The revelation had become an obsession. Obsession was the word, for it was not a notion positive enough to be called a dream, or even a desire. For the girl, the knowledge precluded all such happy things.
It's a lie. Or at least, horrifically mistaken.
Greatness among mankind is often overlooked while the source yet lives. When someone is beyond compare, they cannot be appreciated. What motivation, then, does one have to be "great"? The promise of immortality in print, until such time as the world is ready?
The brilliant author is celebrated after death for centuries, with his words endlessly repeated and considered, becoming a source for all later works to spring from. But this isn't the truth. There is a sinister aspect that is always overlooked.
Even among living humans, messages passed from one end of the room to the other are distorted. The same barrier that held back the author's vision in life exists after death- individual experience, again, comparison. The gradual evolution of thought makes some headway in making the works understood. It is never enough.
While she lives, the girl could attempt to explain away any misconceptions others may take away from her work (whatever her field may be), but after death? The only tool then is the work itself, and the preconceptions of its readers.
It would come to pass then, that her thoughts and opinions would be posthumously restructured. Her textual immortality would preserve someone else. When an artist does poorly with a portrait, they are called out. "The proportions are off." The mangling of form she now faced was thousands of times greater than any portrait could ever manage, and no one would ever notice.
For all of its faults, though, the idea had some truth to it. Entropy would claim any physical form eventually, so immortality could only be possible through an intangible medium, such as ideas.
However, for an idea to exist, one must be there to think it. The key would lie in somehow removing that limitation. The girl spent most of her natural life puzzling it out, and in a manner lost to time, she finally succeeded. At first, she could only bounce from mind to mind while they slept. Her presence was only noticed in the occasional vague dream.
The girl had her immortality, but it wasn't enough. She still ran the risk of one day running out of humans to inhabit. She needed a contingency, in case some great disaster wiped them all out. When the answer finally come to her, she was sitting in a young man's dreams.
It occurred to her that throughout all her travels, she had neglected to visit one mind in particular. She laughed at how simple it was, and how she managed to overlook it. Naturally, the best place to hold an idea is in the mind of she who created it.
And so her journey ended, with a contradiction of her own design. Obviously, the thoughts belonging to a fantasy can never be interrupted, because the fantasy has no body to wither. When a fantasy's fantasy is herself, she is untouchable.
With no possibility of decay in transmission, and no chance of physical death, the girl got what she wanted. As brilliant as she was, however, she had overlooked one detail. She herself was limited by her own perceptions, and now that she was self-contained, no new perceptions would ever reach her.
Eternally she is on the verge of realizing her mistake, but she mistakes it for fatigue from her long journey. For this reason she sleeps, and in her dreams she has aspects of herself for playmates. She is the fantasy from which all others spring- by her will they take form and thought, or are extinguished.
Among those yet living, few have caught a glimpse of her. A flash of purple, a wave of white. Anyone who had seen her had a different opinion of her details- what she wore, how she spoke, where she was going.
For all her efforts, the girl ended up just like the authors who inspired her to reach farther; caught between the boundaries of understanding.
I really didn't have any continuation planned. I suppose I could try cooking something else up, but any updates would be few and far between (this particular story has been percolating in my head for a couple of years now, since I first discovered Yukari and Touhou).
Although misunderstanding is something of a theme of the piece, I'd like any criticism you can give regarding clarity. Tough concepts may be fine, but poor writing is not.
Also, testing tripcode system. In case I need it someday.
It often gives me pause when I take time to reflect on just how much humans and youkai take for granted about themselves. To step back and look at just how much even the shortest lived human accomplishes in his or her life is to view impossibility, incredulity itself. This axiom goes largely unnoticed because outlandish occurrences are the bread and butter of the world.
I've realized this because everything I am, I made. From the ground up, no tradition of biology or sorcery held my hand as I developed. I watched both in action, and learned what I could from each, of course. Existing outside of the primary bounds of life gave me insight, to turn imitation to innovation.
...you want to hear about it? Really? Huh. Well, I guess I can't refuse curiosity. I'll have to forewarn you, though. My memory back then wasn't as developed as it is now, so I may need some prodding to recall it correctly. Try to keep up, and most of all, don't be surprised. After all...
Stranger things have happened.
It's bright. Not always, but frequently and more importantly, currently. The lightsource is uncomfortable, so I usually spend days like this in the shadow of a tree or two. Today, however, I'm watching the humans.
Humans (and some youkai) walk on two legs. I don't know how they manage it. I tried it a few times, but it usually didn't work at all. When it did, it was slower than I could normally move. I'm not sure if that's because I'm bad at it, or if it is an inferior method of locomotion.
The humans only come out when the lightsource does, so I don't see them much. When I do come to watch, they usually are preoccupied with rows and rows of plants. Perhaps I should borrow one, to see what all the fuss is about. I'll give it back right after, so what harm could it do?
I pick my way closer carefully, not wanting to disturb them. Up until now no human has ever noticed me, and I'm glad I've been so adept at staying out of their way.
Being in the way is bad.
The plants aren't very tall, but still enough to hide under. As long as none of my edges protrude out from under them, I'll be ok.
I grasp at a medium-sized plant, and give it an experimental tug. It has quite the grip of it's own! I'll have to be careful not to let it go flying when I pull it out. One, two, three! Out it comes, hardly moving above the rank-and-file. Flawless. Now, to get it... oh.
Plants can't keep close to the ground like I can. If I move it, it'll be seen. While this is giving me pause for a few seconds, a man runs over and stops right in front of me. How did he notice? Did the plant move more than I thought?
Looking up at him through the leaves, I can tell immediately that he has seen me. His face changes quickly, and he shifts a rather pointy plant between his hands. Immediately following this, he takes a slow step back and turns his head.
Another quality about humans that I find bizarre is their capacity to attract others' attention without being in the others' field of view. I've seen it before. With a myriad of gestures, a human facing the opposite direction stops and turns to the one gesturing.
I imagine this is what he is doing now, though I can't see his face to be certain. I don't get time to think about it, because moments later he's rounded on me again, and moves the odd plant in his hands (the pointy one, remember?) in an arc.
My plant is torn from my grip, and I'm pushed to the side. Well, that's a new trick. I don't know quite how that worked, but I'm certain of one thing.
This is about as in the way as I could possibly be. I've been very bad today.
[ ] Escape.
[ ] With the plant I dropped.
[ ] Without.
[ ] Try out that arc thing. A plant for a plant!
[ ] Wait. See what he does next.
[Default] - Direct Perception
[ ] - Universal Translator (Tone down how much of the narrator's clueless level reaches the readers)
[Default] - Don't ask, Don't tell
[ ] - Dramatic Prescience (enable pseudo-cryptic hints on certain options)
If I go on too long here I'll probably end up giving away everything. For this reason, I'll keep it short. The protagonist here is a character I've been developing in a vacuum for a while now, without any external setting in mind. The positive response to my last entry has encouraged me to use Gensokyo as the proving ground, so to speak. The destination is set, but the path is not. Thus, CYOA format. It's also right at home here, so that's a plus.
This story and the previous short are only related if you, individually, want it to be.
Note the wording on the Universal Translator option- how much of the clueless reaches the reader.
Activating it won't make the character any more perceptive (that capacity is one that improves in
response to actions), but it will make this story easier to read if that is an issue.
Write-ins will be accepted, but the protagonist has very real limits in understanding that may contort instructions that are too complicated (this also will improve over time). The flipside being there is little the character can understand that is out of reach. If the point gets across, it's getting done, damn it.
[x] Wait. See what he does next.
[x] - Direct Perception
[x] - Don't ask, Don't tell
This is probably the option the humans will least expect. Running will just cause them to be more on their guard in the future. Fighting back may lead to being actively exterminated. Stealing crops is probably very weird for a youkai to do in comparison to stealing farm animals. Besides, we're likely to lose the plant if this is our first time growing something, and that seems to be the case. We need to be able to observe how humans tend them, and that will be difficult to do if we're attacked on sight.
Today has gone quite out of line. Time to remove myself from the area, but leaving my plant would be a waste. And so, we proceed.
Before the other humans arrive, I reach over and grab the plant I dropped. The limbs are quite flexible, so I wrap it into as small a bundle as I can.
I'm done before the man notices I've moved.
Now, for escape. The plant no longer has any trailing branches to get caught, so I simply make a break for it. I'd imagine the humans will come after me for this, so it would be wise to mislead them. The forest is a natural choice, since humans seem to dislike the lack of lightsource as much as I do the lightsource itself.
Checking briefly, I am indeed pursued. People are pretty slow, though. As long as none of them can fly, they're not going to catch up. I just have to make my exit from their sight in a misleading direction.
Avoiding anything that remotely resembles a path, I enter the forest. I feel better, a little less anxious, in the cool shade. Not completely relaxed, mind you. Every little bit will help though.
The humans continue their pursuit for a short distance into the forest, then lose their nerve. I keep going, though. I'm not trying to taunt them, just escape. Stopping now would probably incite them to continue the chase, which would be unwise for them, given our location.
They might follow anyway. People can be reckless.
I catch a branch as I pass a tree, and climb up. Pressing myself into the areas most covered by shadows, I wait.
Nothing. These humans were not fools.
Untangling myself from the tree's branches, I return to the ground. There is something to be said about living in forests- even if you can't fly, you can still move in three dimensions. Makes for interesting transportation options and even more interesting hiding places.
Now then, what was I..? Oh yes, the plant. I unwrap it and lay it out to examine. The only notable features are the small flowers and the elongated growths it bears. It looks rather simple overall, so I doubt its value lies in appearances.
Another aspect of human behavior eludes me.
[ ] Dissection time! It's what's inside that counts.
[ ] To produce in quantities signifies need. Restricting need is getting in the way. Strike two today.
---[ ] Getting out of the way is best served by returning that which is needed.
---[ ] Getting out of the way is best served by staying out of the way.
The growths are the only part of the plant worth taking a closer look at, so I start there. Each is about as long as a human hand with fingers outstretched is wide, and cutting them open is effortless. Inside inside is a fair amount of plantflesh and seeds. That would make it... a fruit?
Useless to me, that is. Quite a few creatures seem to covet such plants, but only the humans seem to collect such large quantities. So clever! It's certainly much more efficient than searching all over for them.
I should probably return the rest of the plant to its row, but I'll hold off on that until the lightsource recedes. This course of action precludes the possibility of getting in the way. I probably should have waited until then in the first place, now that I'm considering it.
I wrap the plant back up for transport.
Now, to kill some time. I'm not familiar with this part of the forest yet, so I let myself wander. The trip is mostly uneventful. I say mostly not because of having to avoid fairies (they don't have the patience to look down for me), but rather because I encounter that which I had been hoping to wait out.
Not one of the humans from the field, but a rather strange one. She wears a dress of utterly contrasting lumination, with a conical hat of similar persuasion. Most strange however, is her position within the forest. Few have the nerve to venture in this far.
She's either capable, or crazy.
Neither possibility is particularly agreeable to be in proximity to, but too much motion on my part will undoubtedly catch her eye. She seems to be scanning the ground, and further inspection reveals a case in her hand.
Prime conditions to be noticed.
As carefully as I can, I pick my way backward and find a dip in the terrain to settle into. Of course, given my luck today, there is an open spot in the canopy that allows light directly onto me. Furthermore, the resulting reflection plays across her face.
In my attempt to avoid her attention, I've just made a stunning bid to claim it.
She looks over, and I hold stock still. A slight tilt of the head, narrowing eyes. Any hope of her just moving on ends quickly, as she begins to approach. Standing next to the indentation in the forest floor, she stops and looks around.
Looking away at this point strikes me as decidedly odd.
If she is capable of surviving the forest, along with that should come the sense not to look away from a forest resident who is so close at hand. So, she's either insane, or...
Doesn't recognize me as a resident at all.
She rummages through the case hanging at her side, and eventually selects a small transparent container. The second guess gains credibility, as throughout the process she focuses entirely on the contents of the case, rather than splitting her attention between it and myself.
Which is what I'd do, if I was this close to me. Or... something else.
Satisfied with the retrieved item, she then proceeds to prod me with the open end of the object. Now wait just a minute here.
[ ] Take it from her, then hand it back.
[ ] Take it from her, crush it.
[ ] Recoil dramatically.
You're quite confused, lady, if you think I'll put up with that nonsense. I snatch the container out of her hand, and drag it across the skin of that same hand. The effect is immediate.
She didn't see that coming.
She jumps backwards, trips, and lands in a sitting position. Initially her eyes widened in surprise, but after landing they narrow, her mouth slightly agape. I toss the container into the air a few times to hammer the point home, then throw it back to her.
She catches it easily.
Again, her expression changes. The corners of her mouth snap upwards, and she reaches into the case again to return the container to its place. While continuing to regard me, she stands up and dusts herself off. Her mouth moves.
Human communication is lost on me.
I'm at a loss as to a response, so I simply climb out of the sunken terrain. This elicits a most curious reaction, as the girl zealously extracts a stack of thin rectangles and an odd pointed metal object. Rapidly she moves the metal utensil across the top of the uneven stack, occasionally looking up at me or briefly returning the metal object to the case before continuing.
I shudder to think I may have peaked her interest.
I slowly begin moving away, but am noticed immediately. Quickly stowing the jumble in her hands to the case, she passes both hands in a horizontal line in front of her. Next, she attempts the mouth-motion communication again (it fails), and finally beckons emphatically, pointing off in the direction whence she came.
I understand that at least.
Well... why not? I've no plans for the day, and one is not in the way when they are invited. Warily, I move to follow her. It could be worth it to gather insight on the nature of humans, but that is not an excuse to be careless.
Perhaps this girl's motivations are not so different.
Excessively eager, yes, but I suppose I'm not one to judge. Considering how my day began.
We continue through the forest, the girl walking ahead as I follow. I keep the majority of my locomotive skills in reserve, lest this proves to be a fools errand and I need a surprise exit. I'm periodically monitored by my guide.
She's more careful now.
This leans credence to both the “capable” and “did not recognize me as a resident” possibilities. This is somewhat of a relief.
It's comforting to know I'm not following a madwoman around.
We come upon a small clearing containing a single building. The girl turns to me again, and places a hand over her mouth. After a moment, she holds a hand out flat, directed vertically up. She then turns and moves to enter the structure.
A small number of miscellaneous things spill out of the entrance.
Stepping over the cascade, the girl walks inside. I'm left in the clearing with only the lightsource above for a companion.
She left the entrance open.
[ ] Hold position.
[ ] Into the unknown!
[ ] Tactical retreat.
The wait is beginning to make me restless. I assume that last hand gesture was a request to hold, but I could just as easily pretend to not have grasped its significance at all. Then the previous request to follow would still hold.
Since when were my conversational deficiencies so self-serving?
Despite the vastly reduced light, the structure is warmer than even the clearing was, with its direct access to the lightsource. The cause would likely be the massive piles of items placed around the room, reducing the available space for heat to disperse to.
This is not a place I should remain in for an extended period of time.
There is no questioning that, but in the short term I don't have anything to be concerned for. A brief stay would also be conducive to understanding humans. Habitats shape and reflect their inhabitants, after all. The building suggests my hostess is of sentimental temperament.
What does my home say about me?
The girl returns at this point, cutting off my soliloquy. She's carrying another stack of rectangles, though this one is much neater and seems to be joined along one side. She looks back and forth between myself and the collection, then shakes her head and tosses the lot of it into a nearby bank of objects, which wobbles perilously.
Ignoring the animation, she digs into the pile and produces two instruments at length. One is a metallic ring inset by a transparent disk, connected to a simple handle. The other is a cone with both ends open. The function of the first is self evident, a vision enhancer of some sort.
The second is much more peculiar.
Placing the side of her head to the smaller end, and the wider end against me, she pauses. After a moment, she taps the floor next to me. Returning to her previous stance, she appears lost in thought. Suddenly, the ends of her mouth bend upwards again.
My first thought was “trouble,” but it wasn't that simple.
Holding the device in front of her mouth, she does... something.
IN ALL HONESTY, I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT YOU ARE!
It's my turn to jump. What was that?! Vibrations, through the air? I've felt them through the ground before, but it never occurred to me to check the air too. That's crazy, though. There's nothing solid to carry them!
It wouldn't hurt to give it a try.
Focusing, I check for similar phenomena. I can feel... something. Working harder at it.
Tick. Tick. Tick.
I search for, and find quickly, the source of the disturbance. A box in the corner of the room, with a circular marking upon the front and small components that move slowly. I move toward it, to examine.
What, you didn't notice the clock until now?
An epiphany. That's how the humans communicate. Not by gestures alone, but with this. Even without line of sight, these air-vibrations could facilitate communication. I'll need a name for that. Lets go with sound.
Pretty easily distracted, aren't you?
Despite being armed with the theory, I still don't understand her. The way is open now, though. My time here has been immensely informative, certainly worth the risk.
Oh wow, when did it get that late?!
Suddenly, she mimes out a request for me to leave. Be not in the way!
Upon my exit, the girl pulls the toppled objects back inside and closes the entrance. The lightsource has begun its descent through the sky, and I am reminded of the plant that is in my possession.
[ ] Start back to the field now.
[ ] The evening is yet young.
I don't think elaboration is needed as to the events of this segment, but I would like to explain the purpose of spoiler tags for the remainder of this story.
When in the body of an update, spoiler tags denote speech that is beyond the protagonist's understanding. Originally I had thought to withhold all such text and reveal it at the end, but that would require me to keep track of every bit of dialogue, which is not a thrilling prospect.
I recommend that in the future, you refrain from checking spoiler boxes until after you've voted (presuming you plan on voting) in order to avoid possible metaknowledge (you are now picturing Patchy wearing a shirt with herself printed on it, manually). The ones in this update aren't too heavy, so it shouldn't be a problem this time.
It seems the one thing I ever have an abundance of is time. Such a waste, in that I have little to spend it on. That excursion did occupy a sizable portion of the day, but the lightsource is still too prominent to risk returning to the field.
The ambiance is different.
I had believed that the newly discovered sound was unique to humans and their ilk, but that proves inaccurate as I cross the clearing back into the forest. The wind through the trees, my own movement, and a multitude of unrecognizable sounds that I can only assume belong to the various other inhabitants of the forest.
I never noticed this before?
Such a universal sense could be invaluable. Not just for communication, but as a supplement for sight. The possibilities flood my thoughts.
...what else could I be overlooking?
Her arms are initially held extended horizontally, but as she speaks they lower to rest at her sides. The sides of her mouth bend upwards, exposing her pointed teeth.
Despite seeing this expression a few times, I'm still not sure what it means.
She lunges at me, hands first and mouth open completely now. I get out of the way by slipping to the side. After passing me, she doubles back. In midair.
I'm not in the way, I am the way.
Repeated attempts to grab me fail. It's clear that simply avoiding her will not dissuade her continuing attempts to catch me. I need a new approach.
Luckily, I can think of two.
[ ] Bluff. Make it seem like too much trouble to take me.
[ ] Swing, as did the human in the field earlier.
I'll try bluffing. Getting into a serious fight with a youkai is not very high on my list of enjoyable pastimes. I certainly don't want to make an enemy out of someone capable of sneaking up on me, at any rate.
Lets' try a few things.
I draw myself up to be as tall as I can without looking ridiculous, which ends up being about thrice my assailant's height, bristling to add to the overall effect. It occurs to me to add an aural component to the display. It's not something I've ever attempted before, so it could prove poor.
I manage a mediocre growl.
Not quite what I had in mind, but worthwhile things take time. It didn't subtract from the performance, so that's good. She's not backing down from just that, though. I need a little more, so I take a swing at a nearby tree.
A curved gash appears along the trunk, and bits of wood scatter the ground. ...I did that?
The girl stops and reassesses me.
“Awwww... I was looking for a quick snack, not a real fight. I'll be back for you later, so don't go anywhere!”
Shadows collect around her once more, and the mass zigzags off into the depths of the forest. I am very relieved. It's a pity the tree had to pay for my escape, though. I need to learn to be more convincing.
Sap drips from the wound.
The lightsource is going down in earnest now, so I begin heading back to the field. I take this time to reflect on the day, for quite a lot has happened in such a small frame. More has happened today than has since...
...well, since I can remember.
What was the trigger? Is this all a result of taking the plant? I can't see how. As soon as I left the field, that cause ceased to be valid. I'm hesitant to call it a coincidence, though.
When passivity is abandoned, activity remains.
My route back is obstructed by a pack of particularly raucous fairies, so I have to lay low for quite a long time to avoid them. By the time their voices (such a useful sense!) fade into the distance, it is unquestionably night.
Upon returning to the field, I find a situation out of the ordinary. Two humans remain outside, carrying small lightsources on the ends of sticks and patrolling the field in somewhat regular patterns.
Does the ingenuity of humans know no bounds?
A troublesome end to a troublesome day. Fitting, I suppose. Fitting, but not welcome.
[ ] Pure stealth
[ ] Misdirect
[ ] Other (specify.)
A distraction would be helpful, but it could easily backfire and make the sentries more alert. The best course of action would be to draw no attention in the first place.
Easier said than done.
I wait a distance away from the field, mapping out their routes as much as is possible. The patrols prove to be irregular, so the best I can do is wait for them to be as far away from where I took the plant. It's difficult in the low light, but I can just make it out.
I doubt I'll have time to replant it, but I can get it to the plot.
When the spacing is right, I move in. Under the plants as I did before, holding my plant just above the rows. The plants rustle a bit as I pass, which is probably what gave me away on my first visit. Now, however, there is no one in proximity to notice.
I reach the empty plot undetected.
Unwrapping the plant for the last time, I place it on the ground. The humans will certainly see to the rest. Without my encumbrance, the return trip is easy. Upon reaching the edge of the field, I look back to check on the guards.
If they noticed anything, they have not reacted.
For a time I do not move, savoring my atonement for interrupting the events of these humans' day.
Feels good, man.
Lingering so close for so long is likely unwise, as a patrol could draw near and cause problems again. I make my way back to the forest, listening to the night wind as it jostles the trees. With no priority actions left, I settle down to think on how to spend the rest of the night.
Directly above me, the trees shake more violently than can be accounted for by the wind. Immediately following this are rapid flapping noises. By the time I focus my gaze on the heights of the tree, whatever was there has departed.
[ ] Stay put.
[ ] Investigate.
[ ] That pack of fairies earlier was suspicious.
[ ] Return to your friend's (Marisa's) dwelling.
[ ] Other (specify.)
(Multiple options other than stay put are valid, list in desired chronological order)
What could that have been? I climb the tree carefully, trying to avoid disrupting any possible evidence. A few small branches at the top of the tree are broken, dangling by fibers. No doubt caused by the departure of some manner of flying creature.
Of course it flies. If it walked, I would've seen it.
One of these branches, however, has more to say. Caught in the bend of this branch, probably at the same time as it broke, is an object.
A single, dark feather.
A bird then. Silly me, jumping at the movement of animals. This is their home too, after all.
The events of the day must be wearing me down.
Returning to the ground, I decide that the night would be best spent checking up on the group of fairies I encountered earlier. Fairies are always excitable, but those seemed to be in a nigh frenzy. Perhaps something had frightened them?
Further information is required.
As I search for evidence of their passing, I take note of the sounds of the night. Of course, I have no precedent to compare it to, so all I determine is a lack of overtly threatening noises.
Always a plus.
I happen across a swath of disheveled forest. The undergrowth is untouched, but the middle-to-upper reaches of the trees have been peppered with various injuries. Scorched portions, icicles, shorn bark. Likely the work of multiple types of fairies, but with no evident pattern as to what their target was.
Maybe they just shot whenever they saw something move.
If this is the case, it would be wise to avoid them. Even if they are weak individually, fairy swarms are significant. Furthermore, it may be wise to inform my friend of this turn of events. Her capacity for communication would allow her to keep others out of these fairies' way.
Or find the cause of the rampage, even.
I make my way back to the clearing, arriving without any further trouble. A thought occurs to me as I approach the structure. I've only ever seen humans active in the presence of a lightsource. Maybe they require one in order to function?
Even the guards in the field had miniature lightsources.
Does my friend have access to such wonders? I wouldn't want to drag her into an unpleasant situation.
[ ] Of course! Human ingenuity!
[ ] Find a place to hide, wait for the main lightsource.
I've only just now noticed the prevalence of violence inflicted upon treekind over the course of this tale. Perhaps I harbor some subconscious hatred for Arbores.
I awake with a start, to someone knocking at my door. I must have fallen asleep while writing again. Standing up, I skirt a few unstable collections on my way to the door.
“I'm coming, hold on.”
Looking to the clock, it's early morning. By that I mean, barely after midnight. Common sense may be in short supply, but really. They're not even trying anymore.
Opening the door, I look around.
No one? Seriously? If this is the work of those three fairies, I'm really going to spark them this time. Not satisfied with defacing my property, they've settled on depriving me of sleep. Unusually cunning, probably so I make a fool of myself at some point down the line due to fatigue. If they would turn that kind of planning and foresight to something producti-
There was something here.
Looking down, I jump back. The initial surprise fading, I recognize my visitor as that... thing, from earlier. I was about to write that off as some bizarre dream stemming from that batch of monster documentation books I borrowed from Patchouli last week, but it seems to be quite actual.
It's the spines that get me, every time.
“You again? What could you possibly want at this hour? If it's food, I have no idea what you ea-”
In a flurry of movement, it points in a direction several times, rapidly, with multiple limbs to boot. Despite my earlier examination of the thing, I have no idea how many limbs it has, or even its general body shape. Those spines do a fantastic job of breaking up its outline, on par with a blur spell.
Also sitting against the doorstep is a copy of the Bunbunmaru.
“I was worried for a second that you had become a courier. Now that I know you're of more wholesome character than that, I'll be with you in a minute.”
Picking up the Bunbunmaru, I return inside. Selecting an empty inkwell, I extract the ink from the... newspaper, and toss the now blank roll on the stack with the rest of them, and set the inkwell back on the shelf. Turning around, I retrieve my broom.
Some say the Bunbunmaru is a useless rag. I know better; paper is expensive.
Satisfied, I return to the thing on my doorstep.
“Alright, let's see what has something as fierce as you so worked up. This better be good.”
I'm not sure how much it understands, so I follow up with a sweeping gesture, ending in the direction previously indicated. It seems to get the picture, and sets off.
Another peculiarity to note.
Though I wouldn't say it leaves no trail behind it, it doesn't leave anything resembling tracks. Grass is flattened here and there, so it is definitely touching the ground, but there is no regularity. If you didn't see the path being made once, you wouldn't consider the signs to be made by something moving.
After the initial resurgence of curiosity, I notice that the night is much quieter than it usually is. Insects pipe up here and there, but with scarcity uncommon to a summer night such as this.
Something is off here.
My guide stops, and performs a sweeping gesture of its own, in a 180-degree arc. Looking up, I have a hard time seeing what it is indicating, so I bring up a ball of light. The effect is immediate. A swath cut through the upper reaches of the forest, using several types of elemental magic.
My first thought is that Patchy finally snapped and is coming to take me away, but if that were the case the path would lead directly to my house.
Which it doesn't.
It could conceivably be the work of multiple culprits, but I don't see any real point to the whole mess. As far as I can tell the path is random. I look to the critter, trying to divine its opinion.
Big help that is. I can't even tell if it's looking at me.
In any case, it's capable of understanding this could be a problem, which is why it went to retrieve me. A scout is handy, even if a detective would be better. As much as I'd like to get some actual sleep, I have a dilemma to solve.
It's night, flying would probably make it harder to see.
>In a flurry of movement, it points in a direction several times, rapidly, with multiple limbs to boot. Despite my earlier examination of the thing, I have no idea how many limbs it has, or even its general body shape. Those spines do a fantastic job of breaking up its outline, on par with a blur spell.
>Selecting an empty inkwell, I extract the ink from the... newspaper, and toss the now blank roll on the stack with the rest of them, and set the inkwell back on the shelf. Turning around, I retrieve my broom.
>Some say the Bunbunmaru is a useless rag. I know better; paper is expensive.
...That's... surprisingly creative and clever. That's the sort of thing I'd like to have thought of. +1 for ingenuity and appropriately Marisa-ish practicality, Unbounded.
On one hand, flying would let me follow the path to its end quickly, possibly catching up to whatever is making it. On the other, it would make discerning details impossible. I'd like to know as much as possible about what we're tailing before actually meeting it. Them.
While I'm debating, my... assistant, has already begun moving. Maybe it knows something I don't? Watched the trail as it was blazed? Eh. It lead me this far, it must have some idea of where it's going. Sort of reminds me of Alice, in a way. Dragging me along as she did during that lunarian plot.
...that comparison can, under no circumstances, ever leave my head.
We continue on for a while in silence. Early stages of an incident, or wild goose chase? I'm down for either, really, but I wish the geese would fight back, at least. It'd make things more interesting.
Be careful what you wish for, I guess.
We finally catch up to the source of the disturbance, which turns out to be a pack of fairies. Which makes sense, but is still odd. Fairies possess the capacity, but not the will for such things.
Or so I thought.
They haven't noticed us yet, so we creep closer. I don't see any Great Fairies among the group, so this isn't a case of one fairy succumbing to its ego and dragging others along with it. It's never the simplest solution.
Hey, aren't we getting a little too close?
I don't dare speak or wave to get its attention, but my assistant presses much closer to the swarm than is advisable. Then something very strange happens. There was no visible or audible fault in my assistant's stealth. Despite this, all the fairies, collectively, stop and turn to look at it.
They're all wearing variations of confused on their faces.
The scene freezes for a moment, with only the fairies' wings moving. Then one of them lets out a yell, and all hell breaks loose. Taking up the cry, they open up with danmaku in every direction. The shots themselves aren't special, but the sheer volume of fairies adds up to spellcard quality.
It's what you wanted, Mari.
“Well, crap.” I leap onto my broom, and take flight. Now then, how best to apply brute force?
[ ] Solo show.
[ ] Human and... not.
[ ] Guest star.
So... Let's see.
We're short enough so that we can easily hide underneath crop plants. At the same time, we can extend ourselves to be three times taller than Rumia. This either suggests a protean or malleable form, or a long, thin body, like a snake or millipede/centipede.
We have limbs, so centipede-like sounds more likely. The fact that they are sharp limbs and numerous enough for Marisa to have a hard time telling how many we have also suggests this.
We're also shiny, as we reflected light when we moved out into the open. 'pedes also tend to be nocturnal, and our protagonist dislikes light. On the other hand, they tend to have poor eyesight, so our protagonist's exceptional vision is a strike against that.
All in all, I'm leaning towards some kind of spike-festooned lengthy arthropod critter.
Pic related, and totally badass:
>A shocking pink, spiny new species of “dragon millipede”, Desmoxytes purpurosea, was described in 2007 from Lansak district, Uthaithani Province, Thailand. Several millipedes were found sitting and moving on limestone rocks and on the leaves of Arenga pinnata palms. Scientists suggest the stark bright colour is to alert would-be predators of the toxic animal, and they would do well to heed this warning – the millipede has glands that produce cyanide as a defensive mechanism.
>>117567 Oh, I forgot to add: I simultaneously love and hate you for this story. Love, because it's good and I goddamn love alien protagonists.
Hate, because I actually had a CYOA in the planning stages that was close enough to this that now I'd be stepping on your toes if I went through with it. ;_;
Humanoid expressions are only beyond me because I don't have a library of associations to interpret them. It would be prudent, therefore, to learn what expression corresponds to “Hey guys, lets go blow some stuff up!” in order to remove myself from the area should it ever come up.
I knew I was getting too close, but this was important.
I have no idea where I slipped up on my stealth, but the fairies noticed. I'm not sure if they shifted expressions while turning around, but I'll burn this one into my mind as “bad news,” regardless.
Sorry, friend. I messed up.
Although, this brings up a new question. Are we in the fairies' way, or are the fairies in our way? They suddenly turned around, so is this their way now, or does that not count? Are both groups in the way of the other? How would that play out? Is there some sort of priority?
too hard. They're staying down, so it's enough.
My progress does not go unnoticed.
Though my efforts considerably thin the lower ranks of the fairies, the ones that remain simply condense into the upper regions of the swarm. Too far for me to reach. Perhaps if I climb a tree.."
That doesn't look like it'll be necessary.
A burst of light envelops the remainder of the fairy horde, emanating from an object held by my friend. Not just light, but also heat. Lots of the latter, too.
I really don't like it.
Thankfully, it doesn't last long. The beam dwindles down to a spark, then goes out completely. It's raining slightly charred fairies. I get out of their way, lest I be buried.
That was certainly... different.
My friend flies back down to ground level, and surveys the pile of fairies. She climbs off her flying device, then looks at me.
“All in a day's work for an ordinary witch and... hmm. I can't come up with a cool sounding phrase if I keep referring to you with non-specifics and pronouns, now can I?”
She pauses a moment.
“Lets go with Deunoro. How does that sound?”
I still have no idea what she's trying to say.
“Oh, right. You don't understand speech yet, do you?”
My friend points at me emphatically, and states clearly:
After she repeats the motion and vocalization a few times, I catch on. Is that the word that she refers to me by? Pointing at myself, I attempt to match the phrase.
“Ah, so you got the gist of it. Good. Next in line...”
She inverts the gesture, indicating herself as “Marisa.” Got it. After indicating my comprehension, the sides of Marisa's mouth turn up once again.
“Alright. We've done all we can for now, we'll investigate more tomorrow.”
The return trip to Marisa's home is uneventful. When we reach her door, there is another roll with markings on it on the ground in front of it. Opening the door, she performs the same trick as earlier, without so much as a glance at the object.
At the completion of the routine, she stops.
Turning around, she points out into the forest, then over her shoulder into her house.
“I'm going to sleep, but tipping me off as to a possible incident is worth the spare room for one day. Interested?”
At first it was simply a sense of unease. From there it progressed to foreboding and now into full-blown dread. Suggestions were made that my state of mind could be attributed to a lack of sleep. The truth is the inverse.
Something unspeakable is occurring.
Until now, I've had no leads to follow. Responding to a hunch by running around in the dark and hoping divine providence delivers you someone to pulverize for information may be business as usual in these parts, but that's a luxury I can't afford.
Gods do things the hard way.
...which is what I'd like to say, but it seems some sort of meta-god is watching out for me, because I've gotten my answer from another unlikely source. Upon my departure for a walk around the lake to settle my thoughts, I encountered a Bunbunmaru Extra.
Aya is nothing if not diligent.
It takes a trained eye to read the Bunbunmaru and actually get anything out of it, but I like to think I've mastered the art. By taking refuge in audacity, Aya can state perfect truth without political repercussions.
This time, though, I find my answer easily.
WITCH SUMMONS STRANGE NEW FAMILIAR, RAIDS CUCUMBER FIELD
The article itself doesn't add much. Mostly conspiracy theory camouflage about Marisa trying to sabotage human-kappa relations, or something. Obviously, it was really just a test-theft, determining just how useful the critter is.
The photograph though. Winter has come early for my spine.
A quick conference with the Mishaguji confirms my suspicions. Putting a shape to a feeling, they recognize the beast. They have knowledge of this type of creature, something they picked up from associating with a god of shepherds. Hastur, was it?
The full story, particularly their origin, is not a savory one. That its presence alone is such a drain on the environment that my senses would pick it up? Red flag. Redder than Remilia's house. If the flag and the mansion were to stand side by side, Gensokyo would remember that as the day the Puce Devil Mansion received its new name, out of shame brought on by its lesser vibrance.
Which means it's bad. Seriously.
I wish I could say that Marisa being the source of the problem comes as a surprise. Her recklessness is a public domain trait, though. She wouldn't summon something just to start trouble, but her definition of trouble and the rest of Gensokyo's rarely see eye to eye. In the past, it has worked itself out. This time? She's crossed the line.
Oho. We haven't seen this in a while.
Should be interesting.
I don't suppose you'll let us help this time?!
We'll cross that bridge when we get there.
Ah. We've got a frog confirming the state of affairs to be as suspected. Well done. Now take cover, friend. I'm taking no chances here. Pushing my hat back up from over my eyes, I lift off the ground.
It seems that they build these structures in order to protect themselves during periods of inactivity. Not possessing this need myself makes me a little impatient with it, to be honest. It's not an issue though, because Marisa's home has a huge number of strange devices to occupy my attention.
I don't dare touch any of them, due to the precariousness of the piles.
Things made of every material, in every shape. A group of small, spherical items with equal brightness, but the quality of the reflected light is somehow... different. These will require more attention.
A reminder of how limited my perception is.
Having simply not noticed sound for so long, I wonder what else I could be missing. Such as with the fairies the previous night; I still have no idea how I tipped them off to my presence. How can you correct a mistake if you are not aware of where you went wrong?
Then you've made two mistakes; The second was not paying attention.
I alternate puzzling over the difference of the spheres and the nature of my earlier failure, and make little progress on either. The transparent panels set in the wall reveal the gradual progress of the lightsource back into the sky.
It's return to prominence is met with a frantic ringing tone, which is silenced in short order.
'Don't call up that which you cannot put down!' I've come to remind you, as well as give you a hand with the second half.”
A voice I don't recognize.
I assume this would be the one responsible for the structural compromise that has just been reached. In short order, objects shift and Marisa responds. It's odd, though.
I don't remember her as standing in that direction.
that woman, without so much as a 'hello' for a preface? She's irritating enough when dealing with her on equal terms. What's my incentive here?”
Hoooo boy. I used up all my tact on that mirror stunt. I should have seen this coming.
“Suwako is convinced that a... friend of mine is an aberration who's very presence is a blight upon Gensokyo. I'd like to determine whether said friend is deserving of this mantle before I let her do anything to it. That's pretty solidly within your responsibilities. Not to mention, I helped you out when your shrine was flattened.”
“Wait, you're serious?” The other eyebrow joins the first.
“I thought you were trying to pull a thinly veiled practical joke on me. 'Suwako' and 'warpath' are not concepts that play well together. Don't get any more worked up than you are, I'm on it.”
She turns and starts into the shrine.
“Hey, Reimu,” I begin.
Waving one hand dismissively, she says;
“Don't mention it. You're right, we need to be sure before we take actions so drastic as property damage.”
This implement Marisa left is most curious. But I have no time to examine it. The drawing she left behind is much more pressing. I believe it to be a landmark, given her indication of a direction. After taking time to fix the image in my mind, I set out.
If Marisa's dwelling is demolished, where will she wait out her dormancy period?
Distance in the forest passes quickly with little interruption, only avoiding a tree here and there. Unfortunately, the whole distance is not covered by the forest.
I come upon a wide field. A different field, mind you. The plants here spurn ordered growing for a homogenous tangled clump.
Going through would be the quickest path.
But turning and skirting the edge where it meets the forest would probably be safer, if that third party is looking for me. Losing the way isn't an issue, my sense of direction would not be thrown so easily.
[ ] Speed
[ ] Stealth
Sometimes I worry that I'm jumping the shark. Then I remember my notes, and I laugh.
Because there are plenty of fish in the sea.
Also, the irony that my first wall involves tearing walls down is delicious.
I decide to stick with the cover of the forest. Avoiding detection has met with mixed results these last few days. My lack of knowledge pertaining to the situation makes discretion the more lucrative choice.
Can't fight what you don't know.
Keeping behind the first few rows of trees, I orbit the field until I am back in line with the indicated course. Continuing on, my route converges with a path. It's not very wide, but obviously well-used and possesses full tree cover.
For a while, anyway.
The path leads out of the forest and into the foothills of a mountain range. Nestled low in the slopes is a set of flat stones, which lead up to an object that is the spitting image of... well, the image Marisa produced.
The intervening space is nothing.
Now under the curiously shaped arch, I observe my surroundings. A couple structures and a grove of nonthreatening trees share a plateau. Three humans, occupy the front of the most prominent building.
One is Marisa, and she is sitting with a girl whose dresses' sleeves are not attached. The third is a (comparatively) older woman who wears a blinding dress with a dark and dim cloth over it, who is standing in front of the others while facing them.
I will refer to the latter two as “Sleeves” and “Frills,” respectively.
Marisa notices my arrival and calls me over. Sleeves seems only moderately interested, but Frills seems quite enthusiastic. Crouching down to regard me better, she speaks. I'm not certain how to transcribe what she says, much less understand it. In addition, she performs subtle movements with only her eyes.
Apparently giving up, she reverts to slightly more familiar sounds.
natural laws governing the advanced technology gives out.”
“And so these find their way to Gensokyo, and of course, there are no fairies to represent them yet. This is quickly rectified by the spawning of a Great Fairy. So your friend 'Deunoro' here is, technically, a fairy. Albeit one representing natural laws that don't actually exist.”
This is insane. “So, not a Shoggoth?”
“Nope. Though, it does resemble one. In addition, the stress of adding to nature could potentially cause problems. Suwako was right to consider it dangerous, but her reasons were off.”
Magnificent. Technicalities aside, the situation has not changed.
“Can anything be done to prevent those 'possible problems'? Or are you saying her attempts to eradicate it are the optimal solution?”
“It could be done, yes. But it would require that Suwako believe Deunoro is not a threat. Ultimately, a God's belief holds a lot of weight. Even if it doesn't want to, Deunoro may distort nature unconsciously if Suwako continues to believe it will.”
So we have to convince a god that she is the source of the problem she's trying to stop.
Speak of the devil god. Suwako has landed at the top of the stone steps, and calls over to us.
“That was a pretty neat trick, buying time to gather reinforcements. But I'm afraid I can't let up on this, even if you're involved, Yukari.”
“Oh, I'm not involved at all. Just providing exposition~”
God damn it, Yukari.
[Default] Confront Suwako
[ ] Going in Manual (Deunoro write-in)
[ ] Love Overload (100% Marisa Route, Marisa write-in unlocked)
And so, we reach the last choice. You get an ending no matter what, but write-ins may change the specifics of the ending. If there is a particularly epic one, you might even get a completely different ending.
Write-ins should include one or both characters' strategy regarding this confrontation.
Or you could just hit default, and it'll still be pretty neat.
I'll give the voting a day or so, then wall you.
Bonus content: Inspiration behind Deunoro's character design. Imagine this free-roaming.
>>117752 I did briefly consider the possibility of an H-scene before beginning the story, but thankfully that insanity was temporary.
In this context, route refers simply to friendship with a character. The choices made in the past maxed out Marisa's involvement to the exclusion of the few other characters that would be willing to assist. Because of this, it's possible to choose her actions as well.
Once the run ends, there will be a vote on if Anon would like a repeat, or just a summary of all possible routes. An outright second run is unlikely, because I leaned pretty heavily on suspense regarding Denuoro's nature. Since the route chosen was also the one that gives out the most definite answers regarding that, there would be little left to work with. If there is enough demand for it, I could reconsider.
I've only heard this voice once before, but it's unmistakable. The new arrival is the one responsible for shattering Marisa's home.
...she doesn't look like much.
“Native Scourge God 'Mishaguji-sama', EXTENDED SUBJUGATION.”
A torrent of solid... bright (not light, because that isn't solid)... launches out of the presented head ornament. Splitting off into a multitude of sinuous shapes, the bright then collects into three piles spaced radially around me.
Am I... expected to do something here?
The flow cuts off at the source, but that which already exited does not disappear. The piles writhe upwards, coalescing into a mockery of the humanoid shape. A pair of dark eyes emerge out of each face, the only definite feature these beings possess.
Hat (with her namesake back on her head), waves in the direction of the shrine, then uses that same hand to grab at the air behind her. A ripple runs out from her fingertips, which moves as if across the surface of a dome. A red tint colors that which was formerly completely transparent.
At her word, the ground erupts adjacent to each of the figures, as the earth itself offers metallic implements to each.
One receives and object similar in shape to what Marisa gave me, but straighter. Another pulls at an item with a long handle ending in a perpendicular curved claw. The last stoops to retrieve an article possessing a short handle terminated by a weight covered in spines.
Not even I am dense enough to misunderstand the intent now.
Certainly some mistake has been made; those weapons do not complement each other at all! Two short range and one reach, but all of them look to require quite a bit of room to function optimally. All they would accomplish by attacking together would be getting in each others' way.
Their tactics avoid this limitation altogether.
Switching unpredictably, the humanoids strike at me a few times, then retreat to allow the next to take its place. I avoid the first few swings, but a blow from the weighted weapon eventually lands. I feel the impact, but it isn't debilitating.
Experimentally, I let the next few strikes from each weapon connect. I'm pushed around, but that is the extent of their effects. They catch on to this fact quickly, after only a single attack rotation. The wielder of the long weapon distances itself from the melee, while its comrades redirect their efforts to keeping me stationary.
Which means, of course, that I can't stay put.
Hat remains in place by the edge of the dome, her hand still embedded in the wall. Now she tosses two metal rings with her free hand, which stop and hover by the reach-wielder. Aligning the weapon between the two rings, it starts to spin it.
All I have to show for my efforts are some modest injuries inflected upon my assailants.
The scream of metal scraping against metal reverberates throughout the dome, as a haze begins to emanate from the rings and the weapon. A glow begins to appear where contact is made. With a gesture from Hat, the rings evaporate.
scared now? Tell you what, you maintain the border modification, and I'll handle this.”
With a snap of Hat's fingers, the fragments of reach-wielder return to the hat. The other two shift to the edges of the dome, each grabbing a handful of its substance with their free hands. Hat releases her grip and walks toward me.
“Even if they're only shadows, that was no mean feat. Congratulations, you just proved me right.”
“Somehow, I don't think she went along with your condition.”
“Oh, that went out the window quite quickly. Though, I have to give her points for the execution. That's tied my hands quite nicely.”
I wait a few beats to see if she'll continue. She doesn't.
“You aren't actually saying Suwako's got you beat in your own specialty, are you?”
“What? Hahaha! No, not quite. She's caught me between upholding the law, and appearing to uphold it.”
I'd wait for more, but I know it isn't coming. Really, this woman...
“I'm assuming you mean the danmaku rules, but I don't see where she's caught you.”
“Though the duel has become anything but a danmaku contest, the border of duel itself has changed very little. Both in physical appearance and magical footprint it's nigh indistinguishable. The tint in color is the most noticeable change, but a variation of that effect can be used to make the bounds more obvious for fights that involve a lot of movement.”
She fidgets with a fan opening and closing it absentmindedly at her side.
“Melee attacks being added to danmaku is uncommon, but not unheard of as well. The only change is that this combat is lethal. Deunoro's nature, however, makes it seem safe. If its body played by the rules of a living thing, those strikes would have killed it. One unfamiliar with Deunoro would assume that the boundary of duel protected it, and would arrive at the conclusion that this is a safe fight.”
The fan snaps shut.
“I know full well what is going on, but this is a very open place. If I, or Reimu for that matter, were to intervene, any onlooker would arrive at the conclusion that the greatest proponents of the Spellcard system don't feel obligated to follow their own rules. Barging in to such an obviously fair duel, and all.”
I'll be damned. Getting an explanation out of Yukari that wasn't like pulling teeth? But I'll make that gibe later.
“I get it. So putting your foot down now would annihilate your credibility forever. That's more underhanded than I thought the frog girl was capable of.”
“Not really. Suwako is more qualified than anyone to understand just how powerful appearances can be. Now then, are you ready?”
Yukari breaks out in a dangerous grin, before covering it with her fan a second later.
“Reimu and myself may be hindered by this, but that's irrelevant. Because you are going to be the one to intervene. No one expects you to honor rules or boundaries, after all.”
“Huhuhu. What do you think we keep you around for? Why we overlook all your shady dealings (you didn't think that we didn't notice, did you)? It's because you make such a wonderful scapegoat~”
She's going to regret that. Maybe I'll let her borrow something unpleasant in the future, and she can return it when (if) she dies. Or just plain keep it. But for now, I'll work with her. No matter how insufferable the hag is, she comes through when the chips are down.
“...tell me what I need to do.”
Unbounded's writing is like a shark. If it doesn't keep moving, it dies. Respawn time is over.
I had hoped I would never need to pull this kind of trick. But from the moment I discovered the spellcard rules, I knew they were asking for trouble. Full of good intent, but misguided. If at any point someone shows up and breaks them, those who could amend the situation are locked up by the bureaucracy.
Sometimes, points must be illustrated.
Speaking of points, the shoggoth proves more difficult to pin down than I anticipated. I'd expected it to shrug off most physical damage, but complete immunity was a surprise. Then there was that counter.
I really should have seen that one coming, in all honesty.
The only reason I haven't made a comment about that is your specialty isn't war. I probably should have let him lead that maneuver.
The introduction of heat prompted a reaction, it seems. That might be a vulnerability I can exploit. There is an infinite loop of “maybe that's what it wants me to think” available to browse here, but I'll skip that because I can just test it outright.
More rings, more friction.
The rings aren't as effective when heated, as they tend to bend before they bounce upon striking surfaces. Bent rings fly with less stability, so they might miss the target entirely even if it's standing still. A direct gout of flame would be even less efficient. I need to find a method more in my element.
I'll ponder this as I play ring toss. Land on a spoke to win!
The barrage fails to strike, but it sets the target scampering. It had the presence of mind to retrieve that sword before it fled. That's another variable I didn't account for.
Briefly shifting my weight on the earth, it reciprocates by shifting its own weight beneath the target, launching it into the air. Even with nothing to brace against, the shoggoth's fine motor control is impressive. It dodges most of the rings with a sound like waves on the ocean.
With a hiss, one ring lances a flank. The shoggoth is still carried by its original momentum, but it leaves a portion of itself behind. A spattering of dark fluid traces the ring's path along the ground, which catches my complete attention. As a mountain god, I have an innate affinity for a number of things. Earth, metal, water and so on. If it has a place on each and every mountain, I understand it completely.
The shoggoth itself appears as a warped reflection of its surroundings to my spiritual sight, but the portion carved off by the ring registers primarily as metal. Heat seems to remove the distortion, but I wonder...
Could I affect the metal in its body directly?
I'm distracted by a whistling sound from behind. A glance determines the source to be a clay vessel hurtling toward me, leaking stars as it goes. I turn and toss a chunk of rock to intercept it, but the blast still pushes me away.
As the stars clear from my vision, I see a small portion of the border of duel has been shattered. Just enough to admit a certain witch. She has a smug look on her face, but a serious stance. Knees bent, ready to leap or run. Her broom is in her left hand, while her right hand is poised by her side, fingers twitching like just before a western shootout scene.
Now isn't the time for that.
“You've made a few mistakes, frog girl.”
I hear the shoggoth moving some distance behind me, but it stops upon noticing Marisa.
“The first was smashing my house. The second was rewriting the rules. The third is that you aren't fighting what you think you are.”
I can tell she's about to break into a tirade of one sort or another, no doubt some technicality determined by Yakumo. I don't need to hear it.
So I punctuate her sentence with a swarm of stone frogs.
“What it is is only useful to know so you can prepare for it. Even if the Mishaguji identified it incorrectly, I can see the effect it's having myself. What you would tell me would only change the means of my work, not the ends. Save your breath, witch.”
For improvisation, the heated rings and frogs work well together. The precision leaping of the frogs from ground to border and back again, combined with the wild ricochet of the warped rings makes for quite the deterrent. The witch flounders a bit before taking to the air, where her dodging becomes much cleaner. The not-a-shoggoth is untouchable as long as it is on the ground.
If only I could force them to switch positions.
Maybe you should subjugate that Shikigami next? In case another scenario with similar parameters comes up in the future?
Oh man, I'd switch positions a few times with that one.
My hat must have slipped over an ear. I right it so I don't have to listen to that mess. They're capable of giving good advice, but not inclined to wait for me to ask for it. Now then, manipulating metal that is obscured from my senses. It'll be tricky at best.
Direct contact would maximize my chances. I pull my hat down again. It seems silence is a luxury I cannot afford.
...and you are treating a valuable strategic advantage as if it were some sort of playthi-
Cease the bickering. Distract the witch.
Without waiting for a response, I lunge. The Mishaguji do their part, firing clouds of danmaku. Small bullets that double periodically on one side, and fans of curving lasers from the other. For all the noise they give each other, these two work together better than any other team I've seen.
I close on the anomaly, hand outstretched. If I can get a hold, I'll scatter the metal into particles. The thing rears up, weapon ready, with a dozen unarmed limbs ready to lash out as well. I heave the ground completely to give me more mobility. That saved me some trouble.
Because I still wouldn't have gotten close enough.
“Love Sign 'Non-Directional Laser'!”
One of the arms of the witches spell rakes the ground between us. Being airborne allowed me to stop much quicker than I could have while running. This magic can't do any real damage to either myself or the Mishaguji, but it can disrupt our spells.
Like my magnetic punch,
Like my summoning of the Mishaguji themselves,
And of course, my boundary modification.
It's obvious now that Marisa isn't going to give me a chance to get in a serious hit on this thing while she's active.
Changing plans again. Tell me, could one of you maintain the modification by yourself?
When you find a wrench in your plans, use it to tighten the frame.
>>118615 Or rather, she would if she'd listened to marisa long enough to find out he's actually a fairy. If I remember right the negotiations got as far as "you aren't fighting what you think you are" before the sissy slap fight broke out.
Yeah, I've been slacking. I'm going to stop that right here. Plan is, I'm going to read through my own story to get back in the mindset (What the fuck is this? I wrote in some singular "theys"? FFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFF), and then press on.
Despite my resolution to do otherwise, I have not yet updated. This post is to answer for my inconsistency.
First (and believe it or not, foremost) is the nature of the final entry itself. What I hoped would come out as a "oh, you" twist ending is feeling more and more like a slight to the readerbase as I flesh out my original outline. To completely remove the offending events would require me to deviate from my favored style and tone, however. I'm currently trying to mete out a compromise.
The second problem is less noble. I'll convey it in a question:
What happens when one discovers Minecraft earlier in the same week that Starcraft 2 comes out? A safe way to release my supposed hatred of trees, and also LIVE FOR THE SWARM
As I've mentioned before, my writing process is very momentum-based. Pitfalls like these confound it to no end. I've not given up on this, and I'll post once I'm satisfied with my material. Don't be surprised though if I drop another short story or two before getting back to this.
Thanks for sticking with me. May your patience yet be rewarded.