescending smirk on your face.

That and your constant, smooth Oh-I-didn't-mean-it-like-that; You-have-it-all-wrong backpedaling both remind me so painfully of YAF's more idiotic behaviors, and that is the final and most damning reason why I hate you.

inb4 more careful backpedaling or crap-quality trolling.
No. 116760
Well, shit, you're right.
No. 116763
File 127172699869.jpg - (585.02KB , 1000x1000 , smug aya grin.jpg ) [iqdb]
No. 116777
Updates when
No. 116778
When the thing I need for it is done.

...I'm very, very sorry this is taking so long.

If it's any comfort, I've been writing more or less every day. I'm not stalled or in a rut or having writer's block or anything. I'm just pressed for time.
No. 116785
File 127187845653.gif - (23.44KB , 60x56 , Archon_SC1_HeadAnim.gif ) [iqdb]
>I am waiting for something, actually. Although I still have plenty of writing left to go, so even if I got it now, I wouldn't be done.
>When the thing I need for it is done.
>I've been writing more or less every day.

No. 116795
Thing obtained, and it is wonderful. Updates coming tomorrow-ish.
No. 116796
I'm betting it's art of the final scene.
My F5 finger is primed and ready.
No. 116798
That was a really evil cliffhanger.
No. 116801
So, it turns out that I hadn't really read what I was writing. I haven't scrapped the update, but I am going through and rewriting parts and adding to it.

What all this means for you, the readers:
There will still be an update tonight, but it won't be the enormous thing I'd originally envisioned. You'll get the first part of it, and the later parts will come in the following days.

What this means for you, the readers who are also writers:
Get the hell back to work already, holy shit. /th/ has been almost silent for almost a week, now. That is so unacceptable that it hurts. Get your asses back in here and start rattling them pots and pans.

Do it for yourself, for THP, or for your readers, but just do it. Please?
No. 116803
The silence alone would be tolerable, what really gets to me about this time of year are the stress-related casualties. Stories drop like flies as writers get bogged down or flip out on account of exams/graduations/etc, and this year seems especially bad... I still can't believe NARH dropped his story over in /youkai/.

Well, regardless, it makes happy to see you remain unphased by this dreadful season, Fell. I'm looking forward to these next few updates quite eagerly.
No. 116804
File 127198743873.jpg - (1.21MB , 1142x1616 , ckan(n)onical ending.jpg ) [iqdb]
[☂] by the legacy of these fools!

I think I don't want to do this only because I am thinking of what is to come.

My life will be over soon after this business is concluded; I'm fairly certain of that.

But all the same, I cannot let this moment pass me by. I didn't go through hell and back and hell again and again and then blow the assholes holding me down in half just to give up now.

My moment of reckoning is finally at hand.

Hunkering down on one knee in front of the green girl, I look her over for a quiet minute as I regroup and get my thoughts in order, trying to clearly formulate what I want to say.

She watches me back, not making a move. Her stillness could be borne of arrogance, confidence, confusion, or possibly even the simple acceptance of her fate. I don't know which, and as long as she doesn't pull any further bullshit, I'm happy not caring.

My voice is calm, gentle, and composed when I finally begin to speak. A quiet feeling of controlled fury drives me, but it stays out of my voice. It resides in my mind, not in my tone.

This is far trickier than it sounds. Sooner or later, people sound like what they're thinking, whether they mean to or want to or not. Those that don't are either terrified or soulless, uncaring bastards.

And even then, it will eventually come through. No matter how much control they think they have, something will slip.

I just need to keep it together for a few minutes.

Should be doable. Right?

...God, I hope so.

"Let me tell you something about compassion and generosity," I say to her. She looks a little confused; a philosophical talk probably isn't what she expected.

That's just perfect for me. A confusion is fine, too.

"They are good and wonderful things, both of them. I know that, you know that. But forget that part of it for a moment, and just think about them conceptually. Eventually, you realize that the most interesting thing about them is that they are human virtues."

I smile and hold a finger up as she begins to speak. "Ah-ah, my turn to talk... for once." I wag a finger at her, and continue.

It's interesting, having a captive audience. I might feel bad about this if I wasn't looking forward to it so hard.

"...Now, that isn't to say that these virtues are found solely in humans, or that humans have any kind of exclusive claim to them. That's the funny thing, see? In Gensokyo, the majority of the youkai population walk, live, eat, breathe, live, and die in a mostly human form."

She frowns slightly. "I'm pretty sure I've—"

The green girl receives a poke to her hip with the sharp end of my lance, and the rest of her sentence dies off in a bitten-back cry of pain. He must have been going awful fast to break her pelvis, too.

Like I said, solid work.

"I'm the one with the talking stick," I tell her, unable to keep back a smile. "So shhhhh, okay? ...Now, yes, you're right. Not all youkai look human, certainly. But most of us do, most of the time. Still, it's weird, don't you think? I know you must have wondered about this, yourself. You only came to Gensokyo sometime in the last 5 or ten years or something; isn't that so? So you must have wondered why, in a land full of great big terrible monsters from legends and ghost stories, all of these creatures turn out to look human-y?"

She nods uneasily, slowly, biting her lip. Good to know I'm not the first person to wonder about this. Not so good is discovering who the second is. But when you want to ponder big, strange, curious questions about things you take for granted, the best way is to look at them from the perspective of someone from outside the situation. But when the situation is the nature of the very world you live in, well... a literal outsider is what you need.

As for me, I just like to wonder a lot. Like and liked, both, really, but I obviously haven't had a lot of free time to do that, lately.

Been sort of busy, and all.

Though, in a few minutes, I'll be rid of the source of busy-ness.

And soon after that... I probably won't need to be concerned about being busy ever again.

Or about much of anything.

"I mean, a night sparrow should look like a bird, right? Oni should be large, red and hideous, tengu should be filthy and have long noses, and kappa are supposed to wear a leaf full of water on their head and be obsessed with grabbing a fairytale meatball out of your ass."

Chuckling softly, I smile at her, and shake my head.

"...But for whatever reason, that's just not how things are, here in Gensokyo. The night sparrow has wings and feathery bits, but she looks otherwise human. The oni have horns, and chains, and alcohol, but they look otherwise human. The tengu wear those ludicrous shoes, and have wings or tails or wolf ears, but they look otherwise human. And the kappa like wearing hats, but they aren't bald, and they have no real interest in any meatballs in anyone's ass."

There's a little pause in my rambling as I snicker at the strange thought. Even she smiles a little, though it disappears quickly.

Who the hell came up with the notion of shirikodama, anyway? Somebody with no knowledge of anatomy and a hankering for asses, is my guess. There's nothing there, and it's a commonly known fact. After all, most youkai get pretty good at human anatomy, early on... or at least, parts of it.

You have to know where the tastiest pieces and choicest cuts are, after all.

I'm a little rusty on that, though.

"The point of this," I say, picking up the thread of conversation again, "Is that even the non-human people of Gensokyo tend to look human anyway. Nobody knows why, and I don't think anybody questions it anymore, let alone thinks much about it, but damned if it isn't true."

I try not to sound too frustrated about that. It's only part of what I'm getting to, so there's no sense in getting sidetracked. Need to stay focused.

She's staying plenty focused. I wonder how much of that is because of the dangerous predicament she's in, and how much is her own personal interest in this sort of thing. It does seem to be right up her alley.

...It's kind of a shame she went down the path that she did. I could see myself being good friends with her.

Unfortunately, she sort of hunted me down a lot and kind of did a little repeated killing and torturing. So fuck her, and fuck what could have been. It didn't happen, and I need to deal with this, the world I'm in.

"But, as a result of this weird... thing," I say, waving my hand around vaguely to indicate the situation or phenomenon, or whatever, "It's not really all that shocking that we youkai have come to accept several human things as our own. They have become just as much a part of us and now help make up what defines us. Even the most monstrous youkai will still usually wear clothing, even if it's only a loin cloth and a jacket. Forget the really obvious, material things for a moment, though. Beyond such outwardly visible things, we've also come to accept several human values and human virtues as..."

I pause, thinking of the term.

"...Natural?" says the green girl, hesitantly.

"...Yeah, natural. Like, they're a given." I look back at her, and frown. "...I'll let the talking slide this time, but hush."

She nods silently.

Good girl.

Won't do you any good, though.

I reach out, and touch her face, softly.

The desire, the urge, the need to bare my claws and simply tear it off is very, very, very great.


She wanted me to be civilized.

I shall give her civility, then. I shall give her the civility she wants does not want didn't want that kind but exactly this kind the worst best favorite hated kind.

My kind. My kind's kind.

"All of that leads up to this: I will admit that I feel pity for you, that you cannot see beyond your own sight and past your own visions. Pity is one of those human virtues, and not one that is classically popular among youkai. Nevertheless, I feel it for you, and I feel it deeply."

...Where are these words even coming from? I'm not a poet, and this is definitely not poetry.

But I know what this is, even if I don't know the source: It is what needs to be said.

Not only that, it is what needs to be said in a way that she will hear and understand and know and believe.

She cannot help doing so.

"I understand your dream, and I understand your fervor," I tell her, gently tracing a finger along her features. "I feel sympathy, for I know what it is like to want something, want it with every last piece of your soul, want it so hard that you would walk into death's open jaws or presume to order death about simply to attain that goal. Understanding and compassion, too, are human virtues."

She wants to say something, I can tell, but she's almost spellbound; eyes watching me, watching my hand.

Instead, she simply nods.

"The ability to forgive one's enemies in the face of the horror and the pain and the suffering they wrought upon you is an exceptionally human virtue. But this, too, I feel for you."

It is true.

I do forgive her for what she has done.

I understand her drive and ambition.

I feel pity for her.



The hand pulls away from her, letting a few green strands fall back into place.

The kind, caring expression on my face hardens into something harsh, unloving, and unyielding. My eyes narrow, and my smile disappears. The hand that touched her falls upon the handle of my knife, gripping it with renewed confidence, and maybe a little eagerness.

Her own eyes widen slightly.

She knows what is coming, and if she does not know, she suspects, which is worse in so many ways.

"...Mercy is another virtue, and it is the culmination of all these that come before it. But that is where my humanity stops. Mercy is not a youkai virtue. We may spare those enemies that we believe worthy, but that is not mercy. That is respect, pure and simple. We do not meaninglessly spare those that have attacked us out of malice. There is no sense in it, and someone that attacks you for their own, selfish, hateful ends is just as likely to do it again the moment you turn your back.

"Respect is shown to worthy enemies, not mindless killers. Not to those who have some use left in this world. And you... you, who assaulted me, killed me, tortured me, hunted me, kidnapped me, sent me fleeing for my life all over Gensokyo..."

A soft, sleek whispering sound can be heard in the moment of otherwise-silence as I draw the knife from its sheath.

Her eyes are wide, betraying her panic, but she holds her chin a little higher, perhaps preparing to accept what is coming, perhaps simply to show a little backbone in the face of adversity.

Neither will be of much good to her.

"Even if what you did truly was for the good of everyone else in Gensokyo, I am she who is not 'else.' This exception takes exception to what you have done. You deserve no mercy, and I will give you none."

A smile forms on my face; short, and tight.

"I shall see you in hell," I say to her.
No. 116807
File 127198751791.jpg - (163.40KB , 627x985 , Slips between her fingers like lost opportunities.jpg ) [iqdb]
My hand flicks out, swinging once to the right.

A line of red appears on her neck, thin and beading for the first fraction of a second.

Then her heart pumps, and the waterfalls of ruby and garnet come pouring out.

Tears spring to the green girl's eyes as she finally understands that this is the end. Her hands come up to her neck, feeling about in momentary wonder and confusion.

I know what it is like, having been there.

There is that new, disorienting sensation that you have never felt before; this line of pain, pain, pain, and warmth. Liquid heat flows into your hands, and then through them. It flows freely and richly, and your first thought is:

'Oh no! I should stop this!'

You clutch at your neck, concerned with trying to stem the tide.

'Stop, stop,' you think. 'Why won't it stop? Why is there so much?'

But soon, all too soon, the rational part of you tells your body what is going on. It knows that you are bleeding out, and that there is nothing you can do.

In a few seconds more, your life will be over, it says. Everything you have thought, believed, felt, and known will cease to be. Nobody will know these things, for you will not be here to remember them or to share them.

You are dying, and the end will arrive soon.

There is no tomorrow for you.

The world will move on, as it always has, and will continue to do.

You simply will not be moving with it, or with anything else,
ever again.

And yet, you frantically, frantically try to stop the flow of blood.

But it will not stop, like an avalanche will not stop.

Things begin to grow strange, fuzzy, and dull. Your heart is killing itself, throwing away all that blood out the hole in your neck.

Curious and unusual thoughts start running through your mind. The most trivial details become significant in ways you could never normally appreciate.

Your brain, deprived of what it needs, begins to fail. You find yourself unable to think straight, unable to do even the simplest things.

Weakness overtakes you, and the blackness crowds in even further.

Finally, it is too much.

You fall over.

And then

at last

you die.

All this, she is experiencing for the first time. I am all too happy to share this knowledge. After all, she bestowed it upon me against my will, in much the same manner oh so long ago.

I don't smile. But I do feel better.

So much better.

I feel relief

I feel elation

I feel free




The tears flow now, both from her eyes and my own. She looks sad, scared, and desperate.

I just look sad.

The green girl tries to speak, but can make no noise other than a soft, quiet burbling as blood pours and pours out of the slice in her neck, bathing her in red.

"If you want to blame someone," I tell her My voice is soft and kind again, despite the harsh, ugly truth of my words calmly, "Then blame yourself. Days ago, I told you that I would kill you. I told you that when you sat broken, beaten, and defeated before me, with your life's blood pouring out through your fingers, you would recall the moment when I gave you ample warning."

I gesture at her, and she looks down, and then back up at me.

"Do you remember that moment?" I say, quietly.

Her eyes have taken on a pleading, frantic look, even as they start to glaze over.

"As I said it then, so it came to pass, and here we both are."

I give a little shrug, even though I think she can barely see anything anymore. Her heart still frantically beats beats beats, beating away the last drops of life.

I say nothing further.

This is enough for me; the opportunity to simply watch her die.

Every motions and movement she makes, every single sign of life she exhibits; all become slow, and sluggish.


at last,

they stop.

The blood ceases to flow from her neck; her heart has thumped its last.

A second or two passes, then the bloodstained body of the green girl in red slumps to the side, hitting the ground, eyes frozen in that same wide, terrified, empty gaze.

So it goes.

I watch her for another few moments, then wipe the blade of my knife on the hem of her dress before getting up.


Blinking, I stagger momentarily. Spots of color rush through my vision, then disappear. Damn. I didn't think I was sitting that long.


Presently, I feel the first little drop of rain. It falls hesitantly, as if afraid to land anywhere near this ruined shrine.

Can't really blame it, I muse. I don't think I'd be too keen on splashing down here, either.
No. 116808
File 127198755257.jpg - (60.29KB , 800x531 , Thank god almighty; free at last!.jpg ) [iqdb]
Heaving a quiet, heartfelt sigh, I look around. The air around the shrine is starting to wobble, sort of, and to discolor slightly. Guess that means the barrier is going down.

Good. Great. I've had enough of this place to last me several lifetimes, and I won't be sorry to see it go.

Or to see myself go from it.

...Well, I've done that often enough. But never on my own; never just walked out, walked away.

It'll be an interesting experience. That, or it'll just be a relief to be done with it.

That second one has a greater chance of winning. There's nothing interesting left here, anymore.

Looking over at my weapon, I consider the thing.

Time to scrap it, I guess. It served its purpose, did a fine job of it, and now it is to be honorably retired. You can't ask for much more, as a thing. Been there, being there. Done and doing that.

I feel a little bad about it, but it would be incredibly unwise to leave it in one piece, let alone to keep it around.



Time to stop putting this off. I don't like having to do it, but if I don't...

you just don't want another one of me around

that could very well be part of it

hey! you're not supposed to agree with that, jackass!

then you shouldn't have said it now, should you?

At the moment, my back starts to itch. Really, really itch.

No, hold on.

It doesn't itch, but an itch is the best word for what this feels like. This bothers and nags and insistently makes itself known.

Finally, I can't take it anymore, and lift up the back of my shirt, pulling it forward over my shoulders. Craning my head around, I try to get a look at it as best I can, lacking a mirr— Ah, wait.

Rummaging about in the bag at my side, I pull this circular hard red thing that pops open and has this pad filled with some kind of peach-colored powder that sticks to the skin.

It also has a mirror. Kind of smells funny, too, and the powder tastes bad.

Opening the circle, I hold it at an angle, then move it around.

The occasional, infrequent drop of rain plips onto the mirror. Sometimes they hit the pad, raising a little cloud of peach-pink dust.

It's confusing, maneuvering it like this. My brain wants to see one way, so my hand thinks I should move it that way, too, but that is not how mirrors work. Then I move it back the other way, but I've moved it the wrong kind of other way, which i— oh, wait, there, yeah.

Like that.


Having gotten the hang— sort of —of moving this thing, I slowly move it around to point at my back, where I can feel the that-ness coming from.

What I see in the mirror fills me with joy.

The long strips of paper, placed there so long ago by the green girl, are peeling off; flaking away. Some of them curl at the edges, blackened. Others appear to burn lightly apart, like paper fluttering away from a fire, turning into ash as it floats off into the air. The writing on them becomes illegible or fades away entirely as the ofuda disintegrate and break apart.

I've waited for this moment so very, very long, ever since she put them on me.

I have to blink away fresh tears.

I'm really, truly free.

She's gone.

She's dead.

Concrete evidence is there, in my mirror: She is gone, they are gone.

Sure, I watched her die. But this is Gensokyo; dying isn't always a sure thing, sometimes even for humans. But now?

Now I know for certain.

I know she won't be haunting me anymore, won't be hunting me anymore.

Okay, okay. Focus time.

I laugh silently, and it feels good.

After they've all peeled off and fluttered away, I turn my gaze to the next order of business... or at least, the first order, pushed back to the second by virtue of then-more immediate concerns.

The lance's handle is strangely cool in my grasp. Not hot, not slick from sweaty palms and panic... no bloodstains on it, either.

Not entirely surprising, but... maybe a little surprising.


do i really have to?

afraid so

it's a damn shame

tell me about it; the risks are too great, though

i know, but still

the sooner we do this, the sooner we go

Tipping my weapon down, I point it towards the ground, held out at arm's-length from my body.

The metal cone and bladed end of the lance begin to slowly and glow as the weapon heats up, turning a ever-brighter shades of red. Eventually, the golden-white glow of molten metal lights up the area around me in pale, sullen brightness as the weapon melts apart, thick, sagging pieces of bright yellowness slough off the still-unharmed lacquered black wooden shaft of the nagamaki. Must've been some good wood.

Or a good weapon.

It did well enough for me.

The metal drops on the ground, melting out a little pit for itself amongst the cobbles. A few small leaves and pieces of debris catch fire briefly as it puddles over them. Stray drops of rain make quiet hisses and little puffs of steam as they land on the liquefied weapon's remains and boil away in an instant.

Once it's all done, I toss the handle to the side, and start walking towards the stairs.
No. 116809
File 127198768053.png - (276.66KB , 800x500 , Just wait for it.png ) [iqdb]
Halfway there, the collapsing barrier makes the air twist and shudder somehow, once, and then again, before falling away completely.

A gentle breeze blows through the pillars, and I stiffen in fear, momentarily.


I turn around in a panic, and throw myself behind a pillar, looking around furtively.


The breeze goes as lazily and easily as it came.

I ease up, but only fractionally.

Deciding to risk it, I lean my head out and take a quick peek around.

...No, not the green girl. She's still lying in a pool of her own blood.

If it was War Mother, she would not only have called up more than an early morning breeze, she'd have done something quick, violent, and unpleasant to me.

Just... just the wind, then.

I hope.

...That ugly little reaction of mine is probably going to take a while to get over.

Ugh. I can just imagine the fun I'm going to have, dealing with all the rest of the traumatic shit I'm going to go through because of the last six or seven months.

Not looking forward to that. Not at fucking all.

I'm alive, though, and they're not. That's got to make my head at least a little better, right?

I smile.


Slowly, it dawns on me that the rain is starting to pick up a bit, and that I've been standing still, staring up at the overcast morning sky for at least a minute. Maybe a little less. Maybe a lot less.

I think I'm losing it.


Quick and fast; someone running.

I know these footsteps, and I look back down to see my citrus princess racing towards me, crying and laughing.

Smiling, I run to meet her part of the way, holding my arms open.

We embrace, giggling and sobbing at the same time, holding each other tight.

Neither of us can talk straight, but we're happy to settle for this closeness, this togetherness, this moment of joy won from the hands of those that sought to remove us from the world.

It's this moment of simple happiness, clasping my beloved close to me that banishes every last doubt I ever had about whether what I did was right or not.

It was.

If being this happy and feeling this good is wrong, then something in the universe is deeply flawed.

I regret nothing.

...For a few moments.

Opening my eyes, I see White Opening leaning against one of the pillars a short ways from us. She looks a little pale, even for a ghost. Seeing me looking in her direction, she gives me a little smile and a wave.

I smile back, unable to return the wave properly at the moment.

It strikes me, then, that her smile looks uneasy.

She must see something of this realization in her own expression, for she nods her head to the side, gesturing and half-glancing over and beyond, to the stairs.

I follow her directions, not seeing what she's gesturing to, or—



My heart sinks as an entirely new kind of fear creeps over me.

Uncertainty, worry, and the beginnings of a deep, ugly sense of dread soak into my very soul.

There, far from the three of us and a short ways from where the stairs begin, stands The Emperor's Color and the other one, watching us closely.


I've said it before, and it's as true as it ever was: it feels good to be updating, again.
I hate not having something for you all, so this last week and a day has been a goddamn rusty razor scraping on my nerves.

Absolutely-perfect disintegrating-ofuda picture comes courtesy of our beloved Pygmalion.
No. 116810
File 127198774889.png - (848.67KB , 850x1150 , Hina`s balls are huge.png ) [iqdb]
And they act as an effective spacer, too!
No. 116811
Damn it! Now we have to wait to find out the truth and to see if Kogasa is really out of the woods yet.

Though I now see why the choices lead as they did.
No. 116815
Sanae fan here.
I thought I was mentally prepared for this. It really couldn't end any other way. It's justified in context with the story. But holy hell, that was just painful. I can't remember the last time a piece of writing socked me in the gut this hard, especially with my guard up and god damn, I'm tearing up. I haven't cried in years. Argh.
Damn you and your incredible writing talent, Fell. I'll get you for this.

...looking forward to the conclusion.
No. 116817
>you die.
τετέλεσται. Don't go coming back now, y'hear?

Now we just have to hope the Border Team is only here to serve as the exposition brigade. If our happy ending gets snatched away by "LOL SOLVIN DA INCIDENTS" I may well have a rage-induced aneurysm.
No. 116819
File 127199419457.gif - (175.83KB , 480x360 , Bravo.gif ) [iqdb]
Words cannot express what I am feeling right now, so here's a gif instead.
No. 116820
Well, I didn't feel as happy as I should've. Despite her best efforts, I still couldn't help to feel sympathy for her at the last minute.
It had to be done though, she said so herself, so I really didn't feel regret either. It's just...
It was a waste you know? A fucking waste.
No. 116821

Poor Sanae, she was only doing it in the name of SCIENCE!

I shall be waiting warmly for the next update.
No. 116822
Faith isn't SCIENCE!
She wasn't doing this to test her theory, she was doing it because she TRULY BELIEVED she was right.
No. 116823
just when i get past the cliffhanger and think things are going to tone down awhile, you hit us another one. nice going Fell. now i'll have to suffer the suspense until you update again. hopefully quite soon.
No. 116824
>I can't remember the last time a piece of writing socked me in the gut this hard
He is especially good at this. That is probably why it took him so long for this. To get everything possible out of this update.
No. 116825
File 127201407584.jpg - (273.07KB , 950x950 , totallyawesome.jpg ) [iqdb]
It was a kind of mix between FAITH (the axiom that youkai are dangerous) and SCIENCE (the hypothesis that you can make them less dangerous through torture etc)

Not exactly the best of combinations.

But I'm talking inanely, and should be concentrating on Fell's stuff more. It really was painful to read, but... in a cathartic way. Not a happy cathartic way but a kind of relieved one. Wait, I guess there's kind of joy in there but it's mixed in with sadness as well and other sorts of emotions that is difficult to quantify without repeating trite words. I think Fell got some sorrow in my joy, and some relief in my sorrow. Or something.

Seeing it from a professional point of view I utterly jealous and only wish I could write this well. From someone absolutely caught up in the story I am full of emotion-thingies and am waiting anxiously for the epilogue after the crescendo. Well done Fell, don't let up now.
No. 116826
It was worth the wait.
No. 116827
Hate to double-post, but an odd thought struck me.

Now that Hell has been paid, I find it strange how much easier it is to let go of the resentment this Sanae has built up in me as a reader. Those moments of shock, and what seemed to be regret... It brought about a sense of closure. I'm fairly certain that even the faintest possibility of your nutjob Sanae influencing how I see other writers' versions of her is gone now.

It takes a special kind of talent to bring about killing hate for a character in your readers, but writing a conclusion to a chapter that enables the reader to forgive that character... that's a whole new level.

No. 116833

Ex Nine, if your reading this, implement it when you finish your story.
No. 116837
Daaaw, Fell has fans back home.
No. 116838

I mean damn, Fell. That was some seriously great work.
No. 116839
It's gonna be quiet around here once this story is done. Real quiet.
No. 116840
To be honest I kinda feel that way about his Yukari now, sure she's something of a monster, but looking at the history of the story, I can't exactly blame her. It just happens that the main trio is in the middle of it all.
No. 116850
Have there been any updates since this post beyond the one in this thread?
No. 116851
I don't even know what you're asking, since your question makes no sense.

But the answer is still "Go fucking look."
No. 116852
File 127212471342.jpg - (145.69KB , 680x1166 , The (citrus) princess is NOT in another castle.jpg ) [iqdb]
The Emperor's Color stands there, proud and sly and tall and quiet and ever so slightly smiling. Maybe.

Her hand rests on the shoulder of the other one—

No, I can say it now

—on Hakurei's shoulder I still instinctively cringe, but nothing happens because I am free carefully holding her back.



Hakurei looks furious. Absolutely, positively furious. Every so often she exchanges a few terse, hushed words with The Emp— Ah, no... Lady Yakumo. Right.

The taller blonde woman replies just as quietly each time, and her shrine maiden ends up staying where she is, fuming. Her eyes watch me, stare at me, burn into me.

She is not at all happy.

Orange picks up on my reaction, and draws back slightly.

"...What's wrong...?"

I say nothing, only stare.

She looks at me, and turns, following my gaze.


She sounds concerned, but not as terrified as I'm going to be in another minute or so. She's usually better at this sort of thing, I think.

Turning back to me, she gives me a kiss, and a small smile. "...I'd like to see... her, if you don't mind."

I look at her strangely for a moment, but nod. She's got the right, I suppose. Like me, she suffered at her hands.

We walk back over to where the dead miko lies, unseeing, unhearing, unanyth-ing.

As she ought to be.

"You really killed her, then..." says Orange almost sadly, from where she stands behind me, next to the green girl.

I nod, and lean against a pillar a little ways away from them. My head kind of hurts.

Rain goes tap-plip-drip all around us..

"Do you regret it?"

"Absolutely not." No hesitation at all when I say this.

"...Then you have a plan for how we're going to leave here, alive?"

I grimace.

"Not a damn thing, honestly."


She sounds surprised, and ...upset.

"They can have me," I say, rubbing my forehead. The pain is starting to fade away, thankfully. "I've done what I wanted, and I can't ask for more than that."

My citrus princess is silent for a very long stretch, then:

"Is... Is that so."

The hurt in her voice comes through quite clearly. The hurt comes through and hurts me as well. I feel awful, but it's what needs to be done.

If they take me, she can live, and I'm okay with that.

My job here is done.

My life is done.

Done and done.



...Then why do the choked-back tears in her voice feel worse than any of the green girl's tortures?

Her voice comes back, hesitant and careful, now. "Can I ask you something, then, before you go turn yourself in?"


I don't sound bitter about my chosen fate at all.


If I think that hard enough, maybe I'll believe it.

"When you had to take care of me that day, when I came back from Shinon, and I was in bad shape— for me, at least —did you mind having to do that? To help me out, and help me around?"

The pain of the headache seems to have gone away. Finally.

"No," I answer. "I didn't mind at all; I was happy to help."

...It's an awful odd question to ask.

Something tells me something is not right.

I don't really hear the something, though. Yet. Either of them.

"Would you honestly mind having to stay with me if I was like that for, oh... fifty years straight?"

"No, not at all," I reply, immediately.

...It's a weird question to ask, since I'm not going to be around for another fifty years, but even if she was like that for a hundred, a thousand, or ten thousand years, I'd happily accept it.

It's my citrus princess, after all. For her, I would do nearly anything.

She breathes a shaky sigh of relief. "That's good, then."

Something calls to me, a little louder this time.

I turn my head and look back at her.

"Why do you a—" I start to say, cutting off suddenly as I behold the sight now before me.

My orange girl kneels over the dead shrine maiden, left arm drawn back and aiming a fist at the miko. Her entire arm is burning brightly, covered in thick, quiet flames, burning bright white with blue on the edges.

My jaw drops.

"NO!" I scream, and lunge in her direction.

The blazing fist And if I look really close, really really close, it could almost look like a dragon sprouting from her arm is brought down, slamming into the green girl's chest.


Still more to come.

Don't count me out of the game just yet. I've recently had some good ideas for NiG (Ones that helped me figure out what I want the story to feel like, which I only had a hazy, unclear notion of until now), so that may be starting up sooner than I originally thought.

I dunno. Nine's Yukari seems to actually delight in what she does.
No. 116853
Can't wait for the next installment.
Also I see where this is going.
No. 116854
>I've recently had some good ideas for NiG
no idea what it is but still hooray!
No. 116856
File 127213046949.jpg - (1.94KB , 400x305 , Princess' Color.jpg ) [iqdb]
If you are happy, you make me happy.
Please, don't make yourself miserable on my account. Your selflessness is too selfish.

No. 116857
Oh shit.
No. 116858
Fell, are you going to do what I think you're going to do? While Sanae deserves the Sword of Damocles over her head, the method by which it will be placed will only reinforce her own beliefs. And we'll still end in the "Eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind" situation.
No. 116860
File 127213677254.gif - (139.38KB , 487x640 , cutback on funding.gif ) [iqdb]
You can't bring Sanae back you will regret this
No. 116863


No. 116865
File 12721466982.jpg - (84.52KB , 700x856 , 2d61bf7d8876cbeba667b7e9a3dccaee.jpg ) [iqdb]
Settle down, Beavis.
No. 116869
NOT FAIR! she didnt ask if we would take care of her if the reason she ended up like that was restarting this all over again, how the hell are we supposed to take care of her while running from the green bitch?
No. 116870
Let's just wait and see what happens and NOT run like a chicken with its head cut off. To be honest the wait is excruciating for the next part.
No. 116872
Dude, did you read what I wrote? Sword of Damocles.

If you still can't figure it out, Orange will be in control of whether Sanae lives or dies for the rest of her life.
No. 116873
How about we use actual grammar and punctuation like we're actual human beings capable of intelligent thought?

Seriously, does this website look like an AIM chat window? Are you 14 years old again?

If the answers to both those questions are "no," (and they are) then you have no reason to be writing like an idiot.

Please at least pretend to give a damn about how horribly you present yourself online, and follow the rules, okay? You and the rest of that handful of people visiting this site that can't seem to get that concept through their heads.
No. 116875
Reinforce her beliefs? Beliefs do not get any more reinforced than the ones she already has. As a pansy-ass liberal in real life, I don't like to say things like this, but Sanae is , by all appearances, beyond redemption; the bad end was proof enough of that. If things end up as this cliffhanger seems to indicate they might, I just hope she ends up bedridden or something so we don't have to worry about her recruiting someone else (or, god forbid, having a kid) to carry on her wackaloon plans.
No. 116877
Or that Orange hammers in some sense with her words.
No. 116882
File 12721731585.jpg - (9.14KB , 194x255 , reimu burichan rage.jpg ) [iqdb]
She doesn't deserve a second chance, Reimu can eat a bowl of dicks.
No. 116886
"If you don't do as I say you'll die."

"...Didn't I JUST DIE to prove I'm willing to die for my cause?"


Damocles' sword only works if she's scared of swords. Which she's not! I doubt knives would work as implements either.

Hm. The only way I could see this working even a little is if it makes Sanae permanently empathetic, meaning she'd feel any tortures she commits. Or Yukari says she'll pay attention and put her down if she starts anything.

Nevertheless, I'm going to put faith into Orange that she has SOME kind of a plan for getting us both out of this mess. I can understand that fifty years or longer is a price she's willing to pay.

Fifty years of being crippled for someone's life? Not to say anything bad about injured people's situations, but for a youkai that's a relative eyeblink of their time.
No. 116891

The way I think it'll work is that Orange has restored Sanae's life but not her power. That way she can go on with her shrine-sweeping duties but not so much with the torture. Additonally, this gives Orange a powerful bargaining chip against Reimu.
No. 116892
Well, shit.
No. 116895
What if because of the time she has deen dead she has made to over the Sanzu and got judge by Shikieiki?

Knowing your going to hell becaues of what you have done will change anyone.
No. 116896
File 127221320181.jpg - (180.30KB , 700x700 , yamabig.jpg ) [iqdb]
>Knowing your going to hell becaues of what you have done will change anyone.
The Yama's just another youkai who hurts people. Why should Sanae take anything away from that apart from youkai are harmful?
No. 116898
File 127221657628.jpg - (42.85KB , 400x400 , youre going down.jpg ) [iqdb]
You seriously believe she couldn't tell the difference between your run-of-the-mill people-eater and the judge of the dead?

Setting aside that I seriously doubt she's been dead that long just yet, I would think that by the time she completed her boat ride with the nice lady with the big scythe, found her incorporeal ass in court, and was being lectured by someone who made it clear she knew every single thing she had ever done in her entire life, that even Sanae would have to realize the reality of her situation and know better than to outright dismiss such a clearly high-level authority as "just another youkai".
No. 116903
I think you guys are missing the point. It doesn't matter if Sanae changes her beliefs or not. At this point, she won't be able to continue because Orange can just kill her if she does, and her plan would fail even if she didn't have that hanging over her head.

Her plan required secrecy. She can't very well go around torturing youkai if everyone knows about it. If Kogasa gets off this mountain alive, it won't be a secret anymore. That's pretty much all that matters at this point.

Really, Orange made the best possible choice given the situation.
No. 116913
File 127223319753.jpg - (530.55KB , 750x900 , The other sister demonstrates the technique.jpg ) [iqdb]
There is a massive thump that I can feel even in my bones as her fist connects. A bright blue shockwave bursts out from between them. After a moment, the wave somehow rushes back in, drawing with it

s o m e t h i n g m i s s i n g f r o m t h e w o r l d

I do not know this.

But I felt this, as surely as I stand and breathe.

What was felt is now known, and I know something that I do not truly know.

The green girl's body arches, twisting and contorting, dancing limbs flicking little light spatters of blood around for a moment, before it sags again and lands in the crimson pool with a splash, once more unmoving.

But somehow, in some way


This is all kind of secondary, however.

The light fades, but my anger and rage and frustration and confusion and bafflement do not.

I can only stare at her as she rises slowly, shakily. My mouth is trying to form words, but I can't.

I can't think of what to say.

Nothing seems appropriate.

Nothing could convey my... my all things, everything, anything, all of it, the entirety of what I feel right now.

I raise a shaky hand, pointing at her, still trying to find words that refuse to come.

Looking up at me at last, she sees the expression on my face, and looks guiltily away.

"You..." I manage to croak out. "How... how could you?!"

She starts to form a reply, but the dam has burst. I stand there, staring accusingly at her as the words begin to pour out, my voice slowly rising higher and higher.

"How fucking could you?! After all that fucking festering hateful bitch has done to me? After what she did to you?! After all the fear and terror and pain and sheer, unspeakable HELL she put me through? How could you just... just... waste yourself, on her, of all goddamn people?!"

My voice starts breaking up, and tears begin to flow anew as I continue.

"That hateful, evil cunt took away half a goddamn year of my life, and you just... you let her live? You gave her another chance at life? After all the things I went through just to kill her?! You know what this meant to me, how badly I wanted this! How could you... how could... you just..."

Openly sobbing and unable to speak coherently, I gesture weakly at her, and collapse to my knees. My body shudders as I cry, unwilling to believe what has just happened.

All my work, all the things I strove for, the one goal I had


and undone.

She kneels next to me, holding me to her while the tears pour out. As if in sympathy, the sky cries as well. The rain picks up and soaks me, but I'm forever and a half away from caring about that.

I sob into her shoulder, pounding ineffectually against her, but still she holds me tight, holds me close.

When it seems like I can't cry anymore, simply because I have nothing left to cry out, but plenty of anguish remains inside, she runs a gentle, loving hand through my hair.

"The question is not 'How could I,' but rather, 'How could I not?'" she says, softly. Her voice comes through, calm and gentle, even as the rain gets louder.

My eyes turn to look up at her, wordlessly begging her to explain.

"I love you too much to let you go," she says. "I said something like this before, do you remember? Maybe it seems okay for you to throw your life away, and maybe you think you're done with all that you want to do..."

I nod into her shoulder.

"...But that's an awful and selfish thing to think."

She squeezes me close as she says this.

"I don't want to lose you, Kabuki. I know you think you have nothing left to lose, and that you're okay with letting it all end here and now, but I'm not. I don't want to let you do that. I can't let you do that. I love you too much to allow that to happen, and to have you simply decide for me what is best is cold and selfish. So I've done something selfish that I, too, think is for the best. Because after all, I won't lose you this way."

"What..." My voice comes out hoarse and cracked, and I have to clear my throat before starting over. "...What did you do?"

"I've given her fifty more years to live."

Hearing this makes me feel unimaginably cold and empty.

That bitch gets another half-century?

That's the price of my life, then?


"Because as horrible as she is, as monstrous as she is, as evil as she is, she is a pure and honest soul beneath that, and deserves a chance at life. What she did was inexcusable, and death would have been the best option for her by any other measure. But I know that she will not be the same person, as she has walked death's shores for a while, and gone before the Yama."

My brow furrows, and I look up at her, searching her gaze. "...How do... No, wait. How could you know that?"

She smiles enigmatically in return, but says nothing. It occurs to me, then, that someone on such good terms with the Lady Yakumo is probably much more than they seem.

I'll care about that later, though.

I sigh and lean against her, giving up on that line of inquiry. My head is too full of thoughts to think well.

Something else occurs to me, though, and I ask it; probably just so that I can have something to say rather than out of any desire to get an answer.

"...So what happens when you do this to a human?" I inquire. "Is it any different from when you did it to me?"

"Yes, a little," she says, running her fingers slowly through my hair. "For a human, they... well, they basically become a youkai for a little while. They have a youkai's life force running through their body, after all. That's what allows them to recover faster, and to live through otherwise mortal or life-threatening injuries. They don't really develop any special powers, or become able to fly or anything. They're generally unconscious or too busy recovering to find out, anyway, so that's about it."

I blink once, then twice.

A slow smile begins to build on my face, and I begin to laugh.

It's soft at first, but it eventually turns into sweet peals of joyful, genuine laughter.

Even when I lose, I win.

All hail the Crimson Queen.
No. 116914
File 127223328152.jpg - (639.61KB , 694x1110 , Surrounded by broken chains.jpg ) [iqdb]
After another minute or so, my laughter dies down into an occasional fit of giggles.

I cuddle Orange close, grinning. She looks at me, a little worried.

"...What was that about?" she asks.

"I'm sorry for getting angry at you," I tell her, drying my tears on my sleeve. Not like it does much good with the rain, and all, but still. "You were completely right about what you said. This was the best thing you could have done, I think. Thank you so, so, so much."

A snicker escapes my lips as we hug.

Hesitantly, she asks, "Are you planning something?"

"Hardly," I reply, scoffing lightly. "You've seen my track record with plans."

"Mm... you've a point, I suppose."

"Hey!" She gets a playful slap on the head. "You're not supposed to agree with me!"

sweet, sweet justice

shut it, you

My citrus princess winces and laughs a little, rubbing my back gently. Oh, right. She's not in peak form, is she?

"...I need to talk with her in private before we leave, though," I tell her. "How soon will she be... um, back?"

Orange pulls away, and regards the blood-soaked miko beside us. The smile on her lips turns a little sad as she looks at the girl. "I'd give it another minute or so. You're lucky I got to her as soon as I did."

I don't know if I'd call that luck.

Sighing softly, she looks back over to me. "I'll help Kana get ready while you... talk."

An uneasy look crosses her face, and I know what she's thinking.

I can't really blame her for it.

"Don't do anything bad, okay?"

Such a vague, unspecific word. It encompasses all degrees and types of negativity in one simple thought.

Shaking my head, I give her a tired smile.

"I won't."

After watching us for a minute or two, she turns back, and goes over to help I can do this Kana.

...Feels good, saying names.

I crouch down next to ...her, and wait.


Sure enough, she stirs after about twenty seconds or so.

It's interesting to watch.

Her body twitches and jerks slightly.

Then nothing.

Again, and the movements come a bit more forcefully.

Back to more nothing, and she lies still in her little red lake for several moments.

All of a sudden, she sits bolt upright, and screams, a raw-throated, fear-filled, panic-stricken primal sound of utter, abject terror.

Next to this, the sounds of a child waking up from a nightmare are soft, adorable cooing noises.

This is the sound of an adult waking up not just from any common nightmare, but from having been in hell itself.

Hell is no normal nightmare. It is the nightmare, the most terrible one ever for the simple fact that it is real, it is happening to you, and worst of all, there is no waking up from it, ever again.

No comforting bed awaits you

No soothing words will be spoken to calm you

No hands will hold and reassure you.

Only terror and torment.

...Or so I'm led to believe.

The scream just now seems to lend this some credence, though.

The miko's eyes, now sort of a muddy bronze compared to their previous brilliant gold, dart back and forth, wide and wild. Her head jerks around this way and that in short little twitches, breath coming quick, rapid, and short. Her lower lip trembles, and whimpers issue forth from her throat. Scared, soft, terrified little things; small only because the sheer overwhelming fear is tapping into primal human memories of being hunted and stalked, telling her: Stay quiet. They will find you if you make noise.

They turn, twitch, flick back, settle on me, then go even wider.

All manner of noise from her stops dead.

She looks completely and utterly petrified.

I almost feel sorry for her, for what I'm about to do.

The key word being almost.

"Good morning~!" I say to her cheerfully. She flinches a little at the unexpected positivity of my attitude. "How's it feel to be back in the land of the living?"

She trembles a little at that turn of phrase.

"Still a little jumpy from the side trip, huh? Well, a little jaunt into hell will do that to you," I continue good-naturedly. "Wasn't exactly where you'd expected to end up, was it?"

The green and red girl shudders violently, and her mouth appears to be forming words with no sound given to them.

That got to her, it seems.

I lean close in a conspiratorial sort of way, like a girl about to share a juicy bit of gossip with her friend. "Sooo... Betcha you're wondering why you're back all of a sudden, huh?" I say, in a loud whisper.

Maybe what I'm doing is excessively cruel.

...Well, she did say I was a monster.

Her head bobs in a nod ever so slightly, despite seeming to still be reliving recently witnessed horror after recently witnessed horror in her mind.

"Well, it seems like my girlfriend over there—" I point to Orange, who is talking with Kana "—didn't take too kindly to me, you know... killing you, and all..."

I put stress on the words as I flick the air right near her throat. She yelps in panic, and almost falls over as she tries to scoot away.

Okay, that was a pretty cheap trick. However, it's nothing compared to what I'm about to reveal to her, so I should really save the smiling evilness for then.

"...But she's pretty nice like that, I guess," I say, amiably. "She's a better person than I could ever hope to be, and she even cared about your wretched, vile, murdering ass enough to bring you back to life. And that brings me back to my question: I'll bet you're wondering why you're back and alive, all of a sudden, aren't you?"

I grin.

"yes" she says, faintly, quietly, and yet with a heavy rasp. It's probably the only reason why I heard it.

"Weeellllll, you see... she kind of has this... thing she does; saving lives and all, does it for the people of Shinon; you heard about that, I know."


"How she does it, if I'm led to understand this right, is that she puts part of her life force in them. It helps keep the people stable, or stay strong until they can get some proper medical help, or allows them to recover from an injury faster... But it's not just her life force that's doing that, no. It's that she puts the very nature of a youkai into 'em."

My grin grows wider as I watch the dawning horror on her face.

"...Sooo... guess what's inside you, keeping your broken bitch-ass alive and ticking?"

She looks down, at herself, and reaches a trembling hand up to touch her neck. The wound is still fresh, still open, but not bleeding anymore. Her bronze eyes come back up to meet my steady gaze, tears forming at the corners, and a mute look of pleading written all over her features.

"Yep. You're pretty much one of us for the next fifty years. ...Oh, heh, yeah. Didn't tell you about that part, did I?"

My friendly, amicable expression drops, and my voice hardens into something like steel as I lean very close to her, the stench of blood filling my nose. Her eyes are as wide as the sun, and she seems to be shaking her head, trying to deny what I say.

"You heard me right," I tell her, softly. "Fifty fucking years. And believe you goddamn me, it's more than you could or should ever, ever, ever hope to deserve from anyone in the world, but my beloved has a sense of caring and compassion and love for all things that outstrips the benevolence of ten thousand monks. You don't deserve her mercy at all, but she has given it to you, and now we're stuck with that. So, here's how it's going to go."

I poke her in the center of her chest.

"You kill me, she terminates that, and terminates you. You kill her, and I will burn this shrine down to the fucking bedrock, and... well, you'll be dead anyway; you die when she does. If the smallest thing happens, and I have even the tiniest shred of suspicion that you are involved or plotting to get revenge or retribution in any way at all, she will terminate it, and I will burn the shrine down. You will live your life, and you will live it to the very end of those fifty years. You and yours will stay as far away from us as you can. If you ever see me or her coming, you run the other fucking way. We leave each other alone from now on. Do you understand me?"

Her mouth has fallen open in sheer terror, and she leans back away from me, shaking like a leaf. Still, she manages an unsteady but definite nod.

"...Good." I lean back on my haunches, and stand up. I'm about to turn and leave when I notice her gohei lying a short ways away. "Don't forget this, now," I tell her. A few kicks and nudges with the wooden blocks of my geta send it back over to the green and red girl.

Mostly I just want to see if she's really stupid enough to try something in her state, after what I just said.

She looks at it dully, then back up at me. With fearful, hesitant movements, she leans out a hand Smap smap plip goes the rain on those perfect limbs to pick it up—

—and then drops the stick as if it were a hot coal, crying out in pain. She stares at it, confused, scared, and bewildered. Her eyes go from it to me, and back, and back again.

...Well, that's odd. Or... maybe it isn't.

"Looks like she wasn't kidding about the 'makes you a youkai' bit." I say, in a thoughtful tone. "Not only can you not even kill yourself, but it looks like you've been screwed right out of the miko job, too. Do your powers even work anymore?"

She looks at me, uncertainly, worry for herself growing with every passing second. Finally, she closes her eyes, and gestures slightly... Frowns, and does it again. And again.

Her mouth sets in a thin line, and her gesture is a little sharper this time.

Yet again, now a little panicked.

Her eyes open up again, and the tears are back in full force.

I shrug. "Those that play with fire end up burned," I tell her. "Just be glad the burn is only this bad."

As the implications sink in, she sags, and hunches over slightly, before cradling her head in her hands, unwilling to believe what is happening.

I walk past her, my work here now done.

...No, not all the way done.

"Have a good life," I call to her, over my shoulder.

The rain picks up around us, falling harder, and the ex-shrine maiden begins to cry, a deep, sorrowful wail from the darkest reaches of her soul as she mourns the newest gift that became her greatest loss.
No. 116915
File 127223344874.jpg - (775.89KB , 994x988 , Working women.jpg ) [iqdb]
I meet up with Orange and Kana. Orange gives me a look, having heard the sobbing miko, but I hold up my hands in a gesture of placation. "Just explained her situation to her clearly. Didn't do a thing otherwise; don't worry."

She refrains from commenting, but frowns a little deeper.

"Really," I say, trying to reassure her.

She looks skeptical, but sighs. "...I hope so."

My friend perches on the poltergeist's back as we carry her between us, and in this way shields all three of us from the rain.

All right, then. Time to get this over with.

We make our way to the stairs, and stop in front of Lady Yakumo and Hakurei, who are casually blocking the way.

Casually, because they're not sealing off every way through but the one they're standing in, but rather simply making a point of being in the place where it happens to be easiest to go through to get to the stairs.

Very non-aggressive, very relaxed about it. Very effective at making you feel uncomfortable, because these are not people that you can just ask to move aside.

If they are in your way, then they have business with you.

Even if you didn't know it.

And even if you don't have business with them; that they are there means you certainly do, now.

So it's really not all that odd that I feel just the tiniest bit uneasy.

They approach us, Lady Yakumo wearing a friendly smile. Feeling more uneasy, now.

She stops just short of our little band, and looks us over for a moment.

"You've been busy today," she says.

I nod, my mouth feeling dry. "Yeah," I reply. "Had some... things to take care of. Up here. Stuff. You know, just kinda... stuff."

Off behind us, in the wrecked part of the shrine, something gives way, sending whatever load of debris and rubble it was holding up to the ground with a loud crash.

I'm trying to think of a worse time it could have chosen to do that, and coming up with nothing.

The Lady Yakumo's smile widens. Hakurei's glare deepens.

"The lovely Miss Anaberal looks to be in less than prime condition," comments the youkai woman, looking at the ghost. "I'm sure she has other pressing engagements to attend to, and people who are worried for her."

Orange and I look at Kana, and Kana stares back at Lady Yakumo. "Don't suppose you could send my ammo, too?"

The white-robed youkai's fan drops into her hand from a wide sleeve, and she nods. "Certainly. It wouldn't do to have it lying around here, after all. ...Questions might be asked."

Hakurei looks up at Lady Yakumo, incredulous.

"Wha..." she starts, trying to find the words. "Wait, Yukari, are you serious? You're going to just, just fucking let them go? How the hell can you do that? You can't pretend this just... never happened, or something!"

Lady Yakumo pouts a little, turning to look at her human companion. "Reimu! I'm shocked that you would even think of leveling such terrible allegations at me! I'm simply interested in cleaning up this mess... both figuratively and literally. Shell casings make terrible gravel for a rock garden, you know. I'm just being thoughtful, that's all~"

With a gesture of the fan in my ex-tormentor's direction, she adds, "...Now go help dear Sanae, would you? She seems to be in such a sorry state right now."

Hakurei glares at her.

"...Pleeease?" asks the youkai, giving the shrine maiden pleading puppy-eyes, and clasping her hands together.

The sound of Lady Yakumo whining gently like a child begging her parents for something is an incredibly surreal one. "Just listen to her, would you?" says the blonde woman. "She's feeling terrible, and she needs someone who can help. There's nobody here who can do it that's more qualified than you."

The red-white sighs, but nods begrudgingly. "Fine. ...Fine. You're right." Hakurei shoots her a look, probably trying not to seem like too much of a pushover in public. "...But we need to talk about this later. Mark my words, we will be talking."

The Lady Yakumo claps her hands together in happiness. "Thank you, Reimu~"

...I shudder involuntarily again. I'm still not used to hearing those names.

Hakurei stalks off towards the bawling mountain miko, and Lady Yakumo turns back to the three of us. She reaches out with her fan and snaps it open, twirls it in a small circle, then finally clicks it shut just as she taps it on the poltergeist's head.

Kana disappears into a gap, and my friend has to hop into the air to stay afloat. The gap closes after our ally is gone, and he settles back down into the crook of my arm. Orange steps closer to me, under the cover he provides.

Lady Yakumo smiles at him and reaches into one of those holes in the air that she makes, pulling out a parasol to cover her own head from the rain, then turns her gaze back on us.


relax, it's not competition

are you sure?

pretty sure; doesn't look alive to me

fine, if you say so

i do say so


I notice the blonde youkai biting her lip a little to keep from laughing.

"Are you really going to try and hide what happened here?" asks Orange, from beside me.

Lady Yakumo hides the laugh with her sleeve. "Oh... not quite, Lady Orange," she says with a chuckle. "I can't hide such widespread destruction, or distract Gensokyo from asking why the Moriya gods will be out of commission for a while, and certainly not from why their shrine maiden is now bereft of her powers. Goodness, I'd probably have to start another war with the moon to make people forget about this."

She laughs richly, not bothering to conceal it, this time.

I stare at her.

'Another,' she says. Like she has done it before.

This sounds familiar, somehow, and it is an extremely unpleasant concept to imagine. That she laughs it off like that does not help matters.

Trying to focus on more immediate concerns, I slip my hand into Orange's. She squeezes it, and I feel a little bit better.

"What will be done about all this, then?" I say, gesturing with a nod of the head in the direction of the broken, wrecked shrine behind us.

She looks at the building and the grounds for a bit, as if thinking. Wait, why does she need to think about this?

Good god, did she not have a plan, either? I can see me not planning, sure. But her? She is the Lady of Borders, the biggest, baddest, trickiest youkai around.

And she didn't have a plan for this? That is more than a little unsettling.

"...I've got a cover story in mind," she says, eyes still on the shrine. "That Shameimaru woman will be around sooner or later, and she'll want something for that rag of hers. I've got something that will satisfy her."

A small smile creeps its way onto her lips. A devious little thing, this. "She won't even see the irony in it. ...Yes, this will do nicely."

I guess she does have one, then.

Well, that's good, but...

"What about me?" I ask. "I'm not involved in that story, am I? I mean... even with what Orange has done, and even with what I said to her when she came back, I can't believe I'm seriously going to be able to walk away from this and not pay for it, somehow."

Lady Yakumo looks back at us, and tilts her head, seeming a little confused. "Why wouldn't you be able to? People did exactly what they would do, which is what was needed of them, including you. I couldn't possibly ask for more."

"'People'? More than just me?"

....What the hell has been going on?

Her gaze drifts away from us again, moving over to where Hakurei tends to the green and red girl. "It may sound like a lot to ask, but don't worry too much about this. As the mediator for this, it's my job to make sure things go smoothly not just before and during, but after as well."

With a wink, she says something disturbing like that.

At this point, I just want to get out of here as soon as possible. A glance at Orange's face makes me pretty certain she is of a like mind on this.

Might be a good idea to make sure we can leave, though.

"...Are we ...can we just go, then?" I ask. Nothing like directness.

"Ah? Oh, certainly~"

...Just like that?


"Absolutely," she confirms, nodding. "The sooner the better, so as to avoid ...questions."

Well, uh.

"All right, then. Thanks."

"You and the Lady Orange are welcome to visit me any time," she adds, stepping slightly to the side.

We nod, and bow in thanks before moving on. Not sure I really want to take her up on that offer, but... I'm probably not allowed to refuse such a thing, if it's offered.

"Ah, there is one thing I have to ask of you, if you decide to drop by," she adds, her tone turning grave.

I knew it.

This can't be good.

We pause, and turn around.

She marches up to us and looks us over with a critical eye before smiling and reaching out, giving my friend a decidedly lewd-feeling squeeze.

"...Do be sure to bring him with you."

She gives us Or more likely, him a lascivious wink, then gives a friendly little wave and sends us on our way.

ahahahahahahahahahahaaaaaaaa yes

i'm never going to hear the end of this, am i?

no madam, you are not

think you could ask her to introduce me to the kitsune?

oh god, not you too

mmmm, that's gonna be a tough sell, what with the body issues and all

i'd be fine with getting to squeeze those tails

you and me both, buddy

"I heard that~"

er, fuck

Lady Yakumo hides her mouth as she chuckles.

"Can't say I blame you, dear. She's always waving them around like that; you're bound to want to sooner or later. Now be good, and hustle on."

yes, ma'am! oh, one more thing


those breasts of yours are still world-class

Lady Yakumo bursts out laughing, and shoos us away.

i'm never speaking to either of you again

she was fondling me! what was i gonna do, be silent? hell no!

and i just thought i'd ask; seemed as good an opportunity as any

i'm not listeniiiiing

The bastards.

Fighting the blush rising to my cheeks, we begin to walk down the stairs.

Three steps down, I feel a mouth near my ear, and Lady Yakumo's voice whispers into it, speaking so softly that I think only I can hear it.

She says: "I should have told you as much, earlier, but I extend to you my deepest, most sincere congratulations."

"...what for?" I say back, replying in a similar voice, one so quiet that I might as well be mouthing the words.

"Because, youngling—"

And I can feel, feel without seeing,

the sudden, monstrous, terrifying, very, very pleased smile that is the true face of She of the Borders, forming upon her lips, right behind me

as she speaks

"—you just won the game."

My head turns sharply to the side as I turn to look at her, but I only catch golden curls disappearing into a beribboned hole in the air, which itself winks out of sight a moment later as it seals shut.

From the top of the steps, the Lady Yakumo turns, as if only now looking back to us, and waves.


I'll be glad to be gone from here.

Very glad.

Orange draws up short, making a neutral sort of 'hmmm' sound as we come to a stop.

I turn back, looking at her. "Is something wrong?"

"Seems we're popular today. Or more likely, you're popular."

"Jealous a little?" I ask, jokingly.

"...Of this kind of popularity?" She turns and looks at me, half-sadly. "Never."


It's a decent point, though.

"Can't say as I blame you," I agree, squeezing her hand softly.

She returns the squeeze, and kisses me gently.

A few moments after we pull apart, the person waiting for us steps out from behind the trees that line the long, long stairway. She walks onto the stone steps, shoes clicking quietly against the rock.

"Good morning to you both," the flower youkai says in greeting. "A little wet today, isn't it?"
No. 116916
File 127223355545.jpg - (295.44KB , 801x1065 , Queen of the Summer Court.jpg ) [iqdb]
She stands in front of us, smiling lightly, holding her own flowery-looking parasol in a manner strangely like that of Lady Yakumo before her. She wears an outfit similar to when I saw her last, only her shirt is a little more flamboyantly cut, and she wears dark stockings beneath her dress.

I stare at her.

How did she even...?

She sees the confusion on my face, and her smile grows into a grin, but stays several marks shy of a smirk.

"I've come for a certain something," she says, holding out one slightly tanned hand, palm up and open.

Something of hers? I think furiously. What do I have that's...


Of course.

...That's probably how she found us, too.

Pulling my hand away from Orange's, momentarily, I dig into the bag at my side, and pull out the last bean pod.

Carefully placing it in her palm, I start to speak. "Um, thanks a lot for those, by the way. They really he—"

She closes her hand about it and my own hand, giving me a handshake. Raising her other hand, the Lady of Flowers places a finger to her lips, which themselves curl into another smile.

"What are you talking about, maybe-impostor?" she asks, letting go of my hand. The bean pod is, unsurprisingly, no longer inside it. "I gave nothing at all to you that could be returned."

"You just said you came for something of yours."

"I said no such thing. I said that I came for something. Specifically, it was to see how you were doing."


I open my mouth to say something, and start to point at her closed fist, then stop. Even she's in the disavowing-any-knowledge business, huh?

She sees my motion, and looks at her hand as if only now noticing it.

"...Oh, is there something strange there?" she asks. Opening her hand, she reveals that it is completely empty. "Hmm. I suppose not."

Another friendly smile.

"You must have imagined it."

"Must have," I reply, trying not to sound unpleasant about being jerked around like this.

Next to me, however, Orange gives a little shrug and returns the smile with one that's twice as resolutely upbeat as the flower youkai's own. "In that case, had you provided any assistance, Kazami, I am certain it would have been extremely appreciated, and been of the utmost help."

The elder youkai smirks, at last.

"You speak as though I didn't do anything for the maybe-imposter, here."

"But you just—"

"You're telling me that I did things, again?" says the woman, who I notice is only a little shorter than Orange, maybe. Not by much, if at all. She cups a hand to her ear, as if trying to listen to something inaudible. "Because I thought I heard you telling me I did things, and I can't possibly think you're actually doing that."

This woman is kind of a pain in the ass. I'd probably be able to follow right along with her twisted path of logic if I wasn't so goddamn tired from...


They look at me as I speak that single syllable.

There is something she did for me. Possibly even gave me, and it was something that could not be returned.

"...Thank you for the advice, back then," I tell her, and bow respectfully. "It helped me more than I thought."

In retrospect, it's true. Even if I didn't know I was following it, or I'd forgotten about it, or it had to come from me again before I took it under consideration... I still followed it.

Kind of.

Her face breaks into a wider, more genuine smile, and she inclines her head slightly.

"It is very good to see that you remember. You are quite welcome."

Her eyes travel up the stairs, to the faded plumes of smoke and dust from the shrine above, barely noticeable in the early morning not-light under the raining clouds.

...Actually, despite the rain, It seems a little brighter out.

Her lips curl back into a faint, unpleasant smile as she looks at the smoke, leaning her head back slightly to gaze at it. A few drops land on her face while she watches it, but they don't seem to bother her. Finally, she turns back to us.

"I have for you a gift, maybe-impostor."

Only a last-minute sense of tact keeps me from saying "Again?"

Instead, I say nothing and look surprised, which isn't hard to manage.

"Is this one real?"

...Dammit, Orange.

"Very real," she replies, unperturbed, and reaches inside her jacket. A moment later, she pulls her hand out of it, holding some kind of yellow flower in a pot. There's a little card posted on a stick next to the flower.

I'm almost certain she didn't have room for that in her clothes or anywhere on her person.

you'd think i wouldn't have room for you, either, but i do

that's different

probably not too different

eh, maybe

you just don't like the idea i could be right

that's definitely a large part of it

i demand to sp—

i am the manager

—well, shit

ha ha~

you never let me have any fun!

it's company policy; you're not allowed to

i guess you got me

darn right i did

or you would have if you hadn't agreed with me when I said you didn't like the idea i could be right



thanks for playing, try again next time!

i'm throwing you into the next closet i see

so bitter~

Damn that smug son of a bitch.

I take the flower from her, carefully holding the pot. A questioning look is in my eyes as she passes it over.

"Thank you very much... what is this for, though?"

The Lady of Flowers gives me a wink. "I was watching your work today, and you did exceptional things. I began to think about flowers that suited you, and daffodils seemed much more appropriate."

She turns around, and steps off the stairs, and into the foliage.

"Instructions for taking care of it are on the card. I'd tell you them myself, but I need to be back home before the children wake up. Good day to you both."

With a bow, she walks away, and disappears behind a tree again.

Unsurprisingly, the flower youkai does not come out the other side.

As both my hands are both sort of occupied, Orange settles for hooking her arm through the crook of my elbow before we resume our downward journey.
No. 116918
File 127223379025.jpg - (636.05KB , 1000x1500 , I got my mind seeeeet ooooon you~.jpg ) [iqdb]
As we continue to walk down the stairs, I notice Orange looking at me strangely.

My eyes meet hers, and rather than being embarrassed and turning away, she keeps watching me.

It's not strangely, after all.

It's more of a thoughtful, wondering look.

I give her a smile, and it seems to be what she needs to ask what's on her mind.

"I've been meaning to ask..." she begins, then pauses, as if wondering whether or not she should speak what's on her mind. Finally she says, "...What is your real name?"



"...Ahaha... you remember me telling you that, then?" I say, feeling oddly embarrassed.

She cocks an eyebrow at me, smiling. "Of course I do. Even if we hadn't been waylaid, I don't believe I could possibly forget about such an afternoon."

I don't think I could forget that day, either.

"Well... since you asked, then..."

I tell her my name, and the kanji it uses.

"Ohhhh..." she says, and looks up at my friend. Nodding slowly, she giggles quietly. "It sort of fits."

I nod as well. I was always rather proud of how those two things happened to match up.

What is my name, you ask?

...If you knew that, you'd be as clever as me.

At last, the morning sun peeks out from behind the clouds, and smiles upon us as we leave this place of sadness.

Every day is a new day, right?






I look over at Orange, who is grinning softly. I wasn't even aware I'd spoken that question aloud.




My citrus princess and I

We take a


And we keep on walking.
No. 116922
File 127223419991.jpg - (194.93KB , 375x500 , It`s a long long way to Tengurary.jpg ) [iqdb]
At the top of the stairs, near where the pillar-lined walkway to the shrine begins, Yukari Yakumo listens to the people walking down the stairs as they talk softly back and forth. Her acutely sharp youkai hearing catches everything after a little bit of focus.

"So, is 'Orange' your real name?" asks the first youkai.

Her companion replies after a moment of considering how to answer: "Not exactly... but in a way, yes. It means almost the same thing as my given name. I've gone by a few different names over the years, depending on where I was."



"...Like what?" asks the youkai, her curiosity now piqued.

"Well," says the woman with her, "My most recent name before this was simply
Ju, written like... um... here, lend me your hand for a moment; I'll draw it for you."

"Ah, careful with the flowerpot!" exclaims the first woman. The second woman reassures her, and there's silence for a few moments.

Eventually, she remarks, "...Oh, like that? I think that's read as 'Tachibana,' here. You said there were others, though?"

"Mm-hmm," replies the red-haired woman again. "I think my first one was
Cheng Zi, which was written like... this."

"Umm... 'Touko'?"

"Is that what it comes out to?"

"Yep," confirms the first woman.

After another short silence, she asks, "How about your last name?"

"It was... no, wait, I can tell you what it is in Japanese. It's... um."

Yet another few quiet moments pass before the second woman, sounding chagrined, says, "Well, I ought to be able to tell you, because my sister told me what it was. That was a while ago, though, and I've kinda forgotten. Never needed to use it much, after all. Most people were satisfied with the Chinese pronunciation. Oh, and the kanji is written like this."


"That was it!"

" 'Kurenai Touko'? ...I like the sound of that."

"I guess I should update the business cards, then."


"Well... It rolls off the tongue a lot easier, doesn't it? Besides, it sounds nice. And if you like it, so much the better. So, Touko it is."

There is the sound of stunned silence for a few moments, then the footsteps stop. There is a squeak of surprise, although it sounds muffled, as if the person had been suddenly and unexpectedly caught in a kiss.

Yukari allows herself a small, quiet smile.

Her attention is drawn away by the distant sound of... wings? Her eyes narrow.

Yes, large wings; feathered ones, and no small amount of worried chatter.


The tengu finally noticed and sent up a patrol to investigate, it seems.

Her eyes turn to the side, looking at the people walking down the steps. Can't really have them being spotted leaving this place, but...

Oh, whatever. Her role as mediator is over, and a firmly neutral stance is no longer so strictly necessary.


No longer a mediator, now, but a janitor. Someone needs to clean up the mess, to tidy up the loose ends, and to make the situation presentable. It's not an enjoyable role, and it's not one that even somebody as close as her dearest Reimu has ever really seen her filling.

Neverthless, it is a very necessary job, and there are few people in Gensokyo better suited to it than herself.

Part of being a caretaker is cleaning up the messes left behind, after all.

With a little sigh, she snaps her fan open


points it at the people descending the steps below,

sweeps it gently over, obscuring her view of them for a moment,

(and when it passes, they have disappeared; a ripped-open hole in the air on the ground in their place. It looks back at her, eyes within blinking)

then swishes it back to the other side,

(and the tear in the air closes up and winks out of existence)

before finally snapping it shut.


They won't like the suddenness with which she does it, probably, but she's fairly certain that they'll be happy with not having to fly back all the way to Lady Orange's house.

...Besides, if what she saw them eating prior to taking on the goddesses was what it certainly
looked like, they're both going to need somewhere familiar and quiet to be for a good long while.

Reimu comes up next to her, looking more than a little shaken, now.


The youkai woman turns and greets her shrine maiden with a smile.

"Yes, my dear?"

Reimu looks back at the shrine, and at Sanae, whom she had helped get upright and a little cleaned up. Emphasis on "little"; there's only so much blood a handkerchief can clean up.

She turns back to look at Yukari, gazing at her with worry and something bordering on distrust.

"...What the hell
happened here?"

Yukari sighs, and walks towards the shrine. Reimu falls in beside her, waiting for her to speak.

"I can't tell you all of it right at this moment, and anything I tell you
must be kept a secret, for your own good as much as for mine or for Gensokyo's."

She gets a wary, curious look from the red-white, and then a nod.

"...It all started back in early January..."

No. 116923
File 127223426955.jpg - (22.49KB , 450x396 , ~.jpg ) [iqdb]
The best surprise I ever pulled off was when I presented the ring to her.

...And when she accepted, it was most amazing thing in the world.

No. 116924
File 127223431886.jpg - (228.85KB , 500x375 , It was all just a dream-- er; game.jpg ) [iqdb]
This marks the end of Part 4 of The Game, "Tag, You're It," as well as the end of The Game itself.
No. 116925
File 12722344575.jpg - (466.40KB , 1000x707 , Time for sleep.jpg ) [iqdb]
And now, some Hina spacers.
No. 116926
File 127223450264.jpg - (188.41KB , 472x945 , Calling her `dollface` seems strangely appropriate.jpg ) [iqdb]
By the way, the story is now over. You may wish to go read the update.
No. 116927
File 127223457616.jpg - (1.07MB , 1314x1679 , A quiet happy smile.jpg ) [iqdb]
I hope you have enjoyed this story as much as I enjoyed writing it.
No. 116928
Holy goddamn, that was beautiful.
No. 116929
OH WOW..... My mind was blown in a good way.
No. 116930
It was happy, it was fun, it was sad, and it was painful.

But most importantly, it was enjoyable.

"Kabuki" was definitely a unique protagonist. Her back-and-forth banters with her friend were fun and snarky, and I really enjoyed her stream-of-consciousness style of narration, even if it made editing a bit of a nightmare.

The finale, I felt, was really well done despite its length, and kept me impatient for more. The final exchange with Sanae was cathartic; it was damn satisfying, and I'm happy that everything worked out for the best without seeming like an asspull.

Thanks for the great tale, Fell, and I'm happy to have been its editor.
No. 116931
Holy shit.



...Holy shit.
No. 116932
File 127223692613.jpg - (755.11KB , 900x956 , f6d31ad3d04138a974a91313d9c06057.jpg ) [iqdb]
No. 116933
>The rain picks up around us, falling harder, and the ex-shrine maiden begins to cry, a deep, sorrowful wail from the darkest reaches of her soul as she mourns the newest gift that became her greatest loss.
I can live with this.

>There's nobody here who can do it that's more qualified than you.
Hoh. I wonder if I'm reading too far into this line.

>I began to think about flowers that suited you, and daffodils seemed much more appropriate.
That's new beginnings/rebirth, to save everyone else a Google.

Excellent job, Fell. Although I must say, despite everything you said leading up to now, I'm not feeling very trolled at al--
>"—you just won the game."
...Well, maybe a littl--
>...If you knew that, you'd be as clever as me.
...Okay, but that's not too--
>"...It all started back in early January..."
...So now she's going to explain everything, ri--
>Story ends without the identity of the mysterious voice ever formally revealed


But seriously, well done. I enjoyed it immensely from beginning to end, and can't wait for your next work.
No. 116934
Remember when I mentioned how Sanae's death socked me in the gut? Well, said punch has continued into my gut, reached up, ripped out my heart, and is currently beating me to death with it. I can barely describe how much RAGE I am experiencing right now. If you were within my reach, you can be sure I'd be attacking you like a man possessed.
I think I've damaged my keyboard typing this.
Will review story after I calm down.
No. 116935
No. 116936
jesus christ
No. 116937
There's so many hanging questions:

-Who was that mystery voice in Kogasa's dreams
-What's the full story between Kogasa and Sakuya and what ultimately happens to those two?
-What was the fully story behind this... 'game'?
No. 116939
File 127223925494.jpg - (11.74KB , 130x130 , ohmygod.jpg ) [iqdb]
>What is my name, you ask?

...Oh he's not going to-

>Layer Cake End


Well that was bloody fantastic read from start to finish. Seriously good show, old bean!
No. 116940
File 127223934813.jpg - (37.80KB , 480x640 , 121782100370.jpg ) [iqdb]
Now I really want a 10 years later epilogue.

Pic related to how I feel about this story.
No. 116941
File 127223965143.jpg - (746.38KB , 700x1200 , 9df4ac677f8e602bf4e5892832abecf0.jpg ) [iqdb]
As sad as it always is to see a story I enjoy end, I'm just as happy that this emotional roller coaster did not feel like it was rolling for longer than it needed to. Even though there are still some unanswered questions, nothing actually feels missing.

It all just feels somehow...right.

Also, as much fun as it was to read the story, even the (intentionally) painful parts, in some ways it was as much fun to see how we all reacted to reading it. Especially the painful parts.

Well done, sir. Well done.
No. 116942
File 127224054657.png - (37.23KB , 150x150 , yukaristaaareav.png ) [iqdb]

I can't help but think what the aftereffects are going to be of Moreya gods lacking a shrine maiden to effectively gather faith, and the potential instability that'd cause, but eh, it'll probably work out.
Also wondering if there are any after-effects happening for 50 years on Orange due to the healing. Nothing seems to be up with her, but she was worried about crippling herself... no backlash? And as you said before, you were going to explain some stuff afterwards, like why Radio Four was Bad End.. and perhaps about Mysterious Voice. I hope so, at least.

No. 116943

He has also redeemed Sanae from the general "She's gonna go psycho, everybody GTFO of there!" mentality from this story. Sure, there will still be memories of that, but it won't be as bad now.

Now if only ExNine would come back, finish his story, and do the same thing to Yukari...
No. 116944
File 127224082312.gif - (77.14KB , 521x226 , hinaspinside.gif ) [iqdb]
Also, does anyone have an archive of all the threads? One would be nice to wrap up.
No. 116945
We might never know.
No. 116946
This was a triumph.
No. 116947
Beautiful. I look forward to going back and re-reading the entire story.
No. 116948
This really was one of the better stories on here, and as others said, it's really sad to see it finally end.

Fell, you are a great writer and I would more than overjoyed if you ever decide to do another story.
No. 116950
An ending befitting this amazing tale.
Great job, Fell.
No. 116951
Well I can add this to my small list of CYOAs I've read from start to finish.

I think I read more or less the whole thing, may have missed some bits due to life but uh, yeah.

All in all, I have to say I did enjoy this quite a bit. The way it's written is rather unique, although at the end I couldn't really follow some of the banter when it started using italics and underlines but, eh.

While I still like Sanae as a character, I will admit that this particular version of Sanae is quite hateable. Yet, as the story went on, it did paint in her a way that didn't show her as being very evil. She had good intentions at heart, just her methods are very flawed. Extremely flawed.

The characters were all unique in their own ways, and the way Kabuki named them all was amusing as well. I couldn't figure out some of them on my own, although you did seem to focus on some of the more lesser known characters (such as Orange). The romance between Kabuki and Orange is rather nice too, though I do wonder how the story would've turned out had that never happened.

I will admit I never did vote in the whole story though, I merely read and observed. Admittedly, you never really had many moments of lacking votes. So yeah, anyway, good story, good read.

I do wonder what you'll write next. Or if you'll add some author commentary later on.
No. 116952
File 127224983379.jpg - (229.55KB , 461x614 , I would love to see this waiting for me.jpg ) [iqdb]
...I thought I mentioned that there was going to be a Q&A thread in /gensokyo/ in a few days so you all can get some of your questions answered, but I can see it's not in any of my posts. My bad.

Yeah, so. There's gonna be one of those. In that place.

Sorry about the confusion.
No. 116953

No. 116954
Awesome story. Intense from start to finish. With an inventive and quite effective narrative style, this is a game I didn't mind losing.
Just... let me tell you what you already know: You just made quite the mark on this humble website's story, and your name shall be remembered among the best writers. On my mind, at least.

You know, as well as I do, what will be the first question asked. Will you answer it?
No. 116961
It is appropriate that you chose Hina pics for the filler, because my head is spinning and will likely remain so for several days hence. In that light, I appreciate the delay between this and the Q&A, as I, and others I'm sure, will need some time to process everything that has transpired.

I said this when I first discovered this story, I said it again as this story approached its climax, and I will say it once more and likely another time still once the Q&A thread starts:

Good show, sir.
Good fucking show.

This story has been a journey, and that journey has been an emotional one. I thank you from the bottom of my heart for letting all of us be a part of this.
No. 116963
I can honestly say this is one of the best stories I've ever read. I think I'll keep a copy of it so I can come back to it.

That being said, now I'm sad it's over. Hope you write again so we can get over it.
No. 116970
Fell if you were a bird where would you migrate
No. 116973

But no, seriously, great work.
No. 116975
>Maybe after the story is done, I'll write a full-fledged version as a one shot in a thread full of Q&As and one-shots. I'll call the thread "The Minigame," or something.
No. 116976
Oh yeah, that's right. I meant in the last final set of posts, though.

Also, probably won't be writing futa-Protagonist x Kurumi for a while, if at all. Not out of moralfaggotry or anything, but I'm just not in porn-writing gear right now.
No. 116986
I feel exactly like this man.
An Epilogue is neede, 5 or 10 years later. What happened with everyones life after that.
The story is finished but it still feels like something is missing and things are left open.
No. 116987
While I wouldn't say no to a couple side stories, I honestly don't believe this story would benefit from a proper epilogue. I think >>116923 said everything that needed to be said about the future of our protagonists', and as for Sanae... Well, all that matters is that there was a change. That unshakable faith of hers was shattered, and by defeating that idea she clung to, a much greater victory than killing her ever could have did accomplish was found. What she does with the remaining life she's been granted is irrelevant, because that part of her which kidnapped and tortured youkai is already dead, and Orange's unique ability guaranteed that it shall remain on the other side of the Sanzu. I think enough's been said on these matters, and anything beyond that is best left to the imagination.

Of course there are other concerns that still need to be addressed, such as the identity of dream girl, explanations of several key choices, the story behind Kogasa's third head-voice, and hot gap-youkai-on-parasol action, but these are all things that will likely be addressed in the Q&A or left for a short side-story.
No. 116989
Yeah I wonder what the rarely heard third voice is, but "he" seems to agree with the parasol.

>hot gap-youkai-on-parasol action

OH GOD, this.

But I'm interested in how the future of this Gensokyo turns out, mainly for some of the bit players, and how much time Kogasa's friend gets to spend with Yukari.
No. 116992

>identity of the third voice

...would be my guess.
No. 117004
File 127239820222.jpg - (157.57KB , 781x907 , can I help you.jpg ) [iqdb]
The Minigame is up.

No. 117048

I see. That's how Kogasa was able to 'forge' that lance out of the collected weapons of Suwako, and that's without any injury to herself by the molten metal.