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Autumn light trickled down through the leaves, which were persisting late into the season. Still, the leaves that had fallen formed drifts in line with the wind and found their way into the interior of Kourindou at every opportunity.

One such opportunity brashly opened my door, spilling heavy metal-bound books from the tower that obscured her face, if not the crooked witch's hat she habitually wore. Marisa Kirisame, carefree hunter of other peoples treasures. I held back a wince at the thump of her dropping the stack on top of a chest several times my own age and thrust the broom I was just setting back at the girl. She was now adding the fallen books to the pile - oblivious to the creaking pleas of mercy from my venerable old chest.

"I'm not interested in buying." A lie, a quick glance had revealed their names, all were quite interesting tomes. However one in particular… was much more trouble than it was worth.

"Well, I'm not interested in sellin', I got these from that dusty library but I can't read them."

In Gensokyo, a small land with a small population, you would be forgiven for thinking that a library would be just a few shelves. But while it is only recently that the paper for making new books has become common, the long-lived youkai who came to this land all brought many treasures with them. These things have a habit of spreading around, due to the general carelessness of youkai.
In the human village, the Hieda family has and has made many collected histories of Gensokyo. The schoolhouse teacher also. But neither library would be dusty, so I conclude that she means that vampire's mansion, supposedly the library there is larger on the inside than out.
In such a case, I can understand it being constantly dusty. Clean things attract dust, so having a large space hidden in a small one would surely magnify the effect.

"In that case, I am definitely not interested in buying. I have sold many books to the familiar of that librarian, I doubt she would be pleased."

"And I said, I'm not interested in sellin' 'em. I just wantcha to tell me what they're for."

The purpose of books is to save time. Whether that is the time it would take to discover something for yourself or to save the time of a particular event. There are also books that save time by taking it away from the reader, such as stories and legends, in exchange for wisdom or simple pleasure. Thinking about it, in a sense you could look at things as being the time they take to create or use, and perhaps that maid might look at a building and see two months hard labour and in a library the weight of ages. Such a strange view of things makes me understand why she works for a vampire.

"Those in the red leather are the Collected Plays of William Shakespeare, written in a language called English. The two under those are about agricultural magic and in German, under those, volumes 1-10 of an encyclopaedia in English. That one in your hand is a diary in French. Now sweep up the leaves you let in."

Marisa probably just pulled them off the shelves at random, no doubt there was a bigger pile at her house. But at least she took the broom, setting her own aside - a witch's broom is not for sweeping after all. But a few of her wild swings had me take it back for fear of my inventory.

"Agricultural magic? That could be useful, might save time hunting supplies."


"Perhaps, but as those are obviously from the outside world, they are probably very difficult."

"I can't read 'em so they're as easy as these plays or whatever. What's this diary then?"

Something far too hot to handle, it would be silly of me to tell her the full truth.

"The Journal of Rosemary Wisdom." Marisa didn't speak any similar language, so a small and truly terrible joke was in order. I thought I heard a quiet groan from behind me, but nothing revealed itself to my glance.

"Ah, that's not an interesting name at all. Maybe I can trick that library devil for a trade-in."

"Well, I'll take that encyclopaedia from you in exchange for the last ten books you haven't returned yet."

"The next ten? Okay, that's only fair Kourin. See ya!"

Without letting me reply she hurried off, leaving the ten volumes behind. Well despite that, getting a return of fifty percent was more than I would expect so I was reasonably happy. From what I've heard of the librarian from Marisa and Reimu, she isn't particularly emotional. I suppose that might be a bad sign though, I doubt Marisa will succeed in her trick. It was actually rather out of character for her to give up anything so easily, so I wonder if she simply didn't appreciate that "encyclopaedia" was the Outside World term for a grimoire.

No point in worry, her swift departure had let even more of the red-gold autumn leaves inside that needed sweeping. I could read a dozen languages, and those books, being a dense collection of as much knowledge as could fit in, would undoubtedly prove fascinating. Of course, it likely had silly things like fossils inside. I wonder if I should note down corrections as I go, it might be useful for the history I'm writing. The light was fading quickly, but the leaves caught it well and I was reminded of sparks being born from a crackling fire as I swept them outside. An interesting omen.


The seasons turn as they will, and in their spirit this day dawned with no great hurry. The sunlight that woke me felt gelid and sluggish, but no matter. I rolled over and slept on.

This time, what woke me was the vile taste of tin in my mouth. It was a shock such that I nearly upset the bowl of water by my bed in my haste to wash it away. The water tasted dead, as though it had been waiting for years by my bedside.

Two very ominous omens.
Three, as I recalled the curious quality of the sunlight.

I rose and went to my window, unlatching and opening it in a weak attempt to see what was occurring now. The trees stood thick and dark and the leaves were red and green under the intense blue sky. Autumn may be well underway, but the Forest has too much presence to pay the passage of seasons more than a polite accord.

But the forest was quiet.

I rinsed my face with the last of the water and dressed, I have no business resolving incidents, but business usually perked up for some reason or other in the period it took for things to settle down. If that girl stayed in her own shop for once she might actually sell something.

My store had shifted. There was no damage, perhaps not even movement of items. But the air had the feeling of a… tomb or an archive. A place for ancient things. Before it had been a place of forgotten things, things discarded and outdated. While the latest work of a craftsman becomes outdated upon the creation of an improved design, it doesn't become ancient. Nor does it happen overnight, let alone perceptibly.

This incident - it couldn't be anything else - had a decidedly unusual aspect. Today wasn't the day I usually went around the border seeking merchandise, but I was curious if this strange aging was reflected in the latest seepage.
Omens were common things, vague but comfortable in that vagueness. But five in the space of my awakening? It must be something that concerns me, so I shouldn't act out of character. Today did seem like an interesting day for acquisitions.

Before setting out I took a draught of wine from the "Canteen" on my desk and gathered a small amount of food into the bag on my chest. I didn't need to eat but once a week, so I leant towards interesting flavours in small amounts. I already had everything else I needed, so I simply closed up shop and set off through the outskirts of the silent Forest of Magic.

Stranger than the silence was the lack of eyes on my back, following me from the shadows. The forest always thrummed with life, that today seemed not muted, but… expectant.
But there should have been something watching me. My senses were sharp yet I didn't catch any activity save for the erratic winds weaving through the trees.

It's better to walk when seeking lost items, than to fly. If you expect to find something, you must travel the world it exists in. Clouds with rocks inside, treetops and flying ships are all easy to find in the sky, but it would be decidedly unusual for the belongings of earth-bound humans to wind up in any of those places. Even on a decidedly unusual day, principles such as this do not change.

I reached the edge of the cleared land surrounding the village, I only lived a short walk into the forest but the trees were still very dense. When I had originally set up my shop, it was on the edge of one of the cleared farms. In exchange for the land I had made a set of charms that would encourage plant growth when burnt and scattered over a field. As things go the old man had died after a short while and the already fast growing forest had reclaimed the untended land in less than a year, it wasn't particularly helpful for my secondary business in enchantments either, but I didn't much care for that anyways.
I could have altered the spell to kill off unwanted plants… but a certain youkai I didn't particularly care to antagonise, by the very fact of her existence stayed my hand.

Revealed, the blue sky was really quite brilliant. Practically radiant, incandescent like the arc of a thunderbolt. Thoroughly unnatural in every respect, even if I hadn't noticed in a moment that the sun was missing from it's usual pathway across the heavens. The colours of the land were washed out, the yellow sunlight replaced with blue skylight.
Invigorating somehow.

There was no activity in the fields that I could see, but the village gates were open and among the thin lines of smoke from the houses the much broader plume that came from the town square's cooking pit gave the probable reason. Keine would certainly have a better idea of what was happening, so I picked up my pace till I was gliding just over the ground at a little more than a horse's canter. I was feeling overly energetic, the skylight energizing me in a not-unnatural way.

Nearer the gates the obvious signs of passage - fresh wagon ruts before the cobblestones began, food remains and a single confused-seeming chicken absently investigating them. No matter, my feet didn't quite touch the mud as I neared the town. But I did catch a scent, a rather worrying one of boiled leather, oil, sweat and nervous fear. Armed and armoured men, just out of sight.

Almost all youkai, being closer to beast than man, had vastly superior senses - if these men were hunting youkai then they would most assuredly have worked a spell to mask their scent. As they hadn't they became something of a deterrent that regular villagers wouldn't notice. But it was highly irregular, something must have happened.

I breezed past the gates with no particular difficulty, slowing to a normal pace as I did.

The humans of Gensokyo are hardy. I'd be given to believe that this was a defining trait of humanity in general, save that the outsiders who occasionally pass through - accounting for their situation - generally consist of intelligent, eccentric indoor types with poor interpersonal skills.
I followed a very wide avenue that took a precisely patterned and branching path throughout the village. I was given to understand that Keine had used her powers somehow to organise the tangled mass of buildings into the present arcane configuration. The most relevant effect of which was the artful arrangement of streets and the finely joined paving stones that lined them, making a casual walk through the village a rather enjoyable affair.

While there was less traffic than usual, few wore worried expressions - rather there was fatigue on most every face I passed. It stood out all the more for how well-rested I felt, but it didn't stop them from going about their lives. A decidedly valuable attitude, even if their grounded nature kept them from the skies.

But where would I go? An entire village around me, many who might indulge my curiosity. Or onwards, past the far gate and to seek merchandise?

##Multiple choices are possible - to a degree. Meetings are obvious when obvious, but psuedo-random otherwise.##

[] - To visit Keine, who I would reckon to be at the Village Hall, probably explaining the situation.
[] - As I recall from a most interesting memoir, Holistic Divination always provides an answer, if not the one you thought you were looking for.
[] - Curiosity is curiosity, but business is business. What new things could have crossed the border to evoke such an aura of age on my stock?
----[] Muenzuka: Well, it is in the other direction, but rich with potential.
----[]The Lake: A remarkable number of outsiders depart Gensokyo from here, abandoning their worldly possessions.
[] - Write In
[x] - To visit Keine, who I would reckon to be at the Village Hall, probably explaining the situation.
[x] - Curiosity is curiosity, but business is business. What new things could have crossed the border to evoke such an aura of age on my stock?

Not bad at all.
[x] Curiosity is curiosity, but business is business. What new things could have crossed the border to evoke such an aura of age on my stock?
-[x] The Lake: A remarkable number of outsiders depart Gensokyo from here, abandoning their worldly possessions.

You've got a few sentence fragments here and there; it makes what you're talking about unclear.

My excuse is trying to ape the style of CoLA.
I'll keep an eye on it though, vague is vague but unclear is unclear.
[x] - To visit Keine, who I would reckon to be at the Village Hall, probably explaining the situation.
[x] - Curiosity is curiosity, but business is business. What new things could have crossed the border to evoke such an aura of age on my stock?

We came here for Keine.
Honestly, I was more bothered by the run-on sentences and the switching between past and present tense. The sentence fragments are sentence fragments; everyone uses them at some point or another. There was also a bit of vagueness in his descriptions of the environment, but that's an acceptable stylistic choice.

You've got potential, kid. Don't stop trying and you'll have a damn fine story on your hands.
[x] - To visit Keine, who I would reckon to be at the Village Hall, probably explaining the situation.
[] - Curiosity is curiosity, but business is business. What new things could have crossed the border to evoke such an aura of age on my stock?
----[]The Lake: A remarkable number of outsiders depart Gensokyo from here, abandoning their worldly possessions.
[x] - To visit Keine, who I would reckon to be at the Village Hall, probably explaining the situation.
[x] - Curiosity is curiosity, but business is business. What new things could have crossed the border to evoke such an aura of age on my stock?
[X] - To visit Keine, who I would reckon to be at the Village Hall, probably explaining the situation.
[X] - Curiosity is curiosity, but business is business. What new things could have crossed the border to evoke such an aura of age on my stock?

Who the fuck is this trash?
Someone polite enough not to call you out for having an attitude comparable to a late stage syphilitic meningitis victim.
Please read >>6052
If you are still retarded enough to not get the point, let me drive it home eh?

>5) 'Namefagging' is preferably avoided if you're not a writer or otherwise contribute to the site in some kind of meaningful way. While this is slightly less important of a guideline than the others, using a name when you're not a writer will just call that much more attention to you and make you more of a target for harassment.

As in make a story with a name, or be an anon like everyone else. No one cares what your name is unless it has some relevance to the site.
Hahaha. When I'm good and ready to do so, I'll post something. As it is, what I do have is unfinished and bare bones at best (Familiar of Zero/Touhou idea that won't let go). I digress though. It's bad taste to clutter up other peoples threads with shitfests, especially over so trivial a matter.

That's not relevant to our interests. If you want to discuss it, go make another thread.
As much as I love ZnT, I'll have to agree with >>141404 on this. Though again, I was only being harsh so you'd get the idea. It's all in good nature.

Also, Just a heads up I've already been reading a ZnT/Touhou fic, and I will literally smack a bitch if yours is the exact same thing as the other one. Juuuust a heads up.
Having a (potential) story isn't justification for your pathetic namefagging. Even authors who are currently writing do not post with their names/trips outside of their own thread.

If you are truly sad enough that you wish for recognition on this site of all places, I highly recommend you go kill yourself, trash.

>It's all in good nature.

Don't let this guy give you the wrong impression. If you post with a name/trip for anything but writing purposes in your own thread, you are a worthless piece of shit.
Well, I'm trying to at least not be a complete and utter prick. The guys going to be writing here, We'll judge how shitty he is, if any, when he makes his cyoa.

Though again, It was kinda stupid of him to trip in something that isnt his own thread/not a well known writer here.
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While I think people posting with names when they haven't wrote a story yet is stupid and irritating, as long as they arn't shitposting, it's not a big deal. Cool your jets, everyone.
If someone votes/posts with a name and/or trip before writing a story, they're an attention seeking git. The only reason certain writefags get away with posting with trips is because they're well established writers and they don't go outing themselves to be massive faggots in the process of such posting.
This. The only reason anyone should ever post with a name on this site is if they have a story that they are currently writing. Even then, they should use their name sparingly, and only in their own thread.

To do anything else is mere attention whoring, from the likes of trash such as >>141416, and >>141397 which serves no purpose besides waving imaginary e-penises around. We don't need shitstains like that on this site.
[x] Keine.
[x] The Lake.

Part One

Even in Gensokyo's peaceful present era, idle travel outside of the villages wasn't a popular choice. Though that was usually because of just how irritating the fairy population was than a true fear of youkai. So at the centre of the village was a rather expansive park, with avenues along the compass lines, the market square at the centre and the few important public buildings finding their places within the grounds. This didn't seem very practical to me, but it was an improvement over the sprawl that had existed before.

The public part of the Village Hall was an open-air structure that lay against the central Market Square. It looked somewhat like a section of an ancient building called the Amphitheatrum Flavium, which wasn't really so strange, considering that I had sold the architect a rather beautiful picture-book of such things. In a reversal of purposes the steps here were for those who had something to say to stand and be seen clearly by the villagers below.

A firepit sat at the base with a trio of cows spitted over it, the smoke of the damp wood serving to repel the onlookers. It was a generally accepted fact that to gain the attention of the more eccentric and able residents of Gensokyo, either food or alcohol - preferably both - had to be supplied in great quantity. Village meetings rarely provided too much of the latter until important matters had been exhausted and there were tempers to sooth.

Already there was quite the crowd, shifting restlessly and well seeded with opportunistic vendors, waiting for the council members to begin talking. There were only a few youkai that I could see, each occupying a small patch of free ground and looking somewhat nervous. Usually there'd be more and flying besides, large gatherings of humans drew them like flies, an old-fashioned instinct.

A hot twinge of pain throbbed across my skull, feedback from my ability of recognition. Instantly knowing the Names of over a thousand people was part of the reason I had chosen the border of the Forest for my store. Thinking beings had a force behind them that demanded recognition, whereas the Names of items such as I sold usually waited for their attention. Tools are tools after all, they should not dictate their use nor make demands.

My sight fixed on the brilliant blue sky above and my headache dispersed almost instantly. The light wasn't constant, I realised, there was a subtle current and a ripple that seemed to follow my gaze.

I didn't know what it was called.

Some things are nameless because they predate Naming, truly ancient things that the gods were late to see. Other things I had not encountered, yet I was sure they could be. What Name a thing possessed wasn't complex, at least to my perception. It was whatever Name they themselves identified with. It could change and grow, acquire texture and distinction. Regardless, knowing the Name of a thing gave you knowledge of it and power also.

This light receded from my sight. I could not name it because it hid from my eyes, revealing the true sky beyond. Or did it?
Threads of disquiet. I frowned and returned my gaze to the crowd. At least that headache I understood.

Keine wasn't on the steps, though the entirety of the Council had made an appearance. Her position was only official in that most honest sense where, given her good intent, power and independence, it was best to integrate her into the power structure and gain some control over her. Not a very kind way to put it, but a true one nonetheless.
Undoubtedly there were those amongst the council who held some resentment, though the villagers generally had great respect for her work.

"Keine Kamishirasawa."

My writing fingers twitched, curling around phantom brush. She was… preparing a protective spell in the schoolhouse.

I'd have to apologise to her for the intrusion, but I knew where I should be going. How unnecessary, where else would she have been?
Not much point in remaining, with the cessation of the smoke from the firepit a councilman had finally stood up to speak but Keine would know far more about the situation. The quicker I understood what was happening the quicker I could get back to finding new stock.

I glanced at the Dragon Statue behind me as I left the square. A silhouette against the shining blue sky, eyes blazing red. I don't think it really counts as an omen when the meaning requires no interpretation. Predicting the weather was a useful function, you knew to take in the washing or to put it out. What point was there in knowing an incident was coming when they had such diverse forms?

The schoolhouse was rather small for the size of the village, but most families and clans took care of the basics on their own. Mostly she taught history and a few branches of magic, but she had a rather dry approach that drove off the less committed, despite the attraction that learning magic had to the young. It was probably this more than anything that kept the reckless exploration of magic to a minimum in the village.

I took a direct route through a copse of trees, so it wasn't till I was close that I saw the damage. Two moderate size craters that ruined the grass around the schoolhouse, with twisted blue scraps littered about. I bent down to pick up a fragment near my foot, a foot-long and narrow splinter of blue-lacquered ash with gold designs that ended in a stylised arrow of flint. Its name and a few identifying details of its construction passed through my mind. An interesting kind of spell-grounding rod.

Very nice construction, but not something Keine would have felt the need to make herself. Most of the fragments that I could see had a similar shape, which meant that they had gradually overloaded rather than been actively destroyed. The gold patterns likely drew in power, while the flint arrows cast it into the ground.

As I approached, I gathered what pieces I passed. Judging by the number and uniform size of the layered outer arrows, the two rods must have been nearly as tall as the three-story schoolhouse. Clutching them in my hand, I had a fair number - twenty or so - and I could feel a current passing through them. Very nice construction, to still function to some degree.

Keine was in her writing room, hunched over an extremely unusual scroll. . Standing behind her and holding one end of the glowing glyphic scroll was none other than its owner, the two-toned Hijiri Byakuren, formerly of Makai. Neither paid my entrance any attention, but may have not noticed my quiet entry. The room was impeccably clean and well organised, racks of scrolls lining the walls. A wide skylight served in place of windows, the strange skylight softly diffusing throughout the chamber.

Around the two women, things were slightly less tidy. The wide octagonal desk that occupied the centre of the room was littered with ink brushes and blank scrolls of the type that Keine used for her personal histories. Given that her power was to consume and sometimes to create history, I often wondered just what happened to the histories that she herself wrote. I knew it wasn't the mechanism of her power, so if they didn't change with her manipulation, they must weave a fractured and strange picture of Gensokyo. My own history would overcome that confusion of course.

Seeing an opportunity as she withdrew the final fresh brush from the brass vase before her, I plucked an arrow from the bundle I held, focused for a moment and smoothly pitched it into the pot. It struck with a clear ringing tone, a pleasant way to break the silence.

Keine didn't quite jump, but the glare she shot at me after being pointed my way by a cheerfully smiling priestess was rather heated.

"Rinnosuke! Over a year and you call that an appropriate greeting? Not to mention that this spell is exceedingly delicate and volatile."

Ah, Keine. I should cut her off before she gets really worked up.
So I sent another arrow into the pot. Byakuren just kept smiling.

"Ah? Well, the power of Makai isn't easily biddable after all. What happened to simply using your ability to eat history?"

"It vanished overnight."

"Really? How curio-"

"Of course it didn't. That cursed light is flooding everything with power, there's too much soaked into the ground to simply hide away now, even if everywhere else is just as charged."

"Hence the overload of those rods." Another arrow into the pot. At my words Keine took a closer look, plucking the arrow I had thrown out and waving it at me with a fresh frown.

"Don't be so casual with other peoples belongings. Hikari worked very hard on those. It's always th-" A polite cough from the priestess held off the incipient lecture.

"I quite agree Keine, as to the importance of respect. However with my apologies, it is rather complicated to maintain my Scroll in a form that can be read by others. By the way, it's a pleasure to meet you Mr Morichika."

"Yes, of course Hijiri. I'll finish this transcription. That doesn't let you off the hook Rinnosuke." One last chilling glare and she turned back to the scroll, putting the arrow back into the pot and inking her brush. I chose not to reply, turning to Byakuren.

"It's a pleasure to meet you as well. I'm curious as to how you knew my surname?" That she didn't send any warning signals down my spine was a refreshing change from the norm.

"Why thank you. Keine mentioned it earlier, something about you spying on her." She said that with a perfectly innocent look on her face - I've been wrong about people before.

Keine grumbled something from her desk.

"It was simply the quickest way to find her. I'm feeling like it's a day for haste, rather than a leisurely search in the traditional manner." Not that I had any talent for that.

"Your intuition is accurate. How did you know of the nature of my scroll, may I ask?" Rather than expand her point, she moves onto her real purpose with little subtlety. The scroll was obviously important to her.

"I have the power to recognise things. As a shopkeeper it's an occasionally useful useless talent."

"My, my. That is a rather potent ability."

"I don't use it that way. A peaceful life is fine by me."

"An admirable pursuit. If you would ever like to stop by my temple, please feel free. As a half-youkai, I believe you would set a fine example for my congregation." Perceptive. I would of course set an excellent example.

A snort from Keine. "Why did you come here Rinnosuke, shouldn't you be asleep at this hour?"

"Without the sun, I don't know what hour it is."

"Well before dawn, the sky may be blue but it's night all the same." Which explains the exhaustion I saw in the townspeople, if not my lack thereof.

"I came to ask about this incident. I was in the town and you’d know better than anyone."

"That's not like you. You haven't been involved with anything for a long time."

"I'm feeling unaccountably energetic today. If the sky is leaking magic, it could simply be a reaction to that."

"I'm finished with the scroll Hijiri. My thanks again for allowing me to use it for this."

"No need. You have quite the best eye for detail of any writer I have met, my own attempt would likely be less efficient." With a wave of her scroll-hand, the shimmering band of runes retracted with a flash of light and disappeared. Keine turned back to me.

"A good thing you're so idle by nature then. A few youkai have gotten some silly ideas into their heads, we've had a little trouble."

"That all? If it were serious I'd have seen some sign before now."

"So far that's all. A few fairies throwing around powerful danmaku and some random spells exploding from the stress. The grounding rods for example. But I expect those weird Magicians are up to no good and that free power is just building up with nowhere to go."

"Well, I'm sure they'll sort things out amongst themselves."

"After they randomly assault a dozen innocent residents no doubt."

Still smarting over that long night, eh Keine?

"Ah, yes, they were rather exuberant when we first met." Byakuren shook her head with a silent laugh, interjecting.

You did meet them in a layer of Hell, a little exuberance is to be expected.

"Neither of you ladies seem particularly worried."

"No more so than usual." Keine followed with another stern look "You haven't done anything have you?"

"So, the magic from the sky is agitating youkai and you two are arranging to use the power of Makai to form a barrier that can resist that much energy?"

"The main problem is removing the magical contamination. It could have unpleasant effects if it lasts too long. The spell will gradually expand outwards, cleaning the land and creating a false sky to improve morale."

"Where is all that magic going to end up? Those grounding rods were very well made and they can't have lasted long."

Another arrow into the pot.

"That's the problem, right now the spell will roll the magic along its perimeter. The dense wave of sky-magic shouldn't have any strongly adverse effects in the time before the cleansing spell follows it and right now it's looking like the only way to push it to the boundary and have that lazy youkai take care of it."

Lazy youkai? Generally the older they are, the less active they become. But to be distinguished specifically as "lazy" would imply significant age and power. I had a feeling I knew who that could be, but I'd rather not speak of her overmuch and draw her attention.

"When will you be ready with the spell?" I made motion as if to leave, I should probably hurry before that wave of magic ruined every unclaimed item in Gensokyo. A magical land shouldn't be so vulnerable, but nobody would have expected such a sudden surge. It can't have had an internal cause, or everything with a spirit would have felt it coming. The outside world?

"Probably a half-day from now, it's delicate work. Be careful, Rinnosuke." Keine finally let up the serious tone, if for one more reminiscent of the schoolteacher she had become than the friend she was.

"Indeed. I set my disciples to keep an eye on the smaller human settlements, if you run across them I'm sure they'll be willing to help you."

She might have a mistaken sense of my intentions, I'm just looking for merchandise.

"Thank you Lady Byakuren, I'll keep an eye out. Keine, I'll be taking those arrows."

"Please, call me Hijiri."

I did just that, reclaimed my "arrows", exchanged further farewells and left.



Criticism is welcome.
>>To do anything else is mere attention whoring

Much like what you, >>141448, and >>141409 are currently doing?

>>Criticism is welcome.

The tone in this story so far is very well done. That said, we're still in the early stages. The scenery descriptions are a bit confusing with the two snippets we have to work with so far, but it's not bad enough to be something in major need of correction. Yet.

Characterization is a bit bland at the moment, but as was said earlier, we're still in the early stages here.

>>Criticism is welcome.

Interesting. Very interesting. Could work on the sentence structure, but I think you'd do good with just a general proofreader. Come smack some of us around on IRC and we'll be glad to help.
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Helping? On IRC?

Ha ha, you're so funny with your memes and lolcats.
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As long as you ignore the dicks and only venture there for short periods of time, you can avoid th mind-warping effect and get out safely, sometimes even with actual proofreading in your shaking, tainted fingers. Just don't linger, or you'll end up.. one of them.
People's mixed feelings about IRC are pretty fair, at this point. Some of the members are very friendly, cheery folk, some are unfriendly (and cheery about it), and some are just bastards. Either way, a lot of well-established authors hang out there, and some of them are actually doing this because they like writing - helping the process isn't a big favor, it's fun.

Regardless, you won't get any unless
you ask. The worst that could happen is that you learn who to ignore.

A fair point, I'll throw up Part Two of the last update before I check it out though.


Part Two

Flight is a skill any in Gensokyo can gain, simply the next step from learning to run. Most do, but never use it fully. Fairies are aggressive - or simply stupid - and a flying human provokes a reaction much like a disturbed hornets nest. Especially during an incident.
So what happens is that the residents who don't possess the casual power to swat a swarm out of the skies instead glide across the ground in a very elongated lope, feet only lightly touching the ground to aid control. This allows almost the speed of true flight, without drawing nearly as much attention. The side effect is that the roads in Gensokyo are often overgrown and impassable to wagons, residents simply gliding over all obstacles - including cliffs, streams, pit traps...

For the confident, the wide river made for an excellent road.

There were few fishing boats and no flying traffic on the river, so I picked up speed quickly and unobtrusively.
I don't much like using power carelessly and I prefer not to have an audience when I do.
My feet only a fingers-breadth above the surface, they draw ripples behind me as I went. The water was the colour of clay, with waves that picked up slices of the unnatural blue sky. The wind against my face had that subtle humidity that spoke of dawn, or at least, the dawn that should be.

If it had just been that the sun had risen early, then it would have burnt away, but the skylight was a distant and lifeless radiance that only gave the illusion of a washed-out summer day. It could be much later in the day, it would be hard to keep track of how long I had before Keine and Hijiri finished their spell.

Energy flared below me.

I swerved and put on more speed. The spray of bullets that broke the surface missed by a comfortable margin, azure bars of light that flopped back into the water like a jumping fish. A river-fairy shouldn't have that kind of power.
I couldn't see anything beneath the water, but the lightshow drew attention from the banks. It was amazing how fast these encounters developed, no matter how fast I moved, wave after wave of fairies would mob me at every turn.

I'm no good at danmaku. I cheat.

You look at something, you either recognise it or not.
If you don't then you automatically form assumptions and comparisons with things you do.
Either way you act according to whatever response it invokes.
How often does anybody stop to question this?
If people didn't trust their instincts then they'd never get anything done.
A sudden drop provokes an instant halt, fire makes us recoil.
Those are the things that grab our attention, from our instinctive recognition of their importance.
But an archer aiming at a target, pays no heed to the colour of his bowstring. A fisherman on the river cares little for distant mountain peaks when the line goes taught.
What we recognise as unimportant is ignored. This happens at all levels of the mind.

A swarm of barely sentient fairies, reflexively blasting at first hint of a stranger, looking for things like "fun" or "excitement". When their target suddenly registers as even less worthy of attention than the dust in the air what do they do? They don't stop to think about it - they can't.

The swarms that burst out of the trees and from under the water paused briefly in the air, they might have been looking for me - perhaps their dim minds feebly scrabbled against my deception. Unlikely.
But either way, without a more attractive human target they collapsed into a brawl of danmaku that could last for days - fairies reincarnate instantly and full of energy, rarely hesitating to jump back into the fray.

I moved on. A glance over my shoulder revealed powerful - if crude - sprays of danmaku that lit up the waters in a thousand clashing shades of colour. It was a certainty that they were feeling the energizing effects of the sky far more keenly than I.

But even the strongest fairy, is still just a fairy.

I flew on and nearly slammed into a wall of ice.
Focusing on my escape, I wasn't paying attention.
Magical flight cares very little for the laws of motion, however. I halted instantly, barely a foot before I would have met the densely ridged and faintly sparkling blue ice. A few moments to comport myself and levitate over the obstacle, tattered dignity in place.
I had left the trees some time ago, behind me were grasslands - ignored in my flight, overshadowed by the Lake transformed.

Looking at the vast and open landscape, it seemed that the azure sky reached down to touch the water. As many times as I had thought this in the past, all lies against this one true sight.
The clear Lake drew the sky-light in, adding that radiance to its own shimmer. Here and there, more pillars of blue-white ice dotted the Lake, increasing in density and size as the water deepened, such that they completely obscured the islands from sight.

With the near-perfect symmetry of sky and still water, the ice seemed to hang suspended and illusive, more an aggregation of the blue light than anything truly solid. It had the quality of a dream, something that had to be awoken from. A slow texture revealed itself - the lake water did reflect and trap the sky-light-magic, but there was a deeper glow beneath that.

Power seeping into Gensokyo, from the sky and from the deep waters. The boundaries of this world. There was this pull from the Lake. The blue, blue water. I could drown myself in that power.

A coin - irregularly shaped, proud patrician face crudely stamped in gold.
Into the water, breaking the subtle spell and surface tension with an impact far beyond its weight.
My hand outstretched, my slow realisation of the unconscious defence of my mind.
Why did my subconscious mind have to choose the most valuable coin in my pocket? The aura of age, the history that it possessed as the first coin minted by a long-dead empire. Gone. Just like that.

I wiped away the sweat of terror that beaded my face and turned from the distant ice pillars that surrounded the islands, looking back to the Forest. The sky seemed now to rudely thrust itself to my senses. So I looked down, to where the river met the lake. My hands were still shaking.
The change of muddy water to the sky-blue water happened quickly, streamers roiling and being dissolved. The edge of the blue water that met it, the ripples, seemed oddly angular. As though the water had been replaced by a smoothly flowing crystal, which could not quite form the curves required, no matter how finely faceted it's surface.

I felt myself calm. Nothing could be a threat that couldn't flow like water. I wouldn't feel that urge to drown if I looked back at the Lake, I didn't know what it was, but I saw through it all the same.

I looked back, no suicidal impulse took me. I'd heard rumours of a madness that took outsiders, they generally have no resistance to magical compulsion. The Lake was as charged as the sky, nearly enough to take my senses and have me follow those unfortunates. Still, perhaps it was best to limit my exposure till I had a better handle on it.

[] To my left, a strange scar across the shore led into the strange waters from the forest, steam softly rising.
[] To my right, an old jetty that was once a bridge to the islands. Things caught by the currents are often caught in turn by the pilings.
[] Looking past these things I saw a sign of greater fortune: Write In
-For example, things lost by the poor victims of That Lake are possibly suitable. I'm sure some interesting things went into the water with their bloated corpses.
-Or whatever craziness. If it won't fit I won't choose it, which I think is reasonable.
-Pick a direction as well, this stuff is just further along the shore.
[x] To my right, an old jetty that was once a bridge to the islands. Things caught by the currents are often caught in turn by the pilings.

What the fuck. Nobody has voted on this yet? There isn't much discussion to be had at the moment, but you can all at least zombie vote really quick. I know there are more people reading this than me.
[x] To my left, a strange scar across the shore led into the strange waters from the forest, steam softly rising.
[x] To my right, an old jetty that was once a bridge to the islands. Things caught by the currents are often caught in turn by the pilings.
Well, I was going to vote but then I said "fuck it let someone else do it".

[x] To my right, an old jetty that was once a bridge to the islands. Things caught by the currents are often caught in turn by the pilings.
[x] To my right, an old jetty that was once a bridge to the islands. Things caught by the currents are often caught in turn by the pilings.

>I looked back, no suicidal impulse took me. I'd heard rumours of a madness that took outsiders, they generally have no resistance to magical compulsion.

I see what you did there.
[X] To my right, an old jetty that was once a bridge to the islands. Things caught by the currents are often caught in turn by the pilings.

What did he do there? Reference someone else's story?
You have got to be kidding me.
It's a reference to the CYOA that spawned this site. Voters had a tendency to jump the MC into the scarlet devil lake out of nowhere, usually killing him.
You should really, really know this already. Reading You Wake Up in Gensokyo is almost mandatory for coming to this site.
Eh, You Wake Up in Gensokyo is really hard to track down, and not that good.
>Waking up in Gensokyo is hard to find
Click the story list button. What's that one story with more threads then any other? No, it couldn't possibly what you are looking for! Not in the least.
Hey thanks. Last time I tried the links were broken or someshit.
Sorry for being so slow on the update, in return have an open choice. Which may or may not be much of an apology.


I felt like walking. Some distant survival instinct made me uncomfortable with flight and the easy target it made me.
So I set down a short distance from the shore. That scar in the ground was interesting, but of that particular variety of interesting that precedes extreme danger. Being allergic to such excitement, I felt comfortable approaching the broken bridge instead.

Some time ago, shortly after the vampire had first arrived in Gensokyo the bridge to the island her mansion had claimed was destroyed overnight in a rather peculiar manner. It gave every appearance that the majority of its span had simply never been. More that that, the stone pilings and an enormous hemisphere of lake-bed were destroyed as well, leaving the two ends of the bridge jutting out over a deep sinkhole.
This had lowered the water level by a considerable amount. But the water was restored and denizens of the waters grew used to the alteration, so it became quite an excellent place to watch the day go past. I had occasionally met the maid of the mansion while there, she seemed inclined to whimsically fly across the Lake as though the missing bridge was still there. I had once caught the faintest sound of her shoes scuffing on wood, while she was still walking on air.
Rather an odd one that maid.

Anyways, the strange currents the hole caused, were also responsible for dragging many unusual things against what was left of the bridge. Things lost in the outside world, pass through to Gensokyo in the circumstances to which they were lost. Burnt things can sometimes be found in the oldest ashes of a firepit, buried things are unearthed by the plough and drowned things find their ways into to the rivers and lakes. The Lake in particular, draws deepest of all, so the new current was very welcome.

The world that we live on, Gensokyo, in turn lives upon a larger world. That Outside World is mostly ocean and has a saying that "all things return to the oceans" as well as "all things come from the oceans". Even in Gensokyo, which has no ocean, this cycle continues, proof of the powerful influence the Outside World has upon us.

The stained wood of the bridge was smooth, flecks of ancient paint peeling from sparse and illegible designs. I laid my hand against the time-worn wooden gate that framed the steps that began the bridge. Once the vague, sinuous shapes beneath my fingers were the sharply defined figures of dragons, it had once been thought that such a god made residence on the island. There was a truth to all legends, but this one was still a mystery to me.

There were fresh carvings on the well-worn originals, the very familiar loops and whorls of a subtle ward against youkai. Familiar, because I had put them there to protect the items from the irresponsible. As a half-youkai, I should only feel a slight and rather confused aversion - but as the creator of the spell I was invisible to it.

Just from approaching the bridge I could see a disturbance in the water, a dark tangle under the bridge. Regular shapes tangled with a somewhat more disturbing one that was staining the solid blue waters red.

There was no need for me to hurry and I didn't intend to. Though leaving the body there was out of the question, as the smell would ruin the view.

Leaning over the railing gave a better perspective on the mess. The usual assortment of branches and salt-stained driftwood from a far-off ocean were tangled in a net somehow woven from metal. Under that screen of detritus, the shapes I had seen pressed hard edges against the weave of the net. One black-swathed hand stuck out from beneath, fingers splayed inside the articulated gauntlet. The fabric had the appearance of dry cotton, but was some kind of highly processed carbon mesh with an embedded "cell-form reinforcement structure".

I knew the meaning of those words that made up its name, but aside from a vague notion of it as a mass-produced masterpiece work of armour and its purpose to that end the artifice behind it was beyond me. A few hours of experimental work would reveal the names and purposes of all its components, but that could wait.

I slowly lowered myself over the side of the bridge until I could reach the bundle, grabbing the outreached hand was much too morbid, so I took as firm a grip as I could on the slick metal netting.

Lifting things while flying depended on how you went about it. You had to be able to exert enough force in your flight to lift it and your body had to be capable of taking that strain, so a harness that settled the weight off the arms was a good idea. That was generally the extent of the basic ability to fly - though the rules were magical and therefore unreliable. I just relied upon my strength, which was sufficient to lift most things that weren't much larger than a loaded wagon.

Still, as the mass emerged from the water, it really was very heavy. I pulled it up and over the bridge, hearing a few items slip out of the net and splash back into the water. Streams of blue water seeped out of the pile and having no intention of letting much of it touch me I settled on the rail to catch my breath. Where the water spread, the old wood of the bridge was visibly revitalised. Not that that was an especially good thing, well seasoned planks are preferred to green wood for many reasons.

Some time later, I had things in a rough order. I recorded the acquisitions in my ledger as follows:

Half a dozen dull metal boxes, sealed beyond anything I could bring to bear quickly, waterproof. Varying sizes.
Large metal net. Very strong, but with a ragged hole ripped through it.
A suit of armour, somehow made of metal cloth with minimal plating. All pockets and pouches empty or their contents ruined by saltwater immersion.
Eight feet of purplish tentacle, with a razor tip. Approx three feet in diameter. Embedded in largest container, which leaks a strong-smelling substance called gasoline. Cauterised at the severed end.

Well, there was actually an "energy bar" intact in one pouch, but Outside foodstuffs have always held a particular draw to me. It was exceedingly sweet, but not terrible.

That tentacle though… I had never read anything about the Lord of the Deep to which it belonged, but it had a very old-fashioned purpose of snatching and consuming mortal lives. Despite the obvious time that had passed since it was severed, it wasn't entirely dead, such incredible vitality another similarity with the more humanoid youkai of Gensokyo.

In the past of course, youkai took as myriad forms as human fears. Gensokyo had changed that in a very obvious manner, as I understood it, one condition of inclusion within the Great Barrier was the acceptance of a primarily human form. More youkai had rejected this than not, pride is a powerful virtue and crippling flaw in most breeds of youkai.

I reached out a hand, the texture was rough like sandstone. I could feel a faint vacuum, a pull on my internal energy from the tentacle - but it was too close to death now, separated from its mind it was less forceful than the soft breeze about me.

But still, my thoughts wandered.

The air stank of salt and the bright sun beat down. Under my feet the ground lurched - a flat, featureless gray. To my right a net secured a pile of boxes to the deck. My left was an endless expanse of water.

In front of me, a form like the body I had recovered leaned against a white-painted metal rail. Helmet hinged upwards, pale features, lips loose around a cigarette. Calculated nonchalance against the pitch of the waves and sprays of saltwater. He looked my way and grinned, behind him was a short ladder leading to the point-defence gun he was supposed to be manning.

A shadow loomed, cast over an impossible distance of the sea. We both turned, a black bar wider than the ship, wide as the Serbitz was long. I raised my armoured left hand to point, the other scrabbled for my sidearm. The impossible tentacle shivered and frayed like overloaded wire, hundreds of smaller tentacles spasmodically thrashed away from the main bulk.

The crates bulged and exploded against me, a spearhead of bone as large as a man missing me by inches. I felt the rail snap against my armoured spine and we fell, the tentacle, the crates. With a lurch we halted, hung from the barb, I held desperately to the bone blade as the weight of the loaded net fell onto me.

Light and heat flared above, through the net onto my exposed face. The far end of the tentacle was blazing with white fire, severed, our fall resumed. Impact. I struggled to close my faceplate, made it. Couldn't get out of the net before my air ran out. Drowned dry and screaming one thing:

The bastard on the deck gun knew I was there!


It took some time to regain my composure. My clothes were damp with saltwater, I had come dangerously close to forgetting that it was an illusion and being lost in the Outside World, sharing the fate of the drowned man.

[] Write-in
[x] Ignore it all for now. Search the crevassed scar in the ground.

Must obtain more loot. So, apparently this soldier encountered a squid and/or octopus-shaped youkai in the outside world, and died fighting it. It seems like he was hanging precariously onto something, when the gunnery dude shot him off of it, forcing him to drown. At least, that's what I'm getting out of it.

Since he died in agony and rage, perhaps we'll see him as a minor youkai sometime soon, or something like that.
[x] Ignore it all for now. Search the crevassed scar in the ground.

Really, don't make open choices if you want votes.
[x] Ignore it all for now. Search the crevassed scar in the ground.
You still alive, writefag?

Thread Watcher x