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File 135755696294.jpg - (432.41KB , 579x750 , Young and Old Kogasa.jpg ) [iqdb]
164210 No. 164210
I counted my threads correctly this time.

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

“But in all seriousness,” you pant, your laugh of elation finally reaching its natural conclusion. “Just what did you do?”

“Well,” she says, looking similarly out of breath. Well resonates in your mind at the exact same time, a brief shimmer of rainbow and a patter of raindrops on metal sheets. You could communicate purely mentally if so necessary, but as of right now it feels more natural to exchange vocal words. “Aren’t you like me?”

You shrug, unable to confirm or deny that statement. “Am I? We seem similar, you and I, but the exact details elude me.” You close one eye and look over the spirit – just like you, her body is a manifestation, a mind and soul exerting itself to create a physical, if transient, vessel.

She picks up on that thought, and shakes her head. Turning her back, she squats down and rummages through the surrounding rubble, pulling out a few splinters here and there before turning around with a few faded purple shreds of cloth and sticks in her hands. You notice that her own clothes can barely be called such, the once-blue rags too scant and bare to even be sufficient for modesty. It’s kind of depressing, actually. “A few minutes ago – and for the rest of my life before,” she adds, “I was a karakasa!”

Karakasa. Your only experience with that word was when Ran was expounding on Youmu’s former adventures. Your figurative heart suddenly leaps into your throat, but you swallow it back down. Now is not the time to think about that.

“A kind of spirit, but…?” you prompt her.

“Of an abandoned umbrella,” she sighs, closing her eyes and practically swooning in place. “A creation of wicker and cheap cloth too strange a color to be turned into a garmet, not even waterproof – just stretched taut enough to wick the larger share of rainfall to the edges, where it would still drip through the cloth onto on its owner’s shoulders. That was me – created in minutes, and sold for pennies.”

“You make it sound like a good thing,” you say, bemused.

“Oh, but it was such a feeling when I was bought! I remember being on that rack for days, maybe even weeks. And then, when there was a storm, a young boy, seeking to impress a young girl, snatched me off the shelf, purchased me to walk that girl home in the rain. He was the son of a farmer, being raised to be a farmer, and with all his daily labors going into his family’s farm, I represented an entire year’s worth of savings to him!” she exclaims. “I may have been worth very little to a craftsman or merchant, and the elegant ladies at the mansion would not be caught dead with me in their grasp, but to him, I was worth my weight in gold – and that was the most wonderful feeling, a feeling you would never understand.”

There’s more to this story. “Yet you were abandoned.”

She shakes her head. “Oh, I was, and it was sad – but it was not by his choice! Our companionship was so short, yet so sweet. He amused her with tales of adventures, or at least what adventures he could find when not working the farm. Most exaggerated, some downright fabricated, but all entertaining, and making sure to cast him in a brave and manly light. At least, those that weren’t aimed to be funny. He was the butt of more than one of his own jokes, but that was intentionally so that she wouldn’t think him a boastful sort – even though that was exactly what he was doing.”

You settle on your heels, content for now to just listen to her. At your nod of encouragement, she continues. “But then – in the rain, emboldened by the lack of light and under cover of the storm, a youkai leapt out from the forest! The farmer’s boy swung me with all his childish might, but it was hardly enough to dissuade it. Yet when it opened its mouth to swallow them whole, he thrust me deep as a brace, and propped its jaws right open!”

She waves her hands as she speaks, pantomiming the epic battle with a silly grin on her face. Already she seems livelier: her hair more vibrant, her clothes now actual garments and not mere tatters – a blue vest over a white dress, roughly cut and stitched together as if by a child’s hand. “The stupid beast could not figure for the life of it how to close its mouth, and the boy and girl ran, ran all the way back home and never looked back. Eventually, it died that way, unable to even see past its eternally-opened jaws, and it was in the bones of that youkai that I became a karakasa. Kogasa Tatara, monster slayer at your service!” she chimes.

You can’t help but grin at that. “Did you ever meet him again?”

“No, his nephews were passing away of old age by the time I awoke,” she says lightly. “I did say I was lost for a very long time.”

You sigh. “I knew that artifacts of great power sometimes gained intelligences of their own, but didn’t know that such simple objects could be so perceptive as well,” you say, touched by her story.

“Oh, they aren’t,” she assures you.

You shrug. “That’s what I – “ Your eyes narrow. “Wait.”

She leers at you. “That was just a story I made up to entertain little children, and you bought every word of it, you big dummy!”

“You little – I ought to…” Growling, you take a playful swipe at her arm, and she weaves away and sticks her tongue out at you. You blink to make sure you’re seeing it right; her tongue seems to grow until it reaches her waist, turning her expression from impudent to bizarrely grotesque.

“I should tell you now, I love surprising people,” she warns you, sucking her tongue back up so quickly you’re not even sure it was there before. “Hope you’re ready to deal with that.”

You think upon that for a few seconds. “Well, I can tolerate that most of the time, most likely. But there will probably be times where I need you to not make a fool of yourself. Can I get you to agree to contain yourself and go somewhere else then?”

She looks up at you with wide, pleading eyes, but you can already tell its nothing but an act. “Saaaaaaaaaaai~,” she whines.

“It’s that or shut you in a closet when I need privacy,” you explain.

She blinks, and then those eyes become watery. “No, please don’t do that!” she begs. “I’ll do anything you want, just don’t do that!”

You frown. “You have an ace up your sleeve,” you state, crossing your arms. “Out with it.”

The cute expression breaks in one of feigned resignation. “So demanding,” she sighs, closing her eyes and tossing her head back before grinning at you again. “Nah, I’ll take my little moments of freedom as you offer them.”

“Just make a nuisance of yourself far away from me,” you say, the two of you sharing a nod of understanding. “So, how’s the story actually go?”

“Even offered for free, not even a poor farmer’s boy would be caught dead with a cheaply made umbrella of this color,” she says wistfully. “Especially if he’s trying to impress a girl. I watched the two of them go down that youkai’s throat from the ditch I got blown into, where people passed by every day and no one thought to pick me up. Company a mere stone’s throw away, and no one could be bothered to rescue a poor, lost, unloved, lonely umbrella.”

You wince. “I thought you said objects weren’t so perceptive.”

She shrugs. “We might miss out on the implications of things, sometimes, but we’re not that clueless.”

You make a mental note to treat everyday objects with a lot more care. “In any case, I’m glad I know more about you – but my question still stands.”

“Do I have to give you an answer?” she whines.

“Just how you like surprising people, I like learning about magic,” you appeal to her. “You got your fun, so why not give me some as well?”

She pouts, but then sighs. “Oh, all right. I suppose I do owe you for that little shock.” She inhales deeply and slaps her hands to either side of her head. “To be honest,” she admits, “I just wanted to save you.”

“… that’s it?”

She turns away, her hands leaving her head to flap embarrassed around her ears. “It left a big impression on me! Seeing those children get eaten so – there was blood everywhere, and the screams! I mean, I know many youkai have to get their dinner somewhere, but they were just so young! It wasn’t even a hunt, it was just like picking a chicken from the coop, they couldn’t fight back at all!”

You purse your lips, but you soldier on. “But you did save me. How?”

Her hands slow, and her shoulders slump. “Well, first, let me confirm something.” She turns in place, and pierces you with a sudden, intense glare. “You seem like a very interesting person. Are you the Shadow?” she suddenly asks.

You contemplate the possibility of keeping it a secret, but the way the two of you seem to be joined now, it’ll be an ultimately futile effort, and so you shrug and admit, “According to a friend of mine, I am. Though I’ve never been in Gensokyo to hear it from a native’s own mouth.”

“Whoa, really?” Her eyes widen, their mismatched colors even more obvious now. “It was just a hunch, but – wow. You should hear the stories they tell about you,” she says, her expression changing to one of wonder. “I want to be like you, you know.”

You wince. “Please don’t,” you groan. “My life has been one of nothing but tragedy.” Well. Almost.

“But you saved all those people!” she gushes, practically skipping in front of you to seize your wrists and look up at you with limpid eyes. The top of her head only reaches to your sternum – she’s a small girl. Some part of you wonders if this annoyance is what elder brothers with younger sisters normally have to put up with.

“I did,” you concede, shaking your arms until she lets go, although she continues standing uncomfortably close. It’s not like you can deny that fact, after all. “Still…”

“I heard the tales from the mothers and fathers – the Travelers you saved. They got busy. Really busy,” she says with a leer on her face as she takes a step back, clasping her hands behind her back and bending down to look up at you past her own brow. You groan, exasperated, prompting her to get to her point. “In more ways than family planning, though, and so a lot of them made a crèche for their children. And, well, I love children, and I found myself stopping by more and more often to help out…”

“That’s very kind of you,” you say. “I’m glad to know someone so generous.”

“Oh, it’s not generous, not nearly as much as you – it’s actually very, very selfish, they’re just so much fun to play with when they’re that little – and so easy to surprise! All you have to do is put your face behind your hands, then pop! Surprise!” she giggles.

You wait for her to calm down, futilely trying to resist smiling at the sight. Her blind worship of you aside, she’s cuter than you could ever imagine – at this point she’s cleaned her manifestation up until she’s the very picture of a budding, bratty teenage girl. “But yes, when all the children were sleeping, they’d sit me down and tell me stories of their home, and how they got here. When Alice came to me and said her husband needed me for a ritual to help save a friend of his in Hakugyokurou – I agreed without even thinking.”

You blink, thinking back to what Ran showed you of the battle at Hakugyokurou. “And you died there,” you growl.

“I’m an umbrella,” she counters, shoving your chest in defiance. She’s the one who moves, not you, though, but she makes the most of the movement by standing before you hands on her hips, stance wide, lip curled pugnaciously as if she’s ready to kick your shins. “I can’t die, I was never alive. Just broken, and asleep until I could be fixed. And look! Here I am now!”

Maybe she’s right about the whole not-dying part, but you still need a way to convince her to not throw herself so willingly into the line of fire. You think of how to appeal to her. “Would you say that I am alive?” you ask.

“Of course,” she splutters. “What kind of stupid question is that? You’re the Shadow. Of course you’re alive.”

“Kogasa, I left my living body behind a long time ago. I had to leave it when it became Tainted, and then returned to my corpse more as a tenant than an owner – does that make any sense? Never mind,” you say, shaking your head at her tilted head. “And standing here before you, I don’t even have a body, same as you – and I repeat, just what did you do?” you insist, realizing you’re sidetracking.

She sighs. “When you came here, I wasn’t sure what to think. There were lights. A lot of pretty lights, and they went into my broken pieces and – they didn’t make it whole, but they woke me up. Woke the sword up too, but I think it got too greedy, and then it exploded. Oh, and the whole statue exploded too.”

“A statue of…?”

“Another person who died at Hakugyokurou,” she says with a sigh. “That was his sword. Was there some bad blood between you and him?” she asks you, expression curious. “It didn’t like you very much.”

“We had a misunderstanding, but it got cleared up,” you briefly summarize. The long explanation can wait. “I don’t think his sword got the message, though.”

“You sure you two made up?” she asks, unconvinced.

“He asked for me to take his daughter’s hand in marriage before he died,” you assure her, absolutely sure about that fact.

“Oh.” She blinks. “I guess that, uh, that’s a pretty good way to apologize.”

“You finish your bit first,” you say brusquely, wanting to move off this topic as soon as possible. “Then what? It stabbed me, I lost consciousness, and then you…?”

She swallows and looks embarrassed. “I guess I tried to share living space. In my pieces, that is. The pieces of the umbrella. You were kind of going all over the place after you zapped the sword, so – kind of like a sponge, or a cup, I guess? To keep liquid in.”

“But I’m not in an umbrella right now, and neither are you,” you point out.

“I know, right?” she laughs. “Instead, you kind of just sucked me into you. And now you’re awake because – well, picture a bowl with a hole in the bottom. You could repair the bowl, maybe, but that can get really hard, or it might be impossible. So what do you do? You put something in the bowl. A plug! Like a bathtub.”

You twist your mouth, trying to find a flaw in the childlike explanation, but you can find no major logical flaw with it – other than the fact that it’s so abstract and imprecise that it might be incorrect altogether. But it’s the only thing you have to work with, so you’ve no choice to accept it for an explanation as of now. After all, you’re here and awake, aren’t you?

“I guess that’ll have to do,” you sigh, wishing she were a trained mage like you. Then again, maybe even that wouldn’t help. This soul and mind stuff isn’t in most curriculums, and all your knowledge comes from tortuous, excruciating personal experience that you wouldn’t wish on anyone, especially not little Kogasa.

“So, are you going to find your wife, now that you’re here?” she asks.

You cough, taken off guard. “First of all, she’s not my wife yet. We hardly had time for a ceremony. More importantly, I haven’t even talked to her about the arrangement yet – it was her father’s dying wish, but it’s ultimately her choice. And also…”

Ran. At some point, you need to talk to Ran. Just to see her and figure out just what Yukari did to her, how much she remembers, if she’s even the same person anymore.

Even more importantly, there are two people holding back Gensokyo’s apocalypse, and you’re not sure its guardian is even aware yet.

“… I have some business to take care of first.” You stand up.

“Oh?”

“Would you like to help me save a lot of people, Kogasa? I need to warn my friends, and in such a way that they’ll take it seriously.” You can’t confront Yukari directly – she’d just throw you back into the Border, and this time there won’t be a Mary and Renko to get you out this time.

“Do you even need to ask?” she says, eyes bright, hands clapping together in glee.

You sigh. Changing her attitude will be an endeavor. “I’ll need directions. I don’t know this Gensokyo like you do. Just what I’ve overheard during meals, and what little friends have told me.”

She frowns. “I – well, I’ve been asleep for a while. I don’t know how long. Things might be a little different, now.”

That could be a problem, but you’ll have to make do. “I’m sure it can’t be that different. And besides, you should check up on things too,” you assure her.

“Then – wait!” she calls out, digging into her vest pocket and producing those scraps of umbrella again. She pushes them into your hands, and you frown, rolling the shattered canes between your fingers, testing the roughness of the cloth. There is magic bottled up in the material – an analogy would be a body part of a magical beast, like dragon’s blood, unicorn’s horn, or basilisk’s eye. Whatever you make will be the equivalent of an empty cup, ready to be filled with useful enchantments. More surprisingly, it feels comfortable to you, as if – there’s no ‘as if’ about it, it is a part of you, much like your bracer. Experimentally, you flick a series of mental switches, and the material puffs into incorporeality at your prompting.

“Hey!” Kogasa squeals, her arms suddenly hugging at her own shivering shoulders. “What’d you do?”

Surprised, you reset those same switches, causing the stuff to rematerialize as the same rags and sticks, causing her to shiver again. “Don’t fool around with that!” she cries angrily, and it flies out of your hands back into hers. “You mess around more and I’ll think twice about letting you carry that!”

Your brow furrows in concentration. That material is shared between the two of you, meaning that between the two of your minds and souls, there are two manifestations and this material.

“If that’s part of you, then you should be the one to carry it,” you graciously concede.

Surprisingly, she shakes her head. “But I don’t want that,” she whines. “My entire life I’ve always had to carry myself around. The umbrella that no one wanted. But now I’ve got someone – and I want to be useful to them! … you can repair it, right?” she asks, already putting the proverbial cart before the horse.

Her gaze goes limpid again as she stares you down, and you avert your gaze to look down at the wood and cloth yet again. This stuff isn’t as amorphous as your bracer was… but it has the potential to be something similar in terms of usefulness. “That’ll be a job for later,” you inform her. “This ruin is hardly an appropriate workshop for such a task. But I promise I’ll make something nice later.”

“Oh Sai, you’re so nice!” she exclaims, jumping back in front of you and throwing her arms around you.

It takes a minute to extricate yourself from the vice-like grip of her arms. “You can thank me by pointing me towards the nearest settlement,” you laugh. “I need to find my old friends.” Friends. You’ve come a long way from your seclusion.

She frowns. “There are three, and we won’t have a hard time getting to any of them,” she says, thinking aloud. “There’s the tengu on the mountain, but they’re kind of secretive, and they were already getting touchy about trespassers before the Travelers ever came. They made a point of escorting me out the last time I floated every there. I don’t know what kind of welcome we’ll get there.”

“Natives?”

She nods. “Youkai who have been here longer than anyone can remember. They’re kind of secluded, but they’re also really organized, and loyal to their leaders. If you can win the elders over, you’ll have no problem getting the information you need out of the rest of them – but good luck with that. Of course, there’s the old human village, of course. It’s quite the hectic place.”

“I’m not looking to make a scene,” you explain.

“If you end up making one,” she warns you, “everyone will know – and I mean everyone. Finally… the Travelers were starting to settle a new village a distance away from both. It’s kind of near the forest, where a lot of wild youkai stay – that won’t be a problem for us,” she hastily adds. “You’re the one who saved them, so I’m sure they’d be willing to help you – “

“Worship and favors are the last thing I want to be asking for,” you interrupt her. “I’m trying to be a little subtle, keep my identity hidden for now. Some people might not be happy about me being here.”

“Can’t imagine why,” Kogasa says, looking a little sulky. You clear your throat, prompting her to continue. “But I guess you might have an easier time relating to them, and maybe you know their ways, or something – but they might not know as much as the others.”

There’s no point in loitering here any further. You were supposed to abandon this place long ago, anyways. Any longer and you might as well prepare tea for the investigation party – you’re sitting in a crater that didn’t get made quietly.

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

CHOOSE YOUR DESTINATION OF INTENDED INTERROGATION

[ ] The human village. You’re decently sure you can keep a low profile even in this plane’s equivalent of a metropolis, and the most useful information is going to be found where everyone converges. You’ll certainly find everything and everyone you want, and more besides, but one slip-up and more likely than not Yukari will come calling.

[ ] The tengu mountain. You want to meet Gensokyo’s natives and see what they think about the situation. And you’re sure that you can convince the elders to help you out, if they’re truly worried about Gensokyo’s security. You’re not sure what the consequences of things going wrong might be, but from what you garner it’s not like they’ll think to report to Yukari first thing.

[ ] The Traveller outpost. As much as it pains you to say it, if you’re identified somehow then it should be by people who you can ask to keep their mouths shut. Since they owe you their entire existence, their obedience should be a sure thing. Their certainly more limited information is a downside, but better safe than sorry.

CHOOSE ONE ACHIEVEMENT OF ARCANE ADEPTNESS

Notice: these spells have been modified from their print versions. Make sure you consider all available choices.

Abjuration

Protect those precious to you.

[ ] Disjunction. Trinkets, enchantments, wards – nothing is safe from your dispelling expertise. Only major artifacts can withstand abjurations of this strength, and even those will be suppressed where lesser dispels would fail.

[ ] Absorption. Turn your opponent’s strength against them. Magic energies aimed at you will be automatically absorbed to a point. More notably, these absorbed energies can be channeled into spells of your own. While the Hope infusing your soul means you don’t lack for personal strength, spells powered by absorbed energies may have properties you cannot create yourself, and the defensive component is not to be underestimated.

[ ] Prismatic sphere. A large bubble of rainbow-colored light provides a defense even more potent than the unyielding barrier that is a wall of force. Resistant to traditional arcane dispels, its seven layers must all be individually defeated in order to penetrate it. Anything less, and at best it can expect a fiery end at the weakest barrier of red. At worst, it will be completely negated and disintegrated by violet. You can also settle for shaping a mere wall or dome if a full bubble would prove impractical.

Conjuration

Make something of yourself.

[ ] Obedient avalanche. Imagine the idiomatic ton of bricks. Now replace those bricks massive drift of snow, dirt, rocks, uprooted trees, and other such parts of a mountain. Aim them with the precision of a marksman, and you can recreate a natural disaster with far more malice than Mother Nature is ever capable of.

[ ] Sphere of ultimate destruction. Take a rift into nothingness, shape it into a ball, and then tell an opponent to catch. Not even adamantine can stand up to this persistent destructive effect, capable of rending what even your trademark orbs of force fail to harm. Alternatively, use it as a tool to carve out large swathes of material beyond disintegrate’s capability, say to open a breach in a wall, or just reshape a hill more to your taste.

[ ] Black blade of disaster. Take the same stuff as the above spell, but shape it into a weapon. Use it as a weapon that cannot be opposed by any physical armor or shield, or parried by any weapon of mortal make, barring one created for just that purpose. Alternatively, try your hand at landscaping with none of the associated physical strain.

Divination

An ounce of prevention, a pound of cure.

[ ] Foresight. Right before some evil will befall you or another you enchant with this, you’ll know. Surprising you will be difficult given all your other advanced senses, but if it does happen, you’ll still have time to shout at least one word – much less tap into your talents and brace for impact.
I forgot just how hard it is to find useful, non-expensive 9th level divinations.

Evocation

All exchanges are ultimately decided by force.

[ ] [Meteor swarm. A classic evocation, you rain fire and stone at improbable velocity towards an opponent. As a spell in your area of expertise, this is far more than a few half-hearted flaming rocks as it is for most mages, and is far more representative of a scene from a religious text, if the target were a focused area and not an entire nation.

[ ] Ride the lightning. Many can become incorporeal, but what about a lightning bolt? One moment you’re here, and in the next you’re there, with everything in between those two points electrocuted to your tastes. Leave your opponents shocked, and not just at your nimbleness. Being intelligent, your form cannot be fooled and redirected from your intended destination by things such as metal cages, lightning rods, rubber gloves, and pools of water.

[ ] Wings of vengeance. You don’t need to use them to fly or breathe, but while your wings of flurry are a short-lived slashing weapon and your wings of cover a split-second shield, wings of vengeance persist, giving you a series of overlapping barriers. They’ll lash out to stop any physical projectile dead in its tracks, even boulders capable of singlehandedly collapsing castles, and those seeking to strike you in melee will find themselves battered and bruised. Purely magical or energy attacks will still fly through, however, so this spell provides only limited protection compared to the more taxing wings of cover you already know.

Prismatic spells Illusion

Even your fantasies can fulfill wishes.

Note: prismatic spells expose their targets to at least one of seven effects, each one themed on a color of the rainbow. Red burns with fire, orange melts with acid, yellow shocks with electricity, green poisons and weakens the body, blue freezes or even transmutes to stone, indigo assaults and confuses the mind, and violet normally sends to another plane, but in this case, disintegrates. These effects can be intentionally pulled in order to maim or even merely disable instead of kill.

[ ] Prismatic deluge. At the end of this rainbow is a pot of gold, but a massive area wracked by prismatic effects. Simply looking at the area is enough to induce temporary blindness and/or nausea in the weaker-willed.

[ ] Prismatic ray. This beam of light appears white at first, but if you’re able to look at it long enough without losing your vision, each of the seven colors can be individually distinguished. The (un)lucky target at the other end gets to, as they say, taste the rainbow – all seven colors at once.

There are no ‘typical’ illusions of light, sound, shape, etc. as Sai already has already mastered all illusions with illusory swarm.

[X] Bonus: prismatic blade. Your new companion is useful for more than just conversation, information, and another set of senses. Her colorful personality, in every sense of the word, can be exemplified in the form of a weapon as you so desire. She must be present and cooperative as this literally turns her into an instrument of war, surprising your foes with bursts of prismatic effects not-so-randomly amplified through her fighting spirit. (Sai has yet to master this technique, but will discover it upon his first conflict in which Kogasa is willing to cooperate with him.)
Expand all images
>> No. 164214
[x] The human village. You’re decently sure you can keep a low profile even in this plane’s equivalent of a metropolis, and the most useful information is going to be found where everyone converges. You’ll certainly find everything and everyone you want, and more besides, but one slip-up and more likely than not Yukari will come calling.

It has the most information, and depending on what happens, it might get passed over as some other being making a ruckus.


[x] Absorption. Turn your opponent’s strength against them. Magic energies aimed at you will be automatically absorbed to a point. More notably, these absorbed energies can be channeled into spells of your own. While the Hope infusing your soul means you don’t lack for personal strength, spells powered by absorbed energies may have properties you cannot create yourself, and the defensive component is not to be underestimated.

There's some good choices, but I figure since we're in the land of Danmaku and magic, this would be a good choice
>> No. 164215
[x] Human Village. The reward is worth the risk, and the Travelers don't offer anything worth even going there for except for probable adulation and cover-blowing.

[x] Ride the Lightning. Because it's cool.
>> No. 164220
>Disjunction can't destroy artifacts

Oh, goddamn status quo. Is this w40k or something?

Oh well,
[x] Absorption

Because if (when) he gets overwhelmed by brute power he needs an ace in the hole-all is denied defense. Also, mimicing Youkai's abilities sounds useful.

[x] Tengu Mountain

We should hide for now in the place where Yukari has less influence. Getting inside may be tricky but I trust him-and he needs to make friends with these guys-the travelers need less enemies.
>> No. 164223
File 135756611751.jpg - (2.21KB , 125x62 , RAINBOWS.jpg ) [iqdb]
164223
[X] Human Village.
I see too much trouble in the Tengu mountain and Traveller outpost trying to conceal his identity. And Marcus is supposed to be at Alice's, right?

[X] Absorption.
Some practicality. Even though I really want Sai to dual-wield Prismatic and Black Disaster Umbrellas.

>[X] Bonus: prismatic blade. Your new companion is useful for more than just conversation, information, and another set of senses. Her colorful personality, in every sense of the word, can be exemplified in the form of a weapon as you so desire. She must be present and cooperative as this literally turns her into an instrument of war, surprising your foes with bursts of prismatic effects not-so-randomly amplified through her fighting spirit. (Sai has yet to master this technique, but will discover it upon his first conflict in which Kogasa is willing to cooperate with him.)
Pic related.
>> No. 164227
>>164223
I'm pretty sure the bonus counts as its own choice of spell.
>> No. 164236
>>164230

Firstly, you don't need to vote for prismatic blade/umbrella. I decided that it was so runaway popular that I might as well shoe it in for free. You still have a vote toward spell selection.

Secondly, I figure I should address this now. Going in incognito was always the plan - Kogasa isn't going to try and make a grand return herself.
>> No. 164238
[ ] The human village
[ ] Sphere of ultimate destruction.
>> No. 164244
[X] The Traveller outpost.

[X] Sphere of ultimate destruction.

Pissing Into the Tide, Episode 5: The Tide Strikes Back
>> No. 164246
[X] The tengu mountain

I think it would be an interesting choice, and I doubt the Tengu would be that buddy-buddy with yukari.


[X] Sphere of ultimate destruction


The classic.
>> No. 164251
[x] Tengu Mountain
Sai is a Sorcerer, so he has Charisma, yes? While I'm not expecting to win over the Elders quickly, It's a safe bet that Sai is capable of getting them to hear him out. He also needs to stay off of GapBi-Yukari's Radar for a bit.

[x] Absorption
Because while I really like the Destruction spells, and I personally want to see Yukari getting slapped by the two blades of dimensional fuckery that are Black Blade of Disaster and Prismatic Blade, Touhous are stupid good at dodging Spheres and Yukari would just close up the Black Blade of Disaster. Poking Rifts into Gensokyo might also alert her to Sai's presence. Absorption used in tandem with Illusory Swarm, however, handily increases both survival against Bulletspam and damage output at the same time. Absorb Bullets, use Illusions, move behind the target, and unleash their own brand of Hell against them at point blank range.
>> No. 164255
[X] Human Village.
[X] Absorption.

Regarding Sai's and the Travellers' original world, what was it's level of technology? From some of the future snippets, it sounds like their level was at Eberron's level with extensive magitech, instead of the usual medieval/Renaissance-level with magic that DnD settings like Forgotten Realms are at.

How close of an analogue to the Outside World/our tech level was their tech level at? Would their magitech have been analagous to 1990s/2000s tech or would it have been akin to our Industrial Revolution/early 20th century?
>> No. 164256
[x] Absorption
[x] Human Village.
>> No. 164264
>>164255

Third-person omniscient exposition time!

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

The entire world had a mixture of tech levels, and the humans who make up the Travelers come from all walks. However, the way technology works, you only need a few bright minds to invent technologies for a group. Machinists of hydraulics and steam, artificers of metal and magic, adept arcanists, priests of mighty pantheons, warriors able to warp physical laws - the genocides and devastation His attempted Ascension wrought winnowed all but these most brilliant souls into their respective afterlives.

Normally, such powerful people keep mostly to themselves, their knowledge held mostly secret due to power struggles, the fear of having one's research stolen by another, and so on. The Travelers are an extremely atypical group, however. During the final days before His attempted Ascension, these geniuses of all fields, brought together by the crisis began combining their expertise. The result was a technological explosion the likes of which have rarely been seen before. Armored suits powered not by forcibly bound elementals, but by contracted outsiders, completely eliminating the risk of a breached seal. Blades forged out of enchanted alchemical alloys harder than adamantine. Unbelievably potent firearms with chambers shaped of pure force, firing shells blessed to seek out vital regions of their own accord.

Now in Gensokyo, such potent weapons of war are hardly necessary for day-to-day survival. The Outside World of electricity and silicon actually produces more useful sundries for everyday convenience, and how such devices can store and manipulate massive amounts of information with nothing more than magnetic fields and electric currents is an enigma that the Travelers have yet to crack themselves. Yet enough many of their old weapons of war remain intact, not yet beaten into plowshares. Even without their creations, every Traveler is a hardened veteran of a world-wide war for survival, leaving them individually stronger than a majority of Gensokyo's natives one-to-one. Taken as a whole, they represent an army powerful enough to make even the oldest of tengu elders nervous, even if that army has ostensibly demobilized.

After all, they've fought for their very lives and triumphed once already. That kind of united, focused effort would make a mockery of any border dispute.

Of course, you have to look at the other side of the coin. Many have 'gone native', so to speak, starting families with villagers, tengu, and kappa, and refusing to acknowledge any sort of bias for simply being another Traveler. Friends are friends, but business is business - and love is love. They worry just as much as Gensokyo's natives about maintaining the peace.

But everyone has their own goals in life, and sometimes these goals collide...

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

Votes will be called on Wednesday night. Get cracking!
>> No. 164268
What are their 'eaten by wild youkai' ratio when compared to people from the human village?
>> No. 164271
[x]Human Village
[x]Sphere of Ultimate Destruction
>> No. 164273
>>164264
Thank you for answering my question. A few more questions if that's okay:

Alright I can see how advanced they became in warfare tech, and maybe survival tech(?), which is understandable due to His Ascension and such.

1. You mention that the Outside World is more advanced in information/computer technology. Did their world have anything akin an ENIAC? That uses vacuum tubes, not microchips and integrated circuits so that might've been possible given their tech.

2. Other than information tech, is there anything else that the Outside World is more advanced in than what the Travellers knew? Is there technology that we as residents of First World countries take for granted that would be unknown, or difficult to make, to the Travellers?

3. You also mention that prior to Him, tech level varied. However was there a general tech level that could be ascertained even in this variety?

4. Regarding the races of the Travellers, any differences from the standard DnD set of playable races? For instance Dark Sun had a number of races different from the typical DnD set.

5. What information do the Travellers have about the Outside World? They know that Gensokyo is a pocket dimension, and considering their own experience with different planes, would probably be curious about what the Outside World is like.

Yes I know I'm focusing too much on the tech of their now-gone world, and not enough on the story, but reading some of the future stories, and reading here, makes me interested about what the Travellers' lives were like prior to Him. We see this culture that is in many ways akin to the Colonials from Battlestar Galactica, a remnant of a once vibrant civilization/civilizations. All the variety of their previous civilizations and cultures and so on are gone. They've lost everything and are now only slowly regaining it back.
>> No. 164274
[] The Outpost and [] Foresight. This is Gensokyo. AKA Bullet Hell. Having a spider sense would be beyond useful.
>> No. 164276
>>164268

That is a little too close to a spoiler, I'm afraid. Going to have to let this one get answered when it gets answered.

>>164273

These questions really aren't related to the plot at all, so I might as well answer. Sai, knowing the history of his old home plane, would know much of this already, so I don't feel like it's overly meta to discuss this, and some of this would be too tedious to address in-character.

>1. You mention that the Outside World is more advanced in information/computer technology. Did their world have anything akin an ENIAC? That uses vacuum tubes, not microchips and integrated circuits so that might've been possible given their tech.

Any sort of research or development of a computing device was obsoleted by binding either an elemental or contracting an outsider to provide an intelligence ranging from calculator-level rudimentary to that of a sentient being.

>2. Other than information tech, is there anything else that the Outside World is more advanced in than what the Travellers knew? Is there technology that we as residents of First World countries take for granted that would be unknown, or difficult to make, to the Travelers?

I guess communication technology as well, if that doesn't also fall underneath information. Things like telegraphs, radios, telephones, and, of course, the Internet do not have any real analogues.

Otherwise I really can't think of anything else off the top my head. You'll need to be more specific if you're still curious.

>3. You also mention that prior to Him, tech level varied. However was there a general tech level that could be ascertained even in this variety?

Not really. The elven tribes who killed each other in the jungles and mountains often prized metal arms and armor over the very lives of their own people, while the dwarves constructed mighty underground fortresses with Industrial Revolution level industry supplemented by magitech artifice - massive foundries, factories, mills, and so on. Humans ranged all throughout this spectrum.

>4. Regarding the races of the Travellers, any differences from the standard DnD set of playable races? For instance Dark Sun had a number of races different from the typical DnD set.

Although their world had a healthy variety of different races, the Travelers themselves are purely human. While heroes and survivors of all races initially fled His spreading control, ultimately only few hundred humans had both the tenacity and stupidly good luck to evade the hunts and survive. There are no crossbreeds.

>5. What information do the Travellers have about the Outside World? They know that Gensokyo is a pocket dimension, and considering their own experience with different planes, would probably be curious about what the Outside World is like.

While they are aware that much of Gensokyo's culture and technology comes from the Outside World, they have zero personal experience with it, and frankly are fine with not knowing more than what the natives can tell them, content to simply have a place to live, period.

With the influx of the Travelers, Yukari has become far more zealous about keeping in natives and keeping out curious and wandering Outsiders. However, much like the European craze for tea, it would be impossible to simply end the imports of Outside World products without creating a minor economic crisis and massive social unrest. Kourindou has boomed as the only store sanctioned to trade in Outside World products.

If I weren't too busy writing Tainted Bonds, I'd write a story about one of Yukari's agents in the Outside World.

It would start with simpler tasks; fulfilling wishlists and special requests for various goods, moving them into warehouses to be mysteriously spirited away in the middle of the night. Eventually he'd get 'promoted', his jobs expanding to include the protection and/or liberation of fantastic places and beings. He'd have to evade investigation, both government and otherwise.

Someone should take this story idea from me.


To reveal more details about the state of the Outside World would be future story arc spoiler material, I'm afraid.

Mary and Renko hail not from a dystopian future but the Outside World in my headcanon. Yes, for me that implies the Outside World is dystopian. Yes, that is very depressing of me.
>> No. 164279
>>164273
A "Yukari's Shoprunner" story would be pretty cool. If I had any talent I'd take a crack at it.

Quick question: You say that the Travelers are all human, but earlier in the story (in one of those side-stories I think) you mentioned Patchouli married to some kind of Tiefling? Traveler, or someone she met on her own, or is that retconned?
>> No. 164283
>>164279

It's a reference to a god-tier gensoukoumuten doujin. Behold: http://danbooru.donmai.us/pool/show/2837
>> No. 164286
File 135764613917.jpg - (73.05KB , 1024x576 , snapshot20081011202225.jpg ) [iqdb]
164286
[X] The human village

Even if the people at the outpost would be "loyal" (i.e. worshipping a living legend) enough to try and keep their mouths shut, eventually someone will want to brag and then the cat's out of the bag.
And the Tengu are too xenophobic for Sai to talk to easily.
Plus, no matter where we go, Yukari will find out eventually so we'll need as much information as possible before that happens. Taking the risk of being found earlier is worth it if we can get more information in a shorter time.

[X] Black Blade of Disaster
Because it reminds me of picture related.
>> No. 164308
>>164276
Depends on if it's separate from this if it's another person doing it, two or more people working on the same universe is a pretty tricky thing.

>>164286
>Choosing a spell because you seen it in an anime.

How many TPKs have you caused with your thinking?
>> No. 164326
>>164308
First of all, Slayers is a good anime.
Second, it was more of a tie-breaker than my actual reason for choosing it.
Third, it's not as if I meant it 100% seriously either, but it's hard to get a joking tone across over the internet so that's my bad.

Besides, what's the problem?
Why is an anime less acceptable than anything else, in a story about the adventures of a magical zombie turned part umbrella frankenghost due to almost double-dying when he came back from a tea party in the space between spaces after he fell into a hole made by someone who didn't like that he banged her foxy servant who literally built his mind?
That's not even mentioning the whole mess where pure evil infected a tree probably as an unintended side effect from the time when his adoptive brother became Satan and they had to fight to the death.
The story is great, but it's not as if it's too serious to be compared to a comedy/action fantasy anime.

And if you have to know, I haven't been the cause of any TPKs at all.
>> No. 164327
>>164326
There's been an increasingly annoying trend of people choosing things due to "rule of cool" than actual function, much to the dismay of those that know better.

I apologize for the snap reaction but your post looked like it was along those lines.
>> No. 164333
[X] The tengu mountain
They'll be cautious, but we'll probably be able to convince them if they don't try to kill us first.
[X] Absorption
Because this is actually useful, even if we do need a new sword.
>> No. 164334
>>164210

[X] The Traveller outpost.
Gotta keep a low profile until we're up to snuff in the "surviving people's wrath" dept.

[X] Ride the Lightning
Transport, combat AND style!
>> No. 164335
>>164334
Plus, being sentient lightning, it'd probably be piece of cake to dodge danmaku and get up close and personal.

(Man I wish I could edit posts)
>> No. 164339
>>164327
Nah, that's okay. It happens on the Internet.

I really don't think "function" is more correct than "rule of cool" in a story that isn't about gritty realism, though. If anything, since it's based on D&D crossed over with little girls with superpowers, it actually runs more on rule of cool than function to begin with.
But eh, I've really gotta remember to not waste valuable post space on irrelevant discussions, so I'll stop here.
(Although it is, sort of, my way of expressing how much I like this story since I wouldn't be arguing about it if it was bad. So keep it up Balista!)
>> No. 164340
[x] Tengu Mountain
[x]Absorption
>> No. 164341
[x] Travelers' outpost
[x] Foresight [x] Absorption

If we picked Foresight, it'd be harder to surprise us, and Kogasa would be sad.

>>164236
>Secondly, I figure I should address this now. Going in incognito was always the plan - Kogasa isn't going to try and make a grand return herself.

Oh, of course not. I figure she wants to see the eventual look on Yukari's face as much as we do. (And not for a much different reason, come to that.)
>> No. 164343
>>164341
Foresight may make it harder for Kogasa to surprise us, but it'll also allow us to completely and utterly flabbergast people when we're suddenly prepared for their spellcard gimmicks and other tricks. Kogasa is kind-of-sort-of-us now, so whoever we surprise, Kogasa surprises.

With that in mind, I vote
[X] The tengu mountain.
[X] Foresight.
>> No. 164345
I'm picking foresight just because it will help us avoid getting get gap h4xed away as soon as yukari shows up. I'm undecided as to where to actually go, so I'll let other people argue about that.
[X] Foresight.
>> No. 164348
File 135780034218.jpg - (159.16KB , 850x431 , Overview of Gensokyo.jpg ) [iqdb]
164348
For once the vote isn't a hilarious bandwagon. Still, though, there are clear majorities.

You'll be absorbing more than the village's culture soon enough...

Votes called. Pic only kinda related (no Tenshi yet). Writing now. Please wait warmly~
>> No. 164353
>>164348
what skill/spell won? And will it be as useful as whoever voted for it expected?
>> No. 164354
>>164353

The human village and absorption were the winners.

I'm not sure what you mean by "will it be as useful as expected". Every choice I offered for a 9th was with the expectation that it would become part of Sai's regular toolbox, something repeatedly usable to great effect.

Absorption as printed in the Spell Compendium is actually really lame. It can only absorb spells and spell-like effects aimed at you from range - spells delivered through touches or more noticeably any area-of-effect spell is completely unaffected. In addition, it's awfully binary - you have a modest number of spell levels can be absorbed, and you'll absorb as many as you can, always. For someone who isn't really limited by spells-per-day, anymore, this could get slightly out of hand.

Absorption as Sai knows it has been heavily retooled. It'll blunt all magic and energy attacks aimed at him at all, ever, almost like damage-reduction but for spells. Less powerful spells will be extremely likely to be simply swallowed whole, while more powerful spells will consistently still manage to apply some effect, albeit reduced. Since Sai has very little for the "endurance" component of using absorbed energy, he can instead add properties to his spells depending on what he's recently absorbed, although this process is not exactly the most scientific nor can he jury-rig it himself by attempting to shoot spells into his own absorption.

For example, Sai is targeted with a disintegrate. Absorption takes a large chunk of the damage away, regardless of whether or not the spell manages to hit him or not. Afterwards, he casts an orb of force. This will be augmented with the earlier-absorbed disintegrate, making the spell able to crack armor or structures that might have weathered the brunt of the blast, or absolutely devastate softer targets like the body or hide of a large feral.

If you'd like to know what some spell I offered might have done differently or how Sai might have used it regularly, feel free to ask - I just don't feel like doing it for every spell yet again.
>> No. 164356
>>164354
All I want to know is: If he'd gotten Ride the Lightning, would he've used it to dodge danmaku like it was nothing?
>> No. 164357
>>164356
And he'd have used while yelling 'ride ze lighting!' ?
>> No. 164476
File 135839483582.jpg - (331.35KB , 984x1200 , Yukari Devious.jpg ) [iqdb]
164476
>>164357

>ride ze lighting

Only if he does it while swinging on a chandelier.

Standard warning of I didn't proof this shit at all, expect hilarious dropped words, chopped sentences, etc.

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

RESULTS

[X] The human village. You’re decently sure you can keep a low profile even in this plane’s equivalent of a metropolis, and the most useful information is going to be found where everyone converges. You’ll certainly find everything and everyone you want, and more besides, but one slip-up and more likely than not Yukari will come calling.

[X] Absorption. Turn your opponent’s strength against them. Magic energies aimed at you will be automatically absorbed to a point. More notably, these absorbed energies can be channeled into spells of your own. While the Hope infusing your soul means you don’t lack for personal strength, spells powered by absorbed energies may have properties you cannot create yourself, and the defensive component is not to be underestimated.

[X] Bonus: prismatic blade. Your new companion is useful for more than just conversation, information, and another set of senses. Her colorful personality, in every sense of the word, can be exemplified in the form of a weapon as you so desire. She must be present and cooperative as this literally turns her into an instrument of war, surprising your foes with bursts of prismatic effects not-so-randomly amplified through her fighting spirit. Sai has yet to master this technique, but will discover it upon his first conflict in which Kogasa is willing to cooperate with him.

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

“I’m sure I can stay under the radar, even in the busiest of places,” you declare, half to yourself, half to your karakasa companion.

“In that case, there’s only one good choice. To the human village it is!” she crows.

“But can you hide yourself?” you ask, frowning. “Hiding two people is magnitudes more difficult than one.”

She pouts. “I didn’t become good at surprising people without learning how to do that.” And then she’s simply – gone. No, not quite; you can feel her still there, like one might know that their arm is attached to their body, and yet you can’t seem to perceive her. You blink, and look towards check all your senses: sight, auras, blindsense, and half a dozen others. Most importantly, even a quick casting of true seeing doesn’t reveal her.

You’re impressed. At each level, there’s something that just barely seems off, and yet the anomaly is completely undeserving of notice, nothing more than a part of the scenery, as natural as if she’d been there for years. Only by piecing together all the discrepancies can you even begin to estimate her actual location.

“It comes natural after people ignore you for so long,” she says quietly, popping back into “visibility”. “Being small and unassuming becomes part of your internal nature – even if they can see you, it takes an entire new level of focus to actually notice you. But once you learn how to use it – you can use it surprise people, and receive such a tasty dose of surprise!” Her mouth perks up in a grin.

“… ‘tasty’?” you repeat back.

“It’s like a soothing drink of water during a hot summer day,” she tries to explain.

Realizing that this probably won’t lead you anywhere useful, you wave off any further metaphors. Out of curiosity, you use that same hand to wave into the space you think she’s occupying, and surprisingly, your hand encounters no resistance, until she pops back into visibility and grabs your own hand in return . “If I still had my umbrella, you might have grabbed me, but now you are anchoring me. Just keep yourself hidden, and there’s no way anyone will notice us,” she assures you.

Experimentally, you weave a few enchantments over yourself, erasing yourself from other such higher-level senses – and Kogasa as well, as each spell doubly extends to reach over her as well. Giggling, she slips back into her natural stealth as well, and this time you really can’t see her at all.

“… what you’re doing…” you start, your mind working furiously, trying to figure out exactly what sort of magic she’s working. “… you see how I’m sharing my magic with you. Can it – ”

Something descends upon you – you have the sudden image of Kogasa dropping a wreath on your head, not unlike the kinds woven of wildflowers by children, but it only lasts a moment before you can feel the magic wash over you. It’s deep, personal, and primal; by comparison, your manipulation of arcane energy is cold and impersonal. That magic peels away slightly, so very slightly, as if a curtain is being peeled back just enough to allow you a peek, and Kogasa slides back into view, grinning from ear to ear. “Thank you very much, Kogasa.”

“Always welcome!” she laughs.

You were wrong about two people being more difficult to hide, it seems. With both of you benefiting from not one but two sources of illusion magic, it’ll take running facefirst into something for them to find you.

“It’s a pity I can’t just float around incorporeal,” you sigh. You decide to leave the spells active – there’s no reason to dismiss them now only to replace them later.

“Why not?”

“Spells meant to conceal a corporeal body aren’t nearly as effective on the Astral Plane,” you explain.

The karakasa scrunches up her face, closing her one red eye. “What’s that?”

“A second level of existence overlaying the Material Plane – the physical world,” you clarify. “Most living beings and magic energies have presence on the Astral as well as the Material. That’s one of the reasons ghosts tend not to come out of soil – it’s teeming with little living things, making it extremely difficult to pass through. But things like brick walls and wooden floors can be passed through with little difficulty.”

“It’d be nice to fly through walls,” she muses to herself.

“Well, I won’t be doing it any time soon,” you sigh, disappointed. “The only spells I know to disguise my aura will fall off if I unmanifest.”

“How… visible… is that aura?” she asks.

“To the normal eye, not very much,” you admit. “But to a trained mage, or even anyone with a natural instinct for magic – I’d be as bright as a sun.”

“So why not just dress up as a mage?”

You shake your head. “A mage of great talent back at my world would be but a candle in comparison. Not quite a difference of night and day, but a very obvious difference in the end.”

“Aw, and I was hoping we could use disguises,” Kogasa pouts. “It’s more surprising when something you thought was normal turns out to be something scary.”

You consider that possibility too. “A disguise would only work if I knew what to hide myself as. And this is a relatively small world – I’d bet that at least a few people pride themselves on recognizing the faces of everyone they see. More than a few, perhaps,” you muse. “Mages can become eccentric without a clear outlet for their energy. But! If we find someone who isn’t that social, we might be able to disguise ourselves as them. For a short period of time. In very specific circumstances, mind you.”

“Better than nothing,” she grumbles. “Well – ”

Your aurasight flashes. Powerful conjuration magic.

Celerity.

“W-w-w-w-what was that?” Kogasa stammers, baffled as to what just happened. You understand. The first time you bent the flow of time you were about as floored.

Quiet, and hold! you shoot through your mind towards your companion.

And then your mind catches the whiplash, and it all goes hazy for a second, just a second –

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

“… I don’t see why you called for me in the first place. Of course no one is here,” the red and white clad woman sighs in exasperation. “Even if we overlook the possibility that this attack was done remotely, the offender would hardly be standing here gloating over his dastardly deeds, waiting for us so he could give us a monologue.”

You hold still. Very still. You can’t move without making some form of sound, and you can’t unmanifest to move silently without visibly flashing your aura.

Damn it, you stayed too long.

The first speaker is the Hakurei maiden herself. Even if Kogasa wasn’t doing the mental equivalent of frantically passing you notes under the table, she has a majesty and presence that makes you want to kneel before her.

But of course, that would give you away, so you don’t.

As the maiden and her three companions fan out over the rubble, the huge man amongst them shrugs his massive shoulders. His limbs are as thick as tree trunks, but there’s not the slightest aura around him – a local, perhaps. “From what you’ve told us of your past escapades, there have been cases where that has happened,” he points out, his baritone voice rumbling with an edge of a laugh.

“Yes, but those were – lighter days. More carefree days.” The shrine maiden sighs, tossing her hair back. “Now look, can I get to the village? I got a sending from one of the elders. There’s a disturbance brewing. Something involving the Travelers and tengu and border patrols again.”

You move your senses to the other two figures. One of them is a mage, given her aura and more obviously the two fist-sized constructs floating around her head, waving tiny lances like guardians. Her clothing manages to catch your eye for a second. It looks like a simple country dress and shawl at first glance, but a lot of work went into cutting the cloth in more complicated ways to give the outfit an air of nobility, and when you look at the weave of the cloth itself, there’s a shocking amount of barely visible but impossibly intricate patterns – most likely arcane symbols of some kind. There’s also embroidery all over the surface of the cloth, done in the same color to avoid standing out yet making for a dress that one could stare at for hours and not fully know. Even the red ribbon in her blonde hair is just as intricately woven.

And you won’t even start on how those same patterns are repeated to scale with those of the constructs.

“I understand those disputes when they happen at the borders themselves,” the blonde woman says, her footsteps crunching in the rubble underfoot, “but why is this one in the village?”

“Someone thought to complain directly at the source,” the maiden says with a shrug. “Hopefully that’ll keep them from doing anything stupid before I get there.”

… and the last of the party is – Chen.

“I do thank you for coming out on such short notice,” the cat-eared girl says, her expression crestfallen as she views the devastation. “Just… what… happened here? The wards dropped, but I didn’t expect…”

The big man kneels down to pick up a bit of gravel that was once a flagstone. Bringing it to his face for a quick sniff, he wrinkles his nose, then drops it. “You need to improve your senses, little one.”

She takes a second to respond, and the man glances upwards, worried that he’s offended her overtly. “… I’m trying,” she swallows. “Progress is slower, now. Lady Yukari has kept Lady Ran too busy for her to tutor me as much as she used to.”

At first you’re relieved that Ran is still doing some of what she used to – so she’s not a complete vegetable, then – but then that changes to frustration that Yukari is disrupting the relationship between the two of them. Just another thing to make her pay for, eventually.

The blonde mage looks up from the rubble and gives the man a loaded glance. “I am sorry for implying that your rate of learning is inadequate,” he explains hastily, nodding back at the mage when Chen looks back at the rubble. He and the mage must be at least very good friends, and more than likely lovers, to be able to communicate without as many words. “I meant no such offense. Even I, after many centuries, can barely distinguish the difference.”

“The difference?” the maiden says, confusion on her face. You’re a little surprised. You’d expect the Hakurei maiden to be a little more versed in arcane matters if she established an equalizing system of conflict across the entire plane.

The mage takes the thread of the explanation. “They didn’t merely drop. They were consumed. There’s no trace of broken enchantments here at all.”

That’s… interesting. You’ll have to experiment with that later.

“They what?” Chen blurts out, echoing your own curiosity.

“Absorbed. Redirected. Repurposed. The alerts you said you put in – the ones that would go off if the wards were breached – they would be completely circumvented by such an action. Like mining a wall out from underneath instead of smashing through.”

“So what caused the explosion?” the nekomata asks.

“… that’s what the current mystery is,” he admits. “So the barriers were absorbed… but it’s not like that power alone would be sufficient to level the area. There was an additional surge of energy – a huge one, from the looks of it.”

The blonde suddenly raises a hand and beckons wildly, drawing them closer, and away from you – thankfully. “What is it?” Chen asks, her breathing quickening in anticipation.

“… they’re gone.”

“Gone?” the man exclaims. He must mean Youki’s sword – and Kogasa.

“Maybe they were absorbed too, and we just haven’t found the physical remains?” the maiden offers.

“No, I’m sure that something took them,” the mage hisses in anger. “Damn it. What kind of monster would have… it’s like eating a corpse!”

You’d take offense, but their confusion is understandable.

“A youkai, perhaps? Something that eats magical energy? It might have also eaten the wards.” Chen offers possibilities rapidly, doing her best to seem more like a fellow investigator, and less a mere messenger.

“Even if a youkai were able to eat its way past Ran’s wards – which I firmly believe to be improbable to the point of absurdity,” the mage adds, “it wouldn’t then just decide to waste an even greater amount needlessly destroying the place.”

“It is a mystery,” the man says with a shrug. “But – it’s clear that your presence isn’t required here any longer, and you have a disturbance to handle.”

The maiden nods, her relief palpable. “Good. Send me off?”

“Of course. The express, as always,” he replies. After clapping his hands, he touches the maiden’s arm –

You blink. So he was the one who teleported the four of them here? So he’s hiding his aura as well, and to the point where your own senses were deceived. A true expert – you resolve to watch out for him as well.

With a bamf, the man returns in the exact same spot as before – greater teleport, then, with that kind of precision. He’s no Traveler – none of them had that level of ability. “Well, then, Alice, Chen, is there anything more – ”

And then, five feet away, the Hakurei maiden reappears, tumbling onto her face from a tear in reality.

And then the bane of your existence, Yukari Yakumo, steps out of a rift not five feet from your face.

You can’t describe how good it would feel to just snipe at her with an orb of force right now – straight into the back of head, the travel time of the shot reduced to basically zero due to the close quarters. Or maybe it would be more satisfying to cut her to pieces with wings of flurry.

But you know that she’ll certainly survive such base violence, and so you keep still, seething with anger nonetheless.

“Lady Yukari.” “Lady Yukari.” “Lady Yukari.” All three of the still-standing people offer polite bows towards her while the Hakurei maiden picks herself up from the ground and dusts herself off.

“Yukari, you couldn’t have been a little more polite about this?!” she shouts, waving her arms angrily. “You couldn’t have waited for me to regain my balance before you gapped me over here?!”

“Sorry, Reimu, but I’m in a hurry,” she sighs. That’s interesting to note. Her posture isn’t as imperious as you remember it being, and although she’s turned away from you, you can still tell that her face is haggard. She isn’t even bothering to conceal the bags underneath her eyes. You can’t help but feel a little sympathetic, even in light of everything she’s done to you. “Something’s going on with the Border, and I want everyone who can fight in Mayohiga. Now.”

“Another attack?” the mage – Alice – hisses.

Yukari’s head slumps. “Worse, I fear. I’ll explain later, but – ”

The Hakurei maiden walks up to Yukari and elbows her in the ribs, and not gently, either. As Yukari steps back, rubbing the spot, they exchange a look of minor amusement – so they’re good friends, then. “Okay, I won’t do my usual gapping without warning. Is eeeeeee-veryone ready?” she asks, stretching out her words as if to give them additional warning.

“Just do it, woman,” the man chuckles in amusement, receiving a similar elbow from Alice. Chen for her part simply closes her eyes and sighs.

Five rifts later, you and Kogasa are alone in the crater once more.

“… that. Was. Awesome!” Kogasa exhales. “They were completely – they didn’t know – aha! Ha! Ha! Ha!” She breaks out into laughter, and you can’t help but smile.

“Let’s hurry to the village,” you say, raising your voice over hers. “The Hakurei maiden said there was a disturbance involving the Travelers and the tengu? We should investigate that.” Without waiting for her to respond, you kick up into the air, launching a clairvoyance high in the sky to get a bird’s eye view of the land.

“I think we should have scared them a little,” she complains, even as she jumps up to join you, her speed able to match yours. You share the image of the landscape with you – the long, winding river, the forest, the mountain, the roads, and, of course, the sprawling “village”. It really isn’t, by now – it’s definitely at the very least a town, and you could argue it has some of the amenities of a city, if the huge platforms of the lightning rail are anything to go by. You watch it zip from one end of the village to the other in less than a minute, shaking your head at the extravagance. But more importantly, you can see similar platforms under construction sprawling out in four directions from the village, although none of them have been looped back yet – obviously incomplete.

“Where’s the Traveler outpost?” you ask Kogasa.

She hesitates. “It should be… here.” “Here”, however, is nothing but a bunch of tree canopies, with not a single sign of civilization. “Can’t see any of it now, though.”

“It’s not an illusion, either. But I’ve heard of such techniques – elves back on my plane generally lived underneath the trees, making it harder to find them with such techniques such as the one I’m doing. I’d imagine that the Travelers are taking a page out of their book, and doing a better job of it.”

She shrugs. “Well, we’re not going there now,” she sighs, before changing the subject. “Those big platforms… that big metal thing…”

“A lightning rail,” you explain. “Binds elementals into service, propelling a large vehicle at breakneck speeds. It’s truly not necessary in a place this small, but they seemed like they needed an outlet for their energies, so…” You trail off, and move onto a new subject of your own. “More importantly – it seems Yukari caught wind of the incoming attack by herself. It seems that we’ll have a bit of freedom to move around.”

You look forward, and scream forward into the skies above the village.

The winds of destiny blow…

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

CHOOSE YOUR VIEWPOINT OF THE UPCOMING INCIDENT

[ ] Be a fly on the wall. Third-person omniscient.
[ ] Be Recette.
[ ] Be Aya.

Also, I got WAY too many ideas in my head this past week. Pick the next update.

CHOOSE THE WRITEFAG'S AREA OF CONCENTRATION

[ ] Write of Alice's children, as they take advantage of their parents' absence from home to pester their mutual lover. The next /at/ scene.
[ ] Write of Renko and Maribel, as they hold back the unknown invader - mostly. Not /at/, but just a cutaway.
[ ] Write of Suwako and her newfound prince. This bears a little explanation. I had the cutest, sweetest idea involving a stereotypically hexed prince who finds not a princess, but a curse goddess to cure his ailments. And then more. A lot more. This will be the start of romance-themed mini-series (I have a distinct plan of how the arc will flow and end) in /at/; and like the (uncompleted ;_;) allargando; a tempo, its events will be canon by the time Sai bumps into the Moriya shrine. Yes. I'm offering to write a smut-filled romance. If this doesn't earn a vote it's not going to be Lost Forever, but just later.
[ ] Write the next damned update already. STAY ON TARGET
>> No. 164477
[x] Be Aya.
[x] Write of Alice's children, as they take advantage of their parents' absence from home to pester their mutual lover.
>> No. 164478
[x] Write the next damned update already. STAY ON TARGET

I'd love to read all your other stories, but this is a pivotal point int he story, the glorious return is coming and I can't wait until he finds out what he missed in those years.


[x] Recette
>> No. 164479
Thread 1: >>153744
Thread 2: >>155091
Thread 3: >>158584
Thread 4: >>162964
>> No. 164480
[x] Be Aya.
[x] Write the next damned update already. STAY ON TARGET
>> No. 164481
[X] Fuck yeah Recette!
[ ] SaixKogasaDammit.
[X] A next update is fine too.
>> No. 164482
[X] Be Recette.
[X] Write the next damned update already. STAY ON TARGET
>> No. 164483
[x] Be Recette.
[x] Write the next sweet update already.

Although I'd love to read the bit about Suwako, there's too much happening right now and I also need to know more about Ran, or what's left of her...

Congratulations on that matter by the way, it's the first time that I had a clear distaste for the Lady of the gaps.
>> No. 164486
[x] Be Reccete
[x] Cut it out with the porn god damn

We need more updates here.
>> No. 164489
[x] Suwako and her prince.

Pissing against the tide, I know, but damn... I wanna see this. I also REALLY wanna see the dolls with Gand, but this first.
>> No. 164491
[x] Be Reccete
[ ] Write of Alice's children, as they take advantage of their parents' absence from home to pester their mutual lover. The next /at/ scene.

Alice's children? I think I have somer eading to catch up to.
>> No. 164492
[X] Be Recette.
[X] Write the next damned update already. STAY ON TARGET
>> No. 164496
[X] Be a fly on the wall.
[X] Write the next damned update already. STAY ON TARGET

>>164491
Shanghai and Hourai, mate. From allargando; a tempo ;_;
>> No. 164497
[]Be Recette
[]Write all of them. I said it.
-[]Write of Suwako and her newfound prince. If you must focus.
>> No. 164499
File 135846666079.png - (33.05KB , 140x112 , sw.png ) [iqdb]
164499
[x]Fly on the wall
[x]Enough porn is enough. You really should just
[x]Write the next damn update already. STAY ON TARGET.

Pic unrelated and possibly unhelpful.
>> No. 164510
[X] Be Recette.
[X] Write the next update, please.
-[X] THEN write the others, preferably Suwako.

Porn is nice, but you shouldn't let it overshadow your pacing too badly.
>> No. 164511
>>164496

;_;

>>164497

no u

>>164510

I just finished something I left unfinished a long time ago and suddenly it's all "overshadow".

Man, it's like being a celebrity, one sex tape fic and you can't live it down...

More seriously, votes will be called in 24 hours. Seems like everyone is hankering for a Recette update as of yet.
>> No. 164512
Anon is voting against porn?

IMPOSSIBRU!

Welp,
[<<] Write the next damned update already. STAY ON TARGET
-[<<] Write of Renko and Maribel, as they hold back the unknown invader - mostly.
>> No. 164513
>>164512 here, because too stupid to delete:

[<<] A fly on the wall.
>> No. 164515
I'm not sure why everyone all stay on target as his pace with this is pretty nice even by modern standards and the Youmu scene he finished up.

Remember to smell the roses on the way, guys and not rush through things.
>> No. 164524
[x] Be a fly on the wall.
[x] Suwako smut gogogogo
>> No. 164526
[] STAY ON TARGET. I find the point of view jumping around like it was a flea on crack very annoying.
>> No. 164528
[X] Be Recette.
[X]Write of Suwako and her newfound prince
>> No. 164534
[X] Be Recette.
[X] Write the next damned update already. STAY ON TARGET

Recette is awesome. And so is the main story.

And why not just write the others as asides in /shorts/ or something? Even if they would be very slow to update due to being lower priority, I think it would be better than constantly cutting apart Tainted Bonds with (not irrlevant, but not quite relevant either) sidetracks.
>> No. 164537
>>164534

Oh yes, these side updates would certainly not go into the main thread, but into either /shorts/ or /at/. That was never a question.
>> No. 164544
Not related to the vote, but I just realised Kogasa isn't the only person with hints of prismatic magic: Alice is the "seven coloured puppeteer".
>> No. 164545
[x] Be Aya.
As much as I'd enjoy a Recette viewpoint, the incident is between the tengu and the Travelers. Having the POV be someone who might actually be involved in the incident seems more fitting than someone who is just an outside observer.

[x] STAY ON TARGET
For now.
>> No. 164553
File 135857913274.jpg - (328.86KB , 1263x718 , Dark Monster.jpg ) [iqdb]
164553
welp

Votes called. Pic related. Writing now. Please wait warmly~
>> No. 164554
I'll wait coldly.
>> No. 164557
I'll wait with the white hot intensity of one thousand suns going supernova.
>> No. 164616
File 135880982985.png - (2.00MB , 2500x2963 , Neutral Meiling.png ) [iqdb]
164616
Update is surprisingly short because for the first time, I was actually deeply uncomfortable with what I had written. I know it’s supposed to be the start of an incident, but it seemed unnecessarily grimdark. Try writing about young children dying in graphic ways from the viewpoint of a child old enough to understand, but too young to not know to harden up. It’s absolutely depressing.

So, I rethought things, and rewound the timespan a bit. Enjoy a few updates of Recette.

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

RESULTS

[X] Be Recette.

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

– your concentration shatters.

Your balance follows. As standing on one finger isn’t something that comes to you naturally, unlike your mother across the yard, you topple like a felled tree into a heap into the grass.

“Something on your mind, Recky?” she says, lifting one eyebrow up – no, down towards the stone she’s perched on.

You try to answer, but fail. It’s then that the nausea hits, and not the dizzy kind that comes from being upside-down for an hour, either. This isn’t even the kind that you get from eating something you shouldn’t have, like the one time you and Nami gorged yourself on half-ripe berries. No, this is a deep nausea, your entire body and mind and soul rejecting something so fully it extends to all your senses. Your head spins, your sight darkens, your ears ring, the scent and taste of filth is smothering you –

The only thing you can think to do is to roll onto your stomach and evacuate its contents into the grass to try and not soil your gi.

Nami. Where’s Nami?

“Recky!” your mother cries in alarm. With of a flex of her extended digit, she launches herself next to you, twisting her body mid-flight to land on her knees. Her long red hair is tied up in a bun – otherwise it would be getting everywhere during these exercises – giving her a surprisingly severe look despite the fact that you know that she’s the sweetest, most smotheringly worrying mother you can imagine. “What’s wrong? Are you sick?” Her face scrunches up. “Was it the lunch I made for you? It was the first time I tried it, I hope I didn’t mess it up too badly!”

“No, that was delicious,” you half-lie with a groan, coughing away the last dregs of bile from your throat as she rolls you into her arms. In reality, you fed it to Nami’s friends, but the fairies didn’t seem to mind the… creative combination of flavors, so saying it was delicious isn’t being entirely untruthful. You had no idea that those foods, selected from the mansion’s very own stocks, could be prepared in that way. That lunchbox will haunt your dreams for a long time yet – but it’ll be nothing compared to the terror you feel right now.

Your mother runs through her medical knowledge, thinking of all the things that would induce vomiting in a person. Her fingers find pressure points on your hands and feet, pressing hard until electricity shoots up your spine. You recognize the action, having done it on a few of the village children yourself at the crèche – it’s to relieve stomach distress. Done properly, it causes instant relief, and your mother is a master at it. It’s one of the infinitely many things she’s taught you.

But your problem doesn’t originate in your stomach, and when you retch again your mother barely has enough time to flip you onto your side before a fresh wave of bile bubbles up.

Her face screws up in disbelief that that didn’t work. “Recky, you aren’t – ”

“I am not pregnant,” you cut her off. First of all, you don’t have a lover; secondly, you’re not that kind of girl; thirdly, you don’t exactly have time for that sort of thing anyways; fourthly, you mostly keep to yourself –

“It was just a thought,” she says, her voice small as it drags you out of your feverishly confused thoughts.

Just then, Nami comes floating over the garden fence from the orchard, fruit juice still on her lips, and lands on your chest. Your mother’s face lights up, thinking she can pump the fairy for information. “Nami, girl, tell me, has Recette – ”

Your familiar interrupts her by projectile-vomiting the remnants of an apple into her face – you can’t even bring yourself to care about the mind-numbing task of getting the stain out of the cotton of her tunic. The fairy then collapses herself, not even bothering to pillow herself properly between your breasts like she normally does, squashing one of them down rather uncomfortably.

You weakly pick her up by her dress and lay her out more comfortably for the both of you, cradling her in turn, as your mother carefully lowers you back down onto the grass. Even so, shestill keeps one hand behind your head, even as she tears up a handful of grass and uses it to wipe her face.

“Is this something Mami warned you about?” she asks, now moving from physical problems to magical ones. “I would have thought she would have told me about sudden attacks of vomiting… and Nami too! What’s going on?”

You shake your head again, both unwilling and unable to immediately respond. No, you can feel what it is. Somewhere in those forests, fields, and mountains, something has gone wrong. Terribly, terribly, wrong. So wrong, that Nami, even if she’s now bound to you instead of that place, feels physically sick – so sick that you can’t help but feel sick as well.

Mistress Futatsuiwa always admonished you for being “too close” to Nami. The way she throws around her shikigami folded from paper, you can understand – those constructs have intellects swiftly woven by magic, barely more advanced than the inner workings of a watch. But Nami is a living, thinking being, old as Gensokyo itself – you still wonder what possessed you to try and catch one as a servant. But Nami was the one who let you find her, when all the others scattered like the leaves of that very same autumn, floating in front of you with a huge grin on her face as she agreed to your contract.

No, you could never keep Nami at a distance. She’s not only your shikigami, she’s your friend and companion – and you’re going to get to the bottom of this.

Your body tingles as you rally your will, chasing out the sickness from Nami’s body like a housecleaner sweeps out dust. You focus those feelings into the fairy as well, imagining that you’re washing away a black grip of illness with iridescent suds. Sparks fly, thunder rolls, and something screams in protest, but that something isn’t you, and you grimly press on until it goes away. You can “see” it now, writhing underneath your assault – it’s like a morsel in a pond being savaged by a school of fish. Right as you focus your will into a thousand spears of light, it decides it’s had enough and leaves. Even its footprints are corrupted, and you repurpose those spears to scrub those out too, leaving Nami hale and healthy again.

But it’s not dead. No, you’re sure it’s simply moved away from Nami’s locus, and it’ll be searching for another. And that place’s fairy won’t have a master like you to help her – and while you don’t know what designs it has, all you have to do is think of how sick, how wrong it felt to know that it is nothing but evil.

The nausea subsides, and Nami weakly sits up, looking dazed. The next wave of emotion from her is of anger, furious rage that something should dare desecrate the land as it has, and the fairy leaps up off of your chest with sudden energy, energy that you feel as well. She rockets into the sky and you follow – straight into your mother’s chest.

“Recette,” she says flatly, staring down at you. Her stern tone all it takes you straighten your spine and listen with your undivided attention. “Where do you think you’re going?”

As you spend a second recovering from the impact, Nami reverses direction, coming back to land on the top of your head. She automatically plants herself, communicating her apathy for your mother’s opinion with an extended tongue, but you make the fairy suck it back in and pay her respect with a mental warning.

You wrestle with yourself. It’s not like you haven’t lied to your mother before – that lunchbox isn’t the biggest fib you’ve made. She’s so blindly trusting of you that even now, right after these strange events, she’d let you escape your normal morning training for “reasons”. You’ve never told her about the times you’ve snuck into the mansion to play with Flandre or read books in the library, or the times you visited the tengu villages in the mountains. She knows that you have an obsession with spending your spare time in the village after your lessons with Mistress Futatsuiwa, but you’ve been too embarrassed to admit to her that you spend all of that time at the crèche.

Or maybe she understands that you don’t like being pinned down. Yes, you’ve never missed a lesson with either her or the tanuki, but that’s because you legitimately enjoy the things they teach you: how to manage a magical contract, how to focus your chi, magics of all sorts, martial arts, and, of course, danmaku.

… but recently, you’ve been feeling all sorts of strange. Niggling doubts at the strange inconsistencies in the way people treat you, doubts that culminated in your outburst at Miss Youmu and Aunt Chen last winter. You still haven’t told your mother about that, because you know she’d admonish you just as they did for “exposing” yourself on the ferals’ hunting grounds.

But maybe, for something like this… maybe you shouldn’t go alone.

… but you’re still going, either way.

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

CHOOSE YOUR SCOPE OF OUTREACH

[ ] This is a personal affair. As unusual as this may be, you’re sure you can handle it personally. Just because it’s a threat to others doesn’t mean that this stopped being your concern. Dragging others into things will just make things more complicated. You have a mark, you have a hunt, you have a goal. Leave now, finish quickly, and be done with this whole affair fast; you can deal with the fallout when it isn’t on the loose.

[ ] Tell your mother what you plan. She’ll get a sending off to the Hakurei, and she might be able to get in touch with others: Miss Youmu and Aunt Chen are merely two of the many power players you can think of. And truthfully, you’d be glad to fight alongside your mother. Others might be better magicians, but Hong Meiling is the greatest kung fu master ever to walk Gensokyo. It might take a few minutes, but the added force is well worth the wait.

Yes, you know that Yukari already recalled Reimu, Youmu, and Chen to Mayohiga, as well as Alice and REDACTED. It’ll just be mother and daughter.
>> No. 164617
[x] Tell your mother what you plan. She’ll get a sending off to the Hakurei, and she might be able to get in touch with others: Miss Youmu and Aunt Chen are merely two of the many power players you can think of. And truthfully, you’d be glad to fight alongside your mother. Others might be better magicians, but Hong Meiling is the greatest kung fu master ever to walk Gensokyo. It might take a few minutes, but the added force is well worth the wait.

Have a little faith in Meiling.
>> No. 164618
[x] Tell your mother what you plan. She’ll get a sending off to the Hakurei, and she might be able to get in touch with others: Miss Youmu and Aunt Chen are merely two of the many power players you can think of. And truthfully, you’d be glad to fight alongside your mother. Others might be better magicians, but Hong Meiling is the greatest kung fu master ever to walk Gensokyo. It might take a few minutes, but the added force is well worth the wait.
>> No. 164620
[X] Tell your mother what you plan. She’ll get a sending off to the Hakurei, and she might be able to get in touch with others: Miss Youmu and Aunt Chen are merely two of the many power players you can think of. And truthfully, you’d be glad to fight alongside your mother. Others might be better magicians, but Hong Meiling is the greatest kung fu master ever to walk Gensokyo. It might take a few minutes, but the added force is well worth the wait.

Do not want adorable daughter to get in over her head and lose it to some taint monster or whatever that was.
>> No. 164627
[x] This is a personal affair. As unusual as this may be, you’re sure you can handle it personally. Just because it’s a threat to others doesn’t mean that this stopped being your concern. Dragging others into things will just make things more complicated. You have a mark, you have a hunt, you have a goal. Leave now, finish quickly, and be done with this whole affair fast; you can deal with the fallout when it isn’t on the loose.
The apple doesn't fall... you know the drill
>> No. 164630
[ ] This is a personal affair. As unusual as this may be, you’re sure you can handle it personally. Just because it’s a threat to others doesn’t mean that this stopped being your concern. Dragging others into things will just make things more complicated. You have a mark, you have a hunt, you have a goal. Leave now, finish quickly, and be done with this whole affair fast; you can deal with the fallout when it isn’t on the loose.
>> No. 164633
[X] This is a personal affair. As unusual as this may be, you’re sure you can handle it personally. Just because it’s a threat to others doesn’t mean that this stopped being your concern. Dragging others into things will just make things more complicated. You have a mark, you have a hunt, you have a goal. Leave now, finish quickly, and be done with this whole affair fast; you can deal with the fallout when it isn’t on the loose.

The tie, it called to me...
>> No. 164635
File 135882004419.jpg - (14.18KB , 132x150 , why.jpg ) [iqdb]
164635
>>164633
>ties
>> No. 164640
[X] Tell your mother what you plan. She’ll get a sending off to the Hakurei, and she might be able to get in touch with others: Miss Youmu and Aunt Chen are merely two of the many power players you can think of. And truthfully, you’d be glad to fight alongside your mother. Others might be better magicians, but Hong Meiling is the greatest kung fu master ever to walk Gensokyo. It might take a few minutes, but the added force is well worth the wait.

I have nothing witty to say here.
>> No. 164641
[X] Tell your mother what you plan. She’ll get a sending off to the Hakurei, and she might be able to get in touch with others: Miss Youmu and Aunt Chen are merely two of the many power players you can think of. And truthfully, you’d be glad to fight alongside your mother. Others might be better magicians, but Hong Meiling is the greatest kung fu master ever to walk Gensokyo. It might take a few minutes, but the added force is well worth the wait.

I'm gonna be honest - it kinda hurts to see Recette with Meiling, and not with Sai/Ran.
>> No. 164649
[x] Tell your mother what you plan. She’ll get a sending off to the Hakurei, and she might be able to get in touch with others: Miss Youmu and Aunt Chen are merely two of the many power players you can think of. And truthfully, you’d be glad to fight alongside your mother. Others might be better magicians, but Hong Meiling is the greatest kung fu master ever to walk Gensokyo. It might take a few minutes, but the added force is well worth the wait.
>> No. 164655
[X] Tell your mother what you plan. She’ll get a sending off to the Hakurei, and she might be able to get in touch with others: Miss Youmu and Aunt Chen are merely two of the many power players you can think of. And truthfully, you’d be glad to fight alongside your mother. Others might be better magicians, but Hong Meiling is the greatest kung fu master ever to walk Gensokyo. It might take a few minutes, but the added force is well worth the wait.

I feel like the other choice is just asking for maximum grimdark.
>> No. 164657
[X] This is a personal affair. As unusual as this may be, you’re sure you can handle it personally. Just because it’s a threat to others doesn’t mean that this stopped being your concern. Dragging others into things will just make things more complicated. You have a mark, you have a hunt, you have a goal. Leave now, finish quickly, and be done with this whole affair fast; you can deal with the fallout when it isn’t on the loose.

Nothing wrong with a healthy dose of despair.
>> No. 164658
[X] Tell mother
>> No. 164663
[X] Tell your mother what you plan. She’ll get a sending off to the Hakurei, and she might be able to get in touch with others: Miss Youmu and Aunt Chen are merely two of the many power players you can think of. And truthfully, you’d be glad to fight alongside your mother. Others might be better magicians, but Hong Meiling is the greatest kung fu master ever to walk Gensokyo. It might take a few minutes, but the added force is well worth the wait.
>> No. 164671
Votes will be called in 24 hours. Saddle up, mates.
>> No. 164672
[X] Tell your mother what you plan. She’ll get a sending off to the Hakurei, and she might be able to get in touch with others: Miss Youmu and Aunt Chen are merely two of the many power players you can think of. And truthfully, you’d be glad to fight alongside your mother. Others might be better magicians, but Hong Meiling is the greatest kung fu master ever to walk Gensokyo. It might take a few minutes, but the added force is well worth the wait.

Yeah I think it's better to have a powerful person with Recette to take on this threat.

I forget how old is Recette again?
>> No. 164674
>>164672

Recette as of now is approximately two and a half years old. Her physique, however, is far more mature that that of a similarly aged human - she can blend in with the children of villagers approaching their teens, and her mind is of at least someone that old - with flashes of insight and intellect that most adult humans would be incapable of.

I haven't thought of an extremely specific appearance/face for her, and, come to think of it, I don't think I've written one up for Sai, either.
>> No. 164676
>>164674
Holy shit, that kitsune blood sure makes you grow up fast. Of course, she is a kitsune/human-soul half breed so I have no idea how that even works.

By the way balista, did you ever post a character sheet for Sai? I can't remember if you did. Since I'm a little into D&D it'd be cool to know how you built him.
>> No. 164678
[X] Tell your mother what you plan. She’ll get a sending off to the Hakurei, and she might be able to get in touch with others: Miss Youmu and Aunt Chen are merely two of the many power players you can think of. And truthfully, you’d be glad to fight alongside your mother. Others might be better magicians, but Hong Meiling is the greatest kung fu master ever to walk Gensokyo. It might take a few minutes, but the added force is well worth the wait.

Sometimes it's better to just trust those older than you instead of running off on your own.
This seems like one of those moments to me.
>> No. 164681
File 135898572275.jpg - (219.13KB , 600x888 , Wukong Meiling.jpg ) [iqdb]
164681
Votes called. Pic related. Writing now. Please wait warmly~
>> No. 164697
File 135907779218.gif - (30.40KB , 220x400 , Recette.gif ) [iqdb]
164697
>>164681
Isn't it obvious?
>> No. 164699
>>164674
Have Recette and Yukari ever interacted? She and Chen seem to get along okay, but has Yukari ever really kept an eye on her?
>> No. 164739
[ ] Follow the trail of the children forwards. That rolling ball of darkness was terrifyingly fast, and you’re pretty sure those corrupted fairies met a nasty if unseen end. There’s no reason to confront it immediately. You’ve got to focus on saving lives before anything else, so the first course of action to take would be to follow the same trail they were and find the children – if you can find them at all, that is.

Save the kids then think about going after whatever's around.
>> No. 164741
So had to restart my browser and now the story post is gone...

Why do you do this to me?
>> No. 164742
File 13592708157.jpg - (197.47KB , 933x1200 , Knuckles Meiling.jpg ) [iqdb]
164742
>>164741

Someone pointed out a huge gaping plot hole due to the omission of a very important paragraph due to bad copy-paste habits. Fixed nao.

No, I'm not saying what it was, it's embarrassing.

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

RESULTS

[X] Tell your mother what you plan. She’ll get a sending off to the Hakurei, and she might be able to get in touch with others: Miss Youmu and Aunt Chen are merely two of the many power players you can think of. And truthfully, you’d be glad to fight alongside your mother. Others might be better magicians, but Hong Meiling is the greatest kung fu master ever to walk Gensokyo. It might take a few minutes, but the added force is well worth the wait.

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

“There’s something in the hills that tried to hurt Nami. I’m going to find it – and then I’m going to kill it,” you declare, your expression fierce.

“To hunt a monster is a worthy quest,” your mother says, expression not wavering in the slightest. “And just what makes you think you’re going alone?”

You glance up at Nami, then back to her, and then realize just how trusting she is of you. “You don’t want to hear the details first?” you say, incredulous. “Forget that, you’re not going to tell me to wait?”

“First of all, I trust your judgment. More importantly, my daughter’s battles are my battles,” she says, crossing her arms. “I don’t need to know anything else.”

“Mom,” you say flatly. “You’re stupid.”

“Stupidly in love with the greatest daughter in the world!” she says with a wink, and your heart melts as she grabs you in a quick but heartfelt hug, forcing Nami off of your head in an abrupt tumble. You’re proud that you only sob once.

After you disentangle yourself, you turn towards Nami where she hovers by your side, waiting for you to finish. Carefully, you weave several glamours of nondetection over her – just her. “I want you to fly to your old home,” you say. “Try and track down where that thing went. If you run into trouble – if you think you might run into trouble – you pop yourself and come back here immediately, do you understand?”

She gives you a frantic nod that only you can see, although she’s clearly not enthused about the idea of a round two. A second later she’s off, rocketing towards Youkai Mountain.

Your scout sent, you turn and start jogging towards the cottage yourself your mother and familar moving alongside you like bodyguards. “Sendings,” you pant as you slam through the front door, nimbly leaping over rugs, gardening tools, and furniture alike until you skid into the main room. “The Hakurei maiden should know what’s going on, at the very least.”

“That bad, huh?” Your mother nods, digging out the sending stones from underneath a pile of old magazines on the bookshelf.

“Miss Youmu and Aunt Chen, too, if we can get them. Not Missus Kamishirasawa, though – she’s not at the top of her form right now.”

“… this is very serious,” she says grimly.

“Deadly.” You think back to that feeling of corruption, of something twisted trying to take root in Nami’s very soul – and by extension, yours. “It might have killed me – or worse.”

“By the Dragon, I’m glad it didn’t,” she swears, reaching out to tousle your hair. “Should we raise Mami as well?”

“Of course,” you say, and then she thrusts the device into your hands. You stare at them for a second. “Uh, aren’t you – ”

“Your war, your call,” she says sternly.

“You think they’ll actually listen to me?” you say, unsure.

“You’re more important than me, Recky,” she admits. “Don’t try and be modest – your potential is astronomical.”

You try and argue back. “I’m not that – ”

“You’re painfully shortsighted if you honestly think you’re not special. Dragon,” she sighs, “you take lessons from me and Mami and consider it to be fun. Both of us spent our youths trying to teach ourselves – we were already adults by the time we found what might be called proper schooling. You, on the other hand, have grown up underneath us since you were born, and we expect you to go much farther as a result.” She smiles. “They’ll listen to you, Recette. All you have to do is call.”

Swallowing, you turn your head to the floor and nod, trying to condense the call into twenty-five words, counting and recounting as you try and squeeze as much as information as you can into the limit.

You clear your throat, then with a tap and a thought of the shrine’s own set of similar stones, you say, “Urgent. Unknown entity corrupting land, fairies on Youkai Mountain. Extremely dangerous. Creating hunting party, require reinforcements. Respond immediately at Scarlet Mansion. Hong and Recette Meiling.”

“Good message,” your mother says reassuringly.

“It was too terse,” you chuckle nervously, putting the stones down on the center table, pushing aside books and empty flowerpots to make space. Of course it was; sendings always are. Twenty-five words is never enough. Quickly, you repeat the message twice more, once for your aunt who’ll find Youmu herself, and once for your teacher.

Seconds pass as you shuffle nervously in front of the stones. “We should be getting ready while we wait for a response,” your mother coughs.

“What is there to prepare?” you ask, curiously. “We have ourselves. What other weapons do we need?”

“An old lizard like me has some relics in stock from her younger days,” she says, looking slightly prideful.

“What, that box of knick-knacks in the shed?” you ask curiously. The items range from ribbons to alarm clocks to things you can’t even begin to identify – oversized crystals, a meat cleaver rusted into floral patterns, and a living, apparently nonmagical vine that defies everything you know about biology. “I wasn’t aware any of them did anything useful.”

“No, those are just sentimental baubles,” she admits. “I keep the good stuff underneath the floorboards.”

“We don’t have a cellar,” you say, confused.

“No, we don’t,” she agrees. “And oh,” she says with a sudden gleam in her eye. “Get your dress.”

“Mom?” you say, incredulous. You stuffed that billowing pink ruffled monstrosity of a Christmas present into your closet without even bothering to open the box – you’d have burned it if it had come from any other person.

“Just do it, Recky,” she says with a wink.

“Oh, okay,” you stammer slightly. Trepidation creeps up your neck, the kind you get when you suspect you’ve just been completely and utterly outwitted.

Spinning quickly through the doorframe into the back hallway of the cottage, you nimbly hop over the boxes of assorted home supplies next to the door of your room. Shoving aside an ill-placed coat rack, you throw open your closet and fling aside a dozen shirts and pairs of pants, uncovering the brightly colored box where you’d hidden it, both out of embarrassment and sentimentality.

With a deep breath, you scan it with your senses one last time before you open it, confirming that yes, it does in fact contain a dress. It’s just as disgustingly impractical as the last time you looked at it – how can anyone move around with a hemline low to the point of dragging on the ground? Not about to miss the incoming sendings of response, you take the whole box into your arms and leap back out of your room to run back into the main room.

You find your mother crawling on the floor, fingers across the boards in search of – something, you’re not quite sure what. “Mom?”

She doesn’t answer you immediately, though, instead choosing to lift an arm in a wave – no, her movements are too precise for that. You wince as her hand plunges in a hard chop, her fingertips slashing straight through one of the floorboards and into the crawlspace underneath, leaving her wrist-deep into the foundation underneath. So exact was her strike that you can see that the repair will be limited to just that one plank – nothing a fabricate from one of the Travelers can’t fix in seconds, although you suspect that your mother will have you doing it by hand later to “build character”. Honestly, the hole in the house’s enchantments will be far easier to fix.

“Just a second, Recky,” she says, her focus entirely on the hole. Her fingers and palm still aligned, she makes several scraping motions, peeling apart the layers of packed earth and crumbled mortar like a shovel. “It should be – right – here – aha!”

With several hand-over-hand pulls, she unearths a long red staff, the ends tipped with gold. “Oh, hellooooooooo, have I missed you!” she sings, practically crooning as she hugs it shamelessly in front of you.

“Mom!” you bark out, not sure whether to be amused or embarrassed as she starts rubbing her cheek against its surface.

“But it’s been years since I’ve seen him,” she pouts, looking for all the world like a child with a favorite toy. “Mistress Remilia said I couldn’t leave him laying around, because some fairy might walk try to fly off with him. Fat chance – they couldn’t even lift it if a hundred of them came.”

You scan it with your senses. It’s just a metal rod; while it’s not a metal you’ve ever seen before, it doesn’t seem that special, barring the fact that it’s impossibly heavy. Actually, now that you think about it, it’s heavy enough to crash straight through the timbers of the floor should she so much as lay it flat on its side – okay, maybe there is something special about it. “It’s not like anyone messes with the things you keep in the shed, either, so what’s so important about this in particular?”

“He was my faithful companion for most of my delinquent youth,” she sighs nostalgically. “For that matter, he was what started the whole ‘delinquent’ part of that. Did you know I used to work at a desk all day?” she laughs.

“You?” you repeat in disbelief.

“All I did was push papers all day long. The red stamp of rejection, the black stamp of approval, a pen to sign my name – those were my tools. I was born into the position, raised from the cradle to become nothing but Heaven’s finest bureaucrat.”

You keep quiet, holding your question about ‘Heaven’ until there’s time. You can’t dawdle too long here, after all – you’ve a hunt to begin. “Somehow, I just hated it from the very start, but I never knew why. Then one day, I just got fed up with it all, and left my post – which, by the way, is the equivalent of bloody murder up there. Of all things, I bump into a huge work crew; they were dragging this old thing out of storage to turn him back into a support pillar for the oceans, since his owner didn’t need him anymore – he turned into a Buddha, you see. The owner, not, er, him,” she indicates with a small wave of the staff.

“Uh, yeah, I see,” you say confusedly, “but that’s not nearly big enough to be a – ”

“Oh, he was much bigger at the time. Wider than this cottage all around, and tall enough to scrape the clouds. Apparently he weighed about ten thousand jin – ”

That’s a unit you’ve never heard before. “How heavy?”

But she’s on a roll right now, and won’t be stopped for anything. “ – but when I tried to join the rubbernecking crowds to try and lose my boss, he just started glowing. The next thing I knew he was shrinking, falling off the rollers and generally making chaos as workers ran everywhere. I just kinda stood there in shock as the crowd fled before its path – and then he bumped into my foot. I did the only logical thing, of course – I picked him up.”

“No one got mad at you?”

“They did. Oh, how they did. I must have been jumped on by at least a hundred confused guards, and I’m not talking the kind that sit around and run alarms at the first site of trouble. No, they were all valorous generals, renowned heroes and master sages, called specifically to protect it during the move.”

“… and they just let you have it?”

Him,” she corrects you. “And no, they didn’t. But he had other plans than being turned into a support pillar again, and I had other plans than reviewing budgets for little roadside shrines for the rest of my life. Together, the two of us fought our way down to the earth itself, and thus began our misadventures!” She poses, holding ‘him’ up high in triumph.

Your curiosity gets the better of you. “Then how’d you end up as a gardener here?”

She only shrugs. “That’s another story. Maybe later. For now, though…” she says with a glare towards the stones, “… why has no one responded yet?”

“You didn’t get the response while I was getting this?” you ask frantically, waving the offending box.

“Nothing,” your mother says, her voice betraying her concern as you pull out one of the chairs from under the table, dropping the box onto its seat. “Not a word from any of them.”

“… maybe they’ve already found the monsters themselves?” you say hopefully. It’s possible – and such a prompt response from them might not be completely unexpected from them if the threat is as great as you think it is – as you know it is.

“That would be for the best, yes, but let’s not assume that our work has already been done for us,” she cautions you.

You nod in response. “Of course – I have no intention of – ”

Much regret, unable. Both of you jump up as the stones send back a response. Travelers, tengu quarreling. Conflict escalating. Swords drawn, spellcard rules ignored.

“Of all the times for things to boil over, it has to be now?” your mother hisses from behind clenched teeth. “But this – maybe this incident, if they hear about it, can get them to take their focus off of each other – ”

Hakurei absent, location unknown. Taoists, Buddhists occupied. Suggest mobilizing immediately. Mamizou Futatsuiwa.

“They’ll listen,” you repeat ironically, and you wish you hadn’t said that as your mother swears and punches the table. It’s fortunate that the thing is crafted from sturdy oak, but you hear wood crack despite that fact. “Is there anyone else? Aunt Chen, Miss Youmu? Why aren’t they responding either?”

“If Reimu is out,” your mother says, thinking aloud, “then chances are Lady Yukari’s in on this too.”

“… and if she needs Reimu for something, she’ll have taken Aunt Chen with her as well. And Miss Youmu and Chen are inseparable these days, so – that’s her as well,” you realize. “Then who can we ask? Missus Kamishirasawa?” She’s the last person you can think of.

“If even the Taoists and Buddhists are occupied, then the only way to get Keine to leave her village right now would be as a corpse,” your mother says grimly, reminding you why you had been reluctant to ask her in the first place.

“… I know this is asking a lot, but – Miss Scarlet? Miss Izayoi? Miss Knowledge? Even Miss Koakuma could help.” You refrain from adding the younger Scarlet to the list. You’re not that suicidal; although she’s quite a nice girl and hardly about to go on a random wrecking spree like she apparently used to, you’ve had the experience of seeing her “take the safeties off” once, which was one more time than you needed to see it to know that asking her to fight would be a horrible, horrible idea.

“You know just as I do that they’re in Makai right now,” she says, shaking her head. “And you were the one telling me we can’t get a sending through the planar border they’ve got.”

“You could go fetch them, I thought. Maybe?” you say in small voice.

“And by the time I come back with our friends, this entire incident will have either ended, or escalated to something awful,” she says, agreeing with what you already know. “No, Recky, we’re truly alone for this one.”

“We won’t be alone,” you say in rebuttal. “We have each other.”

She smiles a bit, and you feel yourself flush beet-red. “Yeah, I guess we do.”

Just then, you feel Nami touch your mind. Glad to focus on something else for a second, you hold a hand to hold off any further conversation as you focus on the images your shikigami is sending you.

… shadowy figures, flitting between the trees. A little larger than fairies, but there are enough similarities in proportions and silhouettes to make you swallow hard in painful realization that many were not nearly as lucky as Nami. Strangely, they seem to give off just a little light of their own despite being so darkly colored; perhaps it’s a callback to what they were before that force corrupted them.

But none of them seem to notice her. Instead, they’re focused on something else, all searching for something, but clearly gravitating towards a single direction. As they start collapsing into a wedge, she spots what they’re focused on: a clear trail recently left by something fleeing in obvious haste. Here and there are dark, wet splotches, almost certainly blood.

Something – or someone, as the scrap of bloodstained, homespun cotton on the branch gives away. Your own eyes widen: you recognize its spotted green-on-white pattern. That hideous color combination is the common uniform at the village crèche – it makes the residents unmistakable, as no adult or home-raised child would be caught dead wearing the same pattern.

In other words, those fairies are searching for a child – or children. There could be more than one; in fact, there are probably several of them, as the playmates tend to roam in groups. But why in the Hells are they this far out on Youkai Mountain, in unpatrolled lands? Some kind of dare gone wrong?

But there’s no time to dwell on that. There’s a crashing, crunching sound approaching, and as one the fairies start turning away, suddenly fearful of their current route. A wave of pure black darkness, not the paradoxical luminescent kind of the former fairies, rolls out of the trees towards them. The creatures take to the air, but not fast enough, as the absurd speed of the shadow becomes apparent. Each is engulfed in turn, and then the rolling shadow is upon her before she can even think to –

pop, and then she’s reforming over your head. “She’s back!” your mother points out unnecessarily, more to break the long silence than out of any real need.

The moment your shikigami finishes respawning, she flits in front of your face, arms waving frantically, her own features wide with terror. “Yes, Nami, yes, yes, I know it was scary.”

“What’d she see?” your mother demands, and you fill her in as fast as possible as Nami hugs herself around your arm, absolutely refusing to let go.

“Children from the crèche!” she exclaims in horror. “What possessed them to wander so far out?”

“I have no idea,” you admit, “but we have to move now. Nami can guide us to that trail again.”

Your mother shakes her head, rolling her staff from hand to hand in nervousness. “But that darkness – I’ve heard of a youkai that travels in an orb of darkness. Read about it in the paper once. It ate those fairy things, didn’t it? Should we worry about finding more of them?”

“Worse. You told me why you pick the beetles in the garden off the flowers into a bucket of soapy water by hand, instead of poisoning them.”

She winces. “Because if they eat the poison, and then the birds eat them…”

“The bird is the one to die. Except this time, it’s not poison, and it won’t kill it.” You swallow. “It’s worse.”

“… but at least it was travelling opposite to the trail the children left,” she points out. “If we go the same way as the fairies did, then we shouldn’t run into it.”

“But that came from the same direction as the children,” you realize. “What’s to say it hasn’t already eaten them, and just picked off the fairies for dessert? In that case, the only thing left to do is hunt it down before it spreads the corruption even further.”

“But that’s giving up on the children early,” your mother growls, and you have to admit that that’s an unpleasant idea to stomach.

“Even then, we can’t ignore the original attack. Those fairies didn’t come out of thin air – something made them that way, and we didn’t see it.”

“Dragon, but we need to know more!” your mother curses. “Recky, have you learned to scry yet? Mami says she sometimes pokes around here just to see how the garden’s going without coming in person. Has she taught you anything about that?”

You shake your head. “She said she was saving that for later. Said I might be tempted to start sticking my nose places it doesn’t belong.”

Your mother looks to the fairy on your arm. “Nami, can I ask you to – ”

Both you and your shikigami shake your heads no before she can even finish. “That was a close enough call last time. I’m not about to send her out again – she was lucky.” You’re probably being paranoid, but you’d like to think it justified in this situation.

“Then we need to head out ourselves, now. But where?”

She looks at you expectantly. Uncomfortable with the trust she’s putting in your decision, you think of all the intel you have at hand…

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

CHOOSE YOUR DIRECTION OF PURSUIT

[ ] Follow the trail of the children forwards. That rolling ball of darkness was terrifyingly fast, and you’re pretty sure those corrupted fairies met a nasty if unseen end. There’s no reason to confront it immediately. You’ve got to focus on saving lives before anything else, so the first course of action to take would be to follow the same trail they were and find the children – if you can find them at all, that is.

[ ] Follow the trail of the children backwards. The speed of that darkness youkai tells of an experienced, deadly hunter. And there was a lot of blood on the trail – it would have smelled it and found the children long before the fairies did. Exterminating that youkai before it gets too far will help contain the corruption before it goes far, and you can roll to the source after that – if you survive.

[ ] Ignore the trail, and find the source. Those fairies can’t have been the only ones corrupted. And they weren’t doing any obvious action to spread the infection – surely something is still continuing the corruption elsewhere. If you stop to save lives or exterminate youkai first, something irreversible might happen – if it hasn’t already.

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

I hope you enjoyed your half of a Meiling origins story as headcanon by this writefag.

You want to hear the rest of it?

Then get her through this alive.
>> No. 164744
[X] Follow the trail of the children forwards. That rolling ball of darkness was terrifyingly fast, and you’re pretty sure those corrupted fairies met a nasty if unseen end. There’s no reason to confront it immediately. You’ve got to focus on saving lives before anything else, so the first course of action to take would be to follow the same trail they were and find the children – if you can find them at all, that is.

And if I can append a write-in:
-[X] Contact the Human Village Regardless of whether she will help us, Miss Kamishirasawa should know about what's going on so the Village can prepare for the worst. Also, between Miss Hieda and Miss Akyuu, you might be able to get information on this apparent darkness youkai if you end up having to face it in combat, as well as the situation as a whole, on the off-chance a similar occurrence has happened before.

By the way, are we going to be getting any kind of vague stats for Recette?
>> No. 164748
She has SUN WUKONG'S STAFF? Oh, this will go well....

hmmmm, gonna have a think before I vote, this is a toughie...
>> No. 164749
I agree with >>164744.
Even if we can't expect any help, sharing information with those who might need it is a good idea.

[X] Follow the trail of the children forwards.
-[X] Contact the Human Village

And yeah, if we've warned just about everyone important of this, the source itself can wait. Let's start by helping those we know are there and-"Try writing about young children dying in graphic ways from the viewpoint of a child old enough to understand, but too young to not know to harden up. It’s absolutely depressing."
Well if we're fast it might not be as bad, right? Right?
>> No. 164753
[x] BACKWARDS

They don't sign things in East Asia. They use "personal stamps".
>> No. 164760
File 135931225464.jpg - (175.81KB , 760x596 , 1358891635095.jpg ) [iqdb]
164760
dammit, now I'm stuck in this trap.
Go after the children and find out the're all corrupted and they kill Meiling in the fight.
Go after the youkai and fight a powerful, tainted monster that kill Meiling.
Go after the source and I don't know what happens but Meiling.

I choose [ ] Ignore the trail, and find the source.
>> No. 164764
>>164749

I trashed 2K words because I couldn't write it from a first-person perspective - not just because it didn't read the way I wanted it to, but because it was giving me the heeby-jeebies.

>>164753

fuck

I remember the bit about seals and then I put in the idiom about signing one's name over and over again. I got halfway there...

>>164760

Well, remember that Meiling hasn't yet encountered Hope. Going head on with the corruption, instead of merely its victims, has its own problems.

Given the choices, you might say she's a Hopeless cause...

>> No. 164768
>>164739 Here reminding folks that I voted before the repost.
>> No. 164789
[ ] Ignore the trail, and find the source. Those fairies can’t have been the only ones corrupted. And they weren’t doing any obvious action to spread the infection – surely something is still continuing the corruption elsewhere. If you stop to save lives or exterminate youkai first, something irreversible might happen – if it hasn’t already.

Kill the BBEG and the rest will be easy.
>> No. 164794
>>164789
you're thinking too simply, perhaps thinking too much of a game where "causalities" are just a statistic.

Though if it was Sai's PoV, I'd be more inclined to agree as he's powerful/hope-endowed. Meiling however...
>> No. 164796
>>164794
>causalities
That is the not the word you were looking for. It's 'casualties'.
>> No. 164805
[X] Ignore the trail, and find the source.
- [X] Try to take a good look at it before engaging - assaulting it outright might not be the best option...
>> No. 164816
Words of warning: votes will be called in ~24 hours.

Three for forwards, two for source, one for backwards, and a bunch of write-ins to send intel back.
>> No. 164817
[X] Ignore the trail, and find the source.
-[x] Be prepared to call for aid, horrible idea or no.
>> No. 164827
Whelp, so much for those kids
>> No. 164829
[X] Follow the trail of the children forwards. That rolling ball of darkness was terrifyingly fast, and you’re pretty sure those corrupted fairies met a nasty if unseen end. There’s no reason to confront it immediately. You’ve got to focus on saving lives before anything else, so the first course of action to take would be to follow the same trail they were and find the children – if you can find them at all, that is.

Assume they're alive until you find their bodies. Or what's left.
>> No. 164830
[x] Follow the trail of the children forwards.

Gotta save dem childrens.
>> No. 164832
[X] Follow the trail of the children forwards. That rolling ball of darkness was terrifyingly fast, and you’re pretty sure those corrupted fairies met a nasty if unseen end. There’s no reason to confront it immediately. You’ve got to focus on saving lives before anything else, so the first course of action to take would be to follow the same trail they were and find the children – if you can find them at all, that is.

I think not trying to save lives when we know they are in danger would be somewhat out of character, but that's just me, and we've just barely met this character, so take that statement with a grain of salt.
>> No. 164837
File 135956007093.jpg - (117.42KB , 500x334 , Those Kids.jpg ) [iqdb]
164837
>>164832

Well, this is supposed to be a character-defining moment.

Do you hare off after the mere possibility that someone might be alive? Or do you go prefer to smash the largest threat head on? Or maybe you prefer to try and avoid combat, and try and resolve the whole situation as fast as possible.

But wait, this is THP.

Votes called. Pic related. Writing now. Please wait warmly~
>> No. 164915
>>164837
For me, it's the mere possibility that someone may be alive, and to possibly prevent more deaths. But, as Warhammer 40,000 aptly puts it, hope is the first step on the road to disappointment.
>> No. 164945
File 135978425732.jpg - (36.87KB , 480x480 , Flaming General.jpg ) [iqdb]
164945
RESULTS

[X] Follow the trail of the children forwards. That rolling ball of darkness was terrifyingly fast, and you’re pretty sure those corrupted fairies met a nasty if unseen end. There’s no reason to confront it immediately. You’ve got to focus on saving lives before anything else, so the first course of action to take would be to follow the same trail they were and find the children – if you can find them at all, that is.

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

“There’s still some hope that they’re alive,” you say, your voice firm. “We can’t just leave them to die.”

“Then we should leave as soon as we can,” your mother says, tapping her staff on the floor for emphasis. That small movement causes the entire foundation to shudder, and you both wince. “Oh – your dress!”

“Is this really the time for a dress, mom?” you snap with more than a little anger.

“Okay, it’s just not a dress,” she admits.

“From the way you’re acting, it clearly isn’t, but that’s all I saw.” She beckons slightly, and you pick up the offending package and toss it at her.

“Didn’t I tell you to not peek inside presents?” she chuckles as she grabs it out of the air.

“I can hardly help it! Just get on with it!” you snap, red to the roots of your hair.

She winks. “Behold, a ridiculous dress fit for a princess!” she proclaims, unboxing the dress in a single swift movement. It’s exactly as ridiculous as you imagined. You can hardly stand to look at it.

“But! What’s… this?” your mother suddenly adds, backing into the kitchen. A drawer full of ridiculous knick-knacks and keepsakes, very similar to the shed in that regard, flies open at her touch, and she scoops out a small wand that at first glance seems exactly as tawdry as the rest of the objects within.

And then she touches it to the dress, and the garment changes. The bodice expands and loosens until you can actually imagine moving around in it – more accurately, it separates into a distinct undershirt and vest, the long sleeves pulling inward to provide the requisite material. At the same time, the huge bunches of lace congeal into a small cap – so that’s why there was so much of it. The ridiculously long train clips itself off the hem while the remaining skirt consolidates itself into two looser flaps, and then all that excess cloth seemingly folds itself inside out into a… pair of loose-fitting pants, of all things.

When the colored cloth shifts from pink to green in the next second, you gasp. It’s a picture-perfect copy of your mother’s uniform.

“Mom,” you exhale in disbelief. The outfit, which had been nothing more than so much mundane silk before, now glows with magic – again, the same as your mother’s. You don’t have the time to examine it in depth at the moment, but you’re sure that basic charms against wear and tear are only the beginning of a very long list, a list that ends with things like “inferno-resistant” “shock-absorbing”, and “impenetrable”.

“It took a little wheedling to get ol’ Rellim in town to do this trick,” she admits, putting the clothes on the table before you. “Compress the schematics and wards into a wand, weave a garment with exactly the right amount of material, and convert that into a spectacular set of clothing with a single wave of the hand. The development was his idea of making a scene at high-society gatherings – arrive looking like a beggar, then turn into a princeling in a single moment. Great for crashing parties in style. I asked if he could change things up slightly.”

“How much did this cost?” you breathe out, not wasting a moment to start stripping out of your current exercise gi to don your new outfit.

“Well, normally it would cost a fortune, but first of all, he was bored with weaving workmans’ clothes, and secondly, I provided him flowers for his wedding when none of the villagers would.”

“… why wouldn’t they?” you say, appalled at such a thought. It comes out muffled as you work your arms through the sleeves of the undershirt.

“He kind of put all the other tailors out of business with his magic,” she says, her voice carefully light. “A little too good at his job.”

You wince as you drag the vest over your head. again reminded of some of the many reasons why there’s so much resentment towards the Travelers from the village. But economics are hardly their greatest concern – you’ve a handful of children to save.

Your mother settles the gold-starred cap on your head as you work your old belt around your waist, and you flush, waving her efforts off. “I’ll take the stones with me,” you tell her. “I’ll inform Mistress Futatsuiwa of our excursion, and ask Missus Kamishirasawa if there’s anything we might need to know about that darkness youkai.”

Your mother grunts in acknowledgment as you scoop the sending stones into your belt pouch. “Don’t lag,” she warns you. With nothing left to do here, she turns and walks out of the cottage, and you follow in her wake.

Normally you’d stretch and warm-up to prepare for such a run, but there’s no time. Instead, you reach down into yourself and kindle your body, like a huntsman might rub together sticks to make a fire. Your heart rate spikes, your breaths quicken, and your skin flushes. Blood diverts away from your viscera into your muscles, and the world becomes brighter and sharper as your pupils dilate, just in time to watch your mother kick off into the air like a rocket, streaking hundreds of feet upwards with the staff balanced across her shoulders. Nami peels herself off of your arm and joins her with a furious beating of wings, leaving a mocking trail of sparkles in her wake.

… show-off.

You lift one foot into the air, and then the other, and then the other, and soon enough, you’re following her ascent, literally balancing on the sky itself, gravity struggling to maintain a meaningful hold on your body. Mistress Futatsuiwa taught you spells of flight already – they’re almost essential to present half a challenge to any youkai of power in a spellcard duel – but your mother taught you this method, one less reliant on fragile, transient enchantments. Your body’s weight is hardly an obstruction now, and you climb into the air as easily as scaling a flight of stairs.

Your mother elects to simply float, though, something that you’ll supposedly learn when you’re “more mature” – as if you haven’t already been doing that an absurdly accelerated rate. But for now, the technique she taught you will suffice, and after you start dashing towards the mountain, your mother and Nami fall into formation on either side. She doesn’t need to carry you – in a straight line, you can go as fast as she can, your near-weightless body able to travel far faster than you ever will be able to on land.

It’ll only take you a few minutes to get there, though, so you hastily fiddle with the stones at your waist. You don’t bother counting the words this time, knowing that your message will be short enough as is. Firstly, to Mistress Futatsuiwa, “Acknowledged. Have departed for Youkai Mountain. Good luck. Hong and Recette Meiling.” Secondly, to Missus Kamishirasawa, “Urgent. Need information on a youkai that travels in a ball of darkness. May have to fight it. Hong and Recette Meiling.”

There’s no response by the time Nami peels out of formation towards the forest on the slope of the mountain, though, having you and your mother follow in her wake this time. You slip through the canopy without incident, already beginning to weave your normal spells of subterfuge and nondetection over yourself and your shikigami. You glance at your mother to remind her to be stealthy as well – and she’s already way ahead of you. Or behind you, rather, whispering into your ear, “Keep quiet, now,” and she’s gone, a mere whisper on the wind – and right behind you.

You don’t say anything, but simply nod and begin lightly hopping from tree branch to tree branch, your weight still that of a feather. Nami travels lower to the ground, and she touches your mind the moment she finds one of the bloodstains she’d noted earlier. She then begins racing along the trail once more – supposedly away from the direction that the darkness youkai went. You trust her to not be leading you astray. You can feel the fetid scent of the corruption in the air, and how your body rejects it instinctively, sending goosebumps crawling all over your skin. You don’t even want to touch the ground – you can picture your feet sinking into it as if it’s a marsh, bubbling with viscous black goo, even though you know it’s solid as it always been.

Five minutes later, the bloodstains intensify in frequency along the ground, and Nami no longer even needs to act as your guide. She gladly returns to her customary position on your shoulder, holding her hands to her voice to try and block out the horrible stench in the air – or perhaps even prevent herself from vomiting uncontrollably. The temptation is certainly there, but you soldier on, knowing that they can’t have traveled far if they were bleeding as much as the stains imply. There’s still no response from the schoolteacher; she must be occupied with the crisis at hand. More likely than not she hasn’t even heard your message yet. Perhaps you should have found a more surefire way – but no, you couldn’t have, you have children to save!

… and eight minutes later, the term ‘bloodstain’ becomes inadequate.

Three small forms lay in the middle of a small clearing. Coagulated blood is splattered all over, already drying into a thick black. Horrified, you can only gape at their corpses as Nami swoons off her perch, catching your belt and crawling into one of the pouches to cower. Their faces blankly staring upward in a mixture of shock and lack of comprehension, they’ve been laid out in a rough circle, their heads at the center with their bodies radiating outwards – or what’s left of them. From their shoulders down, their bodies seem to have been alternately hacked and blasted into… chunks is the least offensive word you can think of. The remaining blood and gore has been streaked outwards on the spokes of the “wheel”, extending up and onto three conveniently placed tree trunks.

The branch you’re perched on bends slightly, and your mother’s hand slips over your shoulder, hugging you close. “Dragon,” she whispers in disbelief. “Why are they doing this? What could have possibly…?” She trails off. “I’m going down there to have a closer look,” she says, her voice emotionless.

No. “No,” you hiss, grabbing at her hand. “If you do, you’ll die.” The corruption is impossibly strong around those corpses – you don’t know what’ll happen if your mother, as strong as she is, tries to do anything with them. After a moment’s hesitation, she nods, not understanding, but trusting your word.

Instead, you extend your magical sight downwards, feeling yourself turn a little green your senses are submerged in a fundamentally wrong mix of signals. There’s blood magic at work here, obviously, and –

“Something’s coming back,” your mother whispers, and you all-to-eagerly let yourself focus on her voice instead of the depravity down below.

She’s right, as seconds later another batch of corrupted fairies arrives at the clearing, six of them arranging themselves in a circle around the corpses. It’s possible that they’re the same ones that were taken by the darkness youkai, and they’ve simply respawned as fairies normally do. The prospect of infinitely returning monsters makes your heart sink – how are you supposed to exterminate something like that?

Seconds later, something even worse appears.

It’s hard to say exactly how it comes into being. The corpses and fairies liquefy, yet hang in their old positions for a second in defiance of gravity before slowly coalescing into a single shape, blood and bone mixing with magic and the corruption, pulling every drop of the stuff in the clearing into a single body. Nine bodies meld and combine to form a single black pillar, which soon resolves itself into the shape of a lumpy humanoid taller than the cottage back home. No, it’s not lumpy – those shapes and curves are of armor, of shoulder pauldrons wide enough for you to lay on and not reach the edges and covered in spikes thicker than your arms. From its helmet grow two long, sweeping strands, rising up in surprisingly graceful arcs before curving down to its knees, reminiscent of those long feathers you’ve seen on the heads of generals in history scrolls. It holds nothing in its hands, but with its size and bulk it hardly needs to – its fists are large enough to topple oaks.

And then it starts glowing red, like the fiery depths of the earth. That color slowly resolves over its body, highlighting its armor before swirling into a face so terrifying you have to look away, turning towards your mother – oh no, oh no, no, no, no, Mom, why, why would you –

“The one and only Taisui Xingjun,” she drawls, not a hint of fear in her voice as she floats to the ground, staff again resting on her shoulders behind her neck, her arms lazily draped over the length. The corruption is gone from the surroundings, so she’s safe from incidental exposure – although now that it’s all in that massive figure, you’re not sure she’s going to be better off for long. “I had a vision of this, you know.”

“You are a wise seer indeed,” the god – for that is undoubtedly what it is – says with a voice as deep as the hells themselves. It gives a polite bow without the slightest hint of insincerity, its massive suit of armor clanking loudly enough to send tremors through the branch you’re balancing on. Its aura of proportions which you’ve never even imagined – you can practically feel it pressing against you, crushing you into dust like a hammer would an ant. Not even an ant – a flea, perhaps. “You will be a formidable opponent, then”

“I’m afraid I’m not particularly wise, nor a seer,” your mother replies, her stance measured and aura swelling as she swings the staff off her back into her hands, passing it from one hand to the other. “It just came to me one day, over afternoon tea no less.”

“… then you must be an even more accomplished fighter, if your energies are not dedicated towards divination.” It pauses. “Is that the staff of Sun Wukong himself?”

Your mother gives an affirmative nod without the slightest hint of boastfulness, and it nods in acknowledgment. You realize what kind of talk this is – it’s two warriors sizing each other up, each presenting themselves exactly as they are, attempting to gauge their odds.

It’s impossible. She’ll die. There’s no hope for anyone, even a former celestial armed with a holy weapon, to prevail against a god.

“What brings you here to Gensokyo?” she asks, her voice not betraying the slightest bit of fear. Your presence is most unwelcome.”

“Misfortune calls to misfortune,” it explains with a casual shrug that belies its massive size. “Something contacted me and made me a deal; untold power, and all I have to do is do as I please with it.”

“Something?”

“A tree, although I still find that hard to believe myself.” A sarcastic smile crosses its face.

Your mother can’t help but crack a smile back. “A god, taking orders from a tree? My, how the mighty have fallen.”

“I care not for whatever politics or plans it has,” the god admits. “But it has been far too long. I could not resist such a generous offer.”

“Regardless of that offer, I’m afraid I cannot allow you to stay here,” your mother says firmly, tapping the butt end of the staff into the ground.

“And I am afraid that I will not merely be… staying,” it sighs. “It has been far too long, and my urges far too demanding after centuries of holding back.” It suddenly bares a massive grin. “This land will be swept with tornadoes, its skies choked with the ash of volcanoes. Crops will fail, plagues will fester, and the very earth shall – ”

“Recette,” your mother says, interrupting its monologue. It snarls, and lowers its shoulder, preparing to leap, but you have eyes and ears only for her. Her feet adjust themselves in the leaf litter, the tip of the staff tilts slightly forward, and her eyes narrow ever so slightly, her pupils dilating – then turning to slits, as her aura explodes into the visible spectrum with a rainbow spray of colors.

It’s not going to be enough. She has one word of advice for you, one laced with the only true worry you’ve ever heard from her.

“Run.”

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

CHOOSE YOUR DESTINY

[ ] No! I won’t leave you! Nami, go, go!

[ ] … I’ll be back! Beat him, Mom! You can do it!

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

Disclaimer: either way, there will be Meiling action. I hope that I can do my ancestors justice.

One of these kills her. Choose wisely~

The next update will wrap this point of view up for the moment, and then we shall return to our previously scheduled Sai and Kogasa, right as they enter the village. According to Mamizou, interesting events are afoot…
>> No. 164946
[ ] … I’ll be back! Beat him, Mom! You can do it!

Having to protect Recette is what will kill her. Calling it now.
>> No. 164948
[x] … I’ll be back! Beat him, Mom! You can do it!

I suspect A) help'll be needed and B) she might have to hold back if Recette is around.

I hope I'm right, otherwise...
>> No. 164949
Trust in Meiling. She's proven her self to be capable so far.

[ ] … I’ll be back! Beat him, Mom! You can do it!
>> No. 164952
File 135978877725.jpg - (44.19KB , 500x375 , Arnold-Back-Header.jpg ) [iqdb]
164952
[x] I'll be back.
>> No. 164953
[x] … I’ll be back! Beat him, Mom! You can do it!

You can't kill Meiling. She's the best. Around.
>> No. 164958
[X] … I’ll be back! Beat him, Mom! You can do it!
Here's to hoping Meiling can beat him alone and won't be distracted.
>> No. 164959
[x] … I’ll be back! Beat him, Mom! You can do it!

Dat spoiler...
Oh crap! Where's the quicksave key? I mean, I'd like to call a friend! Or ask the audience! SHIT! The only thing I have left is the 50/50!

But yeah. Let's trust her. I'd rather regret trusting someone than regret not trusting them.
>> No. 164961
[X]Do not pursue Lu Bu.[x] … I’ll be back! Beat him, Mom! You can do it!

Don't want to get in the way of that staff expanding, I think.
>> No. 164966
[ ] … I’ll be back! Beat him, Mom! You can do it!

This seems like a situation where asking Flandre for help may be justified...
>> No. 164969
[X] … I’ll be back! Beat him, Mom! You can do it!

There's nothing much Recette can do, other then give Meiling verbal support. As the other anons have noted, having to protect Recette will distract Meiling during the battle, even if the Taisui Xingjun doesn't intentionally target Recette.
>> No. 164973
[X] … I’ll be back! Beat him, Mom! You can do it!
>> No. 164975
[x] No! I won’t leave you! Nami, go, go!
When we see her again, she'll be a taint wraith.
>> No. 164976
[X] … I’ll be back! Beat him, Mom! You can do it!
-{X) But first, do you know any good buffs? Drop them on mom if they'd be useful. And won't get you gutted.
>> No. 164977
Actually, wait, does Meiling have Hope? Apparently we do, if that was taint we fought off, but if mom doesn't she's doomed.

As such, changing my vote from [X] … I’ll be back! Beat him, Mom! You can do it!
-{X) But first, do you know any good buffs? Drop them on mom if they'd be useful. And won't get you gutted.

To [X] No! I won’t leave you! Nami, go, go!
>> No. 164978
>Hong and Recette Meiling

dafuq are you doing
Keep your given and family names straight?
>> No. 164979
>>164978

goddamn it sentence splicing

I constantly copy and paste bits and pieces of lines and move them around until I like the way sentences read. Sometimes I forget to "smooth" out the syntax, conjugations, and/or connecting articles. More humorously, sometimes I just drop something in a nonsensical place and completely forget about it/miss it during proofing.

Yeah, this happened.

Those of you who make a game of keeping track of my hilarious errors due to lack of non-drunken proofing Rabbit, this is basically El Dorado right here.

I'm Chinese myself, I know how to split up Hong Meiling. Recette isn't supposed to have a family name. That should read Hong Meiling and Recette.

And it appears three times because I copy-pasted the first sending three times, editing words one-for-one so I knew I wouldn't go over the twenty-five limit, because fuck counting words over and over again, I had trouble enough during the first one. Of course, then I realize that I can just cut a lot of words and it's easy-mode, but then I don't even catch the mistake twice again arrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrgh

tl;dr: I shouldn't write at this hour of the night lel
>> No. 164980
[x] No! I won’t leave you! Nami, go, go!

Dammit, Looking back at one of Balistafreak's earlier posts, he notes that Meiling doesn't have Hope. Recette apparently does. The thing is, is Hope needed to fight this big guy? Is he actually tainted, or was just summoned by that power?

Otherwise, I can see Recette staying around, being a distraction, and getting Meiling killed, which is what I think everyone else is worried about.

What about Recette getting out of there, but staying hidden nearby in case Meiling needs Hope-charged support?
>> No. 164981
>>164979
I read that as Hong Recette and Hong Meiling. I found it really charming to be fair. I justified your typo as 'Hong is a first name and I've been mistaken my whole life'

I mean, how were they able to hide the fact that she's adopted for more than 5 seconds if she doesn't share her last name?
>> No. 164983
>>164980

Taint deeply corrupts all that it touches, barring anything infused with Hope. The Taisui Xingjun is not just a god, it/he is a god who is now fundamentally powered by Taint, instead of something like say faith. On a scale of 1 to 10 on the corruption scale, he scores a resounding Yes.

Something living that's "merely" corrupted by Taint, such as Him, can be killed just as normal. However, death does not release the Taint. Tainted living creatures that are killed arise within a few hours as undead; this was the source of His huge undead legions. But creatures that do not have mortal bodies - Yuyuko and her ghost legions, the fairies, and the Taisui Xingjun right here - can be smacked around and brutalized, but the Taint will still empower and motivate them until you find a way to remove it coughHopecough.

To perhaps shed some meta-light on the go/stay dilemma:

The Taisui Xingjun will require Hope to be harmed. Without Recette, Meiling has zero chance of victory, but she may be able to hold out and take care of herself until backup arrives to surprise relieve her. The downside is obviously her possible, ignoble death. If Recette stays, they do have a non-zero chance of victory, however slim it may be; but this time a loss represents the death of both of them (Meiling would not be at all pleased about that) and to be perfectly honest, Recette's ability to protect herself (which is removed from being able to harm the Taisui Xingjun) is much worse than Meiling's.

There was originally a third option to try and convince Meiling to run away with her, but it would fail and just loop back to this given vote, so I cut out the middleman.

>>164981

Recall that Recette puzzled out her adoptedness by herself quite a while ago. It's no longer a secret to her, and as for others - anyone paying the slightest bit of attention would clearly realize that Meiling never got married/had a lover herself nor was ever pregnant, so adoption is basically the only option to explain Recette's existence in the first place.

This being said, Recette still considers Meiling her mother for all intents and purposes. Family isn't bounded by blood.
>> No. 164985
>>164983
*cough* Recette books it to the village for help and runs into a mysterious stranger with an umbrella *cough*

That be the best case scenario.
>> No. 164986
164966 here.

I'd like to alter my vote to
[x] No! I won’t leave you! Nami, go, go!
>> No. 164987
>>164985
Things don't happen that way.

Well statistically, they have to, sometime, but the odds are not in our favor.
>> No. 164988
>>164987
Please. As long as we do not acknowledge something as impossible, we are not aware of its impossibility and therefore, through the power of ignorance and stupidity, will succeed.
>> No. 164989
[X] … I’ll be back! Beat him, Mom! You can do it!
-{X) But first, do you know any good buffs? Drop them on mom if they'd be useful. And won't get you gutted.
I approve of this course of action, also his very presence is crushing us we won't be doing anything if we stay and fight.
>> No. 164991
>>164959
Adding on "[X]Quick parting buffs on mom" to my vote.
>> No. 165011
Hey balista, I was reading back from the archives when I suddenly noticed this from the first thread.

>As you approach the mists, you close one eye in a gesture of focus. It’s a tic that you’d tried so hard during your practice in the demiplane to lose, but ultimately you’d just given up.

More specifically, I hadn't noticed Sai ever doing that since. Does he still have the tic or was it lost along with his body and original mind? Or did I just miss it?
>> No. 165012
File 136020407344.jpg - (402.73KB , 800x1200 , Beckoning Meiling.jpg ) [iqdb]
165012
>>165011

That feeling when you try to introduce a tic to give flavor to a character, and then he turns out to be interesting to the point where such little details just feel extraneous and it's more about huge sweeping character motivations and ideals than stupid physical habits and you just made a huge run-on sentence because you're tired to the point of drunkenness and -

Ahem.

It was the first update. Sai matured as a character, in more ways than one. For example, he's no longer a ANYWAYS

Votes called. Pic related. Writing now. Please wait warmly~
>> No. 165100
File 136074629067.jpg - (132.68KB , 850x1081 , Valentine Ran.jpg ) [iqdb]
165100
Life has gotten kinda busy, but I just spent the evening cranking out a ~3.5K word update. I'm a smart guy, so I save often.

Word crashes, no biggie.

It reloads, and... crashes... again?

Load it a third time, alright, we're back in business.

It offers me the normal autorecovery opti -

THE ONLY OPTION AVAILABLE IS THE "ORIGINAL OPENED COPY" DATED FROM LAST WEEK.

DESPITE REPEATED MANUAL SAVING WORD HAS SOMEHOW REPLACED THAT COPY WITH THE ONE FROM LAST WEEK.

Ugh. I'll have it rewritten by Saturday, but this makes me want to punch gap youkai and hug a kitsune.

>tfw when kitsune
>tfw Valentine's day is tomorrow

So I don't go insane literally doing nothing but rewrite the same shit again from what I remember, what do I write on the side in recognition of this upcoming holiday?

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

CHOOSE YOUR CELEBRATION OF ROMANCE

[ ] Something light and fluffy. Nothing heavy. Just a scene of the "everyday", even if it seems nothing but "everyday" for us.

[ ] Something dark and stormy. Something very heavy. Misunderstandings, turmoil, inner conflict, and but an ultimately bitter?sweet end.

[ ] [i]Something hot and steamy.[/spoiler] Hot and heavy, if you know what I mean. And I'm pretty sure you do.
>> No. 165102
Clearly the mere contemplation of such a piece of writing has already caused you to become temporarily confused.

I look forward to seeing the end product.

[X] Something hot and steamy. Hot and heavy, if you know what I mean. And I'm pretty sure you do.
>> No. 165103
>>165100
[x] Something hot and steamy. Hot and heavy, if you know what I mean. And I'm pretty sure you do.

That's right, I mean consensual sex in the missionary position with the lights off. For the sole purpose of procreation of course.
>> No. 165104
[X] Something light and fluffy. Nothing heavy. Just a scene of the "everyday", even if it seems nothing but "everyday" for us.

Am I the only one who doesn't want /at/ in my /th/ here?
Apparently so...
>> No. 165105
[ ] Something light and fluffy. Nothing heavy. Just a scene of the "everyday", even if it seems nothing but "everyday" for us.

More kitsune please.
>> No. 165107
[x] Something light and fluffy. Nothing heavy. Just a scene of the "everyday", even if it seems nothing but "everyday" for us.

I love fluff.
>> No. 165108
[x] Something light and fluffy. Nothing heavy. Just a scene of the "everyday", even if it seems nothing but "everyday" for us.

Something sweet, please.
>> No. 165111
[x]Something light

You're really good at writing sappy stuff balista.

Hope you and Righty have a good valentines day
>> No. 165116
[ ] Something hot and steamy. Hot and heavy, if you know what I mean. And I'm pretty sure you do.

Pissing into the tide, as usual.
>> No. 165118
[ ] Something hot and steamy. Hot and heavy, if you know what I mean. And I'm pretty sure you do.

Hot springs, yay!
>> No. 165125
[x] Something hot and steamy. Hot and heavy, if you know what I mean. And I'm pretty sure you do.
-[x] add some fluff at the end
>> No. 165128
File 136080423098.jpg - (49.83KB , 354x308 , argh.jpg ) [iqdb]
165128
>check votes
>5-5 tie

what is wrong with you people

Next vote decides.
>> No. 165129
[x] Something hot and steamy. Hot and heavy, if you know what I mean. And I'm pretty sure you do.
And the tie is broken.
>> No. 165130
[x] Something light and fluffy. Nothing heavy. Just a scene of the "everyday", even if it seems nothing but "everyday" for us.

Obviously.

Also, the justifications for late updates are getting more and more ridiculous.
>> No. 165131
Hey look, a 6-6 tie
>> No. 165132
>>165131
>Next vote decides.
>> No. 165133
File 136080609713.jpg - (310.76KB , 720x1007 , Pile of Dolls.jpg ) [iqdb]
165133
>>165130

>complaining about late updates

Mate, I love this story more than you ever will. You didn't see me crush a can like a business card in rage when that shit happened.

Also, things ARE goddamn busy. I'm quitting my biology major at college that at some point became the literal death of me and lining up to join the Air Force.

>mfw 8.5 weeks of no updates during basic

... fuck.

That, and you clearly missed the part where I said "next vote decides". I'm about 63% inclined to say that that vote isn't even here as a personal opinion, it's just to tie things up AGAIN.

>smut vote calls it

Anon, never change.

Prepare yourself for a Valentine's Day with Gand and the dolls.
>> No. 165135
>>165133

Wait, that vote was for Gand and the dolls?

...

YES.

(one of the few times I'm happy my vote actually lost).
>> No. 165137
>lining up to join the Air Force.
Godspeed
>> No. 165138
>smut
>dolls

Uh, well, I have no idea how this will work but I think I'm looking forward to it.

Also, you're joining the airforce? You better not leave us on a cliffhanger for two and a half months. ;_;
>> No. 165150
>>165135
sounds like there'd be some fluff included with the sex.

Was hoping for something Komachi related, but dolls are fine too

>joining the air force
Good luck but prepare for people saying "Chair Force"
>> No. 165290
Buy the boot camp hidden camera video when its offered at the end. You aren't going to realize how hilarious that shit was until a year or two after you leave.
>> No. 165293
>>165290
This. Absolutely this. Shit was hilarious even on the first time watching it on leave with family.
>> No. 165375
File 136239953532.jpg - (614.91KB , 850x1133 , Dragon Meiling.jpg ) [iqdb]
165375
Life is crazy right now, and I ultimately scrapped the rewrite halfway through because I was about to stab out my eyeballs rather than continue grinding out the same stuff I had already done.

Instead, have some Meiling. Update schedule should be picking up to a more normal pace soon.

The Dolls update will be coming Soon(tm). It went in a very strange existential direction halfway through as opposed to a light and happy and steamy piece, and I'm not sure how best to return to it.

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

RESULTS

[X] … I’ll be back! Beat him, Mom! You can do it!

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

Your daughter is a good girl. Okay, she’s a little stubborn at times, but that’s to be expected with such a promising, bright young thing.

And, thank the Dragon, she doesn’t choose to be stubborn now.

“I’ll come back soon!” she cries, even as she leaps backwards and up through the canopy. “You can beat him, Mom! I believe in you!”

Her trust warms your heart, but you know deep inside that there’s only one way this battle can play out.

But damned if you’ll just take it laying down!

As Recette disappears out of sight, though, you hear the flittering of wings, a vast swarm of them. You snarl, realizing that a flock of fairies has ascended into the skies after her. “Call them off!” you shout out at the god who stands before you.

“Make me,” he replies impassively. Without any sudden moves, he rises back into a casual standing position, his face expressionless as it stares down at you from over twice your height.

Bait. He wants you to strike first, to reveal your style and stance so that he can gauge it, analyze it, counter it. Against a foe such as this, such a minor split-second advantage would be all that he needs to end the exchange in a single blow.

An explosion from above sends leaves and twigs raining into the clearing, but it’s not enough to provoke either of you into movement. You can hear bolts whistling sinisterly through the air, punctuated by an occasional larger boom similar to the first, and then the sounds of battle fade away. You smile. Recette can take care of herself.

That means you can stall further.

Carefully, you reach around your neck. The Taisui Xingjun raises an eyebrow, but still does not stir as you draw out a tiny amulet from underneath your vest. It’s a tiny metal affair, shaped from gears and cogs and springs, all somehow ticking in motion around a tiny glass hourglass that always seems to be flowing, the sand in either bulb neither diminishing nor increasing. Sakuya gifted this half of the pair to you when you swore sisterhood many years ago, although contrary to one’s initial impression it has nothing to do with time manipulation.

You crush it mercilessly in your fist, the sharp brass teeth of the mechanisms and broken glass no match for your ki-hardened grasp. A pity about its fate, but you can’t think of any other better use for it at the moment. Somewhere in Makai, the amulet’s mate meets a similarly violent end in Sakuya’s pocket, bonded to its sister’s fate across time and space. She’ll know that something has happened to you now, something bad, and she’ll be here as soon as she can manage it.

If only she were still in Gensokyo! She could have arrived at a moment’s notice. But she’ll have to pass through borders and customs. An hour is the shortest you would expect from her, and that would involve blowing past more than a few checkpoints and ruining the mansion’s long-cultivated relationships with that plane of existence forever.

It may not be enough.

“How… cowardly,” the god growls disdainfully, its intuition enough to tell that you’ve sent some sort of call or signal. “Too afraid to meet me in single combat?”

“We both know what the conclusion of that fight will be,” you state, unashamed.

“Perhaps I should simply create a tornado, then, and sweep your daughter into a maelstrom of winds and flying debris, until the forces literally tear her limb from limb,” he ponders, a cruel grin on his face.

More posturing. “And if you divert your focus from me for the slightest moment, you will be the one who falls,” you leer. You can’t fight any and all challengers for hundreds of years without learning something about the importance of one’s focus on the battle at hand.

He grunts in response. “Fair enough. You are my first real challenger in many, many centuries, after all.” Slowly, he sinks into a low crouch again. He’ll be striking first, then – conceding that small advantage, but it’s hardly as if he needs it. “Do you have any last words, daughter of Heaven?”

You smile, your blood singing in your ears. “Just one.” You stab your rod into the earth, imbedding it a few inches into the dirt, then let go of it, taking a step back.

“Grow!”

The As-You-Will Staff is not just named that for the way it responds to your movements – it has a mind of its own as well. The ground around it cracks and fissures as it doubles in length and width, quadrupling in size to match your own expansion as you let some of your dragon blood boil back to the surface. Scales burst through your skin as talons spring from your fingertips and feet, bursting through your cloth shoes without ceremony. Your pants and shirt sleeves go in much the same fashion as your body swells and a tail whips forth from your hindquarters, acting as both a balance assist and another weapon. Your hat has the fortunate to escape this violent fate as it simply scoots out of the way of a set of horns, and your vest and skirt are both tailored and enchanted to compensate for such an expansion, able to protect your new form just as well as your fully human one.

Snatching your staff back out of the ground, you snarl at the god, the air visibly popping with iridescent energies in sympathy to your channeled rage. The Taisui Xingjun roars in response, a literal black wind sheeting over you that topples several smaller trees behind you with its force, but you remain firm even as you feel your feet sink themselves an inch deeper into the grass.

He chooses to attack at range first, the ground rumbling ominously. Just in time, you leap to one side, avoiding the sudden fountain of lava that gushes forth from the rupture in the earth. Not about to let an exchange go without a response from you, you flick your hand forward, sending a flurry of colored orbs of focused will flying at his unmoving form. He covers his face with one armored gauntlet, and the volley explodes against his magnificent armor without effect.

Well, that would have been too much to ask for anyways.

He takes an implacable step forward through the blasts, but stops short when you close the distance in a single bound. You rain blows upon him, at his temples and neck at first, changing to his elbows and wrists when he hunkers down yet again. A snap of your wrists causes your staff to hit harder than falling stars, each heavy blow against his armor sending shockwaves straight through the plated metal.

But if he feels any pain at all, he hides it with another roar, and this time you can’t help but retreat, unable to bear his mere presence. But he advances further, his fists striking like lightning, seemingly at your vulnerable areas before they even begin to move, in defiance of his apparent bulk. You can block half of them, dodge another third, and preemptively strike against most of the rest with momentum-halting strikes back at him, but then his thumb grazes against your head. Even that tiny contact is enough to send you spinning several times around on the spot, ruining any semblance of a defensive stance you had.

Without any controlled momentum or coordination, you enlist the pull of gravity to give you new direction. A quick tuck of your body has you anchored by three sets of talons to the ground, and it cracks underneath your weight as you kick back, the claws of your foot smashing straight into his face.

It would have sent any other foe flipping end over end into the sky, but it only forces him back a step. In fact, you feel pain shoot up your tibia as the bone groans underneath the strain of the blow. It feels like you’re attempting to topple a mountain over.

You hop back and clap your palm to the side of your head as you backpedal furiously, your feet blindly covering amongst the uneven ground without the slightest misstep. Blood oozes out from your talon-tipped fingers, and you let a small burst of power flow, cauterizing the torn skin. It leaves a more permanent wound behind, but the slightest distraction of blood flowing across your face isn’t something you can afford right now.

In that span of time, he’s regained his own footing. Watching your attempt to treat your wound, he lets out a short booming laugh. The limbs of the surrounding trees quiver before him, but you stand resolute, gripping your staff in two hands anew.

At this point, you’ve only a minor wound to the head and a deadened limb. For the amount of blows you’ve landed in return, you’d normally be quite satisfied with yourself, but your foe seems completely unfazed. For just a second, you feel something in your chest clench and flutter uncontrollably.

That seems to be all the opening that he needs to advance once again. You respond with a sharp series of jabs forward, letting your staff extend for extra reach. Two stabs ring out against his breastplate, but the third he swats aside with an irritated backhand, lunging quickly in an attempt to close the gap. The extreme length of your weapon would normally leave you completely open now, but you’re able to seize the opening. Your weapon shrinks back with hardly a thought, keeping up with him easily as you swiftly pump it between your hands, drumming against the side of his head three times in quick succession as he charges forward.

And then you realize your mistake, as he simply ignores the hits that would have brained any normal foe and launches his fist forward again with all the inevitability of an avalanche.

You leap back, but that only serves to deaden the blow slightly, instead of dodging it. You can actually feel your sternum fracture underneath the hit – it takes a huge amount of focus to keep the pieces together, instead of lethally flying through your chest like so much shrapnel. Your ribs creak underneath the hit as well, but fortunately they stay intact. Thick green branches snap like dry twigs across your back as you fly through them, but you slow yourself to a halt by dragging the butt of your staff through the ground, leaving a huge furrow in the ground to mark your path.

Each of your panting breaths sending jolts of pain through your chest, you realize that you’re approaching this fight like all your others – treating this humanoid opponent like a similarly balanced and technical fighter. You need to treat him like the juggernaut he’s proven himself to be –

The air fills with black mist as he lets out a triumphant roar, thick torrents of it blasting from his mouth until it blots out the light that filters through the canopy overhead. It’s so dark, you can’t even see the red enamel coating your weapon in front of you, and when you try and extend your more instinctual senses through it, you find yourself confounded and befuddled. It’s like it’s… slowing your mind…

You twitch your leg to the side just enough to evade a stomp at your knee, but fail to duck the slap at your head. Rolling with the blow, crushing a sapling as you do so, you swing blindly in an arc, cleaving through two tree trunks before smashing against what you think is his elbow.

He makes an amateur mistake and tries to grab at your weapon as you snap it back in a natural followthrough – you can feel his fingers brush against it. A twist of your hands sends it spiraling up, to the side, and back down, and you grunt in satisfaction as you feel it land home onto the top of his head. This time, you don’t attempt to follow up like you would on a normal foe, and fully turn your body to retreat a large distance, attempting to escape the environment that clearly is to his advantage.

But if there is an end to the mists, you don’t find it before you hear the clink of mail rapidly approaching despite your own rapid steps. You put on another burst of speed, but then find yourself stumbling as you run into a sudden swirl of turbulent winds. Fortunately, those gusts blast the mist clear, creating a funnel that opens up a small amount of light, allowing you to see the god bearing down upon you like a rockslide.

There’s no way to dodge, buffeted by the winds as you are, so you simply raise your staff upwards and across your body to block. You knock aside his foot before it crushes your skull, but your attempt to guide his momentum over you instead of on top of you fails, and you’re forced to let go just to grab hold of his wrists as he reaches for your neck with his hands, putting all your energy into your arms to protect your vulnerable windpipe. Rainbow energies visibly pop around your hands as you struggle to avoid his grasp, but all that concentration means that your legs lay weakly underneath his own as he pins you with the rest of his body.

And he never needed to throttle you in the first place.

He bends his head low and blows into your open mouth, nostrils, eyes, ears, and although you scream right back, instinctively knowing that if you inhale this any longer, you’ll start to break, it forces its way into your lungs and your sinuses and you can’t see anything and oh Dragon you can feel it burning its way through your body and –

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

You wake up screaming.

“Shush, shush,” his deep voice croons, and you curl back into your original position against his chest, sobbing uncontrollably. “It was a nightmare, but you’re awake now, and I’m here.”

Yes. Yes, he’s here now, and that means you have nothing to worry about. For a few minutes, you just take comfort in his presence, the roughness of his mail and oiled metal scent far more relaxing than any bedding. You spread your fingers against his chest, each of your bare fingertips finding an individual ring to slot into.

“Let’s get up now,” he says at length, and you scramble to your bare feet, eager to follow his suggestion. You need to find a new pair of shoes - whatever happened to them? “I will be needing your talents.”

“What for, teacher?” you ask automatically as he rises in turn. You flinch internally, knowing that asking is not your place, but this time he sees fit to humor you, bending down to rub the top of your head affectionately, like one might a small dog. The rings of the mailed gauntlet catch and pull at your hair, but you could care less.

“Every would-be hero on this plane will be seeking my head,” he explains, “and you will be my champion against them.”

“Why would they want to kill you, teacher?” you gasp in shock. You can’t imagine why anyone would want to hurt him.

“Because if they don’t, their world will be destroyed,” he says simply.

Something curdles in your mind. “But, isn’t that a bad thing? Then who would come to fight us?” you ask.

“It will be a long time before that happens,” he assures you. “You will have dispatched every champion of note here much before then. And the end of their world is not the end of our journey.” Turning away, he points high into the sky through a gap in the canopy. “We shall travel to another world, and do this again, and then another after that, and another. It is the least I can do for my favorite disciple.” He turns back to you with a smile, and you tremble, unable to believe how generous he is. “Do you have any problems with that?”

Why would you ever turn down a chance to fight the best in the world? “Of course not!” you cry. “How early can you start?”

“I already have,” he replies with a sly grin.

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

ooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooh nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

Hey, I didn't kill her.

Sai and Kogasa’s excursion to the village is coming up next. Please wait warmly~
>> No. 165376
yea, w/e
>> No. 165378
Welp. Taint-corrupted, then? I just hope Sai can do something to help her.
>> No. 165382
destruction is a boring portfolio
>> No. 165387
Ah...... shit
>> No. 165390
Weeeell, if she's not DEAD then that was the good choice. I guess. Maybe. Hopefully. Please?
>> No. 165539
>>165390
Don't worry, this can be fixed. You just need to have hope.
>> No. 165604
File 136301820528.jpg - (625.78KB , 1600x792 , Booming City.jpg ) [iqdb]
165604
“Can you hurry up?” Kogasa whines. Mentally, of course. Both of you are travelling completely covertly right now, hovering over the tiled rooftops. You aren’t visible nor audible to anyone but each other, and Kogasa’s natural stealth and your own aura-dampening talents, not a single person has noticed you. “I want to see the creche again. They’ll have grown up by now!”

“You should be paying more attention to the rest of the village,” you chide her. “A lot of this doesn’t match up with what you described.” You point at one of the cubical magelamps planted on an enclosure wall – it’s one of hundreds scattered around lampposts, the sides of buildings, and more than a few rooftops. Kogasa’s memories described the pleasures of surprising people in the shadowy lights of oil-burning torches in great detail, but these lights cast far more light than any flame.

The karakasa only rolls her eyes in response. “Okay, so what? They lit their roads a little better. I won’t be jumping out at anyone from a cart at night anymore. What’s the big deal?”

“Well, just the lamps wouldn’t be a huge deal. Magelamps were a common thing even in smaller villages – but additionally, many of these buildings are either new, or refurbished. Half of these second levels – or even third – aren’t older than a year. Even look at the street itself!”

“Yeah, cobbles. A bunch of Travelers walked through the dirt roads one day and said they’d eventually use magic to make a proper road, and now it’s happened. I still don’t see your point,” she pouts.

You shake your head. It seems that your own comprehension of magic doesn’t so easily transfer over to her – yet another test of the connection between you two. “It wasn’t just made with magic, it also contains magic now. Huge, sweeping charms of ease of travel, swiftness of foot and wheel. We wouldn’t notice it, but a living, breathing person…”

“What’s the difference?”

“A healthy man could jog along one of these streets all day and by nightfall only be as tired as if he’d walked a few miles.” Kogasa’s eyes widen at that. “To say nothing of trotting horses – and it seems there’s even a bit of integration with wheeled vehicles as well. Ah, look!”

You point towards a cart that seems to be moving without any apparent motive force. On it ride a young couple: a man in an exotically patterned leather longcoat who holds a small rod with a focused expression on his face, and woman in a fine silk robe who you presume is his wife through the comfortable way they hold hands, matching rings gleaming on their fingers. The woman’s furred ears and tail give you a moment of pause – a tengu, then, and from the wolf tribe. A closer look at the man’s face, hair, and build shows that he’s obviously a village native as opposed to a Traveler despite his choice of garb – most of the natives are wearing homespun robes or tunics.

“So they finally got hitched,” Kogasa says happily, but she frowns a bit soon after. Everyone gives the cart a wide berth for safety, but few greet its riders in a friendly fashion. Most choose to ignore them pointedly, no small feat given the way they have to acknowledge its presence or be run over, and some even give them glares filled with loathing or disgust. The most they get is a polite nod, seemingly from Travelers more often than natives, and even those seem furtive at best.

“Did they do something unpleasant?” you ask.

“They got married,” Kogasa says lightly. “Although that’s one of your customs there that I’m making that assumption from.”

You think back to cross-race relations on your own home plane. While romantic relationships happened on occasion, the bloodlines would not mix to produce viable offspring. Most got around this problem through adoption, but even then the differing lifespans often caused tension at best, and tragedy at worst.

“Age isn’t the problem,” Kogasa says, shaking her head as you both float down into the empty back of the wagon. Perhaps they’re returning from delivering something, or perhaps they’re going to pick something up, or perhaps they’re just using the wagon purely for the ease and speed of transport – it’s going at what would be a healthy trot for a horse. “The fact that they can’t have children is the bigger problem.

“Is that a cultural expectation?” Kogasa turns a confused eye towards you, the blue one of her mismatched pair. “I mean, does everyone in the village expect them to?”

“Not the villagers, exactly, but…” She hesitates. “Tengu tribes are very tightly knit. While outright arranged marriage isn’t the norm, most females are expected to marry out of a very select pool of suitors that are approved by both their parents and the elders.”

“How common is marriage outside that pool?”

“I haven’t the faintest idea, but I can’t imagine it’s the norm,” Kogasa says with a shrug.

“… how common is marriage with a human?”

“Well, there is one couple… but they just live together,” she clarifies. “And the circumstances are a bit extraordinary for all of them.”

“You know something about them, then.” You float forward in the wagon, just barely above and beside the couple in the front, noting their slightly uncomfortable expressions, the way their fingers intertwine to support each other.

Ran – You check that line of thought before it gets any further, and Kogasa moves up as well until the two of you are flanking the pair.

“Everyone knows each other at least a little bit around here,” she says vaguely. “But personally, though, no, not really. Just hearsay and gossip, mostly. Apparently there was a huge uproar about it amongst the tengu tribes, but the end result was…” She struggles to find a term, and instead offers the idea towards you directly.

“… honorable discharge?” you vocalize for her, one eyebrow raised. “They refused to acknowledge that their laws could be broken, but they allowed her to part with the main tribe on good terms... a sort of tacit permission?”

“Yes, that’s it. But I know that man,” she says, jabbing her finger downwards, “and he’s just a small-time shopkeeper. Not at all special, and yet they’ve even further.” She makes a face. “The elders must have been displeased at that. They might have, er, discharged her. Dishonorably. And I have to wonder what his own friends think of the situation. Even if they support freedom of love, they have to think something of the tengu’s ire.”

You shake your head in resignation. “How would they have even met?”

Kogasa smiles nostalgically. “When the Travelers first came, things were really, really crazy for a while. A lot of people who would have normally never even seen each other mixed, between temporary boardings and cooperative projects. Tengu and human are bonding more often than ever… and closer, too, it seems, but I can’t imagine smoothly,” she says with a sad look down at the couple below.

Just then, your magesight flashes as some form of magical energy explodes in the air, a dull concussion rippling through the air.

Everyone in the street, including the couple in the wagon, flinches visibly, and many jerk their hands instinctively towards their ears as if to protect their hearing from a further shock. Shutters are being thrown open on the upper floors of houses and shops as people eagerly thrust their heads out the window – interestingly, you note their expressions are mostly those of excitement, as if hoping for something novel or spectacular. A normal person would be slamming their windows shut, but some are even taking to the air to get a better view, both Travelers in their foreign garb and more than a few villagers in their homespun, all with varying degrees of expertise. Is this what living with the spellcard system of dueling is like?

You soar upwards along with the rest, tailing a pair of villagers that tumbled out of a tavern together. As you ascend, you keep an ear out for their conversation.

“That was a loud explosion!” one of them chatters excitedly. “You think it was one of those fireballs?” The way he emphasizes the word, you know he’s talking about the arcane one – the effects of a potion of fly are clear on him. He’s younger, with only a few wisps of a moustache on his face.

“The hell should I know? Besides, what makes you so sure the Travelers are involved?” says the other, a skeptical look on his face. He comfortably floats in the air on his own power, bald and with a thick beard.

“Well, if you’ve been paying any attention at all, you’d know that they’ve been at the throats of the tengu for a week now. Border disputes and all that.”

“No one even lives in that land anyways, does it even matter?” the older man complains. “Ah, crap, here comes the no-fun patrol – “

A woman in a white robe covered with tassels of varying colors zips at them and stops on a dime in front of them, clapping a hand to her tall ceremonial hat to keep it from falling off. “By city decree, the sky is now a no-fly zone!” she declares, her tone formal yet a bit pompous. “Please return to the ground until the current dispute is settled!”

“Buzz off, Futo!” the younger one drawls, waving an arm dismissively. “We’ve never listened before, why should we – “

A second explosion cuts him off as all three of them wince again, and this time you catch sight of the “current dispute”. A wolf tengu tumbles into the air, smoke trailing from his feathered wings and robe as he struggles to right himself. In his hands is a long lance, but it’s scant protection from the incoming bead of an explosive fireball, and from his dazed stance you can tell that he’s not going to be able to dodge out of the way in time –

Another tengu, this one a crow, suddenly takes to the air in turn, outracing the spell in a stunning display of aerial maneuverability. He carries a large circular shield emblazoned with a maple leaf, and just barely slips between his comrade and the spell in time to deflect the attack away with a wave of that shield. A powerful gust of wind somehow turns the massless spell aside, and causes it to explode harmlessly – for varying definitions of harmless, as the edge of the blast casts up broken ceiling tiles from the buildings below flying through the air like so much shrapnel.

“This is for your own good! This combat is out of control! Neither party is respecting the spellcard system!” Futo barks. The two men glance at each other as if to agree to back down this time, and then they descend hastily without a word. A look of relief crosses over Futo’s face for a moment, but then she puts on her previous business-like grim demeanor and practically disappears as she dashes to the next aerial spectator.

“The tengu and the Travelers aren’t fighting underneath the spellcard system?” Kogasa squeaks in alarm. Then –

They’re actually trying to kill each other.

A woman in fullplate and carrying a massive sledgehammer rumbles into the air, followed by a mage in a dress shirt and trousers. An ice lance streaks towards the crow tengu from the latter’s fingers, but the wolf has bought enough time for him to recover, and he dodges it with a charge back towards the mage. The woman cuts him off, though, and soon the two are exchanging blows, the crow swiftly forcing the armored woman back to earth in a hasty retreat with his superior agility and reach. The wolf himself is similarly sent packing by a follow-up hail of stone, the impacts of the falling rocks on his shield sending him spiraling back down to earth – the mage follows him back down, perhaps to stay in range, perhaps to get farther away from the ongoing melee in the air. Probably the latter, as a second pair of combatants flies up, the four swords between them clashing in dizzying patterns of steel. Interestingly, one of them seems to be a Gensokyo native, yet he matches his tengu opponent blow for blow.

It seems that this Futo magistrate or official or courtier or whoever she is isn’t the only one attempting to establish order. On the other side of the village, across the brewing duel in the center of the skies above it, you can see a woman in a hooded robe ride in on a huge cloud tinted pink as if by a sunset – it forms into a huge hand and half ushers, half swats a few teens back down to earth. There’s a spirit in a green dress, the wispy mists of her malformed feet trailing far behind her as she hurries from person to person, and a flustered schoolteacher attempting to simultaneously get half her class to leave the skies while keeping the other half from joining their peers.

As you watch a freshly-conjured cloudkill get blown around in the sky, both sides attempting to use it to their advantage, you realize that no one has any care for who gets caught in the crossfire. That deadly green cloud of gas will only debilitate those with truly remarkable strength, but it’ll kill the average man who gets one good lungful of the stuff. And that’s just that one spell – currents of wind as sharp as blades are being tossed in all directions, arcane evocation is exploding with no thought towards collateral damage, and the blades and hammers they’re swinging at each other are very sharp, heavy, and unchecked. Perhaps a dozen Travelers have risen to fight as many tengu with half again as many villagers joining either side, and even more are watching from the ground, their faces grim and their hands at their weapons, just waiting to see if their allies need aid.

That’s not to say all of them are looking to join the fight. Many more are simply watching in horror, and some are actively shouting at the combatants to cease, holding back those that would otherwise eagerly leap into the fray. There are plenty who would prefer not to fight, but it seems that the actions of a few dozen hotheads are dragging in those who would perhaps be less bloodthirsty, and only a few have the willpower to not go in to watch their friends’ backs.

“Someone has to stop this,” the karakasa whispers, appalled.

“Someone’s planning to do something drastic,” you suddenly point out, your finger aimed at a tall building near the center of the village. A dark shadow is growing outward from the roof; it’s small enough at this point to go unnoticed in the chaos but soon people will have to notice it. At this distance you’d need true seeing to pierce it, but you can tell it contains a magician hastily layering spell after spell of some kind – not anything that you can recognize – over a being of great innate, internal, native power unlike any Traveler mage or tengu currently dueling in the sky. You wonder what they’re planning to do, but whatever it is it’s going to be huge.

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

CHOOSE YOUR METHOD OF CRISIS MANAGEMENT

TAKE THE INITIATIVE?

You can’t rely on… whatever’s going on in those shadows to end the battle with casualties. You’ll count on Yukari’s call to arms to have removed all of her major eyes and ears from the village. You’re going to make some waves here, but you have no other choice. Hopefully in the chaos of battle no one will be able to identify you, and you’ll be just a rumor or curious discrepancy in the aftermath.

[ ] Disguise yourself... You’ll wade into the battle disguising yourself as whatever side is against that of the side you’re attacking – your attacks can swiftly overwhelm whoever you snipe at, and between your own control and the spellcard system you’re sure you can end the battle extremely quickly, before any further harm is done.

[ ] Bombard them from the shadows. You can rain all kinds of unpleasantness without ever revealing yourself personally to either side, although the effects of your interference will be painfully obvious. They’ll all be laid out and aching on the ground before they figure out what hit them.

Note: you won’t be picking sides here, not without a deeper understanding of the politics of the situation.

OR WAIT IT OUT?

There’s no telling what kinds of unpleasantness will happen to you if one of Yukari’s spies catches wind of you. Even knowing that someone powerful intervened might be enough to start a dedicated manhunt for you, and you don’t want to try your luck evading one of those, even with your skills at stealth. Besides, you don’t want to be caught in whatever that shadow is building up to – your cover might be completely blown otherwise.

[ ] Break up skirmishes with attacks of opportunity. Between combatants at this level, your senses can detect fatal or maiming attacks incoming long before they happen. You’ll be able to shield or interrupt such attacks as needed with a bare minimum of interference.

[ ] Just concentrate on getting the rest of the noncombatants to safety. All you can do is protect those who would otherwise be victim to collateral damage and dissuade those considering to join. Those already in fights will have to keep themselves alive.
>> No. 165605
[x] Bombard them from the shadows
This is the fastest option and we need to end this stupid fight before it continues.

Also, good thing that he didn't side with his people, specially considering that they're willing to kill anyone in their way (just like their opponents I guess)
>> No. 165606
[x] Bombard them from the shadows

Covertly knock the fighters out of the sky without seriously harming them. Seems like the best option.
>> No. 165607
[x] Bombard them from the shadows

Agree with >>165605
We also have the whole legend of the "Unseen Benefactor" behind us; building our identity out of that would not be a bad route towards making our face public, as we surely must in the future.
>> No. 165609
[x] Break up skirmishes with attacks of opportunity.

If you do your job well, nobody will know you've done anything at all. Which is really what you want. Don't want certain individuals to go all manhunty and suchlike.

2
>> No. 165610
[x] Bombard them from the shadows
>> No. 165611
[x] Bombard them from the shadows

I don't like the idea of dragging this out. The collateral damage potential has already gone too high. End it quickly, but in an as non-flashy way as possible.

Sai specializes in illusions. With a bit of trickery and stealth (and it's not as if he's currently lacking that, what with now being half umbrella and all) it should look as if the fighters knocked each other out to the point where local authorities could clean up the rest.

Only someone looking specifically for him would have a chance of catching sight of him, and even then he can easily disguise himself as whatever he wants. Not to mention there's quite a lot of magical "contamination" in the air to hide him from someone trying to detect magic. (Cloudkill generates a Moderate Aura. And so did the Explosive Fireball. Some other spells that are probably out there too are Blur, Invisibility, Mirror Image and Displacement. All of which are staple Illusion spells that most spellcasters would use, so it's not as if someone would be able to pinpoint him as the only one using illusions.)

Also, what noob used Cloudkill against Tengu? The Cloudkill fog is specifically mentioned in it's description to be heavier than air (so it's useless against a flying opponent) and all fog spells are dispersed in, at most, a few rounds as long as there is wind. And who in Gensokyo are known for controlling winds?
F-
Send that fighter to see the teacher after the battle.
>> No. 165614
>>165611
I guess it shows, with the cloudkill being dragged by one side to the other like a deadly game of air hockey.


Going back to the story now.
First: I liked that the 'token redshirt death to show this is serious' turned out to be a major plot point... was that really intended?
Second: I'm really liking the 'modern magical human village' Good job on that one, so far.
Third: updates where.
>> No. 165624
[x] Bombard them from the shadows.

Maybe it will knock some sense into them and they won't endanger innocents when the next fight inevitably breaks out.
>> No. 165626
[X] Just concentrate on getting the rest of the noncombatants to safety. All you can do is protect those who would otherwise be victim to collateral damage and dissuade those considering to join. Those already in fights will have to keep themselves alive.

Pissing into the tide once more.
>> No. 165627
[ ] Bombard them from the shadows.
>> No. 165629
[x] Bombard them from the shadows.

I wanted to choose to wait, but I honestly can't resist an arcane barrage of any kind... wrong reasons I know.
>> No. 165631
[x] Bombard them from the shadows
Agree with ending this quickly, though I'm willing to bet Fake Money that the mystery mage is Alice and she's buffing up our old Golem Buddy (who's name I completely forgot) and they'd handle things if we took a more cautious route.
>> No. 165632
>>165631
Alice and Markus were last seen being gapped into Mayohiga, I believe.

[x] Break up skirmishes with attacks of opportunity. Between combatants at this level, your senses can detect fatal or maiming attacks incoming long before they happen. You’ll be able to shield or interrupt such attacks as needed with a bare minimum of interference.

Let's not be making waves. Yet. We still have an important someone to save, and that won't happen if we spend another two or three years wandering the Border while Taint eats Gensokyo.
>> No. 165633
[ ] Bombard them from the shadows. You can rain all kinds of unpleasantness without ever revealing yourself personally to either side, although the effects of your interference will be painfully obvious. They’ll all be laid out and aching on the ground before they figure out what hit them.


I'm voting this because it'll disrupt the fighting, allowing the others to establish peace.
>> No. 165634
>>165605

Calling the Travelers "his" people is a bit of a stretch, in my personal opinion. Sure, he rescued them, but his relationship to them isn't that close.

>>165606

For varying definitions of "covert". Someone is going to notice combatants dropping out of the sky like flies.

>>165611

Just confirming that you won't be unleashing any flashy pyrotechnics, but people are going to wonder how the combat came to such a sudden conclusion one way or the other.

After all, in the battle against Him, people still noticed Sai's meddling hand in matters, and now the survivors from that battle and a new batch of talented mages are here to bear witness.

>>165614

If you're refering to Meiling as a "token redshirt death", you and I are gonna have some words, kid.

Meiling is slated to have a significant role in this story, one way or another.

>updates where

it took you less than three hours to say this jesus what

Votes will be called sometime tomorrow night, because hell, I gotta look busy this spring break, might as well write my ass off.
>> No. 165635
>>165634
If she didn't I'd have to call shenanigans. It's his daughter's MOM, blood or otherwise. Of course she'll matter.
>> No. 165636
>>165634
Yeah, people might wonder how it ended so fast but there won't be anything pointing directly to Sai.
We might be making a few small waves, but it's better than letting them continue endangering villagers like this.
>> No. 165638
>>165634
I meant Kogasa's death.

Meiling's wasn't token nor meaningless, it was awesome and emotional and now we WILL have a classic 'Alter Saber' scene with her, something that never gets old.
>> No. 165641
[x] Break up skirmishes with attacks of opportunity

I say we shouldn't tip our hand so soon. There's no reason to risk any learning our existence, Yukari or otherwise. This way the trouble makers will can be taken care of without any victims.
>> No. 165643
File 136314083419.jpg - (42.79KB , 440x295 , incoming bullets.jpg ) [iqdb]
165643
>>165638

>Kogasa's death
>token sacrifice

not even for a second

>bring the knife down
>Meiling

it's like you want her to die or something

Votes called. Pic related. Writing now. Please wait warmly~
>> No. 165866
File 136396040732.jpg - (702.60KB , 850x700 , Blurry Nue.jpg ) [iqdb]
165866
RESULTS

[X] Bombard them from the shadows. You can rain all kinds of unpleasantness without ever revealing yourself personally to either side, although the effects of your interference will be painfully obvious. They’ll all be laid out and aching on the ground before they figure out what hit them.

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

“This ends now,” you hiss.

Kogasa blinks in surprise. “Whatever happened to remaining hidden?”

“Simply standing by and doing nothing would make me an accomplice to this catastrophe. I have to do something.”

“Couldn’t we just wait for the – “ Kogasa bites her lip, her question cut short by her own realization. The Hakurei maiden, who would normally swing by and end this herself, is in Mayohiga.

“And I don’t feel like waiting to see what those people up there want to try,” you say firmly. You start drifting upwards towards the fight, scanning it with your senses even as you juke an errant vortex of wind.

A scream of triumph sounds out as one of the combats above comes to its finale. The lance of tengu you first saw is cleaved in twain as he underestimates the force of a mountain hammer that smashes through his guard, The sound draws the eye, and yet no one is in a position to assist –

Except you. An invisible orb of force zooms through the sky on the figurative wings of a true strike, darting around and between the various skirmishes to reach its mark – over the Traveler woman’s head. With an audible pop it sends her reeling, her eyes rolled up into the back of her head as her fly spell desperately tries to guide her limp limbs back to earth at a safe speed.

Unable to believe his luck, the tengu drops the butt half of his now-bifurcated weapon and zooms down after her lazily drifting form, seeking to coup-de-grace her. You seize him with a telekinesis, and suddenly he finds himself descending far too quickly. He impacts his original target not with his weapon but with his body, knocking the wind out of both of them with two huge whuffs, and then they meet the ground in a tangled heap of limbs, both out of sight and down for the count.

Next target, then.

A longhaired Traveler mage has found himself hemmed in by two tengu sages – with gestures and exclamations they turn his cloudkill on him with torrents of wind. It doesn’t make it to its destination around his sweated brow, however, because it has to fly through a dispelling screen first. Both sides blink in surprise as the sickly green cloud disappears into literal thin air, but their surprise is temporary as soon enough two blades of wind cross a lightning bolt in midair. You let the attacks hit home, judging them to be insufficiently lethal, but you add in an afterimage of a second lightning bolt with a greater image even as you bend another shot through the chaos of the battle at the second tengu sage.

All three of them find themselves spun around by attacks of varying sorts even as you drop a wall of force in front of an outmatched swordsman fleeing from his opponent. He hits it headfirst with a clunk just as you hammer the trio of casters with a sprinkling of invisible magic missiles, sending them spiraling towards the ground unconscious.

You prepare yourself to intercept the earlier swordsman’s opponent from executing his target, but you don’t have to. Comically, he appears to try and fling his limbs and wings wide in an attempt to brake in midair, but the way his body suddenly shakes gives it away – he failed to change course soon enough to avoid meeting the same fate as his target.

But from a distance, it just appears that combatants are starting to fall – figuratively and literally. You create an illusion of the earlier downed Traveler mage as if he had just popped out of an invisibility, and have him look around confusedly. It baits in a village native, but when he tries to slam a cudgel into your illusion’s face, he spins through the air instead as his weapon passes through nothing. You speed his rotation with a gust of wind, and he flies into the side of a building and promptly flounders back to ground level, looking like an absolute klutz.

As he falls, another man begins tracking his descent with a rifle, its sides glowing with etched runes. A hasty dispel magic later, the etchings pop with the sound of breaking glass, the bolt cycling open without effect. When he turns it to the side to gape at it stupidly, you knock him out cold, projecting the image of an explosion around his weapon even as you shatter the weapon with a second shot, making it appear as if the thing misfired. Too late you realize you’re not even sure if those things can misfire – you never studied artifice that closely.

… yet for all your efforts, it seems that all you’re doing is encouraging the onlookers. For each combatant you neutralize, another rises to take his place. Already perhaps a dozen more would-be combatants have decided to join in, all rising towards the fight at various speeds and paces.

In that case, you’ll have to force your point.

You throw up an illusion of a huge tornado, although you fudge it a bit by having the tail mysteriously disappear into thin air instead of grounding itself properly. Inside of it, you add in hundreds of other individual figments and auras – lightning bolts, fireballs, and a dozen other different kinds of evocation. Steel clashes upon steel, gunfire ripples like strings of firecrackers, and

One enlarged wings of flurry finishes the job, the projections of force reaching out and curving to the side until you practically form a cylinder around yourself, dividing the space around you into so many compartments. The wide flat surfaces of the wings flex, tossing the fighters in the air back and forth like dice within a gambler’s cup, smashing them with the wide, flat surfaces of the produced blades. If you were feeling less charitable, you could have cut them all to ribbons with an outward spiral, hitting them with the edges instead – but that would be defeating the purpose of your efforts here.

Your projection of a tornado comes to an apparent natural end as it seemingly blows itself out, and then dozens of limp bodies float down to earth, some borne by their own flight spells, others by instinctively spread wings, and a few others by your own telekinesis. Even amateurs without the ability to subconsciously maintain their own flight were leaping into the fray, it seems.

You can feel, rather than hear, the gasps of surprise that ripple through the throngs of spectators down on the ground. Yes, surprise – Kogasa beside you takes in a sharp breath as well, not of shock but of pleasure and fulfillment, like the aftermath of a good, filling meal. “That was impressive,” she sighs, one hand clutching at the front of her vest.

“I sincerely hope it was enough,” you growl.

Just then, the growing shadow on top of the roof, the one being enchanted by some magician you noticed earlier, makes its move.

PEOPLE OF GENSOKYO

Its voice is loud, deep, and booming, enough to cause leaves on trees far below to tremble and shake. You raise one eyebrow in confusion as you watch the patch of writhing darkness suddenly swell to hundreds of times its original size, making a huge void in the air above the village.

IT IS I

The voice is also leaving these huge deliberate pauses for theatric effect. In any other setting it’d be downright annoying. “Who?” you mutter.

“Oh, she wouldn’t,” Kogasa groans in disbelief.

“She?” You raise an eyebrow at her. “You know this person?”

The karakasa nods, but waves off any further interrogation.

THE SHADOW

More gasps throughout the crowd, and then murmurs of disbelief. You can’t help but join in the latter. “She what,” you say flatly.

“Apparently you’re a celebrity here,” Kogasa drawls sarcastically.

“Perhaps, but then who is she?”

THIS IS A TRAVESTY

“At least we can agree on something,” you grumble.

This show is well-timed. Coming right on the heels of your attack, the words have extra impact. Already you can see groups of people moving to the fallen where they’ve landed on the cobbles of the streets, in the boughs of trees, sprawled on top of tiled roofs and in one case draped over a windowsill – you’re not quite sure how that one happened.

Friends, families, comrades – and more, it seems, from the distrustful way some of the people circle each other – are gathering around the fallen. But it seems any wariness they have is overcome, and soon the victims of your attack are being hauled off to safer positions, whether by hand or by magic. There’s a faint undercurrent of surprise that no one is even close to fatally injured, but most seem to be taking it in stride.

LAY DOWN YOUR ARMS

Now that’s the kind of message you wanted to hear. Everywhere you can see would-be warriors grudgingly begin the lengthy actions of putting away their weapons, shouldering spears, sheathing blades, unloading rifles and pocketing wands – aided in no small part by dirty glances, elbow jabs, and sharp words from other, more peaceable people. The sane ones, not those who would take the gift of life and throw it so casually aside –

TELL ME, WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU ARE ACCOMPLISHIHHHHHHHHHHHKKKKaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa–

Now you’re the one who’s surprised. Before you can even blink, a lance of white light shoots up from somewhere down below – you miss from where exactly it originates, which says a lot about the speed of the attack – and stabs through the dark mass, appearing out the other side. The darkness boils, then shrinks rapidly, melting until nothing is left but a surprisingly young-looking woman dressed in a black dress. Six things, three on each side, protrude from her back – you hesitate to call them wings or tentacles exactly, you’re really not sure – red on one side, blue on the other.

But that’s not what draws your eye. Underneath the hands clasped to her chest, you can spot a little bit of blue sky – she’s been pierced clean through. Her voice warbles, going from deep and commanding to a wounded moan, and then she begins sinking, unable or unwilling to maintain her altitude. But even that controlled descent soon turns to an uncontrolled plunge, her limbs going completely limp.

“Nue!” Kogasa cries in horror – fortunately no one can hear her but you. She bolts towards the woman’s falling body, and whether by necessity or reflex, you follow her, even as you prepare a telekinesis to catch her.

But you don’t need it. Mere meters from a rooftop the darkness around her reforms and then splits off into half a dozen different blobs going in all different directions. You’ve already made it to where she would have fallen, though, and at this distance your blindsense can trace her physical body in its own blob.

So can her attacker as well, it seems, for a second shot comes from a window in a taller building. Perhaps if the attack was aimed at you, your defenses could have anticipated it in time, but as it stands you can only stand there helplessly as the beam slices through the red side of her back appendages. She screams this time, a sound that pierces through your reason, and for just the slightest moment you begin to see red. You thought you would have better control. Is this Kogasa’s emotions influencing you? Or is this your own personal rage at your impotence, your incapability to –

If you had just ended this all properly. Was it a mistake to let them live? You never would have thought bringing them to Gensokyo would have caused this strife and unrest, this suffering. This is all your fault

– all His fault –

Nue bounces off a rooftop and rolls down its incline, hitting the cobbles of the road underneath barely slow enough to not injure herself any more severely than she already is.

You float down to ground level as well, seizing Kogasa’s wrist and yanking her back when she tries to run to Nue’s side. For a moment she struggles against your grip, and but when reason grasps her anew it proves to be a far more effective deterrent.

The girl struggles to her feet and reforms her shroud of darkness anew – the action seems laborious and sluggish, and the cloud much smaller than before. But her assailants aren’t done – a man in a black gi furiously sprints towards her, his expression grim. As he approaches, Nue’s cloud of darkness is wiped away like chalk from a slate, and you can’t help but dodge backwards unconsciously.

… an antimagic field, then, if the way it suppressed the enchantments within the road underneath him didn’t already give it away.

Nue weakly raises an arm in defense, shooting several arrow-shaped bolts of danmaku at her attacker – and it is danmaku, not meant to injure, just stun. But each shoot simply winks out of existence a short distance away from him, and by the time she bends her knees slightly, as if to jump up or out of the way, he’s on her, his hands slashing furiously in a series of blows. To her credit, she blocks the first series with tucked elbows and knees, keeping up with his pace at first, but soon her doubly-wounded state takes its toll as she takes a hit, and another, and another, and then the man seizes her into a throwing hold, pinning her bodily to the stones with a crash.

Bystanders begin to fill the two ends of the street, although they keep a very healthy distance from the fight, awed by the single-minded brutality with which the man keeps her held despite her thrashing. You purse your lips indistaste – even with your stealth, you don’t like that you’re so close to a scene like this. Not that you like that this scene is happening in the first place, either.

“Houjuu Nue!” a woman’s voice barks out sharply. Its owner breaks through the crowd flanked by two guards – definitely guards, by the way each of them keeps their eyes wary and looking around, while she strides imperiously towards the restrained woman without a care. You note how she stops just short of the antimagic field, and how her robes glow with various abjurations. When you consider those with her relatively rounded features, you can easily deduce she’s a Traveler mage – although you note with interest that Nue’s grappler and one of the guards are obvious Gensokyo natives. “Just what do you think you’re doing, taking on the name of one of our patrons?”

Nue spits something black and viscous from her mouth onto the cobbles – it evaporates in a puff of black mist, but not before it burns away half a cobblestone with it. You wonder what her exact biology is. “Mizz Byakuren suggested it. Thought it would get the lot of you to sit the fuck down,” she spits.

“If you thought you could get away with such a pale imitation, you’re stupider than I thought,” the mage snaps.

“Pale imitation?” Nue snorts. “Please! I’ve sat and listened to you lot bicker in the taverns. You can’t agree on what he is yourself!”

“He isn’t so blatantly obvious, for one,” the mage huffs. “And he would hardly make such a sudden return.” Oh, if only they knew. “Who was the illusionist?” she suddenly asks. “I wasn’t aware you had anyone with that sort of skill in the temple. Did Byakuren suddenly take a few pointers from me while I wasn’t paying attention?”

Well, shit, at least one person noticed, then.

“Like I’d tell you, bitch,” Nue chokes out with a laugh. “Now, you better let go of me! The rest of the gang will be comin’ any moment now!”

“I’ve met Byakuren,” the mage retorts. “She’s a good mage, but she’s no expert. I could take her.”

Another bark of pained laughter. “She’s not the scary one. Shou’s goin’ to eat you guys alive, and I don’t mean that – figuratively!” she suddenly shouts out, her voice rising in pain as her grappler applies pressure to the stumps of her red tendrils.

“Keep doing that, Akira,” the mage says dismissively. As Nue begins making various noises of pain, the mage smiles viciously, that smile of someone who knows that things are falling into place. “Well then, it’s a good thing I baited your champion on a fool’s errand miles away then before we ever came here, isn’t it?” she says lightly. “I thought we might come to blows, so I made sure to get rid of her first.”

“You bitch,” Nue curses again through gritted teeth.

“Eric, could you cut off the blue ones?” she says sweetly. “I think she needs to be taught a lesson in manners.”

“If you wish, milady,” the Traveler of her two guards replies. He draws a shortsword from his waist, his chainmail clinking as he strides towards Nue, who starts struggling furiously to no avail –

enough

Something snaps within you. Maybe it’s Kogasa, tired of seeing a friend in pain. Maybe it’s your own conscience over the same thing. Maybe it’s your disbelief that you bothered saving such a toxic person – if you could go back in time, you’d make sure to leave this woman behind on the collapsing plane during the Ascension.

You’re not sure if you move first, or if Kogasa does. You enter the antimagic field together, and for a moment both of your forms flicker, your manifestations beginning to dissipate without the force of your inherent magic to keep them active –

nuisance

– but then your will surges, the core of your mind shattering the offending spell with a single pulse of effort. Anchored by the shards of umbrella in your pocket, you reassert your physical form. Keeping yourself completely hidden is hopeless now – that brief moment of demanifestation caused your illusions to slide off of you like so much rain from a duck’s back, and Kogasa isn’t even trying to be hidden anymore either, so you embrace your newfound appearance.

Kogasa’s body disappears from sight completely, but you find yourself suddenly holding a large, hefty, purple umbrella. It feels as though she’s taking control of your limbs as you feel her bring it down on the head of the man attacking Nue. Not that you’re complaining at the division of labor – you’re weaving a hasty telekinesis. The grappler’s stunned body and both of the mage’s two guards suddenly fly up a dozen meters into the air, crash together like a mismatched set of cymbals, then slam into the ground propelled at a rate of acceleration far exceeding that of normal gravity. The only resistance they can offer afterwards is a twitching of fingers and toes as they lay piled on top of each other.

The umbrella in your hand disappears as Kogasa remanifests back as her form of a youth. “Kogasa?” Nue groans weakly as she takes the karakasa’s offered hand. “I must be more injured than I thought, I’m seein’ the dead,” When her knees threaten to crumple out from underneath her, Kogasa works a shoulder underneath Nue’s armpit to support her for as long as it takes for the woman to make her way to the adjacent wall and brace herself there.

“I got better,” she offers tersely as she skips back towards your side, satisfying herself with Nue’s safety for now. Again, she manifests herself as an umbrella in your hand, stabbing herself forward straight towards the mage’s face. It moves you into the aggressive pose you were planning to assume anyways with your pointed finger – it’s uncanny how smoothly the two of you move in agreement.

“I don’t know what else you have planned, but you better call it off right now,” you growl.

She snarls, her features ugly with hate. “So you broke one spell and disposed of three lackeys. But now you’ve tweaked the tiger’s tail!” she shouts, her fingers suddenly moving in practiced patterns for a cone of cold.

You don’t so much as blink. Nothing happens, the assembling threads of her spell blown apart by a countering dispel magic.

… a cone of cold? You were hoping for a freezing sphere at the very least – she’s certainly capable of as much with all the layered contingencies on her.

Turning a humorous shade of puce, she plucks a bead from a necklace and throws it at you while she furiously backpedals. You guide it to your free hand with telekinesis and crush it within your palm – its payload fails to have any visible effect, the underpowered fireball from the necklace completely swallowed up by your freshly cast absorption.

You slowly begin the motions for a scorching ray, uttering every syllable loudly and clearly as the day you first learned the spell. Not that you need such procedures for such a base spell, or for most of anything you can cast now, but you’ve identified the ray deflection on her. Lulled into a false sense of security, she triggers a cloud of knives around her in lieu of any actual defense, surrounding herself with a dozen conjured blades that angle themselves menacingly towards you.

Those blades fall uselessly to the ground and blink out of existence as you effortlessly break every single one of her enchantments and contingent spells with another dispel magic. She has just enough time to wave her hands frantically in the air to catch the first volley of flaming beams with her unprotected arms, the spell strangely forceful when regulated by the spellcard system. This initial barrage is a bit anemic, powered mostly by what you salvaged from the absorbed fireball, but the second volley, powered by your own energies, smashes into her with the force of a dozen sledges, blowing her so far back the crowd, far away as it is, has to part to let her roll through. Her robes smolder a bit, but she doesn’t move to smother the beginnings of fires across her robes. Even if she was still conscious, she’d be fool to dare show the slightest sign of resistance after being so blatantly overwhelmed.

“Put her out,” you snap to no one in particular, and some charitable soul in the crowd conjures a dousing’s worth of water over her body. She doesn’t so much as twitch. Yup, definitely out cold. “So much for stealth,” you mutter as Kogasa disappears from your hand once more to run back to Nue’s side.

“Who’s the guy?” Nue asks with a tilt of her head. You note that her hands have come off of her chest – the hole straight through her is gone already, although an angry red scar remains. You’re not sure, but it seems that even her amputated tendrils are longer than they were. She’ll be okay without medical attention, then. One less thing to worry about.

Kogasa opens her mouth to answer, but you shake your head behind her. Even though she can’t see you, she suddenly imitates your gesture. “Can’t… shouldn’t say,” she corrects herself. “People might talk.”

The injured woman snorts. “Eh. Fine. Then we’ll just call him the Shadow, then, hah! Might as well be, appearin’ from fuckin’ nowhere like an avengin’ angel.”

Neither you nor Kogasa dare react at all to that statement. But perhaps Kogasa isn’t as good at concealing things as you are, for Nue suddenly narrows her eyes in disbelief. “Wait, he isn’t actually the Shadow, now is he?”

Kogasa swallows. “Uh, I… how should I put this…”

It seems that Kogasa feels like she can trust this Nue – but from the dissonance that’s producing in your mind, you’re not sure if you should go with it, or reassert yourself.

After all, you’ve kind of blown your cover already…

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

CHOOSE YOUR RELEASE OF CONFIDENTIAL INFORMATION

[ ] Pointedly deny the fact. Of course you aren’t the damn Shadow, he’s just something out of a farfetched Traveler tale. You are a Traveler, yes, but that’s neither here nor there. The story might not hold up to a detailed examination of every Traveler in Gensokyo, but Nue’s group probably won’t have the ability to run such a detailed census to catch the lie.

[ ] Let her draw her own conclusions. Don’t say anything, just ignore the question. Your reputation is mysterious enough that if she insists on spreading the information, it’ll just be dismissed as more crazy rumors.

[ ] Boldly and publicly proclaim the fact. Refuge in audacity. Like the mage you just wiped the floor with said, you’re not so blatantly obvious, nor would you make such an obvious return! If you boast it here, it’ll be dismissed as a sarcastic remark mocking your defeated opponent.
>> No. 165867
[X] Pointedly deny the fact.

I warned you. I warned all of you, but you didn't listen.
>> No. 165868
[ ] Let her draw her own conclusions. Don’t say anything, just ignore the question. Your reputation is mysterious enough that if she insists on spreading the information, it’ll just be dismissed as more crazy rumors.
>> No. 165869
[x] Pointedly deny the fact. Of course you aren’t the damn Shadow, he’s just something out of a farfetched Traveler tale. You are a Traveler, yes, but that’s neither here nor there. The story might not hold up to a detailed examination of every Traveler in Gensokyo, but Nue’s group probably won’t have the ability to run such a detailed census to catch the lie.
Yeah like he'd appear from nowhere to save you Nue, get off your damn horse.

>>165867
YAF made a post about toxic comments like these and how they never give anything useful to the thread but I can't find it right now.
Anyway, long story short, don't be a retard and don't post something like that ever again: you don't know shit.
>> No. 165870
[x] Consider the possibility of allowing Kogasa to seem to be the more prominent entity among you. Rumors of her resurrection are not rumors of the shadow's return after all and while you are now 1 and the same making it appear that she has simply stumbled, or has been awarded, great power may throw the powers that seek you off track for a time.

Even better if you can pin this on Jizo somehow it would force Yukari to chase him down for conformation to the contrary, and his opinion on her is not much better the yours, so it would distract her for some time.

-[x] After any actions to that end GTFO before someone recognizes you, if you must stick around "meld" into Kogasa to minimize this chance/help the scheme.
>> No. 165871
[x] Let her draw her own conclusions. Don’t say anything, just ignore the question. Your reputation is mysterious enough that if she insists on spreading the information, it’ll just be dismissed as more crazy rumors.

If she seems trustworthy, MAYBE we can reveal it to her later. Maybe for now, just ignore it.
>> No. 165872
[X] Let her draw her own conclusions. Don’t say anything, just ignore the question. Your reputation is mysterious enough that if she insists on spreading the information, it’ll just be dismissed as more crazy rumors.

[X] Deflecting attention towards Kogasa's inexplicable revival may also be a good idea.
>> No. 165881
[X] Let her draw her own conclusions. Don’t say anything, just ignore the question. Your reputation is mysterious enough that if she insists on spreading the information, it’ll just be dismissed as more crazy rumors.

[X] Deflect attention towards Kogasa's inexplicable revival.

Works for me.
>> No. 165882
[x] Let her draw her own conclusions. Don’t say anything, just ignore the question. Your reputation is mysterious enough that if she insists on spreading the information, it’ll just be dismissed as more crazy rumors.
>> No. 165883
[X] Let her draw her own conclusions. Don’t say anything, just ignore the question. Your reputation is mysterious enough that if she insists on spreading the information, it’ll just be dismissed as more crazy rumors.

[X] Deflect attention towards Kogasa's inexplicable revival.

Meh, I like the write in.
>> No. 165884
[x] Let her draw her own conclusions,
[x] Deflect towards Kogasa's revival.

This kind of subtlety just feels more in character than anything else.
>> No. 165889
Huh.

umbrella, n., diminutive of umbra, "shadow".

... I have no idea where to go with that.

[x] Deflect attention towards Kogasa's inexplicable revival.

If pressed, we could pretend to be her shikigami, but I'm not sure that would be a good idea.
>> No. 165896
[X] Let her draw her own conclusions. Don’t say anything, just ignore the question. Your reputation is mysterious enough that if she insists on spreading the information, it’ll just be dismissed as more crazy rumors.

[X] Deflect attention towards Kogasa's inexplicable revival.

Dodge the question, focus on bigger things like the dead coming back to life and preventing Nue from going the other way. After all, she has just been shot. Twice.
>> No. 165898
Are you guys really forgetting that explaining Kogasa's revival without mentioning us is going to be kind of difficult?.
>> No. 165899
>>165898
That's the writer's problem, not ours.
>> No. 165903
>>165902
My suggestion would be to say she was used as an avatar for a powerful foreign force to try to "make amends" for a mistake. This points to jizo as the culprit (as surely he would be capable of something resembling true resurrection or wish) and explains why we look like who we are. Just be vauge enough that anyone who's in the know would come to that conclusion and hopefully that would deflect attention.

Of course we should only mention it if pressed on the issue. Until then it may be wise to take an illusionry form when separate from her to further throw people off the scent.
>> No. 165918
>>165898
I had the impression things like karakasa eventually respawn, it's just that it takes them a very long time.
>> No. 165921
>>165903
Haven't voted yet, but this sounds good.
>> No. 165922
So we risk it all to get these people to a safe place at the expense of the current residents, and they start causing trouble. Serious trouble.

Ungrateful jerks. Since this is all ultimately our fault (not HIS fault, it was US who did the teleportation) then its up to us to resolve this.
>> No. 165923
>>165922
Yeah, I wonder why he said 'HIS' this totally falls into the MCs' plate.
>> No. 165928
>>165918

If that was the case Nue's reaction would have been different, as shes old enough to know of such things and would probably say something along the lines of "you revived quickly" rather then "I see dead people".

>>165923
If their home plane was not destroyed and tainted they would not have to move. Maybe gensokyo wasn't the best choice of destination but it's better then leaving them die(or worse) on a tainted rock.
>> No. 165933
>>165928
There's a fine line between being refugees in another plane of existence and slaughtering the locals in another plane of existence because they don't agree with them, and it's clear that the Travelers have already crossed that line.

Ultimately, I'm just making the judgement that although it was under unfair circumstances that they had to flee from their home plane, it's not justified for us to simply allow them to begin killing off locals from another plane.
>> No. 165936
The planar evacuation is made worse by the fact that Gensokyo was a private reservation for Youkai. This is kinda like killing Castro, then taking all the Cubans and sticking them into an Indian Reserve before the island sinks, without consulting the Native Americans first.

Dick move, man. Could've at least dropped them on an alternate prime material.
>> No. 165949
>>165933
indeed same goes for forcing their culture upon the land. As far as one can tell, various things have been set back at least 100 years due to the travelers.
>> No. 165951
>>165936

You're forgetting the part where the Native Americans start attacking the Cubans because of their different beliefs. You're also forgetting the part where the Cubans specifically antagonized the Native Americans.

No party is blameless here; the natives didn't need to be outright hostile to the Travelers, but at the same time the Travelers didn't need to provoke the natives with things like the lightning rail. Honestly, Sai (Jizo?) isn't the one at fault; he couldn't have anticipated the Traveler's attitude, nor that the natives would be so unwelcoming to a group that had lost literally everything.
>> No. 165962
>>165951
I suppose it's a case of being fallible. Nobody could be expected to deal perfectly with this situation.

But since we caused it, we gotta fix it. The travelers obviously hold us in high regard. We should get them to accept that we are who we say we are, and then make some public statement to get them to calm the fuck down.
>> No. 165969
>>165951
Question is who started shit first? Natives with their cold reception or The Travelers with their attempt to turn Gensokyo into their world, causing all kinds of problems while they're at it.
>> No. 166002
>>165951
I'd say conflict is a very expected outcome of major cultural shock, actually. It was just the only option.
>> No. 166007
File 136427970335.jpg - (145.56KB , 850x1133 , Sword Umbrella Kogasa.jpg ) [iqdb]
166007
Votes called. Pic related. Writing now. Please wait warmly~

If you want to hate yourself, buy Super Hexagon. Or just watch a video of it. [seizures intensify]
>> No. 166181
File 136484690987.jpg - (51.81KB , 585x439 , notforfeminineeyes.jpg ) [iqdb]
166181
Hello. I wish I could have talked with you guys underneath happier circumstances.

I’m not Hisao, but someone very close to him. Yesterday I brought him to one of the school building rooftops for a drink. I didn’t know he had such a hard time holding his liquor… and he ended up tripping and falling off the side of the several story building. He did not survive, but the doctors said that he would have felt very little pain.

I thank you for being so supportive of my friend through his passion. He sent me all his notes and plans for the story ahead the night before, and said that if anything happened to him, he wanted me to finish the story for him. I’ll do my best.

Don’t be afraid that I’ll give up partway through. After reading everything that he’s written… I can’t believe he held out on me all this time. He always laughed when I warned him of the feminist conspiracy, and yet here he was, the whole time deconstructing a fantasy world ruled by females by introducing a strong male lead. Imagine if such a man walked the world today! We would not have to live in fear as we do now.

I only hope I can do his memory proud, and finish his work the way he wanted it.
































For the record, tests are back, although at this point I don’t need the results to know. Nothing’s wrong – it was probably a depressive symptom. The heart feels great.

The reign of Hisao is over. Let the era of Kenji beginokayokayokay just kidding, it’ll just be regular ol’ sane writefag me.

Sorry about the update delay recently, I’ve been working on a revision project that’s been eating up all my time.

No, it has nothing to do with /at/, what the hell are you talking about?

>> No. 166182
>>166181
You're not funny, get off the stage.
>> No. 166186
>>166181

BOOOOOO! Your jokes suck!

Get back to the story! And the porn! Oh god I want my doll porn!
>> No. 166187
>>166181
I laughed. Faggit.
>> No. 166188
File 13648533509.jpg - (168.69KB , 450x450 , teh_pouting_face.jpg ) [iqdb]
166188
I admit, I laughed.

Good to know about your heart though!
>> No. 166373
*tap* *tap* *tap*. *tap* *tap* *tap*. *tap* *tap* *tap*. A reader is getting fidgety.

On another note, the short in /shorts/ was unexpectedly face-rubbing-inducingly intense. Was expecting something more gradual. In hindsight, it was there to lay the ground work to introduce characters later. Hype hype.
>> No. 166476
File 136548328710.jpg - (138.42KB , 849x1200 , 1265225702256.jpg ) [iqdb]
166476
We need our monthly karakasa dosis
>> No. 166686
File 136605720222.png - (251.41KB , 600x900 , Male Tengu.png ) [iqdb]
166686
RESULTS

[X] Let her draw her own conclusions. Don’t say anything, just ignore the question. Your reputation is mysterious enough that if she insists on spreading the information, it’ll just be dismissed as more crazy rumors.
-[X] Deflect attention towards Kogasa’s inexplicable revival.

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

Your mind works quickly to find a way to defuse this situation. If Kogasa blurts out the truth, or denies it too obviously, suspicions will rise. Hold a second, you pass to Kogasa. She’s

You let out a chuckle, making yourself seem amused at your companion’s fluster. “Kogasa, there’s no need to be so reticent. Are you friends or not?”

“Of course!” both of them reply in perfect synchronization, the two girls turning to face you with looks of minor insult before whipping back towards each other right afterward, small blushes appearing on both of their faces. It’s kind of cute, really.

“No need to stand on ceremony then,” you say casually.

Umbra. Shadow. Umbrella. Umbrellas make shadows. It’s a pun.

Kogasa’s eyes light up as she fills in the next half of the sequence on her own. “Well, I guess you can say I’m the Shadow!” she says slyly, eyes sliding towards some spot in the distance as a leer goes over her face.

Nue puts on an unamused expression, but the slightly upturned corner of her mouth tells you she’s perfectly aware that Kogasa is screwing with her – which is the truth, but it’s just to obfuscate the actual reality of the situation. “Oh. Really, now?”

“What do umbrellas do?” the karakasa baits her.

“They… keep off the rain?” She’s playing along for now.

“What if it isn’t rainin’?”

Nue’s eyes narrow as she puts it together. “Aha. They block the sun.”

“And what does that make?”

“A Shadow. Ha, ha, very funny,” she snorts, but her laughter trails off when her brain continues to work. “… that doesn’t quite fit together – “

“No, no, I’m not done. Ahem.” She coughs and puts a fist on her chest, as if about to make a formal declaration. “But I broke, so I was no longer an umbrella.”

Nue looks confused again. “You… er, look the same.”

“I’m not really fixed, but now I make up one half of a whole,” she says truthfully. “I was an umbrella, but now you might say I’m just an umbra now.”

Nue just stares at her. “A… what?”

“… umbra means shadow,” Kogasa sighs, looking disappointed.

Her friend’s face lights up with realization. “Oh. I see – very funny!” she chortles, holding her sides a bit. “I didn’t know you became a scholar while you were in the ground!”

“I had to do something to pass the time,” she says sarcastically. “But were you surprised?” The edge of humor in her voice tells both you and her companion that she’s quite aware of the irony in her statement, and the two of you can’t help but laugh together.

“Seriously, though, who is he?” Nue finally says, patting Kogasa fondly on the shoulder before walking in front of you, looking you up and down appraisingly.

“You might call me the ‘ell’ to her ‘umbra’,” you say with a small bow. “Without me, she would not be walking as she is – without her, I would not be here either.”

“You don’t look an arm to me,” Nue replies. You stare at her blankly, clearly missing some pun of your own. “… er, back where I came from, an ‘ell’ is the distance from your elbow to the tips of your fingers,” she explains, holding up her forearm with her hand outstretched to demonstrate.

You can’t help but smile in return. “Ah, it seems that neither of us quite know where the other came from, then.”

“I think it would have been much funnier without all the explanation,” Kogasa mutters to herself.

You elbow her gently in the ribs in turn. “Well, it just means we all have to understand each other a little bit better, then.”

“I saw the way you popped out when you entered the field,” Nue suddenly says, swerving the subject back. “Are you a ghost?”

You shrug. “Not in the traditional sense… especially not after Kogasa and I helped each other out.”

“It’s not perfect,” the karakasa adds, “but the way things worked out… we help each other simply by existing.”

“She reached out to me, and thus two became… less than two, but more than one,” you try to explain.

Nue looks from you to her friend, then back again. “That still doesn’t answer the question of where you came from, buddy.”

You just give her a smile in response – and seize upon an extremely legitimate excuse to change the subject. “That’ll have to wait for later. For now – we have company.”

Indeed. Throughout all your levity, the crowd watching down the street has been steadily growing as news of the clash that occurred here spreads, spectators perching just as easily on rooftops and in midair as on the ground. And while Travelers came down to fetch Nue, it’s the tengu that have the courage to thrust their way past the perimeter and stride boldly towards you, your companions, and the literal heap of unconscious assailants on the ground.

There are four of them. One of them looks like he was on the wrong side of your earlier tornado that dispersed the aerial battle. His robes are battered and the falchion in his hand his chipped far beyond what most would consider acceptable, and he’s sporting a lovely set of bruises that you can tell will only grow in the next few hours. The other three look fresh, however – another warrior bearing a stave, while the other two shimmer rather tellingly underneath your aurasight, revealing them as mages of some kind.

The warrior with stave steps up to Nue without so much as a glance towards you or Kogasa. “Miss Houjuu,” he says, giving her a deep, facedown bow, his feathered wings fluttering slightly to maintain his balance. Something seems vaguely… insincere about the gesture.

“Tetsuzan,” she replies slowly as she returns the bow – but she keeps her head level, refusing to let him out of her sight. “You want somethin’?”

“I wanted to thank you for pacifying the situation, but I see now I have much more to thank you for.” You can see the beginnings of wrinkles around his eyes and his receding hairline, but the muscles in his arms and hands are still robust and pronounced. “… might I ask how you took out the Archmage? I didn’t think you had it in you.”

“Ha!” she laughs, waving the misdirected compliment off. “Pity I had to show it now. Always hold somethin’ back, you never know when you might need it later.”

Hold on a moment. Nue is blatantly lying about the scenario right in front of you – and she seemed friendly enough. You don’t think that she’d lie just to make herself look better; therefore, there must be something about this Tetsuzan that makes him untrustworthy.

For a moment a look of extreme skepticism crosses his face, but he resets it so quickly you’re not sure anyone else but you and Kogasa saw it. The tengu’s expression is unreadable as he gives a careful nod – you can see him doing recalculations in his head. “… I… see, then. In that case, I thank you for delivering her into our custody. We have been – “

“Hold on, hold on, hold on,” Nue interrupts him. “I’m doin’ what now?”

“We’re not about to turn down a favor when it’s presented, Miss Houjuu,” he says icily. “We have been seeking her for many weeks now.”

“Then you can wake her up and have a chat with her here. In the village, underneath civilized law,” Nue growls.

The implied insult, that tengu law is anything but, seems to be a sore spot – all four of tengu visibly wince. “You and those damned Buddhists just want your own say in the matter,” Tetsuzan snaps, all pretense of diplomacy dropped. “Stop trying to butt your heads in on our war. Don’t you have a Taoist somewhere to slap around? There’s one of them right up there,” he sneers, pointing up towards a roof. Both you and Nue follow his gesture, and watch that white-robed woman from before – Futo, that was her name – flinch visibly before ducking out of sight.

“Unlike you bloodthirsty lot, we keep our quarrels to the spellcard rules. I’m just surprised the Hakurei hasn’t come in to wipe the floor with you lot yet.”

“I’m a bit surprised too,” the tengu says, shrugging. “But we’ll not turn down a blessing when it presents itself to us. Now, will you let us take her, or will you continue to stand in our way?”

“Go fuck yourself,” Nue snaps, standing resolutely still. She flicks her head sideways, and you follow Kogasa to slink away to one side of the street. The crowd seems to have picked up the atmosphere of the situation as well, and in moments the area is clear, the sounds of locking doors and clattering shutters replacing the mutters and chatter of before.

“So be it,” he snarls, and then he disappears behind a shower of shining streaks. For that matter, so does the rest of the street.

Nue has leapt a hundred feet back, a bow now tightly gripped in her hands. Unlike a bow, however, it launches hundreds if not thousands of brightly shining arrows in a wide cone with every pull of her hands, and you can see that her motions of “drawing” the bone are without force, more a focusing gesture than a physical exertion. Fortunately for the state of the street, it’s danmaku – every shot that connects with the ground or buildings harmlessly disappears with a crackle.

But even on their intended targets, the arrows are without major effect – they fly straight and true only until they get near the tengu, where they suddenly change direction and tumble about in spirals around each individual, swirling shields of wind protecting each one from harm. Thus protected, the two mages hang back while the other two charge forward, brandishing their weapons.

… until one of the mages suddenly takes a particularly persistent arrow to the face and crumples to the ground. The moment he loses consciousness, the shield around the other warrior – not Tetsuzan – wavers and fails in turn. He furiously twists and turns, beating his blade around him in sweeping arcs while scrambling to one side of the street, but it’s not nearly enough to protect him from Nue’s fusillade. He twitches a bit when he falls, but otherwise puts up little other resistance.

An adrenaline-fueled grin stretches over Nue’s face as she tightens the spray of fire, bombarding the remaining two with twice the concentration. You watch as the mage turns a panicked shade of puce trying to maintain the shields on the both of them. Even then, Tetsuzan’s closer proximity to Nue means that the shifting walls of wind around him are failing more often than not to sufficiently deflect the danmaku arrows, forcing him to frantically deflect them with his staff. It seems that in a head-on fight, Kogasa’s friend has an impressive amount of power.

And then you spot it – a telltale flare up of magical energy across the city, high on a building. Not at a window, but deep within a room, the better to conceal one’s position. With all the background noise of the village’s booming magic amenities and enchantments, you’re surprised you noticed it at all – as it stands, you missed exactly which one of the half a dozen windows it might have come from.

Wings of cover flash out into the street, slashing behind the two tengu under fire. The luminescent rain of Nue’s excess shots suddenly comes to a splashing halt in midair – as does a single lance, blindingly bright and yet only present for the barest moment, lasting far longer as an afterimage in the retina than it does it reality. It’s the same weapon that downed her earlier, although whether or not it’s the same shooter is an open question.

You can tell the shot was aimed at Nue again, but both she Nue and the tengu flinch, despite the latter having their backs to the attack. When Nue lowers her bow to squint into the distance, kicking off into the air to get a better vantage and improve her mobility with quick zigzagging movements, the tengu mage takes full advantage of the respite cease maintaining the shields. He drops to his knees, clutching his heaving sides, but Tetsuzan runs over to him and bodily drags him out of the open street into a walled enclosure.

Both you and Kogasa exchange a wordless nod of agreement. A dozen layered illusions and a bit of youkai stealth later, you launch upwards, tailing Nue closely. Your caution is not without good reason – you block a second shot for her, and Nue wisely decides to dive for cover this time, disappearing behind a warehouse. She’s frantically looking from side to side, perhaps looking for you? You’re not about to reveal yourself, though.

Instead, you lob a clairvoyance into the window where you watched the earlier two shots come from. You’re late, though, and all you get is the briefest glimpse of a figure cradling a massive rifle. You can’t tell if it’s male or female, as their bulky blackout gear conceals their build. You throw a second sensor to get a picture of their front side, but it does you little good – their head is completely covered, not even their eyes or mouth showing. With your blindsense you could pin down their identity by their body shape sans any gear, and use that to identify them if you came across them, but you’re too far away for that as of yet. When they turn the corner around the doorframe and disappear, you throw a third sensor into the hallway beyond the door only to see them go down a flight of stairs, making you grit your teeth in annoyance.

And then you pick up the aura of a teleportation spell in progress. Clairaudience picks up arcane words haltingly spoken by a higher pitched voice; a woman’s alto, someone unfamiliar with the magic in question. You review your options: you absolutely refuse to let this sniper go without a fight, but you can’t dispel her ritual nor attack her within the next few seconds, seconds that you might not have. Not without gaining a direct line of effect.

… well, that’s not that hard.

Green rays of disintegrate lash out over the walls and roof, literally peeling the top floor of the building away. It seems to have been an office of some kind, as a large number of desks, tables, chairs, and filing cabinets fall through the now-nonexistent second floor on top of their mates on the first. The woman ducks instinctively as wood splinters and shatters all around her, shielding her head with her arms as the dust that once was an office billows in thick, choking clouds. You can see a large scroll clutched in her hands, her rifle now slung across her back. She haltingly tries to start from the beginning, but you snap the ritual in half with a mere thought. That she blindly attempts to continue, not noticing that the magic weaving around her has already broken, tells you that she’s no mage at all. Any apprentice with the smallest iota of power should have noticed such a failure.

Right before you can knock her unconscious and haul her up and towards you, though, you realize that you don’t have the time.

Or rather, that time… is… not… right…?

Time as a concept is collapsing all around you. Kogasa is frozen, pointing towards the figure in the distance, her eyes wide and her mouth open in some cry.

… you should probably do something.

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

CHOOSE YOUR METHOD OF DEALING WITH TIME WARP

[ ] Celerity, and risk being caught flatfooted while repaying the six seconds of borrowed time.
[ ] Haste, and risk not being fast enough for whatever comes.

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

Sorry for the random hiatus. As stated before, I was working on a literary project of... dubious morality, and that was eating all my inspiration.
>> No. 166688
[x] Haste, and risk not being fast enough for whatever comes.
We still don't know who is she targeting. And being impulsive has been a pain before.
>> No. 166689
[ ] Haste, and risk not being fast enough for whatever comes.

Risk being flatfooted? Rule of drama, we are so going to be flatfooted if we take that choice.
>> No. 166697
[X] Celerity, and risk being caught flatfooted while repaying the six seconds of borrowed time.

Let's take the initiative!
>> No. 166700
>>166686
I'm confused as to how Haste deals with the time warp. The only thing the spell actually does that is useful in this situation is allow us to reach the woman faster (by increasing our movement speed), which could more effectively be achieved with a Dimension Door or similar.

If the whole bit about time falling apart is a dimensional or arcane effect, would a Dimensional Anchor or Dispel Magic be effective?

Holding off on voting for now.
>> No. 166701
>>166700

You're not the only one confused. The time shenananananaigans happening right now aren't a spell to be broken nor directly countered, and Sai's repertoire has a distinct absence of teleportation anyways. Sai's wondering if he should celerity now, or hold it for later until he's sure he knows what's happening.

Does he explode a moment into six unopposed seconds of his own to assess the developing situation and counter it, with the risk of going off too soon and leaving him completely open? Or does simply accelerate himself in preparation and possibly be late to react in time?
>> No. 166702
[x] Celerity, and risk being caught flatfooted while repaying the six seconds of borrowed time.

Better to pre-empt this than to allow it to go foward.
>> No. 166703
[x]Celerity

I'm guessing the time warp will result in the escape or death of the shooter, and I want to interrogate him. Thoroughly.
>> No. 166706
[x]Celerity
Whatever, they're doing, they're going to be done in 6 seconds. If we can't take them out in 6 extra seconds, I doubt we could do any better in 6 hasted ones.
>> No. 166708
[X] Haste, and be ready to Celerity later if the need arises.

Well, they're not mutually exclusive, are they?
>> No. 166710
[X] Haste, and be ready to Celerity later if the need arises.

We don't know if the time stopper is going to help our target, additionally if we do manage to butt into it with celerity you can guarantee that the goon will get his spell off in the owed 6 seconds unless we focus on him first letting the time stopper have 6 seconds anyway, possibly with fewer restrictions.

Additionally it takes a high level caster to buy what is effectively 30 seconds with a time stop, and under the standard time stop rules they can't interfere with the target even if they could reach them in that time. Were also still behind all our illusions and such so it's unlikely we were noticed. All in all the threat of the time stop if unlikely to be high.

Most of this reasoning won't matter if it's who I think it is, but that would be metagaming, and we haven't antagonized her anyway.
>> No. 166711
[x]Celerity
If someone is screwing with time around you, you step outside of time to deal with it. (Okay, that would be more like Time Stop, but close enough.)
>> No. 166715
[X] Haste, and be ready to Celerity later if the need arises.
>> No. 166716
[x]Celerity
>> No. 166849
File 136650877461.jpg - (320.76KB , 1304x613 , Broken Time.jpg ) [iqdb]
166849
Votes called. Pic related. Writing now. Please wait warmly~
>> No. 167129
File 136696435632.jpg - (100.73KB , 850x1433 , Touhouvania Sakuya.jpg ) [iqdb]
167129
RESULTS

[X] Celerity, and risk being caught flatfooted while repaying the six seconds of borrowed time.

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

You’ll be damned if you’ll let someone get the drop on you. With a mental flick, celerity sidesteps you out of the normal flow of time.

… or rather, it should have. But instead of your spell resolving in the space of a thought like you’re used to, all you feel is this terrifying lurching sensation. Like that of a dam collapsing, or something wedging itself between two gears, all while the absorption around your body struggles to compensate for – something. Your entire reality feels like a cord stretching, stretching, stretching until it’s taut enough to play a tune on, then shrieking horribly as the fibers shred right before the whole thing snaps with a pop –

pop

The gathered energy from the absorption suddenly routes into the celerity, finally pushing it into reality as opposed to an idea. The sensation of vertigo ends, but your head is still spinning. The scene of the village underneath you, of the devastation you’ve wrought upon the building that the sniper had fled into, of hundreds of people staring up towards you with fearful eyes, pointing and shouting in wonder – it all seems to swim and swirl.

It’s not any particularly supernatural effect that’s obscuring your vision. No, it’s the nothing more than currents of air – not that they’ve been somehow strengthened or directed, as the tengu are capable of doing, but that the very wind can’t agree with itself about how to move. Some of it is trying to remain still, removed from time as you are. Yet at the same time, the rest of it is moving, roiling around the rest of the frozen air, confused as you are at the current situation.

Time pops once again, and before you can so much as twitch a finger three knives the length of your forearm hammer into the back of your neck.

It’s not a fatal wound for you, but the blades are far more than mundane steel. You wince in pain as you draw them out and toss them aside. When they dematerialize out of existence the moment you throw them aside is rather telling, you realize just what they are – fragments of possibility, all brought together into a single moment for concentrated effect like your own avalanche of blades.

A second pop, but you’re prepared this time. Slashing your left arm out towards the side, your wings of cover simultaneously swat the next volley in all directions while scooping at the air, turning you about to face your attacker.

She’s unarmored, dressed in a black knee-length dress. The skirt, billowing gently in the too-thick air as she flies in a distant orbit around you, is conservative and subdued in its length and cut, meaning that it remains somewhat practical even in a fight – your own robe is arguably less so. The cloth is decorated with a combination of subtle white stripes and black-on-black embroidered floral patterns that add texture without being glaringly obtrusive. Black gloves and stockings complete the outfit, although the tough, weathered boots on her feet look like they don’t belong, lacking the embroidery that unifies the rest of the outfit. Her face is hard and cold, bracketed by a decorative short braids that hang at the sides of her head, although you can see a flicker of surprise run across her features before she resets them.

But none of that really draws your attention. No, what has you gaping in awe is the artifact at her waist.

Pop, and it becomes an impossibly concentrated dot of transmutation magic as you feel time shift and collapse around the two of you to an even greater degree than before. Your absorption can’t possibly completely nullify the effect, but the energy it’s siphoning from whatever effect her artifact is projecting is maintaining your spell far beyond its normal duration. Or perhaps it is the same duration, and the time dilation that you’re experiencing is only making it seem longer?

No matter what the exact details and theory of the situation, however, the fact remains that you’re in a fight. A volley of blades pierces your chest before you even realize they’re coming, your assailant still keeping her distance. You snarl and sweep your arm across your body again, dragging the blades out of your form while tapping into the massive stolen well of energy.

Right before the next pop, you wrap yourself in a haste. This time you can actually see the woman’s attack – she simply flicks her fingers open to either side of her body, and blades are seemingly dragged into reality from nothingness. Even though you know those blades hit with the force of hammer blows, she cocks her wrists back and snaps them towards you as if they’re weightless.

The blades travel in expanding arcs away from her before converging on your position in defiance of physics, just like everything else in this bubble of isolated time. You dodge them by flinging yourself towards her, and as her attack criss-crosses in your wake, you have the pleasure of seeing her eyes widen in shock. That changes to panic as your own answering orb of force screams towards her.

A pop as the magic her artifact outputs increases yet again, and your spell hits nothing but the air as she likewise dodges forward, literally riding the shockwaves the orb creates in the air, her hands and feet lagging behind her body as if she were in freefall. The same thing happens to your second and third shots, each pop drawing more and more power out of her artifact, power that you greedily steal from to keep up with her in turn. You begin casting a fourth, only to you realize she’s closing in for melee, a long-bladed knife in each hand, her face grim and determined now.

Instead, you release a huge shower of magic missiles around you in a defensive screen, but with a final, absolutely massive pop each and every one of them hits a thrown blade head-on, failing to stop her charge. You’re no defenseless scholar, though, and while you did spend far more time training with weapons than without, Marcus did not neglect your education. The slight possibility that you might be disarmed of your formerly-soulbound quicksilver shield was worth a few years of training at the very least.

She tries to speed herself along with another pop of energy before committing both of her blades in a massive upwards hilt-deep slash from groin to shoulder, putting the weight of her entire body behind the attack – time is so dilated now that you can literally see the blades slice through the air. But each successive escalation of power her artifact undergoes simply drags your own haste-quickened body up to speed with it, and after that last one it seems you’ve reached a turning point where her bursts of speed no longer seem instantaneous to you. As such, you react just in time to suck in your stomach and crane your upper body forward, adopting a dancing blade form as you impossibly stretch out far enough to slam the heels of your hands into her upper arms, arresting the majority of her momentum. She tries to continue the strike at her elbows, snapping her forearms upwards to turn the slash into a stab, but your hit on her arms sent you upwards and away from her, out of reach.

Her jaw tightens as she abandons hope of ending the fight in one decisive blow, and as you begin circling each other at the same elevation, squaring off like two prizefighters in a ring, she starts sounding you out as you loosely raise your hands and forearms in front of your face in a defensive stance. Her arms slowly reextend forward, points of her blades creeping towards you and into your defensive space. With this, she can force you back so that she can gain forward momentum on you, provoke you into making some stupid premature attack, or simply use the decreased distance to strike before you can react.

Right before she crosses the threshold into the third, however, you feint forwards as if striking at her wrists. Like a cobra, she retracts to strike at your own wrists in turn, but then you turn the conventions of classic stances meant for fighting on the ground on their head as your entire body angles feet-first at a point directly underneath her. Not expecting the move, she blindly makes a stamping kick as you suddenly sweep underneath her, turning that leg into a hyperextended, rigid, easily damaged target. You oblige by arresting your momentum at your core, using your own body as a pivot to bring your own foot wheeling up and around into the back of her knee with a sickening crunch.

While she might not need it for locomotion in the air, an injury is an injury, and she lets out her voice past clenched teeth in a grunt of pain as she flies forward in the same direction your kick traveled, using the momentum of your attack that carried into her torso to help her get out of range. As you sail away from each other, you exchange attacks at range – pop quickened knives intercept an orb of force, and then you both find each other plowing into the dissipating explosion, both of you thinking to use the rippling air to conceal your movement. Her booted heel just barely sings by your ear as you flick your head to one side, but the knee belonging to her other leg roughly plows into your shoulder, and then the rest of her does, all eight of your limbs flying every which-way.

Her knives are more dangerous than your legs and feet at this distance, and you attempt to disengage upwards. She’s not about to relinquish a height advantage for nothing, though, and rises with you. As the attacker, she controls the outside edge of the fight, her knives slashing towards your face, your ribs, your shoulders, your neck, and of course your arms and wrists. You defend from the inside, smashing your forearms and fists into her own wrists, her hands, and the hilts of her blades. You don’t make it out unscathed; these close range parries can’t fully stop an attack, and most of the time the blades are still able to graze you slightly.

Fortunately, you only have to weather a few tense moments of this before you make your counter attack. Now that she’s used to you striking her weapons with your hands to no effect, you suddenly hit those two knives with an exorcism of steel, the metal of the weapons thrumming until her arms numb and stiffen while trying to hold them. Those knives are easily replaceable, though, and with a pop she drops them to simply produce two new ones.

But her artifact can’t push her much further than it is. She accelerates, but not by enough, and you accelerate with her just enough so that you can grab each of your fists with the other and slam into her chest with a bonesplitting strike. Something in the bodice of her dress stiffens in an attempt to protect her, but your fist is not a knife or projectile. Had the creator of her garment been wiser, they’d have incorporated a cushioning enchantment into the material as well, but as it stands the only thing that pads against your attack is the spellcard system. Either way, your blow sends her sailing away, breath coming in shallow, halting breaths, her eyes wide in pain.

… in any case, it’s time to end this.

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

CHOOSE YOUR METHOD OF CONFLICT RESOLUTION

[ ] Finish what she started. She attacked you unannounced, and you’ll take her down in the same fashion before stopping that escaping sniper – she should still be there. You were able to keep pace with the artifact for now, but trying to open negotiations in this situation is just asking to be blindsided by the next trick this woman pulls – and maybe this time you won’t have an answer. You’ll not relax until she’s out cold in the street and out of this sphere of dilated time.
-[ ] We have to go deeper. You’ve fought this long after a celerity usage with no ill effects. A second one will give you the window you need to put her down.
-[ ] Even the odds. This time manipulation is too much of a question mark to allow to stand. You’ll use her moment of weakness to tear your way out of this bubble of craziness… or maybe just tear the bubble down itself.
-[ ] Don’t fix what ain’t broke. You’ve landed a solid advantage without further manipulation of time. Trying anything more is just asking for trouble.

[ ] Information warfare. If time is moving this slow, you can bend this woman over your knee until she sings like a bird about the situation before that sniper can make her escape. And isn’t that what you came here for? Information?

[ ] Time to go. This was supposed to be a silent, undercover deal, and now you’re neck deep in the loudest situation you could have imagined. This woman’s attack just proves that you’ve attracted too much attention. Stunning her will be all the window of escape you’ll need.
>> No. 167130
[x] Time to go. This was supposed to be a silent, undercover deal, and now you’re neck deep in the loudest situation you could have imagined. This woman’s attack just proves that you’ve attracted too much attention. Stunning her will be all t

jesus christ sai why are you still here
>> No. 167131
[x] Time to go. This was supposed to be a silent, undercover deal, and now you’re neck deep in the loudest situation you could have imagined. This woman’s attack just proves that you’ve attracted too much attention. Stunning her will be all t
>> No. 167132
[X] Time to go. This was supposed to be a silent, undercover deal, and now you’re neck deep in the loudest situation you could have imagined. This woman’s attack just proves that you’ve attracted too much attention. Stunning her will be all the window of escape you’ll need.

Time for plan ReReRe: Retreat. Regroup. Rethink.

This is turning into a giant mess and we have no way of knowing just how long we can keep up these celerity shenanigans with that artifact being too much of an unknown factor at this point.
For all we know, she could cut it off at any point and return us to real time mid-fight.
And Sai really doesn't need THAT, what with trying to keep a low profile and all.
>> No. 167133
[ ] Information warfare. If time is moving this slow, you can bend this woman over your knee until she sings like a bird about the situation before that sniper can make her escape. And isn’t that what you came here for? Information?
>> No. 167136
[x] Finish what she started. She attacked you unannounced, and you’ll take her down in the same fashion before stopping that escaping sniper – she should still be there. You were able to keep pace with the artifact for now, but trying to open negotiations in this situation is just asking to be blindsided by the next trick this woman pulls – and maybe this time you won’t have an answer. You’ll not relax until she’s out cold in the street and out of this sphere of dilated time.
-[x] Don’t fix what ain’t broke. You’ve landed a solid advantage without further manipulation of time. Trying anything more is just asking for trouble.
Taking her out of the game (IE: Stealing her artifact) is a worthy objective and by Christ all of this should be for something.
As for the second celerity, if he's gonna try that, he should save it to get the fuck out of dodge.
>> No. 167137
[x] Time to go. This was supposed to be a silent, undercover deal, and now you’re neck deep in the loudest situation you could have imagined. This woman’s attack just proves that you’ve attracted too much attention. Stunning her will be all the window of escape you’ll need.

If we get outed this early, we won't be able to resolve anything without being pulled into a million and one schemes.
>> No. 167146
[x] Finish what she started.
-[x] Don’t fix what ain’t broke.
>> No. 167147
[ ] Time to go. This was supposed to be a silent, undercover deal, and now you’re neck deep in the loudest situation you could have imagined. This woman’s attack just proves that you’ve attracted too much attention. Stunning her will be all the window of escape you’ll need.

Situations goin' FUBAR.
Time to bug out.
>> No. 167149
[x] Finish what she started.
-[x] Don’t fix what ain’t broke.

As it stands, if the time dilation was strong enough to keep us relatively out of view, then the only witness is Sakuya.

If it wasn't, then we've been thoroughly seen anyway, and fighting her again would entail giving up the advantage we already have for a more uncertain outcome.

Arguably getting out now might help us by limiting our exposure, but considering we've been fighting right about the crowd's heads, if we're seen... we're seen. It wont help much past this point.
>> No. 167155
[x] Finish what she started.
-[x] Don’t fix what ain’t broke.

Either the combat's moving fast/out of time enough that we don't need to worry about being seen, or we're seen and it'd be better to subdue Sakuya and bring her in for questioning.

Semi-relatedly, if Kogasa and Sai are essentially two minds in one body, is Kogasa experiencing the effects of the Time-Stopped pumped Celerity? Tw on one - or even just Prismatic Blade - could turn the tide.
>> No. 167159
[x] finish what she started
-[x] dont fix what is not broken
--[x] GRAB THAT ARTIFACT!

we are a D&D themed character, gathering powerful magical items is a must
>> No. 167165
Wait, Sakuya? Someone's not where they should be.
>>164742
>“… I know this is asking a lot, but – Miss Scarlet? Miss Izayoi? Miss Knowledge? Even Miss Koakuma could help.”
>“You know just as I do that they’re in Makai right now,”

[X] Information warfare. If time is moving this slow, you can bend this woman over your knee until she sings like a bird about the situation before that sniper can make her escape. And isn’t that what you came here for? Information?

Subtlety went out the window the moment Sai saved Nue. Might as well make the most of this situation.
>> No. 167170
[X] Information warfare. If time is moving this slow, you can bend this woman over your knee until she sings like a bird about the situation before that sniper can make her escape. And isn’t that what you came here for? Information?

So, dollsex when?
>> No. 167177
File 136705599040.jpg - (13.09KB , 132x150 , r u srs.jpg ) [iqdb]
167177
>>167170
>> No. 167180
[x] Information warfare. If time is moving this slow, you can bend this woman over your knee until she sings like a bird about the situation before that sniper can make her escape. And isn’t that what you came here for? Information?

Wonder who the sniper is considering that's the most obvious reason for Sakuya to pop in and gank some strange guy.
>> No. 167188
[X] Information warfare. If time is moving this slow, you can bend this woman over your knee until she sings like a bird about the situation before that sniper can make her escape. And isn’t that what you came here for? Information?
>> No. 167190
-[X] We have to go deeper.

Fuck the magic police.
>> No. 167246
[X] Information warfare. If time is moving this slow, you can bend this woman over your knee until she sings like a bird about the situation before that sniper can make her escape. And isn’t that what you came here for? Information?

Just beating up Sakuya doesn't sound very useful, and running away now won't do any good either;

>"of hundreds of people staring up towards you with fearful eyes,"

It seems Sai has already been noticed.
>> No. 167253
[x] Finish what she started.
-[x] Don’t fix what ain’t broke.

I suspect that the backlash from Celerity is delayed until the next round actually starts- which is to say, until we exit the time acceleration bubble. Given that our Absorption spell is doing crazy unexpected things, there's a risk that the backlash will be worse than usual, so it would be best to finish this decisively in our favor while remaining under the current set of circumstances.

Talking is something we can do after she's unconscious and restrained- and do more thoroughly than we could manage in battle here, anyway. And also after we've looted her awesome artifact. Leaving gains us nothing and is likely to stun us as soon as we exit the time bubble anyway.
>> No. 167264
>>167253
that's assuming the effort needed to do that doesn't put Sai in a worse position for little gain considering it seems whoever is making the bubble, they're not exactly able to put up much more of a fight.
>> No. 167284
>>167253
How do we even know that the artifact is lootable at all?
Sai's silver bracelet isn't lootable. Kogasa's umbrella isn't lootable. I'm pretty sure Okuu's arm-cannon isn't lootable. (Well, it might be, but anybody who isn't a living nuclear power plant has any real use for it...)

If it IS lootable, can Sai even use it? If he can, how long until he figures out how to use it efficiently enough for it to not be an unpredictable last resort?
And can he even take the time to sit around fiddling with it for as long as that takes, with all that's going on?

I think it's a better idea to leave those questions unanswered, and focus on damage control right now.
>> No. 167338
[x] Finish what she started.

[X] Information warfare
>> No. 167350
File 136727648586.jpg - (67.78KB , 500x500 , Sakuya In Chains.jpg ) [iqdb]
167350
Looks like it's time for a new thread. If you've any questions or comments, feel free to bomb them in now.

Votes called. Pic related. Writing now. Please wait warmly~
>> No. 167405
>>167350
>dat pic

HNNNNNNNNG
>> No. 167461
[ ] Finish what she started. She attacked you unannounced, and you’ll take her down in the same fashion before stopping that escaping sniper – she should still be there. You were able to keep pace with the artifact for now, but trying to open negotiations in this situation is just asking to be blindsided by the next trick this woman pulls – and maybe this time you won’t have an answer. You’ll not relax until she’s out cold in the street and out of this sphere of dilated time.
-[ ] We have to go deeper. You’ve fought this long after a celerity usage with no ill effects. A second one will give you the window you need to put her down.
>> No. 169720
Now that ballista is back from china he can update.

Also be sure to post pictures of the unboxing, though it probably won't come for a few weeks.
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