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170623 No. 170623
Norway's Bravest Son

Roland the Thompson Gunner Quest, Part 1

====================

You lean against an old maple tree, pondering the snow as drifts along the wind. Another cold Japanese winter strikes the forests outside Kyoto.

Ah, you can't kid yourself. There's nothing cold about the winters in this lovely island paradise - an inch of snow, a foot, bah! They start going up in arms about how this whole global warming business was going to cause a new Ice Age. To you, this little powdering that had thrown a downy white blanket over the whole of Kyoto was nostalgic. It brought back memories of your childhood, of summers filled with roughhousing amongst the snow, blessedly thin underneath the twilight glow of the midnight sun.

You crunch your fist, cracking the joints and hearing but not feeling the frigid crunch of frostbitten fingers forced to move from how they froze. You frown, not liking the sound, but not particularly caring either - recovery will be a bother, but you've had worse.

Now, it begs the question why a man dressed up in his Sunday Best is trudging through the snow carrying nothing but a set of ivory rosary beads, one of those damned near magical handheld computers they've got these days, and a cleverly concealed Tommy Gun. Especially the Tommy Gun, you have no idea how hard it is to come by one of those in Japan, and then not get arrested for owning an illegal weapon.

"Maribel, we have arrived. 35.01959 North, 135.80707 Eastz: the suspected location of the Border of Gensokyo."

Right, because these two lasses were meddling with the same sort of hocus pocus that old witch doctor did to you back in '67, only more different. The bright eyed young intern who worked for your company mandated therapist, and her best friend the scientist; you'd rather they not get tangled up in the same sort of shit that's wrapped your chances up at a normal life, thank you very much.

"You sure this is the place?" the blond girl asks.

"Maribel, my ability has never let us atray before." Renko replies. "Have some faith."

"It's just that the boundaries... they're not quite right." You imagine that she's making some sort of punctuating gesture, waving at the borders only she could see. "They... I can't quite explain it. Ummm... I guess it's... normally it's like smelling roses when taking a drink of a nice cup of nice, cold strawberry milk. Today it's like someone just poured a fresh cup of coffee while I'm drinking a cup of warm chocolate milk that went a little sour?"

"I see." You're pretty sure that Renko didn't see. You know you sure as hell don't. "Irregardless, I believe that our best choice of action would be to attempt to cross over, as was our initial plan." There is a pause, and her voice returns, a hint of excitement to it. "I can't wait for you to show me around Gensokyo..."

You hear Maribel sigh. "Alright, fine, hear, take my hand, I'll lead you across the Border."

There is the sound of feet crunching through snow. You let your tommygun drop from it's resting place, and force yourself back into the mindset that got you through most of the Congo Wars. Absentmindedly, you remember that Maribel spoke of the Fairies that held court in Gensokyo, and of the old folklore in the Motherland.

You cross yourself. You don't do much but say your prayers, but led's not Cold Iron and a paper shield is better than nothing at all.

"Huh," Maribel grunts, "Well, I've never done it with two people before, but that should have worked..."

"We... are still just outside of Kyoto." Renko sounds disappointed.

"Oh don't worry Ren!" Maribel chirps. "We can just try again... wait."

There is an ominous silence. You have half a mind to jump out there, grab the two of them, and get the hell out of dodge, but something keeps you back, as though that were not your fate...

"Maribel..." Renko sounds fearful, and yet you don't jump and start shooting. Why is that? You certainly want to, you certainly need to, and yet some foul curse is holding you at your tree until whatever spell at work is finished. "Is being surrounded by a sea of nothingness littered with crimson eyes unblinking and uncountable the normal circumstances of passing through boundaries? Because if it is I would-"

"No it's not." Maribel interrupts. "No, it definitely is not."

That last word spoken seems to release you from the binds of fate that held you back from interfering with whatever fae magicks were at work with those girls. You spring from behind the tree into the clearing where they had stood, spraying bullets in every direction, trying to warn off whatever foul creature of the night had been working its magic.

It isn't until you have fired well over three time's your magazine's stated capacity that you realize three very important facts.

First, the girls are no longer in the clearing.

Second, winter seems to have given way to spring.

Third, the trees aren't where they should be, and that little maple you had been leaning on has grown. Alot.

It takes you but a moment to orient yourself by the sun.

What do you do?
[]Head North
[]Head South
[]Head East
[]Head West
[]Write In

No. 170631
[X]Head North

Interesting start, will keep an eye on this.
No. 170638
>hocus pocus that old witch doctor did to you back in '67
>You have fired well over three time's your magazine's stated capacity

So does that mean that Roland is already a headless youkai? Sounds interesting.

[X] Head South
For no good reason other than it's not north.
No. 170654
[X] North

Flipped a coin, north it is.
No. 170680
[X] Head West

No reason.

Actually, it's because I just randomly remembered an old rhyme about cuckoos and directions, and both north and south are bad directions in it.
No. 170684
File 137244752452.jpg - (109.67KB , 575x800 , WELP.jpg ) [iqdb]
170684
Calling it for North, since I had time to write the next step up.

[X] North

====================

You do the smart thing first and pull out your cell phone – handy little device, would have been great to have back in the Congo. A computer simple enough that you don’t need to be an egghead to use it, and versatile enough to do pretty much anything that someone can think to break down into those little ones and zeroes. A swipe and a handful of taps brings you to Google Maps, which loads up faster than you could unfold any map. The friendly little green fellow in the center of the screen tells you to please wait patiently as it searches for satellites with which to triangulate your location.

A few minutes pass. Still searching for satellites…

Still searching for satellites…

Still searching for satellites…

Your patience finally wears thin, and you forcefully shove the useless lump of graphene and silicon back into your pocket.

“Damned toys…” you grumble to yourself. “Never work when you need them to work… give me a map and compass any day of the week…”

You decide to trod off to the North, a cardinal direction that had been pounded into your brain meats as ‘the direction civilization tends to be’ ever since you were a child. Well, Van Owen’s brain meats these days, not that you’re thinking his thoughts, you think – you still don’t know how that’s supposed to work, but that’s hardly the relevant matter right now. What is relevant right is that you’re currently on an island, which means that no matter what direction you go in, the worst that will happen is that you’ll eventually find yourself lost on the beach. And if you may be frank, that’s the best sort of lost you can be. But you’ll probably find yourself a stream or something before that, which will lead you to a brook, which will lead you to a lake, a river, or both, and civilization tends to spring up around those.

You come across a dear trail soon enough, and follow it’s meandering and generally northward path for what feels like it could have been anything between a minute and an hour, but was actually two. Funny things happen to your internal clock, when you don’t have a heartbeat to match against the rhythm of the passing seconds; and annoying things too, like spending a Siberian Winter trekking across the tundra in search of a bar. Here, at least, you can measure your distance by counting the trees as they pass – that one’s number five hundred and forty three, a proud specimen of oak with a rich, thick canopy and plenty of shade against the afternoon sun.

Too much shade, as a matter of fact.

There is a darkness here that presses against you from all sides, and cuts away any possible point of escape. It follows you even as your pace quickens, first to but a fast walk, and then a jog, and then a sprint that would have left a living man dead had he kept it up. With each step, the darkness gets deeper and deeper, giving you chase with a soft and mocking cacophony of children’s laughter. Soon you can see nothing but the barest details in front of your face, the darkness of the forest blinding you – you have no doubt strayed from your path. Soon you can hear nothing but the raucous roar that has set upon you, not even the fall of your own as you finally find your precious stream, and all but wade halfway across it.

You stop, knowing that further flight is futile. Fear traces down your spine; had you thought to bring with you cold iron, or salt, or a symbol more powerful than your rosary, you may have been able to bind or repel this fae creature. You have read the stories - you had obsessed with them after you left Africa, in desperate search for a way to free yourself from the curse of undeath. You know that mere bullets would not so much as bruise this creature. That’s why you shiver in fear, even if you cannot feel the cold nor the heat.

All you can do if bluff, and pray that it works.

You heft your Thompson Gun to your shoulder and drop into a stance firing stance, waving it as menacingly as you can manage against the encroaching shadows. You don’t bother trying to minimize your targeting profile, as you are no doubt surrounded on all sides – what is thin to one end will be wide to another.

“Show yourself, creature!” you command to the blackness. “Show yourself, and drop this veil of black magic! The bullets of this gun shall harm you if I fire upon your shadows. All one hundred bullets I have hand forged of cold iron, to be a bane to your kind.”

The laughter stops. The darkness around you seems to ripple and vibrate, as though whatever foul creature that had cast them upon you was caught in indecision. A moment passes – perhaps your bluff has worked, perhaps your threat of cold iron has scared it off, or given it enough pause to at least treat with you, rather than use you as its plaything. Or perhaps it has a greater sense, and is testing the truth of your word, sniffing out the truth that the bullets in your magazine are simple lead, and nothing more.

“Is that so…” The voice is neither gruff nor deep as you had expected it. Rather, it is light and girlish, tinted with an innocence that a creature of darkness has no right to, echoing slightly as the voice of Legion was said to. “But then, why did the bullets not fly as you fled?”

You let out a breath that you hadn’t realized you held.

“I am no hunter,” you reply. “I am simply a traveler lost in these woods. All of God’s creatures, even those embodying the shadow of His Creation, deserve the life that has been given to them. Had I shot at you then, and if I shoot at you now, you would die, and this forest would weep to lose a creature of such…” You search for an appropriately flattering word. “Of such tenebrous beauty.”

The laughter returns, less mocking this time and more playful. You hold back any expression of relief – respect and resolution are how one must treat with the fae creatures, any inch given will be a mile taken.

“Is that so?” The creature’s voice is more solid now, less intimidating than it had been - less like a beast scaring its prey, and more a child asking one of its parents a question about the nature of the world. That… may be a good sign. You hope. “But how do you know it will hurt me? Cirno says I’m hard to hurt, and she’s the smartest…”

“Because,” you declare as grandiosely as you can manage, “I know your nature from your actions. Cold Iron is anathema, poison to your kind, fairy!

The shadows become still. The laughter returns again, softer, deeper, more menacingly than it had been as it chased you through the forest. Before your eyes, it ripples once again. Not as it had before, in the chaotic and confused shakes that spoke of indecision and inquisitiveness, but in a more structured manner, as though a single stone had been thrown into a pool of blackness. And then, slowly, the ripples begin to melt forward, taking a twisted likeness of a child spread cruciform just as Christ had been nailed upon His cross. The ripples given way, and melt back from the child’s body, revealing the true form of this monster.

She is not unlike an ordinary girl, one you could have seen upon the streets of Oslo in your childhood; blonde hair cut above her shoulders, a black skirt and black vest atop a white blouse, and two cheerful dashes of red in the form of her tie and the ribbon woven into her hair. It is the piercing, vicious red eyes that set her apart, glaring at you hungrily. That, and the wide, triumphant grin slashed across her face, filled with teeth too sharp, and too many.

Is that so~

You react quick as you can, and…

[ ] Bring your tommy gun to bear, and unload a magazine or two into the bloody fairy.
[ ] Reach for your rosary and attempt to ward the creature off with the power of faith.
[ ] Casually remove Van Owen’s head from your shoulders in an attempt to intimidate it. Her.
[ ] Write in.
No. 170685
[X] Bring your tommy gun to bear, and unload a magazine or two into the bloody fairy.
--[X]Aim for the ribbon

When in doubt, use dakka. Maybe we can scare her?
No. 170686
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170686
[X] Casually remove Van Owen’s head from your shoulders in an attempt to intimidate it. Her.
--[X] Be prepared to fastball Owen's head at her if she's not suitably intimidated.

Well, OP, you've got my attention. The writing is a little rough, but the problems are all technical; they'll go away soon enough with practice, I think. Content-wise the writing is good. Character backstory and motivations are being hinted at as a part of the character's own internal dialogue (always a good technique, but absolutely essential given the second-person format of a CYOA,) which intrigues me in the character without boring me with exposition. Even in the first post, an obviously-shady history is clashing with an admirable motive (keep Maribel and Renko from getting screwed over by evil fairies.) And in the second post, "we" are viewing the world in terms of wicked fae, which implies prior experience with the supernatural outside the context of Gensokyo. I didn't even catch the "Van Owen's head" thing till I saw that taking off our head (to recite Shakespearean quotations?) was an option; it was slipped in there so naturally.

Great choice of lead character, too - tons of potential to work with, there. Wish I'd thought of it first. I jelly.
No. 170690
[X] Bring your tommy gun to bear, and unload a magazine or two into the bloody fairy.

Showing what amounts to a large lump of meat to what appears to be a predator is a bad idea. They might just decide that since it's removable it's expendable.
No. 170697
[X] Casually remove Van Owen’s head from your shoulders in an attempt to intimidate it. Her.

There are two reasons for this. First, we have a limited amount of iron bullets. Second, she may not be hostile when she knows we are not human.

For those who have not picked up the reference, the protagonist of this story is from the song "Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner" by Warren Zevon.
No. 170699
[X] Bring your tommy gun to bear, and unload a magazine or two into the bloody fairy.
No. 170701
>>170697

Clarification if you missed it:

You do not have any Cold Iron bullets on you. That was a bluff. You only have the regular, ordinary bullets that your magazine never seems to run out of.
No. 170710
>>170701

Clearly, I am a fool. It doesn't change my vote, as I really want to see what will happen (though more dakka is probably the in-character option).
No. 170717
[x] Reach for your rosary and attempt to ward the creature off with the power of faith.

Contrary, perhaps.
But we don't have any cold iron bullets anyway, and crosses work on vampires as well as garlic does, and on devils and fairies besides: Faith is strong against monsters, including unknown monsters.
No. 170718
[X] Casually remove Van Owen’s head from your shoulders in an attempt to intimidate it. Her.

Rumia may be a youkai, but she's a childish youkai. It will probably impress/intrigue her more than intimidate her, but it will still be a distraction.
No. 170727
[X] Casually remove Van Owen’s head from your shoulders in an attempt to intimidate it. Her.
if she's not suitably intimidated:
[x] Shoot off one of your fingers, giving it to the fae creature to chew on while you escape

Really like both your style of writing and the content so far, I'm certainly going to be following this.
No. 170762
File 137263448424.png - (192.33KB , 800x800 , Rumia Eating Her Supper.png ) [iqdb]
170762
“Yes, it is so!”

Your bold words do nothing to halt the creeping darkness as it melts around you, a viscous swirl of liquid pitch that blots out even the faintest of silhouettes. The girl, the creature, fully emerged from the pool of black she floats towards you almost lazily, her grin warm and loving and full of too many teeth. Paralyzed by fear, or perhaps bound by the shadows, your feet remain rooted to the bed of the stream – you are trapped here just as much as if you had stepped upon a landmine. She dodges uncomfortably close to your person, a butcher eying cattle that had been fool enough to wander into the slaughterhouse.

A delicate finger traces your spine.

“Mokou’s stand has sauces…” the fairy sighs wistfully. “But if I go there, you’d run away… and if I took you there, she’d try to take you to the village… she doesn’t like eating humans much…"

An opportunity presents itself. It is not much of an opportunity, you will admit, but the odds are better than just standing here and waiting while she plans out exactly what cuts she’ll be ripping from your flesh. You let your Thompson Gun drop to your waste, boxing your hands around your ears, and with a twist and pop you pull VanOwen’s head from your shoulders. You shudder at the change – the transition between thinking with your old pal’s brainmeats and thinking without much of anything at all isn’t at all like getting a sharp and nasty case of brain freeze, but that’s the best way that you can put it. You, for lack of a better word, see Rumia staring intently at VanOwen’s pretty face.

This is going to work!

Playing your part, you release the low and hoarse chuckle of a headless horseman.

“That’s right, little shadow,” you intone darkly, “I am not like the others which you have preyed upon in the darkness of this forest. Unlike those fools, I-”

You are quite promptly interrupted from your suitably dramatic and not at all meant to be intimidating speech regarding the precise nature of your status as a Revenant and how you are also a Nzumbe by the fae creature’s attempts to snatch the head from your hand. You can’t rightly explain the subtle and nuanced differences between the various types of corporeal ghosts and animated corpses when you’re being knocked about by a shadow in the shape of a girl.

“You brought horderves!” She… squees? No, that can’t be right, fae are dark and calculating creatures, whose intelligence should be incomprehensible, as alien as any of the greater being wrote of by Lovecraft. Yet for all that the fairy sounds every bit the over-excited girl-child. A trickle of drool slides down her chin. “I only ever get those at Reimu’s parties, and I’ve got to behave at those, Wriggle says. Gimme, gimme, gimme!”

You have to think fast. Surrendering the head is almost out of the question – not only does it carry with it much sentimental value, but it also holds the greater of the trophies that you took that day. VanOwen’s lucky hat. Yet, you can always take the head off some other unlucky bastard that wound up dead in a ditch somewhere, and you’d rather not risk your immortal soul by dying before you’ve managed to lift the curse of undeath from yourself. You slip the hat off of the head somehow in the middle of the tussle, and as soon as the opportunity presented itself, you jump to your feet and pitch the head in a random direction with all of your might.

“You want the hors d’oeuvres?” You ask the fae. “Then go f-”

Your stomach drops like a stone as the head collides with the bubble of shadow that had surrounded you. Instead of soaring through for some great distance in the hopes of buying yourself precious time to escape, it crashes into the blackness. Like a nail dropped into a vat of molasses, it sinks into the darkness slowly, and you don’t imagine that any of made it outside the child’s bubble. The realization strikes you, the darkness is not some ability of the fairy, a spell or majick cast to frighten and bewilder its prey; rather, it is an extension of the creature itself, no less a part of her than your fingers are a part of you…

“-uck. Well, fuck me.”

The fairy pats her stomach, satisfied with the tasty, if small snack that you just delivered to her with such great alacrity.

“That was tasty~” She stares at you again, with wide, bright eyes that should not be near so innocent. “I wonder if the rest of you is just as yummy…”

Grinning once more that smile of too many teeth, the fairy child raises her left hand, allowing it to be coated by whatever viscous material from which the ink-black bubble of shadow was formed. It twists and morphs, reshaping itself into the likeness of a falcon’s talon, five ebon blades sprouting like fingers from the amorphic tube of darkness that her arm had become. A single razor’s edge traces down from the center of your stump-like neck, a thirsty hunger lighting up her eyes as it tears through tie and shirt and blazer and skin.

And then she begins her bloody work.

You do not scream. You do not feel pain, and you will not give this fae beast the satisfaction of hearing your dying pleas.

====================

When she is finally finished, her shadow drops from its bubble canopy, and happy as a child given a kitten on her naming day, Rumia dances off into the forest humming a happy tune filled with the hope that her next meal will be just as tasty. But for her laughing song, the forest lies still and quiet, the younger creatures still paralyzed in fear of the passing shadow. The sun is soon to set, and the moon is soon to rise waning, giving little light to those fool enough to wander off into the depths of the forest.

It is dark. You have been eaten by a grue.

[BAD END]

====================

Welp, there's your first Bad End. >>170690 pretty much called it. But don't worry; a Bad End here or there won't keep you from getting a Good End or Golden End, or even make those two harder. But do expect them to happen every now and then.

The Library is coming up next. It'll give you helpful hints, a la the Taiga Dojo from FSN.
No. 170763
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170763
And now it’s time for the Library!

???: Welcome to the Library, where we’ll teach you what you did wrong so that you can avoid Bad Ends in the future. I’m Patchouli!

???: And I’m Koakuma!

Patchouli: Well I must congratulate you. You have successfully followed in the footsteps of countless hapless outsiders, and managed to get eaten by the first Youkai you stumbled across.

Koakuma: Well it was Rumia… and she’s a bit…

Patchouli: Vicious? She’s a predator. She eats people whenever she’s allowed to, and she’s “allowed” to if no one finds out about it.

Koakuma: Basically, whenever an outsider stumbles upon her. Or an Exile.

Patchouli: Indeed.

Koakuma: So what’d they do wrong, anyways?

Patchouli: In a way, they overestimated the Darkness Youkai’s intelligence. A human, for instance, would have been unnerved, or even frightened by Roland’s removal of the head mounted upon his shoulders, and would have ran, or treated you as a youkai. A magician such as myself, the dollmaker, or even that chavvish “witch” would have had their curiosity piqued, and spared you simply for the sake of curiosity. A more intelligent youkai would have been amused by your display, and would likely have been more willing to treat with you as another youkai, instead of lunch.

Koakuma: But Rumia is hardly what I’d call an intelligent youkai.

Patchouli: Hardly. She is every bit as intelligent as she is a bright light in the darkness.

Koakuma: Which is to say, that when she saw you take your head off, her reaction was less “Oh my God! He just pulled his head off!” and more “Yay! Today’s lunch was a two for one special!”

Patchouli: Much as the Nazarene multiplied fish and loaves to feed the throngs of his congregation, so too did you multiply the flesh of homo sapiens to feed Rumia when you removed your head from your shoulders.

Koakuma: So, given that, how the heck are they supposed to get past her, Patchy?

Patchouli: Their primary concern should be figuring out how to put Roland in the category of “off-limits” in regards to Rumia’s eating habbits. People who know, or seem to know, the rules of Danmaku are certainly off limits for eating, no matter the posturing she makes, as such people are generally important enough that they shall be missed when they are gone. If Roland could convince Rumia that he’s close to someone strong, that would also enough to deter her… appetites.

Koakuma: But Roland doesn’t know anyone else in Gensokyo, does he?

Patchouli: No, I suppose he doesn’t.

Koakuma: Anything else that they can do to keep Rumia from nomming them?

Patchouli: Yes. An important thing to keep in mind when deciding your course of action is the individual quirks of each character – the iconography and motifs that accompany them both in the games and fanworks. Interesting things can happen when these buttons are pressed – sometimes beneficial to Roland, other times harmful, but rarely ever fatal.

A sound remarkably similar to someone shouting “Love Sign: Master Spark” can be heard roaring in the distance.

Patchouli: …and I’m afraid we’re going to have to cut this session short.

Koakuma: See you next time!

====================

Number of Dead Rolands: 001

Achievement Unlocked: [BAD END]
Achievement Unlocked: [Eaten by a Grue]
Achievement Unlocked: [Popcorn Head]

Continue? [X] Yes [ ] No

You react quick as you can, and…

[ ] Bring your tommy gun to bear, and unload a magazine or two into the bloody fairy.
[ ] Reach for your rosary and attempt to ward the creature off with the power of faith.
[ ] Casually remove Van Owen’s head from your shoulders in an attempt to intimidate it. Her.
[ ] Write in.
No. 170765
[x] Reach for your rosary and attempt to ward the creature off with the power of faith.

Heh, so much for being a "harmless" man-eating youkai. Wonder how many Outsiders she had eaten.
No. 170767
[X] Reach for your rosary and attempt to ward the creature off with the power of faith.

Since this is a rosary, I assume that it has a crucifix, not just a cross. It will be interesting to see how she reacts to an icon of "the saint who was crucified".
No. 170769
[X] Reach for your rosary and attempt to ward the creature off with the power being beat upside the head with a rosary.
No. 170794
[X] Reach for your rosary and attempt to ward the creature off with the power of faith.
-[X] And if that doesn't work attempt to ward the creature off with the power of being beat upside the head with a rosary.

Clever. But hopefully, just presenting the rosary with faith will work.
No. 170799
[X] Start a fire.

This is a creature of darkness, so it would be assumed that it is weak against sources of light and heat. Both of which fire can provide.