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[嫉] Green Onions
Slowly and steadily, I come awake.
My head hurts. No shock there. Not feeling that same bizarre feeling of feeling-ness I was experiencing earlier. Just a dull, throbbing pain.
So far the day— or the night, I guess? —has gone from creepy to okay to creepy to bad to worse to bad to lights fucking out. I'd say that it can only go uphill from here, but I'd have thought that earlier, too.
I can hear music coming from somewhere. It sounds familiar, like I've heard it before. Not something recent, but something I should still know. Sounds like a guitar or something, too, but wouldn't that be a bad thing to play in caves? I mean, it gets kinda humid and, uh... water.
There's the sound of water, too.
I open my eyes.
After blinking a few times, I see I'm still in the caves, though I guess I'm at the bottom of that big chasm earlier. I don't remember all these damned lights, though. They dot the place all over and make the gorge brighter. Makes my headache a little worse, too.
Getting up, I have a walk around to look at this new place.
...or try to.
Can't move worth a damn. Probably because of the ropes binding my hands and feet to this chair.
What the hell is this bullshit?
[ ] I'd like to use my lifeline..."
[ ] Presenting ...the star of the show!
[ ] Let the buzzer time out.
[x] Presenting ...the star of the show!
>Sounds like a guitar or something, too, but wouldn't that be a bad thing to play in caves? I mean, it gets kinda humid and, uh... water.
On the other hand, the caves must give it an awesome echo effect.
I don't like this, not one damn bit. Even if I was one of those nutjob freaks that like being tied up, I think I'd still be just a tad upset. There's a time for getting your rocks off, and a time for worrying about what's going to happen to you.
...My head's still a little loopy from getting knocked about. And out.
Hope I don't have a concussion. You can't see straight if you have a concussion, right? I can't remember.
Wait, didn't Koko say something about knowing first aid or medical stuff? Where is she, anyway?
"Koko?" I whisper quietly. "You there?"
No reply at all. Either this is bad and the voice in my head is gone, or this is good, because the voice in my head is gone. I don't think schizos have voices this helpful, though, so my money's on the first.
My eyes flit around that place, only now noticing the running water nearby. I'd heard it before, but hadn't noticed it. I guess this is an underground river, or something. Too fast to call it a stream, way too big to call it a creek. Don't know how I didn't notice it.
My eyes turn upwards, gazing up the chasm walls. I don't see the bridge, unless it's beyond that turn in the river there. ...Then again, I didn't see the lights from up there, either, so maybe I can't see it from up here?
"What the hell is going on?" I mutter to myself.
The guitar music stops. Ohjesusfuckitheardme
It's quiet for a minute or two, but it's hard to hear quiet noises over the water in the background, so there might be something going on, but I can't hear it. Finally, there's a pair of quiet clicks. Then nothing for a moment.
Then footsteps coming this way.
They stop behind me, and don't move.
Whoever this is is either a dick or good at this. Maybe both. I'm somewhere between terrified and irritated.
They sigh, and it sounds as irritated as I feel.
Moving around to the side now, the footsteps bring someone into view.
She's blonde, and kinda short. Has some kind of weird vest-shirt-something on, brown with blue trim. A white scarf or something around her neck, and a black skirt coming down to a few inches above the knee. Blue sweater or something tied around her waist and over the skirt, for whatever reason. Some kind of red wire triangle things hanging on the edge of the skirt. Long white things covering most of her legs up to just under the dress; too thick to be stockings and too thin to be socks. Black shoes of some kind. Green eyes greener than a forest..
...and pointy ears. I'd like to think I'm imagining those, but nope. They're there.
It's like she escaped from some kind of fashion show, and then from a trekkie gathering. Does everyone in this magical fancy bullshit paradise look like this?
She's kind of cute, sort of. She ain't in any hurry to untie me, though, and that means she was probably the one who did it in the first place. It sorta cuts down on her charm. She's probably the one who popped me after crossing the bridge, too.
She takes out a pad of paper from somewhere and scrawls something in scribbly Chinese characters before showing it to me.
"I have no goddamn clue what that says," I tell her, snickering a little. I'm being interrogated by some kind of designer elf. The situation's just too weird. "Sorry."
Her eyes narrow, and she slaps me upside the head, hard. I'm almost knocked over, and the chair teeters for a second before rocking back upright again.
My vision blurs for a second before slowly settling again, and my head hurts like seven kinds of a bitch.
"Man, what the hell is it with all you women today?!" I snap at her amidst my dazedness. "Do I have a fucking 'Hit Me' sign on my back or something? Seriously, what the fuck?"
The angry gripings just make her raise an eyebrow, then grin in dark satisfaction. She scribbles something else on the pad, and then shows it to me.
"...Didn't I already tell you that I have no godda—"
My voice trails off as my eyes catch sight of the pad.
Where there were incomprehensible scribbles before are now readble words. Her first statement is at the top, then what she wrote just now, with an arrow pointing back to the first:
It occurs to me only now that I should have done the arrow up on the left-hand side, thus avoiding the spacing offsets from the characters. I've spent enough time on it as it is, and I've got work to get back to. Please enjoy it anyway, terrible arrows and all.
Greensleeves, having lyrics, would have meant that she'd have been overheard singing. Green Onions, being instrumental, means all that was caught was her playing the music. Definitely not the most obvious choice, but the Green in both should have given away the identity of the person ahead of time.
>>118519 Protip: when an author calls votes after an unusually short amount of time, it's probably because the choice that they want to write is winning. At any rate, chill, guys. It's a little too early in the story for us to really screw up anything major.
I'm going to be working on something after finals are done, so this will be put on a temporary break. The update is about 3/4 done, and I suppose I can finish that first, but afterwards I'll be focusing on writing something else for THP, a sort of long, extended one-shot. Some of you may know what I'm talking about, and others may not. It kind of needs to be written, due to recent events.
When I'm done with that, I'll get back to this. You have my word (and it's a better word than most writers here give, or so I'd like to hope.)
The short version is: Don't panic. I'll be back to this after the other thing is done.
The long version I've already said.
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[ÿ] I AM THE GREAT AND TERRIBLE OZ
I have a plan and it is an awesome plan.
It may also get me killed, which will mae it a lot less awesome.
But right now, that's not on the top of the Shit To Give A Damn About list. I'm being bullied and interrogated by an elf fresh off the runway, or maybe some festive little village in a hellhole in Stanistanistan.
"You silly bitch. Don't you know who I am?" I ask her, narrowing my eyes.
She pauses, and draws back.
"I am, uh, Blaculus Romulus, The Destroyer!Untie me at once, woman!" I roar.
She thinks this over for a long moment. I, on the other hand, try not to laugh. Gotta keep the scary face up.
"Hold on," I say, a little worried. Not too concerned about keeping up the scary bullshit act, I've got bigger fish to fry. "What do you mean, 'youkai'?"
The elf gives me a look that very clearly says 'Are you fucking kidding me?'
"I, I mean, um. No, I know what they are. But why are you calling me one?"
Her expression now makes the previous one look like baby Jesus surrounded by cuddly animals. She struggles for the words, and seems unable to find any.
"Maybe it's because your skin's all black; what else?!" she finally yells, not even bothering to write. "Humans don't look like that!"
I sit there, stunned by what she said for a moment.
Then I begin to laugh.
I can't help it. Either she's a massive racist or she's got an ass-backwards understanding of the situation, but no matter which it is, it's so fucking unexpected that it's hilarious.
...For a few moments.
I notice that she's clamped a hand to her mouth, and her face has gone whiter than it already was. She looks at me in panic, then at the notepad. Then back to me again, laughing my ass off.
Growling in anger, she punches me in the stomach, cutting off my amusement pretty damn quickly in a burst of pain. My giggles turn to groans, and eventually subside.
"All right, fuck you," she says, angrily. "I was sparing you the voice because Yuugi said it'd invalidate the bet, but fuck that and fuck you."
Her voice sounds like that of a woman in her 30s, not somebody from Santa's Ethnic Workshop. It'd sound nicer if she didn't sound so angry. Or if she didn't have me tied up. The tying-up doesn't change the voice, but it kinda colors my impression of her, just a tad.
She reaches behind her, and pulls out one of those kinds of daggers with the wiggly-looking blades you see Satanic priests using in those crappy little bible-thumper comics when they're about to sacrifice virgins. The tip of the blade is pressed up against my neck, and I try very hard not to think about moving much.
"Please," she tells me sweetly, "Share the joke, won't you?"
"I ain't a damn youkai, lady," I say, still wheezing a little. "I'm from the, uh. Outside, and stuff? Check my wallet, my ID's in there."
Her gaze narrows and her eyes flick down briefly. "Is that the best you can come up with?" she asks.
"Man, do I look like the king of bullshitting?"
"I think you look like a youkai who isn't supposed to be down here," she says, almost in a growl, and presses the wavy blade a little closer. "And fucking knows it."
This knife of hers is really, really sharp. The part of me that notices other things when the rest of me is freaking out brings to my attention that the handle isn't straight, but curved. Weird.
"Are you going to look or not?" I ask. Sort of hoping to avoid the "not" answer.
"Why the hell would I?" she asks.
"Because I'm allergic to getting stabbed," I snap back. "Would you just dammit look?!"
The elf is quiet for a few moments before making a sound of disgust. "Where is it?"
"Back pocket," I say. I'm relieved, but not completely. The knife hasn't moved an inch. Apparently they train you to stay really still in the magical forest of Neverland or Prada Tech or wherever.
The girl feels around for it, and it's made a bit more difficult by my butt being pressed up against the back of the chair. Normally, I'd be right interested if I knew there would be a blonde girl who wanted to tie me up and feel my ass. The reality isn't as fun, though, I gotta say. I don't see how people would ever pay for this.
Finally, she manages to extract it, and opens it up.
...and then laughs unpleasantly.
"Are you kidding? Oh, wow, I was expecting a trap or something, but..."
She snickers. "You actually put your picture into this thing, though... Really, I'm jealous of this level of skill. Are you a youkai of forgery, then?" She tucks her wallet into a pouch at her side. "Too bad you can't forge a convincing appearance."
...What the hell's that supposed to mean? I don't even correct her about the youkai thing anymore. I don't even know what she's thinking.
Without another word, she unties me, a bit at a time. The way she does it, I'm never completely able to be mobile at any one point. Finally, cuts me loose, and has me stand up. "Let's go, Ash-hole," she says. It sounds weird when she speaks it, like the word came a beat too long in the saying.
It takes me another minute to get the insult. Either she's mean, racist, clueless, or just a natural bitch. Either way, fuck her.
On the other hand, she's the one with the sharp slicy thing, so I'm going to be putting up with her for a little while longer. I get to my feet, wrists tied together in front of me. It's like I'm really going to jail!
I think I could have done without this experience, thank you.
[ ] Destination
[ ] Route
[ ] Conductor
[ ] For more information
THE MORE IMPORTANT NEWS: As I said in >>118791, I'll be starting up something very soon. This story will be put on pause for a week or two or few while that other one is being written. I don't think you'll be unhappy about it when you see it. I hope not, at least.
THE WEIRD, RAMBLING, ANGRY DIATRIBE: Thank you, Discrete Math, for once again shattering my confidence and probably further crippling my prospects for the future. Because, you know, I always love that. Always.
...It's such an important class, you know. Goodness, yes. Every part of it is necessary. It's not talked about very often, but the truth is that nobody does any real coding anymore! Programmers just type equivalence relations and mathematical proofs into their computers all day long until the compiler gives up, sobbing, and writes the code for the program all on its own. This is why there will never be a machine uprising or a malevolent artificial intelligence. We've completely and utterly broken the spirit of technology.
And we keep it broken, too. For example, did you know that the Linux kernel is actually a compressed series of jpg files showing infants being murdered and puppies being set on fire? It's true! Windows 7 was created entirely by funneling the charged spirits of damned souls into a single machine, and you do not want to hear what the new iPod runs on.
This is how I handle bitterness and hatred. I need to exaggerate, to make it strange and ridiculous, or else I think I'd start breaking things or beating people. Maybe I'd start cutting, binge drinking, serial arson... Possibly even a little light raping, who knows? The night is still young! But yeah. Keeping it bottled up inside and trying to be cheerful and optimistic about my situation will get me nowhere.
Also I'm done with classes for this quarter, thank god.
>Either she's mean, racist, clueless, or just a natural bitch.
methinks she's just jealous of our beautiful skin.
>For example, did you know that the Linux kernel is actually a compressed series of jpg files showing infants being murdered and puppies being set on fire? It's true! Windows 7 was created entirely by funneling the charged spirits of damned souls into a single machine, and you do not want to hear what the new iPod runs on. ahahaha
>but the truth is that nobody does any real coding anymore! HahahaNO! Yes, there's a lot of numbers work, but when you get down to brass tacks, that's all computers actually do. You're looking at graphical representations of binary numbers fed over a wire right now. If you're not good at math, computer programming is not for you. But once you start getting into courses with real world applications, such as operating systems and network protocols, it's less about the underlying math and more about how to make the computer do the clever tricks you want it to.
>Thank you, Discrete Math, for once again shattering my confidence and probably further crippling my prospects for the future. I assume this was part of the exaggeration, but just in case, let me make this crystal clear: nobody will ever care about your one bad grade in Discrete Math. Not future employers, not graduate school admissions committees, not nobody no way no how. I'm speaking from first hand experience here: it just doesn't matter. Chalk it up to bad teaching/lack of interest in the subject matter and move on.
no one in gensokyo has seen a Black guy b4.
I DEMAND RACIST JOKES HUNDREDS OF THEM.
Also I think of Choach from L4d when i Think of this MC.
Can we has Cheezburger apocalypse powers?
[x] For more information
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[≟] For more information
I click my teeth together twice, trying to maybe get Koko's attention. She is coming back, right? I really hope I didn't get something screwed up along the way to the point where I'd lost her for good. I've got a bitter fashionista elf girl holding me captive and taking me... somewhere. No damn idea where that somewhere is, and she seems too snippy at the moment to hold any sort of conversation. Right now I'd like all the help I can get.
Plus there's the whole 'captive' thing. It doesn't incline people to chattiness, so I'd be happy just listening to something.
Clicking doesn't seem to do anything, though.
I really should be more worried about my situation, but if Elven Klein here is the "Parsee" that Koko mentioned earlier, then she's probably not going to do anything to horrible to me. maybe bring me in to the village elders or the high council or maybe whatever passes for the police department in this screwball fantasyland, and they can help me get the hell out of here.
Well, and my car. Like fuck I'm leaving that behind.
We continue walking down a path through the mysteriously lit caverns. I'm a few feet behind the girl, and I can hear her quietly cursing under her breath every ten seconds or so. I can't make out the exact words, but nobody says happy cheerful things in that sort of tone. Guess she ain't too happy about having her quiet time interrupted.
"Join the damn club," I mutter.
She stops and whips her head around, glaring like my 8th grade Geography teacher. After the first few days of each new school year, your ass never chatted with a neighbor in Mrs. Shore's class. Even now, I almost reflexively shrink back. How did she hear me when she was singing, anyway?
"...Kiss me a kiss in May~"
We both seem to notice it at the same time. It's been going on for a little while, but starting so gradually and increasing in volume that you'd totally miss it otherwise.
"...my darling, kills me a kiss, kisses me a kill~"
It sounds like a girl's voice, but it ain't coming from Pointy Ears.
I look over at Elfquest. She looked confused for a tick, but now she's just kinda smirking at me.
"Um. Who the hell's singin', if it ain't you?" I ask.
"Someone dropping in for a visit," she replies. Now it's definitely a smirk. And she's looking... above me?
I turn to look, and feel something swish by my head, and a brief tug on my satchel, followed right after by what sounds like a frustrated twelve-year old.
I immediately whip back around, and see a bucket clonk into the rocks a little ways away. Another unhappy sound, but like a yelp.
"The hell, that almost hit me! Who the fuck hangs a bucket in the middle of a cave?" I ask angrily as I try to reflexively feel the back of my head, but am kept from doing so by my bound hands. I notice a long rope tied to the handle, and follow it up. It disappears into the shadowed area that the light doesn't quite illuminate. "I mean, the fuck am I now, Nancy Drew, with people clubbing me on the back of the head all the time? What's next, chloro ...form..."
My voice trails off as my eyes come back down to look at the bucket. Only there's a little girl in it, now. Giving me an angry little pout, too. For some reason she's wrapped up in what looks like a white bathrobe, and her hair's a weird-ass shade of green.
...Right. Fairies and unicorns, man. I can't bother with being shocked. Really, I don't even care about the what right now. I'm a little more concerned with the why.
"Any particular reason you felt like trying to bash my head in and take my bag, kid?"
"Food." She points one finger at the bag after saying this.
...Oh, right. I'd brought the rest of my dollar-menu stash with me. I don't know where Elf Lauren is taking me, but if I'm going to get thrown in a cell, I was hoping to have a bit of the comforts of home with me. ...Wait, they'd probably take my bag, too. Damn, there's that plan down the drain. Still, I don't like being whacked on the head by a starving little mugger in a bucket.
"...How the hell do you fit in that thing?" is what comes out of my mouth, rather than the "Fuck off; you're not getting any" that I'd been about to say. I didn't even notice until just now, but the sizes don't match. There should be more little girl than bucket, but...
"Hey, Kisume," says the elf chick, as she walks over next to me, "I'll give you some of his food if you'll watch the bridge for me while I'm gone." Oddly, she doesn't sound as irritated as bef— Wait, hold on a goddamn minute!
"Hey, that's my din— well, midnight snack, I guess, but whatever, it's mine, so don't go jacking it!" And in some detached corner of my brain, I connect Koko's words and the mention of the bridge, and pretty much confirm that she's this Parsee person. I scoot away from her, but she turns the death ray glare back on. Jesus, I never knew eyes could be so creepy.
"You can feed her, or you can die right here, and I won't be bothered by it. Not much, anyway. If anything, I'll get a commendation for actually keeping an intruding youkai out."
"...You still on about that? Look, I told you—"
I sigh in disgust. "Whatever, fine. take it. Ice cream's probably melted, though." The bucket girl seems to perk up at this. Fine, have at it, kid. "At least leave me one of the pies."
Greedy Greenie opens up the satchel, and takes out the big bag from the restaurant. She seems to know exactly what's what, which lends a grain of truth to what Koko said about her doing stuff on the outside. ...Maybe that's why she knew what she was looking at in my wallet. Interesting.
The bucket girl slinks a bit more out of her bucket as she scoots it over to where we all have a seat on the rocks. I try to peer into the bucket, but I can't see from this angle. Damn.
Tiny gets the fries, the melted parfait, and one of the apple pies. Parsee takes the side salad and the parfait, and manages to looks somehow elegant and fancy and shit while she eats. I guess the bitch-switch gets turned off while she eats. Almost kinda wistful-lookin'. Well, long as she isn't bitching at me, I'm fine. I'm left with the chicken sandwich (I'm almost sure that wasn't intentional dickishness on her part) and the other pie, while the drink gets split between the two of them. I get to crunch the few ice cubes still left for water, which does the job.
The food seems to cheer the bucket girl right up, and after they have a quiet little chat that's juuuust out of hearing range, the girl soars back up into the darkness above. Not even a single word of thanks, the little brat. Though there wasn't a single word of anything, really, so...
Parsee comes back, and her mood seems to be rapidly dropping back down into Crapville now that she's not eating. "All right, darkie, let's get a move on."
I burst out laughing. "What? Man, fuck your shit, lady!" I'm pissed, but I can't help laughing. It just came out of nowhere, and again, I don't think she knows how bad that is. Poor little bitch is a walking piJesus that's sharp-looking
"Remember what I said about not having much of a problem with killing you here? It still applies." That wiggly looking blade is thrust at me, point wavering in front of my face. I didn't even hear her draw the damn thing.
Somehow, I have the cojones to be a little bit of a prick right back. "Don't ever call me something like that again, and we'll get along just fine, bitch."
She raises an eyebrow, looks down at me, and sighs in disgust. "It's your fault for picking such a crappy appearance, youkai. Did you think it was all dark down here, and you'd be able to blend in? No, don't even answer, just let's go already."
After a bit more sniping and arguing, we get going once again, thank fuck.
* * * * *
...But after another twenty minutes of silence, I am getting bored. I can't help it. I'm feeling punchy, almost. I haven't slept in about eighteen or twenty hours, and I don't think I'd be able to sleep if I tried. I'm restless again, but at least I don't feel like I'm being watched.
Well, except for Pointy-ears, behind me. She's definitely watching.
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Alright, so Parsee's doing shit in the outer world, yet does not know about the existence of black people, or do I just have reading comprehensibly problems due the lack of sleep. Or is it because she's only been to Japan where one rarely sees a black person?
[ø] My Page
--[ø] Recent Contacts
Time for more Yukari AI.
>While true [that 1895 Japan knew about black people], this barely applies for a vast number of reasons. They will be covered later, so be patient. So there may actually be more to it than just ignorance on her part.
>>128454 Just as there is no hope of ever breaking down a brick wall with just your forehead, there is no hope of Parsee giving a single fuck about what we say. As for trying to convince Kisume (the bucket girl, please learn the characters of which you are reading), maybe you should pay more attention to the stories you are reading? Kisume left. She flew away on her bucket cord.
Your vote is terrible, and your reasoning behind it is terrible.
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[␂] My Page
-[⇡] Upcoming Events
"Don't suppose I could at least know where we're going?" I ask. I don't really expect much out of her, and she probably thinks I already know, or something. I'd say it couldn't hurt to ask, but given how bitchy she can be, that's still up in the air.
"Palace of the Earth Spirits; where else?" Well, whaddya know? An actual answer, though not exactly a helpful one. Still, if she's in a conversational mood...
"...So is that some kind of fancy beer hall, or are we talking actual—" I hold up my hands and wiggle my fingers as best I can "—spooooky kinds of spirits?"
Her reply is a bit late in the coming, and it sounds a tad confused and irritated. "...What? No. Beer and sake are in the city; fucking plenty, too. Probably more common than water. Why do you even ask?" Her voice takes on an amused, slightly mocking tone, now. "Is that why you came down here? You're awful stupid, Mr. Surface Youkai. If you'd— Well, heh, never mind. Awful intrepid wino, aren't you? And goddamn stupid, but that goes without saying." She lapses into quiet snickering.
I think that's the most I've heard her say in one go this whole time. Maybe having a bite cheered her up?
"Hey, I have a name, you know."
"And I have a whole lot of don't-give-a-damn. You're a prisoner, and I pretty much stop caring about it after that. Unless you try to escape or something, in which case you're trouble. And then unconscious, after I hit you in the head with a rock."
Ever the professional, I see.
"Good to know," I say, and decide to push my luck a little more. "So what's this Earthy Spirit Palace thing like?"
"You'll see it for yourself in a few minutes. Now quit fucking talking."
...It was worth a shot.
We pass through a couple more caverns, both of them pretty small. But I can already start to hear the echoing noise, just barely.
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The floor of the last cavern begins to head upward about a third of the way through it. The drippy rocks and pointy rocks— Goddamn, I need to learn the names for those. Maybe I should've asked Koko. Whatever they're called, they start showing up less as we get closer to the opening at the end.
Air flows and light shines through there, or at least, brighter light. Still not quite sunlight, but brighter and a little whiter than the lights of the cave. Still don't know where that shit's coming from, either. We even passed right by the center of one little pool of light on the wall at one point, before, and there wasn't anything there. I was going to try brushing against it, but it was just a bit too far off the path, and I think Prissy or whatever here might've thought I was making a break for it, and shanked me. I can live with not knowing if it means I get to keep living.
As for the air... it smells kinda odd. Not really bad, but weird, like the time I went with Ray to his brother's house out in Napa. Don't know how the hell someone from a no-count family like Ray's managed to get a house out there, but the air was nice. It just didn't have the smells of the city. ...Ah, that's it. It smells actually clean. Sorta, anyway. There's something funny to it, but I can't put my finger on it.
Once we reach the opening, I'm finally able to see this city she mentioned.
Unsurprisingly, it looks... Japanese. Almost ridiculously so, like straight out of a samurai movie. It's pretty big, I guess; maybe the size of one or two of of the bigger suburbs of Los Ojos. There's what looks like a big-ass tower waaaaay beyond the city, too. I'd guess three or four miles off from where we are?
...Which brings me to the way more noticeable detail: this cavern is fucking huge.
My knees feel weak just looking at the sheer goddamned impossibility of it all. It must go up a half-mile, quarter-mile high? I can't really gauge the distance at the moment because I'm in the middle of freaking out. There's something so terrifyingly disturbing about being in something so fucking enormous. I feel terrified, I feel tiny. I'm not worried about it crashing in on me or anything. Something of this size shouldn't exist!
I'm leaning hard against the rock wall of the outside of the cave, as it's the only thing keeping me upright at the moment. I'm breathing hard, only a few seconds of panic away from hyperventilating, I think. Really hungry. Worthless damned coping mechanism. Need to get myself under control. Now. Now. Now.
Okay, focus. NOT UP. Down. The city. Yes. The city is... it's goddamn weird, being underground, but I can take that much. Now sloooowww down. Calm down. No spazzing out. Settle. Good. Goood. Goooood. Okay.
...Right. It's a city. Nothing too weird about that. It's all oriental and shit, too. Still okay. Giant cavern... Unsettling as hell, but come on, this is some fairytale fantasyland, right? Bizarre, impossible shit is the norm here. This is more of that.
"You about done having your little panic attack?" She sounds slightly amused, and yet, a little irritated. Not even sure if that's possible.
However, I can't find the energy to get nasty back. "Sure. Just about."
"Good. Let's go." She sets off again, walking past me. I've got no choice but to follow her down the long, shallow, meandering road over mostly empty cave floor. I can see a few houses, here and there on the far outskirts, but they're small little things, and spaced far apart. each of them has a little path that joins up with this main road as it makes straight for the city.
"Now, I don't know what you had in mind when you came down here," she says over her shoulder, "but I'm sure you've heard rumors of a city full of strange youkai and oni. Well, they're true. Don't piss off the youkai, and as for the oni... well, they're oni." She shrugs. "Plan accordingly."
I frown at her back. "'Scuse me, but what the hell's that supposed to mean? I can guess about the youkai, but I've got no clue what the hell an oni is. How am I supposed to pl—"
She stops and turns around, giving me an incredibly skeptical look. "...You're not going to seriously tell me you don't know what an oni is." It's spoken flat; almost like a statement, rather than a question.
[ ] Hell no
[ ] Hell yes
[ ] Hell with you
[ ] Hell with me
[X] Hell no
In the "no, I don't know what an oni is" sense. English could really use something like French "si" for answering negative questions.
A thought occurs: if our protagonist has any capacity to flip out left within him, it's probably going to get released once he finds out he's in Hell in a very literal way.
>...And totally unrelated, but does anyone else hear a snatch of the NERV theme music in Satori's theme? I'd link youtube and give times and stuff, but I want to get this posted already. Maybe later.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3GXU3t1dZWM#t=0m16s . Never noticed that before.
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[♇] Hell no
I think it's the look that does it. The look, or maybe the constant "Sure, whatever, man" kind of way she brushes off anything I say about not being a youkai.
Whatever the case, I've had it. ...Which is an awful uppity and probably dangerous way to start acting towards the person with the sharp shit when you've got your hands tied, but I'm feeling too angry to think rationally about that little aspect.
"Hell no I don't, lady!" I snap at her. "For fuck's sake, is it really so hard to believe that I'm a human?"
She's rather unmoved by this outburst. "Yes. Yes, it is," she says levelly, folding her arms.
I bite my tongue, and keep from screaming back something nasty. "...All right, then, fine," I say, after I've taken a couple deep breaths. "Let's look at it like this: say I was a youkai. Say I have lived here in Crazy Oriental Fantasyland—"
"—Gensokyo for all my life, and I know exactly what the hell an oni is, and how to 'plan accordingly' for one." I'd spread my hands here, but tied up like this, I just sort of bend out my palms to the sides. "So in that case, I'm just playing dumb, and deliberately trying to fuck with you."
She nods. "Pretty much."
I look at her in disbelief and disgust. "...Are you serious? Come on, think that through for a moment. What the fuck kind of crappy plan is that? I'm going to, what, make you angry? Waste your time? And what the fuck would I get out of it? No, seriously, think about that for a damn minute!"
Mrs. Spock narrows those bright green eyes, and is about to fire back something, when she stops, and frowns a bit deeper. ...Is she actually listening? I keep going, and pray something's actually getting through.
"Trying to screw with someone by pretending to be a dumbass has to be the stupidest fucking idea ever. If I'm not really that clueless, then that just means I get my kicks from being a retard and pissing people off. I've wasted my time, their time, They hate me, and I look stupid. That is the stupidest fucking plan ever." My tirade has suddenly dropped into a low, serious tone. "And if I ever found myself feeling so shitty that I started doing that, I'd do the decent thing and put a fucking bullet in my head to stop the stupid from getting out."
...When did she get so close?
No, hold on. That's me who got close. I've been stalking around like a madman, and a finger is pointed at her, accusingly. I'm breathing heavily, too. That was disturbingly cathartic, I realize.
I'll give her credit, though, she doesn't seem bothered in the least. Still looking at me, frowning. Hasn't budged an inch, either. Still, I've made my point, and I take a few steps back.
Finally, she looks up, shrugs a little, and sets off back down the path without a word. Pssht. Figures the bitch wouldn't bo—
"They're really strong, and most have a horn or two," she calls back to me casually. "Other than that, they look nothing like the big hulking bastards in stories. They look pretty normal, like anyone else in Gensokyo. They like to drink, gamble, fight, and they're a sucker for bets. Don't lie to them or try starting a fight you can't finish."
I blink in surprise, then find a smile stretching my lips as I catch up with her. "So, you finally believe me, then?" I ask, carefully keeping the smugness out of my voice.
"Not really." Well, shit.
"I'll give you the point about wasting someone's time by acting like a moron being idiotic," she continues, "but you also were stupid enough to come down underground when any youkai aboveground knows full well that they can't come down here, no m— Well, they can't come down here, and that's how it's been for ages. So maybe you really are just genuinely stupid."
...Definitely not an amazing victory. Still, she's not being the super-bitch from before. Maybe cranked it down to medium bitch. Whatever; I can live with that.
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The city itself starts feeling a little more like an actual city as we get closer. It's definitely louder, and sounds of stuff happening comes from all over. And that weird smell is stronger. Smells mealy, like a brewery, but it's not the smell of beer, at all. It's different, but there's still some common thread in there.
We start getting odd looks from the moment we pass the outer walls, heading down the same main drag we've been on this whole time. All the funny horned people stare while trying not to stare, looking surprised and curious. We don't get the same kind of worried, nervous looks that I'm used to getting whenever I walked around really nice —and really white— places like Eden Hills. These guys look surprised and interested. I'm probably a large part of it, but Parsee's getting her fair share, too. I'm guessing she doesn't leave the bridge, much.
...And I guess my hands being pretty clearly tied up is getting attention, too.
I try not to let it get to me, but it's almost impossible. I'm looking around like a tourist, taking all the sights in. I knew I was in a crazy little fantasyland, and the people I've met so far make that obvious, and the freakass-huge cavern with a city in it was a big tip-off, but actually seeing a whole bunch of clearly non-human people doing ordinary things really drives it home.
Nobody stops us, or questions us, or anything. It's more than a little weird, given that we have to be standing out pretty bad. We get plenty of looks, of course, and I hear quiet talking start up just as we start getting out of earshot. But nobody does a thing to get in our way, so we just keep walking down the main road towards the bigass tower up past the far end of town.
The tower is ...big. And dark. Not twisty or evil like some kinda 80s fantasy novel castle, but just.... really big. And really there. It's out beyond the city's edge, and I'm getting the message that the oni and the other youkai like it just fine that way. But it's like a really creepy principal: Nobody likes him, everyone stays away, but you know that's the top of the political chain.
Now, I could be totally wrong, but I don't think you get to build shit this unsettling if you're just really rich. You've got to have some kind of power to have a pad like this. Not just that, but it's gotta be power that people either respect or fear, 'cause otherwise they show up with pitchforks and torches sooner or later.
...The mailbox out in front kind of throws me off, though.
After heading up the steps and going through a pair of large metal doors, we find ourselves inside a dark hall with super-high ceilings. Whoever built the place loved the hell out of stained-glass windows, because there are a ton of them. I have to admit, it looks pretty nice, if kinda cathedral-y. Well, minus the choir and organ music, though. And pews.
Parsee seems to know exactly where she's going, and turns left a short ways into the hall into what looks like some kind of reception area. ...No, hold on. Desk in the middle of the room, nameplate, fancy carpet, bored-but-attentive-looking, tiny, glowing blue girl on fire (also blue) behind said desk... It is a reception area. Possibly of the damned.
She marches up to the desk and begins speaking to... I guess that's a fairy? It's got the wings for one. It's not really on fire, but there is a flame hovering above what looks like a halo. I don't even know what the fuck, anymore. And really, I don't care.
There's a couch next to some honest-to-god potted plants on one side of the wall. I could do with a short rest, since we've been walking who knows how many miles with only the lunch break for rest. Then again, we could be going again pretty soon, so maybe I should stay on my feet and wander around. I don't how long we'll be here.
0) This should have been finished and posted about 2-3 days ago or so, but between unnecessary slowness, a car breaking down, and going to one of my bazillion niece's birthday parties, it got pushed to this evening. I apologize deeply for the delay. Again again.
1) The choices are not as pointless as they might seem.
2) I could have done better with the choices from last update, and for that, too, I apologize. To make up for it, I gave you this version of the answer instead. It's much better than the original idea.
Taking into consideration how long most youkai live, six years old is like a baby and sixty is like a teenager. How I came to the conclusion the choices meant that I'll never know. I blame it on being up for 30 hours right now.
ages might mean the personality of who we meet... possibly Koishi. 6 = young, naive, selfish as only a kid can be without realizing the consequences. 60 = older, wiser, but possibly jaded and stuck in their ways.
>"Trying to screw with someone by pretending to be a dumbass has to be the stupidest fucking idea ever. If I'm not really that clueless, then that just means I get my kicks from being a retard and pissing people off. I've wasted my time, their time, They hate me, and I look stupid. That is the stupidest fucking plan ever."
Oho. I think our protagonist glanced over at the fourth wall for just a moment there.
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[ⅬⅩ] Sixty year-old
"I've brought in a youkai from the surface that tried coming down here. Where's Komeiji?"
ɪ ѧssυмє ʏоυ мєѧɴ мɪss sѧтоʀɪ﹖ ɪ ѧм ѧғʀѧɪɒ sнє ɪs оυт ʀɪɢнт ɴоw, says a young girl's voice that gives me goosebumps for a second. Nothing that quiet should sound that hollow. Or clear, given I'm halfway across the room.
"Oh, for..." With a growl, Parsee throws up a hand. "Fine, whatever. Is anyone else in at the moment that's even remotely connected to her? I'll speak to any of them, I don't care who! This is urgent!"
Trundling over to the couch, I drop into it with a sigh. ...Followed by a shout as I bruise my ass on the bare floor. Wincing in pain and quietly swearing, I look around. What joker pulled away the... couch..."
There's no couch at all, anywhere. A few chairs over there, but no couch. What the hell, man.
Parsee's giving me a weird look, but only for a second. She jerks her head towards the exit. "Let's go, there's a place on the next floor where we can wait." Turning on her heel, she proceeds to take a few steps, turn, walk a few more, turn again, and repeats the process over and over, cutting a weird little path through the room. It's like she's walking through an invisible maze.
A glance at the floor says that no, it has not turned to lava. A glance at the fairy... thing? at the desk shows she isn't even paying attention as she's too busy writing something down. The nameplate by the desk reads "Decay". Is that her name?
"...So did we just walk into the Twilight Zone when we came in here, or something?" I finally ask. Shit is getting downright surreal, and I'm not exactly sure I want to go in any deeper.
My captor looks up, irritated. "Huh? What are you talking about? And hurry the hell up already!"
I watch her continue on her crazy little path for a few seconds more before deciding that maybe I should say something. "Uh, before I do that and all, I just wanna ask why you're doing that... thing."
I point with my bound fingers. "The walking around like you're, I dunno, following a line all the hell over? You've been wandering around for about a minute or two."
She stops and turns around, putting a hand on her hip. "I haven't been wandering around at all! You're the one who's been dragging his tail! Do I have to come over there and get you?!"
I really wish I had a camera with me.
"You're talking to a plant," I say, keeping that grin under control. It'll only be trouble later if I laugh now, as much as I'd like to.
"All right, then that's how we'll pl—" She freezes in mid-draw, hand ceasing to pull the wavy blade from its sheath as she blinks, and then narrows her eyes. A large ficus, I think they're called, sits squarely in front of her.
She starts to speak, then goes silent for a while before putting her weapon back. I can see her eyes darting around, trying to figure out what's going on, before she stops, and looks almost relieved. "Should really have guessed that from the beginning," she mutters, and then says in a louder voice, "Come on out, little sister. This was kind of shoddy, honestly."
"And yet it managed to ensnare you well enough, princess~"
While not impossible, it is still distressingly hard to find solo pictures of the zombie fairies. Pixiv helped some, but I actually started cutting them out of pictures of Orin, I got so desperate. ...And to top that off, I spent way too long coming up with a way to automate the small-caps conversion.
I was also looking through the (in?)famous thread on /blue/, and saw the big long list of things to do or not do. I just want to reassure you all that a) this is going to be much more than just a "strange kind of person goes around and does stuff in Gensokyo"-type story, and b) despite its "ordinary guy gets dropped into Gensokyo"-ish beginning, you can bet your ass there's a proper plot. Hell, I don't know how I'd write without one. It's difficult for me to spin that stuff on the fly.
Also, I am giggling like a madman right now.
Mostly, it's because two characters who have both reminded me of GLaDOS on separate occasions and in separate stories have, in this story, turned out to be the same character.
The bit with Parsee walking around in front of the protagonist, clearly tricked into thinking she was walking a lot farther than she actually was, would be the other part. Especially since I had been thinking of something very similar just a couple days ago.
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[♥] Radar contact
Well, I'm glad she's not gone for good, then. Was starting to worry about that, since I need all the help I can get while I'm in this place. And so far, the only other person here who's been sticking around tied me up. It ain't exactly what I'd look for in somebody to hang with.
"Koko, that you?" I ask, sounding a bit hopeful. It sounds like a stupid question the second I ask it since that sounded just like her, but still.
"Who's 'Koko'? That was Komeiji's sister. A bit crazy; messes with your mind. Dangerous." Parsee seems to have gone mostly still while her eyes zip back and forth.
My eyes go wide. "Wait, you heard it, t—OOF!"
I'm knocked to the floor by what feels like someone leaping onto me, like a six year-old kid running up for a flying hug/tackle. Only this feels like about fifty or sixty pounds more than most little kids. Before my head whacks into the floor, arms shoot up over my shoulders, and a pair of hands lace together behind my skull, providing a cushion at the last possible moment and sparing me the head trauma that seems to be the day's special.
"Who the hell... get off of me!" I yell, irritated. Paragon of gratitude, that's me. See, I wouldn't have needed the cushion if I hadn't been bowled over. It works out, trust me.
Focusing on the person I finally see sitting on top of me, I blink a few times and lift my head up, peering at them.
...Someone that young-looking shouldn't have hair that grey. Or green. I can't really make out which; it kinda blurs between the two. It's wavy, and kinda messy, but in a cute sort of way. The back part is pulled up in a ponytail, and her eyes are green, and I can't really notice anything else because I'm looking at her face properly now and I can't help but feel terror.
Not enough to scream, not enough to yell, not enough to tremble, not enough to do anything. Not enough even, and this is the weird part, to be afraid.
I know, with a certainty deep down that give me the chills, that I am looking at someone who should be
—no, who is, she definitely is, but I can't feel it—
scaring the ever-loving shit out of me.
But I feel nothing except that certainty. I've never been more sure about nothing in ever.
It's the fascination and blankness on her face. Like someone who wants to know everything about what's in front of it, every last thing, and is enthusiastic about pursuing this knowledge. But they couldn't care less about the thing itself.
This is terror on a whole different level than being stalked by something that wants to kill you. This thing might kill me, and not even care.
I'd probably think she was more attractive if I weren't terrified. I'm kinda guessing this is another youkai. But at the same time...
And then she smiles, almost too wide. Just short of it, maybe. "Say it again!" she says, and that's definitely Koko's voice I'm hearing from her lips.
She giggles, and presses her face close to mine, and that fascination is back, sharing space with the smile. Her eyes are all over, trying to look at every inch of my face. "You're alive~!"
Her breath smells like nothing. ...No, it smells like mint. And then Red Hots. And then burning oil. And then it smells like music.
"Mmm, I shouldn't push too hard. But I've never gotten to talk with one of you before! Well, not in here, at least." She giggles, sounding like an excited child.
I glare at her. "Never seen a brother before? Imagine that," I say sourly. It shouldn't irritate me, but it still does.
She sits up a little, and waves a hand. "No, no, I've seen plenty of black people before. I meant an Outsider!"
"Wait, what?" Parsee's voice comes over from my left. "You're... that's a joke, right? He can't be an Outsider. Look at him! There's no way that's natural!"
The girl on my chest looks up, a little amused. "Princess, there's an entire continent in the Outside full of people even darker than he. Be assured, it's natural."
"You're kidding." Her voice sounds a little weak. I'd like to know how Koko —or whoever she is?— knows about that, but they seem kind of busy, and I'm staying quiet because I'm enjoying watching Parsee get more and more red. She's totally had this coming.
"Nope~ Iiiiin fact, shouldn't you already know this?" Koko's voice sounds curious. "I mean, you yourself have been to the outside before. I know you mainly toured in Japan, but still, you should have seen at least one black person on a billboard or on television..."
"I... I thought it was makeup. A costume! Like, some kind of monster? ...People dressing up? Look, there weren't many around. I've never seen one in person! It's a mistake anybody could make! I... Dammit, get off my back, woman!"
And she finally loses it. Face red as a fire truck, she sulks, and hard. I, too, lose it, and start laughing as well. This shit's just gotten more and more insane, and I don't really care about the consequences anymore. Luckily, she doesn't seem to be inclined to violence.
However, it gets Koko's attention. She looks back at me, leans down, and props her chin up in her hands, elbows digging into my chest. Ow.
"And as for you, Outsider... what shaaaaall we do with you?"
[ ] Help me, Mr. Wizard
[ ] I've fallen and I can't get up
[ ] Indian head
>"No, no, I've seen plenty of black people before. I meant an Outsider!"
Huh. Wonder where she's seen black people if they weren't Outsiders.
[X] I've fallen and I can't get up
Let's not go throwing ourselves on anyone's tender mercies just yet. I know it's wrong to draw conclusions based on the author's past works, but I just can't imagine Fell's Koishi being an entirely benevolent sort of insane.
>>130323 >I mean, you yourself have been to the outside before. I know you mainly toured in Japan, but still, you should have seen at least one black person on a billboard or on television..."
I remember a CYOA like this. It was long and weird. Marisa was a bitch. But I liked it.
Then it died.
>That's its own image, actually.
I may be imagining things, but I thought that update was posted with a different pic and then deleted and then we got the current version. The picture for the first one was nice, but I honestly don't remember what it was now.
>>130339 >I remember a CYOA like this. It was long and weird.
Landlord of Mayohiga? That was a queer little story, but I'll be damned if it didn't have one of the best premises.
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[✩] Help me, Mr. Wizard!
"As long as it doesn't involve killing me or hitting me on the back of the head anymore, I'm pretty much good with whatever. Parsee, you wanna chime in here?"
The blonde glares at me a little, probably because I'm acting all casual and chummy towards the one who caught me and brought me in. The LOPD didn't much care for that, either, if the stories Steve-o told me were on the ball. Can't blame 'em. It's annoying and it throws you off a bit.
Dragging her gaze back over to the girl sitting on top of me in the middle of an unpopulated reception area (besides us and the fairy-thing), she starts speaking, almost respectfully. "A number of hours ago, I captured this y..." —she closes her eyes, and grits her teeth— "...this alleged Outsider traveling through the primary cave path. Due to certain features and statements made, I treated him as though he were a surface youkai that had broken the pact."
A number of dark glares get sent my way at certain points. Fire away, baby; it ain't hurting me a bit.
"Well, then I brought him here, as per my duties," continues Parsee. "I'm not sure when you came along, but I attempted to bring him to the Lady Komeiji, but—"
"—And then you got a different Lady Komeiji~!"
"...Yes. Yes, I did." I can almost hear the sigh of disappointment she's trying to hold back.
Koko springs to her feet. "Well done, then! Consider your duties discharged, princess. Thank you for seeing things through. The Palace will deal properly with this man."
The pointy-eared girl looks like she wants to say something more. And as she looks at me, a lot more. But somehow, she keeps quiet, and leaves.
"...You can get up now, you know," says Koko.
"Oh, right. Thanks," I say dumbly as I get to my feet. "So... Who are you, exactly, and why do you sound like Koko? Or are you her? I'm still mixed up over that... and pretty much everything else."
She grins at hearing 'Koko' again. "We're one and the same, we are, she and I, me and she. We~!" The girl wiggles two of her fingers around before bringing them together at the end. "I am Koishi Komeiji, and th—"
ѧн﹗ мɪsтʀєss κоɪsнɪ﹖ The creepy little fairy jerks her head up, voice sounding worried despite the chilling sound. And damn, delayed reaction much? ғоʀɢɪѵє мє, ɪ нѧɒ ɴот ɴотɪсєɒ тнѧт ʏоυ нѧɒ ʀєтυʀɴєɒ. She floats up out of her chair and starts bowing, probably as an apology. That's a Japanese thing, isn't it? No real surprise, given what I'd heard earlier, I guess.
"Don't worry, Decay," Koko —well, 'Koishi' now— says reassuringly. "I haven't been here long, and I'm not feeling put out." The fairy begrudgingly accepts this, and settles back down, but stops halfway.
"The bridge princess, yes. She came and dropped off this person here with me."
Now the fairy starts to sound a little bit shook-up. ѧн... ɪ sєє. вυт мɪss sѧтоʀɪ wɪʟʟ вє вѧсκ ɪɴ ѧ ғєw ноυʀs, sо ɪ’м sυʀє тнѧт—
Koishi gives that little smile again, and waves a hand dismissively. "Nah, don't worry about it. I've got this one well under control. You aren't running off anywhere, are ya?"
"Probably wouldn't get very far if I did," I reply, avoiding a direct answer to that.
ʀєѧʟʟʏ, ɪт’s ɴо ρʀовʟєм ɪғ— says the fairy, starting in on this again. But once more, she's cut off.
"It's fine, Decay. Do not press this issue further."
...ѧs ʏоυ sѧʏ, мɪsтʀєss κоɪsнɪ. The fairy makes my continued future seem very, very dubious. Joy.
I bring up my hands as I start to ask something, but then stop as I see that there's no longer any rope tied about them. Koishi is humming to herself as she winds up a... small coil of rope.
The same rope that was holding my hands together as of what I could've sworn was a few seconds ago.
I'm guessing this would be the "messes with your mind" bit at work, then. I don't know if I should be grateful or creeped out.
She ties up the coil, wrapping it around the middle to keep it in one bundle, and then drops it into a tray on the fairy's desk marked "OUT." Turning back to me, she claps her hands together. "So... questions? Or food? I'm sure you're hungry. Or no, wait. Both! ...Ah, but it's a long walk into town, and I'm sure you're sick and tired of all that. To the kitchen!"
And with that, she disappears.
With a last look around the reception area, I follow her. Wasn't really kidding about the not getting very far If I ran off.
[ ] Manual controls (write-in any questions for Koishi; each one may or may not be used, at writer's discretion)
[ ] Autopilot (only the questions already planned for will be asked)
[x] Manual controls
(I'm assuming most of these would have been included in autopilot, but whee basic question outlines)
-[x] -So, you're.. the boss around here? Or the sister of the boss?
-[x] -Nice palace. And the staff are.. um.. burning angel things?
-[x] -Not to put too fine a point on it, but I'm guessing you're also not human?
-[x] -Back there it sounded like you're surprisingly good at helping outsiders. But this is the first time you've seen one in person? Were there others, or am I the first?
--[x] -...(if yes to the above)What happened to the others?
-[x] -So, what happens now? I mean, in the long term. Not that I don't appreciate the architecture here and your gracious hostiness, but apparently sticking around in "Gensokyo" is hazardous to life expectancy. How do I leave?
[X] Manual controls
-[X] Like I asked before, what is this place?
-[X] How did I get here?
-[X] Why am I here?
-[X] Who are you?
-[X] People have been brought here like I was before?
-[X] How do I leave?
-[X] What did you mean by 'construct' before?
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As Koishi takes me deeper into the building, I notice the place starts looking a little less fancy and prettied-up. It's not that the place starts looking crappier, it just doesn't look as much like the nice friendly front half the public is meant to see. Form gives way to function, and the lighting isn't as bright. Still plenty of stained glass, but now it's smaller and in little patterns and designs instead of big fancy pictures. Floor's the same cold, dark tile as the lobby.
Weirdest thing, though, is that the place isn't hot. It's supposed to get hotter the deeper you go, isn't it? I remember reading about some cavern where they found these ass-huge crystals, and people couldn't stay in there for more than a few minutes without a suit or they'd pass out. But nope, it's probably a good 70 or 72 in here. More magical bullshit, I guess.
"Do you consume the flesh of lesser beasts?"
...That's one question that should never be asked so perkily.
"Do I what?" I ask, trying to get my brain on track. She's stopped outside of a room that definitely seems like a kitchen. A big one, though. Given the size of this place, I guess they've got lots of mouths to feed. "I ain't a vegetarian or vegan or any of that, if that's what you're asking." God, I hope that's what she's asking.
"Good! That's one long, boring lecture you've avoided." She claps her hands together, then skips into the kitchen. "Gangrene, are you in? Don't say you aren't; I can hear you~!"
There's a quiet, muffled curse, and then one of the weird angel fairy things pokes its head out of a cupboard. It's larger than the little one at the front desk by maybe another foot. It also looks extremely unamused.
...нєʟʟо, мɪsтʀєss κоɪsнɪ, it says. Sounds like the receptionist, only a tad deeper, and a lot more weary. I wonder if this girl's put her through a lot. ноw мѧʏ ɪ нєʟρ ʏоυ ѧɴɒ ʏоυʀ... ғʀɪєɴɒ﹖
"Can you make some orange a l'duck, aaand... he'll have whatever's good." Yep, I'd probably start hiding if I got orders like that. The fairy takes it with a sigh, and hangs her head just a bit.
"Excellent! We'll be in the dining room." The fairy is already getting to work as Koishi sets off.
I gotta say, I'm a little bit worried. This is Koko? This is the nice lady who helped me out and told me where I was, what the score was, and told me she'd keep me safe? I feel like I'm watching a kid, here. She said she would answer my questions, but I'm really starting to wonder if she can.
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I guess it really could've been worse.
"Whatever's good" is some kind of breaded fish thing which tastes pretty damn good. I wasn't touching the rice too much until I thought to start dipping it in the sauce that was meant to be for the fish, which made it a lot less dry and a lot more edible.
The two of us sit in what I guess is a banquet hall or something, though it's empty at the moment. There's a big long table down the middle, and the two of us sit on the end farthest from the door we used coming in; Koishi on the very end, and I off to her left. It's kind of dark in here, but the stained glass has made a comeback, letting light in through a bunch of... I'm guessing they're scenes from some story or something? None of it looks familiar to me.
Koishi sits at the actual end of the dark wooden table, and I'm on her left. She happily dunks another orange wedge in some kind of thick, yellow soup, and munches it down. I'm guessing it's duck stew or something, given what she asked for. I wouldn't know, and I'm not sure I want to. Still, I've got other questions which need asking. Hell, that's why I'm here.
"So, I wanted to say thanks and stuff for cutting me free," I tell the girl across from me. "That rope was starting to chafe." ...Well, I say 'girl,' but I'm not really sure where she falls on the scale of girl vs. woman. She looks about early twenties or late, late teens.
"Wha' makes you 'hink 're free?" she asks around a mouthful of orange. Not a good sign, that question.
"The lack of rope?"
"Oh. Right." She nods, and then swallows. "Well, you're welcome."
Ooookay, definitely coming back to that one later, but I've got a laundry list of stuff to go through, and I think I know the answer to that one already. "So, who exactly are you? I mean, i heard your name and all. I got that part just fine. Only you sound a lot like Koko, who's th—"
"Ah!" she exclaims. Pushing back her chair and standing up in one motion, she leeeeans toward me with that creepy, half-blank smile. "How was she? Was she good? Did she help?"
"...Yeah, she was good. She helped," I answer. "...But, like... is she not the same as you, or..."
"Sure, she's me." More smile.
"No, definitely not."
...God, tell me she isn't always like this. "I think you lost me there, lady."
Her smile turns into a frown, and she slowly sits back down, looking pensive. I take the time to take another few bites of the fish. and rice. "...Isn't she filling you in on the details?" she finally asks me.
"Nope. She's been gone since Elf-- uh, Parsee, whacked me on the back of the head." Still hurts a little, too.
More frowniness. She starts tapping a finger against the table. "Sounds like the graft needs reinforcing," she mutters. "If blunt trauma and unconsciousness take it offline, then it's as good as useless." Her eyes meet mine. "But you can still understand and read Japanese, right?"
I scratch my head, then give a shrug. "I wouldn't know. I haven't read or spoken it since— no, wait, Parsee had a note that was in squiggles and crap, but I could read it after a bit. Haven't spoken it at all, though."
"We're speaking it right now, actually." She smirks a little.
"We are...?" I stop and listen for a bit, before realizing that'd be kinda pointless. "Doesn't sound like it," I finish lamely.
"It shouldn't. The graft works much easier that way. Good to know that's still up and running, at least, or else you'd be reeeeally screwed."
And that about does it. "All right, look. I don't wanna sound like a dick, but would you please just tell me what the hell is going on? I am so fucking lost it's..." I search for words, and eventually just fall back on, "...Would you just tell me what's going on?"
Koishi looks at me for a about a minute, takes a deep breath, holds up a finger, and then nods. "Sure."
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Koishi scoots her plate out of the way, and looks at me, seeming somewhat serious for a change. "Normally I'd need you to focus on something to free up your mind, because this involves a whole lot more work in your head than I do normally when I'm working. Buuut, luckily, you've got the Koko graft in your head, so I can just use that. Don't worry, I'm getting to that," she says, holding up a hand.
She holds open her hands, and what looks like a hologram of the Earth pops up out of it, spinning around with a little grey ball what I'm guessing is the moon alongside it. "I have pinpointed the location of Genso— wait, wrong speech," she says suddenly, and waves her hands, making the green globe disappear. "Let's start over."
She taps the table, and a realistic-looking replica of a string of large islands pops up out of the table. It takes me a second to realize it's Japan. "Our country has always had a rich tradition of exceptionally strange monsters and creatures featured throughout countless stories and legends." While she speaks, images of weird-looking tings appear and disappear around the island: a red-skinned man with horns in a loincloth and holding a club, a faceless woman in a kimono, some kind of skinny green bird-frog-man with leaves on its head, tiny little dolls with rotating heads, and a few others too weird to get a good look at before they fade out.
"...Though it may not seem realistic to most Outsiders, most of these were, at one point, real." She looks up at me pointedly, and adds, "I say most Outsiders, because you are one of the comparative few that now knows differently."
"Can't deny that," I tell her. With a nod, she continues.
"I'm sure 'Koko' gave you a brief bit of history about this place, but to understand 'what the hell is going on,' it helps to understand the underlying causes. The most fundamental of these is the issue of faith, or belief, if you like. It is something that creatures like us cannot survive without. One usually finds this situation in the realms of theological discussion, but for us, it is allows us exist."
"Don't take this the wrong way, but... that sounds like total BS," I say, gesturing at her with the fork. She said 'us,' so it's a pretty good guess that she's not human, either. The crazy mind powers were a bit of a giveaway, though. "I mean, you're standing right there. You definitely exist. Why's somebody need to believe in you to make you real?"
She smiles, and it almost looks normal. Almost. "If we had another few days to kill, I could outline the whole thing, but I'll keep it really short and say you can blame Buddhism for this one. The point is that all these stories and legends have a component of "rumor" to them. Any story, really, but especially so over here." She taps the little model of the Japanese islands. "The rumor, that is what allows us to exist. The story simply shapes us."
"I think you're going in circles, there."
"Not at all. Ask yourself: What happens when people stop believing in a rumor?"
"It dies ou— ...Oh." Koishi looks pleased with herself. At least she doesn't look too smug. "Okay, fine," I tell her, sounding kind of irritated. "Let's say this isn't a total load of philosophical crap. Are you going somewhere with all this?" I push my plate off to the side as well. Still got some rice left over, but it can wait.
"I'm getting there. Now, imagine that as a youkai, one of these kinds of creatures, you've realized this fact. But the rest of the world— or at least, the rest of the country —is slowly but surely modernizing. Science overtakes belief, and people start rationalizing away your existence, or discovering the true causes of things people attributed to you, or they just find they don't really believe in 'silly old folktales' anymore. The stories might live on, but now they're just that: stories, with no belief attached to them. To a youkai's existence, that's like a cup to a man in the desert - it's associated with what they need, but if the most important part isn't there, it's no good to them."
I sigh, and wave a hand. When is she going to get to th—
I rub my forehead at the spot where she'd poked me with her chopsticks. She's not smiling anymore, either. "Is it too much to ask to be gracious to your host and pay attention while she tries to answer a question which she thought you seemed interested in?" she asks.
Well, that's kind of a loaded question.
"Trust me, I'm getting around to answering it. But if I gave you the short version, you'd have ten more questions after that, and then another ten. This way I'm answering pretty much everything you could ask, so sit up and at least pretend to give a damn, all right?"
"Sure, okay." I sigh, and do as she asks, which has her looking a bit less ticked at me. "Youkai need rumors, because if you don't have 'em, you die out with 'em. I'm guessing things were all nice and fine up until a few hundred years ago, when technology started seriously picking up the pace, and science began kicking ghost stories' asses. How'm I doin' so far, Professor?"
"Top marks for you; good to see this hasn't been flying right out the other ear. And yes, the elder youkai started to notice that trend as well. The wisest and most powerful of them, Lady Yukari Yakumo, decided to do something about it." Koishi leans forward, and sketches a little circle on the table, over the map. The map suddenly ...either zooms in or gets bigger. Or maybe both. A spot almost right smack in the middle of the country expands, and I can now see actual mountains and valleys, green forests, and a smudge of grey and lines that marks city or two on the edges.
"The time: 1885. The place: Nagano Prefecture," begins Koishi in a suddenly dramatic voice. Not Don LaFontaine dramatic, but more sort of "Civil War movie narrator"-dramatic. "It is a grim land, more haunted and plagued by spirits and inhuman creatures than any other region of the country." She drops the voice and continues without missing a beat. "Yakumo decided that in order to preserve the existence of youkai in a land that was slowly but very surely beginning to stop believing in them, a sort of safe haven would need to be created, a place where belief would remain constant and sustainable. A certain section of the Yatsugatake mountain range and surrounding land in Nagano, she determined, would fit the bill nicely." A little red line starts tracing a path around and through one of the mountain ranges, etching out a border.
...Actually, this is all sounding kind of familiar. Koko had just said this was a place "where things that aren't believed in very much come to live," but now it's all clicking into place, kinda. I keep quiet, and let her go on.
"Creating the sealed land of Gensokyo was an absurdly monumental effort," Koishi says, just as the little red line completes its journey, meeting up with where it began, and pulsing brightly once. "The land that was there was recreated, slightly reshaped, and then sort of laid over the actual place it was meant to replicate, while at the same time remaining separate, thanks to the Borders. I'm assuming Koko told you about that part?"
"Yeah, I heard about them, kind of. Sometimes people slip through a hole in it, and end up here."
"Yes indeed. And that is where we finally start to focus specifically on your question. You see, most of Gensokyo's inhabitants simply refer to the separation between In Here and Out There as 'The Border,' or 'The Hakurei Border' if they're feeling verbose. But the thing is, there were actually two Borders, until lately. The Hakurei Border, tied to the current shrine maiden or priest of the Hakurei bloodline, is the outermost barrier." A little red translucent bubble forms over the area marked out by the line. "It keeps Outsiders from just wandering in, and instead lets them pass through to the actual land on the Outside that occupies the same space as Gensokyo's physical location. It is what actually separates Gensokyo from the Outside.
"The second barrier is on the inside. This is the lesser-known Yakumo Border, tied to the bloodline of Yakumo herself. It keeps the faith and belief inside Gensokyo, and amplifies it, allowing it to support the population that it does. As a side effect, this also allows for the existence of magic and the natural abilities and talents of the multitude of creatures we've got living here. And lastly, it's the other security measure: it keeps all of its inhabitants in. There are still a number of approved access paths to other realms and worlds, but the Yakumo Border is what keeps us craaaazy monsters from breaking Out. Most of the time."
She giggles, and I'm reminded all too clearly of the whispering voice in the parking lot, and the girl that tried to kill me in the construction site. Fighting back a shiver, I speak up. "You said there were two Borders. Something happen to one of 'em?"
Her smile returns, looking way more freakier than before.
"Why yes, as a matter of fact~ Starting about three months ago, they were joined by a third. The Hakurei keeps them out, the Yakumo keeps them in, and the Komeiji is the safety net."
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The pieces begin clicking into place even faster after a few moments.
"...A safety net... You mean Koko?" I ask. It's kind of selfish, I guess, but now that we're finally getting to my question, I can't help but be a little more inclined to discuss it.
"Mm-hmm~ Or 'damage control,' if you want to be blunt and a little rude— but completely accurate —about it."
"So, this does... what? Helps Outsiders survive if they wander in by accident?"
"Precisely! Unlike the Hakurei and Yakumo Borders, the Komeiji Border is more like a large, fluid sort of net. It's got a lot of big, huge wide spots most of the time, but the 'netting' concentrates around the occasional hole that forms in the Hakurei barrier, ready to catch whatever or whoever comes through from the Outside. It doesn't actually prevent or block anyone coming through; that would take a really long time and a whole lot of power to set up."
I rub my chin, intrigued. "It's got your last name in it, and your voice, so... I'm assuming that's how it's connected to you?"
"Well, sort of. Yakumo has been in talks with my sister and several of the other underground societies' leaders about relaxing the ban on travel and trade above and below. We were kiiiinda sorta sealed down here because we were deemed too powerful, or too terrifying, or too dangerous for the surface youkai." She looks a little embarrassed as she says this, and is very quick to reassure me, again: "—But time moves on, and we're not all that crazy anymore, really. Australia used to be a penal colony, and they seem to be doing all right in the eyes of the world, right?"
I shrug. I don't know what the beef people above had with people down here, but I'm not dead and torn to shreds yet, so that's gotta count for something.
"Anyway, Yakumo requested 'a great work that would significantly enhance life in Gensokyo' from us as a show of good faith to the people living aboveground. I don't know how much was her doing, and how much was pressure from the other elder youkai who wanted to keep us down here, but that's not exactly an easy task. ...Well, there's the whole nuclear fusion thing going on, but that's an independent project with Moriya with a limited scope, and besides, they had some really, really bad stuff happen to them recently, so they were in no shape to expand their thing. But yeah, besides—"
I finally get my mouth to work. "Wait, wait. Nuclear fusion? You guys actually cracked that?" Holy shit, maybe this crazy fantasyland actually pulled off something other than 'man-eating monster zoo.' I'm no science nerd, but I do know that getting fusion going in any easy, useful way is still impossible sci-fi outside. Koishi just kind of waves it aside, like it's no big deal.
"One of my sister's pets is a hell crow. We got her filled up with godly power, and she handles the whole mess. It's not an entirely efficient system because she has to stop and nap and eat, and actually have a life. Still, it's way better than what they've managed outside, but I think they're considering moving to a palla— you know what, forget it. We're moving off the way more important topic of me." She snickers, and I hope that it was because she was joking.
"We aren't exactly filled to the brim with amazing magicians and miracle workers, though we're not exactly to be underestimated. Still, we don't have the same kind of resources and people that the people above do, which limited our options pretty heavily. But my sister and I came up with with the Komeiji Border idea, which neatly filled the main requirement to the letter: There's no better way to enhance life in Gensokyo for someone than to take measures to ensure that they can KEEP their life. So we developed the border along with a lot of the more magically oriented people down here. Whenever it detects a hole opening in the Hakurei border, the Komeiji border thickens the 'mesh' nearby, and attaches a mental graft to any human passing through."
"...And that's Koko?"
"That's Koko~ My sister and I are satori, which is a race of what you might as well call mind-readers, because the real definition would go on for a lot longer, and there's some quibbling over semantics. Anyway, she reads, but I write. Long story, don't ask. Like Mizuhashi said, "messes with your mind." Spooky, no?"
She giggles, and I recall Parsee also said "crazy" and "dangerous." Creepiness factor just went up a good few notches, but I can't let it show.
"So Satori did the integration and layering work for 'Koko,' while I did personality sampling, speaking parts, and installation, since Yakumo said I sounded more animated. And besides, I've done a lot of traveling, so I'm good with languages."
At long, long last, she stops talking, apparently assuming my question has been answered. Myself, I'd have summed it up with 'We're mind readers who put a voice in your head that protects dumbasses like you who stumble in and help you stay alive because we needed some good press for political reasons.' ...But, like she said, I'd have had more questions. My brain thanks me, but my ears hate me.
Then there's a clinking sound.
I look up, to see Koishi leaning back in her chair. Her plate is still in front of her, but it's been picked clean. Also, there's no more map of Japan or Gensokyo or anything.
"Wait, what the hell just happened?"
The girl across from me grins. "You got your explanation while I had a late dinner. It's not like I can't multitask."
...Oh. I... guess I can't blame her. I'd probably do the same sort of thing if I had that power. It's not like it's an irresponsible use of her power, is it? Of course not! Incidentally, I really should compliment Miss Komeiji on being not only a delightful host, but a thoughtful, informative teacher as well~!
"Hey, uh... thanks for going to all that trouble to answer my question. That really helped, and the food's damn good, too," I tell her.
"Think nothing of it," she replies proudly. "It's my duty as your delightful host~"
...Wait, hold on just a damned minute. The instant my train of thought grinds to a halt, and I start to frown, Koishi grins even wider, returning to Creepytown (Population: her) with that smile. "Are you messing with my head?"
"Only to make sure I get proper thanks." She sounds just a tiny bit miffed.
"Drop it. Now." I, on the other hand, sound a lot of bit pissed.
"Right, right." She sighs, and waves a hand as the creepy smile turns into a halfway bored look. "You're worrying too much about it. It's not like nobody knows you're here. The bridge princess and probably half the Ancient City knows you're here..." Her voice slowly trails off, and she begins staring at me hard. A finger slowly begins to tap her chin.
"Doesn't change a damn thing," I say, not wanting to let her get away with a half-assed rationalization. "Don't do it."
"Right, right," she says back, but it's like talking with someone who's watching TV. "Sorry."
Is every woman in this place some kind of lunatic or asshole? I need to get the hell out, ASAP. Magical wonderland is all spiffy and crap, but it's going to drive me nuts if I stay here much longer. Or kill me.
"Hey. Koshi. Er, damn, Koishi." She doesn't seem to respond right away, so I snap my fingers in front of her face—
and in the instant between surprise and re-focusing, I see some kind of weird, dark, purse strap or wire or something floating by her and around her, but it goes by so quick I think I imagined it
—And she looks at me. "Yoo-hoo. Awake now?"
"Of course," she says. "Did you have another question?"
"Sure do. When can I get my ass back to the Outside?"
Her eyes widen slightly. "Oh, that? We just need to take you to see Hakurei, and she'll probably fix you up with Yakumo. I'd take you now if you wanted, but it's the middle of the night. I won't throw a tantrum if you're ready to head out right away, though."
1) Updating at ...well, shit, I can't even say "glasnost-like speeds", since he just updated, but either way, taking such an ass-long time to update feels really, really awful. Granted, some of the delay can be chalked up to goings-on in my life, but I wonder if I just don't do too well with write-ins. I sure as hell hope that's not the case bad, man.
3) Completely unrelated: Anyone know what the chemical in the first picture is?
4) My deepest condolences to Fallout Anon, and my sincerest wishes that he'll be able to come back from this and stay upright.
>>130458 How weirdly appropriate.
Is it me, or is Will Smith always the guy they choose when they need to put a black guy as a main character in a remake of something where there was no black guy before?
Koko is malfunctioning. Would that count as a failure on the Komeiji's part to uphold their end of the deal? Without Koko working completely as intended, they cannot work out a deal for topside trade and commerce.
>>131951 Except it did work; he's not dead and it's probably because of Koko, It's not perfect yet, but I get the impression there haven't been a lot of test cases so far. Besides, maintenance, upgrades and patches were probably part of the plan to begin with. The Hakurei border isn't foolproof either.
>they had some really, really bad stuff happen to them recently
Does that mean Koishi knows the truth about what happened, or just thinks the cover story is bad enough?
[-] Day planner
We've been run ragged for a while now, and it was eleven at night when the story began. We need sleep, and one night at the Palace won't be that bad.
I'd like to avoid Satori. I have no real reason for this; I just think her reaction when she gets home and finds out some guy showed up and fled into the night with her sister would be amusing, even if we don't get to see it.
>>131960 Most likely the cover story as if she was really aware of what went down, she might have said "they got what was coming to them". It'll be interesting hearing bits of this Gensokyo. Wonder if we'd stop by any chair shops.
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[✺] Day Planner
"I'd love to go now, but I'm beat," I tell her. I can't figure out how long it's been, and I don't know where Gensokyo fits on the time zones. They go along with Japan, or are they ahead or behind, or what? I'll save that mystery for when I can care, and that isn't now. "You guys have some guest rooms here, or at least a couch I can crash on?"
Koishi looks like she'd been expecting this, and nods. "Of course we do. It's not as though we hardly ever get any visitors, or people actually wanting to visit, and as a result, have begun using most of the guest rooms as storage. That would be terrible hospitality, and I'd have to distract you or something while I silently dispatched my pets to quickly go clean up a room. Incidentally, would you like a tour of the Palace?" She says it all with a perfect hostess' smile.
"Uh... seriously? Damn, if it's really that much trouble, I'll be fine with a couch or whatever."
She tilts her head. "If what's trouble?"
"...The guest room ...thing?" I say, gesturing.
"I'm afraid you've lost me." Now she shifts to 'cutely perplexed.'
"I'm talk... The thing you just mentioned?" Damn, this is awkward. I can feel myself start to blush. "With the needing to clean up?"
"Oh, that? Why would we need to clean up?"
"You just said you needed to."
She lifts an eyebrow, and flicks back a bit of that wavy, pale green hair. "Now you're just being silly. I said it wasn't as though that were the case. We're better prepared than that. Let's go find you a room, shall we?"
The words she's saying aloud are whispers next to what she ain't: I don't need to use my powers to screw with you.
...Or maybe it's just a little joke, and I'm taking it too personally. It's probably a bit of both. Maybe. Fuck, I don't know. Moreover, I don't care. I need sleep.
The weird girl next to me pushes back her chair and stands up as a couple of the glowing, floating dead fairy-angel-whatevers take away our plates. I do the same, and we leave the dining hall, turn down a passage, and make for a set of black, wrought-iron stairs.
After going up about three more floors through a dimly-lit stairwell, Koishi leads me down a hall with doors about every twenty feet or so. It's maybe a bit colder, but not by much. She stops in front of the first door, looks at it, and frowns. "...Well, this is embarrassing," she says.
"I don't have my keys on me. I must have left them in my room after I got back. I'll be back in just a bit~!" She skips off down the hall back towards the stairs, and then just kind of... disappears, the moment she leaves my sight. I see her go back down the hall, and go around the corner, but then the footsteps stop, and I don't see anyone heading down the stairs.
"Must be nice to have that stealth BS," I mutter. I won't lie; I'd definitely use it irresponsibly, and that's putting it lightly.
After a minute or two of waiting, I get curious (or maybe bored), and go the way she went. Poking my head out of this hall into the large landing, I look around, but don't catch a glimpse of her. Walking over to the stairs, I take a peek down and up, but no dice there, either. Shrugging, I head back, glad that she wasn't just hiding around the corner. I guess she still could be while doing that disappearing trick, alth...
rattle click clink
...For some reason, someone who I could fucking swear is the Wendy's girl is standing in front of my door, screwing around with the knob.
I briefly wonder if Dave Thomas is alive and kicking in Gensokyo, somewhere.
[ ] Scream and shout
[ ] Sneak and skulk
[ ] Sit and survey
Laziness contributed more to this delay than Christmas, and that is terrible. In what is definitely not related news in any way at all, if you haven't yet played Embric of Wulfhammer's Castle, you are missing out.
>>131931 Thank you. I'm a little proud of it, myself. It's not really formatting, though; just more Unicode fun.
>This sounds relevant to my interests.
Shit, hopefully, will be so cash. May even start working on it before this ends, but who knows? It'll be in /others/, though.
>>131958 >Just pointing this out.
...Thought I removed that second one. Damn.
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[≮] Sit and survey
This is more than a little weird, but there haven't been too many things in the last however-the-hell-many hours that weren't, really. The Wendy's girl screwing with my door ranks pretty low on the list, honestly.
She grumbles quietly to herself, and fishes in her pocket for something. I guess she's trying to open up the door, but didn't Koishi say she was going to do that? Maybe she just sent her instead. Or maybe this is another girl out for my life. I wonder: If I find Dave Thomas and apologize for whatever I did, would he call off the hit squad?
...Although, now that I'm over the initial surprise, I begin to think that she's not really Wendy. The dark green dress is the biggest tip-off, there. The big damn cat ears are another. The tails— tails with an S; she's got two of 'em —whipping back and forth pretty much wrap it up.
That's all cool, but I still don't know who the hell she is or why she's here.
"Ha!" the girl-cat-whatever thing exclaims happily. She puts away something that jingles— probably keys —and opens up the door to my room. She takes a step in, and then freezes. Her head jerks up, and she begins making sniffing sounds. After a moment, she looks back, a confused expression on her face. "That's kinda weeeird..."
Tell me about it.
I didn't think I laughed aloud or anything, but she suddenly looks in my direction, and takes a step back, surprised. "Whoa! Heyyyy, hi, yeah," she says to me, recovering quickly. "You must be the... guest..." She trails off, and starts sniffing the air again. "...Is that you? There's nobody else here, is there?"
She starts walking over to me. I don't think she's going to hurt me, but I've got no guarantees on that, so I take a few steps back. Doesn't do me any good, though; she's standing right next to me in a matter of seconds. Sniffing me.
"It is coming from you," she says, like she's accusing me of tracking in mud. "You smell reeeeally, really weird, man. You didn't fall off my cart, did you? Sometimes I get a live one, and then there's the paperwork, and it's seriously such a pain in the ass. It really is. Anyway, you smell crazy."
"Crazy?" She's got normal ears, too, I notice. So are the cat ears fake..."
"Weird. Stuff doesn't match up."
"Ooh, like what~?"
"The smell of death and the smell of ...newness. They're both fresh, but the death is fading. But... how's it fresh, then...?"
"And then there's that skin! If you're dead and still alive, then maybe you fell off my wagon, but you look super-crispy, like you did go in the furnace! Except you wouldn't be alive, and... gahhh! You see what I mean, man? Crazy!"
Her ears flatten as she clutches her head, trying to make sense of what she's been telling me. I guess they're real, after all.
"Yes, he's definitely a strange and unusual find."
...And at some point, Koishi came back, I guess. One of the angel fairies is hovering beside her, not saying a word, but watching us with the most flat, bored-looking expression ever.
"You send her up here to open up the room?" I ask my host, pointing at the redhead, who's mumbling under her breath.
Koishi gives me a nod, and ushers me into the room. "Yep~ I sent her up while I went to fetch one of the zombie fairies to watch over you tonight." She points back over her shoulder at the little dull-blue fairy. It gives me a brief wave.
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"Watch over me? I don't need a night-light, but thanks."
She rolls her eyes. "Necrosis will be outside your door in case you need anything, or something happens. You're not being confined here; just think of her as your personal assistant."
"...Oh." Doesn't sound too bad, put like that. If that's all there is to it.
She shows me around the room, which isn't very hard. There's a bed, a nightstand, a table, a chair, and a lamp, plus a suspiciously modern-looking bathroom. The lighting is electric, too. When I ask about that, she tells me "The bird's the word," and then snickers. Whatever, as long as it works, and doesn't kill me.
...I really wish the whole design motif wasn't 70s-era earth tones. It looks comfortable, but hideous. I don't badmouth it, though. That bed's looking more and more beautiful by the second.
"Any questions? Sorry we don't have any Gideons handy~"
"That's just for hotels," I tell her. "And no, not really."
"All right then! Have a nice night~" She gives me a little wave as she heads for the door.
"Thanks, you too," I say, then look back. "...No seriously, I mean that. Thank you for everything."
Koishi winks. "Any visitor to the Palace would receive no less, but you're too kind~ Be ready in the morning!"
And with that, she shuts the door. I drop my pack by the table, then start to strip, too tired to bother with a shower. All the while, I can hear her talking to the cat-eared girl in green as they walk back down the hall.
"Who is that guy, anyway?"
"A visitor. The bridge princess brought him in."
"What is he, some kind of youkai? Or a human? But humans don't look like that..."
Koishi sighs, and begins to speak. "Now Orin, that's—" ...And then her voice catches for a second, and I know, somehow, I just fucking know, she's smiling like a maniac again. "—a very good question."
"...You mean you don't know?"
"Who can say~"
"Maaan. I'll ask around, then. Somebody has to know. He's all kinds of..."
Can't make out the rest, but I can't bring myself to give a damn at this point. I'm down to my boxers, and that bed is the best-looking bed I've ever seen, orange-brown flower print and all. I pull the covers up over me, and rest my head on the pillow. Reaching out to the lamp, fumbling around, I find the switch and turn it off.
Gentle blue light comes from under the door.
...Right, one last thing.
Getting back out, I pad over to the door, and open it a bit. The fairy turns to look at me. "Hey, um..."
ɴєсʀоsɪs, sɪʀ. Her voice isn't as robotic and empty as you'd think it would be, looking at her. It's almost soothingly level, and without doing as much of the spooky-chill thing to me as the receptionist's voice did.
"Right, uh. You're a zombie fairy?"
Necrosis does a little mid-air bow. ɪ ѧм ɪɴɒєєɒ, sɪʀ.
"This might sound weird, but you don't eat brains, do you? Or any other part of people?"
Her head tilts slightly, and there's a long pause before she replies, sounding a little confused. ...ɴо, sɪʀ. ɪ sυвsɪsт оɴ ѧмвɪєɴт мѧɴѧ ρʀєsєɴт ɪɴ тнє єɴѵɪʀоɴмєɴт.
"Right. Cool." Maybe it was stupid to worry, and maybe not. I'm not taking chances, given this place.
wɪʟʟ ʏоυ вє ɴєєɒɪɴɢ ѧɴʏтнɪɴɢ єʟsє, sɪʀ﹖ she asks.
"My clothes washed?" It's mostly a joke, since I don't really thi—
I shut the door, crawl back in bed, and fall asleep almost instantly.
I finish off the second to last inscription on the circle, and begin on the third and final row. In any other circumstances, I would hate being an ocean away from the closest point to home, but for this, I can bear it happily. Anger keeps me sharp as a knife, and purpose guides my hand.
I don't spare a glance for that which lies within the circle, keep my eyes instead locked upon my work. Besides, I've seen it enough times by now; it's nothing special.
I have no idea what this choice means, but the other two imply rewards. This one doesn't. It must be Special.
Unrelated, but I just finished The Game today and where the hell is the final Byakuren dream scene? I don't think it's too unreasonable to expect a conversation with the person that watched over the protagonist the entire time. Especially after shitting all over her request for mercy.
>"Watch over me? I don't need a night-light, but thanks."
>She rolls her eyes. "Necrosis will be outside your door in case you need anything, or something happens. You're not being confined here; just think of her as your personal assistant."
Blue canary in the outlet by the light switch / Who watches over you ♬
File 129445827627.jpg - (12.26KB,
375x500 , shop a fairy in and we`re good.jpg) [iqdb]
 Early bird
The first thing I feel on waking up is anger; that slow, ugly kind you get by harboring a grudge for a really long time. It fades after a few moments, which is weird, but not as weird as why I'd be that pissed off about... what?
Maybe something pissed me off in my dreams? I've got a few good things to get pissed about already, but nothing that bad.
I shake it off, and get myself out of bed. Today's a big day, and I can't be facing it naked.
I glance down. Hi, hello, how are you. Yep, naked. I'm pretty sure I went to sleep with my boxers still on, though, and now I'm kinda worried.
Did I ...sleep-undress, or something? Throwing back the sheets, I have a look around underneath, but no luck. Not anywhere around my bed. A quick once-over of the bathroom gets no joy, either.
This is damned unsettling. The only explanation I can think of is that somebody who was super-super-careful about it stripped me in my sleep. Maybe I should find that sexy, but it just seems freaky right now. Once I find out, I'll probably look back on this and laugh. In the mean time, I need me some drawers, and soon.
I think about making some kind of toga or whatever out of the towels in the bathroom when I remember the fairy's words from last night. Maybe she's still on duty.
I go over to the door and crack it open just enough to peek out. It looks a little brighter in the hall than last night. I guess they gotta make their own daylight somehow; I seem to recall something like a mini-sun over the city when I spazzed out at the size of the cavern. Fucking weird fantasy zoo, how does it work? ...Oh hey, the fairy's still here. Looks like I startled her a bit, too
ɢооɒ моʀɴɪɴɢ, sɪʀ, she says in her calm voice, giving me another little bow. I guess she recovers fast. ɪ ɒɪɒ ɴот єхρєст тнѧт ʏоυ wоυʟɒ нѧѵє ѧwѧκєɴєɒ тнɪs єѧʀʟʏ.
"Yo. Got a minute?"
ɪ нѧѵє ѧɴɒ нѧѵє нѧɒ sєѵєʀѧʟ, sɪʀ. мѧʏ ɪ нєʟρ ʏоυ﹖
"Yeah, uh... did anyone come in here last night, after I went to sleep?"
It's a bit embarrassing telling this to someone shorter than most six-year olds, but fuck it. I'm naked, and I've got things to do that I can't really be naked for. "...As stupid as it sounds, I, uh... I think someone stole my boxers off of me."
She blinks, and tilts her head slightly. Makes me think of a dog, sort of. A dog that talks fancy, and floats. ...All right, that analogy blew, but it's still kinda there. ...ɪ ѧρоʟоɢɪzє, вυт ɪ ѧм υɴғѧмɪʟɪѧʀ wɪтн тнє тєʀм.
"They're, um... they're underpants, you know? Shorts." If she blushes at the word, she doesn't show it. Instead, she nods a little.
он... wєʀє тнєʏ ρєʀнѧρs тнɪs sнѧρє﹖ She lifts one tiny finger and sketches a shape in the air, leaving a glowing blue line in its wake. Sure enough, she draws out a little white doodle of my boxer shorts.
"Whoa. Neat trick. Ah, sorry," I say, seeing her expectant look. "Yeah, that's them. Where'd you see 'em?"
тноsє wєʀє оɴ тнє ρɪʟє ɪ нѧɴɒєɒ то ρυтʀєsсєɴсє wнєɴ sнє sтоρρєɒ вʏ, she tells me, and then appears to brighten up for a moment. Literally, she glows a little brighter for a second. ѧн, sρєѧκɪɴɢ оғ wнɪсн... Turning to the side, she takes the sack from before off a hook on the wall, and hands it to me. нєʀє ɪs ʏоυʀ сʟотнɪɴɢ, sɪʀ, сʟєѧɴ ѧɴɒ ʟѧυɴɒєʀєɒ ѧs ʏоυ ʀєƍυєsтєɒ.
I thank her, and take the bag. Loosening the strings, I open it up and have a look. Sure enough, my boxers are in there. Folded, too. "That's really damn weird. They're in here, all right. You sure you got no idea what's up with that?"
She frowns and bows, shaking her head. ɪ ѧρоʟоɢɪzє ɒєєρʟʏ sɪʀ, вυт ɪ ɒо ɴот κɴоw. ɪ sнѧʟʟ вʀɪɴɢ тнє мѧттєʀ υρ wɪтн мʏ sυρєʀɪоʀs ѧs sооɴ ѧs ρоssɪвʟє, ноwєѵєʀ.
Don't know what good that'll do since I'm jetting in a bit, but I guess it's the thought that counts. "Thanks."
ѧʀє ʏоυ отнєʀwɪsє wєʟʟ ѧɴɒ ʀєsтєɒ, sɪʀ﹖
"Yeah, actually. Feeling good, too." And naked, but I don't need to mention that.
She almost-smiles, and floats down from where she'd been, off to the side of the door, and comes to float in front of me at about chest height. ѧʟʟоw мє то єsсоʀт ʏоυ то тнє ɒɪɴɪɴɢ нѧʟʟ ғоʀ вʀєѧκғѧsт, тнєɴ.
"Whoa, wait up a sec," I tell her, laughing a bit. "I gotta shower and get dressed, first."
он, ɪ sєє. She pulls back slightly, then nods to herself. sυсн wоυʟɒ ʟɪκєʟʏ вє ѧ ρʀυɒєɴт соυʀsє оғ ѧстɪоɴ. ѵєʀʏ wєʟʟ тнєɴ, sɪʀ. ɪ sнѧʟʟ wѧɪт υɴтɪʟ ʏоυ нѧѵє сʟєѧɴєɒ ʏоυʀsєʟғ.
Weird way of putting it, but she puts a lot of things weird. I thank her again and shut the door, then bring the bag into the bathroom where I use the kinda old-fashioned shower to wash myself down. The spray's a little weak, but the water's nice and hot. After getting out and toweling off, I get dressed.
Ready to face the day, I gather up all my crap, and head downstairs with the fairy.
In the dining room, I meet a woman with tubes in her head.
At least, one of them goes into her head. It winds around, connects to a big yellow eyeball-in-a-ball, and comes out the other side, loops around and disappears somewhere under her clothes. I'm definitely a little bit creeped out, but the very first thought that ran through my head was 'All right, now that's a little more like it.' Supposedly this is some kind of wildlife preserve for Japan's weird boogeymen, but most everyone seems to look young and female. The only seriously weird shit I've seen on them so far have been pointy ears and horns. ...Well, and the fairies.
Seriously, it's kinda ...light. Isn't Japan supposed to have some kind of crazy, whacked-out sense of what's freaky and spooky? When's the sopping-wet girl from the Ring going to show up? At this rate, I figure she probably sweats a lot and works at a shoe store somewhere. It's a bit of a letdown, but better that than biting the dust seven days later.
And she has pink hair. I only noticed this after a minute or two. Mostly she's just been sort of quietly staring at me while I ate what Necrosis brought out from the kitchen (Toast, eggs, and jam, but all on the same piece of toast. I think I can blame Koishi for this, but it wasn't that bad, actually), her own plate already empty, but with a few crumbs and chopsticks laid across it.
"Has my sister been a nuisance?"
I stop eating for a bit, and put down the half-eaten meal. "Uh, no, not really. Kind of. ...Damn, that's not really helping, is it?" I start to explain what I mean, but she waves a hand.
"No, I understand. Maybe." She looks like a very content stoner. Not blissed out and grinning like a moron, but just quietly happy, and about two minutes from falling asleep. Her separated eye-in-a-ball blinks, and she asks another question. "She has been a gracious host however, yes?" Again, I start to answer, but she just cuts me off. "Good."
...Okay, she was right about my answer, but that doesn't mean... oh. Wait. Mind-reading. Which means she's hearing me think what I'm thinking right now.
"I guess I am," she says, sounding like she doesn't care, which... doesn't make much sense, in the situation. Or apply. "That's good, too." ...Both sisters like to screw with people, it seems. Wait, maybe she's making up answers because she's not actually psychic?
Shrugging, I start eating again. ...Hey. I'm going to throw this fork at you as hard as I can.
"I don't think I've done anything to warrant that. Oh no, you've uncovered my secret. Curse your dark hide, you fiendishly clever trickster."
I have to keep from choking on breakfast as I laugh. It wouldn't be as funny if she'd actually put any emotion into it. Oh wait, she's smiling just a bit more. Normal after all, huh?
"...You and everybody else wish. Anyway. Has your stay here been acceptable?" She starts to lean back in her chair, balancing it on two legs.
I nod. Well, except for my underwear being taken off of me while I slept, but th— Huh. She almost lost her balance, though the look on her face hasn't changed at all.
"Are you ser..." starts Satori (I assume it's her, since I haven't heard any other sisters get mentioned, and this one is matching ) no, of course you are. I'm going to need to have a talk with that girl, soon."
"You know who did that?"
"...Were they returned? ...oh, they were. And washed, no less. That's... Well, whatever. Aside from that, was your stay here good?"
I have to stop and think about that. My first reaction is to say that this whole experience has kind of sucked, as amazing, shiny, and impossible as it is. But if she meant the bit about being here at the Palace...
"Yeah, it's been cool."
The pink-haired technically-a-monster-I-guess smiles a little again, and nods her head gently. "Good. People like it when it's good. That's exactly what makes a good thing good. Is there anything about 'Koko' you would improve or add? Feedback is very, very crucial, and my sister and I would dearly appreciate anything you could add."
That last question gets fired out right on the tail of her other words, and catches me off-guard. I turn to look at her, and find she's staring right at me with all three eyes.
[ ] For some reason, I'm asking for write-ins again. You'd think I'd know better by now.
[ ] Just make some up and get back to writing.
I hope the Satori scene wasn't as rough for you to read as it was for me to write.
>>132520 consider holding their wedding. A very good point, nonetheless. I thought I mentioned as much in the after-thread, though. Did you read that? If not, I'd recommend doing so. A link to it should be at the end of the last thread of The Game. And if I didn't mention it, well, now you know.
As for having the specifics of it on-screen, I'll probably do that some day after Resentment is done, along with all other little details and specifics of this Gensokyo which were never covered.
[x] It got knocked out when I was and still hasn't come back. Koishi said the graft needed reinforcing. Other than that, no complaints.
[x] I'm not sure whether to feel safer or not with the real Koishi around.
I'm sure someone will make a better write-in later, but this works.
>>132864 I didn't see it mentioned in that thread. I assumed it had happened after seeing the wedding remark, like you said, but I'm glad that you'll get around to writing it eventually.
[x] It got knocked out when I was and still hasn't come back. Koishi said the graft needed reinforcing. Other than that, no complaints.
[x] I'm not sure whether to feel safer or not with the real Koishi around.
[x]It's not supposed to be, uh.. permanent, is it? I mean, not like your sister's voice in my head isn't really helpful down here, but having a voice in my head after I get back home might be a bit distracting.