[X] Fight on your terms: brain over brawn. Don’t contest its strength; find its weakness. It’s time... for the Merlin Gambit.
As the Dread Gazebo lumbers towards you, a terrible whaarrrrrrrr! underlining its wrath, an old wizard’s tale comes to mind, unbidden: the legendary duel between Merlin and Mim. Mim was a shapeshifter. Like all specialists, she’d focused on developing terrifying mastery of her chosen school of magic. Rather then futilely contesting her mastery of personal transmutation, Merlin exploited her prendictability and defeated her handily.
Like you, Merlin was a generalist.
“Split up and keep moving!” you tell your companions. You mentally scramble for the perfect creature, and your mouth puckers as you contemplate the best option. As the magic ghosts past your lips the prickly numbness washes over your body, a sensation you’ve never grown used to. Above you see Keine’s shocked face growing larger and larger as you plummet towards the ground.
You give your new gossamer wings an experimental twitch. Your clothes and equipment have resized, as any decent enchanted gear will, and your robe has even made accommodation for your new appendages.
“Time for some remodeling,” you say gruffly – or would have, if you weren’t a two-inch tall fairy. Somewhere above you hear the most muted of chuffs. Even with a killer building bearing down, Duke’s got time to be a wiseass.
You dart into the air nimbly, your maneuverability and speed far superior in fairy form. Keine sprints left, Duke reluctantly lopes to the right, and you arrow straight for the Gazebo. Your voice may be diminutive, but Ghost Sound is loud as ever.
“PHTTTTTTTTTTTTBBBBBBBTTT!” booms a raspberry with the strength of seventeen men. “YO MOMMA WAS AN OUTHOUSE!”
Much better. Back in your groove, now.
“WHAAAAAAARRRRRRRR!” the Gazebo retorts with the force of sixty drunk lumberjacks, the sonic blast buffeting you.
Your smugness slips a bit as the Gazebo thunders towards you, all fury and timber. You jink left and right, feigning uncertainty. The Gazebo swells in size, looking like an entire mountain from your diminutive viewpoint. Making the arcane gestures with crisp precision, you painstakingly enunciate every syllable of the spell from a bone-dry mouth as the Gazebo bears down, blocking out the entire sky.
A glowing red ball the size of your tiny head appears in your arms, and as the Gazebo closes for the kill you cradle the rubescent bead and dart straight into the Gazebo.
The structure shudders with abrupt braking, a gust buffeting you from all sides as the gigantic structure seems to whuff in utter bafflement. You swoop low over the floorboards, looking for an opening. Spotting a wide crack, you sling the red bead with all your feeble might. It flies true and jams firmly in the floor.
Payload delivered, you sprint for the other side. Two balusters snap free of the handrail and snap towards you in a deadly scissors, splinters the size of spears brushing your robe as you dodge over by a hair, zipping out of the Gazebo and into free air.
The mighty monstrosity shudders for a moment, then twirls with uncanny speed.
“Yo papa was a DOGHOUSE!” you exclaim, your tinny voice carrying surprisingly well in the sudden silence of the motionless Gazebo.
The edge of the roof over the main entrance dimples down, and you’ve the strange idea it’s narrowing its eyes at you.
So your storied career as an abrasive asshole peaks with this: you’ve managed to piss off a building.
The monster flattens and swells, roof stretching and balustrades leaning out with queerly organic motion – and contracts sharply, springing upwards with impossible velocity. You zip sideways immediately, but the shadow of the Gazebo stays over you. Glancing upward, you see the Gazebo’s edges oscillating, emitting puffs of air as it adjusts course.
Now it emits volcanic fury as the Delayed Blast Fireball detonates directly inside the Gazebo, immolating the entire structure with white-hot flame. As the now-flaming, flying killer Gazebo hurtles towards your head, you suspect you’ve erred. You strain for speed, gossamer wings beating furiously as you strive to clear the Gazebo’s footprint.
The sky comes smashing to earth with deafening volume, a wave of hot air slapping you from behind as the equivalent of a live volcano crash-lands inches behind you. You do a quick barrel roll, hooting with the joy of still having lungs to hoot.
The Gazebo hoots back.
Sticks and stones may break your bones, but whaaaaaaars will slap you to earth. The sheer force of the Gazebo’s roar hits like a muffled hammerblow. Your muscles twitch, palsied by the shock, and you crash into a marigold blossom before plowing into a flowerbed. Rolling onto your back, you witness a sky consisting entirely of charring timbers rapidly descending.
You roll under the protruding ledge of a flat decorative stone just in time for the earthshattering impact to violently bounce you between soil and ceiling. You pant with pain in the dark for a moment while appreciating the excellent acoustic properties of your skull: it makes one hell of a bell. Sunlight floods in, and vanishes again as the Gazebo smashes into the earth once more. This time it impacts your rock closer to the edge and the stone ceiling crushes you into the yielding mulch of the flowerbed. Your tiny ribcage pops and creaks, razors of pain slicing your chest.
Light. You brace uselessly for the next impact, but it never comes. Explosions come like rippling thunder from above, and giants are roaring.
The stone is still crushing you, and spikes of fire pierce your chest. “Iz...” you stutter breathlessly. “Fuh...” Gritting your teeth, you steal what air you can with a stone ledge compressing your chest. “IzBa’kon!” You gesture with a numb hand, pushing aside dirt granules for room. To your relief and amazement it works, a sheen of oil instantly coating your robe. Kicking and squirming, tears of agony streaming down your cheekss, you manage to slither out, bumping dirt granules aside with your head. Finally in the open, you lay prone, panting in pain.
Merlin, you decide, was a dweeb.
Rolling onto your better side, you push yourself up. In the distance you see the Gazebo, its structure smoldering and badly charred. Duke stands atop, bellowing triumphantly as he brings his black greatsword down on the roof, carving deep into the wood. A fresh barrage of Keine’s ogive ruby darts swarm in from every direction, shuddering the entire structure with their explosions. The schoolteacher herself darts in from behind a hedge, sword blurring. An entire vertical beam slips apart, cleaved in twain.
A deep thrumming buzz suffuses the air behind you.
“What-” you manage before ducking as a swarm of bumblebees buzz overhead, each one seeming the size of a mastiff and looking about as pleasant. From every direction you see hundreds more flowing over the charred and smoking Gazebo, and wherever they land the timbers soon sag and crumble.
With a sluggish gesture you dismiss your spell, shooting skyward as the world shrinks around you. Thrusting your finger at the distant Gazebo, you shout for your companions to jump clear. Duke makes a beautiful dismount, shifting to his wolf form as he dives from the Gazebo’s roof, and Keine rolls behind a statue.
Despite its damage, the Gazebo turns towards your voice and advances with a shaky, lumbering gait. Your other hand is still a bit numb, but you manage to get the small lodestone from your charm bracelet in your palm, hastily tracing the final symbol in the air.
“ZALABAM Z’NXYZT!” you roar with all the volume your abused chest allows. A thin emerald ray springs from your fingertip and strikes the Gazebo. Emitting a hollow scream like wind through twisted elms, the entire structure vibrates intensely for a long second, resisting, before its front half is completely vaporized.
The final collapse of charred timbers splinters the air, and then all is quiet.
Trudging over to a nearby statue of a man throwing a rock, you slump against it wearily, favoring your good side. Through smashed hedges and flowerbeds torn asunder comes Keine, cloaked in a shimmering aura of quicksilver. Kusanagi is in her hand, the light of her battle magic dancing and flowing along the bright steel.
It seems she’s talking.
“... okay? Hello?”
“Sorry, had all the smartass bravado stomped out of me,” you wheeze.
“Few cracked ribs, ‘sall,” you manage, the sudden post-battle weariness crashing over you. You let your eyes drift shut and rest your head on the statue. There’s a distant snapping and cracking of timbers; you presume Duke is liberating his greatsword.
Strong arms circle your shoulders and catch you under the knees. Keine lifts you easily as a doll, ferrying you to a nearby bench where she lies you prone.
“I can walk, you know,” you grunt. It hurts to breathe, much less to talk, but an attempt at dignity should at least be made.
“Teacher!” a high-pitched voice hails. “Miss Kamishirasawa!”
Craning your neck back, you get an inverted view of a small green-haired girl waving madly at Keine. Her other hand is locked firmly around the wrist of a slender youth in trim, baby-blue scholar’s robes. He looks quite uncertain, clutching a thin tome to his chest like a shield.
“Wriggle!?” Keine says, astonished. “What are you..?”
“We were coming home and saw the whole thing!” she says excitedly. “Who’s that?”
Clamping a hand onto your hat, you prepare to sit up, waving off Keine’s sounds of protest. “I’m fine, you wuss!” You rise, tilt your hat to its accustomed rakish angle, and topple right off the bench.
“... worlds spinning a little faster then usual,” you say nonchalantly from the dirt. “But I got the measure now.”
“You’ve got a concussion,” Keine worries, scooping you up and laying you out on the bench again. She glances at the horizon and bites her lip, fear pulling at the corners of her mouth. “Just a few minutes more...”
“My friend!” Duke’s voice booms from on high before his usual serious face appears above, scowling down his muzzle. “Well done. I did not think to exploit the structure’s wide-open construction.”
“Not like you have to, with a sword long enough to toast a party-sized sub sandwich on,” you grunt. “I am not similarly blessed.”
Duke evaluates your battered form judiciously, then slowly turns his golden gaze sidelong at Keine, who’s hovering over you attentively.
“Perhaps,” he says dubiously.
“Any sign of Benson? Yoshi?” you ask. Duke and Keine shake their heads negative.
“Benson!?” the young man in blue exclaims in disbelief. “Teacher, what’s going on?”
“I’ve no clue!” Keine almost wails in frustration. glancing at the sky again.
“Should we get him to a doctor?” the bug-girl asks, her inquisitive face hovering close over yours. You scowl up at her for suggesting it.
“In a minute or two, we won’t have to,” Keine replies, still watching the sky nervously.
“Who are you?” The bug-girl calls up to Duke. “I’m Wriggle. Wriggle Nightbug!” She swirls her little cape dramatically. Duke solemnly extends a paw, engulfing her palm in a handshake. They carry on a little while, but with your head still ringing splendidly you lose interest in the conversation. Wriggle is saying something about hound youkais when Keine leans over and presses her hand to your brow.
You sit up.
“Wow,” you comment, tilting your neck experimentally. Every ache and pain has vanished, and your head is clear. “You told me about your powers and the moon and all, but... wow.”
“This time of month... every minute closer to the full moon, my powers strengthen.” She smiles at you. “Lucky for you, since you seem to get clumsier.”
Which has everything to do with the proximity of a different type of heavenly body, in your opinion, but you keep that to yourself. “What surprises me is the spectrum,” you reply. “From low to high. At this rate, well, I can’t wait to see you on the full moon.”
Keine’s smile shatters instantly.
“Hello,” the young man says, stepping in smoothly. “My name is Yukikaki Kojima. Since you know Teacher, please call me Yuki.” You exchange a brief handshake. “And this is my wife-”
“Wriggle!” she declares happily, catching your hand for a shake. “Nightbug,” she adds belatedly.
You eye her antenna thoughtfully. “So those bumblebees were yours?”
“Carpenter bees,” she corrects you. “They look pretty similar, though.”
Well, that explains the wood-eating. “Thanks for the help.”
“No problem. It was certainly something different,” she replies. From the look on Yuki’s face, he’s somewhat less enthused with ‘different.’ “What was that thing, though?”
“... the Gazebo?” The couple both turn to where the gazebo they were familiar with had sat and blanched when they saw it unoccupied.
“It - it looked like – and the distance – but how!?”
“A most pressing question,” Duke rumbles from behind you, and Keine concurs. You rub your forehead, agitated.
“Obviously an animated object, but far more powerful then is ordinary, even for its size. Unless somebody’s spent a year secretly preparing it as a gigantic golem... nah. It’s a clerics spell where I come from. God-granted magic. But...”
“Judging from your expression when it lofted airborne, they can’t fly,” Keine says drolly.
“Or use sonic attacks. Or hold grudges. Or absorb as much punishment as that one did.”
“Could the Society...?” Keine wonders. “With those magic artifacts you said Benson mentioned?”
You shake your head. “To do this’d require an artifact, not just any enchanted device. A powerful one, too.” You think a moment. “Of course, we are in Gensokyo, so I can’t rule it out.”
“Perhaps the shopkeeper could enlighten us further,” Duke suggests, his face inscrutable. “Should we move up our appointment?”
“I’d like to find Mokou,” Keine says. “If somebody ambushed us, she might be next.”
“Either way, we should be going,” Duke observes, nodding to a crowing crowd of spectators arriving from the town proper. You think you see a few hats in the mix, and immediately start scanning for that damn little red one, harbinger of trouble. “Decide quick.”
[ ] Find Benson. We’ve an appointment to keep and you need to determine if he set you up.
[ ] Find Mokou. She may be attacked next, with similar force, and this thing nearly killed you, with help at hand.
[ ] Find Aya. We do owe her an interview, and tengu have long ears – we might tease some clues out of her. So to speak. [ ] Write-in?
And here, MC Wizanon AlaFey prepares to pass out the party favors. Smaller this time, but just as sketchy, and you can see a little of the floor from the one last thread along the top. Just a quickie, to share the evil grin I imagined him wearing at that moment.
[X] Find Benson. We’ve an appointment to keep and you need to determine if he set you up.
[x] Find Aya. We do owe her an interview, and tengu have long ears – we might tease some clues out of her. So to speak.
First things first though, ask Wriggle and her husband if they're usually in this area at this time of day, as the Wizard's group might have set off a trap intended for someone else(especially given that it was designed to go after flyers, and that sonic blast would probably have been more effective against swarms of weaker targets).
While some short-sighted humans might be try to drive off/kill youkai and other people strong enough to defend the village, I'm guessing it's more likely to be some youkai's scheme. Get rid of the local defenders, have a patsy stage an Incident elsewhere to keep the shrine maidens and other assorted troubleshooters busy, then waltz in and sack the village largely unopposed.
Either way, if you want to get the word out fast, you have the local muckraker right there(who may very well be a target herself), and she'll gleefully spread it around with a great big shovel.
Awesome story. Really, some spectacular writing. I've been playing catch-up with it, but some of the threads seem to be 404-ing - 6, 7 and it looks like 8. I'd rather not skip so much to continue reading. Any alternatives? A .txt file or something, maybe?
>>144406 Mystia was Killed and Eaten by Yuyuko when Kaguya stole the moon. Mystia was seen later on. Therefore, either most Youkai are capable of coming back from the dead, or due to the fact that time isn't lineral, just because a person died in one timeline doesn't mean they died in another, meaning that there can be multiple versions of a person running around at the same time until Keine decides to make one timeline stick (thereby erasing the possibilities of the other timelines, and if you're unlucky, your chances of survival as a result if you live in Gensokyo).
So yeah. Take your pick. Either most Youkai can come back from the dead, or Gensokyo is suffering a large scale version of a TES (The Elder Scrolls) Dragon Break, with Keine acting as Gensokyo's version of Akatosh (also known as "The Dragon", I.E. The God Of Time).
>>144410 Ahh, The Dragon Break. Obscure TES lore for the win. So what's The Dragon Break those of you who have never heard of it wonder? In The Elder Scrolls, time is part of the essence and nature of the Dragon God Akatosh. To Break The Dragon is in a sense to break time and space. To break reality itself, and it is not considered a good thing, as the results can be unexpected, if not outright bad, and the effects of it are felt in the past, the present, and the future all at once. So what happens when the Dragon Breaks?
Lands may appear or disappear, history changes, you may meet your evil twin, or wake as the wrong gender or species, or suddenly find yourself in a world (or even a different universe) where history played out differently, or damn near anything else. Reality breaks down for a short time after a Dragonbreak occurs, and timelines overlap and mix. Time and Space become malleable, and the unlikely, the absurd, and the impossible becomes reality.
Now, this has already occured a couple times already in The Elder Scrolls, and the developers embraced the concept wholeheartedly, as it gives them an in-universe explanation for any retcons or changes they wish to make.
"But why did such and such happen? It's illogical!" the fans wonder.
"Dragon Break!" the developers cry out with shit-eating trollface grins.
So the comparison of "The Dragon Break" with the nature of how Time in Gensokyo works is very amusing, and it has some interesting consequences as well. In the end, Keine is the reason history is what it is in Gensokyo. A land where man-eating monsters are becoming more human-like for some strange reason. A land where even with the simmering hatreds and negative stereotypes, it hasn't become outright bloodshed and genocide even where it logically would and should have occured. A land that should be an utter nightmarish shithole, yet for some reason isn't. Almost as if someone is looking out for the peoples of Gensokyo, be they Human or Youkai.
>>144410 >So yeah. Take your pick. Either most Youkai can come back from the dead, or Gensokyo is suffering a large scale version of a TES (The Elder Scrolls) Dragon Break, with Keine acting as Gensokyo's version of Akatosh (also known as "The Dragon", I.E. The God Of Time).
Or it was just a joke.
>>144410 It's pretty likely most Youkai can resurrect themselves given their origin.
By and large Youkai are spiritual creatures and therefore physical damage is fleeting, at best. That in mind I find it sort of weird when people regard Fairies as special in their regenerative capabilities, when really it's pretty likely that most if not all Youkai are capable of the same.
>>144410 You do realize that not everything characters say in these games is meant to be taken literally, especially when said by someone like Yuyuko, right?
Odds are, Mystia wasn't actually killed and eaten by Yuyuko in IN any more than Sakuya was killed by the heroines on their way to Remilia in EoSD, only to miraculously come back from the dead in time for the next game.
>>144428 You know what's funny is >>144410 's post actually DID provide a way for both of those things to occur without any paradoxes or contradictions. Or at least I think so. Anyways, I think one of the possible options he's presenting is because Keine has control over time, timelines can overlap.
Mystia for example can have been killed and eaten and STILL be fine and dandy the next day, because even though she was killed/eaten in Timeline A, she wasn't killed/eaten in Timeline B, and unless Keine makes the whole "Killed/Eaten" part of Timeline A stick for Mystia, Mystia will be alive and well even though she was killed and eaten.
That's actually pretty terrifying now that I think about it.
>>144430 I think I'll stick with the "she didn't really die" explanation, thank you very much. It just seems like the more sensible conclusion to a duel that, by its very nature, is intended to be non-lethal, and doesn't require some ridiculously convoluted explanation involving history-altering shenanigans to make sense of why she's still alive.
>>doesn't require some ridiculously convoluted explanation involving history-altering shenanigans
I'm kind of growing fond of the idea the more I think about it. why? It allows practically anything to be done plotwise in a story and it works as an answer for why gensokyo is the way it is. It's almost starting to feel like one of those forbidden templates for how well it can work. It's silly, but it's serious too. It's complete bullshit, yet it's very plausible. It's simple, and it's utterly complicated at the same time. What's not to love about it?
>>144477 When I started writing that post there were 75 posts in this thread:
2 demetrious posts
39 posts with votes
3 about some video game and how it can be related to gensyoko plot holes
2 about how shitty story archive is
7 about how touhou plot works
1 one about what to vote on
2 with with drawings of wizard(1 of them has also vote)
rest are random whining,
So can you explain why do you whine about neckbeards? Lately more place is wasted by people whining about them than by them.
Ah, that One Guy from that /blue/ thread from months and months ago, easily identified by being the only man on #THP who thinks a writefag who needed to be actively nagged into obtaining a tripcode has an ego. While I continue to be amused by your asspain eternal, it's clear everybody else in my threads are not. Nor is /th/ in general, because when your constant trolling occasionally starts a 20-30 post shitstorm it autosages the thread faster, and only 2.5 updates per thread annoys other people as well.
I'm going to talk to the moderators. Perhaps they can set you straight.
Everybody else, update in a minute or two, just need to think of a lame post title.
[X] Find Benson. We’ve an appointment to keep and you need to determine if he set you up.
Delving the depths of mystery requires diligence, patience, and a talent for building trust with key suspects.
Blasting fireballs into the depths and beating answers out of any screaming survivors who come running out, on the other hand, is actually relevant to your abilities. Aya already sings like a canary, but little of use comes out. And you suspect that probability of violent attack on Mokou is inversely proportional to her distance and your patience.
That leaves Benson.
“We’re finding the shopkeeper,” you declare. “Now.”
“He’ll probably want to set up another meeting, control the situation,” Keine says.
“They’re pretty jumpy for a group that got their own feature in the local newspaper,” you grumble, stomping deeper into the devastated garden to dodge the gathering crowd.
“It’s not like evil magic buildings are lurking at their rendezvous site or anything, right? Because that’s just silly.”
“That’s – it was clearly after me,” you retort. “Don’t know what they’re so worried about.”
“What other defense does an ordinary man have in Gensokyo, aside from paranoia? You’re not going to hold that against them, are you?”
“Yes. Yes, I will,” you growl, skipping over a toppled statue, “and perhaps a fire against their ass if he doesn’t cut the cloak’n’dagger crud and get on with things.”
“I’ve been ambushed in a cornfield, had my face wiped across a tavern floor and just had an entire building dance on my face. And we still haven’t answered the ONE simple question: did they sic zombai goasts on us? And they’re only suspect one of three!”
“Let me talk to them,” says Keine. “I’m a known quantity and I can be firm with people.”
“Ooooh noooo~” you say, your undulating voice barely suggesting a dark chuckle. “It’s time to do what I should’ve done in the first place.”
Keine, walking alongside, regards you suspiciously.
“Meaning if they give me any more sally-port-politics I’m gonna put the fear of magic into ‘em.”
“You... you’re going to threaten him?” breathes Wriggle’s husband. “But-!”
“No, no,” you say soothingly.
“Oh, good.” Yuki says.
“I’m going to levitate him about three hundred feet up. Then I will threaten him,” you elucidate with barbed cheerfulness.
“You will do no such thing!” Keine gasps.
“Watch me,” you say coldly.
“Watch your tone, young man!” Keine barks with primal timbre. You notice Yuki and Wriggle duck reflexively. “Why don’t you just slow down for a second?” she continues more gently. “You’re still rattled-”
You spin around so fast that Keine nearly crashes into you. “Rattled?” you wheeze with taught rage. “I killed a dragon big enough ‘t use that gazebo as a footstool and you think it... rattled me?”
“It almost killed you,” Keine states firmly.
Instant frustration at Keine’s wagonload of stupid... stupidness expands in your chest, and you rear back to tell her off good and proper.
“Nuh!” you say eloquently, then try to fit defiance, anger and conviction into one glare.
Keine looks over her shoulder at the others. “We’re getting ahead of ourselves. Duke, would you fill in Yuki and Wriggle?” Receiving a nod from the Archon, Keine looks back at you.
“Come.” The schoolteacher seizes your arm powerfully and fairly drags you behind a mostly-intact hedge until she finds another bench. She nods sharply at it.
As you wither under Keine’s steely gaze you suddenly recall that this woman headbutts children.
A bit huffily, but you sit.
Keine crouches slightly to your eye level, proffering upturned palms. “Gimme.” You favor her with a puzzled look and she quirks her mouth in annoyance. “Hands, you dink.”
Expecting more hakutaku hocus-pocus, you reach for her hands – which she jerks away, leaving you hanging. It takes a long, fatal moment to realize her aim.
“Shaking,” she says knowingly.
“Bull,” you say primly, hands gripping your knees and safely immobilized.
She sits on the bench next to you and waits silently.
“... just that, whatchamacallit, adrenal secretions-”
“That what they call it here? Yeah. That stuff. Leaving the system and all.”
Keine nods. “Probably. Happens to everyone.”
“Just need a moment, let it subside. Probably gone already.”
“Yep,” Keine says, still nodding. “And you’re a terrible liar.”
“... hasn’t happened in years.”
“Yeah,” you admit in a voice almost as small as you feel. “Used to get’im all the time. Hardened up, though. Didn’t feel like this after I wasted ‘ol Loffo, that’s for sure.”
“Didn’t you say something ‘bout preparing for that battle for weeks? Airships, allies, plan-making, all that? And it was personal, too. That’s quite different from a sudden ambush by a mindless killer.”
“More then that,” you admit. “I almost did die, Keine. I was about two seconds from...”
From being crushed to death. Smashed flat. Ribcage snapping as it collapsed, organs bursting in the dark, the airless dark-
An involuntary shudder goes through you.
“Well, if you hadn’t unloaded on it just then, I’d be dead.”
Keine steals your hand, squeezing gently. “When I realized you were under that thing, I...” she swallows. “I...”
“Yes, like my heart was-”
“What? Oh!” Keine releases your hand abruptly and glances away, embarrased.
“It’s not just the close call,” you say, flexing your hand to get a little blood back in it. “That thing was dangerous. Terrifyingly powerful.” You bite your lip, brooding over possibilities. There’s not many, and they’re all bad. “I know that spell; or one very similar. Animate Objects. Gods grant it to their clerics, where I come from.”
Keine looks quizzical. “Well, Gensokyo is on a rather different level then where you come from. You know that well enough. Of course it was more powerful.”
You shake your head. “Keine... to animate something that large is just within the grasp of a cleric who could match me. If I duplicated that spell with a Limited Wish, that’s about what I could manage. Except it wouldn’t be able to fly, it wouldn’t be warded against physical damage, it wouldn’t have tremorsense, which I’m certain that thing did...”
“You are always on about how magic here is much different then what you’re used to,” Keine points out.
“That wasn’t energy streams or love-lasers. That was just like the magic I’m used to, a complex spell achieving a complex effect. Even across dimensions, energy tends to be pretty constant; even magical energy. Trust me when I say this: whoever made that thing is damned powerful.
“Can you be more exact?”
“Easily twice my abilities. There might be one such mage in every millennium; the stuff of legends.
Keine’s face is blank. “And this someone just tried to kill us.”
“Yeah, pretty much.”
A long, uncomfortable silence follows. You’d be happy for obigitory cricketsong, even.
“Teacher! Hey, Teacher! We’re all caught up now~” you hear Wriggle calling. “Where are you?”
Good enough. “Hey, Wriggle!” you call. “Over here!” A pair of antenna appear over the hedge, followed by Wriggle herself.
“There’s a ton of people coming to see what happened,” Wriggle informs you. “They’re actually coming into the garden, now.”
You peer up at the towering hedge, then down at Wriggle.
“My bugs,” she explains. “They go quiet when a lot of people start tromping around.”
Yuki and Duke round the corner of the hedge a little ways off, and Yuki comes sprinting forward. “Uh, Wriggle, I think those two are...” He pauses as Keine shoots him a brilliant smile. “Ah. Nevermind.”
Wriggle looks at him, confused, then back at you and Keine inquisitively.
“Those two,” Duke interjects, “are sitting still.”
“Right,” you say as you rise. “We’ve got an appointment to keep.”
>>144583 Don't forget the Artificer! This sort of thing is entirely possible for a high-level artificer, too; just make a Scroll of Animate Object followed by using your infusions to cast some buffs on it. I'm sure there are some armor qualities that grant flight and tremorsense.
You seem to have forgotten about the Archivist and the Spell-to-Power variant Erudite (though overlooking the second one is understandable).
Fun fact: high-level bards can cast Animate Objects as an arcane spell. Aside from the obvious significance of this, because it's arcane a properly trained Erudite can convert it to a psionic power.
Erudites can learn all of the powers on the psion/wilder list, and can learn powers of up to 8th level from psion discipline lists or even other classes' lists. Spell-to-power erudites can transform arcane spells of up to 8th level into psionic powers as noted above, and only lose their first-level bonus feat in exchange for this ability.
Archivists can learn any divine spell provided they study the right holy/unholy scriptures. They also have encyclopedic knowledge of supernatural creatures, and can paralyze such creatures with a single word.
The bard possibility would be hilarious if it were true, but an Archivist or Erudite perpetrator would be incredibly dangerous. They have all the flexibility of the wizard while using spell lists he's not familiar with.
Or anyone with correct scroll and enough ranks in "use magic device", or being capable of granting/casting wish/miracle, or epic level spellcaster that used seed:Animate(my pet theory), or deity, or etc.
Wizard said cleric because he knows that even low level clerics can animate things and thus it was most probable answer in his mind.
>>144644 Actually, they can fuck anything at pretty much any level (provided they have a good enough Charisma score of course). It's only past a certain level that they don't take Damage rolls when having sex with some of those more dangerous ladies, such as a few featured in that lovely and amusing picture you provided. The url in it led to some amusing finds, such as this little gem, and considering our conversation, along with the fact that it is in regards to Gensokyo, you just know that something like this had to have occured at least once.
Great work on this, Demetrious. Keep making those insanely quotable lines; they're beautiful. You are a great writer, and you should be very, very proud of your work (I'm decently certain that you are).
FEEL FREE TO IGNORE THE FOLLOWING
There are a few frequent minor grammar errors in your posts that annoy me to no end (Again, here's your free pass to ignore me).
It's/its: The apostrophe is standing in for the second "i" in "it is", making the contraction "it's". "Its" is the term used to show ownership. "It's nice that its grammar is correct."
Then/than: Then is a term used to describe time relationships, i.e. "This happens, then that happens." Than is used to compare nouns in quality or quantity. More than, prettier than, better than, rather than.
Again, feel free to ignore me because nitpicking over grammar is almost never welcomed unless one is in a writing class and peer-editing a paper or working on something about to be published (which I think your story is definitely worthy of).
>>144640 >Well I wasn't counting splat books, because like everything in those is broken.
I'm just going to assume that you're merely ignorant about 3.5e, and take the time to tell you that the most broken book in 3.5e, is Core. Not splats, though some exacerbate the issue.
This is an amazing story. Am incredibly happy to have found it when I did. And I must say I really love your little references (I've seen a Blade Runner, a Nightmare Before Christmas and a Discworld one. Possibly more, but my memory for details is always a bit rusty)
Grandmother's kidneys are failing; her place is a 5-hour drive away and I've spent all morning duct-taping my 20 year old Dodge back together for the drive. I'll be taking my cellular broadband card with me so I'll see what I can do late tonight/early tomorrow morning.
Speaking of family, after this has all blown over and we get our leaving party that lasts all night, we need to see keine whilst shitfaced yet still be sober enough to speak, sit down on top of a hill with a tree and spill our guts on our sad melancoly childhood, hear keine's then talk about how thrill seeking we did when youger didn't compare to the fun we had here.
Knowing us however, we may decide to just leave Keine behind with more than just "Memories" if you know what I mean.
Personally, I hope that when Kiene goes all were-hakutaku, he's like, "LOL that's it?", hugs her, and tells her stories about some of the lycanthropes he's fought and how inhuman they looked when they went all Furry.
Wriggle’s head pops out from behind an apple cart.
You crash and trip your way out from between two trash bins, swearing briskly.
“Welcome to my life,” Yuki grumbles, emerging from a side alley. “She’s been after me since the wedding. Always asking the most inappropriate questions, too.”
“Like how’s the sex?” Wriggle says brightly. She giggles merrily as Yuki chokes with mortification.
Keine sighs as she extracts herself from underneath a fried chicken stand. “That sounds like Aya, all right.”
“How has nobody barbecued her yet?” you grumble, brushing off your battered hat and reseating it on your head.
“Mokou’s come close a few times. And she’s also blindingly fast in the air.”
“She’d have to be,” you say, remembering your little ‘chat’ with Mokou in the study.
“Terrible shame about the garden,” Wriggle comments. “Pretty much flattened.”
“It is,” Keine says sadly. “And the gazebo I – well I mean, everyone liked that thing.” Yuki and Wriggle quirk brows at each other, but say nothing. You wonder if they weren’t intending to visit the gazebo themselves this afternoon. “Hey,” she continues, poking you. “When it jumped us, you shouted something about hot el-zees? What’s an elzee?”
You blink stupidly until the memory surfaces. “Oh. Oh! It’s an acronym. LZ. Landing Zone. More Gnome slang. Has a way of worming into your vocabulary.”
“Landing zone? Landing for what?”
Keine gently whacks you upside the head, and you raise your hands in mock surrender. “They’ve got this thingajigger they use for jumping out of airships, makes you float to earth. A... porashat?”
“Parachute,” Duke corrects you.
“Parachute,” you repeat. “Yeah, that. Looks a bit like a huge handkerchief with the corners tied to – oh hell, just look.” A quick Silent Image flickers into being over your palm, showing the device. “Same principle as that wispy thingy on dandelion seeds-”
“Pappus,” Yuki interjects helpfully.
“Er, right. Anyway, they’ve got entire squads of soldiers that jump out of airships with these things, and wherever they’re trying to land they call the landing zone.”
“What makes them hot?” Wriggle queries.
“When enemies are waiting on it to kill you as you float down.”
Keine nods as she studies your little illusion. “Sounds suicidal. Flying is some of the easiest magic there is.”
“It’s cost, mostly,” you explain. “Potions or rings of Feather Fall are prohibitively expensive for entire platoons, but more importantly a single alert spellcaster with Dispel Magic ready and... splat~” you splay your hands illustratively.
“Do they... work?” Keine asks dubiously, studying your image of the contraption.
“Quite well, actually. I still hate them. See, the handkerchief – er, canopy is folded into this backpack and a huge spring pops it out. To keep it from getting all balled up when it pops you’ve got to pack it just so. Basically, your life is dependent on your map-folding skills.”
Keine and Yuki grimace in unison.
“Pretty much my reaction,” you agree.
Wriggle merely looks confused. “I don’t get it,” she declares, taking an authoritative stance and peering up at you demandingly.
“GOTCHA!” somebody shouts from the alleyway on your right, and before anybody can react something lithe and long-legged bowls into Wriggle at high-speed. The tangle resolves itself into Nikki, grappling a flailing bug-girl tightly.
“Hey, how much was that bounty, again?” Nikki asks.
“That was cancelled ages ago!” Wriggle squeals, struggling to free herself.
“But your new cloak wasn’t. You still haven’t picked it up.”
“I was buuuusy~” Wriggle wails plaintively. Despite her best efforts, she can’t escape Nikki’s lap.
“Oh reeeeeeeealy,”” Nikki drawls, leering at Yuki, who starts blushing immediately.
“Wh-what are you doing here!?” he sputters at Nikki.
“Durrr,” she replies, rolling her eyes. “That commotion carried halfway across town. I was on my way home after checking it out.”
“How fortunate,” Keine comments. “Could you fetch your father for us? There’s been a bit of a fracas and we need to accelerate our timetable.”
Nikki releases Wriggle, who springs away, frowning. “Yeah, sure, he’s hiding under the counter with my crossbow, probably.” Bouncing to her feet, the girl lopes away down a shadowed Main Street.
“It’s not funny,” Wriggle admonishes Keine gravely, who’s trying to hide a smile.
“I had her in my class for years, remember? I’m entitled to slight bemusement, at least.”
Wriggle dusts off her clothes, staring into the middle distance with an air of offended dignity.
“Oh!” Keine exclaims. “Yuki, I almost forgot. I’m going to need somebody to cover my classes for a little while, if this business carries on any longer. Could you ask Akyuu...?”
“Eh. Heh. Yeah. I could ask...”
“What’s the matter?”
“Lady Akyuu is... she’s...” Yuki leans in and whispers something to Keine. The schoolteacher’s head whips around to glare at you.
“What did you do!?”
“Nothing! I didn’t do anything!” you object, wondering who the hell ‘Akyuu’ is.
“Oh, you’ve done a great deal,” Keine says testily. “It’s just a question of what you did to her.”
“I don’t even know who that is!”
“Purple hair, about this high, looks nine years old or so?
A brief, high-speed memory surfaces.
“Okay technically that wasn’t me-”
“Here we are,” you hear Nikki’s voice float down the street. The sun is fully down now, and the fading twilight is little help in the shadows of the buildings. Straining in the failing light, you can just make out Benson huffing his way down the narrow boardwalk.
“Guess the lamplighters are mooning around the park like every other dimwit,” Nikki grumbles, shimmying up the closest lamppost like a cat. She strikes a tindertwig on the pole and applies it to the lamp wick.
“What happened?” Benson asks immediately. “Was it the...?” Nikki fiddles with the lamp a bit, wiping soot off the glass panes, and Benson notices Yuki and Wriggle in the wider circle of light.
“What are they doing here!?” Benson demands, taking a step back.
“Dad,” Nikki sighs, sliding back down the pole. “It’s just Yuki and Wriggle.”
“I know who they are,” he asides. “What are they doing here.”
“C’mon I went to school with- ”
“This isn’t school!” he snaps. “I mean – this is – it’s –”
“Nevermind,” Wriggle says coldly. “We’ve got someplace to be. Yuki, come.” Spinning on her heel, cape fluttering dramatically, Wriggle strides away with regal poise.
“I’ll see what I can do about classes,” Yuki says to Keine mutedly before scampering after his wife.
“That was uncalled for,” Keine grates. “That girl’s done business with you. By the Dragon, how could you!?”
“This isn’t school,” Benson says agitatedly, “and it isn’t business, either! This is our necks!” You notice Benson’s sweating profusely in the nighttime air.
Keine stomps her foot, and the boardwalk splinters under her heel. “That’s no excuse for being so cruel and so unforgivably rude!” Benson, feeling the heat of her anger, backpedals a few steps.
You lay a hand on the schoolteachers shoulder in a restraining gesture. “He’s right,” you tell Keine. “I mean...” What you mean is he’s perfectly justified in being jumpy, he’s going to be a lot jumpier when he hears the full story, and if Keine gets stompy with him he’ll jump out of here faster then a Thri-Keen Monk with Haste.
Fortunately, you don’t need to tell her this. “Hmph,” she concedes, brushing off her dress. “You’re right to be suspicious, I suppose. After all, we were just attacked.”
“Attacked!?” Benson breathes and Nikki exclaims. “By what?”
You tell them. In detail.
Benson slumps boneless against the lamppost as you describe dancing the Structural Stomp with a killer Gazebo. Nikki stares at you, rapt.
“I saw what was left of it, burning,” Nikki says after you finish. “But I thought... you mean it really came alive...”
“But what were you doing in the park?” Benson says, mystified. He squints at you and Keine, and the corners of his mouth quirk slightly. “Were you two visiting the gazebo?”
“W-we were visiting you, blockhead!” Keine retorts hotly. “Meeting at sundown. You wanted a ‘history lesson,’ remember?”
“What? No! After moonrise! When you’ll be stronger, in case of... well, in case. I even wrote it down for you!” Benson says, turning to you. “What, you’re telling me a magician can’t read!?”
“Read this,” you retort, producing Benson’s scribbled missive.
He reads it.
“... I didn’t write this,” he says quietly, staring at the scrawled word sundown.
“I assumed you were trying to throw off any eavesdroppers,” you say.
“I didn’t write this,” Benson repeats, shaken.
“Actively lured and ambushed,” Nikki concludes. “You two were lucky to get away alive.
Two You slide your eyes around the street and just notice a bushy tail vanishing into the side alley. Duke has apparently resumed his original mission. Mission focused as usual, which is why you always bet on Duke.
“Somebody really, really, really doesn’t want us talking,” you say. “Which makes it even more important that we do talk. We should have our little meeting right now, Benson, before they send a damn house at us next.”
The rotund clothier shakes his head vigorously. “We can’t!”
“Oh yes we can.”
“No, no, it’s not just jawing,” he says derisively. “It’s... it’s time to show you where we do our real work.”
“So show us!”
“It’s in the park!” Benson wails. “It’s hidden right there in the park, and from what Nikki told me it’s swarming with people!”
“There’s ways around that. I can make us invisible, I can disguise us, there’s a dozen ways to-”
“NO!” Benson fairly barks. “Nikki spotted Marisa there, and Reimu, she’s guaranteed to have Suika in tow, and Alice will come trailing after Marisa like a lost puppy before she starts taking samples of that gazebo and everybody is going to be there! There’s no bloomin’ way in the blazing fires of hell you’re getting me to uncork our secrets in the middle of a ticker-tape parade!”
Your jaw grinds dangerously as you contemplate uncorking Benson’s balding noggin. All the secrets you need to know are within arms reach, wanting only for a light slamming to set them free. Anger sizzles in your blood and strains your skull, seeking release. Twenty-four hours of injuries and insults brought you tantalizingly close to answers, only to be thwarted by a cowardly tailor and a parade of gawking slack-jawed vapid hat-wearing tarts.
.... a parade.
“Nikki, you better fetch Benson. Meet us back here. I’ll have that crowd cleared out in twenty-five minutes.”
Keine furrows her brow. “You’re not going to do something rash, are you?”
“No fireballs, I promise. I’m just going to rain on their parade.”
>>145316 >Since some people take sense 2 to be the opposite of sense 1, it has been frequently criticized as a misuse. Instead, the use is pure hyperbole intended to gain emphasis, but it often appears in contexts where no additional emphasis is necessary.
I'm really going to seem like an idiot for asking this, but I just came from the TvTropes fanfic recs page and, having only been on this website for this story, was wondering if there was any way to subscribe to a story/an author, or if I have to manually check for updates?
>>146137 Click on where it says 'th' up above, and look for this thread. When you see it, there's going to be four icons. Hover your mouse over the second one and that one should be 'watch thread'. I've only used it once and it glitched for me, but it might be different for you.
Hmm, the cleric can probably use planar ally so Duke will have his own opponent. The creature summoned depends on the alignment of the cleric and his/her god so that should be interesting. Maybe the cleric will be Lawful Evil in contrast of the wizard's Chaotic Good alignment so he/she will summon a devil.
In the fathomless darkness that reigns between sunset and moonrise, mighty arcane energies surge and flow through the sky. Warmth pulses through your body as you weave the spell, letting you feel every eddy in two cubic miles of atmosphere as the magic balks at some passages and flows freely through others. Far above in the darkness, the air begins to stir.
Your body tries to jump away before your boots get the memo. “Dammit, Nikki!”
“Nikki, he’s spellcasting!” Keine’s voice admonishes from the darkness.
“Still!? He was casting when I left!”
“It’s a hard spell, now shush!” There’s a yelp of protest, and some scuffing sounds. “So you couldn’t find Yoshi?”
“Oh, she did,” Yoshi’s familiar drawl states from the darkness.
With a final word you complete the spell, a final surge of energy jolting through you to initiate the inevitable cascade of carefully arrayed elements. “There, done. No thanks to you,” you mutter in Nikki’s direction.
“What!" You should pay more attention.”
“For footsteps? Stalker or not I expected you’d light a torch, at least!”
“So did I,” Yoshi says dryly. “Better late then never, if you catch my drift.”
You speak a single word, and a dim glow fills the area, quite bright to your night-adjusted eyes. All present look around curiously.
“Neat!” Nikki says, gingerly reaching towards the faint dome of glowing light surrounding your party. “A light dome?”
“Leomunds Tiny Hut,” you clarify. “Light’s just for convenience. Let’s get going.”
“Light draws attention,” Yoshi says. “Besides, Nikki says there was a crowd to clear out?”
“Outside of the dome is opaque,” you tell him. “We can see out, they can’t see in. As for the crowd, well, give it ten minutes.”
Benson opens his mouth to object, but Keine’s sharp glare closes it. She makes a polite ‘you first’ guesture, and he reluctantly leads the way through the town towards the park. The ever-conservative Yoshi asks one or two questions about the Gazeebo incident, but otherwise remains silent.
The wind is kicking up by the time you reach the village outskirts, sudden gusts sending faint rainbow ripples over the Hut’s surface as they’re deflected. In the dark belly of the sky, something rumbles ominously. Everyone except you looks up warily, but say nothing.
The last houses give way to the tall grass of the valley floor, and you can finally make out the glow of many lights and the excited din of voices up ahead. Reeds in the roadside ditches are adding their own pitches as the wind continues to rise.
“I told you,” Benson says tightly. “About now they’ll be lugging ale casks from the tavern. Nice night for a party, no?”
“Well, it was,” you say casually, looking upwards. On cue, a rolling peal of thunder roars across the heavens.
“Heat lightning?” Yoshi ventures, without much conviction. The reeds start thrashing about as the wind starts blowing in earnest, but your companions feel nothing inside the magical dome.
“Like a force-field?” Benson marvels.
“Kind of,” you say. “It’s a force effect, but not a proper, solid force plane. Rather it’s a resistence barrier; still permeable but it deflects high winds, keeps out rain, insulates the interior, that kind of thing.”
“Can it stop arrows?” Keine asks, gingerly reaching through the dome to feel the wind on her hand.
“Too much force concentrated on too small an area, unfortunately. Wind is diffuse. The original spell can hold back anything up to a proper hurricane. Mine.... can just about handle a bad thunderstorm.”
“Original?” Keine says, still curiously poking at the force dome. “How’d you change it?”
“Original one can’t move. It’s actually a force sphere, you see – the other hemisphere passes through the ground.”
“So it anchors itself.”
“Indeed. I altered the sphere’s permeability so it’s strongest on top and weakens quickly as it approaches the hemisphere. The lower hemisphere is so weak it moves through the ground almost as easily as air. I had to weaken the sphere’s total integrity to manage it, though.”
Keine pinches her chin, looking thoughtful. “So force effects are limited to simple geometric shapes?”
You blink, suprised. “Yeah. Well no, but – yeah. I mean-”
“Difficulty scales with complexity?”
“Exactly. Force is just another evocation effect, like fire or electricity. A perfectly pure manifestation of energy.”
“Pure energy?” Keine says dubiously. “How does that differ from elemental energies?”
“In state. ‘Force’ is the force that keeps me from sinking into the ground right now, the innate potential of all things that defines it as seperate; gives it form and resis....” Keine has a look of polite confusion on her face.
You sigh, scratching your head as you think of a better way to frame things. Come to think of it, you don’t even know how Keine works her magic; she’s smart but she doesn’t think or talk like an arcanist.
“I had this same chat with Patchouli earlier... different forms of energy naturally manifest through particular states of matter. Heat through flame, cold through ice or wind, electricity through water, and so forth.” Keine nods thoughtfully. So far, so good. “Now imagine passing your hand through flame and feeling no heat, just the flames tickling your hand like windblown spiderwebs.”
Keine bites her lip thoughtfully. “How can flames exist without heat?”
You point at the dome. “How can a barrier exist without any tangible matter?”
Keine wrinkles her brow, confused. For a full second, even. Then she gasps. “Energy that forms intermaterial borders without the materiel!?” She cautiously presses her hand against the force dome and slowly pushes her palm through, grinning with the thrill of discovery. “Constructing pure borders with raw, unsupported energy – anything more complex then simple geometric shapes is exceedingly difficult, right?”
You blink. Keine just thought and talked a lot like an arcanist.
“You look like a teacher who just had his pupil finish the lesson,” Keine almost giggles.
You lean back a little and appraise her expression thoughtfully. “So that’s what I looked like at the Academy.”
“Gorgeous?” Keine guesses, flipping a lock of hair over her shoulder dramatically.
She grins, clearly pleased with herself. “You magicians all think you’ve got a monopoly on smarts.”
You notice Nikki, Benson and Yoshi all looking at Keine like the girl just grew horns and a tail or something.
“Get a roooom,” Nikki drawls, prompting her father to sputter at her. Yoshi just cuts you a wary look, the kind reserved for sheepherding lions, dapper orcs and other such improbabilities. Nikki and Benson are engaged in rapid, muttered argument.
“But da~ad!” Nikki objects loudly. “I’m right!”
The rest of the argument is lost in a rolling peal of thunder. A few seconds later a wall of torrential rain slams into the Hut, filling the small space with a diffuse drumbeat roar.
“I believe the ticker-tape parade... is cancelled,” you say, wishing for the shaded spectacles still sitting on your laboratory desk back home. Would’ve really cinched the moment.
Four pairs of eyes fix on you.
“You... did that?” Nikki says wonderously.
You stroke your chin pensively and study the rain-hammered ceiling as you consider.
“.... naaaah,” you conclude, dismissing the notion with a flip of your hand. “That’s just silly.”
Benson sighs a little shakily as he regards you anew. “I... guess I should’ve known.” Yoshi’s visage remains inscrutable, but his shrewd eyes are now locked on you.
Keine tilts her head slightly, frowning at you. She pokes you in the shoulder. “This is your idea of subtle?”
“Neither man nor youkai mucks about in a storm like this. And at night nobody can take note of the clouds, or lack thereof.”
“Remember where you are before you use words like ‘nobody’,” she chatizes you.
“It’s only two miles square,” you say dismissively. “Didn’t you say Remilia covered this whole demiplane with a red fog?”
“Right. I can’t even make it snow in summer.”
“How much can you do?” Yoshi inquires with calculated dissinterest. You can’t recall his profession being mentioned but by his dress and demenor you figure him a farmer, so his interest is hardly suprising.
“Only what’s possible for the season. Blizzards in winter, nice days in summer, that sort of thing. Lasts a day or so, on average.”
Yoshi asks something else, but it’s lost in an earsplitting blast of thunder that rattles your sternum and sends your party ducking involuntarily. You almost guilty for leaving Duke out in a tempest of your own devising, but bringing up the pyroclastic dragon incident earlier had been entirely uncalled for.
‘Leg it,’ indeed. You were just attacking in another direction, is all.
“This is a bad storm,” Nikki marvels as you start walking again. A steady trickle of soggy figures are visible through the shadows, backlit by the desperate few nursing weatherproof lanterns. You’re pretty sure you spot Alice scurrying with them, her little lantern-bearer in tow. “How bad a storm can you make?”
“Is spring tornado season around here?”
Nikki’s enthusiasm falters somewhat, and she falls silent. The dim lighting of the Hut’s interior doesn’t penetrate the opaque outer surface, allowing you unnoticed passage through the pre-moon murk. Boots sloshing in the mud, your party finally gains the destroyed garden, and you’re all soon tripping and stumbling over debris.
“Here,” Yoshi says, suddenly pausing by a toppled statue. “We need to move this.” You and Keine step forward and heave the thing upright, though you suspect Keine hardly needed the help.
“What’s your problem now?” Nikki humphs at you.
“This,” you say, pointing at the statue. Sculpted in finest epic style is what appears to be a battle-line peltast, his stance wide, fury in his eyes, taught strength in his throwing arm. Except his cocked arm grips a rock, not a javelin, and his armor is what appears to be-
“-a bathrobe,” you grumble. The sculptor even gave it a dramatic flutter. “Seriously. A rock chucker in a bathrobe is the-” you peer at the muddied inscription on the plinth – “-the ‘great liberator’?”
“That’s... a long story,” Keine says. “Most of the statues in the garden are of the more, ah, memorable outsiders that came passing through. Probably some of the oddest heroes you’ll ever find.”
You snort. “Ain’t got crud on dwarven freeholdings. You can’t imagine.”
“Right, the worst one was Shieldspikes, I think. My party stopped to buy some arrows or something. Every engraving in the entire damn stronghold features a dwarf choking a goblin to death with the legendary thong ‘The Furious Strangulation.’”
Keine squints at you supsiciously.
“No, seriously. Some craftsman had just finished his masterwork when a goblin thief tried to snatch it. I doubt anything here can top that.”
“Ought to show him the one with the bunny-shield,” Nikki says, smirking.
“... or not,” you say miserably.
“Aha.” You turn to find Yoshi kneeling on the ground, tugging on a large iron ring just lifted from the soaked grass. Benson and Nikki rush to assist, and together they heave a large rectangle of sod upwards, revealing a dark hole underneath. Yoshi fishes a long rod from the void, propping the rectangle up.
“Clever,” Keine admits, examining the door. It appears to be a thin steel cover with living sod laid overtop. Yoshi produces a small glass lantern from inside his volimnous jacket and lights it, revealing stone walls and stairs leading into the earth. He vanishes down the steps without a word. You let them proceed, and follow last, your Hut spell vanishing as you enter the earth.
The stairs don’t lead deep; cellar-depth at best. There’s just enough room at the bottom for everyone to crowd around a thick oaken door. Yoshi is struggling with a large iron key in the door’s lock.
“Dragon devour him, he must’ve changed it,” Yoshi grunts, uncharacteristically loquacious. “Riku, you narrow-minded rat bastard, next time I see you...”
You sigh, reach past him, and knock on the door a few times. “O’pah Sessami.” The lock clanks and clangs industriously before emitting a single crisp click.
“I understand locks,” you say mysteriously, twiddling your fingers in the air. Nikki rolls her eyes and pushes past you, shoving the heavy door wide. The familiar smell of old parchment and basements assaults you. Yoshi and Benson lead you in.
Flickering lamplight and magic’s glow reveal beautiful stonework with masterfully worked supporting arches obviously meant to support far more weight then they do. From that, and the mosaics in the floor you surmise you stand in the cellar of a long-vanished rich man’s home. The decent size of the place, as well as the clutter of laden tables and well-sealed wooden chests becomes apperent as your guides go ‘round cautiously lighting small lanterns with long tapers.
“This,” Benson says, sweeping his hand ‘round the place, “is the headquarters of The Society.”
>>146773 >wizard's expereince and skill being shown of so much
Yeah, he can control weather about a thousandth as well as the four-foot lolipire, customize a third-level spell and recognize a cellar when he sees it.
Am I missing something here? Was the mageek conversation to long or something? Do I need to have another Gazebo stomp him flat to make the point again? is intelligent and he uses big words sometimes, especially with his intellectual equal and friend because constant wizard swears are lazy as shit (I've been called out on this and rightly so. Among other things.)
So tl;dr requesting itemized list of suck. That goes for everybody, btw.
Why yes you are demetrious. You're missing some praise for your new update. Glad for the update and really enjoyed the wizanon/Keine interactions. Please keep up the good work and update quicker. Don't keep me waiting for more of this awesome story.
You cast Detect Magic, and almost immediately the crowded tables and sagging bookshelves light up with faint auras. A few of the objects on the tables have decently strong auras – a polished creekbed stone, an unusual-looking fighting knife with “J.B.” etched into the worn hilt, a small metal top – but by and large they’re nothing impressive.
“These are the finds I told you about,” Nikki says, eying the laden tables longingly.
“Collected over many years,” Yoshi says. “And at great cost.”
Conspiciously absent are bells, black books, candelabras, and the other common trademarks of necromantic ritutal. There isn’t even any tacky skull-candlestucks.
“These are just knick-knacks,” Yoshi says, removing a padlock from a huge oaken sea-chest in the corner. The heavy lid squeals open, revealing dozens of oilskin-wrapped books. “These are the real fruits of our sacrifices – knowledge.”
Yoshi reaches into the chest, sliding his hand along the back wall, and produces a large, thin package. He hands it to you. The oilskin falls away to reveal a well-worn sketchbook.
“What!?” Keine reaches out and snatches the book from your hands, examining it with disbelief as she gently traces her hands over the cover. Gingerly, she flips it open. Page after page reveals vivid sketches of plants, trees, animals. Keine begins flipping faster, her face intent, until she stops abruptly.
It’s a sketch of her. Sitting on a blanket in a sunny field, with the particular awkwardness of somebody conciously trying to relax. She’s smiling uncertainly at the artist, but brilliantly, the sketch seeming to bound and leap with her vitality.
Keine traces the edge of her sketch gently with a fingertip. “I haven’t seen this in a long time,” she says pensively, sadness brimming in her eyes.
“You knew him?” Benson says, suprised.
“Once. A long time ago,” Keine says. She pinches a stack of pages, about to flip to the latter half of the sketchbook, and thinks better of it, slapping it closed and thrusting it at Benson. “I- I’ve already seen the rest of it. Thank you.”
Benson shoots Yoshi the satisfied smirk of a man who’s just won a five-silver bet, and the inscrutable farmer concedes with a slight roll of the shoulders. It would seem any lingering doubts they had about the were-hakutaku have been sufficiently disspelled. Gently accepting the sketchbook, Nikki rewraps it in oilcloth. “He was the first, all that time ago. Others have been emulating him ever since.”
“And this is what became of all his curiosity,” Keine says sadly, eying the funny fighting knife amongst the magical items. “Anyway! You said you wanted a history lesson?” she says, a bit forced.
“Indeed.” Yoshi dives into the sea chest again and produces a single thick tome. “I was wondering if you could tell us anything about this. We’ve never been able to understand it.”
Keine accepts the book, sneezing as a cloud of dust billows from the unraveling oilskin. She wipes off the cover and cracks it open, tilting the old vellum towards the nearest lamp for lighting. There’s silence for several minutes as she studies the book. Benson, Yoshi and Nikki seem to lean in eagerly as Keine’s frown deepens.
“This... some sort of play? Or a dramatic reading, that’s more accurate. Not for any storyteller, though, you’d have to be a scholar just to pronounce some of the names in these tales. Or to properly invoke the lineages of these deities where it calls for it.”
You tap Keine on the shoulder. She doesn’t seem to notice.
“Some of these names I’ve only seen in Akyuu’s older texts, even. But it’s just a string of references; it’s like a handbill written for somebody who already knew most of this. Like me, for instance. Hence my play interpretation. Of course it could be – what? Oh, here,” she says exasperatedly as your shoulder-tapping accelerates in tempo. She hands you the book.
You flip through the tough old vellum pages swiftly. You can’t make heads or tails of religious or historical tales from a plane so distant from your own, but the format is familar and the arcane notations would be much the same...
You rise from your studies, honestly suprised. “I’ll be damned. They’re incantations.”
Keine cocks her head thoughfully, clearly racking her memory. “Okay, what?”
You chuff with amusement, turning the book around curiously. “Incantations. Ghetto magic.”
“We’ve got a book of ghetto magic?” Nikki says, crestfallen.
“Technically, ritual magic,” you admit. “But it really is just ghetto spellcasting. Several, even dozens of people work together, each one performing one small part of the spell. ‘Course they still need to actually know something pretaining to that part...”
“History lessons,” Keine finishes.
“What does it do?” Benson asks eagerly.
“Dunno, I’ll need the other parts of it to tell. Where are they?”
“We don’t have any others.”
Keine crosses her arms. “You’re lying like a rug.”
“And you,” Yoshi says calmly, “are standing in our innermost sanctum.”
The atmosphere in the cloistered basement freezes solid. Goosebumps break out as adreneline floods your body.
“I’ve jumped through every hoop you’ve held up,” you grate, “and a few hours ago it almost got me killed. It’s extremely important we see those books, and my patience just ran out.”
Yoshi stares you down for a long moment and you stare right back-
Something clatters, somebody falls, a canine snarls. Yoshi’s drawing a dagger –
-so you draw a wand.
“DROP IT!” you hear Benson snarl, the portly little shopkeeper’s timidness completely absent as he points a small hand crossbow at your throat.
“Nikki!” You see the hand crossbow waver.
Benson’s staring at Duke, who’s currently shifted into a truly gigantic wolf and is snarling foam all over a prone Nikki’s chest. The funny-looking knife from the table is lying on the flagstones nearby.
“This room is warded against magic, in case you didn’t notice,” Yoshi says camly, eyes cold and calculating as he fingers the hilt of his dagger.
Keine casually plucks a hooded lantern off a wall hanger. Opening it, she crushes the burning candle out wtih languid malice, then grips both ends of the lantern and twists it, iron squealing and glass shattering as the schoolteacher destroys it with her bare hands.
“I don’t think she gives a shit,” Nikki observes from the floor.
“Now we can do this the easy way..” -iron squeals as Keine crushes it almost flat between her palms- “Or we can do this the really easy way.”
It’s quiet enough to hear two gulps and one canine whimper.
Benson slowly lowers his little crossbow. Keine glances over her shoulder at Duke, who slinks back from Nikki to settle under a table.
“Now, let’s see those books, shall we?” Keine says cheerfully, tossing away the crushed lantern to clang off the flagstones. She frowns at you and Yoshi. “And put those away.”
You and Yoshi nod hastily as you pocket your respective weapons.
Benson scurries across the room and reveals an ingeniously hidden wall safe behind a brickwork facade. From the interior, he produces a few more tomes and carts them over to you.
“How’d you know we had more?” Nikki asks, dusting herself off and giving Duke a dirty look.
“Nothing else stored in the chest was that dusty. It was kind of obvious it was recently moved. And you lot are exceptionally jumpy, so I figured it wouldn’t take much to flush you out.”
Nikki looks rather put out at that. “I was just saving their paranoid asses!”
“Respect your elders!” Keine, Yoshi and Benson all scold at once. Nikki retorts with the kind of masterful eye-roll only teenage girls can muster.
You and Keine flip through the incantation tomes together for several minutes as the three conspirators move to the other end of the room. A few minutes later, you realize why when Duke pads over to your table and sits underneath it. Keine doesn’t seem to notice, but you can’t ignore the wet-dog miasma floating up from under the table. You duck your head to glare at Duke past the table-edge.
He slaps his wet tail against the flagstones once and glares right back. Deal with it.
Keine claps her book shut authoritatively. “They couldn’t have done it,” she concludes.
“Eh? Right. Right,” you reply, trying not to breathe. “Even if it did have anything to do with ghosts I doubt a group subdivided into ‘hunters’ and ‘farmers’ could decipher this stuff.”
“Ghosts? What ghosts!?” Nikki calls across the room eagerly.
“Cat feet and tengu ears,” Keine grumbles. “I suppose we’ve some explaining to do.”
A half-hour later you, Keine and Duke emerge from the old cellar, the Society’s tomes safely stowed in your magical pocket. You dismissed your thunderstorm several minutes ago, but a light drizzle persists as the storm fades.
“Well, that went well, considering,” Keine says.
“Well?” you say moodily. “We’ve wasted two days on a wild ghost chase.” You eye the wet grass, looking for flowers to stomp on.
“It never hurts to make allies.”
“Even if we decipher that hedge-witch crap for them, it won’t count for much, will it? Not here, not in Gensokyo. And we made just as many enemies, remember – Riku and his buddies.”
“I doubt they’ll want to borrow trouble any more then Yoshi and Benson,” Keine replies. “They all want to keep their heads under the reeds.”
“Radar,” you correct her. “He said ‘radar.’ Whatever the hell that is.”
You sigh, looking up at the clearing sky. The moon has risen at last; its lambent radience lighting your way home. Through the fleeing clouds shine the brilliance of the starscape; an alien sky with foreign constellations.
You’re a long way from home.
It feels like the world just stopped spinning and you didn’t realize how fast it’d been going till the halt flung you off. Unseen giants stalking the night. Vampires with indecipherable motives. Secret societies plumbing ancient forests for the thinnest of magical chances against beings with godlike power, aided by the cleric of a goddess in a child’s body. An undead princess and a half-phantom ghost-wrangler. An unimagninably powerful animated object sent against you by an unfathomably powerful and completely unknown foe. An unknown magician scrying upon you, and of course the ghost attack, which hasn’t been repeated.
And Keine. Throughout it all, Keine.
You clench your jaw in sheer frustration. The last day’s been like a canoe trip through river rapids; turbulent, violent and dangerous but with too few choices to make; riding the river but not changing its course. Not that you didn’t have a chance to step back and decipher the forces moving under the events in Gensokyo, but every time you tried there was a certain schoolteacher occupying your thoughts instead.
Your molars grind just thinking about it. This isn’t you, this isn’t you at all.
You jump as a hand falls on your shoulder.
“Wha? Uh. No,” you lie, turning to Keine. The moonlight dotes upon her hair as always, but her face is shadowed, only her eyes catching the meager illumination as she examines you.
“You’re a really, really bad liar,” she says affectionately, squeezing your shoulder. You wince automatically, but your shoulder remains intact, unlike the iron lantern she crushed with the same hand not thirty minutes ago.
Then there’s the sketchbook from that cellar, the diary and illustration in her study, what she said about her precious hat as she flung it out of her room, hell, even that headbutt she gave Cirno when the little squirt tried to say something about her hakutaku transformation... the greatest mystery in Gensokyo might be right under your nose.
And the most you’ve done to explore them in the past few days has been to beat up evil littel girls. Satisfying, but hardly informative. Perhaps you should drop by a tavern with Keine, get a few drinks into her, get her talking...
>>147167 That's what he's asking. Fuck, the Statue in the Bathrobe is a reference to the MC in "Do the right thing." Many of the characters we've seen in the town are direct references to characters from stories such as "In The Forest, A Dancing Light". So asking if the notebook is a reference to another story remains a valid question.
But my logic behind >>147147 is that while getting her liquored up would be more willing to talk, there's the aftermath which I don't think she'd be happy about. It's better to get it out of her without getting her pissed off after the fact.
I dunno. Niggas gettin mad as hell about a damn nametag is just silly to me. If you wanna post with a name then do it.
but then again there's no reason for people to know/care about who you are, so using nametags usually draws away from the story cause niggas be gettin caught up in bitching/arguments with particular people they don't like.
>>147326 >>147325 I haven't replied since what'shisface posted so whatever but as a rule: If you don't need a name (if you're writing a story generally) then just don't use one because the only thing you're going to accomplish is annoying people.
So just don't.
Same thing goes for emoticons; They are not necessary, they annoy people and the culture of this type of board is to not use them.
>>147327 Pretty much this, Unless you're one of the very few loved/tolerated writers on this site (Treia for example, as I dont see anyone bitching whenever he posts) then its fine-ish. However if you're like that fag in /gensokyo/ who instead of just dropping the trip, just cries over it and shits up a thread.
That or it depends if anon's on his period or not.