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[X] Bafflement

[X] Female
[X] Fighter/Wizard


Just then, your senses jump instinctively – your voidsense picked something up… the additional presence of something. Your grip loosens slightly as you raise an eyebrow in question - who would be coming into Mayohiga? Not yet having picked up on your change of attention, Ran pulls away, thinking to raise her face to yours. Then both of you jump at the sound of sliding wood over wood one room over; a door.

“Lady Yukari!” Ran whispers urgently, spurring you both to scramble to your feet. You instantly form a robe over your body, but the shikigami has to scramble for her own, where it was tossed to the floor. She hasn’t so much put one arm through a sleeve, however, when your voidsense pops again, sensing a presence right behind the door to this room, a presence that slides open the door –

You step between it and Ran’s turned back. Blockade drops a massive cube of polished wood as tall as you in each direction as you attempt to buy Ran the time she needs to finish tying her belt. It’s not enough; a rift opens up and swallows up the blockade in the blink of an eye. Not that it would have lasted more than a few seconds, anyways, and not that Yukari wouldn’t know of what the two of you have done, but your sense of modesty compels you make the effort.

Not that your eyes are pointed towards the kitsune. You’re too busy confronting Yukari.

She’s drop-dead beautiful, her face somehow blending the innocence of youth with the sultry experience of an older woman. Her dress, while extravagantly laced and tailored, is modest enough to pass even a nun’s inspection, and yet it manages to cling to her body in such a way that tantalizes at the body underneath. That body has slender, girlish limbs, modestly veiled from view with long white gloves and dainty shoes, and yet the bust and hips speak of womanhood in full bloom.

It makes you nauseous. There’s not one part of it that wasn’t deliberately crafted to not enrapture the eye. You wonder how much time and effort went into that doll-like body – and you don’t mean that as a compliment.

“Ran,” she says icily, her eyes hard with disapproval. Ran is shaking like an autumn leaf in the wind as she turns around, face downcast, unable to meet her master’s disapproval to her face. You have no compunctions, and walk to your lover’s side, head held high, chin raised in defiance.

Yukari’s eyes widen for just the slightest second, shocked at your lack of deference, but she rearranges her features back into their expression of absolute disdain afterward. Immediately she ups the ante, her beauty transforming into pure, raw presence. A rift slowly opens up behind her, violet at the borders before turning that impossibly dark black of abyss as the rift deepens. Within that emptiness… eyes. Eyes, tendrils, hands, all sorts of unknown, unspeakable terrors, stored away in an extra-dimensional space by nothing more than this woman’s whim and fancy, revealed to you in an attempt to inspire awe in you.

Ran makes a choking sound of distress. Still staring Yukari down, you reach for her arm and pull her slightly closer to you, slipping that same arm around her shoulders when she huddles half beside, half behind you in an attempt to cower.

One of Yukari’s eyebrows twitches. “Sai no Kawarou,” she hisses. “You’ve caused me a lot of trouble.”

“I apologize,” you answer lightly, just a hair away from being flippant. Really, you should be prostrating yourself if you want to get out of this situation on the best possible terms – but no, you’re not about to surrender your dignity. Not to someone like her, at any rate.

“Ran,” Yukari says again. “I’m not going to repeat myself.” Obviously there’s some mental rapport flowing between them. You try and get a glimpse into it through your bond to Ran, but unlike earlier that bond is opaque now, as it should be; a mirrored window for Ran to monitor you, and not for you to delve into your master’s mind. Perhaps she’s consciously keeping it closed?

Ran whimpers, but shrugs your arm off of her. You let your fingers catch the edge of her robe’s sleeve, unconsciously trying to delay her, but she shakes her head and whisks it away, tucking her hands into her sleeves as she hustles to her master’s side and rear, turns towards you, and kowtows, the very image of an attendant.

“If there’s a quarrel, it’s just between you and me,” you declare. You’d prefer that Ran be kept out of whatever conflict there may be; which, given Yukari’s attitude, seems to be quite a bit.

“Of course,” Yukari says, raising your hopes only to dash them as she continues, “Ran is not at fault, despite whatever corruptions you may have inflicted upon her. She will be purified in due time.”

“You as well?!” you spit, throwing your hands up in disbelief, spinning on your heel and pacing a quick half-circle away from her, unable to face her – stupidity. “When Youki thought I did things to Youmu, at least he was charmed. But, you, you – “

“I am in perfect control of my sensibilities, unlike that mortal. Now – turn and face me, child!” she barks, sounding for all the world like an angry mother. Something grabs at your mind and pulls

She’s not your mother. Your will hardens, and the compulsion slides off without purchase. You hear her splutter with disbelief; seconds later the attack returns, twice as strong, and just as futile as you iron heart surge once again. You raise a hand in a decidedly dismissive gesture as you continue pacing, completely ignoring her presence. Not that you think you can keep this battle of wills up for long; the Yama was able to freeze your limbs with her powers with a strength and rapidity to the point where all you were able to do was thrash in place, and you expect to find yourself in a similar position soon enough.

And yet each attack is as ineffectual as the first, even as Yukari’s manipulations grow exponentially in power. You surprise yourself; perhaps somewhere in all your experience of surviving the Saigyou Ayakashi’s subversion, with having you soul devoured and mind transplanted yet again, with Jizo and Hope – maybe somewhere in all of these events, your will grew, reinforced itself?

Anyways, you won’t question this development. At length her efforts subside, and a rift opens up in a circle around you. Every direction you look in is her scowling face – when you look up and down, rifts appear there as well. You ultimately close your eyes just to give the appearance of not paying attention, although your other senses refuse to give you reprieve.

“Spare me the show,” you sigh at length, matching your hand to your brow in a show of annoyance. “Can we just talk as two equals?”

“We are not equals. You are nothing.”

So much for diplomacy. “That’s funny. You seem to be having trouble lording it over me. Isn’t it easier to just…?” You trail off, not entirely sure what you’re referring to yourself

“I will not step down to your level.”

“Suit yourself.” You shrug. “I’m spending less energy than you.”

“You have far less than me to burn.”

“That’s because I don’t burn any on futile goals.”

“Why did you choose Gensokyo?” Yukari suddenly changes subject. A small victory; she ceded the point.

“For what, precisely?”

“You plucked my servant from and shoved your people into the same land. Were there no better places?”

You think back to what your plans were earlier. “Your servant is very special. Once we found her, I decided it would be simplest to deposit the survivors in the same land. If none of us survived, at least the servant would be able to come back and explain their presence, save them a possible unsavory end.”

“And now they’re out of control,” she snaps.

You think back to what Ran told you, about the Travelers refusing to bend underneath Yukari’s thumb, and snort derisively. “I’m sorry if your little power play got snubbed, but none of us are particularly fond of overt displays of force. That’s exactly what I fought against, and exactly what they survived. You’ll forgive their antipathy for such methods.”

You can imagine her chewing her lip in an attempt to control her wrath. “This isn’t related to that,” she says, a lie you can see straight through. But you let her speak the rest of her piece; there’s not much point in trying to contradict her at this point. “I’m talking about how they fit in with Gensokyo; or rather, how they don’t in the slightest.”

You raise an eyebrow. “Integration of societies is never a smooth process, but from what Ran and I discussed, they weren’t exactly making their own sovereign nation in protest.”

“Can’t you see! In so many ways, that’s even worse. By integrating themselves to the degree they have, when there’s a fight it won’t merely be war, but civil war. Families will be broken – “

“Hold up,” you interrupt her, blood running cold – well, at least it feels like it is. “Who says there’s going to be war? These people just survived an apocalypse, they’re not about to cause trouble – “

“They survived an apocalypse, which makes them value their lives and those of their new families to a fanatical degree. And while they don’t openly pursue conflict, there is friction; and when the dam breaks, when Gensokyo’s youkai finally realize that these modern humans are anathema to their very existence, then believe me, your Travelers will strike the first blow to be sure that they’re the last ones standing. Gensokyo will burn because of what you did,” she declares, “even if you can’t see it.”

You cross your arms. “No. No, I’m afraid I can’t see it. And I won’t see it. I’ll make sure of it if I have to. Not that I have anything better to do.”

She pauses. “What makes you so sure of that?” Yukari says. Every sense of yours suddenly screams out in alarm.

She didn’t come here to talk.

The rifts around you ripple ominously, her face and presence disappearing from them only to return to the original void. “Ran, release this monster from your service,” she says smoothly, confidently, so sure that her shikigami will obey without question or hesitation.

But her words are met with nothing but silence; you extend a tentative overture through your link to Ran in turn. “Ran?” she asks again, her voice trembling with a mixture of disbelief and fury at being defied.

“Lady Yukari…” she starts tentatively.

“You dare defy me?”

“… there are many things you said you would never ask of me.”

“Saving your own life has always been a priority for me, Ran, do not think that I care for you any less now, even now, even if he has sullied you – “

“Do you think that any of what I did was against my free will?”

“You mated with that villain, no servant of mine would stoop so low without – “

“I did not stoop to his level.” Ran’s voice is becoming stronger; your voidsense is completely thrown off by the rifts surrounding you but you’re sure you can hear the sound of her feet on the wood, of her rising to her feet. “I should be privileged to call myself his mate – “

“Ran, Ran, I understand that you’re delusional, that you’ve been enchanted – “

Wait, this conversation is sounding awfully familiar somehow. You open your mouth to protest, but Ran shouts back before even you do. “Me? Me, enchanted by him? You think that it took sorcery and contracts to convince me to lie with him? Must I remind you that he is my shikigami, just as I am yours?”

“Which would in a normal case make this a complete perversion of a proper master-shikigami relatioship,” Yukari scoffs, “but ignoring that – he’s insidious, you think you’re in control, but you’re not – “

“I seduced him!” Ran shouts. “Not the other way around.”

“You only did that because of his influence.”

“His ‘influence’? If you mean the history of his past deeds, his personality, his attitudes, his philosophies and mentalities – “

“Those things he planted into you when you were his servant. A failsafe so that he could return despite his banishment, a phylactery of sorts – “

“You’re being ridiculous,” you snap, finally managing to get a word in. “Do you really think I was capable of such a feat on purpose? The idea that Ran could recreate a functioning mind was completely unknown to me – how could I plan anything without such knowledge?”

“And yet here you stand, defying us to the last,” Yukari says.

“If I were to make such a scheme, I’d have planned it a whole damn lot better than things have gone!”

“So Hakugyokurou would have been a complete loss?”

That idea, that you meant for the tragedy in Hakugyokurou to happen, is so completely foreign and alien to you that you simply stand there slackjawed in amazement for a second. “You don’t understand at all, do you?”

“Do you honestly believe that I wouldn’t see through all your schemes, your plots?”

“I don’t have any!” you scream back. “Get that through your head, will you?!”

The youkai lets out a long, humorless laugh. “Oh, dear, you’re too funny. No one with that much power plans to do nothing with it.”

“Well, I’m afraid you’re wrong.” You raise your chin higher, although there’s no single person for you to see. “I plan to do nothing to it.” To purify the Taint with Hope – to negate it, to nullify it, to make it a nonfactor. “No one should have that much power. Not Him, not me, and certainly not you, if this conversation is any judge.” The rifts ripple. Somehow you get the impression that what’s in them is supposed to scare you; you yawn instead. “And leave Ran alone. She chose me, and I accepted her.”

“Of course she chose you. With you literally dominating her thoughts, there’s no one else she could choose.”

You flush slightly, but press on. “Maybe you should consider that it doesn’t always take magic for someone to have another constantly on their mind,” you propose.

“Oh? So then what does it take?” Yukari asks, her voice patronizing. You open your mouth, but the words tangle themselves in your throat –

So Ran speaks for you. “It takes love, Lady Yukari!” she cries. “Maybe you’ve forgotten that.”

The rifts around you practically explode, but they just barely avoid swallowing you up. “Love?” Ran’s master repeats, her voice brittle and scathing. “Love? Love! Ha! Aha! You honestly think that love is…” She can’t resist – she just laughs, and laughs, and laughs, on, and on, and on, on…

While her misplaced sense of humor plays out, you reach a mental hand towards Ran, a small creek of molten metal. This time, you’re met not with blankness, but a perfectly balanced storm of water, fire, and steam that moves to embrace your presence in her mind, no matter how small. In the billowing flames, rushing waters, spewing steam, you can sense her feelings for you, irrationalities and paradoxes and complications, and you look inside yourself for those same –


The only warning you get is a moment of feeling a third entity, nebulous and violet colored, peer into your connection and change something, and then – that entire connection, your shikigami contract, ends in the blink of an eye, as neatly cut as a criminal’s neck upon the guillotine. The trauma of literally losing part of your mind causes you to collapse to the ground, your body’s borders becoming weak and indistinct as you struggle to remain corporeal. It’s not just trauma that causes you to weaken: you were supported in no small amount by Ran’s input of energy, and without realizing it you had started letting it maintain your base form, literally relying on it to exist.

So this is the depth of a shikigami bond. You wonder if you weren’t too cruel when you broke the bond back in His citadel, when you revealed your plan to both her and Marcus – but she had been in a healthier state.

The bond is gone, its absence deeper than any wound, more painful that the Saigyou Ayakashi’s attack. Consciously having to redirect your focus into recreating your limbs, you shakily call out, “R-R-Ran? Are you there?”

Ran doesn’t do more than sob back, but she’s there, and alive. You can’t see nor sense her, but at least you can hear her.

“Well, I’m glad that’s over,” Yukari says lightly, as if the act were of no more importance than stepping over a rock.

“How did you do that?” you growl, slowly putting your feet underneath you in order to stand. It’s… difficult. Overly so.

“Manipulation of the border between master and servant. It was practically nonexistent already, I daresay it was effortless to break. Oh, I’m sorry, did you think my power extended only to space and time?” she teases.

‘Borders’. So not just portals, then. A power like that… absolutely absurd. Given sufficient thought and power, it could probably be capable of near anything. The fact that you were able to resist her compulsions rises even higher on your list of things to find an explanation for.

“Well, seeing as neither of you are in a state to talk much anymore, we may as well be done with this,” she sighs. The rifts begin widening, extending themselves towards you, welcoming you into the abyss beyond them. “Goodbye, Sai no Kawarou. You won’t be bothering us any further.”

“And what will the others say, when they find out you’ve disposed of me?” you ask, desperately trying to buy time while you attempt to put together a spell.

“Oh, that you went out of control and had to be put down – or rather, away. They’ll be annoyed, but they’ll understand.”

“What will they say when Ran tells them what actually happened?”

“She would never do such a thing. I’m sure of it.”

You don’t believe that for a second. “Ran, tell me you won’t forgive this.”

You hear the kitsune swallow. “The me of now won’t ever forget…. But the me… of the future… I don’t think I’ll even remember you.”

“What?” you croak out, uncomprehending.

“If you think for a moment that I’d let Ran continue living with this painful memory of your loss,” Yukari explains, “you’re wrong. I’m not that cruel.”

“But Ran said that could destroy… one’s identity…?”

“Her identity is that of my servant. She needs no other identity.”

“You cold-hearted bitch,” you curse, unable to assemble any further logical argument. There’s really nothing more you can say about it. You stare into the rifts – rift, singular now. They’ve combined. You’ve seconds left in this world.

This world.

The tentacles, the eyes, the creepy-crawly things in the rift – in a burst of insight, you realize you recognize them. Yukari may have been using them as an intimidation tool, but in reality they’re fundamental defense mechanisms of the Border.

The Border.

The Border that you have a head full of knowledge of now. Ran’s final gift to you as your master.

… the head full of knowledge that Yukari hasn’t made any sign that she knows you have.



[ ] Let yourself pass through the rift into the Border. You’re sure that you can survive whatever traumas the Border contains, after all you’ve gone through, and at length, you’re sure you can find a way to escape it. Probably. In theory.
-[ ] As a final act of defiance, jump into the rift underneath your own power.

[ ] Teleport somewhere else in Mayohiga and try and find an exit from there. Yukari will instantly know that you’re attempting to evade her and pursue you, but assuming you can shake her off, finding a way out of Mayohiga will probably be easier. You think. Hopefully.

[ ] Write-in? Anything that takes longer than a few seconds defaults to the first option of getting swallowed up by a rift into the Border, but of course this might be your ultimate goal anyways.
[x] Let yourself pass through the rift into the Border. You’re sure that you can survive whatever traumas the Border contains, after all you’ve gone through, and at length, you’re sure you can find a way to escape it. Probably. In theory.
-[x] As a final act of defiance, jump into the rift underneath your own power.

I don't think avoiding the gap is possible, it'd be better to save the energy to bust out.
[x] Let yourself pass through the rift into the Border. You’re sure that you can survive whatever traumas the Border contains, after all you’ve gone through, and at length, you’re sure you can find a way to escape it. Probably. In theory.
-[X] As a final act of defiance, jump into the rift underneath your own power.

I find it hilarious that she's accusing Sai of plotting dastardly deeds mainly because she plots dastardly deeds.

Of note is that, contrary to most expectations, Sai is straight up no-selling Yukari's attacks. Is that a property of Sai's techniques? I recall Sai and Ran discussing it, how she would not have been able to escape after the summoning, the whole 'binary, yes or no' description - in D&D terms, failing her saving throw.

So, is that type of magic so absolute that Yukari can't fuck with the boundaries? Shiki simply overpowered Sai, so it can't be what Yukari's doing, or else Sai'd be dead or gone by now.
[ ] Let yourself pass through the rift into the Border. You’re sure that you can survive whatever traumas the Border contains, after all you’ve gone through, and at length, you’re sure you can find a way to escape it. Probably. In theory.
-[ ] As a final act of defiance, jump into the rift underneath your own power.
Also, this is thread 4. You labeled it as thread 5. Didn't notice until just now, or I'd have included it in my vote.
[ ] Disjunction, wait, shit, no, we're not at a high enough caster level... Dimensional Lock- no, still not high enough. Spell Turning wouldn't get the whole spell (goddamn epic-level casters) and it's probably not even a magical effect that can be nullified with Antimagic Field. ...can Dimensional Anchor even self-target the caster?
-[ ] Uh... block the gap with Wall of Iron? Black Tentacles? Roll to disbelieve? When in doubt, Iron Heart Surge?
--[ ] Ah, fuck.

...fine then, let's follow the rails.

[X] Let yourself pass through the rift into the Border. You’re sure that you can survive whatever traumas the Border contains, after all you’ve gone through, and at length, you’re sure you can find a way to escape it. Probably. In theory.
-[X] That theory possibly including some form of scry blocker (for instance, Mind Blank or Private Sanctum) and a Plane Shift if nothing else works.

If we're going along with it, let's not make her too suspicious by jumping the fuck in, shall we? Have her think we're out of the picture and surprised as hell when we turn up again, rather than wondering if we somehow had an ace up our sleeves, like how we shrugged off her compulsions, and potentially implicating Ran further.
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[X] Let yourself pass through the rift into the Border. You’re sure that you can survive whatever traumas the Border contains, after all you’ve gone through, and at length, you’re sure you can find a way to escape it. Probably. In theory.

You've made a very unsympathetic Yukari. And this, Sai, is why it's never a smart idea to just throw away that kind of power. It puts you at the mercy of those who have it.

I wouldn't jump through the portal ourselves, just because who knows what Yukari could do. Even if we take our own exit, the trip might be pretty nasty.
[X] Let yourself pass through the rift into the Border. You’re sure that you can survive whatever traumas the Border contains, after all you’ve gone through, and at length, you’re sure you can find a way to escape it. Probably. In theory.

Hmm... I'm torn between not tipping Yukari off and pulling a Terminator 2 ending and giving Ran a thumbs up as we slide into the gap. (Alternately giving Yukari the finger.)
[X] Let yourself pass through the rift into the Border. You’re sure that you can survive whatever traumas the Border contains, after all you’ve gone through, and at length, you’re sure you can find a way to escape it. Probably. In theory.

So we finally meet Yukari, I am not disappoint.

We have Ran ready to be reset and Sai is onboard Yukari's fun fun train to netherland, things are looking up!

Sai, you are a cosmic plaything.

Perhaps the fact that Yukari isn't thinking straight, due to her anger, could be exploited somehow.
[x] Let yourself pass through the rift into the Border. You’re sure that you can survive whatever traumas the Border contains, after all you’ve gone through, and at length, you’re sure you can find a way to escape it. Probably. In theory.
-[x] As a final act of defiance, jump into the rift underneath your own power.
--[x] Canonball!
Yukari's reaction is interesting. She's not acting very rationally here, but the 'why' behind that is what I can't stop thinking about.

I don't think she's acting bitchy for the sake of acting bitchy. Yukari is used to being in absolute control of her situation, and Sai's screwed that up utterly by stealing Ran's contract (temporarily), dumping a bunch of powerful, intractable outsiders on her lap, and nearly getting her best friend killed. Yukari's grip on things is slipping, and I think that frightens her. Hence, her knee-jerk reaction to destroy Sai when she has a chance. (Thus proving Sai's point about that no-one should possess that kind of power.

Anyway, enough analysis.

[x] Let yourself pass through the rift into the Border. You’re sure that you can survive whatever traumas the Border contains, after all you’ve gone through, and at length, you’re sure you can find a way to escape it. Probably. In theory.
-[x] As a final act of defiance, jump into the rift underneath your own power.

Best way to deal with a problem is to go through, rather than run away. I just hope we can do something before Ran gets mindwiped.
Is it possible to open a portal to behind Yukari as soon as we go through her's? because that would be hilarious.
Quick question: Where the hell was Jizo?

Presumably off hunting the escaped tree and/or blocked by borders, but still. He bitch-slapped the Yama, and Yukari herself notes in canon that Shiki could wipe the floor with her, Reimu, and Yuuka simultaneously; there's no real reason he couldn't have helped.

Maybe he's about to do so once we get out of Mayohiga. Maybe he was in fact tied up with the tree. Or maybe I'm thinking too hard about this. Probably the last one.
[x] Teleport somewhere else in Mayohiga and try and find an exit from there. Yukari will instantly know that you’re attempting to evade her and pursue you, but assuming you can shake her off, finding a way out of Mayohiga will probably be easier. You think. Hopefully.

The only rails in this story are those in your head, anon

Thread 1: >>153744
Thread 2: >>155091
Thread 3: >>158584


Suffice to say that Yukari's attacks have an all-or-nothing component; they are binary, as you say. I can tell you that her attempts to manipulate borders between things like Sai's "obedience and disobedience", "calm and terror", were completely thwarted/failed to have an impact. However, Ran was not similarly impenetrable, and thus the shikigami bond was vulnerable to the severance.

As far as my interpretations, Yukari's gap powers are just as flexible as fans like to dream of. The problem is whether or not she has the actual, pure, raw power to overcome a iron heart and a perfect mind.


See >>163006. If direct combat with an eldritch reality-bending abomination were a viable option, I'd have put it down. Let's just say I want to save us the trouble and tedium of an abrupt bad end this time.


Unsympathetic Yukari was intentional, yes. I knew from the start I wanted to portray Yukari's manipulative, scheming side as a major character flaw, not as something cutesy and amusing.

Because in real life, no one likes a meddler.

As for having power to resist those who do... let me just mention the nuclear arms race. Ideally, no one needs them, and, for better or worse, Sai is a pretty strong idealist. And look at her. Using her gap-powers to try and solve all her problems, other than being reasonable and thinking things through, negotiating for the most satisfying conclusion to all parties involved. When all you have is a hammer...


>Perhaps the fact that Yukari isn't thinking straight, due to her anger, could be exploited somehow.

She hasn't given any sign of knowing quite a few things that went on between Sai and Ran. This is your current ace in the hole.


>teleport, grease; many of the D&D staples) he does not know any spells that let him traverse planes directly. When he says he thinks he can escape the Border, it's because of the info-dump that Ran gave to him, and not through any direct application of arcane talent.


>[The Saigyou Ayakashi] escaped into the planes. Jizo has taken responsibility. He’s out of contact for now, but he swore to us that he won’t stop hounding that monster of youkai until he brings it down and purifies the Taint it escaped with – and any Taint that it spreads.

Jizo is playing gumshoe to the tree's Carmen Sandiego. Sai's not going to get much babysitting from him.

>lots of voting for [X] Jump into the rift

You have no idea how tempted I am to make the rift lead to a lake.
[x]A few seconds seconds is plenty of time for a middle-finger lecture.
-[x]"I pity you, you know that? So wrapped up in your power plays that you can't even understand that anyone might not be. Even He wasn't that far gone."

As pissed as Yukari is right now, she'll probably forget to check what Ran passed on to us before executing her brainwipe - unless we give her a reason to suspect she should check. Like going in there on our own power. So for the love of all that is good and holy, stop voting to jump in on your own.
Deleted my vote to avoid confusion.

[x] Let yourself pass through the rift into the Border. You’re sure that you can survive whatever traumas the Border contains, after all you've gone through, and at length, you’re sure you can find a way to escape it. Probably. In theory.
-[x]A few seconds seconds is plenty of time for a middle-finger lecture.
--[x]"You remind me of Him."

This man is correct. Let's not give Yukari reason to mindrape Ran more than she already will. Also, who knows if/when we'll need to infiltrate Mayohiga, and it would be a lot easier if Yukari didn't know we know.
[x] Let yourself pass through the rift into the Border. You’re sure that you can survive whatever traumas the Border contains, after all you've gone through, and at length, you’re sure you can find a way to escape it. Probably. In theory.
-[x]A few seconds seconds is plenty of time for a middle-finger lecture.
--[x]"You remind me of Him."

>Unsympathetic Yukari was intentional, yes. I knew from the start I wanted to portray Yukari's manipulative, scheming side as a major character flaw, not as something cutesy and amusing.
>Because in real life, no one likes a meddler.
Yes. YES. I have been waiting to see someone to do this. Bitch cannot keep her fingers outta everybody's pies.
[x] Let yourself pass through the rift into the Border. You’re sure that you can survive whatever traumas the Border contains, after all you've gone through, and at length, you’re sure you can find a way to escape it. Probably. In theory.
-[x]A few seconds seconds is plenty of time for a middle-finger lecture.
--[x]"You remind me of Him."

I like this one. The more things that say Fuck You Yukari, the better. (Way too many doujins and people put Yukari in the pedestal as the ultimate power in 'soak. It's supremely annoying)

That's what I was thinking. I took it more as Sai ending things on his own terms, rather than let Yukari do it. Still, a good verbal middle-finger would really work here.
Sorry, deleted my post. Anyways, it said that Sai stepping out doesn't instantly imply he has a plan, only that he's refusing to bow to Yukari. It works even better if you add a proper "Fuck You" line.
Jizo is the representation of a mind that is stuck on a single purpose. Just like Sai was, but his soul prevented him from becoming just like Him and going full 'the ends justify the means' mode (because it was good or because he wanted to be the opposite of him in every aspect? I dunno, it is like asking if Batman hunts criminals because he's good or just hunts criminals because they killed their parents; and would as well kill cops, firemen or clowns if they were the ones who pulled the trigger)

Jizo doesn't have that, so he will in the end become what Him was. In a sense, He was his moral compass.

I know he said he didn't but a mind without soul derived to a single purpose will (in my opinion) value that purpose over everything else in the end. And that means he will rationalize some bullshit excuse to kill us (eliminate anyone that has met the corrupted mana as to stop anyone from ever trying that again?)

I hope I'm wrong.
Isn't this a bit sad? A thousands years-old being so corrupted with power that acts like a spoiled child. I wonder how she'll be if the only thing she gained in those years were experience?
Votes will be called in 24 hours. Currently the majority is to not jump intentionally, and a strong sentiment to give Yukari a final tongue-lashing before getting swallowed up.
[X] Let yourself pass through the rift into the Border. You’re sure that you can survive whatever traumas the Border contains, after all you've gone through, and at length, you’re sure you can find a way to escape it. Probably. In theory.
-[X]A few seconds seconds is plenty of time for a middle-finger lecture.
--[X]"You remind me of Him."

I can't remember the last time I read a story where Yukari was Absolutely In Control, at least not to this brutal an extent.
[X] Let yourself pass through the rift into the Border. You’re sure that you can survive whatever traumas the Border contains, after all you've gone through, and at length, you’re sure you can find a way to escape it. Probably. In theory.
-[X]A few seconds seconds is plenty of time for a middle-finger lecture.
--[X]"You remind me of Him."
[x] Let yourself pass through the rift into the Border. You’re sure that you can survive whatever traumas the Border contains, after all you've gone through, and at length, you’re sure you can find a way to escape it. Probably. In theory.
-[x]A few seconds seconds is plenty of time for a middle-finger lecture.
--[x]"You remind me of Him."
--[x] Jump into the Abyss.

I thought jumping in was implied with this vote, but it doesn't seem like it, so I added it on.
[x] Let yourself pass through the rift into the Border. You’re sure that you can survive whatever traumas the Border contains, after all you've gone through, and at length, you’re sure you can find a way to escape it. Probably. In theory.
-[x]A few seconds seconds is plenty of time for a middle-finger lecture.
--[x]"You remind me of Him."
--[x] Jump into the Gap.

I can't see this ending well for anyone involved. On the other hand, from this point there aren't many ways to go save up.
[x] Let yourself pass through the rift into the Border. You’re sure that you can survive whatever traumas the Border contains, after all you've gone through, and at length, you’re sure you can find a way to escape it. Probably. In theory.
-[x]A few seconds seconds is plenty of time for a middle-finger lecture.
--[x]"Why talk when you can use power right> You remind me of him"
--[x] Do not jump
File 135373394554.jpg - (137.79KB, 850x638 , Yukari Ran Mostly Gap.jpg) [iqdb]
TELEPORT: 1 seconds is plenty of time for a middle-finger lecture." Just thought that was amusing.

Votes called. Pic related. Writing now. Please wait warmly~
By the time we get out, ran's memory will be gone and everyone will be against us-and our group may be destroyed. I hope I'm wrong.
File 135377802453.jpg - (27.70KB, 300x300 , 1347742990305.jpg) [iqdb]
Damn you for already using FUUUUUUUUU.gif
File 13538375022.jpg - (73.54KB, 799x473 , Gap.jpg) [iqdb]

[x] Let yourself pass through the rift into the Border. You’re sure that you can survive whatever traumas the Border contains, after all you've gone through, and at length, you’re sure you can find a way to escape it. Probably. In theory.
-[x]A few seconds seconds is plenty of time for a middle-finger lecture.
--[x]"You remind me of Him."


An entryway into a completely foreign and most likely perilous plane of existence is creeping towards you with the inevitability of an executioner, and yet you feel no fear, no terror, no desperation. Just a cool, steely calm. You can’t stare Yukari in the eye, but you settle for one within the rift, letting your unwavering gaze pierce right through it.

It blinks first, and slides behind a tentacle. You smirk.

Not that you’re feeling completely unflappable. It hurts inside; your severed shikigami bond is still raw and screaming with pain. But that doesn’t matter right now; what matters

“Yukari, you really don’t understand, do you?” you say lightly. The rift throbs slightly in response to your voice – you daresay it almost trembles. “Do you think that this little show intimidates me?” You fold your arms across your chest. “You know, for all your power, you’re the one wondering what’s going to happen. I know what’s going to happen – I’m going to sucked in – but you, despite holding all the cards, you are the one wondering if this, all this,” you say, gesturing with your hands around you, “is going to work. Funny, isn’t it? You’re scared when it comes to using your power. You’re not sure if it’s enough. You’re not sure if it’ll ever be enough.”

You close your eyes. The rift’s progress has slowed, giving you time to continue your lecture. “You know how powerful He was. You saw the aftermath of what He did to my plane. And yet even with all that power, it was He who broke first, He who lost His nerve in His final moments, and not me. Do you know why that is? It’s because I’ve lived my entire life with the knowledge that He was far greater than anyone could possibly imagine. I accepted that I would never have the power that He would. With that realization, I could face Him on at least one even battleground – one of will. It became not a battle of raw power, but of courage to defy Him regardless of it.”

“Now, you can throw me away and continue your scheming, but I’ll warn you now, Yukari: you already know that there are people, ‘my’ Travelers, who refuse to bow down to your demands.” A small smile flits onto your face. “It’s like the battle I fought all over again. They’re just like me.”

“And you? You remind me of Him.”

That was all she could take, it seems, as in that very moment the world turns strange colors, and –

– you –

– fall –

– into –

– a –

– strange –

– world –


You’re not sure how long it takes you to reorient. It could have been seconds, it could have been millennia. But Ran –

– kind Ran, witty Ran, gentle Ran, loving Ran –

– Ran gave you a gift before your time with her was over, before you made it any farther than a single night of whispered nothings and sweet words –

– a gift that blossoms in your mind like a –

… well, you’re not entirely sure what it would blossom like. Not really like a flower, not really like a sun, not really like… anything.

But at least the world is something now.

It’s like a filter, almost. You can feel thought processes not native to your mind arranging the jumbled information your senses take in, turning it into something more comfortable and familiar to you.

It’s like a rock, no larger than your height in diameter, but its surface pulls you towards it as solidly as the ground – of course, “you” is an interesting idea right now, as you’re not actually physically present. Connected to that rock are… bridges, woven of nothing but… something. Something not as solid as the rock, at any rate. Hundreds, no, thousands of these bridges are connected to each rock, of which there must be millions.

How a thousand bridges connect to such a small rock, and how the bridges don’t hopelessly snarl with each other or even connect, is beyond your comprehension. You stop trying to think about it soon enough.

Each rock is unique – there’s a something different about each and every different one. Not that you can really identify what that something is, but you recognize that each rock is distinct from the others, kind of like fingers on the same hand; they’re all bone surrounded by sinew, muscle, blood vessels, skin, nails, hair, but each one serves a slightly different purpose. And as your attention shifts from one to another, they become as familiar to you as the fingers on your hands – well, kind of. You don’t actually have fingers that are fingers of their own accord, but you can form fingers, fingers that you recognize as your fingers, even if those fingers aren’t –

Ugh, forget it.

In the space where there are neither rocks or bridges are the Border’s defenses, appearing as nothing more threatening than the occasional unblinking eye or tentacle, placidly curled up on itself. As long as you don’t intentionally bother them, they pose absolutely no threat.

So, it seems the only thing to do is move around and see what you find…


You wander for a time. Each one is as precious and unique as a young child, and yet not a single one promises anything other than more bridges to more rocks.

The rocks are actually objects. Piles of objects, come to think of it, but the Border’s a weird place to keep physical objects, so they kind of blend and homogenize into “stuff” without careful examination, more like the rocks you’ve come to think of them as than like mounds of distinct things. You take a deeper look; the objects aren’t so much bound to each other as they are universally attracted to points in space, some natural phenomenon of the Border.

As for the objects themselves… they’re made of all different materials, some of which are familiar like wood and iron, but there are a great deal of strange alloys and other… compounds. Lots of enchantments; alchemicals too, so they must have come from civilizations of progress. Most interesting are the corpses, mostly of humans, although there’s also the occasional monster. The humans are dressed in a thousand different ways – they must be from all sorts of different cultures. You wonder how long they’ve been here. Maybe they’ve accumulated over the years?

And how did they get here? Did they find their way into the Border underneath their own power, only to get lost? Or did they suffer a similar fate as you: sealed away by Yukari to rot?

Well, not really rot. They’re strangely preserved, but they are, without a doubt, dead. They were mortals, not spirits, like you. Or maybe they were immortal, as far as organic processes and aging go, but the Border killed them. That sequence of events would be dangerously easy to follow if you didn’t have the senses that Ran gave you, making clean and obvious distinctions between defenses and not-defenses.

But since you do have those senses, you can move around without endangering yourself, and you might as well keep going…


You wander for a long time.

You know… what was Ran to you? A woman, yes. A… friend? You shared some values, perhaps, and some goals. A comrade. Yes, she was certainly that… yet certainly more than that.


You wander for a very long time.

If that was the case, why didn’t she just ask? She said she was afraid you’d reject her, so she… influenced you.

You didn’t resist, though. Why didn’t you resist? You’d never have a reason to let anyone dominate you like that. For someone to exercise their power to make you bend to their whim –

Why didn’t that repulse you so? What was so different about her?


You wander for a very, very long time.

… there’s no good reason. It must have been some new magic. Something primal, perhaps – not quite druidic magic, but something not arcane or inherently supernatural, not something you’d instantly recognize as an attack, and you were taken in before you could think to resist.

You can see that clearly now. Everything she did, every honeyed word, every touch of her body, it was meant to enthrall you, lower your guard.

What she did was as deliberate and planned as your attack upon His Citadel. That fact leaves you… unamused.

The memories you have of her sour. They’re disgusting. How could you have fallen for such a base, primitive trick? You tuck them away, deep into your memory, where they won’t trouble you again of their own accord.

You have more important things to think about, more important than the wiles and charms of a kitsune woman.


You wander for a more few seconds at most.

Everything is different, and yet everything is the same.


… everything, it seems, except for this.

The bridges end abruptly, and space is… different. In that it actually feels like space. It’s not an actual physical place, but something here is deliberately imitating the idea of the real world, and not the metaphysical one of the Border. With a moment of concentration, you attempt to manifest your physical body. It seems to succeed, and feels natural despite your senses saying that this is still part of the Border, where physical . Odd.

You jump off the last rock – yes, jump, because something meant to imitate gravity pulls you down. Your manifested not-quite-here body bends its knees as if it really needs to absorb the shock of the landing’s impact.

… actually, it would be far simpler to think of this place as an actual place distinct from the Border’s weirdness.

You shake your head and stomp your feet a few times on the ground – it’s stone, no, not stone. It’s that processed, deliberately crafted stone-like material… concrete. A concrete footpath. It would be considered extravagant back on your home plane.

The concrete footpath leads up to, of all things, a cottage. It’s nothing if not picturesque, capturing the very essence of a humble but comfortable home, with generous windows to catch the day’s sun. Yes, the day’s sun. Now that you look around, the cottage seems to be in a grassy meadow, underneath a beautiful blue sky filled with just the right number of puffy white clouds. There’s even a brick chimney, a bright red door...

You stroll up to that door, marveling at just how real everything seems even when your other senses, those granted to you by that – your other senses tell you that this is all just a projection. Something wants this to seem like a perfectly normal place. It’s doing a good job of it, too. If you didn’t have those senses, you’d be as comfortable here as on an actual material plane. Is this the work of another person in the Border? No, no, it couldn’t be. You know that the only people with senses like the ones you’re using are Yukari, and – her servant. And you, indirectly, because of said servant’s actions.

Not relevant right now who that is. What matters is that you have them, and can see that this place is more than it seems.

The doorknob rattles in your grasp when the handle refuses to turn more than a hair to either side. It’s locked. Huh. But the lock is just a lock in the traditional sense; a small bolt connecting the door to the doorframe. Not an actual conceptual lock, just projected objects connected in such a way that they won’t move apart from each other in that projected sense.

You want to get inside, though. This is the only thing of interest you’ve encountered yet, and the way this space is projected… well, you need to get “inside” of it to figure out what’s with this place. Or, you know, get inside just because that’s what you’d normally do with a house. Go inside them to… see what’s inside.

This place is so much like a material plane it’s almost unnatural. Well, it is unnatural. For something in the Border, a place like this is most certainly the exception, not the norm. But it feels… yeah, it feels. You can actually feel your manifested body. It’s like an actual place.

This door. You’re sure that a little telekinesis would slide the bolt open – this place seems so real, “real” magic should work without any unforeseen consequences or problems. Or you could try using those new senses of yours to try and find a way to the other side without interacting with the door like the projection wants you to.

Or maybe you could knock like a civilized person?



[ ] Knock the door and politely wait until you’re allowed in. A house like this would certainly have someone living in it, wouldn’t it? It’s so real… there’d be no reason it’d exist for its own sake. It must be in use by someone. Or something.

[ ] Unlock the door and enter. Nothing lives in the Border, that’s an absurd thought. This is an obstacle that you might as well bypass now. Waiting around isn’t going to spontaneously generate a host for your visit.
-[ ] … maybe you should announce yourself anyways?

[ ] Something creative? Knock a window? Climb in through the chimney?
-[ ] OH YEAH!
-[ ] This door. This door. This door. This door. This door. This door. This door. This door. This door. This door. This door. This door. This door. This door. This door. This door. This door. This door. This door. This door. This door. This door. This door. This door. This door. This door. This door. This door. This door. This door. This door. This door. This door!


Sai's undergone a very dramatic change in outlook within the space of this update. It reads very abruptly, I feel, but in reality he's got the entire span of [REDACTED] to come to this conclusion. I wish there was a way to emphasize this passage of time more, but I couldn't really find one...

Also, this update marks the the beginning of the end of this transition between "phases". The first "phase" was on Sai's home plane, and then the second "phase" was in Hakugyokurou. We've just moved out of Mayohiga and into the Border (and this strangely real place within the Border), and I expect to be in [REDACTED] within Gensokyo proper in two updates, at most three.

Heh. It'll have taken 4 threads and over 6 months for a story on /th/ to make it into Gensokyo. I'm amused, somehow.
[X] Knock the door and politely wait until you’re allowed in. A house like this would certainly have someone living in it, wouldn’t it? It’s so real… there’d be no reason it’d exist for its own sake. It must be in use by someone. Or something.

No need to anger any of the touhous, especially if it's one of the few I'm thinking of...
There seem to be a few errors here and there in the update, but it's decipherable nonetheless.

[X] It's obviously a trap. Nuke it from a distance and search the ruins after. Anything powerful enough to afford an exit from this place isn't likely to exist solely on this Plane, nor should it be damaged irreparably by the amount of brute force you can bring to bear.

Oh, alright, alright:

[X] Knock for a very, very, very long time briefly on the door and politely wait for aeons a few minutes. For this house to be present here, it must have some purpose. It may be in use by someone. Or something. In which case, barging in would be rude. If there's no foreseeable reply, however, it can be assumed that the house is uninhabited, or at least is so presently, in which case,
-[X] Peer through the windows, looking into the house and attempting to discern the nature of its purpose or creator. Also keep a figurative (or perhaps not-so-figurative) eye out for enchantments and wards upon and around the structure. If it does seem like the house may afford a way out, then there's nothing for it but to
--[X] Call out a warning, unlock the door and enter. Waiting around isn’t going to spontaneously generate a host for your visit. Well, it might, but it would be foolish to bank on that off-chance.

On a side note, does it seem to anyone else like Sai's had some subtle compulsions cast on him by the Border while unaware Passwall, in the event he inspects the door and finds it trapped?
-[x] When in doubt, wizard it out.
[X] Knock the door and politely wait until you’re allowed in. A house like this would certainly have someone living in it, wouldn’t it? It’s so real… there’d be no reason it’d exist for its own sake. It must be in use by someone. Or something.

Let's at least start by acting civilized. It's a lot easier to start blasting stuff if things go wrong, than to explain why you blew a crater where their house was if it turns out they weren't hostile.

How'd you know I have the SCP wiki open in 3 tabs right now?

[X]Turn around and walk away. Take care not to trample any ██████████.
[X] Knock the door and politely wait until you’re allowed in. A house like this would certainly have someone living in it, wouldn’t it? It’s so real… there’d be no reason it’d exist for its own sake. It must be in use by someone. Or something.

Also, I normally am not a fan of Ran, but this not-so-abrupt shift hit me right where I live. ;_;
[ ] Knock the door and politely wait until you’re allowed in. A house like this would certainly have someone living in it, wouldn’t it? It’s so real… there’d be no reason it’d exist for its own sake. It must be in use by someone. Or something.
[X] Knock the door and politely wait until you're allowed in. A house like this would certainly have someone living in it, wouldn't it? Its so real… there'd be no reason it'd exist for its own sake. It must be in use by someone. Or something.
[x] Knock the door and politely wait until you’re allowed in. A house like this would certainly have someone living in it, wouldn’t it? It’s so real… there’d be no reason it’d exist for its own sake. It must be in use by someone. Or something.

>How'd you know I have the SCP wiki open in 3 tabs right now?
He obviously used ██████████ to tap into your █████████ and peek into your ███████████ a bit. Nothing a typical ██████████████████ couldn't do, really.
[x]Knock on the door
[x]Create a large symphonic with magic if no response. They have to come out eventually.
[x]Knock on the door

Let's try being reasonable at first.
[X] Knock on the door.
-[X] If no response, This door. This door. This door. This door. This door. etc...
>build up a happy situation with Ran
>author takes it all away in one update, changes our emotions from "reticent affection" to "distaste"

It's your story, but still. That's pretty shitty.

should feel angry/disgusted/irritated at Sai.

So please, do keep reading. It'll get better.
What about those of us who were already on the "what the fuck" side of things after the braindiddling?

Well, then, you already knew how you feel, and this is a legitimate realization that you've been duped.

Isn't it grand to be so two-faced?

Hmmm. I just don't like this Yukari as antagonest. Feels off.

Though maybe it is suposed to?
I wonder what the odds are that Yukari could somehow have gotten hit by the Taint and we failed to notice?
She doesn't have the common smphtoms. You know, weird appearance, strange, shinning eyes and Megalomania.

Oh wait.
Don't tell me you're changing your mind on things.
File 135424265561.jpg - (178.55KB, 850x850 , Fellow Strangers in a Strange Land.jpg) [iqdb]

Taint doesn't always manifest itself outwardly in an extremely visible fashion, especially if the mage has embraced it. See: Him.

However, any Hope-infused individual, especially Sai, gains a nose for Taint and vice versa, and if anyone is directly under its influence (unlike say Youki, who was under the influence of a Tainted person but not directly Tainted himself) the equivalent of an alarm will go off for both of them. Hope cannot abide Taint, and vice versa.

Votes called. Pic related. Writing now. Please wait warmly~
It might be best to say "Yukari as AN antagonist."
File 135435452237.jpg - (170.03KB, 850x593 , Yukari Renko Maribel.jpg) [iqdb]

[X] Knock the door and politely wait until you're allowed in. A house like this would certainly have someone living in it, wouldn't it? Its so real… there'd be no reason it'd exist for its own sake. It must be in use by someone. Or something.


This place isn’t your own, so barging in uninvited might not be the best of ideas. While the hundreds of myths involving spirits and sprites being unable to enter homes without an invitation don’t apply to you, it’s quite true that homes are warded against intruders.

After all, your master’s was. It didn’t protect her from being murdered by someone already inside, though –

Your knocks land far more heavily than you intended, the door shuddering within the frame as if you were trying to burst it inward off its hinges. You let out an embarrassed cough. You hope no one noticed that – but that would mean that no one’s inside, which is opposite to your predictions, so…

Far more carefully this time, you rap your knuckles on the surface a few times. And then your senses pick something up; two figures moving tentatively towards the door, their postures suggesting wariness.

When the door finally opens, the first thing you see is the open end of some handheld metal contraption. You’ve enough experience with artifice to expect that unpleasant things will fly out from said opening, but the object doesn’t seem to be at all magical, so you make no move to defend yourself. If it’s just a primitive slug-thrower, then the worst it can do is temporarily disrupt your manifested form.

And it’s all a moot point anyways because none of this is real anyhow.

“No sudden moves, stranger,” the weapon’s bearer drawls, a grim expression on her face. It’s a brown-haired girl, dressed in a white button-down shirt and black skirt; hastily dressed, it seems, as only two of the buttons on the shirt are closed, and the red cravat around her neck isn’t tied at all. A black felt brimmed hat is jammed onto her head at what you think is supposed to be a jaunty angle, but it just makes her look ridiculous. For that matter, her voice is unnaturally long and drawn out – the attempt to sound older just makes her seem all the more young and vulnerable.

Her eyes are narrowed in attempt to look menacing, but you can feel the fear behind them. Not fear for herself, though. Fear for something else. Someone else.

“I wasn’t planning on any,” you reply in kind, offering what you hope is a disarming smile in return. Unbidden, you lift your hands in the air, palms facing towards her. “Who’s your friend?”

“It’s just me,” she growls. “No one else here, just me, you, and this gun here.”

“How about we promise to tell each other the truth?” you sigh. “Your companion is currently behind the corner of the foyer with a larger ‘gun’ cradled in her arms, although the awkward, unsure way she keeps shifting her hands on it suggests that she’s not familiar with its usage.”

“You leave Mary out of this!” the girl snaps, thrusting the muzzle of her gun a few inches closer to you.

“I’ll give you another truth. I have no intention of harming you, or Mary. Now, can you please lower your, er, gun? I’m not threatening you, there’s no reason you have to keep that pointed at me.”

“Mary said that no one would find us here. Odds of someone crossing this exact point at random were too low.”

“It wasn’t exactly random. This place sticks out like a sore thumb,” you point out, referring to the place’s obvious normality in contrast to the rest of the Border’s weirdness.

“Seems normal to me,” she says with the slightest of shrugs, although the barrel of the gun never moves off you. “So you know your way around this place? Why did you come here?” Her grip tightens on the handle. “Are you here for her?”

You shake your head. “First time I saw her was when I got here.”

“You haven’t seen her yet,” she snaps.

Oops. “It’s magic, I –“

“ – don’t have to explain shit, I’ve had enough of magic lately, don’t talk to me about magic.” she cuts you off with a dark curse. Treating magic as something to be feared – what is such a mundane girl doing in a place like this?

“But magics or no, here, I’m just a lost traveler. Same as you?” you guess. At length, she gives a halting, shaky nod. This Mary seems to know something about the Border, at any rate, so you might as well give it a shot. “But seeing as we’ve bumped into each other, I would like to speak with her. With the both of you.”

Her eyes flicker to the side as the second figure leans her own gun against the wall and steps into the foyer. “I don’t think that would be a good – “

“Renko, please, that’s enough.” Unlike the girl in front of you – ‘Renko’ – Mary’s voice is steady and calm. Her hand gently comes down upon Renko’s shoulder from behind the door. That gesture is more than just an entreaty to lower the weapon; it contains reassurances, encouragements, tenderness –

When she steps out from behind the door, you barely keep yourself from flinching. She looks… just like Yukari. Well, like Yukari probably looked before she crafted herself into an unnaturally beautiful woman. Even her dress is surprisingly similar in overall shape and cut, although a hundred times less ornate. That, and the laces over her chest are tied in a rather haphazard, lopsided way.

You suddenly find yourself wondering if you had interrupted… something between the two of them.

Mary’s hands slide comfortably over Renko’s shoulders as she steps fully behind her, resting there even after Renko lowers her gun, an amusing mixed expression of affected hostility and embarrassment. That simple gesture of intimacy somehow sets you at ease, more than the diplomatic smile Mary puts across her face. If she can feel love, somehow you

“Won’t you come in? You must be tired… and I’m sure we have much to talk about.”


A few minutes later, you’re sitting within the homey sitting room, sharing a porcelain pot of tea from dainty porcelain cups. The tea is surprisingly tasty, despite the fact that you know it’s nothing more than an idea – mixed with the concepts of cream and the idea of sugar, it’s nothing like the tea you had in Hakugyokurou yet satisfying in its own way. There is no actual tea or for that matter no actual house, no actual reality and yet the scent of old floorboards and cooking spices gives the place the air of a grandmother’s cottage.

It reminds you so much of home that you’re almost unsettled. Almost.

“So – Sai – this woman’s name is… Yukari?” Mary asks, eyebrows narrowed at your silent image of the woman in question where it mingles with the steam from the cups, her expression a perfect mirror of Renko’s beside her. Their clothes are far more orderly now – they took opportunities while setting out the table to rearrange themselves.

She has a right to be skeptical – it looks so similar to her that for her not to suspect anything would be amiss. You’ve introduced yourself as a traveling mage caught in the Border who managed to trip over this safe haven.

“Yukari – ‘Lady’ Yukari. She maintains the Border, the place we’re all in right now.”

“The place certainly is a Border, alright,” she muses cryptically.

Choosing to not pursue that comment, you set your cup of tea down in its saucer, the dainty clink raising the corners of your mouth despite yourself. “If you don’t mind me asking – this place is nothing like the rest of the Border. What’s your explanation?”

“My explanation? Don’t ask me about this place, we found it randomly, same as you.” No, she didn’t – as she says that, she blinks five times rapidly at you in a most unnatural, purposeful action. You glance at Renko to see if she noticed Mary’s strange behavior, and with a little surprise, you note that Mary’s companion is… nodding off, her eyelids drooping as she tries to remain focused on your silent image. You glance back towards Mary, one eyebrow raised inquisitively; she nods in response, answering your unspoken question. Sliding her wicker chair a few inches to the side, she matches the sides of the seats and grabs for Renko’s hand underneath the table, gently pulling her companion’s dozing head onto her shoulder. In seconds, the brown-haired girl is snoring, her hair mingling with Mary’s golden locks.

“I’ll trust that that was necessary somehow,” you start when Renko begins snoring gently. “I didn’t think that you added those herbs just for her own personal tastes.”

“The cream and sugar mask the flavor,” she openly admits. “It’s better that she not be awake to hear this. Renko thinks this place exactly is the way it seems – like reality. Her mind is too ingrained the physical for it to be good for her to learn certain things – for example, that this place, this haven in the Border, is anything but real. She’d question her senses, question her sanity, and eventually descend to madness. It’s better that she only have one companion to occupy her thoughts, and not go to sleep worrying.”

You nod. “Yukari’s Border is a strange, scary place. Yet this place exists, and it supports two women such as you with food, drink, shelter – “

She tilts her head slightly, though not enough to disturb Renko. “You didn’t already know that such concepts are meaningless here?”

You offer a sheepish shrug of your own, your falsehood caught. “Okay, you got me. I haven’t needed such things for most of my entire life. For that matter, I was unable to enjoy such things at all.” You sip the tea again. “This is very good tea. Despite the fact that it’s not actually tea. Tea is a physical object. It can’t exist here.”

“And yet we drink it,” Mary picks up, carefully using her free hand to match your drink with one of hers.

“So you’re aware of how this place is paradoxical?”

“A little more than aware, I daresay,” she says lightly, setting her cup down.

You set your own cup down, attention fully focused now. “Oh?”

“I created this place.”

You sit yourself back down, legitimately impressed. “I’m not picking up the slightest of auras from you. How’s that so?”

She smiles. “The lack of actual ‘me’ here, of course. If you wanted to get down to the foundation of the matter, this entire place,” she gestures with her free hand, “is me. My projection. The expression of my will – my identity.”

“Even me? This body, sitting before you?” You touch a hand to your head. “Even my own mind? That seems… illogical.”

“It would be illogical, yes,” she agrees. “Your mind is able to project your own image within the boundaries I’ve created; this pocket contains, instead of the chaos that is the rest of the Border, a small, borrowed bit of reality.”

“But if you control the boundaries of this place…” You think long and hard, drawing your master’s teachings from so long ago. “… couldn’t you take control of the minds within it if you wanted to?”

She sighs. “Well, if you were anything like Renko… if I wanted to, I could. But I would never do that – not to you, not to anyone, and especially not to Renko,” she says somewhat fiercely, eyes blazing for the shortest of moments. Her passion makes you smile, and an embarrassed smile crosses her own face after that moment is over.

“But for what it’s worth…” she continues. “I couldn’t control your mind, even if I wanted to.”

You lean back slightly in your chair, taken aback. “Okay, I know that my mind is stronger than most. I learned to alter my thought patterns into sturdier forms when I was young, and a friend taught me further techniques to turn my will to iron, as literally as possible. But if you literally control the reality of this place, then how can I, a mere visitor and guest to your domain, even hope to match you?”

Her gaze bores straight into yours, peering into your soul – and, completely unbidden, you’re reminded of the form and structure of your mind. The rivers of molten metal. Waterfalls of quicksilver. Belts formed of floating metal shards and shapes, all orbiting a solid metal core that has almost never, ever cracked. Not underneath the trauma of your Tainted wound, the torture of the resulting cancers, infections, and mutations, not underneath the assault of His power, the Yama’s brutal recollections of your past, and not even the Saigyou Ayakashi, empowered as it was with a bolus of Tainted power from your now-Ascended home plane.

But it cracked once. Once, when a woman proclaimed she had feelings for you, and moved your limbs and opened your mouth and had you say words that you couldn’t have possibly meant, express emotions that you couldn’t possibly have felt.

How could you have possibly have grown to love for her in such a short span of time? Ridiculous.

“Sai,” Mary says quite seriously. “I may be in control of reality here, but while your presence here is one thing, your motivations are something completely different.”

“My – motivations?” you ask, confused.

“Not your motivations, specifically,” she clarifies, “but your motivations. Were it any other sitting before me, if I truly wished it, I could have them bowing before me and swearing undying loyalty. Passionate love. I could convince them that I would like nothing more for them to grab Renko’s pistol and blow their brains out, and they would be so beholden to me that they would without a moment’s hesitation.”

You grimace at the graphic imagery. “Then – what makes my motivations so different?”

She gives you a long, deep stare that seems to bore straight into you. “Your soul is… unique. It is its own reality.”

Your own gaze narrows. “You lost me.”

A slight smile crosses her face, lightening the mood somewhat. “I would have lost me from the past as well. It’s funny that I should speak of this so casually now. Before I came here, I would have never been so understanding, But now that I’ve come here, to this Border, I – understand – so much more than I used to. Now, normally, a soul is an object,” she begins. “It belongs to a person, but it can be manipulated. Separated from bodies and minds, altered, sealed away, even destroyed under specific circumstances, such as being contained in a limited reality such as this,” she indicates with a wave towards the room, or rather, her creation of a pocket reality within a living paradox.

“Your soul, however, is not an object. If I had to describe it, it would be as a cosmic force – a fundamental pillar of the universe.”

“What.” You give her the flattest look of disbelief you can muster.

“If you desire something, Sai, I am sure that you are capable of literally making reality bow to your demands in the end. Perhaps not in the casual way that I speak of changing things within this reality,” she admits, “but it will come about, one way or another. If gods wish to oppose your will – then those gods will have to learn humility in the end. No one can make you do anything that you decide you do not want – when you decide you want something, you will have it.”

“I don’t have that kind of power,” you splutter. “No one does. Certainly me. I didn’t wish to ”

“It’s not power, nor is it about immediate results.” Mary says simply. “I prefer to think of it as the ultimate, final say in matters. As being able to shape the ultimate fate of those you are bonded to.”

“… I’ll… think about that.” She has no reason to not tell you the truth – with the amount of confidence she had in her words, and her obvious understanding of your current surroundings… you’re going to take her word at face value.

… and what does this mean about what Ran did – or rather didn’t – do to you? She pulled on the shikigami bond, and that made you so sure she made you feel that way, and yet now…

You’re not sure what to think. You can’t think, no. Not now. It’s far too much, far too fast. You package this entire memory into your mind as a filigree snarl and bury it deep in the orbiting rings for later.

Much, much, later, you hope.

“But back to Renko!” you suddenly say, intentionally steering the conversation away from you and onto someone closer to her. “If you wouldn’t mess with anyone’s intentions, how do herbs make the situation any better, if those herbs are basically your own creation?”

“Those herbs don’t do anything more than ensure a restful sleep,” she explains, although she suddenly starts looking very uncomfortable, hardly someone capable of speaking of universal constants and changing fates as she was a moment ago. “She was exhausted already.”

Oh. So that’s how it is. “Exhausted in a house with nothing to do?” you can’t help but ask, although you already know the answer lays in their hastily donned clothing from a few minutes ago.

“Oh, there’s something to do in this house,” she admits with the faintest of blushes, glancing rather significantly at the girl in her arms.

Chuckling, you avert your gaze for a few seconds to spare her further embarrassment until she regains her composure. “So, you’re sure you have no relation to this Yukari?”

“Not anymore, not after you’ve shown me that, and told me she created this place. If I have the power to force reality upon her fantasy as easily as I breathe, then… there may be something connecting us.” She looks at the silent image of her again. “But she’s a right hag, isn’t she?”

“I beg your pardon?” you ask, surprised.

“Look that bosom, and those hips. The dress is meant to accentuate them, but then you look at her arms, legs, hands. Her proportions are all wrong!” With uniquely female authority, she gives a ‘humph’ of disapproval. “It’s like a seventeen year old trying to look like a grown woman. She just gives the impression of a harlot.”

“I’m glad at least one other person agrees with me. Although when you’re there in person,” you say with a shrug, “it seems a lot more plausible.”

“If she has the power to maintain this confusing place, I’m sure she can convince others that she’s pretty.”

“Just between you and me,” you whisper with affected conspiracy, “I agree with the hag assessment.”

She giggles. “I’ll drink to that!”

You share sips of the tea once again. “Guess it’s a good thing Renko’s asleep. She was staring at that picture awfully hard…” you tease, receiving the briefest expression of mock horror in return.

“So how did you learn about her and this place, anyways?” Mary asks. No longer content to have Renko merely leaning on her, she wraps her arm fully around her companion’s own shoulders.

You grimace. “You might say she exiled me here. Her servant and I have an… interesting history.”

“A forbidden affair?” Mary says with frightening accuracy.

If you hadn’t already emptied your teacup, you’d have spat it out all over. As it stands, you give her a long-suffering glance, causing her to giggle with amusement. “That, and some other magical shenanigans. Contracts forged and broken, debts both owed and repaid. It’s a long story.”

She smiles, and reaches for the teapot. “Time is meaningless in this place. Do tell.”


And so you tell the story, as best as you can, from the start of your very first memories underneath your master’s tutelage to Yukari’s imposition of exile upon you. With gentle encouragement and murmured reassurances, Mary is able to willingly extract from you what the focused power of the Yama had to force out. Perhaps it’s the loving image of her casually embracing her sleeping lover that comforts you – it reminds you that Mary is, for all her reality-constructing ability, a person at heart.

“For you, power is not merely a tool,” she says, looking for confirmation. “Every time someone takes pleasure in growing stronger, or speaks of how they wished they were stronger, you can’t help but be reminded at an unconscious level of Him.”

“It sounds ridiculous,” you admit. “It’s our nature to enjoy self-improvement. Take my trend of thought another way, and I’d be hating all intelligent life just because He was intelligent.”

“That sounds more like a self-identity crisis,” she says, half-jokingly, half-seriously.

“Okay, yeah, maybe it does,” you admit with a laugh. “But in any case… I’m reminded of Him, of how He enjoyed taking his self-improvement to the next level – but he ultimately took it to a level that no one ever should.”

“Taint certainly sounds like something awful.”

“You know what to do if you come into contact, right?” you ask, just to make sure.

“Find someone with Hope and get it cleansed?” she responds. You blink in surprise. You had expected ‘kill them immediately to spare them the pain of the slow death, disintegrate the remains in order to prevent them from rising as something monstrous, and lock the ashes away in the safest place possible to contain the spread’. That’s what your doctrine had been while you were still in a living body, futilely trying to oppose Him on your plane even as the Tainted wound broke your body down little by little – before Marcus had come to spirit you away to the demiplane for the centuries of preparation.

“… that’s right,” you groan in realization, touching a hand to your brow. “We have that now. Jizo, you scoundrel. It takes you months to break down things I’ve accepted for centuries.”

“Don’t get lost in the past, Sai,” she warns you. “Those who refuse to accept change may find themselves – “

“I was joking, but thanks for the reminder,” you interrupt, rubbing the bridge of your nose. You feel a little worn out after all that. “This has been… a most enlightening experience. I thank you for your insight and counsel, Mary,” you say rather formally, giving her a bow of your head. A full bow would be impossible in your seated position, and bowing at the waist anyways would just dunk your nose into your teacup. Come to think of it, that pot never ran dry for all those hours, nor cooled to anything beyond just the right temperature for drinking. Little luxuries, but even now you’re still getting used to how good it can feel to enjoy things like warm air, pleasant aromas, and soft cushions.

Renko’s slipped down into Mary’s lap at this point, and she stirs slightly for the first time, rolling over but still asleep. With careful hands, Mary shifts her lover back into a comfortable position before looking back at you. “You can’t stay here, you know.”

You nod in understanding. That doesn’t come as a surprise to you. “You explained already. Renko isn’t ready to know the truths of this place, and my presence as an outsider would only make her continue to question.”

She smiles sadly. “Yes. As it stands, convincing her that this was all just a passing fancy will be difficult enough as it is, but it’ll be necessary for her to remain sane if we’re to be in here for long.” A sigh escapes from between her lips. “What’s funny is that eventually, she’ll be the champion who defends them.”

That’s an odd conclusion to jump to. “… she certainly seemed protective of you,” you say, fishing for an explanation.

“She’ll be protective of more than just me, in time.”

“… I don’t understand.”

“Marriage oaths are made directly to only one person. And yet it’s understood that the same love will be shown to the mutual home, and the eventually, the children, isn’t it?” she says, a dreamy expression coming over her face.

You cough. “About future plans, yes. What would you have me do?”

She sinks into thought for a few seconds. “I’d like to know one more thing. Sai, if you were to have a child, what would you name it?

You… have a child. The only thing from making you laugh the idea off, if only because of biological barriers to entry, is her absolutely serious expression. “Well,” you start unsteadily, not expecting this question at all. “Is it a girl, or a boy?”

She shrugs. “Make it a girl. I’ll be able to tell you if it’s a good name or not, if a girl will be bearing it. Not sure if I’d be able to do the same for a boy. It’s a womanly thing,” she jokes, stroking Renko’s hair absentmindedly.

“So what if I have a child who’s a boy, then?”

She shrugs. “In that case, I’m sure that you will know a suitable name when you think of it. But I won’t trust you to name a girl without mucking it up hopelessly! This is for her sake.”

“Shouldn’t I ask the mother for her input? She should have some say in this.”

“Consider this a solo exercise. With luck, you’ll impress your lucky lady with your deep understanding. Might convince her to tolerate you long enough for you to have a second.”

“Fine, then,” you sigh, wanting to get this odd request over and done with. “Mary,” you declare flatly.

“You flatter me,” she giggles, “but be honest this time. I’m sure the answer is already within you, just pull it out of that mind of yours.”

As if it were that simple. With a sigh, you rest your knees on your elbows and rub your temples with your fingers, thinking…



[ ] Write-in. Pull from whatever languages you need or want to, and if you’re proposing a new name, try to give an explanation, even if it’s just “it sounds cool/pretty”. Barring Awesome McCoolName, because some names are obviously stupid. Anons don’t let anon vote for stupid.


Renko doesn't get much of a show here, but I'll be honest and say that trying to write her straight-man responses to fantastical, non-concrete magical concepts quickly got tiresome and did nothing but interfere with the flow of the dialogue and make Renko look like an idiot. Also, the idea that an infinitely long period of solitude might cause one to go mad is a pretty terrifying concept, to be honest. To have to have your sensory inputs conditioned so that you don't go mad with doubt or questions...

... and then you have to think of the burden on the person trying to maintain the other's sanity. jesuschristhowhorrifying.jpg
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Because, as I just now realize, Hope isn't just a counter-taint it is what the protagonist needs. He has to realize that the apocalipsis ended and he can expect for a better future-for his people in general and him in particular.

I mean, he has an intimate moment of blissful happiness and the minute after he goes away he already imagines mind tricks, CONSPIRACIES and whatnot. I guess just being compatible with other person is just too far fetched?
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>She gives you a long, deep stare that seems to bore straight into you. “Your soul is… unique. It is its own reality.”
>Your own gaze narrows. “You lost me.”

So that's what happens when someone one too many ellipsis?

Dunno why. I've just always liked it.
[X] Adriana

No reason, other than it's nice-sounding.

I'm confused. Are Renko and Mary actually here, or is it some sort of dream? Are they only visiting, or is this something very long-term?

Originally Mary and Renko's side of the story was on this side of the update, but then I ended up putting this vote before it. It's currently chilling out awkwardly in the word document, ready to be deployed as a booster to next update.

Ah. Then I shall exercise patience and wait eagerly.
I like this, because I see what you did there, so a second vote for:
[X] Esperanza
[x]Genocidacles McMassacre
[x] Dulcinea
A lot of mediums like to go into the psychological aspect of things.

I don't, because they tend to fly right over my head.

In summary: We went to some place in the border where this girl was, and somehow she was able to shape it as she wanted, and has her friend/lover there but is keeping her in the dark because SANITY, and now she tells us our soul is some kind of win-button that will let us redirect the fate of those attached to us?

So basically we can steal Ran from Yukari.

Name = Boudica. Been playing Civ recently.
[x] Hope

It's a perfectly good name. (Although "Esperanza" or "Nadia" would work too.)
[x] seconding Boudica.
A very strong female historical figure, and one in charge of a horde of angry barbarians at that. She'd fit right in with the travelers.
[x] Boudica
Quality name.
Lucine, (Lux), Lucille?
You're asking neckbeards what to name a child?

Yes, I am asking, because then I get gems like...


Y'know, I appreciate the reference, and I'm sure she's a strong woman who don't need no man, but... just between you and me, I can't say that name aloud and take it seriously. Boudice. Bow-dick-a. Bow. Boouuuuuuuuuuuuu. That long "ou" sound just sounds so... round. For a girl's name, that just doesn't sit well with me.

But that's just me. Maybe you guys really, really like that name, and it's an awesome name, and I'm just weird.
I believe its pronounce BOO-di-ca.
Booty-ca? Giving our daughter a fine expectation to live up to.
This is D&D, nobody has normal or sane names.
Well I suppose we could always name her Chastity.

Like a cheap stripper.
Well an alternate spelling is Boadicea. Which might be the source of the word Bodacious. A powerful woman who's name is synonymous with beauty? Sounds good to me.
Or like a nun ninja that hunts vampires.
Don't ask me, I will name my sons Nero and Amber ('Ambar' actually, but it is the same)
Actually, "bodacious" was originally a portmanteau of "bold" and "audacious". The "beautiful" meaning came later.
[x] Name her after our mother.
"What do you mean her name wasnt Mom?!"
[X] Recette

It's a tad on the nose to name a hypothetical symbol of our moving on from our 800+ years of plotting, suffering, and so forth, but Recette implies actively starting anew, which seems to fit Sai's personality more then just simply Hope-ing for his situation to get better.

It's also a legitimately pretty name, I think, and 'Faire Recette' means to be successful in French. And considering Mary just told Sai that he was a cosmic force capable of (eventually) forcing reality to bend to his whims, I'd imagine he'd at least want his daughter to be successful in whatever avenue of life she chose to walk.
[x] Recette

I like the reasoning above.

My reasoning for this is somewhat silly, so I'll keep it relatively quiet lest it cause any skewing of opinion.
I'm sorry, but all I can think of when I hear that name is:

(Which would make Sai the deadbeat dad, I guess...)
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Retracting this vote and throwing in for [x] Recette.

She would run everyone else out of business inside of six months.
[X] Recette

Bandwagoning is not always a bad thing

What's the reasoning? I don't think a bout of silliness is going to change votes one way or the other, considering how the other voters are already referencing the other known...owner? of that name.
Is it just me, or is that chen?


It's not good to keep your feelings bottled up inside. Tell us your reason, we promise not to laugh....very much

Nice and simple, rolls of the tongue nicely.
No that is not Chen. That is Recette, from a game called Recettear, which can be best described as a shop simulator set in a RPG fantasy.

But the cat she's holding is dressed in a rather familiar fashion...

If this option wins I have the greatest idea.

Votes will be called Thursday evening.
[X] Recette
[x] Recette
>If this option wins I have the greatest idea.
Sir, you have just ensured that no other option has a chance of winning.
... I'm sorry but you brought this counting trouble on yourself with that comment.
I'm also gonna have to retract my old vote (here >>163294) and vote for

Six months? She starts at less than nothing and makes hundreds of thousands in less than half that time, while saving the world as an unintended side effect of CAPITALISM, HO!
Goddamit Ballista, now I have to see this choice.
Retracting >>163305 for [x]Recette
The cat.
Recette is a pretty name. And with good symbolism.

Also I think balista got meta on us, it felt like Mary was telling Sai he was the MC in a CYOA. :V
[x] Recette

Might as well.
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>Also I think balista got meta on us, it felt like Mary was telling Sai he was the MC in a CYOA.

Don't protagonists always have that something special about them?

>massive Recette opinion totally not assisted along its way by my comment


Votes called. Pic related. writing now. Please wait warmly~
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Of course you all realize by doing this we make sai a deadbeat father who drops all that debt on her? Yes? Okay, just checking.

You say that, but I doubt we're going to see our family name magically change to "Lemongrass".
And then it turns out that Kawarou means Lemongrass in Draconic.
You do realize he had a name before he became "Sai Kawarou", right? He just couldn't remember it.
How do we know his name isn't already Lemongrass?
You mean Lemongraß?
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Temporary hiatus due to finals week and... medical concerns.

So, something's been creeping up on me all year, but I've been ignoring it because "nah, seriously, no way". Then this month it basically exploded into me being bedridden most of the time. (And it's finals' time too. Mother fuck.)

Suffice to say that while I'm not yet on any prescription drugs and I haven't been operated on... I'm wearing a heart monitor that I'm supposed to turn on every time I start feeling nauseous/woozy/in pain/bored (okay, that one was the doctor's joke). Which is at least half the time. Yeah, I'm pushing that button a lot.

My entire mother's side of the family has heart problems, so I can definitely see where this is coming from. However, in their rural Chinese lifestyles, they only had problems after the age of 30 (although they all died relatively young, 60ish or so, because what is modern healthcare). I'm only 19 (20 next month), but apparently my hours of walking around campus each day aren't enough to outweigh my growing up on a relatively unhealthy American diet (my mother, who immigrated when she was around 20, started seeing symptoms around 35), so now I walk around campus with a hand on my chest, wondering when it's going to stop.

Writing is my refuge, so you might see me here a lot more often in the future - but for now, I gotta get things worked out. See you in a few weeks.

iron heart surge jokes, because this is about a heart "condition affecting me" ahahaha I kill me

Sweet Mother of God...

Yeah, definitely take as much time as you need, man. We'll miss your writing, but health comes first. Especially heart issues.
Here's hoping you get better, and failing that, get transferred to a school for disabled people full of attractive women.

Maybe you could get that fancy heart pump that doesn't give a pulse like Dick Cheney has?

This. We can wait for a while if it means you don't die.
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If it turns out you are that guy.
You know what you must do.
Good luck Balista and here's to your heart.

Hanako for best girl
May I suggest running?
Tis a life lesson we all must learn. To not stall going to a doctor for something that may or may not be an issue. I can only wish you the best of luck.

You meant Rin, right?
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Thanks everyone. I might have an update finished by this weekend.


I'm actually planning on picking running up, once I start feeling a little better and exams stop crushing my soul.

>waifu discussions

Lilly is mai waifu
I knew an ill girl like Lilly in personality once
We saw each other regularly but platonicly over the course of several years
When I finally confessed to her she revealed she had for years been keeping her affections secret
for another guy she knew since her very little childhood
I swallowed my hurt and my pride and through a series of hilarious events got them to confess to each other
They're engaged now
My heart problems started not long after I parted ways with them
>Feel story

You did the right thing; that you saw it to your crush becoming engaged to the man she really loved just shows how much you really cared for her happiness. I can't begin to imagine how hard was that for you, and for that you deserve my respect.

Having said that, I hope you recover well from your condition, and I wish you good luck with your exams. Though I think I need some of that luck for myself too...
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You did the right thing...
Why does the right thing hurt so much at times?
Feels thread for Balista's recovery?
The border and traveling through it sort of reminds me of the end of FF5, and good 'ol gilgamesh.

I wonder why purple seems to be so associated with the unknown void.
I will be honest and say that you shouldn't have done that. Sure, she might be happy, but in exchange you've made yourself somewhat misereable, specially if your heart problems are connected to that.

>inb4 thousands of anons flame me and/or tell me to fuck off.
So the actions you regret are crushing your heart. The exams you take are crushing your soul. Good thing you only need a mind and fingers for typing. Hang in there ballista, and stop taking breaks to play VNs. You should be studying.
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Or playing VN's and acing everything as if the God only knows.
can't even do one route of KS without breaking down and not touching the game for months. I've only done 3 routes since I started in February...

Joke's on you, I finished Katawa Shoujo when it first came out.
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[X] Recette


“Well… we don’t speak the same tongue, do we?” you suddenly realize. “We aren’t communicating in language, right now, are we? Whatever I think here will not be how it is said aloud in a physical, real, world.”

Mary’s eyes gleam. “You are an astute fellow, you know that? So, the more important part of the name is meaning – in whatever language you are comfortable with.”

You think upon that for a second. “… if that is the case, then I’d like a name meaning something… forward.”

“Forward? That’s rather vague.”

“In my entire life… what have I done, really? I’ve spent it scheming and plotting and fighting. For me to have a child would be a move towards peace, a move towards a calmer life for me. To make a home. To make a family.” You swallow. Your childhood underneath your master rises to your surface thoughts for a second, and you shove it back down into the depths of your mind.

“Some cultures would believe that to be backward, not forward,” Mary teases you.

You only scoff. “If that were the case, I would have left those people on the plane to die, and not have brought them to Gensokyo. I’m a vengeful man, but not an unnecessarily callous one.”

“A forward-meaning name, then. Perhaps something to do with… success?”

You smile. “Yes, a success. I think starting a family would be the greatest victory I could ever win.”

Mary continues to play the role of devil’s advocate. “You wouldn’t think that would be, say, eliminating all evil from the world?”

“Disregarding the complete impossibility of that task, I wouldn’t dare raise a child in anything but a peaceful land. Even if I were half as good a parent as my master was…” You sigh.

“You’d only need to be half as good.”

“Hmm? Why’s that?”

“Her mother could fill in for the other half.” Mary beams, and you can’t help but chuckle at her logic.

And then Mary’s expression turns so dark your laugh turns into a spluttered cough. “Is something wrong?” you ask.

“It’s not you,” she says dismissively with a wave of her hand. “It’s the Border. Something’s wrong.”

“Like what?”

“… something’s coming towards it. As a whole – from the outside, you wouldn’t be able to feel it.”

Jizo? The Saigyou Ayakashi? Your mind works furiously.

“… it wants to go through, and it’s not being very polite about it.” She starts narrating. “The Border is defending itself automatically. This outside force has no chance to pass through entirely – it is too weak in comparison, despite throwing its metaphorical weight against it with all its might.”

Perhaps not Jizo, then, but the possibility that it’s the Saigyou Ayakashi still lingers. And then – what happened to Jizo, then, if the Saigyou Ayakashi escaped him? Perhaps nothing happened, and the latter was simply able to evade the former. Or perhaps something happened to Jizo.

Or perhaps this isn’t the Saigyou Ayakashi at all, and it’s just some other visitor. Gensokyo doesn’t exist in a vacuum – surely it must have other visitors, including those of the unwelcome sort. “Has this happened before?” you ask.

Mary only answers with a shake of her head. “No – it hasn’t. Not as long as I’ve been here, at any rate.”

That places their incarceration at sometime after you defeated Him, then – she certainly would have noticed how you had begun ‘attacking’ the Border earlier to attract Ran’s attention.

“But… wait…” she continues. “Changing strategies. It’s not trying to break through anymore – rather, it’s trying to stab through. Focusing its energies into a single point. No. Still not strong enough. Teeth. Gnawing, chiseling, drilling. That… that might work. Drilling, yes. It won’t be long now. It’ll make a tiny hole, then work its way inside the gap, widening it until it can move through in force.”

Your blood runs cold. “But what is ‘it’?”

“A god.”


“… not a very strong one, though. Weak from lack of faith. Not a good god, an evil one – but its followers have forsaken it for larger names. But it’s been given a second chance by a patron – no, not a patron. It was a gift. Oh – oh, I think I’m going to be sick.” She slides Renko’s head off her lap onto the seat of the chair, then rushes for the sink in the kitchen.

Seconds before plants her hands to either side of the basin and vomits, you can feel it. Taint.

What comes out of her mouth isn’t anything like the tea she’s been sipping. You don’t even know how to begin to name it – vomit doesn’t do the viscous, black, pulsing substance justice. Without a moment’s hesitation, you point a finger towards it and fire two disintegrates – one at the mass, the other at the entire counter. The wood turns to so much sawdust without resistance, but, already contaminated by the Taint it contains, the metal of the sink resists like the Taint itself, falling through the collapsing counter intact. For a few seconds the Hope in your spell and the Taint spark and combat, and then your spell wins out, turning the black mass to white ash and mixing metal filings into the sawdust.
As for Mary herself…

You point your finger towards her as she collapses to her knees, as you’ve deprived her of physical support. She looks up at you with watery eyes – her pupils are already ballooning inhumanly. Yet she still finds a voice. “This isn’t real,” she rasps out. “Destroying this body here isn’t enough. You must destroy me completely, don’t let me hurt Renko, please, please, protect her, save her – “

“Like hell,” you spit. The floor and walls are bending in strange and unusual ways that you’re pretty sure deft normal geometry, but you have eyes only for the girl in front of you. You flounder for a bit, unable to think of how to start. Even with her pleading to end her completely, you don’t even know where to start.

… maybe…

You brace yourself, both figuratively and literally. “You’re in control of the reality here, right?” you confirm. “Consume me, then.”

“W-why? Even if I wanted to, that just doesn’t make any sense – “

“Just do it! For Renko, you can do anything, right?” you say with honeyed tones, trying to appeal both to her sane mind and her Taint-addled one. “In my soul is something powerful. You said yourself that I have the power to make anything happen, right? Then consume it. I’m here and vulnerable, in your own world – you can do anything here! C’mon, do it!”

“I – you’re to blame for all this, aren’t you?” Her face, with the skin already seeming to melt off her cheekbones, somehow manages to make a grin. “Yes. Yes, if I end you, if I take your power, then I’ll be able to save her, make the universe completely incapable of threatening her again – !”

Your mind suddenly twists strangely, and the last thing you think is that this isn’t the best plan you’ve ever thought of –


You wake up on the couch, staring up into a wallpapered ceiling. Both Mary and Renko have poked their heads into your field of view, anxiously peering over you.

“Ow.” You sit up, and they instantly put their hands to your back and shoulders as if afraid you’ll fall back down. You wave them off, but they remain hovering by your side. “ …I’ll take it that that worked, then?”

“Yes,” Mary sighs with relief. You let your senses range over them both – no, no Taint there, and, as you extend those senses to your surroundings, not in any other parts of the room, or in other words, Mary. “Very clever. When I brought my own mind to bear and attempted to take control of it, the Hope in it lashed back out and brought me back to my senses.”

“I’m sorry for the strange roundabout way I did it, but I had no idea how to directly affect you otherwise. Simply lashing out would have destroyed you, yes, but I didn’t want to risk that.”

“… I told you to protect Renko, not save me,” she grumbles playfully.

You shrug. “Sorry. The only way I could think of doing the former was the latter. Unless you’d prefer to be dead?”

“I like my Mary alive and breathing, thank you very much,” Renko snaps, not finding the situation funny at all. “Now, what the fuck just happened? I wake up feeling like I’ve got the mother of all hangovers, and both of you are on the floor like you just had the party of a lifetime.”

“Magic stuff, you wouldn’t understand it,” you sigh, wincing at just how dismissive you sound.

Fortunately, it seems she’s used to it. “Magic! Mary, you have got to find yourself more normal hobbies and friends.”

Mary pokes her lover in the side. “He found us, remember?”

Renko’s face falls. “Oh. Right. Still,” she pouts.

“No time to play around now, Renko,” Mary sighs. “The Border. What are we going to do about that thing?”

“I don’t care if it’s the very legions of hell coming, you’re not going to do anything if it puts you in danger, Mary,” Renko growls. “This excursion has proven to be – interesting, even if we didn’t find what we wanted – “

“Renko, you know I would never do anything to – “ she tries to placate her.

“We should go home. This isn’t any business of ours.”

“But it is. Renko… this is all very magical stuff, I know, and it’s very confusing. But didn’t we make our club to explore such things? To find out more?”

“But this is too much!” she cries. “Not if it means losing you.”

Mary looks to you in consternation, unable to argue back against her lover with that logic. “Renko, do you know where you are?”

“A pocket of Mary’s imagination,” she says smoothly, making you both jump in surprise. “What, you think I didn’t know?”

“… did you hear us talking about it?” Mary says quietly.

“No, but I didn’t need to. I knew you were trying to keep it a secret from me,” she chuckles mirthlessly, shaking her head. “But your explanation that this was just a resting place never flew with me. It was too perfect, too you. Everything about this house is too much to your taste – to my tastes, even. Ever since we ran into that Yukari woman that this guy here has seen – “ She jabs a finger towards you as she says this. “ – we’ve been stuck here, and while it’s been a very nice stay, we should leave.”

“Renko,” you say, catching her attention. “Where we are is an alternate reality designed to shield a world from outside eyes. That Yukari woman also uses the nature of the place as a place to store people that might cause problems, like Mary for her strange similarity to herself, and like me for – a variety of reasons,” you summarize vaguely. “That world is a world full of people – full of people who work, live, love, die, just like you and me.” Actually, not like you at all, but you’re trying to appeal to her as a person. “But they’re going to be doing a lot of the last if we don’t do anything.”

“… what can we do?” she says, her anger more out of frustration than actual malice. You’re winning her over, but her question is a legitimate one – you have no idea what to do yourself. You look towards Mary with the same question written on your face.

“… I can stop it,” she says, staring at the floor.

Renko clenches her jaw. “Mary, from what you said, it’s something horrible and corrupting, it made you sick simply by looking at it, and from the state of the kitchen right now, the same’ll happen to you if you try and – “

“I will be safe,” she interrupts her, her voice cool and emotionless. “Our friend here has provided me with something that will ward the evil off.”

“I just purged you of the Taint,” you warn her, “I didn’t do anything permanent.”

“I took the liberty of taking a little bit of your soul with me after you It seemed to be the proper thing to do, just in case you weren’t completely thorough with the cleansing. You were somewhat out of it at the time, if you recall.”

At first you wonder if you should be offended or not, but eventually you settle for grinding your face into your palm. You don’t even feel any different. “I don’t recall.”

“That was the joke, yes,” she giggles, finding a little humor in a dark situation. “In any case, that should keep me safe.”

“What do you plan on doing, Mary?” Renko growls.

“Do you remember the story of the little Dutch boy?”

That means nothing to you, but it apparently does to Renko. “Oh. Oh no. No, you are not going to sit there and try and hold them back, Mary – “

“I took another look at what they were doing. The Border not only protects itself, it seems to be able to repair itself as well, to a point – and the size of the hole the attacker is trying to make is as big as it can maintain. Very small, relatively. I can put myself there and bend the Border shut wherever it tries to go – it’ll be easy.”

“It’ll just make more holes, then. You can’t cover it all!”

“And then the first hole will seal up by itself if it turns its attentions elsewhere. Self-repairing, remember?”

“You’re the one maintaining this place, Mary,” you point out. “What happens to us when you leave? Renko can’t see the Border like I can, and even then, we still need to get out of here sometime.”

She’s quiet for a little longer. “Right now, the Border will be greatly weakened in that one spot. I believe that at the same time I begin fighting the attacker… I can exploit the existing weakness and sneak the two of you through without compromising it.”

Straight into Gensokyo. The exact ‘where’ is a mystery, but you’re sure that you can manage any strange phenomena associated with cross-planar travel. But her wording makes the whole process sound… iffy. “And you couldn’t do this for yourself because?”

She shakes her head helplessly. “Believe me, I tried. The difference of ability and power was too great. But with this incoming assault… I can do it. I know I can.”

“You know you can.” You’re skeptical, but she meets your gaze without wavering.


For a little while, you consider her statement. Mary seems to be sure of herself, but still, this entire plan reeks of hasty thought. “If you’re going to somehow turn yourself into a personal seal – which I do not recommend at all, personally – the exposure to the Taint will be extreme,” you sigh. “If you were just looking at it and got so badly affected…” You trail off. “Oh, wait, you said you took another look already?” You sigh, and rub your brow in irritation. “You didn’t think about the possible risk?”

She smiles. “This Hope is quite the confidence booster. Working my abilities doesn’t expend it, but actually develops it, strengthens it. Marvelous.”

“It was designed that way,” you say with a nod, “but knowing that it and Taint eliminate each other… you could have still been overwhelmed, you know, if the exposure was too great.”

She looks slightly perturbed at that. “Oh. Well. Good thing, then.”

“Mary,” Renko growls.

“I’m closing the gap and that’s final. I’m sorry, Renko, but I’m not going to sit idly by and let some horrible disaster be unleashed upon thousands of people.”

Renko’s expression is tired, as if she’s used to being the one who doesn’t get the final say in matter, but her eyes are blazing, saying that this time, she won’t let that stand. Her mouth opens, then shuts. Open, shut, open, shut. “… then I’ll come with you,” she finally gets out.

“What?” both you and Mary say, shocked at the thought.

“What do you hope to accomplish by going with her?” you demand. “You’ll be nothing more than a liability.”

“You aren’t protected like I am!” Mary agrees. “I don’t want to have to turn you into something like the sink.”

“If this Taint stuff is half as contagious as you’re making this sound, then you’re going to have to find a way to toughen me up like you,” Renko declares to Mary. “And as for you! My place is with Mary. Nothing’s going to change that – not even the end of some world as we know it. Or don’t know it,” she adds.

“Just because one person jumps off a cliff doesn’t make it a good idea for another,” you warn.

“But Mary is not going on a suicide mission. She expects to make it through this alive – we expect to. Isn’t that right, Mary?” she says, elbowing the blonde girl rather hard.

Rubbing her ribs, Mary sighs. “That’s – right, I suppose. She knows me too well. I do plan on living through this, even if the situation does seem grim.”

“That doesn’t change the fact that she still won’t be of any use…?” Renko’s looking rather murderously at you right now, and while you thought you’d never be intimidated by a girl who has to use a ‘gun’ to pose a threat… your spine is tingling in a way that says ‘do what the lady says’. It reminds you of the presence of a dragon in a way, actually, if dragons came in button-down shirts and brimmed hats.

You aren’t intimidated, for what it’s worth, but you feel like you should be, and that’s setting off alarms in your head.

“Perhaps Renko has a point,” Mary concedes. “We once had an expedition where we encountered a chimera.”

‘Chimera’ could mean a great deal of things, so you try and clarify. “At least as large as a cow? Teeth? Fangs? Wings?”

“A true monster, worthy of the title,” Mary confirms. “We were attacked, and Renko didn’t even have her gun with her.”

Renko laughs shakily. “I didn’t have one yet. That was the incident that convinced me to get one, paperwork be damned.” She pats the holster at her side. “As for the chimera itself… well, I don’t remember most of it.” Her expression turns sheepish. “And by most of it, I mean it all just cuts out after I ran between it and Mary.”

The girl in question pats Renko’s head, earning a playful scowl. “When we both came to, we were back where we started, and the only evidence we had of the entire experience was a cut on Renko’s arm.”

“And it didn’t even leave a scar after it healed,” Renko chuckles. “Come on, Mary, let me come with you.” She lays her hands on the front of Mary’s dress and tightens her fingers, grabbing up fistfuls of the cloth, staring at her with imploring eyes. “If I left you behind and something happened to you, I’d never be able to live myself.”

“And if I let you come with me and couldn’t protect you, I would be the same way,” Mary hisses, equally resolute.

“But you know that you’d be more comfortable with me at your side anyways,” Renko declares. “If we split up, neither of us will ever be able to stop worrying about the other, and you – we,” she corrects herself, “have a job to do, apparently.” It seems she’s taking this whole business rather in stride. You wonder just kind of ‘expeditions’ these two have done before for her to be so cavalier in the face of death.

Neither of them will budge on their opinion. You need to step in and make a decision…



[ ] Let Renko stay with Mary. Renko believes that she can help protect Mary from… whatever she might face, and splitting the apparently inseparable duo will most likely cause more problems than it’ll solve. You’ll still need to find some way to infuse her with Hope as well, but that’s a relatively small problem compared to the one Mary is facing down.

[ ] Follow Mary’s wishes and take Renko to Gensokyo with you. Renko is too much of an unknown, and you have no solid evidence that she’ll be anything but a liability. You’ll not let her walk to a pointless death.

I'm working on a holiday-themed vignette of the Gensokyo of 'now' tonight. I'll try to have it up by tomorrow.

Currently it's looking like it'll include a nekomata, a phantom swordswoman, a child, a gaphag, and a fairy.
[x] Let Renko stay with Mary. Renko believes that she can help protect Mary from… whatever she might face, and splitting the apparently inseparable duo will most likely cause more problems than it’ll solve. You’ll still need to find some way to infuse her with Hope as well, but that’s a relatively small problem compared to the one Mary is facing down.

She will try harder to win if she's there... I guess.

In another note I bought recettear for 10 bucks in steam and is... addictive. Too addictive. Hell, I'm playing endless in new years' eve... merde.
[x] Let Renko stay with Mary. Renko believes that she can help protect Mary from… whatever she might face, and splitting the apparently inseparable duo will most likely cause more problems than it’ll solve. You’ll still need to find some way to infuse her with Hope as well, but that’s a relatively small problem compared to the one Mary is facing down.

Sacred Band of Thebes effect.

Also, Recettetear is on Steam? Did not know that. I should try it out.

I hope your heart is behaving it's self, balista
[x] Let Renko stay with Mary. Renko believes that she can help protect Mary from… whatever she might face, and splitting the apparently inseparable duo will most likely cause more problems than it’ll solve. You’ll still need to find some way to infuse her with Hope as well, but that’s a relatively small problem compared to the one Mary is facing down.

Yeah, let the duo stay together.

How's your health, balistafreak?
I wear an event monitor now. It's got two electrodes, one that goes on about the right side of my collarbone, while the other goes on my chest right below my heart.

Whenever I have attacks (not of the full heart attack kind, just to clarify), I push the button to record an EKG. It also can decide to take a record of its own accord when it thinks it's seeing something interesting.

You submit the data it records over the phone, of all things. You just call the number, go through a few automated menus, talk to an attendant to give them a small narrative of how you felt during the recorded data, and then push the "submit" button. It translates the information into audio form, and sounds kind of like an oldschool dialup modem while doing so. It's kind of cool. You can hear the waveform, sort of - the high pitched shriek/warble/screech has a distinct pulsing rhythm to it.

Since I've been able to remain mostly in bed instead of trying to haul about to classes, I've been having my episodes less often and have been more functional (see: update), but I still get them even when I'm just sitting around doing nothing, so... yeah.

Personally, I'm damn curious as to what this is. This isn't matching the profile of any simple heart problem. We'll just have to see what the doctors think of all the data.
Wow! It really is Christmas!

[X] Let Renko stay with Mary. Renko believes that she can help protect Mary from… whatever she might face, and splitting the apparently inseparable duo will most likely cause more problems than it’ll solve. You’ll still need to find some way to infuse her with Hope as well, but that’s a relatively small problem compared to the one Mary is facing down.
[X] Let Renko stay with Mary. Renko believes that she can help protect Mary from… whatever she might face, and splitting the apparently inseparable duo will most likely cause more problems than it’ll solve. You’ll still need to find some way to infuse her with Hope as well, but that’s a relatively small problem compared to the one Mary is facing down.

You're the chosen one, balista. You will have to be transfered to a school/college dedicated to teach disabled students. There, you will meet various girls, but all of them, you will get close to a deaf girl, a legless girl, an armless girl, a blind girl, and a girl with burn scars over half of her body.

Together, you will discover the hidden powers of love, and will use them to fight crime.
[ ] Follow Mary’s wishes and take Renko to Gensokyo with you. Renko is too much of an unknown, and you have no solid evidence that she’ll be anything but a liability. You’ll not let her walk to a pointless death.

Listen to Mary.
[X] Let Renko stay with Mary. Renko believes that she can help protect Mary from… whatever she might face, and splitting the apparently inseparable duo will most likely cause more problems than it’ll solve. You’ll still need to find some way to infuse her with Hope as well, but that’s a relatively small problem compared to the one Mary is facing down.

Although I hate to see another person dragged into this, I don't think separating the two would be a good idea.
Treat dating like its a VN balista. Get the flags, get the girl(s). Make your life the greatest story ever
Hasn't failed me yet.
Christmas-esque short is swiftly growing beyond my means to control it. It will soon become sentient and take over the world's nuclear missile launch control systems.

The end of the world didn't fail to happen a few days ago. It was just late in ultimate execution.

Votes will be called on Sai's update in 24 hours.
File 135659049069.jpg - (79.65KB, 850x594 , Snowy Umbrella Chen.jpg) [iqdb]
I really should bother to proof my work more.


Snow falls over Gensokyo on Christmas day.

It’s a gentle snow, the kind that blankets everything in a stifling layer of white. It settles on the tops of the trees of the Forest of Magic, layers itself on the roofs of the village, adds to the cap of Youkai Mountain without discrimination.

Not that it remains pristine for long. Gensokyo is a land full of life, after all. Wild youkai cut trails through their normal hunting grounds soon enough, or cause miniature snowfalls of their own upon brushing branches and bushes. Children shovel their homes’ walkways for pocket change, or perhaps just because “I said so”. Even the tengu, who are almost all capable of independent flight one way or the other, can’t help but clear it from in front of their doors. And when the snow stops falling and the winds starts anew, drifts begin to form in even the empty fields and prairies.

But at the base of Youkai Mountain, there is a place where snow does not fall, where the wind does not blow. It eludes one’s gaze, appearing to be nothing more than another patch of forest, and should one somehow manage to walk into it by pure chance, one would find oneself so subtly repositioned several meters to one side that one would most likely fail to notice.

Excepting those, of course, who know how to bypass such precautions.

“Yes, Nami, I’m sure that I’m not going to suddenly break out in hives, or have a death-curse put over me. No, there aren’t any hexes, any plagues o’er both my houses either,” the girl sighs, waving off the frantic buzzing of the fairy around her head. If she were human, she couldn’t be any older than twelve or thirteen, but in this land appearances count for little in relation to age. She’s bundled up in a fur-trimmed parka and boots, but despite neglecting a scarf, hat, gloves, she doesn’t shiver in the slightest in the bitter cold wind.

The girl’s brow furrows slightly in concentration as she sneaks her way through another ward. With a wave of her long, thin fingers, there’s a quick purple shimmer in the air as abjurations part before her – this one intended to induce nausea in feral youkai that might not be deterred by misdirection. “No, I’m not breaking anything. Not permanently. I’m better than that. The place’ll fix itself up when I leave. Easy.”

More frantic buzzing; the girl gives a far more exasperated noise now. “Nami. Please, you’re distracting me. I don’t want to have to make that an order – “

Dead silence, further exaggerated by the sound-absorbing banks of snow all around. “Thank you,” she sighs as the fairy settles onto her shoulder, now sulking.

Two more quick spells, and she’s through. A single step removes her from the knee-deep snow onto a hewn flagstone, space and dimensions bending as she crosses into a demiplane, causing her to gasp in surprise.

It’s a monument. The ground is covered in stone for about twenty meters around, bordered by the archways of painted red torii and outward facing stone lions. For a few seconds the girl stares intently at the latter, trying to gauge if the lions will spring to life to chase her off, but the statues are just that – lifeless works of art carved from stone.

All of this is to highlight…

“Marvelous,” she exhales.

She walks underneath the torii before the centerpiece of this entire place – a life-sized depiction of an elderly but muscular man and young girl, perhaps her own age. The man is carrying the girl on his shoulder, an expression of mirth on his face as he steadies her with his other arm, while the girl for her part is carrying an umbrella for the both of them, holding it above both their heads, her eyes closed and her head thrown back in laughter. The statue is carved of a rich fruitwood, although its dimensions imply that some sort of shaping magic was used to craft it.

Kneeling down, she reaches out to touch the pedestal, where a few words are carved:

In memory of Youki Konpaku and Kogasa Tatara

She looks up at the statue again, looking for some clue as to their histories. There’s a long, rectangular hatch in front of them, integrated into the pedestal, apparently leading to a compartment within it. Rising back to her feet, she reaches for the handle of the sliding door, then hesitates. “Nami, what do you think?” she asks, unsure of whether or not she’s crossing some sacred line.

A quick buzz; quizzical, tentative, unsure. “Well, I don’t feel anything coming from it, precisely,” the girl muses. “Too much background noise from this entire place in general – this place is maintained through basically pure magic, after all. Alright, fine. We’ll take a peek.” Another squeak of alarm. “Of course not! I’m not a thief. Especially not from the dead.”

The hatch slides smoothly open, evidence of masterwork craftsmanship. The sight of the objects within cause her eyes to widen. A massive blade, longer than she is tall, rests at the bottom of the compartment, and laying over that, the remains of some wooden and cloth object.

A shiver runs down her spine, and she slides the door shut faster than she opened it.

Just then, the hairs on the back of her neck stick up. She’s not alone anymore.

“Hide!” she hisses to the fairy on her shoulder, who promptly flits upward into the statue’s umbrella, pressing herself up into the hollow of the canopy. The girl looks about frantically, looking for a spot to conceal herself. A quick diving roll, a murmured word, and she’s invisible, pressed against a pillar of one of the tori, trying to make herself as small as possible.

“… you think they’ll start something?” comes one voice. A woman’s.

“Who, the tengu, or the Travellers?” Another woman’s voice, this one lower and slightly more mature.

“I was actually thinking the villagers, myself, they’ve been getting quite fed up with the feuding spilling over into anything and everything.” The girl watches as the first and current speaker comes into view, suddenly phasing through the edge of the demiplane – a younger woman in a red dress and black stockings. A cat’s ears poke out from underneath her green cloth cap, while two tails waggle out from underneath her skirt with minds of their own. She folds a snow-covered umbrella up, propping it against one of the tori pillars as she passes underneath it.

Aunt Chen? What is she doing here? How does she know about this place?

“They’re too divided to risk making a scene,” says the other woman as she too comes into view. Her shock-white hair is too lush to be bleached with age; another non-human. There’s an otherworldliness about her entire being, from the green vest and skirt to the pale glow that seems to emanate from her. The only things that seem remotely real about her are the two swords at her back and waist.

Miss Youmu? The phantom woman is good friends with Aunt Chen; she always comes with Aunt Chen when the nekomata comes to the mansion’s guardhouse to visit. Despite not needing to eat herself, she’s an astoundingly good cook, but this is the first time she’s seen her with weapons. And she wears them so naturally!

“Even if someone does do something stupid during the festivities, the elders will refuse to back them up, and – is someone else here?” Youmu suddenly barks, hands flying to those blades faster than the girl’s eyes can track.

She swallows, and weaves a few more nondetection spells around both herself and the fairy, wishing she’d paid more attention to her master’s lessons on this subject. But they seem to do the trick, because Chen’s raised ears and focused expression give way to minor amusement. “No, Youmu, no one else is here. You’re imagining things again.”

“I’m telling you, Chen, one of these days there will be someone there, and you’ll be caught off guard…”

“The odds of something being able to surprise me and being faster than I can react to are really low,” she says dismissively. “Lady Ran computed the odds for me once.”

“You can’t assign numbers to that sort of thing,” Youmu groans. “Numbers mean nothing when something actually happens.”

“You’d be surprised,” Chen says lightly. “It’s a shame she doesn’t do that sort of thing anymore,” she sighs, looking nostalgic. “She used to so much more…”

Her words trail off into oblivion. A moment of silence passes between them while the girl strains her ears, hoping to hear more. This is the first she’s heard of Aunt Chen’s own master – just like how Nami is her own shikigami, Aunt Chen is in service as well, but she’s never been willing to talk about her before. “Trade secrets”, she’d explained, even though the girl’s quite sure that that term isn’t exactly the most suitable one.

“The incense, Chen,” Youmu gently prompts.

“Ah, sorry, I was just thinking,” she apologizes hastily. “Yes, the incense.”

Youmu watches the nekomata with a slightly troubled expression as she sets up the materials for a small ceremony. “Chen, if there’s anything you want to talk about – “

“There is nothing to talk about, Youmu,” she says icily, igniting the sticks of incense with a snap of her fingers. “What’s done is done. She’s still my master, even if she’s not the same person she used to be.”

“She isn’t just your master, she’s for all intents and purposes your mother,” Youmu says angrily. “You think that it’s healthy to just keep all those feelings bottled up – “

“You wouldn’t understand our relationship, Youmu!” Chen barks, cutting her off. “Just because she practically raised me doesn’t mean I can just walk up to Yukari and demand that – “

“Look at you, you’re lashing out already,” Youmu presses on. “When Youki died, I was much the same – “

“Your father died,” Chen says, her voice harsh with anger. “He wasn’t – twisted – “

Youki. So that statue – is of Youmu’s father?

“He was,” Youmu says, her own voice starting to rise, “and let me tell you that was certainly the most terrifying experience I’ve ever experienced, I know how you feel.”

“ – okay, he was – “ Chen concedes, “but you didn’t have to live with it as if nothing had happened! At least he gets a memorial for his passing! The Lady Ran I knew is gone, and I have to smile and nod as if she’s still the same woman she always was!”

“… and if she were still here, she wouldn’t want us to be fighting over it,” Youmu admits, her anger suddenly draining away as fast as it had risen.

“Neither would Youki,” Chen agrees. They both smile at each other sadly, then look away as if embarrassed to have quarreled in the first place. With a wistful sigh, Chen follows the trails of incense smoke as they float towards the demiplane’s ceiling –

“Youmu, you were right!” she exclaims, scrambling to her feet. “There is something here!”

The girl squeezes her eyes shut in resignation, realizing that while she muffled both of their auras, she completely forgot to turn her shikigami invisible as well.

“It’s a fairy,” Youmu wonders aloud, lifting her hands off of her swords where they had instantly flown once again. “I thought Reimu told them to not touch this place.”

Panicking, the fairy detaches itself from the underside of the statue’s umbrella and zooms for the sky, but, faster than a blink of the eye, Chen leaps up and snatches it into her hand with all the agility that her cat-like nature would suggest, landing back softly down on the flagstones with the fairy squirming for dear life within her grasp. “You know fairies. It’s not as if they mean any harm. This one probably just forgot. Like most of them probably have already,” she chuckles.

“How’d it bypass the wards, though?” Youmu points out, still unconvinced.

Chen shrugs. “They’re fairies. They have a tendency of getting into all the places where they’re not supposed to be. You hear that?” she asks her prisoner. “When you reform, don’t come back here, okay?”

She tightens her fist slightly, and with a soft pichun, the fairy disappears in a spray of sparks. “Well, good riddance to that.”

The girl flinches, not in pain, but in realization that her cover is about to be blown.

“… Chen, it’s coming back already!” Youmu says, a slight edge of amusement in her voice. Sure enough, the fairy is reforming itself as a ball of glowing light right above the girl’s head, invisible as she is.

Chen’s eye’s narrow. “The nerve of… wait.” She sniffs the air, and the girl, sensing her impending doom, uncurls herself just enough to get the soles of her feet back underneath her.

But that small movement is enough to tip Chen off, and before the girl can take another step away, she’s been lifted up kicking and squirming into her hands. “Got you, you little bugger! What are you and Nami doing here of all places?”

“Aunt Chen! Miss Youmu!” the girl whines right back, letting the glamours fall off of her. “What are you doing here!”

“Paying our yearly respects,” Youmu says lightly. “How’d you even find this place?”

“Nami said that she and her friends found it one day,” she explains, trying to shove the blame off of her as Chen puts her back on her feet, leaning down to stare her face-to-face.

“… it’s supposed to be concealed from them in the first place. How did that one happen?” Chen asks, face wrinkling in confusion.

“Exactly,” the girl huffs. “It’s kind of like throwing a sheet over something in an otherwise empty room. You don’t know what’s under the sheet, but you know that something’s. Maybe you can’t get underneath it yourself, but you might get someone else to do it – I’m Nami’s master, and I thought it might be fun…”

“It’s dangerous out here,” Youmu admonishes her, coming to squat down to the girl’s height along with Chen. “You shouldn’t be wandering outside like this. Ferals don’t respect Christmas, and I’m not sure that the tengu wouldn’t take it as an excuse to not rough you up a bit.”

“Please, we all know that Mom taught me a punch hard enough to send any hungry feral over the top of Youkai Mountain,” the girl scoffs. “And Mistress Futatsuiwa taught me better than to get caught by one in the first place. Tengu patrols can’t catch me either, although what they’d be doing at the base of the mountain, outside their jurisdiction, would be beyond me. ‘sides, it took you a while to find me, and I was right underneath your nose the entire time!” she boasts, putting her hands on her hips.

Chen and Youmu exchange a helpless look, then share in a mutual sigh. “I wish you’d take more after your mother. Meiling can’t bluff her way out of a closed room.”

“Mom’s adorable when she tries, though,” the girl agrees with a laugh.

“Already know what your present is?” Chen chuckles in turn.

“A dress,” she groans. “I hate dresses. I still don’t see how Mom can fight in one without tripping all over herself. Give me a pair of pants any day.”

“First of all, it’s not a dress, it’s a robe, and secondly, if you can fight in a dress, that just means you’ll fight even better when it isn’t in your way,” Youmu points out.

“Still…” The fairy comes to perch on the girl’s shoulder, sticking her tongue out at Chen. “Aunt Chen, apologize to Nami.”

“She’s just a fairy, she didn’t even feel a thing,” Chen backpedals, holding her hands palms out in front of her defensively.

“Apologize,” she repeats, a predatory smile growing on her face as she steps towards the nekomata. “Or I’ll tell Miss Youmu about the time you – “

“Okay! Fine! Okay!” Chen says helplessly, waving off the girl’s advances. “Nami, I’m sorry for blowing you up like that.”

With a bemused smile, Youmu starts, “What precisely happened that I can’t know – “

“Nothing at all!” Chen cuts her off. Meanwhile, the fairy turns her nose up and crosses her arms, clearly wanting more remorse than that. “I’ll get you a peach the next time we’re in town, okay?” Chen offers. The fairy opens one eye, her resistance cracking. “With some candied plums too?” That seems to do the trick, as the fairy offers her a huge grin, kicking off of the girl’s shoulder to buzz a few circles around Chen’s head before settling back onto the wrist of her master’s outstretched arm. “As for you… well, you already have a bribe,” she giggles. “You know there’s already a present waiting for you back at home.”

“And you made sure to ward it, unlike Mom,” the girl grumbles, flicking the fairy back off of her arm as she folds it back towards her body. “Well, you can start by telling me why this place is so hidden.”

As the fairy lands back on the girl’s shoulder, Chen glances at Youmu, receiving a shake of the phantom’s head. “Now’s not the time, love. Maybe sometime later.”

The girl stomps her foot in annoyance. “It’s a memorial, right?” she presses on. “Then it should be public so that everyone can pay their respects, not hidden somewhere where only the fairies can find it! Why the secrecy?”

Youmu sighs, rubbing her brow with a hand. “It’s not that simple. It’s a memorial, yes, but it’s not just that – it’s also a vault.”

“A mausoleum,” Chen corrects her.

“A vault,” Youmu insists. “A mausoleum is for dead people. My father… Kogasa…” she trails off. “There’s still something left of them. Of both of them.”

The girl’s spine crawls. “… is that what’s in the box?” she says in a hushed voice.

Youmu suddenly steps to the girl and grabs her shoulders, drawing her close again. The fairy scrambles off her shoulder, retreating upwards to the top of the statue’s umbrella, laying herself flat on top to just barely peer over the edge at the unfolding events. “You didn’t touch anything, did you?” Youmu growls.

“N-no,” the girl stammers. “It wasn’t locked, so I just… took a peek. I thought that if it was something more important, there would have been something there. Like, a latch at the very least.”

“You don’t think all the wards you bypassed were for show, did you?” Youmu points out, one eyebrow raised.

Realizing her guilt, the girl bows her head. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean any disrespect.”

Sighing, Youmu lets go, but not before tousling the girl’s hair. “It’s okay. Just don’t go poking your nose into there again.”

“I won’t,” she promises. “Not that I know what’s in there now. But then – still, it feels like you’re keeping their passing a secret from people. Why?”

Neither of the older women answer at first. “Will I have to dig through Missus Kamishirasawa’s records?” the girl threatens. “I’m on very good terms with her – she’ll let me look, and I don’t think it’d be so secret as to not be in there.”

The two older women share a tired look yet again, before nodding in resignation. “There was an incident two years ago, in Hakugyokurou. Something evil attacked there. It tried to control all the spirits – not even Lady Yuyuko was spared.”

“Lady Yuyuko? But she’s fine now… she even gave me a present, too! Even though I’ve never met her. She gave me one last year, too.” the girl says, confused.

“She’s been giving you presents?” Youmu repeats, alarm clear in her voice. When the girl nods, confused, she grinds her face into her palm and swears. “Lady Yuyuko, stop meddling,” she grumbles.

“She must feel guilty,” Chen offers cryptically.

“One, she has no reason to, and two, she’s only going to cause problems if she keeps on doing that. I’ll talk with her,” Youmu declares.

“Hey, those are my presents!” The girl’s not about to let a source of gifts, however mysterious, dry up. The fairy, mirroring her master’s emotions, puts her own hands on her hips, spreading her wings in an attempt to look as big and threatening as possible.

“She’s not even supposed to talk to you,” Youmu sighs, “much less send you presents.”

The girl purses her lips in thought. “Does this have anything to do with Yukari?” the girl suddenly asks, presents forgotten.

Lady Yukari,” Chen automatically corrects her, buying time for Youmu whose swords suddenly seem to need their straps adjusted.

“She’s just Yukari to me, until I see her do something deserving of the title,” the girl declares.

“Mind your tongue!” Chen shouts.

“She’s not my master!” she shouts back.

Youmu stands awkwardly to one side, holding her tongue as the two begin to quarrel. “She’s not mine, either, but I won’t have you speak ill of her regardless!”

“Make me!”

Chen raises a hand angrily to slap her, but the fairy changes course and plants herself onto her face, limbs spread wide, catching her with one arm held awkwardly high. “I’m sorry,” she sighs, anger draining out of her. “Just – please don’t speak of her like that,” she sighs, conceding the earlier point. After peeling the offending fairy from her face, her arm falls lifelessly back to her side. “She might seem like a meddling busybody, but she’s just trying to do what she thinks is best. Even if she ends up hurting a lot of people’s feelings in the process.”

“More than just feelings,” Youmu mutters darkly, eliciting only a helpless shrug from her companion. She turns towards the statue of her father, her expression sad. “But meddling aside… upon realizing what had happened, Lady Yukari raised a force as fast as she could. Your aunt, her master, and I – we certainly would have all perished if she had come any slower. Even so, my father still perished before the rescue came. Kogasa,” she indicates with a wave of her hand towards the statue, “died protecting the rescuers in turn. A great tragedy. The likes of which we never want to experience again.”

The girl twitches. “You’re lying about something.”

“Excuse me?!” Youmu cries, spinning towards her, face contorted with anger. “My father died and you have the nerve to – “

“Your anger. It’s fake,” the girl continues, a stubborn expression. “You do feel sad, but you’re not a good actor when it comes to trying to be angry. You’re hiding something.”

“Okay,” she admits, but continues blustering, “I left out some details about the incident, but you don’t need to know them all, alright? I don’t want to talk about them.”

“You’re hiding something about me.”

Chen flinches, her fists curling into balls, but she says nothing. Youmu turns white as a sheet, looking more and more like a ghost with every passing second.

“Mistress Futatsuiwa has been teaching me how to tell when people are lying, or being deceptive – and what they’re being deceptive about.” She advances upon the phantom woman, eyes hard. “You’ve been hiding something about me, and I’m sick of it!” she cries. “Every time we see each other you’re always playing games, there’s something more than just a pleasant visit to the mansion – I can see it, anyone with half a brain can see it, Mom is always so flustered when you come as if she’s not sure what to say or how to act, and when you talk with Mom in private you always go through so much trouble to put up wards of silence, so strong that I could throw myself at them for years and never break them – ”

“Recette,” Chen says, her voice cracking, but gentle. “Please. Calm down.”

The girl sucks in a huge breath, then lets it out in a huge rush. “I just don’t get it! It’s not just that I’m adopted – oh please, everyone can see that I’m not of Mom’s blood,” she explains when Youmu looks stricken herself. “We’re as different as night and day. She’s got dragon blood in her, yes, and so do I – but that’s exactly why I know, it’s not the same blood, and we can both tell.”

“She loves you as her own, though, you know that, right?” Youmu says slowly, still recovering from her shock.

“I know,” Recette sighs, “and I love her too – but she can’t explain so many things! Why did I pick up Mistress Futatsuiwa’s lessons so easily? Why do I know half the things in her books before I ever read about them? And these – these dreams, of ironworks and foundries and clanking machines she can’t give me anything but cups of warm milk and out-of-tune lullabies and I just – want – to – know – “

Her voice starts choking, and Chen steps behind her, hugging her against her chest without a word. Recette turns around in place, throwing her arms around her waist, and starts sobbing, even as Chen starts stroking her head, trying to comfort her with hushed reassurances and calming words. “I’m sorry,” she whispers. “I wish we could tell you too, but we don’t know either.”

“But you do know something,” Recette says, her voice catching with a hiccup. “And you won’t tell me.”

“I wish we could,” Youmu sighs, admitting defeat even as she moves beside Chen, embracing Recette from the side. “I really wish we could.”

Recette coughs. “It’s something to do with Yukari. Isn’t it.” It’s not a question.

“Per our agreement, I’m going to say nothing…” Chen says lightly. “… but I think that’s all I need to do for you to need to know.”

“I hate her,” Recette declares with all the sincerity a two-year old can muster.

“Hate is a strong word,” Youmu scolds her automatically.

“I’m sorry,” Recette replies, just as smoothly.

They remain there for a few seconds, high-strung emotions ebbing away, leaving them drained and clinging to each other for support, both physical and mental.

“We should all get to town. The lighting of the tree should be magnificent,” Chen says, gently trying to disentangle the three of them. Recette allows herself to be peeled away, but only so far as to allow them to walk in a line, herself in between the two friends. The fairy slowly floats back down to Recette’s shoulder to join them, looking expectantly at the nekomata. “No, I haven’t forgotten your fruits,” she chuckles.

“You better have not,” Recette mutters darkly on behalf of her shikigami, but a smile flickers across her lips anyways. “I’m sorry for making a fuss, Aunt Chen, Miss Youmu.”

“Don’t mention it.” Youmu beams. In a blur of motion, she cleans the detritus from the ceremony, packing up the materials into the same bag that they came out of, leaving it as pristine as before. “Come on. I hear the kappa have outdone themselves this year.

“And to think that this whole holiday started when that hermit used it as an excuse to steal from homes…” Chen mutters.

Even the fairy laughs this time, as the three of them walk arm in arm out of the monument’s demiplane, away from the past and into the present.

Excepting a small jog back for the umbrella, that is.
File 135659071286.jpg - (221.58KB, 850x1107 , Renko Mary Stars.jpg) [iqdb]
Votes called. Pic related. Writing now. Please wait warmly~
>aunt Chen
Oh god...
The inevitable shit storm when we get back to Genosokyo just keeps getting better.
I wonder how much time will have passed when we get back to Gensokyo? I guess time works differently in the border.
So...Sai got Ran pregnant, and Yukari mindwiped her, and gave up Recette for adoption to - Meiling? Time's all screwed up in the Border, so it's an easy series of events to swallow, but then who named her?

Also, if Sai comes back and realized that Yukari screwed him out of two years with his daughter, shit is going to hit the fan.

Incidentally, balistafreak, are you going for the explanation of a draconic bloodline for D&D spellcasters? Meiling's the only definitive dragon blooded in Touhou, so its probably from Sai's side.
My God, this is depressing. So Yukari went and split up a whole frigging family, ang god only knows what Rans's been turned into.

I'm gonna go read something light hearted to cheer up.

This is beautiful.

Damn balista, I hate having to dislike Yukari, but goddamn it, I want to punch her to death.
Boy, I cant wait to read this Christmas update! It's going to make me feel all warm and fuzzy insi-

You ruined my Christmas ;_;
Well, if there are people who didn't hate this story's Yukari yet...
Shit will get real soon... I hope.

My heart aches for JUSTICE!
>So...Sai got Ran pregnant, and Yukari mindwiped her, and gave up Recette for adoption to - Meiling?


>Time's all screwed up in the Border, so it's an easy series of events to swallow, but then who named her?

Sai did have a lot of time to think in the Border.

As for the name, itisamystery.jpg

>Also, if Sai comes back and realized that Yukari screwed him out of two years with his daughter, shit is going to hit the fan.

Sai's not exactly an expecting father, nor is he exactly a typical man. Not only would a daughter be news to him, he'd need to come to terms with it first.

'course, after he does...

>Incidentally, balistafreak, are you going for the explanation of a draconic bloodline for D&D spellcasters? Meiling's the only definitive dragon blooded in Touhou, so its probably from Sai's side.

Given that D&D hardcoded draconic bloodlines as basically a prerequisite to be a sorcerer (because hot dayum does the wings line of spells get a turbo boost, not to mention all the other goodies), yeah, I am going for that interpretation.

Or maybe Meiling actually is the mother and this entire thing is non-canonical and craaaaaaaaaaaazy Nah, I wouldn't do that.
I still cannot get over that a Ghost got Ran pregnant. The physics of it is just baffling.
it's never made clear that kind of Youkai Meiling is.
File 135665390584.jpg - (4.68KB, 320x180 , It is a Mystery.jpg) [iqdb]

Pic related.
File 135665847825.jpg - (83.39KB, 500x551 , ghost blowjob.jpg) [iqdb]
Pic also related.

But the ghost is Sai...

No, but it's accepted fanon that she's related to dragons somehow, what with the China and the Hong = Dragon thing and so on.
You see anons when a ghost loves a fox very, very much the ghost puts on it's robe and wizard hat. Then the fox takes them off. Then the ghost casts mighty...well magic happens. You'll learn the rest when you're older.
>trying to pass fanon as canon

tl;dr A wizard did it.

Well, Sai's a spiritual being now, Ran is a spiritual being, so some comingling of spirits, uh...


Nevermind. This.
Damn near EVERYTHING about Touhou is fanon. You can fit the canon information on a single 8x11 paper, double-spaced.

Everyone accepts Meiling as dragon-related, so it's true as far as anyone is concerned.
And is that dragon-relation thing actually mentioned somewhere in the games or any of the side materials like those little official comics?
Oh boy. It begins.
And sage you shameless nigger. I thought Hisao updated.
the star icon on her hat has the Chinese character for Dragon on it.
So, I'm curious. Why was Kogasa shoehorned in, just to die? Unless I'm forgetting something here.
It's a surprise
It'd take a few pages or so; you'd know better if you bothered to look it up as opposed to reading shitty doujins with obsessive Alices.
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this is what I spend my holidays doing heh why



[X] Let Renko stay with Mary. Renko believes that she can help protect Mary from… whatever she might face, and splitting the apparently inseparable duo will most likely cause more problems than it’ll solve. You’ll still need to find some way to infuse her with Hope as well, but that’s a relatively small problem compared to the one Mary is facing down.


“I’ll take no chances,” you say resolutely.

“Then you’ll be taking Renko with you?” Mary says, hopefully.

“To the contrary,” you correct her, causing her expression to sink and Renko’s to perk up at the same time. “You are far more capable in this Border-space than me, Mary, and I fear for Renko’s safety if she were with me.” This appeal to Mary’s desire to keep her lover safe isn’t exactly a lie, but not exactly the truth, either – you have no idea how Renko will fare regardless of who she’s with. “But more importantly – if Renko does have capability, then she belongs here with you, to help you in your task.”

“Together to the bitter end,” Renko says, her voice practically growling in an attempt to sound tough.

“I should hope that this is neither bitter nor an end,” Mary sighs, but the defeat is clear in her voice. “Although, I must ask – if you’re so worried about the Border, then why don’t you stay and help as well?”

You shake your head. “I’ve already considered it. While you might be a wildcard, Renko,” you indicate with a nod, “I’m sure that I would be nothing more than deadweight when it comes to manipulating the Border. And if the Hope has already taken root within you, then there’s not much more I can contribute. Besides, I have a job of my own.” You grimace at the thought. “You’d think that Yukari would notice an assault of this magnitude, but she hasn’t. Clearly, something’s wrong. Whether something’s happened to her, or she’s deliberating for some reason – I’ll do whatever it takes to repel this threat.”

“Speaking of Hope, are you gonna find a way to give me some or no?” Renko suddenly pipes up.

You blink. “Errr. Uuuuuh.”

“Everything here is metaphorical,” Mary reminds you both. “Perhaps some sort of symbolic action…?”

Conceptual magic was never a strong point of yours – your master’s lessons boil down to a single word: improvise. “I guess I could try and… ‘squeeze’… some… out of myself?” you say slowly. “No, that doesn’t even begin to make sense.”

“I could eat a part of you,” Renko offers. “Gnaw off a finger or something?”

“Ew,” Mary groans, swatting the brown-haired girl’s shoulder. “Renko, that’s disgusting.”

“It’s just symbolic!” she counters. “And – oh, are you jealous? I’m sorry if you feel left out, so let me say, Mary, you look delicious yourself,” she adds, her expression suddenly predatory.

You hide your face behind your palm as Renko suddenly jumps from her seat into Mary’s with a whoop, the latter girl’s limbs flailing every which way as her chair tips dangerously backwards, then onto the floor, dumping them out in a pile of limbs sticking every which way. You wait for a few seconds, but make sure to clear your throat very loudly when the moans start. A little comforting is one thing, but this sort of frenzied grappling can wait. “People, this is hardly the time nor place for – well, I’ll be damned,” you suddenly realize, watching Renko rise from the floor licking her lips, her lover left trembling on the floor, hands still desperately plucking at Renko’s sleeve to try and drag her back down. Renko stretches long and languorously, her spine cracking loudly enough to make you wince, and then she puffs her breath out while flexing her arms.

She’s glowing, and not just with lust.

“I’m not even going to ask what just happened,” you say, throwing up your hands in confusion.

“.. guess… it… worked…” Mary whispers weakly, eyes glassy with – well, you don’t feel like that needs to be spelled out.

“I don’t mean to brag,” Renko says quite boastfully to you, elbowing your ribs in what you think is supposed to be a subtle manner, “but I know how to play Mary better than the back of my hand. I can get anything I want from her.” Just like you – and Ran – in Hakugyokurou, it seems the Hope has gotten to her head.
“That isn’t even a proper metaphor,” you reply flatly, trying to bring her back down to earth with a severe expression.

“Well, ex-cuuuuse me!” she laughs, your attempt at sobriety a complete failure. “In this land of simile, it seems I’m the only one who doesn’t know what’s going on! So I might make some mistakes, alright?”

You shake your head in resignation, but her good humor is contagious, and a moment later a chuckle escapes you. After a few seconds, Mary joins in from the floor, rising into a sitting position only so she can hold her trembling sides, and then Renko simply throws her head back and lets out a belly-shaking laugh, spearheading a mutual episode of mirth that goes on for far longer than the funniest joke you’ve ever had the pleasure of hearing.

“Well, on that note,” Mary gasps helplessly, wiping tears from her eyes, “we should hurry. We haven’t much time – as much sense as that concept makes in here.”

The three of you exchange a quick series of looks. Nods go all around, your mutual assent not needing to be exchanged in words.

“Then, close your eyes, and hold on,” she whispers, following her own command. Renko’s eyelids flicker shut an instant later, but you hold your own open, knowing that vision is one of your less useful senses to suppress.

When the shift happens, despair hits you like a brick wall.

Sadness. Remorse. Grief. All of these emotions claw at your motivation, insisting that you stop, hold your head in your hands, curl up into a ball and let your feelings consume you from the inside. It’s as if you were thrust into the bottom of a well, and that well is overflowing with muck so thick it might as well be clay, freezing cold and crushing you underneath its weight.

That’s how you’re supposed to feel, anyways, but you’re not having any of that.

You can feel Hope and Taint crackling against each other as you come out of your moment of perfect mind – not that you’re sure you needed to, but for you such a reaction is automatic. The sensation is strange Renko and Mary flinch, but when their eyes open they look shaken at worst. Of course, that should change in just a second.

“That wasn’t so bad,” Renko offers.

“Look up,” Mary gasps in alarm, right on cue.

You don’t need to in order to figure out what’s troubling Mary. The entire ceiling is turning black and gooey. Even as Renko swears, you can feel that the same is happening to the walls and floor.

“Mary!” Renko cries frantically.

“I don’t know!” she shrieks back, lifting her feet up as if trying to lift them out of the bog that her projected world is rapidly becoming.

“Jump!” you shout out, already hovering up off the ground, and before they come back down, their minds still bound by the concept of gravity, you drop a wall of force just an inch off of the rapidly-softening floor. Their feet thud solidly upon the surface, but you’re not sure how long the barrier will last. “Mary!”

“Y-yes?” she stammers.

Conceptual magic. Improvise. Think in broad strokes, then find ways to fill in the gaps. “Try cutting down on the size of your projection. Focus it into just this one room,” you say quickly.

“I did!” she cries, hands flapping uselessly around her head. “The place is still melting! I can’t control it!” So much for letting someone else do all the work.

“You think?” Renko snaps. A huge blob begins bulging through the wall – no, not a blob. A cyst. As you watch, morbidly fascinated, it begins dribbling a grey fluid out of its surface, a fluid that rapidly takes shape in what resembles nothing less than rubbery-looking, thick tentacle.

Before you decide to release the orb of force you were preparing, though, Renko barks out some quick order, throwing an arm out in front you. The gun practically flies out of her holster into her other hand – no, it actually did, it lifted itself up out of the leather case about an inch before her hands ever touched it – and with a sharp report, it burps out a tiny metal slug at an impressive but not terrifying velocity.

The effect is far more than the kinetic energy of the projectile would imply. Hope and Taint clash with each other in a spray of oddly muffled light, and then the rot shrinks back into the wall, thoroughly chastised.

“Hey, I could get used to this!” Renko roars boisterously, turning the gun in her wrist towards the other three walls in a sweeping arc, working the trigger furiously with her finger. Given the moving parts and the apparent recoil of the weapon, it’s a move that by your calculations should at the very least sprain her wrist – but nothing here is real, and so she blasts all three walls with another dozen rounds, pivoting smoothly on her feet to finish the turn. By the time she turns to the ceiling, she’s fired more rounds than the weapon conceivably could have held. More importantly, the room looks almost exactly like it did before, with its printed wallpaper, plastered ceiling, and hardwood flooring – yes, even the floor, as Renko’s assault seems to have affected the floor as well.

You’re impressed; you wouldn’t have thought that such a simple display of force would have beaten back the Taint so easily. “Mind your step,” you warn the two girls, dispelling the wall of force and depositing them back on the now-restored floor.

“Was that a one-time thing?” Mary asks aloud, more a wild guess than a legitimate question.

“If it wasn’t,” Renko declares with a stomp, “I’ll just shoot it away again.”

“It might come back in a different form,” you hypothesize. “A different approach might take you off guard.”

“It won’t,” she assures you. You open your mouth to say something about the dangers of over-confidence, but something fierce in her gaze makes you close it again.

Besides, in this realm of strange and imaginary concepts, perhaps arrogance truly does make oneself unbeatable.

“Then I’ll leave Mary in your capable hands,” you say, giving her a long nod.

“You’re not leaving me anywhere I wasn’t already,” Mary corrects you with a small smile, to which you offer a shrug of acceptance. “But in any case, you should hurry. I should see you off.”

“I will try and bring you relief as soon as I can,” you assure her. “And hopefully, if all of this can be settled, I can get you out of this place.”

“Priorities,” Mary chides you. “Let’s make sure we hold first.”

“Of course,” you agree.

She lets out a long sigh, sinking into a chair, rolling her head back until her long golden hair hangs out fully behind the back. Renko holsters her weapon and moves behind her, massaging her shoulders, and Mary brings her arms up to wrap them around her lover’s neck as if it were the most natural thing in the world, as if she wasn’t preparing to fight a war that neither you nor Renko can even begin to comprehend.

“The door is that way,” she sighs blissfully, her eyes not leaving Renko’s for a second.

A small smile crosses your lips. They’ll be fine. “See you on the other side,” you say, and then you turn on your heel the way you came.

It seems Mary has rebuilt the house, as the front door is right where you remember it. Without a moment’s hesitation, you turn the doorknob and pull, revealing the front step, just as brightly lit as before… except the world just ends right after.

There’s no reason to wait. With one last fortifying breath, you step off into the abyss, and it pulls you in like an old lover.



good bad


bad focus Focus FOCUS


no carrier no carrier no carrier

hard reset



unable to manifest


soul intact

mind functional impaired

restoration of higher functions upon manifestation

top priority in order to accomplish mission objectives




viable sites located



[ ] blood calls to blood

[ ] memories of yore

[ ] font free mana consume
[x] memories of yore
[x] blood calls to blood
Memories of yore would probably leave Sai in or near Yuyuko's mansion, or maybe the Higan - or, alternatively, with Marcus, considering he spent 800+ hanging out with the man. Or, worse, back in Yukari's pad.

font free mana consume would be the most magical place in the Soak - so most likely, somewhere in the Forest of Magic.

But blood calls to blood? Why, hello there, Recette~

The only worry is that we'd drain her dry of magic in an attempt to stabilize ourselves. Or something that might otherwise harm her.
[x] blood calls to blood

We gotta check up on our kid.
[X] blood calls to blood
[x] blood calls to blood

I like the implication that this means meeting Recette.
[x] font free mana consume

Might as well get my tidepissing done early this year.
[x]Memories of Yore

Gonna lose, but I think that finding old memories would help stabilize a mind better than something world-shattering like meeting a daughter that you thought into existence, or by leeching ambient mana.
[x]Memories of Yore
Settle with the past before facing the future
[x] Memories of yore

Meeting with Recette would be nice, but we really do need to keep ourselves steady and stable before we visit her. After all, Yukari's probably keeping tabs on her, and I don't think there's too much stopping her from gapping in, mind wiping everyone in the vicinity like she did Ran, and then throwing us back into the Border - or somewhere else.
[x] free mana.
I want free mana.
[x] Memories of yore

Reconsidered and deleted my old vote. We should really get our feet under us before going to meet up with our offspring.
[x] memories of yore

There is only one place in all of Gensokyo where we're likely to have any kids, and now is NOT the time to go there.
[x]Memories of Yore
[ ] blood calls to blood
How did we have a kid who grew up to be ten or so in the 2 years since Sai's death? Confused on that still.
Votes are currently 6 to 7, "memories of yore" leading, close enough that I'd feel uncomfortable calling the vote now.

First choice to achieve a lead of 2 secures victory. Waiting warmly~
[x] blood calls to blood
Better have a votespam check; 16 non-bandwagon votes in most stories is pretty suspicious.
It's a good point.
I keep reading "memories of yore" as "memories of vore." What the hell is wrong with me?

That's not a vote, by the way, I already voted once.
[x]Memories of Yore
[x] blood calls to blood
[x]Memories of yore.
[x] Memories of yore
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Memories of lore.
Memories of gore.
Memories of more.

I could go on for daaaaaays.

(Okay, at most twenty-six, and at least half of those won't be found in any English dictionary.)


I appreciate the concern, but surprisingly or no, I got this checked not once but twice by Big Brother our friendly neighborhood admin Kapow.

20 votes in less than as many hours. I'm thoroughly impressed, anon. I will strive to be more worthy of such attention in the future.

With that...

Votes called. Pic related. Writing now. Please wait warmly~

...I'm suddenly very interested.
More like memories of BORE

oooh sick burn
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[X] memories of yore



You uncurl your limbs from their fetal position, flipping yourself onto your back with the same movement. You ache. There’s no other word for it.

“Feeling a little better now, Sai?”

“Yeah, better than I was. That was hairy,” you groan.

“Well, however hairy it was, at least you survived…”

You give a short grunt, halfway to a short laugh, but you feel too sluggish to follow through with the action. “I guess. Small blessings. Count them.”

“Need a hand up?”

“No, no, no,” you say quickly, waving off the attention. “I’ll be fine.” To prove as much, you struggle to your feet underneath your own power. No, you didn’t half-float into that position to save yourself the need to think through the complicated limb motions.

“You shouldn’t dawdle here, you know. You made quite an entrance. All those colored lights, and funny sounds, and – well, I’d be surprised if someone didn’t come by soon.”

You frown. You were hoping to be more subtle, but that’s the way things are, it seems. Your feet crunch on gravel as you take a look at your surroundings. You wince. An entrance indeed. The land around seems to have been pulverized for about twenty yards in all directions. Oops.

You reach down and pick up a few splinters from the ground. Wood, and not straight from a tree, either. It’s been highly processed, or crafted with, worked, manufactured – well, there’s also chips of red paint, so clearly you destroyed something that someone built, something with a lot of care put into it. All the more reason to leave, and swiftly.

But… something survived. Well. In a sense. You drop the splinters to grab up the oblong hunk of metal. It might have been a sword, once upon a time, but its blade is gone. From what you can tell from the scattered, molten blobs dotting the rubble, it seems to have undergone critical thermal failure.

You frown. If there was an explosion hot enough to flash the steel of a weapon, how did the wood survive, much less completely unsinged?

“Oh, that. It lit up like a torch. Rose right out of its container, then burst, like a firework. I guess it couldn’t take the stress.”

“Pity,” you mutter, turning the bladeless hilt in your hands again. “This looks like it was once a fine work.” For that matter, it seems familiar somehow.

In fact, given the amount of metal scattered around and the dimensions of the hilt, and the little you can remember from that time… you’re actually pretty sure that this blade was the one that skewered you in Hakugyokurou.

“What is Youki’s blade doing here? And why did…” You trail off. Youki’s blade was the one to pin you down so that Youmu’s Roukanken could finish you off. Metaphorically, one might say that the blade has tasted your blood before, making it a viable anchor for a blind teleport. Well, not a teleport, but rather seat-of-your-pants interplanar cross-Border travel.

Although you’re not sure why it had to explode.

You decide you can spare a minute or two. Ranging your senses across the rubble, telekinesis pulls every last shard of the blade back towards you, floating around you orbits of steel not unlike the center of your mind. The spell takes effort, sweat beading on your brow as you struggle to focus your energies. So you’re still weak, then. You’ll grow stronger, surely, as your form settles itself in time. Closing your eyes, you try to picture every detail of the weapon – its heft, the way it was carried, just how it slid through your manifested form…

The shards suddenly pull towards each other as one. With nary a fabricate from you, they reheat until they’re sparking, as if fresh out of the forge, and fuse into a blade, floating parallel to the ground before your eyes. Dumbfounded, you instinctively step forward to thrust the hilt forward, sliding it into the tang, and the two pieces fuse as naturally as two streams of liquid.

Then it rips itself out of your hands and flicks itself point first towards you, your eyes turning wide as you realize what’s about to happen. Its point rips straight through your wings of cover as if they weren’t there, and then straight through your chest. Your knees don’t so much as crumple out from underneath you as disappear completely, and you pluck helplessly at the sword’s length, mouth agape with surprise. And then it starts moving – sawing back and forth, trying to slice its way out of your form, your mind, your soul, in a massive cleaving stroke, despite your feeble attempts to hold it still.

Out. You have to get it out. And away from you. But first, out, and with as little fuss as possible. Cutting. It’s cutting, and your form is snared, you can’t just phase into incorporeality, this is bad, very bad –

“No!” Another set of hands grab the blade, these with far more energy than yours. But even those hands can only halt it. You stare up into the eyes of your benefactor, then blink. They don’t match. One red, one blue. Heterochromatic. That’s what it’s called, right?

The mouth underneath those eyes is shouting something, its voice panicked. “Just – hold on – I’ll think of something – just – “

Your fingers lose their last bits of strength, fading into nothing more than wisps. Without your grip, the blade begins to slip through your body, the other’s grip not quite strong enough to stop it. “No!” it screams. “No, no, no, stop, no, please, stop it, no, no – “

With a sickening sound of parting meat and viscera, it cleaves through you in a burst of strength. Your sundered body flops lifelessly on the ground, energy bleeding out of your body, but you can still watch the blade orient itself in the opposite direction as before, towards the voice this time.

“No!” the voice shrieks, realizing the weapon’s killer intent.


Maybe this is your ignoble end. Brought in Gensokyo weak and near-powerless, killed by a blade that recalls its former target and mindlessly seeks to complete the job. But you’ll not let it kill another. Absolutely not.

The sinister green ray of a disintegrate rises drunkenly from your dissolving body, swirls itself to reorient itself properly by the guidance of a quickened true strike, then rockets forward to reduce the runaway weapon to a cloud of dust. The white cloud of powdered steel floats gently about, thickening the free mana puddling around you until it forms rivers of gunky steel.

But that’s all you have the strength for. You’re little more than a puddle now, your last effort too much for you to maintain a properly manifested form. Really, though, you should have expected this. Your entire life, if it can even be called ‘life’ at this point, has been defined by trauma and suffering. Maybe this time, you’ll just fade away, and no one will find you and bring you back yet again for more torture.

“Oh – no, I’m sorry, I – I couldn’t stop it, oh, I’m sorry, please, forgive me, I’m too weak – “

No, wait, someone already found you.

Those hands splash themselves into your puddle, palms down, supporting a collapsed body. They grab up fistfuls of the stuff along with the steel dust of the blade, and, as if mocking their earlier efforts, it flows freely out from between clenched fingers.

“No. I can save you. I can do this. I can do this!” the voice begins chanting to itself.

Something heavy collapses into you, and that’s the end of your consciousness.


“Good morning, Sai!”

Your eyes fly open. You can see. More importantly, you have eyes, and not just globs of half-manifested mana.

You stare up at the owner of the voice. Those mismatched eyes stare back down at you, the mouth underneath gaping in a wide grin. It’s a girl, her long dark blue hair unkempt and tangled, the ends split and split again with years of neglect.

Her mind sits comfortably within yours: a bright rainbow, reflecting and refracting infinitely against the iron and steel within. Although it all swirls and flows in ways that only you will ever be able to understand, the metal itself is foreign, unfamiliar, there and yet not there, half-real. half-ephemeral. Grey clouds grow heavy the farther one strays from your core, releasing brief rainfalls that vaporize and return to their source before they ever pool and run together – the very embodiment of a spring storm, quick to brew and even quicker to fade away, leaving one befuddled and soaking, wishing in hindsight have brought an umbrella. Here and there, dwarfed by the masses of metal, are sheets of blue cloth supported by cane frames, blowing freely between monoliths and lattices, flapping in the nascent showers, moving in their own rhythms yet not clashing with any of your own.

The light has no point of origin; attempting to trace a beam of light simply leads to another lustrous river, another iridescent shard, another scintillating fragment, over and over again, completely contained with the organized chaos of your thoughts. You can feel how little of your mind survived the assault from before; her donation to you, and yet also her entire being; while the flows of metal are you and only you, the clouds and light that reside within them are her. You cannot force her to leave, not without destroying her completely – she is now as much as resident of your mind as you are.

But you can’t ever imagine doing that. It would be like destroying… yourself.

It was a blind action on her part, undertaken with no forethought or planning. Nothing but intent and pure force of will brought this about. And she was broken, shattered as you were when you first came. If she had failed, she would have joined you in oblivion. You were only able to prepare for such an end after centuries of preparation, but she had the guts and the innocence to risk the same for a complete stranger.

In many ways, she is a far more virtuous person that you ever were.

You smile right back at her. “Good morning, Kogasa.”

She beams. “Surprised to be alive?”

“Aren’t you?” you counter, curving an eyebrow at her.

You both laugh. For now, the two of you will simply appreciate the fact you’re both alive.



Congratulations. After untold stress, duress, trauma, and downright sadism on my part, Sai is worthy of his 18th level. No, he is not advancing into Jade Phoenix Mage, as much sense as that would make for his initiator/arcane caster mix. strike of perfect clarity, and that’s final. He’s always had an Iron Heart focus, and while I let him slide sideways into time stands still first, he needs this now.

However, his Sorcerer level grants him something new and foreign. A 9th level spell. I thought about picking a few as formal choices, but truthfully, he has everything essential to his ‘build’, or really, his normal styles of combat.

This is chance to run wild with something. I can’t make walls of updates for the next week, but I’d like to use the time to develop Sai in way that you guys like.

To start with, I’m going to make it accept write-ins for this one spell, (subject to writefag veto, of course), and give it these qualifications.

It must be in one of the following schools: abjuration, evocation, conjuration, divination, or illusion.

It must have a casting round of no more than 1 round. No long rituals or such.

It must not have a costly focus, spell component, or XP cost.

It must not manipulate planes. That’s a stupid can of worms. This includes summon spells of any kind.

It must not emulate other spells. No shades for toolboxing.

It should not be stupidly niche and useless 99% of the time, but that’s more a matter of principle as a sorcerer spell.

It should be cool, and not do something stupid like conjure a rainfall of frogs.

I’ll throw out some ideas to get a start on matters. You might pick something like the always rage-inducing disjunction, which goes a step beyond dispelling magic and suppressing items, but actually destroys permanent magics completely. You could go with the undeniable weirdness of… weird, creating an illusion so weird people die rather than try to understand it. But think beyond Core, and there’s so much more: the buff-stealing reaving dispel, the hilarious destruction of controlled avalanche, and the Gary Gygax homage of sphere of ultimate destruction.

World’s your oyster. I look forward to seeing what you guys come up with. In a few days I’ll churn out an official vote with the nominations, and then next week, a new update.

Also, open Q&A time. Ask anything you want, receive honest answers to anything I can afford to divulge. Just refrain from asking questions about future plans. Gotta keep some mystique, I’m afraid.

[x] Time Stop.

Maybe with that he'll stop dying so often.


[x] Refuge: while it DOES require preparation beforehand, it'd be a good thing to give to someone like Ran. And it's only a standard action once it's prepared.

>time stop
>It must be in one of the following schools: abjuration, evocation, conjuration, divination, or illusion.

I said no transmutation for a very good reason, and no time stop was one of them.
>It must not manipulate planes. That’s a stupid can of worms. This includes summon spells of any kind.

Are you intentionally being stupid?

Writefag, can we draw from any source, as long as it fits above criteria?
[x]Sphere of Ultimate Destruction, if only because Unname is :necromancy: and Detonate just doesn't seem Sai's style.

Still prefer Refuge, or possibly Instant Refuge, though the former has a non-insignificant gp cost, and the latter has a small XP cost with a very small gp cost.
Lets see....
Meteor Swarm because it's always a fun cast.
Shapechange. If I can't summon a mount, I'll be my own mount. Like say, a giant kitsune. On fire.
If we're allowed spells from any class:
Storm of Vengeance,

And for Non-Core...
Chain Contingency: I like mass casts, okay.
Tornado Throw: Because. We promised to marry Youmu.

Fitting with the Necromancy theme:
Black Blade of Disaster: We have weapons. One more.
Ensul's Soultheft
Sphere of Ultimate Destruction: Wheeeeeeeeeeeeee
Five-Shadow Creeping Ice Enervating Strike: We need a finisher.

And because I like the irony of a sun-based ghost/necromancer/wizard etc.
Blinding Glory: Fight Taint with bright lights
Deadly Sunstroke
Iceberg: Because no good sun user should be without a back up "Fuck you" spell
Prismatic Sphere
Inferno Blast

Wish: I wonder what happens when Hope interacts with Wish. Maybe we can surpass the spells limitations. Being more meta, I like this on Sai.

Made up on the spot:
Charm: Projectile blast of pure lust causes hit target to spend the next round walking at the user, love stricken and unable to act. We shall be a paragon of Love.

I'm out. Time to go shave.
Balista, what exactly are the limits to our choice when it comes to source of the spell? You've said to look beyond the core 3.5 spells, but is there a limit to that?
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I do too, and I know that half of what you stated doesn't work. There is no maneuver choice, I said it was handled already. Some of your spells are out of school, and more fail the "no major costs" requirement.

That, and when has Sai ever shown necromantic tendencies? He was a necropolitan once, but that was that. He's incorporeal like a ghost, but he's never had the privilege misfortune of actually biologically dying. I don't actually think I've had him cast a single school from necromancy.

Pic related.
[x] Adsorption, because eating touhous danmaku and using it to power our spells sounds hilarious, Though Reaving Dispel also sounds great.
Absorption rather, I cannot into spelling right now.
Wow, this was a tough choice, there are simply too many awesome spells out there. It was difficult deciding if I should pick a spell that fits with Sai's current abilities or just get something random and stupidly awesome.

There were a couple of other spells I found that seemed a perfect fit, but they were from some pretty homebrew looking websites, so I left them alone.

I ended up with
[X] Winds of Vengeance http://paizo.com/pathfinderRPG/prd/advanced/spells/windsOfVengeance.html
Fly around super fast doing flips, block all missiles, and bludgeon with wind anyone that gets too close. Seems perfect for Gensokyo, right?

The other one I was considering was Ray of Ending (http://www.d20pfsrd.com/magic/3rd-party-spells/bastion-press/ray-of-ending), just for it's hilariously overpowered effect, but I'm not sure if it really fit.
Though choice. Meteor swarm is funny because more dakka, Prismatic sphere makes you untouchable, Foresight is always useful and Disjunction destroys artifacts (as in, say, the Ying Yang Orbs)...
Still, my vote will have to go for
[x] Winds of Vengeance

Perfect flight at double speed, (even if you're carrying a heavy load, I.E: 5 Youmus) you can breathe regardless of your location (SPAAAAAACE) inmunity to gas, wind, thrown weapons, breath attacks, anything that hits you in melee gets blown off, etc...

By the way which level 9 spells he already knows?

Noted. I must warn you now, as a manifestation, Sai is already capable of perfect maneuverability flight, and he already knows lower-level spells in combination that can give him even better aerial mobility, as briefly touched here: >>154126. He also has zero need to breathe.

This being said, the spell will still grant immunity to all physical ranged attacks (pointedly excluding many, though not all types of danmaku), and its retaliation component might still come in handy.

Sai, having just achieved 18th level, has zero other 9th level spells, although he did create the baffling illusory swarm himself.
I figured he didn't need to breath, but he's already as maneuverable and even faster? Well, better dump that idea, no matter how awesome the name is.

Can we dual wield swords? If so, Prismatic Blade looks rather awesome, given the range of possible effects.

If not, I'll just pick Ride the Lightning (http://www.d20pfsrd.com/magic/all-spells/r/ride-the-lightning), I'm pretty sure manifestations can't turn into lightning bolts already.
[X] Prismatic Spray

While my knowledge of DnD is woefully lacking, I can't think a spell that blinds foes at worst is a bad thing (CC is your friend!). I dunno if the "sent to another plane" bit is out, maybe replace it in-story with some other disable.

I'm a fan of simple, effective spells. That and the whole "light spell to fight evil" resonates with me.
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Afraid the only instance of prismatic blade I can find is as a homebrew spell on D&D wiki, which is about as far from reputable as one can get.

Ride the lightning has an elegance to it, though - this is the sort of 9th level spell I'm looking for.

But on the prismatic front -


Bump that up to http://dndtools.eu/spells/complete-mage--58/prismatic-deluge--831/, which is basically a rainbow-sized prismatic spray and you have a winner.

Also, I can't believe I didn't think of this earlier.

>rainbow-colored spellcards
>prismatic spells
Oh, damn. There is actually a Prismatic Blade on d20pfsrd from Super Genius Games, but I think I'll stick with
[X] Ride the Lightning
We gotta go fast.
Communal Mind Blank (http://paizo.com/pathfinderRPG/prd/ultimateCombat/spells/mindBlank.html) should definitely be considered. Sai himself might not need it, given his Diamond Mind, but Ran and others certainly might. Complete immunity to pretty much all magical means of information gathering, up to and including divine intervention (Negates Miracles) is pretty awesome, and since Balistafreak ruled earlier that stuff like the Protection from Alignment spells don't offer complete suppression from mental control, Mind Blank will be able to step in and protect whomever Sai wants to protect.

Freedom (http://www.d20pfsrd.com/magic/all-spells/f/freedom) is one of those spell names that sound awesome, but don't really do enough. I might be picky, but you'd think a spell called Freedom would Free you from all forms of control, not just ones that restrict your physical movement. As is, it's far too niche, and could be generally replaced by Freedom of Movement, which does basically the exact same thing, except it also protects you from movement-restriction effects for the duration of the spell, and lets you move perfectly fine underwater.

The people have already mentioned Ride the Lightning and Winds of Vengeance, and those are both interesting choices as well. After that comes the Pathfinder spells that were pulled from 3.5 Core - Prismatic Sphere, Disjunction, Meteor Swarm, and so on.

I'm a fan of Sai cracking the secrets of Prsmatic Spells due to Kogasa's newfound, colorful influence into his steel mind, so Prismatic Deluge sounds awesome.

>>164065 made mention of Pathfinder 3rd party's Prismatic Blade ( http://www.d20pfsrd.com/magic/3rd-party-spells/super-genius-games---3rd-party-spells/prismatic-blade) , which is an interesting choice. It works as Flame Blade (http://www.d20pfsrd.com/magic/all-spells/f/flame-blade), meaning Sai would create a rainbow Scimitar, and he would only need to touch someone with it in order to burn them with fire/burn them with acid/electrocute them/super poison them/turn them to stone/drive them insane/send them to another dimension.

In comparison with Prismatic Ray and Prismatic Deluge:

Prismatic Ray hits one target, at range, with all seven effects above. Prismatic Deluge hits a large cylindrical area, possibly hitting multiple targets, but each target is only effected by one color, or effect, chosen at random. Note that both of these spells are also capable of blinding people who look at the spell effect, if they're not strong enough.

Prismatic Blade hits one person, in melee, with one of the effects above. The spell descriptor makes no mention of whether or not it can blind. Furthermore, while it only hits with one of the effects above, it does not mention whether it is a random effect, or if Sai could choose the effect to use. Lastly, it has a decent lasting time - while Prismatic Ray and Prismatic Deluge are both one shot effects, Prismatic Blade lasts at 1 minute per level - so, 18 minutes. Considering Sai's fighting style - melee combat up the wazoo - this could be quite useful, because along with whatever attacks his Warblade training gave him, he'd also be able to set someone on fire, or turn electrocute them, and so on.

The problem, however, is that Flame Blade, which Prismatic Blade is based on - meaning it copies all effects, casting time, components and so on unless stated otherwise - specifically states that the weapon Flame Blade creates is a scimitar. This means that Prismatic Blade also creates a scimitar.

On the surface it feels like a moot point, but the problem is that Diamond Mind, Iron Heart, and all the other schools of Sword Magic require specific types of weapons to use them. Sai gets around the weapon-restriction use via his Mercury Bracer, which he can transform into any type of weapon as needed. And, unfortunately, Diamond Mind and Iron Heart aren't compatible with Scimitars. That means that Sai would be unable to perform any maneuvers beyond swinging the rainbow death stick at people.

However, Balistafreak has bent D&D rules to make for a better story, so I do have a question.

I believe that Prismatic Blade fits the best, thematically, with Sai's personality and skillset. Sai's been shown to, well, be incredibly surgical with his abilities; his Diamond Mind and Iron Heart has given him incredible focus and willpower, and it shows - from his final showdown with Him, to his spar with Youmu, to the war sequence with Yuyuko, none of his spells have seemed to be of the 'army-killing' type. Furthermore, Prismatic Deluge seems like it'd have huge collateral damage in the 'Soak, and considering Sai's stance on power - that people should never have too much, that it must be tightly controlled by its wielders - Prismatic Deluge seems to be a spell more fitting than Him than for Sai.

On the other hand, Prismatic Blade is heavily controlled - considering it's possibly the only Prismatic spell one gets to control which color to hit with - and it would also be the culmination of Sai's battle prowess. Unlike Him, Sai focused his body as well as his mind. When he fights, it's cool, calculated, an awe-inspiring mixture of sword arts and magic. What better way to combine the two than to make his first 9th level spell a representation of both halves of him? The scintillating power of the seven colors of magic, for once tightly leashed, controlled, ready to cut someone in half, then in quarters, and then set the pieces on fire, when there is no other option, when words and negotiations have failed, when something, or someone just needs to die?

So, here is my question: Balistafreak, if Prismatic Blade is an acceptable option for you - considering it's a 3rd party spell for Pathfinder - would you allow Sai to change the form of the Prismatic Blade to combine it with his Iron Heart and Diamond Mind maneuvers? It would also let him use his bracer as an actual shield, to boot.

(My apologies to anyone annoyed with the huge walls of text above. I figured that explanations of the spells might help those of us who aren't well versed in D&D mechanics.)
>>164071 I forgot to mention. While Prismatic Ray is a level 5 spell in regular 3.5 D&D (From Spell Compendium, listed here for those who don't have access http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=dnd/ex/20051202a&page=3), the Prismatic Ray I was mentioning above comes from 3rd Party Pathfinder (http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=dnd/ex/20051202a&page=3). Sorry for any confusion this might have caused.
Thanks for the nice description, Prismatic Blade certainly seemed a perfect fit when I first saw it, given his use of swords and spells that focus on precision and determination. It also has a lot of utility... sort of.

Sorry, I was just listing off toys in the hope that a more clever anon could find better uses or combinations. I should have checked for schools and costs but imagination took over.
I was thinking of the 9 level prismatic orb, but if you want to inflict all the effects of the prismatic sphere on someone, then get a fucking prismatic sphere and go melee.

[x] Prismatic Sphere

Boring? Yes. Useful? Yes yes. We can't go all innovative if we don't have the basics. Also, disjunction where? I bet some of the big names have permanent spells on them they don't even remember.
The only problem with Prismatic Sphere is that it's immobile, and you only get protection while you are standing inside it.
While i am willing to go and ..
[x] Prismatic blade (with edits mentioned in >>164071)
...It technically breaks the screwing with planes rule due to the violet effect(target changes planes).

The ray of ending also sounds good but the only things worth using it on are the tainted tree and Yukari. The former is not our problem anymore, the latter will just make the fort save and then border-hax to rez herself due to plot-armor(though it would be interesting to see how it interacts with the hourai elixir, that's OOC and irrelevant).
I hardly understand a lick of this but it sounds cool as fuck.

[x] Prismatic Blade
[X] Something prismatic themed

Due to Kogasa'a influence. I don't know enough about DnD mechanics to make a good call here.

So, questions... what were Renko and Maribel doing in the border. That was never really explained. Also, what the hell just happened to us, exactly? Did we merge with Kogasa? Why did she come back to life? Is she our shikigami now? I'm very confused.
Well put. Can we vote for a spell that doesn't exist? Neverwinter nights' prismatic orb was an epic level spell that provoked, on the caster, all the effects of prismatic sphere, one after the other, each one requiring a new save/SR throw.
Hokay, starting from the top. Or the bottom, rather, since the former analogy refers to a pile of things to do.


>So, questions... what were Renko and Maribel doing in the border. That was never really explained.

They were on one of their expeditions (like that to Green Trojan Asteroid) when Yukari for some reason or the other became interested/angered/paranoid about what they were doing, and proceeded to gap them into the Border, same as Sai.

Unfortunately for her, Mary was able to keep herself and Renko from going insane, and essentially made a safe haven - a haven that Sai eventually stumbled upon.

>Also, what the hell just happened to us, exactly? Did we merge with Kogasa? Why did she come back to life? Is she our shikigami now? I'm very confused.

In character, Sai isn't quite sure. Next update is supposed to have Kogasa relating the events in more detail, but I'll feed you a tidbit now.

disintegration and subsequent reintegration, it now serves Sai as Youki would have actually wanted, making up part of Sai's existence.

Kogasa, as a karakasa, is actually an intelligent being. Her remains from the Battle of Hakugyokurou were interred with the hope of one day being able to restore her - and Sai's arrival provided the means. When Sai was mortally wounded in front of her, she blindly attempted to keep Sai intact by taking him into her physical form.

But like gravity in relation to heavenly bodies, large objects have more pull than small ones, and Sai's mind, as described by Mary, is unyielding. The tables reversed on that exchange, and it was Kogasa who was ultimately drawn into Sai. Like adding layers to a pinata, Sai was able to repair his consciousness to a functional level around Kogasa's sacrifice.

That's right. You now have a karakasa item familiar.


Prismatic sphere is a perfectly valid choice of spell.


Ho boy, I feel like a DM again.

I don't mind walls. In fact, walls are good, because they add a lot of content with few posts. Gotta pad that thread size.

I clearly need to improve my google-fu, because I didn't find the links to said prismatic blade in Pathfinder the first time. I'll admit that I did find it a cool concept (and it's really very basic: hit people, roll for prismatic effect) but I don't want to ever endorse D&D wiki. Ever.

Prismatic deluge being a huge AoE is both its greatest advantage and largest flaw, yes. Prismatic blade's idea of being able to apply prismatic effects by hitting people does fit Sai quite well.

I don't think that picking your desired effects was ever intended. "Hit by one effect from the prismatic spray table" is the same language I'm sure that other prismatic effects have, and the hilarious randomness of the many colors of the rainbow is a defining trait of prismatic spells.

The violet effect of "sent to another dimension" can be reinterpreted as "purple represents a rift into nothingness a la sphere of ultimate destruction", and cause disintegration-esque effects when it triggers.

As for the "lol a scimitar" problem, I understand completely. In fact, recall his first sparring match with Youmu. He used a polearm yet fought with all schools of maneuvers unimpeded. Weapon-type isn't an issue at all.

prismatic umbrella.

>It would also let him use his bracer as an actual shield, to boot.


Sai's bracer/corresponding part of his soul is now part of Youmu's phylactery/vessel/blade. He does not possess it in any usable form any longer.

However, as cool as prismatic blade seems, prismatic ray (Pathfinder edition: http://www.d20pfsrd.com/magic/3rd-party-spells/bastion-press/prismatic-ray) has far more alpha-striking potential, landing all seven effects upon a successful hit. It's the difference between hitting someone with a rainbow and shooting one at them. Either/or. Both are viable.

I'll put up the formal spell-choice vote alongside the next update and plot-based vote. Feel free to drive this thread into autosage with further neckbearding.
Is it me or Sai's been splattering his soul/mind/body pretty much everywhere?
Oh, and I'd rather take the blade, since he's already a sword-and-spell fighter and the idea whacking people over the head with a rainbow is great.
Doubly so if it's whacking people over the head with a rainbow umbrella.
Writefag is default DM.

karakasa item familiar!
[x] Which ever spell gets me a prismatic umbrella.
Kogasa would approve.
[x] Which ever spell gets me a prismatic umbrella. (I.e. Prismatic Blade.)
Change this for:

[x]prismatic ray

Or better yet, I'll vote after the update, like the author said. Geez.
>karakasa item familiar
Then Youmu gets dropped, and her soul traces the bond through the bracer back to Sai. Then he gets to wield a bracer item familiar, a karakasa item familiar and a... whatever the heck Youmu counts as.

Sai's soul is like the village bike; everyone gets a ride.
[x] Which ever spell gets me a prismatic umbrella. (I.e. Prismatic Blade.)
[x]Prismatic Umbrella-Blade-Thing

Also we NEED to wear some big ol' geta in honor of our umbrella's sacrifices, both purposeful and accidental.
New thread: >>164210

Feel free to ask me anything here in sage if you want, but please don't bump this further. New thread started before autosage because I hate that feeling when votes and discussion tip the thread over in the middle of it all. Also because I'm a complete attention-whore when it comes to this story.

Thread Watcher x