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163303 No. 163303
Inspired on the idea from >>/gensokyo/10484
I had a general gist of an idea about pitting you, the readers, against the whole population of Gensokyo. Even I don't know how this will turn out... but let's see how far your cunning take us in this crusade.

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

"Dammit, where'd that brat go?"

"Are you sure he went to this alleyway?"

"Yes! I saw the book he was carrying! There's no doubt!"

"But this is a dead end, there's no way he could've vanished!"

"Keep searching!" shouted the captain. "He must be here, hiding from us. Inspect every nook in this alley. I'll be heading to the town gates."

From your hideout, you can hear the two guards shouting "Yessir", and the metallic sound of the captain's footsteps heading away. You squeeze your body in your cramped place even more when you notice the two guards are closing on your position, as they perform their search for you on the pile of barrels piled in the corner of the alleyway. Clutching the big green book tight between your chest and your arms, you begin to tremble in fear. It won't be long before they find you, and once they do, it'll be the end.

"I sense your panic. Are you alright?"

A female voice that only you can hear speaks to you, clean, pure and soothing. You always find it pleasant to listen to, but right now you're a little too scared to enjoy it. Your heartbeat throbs between your ribcage fast and strongly; you could swear the two guards can hear it.

"They're going to find me, they're going to find me," you whisper, trying to not let your voice up and give away your hideout.

"So you're between the sword and the wall, huh? Is there something you can do to lure them away?"

You feel the urge to correct the voice and tell her that the proper construction of that saying is 'having your back on the wall', but your current situation and your own panicked state don't allow you to do so.

"I-i-i don't know, they're gonna find me, they're gonna-!"

"Calm down! Search for a peeble, a stick, a shard of glass, something, and throw it away. That should do the trick."

You breath in and out, trying to get a hold of yourself, and take a look at the limited area just in front of you. You spot an empty bottle of wine laying on the ground, but it's out of reach, and trying to get it will put you in plain sight.

"There's a bottle over there, but I can't get it without those two seeing me."

"Then wait until they become distracted."

"But what if they don't?"

"They will, trust me. I'll give you the signal when they do, and you go and grab that glass."

You mentally nod, but you still harbor some doubts. You didn't share the voice's confidence in the guards' incompetence, and even if they did turn their attention away, you didn't think you'd be able to reach the bottle without making any noise, given how clumsy you were.

"You'll be alright!" the voice noticed your inner thoughts. "I'm sure you can do it. Believe in yourself, you will get out of this."

Finding its words reassuring, you feel confident enough to at least take a quick peek from your hiding place. You can see the two guards pricking at the pile of barrels with their spears, trying to get you out by stabbing you, or at least give your position away when you yelp in pain. Fortunately, they're still several steps away from you, but it's still too close for comfort.

"Hey, man," one guard calls to his companion. "Do you really believe in what that miko said?"

"Hm?"

"I mean, I've known the kid for a long time. He's friends with my daughter, and he isn't the kind of person who'd do such a bad thing. Hell, he couldn't even hurt a fly even if he tried!"

"But then why would he run away from us? Besides, he did have that book with him. You said it yourself."

"I bet he was scared shitless when he saw our whole batallion knocking his door down like that."

"Still, it's the Hakurei's instructions. We have to obey that girl, no matter how strange her biddings are."

"I know, I know, but giving us orders to kill him if he resisted... that's a bit excessive, in my opinion."

You shiver when you hear that. Up until now you thought they were just going to aprehend you, but killing you? You feel the panic building up again in your mind.

"Everything will be alright. Do as I say and you'll get out of this alive. Keep waiting for a little longer.

The voice manages to calm you down a bit, but you still feel anxious. You return to the guards' bickering.

"Do you think he's really hiding?" asked the first guard. "There are not many places here to take cover here."

"Maybe he's using the book's power to conceal himself."

"What, do you really believe in that mystical crap she told us?"

"Look, if that brat is as harmless as you say he is, then why does the miko want him? It clearly must be because of that book. And everybody knows that if the Hakurei are involved, it's something serious."

"So you think it's true that the books is haunted by an evil spirit, and that it might've possessed him?"

"Hey, I'm not an 'evil spirit'! Show some respect, you stupid illiterate hicks!"

You hush the voice to shut up, even if you know only you can hear her rant.

"I'm not sure, but if he is, the miko will exorcise it when we get him," continued the second guard.

"But then why would she tell us to kill him? It makes no sense!"

"Just shut up and do your job. What the Hakurei does or stops to do is none of our concern."

"You may say that, but I'm not killing a friend of my daughter."

"Do you want us to get in trouble? You can't disobey the Hakurei like this!"

"He's only a kid, for God's sake! I don't care what the miko says; I won't murder a person I know in cold blood!"

The two guards continued to argue between themselves, raising their voices each time the other spoke more loudly.

"Now's your chance! Go!"

You don't waste any time. Leaving the big green grimoire on the floor, you quickly crawl towards the the bottle, grab it, and return to your hideout. Your heart is racing, and you feel like it's going to jump out your throat, but the two guards apparently didn't notice you.

"Good job! See? You did it just fine!"

You mentally thank the voice for its words of encouragement. Now, with the glass firmly grasped between your hands, you begin to search for the best spot to throw the bottle. It doesn't take you more than a couple of seconds to realize than the only place to do that is over the dead end wall. Your position is a bit uncomfortable to throw things while remaining concealed, but nevertheless you manage to fling the bottle over the obstacle. The glass crashes in the floor at the other side and shatters, making a loud noise. The two guards suddenly stop fighting and look to that way.

"Did you hear that?" said the second guard.

"Yeah."

"It might be him. He must've vaulted over the wall."

"Probably. What do we do now?"

"Help me get up, then you go around and cut his escape way."

The two guards walk towards the end of the alleyway, passing just mere inches besides you. You hold your breath until they reach the wall. Luckily, they haven't spotted you. You deem this moment your chance to slip away unnoticed, and so, picking the book up and trying to be as silent as possible, you sneak behind them while the second guards steps on the first's shoulders.

You almost couldn't believe it yourself! You actually managed to escape detention, even if all seemed lost!

"Not yet," reminded the voice. "We're not safe until we get out of the village."

It was right. The guards are searching for you all over the town. Escaping will prove to be extremely difficult. But even if you manage, what could you possibly do outside at night? Everybody knows how dangerous the forest is when the sun falls, with all the feral youkai going around.

"True," concedes the voice. "You can't go unprepared into the night. Do you know of a place where you can stock yourself?"

The first location that comes to mind is your own home, only a few blocks away. However, the path to go there is probably filled with guards scouting the area, and most probably they'll be waiting in there too.

"You could go to a friend's house, or maybe go to a shop and 'borrow' some provisions."

You didn't like the sound of any of those ideas. Asking one of your friends for help felt wrong, since you'd be putting them in danger, and if you manage to escape the town, you wouldn't be able to return the favour. And stealing from a shop was just plain wrong. Your parents taught you better than that.

"Neccessity spurs, this is a life or death situation. This is no time to be a fussy moral saint."

As much as you hated it, you have to give the voice a point. You won't get out of here alive if you follow the rules of society imposed on you. The same society that is currently hunting you down, you bitterly think. You still have to choose where to head and prepare for the great escape.

[]Go back home.
[]Try luck in any of your friend's house.
[]Search for a store and stealborrow provisions.


>> No. 163306
>[]Go back home.

If this town watch has any sense of security, they'd have left some sort of watch over your home.

>[]Try luck in any of your friend's house.

Your friends might be sympathetic, but they'll also instantly recognize you. This could be problematic - and if they do help you, it'll incriminate them.

>[]Search for a store and steal borrow provisions.

Only half-reasonable choice. The shopkeepers and customers might recognize you, they might not. You can get in and get out, no problem.

That, and if you can access the store's stockrooms somehow, as opposed to the goods on display and underneath scrutiny, you can have a far easier time of making off with the goods.

[X]Search for a store and steal borrow provisions.

Gettin' the Huckleberry Finn vibe from this vote, heh.
>> No. 163307
[X]Search for a store and [strikethrough]steal[/strikethrough] borrow provisions.

Best choice in a bad situation.
>> No. 163309
>>163307

Derp. Screwed up the strikethrough command, and now can't delete to post to correct it. Oh well.
>> No. 163310
[x]Steal from the stores.

This looks promising.
>> No. 163311
Have we any money on us? We should be aware of what's in our pockets, after all. If we do, why not
[X]Search for a store and leave some money on the counter as payment for provisions.
>> No. 163312
[x]Steal
>>163306 sums up my reasoning.

Are write-ins allowed, writefag?
>> No. 163318
[]Search for a store and stealborrow provisions.

On the run since the beginning and the miko wants our head, cool.
>> No. 163323
[X]Search for a store and 'borrow' provisions

This is for the greater good. And by that, I mean the greater good of us and the voice in the book.
>> No. 163329
[x] Try luck in any of your friend's house.

Remember the buddy system!
>> No. 163333
[X]Search for a store and 'borrow' provisions
>> No. 163337
[X]Search for a store and 'borrow' provisions

Mima?
>> No. 163350
File 135447652360.jpg - (1.45MB , 1890x1336 , ef23444cbbed35f05026f38526432984.jpg ) [iqdb]
163350
[X]Search for a store and steal borrow provisions.

"Yeah, you're right," you say. "I'm sure there will be guards in fron of my house, and I don't want to involve my friends in this. We'll go to a shop and take some things."

"Good. But be sure it's a shop you've never visited before. We don't want anybody to recognize you."

"Got it."

"Oh, and I don't think I need to remind you, but be on the watch for patrols."

It needn't be so condescending; after the chase you experimented just a few minutes ago, you've more than learned your lesson. You briefly remember the fact that they spotted you because of the huge flamboyant green bulk filled with unintelligible gibberish you carry, and realize that as long as you go around with the book at plain sight, you're practically painting a target on yourself.

"I'm going to ignore all those peyorative adjectives you just used to describe my current st- hey, hey, what do you think you're doing!?"

The voice starts complaining inside your mind when you put the book under your kimono and your arm, but you do your best to ignore it.

"Ugh, this is gross!"

"I can't help it after running for ten minutes straight! Do you have a better idea? They'll recognize us again the moment they spot you, you know that."

The voice sends you a disapproving thought, which you interpret as a resigned sigh in 'normal speech'. You still aren't used to this thing called 'telepathy', so you still feel the need to translate all the wordless and emotion-tainted messages from the voice into human speech and gestures.

"You'll get used to it," it says. "But the sooner you learn to speak with your mind without resorting to vocalizing, the better. It's a valuable ability. Now, let's find a shop before my pages get soaked in your sweat."

You oblige and make your way through the avenue, being as inconspicuous as possible, moving aside from the crowd to avoid being recognized, but still trying not to arise suspicion. It's strange; you used to play and run down in these streets, with nothing to worry about, when you were a little kid. And now you're sneaking your way through like a criminal. Will you ever be able to walk around the town again without looking behind your back every three seconds?

You expected the voice to tell you comforting words, or to mention another strange idiom about the hardships the man has to endure, or even to say that everything will go back to normal - even if it was a blatant white lie. But not a single thought is sent to you, and you are sure it could hear your inner laments. And that worried you more than false words of comfort.

You eventually reach a store in the middle of the avenue, with a sign over the door that read 'Kirisame Second-hand Shop'. The shop isn't very big, and the building seems quite old, even for the village's standards. However, it's one of the most famous emporiums in the town, to the point where even you, who lives -or used to live, you remind yourself- at the other side, heard about it. You've never visited it though, so you're sure the shopkeeper won't recognize you.

You look both sides to ensure there's nobody watching you, and you enter the shop. A bell placed above rings when the door opens, and you're greeted by a man in his forties with gray hair, wearing an apron over a striped green kimono.

"Welcome to the Kirisame Second-hand Shop, how can I help you?" he says in a formal, business-like tone; a line he surely has repeated countless time in his life.

"I'm searching for a few things, can I look around a little bit?" you respond.

"Sure, take your time. Call me if you need me."

The old man returns to the newspaper he was reading before you entered, and you begin browsing the shelfs in the store. You wonder how the hell are you going to smuggle anything out of the shop without being caught, but first you have to figure out what you need to take. Since this is a second-hand store, there's a myriad of different items organized in a strange fashion you aren't capable of understanding. Is it by colour, shape, price, utility...? Whatever, the thing is you don't even know where to begin.

"The smost essential item an adventure must have before setting out is a bag to keep other obejcts in, like a book susceptible of deteriorating in contact with smelly liquids," advises the voice.

Ignoring its berating tone, you walk to the other side of the shop, where all the bags, purses and sacks are heaped in a box. You dig your hands in the pile and bring out several packs, trying them until you find one big and comfortable for you. Content with your choice, you bring the book out of your armpit and introduce it in your soon-to-be 'acquired' bag.

"Well, is this good enough for you, your Highness?" you whisper sardonically.

"Hmhm, better than under your arm, that's for sure. Yes, I think this is spacious enough for me and other things. Good choice."

"Okay, what's next?"

"Let me think... a cape. Yeah, a cape, made of resistant fabric to endure rain, mud, and rips," tells the voice. "It must protect your from weather and conserve heat, since you'll be using it as a blanket out there. If it has a hood and pockets, the better. A hooded cape will help you conceal your face when you need it, and I can't count how many lifes have been saved thanks to having a small weapon under your sleeve."

"You seem to have a liking for capes, don't you?"

"I'm being serious! It's the third most useful thing an adventurer can bring for his travels! And it makes you look cool, too."

"For curiosity, if the first thing was a bag, and the third is a cape, what's the second?" you ask, as you begin searching.

"A towel, of course."

"... Are you still being serious?"

"Of course not, you silly kid!"

You let out an exasperated sigh. Several centuries of being trapped in a book must have taken its toll on the voice's mind, you think to yourself, but you suddenly remember the voice can hear your thoughts. Luckily, it seems it didn't care about that, or it just simply chose to ignore you.

You return to your browsing, until you find a cape that almost completely suits the voice's description. It's a brown cape made of strong linen threads, ragged in the bottom, and it has a hood big enough to cover your head. You put it over your shoulders, and you can feel warmth storing between the fabric and your body. It does lack pockets, and it seems to have seen better days, but despite that, it's the cape that caters all your adventuring needs.

"Got the cape, now what?" you ask the voice.

"Let's see... a rope... a map and a compass... a water gourd... something to light a fire, too, that's crucial... also a knife and a source of light, like a lamp or a torch." it lists

"That's a lot of things. I don't think I can take them all without being noticed," you whisper, eyeing the old man who is still reading the newspaper.

"Except the knife, the gourd and possibly the lamp, you can put all of it in your bag."

"I can't do that, not while the shopkeeper's here."

"Then you'll have to distract him somehow and do it while he isn't looking. You graduated in diversions just five minutes ago; you'll come up with something."

"It's much easier said than done, you know."

"Believe in yourself, my boy!"

You sarcastically thank the voice and proceed to spot everything on the list. When you found all the items, you encountered a little problem: you don't have anything to hang the knife, the gourd and the lamp on, so you can only carry them in your hands. And since you want to have at least one free, you are forced to pick one of the three.

[]Take the lamp.
[]Take the knife.
[]Take the gourd.


Also, before you proceed to put the rope, map, compass and matches in your bag, you need to do something about the shopkeeper...

[]Silently introduce the items while he's reading.
[]Knock him out cold.
{}... and put some change on the counter, for all the troubles caused.
[]'Test' the knife on him.
[]Lure him away by...
[]Asking for a thing in the storehouse, and exit from the front door.
[]Telling him that someone's at the door, and sneak from behind the counter.
[]Write-in
{}... and put some change on the counter, for all the troubles caused.
[]Disregard stealth, acquire items, run away like hell.


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

>>163312

If I want a proper write-in I'll ask for it among the options, like I just did above. However, I'll permit slight modifications on any of the options as long as you keep them sensible and logical.

That means joke modifications and write-ins are most likely to be ignored... or not, depends on my mood at that moment.
>> No. 163352
Apparently I can't put spaces to make sub-choices below the main options. Am I having a derp moment or is it really impossible? Oh well, if you have any doubts regarding the options, ask.
>> No. 163354
[x] Take the knife.

[x] Disregard stealth, acquire items, run away like hell.

Whitespace is whitespace, which is why you'll see dashes used to indent sub-options.
>> No. 163355
[x] Lure him away by...
- [x] Asking for a thing in the storehouse, and exit from the front door.

[x] Take the gourd.

Lamps and knives unlock amazing instadeath options like [ ] Stab Unzan. and [ ] Night has fallen. What a great opportunity for exploring Muenzuka!”.
>> No. 163360
[x] Lure him away by...
- [x] Asking for a thing in the storehouse, and exit from the front door.

[x] Take the knife.

Well, a knife is also a weapon, while a lamp would be extremely useful, we can substitute with magic or something.
>> No. 163364
[ ]Take the knife.

Knife? Always take the knife. Saved my ass in the woods before.

As for how to get out:
[ ]Knock him out cold.
-[ ]... and put some change on the counter, for all the troubles caused.

I doubt the others will give us enough time to get out with out an alarm being raised and leaving some change fits with MC's personality.
>> No. 163366
[x] Lure him away by...
- [x] Asking for a thing in the storehouse, and exit from the front door.
[x] Take the knife

Knives sound useful for a weapon in case we ever need it.
>> No. 163367
[X]Take the knife.
[]Lure him away by...
- []Asking for a thing in the storehouse, and exit from the front door.

Violence would probably reward us with a very angry Marisa on our tail, so let's keep this a low-profile incident.
>> No. 163370
[X]Take the gourd.
[X]Telling him that someone's at the door, and sneak from behind the counter.
-{X}... and put some change on the counter, for all the troubles caused.
[X} If possible leave a note explaining that this is an act of desperation, but we have every intention of paying him back.

If we just try to run off he's going to raise hell and get the guards to come running, and that greatly reduces our chances of getting into the forest.
As why I chose the gourd, a sources of water is a vital part of any wilderness survival gear, and if it comes down to it a rock will suffice where a knife may fail. For example we may attempt to make a stone knife if we have need of a cutting tool, and a rock has far more uses than a knife. It can be a projectile, a blunt force weapon, or a distraction when attempting to sneak.
>> No. 163372
Silly voice, towels are only important for hitchhikers.

[X]Take the gourd.
-[X] Tuck a small knife into your boot.

If we can't do the above, then just [X] knife.

[X] Distract him by asking for something on the storehouse, before...
-[X]...knocking him out cold while his back is turned...
-{X}...and put some change on the counter, for all the troubles caused.
>> No. 163373
[x] Take the Gourd

As tempting as the knife is, I can't see it being too effective against Youkai, primarily a hungry Rumia, and I don't think the MC wants to kill any humans this early, at least with the gourd we can (hopefully) gain some distance in a timely manner. We can always stealborrow a weapon at a later date.

[x]Lure him away by...
-[x]Asking for a thing in the storehouse, and exit from the front door.
--[x]... and put some change on the counter, for all the troubles caused.

Seems like our best bet, we don't know what the guy has under the counter. It seems pretty risky to try and knock him out.
>> No. 163381
>>163366
here.

For water, changing my vote to

[x] Take the gourd
[x] Lure him away by...
- [x] Asking for a thing in the storehouse, and exit from the front door
- [x]... and put some change on the counter, for all the troubles caused.
>> No. 163385
[x] Take the gourd
[x] Lure him away by...
- [x] Asking for a thing in the storehouse, and exit from the front door
- [x]... and put some change on the counter, for all the troubles caused.

Water is vital for survival in the wild.
>> No. 163387
As for 13:30 PM (in GMC +1 timezone Stuped timezones, y u no be less confusing!) this is the vote recount, since there's been several different votes and even a change of mind in between.

Knife: 5
Gourd: 5
Lamp: Flopping 0


>>163372

No can do, the knife is too big to fit in the boot and still be comfortable to walk and run. I should've described the three items in more detail. My fault.

No stealth: 1
Front door: 6
Behind counter: 1
Knock out: 2


I'll count the vote from >>163372 as one for the KO option, since I believe it's a given the MC can't hit him while he's at the counter, so he's forced to call him.

Also, >>163370 , we don't have much time to take the trouble to write an apology note, since we're still on the run. Besides, it's very probable that you won't be coming back ... or maybe you could, in a far future, if you play your cards right.

Leave change: 6
Don't leave change: 3


Well aren't you the benevolent souls? Or is it just guilt for doing a bad thing? If it's the second, tighten up your pants because things are going downhill soon, and you'll have to make even more difficult decisions... *insert evil laugh here*

Anyway, I'll close the votes at 18:00 PM. If there's still a draw in any category, I'll have to choose one myself.

By the way, I'm reading some coments about "leaving change because it fits MC's personality". I wanted to clarify, MC's personality will develop according to the choices you make, so don't worry too much about trying to stay in character or something like that. After all, you are building this character along the way.

PD: I'm glad >>163372 got the towel reference! But who knows, maybe we will hitch a ride at some point in this adventure, and we'll wish to have a towel with us...
>> No. 163388
[x] Take the gourd
[x] Lure him away by...
- [x] Asking for a thing in the storehouse, and exit from the front door
- [x]... and put some change on the counter, for all the troubles caused.

Water is vital. Don't run away with the entirety of Gensokyo chasing you without it!
>> No. 163390
Votes closed. >>163388 vote was the tie breaker here. According to the recount, these will be the actions taken:

[x]Take the gourd.
[x]Lure the shopkeeper away by...
-[x]Asking for a thing in the storehouse, and exit from the front door
--[x]...and put some change on the counter, for all the troubles caused.


Now please wait warmly, writefag is updating...
>> No. 163394
>>163390
New reader here, this seems like it will be fun.
Keep up the good work.
>> No. 163435
File 135463553342.jpg - (221.45KB , 775x500 , 493d77cc2d594dce5ea6b60a0cd8eeee.jpg ) [iqdb]
163435
You had a hard time choosing between the knife and the gourd, but you finally decide to take the calabash. The gourd in question is just the greenish shell of said fruit with a cap attached to it, but the calabach shell has been used for a long time thanks to its toughness, lightness and for being a thermal insulator. Although a knife has many useful applications, you can't survive for long out there without a source of water, and in case you can't find any nearby, you'll be thankful that you have something to store water in.

"Did you know ancient Chinese medics used to carry medicines on this kind of gourd?" said the voice. "They call them hulu, the symbol of health, and they believed it absorbed negative qi. So even if you don't fill the gourd with anything, just having it near you will do good for your health! I bet you didn't know that, right?"

"Ehhh, nope, I didn't," you mutter.

"You'll never go to sleep without learning something new."

"Even if it's completely random and gratuitous learning?"

"Especially that."

"Well, I fail to see the usefulness of that piece of information."

"I'll let you know that, despite your incredulity, qi exists, and it has many useful applications in many situations," it explained. "Besides, it never hurts to learn more things."

"What about accidentaly learning about the existence of an entity trapped in an ancient book, and getting chased out from home for knowing too much?" You try to make it sound like a gallows joke, but you fail to avoid distilling some scorn in your words.

"Hey, look, I'm sorry I dragged you into this, alright?" the voice seems hurt by your accusation. "I promise you I'll make everything go back to normal somehow, but first we have to get out of here."

Yes, right, no time for arguments. Now that you picked your item of choice, it's time to distract the shopkeeper, smuggle the rest of the items in your mental list and get out of the shop unnoticed. But this time, simply throwing a bottle out of the store won't lure the old man away. You need to get him to leave this room for a longer period of time, and without arising suspicion. The easiest way to do that seems to demand something that is usually kept in the storehouse behind the shop, but what could you ask for?

And then it catches your attention. Lying in the upper shelf, there lies a small hexagonal box covered of phyton skin, with a long vertical stick attached to its top. Two pecks are attached at the other end of the stick, as well as a small loop of thread that holds a wooden bridge in place and tenses two strings. It vaguely reminds you of a miniature samisen, but you recall that the samisen had three strings instead of two, and the box had a different shape.

"That's not a samisen, it's an erhu."

"A what?"

"You don't know what an [i]erhu
is?" the voice seemed mildly shocked.

"Nope, first time I see this."

"I can't believe it..." it sighed. "In layman's terms, it's a fiddle from China. But don't describe it like that in front of a musician, lest you want your face slapped. It has a lot of history, and it's quite difficult to play, but in skillful hands, it produces the most beautiful notes you'll ever hear."

"I suppose you got to hear it before."

"Hear it?" the voice sends you an amused yet prideful thought that you describe as a 'chuckle to make yourself look like an interesting person'. "My boy, I played it! And I was quite good at that, if I say so myself. Even the Tenma herself was moved by my performances."

"Oh really? So you are one of those musicians that would slap me in the face if I call this thing a 'Chinese fiddle'?"

"Exactly. Too bad I don't have hands, because I'd definitely do it if I ever catch you saying that."

"Well then, I guess I'll have to thank the- waaaaaaait a second!" something about that the voice said was definitely strange. "You said you didn't remember a thing about yourself, but how come you recall being a musician now?"

"Eh?" the voice seems to have realized that just now, and it sounds genuinely surprised. "That's- I- by the gods..."

"Are you okay? It's something wrong? Answer me!"

"I'm fine, I'm fine, it's just..." the voice stops for a few seconds, searching for the right words. "When I saw your vision of the erhu it came to me naturally... like it was always there, waiting to be found and unraveled."

"Huh? I'm not sure I'm following you."

"Could you leave me alone for a few minutes? I need to... sort things out for a while."

"What? Hey, wait! Don't you just leave like that! Hello? Are you still there?"

Your inner shouts don't seem to reach anybody; you're on your own for now. You wonder what the heck was wrong with your incorporeal companion, suddenly remembering something about its past and ditching you so suddenly. But you have no time to dwell on that; you have more pressing matters at hand. Like how are you going to deal with the shopkeeper who, by the way, is now watching you with a strange look in his eyes. He must have noticed you talking to the voice, but since he can't hear it, you must've looked like you were speaking to yourself. Feeling a bit embarrased, you look back to the erhu in the shelf. Despite its weird behavior in the last part of the conversation, the voice did give you some interesting pieces of information about the instrument, facts that you can use right now.

You pick the Chinese fidd- the erhu up and approach the counter. The shopkeeper puts down his newspaper and stands up.

"Excuse me mister," you ask as politely as you can. "I'm interested in buying this."

You place the erhu at the top of the table, while the shopkeeper eyes the instrument with interest.

"Hmmm, good choice, good choice, a fine samisen, specially made for little kids and beginners. Built with the best materials, and only for the price of-"

"It looks alright, mister, but it just happens that this isn't a samisen."

"Say what?" the shopkeeper looks at you in slight bafflement.

"This is an erhu. A Chinese fiddle if you prefer," you explain when you see his expression of puzzlement at the foreign name. You'd better hope the voice didn't hear you say that. "Problem is, as you can see, it lacks a bow, which is quite important for playing a fiddle. I couldn't find it among the shelves, so I think you may be keeping it behind, in the storehouse."

"Sorry, sir, but if that... fiddle had a bow I would have included along with it."

"But I thought your shop had everything... That's what my friends told me," you lie. "Could you at least search for it? I'm sure you must have it somewhere!"

The shopkeeper keeps your stare with a stern expression. Did he buy your little acting? At the very least, he obviously didn't take kindly your boldness. The truth is you're also surprised at your own assertiveness.

"Alright, give me a few minutes," he finally says, standing up from his chair and walking to the door behind the counter.

"Take all the time you need, I'm not in a hurry."

Looks like the random trivia about the erhu wasn't so useless after all. When the old man dissapears behind the corner of the door, you make your move. Hasting to the shelves, you hurriedly introduce the rope, the box of matches, the map and the compass in your bag, all while giving quick peeks to make sure the dealer isn't coming back. Once you have everything in your backpack and the gourd in your left hand, you prepare to leave from the store...

... but something is keeping you back. You begin to feel remorse about stealing from this man, even if he didn't turn to be the friendliest merchant in the village. What you are about to do is just wrong, and it goes against everything your parents taught you. True, you're in a desperate situation, but that doesn't mean you should fall to the level of a lowly thief, right? You rummage in your pockets and find some coins, which amount to 350 yens. Not even the tenth part of the value of everything you're taking, but at least it'll show the shopkeeper that you're sorry. That's what you believe anyway. You put the coins on the counter, making sure they don't make any sound. Then you silently walk towards the front door and open it.

That's when you realize -or rather, hear- your mistake. Just as you turn the gate, its upper corner hits the tinkerbell attached to the wall just above, producing a loud 'ding' sound that resonates all over the room. You can't blame the bell for doing its job of ringing when someone gets in or out, be it customer or thief, but you cursed it nonetheless. Although you'll later realize you could've gotten away with this slip up with a good lie, you are too nervous to think calmly, and you opt for running away. The people from the street look at you as you storm out of the store, but you don't care; the merchant will discover your absence at any moemnt and will call for the guards, or worse, rally the crowd against you. You'd better get as much distance as you can before that happens.

Soon enough, you hear the store owner several streets away, shouting "Thief! Thief!", alerting a couple of guards nearby who passed by your side without noticing you. You were lucky there; the shopkeeper's cries will buy you some seconds while the soldiers move to investigate. That's all good, but you still haven't the faintest idea about what to do now, nor where to head to. You try to call the voice again, but strangely enough it doesn't answer. Well, it's no good if you depend on it every time, you guess. You decide to head to the main gate, now that most of the guards are gone.

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

It takes you more than you thought, since you had to hide from a couple of patrols along the way, but eventually you reach the big wooden gates at the north of the town. The town is surrounded by a wall made of bamboo, wood and mortar, and the only entries are two enormous gates, one at the north and one at the south. In the past

it served to protect its inhabitants from feral youkai or prankster fairies, especially at night. Now, with the enforcements of the Spell Card Rules system a few years ago, the numbers of attacks by youkai has been greatly reduced, but the wall was still kept and guarded, just in case one of them forgot about the Rules.

You scout the area from afar, out of sight. Both of the gates are closed and heavily guarded by a whole squadron of armor-clad soldiers with swords and spears. They've must have closed it to ensure you couldn't get out, if what you heard from those two guards was true. However, this had an unwanted and problematic side effect: it left a whole troupe of ambulant merchants stranded insde the village. And boy, they are upset! Many of them left their carts in the small plaza and are currently crowded in front of the gateguards, shouting and complaining. It's hard for you to understand what they are yelling with all this ruckus, but from the bits and pieces that you could hear, the merchants want to get out of the village before the sun fell.

Among the guards you spot a red-haired woman, dressed in a white and purple kimono with flower motifs. You remember she was one of the most important people in the village, though you can't recall her name. But seeing that the guards are obeying her, you deduce she must be a captain, commander, or any other kind of big fish of the village guards. The red-haired woman is trying to impose order, and is telling the merchants that, as a security measure, no one is allowed to enter or leave the village grounds until further notice. Obviously the merchants aren't happy with that reason, and some of them demand explanation while others are threatening to go through the blockade. Either way, the red-haired woman and her men are having a hard time to contain the angry mob.

Some ideas pop in your head regarding how to pass this control, the only thing between you and 'freedom' outside the village. Despite having their hands full with controlling the crowd, charging them from the front is still suicide, since you don't have any weapons - not counting the heavy book in your bag. Maybe you could use the rope you just 'acquired' to climb the wall and hope they don't see you while you're at it, or search for a weakened area of the ancient wall and break through it.

Another option would be to use the crowd to your advantage. First thing that comes to mind is blending in with the merchants, throwing a stone to someone, and slipping through the gates and between the fight that will break out. Or set one of those carts in fire with your matches, and escape in the resulting turmoil. However, both of those options will most likely provoke wounded or even casualties. Maybe there's another way of rallying the crowd without risking anyone's health... or maybe there's another completely different way to tackle this problem. And if it seems impossible, you could always try the south gate.

[]Use your rope to climb the wall.
[]Search for a weakened spot in the wall and break through it.
[]Rally the crowd...
-[]By blending in and throwing a stone...
--[]To a guard.
--[]To the red-haired woman.
--[]To one of the crowd.
-[]By setting a cart on fire with your matches.
-[]Write-in.
[]This door is too heavily guarded; let's try the south gate.
[]Write-in.


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

I was supposed to have this ready by yesterday, but real life chores got in the way. Also, I forgot to give my thanks to >>163354 for pointing out about the whitespaces not being visible.

>>163394

I'm glad you like it so far, and I'll try my best to meet your expectations.
>> No. 163436
[X]Rally the crowd...
-[X]By blending in and throwing a stone...
--[X]To the red-haired woman.
Then,
[X]Use your rope to climb the wall.

Creating a fight in front of the gate draws the attention of the nearby guards, which allows us to climb over somewhere else unnoticed. Guards have weapons, so throwing a rock at merchants isn't very convincing.
The commander probably tries to avoid fight, so knocking her out would provoke the guards without someone stopping them. Trying to slip through has many risks including getting caught in the fight.

Lets see if this this works...
>> No. 163437
>erhu player
...Rin Satsuki? Is that you?

Anyway, none of these options are really appealing. Scaling the wall would be highly visible, and breaking through it might take some time if it's particularly thick (which it's likely to be, given that it was made to keep out youkai).
It's also important to remember that the gate is closed. Rallying the crowd will have unpredictable results, and may not necessarily get the gate open. Perhaps out best bet would be to
[X] Create a distraction by throwing a stone from a distance
-[X] Into the crowd (or one of the guards might also work).
--[X] While the guards are distracted calming the crowd, break through the wall at a weakened point preferably out of line of sight.

Perhaps we could also set fire to the wall? It would add another distraction to the mix, and as mentioned, is largely there as a formality. Causing major property damage would reduce manpower for any potential search parties sent after us.
>> No. 163438
>>163437

Could be Mima or Satsuki. 1st update tells us that the book is not a evil spirit. So not Mima unless she is lying. Could be also Mima if she is dangerous in this dimension since Reimu wants the book back at all costs(Satsuki should be "good guy" because she was planned to be a playable character IMO). The green book with unreadable text hints towards Mima but the latest update hints Satsuki. Mima can be possibly an erhu player as well.

50/40 with Satsuki leading, I say
>> No. 163439
[X]Rally the crowd...
-[X] By scaring them into thinking that there are youkai inside the town, and they should take their goods and leave quickly.

To achieve this we need to get one of the merchants to listen to us and spread the information to the others at the gate. This is going to make them panic and start rushing towards the gate, and during this time we can either sneak out among the crowd or stowaway in one of their carts to get out. The problem is getting one of the merchants away from the gate, we may need to tip a cart for this.

Also we could just use their rush towards the gate as a distraction and climb over the fence in a different place.
>> No. 163449
[X]Rally the crowd...
-[X]By blending in and throwing a stone...
--[X]To the red-haired woman.
Then,
[X]Use your rope to climb the wall.

Nothing is more likely to cause chaos than a crowd
>> No. 163456
[x]Rally the crowd...
-[x]By blending in and throwing a stone...
--[x]To a guard.

Then
[x]Use your rope to climb the wall.


I have a feeling fire is too obvious someone's trying to get out; as for the guard, the 'commander' may not be easily angered by a thrown stone but that's just an pressumption. Scaling the wall is kind of risky but there doesn't seem to be any other way out with guards all over.
>> No. 163464
With so few yet different votes, I am stuck without being able to update. I'll close the votes for this update in 8 hours from the time of this post. If no new votes are submitted in that period of time, I'll begin writing the next part with the following options:

[X]Rally the crowd...
-[X]By blending in and throwing a stone...
--[X]To the red-haired woman.
Then,
[X]Use your rope to climb the wall.


I guess I should put less options for the next updates, or we'll be encountering this problem again for sure.

Also, I forgot to point out, but at the shoplifting update you all made a slight mistake that could have put you into big trouble: you all forgot about the tinkerbell that rang with the aperture of the door. That time I let it pass since we're just beginning and it was quite easy to miss.

This is just a heads-up that there might be traps like this in later parts, so I'd recommend you read all the descriptive parts about places and objects more carefully. There might be a small detail that might give you a hint, or make your life harder if you miss it - like the bell this time.
>> No. 163469
"...or search for a weakened area of the ancient wall and break through it. "

Why wasn't this an option? We might be able to break the wall, assuming the book can help us somehow and that it really is pretty ancient. Or, disregarding that, start a fire on the bamboo.

...I'm starting to get the feeling that we're going to get spotted as we make our way across.
>> No. 163470
Goddommot, I forgot to sage my last post. Oh well.

>>163469

It was: []Search for a weakened spot in the wall and break through it. And even if it wasn't, there was a Write-In option for you to take. When I ask for write-ins, all the options I put are merely suggestions I make. You can use, combine and modify them in any way you want as long as it's logical and sensible to do so.

Anyway, 8 and a half hours passed and nobody voted, so I close the votes with the following options:

[X]Rally the crowd...
-[X]By blending in and throwing a stone...
--[X]To the red-haired woman.
Then,
[X]Use your rope to climb the wall.


Update should arrive in 12 hours more or less, but since the next part is longer than the others, and I want to make sure I don't make so many typos like in the last one, it might take longer.
>> No. 163471
>>163469
Well, I raised those points in >>163437, but the votes refused to change. Hopefully the crowd will be a sufficient distraction such that the guards are dissuaded from pursuing us. Regardless, we should make sure to double round as we head out so that any possible search parties are sent in the wrong direction.
>> No. 163486
File 13549215492.jpg - (1.07MB , 940x950 , Next_time_you_should_look_at_the_pic_for_hints_abo.jpg ) [iqdb]
163486
Sorry for the delay again. Real life and exams got in the way yet another time. This is just half of the promised update; the other will be ready on Sunday. Actually, scratch that, my time previsions have proven themselves to be quite innacurate. Don't take my estimations seriously. Anyway, the options will come at the second part of the update, but you're still free to comment, complain and hate on me all you want.

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

Lady luck must be playing pranks on you today, you think. First you have the misfortune of finding the damned book and your whole life turned upside down overnight. Then, after being tailed by a whole batallion of guards, you inexplicably manage to lose them in a dead end. Later, your shoplifting attempt was interrupted by that bell in the door, and now, when you think your lucky streak was hitting historical lows, Fortune puts this angered crowd between you and your only means to escape. Other people might feel dejected and call it quits, but you aren't going to give up so quickly, especially with your life in the line. There must be a way to use the mob to your advantage. The merchants need to let off some steam, and the guards are having difficulties to control them. All they need is a little prompting...

But even if a fight breaks out, that doesn't necessarily mean the escape route is safe. If things go wrong -and you feel like they will- while you try to sneak your way between the turmoil, you could get injured, arrested, or both. You believe it'd be better to search for an alternate way that doesn't involve the main gates, far enough from the patrols and the brawl. This, combined with the distraction that the altercation between merchants and guards will provide, will improve your chances to escape unnoticed.

However, this plan only works as long as there is a way to climb the wall easily and conspicuously. Fortunately, the wall is ancient, and it hasn't been maintained too well lately, so you think there must be badly repaired patches somewhere along the wall. It only takes you a couple of minutes to find a spot that is far enough from the gates, and seems easy to climb up. In fact, the way some planks of wood and bamboo stand out might make it possible to climb out without resorting to the rope, if you're agile enough. Still, you decide not to take any chances, since a fall of nine meters can still break your bones if you hit the ground badly. And that'd be most unfortunate.

You bring out the rope and tie a tight knot on one end, so that it becomes a sort of lasso. Then, after checking that no one is watching you, you fling the rope around and spin it over your head to gain momentum, then throw it upwards towards one of the bamboo spikes over the wall. Of course, you miss. There's no way that tactic from those books you read could work so easily in real life. But after several tries, you manage to hit the mark, and with a pull, you tighten the knot around the spike. Now, with your escape route ready, you can focus on the diversion part of your plan. There's only to hope that nobody finds the rope hanging on the wall meanwhile.

The scene at the main gates is the same as when you left five minutes ago. While pulling your hood over your head to avoid recognition, you pick up a small peeble from the ground and approach the crowd. The merchant's incensed shouts and complaints blend in a growing cacophony, to the point where you can't even hear the person at your side properly. However, there is a voice that stands out, clear and authoritative.

"All unauthorized people inside the town are prohibited to exit the village grounds as a security measure!" repeated the red-haired woman over and over again. "Please, clear the zone and wait for further announcements. If this disruption of order keeps up, we will be forced to- hey, you, don't let that guy cross over! Push him if you need to!" she shouted to one of her men. "Noone is getting out of here until we find that boy!"

The woman's precise and constant orders are the only thing preventing the merchants from breaking the line that the guards are holding. If 'somehow' she dissapears from the picture, the guards won't be able to contain the mob, and voilà, distraction complete! With this in mind, there's only one thing to do.

You briefly remember the times you spent throwing stones to the birds. Compared to those tiny flying animals, a human head is an easy target for you. However, throwing rocks to girls isn't exactly civil. Well, killing birds out of boredom wasn't acceptable either, but you know, hurting a person is kind of a big deal, bigger than stealing from the shopkeeper. Before your moral conscience stops you, you shake your head to dispel those thoughts and prepare your shot.

The woman is just a dozen of meters away from you; not a big distance for you. Instead, your problem is that you can't aim properly because you're being pushed around by the merchants. That, and that you'd be seen on the spot if you lift your arm. You're forced to throw the peeble from below your waist, though that means you're more likely to miss the shot. But that's okay; you only need to put the woman out of commission, and just injuring her will do the work; no need to score a knock out. And even if you fail, the guards will take that as an aggression towards the authority and charge towards the mob anyway, and that works too.

The woman is still moving too much, so you wait for your chance. And when she finally stops for a moment, you throw the peeble. You watch it fly above the heads of the merchants, who don't notice it, and arch down in the air, aimed to the red-haired commander's head. At this moment it's an inevitability; the peeble will hit the mark, with a hundred percent of certainty; it's only a matter of time. You watch the rock intensely as it closes on to the woman's forehead, and on, and on, and-

Miss!? What the hell?! She tilted her head to the side at the very last second, and the rock just fly past her, grazing her long hair! But how? She was looking that way, she couldn't spot the peeble approaching from above, right? Wait, a second, is she staring at you? Nah, impossible, she must be looking at a merchant behind you. There's no way she can spot you while you're blending in among the crowd...

No, you're sure. She's ogling you with intensity, with those deep and bewitching red eyes of hers. As you stare into them, you ignore everything around you. You realize you can't move your legs; you can't break the eye contact.

But those beautiful, mysterious, dark vermillion eyes... you wouldn't stop staring at them even if you could. There's something in the deepest part of those pupils, something that urges you to dive down and explore them.

And then helplessness overwelms you. You've been certainly spotted, no doubt. There's no escape, the plaza is completely surrounded by guards; why are you afraid?

"Hey, snap out of it!"

They said they were going to kill you. If they catch you, it'll be the end. You have to do something and run away. But apparently, Lady Luck has definitively abandoned you. You've tried everything, and nothing has worked so far; why do you keep struggling?

"Don't listen to her!"

Yeah, you have no motives whatsoever to confront the authority. It's all the voice's fault that things got out of hand, right? They won't harm you if you turn yourself in and give them the cursed book, right? Why don't you just kneel down right here and end this quickly? Yes, it all would be much more easi-

"WAKE UP, DAMMIT!

A voice you've already grown used to listen to yells inside your head. Suddenly, you feel yanked from behind, and everything starts to go round and round and round and round...

And as you finally manage to break eye contact with the woman and return to reality, you feel nauseous and lose your balance, crumbling to the ground. You try your best not to vomit your lunch on the merchants' boots, but you can't cope with the splitting headache that is mercilessly pounding your temples.

"Thank the gods, I thought I lost you!" the voice from the book conveyed relief. "You need to get up and run away, fast!"

"I... uh... can it wait a little moment? I don't..." you mutter, still in a daze.

"There's no time; they're going to catch you if you don't move!"

"There's the boy!" the red-haired woman, apparently suffering from a strong headahce too, yells at the guards and points at you. "Get him!"

Well, that doesn't sound good. You should obey the book and get out of here ASAP. But your legs still feel wobbly, making it impossible to stand up steadily. Fortunately, the guards are also having difficulties to get to you, as they have to push the mob away. Struggling not to pass out, you crawl beneath the merchant's legs until you exit the crowd.

"What... what happened?" you ask the voice, as you finally manage to stand up and begin to run away.

"That woman tried to take control of your mind and bend your will, but luckily I broke the mental connection between you and her in time," it explained.

"Mind... control?"

You read about that in a lot of books, but never truly believed it existed. Besides, it wasn't as you thought it would be. You imagined there'd be some kind of interior struggle between two consciences; a battle of wits and concentration. Instead, you didn't notice the woman was subduing your mind until the voice rescued you, and if it wasn't for it...

"That's because you have no experience in mental combat. Just a few seconds more and she'd have completely taken over your whole being.", says the voice, finishing your line of thought.

"Then I owe you my life."

"Save your thanks for when we're safe," cut the voice. "Heads up!"

Two guards coming from both your sides are about to reach you, so you start to sprint towards the only way free: the place where all the carts are parked. Weaving through the merchandise sparced around the floor, the caravans and the horses, you try to lose the soldiers tailing you. Fortunately for you, the heavy armors they're wearing are slowing them down, compared to you, who are only wearing a light kimono and a cape. If this keeps up, you might even be able to outrun th-

"Stop right there!"

A third guard appears from behind a cart and tackles you to the ground! Both of you roll over the floor, and you try to stand up as fast as you can, but he grabs your ankle and pulls you down again. Desperate, you repeatedly kick his arm to break free. He doesn't give up; what's worse, his grip becomes even stronger. That's when you notice a piece of cord hanging over your head, and you pull it with all your might. It turns out that the cord tied a piece of sailcloth that kept a bundle of boxes from falling from a cart, and without it, all that stuff falls on the poor soldier's head, leaving him unconscious. Lady Luck didn't leave you stranded after all. Free from his grasp, you get up yet again and resume your escape.

The pursuit moved to the residential area, where the majority of families live in one-store wooden houses, including your own. However, the idea of going home never crosses your mind, maybe because you already accepted that you weren't coming back, but mostly because right now your priorities are focused on shaking the guards off. Since you've grown up in this area, you know the layout of the area better than the guards. However, no matter how much you zigzag between the narrow streets, you can't lose them completely; they always appear on the other side of the street, forcing you to run back and take yet another turn. Well, most of the soldiers also live in the town, after all, so that's not really a big surprise. The voice is doing a good job at warning you where the guards are going, but if this keeps up, the chase will extend until you tire out too much to continue. And since you've been running all day, and you've barely escaped a mind control attempt just a few minutes ago, that moment is drawing near.

That's when suddenly, a door of one house slides open just in front of you, and before you have time to react, a small girl comes out, takes you by your arm into the house and shuts the door. You almost yelp in surprise, but the girl puts a hand on your mouth before you open it, and places her other index on her mouth, asking for silence. You instantly recognize her at the first glance, but her hand prevents you from saying anything.

"The guards are closing up on you! Is something wrong?" Apparently the voice still doesn't know about the sudden change of things, so you try to send it a reassuring thought, to tell her everything's okay.

The confused shouts of the guards reach to you from the outside.

"Where did he go!?"

"I'm sure he went this way!"

"Oh, come on, not this again," Hey, you recognize that voice: it's one of the guards from the time you had to hide in that alleyway. He sounds fed up with the situation. The feeling is mutual, you mentally say.

"Split up and inspect every nook of these streets! He won't slip away this time!"

"Aye sir!"

You listen to the metallic footsteps of the soldiers drawing away, and it's not until you can hear them no longer when the girl takes her hand off your mouth and sighs in relief. You also let out your breath you've been unconsciously holding, and you can feel your heartbeat is finally slowing down after all this intense activity.

"I think they're far enough," says the girl.

"I thought we weren't going to make it... Thanks, Kosuzu," you say, while bowing in appreciation.

"Think nothing of it," dismisses the girl, waving her hand.

Kosuzu Motoori, one of your dearest friends, runs a rental book shop that also doubles as her residence, where you've been spending many evenings at her place reading books - and this is where you are currently standing, you notice when you look around. She sports short orange hair, tied in two twintails adorned with bells, and usually goes around wearing her yellow apron that reads her name in romanji. You don't think the apron favors her figure, but you can't deny she's quite a cutie, though you wouldn't admit it in front of anyone.

"Is that so?"

Well crap. You should mind your thoughts with the voice around.

"But more importantly," Kosuzu continues. "Care to explain what in the world is going on? First, I hear Reimu is searching for you, then I get wind of how a kid that looks suspiciously a lot like you robbed Kirisame's, and now I see you running around the blocks for five minutes, with all those guards behind you."

"Well, it's kind of a long story," you begin to say.

"You know how much I love them," she frowns. "And I have enough free time to listen to one right now."

"You wouldn't believe me even if I told you."

"Try me."

Both of you engage in an impropmtu stare battle, a fight you lose in only five seconds when you finally give up.

"Alright, I'll tell you, I'll tell you, but first, let me regain my bearings. I haven't stopped all day."

Kosuzu seems to like that answer, as she nods and flashes her usual bright smile.

"Then I'll go prepare tea. You can take the usual spot, I'll be there in a minute," she says as she walks towards her kitchen.

Taking that as an invitation to come in, you take out your shoes, leave them at the floor under the tatami, and head to Kosuzu's library.

"Are you really going to tell her everything?" speaks the voice in your mind.

"Yes. Of all people, she deserves to know."

"Are you sure? The less people we tell, the better."

"Kosuzu is a good friend of mine. I'm sure she'll keep the secret."

"I'm not worried about that. But if our pursuers discover your little friend knows about me, they'll do anything to get that information out of her. And after that, they'll silence her. You know that better than anyone."

You consider that for few seconds, as you sit down in your favourite chair. The voice was right; after all, you are being chased precisely for knowing about the existence of the person trapped in the green book. And even if it turned out that said person is completely amnesiac - or not, if you remember that episode at the shop - and couldn't give you any kind of information besides random trivia, your persecutors probably don't know that, and will kill you just to be sure. If you tell Kosuzu about this, she will be in the same danger as you.

"But I think she's the only one who can help us find a clue about you. That's why she needs to know."

The voice remains silent for a few seconds. Obviously the possibility of learning anything new about itself has picked its interest.

"And how's that?"

"Kosuzu knows a lot about books. She told me once she deals with strange books written by youkai; books that normal humans like me cannot read. See where am I heading?"

"That sounds a lot like myself, alright."

"In fact, I found you in this very library, among a pile of old books Kosuzu was about to examine."

"... Please elaborate."

You let out a sigh, recalling your memories of three days ago and searching for the right words. Looks like you're going to spend a great deal of time doing storytelling, both for the voice now and Kosuzu later.

"Well, where to begin... It was a normal day..."
>> No. 163496
Warmly waiting
>> No. 163547
Welp, almost got caught. At least Kosuzu might know something.
>> No. 163854
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163854
Just to let you know, this isn't quite dead yet! It's just that real life happened and so I didn't have time to get my ass to write. Namely: pre-Christmas exams, parties with friends and family, grave sickness, death of a relative, an almost writer block, Far Cry 3, and two complete rewrites when I was half done with the update.

In fact, I haven't finished all the update yet. However, since it was becoming quite long because of its info-dumping nature, I decided to break the second half of the promised update into two smaller parts. This is the first of those parts. The second will arrive shortly when I finish rewriting it for the third time. Not going to say when exactly, since it's been already proven my time predictions are unlegit as fuck. Anyway, I think with this update is all but explicity clear who's the voice inside the book... But that's not the main 'mystery' of this adventure at all.

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


It was a normal, peaceful and pleasant day. Sun glowed, birds flew, cicadas chirped, kids played in the streets, adults chatted in the market... A perfect day to spend outside.

No, reading time!

While normal people enjoyed themselves out there, Kosuzu and you prefered to stay at her library reading books, surrounded by several rows of shelves filled with antique manuscripts, with the smell of parchement filling the room, and the lounge dimly lit by a candle on the small table. Kosuzu's place housed many of those strange books you could never find elsewhere, even at the Hieda's mansion; that's the extent of Kosuzu's book collecting hobby. And those books told the most interesting stories at all.

You put down the book you just finished in the table, and glance at the girl sitting in front of you. She's totally immersed in the lecture, her eyes moving side to side at ludricrous speed behind her spectacles, so she didn't notice you.

"Phew, finally finished," you said.

"Hmhm," she acknowledges, not looking away from her lecture. "How was it?"

"You were right; it first seemed like it'd be a boring tale, but the ending was..."

"See? Told ya," she smiled.

"Yeah, you did," you stood up. "Well, it's been a pleasant evening as always, Kosuzu, bu-"

You were suddenly interrupted by the ringing doorbell. Kosuzu and you interchanged a confused look; she usually doesn't get visits that late, except you.

"Coming!" Kosuzu said, as she put her book on the table, took out her googles and walked to the living room to greet whoever was at the store door.

Although you were planning on leaving, you decided to stay in the library until Kosuzu was done with her visitor. You didn't feel like greeting and talking and giving explanations to an unknown person. Your attention was caught by the book that Kosuzu left open in the table. It was quite big, almost seven inches long and four wide, and it had more than a thousand pages for sure, you estimated. You took the book with care and looked at its cover: brilliant emmerald green with silver and gold ornaments, twisting and knotting themselves to form an emblem of a hideous yet fearsome beast. The creature in question had the head of a dragon, the antlers of a deer, the skin and scales of a fish, the hooves of an ox and the tail of a lion. It looked like the printer of the book was drunk at the time and decided it was a good idea to mash different animals together into one abomination.


"Abomination!? That is a qilin, my good sir, and it's anything but an 'abomination'," interrupts the voice, offended.

"I'd appreciate it if you didn't interrupt me, thank you very much," you respond.

The voice grunts in your mind, still displeased at how you insulted its species - or what you believe it's its species before it was a book, you suppose. It must be something the voice must've remembered from that incident with the [i]erhu
back at the store, and you should ask the voice about it when you're truly out of danger. Nonetheless, you take note of that piece of information the voice dropped and resume your narration.

You took a peek at the page Kosuzu left opened, and what you saw left you confused as hell. The paper was filled with strange symbols and lines all over it without apparent order, forming a sort of unintelligible gibberish that made you feel dizzy just by staring at them. But Kosuzu was reading it the whole day and she seemed fine. Was there something you were missing? Maybe it could only be read by touch, like those books filled with points for blind people. Might as well give it a try.

Determined to know what was the book about, you laid down one finger on the page, running it along a random line. And that's when you heard it:

There is only one ode
Written in these old pages


A female voice sung those verses with a pure and melancholic tone, an angelic voice that soothed your mind and at the same time filled your chest with an unexplicable and aching sorrow. However, surprise and astonishement took over those conflicting feelings, and you lifted your finger away from the book. Who was that? Where did that voice come from? It didn't came from one particular direction; rather, it sounded all over the place... or nowhere. It was more like it resounded on your own mind. But that was impossible, right? You didn't have a separate conscience inside your head, and even if you had, it certainly wouldn't be 'female'. It must've come from the book. In fact, it stopped singing just when you stopped touching the line.

When the initial surprise winded down, you put your finger again on the same line, and ran along it for a second time. As you suspected, the voice sang again, but this time you didn't stop.

There is only one ode
Written in these old pages.
A tale of distant ages
Only here left encoded.


The line came to an abrupt end, and so did the voice. So this was how Kosuzu was reading it, you realized. You chose another line and repeated the procedure.

Our lifes ended long ago.
Our bodies rotted underground
Left there to never be found.
Now our story is begone.


Was this some sort of magic-powered narrated novel? You heard from Kosuzu that those were the boom at the Outside World, but the book seemed rather antique to be just a product of the current trend. Anyway, you might know more if you kept "reading", you thought.

Fiery flames destroyed our homes.
Nobody knows our true names.
But this demon book remains
And our legend will be known.
Someday...


Huh, that was strange. The voice trailed off and stopped singing, but the line still went on. Was it some sort of miswriting? Or were you doing something wrong? You tried other lines, but you didn't hear the voice again. Nor when you turned the page and tested other lines at random. Maybe only certain lines could be "heard"? Or possibly you lacked an special item, or even special training. It might be that you had to use your other fingers.

"Interested in that book?" Kosuzu startled you when she spoke while patting your shoulder from behind.

"Ah! Oh, you're back. Who was it?"

"One usual customer of mine," she responded, waving her hand to downplay the issue. "So, do you like those doodles?"

"I found something interesting."

"Oh?" Kosuzu arched her eyebrows in curiosity.

"I think you already know this, but if you run your finger along the lines, you can hear a voice singing in your head."

"Wow, for real!?" she exclaimed with genuine surprise.

"Wait, you didn't know that?"

"Never thought of trying that. Lemme see..."

Kosuzu put her finger on the line you first ran and went over it slowly. She closed her eyes and furrowed her eyebrows in concentration, but after a few seconds she shook her head.

"I don't hear anything."

"What? But I'm sure I did... Look!"

You went over the line Kosuzu ran, and there you heard the voice again.

"There is only one ode, written in these old pages. A tale of distant ages only here left encoded. That's what the voice is singing, and I can hear it clearly."

"Well, I can't. Are you sure you aren't imagining it?"

"Absolutely."

Kosuzu stared at the book, deep in thought. You still had one question to ask her, though:

"Say, Kosuzu, if you can't hear the voice, how were you reading it? Can you understand what the lines say?"

"Hm? Ah, no, I can't."

"But didn't you have that 'super-duper-mega-ultra-hiper-awesome' ability of yours?"

"And that's exactly why this is bugging me so much!" she exclaimed. "Supposedly my power allows me to decipher any book, no matter in what language or code is written. But I spent three days trying to decipher this book and still I haven't understood a single word of it."

"Maybe the writer of the book didn't want anyone to read it?" you guessed.

"In that case he would've used some sort of code, and I would've translated it with no problem. No, I think there's something I'm missing... an external factor, like a curse or a spell from a third party..."

At that point, Kosuzu began muttering to herself, making it hard for you to hear her.

"I don't think I get what you say."

"You said you heard a voice when you tried to read it, right?"

"When I touched the lines, yeah."

Kosuzu nodded to herself and pushed the book on your chest.

"Okay, then I give you homework to do. Write down everything you hear and show me."

"Wait, what?"

"It's important, okay? Do me a favor and do it as soon as you can, please."

"Who the hell do you think I am, your notary? You realize this book has like a thousand pages."

"I bet you're dying to know what else is written inside this book, right? C'moooon, I beg of you! Please?"

Oh god, those puppy eyes. She knew you can't resist them. You couldn't't do anything but accept the girl's request, while wondering just how manipulative she was to her real customers.


"I don't use my 'puppy eyes' with my customers, if that's what you're thinking."

Kosuzu appeared through the library book, carrying a tray with a dinnerware set for two.

"Don't tell me I've just said all of that aloud."

"Every single word of it," she said, putting the cups filled with steamy tea on the table. "You'd make for a good storyteller, though I have some issues with your similes."

"Oh man..."

You can feel your cheeks burning with embarassement. You should apologize to her, but words don't come to mind.

"And this is one reason why you should learn to talk telephatically, to avoid this kind of situations," adds the voice.

Duly noted, you mentally say. You turn your attention to Kosuzu, who is glaring at you while sipping at her cup.

"So I take you've heard everything I told until now, is that right?" you ask her.

"Hmhm."

"And I'm sure you have several questions to ask me."

"Many. But I'll wait until you finish your tale."

You take your cup and drink from it. You haven't noticed until now, but between the hectic activity of all day and the long narration now, you're extremely thirsty, and because of that the tea tastes like heaven. You always believed a good hot cup of tea can bring anyone back from death, and right now you feel like that statement holds truer than ever. Letting a breath, you resume your talk:

"Alright, where was I..."

Back at your home, you put the book in your desktop and opened at a random page. The lines written there were different from the page you first read, but still in a different pattern. However, nothing sounded in your head.

"Strange... definitely strange..."

Why could you hear only certain lines? Were those 'active' lines random or did they follow some kind of pattern of scheme you still haven't figured? After a few seconds of staring at the book, you realized pondering questions wouldn't get Kosuzu's request done. Not that you were doing it for her; you were also interested in it. You decided to start from the first page and advance from there. There was an exact drawing of the abomi- qilin that was at the cover inscribed, and you mindlessly ran your finger along it starting from its eyes, moving then down to its neck, torso, front legs, back to the torso, and finally the tail. And just as you lifted your index, you felt a acute ache in your temple, like a nail thrusting through your skull.

"Argh! It hurts, it hurts!"

You threw yourself at your futon, holding your head in your hands in pain and curling in a ball. Thankfully the pain subsided very shortly, but it was enough to left you sweating and heaving. You suddenly felt extremely exhausted, and since you were already in bed, you just closed your eyes and fell into sleep.

>> No. 163929
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163929
Third part of the extremely long update. Finally I get to put some choices for you readers. I wish I didn't have to put all this infodump, but I felt it was necessary to have a plot going on - opposed to just running away for no apparent reason. Hopefully I won't be forced to do such massive updates in the future.

Also, picture only 10% related to the story. Couldn't find a suitable one for this part, and I didn't want Kosuzu to repeat.

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

"Where am I?"

You found yourself standing in the middle of nowhere, in an endless green plain praerie. Everywhere you looked, you only saw grass. Not a single person, building, forest, not even a small hill. Only grass, extending far far away until it blurred with the clear blue sky at the horizon. You realized this was a dream, and that left you confused. You were not the kind to remember the dreams you had, much less experiencing a lucid one. But even if you had, you were sure as hell that being stranded alone in an endless grassland wasn't the usual thing you'd dream of. Anyway, you started to walk aimlessly. Surely your mind would put something in your way to keep the dream interesting.

You didn't have to wait long for such a thing to happen. In the distance, you could listen to the same voice that you heard with the book, but you weren't able to understand what it was singing. But as you walked closer and closer, you recognized the song:

"Fiery flames destroyed our homes.
Nobody knows our true names.
But this... this... "


The same verses that you 'read' in the book, but incomplete. By the sounds of it, it seemed that whoever was singing forgot the lyrics of that song. Whn you got close enough, you spotted someone standing in the middle of nowhere; a translucid human figure with no definite facial features. Was it a ghost? But you weren't afraid of it, like you thought you would. Maybe because seeing the lingering spirit in the middle of nowhere, singing alone, was kind of sad by the sights of it. The figure didn't notice you, and so it still went on singing.

"Fiery flames destroyed our homes.
Nobody knows our true names.
But this...
No way, am I starting to forget this too?
Nobody knows our true names...
No use... better start again. I can't let it slip away."

The song from that book. Was it coincidence? No, that can't be. Maybe you were so curious about the singing book that your brain thought of it even in your sleep. The figure took a deep breath and hummed the song again.

"Fiery flames destroyed our homes.
Nobody knows our true names.
But this..."


The last note was kept hanging in the air, while the silhouette searched for the next words in vain. Maybe it was out of pity for it, maybe it was because you didn't want to leave the song unfinished, but you found yourself continuing it:

"But this demon book remains.
And our legend will be known.
Someday..."

The figure turned to face you in what you supposed to be surprise, since you could only tell that from its body expressions. It made you wonder how could it sing with no mouth, but you quickly discarded those questions when you remembered this was a dream, and as such it needn't to follow to rules of logic. Apparently your intervention was just the push that the figure needed to remember the rest of the song, and so it continued from where you left:

"Someday you will hear the tale
Of the memories we hold.
When the reckoning times come
Our words in the wind will sail."


Its voice died down, signaling the end of the chant, and you couldn't help but start to clap.

"Thank you, thank you!" the figure says, bowing. You were sure that, for it, the applause was infinitely more thunderous than it really was.

"I've listened to many bards and minstrels in my town, but none of them managed to move me so much like you," you compliment.

"Really? I appreciate it, but this wasn't a good performance at all. It's the first time I needed someone from the audience to continue the song," the figure waved its

translucid arm to the vast extension. "And an artist must remember all his songs perfectly."

"Um... what audience?"

"The one you came from, of course," the figure repeated the arm waving to the endless void green field.

"What? There's nobody here besides you and me." No matter how much emphasis it put to that move, you still couldn't see anybody.

"Can't you see them? All these identical faceless people standing right here? Aren't you one of them?"

In a sudden burst of worry and fear, you put your hand on your face. Thankfully, you felt with your digits your eyebrows, your eyelashes, your nose, your mouth, your cheeks...

"I think I still conserve my features," you sighed in relief. "And maybe you should take a look at the mirror, by the way."

"What do you-?" The figure also brought its hand to its head, and there it remained for a few seconds before it slowly slid down its face. "So it's become this bad..." it muttered. "I've forgotten what do I look like too."

"Eh?"

The figure suddenly stared at you with its no-eyes and wiggled a finger at you. Suddenly it became much scarier.

"You. You aren't from here. You still retain your face. You can talk to me. Surely you aren't just a product of my mind, right?"

"Err... no?"

"Hesitation!" it shouted. "Me: one, you: zero."

And just like that, the feeling of fear and dread dissapeared as fast as it came.

"Wait, what!? Since when is this a game?"

"You want to ask me things, I can tell. And I want some answers too, so now we're playing 'Questions' to see who gets them first."

"'Questions'? I've never heard of that game before."

"You have to make a question, then I answer back with another question, and so on, until one fails. But it has to be fast! You can't stop to think."

Now that it described it, you recalled playing a similar game when you were a child, but that was long ago.

"Can't we just talk and resolve our differences like normal people?"

"And where would be the fun in that?" C'mon, whose turn is it?"

"Why are we doing this?"

"Why not?"

"What for?"

"Foul! No synonyms! Two zero,"

"What in the gods' names is going on!?" It was hard to keep on with the figure's pace.

"Foul! No rhetoric! Three zero. C'mon, step it up!"

"What does this have to do with this me being a product of your mind?"

"Can't you guess?"

"Are you even addressing me?"

"Is there anyone else here?"

You were almost tempted to respond with a 'you said there was an audience here, you idiot', but you held your tongue and decided to continue with the 'game'. But keeping up with the figure was harder than you thought. You could even feel how it practically entangled you with its words; it was clear it was leading the game, probably thinking about new ways to confuse you further while the only thing you could do was blurting the first thing that crossed your mind.

"You, me, and...?"

"How would I know?"

"Is this game logical to begin with?"

"Why do you ask?"

"... Are you serious?"

"Was that rhetoric?"

"No."

"Ha, statement! Four zero, game point for me."

You blew air out of your nose in pure desperation, but you tried to calm down.

"What's the matter with you?"

"What?"

"Are you deaf?"

"Am I dead?"

You doubted for a split second at that question thrown out of the blue, but you managed to blurt out your 'response' in time.

"... Yes or no?"

"Is there a choice?"

"Is there a God?"

"Foul! No non sequiturs! One zero. You're doing better, keep it up!"

Guess you still hadn't really understood the rules of the game. Maybe the figure was making them up as both of you went? Besides, what was a non sequitur?

Anyway, maybe you could use this situation to ask what you want. After all, it's all about volleying questions, right?

"What's your name?"

"What's yours?"

"You first."

"Statement! Two zero."

Fell on that one again. Better rephrase that question a bit, you thought.

"What's your name when you're in the book?"

"What's yours?"

"When I'm in the book?"

"Is it different in the book?"

"What book?" Wait, that was supposed to be its line. Why were you saying it instead? You realized you were about to get lost in its words yet again, so you had to return to the original topic fast.

"Haven't you got one?"

"Why do you ask?"

"What are you driving at?"

"What's your name?"

"Repetition! Three zero, match point!"

"Who the hell do you think you are!?" You were about to lose your patience.

"Rhetoric! Game and match! Flawless victory, wooo!" The figure threw its arm in the air in a victory pose.

"Screw this, I'm done with this game," exasperated, you slumped down in the ground and sat down.

"Ohhhh, someone's a sore loser!" the figure wiggled a finger in front of you. "Well, you couldn't expect to win at the first time - because it was your first time, right? And I also train a lot, so you could say you lost to the best."

By the tone of its voice, you believed it was actually proud of that. You let out a breath and cooled down. There was no use in getting mad over losing a strange game with an even stranger person, you figured.

"Who do you train with, may I ask?"

"Haven't you heard that saying? 'You are your meanest opponent', or something like that."

"You mean 'toughest enemy'?"

"Whatever, it's the same," it waved its hand to shrug it off.

"So you're saying you argue with yourself aloud?"

"You should try it too! You might learn things about yourself. Besides, it's not like there's not much I can do in this place to have fun anyway. I have to maintain my sanity somehow, you know."

Yeah, it seemed like that method was utterly unreliable, you said mentally.

"I'll pass. I already got a headache from this."

"Too bad."

The figure sat down besides you, and began to hum the same song from the beginning. That reminded you that, after that session of absurd discussion, you haven't

obtained any of the answers you were looking for. In fact, it even raised more questions. But you didn't feel like dealing with yet another confusing rant from the figure, so you remained silent and simply listened to the song. Until the voice cut it short with a question for you:

"So, where did you learn that song?"

"That song?"

"That song from before. The one I was just whistling. I thought I was the only one that knew about it."

"Oh, that. It was written in the book,"

"And the entonation? And the rhythm? You can't guess that just from reading the verses."

"Well..."

You were not sure about telling everything about a singing book to a faceless person who you just met inside your dream a few minutes ago and played a nonsensical question volleying game with. But hey, it was your dream after all, so why not, you thought.

It didn't take you more than five minutes to explain everything about the book and the voice to the figure. All the while, the figure listened mindfully to your narration. Or so you believed, it was hard to tell when it couldn't convey any emotions with no face.

"So in short, you heard my voice in your mind when you touched it. Then your head started to hurt, you went to sleep, and then you found yourself here. Is that right?"

"Yes. But what is this place? I'm beginning to suspect this isn't a dream at all."

The figure remained silent for a few seconds, looking for the right words to say.

"In a way, it is. But at the same time it isn't."

"Again with the confusing jumbo-mumbo?"

"Heheh, maybe," the figure chuckled. "I might have forgotten many things in my stay here, but I'm completely sure this place is my subconscious."

"Your subconscious?"

"Yes. I don't remember how and why did I end up here, but I'm sure about that."

"And how do you expect me to believe it?"

"Because I have control over this place. I can control the people here, even though they don't have faces and voices. I can create houses and sculptures just with a single thought, even though they are always the same boring pieces of stone," the figure extended a hand out, and closed its fist as if crushing something within it. Probably it was destroying one of those buildings right then. "And that's because this is my mind, and I have total dominion over it. At least that's what I come to believe, anyway."

"Well, sorry to break it to you, but I don't see any people, nor any house or statue for that matter."

"Which proves you are not product of my mind. That, and that we're having a proper conversation right now, which I couldn't do with anyone here," it shrugged. "So I

guess I'll have to buy all that stuff about the book..."

The figure returned to thinking to itself, and so did you. Something about what it said still bugged you.

"You said you have forgotten many things. And when we first met, you muttered something about forgetting what you look like."

"Shh," the figure asked for silence by waving its index. "I need to think about what you said, so could you please leave me alone for a while?"

"What? But-"

"I'm sure you have many questions too, but I'm afraid I can't give you the answers you want. Yet."

"What do you mean with that, 'yet'?"

"If you can beat me at 'Questions' next time we meet, then I'll tell you everything you want, alright?"

You weren't exactly looking forward to play that game again, much less with that individual. But it was clear the figure wasn't feeling talkative at that moment. Something you told it must have worried it. Anyway, you weren't going to get more information from the figure at the moment. You might as well do as it said and leave, you thought.

"But that's only if we meet again," you said.

"Oh, I'm sure we will. We will..." it muttered.

"Whatever, I'll see you next day, if we do," You stood up and said to the figure, who was still sitting on the grass.

"Days, months, years, they have no meaning here," the figure replied. "I've lost the count."

"Until the next dream, then."

"You learn fast," it chuckled. "Till next dream."

As you began to walk back towards the horizon, the figure waved you goodbye, and you heard it hum the song it was singing before again until it was too far away. There were many things that you didn't understand of this conversation, but you were too tired mentally to give it a thought about it. Instead, you lied on the ground and closed your eyes, not even thinking for one second how strange it was to go to sleep in your own dream.

The next time you opened your eyes, you found yourself in your room, only illuminated by a dim green light at your side. But when you turned your head to the source, the light died off, leaving the room in the dark. Still in a sleepy daze, you stood up from your futon and prepared to begin another day of your life.


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

"What's wrong, Kosuzu?"

You interrupt your narration when you see the redhead girl staring at you with an incredulous look in her eyes.

"Let me guess, you don't believe a single word I told you, is that right?"

"Normally I'd say you have quite a rampant imagination to come up with this, but you're being chased because of that book, so it must be true," concedes Kosuzu. "And

if that's true, then my suspicions weren't unfounded."

"Your suspicions? You mean you knew about the individual trapped in here?" you ask, pointing at the green book you previously left in the table to show her.

"I didn't expect there would be an actual conscience inside, but I'm not surprised, given the nature of the book."

"The nature of the book...?"

"Did I ever tell you about demon books?" Kosuzu asks.

"Only vague details. I think you didn't want me to know much about it," you say, remembering all the things Kosuzu said to evade your questions on the matter.

"Alright, then..." the girl lets out a small breath, and begins her explanation. "Demon books can be many things, but they all have in common one thing: they are all written by youkai."

"Youkai?"

"Yes, classics of youkai literature, grimoires for magicians, books like that."

"I didn't know youkai write books."

"They do. Not all youkai are feral beasts living in the forest, you know. The most powerful and intelligent ones live like civilized people, like us. In fact, there might be youkai in this village, pretending to be humans."

"Wow, really? Isn't that... dangerous?"

"They are smart enough to control themselves, so we shouldn't worry. Ah, but we're digressing, right?" interrupts Kosuzu, "The most common type of demon book are the ones that record the existence of deceased youkai."

"Deceased youkai..." mutters the voice in your head.

"Those books are the last hope of the youkai who were forgotten by everyone else, and they wait for someone to awake them from their slumber, to accept their existence..."

"That does fit with my description," comments the voice in your head.

"Then the figure of my dream was a forgotten youkai that is using me to be reborn? Is that what you're saying?" you ask Kosuzu.

"I'm not using you! You agreed to help me, remember?"

"I think so," nods the girl. "And seeing as how everybody's chasing you, I'd say that youkai must be a rather powerful or fearsome one, a youkai that everybody wants it to remain forgotten."

"Yeah, I saw how afraid are people of it," you say. You experienced first-hand how do they treat people who delve into demon books without care.

Kosuzu opens her mouth and closes it again, unable to find the right words. She instead gives you an apologetic look, but when your eyes meet she turns her head away. Is she feeling guilty for something?

"Yes she is. Can't you see it?" comments the voice. "Going by what you told earlier, she was the one supposed to discover me. But she couldn't decipher the book at first, so she gave it to you, because she thought you could succeed where she failed. But who would have thought the contents of the book would cause such a

You finally understand it. She believes she should be the one being chased, not you. That's why she feels remorse. She thinks she's responsible for all this.

[i]"Exactly."


Then there's one thing you must do. You put a hand on Kosuzu's shoulder and lightly pressed it, in an attempt to console her. You've never been so bold and assertive towards her in all your life, but heck, there's a first time for everything, right?

"It's okay, Kosuzu, I don't blame you for what's happening. I'll find a way to get everything back to normal, you'll see."

"But they're out to kill you!" she shouts, "They'll try to erase every evidence trace of the book to keep everything in the dark! Including the poor person who happened to open it, even if he's innocent and has no idea of what's going on!"

"It's all a misunderstanding! I intend to clear it up, and they'll listen, but I need your help to do that, alright?"

"... Al-alright."

Kosuzu doesn't seem like she calmed down completely, but it'll do for now. That said, what could she help you with?

"Ask her where did she get that book from," intercedes the voice.

Yes, that would be a good start. You ask Kosuzu that question.

"Where did I get that-? Well, it was... it was given to me by a penfriend of mine," she answers.

"A penfriend?"

"Yes, she goes by the name of 'Ms. Knowledge'. I haven't met her in person, but we speak through correspondence. From what she tells me in her letters, she's the owner of a huge library at the Scarlet Devil Mansion. Voile I think it's called."

"The Scarlet Mansion? That house in the middle of the Misty Lake?"

"Yes, that one. Every month, the head maid of the mansion comes to my house and acts as a mailwoman. She gives me Ms. Knowledge's letter, and whatever book from her library she agreed to lend me. And I give the maid my response letter and another book from my collection."

"Oh, so you interchange books?"

"Uh-huh. This book was the last one Ms. Knowledge sent me," she taps the green book. "She wrote in the letter that she found it in a dusty old shelf in her library, and that she couldn't understand a single word of it, so she thought I could decipher it and asked me to do it. Did I mention she knows about my ability? Anyway, it turned out I couldn't do it... and you know the rest."

So the book came from the library at the Scarlet Devil Mansion. That's a good place to start investigating. Although from what you can remember, the Misty Lake is very far from the human village, about three days om foot. Not to mention the path to the lake was filled with fairies and youkai, and it gets especially dangerous at night. Still, it's better than having no running away aimlessly, you think.

"Wait, now that I think of it..." says Kosuzu, focusing. "That day, the day I gave you the book, I recieved a visit from the head maid," she explains. "Which is quite strange, since she only comes once every month. And she only came to ask me about how was I going with the book."

"And what did you tell the maid?"

"Well, I couldn't tell her I wasn't able to decipher it. It would've been a hard blow on my reputation! So I lied to her and said I was doing slow, but steady progress. Then she told me that I didn't need to rush, and that I should enjoy the book. Then she left, like that. Quite strange, if I say so."

"Yeah, it does seem strange," you agree.

"I don't like the sound of it," says the voice. "Telling her to enjoy the book... it's almost as if that Ms. Knowledge knew about me when she sent the book to your friend."

Is the voice implying something?

"It's just a hunch, but... what if she sent Kosuzu the book to deliberately provoke this situation and turn her into a felon?"

Isn't that too much of a conspiracy? Why would Ms. Knowledge want to do that to her penfriend?

"I don't know. Maybe Kosuzu has a very rare book Knowledge wants to have for herself. Or maybe your friend offended her in anyway, and wants to have revenge, or something."

That's just baseless conjetures, and a show of total distrust in people from the voice's part.

"You should ask her, anyway. With tact. We don't want your friend to get mad at us. She's probably the only ally we have in thirty miles round."

The voice must have a serious case of paranoia for it to have lost faith in people to this point, you think. Then again, it might be totally justified, after all those years trapped inside a book. And since you are also being chased after, you should adopt that mentality too to an extent. Still, it doesn't make it any easier on yourself to ask such delicate questions to your friend.

Thankfully you don't need to, since Kosuzu asks you before you even have a chance to speak:

"Say, you spoke with the youkai in your dreams, right? Did it... did it say anything about itself? Something that can explain why is it being chased?"

"No. Apparently it forgot everything regarding itself too, so it's as clueless as we are."

It was quite a dissapointment when you found that out on the dreams you had after the first one. All that time wasted trying to beat the figure at 'Questions', only to learn that 'it only knows that it knows nothing'.

"That's strange," Kosuzu says. "Demon books are explicity written to preserve vital information of the youkai it houses, but if the youkai also forgets that information..."

"Then the book failed at what it was supposed to do?"

"Not only that, but remember how even I couldn't decipher it?"

"Yeah... You said it could because it was cursed," you remember what Kosuzu told you three days ago.

"So someone wanted me gone so much that he or she went to the trouble to cast a curse on the book that holds my memories..."

"... And that someone is also going to great lenghts to keep the memories forgotten," you follow the voice.

"Which means that whatever those memories are, they must be of the utmost importance," Kosuzu completes the train of thought. "That's why I am asking."

Yes, if you knew something about what the book and the youkai hold, it would be easier to explain this mess and clear any misunderstanding. Even the smallest clue could help you understand what's going on, who's after the book, what does he or she want to remain forgotten. Does the voice remember anything?

"Actually, remember when I saw the erhu back at the store? When I saw it, I-"

Suddenly, three loud knocks in the door interrupt the voice. You look at Kosuzu, and she returns your surprised and fearful gaze. Who would it be at these late hours?

Whoever it is, you couldn't let yourself be seen by anybody, now that you were a fugitive. You must do something, and you must do it now.

[]Search for a place to hide...
-[]Behind the shelves.
-[]Under the table.
-[]In the kitchen.
-[]In the living room.
-[]In Kosuzu's room.
[]Vault over the window in the back and run away.
[]Grab something blunt or sharp and...
-[]Ambush them.
-[]Prepare to defend yourself.
-[]Attack them head on.

>> No. 163930
[X]Grab something blunt or sharp and...
-[X]Prepare to defend yourself.
--[X]Grab the book with you to hide it and if you need to run away
[X]Search for a place to hide...
-[X]Behind the shelves.

Can we combine votes? Also, I'm pretty sure the sealed character is Satsuki due to the book coming from SDM and Satsuki is a "forgotten" character.
>> No. 163931
>>163930
Sure, why not, as long as you keep it logical (like now). I'll explicity tell you when you can't do it.
>> No. 163933
This story is going places!

Also I like that vote: expect the best, prepare for the worst.

[X]Grab something blunt or sharp and...
-[X]Prepare to defend yourself.
--[X]Grab the book with you to hide it and if you need to run away
[X]Search for a place to hide...
-[X]Behind the shelves.
>> No. 163937
[X]Vault over the window in the back and run away.
-[X] Before fleeing carefully stash the tea cup and anything else we used. Cushions, coasters, other things.

We can let Kosuzu get in trouble after she helped us.
>> No. 163939
>>163937
"Can't let her get in trouble" I mean.
>> No. 163948
[X]Vault over the window in the back and run away.
-[X] Before fleeing carefully stash the tea cup and anything else we used. Cushions, coasters, other things.

Plot calls.
We're wanted at the SDM
>> No. 163961
[X]Spend only a moment to quickly stash away everything that will indicate our presence, then peek out the window in the back to see if there's anybody nearby.
If there aren't any people nearby:
[X]Carefully vault over the window in the back and survey the situation.
If there are people:
[X]Try to sneak past them, and get ready to run like hell.

There are a few important things that are against our favor. Our shoes are still at the entrance, so it's futile to try to pretend we never came here. If the guards are here, then they'll see our shoes and search the house, which would make hiding a hopeless effort. Fighting back isn't a viable option; If I'm correct, we are dealing with Kotohime and her men, which means that the guards are well led and supported by somebody we can never hope to defeat, since she is strong enough to contest Reimu in TH3.

Remember, we will probably not know what will happen to Kosuzu after we escape, so that could possibly mean that our plans will be known by the opposition. Reimu and Marisa are not to be trusted since Reimu got all of the guards hunting after us, and the SDM's interests are unknown as of now, which means we are outmatched and out of allies. If we hope to survive, we are going to have to play dirty. If we have to cause some collateral damage, so be it.
>> No. 163970
>>163961
>they'll see our shoes and search the house

I would hope that Kosuzu has read enough detective novels to remember to hide our shoes, but unfortunately panic will probably make her forget.

As to where we go after we escape the village, hopefully the book will chime in its opinion since our choices are not looking good.
>> No. 163980
Calling the votes for escaping through the window after we hide the evidence of our stay in Suzunaan. Update should arrive... no, I'm not giving any speficic date. I'm sure I'll miss it again if I do.

>>163948
>>163961

You guys got your shit toghether. This line of thinking will help a lot in this adventure. In fact, I didn't expect you'd notice about the shoes. You've saved everybody a lot of trouble for finding out that little trap of mine.
>> No. 164093
File 135723940762.jpg - (1.82MB , 2480x3507 , 0078274eb89be70f981f79fcd9800183.jpg ) [iqdb]
164093
I wish you a late Happy New Year to all of you!

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

Knock knock knock, you hear the door being pounded again just a few meters away. You stay frozen in the chair, struck by panic, looking at Kosuzu and the corridor alternatively. Many conflicting thoughts rush to your mind about what to do: hide, run away, stay where you are, maybe it's just Kosuzu's mom or dad, but if it isn't then you'll have to fight-

"Calm down and focus!" the voice screams over your panicked ruminations. "We can't let ourselves be seen by anybody; we should assume we're the most wanted right now, and that everybody knows your face."

Right, right, you can't be found, you already know that. Then the wisest course of action would be to get out of Kosuzu's house and escape the village as soon as possible. However, after helping you hide from the guards and giving you useful information about the book, you can't simply let Kosuzu deal with all the trouble by herself. That means you have to erase all the evidences of your stay here.

"We don't have time for that," argues the voice.

No, you must do it. If they discover she aided you in your escape, she could be in for a severe punishment. In the worst case scenario, they might believe she knows too much about the book, and Kosuzu would then suffer the same fate they have prepared for you. You just can't let that happen to your friend, who selflessly helped you in your time of need, and is not involved in all this affair.

"Technically she is, since the book was lent to her... Anyway, do what you have to do, but above all else, don't get caught."

It's decided, then. You looked at Kosuzu, who was also frozen in place, with no idea about what to do now.

"Kosuzu, listen," you whisper to her. "I'm going to leave from the window at the end of the corridor, but before that, I need you to help me with that," you point at the tea cups and cutlery on the table.

"But-but we don't have time!" she murmurs. The banging at the door resumes again. "C-coming!" she shouts.

"It's enough if you can entertain the visitor for a few seconds, that's all I need. Come on, help me get this to your kitchen."

"Alright."

Both of you hastily pick up everything on the table and rush to the kitchen - you putting special care into not making any loud noise - and place the drity dishes on the sink. Meanwhile, the bangs on the door return, this time stronger and in smaller intervals, displaying impatience.

"I'm coming, I'm coming, wait a minute please!" Kosuzu shouts, nervous.

You were about to head to the window, but you remember you aren't wearing your shoes at the moment. That's when you realize it.

"Kosuzu, the shoes! In front of the door!" you silently shout to her.

The girls looks at the entrance, confused, but quickly understands. She picks them up and throws them to you, and you catch them in midair. Seeing as you can't hold the person behind the door much longer, you gesture Kosuzu to open the door while you go back to the kitchen. You only need a few seconds to put your shoes on; hopefully Kosuzu will be able prevent her visitor from entering the kitchen.

"Will you be able to sneak by unnoticed?" asks the voice, still unsure. "Walking on the tatami with street footware makes a lot of noise."

You'll put special care into making as less noise as possible. Besides, Kosuzu should provide distraction when she talks to the visitor. She can really be a motormouth sometimes; you just have to hope panic doesn't get the 'best' of her.

"I still don't like this plan, but oh well, the lost must throw themselves to the river."

... Ignoring that unintelligible adage from the voice which you have absolutely no idea what it means, you lean your back on the wall of the kitchen and listen attentively to what's happening at the entrance. You hear Kosuzu opening the door and greeting whoever it's outside.

"Ah, Reimu, it was you! Sorry I couldn't greet you earlier; I had... um... quite a mess to clean here. Eheheh..."

Your spirits fall down to an historic minimum when you hear that dreadful name. The miko in person has come to paid a visit at the worst time possible. And you suspect she hasn't come to have a cup of tea with her bibliophilic friend.

"You were starting to worry me, Kosuzu," Reimu's voice reaches you, loud and clear as if she was standing right next to you. She sounds younger than you imagined. In fact, you could swear she's around the same age as you, which is kind of unsettling. "You know there's a dangerous criminal around here, right?"

Kosuzu faked a suprised gasp, quite convincing in your opinion. "So those rumors are true?"

"Kotohime's guards are doing their best to catch him, so don't worry. As long as you stay in your house with your doors and windows locked you'll be alright."

"G-got it. But if that criminal kidnaps me, I can always rely on you to save me, right, Reimu?" Kosuzu tries to sound as cheerful as possible.

"It's better if we don't reach that point, isn't it? Especially when you can help me prevent it."

"Sure, sure. Want some tea?"

Crap, Kosuzu, don't say that! You're still in the kitchen!

"No, thanks, I actually came to ask you a few things concerning a certain book," said Reimu. "I have things to resolve urgently, so I can't stay here for long."

"Oh, I see, books, my specialty! Ehehehe. Come to the library, then. We will be more comfortable there."

You Kosuzu and Reimu's muffled footsteps heading to the library you were in just a minute ago. Relieved, you let out a breath you didn't know you were holding and begin to put on your shoes, while listening carefully to what happens at the other room. You hear the rattle of chairs being dragged along the floor, and then Kosuzu speaks:

"So, what's this book you were talking about?"

"Before that, I need you to promise me- no, swear, that everything I'm going to tell you will remain between these four walls, okay?" Reimu said, with a serious tone.

"Ooooh, sounds interesting! Is it something that is only passed down by the Hakurei maidens? It's totally confidential and ultra-secret, right?"

"Do you swear you will never, ever, tell anybody, and I mean anybody about this?"

"I swear it by my pinky toe, by our childhood oath, by my mom and dad, and by all the gods above us."

Reimu sighs, half in exasperation, half in approbation. You already finished tying your shoelaces and were heading to the window, but to be honest, Reimu's insistence in secrecy made you curious as well.

"You're not planning on eavesdrop them, are you?" the voice reads your mind. "We should get out of here fast, we can't stay here!"

But you might learn something useful from your enemy this way, you argue.

"...Point taken. But be prepared to make a run for it if things go awry."

You mentally nod and lean at the side of the library door, returning to the conversation between the miko and the book collector.

"Before I begin, tell me, what do you know about the kirin?"

"The kirin...? You mean the qilin?"

"Whatever, it's the same," Reimu sighs.

"Well, according to the popular lore, they are one of the three most powerful youkai species, along with the dragons and the phoenix..." starts Kosuzu. "But noone has ever seen one here in Gensokyo, and there's little to no written record of their existance. All we know about qilin comes from popular lore, tales and legends. And you know how unreliable they are. The bane of every history researcher, and the joy of bards and storytellers-"

"Kosuzu..."

"Oh, sorry, I'm digressing, aren't I? Ahem, if we go by the tales of old, qilin have quite a lot of abilities. Let's see... they can wrap their bodies in fire,

they can call thunder upon the guilty and the wicked, they can walk on grass without disturbing it... but most of the legends agree that, despite being scary-looking, qilin are peaceful and wise creatures. By the way, they've been depicted with many forms through histo-"

"That's enough," interrupts Reimu. "So you say that there's no proof of the existence of the kirin?"

"They only appear in tales, songs and legends. No official documents, no portraits, no biographies..."

"And you're sure there are no kirin in Gensokyo?"

"Uhhh, well, not that I heard of," Kosuzu says doubtfully.

Reimu lets out a sigh, probably searching for the best way to formulate her next question.

"Alright then... so it could be possible that the kirin existed, but, for some reason, they decided to dissapear without leaving any trace?"

"Well, um... I'd say no, it's impossible," answers Kosuzu. "It's very hard to conceal the existence of an entire species just like that. Especially a species so powerful as the qilin. No matter how hard you try to hide the evidence, there will always be a small trace left from where we can pull the thre- Oh..." Kosuzu gasps in sudden realization. "So that's the book you're asking me for? A record of the qilin?"

"Sometimes you're too smart for your own good, Kosuzu."

"So the book isn't just to sustain my existence until I wake up?" speaks the voice. "A repository of hidden knowledge from the qilin. That's what I was supposed to protect all the time?"

That would explain the emblem on the cover of the grimoire. Though you feel there's something that doesn't make much sense in what Reimu said, but you can't say for sure what is it.

"A book written by qilin!" exclaimed Kosuzu. "That's got to be one of the rarest books in existence! I wish I could give it a read..."

"I thought you could tell me more about such a book," explained Reimu. "But it looks like even you don't know much about it..."

"I'm sorry I wasn't of much help. But qilin are truly an obscure legend. By the way, this doesn't have to do anything with that dangerous criminal, right?"

"No, not at all," Reimu hastily says.

"I thought so. You can't lie, Reimu. So that guy over there found the book of qilin? What, he broke in a mansion and stole it or something?"

"Well, he did steal from a shop a while ago, but he already had the book by then. I wonder where did he find it..."

Crap, the conversation has reached a delicate point. If she really wants to cover you, Kosuzu can't tell Reimu that she was the one who gave it to the 'criminal' in the first place. And if Kosuzu decides to tell the miko a half truth and say the book came from the Scarlet Devil Mansion, you could forget about going there in the near future. Thankfully, Kosuzu manages to derail the topic before suspicion arises:

"Wait, if he had the book before going to that shop, then why were the guards chasing him?"

Oh, true, you didn't get to explain that to her. Though it's good to hear the answer from the pursuer herself. However, if Reimu tells Kosuzu a biased version that somehow vilifies you, you'd have to give your friend your own version when you have the time.

"Because that book isn't just an encyclopedia. The kirin wanted to dissapear so much, they went through all that trouble to erase every evidence of their existence. But you yourself told me that it's simply impossible to hide everything. So what would you do with that which you can't hide?"

Kosuzu thinks about it for a second, and then answers: "I'd destroy it, as much as it hurts me."

"Suppose it's too important to be destroyed."

"Well, um... I think I'd encode it so that even if they find it, they can't understand a single word of it."

"But you also told me some time ago that there's no indecipherable code, remember?"

"Yes, I guess I said that..." Kosuzu mutters so low you almost couldn't hear it. You wonder if she still believes that after failing to read the 'book of qilin', as she called it. "Okay, I give up. Get to the point already!"

Reimu chuckles, delighted with her small victory. Way to break the serious mood. Or is it that she never thought seriously of this situation in the first place?

"They went as far as sacrificing the life of one of their own to make sure that knowledge doesn't fall in the wrong hands... in any hands, to be precise."

"The life of one of their own? You mean... a demon book?" Kosuzu gasps in surpirse. Faked, of course; she already knows that from what you told and showed her.

Reimu seems to buy it, thankfully. "Bingo! But instead of holding the memories of a single youkai, it keeps the memories of an entire civilization."

"No wonder why that guy stole it. Even if he isn't interested in the history of a legendary species, I'm sure a book this rare is extremely valuable," comments Kosuzu.

"It's dangerous," the miko states bluntly. "If kirin are really as powerful as legends say, and the criminal frees the one inside the book by accident..."

"What's the bad part about that?"

"More youkai around means more trouble for me. And you can bet the last youkai of its species will make a hell of a fuss when it comes back to life again. Experience taught me that sealed people should remain sealed."

"Isn't that a bit too harsh?"

"They were sealed for a reason, after all. Who are we to cuestion those reasons? It's best to leave things as they are."

Kosuzu remains silent, unable to come up with either a counterargument nor an agreement.

"I've heard enough. Let's get out of here," says the voice, with a stern voice that fails to hide its chagrin.

You comply with the voice; after all, it doesn't seem Reimu knows much more about the situation. For now, you should concentrate on getting out of the house without making any noise. You've already wasted enough time here. Concentrating on muffling your footsteps, you tiptoe towards the window, listening to Reimu and Kosuzu's bickering but no longer able to understand what they're saying. With extreme care, you slide the door open and peek out of the window. After checking that the coast is clear, you vault over the sill and step on the dusty street. And it looks like Reimu hasn't noticed. Escape succesful!

"Don't sell the skin until you've caught the bear," says the voice. Finally an adage you can understand. "We're not safe until we're far away from the village. That said, we still have to think how to pass through those doors..."

The voice needn't worry, for you had already procured a way to escape before you got caught by that red-haired woman - Kotohime, Reimu called her.

"Oh? You managed to find a way to get out of here while I was absent? You sure don't waste any time, huh."

Yes, when you try, you can be resourceful even when the voice isn't sticking around. Who would've thought?

"Your sarcasm amuses me. Now, let's go. You wouldn't want to get caught before you show me your escape plan."

You look back at the window, then up to the sky. Sun is already going down, coloring everything orange and purple above you. It was already getting too late; night will fall shortly, and you want to be as far from the village as possible by then. It'll be hard to deal with feral youkai alone; you don't want to add human guards and hunters tailing you as well. Putting your hood on, you begin to make your way towards the north gate again. It's easier said than done, though: as you walk through the streets, you come across with patrols searching for you. Thankfully, the voice's early warnings, your knowledge of the streets' layout, and the anonymity the hooded cape grants you helps you reach your goal without being spotted.

"She's wrong," blurts the voice all of sudden.

"What?"

"What the miko said. It doesn't make sense. We the qilin didn't hide ourselves from the rest of the world; we were erased from existence by others. And I know for a fact that this knowledge is meant to be shared, not hidden," it explains.

"How can you be so sure about that?"

"Someday you will hear the tale of the memories we hold. When the reckoning times come, our words in the wind will sail," the voice sings. "My mission is to protect the contents of this books and spread them when the time is right, not to hide them from the world. I might not remember what those contents are; I might not know when will be the right time; I might not even remember my name, but I swear, as sure as the sun that rises every day, that the world will one day know about us, the qilin, the forgotten youkai."

Few times you heard the voice displaying such conviction. Normally, it would speak in riddles, reflecting on things you usually take for granted, never vouching for any definite conclussion. That's probably why you feel surprisingly moved by its resolve right now. Still...

"But how do you plan on doing that? You don't even know what you're supposed to remember."

"Your friend Kosuzu pointed us to her friend Ms. Knowledge. She might tell us where did she get the book from. Tracking the origin of the book will lead us to the place it was created... the place where the qilin lived."

That would be a good start, but if you're not lucky, you might find yourself going around in circles. In the worst case if the qilin - or whoever cursed the book, if you choose to believe the voice's theory - did their job well, you may lack on leads and get stuck in a dead end. Not to mention the path to the Scarlet Devil Mansion is not exactly an easy and pleasant trek.

"Alternatively, you could ask the Lord Tenma," suggests the voice.

"Lord Tenma?"

It was the name you least expected to hear, so you couldn't help but say that aloud. In fact, you said that so loud, people are looking at you in surprise. You bow your head even more to conceal your face beneath you hood and quickly walk away from the area.

"Remind me to teach you how to speak telepathically first thing after we get out of here," it says. "Anyway, that's what I was about to tell you at your friend's house before we were interrupted. When you picked up the [i]erhu at the store, I suddenly remembered it."[/i]

Ah, now you recall. Something about being the Tenma being moved by the voice's erhu performance.

"Yes, exactly that. I was part of Lord Tenma's music ensemble, playing the [i]erhu, which apparently was a rare instrument at the tengu court. That's why I remembered this. Along with two other musicians, I performed in many parties, banquets and festivals that the Tenma threw every so often. Quite an exigent job, if I say so myself, but I remember I enjoyed it nonetheless."[/i]

"So... are you saying we should go to the Tenma's palace and ask around there?"

"We could find some clues about my past there. Maybe even find something related to the qilin too."

There's just one 'little' problem: humans are not allowed in the Youkai Mountain, where all tengu, and by extension Lord Tenma, live. And even if you do manage to get in, you doubt they remember anything about an erhu player that you don't even know its name. And in the chance they actually do, you doubt they'll willingly share that information with a human.

"You are quite the fussy quibbling pernickety cantakerous petty little kid, you know that?"

Well, you can't help it; both of the two options presented by the Talking Thesaurus look dangerous to you. Then again, neither does your current situation, so you shouldn't complain too much. For now you should concentrate in getting out of the village first; you'll have time to choose between the two ills later.

Arriving at the north doors takes you longer than you expected; when you saw the big gates again, it was already dark. This means that you may encounter feral youkai the very moment you step outside, but at least the actual escape will be easier as long as you stay in the shadows. You scout ahead to spot any guards around: only two in front of the door, and another one patroling around. The merchants from earlier went back to their carts, resigned to spend the night in the village. Most of them were preparing to go to bed inside their carriages; the light of their lamps inside giving their position away. People with no carts slept on the ground with their sleeping bags, or just using their capes and coats as blankets. If you tread carefully, without making any noise, you should be able to cross this area without making any noise. You tiptoe around the carts, avoiding stomping on someone by accident and staying away from the lights, all the while keeping an eye on the patrolling guard nearby.

Eventually, you reach that spot on the wall that seemed easy to climb up. Looking around to ensure nobody's watching you, you get close and begin to touch the barricade, searching for the rope that you left hanged hours ago. If nobody saw it, it should be still there.

"Ah, I get it, you were trying to make a distraction and escaping using the rope up here! That's smart... too bad you failed miserably at the distraction part," commented the voice.

Well, thanks for the consolation, you tell it with as much sarcasm as you can muster. It's hard to see without light, but you finally manage to find the rope stuck between two broken planks. You tug at it to ensure it's still tied strongly, and after that, you put your foot on the plank, using it as a toehold to impulse yourself up. Escape is literally mere inches away...

"Freeze."

A calm yet imposing voice stops you right in your tracks, paralyzing you in surprise. You heard that voice before, and your heart skips a beating for a second when you recognized it: it was the red-haired woman that almost took control of your mind before, Kotohime, the commander of the village corps.

"Get down, now. We have you surrounded. One bad move, and we'll skewer you like a yakitori."

You comply with Kotohime, putting your foot down in the ground, and turn around slowly to face her. There she was, accompanied by five armored guards pointing their spears at you from just two meters away. You remember in time not to stare directly at Kotohime's eyes, so you choose instead to place your sight on the pointy ends of the polearms, waving just three inches away from your chest. Not a reassuring sight at all, but at least they won't make you go mad... you think. Your heart starts pounding like the taiko at the New Years festival, and you can feel cold sweat falling down your temples.

"Calm down. Breath in and out. Not everything is lost yet," Things don't look good for you, how can you calm down? "Just let things play out for a while. Maybe there's a way out of this. Just wait."

"Criminals always come back to the crime scene. Today's not an exception," says Kotohime, starting to walk in circles around you. "You thought you could use the same trick twice, huh? We found the rope shortly after you attacked me back at the gates. It wasn't hard to figure out what your true intentions were. Climbing up the wall, eh? Now that's a daring escape route. We usually have to deal with people going in, though, so this is a nice change. Hands."

Kotohime is now right behind you. You can do nothing but comply, so you put your hands behind your back. You hear the distinct sound of handcuffs closing on your wrists a bit too tight. You try to twist your hands, but the handcuffs press strongly in your skin, leaving it sore after a few seconds of struggle. You briefly wonder if this is to be totally sure you weren't doing anything strange, or it is just payback from before.

Kotohime's hands go into your bag and start to rake the inside over. It just takes her a second to find what she was looking for: she gets the book out and looks at it with great curiosity.

"So, this is the book Reimu is making this fuss about?" Kotohime turns the book over and looks at the cover. "And we had this all the time inside the village? Tell me, where did you get this?"

You don't respond. You'd put Kosuzu in danger if you tell the truth, but you aren't able to come up with a good lie wither.

"I'm asking you a question. Where did you get the book?" Kotohime emphasizes every word, as if she was takling to a little kid. "Hey, show some manners! Look at me when I speak to you!"

With her left hand, she forcefully takes your jaw, turns your head and makes you face her. You try with all your might to not stare into her madenning crimson eyes, but their power is like a magnet, so you eventually get dragged into her pupils. But damned if you at least don't put up a fight in your mind! You concentrate, awaiting for any sort of mental attack from the police officer...

... but it never comes. You don't feel any headache, nor any strange force pulling you inside her eyes. Just the irrational attraction to her iris. Kotohime lets out a sigh and takes a step back, breaking eye contact. Relieved, you let out the breath you were unconsciously holding.

"It's worse than I thought. That youkai is already lodged too deep in his mind. I can't pass through its mental barriers," she mutters to herself.

You'll have to thank the voice yet again for doing such a good job when you get the chance. Kotohime opens at a random page and looks at it, while still talking to herself.

"... Gibberish. Like she told me. Whatever, I'll manage to break their minds. I just need time..."

That's when you noticed it. In the page that Kotohime had opened, three of those lines were dimly shining: one in a green light, another in red, and the last one in yellow. Apparently neither Kotohime nor the guards notice them. What is going on?

"Listen to me. I'm going to release my power, but I need you to lend me your voice for a moment."

Wait, what? Its power? Your voice?

"We don't have much time. I'll get us out of this. Just read aloud one of those damn lines already!"

Oh, it's just that? That seems simple, if it weren't for the fact that you can't under- oh, you actually can. So, read one the lines...

[]"Leaves falling from the trees. Petals withering at our feet. Life escaping our bodies, swiftly carried by the wind."
[]"The purging fire shall consume us all, leaving only smoke and ashes, for we were born from ashes, and ashes we shall become."
[]"And when the thunder was heard in the distance, the guilty and the wicked cowered in fear, as they knew lighting would strike upon them."

>> No. 164098
Holy crap we habve Rin in our heads.
>> No. 164099
[X]"Leaves falling from the trees. Petals withering at our feet. Life escaping our bodies, swiftly carried by the wind."

In order to inform all of you the consequences of each choice, let us look at what Kosuzu told us about the abilities of the kirin. Kirin allegedly possess the abilities to wrap themselves in fire, blast the impure with lightning, and possess a level of dexterity and agility which can prevent grass from being disturbed. Logically, the 'dying petals/leaves' option must be an agility enhancing spell, the 'purging fire and ashes' must make us wrapped in fire, and the 'thunder booms in the distance' should entail blasting Kotohime and her men with lightning.

There are various pros and cons to each option, so I'll try to second guess what the writer has to say. The 'dying petals and leaves' option would presumably allow us to evade Kotohime and the guards, thus extricating us from the situation with minimal collateral damage, although I may be wrong and the MC ends up becoming injured or worse. The 'purging fire and ashes' option should allow us to unsettle the guards and allow us to make our escape by becoming a pillar of fire, but we might end up causing a blaze in the village which will cause massive collateral damage and may kill some sleeping humans. Finally, the 'thunder booms in the distance' would indeniably eliminate Kotohime and kill the guards, which would not noly allow us to make our escape but also instill bitter feelings due to the MC's hand in murdering several relatively innocent militiamen.
>> No. 164101
[x]"Leaves falling from the trees. Petals withering at our feet. Life escaping our bodies, swiftly carried by the wind."

While doing something damaging might be better in the short run, we need to avoid giving them MORE reasons to want our head in a pike.
>> No. 164105
[x]"Leaves falling from the trees. Petals withering at our feet. Life escaping our bodies, swiftly carried by the wind."

I agree with the prior logic. But if this is some sort of speed-enhancing magic, can we grab the book and the keys to the handcuffs too? I guess it depends on how the magic works.
>> No. 164113
[]"Leaves falling from the trees. Petals withering at our feet. Life escaping our bodies, swiftly carried by the wind."
>> No. 164114
[]"Leaves falling from the trees. Petals withering at our feet. Life escaping our bodies, swiftly carried by the wind."
>> No. 164115
Incidentally, I'm really enjoying you quest. There's a lot of thought required, and it's interesting to see characterization of a 'forgotten character.' Literally, in this case.
>> No. 164124
[x]"Leaves falling from the trees. Petals withering at our feet. Life escaping our bodies, swiftly carried by the wind."
>> No. 164133
[x]"Leaves falling from the trees. Petals withering at our feet. Life escaping our bodies, swiftly carried by the wind."

Flee! The EXP you get from battles like this are negligible, anyway.
>> No. 164137
Calling unanimous vote for using what appears to be a wind spell. Though it might or might not do what you all suppose it will do...

>>164099
And again, your long but logical explanation amuses and pleases me. I encourage all of you readers to use this same kind of reasoning - but not at his/her extent if you don't feel like writing a wall of text. You might or might not be right in the end, but who knows, maybe if you justify your choices, you could make me behave a bit more lenient towards you. And those explanations help me come up with new ideas, too.

>>164115
Thanks! If I'm making you think hard, then I'm achieving my goal. And yes, I also became interested in Rin when I heard about the 'scrapped' character. Also, maybe Takerfoxx's Imperfect Metamorphosis may have influenced me to try to write this character in question. Since she's the character with least data of all the Touhous, I have a lot of liberty to mold her however I like. Feels good not being restrained by canon.

Next update should arrive shortly, since it'll be shorter than usual (especially compared to the last ones). The prologue of this adventure is nearing its end, but your perils have just begun...
>> No. 164180
File 135751012916.jpg - (260.69KB , 600x696 , 570158-kotohime.jpg ) [iqdb]
164180
As promised, short update today. I had to deal with the coming of the Three Wise Men and an unexpected power shutdown, otherwise this would have been up in just a day. Anyway, let's see if I get the formatting right this time.

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

Three lines shine in the page, but only one catches your attention. For some reason, you experience an irresistible urge to follow the green line with your eyes, to decipher its contents hidden for so long. These past three days you weren't able to read any of those lines; only 'hear' some of them in your mind. Now, in your most dire moment of your life, the meaning of this green line becomes unraveled in your mind. You don't know how exactly can you 'lend your voice' to Talking Thesaurus, but you feel compelled to read that line aloud, like it told you to do.

"Leaves falling from the trees..."

It's a strange sensation you can't describe well. It's as if the words aren't coming from your mouth, but you do feel your vocal chords vibrating inside your throat, so you're truly saying them. And your voice had a slightly higher pitch than usual, too, more... melodic? Since when were you able to sing so well?

"What?" Kotohime lifts her eyes from the book and looks at you, tilting her head. The guards are also eyeing you in confusion and discomfort.

"Keep going. Sing along with me."

Ah, of course, 'lend me your voice'. So it was the youkai the one using your voice to read and sing the verses. Makes sense... more or less. You continue along the line:

"Petals withering at our feet..."

You feel it: a surge of power growing in your chest, oppressing your lungs and craving for release.

"What in the world is he saying?" mutters one of the guards, scared.

"The demon possessed him! He's speaking in the language of devils!" another one exclaims, visibly perturbed.

The language of devils? But you're speaking in normal Japanese... You think. At the very least, you can understand what you're saying. Maybe they can't?

"Stop doing that!" shouts Kotohime. "One more strange word and I'll smack you!"

Uh oh, she seems pissed off. You'd better stop-

"Don't stop now! You have to end the song!"

You're starting to have troubles to contain the power in you. The words are begging to come out from your mouth.

"Life escaping our bodies, swiftly carried by the wind..."

"That's it!"

Kotohime raises her arm above her head, ready to let a mighty karate chop fall on your head...

"Commander, the book!" a third guard with a familiar voice interrupts the woman. It's the captain of the guards that were chasing you hours ago, before you went to the Kirisame's shop.

"What's with the book, Capta- eh!?"

The whole book is emmitting a strong green light that everybody could see. You can feel power emanating through it; the same kind you feel inside yourself. The next words, although they aren't written in the line, come naturally to you. You can't contain the energy anymore. Your head is starting to hurt...

"Now!"

"Gale Gust - Folk Dance of Feng Bo!"

Both you and the voice shout the name of the spell in total syncronization, releasing the power that you both built up. Then, many things happen at once in the lapse of a couple of seconds: Kotohime and the guards, hearing your scream, stand in guard and prepare to launch an attack with her fists and their spears. This is in naught, because as soon as you finished declaring the spell, an incredibly strong wind lifts up from you left and sends the guards flying towards the houses' walls. Kotohime, however, manages to retain her balance, albeit she's forced to interrupt her attack. At the same time, you use the spare power you have left to break the chain of the handcuffs - a feat normally impossible for a mere human like you - and tackle Kotohime with all your strength, pinning her against the wall. This catches the police commander totally offguard, who loses consciousness by the sheer force of the impact.

You then suddenly become dizzy and lean in the wall to avoid stumbling onto the ground. Even though you had so much power within you thanks to the spell, it appears you've still overdone it. Or maybe because the magic is now gone, you are now paying the price for pulling out this superhuman stunt. Still, you can't believe it; one second you were handcuffed and surrounded by guards, and in the next, you're free and the guards are lying in the ground either unconscious or grunting in pain. And you are the sole responsible for this. Well, you and the youkai inside your head. You don't know if you should be scared, euphoric, sorry, or what.

"Maybe you should... deal with your emotions... when we're out of the village... don't you think?" the voice sounds much weaker in your mind, probably feeling mentally tired as well.

But it was right, you don't have much time. That hurricane must have called the attention of every single guard in the village. You should get out of here while you still can. You pick up the book from Kotohime's hands, and you then notice the handcuffs. True, you managed to break the chain between them, but the irons were still tightly shut around your wrists. Not only they were quite bothersome and painful to wear; people would label you as a felon when they see them. You must take them off to avoid troubles in the future. Despite your initial moral concerns about touching an unconscious woman's body, you quickly muster your courage and begin to search inside Kotohime's pockets and sleeves for the handcuffs' keys. But the keys where nowhere to be found in her pockets, or in her sleeves... not even in her bosom, to your dismay.

"Goddamit, why don't you have the keys?" you ask to the unconscious woman. "What do you do when you arrest the wrong person, huh?"

"She probably doesn't have them on her in case the suspect tries to steal them, like right now," argues the voice. "Smart thinking if you ask me."

Well, this is great. Now what the hell are you going to do out in the world handcuffed?

"I'm sure there are ways of breaking them without a key, but we'll deal with it later. Right now, you have to get out of here."

You don't like the idea of having to escape with those damned irons in your wrists, but it can't be helped. You put the book back in your bag and start your climbing again. First, you grip the rope tightly, ignoring the pain of the handcuffs; then, you place your right foot on a small plank that protudes from the wall. First you lightly tap it to ensure it would resist your weight, and then you recline on it, impulsing yourself up. Then you put your left foot in a hole of the wall, and after that, you lift up your right foot again and-

"Not... so... fast."

Your right foot is held in place by a strong grip around your ankle. You look down in surprise and see Kotohime, who is still having problems to maintain herself awake, trying to pull you down. You have to hand it to her, that woman is something else. In top of her mind-controlling powers, she has also a tough constitution, proven by the fact she withstood the brutal knockdown you inflicted upon her a few seconds ago, and still having the strength and will to stop you even in her condition...

"Let me go!" you shout as you kick her arm with your left foot.

The woman stubbornly tries to seize you, but eventually your repeated kicks manage to break her hold on you. Hoewever, this struggle made you lose your footholds and left you hanging by the rope with only your hands. The pain in your palms and wrists is starting to become unbearable, and Kotohime is now attempting to grab your leg a second time. But you can't fail now, after coming so far. Performing yet another great effort - this time without any magical enhancement - you pull yourself up with the strength of your arms alone, until you reach the next foothold above.

But as soon as you place your foot there, you hear a loud crack. The wood of the wall is starting to break, and you swear you felt the wall itself shake a little. You look down and see Kotohime grabbing the end of the rope as well, following you closely. You realize the added weight of the policewoman that is straining the ancient wall too much, and that it will break down soon if this keeps up. And if that happened, both you and Kotohime were up for a nasty fall. But apparenlty the commander is too fixated in catching you to notice this. Not that she would listen to you if you tried to explain it to her, anyway. Overall, this is one more reason to climb up to the top as fast as you can.

The chase has become a race to see who was first; you to reach the top, or Kotohime to grab your leg. But it was a race where you had the advantage, since you already know where to put your feet when you first put the rope there, and Kotohime's kimono wasn't exactly fit for climbing. Five seconds of the most intese climbing of your life later, the top of the wall is at your reach. You make the final impulse with your left feet...

... and at that moment the wall finally gives up. A loud series of crack all over the surface is heard, and then a chunk of mortar breaks from the top and falls down. Incidentally, it was the very exact zone where the rope was tied. Suddenly losing the only hold you had to impulse yourself up, you feel gravity dragging you down along with the rope, but thankfully you were close enough to the top to make a desperate grip at the edge of the wall. You pull yourself up with a third great effort and finally manage to 'safely' sit on the top of the crumbling wall.

Next up, you spot a branch from a nearby tree outside the barrier from where you could jump on and climb down its trunk. Escape is just literally a leap away. But your attention is caught by a scream a few meters below you.

"Ah! Oh no, oh no, oh no!"

Kotohime is dangling in a wooden plank that started to protuberate as the wall began to crumble. You remember she was also holding herself up with the same rope you were using, and you suppose she also fell down when the mortar chunk broke, but managed to hold on to that plank. The plank itself, however, is also beginning to break, unable to withstand the woman's weight. And it's a long fall down there; she'd definitely break a few bones when she hits the ground, if not something worse. The policewoman looks down in panic, and then up to you. You make the mistake of looking her in the eyes, but you are surprised to see she isn't attempting to break your mind. In fact, it isn't the angry look of the commander who was trying to apprehend you a few moments before. It is the look of a helpless woman who realized that her only salvation is the boy who is sitting up there.

"Please, help me..." she mutters, starting to lose her strength.

You hear another crack from below you; the entire wall is going to fall apart at any second.

"What are you doing!? Come on, let's get out of here!" the voice hurries you.

It's the wisest course of action to just jump to the branch before everything falls down, you realize. But could you just leave this woman there, even if she was trying to get you? You could reach her hand, pull her up, and take her to the tree, then leave her, but...

The wall cracks yet again. You don't have much time. You must decide...

[]Leave while you still can.
[]Try to save Kotohime.
[]Long live the king Make sure Kotohime won't follow you.


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

This might seems like the typical morality choice here, but be advised that you don't have the stick to one end of the morality chart through all the adventure. However, other people will keep track of this kind of choices, so this is still quite an important decision to make, with a lot of impact in the story.
>> No. 164182
[X]Try to save Kotohime.

Stupid Good? Maybe. But we seem to be inheriting the powers of the qilin, and I want to think of them as a good, noble sort of youkai. Call me naive if you want, but I want us to set a good example.
>> No. 164183
So here's how I see it playing out. If we save Kotohime, it'll either be:
A. The towns folk and guards will see us as NOT a bad person, and rally up and fight against Reimoo.
B. We save Kotohime, we go to jail, then escape later.
or
C. We save Kotohime, then Bad End.

Then if we leave Kotohime, we're sure to get away. But she might die, and at least break a few bones.
Hm, Decisions, Decisions.
>> No. 164184
File 13575151716.jpg - (32.79KB , 800x600 , this is the face of a criminal.jpg ) [iqdb]
164184
>And you are the sole responsible for this.

Pic related.

I don't normally make fun of random typos like this but this instance created a mental image that left me in stitches for some reason. Hey, flatfish are inherently funny.

[X] Try to save Kotohime.

In before Fate route.
>> No. 164186
[X] Try to save Kotohime.

Always save the lady, it's about the message.
Can't she fly anyways? Not that the MC knows it.
>> No. 164188
[x] Save Kotohime.
>> No. 164189
[]Leave while you still can.

Pissing against the flow.
>> No. 164196
[X] Use the cape to pull her up, and once she's on the wall jump off onto the branch quickly.

Once she knows she's safe she will naturally let go of the cape to catch her breath, and it is during this time that we need to move. This will result in more fatigue for us, but at least she won't die. It's also not likely that she will follow us down into the forest due to it being nighttime. That said, we're probably going to be food for something if we don't find somewhere to rest.
>> No. 164199
White Knight Powers! Activate!
[X] Try to save Kotohime.

If we get Bad-Ended from this, we get to rewind, I should think.
>> No. 164200
[X]Make sure Kotohime won't follow you.
This choice was made for me.
>> No. 164203
I would like elaboration on
[]Long live the king Make sure Kotohime won't follow you.

It appears that most of us do not want to bear with the karma of abandoning Kotohime to her fate, but we also have to consider that she may not abide by her moral obligation to allow us to escape, and if she doesn't let us escape, then Reimu will most definately make our collective lives miserable and make the situation almost impossible to salvage. After all, she was just at Kosuzu's house, and virtually everybody in the Human Village should have been alerted by the gale we invoked. If this option allows us to do something else, then I'm willing to try it, but it's far too vague for us to even consider in this high-stakes situation as it is now.
>> No. 164205
[x]Leave while you still can.

She won't die
>> No. 164206
>>164183
Decisions, decisions, but you haven't taken any, you coward >:V

>>164184
Oh you punny guy. If it's not screwing the formatting up big time, it's making typos everywhere. When will I learn to proofread properly?

>>164186
>can't she fly?
Maaaaaybe I should have explained this earlier. In this setting, the vast majority of people cannot fly like in canon. There are exceptions of course, like Reimu, who explicitly has the ability to fly, or the fairies, crow tengu and other winged creatures who can use their special limbs to hover like birds. There will appear other people who seem to be able to fly, but do not be fooled: they probably are using spells or artifacts to hover in the air, like controlling the wind or using a magical broom.

>>164203
I thought you would catch on the striked-through Lion King reference... Basically, that option is what I like to call 'pulling a Mufasa' I know, I know, technically I should call it 'pulling a Scar' which means 'deliberately making Kotohime lose her hold to make her fall to her death'. Obviously, the evilest option of all. But hey, if you want to turn into a rampaging murderer, you have to start from somewhere, right?
>> No. 164235
[x] Try to save Kotohime.
In part because she's not trying to mind-screw us anymore.

>>164186
I think she rode some sort of cloud thing in the game.
For her boss attack, at any rate.
>> No. 164243
[x] Leave while you still can

She's just going to stab us later.
>> No. 164252
>>164183
[X]Leave while you still can.
I've decided.
And I'm going by the idea:
"Being a hero gets you killed"
>> No. 164253
[]Try to save Kotohime.

>>This might seems like the typical morality choice here, but be advised that you don't have the stick to one end of the morality chart through all the adventure. However, other people will keep track of this kind of choices, so this is still quite an important decision to make, with a lot of impact in the story.

The above leads me to believe that this choice probably won't lead to an immediate bad end.
>> No. 164259
[X] Leave while you still can.

Although this may seem like a heartless and immoral decision, I have considered this course of action and decided that this vote is justified by what Kotohime has tried to do to us, along with our current situation.

She has knowingly attempted to condemn us to death by striving to capture us for Reimu. Her moral obligation to not capture the MC probably means nothing to her, as she has been given an order by the Hakurei Shrine Maiden to kill or capture us, and she would have never shown us mercy if we were the ones hanging off the ledge. Even though it is her duty as a policewoman to preserve order and minimize civic disorder, she would rather sacrifice the MC rather then suffer the wrath of the Shrine Maiden. As the idiom goes, she has made her bed, and now she must lie in it.

Additionally, righteous actions will do nothing for us against the wrath of the Hakurei. We seem to be split between saving her and various means of preventing her from pursuing us, but I would like to bring to everyone's attention that Reimu could have already begun to investigate the gale we made. Since she can fly, it could be only a few moments until she arrives, which means that we have no time left to save somebody who has tried to kill us. It may be immoral to fail to save somebody from death, but so is trying to capture somebody and condemn them to torture and death while fully knowing the consequences of one's actions.

We cannot afford to forgive when we ourselves are not in the position to do so. Reimu has made up her mind on killing us just to save herself the effort of dealing with a Youkai, and even if the MC decides to save Kotohime, the most that we will probably get is 'thanks, but now you have to die'.

Reimu is coming, and saving Kotohime will not change this fact.
>> No. 164265
>>164259

But if the point is to survive... can one truly live after knowingly turning one's back on someone in peril? Maybe we think they might survive, but that doubt, that taken chance, will gnaw at our conscience forever, to say nothing of if we're wrong about their odds, if they actually do perish due to our neglect.

It may be better to be caught and executed with a clear conscience than to live a guilt-wracked fugitive.

And I'm decently sure the writefag won't 100% Bad End us here and now. Even if we are detained, someone must recognize and acknowledge our moral fiber.
>> No. 164266
>>164259

While I respect your opinion, I have to disagree. Pragmatism only goes so far. It's a fine line between 'letting someone get hurt for my own benefit' and 'actively hurting others for my own benefit.' We can help Kotohime, therefore we should. It doesn't have to be much; just leave her balanced on the top of the wall until help arrives. The woman is on her last legs; she can barely even move. And if we show ourselves to be heartless, we only prove Reimu right, and may lose any support we may have among townsfolk who aren't too sure about this decision of Reimu's.

The only thing Kotohime has done here is her job. Reimu told her there was danger, therefore she acted to minimize that danger. She could have simply killed us, instead to took the time to capture us. She doesn't deserve our contempt, and if we regard someone's life as being meaningless, we become no better than those who condemn us.

tldr; It will only take a moment to save Kotohime, and there isn't good enough reason not to. We aren't monsters, let's show it.
>> No. 164269
[x]Try to save Kotohime.

Reimu is comiing, but saving Kotohime is a separate issue altogheter. The kirin strike down the wicked... let's avoid friendly fire yes?
>> No. 164275
[x]Try to save Kotohime.
>> No. 164291
File 13576506139.jpg - (130.70KB , 1000x1000 , Lakitu.jpg ) [iqdb]
164291
>>164269
But this kirin in particular agrees that you should run away ASAP. Unless you were refering to the option of going out of your way to kill Kotohime; in that case the kirin would have all the reasons in the world to berate you.

>>164235
>riding cloud
True. And she also threw spike bombs in that attack if I remember correctly. Lakitu complex anyone? Pic related.

>>164259
>>164265
>>164266
Holy shit, guys, did I just witness an educated argument about morality versus pragmatism? In my story? This soon? Huge success! Keep them coming, I enjoy reading all your opinions. And both sides have good arguments to defend their choice. But if you boil it down, it's all a matter of deciding if Kotohime is trust-worthy or not, and pondering how the choice will affect our reputation in the future.

Of course, everyone of you has the advantage of having all the time in the world to come up with a choice. If this was truly a split-second decision, I wonder what would you choose in the nick of the moment.

Then there are people like >>164265 who see through my intentions, and realize I'm just a pussy who doesn't want to write a bad end this early in the story. But when this prologue of sorts finishes, I'm pulling out all the stops. I promise.

Anyway, I'm calling the votes now:

Chivalrous dumb moralfags: 10
Smart heartless pragmatards: 5
Evil monstrous fuckwads: 1

Those are just affectionate nicknames. I still love you all. All of the homo.

To be honest, I thought the Pragmatic option would win. I didn't expect Anon to have a kind heart for damsels in distress, even if that damsel handcuffed you a few minutes earlier.

Also, 16 votes! Wasn't expecting so many readers when I started this. It makes me feel I accomplished something in my life for once! I'll try to keep up with your expectations.

Well, off to write the end of the Prologue. However, since holidays are over, and I have exams marked all over the calendary, this update will come later than these two last ones. Sorry for all the inconveniences.
>> No. 164303
>>164291
Proud to be the evil monstrous fuckwad.
Good read so far, although I must confess ignorance on who Kosuzu is. New manga character?
>> No. 164425
File 135819231311.jpg - (120.44KB , 505x691 , cedd37a7a2445c02b100717ff0afdb94.jpg ) [iqdb]
164425
>>164303
Don't worry, proud fuckwad; there will be more opportunities for you and the other Anons to unleash your Dark Sides. But for now... WHITE KNIGHT TIME!

Also, pic is the only picture I found on Danbooru that has only Reimu and Kotohime, without the rest of the PoDD cast. If only I could write kanji tags in Pixiv. And understand Japanese, too. Oh well, beggars can't be choosers.

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

Reinforcements will arrive in any second. You should gain as much distance from your pursuers as you can. That woman doesn't deserve being rescued after what she did to you. Even if you try, there's no guarantee you will be able to. The wall is breaking down, and might fall with you while you do it. You don't know if she will try to aprehend you again if you actually accomplish to save her. Those are only a few reasons why you should leave Kotohime hanging there and run away. Instead, you choose to listen to your heart and extend your arm to the policewoman.

"Take my hand!" you shout to her.

Kotohime hears you, releases a hand from the breaking plank and tries with all her might to catch your arm, but you're too high above for her to grab it.

"Are you insane!? Why are you helping her!?" says the voice.

Truth is, you don't really have a motive. But why do you need one to help a person in need? Maybe it's just that you were educated to be nice to people -especially to girls-; maybe it's because you don't want to live with the guilt of leaving someone to die; maybe it's that you want to prove everybody that, despite having a youkai inside your head, you're not a monster. But you are sure of one thing: nobody is going to die today, not by your fault.

"Come on, just a bit...!"

You stretch your arm as much as you can, but it's still not enough. You hear another loud crack; it's a miracle that the wall hasn't fallen down yet. The plank Kotohime is desperately holding onto starts to bend downwards - it can't hold much longer. You make a risky move: you get down from your sitting position, grabbing tightly to the pointy bamboo at the top of the wall with one hand, and letting your whole body fall down slowly. As you place a foot on a newly formed fissure for balance, you reach down to Kotohime, who finally manages to seize your arm tightly.

But as you feared, you can't lift yourself up with the weight of the woman hanging from your arm. The cracks in the wall are sounding louder and more frequently, and Kotohime's hand is starting to slip as well. If you only had a bit more of strength...!

"I guess it can't be helped. Here, I'll help you out."

As the voice speaks, you feel another surge of energy inside your chest that quickly runs through your arms. It's just the push you need; with the power the voice grants you, you slowly but surely lift yourself and Kotohime up with just one arm. Even with the added strength, it's still a taxing labour for your limbs, but nevertheless you manage to pull it off. Once you return to your sitting position, you are now free to use your two arms to get the policewoman up.

"Gah..." Kotohime tries to recover her breath when you sit her besides you. "Thank... you..."

Before you can answer, the wall shakes violently, almost making you and Kotohime lose balance and fall down. It appears the barrier has decided that it has stood up enough time already. In what is an almost reflex move, you yank Kotohime by her arm and leap towards the branch of the tree. Even with your support shaking under your feet, it's still an easy jump, even with the added weight of the policewoman.

Or so you think; you calculated the distance wrongly and put too little strength in the leap, and instead of landing in your feet on the branch, you hit it with your abdomen. You lose your breath upon impact, but before you slip off the branch you still manage to get a grip on it.

"Um, if it's not much trouble, could you...?"

Oh, yeah, Kotohime is still hanging by your arm. With a swing of the arm, you vault the woman by your side until she reaches the branch by herself. It's still surprising how can you move her around when your body is smaller than hers. Both of you sit upright in the branch and recover your breath, as you watch the wall fall down with a loud racket. As the power surge fades, you feel the strain in your extremeties, suffering the overexertion. This is going to leave you totally cramped tomorrow.

"Why... why did you save me?" asks Kotohime between gasps.

She doesn't look like she has the intention of attacking you like earlier. Still, you're careful not to stare in her eyes.

"Because... you asked me... I thought that was... obvious," you respond, out of breath too.

"You rob a store, but you help the cops? You're a strange criminal," the policewoman chuckles.

"And why aren't you arresting me now?"

"I swore to protect the people and maintain the order inside those walls," she points at the demolished barrier, "but right now you're outside, so you're out of my jurisdiction."

"Even though I blasted you and your men with magic, and then crushed you between the wall? You're a strange policewoman," you laugh in return.

"I get that a lot," Kotohime laughs with you. "Now, go, before I change my mind. My men will arrive soon after all this, and theycr won't be so lenient."

"She's right. We're already wasting precious time with idle banter," reminds the voice.

"I'll take your advice," you say, as you hop down from the branch and swiftly land in the ground. "I'm sorry for all the trouble."

"And polite, too. If only all the criminals were like you..."

She remains sitting in the branch, with no intention of moving from there.

"Are you coming down?" you ask her.

"I... think I'll stay here for and wait for my men to pick me up," Kotohime answers, after a second.

"I can catch you if you jump."

"I appreciate your gentlemanly offer, but I want to enjoy the chilly air for a moment."

"Really? I thought you had enough wind to last you a lifetime."

The policewoman, against your expectations, laughs heartily at your joke instead of getting angry.

"Well, I'll be going now," you say, trying to end the conversation. "And thanks for letting me go."

"We're even," Kotohime waves you goodbye. "Stay out of trouble, and don't let the youkai eat you! Oh, and don't you ever come back here, or I'll arrest you on sight, you hear me? Bye~!"

Hearing her say such a mortifying thing with that amicable smile on her face is... unsettling at best. You tale one last glance at your town, where you spent all your life. Now you're being chased out like a fox. A fox able to bite back, it turns out. In any case, you regret not saying at least goodbye to your parents and your friends, but it can't be helped. It was all too sudden; before you even know it you were already running for your life. And seeing how things look, you must keep doing it for a long while. To think that you aren't welcome in your hometown anymore is...

"That woman was much nicer than I expected," comments the voice.

"She was," you say, as you begin to run towards the woods. You're grateful that it derailed your train of thought before you wallowed in self-pity.

"You were very lucky there. Other people might have arrested you after that."

"Well, what did you want me to do? Leave her to die?"

The voice remains silent for a moment.

"Logic and survival instinct tell me that you should have, but... you know, it's funny. I'm actually glad that you chose to save her. Even though doing so could have meant our deaths."

"That goes to show that you're not as evil as Reimu thinks."

"Maybe... maybe not."

Although the voice sounds like it isn't completely convinced about your words of encouragement, you can still feel a sense of appreciation from it. It doesn't matter what the miko and the others think about the youkai; you've talked with it in your dreams and it played a vital role in your getaway. And despite having some strange quirks, you have the feeling it isn't a man-slaughtering youkai like the ones you heard about. In fact, the prospect of travelling far away from home to a place where humans aren't exactly welcome doesn't look so bad; knowing it will be always there to help you reassures you in these difficult times.

And being completely honest, you're also curious about what does it know. If you think about it from a certain point of view, it's almost as if you're about to begin an epic adventure in search of the knowledge held by an ancient race, like the heroes of lore. Except that instead of a hero, you're a felon wanted dead or alive, chased by the most dangerous person in Gensokyo. But hey, you've got a powerful youkai inside your head that grants you the power of the wind and superstrength when everything seems lost. What could possibly go wrong?

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

"Let me get things straight. You caught him by surprise, apprehended him and even handcuffed him. But instead of immediately bringing him to me, you decided to search his possessions."

"Yes."

"And while you were inspecting the book, he casted an illegal spell, broke the handcuffs, destroyed the wall and blew you and your men away."

"That's right."

"All the way to that tree?"

"Yup."

"And every single one of you were knocked out, so you couldn't chase after him. Is that what you're saying?"

"...Yes."

"Honestly, Kotohime... I don't know why are you covering him up, but at least make your lie more convincing, okay?"

"But it's the truth!"

"You can't fool me with such a blatant excuse. There was a span of one minute between the gust and the fall of the wall, meaning the wind didn't destroy the wall immediatly like you claim."

"Alright, alright, actually I wasn't unconscious. I tried to catch him as he climbed up the wall to escape, but the wall couldn't sustain our weights and began to break down. I ended up hanging on the edge, and I would have fallen to my death if he didn't stop and lifted me up. But before I could do anything, he was already gone."

"Is that it?"

"Absolutely."

"Your first story was more believable. Why do I even ask? He's escaped, and it's all your fault one way or another."

"I'm truly sorry. I'll take all responsability for this."

"Forget it. What's done it's done. I shouldn't have trusted you to stop a mighty youkai in the first place. If you want something done, you must do it yourself, after all."

"Why do you want to catch him so bad, anyway? He seemed like a nice kid, but we pushed him too far."

"It's the nice ones we must beware of. Specially the ones with powerful youkai inside their heads. I can't let someone like that going around. It's a danger for all of us."

"Well, they are now far away from the village. That's good, right?"

"When that youkai starts the next incident, I will kill you if the youkai spares you."

"That's cold. Speaking of youkai and villages, we need to do something about the wall."

"That's your problem, not mine. I've got a demon book to recover."

"No, this is more serious. A youkai might attack the village while we're repairing."

"They won't do that. The Rules forbid them."

"I'm not so sure. The Rules forbid them from attacking humans refuged inside the walls, right. But now that the wall is broken, they might think the villagers are 'outside', and since they're 'outside' the walls, they're permitted to feast upon them."

"What kind of twisted logic is that?"

"It makes sense if you think about it. Think of a bag full of wine inside a barrel of water. If that bag bursts open, the wine would spill and mix with the water."

"Okay, I get it, there's the possibility that a youkai puts on the smarty-pants and attacks the village. What's that got to do with me? Your men should be prepared to deal with them."

"Just to be sure, I'd want you to put some seals and amulets in the area."

"You realize that's going to take time, and that I will lose the kid's trail if I stay here, right?"

"Take it easy, Reimu. That boy won't cause troubles anytime soon. In fact, I think the feral youkai will give problems to him. And us too, if we don't seal the barrier soon."

"... Alright, I'll do it. But I'll go after him first thing in the morning. I just hope he won't get too far ahead meanwhile."

"Thank you, Reimu! I knew I could count on you!"

"I wish I could say the same. Man, Yukari's going to be pissed when she hears about this."

"Did you say something?"

"No, nothing. Let's get this done quickly."

>> No. 164426
File 135819238971.jpg - (646.08KB , 863x1200 , it's_sacchin_-_who_would've_guessed.jpg ) [iqdb]
164426
Part 2 of bigass update. I was surprised to see this part exceeded the 30k character limit.

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

Your room at Lord Tenma's palace, at night, was lugubrious and dark, as opposed to the lugubrious and illuminated lounge that it was in the day. But you don't want it in any other way. You always found it easier to concentrate in such a dismal place; the inspiration for your songs came naturally in the dark. After a long and extenuating day full of events like this one, there's nothing you like more than taking a quick shower, putting your pajamas, and dropping yourself on the futon, musing about whatever thing popped in your mind first.

However, when you open the door, you spot a number of differences in the room: first of all, the small chandelier is broken into glass shards on the floor, which explains why the room was even darker than usual. The papers and scrolls in your desk are more disordered than usual; some of them fell to the floor as well, and the contents of your inkpot spilled over the table. Truly an outrageous tragedy for your work, but that's not what you're worried about right now. The differences keep piling up: all the things in your shelves were more disarrayed than usual; some of your personal effects are missing, more than usual; your closet is open and your clothes are more scrambled than usual...

... and lastly, you notice there are more tengu assassins waiting in the shadows than usual.

Everything occurs in a split second. Just as you see the distinct glimmer of diamond cord going for your neck, your first impulse is to grab your aggresor by his wrists. You were taught that the trick of every fight is to strike the weakest point of your enemy. In the case of the unbreakable diamond cord, - the weapon of choice of tengu assassins because of its ability to cut almost anything with next to no effort- the weakest point is the user himself. In what is an almost reflex move, you invoke the power of fire dormant within you, and your hands lit up in fiery flames, scorching the assassin's wrists and making him shout in pain. You take this chance to strike an elbow jab in his face, and as the hit connects, you hear the sound of porcelain breaking, followed by an acute pain in your elbow as shards stick in your skin.

At least you're now free from the assassin's grasp. You step away from him and turn back to face him, while you take a defensive stance. The assassin is wearing the same costume than all the guest of the party: an dress uniform consisting of a white top with detached sleeves and black kimono pants, tied with a big golden belt made of silk - which means that your assailant was a high ranked individual among the tengu. A red tengu mask, with its characteristic long nose, concealed his face, but after your counter, the left half of it broke down, revealing ·/&$&·")"^^¨*^Ç´]{{[€{#@|¬€~#@. You recognize that face instantly.

"Oh gods. T&$("^, is that you?" you exclaim in shock.

"Damn it," T&$("^ spits in the floor. "This wasn't supposed to happen."

"What's going on? Why are you trying to kill me?"

You can't fathom the thought of your dear friend almost decapitating you with a diamond cord. She can't be that heartless, right? There must be some kind of misunderstanding.

"Ah, screw it. Stealth isn't my forte anyways," the tengu mutters. "Rin Satsuki, for all the crimes you have committed, I will give you death right here and right now!"

Nevertheless, her resolve to kill you is as cold and strong as the blade of the wakizashi T&$("^ got from her sleeve.

"What crimes are you talking about!? Come on, T&$("^, this isn't funny! We're friends!"

T&$("^ doesn't say a word. With a murdering intent overflowing from her left eye, she lunges towards you, sword in hand, at the speed of wind, and you-


suddenly wake up covered in cold sweat and ragged breaths. You feel your heart beating fast and hard in your chest, and your whole body sore after all the extreme efforts you made at the village, but above all else, a pulsating pain between your temples. You believe your head is going to tear apart if this keeps up.

"Easy there... it's alright... nothing's going to happen to us. Go to sleep. I'll watch over you."

You have the feeling you're forgetting something very important... but the voice's right; it's best if you rest as much as you can. Maybe the headache will go away too. You snuggle in your cape, trying to find a comfortable position in the hard soil and the giant roots of the tree you're sleeping under, and then you close your eyes. Just what was that dream...?

Your foot gets stuck in a small root protuberating from the ground, and you fall face first in the hard soil. You've been running for gods know how long, and you are extenuated from the wounds you recieved over these past days. But you can't give in to fatigue; otherwise you're done for. And now, more than ever, you couldn't afford to die. The history of your people depends on it. You stand up and begin to run again towards the woods, ignoring the pain in your body and the cramps in your legs. Every second you waste they get closer and closer. If they get you, it'll be the end not only for you, but for them too.

It's unbelievable, though. A few days ago you were enjoying your life as the regal musician of the Tenma's court, and suddenly your whole life turns upside-down, your town gets burned down to the ground, and now you, one of the last survivors, are running for your life, tasked with the protection of a book that holds the knowledge of your people, and chased by the most dangerous youkai of the land that seek to destroy you and that book. You almost feel like crumbling down under such pressure and cry until it's all over. But you made a promise to all of them. You can't stop now. You must keep going.

You hear a rustle in the bushes right ahead of you, and you stop on your tracks. Have they already catched up to you? So fast? Upon a more thorough look, you can actually see two brilliant scarlet dots between the branches over there... You were taught you must only use your powers when you were absolutely sure you needed it. But your current situation applies now, right? You fire a lightining bolt at the bushes, and they immediatly lit up in flames. Whatever there was there, it's already roasted. It might've been just an innocent youkai that just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, but you don't have time to feel sorry. You must keep goin-

You hear a rustle again, this time at your left. Scared, you instinctly fire another bolt there, igniting the plants around the area. But you hear the rustle again, from your right this time. In panic, you start to throw lightinin everywhere your heard a noise. But whoever is doing the rattle, it's moving extremely fast, so much you can't aim properly at it.

Before you know it, you find yourself trapped in a circle of fire you just made yourself. You quickly realize your huge mistake and curse yourself for such stupidity. Your predator knows it too. And it deems it the best moment to launch his attack. You hear the sound of wings right behind you, and just as you turn, you can see the beast about to pound you. The last thing you see are those huge, large fangs tainted with blood closing on your-


neck it hurts oh gods it hurts it hurts so much you can't stand it! For the second time in this night, you wake up suddenly from the nightmare drenched in sweat. There's still the headache and general soreness of your body, but all of that cannot compare to the burning sensation you feel at the side of your neck. It's like your vein is being punctured with two red hot needles, but when you touch the zone there's no blood flowing out like you believed.

"Okay, now seriously, that dream was all kinds of creepy."

Especially since you aren't one to have lucid dreams like that. In fact, you're pretty sure those weren't yours, but-

"Mine."

Of course. They seemed too real to be just dreams, but you haven't ever been at the Tenma's palace, nor have you ever been chased by a fearl beast. Yet. And you don't believe in premonitions, so that means they must've been the voice's memories.

"You sure had it rough, huh."

"So it seems."

"I wonder how you managed to survive all of that."

"Me too. But considering my current state, I'd say not too well."

"But seriously, a tengu assassin? Were you-?" And all of a sudden, you remember that important thing. "Oh! Your name! Rin Satsuki! That ninja tengu said it in the dream!"

"Huh? Oh, yes, it appears so," the voice's response is apathetic.

"You don't seem too... excited about this."

"There's a possibility it isn't my true name. You're assuming those were my memories."

"Well, whose were, then?"

"Remember what Reimu told Kosuzu at the library? I'm a compendium of all the knowledge the qilin have. It isn't too far-fetched to believe that I hold the memories of other people who are not me. For all we know, that memory of the tengu assassin might not be mine. I probably don't even know who she was."

"Now you're the one making assumptions."

"True. But you're taking something for truth when you have no evidence to support it, while I leave the door for doubt and second-guessing opened."

The voice was right. Regardless of if your assumptions happen to be true or false, the voice will never be wrong because it didn't take a stance. And that's what pisses you most about it.

"I don't care, I'm still calling you Satsuki."

"I told you that might not be my-"

"I don't want to keep thinking of you as just a voice in my head. I want to think you are a person, and if I give you a name it'll be easier for me, even if it isn't your real one!" you explain. "Or do you want me to call you Talking Thesaurus?"

"What? No, of course not! That's an horrible nickname!"

"Then you're Rin Satsuki for me. Period."

You can feel the voi- Rin's utter exasperation, but you stubbornly hold your resolve. You might have given up on a lot of arguments with Rin in the past three days, but you're not backing up from this one.

"Fine, call me as you want. We'll find my real name soon anyway."

"It's settled then, Sacchin."

"What!? Already shortening my name!?"

"Aha! You've just accepted Rin Satsuki as your name!"

"No I didn't!"

"Already shortening my name!?" you mimic Rin's voice, putting emphasis in the pronoun.

"But that's- I don't- you- Graaaaaaaaaaaaaaah! Alright, you win! Happy?"

"Very much!"

You can't help but start to laugh heartily, and soon enough she joins you. It sure does feel nice winning Rin in an argument, especially in such an important matter - even if Satsuki thinks of it as trivial. You feel extremely tired, but you still want to talk with your recently named companion for a bit:

"By the way, Rin, did you ever think of yourself as dead, inside a book?"

"Huh? Why do you ask that all of sudden?"

You don't really know, actually. Probably it's so that you can forget about those vivid memories for a while.

"Dunno, it just popped in my mind."

"Well, I actually thought about that a lot. You know, since I had so much free time in there. And I came to the conclussion that's it's pointless to be worried about it," there goes Sacchin, in full rambling mode, like when you first met her. "I mean, you probably think of it like it's being alive in a book, but you forget to take into account the fact that you're dead, which should make all the difference, shouldn't it?"

"Ehhhhh... yes?"

"You'd never know you are trapped in a book if you're dead, would you? It would be just like you were asleep in there. Not that I was able to sleep there, mind you. Because I lost my physical body and my brain does not need rest, rest you do need, might I add."

"Rest I will get if you keep talking like that, for sure."

"You asked for it, didn't you? Anyway, where was I? You'd wake up dead for a start, and then where would you be? In a book. That's the bit I don't like, frankly. That's why I don't think too hard of it. Because you'd be helpless, wouldn't you? Trapped in a book like that. I mean, you'd be in there forever, even taking into account the fact that you're dead. It isn't a pleasant thought."

"Especially if you're dead," you say while you yawn.

"Exactly! Now, ask yourself, if I asked you straight off, 'I'm going to stuff you in this book. Now, would you rather be alive or dead?' What would you say?"

"Why are you stuffing me in a book, in the first place?"

"You're learning fast," Rin seems impressed and pleased by your counter. "That's all good, but that question is for another completely different topic, which doesn't appertain us at this moment. Now, what would be your answer?"

You don't need to think much about that.

"I'd prefer to be alive, of course."

"Naturally. Life in a book is better than no life at all. You'd have a chance, at least. You could lie there thinking, 'Well, at least I'm not dead. In a minute somebody is going to open the book, read it, meet me in his dreams and ask me to come out.' Even if that chance is close to zero."

"As long as you have hope..."

"As long as you don't lose your hope, you can still be saved. It doesn't matter if you're alive, dead, or in limbo. I know it sounds cheesy, but that's what I came to believe while I was trapped. And it turned out to be true, thanks to you," concludes Rin.

"You're welcome. But I just wish you had your own body to muse about your things. I still want to have some privacy in my mind."

"And that's what we're going to do first thing in the morning," she says whole-heartedly. "But now, you need some rest. Good boys shouldn't be awake this late in the night."

Yeah, sure, whatever. Sleeping sounds like a good idea, but it's not because the voice inside your head tells you so. Not at all. It's just that you're extremely tired. That's it. Still, what Rin just said worries you a little, but you don't think too hard about it...

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

You wake up next morning with your whole body sore, but at least the headache stopped. You don't know if it's because of Rin, or just luck, but you weren't attacked or robbed by any fairy or youkai while you were sleeping. After going to a small creek nearby to wash your face and replenish your empty gourd, you go back to the place you slept last night and organize your limited inventory:

A cape. A map of Gensokyo. A compass. A gourd filled with water. A box of matches. And an undecipherable demon book capable of unleashing a mighty gust of wind. You are travelling quite light for a trip with no definite goal established. Not to speak of those damned handcuffs that crush your wrists. You must get rid of them as soon as you can.

"We'll deal with that on the way. Right now we should decide where to go. As we speak, Reimu and her men are closing on us," says Rin.

Yes, right. You must make a decision about which destination you will head off to.

"So, the Youkai Mountain, or the Scarlet Devil Mansion?"

You look at the map, and after pinpointing your approximated position with not much precision, you see that both destinations are more or less at the same distance from where you are... in opposite directions. Which regretfully means you can't visit both places in the same route.

"You have to consider how dangerous are both paths, how well will the residents recieve you once you get there, and what can we learn there."

On one hand, you have a mansion said to be the abode of vampires and powerful mages, surrounded by a misty lake full of belligerent fairies ready to play pranks on the unwary travellers. And in that mansions is Voile, the Great Library, from where the demon book came from according to Kosuzu.

On the other, there's a mountain inhabitated by youkai, the natural enemy of men, who are extremely territorial and will attack any human that dares to cross the mountains. But if that dream about the tengu assassin is true, then it's more than probable that there's still evidence left of the presence of Rin Satsuki, the Regal Musician of the Tenma's court. But given the tengu's long lifespan, that assassin must be still alive and kicking. It's like entering the wolf's den. Literally.

Then again, going to a vampire's home isn't a bright idea either...

"And getting caught by Reimu is even a worse idea, so I suggest you make up your mind fast."

[]Off to the Scarlet Mansion we go!
[]We're heading to the Youkai Mountains!
[]Even though we might not find anything useful, we could go to another place... (Write-in)


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

Here we are, with the first big decision of the adventure, where you choose where the first arc of this story will take place! I don't think I need to say this, but choosing one destination doesn't cross the other out. You can choose to visit it at a later time in the next arcs. If you survive long enough to see the end of the first one, that is.

I have two plots planned for the SDM and the Mountain, but you can still choose any other destination you want. I'm not forcing you to pick the two options I put, but it makes my job easier since I have things already planned from the start. Oh, and some places are just begging for a Bad End, so choose wisely.
>> No. 164428
[x]We're heading to the Youkai Mountains!

The vampires in the SDM would hand us to Reimu in a silver platter, or make us their plaything whereas the Tengu in the mountain are protective of their territory and they won't easily agree to outsider's demands, even if we end up as their prisoners.

Besides, it's obvious that Sacchin hails from the Youkai Mountain, and, while risky, we will surely get good information there. Besides, we might meet a curse specialist on the way up.

Finally, if all hell breaks loose, we can ask for asylum in Moriya's: a place that has all the reasons in the world to oppose Reimu.
>> No. 164429
[x]To the Mansion of Scarlet!

I suspect that we'll find less outright hostility at the Scarlet Devil Mansion, though it will be a fine line between Remillia selling us out to save trouble or trying to keep us.

In either case, however, I doubt that many will attempt to kill us outright.


One option that I might suggest otherwise, however: The Garden of the Sun. So long as we are polite and avoid harming any flowers, safety is possible, and who better to ask about Rin's history than one of the eldest youkai?
>> No. 164430
[X] We're heading to the Youkai Mountains!

Unless Remi isn't Reimu's friend in this timeline, I can't see the SDM ending well unless we manage to pique enough interest to buy the mansion's protection. The mountain offers the Moriya Shrine, which seem on paper like a safer option, even if the tengu don't care for people climbing their mountain.
>> No. 164431
[]We're heading to the Youkai Mountains!
>> No. 164433
[x] Circle around to the dimensional portal or portals behind the shrine.

These rifts, of which there are at least one and potentially four or more, were traveled through by Reimu in three of the five PC-98 games; another one up in the mountains was used in the fourth. Assuming they're still open, they lead to Makai, Hell, and the Dream World at least, all of which are outside the normal ranges of Reimu and Yukari.

Also, near the shrine is exactly where you wouldn't be expected to be.
>> No. 164434
[x]We're heading to the Youkai Mountains!

Pick your poison: Vampires or Tengu assassins?
>> No. 164435
>>164434
[x]We're heading to the Youkai Mountains!

I'm so happy I could whistle
>SUDDENLY TENGU ASSASIN'S FROM NOWHERE
>> No. 164437
[X] The Garden of the Sun
It calls to me.
>> No. 164438
Here's a list of the various places we can go to and an analysis of how would their inhabitants would react to the MC and Rin. Although most of you appear to have already made up your minds, I would like to provide a helpful tool to help our journey, based on what we know about Reimu and Yukari's involvement in this affair:

Bamboo Forest of the Lost/ Eientei
Eintei's agenda is relatively unknown, but I feel that they would not be inherently hostile to us since they should not be directly engaged in affairs of Gensokyo. However, if we meet Mokou in the Bamboo Forest, she may know from Keine that we are dangerous, and deal with us accordingly. As of now, there is no reason to go there.

Forest of Magic:
Its prominent inhabitants are sure to be hostile to us, as Marisa and Alice may be drawn into the hunt for the MC. Avoid at all costs without good reason.

Garden of the Sun:
I'm not sure how Yuuka will be portrayed in this story, as she may be sympathetic to an ancient Youkai or downright hostile/murderous due to our intrusion of her personal domain.

Hakugyokurou:
Paying a visit to a friend of Yukari's is downright suicidal and stupid. Youmu and Yuyuko have no reason to help us, and would probably try to insta-kill the MC upon meeting him.

Underground:
Based on the ancient agreement the Youkai of Gensokyo decided, I believe that this location would be the least hostile to us. Although we may be violating the treaty by bringing Rin to the underground, we can try to claim a sort of diplomatic immunity since the MC and Rin are both abhorred in the surface, like the rest of the underground's inhabitants. In fact, if we can use Rin's powers, we may be able to impress the Oni into bringing us into their protection, giving Reimu a massive headache when she's sent to root us out.

Moriya Shrine/Youkai Mountain:
I have very mixed feelings about this location. Even though Kanako is definitely not one who would be easily manipulated by Yukari, Reimu can go on the warpath and brawl her way past everyone and catch us if she gets wind of our latest location. Additionally, the Tengu are extremely xenophobic, and they may attempt to drive us away with lethal force even if they aren't hostile to Rin.

Sanzu River:
This area's prominent personalities may be helpful to our cause, since the Ministry of Right and Wrong is not allowed to interfere in the matters of the living unless somebody violates one of the natural laws of reality, even if a being posses a massive threat to Gensokyo. Shikieiki may be able to tell us why Rin is so abhorred, so we might as well approach her if it comes down to it.

Scarlet Devil Mansion:
We have few leads on what does the SDM's inhabitants want from giving Rin to Kosuzu, other then the fact that Patchouli specifically wanted Kosozu to have it. Ultimately, we may become a pawn or a sacrifice as the other voters in the story have noted.


Although most of my analysis is pure conjecture, I believe that my explanation is the best that we can hope to utilize for the time being until we receive additional information about why Yukari and Reimu want Rin destroyed.
>> No. 164439
[x]We're heading to the Youkai Mountains!

Of course we don't have to say "Hi, there's an ancient youkai that someone of your city tried to kill for some shadowy reason inside my head, may I meet your leader?".
There must be some kind of register or scholar somewhere in there that knows something, besides it would become a political clusterfuck over jurisdictions and factions, like the proverbial "Going south the border". Later we should look into ways of scaping to Makai or one of those sattelite realms where the (new) people that appears in later games come from.
>> No. 164440
>>164429
[x] The Garden of the Sun
>> No. 164441
>>164429
I think that I'll change my vote on further consideration.

[x]The Garden of the Sun
>> No. 164443
[x]The Garden of the Sun

Sounds interesting. Better than heading to people who may have tried to kill "her" or a mansion full of vampires anyway.
>> No. 164444
>>164440
>>164441
Are you the same person? It's for counting the votes later. Poll will be open for a long time, though.

So the Garden of the Sun, huh? Frankly, that option never crossed my mind, but now that you say it is an interesting place to visit, though you have apparently no reason to do so. I'm sure I can come up with something to happen there. Anyway, are you sure going there it's a good idea? People speak ill of the Youkai Moe, you know. Or maybe those rumours are too exaggerated? But then again, rumours always have a hint of truth lying among all the speculation... Hmmm...
>> No. 164445
[x]We're heading to the Youkai Mountains!

SDM is a little too obvious. Reimu may make the connection, so I'd like us to lay low for a while.

Garden of the Sun is interesting, but I'd rather us head there later, after we're more secure in ourselves. Right now, there's no good reason to.
>> No. 164446
I like this idea.

I mean in Gensokyo, there are few individuals that could be considered true neutral. And considering Yukari and Reimu want our heads. A lot of factions are going to begin to stir up.

However, Yuuka is one of the few that are as neutral as they come as long as you don't mess with her plants. Not only that, but she's also one of the oldest youkai around along with Yukari and others.

It'll be like a hero visiting a sage or wiseman to get their head on straight.

Well, as long as this is not bloodthirsty psycho Yuuka or something.
>> No. 164447
>>164444
I'm the first person.
If the admin wants to check I have an Australian IP.

Yuuka seems like a suprisingly logical choice.
1. She's a powerful Youkai on her own right and isn't going to sell us out to Reimu or Yukari.
2. She's old enough to perhaps have some knowledge.
3. The Tengu can't be trusted due to that vision.
4. (meta knowledge)She has a libary of her own
>> No. 164449
I actually forgot about that library.

The chances of her letting us see it are surprisingly slim though.

The rest are good points though,
>> No. 164450
>>164447
Sounds decent but terribly OOC. THe only decent reason is meta knoweldge and Yuuka is more risky than just going to the shrine directly.
>> No. 164451
>>164444

I am 164441 and 164429. The second post was to change the first's vote.

I would delete the post, but that is unfortunately not an option due to my not setting a password. Sorry.
>> No. 164452
[X] We're heading to the Youkai Mountains!

This seems to be the quickest way of obtaining information, even if it is suicidal.
>> No. 164453
>>164450
We have reasons to avoid the Tengu.
As a native we should have some idea of the politics of the place.

It would be helpful if Winged Ikaros could provide some of this basic knowledge that a native would be expected to know.

In terms of trying to find a place to hide from Reimu, Yuuka is someone who could protect us if we got on her good side.
>> No. 164456
File 135827348869.png - (137.65KB , 526x600 , 3733132_m.png ) [iqdb]
164456
>>164447
>>164451
Okay, duly noted. I was confused because it seemed like >>164440 was a message that got cut short by bad connection, but all is clear now.

>It would be helpful if Winged Ikaros could provide some of this basic knowledge that a native would be expected to know.
GASP! Someone called my name! Anon is in need of more info! This is a job for... *dundun dunuuuuuuun* the Winged Ikaros!

MC has three sources from where he gets all his knowledge. Namely:

1) The Gensokyo Chronicles: A compendium written by the Hieda family, aimed to the humans of Gensokyo. It's purpose is to divulge information about all the species that inhabitate Gensokyo, warning about the dangers such creatures pose to humans, and presenting several countermeasures to prevent fights and defend against them. Basically, what you can read in 'Perfect Memento in Strict Sense' is what the MC knows. However, all the information in the Chronicles comes exclusively from the Hieda's knowledge, and it's rumored that some youkai have appealed to Akyuu to describe them as being stronger than they actually are, so you should take the Chronicles with a grain of salt. Or however that idiom goes. You get me, right?

With this I'm implying that reading PMoSS is reccomended to have a clue about how to deal with some creatures, but I know from experience that reading that is quite a pain in the ass, and I suppose some of you don't have the time to read through PMiSS. So if you want to know something in detail, just ask me, and I'll resume what the Chronicles have to say about a species or an individual in particular.

2) Popular lore: MC has been described as someone who loves to read books. It can be assumed that he knows many stories and tales about mytical creatures and legendary heroes from the Japanese culture. And it just so happens that Gensokyo is a place where most of these fabled beings live. The thing is, to what extent are those myths and legends true?

You don't have to be majored in Japanese culture to follow this CYOA. Any popular tale relevant to the story will be most likely brought up by the MC himself, Satsuki, or another character. And speaking of Rin...

3) Talking Thesaurus Rin Satsuki: Your companion seems to be quite knowledgeable in many fields, from what she has said so far. Yes, she might be amnesiac, but if you manage to jog her memory somehow, she might reveal useful pieces of information, like she did at the Kirisame's shop. However, being trapped in a book for extended period of times makes the poor kirin fall behind in recent events. Meaning that Sacchin probably doesn't know anything about the Moriya Shrine -other than myths about the two gods themselves- the Scarlet Devil Mansion, the Myouren Temple, etc.

If you still have doubts about anything, holla if you need reefer ask me. I'll try to answer your queries as well as I can without spoiling too much.

Pic somewhat related. It's just that I like that smirk. Also, not saged because I think this is important information everybody should know.
>> No. 164466
Hey, Winged Ikaros. Could you provide information on what the MC knows about Yuuka Kazami and information Rin knows about her?
>> No. 164467
File 13583210842.jpg - (430.82KB , 600x839 , 7a757bb8d8c77a8862cd1cdb4371bad4.jpg ) [iqdb]
164467
>>164466
MC knows that there's a very dangerous youkai living in the Garden of the Sun, but as long as you don't disturb her or her plants, you should be okay. Rumors are that this youkai is merciless towards other creatures, packs a lot of power -even more than the usual youkai- and that she won't hesistate to use it. Other rumors state that she's said to be very old, and all youkai become less active with age, so she doesn't usually take the initiative to attack uninteresting normal humans on sight (unless you harm her flowers). This contradicts the first rumors about her fight-thirsty nature. All in all, Yuuka is shrouded in speculation, but everybody agrees that looking for a fight with her is an horrible idea.

About Yuuka's powers, it's said that she can manipulate flowers, but nobody knows exactly how does that ability work. At any rate, she's said to prefer overwhelming physical attacks over magic or youkai abilities. Also, her umbrella is said to be able to block ultraviolet rays, rain (duh), and danmaku bullets. Overall, an overpowered individual, even by youkai standards. One wonders if Akyuu was 'appealed' to describe Yuuka as that in her Chronicles. Pic related.

As for Rin... I'd like to save that for later use in the story, if the Garden of the Sun choice wins. It's totally not because I still haven't thought of a good plot concerning Rin and Yuuka. Not at all. But some ideas are popping in my head. But given that both Yuuka and Rin are old youkai, it's very probable that Sacchin has at least heard of the Youkai Moe~ too.
>> No. 164490
Apologies for double posting. I'm closing the votes tomorrow, because the next update will be short regardless of the destination chosen and I want to get it done before Monday, since my exams start next week. The recounting at the moment is as follows:

Youkai Mountain: 8
Garden of the Sun: 4
Alternate dimensions near the Hakurei Shrine: 1
Scarlet Devil Mansion: 0


The Garden of the Sun is an original and interesting option, but you have less possibilities of learning something about Rin and her curse than in the SDM and the Tenma's palace. On the other hand, it does seem like a better option if you want to play safe for the time being - as long as you don't piss Yuuka off, of course.

And about the portals behind the Hakurei Shrine... MC knows next to nothing about them; neither does Rin; and to get there you need to pass through the Hakurei Shrine itself, with all the implications it carries. However, those alternate realms, although very dangerous to tread on, are sure to hold knowledge and/or treasures that will greatly help you in this adventure. Speaking not as the author, but as another Touhou fan, I'd reccomend postponing the visit to Hell or Makai for later, as there are much safer places to hide. Consider the risk/reward ratio of going to those places in our current status carefully.

Dammit, this wasn't supposed to turn into another wall of text. I must be careful not to rant too much.
>> No. 164527
Triple post... I sorta feel forever alone here.

Votes called for the Youkai Mountain. We're going to pay a visit to the Tenma, and meet some interesting characters on our way there! But you'd better start thinking of a way to climb up the waterfall and entering Tengu Town without getting arrested/kicked out on sight.
>> No. 164530
Pet Momiji?
>> No. 164536
>>164527
Wolf ears!
>> No. 164563
File 135861797670.jpg - (1.13MB , 1600x819 , 9cc5ee0930f9f50006be981a35617a64.jpg ) [iqdb]
164563
You ponder about all the possible destinations you can go, and after considering all the pros and cons that you can think of, you finally reach a decision.

"We're going to the Youkai Mountain."

"We're paying a visit to the Tenma, then?" asks Rin.

"I believe we have more chances to find something relating to you there. After all, it's the only place we know for sure you lived in," you explain, referring to the dream about the tengu assassin.

"Ms. Knowledge might know something about my curse," she argues. "If we're lucky, she could even help us break it."

"I rather deal with tengu than vampires. And if my suspicions are correct, that tengu might know something too. Besides, she was your friend, apparently."

"Maybe she was at some time. But if a friend tries to strangle you from behind, you should distrust her friendliness."

"Well, duh. It's not like I have many friends out there, in any case."

"You'll make some on your way, I'm sure of it," Rin says. "But anyway, let's return to topic. Now that we have a goal, we have to plan our trip."

The road to the Youkai Mountains is long and dangerous. From where you are, you estimate that it will take you three days to get there on foot, if everything goes okay. But that's wishful thinking, for the Youkai Mountains is home to many youkai - obviously -, fairies and even lesser deities. It's very probable that you will come across at least a few of them. And since humans are not welcome in there, you should expect conflict.

After a few miuntes of planning, you make a route to the top of the mountain. The road to the foot of the mountains is an easy and short one, though you'll still have to be careful of unwanted encounters with the justice, now that you were a felon. The real hardships will come when you arrive at the Great Youkai Forest. It's heavily poblated flora doesn't allow the sun to penetrate, which makes it impossible to discern day from night. In top of that, it's home to fairies and lesser gods that do not take intruders kindly. After that, there's the Untrodden Valley at the base of the mountain, which it's said to be home of the kappa.

"We could ask them for help. I remember they are very friendly towards humans, and always ready to lend a hand," comments Rin.

And knowing their natural prowess with machinery and other crafts, it's very probable that someone knows of a way to get rid of your handcuffs. It would be a good idea to make a stop at the Kappa Village once you reach it. Though it doesn't appear marked on your map, you guess it shouldn't be far from the river that traverses the valley. After you dispose of the handcuffs, you will continue along the river until you reach the Waterfall of the Nine Heavens. That's where you expect things to go uphill.

"In a figurative way, Sacchin," you quickly add. "We're going uphill all the time."

"Aw, shucks," says Rin, after you deny her chance of making a witty comment.

The Waterfall of the Nine Heavens is where the wolf tengu perform their patrols, always vigilant and ready to use force to drive out any curious trespasser. And the waterfall itself is quite high and slippery, so you must expect a very arduous and dangerous climb. You should make all the preparations necessary to tackle this challenge at the Kappa Village. Everything beyond this point remains a mistery, due to the tengu's penchant for secrecy. Still, if the rumours about the tengu and kappa being technologically more advanced than the rest of Gensokyo are true, you figure that the tengu village and the Tenma's palace should be easy to spot. And you also expect Rin to remember useful information about the geography of the area once you get there.

"It's very probable that I lived in there, but I don't think you should rely on my memory that much..."

"But our goal is to recover the memories you've forgotten among other things, right? So you should try hard to remember anything. Don't leave all the work to me, okay?"

"... Right, I'll do my best too," Rin's voice has an underlying tone of appreciation. "Now, let's go! Lord Tenma's waiting, and the miko's on our tail, so we'd better set off at once!"

Now that you have your a plan, it's time you get moving. You pack your scarce possessions back in your bag and stand up. Even after getting a long rest, your body still feels sore, and you have troubles to keep a steady pace. Your pursuers are extremely powerful and relentless; you have no home to come back, and the place you're going is not exactly paradise.

But in spite of all that, you aren't depressed or afraid. You feel like you're about to embark on an epic adventure, walking the country like the heroes of the tales you've read and heard in your childhood. And with a powerful ally like Rin at your side, you believe that nothing will ever stop you.

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

Half an hour later, you stop for a rest at the shadow of a maple tree, completely exhausted. You let your body slump, leaning on its trunk, and spend a minute regaining your breath.

"So much for the unstoppable adventurer," snarks Rin.

"You don't know... how much... my body hurts... right now," you says between ragged breaths.

"Sure I do. I'm on your head, remember? I can see, hear and feel all you see, hear and feel."

"Then you must... understand... that I need a break... after that."

You grab your gourd and take a large gulp of fresh water to quench your thirst. You thought that after all that running the water inside it must have warmed up with all the shaking, but it turns out the gourd conserves the freshness surprisingly well.

"What worries me is why are you in need of a break."

"Why? Well, what would you do when a flock of fairies suddenly starts to rain bullets from the trees?"

"Defend myself, of course," answers Rin, as if it was the most obvious thing in the world. "I know humans are weaker than youkai, but come on, you got hit like five times, and that stream of bullets was easy to evade. And running away from them? That was utterly embarrasing."

"Then why didn't you help me?"

"I thought you'd know how to deal with mook fairies by yourself, at the very least. But it's clear I overestimated your combat prowess," the dissapointment in Rin's voice is painfully evident. "Be thankful that you have those... how did you call it? Spell Card Rules?"

"Yes, Spell Card Rules."

"Well, I don't know much about it, but from what I saw, it's like a barrier that limits the power of the magic casted, preventing it from being lethal. If it wasn't from it, those burns you're complaining about so much could have been a lot worse."

"It still hurts," you say as you caress your right upper arm, where a small burn was beggining to form in your skin under the scorched clothes.

"Now you're just being a crybaby."

"Hey!"

"Still, in my time there weren't any kind of Rules with so much power and area of effect," Rin ignores you. "Not that I remember anyway. Things have changed a lot..."

"How were things in your times?" you ask, out of curiosity.

"I'd gladly answer you, but unfortunately I don't remember which were 'my' times?"

"Well, the Spell Card Rules are very recent," you explain. "In fact, I think it was Reimu the one who created them."

"Oh really? Interesting..." Rin's voice trails off. "If those rules prevent a fighter from killing their opponents, then why is that maiden out for our blood?"

"No idea," you answer. "My guess is that once she catches us and defeats us in danmaku battle, she'll kill us in a way outside the Rules."

"Abusing loopholes on her own system, huh? We must be very important targets for the maiden to go to those lengths."

"Yeah..."

"But!" exclaims Rin. "It doesn't matter if the Rules prevent you from losing your life in battle if you can't defend yourself in the first place. And as you have proved to me..."

"Please, I don't want to recall that episode again."

"...you have no power or special abilities to put up a fight, am I right?" she continues. "You aren't strong; you aren't agile; you don't know magic... You can't be relying on my powers all the time!"

"I know, I know..." your sore body and your headache are a painful reminder of that.

"That's why I'm going to train you until you're able to survive by yourself, without my help."

"Come again?"

"You are powerless right now, but you have potential. With my current knowledge, I can make you a man that can stand for himself."

"Really?"

"If you train, that is."

"With a miko trying to kill us on our tails, I don't think I have time for that."

"It'll be just an theoric initiation crash course. What I'm going to teach you can be practiced while you walk."

You don't know what does Rin intend to lecture you in, but it's painfully obvious that, in your current status and despite your initial enthusiasm, you aren't capable of fending off even a bunch of fairies. It's definitely a good idea to listen to what Sacchin has to say. That said, is there a special ability you think is more important to improve than the rest?

[]To withstand the strain of my newly acquired physical powers and improve my chances of raw survival, my body must grow stronger and sturdier.
[]I should study magic if I want to master the elemental abilities of the kirin. Maybe one day I'll be able to use them without Rin's help.
[]The difference of power between humans and youkai is too great for me to overcome. Instead, I must become more charming and wittier to talk and cheat my way out.


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

This is the kind of decision that usually appears at the very beginning of most CYOAs. I should mention that whatever choice you pick, you can still use the other abilities as well, albeit with less efficiency/rate of success than the one you choose.

For example, if you happen to cross paths with a belligerent youkai, nothing prevents you to try to bluff your way out regardless of the specialization chosen, but obviously it'll be easier if you pick the third option. On the other hand, if a fight is inevitable, you can still try to defend yourselves even if you took the third option, but it'll be harder to survive than if you chose the other two. Also, there will be situations where being more proficient at physical combat will be better than being knowledgeable in magic, and vice versa.

In short, there are situations where one ability will be more useful than the others, so there's not a single best choice here. There will be chances in the future to improve the branch you choose now, as well as to start a different one altoghether, so don't think too hard about this even if it seems complicated. Just pick whichever you'd like to play as. Like always, if you have doubts, ask me.

>>164530
Do you really believe she'll let you pass if you pet her? In fact, do you think she'll let a human pet her in the first place? That's not to say you can't do it, though. If you take a certain route and make the right choices, maybe she'll open up to you in the future. Just saying.

>>164536
If you want to pose as a wolf tengu to enter Tengu Town, you should know that toy wolf ears alone won't make you a wolf in their eyes. There are more characteristics you have to bear in mind if you are planning on attempting such a feat. But it's an interesting idea, nonetheless; you just need to polish it more.
>> No. 164564
[X]I should study magic if I want to master the elemental abilities of the kirin. Maybe one day I'll be able to use them without Rin's help.

Mage route, please.
>> No. 164567
[x]Charm and wit.
CHA is the best stat. Besides, there's enough combat capable protagonists on THP, and we're also 'just a kid': lets have fun with that.
>> No. 164568
[]To withstand the strain of my newly acquired physical powers and improve my chances of raw survival, my body must grow stronger and sturdier.

If he's going to be on the run a lot, then it'll probably be better if he's in better shape.

We can vaguely help with the charisma part. Though it is a shame that we won't be as good at the Qilin abilities.

Still, it seems best to actually have the body needed to withstand the high strain we're most probably going to be put through.
>> No. 164569
[x]I should study magic if I want to master the elemental abilities of the kirin. Maybe one day I'll be able to use them without Rin's help.

Mages are always superior at everything, including dying.
>> No. 164570
[X]The difference of power between humans and youkai is too great for me to overcome. Instead, I must become more charming and wittier to talk and cheat my way out.
>> No. 164571
[X]To withstand the strain of my newly acquired physical powers and improve my chances of raw survival, my body must grow stronger and sturdier.

We're going to have to learn how to fall correctly, since it's a given we're going to end up on our ass more than once during the course of our journey. I'd also like to add that we should be wary of trusting the kappa. If the stories are to be believe they have a compulsion to drag people into the water and do horrible things to them.
>> No. 164573
[x]I should study magic if I want to master the elemental abilities of the kirin. Maybe one day I'll be able to use them without Rin's help.

Mage path y'all! This is Gensokyo, why the heck wouldn't we specialize magic in the land of fantasy?

Grammar nazi here, sorry!

>Everything beyond this point remains a mistery,
"mistery" should be "mystery"
>It's heavily poblated flora doesn't allow the sun to penetrate
What's "poblated" mean?
>> No. 164576
>>164573

Well, it's less what we want to learn. And more what we Need to learn to survive.

If we get exhausted just running from fairies. We're not going to survive long.
>> No. 164578
We need to know about the specifics about becoming proficient in magic, strength, and knowledge.

Will we need to utter an incantation before we are able to cast anything with elemental powers? Additionally, what extent will our powers reach? Will it just be control over lightning, fire, and the wind, or can we also manipulate the earth and water? Will we be able to utilize these spells in a feasible way as a sort of write-in when the situation comes? I'd like to think that manipulation of the elements is extremely versatile, but in certain situations, like in close-quarters combat or when the enemy has the element of surprise on their hands, it might be better to speak or brawl our way out. After all, if you held a dangerous mage at swordpoint, and he began to speak out relative gibberish, wouldn't you immediately stab him? Of course, we would have the temporary element of surprise in this opening stage of our quest, since the few humans who were known to have a proficient mastery of magic are Reimu, Marisa, Keine, and Kotohime. Aside from Reimu, her contacts, and everyone in the human village, nobody else should know that the MC can be a magic user.

If we have the MC choose to strengthen his body, how will it be improved compared to a human or youkai? Will he be as fast and strong as a youkai, or will he simply be better then a human? I highly doubt that the MC can withstand the level of damage most youkai can withstand, since humans are rather squishy creatures in nature. Of course, if he develops his agility to a superhuman level, he can easily evade most attacks, although certain moves like Youmu's 200 Yojana in One Slash, which can allegedly allow Youmu to hit targets thousands of kilometers away almost instantly according to her fun facts page on the Touhou Wiki, would be impossible for any mortal to evade.

Finally, how does becoming more knowledgeable help us in a confrontation or a conversation? Will you allow us to write in our own replies that it won't end well or will you give us more eloquent things to say back to the person speaking to us? It may become difficult for you or us to come up with an adequate reply, which would mean that getting more knowledgeable may not exactly help us as much as learning magic...
>> No. 164581
[x]To withstand the strain of my newly acquired physical powers and improve my chances of raw survival, my body must grow stronger and sturdier.


I want a character like MxO's where he uses his wits and physical strength to overcome magical stuff.
>> No. 164582
>>164573
I appreciate that! I know I tend to make mistakes and typos like that, and I find it helpful that you point them out so I won't repeat them next time. I intended to say "Its heavy flora", but I had a derp moment and used the sentence construction from my mother language, instead of proper English. And I think there's a better way to say that, anyway.

>>164578
Oh boy, where to start... The reason I said you didn't have to think too hard about this is because I haven't thought much about this. It was supposed to be more of a general ability, without delving into stats, ranks, or anything like that. But since you've asked, I guess I'm forced to explain it in more depth after thinking about this for a while. Alright, wall of text time!

First thing you must have in mind for this particular choice is this.
>"It'll be just an theoric initiation crash course. What I'm going to teach you can be practiced while you walk."
You are on the run, so you don't have time to study/train properly at the moment. What Rin will teach you is mostly theory to initiate you in the branch you choose. This means that whatever route you choose, this particular upgrade will be small, and won't make much of a difference. But it'll be noticeable. To be more specific:

If you choose to learn magic, Rin will teach you to control the power of wind you've adquired - in accordance to your choice a few updates back. But due to your current situation, you won't learn to fully master it for now. Answering your very first questions, this means you will be able to use the wind powers to a very small degree, like invoking tiny breezes. Clever write-ins can make this an useful ability even if it doesn't sound too impressive. For more powerful versions of wind attacks like the one you used at the village, you'll need to recite/incantate/declare a Spell Card. Also, proficiency in magic also improves your general performance in danmaku battles; more specifically, making your own shots a bit more stronger.

Choosing this route will allow you to learn to use the other two powers of the kirin in the future, with more power, speed and efficiency. If you keep pursuing the mastering of magecraft, you'll be able to use extremely powerful spells without the need to use incantations -you'll still be under the Spell Card Rules limitations, though-, or even learn a different branch of magic unrelated to fire, thunder or wind, depending on who you'll encounter in the adventure. However, be wary that, in Gensokyo, there are many people who spent centuries learning to use magic, so even if you become a powerful magician, you should still pick your fights carefully.

If you want to improve physically, you'll learn to harness the internal energy inside your body to control your newly adquired strength. In other words, Rin will teach you to use chi/qi. This means you'll become slightly faster and stronger, more resistant to physical damage and exhaustion, and your wounds will heal slightly faster. Also, everytime you decide to unleash your "superstrength" of sorts, the strain you'll suffer after its usage will be much easier to withstand. Lastly, being more agile means you can evade danmaku bullets easier.

Further specialization of this branch will make your blows hit harder, your body become more resilient, and your wounds heal even quicker, and also grants you the ability to survive injuries that otherwise would kill you. You'll also learn martial techniques to use your strength more efficiently, making your fists and kicks deadly weapons. This branch also opens the possibility of learning to fight effectively with weapons such as swords, knives, spears, bows, etc., if you find someone that can teach you with any of those weapons. However, this is not to say you'll become a second Master Asia or Master Samurai in Gensokyo. Honing your body and martial/weapon techniques takes lots of training, which you don't have time to do. And despite having youkai-like strength, your body is still human, so you should still think twice about fighting a youkai one-on-one only with your fists. After all, getting into a fistfight with an oni is definitely a bad idea, no matter how strong you are.

And the thrid option... that's the one I haven't though too much about it. Mainly, this will improve MC's eloquence, charisma, and wit. Write-ins are allowed for all three branches, and its outcome will be based more on how clever/logical they are than in choosing to become wittier. Instead, you'll notice the improvement in charisma on the dialogues through all the story. This means that, as you said, it'll be harder for me, the writer, and you, the voters, to come up with good lines/solutions. I don't know about you, but personally, I'm up for this challenge.

I am also planning on making Rin teach you to become a good actor, so you can apply this knowledge to mimic any personality or attitude in any conversation, or even disguise yourself as another person and be believable in your acting. Since Rin was a musician in life, she could also teach you to play musical instruments, for any worth it has. Bards and minstrels are capable to entertain people with their music and stories, so maybe you can use this to become closer to people, learn useful information otherwise you wouldn't know about, or what have you. And maybe, maybe, if you master this branch, you'll be granted a very special ability... Well, I don't know yet. This definitely needs more planning.

I hope this answers all your questions, curious Anon. If you still have doubts... well, you already know. I'm not going to repeat myself more.
>> No. 164584
[X] I should study magic if I want to master the elemental abilities of the kirin. Maybe one day I'll be able to use them without Rin's help.

It's an extremely difficult decision to choose between magic, strength, and intellect, and I know that the MC may put his newly developed skills to the absolute test soon. However, we have to keep in mind what we need to survive.

The magic option is intended to allow the MC to use trickery and guile, not pure strength and brawn. In my opinion, this is the most effective option for now; most youkai can easily overpower us as we are, even if we develop our strength, and Reimu and her associates will be relying on their decades/centuries of martial prowess to overwhelm us.

Magic, on the other hand, may allow us to create distractions and eventually hinder our opponents if we develop it enough. After all, we have to remember that our pursuers and the MC have totally different goals in a confrontation; the pursuers want to catch and eliminate the MC, while the MC merely wants to escape at any cost. I just don't feel that developing the MC's strength will help us that much in a confrontation, since I highly doubt that we can easily escape if Reimu knows exactly where we are. As I said, this is a difficult decision, and the merits of having strength and knowledge are very clear, but we also need to keep in mind that the MC is one lone human with virtually no training who is being hunted by several of Gensokyo's most powerful beings.
>> No. 164598
[X] I should study magic if I want to master the elemental abilities of the kirin. Maybe one day I'll be able to use them without Rin's help.
>> No. 164604
>Rin will teach you to use chi/qi. You'll become slightly faster and stronger, more resistant to physical damage and exhaustion, and your wounds will heal slightly faster, everytime you decide to unleash your "superstrength" of sorts, the strain you'll suffer after its usage will be much easier to withstand,you can evade danmaku bullets easier. Further specialization will make your blows hit harder, your body become more resilient, and your wounds heal even quicker, and also grants you the ability to survive injuries that otherwise would kill you. You'll also learn martial techniques to use your strength more efficiently, making your fists and kicks deadly weapons. This branch also opens the possibility of learning to fight effectively with weapons.


Good early boosts and excellent late quirks? Everything we need to endure long travels in the mountain, like this one ? More and better superhuman strength? This option is so much better than the rest that it isn't even funny.

Besides, there aren't a lot of physically-apt MCs in this site.

[x] Body
>> No. 164605
[X]I should study magic if I want to master the elemental abilities of the kirin. Maybe one day I'll be able to use them without Rin's help.
Seems to be the better option.
>> No. 164606
[x]To withstand the strain of my newly acquired physical powers and improve my chances of raw survival, my body must grow stronger and sturdier.

It just seems like it'd be the most practical one out of them all to me.
>> No. 164614
[x] To withstand the strain of my newly acquired physical powers and improve my chances of raw survival, my body must grow stronger and sturdier.

Mages are overdone. I want to see some physically adept MCs.

inb4 OMAE WA MO SHINDEIRU
>> No. 164623
I assume that the decision won't adversely impact us in the long run, correct? I mean, we still have Rin's powers in our hands, so we already have a potent magical power as long as we aren't ambushed or placed in a close quarters combat situation. Of course, my primary complaint about the later perks of the physical development is that even if we learn how to shoot with a bow and arrow and learn how to fight with other melee weapons, our ability to damage the enemy in a danmaku battle/no holds barred skirmish is extremely limited. After all, it might be a little awkward for the MC to charge an enemy with a sword when our adversary can simply blaze away with danmaku and force us back or get hit.

There's a reason why ranged weapons like danmaku are naturally superior to swords and knives, and we need to acknowledge that if we overcompensate in physical, we'll be extremely unbalanced against other hostiles who are proficient in magic use and physical combat. For example, a wolf tengu like Momoji can easily clash with us in close quarters, then run a small distance away and hit us with a barrage of danmaku so that we can't hope to hurt her.
>> No. 164624
>>164614

We actually had a protagonist use Hokuto Shinken. Yeah...it was a train wreck. Very enjoyable and deliciously drama drenched train wreck.


[X] Magic and Kiribati vote. Sorry, my phone is touchy right now.
>> No. 164625
Kirin. Damn phone is a pain in the ass sometimes.
>> No. 164637
That's the thing. You shouldn't plan on using Any of these upgrades to fight at all, or at least not with the intention to win anyway because we're human.

These powers are for us to use to try and Hide and Escape with.
>> No. 164646
For the record, we have 7 magic votes, 6 strength, and 2 charm votes. Unless we have another batch of readers sitting about who haven't voted for some reason, this is all we're probably going to get.

I understand the reasons why each side believes that the MC should follow that route and why charm was an extremely lonely vote. We all prefer options which produce somewhat immediate results, after all since there are concerns that the MC needs to be adequately prepared to meet any challenge he comes upon. However, there is one thing that I would like to remind you all that is extremely essential for the course of the MC's journey no matter what choice is picked:our insight.

For a stealth situation such as infiltrating the Tengu village or another heavily guarded area, no amount of magic or strength can possibly compensate for an oversight of a subtle alarm or trap. If the MC is detected, it won't matter how skilled he is in physical combat or the arcane. If a dozen professional fighters swarm him from multiple angles, it is guaranteed that we will not win. Even master at the blade cannot hope to fend off a much larger force without being attacked from behind, and a sage of the arcane will find it nigh impossible to annul the attacks of multiple skilled magic users who are prepared to kill without hesitation.

This applies to every other situation too, as we are alone and in constant danger of being located by Reimu/Yukari and her associates. No matter how much we dedicate ourselves to martial combat, the MC will probably be incapable of salvaging the situation since his potential enemies are working together and he is all alone. I cannot emphasize this more then I already have, but I hope to remind you all that combat isn't typically where two powerful individuals duel each other while the rest stand by and applaud. For example, if the tengu sentries intercept us and try to drive us away outside of the Spell Card rules, they won't have one of their number fight us while they provide overwatch, they'll attack us as a group. This is where the importance of the nuances of the three abilities come in, and this is where it becomes painfully apparent that no matter what we do, we must avoid detection and minimize 'chivalrous' combat.

The MC is not as strong or agile as most beings in Gensokyo, and if he gets attacked by a group of powerful individuals, he literally has no chance. So what if he waves about a sword and run a few of them through with a blade, the rest will quickly overwhelm him by sheer numbers and firepower. So what if the MC can use magic to blast them away with a gust of wind or zap a few of them with lightning, the rest will still unleash their power on him and rip him apart as he desperately tries to fend off their overwhelming attacks.

Right now, all we have is a cape, a map of Gensokyo, a box of matches, handcuffs which we definitely want off at the first given opportunity, a demon book with relatively unknown powers, virtually no physical/magical/charm attributes, the insight of the collective readership on this story, and a writer on board who all but stated that the consequences of our actions are going to get a lot more devastating. If we can't even prevent unfortunate incidents from happening with our insight from the reading, how can we even use our future attributes to our advantage?

By the way, since I'm assuming that the MC's still only human at this moment, doesn't he have to answer the call of nature at some point? Just saying.
>> No. 164647
[X]I should study magic if I want to master the elemental abilities of the kirin. Maybe one day I'll be able to use them without Rin's help.

This is the Youkai Mountain route. First we acquire wind magics. After this, we soon reach Kourindou. It is crucial that we use that brief window to obtain the Kusanagi, preferably through means more legal than simple theft. Later, as we pass through the Tengu Village, we will have multiple opportunities to raise their opinions of us; at the end of that stage, we must have this score high enough so that Tenma gives us the Tengu Fan. Using these three items, we will then face down the final boss of the route: Yasaka Kanako. By empowering our wind abilities and defeating her with her own element, we cause her followers to lose faith in her power, toppling her status as chief wind god of Gensokyo and allowing us to seize that position as the one who defeated her. As such, we will be in a role with enough clout that Reimu can't immediately come after us, allowing us the opportunity to expose Sacchin's true nature to Gensokyo. Our divine status allows us to manifest her as an avatar of ours, letting her walk Gensokyo once more.

True End Achieved.
>> No. 164648
>>164646
I actually don't vote at all unless it is a choice that interests me greatly.
I was the first one to piss against the tide in favor of going to the Garden of the Sun for instance. This choice, however, does not interest me enough to make it a tie just to piss people off.
>> No. 164651
>>164647

I'm not sure what I just read...

Since this is probably trolling, I'm not going to bother trying to contest the various points in your post. Maybe if the plot and characters were far simpler then they are, the story would progress like what you just suggested. In fact, it appears that you believe that this story is structured like a simple visual novel or the like with your 'True ending achieved' statement. I would like to tell you something. Until you understand the difference between THP and visual novels, you shall be harassed/ignored by Anon until you either learn the error of your ways or never speak on this site again.

I may be overreacting, but it's really late, and I'm just amazed about the things that can appear on this site just when I was thinking that the people around here had become fairly rational.
>> No. 164654
>>164647
This is dumb. Yet somehow, well thought out. If this OC was in a Touhou game, this is the kind of plot that would be followed
>> No. 164656
[X]The difference of power between humans and youkai is too great for me to overcome. Instead, I must become more charming and wittier to talk and cheat my way out.

Talking route please, most of the powerful touhous are very cultured and would probably appreciate someone with a bit of wit and charm more than some runaway upstart with a little power he got from a magic book.
>> No. 164659
>>164604
And this is exactly why I don't want to explain options in full detail like I just did: because I haven't planned the powers in full detail, and people like you will think that one branch is much better than the others, when it actually won't be. This is not a tabletop RPG; I don't feel like making a full-fledged chart of abilities and stats for a CYOA where plot is more important. Just knowing that there will be situations where one ability makes resolving a situation easier than the others, and that you must discern which is it for every instance, is enough for this story.

>>164623
It's not that choosing one branch will harm you in the long run. It's just that it'll make some situations much easier to deal with, and for others it will be a handicap. For example, if you decide to rescue a poor girl trapped under a rock, it's obvious that being strong is the easiest way to perform such a task. However, if you decide to be a mage, you'll have to come up with another not-so-obvious way to lift or destroy that rock - maybe calling lightning to pulverize the stone. And if you go with charisma, you'll probably need to convince a passerby or a companion to lift that boulder for you.

However, even if you are physically strong, you can still try to use magic to destroy the stone if you wish to, but it'll be harder for you than for a mage. Or if, for any reason, you want to save strength, you can still ask someone to do the job for you. But maybe, because you lack charm, they'll reject you and say 'well, you look strong, why don't you do it yourself? I don't have time to deal with the likes of you.'

So it's not like choosing one branch will completely impede you from dealing with problems. Resolving situations is entirely possible with each one of the three abilities; it's just that you, the readers, will have to come up with ways to use them to their full extent.

This doesn't mean this particular example will happen in story. Or maybe it won't. Who knows.

>>164614
Nah, no OP techinques for you. But if you master one branch you'll get neat abilities that, while they still won't assure you an easy victory, they'll be invaluable in dire situations. On the other hand, you might want to become a jack of all trades to be prepared for every possible situation.

>>164646
This guy understands what is this all about.
>doesn't he have to answer the call of nature at some point? Just saying.
Yes, he does. You picked the gourd, so thirst won't be an immediate problem - smart thinking there -, but you still have to take care of your own body for other neccessities. But please understand that I will skip all "take a piss/dump" options. Nobody wants to read that, I think. At least in /th/. Go to /at/ if you are actually interested in those things you sick fucks.

>>164647
mysides.jpg
But in all honesty, you weren't 100% wrong in your guess. Don't want to spoil anything, though. Still, even if you have the Kusanagi sword and a tengu fan, fighting Kanako is not a good idea. You also forgot to include Sanae and Suwako in the equation. And even if you actually manage beat them (yeah, right), something tells me that people won't be happy to see Satsuki around. After all, she was sealed for a reason, right?
>> No. 164664
As for now, votes go as follows:

Strength: 6
Magic: 8
Charisma: 3


Thanks to >>164646 for the previous recounting. Like he/she says, I also doubt there will be more votes -17 total is already a high number-, but I'll leave them open for a few more hours in case someone lurking in the shadows suddenly decides to vote, or if you want to change your votes, or what have you.
>> No. 164666
[x] The difference of power between humans and youkai is too great for me to overcome. Instead, I must become more charming and wittier to talk and cheat my way out.

Because charisma is awesome.
>> No. 164675
>>164666
Pissing against the tide, sir
>> No. 164677
>>164675
Failing epicly to sage, sir :V Besides, those who fight against the established are the true heroes, and deserve at least a little respect for wasting their votes in such a futile manner.

I'm closing the votes for magecraft. In the next installement of Gensokyo's Public Enemy: the basics of Wu Xing, the whims of the wind, and other flapdoodles. Stay tuned!
>> No. 164705
File 135919508741.jpg - (37.59KB , 160x160 , the_5_elements.jpg ) [iqdb]
164705
Incoming massive infodump about magic, elements and shit you don't have to memorize. Just a heads up. And I expect many failures at formatting, since I used bold and italics a lot here. Let's see how this goes...

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"If we go by the tales of old, qilin have quite a lot of abilities. Let's see... they can wrap their bodies in fire, they can call thunder upon the guilty and the wicked, they can walk on grass without disturbing it..."

You recall Kosuzu's words back at her house, and then you remember the moment you were ambushed by Kotohime and her guards. That sudden surge of energy as you read the line from the book, and then that unnatural gust of wind that appeared from nowhere and blew them all away. It could only be...

"So you're interested in learning magic?" says Rin, seeing through your intentions.

"Gensokyo practically runs on magic. It's logical that I should train in magic too if we want to survive," you explain.

There are plenty of other reasons, but that about sums it up, you believe.

"There's just a little problem..."

"What is it?"

"I don't know magic per se. My control over wind is not something that is taught in a book, so..."

Oh, great. There goes your expectances of becoming a mage.

"Wait, I'm not finished," she continues. "Actually, qilin are born only with natural dominion over lightning. Our knowledge of fire and wind are acquired abilities."

"Eh? But didn't you just said...?"

"You humans need to use incantations and spells to invoke the forces of nature. But we youkai are part of it. Some of us are personifications of a facet of nature. That's why we can use the elements with such ease," Rin explains, as if it was obvious. "And all the elements of nature are related to each other in one way or another. So it's not rare that, once you understand that relation, you begin to understand how other elements work."

"I don't get it," you say, confused. That was way too much information in a short time for your brain to process it.

"Get up. You've rested enough," Rin's voice turns stern all of sudden.

"Ehhhh?"

"I'll explain on the way. We can't afford to waste more time idling."

You let out a long sigh, pull your body up with effort, and resume your walk. It's not after a couple of minutes that you can see the end of the forest. You haven't noticed until now, but between the midnight runaway and your 'tactical retreat' from the fairies, you've covered a lot of miles; much more than what you thought you could. Ahead lies a long praerie that extends as far as your eye can see, with hills peppering the surface, and the Youkai Mountains standing tall in the horizon, scratching the blue sky. Some solitary maples break the monotony of the grass-filled scenery. The resemblance with that varren scenery where your first dreams with Rin took place doesn't escape you, and you wonder if there's a connection between both. Given that Satsuki claims that she was a musician under the Tenma's patronage, it'd be logical to think this praerie at the foot of the Youkai Mountain was an usual sight in Rin's life.

But making wild guesses doesn't make the road any shorter. You estimate it'll take you half a day to reach the foot of the mountain at a good pace - a pace you don't think you can keep for long. And worst of all, until you get there, you're in plain sight, with nowhere to hide in case you're spotted. You'd do well in listening to Rin and get moving. At least the road is an easy one, with no sudden slopes and bad terrain on sight. You expect this to change once you reach the mountains, so you'd better enjoy this trek while you can.

"Are you familiar with the Five Stages?" Rin asks, after a while.

"The Five Stages? Hum... World, Water, Fire, Wind and Void?"

"No, those are the Japanese Five Elements, the godai. I was talking about the Wu Xing."

"[i]Wu Xing
? Sorry, I haven't heard of it."

"Of course. I wouldn't expect a Japanese boy to know about the Chinese Five Stages, even if they're closely related," Satsuki remains meditative for a few seconds. "What about the gogyo?"

You recall reading that term some years ago in a book.

"Ohhhh, those ones! Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal and Water, right?"

"Yes, exactly! That's how you Japanese call the Wu Xing, right? Those elements explain the interactions and the relationships between many natural and social phenomena. It's also the basis of Feng Shui, astrology, traditional medicine, music, military strategy, martial arts... and elemental magic, which is the case that appertains us," explains Rin. "What else do you know about the Wu Xing?"

"Not much. I only read a small part long ago. But I remember that the main difference with the godai is that, instead of presenting each element in ascending order of power, the Chinese Stages are cyclic."

"Cyclic in what sense?"

"That... I don't remember."

"Listen well, because this is very important in order to understand our magic. There are two cycles in Wu Xing, which governs the interactions between the Five Stages. We have the sheng, the generating cycle, usually describing the state of nature. Starting with Wood, the period of growth; continuing with Fire, the period of flowering; then comes Earth, the period of fruition; Metal, the period of harvesting, and finally Water, the period of stillness. Do you notice how you can swap the Five Stages with the seasons of the year? Spring, Summer, a transition, Autumn and Winter."

"Hold on, you're going a bit too fast there. Why is the order like that? Is this just another way of giving names to the seasons?"

"No, no, no, that was just an example. Seasons are but just another phenomena explained by the Wu Xing. Maybe you'll understand it better with a small memory jog."

"A memory jog...?"

"You rub two sticks of wood to start a fire, yes? Or if you prefer, you use wood to feed a bonfire. Fire creates ash from the wood, which becomes earth."

"Ah, I see where are you going."

"With time, earth becomes metal," continues Rin. "Once metal is given form, it can carry water as a bucket. And water nourishes wood. There you have it, the cycle of creation."

Looking at it like that, it does seem reasonable. You still don't understand what does each 'Phase' stand for, and you don't see what has all this to do with the power of wind, but you expect Sacchin to delve on that soon.

"So what about the other cycle?" you ask.

"Yes, ke, the overcoming cycle," nods Rin. "While the sheng explains the relations of begetting and spawning, this one is about the control and restrainment each element has over another. Starting with Wood again, we have the roots that part the Earth; the Earth that absorbs water and turns into mud; the Water that extinguishes fire; the Fire the melts metal, and the Metal that chops the wood."

"The Five Phases, the cycle of creation and the cycle of destruction..." you repeat.

That's quite a lot of information to process, and you don't seem to get closer to understanding the true nature of Rin's magic.

"So what you're saying is that in a magic duel, Fire overpowers Metal, but is beaten by Water?"

"No, the overcoming cycle has nothing to do with elemental weaknesses or nothing of the sort," says Rin. "No matter how many fire spells you know, a sword to the chest will still kill you, if that's what you mean. And even if you 'overpower' Metal with Fire, molten metal hurts like hell. Likewise, a kappa expert in water magic will also die if you throw him to a lava pool."

"Well, that's an understatement," you say while you grimace. Picturing the image of someone melting to death in a volcano wasn't a good idea.

"An understatement you didn't consider for a second! This is the kind of rushed thinking that gets you killed," Satsuki reprimands you. "Even if you have the advantage in a fight, do not think for a second you've won. The battle's not over until your opponent is dead or unconscious. And I'd be still cautious. Nowadays magic can cross the boundaries of life and consciousness very easily."

Control of the subconscious. Hypnosis. Spiritual possessions. Necromancy. If you think about it, there are many, many branches of magic that deal with those two areas. And you're sure there are more obscure ones that you haven't heard of.

"But we're digressing," says Rin suddenly. "Here, I'll show you something. Is there anybody nearby?"

You look ahead, around and behind you.

"Nothing but dust, grass and hills," you answer. "Why? Is this some kind of forbidden knowledge noone can see?"

"Not really; it's just that it'll take a while. Now, could you please draw a pentagon in the ground?"

You crouch where you stand, and with your finger, you do as you're told.

"Okay, now what?"

"Draw a circle that circumscribes it. And after that, starting from Wood in the upper vertex of the pentagon, place all the Five Phases clockwise following the sheng cycle."

"So is this a test to see if I understood everything?"

"More or less."

You draw the circle in the dust, and then you follow Rin's instructions; the five Japanese characters for Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal and Water are all placed in order on the pentagon's apexs.

"Good, I see you remembered it correctly," Sacchin praises you.

"That trick you taught me is useful," you answer, shrugging your shoulders. After all, it wasn't that hard to remember.

"Now comes the good part. Draw lines tying the Phases again, but this time following the ke cycle," orders Rin.

"Alright..." you begin to draw the lines in the ground. "Wood parts Earth... hum... Earth abosrbs Water, Water extinguishes Fire... Oh!" when you finish, the resulting drawing surprises you. "Is this-?"

[i]"Congratulations, you just made your first magic circle!"
giggles Satsuki.

A pentagon and a pentagram enclosed by a circle, the most basic example of a magic circle used for rituals and incantations. And if you erase the pentagon and change the names of the Phases with the Five Japanese Elements, you'd get the Akasha Pentagram, another type of magic circle from western paganism. Who would have thought that all that mumbo-jumbo about Phases and cycles would tie so nicely with the magic you've read about?

"Makes sense..." you mutter. "But wait a minute, how come there isn't any magic going off around here? Did I do something wrong?"

"Words and pictures without meaning and understanding have no power. Since this is all so you can grasp the concept of Wu Xing, this magic circle doesn't work as an incantation."

"Then what happened back at the town? I still managed to cast a spell, but I didn't know about all this."

"At that time I lent you my own understanding of Wu Xing. I also manipulated your life force a bit to enhance the spell more."

Rin manipulated your... life force? That sounds unsettling.

"I understand your worries, but I'd never mess with your own qi in such manner," says Rin, reading your thoughts. [i]"And even if I wanted to, it's still very difficult, because I'd be manipulating the life force of a human, which works very differently from a youkai's qi, so... yeah, even if I'm inside your head, I can't use your own qi perfectly. That's why I'm being so pushy with you learning the meaning of Wu Xing, so that both your mind and your body work in unison to use your physical and magical abilities to your full extent."

"So... once I understand how the Phases work, I can make functional magic? More powerful than that spell"

"Don't rush it, boy. You've still ways to go before you can even think about that," admonishes Rin. "Besides, we youkai don't bother with magic circles. It all comes naturally from understanding. Rather than using magic circles to invoke elements, the elements take the form of magic circles when we call them, since it's the most effective way of transforming and directing magic, and nature always takes the most effective path."

"... Come again?"

"Ehhhhhh, now I'm getting too ahead. Anyway, the important thing now is that you understand the concept of Wu Xing. It's the base of the natural magic that all youkai use. Once you understand this, the doors to learning the way of the Five Phases will open for you," concludes Rin.

"All the elements of nature are related to each other," you repeat what Rin told you some minutes ago. "So once I understand how a Phase works, the others can be learned through these relations?"

"It isn't as simple as that, but basically, yes, you're right," Rin answers. "That's why we qilin are able to control the wind and the fire even though we were only born with power over lightning. And it's also why some tengu can use water in their spells even if they're alligned with wind, and why oni could control fire and metal too if they ever bothered to learn magic."

"You just said 'lightning' and 'wind', but they aren't in the Five Phases," you point out.

"In godai they fall under the 'Void' and 'Wind' elements respectively, but in Wu Xing they're derived from 'Metal' and 'Wood'," she explains. "It must be confusing for you since you're more familiar with the Japanese scheme."

"Are there any differences between them apart from the names?"

"Some concepts are slightly different, such as the ascending order of power that you pointed out earlier, the distribution of the elements being closer to a compass rose with Void at the center... But leaving the Void aside, the meaning behind the Japanese elements and the Chinese Phases are fairly similar."

You remain in silence, ruminating through all the knowledge Rin is feeding you. You ponder if, since both Wu Xing and godai are similar, you could apply what you already know of Japanese elements for what Rin is about to teach you. But after a while, you decide against that, seeing as you aren't actually a mage, and that letting Sacchin teach you from zero will correct any mistakes and misconceptions you may have. Erasing with your feet the 'magic circle', you resume your way through the hills.

"Then I guess you're going to teach me how to use 'Wood' first, right, Sacchin?"

"If we had more time, I'd continue on the applications of the Wu Xing theory, but since we don't... Yes, I'll teach you the Wood phase first," she responds.

Alright, now the real thing begins!

"First of all, what did you exactly feel when you sang the spell from the book?"

You close your eyes and relive that memory. How you understood the meaning of the green line in the book, how you felt the power inside your chest, how the words flew from your mouth without you knowing if you were saying them or not.

"A growing power, craving for release. The Wood element is one that seeks always to grow and expand," Rin explains. "Wood is the matter's growing stage. It's not unusual that in some books it's called the Tree stage, because of the resemblance with the growth of a plant. It also stands for springtime, the east, the planet Jupiter, the color blue and green... and wind."

"That's why you said wind is derived from wood?"

"Yes, the wind also seeks to expand everywhere, like a tree. Wood heralds the beginning of life, represented by springtime and buds carried by the wind... Some even say that Wood, and therefore the wind, is actually the earth's own life force."

"In essence, Wood is growth," you conclude.

"That's oversimplifying the matter, but it's a good approximation. As such, people and youkai with Wood attributes will be expansive, outgoing and socially conscious, and they tend to be generous, cooperative and idealistic."

"Because Wood it's the growth and expansion of life, Wood people are also lively and active."

"Exactly! Now you're starting to understand it."

"But how exactly is this going to help me use the wind?"

"Everytime you call the wind, you need to have in mind how it is, how it behaves, you need to get in its mind." Rin explains. "In other words, you have to act like the wind, become the wind."

"Now you're just spouting nonsense."

Getting into the wind's mind? Acting like the wind? Becoming the wind? How are you supposed to do that? What does it mean in the first place?

"I'm not expecting you to understand it right away. In fact, many youkai spent decades trying to control the wind without success. Just ingrain this on your mind and ponder about it from now on. You need to spend time trying to grasp the true meaning of everything I told you."

"Wouldn't be easier if you just taught me a couple of spells?"

"No, no, no, you don't get it. Of course it would be easier to do that, but then the point of all this would be moot. Using spells to invoke the wind is like using a fan to air yourself in a hot day. Why would you do that when you can change the course of the wind itself to blow lightly in your face?"

"Then why did we use a spell at the town?"

"Well, that's... because sometimes using a fan is faster and more convenient, after all," answers Rin, her conviction wavering.

"So my point is proven; instead of wasting time with-"

"No! Why won't you see it? That was just an emergency!" exclaims Rin, exasperated. "If you keep calling the wind without understanding it, you'll have unpleasant surprises in the long run. Mainly, you could find that the wind won't obey you even if you use the correct incantation."

"And why is that?"

"Normally, that's something you must find out by yourself through study, but..."

Rin remains silent for a few seconds, searching for the right words.

"Unlike the other elements, the wind doesn't have a name."

"... What?"

"The wind never settles for a name, it always changes. The wind wants to expand, to grow, to search for nex experiences. That's why every time you invoke the wind, you must learn its current name."

"And how I'm suppossed to do that?"

"Through understanding what's the wind, and how it behaves. Names and spells are only a convention to call things faster and easier. But what truly matters is the meaning behind the names - who are you referring to."

"I don't understand."

"There are many languages in the world, and many ways to refer to the same thing. But the thing itself is the same, no matter what name do you call it. That's what you must have this in mind every time you invoke the wind, or any other element for that matter."

You think hard about it for a while, but you can't manage to wrap your mind around all these concepts, completely alien to you.

"I still don't get it."

"Like I said, you can't hope to understand everything in half an hour. You must reflect on this for a long time. Until you realize the meaning of my teachings, I can't teach you to use the wind," concludes Rin.

You and Satsuki remain in silence for a couple of minutes, you thinking about the nature of the wind, and Satsuki minding her own business, probably doing some memory lane on her own. And in the middle of your mental workout, your stomach takes this moment to remind you that your body needs care too. Now that you think about it, you haven't eaten anything since yesterday's lunch. After almost twenty four hours, your hunger is outrageously great, to the point it's almost painful.

"Yeah, training your mind is good and all that, but we can't ignore your physical needs..." comments Rin. "Got any experience in hunting?"

"Nope. And I don't have the tools for that anyway."

"True... then we'll have to stick with fruits and berries for now."

"Too bad the only plant in five miles around is grass. And I'm not that desperate yet."

"Sheesh, why do you have to complain about anything? If you only were a goat..."

"Well, I'm very sorry, Miss Dragon-head Deer-horn Fish-scale Ox-feet Lion-tail, for not catering your senseless needs and expectations."

"Mister, I have never seen such insolence, such shamelessness!" exclaims Rin, feigning grievance.

"Miss, I fail to see the shameless part of my retort."

"Yes, yes, I heard thou say 'senselessness'"

"I said 'senseless needs'."

"Well, more or less."

"More or less is not the same, Miss! They don't even sound similar!"

"The thing is, thou art proclaiming untruths."

"Thou dost exaggerate," Ironically, you're also exaggerating her tone and speech now.

"I demand my rights!"

"You always behave like that!"

"Lies!"

"Truths! And I don't argue with kirin."

This verbal scuffle is amusing and all that, but you feel like you should stop now before the mood takes a turn for the worse.

"And I do not argue with novisuths," Rin says indignated.

"...You mean 'novices'."

"We qilin are guided and inspired by the rhyme. I said 'novisuths' instead of 'novices' because thou hast said 'truths'."

"So I said truths!? ...Then you have been telling lies!" you answer back, with a smile on your face.

"Truly, stubborn and hard like the Wood."

"And what does that rhyme with?"

"With you, my boy, with you!" Rin laughs.

"Why you-!"

At that very moment, the smell of fried meat reach your nostrils, increasing your appetite tenfold. You scout to where you think the succulent aroma comes from, and far in the distance, you think you can see a yakitori cart standing in the middle of the road, smoke rising from its chimney.

"This is a godsend..." you mutter.

"Wait a second there," interrupts Rin. "I think it's a bad idea to waste time in the praeries. We should get to the forest at the foot to the mountains and search for food there. If we stay in the open we risk being spotted."

"But I don't think I have enough strength to get there in the first place..."

"Just hang in there for a while. The mountains are not so far ahead, see?"

Rin is right. While you and her discussed about magic, you covered a lot of ground, probably more than half the way to the foot of the mountains. It'd just take around fiften minutes to reach the forest ahead, where you could find vegetables to eat. But you can feel your strength faltering, and your stomach craving for urgent nourishment. Fainting of hunger midway would be a pretty lame way to end your escape...

[]I can't stay in the open. I should go to the forest at once and search for food there.
[]Screw it, I can't go on without food. Besides, that aroma is simply too tempting to resist...
[]I don't have the time to stop to eat, but at least I should ask the owner of the cart for directions to the Kappa Village.

>> No. 164707
[o]I can't stay in the open. I should go to the forest at once and search for food there.

It's too risky for anyone else to see us, and continuing on without a bite to eat is also risky.
>> No. 164710
[X]I can't stay in the open. I should go to the forest at once and search for food there.

Since it's probably Mystia's yakitori cart that's giving off that aroma, I believe that it would be foolhardy to reveal ourselves since Reimu and the others may interrogate Mystia and learn where we are. Besides, we don't have any money to pay for our food, and Rin did advise us to forage for food by ourselves.

This is precisely the decision which may come back to bite us in the ass. It's not stated that we have to remain hidden from everybody else, but at this point, we must assume everyone to be hostile to our efforts. After all, Reimu's playing for keeps and will probably interrogate anybody she meets, so we might as well step up our game too, even if it's to our discomfort.
>> No. 164716
[X]I can't stay in the open. I should go to the forest at once and search for food there.

Yeah, we really need to keep a low profile.

Sacchin is pretty interesting to read. A real fun character.
>> No. 164725
[X]I can't stay in the open. I should go to the forest at once and search for food there.
>> No. 164728
[X]I can't stay in the open. I should go to the forest at once and search for food there.

We don't have any cash on us, and in-character logic anybody selling food near the youkai mountains isn't likely to be human.
>> No. 164798
This seems to be an unanimous vote, but I'll leave this open for another day to see if, by any chance, the tide can be stopped.

But only 5 votes? What happened to the other 13? Please come baaaaaaack, I'm lonely ;_;
>> No. 164801
[X] Screw it, I can't go on without food. Besides, that aroma is simply too tempting to resist...

Pissing against the tide once more. But I'd be up for some Mystia
>> No. 164811
>>164798
I only vote if it seems especially interesting. Sorry.
>> No. 164835
>>164716
I forgot to thank you in the earlier post. I'm glad you find her appealing. Since there's next to no information about Satsuki, her character practically depends on the writer, so if you like her, it means I'm doing well.

>>164801
Your valiant sacrifice will not be forgotten, brave voter.

>>164811
It's okay, don't apologize. Having more than five voters per update is already a great success for me. Even if only two people follow this story, I'll keep on writing for their sake and mine too. This just means I have to make the story more interesting for you to participate.

Well, with all that said, I close the votes for totally ignoring Mystia the yakitobi stand, endure your hunger for a while longer and reach the forest ASAP. I hope MC is ready to face new perils and choices with his stomach empty.
>> No. 165021
File 136027384411.jpg - (299.12KB , 1000x665 , a6a63f5218fd119126ae2eefbe171bce.jpg ) [iqdb]
165021
Sorry for the somewhat long delay. Exams being a royal pain in the ass. Pic not very related.

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

The smell of grilled meat is a tempting aroma for your hungry stomach, craving for nutrients. But ultimately, logic imposed over your physical needs. With such dangerous people after you, standing in the open is asking for you to be spotted. Not to mention that, knowing you're close to youkai territory, the owner of the cart might not be amicable to humans. Worst case scenario, you could be formally invited to sit on the dining table with youkai. Meaning, sitting on a silver platter in the middle of said table, with rice and spices as sides. Specially with those damned handcuffs on your wrists; after all, felons and convicts are expendable humans, apt for youkai to hunt and devour.

Fighting your most primitives urges to get food, you walk past the yakitobi cart. When you pass by, you can briefly see the cook and owner of the cart busy with the oiled pans. It's only for a split second, but apart from her beautiful yet childish face, you think you spotted strange bird-like ears... There are also two female customers sitting on the counter bar, both wearing similar brown and yellow dresses. They seem to be engaged in conversation with the cook, but you are too far away to understand what they're saying. You hear the cook and the customers laugh heartily as you draw away from the cart and the delicious aroma of food.

Your stomach complains and growls all the time. The sensation is starting to become unbearable...

"Rin, talk to me," you say. "I need to forget about my hunger."

"Why don't you reflect on what I taught you a while ago?" she responds. "That'll keep you occupied."

"I don't feel like it..."

You need to save all your energy for walking; you don't want to waste it on useless mental efforts to comprehend abstract concepts like the Wu Xing or whatever.

"So many things wrong with that line of thinking..." sighs Rin.

"I promise I'll do it after I find something to eat, but you have to keep me alive until then."

"Thou dost exaggerate too much," Rin mocks you, repeating the same line you used against her a few minutes ago.

"You just have to entertain me somehow. You're good at being a motormouth when you try, so why don't you do that now?"

"I'm going to take that as a compliment... Let's see, how about a tale?"

"A tale?"

"Yes, a tale. Any trip is more fun and bearable when you have a bard in your side."

"That really depends on the bard, don't you think?"

"Please, you're speaking with a member of Lord Tenma's personal musicians!" says Rin, her pride overflowing. "Lovable qilin with a bewitching voice, skillful fingers, and a talent for rhymes and melodies..."

Rin continues her rambling, but your mind is thinking about something else. You noticed that, for someone who isn't even sure of who she is, Satsuki seems quite proud with her equally uncertain occupation in life. Has she finally accepted the fact that those dreams were truly hers, or...?

"... so moved by our song, the whole council started to bawl like newborn babies, even that one who was looked like he had no feelin- wait, you're not listening, right?"

"Yes, yes, I've been listening..."

"You can't lie to me, boy," Of course. She's on your mind after all. "It's obvious that all my previous recounting of my feats won't be of use until I actually prove it to you, eh?"

"All bark and no bite, as we say around here," you retort, with a smile on your face.

"Ohoho, kid, now you've said it! Just let me think of a good story, and you'll see!"

That's what you were aiming for from the very beginning, though you're careful not to let this become a definite thought on your head for Rin to read. Even though she was reticent at first, it looks like you've managed to make Rin pledge to your little petition. So if you just let her ramble for a few minutes and then poke at her pride like just now, you could manipulate her...

"Ah, I know! Have you ever heard of the tale of The Two Eyed Faerie?"

"That sounds like a fairy tale for kids," Though you haven't heard of it. Is it one of those secret stories that only the qilin know? And what's with that title, anyway? All fairies have two eyes from what you've heard and seen.

"Actually it's an adaptation of a tale from the west..." Rin explains, as if it isn't of much importance. "Anyway, I figured out that a 'fairy tale for kids' is the most appropiate story for a kid with the attention span of a goldfish, like you."

"As long as it makes me forget about my hunger..."

Normally you'd think of a way to volley the insult back to Rin, but you don't even have the strenght to do it. You'd just like to keep walking mindlessly to the forest while listening to Rin's voice, no matter what she's saying. As if in cue, your stomach growls to prove your point. Rin catches on that and coughs a couple of times to clear her throat; something you think she doesn't need because she has no throat to clear to begin with, but it might be an acquired habit. Rin starts her tale with a melodic tone, halfway between narrating and singing:

"Once upon a time, a great faerie had three daughters. The eldest had no eyes in her face, but she had one floating around her body. The second had two eyes like ordinary fairies, and the third had three eyes; two on the sides of her head and a third in the middle of her forehead. Her mother and sisters scorned the second daughter because she was like other faerie and treated her badly, leaving her only their leftovers to eat.

"What an horrible family."

"I'd appreciate it if you didn't interrupt me, thank you very much," says Rin, using the exact same words you told her when you were telling Kosuzu what happened, back at her house.

It's amazing how could Satsuki remember that. Then again, it still hasn't been a full day from that moment. But so many things happened, it all seems like it happened weeks ago.

"Anyway, where was I..."

Life was difficult for the Two Eyed Faerie. One day, the poor ordinary faerie was sent to the deepest part of the forest to search for fruits and berries. Two Eyed Faerie looked for hours and hours, until the sun set, but she didn't find the berries her mother asked for. The faerie sat down in a trunk and cried, and cried, and cried, because she was given very little to eat and she was very hungry. But then, she heard a voice besides her.

"Hapless little faerie, why are you crying?"

Two Eyed Faerie looked up and saw an old woman sitting besides her, wearing a orange dress made of leaves and a hat decorated with a maple leaf and grapes. The faerie recognized her: she was the Goddess of Harvest.

"I'm crying because my mother and my sister are very mean to me, and I haven't found anything to eat, and my tummy aches..." said the fairy.

The Goddess of Harvest smiled, and gave Two Eyed Faerie a blanket made of fallen leaves of many trees.

"This is a magic carpet. If you sing the magic words, a lot of food will appear on it."

Two Eyed Faerie opened her mouth in surprise, and asked what were those words. The Goddess spread the blanket on the floor and sang the magic words:

"Warm and gentle breeze
When you can
please bring food to this mat."

Suddenly, over the extended blanket, mountains of food appeared out of nowhere. Two Eyed Faerie hadn't seen so much food in all her life. She ate the sweet, mellow baked beans. She ate the bit of salt pork that melted like cream in her mouth. She ate the mealy boiled potatoes, with brown ham-gravy. She ate the ham. She bit deep into velvety bread spread with sleek butter, and she ate the crisp golden crust. She demolished a tall heap of pale mashed turnips, and hill of stewed yellow-


Your stomach growls louder than ever, just from picturing all that food.

"Could you... could you skip that part, please?" you ask with a weak voice.

"I'm sorry, but this part is important for later, so you'll have to listen to it all," in Rin's voice there was a slight tone of... amusement? Mockery?

"Oh, I see! You're doing this on purpose!"

[i]"Whaaaat? I sincerely do not know what you might be talking about, boy,"
Sacchin's taunt is now blatantly obvious.

"I don't believe for a second you'd normally waste so much time in describing what the fairy's eating in so much detail. You want me to imagine it so that I get even hungrier, aren't you? You're trying to kill me!"

"Still blowing things out of proportion, I see."

"The only one blowing things out of proportion is you with your damn food pornography!"

You only get a hearty laugh as an answer, but you don't have neither the strength nor the will to think of another complaint. Arguing with Rin is too taxing for your mind, and you prefer to save energy for walking rather than biting her baits.

"That's what you get for thinking you can 'manipulate' me," she says, reassured in her victory over you. "So, want to hear another story, or would you like me to finish The Two Eyed Faerie?"

"No, thanks," you sigh.

So she caught on that, even if you tried your best not to let it slip to your mind. In the end, you give up and do what Rin told you to do: go over everything she taught you about the Five Phases and the Wood Element. You'll get back at her in another time, you say to yourself.
>> No. 165022
File 136027393195.jpg - (50.65KB , 480x360 , santa_rosa_plum.jpg ) [iqdb]
165022
How the hell did I manage to exceed the character limit again? This update doesn't even advance much plot wise...

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

Eventually, you reach the beginning of the Great Youkai Forest. Up ahead, evergreen trees grow tall and lively, completely clogging the light coming from the sun. That, and the fact that those trees grow very close to each other, made the scenery ahead extremely cramped and dark. To make matters worse, the track ends right here at the border of the forest, and there are no signs, posts or any other indications to reach the Kappa Village.

"Wanderer, there is no path. The road is made as you walk~," hums Rin.

Well, you didn't expect this journey to be a simple trek to grandma's house. As Sacchin happily sings, there's only one possible way for you right now. Even if it is dangerous to venture forth into the Great Youkai Forest without a clue to where's your goal, you have the certainty that if you look back now, you're done for. And so, after breathing deep once, twice and thrice, you begin to make your way through the thick brushwood.

You don't know what time is it. For all you know, it could have passed just a couple of minutes, maybe a few hours, or even days. When you can't see the sunlight, you completely lose the sense of time, and you could only rely on your own body. But the only thing your body can tell is how much you need food right now. And you haven't seen any fruit tree yet. You feel like you are about to faint at any time now...

"No, no, no, don't die on me! Keep your eyes open!" exclaims Rin, worried.

"Now who's the one exaggerating, huh...?" you respond with a weak voice.

"No, it's not that. Something's off."

You look around, but you see nothing but trees and bushes as far as your reduced sight allows you to. You listen attentively to your surroudings, but the only noise you hear is the rustle of the leaves above you, shaken by the wind.

"What, there's nothing around," you mutter.

"Exactly," she says. "By now we should have come across fairies or youkai, but noone attacked us yet. And I don't hear anything moving near us."

Now that she says it, it is too quiet for a forest full of youkai.

"Stay on your toes. We don't know when and where someone will ambush us."

A chill runs down your spine when you realize this. Actually, doesn't this resemble the other dream of Rin, that one where she was chased and attacked by a beast? No, at least she could defend herself -even if that proved to be a mistake in the end-, but you're too weak to even make a run for it. You won't stand a chance if something were to pound onto you. With that terrible realization on your mind, you look around nervously. You think you feel eyes watching your back intensely... wait, something moved up in that branch! You don't realize it in your panicked state, but your breath becomes more ragged, your heart is beating like crazy, and-

"Calm down!" Rin's voice snaps you out from your frenzy. "Fear comes from ignorance; you mustn't worry about that which you don't know yet."

"What are you saying, 'don't worry'!? What if they jump from behind!?"

"I'm saying that your mind is making this much worse than it really is. And in the event there actually is something behind you, they'll surely attack you if they see you panic," Satsuki explains calmly.

"So you want me to sit down and relax?"

"No, not that neither! You must keep walking, but be alert. I have your back like always, so don't worry. That's what I mean."

It certainly is relieving to know Rin is watching over you, but this sense of security is undermined by the fact she couldn't look after herself in that dream. Still, four eyes are better than two - even if you still have no idea how can Rin see your surroundings if she's inhabiting your mind. In theory, she should be restricted to using your own eyes, which means-

"That's for another ocassion," interrupts Rin. "You can't stop here; keep going!"

Yes, you'll have time to ask Sacchin later. That feeling of being watched is growing by the moment. But where to go? You don't know the way to the Kappa Village, nor to any other "safe" place, for the matter.

"Look for a clearing. The less vegetation, the less hiding spots will be."

It seems a reasonable course of action, but you wonder if there'll be a clearing in such a thick forest. Standing in the middle of the trees certainly isn't a good idea, anyway. You resume your walk, trying to act confident, as if you were strolling in your house, but you still keep your eyes and ears ope-

"Hey, that's..."

For a split second, you saw one tree with yellow-pink fruits on its top. You stop in your tracks and look up to see it in more detail. You couldn't believe your eyes; it's a sumomo tree, with green plum buds hanging from its branches. A fruit tree in the middle of an evergreen forest is a rare sight indeed, even if the tree itself isn't that uncommon.

"That tree is native from China, did you know?" comments Rin. "Too bad it isn't the plum season yet."

Besides, the branches are too high for you to reach, and there are no places to use as footholds and climb up the trunk.

"They're quite good raw, but if you flavor them with sugar, salt and liquorize, you get candied plums, and I tell you, they're simply de-li-cious!" you can almost imagine Sacchin licking her lips in delight. "Oh, and I remember the tengu used to make sumomo shu, a liqueur made with half-ripe plums. I don't really like it, because I think alcohol shouldn't be sugared to enjoy it, but it was the boom at the court; everybody was drinking it at the parti-"

"Very interesting, but I'm okay with the raw fruit, thanks," you interrupt her rambling. You could swear you weren't exaggerating when you said she was trying to kill you with food recipes. "If only they were ripe..."

"I think this is the ideal moment to test your skills."

"Oh?"

"You have a tree whose fruits haven't ripened yet, and you know about the Wood element, the phase of growth... See where am I going?"

"From a mile away," you respond. "But that doesn't necessarily mean I know how to put all that knowledge to practice."

"I thought you'd already know it from what I told you."

"Wait, was I supposed to figure it out by myself?"

"Euhhhh, yes, you were?" Rin sounds as disheartened as you.

"Well, something fails here because I haven't the faintest idea of what to do know, and I'm hungry as hell."

"Don't blame me. This is like trying to teach a baby how to breathe; it's difficult for me to explain..."

You sigh for a long second and calm down.

"It's okay. I'm a human, you're a youkai," you say. "I don't run on magic like you, so I can't hope to understand something that it's natural for you."

"No, no, no, it's a matter of wording. I guess I didn't explain myself clearly back then. But I'm sure I can find an example even someone like you will understand."

You're not sure if that last remark is meant to be condescending or not, but you don't care. Your stomach reminds you with a loud growl that you have more dire matters to deal with rather than starting yet another banter with Rin.

“It's like a tamed horse," she continues. "A broken horse will understand a set of orders, no matter who is riding it, and will always gallop, jump, or stop if the correct order is given. But if you train the horse by yourself, you can teach it to do more complex things, like to lift a leg when you whistle in a certain way, or to walk sideways when you whip its left side... Things a normal horse wouldn't do with any other horseman. It's the same with spells and names. You can tell the wind to blow in a certain way with a spell, but if you know its ever-changing name, you bend the wind to your will."

"That's a... very strange example," you comment.

Rin groans, as she searches for more examples, but she gives up after a few seconds.

"Using words to talk of words is like using a pencil to draw a picture of itself, on itself. Impossible. Confusing. Frustrating. Moreso for a human with no natural understanding.”

"Why don't you just teach me a spell so I can get the damned food already?" You don't feel like delving into such mind-boggling mental puzzles right now.

"No, I can't do that," snorts Rin. "If I told you, you'll forget about it after a while, I'm sure of it."

"I've good memory for these things."

"It's extremely complicated to memorize it, even for a youkai. Pointless," Rin is starting to lose her patience as well. "I am trying to wake your mind to the subtle language the world is whispering. But what you are asking me is to teach you how to shout stock phrases from worn books. Primitive. Graceless. Inefficient. You'll never learn that way."

Nevermind the irony of a grimoire bashing spellcraft.

"Spells are pale shadows of forgotten names. As the Five Phases are power, the spells that control them have power too. Spells can start a fire without the need for reactants. Spells can bring lightning down from a clear sky. There are long and complicated spells to bend a man's mind to your complete will. There are rituals that can bring people back from the dead. But a spell is nothing but a portrait of a tree. A name is the tree itself."

What Rin tells you only raises further questions, but at least you manage to understand a thing.

"Okay, so names reflect the comprehension of a thing. When you truly understand a thing, you have power over it."

"Yes, exactly! That's what I've been telling you all the time."

"But how can I learn the name of a thing that changes names at every moment?" you ask, referring to the 'ever-changing' name of the wind.

Rin thinks about it for a second, and her response leaves you completely appalled:

"The most obvious answer is that you can't."

"...What?"

"Even the most simple names like the Five Phases are too far out of our reach. Take that tree for example," you look up at the sumomo tree. "Tell me how many branches, leaves, buds and roots it has, how much it weights. Tell me how the wind blows through its leaves, how the earth's pull strains its branches. Tell me how much time it needs for the buds to flourish and ripen. Tell me exactly how much heat will it produce once it begins to burn. All that, and a thousand things more, configure the name of that tree. Just a single and simple tree."

You remain in silence, waiting for Rin to continue speaking, and trying to come to terms with what she said.

"Can you see how complex can a simple thing like a tree become? If a human like you studies it for a month, maaaaaaybe you'll get to know it enough to peep at the exterior borders of its name. Maybe. And that's the problem of studying youkai magic: you must understand things than cannot be understood by a human mind."

"Then all of this was a total waste of time!"

"Wait! I said 'by a human mind'. But all people have another mind inside their little brains."

"Huh?"

"Hmm, let me explain..." Rin spends a couple of seconds searching for the right words. "Every sentient being has a mind that is used for conscious acts. But there's also another mind, the sleeping mind. Youkai have that mind partially awakened from birth and gradually expand it as they grow older and wiser, but humans only have it for a couple of years until it falls again in deep slumber. At least that's what I recall."

"Sleeping mind? You mean something like the subconscious?"

"Another way to call it, I guess. The sleeping mind is vast and clear enough to fully comprehend the names of things. As I said, some youkai have certain parts of the sleeping mind opened from the beginning, and that's why they can understand and use some elements naturally. For humans, the sleeping mind usually emerges when they suffer from great deals of stress."

"Like when we were surrounded by the guards?"

"Ehhhhhh, not exactly. At that moment, I had to forcibly awaken your sleeping mind with my own understanding of the wind because we didn't have time. Think of it as someone slapping you in the face to wake you up."

"It certainly felt that way," you say, recalling the splitting headache you suffered after that.

"But now that we have time, and we are in a somewhat stressful situation for you without any real danger, I believe you can go through the normal process of understanding the Wood phase," concludes Rin.

You think hard about this, and then something clicks in your mind. You almost choke on your words as realization strikes you.

"Wait, don't tell me you're deliberately not helping me get the food so that I..."

"About time you caught on that!" exclaims Rin, exasperated.

"You assh- bast- dumb- aaaaaaaargh!" you scream.

[i]"How did it go? 'Give a man an apple, and he'll eat for a day; but teach him how to get the apple, and he'll eat for a lifetime'?"


"No, it was fish!" Rin's usual butchering of popular adages is the last straw. "But that's not the point!"

"It is! If I teach you the spell, you'll be able to use it once. Twice with luck. But if I teach you how to learn names and spells..."

You stand there in silence. If the kirin had a physical body, you'd be strangling her neck right now, even in your weakened state.

"It's the questions we can't answer that teach us the most," she goes on. "They teach us how to think. I gave you the basics; you'll have to come up with the answers on your own."

"Very helpful," you mumble.

In other words, you won't eat until you find a way to make the buds ripe into plums and bring them down. As one of your friends would say, that's fan-frikkin-tastic, censuring the bad word. If it wasn't because you already showed the potential, you'd give up on the spot upon the impossible task ahead. Then again, magic is all about doing the impossible, right? But what does Rin exactly want you to do?

If anything that Sacchin spouted has actual sense, you figure you need to know the name of the tree to make the plum buds ripe, and then learning the name of the wind to shake the fruits off the branches. But what exactly is a name? You don't expect the tree to have a small label hidden somewhere with its name, nor you think there's a way for plants to talk and introduce themselves to you, is there?

You gaze intensely upon the branches and put your hand on the trunk, taking and analyzing everything about the tree on your mind. Rin said it'd take a month just to know the 'borders' of its name, but you have to start from somewhere. You memorize the shape and color of the leaves, the disposition of the branches, the size of the buds, the rugosity of the bark. You tried to guess a pattern on the random movement of the branches, but to no avail. The hypnotic swaying of the leaves in the wind makes you too drowsy to concentrate properly... Maybe you should just go to sleep and forget it all...

Wait, sleep? Didn't Rin say something about a 'sleeping mind'? Closely related to your concept of 'subconscious'? That probably means you don't need to concentrate at all. You empty your mind of all thoughts, of all worries, of all knowledge, and stare blankly at the buds. As your rational mind gives way to the awakening subconscious, you eventually realize that the movement of the branches isn't random at all. Instead, it follows a pattern made of infinite changing patterns. You also 'see' the tree's imperious desire to grow taller and stronger engraved in the wrinkles running along the bark, the buds' wish to bloom and spread. However, it knows it is not the time for that yet, but it only needs a little push...

"Yes, that's it! You're doing great!", you can barely hear Rin's muffled voice.

And then, with your mind completely open and empty, you finally 'recall' the name of the tree from the deepest nooks of your sleeping mind. When you look up at the tree again, it's as if you came across an old pal you haven't seen in years and you just remembered his name after a while. You pat the tree in the trunk like you would pat a friend's shoulder, and then the magic runs free.

If other people saw how the buds are blooming into white flowers and the flowers are turning into lushy plums as they were in fast-forward, they'd be calling miracle of witchcraft. But really, it's all so simple, so natural! How could you be so- so blind!

You look around, marveled. You feel the urge to let the words fly out of your mouth, like at the village, but this time you know what is going to happen. You see,¡ the direction of the wind as clear as the day above the treetops: where it would decide to push the branches, where it would shake the leaves. You realize that, if you wish so, you could lift it up and turn it into a gale, a storm, or rather reduce it to a mere whisper and leave the plum tree as still as a statue.

But that's now what you feel you must do. You lose yourself in a random stream of wind, and you follow it with your eyes as it goes around a red big plum, how it evades a branch, how it stirs the long purple ponytail of the woman waiting in the top about to ju-

"Watch out!"

Rin's voice, along the unexpected sight of a human figure above you, breaks your trance state too suddenly. The words you were muttering transform into a surprised shriek, but the magic is already casted. Mimicking your shout, the wind lifts up into a fiersome hurricane, hitting the tree sideways with so much strength, it tears the sumomo tree and some others out of the ground from their very roots. Among the blaring racket of cracking wood, you can hear the purple-haired woman cursing as she struggles to retain her balance on the falling tree.

"Move it, move it!" screams Rin in your mind.

In your daze, you almost failed to notice that tree is in fact about to crush you, but thanks to the kirin warning, you manage to roll to the side and avoid it. The trees fall at both your sides, causing a rowdy ruckus and filling the ground with broken branches, fallen leaves and crushed fruits.

And then, silence, only interrupted by your ragged breath, your pounding heartbeat... and your howling stomach. You just barely escaped a painful death, but your body seems to not give a damn about that, and still demands nourishment. It's ridiculous; is that what you can only think of? It's so ridiculous it's almost funny. So funny, you can't help but chuckle. In the end, you find relief in loud laughter. After all, it is the best remedy for fear and illness. There's no harm in having a hearty laugh once in a while, right?

"But that woman..." says Rin, pondering.

Ah, yeah, that woman. What in the world was she doing up there? No, wait, where is she now? You remember she was up there in the tree when it fell down. A fall from that high above must have been extremely painful, if not worse. You scout for her around you, and you spot her under a mountain of branches and plums. You aproach the pile, take a fruit from the heap, nibble at it, savoring its juice with absolute joy, and check her condition. The unconscious woman seems to be in her late twenties, judging from her somewhat youngish face, but her factions are hardened with scars and aging. She wears a plain white kimono with a red robe, and you think she hangs a sword in her hilt, hidden among the branches and bushes. But what's really special about this woman is her long, purple hair, tied in a long ponytail with a small white lace.

"Hm, I fhink she's fstill alaiv," you comment, while munching the delicious fruit.

"Eat or talk, choose one, please," says Rin with disgust. "Anyway, she doesn't look like a youkai. I wonder what was a human like her doing up in the trees like that."

"I felt like we were being watched for a while," you gulp down another bite of heavenly plum. "Maybe she was tailing us all this time?"

"It's a possibility we can't rule out. Maybe she's a hunter hired out to kill us..."

An assassin? You don't think there are people willing to murder other humans for a living. Humanity has enough problems dealing with youkai and fairies to kill each other as well.

"But what if they told her we were youkai?" she guesses. "She could have attacked us at any time, but maybe -and this is a wild supposition- she didn't do it because you still look like a normal human kid.

"Until I made the plums grow," you exclaim in realization. "By the way, they're as delicious as you said, Rin."

"Yes, she could have labeled you as a youkai the moment you used magic. But, luckily for us, she chose the worst moment to make her move."

But still, this is all wild-guessing, a worst-case scenario. Maybe she could be a simple traveler who thought it'd be a good idea to bop around the trees. Or maybe she was just minding her business, but got scared when she saw you and climbed up for safety.

Anyway, the woman is still lying unconscious. She's still breathing, but with that fall, you're not sure if she has broken a few bones or not. If you leave her like that, the youkai might end her life while she's still out cold. On the other hand, you can't trust her if you decide to help her. And you don't know of any safe place to bring her if she's hurt, nor any kind of first aid.

This is the second damsel in distress you encounter in this adventure, and it still hasn't been a full day, you ponder while you pack your bag full with plums, not wanting to leave them to waste.

[]Leave her there.
--[]And take all her belongings. They'll be more useful to me than to her.
[]Carry her around until you find the Kappa Village or any other safe place.
[]Stand guard until she wakes up.
[]Write-in.

>> No. 165024
[]Stand guard until she wakes up.
Well, if the girl's the only one around, lets stir up an event!
>> No. 165025
[X]Stand guard until she wakes up.
-[X] But cautiously, in case she tries to attack you.

Hello Meira.
>> No. 165026
[X] Stand guard until she wakes up.
-[X] Sift through her belongings to discern her identity and purpose.
--[X] Hide the most deadly items in her possession in the general vicinity.

Simply standing around until she wakes up would be a fool's errand; the woman just tried to attack us, and the moment she wakes up, she might try to use some other items in her inventory to neutralize the MC. It's best to make a preemptive move to ensure that we have the upper hand, and if it turns out that she's merely ambivalent to our plight, we can simply inform her that her inventory is hidden around the area before leaving.
>> No. 165029
[X]Carry her around until you find the Kappa Village or any other safe place.

I say we look for a clearing or a cave since staying here is a bad idea. People are going to be curious about the sudden storm, and these people are not likely to be friendly. On another note this woman might be someone sent out by Kotohime to watch us, so that might make her an ally.
Though we should still bind her before she wakes up. No harm in being cautious.
>> No. 165030
>"The only one blowing things out of proportion is you with your damn food pornography!"
Food channel, is there nothing you can't solve? Especially one in the head...

[X] Stand guard until she wakes up.
-[X] Sift through her belongings to discern her identity and purpose.
--[X] Hide the most deadly items in her possession in the general vicinity.
---[X]And take any and all of her belongings that might be particularly useful to us. Like say, food or a map.
>> No. 165032
Is there anything we can do with magic? Some people are right that we shouldn't stay here after that sudden storm. But leaving her here is pretty bad too. Maybe move nearby then grow a hiding cove place?
>> No. 165033
>>165030
>And take any and all of her belongings that might be particularly useful to us. Like say, food or a map.

You have a map from the very beginning, and you just stocked yourselves on plums to get going for at least a day. Unless you meant another kind of food, then it makes sense.

>>165032
You're still green at magic, so your spells and skills aren't too powerful yet. You can't pop up a forest from nowhere, but your idea of growing a cove is doable. That being a wise idea or not it's another story
>> No. 165035
Obvious paranoid solution is obvious.

[X] Magically grow some vines to bind her.
[X] Strip her of weapons and similarily dangerous stuff.
- [X] Store that stuff in your bag for the time being.
And then finally
[X] Carry her around until you find the Kappa Village or any other safe place.

New reader reporting.
>> No. 165036
[X] Strip her of weapons and similarily dangerous stuff.
- [X] Store that stuff in your bag for the time being.
[x] Carry her out of the general area of the whirlwind.
[X] Stand guard until she wakes up.
- [x] Grow a small bush or cove to hide you both

Mmm, moving out of the area is a good idea. Searching her for anything dangerous is a good idea. But going to a civilization is kind of dangerous.

It's not really paranoia if everyone Is out to get you.
>> No. 165038
>>165036

165035 here. You are right, I should have deleted the Kappa Village part when copypasting. Civilisation is too dangerous with an unconscious and bound girl on our backs. I was thinking more of a nice hidden cave somewhere.
>> No. 165056
It's hard to keep track on write-ins, especially with so many different variants. Anyway, I'm calling the votes as follows:

[x]Bind the woman and stand guard until she wakes up.
-[x]Sift through her belongings to discern her identity and intentions.
-[x]Strip her of all weapons and other dangerous possessions and hide them in the vicinity.
--[x]Use your magic to build a small hut to hide.


There have been several votes that wanted us to move away from the area, but the "stay here and wait until she wakes up" option wins 4 to 3, so unfortunately your idea won't be put to work.

I don't know when the next update will come since I'm still busy with exams. What I can say is that I'm relieved I have the chance to write a different character with actual physical presence. I found Rin's dialogue difficult to write without body language to accompany it. Thankfully with Meira this mysterious woman I can tell things without indulging in big walls of dialogue text.
>> No. 165309
File 136200977071.jpg - (237.86KB , 800x960 , 322fdfd8511692140309bf868da3bd70.jpg ) [iqdb]
165309
I am not dead, neither is this story, and neither are you yet! But I was hospitalized last week after my condition gave a sudden turn for the worse. It's not critically serious, like the one our resident Hisao has (I salute to you, Balista, wherever you are), but it's painful enough to leave me out of circulation in the middle of exams. I was so exhausted and weak I couldn't even get myself to write anything for two weeks - not that I'd be able to with a needle stuck deep in my arm, even if I wanted. Still, I used that time to read more stories here at THP, and boil down some fresh new ideas for the future plot of my own. But that'll be for later. Alright, enough ranting. Let's get down to business.

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

You aren't one to talk, but this woman is definitely suspicious. Why was she up there in the tree in the first place? True, you were so 'focused' on using your magic, you probably didn't notice her prancing from branch to branch, but that doesn't explain why was she doing that. Given your current situation, it's best to play it safe and prevent the woman from doing nothing until you discern her true intentions.

"When everything's out to get you, paranoia is straight thinking," nods Rin. "We can't trust her, nor anybody for that matter."

A sad truth, but truth nonetheless. You pull the woman's body from under the mountain of leaves and lie her on the floor. Even though she has a rather muscular build for a woman, she's actually lighter than you thought. As you drag her, you notice the number of clear scars of all kinds that stood up from her tanned arms: small, large, deep, shallow, straight, curve... of all shapes imaginable. There's seldom a patch of sane skin in there.

"She seems to have gone through a lot," you comment.

"Most of those scars look like sword cuts. Seeing as she has a sword herself, it's very probable she's a ronin," Rin reasons.

A ronin, a samurai with no master. They used to roam the earth in search for a new lord to pledge loyalty to, or to sell their swords to anybody, working as bodyguards, though some threw their code of honor away and became bandits. They were fairly common a few centuries ago, but nowadays they are part of the tales of old. Or so you thought until now.

You begin to conduct a thorough bodysearch for anything dangerous or interesting. The sword she wears on her left hilt is kept on a simple black sheath, and you untie it from her belt to have a closer look. It weights a bit more than you expected, but for a trained swordsman, it's light and flexible enough to be swung around with ease. You unsheathe the katana slowly, as it makes that distinguishing sound of metal scraping wood.

"It certainly has seen better days," you comment when you inspect it.

The hilt is very worn out, and the handle is wrapped with linen bandages, colored brownish with filth and attrition. The blade isn't in better shape: scrapes, dents and notches fill the whole lenght of the curved steel. However, it hasn't lost its edge nor its shine, meaning it's been polished with care even though it's been used a lot.

"Every sword will break one day, no matter how much you polish it," Rin comments, "And this sword is nearing that point."

You are no smith to know where that point is, so you put the sword back in its sheathe. However, even if it looks old and used, it is still very capable of inflicting pain, so you take the katana from the woman's waist and put it behind you. Better safe than sorry. The female ronin also has a shorter blade of about half and a palm long hanging on the back of her waist - a wakizashi, Rin tells you. It isn't as worn as the katana, but it's in a similar state, so you put it away too.

Apart from those two weapons, she wears a pouch on her right waist. You open it, and inside you find two little sacks; one full of coin and the other filled with yellow powder that smells of cereal. There's also a short lenght of rope, but unfortunately there was nothing that could tell you the woman's identity and intentions.

"We should assume the worst and believe this woman is either a bandit or a hunter out to get us," Rin speaks her mind. "I don't think she got all that money the honest way. Take that rope and tie her. We can ask her anything when she wakes up."

"I have a better idea," you say with a smile painted on your face.

"Oh?"

You take a pair of plum seeds from the ground, still moist with your own saliva after you spat them a few minutes ago. After cleaning them with the border of your cape, you put one in each of the woman's hands, add a handful of soil between them, and begin to slip down to the 'sleeping mind' state a second time. This time the things you want to grow are significantly smaller than a tree, and you already expect what is going to happen, so the spell was much easier to cast than the first time. After a few seconds of mindless babbling, the seeds grow into slim roots, and from the roots sprout tiny green leaves.

"Ah, trying to make a natural 'rope', eh?" Rin already reads your intentions.

"Yeah, I practice magic, and I get to keep the rope for later. Two birds with one stone, as we say around here."

"I admit it, sometimes you come up with interesting ideas on your own," her voice denotes a hint of genuine surprise underlying her sarcasm.

"Didn't I tell you so?"

It doesn't take you more than half a minute to grow strong enough roots to braid knots around the woman's hands. You pull on them to test their hardness, and once you ensure they're tight, you repeat the operation with her feet. A minute later, you have the ronin hogtied with plum roots as strong as sail ropes.

"This should do it. So, how is it?" you ask Rin.

"Not bad, not bad at all!"

"Still, as cool as accelerated plant growth looks, I don't see any combat application for it," you grumble.

"Patience. You still got lenghts to go before we even think about combat magic. For starters, you still need to fully immerse in your sleeping mind to do something as simple as making a plum bloom."

"As if that'd be useful in battle! I was thinking about... I don't know, maybe grow some thorns under my enemies or something?"

"You won't have time for that in the middle of a battle; you're still too inexperienced. All this magic needs to be done almost instinctively, because you'll need to be focused on your enemies' moves and your surroundings," explains Satsuki. "Besides, I don't believe you'd be sadistic enough to impale anybody in thorns, are you?"

"No, not really," you mutter.

Or at least you say so, but who knows what you'll be forced to do in the spur of the moment.

"For now, let's just focus on preventing that kind of situations from happening, shall we?"

The best victories are the ones which aren't fought, or so they say. Although hogtying this woman wasn't exactly the most gentlemanly course of action, you're sure it saved you some trouble. That said, you can't go around carrying her like a rice bag. And leaving her to the forest's mercy would be too cruel. Besides, the ronin's sneaky behavior was extremely suspicious; you want some questions answered.

"Let's rest a bit here," you say. "We've already covered a lot of ground."

"Are you sure? I think we can keep going," argues Sacchin. "The more distance we put between Reimu and us, the better."

"I know, but where do we head to? You don't know where's the Kappa Village, right?"

"No," the kirin answers after a short while.

"Then it'd be useless to wander off in the forest aimlessly. I bet this gal here knows where it is," you lightly nudge her purple hair with your boot. "We just have to make her spill the beans."

"What makes you think that?"

"Well, she travels even lighter than us; a bad idea for a human in the Youkai Mountain," you mindlessly play with the rope the woman had with your fingers. "That means she probably has some sort of residence or refuge nearby."

"Or that she thought it wouldn't take long for her to catch us, in the event she was after us," Rin's adds, worried.

"Either way, she can do us no harm now. We only have to wait for her to wake up, and then we'll have a nice little chat," you conclude.

"Fair enough. But we should hide somewhere, in case this woman wasn't alone," the kirin states, still cautious.

But hide where? The hurricane you accidentaly invoked in your panic blew most of the trees nearby.

"That shouldn't be a problem for you now, right?"

With your powers, it should be possible to grow the trees back given enough time. However...

"I only grew what was already there. How do I make a forest appear out of nowhere?"

"With you current skill, you can't. But..."

"But?"

Rin stays in deep thought for a few seconds, then continues:

"Have you ever heard of grafting?"

"Grafting? I think I read something like that in a book long time ago..." you try to make memory. "That's when you put two different plants near each other and they grow together as one, right?"

"It's not as simple as that, but yes, that's the general gist," nods Satsuki.

"Why do you ask?"

"Well, I was thinking you could use all those broken branches to-"

Your gaze sits on the giant heap of leaves and branches that fell from the trees due to the gust, and you understand what Sacchin is proposing.

"Ah, I get it! If we 'graft' all those branches together, we can make a natural hut out with them, and make it look natural, right?"

"That... wasn't exactly what I was thinking, but I guess it'll work too."

Something in Rin's voice tells you she isn't quite sure about that.

"You don't sound too convinced."

"No, it's just that what you're planning is one of those things that seems easy on paper, but actually is extremely difficult to pull off."

"Difficult?"

"You'll see."

With bewilderment and curiosity, you begin to recollect all the branches scattered in the ground and place them in a circle surrounding you and the still unconscious woman. You take two of them in your hands, put them standing up in the ground and slip to the 'sleeping mind' another time. However, what you 'see' once you enter it leaves you in total bewilderment.

"What the..."

It's completely different from growing buds with the seed. Both branches, even though they were once part of the same tree, had two completely different names - reflecting the changes of their properties, you realize. And what's worse; no matter how much you try to wrap your subconscious around them, you can't find in neither of them that natural desire of growth that the plum seed and the tree had.

"This is impossible!" you mutter. "It's as if these branches are dead. How am I supposed to make something dead grow up?"

"I told you it was difficult," says Rin. "And those branches aren't really 'dead'. The process of grafting takes place naturally when the conditions are met. It only takes a lot of time and a bit of luck. And if nature can, you should be able to do it too, because this magic is natural. You're just forcing those branches to grow up faster."

"Okay, suppose I actually manage to do it," you retort without much conviction. "Still, I couldn't see any way to merge the branches as one."

"That's the key. If those two branches really come from the same tree, they must share a lot of similarities, even though they now exist as different entities. You just need to remind them they once were one and the same."

"'Remind them'?"

"You're imposing your will onto the nature. Previously nature's will and yours walked in the same direction; that's why it was so easy for you to make the plums and the roots grow. Now your paths vary slightly; you must force your belief that those two branches are part of the same tree, and let your resolve flow."

"I do not understand a single word of what you just said," you say, blinking.

"I admit I don't remember doing this before, but what I told you is the basics for all the natural magic; what you see is evidence of what you believe. Believe what you do not see, and you'll see what you believe in."

"So basically, the stronger I believe..."

"The easier the spell will be," concludes Rin.

It doesn't make any sense, you think. This isn't like the magic you've heard and read about in the least. In fact, it looks more like that spiritual magic all religious people preach about: 'faith is an oasis which can never be reached by the caravan of thinking' and all that. But it surely isn't that simple, right? There must be something more, or else anybody in your village could be popping crops out of nowhere. It isn't for lack of faith, that's for sure.

"They could," says Rin, interrupting your mental rambling. "but they lack the natural comprehension that lies in their dormant subconscious-"

"Yeah, yeah, you told me that before. I guess I'd have to thank you for waking mine up, right?"

"I just gave it a little nudge. The rest, you need to do it on your own."

You let out a sigh, and then return your attention to the branches. You try to do as Rin told you, but you find that simply focusing as hard as you can doesn't cut it, and neither does letting your mind fly unrestrained. Although you do spot similarities between the 'understandings' of both branches, it's still too complex for your awakening subconscious to comprehend.

"When you are deluded and full of doubt, not even a thousand hours of lecture are enough," Rin recites something out of her memory. "When you realize, even one word is too much."

Yes, you're still harboring doubts about your own skills, that's for sure. Maybe you should change your approach, the way you're thinking? Instead of seeing them as two different branches with many similarities, how about thinking of them as the two similar branches with a few differences? 'Remind them they once were one and the same', Rin said. You do your best to overlook those differences, and picture in your mind the perennial tree as it was before the gust struck it down. But while you're at it, you might as well bend the tree to make it more hut-like. That's what you want from the beginning. Two branches bending into a tree hut. The image is clear in your mind, the bond reveals on your subconscious, the magic flows free from your mouth and-

"Stop, stop!"

You blink in surprise as you get forcefully drawn out of your trance by Satsuki, and when you return to your senses, a sudden headache splits your head like a burning nail being driven through your skull. And speaking of nails, you feel a numbing sensation running through your fingers, like your warmth being draining from you. You stare at your hands, and for the briefest of seconds, you mistake your digits for actual tree roots.

"Holy dragon of-!"

That short yet terrifying sight makes you scream, jump backwards and fall on something soft, but thankfully it was only an hallucination; your fingers remain human-like.

"It was about to become reality if you didn't stop!" screams Rin in your head, as alarmed as you.

"Say what!?"

"I know me being in your mind had an unnatural influence on your dormant mind, but I for you to have such a great potential..."

"Rin, could you please calm down and tell me what's going on!?" your panicked words undermines your attempt of bring order.

"No, that'd be... but it'd explain so many things..."

"Rin!"

"Oh, wait, what? Oh, yeah, sorry, I was musing again, right?" Rin apologizes. "Look, apparently I underestimated you. I don't know how and why, but what you just did is out of the amateur league."

"Uh? I did what? Wait."

That's when you notice that it's become quite darker, too quickly for the usual dusk. A quick glance around you reveals that, where once was a small clearing filled with broken branches, now stands a tall tree with thick trunk and branches that cup the whole area, providing shadow over the whole clearing,... and you and the woman lie in a big hole under its enourmous roots.

"This tree wasn't here a while ago," you manage to say after a while.

"I don't know exactly what were you thinking when you were casting the magic, but you didn't simply establish a connection between two branches. You went too far and made a direct hotline with nature itself."

"... Really?"

[i]"And unless you know exactly what are you doing, you risk being dominated by nature. Like what almost happened right now,"
Rin says, dead serious.

You look at your hands again in utter disbelief. If what Rin says is true, then that thing about your hands turning into roots was...? No, that's too horrible to be true. Just in case, you must be much more careful with your magic in the future, you tell yourself.

"Still, to be able to grow a tree of this size and form with only two broken branches... that's truly remarkable," mutters the kirin. "For a novice, that is. I still need to keep an eye on you, lest you turn into Treeman."[/i]

"You just had to say it, did you?", you sigh. "This youkai magic is cool, powerful and all that, but that doesn't mean I want to turn into a youkai or anything."

"I believe it's a little too late for that, kiddo."

A grunting voice underneath you startles you, and you roll over in surprise to see the swordswoman awake. You realize you've been sitting on her stomach all this time since Rin interrupted your casting. The purple haired woman is giving you an angry face as she breathes hard; yet relieved over having all that weight removed from top of her.

"Wha-! You awake?" you say.

"For a while," the woman responds as she tries to stand up - a futile effort, due to the roots you tied in her wrists and ankles.

"All that time passed out, I thought you were dead."

"You're not the first one who tells me that," the ronin finally manages to at least sit up. "But if I had your fat ass over my belly for one more second, I'd be a goner for real."

You don't take that remark kindly. Granted, you'd be pissed too if you woke up hogtied, saw a huge tree grow at godspeed around you, and then the culprit sat on you for two minutes, but that doesn't make calling your captor 'fat' a good idea nonetheless.

"Yes, she's under your mercy," says Rin. "Don't let her the chance to talk back at you like this, or else she'll lose any fear she might have of you. And a fearless and uncooperative captor is dangerous."

You stare at the woman long and hard, inspecting her from head to toes, looking at her eyes, stance, everything, trying to discern what's going on in her head. Your captor seems to be doing the same to you. In fact, you see her gaze stopping for a long second at your wrists- oh no.

"Those handcuffs..." she says. "So you a fellow felon fella too, kid?"

"What?" you shake your head. A 'fellow felon fella'? Does that mean she...?

"Yeah, you definitely look like one," the woman nods to herself. "Alright, kid, we started this conversation with the wrong foot, so let's just take it slowly and talk like civilized people, okay?"

You say nothing, waiting for the woman to continue, and trying to figure out what she's up to.

"Not the talkative one, are you?" she chuckles. "You can call me Meira. I'm a sellsword, as you probably have guessed. I was doing an errand when I saw you from afar, and since a kid wandering in the forests is a rare sight, I decided to tail you for a while. You can imagine my surprise when you began to do that... thing to the tree."

"What were you doing up there? You were about to pounce on me," you ask, accusingly.

"Pounce on you? Why would I do that?"

"You tell me. People don't go around prancing on the top of the trees if it's not to ambush other people."

"Ha! So naïve," Meira cackles. "Okay, kiddo, lemme tell you a quick tip. Survival one-o-one. If you plan on staying alive in a forest infested with fairies and youkai, stay clear of the ground. Humans in the open are an easy prey for danmaku bullets and predators' claws."

It's a good piece of advice to bear in mind in the future. But the way this woman - who is suppossed to be your captive - is behaving so friendly towards you, as if you're her old friend, is completely putting you off. And she eluded the part where she was about to jump on you, like one of those predators she warned you about.

"She's talking too much, but says almost nothing," comments Rin. "Remember you're the interrogator, not her."

Yes, you need to steer the conversation back and make her spill the beans before she turns the tables on you. But what approach do you take on this 'interrogation' of sorts?

[]She is willing to treat me as a pal, why shouldn't I? It might be a good idea to get on her good side.
[]Despite what she might believe, she's my captive. She'll answer all the questions I have, whether she likes her or not. Then I'll free her.
[]I think she believes I'm a youkai. Maybe I can use that to instill fear on her, threaten her. And if I have to, I'll carry out said threats.


And what exactly should you ask her?

[]'Meira'? That's a very strange name. What's her real one?
[]I'll ask again: What in the world was she doing up there? Why was she going to jump on me like that?
[]What's that errand she talked about? Is she working for someone?
-[]Did Reimu or Kotohime hire her?
-[]Is that errand, by any chance, capturing me?
[]Does she know where the Kappa Village is?
[]She's traveling really light. Does she have a refuge nearby?
[]Does she know anything about that mysterious tengu assassin from Rin's dream?
[]Write-in.

>> No. 165310
Oh thank god, someone updated! The whole site has been dead for a whole week! Seriously though, sucks about your health. Hope you feel better soon.

[x]Despite what she might believe, she's my captive. She'll answer all the questions I have, whether she likes her or not. Then I'll free her.

Bad time to white knight. She was stalking us, and we have to be careful. Doesn't mean we have to be harsh, but we can't let this woman talk down to us.

[x]I'll ask again: What in the world was she doing up there? Why was she going to jump on me like that?

And this is a good start. Don't let her wriggle away like that.
>> No. 165312
Welcome back Winged Ikaros, hope you get better from whatever happened to you.
>> No. 165316
[X]Despite what she might believe, she's my captive. She'll answer all the questions I have, whether she likes her or not.

[X]I'll ask again: What in the world was she doing up there? Why was she going to jump on me like that?
-[X]If she denies it, state that I know what she was doing right before the tree collapsed
[X]What's that errand she talked about? Is she working for someone?
[X] Threaten to simply walk away and leave her there for the Youkai if she doesn't give us the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth if and only if she lies or deliberately avoids a question. After all, a few secrets shouldn't be worth losing one's life over, right?
[X] Avoid talking about why we're wanted at all costs, and try to hide Rin's existence from Meira.

[X] Keep an eye out for curious Youkai who want to investigate the ruckus we caused.
-[X] Prepare to cut Meira's bonds and hand her sword back if a feral Youkai ambushes us.

Giving away why we're wanted would probably lead to repercussions later on, and we don't need another enemy on our tails. The additional write-ins I suggest are all safe guards designed to minimize any damage our interrogation may give away to her, and to ensure that it provides the most accurate information to us.

Ultimately, we shouldn't simply free her until we can gauge that she is not a threat who will come back to stab us in the back. Until we have more information, we should not free her unless the circumstances demand it.
>> No. 165317
[X]Despite what she might believe, she's my captive. She'll answer all the questions I have, whether she likes her or not. Then I'll free her.

[X]I'll ask again: What in the world was she doing up there? Why was she going to jump on me like that?
[X]What's that errand she talked about? Is she working for someone?

In battle and in interrogations, letting the other person dictate the flow of battle is a bad move.
>> No. 165324
[X]Despite what she might believe, she's my captive. She'll answer all the questions I have, whether she likes her or not. Then I'll free her.

[X]I'll ask again: What in the world was she doing up there? Why was she going to jump on me like that?
[X]What's that errand she talked about? Is she working for someone?
-[X]Is that errand, by any chance, capturing me?
[X]Does she know where the Kappa Village is?
[X]She's traveling really light. Does she have a refuge nearby?
>> No. 165325
[X]Despite what she might believe, she's my captive. She'll answer all the questions I have, whether she likes her or not. Then I'll free her.

[X]I'll ask again: What in the world was she doing up there? Why was she going to jump on me like that?
-[X]Is it related to that errand she talked about? Is she working for someone? So crossing me in a forest as big as this was a 'coincidence?'

Yeah, right.
>> No. 165327
This might be a moot question, but is it possible for somebody to come upon us while we interrogate Meira?
>> No. 165329
[]What's that errand she talked about? Is she working for someone?
-[]Did Reimu or Kotohime hire her?
-[]Is that errand, by any chance, capturing me?
[]She's traveling really light. Does she have a refuge nearby?
[]Despite what she might believe, she's my captive. She'll answer all the questions I have, whether she likes her or not. Then I'll free her.

Paranoia DARKNEESSSSSSSSS never fails!
As does not telling her we are questing for the Kappa village.

Considering we already can grow ropes.... kinky short in /at/ when?
>> No. 165339
>>165310 >>165312
Thanks for your concern! I'm going well on the road to full recovery, except for the fact that I currently take more pills than my whole campus combined. But eh, I can live with that.

>>165327
Is it? You did cause quite a ruckus back there, but the forest has been strangely silent for a while... Who knows?

>>165329
>Considering we already can grow ropes.... kinky short in /at/ when?

Jesus, already asking for that? But you haven't even hooked up with anybody yet! Besides, I don't think I'm cut out for writing that kind of literature. But if you really, really want, I guess I could try. Just don't expect a masterpiece.
>> No. 165354
[X]Despite what she might believe, she's my captive. She'll answer all the questions I have, whether she likes her or not. Then I'll free her.
[x]Despite what she might believe, she's my captive. She'll answer all the questions I have, whether she likes her or not. Then I'll free her.

[X]I'll ask again: What in the world was she doing up there? Why was she going to jump on me like that?
[X]What's that errand she talked about? Is she working for someone?
[X]Does she know where the Kappa Village is?

The others like mentioning Reimu, Kotohime or we being wanted are thing we don't want her to know and piece together.

We can still vote, right?
>> No. 165373
>>165309
>>165310
>>165316
>>165317
>>165324
>>165325
>>165329
>>165354

>She'll answer all the questions I have, whether she likes her or not

That's what copypasting gets you.

>>165354

Voting for it twice huh? Would that technically be considered double voting?
>> No. 165443
File 136256428541.png - (390.60KB , 707x1000 , c7b35e14c54df2e5b1eea803f6228746.png ) [iqdb]
165443
>>165373
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," Rin says.

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."

"Huh?"

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..."

"BMB award?"

"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," says Rin.

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," the kirin apologizes.

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..."

"Do tell."

"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.
>> No. 165448
[x]Free Meira. She'll provide an invaluable help against the youkai.
-[x]And help her fight the youkai.
--[x]With your magic.
>> No. 165457
[x]Free Meira. She'll provide an invaluable help against the youkai.
-[x]And help her fight the youkai.
--[x]With your magic.

Let's try to make an ally. Maybe we can restrain it with vines while Meira cuts it?
>> No. 165459
[x]Leave Meira tied up. I don't trust her enough to untie her, much less to give her a weapon.
-[x]Stand your ground and fight the youkai alone.
--[x]With both swords at the same time

I'm sure this option would've made sense if we had choosen the physical path. Anyway, spellsword is go.
>> No. 165465
[X]Free Meira. She'll provide an invaluable help against the youkai.
-[X]And help her fight the youkai.
--[X]With Meira's shortsword.
[X] Seems that Meira doesn't know all that much about that youkai...maybe it's best sneak around and see if you can find it before it finds you?

Not picking magic because in my opinion our youkai-beating magic is somewhat lacking right now...unless Rin helps out.
>> No. 165466
[]Free Meira. She'll provide an invaluable help against the youkai.
-[]And help her fight the youkai.
--[]With your magic.

We are the male poison ivy.
We will entrap the monster with our vines and dazzle him with our sexiness.
>> No. 165470
[X]Free Meira. She'll provide invaluable help against the youkai.
-[X]Stay hidden, but watch the fight closely.
--[X] Confer with Rin as to whta our options are.
---[X] If Meira is unable to defeat the youkai, ask Rin to allow you to use her powers if either you or Meira are in mortal danger.

We need to consider our capabilities in this battle before we go off charging for glory.

First of all, the MC isn't some hero or warrior capable of engaging a youkai in close-quarters combat. He's just a relatively ordinary human who has talent in magic, and unless he has some latent superhuman strength, I really doubt that he can clash against a youkai without undue risk, since he's, you know, just a fragile human. Now, if he had some battle experience against youkai, I wouldn't have a problem with being a hero and fighting it, but we cannot afford to overestimate our strengths in a story in which the author stated that his role is to stack the odds against us.

Next, our 'opponent' is apparently a special youkai that doesn't partake in conventional attacks, but rather a sort of spiritual and mental 'infection' that drains it's victims of their life force. This provides a significant reason why we shouldn't try to meander about while trying to fight it; it will gradually drain our willpower, hindering us for an unknown period of time. Indeed, trying to fight it risks the possibility that we'll become unable to continue our journey, which is a serious risk considering that we're just a lone, relatively helpless human with a sentient book on the run from Reimu and Yukari, and that we cannot afford to have this threat drain our willpower.

Finally, we have to recognize that it isn't really our mission to kill or defeat this youkai; we should simply let Meira handle it and provide support if necessary, but NOT actively waste our energy engaging it. Rin's powers are our trump card, and thus our weapon of last resort in case this youkai is on the verge of killing either us or Meira. Fighting the youkai with our own power is heroic and all, but we have to recognize that this is a time in which observing the situation is wiser then being a brave, but foolhardy hero.
>> No. 165486
[X]Free Meira. She'll provide invaluable help against the youkai.
-[X]Stay hidden, but watch the fight closely.
--[X] Confer with Rin as to what our options are.
---[X] If Meira is unable to defeat the youkai, ask Rin to allow you to use her powers if either you or Meira are in mortal danger.

Agreed. We're a kid with near zilch combat experience. All our fights basically had us take people by surprise because of varying circumstances. Best to stay out of the way of the combat expert.
>> No. 165592
Going to call it for:

[x]Free Meira. She'll provide an invaluable help against the youkai.
-[x]And help her fight the youkai.
--[x]With your magic.


The last two write-ins were good, but unfortunately majority rules here. Anyway, I'll be writing now. Expect some hot animal-on-Meira action with magic vines added to the mix intense 'Man vs Wild'-like fight scenes full of manly bravado, epic sword moves and testosterone serious youkai hunting on the next update!
>> No. 165656
File 136328342898.jpg - (5.01KB , 267x189 , it_kinda_looks_like_this.jpg ) [iqdb]
165656
This update should have come earlier, but I had a change of mind in the middle of the writing, and decided to start all over again. Sorry to keep you waiting, and also for any extra mistakes I very probably made on the rewriting process. Though I now I tend to make a lot even when I try to be careful...

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


You are a fugitive sought by one of the most powerful people in Gensokyo. Picking unnecessary fights like this one is completely unadvisable for your survival, especially if you take Meira's words into account: this particular youkai is much more aggressive than the others. You have no idea how powerful the beast really is, but if its capable of draining lifeforce, then getting tainted by it could very well mean your demise in the long run. As of now, you don't know if there's a cure for that. Besides, chances are you might die of physical injuries even before the taint kicks in. All youkai are significantly stronger than humans, and you aren't exactly the fittest person around. True, ever since you became bound to Rin, you recieved some new cool powers, like invoking hurricanes, growing roots, and buffing your muscles for a short time, but you aren't still used to them, and you don't know if that'll be enough to face anybody in battle.

But as they say, there's always a first time for everything, right?

"Oh no, tell me you're not thinking of..."

As Meira said, a youkai that dangerous can't be let roaming free. Since your destination lies further ahead, it's very probable you'll encounter it again if you let it escape. Taking care of it now will make your trip much easier in the near future. Besides, if you believe the sellsword's words, some people at the Kappa Village are already suffering from the youkai's taint, and if the youkai is not stopped soon, they're very likely to get worse. If you kill the youkai and find a cure for the desease, they'll surely be more willing to lend you a hand in return. Hell, they might even hail you as a hero!

"Assuming the youkai doesn't kill us," Rin says sternly.

Furthermore, you can't keep running forever if you plan on restoring Satsuki's memory. Sooner or later you'll come across someone who wants things to remain in secret, or in the worst case, Reimu will catch up with you. When that time comes, a fight will be inevitable, and you must have confidence in your new skills by then. You should get used to your powers as soon as you possible if you want to stay alive. And what better way to get some experience than hunting youkai?

"I can come up with a thousand better and safer ways to master magic than that," Rin answers. "Seriously, don't do it. It's too risky. You don't control the Wood element enough to use it in battle."

You tell the kirin to relax. Of course you're not stupid enough to charge mindlessly at the youkai's fangs, or claws, or whatever. For starters, you're not going to face it alonee.

"... So you trust her enough to free her?" Rin quickly catches up on your intentions.

It's not a matter of trust, but a matter of improving your chances. Meira looks like she knows what she does, and if she has been tracking the youkai for two days, then it's logical to assume she has some experience at fighting youkai too. She probably has a plan to deal with this one already. And there's also the strength in numbers too.

"Fine," Rin sighs, not too convinced. "But promise me, if things get dangerous, run away as fast as you can. Ditch her if you must."

You promise Satsuki what she asks. You don't plan to get killed so early, much less by a feral youkai. But the thought of leaving a (not so) defenseless woman behind at the face of danger feels absolutely detestable.

"I don't like this either, believe me, but we must get our priorities right. We can't get ourselves killed for being too chivalrous."

As usual, Rin speaks sense in dire times. But for the time being, you take Meira's shortsword and begin to cut the vine ropes free with it.

"Alright, I'll help you out," you tell Meira.

"You will?" she says as she rubs her sore wrists. Did you tie her so tight?

"Yeah. If that youkai is as nasty as you say it is, I also want it out of the picture."

"I work better alone," the woman stands up and dusts herself. "Having you around will only distract me. Besides, what can you do to fight youkai?"

"I can grow trees and vines, and I can call the wind. Is that enough for you?" You'd think she'd know after witnessing and experiencing them herself.

"But you can't control those powers at will," she points out.

"What? Yes I can! How would I have grown this huge tree otherwise?"

"Don't lie to me. I was watching the whole time, and you were as surprised as I was."

Oh crap, was she pretending to be unconscious all this time? Why would she do that? No, what's important is what else did she see or hear. By any chance, she didn't hear you talking to Rin, right? Only you can talk to the kirin, but maybe Meira heard you talking 'alone'...

"We've got other things to worry about at the moment," reminds Rin.

Right, the youkai is coming. There'll be time for arguments later.

"A-anyway, I'm sure my powers will come in handy if things go sour," you explain to Meira. "So let's call it a truce and team up for a time being, alright?"

Meira raises an eyebrow and looks at you with an undecipherable expression, probably judging if you're being serious or not, and thinking of what use could she get out of you. At least she hasn't attacked you yet like you feared, but you don't like that stare she's giving you...

"You won't go away even if I tell you, I suppose?" she says. You shake your head with more confidence than you really have, and she shrugs. "Guess I'm stuck with ya, then. Just don't get in my way, because my sword stops for nobody."

"Got it," something about Meira's tone tells you she's being completely serious about that.

"And don't blow another hurricane on my ass all of a sudden again."

"You'll be the first to know if I ever do," you chuckle nervously.

Meira was about to say something else, but she gets interrupted by another thunder. This time it came from much closer than before.

"So... any infallible plan?" you ask Meira.

"Actually..." the swordswoman brings her hand to her chin, plotting something. "I was just thinking of something..."

A slight smirk starts to form on Meira's face.

"Oh no, I don't like where this is going..."

Rin's suspicions are probably founded, but you have to admit Meira's the expert on youkai hunting here. Whatever she comes up with will probably be a better plan than yours or Satsuki's.

"Yes?"

"If it works out well, we could catch that pesky beast without breaking a sweat," Meira strokes her chin with her fingers, while she eyes the vines you cut half a minute ago.

"I'm listening."

Meira's smile turns into a full fledged daring grin. "So, wanna take up the spotlight, kid?"

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

"Why, why did you have to say 'yes'?" complains Rin for the umpteenth time.

You are now crouching in the middle of the clearing you've made when you called the hurricane. Sand and tiny peebles get under your nails everytime you dig the ground, and it's quite the cumbersome feeling. As you place another plum in the hole you've made and cover it up again, you sweep a hand over your brows to clean them of sweat and rainwater, dirtying your face with mud in the process. The hurried effort and the dampness of the forest in the storm makes your clothes stick uncomfortably to your body with sweat. But right now those weren't the greatest of your worries. You only have a little time to set it all up.

"Rin, how many have we planted already?" you ask the kirin.

"You should have known when she smiled like that!" Satsuki keeps on rambling. "This is all payback from how you treated her back then. Why did you have to agree with her? I bet she's laughing her ass off while she's hiding wherever she is right now. That, if she's still here. She might have dumped us here for all we know! I cannot believe you got ourselves in this situation..."

"Rin..."

"Thirteen, thirteen," she groans. "Seriously, if we get out of this alive, I'll have to teach you how not to be so gullible."

"Cut it out, Rin. It's all going to be alright. This plan is going to work," you try to reassure her.

"That's not the point!" Satsuki sounds very upset. "You threatened to leave her to the youkai before, and somehow we have become the bait! How could you let her turn the tables like this?"

"Oh, shut up alre-"

Another thunder interrupts you before things get heated between you and Rin, and this time it fell fairly close to where you stand. You cringe and cover your ears at the sudden noise, but you don't see any flash of light on the sky. Is it possible to make a thunder noise without lightning? It occurrs to you that maybe the youkai doesn't simply appear where thunderstorms happen. Maybe Meira was right about her hunch, and the youkai is causing them. And a beast capable of controlling thunder and lightning seems much more terrifying to you, even though you know getting your lifeforce drained is as dangerous as being thunderstruck. There's this feeling of dread about standing in the middle of a clearing, waiting for lightning to hit you, that really puts you on your nerves. Well, who wouldn't be scared? Maybe you should have listened to Rin after all.

Actually, hasn't Rin experienced something similar before? You recall that dream you had last night where she was being chased by a beast on a forest. The memory seemed so real, you thought at first it was some kind of premonitory dream, until Rin herself confirmed it was one of her forgotten memories. Who would have thought you'd end up like her too? If that's how Rin died, it's only fitting you'd meet your end in a similar fashion. Is it destiny?

A third thunder strikes, and you swear you heard those bushes in front of you rustle. Your head starts to hurt like hell. All the courage you've been building up up until now vanishes, like washed down by the rain, but the headache won't go away. This wasn't a good idea at all. What if the beast decides not to come out and simply fry you from afar? What if it's too fast for both you and Meira to attack? There must have been a moment where you could have said no. Maybe before agreeing to follow Meira's plan. Maybe before you decided to get into this blasted forest. Maybe before you made that fateful promise to Rin. But you missed it. Whatever happens next, you brought it on yourself.

But you can't give in to fear; otherwise you're done for. And now, more than ever, you couldn't afford to die. The history of your her people depends on it. You crouch in a defensive stance, ignoring the pain in your body and the cramps in your legs, and you move near one of the spots where you've planted a plum. If the youkai decides to come out of the bushes and attack, you'd better be near one of the sources of your power, according to plan. If they get you, it'll be the end not only for you, but for them too.

It's unbelievable, though. A few days ago you were enjoying your life as
a normal human boy in the village, and suddenly your whole life turns upside-down, your town gets burned down to the ground, and now you, one of the last survivors, are risking your life, hunted by the most dangerous youkai of the land. You almost feel like crumbling down to the ground and cry until it's all over. But you made a promise to Rin, to all of them. You can't stop now. This is not how your life will end! There's so much left to do, so many secrets to uncover. You can't give up just yet!

The headache remits at last. That was... strange. Were those really your own thoughts? Nevermind, at least your fear has subsided, and in its place there remains an inner sense of calmness and stillness that completely contrasts with the stormy weather. The rain keeps coming down like all the Celestials in Heaven decided to take a piss at the same time. You stand alert for any suspicious movement, and you listen carefully for any sound. Another thunder falls nearby, a big squirrel jumps out of the bushes frightened, and-

"There it is!" exclaims Rin all of a sudden.

"Huh, where?"

"There! In front of you, don't you see!?"

"What? Behind the squirrel?" You squint your eyes, trying to see past the heavy vegetation, but to no avail.

"It is the squirrel, you silly sod!"

...

No. Impossible. It can't be. So the extremely dangerous and ferocious youkai Meira was so worried about turns out to be an slightly oversized weasel? And you got yourself all worked up! All for a simple squirrel!? No. Just... no.

"Well, that's no ordinary squirrel," explains Rin, who sounds even more serious than before. "It's a raijuu."

Raijuu, the legendary beasts of thunder. From all the books you've read, raijuu were said to be cats, foxes, or wolves with bodies composed of pure lightning. They were able to fly by wrapping themselves into a ball of electricity, and their cries sounded like thunder. Legends told that the trees struck by lightning were actually scratched by raijuu. There were more details on them, but right now you couldn't bother to remember them. The creature you have in front of you doesn't look in the slightliest like the fearsome beasts you've read and heard about.

"But it isn't like the normal squirrels either," points Satsuki.

Now that she says it, she's right. For starters, the youkai is about ten inches long, larger than all the weasels you've seen. Black fur -or is it dark blue? You can't tell with the dim weather-, white ears and belly, and the end of its long tail is colored in bright yellow. The way the tail moves is hypnotic; it's as if there's a luminous orb flying around the weasel. All in all, a very unusual color for a squirrel.

"It's got huge, sharp claws too. Too sharp for my liking."

And those fangs don't look like they were made to peel fruits wither. They seem rather big and powerful for a slender animal like this one. It's almost looks like someone attached wolf claws to the weasel's paws. It'd be on your best interests not to be scratched by them.

"And look at its eyes! This raijuu's got a vicious glare," comments Rin. "It might be the most foul, cruel, and bad-tempered rodent I've ever set eyes on."

You lock eyes with the raijuu. At first glance, they look like normal black eyes. But once you stare deeper and deeper, you think you see something inside them. A spark of uncontrollable rabid anger beneath a conceating look of cleverness and guile. You finally realize this is no ordinary animal, as Rin has been telling you. This youkai is intelligent, it's powerful, and it's out for blood. A very dangerous combination for a legendary beast.

"It might be on a rampage, but that doesn't mean it's lost its cunning. If you're not careful, it'll do us up a big treat," warns Satsuki.

The raijuu is still standing there, eyeing you with keen interest. You wonder if that's the look of a predator measuring its prey up, or it's just genuine curiosity. If it wanted to attack you, it would have done so already. There was no need to come out of the bushes and reveal its position to you like that. There's definitely something strange about this raijuu. Whatever you do, you must tread carefully.

[]Stick to the plan: remain calm on your spot and let the raijuu get closer to you.
[]Walk slowly towards the raijuu, and once you get close enough...
-[]Try to pet it. The beast looks as confused as you. You don't think it'll attack you as long as you don't make any alarming moves.
-[]Give it food, like a plum. If you treat the animal nicely, it might warm up to you.
-[]Jump on it and break its neck quickly. That beast won't see it coming.
-[]Kill it with magic.
--[]Whip it, wrap it, and strangle it with vines.
--[]Call the wind of destruction on it.
[]You don't want the raijuu to get any closer. Try to scare it away by...
-[]Shouting at it. Shoo, shoo! Bad squirrel!
-[]Throwing sticks, stones or whatever you find at it.
-[]Using your magic.
--[]Trigger the vine traps you've set around.
--[]Call the wind and blow it away.
[]Abort the plan! Back away...
-[]Slowly and calmly as you can.
-[]Full speed! Run for your dear life!
[]Write in.

>> No. 165657
Hmm. Yea, I got nothing. Though approaching a deadly youkai sounds like such a ridiculously bad idea.
>> No. 165658
[X] Stick to the plan: remain calm on your spot and let the raijuu get closer to you.

Do not make sudden movements around a wild creature.

So, do we get to throw the Holy Hand Grenade at it if things go horribly wrong?
>> No. 165659
[x]Stick to the plan: remain calm on your spot and let the raijuu get closer to you.

Yeah, let's not try to make nice with the life-sucking volt squirrel. Stay on target.
>> No. 165663
[X]Walk slowly towards the raijuu, and once you get close enough...
-[X]Give it food, like a plum. If you treat the animal nicely, it might warm up to you.
-[X]Try to pet it. The beast looks as confused as you.

There is a small furry creature. I can't not pet it.
>> No. 165668
[X]Stick to the plan: remain calm on your spot and let the raijuu get closer to you.

Well, since we made the call to offer ourselves up as shmuck bait for Meira's plan, we might as well continue on with it. Doing anything outlandish may cause the raijuu to attack and kill us, and we don't even know if we're allowed to restart from a favorable location.

On the other hand, although it may be out for blood, due to its restraint, there is a small possibility that this raijuu belongs to Kasen, who 'owns' a wide variety of fantastic creatures like this raijuu. There is a small chance that it may have run away from Kasen again, although I'm just going off on a tangent. If I'm correct, harming it may result in undesirable consequences if Kasen finds out about our involvement in the harming or killing one of her pets...

Just giving more ideas for the writer to slap us in the back with later on
>> No. 165669
>>165668

Same thing. We might as well see this plan through to the end. This will either be hilarious, awesome, tragic, or some combination.

A gotta say, what amounts to magical Killer Squirrel was the last thing I expected. Kinda fits in Gensokyo now that I think about it.
>> No. 165673
-[x]Kill it with magic.
--[x]Whip it, wrap it, and strangle it with vines.

No mercy.
>> No. 165689
File 13634538344.gif - (66.17KB , 400x300 , stayontarget.gif ) [iqdb]
165689
[x] Stick to the plan: remain calm on your spot and let the raijuu get closer to you.
>> No. 165700
[X] Pet the squirrel pet it pet it PET ITPET PET PET PET PET PET PET PET PET PET PET PET PET PET

Oh wait, this isn't Do The Right Thing.
In all seriousness we should probably
[X] Stick to the plan: remain calm on your spot and let the raijuu get closer to you.
>> No. 165717
>>165658
If you happen to get one in the future, remember not to count to four, neither two, excepting that you proceed to three.

>>165668
Got that already covered, bro. But it's always nice to see readers coming up with more ways to make their own lifes harder than they already are.

>>165669
Overpowered magical pets? Sure, that fits with Gensokyo. Not sure about the killer part, though.

>>165689
So if I am to reenact that particular scene, I have to kill Meira off? Guise, you know who to blame now.

>>165700
Who told you petting killer squirrels isn't going to work? The power of love can do wonders sometimes. wher is teh luv? TEH LOEV?

Well, anyways, I'm closing the votes for following the plan to the very end. And now I notice we're nearing the autosage limit! w00t! Which makes me wonder if I should post the next update on a new thread or not.
>> No. 165719
Make a new thread, sure.
>> No. 165720
Seconding that notion.
>> No. 165750
>>165717

The autosage limit is 250, I'm sure you can stick at least one more update in this thread.
>> No. 165777
File 13638641024.png - (447.87KB , 1024x683 , qyr65r280246w23.png ) [iqdb]
165777
Fifty posts are still a long way to go before autosaging the thread. As >>165750 says, I believe there's room for one or two more updates yet. Besides, I think it's more fitting to begin the new thread after the fight is done. If you survive the fight, that's it. Come on, guys, we're so close to starting the second thread! Don't screw up now!

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

When facing a wild animal, making sudden moves is one of the worsts mistakes you can do, be it when you're hunting small creatures, or when you're being hunted by a bigger beast. Move too quickly, and the bird will fly away. Make a false step, and the bear will jump on you. Although this time you're in front of a beast that normally would be the prey, the point still stands, and so you stand still on your spot, eyeing the raijuu intensely.

The blue weasel returns your gaze and crouches to the ground, body in tension, sharp teeth showing in a menacing growl. You mimic its moves, and slowly, ever so slowly, you place a hand on the mud under your feet, where you planted your last plum. Will you be fast enough to activate your powers before the raijuu reaches you? But the youkai does not move from its spot. Maybe it's waiting for you to drop your guard. Or worse, it's deliberately trying to make you lose your nerve, to make you panic. And it's working.

"Fear hurts more than claws or fangs," Rin tries to calm you down. "Giving in to panic will only make it easier for the raijuu."

You already know that! But the thing is, you are afraid of are those claws and fangs, that's the problem. One single scrap, and you'll probably get tainted with that strange disease. There's no way you can beat this youkai without getting hit at all! Maybe it doesn't even need to make physical contact with you to infect you! What if you're already-?

"Don't panic! Take a deep breath, prepare to cast the magic, and let me handle the rest."

Alright, calm down, calm down... You're probably overreacting, yes. Breath in, breath out... It's all going to be alright. You do as Rin tells you, and you submerge yourself into your sleeping mind, trying to recall the same enchantment you used to grow the plums earlier. As you delve deeper and deeper, you begin to lose sense of your consciousness, and when you realize, you have already slipped into the depths of your sleeping mind.

You've already experienced this feeling already, but it still feels strange. Everything becomes distant, yet closer than ever. The events that take place in front of your eyes don't register in your mind, but at the same time, things that you thought you didn't know suddenly become cristal clear. In this calm state of mind, you somehow realize what to do now, but when you try to move your body, it doesn't respond to your orders.

You suddenly realize you are no longer in control of yourself. But Rin said she was going to handle the rest, so you needn't worry, right?

The storm keeps pouring rain down mercilessly, ignoring the staring contest between beast and human. The tension is palpable in the ambient - both in literal and metaphorical meanings. Human and youkai stand still; the
raijuu glowing with static electricity, and the kid introducing his fingers in the mud, with the plant growth enchantment in his throat. Time dilates as the two wait for the other to make the first move, until seconds become minutes, and minutes become hours. There's only a few meters between raijuu and human, but for both of them, it's as if there is an abism in between. Time is the longest distance between two places, and time keeps stretching longer and longer for them.

And then lightning falls down in the distance, acting as the initial bang. With a hiss, the
raijuu jumps at the human at lightspeed, its silhouette becoming a blur too fast for the normal eye to follow. But you're no longer looking through "normal" eyes, so you can still see it perfectly, as if it were standing still. The human shouts something inintelligible for the normal ear. But you're no longer hearing with "normal" ears, and the enchantment the kid is casting seems familiar.

You see the blue weasel about to gnaw at the kid's neck. But before it gets to sink its fangs, a bush of roots suddenly shoot up from the ground and covers the human's surroudings with thick branches. The
raijuu, unable to change its trajectory midjump, crashes helplessly against the newly born plum tree with a loud thud, but quickly stands up again on its four paws and retreats a few meters.

The human takes this chance and repeats the enchantment again, and vines appear from every hole you've dug beforehand. This level of magic is in another league; whereas your vines took several minutes to grow to a decent level, the roots the human is making appear instantaneously are enourmous, and they wag as if they were alive, threatening to hit the
raijuu with the strength of a whip. Is this the true extent of the Wood Element?

Nonetheless, no matter how fast the vines move, the
raijuu is always a bit faster. The weasel frantically jumps all over the place with the grace and agility of a feline, weaving through every nook and hole the growing vegetation leaves open.

Something nags you in the bottom of your mind. Something about a plan going wrong, or whatever? But you're too focused on the fight to think about it. The vicious dance between the human and the youkai takes all of your attention.

One of the branches finally manages to wrap around one of the
raijuu's legs, but the beast lets the electricity it's been building up loose and burns the root to a crisp. The weasel keeps trying to get closer to the human, but to no avail, for two vines appear for each the enraged youkai destroys. The kid, however, is also unable to catch the legendary beast between the roots. The battle is intense, but the situation is as stale as it was before the fight broke out. Neither human nor beast have a clear advantage over its opponent.

This is a battle of endurance, and the outcome would be determined by a single question - will the human run out of seeds to produce vines, or will the
raijuu get tired before that happens? By the looks of it, the thunderbeast seems like it has plenty of energy to spare. The human cannot win this losing battle if he just keeps growing roots randomly. You've lost the count, but you believe he has already used most of the plums you've planted around the area. Yes, his magic might be more powerful than yours, but power alone won't win this fight, so you deem it necessary to step up and regain control of your own body.

"Wait, what are you doing? No!"

Rin's voice tries to stop you, but she's too late. When you come back to your senses, everything becomes fuzzy for a second, and you feel completely drained. The sudden drop of strength makes you stumble and fall on your knees, unable to maintain your balance. Growing all those vines in such a short period of time must have depleted your energies.

"Why!? Why did you butt in now!? I almost had it!"

The raijuu notices the roots have stopped growing, and it stares at you with a predatory gaze. Oh, this is bad. It sees you kneeling on the mud, and immediatly realizes the tables have turned. Thankfully, the battleground is littered with roots and branches everywhere, so the weasel can't jump straight to you, forcing the thunderbeast to pounce from vine to vine to reach you.

"Get up!" screams Rin alarmed. "It's going for the kill!"

No, that's good. This is what you and Meira planned all along, after all.

"But-!"

You stay on your spot, letting the raijuu get closer. Still breathing heavily to recover your strength, you hastily pick a handful of dirt and one of the two plum seeds you didn't have time to plant from your sleeve. Never losing sight of the youkai, you knead and mash the soil and the seed into a solid ball of mud with surprise inside. You only have once chance. Too fast, and the beast will escape again; too slow, and it'll be your end.

Its eyes glisten for a split second with lightning blue. A lightning strikes nearby, deafening thunder confusing with the beasts' roar. The weasel tenses like a bow about to shoot an arrow, and jumps.

"Meira!" you shout as loud as you can.

The very moment the raijuu detaches from the ground, you throw the mudball at its face with all your strength, and you smile with delight as the beast couldn't do anything but helplessly recieve the impact. The weasel was fast, but once it jumped, it couldn't change its direction until it fell to the ground again. Your plan was to take advantage of this to stick a seed on its body. What you didn't take into account was that the raijuu, although momentarily blinded by the mud on its eyes, is still lunging towards you. In a reflex move, you cross your arms in front of you and brace for-!

"Goddammit, kid!"

A shadow cladded in red and white jumps between you and the raijuu just before the impact. With almost inhuman speed, Meira blocks the raijuu's tackle with a sweep of her sword. However, the force and weight of the beast are too great for the woman to stop completely, and both swordswoman and youkai end up rolling on the ground a few meters, until they hit one of the overgrown roots you used previously. Meira is still stunned by the impact, but the weasel is starting to get up on its feet again.

Gods, this plan has gone all kinds of wrong! You don't have much time - you begin to recite the enchantment of plum growth as fast as you can. It occurs to you that this is the first time you've done this at a distance; when you grew the tree and the vines earlier, you were touching them, but now you're pretty far away from the seed you want to unleash your magic on. You know it's possible to do it without physical contact. In fact, you already did so, but you weren't in full control of yourself at the time. Will you be able to repeat that feat now? Do you even have enough energy left to cast a spell?

No, this is no time for doubts. Meira just saved your life, and now she's in danger because of it. It's not a matter if you can or not. Just do it!

"Spirits of the woods and air. Perpetual plain of green. Tall grasses as limbs. Tangled vines as hair..."

Ah, so that's what you were saying all this time? Right until now, you've been using that enchantment without knowing what it meant. Now that you know what it says, it sounds familiar. You remember reading that poem you just recited in some book - no, it wasn't worded exactly like that, but it's not important now. You felt like it was the appropiate thing to say, and since it's working, that's enough for you.

The raijuu shakes its head, still dazed by the impact and blinded by the mud. Meira is still wincing on the ground. Time is of the essence.

"...Heed my call! Strangle my enemies, knot the weeds around their hearts, so they cannot cut through the thick roots. Let the garden grow around myself, on their bodies! Wood Sign: Bountiful Harvest!"

You can't explain why you felt the urge to name the spell you've casted at this time, and how you came with such a name without thinking. No matter, it's not relevant at the moment. You let the magic loose, and the spell works its wonders. The plum seed you've previously thrown at the raijuu begins to glow with a bright green light, and a moment later, a myriad of roots explode out of it and entangle the thunderbeast with vines as strong as ropes in a matter of seconds. The weasel whines and winces in pain, trying to free itself from the tight grasp of the growing plum, but all it accomplishes is to flop on the ground helplessly.

Finally, after all this ordeal, you managed to trap the raijuu in your vines like in the original plan. Now comes the part where Meira jumps from her hideout and deal the swift final move... but at the current moment she's still lying on the ground, struggling to get her breath back. Your magic is powerful, but you have no means to kill the youkai for real, so you must rely on the swordswoman to finish it off. You rush to her and help her up to her feet.

"I got it, Meira! Now's your chance!"

"Yeah... right..."

Still in a daze, Meira stumbles towards the hogtied raijuu and lifts her sword over her head, ready to swing it down...

"Close your eyes!" Rin shouts.

Satsuki's warning makes no sense at first, but when you see the raijuu's body glowing with a light blue light, you quickly heed her order and cover your face with your arm. It's still not enough for what happens next. Bellowing thunder cries from the beast's mouth, and a blinding blaze of white light fill your vision. Even though you've covered your eyes, the light still burns in your retinae. You think you hear an explosion, but the beast's roar was so loud it left your ears ringing.

Temporarily blind and deaf, you try to regain your bearings. What the hell just happened!? Did the raijuu use the power of lightning? You try to open your eyes, but it still hurts. For a split second, you think you see the silhouette of the thunderbeast jumping on top of the swordswoman, who falls to the ground. A flash of silver flies from her hand and lands near you before you close your eyes, unable to withstand the pain in your retinae any longer. You are still confused, but from what you've seen, Meira seems to be in deep trouble. You must do something!

[]You can't do anything in this state! You'd better wait until you can see and hear properly, before you make a stupid move.
[]You musn't let the raijuu bite Meira! Stand up and tackle it with all your might!
[]Take that silver thing and...
-[]Toss it to Meira!
-[]Run to the raijuu and hit it with it!
[]You're deaf, but not mute! You can still use magic!
-[]And you still have one seed left! Wood Sign: Bountiful Harvest!
-[]"Leaves falling from the trees. Petals withering at our feet. Life escaping our bodies, swiftly carried by the wind."
[]Write-in.

>> No. 165781
[x]You musn't let the raijuu bite Meira! Stand up and tackle it with all your might!
>> No. 165790
[x]Take that silver thing and...
-[x]You musn't let the raijuu bite Meira! Stand up and tackle it with all your might!
-[x] Drop the silver thing when you tackle the beast.

So we distract it, and give the sword to meira at the same time
>> No. 165799
[x]You're deaf, but not mute! You can still use magic!
-[x]And you still have one seed left! Wood Sign: Bountiful Harvest!

Stick to what we're relatively good at. Toss the sword to Meira after we've bound the thing.
>> No. 165815
[]You're deaf, but not mute! You can still use magic!
-[]And you still have one seed left! Wood Sign: Bountiful Harvest!


kinky vine powers are go
>> No. 165816
[]Take that silver thing and...
-[]Toss it to Meira!
>> No. 165820
[X]Take that silver thing and...
-[X]You musn't let the raijuu bite Meira! Stand up and tackle it with all your might!
-[X] Drop the silver thing when you tackle the beast.

>>165799
>>165815
Considering that spell was used to bind and immobilize, wouldn't that just bind the raijuu AND Meira together since they're currently grappling?
>> No. 165822
>>165820

Kinky. Vine. Powers.
>> No. 165878
[X]Take that silver thing and...
-[X]You musn't let the raijuu bite Meira! Stand up and tackle it with all your might!
-[X] Drop the silver thing when you tackle the beast.

Stupid heroics time.
>> No. 165887
[X]Take that silver thing and...
-[X]You musn't let the raijuu bite Meira! Stand up and tackle it with all your might!
-[X] Drop the silver thing when you tackle the beast.
>> No. 165900
>>Wood Sign: Bountiful Harvest
Calling it here, we will become Minoriko with Rin becoming our Shizuha. Meira will curse us so much for this that she will transform into Hina. And some time in the future, when the Moriya Shrine appears at the mountain, Reimu will use it as an excuse to enter the mountain and attack us.
This story is a prologue to MoF.
>> No. 165920
ehh?
>> No. 165939
[X]Take that silver thing and...
-[X]You musn't let the raijuu bite Meira! Stand up and tackle it with all your might!
-[X] Drop the silver thing when you tackle the beast.

Yeah, this either kills us or will be really awesome.
>> No. 165997
>>165900
We meet again, Mr. >>164647 This time however you were not even close. This story is set after all the main Touhou games up until now, so depending on your choices you could meet any Touhou character known. If it's a friendly encounter or not, that's a different matter altoghether.

>>165939
Why not both?

Anyway, calling it for:

[X]Take that silver thing and...
-[X]You musn't let the raijuu bite Meira! Stand up and tackle it with all your might!
-[X] Drop the silver thing when you tackle the beast.


Next update will be the last one of this thread. I never thought I'd come this far. Seriosuly, I believed I was going to leave this abandoned due to real life reasons, but so far I manage to keep pulling this. Ehhhh, better stop here and leave the author notes for the thread closure.
>> No. 166085
File 136460122411.jpg - (176.29KB , 849x1100 , sample-446da2f272305037fdc7253dfc0278ef.jpg ) [iqdb]
166085
Maintaining your balance while blinded and deaf turns out to be much harder than you thought. You try to stand up, but you trip over something -one of your roots, most probably- and fall face first to the ground. Spitting the mud that entered your mouth, you make an effort to pry your eyes open again. The light still hurts, even though there seldom is any ray of daylight left. However, you still manage to make out a distintive shape out from the blinding whiteness: a long and slim shade of silver. You instinctively reach for it, and in your blindness, you accidentaly grab it by its edge.

The sting of the blade kneeling on your fingers, rending skin and flesh apart. You scream in surprise and pain - but you realize that you can hear yourself yelling. The red river flowing from your digits and running down the steel. You tremble at the sight of your own blood - but you realize that your sight has returned. Your hand throbs and burns intensely, but you force yourself to direct your attention to the scene happening a few meters in front of you.

Meira and the raijuu are struggling on the ground, the beast on top of the human, only a couple of centimiters away to sink its fangs on the woman's face. The sellsword is still dazzled, but somehow she manages to put her hands on the weasel's neck and push it away enough to stay its teeth away from her. However, it is a losing tussle for Meira, who seems no longer able to keep the beast at bay by sheer force. She needs assistance urgently. But what can you do?

"Where Wood couldn't overpower the beast of thunder, Metal will," Rin's voice barely reaches you.

Metal, as in one of the elements of the Wu Xing Rin told you about earlier? No, you'd rather not risk it with magic. You don't even know how to cast Wood correctly; using a completely new branch of magic before mastering the one you just learned a few minutes ago doesn't seem like a bright idea. Not to mention you take too long to cast a spell. Meira would appreciate ir if help arrived now.

But what if you take Rin's advice the literal way? You stare down at the blade you're holding in your bleeding hand, and you recall a quote of another of the adventure books you read a long time ago.

Each man stands with his face in the light of his own drawn sword, ready to do what a hero can.

"... Are you sure about that?"

However, no matter how long and hard you stare at the blade, you cannot see your own reflection on it. Maybe it's your own blood covering it, maybe it's because your vision hasn't recovered fully yet. A feeling of uneasiness overcomes you, as you realize a number of things:

First, that this isn't your sword; it was Meira's. Despite the dire situation she's in, it just feels wrong to use another person's blade. Especially one that apparently has seen many adventures with its rightful owner.

Second, that you are no hero. You're just a poor boy from a humble family who had the misfortune to stumble across a demon book, and is being hunted by it. You're not a powerful magician, as it's been proved in this battle. And you're certainly not an expert swordsman like Meira. The only experience you have in swordsmanship are the pretend battles you had with other kids of your same age. You've never picked up a real sword in your life. Doing it now would likely result in further unwanted injury to either you or Meira - as the pain in your left hand reminds you constantly.

Even so, you must do what you must, because you can. Even if you're a powerless good-at-nothing boy, if you can return the favor to Meira, then you have to do it, personal safety be damned.

"Hold it right there! This is not a good ide- oh boy, here we go."

Completely ignoring Rin, you firmly grasp the sword with your good hand - making sure you take it by the hilt this time -, then you stand up and run towards the raijuu, screaming with all the strength your lungs could muster. It's enough to stop the beast from trying to eat Meira, and it turns its head to you. You notice the raijuu's fur bristle and glow in alarm and warning, but it's already too late for you to change direction.

You lunge towards the beast and tackle it to the ground, while at the same time you drop the blade near Meira. The moment you make contact with the thunderbeast -

BZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZTohgodthepainalloveryourbodyyoucan'ttakeitanymore! you feel a shock running through your body, cramping your every muscle for a second, but thankfully it dissapears the moment you touch the floor and roll. It was a very uncomfortable feeling, and the sensation still lingers in your body: every limb feels as it would snap at any moment from the tension.

In fact, you find out you can't move your body at all, much to your horror. But this time it isn't because of you slipping into the sleeping mind - you still retain the sense of control over your body. You can still feel your members, but they just don't respond to your orders.

"Your nerves must have shorted with that electric shock," explains Rin. "That's why I told you it wasn't a good idea."

It's fine to know what happened, but your body is still cramped. Is this going to last for long? Will you be able to move again?

[i]"It wasn't a strong shock, so your body should recover naturally with time."


Knowing that reassures you, but time is precisely what you lack at the moment. Those scary weasel fangs aren't going to wait until you regain your mobility. Well, you kind of expected this to happen. You lock eyes with the raijuu, not willing to go out without defiantly staring at death in the face. The beast stops in its tracks, caught in this impromptu glaring contest.

Strenght. Confusion. You begin to see something deep inside the raijuu's pupils. Determination. Anger. This feeling... Persistence. Angst. ... is like that moment when you stared at the plum tree. But... Ambition. Solitude. It's not that simple. You can only catch random glimpses of what's on the raijuu mind, but you feel like you are beginning to comprehend this beast more and more. And in return, the raijuu also stares deep within you. It's all very confusing, but... you almost feel an invisible bond forging between both of you, tying you closer and closer as you begin to understand each other better and-

Waitwaitwaitwaitwaitwait wait wait wait wait waaaaaaait a second. This almost sounds like you're falling in love with the weasel. Gods, no! That's ridiculous! Abort, abort, abort! Break eye contact! Don't think about what you saw! Think about... um, you don't know, about those fangs about to clamp on your jugular? Yeah, that'll do. Unsettling, but effective. Yep. Let your puzzlement return to genuine fear. Yes, that's right. No strange thoughts. Much better. Well, you're about to die, but at least you'll do so with no doubts about your preferences.

"Are you done yet?" asks Rin.

Yes, you're done. With everything right on your mind again, you return your attention to the battlefi-

-a flash of red, silver and white swiftly slashes across a surprised blue weasel, cutting it in half and spraying the grass, the mud and the roots around in brilliant crimson. A pained and inhuman howl of pain and agony gets masked under the roar of thunder. You hold your breath, overwhelmed by the disgusting yet beautiful display of gore.

"I've got you now, cursed beast!" cries Meira.

The swordswoman, in a well practiced move, sweeps her sword downwards to get rid of the blood, then she runs it slowly along her elbow to clean the remaining drops of red liquid with her sleeve. Meira is about to sheathe her trusty blade back into its scabbard, but at that moment you notice something moving in the corner of your eye.

"Meira!" you call out to the woman.

The sellsword turns to you, and then directs her attention to where you're looking. Her mouth stands agape in disbelief - probably as open as yours - when she sees the raijuu running away from the clearing; badly hurt and leaving a trail of blood behind, but still alive nonetheless. It looks like the beast jumped at the very last second and avoided being mortally wounded, but Meira's attack managed to cut its tail off. The rear appendage is now lying on the ground, blood slowly flowing from the wound and tarnishing the blue and yellow fur in red.

"Oh no, you're not getting away this time, you little bleeder!" shouts Meira.

The woman begins to run after the raijuu, and dissapears between the bushes, following the trail of blood.

"Wait!" you yell to her, but she either doesn't hear you or doesn't heed your call.

You try to follow her, but your legs and arms still feel wobbly and unresponsive from the shock. It'll be a while before you can move normally, but you believe you can at least crawl your way if you make an effort. Besides, now that the battle is over, the tension and the adrenaline give way to incredible tiredness and fatigue. But knowing that, after all this, you let the raijuu escape...

"Don't worry, Meira will manage on her own from here," says Rin. "You should get some rest."

Now that she says it, the prospect of closing your eyes and doze off for a minute seems so appealing...

"I'm not saying you should take a nap. Not in the middle of the forest. But a little breather would do you good, at least until your body recovers from the cramps."

Still, it does feel bad to just leave everything to Meira, after everything that has happened. And you don't want to admit it, but in that split second when you and the beast crossed gazes... it's as if...

"You were trying to connect with it the same way you did with the tree and the seeds, right?" infers Satsuki.

Were you? The truth is you almost felt like you truly understood the raijuu's motivations, its raison d'etre, so to speak. Why was it so infuriated, why did it begin to attack indiscriminately, why-

"Don't you ever do it again, you hear me?" Rin sounds deadly serious.

Do what?

"Trying to 'understand' a living being. Connecting with elements, objects and plants is already complex enough for your sleeping mind," she explains. "Trying to do so with a sentient being with his own will and mind will overload your brain, with... unfortunate results, to put it mildly."

That just raises a lot more questions, but right now you feel too tired to ask them. For the time being, you just jot mentally that using magic to control living beings is a total no-no. You'll ask for more detailed explanations later. But for now...

[]You'll take a well deserved rest here, and wait until you recover your normal mobility.
[]You'll follow after Meira and the raijuu's track, and finish what your started.
[]You'll continue searching for the Kappa Village. You've already wasted enough time.


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

Too tired to write the author commentary closing section. I'll post it tomorrow.
>> No. 166087
[x]You'll take a well deserved rest here, and wait until you recover your normal mobility.

We need a breather. We're useless until we have our strength back.
>> No. 166088
[]You'll take a well deserved rest here, and wait until you recover your normal mobility.
>> No. 166089
[x]You'll follow after Meira and the raijuu's track, and finish what your started.
Not *knowing* something can be a tool, just like flesh and steel, if upon encountering it, you attempt to *know* its nature and how it came to be. She does a poor job as an adviser if she asks for ignorance. When has not knowing something helped?

I'm sure her objection is that we may look too deep in the abyss, as it were, but I think he should be able to glance through the surface long enough to bring understanding. That could be extremely useful.
>> No. 166091
[x]You'll take a well deserved rest here, and wait until you recover your normal mobility

But we can't wait too long. There's no way all this ruckus didn't attract attention.
>> No. 166099
[X]You'll take a well deserved rest here, and wait until you recover your normal mobility.
>> No. 166104
[X]You'll continue searching for the Kappa Village. You've already wasted enough time.

We should still be wary of anybody in the area who noticed our skirmish against the Raijuu. Even though it may have already eliminated everyone in the general area, it doesn't hurt to be cautious. Besides, what else do we have to gain for pursuing a seriously injured creature besides suicidal bravery? Meira may appreciate our efforts to persist in aiding her quest to kill the Raijuu, but I feel that we've already done our part. After all, we're still wanted fugitives, and working for the common good won't mean anything if Reimu will summarily execute us for freeing Rin from her seal.

>>166089

You might want to look at what >>165373 said. I've already learned from my lesson, so I hope that you weren't part of that fail train.
>> No. 166105
File 13646616182.jpg - (288.84KB , 800x706 , 564c7c890af70aab2b45e1a18cadd806.jpg ) [iqdb]
166105
Now that we're nearing the autosage limit, I believe the next update should be done in a new thread. To kill this one, I'd like to say a few things about this story, and ask you followers about your take on how it should continue in the future. Votes are still open, by the way.

Warning: Boring wall of text where writefag rambles about his story below. The questions I'd like to ask you are further ahead, so you can skip this if you want.

I'll begin by saying that I'm a fairly new visitor of this site, who got in from the II Writeathlon Contest. By the time, I was suffering from a very severe case of writer block; the blank sheet of my word processor was a wall too high for me to climb over. One day, an user from an IRC chatroom I hang around reccomended me to try my hand at the Writeathlon. I said "sure, why not, maybe a little competition is what I need to break throug my block".

So I joined, and I somehow managed to put an idea for a short fic I had for a while into words. The posted story ( >>/th/162260 ) was riddled with errors and typos everywhere, and I had to cut some parts short to fit the word limit. Still, I ended up fairly well in the rookie category (second place, holy hell), even though most of the competence had more talent than I in my opinion. In fact, the high standards of this site is what convinced me to give THP a chance enev though I heard many bad things about it from other sources.

I lurked for a few months, skimming through some of the stories at some boards, ocassionally voting and participating in some discussions, etc. But I still didn't feel confident enough to start a story. Writing a CYOA seemed so much harder than writing your usual run-of-the-mill short - and as I'd later discover, it really is. The level of planning needed to keep a plot, taking into account every option that Anon could choose from, and including the occassional write-in, it seemed too much to handle.

And then, one day, I read that joke copypasta at >>/gensokyo/10478 and the comments. It was somewhat funny - I blew some air out of my nostrils when I read the OP -, but a certain comment got my attention. Yes, that's the very same comment I talked about on the very first lines of the very first post of this thread. Anon thought he could outwit Reimu? Now that was an interesting dare. It was the spark I needed to get my writer mind into maximum overwrite mode.

So, forsaking any careful planning, I finally posted the opening of Gensokyo Public Enemy the first day of December. Actually, I did have a few ideas on my head beforehand, such as putting Rin Satsuki, the scrapped character, into a demon book (thanks to Forbidden Scrollery for this plot device), but I mostly dove head first into the pool of CYOAs without any idea of how this was going to end. Generally, this is not encouraged, because most unplanned CYOAs end being abandoned sooner or later. But on I marched anyway, writing whenever I could, trying to fit every new idea I came up with.

On hindsight, I should have refrained to do so until I had the general plot better thought. But that day I was really stressed from exams, and I ended up putting what little I had written on a whim. Now I regret doing so, because there are some parts I'd prefer changed or outright gone to suit the plot I have now planned. But oh well, I'm digressing.

The thing is that, deep inside, I knew this was not going to work. I hadn't planned this enough; I didn't even know what kind of story did I want to write in the first place! But the thing is, people were interested, and they voted. Much more than I expected. I just couldn't betray my readers. This story couldn't fall into the evergrowing pile of scrapped and stalled CYOAs.

This is also when I found out about Ancient Gensokyo, which is for now my favourite story of this site. The way the writefag took some obscure yet interesting plot threads, how he tied them toghether, the great beauty of his prose and dialogues, the characterization of the characters, and above all else, the involvment the readers had when it was time to make important decisions, and all the debates they spurned. Everything about Ancient Gensokyo captivated me, and I realized this is what I wanted my own stories to be like, salvaging any obvious differences. So, inspiring myself on it, I took a moment to carefully plan some possible outcomes of this story, and I finally outlined a general plot - even though some parts might not fit as well as I'd like with what is already written.

Now I am ready to tackle this CYOA seriously. There might be many typos and errors along the way, my descriptions and dialogues might not be as interesting as some of the greatest stories of this site, and in the end I might leave one or two plotholes in my attempt to make this a serious story. But this CYOA will continue as long as there's still one reader interested in it, and I intend to walk down the road of this adventure with all of you, all the while learning from my mistakes and improving little by little. Thank you for your support and your commentaries, dear Anons! Let's see where your choices take us, shall we?

End of wall of text

And I guess that is all about what drives me to keep on with this story. Now I'd want you anons to take a minute or two to answer these questions, for the sake of making this CYOA more enjoyable in the next updates.

If you read that massive wall above, you'd recall that I, at the beginning, I did not know how the plot was going to unravel. Now I have some ideas for the future, but I still have one thing unclear, and that is how to develop said ideas.

I'll explain myself better: if you noticed, the general tone of this CYOA is fairly serious and dark, what with being under the constant threat of death under the hands of Reimu, being captured by the human guards, or being eaten alive by a feral youkai, and many much to come. However, in the latest updates, I've been throwing some references here and there in an attempt to make the mood a bit more lighthearted, in accordance to how Gensokyo denizens treat any incident. This, however, breaks the already established mood of this particular story.

So my query is, would you prefer this story to be taken seriously? Would you rather want the plot to be more lighthearted? Or maybe do you want me to strike a balance between seriousness and humor?

Next, it's the matter of choices. I've noticed most of you writers only pick one of the many options I give you, instead of trying your luck with a write-in. This is an issue that has been adressed at some threads on /blue/, but it still feels somewhat disheartening to see the readers limiting themselves to just vote, without giving their opinion about the story.

Now I may be too influenced by Ancient Gensokyo, where the plot naturally allowed for moral dilemmas to be discussed, whereas as this story only focuses on raw survival (for now). Or maybe it's that you Anons have no time to think about a good write in, or that you are afraid to propose something that might lead you to a bad end. If it's the latter, I assure you that I won't 100% bad end you for just a simple choice - only if you strike a long streak of stupid decisions I'll feel forced to do so.

But anyway, I was considering on offering you less preestablished options in the next updates, to force you readers to use your imagination and come up with interesting solutions to all the problems I throw at you. After all, I also see this CYOA as a kind of duel of wits and cunning between me, the writer, against you, the readers. But since I realize this might be asking too much for some of you for the reasons stated above, I can keep on giving you wide arrays of options if you still want. So, the second query is, do you want me to give you less options to force you to make write-ins? Or are you okay with how I present possible options as of now?

I think that's all I had to say. And it was quite a lot now that I read through it. Thanks for the time you've dedicated in this story. For a amateur writer like me, seeing his readers getting involved with his story is the greates source of joy and accomplishment he could have.
>> No. 166107
First off, I'm GLAD you decided to stick with this story. It's very interesting, and seeing another dropped story would just be too depressing. We NEED writers of your caliber here. All too few just give up.

And it's though-provoking. Remember all the debate around the ethics of helping/abandoning Kotohime? That's the sort of debate that shows that a story is good.

In answer to your questions, I strongly recommend keeping the story serious. It's serious premise, and we shouldn't take it too lightly. That said, a little levity is always welcome in such a story. It keeps things light, and prevents things from becoming too grimdark. A spot of light here and there in a story otherwise about survival. Comic relief, is I guess what I'm trying to say.

As for the options, keep them as they are. Still, it's good to know that you'll be lenient on that front; I for one will try to be a bit more creative when it comes to the write-ins.

tldr You're doing great.
>> No. 166108
And I, uh, forgot to mention it, but as always, fell free to adress any idea or suggestion you come up with to improve this story. Or if you have any question or doubt, I'll answer it the best I can without spoiling the plot.
>> No. 166109
[X]You'll take a well deserved rest here, and wait until you recover your normal mobility.

>>165997
165900 here, I am not 164647. And I figured that not being close, just wanted to throw out the crack theory I thought of while reading.

>>166105
Good thing I F5'd before posting.
Just because the story is generally serious it odes not have to be devoid of humour. Unless you want to aim for something really grimdark like Touhou 40K, there is no problem in having lighter scenes where we (as the protagonist and reader) can catch our breath from all the running. Personally I did not find any flaw with the humour so far, it was neither being overbearing and destroying the seriousness nor too sparse and making the story "too" serious. Then again I come up with crack theories about stuff I read without really trying too, so yeah.
About the write-ins, I feel like there mostly was no reason to try them with the given options covering most bases already. Taking the current vote as an example resting, following Meira (sub quest)and continuing to Kappa Village (main quest) are pretty much the only sensible things I could think of in this situation as well. Not-so-sensible write-ins I can think of would be making a 180 and going to Eientei/SDM/wherever (randomly aborting the current main quest and choosing another), settling down right here where we already built a makeshift vine cave(stupidity), and of course returning to the Human Village and turning ourselves in(cowardice/resignation).
If you want write-ins either make all votes write-in only like some stories do, or wait until we get into a situation where we are inspired to try and create some epic write-in(tm) to save our hide/score a touhou/give Sacchin a seperate body and score her.
>> No. 166112
[]You'll take a well deserved rest here, and wait until you recover your normal mobility.

This is the main story I'm looking forward to when I go to this site. Thank you for continuing it. I really needed a good story to read after I read an entire story just to find out that the writer of it got banned.

I think the story should be a serious one. I see a lot of potential in the story and I think only a serious tone would allow it to realise that potential. I'm not saying that we should avoid humour and lightheartedness but they shouldn't be the main focus of the story. This story has a good plot and we should make the most of it.

If I could write a write in then I would write my own story. I don't have the creativity neccessary to write a good write in and I'd prefer not to be forced into one. If I get an idea that I think is good then I'll write in but you should keep the amount of options you have now. I don't want to be forced into wrtiting in.
>> No. 166139
[x]You'll take a well deserved rest here, and wait until you recover your normal mobility.

You. You're awesome.

Don't stop being awesome.

As for tone, I've never been one for comedic writing, so I just say keep the serious tone. I've also never been one for huge write-ins (I lack the creativity) but I'll say now that the provided choices have almost always been wide enough to pick basically anything I can think of... so just... keep doin' what you've always been doin'.
>> No. 166141
>>166105
I want the story to remain serious but without forsaking humour and jokes.
>> No. 166297
Guise, I... well, I'm so flattered. I haven't recieved such effusive compliments from strangers since forever. You have my deepest gratitude, for you've made this amateur writefag extremely happy.

Your commentaries have been recieved, and I'll do my best to follow them and make this story enjoyable for all of you. With that said, I'll also try to experiment and play a little bit with the narrative style and the choices, to spice things up. Let me know if it works or not.

And by the way, Thread 2 has been created >>166295 The adventure and the mystery solving continues!