You glance up at the night sky for a moment, letting the sight of the moon and the stars focus your thoughts. As much as you would love to offer up your talented acting skills for Byakuren's grand performance, you have none beyond your natural charisma and good looks. Being a necromancer that skulks in the dark has done little to enhance your performing arts.
What are you talking about? it's done leaps and bounds! You're the best con artist I know!
But who would admit to that? It sounds terrible.
You would. You're too proud not to.
That's true. While your talents in both magic and swordplay are lacking, bluffing and running are your highly prized and finely honed skills. You have been willing to do whatever it takes to find the Necronomicon and give your sister a life independent from yours.
In this situation, no matter your previous experiences, it's best to find the real actors. This performance is the culmination of Byakuren's public relations blitz; you don't want weeks of work to be lost. You've seen enough of the practices to know that while you could decently fill the role, there's no reason to let the performance suffer under your amateur attempts.
You make your way through the slight crowd of Buddhists to stand in front of Byakuren. "Don't worry," you tell her, "we'll find them."
The head nun and leading lady gives you a slight smile, a sight much more satisfying than her panicked screaming face. "Ah, you are also going to search?"
"I might as well," you answer. "it's not like I'm an integral part of this cast here."
Byakuren frowns and steps closer. "Your contributions towards this play have been enormous-"
"I know," you say with a grin. "But even if our actors show up while I'm away, the others can deal with getting them ready.."
You haven't had much a chance to speak with Byakuren since two nights ago, but that is why you're glad to hear her leaping to contradict your self-deprecation. You aren't sure where you stand with Byakuren, but it's somewhere above friendly.
You're surprised at how comforting that confirmation is. You've only known her a relatively short while, but you've already come to care for her that much. You want the woman with the funny hair to calm down - it'd make you feel better.
"Just relax. Between all of us, we're bound to find them and the performance will go on without a hitch. Everybody will love it," you try to assure her.
Byakuren nods. For a second it looks like she is reaching for you, but that's nothing more than your imagination as her hand goes to a lock of her hair. "As you say. Good luck."
"Thanks. I can't wait to see the performance." After one last reassuring smile, you throw up a hand and shout. "Yoshika! Nekurow! Dio! Let's go."
The jiang-shi are at your side in an instant. Between the five undead that you cared for to the point that they could mingle seamlessly with the Buddhists, two of them are actually acting in the play. Shilverase and Rea, two of your three girls, wave goodbye when you head out.
Yoshika immediately moves to hang off your arm while Dio and Nekurow strap on the weapons they had left to the side while working behind the stage. You sincerely hope Nekurow doesn't need his jagged sword and Dio won't need his bandolier of knives.
Instead of heading straight towards the bamboo forest where your errant actors supposedly have gone, you cut out to the side of the stage and make your way to the audience, shooting straight for a certain immortal you saw in the audience.
The two women stop whatever enjoyable conversation they're having and turn to you. it's interesting to see how they react. Keine frowns, either upset you interrupted her or immediately grasping something is wrong. From the way she eyes your jiang-shi companions, you assume it's the latter.
Mokou, meanwhile, only seems to smile brighter. "Ah, hey. This is pretty impressive, you know? I was watching you all build this throughout the day and-"
"Sorry to be rude and interrupt, but I need your help." You'd love to stand around for several minutes and let Mokou ramble, but this is time sensitive business.
Far from being insulted by your brusque behavior, Mokou immediately straightens up with worry. "What's wrong?"
"Two of our actors are missing. Last anybody heard they were going to their home in the bamboo forest. Can you take me to their house?"
"Oh, sure, of course I can. Who are they?" Mokou immediately jumps to her feet, throwing herself into your problem. it's only after she takes a few steps does she remember the friend she's leaving behind. "Keine, you can uh, come with me if you want or-"
The schoolteacher laughs and flicks her hand. "Hurry up, silly. I'll save your seat here."
"Thanks!" Mokou gives her friend a half-wave before skipping and taking to the air. You follow her with barely a thought. Flying with Byakuren's gifted scarf is almost second nature by now. After the sparring you've done with your jiang-shi, you're rather confident in using it during a fight as well. "Right, so, who are you looking for?"
"A pair of youkai brothers, twins actually. Hikaru and Kaoru. they're uh, some sort of cat youkai." The brothers are the kind of youkai that could easily pass for human. It is only their cat ears and tails that give them away.
"Yeah, I know who you're talking about." Mokou flies with her hands in her pockets, her long hair flowing behind her. You all aren't flying as fast as possible but the sense of urgency is there. "Not many people call the bamboo forest home compared to the forest of magic. We can get to their house in no time."
"Thank you for doing this." You really do appreciate the fact that Mokou was willing to help you at the drop of a hat.
"Yeah, no sweat. I'm happy to do it."
You and your three jiang-shi follow Mokou as the immortal drops down to the ground at the edge of the bamboo forest. With a confident stride she walks straight in.
You take a look around before plunging forward. While the moon provides a decent amount of light, you don't relish entering the forest with such limited sight. You're able to make out the brightly patterned clothes of Alice's dolls as they fly into the forest. Shou's disciples are also easy to spot thanks to the lanterns they carry, but the majority of those searchers stall at the edges of the forest for whatever reason. A few of them do continue on, though.
You pick up the pace to catch up with the waiting immortal. Mokou has lit several fires that dance in the air around her, illuminating the forest. "We're not flying straight there?" you ask.
"I couldn't tell you how to get there from the air. I've only ever been to their house on foot, so that's the way we have to go," Mokou answers.
That explanation sounds a little ridiculous. "You never did explain how you get around this place."
"Didn't I say I've been living here long enough to know my way around?"
You remember her explanation from the last time. The bamboo forest has some strange environmental magic that causes those who enter to get lost. However, knowing where you're going and keeping that location in mind allows you to find your way. At least, that's the method Mokou explained to you so that you could find her house or Eientei. "That doesn't tell me how you don't get lost."
"Well, I can't exactly explain how I figured it out myself, either. I was just living here and then one day it clicked. There's a whole bunch of, what do you call them, uh, spatial distortions in this forest. What looks straight actually loops around or zig-zags away. Stuff like that. I kind of have a feeling for which way things are actually supposed to be, that's all." Mokou shrugs and keeps on heading what you think is forward. "You should really talk to a magician or something if you want a better explanation of how this forest works. I don't really understand it myself. Most of the time, I just use the way I told you."
You let her explanation sink in. it's her usual excuse. Is aging really the best way to develop new power?
More like experience, I assume. Falling from mountains, jumping into fires - these aren't exactly healthy ways to develop ability.
Then, extrapolating her usual explanation to here means, "You've been lost long enough in this forest to just know where everything is?"
"Yeah. I've wandered around for a few years, at least. it's definitely been long enough for me to stumble across any of the notable places. Well, I think I've found them all. it's hard to say for sure. I guess there could be some sort of hermit that's never left the bamboo forest that I haven't run into."
You suppose when you're immortal, brute forcing your way through any problem is a possibility.
"Is there no better way to get around?"
"Maybe by some fancy magic spell, sure, but I wouldn't know it. I think Eirin has created some technology, too. For me, all I need to do is keep a place in mind and walk towards it and there's isn't any troub-" Mokou stops talking at the same time you hear a crashing sound. "Did you hear that?"
"You don't know what it was?" you ask her.
Mokou shakes her head. "Anything that lives here knows better than to knock over a bunch of bamboo. Maybe one of the other searchers not used to the forest? Maybe a chase or a hunt or-" You flinch and instinctively duck when several loud cracks ring out.
Those were definitely gunshots. Unfortunately, you haven't had enough experience to distinguish what kind. Worst, the bamboo forest is more disorientating than you expected. "Was that from a different direction?" you try to clarify.
"I'm pretty sure it was," Mokou confirms. "I think I can-" The ground shakes with sudden explosions. This time, you can see the blooming of light in the distance. However, you aren't sure where that bright light originates from. It twists in a way that doesn't make sense. The explosion looks like it comes from in front of you, but there's also light behind you and to your right. It swirls in an unnatural, confusing manner, like several spotlights shining for second.
"Of course things are going wrong right now," you groan while pulling a bone out of your jacket. A quick magical manipulation twists it and strengthens it into a familiar sword.
"It makes sense, kind of? The house of the brothers you're looking for is just ahead, but those noises we heard aren't from that exact direction. Distances don't work quite right here, but it's all close enough to the house to make me think they're all related." Mokou is already prepared, tiny fires dancing between her fingers. Your jiang-shi likewise drew their weapons when you did, prepared for the worst.
"Can we check out those noises or that light?" you ask her.
"Maybe," Mokou says, "but I know we're close enough to your missing brothers? house that I think it'd be better to check there first. I'm sure I could find those other disturbances eventually, but I'm not sure how quickly I can."
"Lead on," you tell her. You're not about to go tromping through the bamboo forest of the lost when your guide advises against it.
Your group of five continues the trek through the forest, even while the strange noises echo from all around. it's pretty creepy.
Don't let your nerves get you.
Oh, they're not. The lack of any screaming or wailing makes this a pleasant night time stroll.
Soon enough, the bamboo parts to reveal a cabin. It looks to be larger and in better condition than Mokou's patched-up shack.
You walk up to the door and try the handle first. The door isn't locked and opens easily enough. What, you don't even knock? Whoops. You'll apologize later.
"Hello?" you call.
You quicken your pace and check every room in short order. The kitchen, living room, bed room and wash room, all empty. Nothing looks particularly out of place. it's not too clean and not too dirty. If anything, it feels less homey than Mokou's home. You much prefer the immortal's cramped yet cozy home compared to this generic place.
"Nobody's here," you report when you arrive back at the entrance. "Have the noises stopped?"
"Nope." Mokou steps back outside with you. The mixture of crashing, shooting, and exploding is still ringing in the forest. "Do you want to check it out?"
"If it's possible, yes. Can you find them?"
"We'll find out, won't we?" Mokou strikes off into the forest without hesitation, her fire illuminating a small circle around your group.
Relax. You are. You aren't. You're worried to high heaven, I can tell.
Well, how couldn't you be? This situation reeks.
You don't know what the hell is happening in this forest and you can't assume much about anything. A crashing sound could mean anything, from wild animals on the hunt to a real elephant randomly dropping into Gensokyo. Explosions, likewise, means little to you. Maybe somebody is setting off grenades or maybe there's some extremely violent magic at work. You like to think the gunshots are obvious. You've only seen two groups wield firearms here in Gensokyo and the village guards are far away, but you could be wrong about that too. Maybe some poor outsider had the worst luck in dropping into Gensokyo.
There are too many unknowns in this bamboo forest for you to feel comfortable.
I guess that's fair. Just don't get too jumpy.
All you want is for these brothers to pop out of the forest so you can go back to the play and-
"Whoa!" Mokou shouts in surprise when something collides with her head-on. You raise your weapon and take a step forward, but calm down when you see who it is.
"Calm down there Buddy, geez. I'm not going to burn you or anything!" Mokou tries to hold the scrabbling youkai in place, throwing her entire body into the effort.
it's him. Or rather, one of them. You can't tell the brothers apart.
That's Kaoru, I think. he's the younger one.
he's also technically the substitute, right?
"Stop thrashing, would you? I don't bite! I'm perfectly disease free too, I promise! I-"
"Kaoru!" you shout. The youkai held in Mokou's arms stops struggling almost immediately, his gaze snapping over to you. "Don't worry, we're here to help. Now, tell us what happened. Where's your brother?"
"I don't, I don't know. We were running and he was next to me and now he isn't and-"
"Running from what?" you demand.
"he's still out there and-"
"Kaoru!" The youkai flinches at the strength of your voice, but this isn't the time to be gentle. "Running from what?"
"I don't know. We were just leaving to go back when it attacked us but it was so fast I couldn't see it well but Hikaru was screaming and- and-" the youkai starts to break again.
You grimace and walk over, giving the man a pat on the shoulder. "Don't worry. You'll be fine and so will your brother." As you pull your hand away, you make sure to yank off a few strands of hair. he's distraught enough he doesn't even notice.
What was- Oh, tracking?
That's right. You aren't well-versed in tracking living things with your magic, but it shouldn't be too different from finding a spirit. they're twins, after all.
"So what do we do?" Mokou asks you. "We don't have much time before the play starts, right?"
"No, we don't. Do you know what this ?thing? might be, Mokou?"
The immortal shakes her head. "Without any description at all? I'd have to guess it's either another youkai or some sort of animal. Did you two try fighting it?"
The cat youkai pushes himself away from Mokou's embrace rather awkwardly, but manages to straighten up. it's good to see him recovering. "Hikaru did at the very beginning, but he lost an arm to it. He even had a few self-enhancements running too, but that thing didn't care. That's why we started running. It wasn't anything we've ever seen before."
"So you did see it?" you growl.
The youkai slowly nods, his breathing becoming more controlled. "Not much, but yes. It looked like a giant blob of grey, almost black, for the few seconds I was looking at it."
Helpful. it's better than nothing. That's true. You're facing some sort of white blob that can remove a youkai's arm despite natural resilience and basic Buddhist magic.
You're feeling more confident already.
A quick glance at Mokou is met with a shaking head. She doesn't know what it is either, then.
You need to figure out what to do. One last question. "Do you know what those gunshots are explosions are?" you ask.
"I don't know. I heard them while I was running but didn't pay them any mind."
Well, that's that. You doubt that there's much more nuanced information to be had.
If the other brother is missing an arm, then that means this one is the only one fit to act. "Are you ready for your big performance, Kaoru?"
"What?" he asks, slightly bewildered. "But what about my brother?"
"We'll find him, but all of the Myouren Temple is relying on you at this point. Can you do it?"
You manage to stay on task, huh?
he's no frail human civilian, but your actor here isn't exactly one of Shou's disciples either. If his brother didn't fare well, you don't fancy his chances if he sticks around.
"You'll really find him?" he asks. You don't hesitate in nodding.
You're afraid it won't be enough, that he'll insist on searching for his family with you, but he doesn't. Maybe it's your reputation bleeding through, maybe it's Mokou's presence, or maybe it's the simple fact that you have weapons drawn, but your gesture is enough to reassure him.
"I'll go," he says. "We've put so much into this performance."
That's good to hear. Luckily, leaving the bamboo forest is a relatively simple affair. For some reason, flying straight up doesn't subject the flyer to the same misdirection as when traveling through the rest of the bamboo forest.
Will he be safe on his own?
You don't know. You can't know. All you do know is that you've found one brother, and another is still out there along with some kind of blobby predator.
Time is of the essence. You can't afford to stand around and think about this for long.
[ ] Send him back
-[ ] By himself
-[ ] With an escort
--[ ] Yourself
--[ ] The jiang-shi
--[ ] Mokou
[ ] <Write-in>
[ ] Search for the older brother by?
-[ ] Wandering with magical guidance
-[ ] Wandering without magical guidance
-[ ] Using Mokou's senses to?
--[ ] Find where the crashing is coming from
--[ ] Try for the gunshots? origin
--[ ] Look for the explosions? source
[ ] <Write-in>
At long last, we're finally here. For anybody who is joining us now, you have arrived at a very interesting time.
Presumably there is one vote for each block but a write-in might negate that.
[x] Send him back
-[x] With an escort
--[x] Dio and Nekurow
We can't very well send him off alone after this; he's key to the play and needs someone to keep him safe. Still, the difference between a two-man escort and a three-man isn't likely to make a difference to Kaoru, but the difference between a one-woman escort and a two-woman might well make a difference to us. We'll be a lot safer with both Mokou and Yoshika still around.
[x] Search for the older brother by?
-[x] Using Mokou's senses to?
--[x] Try for the gunshots? origin
I'm inclined to go for the guns because any number of things might make explosion noises, but only people make gunshots. People, if we can locate them, can serve as sources of both information and assistance- not to mention that they might be in trouble and need help.
"Dio, Nekurow, can you make sure Kaoru makes it back to the village safely?"
"As you will, Master." The two males give you a nod and turn towards the younger brother. Before they can take a step, you place a hand on their shoulders.
"Try to downplay what's going on here," you tell them. "We don't need to worry everybody else."
The two jiang-shi nod again. You're confident the two of them are sensible enough to allay any worries. Or just not say anything. That'd be fine, too.
"Hey, uh, er," Mokou stammers out, causing the jiang-shi to stop once more. She shrinks back slightly under their gazes but quickly works up her nerve. "Can you tell Keine about this, though? Is that okay? I mean, if you want to keep it all quite that's okay too, but I'd be okay with letting Keine know we're okay and, er, that okay?"
She glances back and forth between you and the jiang-shi, nervous and unsure.
You shrug. "I don't see why not." It isn't as if you're some villainous soul trying to hide his illicit activities. Not tonight, at any rate. You'd be glad to have somebody on the outside know where you are and what's happening if events spiral out of control.
You wish the two of your jiang-shi and the young aspiring actor luck when they fly up and away. Kaoru doesn't look happy with the situation, but he's also far from depressed. it's good to see confidence and determination lining his face. If your sibling were in trouble, you wouldn't be able to leave them behind in the care of another.
That makes two of us. And you're glad for that.
"How do you want to do this?" Mokou asks. Already, her shaky nervousness has been replaced by a business-like demeanor.
You look down at the hairs in your hand, mind churning in thought. You can't really trust your magic, can you? It would be a fine last ditch effort, but there are too many variables to account for. Your unfamiliarity with the magic required and the Bamboo Forest of the Lost's befuddling properties create too great a risk of failure for any searching-type spells you might cast.
It would be best to rely upon the person most accustomed to this forest. "You can still hear that crashing noise, right?"
Mokou closes her eyes and holds completely still. "Yeah," she responds. Without further discussion, she begins to walk off in some direction, her pace methodical.
You walk closely behind Mokou, sword drawn and ready. Yoshika is likewise alert, the jiang-shi slightly hunched while she stalks at your side.
Your visible surroundings don't seem to change. In the ring of light created by Mokou's drifting fire you see nothing but more bamboo. One thing that does change is the noise. The explosions that you had been hearing suddenly come to a halt. Likewise, the staccato of gunfire disappears.
What doesn't dissipate is the crashing sound. In fact, it grows louder and more prominent the further you walk. Closer, closer, closer? You certainly hope it means you're drawing closer.
Don't get distracted.
It will take more than some darkness and ominous noise to scare you.
Although the volume of the crashing sound increases, it doesn't manage to overshadow a panicked scream that rips into the air.
You flinch at the oppressive heat when Mokou's body erupts in flames. The immortal, covered in swaying fire, shoots off into the forest. Amazingly, she weaves through the bamboo without fail, neither her nor her fires harming the bamboo stalks. You struggle to follow after her, relying on Yoshika to break any bamboo ahead of you while you fly.
You collide into Yoshika's back when the jiang-shi stops. You scrabble to peer over her shoulder, to see Mokou floating in place with her hands splayed outwards. Fire forms in and launches from her palms, massive fireballs shot forward in a barrage.
The large pyroblasts are easily the size of your body. They are fire given force, a waving orange sphere with enough mass to flatten a man. Each one Mokou shoots causes a fresh wave of heat and pressure to radiate outwards and wash over you.
Your eyes flick over to try and find her target, but you can't. Whatever she's shooting at is being carried away into the darkness on chariots of flame. Mokou doesn't stop firing even her shots begin to disappear, no more than specks off in the distorted distance.
A moan draws your attention downwards.
"Shit," you utter. Your sought after youkai is lying on the ground, spilling his life fluids onto the grass around him.
You drop to your knees next to man, taking stock of his injuries. The most obvious is his missing arm, torn off at the shoulder. His other hand is clasped over the injury, fragments of his clothes held over the wound.
Green mana leaks from your hands. You waste no time in removing his rudimentary bandage and directly applying your magic. Ignoring any reagents or spell components, you will what magic you have into action and directly operate on his body. Blood begins to coagulate and skin rapidly grows. You shift around injured bones and at the same time stimulate bone marrow to produce more blood cells. Your senses expand as you work, sensing the bruising and cuts, the wear and tear that has been inflicted on his body. You let more of your consciousness slip into his body, your mind roving for hidden injuries. Things you can fix, things you cannot. Stress elevation, adrenalines levels, exhaustion, abrasions, fractures, heart rhythm, lung capacity, eye- That's enough. Get back here.
You blink, your magic leaving the man's body at once. You clench your hands three times to try and stop them from shaking.
You were going a bit overboard there. Don't get sucked in.
You don't know how stronger magicians do it. Magic is?intoxicating. More than making up for your power deficiencies, using ritual and formulae helps keep you separate from the rush.
You shake your head and slap your face, trying to knock loose the last vestiges of your magic use.
"Hikaru, are you okay?" you ask the man.
I don't think he's conscious.
You frown and look down at the man. He is indeed unconscious. How did you miss that?
You already know he's alive and not on the verge of death thanks to your magic, but you check his pulse with your hands anyway. Still breathing, not bleeding - that's the best you can hope for.
"So they really are twin brothers, huh?" Mokou asks. The immortal, thankfully, turned down the heat before approaching.
"Yeah. We'll need to carry him out," you say as you lift his arm and pull it over your shoulder. "Did you take care of whatever was chasing him?"
"I'm not sure. It didn't feel like I was having much of an effect. I think it's still out there." The immortal turns away and looks off into the forest, directing her fires around to light up more of the surroundings.
With a line like that, how can you relax?
"We should get out of here right away, then. Yoshika, can you help me with this guy?" The jiang-shi moves to help you. Rather, when she scoops up the man's other arm, she practically lifts him up on her own. What way to make you feel like more of a weakling.
Now you just need to figure out where to go. "Where should we-" your stop your question mid-sentence when Mokou raises her palm.
Just before you can ask her what's wrong, you hear it; the crashing of bamboo echoing all around.
it's not like before.
Now it's less distinct. it's more rapid, louder too. If you had to guess-
"Let's go, Yoshika!" you shout. You take to the air alongside your jiang-shi, the unconscious youkai strung between you.
Before you can rise a meter, Mokou shifts all of her fires. She directs them outwards into the forest, illuminating a long winding corridor to the side.
There, you see it. The black mass contrasting the light. It runs along the lighted path, shoots of bamboo being trampled and tossed to the side while it charges. You can't even figure out what to call it. It looks like a lump of darkness given form. It looks to be the size of a large dog, but it's hard to tell given the various bulges on it. There's no shape to the thing - it's like a ball of muddy clay, oozing in every direction. The only features you can make out are the bright red eyes speckled across the front of it, the greyish teeth that indicate some sort of mouth, and the floppy black appendages sticking off the top.
No, there are appendages on the bottom too, but they're blurred, feet rapidly moving-
Mokou's blasts of fire roar outwards towards the creature.
The spray of fireballs doesn't connect.
You were wrong. The creature isn't running. it's bounding, hopping, bulldozing some bamboo but also reaching out with tentacle like appendages to propel itself on handfuls of the vegetation. It maneuvers without flight, barely avoiding Mokou's barrage. Even when her fire clips the creature it barely slows. The thing is fast, far faster than it should be. Maybe outside of the forest it'd be slow, but in here it can more quickly than you can fly. You've never seen anything like this, but it feels so familiar. You're positive you haven't met something like this before, so why-
Keep moving! You snap out of your trance and try to fly up.
You manage to gain more height, about three-fourths of the way out of bamboo forest, before you stop. The full weight of your youkai load suddenly begins to pull on you, dragging you downwards.
Yoshika let go. She let go because the crashing grew too close because the creature flung itself upwards at you, teeth chattering as-
You dip to the side as you fall. You can't concentrate enough to compensate for the youkai's weight because you're looking up at Yoshika and-
Now down, down at Yoshika. Your jiang-shi screams as she falls, the black blob of creature attached to her chest.
The two hit the ground hard, but the impact doesn't jar them apart. If anything, the two of them are clinging to each other tighter than before.
Squish and crack, thump and rip. Your jiang-shi and the creature tear into each other.
Yoshika's fingers are bent as she swings her arms down at the mass covering her torso. Her fingers dig into the blobby darkness and gouge holes in it. She tears off chunks and tosses them to the side. She stretches her neck to bite whatever she can, be it blobby body or tentacle appendage. She gnashes and tears and shreds the creature attached to her.
It isn't enough. Before your eyes, you see the creature's body bubble. More tentacle appendages snake from the creature's body, wrapping around Yoshika's torso and whatever limbs they manage to grasp. And they squeeze. You can see Yoshika's dead skin depress, the pressure great enough for bones to start cracking.
What's worse is the mouth. The mouths. For every bite Yoshika takes, the creature takes another three in return. More solid teeth seem to grow on every part of that monster, on every section of its body and tentacles. It takes off skin from Yoshika's wrists, takes off fingers and chunks of her chest parts of her ears and-
You let the unconscious youkai actor fall to the ground and charge.
You plant your feet into the ground right next to the grappling, biting pair and swing your magic-coated bone sword. You slice through the tentacle appendages that reach for you, and then parts of the creature's body. Your swings shear off hair and cleave tentacles. You hew through skin and bone while chopping off more black mass. You swing and swing and swing, every stroke sloppier and less accurate than the last.
You feel a mouth try to bite your leg. You feel the pressure on your skin, the barest hint of teeth where it manages to pierce your enchanted jacket.
It doesn't matter. You ignore anything that isn't stopping you from bringing your sword downward. You just need to separate them. To stop this thing's hold and get her away!
A wide flourish cuts off several tentacles at once, giving you the opening you need. You grab the back of Yoshika's shirt and toss her backwards with a burst of magic-fueled strength. You grimace at all the body parts that are left behind, scraps of flesh left in that thing's mouths, but there's nothing you can do.
You stumble backwards, tripping when you try to retreat. The thing has a tentacle on your leg, and more growing. You scream and jam your sword down to severing the offending tentacle. More reach for you, poised to bite down-
Then you scream again when flames lick your ankles.
Tiny fireballs slam into the creature, like buckshot from a shotgun. it's enough to force the creature away from you, but not enough to launch it away into the darkness.
It hardly looks phased. The fiery pellets dig into the creature's body and disappear with seemingly no effect.
The creature turns its multiple red away from you and towards the source of the new threat. It coils for a second before springing upward, tentacles lashing onto bamboo and sending it lunching away towards its new target.
She's too close. Too close to you, to it, to try anything meaningful.
Mokou's screams don't last long.
The creature lashes its tentacles around her arms, breaking them in an instant, before reeling itself in and onto her chest. You see it take several bites out of her, her throat torn open without mercy. It savages Mokou, ripping her apart and transforming her into little more than a bloody caricature of a woman.
Then they light on fire. Just as you've seen before, Mokou's injures burst into flame for an instant before appearing fresh, uninjured and whole.
One second later, fresh wounds are inflicted, new bites and tears identical to before.
Mokou's screams start and stop as her throat and chest are torn out and are reformed. The screams of anger and pain from the immortal, the sound of tearing flesh and breaking bones, don't end.
You shakily get to your feet, sword at the ready to-
A sad moan stops you in your tracks. You avert your eyes from the cycle of death Mokou is trapped in and crouch down.
Yoshika is a mess. Her arms are barely attached, hanging by threads of tendon and skin. Her foot flops to the side and her useless but preserved organs spill out from her stomach. Patches of her hair have been torn out and what remains of her face is pocketed with teeth marks. The ragged remains of her clothes aren't even worth considering.
You brush your fingers along the side of Yoshika's head. The jiang-shi's one good eye, the other a pulpy mess, focuses on you.
She smiles. Half of her mouth is gone, but she smiles. You can't help but imagine the gurgle that emanates from her throat is a pleased groan rather than one of distress.
You shake your head and pull her into a hug. "Thanks," you whisper.
The jiang-shi bumps into you under her own power, the playful gesture leaving traces of viscera on your jacket.
"You can still fly?" you ask her.
Somehow, the jiang-shi floats away from you. Her body is in no condition to do anything on its own, yet there she floats, flesh swaying in the air.
Your mage sight is naturally drawn towards her torn open body. Although the enchantments you placed on her skin failed to provide protection, it seems the organ that gives her life is undamaged. That false stomach, the mana-generating enigma, still seems to be functioning perfectly.
You smile despite the dreadful situation. You wonder what else of Seiga's original work remains undamaged while your efforts were torn apart.
Confident that the damage Yoshika suffered is, somehow, superficial, you take a step towards that monster and the burning immortal.
Mokou, when her eyes are undamaged, looks at you.
"Don't-" she manages to shout before her chest is speared through by a tentacle.
"Come-" she yells after her chest reforms in fire but before her neck is crushed into the ground.
"Go-" The creature bites off Mokou's entire jaw.
"I-" Blood gurgles in her throat.
"m o-" A scream of pain interrupts, her shoulders meeting in the middle of her body in the ruins of a shattered collarbone.
"k-" Mokou's entire face depresses into her skull.
This is terrible.
It is. It makes your chest ache with rage. Yet, what can you do about it? You doubt any creation you slap together would be little more than a snack for this thing. If you're going to do something about it, you need to muster as much power as you can. Even if you drained yourself dry, you wonder how much more effective it would be than Mokou's previous attacks.
You force yourself to watch Mokou be ravaged by the monster, reduced to nothing again and again.
As dire as the situation is, it isn't. The creature seems wholly intent on mauling Mokou until she stops moving, and that simply will never happen. The flames of Mokou's immortality that are constantly licking the creature don't seem to bother it at all. The more intense fire she manages to whip up in the seconds between deaths likewise appears to do nothing.
This is ridiculous. Is it supposed to be a joke? A tentacle-mouth growing blob monster, a constantly reviving fiery immortal, a jiang-shi reduced to floating dead flesh, and one very confused necromancer with his sister's soul interweaved with his walk into a forest?
Don't forget the unconscious youkai that only wants a career in acting.
...Fuck. This absolutely sucks. But there is absolutely nothing that we can do. Mokou isn't in any actual danger here, and she's done some pretty awful stuff in the past in an effort to kill herself, as I recall. But Yoshika needs to get clear, and the brother needs medical treatment. Maybe we can get some backup at Eientei, or rush from there to find Keine or something. But we can't do anything else here, not right now.
[X] Evacuate brother number two
-[X] Myouren Temple
Do we actually know how to get to Eientei? Considering our guide is currently being eaten and all. Plus, we need to get the alarm to as many people as possible and the temple's as good a place as any to start. If the brother's not at death's door, he should be able to hold on until we can get clear.
I picked the temple because A) odds are they'd want to see that he's mostly alright B) Byakuren would have some way of helping or taking him to Eientei and C) she'd be the one most likely to care about what's going on compared to Eirin "Casually mind wipes her student" Yakagoro.
>>177541 we should have gone with the waifu route.
Challenge Mokou to a spell card duel, and then immediately break it, calling down Reimu's unholy rage?
We are able to fuck with the border, considering we punched our way in. Would we be able to fuck with it enough that Ran or Yukari would take notice?
>>177583 And what if that friend wants to make sure that kid is alright? That and think realistically Necroanon is sorely in over his head. Hell I have doubts about even Reimu being able to beat this thing.
How can you just leave her there with every second bringing a new manner of death?
Somehow, I don't think any of these deaths are new to her.
You watch Mokou's intestines get yanked out of her body, only for a mouth to bite into it, severing it in twain, ultimately restoring the organ in a wash of flames only for it to be ripped apart again.
Leaving still doesn't sit right.
Responsibilities, Bro. We can't let this guy die. He might be a youkai and physically a helluva lot tougher than you, but he's far from displaying the longevity of the immortal in front of us.
You just don't like it.
You hate how life is always stringing you along. it's been worse here in Gensokyo. You never have had the perfect answer to anything here. You're always the small fish getting swept up in the tide of events, doing your best not to get brained by the rocks.
It isn't all that bad. This just- isn't a situation where you can leverage what talents you have.
Yeah. You have to focus on what you can do.
You swallow the lump in your throat and manage to raise your voice. "Mokou, I'll be back-" oh, that could be a problem. What could?
You don't know how to get back.
In this damned bamboo forest, you only know how to navigate by fixed waypoints. Somehow, you doubt you could easily return to where Mokou is entangled with the dog-sized creature.
"Don-" Mokou shouts at you, before the front of her skull is caved inwards by a flailing tentacle.
"Worr-" She starts up again, only for her chest to be crushed for the umpteenth time tonight.
Mokou rages when the creature yanks on her hair, pulling the long white strands out by the root. The creature flings them away when they catch fire, the waves of red and orange quickly flickering out as their fuel turns to ash. "-ll fin-" she manages, before being distracted by the removal of seven of her ribs.
Your head is starting to spin. Not from the sight of your friend being mauled repeatedly, but from the stench of burnt and burning flesh and hair and whatever that black thing is made out of.
You think that creature is burning?
There's some strange scent in the air. You hope it's derived from that creature's injuries. The hypotheticals otherwise are scary to think about. Is that thing immune to fire? Immune to pain? Is it regenerating its body or is it simply bulling through any damage? You try to use your mage sight to identify something, anything, but it's all unclear due to the volume of magic Mokou is stirring up.
"-u in a feAargh!" The immortal bucks when the creature bites off one of her ears. She screams in anger, blue flames spontaneously erupting along one of her arms. Instead of whipping wildly in the air, the fires grow focused like blowtorches. The blue flames spin in place, scything apart tentacles and freeing Mokou's arm.
"-hours!" Mokou slaps the bright blue jet blasting form her palm onto the creature attached to her chest. You wince as the flame burns cleanly through both the black mass of the creature and the woman underneath, drawing screams from both. "BAAAAaaaD IDEEeeeee-"
"-ays maybe! OW!" When life renters Mokou's body she forms another blowtorch-like fire in her hand, only for the creature to immediately bite through her wrist.
You finally avert your eyes from the scenes of Mokou's deaths and try to hoist up the male youkai on your own.
Have a destination in mind?
Eientei. To make sure Hikaru here doesn't die and also to find someone powerful enough to help Mokou out with her predicament. If anybody can find Mokou out here in the forest and have the ability to fight that creature, it'd be one of the Eientei residents.
The injured youkai is heavy enough that you cannot pick him up without a magical boost. You end up dragging him through the air, holding on to his one arm and his chest.
Would it be better to drag him on the ground? I'd think not.
He doesn't visibly bleed anymore, but you can't be sure his insides are holding together. Maybe your own cursory examination missed something. Ignoring that possibility would be foolish.
it's not something to continually worry about. Make sure you don't run him into any more bamboo than you already are.
Yoshika floats along at your side. What little control she has over her body she uses to try and keep hold of her fleshy parts. A large swathe of her back's skin is held precariously in her fingers, like a loose crane game.
She's a mess. You'll have to spend a huge amount of time restoring her and putting everything back where it should be. Finding useable parts or growing them yourself will be a huge time sink, and you doubt you'd ever get her looking exactly like her old self. You might even have to swallow your pride and go to Seiga. A pair of minds and hands would speed the process by magnitudes. You still have some of what you salvaged from the buried jiang-shi, ready to be exploited, but since you've already taken all the good parts you'll need to-
Focus. Please. You need to focus to get us to Eientei.
You are. You have the large mansion's image in mind.
Listen, we aren't out of danger yet. it's not time to let your nervous worrying take hold.
The appearance of Eientei, lights crevassed in the sides of the large mansion's elegant style, is a relief. You fly over the short boundary wall that encloses the yard and-.
Is this the right place?
Overpopulation of rabbits and youkai rabbits? I think it is.
they're moving! Running!
And not in play!
Unlike your last visit to Eientei, none of the earth rabbits are lazing about. Some stand near the walls, old-fashioned military caps on their heads and some sort of weapon in their hands. Others sprint around the yard, carrying stacks of boxes far larger than them. A few of the earth rabbit youkai are cracking a whip in the air, a sled pulled by actual rabbits -Those are definitely larger than normal rabbits- coming to a halt in the center of yard.
Lunar rabbits, easily distinguished from their earthen peers, jog up to the sled and pull weapons and ammunition from the back of it.
While the earth rabbits are still in their everyday wears, their dresses and skirts, the lunar rabbits have costumed up. Gone are the casual clothes from the festival and even the business-like outfits you've seen Reisen wear while hawking medicinal wares.
The taller, more ethereal youkai rabbits are dressed for a fight. They have on boots, pants, long-sleeved shirts, vests, and some sort of armor on their shoulders and along their limbs. Their combat fatigues are patterned in a kind of camouflage, predominantly dark purple but seemingly shifting color when they move around the yard. They have on helmets that have protection built-in for their floppy ears and high-tech looking goggles hang around their necks. They have all manners of oddities nestled into the mesh nettings of their outfits. You assume most of the devices are firearms of some sort, but you're no expert on advanced alien technology.
"Hurry it up, Bunny! We needed more of the Tee-Dee-Five's out of storage yesterday!"
You look for the source of the barked commands and find her.
Off center from the middle of the yard is Reisen standing on a crate. She has some sort of bazooka-like device resting against one shoulder and uses her other hand to cut the air while she yells at the other rabbits in the yard.
"Be careful with those flares! If you set them off by accident again, you'll be outta here for the next month!" Reisen's voice is loud and commanding. The rabbits around her immediately move to follow her directions.
Still, she's hardly the only one shouting and making noise. The entirety of Eientei is a hubbub of activity while rabbits run around to and fro. You try and catch snippets of what they're saying, but it's too difficult to-
A high-pitched squeal and a very familiar thrashing catch your attention. There, coming out of the building.
Two lunar rabbits are marching out of the mansion, a net dragged between them. They look like they're struggling, their heavy and unwieldy load refusing to hold still. Wait, is that-"
Reisen takes notice of them immediately. "Kuro! I told you to bring that one back to its cage!"
"Sorry!" The pink-haired lunar rabbit yelps. "The scanner misread the tag- I mean, we didn't have time to update the change in contain-"
"That's fine, just hurry up with the transfer! We're on a tight clock here! I need you two ready for the next rotation in two!"
"You got it, Boss!" The pair of youkai snaps off salutes.
it's their mistake. With only two hands on the net between them, the greyish-creature inside takes advantage of the slip-up. It thrashes and rolls, breaking the grips of the two lunarians. It keeps rolling, the net eventually falling away from its body and spreading out across the grass.
The creature seems to rear back on what you assume are legs, exulting in glorious freedom. it's tentacles stretch into the air and wave about, spontaneously growing in number.
That moment is all it gets. You hear a soft whine the same instant a metal rod the size of your hand but no thicker than a pencil slams into the center of the creature. It screams, a high-pitched wail, as its entire blobby surface seems to solidify. Tentacles drip away and ooze of its body into a pool on the ground. Red eyes pop off in a spray of black blood and drop to the ground. Teeth loosen and fall, scattering around it.
Reisen flicks something on her pistol. A thin wire detaches from the barrel of the gun and falls to the ground. Tracing it back, you notice the wire attached to the rod in the creature.
You flinch at the loud whump. A metal net collides with the creature, enwrapping it and knocking it to the ground.
Glancing back to Reisen, you see the rabbit drop the bazooka-like weapon from her shoulder carelessly to the ground. "Bring me another net gun," she shouts, "and don't let it go like a bunch of idiots again!"
The two lunar rabbits scramble to begin hauling the creature away once more. They don't salute before scurrying off.
The creature looked like it had some sort of definite form while Reisen had it stunned, but now it's already appearing blobby once more. The grey mass begins to drip and coat it, tentacles, eyes, and teeth coagulating into existence, ready to make trouble for its captors.
What's going on here?
"Hey! Come down where I can see you!" The child-like shout sounds like it came from below you. Lowering more to the ground, you see a trio of earth rabbits pointing their weapons at you.
They look like children, upset that you're intruding on their patch of the sandbox. I'm all for cute things, but these aren't kids playing pretend. Those weapons are real.
You nod, doing your best to sound respectful. "Hey, I don't-"
"Intruder!" that bratty little rabbit shouts while swinging her gun around.
The cry draws the attention of almost everyone in the yard. Rabbits of all sizes and colors turn their weapons on you. The earthen rabbits, while plentiful, don't scare you much. However, the Lunarians that were preparing themselves snap around, fancy rifles brought to shoulders and pointed at you in an instant.
That scares you. You saw what those things did to Mokou's head, repeatedly.
"Stop messing around and get back to work! he's no intruder!"
Thankfully, the rabbit in command of the situation responds just as instantly. You watch Reisen hop off her pedestal and jog over to you, glaring at any of the rabbits who shirk their duties.
You float all the way down to the ground, trying to let go of your still living load as gently as possible.
Reisen's red eyes scan you in an instant. You don't get a word in edgewise before she's half-turned and shouting. "Emergency! Red mark! Get these two inside, now!"
Rabbits respond instantly. You watch a gaggle of earth rabbits pour out of Eientei, various bags slung over their shoulders and a pair of stretchers held between them. They rush over to where you stand, quickly but carefully loading up your wounded actor youkai. A few pull out bandages, stethoscopes, and other strange devices they use to analyze their new patient.
They try to wrestle Yoshika onto a stretcher as well, but the jiang-shi simply floats just out of reach of their grasping hands.
"She uh, looks bad, but those aren't even close to uh, fatal injuries," you try to explain. The group of short rabbits, all wearing some sort of red cross on their clothes, give you a dead stare.
"You heard him. Hurry and stabilize that man." Reisen gives one of the rabbits a swift kick, startling the rest into action.
The medical rabbits gather their things and hoof it back inside. One of them makes sure to turn around and give you a rather offensive gesture, though. Damn little cretins. they're more annoying then-
Red eyes that lull you into-
You take a step back from the military rabbit that invaded your personal space. Reisen looks at you while tapping her foot and occasionally glancing around. "Was he all you needed? I'm on a serious time crunch, here."
[ ] "What the hell is going on?"
[ ] "You look stunning in that uniform."
[ ] "Where did these things come from?"
[ ] "Can I get one of those guns?"
[ ] "What can I do to help?"
[ ] "Were the shootings and explosions in the forest caused by you all?"
[ ] "Mokou needs help, right now!"
[ ] "Do you have any spare dead flesh on hand?"
[ ] "Will Hikaru, that youkai, be okay?
[ ] <Write-in>
>>177520 >knight mentor
I think it's fair to assume that anybody outside of Gensokyo won't be getting in during the duration of this particular story.
>>177626 >Immortality through liver consumption
A very?interesting concern, I'll say. From what I understand, the idea that the Hourai Elixir can be ?duplicated? through liver consumption is (currently) unsubstantiated rumor. Further, Mokou's body parts (seem to) explode in a blaze of glory once separated from her. And really-
Huh. I'm not sure what the point of putting this out here was. Maybe to help clarify the truth? Perhaps spread half-truths, false observations? I'm not even sure anymore. I'll stop writing now.
I have to ask, what kind of technology do the Lunarian weapons here rely on? For instance the rifle Irisu used to shoot Mokou in an earlier thread is described firing with a "soft whirr", not a loud bang. Is it an electromagnetic weapon like a rail gun or coil gun? Also that gun Reisen shot to incapacitate the monster, was it some type of taser since it was mentioned having a wire attached to the rod/dart?
[x] "Mokou needs help. She's fighting one of those... things... in the forest."
[x] "Will Hikaru, that youkai, be okay?
[x] "Do you have any spare dead flesh on hand?"
Reisen's busy, and doesn't have time to play twenty questions. So let's keep it to the basics. First of all, one of those whatevers is chomping on Mokou, which is likely very relevant to Reisen and likely to get a reaction out of her. Secondly; finding out if there's any side-effects from being attacked by one of them. Finally, getting some spare parts for Yoshika. Pretty quick questions to run through in a few moments, and I'm sure we can find out more about those things later. Right now, we need to do what we actually can do.
[x] "Mokou needs help. She's fighting one of those... things... in the forest."
[x] "Hikaru was attacked by it, also. Will he be okay?"
[x] "Do you have any spare dead flesh on hand?"
[x] Oh god Neil Armstrong is right behind you (Tempting, but no.)
>>177680 Yes. (Except that the second question needs context, too.)
I wonder if the "body parts explode" thing is controllable. If Mokou can make her bits not blow up, she could serve as an endless source of fleshy bits for us to work with. It'd be a hell of a lot more convenient than grave robbing as a way to get fresh body parts.
Not sure how well asking would go over, but considering how easygoing she's been and that our relationship is pretty good, maybe something worth thinking on.
[x] "Mokou needs help! She's fighting one of those... things... in the forest."
[x] "You look stunning in that uniform."
[x] "Hikaru was attacked by it, also. Will he be okay?"
[x] "What the hell is going on here?"
[x] "Do you have any spare dead flesh on hand?"
[x] "Mokou needs help, right now!."
[x] "What seems to be most effective at containing/damaging the creatures?"
[x] "Where did these things come from?"
[x] "I'll need some form of notification when the Youkai is healed he has places to be.
[x] "Any materials I could use to repair Yoshika would be appreciated."
Not a graceful way to introduce the topic but nobody has time for beating around the bush.
You're reluctant to demand anything of Reisen when she's outfitted for war, though. Reisen's full, undistracted gaze is unnerving. Her eyes aren't glowing, aren't exuding whatever maddening effect they can have, but she doesn't need magic to make you feel uncomfortable.
But your comfort is hardly the most important thing at the moment. "Mokou is fighting one of these things out there. She, uh, isn't doing too hot.? Now isn't the time for jokes. Didn't mean it.
Reisen frowns before setting her weaponry on the ground and fishing about her person for a blocky device. It reminds you of one of those really old cellphones, but with a touchscreen instead of buttons.
"What's that?" you ask.
"Tracker," she curtly responds while tapping the screen. "We can't leave Mokou alone with one of those."
"Why the hell do you have a tracker?"
She doesn't look away from what she's doing to answer you. "Why wouldn't we? it's a necessity for quick, focused movement in this forest."
"No, not like that. I mean, why the hell do you have a tracker that can find those things? What the hell is going on here?" You're not oblivious. You can see what kind of threat these creatures represent. To find them being herded up by the rabbits of Eientei is not as reassuring as it should be.
"We had a containment failure," Reisen mechanically explains. "We underestimated the upper limit of strength that some of the specimens could exhibit. it's a mistake we've rectified for once we recapture them."
"Specimens? Recapture? You mean you found these things somewhere?" That could be bad. Has an outside force entered Gensokyo? With creatures like these under their command, they wouldn't be some low-tier magician like you. Somebody with servants like these could seriously endanger some of the residents of Gensokyo. It could be that- I think you can stop speculating now.
Reisen's finger hangs above her tracker. Nothing about her appearance, her demeanor, has changed but she's frozen nonetheless.
She closes her eyes in response to her name. Her lips moves, words mouthed to herself. The rabbit girl lets her tracker lower and uses her free hand to massage her scalp. You can't tell if she's in pain or worried or frustrated.
One eye opens, looks at you, and then glances back down to the tracker. "No," she vocalizes.
No they didn't find them? Then that means-
"We already have over half of them back home and restrained," Reisen continues, her hushed voice letting you in on the secret. "You don't need to worry. At our current rate, we should have the rest of them locked up in an hour and twenty-seven minutes."
Reisen's trust, her leaking of information that she sounds reluctant to voice, doesn't phase you.
They didn't find them.
If they didn't find them, where did they come from?
it's simple. There are very few options left.
These creatures are blobs, sure, but super-powered blobs; amorphous creature, sacks of gelatinous flesh.
That tiny niggling sensation at the back of your minds begins to unfold.
These creatures weren't found.
Your mind begins to race, connecting the rumors and hearsay you've come across throughout the years. Scraps of a text you sought, diary entries of those long dead, textbooks covering esoteric creatures that could endanger a fledgling wizard - you start to see it all. Descriptions of creatures that you've never encountered are dredged from the recesses of your memory.
Coincidence. Ridiculous coincidence. But then again, you should have been expecting something like this. it's a powerful and cursed tome, supposedly. According to some, misfortune befalls all who hold it.
Bro, are you sure about this?
It seems to fit, doesn't it?
You aren't crazy, are you?
Abdul Alhazred, the Mad Arab, was known as a maddened poet, a powerful wizard, a crazed hermit, a masochist adventurer and more. He was the man who purportedly wrote the book you seek. The Necronomicon contains everything that strange almighty man had experienced. To survive in a god-forsaken area of the world, filled with horror that any modern magician would fall prey to, he was the one that had to come closest to mastering the human condition, covering all matters of a human's life and death.
That's what you think and what your research has led to. You've searched long and hard because you expect to find the necessary guidance in manipulating your soul within that book, to give your sister back her life you inadvertently took from her. Saved for me.
But that information does not compose the entirety of the Necronomicon.
No, it's not even information most would know of.
There's more within that book, more well-known information. it's famous enough to have grown a multitude of cults, followings far larger than any necromantic cabal you've come across. You've had to fight those crazed cultists for mere sentences of information on occasion.
You've always thought them to be lunatics.
But, well, you've met true lunatics now.
Isn't it possible that-
Reisen's commanding voice distracts you from your thoughts. The lunar rabbit shoulders her weaponry, three other lunarians waiting next to her. You recognize the pair from before, while you think you saw the fourth rabbit during the festival. they're all armed and dangerous, their armaments differing slightly from Reisen's but still harboring a precise and brutal air.
Your purple-haired acquaintance gives her soldiers a quick brief. She's already back to that dominant, confident persona. "Our next target is subject zero one seven. She should be preoccupied by an immortal, but we're not taking any chances. Put her down hard and fast, disregard collateral. Let's move!"
Reisen looks annoyed, but nonetheless stops to acknowledge you. "What?" she asks.
Everything. Anything. There's plenty of things you need to talk to her about.
All of it has to wait, though. There just isn't enough time. The grand scheme of events will go on without you. There are other matters closer at hand you might need to attend to. "Are there any spare, unwanted corpses around?"
The other lunarians look at you like you're- oh, no, they're watching the floating corpse next to you. They seem to be equally confused by Yoshika's appearance.
Reisen takes one look at your jiang-shi companion before nodding. "We store a few human cadavers. If those don't work, you can easily find or make dead rabbits. Ask around and take what you need. If anybody gives you trouble then tell them I allowed it. If they still insist, go find master and tell her I gave you my permission."
With the matter settled, Reisen nods once more before turning away. The lunarians jog out of Eientei, the earthen rabbits around them whistling and clapping, excited citizenry cheering for their fighting women. Others try to throw rotten fruits and jeer at the lunarians. Others visibly slacken once Reisen can no longer see them. They seem like a fickle bunch.
What are you going to do now?
it's a good question.
You can't copy yourself at will and you can't slow down time. There's simply too much you'd like to get done.
You'd like to be there to help Mokou get back on her feet. You'd like to patch up Yoshika, even give her that full body rework. You'd like to get answers out of those at Eientei, to check on Reimu, to look out for Minamitsu, to save your sister, to work on your magic-
You'd like to watch Byakuren.
You'd like to watch that play you and everybody else worked so hard on.
There's too much to do.
What do you need to accomplish? What can you fix? Where do you go? Who do you see?
[ ] Follow Reisen
[ ] Patch up Yoshika
-[ ] Cadavers
-[ ] Rabbits
-[ ] Cemetery savings
-[ ] A hermit's touch?
[ ] Interrogation
-[ ] Tewi
-[ ] Eirin
-[ ] Princess
-[ ] Lunar rabbit
-[ ] Earth rabbit
[ ] To the play
-[ ] After Hikaru is confirmed safe
-[ ] Once Mokou is recovered
[ ] <Write-in>
Shorter than I like, but that's my fault for last time's options and overall slowish update speeds. Hopefully this next one will be packed with goodies (or not, if the votes go that way).
>>177674 >Standard lunarian weaponry
I'm not enough of a gun-freak to have mapped out the entire history of lunarian arms manufacturing, but I can say that the weapons used by actual Lunarian Defense Corps differ from those used in Eientei. While the actual military has standardized equipment, the lunarians-in-exile use whatever they can get. That means a few stolen weapons, a lot of modifications to human weaponry, and anything that Eirin cooks up as part of an experiment.
Of course, if you want info on the actual guns appearing in this story, well, ask again after they become irrelevant (or make a vote that'd reveal the information).
>>177676 >Dwarf Fortress
Would you believe I threw in a reference to Bay Twelve in the original draft before taking it out?
[X] Patch up Yoshika
[X] To the play
-[X] After Hikaru is confirmed safe
Priority one for Necranon right now is to take a deep breath, relax, and sort everything out. Eientei's troops appear to have some way to clean up these things, and running along with them won't do anything except get in their way. Let them catch whatever these things are, maybe try to come back in a few days and learn more about them. Trying to fish around right now isn't going to get him anywhere.
In the meantime, our bodyguard is literally falling apart at the seams. Once she's patched up, we can head back to the village, see the play, and let people know what happened.
No. You came here to get help for Mokou, right? That's what you've done.
Not going with the lunarians might be admitting how powerless you can be but a hit to your ego is hardly the worst blow you have ever taken.
You can't let your silly mixed emotions get the better of you. Storming through Eientei, chasing the specter of the Necronomicon? Rushing back to watch the kindest of women's big performance? Trekking through the forest, trying to bring your sword into play? How could you even think of options like that?
Life is all about priorities. You need to keep yours straight.
Putting on a smile, you reach to your side and grip one of Yoshika's barely attached limbs.
You pull the jiang-shi toward you with as much care as you can muster. It doesn't take much; after you give the slightest of tugs, Yoshika gladly zips into your arms. You laugh when the zombie girl presses her face into yours, leaving a smear of ooze and slime along your cheek.
Ew. Do you even know what that is?
Some sort of byproduct of your wards beginning to fail, probably. It might also be a mixture of that creature's remnants with other forest scatterings.
You grab one of Yoshika's hanging legs and fold it back up, letting it rest awkwardly on top of her chest. You adjust your grip and-
The leg falls off, dangling like a pendulum ready to snap. You carefully bring it back up and begin to look around for-
You feel the slight tug of a leg bouncing up and down by the skin.
You look down at Yoshika. Despite her half-mauled face, you can see Yoshika's smile.
"Stop that," you chide her.
The jiang-shi gurgles, something like a laugh, and slumps into your grip. She nestles into your hold and lets her head rest against your chest.
Sheesh. Someone's mood is hard to break.
Are you sure she's doing well?
The little scamp in your arms is playful enough given the state of her body. You think she's fine.
Well, I'm going to check.
That would be great. You'd love to get confirmation that Yoshika is as comfortable as she seems.
Now, where can you find some corpses?
Surprisingly, the first pair of Earth rabbits you approach prove to be a helpful bunch. They wrinkle their noses at you and your question but nonetheless lead you on a brisk walk through Eientei's halls.
As busy as it was outside, the interior of the mansion is much more orderly. Sometimes you'll find a few rabbit youkai scurrying around, but the hall traffic is otherwise well-behaved. You guess anything that needs to be moved in a rush is brought outside first.
Your two rabbit guides, a short blonde with curly locks and an even shorter brunette with short hair don't lack for energy. They leap down multiple steps at a time, steps that you take as quickly as you can without excessively jostling Yoshika.
Eientei, perhaps unsurprisingly, has more than one basement level. Your guides lead you down to the second basement floor, but you see that the stairs go down further.
The lower levels are more utilitarian than what is above. The ground floor of Eientei emulates a beautiful, ornate mansion of ancient Japanese style with slightly alien modifications towards efficiency. The basements, on the other hand, are all concrete walling with fluorescent lighting. If it weren't for the numbered hallways and identification plates on doors, you wouldn't be able to notice any progress at all.
"Are you making any progress?
You're fairly confident you passed by the ?B2-318? door marker already.
"Hey," you speak up, your voice harsh compared to the soft padding of feet against the floor. "Are you two leading me in circles?"
The pair of rabbits freezes before slowing turning to face you.
"O-Of c-course not!" the blonde one stutters.
"Y-Yeah!" Her friend agrees. "I-it's n-not like we're u-using you as an excuse for an e-extended break or anything."
"W-Why would we?" The first rabbit echoes. "Who d-doesn't like to carry crates of w-weapons?"
They aren't too bright, are they?
No. they're not.
Oh. Your sister is back? Does Yoshika seem all together in the head?
Well, she isn't much different from normal. I thought getting ripped to bits would bother her more, but she doesn't mind her injuries. I was getting some hints of annoyance, but she was more satisfied than anything.
Yeah. Right now, she's caught between two emotions; that kind of victorious smugness and a type of floaty happiness.
What kind of descriptions are those?
Hey, I'm doing the best I can.
it's not like you asked for the play-by-play. All you wanted was to know was that she isn't a repressed ball of grief bundled up in your arms.
Nope. I get the feeling of a lounging cat.
Good to know.
"So," you growl, glaring at your guides, "those cadavers?"
The rabbit youkai stand there, stiff as boards, staring at you with wide eyes.
Okay. You can deal with this.
"RUN!" you shout.
The rabbits scream and bolt, dashing through the halls at a breakneck pace. You run after them, your longer legs easily keeping pace with their half-hop half-run retreat.
Is this supposed to be productive?
It'll work out one way or another. Either you'll end up where you need to be, or they'll bring you to someone else you can ask for help.
After two minutes of running it turns out to be the latter. The sprinting rabbits drift around a corner. Once you turn said corner, you find the two rabbits lying flat on their backs. You can imagine the bright yellow stars circling their heads.
Standing over their bodies is Tewi. The black-haired rabbit has both her arms spread rigidly out to her sides, an annoyed grimace on her face.
With a loud sigh, she bends down and grabs the two fallen youkai by the backs of their shirts and hefts them into the air. "Alright you two, time to get back to work."
"Excuse me," you say.
Tewi looks up as if noticing you for the first time. "Eh? Whaddya need Womanizer?"
You shake your head. Now's not the time to call her out on her annoying nicknames. "Reisen said I could use Eientei's cadavers. I was hoping you could lead me to them." You lift Yoshika slightly, emphasizing the necessity.
Tewi shrugs and lets the two groggy rabbits drop to the ground. "Sure," she claims. The short rabbit youkai walks down the hall, motioning you to follow after her.
"Your luck has been pretty shitty recently, hasn't it?" She asks you over her shoulder.
It certainly hasn't been the best. Two near death experiences in the span of a few weeks? Definitely worse than your lifetime average. "You can tell?" you ask her.
"Of course I can. I thought a little blessing would help keep you clear, but I guess it wasn't enough." A blessing? Of luck; don't you remember our last visit to Eientei?
Ah, right. When you went to checkup on Reisen after her breakdown. Tewi harassed you a bit and thanked you for helping out. If she actually tried to give you some luck like Byakuren claimed, you never really felt it.
Maybe we did? It could have been something little, like not having to wait in line for food.
Possible, you suppose. You aren't well versed in the magic of something nebulous like ?luck? to give a critical opinion.
You stop short when the black-haired rabbit jumps in front of your face. "You listening to me?"
You hesitate, enough time for Tewi to land lightly and scoff. "Whatever. I was just saying that with that kind of cloud hanging over your head, I'm surprised you haven't died."
"Has someone cursed me or something?" You can't remember having any run-ins with any vengeful witches recently.
"it's possible, but I doubt it. You've got all the airs of natural misfortune around you." Tewi shrugs, mostly indifferent to your plight. "Trust me. I've been trying to dispel loads of it from around here recently but, as you can see outside my efforts haven't amounted to much."
Tewi is sort of like Reisen's counterpart for the Earth rabbits, isn't she? You suppose she's working hard in her own way. "That sounds rough."
"It is, but I'm used to it. It all comes and goes. Once Eirin starts getting uppity in her research, she pushes it onto Reisen who pushes it onto the rest of us." Tewi is definitely an Earth rabbit. She's constantly bouncing around, switching between the balls and toes of her feet and spinning around to walk backwards. "it's been pretty good recently, everybody chill, so something like this was bound to happen."
Being flighty and carefree seems characteristic of the Earth rabbits, but you'd expect more concern out of someone in her position. The rest of Eientei is acting like it's an emergency, but Tewi doesn't seem different from her lackadaisical self. "You're not worried at all?"
"More than you can imagine," she answers with a laugh. "But I'm old. I can deal. This is still the best possible situation for me and mine. If I didn't think things would end with us on the up and up, I would intervene more."
A mother watching her children push each other into the mud.
That's what Tewi reminds you of. Slightly concerned, but banking on the fact that nobody will get hurt.
For all the quirky metaphors you've brought up before, I think this one has been your worst.
Tewi leads you up a floor and through the hallways to a random door. Inside is a fairly empty room with tiled floors, several metal tables lined up along the wall. There are a few amenities, like a sink and a closet with gloves and towels inside, but the room is mostly bare. Your rabbit guide skips across the room towards the only other set of doors visible. She pulls them open, blasting you with a slight wash of cold.
it's large, walk-in refrigerator. Rectangular panels built into the walls open and slide out, revealing long canvas bags. Unzipping a bag puts you face to face with a twenty-something woman, eyes closed.
"Here we are. This all you wanted?" Tewi asks while rubbing her ears.
Looking into the marked storage units, you find a total of eleven corpses to work with, four of which are women you guess to have been in their mid-twenties. The men vary more, ages between twenty and forty if.
You wonder where these people came from. Did they accidentally slip into Gensokyo and fall prey to the wilderness? Were they seeking this fantasy land but overwhelmed when they arrived? Maybe they were locals that even Eientei's advanced medical science couldn't save. Or were these people everyday villagers, abducted from their homes and workplaces for nefarious experiments?
Or maybe they simply check marked the little box to donate their bodies to science.
"I'm not the one to ask. This isn't my business," is how Tewi answers when you ask about these people's origins. "They all got here, one way or another; more bodies to help forward science for the good of others."
You shrug and place Yoshika gently on one of the tables. They have your thanks for their contributions, at any rate.
Duty completed, Tewi makes her way to the door. "I've got to get back. Good luck and try not to poke your nose around too much, okay?"
You give her a wave and your thanks. You definitely wouldn't have found this room on your own given Eientei's love of generic labeling.
After setting out the various tools and supplies you have on hand, you walk back over to the fridge. "Let's see what we have to work with," you mutter while dragging out the available corpses.
Most of them are in surprisingly good condition. They lack any obvious injuries or, at worst, have a single injury that has been stitched up. There's no evidence that the corpses have gone under any major operation, be it autopsies or plastic surgery.
"Do you like one look more than another, Yoshika?" you ask her.
it's tough to get input from her given her inability to speak properly. You start to hold up different limbs and features, trying to gauge what Yoshika prefers from her grunts and moans.
"So this part of the forearm and-"
"What? So the shoulder from this one and-"
"I don't under-? she wants all three of those arms. ?No, I'm not figuring out a way to give you a third arm."
After that long, exhausting process you get to work. Managing the internals is simple enough, especially given that most of them are unnecessary. Having internal organs does add a certain weight and consistency to her body but usually causes more maintenance concerns than they're worth. Now is the perfect time to strip them out and clean up her insides.
You take your brush a reach far into Yoshika, thoroughly scrubbing out the useless viscera, leaving what remains of her interior flesh clean. Then you get to work reknitting what was damaged, from her vocal chords to her tendons. Given that nobody sees the inner cogs, you can afford to slap together parts in a messy but sturdy fashion. It'd go even faster if your work would stop moving. "Stop laughing, Yoshika. You're messing with your rib spacing."
Working the outside is slower, more careful work. You carefully cut away skin and stitch it together, melding it with magic so the transition between transplanted swathes is more natural. It certainly isn't indistinguishable - you're just trying to get Yoshika into good working order. Once all her parts are where they're supposed to be, it's only a matter of time to fix it gorgeous or magically strengthen it unbreakable.
You run your hands across Yoshika's bare stomach, smoothing out the pockets of air that built up under her skin before you stitch the transplant to the skin around her thighs. Mixing and matching parts from different people like this isn't a problem. Flesh is flesh, and any physical differences can be smoothed over by magic.
You work your way from the center outwards, hitting the legs before the arms and head. You don't sculpt her extremities meticulously, making the Frankenstein-like patch job more prominent. It annoys you, but fixing her proportions now would, again, take too much time. All you need to do is to get Yoshika to the point where- "Ow! Yoshika, don't pull my hair."
"Yes, yes, you can grab again. Let go of my head, please."
Working on Yoshika's head frustrates you the most. You don't feel any damage to her skull and thus her brain should have at worst been jostled. However, a person's face contains all the empathy. You replace her ruined eye and her jaw and all the other fleshy bits but the imperfections gnaw at your aesthetic sense. The heterochromatic eyes, the lopsided cheeks, and the different curvature of the eyebrows - it all screams at you. You rub your thumb against the recess next to Yoshika's nose, trying to smooth out some of the unevenness. It takes a careful touch and a light will or else you threaten applying too much magic and caving in other parts of- Bro, didn't you say you would save this for later?
You take a step away from the table, giving Yoshika the opportunity to deftly swing herself upright.
Despite being a quick fix, everything looks solid. Aesthetics aside, you don't see any flaws with her capabilities. Yoshika rolls her arms, kicks her legs and stretches her back without a problem.
She looks different.
That's because she is. Whereas before she had something closer to a teenaged body, you've scavenged bones and other parts from full grown women. Her limbs are longer and more slender. Her torso is more of an hourglass, her hip bone and chest wider. Even her new jaw is angular enough to give off a womanly vibe.
That smile hasn't changed, though. Yoshika gives you a cheeky grin before falling off the table, arms outstretched.
"Oof," you grunt while catching her. "Careful, Yoshika, you're pretty fragile right now."
it's a temp fix. More than the physical disparities, the lack of strong magical warding is the real danger. Right now, Yoshika isn't much stronger than a real human. She's certainly less resistant, her skin rather easily damaged and lacking a natural regenerative ability.
The jiang-shi giggles and stands next to you. "Thaaank you," she cheers while giving you a body wrapping hug.
Enjoying that, aren't you?
"Yeah, yeah, no problem."
She's taller now, too. Almost exactly your height, in fact.
You clean the area up the best you can with the cleaning supplies you can find. You feel silly putting the mutilated bodies back into their containers where you found them, but it's better than leaving them out in the open. Hopefully nobody will come down expecting to find pristine, untouched corpses.
"Ready to go, Yoshika?" you ask the jiang-shi once the area is tidied up.
The purple-haired girl smiles and latches onto your arm, relaxing into her customary position at your side.
You're forgetting something important that you, somehow, haven't noticed.
Once Yoshika is decently covered by your large black jacket, you head out. Navigating the featureless hallways might be difficult, but your sister feeds you the memories of the proper turns to take that Tewi showed you. Navigation is a mindless effort on your part.
"How are you feeling, Yoshika? Notice any problems?" you ask your undead companion.
"Nope!" she answers.
"That's good. Honestly, what were you thinking grappling with that thing?"
Yoshika frowns and hugs you tighter. "Protecting Master."
You smile and rub her back. "And I really appreciate it, but I hate to see you torn up like that."
Yoshika responds by pressing further into your side, her face slanted down. You shake your head and rub her back while you walk. You'll need to figure out a way to keep her- "Creature of the dark?lunging for your throat?"
"What was that?" you ask.
Yoshika raises her head and looks at you, her eyes wide and confused.
"What were you just saying?" you ask her again.
Yoshika blinks and points a finger at herself, her head cocked sideways.
You scowl at her. "Yes, you."
Your jiang-shi companion rotates her finger so that it rests on her chin. You watch her eyes roll upwards, her mind lost in thought as she tries to recall whatever it is she's trying to remember.
You sigh. "Don't worry about it."
She does just that, happily returning to hanging off your shoulder while you return to watching where you're walking.
Down the hall and instead of left, turn right to find the stairs?right there. Excellent! Thanks, Sis.
it's not like I want to be lost down here forever.
The panic of rushing rabbits returns as you reach ground level. You slowly navigate your way through the mansion, taking note of the wide variety of activities taking place in the mansion. Not everybody is running around moving boxes. Some youkai cook in a kitchen while others are sitting in a circle, mending clothes. A few carry around beakers while others are mopping the floor. You even come across an infirmary.
You peek in out of curiosity to find Hikaru laid out on one of eight cots. The aspiring actor is comfortably sleeping, his arm bandaged up-
"Did you give him a new arm?" you ask one of the nurses.
"We regrew his. Got a problem with that?" the red-cross adorned rabbit snips back, her arms crossed across her chest.
"Not at all." The fact that they could manage such a feat in a matter of hours bothers you somewhat, but there could be horrendous side effects. Or maybe they're just better than you. ?Thank you for helping him."
"it's our job. Now, get out of my clinic! You're blocking the door!"
Ignoring any huffy rabbits, it seems like the situation is looking up. Despite the initial shock of the attack, the terrible possibilities that had flashed through your mind haven't come to pass. Once you see that Mokou is safe-
And she is.
When you step outside into the mansion's yard, you quickly spot the white-haired immortal sitting on a rock.
Mokou notices you once you step off the wooden porch and onto the grass. She rises and meets you half way, her hand raised in greeting.
"Glad to see you upright, Mokou."
"I'm glad to be here. Thanks for sending Reisen after me, by the way. I think I would have been there for a good while longer without the help. I mean, I definitely would've gotten out eventually but it would've meant a huge amount of pain. I think if I would have managed to stay alive and feed it my arms I could have hit it pointblank with a superheated jet that would have blown the thing off me, but it would have been tricky timing. I think I could have done it and if I didn't then I could have- uh, this isn't that important, is it?"
Mokou gives a halting laugh and wrings her hands together, a slight tinge of blush visible on her face.
"I don't mind," you chuckle, "but there'd probably better things to do than stand around and theorize."
"Yeah, that's true. What happened to that guy we saved?"
"he's sleeping safe and sound. It looks like Eientei took care of him."
"That's great. Mission accomplished then." Mokou smiles and pumps her fist once, genuinely excited about saving a life.
"Mission accomplished," you repeat to yourself. Those words do have a rather satisfying feeling accompanying them.
Hopefully the performance has gone on without any further hitches. You suppose you could go back to that, now. Of all the things you could do right now, returning there feels?natural.
"Want to head back?" you ask Mokou.
The immortal looks up before nodding. "It hasn't been that long. The play isn't even half over, is it?"
"Yeah. If we fly back now, we could still see the majority of it.."
"Stop!" a commanding voice shouts.
When you look towards the entrance to Eientei you find Reisen stomping towards you. Behind her, other rabbits work to drag their latest catch away.
Reisen puts a hand to her ear while she walks over. You see her mouth move, but can't hear what she's saying or who she's speaking to.
The purple-haired rabbit greets you with a nod and turns to Mokou, her face grim. "I'm glad you're still here, Mokou. You need to go inside to be checked for infection."
"Infection?" you ask.
Reisen shrugs her shoulders. "I'm just relaying what Master told me."
"Well, that's tough. I'm Immortal, remember?" Mokou brusquely ignores the rabbit's orders and motions to you. "Let's head back before they get too far into the performance."
Reisen scowls. "Wait, you can't just-"
"Sorry Reisen, but Eirin can come speak to me herself if it's that important. I have places to be."
"You're just making things harder on-" Reisen cuts off abruptly, her attention drawn to the device on her ear. "I-"
You don't even have the luxury of listening to half a conversation. "Master, that isn't-"
Eirin Yagokoro barely gives her underling a chance to speak. "Yes."
Reisen simply nods occasionally while she listens to whatever her master is telling her. "I understand.."
Once the rabbit takes her hand away from her ear you ask her, "Reisen, what did you mean by infection?"
Those red eyes stare into yours. "You came into contact with one of the specimens too, right? Master says she should check you as well to make sure nothing worrisome has been passed on."
Before you can respond, Mokou steps in front of you. "Sounds like a load of bullshit to me." The immortal's voice is fiery, a far cry from her cheerful mood moments before. "Sorry Reisen, you know I like you and all but this sounds pretty ridiculous. If Eirin were that worried about it she would have had you quarantining people right away and besides, I never noticed some like an infection or illness or anything of the sort that might have tried killing me."
Turning away from Reisen, Mokou pats you on the arm. "Let's hurry and go back. I really hope Keine hasn't worried too much or decided to stop watching the play because something was going on."
Over Mokou's shoulder, you see Reisen furiously whispering before clenching her hand and shouting. "Why are you being difficult? Are you really going to go back to a crowded area filled with normal humans on the word of some undereducated immortal?"
Mokou spins on Reisen. "Hey, I-"
"Haven't seen above a secondary school education is hundreds of years!" The rabbit throws her oversized weapon to the ground. "I'm not trying to be insulting, Mokou, but you're just being obstinate! I've had to deal with everything today and this is just too much! You need to go see Master!"
The white-haired immortal steps to the side, hands in her pockets and looking none too pleased. "Mokou, why don't you want to listen to Reisen?" you question her.
It doesn't take much to get Mokou rambling, almost ranting in tone. "I'm not about to step one foot into that mansion without a good reason to. I don't know much of anything about these creatures or this infection or whatever else but I do know Eirin and Kaguya and everybody else living in that mansion. I've lost count of how many times Eirin has wanted me for something and sent her servants to fetch me. If Reisen isn't pounding away at all the little details and specifics of whatever it is Eirin says she will be testing, then I don't trust what Eirin wants me or you for."
"Because I don't have the time!" Reisen shouts. "I still have to coordinate the recapture of the last few specimens along with all their recontainment and- and- and I've had it up to here with your ignorant stubbornness all based on a hunch of how your immortality works and your prejudice against us!"
You stand between the two women and sigh.
[ ] Listen to Mokou
[ ] Listen to Reisen
[ ] <Write-in>
>>177757 Who cares about plot when there's fluff to be had?
>>177763 >Also - has what happened to our sister been revealed yet?
Depends on what you're referring to as ?happening." Do you mean something like >>172973:
>?Don't worry. it's not as bad as your imagining. I accidentally ate my sister's soul while she was dying and I'm trying to find a way to give her back her life."
Mokou is immortal and laughs in the face of disease, but we're a squishy mortal. It would also afford us an opportunity to sneak around Eintei to try and find the Necronomicon, or evidence of its location.
Also, with the Yoshika repairing: She's adorable and now she's got a rockin' bod, but let's not stick our dick in dead people, okay?
[X] Listen to Reisen.
-[X] After she explains what this 'infection' can do.
Reisen may have been trustworthy up until now, but we shouldn't blindly accept treatment for a 'disease' we don't even know about. Although I think the Lunarians know what they're doing, I'm all for listening to her once we're sure this is for a valid cause, and not some sort of cover-up to hide their shenanigans.
[x] Follow Reisen, but first whisper to Mokou about our suspicions about possible mind-fuckery, then ask her to leave and ask about it afterwards. Tell her that we have an Ace in the hole against such things, and even if that doesn't work, Mokou telling us later would reinforce our suspicion of That being here.
Besides, it could help to have Yoshika get checked up in case there really is something infectious messing with her.
>>177878 [x] Demand to know exactly what is going to be done, and that they won't do anything beyond that without further consent.
That and offer to escort Mokou so no SHADY DRUGS are tried on her. While this may end up with everyone naked, I doubt Mokou or Necroanon will care. They are a bit too screwed up to care. Though Yoshika might take this as a signal to go streaking. ...so, leash the zombie?
>>177893 This is essentially a vote for Mokou. Reisen's already said she doesn't have time for a full explanation of the process because they've got to capture the rest of the saving lives.
If we need an explanation of the process, we ask it of Eirin directly or we simply go with Mokou and hope we don't have Space AIDS.
If what you're saying is true, and all she wants to do is save lives, then she can probably take five minutes to explain what's going on to prevent further loss. If she doesn't want to, and if she just lets Necroanon and Mokou walk out of here without any further precautions, then she clearly didn't have enough reason to make sure we weren't going to do spread some kind of ultraplague. If she slows down, tells us what's up, and explains it like a doctor and-or nurse aught to, then there's less reason to object.
As of now, though, she's being really, really shady. Nevermind that Yoshika has a bizarre arcanobiological organ that keeps her animated and might be interested to poke at, but there's something to be said for the integrity of memories, isn't there?
>>177917 >there's something to be said for the integrity of memories, isn't there?
Personally, I wouldn't judge her much over this specific thing. She knows about it and seems to be perfectly fine with how things are, and isn't trying to convince Necroanon or anyone else that they should do it as well, which is important to take note of. She acknowledges that her way doesn't necessarily have to be everyone else's way and respects their choices, and I feel we should give her that same respect.
>[ ] Listen to Reisen
I'd rather not spread whatever the shoggoths might have given us, especially since we're going to a place where there's over five hundred people.
I don't really trust Eirin, but we should probably take a chance just to be sure. If she does remove our memories (rather than just being expedient and removing us entirely), let's hope that our sister remembers enough to ignite our righteous fury. We trained with paladins, right? Cleave and smite, necroanon. Cleave and smite.
That said, infection by something like this is something you don't toy with, even if it's probably bullshit. And if they just want to wipe our memories, well, we have our sister as insurance against that doing too much damage.
Also, if the Necronomicon is involved here somehow, it's important to follow up on that.
>>177941 >If she does remove our memories
>>177942 >if they just want to wipe our memories
Reisen's laughing at you. Go back and reread >>176752. It takes a "regime of medication and hypnotic therapy" in order to repress traumatic memories with the consent of the patient. It's not like she has a neuralizer or something.
You look back and forth between Mokou and Reisen. While your immortal friend stands there, irate and resolute, the rabbit-in-chief is all kinds of stressed. She yells commands to the other rabbits and pauses only to take rushed breaths and shoot you frustrated glares.
That isn't going to scare you into submission. Super-powered beings might be able to shove you around any day of the week, but you'll be damned if you just roll over for them!
Besides, paranoia notwithstanding, you don't blindly consent to medical procedures.
"Reisen, what do you plan on doing?"
The rabbit girl turns her glare on you and huffs. "I plan on sending you over to Master and heading back out."
Is she purposefully being obtuse or is the stress getting to her? "You said Eirin wants to check us for infection, right? How is she going to do that?"
"Does it matter?" she snaps.
"Yes. Yes it does."
If she tries to give you the runaround then there's no way you'll-
"Chiester!" You jump at Reisen's shout. You look over your shoulder to find a teal-haired lunarian jogging closer. "Where are the other two?"
Ignored just like that. Good job standing up for yourself.
The teal-haired lunarian comes to a rest next you, her long-barreled rifle held loosely at her waist. "They just finished caging zero one two. They'll be back up in one."
"Good. Grab a spare net so we're ready to go when they arrive!" Reisen barks. The lunarian rabbit snaps off a lazy salute before jogging back towards the mansion.
Reisen hollers off another three commands to rabbits in the distance before gracing you with her attention once more. "I don't know exactly what Master plans on doing, but-"
"Ask her, then," you growl. How hard is it to give some reasons or explanations?
"I don't have time-"
"You've got a minute."
You meet Reisen's gaze without hesitation.
it's a three versus one staring match. Mokou is still radiating waves of heat and Yoshika has adopted a rather aggressive posture in-line with your own.
The haggard rabbit youkai gives the three of you one last glower before shouting, "Fine!"
Reisen lowers her head and brings a hand to her ear. "Master, they want to know what- Yes, that?s-"
She's having a tough time of it; monsters on the left, flakey subordinates on the right, a demanding Master above and some stubborn under-educated earthlings in front of her. You don't envy her position in the slightest.
"Right. Right. Understood."
Reisen releases her communicator and begins to speak immediately, words rattling off her tongue. "It'll be a cursory physical examination for signs of mutation on your body, specifically checking for any signs of irregularity in the workings of your vital organs along with any growths elsewhere. Assuming you show no signs of infection, then a quick vaccination for security's sake would be administered. If you do show symptoms of any sort, treatment will essentially be a more intensive vaccination process."
Her explanation comes to a sudden halt, presumably out of words to repeat. "So it's a checkup where needed treatment would be something like?what do outsiders have?something like treatment for rabies."
You try and think over Reisen's words, preparing yourself to ask a few questions, but you don't get the chance. A trio of lunarians, including the teal-haired one from before, draws Reisen's attention. Your purple-haired friend slashes her hand at you once while turning away. "Look, just go see Master, okay? She's in her usual lab! This is for your sake as well!"
The four lunarians hurry away, rushing out of Eientei's main gate.
"Are you dead set on going to see Eirin?" Mokou asks once Reisen is far out of hearing range.
You pause for a moment, collecting your thoughts.
Her explanation sounded?reasonable.
That extensive medical training is really coming back to help you vet Reisen's description.
Oh, wait, you learned how to cut out organs and stitch together flesh, not how to diagnose strange medical afflictions.
"I think it's better to be safe than sorry," you settle on.
"Alright. Fine." Mokou shrugs. The tenseness in her shoulders disappears as she sticks her hands back into her pants pocket. "I wouldn't want you or Yoshika or anybody else to suffer just because I was too confident in my own nature. Which I am confident in, by the way. I might not have a genius alien intellect or extensive schooling or anything but I've had a long time to figure myself out."
The immortal begins to walk towards the mansion, weaving her way through the streams of rabbits.
You give her a questioning glance as you fall in step with her. "You're coming with me, even if you don't trust Eirin?"
She laughs. "Of course I am. You'd be crazy to think that I'll leave her alone with you."
"Is she honestly that dangerous?"
"Yes," Mokou wastes no time in answering. "It might not seem like it at first. Maybe she just regrows that arm or cures that supposedly incurable illness. Maybe she lets your crippled son walk with his own two feet or she lets a previously blind child experience the colors of the world. it's possible that kindness is all you'll see of her. I know plenty of the villagers have a favorable opinion of Eientei because of Eirin's affordable miracles."
Mokou forces open the door the mansion, causing it to bang against the wall as she passes through.
"But those are random humans, people Eirin has no interest in. What if you have something she wants? What if there's something you can do for her? She's calculating and driven. I don't think she's above doing anything to get what she wants. Whether it's an honest business transaction or some late night assassination, I wouldn't be surprised to find her hand in it."
"Has she done anything to warrant this villainous description?"
"Other than kill me repeatedly in new and inventive ways?"
You can hear the strain in Mokou's joking tone. You imagine that the immortal is doing her best to avoid spontaneously combusting and bringing the mansion down with her. "Sorry. it's just, you're making her out to be some kind of evil mastermind. Right now, the most I'm afraid of her trying to sweep these events under the rug.."
No matter how "willing? Reisen's ?mental repression? might be, you aren't reassured about the good doctor's harmless intentions. There were some holes in Reisen's explanations your mind couldn't help but seize upon. Besides, Eirin being capable of altering memories is the first step on the road to mind control.
Pfh, mind control? Really?
It isn't impossible! There hasn't been proof against it.
Or any serious proof for it. Alteration of memories and emotions, along with some muscular control is the most modern wizards are capable of, remember?
That's the most that's been recoded, not the most that's been achieved.
Either way, I think worrying about body snatching is a bit much.
Maybe. At any rate, memory manipulation is the only concrete worry you have and your sister can do something about that, right?
Of course I can. I'll keep our memories close to the chest, no worries.
Luckily, Mokou was thinking to herself during your mental conversation. You listen to her when she begins to speak again. "I get it. Other people haven't known her as long as I have. Of course they wouldn't believe me about-"
"Mokou, please don't be like that. I'm trying to understand the situation." Last thing you need right now is for the immortal's insecurities to drop into a spiral of depression. "Do you have any other evidence than your grudge? Has she duped some villagers or have people gone missing? Do you even know why she has killed you repeatedly?"
"I don't have any evidence for you! Geez! Why doesn't anybody believe me about this? Even when I try to warn Keine nowadays she just smiles at me and changes the subject like I'm some sort of crazy homeless woman ranting about the end of the world!"
Oops. Too far in the other direction. Maybe if you were a bit less confrontational- You just wanted the facts! You didn't mean to draw out her anger. "Mokou-"
"No, stop. Don't pity me or finish that or whatever. I get it. You want hard evidence and I have none. All I have are rumors and suspicions of all sorts of shady dealings, rumors and suspicions that nobody else seems to believe given Eintei's shiny reputation. I get it. I'm paranoid. I'm bitter. I'm just a good for nothing-"
"Now it's your turn to stop," you interrupt her. "You're reading too much into my question. I just want to know what I'm walking into. Objective, substantial information is what I can use to make plans. I can't act solely on emotions when there might be more at stake."
"Because all I have are my wild and crazy emotions, huh? I'm just one giant emotional wreck. Well, sorry I don't have some crazy high IQ that I could use to reason out the hundreds of trivial details that somehow add up into a real conspiracy. This is how it always happens! The super genius aliens always manages to make more sense than some dirty runaway that can't-"
Mokou suddenly stops ranting. The tiny flames that were licking up and down her arms extinguish themselves.
"I'm really tense, aren't I?" she mutters. "I thought I told myself I was going to act more composed like her, but here I am going off?"
You scratch the back of your head, waiting for Mokou to calm herself down. it's remarkable how she can transform from furious to sedate in a few heartbeats. To be fair, I don't think Mokou was that angry. Just a little upset. If she were angrier, the flames would be a roaring.
You suppose that's the nice thing about dealing with superpowered beings. You know you're in real trouble when the fires rages or the cold freezes.
"Okay," Mokou begins, frowning slightly, "here's something concrete I can answer. You asked why Eirin killed me over and over again. First, let me differentiate here. Kaguya and I killed each other countless times because of hate, or jealousy, or rage, or any other emotion. We killed each other far more times than Eirin has ever touched me.
"But, Eirin's efforts stick out in my mind, because they were different. Grinding me up finer than a wood chipper. Flattening me with as massive an iron roller as possible. Letting a few dozen dogs eat their fill. Pumping my body full of magic until it exploded. Pumping my body full of acid until it melted. Drugging me with all sorts of chemical cocktails until my body was shitting itself and my mind was off in the sky.
"Kaguya loved to murder me herself, to revel in the spreading my blood as far as the seas. Eirin didn't. Her killings were calculated and experimental. I asked her once, when she had me strapped to a rack in a sub-zero freezer with fire retardant chemicals constantly spraying the room, why she was killing me in all manners of torturous ways."
Furious to sedate, you can do it too. Don't let Mokou's history get to you.
"She told me she was experimenting," Mokou continues. "She told me she was testing my immortality. It was as simple as that. Her voice wasn't filled with sadistic glee or reluctant guilt. It was business as usual for her. Then she shut the door and let me freeze overnight."
Mokou takes a deep breath and smiles, smiles of all things!
"That's why my opinion of Eirin is so low and why I speculate about all the insane things she might have done to others."
"Mokou?" What can you say to that? It sounds ridiculous, cruel and inhumane. Well, you think darkly, the good doctor isn't quite human. ??Thanks for telling me this."
"Uh-huh," the immortal nods. "Wasn't as bad as I was expecting. And honestly, she hasn't done anything like that in a long while, and it was after most of those deaths I picked up on a new skill or two. Recently, I'd say she's been heavenly to me. Maybe she just ran out of things to try? Or maybe I got too strong for her to bully? Oh, look, Eirin's lab is right through here. Are you ready?"
You don't get it. Minamitsu's verbal jabs or thoughts about Eirin's possible misdeeds make Mokou burn brighter than anything, but actually discussing the deaths barely fazes her?
You don't get it, and it isn't the time to figure it out. "No time like the present."
After making your way here, you still hesitate to walk through that door. Do you really want to see this ?doctor? after hearing all that?
The reason for coming here hasn't changed.
You suppose it hasn't. With one giant sigh, you rap your knuckles against the faux-wooden door.
The metal slides into the wall just like your last visit.
The lab is as science-filled as you remember. The space is cluttered with all manners of racks and shelves, tools and beakers. The devices you recognize are far outnumbered by the ones you don't, all ready to serve some appropriately high-tech role.
Eirin is standing to the side, her distinctive blue and red dress standing out against the whites and greys of the room. She has two measuring tubes in her hands and is intently focused on creating something.
Nonetheless, her mature and clipped voice greets you as soon as you step into the lab. Eirin doesn't even look over her shoulder. "You two are here? Excellent. Sit, please."
You place three of the foldable chairs down in front of Eirin's desk in the center of the room. The desk is just as messy as before, tomes lying open and stacked haphazardly on the desk. Yoshika moves her chair behind yours so that she can lean forward onto your back.
It only takes a minute for Eirin to finish what she is doing and walk over to you. "Doctor Yagokoro, I would like to know-"
"Yes, yes, I shall talk through my procedure. Udongein has already informed me of your quaint predilections." Damn. it's been awhile since you last visited but it hasn't taken any time at all for the doctor to start bugging you. "The physical examination to check for symptoms of infection is highly regular, barely different than a physical that any modern human doctor would conduct."
Eirin presses a device to her hands and rubs some sort of gel over her palms and fingers. Disinfectant, maybe?
"I am specifically looking for delayed reactions that might indicate your biology being affected by any strain of the S-Virus. Do I have your permission to examine your physical being with my hands and various other devices whose purposes are to-"
"Yeah, yeah, fine."
The doctor smirks and gets to work. You shiver when her cold fingers make contact with the skin around your eyes, but you get used to her touch quickly.
It truly isn't any different from a check-up. She looks into your eyes, checks your pulse, feels your lymph nodes, and does all those other doctorly things, some of which require you to tense a muscle or take a breath.
"And what is that? The S-Virus?" you ask while she feels up your arm.
"The S-Virus, currently a working name, is a virus I engineered in order to- Hm. My apologies, I forgot something. Mirai, fetch stethoscope. Now, as I was saying-"
Eirin's words fade into the background when you notice the darkness that enters the room from another set of doors.
You jump to your feet, the foldable chair skidding and squeaking along the floor as it is pushed backwards. You can feel Yoshika roll off your back and fall into a crouch at your side.
"What the hell is that doing in here?" you shout while reaching into your jacket for a bone.
The dog-sized creature slides along the ground, its grey and fleshy mass easily outlined in the bright lab. The beady red eyes of the tentacle monster focus on you. You can imagine it tensing to lunge, ready to sink its teeth in-
"From what I understand, even Earthlings find it rude to unsheathe weapons or light fires while in another's personal lab."
Eirin looks unamused. "If you were capable of avoiding distraction and properly listening to my explanations, than you would have been listening when I told you about the end result of S-Virus exposure."
You pause, watching the tentacle blob slide over to Eirin. The doctor opens her hand onto which the creature deposits one shining metal stethoscope.
You let your magic dissipate and put away your potential weapon. Your companions likewise slowly let down their guards. Yoshika stands, her eyes still narrowed at the creature, while Mokou lets the fires around her die out.
Eirin rubs a hand along one of the grey tentacles. "A rather interesting outcome, I admit. It took several days of tweaking and experimentation to achieve a stable result, but it has been a rather enlightening experience."
Looking at the creature in the artificial light of the lab is disquieting. The greyish mass is smooth, reminding you of the skin of a squid. Yet, it also flows, occasionally deforming like smooth clay. Tiny tentacles form out of those deformations before retracting and smoothing out into the mass once more.
On this specific creature there is only one cluster of tiny red beads and a singular mouth, but you don't doubt its ability to spontaneously grow more. Once Eirin lets go of the creature's tentacle, the appendage shrinks down and disappears.
The single lump of grey mass loses almost all of its features. Even the teeth disappear behind a screen of flesh, leaving the amorphous blob staring up at you with only its cluster of red eyes- are they growing larger?
I have to say- Don't say it's adorable. Or cute. Or precious.
But it's a big ball of grey dough! Of the kind that eats your friends.
"You're checking to make sure we don't turn into one of those?" you ask Eirin.
"Correct, although I doubt you would take such a form. From my observations, I hypothesize that your skeleton would weaken to the point where shattered bones would puncture vital organs before any useful transformative process could be completed." Once you reclaim your seat, Eirin continues with her checkup by listening to your lungs.
The dog-sized creature doesn't leave the room, instead electing to wait in the shadows under the desk. It certainly looks more sinister under there.
"I must admit, this examination may be moot given that the infected cells I have observed do not produce any more viral particles."
"Then, you're checking us because??"
"Because there is no point in being careless about this. Perhaps mutations have occurred in the host bodies or perhaps I missed something, as unlikely as that is. I doubt you wish to be reduced to a soupy mess or cause others to befall such a fate."
"Hosts?" you ask, once more glancing down at the creature under the table.
"Rabbits." Eirin tells you without hesitation. "Another interesting side effect of infection, beyond the very useful structural changes to the host's body, is the seemingly increased capacity for intelligence. It is difficult to say whether this is the rabbits? training elevated to another level or some variant stage in the youkaization of a natural animal; it's another matter to study in the future."
Eirin straightens up and grabs a clipboard from her desk. She writes something down on a piece of paper and lets it fall to the ground.
The creature scoots out from the shadow and picks the paper up, tentacles carefully wrapping around the single leaf. Then it slides off, out through the lab door.
"At the very least, it turns the skittish and next to useless creatures into efficient laboratory aides. You appear to be fine. Next?"
You direct Eirin towards Yoshika. The undead girl straightens up in her seat.
"You made them, then? These specimens that were rampaging around outside?"
"Correct. The most recent incident was instigated by less stable strains of the S-Virus and their hosts. I believe I have worked out the kinks in those regards."
Rabbits. Those creatures are simply infected rabbits.
Yet, when it was flinging itself through the bamboo forest, night obscuring it's true form, you could have sworn it was-
But that can't be. As much as you hope and don't hope it to be true, it can't be right. The descriptions you've read and heard of cite the creatures as monstrous, large abominations whose maddened gibbering can terrify the bravest of adventurers. In the brightness of the lab, you didn't have those feelings in the slightest.
You suspect. You're suspicious. But, glancing over the books on the table, nothing is readily apparent.
Maybe if you just looked?
No. You stop yourself from using your mage sight, from investigating anything more closely. Instead, you settle on a question. "What, uh, caused you to develop this S-Virus?"
"The drive from being gifted with natural born talent and a superior lineage in all things scientific.."
What? Is she-"
"A joke," Eirin assures you, another tiny smirk on her face. "The idea came to me while pursuing a different research project. This tangent has proven to be both an unexpected hassle and boon."
After a few more seconds of fondling Yoshika, Eirin stops. "This was one of the disowned jiang-shi that had been recently wandering the wilderness, is it not?"
"Interesting. I would be very interested in examining-"
"You're not going to cut up Yoshika for scientific interest."
Eirin rolls her eyes. "Very well. A living corpse is still a corpse; you're fine." Then the doctor turns towards the third person sitting in the chair. "Now for you."
Mokou stands up and removes a single hand from her pocket. "Touch me and I burn down this lab, Eirin."
Eirin seems unsurprised by Mokou's combativeness. "As interested as I am in testing the newest fire protection devices I installed in my lab, that won't be necessary. I expect that this virus will have difficulties with your physiology just as all others have."
The silver-haired lunarian goes over to a table, lifting a hemispherical dome up and removing a cup from underneath it. She walks back over with the greenish concoction in hand.
"Now, I ask that you drink this."
"No," Mokou says.
Eirin's eyes narrow. "Why even deign to show up here if you will refuse everything I suggest?"
"Because I'm making sure you don't try anything. it's taking all my patience to not do anything else."
She's been on edge this entire time, hasn't she?
She's definitely been doing her best to remain quiet.
"What is that?" you ask.
"Think of it like a vaccination. I don't care to explain in detail how it works, but the end result is that any traces of the S-Virus in her body would be terminated and guaranteed not to spread if she drinks it."
"Bullshit," Mokou immediately shouts. "We both know any little virus isn't going to affect me. Why would I need that?"
"I believe that the virus will not spread from other hosts because of the transformative process they undergo. But, as I said before, there is no reason to take unnecessary risks in this type of situation." Eirin sets the cup down on the edge of her desk. "Further, your immortal body throws additional variables into the situation, not least of which is caused by your refusal of an examination. Does the virus try to infect you and fail, dying in the process? Does it succeed, but any symptoms are overridden by your physiology? Is your body only resistant, thus causing the virus to lie dormant until it may infect another? You would be fine, perhaps, but what of others? If there is any trace of the virus on you, it is best to neutralize it."
Mokou isn't shaken. "I'm not drinking that."
She's paranoid. Understandably so, perhaps, but all you know is that you came here to avoid spreading any danger to everybody else.
"If she won't drink it, then I will," you announce, reaching for the cup.
Eirin plucks the concoction from the desk. "No you will not."
"Why not?" you demand.
"I prepared this mixture with Fujiwara no Mokou's unique physiology in mind. I started preparing a different mixture once I was informed of your presence. It should be finished any minute. Will you follow me?"
You stare at the doctor for a few seconds before taking a step towards her. Smiling, the doctor leads you and Yoshika through the set of doors that her specimen-aide originally came out of.
Mokou tries to follow you, but Eirin blocks their path. "Patients only."
Flames alight in Mokou's eyes. "Don't you think you can-"
"Mokou, please," you say.
She holds your gaze a few seconds before shaking her head. "I'll come get you if it takes too long."
The next room of the lab is similar to the front. Burners are running, boxes are whirring, and who knows what else is happening in here. There are another set of doors further on, leading to who knows how many more rooms.
There are far too many unknowns in this mansion for your liking.
Eirin stops next to one graduated cylinder that is filled with a light blue liquid. She grabs some sort of measure from the table and sticks into the tube before nodding. "Two minutes longer," she tells you.
"Why is it a drink if it's a vaccine?" you ask.
The lunarian gives you a look, the kind that is tinged with her superiority. "It is not a simple Earth vaccine. Simply hoping that one's body can adapt to the virus and fight is in poor form. What I have produced takes a more active influence within the body."
You thought the conversation would end there and you would simply wait in silence, but that isn't the case. Eirin takes a step closer to you and lets her voice drop to a whisper. "I know how little Mokou trusts me. If you have some way to convince her to drink this, I would be in your debt."
"Why? Why not force her to drink it?" you ask. Not that you're suggesting the idea, but that kind of action sounds in line with Mokou's description of her.
"If that were the simplest solution, I would," she admits. "However, I was not lying when I said I wished to avoid any undue fires. I am far too underprepared at the moment to force Mokou to do anything against her wishes."
You stop when the doors to the room crash open.
Mokou strides through the doorway, a light heat rolling off her form. She reaches you and yanks on your arm. "Don't whisper to him."
Eirin glares at the other immortal but otherwise says nothing.
"A minute is too long?" you ask the woman gripping your arm. At least Mokou has the decency to look somewhat embarrassed. Staying here must really make her nervous.
"I think so," she answers. "I feel like we're done here and there's no reason to stick around. You're fine. Yoshika's fine. I'm fine. We can head back now, can't we?" Mokou asks you, her tone containing a hint of pleading.
[ ] To the play!
[ ] Wait around for Eirin's concoction
[ ] Convince Mokou to drink
-[ ] Ask for a personal favor
-[ ] Villagers at risk
-[ ] Play off her doubts
-[ ] Bribe her
[ ] Confront Eirin about?
-[ ] Mokou's past
-[ ] Rabbits? future
-[ ] The Necronomicon
[ ] Ask some questions
-[ ] <Who> about <What>
[ ] <Write-in>
>>177911 >she has a gun
Multiple guns, if we want to be correct.
>>177927 >Hippocratic Oath
Oh, it's definitely a thing. The healthcare professionals swear by it.
What's there to be paranoid about? I thought this story was about charming waifus!
I don't trust Eirin, and I don't trust what she's trying to give Mokou. For all I know, she's trying to pump Mokou full of the virus, or whatever, just to see what will happen. Let's get the fuck out of here.
[x] Convince Mokou to Drink
-[x] You've survived being melted from the inside out, frozen and worse! This can't possibly ever hurt you.
--[x] Actually, if that drink isn't OK, have Eirin make a copy of the one she made for you, because it took her like five minutes and it probably also won't kill a Mokou.
>"I might not have a genius alien intellect or extensive schooling or anything but I've had a long time to figure myself out."
If Mokou says she's fine, then she's fine.
As for us, based on what Eirin's already said, we'd be fine. It would be nice to become permanently immune to the thing (as it's implied the vaccine will do); but, frankly, this is already an Incident, and we'd be better off just quietly and pointedly informing Reimu of what's happened.
[x] To the play!
- [x] If Eirin objects further, point out that it's her own damn fault that she's lost all credibility.
[X] Convince Mokou to drink
-[X] Have Erin drink some first
Erin is also a Hourai immortal, so she can't give objections based on "differing physiology". Mokou needs to drink it because if the monster earlier was an infected rabbit, how powerful would an infected Mokou be? I don't want to find out.
I've got a question. Based on how I read things, does Tewi know that the Shoggoth are rabbits that got experimented on? Because if she doesn't know, maybe we should go ahead and tell her that Eirin turned on them into that.
Regarding shoggoths, weren't they created by the Elder Things as a slave race? Since the Necromonicon is real, that means many of the Lovecraft aliens and beings are around. I wonder if the Lunarians have had possibly encounters with such beings before?
This is a canon response to a question about how she feels when her 'family' is eaten regularly.
"They're ordinary, helpless rabbits. Humans are gluttonous pigs who'll eat anything, so I guess it's simply unavoidable that a few will get eaten. If they want humans to stop eating them, they'll have to look a lot more charming. You can't eat something cute, right?"
In this story, I think Tewi would be a little disturbed to learn that this is happening to her fellow rabbits, but in the end... they're just rabbits, after all.
[X] To the play!
This is a woman who has no qualms about mutating her assistants into twisted creatures or torturing a woman for the sake of easing her own curiousity. Don't trust a damned thing she says.
[X] Wait around for Eirin's concoction
[X] Confront Eirin about?
[x]Fucking about with Elder Thing hypertech
We should get ourselves vaccinated, but I don't think we're going to get Mokou to drink it, and there's no point in burning capital trying.
That being said, Eirin really <i>hasn't</i> done much yet. There's paranoia and suspicions - same as Mokou has - and there's her being rather monstrous... to someone who repeatedly kills her student on a regular basis.
I don't think we have much to fear from her, but I also don't think we're going to get Mokou to go along with it.
You glance between the two immortals once more, weighing the options in your mind.
After a second, you shake your head and take a step towards Mokou. You would hate to be the reason an entire village of humans turns into grey ooze monsters, but there's not enough doubt to overcome your distaste and paranoia of this entire situation. Mokou's distrust weighs heavily on your mind.
"Yeah, let's go back, Mokou."
The white-haired immortal smiles, perhaps the first one she's had since walking into the lab.
Eirin, in contrast, doesn't bother to hide the annoyed grimace growing larger on her face. "You would leave now instead of waiting two more minutes for this medication to be completed?" she asks.
"That's right," you answer back immediately. You look the lunarian in the eyes, unrepentant in your decision. "You said yourself how little of a chance there is for anything to spread. Frankly, covering that miniscule chance isn't important enough when I don't trust you."
"Don't trust me?" Eirin echoes. "You would risk endangering your peers and compatriots because you dislike me? Because you disagree with my methods of operation? You would let some irrational fear of me propagated by a thief of a girl control you and cloud your already questionable judgment?"
You watch the doctor cross her arms, her flesh deforming under the tight grip of her fingers.
You almost want to laugh. Sure, she's getting angry and sure, she could probably mop the floor with you, but someone as smart as her can't be this stupid, can she? "Because you're doing a hell of a job convincing me otherwise, right?"
"Unbelievable," she snaps back. "I cannot understand how you would find her credible at all, especially in a situation such as this. Her, the girl who let her own vices and familial shame fester to the point she became fixated on murdering an innocent woman due to her irrational projection of blame!"
This bitch. "You-? Stop. Stop stop stop!
Your fist clenches involuntarily, the dripping of dark green mana from your fingers ceasing abruptly.
I swear, your preservation instincts are usually better than this. You see Mokou looking to burn Eirin for her insults?
You glance to the side. Mokou is watching the situation stonily, fingers gripping edges of her pockets. No? Then drop your righteous anger and bow out.
You grit your teeth, willing more polite words to issue from your throat. "Somehow, all your insults still haven't convinced me.."
Polite? it's the most you can muster.
"That you take offense to the truth is not my concern. I can see that further conversation is pointless." Eirin shakes her head and turns her back to you. "Humans. What ridiculously emotional creatures."
You watch the lunarian pick up the cylinder full of bluish liquid, put and stopper in it, and toss it through the air. It falls through a hole in the top of a featureless grey box and-
You feel the heat rush out of that hole, even from a distance. An incinerator?
"I trust you both know the way out. Do not worry yourselves over payment; the examinations were complimentary," she tells you over her shoulder before walking away towards another part of the lab.
This bitch is- Let her have the last jab. This isn't worth it.
You interlink your arm with Yoshika?s, the undead girl quickly settling back into her customary position with a delighted sigh. The normalcy of the action helps to calm you down, letting you turn around and not-quite stomp out of the lab. Mokou slowly follows behind you, constantly glancing over her shoulder to look at Eirin.
You've had enough of that woman. Twice now you've left her lab steaming. Hopefully whatever strange, bubbling liquid she's currently working with explodes in her face. You won't be around to see either way.
The exit door to the entirety of Eirin's lab opens right when you reach it. You stop and stare down at the grey blob at your feet. It stares back up at you, large red eyes slightly slanted at the tops.
It wiggles a bit, shifting from side to side.
You're kind of standing in the doorway.
You take a step to the side and the grey blob scoots past you, sliding back into the shadows of the central table.
You hate this place.
"Hey, are you okay?" Mokou asks once the three of you are out and into the hall.
"You're asking me that? How about you?"
"I'm used to it," she replies. A few mean words aren't much compared to death, you suppose.
"Not exactly the happiest way to end this, but we did what we came out here to. I think if we hurry, we should be able to catch the entire last act.."
"Better than nothing, right?" Mokou smiles, a bit of spring returning to her step. "I hope Keine has been enjoying the play instead of worrying about me. She was really excited to hear more about this history in detail and-"
Before you can turn a corner, a voice rings out behind you. "Ah, Mokou!"
The three of you spin in place, looking back in the direction of Eirin's lab. At the other end of the hall is a woman.
"Kaguya," Mokou greets.
A real-life princess. The woman at the other end of the hall quickly approaches without looking hurried at all. It almost seems like she's gliding; her steps are invisible behind her long, flowing burgundy skirt and her posture remains perfectly upright. Not even the strands of her black hair dare move out of place as she grows closer.
Kaguya Houraisan, Lunarian princess, Master of Eientei. She isn't tall but she's not short either. Unthreatening in stature yet so obviously powerful - the way she holds herself can only be called majestic. Her dark brown eyes glitter, a miniature galaxy twinkling in them. You can feel the innocent curiosity behind those eyes, judging and questioning you. it's too much. You look away, unable to live up to the expectation in them. Yet, looking elsewhere only forces you to admire everything else about her. Her skin is smooth, flawless, the slightly unnatural paleness the perfect shade of captivating instead of off-putting. Powdered snow, freshly fallen and undisturbed doesn't hold a candle to the smoothness of her skin. Her attire, likewise, is leagues above your own. The plain black shirt on your back is wrinkled, sweaty, untailored, unworthy of being compared to hers. The blouse is uncreased but doesn't look stiff as if fresh from dry cleaning. No, it somehow appears well-worn and well-loved but- but-
But you're not a fashion designer, no matter how much knowledge of clothes your sister has tried to impart to you.
You jolt in place, as if snapping awake from a spell. The princess standing before you giggles, even though your antics are far below fitting for a woman of her beauty. You would have to say that-
-that you shouldn't get so distracted again.
it's strange. Your sister usually stops you before you go overboard.
You can feel your sister's presence, her mind, in your body. She hasn't jumped ship.
Huh. This might be bad. Has something happened to her?
Usually it's your sister intruding on your mind, but if you concentrate then you are able to glimpse-
-eyes like chocolate and the way that her hair is cut, framing those elegant curves of her face that seem to stretch on farther than the ocean-
You're feeling more coherent now, definitely enough to pay attention to the conversation that started up during your daze.
"-all really quite thrilling," Kaguya says, her voice as light as the air and as-
The lunarian princess is now standing only a few feet away, arms held together underneath her chest while she speaks to Mokou. The white-haired immortal is standing a bit straighter than usual but is still has her hands in her pockets.
Not exactly what you expected from two people that have supposedly killed each other countless times.
"Someone is in a peppy mood," Mokou notes.
"I cannot help it," the princess giggles and raises a sleeve to cover her mouth. "Having missed the festivities in the village, the excitement here has been most welcome."
"it's not like your rabbits are partying, Kaguya."
"Oh, indeed not. I understand and appreciate the hard work they are displaying. Once this affair is settled, I must most certainly pass on the enjoyment they have earned."
"There is-" Mokous is interrupted by the door to Eirin's lab slamming open.
Behind the princess, you see the silver-haired immortal poke her head out into the hall.
After you blink, Eirin is suddenly standing in the hall, advancing towards you all. "Step away from the Princess, immediately. Do not touch her."
Eirin pulls something out from behind her, what looks like a metal bar.
She holds it in her right arm which she extends out from her body, perfectly straight. Her left arm is bent at an angle, as if she's-
The wave of energy pushes you back a step. You flinch, the bright light forcing your eyes to squint.
Yoshika's hold on your arm tightens a fraction of a second before you get yanked downwards, pulled low by the undead girl. At the same time, Mokou takes a half-step in front of you with one arm extended to the side. It isn't enough to block your vision of the burning energy held in Eirin's hands.
The device extended outwards, unfolding into a bow as tall as its wielder. The slim metal frame is bent backwards in a perfect curve, the entire weapon awash with blue light. That pulsating energy casts Eirin in an ominous light, more terrifying than any camper holding a flashlight under their chin.
Your eyes are naturally drawn to the tip of the strung arrow, the focal point of the energy.
You can feel your legs shaking. Your eyes hurt when looking at it.
A miniature sun is pointed in your direction.
After all your misadventures, there's no doubt in your mind.
Your life is over the instant that arrow is loosened.
It feels like the entire world has already been blown away. You're an insignificant ant, a boot poised above your head.
"Eirin?" The princess? confused voice cuts through the tension. "What is the matter? It is quite unsightly to-"
"Please, do not draw close to me either, Princess."
"Oh, of course. As you wish." The black-haired lunarian immediately shifts, walking towards the side of the hall instead of towards Eirin.
There's nothing you can do. Your mind tears through its bag of tricks, frantically searching for the spell that can save you.
There is none.
The hall is too narrow, the territory too unknown. You can't get away. Death. Failure. Oblivion. it's an inevitable-
Soft fingers, unable to callous, brush against your face.
No. it's not inevitable. Stupid of you to freeze up like that. The situation is surprising, but not nearly as dire as you panicked it into being.
You, Mokou, and Yoshika edge backwards, each step slow and deliberate.
Once your backs hit the wall at the end of the hall the death-heralding arrow is lowered.
The source powering that brilliant blue cuts off. Eirin wastes no time in redirecting her attention to the beautiful woman nearby. "My apologies, Princess. I did not mean to-"
"It is quite alright. There was some danger, yes? Please, explain it to me."
The two lunarians turn and head into Eirin's lab, Kaguya several steps behind her servant. "Right away. If you will give me a moment to finish?"
Their voices, already quiet and difficult to hear from as far away as you are, disappear completely.
Just like that, the danger passes.
Before you realize it you're outside and flying up, out of the Bamboo Forest of the Lost and back towards the village.
You blink, confused at how your surroundings changed in an instant.
Your body is still strung tighter than the Gordian Knot.
Something like that.
"What the hell was that?" You ask once you find your voice. "With the bow? I saw that energy draw and I thought we were going to die."
Mokou nods, her voice not nearly as shaky as your own. "That's why we left. I would be fine afterwards, but you? I'd be surprised if there was anything left."
"That definitely ranks up there in the scariest moments of my life." You look down at your right hand and grab it with your left, trying to stall the jitters. "And we were having such a pleasant conversation with the good doctor beforehand, too."
Mokou shrugs. "I'm not surprised. You won't find Eirin messing around when it comes to Kaguya. Serving her is like Eirin's only real purpose in life."
"Funny how torturing and experimenting on other people fits into it all."
Your immortal companion doesn't respond. Crap, did you mess up by saying the wrong thing? "Mokou?"
"-I might have messed up some."
"What do you mean?"
"I think my words influenced you more than they should have. I was feeling a bit antsy with everything, from dying a whole bunch to you being you and well, I think I cautioned you against Eirin too much. Not that I regret it, but, well, despite what she's done to me, it's not like she's some epitome of evil. On a good day, she might cook Kaguya and me some very tasty snacks while we play a game of shogi or she might pay me for helping to clear out parts of the forest or-" Mokou dips in the air and stops mid-ramble. "Uh, what I'm trying to say is, she wasn't really wrong. I'm really not the smartest and I have made plenty of very stupid, irrational decisions. I did some really not nice things and now, I'm not even really human anymore so there's no reason to value my word over-"
"Enough, Mokou." Thankfully, Mokou stops her self-deprecating spiral in order to cede the floor to you.
"I don't know everything about your past and I don't need to. I know the person flying here next to me and I trust her judgment." You give her as confident a smile as you can muster. "I'm grateful to have a good friend like you who was willing to stay with me despite how uncomfortable you were."
"Well, you know, it's not like it was anything that special. I mean, it's what friends do, right? Right? Er, maybe not that extreme? I haven't had too many friends but I think we are so I was just trying to do right and?"
You tune out Mokou's stumbling and concentrate your thoughts.
Well, that was an experience.
That's one word to describe it. Finally back in a good headspace?
You think so. The jitters are gone and your heart seems to be beating normally.
Good. All's well that ends well.
Except that's not particularly true. You have a feeling this is going to bring about more headaches in the future.
Actually, the headaches might start now. After all, there's one question lingering on your mind.
Does Eirin have the Necronomicon?
It would make sense, in a way. If she was experimenting with a virus that turned simple rabbits into facsimiles of unearthly creatures, she needed some sort of inspiration. If she planned out her experiments based on imagination then she's far more twisted than you currently believe.
No, it's more likely she was inspired by a description. What better description is there than from the journal of a madman who researched all manners of inhuman horrors?
If she truly does have the tome, then you could- Not get your hopes up.
You aren't hoping, you're planning. You need to plan. If she really does have it then- Then we can consider it. But we don't know. You're just assuming- The evidence is all here!
it's damning! What else could this incident mean? Now that you have time to stop and think, you can feel it again. You can feel how close you are after years of searching!
And how many times have you felt this close? How many times have you been devastated when all we've come across are scraps of long-ruined parchment?
This isn't the same! You know the entire book is here in Gensokyo.
You had called a break on the search because you were out of clues, but this? This is more than a single, little, clue!
You think you know it's here, based on a piece of paper and a single name. What if Kosuzu's book was a knock-off, a bog-standard piece of fiction named after a rumor?
Then it's still a lead, the only one you have at the moment.
You've spent weeks investigating rumors far less believable than this.
You were worrying about other business, other people during this whole incident, but it's over. Now, you can proceed to focus on your goal without distractions.
That doesn't mean you need to start obsessing about it. You can just ignore- Ignore? You can't ignore this!
Think. What have you been doing? You've been letting yourself go for no reason. You should have been preparing for a moment like this, for a breakthrough like this. Your supplies should be full and they're not, your jiang-shi should be fully outfitted but they're not. You should have this entire pocket realm mapped out and all the major players diagramed and their powers catalogued and- Enough!
Stop, would you? You're making it sound like the last couple of weeks have been worthless.
Haven't they? In the grand scheme of things, you've been left woefully underprepared to capitalize on this information. You should never have been caught by Eirin like that, completely helpless to even run away if she had chosen to prevent it.
Instead of preparing, you've been figuring out how to better apply makeup and fake a severed arm for a stage. it's all been a waste.
Do you really think that?
Has getting to know Byakuren, Mokou, Yoshika, and all the others been worthless? Do you regret gossiping with Ichirin or sparring with Shou? Do all these experiences you've had mean nothing?
Bro, you're not in the best state of mind right now. You're on an adrenaline high and are not thinking clearly. This isn't the time to plan or prepare.
Then when is the time? If you need to storm Eientei, you should plan for it while the trip is fresh in your mind-
it's not like we can pull the images out of your memory or anything, right? Wouldn't it make more sense to wait until we're both calmer and more analytical?
Face it Bro. Even if you're feeling better compared to when you were staring at your potential death, you're still hyped up. Right now, I think you need to relax. I think you need to give time for everything to settle.
You don't like leaving the matter alone.
I know you don't. I know it's tough after realizing how close we might be, but please, let the Necronomicon go for now. Not permanently, but just a little while longer.
Let it lie for a day. A night, even. Worry about it tomorrow, after you've had at least a few more hours of rest.
The three of you coast down to the ground, off to the side of the outdoor stage. A few of the temple residents running the concession stalls give you a friendly wave as you walk past.
The play is going strong and the seats are full with an attentive audience. Thank goodness, your efforts weren't in vain.
You give Mokou a pat on the shoulder and point out Keine who is still sitting where you left her, the seat next to her open and waiting. Mokou mouths a ?thanks? to you before scurrying off to be with her friend.
Now for your seat. Luckily, the front and left seats were reserved specifically for the members of the play and other Myouren Temple affiliates. As such, it's easy enough to find a pair of seats for you and Yoshika to squeeze into.
"You need to relax, Myouren." The words send chills down your spine. It sounds as if Byakuren is whispering the words directly in your ears thanks to Alice's magical speakers. "Even we can afford that now, can we not?"
On stage, the two Hijiri's sit together in their room. In real life their home was a small, quaint building on the edge of the city, the minimalist aesthetic easily carried into theatre sets.
Kaoru, no, Myouren sits relaxed at a table. The young man looks similar to his sister. They both have that gradient-colored hair and the same styled black and white robes. By this point in time, the man known as Myouren was in his prime, following his own ideals instead of those of his former monastery.
In reality, Myouren did not have those feline features of a youkai, exaggerated by artful application of make-up, but this is a play with subtle messages spread throughout.
Byakuren sits behind him and massages his shoulders while they talk.
"We must not grow lax in our vigilance. We cannot know when the next incident will require attention." Myouren delivers his warnings with utmost sincerity, until he flinches in pain. "Ow."
Byakuren digs her fingers into his shoulders another few seconds before relenting and returning to the smoother, loving motions. "You, Little Brother, have dealt with everything. There is nothing left to cause an incident."
"That is not a fact-"
"Yes it is," Byakuren cuts her brother off, her voice taking on a sterner air. "We have personally seen to every youkai in the region. You cannot deny that. We have scoured the desolated battlefields of any vampire trees, persuaded the kappa to move further upriver, sent off the nothing women, and even pruned that particularly aggressive kudzu which was oh so clearly supernatural in origin."
Myouren's face reddens ever so slightly. "The villagers were quite distraught-"
"Indeed, so we dealt with it just as you wanted." Byakuren shakes her brother forward and back before sighing. "Now, Myouren, is it too much to ask for you to relax?"
"But what? What else could you possibly wish to resolve? Any dispute between youkai and human has been settled."
"That is not true everywhere. Elsewhere, conflict still exists-"
"Of course it does. And it will. You are only one person, Myouren."
"There is yet more I can do, Sister. I know it. I-"
"Yes, yes. Our family was blessed with a dreamer, wasn't it?" Byakuren slumps forward, throwing her arms around her brother's shoulders. She rests her cheek on his shoulder and idly traces a finger across his chest.
You don't think Myouren's stiffening is acting.
"Hm? Is there something wrong, Myouren?"
Byakuren raises a lock of her hair and brushes it against Myouren's neck. "Is my dear brother repulsed by my touch?"
"Of course not!"
"Ah, then your time in the monastery has made you unaccustomed to affection?"
"Mmm. Worry not. As a woman, I know all the right ways to-"
She laughs, the rich sound infecting many of the audience as well. "No need to be so flustered, Myouren. I am just your sister, after all."
You imagine the laughter on her part is genuine. She has the chance to be herself instead of the reserved nun most of Gensokyo knows her as. Acting lets her play it off as a youth long past, but you know she enjoys the lack of restriction on her behavior.
Myouren buries his face in his hands, unable to hide the blush that has reached his ears. "Only my sister would act as childish as this at such an age."
"Are you calling me old? Besides, I think the childish one here would be you."
"That is absurd. I-" The siblings? banter is interrupted by the rapping of knuckles on wood. Immediately, the two Hijiri's straighten up, the subtle glow of Buddhist energy enshrouding them.
"It is rather late," Myouren notes, the caution in his voice evident.
"Indeed. I shall greet our rather discourteous guest."
Byakuren exits stage left, quickly returning with an older gentleman in tow.
The man looks to be nearing thirty yet still cuts an intimidating figure. He isn't muscular enough to be particularly threatening in his multi-layered robe, but his eyes are laser focused on his surroundings. He is a man that would be quite familiar to those that had watched the entire play, a man that gave the Hijiri siblings as much trouble as help in prior acts.
Myouren rises to his feet immediately, a look of concern marring his features. "Magistrate, is something wrong?"
The older man chuckles and waves Myouren down. "Ease yourself Sir. This is no midnight distress visit, I'm happy to say."
"Would you like some tea, Magistrate?" Byakuren asks politely.
"No, no, I do not intend to impose upon you for long. I wanted to come and personally give you two my thanks." The man sets an earthen bottle, a beautifully green-glazed piece, onto the table. "When I was first charged with bringing an end to the youkai threats around our city, I had thought the task simple. Even after expanding the office and gaining more funds, more manpower, it proved to be a more hazardous affair than I reckoned. It shames me that we required your help at all."
"Please, Magistrate, do not undercut your efforts. Your men have provided vital support in our endeavors."
it's a shame you missed the fights, the negotiations and the wordplay. Byakuren didn't need to embellish the tale of Myouren's accomplishments in order to make a more riveting performance. Compared to the display of martial prowess and quick wits of Myouren, the lowly officials and soldiers did little more than ferry supplies and cleanup after the Hijiri Storm blew through.
"And thanks to everybody's work, tomorrow I find myself in the position of handing in my final report. There is no doubt they will judge my task finished after reading it. After working for years, I never expected my task to finally end." The magistrate lets a thin smile form on his face before schooling his features back to neutrality. "Look at me, rambling. Let me cut to the point. I wish to give you two this, a small token of my thanks.."
He gestures towards the bottle sitting on the table.
"I thank you for your generosity, Magistrate, but we do not-"
"It is the highest quality tea, chilled and sweetened. It may seem strange and without ceremony, but it comes to me highly recommended." The man leans slightly closer, his voice dropping into a knowing tone. "Perhaps you might pretend it is a fine sake? I know you have that strange disinclination."
Myouren bows, his figure the picture of modesty. "Thank you, Magistrate. Your thoughtfulness is admirable."
"It would be hard to do my job if I wasn't. Enjoy your night, Sir, Madam." After one last exchange of bowing, the magistrate exits the Hijiri home.
It takes barely time at all for the shining green bottle to be picked up. "Byakuren, what are you doing?" Myouren asks.
"Pouring our gift. What does it look like?" A plain pair of tea cups are set on the table and filled with the light orange liquid. "Here you go."
The monk glances down at the cup and frowns. "Drinking this immediately prior to sleep, after an exhausting day of travel, seems unwise."
"Who's going to sleep?" Byakuren chuckles and lifts her teacup in the air. "It is time to celebrate! Surely, this last day of work was not so taxing as to tucker you out?"
"Sister, we cannot simply disregard proper behavior."
The audience chuckles as Byakuren lifts the cup above her head, throwing back the drink without a care. "I think we've established that neither of us are children, Myouren! We have no bedtime. Mmm, delicious."
"More like we are both children?" Despite the man's protests, he takes a sip from his cup while Byakuren pours herself more. "Ah, this is surprisingly tasteful."
"It is, isn't it?" The two siblings sit on the floor together, Byakuren leaning her back against her brother's shoulder. "Isn't this nice, Myouren? How long has it been since we were able to sit for a night, unconcerned about tomorrow's goal?"
"I am still concerned-"
"Of course you are. I just wish you would worry less." A single slim finger covers Myouren's lips just as they begin to part. "I know, I know, you cannot. That is why I am happy to sit here with you, now."
The two siblings sit together in their home, sipping tea. There are no further words between them while they drink. The scene is held for a minute, then two. Compared to the fast-paced, action-filled and special-effect blasting performance from earlier, the snug comfort on stage is uncomfortably intimate for the viewer. It makes you feel voyeuristic.
Byakuren slowly droops, leaning more and more on her brother until she's laying down, head resting on her brother's thigh.
She appears to be sleeping, content with the world. Myouren too has his eyes closed, his grip on his teacup loose.
The two siblings are the picture of peace.
Then he twitches.
His eyes snap open.
He opens his mouth, closes it, and opens it again. "Sister, do you feel?"
Myouren places a hand on Byakuren's shoulder and gives her a shake. "Sister?"
"Hmrmm?" The nun drawls, lethargically trying to bat away her brother's hold, only to miss and let her limb fall to the wooden floor.
Myouren raises a hand, his fingers slowly curling and uncurling in front of his eyes.
The stage lighting dims and grows hazy. It looks as if it pulses, throbs of magical energy unnoticed by the untrained audience leaving only a disorientating lens for them to peer through.
?A-Ah?" Myouren whispers, his breath heavy and stilted.
He moves, trying to rise to his feet, but fails. He slips and catches himself with his hands before accidentally crashing into his sister who is lying, unmoving, on the floor.
"T-This is-" Words stop when Myouren gasps for breath. He struggles to pull himself upright. With jerky, hurried movements he places a hand on his sister's chest and fingers at her neck. They barely move at all. When they do, it isn't to the smooth cadence of breathing but to the quick jerks of muted gasps.
He begins to mutter, words slurred and unclear. There is no rhythm to his chanting, no thrum of mystical power building up that was displayed in the previous portions of the play.
The glow of magic is barely visible around his form. The light aura trickles down and towards his hands, but it is no more than a dimming flashlight.
"Please?" he whispers.
Soon, even his desperate words quiet. Without any background music, the only sound heard from the stage is belabored breaths.
Then only the nervous shifting of the audience can be heard.
The two Hijiri siblings seem frozen in time, one bent over the other, his face a mask of dismay.
Time begins again with a tipping. The domino is touched, ever so lightly, and falls.
The thud of Myouren hitting the floor sets off the chain reaction. Byakuren jerks in place with a fit of horrid coughing and spasms.
Eventually, she rolls to lay on her front and then flails like a newborn, limbs barely responding to the orders given. That dry, deep hacking signals the return of breath, precious air to her lungs.
"My head?" Byakuren groans, as if waking up after a terrible hangover. She massages her eyes and then opens them, to find her precious- "Myouren!"
In a reversal of fate, Byakuren quickly leans over brother and shakes him. "Myouren!"
With only a twitch of the eyes and slight curl of the lips as response, Byakuren reaches down and runs her hands across her brother's body. "P-Poison?" she tells herself.
The confusion lasts only a moment before determination sets in, the familiar glow of Buddhist magic enveloping Byakuren.
After but a few seconds of concentration, Byakuren's visage grows bleak.
"H-How-" she stutters before pressing down onto his chest harder, the magic around her increasing in strength.
"W-What did you do? How did you-?" she whispers.
Myouren's shakily raises his neck off ground, but only for a second. Gravity wins the fight and drags it back down to the floor. His head tilts to one side, then the other, his lips moving without a sound.
"N-No! Myouren I, I don't understand! I can't see how you stopped this!" Byakuren takes one hand away from her brother and quickly wipes her face with her sleeve. Then she lifts him, from the floor and into her arms, her glow casting his shadow long onto the floor.
"Myouren, t-tell me! What do I do? What do I do? What do I do?" she pleads while clutching her brother's limp body.
Myouren smiles. His lips manage to twist, a single raspy utterance escaping his paralyzed body. ??live."
"M-Myouren!" she screams. She hugs her brother's body, magical aura growing in strength to be blinding.
"Myouren! Tell me!" she cries, her cheek pressed against her brother?s.
"Myouren?" she whimpers, the bright pulses of magic slowly waning.
Then the stage dims, Byakuren's red and tear-stained face disappearing to black.
You can hear the shuffle onstage, the rapid work of the cast transitioning from one scene to the next.
Is someone in the audience crying?
There isn't much time to reflect as the lights open again, the set of a city in full view. It looks like the center of town, with many people gathered around. Peasants in their work clothes and merchants in their fine robes stand almost side by side. All are looking up at the two men standing on a slight platform.
The magistrate stands above the crowd, as hawkish as ever. In front of him is a different man, more wizened and less intimidating. He speaks to the crowd in a slow and deliberate voice. "The Lady Hijiri brought her brother to me late last night. Yet, what could I do to cure the poison in his veins? Me? A simple healer? No medicine I mixed could defeat what brought the man from the heavens low!"
Shocked murmurs ripple throughout the crowd. All knew of the siblings that had almost single-handedly dealt with the threats to their lives.
The magistrate steps forward, his voice filled with passion. "It pains me, as much as you all, to hear of this news! As soon this was brought to my attention, I dispatched soldiers to investigate this heinous crime. At the Hijiri home, they found evidence of the craven Yakushi! Those hellish birds, well-known for their so-called curatives, show their treacherous nature with this poisoning!."
The murmurs in the crowd transform from shock to outrage. Several of the more passionate men, those touched by the kindness of Myouren, shout their rage to the air.
The magistrate raises his voice, enough to be heard over the mounting anger of the crowd. "Such a great man who only wished the best for us! Murdered! He preached harmony, acceptance, but how could we ever live with monsters such as these? Creatures that would betray the trust given to them? Monsters that would murder the one who sought to aid them? They think us weak, see us as no more than worms to feast upon! Those treacherous birds saw the one man who could leash them and-"
"Magistrate!" A soldier, fully armored, sprints onto the scene, drawing the attention of all. "Magistrate! We've been given permission to march!"
The message breaks open the dam. Members of the audience begin screaming and rushing around. On his platform, the magistrate smiles and commands aloud, "Any able-bodied men who would take vengeance for his murder, come! Those who thought our work was done, I ask you to return to your posts! You are needed to defeat this menace to our society!"
The crowd splits apart, running this way and that carrying weapons and armor.
One figure breaks away and walks to the front of the stage. Byakuren removes her wide-brimmed hat and grips it tightly to her chest.
"Detestable," she mutters.
"How dare they?" she questions the wind, the audience, the fury in her eyes evident. "They would trample over his memory and crush it into the mud!"
All at once the hatred leaves her expression, replaced by weary defeat. "Did no one else listen to you, dear brother?" she whispers.
"Myouren, I won't forget. I will remember what you preached. I will make sure the world comes to understand your dream."
With a flourish, Byakuren replaces the hat on her head and walks away, indistinguishable from the rest of the plains clothed crowd.
The play continues on from that point, rapidly highlighting Byakuren's own journey throughput Japan. The parts they act are accurate; the nun came into contact with a variety of people and youkai, after all. Her successes at bridging peace between human and youkai are shown again and again, until she herself is cast down and sealed for her actions.
It isn't one continuous timeline, and it can't be. it's not surprising Byakuren skipped several parts of her life. Acting out her long tutelage under a powerful demon while she was wrapped in the throes of depression would hardly bolster the inspirational message the play is meant to convey. Her saving of discriminated youkai, her forgiveness to those who had committed sins against humanity, is likewise passed over. It is a known fact better left in the backs of minds, brought to light only when necessary.
A great many thinks that make Byakuren who she is now, you reflect, aren't covered by the play.
How strange. A play that casts her emotions in the center of the drama, and yet, she still manages to hide herself from the audience.
She knows how to manipulate her image.
Yeah, no kidding. If she got booted into the modern world, she'd thrive in a PR department somewhere.
The play ends on an inspirational note in modern times, with a few hopeful words by the head nun herself, surrounded by current adherents to her brother's beliefs.
You honestly feel like the ending is the weakest part of the play, but you suppose it's important to keep the uncertain future framed appropriately.
When the lights dim for the final time, the audience rises to their feet in an uproar. The good kind. The applause and delighted cheers seems like they could be heard from anywhere in Gensokyo.
You and Yoshika make your way back and behind the stage. Cries of ?We did it!" and ?Excellent job!" echo all around you. Humans and youkai pull each other into hugs and throw each other into the air, the celebratory mood infecting each and every one of them.
"Byakuren!" You call out to the nun who is in the midst of a group hug. She looks over when she hears her name, the largest of smiles on her face. "That was a great- Oof!"
She squeezes the life out of you.
Yoshika is standing at your side and growling. Somehow, Byakuren managed to edge her out of the hug even though she was gripping your arm.
"Thank you for your hard work," the nun whispers in your ear. "Thank you so much."
"It was, uh, nothing."
"It was not ?nothing?. Without your assistance, this play would not have happened at all." Byakuren backs up a step but leaves her hands on your back. She's aglow when she looks you in the eyes. "Simple spoken thanks do not convey the depth of my gratitude. I will have to think of something else."
You laugh and glance to the side. "it's not like you need to repay a debt or anything."
Honestly, you're just glad she isn't angry with you.
The two of you hadn't parted on the most upbeat of terms the night before. Even into today you hadn't interacted on a personal level - the preparations for the play were all-consuming.
"So uh?" You start, unsure of what to say.
"Excuse me, excuse me, coming through." Off to the side, you see someone expertly weaving through the crowd of cast members.
"Excuse me! Sir, M?am!" it's that bird girl again. Aya, you believe her name was. She comes to a stop in front of you, Byakuren, and Yoshika.
At her side is another girl who is looking rather flustered. She is another bird youkai with pigtails, the one that Aya was sitting next to in the audience.
"Aya, what can I do for you?" Byakuren asks.
It is only after receiving Aya's piercing glare do you become intimately aware of the soft hand that is still pressed against the back of your shirt. Byakuren might have dropped the hug to turn and talk, but she left one hand resting against you.
With notepad out and pen ready, Aya asks Byakuren, "Would you mind giving the Bunbunmaru a statement in regards to the completion of this moving production?"
The nun takes a moment to think before answering, "I hope that our audience enjoyed the play and that the underlying message is not mistaken for simple entertainment. I have high hopes for the future of human-youkai integration."
"I see, I see." The bird youkai quickly scribbles something down. "And do you have anything to add?" Aya asks, eagerly turning to you.
[ ] "I was glad the performance everybody worked so hard on went without a hitch."
[ ] "I could really go for some roasted bird, to celebrate."
[ ] "It was the kind of performance that Myouren himself would have been proud of."
[ ] "No comment."
[ ] "This performance was just the beginning. It'll be the catalyst for great things."
[ ] "It would be better without a nosy bird bothering the crew."
[ ] "It was impressive, wasn't it? All the actors and actresses practiced long hours to achieve all this."
[ ] "Actually, I'd like to take this time to talk about aliens."
[ ] "So who is this? An aide?"
[ ] Ignore her
[ ] <Write-in>
[ ] Time to talk
-[ ] With <someone> about <something>
[ ] Time to party!
[ ] Time to sleep
[ ] <Write-in>
This delay was unfortunately much longer than the usual unwanted delays. My apologies; I'm sure it'll happen again.
Mokou already has fresh clothes, thoughtfully fetched by her hosts while she waited for you.
Yoshika is running around in your handy dandy jacket and only that.
The only real problem with your clothing is how sweaty they are. Ew.
>>178062 Yes. >>176751:
>??I mean, honestly, I can't trust any of them to make dinner without supervision or else they'll try to slip rabbit meat into the soup or something??
[x] "It was impressive, wasn't it? All the actors and actresses practiced long hours to achieve all this."
>Yoshika is running around in your handy dandy jacket and only that.
Misunderstandings, here we go! As if walking around with an adorable girl on your arm wasn't eye-catching enough, now she's butt-naked with only our signature jacket on.
Now that Yoshika's got an even more curvalicious body, we should get a ribbed sweater soon.
[x] "It was impressive, wasn't it? All the actors and actresses practiced long hours to achieve all this.."
[x] "It was the kind of performance that Myouren himself would have been proud of.."
[x] Time to party!
>>179690 I guess it is poor form to just fall of the face of the planet like that, sorry.
Unfortunately, that doesn't mean I bring good news. Everybody has noticed how updates have slowed to crawl recently - it's been over a month since the last once. Simply put, when I started this story life was not as much a factor. It is now.
That doesn't mean I plan on dropping this story. I fully intend to finish what I start. I'm sure plenty of authors before me have uttered these words, but with a finished story under my belt I'd like to think I can have the determination to see it through, especially if others truly want to read what I write.
Now, I guess the official terminology for this would be hiatus. I don't want to eke out a few sentences every day and then haphazardly post what I scrap together month after month. I'd rather wait until I can actively dedicate myself to putting out (what I see as) quality work in order to have a well-written and flowing experience for all.
Perhaps this is wrong. I might lose more readers who forget everything and don't want to reread the story than those that are annoyed by the sluggish and inconsistent updates. With an unknown future, that's what I'll have to accept.
"Aight. Done being a whiny and overdramatic author. Whether you want to talk with me or rage at me, I'll be around to answer. I'm not dead yet.
I am convinced that I'm a plague upon THP.
I've lost count of how many stories have gone on "hiatus" within a week of me starting to read them. I even have a system in place where I keep them in my THP tab group that I refresh daily for two months until I put them into a bookmarks folder that I check occasionally. I think only two stories have ever returned from the curse-induced hiatus.
>>179901 This story tend to update rather slow to begin with, though, it updates with great quality instead.
Also consider that exams are taking place, and that most of THP are students.
Wait until summer break and you'll see the updates starting to role in.
>>179761 >Perhaps this is wrong. I might lose more readers who forget everything and don't want to reread the story than those that are annoyed by the sluggish and inconsistent updates. With an unknown future, that's what I'll have to accept.
Nah, this story is good enough where you don't have to worry. I'll be waiting for whenever you come back, just please come back.
You're getting too old for this nonsense. Blindly fleeing for your life through dark and mysterious forests was easier five years ago. Honestly, you don't know how younger you managed to- Tree!
You plant one foot on the ground and spin around the trunk of the massive tree before smoothly continuing on your run. Then you nearly trip when your foot catches on a- Damn it!
A burst of magic downwards repulses the grasping root of another magical carnivorous plant or whatever other nonsense inhabits this forest.
After another minute of running you slow to a halt. "That's probably far enough, right?" you pant.
Probably. That graveyard is long gone and our friends seem to have given up. Of course, I couldn't tell you where we are now.
You look around at all the unique flora surrounding you. The forest, surprisingly, is not pitch dark. The stars overhead are invisible, obscured by the heavy canopy, but many of the plants themselves offer some form of luminescence. The glowing mushrooms and sparkling ferns would clue off any normal as to how much magical energy is saturating the forest.
None of these observations clue you in to the answer you need; how to get out of this forest.
Just go downhill?
Probably the best option. At any rate, this bounded realm isn't large enough for you to get more lost. In the worst case you would run into the border and be forced to skirt the edge until you find something more interesting.
Maybe you could try your hand at a spell. The abundance of energy in the forest might interfere with your standard searching magic but you could manipulate the runes to offer an increased warding against- Did you hear that?
You let dark green magic flood your eyes, imprinting on them an entirely new method of sight. The world transforms in an instant, the formerly barely lit forest exploding with colors. Bright and vibrant hues take on the contours of trunks and branches, wavy blue lines shifting all around.
You scan the forest once more but being able to see the flow of mana does not solve the mystery. There are too many magical organisms and ambient energies clouding your vision to pick out a supernatural threat.
What's out there?
Maybe it isn't a predator?
And maybe you aren't a necromancer.
You let your mage sight flicker on and off. You overlay the magical and non-magical visions in your mind, trying to pick out whatever details you can.
Hopefully it's only a mundane pack of wolves. That would be easy to handle compared to something like- There!
You crouch down and crane your neck upwards, able to see the solid sphere of yellow energy falling like a meteor. You drop your mage sight just in time for true darkness to envelop you.
What is this? You can't see anything, not even your own hand held a centimeter from your face. Likewise your mage sight fails to take in anything other than that monotone yellow.
You start to backpedal, to try and gain distance, but whatever has fallen over you moves with you. After five steps, you have no idea if you've gone further out or not.
A sphere of unnatural darkness, huh?
Seems that way. Hopefully you're strong enough to overpower the effect.
You let dark green mist gather in your palm, your sense of magic luckily unchanged by the darkness around you.
Crafting the spell in your mind, you lauaauuauauaaAAGGGGHG!
What the fuck?
You fall backwards, the uncast spell morphing into a violent spray of energy, like arterial blood shooting from your body. It also might have something to do with the fact that your hand was just bitten off! Fuck!
Calm down and do something before you get more bitten off!
Easier said than done! You work magic throughout your body, enhancing everything as you rise-
A hand clamps down on your ankle, the force enough to crush normal human bone. Luckily your body only creaks in response, your magical enhancements holding true.
You kick out with your other foot and throw magic into the movement to increase the force. The heel of your boot crashes into something soft - you hope you broke this monster's face.
"Kyaa!" the cry rings as the grip on your ankle is released.
What the hell? That sounded like the voice of a little girl.
At least that didn't sound like a zombie.
You'd rather face the horde of zombies than whatever this is. It ate your hand!
You work magic around the stump of your wrist, numbing the pain and closing the wound. Shit, that's a crippling injury. How unlucky can you be? If you had time you could replace your dominant hand with something amazing, but for now you're left at a serious disadvantage.
"I shall make you regret that!" a nasally voice whines, laden with rage.
Option one is to wait and react.
Option two is blindly fleeing, part two.
Pfh. Like you'd lose to some little monster.
You spin on a heel and dash, taking as long and as fast strides as you can. For a second, your eyes see the muted browns and greens of the forest. Then the darkness overtakes you once more.
You reach into your jacket and spin again, lashing out with the elongating femur bone.
"Ack!" your pursuer cries as the morphing bone sword bludgeons into them. You couldn't get the edge to form fast enough, but this gives you the space you'll-
You jerk forward when your sword is wrenched out of your hand. You try to pull back but you have too much momentum to- huurk.
Claws dig into your chest, straight through your enchanted jacked and other magical protections. You can feel the fingers digging, crunching and severing something do something!
You keep falling forward toward your attacker until your flailing off hand manages to make contact with something.
Your attacker reacts, their second arm ripping into your shoulder even while your chest is being mangled.
T-That can't go unpunished. You flood your off hand with magic, gritting your teeth as the muscles and skin of your arm melts. The superheated slurry of flesh bleeds off you and onto your attacker, eliciting screams of pain.
Yet, there is no respite.
Those claws tear fastagggh and more furiously, even while their owner screeches her heart out.
T-things are getting- Come on Bro!
You desperately ramp up your magic, willing it forward and out in the most primal ways possible. Your innards die and necrotize, killing the pain and hopefully spreading their infectious, rotting magic on to the claws digging around inside of you. You feel your bones creak as your magic sculpts them into wicked barbs and serrated teeth that grow and rip through your body, impaling foreign hands in place.
Shit, shit, shit, you can't keep going.
It doesn't even hurt anymore.
You can feel yourself grinning as the magic floods through your arm once more, the bones of your remaining hand exploding out like shrapnel, the magic-filled projectiles no doubt puncturing your foe full of holes. There should be enough force in the bone fragments to cause them to ricochet inside your attacker and shred them as badly as they have you.
Stop! You'll kill yourself!
Around you, the impenetrable darkness begins to dim. You begin to see the creature that is tossing you from side to side to try and free her arms.
You hear your ribs creak and crack as the monster tries to dislodge them from the rest of your skeleton. Shame it won't work. Another dousing of mana restores the steel in your bone.
The monster looks rather panicked.
Damn it! Stop channeling your magic!
Why is your sister so worried? You're going to win this.
This little monster is a mess of red and yellow. Half of her face and neck is gone, melted and shredded beyond recognition. Her shoulder is sunken in, the bloody red bone as bright and visible as her eyes.
The tugging on your chest grows weaker. She's visibly slackening, her animalistic screaming giving way to low groans and stifled sobs. One last push should finish her.
No! Don't do it!
Why the hell not? One good blow will end it.
You have nothing left! No arms, no insides! What are you going to do, throw your skull at her?
Fuck that! You feel the weight from your mind trying to force your will, your magic, back down but you fight it. You snarl and let your magic surge, the primal force of the world refusing to be beaten by a dead woman that has no place directing it.
it's so easy. Despite the struggle, you know your sister is just as weak as you are - weaker, really. She can wrest control of your body all she wants but the magic is yours.
That beautiful dark green mist seeps out of what is left of your arms. Each of your mangled limbs twists around and shapes themselves into spiraled lances, some flesh and bone drawn out from your chest to help support their structure.
This'll do. Your sister forced you to hesitate but now you can-
You retch and try to breathe but all you hear is a bloody slurp.
it's getting darker again.
Before your vision disappears completely, you are able to glance down and see the monster has drawn close. Her arms are visibly peeling, rotting, yet she still managed to pull herself in close. Her head is near yours and-
Oh, she must have torn out your throat with her teeth.
Maybe half your throat, with her half a face.
That might explain why you can't breathe.
Now it's pitch black again. You can't see anything hear anything feel anything and?
"and it's warm.
That kind of fuzzy warmth you get when your loved ones hug you.
"You really shouldn't blame yourself, you know? It doesn't sound like it was your fault to me."
You can't tell what's happening or where you are.
"Trust me, I've talked with plenty of people. it's just a phase you're going through. You'll get over it."
All you can do is feel the swirl of emotions around you and sense the slight disturbances in the air. You think those are words and the temperature, but it's hard to discern.
"Aw, don't be like that. I'm sure he won't hate you. Well?.maybe he will, but not in time. Especially if he wants a good judgment from the Yama."
Everything is fuzzy, in a fog, like you've recently awoken.
"H-Hey, I didn't mean it like that. It? just that dying tends to temporarily change perspectives. I promise, if you give it some time, he'll come around."
Whatever you're lying on isn't comfortable.
Not that you can feel any texture on your back. It just kind of seems that way.
"Anyway, this is your stop. One of the other shinigami will help with your in-processing. Just remember my advice and come find me for a chat once you're through, if you like."
You wish you could tell what is going on?
Saged for not a real update. Sorry to get your hopes up if you're still checking here.
Nevertheless, here's a thing. The cogs are turning and I am indeed writing. I've finished rereading the story and mostly finished with my note taking and brainstorming - hopefully it's not too long before we're blazing trails towards the goal line.
I need to finish the intro/summary and then finish the?five month late update?