That's what everybody gets when the writefag forgets to proofread his work.
There's been a lot of different votes, so I just wrote the questions that would make the plot advance with ease. This means I probably left a question or two unanswered, but nothing critical.
"You haven't answered my question," you say sternly, unwilling to let the chance slip away.
"Hm?" Meira looks at you like she doesn't know what are you talking about.
"Don't play coy with me. I asked you what where you doing up there in the tree."
"Were you listening? So I wouldn't get shot by any youkai or fairy," she answers as if it was the most obvious thing in the world.
"And why were you about to jump on me?" you press on.
"I wasn't. I just lost my balance, that's all," Meira holds your piercing gaze with a calm and collected demeanor.
But you aren't going to buy such a blatant lie that easily, no matter how good of an actress she is.
"Do you really expect me to believe that?"
"Have you ever tried standing up at the top of a tree with a hurricane blowing on your face? It's so fun and exciting!" mocks Meira, with all the sarcasm she could muster. "I bet my bag of gold that you wouldn't last half a second."
Nevermind that said bag is currently on your possession. She's trying to evade the question again. Unless you change your approach, you could keep going around in circles for who knows how long. "She won't tell the truth unless you have some evidence,"
So it seems, but how are you going to prove she tried to jump on you intentionally and with treachery? "By any chance, there wasn't a tengu nearby taking photos, right?"
"I'm not in the mood for jokes right now," you sigh, exasperated.
"Dullness ever loves a joke," Meira rolls her eyes.
Dammit, that was meant for Rin, not her! You weren't supposed to say that outloud!
"You shouldn't be cracking jokes up when your life's in someone else's hands, just saying," you try to cover your mistake with an implied threat.
"My life's miserable enough as it is," shrugs the woman. "At least let me get a few kicks outta it, will ya?"
This is going nowhere, you realize. You feel compelled to slap her face and get things straight, but you can't bring yourself to hurt a woman like that, even if she's trying your patience. You've been taught better than that. Instead, you decide to change the topic:
"And what brings your 'miserable' self to this forest full of youkai?"
"I could ask you the same," Meira retorts. "What's a kid with handcuffs doing here?"
"Do you really understand the situation you've gotten yourself into?" you point at the roots on her hands and feet. It's about time you get serious. "You don't get to ask questions."
"The one asking questions usually explains his situation first, to start the conversation, you know? Social etiquette and stuff?"
"Oh, I'm sorry I'm such a rude person," you stand up and dust your clothes off with verve, as if you were genuinely offended. "I guess this is all I will get from you."
Meira's eyes open in surprise when you begin to walk towards the entrance of the tree, taking your bag and her things with you.
"Wait, where do you think you're going!?"
"You don't seem to like my company, and I'm in kind of a hurry, so I'm leaving," you turn your back to her. "But don't worry, I'm sure some youkai will prove to be a better chat partner than me."
"Hold it!" she screams alarmed. "At least leave my things here!"
"Why? It's not like you can use them in your current state. They'll be far more useful for me."
"Alright, alright, I'll talk!" the woman grunts and slumps down her shoulders in defeat. "Just don't leave me here!"
You grin, rejoycing in your small victory for a second, before you sit down in front of Meira. So she does
care a little about her own life, after all.
"Are you going to answer to all my questions?"
"I won't tell you my age, if you're wondering," she replies, returning to her sardonic tone.
"... Why would I want to know that?"
"Dunno. It just came to me, that you must be aiming for the BMB award of this year, and since that's one of the rudest question you could ever ask to a woman..."
"Bad-Mannered Bastard award," Meira shoots you a venomous glare. Even after threatening her to leave her to the youkai's mercy, she's still brave or stupid enough to insult you. "Wow, you humans have competitions for that?"
Rin's question pops in unannounced. Not only it breaks your concentration, what's worse is that you can't tell if she's only joking or she's actually serious.
You decide it'd be best to completely ignore Meira's taunts and Rin's absurd questions for now, and keep interrogating your prisoner. You're really going to lose it if you keep getting sidetracked.
"You said you were doing an errand when you found me. What was it?"
"Huh, so now you're interested in my affairs?"
"Just trying to start a conversation, you know. Social etiquette and stuff."
"Fine, fine, if you really want to know..." sighs the swordswoman. "I'm looking for a particular youkai around this area, to hunt it down for good."
"For what reason?"
"Because a friend of mine asked me to."
"And who is that friend?"
"No one of consequence," Meira answers bluntly.
"Tell me, or I'll leave you for real this time."
"Get used to disappointments, kid. That's private information."
It must be very important for her to keep hiding his or her identity even after being threatened. This only serves to arise your suspicions that this friend of hers might be Reimu, and consequently, that the youkai in particular is you.
"Alright, who's the youkai you have to hunt, then?" you change the subject while Meira's still somewhat cooperative. "What did it do to deserve being killed?"
"If you ask me, many a youkai deserve being exterminated for what they do to us humans, but this one..." Meira's expression turns gloomy. "This one feeds on youkai as well."
"Feed on youkai? Isn't that cannibalism?" "There are many different species of youkai, so I don't think it can be considered 'cannibalism',"
comments Rin. "Fights between youkai are usual as far as I know, but a youkai eating another...?"
"No, not in that sense," Meira shakes her head. "This youkai sucks its victim's life force."
"Life force... like a magic-sucking vampire?"
"No, it's more like..." the woman is struggling to search for the right words. "...like it takes its motivation away."
"Its motivation?" you find the mental image hard to picture.
"I've seen what that beast can do, and lemme tell you, it's no joke. Humans, youkai and fairies affected by it first start to feel demotivated. They lose the will to do things, then they become less and less active, not wanting to do anything that takes effort..."
"That seems like a bad case of laziness to me," you say.
"... and when the minds and wills have fallen into lethargy, the bodies start to fail," continues Meira. "People infected by its taint eat anything, they cannot move their legs or arms even when they try, some people are already beginning to have difficulties to breathe. If this keeps up at this rate..."
Meira grimaces, worry clearly showing in her face. A part of your mind tells you that she's probably putting an act, and this is just a convoluted lie to save her skin. But there's something in Meira's expression that makes you think she's telling the truth. "If what she says is true, it'd explain why haven't we encountered any youkai or fairy in the forest yet,"
It makes sense. You duly note this information; chances are you will probably come across this youkai on your way to the Kappa Village.
"What does this youkai look like?" you ask Meira.
"I don't know," she slumps her shoulders down, dispirited. "I've been tracking it for two days, but I haven't seen it yet."
"I see... Where has it attacked? How big is its territory?"
"It lives somewhere on the Untrodden Valley, but there's been reports of attacks on the Giant Toad's Pond. And some people at the Kappa Village have fallen ill as well..."
The fact that Meira knows about the Kappa Village doesn't escape you. You definitely want to ask her its exact location, but first things first: you need to know more about this dangerous youkai in order to avoid problems. You ask Rin if she knows of any youkai that fits this pattern. "Nothing comes to mind right now, sorry,"
Then you must keep asking Meira for more information.
"What kind of trail does it leave? Because it must leave a trail at the very least, right?"
"Wait, don't tell me you are going after it as well," Meira exclaims.
"No, it's just so that I can stay clear of its way."
"Oh," You believe she sounded dissapointed for a second, but then she returns to her serious voice. "Then you should just turn back and get the hell out of this forest. This is not a place for kids, especially with such a dangerous beast going wild."
"I can't go back. There's something I need to do up there," you explain, trying to give away as less information as you can.
"Now what kind of business would a boy like you have at the Youkai Mountains, I wonder..." Meira glares at you.
"Just tell me what I need to know. I can handle myself," you cut her short.
"I seriously doubt that, but well, I can't stop you," she shrugs. "The only clue I have is that all the reports have a curious coincidence..."
"Everytime a thunderstorm strikes somewhere, the youkai appears shortly after."
"A thunderstorm? But it isn't the stormy season yet..."
"Yes, that's why it's so strange! There's no way the youkai and the storms aren't related. I bet it's the one causing them in t-"
And as if in cue, you hear the rowdy roar of thunder over your heads, and the clatter of rain pouring over the leaves of the trees. Since both of you are under the tree, you don't get soaked, but that's the very least of your concerns at the very moment.
"Well shit," curses Meira. "If only I knew speaking ill of it would work so well. Kid, cut me free. I have a score to settle with that beast."
"What? Why would I do that?"
"Do you want to die so bad!" This is no time to argue! Just gimme my sword and run away!"
You look at Meira in panic, then at the hole of the tree leading outside, then at the sword lying at your side. You aren't sure if you should trust Meira yet; for all you know, she might stab you the very moment you free her. But if that youkai is really as dangerous as she claims, then you need to trust her, whether you decide to run away and leave Meira alone against the beast, or aid her in battle...
A piercing howl rings at the distance, and it sends a shiver down your spine. The beast is coming. You don't have much time left. Free Meira. She'll provide an invaluable help against the youkai.
-And help her fight the youkai.
--With your magic.
--With Meira's short sword.
-Stay hidden, but watch the fight closely.
-Leave her behind. This has nothing to do with me.
Leave Meira tied up. I don't trust her enough to untie her, much less to give her a weapon.
-Stand your ground and fight the youkai alone.
--With your magic.
--With Meira's katana.
--With Meira's shortsword.
--With both swords at the same time.
-Hide somewhere nearby. I need to know what does that youkai look like.
-Run for your life!
Just a word: if you decide to free Meira, you won't be able to use her katana, for that'll be her weapon of choice. Unless you explicitly say in a write-in that you want to free her, but leave her unarmed or something.
Also, if you come up with a special tactic or approach to face the youkai, you're encouraged to explain it in detail along with your vote. I'll be sure to make your effort and originality count, as long as it isn't something completely idiotic or out of your possibilities.