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167423 No. 167423
RESULTS

[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?

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

The woman in black is moving slower now, her reactions dulled. In that case, you’ll test those reflexes to the limit.

You point one finger into the air and spin it in a tiny circle. Three tiny, interlocked silver hoops appear, forming a swinging chain anchored on your extended digit. She grunts and dodges desperately to one side, sensing the incoming attack as each of those rings suddenly glows white hot and bursts into vapor. The next moment, half a dozen much larger rings fling themselves from your palm as you thrust your arm towards her.

One, two, three of the thrumming bands of steel fly wide, but when she draws up her legs towards her body to dodge the fourth, her injured leg lags just a moment too long. Like a ravenous predator, the ring twists itself and reforms into a figure eight, forming a solid, hefty band around her ankle with a connecting secondary ring. With the weight of that band slowing her leg even further, she can’t get it out of the way of the fifth and six rings as they similarly attach to first the ring, then her calf and knee.

There’s a pop as she frantically scrambles to chop at the entrapment with one of her blades, but the metal holds firm against the edge of her knife. Some wild, feral logic connects in her brain, and with no small amount of horror you watch her angle the point of her knife towards her own thigh –

Fortunately, your second and third casts of bands of steel reach her just in time, ensnaring her entire body. They arrest her limbs and wrench her knives out of her hands with twists at the wrist and hand – the blades disappear moments after they drop from her fingers. She makes one last desperate attempt to fly upwards in blind escape, but the growing weight on her as each ring secures itself around her one by one proves to be too much, and soon enough she’s sinking to the ground, writhing reflexively as the bands continue up her body to restrain her neck and head, neatly sliding over her mouth and eyes. About ten feet from the ground she simply gives up attempting to fly, but you seize her with telekinesis and gently lower her to the ground in front of you.

Kneeling at her side, you lightly tap the band over her eyes. She flinches and rocks a bit, but you don’t mean any harm – the band gently breaks apart and puffs into nothingness, revealing that her eyes are scrunched tightly shut. You repeat the process with the band over her pursed lips, and then continue with a few of the more awkward bands on her body, letting circulation return to her extremities and easing her breathing.

Finally, you give her an experimental clap on the shoulder. “Hhhheeeeeeyyyyy,” you say. Your voice sounds odd and distorted – you chalk that up to the distorted quality of the air.

Her head turns away from you, but her attempt to roll onto her stomach fails. You sigh. “I’mmmmmm noooooot herrrrrre toooo hurrrrrrt yooooooou, ifffffffff thaaaaaaat’s whaaaaaaat yoooooooou’rrrrrrre worrrrrrrrrrieeeeeeeed aaaaaaaaabooooooout.

Seemingly against her better judgment, her eyes flicker open and swivel towards you. They’re a piercing blue, and the daggers she glares at you are even sharper than those she put into your body. Something pops in the air between you and her, and when she speaks her voice is only reduced to a deep alto as opposed to the comical bass drawl your voice came out as. “I’ve got nothing to say to the likes of you,” she says in a flat monotone, still refusing to turn her head fully to face you.

You give a small shrug of your shoulders. “Be that as it may, I have a few questions for you.”

“I’m not answering.” With that, she closes her eyes again.

You spend a few moments mulling over how to crack her resistance. “Then I guess you’re not at all interested in the welfare of this town, then,” you say vaguely.

Her eyes open instantly at that, and she even turns her head towards you – to spit. You debate dodging out of the way, but settle for seizing it midair and throwing it to one side, a show of easy power that makes her eyes narrow with murderous intent. “You’re a monster,” she hisses.

Well, at least she has a conscience, then. “If you don’t want to be like me, then, you’ll answer my questions. Or would you prefer to be held responsible for the harm befalling this place?”

You’re referring of course to the fights that just occurred, but to her you’re making veiled threats. It’ll be better that way – she’ll be less likely to connect you with The Shadow, then, seeing as that name seems to be connected with the persona of a shadowy benefactor. Which, ironically, is a role that you’re perhaps taking on, but that’s your own problem.

You can see the resistance in her eyes falter. “… I’ll not give you anything you can exploit,” she says, a bit of resignation slipping into her voice behind the steel.

“That’s good enough for me,” you say amiably, putting a smile on your face. That seems to take her a bit off guard as you watch her eyes twitch a bit. “So, first…”

You deliberate. What best to ask her first? Probably the figurative elephant in the room – the artifact that’s keeping this bubble of dilated time active. It’s still the veritable black hole of concentrated transmutation magic that it was – you’re actually worried about what would happen if you tried to handle it.

You want to say that it’s ancient, older than eternity, but that might just be a side effect of its time manipulation properties. Or it might not. You have no idea, and perhaps you shouldn’t. How it fell into the hands of a mere fighter, as opposed to those of a studied mage or priest, you have no idea, although from what you’ve experienced it alone is more than capable of keeping itself out of most anyone else’s grasp.

You glance upwards where Kogasa remains frozen, out of the bubble of dilated time. She’s definitely still there and unharmed. You can still feel her presence, the part of you she makes up, and the part of you that in turn helps form her. There’s no sense of loss, as if one or the other of you had – would died be the right word? You’re not sure if could really apply to either of you.

But where there’s normally a gentle back and forth exchange of information, there’s now nothing but a rigid stasis – and your own growing paranoia. It didn’t even occur to you earlier, as you were dealing with the overload of information from your opponent, but now that you’ve taken control of the situation and had a chance to calm down, that lack of exchange is starting to eat at you.

“That artifact at your waist – “

“You keep your filthy hands off of it!” she snarls at you before you can even finish your question. That was a fast reaction.

You hold up your hands, showing your palms disarmingly. “I can sense how powerful it is. Trust me, I’m not about to mess with it out of hand,” you assure her. “No, I’m more worried about my companion up there,” you explain, pointing up towards the karakasa.

“She’s fine,” the woman says as if offended. “As is everyone else in the village. Nothing I’m doing will bring them into jeopardy. So what are you planning to do, then?”

“This is an interrogation, not a conversation,” you rebuke her. You don’t want her to feel as if she can ask you anything – more to the point, you don’t trust her enough to give her anything that might help her. She seems to have a righteous streak about her, though – almost as though she’s considering herself better than to feed you lies. “Now, tell me. Do you know a Houjuu Nue?”

She gives you a confused look, then shakes her head. “Can’t say I do, no.” You’re pretty sure she’s being truthful as far as that.

Your question about why anyone would want to assassinate Kogasa’s friend withers on the vine. Better to move on to something more general about Gensokyo politics, then. You already know that tensions are high between the tengu and Travelers, and that neither side is above pushing around representatives of the town.

Her gaze starts to bore a hole in you. You should probably think of something to ask before she thinks you weak or unprepared.

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

CHOOSE YOUR TOPIC OF INTERROGATION

[ ] Write-in.

The topics you choose and what order they’re presented in matter. Screw this up, and Sakuya will clamp her mouth shut and refuse to release a single word more. Perhaps a bit of torture would get you further, but Sai isn’t about to stoop that low.

Even if you avoid screwing up the interrogation, you only get a limited amount of time. After a certain point, this interrogation will end, even if you haven’t asked everything you desire.

>> No. 167424
[x] Who are you?
[x] Why did you try to kill me?
[x] Why were you here in the first place?

[x] If the interrogation fails, steal her artifact when you're done.

Let's start with the basics
>> No. 167426
>>167424
Start with the basics? We have a limited amount of time so it's best not to waste it. Also I have no idea why everyone wants to steal the watch.

For questions, let's make it quick.

[X] Name, rank, superior
Who she is.
[X] Why did you try to kill me?
Her intentions and who she believes we are.
[X] Any big events happen recently? / Inquiry using information gleaned from previous question.
Does she know about the evil tainted youkai wrecking shit in the border? Has anything caused more conflict between the travelers and tengu recently?

Hopefully won't take longer than a minute if we're quick. She seems to be quite succinct at the moment.
>> No. 167427
>>167424
Sai just straight up said that he won't touch the artifact, so why are you trying to steal it?


If we have a limited amount of time, we want to ask as few useless questions as possible. We also have to ask questions that are safe enough to slip under her guard, but ones that also give useful information.
"Who are you and why are you trying to kill me?", perhaps even letting out a theatrical sigh and starting the question with "So..." to emphasize how low we're setting the bar (to start with) is a good start. And it eliminates the question "why are you here?", too. We can get the answer to that from the reason she attacked Sai.
If she's been specifically ordered to kill him, we know why she's here. If she's trying to kill him to support the sniper, we know why she's here. If she's just bored and passing by, we know why she's here.

And from the answer to that question, there are also some extra information to gleam. If she's supporting the sniper, we know that she's from, or at least connected to, the fourth faction. The factions currently being Travellers, tengu, Nue's group and the sniper's group (which may or may not be connected to the Travellers, but I'm going to assume it's a separate faction for now). If she's here specifically kill Sai, she is more likely to be connected to Yukari who may or may not be a fifth faction in this giant fustercluck.

Asking who she works for or why someone wants him/Nue dead (here to kill him/here to support the sniper) should be okay, but I'm not sure how useful that info will be.
Regarding numbers of factions, and who's fighting who, we can get such basic information from Nue and/or her group, especially since we have a way in through Kogasa.


...Sigh. This is why I didn't want to interrogate her. Interrogation require that you have some way of coercing people into speaking when you touch on a subject that they don't like. All we have is a bluff, and as soon as it's called we're done. We can't really push her to get the juicy bits, because she'll just clam up and that's it. And everything else is things we can likely get through other routes.
>> No. 167428
Would it be possible to ask one or two questions at a time each update, and stretch the interrogation over multiple updates? If we've got a limited amount of time, then we would likely want to alter our line of questioning in line with new information.

In any case, I think we ought to leave out asking who she is, if only because doing so will make us seem more knowledgeable than we are as opposed to degrading our position of apparent strength, and because we can simply query one of our allies later if they know of any time-stopping maids. So we could perhaps begin with
[X] Why she tried to kill us.
>> No. 167429
>>167427

So yeah, that puts my questions at:
[X] Who are you and why are you trying to kill me?
and depending on the answer to that (here to kill Sai vs protecting the sniper) the follow-up will be
-[X] Who wants me/Nue dead and why?
>> No. 167430
>>167428
I was also thinking about this. The interrogation will shift wildly off course depending on the information we get from each question.

I considered not asking who she is, but in the end I decided that starting out ridiculously low is a good way of getting her to relax her guard for the big questions. Even if we have limited time, we'll lose it all if we try to go for the big ones immediately.
Which means that the starting questions of her identity, relation to the war, and reasons for being here are pretty much given.

Besides, if she just gives her name, Sai could counter with "that's not what I meant and you know it!" and push her for some more detailed information about her faction and it's relation to the various other factions/to him.
And as a bonus, we also get her name. May or may not be useful information, but it's information nonetheless.
>> No. 167450
>Why did you try to kill me?
Did you guys forget Sai disintegrated half of a building before she showed up? She probably mistook him for a youkai attacking the village.

[X] Name, rank, superior
[X] Who is the sniper?

This will determine if she's connected with the sniper. If she is, or doesn't answer:
[X] If you care about this village, why are you protecting someone who's bent on destroying it?
>> No. 167451
Monikano in the OP? Attention: grabbed.
>> No. 167455
>>167450
This guy has the right of it
[X] Who is the sniper?
[X] Name, rank, superior

In that order
and then
[X] If you care about this village, why are you protecting someone who's bent on destroying it?
>> No. 167464
[x] >>167450
>> No. 167472
>>167450
She must have already been around before the disintegration.
Otherwise her timing for trying to time-bubble him was too fast. Not even seconds after he dusted the building, she was already attacking him.
Sai disintegrated a building (standard action to cast, duration instantaneous. So that took roughly 3 seconds), spent the time it takes to think a single thought to block the teleport spell (swift action, most likely, if not a free action) and before he could take his next action, time goes all wrong.
That's less than one round from start to finish. In other words, not even five seconds.

Reacting fast enough to attack him in that time span is not "I just showed up and oh my god, what going on?", not by a long shot.
She was already there, meaning she must've had some idea of what was going on, meaning she knows SOMETHING.
She probably doesn't know (or realize) who he really is, but she's not mistaking him for some random youkai on a rampage.
>> No. 167559
holy crap I am really bad at remembering to post previous thread links in the OP

Thread 1: >>153744
Thread 2: >>155091
Thread 3: >>158584
Thread 4: >>162964
Thread 5: >>164210

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

ATTENTION: A decent sum of cash dropped its way into my lap and at length I came up with an incredibly odd idea that isn't moar vidya gaems.

I'd like to commission a drawing of some scene from what I've written. I'm considering it a down-payment on me being motivated to continue writing this thing until its conclusion.

Unfortunately, I have a few problems.

1. I have no idea where to even begin hunting for an artist or how to ask for one, and randomly trawling through sites like deviantart makes me uneasy.
2. I have no idea how much this sort of thing might cost me - I have some money, but hardly multiple hundreds. I have about a hundred floating around, and I wouldn't be adverse to digging out another hundred or so out of my own wallet.
3. I have no idea what scene I'd like drawn.
4. I have no idea how to even portray Sai (I guess I could do a POV to avoid the brunt of this issue.)
5. This whole thing seems rather narcissistic and I'm afraid of how it'll appear if I actually go through with it.

If you guys could assist me on each of these points, that would be excellent, and much appreciated.

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

Votes called. Pic relatedI literally cannot find another tasteful, non-compromising position of Sakuya in chains.. Writing now. Please wait warmly~
>> No. 167567
The only artist I know of is mainly good at cute things.... that and he has a sizable backlog (and sizable like Komachi or Ran's chest)
>> No. 167624
1. I've already randomly trawled around deviantart a bit, so I could check some of the artists I follow if they do commission work and then you can decide if you like their style and/or prices.
2. I've never actually bothered looking for something to have commissioned (since I'm dirt poor), but see 1. If they do take commissions, it shouldn't be too hard to find out what it costs.
3. & 4. This is all up to you. Since you're the one getting it and paying for it, it's not really something for us to decide. (I guess you could take suggestions, at least, but I wouldn't know where to start with either of them. Too much awesome going on already.)
5. It's not. Don't worry.
>> No. 167818
RESULTS

[X] Who are you?
[X] Why are you trying to kill me?
[X] Who is the sniper?

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

You set your jaw and glare down at her. “Tell me who you are.”

“A woman,” she replies tartly.

“More specific, if you please.”

“Why should I – “

You snap your fingers – with an impossibly deep poom as a miniature orb of force pops inside your palm. “Please. Your name, to start with.”

She twists her mouth a bit. “Sakuya Izayoi.”

“Next, your occupation.”

“… a servant.” Getting exact details out of her is like pulling teeth.

“And who do you serve?” She bites her lip, simply staring up at you hatefully. “Is it Yukari?”

Her baleful expression is replaced by one of surprise, but not at being found out – rather, it’s the disbelief of hearing something so completely and obviously wrong that gets a reaction out of her. “What?! No! Anyone but that conniving bitch.”

That gets your attention. “That’s a rude name to call someone.”

“A rude name for a rude person,” she maintains.

“What kind of rudeness are we talking about?”

She snorts in an incredibly unfeminine gesture. “At least all the other people trying to get you into their pocket admit that they’re asking for your support over that of the others. The Buddhists. The Taoists.” You don’t recognize those names, but you start taking mental notes. “The Moriya gods, the tengu, the villagers – the Travelers.” She hesitated a bit on the last name. You wonder just what they did to warrant that. “But Lady Yukari simply acts as if she’s entitled to your loyalty.”

“How so?”

“Unsubtly.”

“… go on.”

“I prepared a tray for afternoon tea. Between me placing the cover on the cart and taking it to – my mistress,” she substitutes at the last second, “she replaced all the food with a note asking if I would be so kind as to donate – something irreplaceable.”

There’s something. “Is that the artifact you have?”

Fear makes her blink wildly a few times in quick succession. “If you try and – “

“I’m not interested. That thing is a ticking timebomb,” you state quite honestly. “Not that I don’t think it wouldn’t be a useful tool, but I’m not looking right now.” If you took it from her, you haven’t the faintest clue what might happen. Who knows what kind of internal defenses it has, or what kinds of disasters might happen if you misfire it? Maybe you’ll be frozen in time forever, or maybe you’ll be sent somewhen else, or maybe – a lot of things. Time manipulation is scary business, and you have more important matters to attend to, like this interrogation. “I’ll take it you told her no, given the current situation.”

“I told her to go to Hell,” she readily agrees.

“Did you get the tea back?” you joke, seeking to catch her off guard.

She frowns at the light-hearted question, unsure if it would be better for her to laugh or not. “… that’s not relevant,” she mumbles. Oh, so now she thinks she should shut her mouth.

You decide to let it slide, though, and press on with her identity. “So who do you serve?”

“A far more charismatic woman than Yukari, and that’s all you’ll get out of me,” she says, flushing a bit. It seems that her service is a matter of pride for her, if she’s going to emphasize those positive qualities.

You don’t know the figures of power of any of those factions – well, you know two from the tengu and Travelers who Nue engaged, but none of the rest. She did hesitate on the word Travelers… “Is she a Traveler?”

She twists her mouth in a strange expression. “Hardly. She came from the Outside long before they did… practically a native by now.”

Might as well try and get a bearing on that date. “And when did you begin serving her?”

“… unimportant.” There’s that stony face again. Fair enough. It really is of no importance.

“Those blades of yours hurt quite a bit,” you suddenly comment, your voice slightly louder than before as you change the subject. You stare down at your body and pat the front of your robe as if making sure all your organs are there. Not that you have any. The attack did disrupt your manifestation a bit, but nothing fatal.

“I hope they did,” she grunts in assent.

“What was your purpose?”

“To slow you down. Well, I thought I might stop you,” she corrects herself, “but you took them awfully well.”

“You mean you thought you would kill me,” you correct her. “Awfully rude action, for someone you just met.”

“You don’t meet on a battlefield,” she spits at you. “What are you, crazy?”

“It wasn’t a battlefield,” you say icily. “Battles are between cleanly defined sides… you don’t know exactly who I represent, do you?”

She turns a faint shade of red. “You were blasting the village apart, and not in any haphazard way, either. Precise. Like you had a purpose. There are wounded scattered in the street.”

“Wounded?” You cross your arms, unimpressed. “Tell me, how does your leg feel? How are your ribs?”

“You shattered them,” she spits. “They hurt. A lot.”

You grunt in disbelief, then uncross your arms to swiftly several of the rings around the areas you struck. “Try breathing, and moving that leg, then tell me what you think again.”

She glares at you, then shifts a bit while taking in a deep breath. She lets out a premature hiss of pain that swiftly stops when she realizes that there’s nothing more than a dull numbness. The Hakurei’s spellcard is truly a miracle – it emulated the pain and debilitating effects without ever actually inflicting real physical harm on her.

“At least I know how to restrain myself,” you say, intentionally being as condescending as possible. “Whereas you meant to kill with those blades. Only one of us knows to follow the spellcard system here, it seems. Ha!” You toss your head back with a humorless bark of laughter, seeking to shame and humiliate her.

“Those people,” she murmurs, grasping at straws to find justification for her actions.

“Merely unconscious. They’ll wake up sore and with headaches, but nothing a good day’s rest won’t solve.”

“Then – what were you doing destroying that building?” she splutters. “And there’s damage all over the village too!”

“The village’s damage is collateral damage from an earlier combat – and from what I’ve heard, fights on that scale aren’t unheard of.” You recall a tidbit of info – that the Hakurei and a friend had once gotten into a duel over where to eat a meal –

Ran.

An iron band far tighter than any of those around Sakuya clamps itself over your chest, not budging in the slightest even when you take a massive breath inwards to try and disturb it. No. This is hardly a time to sit down and angst.

“Was the building I was destroying vital to this village’s infrastructure in any way? It didn’t seem like it to me.”

“… just offices and administration.” she admits, closing her eyes again. “Day to day affairs. Nothing like a water supply.”

You scoff slightly. “You’re right that I had a purpose, but destruction was merely a means to an end.”

“And what end is that?”

You open your mouth to answer, then close it. “I’ll tell you when I think I can trust you to not ventilate me. Again, why were you trying to kill me?”

She bites her lip until it draws the slightest drop of blood. “Someone needed me,” she says vaguely.

“Oh. And who might that someone be?”

“Like I’d tell you!” she snarls, suddenly fierce.

“It’s not like I need the name. No. More importantly – why are you interested in killing someone trying to keep the peace?”

She blinks. “What?”

You stand up from your kneeling position with a stomp of frustration. “Woman, have you been paying any attention to what’s just happening? At all?”

A look of sheepishness crawls across her face. “Um. I… just got here.”

You consider the plausibility of that fact. Given that artifact… it’s entirely possible it makes her capable of rapid travel. “And your first response is to assassinate some who you merely think is without even announcing yourself?”

“Then what are you doing?” she scowls right back.

You sneer in response. It’s an expression of derision so ugly it cuts her next complaint off. “So now you’re interested? Talk about shoot first, ask questions later!”

“My situation is urgent!” she cries right back at you. “If you’re not here for any purpose, as you say, then prove it! Prove it so I can go!”

Your eyes practically bulge out at the presumption in that request. “What do I need to prove to you? You’re the one who needs to prove their trustworthiness, and after what you’ve done I’m inclined to just knock you out cold and carry on about my business.”

She bites her lip. “No – no, don’t do that. I need to go. Please.”

“So now we’re begging?” You tilt your head, taunting her further. “That was awfully quick of you. If we weren’t in this bubble, I’d just guess that you were stalling for time.”

She takes a deep breath, then releases it. Two breaths, then three. “A very close friend of mine is in mortal peril,” she says in a low voice. “She signaled me across the Border, that she needed me as soon as possible.”

You think. “Mortal peril” certainly describes the sniper’s situation quite accurately, but that person is taking obvious pains to remain anonymous with their bulky full-body clothing and full-head mask. If you had gotten closer, your blindsense would let you see through that mask and trace every line and curve of their body to identify them even without the face, but Sakuya had stopped you before you were able to get in range. “Let me ask you a question.”

“Of course. I’ll answer. Anything.”

“Is this friend of yours… does she have anything against the peace in this town?”

She shakes her head so furiously you think she might burst out of her restraints. “No. Absolutely not. She’s the nicest, most caring woman I’ve ever known. A patient gardener, an understanding friend, even a loving mother – “

You raise a hand to wave off the list of praise, but that last line makes you pause for a second. That… says a lot. But it’s hardly enough to free her friend of guilt off the cuff. Besides, family members are extremely good blackmail material…

“Well, Sakuya. Outside this bubble, there is a person of unknown identity. She just tried to kill a friend of my companion up there,” you say, pointing a finger upwards at Kogasa. “Twice. Now, would you know anything about that?”

Again, the frantic headshaking. “No – now just let me go! I have to help her!”

“Your artifact there says that we have time to talk,” you reply flatly.

“Fine. Fine!” she cries. “Just make it quick.”

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

CHOOSE YOUR CONTINUATION OF QUESTIONING

[ ] Write-in.
[ ] Make some demands?
-[ ] Release her if the demands can be met.

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

>>167624

Well, I’ll think about putting up a vote then. After mulling on the idea for a while, I’ve come to some conclusion about some of the scenes I’d like done.

Could I have those artists’ names/pages/etc.? You can either dump it here or catch me on the IRC, I’m basically always on it, even if I’m not at the keyboard.
>> No. 167819
There's not much else I can think of asking besides 'How the hell is gardener in mortal peril? That's as ridiculous as a city in the bottom of the ocean!' and even that would just be a pathetic attempt at avoiding railroading.

I'll just wait for a wiser anon.
>> No. 167822
It's kind of tempting to demand to go with her, if possible, but feels a bit too much like metagaming.
>> No. 167824
[X] Force her to help capture the sniper.

Gardeners are easily replaced anyway.
>> No. 167826
We need information. We have a mildly cooperative source.

We know of a taint incursion, but with no relevant details. We have now someone who may or may not have information.

She has already let slip a way to get the information we need.

[write in]Tell us what is happening, as completely as possible. Depending on certain factors, we will aid your friend as best as we are able. Regardless, you will be released.
>> No. 167827
[x] Remember to ask Kogasa if she know who the fuck is this woman.
[x] Do you know whom that woman (The sniper) could be?
[x] Do you have any idea who has something to gain by making this conflict worse? (the most likely reason for someone to kill Nue) Your master perhaps?
[x] Make some demands?
-[x] Ask her to help you capture and incapacitate the sniper and give it to Nue for interrogation.
[x] Release her if the demands can be met.
--[x] And help her with her problem as 'compensation'
>> No. 167828
>>167827
'Compensation' being 'to keep an eye on her' of course.
>> No. 167839
[x] Ask her if she knows the identity of the sniper.
-[x] Demand she makes only mentions Kogasa's resurrection and the damage to the village.
--[x] Release her on these demands,if you have nothing else of note to do, consider following her after capturing the sniper. Making a potential ally here via benevolence may come in handy, especially as she already dislikes Yukari.
[x] Mental note: Ask Kogasa about her at a convenient time.

No need to push her too hard, and we don't need the help to catch the sniper. We have a name and an identifying power, that should be enough to gather info with later so there's little else we can get from her now.
>> No. 167851
[x]Tell us what is happening, as completely as possible. Depending on certain factors, we will aid your friend as best as we are able. Regardless, you will be released.

Whatever is going on is a bigger problem than someone provoked by Sai's stunt.

Also Balista, try to get PMs working again, it'd be easier to talk
>> No. 167904
[x]Tell us what is happening, as completely as possible. Depending on certain factors, we will aid your friend as best as we are able. Regardless, you will be released.

Doesn't hurt to get info and an extra, even if not ally, at least friendly enemy.
>> No. 167916
[X]Is there some sort of limitation on the time stop hax that is making her rush?
-[X]If not, get her to tell us what is happening; we might decide to help.
>> No. 168142
>patient gardener, an understanding friend, even a loving mother

Oh snap.
>> No. 168144
>>168142
you realize this just now? Goddamn it's not even summer yet and /th/'s taking levels in dumbass.
>> No. 168180
[x]Tell us what is happening, as completely as possible. Depending on certain factors, we will aid your friend as best as we are able. Regardless, you will be released.
>> No. 168183
[x]Tell us what is happening, as completely as possible. Depending on certain factors, we will aid your friend as best as we are able. Regardless, you will be released.
>> No. 168367
Just did a little rereading, noticed a couple things.

Almost immediately before going after the sniper, we cloaked ourselves and Kaguya with both illusions and her uniquely effective stealth. Now, admittedly we tossed off a few disintegrates after that, but those certainly wouldn't negate that much stealth from an illusionist of our caliber. Sakuya saw right through all of it; she must have absurdly good perceptive/divinatory abilities.

A suspicious mind might conjecture that the situation in the Village boiling over into lethal violence at almost exactly the same time that a Tainted party penetrates the Border is too coincidental to be two entirely independent events. If that's so, then it's likely that either the Tainted attacker instigated this, or the two sides of the dispute here were waiting for the same enforcers who would normally keep order here to be gone- just like they currently are with the Border problems. The combatants seemed somewhat surprised at how much they were getting away with, but it still seems likely that someone had eyes on the law to give them the go order.

Anyway, two potentially devastating, potentially lethal problems have already shown themselves in very close sequence. Twice can be coincidence, but three times is enemy action, as they say; if Sakuya's friend is as sweet as she claims then it's a very good bet that this "mortal danger" is her being tangled up in either the factional warfare, the Taint assault, or both. A couple probing questions would likely suffice to determine which one. Certainly, it would be worth finding out who and where this friend is, and what method of contact was used.

Also, regardless of how this ends, I'd like to establish a potential method of contact. We're certainly not friends with Sakuya, but if a warrior who can stop time and a staggeringly powerful archmage can't potentially have an effective business relationship, who can? If Sakuya dislikes Yukari that much we might even be able to call on her for some form of assistance if Yukari acts against us. Worth a shot, at least.
>> No. 168374
>>168367
>Implying said Friend isn't Meiling.
>> No. 168397
>>168367
Not to spoil your party, but, like >>168374 said, said friend is Meiling and it is already too late for her anyway.
If I voted for that option, is because it will point him in the right direction: her daughter.
(even though basic story writing indicates that their meeting will be delayed as long as realistically possible)
>> No. 168430
>>168374
>>168397
I know it's Meiling, but obviously that information is out of character and can't be used when determining our actions right now. It's nice to have reasonable logic paths which can guide us to useful results without breaking character.
>> No. 168431
>>168430
Doesn't have to be ooc to let her go.
Sai has heart, he's proven that much in previous thread.
Not to mention Sakuya has ceased to be a threat. We have her at our mercy and continuing to question her makes no sense when we can always get more info elsewhere.
If nothing else, the enemy of my enemy is my friend. We can have... Business relations with Sakuya, can we not?

[x]Tell us what is happening, as completely as possible. Depending on certain factors, we will aid your friend as best as we are able. Regardless, you will be released.

*cough* Time to save our daughter once we deal with this crowd. (Hey, following Sakuya makes sense. We need to leave the village anyway)
>> No. 168622
Sorry for the delay. End of semester moving shenanananaigans took up a lot of my time.

Votes called. Pic related. Writing now. Please wait warmly~
>> No. 168626
>>168622
>pic related

Bad news, I gather?
>> No. 168754
Alright, mates, I'm going to be sequestered in merry China for the next 3 weeks. Pic tangentially related.

I will most likely not have steady internet access. However, I SHOULD have a large amount of free time to sit on my ass and peck away at my keyboard.

What do?

[ ] Time stop. Pause updates if the normal flow of votes cannot be counted, and use the time to write sidestories, brainstorm, and so on.

[ ] Celerity. Blaze a huge swathe ahead in the story, and bring it back once I regain a connection.
>> No. 168755
[x] Time stop. Pause updates if the normal flow of votes cannot be counted, and use the time to write sidestories, brainstorm, and so on.

I heard you like that Wriggle story in /forest/. Things might be getting interesting in that soon.
>> No. 168757
[x] Time stop. Pause updates if the normal flow of votes cannot be counted, and use the time to write sidestories, brainstorm, and so on.

You can use the time to flesh out the world or other small things that Sai isn't a part of. You've changed gensokyo drastically so you should have plenty of material to work from.
>> No. 168758
>>168754
[ ] Celerity. Blaze a huge swathe ahead in the story, and bring it back once I regain a connection.

Because diversity of votes and isn't this the same as planning, in a way?
>> No. 168759
[x] Time stop. Pause updates if the normal flow of votes cannot be counted, and use the time to write sidestories, brainstorm, and so on.

We're used to stories disappearing for various periods of time around here.
Better to just take it easy and prepare for something grand when you return than try to rush something out and it turns out half-assed instead.
>> No. 168761
[ ] Celerity. Blaze a huge swathe ahead in the story, and bring it back once I regain a connection.

Update this dammit. The suspense is killing me.
>> No. 168762
[x] Celerity. Blaze a huge swathe ahead in the story, and bring it back once I regain a connection.
>> No. 168763
>>168761
This doesn't mean you'll get he next update sooner, rather it'll just be bigger or such while the side stuff gets pushed back yet again.
>> No. 168764
>>168763
Sounds good.

[x] Celerity. Blaze a huge swathe ahead in the story, and bring it back once I regain a connection.
>> No. 168765
[X] Time stop. Pause updates if the normal flow of votes cannot be counted, and use the time to write sidestories, brainstorm, and so on.

Rather than a massive wall, I'd like to see more side stories. Also, you're three months late with the promised Valentine's day doll sex scene.
>> No. 168784
>>168754
[x] Time stop

It's regretful that the main storyline wouldn't move forward, but I'd like to be able to actually make choices and guide what's going on. A sidestory or two wouldn't go at all amiss, or even a bit of the main storyline that isn't incredibly time-dependent but can still be treated as canon; maybe a dream sequence or something about Kogasa's past, as a result of the mind meld? Another glance into what other characters have been doing during the timeskip? Anything that adds characterization and depth to the world and characters in it without being chock full of plot-critical information, really.
>> No. 168790
>>168759

>rush
>three weeks with nothing to do but write

Not sure what you're getting at here, mate.

>>168757

Quite true. I've got a few ideas. A mixed group of kappa, Travelers, and villagers in a workshop discussing varying tech levels of the Outside, the Old World (the Traveler's now defunct home plane - come to think of it this might be the first time I've referred to it as such here), and the Gensokyo; a tengu eschewing his arranged marriage and being shunned by the clan to follow his own heart; a tense, terse conference between the Travelers and tengu, with attempted mediation by the religious powers in the village; a cursed princeling finding a new place to settle down in the Moriya shrine.

>>168761

Don't worry, you'll get your regular update... eventually.

>>168765

Pic related.

Welp, I depart in less than three hours. I might get some short snippets in the airports but I'm unlikely to get any meaningful connection once settling down in China for the stint. Looking to get some huge work done on the plane - maybe I'll be fortunate enough to bring you some of it soon.
>> No. 168798
[x] Celerity
THIS!
>> No. 168804
[X] Celerity. Blaze a huge swathe ahead in the story, and bring it back once I regain a connection.
>> No. 168807
>>168790
Is the same true for the side material? It's bad enough that it'll get put off due to people voting for stuff that won't be coming for weeks anyways.

Then again that's an issue with many story: not enough world-building. Just PlotplotplotFastTravelplotplotplot.
>> No. 168957
Greetings from merry China. I found a connection, but accessing it will be transient at best.

Seeing as it's 5-6, I think I'll just call it for "be industrious". I'm 1.5K into the next main story update, 1.5K into an expository short set in a Moriya-commissioned workshop, and 7K into the "Valentine's" "short".

which is supposed to build up to a threesome

and Shanghai hasn't even walked into the room yet

holy shit you fagets better be satisfied when this thing is done

pic related, it's how I feel about this thing right now
>> No. 169067
Since this scene is falling nicely into a three part format, I decided to post up the first part already.

>>/at/30855
>> No. 169080
>>169067

Holy Hell, that's, that's, ಠ_ಠ
So you really do like to write, never expected so much for smut.
>> No. 169098
>>169080
He's a wordy son of a bitch.
>> No. 170153
>>169098
And some how, Hourai has yet to appear and this is barely a third of the way through. Dammit Balista. Moar dolls. And Moar tainted bonds.
>> No. 171584
So is this dead?
>> No. 171585
>>171584
No he's just busy with stuff.
>> No. 172564
I never stopped thinking about this story, even as life made it so that writing unmolested became impossible. You'd think that locking your door would mean something these days, but apparently it's a crime against the family now.

This may have been a long hiatus, but it was not an entirely unproductive one. In many ways, it let me reorder, rethink, and refine what I wanted out of this story without the pressure of having to actually produce - yes, I know, that's the most important step, but my life's been weird recently.

But the hiatus is dead now. It's time to make good on the plans I've drawn.

Expect things to get hinky in the next few updates.

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

RESULTS

[x]Tell us what is happening, as completely as possible. Depending on certain factors, we will aid your friend as best as we are able. Regardless, you will be released.

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

“Just start from the beginning,” you say coldly. “Leave out no details.”

Sakuya bites her lip. “That’ll take too long,” she lies, trying to apply normal logic to the absurd environment her artifact and your magic have produced.

“Too long is relative, from what I can tell.” You wave to your time-stopped surroundings. “And you won’t need to worry about boring me.”

“And why should I tell you anything?”

“Because, depending on how cooperative you are, I might decide to help you.” It’s completely true.

She’s silent for a few seconds. Her expression undergoes an interesting series of changes as she blanches, then flushes with embarrassment, only at long length recomposing herself after you

“… Meiling,” she says. A name. “Hong Meiling. Old, old friend of mine. We both work for the same household – underneath my mistress,” she adds. Emphasizing ‘my’ there; she feels possessive of that position somehow. “I’m the head maid, she’s the gardener and the guard.”

“Only one?”

“Alone, she’s more than adequate for the job.”

“Is security not a problem?”

One corner of her mouth rises up in a wistful smile. “We have a regular caller who makes it her hobby to try and sneak past. Marisa Kirisame, the ‘ordinary magician’ who’s anything but.”

“Get to the point, please.”

“When stealth fails, her plan B is to shoot her way out. Namely, she has the power to turn this entire square into a smouldering crater with a single shot.”

You raise an eyebrow. “That sounds irresponsible.”

She winces. “Irresponsible is an understatement. That’s underneath the spellcard system.”

You can’t help but wince as well. Extraordinary indeed. If that’s the kind of force she can output even underneath the planar restraints… “And what becomes of your friend, the guard?”

“She tosses her out onto her ear and tells her to try again, craters and all,” the maid says with an amused smile. “She used to let that rascal through semi-regularly, though, before our head librarian got married. Thought it would be good for that old windbag to see something other than her books.” She frowns. “Marisa didn’t take that news well…”

You let out a small cough, interrupting what’s surely a digression about romantic entanglements. “So what is Meiling, to dispose of magicians of that caliber?”

“An ancient celestial dragon from the Outside, if that’s what you’re asking,” she says a bit awkwardly. “At least a few hundred years old and probably much more, but only stronger for every year that passes – and it’s precisely that reason why I’m so concerned about her. If she had to ask for help…”

The implication hangs thick in the air, so heavy it causes Sakuya’s head to bend low. “… I’m afraid we may be already too late. Even more than that – whatever is capable of defeating her poses a threat to Gensokyo in its entirety.”

You decide to push your luck a bit, and try and find out more about your former captor. “I’m sure Yukari would be more than capable of handling it.”

She spits. “For all that Yukari says she’s handling things here in Gensokyo, she seems to be throttling Gensokyo’s usual incident investigators. Reimu spends more time with that hag in her gaps than she does at her shrine these days, and when Marisa left for greener pastures she didn’t so much as try to dissuade her from leaving. Said some bullshit about ‘people have to follow their hearts’. Youmu prefers to attend to her own mistress in Hakugyokurou – I can’t blame her, not after what happened the first time – and I, to my own, although admittedly no such catastrophe has struck my own workplace.”

You simply nod at each of those points, betraying nothing about your own relationship with the phantom swordswoman. “You’re not about to entrust your friend’s life to Yukari, then. Understandable.”

“Damn straight. Now what else are you going to demand out of me before you let me go?”

You think. “Is there any clue you have as to your friend’s location?”

She purses her lips and shakes her head. “I’ve got nothing. Just that she’s somewhere in Gensokyo. I figure though that if she’s calling for help, it’s something big. A few flyovers should be sufficient.”

“And you’re sure that your friend would have no reason to start attempting to assassinating people here in the village?”

“She’s too honorable to do that. If someone tried to pressure her into doing that, she’d find another way. But she wouldn’t kill someone in cold blood. She’d find another way. Something.”

You’re trusting Sakuya’s word here, but it seems that the sniper isn’t Sakuya’s friend. You’re rapidly running out of things to ask her about. With an affected sigh, you decide to start making your demands. “Then we’ll do that – but a few promises from you, first.” A mental flip of a switch, and the remainder of the bands of steel holding the maid down evaporate without a trace. It’s time to put aside the domineering attitude and be more reasonable.

She takes a moment to stand up onto her feet, rubbing her wrists and straightening her black outfit. Her brow furrows as she attempts to avoid looking straight at you, clearly on her guard about these ‘promises’. “I have my limits.”

“I’m not going to ask for you to do something like assassinate innocents,” you scoff. “No, my requests should be meetable. I will need asylum from Yukari.”

The head maid thinks, but eventually nods. “The mansion is warded against her prying eyes – at least, that’s what Patchy says. Haven’t had another intrusion like the first since, though, so I think can provide that. I’ll take it that you won’t discuss why you need to hide from her?”

“If I told you, you wouldn’t believe me, so I’ll spare us both the time.” Revealing that Yukari is an enemy of yours is a risk, but given her attitude towards the dimension-manipulating hag, you think that’ll actually help your case. “Two, like I said, there’s someone in that building currently fleeing from me, trying to teleport out of here with a magic scroll after a failed attempt on someone’s life.” You point towards the half-disintegrated building. “You are going to help me apprehend him before he can escape.”

“You kept up with me, and you can’t catch him yourself?” she asks. You can see her thinking as to why you might need her to do your own dirty work, about why you might need to avoid incriminating yourself.

“I was, but when you so rudely interrupted me, keeping up with your artifact involved using magic that forces me to repay borrowed time with unconsciousness,” you explain. “Once you drop it, I may be out for a long period of time.”

“May?”

“This has never happened before,” you admit. “I honestly have no idea what’ll happen after we reenter a normal progression of time.”

“You’re trusting me to not take advantage of your vulnerability.”

“You don’t seem like the type to attack people while they’re down, and I do have a companion that will defend me should it come to that. I think I can take that risk.”

“I thought you would be trying to hold all the cards in this deal,” she says. “Awfully trusting of you.”

“Somebody has to trust somebody, and in this case I think the risks are overshadowed by the payoff.” You wave towards the building again. “He’s dressed in concealing clothes; not the slightest bit of revealed skin, and they’re bulky so I don’t even have an idea as to his build. He isn’t dressed like any of the other villagers – you can’t miss him.”

“And after this, you’ll come with me to help find Meiling?” she asks to be sure.

You nod. “No complicating promises or loopholed agreements. Help me, and I’ll help you.”

For once, she smiles, softening her formerly severe expression. “Simple. I like it. Ready, then?”

Another nod, and then the world whooshes around you –

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

– greeting you with a groaning Sakuya and Kogasa crawling on the cobblestones before of you. You shake your head, trying to throw off the last feelings of sluggishness as you try and gauge the situation.

You ping with your blindsense, finding no one immediately around you nor in the building but the two of them. A ping of detect magic, and you can practically taste the still-resounding aftershocks of a teleport away. The sniper is gone.

Immediately, you grab the collars of both indisposed women and haul them upright. They aren’t able to stand steadily on their own two feet, and so you continue holding them up as their heads loll about and their arms dangle limply. You turn your senses inward to investigate Kogasa’s wellbeing, and find that the normal rainbow spectrum of her beams of light are currently colored in hues that you didn’t even think were possible. You have no such insight into Sakuya’s mind, but you imagine it would be similar.

“What happened?” you ask, shaking both of them slightly to try and rouse them out of their respective stupors.

“Banana couch eagle green voodoo?” Sakuya slurs, her eyes rolling in an absolutely fascinating way.

Errrrr.

They seem to have gone completely mad.

But with a little prodding, Kogasa’s mind reorders itself, perhaps stimulated by your own return to consciousness. “Sssssssssorry, Sssssssssssssai,” she whispers. “We got her, alright, but when we unmasssssssssssssked her…”

“What happened?”

“Her eyessssssssssssssssssss. Crazy eyessssssssss. I saw the weirdessssssst thingssssss. Like you never could imagine.” She opens her mind a little further, showing you… something. You’re not entirely sure what to make of it. Filtered through her own rational mind before reaching yours, it’s no longer madness-inducing. Indescribable, that’s for certain, but no longer weaponized. “Ssssssssssshouldn’t have unmassssssked her.”

“Her?”

“I did get one look at her face before everything went purple-sssssssssssmelling.” She tries to grin, but it comes out with one side of her mouth going the wrong way, and it simply ends up looking grotesque. You prompt her to send the memory to you, and she acqueiseces. The woman’s face was twisted with panic and desperation, but you’re sure you could pick her out of a crowd now. Her most prominent feature is a pair of awkwardly-squashed, furred ears on the top of her head, nestled in carefully folded layers of bound-up long purple hair. You absently wonder why she simply didn’t cut it.

You sigh. “What’s done is done. We can find her again later.” You shake Sakuya again, but she simple gibbers a bit and drools.

You’ll need to snap her out of this. Greater restoration? You initially dismiss it for being out of the reach of anyone on this plane, but you’re reminded of that one man at the memorial, the one with Reimu, Alice, and Chen, who wove two greater teleports as easily as breathing. Perhaps the Travelers advanced farther than you thought they might. Or perhaps you could pursue a more specific local remedy, although you’re not sure where to start with that. Either way, though, you made a deal with Sakuya, and you’re not about to abandon her. More specifically, you’re just as concerned about this admittedly ill-defined threat as she is.

… why couldn’t your entrance have been a little simpler?

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

CHOOSE YOUR METHOD OF RESTORING SANITY

[ ] Search for a greater restoration. Stick with what you know works. You can’t be sure that whatever cure the locals will deliver will be reliable, and anyone who can deliver a greater restoration is going to be a Traveler – and you’re sure you can cut a deal with one of them somehow.

[ ] Search for a specific remedy. There may have been that one man, but the company he was keeping makes him unapproachable. It’ll be too difficult to find a specific Traveller cleric, much less one of that level of expertise, in any reasonable timeframe. You’ll take your chances with the locals.
>> No. 172566
[X] Search for a greater restoration. Stick with what you know works. You can’t be sure that whatever cure the locals will deliver will be reliable, and anyone who can deliver a greater restoration is going to be a Traveler – and you’re sure you can cut a deal with one of them somehow.

So Sniper!Reisen got hired/tasked by Yukari to kill us if we showed up? If that is true, she made one hell of a fuck up by mistaking Nue for us and shooting Nue. Or Reisen got involved in this in a another way.

Great to see you return!
>> No. 172567
[x] Search for a specific remedy. There may have been that one man, but the company he was keeping makes him unapproachable. It’ll be too difficult to find a specific Traveller cleric, much less one of that level of expertise, in any reasonable timeframe. You’ll take your chances with the locals.

Hard to say if a Traveler would bother with some natives, especially if they're not quite human. But once again I see how fucked up Gensokyo's gotten.
>> No. 172569
[x] Search for a specific remedy. There may have been that one man, but the company he was keeping makes him unapproachable. It’ll be too difficult to find a specific Traveler cleric, much less one of that level of expertise, in any reasonable time-frame. You’ll take your chances with the locals.

Holy cinnamon spoonful, you're back!
>> No. 172571
[X] Search for a greater restoration. Stick with what you know works. You can’t be sure that whatever cure the locals will deliver will be reliable, and anyone who can deliver a greater restoration is going to be a Traveler – and you’re sure you can cut a deal with one of them somehow.

I fucking squee'd. Welcome back Balista.
>> No. 172572
God fucking damnit. At least her madness eyes are temporary but what the shit.


[x] Search for a specific remedy. There may have been that one man, but the company he was keeping makes him unapproachable. It’ll be too difficult to find a specific Traveller cleric, much less one of that level of expertise, in any reasonable timeframe. You’ll take your chances with the locals.
>> No. 172576
[ ] Search for a specific remedy. There may have been that one man, but the company he was keeping makes him unapproachable. It’ll be too difficult to find a specific Traveller cleric, much less one of that level of expertise, in any reasonable timeframe. You’ll take your chances with the locals.
>> No. 172577
[X] Search for a specific remedy. There may have been that one man, but the company he was keeping makes him unapproachable. It’ll be too difficult to find a specific Traveller cleric, much less one of that level of expertise, in any reasonable timeframe. You’ll take your chances with the locals.

It also gives Sai more experience with the local forms of magic.
>> No. 172579
[X] Search for a greater restoration. Stick with what you know works. You can’t be sure that whatever cure the locals will deliver will be reliable, and anyone who can deliver a greater restoration is going to be a Traveler – and you’re sure you can cut a deal with one of them somehow.

We've bought into Sakuya's confidence, a show of power will help solidify the idea that she made a good deal, and she'll remember us as a person to do right by. Furthermore, I don't think lugging around a crazy girl while trying to get our own problems sorted out is a good idea. We need to start resolving our problems as soon as possible, and that involves not taking on new ones.
>> No. 172580
>>172576
Changing too >>172579
Convinced me. Lets go for it.
>> No. 172582
>>172577
you're misreading the choice, as that goes after a Traveler as it's what Sai's most familiar with.

>>172579
I don't see how that choice does that as I get the feeling most Travelers wouldn't be inclined to help a youkai and a maid of a vampire.
>> No. 172590
>>172582

>you're misreading the choice, as that goes after a Traveler as it's what Sai's most familiar with.

Uh, no, I'm pretty sure that one is going after a native doctor in the village.

For the record, it's not Reisen for obvious reasons, and it's not Eirin because that's not in the village.
>> No. 172602
[X] Search for a greater restoration. Stick with what you know works. You can’t be sure that whatever cure the locals will deliver will be reliable, and anyone who can deliver a greater restoration is going to be a Traveler – and you’re sure you can cut a deal with one of them somehow.

We stick with what we know. Kogasa is lucid enough now so she should be able to recover on her own. We need help for Sakuya though.
And the Travellers shouldn't have too much against her unless they know her personally. Sai, a Traveller, is asking for help for a friend, so I don't see why they shouldn't be able to get help.
>> No. 172603
[X] search for a greater restoration.
>> No. 172611
It's 5 to 5 for greater restoration against local remedies.

For the record, y'all are massive fagets, giving me a tie right after I start updating again.
>> No. 172614
>>172611
Then have a vote for

[X] Search for a greater restoration. Stick with what you know works. You can’t be sure that whatever cure the locals will deliver will be reliable, and anyone who can deliver a greater restoration is going to be a Traveler – and you’re sure you can cut a deal with one of them somehow.
>> No. 172617
[X] Search for a specific remedy. There may have been that one man, but the company he was keeping makes him unapproachable. It’ll be too difficult to find a specific Traveller cleric, much less one of that level of expertise, in any reasonable timeframe. You’ll take your chances with the locals.

Sorry, but I doubt there's much chance of finding a cleric that can cast 7th level spells. Sai curb stomped an archmage who was treated as a leader, and her best spell was 6th level. The lone traveler that could double teleport may be exceptional. And we haven't seen any Traveler clerics in action, so there's no information that they're as capable in Gensokyo as they were in their home plane.

>>172566
>So Sniper!Reisen got hired/tasked by Yukari to kill us if we showed up?
That's a bit of a stretch. As far as Yukari knows, Sai should be dead. Err, the second time, not the first. Also doesn't explain why she kept shooting at Nue after she was revealed as not being the Shadow. Sounds more like Nue was the target all along.
>> No. 172618
>>172590
My bad, I must have gotten mixed up, my apologies.

I can see why some writers would like comments: to prevent votes from blurring.

>>172617
I get the feeling she was there to do something no related to Sai it's just that Nue (then Sai) got in the way.
>> No. 172625
[X] Search for a greater restoration. Stick with what you know works. You can’t be sure that whatever cure the locals will deliver will be reliable, and anyone who can deliver a greater restoration is going to be a Traveler – and you’re sure you can cut a deal with one of them somehow.

Pff, specific remedy.
>> No. 172626
>>172579
I gotta say I feel like a dumbass right now. I thought WE were gonna cast the restoration. Now that I re-read the thing, and its actually NOT us, well, my entire post doesn't make sense anymore.
>> No. 172627
>>172625
hopefully whoever does know it doesn't discriminate against non-humans or were you not even think of that angle?
>> No. 172628
Y'know I was so annoyed at the second return of the dreaded tie I almost considered retconning 10 levels of Ur-Priest into Sai's build just so he can cast a bloody greater restoration himself.

Votes called. Pic related. Writing now. Please wait warmly~
>> No. 172629
I hope we'll get more of the Travelers' viewpoints. I want there to be balance between their viewpoint and the natives' viewpoint because so far, they're more like a villain than anything.
>> No. 172636
>>172629
I'm hoping going for a Traveler healer doesn't end up alienating us with the locals.
>> No. 172638
>greater restoration
Why use this? You can cure effects like insanity and feeblemind with a heal spell. Going all the way to greater restoration likely won't be necessary, and means both convincing someone to burn XP and finding someone who can cast 7th-level spells instead of just 6th-level.

But I suppose that if we find a powerful cleric, they'll be able to tell us that anyway.
>> No. 172641
>>172638
Still means finding a reasonably high level cleric.
Same thing in the end.
>> No. 172643
>>172638

>heal
>cures insanity

eh wot

>check d20srd
>insanity is on the list

welp

See I was thinking to treat insanity like an ability penalty, which isn't actually cured by heal because it isn't ability damage, it's a penalty - heal is not supposed to remove the effects of a ray of enfeeblement, for example. Trust me to remember that odd detail and not realize that insanity is one of the things on the list fixed by heal.

Alternatively we can go with the logic that heal only counters insanity as per the specific 7th level spell effect, which is not what Sakuya and Kogasa were hit with - Sai would recognize that much.
>> No. 172651
>>172643
Well, as >>172641 points out, it doesn't really matter unless whatever cleric Sai finds is either capable of casting 6th level but not 7th level spells, or is inclined to make a stink about losing 500 XP.

Either of your explanations can work, or maybe Sai just isn't an expert in diagnosing specific magical maladies and is inclined to use the biggest clerical gun when it comes to blasting away unknown health problems. That seems like a habit it wouldn't have been at all unreasonable for him to develop, considering his background.
>> No. 172676
>>172651
Medical visits in D&D is usually along the lines of "Hey cleric! This person is suffering from X of the Y. Fix it!", anyway.

You've been stabbed. Cleric fixes it.
You've gone insane. Cleric fixes it.
You're missing an arm. Cleric fixes it.
You've been drained by a vampire, re-killed and your ashes scattered to the winds. Cleric fixes it. But it's not cheap.
You've been petrified. Cleric can't fix it. You're fucked. Cleric calls in a wizard to fix it.
>> No. 172706
>>172676
>You've been petrified.
The cleric can still fix it.
Break enchantment can remove petrification due to a flesh to stone effect or any other transmutation, enchantment, or curse. It's a 5th level core cleric spell at that.
>> No. 172710
I think its important to note that high level clerics are exceedingly rare. I forget the exact numbers, but its something like most clerics are lvl 2-3, and a lvl 7 cleric would be the head of a major church.

Not everyone goes out and grinds xp.
>> No. 172712
>>172710
According to the numbers at Paizo (for Pathfinder, a.k.a. "D&D 3.75"), in order to reasonably have access to 5th level spells at all you'd have to have at least a large town with 2000-5000 inhabitants. For it not to be unreasonable to expect to find 6th level spells, you'd need a small city (pop. 5000-10000).

And that's just the minimum size limit for it not to be impossible (or at least extremely difficult) to find someone. After that it depends on whether or not they're actually available and willing to help. The very few 5th level casters in a town of 5000 inhabitants probably have a waiting list piled up to rougly the size of Elminster AND his hat.

Of course, with the Travellers being the last survivors of their world, it's not entirely unreasonable to assume that they were the best, most powerful and/or most skilled spellcasters, warriors, rogues, and so on, as the level 1 commoners had no way to survive the shit hitting then fan. Thus it's likely that the level of magic (and other skills) is significantly higher than just the number of inhabitants would suggest.
>> No. 172715
>>172712
It's likely why all sorts of things in Gensokyo are getting screwed up as they're humans actually able to content with most youkai. This combined with a disposition against certain non-humans, the results are what we see here and in Gand's story.
>> No. 174274
So uh, how's it going balista? You haven't caught a bad case of being dead have you?
>> No. 174285
>>174274

IT'S








ALIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIVE

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

RESULTS

[X] Search for a greater restoration. Stick with what you know works. You can’t be sure that whatever cure the locals will deliver will be reliable, and anyone who can deliver a greater restoration is going to be a Traveler – and you’re sure you can cut a deal with one of them somehow.

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

Regardless of where you end up, you need to leave prying eyes as soon as you can.

You glance around once again, both with your “eyes” and your other senses, as you reweave your suite of magical defenses yourself, along with obfuscations around Kogasa and Sakuya as well. You fell out of the maid’s time-stasis without any of your enchantments intact, so you need to confirm that no one spotted you. It’s interesting; it’s not that anything dispelled them, but rather they simply reached the end of their natural lifespans and unraveled without the normal attentive maintenance you perform with one half of your mind. If you had to guess, you just travelled through a space of time some days long in your “unconsciousness”.

Of course, you’re not about to test that theory again. First of all because you’re not the type to try something twice just to see if it happens again for the sake of “science”, and second of all because its current holder isn’t in any state to activate it anyways.

A quick telekinesis lifts Sakuya slightly up into the air, an experience that has her giggle childishly while flailing her arms about. “So what do you plan on doing with her now?” your karakasa familiar asks.

“She’s useless to us as she is,” you start explaining, even as you lift off into the air with your burden in tow. Kogasa flits up and in front of you, eyes curious. “We’re going to have to find her treatment before we can continue.”

“Why do we need her, precisely?”

Oh. Right. When Sakuya had imprisoned you, you’d lost contact with Kogasa outside of it, which only raises more questions: if the two of you are so closely bonded, how come you were still functional after being separated in such a way?

You turn your attentions “inward”, for certain definitions of “inward” – it’s more accurately now partially “outward” as well, for Kogasa’s own mindscape lays within yours as well. It’s… out of sync. There’s no other way to describe it. If your combined inner minds were like the workings of a watch, you’d say that one spring was lagging behind another, the gear only reacting to the cog minutes after the latter pushed. As you watch though, it’s as though her mind is fast-forwarding, racing to bring itself up to speed with the mind that just went through a good many minutes of events without hers.

Just like that, her own bank of knowledge becomes available to you, and you scan it to see if there’s anything in there that might also pertain to curing Sakuya. There’s the crèche for children, with various charms and cantrips for soothing the normal illnesses of infants and toddlers, but you doubt that there’s anything useful for you there…

Even as you rummage around, her eyes go from questioning to understanding. A muscle in her cheek twitches oddly, but seconds later you seem to be back “in sync”, just like before your duel with Sakuya.

“You want to find one of your kind of healers, then.” It’s not a question, but a confirmation of information you both know, now that she’s now back in step with you.

You nod. “Got a suggestion?”

A flash of colors, and you have a name. The Kirisame-Suzunaan Library. It’s the hub of magic study for the entire village now, grown from a merely a repository of knowledge to an active distributor of it. It hadn’t originally started there; it was actually a local witch that had taken up a bet to make a school specifically for magic. Events had conspired for it to rise far higher than she had ever expected. When the Travelers came, many flocked to it for use as a demented cross between a workshop and a guild, expanding it even further.

It’s that last bit that you’re interested in. If you’re to find a casting of greater restoration, you’ll almost certainly find it there.

Before you make it too high, though, Kogasa touches your shoulder. “Wait. Where’s Nue?” she asks, concern in her voice. “We should see her off safely.”

Oh. Right. You were having a conversation with her before you had been interrupted by the tengu, then the sniper, then Sakuya. You roll your clairvoyance around the streets a bit. The crowd is in that strange halfway state, where the people who have been there from the start are leaving with nothing to see and new people are gathering just because of the still-present crowd. Tetsuzan seems to have abandoned his attempt to capture the traveler Archmage after the sniper’s appearance, instead absconding entirely indoors to let his entourage recover; speaking of the Archmage, you “see” her and her own compatriots being snuck away underneath some basic illusions in what’s definitely concerned company, so there’s no need to worry about her either. Hovering above those tending the wounded from the larger struggle earlier are tengu, villagers, and Travelers alike, but they don’t seem to be on guard against each other. The ways how their shoulders are turned, where their attentions are focused, the lack of drawn weapons, and how they’re randomly scattered about without care of proximity to another faction… well, they’re not holding hands and singing hymns, but there seems to be some silent agreement of cooperation, some solidarity.

For her own part, Nue is calmly walking alongside a knot of farmers in the guise of one – you can tell from her aura that it’s her – energetically chatting about the scene as if she had been watching it, and not experiencing it, and from the references to events it sounds as though this is a constructed identity of hers. Swooping down and continuing your earlier conversation would only raise questions at the very least and blow her cover at worst, so you simply dispel the remote sensor, satisfied that she’s safe.

Seconds later, you both alight on the front step of the Library, Sakuya’s giggles during the flight ending with a disappointed groan. You can tell from its haphazard architecture that not a whole lot of thought went into its design. It’s not the tallest building in the village, but it comes close; more unusually, it bulges outward after rising up a few stories, resembling some kind of man-made mushroom, as shops and taverns preventing it from expanding too far outwards on the first story. The central part is clearly generations old, constructed out of nothing but wood and brick, while each expansion, either outwards, upwards, or both, was clearly constructed more recently; some of the most recent construction is so recent you can still sense the traces of wood and stone shapes that helped construct it. The wood, stone, and brick that were used weren’t conjured though, lacking the telltale uniform makeup without so much as a single knot, mineral grain, or air bubble. What draws your eye most, though, is that the topmost spire is constructed entirely of riverine – water trapped between permanent walls of force, an exorbitant expenditure and ostentatious show of wealth. Or perhaps a show of power?

“You’re not going to introduce yourself as the Shadow now, are you?” Kogasa jokes.

“Hardly,” you scoff, but your mind is already going over what other information she has on the people who staff the institution. She doesn’t have too much – a karakasa frankly doesn’t have that much business – but notably, there’s another shapeshifter friend of hers that should be hanging around, if she hasn’t changed her habits at all.

“They gave her… Mamizou… an office, just so she would stop wandering into the labs during testing?” you ask incredulously. Well, you have a name now. “That… seems backwards. Couldn’t they just ask her to leave?”

“She’s close friends with the original owners of the Suzunaan, so no one really dares ask her to leave.”

“And the Travelers?”

“She’s also a magician of great ability, of disguises and illusions. You’d like her!” she beams, clearly eager to introduce her friend to more of her own.

However, you frown until her smile fades. “Wile I’m sure you want to see her again, need I remind you that I’m a fugitive here? And you really shouldn’t go parading about in the open, either. You’re connected with the incident that gave me my bad name, anyways.”

“Sorry,” she mumbles, looking sad.

With a sigh, you reach out and ruffle her hair, taking a moment to marvel at how unnaturally blue it is. “Don’t be. I’ll deal with Yukari eventually, and then we can both walk free again.” It’s not an empty promise, either. Disregarding that it’s impossible to lie to someone literally half of yourself, at this point your feud with the gap-hag is personal.

Ran.

You shake your head until the hurt fades. “Now is not the time, though. We have a debt to repay, and a woman to cure.” The woman in question is now sucking her thumb while staring at the lace on her cuff, apparently hypnotized by the intricate patterns. It’s frankly embarrassing to watch. “Go on.”

“Ahem.” With a small cough to regain her balance, the karakasa continues. “When one of the kappa tinkerers tried to forcibly remove her from the premises, his office disappeared the next day.”

You raise an eyebrow, and she laughs, continuing to explain. “Rather, it had become her. All the documents said it was hers, it had her name on it, the pictures of his family he had put up had all become pictures of her and her friends… as if it had been her office the entire time. The only thing missing was the signature of Kosuzu – the proprietor,” she hastily explains.

You can’t help but smile at her amusement. “What happened then?”

“Oh, when he went to Kosuzu to point out that fact, she rolled her eyes and put her signature down.”

“And so it became official.” Now you’re the one chuckling. “What happened to him?”

“He just threw a desk in the corner of his lab and called it even. He still complains about her, but apparently he’s secretly pleased about always getting to stay near his experiments now.”

You both chortle again, but as Sakuya begins chewing on her cuff, you shift your attention back to the present. “But can she be trusted?” you ask.

Kogasa bites her lip. “She’s a conniving type, I’ll admit… but something as comparatively big as my revival, she’d keep to herself.”

“You’re close enough that you think she can keep that secret, and not sell it to the highest bidder?” You’ve taken the liberty of examining their past. Kogasa met Mamizou through Nue, and the trio together shared an interest in mischief and pranks, and Mamizou is an elder, perhaps even mentor figure to the both of them, but that’s what makes it so suspicious to you; it’s a rather one-sided relationship.

“She holds secrets just to say she has them without lying,” she says with a shrug. “She’s never told me or Nue any of them.”

It’s not a straight answer, though, making you furrow your brow in worry. Well, just how do you plan on getting that casting, now that you’re here?

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

CHOOSE YOUR METHOD OF PROCUREMENT

[ ] Introduce yourself as the Shadow and demand it brought forth before you as tribute. Uh, no.

[ ] Have Kogasa explain the situation to Mamizou in private, and have her procure what you need. You don’t like the idea of Kogasa revealing herself to more people, but Mamizou is a direly needed connection in a very complex social situation. You may as well start using her as a contact now.

[ ] Sneak in and look for a scroll to cast yourself. Your knowledge of magic is wide enough for you to interpret the writing, tap into the stored energy and make the spell work, even if you might not know the exact words and gestures nor have the requisite divine power yourself.
>> No. 174286
[x] Have Kogasa explain the situation to Mamizou in private, and have her procure what you need. You don’t like the idea of Kogasa revealing herself to more people, but Mamizou is a direly needed connection in a very complex social situation. You may as well start using her as a contact now.

It begins once again. Besides, doesn't Nue know who we are? She'd tell it it Mamizou anyway.
>> No. 174287
[x] Have Kogasa explain the situation to Mamizou in private, and have her procure what you need. You don’t like the idea of Kogasa revealing herself to more people, but Mamizou is a direly needed connection in a very complex social situation. You may as well start using her as a contact now.

>it returns
Woooooooo!
>> No. 174289
[x] Have Kogasa explain the situation to Mamizou in private, and have her procure what you need. You don’t like the idea of Kogasa revealing herself to more people, but Mamizou is a direly needed connection in a very complex social situation. You may as well start using her as a contact now.

Frikkin finally!
>> No. 174290
>>174285
>[ ] Sneak in and look for a scroll to cast yourself. Your knowledge of magic is wide enough for you to interpret the writing, tap into the stored energy and make the spell work, even if you might not know the exact words and gestures nor have the requisite divine power yourself.
One "Locate Object" spell and this problem will go away, without any more awkward social entanglements. They might have divination wards, but I doubt it; the primary people they'd end up warding against would be themselves. Fortunately for us, the restoration series of spells is a fairly popular one for scrolls. Everyone knows that if they need it, they're probably not going to want to wait to swap out those slots.

While I understand the impulse to go talk to more people, we have strong reasons to both be subtle and to move quickly here. We've already left much more of a trail than is ideal, and every person that we have to bring up to speed is another lengthy explanation's worth of time lost when we know that there's a potential outbreak of taint around and likely becoming more dangerous by the minute.

Even if we do end up talking to her, I'm inclined to leave out things like "Sai exists" from what we tell her and leave things at "Kogasa is alive and Sakuya needs fixing ASAP, details can wait". May or may not be possible, depending upon just how much pull Kogasa turns out to actually have with Mamizou, but we should at least take a stab at doing things quickly and quietly.
>> No. 174291
[ ] Have Kogasa explain the situation to Mamizou in private, and have her procure what you need. You don’t like the idea of Kogasa revealing herself to more people, but Mamizou is a direly needed connection in a very complex social situation. You may as well start using her as a contact now.

I highly doubt we can full Mamizou in her own domain.
>> No. 174292
Sweet, this is back. I only got back to reading it relatively recently, too.

Anyway, I don't have much definite idea one way or the other, but Mamizou's probably tricky enough to catch us if we go all sneaking mission, not to mention she'll hear about us anyway. Certainly very good at keeping secrets in any case, and I'm pretty sure she's got no motive to do anything crazy with any data we give her. Still, vague is probably good.

[x]the vote with Mamizou in it

By the way, is there a reason we aren't giving everyone we meet a seed of Hope? The stuff grows as time goes on, and as far as I know has absolutely no harmful effects. I can see why we might want consent before sticking our magic into somebody, but surely we should be warning at least the Touhous of the taint-powered incursion and offering to give them the power of life via our totally harmless 'seed' which will grow inside them.

... I probably wouldn't trust me either.
>> No. 174297
>>174292
Also, what's the status with the shield? Does Youmu need it to live now, or can we pick it back up after we meet her again?

Yukari, for all her incredibly evil villainy, may actually have something weird going on, depending. Was that compulsion to face her the shikigami contract? If so nevermind. Otherwise she could easily have made us pull a Lancer rather than tearing the connection.

Speaking of which, I couldn't help but notice we had a bit of Ran inside our mind when the connection broke. She's going to turn out to be living in some corner of our mind, isn't she? Maybe she caused the perspective change towards her for whatever reason. Perhaps because her new self would be purely an enemy and sentiment would only hold us back?

While I'm wildly speculating, it's also pretty odd how Mary asked us for a name and our daughter shows up with that name. Could be simple narrator powers, obviously, but given the stated resemblance between Mary and Yukari, and that only Brainwash!Ran and Yukari would see the baby before it got dropped off at the SDM gates, my current theory is that Mary is some sort of GlaDOS-like component of the mind of Yukari. My guess is that she's the original and at some point she turned herself into or created Yukari somehow, as the common theory tends to go, but there are countless more possibilities. Anyway, after Yukari the youkai came into existence, the human Mary was either trapped in there from the start or eventually became sealed up by her youkai self Yukari, who obviously cannot countenance a possible threat. And that's how Yukari knew what to call the baby when giving it to Meiling. Possibly.

Looking at it like that also brings up an interesting question about Renko possibly being Ran, the ramifications and mechanics of which I'll leave to the reader to speculate since this post has gone on too long already.
Message too long. Click here to view the full text.
>> No. 174298
>>174292

>By the way, is there a reason we aren't giving everyone we meet a seed of Hope?

If you were trying to remain under the radar, would you go around leaving a trace of your trademark magic everywhere you went?

>>174297

>wild mass guessing

hhhehehe

I'm going to say that most of it isn't true.

... mooooooooooost of it.
>> No. 174300
>>174298
>traces
Technically, if everyone in Gensokyo were to have Hope, then it'd be the same as nobody having it. That'd need it all to be applied at the same time though, and I can't help but suspect we don't have Locate City. Plus I think it had to be direct magic anyway.

But yeah I'd rather see us dead and a bunch of people with the ability to potentially stand up to a random taint incursion than have us alive and everything corrupted.

Also dammit I left in the message too long thing when I copied it to fix a typo.
>> No. 174304
[x] Have Kogasa explain the situation to Mamizou in private, and have her procure what you need. You don’t like the idea of Kogasa revealing herself to more people, but Mamizou is a direly needed connection in a very complex social situation. You may as well start using her as a contact now.

Some friendly helpers would be nice, and I doubt Yukari has any notion of Kogasa being associated with him.
>> No. 174311
>>174300
Come to think of it, the question of stealth can probably be overcome with the proper application of magic and magical items.

The two courses I can see should we decide to go down this path are to: one, get everyone hope at the same time, or two, hide the hope as much as possible.

The first one should be doable with a modified version of the locate city bomb, stopping at flash frost and applying some metamagic that converts it to nonlethal damage. Seeing as this would pretty much solve the entire invasion and also requires very specific magic items, this will only ever happen at the climax of the story, if ever.

So a better course of action would be to somehow hide the Hope until it's needed, maybe keeping it in disguised glass thingies that effect you with Hope when you crush them, which we distribute to trustworthy Touhous. But as far as I know we have no idea how to make something like that.

That aside, here is the best place to obtain an Ioun stone hat. Let's look into that.
>> No. 174317
[X] Have Kogasa explain the situation to Mamizou in private, and have her procure what you need. You don’t like the idea of Kogasa revealing herself to more people, but Mamizou is a direly needed connection in a very complex social situation. You may as well start using her as a contact now.

I would like to keep Sai's existence secret, but it is probably impossible. His identity, yes, but existence, no.
I mean, Kogasa has been dead for some time and is suddenly alive again and she shows up with a loopy Sakuya who needs fixing because reasons.
Even a friend would have a hard time accepting a "don't ask" in such a situation.
We can reveal as much as:
He's a powerful Outsider who is friends with Kogasa and he has reasons for not being seen too much in public.
Nothing BAD, he's not evil or anything. Just... Reasons.

Anything more specific than that should wait until we know if, and how far, we can trust her.


>>174311
There is the Cleric spell Imbue With Spell Ability that let's you transfer one of your spells to another creature. It's a 4th level spell, so it can be recreated through Limited Wish (even if it is a prohibited school), if we have to. But considering we could brute force our way through a Greater Restoration without any divine power at all (and it's a level 7 spell), it should be simple enough to create an arcane equivalent for item enchantment purposes.

So basically a small, inconspicous item like a brooch or a simple pendant enchanted with something similar to Imbue With Spell Ability, to give someone that little spark of Hope for them to have a chance to at least escape a confrontation unTainted, even if not win it.
Of course, researching original spells and enchanting items takes time so it's not as if we can just hand them out like candy.


>Ioun stone hat
>Not an entire planetarium of stones of various colors and sizes swirling around your head, because there is no actual maximum cap to the number of Ioun stones you can have

Don't stop until the enemies can claim at least 75% concealment. Total concealment once you have a custom stone that gives you Blindsight.
>> No. 174321
>>174317
Fuck everything I just lost all the things I had typed up just before I was going to hit reply.

Hope is attached to all our magic and spreads to things as long as it inflicts or heals damage, or buffs or debuffs somebody. So we just need a first level arcane buff of some sort, if we're hard up on those we can just use detect magic because no way we don't have that. Assuming we can't just put the Hope in directly.

Also I think we only ended up needing a lesser restoration, and if I recall there's an even lower level divine spell called remove insanity or something that has narrow but titular results.
>> No. 174332
>>174304

>I doubt Yukari has any notion of Kogasa being associated with him.

Kogasa was a casualty at the Battle of Hakugyokurou, aka when Sai brought his Tainted baggage to the Saigyou Ayakashi, corrupted Yuyuko, and sent her on a murderous rampage. There is some connection there. Just saying.

>locate city shenanananaigans
>storing caches of Hope
>granting Hope is an easy process
>item crafting

Errrrrr, not quite. Taint is insidious, attempting to work its way into all it contacts. Hope is quite a bit more restrained.

Jizo granted Ran and Sai Hope with a wiggle of his fingers but he's equivalent to a god and thus cheats outrageously. Youmu carries Hope as a direct result of bonding to part of Sai's (Hope-infused) soul, formerly known as his shield. Maribel "ate" part of Sai to purge the Taint and replace it with Hope, and Renko in turn "ate" part of Maribel, albeit in a completely different sense. Recette is Ran and Sai's daughter, and so has it through blood. Kogasa is part of Sai. Aside from these people, there are no others who have taken in Hope that Sai currently knows of okay Sai doesn't know about Recette yet, but at this point it's only dramatic irony so whatever.

Sai is at a loss as to the best way to spread or "store" Hope, as demonstrated by the scene with Maribel and Renko.

Keep in mind that he's no artificer; even his swiss-army-shield was crafted by Marcus despite its close bond to Sai. Sai does not posses item creation feats at all, so stahp trying to build magical items.

On that note:

>Also, what's the status with the shield? Does Youmu need it to live now, or can we pick it back up after we meet her again?

Sai's shield has essentially made an alloy with the materials of the Hakurouken now. You ain't separating the two without a lot of work and pain, and there's no telling what that'll do to the separated halves. Besides, while the shield was a useful artifact, it's arguably more useful in its current state. You'll get to see how Youmu's gotten comfortable with it very soon. That looks more and more like innuendo the more I look at it.

>That aside, here is the best place to obtain an Ioun stone hat. Let's look into that.

As much as I want to turn the Five Magic Stones into a hat, I honestly can't think of where I would even start with that. I do have an idea for a similar concept, though. I'll run it by you guys when it becomes relevant.

>Limited Wish/Imbue With Spell Ability shenanananigans
>But considering we could brute force our way through a Greater Restoration without any divine power at all (and it's a level 7 spell)

As much as I appreciate the attempts at toolboxing, stahp. (Limited) Wish is specifically not something Sai ever picked up, and the comment about forcing a Greater Restoration was referring to acing the Use Magic Device check on a (pilfered) scroll of it due to 18 levels of skill ranks and massive Charisma.

Anyways, votes will be called within 48 hours, probably closer to 24 since I'm feeling catty. Hell, I might even finish part 2 of Dolls if I'm feeling extra frisky.
>> No. 174336
>>174332
>Dolls
No. one. do. anythin'
>> No. 174339
i
starve for story

[X] Have Kogasa explain the situation to Mamizou in private, and have her procure what you need. You don’t like the idea of Kogasa revealing herself to more people, but Mamizou is a direly needed connection in a very complex social situation. You may as well start using her as a contact now.
>> No. 174341
>>174332
Hey, in my defense, I did say
>Seeing as this would pretty much solve the entire invasion and also requires very specific magic items, this will only ever happen at the climax of the story, if ever.
>But as far as I know we have no idea how to make something like that.
Also I had an "if I understood the explanation correctly" in >>174321 but it got erased.

Was the artifact always going to end up Youmu life support?
>> No. 174346
>>174321
Detect Magic does not actually affect anything but the caster, but there are plenty of other spells to use.
Unfortunately, as Balista just pointed out, Hope is a lot more polite than Taint.
Taint just tags along with whatever it can and spreads like a magical plague, while Hope pretty much has to wait for an invitation.

If we're going for a Restoration, nothing less than a Greater Restoration will restore Feeblemind/Insanity/a.s.o.
Lesser and regular Restoration only restore fatigue/exhaustion, negative levels and ability scores.
(Also, there is no "Remove Insanity" spell in the D&D books. There is Break Enchantment, Remove Curse, the Restoration spells and so on, but no "Remove Insanity".
Maybe in a splatbook somewhere, but not the core rules.)


>>174332
Yeah, I was just discussing the idea of item creation because I was waiting for something important (i.e. updates) to happen.
I'm not exactly sold on the idea of sitting and crafting crap myself even if Sai did have the requisite feats, and I'm the one who looked it up. Because, frankly, that's downtime-work.

Crafting most of the actually useful items takes like a few weeks of 8 hours uninterrupted work per day.
Even just enchanting a +1 weapon takes two whole days of work.
In a magical laboratory.
With no interruptions or distractions.

So, yeah.. Not gonna happen.
>> No. 174347
I'm sort of worried about Recette and Meiling as it seems Sai's taking a rather scenic route about all this.
>> No. 174348
[X] Have Kogasa explain the situation to Mamizou in private, and have her procure what you need. You don't like the idea of Kogasa revealing herself to more people, but Mamizou is a direly needed connection in a very complex social situation. You may as well start using her as a contact now.

We could do a lot worse, really.
>> No. 174351
>>174347

A hero arrives exactly when he is supposed to.

Votes called. Pic related. Writing now. Please wait warmly~
>> No. 174402
RESULTS

[X] Have Kogasa explain the situation to Mamizou in private, and have her procure what you need. You don’t like the idea of Kogasa revealing herself to more people, but Mamizou is a direly needed connection in a very complex social situation. You may as well start using her as a contact now.

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

“I’ll stay under the radar,” you brief your companion as you step behind her, a movement that has her turn her head back towards you in surprise. “If this place is as full of Traveler mages as you tell me, then it’s probably best if I minimize contact. I trust my illusions to hold, but if possible I’d prefer not to show myself even to your friend.”

She glances at you, a bit discomfited by the implication. “So I’ll be talking to Mamizou alone, then? Uh, what should I say?”

“As much of the truth as we dare.” You twist your mouth back and forth in thought, trying to judge the odds of success, but it’s a futile effort; Kogasa’s nonexistent knowledge of Mamizou’s personal motivations and agendas means that you can’t guess as to how she might respond. “We’ll have to put our hope in your friend to not overreact to your resurrection,” you ultimately sigh. “However, we’re also hoping she’ll be off-balance enough by that fact to give us what we need without too much complaint, and without telling the whole world either.”

You cast your senses over the building. The quickest way to fly through the building would be to go incorporeal, but not only would that cause the majority of your concealing illusions to slide off, you’ve got a decidedly solid insane maid in tow. Said maid also means that just you can’t just find a tiny gap to squeeze your projected form through, like a living mage might with gaseous form.

That means having to go through a door like a civilized being. The main door that currently confronts you is a sliding one, currently open wide enough to let two people comfortably walk past each other side-by-side; you can see that it can open as wide as the entire side of the building if need be, although you can’t think of a particularly compelling reason why it would need to. There’s a minor charm on the entire doorway that triggers whenever someone walks through it, superficially just to count the number of visitors… superficially. Underneath it, concealed from casual inspection, is an enchantment actively projects the scene in all five senses somewhere deeper in the building for surveillance purposes. More worrying is the one that simply scans for magical aura strength, setting off a silent alarm if someone over a certain threshold fails to say an appropriate password. Still, though, you don’t even bother feeding it a loop as you usher Kogasa before you. It’s not nearly sophisticated enough to detect the three of you underneath your concealment.

The main lobby is larger on the inside than the outside, excusing the nonsensical exterior architecture to a point, but despite being extradimensional in scope it seems to have only mitigated rather than prevented an organizational crisis. There isn’t a whole lot of open space; unsorted crates of various reagents are stacked at random in corners and against walls, while a few exotic plants and funguses have escaped the confines of their planters and pots and are attempting a revolution against the floor and ceiling. Notably, there aren’t a whole of places to sit down; clearly one isn’t supposed to linger here long. A bewildering number of doorways lead out of the main lobby: stairways up, trapdoors down, large double-doorways that could let entire wagons through, secured portals of varying exotic metals…

“This place wasn’t so big before,” Kogasa whispers in awe. “They really outdid themselves when they said they were going to expand. Everything’s changed.”

Well, so much for hoping she would know exactly where to go.

You cast your innate senses as wide as they can reach, but even when they aren’t running up against solid barriers, the also extra-dimensional lengths of the hallways far outstrip your range. You could try to disguise an arcane eye and begin moving it all about the building, but you’re uncomfortable with deploying a spell far away from your personal illusions where it might run into something you’re not prepared to deal with. What exactly? You can’t say yourself, but when you can float around undetected already, the risk doesn’t seem worth it.

The most logical thing to do, then, would be to look for a map or something similar. The receptionist’s desk seems like a likely place to find something.

You creep towards the center of the room, carefully maneuvering Sakuya’s flailing form around piled boxes and foliage. There are only two other people to avoid, so you don’t have to be too careful: an older man radiating with arcane energies leaning up against the central desk, chatting with the man behind the counter… except he’s not a man, but a giant… lizard?

“… I keep saying, isn’t the name a little egotistical?” the human man wheezes. “Miss Kirisame isn’t even here anymore, keeping her name is in rather bad taste – “

“That is a complaint you will have to address towards the proper authorities to see through,” the receptionist interrupts him. The receptionist is not human nor like any other youkai you’ve currently seen in the village. Where most of them retain a roughly human appearance, this one sits comfortably in the form of a large, long, bipedal lizard, his elongated neck and extended tail making him about as long as a man while still being as tall as one. You can see a hunter in his build, with the sharp talons at the ends of his arms and legs and a large, predatory maw, yet despite this feral appearance he’s dressed in the facsimile of a dress shirt, finishing his contradictory appearance with a pair of spectacles delicately balanced on his snout.

The old mage the saurian-receptionist is currently dealing with wrinkles his brow, apparently stymied. Somehow, you get the impression that he’s one of those bureaucratic types who just can’t let go of something once they’re onto it, worrying at it like a dog with a bone for days on end. “But you just said that in the charter the only person who can change the name is Miss Kirisame – “

“Which is precisely why I will again suggest that if you have qualms about the name of this institution, then find her and bring her back yourself. It would be a great relief for all of us.” You chortle inwardly; even though his voice and tone suggest that he is only interested in this Kirisame woman’s return, the dismissal there is obvious. “Oh, and by the way, there’s been a general meeting called two hours from now in the usual place. Seems that some of your colleagues got themselves into a scrap with the tengu after all.”

“They what?! Damn it all, I said – “ Whatever he had said never becomes apparent, as he breaks off his curses to chant the components of teleport and disappear.

With the desk now clear, you sneak closer. The saurian sighs and rests back on his haunches, reaching for a book. You note that while his claws are wicked sharp, there’s a cantrip keeping them sheathed in bits of force until they resemble fingers in terms of bluntness, allowing him to do finer manual tasks without destroying everything he handles.

Before he can so much as find his old place, though, he’s interrupted. “Futatsuiwa speaking.” A deep alto speaks from underneath the desk. At first the name flies over your head, but then Kogasa nudges your mind – that’s Mamizou’s family name. You start listening more intently now, scanning the desk for the communicator in question.

“Futatsuiwa,” the saurian acknowledges, rising back up onto his feet again.

“There’s an incident occurring.” Her voice has a hard edge to it, one that makes both you and the receptionist straighten even further.

“Shall I contact the usual – “

“They’ve already been contacted,” Mamizou plows on. “Yukari is shutting down the entire Border. This is big.” You blink. It looks like your incursion into Gensokyo is having greater repercussions than you thought.

That, or Maribel and Renko weren’t able to hold for nearly as long as they thought they could.

“I’ll alert the Traveler leadership, then.” His voice is surprisingly level. “Pity you didn’t contact me a few moments ago. Erik was just here.”

“… more than that. No. Not just the Travelers.” In contrast, her voice is becoming more and more tremulous. Unease begins to creep over you as you start tracing the origin of the signal, thus pinpointing the location of her office. You – well, Kogasa – has always known Mamizou to be completely unflappable.

“Futatsuiwa?” It seems the receptionist is having the same reaction, shifting uncomfortably from one clawed foot to the other.

“Get sendings to the tengu, the Taoists, the Buddhists, and the village elders. General alert. Anyone who can fight needs to be mobilized, and ready to fight. And the Sanctum Project?”

“Already? You know that that’s only a prototype – ”

“Start Phase 1. We may need it before the day is done.”

The saurian swallows. “Understood.” His claws toggle a series of controls underneath the desk, and the door you walked in through suddenly slides shut. Other doors leading out of the hallway suddenly shut or even conjure themselves out of thin air, while doors that were already shut are reinforced further with arcane locks and hold portals as well as an array of symbols of everything from pain to revelation, although they seem to draw the line before death. Extra divinations and abjurations activate themselves all over the entire room, sniffing out for possible intruders – like you.

This will make things more difficult.

However, her next words catch your ears. “I’ve called in few personal debts of mine. Send them straight to my office when they get here.”

“How will they identify themselves?”

“You’ll know them when you see them,” she says cryptically. The saurian rolls his eyes, but you see an opportunity there. “Clear them with the standard protocols, I didn’t teach them any of the others. Give them what they need to get to my office.”

“I know those!” Kogasa whispers excitedly from the side. It’s one of those whispers that actually carries farther than a low voice, but fortunately her words are swallowed up long before they ever reach the saurian’s ears.

“Mamizou,” the saurian sighs, suddenly switching to her personal name, “you know that we aren’t supposed to share any of them…”

“And if this situation wasn’t so dire, you would have never known. Consider that.”

“You are a woman of many mysteries, Mamizou,” the saurian says with a chuckle.

“Invite me to dinner if we make it through all this alive.” Her voice is steadier now, full of bravado. “Crisis now. Futatsuiwa out.”

The line of communication ends, and the saurian begins working with other magic devices, probably to start those sendings. This is your chance to…

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

CHOOSE YOUR METHOD OF INFILTRATION

[ ] … slip through while the only other person in the room is busy. Those sendings are going to create a lot of magical interference through the entire building, sending waves of divination magic reverberating outward as they search for their targets. You’ll use that as your cover to punch through the additional security unnoticed.

[ ] … have Kogasa appear and introduce herself to the receptionist. While you’re not about to reveal yourself, Kogasa might as well make her entrance now. Bypassing the library’s defenses to appear before Mamizou might put her even more on guard than she already is, and you want the meeting between your familiar and her friend to go as smoothly as possible.
>> No. 174403
Also, I should probably mention that I was the writer of >>/shorts/1249 >>/shorts/1252 "Farewell, Our Better Halves". Thanks for the voting turnout, mates. I got a deep, warm feeling inside.

For the record, just like my last contest entry, this short is Tainted Bonds canon. Look out for aftershocks and repercussions of it in this story's future~
>> No. 174409
[x] … have Kogasa appear and introduce herself to the receptionist.

Sad fact is, we were running around uncloaked on an open street. Subtlety is laudable but not as high a priority as it once was, given that. If we're going to do this, we might as well do it as efficiently as possible- and considering what was just said, I don't think the receptionist will object to Kogasa blowing past him in a serious hurry. We'll have to fast talk Mamizou either way, so we might as well have the path to her smoothed out.
>> No. 174417
[X] … have Kogasa appear and introduce herself to the receptionist.

Both approaches will make her wary, but this will at least mean she won't fire on sight (at first).

It's time for a surprise.
>> No. 174420
[X] … have Kogasa appear and introduce herself to the receptionist. While you’re not about to reveal yourself, Kogasa might as well make her entrance now. Bypassing the library’s defenses to appear before Mamizou might put her even more on guard than she already is, and you want the meeting between your familiar and her friend to go as smoothly as possible.

Definitely in favor of letting Mamizou know before "OH SUP MAMIZOU I NEED SHIT FROM YOU"
>> No. 174431
>>174403
So Youki sleeps with Yuyoko a few times, decides he doesn't like it, and then goes and falls in love with some random girl?

Classy.
>> No. 174443
>>174431
Obviously! Bitch be trippin', yo.
>> No. 174447
>>174431
>>174443

wat

Votes should be called in some 24-48 hours.
>> No. 174451
[X] … slip through while the only other person in the room is busy. Those sendings are going to create a lot of magical interference through the entire building, sending waves of divination magic reverberating outward as they search for their targets. You’ll use that as your cover to punch through the additional security unnoticed.

Obligatory tidepiss vote, now with 100% less dumbassery.
>> No. 174452
I just realized that Sakuya might be one of the attempted targets of Divination magic, which would make slipping past unnoticed very difficult.

Actually, I realized last night, but still.

[x] … have Kogasa appear and introduce herself to the receptionist.

Just imagine the Surprise from Mamizou when Kogasa whips out Insane Sakuya after the Divination pings off her.
>> No. 174455
[ ] … slip through while the only other person in the room is busy. Those sendings are going to create a lot of magical interference through the entire building, sending waves of divination magic reverberating outward as they search for their targets. You’ll use that as your cover to punch through the additional security unnoticed.

The less people whom knows, the better.
>> No. 174457
[x] … slip through while the only other person in the room is busy. Those sendings are going to create a lot of magical interference through the entire building, sending waves of divination magic reverberating outward as they search for their targets. You’ll use that as your cover to punch through the additional security unnoticed.
>> No. 174470
>>174402
[x] Surprise~
>> No. 174472
Am I still the only one who is worried (happy?) about our hero's promise to marry Youmu?
>> No. 174473
>>174472
Wait what?

When did this happen?
>> No. 174476
>>174472
No, but we have other things to worry about right now. Tracking down Youmu will jump to the top of the priority list when we have a break, but we don't seem to be getting breaks.
>> No. 174478
>>174472
>>174476

B-but fluffy tails end!
>> No. 174479
>>174478
Unless she backed up her mind somewhere and Yukari didn't notice it, the Ran that we knew is essentially dead. Bringing her back would just as thoroughly kill the person that she is right now, too, so it's not like we can handwave everything being perfect if we put matters back how they were. I suppose there's always Wish/Miracle spam as the multitool solution to any problem, but somehow I don't think that things will turn out to be quite that easy.

Whether we ultimately settle on Youmu or not, the fact is that we need to talk to her much more urgently than we need to talk to Ran. In fact, it would be a terrible idea to seek out Ran before gathering all available intelligence on her status, which means at minimum speaking with Chen and Youmu, and likely others as well. We fought Yukari off the cuff last time and it didn't get us anywhere good; this time we play things slow, thorough, and careful.
>> No. 174480
>>174479
This is sterile conjecture until we do find out the exact details of Ran's current status, but I have to partially disagree with your statements on Deaths of the mind, mostly because it sounds like Yukari did more of a Magic Lobotomy than anything else, leaving Ran as a mere shell of her former self than an entirely new entity.

And even if she is something new, Ran could originally recreate a working replica of Sai's mind, there should be no reason she could not do the same for her new "self" if restored. It would just become a new facet on her original self.

On the subject of Ran recreating Sai's mind twice, I have wondered a few times, since Sai and Ran were also mentally connected when Yukari broke the Shikigami bond, if Sai couldn't somehow mentally "prod" Ran's mind into performing an Iron Heart Surge. Unlikely, really, but funny to think about.
>> No. 174481
>>174472
Not exactly though I'd imagine there'd be something to make it bitter sweet. It makes me wonder how many more harsher in hindsight moments Balista is goign to whip out.

Also I hope we actually get something happening instead of another "How to do choice"
>> No. 174486
[x] … have Kogasa appear and introduce herself to the receptionist
-[x] Surprise~
>> No. 174489
>>174481
I think it's plenty of bittersweet if we take into consideration that his father died because Jizo wasn't good enough/is secretly evil. While she doesn't know that, I'm sure she's aware that the Taint comes from our MC's home plane.

But yeah, I always assume that things can we get even worse.
>> No. 174491
>>174473
Thread 3 I think:

>“My daughter is the most precious thing to me in this world,” he says, as calmly as if the two of you were sharing a pot of tea on the tables overlooking the rock garden, unfazed by the river of blood that begins running from his lower lip. You’re not even sure how he’s able to form words without a functioning set of lungs.
>“I understand,” you reply, stepping just beside Youmu and kneeling so that the two of you can talk face-to-face. You should be shocked, but somehow – you know exactly what he’s calling you here for.
>“I will be unable to protect her any longer. I ask of you to take her hand, so that she may have someone watching out for her in her future, whatever it may bring.” His daughter’s blubbering words suddenly reverse themselves in a gasp of surprise as she whips her head towards you.
>There’s no way you can deny him anything in this state, at least not in this state. “I shall.”
>“Swear it.”
>You don’t hesitate for a moment. “I swear.”
>For a second, his eyes close in quiet satisfaction. “You let an old man die happy,”
>> No. 174497
>>174491
Eh, I wouldn't worry too much about that. I doubt Youmu's terribly interested in the idea, if she's even still alive and single after all the time we spent out of commission.

Heh. We totally broke the spirit of Youki's wish when we got ourselves locked up. Youmu had nobody to look after her.
>> No. 174498
>>174497
Jesus fuck I never thought of that.

Guess she's okay but losing her two masters in the same week... damn.
>> No. 174502
>>174497
It's too soon to presume that as Balistia did say that Youmu thing in /at/ was canon as well.
>> No. 174505
>>174476

There ain't no brakes on this train! obligatory railroading joke

>>174498

Just a clarification, Sai isn't a "master" but more a caretaker. Granted Youki totally intended a marriage because he's oldfashioned like that, but any form of guardianship is in the spirit of the wish.

Besides, technically (a part of) Sai has been with her this entire time, so it's not like you completely broke your word or anything.

>>174502

It's totally future-canon. For a specific definition of future.

>general waifu discussion

dohohohoho you have no idea what's in store

Votes called. Pic related. Writing now. Please wait warmly~>>174498
>> No. 174514
>>174505
I missed this story SO MUCH.
Mostly because you really seem to have a good idea where you are going with this.
Or you're *really* good at faking it.
>> No. 174740
>you have no idea what's in store
Kogasa? Meiling? Yukari?!

All other options seem too unfeasible but... I'm ready to be surprised.

Goddamnit, I can't wait. Updates when?
>> No. 174752
>>174740
Here's a hint
>> No. 174753
>>174752
SAGE YOU SHAMELESS NIGGER
>> No. 174761
>>174752

kekekekekekeke

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

DAWN OF THE FIRST DAY

DON’T FALL BEHIND


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

RESULTS

[X] … have Kogasa reappear and introduce herself to the receptionist. While you’re not about to reveal yourself, Kogasa might as well make her entrance now. Bypassing the library’s defenses to appear before Mamizou might put her even more on guard than she already is, and you want the meeting between your familiar and her friend to go as smoothly as possible.

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

You scan the receptionist’s desk just one last time to be sure. They come in all different shapes and sizes, but you’re pretty sure that the smooth stones on the desk are those of the sending variety. You’ll time it right as he starts sending the first message. While it’ll be an aura of evocation and not illusion, you’re sure that you can fiddle with the aura enough to not trip any of the sensors in the room as she appears.

“Really? Really?!” the karakasa exclaims in a voice so shrill you half expect the receptionist to lift his head in response.

“Yes, now do it before he finishes,” you chuckle. “And don’t trip any of the alarms in the room when you do so.”

The saurian’s claws tap the stone, and waves of powerful evocation magic pulse outward from it, flying right by the hair-trigged sensors without tripping a single one. Clearly, they’re programmed to not capture outbound signals. Out of curiosity, you trace where the energy points itself with your arcane sight.

With some consternation, watch the energy twist itself into its inbound form before it even leaves the room, flowing towards the gibbering maid floating by your head. Without any warning or preparation, you’re unable to scrub it out of existence in time. The sensors being the dumb constructs they are simply detect the incoming evocation and fire silent alarms to the central desk. Fortunately for you, he’s too busy counting out twenty-five words, but the moment he glances down a battery of blinking red lights is going to greet him.

Scratch what I said earlier, you hurriedly tell Kogasa. Trip ALL the alarms.

“Miss Izayoi Sakuya,” he dictates, confirming that yes, this sending is indeed for her. “Sorry to interrupt the celebrations, but Gensokyo is imperiled. The – “

It’s in the middle of that sentence that Kogasa chooses to make her entry with a “Boo!” To the receptionist’s eyes, she explodes out of thin air in a blinding burst of rainbow colors strong enough to knock the weak-willed unconscious.

The receptionist flinches and snaps his gaze away from the lights, but to his credit he doesn’t topple over midsentence, actually continuing to dictate his message without interruption. “The Scarlet Devil and her entourage required immediately. Use time warping. Futatsuiwa Mamizou.” Still, though, you can literally feel his surprise; this must be Kogasa’s ability, as the sight of him attempting to regain his composure fills you with a deep satisfaction. finishes the rest of the sending, albeit in a hurry.

Sakuya’s response to the message is a gurgle and a shake of her head, a message which probably gets returned and spoken through the sending stone, but fortunately the receptionist has something more prominent to deal with. Shaking his head to clear it of the lingering spots, he takes his spectacles off and squints towards the blue-garbed girl. “Kogasa!” he exclaims, a grin breaking out over his face as his claws peck at toggles underneath the desk, squelching each silent alarm in turn as a report of a “false alarm”. You pump a mental fist of success. “Where’ve you been all these years? You just stopped coming around.”

You wonder to yourself just how many people beyond those who were personally there know the truth of what happened. Nue had remarked that she had been seeing the dead upon Kogasa’s appearance, but she was apparently a close friend of Mamizou. From the sounds of the things, Mamizou’s position might have made her privy to Kogasa’s demise, so Nue probably heard from her. Sakuya made an offhand comment about a catastrophe in Hakugyukurou, and between her ludicrous time-bending abilities and the weight she attached to her service of a superior, you suppose she might be in a position to know as well. But that this receptionist, someone in charge of so many things and handling so much information on a regular basis, hadn’t heard…

It makes you wonder just how hard Yukari is trying to keep everything related to the incident in Hakugyokurou a secret.

“I went on an adventure,” Kogasa explains with a wink, not untruthfully for certain definitions of “adventure”. “But anyways, I believe you were just calling for help?”

The receptionist’s face turns grave as he balances his spectacles back on the end of his snout. “Kogasa. This isn’t some joking matter – “

“I’m not joking.” In the blink of an eye, she turns dead serious. You swear that her outfit, hair, and one blue eye all blend together, boring into the saurian with the stare of a single red eye. “I’m here to help.”

He purses his lips in response. It’s an interesting sight, since his lips stretch across the entire front and sides of his head. “And how do you propose on doing that?” Already his claws are reaching for the sending stone again, his sense of duty pushing aside this apparent distraction.

“I need to talk to Mamizou.”

That line causes him to freeze. “… I should be questioning you, anyways. Technically, we’re under lockdown. How’d you get in here anyways?”

This is wandering into territory that you don’t want to be in. You urge Kogasa to move on as quickly as possible. “Let’s just say I learned a lot during my adventures, and leave the long stories for later. You know, when there isn’t an incident on the horizon,” she says, deflecting the issue.

For a brief moment you worry that he’ll persist on questioning, but then the saurian bobs his head, accepting it for now. “Fair enough.” He clears his throat, then ceremoniously asks, “I can fly but I have no wings. I can cry but I have no eyes. Wherever I go, darkness follows me. What am I?” A riddle? That one’s easy enough; it’s a cloud, floating high in the air, occasionally raining, and blocking the sun.

Kogasa, though, has another answer. “Three fairies stealing the laundry.”

What.

The receptionist, however, seems satisfied with this nonsensical response, nodding in acceptance as he states more nonsense. “Well, fair enough. The color is red, the clicks are seven, and you’ll want to pull the one to the left.”

“Thanks!” Kogasa chimes, and bobs off towards one of the doors. You follow, making sure to catch Sakuya’s drool before it hits the floor. Already the receptionist is starting another sending, this one aimed towards a “Bob”. It’s not like either you or Kogasa should be the recipient of another sending, anyways, so you should be in the clear now.

“Three fairies stealing the laundry?” you hiss, your hands flying up by your head in confusion. “What kind of answer to a riddle is that?”

It wouldn’t be much of a password if any clown with half a brain could come up with the correct response, she explains silently as she twiddles a knob next to one of the solid mithral doors, disabling yet another series of alarms as well as a battery of both magical and mundane traps against forced intrusion. “Green,” she whispers to no one in particular, and a series of bolts retract back into the concealed adamantine frame within the wall. Green, and not the “red” she’d been told. Layers within layers of security.

“… oh.” You frown. “But someone who knew the password would…”

Hey, you knew there was a password too, and look who’s complaining that none of this makes sense. Although her outward appearance for the benefit of the receptionist is that of a humming, smiling girl unlocking a door, the mockery in her tone has you wincing. In any case, it sounded like that message was meant for more ears than hers, she indicates with a nod as you carefully float the maid towards you. Should we be worried about that?

“Sakuya seems reasonably intelligent. I’m sure she warned her charges of what was happening before she came here herself.”

The door unseals with a hiss, swinging weightlessly on its hinges to reveal the plain, completely mundane wooden door that had been there before. Kogasa opens that one as well to reveal a plain, vertical shaft without so much as a dangling rope or even handholds to ease the process of ascending. It’s an architectural simplification that spares the space normally used for flights of stairs or elevators that can only be made around those of great ability, like how your teacher’s hut had no way to travel between floors besides floating up and down through gaps in the floor and ceiling. That such an assumption is being made tells you a lot about those who normally come through here.

You slip through both doors into the shaft right behind your companion before Kogasa closes them, the security she disabled to get through automatically reactivating itself with a series of sinister clicks. “All this security, and the door guard gave you everything you needed to get in. Some security,” you scoff as you both rise into the air. “More time and energy to spend than brains, no doubt.”

“To be fair, these weren’t made with the serious intent that they would be tested,” she shrugs. “

“Wouldn’t this place become a hotspot in a time of crisis? All of this seems counterproductive.”

You hit the top of the shaft; this side lacks so much as a door separating it from the hallway. “Not really. The offices and labs are hardly areas that people would be passing through in person. As we heard, there are lines of communication prewired into the building, and if people need to meet in person they generally do it somewhere outside, somewhere more neutral.”

Right before Kogasa tries to pass through the doorway, you point a finger and suppress the wall of force blocking her way. “I can see why they would meet outside,” you grumble. “This place is ludicrous.”

She blinks. “That… wasn’t there earlier.”

“Move along,” you grunt. “I’m getting tired of this place already.”

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

Yeah, this is a no-choicer. This section was always going to be long.
>> No. 174830
Aaaaand he sneaks in 15 minutes before the deadline! (Yes, not by site time, but it’s 23:45 in my time zone, shut up.)

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


Halfway to Mamizou’s office, five various bypassed barriers later, something happens.

It’s not something that can be perceived on any of the five mundane senses, but it’s –

– something.

Something big.

Something awful.

Something familiar.

something Tainted

The closest word you can think of to describe the feeling is nausea, but it’s far deeper than mere gastrointestinal distress. Both you and Kogasa groan in unison as you slump against the wood-paneled walls of the hallway for support. Your concentration on the telekinesis bearing Sakuya fails completely, sending her tumbling to the floor to join you in a chorus of moans.

“What was that?” Kogasa coughs as she staggers upright. She holds out a hand to help you up, but the instant you recompose yourself you fly straight up and forward.

No. No. No, no, no, no no no no no no no nononononononono

You rocket forward, your companion scrambling in your wake as you clear the last few dozen meters of hallway before Mamizou’s office. You lift a hand to blast open the door, but to your surprise there isn’t one, just an empty frame, although there’s a permanent silence on the entryway to prevent conversation from carrying in and out of the room. A folding wood-and-cloth privacy screen prevents passerby from getting a look directly in, but you sweep around it and into an upper corner to size up the drama happening within, adhering Sakuya to the ceiling with a wall of force.

it’s happening again

Mamizou herself is an tall, imposing woman, her olive green coat voluminous enough to conceal a large, furred tail underneath without seeming out of place. Her long brown hair and flowing, checkered scarf only add to her presence, to say nothing of the powerful youkai blood that runs through her veins or her silently-roaring aura of power. The – tanuki, Kogasa prompts you – moves with what you can really only describe as authority, a ruler amongst her subjects. A moment later, you realize that there are indeed “subjects” in the room with her; every other piece of furniture and object in the room is animated with a rudimentary intelligence, shifting, shuffling, or floating around the room of their own accord to either assist their master or desperately stay out of her way.

A cacophony of voices are squawking out from a rack of sending stones floating by her head. Amongst them are a group of mages reporting that they’re almost done preparing a remote mass teleport, a mixed wolf and crow tengu warrior squad on patrol who haven’t “made contact with the enemy yet”, and the captain of the town militia asking if she should be preparing for an evacuation. But Mamizou doesn’t seem to be concerned with any of them, her eyes wide as she demands, “How many of them are there? Can you get clear, can you be extracted?”

Festering sores of Taint swallowing up sections of the plane, one at a time. Shades and phantoms and knightmares from where the populaces of villages, towns, cities were rotted through in seconds.

A pause while the person on the other end formulates an answer; Kogasa enters and practically vibrates with excitement, but you urge her to hold on for just a moment. Someone is being chased by something, and you don’t want to interrupt until you learn a little more.

“Can’t get away. They’re too fast. Too many to fight off. Extraction team would be overwhelmed. Leading them away for as long as possible.”

As long as possible? Then they aren’t expecting to make it out alive…

Mamizou curses with a vitriol that has Kogasa flinching – I’ve never seen her so distressed before – and toggles the stone for the tengu patrol. “My apprentice has made contact. She’s above the Forest of Magic, moving away from the village. Extract her. At any cost.”

A passed thought, a surge of agreement. Kogasa makes her entrance with less fanfare this time, simply stepping out of thin air as if passing through an invisible portal. Before the tengu can send a reply, she settles her steely mismatched gaze upon her friend and teacher, saying only a single word: “No.”

Ferocious beasts and abhorrent monsters where there were once forests and plains. Creatures crawling onto the beaches, no longer requiring water for their new unlives as they seek richer prey near the coasts.

The animated constructs in the room lurch away in unison, taken aback by the newcomer in the room. For a second, the only sound is that of the chatter from the stones as Mamizou’s jaw slowly falls open, the first time you’ve – well, Kogasa – has ever seen her so taken aback. “Kogasa?” she blurts out.

“Call them off! They don’t stand a chance.” Acting as your mouthpiece, Kogasa marches right up her, scowling underneath her elder’s chin, the very image of a rebellious teen.

If this foe is what you think it will be –

An apocalypse of unimaginable scale. The higher the death toll rises, the faster it races towards complete annihilation. Destruction is only a temporary inconvenience. It is end of the world.

– nothing any denizen of Gensokyo has will be sufficient to fight them.

It takes Mamizou a moment to recover, but the speed at which she accepts this new situation as normal concerns you. Could she have been expecting Kogasa already? Your mind spins. “They – but – they’re the best unit Gensokyo has to offer,” the tanuki snaps. “If they can’t save her, then that’s it.”

“They can’t.”

“Quiet!” she barks. “You can’t guilt me out of this. I know what I’m doing. I’m trading their lives for hers.” Oh, so she simply thinks she’s gone insane, then? You see her glance for the briefest moment towards one of the sensors by the door – according to it, no one has passed through the entryway in the past couple of hours, and nothing incorporeal has been present for the past day.

A mirror. You need a mirror, you need a scrying, you need to confirm that what you think is happening is actually happening. Unfortunately, the only one in the room is currently cowering the corner, reflective side turned away from you. Get that for me.

Kogasa scoffs at Mamizou’s statement. “Do you think I’m just a figment of your imagination?” she asks, beckoning towards the mirror in the corner. At the exact same time, you pull it over with a thought and force it to hold still in front of you with a clenching pressure. To Mamizou’s widening eyes, Kogasa just performed an act of telekinesis, a power she certainly didn’t have before.

You shove aside your analysis of the situation, though, now that you’ve gotten the requisite focus to more or less cooperate. ‘The enemy in pursuit of the one you just heard through the sending. That’s your prompt for the scrying. It’s hopelessly vague, but fortunately Gensokyo is a reasonably small plane, so you should get results fairly quickly. In the meantime you’ll have Kogasa –

In mere seconds, as opposed to the minutes you had expected, the scrying completes. A young girl, no more than fifteen years of age, flies at a breakneck pace through the treetops. Her small frame flits through branches and between gaps in the foliage, but the foe that pursues her is relentless, a swarm of Tainted youkai and fairies both earthbound and airborne. She can’t rise up high to completely avoid those on the ground, for then the quicker fairies would swarm her, nor can bunker down by the roots as the bounding hunters and hulking giants would catch her. In the canopy, she has cover both from the fairies sniping at her from above with dark blasts of magic and remains enough off the ground to stay away from all but the tallest of the runners.

More interesting than her tactics, though, is the Hope that pulses within her body as strongly as yours. Even though real, physical blood definitely flows in her veins, as you can see from the freely bleeding cuts on her arms and head where foliage and flying splinters have punished her, Hope is what powers her flight, the desperate defensive weaves that deflect shots where the branches aren’t sufficient, her sparing attacks with… some kind of regenerating bomb?

You’d try and figure out what it is, but your train of thought simply freezes for a moment. Who is this youngster, to be so empowered? You, Chen, Youmu and Ran – Ran – you were the only ones to bear this power. The kitsune – Ran – and Chen are connected to Yukari, and you wouldn’t put it past Youmu to attempt to propagate the Taint anathema for future security, but still…

… it’s a question that can remain until later.

“Give him back,” Mamizou snaps, snatching the mirror back towards her. So engrossed you are with the image, you don’t think to block her hand, and so she flips the mirror towards herself – freezing her in her tracks.

“No,” she gasps, watching the girl narrowly avoid a swinging arm that topples three tall oaks. Although she’s dodged being crushed like an overripe fruit, her momentary lack of cover still punishes her as a lance of Tainted energy pierces her stomach for a mortal wound, and you can’t help but wince in sympathy as crimson begins to stain her robe. Her speed falters, her path spiraling down low for just a moment, causing your heart to leap into your throat for just a second. Yet she has the will to live of a hungry dog, or perhaps she’s simply trying to bait them away for just a little longer, just a few more minutes away from the village, even just a few more seconds.

Kogasa can’t help but glance back towards you, feeling your indecision and confusion, looking for a prompt for action.

No, indeed, you echo. You’re not waiting any longer. Gathering your energies, you pinpoint the girl’s location through the scrying. This won’t take long.

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

CHOOSE YOUR DOCTRINE UPON ARRIVAL

[ ] Snatch and grab. An extraction team of mortal mages would be shredded in the crossfire, but you’re not a mortal mage. You’ll be in and out with the girl before she even realizes you’re there – not that anyone would anyways. You can deal with the horde after you learn more about the situation.

[ ] These creatures are an eyesore. When you fled from His legions in your own youth, you were as powerless as this girl was. Time for a little karmic justice. You have power now. You can destroy them, you can purge the font of Taint, you can stop this. You’ll actually be able to save them, this time. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint!
>> No. 174831
[X] These creatures are an eyesore. When you fled from His legions in your own youth, you were as powerless as this girl was. Time for a little karmic justice. You have power now. You can destroy them, you can purge the font of Taint, you can stop this. You’ll actually be able to save them, this time. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint!
>> No. 174833
[X] Snatch and grab. An extraction team of mortal mages would be shredded in the crossfire, but you’re not a mortal mage. You’ll be in and out with the girl before she even realizes you’re there – not that anyone would anyways. You can deal with the horde after you learn more about the situation.
Nothing good ever comes of a powerful character following bolded choices. Stick to the mission.
>> No. 174834
[X] Snatch and grab. An extraction team of mortal mages would be shredded in the crossfire, but you’re not a mortal mage. You’ll be in and out with the girl before she even realizes you’re there – not that anyone would anyways. You can deal with the horde after you learn more about the situation.

Screw the Tsukihime reference.
>> No. 174835
[ ] These creatures are an eyesore. When you fled from His legions in your own youth, you were as powerless as this girl was. Time for a little karmic justice. You have power now. You can destroy them, you can purge the font of Taint, you can stop this. You’ll actually be able to save them, this time. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint!

Someone's 'bout to get Hoped real hard.
>> No. 174836
[X] Snatch and grab. An extraction team of mortal mages would be shredded in the crossfire, but you’re not a mortal mage. You’ll be in and out with the girl before she even realizes you’re there – not that anyone would anyways. You can deal with the horde after you learn more about the situation.

Should probably deal with the mortal wound before being caught in a fight that will not end quickly.
>> No. 174839
>>174830
If we end up fighting now, all of the Travelers about to Mass-Teleport will see us. This may be a bad thing, since at least the Bitch Archmage will remember Sai. Me may also end up fighting Tainted Meiling without help from Sakuya, which is definitely a bad thing. Yukari will find us sooner.

If we snatch and grab, there will be more casualties and unexpected enemies in the long run, with the tradeoff of an un-mindfucked Sakuya to possibly back us up against Tainted Meiling. It will take longer for Yukari to find us.

This is not a decision to be made lightly, so I will hold off on voting for now.



In before Yukari's Troubleshooting team is Tainted.
>> No. 174840
[X] Snatch and grab. An extraction team of mortal mages would be shredded in the crossfire, but you’re not a mortal mage. You’ll be in and out with the girl before she even realizes you’re there – not that anyone would anyways. You can deal with the horde after you learn more about the situation.

A vote, now with 100% fewer typos.

Also, does this imply daily TB updates? I fucking hope it does.
>> No. 174842
[x] Snatch and grab. An extraction team of mortal mages would be shredded in the crossfire, but you’re not a mortal mage. You’ll be in and out with the girl before she even realizes you’re there – not that anyone would anyways. You can deal with the horde after you learn more about the situation.

As much as I want to destroy everything in a suitably dramatic fashion, right now it's more important to save the life of another Hopeful.
>> No. 174843
[ ] These creatures are an eyesore.
-[ ] Leave Sakuya here, have Kogasa inform Mamizou she's there

Hopefully, the tanuki will catch on and fix up the maid.

Fight now, and we might get to Meiling on time. Reccette is running away from the location, right? Kill the ones in the way, make way to the dragon.
The maid owes us anyway. If the Tanuki fixes her up, we get a powerful, time stopping ally fighting with up.
>> No. 174844
>>174833

>bolded the entire choice

whoops

>>174836

>fight that will not end quickly

For clarifaction's sake: annihilating that will take all of seconds, seconds that aren't going to make or break her Recette's life. Sai ain't 18th level for nothing. There is no worthy opponent here, just a bunch of trash mobs; Sai would have called out a foe of great power that could challenge him.

This "font" is not the Taisui Xingjun's. It's merely one of many.

No one will see you doing it - when you exit the office, the scrying that Mamizou's looking at will end as well, so she'll be in the dark. The question is that someone's eventually going to notice the aftermath of (unTainted) corpses and wasteland and wonder what the hell happened.

Whether or not that's a good or bad thing is up to your discretion.

>>174839

>In before Yukari's Troubleshooting team is Tainted.

Well... yes and no.

But the answer isn't 100% no.

Just saying.

Just between you and me.

>>174840

>Also, does this imply daily TB updates?

m8

>>/gensokyo/11962/

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

Y'know I was worried I wasn't going to have enough votes before tomorrow morning but I guess not~

I was worried I was going to have to update Dolls while I waited
>> No. 174845
>>174844
In that case

[ ] These creatures are an eyesore. When you fled from His legions in your own youth, you were as powerless as this girl was. Time for a little karmic justice. You have power now. You can destroy them, you can purge the font of Taint, you can stop this. You’ll actually be able to save them, this time. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint!
>> No. 174848
[X] These creatures are an eyesore. When you fled from His legions in your own youth, you were as powerless as this girl was. Time for a little karmic justice. You have power now. You can destroy them, you can purge the font of Taint, you can stop this. You’ll actually be able to save them, this time. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint!

This way we can purge Taint and spread Hope at the safe time.
>> No. 174849
[x] These creatures are an eyesore. When you fled from His legions in your own youth, you were as powerless as this girl was. Time for a little karmic justice. You have power now. You can destroy them, you can purge the font of Taint, you can stop this. You’ll actually be able to save them, this time. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint!
-[x] Dump Sakuya before we vanish. Hopefully Mamizou will solve that issue while we save the girl and purge the vile Taint.
>> No. 174852
[X] These creatures are an eyesore. When you fled from His legions in your own youth, you were as powerless as this girl was. Time for a little karmic justice. You have power now. You can destroy them, you can purge the font of Taint, you can stop this. You’ll actually be able to save them, this time. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint!


I was going to vote for a snatch and grab, but with the clarifying post, I'm going for erasing the Taint.
Taint spreads and infects everything around it, so if we leave a little bit now, we'll have a lot to deal with later.
>> No. 174855
[X] These creatures are an eyesore. When you fled from His legions in your own youth, you were as powerless as this girl was. Time for a little karmic justice. You have power now. You can destroy them, you can purge the font of Taint, you can stop this. You’ll actually be able to save them, this time. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint!

I know this isn't the optimal choice, but if our travel through the borders has taught me something is that his issues are anywhere near resolved.
>> No. 174863
Votes called. Pic related. Writing now. Please wait warmly~
>> No. 174869
RESULTS

[X] These creatures are an eyesore. When you fled from His legions in your own youth, you were as powerless as this girl was. Time for a little karmic justice. You have power now. You can destroy them, you can purge the font of Taint, you can stop this. You’ll actually be able to save them, this time. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint. This Taint!

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

Teleport. A spell you’ve had little reason to use for so long. It was your main tool of engagement and escape when you attempted to combat him in your former mortal form. But even though you knew it had no place after He began creating a planar-wide forbiddance, even after you had been those centuries of training after your Crucimigration, you never had an opportunity to bother unlearning this particular spell. You emptied your mind of dozens of less difficult ones, but this one… you never encountered a need to overwrite it, so it remained, a constant reminder of your failure in your younger days.

Now, you’re glad you still have it. A mental pluck of arcane strings, and you fool the universe into thinking that your new position is alongside the faltering girl in the forest. Instantly, you telekinetically seize her and drag her to you, feeling her gasp as your magic easily overwhelms her will to break out, and sheathe her in a hastily constructed bubble of force just before the constant rain of bolts from the fairies above shreds her. You don’t need to shield yourself nor Kogasa from the same, though, the Tainted energies simply winking out as they approach you, their puny energies defeated by your absorption.

Yes, it seems contradictory that you could gain power from your anathema. But these aren’t bolts of pure Taint, with nothing to glean. No, these creatures have merely been corrupted, not constructed, of Taint, and after your spell consumes each attack, your own core of Hope wipes the miniscule amount of Taint from existence, leaving behind a wisp of perfectly good magical energy.

Magical energy that you have the perfect idea of how to use.

There’s no need for words between you and the karakasa. She flies out wide, up and high, as you lash out, widened wings of flurry pulverizing everything within a stone’s throw. Trees, fairies, the feral predators on the ground, even the towering giants are all the same to you; splinters of wood, bone, and stone mix indiscriminately as the entire area explodes underneath the force of your transient appendages. Skeletal wolves, zombie birds, tentacled masses of flesh – everything that once posed a legitimate threat to you in your youth is now but a passing nuisance.

That was only everything within a stone’s throw, though, when there’s a long pack of them some hundreds of meters long, to say nothing of their source.

Good thing that was just one spell.

You shed your illusions for a brief second, veiling the girl from sight instead. Instantly, the hail of shots zeroes in on you in absence of any other target, only fueling your power more.

Above you and the enemy, Kogasa’s eyes dart back and forth, identifying each and every single one of the aberrations racing towards you. Her body practically vibrates with excitement, that she can finally strike back against the enemy attacking her home.

Get them.

You pass all the energy you’ve gathered from your absorption to her. Her eyes light up – literally – and she holds out her limbs wide.

Halo「Karakasa Surprising Flash」, and a hundred thousand beams of white light suddenly fire outwards from her body, each one perfectly aimed to pierce straight through a creature. Each beam then sweeps to the side, turning each attack into a deadly slash, cutting through flesh, bone, and trees indiscriminately as the karakasa rotates the entire array fully around, leaving nothing but smoldering chunks behind.

You’re not done yet, though. While Kogasa annihilated the enemy, you cast a clairvoyance up high in the sky, scanning for the Tainted sore that bred all these creatures. It’s a few kilometers deeper in the forest, a gaping black font of thick, bubbling ichor. Simply looking at it fills you with a deep disgust.

The girl will be safe in the bubble of force until you return, which should be in all of seconds. You lock onto the font’s coordinates and teleport again.

You’ve never actually been this close to a Taint font before; the fumes alone are enough to kill anything that has to breathe, and even then if you had any living flesh it’d be rotting off your bones within seconds. The trees are all stooped, twisted, shriveled and dead for at least a mile around and you’re sure that the plants even farther away will die eventually from the trauma even after you close this.

This time both you and Kogasa unleash your powers in unison. You unload maximized missile storms and twinned disintegrates alongside the cascading bolts of her own Rain Sign 「A Rainy Night’s Ghost Story」, straight into the pits depths. Now that you’re physically present with it, you realize that you can feel a slow, lumbering intelligence from it, a primal hunger to feed, to breed, to propagate itself.

Disgusting.

Your eyes dance with pleasure as it actually recoils as if in pain as the first shots hit it, the edges of the pool contracting as it hisses, rapidly evaporating underneath your attentions –

… what?

It disappears in the space of a single second before you’re able to destroy it. It runs away; there’s no other term to describe the speed or purpose with which it shrinks into the earth and suddenly withdraws. It’s not even hiding underneath the ground – that wouldn’t be much protection from you power. No, it’s completely gone, transported away without any outward sign of teleportation magic – you don’t think there’s any way you could have meaningfully affected the thing with a dimensional anchor, anyways.

“How can it do that?” Kogasa asks incredulously.

You peer through your clairvoyance again, but it doesn’t seem to have resurfaced in the immediate area. But now you know what you’re looking for – if it’s still on this plane, you can use Mamizou’s scrying mirror to find it again. For a brief moment, you wish you still had your shield with you, but you’re sure that Youmu needs it far more than you do at this point.

“… I don’t know,” you admit. You don’t have time to hunt it down now, though, and surely there’s more than one of these on Gensokyo if this is anything like what you remember before.

Besides, you came here for another purpose in the first place.

Teleport, and you’re inside the bubble of force that you made earlier. To your surprise, there’s another existence in here as well besides the wounded girl you originally sealed, but you refrain from instantly blasting it away. In turn, it announces itself by leaping onto your face and biting your nose.

That’s right, you haven’t recast your greater invisibility.

You peel her from your face with a gesture and disappear from sight, nudging Kogasa to drop her own invisibility in turn to keep the fairy’s attention, for it is a fairy not the “regenerating bomb” you had originally pinned it as. Unlike the ones Kogasa just vaporized, though, this one isn’t Tainted – in fact, it’s exactly the opposite. In fact, while the girl clutching at her stomach wound has Hope flowing through her veins, the fairy now wrapping herself around Kogasa’s neck and trying to strangle her is actually wholly made of the stuff.

You catch yourself holding out a hand in wonder towards it, but Kogasa simply clicks her tongue and tilts her head towards the girl now staring up at wonder at the karakasa. It’s something you’ll examine in detail later, though, once you’re back at Mamizou’s. You’re sure she’d want her apprentice back before she bleeds out.
>> No. 174881
Lily White?? Hope was an artificially introduced element, I believe. A fairy could not be naturally be born from Hope, or could it. Actually it seems quite plausible: fairies are often modeled after elements.
>> No. 174890
>>174881
It's not Lily White. I forgot what Recette's familiar was called, but it's her.
And a fairy made out of Hope is not that far-fetched. Most fairies are born from natural energies, but their bodies are still made of magic.
Hope is a source of magic power the same as the natural sources that usually creates fairies.
>> No. 174911
>>174890
Nami. Cool, I didn't notice.

Also, let's not forget today's: DAILY UPDATES WOOT
>> No. 174941
With but a thought, the four of you all coalesce on Mamizou’s office floor. You were worried that your outbound teleport would drive the tanuki to get an anticipate teleportation or a forbiddance cast, but to be fair you were gone for less than a minute.

In fact, she doesn’t seem to have done much of anything at all ever since Kogasa surprised her, as you catch her slumped in a chair, looking rather overcome. Her reaction to your sudden appearance – well, that of the now-unconscious girl, the fairy, and Kogasa, as you’re choosing to remain hidden for now – is to bolt upright, her tail sticking upright as it can underneath her jacket, its fur bottle-brushed in alarm. As the chair underneath her hurriedly scuttles back and away against the wall, her mouth drops open in shock, words failing her as she thrusts out a hand and takes a single step forward. However, she doesn’t hurry to her apprentice’s side; does she still think she’s hallucinating?

Still refusing to break you cover, you put words in Kogasa’s mouth. “Stop gaping like a fool and get some scrolls, some potions, anything!” the karakasa snaps. The fairy recoils from her sharp tone, but apparently it both understands her intent and knows where to find those items as it streaks across the room for a locked, warded cabinet in the back of the room.

That seems to break Mamizou out of her dazed state; even if her mind is still trying to comprehend what’s happening, her hand reaching for the chattering sending stones –

A Traveler cleric won’t be able to heal the girl’s Tainted wound, and besides, you’d rather not deal with outside parties at the moment, so you send the communication devices flying up and away into a high corner of the room before hiding them behind a silent image, similar to how you hid Sakuya before you left earlier. You refrain from also dropping a silence on them, though – you’re still keeping one ear on the constant flow of chatter, just in case they spot something else dangerous. “I didn’t ask you to fetch a cleric. Items! Trinkets! Something already here!” the karakasa barks.

Mamizou flinches, but she obeys without a word of complaint, dashing towards the same cabinet that the fairy is currently attempting to open to no avail. With a single touch from the woman’s hand, though, its many locks fly open to allow its leaden doors to open of their own accord, revealing a previously hidden cache of magic items that stink of conjuration. A rug flaps itself off of the ground and drapes itself into a cup shape by her waist, catching an entire shelf full of vials and metal tubes that she scoops out with an arm before she runs back to her apprentice, the fairy following after grabbing a pair of scroll cases herself.

“I – I can’t use the scrolls,” she admits as the rug flattens itself on the floor next to “Here – find more that look like this.” She pushes aside a couple of bottles to pull up one in particular, one with a diamond-shaped stopper; a brief glance tells you it’s of cure serious wounds, the most potent healing spell that can be put into a stable liquid form. “Pour it on the wound,” she directs as she drags her apprentice’s head into her lap, tilting it so that she can trickle it down the girl’s throat.

Three, even four of those little things won’t be enough for a wound like that, even before you deal with the Taint. The girl is strong to have taken such a hit and not died in seconds – in fact, she’s using some body-control technique to consciously stem the flow of blood to her lower body to not bleed out. Even as Kogasa cracks the wax seal and throws away the crystal stopper, you flick your gaze from tube to tube, looking for…

… yes, exactly. You snatch the scroll of heal and shake the fairy off of it until she spirals away with an offended buzz. You exhale a bit in amusement as Mamizou can’t help but stare at the silver case that’s apparently been possessed. Well, Kogasa’s “demonstrated” telekinetic abilities already, so this should be nothing surprising.

Unfortunately, what you’re about to do is.

“These potions aren’t going to be enough,” Kogasa says, echoing your earlier thought for Mamizou’s benefit. True, even as potion splashes all over the gory wound through the girl’s stomach and runs down her throat, the wound still doesn’t so much as twitch, adamantly refusing to heal. The edges of the wound pop and fizzle faintly anyways, the Hope in her blood struggling to flush the Taint out of the wound. If she was more powerful, more mature, and less severely wounded, you imagine that her body would have cleansed the wound already. As it stands, it’s going to need a little assistance.

Grasping each end of the case with a hand, you twist and pull, throwing off the seal and dumping the vellum into your palm. You unfurl it, and begin dredging your memories for the exact gestures for the divine spell, raising your other hand as the first comes to your surface thoughts –

This is Marcus’s handwriting!

“Then why did you stop me from calling a cleric?” Mamizou hisses. She reaches to touch the wound itself; Kogasa makes a pained sound and slaps her hand away. The fairy, now recovered from her disorientation, flies down as well as if to try herself, forcing Kogasa to snatch her bodily out of the air.

“Don’t! Touch! It!” she screams at the top of her lungs, causing the tanuki to recoil back. “You get that on you, and you’re dead. Dead! Dead! Am I clear?!” The only reason this girl is still alive is because the Hope in her body already is preventing the Taint in the wound from spreading to her entire body; if so much of a drop of that ichor makes it onto Mamizou’s skin, it’ll infiltrate her entire body and convert her into something far more terrible within minutes, if not seconds.

As for the fairy, you’re not sure what’ll happen to her. Being made of Hope as she is, but you’d rather not find out – while she’s made almost wholly of it, there’s not very much of her in the first place. It’s like the difference between a thimble full of water and a tree – the thimble’s water is pure, but the tree has much more within its roots and trunk.

Mamizou swallows, confused, but in the face of such fervor she relents to simply shouting back. “What the hell are we supposed to do, then, watch her die?!” Her face turns red as she leans over her apprentice towards Kogasa, so close the karakasa has to lean back to avoid touching noses with her.

Even as your fingers and wrist begin flying in the appropriate movements, your mind continues playing the endless game of catchup to each new discovery you’ve encountered. You knew that Marcus was here on this plane, albeit underneath a new alias that Ran couldn’t tell you because of some ridiculous geas. He’s writing scrolls for the Travelers even after changing his identity? You look at the potions, and wonder if those are his handiwork as well. How much else has he done?

But you’ve got other things to handle, like the scroll in your hand. Each familiar rune and sigil disappears off the page as you vocalize it, sometimes in mutters, sometimes in yells. In seconds the page is blank, the stored energies dancing over your body, ready to be unleashed with a touch.

But you’re not done with it yet. The spell initially resists, but you internalize the spell, pulling it into yourself without discharging it, a foreign presence in your mindscape of whirling, shining, iridescent steel. It can’t remain there for long, but there you add just a little bit of yourself to it. In a shower of rainbows, the bright divine energy swells to almost twice its original size, your own arcane power adding strength to it without fundamentally changing its nature.

However, that’s just the icing on the cake. No, the real benefit of this action is that now the spell carries a bit of Hope within itself. Not enough to permanently root itself into someone, no, but it’s not like you have to worry about that with this girl – that’s already happened, some way or the other.

Kogasa takes her cue as the process finishes, accepting the control of the charged magic when you transfer it to her and set down the now blank scroll and empty case. “Out of my way. I’ll handle this.”

Yet Mamizou remains hovered protectively above her apprentice. “But – “

”Out.” Tossing aside the fairy, Kogasa shoves her arm forward to give the older woman a careful shove, albeit one that sends her tumbling back head-over-bushy-tail; when she comes to halt, she’s upside-down and staring dumbfounded at her junior. Her surprise is… delicious, somehow.

I’ve never gotten to do that before, Kogasa giggles.

Her good humor’s infectious to the point where you can’t help but smile, but you still have to play the more serious of the pair here. Get on with it.

With a sigh, she simply lays her hand directly on the wound. Mamizou’s eyes widen as with a flash of bright light – okay okay I’m making this a little more dramatic shut up – the black ichor coating the wound explodes into nothingness as viscera, fat, and skin all suddenly knit themselves whole in the space of a single second, a healthy pink suffusing the girl’s cheeks as liters of new blood pour themselves into her veins. She takes in a huge breath, then lets it out in a relieved sigh, transitioning from her trauma-trance to a peaceful sleep.

“Kogasa…” Mamizou whispers, now in the dull shock phase of her surprise. “When did you learn to – “

“I’ve had some w-weird experiences, okay?” she hastily stammers out. Seeking to keep her off balance while she regains her own, she finds some point to tease the older youkai on. “That being said, I didn’t expect you to replace me so quickly – “

“H-hey!” the tanuki splutters. “I wasn’t replac… oh, ha, ha, very funny, Kogasa!” With her apprentice now healed and out of harm’s way, it seems she’s calmer now, and you watch with amusement as she walks over and wraps an arm around the smaller girl’s neck, playfully wrestling her over as the karakasa flails in mock distress. “Nothing could replace you, you little rascal. I thought you were dead!” But then a thought occurs to her, and she lets her go, looking her up and down with curiosity. “Where’s… you know… your other half? Your, uh, umbrella?”

“Oh, that?” She sticks out her hand palm up, and the purple umbrella materializes in it as if it had been there all along. “It’s, uh, still with me, just in another way.” It’s a completely true statement – the actual, physical pieces are in your robe pocket. “I just don’t need to walk around with it anymore.”

“You’ve changed,” Mamizou states. “You’re… stronger.”

It only takes you a second to find a scroll of greater restoration amongst the pile on the rug, but you refrain from picking it up now. You can conceal yourself as well as Kogasa easily, but now that Kogasa is engaged in conversation, it might be harder to play off why one of the scrolls is lifting itself away – after all, the rug it’s laying on will surely notice its load shifting and lightening even if you make a visual illusion, and you don’t trust it to do anything weird in response now that you’re out of the immediate crisis.

“Well, it’s not like I could come back as a ghost, now, could I?” Speaking of the ou look around at the animated objects in the room – it’s amazing just how many intelligences, even if they’re small and dull, are in the room. And they are intelligences, individuals even – not the unthinking golems or blindly obedient constructs most mages constructed for personal servants. As of the moment, they can’t be any more intelligent than particularly smart dogs or cats, but given some years, you can see them growing into something more than mere flying rugs or walking chairs. Is this what your companion once was?

Heh. Hardly, Kogasa scoffs. Mamizou created them herself, and she’s caring for them while they’re still, well, to be frank, dumb and naïve. My own awakening was much more sudden.

But could you come back as a ghost? you ask her.

Do objects have an afterlife? she counters.

I know they have a soul. After all, it took hers to heal you.

Oh, hush and thank me later. She takes a step away from the tanuki, kneeling back down by the girl’s head. When she reaches down to adjust a stray lock of hair, though, the fairy comes streaking back, perching on the girl’s shoulder and holding out her arms in a clear gesture of “no”, her expression indignant.

“Nami, you needn’t be so cold,” Mamizou laughs. “She just helped save Recette’s life, show some thanks!”

Nami, the fairy, and Recette, the apprentice. It’s nice to finally have names to attach to them. It strikes you just how young the girl is – she’s even younger than you were when He betrayed your master, you, and your entire world. You can only hope that this traumatic experience doesn’t impress upon her too deeply.

You’ll do whatever it takes to prevent another from having to take the same path you did.

… she does remind you a bit of yourself, though. It’s not the Hope in her blood, although that is still a pressing question. It’s not even the way she was able to keep her cool with death literally snapping at her heels.

No, it’s something else…

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

CHOOSE YOUR SHARED PHYSICAL TRAIT

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, it’s that time. As Recette’s father, he surely passed some trait along that makes him pause for a moment.

… but, y’know I never really described Sai in depth. It’s been a kind of intentional device – Sai’s focus is anywhere but his own appearance beyond “in a practical robe” and “good luck I’m behind seven illusions” damn it I wanted to make a sevenfold veil joke. Recette’s scenes were written from her point of view, more or less, so I sidestepped describing her as well.

But now the father is looking at the daughter, and he can’t help but wrinkle his brow a bit in thought.

He’s totally too dumb to flat out realize he’s sired a daughter, though. But honestly, can you blame him? He’s a zombai goast, he can’t reproduce, so that’s a possibility he can instantly dismiss, right? Right?

For those of you going “yeah, goasts can’t reproduce, the fuck’s with that?”, there’s a reason I need to write the Ran scenes in Mayohiga out properly. Said scenes should also dispel some of the MIIIIIINDRAPE crowd amongst you, hopefully.

That being said, as the author, I’ve honestly had absolutely fucking zero clue as to Sai’s appearance myself. inb4 self-insert So, while I preach “don’t leave everything up to the readers” pretty often, I feel this is a case where I’m going to have to.

Also, I figure you guys would like having free reign on this vote. I’ll throw out a small list of things for ideas as my own contribution. I’ll assemble the rest of Recette’s appearance around this one shared trait, taking into account that Ran’s the mother.

[ ] Write in.

-Skunk stripe in the hair.
-A shared, unusual hair color.
-Hair that does something unusual.
-Shared eye color. heterochromatic eyes are b& like the fist of the north star, besides Kogasa would have made some comment about that already
-Shared unusual pupils.
-Similar shape of a basic feature, like the nose/eyes/ears/chin/lips.
-goddamn it why can I only think of stuff relating to hair and eyes

This vote is going to remain open for at least an entire day, maybe two, as it’s got a bit of gravity behind it. I don’t want anyone to miss a 12-16 hour voting window just because I needed to keep a rapid pace of updates.

For all of you fagets who are now crying “DAILY UPDATES WHEN, NOVEMBER CHALLENGE FAILED”, I have but one word:

dolls

fck u Hal
>> No. 174942
>>174941
[x]Brown, straight hair, brown eyes. What more do you need.

And I love you too balista~
>> No. 174943
>>174941
One thing that comes to mind is that during the Christmas update Recette said this about her relationship with Meiling:
>She’s got dragon blood in her, yes, and so do I – but that’s exactly why I know, it’s not the same blood, and we can both tell.

So while it's somewhat more blatantly supernatural than "she has my eyes", given that Sai is likely much more interested in her magical features than her surface physical ones at this point, I wouldn't be surprised at all if draconic blood very similar to his own was the first shared trait he recognized.

Of course, that doesn't do much to help with her physical description, but I'd like it just the same.
>> No. 174945
>>174943

Ah, yes.

Sai is going to note that there's draconic blood in Recette. However, he may be a magus of hundreds of years of training, but for all his draconic-themed wings spells he's no Meiling, who is, y'know, actually a dragon (at least in TB canon).

Put it this way. Recette knows that she's not Meiling's child the same way a dust mite could not have been sired by a blue whale. However, she hasn't the senses to look at Sai and say "hey Dad", and likewise Sai isn't going to look at Recette and have a mental breakdown.

But they are going to be able to recognize each other as of draconic descent. It's kind of like the sorcerers of D&D 3.5 - supposedly they're all of draconic descent, but the blood is so diluted they're unable to tell just where said draconic blood came from. They can't look at each other and say "you and I both have the blood of LLothwulgar the Hungry from millenia past". (For the record, I have no idea where Sai's/Recette's blood would have come from in the farflung past. I hardly think it'll matter, anyways.)

However, Meiling herself is going to take one sniff at both of them and fly into an apoplectic rage. If she ever does, that is.

Pic only tangentially related.
>> No. 174946
[x]Brown, straight hair, brown eyes.

Oh shit, I clicked the wrong thing. Let's try this again.

I remember you brought up the issue of Sai's appearance when you talked about having a picture commissioned. What happened to that?
>> No. 174947
>>174944

DOA

Pinged five artists, actually got as discussing piece details on two, one noped when I described the composition and style of what I wanted and the other named a preposterously insultingly high price even after I told her how much I could pay her. Like, it wasn't even a gentle "eh, what you're asking for is outside the range of what I generally do, that'll be extra to the tune of X", it was "that'll be X please". I didn't even bother responding to that.

Not naming any names, though.
>> No. 174948
>>174941
> I wanted to make a sevenfold veil joke
The joke is that it's another full progression broken as hell spellcasting prestige class
>> No. 174949
>>174945
>...he's no Meiling, who is, y'know, actually a dragon (at least in TB canon).
>Recette knows that she's not Meiling's child the same way a dust mite could not have been sired by a blue whale.
It seems like you're emphasizing the generational gap/draconic power disparity here, but that's not really not what I was getting at. I took "not the same blood" in the context the of quote not as commentary on the blood's power, but on its type; that is, they both could tell that Meiling was a different sort of dragon than Recette's ancestor. I suppose the dust mite/blue whale analogy applies in that sense, too, but in context she was talking about how distinct they were from one another- her whole rant made it clear that part of her frustration was in lacking similarities to Meiling, inhibiting her mother from fully understanding her. Dreams and talents Meiling doesn't have, "different as night and day", all that. The fact that both of them could tell that they were unrelated thanks to supernatural senses was just the icing on the cake of dissimilarity.

So what I was expecting in terms of blood recognition was less on the scale of "she is my daughter" and more "she is my ethnicity". Which might not immediately mean that much to Sai, since for all he knows the Travelers have some sorcerers of his general sort in their ranks and she's one of their kids, but I doubt Recette considers it that commonplace.

Meiling picking them out right away is bound to end hilariously badly what with the Taint thing, though.
>> No. 174950
>>174941
[x]Brown, Tawny straight hair, green eyes.

Mild Celtic Perfect Hair and Eyes tidepissing.
>> No. 174952
[x]Brown, straight hair, brown eyes.

Sounds good to me.

Maybe also noting that they have similar draconic ancestry.
It wouldn't mean much since there are a finite amount of dragon types, and dragons are the second biggest sluts in D&D (after humans of course) and have cross-bred with just about everything, but it's just a fact worth noticing.
>> No. 174956
[x]Brown, straight hair, brown eyes. What more do you need.

Recette looks like Recette. Who else could she be?
>> No. 174975
[x]Brown, Tawny straight hair, green eyes.
>> No. 174977
The winning vote is simple and common: you hardly call anyone who shares your hair related. However, sharing all three of the main characteristics and specially in gensokyo 'the land of the youkai with red and gree eyes and of the humans with dark hair' it kinds of stand out.

Still, I'll vote for something else to keep things interesting.

[x] Moon birthmark in neck
>> No. 174979
For as much as I support Recette looking like Recette, author specifically asked for defining features, and brown hair with brown eyes doesn't exactly stand out.
Like the others mentioned, Sai should instead recognize something more spiritual/magical/supernatural about her, like her diluted draconic origin.
I think it fits his character, being more sensitive to magical happenings than physical ones.
>> No. 174991
>>174979
Agreed on all counts.

That doesn't mean that Recette and Sai can't both have plain brown hair and brown eyes; it just means that the two have to also share some other, more distinctive trait.

(At first I wanted to use eye shape as the trait in question, but that's kind of at odds with typical depictions of any anime-style characters: they almost invariably lack visible epicanthic folds and -- where such detail may be present, as in the Sakuya picture heading this thread -- typically have futae mabuta as well. ZUN's own drawings are... less than clear on the matter.

Then again, despite D&D usually being "medieval European fantasy", there's no reason Sai couldn't be the one with stereotypically Asian features... but amusing as it would be, I'm reluctant to do so.)

>>174977
Well, it's better than the currently-leading vote, but birthmarks usually aren't inherited. Admittedly, on the other hand, magic -- but then it's too informative. It has to be a trait that someone not related to Sai could plausibly have.

After comparing ZUN's drawings to Recette's picture for too long, I was about to suggest either a strongly pointed jaw or a widow's peak -- but how about, oh, [x] squarish fingertips, instead?

Also I need to cut back on my use of italics -- and em-dashes, while I'm at it.
>> No. 174995
>>174977
we jojo part 6 now?
>> No. 174998
>>174991
Its double funny when you consider balista's Asian. It makes Sai that much more of self insert!

There's a pic of him in the AWA thread
>> No. 174999
>>174991
>birthmarks usually aren't inherited.

Uh.

Err...


No! You didn't get it. It's a magical birthmark! A reaction of his particular kind of draconian blood when exposed to taint. A 'safe spot' in him useless in all aspects expect as a symbol of his body's refusal to his inevitable demise.
So you see, in a way, he was destined to be the one to stop Him.

Uh? Then it isn't birthmark anymore? Sh-shut up! It's magic! A spell made by an amnesiac writer who survived all his family! I don't have to explain shit!
>> No. 175005
[x] Cheekbones
[x] Mouth shape
-[x] Same smile/frown/look when concentrating
[x] Bent pinky finger

Eh. Best I can do.
>> No. 175006
It may not be too late to make Sai a black man. I can't find any references to his skin color anywhere, nor to Recette's.

So she would be half black, half fox. Or just a foxy black woman, once she grows up.
>> No. 175026
[x]Brown, straight hair, brown eyes. What more do you need.

The association is forever burned into my brain. Why change it.
(Given she's Ran's kid shouldn't she have fox ears and stuff as well?)

As for an actual distinguishing feature, I'd go with a facial expression or behavioral tic. On the other hand, that's a bit hard to notice while sleeping.

[X] Facial Structure - While not evident in anime art style, IRL it's often a very strong indicator of parentage.
>> No. 175027
>>175005
Sai blurts out "Yayifications"

I wish to see this.
>> No. 175031
>>174998

I got a picture with ZUN~

>>174999

u wot

>>175006

>no mention of skin tone anywhere

Hey, this guy noticed!

For the record, though, it won't be an immediate red flag. Many of the Travelers are actually of varying shades and distinctly not-Japanese-looking which is a marked dissimilarity between them and Gensokyo natives. While some are what we'd call "caucasian", others range from creamy-coffee colored to blackface-tier. Note that youkai come full circle and are whatever the hell they want to be.

Still waiting on ZUN to make dark-skinned touhous.

I've entertained myself by reading Sai's lines in my head with Samuel Jackson's voice.

>>175026

gap hagging

>>175027

pls

By the way, pic related.

>>/at/32964
>> No. 175033
>>175031
>I've entertained myself by reading Sai's lines in my head with Samuel Jackson's voice.
I'm not the only one? Vindication!
>> No. 175050
>>175031
I've mostly read them in a younger Liam Neeson's voice myself. It makes Sai's hateful words to both dying Him and Yukari so much more bone chilling and... Inevitable, which even fits with Sai's special "Your soul is a cosmic force." thing.

So I'd make Sai some kind of Caucasian, if only to keep myself from bursting into giggles every time he talks.
>> No. 175054
>>175050
that sounds more right than Samuel L jackson. A mix of wisdom and ruthlessness.
>> No. 175070
>>175050
>>175054

>Liam Neeson, starring as Sai Kawarou

I dunno about that, he's a bit gruffer than I'd like. Also I can't think of him as anything but ridiculously Irish, even though I know he's quite capable of not being so.

A few good ideas are floating around but the overwhelming vote is "some innocuous features, just a whole bunch of them". Quite workable, but I'm going to give the vote one more day to stew over.

this means another day of dolls aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa
>> No. 175072
Very well.

In lieu of my other vote I'll go with:

[x] Light brown skin
[x] White hair

I hope this' enough.
>> No. 175079
The thing about the Samuel L. Jackson voice is that even if Sai actually has it, his daughter couldn't possibly inherit it (if she did, that would be incredibly disturbing). So it's not strictly relevant to the discussion of shared traits.

For that matter, as her skin color should be a mix of Sai's and Ran's, it won't match Sai's either- if it does match his that would only be because Ran happens to match him as well, in either case likely preventing him from recognizing his own influence on it.

So.

[x] Facial structure
[x] Magical draco-ethnicity
>> No. 175080
>>175079
What if she had the voice of James Earl Jones?
>> No. 175086
>>175080
What if she had the voice of Shirley Bassey?
>> No. 175087
[x] Still White

Reminding balista and the readers Sai actually is described as having white skin at the start of the story. And while I am willing to believe that the whole "being undead" thing makes it impossible to get a tan, Ran didn't seem to think his Ghost/Spirit looked any different from his Undead body to the point that she even forgot he was Undead to start with. Sai having any other skin color at this point would just cause massive cognitive dissonance.
>> No. 175088
Are we this nigger?
>> No. 175093
[X] Facial structure

I'd pick nose, but official art of Recette has almost no nose whatsoever.

>>175026
>(Given she's Ran's kid shouldn't she have fox ears and stuff as well?)
The kitsune myths usually have the child of a human and kitsune as human with some physical or supernatural traits of the kitsune parent. But not something that's a dead giveaway like fox ears or tail since the human parent usually doesn't even know their spouse is a kitsune. Of course, since this is the union of a kitsune and a ghost, we're in weird magical shit territory.
>> No. 175096
>>175006
I'm going to have to go with this. I haven't seen a good primary black character who's just black, as opposed to "needed to black for x" since Shadow American Gods. Too many characters just default to homochromatic, and we could at least try to do something to set precedent the other way. See if we can't do a little good here and there.
Although for physical character design, I see him more as a Samuel L Jackson with a purple sword than one with an afro. His physical and speaking language there seems to fit what Sai shows externally, at least to me.
>> No. 175097
>>175096
The only problem is that it would technically be a retcon from the very first post of the story.

Now, Marcus on the other hand...
>> No. 175102
[x]the label that says "daughter of evil Gensokyan invader"

More seriously:
[x] the foggy waviness of the end of her tail. Some ghost in her ancestry has made the tip, well, ghostly.

Or maybe the tail works similar to ghost appearance rules and she has to concentrate to make it appear, otherwise it's invisible.
>> No. 175103
[x]>>175097
I agree with both parts of this post.

Sage cause I just voted, but not yet on color.
>> No. 175106
>>175097
I'll concede the point, but it's not insurmountable; it could be bleached from the undead ritual, 'real' skin covered by illusions, &c. It depends on how Balista feels about writing it. But even if Sai and Recette wouldn't work, it would be nice to have incidental ethnic variety. I personally read Marcus as having an Othellian air (who has, indeed, been cast by James Earl Jones).


To notice:
-[x] Facial bone structure
This gives a good base for a niggling feeling of "familiar." I might've steered away from this, as he's an orphan with a foster brother, but he is an illusionist who must know and be able to identify attributes, including his own.
>> No. 175107
>>175106
It's not just the first point of being Undead making it impossible to have natural skin pigmentation(which was circumvented by using a Cleric Spell to partially restore body coloration, woo Sai being a Generic Spellcaster and not a Sorcerer), but suddenly changing skin color from not-white to Bleached Bone was never, ever noticed by Him with True Seeing or the Permanent Disjunction zones which would have killed any Illusion. And even His Taint addled mind would have noticed the sudden change, which would have made Him come to the natural conclusion that Sai was Undead, which would have ruined the entire final confrontation against Him. Ran also didn't notice Sai looking any different in his Spiritual form than from his Undead body, as previously noted, to the point where she even forgot he was Undead when she first met him. Sai also didn't have access to Arcane Magic when his spirit was fished out of the Sanzu, so using Illusions as an excuse doesn't work there either.

There are just too many previously established things for me to just go with "He was black when alive but He didn't notice the glaring change of skincolor and Ran didn't mention him suddenly being a different color as a Spirit that was mentioned as looking exactly the same as his disturbingly lifelike Undead body." This late in the story, it just makes too many plotholes.

On another note, now I've got Marcus pegged as a biglargehuge black dude with an Aussie accent that writes magic scrolls and makes magic potions for the locals, and not even the Bitch Archmage has the gall to make fun of him for playing with Dolls. It's a very funny mental image.
>> No. 175117
>>175107

>accidentally compared his skin to the marble of the demiplane in the very first post

fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu I completely missed that

In all honesty though that one line doesn't make any sense, then, because going about with bone-white skin doesn't make for a particularly convincing "I'm totally a regular human" disguise. I'm pretty sure I wrote that line when I had it in my head that he was a Necropolitan, but I never went back and scrubbed it when I introduced the "but he looks completely human to all senses" bit. Really, that one line is the only one I can find.

If I had some way of scrubbing it out completely, I would. That Sai's physical identity was never established was a theme I started trying to underlay as early as the first thread.

Anyways, votes will be called/the next real story update tomorrow. I still need to finish writing more dolls.

Out of curiosity what do people think about it? I mean it's inherently gratuitous and completely not plot related, but I'd like to think that people want to see it finished if only because I don't want to leave a story half-complete ever again.
>> No. 175118
>>175117
>what do people think about it?
>I don't want to leave a story half-complete ever again
I think that Tainted Bonds has been taunting us with its incompleteness with every extended break between updates, much more flagrantly and frustratingly than any unfinished pornographic side story.
>> No. 175119
>>175118
Have to agree with this anon. As much as I like dolls, I'd prefer to see this updated instead.
>> No. 175121
Being so general feels like a copout, but I guess it'll work.
[x] Facial structure

>>175117
Eh. I'd rather have this, but I infer you're almost done with the dolls, so I'll live.
>> No. 175122
>>175117
I liked that first post, though, same as the bit where he had that tic where he kept closing one eye when he was focusing on something complex. It gave just enough physical personality and form to Sai to keep me more interested in him than if he was some completely physically undefined character, with the possibility of still being able to vote on other character traits later. Also, if a pale person spends a few years away from sunlight, they wouldn't look too different from a Necropolitan engineered to have working muscle, blood, organs, etc, so considering that He probably spent close to two years between actually seeing Sai, going from pale to paler due to seclusion wouldn't be a surprise to Him.

On the note of old and forgotten character traits, does Recette share that little facial tic with Sai? I know you stopped writing it, but I still like to think it happens, and I'm amused by the thought of other characters noticing them doing it.

I like dolls as a Happy break between The Grim Adventures of Sai no Kawarou, but I don't care too much if it doesn't actually finish any time soon.

Fluffy Tails a Best smut anyways.
>> No. 175125
>>175122
>>175117
You did say that the post in which he defeats him was done haphazardly and we could skip to Gensokyo directly, which is funny because that was one of the best and most emotional posts of this story.

As for dolls... sorry I make a habit of reading only one story per writefag so I'll check it out when this one ends (in hiatus)
>> No. 175133
Well, it looks like Haitian Sai isn't going to be a thing, for better or worse. Fair enough. It was a pretty random idea anyways.

>>175118
>>175119

>write moar TB pls thx

welp

>>175121

>almost done

You poor bastard, I'm expecting to need at least another three or four updates of length to finish it properly. Like I said, though, I'm going to begin updates of TB proper tomorrow, and save the rest of Dolls for another time when I want to leave a vote open.

>>175122

>two years between seeing Sai

That's the thing. He (capital H) completely didn't recognize Sai as his foster brother, otherwise you can imagine that his reaction would have been several times more severe than the "who's this annoyance" that it was.

>eye-closing tic for both Sai and Recette

Hell, I'll think about bringing it back some time. This is why I like talking with you guys, I get ideas!

>fluffy tails smut

It's my next "side" story target after I finish Dolls, I promise.

>>175125

Did I really? When?

>not reading Dolls

B-b-b-but gratuitous smut between characters that haven't even appeared in the main story!

Here's the latest update by the way: >>/at/33006
>> No. 175139
The way I see it a post here or in /at/ is making progress, which is more than I could say for all the dead stories.
>> No. 175170
Herp, didn't bother actually posting a called vote after starting to write.

I'll be keeping in mind some of what's been discussed, but it looks like Recette is going to have some semblance to her namesake.

Votes called. Pic related. Writing now. Please wait warmly~
>> No. 175175
RESULTS

[X] Brown, straight hair, brown eyes.
-[X] A fusion of other things.

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

... well, it’s obvious enough what she is. Although her light brown eyes that you saw before she fell asleep don’t help to distinguish her in any way, she’s certainly not a tengu nor a Gensokyo native; the former are blatantly animalistic in some way, and the latter have smaller eyes, slanted features, and almost universally black hair. No, there’s clearly Traveler blood in her. It’s the only way to explain the light brown hair, the round eyes, the softer features.

You know, she kind of looks like you, Kogasa chuckles.

You scoff. Not even close. She’s a girl, first of all.

She presses the point, though. Well, yeah, but you don’t think there’s any resemblance?

You pause. The sweep of her cheeks is a bit like that when you were young, but after you reached manhood face became much more square. I’m sure it’s entirely coincidental.

How can you say that? You don’t even know exactly who your own parents were, or where they came from.

You give a mental roll of the eyes. It’s entirely possible that I’m some cross-planar foundling, perhaps, but I didn’t stick out on my home plane in the slightest. It’s far more likely that I’m native to the Travelers’ plane, honestly. Besides, you note, her hair’s lighter and straighter than mine, and my chin’s more pointed.

She still won’t let go of it, though, actually hijacking your magical senses to scan the girl herself. What about that bit of draconic blood in her then, huh? Huh?

You sigh. One thing about dragons from our plane and those native to many others is that they’re more biologically flexible than even humans are. As such, you can find traces of the blood damn near everywhere. For that matter, almost every sorcerer on our plane, myself included, got their start from this draconic blood expressing itself in our youth, although I hear it’s different elsewhere in the universe.

Oh. A mental pause, even though not even two seconds have passed since Kogasa was stymied by the fairy’s gestures. So that doesn’t make you related?

You’d snort if you could. Not in the slightest. It does reinforce the evidence that she’s a Traveler, though.

… that still doesn’t make sense, though. Kogasa falls deep into thought, scanning all your memories of the city streets. We still haven’t seen a single youth as old as her with Traveler blood, even though we’ve seen plenty about half as old. Given how it’s unlikely something happened to all of them except this girl right here, it’s much more likely that that’s where the generation is…

You give a shrug, and decide to swing the mental exchange somewhere more relevant. Really, what’s far more interesting is the Hope. Who did she get that from? Ran – Ran and I are the only original recipients of it. Chen received it from her shikigami bond to her, and Youmu from… well. And then Maribel took it from me, and Renko from her… Actually, that last example has you pause. Maybe it’s not as hard or difficult to get it to spread as you think it is. Not that you’ve done much thinking on the subject at all.

“Recette, wake up,” Mamizou says, touching her apprentice’s brow. A faint hint of mana you can’t immediately identify flows into the younger girl – some youkai hedge magic or the other. “Where’s Meiling?”

Meiling! That’s Sakuya’s friend!

“… mother,” Recette mumbles as she stirs, then jerks awake as the fairy plants a solid kick on her nose. “Mother!” she screams as she bolts upright. “We need to help Mother!”

So Sakuya’s friend in need is Recette’s mother? That makes you a lead on where she might have gotten the Hope, then.

At the same time, though, you overhear a very interesting report from Mamizou’s sending stones. “Enemy contact made. Humanoid approximately one hundred meters tall. Ranged attacks ineffective, poisonous miasma preventing melee engagement. It’s headed straight for the village. Please advise.”

… well, shit.

Recette and Mamizou start screaming incoherently at the stones, each other, and themselves in panic. You need time to strategize, to exchange information.

You know just how to get it.

Move with me. Again, Kogasa lets you dictate her movements as she seems to sweep several of the potions and scrolls off the animate rug and into an extradimensional space out of her hands, an action that no one seems to notice. In reality, you channel invisibility through her touch onto them and scoop them up yourself. As she does so, you dismiss the wall of force Sakuya’s been pinned behind this entire time, renew the illusions on her, and slide her out into the hallway along with you. Keep them occupied until I get Sakuya back.

Kogasa begins quite helpfully shouting questions about the village’s fighting capability and any prior preparations, questions that fly straight over Mamizou’s attempts to give orders to withdraw and Recette’s hurried explanation of what she was running from. None of it is particularly useful to you, though, as you unfurl the scroll of greater restoration and discharge it into Sakuya’s twitching body.

The effect is immediate – the maid’s spine arches as all her limbs tense up. After they relax, you carefully set her feet down on the floor, allowing her to take her own weight as she gets her bearings. Her eyes uncross as she pulls in her lolling tongue, bringing up a hand to wipe the drool off of her chin.

“… what does she think she’s doing?!” she suddenly cries, blinking rapidly as if to dispel some last hallucination.

“Quiet,” you hush her, although the silence around you is keeping you from being overheard by the rest of them inside the office and vice versa. “She managed to escape after she incapacitated you, but forget her. We’ve got a much bigger problem.”

“… Meiling.” She straightens her back, looking guilty. “But – you didn’t get her? Then – I’ve failed to hold up my end – “

“Forget about bargains. You were right about that ‘threat to Gensokyo’ part. A lot of people are going to die if we don’t act fast.”

She swallows, then nervously straightens the braid by the side of her head, drawing it out from where it’s wedged itself behind her ear. “Where are we? What do you want me to do?”

“We’re outside Mamizou’s office. While you were still out, she sent you a message asking for you, your colleagues, and the ‘Scarlet Devil’ to come to Gensokyo.”

“They’re already on their way,” she says, confirming your earlier guess, “but they’ll never clear Makai customs in time.”

Speaking of time… “I need you pull everyone in the office into another one of those time-stop-bubbles you did when you attacked me.”

“Exactly what’d I do,” she says. “We’re going to have a strategy meeting?”

“Yes, but one important thing. I will be speaking through my familiar – you tried to catch the sniper with her, you recall?” When she nods, you continue, “It’s important that no one else in the room knows about me other than you and her, you understand?”

“Why is that?” she asks, her brow darkening. A waste of time. You don’t have the time for this.

“The same reason I’ll need asylum after this is all over. I can’t trust Yukari. Betray my trust, and I’ll abandon you. And speaking as someone who’s brushed against the threat attacking Gensokyo right now…” You pause to let this sink in. “… I’m the only one who knows how to fight this threat. You’ll all die without me.” Perhaps untrue – Ran, Chen, and Youmu are capable fighters as well, and as long as you can you’ll fight against this Tainted invasion with them – but you’re not taking any chances with the border youkai.

Her expression darkens, but faced with such a threat she can’t do anything other than nod in assent. “I will keep your presence confidential, then. You’ve proven yourself trustworthy enough to me, and – “

“Sakuya, we don’t have the time. Now.

Click.
>> No. 175180
YES! Things are finally moving forward!
>> No. 175181
>Really, what’s far more interesting is the Hope. Who did she get that from? Ran – Ran and I are the only original recipients of it. Chen received it from her shikigami bond to her, and Youmu from… well.
Err, Chen got it straight from Jizo:
>“But Sai came by and told me I had the power to cleanse the souls with my magic too now!” she cries, jumping in place. Wait, you never – Jizo.
And we never learned if he gave it to Youmu or not because she promptly got herself killed.
>> No. 175183
>>175181

... y'know I was just thinking I had made a mistake somewhere.
>> No. 175214
>but after you reached manhood

Gentle reminder that even after over 900 years of training, planning, and suffering, Sai is forever the ghost of a 15 year old that killed himself on the cross. While puberty is one thing, Sai never got the chance to fully grow, physically. Ran even called him out and teased him about it, which was great.

With that said, many of the natives are used to people looking completely unrelated to their actual age, so it's probably not a big deal.
>> No. 175218
>>175214

In less-modern societies, the age of majority was often lower than 18, sometimes dipping as low as 13. 15 was the local age of majority of the nearby farming village that Sai grew up next to, and so he considers himself a man - even if others, as you so noted, disagree.

For those of you chuckling about shota, though, Sai's mental projection of himself is several years advanced ahead of 15 years of age. It's still not quite as tall or brawny as most, though.

Posting because I may not make my update today. I managed to royally piss off my folks and the ensuing shitstorm might pull me away before I finish today's work. Screwed by the networks.
>> No. 175219
>>175218
I thought after spending so many hundreds of years in his Undead body, learning to move every single tendon perfectly, his mental projection would have gotten more concretely stuck on it's exact form.

Though wandering around Mayohiga for a very, very, very, very long time as a spirit and concept could undo some of that, I guess...
>> No. 175237
>>175170
Still think ghost tail'd be neat. Just sayin.

Anyhow, waiting warmly.
>> No. 175253
>>175219
Well, he was basically like a ghost possessing his own body so his image of himself wouldn't necessarily be locked to his body.
I imagine it's more like wearing a suit all day, every day. Sure you get used to seeing yourself in that suit, but it's not who you are.
>> No. 175263
>>175253
The suit anology doesn't really fit, because it's still his body that he grew up in, and many people do subconsciously associate themselves with what they wear. Sai's mind was specifically tailored to perfectly control that exact, specific body for centuries. It doesn't matter that his soul was technically bound to Marcus, his mind, which is what shapes the spirit, was made to absolutely conform to his actual body, even though he wasn't spiritually bound to it. If he had, over the years, started subconsciously thinking he was more physically mature, it wouldn't have conformed to his actual, less mature body, causing imperfect control, like how children who are going through major growth spurts are slightly clumsy.

Marcus made sure to beat that right out of Sai, and Yuyuko even comments on how he looks like an actual person instead of a ghost that subconsciously projects a different mental image than it's bodies physical shape.

Sterile conjecture though, word of God, etc.
>> No. 175552
>>175218
I guess you're still stuck in the shitstorm? Hope you get out.
>> No. 176418
>>175552
He'll fly out soon enough.
>> No. 177493
You still alive there, Balista? We believe in you!
>> No. 177621
So I'm still here suffering at home, because for some reason doctors can't do a simple eye exam:

1. When they're supposed to, before they send in the request for a medical waiver.
2. Properly, after they hold me back for an entire month just so they can do the test with their own doctors.

It's one puff of air, you forget to do the glaucoma test and that pins me down for an entire two months as you hem and haw? Bloody government bureaucracies.

But I found time here and there to put something together. Get it while it's hot, lads. I don't know how much more I can put out before my number finally comes up, one way or the other.

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

You can tell that you’re in that same bubble of time-stasis once more, but this time you’re not just barely keeping up with nested, repeated castings of absorption-powered celerity – the artifact is taking you for the ride of its own accord this time. One less thing to have to worry about.

… that thing is still absolutely absurd.

Recasting your illusions over yourself, you follow Sakuya into the office, reaching out to Kogasa within your mind as you do so. No response; just like when Sakuya ambushed you before, Kogasa’s there and yet not, unmoving in time. She still exists and thus supports you, and yet the only thoughts in motion are your own, just like before she found you. It’s a surprisingly lonely, forsaken feeling. You haven’t even seen the sun set once, and already you yearn for her presence.

As you step around the privacy screen, though, Sakuya extends the time-stop around your karakasa companion, and thus the bubbly youth you’ve come to cherish returns to you. “ – can we – we – hello?” For a moment, you simply stand silent, amusing yourself by watching her wave her hands in front of Recette’s face where the young girl stares, unmoving. “… oh. Oh! Hi Sakuya!” she chimes, turning to face the two of you.

“Hello…?” The maid trails off, looking for a name, but instead of asking Kogasa herself, she glances back at you questioningly. Although you’ve already made yourself invisible, Recette and Mamizou are still outside the timestop, so there’s no harm in you speaking aloud for her benefit. “You could just ask her, you know. She’s a person too.”

Kogasa doesn’t give her the chance, though, cutting in just as the maid turns and opens her mouth. “I’m Kogasa the karakasa! I’m – uh, his familiar!” She almost announced herself as “the Shadow’s familiar” before you nipped that urge in the bud.

Stop that already, you chide her. I know the concept tickles your fancy, but keep it to yourself, alright? She returns to you an emotion without any explicit words; it’s very obviously a pout though.

“It’s, uh, nice to meet you,” Sakuya replies, a bit off-balance from Kogasa’s demeanor. “He’ll being talking through you, he said?”

“Yes indeed!” She makes some kind of… pose. That’s really all you can describe it as. “I’ll try not embarrass myself.”

Looking like that? Too late. You’re pleased to see that that little barb makes her cough and turn red.

As Sakuya raises an eyebrow at her position, she snaps back into an all-too-stiff stance of attention that looks just as silly as her previous… contortion. “Um, uh, okay. Uh, bring them in with us. Let’s get this meeting started!”

Disguising a chuckle with a cough, the head maid takes a second to wipe the smile off of her face before positioning in plain view of Recette and Mamizou. A moment later, they’re dragged into the time-stop with a pop pop. Their sentences splutter out to a halt as they realize what’s happened.

“Good afternoon, ladies.” Although she was a spasming, drooling wreck not five minutes ago, now she’s the very embodiment of elegance, grabbing the hem of her skirt and delivering a perfect courtesy. “I received your message, Mamizou. I came as quickly as I could.”

“Sakuya!” Mamiou exclaims, her jacket’s tails flapping as her own, far more voluminous tail slaps back and forth in glee. “You came much faster than I expected…” It only shakes twice, though, as her face falls. “Where are the rest of you…?”

Sakuya grimaces. “Unfortunately, I could not bring them through Makai customs through a timestop, only myself.”

“Miss Sakuya!” Recette blurts out. Without the slightest bit of dignity, she runs up to the maid and grabs fistfuls of the black outfit, dragging the older woman down to her level. “You’ve got to help Mother, she –”

“Patience, girl,” Sakuya hisses, carefully peeling away the girl’s fingers. “Now that I’m here, we have time to plan. Let’s not rush headlong into anything.”

Recette practically vibrates in place, glancing between Mamizou, Kogasa, and Sakuya. Clearly, every inch of her wants to just go, go and find and fight… but after a few seconds, her movements still, and her expression hardens. She drops a hand to her midsection where her outfit is shredded over newly-healed flesh, her fingers clenching into a fist, and you can see her conclude in her mind that she’s too weak to simply fly into another battle like that – or worse – without further preparations.

You were also too weak, once…

You shake your head to dispel the strange feeling, despite Kogasa internal jeers of see I told you so!. It’s not like you can use Sakuya’s timestop to train Recette for hundreds of years, after all. Instead, you prompt the karakasa to start a thread of conversation aloud for Sakuya’s benefit. “Mamizou, what were you just hearing from the scouts you were talking with? You seemed very concerned with them.”

The tanuki stiffens. “It’s some kind of giant.”

“Define giant?” Sakuya asks, having not heard of this already.

“They said it was ‘approximately one hundred meters tall’,” Recette shivers. “And it was moving at a dead run towards the village. Forget the square-cube law, it’s as nimble as a fairy on the wing, and actually bypassed – actually outran the patrols that spotted it, and those patrols can fly.”

“They wouldn’t have outrun Aya,” Mamizou mutters underneath her breath. “And with the fan, she could actually have a shot at taking it head on...”

Recette actually glares at her mentor. “That’s neither here nor there nor relevant to the problem at hand, and we both know that she doesn’t possess the brute force that it’d require to topple it. Gods, we don’t even know if it can be hurt, it dodged the lightning ballista.”

Well, if Recette is talking about the same type of weapon that existed on your own home plane, that’s not actually that hard. It doesn’t actually shoot a lightning bolt, just a supercharged projectile at ludicrous speeds. Still, though, something that large moving that fast is not to be trifled with; a single running footfall would create a massive crater, and a full-body punch would contain more kinetic energy than an avalanche, all concentrated into a single blow.

“So we must stop that first, then,” Sakuya states simply, ignoring the quarrel on the side. “It doesn’t matter how fast it is, if I can just – “

You rifle through what panicked reports you overheard a minute ago, and prompt Kogasa again. Tell her why she’s not a suitable opponent. “As a living, breathing human, Sakuya, you can’t approach it. For that matter, almost no one can. It’s surrounded by a thick miasma that travels with it.”

“A ‘miasma’?” Sakuya asks.

Mamizou shakes her head. “More accurately, poison. Not even the grass it walks over survives.” She looks at Sakuya’s waist pointedly, following the chain of her time-stopping watch. “And even assuming you were someone immune to this… could you even hurt something as large as that?”

The maid thinks for a second, looking grim. “Not directly… but I think I could, bit by bit, create a physical barrier in front of it whenever it attempted to move. Damage it by extension…”

“And where will you get the energy to move such large amounts of earth and stone?” Mamizou interrupts. “Have you developed super strength and not told any of us?”

For a moment you think Sakuya might say something out of order, but you actually get to watch her open and then close her mouth as she considers better of the act. “No,” she admits, although you can clearly see she wants to take that foe on – with your aid, of course. “But what can stop it?”

“… Alice and her husband have something that should be able to go toe-to-toe with it,” Recette says slowly, as if unsure if she should be revealing this information. Nami perches on her shoulder and makes some swooshing noises as she obviously attempts to imitate something much bigger, making huge deliberate punching and kicking motions.

“Toe-to-toe with a giant, poison-spewing giant?” Sakuya asks, a bit skeptical. You can tell that her attitude is more out of professional pride than disbelief, though – she’s overplaying her wounded pride intentionally.

“Some kind of construct of humanoid proportions, and supposedly just as fast as this thing, if the last specs that came in from the kappa labs are anything to go by.” Nami’s slow movements in light of this fact seem a bit off, but her pantomime can be forgiven.

… the Travelers have really, really outdone themselves. You had no idea the artificers were that capable. “Can it fight this thing? Can it defeat this thing?” Kogasa asks for you.

The tanuki thinks for a second, but can only shrug. “Even if it can’t, it should be able to at least get in its way. That’s all we really need at this point, until…”

You make an educated guess. Kogasa leans back, crosses her arms, and drops a name. “The ‘Sanctum Project’?”

Mamizou jumps a bit at that, but then settles back in her seat. “You overheard me at the front desk, I take it?” She suddenly looks quite embarrassed. “How much else did you overhear?”

There was a bit of flirting, if you were to judge the banter that went back and forth. Kogasa seems to come to the same conclusion, and suddenly has a mischievous expression on her face as she drawls, “Oooh, nooooothing at aaaaaall~”

“Enough,” Sakuya cuts in. “What is this ‘Sanctum Project’?”

“Given… an hour, tops, if the mages spend themselves to unconsciousness and we overload the transformers…” Mamizou snaps her fingers, and an abacus jumps of its own free will into her awaiting hand. Beads click back and forth and forth as she makes a series of calculations you can only guess at. “Yes, an hour. In an hour, we can move the entire village to safety onto its own demiplane, where they can take refuge from this attack.”

A grin breaks out on Sakuya’s face – one less thing to worry about – but then it fades away as something occurs “And the tengu? What will become of them? Do they have something similar?”

Mamizou sighs, and covers her face with a hand as she lets go of the abacus, letting it jump to the floor and then back onto the shelf from whence it came. “The tengu would hardly let the Travelers into their villages and install such unknown magitechnological enchantments and artifice in their very homes. They would sooner invite serial murderers into their beds.

Recette raises an odd question at that moment. “Won’t they see the village, er, Sanctuming away as abandonment? In lieu of any other population center, then the tengu on the mountain will be singled out.”

“Only noncombatants and those necessary for the process will be transported to safety, and even the latter can return on their own when they recover,” Mamizou says. “It’s certainly no substitute for a full retreat – due to the nature of the movement, the Sanctum Project isn’t permanent. If not everyone fights for Gensokyo, then there may not be a Gensokyo for the village to return to. I don’t want to think about what might happen should the Sanctum run out if the land is overrun.”

“You said it would still take an hour though, and there’s more than one pack of those… things,” Recette hisses, the pure venom in her voice making you all raise an eyebrow. It’s not just a sense of injury from her previous skirmish with them; you’re sure it’s the Hope in her system, calling for her to sally forth and destroy the Taint she knows is running rampant outside. “If they’re like that giant, they’ll also be headed for the villages. Both tengu and human.”

Mamizou coughs. “There are warriors on both sides, and I’m sure that Gensokyo’s finest incident solvers have been spirited away for a strategic briefing similar to the one we’re having right now. They’ll certainly deploy before either strongpoint is thrown into peril. Certainly,” she repeats to herself more quietly.

You don’t have Kogasa say anything, but the story matches up. You know that Yukari took away the Hakurei maiden, Chen, that mage Alice and who you presume is her husband all away to Mayohiga, and probably more than just them as well –

Ran, your subconscious wails, but you squash that thought far, far away. It doesn’t stop Kogasa from stiffening and turning a few shades lighter for no apparent reason, though. Fortunately, it seems that the other parties in the room are too concerned with the ongoing discussion to notice.

Your feelings are going to get you killed if this continues.

“And this all leaves the question of where Meiling is,” Sakuya mutters.

You might have something for that…

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

CHOOSE YOUR PATH TO CERTAIN DOOM

[ ] Perform a scrying and track Meiling down. This will clear you of your obligation to Sakuya sooner, rather than later. Besides, if Yukari’s got her merry band of incident solvers, then you’ll not reveal yourself if they’ll deploy to do what’s needed – after all, you’re likely to end up revealing yourself at the exact same critical locations and times, which might be awkward. But what’ll happen if you turn your back on the battle? Can you really put your trust in them to act when needed, when they’re led by that overly-paranoid gap hag?

[ ] Delay the search for Meiling, and focus on bolstering defense efforts. Meiling may have put out a cry for help, but if she’s anything like Sakuya says then she’d prefer that a search for her in particular be delayed in favor of the bigger picture. The only issue is that working to fill the gaps in Gensokyo’s defense might mean running into a certain mastermind, and in this situation you’re not sure you can gracefully explain your presence. Actually, you’re pretty sure you won’t get a chance to explain your presence at all.
>> No. 177622
[x] Perform a scrying and track Meiling down. This will clear you of your obligation to Sakuya sooner, rather than later. Besides, if Yukari’s got her merry band of incident solvers, then you’ll not reveal yourself if they’ll deploy to do what’s needed – after all, you’re likely to end up revealing yourself at the exact same critical locations and times, which might be awkward. But what’ll happen if you turn your back on the battle? Can you really put your trust in them to act when needed, when they’re led by that overly-paranoid gap hag?

That and I think it's better to fix it now than later.
>> No. 177624
[X] Perform a scrying and track Meiling down. This will clear you of your obligation to Sakuya sooner, rather than later. Besides, if Yukari’s got her merry band of incident solvers, then you’ll not reveal yourself if they’ll deploy to do what’s needed – after all, you’re likely to end up revealing yourself at the exact same critical locations and times, which might be awkward. But what’ll happen if you turn your back on the battle? Can you really put your trust in them to act when needed, when they’re led by that overly-paranoid gap hag?

"Led" is a strong word when it comes to the incident resolvers. Something tells me that even if Yukari wants to be a coward about it, there are quite a few who'd say "fuck yo' shit" and go anyway.

Also, five sudokus. You're rusty, Balista.
>> No. 177625
>mfw all these basic typos and grammar mistakes
>mispelled "Mamizou"

man I'm out of practice
>> No. 177628
[ ] Delay the search for Meiling, and focus on bolstering defense effort

Just feels like the right thing to do.
>> No. 177629
[X] Perform a scrying and track Meiling down. Also either grant Sakuya Hope or convince Recette to give Hope to others.
>> No. 177630
[X] Perform a scrying and track Meiling down.


Our best (and only) hope is, well, Hope. Yukari's merry band of troublesolvers probably don't have access to it Inb4 a weaponized Ran strapped into some form of soul-sucking machine to use the Hope in her. Recette would be a great help and the fastest way of convincing her that we're trustworthy (enough) would be to help Meiling.
>> No. 177631
[ ] Perform a scrying and track Meiling down
-[ ]Give Sakuya our "hope" ifkwim

You're back~
>> No. 177633
[x] Perform a scrying and track Meiling down.

My logic is that I want to save Meiling. I don't even need another reason.
>> No. 177634
[x] Perform a scrying and track Meiling down

>>177631
>Give her the H
>> No. 177639
>>177621
What exactly is stopping us from walking all over Gensokyo with Sakuya right now, blasting the hell out of everything Tainted with our unlimited Hope-infused spell slots and her unlimited timestop? Because "instantly solve all problems that aren't epic level opponents" seems like the logical opener here.
>> No. 177641
[X] Perform a scrying and track Meiling down.

Let's get the motherly rage over with. Assuming she'll recognize us as related to Recette in her Tainted state, that is.
>> No. 177645
>>177639

>What exactly is stopping us from walking all over Gensokyo with Sakuya right now, blasting the hell out of everything Tainted with our unlimited Hope-infused spell slots and her unlimited timestop? Because "instantly solve all problems that aren't epic level opponents" seems like the logical opener here.

Are you asking me to write a Bad End? Because it sounds like you want me to write a Bad End.

I normally wouldn't respond to something like this but a thought-process like this goes against a key theme of this entire work: that nigh-infinite power isn't the end-all solution to everything.

I'm going to trust that the rest of you know exactly why this is a bad idea.
>> No. 177646
>>177645
Can we:
-[x]Activate our Dark Flame Master and unleash our fury on the Taint?
>> No. 177647
[x] Delay the search for Meiling, and focus on bolstering defense effort
The obvious choice. With their incomplete information regarding taint and hope (thanks, mindwipe!) they're going to throw the best Gensokyo can offer to the meat grinder.
I see no reason not to do a simple scry on meiling so they can see she's alive (heh) and move on with the other option but I'll play with the cards I was dealt.


>>177645
Oh oh! Let me try!

1a-We scry and teleport, losing the surprise round because they can dectect the scrying/have a contingency in place/posses any of the spells feats or spell likes that give some kind of premonition.
1b-We scry and teleport, but it fails because Yukari was expecting this after our last teleport. We get sent away again.
2a-We waste our first turn in an offensive spell that is deemed useless because of spell resistance/spell inmunity/anti magic field spell, spell like, or armor/counterspell
2b-We waste our first turn in an utility/defensive spell
2c-We don't get a chance to move because we lost initiative and get demolished instantly (see 3)
And after our turn ends...
3a-The enemy unseen ally attack us from behind
3b-The enemy brute forces through our defenses and kill us in one hit
3c-Taint moves in and we're forced to battle it, being rendered helpless for the next turns.
3c-Any combination of those.
>> No. 177648
[X] Perform a scrying and track Meiling down.

Best case scenario we could teleport in there, grab Meiling and teleport back into the time stop to patch her up.
>> No. 177649
>>177647
I whould split up scrying and teleporting into separate steps. Things could go wrong on either of those.
First there's the Detect Scrying, or various forms of magical misdirection (e.g. False Vision, Disguise Self, Misdirect, Hide Alignment and all that stuff), as well as mundane misdirection. (Detect spells can be used through Greater Scrying, but you can't really do a Search check rummage through the room if needed. Hell, you can't even look under a blanket or in a bag because the scrying sensor is always centered upon the person you targeted.)

Then with teleportation it's as easy as setting up an area of Forbiddance. Teleportation spells and effects simply just don't work there.

And if we try to Time Stop and walk over there, we have to remember that there is a multiverse out there. We may have all the time in the this world, but what about everywhere else? Does the Luna Dial also stop time in the Elemental Planes? In Limbo? In Heaven?...

We also saw that Sai managed to slip into Sakuya's time stop through his own spells butting up against the Luna Dial. What if someone on our hit list happens to have a time stop/celerity contingency and they also get free reign during our extended time stop?

Or just the fact that we have no idea of how long Sakuya's time stop lasts when pushed to it's maximum capacity. So far it has lasted "long enough", but can it extend a single moment into hours, days, months?
Sai and Marcus used an entire dimension(al pocket) for it and abused the classic fairytale "time moves differently in that realm" thing, but can we do that on the same world as the time we're trying to "outrun"? (See also the trouble of time stop and multiverses, above.)

There is also the Taint to consider since it has way more power than Sai, despite him being very much Epic level.
We don't want to do a time stop only to then realize that the Taint giant was unaffected because Fuck You, That's Why.


Most of all though, I'd say that the major flaw of that plan was that it would get rid of everything but the Epic+ level opponents who will still be around and we just tipped our entire hand.


Also: Yukari did it, Eirin's shady new drug and Moriya shrine conspiracy!
>> No. 177651
>>177645
No, it was an actual question. If I were convinced it was worth trying, I'd have made it a vote.

Apparently the question's answer is "because the author would force narrative problems to emerge so that it doesn't work".

It hardly goes against the work's themes; while "nigh-infinite power isn't the end-all solution to everything" is certainly one of them, it's also been apparent repeatedly that there are times and places when nigh-infinite power is, in fact, an excellent solution to specific problems.

In this case, we have at least six specific problems. One, Meiling. Two, the giant, Three, swarm of Tainted creatures heading for tengu village. Four, swarm of Tainted creatures heading for the human village. Five, an unknown number of Tainted beings elsewhere, festering and potentially pursuing other objectives (and there are doubtless many). Six, Yukari.

So the question is just "Which of these problems can nigh-infinite power reasonably solve?"
-One and two; no, those are high-tier opponents which, although we'll need our handy nigh-infinite power to fight them, will need to be defeated carefully since they'll pull out their own ridiculous power to counter.
-Three and four; those are enemies described as comparable to ones that we've already faced on-screen, in a roughly known location, without any distinguishing characteristics, so why not?
-Five, we almost certainly won't succeed but can at least try; we'll need our nigh-infinite power for it because we can't seem to get anything done without it, but there are likely to be some kind of nasty snarls along the way.
-Six we can't even attempt to throw infinite power at that more than we already are with our massive stack of illusion/stealth effects. Besides that, it's basically directly in conflict with getting anything done and would be most effectively accomplished by abandoning all other goals, which we're not going to do.

So throwing our nigh-infinite power at appropriately chosen goals to mop them up for everyone else and then moving on to the harder stuff seems fine to me.

>>177647
Every problem you brought up except 2a isn't actually a problem in light of the fact that we don't need to scry, or teleport, or ever give the enemy a turn at all; Sakuya has infinite timestop and we're currently inside it. Without ever ending the timestop, we can simply manually search out the location of our enemies (which should be comparatively simple, as their movements are predictable and Gensokyo is comparatively small) and attack them, thereby ensuring that no scrying- or teleportation-related defenses activate.

Immunity is a far larger concern, but if our enemies are entirely immune to our attacks we have serious problems no matter what course we take.

>>177649
These objections are mostly founded in narrative contrivances, but are nevertheless potentially valid since the writer would probably deploy at least one in the event of any disagreement as to what is a reasonable accomplishment for our character.

What you identify as the biggest problem is the most reasonable objection, though. It does rather blow the whole "hiding from Yukari" thing out of the water- but then, do we really think we'll be hiding from her when the dust is clear from this, anyway? And as for tipping off other epic-tier opponents, if they've got ridiculous hax to deploy to counter our own ridiculous hax, I suspect we'll see it sooner or later anyway, and if we force it to be sooner because we've acted to save thousands of civilian lives is that such a bad thing?
>> No. 177652
>>177651
>What you identify as the biggest problem is the most reasonable objection, though. It does rather blow the whole "hiding from Yukari" thing out of the water- but then, do we really think we'll be hiding from her when the dust is clear from this, anyway?
Yes, obviously. That's the idea. I mean, we lasted five minutes against her last time, do you want to try and make it ten or do you want to continue the story?

>And as for tipping off other epic-tier opponents, if they've got ridiculous hax to deploy to counter our own ridiculous hax, I suspect we'll see it sooner or later anyway, and if we force it to be sooner because we've acted to save thousands of civilian lives is that such a bad thing?
Of course it is. If they got the initiative, on top of all their ridiculous power, and we have no allies besides Sakuya, then we're done for; and with us, Gensokyo.

Simple enough to understand, yes?
>> No. 177654
>What you identify as the biggest problem is the most reasonable objection, though. It does rather blow the whole "hiding from Yukari" thing out of the water- but then, do we really think we'll be hiding from her when the dust is clear from this, anyway?

Given that Sai is quite interested in securing asylum at the warded-against-Yukari SDM after the dust clears, aka half his motivation to assist in finding and rescuing Meiling in particular (the other half being Chronic Hero Syndrome)... yes, he does in fact plan on hiding after this. In fact, he's counting on it.

>And as for tipping off other epic-tier opponents, if they've got ridiculous hax to deploy to counter our own ridiculous hax, I suspect we'll see it sooner or later anyway, and if we force it to be sooner because we've acted to save thousands of civilian lives is that such a bad thing?

Every misguided application of hax against Sai is an application of hax that's being diverted from the main battle here, not to mention the potential of it removing Sai's own hax from assisting in the main fight.

Also, they have to know to deploy counter-hax, aka know Sai's there. Why force an encounter when you can just circumvent it entirely?

Trying to go out in a blaze of glory saving civilians without care for stealth means getting put in a can with extreme prejudice.

Don't worry, though. You'll be running into some supreme hax soon enough. Perhaps even hax of the extremely familiar variety?

Votes called. Pic related. Writing now. Please wait warmly~
>> No. 177655
>>177651
There's one more important point: You're assuming that Sakuya's Time Stop has no limitations just because it's far more powerful than a D&D Time Stop.
It must still have some limitations because she hasn't solved everything by herself already.

As an example: Her idea for stopping the giant would have worked if a. Sai could act openly to Move Earth/Wall of Iron/whatever in every time stop, but he can't, or b. Sakuya's time stop truly is infinite and she can just build the walls manually each time, which she apparently can't.
(With truly infinite time, super-strength would not be needed because she can just build the wall one shovel of dirt at the time, taking as many days or months or even years necessary to wear away at the giants momentum.)

She herself conceded the point that her plan wouldn't work, when Mamizou pointed it out.
>> No. 177662
How many named characters will fall to the taint because you didn't consider helping their imminent offensive important? I guess we'll find out soon enough, anon.
>> No. 178136
NEW THREAD: >>178135
>> No. 181009
You may say, I suppose, that there is a more substantial and faintly humanitarian determination at the rear of specifically what the Knights in overcome Templar did ?at least, making use of their viewpoint, on the subject of keeping Christianity alive when confronted with assault via the Ottoman Empire. But there's no regarded providing basic benefits to individuals of Europe as well as the middle East, to whom the Dim Ages continued to get monetarily and if not incredibly Darkish.
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