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File 132997952424.jpg - (289.50KB , 1000x500 , Wasteland.jpg ) [iqdb]
153744 No. 153744
Forum ate my originals. Retrying.

~~~~~~~~~~

It is the final day before this world ends.

Underneath a shadowed sky choked lifeless with smog, the forces of the living are broken beyond hope of rally. The caverns of the venerable dwarves were the first to be overrun by the legions of the dead, their impossibly dense formations smashing past the ancestral wards and overcoming each once-invincible fortress through sheer mass; now the tunnels are used for the movement of His forces, swarming out of the ground with total disregard for the traditional formations of warfare. The forests of the eternal elves are little more than ash, long since killed by the spreading corruption even before the pyroclasms that tore the earth itself asunder and unleashed firestorms across its surface, the craters slowly filling with Taint: pure mana tainted by unimaginable evil, so concentrated it spills into the Plane material. The fecund humans, the last of your former kin, are the only remaining survivors of His massacre, and they are hopelessly outmatched.

Even the concurrent Planes are in danger – the first tendrils of His influence have begun to take root in at least a dozen different worlds, sometimes noticed, sometimes not; but regardless of detection none of them have been repulsed. When He Ascends, and the Plane becomes His and only His, these tendrils will become His hands in a cross-planar feeding frenzy. By the time they realize and react, gods will be no match for Him.

But right now, that is only His plan. Right now, He is a step away from His Ascension.

Arrogantly, He sets it into motion early. This is your only chance.

The last vestiges of resistance have not yet been crushed, and already He spreads His legions thin across the lands in preparation for the ritual that will put every drop of the Plane’s mana underneath His control. Like a cat toying with its prey, He allows one final battalion of grim-faced survivors to mass near the miles-tall Citadel that He built tall into the sky, the better to Taint the clouds themselves. They think that by toppling the structure and interrupting His Ascension, there is a hope of returning their Plane back to the way it was.

Fools. Even if they did – a hopeless task for them anyways – the Taint infecting this world has run too deep. His removal would only mean the eventually destruction of all remaining life, as opposed to His planned instantaneous coup-de-grace of it.

Therefore, you have given up all hope of interrupting the Ascension.

You are going to usurp Him and take control of it.

Turning away from the scrying mirror, you let your fingers gently run over the Citadel schematics one last time, the bone-white stone the plans are carved into the exact same shade as your skin. There’s too much for one, even one as powerful as you, to accomplish at the same time.

The ground floors and surrounding outposts of the Citadel must be obliterated; these areas connect the Citadel to the rest of the Plane. By eliminating these connections, you prepare the world for your own control, as opposed to His. You know how you will handle this already; this is the easiest part, in fact. All you have to do is let Marcus handle it. A faithful companion animated from little more than leather, wood, and metal into a sapient, living form, you’ve bonded with him over the centuries you’ve trained in this sanctum. He has the power to lead the remaining humans to victory over the undead, a shining champion of the deity of life that animated him and brought him to you; the power to blow the Taint-bearing winds aside; the power to best His own champions even when outnumbered; the power to enhance each man underneath his command into a physical godling worthy to fight alongside him.

Marcus thinks that you will bring life back to this Plane; this is why he has spent centuries with you, preparing for this day. Your only regret about this entire affair will be having to betray him.

You also know how you will handle the hardest part; removing Him from his seat of power at the top of the Citadel. Fortunately, this is simple to plan, if not to execute: all you have to do is break through His defenses and duel Him to the death. In the time you’ve had to prepare, you know exactly how the battle will play itself out, know exactly what methods He will try to use to kill you, know exactly how to subvert them and stand victorious.

It is the last task that remains unaccounted for. The center section of the Citadel is dedicated to “aligning” the user, a bridge between you at the top of it and the Plane underneath it. Aligning it is not an exertion of sheer power, but a feat of incomprehensible intellect on the scale of calculating the exact positions of the Planes within the multiverse. Without it, the Ascension will merely annihilate the Plane, as opposed to making you its ruler.

You need someone who can derive billions of calculations with not only mathematical components, but physical, mental, magical, and spiritual ones as well – and you will need them completed in less than ten minutes.

Fortunately for you, Marcus has found someone capable of the task.

Stepping away from the plans-engraved table, you turn around, your gaze passing over the rest of the pocket dimension as you do so. Everything is made of white stone; you’d call it marble, but when magically conjured, you hesitate to connect it to anything from reality. Columns supporting nothing rise up out of the large, circular platform that floats in what appears to be air, but you truly know to be simply nothingness. Falling off would simply drop you back onto the center of the platform again. Braziers of unlit incense fit between each pair of pillars, blocking one from the edge anyways.

The table of plans is merely one of a dozen other stations of preparation within the sanctum. Several are archways, gateways into other pocket dimensions for various purposes: in one you developed and refined the methods you plan to – you will use to defeat Him, while another was used by Marcus for much the same purpose. The mirror was used to scry upon your Plane and keep up with the developing situation as it went by at the pace of a day there, a year here, and a small model of the entire platform you carefully step over was the interface through which both of you constructed, customized, and maintained the demiplane. If you bother to stop and squint at it, you can even make out the model’s own portrayal of itself… of itself… of itself… you lose sight of it after that.

However, the only station that matters now is a simple, one-candle candelabra, where a lone, thin, fragile-looking taper sits. Flanking it are two circles of powdered silver, and across from those is a censer filled with holy water. The circles aren’t your creations, but you have full faith in Marcus’s work to hold against whatever struggles the called outsider will put up.

And given what you’re asking of it, they’ll definitely be put to the test.

With a snap of your fingers, you light the candle of invocation. If you were able to smell the scent it released, you’d have found yourself grinning stupidly as scents reminiscent about everything good about life fill the unmoving air of the pocket dimension - but you don’t regret your inability to smell it for an instant, for being able to would have meant sacrificing all your preparations.

And so you simply wait for the magic to happen.
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>> No. 153745
File 132997956239.jpg - (143.38KB , 850x679 , Ghosts Ran.jpg ) [iqdb]
153745
There’s no fanfare, but its entrance is impressive regardless. Even though it arrives without a single flare of light or whisper of sound, its presence immediately fills the entire demiplane. Ears pin back in revulsion underneath a cloth cap, concealed but clearly visible nonetheless, and its nine tails, furred in light amber and taking up almost as much space as the rest of its body again, quickly fan themselves out in a single flick before freezing in place to make herself appear massive, aided by the flowing robes she wears. Almost absently you note that perhaps should have asked for Marcus to make the magic circle against law smaller, if only to prevent such a confidence-boosting display on its part, but you check yourself: letting it feel comfortable at first is part of the script.

Most tellingly, to your gaze it washes out the entire demiplane in unbelievably intense light, its aura even reaching past the boundary of the circle. It opens its mouth to speak at you, managing to suggest a snarl despite its calm, dignified speech. Maybe it’s the eyebrows, tented in derision, but you attribute it more to the glint of pure murder in its eyes – the outsider is female, you note belatedly.

Only then you notice that its words have flown by you already, and you grasp backwards in your memory to bring them back to the surface.

“You finally deign to summon me. I am currently busy, so make this quick. What is this about?”

‘Finally.’ It anticipated this calling, matching up with the situation. Of course it’s busy – one of His tendrils has been working its way into this outsider’s Plane for years, and if a being as powerful as the one standing before you failed to notice, then it would not have the intellect you desired. Or any intellect worth a damn, for that matter.

Carefully tuning your sight to reduce its aura to a manageable glow, you open your own mouth to reply. “I have an offer you cannot refuse. You will either serve me, or you will leave now. Choose.”

As inquisitive as you knew it to be, it remains, unmoving; trying to sound you out before it dismisses you offhand. “Neither,” it asserts. “you will tell me why you interrupt my services.”

“To make this offer to you, of course,” you reply smoothly, a smile crossing your white face.

Instantly realizing that this method of questioning will get it nowhere, it narrows its eyes at you in annoyance and bites. “Make it.”

“You will temporarily set aside your current service – “

“Impossible,” it dares to interrupt you. "My service to Lady Yukari is adamant.” It drops the name deliberately. If it did not judge its current master to be more powerful than you, it would have concealed the name – a warning, then, or possibly even a threat.

Knowing Lady Yukari’s abilities already, you’re well aware that it’s a threat at this point.

“ – temporarily,” you repeat, after the outsider finishes. “I do not require your services for long. A few hours at most, if almost nothing goes according to plan, and half an hour at the very least, should everything work out.”

That gets its attention; its tails shift slightly, betraying its curiosity. “One does not use such powerful calling magics to ask for an hour’s favor.”

You shake your head. “This case is special, as you probably guessed.”

Again, its eyes narrow, but this time in thought. “Explain.”

You do, in a few concise sentences, leaving out the details. Annihilate a few hordes of His underlings, duel a few of His champions along the way which, as you know from the outsider’s aura, will be no match for it, and then –

“ – you will use your intellect to align the Citadel for a certain purpose. I know that the target is me, and the source the Plane, but other than that, I will rely on your judgment.” you spend a few more choice sentences explaining the multi-faceted nature of the variables involve – enough to get across that you haven’t the slightest clue how to complete the task, but it will.

The tails lower slightly, perceiving you as less of a threat now as it diverts more of its attention to bear on the problem you presented. “I have calculated the width of the Sanzu River in my spare time,” it says slowly, “and contemplated the time it would take to reach the stars. This sounds within my grasp – but I still will not leave Lady Yukari’s service, even for such a tempting proposition.”

It’s ‘tempted’; therefore, capable of the task outlined, just as Marcus said it was. “Can you not be in the service of more than one at the same time? It would not be for long, as I have said.”

It shakes its head, seemingly relaxed enough to break eye contact with you now. “Impossible. A shikigami’s contract requires absolute loyalty – and this same contract will recall me the moment you relinquish the magic calling me here,” it openly informs you, willing to let facts slip and bargain openly with you now. She’s right about the recall part, too – for now, at any rate. “May I ask, for what purpose am I ‘aligning’ this Citadel?”

You already know the shikigami will serve you in the end. Without knowing what you know, it does not. And so you tell it the truth, the truth you deigned to tell your benefactor Marcus: “To bring all the mana of the Citadel’s Plane underneath My solitary control.”

That instantly raises its hackles, and more. Its aura flares, brighter than it was before you turned it down, forcing you to turn down that sense off completely. “YOU!!!” it shrieks, its voice resonating in frequencies that you didn’t even know existed until now. “YOU’RE THE ONE!!!

You stand in awe as Marcus’s circle is put to the test. Without your magically enhanced reflexes, you wouldn’t have caught the various pentagrams and casters’ glyphs materializing in the air around it, as all its tails press together and tuck behind its body in preparation for –

magnificent.

You thought you were powerful. You thought He was powerful. But this power is on a whole different level: righteous fury, absolute hatred, and a caged animal’s desperation all combined into one awesome display of force.

For a second you doubt Marcus’s circle will last, but as the torrent of fire continues you relax, realizing that each orb, bullet, ray, and wave simply disappear at the edge of the silver circle, and simply marvel at the shikigami’s exertions, its attempts to strike down what it perceives to be the mastermind behind its home Plane’s infiltration.

You’re sure that if there was more space in the circle, you’d have appreciations beyond the mere power it’s demonstrating, but as it stands all you see is its silhouette within an impossibly bright white light. You let the show continue for a few minutes, but eventually shake your head. “Stop this, please,” you ask, your voice dangerously sweet. “We both know that despite your power, you can’t break this circle, and I can’t do anything to you. Let us talk.”

It realizes this truth as well; immediately the display ends, but where there was once a half-curious shikigami, there is only a ball of tranquil, contained rage. “There is nothing to talk about. I know exactly what you plan to do with my home, and I. Will. Not. Let. you.” it intones, syllable by syllable.

Letting yourself chuckle shallowly, you wave a hand in a patronizing matter. “No, no, not at all,” you assure it. “First of all, the Citadel is already aligned to do that, just so you know.”

“So what was the point of telling me all that? Did you call me here to bind me here, to keep me from defending Gensokyo while you attacked? Because guess what?” it reveals, now attempting to take you off-balance by gloating. “Lady Yukari knows all about this now, and we’re getting ready for you. There’s nothing a shikigami’s master doesn’t know from her servant.”

“No, no, no,” you sigh. “I need you, because it’s aligned… for the wrong person. There is another. Him,” and there your anger gets the best of you, making the word come out between clenched teeth. Unsticking your jaw, you continue, “After I defeat Him, there is a window of time in which you will realign the Citadel for me, before the Citadel tears itself and the Plane apart.”

“Those details matter not to me. Either way, Gensokyo is invaded. I will not serve you,” it repeats. Slowly, it returns to its original stance, tails fanned out, arms crossed, eyes dangerous. “There is nothing more to say - ”

“Oh, I’m afraid that there is plenty more to say,” you interrupt, beginning the endgame. “Shikigami, have you wondered who your servant has been consorting with? That very kind, strange-faced man that’s been keeping it company back in Gensokyo while you were busy walking the planes, searching for a way to stop the Ascension?”

The sudden storm of emotions across its face is painful to watch – some part of you is ashamed at playing it so masterfully, but you shove that thought aside. Stick with the script, you remind yourself.

It says nothing, but you don’t have to even see its face to know what it’s thinking. Oh. Oh no. Oh no oh no oh no.

Turning to the scrying mirror, you tap it, thinking of Marcus’s oddly shaped head, the abstractly patterned plate that passes for his face. “Marcus? Bring the servant’s servant in.”

Marcus’s voice, so human and yet completely unreal, flows back through the silver surface. “Be there in sixty seconds plus a few more, mate.”

That raises an eyebrow. “Sixty seconds?” you ask. “Oddly specific.”

“We’re playing a game!” he chuckles. “And I lost the last one, sixty-second forfeit of letting her score freely. I just have to wait, oh, fifty-one more – “

Heaving a dramatic sigh, you wave the mirror off, cutting off Marcus’s explanation even as the shikigami gapes at you in growing horror. If there is one thing that you won’t miss about Marcus, it’s how impossibly nice he is. Of course he’d be playing with the prisoner – he’s not as cruel as to leave it alone. You admit to yourself that even you wouldn’t be so cold as to just leave it in solitary confinement, but you wouldn’t spend every waking hour entertaining it, either.

Then again, you remind yourself, it is just a little girl.
>> No. 153747
File 13299797665.jpg - (81.60KB , 488x550 , Kneeling Chen.jpg ) [iqdb]
153747
Seventy-seven seconds later, Marcus suddenly materializes in the circle adjacent to the shikigami’s. Just over seven feet tall, he cuts an imposing figure, the immaculate, polished metal plates covering the majority of his body appearing all the world like a suit of armor. The wood and leather that they fit over clearly mark him as inhuman. Despite this, his presence rapidly diminishes when he awkwardly brings a hand to the back of his head, his posture slouching with one hip thrust out, looking for all the world like some embarrassed teenager.

“Wow, mate. Quite the looker, that one, didn’t expect the tails. Impressive, but no match for the circle, eh? Hold on a sec, Chen’s coming in just a moment...” he trails off, obviously concentrating despite his lack of a moving face, holding out a hand expectantly to his side.

The target of his comments has been reduced to quivering in place, clenching its fists, head hung low, averting its gaze from Marcus. You can see the rising hysteria, the shattering reserve, its emotions surging forth for one key moment –

And, just as the elder shikigami had once itself appeared, so appears the younger, only reaching up to Marcus’s hip. As soon as it does, Marcus begins gesturing, pointing to the braziers lining the demiplane’s edges, igniting each one in turn with a muttered word, while you quickly turn around and grab the censer from the stand, waving it around while swiftly walking the edges of the demiplane, splashing holy water all over the stone floor: another part of the script, and a key one.

But the new visitor doesn’t pay any attention to that. Compared to its master, it barely has an aura at all, but you can feel the power coming off it regardless. Dressed in a red dress and green cap, hand clasped in the construct’s, the tiny, cat-eared girl’s young features flip from confusion to joy in an instant. “Lady Ran!” it squeals, its own two tails suddenly shooting straight upward in ecstatic greeting. “Have you been well – “

That’s too much for it. The elder shikigami collapses to its knees, holding its arms out beseechingly. “CHEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEN!!!” it cries out, tears already streaking down its cheeks, face contorted in emotional torture. Its ears are pressed flat forward in distress; its tails thrashing about in the same. It keeps enough of its wits about it to not waste energy blasting against the barrier, but from the way its aura keeps flaring, it keeps thinking about it. Again, something inside you twinges, but you shut it down instantly. Script. Script. Script.

The younger shikigami surges forth eagerly, faster than your vision can track, but doesn’t let go of Marcus’s armored hand and so stops short, limbs flying about awkwardly in aborted inertia. If Marcus wasn’t made of metal and wood, he’d have dislocated a joint at the very least. “Hey, love, wait just a second. You can’t cross that line yet, you understand? It’s not Lady Ran’s fault, but we can’t cross it, but if you just wait a second we can fix that – “ The cleric’s reassurances seem to work, as it looks between the two of them, obviously torn. In the end, it listens, compromising by pulling Marcus over as close as possible to the edge of the circle. It reaches out a hand towards its master, encountering an unmoving invisible barrier – it eagerly presses itself up against the magic circle against chaos, staring with wide eyes at the elder shikigami, who stares right back.

Tempting it had been a drawn out affair: Until now, Marcus hasn’t been on this demiplane proper for almost entire year. Knowing how hard the younger’s master was working to investigate His tendril into Gensokyo, Marcus had just now reassured the younger that by going with him for a little bit, it could lead its master to what it was looking for. That would mean the two shikigami could be together again, instead of the younger waiting for weeks at a time between visits, the intervals growing longer and longer, the elder looking more and more haggard with every stop back.

“It comes with him willingly,” you explain, intentionally gloating over the elder shikigami, letting the depth of the servant’s servant’s crime sink in. “It missed you so. It only wanted to see you more often; it was only worried that you were overworking yourself.”

“Lies,” it hisses, but without conviction.

“Shikigami,” you start again, feeling the tide turn. “You will serve me.”

“No,” it whispers hoarsely, its gaze still locked with that of its servant.

Regretfully, you play your final card. “Shikigami, I do not wish to make this hard for either of us. But…” you raise your hand, and tilt your head as if examining it, letting arcane energies crackle between your outstretched fingertips. “As you said… ‘There’s nothing a shikigami’s master doesn’t know from her servant,’ was it?”

Fortunately, the younger shikigami is too entranced with its master to pay attention to your words, but the elder hears you, and understands exactly what you mean, absolutely mortified at the thought of anything unfortunate and painful befalling its servant. Marcus shifts, obviously uncomfortable with this part; he’d recognized the application of pressure as necessary, but he’d fought against it for as long as he could out of principle, and even then only allowed it with the oath that no actual torture would be done if the ploy failed.

However, that had been an oath you’d sworn without a moment’s hesitation, knowing from Marcus’s reports that the ploy had no chance of failure. Why else, then, would the elder shikigami bother visiting its servant at home at all? And why would it leave its servant behind as it undertook dangerous investigations across the planes, forsaking potential help, if it didn’t care for it at all?

“I – even if I wanted to, I couldn’t,” it wavers, trying to use an outside excuse to reveal its true desires. “I can’t – break my own contract…”

“That is not a problem. For our sake, miracles will be wrought.” This is another tricky part, the transfer of the shikigami’s ‘unbreakable’ contract – but Marcus literally has a miracle in his pocket, the bestowed favor of the gods given form on paper, inks, and enough stored magic to level a city block. Acquired only at great cost, it can get around the ‘unbreakable contract’ by not breaking it, but overwriting it, a level of divine shenanigans neither of you can accomplish by yourselves. “Your current contract is not a problem; but you must agree to ours, first.”

There is a terrible, gaping silence as the elder shikigami tears its gaze away from its servant’s, looking up at you with such a shattered expression you feel your heart would break. A minute passes, then two, as the younger shikigami, now without a face to look into, shifts uncomfortably, not understanding the standoff between the three grown-ups, two within circles of silver, one without.

“Three hours, shikigami. No more than three hours. Align the Citadel, and the moment before the Ascension happens, I release you back to Gensokyo to do whatever you wish.” you nod, as if to reassure it. “You will be allowed to fight against me after you have made it back safely.”

The elder shikigami swallows, unable to present a cogent argument, torn as it is between duty to its master and its love for its servant. “Something ran into the forbiddance. Planar travel denied.” Marcus informs you, his voice crisp and business-like this time, not the easy talk of before. You nod back in acknowledgement. ‘Lady Yukari’. Her planar travel powers had been a pain to plan around – the spell had to be dropped for just a few minutes to gate in her first shikigami, and only re-raised after Marcus and Chen entered the sanctum. You’d been counting on her being unwilling to instantly play her hand and reveal herself, instead choosing to use her servant as her earpiece; counting on her reluctance to instantly respond, to instead try to sit back and have a clear advantage.

But it had worked. There is nothing she can do to stop you now.

“You hear that, shikigami?” you push, driving the point home. “Lady Yukari can’t help you anymore. She can’t reach you, and where we’re going, she still won’t be able to reach you. Now, we can do this the hard way, where I have to call my backup help, get what I want, and have to make the two of you regret resisting me.” A bluff; you don’t actually know of another who can do what you need, but it doesn’t have to know that. “Or, we do this the easy way, where you help me get what I want – and none of us have to get hurt. Quick and painless.” you pause, as if weighing your next words carefully. “There’s only one logical decision here.”

Another minute of silence crawls by, maybe more; you’re glad that time travels much faster in the outside planes than in the sanctum. Has it really only been a few minutes since you first gated the shikigami in? You’ve lost all sense of time in the demiplane, with no defined day and night.

But then, slower than a growing stalactite, the elder shikigami’s head drops in a nod, painfully and unwillingly extracted. “I – I understand my situation. I have – no choice,” it admits, all composure forsaken as it sinks to the ground onto its knees, its robe pooling onto the stone as it kowtows before you.

You nod in acknowledgment, dying a little bit inside at the sight of such a prideful soul breaking. “This is the contract, then. Duration: three hours, completion of the alignment of the Citadel, or any point chosen prior by the Master. Obedience required. You are permitted free will, with the following restrictions…” Carefully, you recite the contract you and Marcus drew up from memory, one without an unforeseen loophole that could be jumped through and exploited to the failure of the whole operation. Throughout it all, the elder shikigami simply stares unseeing at your face, completely in despair, unwilling or unable to look at its own servant, the leverage that was forcing it to do this.

“… Marcus, if you would, witness the new contract?” you finish.

“Of course,” he says, his voice gruff, clearly hating every moment of the current proceedings. Drawing an ornate case from a bandolier across his chest, he cracks it open and expertly unfurls a long sheet of vellum, every letter beautifully illuminated with gold and mithril: the miracle, sidestepping Lady Yukari’s bindings and forging a new set between you and the shikigami. “Contract witnessed. I pronounce you: master and shikigami.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Proofread by Mr. McAwesomeCoolDude Treia.

I expect updates to come weekly, given my schedule.

Introduction will be finished with first choice open this weekend. Please wait warmly~
>> No. 153749
This looks interesting. I'm completely unaware of what its setting is from, but it's interesting.
>> No. 153751
interesting

I expect this will backfire and we will be sent to Gensokyo with no powers and at the mercy of our enemies.
>> No. 153771
Damn this sounds like it's going to be good.
>> No. 153772
Damn this sounds like it's going to be good.
>> No. 153779
>>153749
From the clues in the text, I'd say it's D&D (spells like "Magic Circle Against [Alignment]", "Forbiddance", "Gate", "Miracle", a.s.o. as well as things like the item "Candle of Invocation", or the systematized way he refers to The Planes). Might be generic, but could also be Eberron given than Marcus sounds like a Warforged from his description.

I'm very interested in finding out more about the protagonist, though.
Sounds like he might be a (very recently turned, since it doesn't appear to be obvious) lich or other kind of intelligent undead.
Things like the fact that humans are referred to as being "former kin" and him being unable to smell anything, as a result of his preparations to usurp the local Dark Lord and become the focus of an entire plane's worth of "corrupted mana".
Although, he sounds like a Good character (he clearly hates having to threaten and compel Ran like this, and would have preferred to not betray Marcus either) which usually isn't very compatible with being undead. Hmmm...
That's just sorta wild guessing on my part, though.

Either way, I'll be keeping an eye on this story. If I'm already sitting here trying to figure out the protagonist like this even before the first choice, it's definitely pretty awesome.

Waiting so warmly you could put a pan on me and fry an egg.
>> No. 153800
File 133007145097.jpg - (140.16KB , 850x954 , Skeptical Ran.jpg ) [iqdb]
153800
I said I was going to update this weekend? I lied.

I’M UPDATING NOW BITCHES

Just don’t expect this kind of behavior in the future. I-i-i-it’s not that I like this s-s-s-story or anything, don’t get the wrong idea!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

You thought you turned off your aurasight, but the moment Marcus finishes his sentence your vision melts in a brilliant flash that seems to go on forever, and ever, and ever, and ever, and ever, and ever, and…

… it takes you a few seconds to realize that what you’re seeing isn’t an aura, but the effects of an ongoing magical effect. So the bond between master and shikigami is strong enough to manifest outwardly, is it? Interesting, but given the – your, you correct yourself – shikigami’s earlier display of ability, you’d expect nothing less.

Marcus breaks the silence with a timid question. “… hey, can we break the circles already? Chen’s looking a little green with anticipation over here – “

“Yes, yes, yes,” you mindlessly acquiesce with a wave of your hand, distracted. A quick clank of metal later, you hear Marcus knock holes in the two powdered silver lines that outline the two circles keeping the shikigami apart with a single toe. From beyond the veil of your aura-obscured vision, there’s a wrenching wail and a jubilant squeal, and you can feel two warm bodies slam into each other in a tangled mess of limbs.

A few seconds pass; the sound of creaking wood rubbing against metal fills the demiplane as the living construct shifts from one foot to the other, clearly at a loss as to how to react to the display. ‘There’s nothing a shikigami’s master doesn’t know from her servant,’ your servant had said. How to access this information –

– as natural as breathing, facts pop into your surface thoughts, kind of like recalling forgotten appointments or the names of acquaintances from the last week when you hadn’t yet augmented your memory with magic: your shikigami is approximately eight feet away from you, straight ahead; it is emotionally distressed, but unharmed; its own shikigami is with it… a thousand other little insignificant notes about your new servant wash over you, and you let them float through your subconscious for a time, simply familiarizing yourself with the territory.

After a few seconds, you “push” deeper in, mentally steering yourself towards one of these ‘details’ –

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

How could he? Chen/daughter, he/evil implied/threatened/endangered your love/Chen/daughter, all for the sake/reason/cause of his/its mission/plan/plot, that will devastate/attack/endanger Gensokyo/home and now/currently/right now he/that bastard is daring

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Recoiling from that flow of thoughts, you blink several times as if to clear your vision. It’s an unneeded physical focus, but the act both calms you and lets you concentrate on retuning your sight yet again, finally bringing the visible spectrum of light in the demiplane to your attention.

First of all – it thinks on a completely different level than you. Is that inhuman intellect? It must be; you may be knowledgeable on various subjects, but that’s no substitute for raw brainpower. If you had to describe the way the information came at you, you would compare it to a being at the center of an art museum, where each of those things you had first identified as a‘detail’ is actually an individual masterpiece capable of inspiring dozens of thoughts and feelings at the same time. You’re somewhat in awe; you were never good at mental complexity, only at sheer force of will. That’s the reason you don’t carry one of those silly spellbooks around, anyways. More reliable, too.

You first realize that your mental description needs work, and chalk it up to a lack of said inhuman intellect. Good thing no one else in the demiplane could hear that. You next realize that your rational mind is unintentionally stalling for time, and you give it a swift kick to get it back on track.

That mind-reading episode really did take you off balance, you conclude.

So your shikigami thinks of you as a villain, then? Of course. You’ve done nothing but antagonize it, threaten it, taunt it, even. It has no other conclusions to draw. Still, though, having the most personal proof possible hurts you inside, but angrily you shake it off as a dog would water from its coat. You have other things to worry about.

For example, like how you’re all about to enter the most important fight of your lives. For the three major powers in the room – you exclude your shikigami’s own servant from that association, as it is clearly not on any of your levels – this is not a light statement to make. None of you are mortals, to burn like tindertwigs at your hottest for the slightest moment before winking out of existence. No, your fires have been carefully laid and set, to burn only more and more fiercely as your current abilities lead you to more fuel, more energy, more power.

For example, like the acquisition of your new shikigami, and with a mental sigh you realize you just came back to where you started.

“Is something the matter, mate?” Marcus finally asks, having waited patiently for at least a minute. “You seem distracted – “

“ – no, n-n-nothing’s wrong,” you rush to clarify, stumbling over your words. Like the water on a dog’s coat, guilt takes more than a mere shaking to cleanse. “Getting familiar with the new contract. It’s… interesting.” More than interesting, and you’d love to study it some more, but you did specify that contract for three hours, not three years. And in any case, even though three years in this demiplane means only three days on His Plane, there are only about three hours left, His Plane’s time, before his Ascends.

You need to hurry.

In an attempt to be expedient, you try the reverse of your earlier activity. Bringing the details of the attack plans to your surface thoughts, you attempt to fashion them into a ‘detail’ like one of those that had bombarded you from your shikigami’s mind, and fling it towards its inspirations, where it joins its fellows in a swirl of information.

You’re not sure how you know, but you know that your shikigami is now as familiar as you are with the painstakingly crafted timetables and contingencies, even though it makes no change to its current posture, crouched and desperately embracing its servant with not only its arms but more than a few of its tails as well. Unexpectedly, the equivalent of a flinch comes across your mental link, as if your shikigami felt as if it were being intruded upon, violated, even, and you realize you only draw such a mental image because it is drawing such a comparison itself, and its thoughts are crowding in on your thoughts as long as you remain in this mental intimacy –

Irritably, you flick a hand in its general direction, abandoning the speed of the mental link for audible words; much more familiar, and no unwelcome overtones. “Get up, shikigami. Marcus, we’re ready to begin the entry.” This is the final step of preparation. Your enemy has had enough time to cover His entire Plane in a forbiddance effect, the same that had blocked Lady Yukari from rudely interrupting your coercion of her servant, to prevent extraplanar attack.

However, you aren’t trying to break the forbiddance. You’re already inside of it. He just doesn’t know it yet.

If He had any idea, He'd be shitting His pants.
>> No. 153805
File 133007647897.gif - (18.18KB , 313x313 , hat_wand.gif ) [iqdb]
153805
[x] A small, handheld wand, black with white endcaps. (Painted wood, apparently -- not even lacquered.) At first glance, and to most nondestructive analyses, it looks a cheap nonmagical prop or child's toy. Even detect magic doesn't show anything out of the ordinary.

... unless it's in use, of course, in which case I hope you weren't looking directly at it when you activated it. (Unless I don't like you, in which case I hope you were.) It's a proper artifact, and so close enough to indestructible.

Mechanically this is more like a Diminutive staff. Sorcanon is formally unspecialized, but (when not just blowing shit up) has a tendency to reach for conjuration and illusion first.

(He also has the hat. It is nonmagical, except that he's cast Nystul's magical aura on it at some point. He has a custom-researched spell that does nothing but create a hat like that.)

[x] At the top of the Citadel. Get in his face immediately, and keep him from interfering with your army's interfering with him. Keep in mind that he may have started early to lure you out, and be prepared for his being prepared for you and your preparations. Poison both goblets.
>> No. 153806
File 133007702078.jpg - (274.77KB , 1100x854 , Mecha Winged Knight.jpg ) [iqdb]
153806
“I hear you loud and clear, boss man,” Marcus replies in a sing-song tone of voice, his hands gesturing as he triggers a ritual affecting the demiplane itself. There’s a distinct lurch in the stomach as the pocket dimension begins to disintegrate, converting its mass and substance into the energy required to deliver you safely. Unfazed, the cleric walks over to a statue depicting an angel with a bowed head and spread wings standing protectively over a baby in a cradle: his goddess, although you’ve never asked about the details, and he’s never felt the need to impress the knowledge upon you. “It’s begun~” he croons, laying his hands on the statue’s shoulders.

Your shikigami suddenly stands up, gently herding Chen underneath a few of its tails while it scrapes together its dignity to address you directly. Somehow it has already cosmetically repaired its appearance, its face no longer reddened and puffed, but you can still feel the festering hurt from your link – “Chen,” it states flatly, thankfully cutting off your train of thought before it goes on another guilt trip. “Chen needs to be kept somewhere safe. I won’t have her fighting beside me, it’s too dangerous in that Citadel – “

“Already thought of, mate,” Marcus answers her, bulldozing right over Chen’s own beginnings at a complaint. “Safest place on that Plane is going to be right beside me.”

You ignore the growing conversation, turning away to walk to the last relevant station for you on this demiplane, just as Marcus is doing. It’s a simple chest of wooden boards bound by a metal frame, which is subtly ironic, as the whole thing is actually formed from a single piece of molded white stone despite its form suggesting more suitable materials.

“That’s absurd!” your shikigami exclaims. Two latches seal the container, latches that slide open as smoothly as oiled metal. “You’re going to be in the middle of a battlefield – and leading the charge, no less!”

“Milady.” It’s unclear if he’s addressing your shikigami or his goddess, but either way he bows his head before the statue… and undergoes a magnificent change. The metal plates on his body grow outward, flowing in and out to form an absolutely breathtaking suit of armor. Scenes of myth draw themselves in loving detail on his back, chest, and shield, while holy scripture enscribes itself on every empty inch of his armored limbs. At the same time, his faceplate turns into the front of a metal-crested helmet, where the abstract designs that identify Marcus as himself shift and mold into an image of an avenging angel in full armor, swooping down up on some off-picture evildoer. A second later, the same sword and shield from the art literally drip from Marcus’s hands, smoothly disconnecting themselves to settle into the cleric’s closed fists as the angel’s massive, mechanized wings flick out in a single, smooth flap. Only now does he let his faceplate bend into a rough simile of the angel’s face, making him appear as inhuman as before.

He then proceeds to grow a cape to cap the ensemble off, for no adequately explored reason.

Your shikigami stands frozen, and blinks in surprise. You’re in much the same state, as you begin to feel a little overshadowed, crouched behind your half-open box; this is the first time you’ve ever seen Marcus like this. Marcus’s aura, which had until now been the dimmest thing compared to any of you other three, now shines brightest of all. Is this what they call the favor of the gods?

“Milady,” he repeats, his voice now several octaves deeper. He steps forward to lay a huge metal hand on her shoulder – half of his palm juts off into mid-air. “I swear to you that no matter what, I will deliver you your daughter Chen when this is done.”

And then he gives up trying to imitate the angel’s features, and changes his visage to a simple flat plate engraved simplest face ever: two dots for eyes, and a straight line with a curve connecting the ends for a mouth.

“And besides, I know how she’s a bundle of restless energy,” he chuckles, voice back up to its normal laughing tone. “I have just the outlet for allllll those exertions. By the time I’m done with her, she’ll be… oh, the second most powerful being fighting on that battlefield, I guess.”

Chen stares up with wonder at her friend’s new look; Ran opens and closes her mouth, trying to form a sentence. “What… is the most powerful being, then?” she asks, awed.

One dot becomes a sideways V for just a second. “Why, me, of course.”

Shaking your head in disgusted disbelief at his antics, you have barely enough time to scoop out the single item inside your box before the world around you disappears in a flash of light.

And deposits the four of you straight into hell.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

AUTHOR’S NOTES

Sorcanon is loosely based off of but is not a high level D&D 3.5 character with access to a few 8th level spells; no 9ths yet though. Don’t ask for a character sheet. The most important fact to note about Sorcanon is that while he has a limited amount of spells known, he has infinite spell slots available to him and essentially infinite save DCs. He does not not however have infinite caster levels; spell resistance and inherent traits are how enemies resist your attacks. Fa/tg/uy challenge: what build did I use to get here?

For example, Sorcanon could easily stick a hold monster immobilize target bitch on Cirno, but would have to land multiple spell-resistance reducers on, say, Remilia, to have even the slightest chance of success. Save-or-die/suck/loses are great for cannon fodder; for everything else, there’s danmaku in the form of too many spells to count.

Needless to say, suggestions of obvious game-breakers within these parameters (a way to cast anyspell out of his infinite slots, getting infinite actions with which to cast infinite spells in a single compressed moment of time, or an auto-hit, no-SR save-or-die) will be insta-vetoed. The story needs to still have conflict.

Further details of Sorcanon will be withheld until relevant.

All credit of the initial premise of D&D x Touhou goes to Demetrious, of A Wizard is You fame.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
>> No. 153807
File 133007709622.jpg - (62.60KB , 300x300 , Phat Lootz.jpg ) [iqdb]
153807
CHOOSE YOUR WEAPON

This item will survive anything as you as you live, although it may be damaged and/or rendered temporarily useless. Any such damages can be repaired in a few hours of uninterrupted work.

Sorcanon does not have access to any other self-crafted magic items nor a Magic-Mart to become Batman with. (No, he is not a walking Christmas tree, nor he does he have a scroll of very conditionally useful but totally ridiculous when relevant.)

Sorcanon is by default extremely talented at evocation blow shit up and conjuration make shit that sometimes also blows shit up. Your choice of item adds to Sorcanon’s proficiency in the various schools of magic, influencing his core style of combat. Sorcanon is not completely barred from casting spells he does not specialize in, but will cast them far less often and with lesser effect.

[ ] A shield. Its mass consists of nothing more than a grapefruit-sized orb of [ ] water/[ ] mercury/[ ] (write-in), yet when locked into a concave pane the size of a kite shield this liquid is impregnable against any physical assault you know of (although the inertia of blows, while dampened, will still carry through somewhat), and can even deployed as a wall or hemisphere, although strong or focused attacks can breach it when spread this thin. The shifting nature of the water also has a tendency to deflect incoming magic, both at random and to its source. Alternatively, it can be deployed as a diversion, bending light, sound, and even space itself as necessary to deceive your foes. Light as a feather, it bends and remolds itself in tight quarters and when you gesture to focus your magic so as to not get in the way, and wraps itself around your [ ] wrist/[ ] hand/[ ] (write-in) in the form of a bracer when not needed, where it can deploy itself at a moment’s notice. (This item specializes Sorcanon in abjuration protect shit, illusion make bitches see shit, and divination know and predict shit. He also gains a preference for cunning ploys, devious traps, and devastating counters.)

[ ] A sword. A [ ] longsword/[ ]scimitar/[ ] rapier/[ ] katana which can easily bisect a knight wearing full plate with a simple vertical slash/[ ] (write-in) of razor-sharp [ ] adamantine/[ ] mithral/[ ] crystal/[ ] dragonfang/[ ] cold iron/[ ] honest steel REAL MEN UUUH/[ ] (write-in), this weapon lacks the flexibility, both figurative and literal, of the shield. What it lacks in that department, however, it more than makes up for in destructive force. Enhancing your strength to that of a mighty giant, it ultimately makes you far more dangerous than one by concentrating such power into your humanoid frame – and granting you the ability to wield it with consummate skill, to apply all your newfound physical brawn through its blade and point precisely where it is most dangerous, bending physical laws of time and space as necessary to make itself a threat even on a battlefield dominated by magic. The sound of its slashes is a howl for blood, terrifying at the very least, and when its thirst is slaked, you feel yourself literally vibrate with energy. (This item specializes Sorcanon in necromancy do creepy shit and transmutation change shit. He also gains a preference for direct methods and frontal assault.)

[ ] A staff. [ ] Battered/[ ] Smooth/[ ] (write-in) with age and made of [ ] darkwood/[ ] mithral/[ ] dragonbone/[ ] a living sapling/[ ] (write-in), this staff is just barely taller than you are. While you ceased needing it as a balance aid eons ago, it does a much better job symbolizing the balance of your magic. Capable of creatively altering the known effects of a spell, it opens up legions of possibilities where once only one existed. The focus also acts as a battery, capable of holding magical charge for a period of time, unleashing potential hours of preparation in a few short-lived but absolutely glorious seconds. (This item generalizes Sorcanon and increases his spells known to make him stronger overall, if not in one area. He gains no specific preferences, except for a lack of direct physical combat that the shield and sword both encourage.)

[ ] Write-in. (Some exotic weapon? A ranged weapon? An accessory? Armor? Some wondrous item? Keep the power level within the three above presented examples, and name the associated schools of magic.) Don’t try to cheese out here. Be general in your terms of special abilities.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

CHOOSE YOUR ELL-ZEE

(See >>153744 for a general description of the three “victory points”: defeating Him at the top of the Citadel, the alignment of the Citadel, and the destroying the outposts and ground floors of the Citadel.)

[ ] At the top of the Citadel. You can get straight to your duel with Him after dealing with the obligatory guards, your shikigami can skip by and get straight to infiltrating the Citadel, and in the time it takes for the human army to react and mobilize, Marcus and his charge can make it to them, smashing any resistance along the way. You’ll have to split up immediately, which is potentially dangerous should something go wrong. However, should something go wrong unrelated to your ability to handle the three objectives, you’ll have the most time to react and recover, and you’ll get the drop on Him, hard. Overall completion time is a little longer than the second choice, though.

[ ] At one of the three outposts of the Citadel. Taking down the outposts and base of the Citadel is the objective with the most “work”. The four of you combined can focus on these for a time before you and your shikigami break off to the Citadel. This is safer, but you still eventually split up, although Marcus and the army will eventually be able to support your shikigami, if not you against Him. You’ll also make the best overall time to completion barring unexpected problems.

[ ] At the head of the human army. Don’t split the party, and especially not from the army. Move and support the army as it destroys the outposts and ground floors of the Citadel. The army can then assist your shikigami by holding off the enemy while it aligns the Citadel. You’ll still have to duel Him alone, though, but backup will be near. The main problem with this plan is that He has a great deal of time to react to and prepare against your movements.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Good luck! As a mad mage who’s planned for untold years to seize control of the ritual of another mad mage who’s planned to seize control of the entire Plane by infecting it with the most vile substance possible, you’ll need it!

I now warmly wait for votes~

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

>>153805

And of course the moment I think I can sneak in a typo-fix someone votes. Typical of my luck.
>> No. 153808
[x] A shield.
--[x] water
--[x] hand
[x] At the head of the human army.

Shield gotta shield.
>> No. 153812
a sword [x]
long sword [x]
honest steel [x]

[x] At one of the three outposts of the Citadel
>> No. 153817
File 133009533662.jpg - (59.00KB , 300x250 , shield.jpg ) [iqdb]
153817
[x] A shield.
-- [x] ectoplasm
-- [x] forearm
[x] At one of the three outposts of the Citadel.
>> No. 153818
[x] A scythe
-[x] of razor sharp dragonfang
[x] At one of the three outposts of the Citadel

Are scythes ok? It seems cooler with necromancy involved. If not, then a katana is fine too.

I have no idea of how the materials differ from each other and what changes they cause. I'm mainly choosing dragonfang because DRAGONS.
>> No. 153823
[x] A shield.
--[x] Quicksilver.
--[x] Wrist.
[x] At the top of the Citadel.

Should give Him the least amount of time to react possible.

Man, Marcus is bro. Can we at least explain to him that there was no other choice? And if there was another choice, we're officially an asshole.

I don't think we're a Lich, because we have skin. I'd say we're more of a ... vampire.
>> No. 153824
[x]>>153818

Seconding the entire post.
>> No. 153825
[x] A shield.
-- [x] ectoplasm
-- [x] wrist
[x] At one of the three outposts of the Citadel.

I wonder what ectoplasm would do. Would it stop immaterial attacks? Maybe allow us to turn immaterial by covering us? It'd definitely be spread too thin to defend against any attack that could hit ghosts, but it would still be pretty neat.
>> No. 153827
I'm a sucker for the classics.
[x] A staff.
-[x] Smooth
-[x] Darkwood

[x] At one of the three outposts of the Citadel.
>> No. 153836
File 133012203697.jpg - (49.02KB , 334x500 , Kid in Corner.jpg ) [iqdb]
153836
God, the one thing I regret about using an imageboard is you can't go back and touch up minor things: a sloppily worded sentence here, a minor incongruity there.

Oh, well, them's the lumps. Pic related to my current feelings.

I figure I'll officially call votes sometime in the middle of next week and have the next update by the next weekend. (Although there seems to be a definite preference at the moment, there could be a write-in or shift of opinion, and it's only been one day. Gotta be fair.)

>>153818

Nothing's wrong with a scythe at all. Although in real life the reach of a scythe is hopelessly short, making it useless as a weapon, it won't be so here - it'll be a tool of absolute death-reaping.

Materials are simply a creative stimulant. For example, I might decide that a dragonbone weapon has more prominent necromantic effects; also DRAGONS, as you mentioned. An adamantine one, one the other had, might be absurdly sharp, so sharp it can cut things that aren't physical. It's all possibility~

>>153823

Noted. I'll ensure that an option to talk with Marcus will appear later.

As for undead conjectures, all I leave you with is this:

ಠ_ಠ

Due to personal experiences/traumas, I hate vampiric protagonists with an irrational passion. As long as I'm writing, the monsters can go die; they don't belong in my world. I won't spoil what Sorcanon is right now, but I insist that a vampire is not one of them. Not saying that you won't be running into vampires yourself later on, though.

>>153825

As far as I know, ectoplasm is what the Astral/Ethereal plane uses to interact with the Material Plane, not what solid people use to interact with the Astral/Ethereal Plane, so no, an ectoplasm shield will not grant its wielder such traits without further enchantments. This being said, an ectoplasm shield would provide extremely effective protection against metaphysical attacks; for example, it would hold off incorporeal undead like allips and shadows.

For the record, going ethereal is a potential spell, but one that falls squarely underneath transmutation.
>> No. 153837
[x] A scythe
-[x] of razor sharp dragonfang
[x] At one of the three outposts of the Citadel
>> No. 153840
[x] A sword.
-[x] Katana
-[x] Crystallized earth, air, fire, and water elemental power.

[x] At one of the three outposts of the Citadel.
>> No. 153842
[x] A shield.
-- [x] air
-- [x] hand
[x] At one of the three outposts of the Citadel.

If air isn't valid, please replace it with acid and change hand to wrist. If acid won't count because it would burn us, a shield made of spiced wine would be interesting.
>> No. 153846
[x] A scythe
-[x] of razor sharp dragonfang

[x] At one of the three outposts of the Citadel
>> No. 153849
>>153840 here, I decided I like something else better.

[x]>>153842
>> No. 153860
[x] A shield.
-[x] Mercury
-[x] Hand

Let's bust some thermometers.
>> No. 153862
[x] A shield
-[x] Mercury
-[x] Wrist

I like the aesthetics of a shield made of a rippling, liquid silver material.
Besides.. Abjuration, Illusion and Divination means mastermind plotting LIKE A BOSS.
>> No. 153946
[x] A shield.
-- [x] ectoplasm
-- [x] wrist
[x] At one of the three outposts of the Citadel.

Wooooo I'm a ghost shield.
>> No. 153968
>>153862
Oh right, forgot to vote about the other thing.

[X] At one of the three outposts of the Citadel.
>> No. 154002
File 133038163553.png - (228.25KB , 360x385 , Energy Shield Man.png ) [iqdb]
154002
Shields of various materials are leading by a large margin, although dragonfang scythes did make a good showing.

In light of this, I'll be calling a secondary vote, to narrow down the material and position of the shield.

[X] A shield of…
-[ ] Quicksilver (that’s mercury for you scientist chaps)
-[ ] Ectoplasm
-[ ] Air

[X] … stored on the…
-[ ] Wrist
-[ ] Hand

I’ll call the vote officially on Thursday night (exams = no working in the middle of the week), work on the update Friday, get it proofread, and probably have it up by Saturday, although if a fey mood strikes me it may be up Friday night. Please wait warmly~
>> No. 154007
[X] Hydrargyrum (You started this "sciency-er than thou"-arms race, not me!) Mercury
-[X]Hand

A fluid metallic glove, expanding into a rippling shield of silver to block attacks. Fuck yeah!
>> No. 154017
[x] Quicksilver (that’s mercury for you
-[x] Wrist
>> No. 154027
[x] Quicksilver
-[x]Wrist

It's all in the wrist baby.
>> No. 154029
[x] Ectoplasm.
- [x] Wrist.

inb4 quicksilver spell containment failure and mercury poisoning.
>> No. 154032
[x] Ectoplasm
-[x] Hand
>> No. 154033
[x] Quicksilver
-[x] Wrist

Mercury looks better, aesthetics wise.
>> No. 154035
[x] Quicksilver
-[x] Hand

Wrist is too mainstream.
>> No. 154074
[x] Quicksilver
-[x] Wrist

Really don't care between hand & wrist. Good ole coin-flips.
>> No. 154077
[x] Ectoplasm.
- [x] Wrist.
>> No. 154079
File 133049471333.gif - (71.75KB , 400x266 , loon_mercury_poisoning.gif ) [iqdb]
154079
>>154029

As amusing of a sentiment this is, mercury poisoning implies the material of your shield slowly dissolving into the poisonee's tissue, which fortunately won't happen.

Pic of a loon gone loony with mercury poisoning, trying to swallow a crab whole. (The loon dies.)

Update writing has begun ahead of schedule. Vote not called yet, however, feel free to continue voting.
>> No. 154081
[x] Quicksilver
-[x] Wrist

Bracer > Glove

I guess we're trying to interrupt Karsus' Avatar or something?
>> No. 154082
[x] Ectoplasm
[x] Hand

Ghost handjob, whoo whoo!
>> No. 154102
File 133064390194.png - (73.23KB , 256x192 , Liquid Metal Shield.png ) [iqdb]
154102
>>154081
>I guess we're trying to interrupt Karsus' Avatar or something?

A similar scale of possible oh-teh-noes, but not quite.

Vote called. Pic related. Writing now. Please wait warmly~
>> No. 154104
>>154102
Lessee, Maya means it's DQ4, where the LMS casts snub, which shields you from magic damage.

So my guess is spell resistance.
>> No. 154110
So wait, why didn't we tell Ran we're not interested in her plane and helping us would halt, if not remove, the influence?

Are we evil? I hope we're not evil.
>> No. 154111
>>154110

That bothered me as aell, but I'm fine with being evil.
>> No. 154112
>>154110

Hmm, possibly. By the looks of it, the MC should be neutral or evil.

Regardless, I'm actually hoping Ran will receive some sort of punishment for choosing Chen over Yukari. If her consent was indeed needed for the contract to be altered, I would be pretty pissed if my shikigami accepted a new master, specially someone who seems to be causing harm to my home.
>> No. 154113
>>154110
She wouldn't have believed him at this point anyway.

And being Evil doesn't mean we have to go around kicking puppies and setting fire to the weak and downtrodden.
>> No. 154119
>>154113
>And being Evil doesn't mean we have to go around kicking puppies and setting fire to the weak and downtrodden.

Ah, it doesn't? Uh, well, I can be fine with this too.

But, hyphoteticaly speaking, if we had the choice to do so, could we do it?
>> No. 154120
>>154119
Given the choice? Yeah, sure.

It's a bit in bad taste if not done for profit in my opinion though. Then again I've always had a bit of leanings toward the Lawful side.
>> No. 154123
File 133074330138.jpg - (304.29KB , 800x587 , a_boy_and_his_blob.jpg ) [iqdb]
154123
>Arrogant, high-level magus who enacts elaborate plans and strategies
>Summons powerful servant to fight for him
>Attacks the enemy's stronghold with a shield of amorphous quicksilver

What could possibly go wrong?

>>154119
>But, hyphoteticaly speaking, if we had the choice to do so, could we do it?

Burning down the tower in a fit of insanity, like other random acts of kindness/violence, is more indicative of a Chaotic disposition.

>>154102
>Vote called. Pic related. Writing now. Please wait warmly~

Hooray!
>> No. 154126
File 133075787693.jpg - (228.44KB , 474x653 , Tower.jpg ) [iqdb]
154126
RESULTS

[X] A shield. Its mass consists of nothing more than a grapefruit-sized orb of [X] quicksilver yet when locked into a concave pane the size of a kite shield, this liquid is impregnable against any physical assault you know of (although the inertia of blows, while dampened, will still carry through somewhat), and can even deployed as a wall or hemisphere, although strong or focused attacks can breach it when spread this thin. The shifting nature of the material also has a tendency to deflect incoming magic, both at random and to its source. Alternatively, it can be deployed as a diversion, bending light, sound, and even space itself as necessary to deceive your foes. Light as a feather, it bends and remolds itself in tight quarters and when you gesture to focus your magic so as to not get in the way, and wraps itself around your [X] wrist in the form of a bracer when not needed, where it can deploy itself at a moment’s notice.

[X] At one of the three outposts of the Citadel. Taking down the outposts and base of the Citadel is the objective with the most “work”. The four of you combined can focus on these for a time before you and your shikigami break off to the Citadel. This is safer, but you still eventually split up, although Marcus and the army will eventually be able to support your shikigami, if not you against Him. You’ll also make the best overall time to completion barring unexpected problems.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

For a few seconds, there’s this incredible sense of nowhere; no other word really describes it. You imagine it feels something like freefall, but of all the senses instead of merely the physical ones, the physical ones you forsook on your path to power.

When the four of you regain your physical forms, you go from freefall of the senses to simply freefall. You can’t see the ground itself; after about a mile around in each direction from your starting point, a thick, black mist manufactured from pure Paint obscures your sights both physical and magical. However, the entirety of the first outpost is within the ‘safe’ bubble; Marcus aimed well.

The name ‘outpost’ is a bit of a misnomer; the adamantium structure is little more than the magical equivalent of a lightning rod, merely one of hundreds of such focuses scattered across the Plane. Their purpose in the Ascension is merely secondary, and not all of them are required; the human army toppled a few elsewhere, but for little gain, and it cost their numbers dearly.

The fact that each outpost has enough storage for half a dozen undead legions might have something to do with that.

Awkwardly, the two shikigami hover in place, flailing their limbs as they recover from the nausea and disorientation from the trip. You and Marcus, on the other hand, take it in stride. A few spells woven in the blink of an eye have you rocketing towards the second farthest of the three outposts in an instant, while Marcus continues to float in place, sweeping his arms and shouting something in a language that resonates on an otherworldly frequency, beginning a ritual with a noticeably long preparation time.

As you approach the mists, you close one eye in a gesture of focus. It’s a tic that you’d tried so hard during your practice in the demiplane to lose, but ultimately you’d just given up. Enchantments, transmutations and illusions wrap themselves over your body and mind, sending both your defensive and offensive capabilities through the figurative roof while also dampening your inherent aura. Most importantly of all, any undead without magical sight will simply fail to perceive you at all, a bit of misdirection that will keep most of the heat of the coming battle off you.

A split second after you complete your preparations, your body plunges into the mists proper, relying on your previously calculated course to steer you towards the next outpost. You’re more or less blind in these mists; while your preparations keep the Taint from doing anything directly harmful to you, as pure mana made manifest it plays hell with your magical senses. The bond with your shikigami remains crystal clear, though, as you expected given Lady Yukari’s relatively quick response to her former servant’s abduction. Skimming over its surface thoughts, and justits surface thoughts, you experience the destruction of the first outpost.

It’s an anticlimax, really: your shikigami goes into in a tight, spiraling dive out of sight, and while you can’t perceive the details without a further level of focus, you can feel it unleashing the same power that it demonstrated earlier against Marcus’s circle. This time, though, the attacks are far more effective, spears of light and orbs of power ripping through the adamantium walls and girders like an oar through water. To say that the pieces of the outpost scatter like so many droplets of water would be a fair description; alongside the bits of girders and walls fly thousands of humanoid forms in a variety of involuntary positions, turning to dust as the magical bombardment catches them before they can mobilize.

Your observation ends with a sudden impact as you unceremoniously slam into the side of the second outpost. To be fair, you had only a short window of response with your impaired vision, but regardless you still need to work on that whole multitasking-while-reading-minds thing.

Gracefully peeling yourself off the wall, you enlist gravity’s aid in your descent, zooming to the base of the outpost. Your method of disposal is a bit more surgical, but in its own way just as awe-inspiring as your shikigami’s. While you can’t exert enough raw power to simply blast through the toughest metal known across the planes, a few disintegrates carve a series of disturbingly neat voids in the supports, each scintillating green ray reducing perfect spheres of the impossibly tough material to so many metal filings. When the last supports twist and break underneath the massive weight of the rest of the tower – for adamantine is not efficient at supporting its own weight – the whole structure topples over while you beat a hasty escape. The density of the adamantium walls themselves is your weapon: the kinetic energy the outpost has upon reaching the ground is so great that it sends out a shockwave, one that sends you tumbling end over end in midair for a few seconds and shatters everything delicate inside that’s related to the Ascension.

The same shockwave also pulverizes all the warriors within. Between you and your shikigami, that’s twelve less legions to worry about… and only all of the untold dozens in the Citadel itself to worry about.

With all the Taint in the air, you still can’t see more than a few dozen feet in front of your face, but you use your shikigami’s position, your current position, and a bit of basic geometry to calculate the location of the third, final outpost and kick off into the air once more.

Just as you estimate you’re halfway there, Marcus finishes his spell, and all hell breaks loose.
>> No. 154127
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Father Grigory slams his head onto the stony ground in front of him. “It’s useless,” he moans, the divine energies from his hands fading as blood begins to pour down his face. “We can’t – we can’t – we can’t do it. It’s incomprehensible; physical madness.”

A mix of desperation, horror, and rage well up in your breast as you violently bury the head of your greataxe several feet into the stone and simply scream your frustration at the mist a few hundred away. You’ve personally cut through hundreds if not thousands of undead, many of them your former friends, to get here, only to be stopped by this – stuff. At first you thought it was just a particularly dark bank of smog, but the mages realized just in time just how dangerous it was before the entire army marched into it.

Upon hearing this, a few decided to walk into it anyways, trying their luck. You’re not sure what exactly happened to them, but according those on the other ends of their mental links, within seconds they died horribly from various afflictions. Upon hearing this, again, a few decided to walk into it anyways, again. They weren’t trying their luck.

At this point, even public suicide can’t lower morale any more than it already is.

Since then, the priests and mages have been frantically researching the material, trying to find a way to tolerate it, displace it, destroy it: anything that will let you rally one last time and give Him a solid kick in the balls. But with only ten hours of work, they’ve little to show for their efforts. Some part of your brain realizes that this mist, if as otherworldly as it seems, could probably be researched for centuries without a breakthrough.

There’s no more organization, no more hierarchy beyond those who have ideas and those who can scrape up the will to attempt them, almost always without success. Once you were the finest of the human armies; even the elite of the elves and dwarves gave you a healthy respect, and it was even argued that you were the best fighting force alive. Now you know that for a fact, as all the other fighting forces have been slaughtered to a man, then turned systematically against you.

Rellim approaches you – once he was a fine dandy of a wizard, his hobby of all things high fashion. He got away with breaking the uniform regulations in increasingly flamboyant ways by being the company-level tactician in the force, using his expert divining magic to quickly discern situations as they occurred – and slightly before. You never thought once in your time serving with him that you’d see him in rags, but in the past few months his supply of undamaged clothes, just like everyone else’s, has been depleted, being the least of anyone’s worries.

The tattered cloak around his shoulders is Vishesh’s; he went down about three days ago. Looting the dead has gone from something punishable by death to a sign of respect, keeping their possessions out of His hands. Vishesh and Rellim were close – he’s obviously taking it hard.

The once forever smiling man is now only capable of giving you a grim nod of acknowledgment. “There’s a cloud of some several thousand knightmares flying towards us now, about an hour away. Seems like He’s recalling them all here just for us. Any progress?”

You flick your head towards the sobbing priest a few yards behind you, your long braid whipping over your shoulder as you do so. “See for yourself,” you reply humorlessly, turning your back on the diviner to stare at the banks of mist once more. Several thousand knightmares… merely one of the mounted warriors, a sick perversion of the paladins formerly within your ranks, would be a potentially fatal encounter for you, Rellim, and the Father combined. Several thousand of them are overkill for your force, which only numbers about seven hundred.

“So that’s it, then,” Rellim mutters, settling himself behind you. His arms wrap themselves around your waist; unconsciously, your arms twine up and behind his neck as he buries his nose into your dank hair, not minding the smell. You’d been thinking about getting married before this all started – now, those silly fantasies of drilling a squadron of your very own children into the world’s most dangerous commando unit seem so far away. “Nina… tell me what you want most right now,” he asks, as he always has when you’ve seemed sullen or sad. Jokingly calling the line ‘the easiest, most accurate and most helpful divination’ in his repertoire, he’s never failed to deliver what you’ve desired, one of the reasons you love him so much and try to do the same for him any chance you get.

This time, though, he can’t help you. Staring straight ahead, unable to look him in the eye, you just sigh, the hard muscles of your abdomen rising and falling underneath his clasped hands. “I want to die for a reason, love,” you choke out. “I don’t want to die like some hunted animal, unable to make a difference in the end.”

There’s a second of quiet, and then his arms tighten around you. “What do I See?” he asks himself, his own personal ritual for trying to get a glimpse of the future. He says nothing for a minute as the two of you stand in what will probably be the last embrace of your lives.

“… let’s run to the Citadel.” His voice is thick, as if he doesn’t believe his own words. He’s never sounded so unsure before. “Run as far as we can together, and I swear to you, we’ll have those children some day, somewhere, somehow.”

Suicide. Eternally optimistic Rellim… is proposing suicide. And he’s lying to your face about it, too. Not even your trust will survive this apocalypse, it seems.

But even knowing this, you realize he’s just trying to make you happy one last time, and the anger you feel at his betrayal flows out of you, leaving nothing more than remorse. Resignation settles on your frame like a burial shroud. You’ve always listened to his advice before, and you may as well listen to it one last time. It’s not as though it’ll stop the end of the world. “Okay,” you whisper in response, taking his hand in yours to break the embrace. “Let’s go.”

The two of you walk past the still-broken priest; you take a second to grab your axe out of the ground, clumsily holding it near the head in your non-dominant hand. You won’t be able to fight this way, but that’s not going to matter – holding onto Rellim is the only thing that matters right now.

The first wisps of the mist are only a few feet away now. “Ready?” Rellim asks, voice quavering.

“I’m always ready for your games,” you retort, voice husky with emotion, of words and thoughts unspoken. Wordlessly, the two of you turn towards each other, close your eyes, and kiss, a last, final show of affection before the end. Even after the kiss ends and you turn towards the mists once more, you both keep your eyes closed. Your hands squeeze in confirmation, and you start running blindly towards death.

As you cross the threshold, you note that the mists don’t seem to have any weight or substance. You can’t even tell that you’re moving through them, breathing them in.

Ten seconds later, the feeling that something is very wrong overtakes you – your eyes whip open, looking out on the plains. Two of the three outposts you knew there to be are already in ruins – not a single one of His warriors meets you. The mists seem to – wait, where are they?

“Hey – geez, you two!” A booming tenor voice comes down from the heavens – the two of you come to a shocked stop on the now open plain, looking up into the sky as a shining beacon of light suddenly flashes into existence, silhouetting an angel with wings spread wide in front of it.

“I haven’t even gotten to make my speech, yet and you’re already starting the charge! … ah, never mind,” the angel sighs. What the hell kind of angel is this? And – you cut off your questions, not about to look a gift horse in the mouth.

Spreading its arms wide, it gives what’s probably an extremely abbreviated version of its address. “People! As you can see, the deadly mists are gone now. Let the gods smile upon your dedication!” It raises its sword and shield upwards, and you feel your heart fill up with hope, your mind shed itself of depression, and your muscles flex with new energy. The axe in your hand suddenly seems light as a feather, and while you’re not a mage, you recognize that something has just woven an unbelievable amount of enchantments into you and your gear.

The angel’s display gets a response from the Citadel and the final outpost: warriors begin boiling forth from the structures in massed ranks, both on the ground and in the air, resembling a mad cross between a disturbed anthill and beehive. From one adamantium wall of Citadel grows a long arm… then two… then a head and torso as a massive golem, easily a hundred feet tall, climbs out of the wall and takes to the air, ponderously moving through the air as if underwater.

From somewhere behind the angel come rainbow showers of iridescent energy, smashing into the hordes around the final outpost. The golem receives half a dozen crimson lances as well, but these merely glance off of its magic immunity, and it waggles an arm as if annoyed by a fly.

There are easily twenty thousand of them, and less than a thousand of you.

And all you can think is that the poor bastards won’t know what hit them.

“Children, you said, Rellim?” you drawl out, as if re-examining that claim. He appears shocked by the sudden events, his other arm hanging slack by his side even as you give his hand a long, hard squeeze.

“I – I – yes, Nina. Children,” he admits with a shaky chuckle, a shaky chuckling that sudden becomes a full, boisterous laugh, one that you and eventually every other survivor in the army behind you catches, your humor echoing across what will soon be the most glorious battlefield you’ve ever seen.

“Come with me!” the angel cries, swinging its blade in front of it as if egging His incoming armies on. “Let’s give Him the biggest kick in the ‘nads we can! Chaaaaaaaaaaaargge!!!~ – ”

Still laughing uproariously, you, Rellim, and every other living creature in this world begin sprinting towards the Citadel, your axe singing as it spins effortlessly in your offhand, your fingers still firmly in the grasp of the love of your life.
>> No. 154128
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Squeezing off a series of invisible magic missiles to give yourself some breathing room as the wide variety of flying undead creatures, ranging from winged zombies to embalmed wyverns, starts intruding on your personal space, you watch as Marcus turns from his speech and, like a divine meteor, slams into the adamantium golem, while the younger shikigami under his guard simply disappears from view – your eyes can’t even track it, it’s moving so fast. You briefly wonder just how He had managed to get a golem to fly – you know that while you might be able to bypass it, baffling it with illusions its relatively unsophisticated senses can’t see through, you certainly have little hope of destroying it personally, at least in a timely fashion.

Marcus and the younger shikigami are on the other hand perfectly suited for the job: both are strong enough to damage the construct, yet nimble enough to dodge the golem’s surprisingly fast swings and punches. In each series of blows, the living construct’s sword opens up long passages into the limbs, setting the younger shikigami up to deliver a stinging punchline with her claws, ripping away a large chunk before blinking away, the metal fists swiping only through the air where it was, not is. It’s beautiful, in its own way; Marcus and the shikigami clearly know the other’s fighting style, a direct result of all the time they spent ‘playing’ back in Gensokyo. He must have known it would come to this. You make a note that Marcus is not as simple as his personality leads one on to be.

Meanwhile, the elder shikigami is occupied with keeping the hordes from overwhelming him, using large area attacks to stop anything from even getting close. Left to their own devices, they will soon overwhelm the behemoth and move on to the last outpost. Which leaves you to patrol invisibly around…

… sniping targets of interest, such as the shade that just coalesced in front of you, looking straight past your dampened aura at the battle raging below.

For a moment you stare; in the ultimate perversion, He crafted it in the image of your former master – both yours and His. She’s been long dead; it was when you found her body, sacrificed on her own ritual table, that you realized His betrayal, that He had gone completely mad with His desire for power. And yet now she flies again, her alien, clearly inhumanly wrinkled features and strangely hunchbacked body exactly as you remember them.

The shade even casts like your master did. Her aura turns a shadowy black as it fires a wave of debilitating curses at your companions –

– which harmlessly dissipate against the shimmering violet wall of greater dispelling screen you throw up, cutting her off .

“Pick on someone your own size, bitch,” you spit, peeking around the edge of the screen to follow up with an orb of force. A zombie bat, its simple mind directly commandeered, makes a sudden swerve to intercept the shot, flying apart in a hundred grapefruit sized chunks as the payload of contained kinetic energy is delivered. “It’s not fair for someone of our power to go after simpleminded brutes like them.”

The shade stares at you, but lacks a witty remark in return, further reinforcing your belief that it’s nothing more than an extremely well-done façade in your former master’s image. She would have had some barbed counter-retort to provoke you into a predictable reaction, and, having anticipated that reaction, begin countering it before you had even started.

But now, you play the role of the master. Your screen provokes a physical response, as the shade flicks what appears to be a pebble at you, the marble-sized stone travelling straight and true as a shot from a bow. Sensing the magic contained within it, though, you drop the screen right before it passes through it, catching the rock in the flesh of your extended arm.

An instant later, your own telekinesis pops the projectile out of the muscles, and returns it to sender. Annoyed at missing its chance, the shade moves as if to mimic your catch, knowing full well that only it knows the command –

– and instead receives a boulder four thousand times more massive at the exact same velocity, complements of a second greater dispelling screen that you placed in front of it right before impact.

The impact doesn’t kill the shade, the undead mage being only partially physical, but it does deal it a massive blow. As you watch the shade struggle to reconstitute itself, you realize that you and the shade aren’t even fighting on the same level – you’re able to throw out about three spells in the time that it can weave one. In addition, the shade is stupid – why would it rely on your abjuration magic to strip off its own shrink item enchantment?

Just stupid. With individual spells that rival yours, yes, but with little of your speed and absolutely none of your cunning. Such is the drawback of using commandable undead as lieutenants; they lack the mental strength of one that is truly independent.

In this light, you drop your caution and simply charge towards it, throwing your metaphorical weight around. A screen of fliers, blindly slashing at the air in your general area, surges forth to meet you, and for a second you disappear beneath a flurry of wings. Already realizing its inferiority, the shade starts to retreat upwards towards the summit of the Citadel as your own wings of flurry crush every single one of the fliers to a pulp, blades of force with the appearance of dragon wings tracing an inescapable lattice of smashing cuts around you.

You float there for just a second, holding your wounded arm for it – and by extension, Him – to see. Blood drips out of the wound as you make a show of manfully cauterizing the wound with a bit of flame on your finger tips, not even clenching your jaw in pain – for there is none. “I know You can see this,” you call, provoking Him. This is important too – He cannot be allowed to prepare for long, but must instead be distracted as much as possible. “Come on then, assume direct control of your puppet. I bet you it still won’t beat me – weakling.”

The shade hesitates, ceasing its retreat – and slowly descends again, its former stooped posture lost as it straightens into a posture you’d never seen your former master in before.

Well, you certainly have His attention now.

The next exchange is one-sided like the first, but this time in the opposite direction. The lightning bolt streaks through your attempt at a dispelling screen as if it weren’t there, confirming your suspicion that the shade is now His right hand. Realizing that there’s now too much raw power for you to dispel, you throw forward your left arm, where what looked like the sleeve of your robe grows out and around you into a lattice of shimmering metal, harmlessly conducting the electricity around and away from you.

It does nothing for the fireball though. That’s handled by ruin delver’s fortune, a divination which has you automatically spiraling away to safety, your protective cage rapidly recollecting itself on your wrist, before the first flames are able to even able to sear the hem of your robe. Annoyed, it finally launches a disintegrate of its own, which is in turn caught by wings of cover, the same sheets of force that pureed the fliers relegated to the role of ablative shielding.

However, all of this defense leaves you with no time to make your own attack. Spell after spell stitches through the sky as you desperately evade, block, or dispel each attempt to destroy you. For the time being, as your shikigami and Marcus grinds down the adamantium golem, this is exactly what you need. If you were to dispatch the avatar too quickly, He would give up and just focus on preparing for you, but by just barely escaping his grasp – even if it’s not a show and you actually are close to being blown apart – you can keep his attention.

Still, though, you’ll eventually need to get past His avatar somehow. When the moment comes, how will you start the next step…?
>> No. 154129
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CHOOSE YOUR STRATEGY

[ ] Outdo the avatar. You’ve a store of power on tap that you’re not using yet, and it might be a nice insult to show Him that you were just playing with His puppet the entire time. This is expedient, but you’ll be unable to surprise him with your ace in the hole later.

[ ] Outwit the avatar. You’ve a trick up your sleeve involving several pounds of mercury, some very convincing illusions, and psychological analysis. This has the potential to be as fast as overpowering it if the trick works, but if you get seen through you’ll lose a lot of time. [ ] Optional write in: Got a plan of your own? Go wild.

[ ] Outnumber the avatar. You’ve a pair of very capable teammates, who, after finishing their jobs, can tag-team in – that much force will definitely take it down. This is the safest route, and maintains the illusion that you’re not individually too much of a threat, but you’ll lose time waiting for the golem to fall.

THOUGHTS ON ADDITIONAL OCS

You saw the mists of Taint go down and Marcus inspire the human army from another viewpoint. Besides Sorcanon and Marcus, what’s your opinion on further OCs in this fic?

[ ] More, please! I think additional OC protagonists can add a lot to the depth of this work, their interactions with the Touhous
[ ] Keep it light. Anecdotes and background action are okay, but I’d like to see the Touhous take center stage.
[ ] OCs? In my Gensokyo? Bleh. I’ll accept Sorcanon and Marcus because you’ve already written them in, but I’d prefer not to hear about them later.
[ ] Writing OCs into Gensokyo is a crime. Kill this fic now, leave these boards, and never ever come back.

SPECULATION FUEL AND JOSSING

>>154102

Spell resistance is too simple. Think deeper and broader, my friend. Making an impromptu Faraday cage is merely one possible use.

>>154110

While the events right now are merely plans falling into place, you will get to choose your motivations and reasons for what these decisions… later…

However, I’ll pussy out now and say I’m not comfortable with a knowingly evil protagonist. One with very skewed moral reasoning or personally strong motivations, perhaps, but not ‘I am bad, I know I am bad, and I enjoy being bad’.

>>154113

Exactly.

>>154123

Source on pic?

AUTHOR’S LIFE

I was going to get this proofread, but then I decided you guys might be able to tolerate a slip up here and there. And given that my general ratio of writing:proofreading time is 1:2 as I agonize over the littlest decisions, this is A Good Thing.

Spring break is this week. Expect updates every 2-3 days as opposed to weekly as a Writefag Has No Social Life special!
>> No. 154130
>>154129
>Source on pic?
Just click the link labeled 'iqdb' next to that picture.
>> No. 154133
[x] Outnumber the avatar.

Make Him believe that you're also part of a last "at least we go down fighting" charge.
That way we will have a huge advantage over Him when we confront Him and He believes that He has already won and even SorcAnon is, in the end, no more than just another man who'd rather commit suicide by throwing himself at His walls than just wait for the world to end.

The problem is just how we survive the Shade long enough for Marcus and Ran to get here.

Hmm.. Sorcerers have high charisma, we could try some good "heroic banter" to distract him so we can buy time, but feels kinda meh.
How does the terrain look around here? Is there something there we could use to our advantage?
I'm assuming He won't be caring much about the troops fighting on the ground (for either side) so we could at least make it a bit easier for our side by making Him blast a few of His own troops.
I'll have to think about this.


As for extra OCs, I'd say:
[x] Keep it light.
It's not that I specifically want to see Touhous take center stage, it's rather that.. Well, more characters are interesting but too many protagonist/antagonist (or equivalent level of importance) characters, and things just get messy.
Seeing some extra events not directly related to SorcAnon does give a bit of extra depth to the story and the world, so I like that.
>> No. 154134
[ ] Keep it light. Anecdotes and background action are okay, but I’d like to see the Touhous take center stage.

Gonna vote for this first, as I still need to read the update.
>> No. 154135
[x]Outnumber the avatar

Well, Seeing as how there's an army that's overdosed on several different magical steroids, I think they might be able to handle a golem on their own.

As for OC's?
[x]More, please!
That is, So long as they dont overshadow the Touhous.
>> No. 154138
[X] Outnumber the avatar. You’ve a pair of very capable teammates, who, after finishing their jobs, can tag-team in – that much force will definitely take it down. This is the safest route, and maintains the illusion that you’re not individually too much of a threat, but you’ll lose time waiting for the golem to fall.

[X] More, please! I think additional OC protagonists can add a lot to the depth of this work, their interactions with the Touhous
>> No. 154139
[x] Outwit the avatar
[x] More OCs, please!

More OCs probably means lower average power level, which is good.
>> No. 154140
[x] Outwit the Avatar.

Create two labyrinths of dormant ethereal spell mirrors. Lure the Avatar into the first one, wait for a particularly destructive spell, short teleport out into second one, activate the mirrors. If he dies, that’s it, but in case he doesn’t here is the rest of the plan.

Immediately teleport for the second time, using invisibility this time, but create a mirror image of yourself in the second labyrinth. He won’t be able to track the second teleport because of all the interference in the first activated labyrinth. He will follow the mirror image, also with teleport, and you will have a second of his vulnerability.

Now, link the labyrinths, channel the energy from the first one to the second one and watch the fireworks.

OC’s:

[x] Keep it light. Anecdotes and background action are okay, but I’d like to see the Touhous take center stage.
>> No. 154143
Was there a reason why they couldn't enlist Yukari's aid?
>> No. 154144
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>[ ] More, please! I think additional OC protagonists can add a lot to the depth of this work, their interactions with the Touhous...

... 'revealing new and unexpected depths into the Gensokyo we all know and love.' got amputated there, I have NO idea how that one happened. It's intact in my Word document.

Votes are currently evenly split amongst 'more OCs' and 'keep it light'. Should I take this as you like seeing things from a non-Touhou's standpoint, but don't want additional full protagonists? Just trying to sound out the audience.

>>154133

>The problem is just how we survive the Shade long enough for Marcus and Ran to get here.

While you're playing with fire here, you're also pretty sure you can hold His avatar off without blowing up the way things are going.

>Hmm.. Sorcerers have high charisma, we could try some good "heroic banter" to distract him so we can buy time, but feels kinda meh.

Banter is a given!

>How does the terrain look around here? Is there something there we could use to our advantage?

The terrain is pretty... meh. You're dueling in midair, in a sky with random flying undead (who can't directly detect you) passing by as they deploy from the Citadel to engage the Marcus-buffed army. The Citadel and remaining outpost could be ducked behind for a moment at most, you suppose, but they don't really make effective cover in this situation.

>I'm assuming He won't be caring much about the troops fighting on the ground (for either side) so we could at least make it a bit easier for our side by making Him blast a few of His own troops.

His Avatar has little reason to use massive area attacks as long as you're trying to keep his attention. You suppose you could try to conceal yourself amidst a legion on the ground or something, but then he'd probably just go stick his nose into the battle with the adamantium golem, which is exactly what you're trying to avoid.

>>154140

Pic related.

As freaking awesome as that would be, creating 'a labyrinth of dormant ethereal spell mirrors' is a bit beyond Sorcanon's ability when, as stated, he's taking almost all his current resources to survive the onslaught. Also, no teleportation/portal shenanigans: remember the forbiddance that's covering the entire plane.
>> No. 154145
>>154143

This falls into the same type of question as 'Why coerce Ran in the first place?'

All I have to say is that this point will be addressed at a future point.
>> No. 154146
>>154144
>OC protags

let me break the tie, then: [x]keep it light.
>> No. 154147
>>154144
>OC protags
I kind of like them though.
[x] More, please!

Keepin' the tension on then.
>> No. 154148
[x] Outnumber the avatar.
[x] Keep it light.

I liked the perspective switch. It was a nice addition to the bits told about the ground force already. I just don't want it getting in the way of the bulk of the story.
>> No. 154149
>>154144
Even if the duel is mid-air, I was thinking the flight spell gives good enough maneuverability to do some trick flying in case there is anything nearby (at ground level) to use for cover/hiding places/whatever.
But then again, the area should be pretty much a wasteland around there so I guess there isn't much of interest.
Or SorcAnon could just cast Mirage Arcana and create his own terrain. It's will to disbelieve and I'm assuming He has a good will save.

No real need for massive area attacks. A missed fireball or two is well enough to put some dents in the horde. Random flying undead are fine too. Every undead He kills is one less to attack the army.
(I know Fireballs explode at a predetermined point, but if that point is ~10 feet above the ground, or just in front of a flier...)
The undead can't detect SorcAnon anyway, so it should be fine to fly close to them if He brings out some more spells like that. And since area spells are easier to hunt fliers with than, say, rays or single projectiles, I'm assuming He'll use at least a few more of those.

He also seems to favor very destructive spells (his spells so far are the two most classic Evocation spells and a Disintegrate), is He more of an artillery mage rather than a scheme & plot mage like SorcAnon? Or was it just because he got pissed at being trash talked on his own doorstep?
Either way can be exploited, though. Evokers are generally bad at dealing with things that they can't tackle head on, and anyone with extra ego should be taunted and provoked into doing something stupid.

And I already explained my opinions on OCs, which is exactly as you said. OCs are fine, but too many prot/antagonists and things just become a mess.
Where to draw the line for "too many" depends on your confidence in your writing skills, though.
>> No. 154150
>>154149

Ah, I understand now. Well, the ground is basically plains covered in undead, with the two aforementioned structures - nothing much.

A few missed fireballs or lightning bolts is chump change compared to the damage that Ran and Marcus's army are outputting. Perhaps I should have emphasized the volume of this conflict raging around you: twenty thousand undead versus less than thousand hyper-CoDzilla-super-buffed humans. A few stray undead swatted by failed fireballs don't count for anything significant.

As for what kind of mage He is...? that's classified information, but it was not unintentional that this first volley was purely directly destructive.
>> No. 154151
[x] Outwit the Avatar.
[x] Keep it light. Anecdotes and background action are okay, but I’d like to see the Touhous take center stage.

I'll leave the strategy up to the fa/tg/uys. I have faith in them.
>> No. 154156
>>154140 here.

Oh, okay. New plan, then: mirror images, lots of them. Move through them, confuse the Avatar a bit, then remove the shield and telekinetically levitate it next to one of the mirror images. He will home in on the magic signature of your shield, thinking it’s real you, then you fry him from the side.
>> No. 154157
[x] Outnumber the avatar.
[x] Keep it light.

While a few OCs are fine, too many of them would make things hard to keep track of.
>> No. 154161
[x] Outwit the avatar.
[x] Keep PoV to Sorcanon and possibly Marcus, but a few more non-touhou recurring characters can't hurt.

I'd come up with a plan, but I'm too lazy.
>> No. 154162
File 133090438289.gif - (1.91MB , 390x219 , benderbenderbender.gif ) [iqdb]
154162
>>154156
In that case I would recommend using Solid Fog to completely block line of sight first (instead trying to play "Find the Sorcerer" with mirror images) and then, while He can't see anything, SorcAnon should use Project Image to create a half-real image of himself that can be used to cast spells through.
The advantage of this is that it will be more likely to appear to be the real one if He can see it casting actual spells. (SorcAnon still casts it, but the spell's point of origin will be the Image.) And it can also be buffed with Illusion school spells, so it can have it's own Mirror Images.
SorcAnon should probably turn invisible too, while he's at it. Could use Mislead to create yet another illusory double while turning invisible. (Can't cast spells through that one, though.)
If he has time, he could Mirror Image himself for good measure or even create more Projected Images.

If he can cast everything before the mist is gone (i.e. before He casts a few Gust of Wind spells), SorcAnon will end up invisible and have:
One regular illusory double, one or more Projected Images to cast spells through and up to 8 mirror images/Projected Image + up to 8 mirror images for himself too.
Without extra castings of Project Image, that's almost 20 targets, none of which is actually the real one.
For each extra Projected Image, add up to 9 more fake targets. (Projected + Mirrors)

And all this happens without Him being able to see any of it. So it will be:
1. Just the two of them.
2. A fog cloud.
And, as soon as the Fog is gone:
3. Sorcerers! Sorcerers everywhere! (Picture related, except with SorcAnons.)

Project Image doesn't last very long, though. Just one round/level but all these images can buy quite a lot of time, unless He brings out a massive AoE spell.
Or True Seeing. Because it really screws over the Illusion school.
Completely.
In a single spell.
So let's hope He hasn't brought that spell along.

I mean, seriously, it sees through all attempts to magically conceal items/people:
Invisibility, Blur, Mirror Image, basically every Illusion spell EVER. It also sees through everything changed through the Transmutation school (like Polymorph, Alter Self, a.s.o.) and just about anything else that isn't as low magic as just hiding behind a fucking rock.
True Seeing is bullshit.
>> No. 154163
>>154161 here.

-[x] Fog plan in >>154162
>> No. 154166
File 13309166546.jpg - (65.11KB , 485x304 , Smoke and Mirrors.jpg ) [iqdb]
154166
Calling the vote now for a variation of the outlined plan in >>154162.

There's a similar amount of interest both in 'outnumber' and 'outwit', but given that 'outwit' is frankly cooler, I'd feel bad not letting it happen. Call it an author's bias.

My apologies to anyone who voted 'outnumber' who feels slighted, but I just spent hours at an awkward family dinner contenting myself by writing the incoming scene in my head and I wouldn't want to NOT write it now.

As always, please wait warmly~
>> No. 154170
>>154166

Hooray!
>> No. 154180
>>154162
Quite possibly too late to suggest modifications, but Shocking Image would probably work even better than Mirror Image, since we have infinite spell slots.

Well, if we know it. I can't remember what school it is, but I'm pretty sure it's either illusion or evocation.
>> No. 154181
File 133093858594.png - (210.35KB , 400x266 , Random Clones.png ) [iqdb]
154181
RESULTS

[X] Outwit the avatar.

[X] Keep it light. Anecdotes and background action are okay, but I’d like to see the Touhous take center stage.

Pic related. I can't find a good artistic portrayal of a mirror image even after an hour of searching, fuck everything.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The next few minutes are touch and go, to say the least. Keeping yourself a hair away from sudden involuntary dismemberment is far harder than staying leaps and bounds away from it.

He swiftly realizes that you’re quite adept at evading his area attacks, and, as if mocking you, he copies your signature spell for a phase, chasing you to the end of the spell’s effective range as you buy reaction time with physical distance. At first it’s simple enough to dodge each orb of force in turn, but when his rate of fire suddenly quadruples you find yourself having to mix in blocks, preemptively setting off the spheres of energy a safe distance away with a carefully aimed thrust of your shield. It’s fortunate that it reforms itself after shot, but for every orb it blocks two more fly through and around, forcing you to juke in increasingly complex patterns. If your ability of flight wasn’t perfect, with the agility to stop on a dime and then resume top speed in an instant, you’d have been so many chunks a long time ago. If you had still had physical sensation, the g-forces would have you throwing up so many chunks a long time ago as well.

Around twenty seconds later, he seems to get bored with this, and the storm abates for just a second. Fearing that he’s shifting his attention, you don’t hesitate to take the opportunity to squeeze off a few potshots in return. As you expected, He’s no slouch at defending Himself, and despite the true strike divinations you weave in, each orb of force is either blocked by some rapidly conjured barrier or just barely grazes by Him, your former master’s form morphing and bending in a way that a fully physical body could never hope to. You realize that if you got closer, you could certainly overwhelm these defensive capabilities, but doing so at this moment would get you blown away first –

– and the reason for his pause becomes clear as a swarm of conjured weapons, both of assorted physical materials and pure force, suddenly blink into existence around you. The physical weapons are instantly torn apart by a reflexive wings of flurry, but that spell merely knocks away the ones of force for a few seconds before they return. Experimentally, you try a dropping a dispelling screen between you and them as you retreat further, but they fly through unharmed, His magics holding together firmly against the disruption.

You don’t see the forcecage coming physically, but you do sense it; before it even has a chance to fully manifest its six faces of impenetrable force around you, your own disintegrate is in flight towards one wall. You don’t slow down one bit as you fly through the suddenly-opened cube, and it’s a good thing you do, because if you were any slower you’d have been victim to a rocketing sphere of ultimate destruction, the featureless black globe of pure nothingness destroying everything in its path. The forcecage, the weapons that were following you, a few unlucky flying undead that happened to be in the way, and a neat cylinder of the center section of His own Citadel all simply cease to be – you can see the smoggy sky on the other side of the hole.

But by now, you’ve bought enough time. Marcus’s triumphant cry pierces through the sounds of the raging battle below you, as the last remnants of the adamantine golem, by now shredded to less than a third of its original size, goes down. A barely visible red-green blur – the younger shikigami – spins around it like a blender for a few seconds, knocking it around and keeping it off balance right before Marcus brings down his sword in a mighty arc, sundering the last pieces of the animate metal beyond the point of meaningful struggle. You can see that the humans have formed ranks underneath your shikigami, taking advantage of the excellent cover fire to charge to the last outpost. Its undead defenders, few in number as the majority mass at the base of the Citadel, go down underneath the weight of their concentrated power like fruit in a press, and soon the structure begins to list, already ruined beyond repair.

“You are annoying,” the shade snaps, or rather, He snaps, realizing that He’s been played, his avatar’s aura darkening as Ht prepares to end it. “Be done with you; I have insects to crush. Behold! The fearsome visage of Dea – “

Celerity.

You’re not about to listen to Him monologue. Borrowing a moment of time from the future, you drop a widened solid fog between the two of you before you unleash one of your own personal spells, something that took you hundreds of years to develop and perfect, transcending the normal boundaries of spell power with personal intimacy and understanding of the inner workings.

Your first name for it was unlimited illusion works, but the spell ultimately isn’t that impressive for such a pompous name, capable of being rendered almost completely useless by a single spell. You eventually settled for simply naming it the far simpler and more descriptive illusory swarm.

In the blink of an eye, you craft an impossible number of illusory copies of yourself of all different kinds: simple illusions with no weight or substance, illusions with physical mass, illusions with lacking the magical aura of an illusion, illusions both physical and lacking an aura, invisible illusions, illusions on the ethereal plane, illusions on the ethereal plane with a physical manifestation, invisible ethereal physically manifested illusions – the list goes on. The display is enough to befuddle even the most keen-eyed elven mage… to a point.

You barely manage to set all the yous in motion before your mind is forced to repay the time, your senses going numb as the celerity ends and your ploy begins –

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“ – Dea – oh, you think I don’t see you slinking away?” You cackle, even as thousands of robed shapes burst through the sudden bank of mist. You don’t even bother attacking them; they stop to swarm around Your avatar, gesturing and chanting the preparations to a thousand different magical spells in the ultimate farce. So that was his ace in the hole; a massive explosion of illusion magic. One of the robed shapes fires an actual magic missile at You in final impudent act of defiance, an elementary spell that harmlessly bounces off Your nightshield; You don’t pay it any attention, instead making sure that everything about Your own signature spell is completely inescapable. What an idiot, thinking that illusions, even this lovingly crafted performance, can protect him. Of course You made sure to cast true seeing, seeing the world exactly as it is, through any and all illusions that You so choose. Besides, casting spells through an illusory double is something any amateur who can cast project image can do – You never bothered with such meaningless deceptions, when You can simply end everything in a single stroke.

It took You only a moment to identify where the coward is. Staring past all the illusions in front of Your avatar, You note with some amusement that one of them almost seems to be real both physically and magically, even in spite of the true seeing – a feat You hadn’t thought possible, but You suppose that You have to give him some credit as a specialized illusionist.

Almost, because something else entirely gives him away. Through all of his illusions, the real him is desperately trying to escape, flying away at maximum speed, trying to hide from You underneath a mere invisibility. You can tell that this is the real him because even through the baffling variety of auras from the illusions around Your avatar, he’s the only one with the strong transmutation aura of the device that served him so well earlier, the liquid metal shield that foiled so many of Your attacks. True, all the illusions around You have an image of this object somewhere on their person as well, whether around their wrists, deployed in a shield or hemisphere, or orbiting them as if ready to intercept a projectile, but the faked auras are clearly not strong enough to be the real thing.

What an idiot.

With a final laugh of triumph, You unleash Your stored incantation at him, a spell that has never failed You before. An impossibly terrifying gaw leaps from Your hand right at your enemy, outpacing him by a long shot. The physical, irresistible trap the soul closes around him, swallows, and retracts back to form a crystallized soul in the palm of Your hand back on Your throne –

– so why is he still flying away unimpeded, and why is his soul not in Your grasp?

“Surprise.”

The realization strikes You as a thousand blades of force fill the space around Your avatar, sprouting from the back and arms of the man you had dismissed as a mere illusion. A mere illusion can’t be the origin of a spell so personal – that idiot actually put himself next to You, how dare he

Your avatar twists into one of the few safe spots in the storm, but You realize that it’s over already, Your magical energy not quite rebounded after that failed ritual. “See you in the sanctum,” he snarls, and then the torrents of energy collapse inward even as he coup-de-graces Your avatar with two final shots, turning Your avatar into fine mist –

– You thrash off of Your throne screaming in pain, limbs involuntary kicking the adamantine floor as all Your thoughts make a resolution: the next time You meet him, You’re not going to try and merely trap his soul. You’re going to kill him, and wipe him from existence so hard no one even remembers his name.

As You pick yourself off the floor, wipe Your sweating brow, and sit back down upon the suddenly stiflingly comfortable chair, You realize that the base of Your Citadel is now under assault, the human army heavily outnumbered but holding their own, making it closer one painstakingly won inch at a time. No matter; Your knightmares are coming, and they’ll show them what it means to die.

Sighing, You just settle yourself deeper into the cushions, waving Your hands as you resume your final preparations for the Ascension, the ones you had temporarily broken to possess your avatar.

If they had enough time to realign the Citadel, then perhaps You’d be worried. But that task took Your immeasurable power years to do, and You’d have to die first, anyways.

And when that mage comes for You, he’ll die. You’ll make sure of it.
>> No. 154182
File 133093868628.jpg - (123.02KB , 767x800 , Hooded Warrior.jpg ) [iqdb]
154182
You spend a few seconds zooming around the avatar’s final position with wings of flurry set to ‘puree’, but your paranoia is unwarranted. His avatar’s completely destroyed, no question, and now He’s back to preparing for your entry. You need to find him and kill Him – fast.

A quick check of the battlefield shows you that everything is well in hand. By now, the army has rallied behind and around Marcus and the younger shikigami, pushing to the base of the Citadel, while your own shikigami is nowhere in sight, its covering fire no longer needed. You sense that it’s entered the Citadel already, and from the feel of things is finding its way to where it’ll perform the realignment – once you’ve done your part, that is.

Good, good. In fact, you’re ahead of schedule.

As you rapidly ascend towards the summit of the Citadel, you reflect on your plan, letting a small smile cross your features. You’ve found you can beat true seeing, that bane of illusionists everywhere, by actually creating something, as odd as that sounds for an illusionist. Outstretching an arm, the copy of you that He tried to trap, now hovering dumbly in place, suddenly collapses in on itself, ‘your’ robes and limbs pooling back into a ball of quicksilver before settling into its normal position around your wrist.

True seeing sees things exactly as they are; and a perfectly sculpted facsimile of you in motion with the right auras looks exactly like, well, you, because that’s… exactly what it looks like, to pardon the circular logic. The subtlety between what you made and a polymorph or shapechange is that those spells have to magically transmute the recipient’s natural form into new materials, either generating or purging mass as needed, the end shape purely the result of magic with a ‘natural’ form it’ll snap back to when the spell ends, one that the illusion-penetrating spell sees instead.

But when you crafted that copy of yourself, the color was completely natural, the result of complex chemical reactions of trace elements within the quicksilver, as was the shape, the material painstakingly shifted into an exact copy of your form. Volume was handled by your double being hollow inside and the exterior layer nearly paper, simple as that. Being able to make such detailed changes doesn’t make you good at transmutation; it takes an illusionist’s mind to draw such a perfect image, the appearance of every thread and every shade of color created through careful manipulation of the particles within the orb of metal like an artist mixing paints, not a simple magical command. Manipulating the quicksilver like that took you years to master – you errantly think that in a time of peace, you’d make a damn good artist.

After a few minutes of passing through clouds of smog and dodging the last of the still-deploying undead, you suddenly reach the end of the adamantine walls, seeing nothing but more sky above you. The Citadel lacks creative architecture: it’s all right angles, featureless except for the hatches that His warriors deploy through and the vents that once belched the mists of Taint that covered the surrounding land not more than an hour ago.

Of course, it’s not producing Taint anymore. The mana’s needed elsewhere; the Ascension is nigh.

You decide not to subject yourself to the confusion of hacking through the occupants of one of deployment hatches nor the vulnerability and indignity of crawling through a vent, and just make your own entryway. You reflect on His arrogance yet again as you eat your way through the walls one ten-foot sphere at a time. While the entire base of the Citadel is enchanted against such simple demolitions to prevent the whole structure from being too-easily toppled, he never bothered providing the same reinforcement to His outposts, nor even the rest of His Citadel.

Arrogant, that He never anticipated such attack, or perhaps simply lazy or shortsighted, sighted blindly on His goal of absolute power. It’s these kinds of sins that are making your efforts possible. If you were to undertake such a task as His Ascension, you’d be far more gradual, far more paranoid, far more defended.

But He went and did a rush job of it anyways, so all you can do is strip Him of the pleasure of success.

Your efforts strip away the outer wall, revealing a series of hallways and chambers that you ignore – you already know that the ones up here contain the mechanisms and ritual chambers for converting mana to Taint, nothing of value. When you’ve carved about a third of the way through the walls, though, one of your green rays ricochets off a wall as opposed to turning it to dust.

Jackpot.

Zooming in closer, you go through the past two minutes in your head again, this time comparing what you saw against the plans you studied within your demiplane with Marcus. Yes… this is the internal section of the Citadel, the section with the components essential to the Ascension. While you could destroy it, wearing down the protective enchantments with thousands of force orbs, you’d first of all need more time than you have, and second of all have absolutely no reason to bring the Ascension to a full stop; it’d just result in the world dying for absolutely no purpose.

Instead, you land yourself on the now exposed floor and walk a few hundred feet down the wide hallway a bit, turning the corner to reveal the entryway to the inner section; the inner walls simply flow into another hallway. There’s no light, but your magically enhanced vision has no problem making out what little there is to see: just like the exterior, the inner walls, floor, and ceiling are nothing more than unblemished adamantine.

At the end of this final hallway, at what you both estimate and know to be positioned at the very center of the entire Citadel, is a hole in the floor, a vertical tunnel leading down to the inner sanctum. Without hesitation, you step off the edge. There’s no point in delaying.

As you float down the tunnel, you again reach out with your mind towards that of your shikigami and assemble a status query, dropping it into its surface thoughts. Instantly, a new, very prominent blob of its thoughts makes itself known – if you could describe it, it would be glowing and jiggling in place, demanding your attention. A response, then? Tentatively, you open it –

– understood/acknowledged/received. Token/weak/unworthy/trace resistance/guards within/inside/present, but nothing that can/will stop/cease/interrupt realignment/goal/objective/task. Awaiting/standby –

– even more disorienting than before. Some part of you considers that perhaps your shikigami is taking pleasure in this as a bit of childish resistance, intentionally making its thoughts painful to comprehend.

But as you start piecing together an order to simplify its instructions, magic simply ceases to be.

Your shikigami’s surface thoughts disappear from your mind as well, although you can still feel the contract’s existence, as if you lost sight of a rope in your hand but not lost your grip. More noticeably, all of the spells enhancing your body and mind shatter, and when you try and recast them – well, you don’t even try, knowing already that the moment the magic attempts to manifest, it’ll simply putter out like your enchantments. You were able to see the floor of the tunnel before, but now it fades from view, your inherent, far-shorter ranged darkvision and aurasight the only methods of perception remaining.

A permanent disjunction and dead magic zone, just as the plans said. The plans also say that the floor of the sanctum is a few hundred feet down, and your flight spells just broke.

But your quicksilver shield still remains intact and interactive despite the dead magic zone as you knew it would be, and you throw it above your head into a large canopy bound by cables to your hands, leisurely descending with your impromptu parachute. The few hundred feet go by quickly, and as you land you collapse the shield back into a bracer again. Your darkvision sees nothing but featureless floor in every direction…

… but about a hundred feet in front of you, your aurasight sees, despite the dead magic zone, the darkest, vilest, most powerful aura you’ve ever seen.

That’s Him, alright.

Again, you don’t hesitate. Before He can make a snarky comment about your parachute, you breaking into a sprint straight towards Him. But before you can get even twenty feet forward and bring Him into sight, two armored, cloaked undead appear, surging from out of your darkvision’s range and into your face in the blink of an eye.

One is thin and willowy, the other is short and stocky, and both are trying to kill you. The thin one slices at your neck and waist with a pair of short swords, while the short one hefts a massive double-bladed battleaxe, sweeping it at your calves. These, you realize, are the twisted forms of the elves’ and dwarves’ greatest weaponmasters. While they’re not nearly as dangerous as they once were, between the lack of their ancestral war-magic, the physical decay and corruption of their bodies, and most importantly their lack of free will, they’re still very good at what they spent their whole life doing: fighting.

You barely evade being quartered by leaping back at the last second, their blades still slicing deep cuts into your body, your robes rapidly becoming sodden with liquid. Yet He doesn’t have them take advantage of the opening, instead choosing to put the elf into a guarding position while sending the dwarf far and around in a pincer, taking His time with you.

While He doesn’t say anything, you know that He’s sure that this will be the end of any mage without their magic. But as you clasp your hands at your bleeding waist, panting as if winded and hunching over as if in pain, your fingers brush the quicksilver bracer.

As a mage, you’re powerless. But you – you as a whole – you were ready for this…

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

CHOOSE YOUR STYLE

[ ] True strength comes from passion and belief.

[ ] True strength comes from understanding and enlightenment.

[ ] True strength comes from analysis and action.

Kudos to you if you can spot the three archetypes.

AUTHOR’S NOTES

I know that there’s not enough Touhou in here right now – I didn’t expect the introduction to take so long, but them’s the lumps. All my notes about what happens later are looking mighty, mighty tasty – I’ve even begun writing a little of it, the stuff I’m sure will happen no matter what choices are made. One more update – just one, and I swear that you’ll land in Gensokyo, I promise.
>> No. 154188
[x] True strength comes from analysis and action.

Sorcerer, warlock and wizard?
>> No. 154189
[x] True strength comes from understanding and enlightenment.

/b/, /diy/, /tg/.
>> No. 154192
File 133095196449.jpg - (42.11KB , 382x500 , BoWFM.jpg ) [iqdb]
154192
Seeing as this vote has meta-knowledge potential that the fa/tg/guys might want to have complete control over, I'll give them a hint two hints if they want them, one in spoiler and not-so-obvious, the other in the image and pretty-damn-obvious:

The votes' meanings are in alphabetical order.
>> No. 154201
[x] True strength comes from analysis and action.

I dont know a damned thing about D&D but this sounds good.
>> No. 154206
Good ole' Weaboo Fightan' Magic.

[x] True strength comes from analysis and action.

Can't believe I never thought of a Sorcerer/Swordsage before. Love me some Swordsage. Not much quite like Time Stands Still + Girallon Windmill Flesh Whip.

And I just noticed something when looking at one of the bits of flavor text:
“Thick armor indicates a lack of skill. If you lack the training to avoid your enemies’ blows, perhaps you should leave the fighting to me.”
Chen, swordsage
>> No. 154207
[ ] True strength comes from analysis and action.

Sorry, not a fa/tg/uy, but this is like 'Holme's style' and I like it.
>> No. 154208
>>154206
>Flesh Whip
Eh. Flesh Whip, Flesh Rip. Close enough.
>> No. 154212
[x] True strength comes from passion and belief.

Won't win, voting anyway. Passion fuck yeah.
>> No. 154219
File 133098195054.jpg - (37.68KB , 680x510 , Rainbow Puke.jpg ) [iqdb]
154219
>>154206
>“Thick armor indicates a lack of skill. If you lack the training to avoid your enemies’ blows, perhaps you should leave the fighting to me.”
Chen, swordsage

>can't believe he hasn't seen that before
>open ToB
>first lines beneath Swordsage heading
>mfw
>> No. 154234
>>154208
No, no. I like 'Flesh Whip' better.
IYKWIM
>> No. 154243
File 133102933556.jpg - (126.76KB , 500x392 , russian tank feed me chechens t-90.jpg ) [iqdb]
154243
>>154219
>thick armor means I'm a noob and should not fight
>pic related
Jesus, Mary and Joseph how can you be so wrong?!
>> No. 154273
[x] True strength comes from understanding and enlightenment.

Says right there:
>transcending the normal boundaries of spell power with personal intimacy and understanding of the inner workings.
>> No. 154277
[X] True strength comes from analysis and action.

>>154234
... You lost me.
>> No. 154286
[x] True strength comes from understanding and enlightenment.

I want a wise MC.
>> No. 154289
>>154277
It's a terrible penis joke. Feel free to ignore it.
>> No. 154295
>>154289

It's okay, mine was a terrible F/SN meme originating in a doujin.
>> No. 154306
File 133117600398.jpg - (190.53KB , 400x500 , Warblade.jpg ) [iqdb]
154306
>>154243

Hey, take a look at Marcus. Built like a tank, he is.

Vote called. Pic related. Writing now. Please wait warmly~
>> No. 154327
File 133126973291.jpg - (86.20KB , 660x545 , Za Warudo.jpg ) [iqdb]
154327
RESULTS

[X] True strength comes from analysis and action.

I’m not going to lie – writing this was a drag. Feel free to tl;dr and skip straight to the last post to (finally) arrive in Gensokyo.

I didn't bother proofreading this - this entire introductory sequence dragged on for WAY too long for me to like it.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Crouched in the darkness, clutching at your bleeding wounds, you stare at the reanimated elf in front of you even while you listen to the dwarf shuffle into position behind you. The elf’s features are hooded behind a silk mask, hung over the lower half of its face; you’re not sure whether it was male or female in its previous life, its lithe body ambiguously genderless.

“How’s it feel to be without your magic, puny mage?” He cackles, the sinister laugh seemingly coming in from all sides. The voice grates on your sensibilities. A long, long time ago, that was a voice you were familiar with. You worked with it, chatted with it, complained with it, celebrated with it, ate with it, studied with it. When you could still call this Plane your home, He was your fellow apprentice. He hasn’t recognized you from that time – you look nothing like you did in those carefree days underneath your master’s tutelage – but His voice hasn’t changed one bit, still young, still mischevious.

But now, after all that He’s done, you notice one thing about His voice that you had never noticed before; in it is pure, unrepentant evil.

“You put on a good show, you know. Clearly, there are subtleties about magic that I fail to grasp, at least in a normal mage’s duel. I’ve never been beaten before,” He chuckles. “I suppose then that the only fair thing to do is to take it all away. Creates an even playing field, don’t you think? Now then. Kill him. I tire of this charade.”

The elf dashes forward, faster than the human eye could ever hope to track – but you were prepared for this.

Were His undead warriors still alive and conscious, you would never have been able to defeat them, even with all your powerful arcane magic. In their heyday, they practiced another kind of magic formally entitled the ‘Sublime Way’, colloquially called ‘sword magic’, although weapons ranging from polearms to bare fists can all channel it in its various forms just as easily. All over the Planes, it has different names, perhaps acknowledged more simply as ki or spirit elsewhere. Marcus himself draws from several schools of it in his fighting styles, foiling attacks no weapon should be able to block, spurring his allies to extraordinary deeds above and beyond their capabilities, effortlessly shattering materials harder than his weapon. But in death, His warriors’ fettered minds and bodies are limited, in essence, to swinging their weapons through physical space, moving their limbs underneath the control of physical laws like gravity and inertia.

In the hundreds of years you spent under Marcus’s tutelage, you learned how to do far better.

In your moment of alacrity, the elf slows to a crawl a foot in front of you, its blades struggling through the air as they cut towards your neck and shoulder. Behind you, you feel the dwarf cleave towards the base of your spine with his axe.

Unwilling to remain within the pincer, you duck underneath the elf’s blades in a forward lunge, time itself shrieking in protest as your feet point on the adamantine floor, limbs and torso twisting to keep you facing your target. Time snaps back; the elf’s blades cleave empty space as you shift your weight, now driving yourself back towards its side. Just as it turns around, blades raised in guard, you unleash an avalanche of blades.

The quicksilver bracer flows into an unadorned, long, light blade that lashes at the elf’s vital points; the head, neck, heart, lungs, and kidneys, all in seven simultaneous strikes. Not seven strikes so fast that they appear to be one, but seven simultaneous strikes, time and space now far past bent, flat out broken over your knee like a thin, dry branch.

To the elf’s credit, its crossed blades deflect the highest five of the seven strikes, anticipating the attack even if unable to initiate such a feat itself. However, the armor at its waist parts like so much rice paper as two deep cuts open into its dead flesh, sending it stumbling back. The belly wounds would have killed any mortal creature, but to the undead, it’s merely a minor inconvenience.

The dwarf nimbly sidesteps out of its prior charge and whirls around its fellow, axe whistling towards your head. Judging it as too heavy to directly deflect with your rapier-like weapon, you swipe the rapier in an arc between the two of you, the blade painting an afterimage; a veritable wall of blades. The shield shudders underneath the impact, the inertia sending you sliding back on the metal floor as you struggle to maintain your footwork. By the time you regain your stance, though, the two warriors simply square off against you instead of pressing forward. The reason for their hesitation becomes clear as His annoyed shriek pierces the air: He wants a chance to complain before the fight continues.

What? Not only a mage, but a practitioner of the Sublime Way as well? Aaaaaaaaaaaaa! What kind of man are you? Have you a trick for everything I throw at you?”

The answer is that at this point, you’re not, and yes, you do.

“Bah! You were the best; just kill him!” He orders.

They may have been the best, but the Sublime Way remains out of their reach so long as He controls their bodies. When the dwarf’s axe swings in an overhead chop to split your skull, you dart to one side and sting its shoulder with an emerald razor. You can picture each layer of adamantine atoms underneath the tip of your sword, and you guide it through and past each layer, drilling through the pauldron to ruin the tendons underneath. The elf goes for your unguarded back, trying to pierce your heart, but your arm whips back and around, guiding the short swords above your bending back through the back of the dwarf’s gauntlet in a manticore parry.

The resulting scrum is rough for you, as the dwarf takes the opportunity to bring its knee upwards in a crushing blow. In your suddenly awkward position, you can’t dodge, and simply grit your teeth as your ribs creak underneath the hit, knocking the wind out of you. The elf pulls its swords free from its compatriot and brings its blades stabbing down, a finishing blow you only dodge with an intentional fall onto your side to the blood-slick adamantine floor. Unwilling to maintain the clinch, it lands a light kick on your leg as it shifts back. When the dwarf raises a weighty boot to crush your head, you counter with a mithral tornado that in defiance of gravity sends you spiraling up out of the way into the air without an apparent motive force. The elf manages to bend away from your sweeping leg, but you still manage to connect with the dwarf’s chin as you rise, pitting the weight of your airborne, wiry, light foot against the dwarf’s dense, braced stance on the floor.

Helmet and head collapsing like a burst balloon, the armored hulk flies up and off the ground like a flicked insect, the solid floor shuddering underneath its collapsing weight.

As gravity gains hold of your body once more, the elf whips its blades forward at your unprotected calf, flaying the muscle away to expose the bone underneath in a spray of blood. It ruins your landing further by continuing its forward motion forward and seizing your falling body, swords flying out of its hands as it brings you down to the floor. Clearly it’s trying to use the weight of numbers against you, pinning you while the dwarf, just now clumsily rising from the blow you dealt it earlier, finishes you off. Desperately, you bring your hands together, quicksilver transferring itself between your hands into a pair of concave blades: kukris.

When you hit the ground, your body twists forcefully out of the elf’s hands and out from underneath its weight, impossible to hold onto in your wolverine stance. Realizing it has no way to maintain a grapple, it attempts to whirl backward for its blades. But it’s too slow; you tumble back upright, weight perfectly balanced as you close the distance and –

time
stands
still

The girallon windmill flesh rip takes its name after a mystical multi-armed creature, the cyclic motion of the user’s weapons, and the end result. While earlier you made multiple strikes in a single instant of time, you now compress twelve seconds of furious slashes in the blink of an eye, compounded further by the seemingly infinite arms and blades you possess.

The elf literally peels apart, the mithral chainmail it wore no match for the unnatural sharpness of your shaped quicksilver blades. After the first few strikes tear the armor away, burst metal rings floating through the air, its arms are the first to go, torn to bits before you move onto the torso and head, which crumple underneath the weight of your assault like paper mâché. The silk mask flies free of the elf’s face as it falls; before you rip it asunder, you note that it has a quiet, tranquil smile on its face, as if happy to be free of His control.

And the strike ends and it falls, no longer recognizable as anything humanoid from the waist up.

Behind you, the dwarf finally levers its bulk upright from the floor. Without a word of remorse for its defeated companion, it retrieves its axe, but struggles to wield it with only a single hand, its other arm ruined in the earlier assault.

However, your wounded leg is no impediment to your own movement, and you charge forward and bodily smash into it with a boulder roll, again overpowering its superior mass with a Sublime Way technique. As it crashes to the floor for the last time, you raise your hands above your head, gathering the quicksilver kukris into a long, curved blade on a haft – a scythe.

In a finishing move, you swing your weapon through the entire dwarf, armor and all lengthwise down the middle into two neat halves, then once again through the halves into quarters. Its four limbs, now five feet away from each other, twitch once, and remain still.
>> No. 154328
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Your auravision suddenly washes completely dark as His aura impossibly expands to fill the entire room. You shut it off immediately as you turn to face His original position, just in time to catch Him stalking towards you. His face is just as you remember it: seemingly not a day older than it was the day you found your master on her own ritual table, twisted with fury and hatred at your refusal to help Him gain unlimited power, hitting you with an bolt of Tainted energies as you desperately teleported away.

Just in time, you remember to stretch your jaw open as wide as possible.

“It is a shame to kill one so capable as you,” He hisses from behind clenched teeth, his eloquent words in stark contrast to the pure wrath etched on his face. Despite the anti-magic field, you feel an enchantment spin itself around your body, imprisoning them in a you-shaped cage of force so tightfitting the bleeding from your wounds stops. He’s so powerful, He can force His own magic through a zone of dead magic, an act analogous to reshaping reality. “But I have preparations to complete before I Ascend, and your presence is very, very annoying. Just. Die.

This is the turning point, the moment where you goad Him into His final mistake. “Oh? Me? Die?” you ask quizzically as if the idea had never occurred to you, your jaw waggling up and down in the space you reserved earlier. For someone who just beat two former blademasters and left half his blood all over the floor, your voice is remarkably composed, not even winded. “Do it. I dare you~” you practically sing, giving him a cheery smile.

That does it. With a wordless cry of rage, He rushes up to you and plants His palm on your brow. Unlocking the hundreds of magical gates that keep His power from infecting and destroying His living body, He unleashes it upon you, a bottomless well of the vilest, most corrupted necromantic energies ever imaginable: Taint.

Nothing seems to happen.

“Die!” He screams. “Why don’t you die?!”

You can feel the Taint weaving itself into your flesh and bones, settling itself into each and every particle of your body, absorbing His power without harm. Anything alive, like Him, would have been instantly melted and assimilated into the ‘pool’ upon direct exposure, but something killed then reanimated with necromantic energy sympathetically absorbs it.

And you made sure that you died a long, long time ago.

As He rages, you feel the smile drip off of your face as your own expression twists into a mirror of His own. “I gave up life to get here,” you hiss, freeing your limbs with an iron heart surge, shattering the imprisoning enchantment with sheer willpower. Smoothly, you draw back your arm – He has enough time to gape in shock as you drive a short, jagged quicksilver blade as wide as your arm through His torso, tearing through his heart, lungs, and intestines in a single strike.

It didn’t have to be barbed nor as wide as it is, but you want this to hurt as much as possible.

Your other hand claps on top of His, keeping the two of you in contact as His power continues to flow into you. “It was a small price to pay to stop you.”

His aura is fading, yet the overall level of energy in the room remains the same as His power flows into you. “You – you bleed,” He stutters, disbelieving.

“All an elaborate illusion,” you smoothly explain, gloating in your victory. Your body has a beating heart, flowing blood, pumping lungs, warm skin and even a system of functional muscles, but ultimately what powers it is necromantic energy. Making an unliving body cosmetically appear to be alive to outside observation was a feat of engineering, but the deception, as proven by His actions, was sufficient. You could have flown through His tainted mists without any protection – the only reason you needed to weave an abjuration against it in the first place was to not arouse His suspicion.

It was Marcus who subjected you to the Ritual of Crucimigration a long time ago in that pocket dimension, transferring your willing mind into your own corpse when you realized that your living body would not survive the Tainted wound He inflicted upon you upon the discovery of His betrayal. Over the years, you cultivated the Taint, intentionally feeding it the mana your mind could bring to bear, harvesting its natural radiation to return it to its corrupted source in a cyclic process. The end result was your unlimited arcane endurance, if not power – that develops far more slowly, even with all the additional time you had in Marcus’s demiplane. But now, with all of His own Taint, you are just as powerful as He is – was, rather.

“Well – too bad – you can’t stop it,” He giggles, blood pouring out of his mouth. “Can’t stop the Ascension. Too late. You may have stopped Me, but this world will still end. You can’t save it! Useless! Everything you did was useless!”

You only smile wider, something that makes Him cringe even as He dies upon your blade. “Stopping the Ascension was never part of the plan,” you say, like a parent scolding a child. “I just wanted to leave You with nothing when You died.”

Eyes filled with horror, He tries to say something else, but it disappears in a burble of vomited blood as He loses consciousness. Hundreds of precast contingences attempt to set themselves off, but without the weight of His old power behind them, they fizzle in His own antimagic field. Seconds later, He dies, a fact confirmed by both the disappearance of the field and the flow of Taint coming to a halt.

Your body may only feign life, yet you still can’t stop the tears from rolling down your face.

Tears of joy.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

It takes you a few minutes to collect your composure, to stop shaking with maniacal glee. But you realize that if you spend all your time sitting here, you’ll never clean up the loose ends – loose ends that desperately need to be wrapped up. Extracting your blade with a wet splurch, you turn it inside out a few times to wipe His blood off of it before reshaping it back onto its normal position on your wrist.

You don’t trust yourself to access the power you took from Him, fearing that the moment you tap it, an unimaginably deep well of Taint created from untold sacrifices and acts of unspeakable depravity, you’ll lose all inhibition and decide to continue what He started, reaching out across the Planes in an unspeakable massacre. This is why you wanted Marcus and the humans to destroy the Citadel’s base; this entire operation will be your last use of arcane magic.

And so you sit and wait. Namely, you sit on His old throne. You don’t need the comfort of the cushions, your unfeeling body not caring for either wound or posture, but something about the action tickles your sense of revenge quite nicely.

A few minutes later, you suddenly gain awareness of the entire Citadel: most notably, the news that the outlying outposts are destroyed and the base is in the process of being demolished. Your shikigami successfully realigned the Citadel without a hitch, then. Good for it – you’d hate to see what happens when a corpse Ascends. Nothing good, you imagine.

And then an hour later, when the last chambers attuned to Him in the Citadel are nothing more than rubble, Marcus descends from the tunnel into the inner sanctum, both shikigami in tow. Marcus is covered in battle damage, the beautiful engravings on his armor ruined by layers of scratches, his sword chipped in places, and half his shield simply gone, broken off somewhere in the earlier melee. Yet all of this accumulated abuse doesn’t seem to hurt him all as he triumphantly stomps towards you. The younger shikigami is unharmed, although its clothing has undergone similar abuse, and its limbs and head droop with fatigue. Yet what you instantly notice is how ill at ease your own shikigami seems, its eyes rapidly flicking back and forth between you and Marcus, tails waggling back and forth as if preparing to bolt for its life.

“I’ve just finished telling Ran and Chen here all about what you’ve planned! They don’t seem convinced that you’re a good guy all along!” he laughs elatedly as you rise from the throne and step back down towards them – it doesn’t seem right to have this talk sitting up higher than him. “About how you’re going to turn this ritual of His around, bringing life back – oho, it will be glorious!”

So that’s why your shikigami seems so uneasy. It knows both the story you told it, the truth, and the story you fed Marcus. It hasn’t spilled the story you told it, though, and Marcus is too naïve to think that its reticence is due to anything but skepticism. Bracing yourself for the hardest moment of your life, you open your mouth, and say two of the most damning words in the world:

“I lied.”

Marcus stops cold. If he had a mouth, it would be hanging open right now.

You continue, “I was never able to do that, Marcus. Yes, I hold all of his power now, but when the Ascension happens, I will be in control of all this Plane’s mana, just as the Ascension intended.”

Marcus stops cold. Normally, the Ritual of Crucimigration embeds the owner’s soul into the same corpse the mind resides in, but Marcus wove it into his own body for safekeeping and to keep you in line while you trained, just in case you decided to rebel with your newfound arcane power. Never mind that he was in pitched combat, destroying the base of the Citadel; that was still far safer than being left unattended.

For centuries you led him on, making him think that by helping you, you would reverse the Ascension, and instead of destroying the Plane, it would reseed it with life once more. It was simultaneously the most difficult and easiest lie you’ve ever made; most difficult, because of the sheer audacity of such a feat, and easiest, because Marcus never once asked you to prove it, pure to the point of gullibility.

And now he’s shifting his weight into a fighting stance, tucking behind his shield even as his sword draws back in preparation for a strike, knowing that if you tap into His power as you , you can annihilate him and reclaim your soul over his shattered body.

You can’t take it.

“Stop that,” you say, throwing out a hand, sans eldritch energies or magical compulsion. Confused, Marcus’s stance wavers. “No, Marcus. I told you, I’m not going to use His power. I swore that to you, and I have no plan on breaking a promise to you.

The trepidation on your shikigami’s face turns to absolute bafflement, an emotion shared by both the younger as it struggles to comprehend the situation and Marcus as he realizes that you aren’t about to turn him to dust, his pose relaxes, yet remains wary. “You – you lied to me!” he starts, unable to process this one fact.

Ignoring his protest, you continue, “I need you to take the shikigami and the humans to Gensokyo. The shikigami because that’s what we agreed, and the humans because they need a new home. Preferably one with a little more life,” you joke, your attempt at levity coming out in a strange choked sound. “From what you’ve told me, Gensokyo’s a pretty lively place.”

“Why?”

“You’ll take me with you – He pushed a tendril into Gensokyo, I’ll still be able to Ascend. But when it happens, I want you to banish me. Banish me from Gensokyo, so that my mind and body remain on this Plane, but you still hold my soul.”

“You’re going to split yourself between Planes!” he cries, suddenly striking the floor with his sword in disbelief, tearing a huge gash into the adamantium. “You’re going to – “

“ – lose all consciousness, be trapped in a living body without motivating thought, yes,” you finish for him. “It’s just as it should be. No single thinking mind should be in control of an entire Plane’s power. Not unless they’re a god.” You smile sadly. “I know I wouldn’t make a good god.”

Your shikigami’s eyes are wide as saucers now. It never expected you to be so altruistic, not after the apparent evil you showed it when you first gated her onto the demiplane. You can feel a thousand questions formulate in its surface thoughts, all screaming to be answered, but you shift your gaze to it, shaking your head. Quietly, and without ceremony, you examine the bond between you and it, and tear.

The thoughts disappear from your own mind, and you’re left with a sudden feeling of loss. Looking up at the shikigami, no longer yours, you see that feeling reflected in its face as it goes hollow with shock. “Why?” it voices. You have no answer for it.

Marcus’s posture shifts, suddenly deep in thought, trying to save you from this fate worse than death. “You – perhaps we could petition Her – “

“I’m sure your god supported you because She believed what you believed, that I could bring life back to this Plane. But now that you know that’s not the case, She knows – and She’s not about to help someone motivated only by vengeance reach godhood,” you voice aloud, stating what you both already know.

For a moment, the room is silent. “You didn’t just want revenge,” he contradicts you. “You wouldn’t be making sure all these people have a home! You wouldn’t have been so squeamish about bluffing that you would torture Chen, either!” Both shikigami blink at that, the elder’s earlier impression of you rapidly collapsing at each new revelation.

“So? I’m not a psychopath. I don’t want anyone else to be hurt because of what I want, and I don’t like seeing people in pain… except for Him. I know you don’t enjoy hearing this, but I savored every second He was dying on my blade.” It’s true – you can’t deny it. “I’m not a good person, Marcus,” you press on, spreading a hand across your chest. “Everything we did – all those years of training, of practice, or planning – that was all just so I could savor bringing that one man to ruin. Not because I’m some saint who wants to save the world. That’s you,” you chuckle, pointing towards him.

“You’re telling me you never intended to return life to the Plane,” he states flatly, returning to the subject.

“Marcus, that’s something gods do. Not mortals. Not even immortals,” you qualify; neither you or Marcus can die of natural causes, but there’s still a limit to your power that gods don’t have. “I don’t have some super secret magic ritual that’s going to reverse what He did! Maybe some archmage on some other Plane does, somewhere, but there’s no way we could find one in time!”

“And here I was, thinking that you were that archmage, with that super secret magic ritual.” He flings your words back. “… aaaaaah, crap. Well, still, I can’t disagree that you were helpful here.”

“Eh?” You’re confused at his sudden acceptance of the situation.

“She would have sent me here to try and stop Him anyways, you know. But She doesn’t have that many agents… I wouldn’t have been able to do it alone. Enlisting Ran and Chen – that’s something I hadn’t thought of – “

Your former shikigami suddenly cuts in. “If you had explained everything honestly, been honest from the very start… perhaps I would have helped you willingly,” it says slowly, as if unsure of its own words.

“No, you wouldn’t have,” you contradict it. Marcus turns and nods in agreement – he’d agreed with your plan, after all. “Marcus and I knew you were busy preparing Gensokyo for an assault. You knew something like this was coming, and you wouldn’t have taken the word of a stranger that we could have stopped Him. You’d have thought it was a trap.”

It hesitates, then nods. As a servant of Lady Yukari, the one with power over planar travel, it had been creating the extraplanar equivalent of barricades, labyrinths, and traps for anything that tried to cross the border – nothing that would have ultimately stopped Him, but at least given Him pause.

“Well, you still have one last job,” you continue. “You can bypass your own preparations, right?”

“I – yes, I can.”

You nod, satisfied. “Well then, glad that’s settled.”

“So in the end, you’re still a hero, a good guy all along.” Marcus sighs in disbelief. “Well, an anti-hero, maybe. Motivated not by altruism, but a personal vendetta, but in the end you saved a lot of people anyways. The people here, the people of Gensokyo, and all those other planes He would have attacked next.”

You smile a bit. “Yeah. I guess I am,” you mindlessly agree. You’re tired of this – you didn’t want this moment to be so emotionally charged, but that’s the way it is. “Marcus. Let’s do this, before I change my mind,” you jokingly threaten.

Marcus pauses, looking at the two shikigami who eventually nod in turn, accepting the course of events. “Well then. No sense in waiting,” he says gruffly.

You’re tired. Everything’s coming to an end, and all you want is for everything to be over – you’ve gotten your revenge, that’s all you wanted. You’re vaguely aware of Marcus scooping you up and flying you up and out of the Citadel, rallying the humans around him. Hands stretch out to touch you both, as if you’re saints – to be fair, you probably are to them.

Minutes before the Ascension happens, Marcus’s plane shift goes off without a hitch, planting you all into a grassy field somewhere in Gensokyo. Marcus and the two shikigami come up to try and say some last words to you, but you don’t pay them any attention, looking away and waving him off as you sit in the grass – actual grass, you dumbly realize, watching the haggard warriors throw off their arms and armor, rolling in the field, laughing with previously unknown joy. The humans will love the life here. Good for them. Various figures appear on the horizon, flying up and above into the air, eventually creating a watching crowd, but they don’t interfere; you suppose the presence of the shikigami as natives have something to do with that.

Even when the Ascension happens a few minutes later, devouring the entire Plane and fueling you with power behind any mortal’s comprehension, your torpor doesn’t fall off – you don’t even bother examining the incomprehensible power now in your grasp. Your aura at this point is bright enough to send half the flying spectators and most the humans scrambling for cover, only the most hardened or perhaps curiously suicidal lingering to watch both you and Marcus rise from your seats in the grass. You manage to bring yourself to pay attention to him for these final moments – you can pay him that much respect.

“You know, mate, I never knew your name,” he huffs, putting his hands on his hips – he’s shrunken back to his original, less angelic form, his armor gone, replace with the old wood and metal skin you’re familiar with. He’s right – in all those centuries, you never needed names to refer to each other, your understanding transcending mere titles. “But, you know, maybe it’s better this way. You’ll be easier to forget… even though…” His voice sounds as though it’s crying, even though his body should in no way be able to do that. “… I’ll never forget you. Don’t forget me, alright?”

“I’ll try not to,” you promise emptily, forcing a smile on your face for this last moment. Forgetting him, forgetting everything – that’s the point of what you’re about to do.

“Well then – “ He pauses, and you swear you can hear tears being swallowed. “Get out of here, you idiot! The next time I see your face, I want it to be in the afterlife!”

The most casually worded dismissal you’ve ever heard, it doesn’t have a chance of working against a creature of your power. You spare a glance for the shikigami – the younger cheerily waves, perhaps not quite understanding the magnitude of what’s going on, but knowing that it should see you off. The elder only stares at you, and for the sake of its own shikigami’s feelings mirrors the gesture.

You don’t say goodbye when you let the dismissal seize you without resistance, catapulting you back to the well of mana that was once your home Plane, flying far away from your soul in Marcus’s grasp. Your final action is to withdraw all of the tendrils He wove into all those Planes, forever removing any evidence that He ever existed as your consciousness escapes you –
>> No. 154329
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Impossibly, you awake.

You’re underwater, a small current keeping you wedged underneath a rock protruding from the silt. That’s odd. Is this a hallucination that your mind is producing to keep itself occupied? Are you actually able to think somehow?

– a net suddenly snakes through the water. Watching it, you gape in shock as it somehow wraps itself around you despite your tight position, and pulls.

Befuddled, you switch to your aurasight to try and figure out what’s going on, only to realize that you have no aurasight. A quick mental realization follows that not only do you have no aurasight… all your magic is gone. No personal magic, no magic from the Taint you cultivated, no magic from the Taint he cultivated, and most discomfiting of all, none of the mana from the Ascension. What happened to it?

Just what the fuck is going on?

The curse leaps to the surface of your thoughts as you break the surface of the water, flying up and into a wooden boat. Deprived of all your magical senses, you roll onto all fours and start struggling against the ropes, then freeze as what feels like a very heavy, very sharp blade rest itself on the back of your neck.

Slowly raising your head against the ropes, you’re greeted by the lace hem of a blue skirt. Craning your neck higher and higher, you realize the skirt is merely one of several petticoats of a blue and white ensemble, worn by a red-haired woman. Some of her hair is tied into two tails, more for appearance than practicality – she has enough hair that it’s flying into her face anyways. She’s holding a scythe at your neck, which, as you move, nicks you ever so slightly –

– and it hurts.

You gasp in reflex, dropping your head to avoid further injury – which only further confuses you. You haven’t gasped ever since you had Marcus kill you.

The water is wet.

The air is cool.

The wood is rough.

Sensation.

What is this?

“He should not be here,” the woman says in a low voice even as she stares down at you. Her vowels drawl slightly in a rustic accent. You can’t tell if she’s something supernatural or not – at this moment, everything seems strange and unnatural; water has a scent now; your arms are starting to ache.

“I know, Komachi,” says another voice somewhere to your side, composed and polite. Underneath the weight of the blade, you can’t see who it is, but you don’t have to – you can place it instantly. “That’s why I brought you here the moment I felt him here.”

It’s that shikigami you coerced. Those events – fighting Him, Ascending, banishing yourself to an eternally unconscious end – feel just like yesterday.

“I still think you feeling his presence is really messed up,” Komachi grumbles. The scythe repositions itself – she frowns, realizing you’ve been cut. “Makes it sound like some sort of bad love ballad.”

“I’ll have you know that this is not a love ballad,” the shikigami says, a slight edge creeping into its voice. “This is a magical anomaly. Marcus banished his mind and body while keeping his soul here. But then, what is this?”

You can’t stop yourself from speaking. “I – think. Therefore… I am?” you chuckle.

The scythe presses against your neck. “The Yama said you once had the power to wipe Gensokyo out in the palm of your hand,” Komachi hisses. “Give me one good reason why I shouldn’t dump you back into the Sanzu for everyone’s good right now.”

“Komachi!” the shikigami barks. “He’s powerless – can’t you see? He’s no threat right now – “

“Mindless souls regaining their sentience is not something that’s supposed to happen, and don’t you dare challenge me on this!” the red-haired woman barks back. “The children at the Sai no Kawara,” she sighs. “They’re sentenced to the underworld as punishment for making their parents sad, but they instinctively try to climb to heaven by stacking pebbles into a tower. It always collapses, but mindlessly, they try and rebuild it. Year after year, centuries pass as they toil, and they always refuse my offer of a ferry to the afterlife. So, they’re trapped in purgatory forever – and not once has a child from that shore boarded my ferry. So!” she suddenly declares. “Why should this mindless soul, out of all the ones I pass by each day, suddenly recover without cause? This stinks of treachery.”

So this Komachi is a ferryman of the dead... the theme of a crossing to reach an afterlife is prevalent in many cultures, but this is the first evidence you’ve seen that it could be real. Mentally, you mark her as ‘of divine power’, and resolve to never cross her if at all possible.

“I have as little idea as you. That’s what I want to find out.”

“This isn’t something you can calculate. Does Yukari know what you’re doing?”

“… Yukari’s hibernating, thankfully. I know I’m supposed to wake her in case of emergency, but…” the shikigami hesitates. “She’d agree with you. But… I’m curious about him. I never got a chance to talk with him as an equal.”

“Okay, now this sounds like a love ballad.”

“Komachi?”

“Yes?”

Stop that.”

“Fine, fine. Hey, you!” The scythe lifts itself from your neck, quickly slashing into the net around you. Clumsily, you throw off the cords and roll yourself into a sitting position against the side of the boat, looking to the side to make sure that the shikigami is who you think it is… yes, that’s the figure you remember – white robe, blue tabard, a cap over her ears, and especially the tails, currently fanned out in a neutral position.

She bows to you, hands in her sleeves, eyes lowered to the deck. “Sir, a long time has passed since we last met. I believe we have not had the pleasure of exchanging names.”

As you automatically open your mouth to reply, it suddenly occurs to you that you’ve completely forgotten what your name was.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

CHOOSE YOUR MONIKER

[ ] You honestly can’t remember, but she can call you [ ] “write in” for now.

[ ] Leave the name up to them…
-[ ] …perhaps they’ll think [ ] “write-in” will work.
-[ ] … you should wait until you remember or discover for yourself. It’s your name, after all.
>> No. 154331
I'm sorry I ever doubted you. That was awesome, and a satisfying explanation.

[x] Can't remember
-[x] Tsurugi Totate

This means "sword and sheild", unless I've fucked up my Japanese. It refers to our mercury shield.

If people see this level of meaningfulness as faggotry, which I can understand, please allow me to suggest the names Sou Kawara, in honor of those tower-building children, or Sor Kanawn.
>> No. 154332
>>154331

"Sword and Shield" seems rather fanciful, but I can definitely like the alternative you suggested.

[x]Sou Kawara, after the tower-building children.
>> No. 154334
[x] You honestly can’t remember, but she can call you
- [x] Carwyn

First result off the first name generator I googled. Good enough.
>> No. 154335
>>154331
... I really didn't explain it that well. Then again, I can't really think of a good way to put it. If anybody actually cares what I meant, let me know and I'll try to explain.

More importantly, that second name suggestion should have been Sai Kawara.
>> No. 154337
>>154332
Seems I did better at explaing things than I thought. Maybe. I really like the other two just as much, so I'm changing my vote in >>154331to:
[x] Can't remember.
-[x] Sai Kawara

Honoran child spirit gaems.
>> No. 154340
[x] You honestly can't remember, but she can call you
-[x] Sai Kawara

Sounds good to me.
>> No. 154341
>>154332

I'm >>154331 , and I'd definitely like to hear the explanation for the original name, even if I like Sai better.

Clarifying my vote:

[x] You honestly can't remember, but she can call you
-[x] Sai Kawara
>> No. 154342
File 133128298426.jpg - (187.22KB , 544x544 , Table Flip.jpg ) [iqdb]
154342
As someone 1.5 semesters deep into 1st year Japanese, I'd like to hear the explanation of the nuances between "Sou" Kawara and "Sai" Kawara.

I mean, I already know the mythology of Sai no Kawara (the Limbo of Children, or more literally, Shore of Debt, if my dictionary is correct), but without knowing the exact kanji, Sou (no) Kawara ends up meaning something like "Shore of Suffering/Monks/Origins/Marrying". (Sou has a LOT of possible meanings.)

Also, I rushed this update, but going back I've already spotted two massive grammar hiccups and a hilarious contradiction, although nothing continuity breaking. Pic related.

Also, fuck, Komachi is far too eloquent for someone speaking in a rustic accent.

>>154331

I crammed a lot of explanations into this update. Care to detail exactly which one you liked, or just all of them?

I guess you might just say I'm looking for general feedback/comments/opinions. That goes to all Readanons out there. It'll be a few days while you guys decide on a name and I crank out the update (which your choice of name really won't affect, so I get to work on it now!~).
>> No. 154347
>>154341
I'm assuming you transposed the post numbers, because I'm >>154331. Anyway, if by original name you meant the one with all the 'T's, it means what I said it means (probably). The explanation I was referring to was that I've seen a good number of horrible self-inserts with names like Darkfire Waterblade, and even if it's in Japanese, it's still basically a bunch of cool-sounding stuff stuck together.

One of those self-inserts may or may not have been made by me when I was much younger.

Sou instead of Sai was a mistake due to me currenly using a mobile device on which scrolling is a bitch, the update being at the bottom and reply field at the top, and that I remembered the first word started with S and was three letters.

I really liked the part where it was explained how he was not evil.
>> No. 154350
>>154342
Wait, the same symbol is used for marrying and suffering?
[Obvious joke goes here.]
>> No. 154351
>>154350

Not the same symbol, but the same sound. Homophones, not homographs.
>> No. 154352
I just realized that when Yukari finds out that we're still around our existance expectancy will probably be measured in seconds.

We nearly screwed her over after all, not to mention successfully kidnapped her shinigami's and subverted the shinigami contract between herself and Ran.
>> No. 154353
[x]Sai Kawara

I like the idea that since he doesn't remember his name, and she just referred to him as one of the children at Sai no Kawara then he'll take his new name from that.


>>154350
That joke exists (and is probably even more obvious) in Swedish too. Our words for "being married" and "venom" are the same. Both in pronunciation and spelling.
>> No. 154358
[x] You honestly can’t remember, but she can call you
- [x] Carwyn

Just about close enough to Corwin. It is an awesome name.
>> No. 154362
[x]Sai Kawara
>> No. 154367
>>154352
Oh, she already knows.

There's nothing a shikigami's master doesn't know from their servant, after all.
>> No. 154369
[x] You honestly can't remember, but she can call you...
-[x] Sai Kawara

There's really nothing else meaningful we can go with here.
>> No. 154371
>>154367

Hibernation means not paying close attention to the day-to-day affairs of your servants.

'course, once you awake and find out who they've been dallying with, you might resolve to pay a little more attention.
>> No. 154375
File 133132685817.jpg - (14.90KB , 220x161 , Sai no Kawara.jpg ) [iqdb]
154375
Seeing as there's a pretty overwhelming vote, I'm going to make this official (even though I started writing already).

Vote called. Pic related. Writing now. Please wait warmly~
>> No. 154378
File 133133465467.jpg - (195.77KB , 1920x1200 , Higan.jpg ) [iqdb]
154378
RESULTS

[X] You honestly can’t remember, but they can call you [X] Sai Kawara for now.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“… I don’t recall. It’s been so long since I’ve had to use it, it’s drifted from my memory,” you explain, your shoulders rolling up and around in a shrug, ashamed.

The ferryman scoffs, unconvinced. “Oh, come on. A ghost that’s cunning enough to gain phenomenal cosmic power but can’t even be bothered to remember its own name? You’re not the ghost of some child, ya know. Surely ya had a name for long enough to remember it.”

Her rebuttal is actually far more accurate than she will ever suspect. “… not really.” You can’t bring yourself to look at either of them directly. “So, uh… we’re on a boat,” you start, trying to change the subject.

The bowed Ran’s ears flick underneath her hat, perhaps in annoyance or amusement at your attempt. “Well, in any case, my name is Ran Yakumo, servant of Lady Yukari Yakumo, master of Chen.” She rises, hands still in her sleeves as she regards you with a carefully diplomatic expression.

“Chen…?”

The shikigami looks a little sheepish all of a sudden. “She had no formal surname when I summoned her, and it seems – “

“Chen Yakumo, then,” you cut in.

“Excuse me?” Again her ears flick as her expression shifts rapidly, from confusion to annoyance.

“You are not related to Lady Yukari by blood, yes?” you inquire, raising an eyebrow.

“No – “

“It seems that the naming convention is that the shikigami takes the surname of the master, then, is it not?”

“Well yes, but – “

“Then what prevents Chen from having your own surname in turn?” It doesn’t seem logical to you.

“Do not think I have not thought of this before,” she scolds you. “I serve Lady Yukari, but Chen serves me, and only Lady Yukari indirectly. I have the Yakumo surname, but it is not my own. For Chen to have it herself would imply a direct line of service that does not exist.”

“… nested cohorts,” you sigh. How convoluted.

“Well, ya still need a name,” says Komachi in an attempt to steer you back on course. Heh, that’s funny – ferryman, steering, course. Your mind flows over the past minute of conversation, picking out a suitable title for yourself.

“Call me Sai Kawara, then,” you decide. A shore of debt. After all you’ve done, you certainly feel like one – you owe a lot to the world.

Yet, uncomprehending of your history, Komachi’s hand tightens on her scythe in disapproval. “Sacrilegious! You dare name yourself after a holy place?”

Without a moment to spare for thought, you raise your arm in time for a silver panel to throw itself between you and her blunt, backhanded strike. The blow doesn’t throw you, but the boat rocks underneath the force of the swing and the block. Your sense of balance inhibited by the unfamiliarity of your senses, you lose your footing, dropping to one knee, cowering blindly beneath your protection.

Ran claps her hands – even without your aurasight, you can feel your hairs rise on end as the air charges itself with energy. “Komachi! We agreed to take him to Higan – or are you breaking our agreement?”

“He’s not making a good case for himself already,” Komachi grumbles, but no further blow follows. Anxiously, you pull the quicksilver back around your arm, revealing the red-haired woman’s hateful gaze as you regain your footing. “… neat trick, by the way. An artifact attached to your very soul, and not your body? Many a mythical hero would crave such a thing. They’d love to keep their stuff with them between worlds.”

You think for a second. “No, they wouldn’t.” It seems you’re full of contradictions – both within yourself and for the thoughts of others.

“Merely Sai will do for now, then,” Ran rushes to fill in before either you or Komachi can continue bickering. “Debt. You owe one to us in the form of an explanation.”

“That I do,” you tentatively agree, still clashing with Komachi’s flinty gaze. “Excuse me, but we’re on a boat to…”

“This is my ferry,” Komachi huffs, reshouldering her scythe and turning away from you, walking to the prow of her vessel. You realize now that this entire time it’s been moving forward, although without apparent propulsion – most definitely magic is at hand. “And like I said, we’re on the Sanzu, the border between the living Gensokyo and the afterlife of sorts that is Higan. Ran and I have agreed to take you to the Yama for questioning.”

An afterlife…? That’s a rather discomfiting fact. You decide to digest this information one tidbit at a time. “So, we’ll be seeing a lot of Gensokyo’s dead? And, are we essentially dying by crossing…?”

Ran shakes her head. “Not a lot, but a few of the most recent who haven’t yet been judged. People don’t stay in Higan; they only linger long enough to be judged. You might call it a customs office,” she coughs, dodging Komachi’s sudden dirty glare, “although as you can probably guess it’s far more important than that. As for dying… no as well. Dying is the separation of the soul and mind from the living body. If you tried to cross as a soul attached to a body, then yes, you would die, but all of us are spirits here: Komachi as a shinigami, myself as a shikigami, and you as… your soul with a mysteriously intact mind,” she finishes lamely, unable to assign a title to you. “Crossing the River is merely a journey for us.”

“Don’t get any ideas about jumping out and swimming, either,” Komachi grumbles, perhaps still sour over Ran’s rough analogy. “The only person who’s been able to comprehend the width of the Sanzu is standing with ya right now, and she’ll be the first to tell you that out here, I’m your only ride to either side. You’ll just swim in circles forever otherwise – until you drown, that is.”

You recall that the shikigami did say something about calculating a distance – how long ago was it? “How long has it been since…? “

“Since the incident?” Ran finishes for you. “About two years. Things have settled down a little bit with all the new people and magic that came here… but it’s still the Gensokyo we know, at least for now.”

“Haven’t had to ferry any of the newcomers over yet,” Komachi adds. “Talking with them should be a new experience.”

One question leaps to the front of your mind. “How’s Marcus?” The living construct has been your friend for as long as you can remember, and you want to know just what he’s been doing.

Surprisingly, Ran flushes. “He’s doing fine, but, you… ah.”

“If anything’s happened to him, I swear I’ll make those responsible pay,” you declare hotly. Komachi gives you a quick backward glance, but the corners of her mouth crook upwards in a smile before she turns away.

“… you may not recognize him anymore. He’s… changed,” Ran finishes.

“What happened?” you demand, refusing to play any games.

Komachi wheels around, a suddenly cheery smile on her face. “Nothing bad. But hold your questions for now – we’re here.”

The mists on the surface of the river suddenly part, revealing a wide shore as far as you can see in either direction on the glittering horizon, the hills coated with the red blossoms of endless fields of flowers. There’s no sun nor starry sky, but the entire landscape is suffused with a soft, warm light, as if the earth itself were aglow.

“Welcome to Higan.”
>> No. 154379
File 133133477668.jpg - (133.86KB , 850x743 , Eiki.jpg ) [iqdb]
154379
When you met the Yama on the docks, you imagined it would be more imposing. A twenty-foot tall robed specter, with a set of scales in one hand and a whip in the other, perhaps. Instead, she actually stands slightly shorter than her servant Komachi, although her formal regalia in contrast to the ferryman’s rougher clothes shows her clearly higher status. In front of her she clutches a ceremonial engraved cudgel, obviously an object of rank. The terrifyingly ornate headpiece finishes the uniform, giving her an air of menace you can feel even without your aurasight.

“Eiki!” Komachi exclaims in surprise even as she guides her ferry to the pier. “Aren’t you busy? I thought ya said ya’d be waiting for us in the hall.”

But when the ferryman jumps from ship to land, ropes in one hand and scythe in the other, the Yama does something unexpected, suddenly repurposing the ceremonial cudgel as an actual weapon applied directly to Komachi’s forehead. The red-haired woman yelps in pain, instantly dropping to her knees. The ropes clatter to the dock as she claps a palm over the injury, although she keeps a hold on her scythe.

Instinctively, you cringe, looking to Ran for an explanation. She meets your glance, but quickly closes her eyes and nods. “Nothing out of the ordinary,” she mutters out of the corner of her mouth.

The reason for the Yama’s ire swiftly becomes clear as the two of you cross over as well, lurking a safe distance behind the confrontation. “That’s Yamaxanadu to you, shinigami!” the Yama lectures her servant. “Do not be so casual during the job!”

Komachi squints upward at her superior. “I – thought this was a personal favor…?”

Another smack with the cudgel; Ran buries a face behind a wide sleeve as if unable to witness such abuse. “A personal favor to the Yakumos that I do this at all, as opposed to sending him for an eternal swim in the Sanzu! Not to you, shinigami! You’re on the job! Act like it!”

Geez, does everyone have it out for you? Before you can stop yourself, you step forward and thrust out your arm. “Yamaxanadu! There’s no need to punish your servant,” you find yourself saying, throwing yourself onto the proverbial cross. “I’m here. What do you want with me?”

The green-haired judge stares at you, a gaze that bores into your very mind and leaves you feeling practically violated, yet you don’t waver, forcing yourself to keep your eyes focused on hers. Before you break, though, she speaks. “I’m not punishing her because she brought you here,” she explains. “It’s a discipline thing, something she has to work a lot on between her loose lips to the ghosts she ferries and her habit of slacking when she thinks no one’s paying attention.”

That comes as a surprise. You weren’t aware a spiritual ferryman could be lazy. “ – ah,” you exhale, and that’s all the response you can muster.

“In any case, let me explain what is going to happen here. Your friend released your mindless soul into our care for safekeeping – “

You’ve heard enough. “Bullshit,” you hiss, quickly marching forward, massively powerful supernatural judge be damned. Despite her earlier abuse at the Yama’s hands, Komachi instantly whirls around and brings the haft of her scythe across and in front of her body in a braced guard, one that you let yourself run up against, giving her a death glare. You’re smart enough to not draw a weapon, but it’s a close thing. Yet again, Ran is reduced to standing passively away from the scuffle, attempting to pacify the situation from the side. “Marcus fought through massed ranks of His undead with my soul woven into his body, and we both agreed that was far safer than left alone on some demiplane somewhere where its position might be divined and consequentially stolen. He would have never let it loose into the river.”

Again the Yama’s stare seems to scour your very mind, but this time you shake it off with an instinctive iron heart surge. You blink in shock as you realize that while your arcane energies are absent, you still possess the ability to access the Sublime Way.

You file this fact away for later. It might come in handy.

“Your friend… changed,” the Yama begins, just as the shikigami did.

“Will someone tell me what the fuck that’s supposed to mean?” you growl, shoving against Komachi’s guard to make a point. She doesn’t budge one centimeter – another fact to note.

“Not important right now.” You gnash your teeth in a visible if pitiful show of aggression at her, but relent, pushing off against the ferryman’s weapon and tottering backwards back beside Ran. You realize that a line across your chest and upper arms hurts now – whacking yourself against Komachi left a mark. “It is only relevant that it, along with all the other mindless souls we’ve received over the years, be left in the Sanzu, away from the disturbances of the world. Yesterday, Ran comes to my shinigami, speaking of a strange presence she senses in the midst of the Sanzu, and now here we stand to judge you, a soul with its memory recovered with no rhyme or reason.”

You shoot Ran a skeptical look – she avoids it, raising and lowering one shoulder as if to say ‘not my fault’, except it most certainly is. “Define ‘judge’,” you ask cautiously.

The Yama’s next lines chill you to the bone – well, you’re not even sure you have bones as a ‘soul with a mind and no body’, but the sensation is the same. “I will be analyzing your past from birth to determine whether or not you are good or evil. Every moment you remember, every bit of charity, every sacrifice, every slight, every betrayal, will be relived as I balance each act to determine your final fate.”

You swallow at the sudden taste of bile in your mouth, suddenly fearful for your sanity. “Everything? I’ll relive everything?

She nods. “Everything. Seeing your reactions is necessary to judge your character – ”

That’s all you need to hear. Without a further word you whip around and leap back into the uncrossable Sanzu, preferring to spend an entirety swimming rather than face that again –

– well, you try to. Your body freezes in midair – you throw your mind against the enchantment and shatter it for just a split second, but it reforms itself before your limbs can do more than twitch. Reduced to squirming against the bonds, you begin crying out like a child, your voice not cutely distressed but keen with pain and anguish. “No! No! No!!! You can’t make me – I don’t want to – “

Your neck is forced around to face the Yama again. “Interesting,” she remarks, eyebrows raised as you break free of your bindings again and again. “You’re a surprisingly slippery fellow.”

“So it is treachery all along, ain’t it?” Komachi hisses, whirling her scythe back against your neck as you land back onto the pier, the Yama’s magic forcing you to stand upright. “Ya know, it’s only the depraved that don’t want to see their past before their afterlife. They already know that it’s too horrible for the Yama to grant them mercy.”

“Too… horrible…” Yes. It is too horrible. Reliving those years is horrible – you’d rather swim the Sanzu, rather banish your soul and mind once more, but it’s too late to escape now.

“Yamaxanadu, could you not show a little more delicacy?” Ran calls from the sideline, clearly not expecting such brutality. You hear an undertone of guilt in her voice, as if she didn’t expect this.

“Villains get no leniency,” she retorts. “Do you have a name?”

“… Sai… Kawara…” you manage to choke out, grinning in a bit of mischievious pleasure as you watch her expression turn cold, right before she brings the weight of her mind against yours, crushing your consciousness like an insect underneath a rock. For a moment you resist in a moment of perfect mind, but it ends far too soon and everything goes dark…

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

CHOOSE YOUR ORIGIN

[ ] You and Him became your master’s apprentices at a young age when she sensed your magical potential during a visit to your family. Both of you still went to visit home regularly, though – a family included amongst His first victims.

[ ] You don’t remember any other parents – your master raised both you and Him for as long as you can remember. Perhaps you were a child borne out of wedlock, or she snatched you from the cradle herself, but she was the only caretaker the two of you ever knew – which made His betrayal all the more cutting.

[ ] Your master approached the Academy of thousands of mage potentials, willing to take the two best acolytes who competed in a tournament for the right: ultimately, at the end of a year long trial, you and Him. Even underneath her supervision, you always competed against each other – a competition that culminated in His atrocities.
>> No. 154383
[X] You don’t remember any other parents – your master raised both you and Him for as long as you can remember. Perhaps you were a child borne out of wedlock, or she snatched you from the cradle herself, but she was the only caretaker the two of you ever knew – which made His betrayal all the more cutting.

This option seems the most...fitting. Since one would think that he'd otherwise mention their families/the Academy during the prologue if his origin story included them.
>> No. 154384
[ ] You don’t remember any other parents – your master raised both you and Him for as long as you can remember. Perhaps you were a child borne out of wedlock, or she snatched you from the cradle herself, but she was the only caretaker the two of you ever knew – which made His betrayal all the more cutting.
>> No. 154385
[X] You don’t remember any other parents – your master raised both you and Him for as long as you can remember. Perhaps you were a child borne out of wedlock, or she snatched you from the cradle herself, but she was the only caretaker the two of you ever knew – which made His betrayal all the more cutting.

Well, we did know exactly how to push His buttons.

Also, ouch on the name. I suppose it's to be expected, though, since Hell is part of the Bureaucracy. At least Shikieiki will get to the reasoning behind the name.

You know, since we spent hundreds of years in that pocket plane, Shikieiki might be here for a while.
>> No. 154386
[ ] You don’t remember any other parents – your master raised both you and Him for as long as you can remember. Perhaps you were a child borne out of wedlock, or she snatched you from the cradle herself, but she was the only caretaker the two of you ever knew – which made His betrayal all the more cutting.
>> No. 154387
[X] You don’t remember any other parents – your master raised both you and Him for as long as you can remember. Perhaps you were a child borne out of wedlock, or she snatched you from the cradle herself, but she was the only caretaker the two of you ever knew – which made His betrayal all the more cutting.
>> No. 154388
[ ] You don’t remember any other parents – your master raised both you and Him for as long as you can remember. Perhaps you were a child borne out of wedlock, or she snatched you from the cradle herself, but she was the only caretaker the two of you ever knew – which made His betrayal all the more cutting.
>> No. 154393
[x] You don’t remember any other parents – your master raised both you and Him for as long as you can remember. Perhaps you were a child borne out of wedlock, or she snatched you from the cradle herself, but she was the only caretaker the two of you ever knew – which made His betrayal all the more cutting.
>> No. 154395
[X] You don’t remember any other parents – your master raised both you and Him for as long as you can remember. Perhaps you were a child borne out of wedlock, or she snatched you from the cradle herself, but she was the only caretaker the two of you ever knew – which made His betrayal all the more cutting.

Wow, his reaction really makes you wonder just how shit his life was if he'd rather choose eternity in a watery limbo than go through his (finite) life again.
>> No. 154398
This whole introductory piece was very well done, and using Siki is a good way to get votes on personal history, rather than just shoehorning it in through narrative exposition or monologuing. Obviously, you prepared this story well in advance.

You are very good a writing fight scenes. I wish to see more in the future.

As for the PC himself, we definitely know he's formerly human & male, but he changed himself into a necropolitan years ago. Upon waking in Higan, he's apparently been returned to humanity, either as a side effect of the Ascension or because someone restored his mortality with a Resurrection or similar spell.

I'd venture to say he's a Battle Sorcerer variant with Focus Caster class feature. Replacing his familiar, he'd get a shield/bracer that costs less to enchant and has additional hardness & hp, with a bonus to Abjuration spells. Level 17 would give him access to 8th level spells, but not 9th level spells. He'd know less spells than an average Sorc. I'll have to read the Book of Nine Swords more closely to estimate how progressed as a Swordsage he is. The shield is a unique artifact, so all bets are off regarding its stats, but it reminds me a lot of Tensile Mercury material from a d20 Bastion Press book.

Since Focus Caster is a class feature, it would allow him to keep his shield through a Reincarnation, if it works in Gensokyo anything like the spell.

[x] You don’t remember any other parents – your master raised both you and Him for as long as you can remember. Perhaps you were a child borne out of wedlock, or she snatched you from the cradle herself, but she was the only caretaker the two of you ever knew – which made His betrayal all the more cutting.

This is more tragic.

Problem, though. Both 'Sai' and 'Kawara' are exclusively female names, while the player has already been referred to as male. It's possible his gender will changed upon reincarnation if it's anything like the spell, but this is likely to merely be ignorance on the PC's part.
>> No. 154400
File 133143235465.jpg - (16.14KB , 469x320 , Bison Yes.jpg ) [iqdb]
154400
>>154398
>das praise

Pic related.

I had the framework planned out to this stage before I ever started; however, now I've far less 'buffer' planned, as what's happens a few updates from now will be very input-dependent.

>neckbearding

One of us, I see.

Note that I will never ever have a hard sheet prepared for Sai (or should I refer to him as Kawara?) - I'll never be willing to pin myself down on exact details. However, I'll gladly fuel/Joss speculation as to the inspirations behind him:

>As for the PC himself, we definitely know he's formerly human & male, but he changed himself into a necropolitan years ago.

Good catch on that.

>Upon waking in Higan, he's apparently been returned to humanity, either as a side effect of the Ascension or because someone restored his mortality with a Resurrection or similar spell.

Ran called you a 'soul with a mysteriously intact mind'. You're not a human... yet...

>Battle Sorcerer variant with Focus Caster class feature. Replacing his familiar, he'd get a shield/bracer that costs less to enchant and has additional hardness & hp, with a bonus to Abjuration spells.

Not a Battle Sorcerer. Think... more laterally. Think... even more alternatively.

The shield is his replacement for a familiar, though.

>Level 17 would give him access to 8th level spells, but not 9th level spells. He'd know less spells than an average Sorc.

Yes on the level. BUT I took a page out of Pathfinder and fed him a lot more spells known than a normal Sorcerer. It's more interesting to write when you have more tricks.

>I'll have to read the Book of Nine Swords more closely to estimate how progressed as a Swordsage he is.

Not a Swordsage. IRON HEART SURRRRRRRGE

>The shield is a unique artifact, so all bets are off regarding its stats, but it reminds me a lot of Tensile Mercury material from a d20 Bastion Press book.

Your shield is a Swiss Army Knife, the facilitator of creative write-in solutions.

>[x] You don’t remember any other parents – your master raised both you and Him for as long as you can remember. Perhaps you were a child borne out of wedlock, or she snatched you from the cradle herself, but she was the only caretaker the two of you ever knew – which made His betrayal all the more cutting.

So unanimous ಠ_ಠ

>Problem, though. Both 'Sai' and 'Kawara' are exclusively female names, while the player has already been referred to as male. It's possible his gender will changed upon reincarnation if it's anything like the spell, but this is likely to merely be ignorance on the PC's part.

Oho, so it is? I'll have to bring that one up - but it's the name he/we jumped on, and so we'll stick with it. (Queue a lot of "I expected 'him' to be a woman".) Might I ask what the normal writings of the 'female name' kanji are? MC will be writing it using 'debt' and 'shore', as his namesake, but surely the female name uses different kanji.
>> No. 154401
File 133143276321.jpg - (88.52KB , 500x211 , Pensieve.jpg ) [iqdb]
154401
Oh, and because there's clearly a landslide vote already:

Vote called. Pic related. Writing now. Please wait warmly~
>> No. 154406
File 133144379760.jpg - (36.13KB , 460x276 , Your Brain on Drugs.jpg ) [iqdb]
154406
RESULTS

[X] You don’t remember any other parents – your master raised both you and Him for as long as you can remember. Perhaps you were a child borne out of wedlock, or she snatched you from the cradle herself, but she was the only caretaker the two of you ever knew – which made His betrayal all the more cutting.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“Master~! We did it~! We did it~!”

Indeed you have. Bending the silent image that you made to look just like Him, you have it join His own silent image made to look just like you. In seconds, both are dancing a jig around your master’s wrinkled feet, their heads not even reaching the middle of her thigh. Laughing in that way only a child can, both of you leap off the stone table to join your illusions’ cavorting. Chuckling, she can’t help but join in the fun with a major image of a chorus made of one hundred dancing pixies, all singing in perfect harmony as they perch on your arms and heads and trail beautiful patterns of light around the three of you –

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Where are you?

Your vision is blurry, eyes struggling to focus on something – anything – in front of you. The memory was so real. You could drink the air.

The Yama. In front of you – what an extravagant chair. Mirror. A mirror between the two of you and slightly to one side. Enough to one side so that both of you can look into it. The last of the fairies slowly fades as the judge waves one hand. You’re in a chair of your own – your arms and shoulders are pinned down. Four hands on your body. You’re twitching. A partitioned part of your mind is still blindly combatting the compulsion. Roll your head from side to side. What do you see? Red hair and blue on your left, blond and big fluffy tails on your right.

“A charmed childhood, then. No memory of parents, but an appropriate mother-figure, a mentor. How did you become such a bad apple…?”

Head suddenly wrenched towards the mirror. Something tears in your neck when you try to turn away. Screaming, you seem to fall into the image playing on the surface –

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“Hey, hey, hey! Take a look at this!”

In response to His exhilarated shout, you jump off your seat carved into the side of the cliff and seize your own body with magic, sending it flipping in an upward spiral until you clear the upper edge, coming to rest beside Him. You look down upon the cratered stone beneath you both: a proving ground for new experiments. A few years ago, when you hadn’t even lost all your baby teeth yet, you had to beg her for fly spells to get to this place, a natural enclosure hidden in the middle of a mountain, as if some godly hand had poked a finger into the mountain when still shaping it of divine clay. But now you fly here whenever you want to try something new – as He’s clearly itching to do.

“Hey, you mind if I waste your goblin over there?” He points to a hideously deformed statue rising straight of the rock, the result of a ‘two-second art project’ facilitated by a stone shape about three months ago. It’s… hideously deformed. There’s no other way to describe it – it was a two-second project, after all. You’d be glad to be rid of it.

“Absolutely not, Bro. Nuke it.”

“Cool. And sha-zam~!”

A green zigzagging ray leaps from the end of His pointed finger, landing on what was supposed to be its nose and ended up being about the size of a second head. You blink, and then there’s nothing but so much stone dust. Your jaw drops. That’s… sixth circle stuff. You’d only been working on fifth circle magic a week earlier.

“Whoooooooaaaa~!” you exhale, impressed. You float down to the pile of sand, picking up a handful of the light grey grains to let it trickle between your fingers as if to make sure it’s real. “You actually did it! You said you’d get to the sixth circle way before me, and… I guess you did…”

“Eh, well, I rushed a bit,” He admits, running a hand through His unkempt brown hair. “I’m not nearly as good with the fifth circle stuff as you are, though. You’re far more creative than I’ll ever be.” As a case in point, He flicks his fingers in the motions of transmute stone to mud, but as the sand turns to liquid He loses control of it, the grey goo running everywhere as he curses good-naturedly in annoyance.

Chuckling, you regather the liquid with another stone shape immediately followed with a transmute mud to stone, leaving the thing in an oversized portrayal of His current simultaneously scowling and laughing expression. In its own way, this new piece is just as funny as your former art failure, and soon the two of you are leaning on it, roaring anew as He adds a massive beard and handlebar mustache onto His disembodied head.

When the laughs finally die down, He sighs. “You know, I want to be powerful. So powerful. I never want to fail again, never want to ever have a finger pointed at Me that says, ‘Hey, You done fucked up.’ That’d be nice, eh?” He points to the sky, letting a flame dance on the end of his fingertip.

You nod, even though you know He can’t see it, and point your own finger to the sky, this one crackling with electricity. “Of course, Bro. I’ll always help you. Do you even have to ask?”

“No matter what?”

You can’t imagine what would ever split you apart. “No matter what,” you affirm.

There’s a quiet moment, and then the static charge building around your finger causes a spark to leap between your two digits, making you both jump and squeak in surprise. It’s enough to shatter the serious atmosphere, and moments later you’re both laughing uncontrollably once more –

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Oh, gods, those words. How you’d come to regret them. ‘No matter what.’ You were so sure He would never do anything out of the ordinary. Just keep studying. Keep learning. But no – that wasn’t the road to flawless power, He concluded. He had to have more. That was His true Nature you never knew.

“Eiki!” Komachi’s voice cries. Or is it Komachi’s? It sounds strangely warped. But it came from your left, and that’s where she was, so it must be her. Right? Has her voice been altered, or is it just your ears? You can’t turn to see. Your neck is locked, unable to move your gaze away from the mirror. Close your eyes. No – something’s pinning your eye lids. “Eiki, this isn’t normal! Wait just a minute!”

“Yamaxanadu!” Ran. If Komachi was on your left, then the shikigami must be on your right. She doesn’t sound normal either. Like a steel cable about to snap. “Stop this, there’s something going on – “

“No respite for the wicked! Next!” the Yama barks, her voice still crystal clear. You watch as the next scene begins to play itself out – oh please, no, not this moment, anything but the next memory, you’d rather any memory but the next –

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

She’s been butchered. Your master’s alien body was never pretty, nothing like the maidens from the surrounding villages who you used to peep on when you still had free time, whether with invisibility in person or in your case various divinations like clairvoyance or scrying from the comfort of your own personal chambers. No, it was merely incomprehensible – but it was never this hideous.

For now her shredded and broken limbs are unnaturally piled on top of the stone table, a lingering aura of necromancy and something else palpable over it.

Without any prior warning, He bursts through the house’s door, looking like He’s just seen Death itself – your gazes meet. You look as shocked as he does, probably.

“Bro… what, the, fuck. What… what is this?” You haven’t a clue. You don’t yet suspect.

He swallows, eyes wild, and the end begins. “She tried to kill Me.”

You blink. “She what?”

“She tried to kill Me, man. She came in, started screeching about forbidden rituals and eldritch impossibilities, then the next thing I know there’s an orb of force screeching towards My head.”

You don’t comprehend. “But… why?! She had to have a reason…”

He walks in, too shellshocked to bother closing it behind Him. This is the only fact that saves you – the permanent dimensional lock normally on the inside of the house, a personal development of hers, is left open. “She was scared of Me. Scared of My power.”

You know that He’s already reached the ninth and final circle while you’re still puttering around on the seventh, although a lot of that is due to you spending more time helping Him with his own rituals and techniques than on your own. But after the ninth circle, advancement becomes more fuzzy – lateral, not vertical, and your master’s expertise was as wide as the sea. “What – could she possibly have to fear from You?”

Suddenly, you get the sense that something is very, very wrong when his torpor turns to feral pleasure. “Watch Me.” Lurching over to the sacrifice table, he leans over your master’s corpse and taps into that aura of necromancy and – only then do you realize what that something else is. You’d only read about it in a couple of history books. It was supposed to be an impossibility to create, and yet –

“Fuck! Is that… is that Taint?

His grin widens. “Damn straight it is,” He boasts, seemingly uncaring that her blood is staining His hands. “The source of infinite power.”

You can only gape. “You – fucker! We both know what Taint does to people! You’ll kill the whole damn entire world!”

“It makes those who use it strong, and those who it is used against very, very dead,” he hisses, practically licking his lips. “I want to be strong.”

Already, you’re backing away, towards the open door. You can make it out – away from Him, before He turns on you. “You – you have to stop, Bro, you can’t – “

“Weren’t you with Ne no matter what?” He whips towards you, face drawn with the sting of betrayal, the same expression on yours. “You said you’d help Me no matter what!”

“Not with this!

Those words of severance are the last you ever speak to Him. His response comes in the form of a scream of absolute hatred, a hundred bolts of Tainted mana at your fleeing back, drawn from the aura above your dead master. Wings of cover block almost all of them, but a single one just grazes your shoulder, fire suddenly flowing through all your veins at the barest touch.

No, fire through the veins isn’t a sufficient description. More like your veins are on fire. Your skin is on fire too – actually, everything is on fire, except your nerves are still working, as if fire and your body are simultaneously sharing the same space. This is pain on a level so high that your body tries to kill itself to end the feeling – it takes you almost all your willpower to simply avoid succumbing.

Impossibly, you manage to weave a teleport, but it’s unfocused, leading to somewhere – but anywhere’s better than here, with Him –

– falling through the sky –
– somewhere underwater –

– and then you’re flat on your face in a cave somewhere, writhing in pain, sobbing with loss, not knowing what to do when you know the end of the world is coming, when there’s not a single damned thing you can do –

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“Guh.” “Ugh.”

No more hands touching you anymore. The sound of crumpling bodies. The Yama? No, the Yama’s still upright, glaring at you, eyes devoid of emotion. The mirror's clear for now, but it's swirling still. There's still more to come.

No, wait, there are still hands. Not on your shoulders and arms, though. On the armrests, on your wrists and hands. They grab at you, pulling, no longer restraining. Three sets of sobs – yours, and the two women on either side. The Yama has no remorse.

“… Eiiiiikiiiiii… wait… wait a minute…” “… Yamaxan… this… is…” Their fingers brush over your own upturned hands. Support. They’re looking for it. You’re looking for it. You –

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

CHOOSE YOUR ANCHOR IN THE STORM

[ ] Take the hand on your left. When a spirit of death itself is on its back foot, something’s terribly wrong.

[ ] Take the hand on your right. It’s simply not right for a shikigami that powerful to be floored.

[ ] Take both hands. You need as much help as you can get – both you and the two spirits.

[ ] Take no hands. Only you can be your own anchor.

[ ] Take the Yama’s hand. You have very, very, very long arms and you want to break her fingers.

It is with great regret that I must inform you that my spring break is now over, and we are returning to our original weekly schedule. As much as I’d like a few times a week or even daily, college says no.
>> No. 154407
[X] Take both hands. You need as much help as you can get – both you and the two spirits.

Considering Marcus, I don't think we're a 'Do it alone' kinda guy.
>> No. 154408
[x] Take no hands. Only you can be your own anchor.
>> No. 154409
[x] Forget Reisen. That would just complicate things and make the mission take much longer, allowing for possible Eirin arrival. Follow Aiko’s directions and just stealth your way through to the laboratory and break in. You can be in and out quickly and then just ride the shadows until you’re back out again. They’ll never know who did it.
>> No. 154410
I'd never seen a scary Yama before. Interesting.

[x] Take the hand on your right. It’s simply not right for a shikigami that powerful to be floored.

I have no fucking idea why there's an option to take one hand. But sure, I'll vote for it. Maybe it'll increase his mysterious soulbond with her.
>> No. 154411
[X] Take both hands. You need as much help as you can get – both you and the two spirits.

I'm... not really sure which choice I want. So I'll go with this one.
>> No. 154412
[x]Take both hands.

You're doing a really good job making characters spring to life. Not too many authors said they could'va done that in their first topic.
>> No. 154413
[X] Take both hands. You need as much help as you can get – both you and the two spirits.

I have a feeling that He hitched a ride with us to Gensokyo somehow, and is now doing something to the Yama.
>> No. 154414
>>154409
I believe you're in the wrong thread bro.
>> No. 154415
>>154413
I think it's just the Judge of the Dead acting her part. You can't be too merciful with a job like that.
>> No. 154416
[x] Take both hands. You need as much help as you can get – both you and the two spirits.
>> No. 154417
[X] Take both hands. You need as much help as you can get – both you and the two spirits.

HAREM ROUTE!
But seriously - The way his life is (was?) going, I think he'll need all the emotional support he can get to get through all of it again.
>> No. 154419
[x] Take both hands. You need as much help as you can get – both you and the two spirits.
>> No. 154420
[ ] Take no hands. Only you can be your own anchor.
>> No. 154421
[x] Take the hand on your right. It’s simply not right for a shikigami that powerful to be floored.
>> No. 154422
[ ] Take the Yama’s hand. You have very, very, very long arms and you want to break her fingers.
>> No. 154424
[x] Take the hand on your right. It’s simply not right for a shikigami that powerful to be floored.

I want to continue the love ballad.
>> No. 154427
[x] Take the tail on your right. It feel so good.

[X] Take both hands. You need as much help as you can get – both you and the two spirits.

Ran isn't a spirit though.
>> No. 154428
Actually, she said she was on the boat ride. I wonder if Yuuka and Rumia would count as spirits in this classification.
>> No. 154430
>>154428
He might be using it as a substitute for youkai. It's not a bad translation, really.
>> No. 154431
>>154430
Or because the main character doesn't know the word youkai yet.
>> No. 154432
>>154428
Oh yeah, so she did.
>> No. 154433
[X] Take both hands. You need as much help as you can get – both you and the two spirits.

I have to admit I almost went for holding Ran's hand only, but I suppose that while Komachi did jump straight to accusations of treachery, she doesn't quite deserve to suffer alone while getting mindscrewed by our horrible past. I don't think Sorcanon is that vindictive over a comparatively small slight.

I wonder if Eiki is going to apologize for this? I can totally see Sorcanon trying to punch her face in once his bindings are dropped. I'm also pretty sure it just gets worse from here. Probably a few more years of futile battles, followed by the 3+ centuries of preparation.

Hey Balistafreak, can we get a number on how long Sorcanon was in the demiplane, and how long it was from the betrayal to entering the demiplane?
>> No. 154435
File 133153325656.jpg - (573.09KB , 1791x1214 , Purgatory.jpg ) [iqdb]
154435
>>154433

Intentionally not addressing some of what you say for dramatic effect, but I will address a little of it.

>Sorcanon

Just for the record, for better or worse, your name is Sai Kawara, for now. Maybe you'll find a reason to change it later...

>I'm also pretty sure it just gets worse from here. Probably a few more years of futile battles, followed by the 3+ centuries of preparation.

Going to have to say: ahahahaha, no, I like there being actual action and interaction in a story. Your bunkered past is good for an introduction and background, but I'll be fucked if that becomes the new story I have to write now.

>Hey Balistafreak, can we get a number on how long Sorcanon was in the demiplane, and how long it was from the betrayal to entering the demiplane?

Eh, well, I was going to wait on the update, but it's awkward to thread exact numbers in (Sai's not going to have kept an exact count of the years) so I might as well spill it now if you're curious.

Going by my notes, you were betrayed around the age of fifteen. It took him about two weeks for Him to force you to the demiplane (scene pending), and about two and a half years main Plane time for Him to reach the Ascension. Time compression being day of Plane time: year of demiplane time, that means that you spent... slightly more than nine hundred years preparing in the demiplane.

Holy shit, I never bothered doing the math. I knew it was long, but...
Well, I did say that Komachi was closer than she would ever think when she dismissed you as not being the ghost of a child.
And your struggles certainly fit those of a child doomed to Sai no Kawara, constantly struggling for salvation...
Is Marcus a remixed Jizo Bosatsu?
But the two of you were bad enough dudes to punch Datsueba out and assimilate her!
... and then condemned yourself again on purpose.
Yet what's going on now?
dohohohohohohoho
>> No. 154436
File 133157108367.jpg - (118.00KB , 400x560 , necktentacles_job_well_done.jpg ) [iqdb]
154436
Oh hell, I should have started reading this earlier. Time to grow the neckbeard back in.

---Recap---

> Ritual of Crucimigration
Yep, necropolitan. The interesting thing is, it actually involves crucifixion as part of the ritual. We're anti-hero Jesus.

> List of choices, correspond to Bo9S base classes in alphebetical order, last one chosen
> Blade magic displayed
Warblade. Intelligence-based initiator class; swordsage is wisdom and crusader is charisma (and faith).

> Level 17
I'll just hold on to this.

---BEARD-TIME---

> Warblade initiating
Time Stands Still is a 9th level maneuver, meaning we cannot miss a single level of Warblade advancement to be able to take it in 17 levels. Unless there is a feat that boosts your initiator level like Practiced Spellcasting does for spells, this means we're dealing with a Gestalt character. If such a feat has escaped my notice, a dual-progression PRC paired with a fast-track arcane casting PRC might also get the job done, but the mechanics for the applicable PRCs do not apply here (we are not a singing, green phoenix-man), so I'm going to stick with gestalt.

> (effectively) Infinite spell DCs/Spell Slots
> Taint as a resource as a key plot point
Both He and Sai are Tainted Scholars. They use corruption and depravity (read: Taint) instead of mental attributes to determine bonus spell slots and spell DCs. The class provides some resistance to the negative effects of taint by itself, but since Sai is undead there is no downside at all. Each spell cast has a chance to generate additional taint. WotC didn't think this one all the way through.

>Sorcanon
>Not Battle Sorcerer
>Traded in familiar for item

My knee-jerk reaction was Beguiler, but its spell list is too narrow. Unearthed Arcana to the rescue: generic spellcaster. "A spellcaster learns and casts spells as a sorcerer. She may select her spells known from the cleric, druid, and sorcerer/wizard spell lists." That second bit is important, because it lets Sai snag Spark of Life off the cleric list at circle 3. Usually this is a debuffing spell to put living weakness in unflinching undeath, but it accomplishes this by reinstating the undead's original metabolism so it works for disguise purposes too. With access to the three biggest spell lists in the game, the weaknesses are easily covered over by more magic.

Unearthed Arcana also has the Item Familiar feat. Any permanent magic item, that the character is proficient with and has a price of at least 2000g qualifies. While their candidacy for "magic item" status is questionable at best (they are repeatedly stated to not be magic items, but always appear in the 'magic items' section of any book they are included in), grafts are items that provide magical effects which aren't affected by antimagic zones, are always permanent, are expensive, and are spiritually attached to their owner. Grafts remain when their owner is resurrected. Item familiars gain power as their owners do, and can be improved via normal enchanting as well: separately. Making artifact-level items is stupid-easy in this fashion.

If that "not a magic item" is getting you down, you can throw caution to the wind and enchant the graft before attaching it, since it isn't magical yet, nor alive. Craft Wondrous Item is incredibly vague! I cite Hand of Glory as a precedent for enchanting non-magical, severed limbs. Also, grafts do not have to be made of flesh; Maug grafts are stone, for example.

SO

>You know that He’s already reached the ninth and final circle while you’re still puttering around on the seventh
Sai: Gestalt Generic Spellcaster 14/Tainted Scholar 3 || Warblade 17

He was probably a wizard base, considering his comparatively rapid completion of spell circles. If he was careful, he could have started on Tainted Scholar as early as 6th level, but there isn't enough information to say for sure. In any case, you only need one level for the taint hacks to kick in.

-------------------------------

[x] Take the hand on your right. It’s simply not right for a shikigami that powerful to be floored.

Yeah, I'm, uh, going to go outside now.
>> No. 154448
[x] Take the Yama’s hand. You have very, very, very long arms and you want to break her fingers.

It's not aimless tidepissing. It's tidepissing with the goal in mind of giving the judge of the dead a fuck-you speech while Sai's history continues playing out in the background and shows that he's actually got decent karma.
>> No. 154452
[x] Take the Yama’s hand. You have very, very, very long arms and you want to break her fingers.
That is a good goal
>> No. 154453
[x] Take the Yama’s hand. You have very, very, very long arms and you want to break her fingers.

THis is an amusing option.
>> No. 154456
[X] Take both hands. You need as much help as you can get – both you and the two spirits.

Guys, don't vote for the joke option. He'll stop including them.
>> No. 154457
>>154456

Is it still a joke vote if receives serious support and/or wins?
>> No. 154459
[X] Take both hands. You need as much help as you can get – both you and the two spirits.

>>154457
Yes.
>> No. 154473
How is it a joke vote?
>> No. 154479
>>154473
Let's see. It's in spoilers, and it's funny but completely impossible.
>> No. 154481
>>154479

If that's so, then it will most certianly be ignored in favor of the non-joke votes. Balistafreak has stated he will use Writer's powers to veto wierd votes, so no problem in a joke vote winning either.
>> No. 154482
An illusionist with a magic shield thingy might be able to carry out the vote literally. Or the intent behind the vote, wanting to hurt Shiki, could be taken into account.

But it didn't win, so who cares.
>> No. 154492
>>154481
You know, when you mention things that aren't in the thread, you should say where and include a link if possible. Here you go though: >>/blue/7404.

As for what harm it does, I direct you to >>154456. I chuckled when I read the joke vote and would prefer he not stop including them.

Finally, it's usually I before E, but weird is weird and does not follow the common rhyme.
>> No. 154493
>>154492
>You know, when you mention things that aren't in the thread, you should say where and include a link if possible

Then please, tell me, where did he state he will stop including joke votes? Because I haven't found such statement on the thread it should be in.
>> No. 154495
>>154493
Touché.

And I don't mean that ironically or anything. You did point out a valid hole in my logic.
>> No. 154499
File 133179030692.jpg - (205.96KB , 850x981 , Shiki on the Throne.jpg ) [iqdb]
154499
Just poking my head in. I figured I should stop a potential thread-shitting before it happens - although I must say that I appreciate the civility here, and that I don't consider what just happened to be thread-shitting at all, but rather enlightened conversation. Love you guys in a totally non-homoerotic way~

>>154457

Yes. It is a joke vote, and will never become a 'main decision'.

Now, here's where I muddy the waters. While joke votes are joke votes - and while voters like >>154453 will be flat out ignored (I'm not going to do something just because 'it's silly'), a voter like >>154448 who raises a point will be noted, and the discussion appreciated. You just might make me see something I didn't think about before.

In the incoming update, you will be understandably harsh to the Yama. Whether or not this is a change from the original notes is an author's secret~

As for the main vote... along with future votes (as long as I stick to this update schedule), it will officially be called Thursday night. Yes, I know anyone who can do math could just call it already, but I like the feeling of not calling the vote until I know I can start writing in earnest.

An update will be up Friday night or Saturday afternoon, depending on the strength of my fey moods.

Pic related to last update, just because I wanted to use it but didn't get a chance earlier.
>> No. 154506
[x] Take the hand on your right. It’s simply not right for a shikigami that powerful to be floored.
>> No. 154507
[x] Take the hand on your right. It’s simply not right for a shikigami that powerful to be floored.

I already voted, but it was for the joke vote. I'm not gonna delete it, since it may be simply ignored, but support the idea of being aggressive with Eiki. Not that I believe it's gonna help Sai in any way, but because he has the right to.

Now I'm voting for real, to side with Ran. He has a bigger connection with Ran, and Komachi can deal with Eiki on her own (or be dealt with by Eiki) since they've probably been together for millenia now.

It's also thanks to Ran that Sai is here right now, and not banished into the river again. He actually has a debt to Ran, and not to Komachi.
>> No. 154515
File 133185462514.jpg - (211.51KB , 770x577 , Sailor Ran Omake.jpg ) [iqdb]
154515
And it's Thursday night, so just as I promised...

Vote called. Pic completely unrelated. Writing now. Please wait warmly~
>> No. 154548
File 133203269998.jpg - (59.79KB , 500x367 , Hands.jpg ) [iqdb]
154548
RESULTS

[X] Take both hands. You need as much help as you can get – both you and the two spirits.

Not going to lie, this went without a full proofreading, only a cursory one. I'm a busy student~

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Fingers. Yours are smooth, like a baby’s, as if freshly reborn. Another’s fingers, cracked and roughened, scrabble over your left palm, while yet another’s softer touch traces the back of your right hand. Without a moment’s hesitation, you fan out your fingers and shift slightly, weaving the two women’s hands into your grasp.

And suddenly, everything seems… less dire.

Surprisingly, the Yama has no response as you heave yourself out of your seat – no enchantment seizes your limbs, no overwhelming force knocks you back unconscious. Tottering forward in an awkward stoop as the shinigami and shikigami rise from the floor, you note that sweat has soaked through into the upholstery – your pants wetly cling to your legs in that uncomfortable way you remember from your faraway youth, from playing in the rain and leaping into streams. You’re not sure how you feel about the return of your sense of touch, as ironic as that sounds, but for now, you concentrate on blocking it all out, save for the two spots of warmth in your grasp.

Warmth. The touch of another. Your master’s hand on your brow as she sung you to sleep, her embrace as she congratulated you or consoled you… you’d pushed such soft thoughts out of your mind for so long – but after living through those years again, you can’t help but yearn for them again.

Like a trio of drunks, you end up leaning on each other to stay upright, knees weak with your tentative consciousness, only recently regained after the end of the last episode. Komachi and Ran crush you between them as they approach each other, reaching out to link hands between the two of them yet again. Some part of your mind notes with some humor that your combined hands and inward-facing positions are a classic setup for ritualistic circle magic, although the standard position, a dignified equilibrium triangle, has collapsed into a line-shaped huddle.

The two spirits don’t know how to do circle magic, of course –

– no, wait, they do.

And as for acting said circle magic out… your innate magic is back, arcane energies flowing through your body once more. It’s not the inexhaustible Taint-fueled force it was, but you feel you can still work at least a half dozen spells of each circle, exactly your level of power before you underwent the Ritual of Crucimigration to preserve your body. Your aurasight is alight with a thousand different colors; Higan is covered in not only flowers but also with magic. Looking to your left, you realize only now fully appreciate just how powerful Komachi is as a shinigami. You already knew Ran’s aura, and you don’t even dare examine the Yama knowing her status, but Komachi’s is new to you: a tranquil, relaxed air of power, perpetually untroubled, yet deep and wide as the river she traverses.

Without warning, your mind gracelessly crashes against those of the spirits. Yet like your hands, the intimacy is not rebuked, but rather welcomed, threads of thought tangling themselves together. It’s different than the formal contract that once existed between you and the shikigami – instead of distinct packets of thought to be taken and analyzed at will, it’s a continuous stream of thought that’s difficult to separate yourself from, a single river fed from three springs.

Despite being so unified, parts of the torrent leap out, eddies and whirlpools with their own meanings. I – well damn. Ran, how much did ya understand from that?

… more than I had expected. A trial is not supposed to be so direct with spectators, is it?

I’ve watched trials before, and this is nothing like I’ve seen before. It’s always like watching a show, close but not involving you… not like this.

His memories are in my consciousness, as if they were my own now.

Same. Oh, this is strange.

I’m… afraid to examine them.

Same.

Well, you’d be terrified of your own past, if you hadn’t spent those same years coming to terms with them.

Sai?

Sai…

A fitting name, is it not, for someone who worked to undo sins?

Hmph. I’ll cede the point for now, but I’m not happy about this, still!

… I’m sorry that you have to go through this mess.

No apology needed; you’re all suffering together. What’s coming is going to be worse in its own way – but you’re sure the three of you can withstand together.

Can we? How so?

I’d really like to not relive your past as vividly as before, no offense intended. Especially not if its worse.

Digging into your memory, both from an eternity ago and the recent recap, you unfold a month’s worth of lessons and practice. It doesn’t even have to flow through the connection before it appears twice again from the spirits’ minds, the mental nudge enough to stimulate an involuntary recollection.

I get it!

I understand.

Then –

“There will be no respite this time!” the Yama roars, loud as a hundred dire lions, interrupting your mental exchange. The mirror swirls again, and a sudden tidal wave flows over your river of thought –

over. For now the river has frozen, as if it were winter, a layer of solid ice keeping your own fluid thoughts distinct and separate from the flashback. While your minds may be safe from the mirror’s influence, though, images still whirl past the mirror, too fast for your own eyes to recognize or make sense of, but it seems the spirits can still pick the occasional detail out. They really shouldn’t be trying, though –

Why not? Komachi’s thoughts huff with disapproval. I always pick the brains of those I take on my ferry, but I couldn’t with ya. This is only fair, ya know.

Is it wrong to want to understand you?

No. Just please, don’t. Centuries of training, of subjecting your body to horrible things for the sake of power – while you don’t regret a moment of it, as they allowed you to stop Him, there’s no need to dwell on the past.

I disagree. Understanding the past is the key to not repeating it. And you don’t want His actions to be repeated anywhere else… would you?

But still, you don’t want anyone to have to relive what you went through again.

You are too kind, but this is something I must do.

Fine. You’ll be here to catch them if they get swept off their feet, then.

Appreciate the concern, if not the lack of confidence.

For a few minutes, you simply rest, closing your eyes and emptying your mind. You still have no interest in reliving any of what you experienced – your already existing memories are more than enough for you. What little Ran and Komachi can pick out from the mirrors brushes up against your own thoughts, but you ignore it, preferring to keep yourself as uninvolved as possible.
>> No. 154549
File 133203290278.jpg - (399.24KB , 654x1000 , Mirror Art.jpg ) [iqdb]
154549
But eventually, a feeling of surprise in the mental link drags you back into the present –

Uh, what is that?

– for in the middle of the mirror, resisting the swirling colors, is your own face, looking extremely annoyed.

“You do not belong here,” the Yama imperiously proclaims, slowly sweeping her rod in the air in front of her to indicate the world at large. “You are nothing but this defendant’s memory. Begone.”

Impossibly, the mirror speaks out of turn. “You underestimate my power. You shouldn’t have made me go through that – and your own servant, and a guest. Rude of you.”

How? That’s not a memory playing on the mirror, but conscious mind.

It’s challenging Eiki! It doesn’t know what it’s getting into –

You have sinking feeling that it knows exactly what it’s getting into.

If the Yama’s surprised at this turn of events, she doesn’t reveal it. “My decisions are my own. Begone!” she cries, bashing the mirror with her cudgel –

– who turns the blow aside with a sweep of his arm, stepping out of the mirror and into space itself.

This is irregular.

No shit.

The Yama brings her other arm to bear, pointing directly at the apparition. Your aurasight distorts for a brief second as she prepares to blast the image with unbelievable force –

“Stop that.”

The energy simply disappears as a distinct lack of energy washes over her, originating from your image. Such a display is far more terrifying than even the Yama. What could negate the power of a judge of the dead?

… it’s… you…

Yes. So it is. The you who Ascended, with an unfathomable amount of power at your disposal, somehow summoned into existence again.

“I could have just blocked that,” it sighs, “but I figure the risk of collateral damage was too high. I still have a sense of self-preservation, after all – and we seem to have made some new friends.” It looks at you, still entangled with the two spirits, and you flush suddenly, realizing what such a sight might look like in a completely different context.

The Yama’s cool seems to be collapsing, sweat beading on her brow as her face scrunches up. There’s no effect, but you get the impression that she’s trying to do something past your image’s work. Nothing happens – she bolts upright out of her chair, then violently swipes an arm towards it, slowly turning red in the face. Again, nothing happens.

“Let me save you the trouble of trying,” your image exhales, waving a hand. Instantly, the Yama’s expression goes blank as she begins sinking to the ground, knees slowly giving out from underneath her.

“Eiki!” Komachi cries as she breaks free of the circle, rushing towards her superior – the unified threads of thought end, and you and Ran release each other’s hands as if burned, the sudden severance coming as a painful shock. As the two of you exchange awkward glances, as if wondering who dared to let go first, the red-haired shinigami manages to catch the Yama right before her upper body crashes against the ground. “What have you done with her?” she spits.

“Just what she was trying to do to me earlier – quieted the mind for a few minutes,” your projection says. You don’t doubt it – it’s exactly what you would have done. Deep inside, you can’t help but feel pleased with yourself; there’s no Taint in the projection’s aura at all. Taint is only the source of the power, not the power itself. As long as this other you only uses that power, as opposed to the Taint itself, then the other you hasn’t been tempted into decadence – at least, not yet. “She’ll wake up with a bit of a headache and no small amount of indigence, but she’s unharmed.”

“So what’s with you?” you ask, unable to contain your curiosity. “You’re just my mind – just my mind, without my soul, without consciousness. You should be unable to act,” you instinctively argue. “So say the theories of a hundred archmages.”

“The theory is there,” your mind concedes, “but the proof is… you, consciously attempting to use logic and contradict me. Clearly, you have your mind back.”

“But how are you still able to think, then, if I have the mind?” you fire right back.

Your image’s face falls. “About that. You see…” It gestures in space, producing a silent image of two orbs with a string connecting them.

In a single second you comprehend, but Ran speaks up before you, having digested the information even faster. “That one is your Plane… or rather, the entirety of you, after the Ascension,” she ventures, “and that is Gensokyo. That is a connection point. A potential route for the soul to reconnect with the mind?” Her face hardens. “In all my patrols of Gensokyo’s border, I haven’t noticed such a thread. Have you been hiding something?”

“Have more faith in your abilities, shikigami,” your projection gently chides her. She recoils slightly from that, ears flicking backward underneath her cap. “That connection didn’t exist until a minute ago; the Yama created it with that mirror of hers, however unintentionally. A powerful artifact – it made the connection on its own, just so it could scour our mind more clearly. It is having, as you see me here talking to you, a completely unintended side effect.”

“But… that still doesn’t make any sense,” Ran continues. “Sai was only able to be judged here in Higan because I… sensed his consciousness earlier. Explain that discrepancy.”

Your projection chuckles. “I’ve had a lot of time to think about this – “

“You think?” you interject. “But – “

“I am without new motivation, yes, but I am still able to reason.”

That makes absolutely no sense. “What,” you say flatly.

“Think of a mindless skeleton. We declare it to be without a consciousness, and yet it can follow simple orders. Dig a hole. Stack bricks. Haul cargo. With a little more power, it can be made to fight – attack and block, defend itself. Extrapolate that. A lot of power, and near-sentience can be acquired. The only thing missing is original motivation.”

Realization dawns. “And I… remember… ordering myself.”

With a nod, it continues. “To be specific, it was worded ‘remove all evidence that He ever existed.’ A rather tall order, but just as commanded, I’ve been looking for a way to do so. Now, firstly, that would mean scrubbing the mana that was once the Plane clean of all Taint.”

Your heart leaps into your throat with hope. “You can do that?”

The other you looks proud of himself – yourself? “Well, not yet,” the projection admits, shamefully hanging its head. “Anyways – why I seem to be here now. My conjecture is that it’s from the contract we once had. Even after being broken… the patterns of our mind are still familiar to you.”

Ran looks unconvinced. “That still doesn’t explain how his soul, here in Gensokyo, regained his mind in the first place.”

Sighing, your projection points at Ran. Specifically, her head. “What I’m going to say is going to sound so far-fetched, you’re not going to like it.”

Ran stares at the finger, biting her lip, then straightens her back while tucking her hands into her sleeves in a habitual action, one clearly meant to give herself confidence.

“Through the duration contract, our minds were bound to each other. However unconsciously, you became familiar with my thought patterns. Now…” Your projection affects a cough, even though you know it doesn’t need to. “Someone with your own brainpower would be capable of assembling a facsimile of a thinking mind from this familiarity, which, combined with the soul, would be basically identical. It would take quite a bit of work, though – hours of concentrated thought every day, unconscious consideration at night…” it trails off.

For a few seconds, there’s no sound but the swishing of Ran’s tails, back and forth in unison as she stares at your projection. Komachi is the first to break the silence. “… so, she’s been thinking about him and dreaming about him all these years?” Komachi drawls, adding a shaky laugh at the end.

Fwip. “I have not been daydreaming like some maiden,” she hisses, her tails snapping together in umbrage.

“Ran, I’ve known ya for a long time – you’ve never had a lover, have you? You could be considered a maiden – “

Not. Related. A mental exercise, an attempt to understand the reason why I went through what I did – the reason Gensokyo has the immigrants it does now. Nothing more personal than that.” Fwip. Fwip. Fwip. The sound of whipping tails fills the next few seconds of silence, as Komachi leers, Ran seethes, and the two yous look and feel extremely uncomfortable.

“… well! In any case!” your projection declares, trying to smooth over the proceedings. “The Yama here will wake up any minute – and I really should get back to work.”

“You can’t stay?” you ask. You know that the presence of the Ascended you – You? – will be possibly disturbing, but another part of you is uncomfortable at him so abruptly leaving. There’s so much you might be able to learn about what he has – you have? – been doing for the past two years.

“It’d be best if I was completely gone before she wakes up – and I’m not about to knock her out again. Not sportsmanlike. I’d rather abscond with our dignity intact.” You give your projection a flat look of disapproval – you weren’t aware you had such a sense of humor. “I can port you to anywhere you’d like, if one of the natives will give me some mental coordinates.”

“I would if I were you,” Komachi ventures. “I’ve seen Eiki when she’s angry. Not a pretty sight. I can try and pacify her in the meantime. I’m sure she’ll understand eventually, but for now… she may be a bit angry.” She looks a bit uncomfortable, but she seems sincere about it. Perhaps seeing your past – well, at least before you began preparing against Him – seems to have won her over to your side.

“I must say I agree,” Ran says, still agitated. “I believe it would be best to retire to – somewhere else, before we face the Yama’s ire.”

Still, though, there’s a case to make for staying here and facing the music, if only to clear your conscience about the whole issue.

You…

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

CHOOSE YOUR VERDICT

[ ] … are guilty by association of assault on the judge. It’ll be better to smooth things over here personally, and not heap it on Komachi, even if she does owe you for her earlier remarks.

[ ] … are innocent, having acted in self-defense against unwarranted mental abuses if only by proxy. It’s time to get out of here stalker.
>> No. 154550
[x] … are guilty by association of assault on the judge. It’ll be better to smooth things over here personally, and not heap it on Komachi, even if she does owe you for her earlier remarks.

I rather like this Yama and would prefer to see more of her sooner rather than later.
>> No. 154551
[x] … are guilty by association of assault on the judge. It’ll be better to smooth things over here personally, and not heap it on Komachi, even if she does owe you for her earlier remarks.
>> No. 154552
We just mentally bitch-slapped (literally) a Yama; even if it wasn't exactly our fault, I have a feeling that running away will just piss her off even more.

[x] … are guilty by association of assault on the judge. It’ll be better to smooth things over here personally, and not heap it on Komachi, even if she does owe you for her earlier remarks.
>> No. 154553
[X] … are innocent, having acted in self-defense against unwarranted mental abuses if only by proxy. It’s time to get out of here stalker.

Honor is nice, but I'd rather not get cudgeled.
>> No. 154555
File 133204452191.jpg - (428.27KB , 867x1227 , 52659ca0b064814a75d9e12003f99f6b.jpg ) [iqdb]
154555
Balista totally gave me permission to post this okay

***************************

Hmm... You mentally thumb the process again, thinking of every step in perfect detail, every little motion you should or will make, and finally, the end result. However, the weight of reality drags your thoughts away again. You are missing several required items, not to mention some strength owing to your condition. Ever since you landed in this country known as 'Gensokyo', you have been quite bereft of resources, owing mostly to the fact you hadn't willingly traveled here. Had you, you would've brought an entire chest worth of alchemical and magical ingredients. As it was, however, you had no such luxury.

"Still working on that, huh?"

A voice surprises you from the door. It is not difficult to place. The tone, the gentle stress of syllables evident even through your tongues spell, even her mannerism of entering without knocking clearly identifies it as the Yakumo shikigami, Ran Yakumo. She has grown quite close to you in recent times, and you suppose she feels no shame in barging in, even if the door was closed. You had closed it, yes. You remember quite clearly. Back on your plane, that meant you were not to be disturbed. You suppose there might not be such a custom here. You shall not hold it against her. Ignorance is no crime.

"Yes."

You briefly explain, motioning your hand to elaborate on some magical symbols that are not yet present in the magical circle inscribed in the floor. As if speaking to her is merely another portion of the ritual, you start over from the beginning, listing the processes you had achieved thus far and the required incantations, ingredients, and energy that would be required for the rest. Finally when you reach the ingredient you are stuck on now, you deliberate the substitutes you had tried and used and hope are working properly for what you have accomplished thus far, because if the beginning is faulty, there is no point in trying so hard at this point as the spell would already be bust. All this you spoke of, perhaps forgetting she is even there as you play with ideas in your head, trying to mix and match spells for various components.

“Would this help?”

Ran asks, clearly showing one of her magical tails of the Kitsune through the doorway. It did not even occur to you that Ran herself is a magical being, and thus a source of not only magic, but also fulfilling the required reagent of fox pelt. The answer was staring you in the face the whole time, and you mentally chastise yourself for your own foolishness. However, what was important now was getting a good sample.

“Eh- What… Why are you looking at me like that?”

She says as your hand reaches for the shears amongst a pile of tools you had dumped on the floor and mostly forgotten about.

“Look, I just need a little bit."

You say, watching her eyes go wide. She’s preparing to flee. You’ll have to act quickly. You reposition from a cross-legged position to sitting on your heels as both of you stare each other down. You mustn’t move too quick or she’ll-

Break for it! You leap up after her, crashing through the flimsy cloth door as she runs yelling through the corridors of the Yakumo household. You chase after her, yelling at her in an attempt to get her to reverse course, stop, or at least slow down. She does not, however, listen, instead preferring to glance back at you in terror as she rampages through another room with you in hot pursuit. You continue yelling during your pursuit, getting steadily more excited and seemingly even more terrifying to her as she keeps glancing back.

You yell again, and she glances back again only to completely miss a table, running into it and going tumbling over into the next room. You take a leap over the table, landing directly over her, shears ready. She screeches, trying to throw you off, but you are too strong and too quick for her. You pin her lower back and turn your attention to the tails only to get face-full of them. A delicious, wonderful thrashing of tails. They whip at your face, barely brushing and tickling and teasing with their incredibly soft texture as warm as a person. You lose yourself for a moment as they flick themselves to and fro across you, a relaxing and calming feeling akin to a massage.

You’re interrupted by the door sliding open, Yukari Yakumo standing there in her full nightgown, toothbrush in mouth as she relishes her hygiene.

Yukariiii-samaaaaaaa!

Ran cries, trying to crawl away from you using her arms. You pin her down again as she looks up at her master with puppy dog eyes. Yukari takes half a second to look at the scene, then closes the door again. Ran hangs her head and resolves herself to her fate.
You reach up and pat her on her head, through her hat and in between her inhuman ears.

“Well then, be a good girl and stay still, okay?”

She reluctantly complies, spreading out across the floor and having her tails stick completely in the air. As big as they look firmly planted to her backside, they look even bigger fully fluffed out in the air. You can’t help but run a hand along the one closest to you all the way down to its base. You gently rub the base of it, enthralled with the feel. It takes you a moment to realize that the base of her tail is, at best, an inch away from her ass. As soon as you realize that, you quickly remove your hand, concentrating on the task at hand. She does not seem to have minded at all, though, letting out a content sigh as she rolls her head around on her arms while she lays on her belly. You question the possibilities.

Thinking you should get on with the pruning, you reach over and inspect her magnificently golden tails. Nine separate peaks, nine separate choices. You can’t see the ones on the far side of her, though, and you lean more and more over her bundle of tails to try and get a good look. Eventually, you slip and catch yourself in her tails, propping yourself up with one of your arms. One of your arms that you can’t see among the mass of hair, but can certainly feel. Oh, yes, you can feel…

Ran croons as you fumble for a firm handhold amongst her tails, kneading some soft fold of skin or tail as you fumble through her tails, looking for the last one. You again find yourself intoxicated by the feel of her tails as you sort them, pushing all the ones you examined already to the side. Each one softer than the last, your hands fumble as you push the eighth one out of the way. You finally grasp the last one, turning it over as you inspect the sheening mass of fur. Gently, you pry it apart and inspect the individual strands for any imperfections or frayed ends. None are found, almost tick-for-tac like the entire structure. Almost incredibly, you think each and every one of her tails is in perfect order, perhaps suitable for magical ingredients in their own right. You can think of a few other things they might be useful for, as well…

“Did you get itttt?”

Ran quips, rolling her syllables and sounding all the world like she was enjoying it. You shake your head and quickly return to the task at hand. Retrieving the shears, you size up one of her tails and gently trim an inch off the very end. You place it in a pouch at your waist and roll backwards, off the indelibly silky pile of fur. Ran yawns and stretches, curling up and bringing her tails up to her own face. She boredly inspects her tails, fluffing out the end of the one you snipped. Finally she finishes and relinquishes her tails, the lot straying out behind her, across the floor.

“I am a super intelligent otherworldly being, you know.”

She interjects as you prepare to leave. You’re perplexed by what she’s trying to get at.

“What exactly do you mean?”

“I am just saying. Maybe the uh… spell won’t work. You might want a second set of ingredients, huh? Just… in case?”

Yeah. You think it just might fail. Oh, it just might…
>> No. 154559
File 13320553147.jpg - (26.44KB , 744x481 , Sup Dawg.jpg ) [iqdb]
154559
>>154555

Pic related.

Yes, I did give permission, because nothing's more flattering than a fanfic of your own fanfic. I don't think I've said this already: wow, thanks a lot, thank you kindly, thank you, your children, your children's children - okay, I'll stop gushing now.

In return, I'll show off the piece that Treia demanded I write (and incidentally delayed the last update by a few hours), the piece that inspired him to write the above.

Despite what the title says, neither of these tales are canon.

Yet.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“Ran,” you say, just loudly enough to get her attention as you try to slip by the shikigami. The tiny, aisle-like kitchen is only wide enough to let one person work comfortably in, to say nothing about one person with a large volume of tails behind her. Of course, only now do you need the astral diamond you tucked into the drawer under the sink to her right: a task you realize is near-impossible.

And of course, she would have to have enough intellect to be preparing the lemon curd at this time in the afternoon, anticipating its need of refrigeration to have the dessert ready by dinner, stirring the eggs-and-juice dish furiously over low heat to keep its consistency smooth while it cooks ever so slowly. There’s no way you’re asking her to walk out of the kitchen long enough for you to get in – the dish will be ruined, clumping irreversibly and ruining its sinfully silky texture in that little time. But the arcane lock you put on the drawer will only respond to your touch, so you can’t even ask her to go get it while you take over the stirring.

Despite her focus on keeping the sides of the glass bowl scraped clean of the slow-cooking batter, she still manages to spare you a embarrassed glance. “Oh – just – you’re in a hurry, I understand – just squeeze on by, we can be mature about this,” she mutters in a low voice – almost as if she were talking to herself. As she presses her body against the front of the stove as closely as possible, leaning her torso over the top, her tails bend up towards her head and forward as if hugging her own body, opening up a few spare inches behind her.

“Then – excuse me.” With a sigh, you avert your eyes and align your body with the back wall and start sidling through. Even with your head turned to the side, you still end up with a faceful of tails. The texture of her fur against your skin is surprisingly luxurious – yes, you’ve seen her spend spare hours doing nothing more than painstakingly groom each of the nine appendages until they’re sleek and smooth, and surely the chest of cosmetics in the bathhouse includes some amount of conditioning substances – but this is the first time you’ve touched the trademark feature of her race. And they’re soft – so soft, even softer than the enchanted furs from your childhood times. Your bed may have been comfortable, but it never came already warm, and your bed wasn’t alive, sliding gently against your body with soft caresses until both of you are comfortable with the position, and it never smelled so sweet

– it then occurs to you that you’ve been standing behind her for gods know how long, and that the rasp of the spatula against the bowl has stopped

– the sound resumes right as you cough and roughly push past the remaining tails into the empty space to Ran’s right. You steal a sideways look at her as you kneel down to access the locked drawer, noting that her face is just as red as yours feels, her ears pressed flat against her head underneath her cap in embarrassment, eyes tightly squeezed shut. They flicker open just as you cast your eyes back downward at the drawer, hoping she didn’t catch you staring at her.

You don’t linger as you slip back out, sliding through the tails without pause this time, but neither of you apologize before you hastily exit the kitchen and set off towards the village.

Neither of you answer when Chen asks why the two of you are being so silent at dinner that evening.

Neither of you comment about the lack of lemon curd for dessert either.
>> No. 154560
[ ] … are innocent, having acted in self-defense against unwarranted mental abuses if only by proxy. It’s time to get out of here.

Is the stalker bit a real part of the vote? Because if so, then include it in, please.
>> No. 154561
[ ] … are innocent, having acted in self-defense against unwarranted mental abuses if only by proxy. It’s time to get out of here.

Is voting still open? If not, then disregard me.
>> No. 154562
[x] … are guilty by association of assault on the judge. It’ll be better to smooth things over here personally, and not heap it on Komachi, even if she does owe you for her earlier remarks.
>> No. 154563
[ ] … are innocent, having acted in self-defense against unwarranted mental abuses if only by proxy. It’s time to get out of here stalker.
>> No. 154564
[x] … are guilty by association of assault on the judge. It’ll be better to smooth things over here personally, and not heap it on Komachi, even if she does owe you for her earlier remarks.

We do have two experienced touhous telling us to leave. Which is a valid enough reason. Maybe we can leave a note or something.

Also we probably should ask otherself if he's planning on murdering everybody who's ever heard of Him.

That explanation for the mind is a bit of a stretch, but I'd probably accept it even if it wasn't necessary for the story to take place.
>> No. 154565
>>154560

>Is the stalker bit a real part of the vote? Because if so, then include it in, please.

It's just a stupid meme.

>>154562

>Is voting still open? If not, then disregard me.

The above side stories are just that - side stories, and not yet canon.

Voting is always open until Thursday night, which is when I have enough time during my week to sit down and write anew.

>>154564

dohohohohohohoho
>> No. 154603
[X] … are innocent, having acted in self-defense against unwarranted mental abuses if only by proxy. It’s time to get out of here stalker.

As much as it'd be right to submit to the punishment, I'd rather wait until the Yama isn't unreasonably pissed off. That and Komachi's used to such temper tantrums.
>> No. 154617
File 133227991573.jpg - (14.37KB , 200x173 , Tie Cutting.jpg ) [iqdb]
154617
We're 5 to 5 for staying and leaving right now.

Pic related as to what I want you guys to vote for, so I don't have to come Thursday.
>> No. 154619
[x] … are innocent, having acted in self-defense against unwarranted mental abuses if only by proxy. It’s time to get out of here stalker.
>> No. 154620
[x] … are guilty by association of assault on the judge. It’ll be better to smooth things over here personally, and not heap it on Komachi, even if she does owe you for her earlier remarks.
Komachi might know how to deal with Eiki, but that doesn't mean we should let her.
>> No. 154622
I don't really care either way as long as we at least leave a note and ask otherself if he's planning to kill everybody, so I'll change my vote in >>154564 to:

[x] Innocent.

And we sorta are, as we started diverging from otherself from the start.
>> No. 154623
[x] … are guilty by association of assault on the judge. It’ll be better to smooth things over here personally, and not heap it on Komachi, even if she does owe you for her earlier remarks.
>> No. 154624
File 133228954176.jpg - (689.49KB , 876x620 , 25921703.jpg ) [iqdb]
154624
Generic accusation of votespamming.
>> No. 154629
I don't give a shit which we do, but seeing somebody continue the tie with probable votespam makes me wish to spite them.

[x] … are innocent, having acted in self-defense against unwarranted mental abuses if only by proxy. It’s time to get out of here
>> No. 154631
I'm pretty sure I haven't voted yet.

[x] … are innocent, having acted in self-defense against unwarranted mental abuses if only by proxy. It’s time to get out of here.
>> No. 154641
[X] … are innocent, having acted in self-defense against unwarranted mental abuses if only by proxy. It’s time to get out of here.

This is not a fair trial, the Judge, who is also the jury and (proverbial if not actual) executioner, has decided before the event even started that he is Evil instead of looking at his life and weighing actions against intentions against results.
While running away tends to be used as a proof of guilt, there is no point in staying to be judged in a kangaroo court either.
Damned if you do, damned if you don't, so might as well hope for the off-chance that Komachi can talk some sense into her.
(Komachi scolding Shikieiki for not doing her job properly. The apocalypse is here!)
>> No. 154649
[X] … are innocent, having acted in self-defense against unwarranted mental abuses if only by proxy. It’s time to get out of here.
>> No. 154655
File 133247830483.jpg - (135.87KB , 850x637 , Hakugyokurou.jpg ) [iqdb]
154655
Vote called. Pic related. Writing now. Please wait warmly~
>> No. 154657
>>154655
>Hakugyokurou

Yes. Hell yes. Hell fucking yes.
>> No. 154742
File 133266506730.jpg - (748.98KB , 800x1079 , Fan Yuyuko Shy Youmu.jpg ) [iqdb]
154742
RESULTS

[X] … are innocent, having acted in self-defense against unwarranted mental abuses if only by proxy. It’s time to get out of here.

Sorry I’m a little late. Women between your sheets tend to be an adequate distraction for an evening originally planned for writing.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

You make your decision based on many factors. First of all, two spirits of unknown but certainly greater power than your current self are telling you to flee, for your own sake. Secondly, you really don’t want to have to go through that again. For all you know, the Yama won’t let Komachi and Ran in on the next “viewing”, and so there’ll be no mind-protecting circle magic to protect you from the violation, a thought that makes you shiver deep inside.

Most importantly, though, you owe this Yama nothing. If wants to judge you, that’s her problem. You know where your morals stand, and that should be good enough for everyone. Let them judge you through your actions, not your past.

After all, isn’t it the future that’s most precious?

“I concur with your opinions,” you inform them, turning a nod into the slight half-bow of affirmation between peers. Truthfully, you’re far outclassed by both of them and ought to be paying deference, but with the super-powered you still present in the room, you decide you may as well establish yourself as high on the social food chain as you dare.

You may have been isolated from normal social interaction for centuries, but that didn’t stop you from studying how people think. That sort of study was necessary in crumbling Ran’s resistance to you, and in anticipating just how He would react. Most would call it mere pseudoscience, unreliable at best, and that’s true – but that doesn’t mean it’s completely without merit.

They nod, then bow to a similar depth in return – success, at least for now. “Then… you.” Ran turns away from you and towards the superpowered you. “Your name?”

“I forgot,” other you replies in a deadpan.

“Jizo Bosatsu,” Komachi declares.

Ran blinks at that. “At first you arevehemently against Sai being named after a place of purgatory, and now you’re naming someone after a deity?” You both give the shinigami a pointed stare of surprise, a response that receives a shrug in return.

“Call me a convert. Ya convinced me you’re not up to no good, and if ya insist on keeping that name ya have right now…” Another shrug. “Might as well name him something related. Ya know. ‘cause the two of ya are.”

Jizo doesn’t share your surprise, only chuckling at your expression. “Well, I have no idea what sounds so formal, but it seems I’ve been granted a great honor. I thank you. Jizo it is.” Just as you did, Jizo spares little thought for the name beyond the convenience it gives others. You are one and the same, after all.

“If only you knew,” Komachi growls. “Don’t make me change my mind.”

“I’ll try not to have any occasion to do so,” he replies lightly.

“Are you sure you’re going to be okay, Komachi?” you ask, somewhat worried. “The Yama didn’t seem particularly… kind.”

“I’ll get back to work – drop her into bed, then head out on my ferry once more, get a head start on the backlog,” she explains. “She’ll not drag me away when I’m working with a passenger, and by the time my shift ends she won’t have cause to punish me.”

Ran suddenly grins. “Komachi, trying to get her work out of the way before the last second? What’s the world coming too?” You presume it’s an inside joke of some kind.

“Hey, when it’s better than the alternative…” the shinigami pouts. “I mean, slacking’s one thing – sticking around for a beating’s another. I’ll give her a pleasant surprise, and she’ll spare me the rod. Simple enough.”

Now skeptical, you ask Komachi, “You seemed awfully familiar with her earlier. Just what is your relationship, anyways?”

“Oh? Yeah, she might be my boss, but…” Her smile’s wide, a strangely honest expression that makes you squirm uncomfortably. “When I’m not working we’re friends. Knock back a few cups together, admire the gardens together – that sort of thing. Work always comes too soon, in my opinion,” she grumbles.

“Now then!” Jizo cuts in, belaying your next question. “A destination? Just think of it, shikigami, and the magic’ll whisk you away.”

Ran scrunches up her face. “I’ll be taking Sai to a friend...”

“Very well!” Your aurasight distorts as an unbelievable amount of magical energy begins gathering, preparing to deft half a dozen natural laws.

“Wait – just a minute!” you call out, thrusting out a hand as you realize something terrifying. The magic remains in the air, although Jizo raises an eyebrow at you. “Just how do you plan on ‘removing all evidence that He ever existed’? There’s a story like that where a guy asked the gods to basically do the same thing, and they did, writing anyone who even so much as lived in the same city – “

“ – and all the people who interacted with them, and with them, and so on, yes, yes, wrote them out of existence altogether,” Jizo finishes. Of course he finishes – you know that he knows how the story goes already, a fable about the sins of suicide. “You think I’ll do that? Let me phrase this for you again, so that you understand our relationship, because it seems that this constructed mind of yours…” He give Ran a significant glance. “… is slower than the original. We are the same, Sai. Would you do such a thing?”

“No, of course not!” you exclaim, offended – but as you see a small smile cross Jizo’s face, you realize you’ve been played like the fool you were.

“Well then – you know my answer.”

You let your eyes narrow. “You know, I had no idea that I was such an a – “

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“ – sshooooooaaaaaaaaaa – bwwubwubwubwubwububububuwub…!”

Five feet of freefall later find yourself underwater yet again, the second time you’ve been subjected to involuntary submersion after waking up. You touch the bottom almost instantly – large, smooth flagstones, a fact which surprises you for a second. Clearly, these were put here on purpose.

It’s when you realize that the water is hot, uncomfortably so, that you realize you’ve been dropped into the middle of a rather large hot spring. A surge of petty annoyance shoots through you towards Jizo – was this intentional, a bit of mischievous revenge for your earlier outburst?

For a second you just let yourself lay at the bottom of the spring, unmoving, staring upwards at the surface that’s still rippling from your dynamic entry. Past the blurs and refracted light, you think you see an inside corner of two walls meeting behind the rocks that line the water’s edge – so you’re inside an enclosure. A pink swath of color confuses you for a second, but as the waves begin to subside you decide it’s a type of flowering tree, given its apparent height. Ran’s nowhere to be seen. At this moment you’re not sure if it’s because she had the luck to not be positioned over the water, simply started hovering as to not fall in like you, or maybe even wasn’t sent at all. With an internal sigh – not an external one, given your environment – you decide you may as well take a moment to recollect yourself and come to terms with the situation as it stands.

You may have a functional set of physical senses, unlike your former undead body, but as you’re still nothing more than what Ran loosely described as ‘a soul with a mind’, you don’t seem to have any physical needs – for example, you don’t need to breathe, which is why you’re relaxing instead of swimming the five or so feet up to the surface.

More cosmically significant is that there are two of you now: Jizo and Sai. Jizo is your original mind – just the mind, without the soul. The old theory that separation of soul and mind would result in mindlessness was only true to a point; it instead seems to have created an impressionable mind, one focused on carrying out your own final order. From his demonstration with the Yama and from the act that put you into the position, Jizo’s taken to using the energy radiating from all the Tainted mana it has at its disposal, just as you did with the Taint laced in your unliving body. You remember being too scared to handle it beforehand, worrying that the taste of potential power might corrupt you… but it seems that over the – what was it again? two years? – Jizo came to terms with it, or at least justified it with his purpose.

You think about it. If you had a way to cleanse the Taint from the mana, then you would – and just as before, realizing that Jizo and you have the exact same origins, memories, and until less than a few hours ago histories is enough to judge the other you with an accuracy the Yama’s mind-wrenching procedure could never hope to have.

Suddenly, a ball of light floats over the water’s now-still surface, illuminating the spring’s bottom and you with it. It brightens and darkens several times, as if to get your attention.

With an inward groan, you find your footing and stand, sending your head and the tops of your shoulders through the surface. As water sheets from your eyes, you catch sight of Ran, arms in her sleeves as always. Beside her are two others: a young woman in a green shirt and vest over a white shirt and a pink-haired older woman in a blue robe. Only adding to your growing sense of unease is that yet again you find yourself in the presence of others who are preposterously powerful – the girl clutches two katanas in an aggressive two-weapon stance that should by all rights leave someone of her size hopelessly unbalanced, to say nothing of the odd will’o’wisp that curls around her body, seemingly of its own volition. Her aura’s strong, stronger than yours, but both of you are still washed out by Ran and the older woman – the second especially.

“Youmu, dear, put your swords away, or do you not trust the words of my friend’s servant?” the older woman practically sings. She’s truthfully only older compared to the teen; cosmetically you’d place her around Ran’s age, but you already know that age and appearance have little to do with each other. In order to make your own case better, strongly desiring not to be disemboweled (even if you don’t have any actual bowels), you slowly lift your hands out of the water, raising your arms high above your head.

The girl in green wavers, but twirls the blades backwards before blindly slipping them into their scabbards in a way that leaves no doubt that she’s practiced the move before – and if she’s any warrior at all, practiced far more than just that sheathing trick. “Lady Yuyuko, this one bypassed all the wards meant to keep out such intruders…”

Classy of you, Jizo. Very classy. Of course breaking through meticulously prepared defenses is a great way to make a first impression. You make a mental note to punch him in the nose the next time you see him; he’d understand, even call it fair.

“So did Lady Ran, but I don’t see you pointing a sword at her, do I?” Yuyuko croons. She says Lady Ran as one might refer to one’s husband as ‘father’ around a child – is that the sort of relationship they have? Hypotheses of adoption and surrogate parenthood float in your head.

“That… that is… Lady Ran is trusted…” the girl wavers, clearly trapped.

“I appreciate your vigilance, though. Thaaaaannnnk~ youuuuu~ Yooooou~ muuuuuuu~” That’s it; as she grabs at her servant and snuggles her to her bosom playfully, much to the younger’s chagrin, the lilt in her voice turns into honest-to-good tildes that you can actually hear. For a brief moment, you’re reminded of your own master – she was never so playful, but she certainly was warm…

You brush away the memory like an old cobweb. Not now.

“You can come out, you know. We don’t bite,” Ran jokes, a smile crossing her face. She’s not so stoic all of a sudden – does she feel more comfortable here?

As you wade to the water’s edge, you ask, “Might I ask just where Jizo sent you, anyways?”

“Right outside the dining room – Lady Yuyuko and Youmu were having their supper. I’ve explained a few things about your situation while you’ve been brooding in there.”

Of course she’d know where you were – she said she could “sense” you. You’re not sure whether you’re bothered by that fact or not.

“And Yoooou~muuuu~ bolted upright and was ready to defend me to her last breath the instant it happened~” Yuyuko continues to warble while grappling with the blushing girl in question. “She’s sooooo~ dedicated~”

“Yuyuko was of the impression that we could talk over dinner. She doesn’t like having her meals interrupted.” The smile turns sly, implying an appetite beyond the norm. Without thinking, you let your eyes flick up and down Yuyuko’s frame – she’s pleasantly curved, but not the slightest bit plump, but then again any mage worth their salt doesn’t like something like eating habits affect their appearance. Ran probably has a similar build underneath those large formal robes of hers, while Youmu has the slim limbs and frame of an active youth.

Pulling yourself up and out, you nod in assent, doing your best to be polite and dignified even as water drips off you in sheets. You work a quick prestidigitation with a gesture and arcane single arcane syllable, drying yourself in seconds in a plume of steam – you could have let it drip onto the stones, but this way looks a little more impressive and doesn’t leave a mess for the beleaguered servant to clean up afterward. “Well, whatever the mistress of the house wishes,” you amiably agree.
>> No. 154743
Dinner becomes awkward from the moment you sit down at the low, square table, chairs eschewed for the floor, your legs all hidden by a sheathing of blanket-like material.

Ran may be a servant to Lady Yukari, yet she chats with Yuyuko like an old friend, which says a lot about her position or the depth of their relationship, or possibly both. The two women are catching up on the various statuses of friends and acquaintances, small talk that you instantly realize is meant to reveal nothing to you beyond names, names that might not even be real for all you know. Both of the older women treat Youmu as a junior, which means that she’s excluded from the ultimately two-person conversation. Something else makes you wonder – does Youmu have a friend to talk to? A house servant at such a young age, does she have anyone with which to talk about every day matters? She’s only picking at her food, not truly hungry – what puts her at such unease?

Wild trains of thought aside, there’s another thing that bothers you. You haven’t eaten anything ever since He betrayed you – from that day on, you relied on a magic ring to sustain you, a ring that you wore until Marcus Crucimigrated you. While you’re sure they wouldn’t offer you food if you couldn’t eat, you have no idea what this experience is going to be like after so long.

In front of you is a meal centered around a base of grains lightly boiled, still stiff and filling and not yet watery, accompanied by a few dishes of what you’re pretty sure are vegetables prepared in a variety of different ways, a handful of bite-size dried-leaf rolls of the same grain and some form of protein, and a small, artfully sliced portion of a brown-sauced meat which from the looks of the muscle fibers is probably a red meat of some herd-beast. All of it is strange and unusual, your sense of smell still nascent, and to cap it all off you’ve never eaten with a pair of sticks before. It doesn’t look too hard, and you’re sure you can manage the mechanics, but that doesn’t make you feel any better about eating for the first time in so many centuries.

You have a premonition of projectile vomiting all over the table. It isn’t pretty.

To stave off the incoming question of why you haven’t touched your food yet, you decide to, out of the blue, ask a question that’s been bugging you. “So, if I may be so bold, where are we? Clearly, it is the home of the lady and her servant, and we are the guests – but as you can guess from my method of entry…” Bringing up your own indignity lowers your position, makes you personable, easier to approach, more likely to be patronized with an answer. “… I have no idea how I got here, much less where I am.”

Youmu glances at you, but remains silent until Yuyuko fields the question. So it seems that even when excluded, the servant doesn’t trust you enough to reveal such information. She speaks around mouthfuls – big, heaping mouthfuls. She’s already cleared three plates at a rate that makes you question the proportions of her stomach. “Oh, this is Hakugyukuro, the Underworld! How are you liking it?”

What. From one afterlife to another, it seems.

“I seem to be surrounded by death,” you state dramatically. You hate speaking like this – the brusque conversations you had with Marcus were far less charged with diplomatic tension. “Yet it is a place of life and beauty, in its own way – the blooming trees, the light in the sky, and most of all, its quite vivacious residents. How is this?”

At the word ‘vivacious’, Youmu visibly cringes, her opinion of you dropping even further as you patronize her master; from Yuyuko’s grin, successfully too. Jealously? Truthfully, you winced too at your honeyed words, deep inside, but you’re playing the part of eloquent speaker right now – such a bloated vocabulary is standard.

“Well, I appreciate the compliment, but let me tell you now that I am actually dead.” She closes her eyes as if reciting from memory, putting a hand on her chest. “I am Yuyuko Saigyouji, the ghost princess of Hakugyukuro.”

So she’s dead. Okay. Surrounded by death indeed. As fitting as that is, she seemed perfectly normal, ridiculous aura notwithstanding. Double what.

She goes on. “Even my darling Youmu fits right in, in her own way. She’s only half-human – the other half is phantom!” she proclaims.

“Specifically, that half would be the white orb around her,” Ran clarifies.

So they’re separate? Not hereditary, most likely. That’s a fact you eagerly seize upon, trying to draw the girl into the conversation. “So the underworld has had an influence on her, then?” That might be a reason for her strange behavior – she doesn’t feel at home, or resents the change, perhaps.

But Yuyuko crushes your theory underneath her heel. “No, no, she was born that way. The Konpaku family has been serving as Hakugyukuro’s gardeners for generations~” You swear that purple stars are hovering near her face as she says that line. Actually – yes, a few wisps of magenta flame popped into existence for just a second, unless your senses are lying to you.

Triple and quadruple whats, respectively.

“Might I ask,” you intentionally aim at Youmu herself, trying to drag her in, “how that ancestry came about? The dead producing actual life is something that I’ve never heard before.” Magic does a lot of strange things, but this one rivals your own origin story in preposterousness.

The white-haired girl shifts uncomfortably, but eventually answers, not meeting your gaze with the excuse of fumbling with her food – reassembling a grain roll that had split underneath her chopsticks, an act of intentional clumsiness that hadn’t escaped you. “I don’t know. It’s been like that for generations,” she says, repeating Yuyuko’s earlier statement.

“So is that half exactly half, or is it more diluted than that?” you press on. “Half”-elves were often far more or less than from where you came from, but they all received the moniker regardless.

She’s completely silent now, her face turning red, eyes hidden behind her bangs. You’ve struck a nerve without meaning to. You decide to move the conversation off of her – only fair to save her the attention if she’s going to have a reaction like that. “Errr – so Yuyuko, if you’re a ghost, why take on such a life-like appearance? Is that a feature of the netherworld, or is that simply an exercise of power?”

Ran shakes her head at you. “In both Higan and here, the balance between life and death is different. In these places, as a soul and mind, minus a body, you can easily manifest as you see yourself without any particular deficiencies, armed only with your own belief that you are who you are, no conscious thought involved.”

“… and when I walk out into somewhere ‘normal’?” you hazard.

“It’ll take a lot more energy to maintain a particular form. Details will be difficult at best, impossible at worst. As you can see with Youmu’s phantom half, they commonly neglect to shape themselves, for example, leaving themselves as nothing more than an amorphous blob or wisp Those putting in a little more effort shape their upper bodies, but leave their lower halves untouched.”

Thus informed, you try picturing yourself as the orb wrapped around Youmu’s back – instantly, you feel yourself coalesce into a roiling mote of light without weight or substance, clothes and bracer disintegrating as well. Aha – ethereal, then. To test, you float backwards through your chair then the adjacent wall into the kitchen, before returning just as fast. The three women watch, food left aside for a second as you reshape yourself. Yuyuko and Ran giggle slightly as you make a clumsy landing when gravity grabs hold of your body once more and your fall almost turns into a roll, but the performance doesn’t faze their servant at all, though, as Youmu immediately returns to disassembling her vegetables, her façade of attention instantly done away with the moment the show shows.

“You know, you really are a down-to-earth person,” Ran shamelessly puns as you check your bracer, experimentally popping it a few feet from your arm. The women look on, intrigued as you twist the metal into various abstract shapes before letting it resolve around your sleeve again. This has the side effect of Youmu’s attention, as you notice by a slight dilation of her pupils; perhaps it reminds her of her own ghost-shaped companion? “Of all the souls I’ve seen come through here, you’re the only one who seems to be… so comfortable in a physical form. So life-like. Most people leave imperfections, or idealize themselves somehow.” She gives you a sweeping look from head to toe – you realize that while she and Yuyuko are flawless, you and Youmu have small flaws – a blemish on the skin here, a mole there. “More tellingly, they don’t move with the precision you do.”

As if to test her words, you flick your hands and fingers in the motions needed to spells, pantomiming teleport, fabricate, and wall of force in sequence. You don’t actually cast, of course – you could cast them with a mere thought if you wanted to, although doing so at your current endurance would take a precious amount of your power and second, and anyways the most important part of casting is putting the mental energy behind it. “I had to learn how to operate an undead body down to each individual tendon. After many hundred years of practice, I had to learn how to fight with one as well. At this point, it’s just how I move,” you shrug. “If I ever decided to true resurrect myself…”

You pause. Actually, you have no fucking clue what would happen. Some part of you thinks Jizo would be the one the spell would target, but at the same time, you’re still not sure how this constructed-just-like-the-original mind business works, especially when your mind, Sai, is the one with your one and only soul. “… never mind.” There’s a lull in the conversation as Ran and Yuyuko return to their food and you work your legs back underneath the table. Your tangent seems to have deflected any interest about the quicksilver around your arm with a more ominous subject.

Youmu is still silent, but she’s now staring intently at you instead of her food. You’re not sure if that’s an improvement or not. “Is the food not up to your standards, Lord? I can prepare something more to taste if you wish.”

It’s now that you realize that while you know her name, you may have only been introduced as “Ran’s friend”. You make a show of picking up your two sticks for the first time as Ran and Yuyuko let their lull continue, their attention now on you. After watching the ghost princess use them with great efficiency and Youmu play with them in increasingly creative ways, that’s not the problem. But you’re not sure what to do here; regurgitating her cooking might leave an even worse impression.

You…

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

CHOOSE YOUR DIETARY HABITS

[ ] … abstain. Suffering from nausea is not a good way to kick off a first impression.
[ ] … nibble. If Youmu won’t enjoy her own cooking, you might as well take a gradual pace towards the act as well. Never trust the food its own cook won’t eat.
[ ] … eat. Take it like Ran is, at a steady pace. There’s no need to be stingy or ridiculous, and she probably sets a good example of what’s normal anyways.
[ ] … devour. The only solution is to show appreciation on Yuyuko’s level, and leave a stack of plates taller than hers by the end of the meal.


CHOOSE YOUR ENJOYMENT

[ ] … ingest. Try and block out the feelings. You should be able to do that much.
[ ] … enjoy. Take things as they come, and what happens, happens.
[ ] … savor. Analyze each bite from start to finish, and inform the cook just what you think.

CHOOSE YOUR INTERROGATION

They ask you about…

[ ] Write-in! There’s a lot they don’t know about you and your history, but there are things you haven’t spent a lot of time thinking about yet…
- Examples include your abilities, other little facts about your history, your opinion of the few people you’ve met… the list goes on.

Feel free to ask me questions to clarify things, or discuss your theories on the story as always, so long as it’s civil and constructive.
>> No. 154747
[x] … nibble. If Youmu won’t enjoy her own cooking, you might as well take a gradual pace towards the act as well. Never trust the food its own cook won’t eat.

As much fun as an eating competition with Yuyuko sounds, if you haven't eaten in a few hundred years, and never as a disembodied spirit eating food prepared in the afterlife, then it's probably safer to start off slow.

[x] … savor. Analyze each bite from start to finish, and inform the cook just what you think.

I'm assuming "inform her just what you think" does not mean being an asshole about it. ("I'll tell just just what I think" has a slight negative ring about it, but my intentions for the vote are more neutral.)
I would assume that she's probably a pretty good cook anyway, since my impression of Yuyuko isn't that she just likes to eat for the sake of eating, but she eats because she enjoys good food.

As for the conversation... Hmmm...
This isn't quite a write-in vote, more like just thinking out lout. I might add to it if I can think of anything else later. Take whatever part of it you like as my vote.

Continuing the subject of his undead body seems like a logical starting point, and from there it's likely to move on to Marcus, which means Sai can maybe get a straight answer about what happened to him anyway. Besides that...

The bracer slipped people's minds, but it won't take much for the subject to reappear. How did he get it and how does it work anyway?
I imagine Youmu would be the one to bring up that subject again, seeing how it was pretty much the only thing that caught her interest in this conversation.

He'll probably have to evade the subject, but the True Resurrection he just mentioned is likely to get some interest. If you cut off a train of thought with "...never mind", that will get peoples attention.

If we're talking about Marcus and the resurrection spell, it's likely that the subject expands to other people he knew/what else he can do.
Both are likely to lead to Him and their master, as well as Jizo, Ran and even Chen and Yukari (even though he never knew them very well/at all).

Oh right. The food is also a good conversation piece at the dinner table. If you're dead and you don't need to eat, why is there food in the first place? Is the food the same as in the living world and thus from there, or are there ghost farms and ghost cattle?
Or is it the "ghost" of a meal that someone ate, and then it appears in the food equivalence of the afterlife where Youmu goes and finds it? And if so, is there a food after-afterlife? And who's in charge of the food afterlife anyway? Is there a judge who sends good food to food heaven and bad food to food hell?
>> No. 154748
[X] … abstain. Suffering from nausea is not a good way to kick off a first impression.

Oh dear god please dont let this be one of the storys with an eternal netherworld stay if you eat something.
>> No. 154754
[x] … nibble. If Youmu won’t enjoy her own cooking, you might as well take a gradual pace towards the act as well. Never trust the food its own cook won’t eat.
-[x] If your stomach can handle it, the eat.
[X] … savor. Analyze each bite from start to finish, and inform the cook just what you think.

No idea about the interrogation, tho. That write in up there seems fine.
>> No. 154755
>>154748
I think the fact that Ran is eating handily rules that out.
>> No. 154757
[x] … nibble. If Youmu won’t enjoy her own cooking, you might as well take a gradual pace towards the act as well. Never trust the food its own cook won’t eat.
[X] … savor. Analyze each bite from start to finish, and (politely) inform the cook just what you think.

[x] Interrogation: hats.
>> No. 154758
File 133274054149.jpg - (68.83KB , 620x341 , Hats.jpg ) [iqdb]
154758
Oh geez. Sai doesn't have any headgear yet, does he?

Addendum:

[ ] Hat discussion.

I honestly have no idea what kind of hat fits Sai - or if perhaps he needs a hat at all. (Perhaps his "hat" will be a monk-shiny-bald shaved head?)

I'm going to veto the pointy wizard hat right now, since that is what Sai is most certainly not, although I do have a few ideas floating through my head.

Let me hear what thoughts you guys have first...
>> No. 154759
Why does he need a hat?
>> No. 154760
>>154759
He's in Gensokyo.

But what outfit is he wearing? A good hat matches the outfit and I cannot in good faith go and choose a stylish hat like a Red Mage one without knowing if it'll match the outfit.

[x] … nibble. If Youmu won’t enjoy her own cooking, you might as well take a gradual pace towards the act as well. Never trust the food its own cook won’t eat.
-[x] Perhaps inquire about the matter.
-[x] If your stomach can handle it, then eat.
[X] … savor. Analyze each bite from start to finish, and inform the cook just what you think.

Don't have anything for the write in yet.
>> No. 154764
[x] … nibble. If Youmu won’t enjoy her own cooking, you might as well take a gradual pace towards the act as well. Never trust the food its own cook won’t eat.
-[x] Perhaps inquire about the matter.
-[x] If your stomach can handle it, then eat.
[X] … savor. Analyze each bite from start to finish, and inform the cook just what you think.

[x] Goggles
-[x] Preferably Glarecutter, but normal ones are fine.

Though what I'm thinking of is closer to aviator goggles than swimming ones, it does seem appropriate given that we came out of a river.

I'll do the conversation thing later.
>> No. 154769
>>154764 here, I actually think an Ioun stone would be better. Probably only an inert gray one to start, but we can upgrade.

[x] An Ioun stone.

For more info, have this hopefully useful link: http://www.d20pfsrd.com/magic-items/wondrous-items/wondrous-items/h-l/ioun-stones
>> No. 154776
>>154760

Right now, you're dressed in a "practical" tan caster's robe, for certain definitions of practical. While still looking somewhat scholarly/magely in the traditional sense, many compromises have been made to make the garment less cumbersome. The back of the skirt is split into three "tails" while the front has been completely done away with, eschewing the full flowing bottom for a pair of trousers. A similarly plain shirt underneath the robe, a cloth belt to keep the robe secure, and a solid pair of boots finish the outfit.

It ends up looking more like a longcoat secured with a wide belt than anything else.

Given your spiritual form, though, and Ran's explanation of how you exert your own shape and form here, you're pretty sure your outfit is mutable at will - at least until you receive particular articles of clothing.

Note that your only magic item at this point is that quicksilver shield of yours - anything else is simply what you're accustomed to wearing.

>>154764

>Glarecutter Goggles
>These dark lenses of smoked glass are set in a thin leather headband and filter the light reaching your eyes
>sunglasses

notsureifserious.jpg
>> No. 154779
[x] … nibble. If Youmu won’t enjoy her own cooking, you might as well take a gradual pace towards the act as well. Never trust the food its own cook won’t eat.
-[x] If your stomach can handle it, then eat.
[X] … savor. Analyze each bite from start to finish, and inform the cook just what you think.
-[x] Unless you think it's shitty.

[x] Talk about the food. Is it regular food or are there ghost farms and such?

Also Ioun stones seem pretty interesting.
[x] An Ioun stone.
>> No. 154780
[X] … nibble. If Youmu won’t enjoy her own cooking, you might as well take a gradual pace towards the act as well. Never trust the food its own cook won’t eat.

[X] … savor. Analyze each bite from start to finish, and inform the cook just what you think.

[X] The immigrants and Marcus. What happened to Marcus? Are the immigrants settled in? What is the political climate around them?
>> No. 154781
[x] … nibble. If Youmu won’t enjoy her own cooking, you might as well take a gradual pace towards the act as well. Never trust the food its own cook won’t eat.
-[x] If your stomach can handle it, then eat.
[X] … savor. Analyze each bite from start to finish, and inform the cook just what you think.

[X] The immigrants and Marcus. What happened to Marcus? Are the immigrants settled in? What is the political climate around them?
>> No. 154783
>>154776
Then I'd go with a Red Mage's hat, colored accordingly.
>> No. 154785
[x] … nibble. If Youmu won’t enjoy her own cooking, you might as well take a gradual pace towards the act as well. Never trust the food its own cook won’t eat.
-[x] If your stomach can handle it, then eat.
[X] … savor. Analyze each bite from start to finish, and inform the cook just what you think.

[X] The immigrants and Marcus. What happened to Marcus? Are the immigrants settled in? What is the political climate around them?

[x] An Ioun stone.

I like an Ioun stone way better, but if a dull gray stone is too magical then I guess a red mage hat works.

More importantly, what happened to Marcus?
>> No. 154800
[x] … nibble. If Youmu won’t enjoy her own cooking, you might as well take a gradual pace towards the act as well. Never trust the food its own cook won’t eat.
-[x] If your stomach can handle it, then eat.
[X] … savor. Analyze each bite from start to finish, and inform the cook just what you think.

[X] The immigrants and Marcus. What happened to Marcus? Are the immigrants settled in? What is the political climate around them?

[x] An Ioun stone.


This wagon seems comfy enough.
>> No. 154822
I'm in favor of a Red Mage hat or something similarly stylish.
Ioun Stones can be added too, one does not exclude the other.

But if you want to be really ridiculous:
There is no limit to the number of Ioun Stones a single person can have at the same time, since they do not use an item slot. So he could have his own little solar system circling his head.
Dull gray Ioun Stones, painted to look like planets, the ones closest to his head are in shades of red and orange, while the ones furthest out are colder colors like white and blue.

And, funny enough, gray Ioun Stones are actually free. This is because according to the rules of magic item creation the cost of not using an item slot is double the base price. Base price is based on the effect of the item, whether it gives a flat stat bonus or replicates a spell or spell-like effect or whatever. When the item has no effect, there is no base cost and 0 x 2 = 0.
So you could create a million gray Ioun Stones and completely encase your head in a globe of floating gravel. FOR FREE.
>> No. 154823
File 133289073163.jpg - (8.53KB , 300x159 , Ioun Stones.jpg ) [iqdb]
154823
>>154822

Interest in ioun stones and fancy hat noted, unless more people express a distinct dislike of fancy hats and/or ioun stones.

And the opportunity to gain such an article of clothing won't happen for a few updates yet - same as the opportunity to gain ioun stones.

Notably, Pathfinder went ahead and gave the no-effect ioun stone a nominal cost, because quite frankly, "float around your head" doesn't fit underneath the category of "zero effect". I mean, it does something, it's not an inanimate object. I mean, by your definition, a talisman of the disk, a hilarious item that lets you create a self-propelled disc of force that essentially acts as a forklift to some minor altitude above the ground, would have "zero effect". Although I must admit I laughed at the mental image of a million burnt grey ioun stones zooming around your head.

Of course, I would love to hear more ideas before I close voting Thursday night...
>> No. 154826
>>154823
A Talisman of the Disk does do something, as far as the rules of magic items are concerned.
It replicates a spell/spell-like effect.
By "no effect" I meant something like an Ioun Stone of +0 AC. The effect of the item literally does no difference in any situation, whether you have it or not.
Cost of no-slot +X AC items is X^2 x2. Thus a +0AC Stone ends up having a cost of 0 gold, RAW.
They still require a lvl 12 crafter and takes one day per stone to make, though. If you really have nothing better to do at that level than make joke items, your DM seriously needs to shape up.


Although I could see a bard with, let's call it "flexible morals", use it as a money grabbing scheme.
Selling "bargain Ioun Stones of Defense" to dumb adventurers.
At level 12 your charisma and bluff/diplomacy should be more than high enough to get away with it. They are stones of defense, and if you're cheap enough to shop in the bargain bin, you get what you pay for. I'm sure some of them have enough magic in them for a +1 bonus, at least. Sorry, no refunds, store policy, hands are tied.
And no, you can't go detecting magic on each individual stone. As the sign on the wall says: You scan it, you buy it.
>> No. 154840
Dull grey ioun stones actually cost some sort of pittance in 3.0. In 3.5, though, they were removed from the price list, apparently due to a psionics rule allowing you to cannibalize them for a few power points.

I always thought this was a poor trade.

... that said, I'm not very keen on the idea of Sai having ioun stones. In my experience, characters who have them tend to have them as their defining feature. But then again, I'm >>153805.
>> No. 154841
[❖] … abstain. Suffering from nausea is not a good way to kick off a first impression.
-[❖] Explain that you haven't eaten in centuries, even before you died, so you haven't much of an appetite. You're not implying the food is unpalatable.

Rather than be insulted, I think the implied asceticism would impress Youmu, even if she doesn't know how it came to be.

>[x] The immigrants and Marcus. What happened to Marcus? Are the immigrants settled in? What is the political climate around them?

While there are very good question and one that the writer can add it in the next update, the selection is:

>They ask you about…

Not the other way around. But there should be some give-and-take, rather than just fielding everyone's questions anway.

[❖] <Youmu> About the amorphous object on his arm: A weapon, a shikigami, or a decoration?
-[❖] If it is a weapon, how about a display of his skill?
[❖] <Yuyuko> About what he meant to 'truly resurrect' himself. Doesn't he need the Yama's judgment to reincarnate?
[❖] <Ran> The things she saw of his childhood and 'Him'--were those centuries of preparation, and giving up his humanity, solely for revenge?
[❖] <Ran> About his plans for life in Gensokyo, even assuming he can continue evading the Yama and get his body back.

Ran's questions would be the most important, but I see this as basically a continuation of the Yama's grilling in a different setting--a vehicle to elaborate on the protagonist's backstory.

I'm interested in Youmu and Yuyuko's reaction to his explanation of his offhand 'resurrection' remark; I'd like to know whether or not PCB has happened yet.

>>154400
>Oho, so it is? I'll have to bring that one up - but it's the name he/we jumped on, and so we'll stick with it. (Queue a lot of "I expected 'him' to be a woman".) Might I ask what the normal writings of the 'female name' kanji are? MC will be writing it using 'debt' and 'shore', as his namesake, but surely the female name uses different kanji.

For 'Sai', there's dozens, and for 'Kawara' just one. None of the names are male nor are the kanji very topical. 'Kawara' does shows up as a surname with some frequency.

There's two sets of kanjji used for 'Sai-no-Kawara', '賽の河原' (lit., river shore of offerings) and the less common '賽ノ磧' (lit., pebbly beach of offerings). ('賽' uses a Buddhist reading 'offering' rather than the common reading of 'dice' or 'baton'.)

There are no given names that use either '賽' or '河原' in full. '磧' is used in a few given names, but in them, it's always read 'seki'. Of '河' there's a few names, solely male, with the best match being 'Kawarou' ('河郎' lit. 'river's son'). 'Sai-no-Kawarou' itself at least sounds like a name from an old Japanese clan (e.g., Fujiwara-no-Mokou).
>> No. 154846
[ ] … eat. Take it like Ran is, at a steady pace. There’s no need to be stingy or ridiculous, and she probably sets a good example of what’s normal anyways.

CHOOSE YOUR ENJOYMENT

[ ] … enjoy. Take things as they come, and what happens, happens.

CHOOSE YOUR INTERROGATION

They ask you about…
[x] Your home world.
[x] Something the writer should come up on his own.
[x] How death came to you.
>> No. 154849
File 133308284983.jpg - (52.15KB , 508x660 , Connoisseur.jpg ) [iqdb]
154849
>>154846

>[x] Something the writer should come up on his own.

Hardy-harhar, I'm just trying to feel out my readers for what they'd like to see/read. I know what else needs to be said, but I figure I could cover certain topics that they'd like to hear about.

>>154841

>actual questions

Thank you very -

>name analysis

I'm drooling at the mouth here. Thank you very much - Sai (no) Kawarou, "the River's son", actually fits him very well, as he was borne into Gensokyo from the Sanzu.

SHORT TERM GOALS (as gathered by popular opinion)

[X] Look about acquiring a stylish hat and/or ioun stone in the near future.
[X] Find out about immigrants and Marcus, and the political landscape of the Gensokyo beyond.

Feel free to make a last-minute drop-off of additional questions you'd like to see answered during the dinner if at all possible. But as for the votes:

Votes called. Pic related. Writing now. Please wait warmly~
>> No. 154850
Just wanted to say that I really like that alternate version of his name (Kawarou), it's a very thematically fitting name and, as was pointed out, it's (more like) an actual name.

I personally wouldn't mind if it changes to that instead.
Like, someone just mishears his name and thinks he said that and, since it is an actual name, he picks that up instead. It's not a major difference anyway.
>> No. 154853
>>154849
No, I'll wait coldly.
>> No. 154861
>Sai no Kawarou
Man, I would probably have gone with that if I knew of it. Close enough to Kawara to be all meaningful, and with the added benefit of having its own meaning that refers to us. I (>>154337) would be fine with, and actually slightly prefer a situation like >>154850 describes, though I would also be fine keeping the current name if you prefer (since we did already choose it and all that).

Either way, waiting warmly.
>> No. 154881
File 133315902160.jpg - (297.69KB , 840x630 , kayneth_mercury_beanbag.jpg ) [iqdb]
154881
>>154850
>though I would also be fine keeping the current name if you prefer (since we did already choose it and all that).

It's what we chose to tell the Yama, with all the umbrage it would generate. It served a purpose; to set the tone of the conversation. It was never intended to be the protagonist's real name.

Note that although the protagonist has said they can call him that 'for now', he's only actually been referred to by another character (Ran) as 'Sai'. It can be rationalized pretty easily in that if Ran's still his shikigami, as it seems, she has an interest in not causing needless embarrassment. We might not want to present ourselves to everyone with what is an obviously fake name, or (worse) have people think we're just another personification with a silly hat.

>>154849
>Hardy-harhar, I'm just trying to feel out my readers for what they'd like to see/read. I know what else needs to be said, but I figure I could cover certain topics that they'd like to hear about.

Not that Anon, but choosing what to put in other characters' mouths takes us a little outside the bounds of a CYOA. What you could've done in this instance is to have fielded a bunch of questions, and the MC can choose what to respond to and what to ignore/plead ignorance/deflect. Even when you're blocked, it's usually better to work through it than to throw your readers into a sandbox.

Have faith that the narrative can tell your reader what he wants to know in due course. Even when unprompted, none of the backstory or introspection you've provided thus far has been uninteresting nor needlessly digressive.

Though honestly the 'avatar' form of the MC screams 'future deus ex machina' and so unless he turns into a less benevolent figure (because face it, MC wouldn't trust himself with that much power, considering all he's lost), keep him well enough away. He's got a plane to manage, right?

>Votes called. Pic related. Writing now. Please wait warmly~

Hooray!
>> No. 154917
File 133323469581.jpg - (41.99KB , 646x431 , Flying Food.jpg ) [iqdb]
154917
RESULTS

[X] … nibble. If Youmu won’t enjoy her own cooking, you might as well take a gradual pace towards the act as well. Never trust the food its own cook won’t eat.

[X] … savor. Analyze each bite from start to finish, and inform the cook just what you think.

> I'd like to know whether or not PCB has happened yet.

Timeline is set to post-Ten Desires, so yes.

>Have faith that the narrative can tell your reader what he wants to know in due course. Even when unprompted, none of the backstory or introspection you've provided thus far has been uninteresting nor needlessly digressive.

Faith inspired. The following update does not unrealistically bend itself out of shape address all the points brought up, as a result.

> Though honestly the 'avatar' form of the MC screams 'future deus ex machine' and so unless he turns into a less benevolent figure (because face it, MC wouldn't trust himself with that much power, considering all he's lost), keep him well enough away. He's got a plane to manage, right?

dohoho you have noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo idea what I'm planning

Writing dialogue is hard for me. I must have redone the progression of this conversation at least three times before being satisfied with how it progressed from topic to topic. I tried to make it follow real life, in that sometimes other topics come in from nowhere and end up dominating the conversation, and other times said topics get shot down so that the conversation stays on target.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

How long has it been since victuals last passed between your lips? You find yourself instinctively swallowing in nervousness – merely one of many unconscious responses that your undead body would never have succumbed to. Experimentally, you do it again, closing your eyes to focus on the feel of your own saliva rolling down your esophagus into your stomach, trying to imagine how it would feel with a bolus of chewed food instead.

“… Lord?” Youmu asks, clearly nonplussed by your response. Snapping open your eyes, you paste a sheepish smile on your face to ameliorate any insult you may have just give her.

“Sorry,” you chuckle, casting your now-open eyes downward as if ashamed. “I’m just preparing myself. It has been many, many centuries since I last remember eating.” Shoving aside any thought of why Yuyuko the ghost princess on the other side of the table has to eat anyways, you carefully gather a small bit of rice together at the end of the two sticks. It’s actually far easier than it looks – it’s stiff and starchy, and scooping it up is more like cutting out a solid block than a gathering a pile of grains.

“And why is that? Are you some hermit ascetic, living off of pure enlightenment and mountain air and dew? Are we breaking any vows of yours, to never again see to an earthly need?” Yuyuko teases. Yet the joke is close to the truth – how much has Ran told her? She said she ‘explained a few things about your situation’, but exactly what does she know?

“Not air and dew, no, and no vows.” you answer, still playing the part of the modest guest. “I do not believe I would ever reach such a perfect state of body through mere understanding. I am not so wise.”

The ghost princess waves her face with a hand in an “Ah, so modest. But then, how did you survive for so long? I can’t imagine going without one of Youmu’s meals for more than a few hours~“

Yuyuko’s servant doesn’t roll her eyes, but somehow you get the impression that she would very much like to. It occurs to you that the poor girl must have a lot of work on her hands with her master.

“Well, at first I relied on a magic ring,” you explain. “We didn’t want to waste any energy on conjuring food for me, nor waste time waiting for me to consume it. Later – “ You hesitate, looking to Ran for support without thinking. She watched you undergo the Ritual of Crucimigration through the Yama’s mirror; would it be appropriate to broach such a brutal topic at the table?

Apparently so, for she nods. “ – later… the ring reduced my need for sleep, but didn’t completely obviate it,” you backtrack. “That was also time I realized was wasting. But most importantly, there was a cursed wound that was slowly killing me, and I couldn’t let such a thing stop our work. So I, er, underwent a ritual that preserved my body with negative energy.” Close enough.

Youmu blinks, uncomprehending. “Like… a shikaisen?” she guesses. When you give her your own look of confusion, she explains, “A shikaisen fakes his or her own death somehow in such a way that the shinigami are diverted from finding them, and send appeasements to Heaven for their crime of disrupting the natural order. Alongside their loss of a limited life span, however, is the loss of their entire life before that moment – with their loss of identity comes the loss of everything they ever held dear before then. And even then, if the shinigami find the shikaisen afterward, they may be apprehended anyways.”

“By apprehended, you mean killed despite their immortality,” you hazard.

But she shakes her head. “No, not necessarily. From what I have heard, some shikaisen undergo the process in good faith, taking on positions of servitude to Heaven. A villainous shikaisen is swiftly hunted down.”

Ran adds, “There is a faction of several immortals in Gensokyo, who are relatively new as well – not as new as the immigrants from your own plane, though. They’re very human-centric, and unsympathetic to the needs of the spirits who have lived there for far longer.”

Distracted, you set down your grain-laden sticks, asking, “What kind of needs can a few immortals have? If there’s only a few – “

The shikigami coughs, and smiles lightly as she points to Youmu, steering you back on course. “Later,” she chides.

“Sorry,” you repeat to Youmu again. “Ah, no, not like a shikaisen, then. On my plane, death is less… carefully monitored.” You think back onto Marcus’s explanations of cross-planar theology. “No spirits come down from the heavens to punish you for cheating death – well, according to myth, they once did,” you correct yourself. “Inevitables, they were called – spirits of law. But after The Great War, such agents disappeared.”

“And why is that?” Youmu asks, naturally falling into the conversation. You pump a mental fist in triumph.

“Because while you also had spirits attempting to enforce the law, there were also spirits attempting to aid such lawbreakers. Spirits who found the positions of both parties to be extreme and attempting to impose a form of compromise. Imagine…”

You spin the tip of an index finger in the air, deliberating on an analogy that she’ll understand. “I was in Higan to be judged earlier, did Ran tell you this much?” Receiving a series of nods, you continue. “Imagine nine different Higans, each with their own idea of an appropriate response to an action, ranging from exaltation to damnation. Then add a few dozen other powerful gods with ideas fitting in between these nine major halls of judgment. The open wars devastated not only my plane, and soon few mortals were left alive anywhere to provide them with the faith they need to exist. Realizing that the wars had needlessly driven them near destruction, the gods agreed upon a long cease-fire until my plane recovered, and even afterward, agreed to only fight with indirect methods – a cold war.”

Ran frowns. “I’ve been thinking upon that. So why would they not rise up in unison against Him, when He threatened to annihilate your plane?”

You shrug. “Again, the major gods agreed to not openly war. No matter what you say, there’s no way they could send aid without being accused of advancing their own agendas all over again, not to mention that my plane’s loss wouldn’t be the end of their existence – not even close, as they’re worshipped on many other planes as well. A loss, something to be avoided, but not quite worth restarting a war over.” You play with the ball of grain at the end of your sticks while you talk. “I presume they were all too afraid to intervene, for fear of being accused of breaking the cold war agreement – well, all except one. Marcus and his Lady. The Lady is one of those gods who doesn’t align Herself with one of the nine afterlifes, but instead is purely dedicated to the existence of life. I suppose that’s the reason why she acted – it’s part of her portfolio to act in such a way. No god would accuse her of conniving or power-grabbing for interfering,” you hypothesize, as if thinking upon the subject for the first time. Of course you’ve thought about this already, but this makes you look less smug.

Yuyuko suddenly butts in. “This is interesting and all, but I’m sure Youmu is still waiting for you to explain why you haven’t tried her lovingly prepared dinner~”

“Perhaps you should go back to explaining what it means to preserve your body with negative energy,” Ran agrees.

Realizing Youmu’s expression has become steely once more, you continue, “Negative energy, yes; positive and negative energy are two opposing concepts, if you will. When brought together, they negate each other, often spectacularly. While many will rush to say that the former is of life and good and the latter is of death and evil, it isn’t as simple as that. There are undead driven by positive energy, and mortals who host negative energy – but the majority living beings across the planes are mortals motivated by positive energy, which leads to negative energy being perceived mostly as a weapon, and negative energy undead as abominations. But about the latter – I turned myself into one.” You dance around the topic a little bit, as is only polite when discussing such unpalatable affairs.

A grain roll between Youmu’s two eating sticks flies apart in a spray of white bits; you’re pretty sure that this time its destruction wasn’t intentional. “You killed yourself,” she says flatly in disbelief.

“In a matter of speaking,” you elaborate. “Marcus took custody of my soul, but I – this mind, Sai – occupied my once dead body…”

You explain the principle of the Ritual of Crucimigration once more, and recap Jizo’s explanation with a few modifications: you, Sai, are a second mind existing at the same time as the original, Jizo. You’re in possession of the soul, giving you the ability to decide your own motivations, while Jizo will remain eternally dedicated to its formerly declared intention forever. Neither of you have a body, but it seems that here in Hakugyokuro that isn’t a problem, and Jizo has more than enough power to the point where manifesting an image that’s physical in every single way possible is an insignificant task.

“So, in a way, yes, I was a mountain ascetic. But instead of a mountain, it was a demiplane, and instead of elevating myself above earthly needs, I handled them at the source,” you summarize.

Youmu maintains her stare, but the tone of her voice now betrays a small hint of respect. “I understand now. I apologize for my earlier disrespect.”

“Don’t,” you chuckle, waving a hand. “A servant does well to question those she serves, for knowing the reasons behind their actions allows her to address the reasons behind their needs. Like a good doctor; treat the cause behind the symptoms, and the symptoms are nothing more than details.”

“But you showed such dedication,” she continues, uncaring of your apologies. You can practically see her throwing herself at your feet, prostrate in apology. “I would not hesitate to die in Lady Yuyuko’s service, and it would be my dream to continue serving in eternity – yet you show even further zeal, to serve beyond death – “

Seeing her fawning expression as she talks, you realize that something needs to be done – now. “Youmu?” you cut her off.

Your interruption takes her off guard. “Yes?”

“I want you to stop that line of thinking right there.” While she looks at you, eyes wide, you take a moment to raise the long-neglected ball of grain to your lips. You pluck a few of the white grains off of it into your mouth, feeling how the cooking oil that remains on it slicks your lips on their way in. You roll them around with your tongue a little bit before finally placing them between your molars and grinding downward.

To be honest, there isn’t much flavor, and that’s to be expected; a proper base for the meal would serve mostly to bulk out the main dishes and be mild enough to not dominate the palate. And yet somehow, the grain has a certain flavor to it that you can’t place. You chew until it’s been reduced to nothing more than a thin paste, then swallow.

It’s just good. If you were a more emotional sort, you might have even burst into tears, but doing so in the middle of a lecture is hardly the right time.

Giving Yuyuko and Ran a sideways glance, you note that they seem a little uneasy at the conversation in front of them, yet you plunge forward anyways, knowing you need to make a point. “There is no glory in sacrifice. Only in continued service.” Emboldened by the first taste of the dish, you bite off half the ball of grain and begin chewing in earnest. Like you did in childhood, you tuck the food into one cheek and chew with one side of your face, so as to keep your words clean of debris.

“Don’t be so eager to say ‘I want to die’. If you do, there’s something wrong with you. No, what you should do is identify just what it is that is precious to you. Once you’ve identified that, do everything in your power to ensure that you have supervision of it for as long as possible; and that means not throwing yourself into the jaws of doom at the first possible opportunity.” Again, you make sure to reduce the grain to paste in your mouth before swallowing, noticing how it seemingly disappears without a trace, but leaves you feeling satisfied. Perhaps this is how food is in Hakugyokuro; once consumed, it ceases to exist as food, instead converting to some form of energy or another directly. That would certainly explain how Yuyuko’s appetite is even physically possible, and would also explain why she isn’t as wide as a house. “If you glory death in service, you are only glorifying yourself, and do not deserve to serve.”

Youmu’s expression is a curious mix of hurt and anger; the former because you’re clearly attacking what she’s identified as her life’s purpose, and the latter as a natural reaction to your blunt method of expression. Yuyuko has adopted a neutral mask, backing out of the confrontation until later. Most importantly, Ran’s brow has turned into a full blown V of anger as she narrows her gaze, clearly incensed at your treatment of her friend’s servant. “Sai, you’re not being fair. She never said anything like that. All she said was –“

“I know exactly she said,” you snap, finding yourself suddenly short of temper. The false front of the polite guest is hopelessly shattered now – like you did with Marcus in the demiplane, you’re nothing but blunt words now. It’s actually a huge relief; it was starting to grate on your nerves. “But I know what she was thinking – and I do not approve.”

Her tails flip outwards as she half-rises from the table, food forgotten. She starts, “It is not your place to – “

You riposte right after Ran mentions ‘place’, before the shikigami even gets to finish her sentence. “Place? What is ‘place’? Place is nothing more than what we decide it to be.”

“And just what ‘place’ have you decided, oh high and mighty one?” She’s standing tall above the table now, giving you a look of pure wrath. You briefly reflect on how little it took to anger her, and stow that tidbit away for another time.

Under the guise of setting down your own eating sticks, you pause for thought, taken off guard. You’ve thought about a lot of other things, but life after defeating Him is something you hadn’t expected at all, much less planned for. “Correcting foolishness,” you ultimately declare, pointedly remaining seated in defiance of her anger. That statement should be vague enough to avoid accusation and it sounds noble if a bit self-righteous.

“I don’t think so,” she counters, puffing her chest out. With her hands now free, she raises her nose to the air and slips her hands into her sleeves. “What I see is a man without current purpose, but who only knows hatred and rage, hellbent on revenge of the most brutal kind. You said yourself that all you wanted to do was kill Him, and now that you have – what now? Are you going to simply lash out at anything? Woe betide the next person to slight you in some manner. Will you, oh, ‘savor every moment she dies on your blade’?”

You’re angry, you realize. No, not just angry, but earth-shakingly furious.

For a second, no one moves at the table. Youmu, now realizing the atmosphere at the table, scrambles up and back, reaches for the swords she slung across her back even at the dinner table. She barks, “No violence in the – “

Surprisingly, it’s Yuyuko that intervenes. “Youmu. Stand down.”

“But Lady Yuyu – “

“Stand down, Youmu. This is something important to them.”

Trying not to think about the implications of that statement, you decide to express your anger the only way possible. Violence is not an option; Ran would overpower you in an instant, although you have no clue what it means to be blown to pieces as a disembodied soul and mind. Nothing good, you imagine. You have no sordid knowledge of her with which to humiliate her, either, a classic cheap-shot back when you were alive.

So in a gesture of ultimate childishness, you flip your plate, delicious uneaten dinner and all, at her torso.

She has an entire second in which to react, and yet she chooses not to, simply maintaining her piercing stare even as brown sauce and vegetables splatter across her face, white grains spraying all over her front side while leaf-wrapped rolls bounce off the ground. The plate itself glances off her shoulder, tumbling to the floor and shattering with a spine-chilling crash.

Two long seconds pass, and then without a word, she responds in kind, bending over the table to repeat your gesture. Like her, you find yourself unwilling to debase yourself by dodging aside. Absently, you note that her food is different, with not meat but some sort of wrinkled, squishy slab of unidentifiable protein – well, unidentifiable so long as it remains on your face. Her dish flies over your head, and miraculously doesn’t break upon hitting the floor with a loud thunk and that quickening waa-wa-w-w-w-w-w of a plate spinning in circles upon its edge.

You raise your chin, feeling warm liquid roll down the front of your neck into your clothes. Both of you must look ridiculous, and yet neither of you are satisfied with merely this.

Ran doesn’t hate you enough to blow you up where you sit, but for a disturbing moment you believe she wants to. “Sai no Kawarou,” she spits, “You irritate me.”

And then she whips around and stalks out of the room, tails whipping around the corner of the doorframe as she continues down the hallway to get as far away from you as possible, the mess on her front side simply disappearing into thin air.

“My, my,” Yuyuko says airily, as if the spat she just witnessed was as insignificant as two puppies yipping at each other. Youmu slowly relaxes her grip on her swords, and runs off into the kitchen, presumably to fetch something with which to clean up the broken plate.

A piece of food slides down across your lips – thoughtlessly, you open your mouth and take it in, chewing the piece of fried protein. If you thought the grain was good, this is exquisite – you completely understand Ran’s earlier look of contended happiness, before this squabble bubbled out of nowhere.

Which leaves you at a crossroads…

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

CHOOSE YOUR AGENDA

[ ] Pursue. If Ran thinks she can get away, that’s too bad, because you’re going to chase after her and…
-[ ] … and try and smooth things over. She’s your only guide around here, and she did drag you out of the Sanzu. You owe her that much courtesy. And just why did she suddenly become so hostile?
-[ ] … give her a piece of your mind. Why does she think she has any right to question you anyways? Exactly, she doesn’t – and you don’t owe her a thing.
-[ ] Write-ins, either to augment the selected track of conversation or perhaps supplant it entirely with a massively popular idea.

[ ] Don’t pursue Lu Bu. Let her go, because you have a meal to enjoy and a conversation to continue with the lady of the house and her servant. Let both Ran and yourself cool off before you talk again, because if you don’t things might actually end up being violent. Meanwhile, you’ll…
-[ ] … talk about getting your body back, whether by true resurrection or some other means. Being a disembodied soul and mind is cool and all, but you’ve got an attachment to having solid limbs.
-[ ] … continue your earlier discussion with Youmu about the meaning of service. Just because Ran interfered doesn’t mean she’s been saved.
-[ ] Write-ins, either to augment the selected track of conversation or perhaps supplant it entirely with a massively popular idea.
>> No. 154919
[x] Don’t pursue Lu Bu.
-[x] Apologize to Youmu for wasting such exquisite food like that.
-[x] End that subject by simply stating that one should not be so willing to die, one should do what they can but sacrifice is the last resort.
-[x] Inquire about other lands in this plane.
-[x] What's with all of this "marcus is different stuff I keep hearing. You talk like he had an unfortunate accident with a girdle of femininity/masculinity
>> No. 154920
[ ] Pursue. If Ran thinks she can get away, that’s too bad, because you’re going to chase after her and…
-[ ] … and try and smooth things over. She’s your only guide around here, and she did drag you out of the Sanzu. You owe her that much courtesy. And just why did she suddenly become so hostile?
>> No. 154934
[x] Give a quick apology before leaving.
[x] Pursue. If Ran thinks she can get away, that’s too bad, because you’re going to chase after her and…
-[x] … and try and smooth things over. She’s your only guide around here, and she did drag you out of the Sanzu. You owe her that much courtesy. And just why did she suddenly become so hostile?

While I can see the point in letting things cool, I can't help but to feel that leaving Ran alone would just cause things to stew.
>> No. 154953
File 133338050046.jpg - (24.50KB , 460x460 , LuBu.jpg ) [iqdb]
154953
Kawarou has all the time in the world to smooth things over with Ran. The given options are unappealing because apologizing only because you appreciated her past help so much is completely vacuous. Him acting so childish is proof her accusations were right. He suddenly has no purpose or goal after living solely for revenge for hundreds of years, and a few hours of patience or heart-bearing conversation is not going to magically change this fact. She's frustrated because she can't do anything for him except walk away when his personality becomes too toxic. It will change as he forms more connections with people and comes to adopt a purpose to live for other than revenge.

He should practice conversation & manners more to increase his self-control in social situations, so he'll be less liable to cause a gaff that embarrasses her in the future. He also needs to salvage his relationship with his hosts after looking ridiculous, not just continue to didactically browbeat Youmu: That would only build resentment and would be counterproductive if he's trying to give her a life lesson. This is my attempt

[x] Don’t pursue Lu Bu. Let her go, because you have a meal to enjoy and a conversation to continue with the lady of the house and her servant. Let both Ran and yourself cool off before you talk again, because if you don’t things might actually end up being violent. Meanwhile, you’ll…
-[x] … Apologize to Youmu. Tell her that Ran was mostly correct in her analysis, however it illustrates that sometimes serving one's master most loyally means saying things they might not want to hear and to act against their wishes. You summoned Ran only to serve as a mathematician in order to re-align a magical construct, but you find her unexpectedly helpful in other situations, like trying to not let you make a fool of yourself in front of polite company. Likewise, were Youmu's sword-arm totally broken, would that mean the end of her service? No, because a good master will find a place for the truly dedicated, for dedication is kingly amongst the virtues of a servant. The deceased however cannot be said to be dedicated, no matter how honorably they spent their last moments. The dead do not respond to orders or pleas; they cannot give advice or provide companionship. Whatever the wisdom or skills they had in life, and whatever potential they had for the future, they become totally useless once they are dead.
-[x] Of course, you're not sure at all about what laws govern half-ghosts & the afterlife or indeed if death would even be an impediment to her duties. You are however extremely hesitant to glorify the decision of any other person to live and die in the service of a specific purpose to the extent you did. This is why you did not surround yourself with allies and armies, and only employed contracts with other when it was both absolutely necessary and likewise in the other individual's interests. The only one who was meant to die for the sake of furthering your own agenda was yourself. For anyone else to die would not make them a good servant, it makes you a poor master.
-[x] Also apologize to Princess Saigyouji for your disrespect in wasting the food that was prepared for you. If possible, you'd like to rectify this hospitably by helping clean up the mess & dirty dishes. Unseen Servant, Mass can do much of the dirty work

The second part because I'd like to hear Youmu's response when she's not under Yuyuko's direct observation, rather than try to jump into the discussion of true resurrection, which Ran should really be present for anyway. I'm unsure of whether or not true resurrection will bring him back to life anyway. The spell is capable of bringing back to life in their original living body undead creatures that are destroyed, but it's unclear whether the original body was Jizo's or Kawarou's. If it's Jizo's, I'm pretty sure it would just fizzle, since the target is unwilling. A revive undead could have restored him to necropolitan form, but I think too much time has elapsed for that to work. A wish or miracle could give him an entirely new body, but he doesn't have access to 9th level spells. A body might not be entirely necessary, though, as I think he'll come to see by interacting with Youmu and Yuyuko, as he at least has some corporeality.

>You don’t doubt it – it’s exactly what you would have done. Deep inside, you can’t help but feel pleased with yourself; there’s no Taint in the projection’s aura at all. Taint is only the source of the power, not the power itself. As long as this other you only uses that power, as opposed to the Taint itself, then the other you hasn’t been tempted into decadence – at least, not yet.

Man, after reading through Heroes of Horror, I look forward to repercussions of this. Since Jizo's mind is only a simulacrum of the intentions of the main character as he 'Ascended' and no longer of the undead subtype, he's now no longer immune to the Taint mechanic. Hence, I expect things to get bad as he is exposed to more and more Taint. Being bodiless, he probably has no Con score and is immune to 'corruption' Taint, but not 'depravity' Taint. He'll be acquiring Taint in massive amounts for the foreseeable future due to the length of time it takes to reverse Taint in areas (over a year with a hallow spell). He might appear normal, but due to the Tainted Scholar's Taint Suppression class feature, his state of corruption could be impossible to tell from appearance alone. He won't even be able to advance in other classes unless he succeeds on a Will save against DC 10+Taint. Even assuming that the Ascension made Jizo a rank 0 quasi-deity, I can't find anything saying gods are unaffected by Taint. So I look forward to seeing him acquire the Abomination subtype.
>> No. 154965
[x] Don’t pursue Lu Bu. Let her go, because you have a meal to enjoy and a conversation to continue with the lady of the house and her servant. Let both Ran and yourself cool off before you talk again, because if you don’t things might actually end up being violent. Meanwhile, you’ll…
-[x] … Apologize to Youmu. Tell her that Ran was mostly correct in her analysis, however it illustrates that sometimes serving one's master most loyally means saying things they might not want to hear and to act against their wishes. You summoned Ran only to serve as a mathematician in order to re-align a magical construct, but you find her unexpectedly helpful in other situations, like trying to not let you make a fool of yourself in front of polite company. Likewise, were Youmu's sword-arm totally broken, would that mean the end of her service? No, because a good master will find a place for the truly dedicated, for dedication is kingly amongst the virtues of a servant. The deceased however cannot be said to be dedicated, no matter how honorably they spent their last moments. The dead do not respond to orders or pleas; they cannot give advice or provide companionship. Whatever the wisdom or skills they had in life, and whatever potential they had for the future, they become totally useless once they are dead.
-[x] Of course, you're not sure at all about what laws govern half-ghosts & the afterlife or indeed if death would even be an impediment to her duties. You are however extremely hesitant to glorify the decision of any other person to live and die in the service of a specific purpose to the extent you did. This is why you did not surround yourself with allies and armies, and only employed contracts with other when it was both absolutely necessary and likewise in the other individual's interests. The only one who was meant to die for the sake of furthering your own agenda was yourself. For anyone else to die would not make them a good servant, it makes you a poor master.
-[x] Also apologize to Princess Saigyouji for your disrespect in wasting the food that was prepared for you. If possible, you'd like to rectify this hospitably by helping clean up the mess & dirty dishes. Unseen Servant, Mass can do much of the dirty work

I'm just gonna go with the wall.
>> No. 154967
>>154953
If anything, wouldn't Sai's mind be the one you could describe as a simulacrum as Jizo is the original actual mind of "SorcAnon", while Sai is the soul that was left behind when they got separated by the Banishment from Gensokyo.
And the body is Gods knows where at this point. Maybe there's a THIRD of them running around somewhere.
>> No. 154970
[x] Give a quick apology before leaving.
[x] Pursue. If Ran thinks she can get away, that’s too bad, because you’re going to chase after her and…
-[x] … and try and smooth things over. She’s your only guide around here, and she did drag you out of the Sanzu. You owe her that much courtesy. And just why did she suddenly become so hostile?
>> No. 154971
If Sai was willing to impinge on hospitality with powerful people in a position to help him (or whom he could at least manipulate) as well as educate him about his new form, he either 1) places very little value on his continued survival, or 2) is dressing down Youmu because she wants to make sure she puts value in her own life. That comment about her 'being saved' has me worried Sai has some kind of savior complex. Probably an artifact of all the people he couldn't save, like his deceased master.

Aside from that it would be a bit schizophrenic of him to on one hamd chide Youmu over the gravity of death immediately before holding light conversation on relatively common ways to cheat it (eg, true res). Having a food fight for an intermission there would only add to this sense of absurdity and caprice.


[X] Don’t pursue Lu Bu. Let her go, because you have a meal to enjoy and a conversation to continue with the lady of the house and her servant. Let both Ran and yourself cool off before you talk again, because if you don’t things might actually end up being violent. Meanwhile, you’ll…
-[X] … Apologize to Youmu. Tell her that Ran was mostly correct in her analysis, however it illustrates that sometimes serving one's master most loyally means saying things they might not want to hear and to act against their wishes. You summoned Ran only to serve as a mathematician in order to re-align a magical construct, but you find her unexpectedly helpful in other situations, like trying to not let you make a fool of yourself in front of polite company. Likewise, were Youmu's sword-arm totally broken, would that mean the end of her service? No, because a good master will find a place for the truly dedicated, for dedication is kingly amongst the virtues of a servant. The deceased however cannot be said to be dedicated, no matter how honorably they spent their last moments. The dead do not respond to orders or pleas; they cannot give advice or provide companionship. Whatever the wisdom or skills they had in life, and whatever potential they had for the future, they become totally useless once they are dead.
-[X] Of course, you're not sure at all about what laws govern half-ghosts & the afterlife or indeed if death would even be an impediment to her duties. You are however extremely hesitant to glorify the decision of any other person to live and die in the service of a specific purpose to the extent you did. This is why you did not surround yourself with allies and armies, and only employed contracts with other when it was both absolutely necessary and likewise in the other individual's interests. The only one who was meant to die for the sake of furthering your own agenda was yourself. For anyone else to die would not make them a good servant, it makes you a poor master.
-[X] Also apologize to Princess Saigyouji for your disrespect in wasting the food that was prepared for you. If possible, you'd like to rectify this hospitably by helping clean up the mess & dishes, with a little help from your shield with a helpful animate object.

We don't need to rely on unseen servants when you've got an amorphous mercurial blob through Item Familiar with an int/wis/cha score that's, by our level, capable of independently casting utility spells (like prestigitation, mending, and Tenser's floating disk--where it's its own material component!), especially when Youmu's already shown interest in it.

I think using that would be superior mass unseen servant. Moreover, as the protagonist's only certain ally, he should be showing some psychological dependence on it.
>> No. 154974
[x] Spar with Youmoe. Physical activity is great for focusing the mind.

I don't care how we get there. Make this happen.
>> No. 154979
File 13334134489.jpg - (355.67KB , 725x1025 , hnnnnnnnnng.jpg ) [iqdb]
154979
>Being bodiless, he probably has no Con score and is immune to 'corruption' Taint, but not 'depravity' Taint. He'll be acquiring Taint in massive amounts for the foreseeable future due to the length of time it takes to reverse Taint in areas (over a year with a hallow spell). He might appear normal, but due to the Tainted Scholar's Taint Suppression class feature, his state of corruption could be impossible to tell from appearance alone. He won't even be able to advance in other classes unless he succeeds on a Will save against DC 10+Taint. Even assuming that the Ascension made Jizo a rank 0 quasi-deity, I can't find anything saying gods are unaffected by Taint.

Jossing this theory and scare of Jizo now; Jizo as an Ascended being is completely immune to the negative effects of Taint... so long as he avoids using it directly. Seeing as Jizo has said he's trying to cleanse the Taint:

>"Now, firstly, that would mean scrubbing the mana that was once the Plane clean of all Taint."

He's unlikely to use the Taint itself as a source of power, understanding that it leads down the path that He took.

But should he somehow or the other acquire, despite his lack of soul and motivation, a more important goal, he may in fact fall...

>And the body is Gods knows where at this point. Maybe there's a THIRD of them running around somewhere.

A body is a vessel for the soul and/or mind. Currently, neither Sai nor Jizo has one, as your original one got consumed by the Ascension, but right now Sai has been/is in worlds where he/you doesn't need one to manifest physically (Higan before, Hakugyokuro now, and by Ran's explanation, Gensokyo) and Jizo has enough power to project a physical image wherever he damn well pleases whenever the heck he needs to interact. Should Sai/you ever travel somewhere else, it may prove more difficult to manifest, and you may not be able to manifest all... but the benefits of your current form are currently without tangible downside.

>various D&D utility spells

Sadly, you have neither unseen servant nor animate objects, as both were spells you had little use for in the demiplane and would have little use combatting Him. You do have prestidigitation, major creation, and telekinesis, but aside from the first, of which you have infinite uses, an eternity of battle training and the realization of limited spells at your disposal makes you quite reluctant to blow a spell slot on a dustpan's work...

>intelligent item familiar

I must clarify now that your item familiar is not at this point intelligent nor empowered in the traditional D&D 3.5 sense. It is attached to your soul, but is otherwise completely unique with its earlier discussed abilities, capable of any creative applications you can possibly think of within such boundaries. Feel free to ask for clarification.

... but continuing on from the previous point, seeing as you can manipulate your shield at great distance (remember how you made a lifelike decoy out of it?) you have no need to use a spell to simulate a broom where a bit of concentration will do.

>relatively common ways to cheat it (eg, true res).

Ahem. True resurrection is A Big Deal - it's still a 9th level spell, which you haven't yet grasped. Also, recall this line from the spell description:

>resurrect a creature that has been dead for as long as 10 years per caster level

Until you can find a way to pump up some Cleric's caster level (aka magical mojo) to insane levels, true resurrection is not usable - you've been dead for centuries. [spoiler]But should you find a way, it's technically possible...[/i]

>Moreover, as the protagonist's only certain ally, he should be showing some psychological dependence on [his shield].

Without intelligence, your shield is clearly not an ally, but a tool. More than a tool, actually - more like a third hand. You aren't used to using it for mundane tasks yet, but there's always a first time...

>[x] Spar with Youmoe. Physical activity is great for focusing the mind.

Don't worry, this is planned somewhere in the future, but whether as a friendly exercise or a battle to the death is unclear for now -

Wait a minute.

>Spar with Youmoe.
>Youmoe
>moe

Pic related.

Also, aren't we close to autosage limit?
>> No. 154980
>>154979
It's shit like this that makes me want to get into D&D. God damned this is so complex and I just want to figure it all out and ragh

Anyways yeah its almost sage limit, might as well make a new thread.
>> No. 154983
>>154980
Just read the Player's Handbook. Flipping through the Monster Manual and Dungeon Master's Guide helps, but the PHB has all you REALLY need to know.

All the other stuff like Taint casting, Iron Heart Surges, multi-class optimization and just general neckbearding will become clear then.

As long as you understand the core mechanics of the game, everything else is just extras.
I mean, I must admit to a general lack of neckbeard here, because I haven't even read the books containing the crutch-whatever ritual or the Taint casting, but since I know how the magic system (Player's Handbook) and being Undead (Monster Manual) works in D&D I can still follow things just fine.
>> No. 154985
>>154980

To be even more helpful, the fundamentals are all here:

http://www.d20srd.org/

Here you can find the basic mechanics of the "under the hood" neckbearding that's going on. HP and AC are kind of being left by the wayside (they don't translate well narratively) but the concept of saving throws still exists. By far the most important thing to consult is the magic system and the hyperlinked sorcerer/wizard spell list. In fact, for a more comprehensive but less user friendly web reference:

http://dndtools.eu/

This site includes almost everything from splats, even most of the really obscure ones, at the expense of having a brick-awkward user interface.

I'll spoonfeed any key information/explanation in narrative form you need afterward - and remember, I reserve the right to kick the rules to the curb if they get in the way of previously established canon or the story at hand.

We can discuss and vote in this thread until my next update; I'll call the vote and update in a new thread.

I'm soooooo exciiited! My first new thread~
>> No. 154986
4th edition is easier for a newcomer to get into though most DnD vets prefer 3.5e or 3e. 4e is also friendlier to those who want to use a melee class as back in 3.xE, Magic casters got very OP and melee classes wound up useless.
>> No. 154989
File 133342802511.gif - (166.44KB , 270x270 , Volumen Hydragyrum.gif ) [iqdb]
154989
>Jossing this theory and scare of Jizo now; Jizo as an Ascended being is completely immune to the negative effects of Taint... so long as he avoids using it directly. Seeing as Jizo has said he's trying to cleanse the Taint:

The intentionality of the MC near the end as I understood it was 'use the the Taint (which he was immune to) to achieve his goals'. The only way of cleansing Taint from an entire plane by RAW requires a practically unlimited number of castings of the level 5 Clc/Drd spell hallow, which for a Sorc requires the repeated use of the level 7 spell limited wish, which although not in this case requiring an XP or materials cost, would require immense numbers of Tainted bonus spells per day to 'scour' a plane in a 40 foot radius with any efficiency. Isn't changing his mind or M.O. based on emergent circumstances a decision that requires a soul he now lacks?

At least with Karsus' Avatar you knew what he was ascending to. Jizo is an 'Ascended' character, a template of some sort that apparently makes him passively immune to Taint, but capable of willfully using it (unlike the Pure Soul feat)? But you're saying he still gets those unlimited Tainted bonus spells per day? Just grant him Pure Soul, make him at least rank 0 divinity and give him the alter reality salient divine ability. Bam. Now he can hallow that Taint whenever he wants, wherever he wants. That's much more to the point. So, what is Jizo now then? An Outsider? Undead? Deathless? Some kind of intelligent, ethereal construct? Give me something. I'd even accept that he's taken on a Sacred Vow [BoED] to cleanse the taint and has been granted temporary divine immunity (or maybe just regular 'cleaning') as special dispensation by Marcus' "Lady".

>Ahem. True resurrection is A Big Deal - it's still a 9th level spell, which you haven't yet grasped.

Right, right. I keep forgetting that even if this is a very high magic setting, it's not necessarily at your fingertips. If we came a across a shrine maiden who could spontaneously cast miracle, or a nekomata that could revive undead however... well, not that the current incorporeality is all that big a deal.

>I must clarify now that your item familiar is not at this point intelligent nor empowered in the traditional D&D 3.5 sense. It is attached to your soul, but is otherwise completely unique with its earlier discussed abilities, capable of any creative applications you can possibly think of within such boundaries. Feel free to ask for clarification.

Requesting clarification in D&D terms, stat it as artifact, or hand-wave it. It's proof that Kawarou is the original who kept his soul, not Jizo. Other than that, it hasn't been relevant for some time, so either talking about it or sparring with Youmu would be good.

Finally, a list of Kawarou's known spells would be nice. I don't ask you for this so I can say 'ah-ha' try to trip you up on it later. I'm genuinely curious as to well you can encapsulate this in d20.

For anyone who wants it, the best searchable database for d20 is the Ultimate SRD v1.6. You can find it on /rs/.
>> No. 154990
Hooooo boy, wall-o-text time. I can do this guiltlessly - I haven't called a vote yet.

>cleansing Taint by RAW; what is Jizo?

Hallow spam isn't enough. The Plane doesn't even physically exist anymore - there's nothing to cast hallow on, and besides, I'd like to think that this magnitude of Taint isn't something a piddly 5th level spell could cleanse anyways.

Jizo said "he's working on finding a way [to cleanse the Taint]", i.e., he hasn't developed a method yet. And whatever it is, it won't be RAW.

We can't stop now. This is homebrew territory.

And by homebrew, I mean plot.

What Jizo exactly is... I'd say your guess of 'intelligent ethereal construct' is closest. A traditional sci-fi AI programmed for a specific purpose is a good comparison.

Jizo is immune to negative effects of Taint as long as he does not intentionally embrace the corruption for greater power. He has divine rank 0 (hero or quasi-deity), which means he does not have a portfolio of concepts to manage nor most of the "divine bullshit" that gods have, but he does unusually has sheer power (caster levels and spell DCs) out the wazoo to the point where he can fight gods (of higher divine rank). Recall as one Anon eloquently put it, he 'bitch-slapped a Yama', and most likely has defenses, if not immunities, capable of protecting him from "higher" gods as well.

Neither you (Sai) nor Jizo worship Marcus's Lady, being of a relatively loner mindset (as of now). While you did make a ploy to get aid through the Lady, you are not Her servant by profession (aka a Cleric, like Marcus). She will not be watching over either of you nor attempting to help you in any way barring another petition - and given how you deceived Her, She's probably not about to welcome you with open arms.

>miracle, revive undead

Recall that like most resurrection spells, revive undead is time dependent, and you've been dead for far too long for anything not on a godly scale to resurrect. And if you want a resurrection that badly, you'll have a job cut out for you: convincing some shrine maiden or god that you deserve it...

>shield properties

The shield is basically the most complicated wondrous item you can think of.

When tightly knit into a small form, such as in the form of a weapon or shield, it is essentially impenetrable like a wall of force, but with the caveat that it is not immovable - attempting to block a falling massive weight will still have the end result of you being splattered. I believe there's a special material somewhere, "riverine", that is essentially "a wall of force" as a material. Think something along that line of durability. You're good enough to use it to block far more attacks than the traditional D&D AC system would allow.

When loosely knit into a large form, such as a Sai-shaped decoy or a large area shield, it is in fact penetrable, but it will blunt the impacts.

The shield grants a high value of SR for your level, making you extremely resistant to the point of near-immunity to the magical abilities of any creatures beneath your level. The shield also boosts your saves.

The shield can only be dispersed at worst. It cannot be destroyed as long as your soul remains intact - dispelling/disjunctioning it has zero effect, and even disintegrate can't damage something that is inherently amorphous anyways. As an extension of your soul, it functions even in areas of anti-/dead magic.

In the mercury, you've suspended blends of completely mundane chemicals that you can mix with a little thought to color the metal. The precision with which you can control this lets you essentially paint any picture you damn well please. These chemical reactions are completely reversible - you will never have to "restock".

You can manipulate its shape and position with a small amount of concentration. It floats in the air of its own accord defying gravity. It maintains its shape afterword without further focus, which is why you generally wear it as a bracer as opposed to constantly focusing to have it float around you like an ioun stone. It moves with you without concentration, and with a great deal of focus can be propelled to high velocities. You will never be able to accelerate it to the point where it resembles a firearm, shooting through people at a distance without any prior warning, but you could gradually accelerate it to a velocity where it could do so, "spinning" it up like an Olympic hammer before releasing it. No, you may not use it as the equivalent of a tactical nuke - it can't go that fast.

The shield can travel a notably far distance from your immediate vicinity without ill effect, and with constant focus can go as far as you want with no permanent consequences. After about a few hundred feet, however, releasing focus will cause the shield to automatically "recall" itself back towards you, dispersing completely and flying back to you in gaseous form.

You can perceive all five senses and any magical methods of perception through the shield, although you cannot cast through it, using it as the origin of the spell.

When morphed into a weapon, it cannot take on "exotic" weapon enhancements like flaming or vampiric, but it a +X weapon where X is some suitably high number, and is capable of enhancements such as keen which enhance a weapon's "weapon-like" nature.

The shield can act as a focus for scrying.

I think I covered everything I can think of now - feel free to ask for additional details that fit along these lines.

>list of known spells

Hooooooooooooooooooo boy I haven't gotten into this myself, personally. Again, you have a lot of "signature" spells that are reliable and flexible, such as orb of force, disintegrate, and telekinesis, as I've shown, but you also have extended spell lists in what I declared as your specializations: abjuration, divination, and illusion. I'll try and write an abbreviated list up later.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I hope I don't seem like I'm trolling you with incomplete information; I am truly doing my best to answer these questions.
>> No. 154994
>shield-chat
Make it a hat. Hat problem solved.
>> No. 155007
[ ] Pursue. If Ran thinks she can get away, that’s too bad, because you’re going to chase after her and…
-[ ] … and try and smooth things over. She’s your only guide around here, and she did drag you out of the Sanzu. You owe her that much courtesy. And just why did she suddenly become so hostile?

Don't care about which sub-option wins, I just want to pursue Ran.
>> No. 155009
[X] Don’t pursue Lu Bu. Let her go, because you have a meal to enjoy and a conversation to continue with the lady of the house and her servant. Let both Ran and yourself cool off before you talk again, because if you don’t things might actually end up being violent. Meanwhile, you’ll…
-[X] … Apologize to Youmu. Tell her that Ran was mostly correct in her analysis, however it illustrates that sometimes serving one's master most loyally means saying things they might not want to hear and to act against their wishes. You summoned Ran only to serve as a mathematician in order to re-align a magical construct, but you find her unexpectedly helpful in other situations, like trying to not let you make a fool of yourself in front of polite company. Likewise, were Youmu's sword-arm totally broken, would that mean the end of her service? No, because a good master will find a place for the truly dedicated, for dedication is kingly amongst the virtues of a servant. The deceased however cannot be said to be dedicated, no matter how honorably they spent their last moments. The dead do not respond to orders or pleas; they cannot give advice or provide companionship. Whatever the wisdom or skills they had in life, and whatever potential they had for the future, they become totally useless once they are dead.
-[X] Of course, you're not sure at all about what laws govern half-ghosts & the afterlife or indeed if death would even be an impediment to her duties. You are however extremely hesitant to glorify the decision of any other person to live and die in the service of a specific purpose to the extent you did. This is why you did not surround yourself with allies and armies, and only employed contracts with other when it was both absolutely necessary and likewise in the other individual's interests. The only one who was meant to die for the sake of furthering your own agenda was yourself. For anyone else to die would not make them a good servant, it makes you a poor master.
-[X] Also apologize to Princess Saigyouji for your disrespect in wasting the food that was prepared for you.
>> No. 155011
[x] Pursue. If Ran thinks she can get away, that’s too bad, because you’re going to chase after her and…
-[x] … and try and smooth things over. She’s your only guide around here, and she did drag you out of the Sanzu. You owe her that much courtesy. And just why did she suddenly become so hostile?
>> No. 155020
>>155007
reeks of brainless routefaggotry.
>> No. 155067
>>154994
>hat

Like what? A mercury halo?
>> No. 155069
>>155067
Whatever kind of hat he feels like? It can change shape and color and moves with his body. That means he'll never, ever lose it, no matter how windy it is or how many called shots to the hat he takes.
>> No. 155084
File 133368137093.jpg - (336.03KB , 1000x900 , ran amber.jpg ) [iqdb]
155084
>>155020
>route faggotry

We're already on the Ran route. The name of this story is 'Tainted Bonds' and begins with the MC summoning Ran and entering a shikigami pact.

>>154917
>"Inevitables, they were called – spirits of law. But after The Great War, such agents disappeared.”

Good. Modrons are the superior Lawful exemplar.

>Marcus and his Lady. The Lady is one of those gods who doesn’t align Herself with one of the nine afterlifes, but instead is purely dedicated to the existence of life. I suppose that’s the reason why she acted – it’s part of her portfolio to act in such a way.

Is this 'Lady' a homebrew goddess? I assume she probably has a relatively low divine rank, but is she at least capable of turning Marcus into a proxy?
>> No. 155210
File 133390834416.jpg - (8.12KB , 192x192 , imagesCAV2OTL1.jpg ) [iqdb]
155210
>>154953

Going to toss my vote in with that one. It simply won't do to be such a rude house guest. If Ran has been thinking about Sai for two years straight chances are we can come to an understanding later. Also,

[x]Inquiry about her relationship with gap hag. If possible, subtly dig for any details that might prepare us to meet her.

Doesn't hurt to get a head start on prepping for what is certainly going to be an inevitable encounter. I would also like to ask how much Sai knows about Yukari. Sure she is hibernating but for how much longer? Its been made clear he knows her abilities to an extent but is that it? I would imagine that he did not delve beyond that being largely unrequired to fulfilling his goals at the time.

Go go gadget charisma.
>> No. 163124
Thread 2: >>155091
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