No Witty Title Demetrious 2010/10/14 (Thu) 22:17 No. 125300 ▼
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[X] Forget that, let’s find somebody who can shed light on the whole “dead rising” bullshit post-haste.
“Actually, I think we should look into these ghosts, first,” Keine says. “I can’t have hostile spirits marauding around my village, and it’s the more immediate threat, anyway.”
“I don’t know about that,” you argue. “First, those ghosts were ambling around like they were drugged; and in my experience hostile spirits have a little more hustle if they’re trying to waste you in the first place. That makes me think something induced them to come after us, specifically. And it’s a little too convenient how the undead boogaloo started not twenty minutes after the scry.”
“Then if they are related,” Keine replies, “looking into the ghost attack should narrow down the possible culprits.”
You ponder that a moment. “Well, this is your home,” you admit. “I’ll defer to your judgment on this one. But how exactly are we going to ‘investigate’ this?”
“We should talk to Youmu!” Cirno interjects. “She’d know!”
“Who’s Youmu?” you ask.
“She’s a HMMPH!” Cirno exclaims as Keine’s hand clamps firmly over her mouth.
“Youmu is a young woman who’s experienced in these matters,” Keine says cheerfully, holding a squirming Cirno quite firmly. “As is her mistress. Especially her mistress. But they’re kind of hard to reach on short notice.”
“How hard?” you ask, raising an eyebrow. “There’s few places a Wizard can’t go.”
“In the netherworld,” Keine says. “The realm of spirits and ghosts.”
“Spirits and ghosts...” you say thoughtfully. “That’d be what I call the ethereal plane... accessing the ethereal plane is child’s play for me, really. I’ve even got a spell ready now that can do it.”
“Well in that case, we can...” Keine’s voice trails off as she notices Cirno mutely pointing upwards. Craning your heads back, all three of you look up to see a small wispy cloud moving through the sky.
“Gods aid us, a cloud,” you say flatly.
Cirno just sighs and whacks you with her hat. “No, dummy, look closer!”
“... fuck me,” you say. “A pack of ghosts?”
“That’s probably Youmu herself leading them,” Keine says. “Hold on, I’ll try to flag her down.” Without further ado, Keine takes to the air in pursuit of the spirit squadron. You stand, and are watching her climb to altitude when something hard and fast impacts your shin.
“Aauarrgh,” you comment, hopping away from Cirno. “What the hell was that for, dipshit!?”
“You were trying to look up teacher’s dress!” Cirno declares, cocking her foot back for another kick.
“Slander!” you protest, immediately wishing you’d thought of it yourself. “Besides, everybody in town has probably seen it anyway.”
“Teacher isn’t- you take that back!” Cirno objects, hands planted on her hips. “After she feeds you and helps you and-”
“You too,” you observe. “I mean, everybody in this place seems to wear dresses or skirts, and everybody flies everywhere, so...”
Cirno’s angry expression melts away as she considers it.
“You haven’t... flown over anybody recently, have you?” you inquire innocently.
Cirno’s face pales, and her hands automatically pull down on her skirt. “N-no! I always check! Always!”
“Oh dear,” Keine’s voice says from somewhere above you. “What did you say to her now?”
In light of your conversation about dresses and flying, you decide to keep your back turned till Keine lands. “Nothing important,” you say airly. You hear the soft impact of Keine’s feet touching earth, and turn. “Just...”
It’s the girl from your dream. The hair, the green dress, the twin swords at her waist- there’s no mistaking it. She’s standing next to Keine, carrying herself stiffly. She bows slightly to you.
“Hello,” she says. “I am Youmu Konpaku, gardener of Hakugyorou and keeper of the dead. Who might you be?”
You stare into the girls deep blue eyes, and a cold chill grips you as you remember watching the life fade from them, her fragile frame going limp as the last breath ghosted past her lips...
“... Uh, right, sorry,” you say, suddenly realizing you were staring. You give her your name. “Wizard of the seventeenth rank, dragonslayer, et cetera.”
Youmu frowns in confusion. “What is this... ‘et cetera’?” she asks, cocking her head to one side.
“Not important,” you say. “Anyway, Keine said we should seek your counsel. You see-”
“Keine?” Youmu asks, raising an eyebrow and glancing at Keine. “You’re on a first-name basis with Ms. Kamishirasawa?”
“We’re friends,” Keine says firmly.
“But if he’s the dragonslayer,” Youmu says, confused, “then he’s only been here two days.”
Keine bites her lip and grimaces at Youmu. “We were hoping we could seek your counsel,” she says, changing the topic.
“Well I’d love to help,” Youmu says reluctantly, “but I was escorting some ghosts back to the netherworld...”
“Listen, sweetheart,” you interject, the drug-out formalities grating on your nerves, “we just had a pack of spooks try to escort us to the goddamn netherworld, without our bodies, so if you want to do any ghostbusting, you might want to start with them.”
You and Keine briefly sketch out the events of that morning, including the scrying attempt and the odd behavior of the ghosts.
“This is bad,” Youmu says, nervously squeezing the grip of her sword. “I’ve never heard of spirits acting like that, or attacking people in such numbers. We should investigate immediately.”
Keine cuts her eyes towards you and smiles slightly, and you shrug subtly. Okay, okay, you had a point. “Well,” you ask, “where did you plan to start?”
“Well, we could go back to Ms. Kamishirasawa’s house right now, take a look from a distance,” Youmu offers. “Or you could come with me to Hakugyorou and talk to my mistress.”
“Your mistress?” you ask.
“Yes. Ms. Yuyuko Saigyouji. She’s a ghost herself, so-”
“Ghost?” You take a step back. “Your mistress is a spook?”
“Show some respect!” Youmu shouts, thrusting a finger at you. “Ms. Saigyouji is the princess of the netherworld!”
“Princess?” you repeat skeptically. “How can you be ‘Princess’ of the ether?”
“She was made the steward of the netherworld by a death god,” Youmu replies hotly, “and she’s incredibly powerful. She could kill you just by thinking it!” She snaps her fingers to illustrate the brevity.
“Yes, all-powerful,,” you say, rolling your eyes. “That’d explain why packs of crazy homicidal ghosts are wandering freely through Gensokyo.”
“Ha-!” Youmu starts, and bites her lip as her cheeks flush a little. “That’s... that’s not her fault.”
“Because it’s summer, right? Those damn screen doors never latch right, do they?”
“No!” Youmu shouts, taking a step towards you, her fists balled at her sides. “It’s... it’s my job to bring them back to the netherworld. And I haven’t been fast enough.”
“Oh...” you say thoughtfully. “So you’re a ‘Gardner’... a gatherer of souls, then?”
“Uh, no,” Youmu replies, surprised. “I realy am Ms. Saigyouji’s gardener. I maintain the grounds at Hakugyorou.”
You turn to Keine, and address her in Draconic. “So. We’ve got one ghost demigod who can’t fence in her own yard and sends the household help to do the job, and one teenaged gardener who hunts ghosts with swords when she’s not working for one. Top notch. Just who I want backing us up against a horde of bewitched, hostile spirits.”
Keine approaches you and puts a hand on your shoulder. “Youmu is competent,” she says, “though a little prone to hero worship. We need her help.”
You sigh, relenting. “Right, I know I’m being a bit harsh, but-”
“You can’t help it? I’ve noticed,” Keine says, smiling. “Just trust me on this one.”
“What are you two talking about?” Youmu asks.
“Teacher is telling him to stop being a jerk,” Cirno summarizes, and Youmu smirks a bit.
“Thank you, peanut gallery,” you grumble.
“We’re not really going back to the house, are we?” Cirno asks. “The ghosts might still be there... and what about the spy? It’s getting closer to noon...” The fairy hugs herself tightly, apparently still not over the shock of the close encounter with the ghost in the kitchen.
She’s got a point, you think, but we’re ready and reinforced now, and we might still get a look at the spy if we don’t go running off through the ethereal plane. On the other hand, we could ask an actual ghost while the spooks and the spies have fun murdering each other.
[ ] Return to the house with Youmu so she can witness the spooks, or their handiwork, first-hand.
[ ] Go to Hakugyorou with Youmu and get Yuyuko’s input on the matter first.
[ ] Wait, what the hell is that blobby thing floating behind Youmu?
[ ] Write-in?