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Street Carp.
There’s always that lurch.
That sinking feeling that you get when you’re suspended over the water for the shortest period of time. Yet the sudden sensation of having your organs enter free fall always makes it last much longer than it should.

Throughout the entire ferry ride you’ve been keeping your stomach braced to prevent it. However, it does not ameliorate the motion sickness spreading through your lower stomach; threatening to rise to your throat with each wave.

The sudden realization that the same ferry will be taking at least another hour according to the boatman brings no consolation. Three day leave from the base in Okinawa, and yet you’re only given the one day of reprieve. After two years of service the government finally deactivated you for completing your tour, and here you are having your rice strewn around next to your intestines. Nothing to offer repose other than the events of the previous day.

“No planes, only boat,” was what the wiry boatman with an accent mollified by a lifetime in Okinawa claimed. Apparently there were no immediate airports within the city, despite its larger-than-your-average-Japanese-town size.

“I can get you there fast, faster than all Okinawa-faster than American military boats,” he purported as he raised a row of golden coffins in his mouth. Full set too, top and bottom. And it just so happened that he was standing in such a way that the light off the sun reflected off his teeth and into your eyes. Fantastic.

‘Fuck that I’m in the army’

“Sure, you do that, but I’m in the army”.

A quizzical look ran across his face but was all too quickly replaced by that same grin which was already starting to irk me.

“Then it’ll be much easier for me since tanks cannot float!”

The ebullient man went him into a chortling fit of laughter. Almost so awkward that it made you want to head back. But still…This was first leave after a year of dry humping a rifle in close proximity to a camel’s ass.

“Alright,” he was collecting himself from his earlier bout of laughter, “so you can take me there right?”

“Of course; two hour boat ride-¥1000”. Boats. I hate them. Made all the more painful by the fact that I’m paying for this with [bold]my[/bold] share of the gomment’s money. Half the reason I went for the army instead of the marines.

‘ “Oh man that was a shitty 12 hour flight, how about you?” ’
‘ “It was a shitty six month boat ride.” Marines.

‘Well Fuck.’

I kept myself fairly composed, though I highly doubt I had to-seeing as how despite the ferry being suited for 10-15 bodies I was the only passenger. The ride to the seemingly plot-friendly city was-luckily-calm and was mildly enjoyable with the temperate weather of the east. The ferry itself was unremarkable for the most part. There were seven life preservers on either side of the chipped wooden vessel. The paint was clearly coming off at any given part you looked at and the motor made it all but impossible to drown out the roar of the pseudo-dinghy. At the helm was the wiry captain of the meager ship; happily trying to stir discourse which you managed to, somehow, keep to a minimum.
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Stepping off the boat onto the concrete of the dock you cast a quick glance at your surroundings. Nothing but empty dock, a few unattended boats of similar size and shape-though arguably in better condition-all lined up on either end of the dock. A dirt road meandered past the dock into a tunnel of forest.

All the while the captain worked precariously to latch the ferry onto the dock with a flayed hemp rope.

“City is two miles into forest. Follow trail, you can’t get lost.” He looked up.

‘Again with the teeth.’

“How long are you dropping anchor for?”

A pensive look that hid the teeth for moment, “1 day to visit, I stay with mother’s friend. Be back here at 1 tomorrow.” You look at your wrist. 27 glorious hours away from rednecks and testosterone.

The entrance into the city was simple enough of itself. Towers of concrete and electronic wiring quickly fill your line of sight, growing as day begins to give way to creeping tendrils of umbra. Neon light replaces sunlight as you hail down the closest taxi cab you can find. However before you can even vocalize your desire to be taken to a hotel, a scooter clips off the left rearview mirror. The driver was out and halfway down the block before I registered that he just performed a bailout in a moving vehicle and sprinted 80 yards with the efficiency of the surliest of drill sergeant.

‘The Japanese are crazy’

As you exit the cab to wait for the driver to come back from unleashing octopi hell on the scooter junkie, a coterie of haughty looking businessmen exit an adjacent building. One wore decorous business attire, which made the contrast to his companion all the more apparent. He wore a white suit with a Hawaiian shirt exposed. Words in acrid writing traced the sleeves of his jacket. They seemed to be heatedly discussing a business deal of sorts. Must be well respected too, if the path that they’re clearing through crowds of Japanese is any indication.

‘These guys could be yakuza’Oh, it seems you’ve caught their momentary ire.

“And look”, announced the better dressed of the two, “we’re nice enough to hire foreigners to our illustrious organization, and they repay us by lazing about on public property.” Bastard said it in perfect English just to make sure you caught the insult.

“You! Cabbie!” followed by his buddy’s remark they both turn to look straight at you. He can’t think you're..."Have you forgotten your own language? I'm talking to you!”

Holding back the rancor and desire to introduce the prick to combatives level III, you decide turn this little joke around. Thinking back to the gold enamels you put on your best shit eating grin and respond-

"Ahh, so sorry, so sorry. You like leave now?” Are you really going to effectively kidnap these unsuspecting douches? You always thought of yourself as the good guy, but... it’s been a long year. Your patience just isn’t what it used to be. You figure you’ll just drive a few blocks in a random direction then park and walk off...

“No shit we want to leave! Why else would we be here talking to a retarded fetus like you?” And there she goes, that last shred of guilt. “Of course, right this way...”

“Honestly I don’t know why boss Jurusaki hires these immigrants.”

“ I heard his grandmother was raped by Americans in the war.”

“*sigh*” it can’t be helped then. A little dumb muscle could help our side of the deal.”


If only it had been these tools shooting at you in Iraqistan, you wouldn’t have needed those 3 months of ptsd therapy. Ahh, war...Everything was so much realer, when you can see death and what it really means to be alive. It makes you want to-------BANG-------!!!

‘The fuck?I haven’t gotten to that part yet.’

You turn to find that a sedan is ramming furiously against the left side of your ‘borrowed’ taxi; The passenger pointing a pistol at the steering wheel, and your rifle and kevlar are locked up in the armory a hundred miles away...

Survival checks: FUBAR
Civilians count…high,
Crowed with scant line of retreat only way is forward.

But there’s always the ton of death you’ve been driving around illegally for the past 10 minutes.....

lower speed, driver hasn’t pulled out his weapon go left, upcoming alley, two fired-two registered for contact, enter, to the left, oncoming traffik, break right, and out.

Stopping after being cutoff from oncoming traffik, the pursuers lose sight of you. After turning a few times in seemingly random location to make possible detection nigh impossible you park the car in a secluded back alley and turn off the car. Looks like you came out of it with only two bullet holes off the left backlight.


Wait, you forgot about them. They really are yakuza, and whats more is that theyre the reason for your near-suicidal extrication. Death will be swift like the wi-
“W-we owe you our lives!"
‘Come again?’
In an astounding plot twist the two yakuza you’d been transporting, swear a blood-oath of camaraderie in the car using your Smith&Wesson knife-bought using government money-with you and then proceeded to take you to one of their nightclubs.

The pitcher goes round again, again, again…again……..again….aga- “ Oy! Kuroi-san!” The voice of the fatter yakuza-the suit- cuts through the stars in your eyelids; which you were failing to expunge from your vision. “You like parties Gaijin-san?” A round of laughter from the small confluence of women taking place by the yakuza’s side. “At my place the parties never stop!”

‘Awfully friendly now, aren’t we?’

But you’re too far down the rabbit hole to bailout now. “I could hang some more…”

A flurry of headlights neon lights and you’re thrust into a crowded room with flashing lasers. Stars suffocated by smoke everywhere you look, closing your eyes gives you a headache. Sense becoming dull and giving way to the sweet nectar sitting in your liver.
The bass is all you feel anymore. The lasers taking your thoughts from wall to wall. The colors blend into a blinding paste. Then suddenly, pink. A cloud of pink springs up from below you. “Hi!”

“Uh, hi.” Nice comeback, kid.
“Dance with me.” There’s no question in that anywhere. This is further proven when you find yourself being flung around the dance floor by a bright pink pixie. The movements only make the scene all the more incoherent. Pink overtaking your eyes, undulations and vibrations all around. The cold of losing replaced by heat replaced by covers. The flavor of the alcohol turned soporific and no more came of you…
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Further perusal of the events draws only a headache. You awoke in a strange, yet well furnished, hotel room. Room in disarray with liquor and the reminiscence of cocktails of undisclosed alcohol and pills. Checking the drawer reveals the contents of your pockets, a flask you carry on your person at any given time, and a small bag. But upon closer inspection of your possessions reveals a small cache of doujins, artwork, and an assortment of other similar goodies deeper inside. Score.

The top of the drawer catches your eye. 12:12. The captain leaves at 1. Time to move. After going into the bathroom to relieve yourself-and finding that a mess-with a potted plant completing the décor in the toilet you find a message in (is that comic sans?)glittered vermillion lipstick on the mirror of the bathroom.

“Later cowboy

‘No name’

You jot the number with the complementary notepad and pen (unchained to the coffee table too!) and survey the scene of carnage around you. Smeared windows with unknown substances blocking most of your view of the skyline of what you assume to be the city overlooking the sea. Crippled furniture lay in the corner of the room, furniture which you would never be able to afford on your salary. And all this to satiate your otaku-pandering-circle jerking personality. It almost seems like the room is shooting for pathos; trying to make you do the right thing and restore order. Almost.

Escape from guilt hell proved challenging, but it happened. And you made it back to the captain with minimal yakuza interference and 10 minutes to boot.

‘Wonder what happened to them?’ Ehh they’re yakuza, they’re capable.

Calling him to your attention brings about an obdurate look that, although agreeable with his physiognomy, seemed unbecoming of him.

“We cannot leave today, bad winds in air flowing west-west to high coral beds”

Looking up reveled the same temperate weather you enjoyed throughout the day before. The crystalline waters contrasted by the opaque concrete reflected the clear blue floating above it. Bad omen, this type of situation forewarns of disaster. And yet…

‘I need to get back’ Your leave ends in 7 hours and you need at least three to get back to the Okinawa base.

“We need to go today”
“It is not possible”
“what will it take?”
“How much do you value your life” You pause for a second and think it over.
“Not much, now if you stop bitching I’ll triple your payment.” A short string of what your somewhat limited translating skills catch to be swears on your eternal soul and he begins untiring the flayed rope.

Stepping onto the boat and sitting down you notice that the captain has taken off his marred with mar t-shirt and sandals; apparently planning to man the boat barefoot and shirtless. What’s more the guy was sporting war wounds; streaking across from his upper shoulder blade, splintering into a flurry of short cuts melding into one another-ending a short ways up from his right hip.

‘Sword and shrapnel.’ Oh shit, Captain’s a vet. Who would’ve thought?
Turning to look at you one last time with an almost sentimental expression, he flashes a trademark smile and starts the motor…

As predicted the rain came. Hard. The tremulous sea gave wave to obsidian waves in the face of creeping umbrage in the sky.

The captain stood in an inexorable pose of fortitude at the helm, steering the ferry against the waves. Unfortunately the alcohol and what you can barely make out as morphine make you lose last night’s dinner. ‘Tastes salty.’ Can’t tell if it’s from the fish or the water. Grabbing hold of the railing you turn to the right in time to spot razors of water lashing out around the captain. Engulfing him and dropping him into the sea in an instant. Raw instinct kicks in and you find yourself scrambling to the steering wheel. Two thirds of the way in your met with the feeling of concrete slamming into your side; sending you flying onto the railing and knocking your breath. The boat shifts to capsize and you lose you hold and fall into the torrents beneath…

New to the site, not so new with story-weaving though this is our first Touhou-related work. While this story will be worked into by us, there will be occasions options when deemed appropriate.
Well, hi and welcome to the site. Most attempts of collaboration work between authors have ended rather poorly, so let's see how you will do.

Also, [bold] here is actually [b][/b]. I suggest you read >>/gensokyo/6052 and the FAQ for more info. http://www.touhou-project.com/news.php?p=faq

Also, don't feel discouraged if you seem to have a low number of readers/commenters. Most stories start small, specially if you are an unkown author, and even more if you don't provide options/choices/voting time. With time, if the story isn't just bad, you will attract your own fans. However, until now, the only successful story with only a few choices given to Anon was Palingenesia, 3 or 4 choices IIRC,but that was a godly story.
you forgot that part of despite all false beliefs, /th/ is not the best place to post a story as it's often glutted with mediocre stories that often die fast.

This would have been much better off in /others/

I say this story has decent promise, provided it gets to the touhou-related stuff soon, though you could have done more to develop the MC as he has too much personality to be an "anon"
Incidentally, in the message on the mirror, the phone number is made with symbols gotten by pressing shift plus a number and would translate to 345-4321-3422.
>you could have done more to develop the MC
>he has too much personality to be an "anon"
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“Do you blackout often?”

“Not as much as I used to.” you answer with an arm covering your eyes.

“…and was this before or after the binge drinking Vinnie?” You shuffle your position to stretch your legs across the couch.

“During.” ‘Wonder who told him the name.’

“Oh? And how did you manage that?” A hint of…surprise?


“And how many were there?”

“5 in total, me included”

“No previous affiliation?”


“Did it happen in their presence?”

“Twice, but none of them would’ve remembered it if they could” The scratch of a pencil.

“Any personal sentiments?”

“Some…” A sigh.

“Alright then. I guess from here on the essential’s should suffice, personally I wouldn’t care much for the extraneous in your life regardless. On top of that I know how hard you’re willing to go to fight this.” A pause…there was shuffle of paper and the scrape of a chair on a wooden surface. “With a track record like yours I’m only mildly surprised that they haven’t put you down. What’s more I hear that you even went so far as to call a superior, and I quote, ‘genital-caressing, Siberian man-whore.’ If you were trying to put on a show to impress me, then you’ll have to try harder-perhaps some filet mignon first.”

‘Hmmph’ You chuckle inwards. ‘I’ve nary seen a cruder bastard short of 50 feet within a liquor store. “It was cock monger”

“ Well color me impressed then,” undiluted sarcasm. “Well?”
“Alright then…”


A piercing ring pervaded your senses and made you momentarily dumb. The scene begins to unravel slowly before you. God’s hand came crashing through the front window at over 3,000 feet per second into the driver’s seat. A 50. cal round right into Marrakech. The blow made his sternum quiver, spreading throughout his torso and reaching its zenith in the form of a jolt forward. As he recoiled from the shock of nigh-instant death, the bullet continued its inexorable charge; straight through the seat and into the gullet of Amos. Glass from the shattered window flying towards you; searching for your eyes. In response, your arms moved up to cover your vision of their own accord.

“CONTACT LEFT, CONTACT LEFT!” Kat’s words bounce around torpidly in your head as the last of the shards hit your arm. You lower your arms to survey the scene once more. Marrakech is leaning forward, head drooped and leaning forward; stopped only by his seat belt. The humvee, now intractable, careens off to the right of the road; scraping by dangerously close to the stalls and their now-fleeing merchants. The ceases its rondo of terror by crashing into a nearby building. You lurch forward and grunt as your seat belt slams you back into your seat with a force that all but leaves a mark on your chest. The crash makes you suddenly aware of how constricting the vest and belt are. How hot the arid wasteland just a scant inches of reinforced steel away from you was. Hands shaking, you fumble a bit with your seatbelt. Unlatching the restraint you turn to Amos; eyes wandering to his stomach. The bullet came in from an angle that came close to grazing his spine. 2 inches away from death. It’s impossible to tell if it’s still in there or not. Looking up into his eyes grants you a bewildered gaze into your own. An ineffable expression crossed his face; the sorts that are given to cartoon character deer to terrorize kids into practicing proper fire safety.

A second round came, and then a third, eventually melding into a continuous stream of metallic grinding above you. Perkins had collected himself and began shooting indiscriminately into where he presumed the shot came from.

‘He’s drawing fire.’ With haste you remove Amos’s seatbelt and grab a hold of his arm and begin to extricate yourselves.


Two shots rang distinguished themselves above Perkin’s assault; boring two holes into the back of the humvee. Without a second thought you arrest your rifle and eject both yourself and Amos from the vehicle. A snag on your boot leaves you careening towards the graveled sand below. The unexpected lurch forward made your intestines move against your back, creating an abhorrent sensation in your stomach. Your arms still occupied inside of the humvee. You try and brace yourself for the impact of the earth but instead find your vision sequestered by an inexplicable umbrage sifting from the sand.

The ground beneath did not draw any closer. You lay floating in mid-air; staring at the darkening ground before you. The minuscule chunks of earth: gravel, sand, and dirt, all began to blur into one another at a slug’s pace. In an effort to fix this you attempt to blink but find your eyelids too rigid to move. The darkening shades beneath you now grew darker and darker; melding into a solitary, slick mist that suffocated your senses. Within a few second a sound arrests your attention. It came no louder than a whisper at first, but made itself apparent to you within the subsequent seconds of the umbrage blinding you.

Water. The sound of water in you ears swirling around and becoming louder and louder by the second. The sound turns to sensation as wetness embraces every inch of your being. Your limbs give response and reaching out in front of you with both arms you find yourself elated at having control of your body. However, the joy of escaping quadriplegicism is a short lived one. A short recollection of events makes the pressure of millions of gallons of water all the heavier. The darkness becomes much more incoherent as the sensation of being swung around in perpetual freefall leaves you dazed as it becomes impossible to differentiate up from down.

The unpredictable and inexorable currents of water toss you around like with fervor. Flailing your arms does little to better the situation. The vertigo kicks in at this point. The taste of salt, strain of moving under the weight of millions of gallons of water, no manner of distinguishing where to the surface is. Your brain registers this and translates it into a lone thought:

‘Here in a violent freefall, deprived of oxygen. This is how I’m to die.’

Despite this you still continue to struggle; around you in hopes of finding something to extricate you. Despite your stalwart will to keep your mouth sealed, the adrenaline is beginning to wear off. It was all you could to prevent death from seeping into your lungs. You begin to feel yourself loose consciousnesses as your body writhes in pain; crying out for oxygen.

‘Something’s not right…’

The currents have stopped thrashing you to and fro. You your open your eyes with the caution of a newborn pup only to be met the piercing sting of sodium chloride and fish piss. But in the brief moment that your vision recuperated you noticed something. The benighted water had softened, turning instead into a murky gray. However, the sting of the sea salt made you rethink opening your eyes to see if you could take a look around. You decide that it wouldn’t make much difference in the scant remaining moments of your life.

~Slowly drifting into the abyss~
Left an island and was made a bitch
Now I’m left for dead
The bottom of the sea as my bedstead~

Never was too good at this. And all you wanted to be as a kid was a drugged up rock star with a woman on every limb. Mostly succeeded too…Mostly. A jerk…Another…The currents have picked up again and toss you with a renewed vigor to an undisclosed location. Consciousness begins to slip once more as you’re heaved violently upwards. Your lower back breaks free of the water first. Following the trajectory of your spine, your legs and eventually your torso follows suit. You you’re your eyes and inhale for the first time in what could only be described as dangling within purgatory for several lifespans. The water in your eyes creates a haze that makes it difficult to discern what is around you; added on to the fact that your flying through the air at dangerous speeds doesn’t help either. Your body is still flipping in midair as you trap the air with a sealed mouth and brace your bruised ribcage for a sensation that makes slamming into concrete sound all too alluring.


With luck, the crash doesn’t knock you breath out this time despite drawing a groan from deep inside your diaphragm. You realize that you’re being carried in a single direction and reaching around you can scrape what feels like muddy sand. A river? Then the surface is right above your head. You break for the surface once more.


You suck in, trying to regain your breath, but end up swallowing some water as a result. You try to keep your head above water but find the current much too indiscriminate and inexorable in its course to succeed and are thrice thrown under. Trying to keep above the water won’t work, so you resolve to grab hold of something-anything to pull you out. You move towards where you believe the bottom of the river is and- there- the murky contents of the river bottom flowing through your fingers. You desperately thrust your hands into the riverbed and claw for something, anything, to grab. Strings of underwater fauna cling to your arms and acrid stones, hidden just beneath the muck, ravage your palms and fingers. As you recoil in pain, the speed of the river picks up again. The current began ramming you indiscriminately onto the jagged bottom.

After a few rounds of rinse-and-repeat you are ejected into a wide expanse of water. Sinking into the much deeper depths, you feel pockets of air brushing against your face on their way to the surface. You turn upwards and break surface.


You allow yourself a few gulps of air before looking around for shore-There! You swim diagonal to the current, limbs struggling from oxygen deprivation and the river rape. Finally you reach earth once more, albeit muddy, but land nonetheless. Dragging yourself away from the edge you turn onto your back and allow yourself to catch your breath.

‘Hah, hah…Fuck, I’m alive.’ The sensation of accomplishment diffused across your body; you triumphed over water. Yet you don’t dare open your eyes until you were sure that your pulse had reached a stable rhythm.

The first thing that strikes you is the night sky. A world lit into itself, penetrated by an array of small explosions of light wherever you looked. A shiver sends a tremor that awakens your aches.

‘fff-damnit, why is it so fucking cold?’ you ponder as you lift your torn body into an upright position. ‘It couldn’t have been later mid April or early May-tops. So why does it feel like late October? ACU’s are wet, but there’s no way a spring night can get this cold outside of Russia.’ Trying to take off the jacket, you feel a sharp stab of pain in your left arm. A red stain begins to decant; spreading across the width of your forearm. Delicately pealing back the sleeve you find a small jagged rock lodged a good half inch into your fore arm. The sight of it made you involuntarily flinch despite your careful measures to avoid touching it. “…That’s gotta go.”
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Shifting your body left you begin to pray to whatever deity seems most appropriate given the circumstances. Poseidon? Shiva? John Stuart Mill? Maybe. ‘Yes! Oh thank you JSM!’ A rapturous look runs across your face as you find your Smith and Wesson knife still in its holster. Pulling it out, you quickly peruse it for any breaks or chips. Finding none, you begin to prepare yourself what’s about to come. Knife still in hand, you bring your *shirt* to your mouth and cut off a makeshift gauze-rag. Gingerly setting your arm onto your lap you grind your teeth against your shirt and begin cutting into the wound with a makeshift lever…

‘Taking it out was easy enough, tying a shirt onto an open flesh wound with one hand and your mouth, not so much.’ Now sitting a few meters away from your previous spot you begin to asses just what the hell is going on. ‘Ok so, crazy night with yakuza and bubblegum rave chicks with neon makeup and a penchant for incestual relations if her choice in doujins is any indication. Got it. Leave to go to Okinawa. So far so good. Then the Japanese rip-off of the Titanic. Problematic but ok. And now?’

A mirror of water reflecting the stars and moon stretched out before you. Light waves are washing against a line of mud and gravel separating the water from the beds of clovers above. On either side of you the line extending past your field of vision and into the umbra. You could scarce make out the edge of the (lake?) curving away to unknown stretches of land. What’s more, you were completely lost with scant idea of where you might be.

You had taken off your ACU’s and wrung out your clothes as well as you could yet, much to your chagrin, it did not ameliorate neither the pain in your right arm nor the cold chill of the night. However, you did discover three things doing so facts while doing so. Your Zippo was still fully operational, though you can’t vouch for the longevity of either the wick or the fuel. You can no longer taste the salt of the ocean and your Berretta was still in its holster. Best you could do to dry it of was blow into the firing compartment and dry off the magazine as well as you could.

‘Damn, even with the Zippo I can’t see if it’s dry enough to shoot.’ 50/50% maybe that the first shot fires? Probably won’t need it, but your paranoia has never stopped you before.

Although you’re glad that the water where you cut yourself was not imbued with salt, it raises some strange questions. Lost the bag of goodies and your phone about as useful as a paperweight right now. Not so sure about your mp3 either, screens cracked and water leaked through; sloshing around in a little bubble on the other side…taunting you. To make matter’s worse, you have water trapped in your ear-and it isn’t coming out…

The light from the waxing crescent moon provides scant light with which to see but you managed to traverse a ways along the edge of the lake before deciding that the lake could continue like this for a few miles without any distinguishable landmark. However, along the way something strange caught your ear. Patches of clovers and grass crunched under your boots. Every patch of clovers in the grass was frosted over- almost to the point of being frozen solid. This kept going for a while before leading you into a secluded path surrounding by large amorphous shrubs and decaying trees. You had decided to head back and look around some more before heading off in the first direction that you found. And perhaps it’s a good thing you did. Dense woodland some 100 meters from where you swan ashore; blending into the darkness. From a distance, the dark figures of the trees appear as a looming dark mass that could have very well been some distant horizon. The trees were spread out enough to allow you to weave between them but even so traversing through a forest in low light without stumbling around like a drunken Swedish hooker in high heels is going to be a challenge. And of course there always the popular ‘lay on your back until either sunrise or help arrives’. Though given your situation you can’t be sure of when either will come.

So now you sit, opening and closing your Zippo; staring out into the darkness of the lake which can only be distinguished as water by the reflection of the moon on the surface.

‘Decisions, decisions’

[] Pursue the frosted path of clovers through the shrubs.
[] Continue along the edge of the lake.
[] (Under) the river and through the woods.
[] Lay down and continue to mess with the Zippo.

Second post and we have already become the authors we despise: the ones that get sidetracked by life. Mix of finals and lack of internet connection in the same period of time delayed this unnecessarily long. Updates are weekly and will be posted friday-sunday. While one update is guaranteed per week, we may update earlier if we have the time.

I gave some thought as to whether or not to post in /others/ but ultimately decided that the pretext of the story that it would be better suited for /th/.As for development, in due time. If this were a short story I would have fleshed it out much more. This is not a short story however, and must not be treated as such. There is a proper time and place for all development. Just sit back and enjoy the escapism.
[x] Continue along the edge of the lake.
[X] Edge of the forest. Start a small campfire and dry yourself off. Wait for sunrise.
[x] Continue along the edge of the lake.

I'm interested
[x] Continue along the edge of the lake.
Condolences for unnecessary bolding, still getting used to this cursedly strict BBS code. Hopefully there will be no more foul ups from this point forth. Called for walking along the edge.
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[] Continue along the edge of the lake.

Well, seeing as you slept through those classes on wilderness survival, you’ve no idea the SOP for washed ashore on random island. Alrigth let’s see, what’s the quickest way to extricate yourself? ‘Walk away from it?’ Bingo. Thus you decide to do what any able bodied moron would in your situation, you just start walking along the edge of the lake. . Destination? Closer to civilzationNot where you were. Sounds easy enough.

Thus two hours of walking through mud and grass later…

Your arm’s throbbing. Shouldn’t be doing that and you’ve accomplished nothing but tiring yourself out. But hey, you’re not in that one spot anymore. No, now you’re about 3 ½ miles out from there. And in science that’s called progress…

Still no sign of civilization, or food, or a bed… to say, you’re getting further and further from your comfort zone. It begins to seep in just how goddamn dark it was. Fuck, the phobias are kicking in. The creeping dark begins to seep in and encroach into your peripherals. Spend enough time in the dark and it gets to you, then you start dancing ballet in tights.’ ‘That it does. Well, the one guy was in the cave so that might be a pre-requisite for dancing to some Tchaikovsky.’ perhaps.

‘Still…’ you continue from your inanition. ‘I’d torture a priest just to get some cigarettes.’ Would’nt you do that regardless? ‘True, but I’d be getting paid cigarettes for doing it this time.’ But who provides the cigarettes?


Well shit, first you start talking to yourself says.

“You bloody SHITBAG!”, Yogi TOLD you how pissed he was. ‘Well shit captain.’

In a blind frenzy you jump and give yogi a good kick in the knife bladder and proceed to book it like you’ve never booked it before.


And that fucker just seems more pissed, he’s couldn’t be…. *THUMP-THUMP-THUMP*, yup he’s chasing you down. Adrenaline and clarity run through your viens as you begin to ponder your current lot in life.

You, a well-oiled tool of American badassery, after surviving eighteen years in dismal shithole you grew up in, basic training, and two tours of “Iraqistan”, are about to be done in by some giant Japanese TALKING FUCKING BEAR!

‘Gods, why you do this thing?’ Because we know what you do to yourself when you think no one’s watching…’Dammit Freud.’

Yogi’s gaining and FAST. You can swear you feel his pant in the chilled skin on your back; his drool dripping down your neck… ‘This is not how I’m going to die.’ Not exactly heroic or interesting being mauled by a bear. Well,the fact that it’s a talking bear slightly makes up for it. But then again how would people know?

And now he draws in, ready to pounce. You mentally brace yourself for whatever’s to come and-THUMP!* Oh SHI- wait a second, just one thump?

You swear you heard one loud thump and now nothing. Glancing over your shoulder, you see….a pile of yogi ‘bout 20m back.’ You slow down to a stop. ‘Did the blood loss catch up to him?’ You squint to see against the dark for twitching as your begin to return with careful steps. Nothing, Yogi’s still as a rock. You think of counting your lucky stars and leaving the hopefully dead lummox where he lies…but fuck, you liked that knife, and you see no other meat just lying around so…
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“Oh? Not going to keep running back to the village?” A soft female voice whispers from fuck if you know where.

“Or perhaps you’re thinking of gloating over this beast’s bad luck?” Where the hell? Ah, just behind the Yogi lump. A woman in red stands twirling an umbrella as you finally reach the corpse. “Or do you think you killed him?”, She asks with a honey dipped chuckle oozing with contempt. Despite the fact that you stand about half a head taller than her, every spoken work makes you feel as if she’s staring down at you. Better break the ice.

“Did you see a knife lying around by any chance?” You off handedly ask as you start looking around yogi’s corpse? *kick* Yeah, corpse.

You figure that you’ve most likely been hallucinating the last few minutes. I mean a talking bear, and now some flannel lady pops out of nowhere claiming SHE killed said talking bear. Aye, son, you’ve fucking lost it. But real, or not, maybe miss mirage saw Smitt&Wiley. You really want your knife back, and unless she happens to deliver meat or meat paraphernalia, you’re really going to try to eat whatever the hell this thing really is.

“Oh, do you mean this?” She says as she bends down and tosses your pocket pal back to you.

‘Yay! Peace of mind, GET!’ Smitty retrieved, you feel slightly more grounded in this delusional experience. You stare at the “woman”, you rub your eyes and refocus your eyes. What do you know, she’s still there. And she’s attractive. Though the low light from the moon only reveals the general contour of her figure you cane still make out her lascivious figure. The scent of dew on roses drifts into your nostrils, sending a chill down your spine simply from how nice she smells. ‘My, oh my how I hope you are real.’

“Don’t see youkai often? Or just not women?” She totally called you on staring, seems real enough…for now.

“The hell’s a yokai?” You ask back. If you’re tripping balls, at least you’ve got company that appeals to your senses.

She considers you for a moment, looking at you up and down before meeting your eyes “Of course you are” She said sotto voce…5…10 seconds pass by.


“You all look the same.” She finally responds.

“Come again?”

“Humans. You all look the same when thrown into the threshold of your instincts, moments away from death. You all have that same terror-stricken look.” Well damn that’s an insult if you’ve ever heard one.

“I wasn’t scared. It’s just that was a fricken bear. I know how to choose my fights.” Cool guy line, also GET. In the presence of any woman, imaginary or otherwise, your libido will not allow you to forsake your tough guy persona.

“Of course you weren’t.” That chuckle again, “And you did fight admirably considering your…disadvantage.” And now she’s smiling at you. For some reason it makes you uncomfortable. There’s a glow in her eyes that gives off a red hue. Hard to tell under the moonlight but you could swear they were a piercing red.

“But” she continues “I don’t dislike a man unafraid of overwhelming odds.” She responds with just the right amount of huskiness. You almost like where this is going, almost. There’s still the matter at hand though.

“Well then. Anyways I heard you mention civilization earlier? As much as it burns a searing hole into my pride, I’m a bit lost.” Admitting you’re lost: -500 Man Points, but you can’t just sit around god knows where forever. You got shit to do. Got to find some way back to post before…fuck what day is it even? Who knows how long you were lost at sea. Hell of an excuse though. Might even be able to goad some favors too if I play my cards right.

“Are you not enjoying my company?”, and she gives you the kind of demure pout that makes you want to…. “Course I am, beautiful women and beautiful nights complement each other beautifully. All aesthetically pleasing things are naturally pleaseaing to the human senses so it’s only being natural for me to be taken aback by your radiance.” You respond, now fully in horndog mode, complete with pantsu melting smirk.

“But this guy,” you give the yogi pile another kick, “is detracting from the ambience.” Smooth way to avoid the fact that if you don’t eat something in the next hour, Yogi WILL be dinner, company or no.

“Naturally. Come along then, let’s get you where you belong.” She begins to move towards the tree line.

“Ah, you know I didn’t catch your name.” Now that the survival issue has been mostly solved, the reproductive one has your full attention.

“I don’t believe I’ve granted you the pleasure of knowing.” She turns her head to throw you another unnerving smile. Goddamnit! Pretty girls should not make you nervous! You’re Vinny the fucking Vinister of cool! Calm yourself. Think. That’s right; don’t the Japanese have some thing about giving ones name before asking another’s? Assuming you’re still in Japan that is

“I’m Vinyard. Close associates refer to me as Vinny however.” You catch your smooth before she can throw you off balance again.

Turning forward she stops and speaks once more before beginning her walk to the treeline.

“Kazami. Kazami Yuuka.”
Well, being thrown in the deep end right off the bat is fine too. Then again, it might not be so bad. As long as we stay polite we shouldn't end up dead.
>With dry stomachs and wet mouths the start to close in for the feed.
>It what he says.

And that’s only on the technical side of things, and only in this update. In the previous one, there was “swan ashore” and more. And as of style, we’ve got such gems as *Scrtch**Scrtsh*, – 500 man points , She said sotto voce…5…10 seconds pass by, and pantsu-melting smirk.

You have all the potential to become the next J to the E. You don’t want to end up like J to the E, find his story in archives and see for yourself.

So here is what you do:
- you proofread more, then print out your text and slowly read it aloud to yourself before posting.
- you cut out all the stupid bullshit. -500 man points is stupid bullshit.
- you minimize all the artistic bullshit. “sotto voce” and “crevices of your hand” is artistic bullshit. If you absolutely must include it, think ten times before putting in something like that.
- you give us choices in each and every update. This is CyOA site, not a story site, the story site is fanfiction.net. There was no excuse for not giving us choices here. What choices, you ask? Here:

[ ] Flirt with Yuuka.
[ ] Bring up a topic of the talking bear.
[ ] “So, why do you carry an open parasol at night?”
[ ] “You mentioned “humans” as if it is something unusual. Aren’t we all human?”
[ ] Fuck no, this lady is weird. Find the way to escape.
[ ] Her scent is intoxicating. You can’t control yourself anymore. Tackle her from behind and rape her.
[ ] Your arm is still throbbing. Examine it.
[ ] Oh hey, a butterfly!

Sage for barely contained rage.
>- you give us choices in each and every update. This is CyOA site, not a story site,
Normal stories are not unwelcome here. Palingenesia is proof of that.

that said, I dropped this story after two paragraphs and your post is not making me regret that decision

I agree with him except for the part where he says choices are mandatory. They're not.

What parts exactly are bullshit is largely a matter of personal opinion, so use your own judgement and possibly that of others.

As for proofreading, I don't think you actually have to print it out, but do what he said or get someone from IRC to do it. Ideally both, but one should do.
I've never once heard this story was CYOA-exclusive. Hell, if that was the case, You wouldn't even be reading this thread as it'd be breaking rules that dont exist. And this is as CYOA, Just there isnt a choice every update. Like say, Lion's story for example.
>Like say, Lion's story for example.

Bad example. The lach of choices has only been happening in the end.
Stop complaining about choices and start complaining about the shitty writing.
Thanks for the criticism. Admittedly this update wasn't done under optimal conditions and its blatantly obvious how rushed it is now that I look it over; most of the crap writing resulted from being unable to mix two differing writing styles effectively in a short period of time. Regardless, we'll make sure not to crank out an update just to get one in.

I can't, haven't read it yet.
[x] “So, why do you carry an open parasol at night?”
Man, first that SMT story, now this?

/th/ is a sad, sad place.
Actually, I found the '-500 Manpoints' bit to be entertaining. And whether or not the author decides to give us choices at the end of the post shouldn't be an issue until the Mods intervene. I don't see any mods, do you?

VC, please do continue. While it did come off as a bit disjointed in the beginning, I am rather enjoying it now. Just please try and keep an eye out for the more blatant grammar and spelling errors... as well as the occasional bit of bad code.
Welp, seems like we have driven him off the site.
I can deal with that.

And nothing of value was lost.
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Walking through a small opening in the otherwise dense foliage, presumably where she came out from, she leads you onto a well-trodden path no wider than the breadth of your chest. The thin rays of moonlight peeking through the canopy above give you the bare minimum of light needed to keep your eyes on her. However, the surrounding tree trunks made it all the more cumbersome as they obfuscated the area around you; subsequently making it all but impossible to see farther than ten feet in any given direction.

‘Hope Yogi didn’t have any relatives’. Of course he di-wait, wasn’t boo-boo his cousin or something? No idea. If one were to show, you would end up royally butchered as not only is there no place to run, but you doubt you could weave through trees faster than a bear. ‘Not necessarily faster than the bear, but the woman on the other hand…’

Casting the thought aside for the moment, you look down at your feet to ensure that no upturned roots were creeping across the path, waiting for you to make an ass of yourself. While you checked the path at routine intervals for said reason, she apparently had no trouble navigating in the low light of the forest; maintaining the same brisk speed leading you god knows where.

Shortly after a few moments of navigating under branches and bushes, the slim path gave way to a larger dirt road. Without the leaves and branches obstructing your view, you make out the faintest signs of sunrise approaching due east. The modicum of light from the sun along with the remaining traces of moonlight allows you to clearly see the road in front of you; pockmarked with hoof prints indicative of many years of use. The road branches to the right and runs straight away into a forest for a hundred yards, then, curving, can no longer be seen. To the left lies a clear cut path to a cut in the forest which you can only assume leads back to the lake.

As you momentarily pause to look around, Yuuka brusquely turns right and continues her course. Aside from entering a short trot to catch her, staying close to her did not prove difficult; however, every attempt you made to close the distance between the two of you was in vain. Whenever you increased your speed, she impetuously matched it within a second; keeping herself two meters in front and off to your left at all times. Her open parasol blocked your view of everything sans the lower half of her plaid shirt and skirt. She has yet to say anything since announcing her name, and your mind is drawing up nothing but blanks for some mindless banter; I mean what else can you do? This awkward silence is making you sweat. It may just be from trying to keep up with her.

‘Noted. Might as well wing it’.

“So do you often enjoy going out walking, in the woods, at night?” Casual remark, not too personal, not too distant.

“…” No response.

You wait… Nothing. Just when you’re about to try to follow it up with another remark (or an apology, you’re not sure which) she responds:

“Occasionally when the weather is nice and the nocturnal fauna are in season.” You release an inaudible sigh, (you just realized that you were holding your breath) for no apparent reason. Well, the gardener image strangely fits; probably on account of the plaid and parasol. But, that’s just pointless right now.

“And the parasol?” Now that there’s no longer the looming silence you find the conversation flowing much more freely.

“Old habits die hard.” She answers almost immediately this time. “You forget to differentiate between night and day when you take it with you whenever you leave the house. What’s more,” she continues, “this is worth more than you could ever hope to acquire in your life so it’s only natural to have a keen disposition to have it close at hand at all times.”

‘Is the inside of that thing encrusted with rubies or something?’ You can hardly imagine a parasol being worth that much. Well then again your probably aren’t worth that much. You did basically sell yourself out to the army so long as food, shelter and money were provided for you. The rest was a bonus, but you digress; she’s most likely referring to the sentimental value of it (or she’s just cleverly insulting you). ‘Hopefully the former’.

“What about wild animals?” Your thoughts travel back to the carcass you left back at the lake. Still sounds pretty good to eat right about now, hopefully you won’t have to resort to it if she’s really leading you back to civilization. But of course there’s always the off chance that she is leading you to your untimely doom. Her motives remain about as equivocal as they were when you first met her. For all you know she could be a part of a deranged and xenophobic religious cult hell-bent on purging all outsiders from their territory. ‘Perfectly plausible’.

“I never have any problems with them. In the few cases which I’ve run into them I found them quite docile, subservient in most cases.” Her response grounds your thoughts once more.


“What about our cockney-accented friend back there?” You motion behind you despite knowing that she can’t see you. “By my standards that just about hits the exact opposite of docile.”


“Ummm, it’s a manner of speech common to the proletariat of London. It’s sort of like talking with a rhythmic slang in your voice.”

“I don’t believe I’ve heard anyone talk in that manner.”

“But you did hear him talk right?” There’s no way you had a hallucination that vivid without drugs.

“It’s not uncommon for yokai to speak. However, the one back there was far too infantile to entertain speech or verbal communication more sophisticated than that of an animal.”

‘Wait, so it’s common for bears to talk around here? Are we near a landfill or something?’ regardless she keeps bringing up that word. Yokai. Is that some type of indigenous bear that can be found talking to park rangers when mature? ‘I need to stop making references to that show.’

You begin to ask what she means when she, once more, impulsively stops; effectively shutting you up before a sound left your lips.

“And this is where we part ways.”

“Wait, right here? In the middle of the road? I recall you mentioning somewhere where I could get sustenance and hopefully some antiseptics.” You chide as you raise your wounded arm.

Without moving so much as an inch from her spot she merely responds, “just keep walking and you’ll eventually get there.” She takes a step, but just before she lifts her foot again she pauses and turns. The fringed edges of her parasol lift with the sudden movement and reveal her face once more. In this light there’s no mistaking it. Two large red irises, with lips to match, stare back at you; unwavering and unblinking.

“One last thing,” she remarks as a coy smile begins to creep across her features. “I believe that you’re in debt to me now.” Wait. What? “However, in light of certain circumstances I must be getting back. I suggest you visit my house sometime to work out a means of, let’s say, working it off.”

Dumbstruck, you blink twice and open your mouth only to realize that you haven’t formed a proper response yet and what ends up coming out is something along the lines of:

“And where’s that-might be exactly?”

She runs her fingers along the shaft of the umbrella.

“The garden of the sun, ask around for directions when you get settled in.”

‘Settled in?’

“Maybe when I’m fr-”

“And” her tone changes, betraying an airs of…malice?

“I really do implore you to visit; I wouldn’t want this trifling ordeal weighing down on your conscious otherwise.” And with that she reentered the forest, leaving you in daze; confused and with a warm trickle of water running down from your ear onto your neck.
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Following her advice (not like you had any other options to choose from) you continue down the path. You can only hope at this point that you haven’t been of base for more than two days, but that’s highly unlikely. You try and focus on walking lest the anxiety starts to wear you down more than physical exertion. You’ve only been walking for about a quarter of an hour but you can feel the strain of this entire ordeal making your senses dull and movements torpid. The pain in you’re arm, however, continues to flare up; a kind of electricity that pulses up and down with each step you take.

However, you don’t pay much attention to it. That woman left you feeling wary; not physically, as most women are wont to, but mentally. At no point throughout your exchange did she once let you above her eyebrows, and for a scant few seconds when she did. No way to describe her other than ‘an unnerving woman’. What’s more is she expects you to go visit her, otherwise….otherwise what?

“Hah,” you let out a sigh. All of this shit piling up is starting to wear you down. Just need to get back to base and your troubles will (hopefully) mitigate. ‘Heh, yeah right. If anything I’m more likely to get chewed up and torn to pieces there than running around in the forest.’ Sad part is you’re only half joking.

Stopping twice to catch your breath and tighten your makeshift gauze, you continue along the path for what you can only throw a wild guess as another 30 minutes. By now the sun had properly stationed itself in the sky; properly illuminating the road and revitalizing the wildlife. Birds and insects fought over one another to make themselves heard in a restless swarm of irritating chirps and bird calls.

Annoying at first, it turns into irritating quickly, and then insufferable. Luckliy, you don’t have to endure it much longer as you make out a…. ‘A giant wooden fence…’ No other manner of describing the sight in front of you can capture the ridiculousness of it. A towering palisade erected in a manner that cut off the road in front and stretched itself indefinitely through the trees. Certainly by civilization she didn’t mean this? When she said village you assumed she meant a small city or isolated town, not an actual feudal encampment.

Standing in front of the gate you guesstimated each log to be 6 meters in height, with some lashed together halfway up each other so make that 8 or 9 meters at least. Woven cords of nylon and rope lashed around the timber at odd intervals. You assume that this thing was probably a great deal thick as it was high. Too thick for anything short of an excavator or tank to break through.

‘Doubt knocking would be of any help,’ you muse as you try to figure out a way of getting in. Just when the desperation and pain starts to kick in and you’re about to resort to shouting, you hear the telltale groan of aged wood lumbering open. ‘Finally.’

Taking a few steps back so as to not get struck by the encroaching gate, you catch your first glimpse of the “encampment”. Of course by this point you could all but call it that. Antiquated low rise buildings were lined adjacent to one another and spread back farther than you could readily make out.

Two men, began moving towards you, exiting the village. Well, that’s not completely true. You could make out the one closest to you as a man in his mid to late thirties. The one trailing right behind him was a late-adolescent teenager, presumably his son. Both sported haggard clothing that matched the antediluvian scene behind them and carried fishing equipment.

Caught up in a conversation spoken too soft and too rapidly for you to make out, the two continue walking towards you, unawares of your presence. The son is the first to spot you and stops dead in his tracks, causing his father to look back and question him. Nodding towards you, the father takes notice of you.

Two…Three…Seven. Seven seconds pass as he stares you down with a saturnine face. For reasons unknown you dare not break eye contact with this man. Then, without warning or looking away, he barks a string of words to his son and continues walking past you. You look back at their receding figures and find the son looking back at you. When he notices your stare, he turns away and walks alongside his father.

Turning around, you look at the gates a final time and walk into the village. After clearing your way past the gates, they begin to close behind you. Turning around you notice two men, stationed as guards, closing the gates. To your surprise they accomplish this simply by pushing them shut. What’s more is that aren’t exerting themselves, from what you can tell anyways, that much. The inside of the gate reveals an intricate mechanism of wood and stone meant to barricade the doors. The two men take hold of a massive crank adorned with rope and begin winding the barricade into action. Slabs of stone lined up against the door set themselves snugly into place with crisscrossing beams of wood.

Upon the completion of the task the two turn towards you. You notice that either man has a sword sheathed at his side, with a spear on the wall behind either man. You chuckle at the sight. ‘Feels just like a real medieval village. Wonder if they’re a bunch of diehard actors that always stay in character.’ You always did enjoy messing with those people as a kid. You recall visiting renaissance fairs and taking great joy in pointing out who was wearing a digital watch. Yeah, you were a little shit as a kid.

‘No, time to dick around though’. Right, getting back to base is top priority right now.

“Hey, I was wondering if you coul-”.

“Go speak with Kiene,” The man to your left answers before you could finish your question. “We don’t have time to entertain outsiders.” Wow, what dicks. Much as you’d love to tell them off you need to keep things moving.


The same one who answered you earlier groans and dismisses you with a, “figure it out yourself.”

“Thank you kindly assholes.” You respond and start walking away from them. You hear them say something behind your back but fail to make it out. ‘Been through far too much shit to put up with this’.

You hurry along the streets for some one else to ask. You can’t find anyone within the direct vicinity so you turn into the closest street you find.

Up ahead, you notice an aged man sitting a rug. Upon closer inspection you could make out several metal plates, toothbrushes, pins and various knickknacks that you would find in a dollar store spread out before him. Up close, you notice that his head is hanging down, as if he’s sleeping. Just as you get within a few meters of him he looks up at you foggy eyes, blinks once and smiles.

“Care to buy something?” He questions as he turns motions to his wares.

“Um, not at the moment.” Your response causes his features to become downtrodden. “I wanted to know where I could find someone called ‘Keine’?”

He closes his eyes for a second and responds, “Ah, She would normally be at the school around this time, but today is a day off.” The man muses and assumes a contemplative stare. “You might find her at her house.”

He gives you quick directions on how to get there and you thank him, leaving him with the 500 yen coin you had lying around in the pocket of your pants. A bemused looks crosses his face as takes the coin. Oh well.

Following his directions you make your way through the streets of the village, and come onto the statue he pointed out as the sole landmark for making your way to her house. ‘An oversized statue of a dragon.’ It stood on a plaza made entirely of cobbled stone, well more like it was the plaza itself. It seems as if the entire purpose of the plaza was to house the thing. A large decorous head stared back down at you; adorned with various precious minerals and had two large blue orbs for eyes.

Awestruck as it leaves you, you don’t have time to appreciate the scenery. There is an urgent need to focus. ‘Path on the right from under the front of the statue’. By this point you’ve noticed more and more people filling the streets. Most just passing by with a quick glance, but a few others stopped to stare. Caked in mud and still slightly wet with bruises and cuts lining your arms and face. Nothing too far out of the ordinary for you. You’re thankful for the lack of sand if anything. They say once it get in it never comes out for a reason. That shit finds its way into the deepest creases of your clothes and body.

Lost in thought, you barely recognize the house the man described for you until its dead in front of you. Vineyard and small garden out in front of a small one and a half story house. You say this because it literally looks like the architect to add just added half a floor with a balcony onto of the building. You step up to knock at the wooden sliding door…
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For someone who apparently has the day off this Keine woman still seems pretty busy. It’s been about an hour since she told you to come in and sit, but she’s still just scribbling away at some scrolls across the table. Despite the fact that she did let you use the bathroom to clean yourself up and fed you (fish and rice, nice portions to boot), hell she even gave you a new shirt after wrapping your arm up with some real gauze. You probably should take her suggestion of getting that checked out by a real doctor soon. Grateful as you are, you still have Just as you start thinking of other plans to get back to American-ish civilization; she finally remembers you’re there.

“Oh, I’m so sorry! I’d almost forgotten you were there.” ‘If you had that would’ve been impressive’ You smell of a sickening mix of sweat, dirty water, and woodland muck.

“S’nuthin. I’ve been through PowerPoint classes.”

She creases her eyebrows with a bemused look(you’ve been getting a lot of those recently, more so than usual).“PowerPoint?” Sigh, not this again.

“Never mind you that, I’ve been told you can tell me the way to the nearest city.” She releases the tension in her eyebrows and looks back at her work. Her penmanship abases you of yours. The calligraphy in itself looked flawless and the small lettering made you all the more impressed.

“Hmm, well, I have a friend who can probably tell you about your situation better than anyone else.” She continues to glide her pen across the paper.

‘Why didn’t she do this an hour ago? And fuck me, more run-around.’

“Situation? There’s no ‘situation’. I just need directions to the nearest metropolitan city, or just a map, or a gypsy just give me something to work with here.”

This causes her to chuckle lightly at your exacerbation. “I’m afraid that is the situation. I’ve seen others panic a lot more than you but fro some reason its refreshing to see a reaction like yours.”

“The fuck are you talking about?” Is what you almost say but you suppress all desire you have to say it in time.

“It’s alright,” no it isn’t.

“Reimu will be able to get you back outside.”

“Well that’s fucking ambiguous.”

“I’m sorry?” This causes her to cease writing and look at you with incredulity.

“Did I say that out loud? Forget it; can you take me to Reimu then?” All these levels of people you’ve gone through make it feel like your issue is being taken up the chain of command. Maybe it’s a CoC? Maybe this entire thing is a terrorist brainwashing plot? How do you know you’re not really drugged up, in some hole in Taiwan? The more you keep these thoughts in your head, the more nauseous you feel. ‘Not the fucking time for this.’ You bring yourself out of your reverie out of sheer machismo. You notice she stopped talking and is now looking at you.

“Did you hear me?” She asks, throwing one last wary glance your way.

“Ah, my bad. Could you repeat that?”

“You should really pay attention when someone is talking to you; there are those that take offense to these sorts of things without second thought. What’s more is that it’s evident of a lack of character and composure” She has an adorable ‘I’m disappointed in you’ voice, she even gives a small sigh at the end of her reprobation. All that’s left is a wagging finger (you had half an expectation for her to do so). Reminds you of some of your teachers back in school. You had a rather lucky streak in almost all female teachers, most attractive too. ‘Ahh, she’s talking again’.

“I said Reimu will most likely be asleep by now so you may as well stay the night here.”

“Asleep? It’s like 18-…6 o’clock.” She doesn’t seem to take notice your quick cover up.

“I know, although she normally has nothing but leisure time, she’s been on a bit of a tight schedule of sorts.”

“Alright, let see if I understand correctly; I can’t go anywhere because one person is running late nights and has to take a day off?”

“No, it’s much more complicated than you describe in your interpretation.” You run your hands up and down your face. Alright.

‘Alright. Optimism. I need to be an optimist’. A night alone with an attractive woman. What’s more is that she’s the one offering her bed to you. Yeah, good enough for you. Hmm, you don’t want to appear lecherous right away so…

“You sure it’s fine if I stay here? I mean is it just you here?”

“It’s perfectly fine, so long as you adhere to the house rules.”

‘House rules?’ Why does it seem like every one you’ve met since you got here is keeping some secret from you in particular. Is it all the same secret, or does nobody like foreigners?

The night with Keine was highly disappointing. When she suggested you stay the night, you assumed this was some polite Japanese way of offering casual sex to strangers. Dinner was spent with her correcting your admittedly lax table manners; after which you were shoved into the bath and then into a futon. She even offered you warm milk, and tucked you in (except not really, but again she fits the motherly archetype so well). The whole experience was strange, and you fell asleep wondering if you would wake up handcuffed and wearing leather.
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Thankfully you didn’t, and after another etiquette lesson on the proper way to sit during meals, the two of you are on your way. The trek to Reimu’s is uneventful but not unpleasant. Wherever you looked, the land outside the village looked utterly untouched by man. It’s kind of relaxing. Being lost, far from home, far from civilization, trusting some person you’ve just met with your very future, it’s like a tour of duty, but with no rules or support.

“Are you alright? You’ve been staring out into space this entire time.”

“Yeah, I’m fine. This place is just…unreal. Why? Were you hoping for some conversation?” Keine turns away from you and looks away.

“No. Not really.”

“Tsun! When’s the Dere?”


‘Was that out loud again? I need to work on that man.’ You decide to smoothly change topic.

“So how far is it to Reimu’s we’ve been walking for at least an hour.”

“It’s not far now. You should be able to see it any second now.” See it? Is it some huge house on a hill? Is Reimu from some yakuza family that secretly runs this little backwater settlement? Maybe it’s some kind of codename for some village elder committee that will decide whether or not to kill you to preserve their status quo. Maybe you’ve been on edge too long. Well paranoia has saved your life before so you think you’ll keep your mild distrust of everything. You know, for safety’s sake.

“And here we are!” Keine beckons to a long flight of stone steps, leading to one of those sacred gate things, that the Japanese like to put in front of old buildings. What’re they called? Torys? Something like that you’re sure. “…wow, how….old. old and musty.” Well damn there’s really nothing else to say about it. The wood’s chipping off the Tories and the steps are crumbling.

“Reimu would have a fit if she heard you say that you know.” That habit is going to get you hurt one of these days.

“I’ll watch my tongue then. Can we go?” Keine leads you up that unnecessarily large flight of stairs, (Who the hell needs 214 steps?) and the two of you come upon a rustic looking building that was in surprisingly better shape than the area around it.

“Wait here a moment, I’ll go see if Reimu’s in.” Keine says, once you reach the places entrance. And just like that, you’re left alone on the porch of some person/committee/whatever waiting for Keine to return with “Reimu”. You begin to wonder whether or not you should take cover and wait to see who Keine returns with. ‘If it’s a kill squad then what?

Plan 1: Egress the area, wait around the edge of town to see if anyone leaves or comes in, use the mover to find your way to more civilized civilization.

Plan 2…’ You can’t be alone with your thoughts like this. You’re going aggravate the ptsd. Relax, besides there’s been no sign of any hostilities, as far as you could see. This place seems more like a quiet farming community than some hidden ninja assassin village. That’s right, use cool-headed logic to lull yourself into an unprepared state of weakness so when you’re murdered, at least you won’t know what hit yo-

“Who are you?” A tired sounding voice interrupts your thought process at the worst possible time. You freak, jumping off the porch you were sitting on, and immediately assume a fighting stance. “-thefuck?!”

“Hey Thefuck,” nice response. “what are you doing on my porch?” As she says this she reaches slowly into a sleeve-thing and pulls out a short stick, decorated with paper tassels. Ridiculous yet, oddly enough, you still feel threatened by this gesture.

[] “I’m looking for Reimu.”
[] Keep your guard up, she caught you in a moment of weakness, you’re not about to show her another.
[] Assume a less aggressive approach to formalities; your anger may get the best of you yet.
[] “Get that stick out of my face, I’m looking for Reimu.” No time to fuck around, you need to get back to base.
[] Call out to Keine; this may be who you’re looking for. However, you’re not about to let her catch you by surprise again.


No, much too stubborn for that. Meant to get this up about a week ago. Again, we'd rather have the shit pointed out early in order to avoid it later on.
Glad to see you haven't left. This is much better, though you do have the occasional grammar error. While they're spread out enough that I, at least, think they're tolerable, they're still kinda jarring to read. I'd recommend heading to IRC and finding a proofreader - a kind fellow named Fhylen is usually willing.

By the way, I've never heard the phrase 'letting someone above your eyrbrow.' Are you translating from another language, by any chance?

I'd include a vote, but that can wait until I have access to something with copy-paste.
[x] “I’m looking for Reimu.”
Seconding >>154179. This was a much better and “smarter” piece of fiction, although when a grammar error sneaks in, it’s usually massive:

>You probably should take her suggestion of getting that checked out by a real doctor soon. Grateful as you are, you still have Just as you start thinking of other plans to get back to American-ish civilization; she finally remembers you’re there.

[x] “Get that stick out of my face, I’m looking for Reimu.”
[x] Call out to Keine; this may be who you’re looking for. However, you’re not about to let her catch you by surprise again.

I figure this is the best way to defuse the situation.
[x] “I’m looking for Reimu.”

This is an appropriate response in all situations.
Called. Writing.
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[] “I’m looking for Reimu.”
[] Assume a less aggressive approach to formalities; your anger may get the best of you yet.

A light breeze fluttered through the tassels which were connected seamlessly at the end of the girl’s ceremonial rod. The movement drew your eyes along the contours of the shaft, until they finally set upon the black-flecked chestnut eyes of the maiden. Her pupils, barely visible through dark-rimmed slits, protruded slightly beneath a heavy-lidded gaze, fighting to maintain lucidity. Though her outfit carried the telltale proponents of the traditional miko, it also flaunted detached sleeves with a partially exposed mid-riff, the fabric tapered up just high enough for you to catch a glimpse of her navel. The dress, pockmarked with abrasions, and littered with miscellanea from the forest floor, was colored in diminished hues of white and red that may have been better suited for a pariah than for a teenager.

Despite the fact that the situation is attempting to silently cajole you into berating her for what little she’s worth, you cannot muster the malevolence to do so. No matter how much you try and project your contempt for the situation towards this girl, her beleaguered appearance drains you of your misdirected distain, and pushes you pity the urchin. ‘Inhale.’ You relax your posture, extending your hands in front of you, palms faced outward in the universal pose of non-aggression. ‘Exhale.’

“Alright, look” you say as you begin the harrowing process of American diplomacy, “We’ve both obviously had some serious shit thrown in our way recently.” You direct her attention to your gauzed hand with a nod of the head. “So, I’d like to cut down on the pleasantries to make this as quick and painless as possible. I’m here looking for ‘Reimu’, have you heard of he/she/it/them, and if so, would you kindly,” you hope the point gets across, “point me in that direction?”

Though she waits for you to finish, she does not take much heed to your compliant words. No, instead she continues to aim the violating object at your head and begins to close the distance between the two. Each hard-soled step she takes clacks with the stone floor with temerity and, with a few more, she closes the distance to but a few fractions of an inch.

Though she refrains from vocalizing her response her opinion is clear as she affixes the ornament beneath your chin.

“I’m just trying to get back to where I need to be.” You continue.

“and you would like that wouldn’t you?”

“Wha-” She jerks your chin upright with the stick to shut you up though the action itself did not surprise you as much as her capacity to do it given her haggard condition and stature.

“Getting back to where you need to be, and where might that be exactly?” You open your mouth to respond, nigh instinctively, with some shallow witticism, but decide it would be best to save it for when sleep deprived teenage girls aren’t prodding you with sticks.

“Uh, in Okinawa? Or Chicago, really, but I’m just trying to get to Okinawa.”

“Yes, and you would think that it’s so simple to just get you there, that it’s all some sort of instantaneous process that requires NO effort on my part to get you across.” She says this as she begins to pace around you, tracing her stick along your neck as she circled around you. “What’s more is that every single one of you has the gall to leave without recompensing me for my services. I’m lucky just to get a meager thank your from you leeches.”

As she continues to vent, you feel the tassels lightly graze your skin, causing a faint ticklish sensation along your neck and shoulders. This made you involuntarily squirm and fuss as she made her way round and round your figure. Though she took obvious notice to this, if the smile that replaced her previous scowl is of any indication, she halted in neither strut nor speech. “One would think that it is not only fair and generous but out of common decency that when one goes to a shrine they donate, especially if the shrine is providing exclusive services to the patron.”

‘Isn’t that your job regardless?’

After the passing in front of you for the third time, she stops to stand directly behind you and prods you once on the nape of your neck and leaves the stick pressed against it.

“50 ryo.”

“Huh ?”

“50 ryo, that’s the price for our get-home-and-never-return service.”

“I don’t believe it; you’re actually serious about this.” This medieval village shtick is starting to wear down on the last of your patience; no easy feat considering the fact that you’re allowing a random girl to violate you with a stick with only minor withdraw.

“That’s what I said, and,” she firmly presses the rod against your neck, “the price is indisputable, but I’d say that it’s a fair price for the only way back across the border.”

“Do you really think that that’s a fair asking price? I’m not even sure that even some of the wealthier merchants in the village would be willing, or able to pay that if they wanted to.” You both turn your attention off to the side where, surely enough, Keine sat, much to your delight, next to a support pillar in the nearest corner on the elevated floorboards of the shrine.

“And when did you get here?” Your peevish tormentor questions from behind you, slackening the arm with which she applied pressure to your neck.

“I came here with the man you’re currently harassing, so I would like to ask you to stop Reimu.” Thank you Kei...Wait. This is Reimu? You turn your head enough to where you can see her in the peripherals of your eye. Not what you expected but then again, your conspiracy theories never do get far past the hypothesis stage.

“Ahh,” She says, sparing your neck as she begins to make her way towards the shrine, “Then you came to philander rather than donate.”

“That’s a very bold accusation.”

‘Quite, though that can be left up for debate at a later date.’

“And a dangerous one at that,” she continues as she hoists herself upwards with the support of the pillar adjacent to her. “People wont to jump to conjectures are wont to prevaricate in their worldly matters you know.”

It appears that Keine’s attempt to didactically enlighten Reimu was in vain. Though she’s facing away from you, you can practically make out what you assume to be a placid look attempting to mask confusion if Keine’s impassive face is of any indication.

“Acting on baseless assumptions will get you into deep trouble. Really, I know that I shouldn’t expect you to act differently, that’s just how you are I understand, but must you really take it to such an extent, especially on someone who has said or done little to you?

‘Not yet anyways. Wonder if she’s thinking the same thing.’

“I think that at the moment I can very well choose to make whatever assumptions I want.” This remark causes Keine’s brow to furrow, cute but still disconcerting.

“And why’s that?”

Reimu turns and looks at you once over her shoulder, then opts to avoid the question altogether. “Did you set the tea?”

A brief pause follows and, with a firm look and brow still close knit, she affirms the statement.

“Then let’s go inside.” She gives no further acknowledgement to your existence as she makes her way around to the steps on one of the landings leading up into the entrance to the shrine. Kiene looks back as she dragged into the shrine by Reimu’s brusque retreat. Keine mouths a mixture of an apology and a request to wait before closing the sliding paper door to tend to the surly hostess.
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In the time that the two left you to your own devices, you have all but driven yourself into a self-deprecating agony. Your initial endeavor to keep a cool head backfired gloriously; each subsequent attempt after the first served only to exacerbate the culminating sense of desperation rising up from your lower ribcage into your chest.

Shortly after their retreat inside, you made your way up to the paper doors and, lowering yourself close to the cool floorboards, attempted to listen in on the discussion of potential tribulations to your well being. However, what exasperated you the most wasn’t that you couldn’t make out the conversation; the literally paper thin walls ensured a pristine clarity almost akin to being inside the room with them. No, the cause of the pinpricks of sweat that were beginning to trickle down your back lay rather in the conversation itself.

Hats. They talked of hats. They talked and rambled and until your knuckles became white and your legs began pulsating; no easy feat, mind you, considering you were specifically trained to hold such cumbersome positions for extended periods of time.

“It’s been a while since I’ve seen you with your hat on, finally took our advice to get rid of the thing?”

“No, as a matter of fact I haven’t, I just haven’t been able to find a replacement yet.”

“Still? But it’s been, what, a little more than three weeks now?”

“ I know, I know, but aside from the sentimental value, finding something even remotely similar is, well, I’ve just about given up.”

“Why don’t you have the recluse fashion you one? You know, from scratch?”

“I considered it but….”

One would think that after a show of bravado like that that they would immediately delve into fray and begin dissecting the situation at hand. But no, this is how they started, and this is how they continued all throughout your amateur attempt at espionage. With no indication of the conversation shifting back to matters of importance, important for you anyways, and the last of your patience drained, you retreat back down the steps onto the shrine’s cobbled entrance and patio.

Thus you have circulated around the grounds of the shrine some 5, 6? Perhaps even 7 times. By this point the ambulation had become mechanical and you had even turned it into a process by making an effort to step only on every third stone you came across, applying an unnecessary amount of caution so as to avoid the spaces and cracks in between each imprinted stone. Having already gone through the entire soundtrack to Twisted Nerve (really only the one tune everyone and their mother is fond of) you began repeating the only thing other than the best songs of the 90’s that you bothered (forced really) to memorize: the soldier’s creed.

‘I am an American soldier; I am a warrior a member of a team. I serve the people of the United States and live the army values. I will always place the mission first. I will never accept defeat. I will never quit. I will never leave a fallen comrade. I am disciplined, physically and mentally tough. I always maintain my arms, equipment, and myself. I am an expert and I am professional. I stand ready to deploy, engage and destroy the enemy of the United States of America in close combat. I am a guardian of freedom and the American way of life. I am an American Soldier.’

Every ten minutes you were forced to repeat the thing. Literally. If someone of higher rank were to come up to you and say, “You there, soldier’s creed. Now.” You would have to repeat it word for word, without stuttering, and without hesitation lest your ass be made mincemeat of. You felt bad for those who had speech impediments since no exclusions were made on their behalf and they were the most likely to be singled out to repeat the mantra.

“So it goes.” They used to say. ‘So it does.’

Here and there on the ground lay streaks of leaves and litter, with what appeared to be two piles where the majority of them converged near the center of the main walkway leading to the donation box in the front. Though an obvious effort was made at some point to amalgamate these two bodies into one, the wind saw to it that more leaves ended up strewn across the shrine and its steps rather than in the pre-designated piles.

Though the shrine sits atop a predominant hill overlooking the village, which could only be seen by extending oneself over the top of the stairs towards its location, the view of the area surrounding the shrine is obscured by cascading trees which grew at odd angles along the sides of the hill.

Along the far end of the shrine opposite of the stairs was a small walkway which led down the sloping hill and into some receding part of the shrine shrouded in particularly aged trees wrapped in interweaving ceremonial ropes. Though this was one of the few things that had managed to draw your attention during the first few rounds, you decided to leave it be lest the two finish and you somehow end up sprawled with your head cracked open in some unseen ravine.

*Hah* You breathe a deep sigh for the umpteenth time since leaving Okinawa.

‘ Hope the negotiations are going smoothly, can’t really take much more of this standing and waiting around.’ Whether it was waiting in line at the checkout for your opportunity to toss a hand grenade you could calm that twitch in your leg. Most called it restless leg syndrome, and sure enough whenever you were seated in a cramped wooden desk your legs started to kick. But no, ever since you were a kid you knew that that incessant crave for movement and progress wasn’t some second-rate disease, it was hunger-it was desire.

Keeping to the shade, you make one final round and find your way back to the stairs in the front of the shrine and let yourself drop down on the topmost step. You almost immediately regret doing as there is still a lingering pain in your legs from white-water rafting without a raft. You exhale the sharp breathe you took in as the dull rods of pain that were sent up your spine dissipate. Forcing yourself into relaxation, really the only way do so sober is by forcing yourself to, you lie down so that only the upper portion of your collar bone and face are in the sun. You let your feet hang over the last few steps at the top and extend your arms at your sides. The weather was much more agreeable now that you were neither running for your life nor chilled by the night air and mossy lake water. The early autumnal nights in Japan might be cold, but the day seemed to be just right. The sun bore down with just enough of a breeze so that a comfortable tincture of warmth spread from your cheeks to your temples.

Just as each breath you take deepens in the way it does when sleep approaches, the sound of wood lightly scraping wood forces your eyes open and you to sit up with a jolt that drowns out the soporific effects of the sun. Sure enough there Keine was, sliding the door shut behind her and making her way towards you: without the abrasive miko. Her expression, though equivocal, belied some concern on her part which did not bode well in the slightest for you.
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Raising your hand so as to block the sun from your eyes you wait for her to tell you the news of your departure but, per usual with most people you talk to, you are forced to initiate the conversation.


“No.” The swiftness of her response catches you off guard.


“Not what, but not well either.” Is she messing with you?

“What? You’re not making any sense; just tell me when I’m getting out of here.”

Lifting the front of her dress so as to not sully it too much on the unkempt stairs, she steps down a stair so as to sit next to you at the top. With hands clenched firmly in one another, she casts a stare down the stairway before answering.

“I’m sorry,” She begins in a noticeably somber tone. “It’s not going to happen.”

“Come again?”

“She said that no one can leave until some… extraneous circumstances have been taken care of.”

“Extraneous circumstances?” Without turning to look at you she nods her head.

“Really?” Another nod. ‘Well what the hell does that even mean?’ as if she read your thoughts (or perhaps you actually relayed the last thought aloud involuntarily, you’re not sure which) she responds,

“You can’t leave, not for another three weeks at least.”

It takes all but two seconds for her word to register. Inhaling loudly through your nose you begin to caress your cheeks and mouth, lightly at first, but soon begin aggressively running your hand up and down your jaw line. Three weeks. By that time you will have been officially listed as a deserter, and out of a job. Though even you question the fervidity with which they’ll hunt you down, you really cannot go and live your life in some 9-to-5 job. You had a comfortable set up going for you, especially now that you were stationed in Okinawa. Little guard duty here, dick around in the barracks every now and then and the occasional leave with generous pay made it all worth while. You honestly don’t care if you’re tried and forced in court, but the chance of losing this sweet deal, after two tours nonetheless, is not one you’re going to take.

“Like hell I can’t.” You rise up from the steps and pivot your body towards the shrine in a single fluid motion. With all thoughts of keeping a cool head gone, you begin to make your way back to the shrine to tear down walls if need be when firm tug arrests your attention before you can take another step.

“Wha-?” Keine grasped the edge of your shirt with a grip that nearly made you fall back down. She looked at you with such a morose expression that reminded you of the look mothers get when they lose a child, something, though you would never tell this to anyone, you’ve seen much too often both before, during and after duty. The look was a pitiful thing really, but for no reason other than the fact that this expression was for you made it appreciable in any way. Her countenance cut short the string of blasphemes you were preparing to unleash as you made your way to ravage the shrine and its owner.


“Don’t? Don’t? You don’t understand Keine, this is my livelihood at stake here and ill be damned if I lose it on account of what some pissant girl says.”

“Please…She has no more control over this than you or I do, she’s just doing her job.”

“And what job is that exactly?” you retort. “Last I checked wasn’t the shrine’s duty or whatever to help people when they need it? Well I could really use some help right about now!” That last sentence comes across more acrid than you meant and you immediately regret it when she winces at your raised voice. ‘Great, probably the only person who legitimately helped you out so far, sans creepy nocturnal flower watcher, and you just yelled at her through no fault of her own.’ Really, its situations like these where that self-imposed cool-headedness that was so fervently drilled into you comes in handy.

With those expressive eyes still boring holes into your will, you resign to the teacher and sit back down. Upon doing so she releases her grip and instead clutches her own hemmed dress in a manner that would make you think she was liable to tear it at any moment.

Neither of you say anything and instead continue to look down the flight of stairs at some invisible marvel that sequestered both of your attention, thus giving you an excuse to not look at one another.

“I’m sorry.”

“It’s fine, it’s understandable that you’re worked up, especially after her callous behavior, but, I think that anyone in a situation like this would be.”

“Heh, I doubt that.”

“Hmm, why’s that?” In the peripherals of your vision you see that she has relinquished the grip on her dress and is staring sidelong at you.

“Well, I was just about ready to go in there and shove that stick of hers in a, let’s say, rather unsanctified and undisclosed location.” Your remark, crude or not, elicits a light infectious giggle that has you smiling in unison.

“I hate to dampen the mood again,” you interject when she settled back down, “but I really need to figure out what I’m going to do. Is there really no way I can get back without her help?”

“Unfortunately yes. The way back cannot be traversed without the help of the Hakurei. It’s been that way for as long as the village has been around; farther back than that even. The entirety of the village itself is, with a few exceptions, self-sufficient and very few people need to, or want to for that matter, leave. The only types of people that ever come up are outsiders, like you, looking for a way back. She normally just sends them on their way and gets it over with, it just turns out that you have some impeccably bad timing. Well, like I said, there’s nothing we can do about it right now. Now as for you,” I can let you stay in the guest room for a few more nights until we can figure out some sort of suitable sleeping arrangement for you.”

“Thanks. I really appreciate it.” You mean it sincerely.

“Not at all.”

“No, I really mean it. Thanks. But,” There’s just one lingering question that’s nagging at you, “why?”

“Hmm.” There’s that pensive stare again. “Well I guess it just because of my…Ah!”

“Your what now?”

“The school, I forgot that I told Akyuu I’d be back before the late morning lesson began. Sorry but I need to head back to the village.”

‘Ahh, so put off her job just to see you home.’ Now you really regret that outburst earlier and feel the heat of embarrassment spread in your cheeks. Thankfully, she’s too caught up in her own self-realization for her to notice.

“Are you coming?” Ah, she’s already up and offering her hand to you. The fingers were slender and white, well-kempt; nails not tainted in the slightest with any sort of dirt, grime, or lacquered polish that women were so eager to drench their fingers in. The stuff always made you nauseas, the scent anyways, and the nails, though sometimes in good taste, more often than naught reminded you of the richer-than-thou spoiled girls that rode Bentleys paid for by their esteemed corporate parents. It’s really the sort of thing that made you lose hope for society, if you had any to begin with.

Taking her hand in yours you allow yourself to be pulled up as the flush from your cheeks goes away.

“Right.” With that, the two of you begin to make your way down those godforsaken steps.

The trip back to the village was short, by most standards anyways. It was a walk which could have been cut down to about a ten minute drive if possible (it’s not possible). The two of you talked and questioned each other, delving into the daily affairs of one another’s life. She asked of your life and job and why it meant so much to you to get back. You in turn asked about her own, the general life in the village and how “backwards” they really are (you’re a soldier, not a poet). Each back and forth was responded to with anecdotes that gained chuckles or a sincere laugh from the other, tidbits of esoteric knowledge, and an increasing interest that preoccupied the two of you the entire way. Only a few times did silence prevail and when it did, it was not that awkward silence that prevails at the worst of moments in the company of another, it was welcome and neither of you minded it in the slightest.

Upon reaching the village she informed you that she needed to return to her house to pick up her supplies and needed to give you something as well. Once inside, she went up the stairs to her room and returned shortly while you attempted to read some of the more elegant scriptures on the wall.

“Here.” She moved some documents off to the side as she placed an oaken box on the knee-high table. The corners and edges of the box were gilded in diaphanous lines of gold and silver that weaved and looped perfectly across the box. Producing a small key, no longer than your pinky and about as wide as your thumb, she inserted it in to an equally decorous keyhole and with a short series of metallic clicks the box sprang slightly open. Removing the key and placing it off to the side she opened the box the rest of the way and revealed it contents.

The inside was covered in a fine red felt atop which were stacked denominations of gold, bronze, silver and copper that were neatly arranged on the bottom insert of the box while similar coins with square holes dangled from three parallel strings on the flat inside of the top of the box. These too were separated according to the material used to make them. Most of these coins resembled the kind you would see on the forehead of those cats in Chinatown with paws that incessantly clawed at the air in front of them. Though you were not exactly sure of their values, you could assume that the ones smelted out of gold were the highest in denomination, as they boasted the fewest pile in the box.

You let out a low whistle as you peruse the contents. “These your life savings?”

“Hardly, these are for you; well, however many you wish to take anyways.”

“Really?” You pick up on of the bronze pieces and turn it over in palm to examine the lines etched into the coin.

“Yes, the village has a trust fund of sorts set up for outsiders. A small percentage of the village taxes go into the fund each month and as it turns out, no one has been able to claim money from the box in over 6 months.”

“ Why’s that?” You return the coin back to its pile.

“Well there have been no outsiders in the past three months, and the few that did before that left right away. So I guess you could say that your bad timing is actually fortunate chance for you.”

“Wow that is lucky, I guess.” So you could take all this coinage and go around and be your regular spendthrift self in the village. “Wait, so these coins are the only form of currency here?”

“Well, trading goods and service is not at all uncommon here but yes, these are the only form of currency used.”

‘Whoops.’ Guess your kind donation to the street vender wasn’t all that kind. Damn, and you had well over 70,000 yen, soggy or not, left in your wallet from the other night.

“There’s just one thing.” A catch no doubt. “This also doubles over as an emergency fund of sorts for the village, say for construction after a natural disaster or for the school’s needs, so we require you to pay back what you take before you leave.”

‘So much for my plans of tossing cash around in the village’ “Ok, so I have three weeks to pay back everything I take from the box right?”

“Essentially, so would advise against taking too much, of course you can just come to me for your day to day needs.”

[] Take the minimal amount you would need during your stay. (Approximately 2 Ryo)
[] Take a moderate amount of money from the box. (Max of 4 Ryo)
[] Take the entire contents with box. (Upwards of 10 Ryo)
[] Leave the currency with Kiene and let her decide as to how your money will be spent.

[Write-in] What to do after Keine leaves/ questions and comments before she leaves.

Though the second choice is specifically a write-in, assume all choices have the write-in option present unless stated otherwise.
[x] Leave the currency with Keine and let her decide as to how your money will be spent.

If he's a complete outsider, and only here for roughly three weeks, how is he supposed to make the money to pay it back?
And, assuming he gets some food and a place to sleep, why would he need any money for the short time he's here anyway?
I guess if he decides to stay, it would make sense to get a loan from the communal coffers so he can have a start-up fund for whatever he decides to do as a useful member of his new society, and he can pay it back over time as he gets settled in. But just for a few weeks?
Where's the point in borrowing money that you don't really need, only to return it all again later? Especially when there's no immediately obvious way of earning money to repay the loan if you spend any of it.

I guess it would have made more sense if he either had to stay longer, giving him time to fit in and find something to do, or if only loans past a certain limit had to be repaid in full. (Borrowing some pocket change is fine, nobody really cares, but if you make off with the entire box someone will want some answers and if you don't have a good one, the question passes to your kneecaps.)
[x] Leave the currency with Kiene and let her decide as to how your money will be spent.
[x] See about getting your wounds checked out.

I've seen it mentioned two or three times so we might as well get it done.
[x] Take a moderate amount of money from the box. (3 Ryo)

Three weeks - three Ryo. We will pay her back by killing three talking bears.

[x] Tell Keine about your encounter with Yuuka.
[x] See about getting your wounds checked out.
Writing now.

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