Anonymous 2012/02/15 (Wed) 01:05 No. 153423 ▼
File 132926794647.jpg - (5.58KB, 275x183 , ThatSureIsALaWaitWhatTheFuck.jpg)
Ugh. Lots of things going on in Real Life that delayed this update but you could say it was mostly me being a lazy faggot.
If I ever take more than a week to ever post an update, you should all collectively punch me in the balls through the internet somehow. I'll deserve it.
[x] Get her to answer the door.
[x] Once she's done, explanation time.
[x] That book puts horrible mental strain on the reader. If she's willing, you can help. You can’t make her forget but you can wipe the pain.
[x] Hold on to the book for safekeeping.
The loud noise echoes through the ruined house, the door shivering under the blows. You can hear the panicked cries of humans outside. And yet she does nothing. It’s as if they are in an entirely different world from her, far away and ignorable.
You could just answer it for her but no; that would just raise questions on yourself and what you’re doing here. Besides, she has to be snapped out of this fugue at some point.
“Are you going to answer the door? It sounds like someone needs you.”
She doesn’t answer, still staring at the book resting on the wooden floor. Her brown eyes are unfocused, looking back into memories equally as much as they are into reality.
Damnit, dredging up her memories probably didn’t help her much. But then again, she’s strong. She can snap out of it.
“Hello? I’m not going to do this for you.”
Still no response.
You grab her by the shoulders, flipping her to turn and face you. Pushing your face directly in front of hers, you speak.
Her eyes refocus and her vacant expression shifts as she switches back to reality. She looks confused and then startled by your sudden proximity.
“What just happened?”
“People need you, Keine. Can you hear them now?”
She gets to her feet groggily as she goes to the door, her voice lost amongst the incredible babble waiting for her outside of it. If the villagers took any notice of her house’s condition, you can’t hear any sign of it. This is bad. Merely reading the Crane can break unprepared minds, let alone channelling it and becoming the genesis of one of its extensions. Keine’s eroding mental stability is a problem that you’ll have to fix immediately, especially if you want to get more information out of her.
That’ll require some mental breaking and entering, getting your grubby little fingers all over her subconscious. And if she can truly see history once a month, you might have to do this repeatedly.
Well, what use are promises if you don’t end up breaking them for a good cause?
But first, you need to get that book out of her possession. You pick it up while Keine is preoccupied with the townsfolk, flipping through the pages as you do so.
If she hid it away out of shame and desire to stop anyone from reading it, why didn’t she just burn it? Was it fear? Morbid fascination? Turning to the last page, you note that the writing continues past the back page and onto the inside of the back cover, a last frantic symbol being only half-written as she ran out of space.
Thankfully Keine is not an artist. There are no pictures.
Normally, this book would be useless to you. You’ve already read the Broken Winged Crane once and what practical information it does impart on the mad princes of Malfeas isn’t much compared to actually living there and talking to them on a semi-regular basis. This book is probably completely useless to you.
But this is one apparently tailor made to Gensokyo. You’re more than a little interested in its dire predictions this time around. You’ll have to learn to read Japanese at some point since asking Keine to recite it from where it’s been burned into her memory would probably be …unhealthy to her.
Best to just hang onto it for safekeeping now, letting nobody but you look at it.
You slide the Crane into your dress pocket, letting it join your other pilfered book. Though your coat might be doing duty as a different type of clothing right now, having stupid amounts of pockets will never change.
As you do so, it occurs to you that Keine probably deserves to know the truth. She already knows you aren’t some kind of investigator and that you know things you shouldn’t. After whatever this little crisis is dies down, you’ll have to give her The Truth.
Well, a doctored and cleaned up version of the Truth at least. But it’s the thought that counts.
Now what’s gotten all of these villagers up and needing her? There are about three townsfolk outside her door, all attempting to drown each other out with their own problems.
She mentioned being the ‘village guardian’; perhaps she faces this problem regularly? You’ll have to wait until they leave before you can start your earlier plans.
You turn back to inspecting the odd language. It reminds you of High Realm script in style somewhat, though remaining completely incomprehensible to you. Considering that you have a teacher on hand, it shouldn’t be too hard to have a mastery of the language in a few weeks, tops.
Your thoughts are interrupted by overhearing parts of the villager’s words. Your ears prick up.
“…Causing a ruckus at the…”
“…Something about the lake?”
“…Won’t leave that poor medicine girl alone…”
“…can’t get Kotohime, she’s still in bed after yesterday morning…”
“…Acid burns, I think. Poisonous acid burns.”
Oh? That sounds interesting. And disturbingly familiar.
When Keine leaves with the small group of townspeople in tow, you creep out of the front door and start trailing behind them.
As you all walk closer to the scene, you find yourself in the midst of a still-forming crowd. You happily lose yourself in it, becoming part of the mass gathering around the disturbance.
You arrive on the scene just as someone else scurries off through the streets in the opposite direction. You only catch a glimpse of purple hair and long rabbit ears.
One of those rabbit people that Daiyousei told you about?
The apparent cause of the commotion is a silver-haired woman in an odd frilly uniform of some kind. She appears to be very agitated, several villagers almost hiding behind Keine as the village guardian approaches.
“I don’t have time for this!” the woman snaps. “For something like this, we need Eirin.”
“You don’t have time?”
Keine seems to have regathered her composure for now. The black and white woman doesn’t answer her directly, instead giving her a withering glare.
“Keine. You can eat history, can’t you?”
She can? What does that even mean?
“You know I can, Sakuya. Now what’s going on?”
“They didn’t tell you?”
“They only told me fragments, considering that they were far more concerned with someone coming in, throwing their power around and threatening people. Especially after what happened yesterday.”
Sakuya has the honesty to look embarrassed at this.
“Eirin might be too much time. I can’t go and get her, not with the forest the way it is, not all the way to Misty Lake. I’m not sure about you Keine but you might be the only choice I can get.”
“Wait, what do you even need me f-”
Keine vanishes mid-sentence, the silver haired woman vanishing with her. The crowd pulls back, muttering to themselves. You are left to hang around watching the area they used to be in.
What the hell just happened? Just what did that girl do? Among the many footprints, you can’t find a single clue of what happened. What the fuck? Was it a means of travel? A hostile action? Something worse?
You’re about to ask one of the villagers when mental klaxons go off inside your head. Something is about to make contact with you while you are unaware. Given retroactive warning about a potential attack, you twist around and raise your arm to intercept Sakuya appearing out of nowhere behind you, catching her raised hand in yours.
She gapes at you for a moment before stepping back.
“How did you…No. You are Damask?”
“Yes. Who wants to know?”
It must be something to do with Keine, considering that you gave that unimaginative false name to her alone.
“Sakuya, head maid of the Scarlet Devil Mansion.”
She looks at you as if she expects that to actually mean something. All you know is that it’s a mansion near Daiyousei’s home lake and that things called vampires, whatever the hell they are, own it.
“That must be nice.”
“Keine’s is asking for you. She says she needs your investigative expertise.”
Your investigative expertise? But she didn’t buy into that investigator lie that you fed her. Ah, of course. She wouldn’t want to say it outright for this shifty lady to interpret but she knows that you’re related to the Broken Winged Crane in some way and needs that knowledge.
What did she find?
“Where is she anyway?”
“The Misty Lake. I’ll take you.”
Without any more words, she reaches down to grab you by the shoulder. After finding no mistruths in her words and driven by curiosity to find out just what is happening, you decide to let her do this.
The world flashes and
Ev er yt hi ng go es gr ay fo r a mo me nt
The world snaps back into place with you and Sakuya standing by a shore of a large lake. Mist floats heavily across the early morning vista.
You keel to the side, feeling your gorge rise. What. The. Fuck?
Sakuya is staring at you with some concern in her eyes.
“Are you alright? Nobody’s ever reacted that way before.”
“What was that? A transport sp-No. Don’t care. Where’s Keine. Let me speak to her alone.”
The maid nods, disappearing abruptly. You stare in her last known direction for a few seconds before heaving an almighty shrug. Not the time to wonder.
You stagger over to the blue figure. Keine is kneeling in front of a large pair of ornate gates. Past the gates you can see a large bright red mansion dominating the skyline. No prize for guessing what that was.
Keine is doing …something that you can’t quite perceive. As you get closer, you see that she’s kneeling over a tall redhead in a green uniform. The prone woman is not unattractive though the fact that something is clearly terribly wrong with her takes away part of the appeal.
She’s as pale as a sheet, her face covered in a slimy sheen of sweat.
“What are you doing, Miss Kamishirasawa?”
“Hello Damask. Reisen didn’t have anything that this woman needed and Sakuya decided that bringing me might work and will at least be a stopgap until Eirin gets here. And before you ask, yes I’m eating the history of her illness. That’s part of what being a hakutaku means.”
She rushes through the latter part of the explanation. You get the feeling that she’s probably had to explain that a lot of times.
“…Right. What did you need me for? What did you find?”
“This is Meiling, the gatekeeper of the Scarlet Devil Mansion. She spends a lot of her time down here, where the Lake ends and the Mansion begins. I think she drank some of the water from the Misty Lake. And the moment I saw the Lake, I knew I needed you.”
You walk over to the edge of the lake, taking a look at its calm waters. At first nothing appears to be out of the ordinary. And then out of the corner of your eye, you see the early sunlight catching off a rainbow gleam on the water’s surface.
Kneeling down and getting a closer look, you see that water is covered with a faint rainbow sheen and that underneath the surface, strange dark things move and spread through it. An acrid smell permeates the air closer to the water.
Looking around the bank, you can already see the etch marks the ‘water’ has carved into the stone with it’s acidity. Dropping a pebble in, you watch as the water around boils and froths before the small rock is eaten away to nothing.
Reaching down, you dip your upper forearm into the water. A hiss rises in the air as the dirt and dead skin on your arm is burned away and eaten by the acid. It certainly feels like it…but it can’t be. Not here, not now.
Cupping some of the fluid in your hands, you open your mouth and stick your tongue into the acid. It tastes absolutely terrible but in a very familiar way.
Keine steps in behind you, her voice sounding hollow again.
“I-I saw this. I wrote it down. The waters of the Great Mother, Kimbery. The Sea That Marched Against The Flame.”
You can’t help but feel a little surprised.
“Know it? Of course I know it. I wrote it. It told me all about the Yozi and their subsouls. It told me everything.”
As she speaks, you become aware of her leg sliding in between yours before it spins, sweeping your legs from underneath you as the palm of her hand suddenly pushes against your back. You can see her motive for this already and let it happen. If it makes for a good way to start this discussion, why not?
You tumble forward into the lake, forcibly submerged into the corrosive waters. Thrashing around you find your feet and rise from the depths, grabbing the bank. You pull yourself back to your feet, saturated in acid.
Giving yourself a quick shake, you thank providence that your clothes share in your protection. That could have been awkward.
“I knew it. What are you?”
Wringing the acid out of your hair, you leer at Keine.
“If you just wanted to get me wet Keine, you only had to say so. I’m not wearing white though so you won’t get the best effect.”
You thrust your chest out at her, projecting the most lewd grin you can manage.
This has the desired effect of driving her completely off course and giving you control of the conversation.
“But to be more serious, there wasn’t any need to really do that. I was going to tell you anyway Keine.”
She starts, still resolutely looking everywhere but you.
“Yes. And might I add about how terrible of an idea that was? What if acid could actually hurt me? I could have died!”
“I saw you stick your bloody arm in a few moments ago. This was just confirmation.”
You look at her wordlessly, without dignifying that particular assumption with an answer.
“There are so many things wrong with this. I don’t even care about saying which anymore. Now let’s get down to explanations. Just how much about Malfeas did that damn book tell you in the first place?”
She represses a small shudder.
“A lot. A lot of things. And to take a form so convincing, you must be at least Second Circle.”
“Ah…alright then. Well, I should probably lay it out. I am not a demon of any Circle. Really. This is my natural form. I am as human as you are. Er…well maybe not you considering your condition but actually sure why not. As human as you are.”
Eugh, this is getting dangerously close to actual truth that your words are starting to stumble over themselves. At least saying that this was your natural form was enough of a lie to carry it over. But if this keeps up you’re going to need a more direct method than mere speech to get your status across.
“Well then what are you? If you’re not a demon than-”
Your Caste Mark flares to life on your forehead at your command. It lasts only a second before flickering back into nothingness. That’s more than enough time for her to get a good eyeful.
You nod in what you assume to be a sagacious manner, or at least as well as it can be while being soaking wet.
“…I think I expected a Green Sun Prince to be…taller?”
“I’m plenty tall. Anyway, I’m not on the side of Hell. Haven’t been for ages. You should know that we got free will.”
“But how can I trust you?”
“I’m a Fiend. The fact that you’re still capable of not trusting me is a very good reason for why you should trust me.”
“Point.I didn’t write down much about your kind. It mostly mentioned the….ugh.”
She pales, having recollected the contents of what she’s seen too many times in such a short time. You catch her before she can fall.
Leaning against her, you whisper in her ear.
“Keine. I can take this pain away from you. I can’t erase your memories, but I can make them easier to bear. But I won’t do it without your permission.”
Staring blankly over your shoulder, it takes a few seconds before she replies.
“Yes. …Please. Having to think about some of these things has made these last few days some of the worst in my life.”
You step back, dropping her onto the ground. She gets back to her feet, looking irate. You ignore this as you empty what was left of your Peripheral Essence pool.
“What was that for?”
“Hey Keine. Do you remember writing the Broken Winged Crane?”
“Of course I do! How could I forget such a beautiful thing? Didn’t I just tell you how this past day since I wrote it has been one of the best days of my life?”
Her expression has changed to a happy simplicity, the face of someone who is not burdened by horrible truths but instead embraces and loves them.
“Don’t you have to look after that Meiling person?”
“I stabilised her. Why would I even talk to you without doing that first?”
Despite saying that, she skips back over to the prone gatekeeper leaving you alone by the edge of the corrupted lake.
Didn’t Daiyousei claim some part of this lake as her home? You hope that she’s alright. Fairies might be able to reincarnate but poisonous acid baths still aren’t fun.
You idly throw another rock into the lake, watching it froth away. You have a lot of thinking to do. Your link to this world is not as simple as anticipated.
First of all, the extended Essence cost to affect anything of the outside world. What did that really mean? For a Charm’s essence manipulation to even work, there has to be Essence present in the system in the first place. Not to mention that you aren’t even respiring or regaining Essence normally in the first place. The only thing that’s still gaining you Essence is the hearthstone around your neck, which is still linked to your Manse somehow.
You have a hypothesis on what’s going on but even that is secondary to the fact that someone is fucking with you.
Whatever language they have, you keep hearing it as Old Realm. And when you speak Old Realm back, they hear it as their language. How? What’s doing this to you?
And more to the point, what’s causing all of this? The destruction of the language barrier is probably part of it. The appearance of the Crane, the twisting of the dream world, what’s just happened to this lake, your own appearance here…
It’s all connected by an unknown cause of some sort. But what?
To tell the truth, it all stinks quite clearly of some kind of metaphysical Yozi invasion. But that doesn’t even make any sense. Their bindings prevent them from even passing into Creation, let alone into unknown further worlds.
But what else fits the circumstances?
As you wait for Keine to finish, you find yourself going back into your mental Gateway game against yourself that you started earlier.
In your head, you make the thousandth move, pushing your Dragon back into its Pole, signalling the end of the Early Game.
The Early Game is the easiest part of Gateway, having a very predictable flow. It is the time when both opponents set their pieces up, taking the valuable strategic positions on the separate boards while making few if any captures.
But then a point is reached when posturing and jockeying means nothing, heralding the start of the Middle Game.
The Middle Game is the most chaotic time of Gateway, when both forces bring their pieces against each other. Dry memorised strategy is quickly replaced by quick bluffs and counter bluffs and the relatively safe atmosphere of the Early Game is replaced by a quick exchange where no playing piece is safe.
More to the point, it is when all the pieces have been finally set and the true problem begins.
Your imaginary opponent makes the first offensive move, descending his Red Siaka from a higher board to directly contest one of your minor dragon lines.
You nod in approval and prepare to reciprocate in kind.
End of Part One
[ ] Gather your team, Mr Investigator
[ ] Friends first
[ ] The lay of the land
[ ] Sight unseen
[ ] Give me proper choices, asshole. Nobody does this vague shit anymore.