Made a deal she shouldn't have, for people that really didn't deserve it.
Poor, stupid little rabbit.
Made a deal and didn't think of herself.
Didn't think of her kin.
Poor, naive little rabbit.
Three favors owed, for three lives traded.
For a life thrice, a poor little rabbit must repay in kind.
Poor little rabbit.
Today's been a good day, by your standards.
You've managed to extricate yourself from one of Tewi's traps in shorter time than normal, and you've managed to keep your clothes mostly intact. Eirin hasn't even slipped anything into your breakfast.
You guess that's probably because you made your breakfast yourself. Well, and for everyone else.
Hell, later tonight, you might even have some time to relax and read a good book.
Lunch was excellent as well- Tewi had helped out, even. The carrot cake she made was to die for.
Dinner's not for an hour yet, and it's Kaguya's turn to make it. Either she's going to call out for pizza, or she'll attempt cooking herself.
You wince at the thought of what happened last time. The scorch marks took forever to get out, not to mention the oven burnt completely through the bottom, as though there had been a radioactive meltdown.
Might not be a terrible idea to borrow Okuu's geiger counter, now that you think about it.
“Well, Kaguya, what have you planned for dinner?”
She shrugs. “I hadn't planned much. I was considering ordering Chinese.”
“Again? Come on, I'll help you out with dinner.” It's not an offer you'd tend to extend to Kaguya, but hey. Today's been a good day. Your luck might even hold. “Did you want some stir-fry? It's easy to make, and I think you'll do good with it.”
A smile touches the edges of Kaguya's mouth, if only for a moment. “You'll help me out with dinner?”
“Of course. I think this is something you can get used to. We're going to need some meat, tofu, and a bunch of vegetables.”
“Can we have steak? I haven't had that in a while.”
“Sure. Get out the beef, and start cutting it up for me, would you?”
Halfway through the preparation, Kaguya's managed to not cut herself, not drop knives, and not set anything on fire. This is going better than planned.
“Now you just add some oil to the bottom of the wok, and start heating it up.” You've got an electric wok, so this is fairly simple, no open flames for terrible things to happen.
“How will we know the oil's ready?”
“Well, it's simple. We don't want it too hot to burn, but we also don't want it cold. Let me show you a trick.”
You fill a small bowl with water.
“Now, what you're going to do, is dip your fingers in the bowl, and flick some water on the oil.”
“Okay...” She does so. Nothing happens. “What was supposed to happen?”
“It's not hot enough yet. Give it a minute, and we'll try again.”
Kaguya leans back against the counter. “Thanks for helping me out, Reisen. I really appreciate this.”
“I try, occasionally.” You smile.
You and Kaguya sit there in companionable silence for a bit. Today really has been a good day.
Kaguya flicks water at the wok again, and the oil crackles and jumps. “Oh!”
“And that's how you know it's hot enough. Come on, let's put the meat in, we'll toss the tofu in after we get the seasonings in as well.
“This is an excellent meal, Kaguya!” Eirin can't help but be proud of Kaguya for not making the kitchen look like a Chernobyl re-enactment.
“I'm gonna be honest with you, I'm real surprised that you did so well, Kaguya. I didn't think you had it in you.” Rare praise from Tewi. Hell must have frozen over.
Dinner passes without incident, and you're reclining under a tree, reading one of your favorite books.
Well, series of books, really.
Tewi comes up behind you. “What'cha readin'?”
“Ah, not much. A history, of sorts.”
“A history? Sounds boring.”
“Not boring as you might think. The author wasn't too concerned with little things like 'facts' and 'realism' when he wrote his history.”
“What's it called?”
“Romance of the Three Kingdoms, by Luo Guanzhong.”
“That's such an odd name for an author. And a romance? Now I'm interested.”
You chuckle. “Not a romance like you'd think, Tewi.”
“Where'd you get them from?”
“Borrowed them from Akyuu, at the moment. She's got lots and lots of books. I could get one for you next time I go out, if you want.”
“I'd... actually like that. Thanks, Reisen.”
The night has arrived, and the day has gone entirely excellently.
You yawn as you step into your room.
You freeze, and your blood runs cold. There is an envelope on the head of your bed. Your gun is next to it.
Today had been going so well.
And you had hoped they had forgotten the favors you owed.
Slowly, ever so slowly, as if you were made of glass, you tiptoe over to the envelope, of finest vellum, and pick it up delicately, as though it were made of razors.
I hope you had not thought I had forgotten. Bargains had been struck. And now I require you to make good on them.
You know that what has been given may be taken back, should you not fulfill your end. But of course I needn't remind you.
Three days hence should this favor be fulfilled, else I will be displeased.
The only thing left in the letter is a name.
It certainly isn't a signature.
There are entirely too few stories starring Reisen, and I hope you enjoy this. It is also not in /eientei/ as I fully expect to encompass the whole of Gensokyo.
...Well, actually, you haven't got the slightest clue who this is.
Toysatomimi no Miko? The name's a mouthful, too.
No, you know what? Screw it. Screw it, I'm going to sleep, and when I get up in the morning, this is all going to be gone.
With that firmly decided in your mind, you set aside the letter on your desk, and your gun inside the drawer.
The morning light isn't something that normally wakes you up. Normally you're woken up by something of Tewi's design. You remember one time where she'd set up a massive speaker stage and nearly blown out your eardrums.
You're a bit more high-strung this morning.
The first finger of morning light is enough for you to climb out of bed and see if the letter is still there, and if this is all just a terrible dream.
It's still there.
This isn't a dream.
They've called in a favor.
Poor little rabbit.
Breakfast this morning is just cereal with milk- you just can't bring yourself to do anything more.
Well, it's not like you didn't know this day was going to come anyway.
Breakfast is over, and you can see Tewi creeping up on you out of the corner of your eye. You think you're not going to just let her do whatever she has in mind today.
“Hey Tewi. What kind of book did you want from Akyuu? I was planning on going down to the Human Village today.”
Tewi freezes, obviously miffed that you noticed her. “Um. Well... I haven't decided. You pick a good one for me, okay?”
“Well, what kind of book do you want?”
“I don't know! Surprise me!”
“Alright, grumpypants. Tell Eirin I'm going out.”
“When will you be back?”
“Eh, couple days or so? I've got to go visit a friend.”
“Oh ho ho ho ho~. Is it Youmu?”
“Wha- Why do you always assume these things!?”
“It is! I knew it!” She starts dancing in triumph. “Reisen and Youmu, sitting in a tree~”
She stops singing, because you have, how you say, “put boot to arse.”
She's still laughing though.
It's almost a shame you didn't think to include her in the deal.
Well, decision time. What to do, where to go?
[ ] Stay here. Screw the bargain.
[ ] Human Village.
– [ ] Go see Akyuu.
– – [ ] Suggest a book.
– [ ] Elsewhere in the Human Village.
[ ] Go see Youmu. N-no! I can't see her right now!
[ ] One of the shrines, maybe?
– [ ] Hakurei Shrine.
– [ ] Moriya Shrine.
– [ ] Myourin Temple.
[ ] Youkai Mountain.
[ ] Scarlet Devil Mansion N-now why would I want to go there?!
[ ] Write-in.
[X] One of the shrines, maybe?
– [X] Hakurei Shrine.
Myouren Temple is hostile to Miko, but also too close for comfort for my op+inion. Perhaps go there when we're more prepared to confront Miko. I think the Hakurei shrine maiden could help us gather info on Miko though.
The wording is a bit iffy to me though, as there are several possible interpretations:
1. Reisen made a deal to presumably perform three assassinations (Three favors owed), in return for three people to not die/to be saved from death.
2. Reisen made a deal to presumably perform three assassinations (Three favors owed), in return for three people of her choosing dead.
3. Reisen made a deal to presumably perform three assassinations (three lives traded), for some three of yet unspecified favors that have been granted to her.
4. Reisen made a deal to presumably perform three assassinations (three lives traded), in return for in return for three people to not die/to be saved from death/to be killed (three favors owed).
In any case, if the penalty for reneging on her end of the bargain is the withdrawal of the actions of the other person, it would be nice to know exactly what that entails. I'm also getting a very "deal with the devil" type vibe here, so I'm not ruling out reality warps (changing the cirumstances of her life, maybe?) as part of the deal, or as penalty (to reset a death, for instance) for not holding up her end of the deal.
Sage for me possibly being a giant retard and overanalysing and/or misinterpreting a simple statement.
[x] Go see Akyuu.
– [x] Suggest a book about Taoism.
Bicycles are pretty awesome things. They take trips that could take an entire day, and make them a couple of hours. Considering how much someone always seems to “need” something in Eientei, compared with their complete unwillingness to do it their selves (Eirin's always “busy”, Kaguya's just lazy, Mokou just becomes generally unpleasant, and Tewi just leads to bad things happening,) it's made your life a lot easier.
Sometimes you kind of wish you had someone to order around. You don't think you'd be a very good taskmaster, though- you'd feel bad about it when you were making them do things.
Yes, you know very well it doesn't make any sense!
And the bike ride to the Human Village is relaxing. Riding down a footpath down a forest in the morning is really a great way to start your day: the chirping of birds, and the sun breaking through the gaps in the leaves. Shame nobody else really ever shares the morning with you. Kaguya... is kind of hard to get out of bed in the morning, unless she smells breakfast. Eirin... kind of loses track of time. And Tewi, well, you've stopped trying to wake her up. So you've made breakfast this morning, and left it out for when they get up. Eventually.
You realize that you should probably pick up bacon too when you're at the village.
While you're thinking of all this, you almost ride past a small (well, by Eientei standards) building, across the street from where Keine keeps her schoolhouse. While it's not as large a library as the one kept by Patchouli in the Scarlet Devil Mansion, you rather enjoy Akyuu's library more. There's less occult texts that will try and eat your ears.
That happened once.
Incidentally, Akyuu's also one of your favorite people to just relax and have a cup of tea with. And she's got books. You rather like books.
You lean your bicycle up against the side of Akyuu's library, and walk in. The sound of running water from the back fills the room.
“Ah, Akyuu, could you put on enough water so I can have a cup of tea as well?”
“Of course. Make yourself at home.”
It's a library, but not musty-smelling like Patchouli's- rather, Akyuu believes that having open air, and natural light contributes to the enjoyment. You rather agree. The scent of wildflowers is a perpetual sort of thing- they're scattered throughout the library, enhancing the effect. You could get lost in here for hours. Not too many other people have the same kind of appreciation for books in Gensokyo, and those that do, aren't really interested if the books don't teach you some sort of magic. There's something to be said for having a library that Marisa doesn't even try to steal things from. So you and Akyuu have grown rather close, and have spent many an hour just relaxing and reading together.
As you're perusing the shelves, and placing the last edition of Romance of the Three Kingdoms that you read back into place, you pluck the next one from the shelf. Akyuu comes in, and places two teacups on a small table.
“Ah, good morning, Reisen. I'm glad to see you.”
“Likewise. How's your week been?”
“Not bad at all. Keine's been helping me out with the history of this so-called 'War of the Roses.'” Keine and Akyuu get along rather well- being as one has a vested interest in collecting history, and one can see most history, they're two of the best friends in Gensokyo.
“Can't complain. Almost finished another volume on that war.”
“I'd definitely be interested to read it when you're done.”
“You could read it now, if you like.”
“I would, but I cannot bear to stop in the middle of a series.”
Akyuu chuckles. “Luo Guanzhong was a hack, anyway.”
“So, I'm looking for a book for Tewi as well.”
“Really? Finally managed to get her to be literate?” She manages to deliver those lines as dry as possible, sometimes. That's a kind of humor you've always been kind of bad at. “Miracles do happen.”
“Heh. I want to get her something that'll have her think, but something I haven't read yet either, so when she gets bored, I'll be able to read it myself.”
Akyuu thinks for a moment. “You think philosophy will go over well?”
You shrug. “Maybe. Worth a shot.”
“You've already read Nichirin, so that's out... Nietzche? Nah, too depressing for Tewi. Siddhartha's always a classic, but... nope. How about Laozi, maybe Zhuangzi?”
“They're some Taoist philosophers- Laozi started the whole thing, really. Wrote the Daodejing- confusing as hell, really. Pain in the ass to translate. Zhuangzi came after him, and expanded on the same sort of thing- but at least he's not so blatantly mystical.”
“Sure, could be fun. Let's try the Zhuangzi.”
“Mkay.” Akyuu disappears back into the stacks, while you sip your tea. Simple green tea. It's good stuff. How people can start their day with bitter, bitter coffee is beyond you.
You hear Akyuu mumbling to herself back in the bookshelves. “Could have sworn I had it. Ah, I remember. Hey, Reisen.”
“I've kind of lent both of those out at the moment.”
“Ah, what was her name... right, Toysatomimi no Miko.”
It's a good thing that Akyuu's in the back- you've never had a good poker face, and your face is now entirely white.
You try to keep a quavering note out of your voice. “Wh-Who's that?” Welp.
“New-ish girl, apparently. Lives under the Myourin 'temple',” -you can pretty much hear her doing the finger quotes, “and says she's into 'analyzing Buddhist religious texts from a Taoist perspective'. Or something like that.” Akyuu's always preferred history.
“Well, if you're into that sort of thing. Aside from that, there's plenty of other texts.”
[ ] Get Tewi something else.
[ ] Welp. I guess Tewi doesn't get a book.
[ ] You always could go and see Toysatomimi no Miko...
[ ] Write-in.
[x] You always could go and see Toyosatomimi no Miko...
“Well. Maybe a romance will do decently for Tewi. In fact... now that I think about it, she did seem more interested in the 'romance' part of Romance of the Three Kingdoms.”
“Romances? Really? Come on, Reisen. You know they're not worth the paper they're printed on.”
You blush a little. That one's hit a little close to home. Akyuu must never know about the piles and piles of cheap dime-store romance novels that Rinnosuke has hooked you up with. And you can't let Tewi know about that. You'd never hear the end of it!
“What, you don't have one?”
Akyuu sighs. “I've got quite a few.” She grabs a book from the very bottom shelf of the bookshelf in front of her, and flips it to you.
“Yeah. It's about some girl who goes on her honeymoon, gets transported 200 years back in time, and meets her husband's ancestor.”
“That... sounds oddly familiar.”
Akyuu's fixed you with another one of those dry stares. “No. Really.”
Well, between some guy who asks all kinds of youkai to dinner, some asshole wizard, some guy who's part of a battleship but in a battleship that walks on land (No, it doesn't make sense to you either,) and a sapient hamster...
You guess the point was made.
Akyuu's kind of zoned out, she's already picked out another book and is flipping through it quietly.
“A-Anyways, Akyuu, I've got a couple more errands to run. Thanks for the books!”
“Yeah, no problem. Just come by again sometime soon, okay?”
And with that, you duck out of Akyuu's place, with your intent on going to the Myourin Temple- less a temple, more a crashed ship, but, you know, technicality. However. When you step out, in the press of humans, you see a different shrine miko than you were looking for.
Normally Reimu isn't really a problem for you, as you do your best to stay off of her radar. But something in your body language had to have tipped her off, as she looks in your direction. And frowns.
And starts heading your way.
She's still a block or two away, so you've got time to make good your escape. If that's what you're planning, of course.
[ ] Run away! Reimu makes the trains run on time. And that's terrible.
[ ] Maybe she's not actually suspicious of me. Maybe I can talk my way out of it.
[ ] Hide! Like running away, but with more hiding!
[ ] Eyes? It can lead to terrible things but... um, it works. Most of the time. I hope.
>Well, between some guy who asks all kinds of youkai to dinner, some asshole wizard, some guy who's part of a battleship but in a battleship that walks on land (No, it doesn't make sense to you either,) and a sapient hamster...
I see what you did there.
[x] Maybe she's not actually suspicious of me. Maybe I can talk my way out of it.
Reisen does not seem the type to be able to talk someone out of suspicion, so if Reimu IS suspicious and we DO talk to her, we're fucked.
But why would she be? Is she just a little curious? Would she be able to tell we're up to something if we talk to her? Hmmm...
[X] Maybe she's not actually suspicious of me. Maybe I can talk my way out of it.
Okay. Stay calm. You can do this. Poker face. Never let them see you sweat. Yeah. Yeah, you got this. No sweat at all. Reimu can't see into your mind. Besides, you haven't even done anything yet. Yeah. She's got nothing. Nothing at all.
“H-hey, Reimu, what's, um... what's going on?”
She seems to inspect you with that look of hers. “Nothing. You look out of sorts today, Reisen. What's on your mind?”
“Nothing! Nothing at all! Nothing of course why would you think such a thing?”
“Really.” She smiles. She manages to make a smile look like the second coming of the Inquisition. “You've got a terrible poker face, Reisen. What are you hiding?”
Shit. Shit shit shit shit shit shit shit. When Reimu takes an interest in things, it makes it a lot harder for anyone to go about unnoticed. She might not pay attention to these sorts of things, but when Gensokyo's chief troubleshooter thinks you might be trouble to shoot, everybody notices.
“Does Eirin have you going off on some terribly embarrasing errand? Or did you lose a bet with Tewi? Or...” She chuckles a bit to herself before she continues, “Might you be doing something a bit more... sinister?”
If you weren't so busy wringing your hands and trying to think of a way to get out of this, you'd be busy rolling your eyes and airily dismissing that idea out of hand. Oh, and there's the fact that she's probably right.
“N-no! Of course not!” You start waving your hands around to emphasize the point. “I'm just here to see Akyuu!”
At this time, helped by the frantic waving of your arms and hands, the romance novel you'd gotten for Tewi falls out of your bag.
Reimu bends down and picks it up. “Outlander?” The cover illustration is the most stereotypically trashy dime-store romance novel thing there is. Some maiden in a billowing white dress, being embraced by a muscular, shirtless man with blonde hair like Fabio, standing atop a mossy rock while waves crash in the background.
Reimu's grin widens knowingly. “Trashy romance novels, Reisen? I'd have never guessed.”
You're confused. And then you're embarrassed. And then you realize it: divine providence has given you your out.
“Yeah well you see it's this sort of thing it's not for me but it's totally something a book but I got it for someone else and it's not the kind of thing I'd read anyway-”
Your mouth is running a mile a minute, but in the back of your mind, where you always imagined a mini-you sitting at a control desk full of buttons and levers driving you, mini-you is slouched back in her seat, breathing heavily from panic, followed by relief.
That. Was real close.
Reimu puts a finger to your lips. You shut up instantly. “Shh. Don't worry about it. I won't tell Aya about it if you do me a favor...”
You breathe a sigh of relief again. Externally, this time. “But, I don't know, I'm real busy right now...”
“It's a small favor. I need someone to help me with cleaning up the shrine, and getting it ready for Tanabata.”
“But... Tanabata isn't traditionally a festival people go to shrines for.”
“Who cares? Someone might. And then they might hook me up with some cash. I'm running low on money, and I don't want to have to go on a diet of packaged ramen. And if you do this, I'll owe you a favor.”
[ ] I'msorryI'vetotallygotsomewheretoseebutitwasgreatseeingyoubye!
[ ] Well, it's not like I've got anything better to do. Sure, I guess.
[ ] Write-in.
[X] Well, it's not like I've got anything better to do. Sure, I guess.
Where does the day go? As you're slowly cycling next to Reimu, you can see that the sun is beginning to set, and an orange glow covers the sky. It's about an hour and a half to the Hakurei Shrine- faster, of course, if you weren't keeping to a walking pace. During the ride there, you and Reimu engage in idle chatter- about books, mostly. Reimu's not much into romances, preferring a good thriller, the likes of decent Crichton. Of course, that was before he became a “hack”, as she calls it.
You're willing to let her take the conversational lead, because it allows you to simply relax and enjoy the bike ride, while just occasionally contributing to the conversation with a “uh-huh”, “yes”, or other general things.
As you ride up through the torii at the entrance to the Shrine, you dismount your bike and start to walk it up the steps as you walk up with Reimu. Riding down those steps would be a pain in the ass, if you have to make a quick escape.
Can't believe you've gotten rattled enough so that you're already thinking in those terms.
Ah well. Nothing for it, just got to take it easy.
As you crest the hill, something seems odd. The Hakurei Shrine is in good order, and looks recently swept. You file this in the back of your mind, and lean your bike against the torii at the top of the steps.
You stretch, and Reimu says, “How about a cup of tea?”
Tea. One of the great pleasures of anyone's life. How people drink coffee to relax is beyond you. Sure, it smells good. Tastes like ass, though. And feels like an acidic lump in your stomach.
“Please. Tea would be excellent.”
You follow Reimu into the living area of the shrine, where she lives day-to-day.
“I'll put on the water to boil, make yourself at home.”
Reimu leaves to the small kitchen, and makes the tea.
While she's doing that, you scan your surroundings, and notice that Reimu really, really doesn't need your help to clean. She's obviously asked you here for another reason. Her spartan surroundings are clean enough, even though she's left her futon out on top of the tatami. Well, it's not like she really needs the floor space when she's gone all day, right? Aside from a few portraits and landscapes hung on the wall, a small, lacquered table in the middle of the room, and her small bookshelf, Reimu has a fairly simple home.
She comes back with two empty mugs, and a teapot. “Let's go sit outside and look at the sunset.”
She'd left the door open when you came in, so she doesn't have to open it with her hands full.
“You didn't ask me to help you clean up for Tanabata, did you?”
Reimu smiles. “The place being clean gave it away, didn't it?”
“Yeah, kind of.”
“Well, yeah, I kind of lied to you about that.”
“So what's on your mind, Reimu?”
“Well, I get this feeling that something's up. Not sure what.”
“What do you mean, 'something's up'?”
“Well, for example, before all of the incidents, I've always noticed that the fairies always get a bit antsy beforehand. So I watch them, and see if I can't see something coming. Like how a dog or cat always seems to know about weather before it happens, you know?”
Fairies. Of course they'd know something's up. It's their fault anyway. “So... what, you think someone's up to something?”
“Nah. I know it. I just don't know what.”
“So why are you telling me this?”
“Honestly? I don't know why you. You're just a nice person, Reisen, that's all. I don't really get the chance to get things off my chest like this, and I haven't talked to you in a while. So I figured I'd bounce my ideas off of you.”
“Oh.” Well. That makes sense. At least she doesn't know what is up. And it might not even be related to you. That'd be a nice change.
Reimu pours herself a cup of tea, and fills yours up. You and Reimu sit there for a while, as the evening slowly darkens, and the sun sets.
“So, Reimu, what do you plan to do?”
She shrugs. “Only thing I can do, I guess. Wait and see? It'd be nice to get a jump on one of these incidents for once. I was hoping maybe you'd know something.”
More than you think. “Not really.”
“Eh.” She takes another sip of tea. “Well, I did want to ask you a favor, though, Reisen.”
“When whatever it is goes down, I want someone I can trust at my back. You willing to help me out with it when it happens?”
Um. Well... “Yeah, of course.” Dammit. You wish you could take your words back. Bit late now, though.
“I'm glad. You're one of the nicest people I know here, Reisen. Not many people would take the time out of their day just to help someone clean up. That sort of thing is why I think I can trust you.” She finishes her tea. “What are you planning to do tonight? It's probably not the best idea to go... wherever it was you were going tonight. Where were you going, anyway?”
“To go and see if I couldn't get a book from the Myourin Temple.”
“Ah. Yeah, that's a ways, even with your bike. You're welcome to stay the night, Reisen. Of course, I can't force you to stay, but it'd be my pleasure to have you as a guest.”
[ ] Stay the night at Reimu's.
– [ ] Midnight Full Moon
– [ ] Pixie Ring
[ ] Go somewhere else.
– [ ] Where?
So far, so good. Still plenty of time to fulfill that first favor.
[x] Stay the night at Reimu's.
– [x] Midnight Full Moon
Plenty of time to have a nerve-wrackingrelaxing night with Reimu. I'm not sure what the subvotes mean, but I'm guessing it's Eientei-focused dream or deal-focused dream, maybe? She did mention fairies were the cause of all this.
I'm really liking the low-key characterization and tone going on here. This situation wouldn't feel tense at all if Reisen wasn't so jumpy.
[x] Stay the night at Reimu's.
– [x] Midnight Full Moon
“Well, to be honest, I'd rather not roll out of here at night.”
Reimu claps her hands. “Excellent. I'll get out another futon for you.” She lifts one of the tatami mats to reveal a secret compartment with another futon in it. Convenient. Explains where all her things are. She gets busy moving the table and mats over to the corner to allow enough room for you to sleep.
“You think I could take a bath beforehand, Reimu?”
“Sure, there's the hot spring in the back.”
You step out of the house and pad over to the hot spring- Reimu's obviously given it some thought to privacy, as she's walled off a small portion of it with bamboo.
Okay. Gotta relax. Reimu doesn't suspect anything, in fact, it's better than that: she thinks we're on her side.
You do your best to calm yourself down as you disrobe and slip into the water. The soothing hot spring should help, too.
And you amuse yourself by blowing some bubbles with your mouth underwater.
You lean back against the edge of the spring, and look up. It's later than you thought. In fact, judging by the position of the moon, it's probably about midnight. And the moon is full.
Sometimes you get to thinking.
You know that Hourai Elixir? That Eirin made that together with Kaguya?
Yeah, not so much. It was made to happen that way. Why hasn't Eirin made more? Officially, it's forbidden on the moon. And so she says. Unofficially? As her lab assistant, she simply “just can't remember what the last step was.” And it bothers her. Not too much, she keeps busy. But she just can't put her finger on the last ingredient.
There isn't a last ingredient.
You had bargained for three lives. You were, however, not specific with the method. And the fairies used that against you. This is why Mokou is protected, while Tewi is not.
Two out of three isn't bad, right? And the fairies wouldn't be cruel enough to make you...
No. No, you can't let yourself be thinking like that. That just leads to a feedback loop which leads to you getting more stressed out and worried. You dunk your face into the hot spring to wash those thoughts away.
The water is hot. That was kind of not the brightest idea. Right. Wash your ears. Clear your mind. Clear your mind. You try and meditate and get the last bit of stress out of your system.
And you come right back to it.
Why did you do it? It wasn't one of your best ideas. And you executed it terribly and Jesus Christ you are done thinking about this right now!
You stand up, resolved to march right out of the springs and not think about this anymore. And then you realize you should probably get dressed before you march out.
You rummage around a bit in your traveling bag, and put on a nightshirt and pajama pants.
The crickets are chirping tonight, the moon's out and full, and goddamnit you are going to relax before you have to get down to business tomorrow.
That resolved, you march back to the house, and slide the door open. “Hey Reimu?”
She's passed out already, fast asleep. Splayed across both futons. That's impressive, in its own way.
But now there's the question of what to do about that. Can't be doing business without sleep.
[ ] Slowly edge one of the futons out from under Reimu.
[ ] Screw it. Just cuddle up to Reimu.
[ ] Write-in.
>Fairies. Of course they'd know something's up. It's their fault anyway.
I had wondered about this after last update. Guess now we know the context.
So, the fairies (no evidence yet as to which, plus I can't think of any canon characters who could have pulled this off) seem to be the antagonists. Very interesting, as well as rather confusing.
But, either this is taking some authorial leniencies with the timeline, there's significantly more to it than we know yet, or it doesn't make much sense. In canon Kaguya and Mokou (and I guess Eirin is the third) were immortal long before Reisen knew Mokou existed, IIRC. And Reisen wouldn't have met Tewi, or fairies, until coming to Earth (again after the aforementioned characters were turned immortal), so I'm not sure when this deal would have been made.
If this turns out to be slightly AU I'll be fine with it, if it turns out to be justified and fitting with canon I'll be impressed.
As for the vote...
[x] Screw it. Just cuddle up to Reimu.
>>158804 All right, thanks for clearing that up. There's probably a couple particularly convoluted ways you could have justified it, like the Watatsukis and Reisen having come to Japan earlier in history, but it's probably easier to just call it this way.
...So, wait, Kaguya/Mokou aren't thousands of years old in this? Huh.
>>158805 Yup! The way I would have justified it if I were to try to keep it canon would have been TIME TRAVEL SHENANIGANS but that is really, really hard to keep track of and do well. I do want to do something involving time travel eventually, just not this story. Probably.
Eh, screw it. The way she seems to sleep, it'd be like fighting a tide. Not worth the effort. You do, however, edge a pillow out from beneath Reimu's head enough to fit yours on. And you get to be the big spoon.
You wake to the soft glow of morning light beginning to filter in through the paper walls. Reimu didn't move much through the night after you wrapped her up in your embrace. It's just one of those things- you've never been able to get to sleep without something to hold on to, be it a person or just a pile of blankets.
You had a dream last night, something about a fairy ring. You've never been particularly good at remembering dreams, though. Eh. If it was important, it'll be back again, you guess.
Incidentally, as the morning glow suffuses the room, Reimu still sleeps like a rock. Well. Now what?
[ ] Get up, start making breakfast.
[ ] Get up, disappear before Reimu wakes up.
[ ] Stay sleeping here with Reimu. N-no! Time's wasting! And you'd be so embarrassed if she woke up with you two like this! [ ] Write-in.
Apologies for the short update, I wanted to get this choice in. I plan to update tomorrow (well, later today) or the day after with a more substantial one.
>>158976 You can't tell me what to do. This might be her last chance to do anything like this.
[x] Stay sleeping here with Reimu.
Instead of seeing Reimu as an obstacle to carrying out these "favors", maybe she could help us find a way out of it? Or are we really planning to go kill 3 touhous and everything's settled, the end? How is Reisen even going to kill a youkai, anyway?
Part of you wants to stay in bed. It's a good morning, and you're loath to get up. Those lazy mornings are nice. A smaller, more panicky part of your mental parliament is frantically banging away at her desk to be recognized, and motions for you to get the hell out.
Nobody seconds the motion.
The representative sits down in her chair, in a huff. “Don't say I didn't warn you!”
Okay, that's kind of odd. Time to stop thinking in terms of mental Parliament. Besides, the Lower House is just a madhouse.
Right. Breakfast time. Can't do anything on an empty stomach. You can think while you cook. Cooking's always been a great stress reliever.
You slowly edge off of Reimu, being careful not to wake her up. She mumbles something incoherent as you slip away, but you can make out a soft “Nooo, don' wanna get up. Come back~”
...Right. Leaving that right where it is, and not even taking it up with Parliament I swear to God this is getting vetoed.
You stand, stretch, and duck into Reimu's bathroom to quickly wash your face and change. Since you're not in Eientei today, and Eirin's not there to complain at you, you've brought some less-formal clothes- a tank top over a T-shirt. And a skirt, too. Skirts are much better than pants, no matter what Mokou keeps saying about the virtues of pants.
With that done, you're back in the main room, and Reimu's still passed out. How she gets anything done when she sleeps like a rock like that is beyond you. Well.
In the small kitchen, you open Reimu's icebox. And by icebox, you mean “box with ice in it.” Reimu doesn't have the amenities available to you in Eientei (namely electricity), but it's still a good setup. You pluck out a couple of eggs, grab a skillet from the rack, and light Reimu's small gas range.
You break the eggs open into a bowl, and, mixing some cheese that Reimu'd had in there with a bit of sliced meat that you tore up, you start beating the eggs. Once that's done, you pour the eggs into the skillet, and get out another, smaller skillet for bacon.
It's about the time the bacon starts sizzling and giving off its beautiful smell that Reimu wakes up.
“Bacon... Marry me, Reisen.”
You chuckle at her joke. “I'll have to take a raincheck on that. Where's your teapot, anyway? Gotta have something to drink.”
She hands you the teapot, and you put it on the last burner. “So how'd you sleep?”
You shrug. “Well enough.”
“Well enough, she says. Touchy-feely, I says.”
“Wha-" Don't you go saying things like that!”
Reimu laughs at you. “Okay, whatever you say!”
You glower at her. Which is hard to glower well when you're making breakfast for someone. Well, the eggs and bacon are done soon enough, and Reimu's gotten the tea made.
Over breakfast, there's not much conversation, because there's bacon. And cheesy meaty eggs. Delicious. Now, if Reimu had had some spicy salsa for the eggs, it'd be perfect. Alas. Can't always get what you want.
“So what's your plans for today?”
“Eh. Not much. Probably should actually get something ready for Tanabata, though.”
“You need my help?”
“Nah. You've got enough on your plate with your errands. Nice of you to offer, though. Speaking of, where are you going today, Reisen?”
“Just to the Myouren Temple. See if I can't get a book off of them that Akyuu didn't have.”
“Oh. Them. Do me a favor, and, um, I don't know, tip over something valuable?”
You laugh. “You'll have to do your vandalism yourself, Reimu.”
“Well... can't you scuff some dirt on their paths for me?”
“Sure. Then it's just a small step from there to hiding their brooms.”
“That's actually a pretty good idea. Could you do that while you're at it?”
“Dang. I thought you had my back, Reisen. You wound me.”
Breakfast being done, tea being drank, there's not much else to do. The morning's mostly burned off, and it's an hour or two to noon now.
“Anyways. I should stop dawdling. I've got things to do.”
“Yeah, no problem. Stop by anytime. And keep your eyes open. I still think something's up.”
“You got it.”
After you leave Reimu's house and get your bike from the torii, you walk it down the stairs to the entrance to the shrine.
Well. Nothing for it, then. Gotta get moving on that favor you owe. You mount your bicycle, and start cycling in the direction of the Myouren Temple, on the other side of the Human Village.
Come noon of the second day of the first favor, you're at the edge of the woods on the direct path to the front door of the temple. Which leads you to another choice.
[ ] Go up to the front door, and ask for Toyosatomimi.
[ ] Go around the back, and come in through the graveyard.
[ ] Attempt to sneak in.
[ ] Wait until nightfall and sneak in.
[ ] Write-in.
[X] Go up to the front door, and ask for Toyosatomimi.
Technically Miko lives in the Hall of Dreams/Great Mausoleum underneath the temple, which was build to stop Miko from resurrecting because everyone in the Myouren Temple hates her. So if we ask for Toyosatomimi, they'll probably rant against her. Perhaps we can enlist them as allies to kill/imprison Miko? Seems they would be much more able too...
[X] Go up to the front door, and ask for Toyosatomimi.
Be direct! Be to the point! Be confident!
You leave your bike leaning against one of the walls, and stride in confidently through the gate.
Besides, you have the best of pretenses! You're here for a book. And it's not even a pretense, really. You're actually here for a book. Getting this book would be excellent. Getting Toyosatomimi on her own so you can fulfill your favor would be even better.
… You really haven't given any thought as to how you're going to do that, have you?
Hey. Hey, you. Stop. Seriously. You should be thinking about this.
Nope. We will not recognize the representative. The floor is not open at this time.
Hey! Seriously! Were you just planning on playing this by ear?
An ear pun. That's just great. Well, yes.
Really now. Is that why you packed your gun?
Hey. A girl's got to be prepared.
Because so many things can fight you in Gensokyo on the same level.
Well, yeah! A lot of them can!
You mean the “upper 1%” of the population that can. Leaving the majority of the population of the Human Village, the Underground, Youkai Mountain, and other places that you could just beat down like they weren't no thang.
But... but Reimu could give me a thorough walloping, for example!
Probably, yeah. But with preparation and forethought, you could surprise her and end the fight quickly. Which is why it's absolutely imperative that you plan ahead! You don't even know anything about Toyosatomimi!
Don't you give me no buts! You are going to pay attention! You are going to come up with an idea! And you are not going to ruin opportunities should they arise! Do you understand me?
You're taking this too seriously.
You're not taking this seriously enough. Look. Your contract binds you to the elimination of a target within three days. This is the second day and you're just now getting around to seeing your target!
Hey! I spent the last day deflecting suspicion and building up an ally!
Through sheer luck and no actual planning.
Doesn't change that I got something done.
Doesn't change that you have no idea how to deal with this situation.
Okay, okay! Fine! I'll-
WHAM. Your train of thought and your intense... debate with yourself, who is, incidentally, a complete asshole that you never yielded the floor to, is brought to a screeching halt by you walking directly face first into a door.
Wait, nope, not quite. You didn't even manage to stay on target for the door. You hit a porch pole.
As you lay flat on the ground, having fallen over from the surprise, the door opens, and a woman with glasses and the oddest tail you've ever seen walks out, sees you flat on the ground, and rushes over to you. “Are you alright?”
You sit up and shake your head to clear it. “I think so. Sometimes I get distracted.”
“I'll say.” She gives you a hand, and you take it to get up. “Well! Welcome to the Myouren Temple, anyway. I'm Mamizou Futatsuiwa. You can call me Mamizou, though.”
You brush off a bit of the dirt from your skirt. “Thanks. I'm Reisen.”
“Well, Reisen, what brings you here today?”
“Oh! Right. I was looking for a book. Akyuu told me that someone named Toyosatomimi no Miko had it.”
“She did, eh?” Mamizou cradles her chin in thought. Almost as though she were stroking an invisible goatee. Sometimes you think you should convince Rinnosuke to grow one, just to see how he'd look with it. “Well, you're almost in the right place. She's not in this temple, but I bet she's in the mausoleum underground.”
“Hahaha. Don't worry. No ghosts around.” To be honest, you're not afraid of ghosts. But you've had nightmares about the dead rising and coming for you, though. “It's hardly worthy of the title, anyway. Look, I'll show you how to get there. Follow me.”
“Thanks a lot, Mamizou.”
“Don't mention it.”
She leads you around the back, to the cemetery, and to a rocky outcropping in the center. Which, incidentally, has a cave set into the far side.
“Here we are! The entrance to the fabled Hall of Dreams Great Mausoleum.”
“Yup. Doesn't seem very great, does it? I promise it gets better inside, though.”
“Wai- you're not coming with me?”
“Nope. You're a nice girl, Reisen, but I've got things to do. Oh! One more thing! Do try to be nice to Toyosatomimi. She's really not as bad as some of the stories have her made out to be.”
“Yup! You'll be fine! See you around, Reisen!”
And with that, Mamizou is gone. And the temperature feels like it's just dropped ten degrees.
Mausoleums. Those totally have zombies in them, don't they? Maybe skeletons too.
You tentatively step forward into the dark cave.
Today would have been a great day to bring your flashlight.
...Well, if you couldn't see in the dark, that is. Those eyes are good for more than just one thing!
[ ] Because it's a thriller, thriller night!
[ ] When there's something strange, in the neighborhood...
[ ] Daywalker.
I'm updating quickly because I'm excited to get to the action. Aren't you?
The first few steps into the cave were probably not your best moments. It's dark as hell, and you've never been the bravest. So we're going to completely gloss over how when the echo of your first footstep came back at you, you hid behind the closest rock as fast as you could. The angry part of your subconscious is cursing and yelling at you, but you're blocking it out pretty well. Stupid mental analogies. You're really regretting forming a mental Parliament. But forcing through a Queen's decree would lead to a hell of a constitutional crisis.
So you're going to give Parliament the end-run around. By running into the cave at top speed. So maybe you're somewhere less foreboding before you realize what's happening.
It's not really one of your best plans, in hindsight.
See, that high-speed run, while it makes for great use of fear by turning it into adrenaline, isn't the sneakiest or most cautious way to get places. So when the floor ends beneath you, you do your best to channel Wile E. Coyote and run in midair. Gravity's a bitch, though. And you probably looked down at some point. That'd do it straight away.
You manage to stick the landing, however. Perfect landing, right on your face. Tens all around, except from the Russian judge. Dick. As you sit up, and once again, brush dirt off of you, you take in your surroundings.
You're in a large... well, room isn't the right word for it. Not when there's small cottage homes lining a dirt path inside it. The cave's lit by a dim blue glow, and you look up to see what could be causing it. There isn't any particular source for it, but there's... fish. Large fish. In the air. Floating.
You look back down the path, and the fish are there as well. Some of them are as tall as you are. Stripey ones, blue ones, bright ones, dark ones, and eels too. As you're gawping at this scene, something bumps into the back of your head. And you freak the hell out. You scramble forward, and gain your feet. Pivoting on one heel, you bring yourself to face the monster that attempted to assault you from behind, while simultaneously letting fly a small spray of danmaku.
The tiny, baby jellyfish takes one right on the chin. Well, as much as a jellyfish has a chin. And flies back against the rocky wall of the cave. Which it then makes a wet splatting sound against.
Your hand reflexively comes back up to cover your mouth. “Oh- oh god, I hope I didn't hurt it!”
You didn't kill it, evidenced by the weak squeaking noises coming from it.
You did, however, make Mama Jellyfish angry.
Mama Jellyfish rushed across the cave over you, to see to its kid. And then, upon ascertaining that no, it's not dead, but yes, it is hurt, it turns towards you. Which is a silly concept, considering you're still not sure which side is the front. That does not detract from the fear which fills you as it menacingly approaches you, waving all of those tentacles.
The Lord Speaker is hiding under her desk, while the Speaker of the House has flipped her desk over and run for the doors, screaming.
This is remarkably similar to how you've reacted to the situation in reality.
“Ohgodohgodohgodohgod I'M SORRY!” The jellyfish takes no heed of your screams as you rush headlong down the path, and push a clownfish out of the way. You pass a couple of houses, and corner quickly in hopes that the jellyfish can't corner, as: A: it's a sea creature, B: that is flying in the air, and C: obviously it can't get traction. You hope.
Physics and fluid dynamics having the day off, of course, the jellyfish has managed to cut you off by what you believe to be a combination of fucking magic and cheating. Physics, however, hasn't taken a day off from governing how you work, and momentum has conspired with inertia to make it impossible for you to stop or corner in time to avoid running headfirst into the jellyfish.
So you do the next best thing, and drop into your best baseball slide in an attempt to get under, and past, the jellyfish without getting caught. By the tentacles. Oh God. It's just like those terrible animes that Kaguya watches.
You slide, squeezing your eyes shut as you pass under the jellyfish, feeling the surprised jellyfish try to catch a hold of you, and only managing a few fleeting brushes as it didn't expect this kind of maneuver from you. Before you know it, you're past and behind the jellyfish, and you roll back up to your feet, preserving your momentum perfectly. And continuing to run.
Thankfully, up ahead, is a narrow passage in the rock of the cave that you don't think the jellyfish can fit through. You sprint as fast as you can, and make it to the opening ahead of the jellyfish- the wet splat behind you proving that yes, it was too narrow for the jellyfish to fit through. You look back to confir- JESUS CHRIST IT'S FORCING ITS WAY THROUGH THE CAVE.
Stupid boneless bodies. At least this way you can manage to outpace it somewhat, since it's got to scrape against the walls, and you don't. After a short bit of running, the cave opens up into another dim blue cave, but the path leads directly to the open front doors of a cathedral. There's an eel weaving its way through the bell tower, but that's of minor interest to you at this point. That cathedral right there looks like salvation.
You jump the fence, as the gates are closed. Seriously, that was like a nine-foot vertical leap. You're really rather proud of this. Tuck and roll, and dive into the cathedral through the open doors. Immediately you slam the double doors shut.
You quickly look around for something you can use to barricade the doors. In the foyer, a little ways in from the entrance, there is a young-looking dead woman on a marble... plinth? Is plinth even the right word? It's like a bed. You know, those places where you put corpses. Mental note: find out what those are called. Shaking your head, you mutter a quick apology to the dead girl, and push her unceremoniously off the marble, and shove the thing in front of the doors. Thank God for inward-opening doors.
Barricading being done, you take a moment to let out a shaking, shuddery breath. That was almost really, really bad. You turn, and take in the cathedral. It's not huge, but it's not tiny, either. There's room for about ten rows of pews, with quite a bit of stained glass. The light filters in through the stained glass, not straight as you would expect, but wavy, almost as though it's underwater. There's still some fish inside the cathedral. Normal fish, though. No giant jellyfishes. Okay.
Just as though to remind you, the doors boom with the impact of the jellyfish slamming into it at full force. The heavy doors and the marble plinth hold, saving you for now.
You flop down to your butt, leaning against the marble plinth as you start to shake a little bit from the aftereffects of all that adrenaline.
When the dead girl sits up. Arms outstretched. And locks dead, empty eyes on yours. And with a deathly rattle, says just one word: “Braaaaaaaaains.”
OH GOD A ZOMBIE
The fear once again translates itself well into adrenaline, as you throw out your right hand to spray danmaku at her, while your left brings up your gun, as you empty three rounds into her. Granted, you were aiming at the head, because, you know, zombie. Of course, you're shaking too hard to be a competent marksman, and two go into her chest, while a third chips the altar.
It's okay, though. The zombie goes down like a sack of shit. And then promptly sits back up again. This time, instead of the arms outstretched, limp at the wrist, like a flesh-eating monster, the hands are out in a placating gesture. “Look, I'm sorry! I'm sorry I scared you! Just- Just don't shoot me, man!”
[ ] Break down and cry
[ ] Shoot again anyway
[ ] Go back out because of the tentacles W-why would you do this to me?!
[ ] Write-in
>>159066 Pretty much right on the money. Well done!
[x] Go back out because of the tentacles
This is clearly the correct option.
lol, but in all seriousness...
[x] Calm down. She apologized, and you already got her back for scaring her. No need to get violent, er, keep this violent.
Let's not scare the crazy zombie lady more than she's scared us.
Cirno might be fun. Both because I like her and because I'm curious to see the lengths Reisen will need to go to to put down a fairy permanently. I mean, killing a little girl once is bad enough. But with fairy regeneration, Reisen might have to do it over and over, in quick succession, to overwhelm Cirno's ability to regenerate. Watching Cirno go from angry to desperate to immediately curling up in a mewling ball... but Reisen still has to pull the trigger. Over and over.
Or Eirin might have a magic fairy-killing bullet on hand. But that's boring.
>>159122 Neither of those would work because that's not how fairy regeneration works. Fairy regeneration is not an aspect of the fairy itself; fairies respawn because they are embodiments of some aspect of nature. Only if that aspect is destroyed do they die.
Rabbit 9, you are easily one of the most ambitious writers I've seen here, and I strongly suspect this is a new identity for an old writer. You've certainly been around here for a while, that much is very clear.
This story is great, your writing style is amusing, catchy, and appealing, and the premise is simple while at the same time steeped in confusing, disturbing shit.
I genuinely look forward to seeing more of this story.
(Also, >>159137 was both hilarious, hot, and well-executed.)
The racket is deafening. There's representatives screaming at the top of their lungs, and some of them on the balcony have started throwing things from the top balcony. Like desks. And other representatives. Some of them are even on fire, and how did they even do that.
There's even one, the one that everyone is edging away from, that's screaming at the top of her lungs that we go back out to the jellyfish and tentacles. She scares you. She really, really does.
It's a bit too much for you, and you've had a rough week. This is the worst time and you will not stand for i-
The dead girl that you shot is shaking your shoulder. This snaps you back to reality. Where you're crying like a leaky faucet. If it was leaking in the “full open” position.
“Look, I'm sorry I scared you! But, you, you know, you shot me!” She's obviously confused by your mood swing. “And I-”
Her sentence is choked off by you latching onto her in a bear hug and bawling into her shoulder. “It'sbeentheworstweekeverandthefairiesbutandReimuandthere'sthejellyfishandazombieohgodddddd I just wanted a boooooooook!” A small part of you mind realizes you're probably not the best conversational partner at this time. And also, to add to the record, you're hugging the zombie.
You're hugging the zombie and crying into it and it's been a shitty week and you just don't ca- oh god you shot her. You jerk back. “Oh-oh god! I shot you! Are- are you?”
“Okay?” The zombie girl laughs. “Well, you didn't shoot me in the head. So I think I'm fine.”
You wipe your nose and sniffle, the waterworks having been closed provisionally. “I'm so sorry! I didn't- you're a zombie and I- I was scared!”
She smiles. “It's not the first time I've gotten that reaction. It's the first time someone's actually shot me, you know. With a gun.” She frowns. “Why do you even carry that? You can do danmaku, so...”
Um. You probably should have anticipated being asked this question before. “I- I, uh, it was a gift from my training instructor? Yeah, that's it! It was a gift. Sentimental value!” You laugh nervously. Seriously, you really cannot lie worth a damn.
The zombie girl cocks her head inquisitively. “Training instructor?”
“Yeah! See, I was in the Lunarian Army, and, um, you know, training! Instructors!” You wave your hands in an attempt to emphasize the point. It falls a bit flat.
“Oh. Oh! Ohhhhhh.” Comprehension dawns on the girl's face. Which is kind of hard to see, now that you notice that she's got an ofuda covering most of her face. It's great that she comprehends what you say. Because you haven't got a clue what you said. She sticks out her hand. “Well, it's great to meetcha! I'm Yoshika. Please don't shoot me again!”
You take her hand. “I'm so sorry about shooting you. I really am. My name's Reisen.”
She hops to her feet, and drags you to yours by your hand. God, she's strong. Really strong. Seriously. For a moment, you wonder what would happen if she and Mokou got into a fist fight. And then you chuckle a bit at that mental image. “So, Miss Reisen, what brings you to the glorious underwater cathedral of the Hall of Dreams?”
You free your hand from her grasp. “Well, um, I was wanting to ask about that. Why does this place feel like it's underwater, but, you know, none of the water?”
She chuckles to herself. “So you saw the fish?”
“In a sense.” The sense of fleeing and running and pure terror.
“Well, I don't know what to tell you. There really isn't a why, or a how, it just is.”
Yoshika shrugs. “Yup.”
“I guess it's kinda cool.” You didn't really get as much of a chance to take in the scenery as you'd like, though.
“So. If I understood you correctly through all the crying and shooting, you wanted a book, right?”
You sigh. “You're never going to let up on that, are you?”
She smiles and strikes a pose. “Nope!” Seriously, most energetic zombie ever.
“Well, I was looking for a book. Akyuu told me that Toyosatomimi had it?”
“Oh? What one?”
“The Zhuangzi, I think.”
She claps her hands. “Toyosatomimi will have fun with you, I think!”
“Fun?” Aw, crap.
“Yeah! She's into that whole Daoism thing!”
“That whole Daoism thing.” Your voice is flat, but somehow Yoshika misses that. She's not really one for subtleties, you can tell.
“Yeah! It's awesome!” She starts to go on about it, and you tune her out. Got to think about this. You were planning... well, maybe planning is the wrong word. But you were kind of hoping to shoot Toyosatomimi and be done with it. And now Yoshika knows you've got a gun. It's really not the sort of thing people use in Gensokyo. And bullet holes are kind of distinctive. You've got to come up with a new plan.
Yoshika comes to an end of her ramble. “...And if you want, I'll take you to her!”
[ ] Go with her. It's the fastest way to Toyosatomimi, but somehow you've got to get rid of witnesses. You really, really do not want to have to take out another person if you can avoid it.
[ ] Excuse yourself, and find your own way. It'll take more time, but you'll probably not have to deal with Yoshika. On the other hand, this place looks big, and you might get lost.
[ ] Write-in.
You've also got to start thinking about how you're going to do this. Any suggestions so far, Parliament?
[x] Go with her. It's the fastest way to Toyosatomimi, but somehow you've got to get rid of witnesses. You really, really do not want to have to take out another person if you can avoid it.
As for when we get to her:
[X]Well, first we need to get her alone. Maybe get her to talk about Taoism. After that, maybe sneak up behind her and snap her neck? Some sort of garrote? Something quiet, in any case. Hell, maybe we can push her down the stairs.
>>159190 True, but what evidence is left on a dead person? It's a bit difficult to read the psyche of someone who's not alive.
[x] Go with her. It's the fastest way to Toyosatomimi, but somehow you've got to get rid of witnesses. You really, really do not want to have to take out another person if you can avoid it.
Well... alright. You have some reservations about bringing Yoshika along, but you have even more reservations about not finding Toyosatomimi and failing the first favor. That'd be terrible. So, you'll have to figure out a way to ditch or distract Yoshika. Something will come up, it always does. Right? Right.
“Sure, I'll go with you, Yoshika. It'd be faster than having me wander around this place. And this way, I think I can avoid seeing that jellyfish again.” You give her a pointed look. “We CAN avoid the jellyfish, right?”
Yoshika nods. “Sure, we can go around. In fact, we don't even have to leave the cathedral!” She walks over to one of the pews, and flips it over by main strength, revealing a staircase leading downwards. “This is one of the entrances to the lower levels of the Hall of Dreams, where I think Toyosatomimi is.”
“You're not sure?”
“Nope! But there's only one way to find out!” And with that, she marches down the stairs, leaving you to follow her. Nothing for it, then. Forwards and onwards. Onwards and forwards. More repeated mantras to keep you moving without thinking. No, no, no! You have to think! Yoshika's the zombie, not you. Okay. Deep breaths. Relax. The anticipation of the moment is getting to you and you're not even sure it's going to happen.
That decided, you plunge down the staircase Yoshika's already gone down... into a very strange spiral staircase. Each of the steps is wholly seperate from the others, and are made of a luminescent ivory material. And they're just floating there. Not only that, but they're suspended in a ray of light, coming from a place above you. Wait, wait wait hold on. Where did the staircase above you, that you came from, go to? You step back onto where the staircase you came down was, and suddenly you're back in the cathedral. Great. Okay. That's just weird.
You step once more into the spiral staircase, and look about you. As far as you can see in all directions, there's nothing but an unbroken starfield, with the images of planets closer and more distinct. None of Earth or your Moon, though. Odd. In fact, you don't recognize any of these planets. Below you, after a substantial number of stairs, is a freestanding doorway.
You back away from the edge of the stairs. You shout down to Yoshika, who's a couple of revolutions of stairs below you, merrily skipping downwards. “Hey, Yoshika?”
She stops, and looks up. “Yeah?”
“What is going on?”
“Didn't you ask me that earlier?”
“Yes. I did. But then, I wasn't at risk of falling to my death, either.”
Yoshika understands your question, now. “Oh! Ohhhh. Oh, I get it. I get what you're asking. You're asking why this place looks and acts like it does.”
“Yeah, pretty much.”
She gestures widely with her arms. Stiffly, you guess. That's a word that could be attributed to it. “This is the Hall of Dreams. Not just a mausoleum. This is a place where the inner dreams of all the people who are, have been, and maybe will be in here are... well, manifested, for lack of a better term.”
“So... this entire place is like this?” Please say no, please say no, please say no...
“Yep!” Shit. Escaping just got a lot harder. “It's a complicated, confusing place, but if you keep in mind where you want to go, or who you want to see, it... um, how to say this... accommodates you?” Okay. Maybe escaping got a lot easier? “I just wanted to go with you because I really like this staircase.”
Yoshika looks much like an excited schoolgirl. “I thought you'd never ask!” With that, she jumps off of the stair, into the open hole in the center. And plummets like a rock. You gape in astonishment as she easily achieves terminal velocity, and then lands on the platform below. You think that she had possibly intended to land with grace, to land on the tippy-toes of her feet with impossible delicacy. Or maybe she just enjoys landing face first on the ground after a fall of several hundred feet.
And then she stands up, and waves up to you. “See? Not even a scratch! Now you try it!”
No no no no no no nonononononoNOPE. “No. Hell no. Not a chance. I am walking down there. I am not falling down there.”
“You'll be fine! I promise!”
“Don't care. I learned about gravity earlier, and how it's naturally associated with pain. No. I am walking.”
That decided, you fix your gaze firmly forward, and start walking down the stairs. Pointedly not looking down. It takes you a while longer than jumping, then falling, but doesn't have any of the associated pain.
And Yoshika's asleep when you get down there.
You took so long, she got bored, and went to sleep. Gingerly, you step past her, trying not to awaken her, and open the door ever so slowly. Which opens onto a mountaintop path, leading to a small one-room wooden structure overlooking a foggy forest, way down below.
That forest looks oddly familiar, now that you think about it. But it's not the Eientei forest. You stand there and think for a moment, but the name of the forest doesn't come to you. It must not be important.
There's smoke coming from the small house, though, as though someone's built a fire in there. And well they should, it's a bit chilly on the top of this mountain. You creep silently to the foot of the house, by the door. And you look in through an open window. A girl with oddly styled hair, wearing headphones and bobbing her head in rhythm with unheard music, is sitting at a table, writing at what seems to be calligraphy- the character you can see being '無'. The other is obscured by her form. She's not looking in your direction- in fact, the window you're looking in through is directly behind her.
What to do?
[ ] Go back to Yoshika, wake her up, continue with her to Toyosatomimi.
[ ] Walk into the house, and introduce yourself. She might know where Toyosatomimi is.
[ ] Write-in.
[x] So this place accommodates me... maybe I can simply want to go to miko's place and I'll end up there and not have to worry about bringing a witness.
-[x] Remember that you can fly, we don't want another jellyfish incident just because silly Reisen forgot she can fly up.
[X] Knock first, then walk into the house, and introduce yourself. She might know where Toyosatomimi is.
Politeness costs you nothing, right? And whoever she is, she might be more willing to help if you're polite. Right. Now if you could just figure out where the hell you are supposed to knock on these paper doors without punching a hole in them... Maybe rapping on the bamboo? You try it. And... nothing happens. Well. Not quite what you'd hoped for.
That being done, you slide the door open, and step in, removing your shoes as you do so. At least you can extend that measure of politeness.
“Excuse me?” Your voice fills the small house. “Miss? Could you help me?” Still nothing. Nothing for it, then. The direct approach. You walk further in, to the woman who's still facing away from the door, engrossed in her calligraphy. From here, you can see the second character. “為”. “無為”? That's kind of odd. Maybe you'll ask about it. That'd be a great icebreaker.
You walk around her, into her field of view, and wave. “Excuse me?”
She looks up, and jumps. “Oh! You startled me.”
You clasp your hands and bow slightly in apology. “I'm sorry to intrude, but I was wondering if you could help me.”
She takes off her headphones, and sets them on the floor next to her. “Certainly! I'm sorry, sometimes I'm doing too many things at once!” She turns her full attention to you. “What did you need?” She gestures for you to sit down.
You do. “What are you writing there?”
“Oh, this? It's Wu Wei, or, the art of action without action.”
That's confusing. “I'm sorry, what?”
“Oh, it's just a Daoist thing. I could tell you all about it, but I'm sure you've got things to do. Now what was it you needed?”
“Well, I was looking for a book.” You gesture to her small bookshelf. “You see, I'm trying to find something for my friend to read, and someone had recommended the Zhuangzi to me.” The woman's eyes light up at the mention of this. “Unfortunately, Akyuu told me that someone named Toyosatomimi no Miko had the only copy around here.”
She looks positively delighted by this turn of events. “Oh! That's great! Well, I'm Toyosa-” The rest of what she's saying is drowned out by the combined sounds of your heart stopping, the blood in your veins turning to ice, and the rush of blood to your ears. This isn't good. You're talking to her. You can't do that. That'll just make it even harder for you to do what you have to.
No, no no. This won't do. You have to stop this conversation now. Before it becomes impossible for you to take action. Before you start feeling any worse than you already do. Your stomach is tied in knots, and those knots are packed full of butterflies.
“-and I think I've got that book around here somewhere!” She stops. “You look like you've seen a ghost, you're so pale. What's wrong?”
“I'm... I'm sorry.”
She cocks her head in confusion. “What? Why?”
Your voice, the barest whisper, as tears spring to your eyes. “I'm so, so sorry.”
[ ] Shock and Awe
[ ] The Subtle Approach
[ ] Not Feeling Lucky At All
Ties. Well, I want to write, and nothing says I don't get a vote.
[X] The Subtle Approach
Before I continue telling you this story. I want you to understand something. I'm a nice person. Really! I don't want to tell you this next bit. Really, I don't. You might think that I'm just a... a... terrible person. But that couldn't be farther from the truth! I don't enjoy this. I never wanted this to happen. You've got to believe me. You do believe me, don't you?
...Please believe me?
I've just had to do terrible things. I never wanted to do any of it, but I never saw any other choice. I'm so sorry about what I did. If you're going to blame anyone for this, blame the fairies. They're the ones who are responsible for all of this. They're the ones who made me do these things. It's their fault! Not mine! Not mine at all!
...I'm so sorry.
If you were in my position, wouldn't you do whatever you have to to protect the ones you love? Wouldn't it be more monstrous not to love? I just, I... I don't know what I should have done, anymore. Sometimes I wish I'd had another chance. This isn't the way I wanted this to go. I never asked for this. I'm not a monster. Really. I'm just some poor little rabbit.
…Just some poor little rabbit who didn't know any better.
You blink away the tears, and steel yourself for what you're going to do. Toyosatomimi is looking directly at you, confused as all hell. Which is possibly the worst thing she could do at this point. All you have to do is just look up at her. Just look up. Just look her in the eyes. Half of you is screaming for you to get it over with, already. The other half is just screaming. You don't want to think why.
You look up, and you look Toyosatomimi in the eyes. With a little effort, you release some power- not enough for her to go screamingly, gibberingly mad- but enough for her to let out a little gasp, and fall over backwards. She starts to whimper and claw at her face. While she does that, a sharp spike of pain hits you between and behind the eyes- it always does that. At least both the madness and the pain are temporary. You've never actually tried to scar someone's psyche so much that it's permanent. You kind of hope you never have to.
It was a sucker punch, something she didn't see coming. Just the force of her attention was such that you didn't want to get into a straight fight with her. You're certain that it'd be loud, noisy, and damned hard to conceal. And you're not at all certain you'd win it. So you went for the sucker punch. And now she's down, temporarily.
You can't give her the time to recover. She's already starting to slow the clawing at her face. That's strong-willed. She didn't even break the skin. Now she's just lying there, whimpering, and breathing deeply. You've got to make your move. So you stand up. Walk towards the door. And slip on your shoes. Unhappily, you walk back over to where Toyosatomimi is, splayed out on the floor.
And stomp hard on her neck.
Her reaction is immediate and predictable- she grabs your leg with both arms and tries to throw it off. The rest of her flails wildly, and her eyes are tiny pinpricks in a sea of white. Her windpipe's not even open enough for her to make choking or coughing sounds, let alone scream. It doesn't matter if she even manages to throw your leg off- even though she doesn't- because her windpipe is utterly crushed. Without immediate medical attention, she'll soon choke to death.
Her flailing attempts to stop you slow, and her eyes stop moving around, settling in to look accusingly at you. At this moment, you lift your foot, and kneel down next to her. “I'm so sorry, so, so sorry.” You hope she can hear you. “I didn't want this.” She doesn't have time to understand why you did what you did. “But I hope you believe me. Please believe me?”
With one last shuddering attempt at a breath, Toyosatomimi lies still. You take two fingers, and close her eyelids. A couple of tears drop onto her face, and you lean down to press your cheek against hers, and whisper into her ear. “I never wanted you to hurt. I never wanted this. I'm so, so sorry. Please believe me.”
With that, it's over. You've fulfilled your first goddamn favor.
You feel like someone's punched you in the gut. The fact that you just killed a person, in cold blood, without even explaining why, is not a comforting one. You're trying your best not to bawl loudly, in hopes that Yoshika stays asleep for long enough for you to finish what you've got to do.
No time to mourn the dead, lest the dead find you. You heft Toyosatomimi's body up with yours, and settle her into a fireman's carry. The door you easily slide open. It doesn't seem like it's even been that long- but the mountaintop is bathed in the golden glow of sunset.
You step to the edge of the small flat area that the house is set upon: looking down, the forest spreads out from the base of the mountain. It still looks familiar. And then it strikes you: That's Aokigahara. But that doesn't make sense. This most certainly isn't Mt. Fuji. It doesn't matter. You whisper once more into Toyosatomimi's ear: “I'm sorry. I'm sorry I couldn't even give you a proper burial. Please forgive me.”
With that, you throw her body as hard as you can- it clears the mountainside, and you sit in silence as you watch her body fall. It slips into the forest far down below with hardly a sound.
You let out a deep breath that you didn't even know you were holding. It's over. She's gone, and you hardly even got a chance to know her. That's the worst part. You didn't even get to know her.
You start to walk back to the door by which you came in, and as your fingers touch the doorknob, you realize you'd forgotten something. Returning to the house, you give it a quick once-over so as to hide the signs of your struggle with Toyosatomimi. Hopefully it'll look like she wasn't even there. Hermits go missing all the time, right? Because they just do that sort of thing. Right? Maybe she won't even be missed. Oh God, that's terrible.
Something prompts you to go through her small bookshelf. You pull out a thin volume marked “Zhuangzi.” It'd be a terrible waste to not get what you'd came for.
Sliding that into your clothes, you step outside the house, and gingerly close the door. You hope Yoshika's not awake. You'd really rather not talk to one of the friends of the deceased. Opening the door to the staircase, Yoshika is still passed out. You step over her, and quietly ascend the staircase.
The cathedral is still as you'd found it, and left it- one pew flipped over, revealing the staircase. You pause for a moment, and consider offering a prayer to her gods- whatever they were- and you realize that you know almost nothing about Daoism.
Something tells you that it'd be easier to keep it that way.
Out the front doors, into the path. The jellyfish is gone. Most of the fish are gone. You continue through the path you remember from your headlong flight, and reach the end, past the cottages. The hole you came from is at least fifteen feet above the ground, on a sheer cliff. Looking up at it, you back up to get a running start, and then fling yourself at it. In an exceptionally good leap, you manage to almost make it all the way up there. You've managed to catch yourself on the ledge with your stomach, and you easily pull yourself up.
You slip out of the mausoleum unnoticed, and avoid everyone at the Myouren Temple. Your bike ride through the evening back to Eientei is a long one, but you don't remember any of it.
When you arrive back at Eientei, Tewi is there on the front porch. She looks like she'd almost been waiting for you. She looks up at you and smiles. “I'd almost gotten to missing you, Reisen.”
You can't help but smile back. “Yeah. How about that.”
And so, the first favor is fulfilled. How do you guys like this so far?
There's a couple of things I want to go over so that you guys know how your choices affected the story to this point. Obviously, there was the first choice of targets, but, obvious.
The first choice was one where you'd get to select your major ally in this story- of course, you've got Eientei for you, but that's probably not enough. There you guys picked Akyuu, which is what I'd originally planned with the plot.
The next choice, where you ended up with a tie and I picked both, ended up unintentionally setting the stage for the Reimu scene (the one I'd had planned for if you had picked the Hakurei Shrine earlier), and probably got you guys set up very nicely in future. It does help to have Gensokyo's finest Incident Resolution Specialist trusting you, of course. It's probably best that you had chosen to trust her- though the plan was originally to make that the worst choice. Except that book saved you guys. Though maybe using your eyes on her would have been even worse. I'd never quite decided that.
The dreams/night time choices between Midnight Full Moon and Fairy Circle aren't too important for whatever one you picked, as you'll get a chance to possibly select the other later.
The next couple of choices were, well, for lack of a better term, more Reimu. Let's just leave it at that.
Also, in an answer to your question, >>158984 , there are plenty of ways to do it. Unless it's someone like an oni, Reisen can probably overwhelm them by sheer physical power if she manages to catch them off-guard. She is a trained Lunarian commando, anyway. It will probably go less well if she tries to physically overpower someone who's got their guard up and are aware, though.
The next choice, of how to enter the Myouren Temple, was a choice of who to meet, essentially. I kind of wish I had executed the update after that better, instead of making Mamizou a bit character. Oh well.
The next choice, >>159066 hit directly on the head. And you guys went for the Yoshika route. I don't know how it would have turned out if you'd picked other people, but I think Yoshika turned out entertainingly.
The next update I wrote entirely because I figured I could write something fun. While this is a terrible story about terrible things, I am incapable of playing the story serious the entire time. Or even most of the time, really.
Which, of course leads to that /at/ joke short that I'm going to completely gloss over. I'm also not going to comment on the fairy murdering speculation that happened there as well, because I'm not going to write myself into a corner when we're only a fifth of the way through.
Then comes the staircase. I don't know why I included it. I really, really like the idea of a place like that, though. And the mountain hut, which isn't Mt. Fuji, but has Aokigahara. It's not an uncommon place to find a body, and I think it fits the scene well.
Finally, the last choice you made was simply a one of procedure- it would have happened slightly differently (for example, Shock and Awe I was planning on having Reisen jump over the table at Toyosatomimi, and Not Feeling Lucky at All would probably have involved a pistol whipping,) but with the same end result, where we are now.
A couple of other things: This was the first favor, and I handled it with kid gloves. I didn't want anything too terrible to happen to Reisen too soon- but it wasn't really necessary with the choices you guys made.
She also got her damn book.
Unfortunately for Reisen, there's no rest for the wicked. Which means it's favor voting time again.
Do think of the poor little rabbit when you make this vote, okay? She'd be so sad if you picked something terrible. Finally, if you want, and if it's good, and I'm going to be exercising a very heavy veto-hand for this, you can add a condition to the favor, like >>159116 did, because you're terrible people.
Poor little rabbit.
If you guys have any questions about the story so far, feel free to ask. I won't be ruining any spoilers, though.
I'm going to read this thing right through to the end (you are doing an excellent job, just so you know), but... goddamn. You can almost feel Reisen going to pieces there at the end. I just want to give the poor little bunny a hug.
>>159259 >>159267 I'm tempted to veto Byakuren votes just because of location, and the fact that this isn't an anti-religious crusade by the antagonists. Unless of course you have a reason other than "to balance the scales." It's okay, I guess, I just don't see it being as interesting as some of the other choices available to you.
Now, I like Remilia. But this would be very difficult to do, and the fallout would be MASSIVE (the remaining members of the mansion searching for Remi's murderer with blood on their minds). And isn't his story all about making Reisen's Life miserable?
...All of a sudden, I feel like a terrible person.
I like the point a previous anon made about the rest of the SDM (Flandre possibly included?) being out for blood upon the death of their mistress. Sounds like just the thing to drive Reisen (further in)to despair.
Reisen would have to infiltrate and leave Youkai Mountain undetected to make a successful kill.
Symposium of Post-mysticism implies that the religious based powers are the ones that can cause the most change to Gensokyo. Having two prominent figures in the pro-human factions die would definitely cause a major fallout.
The plan was to give you guys a week or so to decide on the next favor, and I was going to hold off on continuing writing until then. Then I got bored, and didn't know what to do.
But I then realized that it wouldn't make sense for the next favor to immediately follow the first. So I've got some time in between to write things before the vote has to be in! Which means I'm not bored anymore. Because I'm writing.
Anyways. Short interlude, continue voting on the second favor.
A week or so had passed since your “adventures” in the Hall of Dreams, and you'd been doing your best to get back to your normal routine. You've almost managed to stop thinking about it during most of your waking hours. In fact, just last night, you managed to not wake up screaming from the nightmares. So, progress. Of a sort. You haven't slept too much, really.
One day, a fairy that Reimu dragooned into being a messenger came to Eientei, to inform you that Reimu was holding a meeting, and she wanted you to attend. This message was delivered in a dry, sarcastic tone from the fairy. Obviously she didn't want to do it, but when Reimu says jump, fairies tend to do so. You wonder idly if Reimu even knows the effect that she has on most people.
So this is how you find yourself back at the Hakurei Shrine. You're the last to arrive, lacking divine or magical powers, unlike the others invited to this “incident resolution meeting.” The others, of course, are Marisa Kirisame and Sanae Kochiya. The three foremost incident resolution specialists in Gensokyo, and you. All because you agreed to do one nice thing for Reimu.
It's late, and “getting down to business” didn't last long. This might be because Reimu has a bit of a short attention span, and some real nice habu sake that someone had donated. An oni, more likely than not, but Reimu had refused to tell you where she got it from.
“Man, I tried to invite Meiling too, but I think Sakuya intercepted the fairy.” She stops to sip some more of her sake. “I mean, who else says 'Our gatekeeper is indisposed with her duties. She has things she has to do, unlike some shrine mikos I could mention.' Seriously, 'indisposed?' Who uses that word anyway?”
Sanae waves her arm about non-committally from the tatami mats that she's splayed out on, her other hand holding a glass filled with more sake. “Sakuya's a nice person. She just doesn't like you, Reimu.”
Reimu sets down her sake dish, and raises her hands in mock horror. “She doesn't like me? Little old me? I can't imagine why!”
Marisa's a bit wobbly in both her hands and her speech, as she's done her best to beat all of you to as much alcohol as she could. “Mein Gott, Reimu. You know you have kicked down almost everyone's door in Gensokyo.” She also affects a terrible German accent when she's been drinking. No, you don't know why.
“I hate to distract you guys from this train of thought, but I was wondering something.” You poke towards the jar of habu sake. “Why in hell is there a snake in the sake?”
Marisa shrugs, and falls over, with her head landing in your lap. “I do not know? Ze habu snake, it's poisonous, right? It's got to be an oni thing.” You shake your head looking down at Marisa. She burps. “Oh! Excuse me!” And then falls into an uncontrollable giggle fit.
Sanae's still sprawled out on the floor, but she moves, and accidentally kicks you as she adjusts. You're not entirely sure she even noticed that she kicked you. “You invited us over to discuss business, Reimu. What did you want, anyway?”
Reimu finishes her sake, and starts to refill it. “It's not amazingly important we discuss it tonight. You'll be here come morning, anyway. We can talk then, and nurse hangovers.”
Sanae props herself up on her elbows, and looks at Reimu. “Well, okay then. But I gotta ask, Reimu, why'd you invite Reisen over? She's not really... you know.” She looks at you and shrugs. “No offense, though, Reisen.”
Marisa mumbles up from your lap. “Who cares? She's soft~” And then proceeds to nuzzle your leg a bit.
Reimu shrugs at Sanae. “I don't know, really. Reisen's a nice person, and I think we can trust her. Besides, none of us are really 'investigative' types, are we?”
Sanae mutters a soft “No, I guess not.” Marisa, on the other hand, is much more enthusiastic. “Nope! Go in, Master Spark, boooooom!~” she shouts, and raises herself enough to grab you by the midsection and nuzzle her face in your chest. You're trying to push her off, but she's got that drunken strength thing going on.
Reimu turns to you. “You had to hide Eirin and Kaguya, right? When that whole Lunarian thing was going down?”
That, among other things. “Yeah.”
“So, maybe you can find someone for us.” She downs another dish of sake. “Look at me, back to talking business again. I think that means it's time for more shots.” You finish off the last of your cup, with it burning a bit of your throat as it goes down, and hand it to Reimu to be refilled. Sanae sits up, and hands hers to Reimu as well. Marisa detaches from you, and with indecent haste, dives over to Reimu and the sake jar. “Will you pour it in my mouth for me, Reimu? Or maybe- you could make a double shot, and I'll give you the second half after I've finished the first half~”
Reimu's a bit confused by this. “How- how does that even work?”
Marisa giggles again. “Well, first I take the double shot, and swallow half of it- and then I give you the second half~! You know, with my mouth!”
Reimu sighs. “We tried this once already. First you drank the whole double shot yourself, and then you used it as an excuse to kiss me and put your hand under my shirt.”
“But it was fun!~”
“No, take your shot.”
Poor Marisa. Shot down. “Fine. You're no fun. Hey Sanaaaaaaae~”
“Maybe if I wasn't your last choice, Marisa.”
She clenches a fist in mock rage. “Damn! Foiled again! I'll have to have a word with your obergruppenführer, see if I don't!”
“Do you even know what that means?”
“Nope! And neither do you! Which means I get to make it up!” You guess that's true. In any case, Reimu's refilled the glasses, and in her case, her dish, and passes them out to all of you.
With that done, Reimu raises a question. “What should we toast to?”
Sanae shrugs. “Friendship?”
Marisa does not agree. “Lame. I vote armpits!”
Reimu turns to you. “Reisen?”
“To alcohol? The solution to all of life's problems.”
Reimu smiles. “Yeah, that'll do. To alcohol!”
The toast repeated, you all down your shots, and it makes you a little dizzy as it goes down. Shot finished, somehow in that time Sanae's managed to work her way onto your lap, much like Marisa did earlier. And now she's looking up at you. “You know, Marisa was right. You are soft.” “I told you!” Marisa butts into the conversation from her position, hanging on Reimu. “And...” Sanae pokes you in the breast. “I like your chest.” Your involuntary reaction would normally be to cover up your chest with your arms, and push the other person away. However, tonight, your only reaction is to motion to Reimu to pour you another drink. Which she does, chuckling in your direction as she deftly tosses you a full cup, without spilling any of it.
Which Sanae promptly plucks from your hand and downs herself. “Mmm. Toasty.” Again you motion for a drink. This one, Sanae also swings at, but you were ready, and down the sake in the same motion as you catch it. And then you fall over backwards. The room is spinning. And there's some odd pressure on top of you.
Oh. Right. Sanae's crawled completely on top of you, instead of just being on your lap, taking advantage of your lapse in balance. She brings her face real close to yours, and softly says:
“Little bunny Foo Foo,
Hopping through the forest
Scooping up the field mice
And bopping them on the head
Down came the shrine miko, and she said
"Little bunny Foo Foo
I don't want to see you
Scooping up the field mice
And bopping them on the head."
She then nestles her head in the curve of your neck, and makes a satisfied, happy sound.
You hear Reimu laugh. “I don't think either of us are getting up.” You crane your neck ever so slowly to look at Reimu without disturbing Sanae, and Marisa's passed out lengthwise across Reimu's lap. “I think I'm going to go to sleep, too.” Moments pass, and you can hear the rhythmic breathing that indicates people are asleep, and in one case, you can feel it too.
Since some people seem dead-set on stirring up SDM, how about Meiling? Reimu tried to invite her to her little meeting for some reason. That implies that they're friends. We can accomplish riling SDM up and pissing off Reimu at the same time.
In fact, since Marisa just got characterized (do not want to kill characterized people...), I'm going to change my Marisa vote ( >>159319 ).
Remember when you mentioned nightmares? Sometimes they're just constant visions of you and Toyosatomimi, with all sorts of different things happening. What happens a lot in those nightmares, is you screw something up, and Toyosatomimi either throws you off the mountain, which is probably the best one, because you wake up easily from the “falling” in the dream. Alternately, she pulls your head off by your ears. That's probably one of the worse ones.
But sometimes your nightmares don't involve Toyosatomimi. Sometimes they're not really nightmares at all. Sometimes they're recollections of some really poor decisions you've made. Chief among them recently, is the fairies. They're never clearly identified in your dreams, just shadowy figures with voices that scratch fingernails down your mental chalkboard. Which is very odd, as they made no attempt to disguise themselves during the bargain at all. Maybe it's a mental repression sort of thing.
Shame nobody here's in the psychological help department, or you could get your dreams analyzed and then you'd find out what kind of relations you always wanted to have with your family. Or something like that. You were never too clear on the whole dream psychology thing.
The dream starts the same way, every time: you're in the middle of the forest, and it's not the friendly Bamboo Forest you know so well. No, this is a dark, foreboding forest, where the wind always blows and branches rarely have leaves. It always smelled kind of burnt, as if it'd just had a massive forest fire.
You're in the middle of a clearing, at the dead end of a path. You've been running, and running, and running, and you just can't run anymore. So you collapse in the clearing, and immediately force yourself back up to your feet. But the path's gone. The moon's covered over by clouds. The clearing's surrounded by mushrooms, in a large circle.
This is when the fairies appear. It's always one, to begin with. One that merely taps you on the shoulder, and helps you to your feet. The second one appears, and brings you a chair. And continues to say nothing. You're never able to see their faces. They're just dark shadows in a darker clearing. The first one leaves you to the second, and comes back with a cool glass of water.
You drink it, every time. You drank it, when this happened to you. This was your first mistake.
This is when the third fairy appears, but she's not wreathed in shadow, like the other two. In fact, she's a shining beacon in your dreams. And again, she says nothing. But this is when you break down, crying and babbling. This also happened.
You see, the Lunarians don't take kindly to people just up and leaving. Especially when those people are their princess, and their foremost medical genius. Who also had a hand in founding their society. They also take a dim view of little rabbits that help them. Be they Moon rabbits or Earth rabbits.
You pour out your heart and your troubles. You tell them the story of how there is retribution coming for you, Tewi, Eirin, and Kaguya. You tell them about how they are your friends, and that you cannot bear to see anything bad happen to them.
This is the first time the fairy speaks.
“We can help you, to preserve three lives.”
The fact that there are four of you possibly being hunted doesn't even cross your mind. As far as you're concerned, you want them protected. You're their friend, right? And they'd do the same for you. No doubt about it.
It is with indecent haste that you try to accept the proposal. But you're getting ahead of yourself. The light fairy holds up a hand.
“There is a price for this. There always is.”
Price? What price friendship? What price life?
“Three favors owed, for three lives traded.”
Wouldn't they go to the same lengths for you?
“For a life thrice, you must repay in kind.”
And there's the fine print of the contract. This is where you make your mistake. This is where you kick yourself, every single time.
“Whatever price I have to pay! It doesn't matter!” Poor you. Not for a moment considering yourself. Not for a moment considering other people. You have to protect your friends, right? What kind of friend wouldn't?
“Do you swear to this?”
You nod your head frantically. “I do, I do!”
“Then it is done. Remember the favors you owe us.”
At this point, you had breathed a deep sigh of relief. At this point, every time you dream it after, you scream at yourself. And then you wake up screaming.
The worst part is that they bargained fairly. For certain values of fair. But you're convinced- no, certain- that they had an ulterior motive. That they arranged for this. That this bargain was not struck in good faith, that they manipulated a poor little rabbit, who was not in the stablest of mental states. You always wondered who had tipped off the Lunarians to where you and Tewi had hidden Kaguya and Eirin.
The morning after you struck this bargain, Eirin finished her work on the Hourai Elixir- the drink that makes you immortal. Every time you think of this, you want to scream. Two of the three you'd intended, but never specified, drank from the Hourai Elixir. Two of the three you'd intended, but never specified, became immortal, protected by your bargain.
The third you'd intended, never got her share. No, Mokou came in. And saw her rival Kaguya downing some substance, of which there was only one share left.
Letting Kaguya get an edge on her? Never. You'd walked in on Mokou drinking the last portion, with Tewi, who you had just intended to give the Elixir to.
You'd never been so horrified in your life.
She presumed to drink what you had bargained so dear for. She ruined what you had planned. If one of the favors were against Mokou, you don't know if you'd have any problems doing it at all, mentally. The small problem of immortality, though, precludes this.
What you do know, is that you bargained three lives in the future for three lives in the present. And since you never specified, you only got two that you had intended. But you still got three.
The worst part is, the deal is still scrupulously fair. So equitable. So goddamned just. And every once in a while, you can hear those damned fairies laughing. Laughing at you. If you're going to deal with the devil, at least, for God's sake, Reisen, know what you're getting into!
You twitch awake. You're still under Sanae, and the Hakurei Shrine is illuminated by the soft white light of a half-moon.
Thankfully, there is still no letter in sight.
However. There is only the soft sussuration of two sleeping people in this room. The third is awake. On top of you, and she's inched her way up so that her face is the barest millimeter from yours. Her green hair tickles your ears softly, and her voice is the barest whisper. “Hello, Reisen.”
[ ] Um. Hi?
[ ] You've got some hardcore morning breath.
[ ] What's a girl like you doing on a girl like me? [ ] Write-in.
Votes for the second favor will come to a close when I start the second thread.