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177980 No. 177980
The Void is cold, unspeakably so.

You've been here for seconds, minutes, months, centuries: it is impossible to tell.

All that you are certain of is that you are falling, falling, falling, through an endless sea of blue light. The wind howls in your ears as you zip by countless floating 'islands'—cross sections Dunwall's various street corners and other tableaus frozen by the Void—but you have no fear of them. They never seem to come close to hitting you.

If only they did, mutters some dark voice in the back of your mind. Breaking apart against the nonsense-landscapes of the Void would almost be a welcome change from this eternal (and not eternal) fall. It would distract you from your thoughts, which seem to be your only company here.

You failed him—The Knife of Dunwall, Daud of Serkonos, the greatest assassin in all the Isles... he was your teacher, your master, and employer all in one. You quite literally owed him your life. When the woman Delilah came about, sowing the seeds of death and betrayal among your ranks, he led you and your brothers straight into the fray.

And how did you repay him for the skills he gave you, for the purpose and cold steel he armed you with?

When Delilah Copperspoon set her shrieking statues upon your fellows, you could not help but be bested: a single misstep and a flashing blade tore across your chest, sending you hurtling into the Void.

After the morose thought enters your mind, the wind's howling shapes itself into a voice, and whispers right into your ear.

"You're in a very strange place, aren't you?" The hairs on the back of your neck immediately stand to attention, but you do not speak. "All things return to the Void in their own time, but rarely does anyone visit while awake—or breathing."

"I know you, assassin. One of Daud's lieutenants, one of his Whalers. You were there at the raid on Brigmore Manor itself. I watched as you crossed steel with Delilah Copperspoon's coven. How thrilling it must have been, staining the mildewed carpets with witch's blood."

You do not comment. Whether it is out of shock or out of deference, you cannot say. After a moment, the whispering begin anew.

"And yet, you fell. Such a shame. It is lucky that your master has given me such a show... and I must say, you yourself certainly made things lively. So ending this story—your story—here would be such a waste. I'm going to give you a second chance." Your heart nearly stops: is he returning you to reality, to your comrades? You're almost afraid for what he has to say next.

"Consider this a gift, the first of several. Now go, little Whaler. I look forward to seeing what you will do in the days that will follow. Will you find your way home? Can you even survive what lies ahead?"

Before you can answer, the howling wind is cut off without warning: and with it goes your consciousness.

——

When you come to, you keep your eyes firmly shut, listening to unfamiliar bird-song overhead. You haven't even opened your eyes, but you have some strange desire to verify that this is reality, rather than another dream. As you dig your gloved fingers into the soil and feel the pain running through your body, you've no choice but to accept the truth. That was not some feverish nightmare, and you are not in your bunk at Rudshore.

But where is here?

When you open your eyes, you find yourself in a small clearing, though it's not in any forest you've seen before. You lie there for a moment and simply stare up. The late afternoon sun is peeking through the leaves of tall, reed-like plants.

At this time of day, it creates a curious interplay of light and shadow. The scene before you is a few shades away from eerie, but you find the view appealing. Combined with the gentle wind rustling through the stalks, being here would be strangely pleasant if not for the pain shooting through your body.

A curse escapes your lips as you attempt to stand up. You barely make it, and you have to wonder: exactly how much blood have you lost? You stop to lean on one of the sturdier-looking plants for support. It bends a little, but holds your weight. The effort you've just taken leaves you wheezing through your mask. A hand goes to your chest... and it comes away red.

The smell of your own blood—even your mask's air filters can't mask the stench—brings you back to earth. The wet-iron odor helps lift the fog hanging over your mind (and with it all unnecessary thoughts, all the questions dying to be answered) and gives you a sense of urgency. You think you can work through the pain. Thankfully, your arcane talents aid you there somewhat.

What do you do?

[ ] Immediately give yourself first aid. You risk infection or worse with every second that your wounds are not treated, powers or no. At this rate you'll keel over before you can give that black-eyed bastard a good show.

[ ] Work through the pain and find cover. Your wounds hurt like a bitch but the clearing is too open to risk fussing over yourself. Might as well paint a bulls-eye on your back.

——

Hello, new-as-can-be writer person here with an enticing (to myself at least) idea and a first post that seems overly edited to my eye... this is my first time doing one of these CYOAs ever, so let's see how it goes. Feel free to tear my ass apart when I fuck up, or just giving me handy hints and such regarding characterization or whatever. It's all a learning process, after all. Thanks in advance, friends.

No. 177981
[X] Immediately give yourself first aid. You risk infection or worse with every second that your wounds are not treated, powers or no. At this rate you'll keel over before you can give that black-eyed bastard a good show.

I'd say...a peculiar concept there. Though I wonder why would the Outsider send him there. Knowing him though, it's likely for his own amusement
No. 177982
[X] Immediately give yourself first aid. You risk infection or worse with every second that your wounds are not treated, powers or no. At this rate you'll keel over before you can give that black-eyed bastard a good show.

Better than walking around bleeding all over the place.
No. 177983
[X] Work through the pain and find cover. Your
wounds hurt like a bitch but the clearing is too open
to risk fussing over yourself. Might as well paint a
bulls-eye on your back.
No. 177984
[X] Work through the pain and find cover. Your wounds hurt like a bitch but the clearing is too open to risk fussing over yourself. Might as well paint a bulls-eye on your back.

Well, if this CYoA is set to "you caught a deadly disease and died nightmare modo", I want to know straight away.
No. 177985
[x ] Work through the pain and find cover. Your wounds hurt like a bitch but the clearing is too open to risk fussing over yourself. Might as well paint a bulls-eye on your back.

A Dishonored Crossover? Let's see how this goes.
No. 177986
Even though you hear nothing but birdsong, you are wary. Who knows what could be hiding in the shadows? Certainly not you. Images of wild hounds or bandits or worse fill your mind. To compound your growing caution, you recall previous assignments: you've killed or abducted too many nobles who stepped away from the main party to feel up a maidservant or smoke habber weed in a secluded back room.

You've little desire to end up like them.

With the threat of ambush—from what exactly, you're not sure—on your mind, you suck in a deep breath and push off from the stalk-plant. The pain in your chest surges for a moment, and you stumble and nearly fall—but you catch yourself and keep on walking, with one forearm pressed against your wounded chest.

The plants grow so thickly that it's nearly impossible to see where you are going. For all you know you could be walking in circles. You push the growing doubt out of your mind. You're looking for a hill, a rock, a cave—anything you can hide within or under or behind, so you can lick your wounds in relative safety. Whining about it won't help you; all you could do was keep on going.

The pain in your chest fades a little as you walk on. You're bleeding, but it's not nearly as bad as it could be. It seems that Delilah could not list competent swordswoman among her many talents. For some strange reason you find the thought comforting. If it had been a member of the Watch holding the sword, you suspect you'd be dead at this point.

You find yourself in another clearing. In the center is a squat wooden building. It looks strange: it has sliding doors that seem to be made of little more than wood and paper. The entire structure seems to lean slightly to one side, and other little signs of decay convince you that no one's been here for a long while.

A smaller building nearby also catches your eye. It looks like a storage shed of some sort. One half of it seems to have collapsed long ago, and you can see a shadowy space underneath what remains of its roof. It may be more exposed than the house, but it's abundantly clear that there's nothing waiting for you inside, apart from some fragments of wood and a broom leaning against one of the wooden walls.

[ ] Go into the building to treat your wounds.

[ ] Move towards the shed instead.

[ ] Don't go into either building and treat you wounds where you are.

[ ] Write in?
No. 177987
[X] Move towards the shed instead.

We just need a place to treat our wounds and we don't need much cover to do so.

So how old is our protagonist here and does the beginning portion take place during the Brigamore Witches DLC, which from what I remember takes place around the beginning of Dishonored, right?
No. 177989
[X] Move towards the shed instead.

OP, I sincerely hope you've plotted out a main story and everything, 'cause you're gonna need one sooner or later. That being said, your writing is promising, and it evoked Dishonored in all the right ways. Keep it up!
No. 177991
[X] Move towards the shed instead.
No. 177993
[x] Move towards the shed instead.
No. 177994
After a moment's deliberation, you slowly make your way to the half-collapsed structure. When you arrive, you barely manage to stumble inside and slump against what remains of the shed and sit with your back against one of the remaining walls. The shadows seem dark enough to serve your purposes. On top of that, your new position gives you a good view of most of the clearing, though the house creates a large gap to your left. It will have to do for now.

You can think about everything else—meeting the Outsider in the Void, being thrust into some strange nonsense-forest in what you presume to be a faraway land, failing Daud and your brethren when they needed you most—after you stifle the bleeding. You manage to keep your breath steady, even though each measured inhalation sends pain shooting through your entire body. Panicking won't help at all; you've seen too many wounded comrades and enemies thrash about in pain and fear only to bleed out faster. It's a fact you've exploited in your work , it is not overly difficult to force yourself to stay calm.

You pull off the leathery industrial gas mask from off your face, taking a deep breath from the surprisingly cool air outside. The smell of fresh soil and of the forest around you—living things, the musty smell of dead vegetation—is somewhat new. Mutcherhaven District was far away from the Flooded District, or the smoggy streets of Dunwall, but you didn't risk taking your mask off while in Brigmore Manor. There was something about the place and its oppressive mists that just put you off. It was a feeling shared by all your comrades.

Now that you're here, wherever here is, you take a fraction of a moment to appreciate the earthy smell. It is a far cry from the musty attics and offal-scented alleyways of your youth. It's... nice. You almost think it would be enjoyable, in any other situation.

Then, something stings your eye as you take a cursory glance down at your ruined shirt: you realize that your forehead, no, your entire face is beaded with sweat. Your mask is positively drenched as well; it's a wonder that the lenses aren't fogged up at this point, or that you only noticed it now... you must be more tired than you thought you were, so you begin to wonder exactly how much blood you've lost.

It's just another useless thought, so you try your best to push it from your mind. You set your mask down and get to work. Probing fingers ducking beneath the layers of your clothing reveal that the wound is large but not particularly deep at any point: if you were a normal person the wound would be quite serious, though even in your current state it is not something you can merely laugh off.

You have to wonder: was it due to your armored overcoat, or it could be that the witch—and therefore her army of doppelgangers—was rather unskilled with a blade? You shake your head. Too many useless thoughts. There's little time for you to do anything but capitalize on the results of your good fortune.

After a quick inspection, you learn that you've accrued a large assortment of cuts, scrapes and bruises all over your body, though none of them are serious. The only wound that you feel needs immediate attention is the one on your chest. You're not sure how you got all of your wounds Any attempts to remember the raid on Brigmore result in foggy half-memories and vague images. You shake your head. Anyone would attribute your poor memory to the rush of battle and the adrenaline—crossing blades with witches and their gravehounds gives one little time to cry over a skinned elbow, after all. And you've been in the Void. Only the Outsider for how long and only he would know what that would do to a man.

Keeping one hand pressed tightly to your chest, you fish around in one of your many pockets and pull out a small pouch. It is made of waxed paper and bears a label that reads Marston's Patented Fast-Acting Hemostatic Powder. You've used medicine like this before in desperate back alleys and secluded rooftops that stank of blood and offal, but never on yourself. It's why Daud would send at least two Whalers on assignments whenever possible. You highly doubt you can administer truly adequate first aid the way you are, but it's that or allowing yourself to bleed to death.

You're thankful that your hands are steady as you pull off your gloves, which are at this point coated with blood, both yours and of the witches you dispatched. You shrug off your bandolier, your overcoat and even your bloodied undershirt in quick succession. They soon lie in a bloody pile beside you. The gentle breeze feels chilly on your sweaty, battered body.

The powder stings as you apply it to your bare chest, but it seems to work. After watching the bubbling mess, you take a roll of gauze—filched from a condemned clinic—from another pocket. Applying it to your wound turns out to be a clumsy bit of work, but with any luck it'll hold, and keep you from dying for the time being. There is a small vial of laudanum in one of your pockets, but you know better than to take it now. You need your wits about you, especially in a place like this.

With your most immediate concern out of the way, you shrug on your clothes again, ignoring the way they stick to you, the way the smell of your own blood seems to blot out everything else. As macabre as it is, it's familiar. In some strange way, it even comforts you. You let out a tired sigh, when you realize what you just thought. The sole consolation you can think of is that there are no uniform inspections for you to pass here. You just have to find a way out of here, and get your bearings, though it's easier said than done.

And after that?

You have absolutely no idea. All you know is that returning to Daud and your fellow Whalers is your main priority. But how? The Outsider's vague words come to mind again. He wouldn't send you to some safe, boring place. Obviously this new locale promises considerable danger to you. Exactly what that danger is or will be remains to be seen.

A sound in the distance breaks through your thoughts. You think it sounds like something breaking underfoot, like dead leaves or dry wood. Your mind races as you quickly slip on your mask (ignoring the clammy wetness of the thing) and move into a low crouch, exactly as you were trained. With the dexterity of a consummate professional, your sword is drawn in a flash and your wristbow is readied in the other.

The pain and the lightheadedness hasn't abated one bit and you are unsure if the dressing will hold, but that is the least of your concerns. It is hard to tell exactly where the sound came from: it came from the direction of the wooden building, that's all you can be certain of.

What do you do?

[ ] Perform a transversal and investigate the sound from atop the wooden building.

[ ] Head into the forest.

[ ] Write in?

——

I'm bullshitting the medical stuff with 'HEY MAGIC' and 'HAHA SHITTY SWORDSMANSHIP' so yeah. Expect an inventory/powers post in a few updates.

>>177989 Oh, yes, I've a general plot in mind (beginning, middle and end) but I should allow leeway for unexpected things, right? Everyone's going to tug the Whaler here this way and that, so I have to think of those things by keeping the planned plot sorta general in places, right? Thank you for the compliment!

>>177987 Our friend the Whaler fell during Daud's last battle with the Brigmore Witches, so the start of this CYOA is some indeterminate time after that battle (after all, time is meaningless in the Void). I'm not sure when it exactly takes place, but certainly some time before Corvo goes to the Flooded District. Regarding his age: all I'll say now is that he is an adult. As for more personal details, well, I've a plan for that.
No. 177995
[X] Perform a transversal and investigate the sound from atop the wooden building.

Might as well take a look.
No. 177997
[X] Perform a transversal and investigate the sound from atop the wooden building.

Gameplay wise, what powers and abilities, and level of powers, does our protagonist have?

How would he compare to Daud or Corvo in combat ability or powers?
No. 177998
[X] Perform a transversal and investigate the sound from atop the wooden building.

Because when you effectively have unlimited short-range teleports, provided you pace yourself, why shouldn't you make use of them? High ground, ho!

>>177994

Oh, yes, I've a general plot in mind (beginning, middle and end) but I should allow leeway for unexpected things, right?

I like you already.

On a different note, at first I just figured the Whaler took a slash and died before the Outsider figured he wanted to have more fun with the guy, but on re-reading, he was just unfortunate enough to be hit near the island's edge and got subjected to how Dishonored's ledges have this bizarre ability to drag people off to their doom. That's pretty great.

Reminds me of the time I fought a Witch in the sewer, locked blades with her, and then smashed the handle of my sword into her face, which made her stagger back and trip over the railing, cracking her skull on the floor below. Good stuff.
No. 177999
[X] Perform a transversal and investigate the sound from atop the wooden building.


While I haven't played Dishonored myself, I'm familiar enough with it to at least not be completely lost. (And I intend to rectify that situation... Eventually.)
Anyway, the high ground would give superior vision, and in case of a fight it would also provide good cover and line of fire.
Of course, since this is Gensokyo there is always a higher "ground" that people will use against us.
No. 178000
[x] Perform a transversal and investigate the sound from atop the wooden building.

>what's this, a Dishonoured cross?
>looks decently-written too, I'll check it o-
>TWO NEW UPDATES ALREADY
aaaa slow down OP that's way too fast
Also, I never got around to finishing the game. Is there any knowledge I'll need to look up on a wiki or something?
No. 178002
>>178000

>Also, I never got around to finishing the game. Is there any knowledge I'll need to look up on a wiki or something?

You should be fine, really. Coming from someone who has beaten the game and the relevant DLCs, there aren't any specific plot details that jump out at being necessary to know. Just sit back and enjoy the ride!
No. 178003
Your first instinct is not to run, but to investigate who or what was coming towards you. Information was as deadly a weapon as a blade or a pistol, after all. And if you're going to survive for any in this strange land, you have to arm yourself appropriately.

You clench one fist and screw your eyes shut. You reach into that dark place within your mind, that strange place where your powers lie. A shiver runs up your spine as you picture yourself standing atop the roof. It takes but a moment till you feel that familiar sensation—something like vertigo and nausea and the surge of adrenaline—envelop your entire body. Suddenly, you're yanked from where you're standing, as if by some invisible cord. The world blurs and melts around you and an incredible amount of pressure squeezes your body. If you had to describe the feeling you would say it was like being forced down a drainage pipe.

No matter how good you are at transversals, you've never been fond of the sensation. Thankfully, it only lasts a single moment.

With a stomach-curdling lurch, you reappear on top of the building, your feet hardly making noise as they land on the fragile looking tiles. An unpleasant tingling sensation runs through your limbs, but it fades, as it always does. You do not pause, and drop to one knee and cast your gaze outwards.

You spy the silhouette of a person coming into the clearing. Whoever they are, they're walking into the clearing with a sedate pace, blissfully unaware that you're watching them.

From this distance, it's hard to discover anything of the person at the edge of the clearing. Not for the first time, you grumble inwardly and wish you had a spyglass, like Daud. All you can tell for certain is that they're wearing a pair of red overalls.

The rest of their body is obscured by shadow, or else blocked out by the crisscrossing stalks of the strange plants. With feelings of mute frustration building up, you decide to use a little trick one of your comrades taught you. Placing both hands on the roof in front of you, you lean forward to get a better look as they draw closer—

With a shuddering crack, something snaps in the structure beneath your feet. Before you can even blink, the roof practically disintegrates in a shower of tiles and rotted wood, throwing up a cloud of dust and broken tiling into the air.

You think you hear a surprised yelp come from somewhere, though it could very well be from your own lips.

With a supreme lack of grace, you lose your balance and tumble forwards. As you throw your free hand to grab at a newly-created ledge, you hit your head against something, hard. Miraculously, one hand manages to grab onto a wooden beam, but your sword slips from the other hand, falling into the darkness. A moment later, your grip fails you, and you follow suit.

Rather than breaking your neck against the ground, your descent is arrested by what feels like some sort of fabric. The impact knocks the breath from your lungs, leaving you wheezing. The air inside the building is musty and old, and breathing it in is—even through your gas mask—is far from pleasant.

When you try to move, you realize that your legs are completely immobile. As your vision clears, you see a light flooding in from the hole above you. It reveals a mess of white gossamer-like material. As far as you can tell, the entire building is filled with the stuff. You numbly realize that you are thoroughly tangled up in what appears to be a ludicrously dense mass of cobwebs.

You once read a book about Anton Sokolov's journey to the Pandyssian Continent. He had written of something like this: huge spiderwebs suspended between trees, created and maintained by countless numbers of the arachnids in some grand cooperative venture.

The mess before you matches his descriptions, save the fact that there are no spiders skittering around this massive web.

It is at that moment that you see it.

Four red lights, each about the size of a coin of ten, shine in the darkness before you. They are arranged in an unmistakable pattern.

For a long moment you stare back, frozen by the impossible thing that is lurking in the darkness in front of you.

Your breath catches in your throat when you realize the lights have begun to waver and grow larger. The entire web beings to shake as the thing approaches. Glancing to the right, you see your sword resting atop another silky mass. It's barely within arm's reach, and you have your wristbow strapped to your other arm. You don't know if you can perform another transversal, though you're sure that you could pull off a tethering—but what would that do?

——

[ ] Fire your wristbow at the lights

[ ] Reach for your sword

[ ] Attempt to tether the beast

[ ] Write in?

——

>>177997 You'll find out soon! Sorry for being vague but as I said in my previous update, we'll have a character sheet for mister Whaler here eventually.

>>177998 Thank you! And yeah, you're right on the money. I got the idea after seeing that exact same thing happen both in the base game and DLC. For some reason it's a lot of fun to watch your hapless victims tumble to their doom...

>>178000 I think I overestimate how fast these boards are, seeing as most of my participation has consisted of reading archived threads... Thank you for the advice, I'll try and work a schedule that doesn't tire me out so much... I hear that CYOAs are marathons, rather than sprints. I've seen quite a few interesting ideas conk out because the writer didn't have the willpower to go on... rest assured I don't want to be that writer.

I will probably be out all day tomorrow (my timezone is GMT +8, if any of you would like to know) but I'll try to write at least one update when I get back. Good night!
No. 178004
[X] Attempt to tether the beast.

Might throw it off balance if it's too big to pull, or failing that, draw it close enough for a more accurate wristbolt shot. Aim for the eyes!
No. 178005
[x] Fire your wristbow at the lights

SHOOT IT IN THE FACE
No. 178009
[X] Attempt to tether the beast

Grab and attack~
No. 178012
[x] Fire your wristbow at the lights

All of these other options are big ifs, can he even obtain the sword before getting mauled, and will tethering it just bring us closer to death? Shooting is pretty straight foward.
No. 178013
[x] Fire your wristbow at the lights
-[x]Sleep or Explosive Darts

Granted I don't know how well Sleep Darts might work on a youkai, but you never know. And hey explosions can do some damage.
No. 178015
[x] Attempt to tether the beast
Let's try and find out what, exactly, we're fighting before we actually start fighting it.
Was that Mokou? I hope it was, she really hasn't been getting much love around here recently.
No. 178016
>>178013 Sorry that this is not an update, but I just wanna ask: do you want to waste time removing the standard bolt, fishing around through your bandolier (which may be covered in the monster's webs!) for a dart that might not work, or a dart that might just bring the entire house down on you? You might not even have any sleep/explosive darts in the first place!

Also... I left my laptop charger at home and with my laptop's battery on its last legs, I might not be able to write an update till tomorrow... might be able to hijack another laptop, though.

Thank you for participating so far. It might be a bit premature to say that but I'm glad people are enjoying it, or at least I think you guys are... As compensation for this meaningless prattle, here's an image of what our hero looks like, for any of you that are unfamiliar with Dishonored.

(Just imagine he's covered in webs and blood and stuff. Yeah.)
No. 178020
>>178016
Eh, for what it's worth, I'm at least enjoying this so far.
No. 178028
As the lights creep closer and closer, you think of your fellow Whaler, Pickford Hearn.

You remembered him best for one particularly memorable. He'd bungled the initial assault—something Daud never let him really forget, not even when he took up the blue leathers of a proper assassin—and his mark had tried to escape. The way he told it, Pickford managed to corner her in a smokehouse where the carcasses of blood oxen hung from great iron meat hooks. When the woman had turned around to fire a pistol at him, Pickford had tried to tether her. He missed: rather than hitting his mark, he knocked one of the carcasses from its meat hook—to be exact, he pulled the carcass directly behind his target.

As would be expected, he completed the contract, albeit through a very unorthodox method. He became the butt end of everyone's shitty jokes for months, though Pickford was more upset by the loss of so much delicious smoked oxen.

Then, your mind clicks, and you realize why you thought of Pickford Hearn and his bungling ways. You may be the victim in this fight, but as long as you carry the powers that make you a Whaler, there's always one more trick you can pull. You've never tried tethering something as big as this before, but if Hearn can do it...

You hold up your left hand—focusing your mind's eye on the four red lights—and clench it into a fist. A sickly green light flares up in the darkness, lining the outline of the horrible thing as your magic yanks it forwards. The whole structure shakes as the beast loses its balance and is tossed into its own webs.

Its movements become almost spasmodic. They only serve to entangle itself more in the silvery mess. Your stomach lurches when the spider-thing's weight breaks some of the threads entirely, bringing it closer and closer. The thing finally comes to a stop two meters or so away. For a moment you nearly regret casting your spell for you can now see the creature clearly.

As you suspected, it is a spider... or it vaguely resembles one. It has eight legs, and a segmented body... but that's where the similarities end. The monster's back end is covered in a fine fur and is horribly misshapen, like a malignant tumor. With each thrashing movement, its quivers like the belly of an overfed pig.

You flinch as the beast manages to right itself somewhat and face you. Rather than a pair of mandibles, the creature possesses a human-like face. The way its putrid flesh seems to be sloughing from its skull reminds you of the drowned weepers that float in the brackish waters of the Flooded District. The monster suddenly howls, rolling its four bulbous eyes at you. The odor of its breath is enough to make you feel ill.

For a moment you are frozen by something like disbelief and utter terror, but as the beast thrashes around you are quite literally shaken back into reality. You grit your teeth, and remind yourself of who you are: one of Daud's Whalers. You have fought gangs and guards and witches. If you are to die here, you're going to leave this ugly bastard with much more than its next meal.

You raise your left hand and fire your wristbow. It's hard to miss at this distance, even if you are being tossed about and shook by the thrashing monster.

The steel-headed bolt punches a hole in one of the spider-thing's four eyes. It shrieks loudly as black ooze spurts from the empty eye socket like a geyser. For a moment its struggling ceases as it tries to bring one of its forelegs up to its face, to try and dislodge your bolt.

After several moments it forgets the wound and leans towards you, straining against its silken restraints. The entire web lurches as the beast's weight tears away more and more of its webbing. As you fumble for another bolt, a spurt of black ichor hits you in the face. The opaque liquid slides over the eyepieces of your mask, blinding you utterly.

You do not see the beast lunge forwards, but for a single horrible moment you feel its teeth grating against your shoulder. One of its incisors pass through the coat, sinking a few centimeters into your flesh. Before it could get a proper hold on you, the web collapses entirely. The groaning of ancient wood is drowned out by the horrendous shriek that the creature makes as it falls to the ground, several meters below.

You follow it a moment later.

The sudden landing knocks the wind from your lungs. Despite your lightheadedness, you don't waste any time. One gloved hand comes up to wipe away the mucus-like ichor coating your mask. It takes you a few precious moments to regain most of your vision. Every inch of your body screams in protest as you stumble to your feet and ready yourself.

You now stand in a room that is empty save for the cobwebs that cover almost every surface. At the other end of the room lies the monstrous thing. It is still tangled up in its own silk, though it looks it will free itself in a matter of seconds. The bolt you fired at point-blank range seems to have had little effect past enraging the beast.

The realization gives you a chill—can you even kill this thing? You ignore the fear, and glance around the inside of the derelict building. The bright glint of sunlight on metal catches your eye, and you see your sword. It is hanging by a single silken thread, halfway between you and the beast.

[ ] Reload, and fire another bolt into its fat face.

[ ] Grab your sword, and lop the creature's head off.

[ ] Turn tail and flee.

[ ] Write in?

——

What do you do when you have a tie? Use both options, of course!
No. 178030
[X] Grab your sword, and lop the creature's head off.


Assuming it has a separate head to go with it's human face, that is.
(Spiders don't really have heads per se, the "face" is place directly on the cephalothorax, i.e. the part of their body that isn't their gigantic ass.)


If not, we could stab it in the sternum (aim right between all eight legs), since that's where a spider's brain is.
Especially if it's lying on it's back, since the brain is located in the bottom of their body.
No. 178032
[x] Grab your sword, and lop the creature's head off.

>>178030 seems to have a soundish plan.
No. 178033
[x] Grab your sword, and lop the creature's head off.

Go with >>178030
No. 178036
[x] Grab your sword, and lop the creature's head off.
No. 178037
[x] Reload, and fire another bolt into its fat face.
(CONTINUE TO) SHOOT IT IN THE FACE
No. 178041
[X] Turn tail and flee
If I am correct, then we've just been poisoned. Death by poison is not the greatest way to go.
I am also reminded of a tip from in-game.
No. 178042
[x] Grab your sword, and lop the creature's head off.
No. 178044
>>178041
Er as a Whaler don't we have resistance toward drugs, excluding sleep darts? I remember reading that Daud was able to pass some of his abilities and powers to his Whaler followers.
No. 178061
>>178041
As a general rule, the bigger the spider the less potent it's venom, if it even has any.
Small spiders need it to kill/defend against creatures bigger than themselves. Large spiders can rely on their size instead and thus don't have the same need for that extra edge.

A bite from tiny spider (e.g. a black widow) is often dangerous, maybe even lethal.
A larger spider will, at worst, cause a few days of severe discomfort.
For example, there are no species of tarantula that have potent enough venom to kill a human (although apparently there is one that will make you trip balls).


Of course, since it's a youkai:
If the author is feeling like being a dick about it, we might be in a situation where we can just flip a coin because "it's magic, I ain't gotta explain shit", but I'm choosing to assume that there is some logic behind it.
No. 178063
The light glinting off the hanging sword makes you remember who you are. You don't run away from fights. You finish them, no matter how they started, no matter how they went: that was what you were trained to do—in some ways, it has become who you are.

With that in mind, you practically hurl yourself at the beast. As you draw closer to the thing, you throw out one hand and snatch up your sword.

The spider-thing manages to tear its way out of its silken prison just as your fingers wrap around the hilt of your blade. It howls in triumph as it shrugs off the last scraps of web and unfolds its many legs like the petals of some monstrous flower. It turns to you and the red face—now stained by the ichor flowing freely from one ruined eye—twists up in a hateful grimace. A stubby foreleg lashes out at you, aiming right for the center of your chest.

You move to dodge the blow, but your reactions have been numbed—by fatigue, blood loss, and Outsider knows what else. It hits you solidly in the left shoulder, right where its tooth had carved a trench in your flesh moments ago. The force of the blow nearly dislocates your shoulder. The pain is hideous; you think you feel something break.

In response, you swing your sword. The blade neatly splits the offending limb in half. With a yowl, the spider stumbles over itself and slams face-first into the wooden floor. You waste no time and hoist yourself up onto the creature with only a little difficulty.

You barely manage to scramble onto the spider-thing's head—thorax, whatever the damn thing is actually called, you're not a natural philosopher and never will be one and there's no point in giving it a proper name when you're going to kill it dead anyways—and straddle it with your thighs before it gets up. The thing thrashes and bucks underneath you like an unruly stallion. It is yowling and screeching hideously, with a voice that is very close to human.

It doesn't bother you too much. The screams of men and women aren't exactly a new sound to your ears. You take your sword in both hands—not trusting either one by itself—and lift your sword above your head.

The creature's shell is thick and leathery, but you find a chink in its armor and bring your sword down. Again, your accuracy is perfect: the short blade slips into the monster's flesh as easily as can be. The spider-thing shudders monstrously beneath you. The blade is caught on something within its body and stops. The beast's shrieking reaches a crescendo that makes your ears ring, and its efforts to dislodge you only intensify. More of the black ichor spurts from around your blade and down either side of the spider's cephalothorax. The hideous fluid seeps through the thick material of your trousers, leaving an unpleasantly warm sensation spreading from the inside of your thighs and down your legs.

As the beast wails and bucks beneath you, a small part of your mind wonders if you'll have to throw your socks away after this fight—they are your only good pair, after all.

A few seconds pass and the beast now stands in a pool of its own ink-colored ichor. Despite that, there are no signs that the spider-thing will fall over and die. That is not to say that it is in perfect health: its movements are spasmodic and quickly growing weaker, but at a rate much slower than you'd like.

You redouble your efforts, and pound your fist into the pommel of your blade like a hammer and nail. Each time you bring your fist down, pain shoots up your arm and across your chest and in a dozen other places besides. You ignore it, and bring your hand down again and again and again. Just when you begin to think that the beast is invincible, there is an audible crunch from the beast beneath you, as your sword is driven up to the hilt.

The spider-beast's piteous yell suddenly cut off. It collapses to the ground in a tangle of legs and chitin, and you are thrown into the quickly-spreading pool of its ichor. For several moments you try to stand up. Your entire body feels like it is made of lead, and the thought of simply collapsing there is very tempting.

Before you can do so, you hear words in a foreign tongue. You wearily lift your head and look in the direction of the speaker—they, no, she is standing at the other end of the room. It's the person you saw, the one wearing the red overalls. It's hard to tell what she looks like, with all the muck gumming up the eyepieces of your mask.

You stare blankly at the woman, and you think she's staring at you. She says something again but this time you can't even make out the words—you recall the sensation of being submerged underwater, and consider it an apt comparison. The world around you is rapidly losing focus, the edges blurring together into a fuzzy and incomprehensible mess. It's a curious thing, and you have to wonder: is it the blood loss, or did the beast's fang carry some insidious venom? The question quickly becomes irrelevant when you realize that a wall of darkness is rushing before you. You try to raise a hand to stop it, but your arm is too heavy and—

——

Do you have a dream that night?

[ ] Yes

[ ] No
No. 178064
[x] No

Dream sequences are always boring in CYOAs. No matter who the writer is. Best disabuse ourselves of this notion of dream sequences right away.
No. 178065
[x] Yes

Voting to spite >>178064 etc etc.
No. 178066
[X] No

Eh, I'd rather see more of where we are and what's going on, before we get into flashbacks and/or prophetic visions of the future and whatnot.

Also, double-spiting and all that.
No. 178067
[x] No
Nothing against dream sequences myself, just don't want one right now.
No. 178071
[x] Yes

Cryptic dreams or remembering past events is nice.
No. 178072
[x] Yes

Dream sequences can be useful for prophecies or whatnot
No. 178076
[x] No
It's still too early for dream sequence
No. 178077
Your sleep is long, deep and lacking in any sort of dream, nightmare or vision. Had you been aware of the fact, you would have been rather pleased—this is the first time in years that you've slept so well.

All things must end, however, and the end of your sleep came in the pungent odor of tobacco smoke.

"Looks like you're finally awake." There's something incomprehensibly strange about the voice, though your newly-awoken mind is still in the middle of coming into wakefulness to really pinpoint what is wrong. You open your eyes to stare at the remarkably unremarkable wooden ceiling above you.

You take stock of your position lying on the floor of a sparsely furnished room. There is no sign of your possessions, or of your clothing. You have been tucked into a strange sort of bedroll that is thick and downy, a far cry from the smelly mattress that you called your bed back home. When you try to sit up, your head spins in a very familiar way, but you do not lie back down.

Almost immediately, you note that you've been stripped buck naked, save for your undergarments. On top of that, a doctor or someone has seen to your wounds: there are about a dozen bandages and dressings covering a good part of your body. The injuries you've sustained have been treated in a truly professional manner: the bandages have been applied in a fashion that doesn't overly hinder your movements. At the same time, you do not feel like they will simply fall off if you do anything more strenuous than walking around. Not that you particularly feel like doing so: even trying to sit up sets off the pain in about a dozen different places, including the wound on your chest.

You look at the bandages and for a moment you feel a little panicked—the tattoos that identify you as a Whaler must have been seen, by someone outside of your organization's circle of back-alley surgeons or bribed physicians... then you realize that there's no Guard to report to, though it is of little recompense. Then, you remember that you're not alone in the room. You focus your eyes on your rescuer, who is leaning against a wall opposite you.

It's the same person, the one who witnessed you gutting that spider-thing. She is a lanky young woman with long, ankle-length white hair, adorned with red-and-white ribbons. She is wearing a pair of red overalls and a shirt you surmise was once white—they only highlight the milky paleness of her skin and the deep crimson of her eyes. The young woman's clothing seems positively mundane in contrast with the rest of her. Overall, she has a slightly eerie appearance, though you would not say that she wasn't the pretty sort. Past that, her expression seems incongruent with such a smooth, unlined face, but it would not be the first time you've met someone older than they had any right to be...

Before she speaks again, her crimson eyes study you in turn. You feel her eyes trace the lines of your many scars, over the intricate patterns inked into your flesh. For a moment, her eyes linger on that place—just beneath your left eye—but she makes no comment, and there are no looks of surprise, or of disgust.

There is an appraisal, but no judgement. You decide that you could like this young woman.

"And here I thought I was going to have to deal with a corpse. Guess that moon bitch's worth her salt." Whatever that is supposed to mean, it makes her grin in amusement. "Welcome back to the land of the living, outsider." You resist the urge to look over your shoulder for the black-eyed bastard himself. The young woman chuckles dryly, before taking a drag from her cigarette.

As she exhales the smoke from her nostrils like some fire-breathing serpent, you realize why her voice sounds so strange. You know she's not speaking Gristolite, nor the scraps of Serkonan (handy phrases like 'I fucked your sister, you imbecile' or 'Another round for me and my friends') you've picked up. It's another language, without a doubt.

Despite that, you understand her with ease. It feels like she is speaking with two voices—one you hear with your ears, and another you hear with your mind. It is utterly confusing, but you cut off any demands for an explanation. Is this another one of the Outsider's tricks? Or could this white-haired girl have been behind this? Or some unknown third party?

Asking about something like this... you don't know if would be wise. And yet... every time she opens her mouth, the dissonance is there, grating against your ears and your mind. It's definitely something to investigate.

She smiles in a way that seems out of place on her smooth, unlined face. "Let me be the first to welcome you to Gensokyo, stranger. I'm Fujiwara no Mokou." The young woman—Mokou—walks across the room, to stand beside you. She crouches down and reaches into her back pocket to pull out a pack of cigarettes. After shaking it a little, Mokou holds it out to you. It sits there in her pale hand along with her own unasked question.

——

How do you introduce yourself?

[ ] With your name. It would not foolish to reveal too much information now—she saved your life, of course, but that's not a valid reason to spill your guts. At the same time, you owe your life to this woman. At the very least, you can tell her your name.

[ ] With your purpose. You are a hired knife, and you are seeking your master. Wasting time dancing around the issue is something you despise. Maybe you can cow her into giving you assistance. It's worked before.

[ ] With your goal. You're lost, and you need to return home—people are waiting for you. Assassins are not smiled upon in many circles, and you feel that the same assumption would apply here, but you don't see any harm in telling her this much.

——

After that, what do you ask her? (Basically, the first three questions you'd like to ask Mokou about pretty much anything you'd like. A note: how you word these questions (or specify how they are asked and what other miscellaneous comments these write-ins may contain) may or may not inform Mister Whaler's characterization.)

——

Right. Names. How do you feel about giving Mister Whaler here one? I know most CYOAs don't name their MCs but I feel it'll be difficult for me to write dialogue after a certain point if I keep on dancing around the name issue. I would like to give him one, but... seeing as this is a Choose Your Own Adventure, I feel I owe it to the voters to choose the name, if I'm going to play it this way. We don't have to drop his name right now, but I just want to put this on the table. This link (dishonored.wikia.com/wiki/User:Blood_Ox/Sandbox) contains the names of all the assassins that can be summoned in the DLCs. I guess you can toss a name in with your vote... Yeah, forgive me, friends...

Also, where do you get your images? Took me a while to find a nice, non-porn-y picture of Mokou that was of a decent size and quality.
No. 178078
[x] With your name.
She probably saved our life.
As for the name itself, Fisher perhaps?
No. 178079
[X] With your goal. You're lost, and you need to return home—people are waiting for you. Assassins are not smiled upon in many circles, and you feel that the same assumption would apply here, but you don't see any harm in telling her this much.

Yeah, I'm not ready to give out our name just yet.

We're playing an assassin, a master of stealth and subterfuge. We're a man who values his anonymity whom has just awoken in an unknown location with a girl whom despite saving us is still a relative stranger. We more than anyone know that being overly trusting based on just first impressions can be costly later.

Revealing anything at all about ourselves, especially something as personal as our name should be an important moment saved for someone we've gotten to know and really trust.

Which isn't to say we can't grow attached to someone and reveal more about ourselves later, but being so trusting after just a first meeting doesn't seem in character for a guy in our particular profession.
No. 178080
[X] With your goal. You're lost, and you need to return home—people are waiting for you. Assassins are not smiled upon in many circles, and you feel that the same assumption would apply here, but you don't see any harm in telling her this much.

I agree with what >>178079 said.

What I'm wondering, will our experiences in Gensokyo possibly change our views on being an assassin?
No. 178081
[x] With your name. It would not foolish to reveal too much information now—she saved your life, of course, but that's not a valid reason to spill your guts. At the same time, you owe your life to this woman. At the very least, you can tell her your name.
-[x] Fisher

At least be courteous and give her a name.

You can try safebooru if you want some non-porny pictures.
No. 178082
[X] With your goal. You're lost, and you need to return home—people are waiting for you. Assassins are not smiled upon in many circles, and you feel that the same assumption would apply here, but you don't see any harm in telling her this much.



>>178077
I think most people use the boorus for images. Can't point out any specific ones since I rarely post images.


>>178079
Well, as an assassin we are probably used to lying through out teeth and making it completely believable, not to mention we likely have a truckload of fake identities for every occasion.
We can just make up a fake name and go with it.

I only skimmed through it a bit, but with a few exception (like Corvo and Piero), it seems most names in that link are from the British isles, with the other two being Italian. So how about something Italian?

I suggest Benigno for maximum irony. (Same root as "benign", i.e. it means "kind" or "friendly".)
No. 178083
If we use a fake name it should be a famous name like Corvo as something of a test. It makes sense IC as if she recognizes the name it means we're still near the isles, and if she doesn't get it we're still hiding our true identity.

We should probably be clever in how we phrase our conversation with Mokou to squeeze as much info out of her while making ourselves look as inconspicuous as possible. She's already implied wherever we are they get a lot of outsiders, so she'd probably write us off as another confused tourist if we play the part right.

The only trick question I can guess off the top of my head is:
[X]-"I'm in a hurry to get back, could you point me towards the harbor?"

This furthers the idea we're a clueless nobody while getting questions answered about the geography of the region. Will also probably get Mokou to explain Gensokyou to us and how we can't just walk out.

She's stripped us down so she's probably seen our assassin gear so we can't pass ourselves off as an average tourist. Could we pass ourselves off as law enforcement or a hunter?
No. 178084
>>178083
Eh, using "Corvo" as a name is risky as it is like saying "hello, I am a Whaler".
If nobody gets it, we're fine. If they do get it, we might be in deep shit.
We're better off mentioning it in a conversation and seeing how she reacts.

Asking for something like the way to the harbor or just any landmark we're familiar with would do fine.

A for our gear, what did we have besides a sword, a small custom crossbow and a weird mask?
It's not as if we couldn't bullshit our way out of that.
A sword is for self defense, the city we came from isn't exactly safe at night (which is true. No need to mention that we're the reason it's not safe).
As for the small crossbow, we could say we worked as a rat-catcher.
The wrist crossbow is fast and compact, which is perfect for crawling through tight spaces hunting for rats, and the mask and thick clothes are part of our protective gear to protect us from diseases and cornered rats trying to eat out face.

That is assuming we don't have (or at the very least, she hasn't seen) any really suspicious things like exploding bolts or other strange contraptions.
Poisons are fine. It's for killing rats, you know.
No. 178085
>>178084
We might be able to pass the sword and crossbow off as for self defense if that's all we have.

But if I recall correctly a whaler captured by the overseers used some sort of suicide poison in a hidden needle in his glove. If we have anything like that hidden on us it'll be hard to explain away.

Op, What's our inventory look like?
No. 178086
>>178085
That's why I said "assuming we don't have any really suspicious things".

I mean, if we're in full assassin gear with hidden knives, poisoned needles, lock picks, and everything short of a name tag saying "HI, MY NAME IS (insert name here) AND I WILL BE YOUR ASSASSIN THIS EVENING", there's no explaining it away.
No. 178088
[x] With your name. It would not foolish to reveal too much information now—she saved your life, of course, but that's not a valid reason to spill your guts. At the same time, you owe your life to this woman. At the very least, you can tell her your name.
[x] Fisher
No. 178093
[X] With your goal. You're lost, and you need to return home—people are waiting for you. Assassins are not smiled upon in many circles, and you feel that the same assumption would apply here, but you don't see any harm in telling her this much.
I believe this'll be our best bet. We could receive help, but not risk revealing too much about ourselves. This is a strange place we've never seen before. Best be cautious.
No. 178097
[x] With your name. It would not foolish to reveal too
much information now—she saved your life, of
course, but that's not a valid reason to spill your
guts. At the same time, you owe your life to this
woman. At the very least, you can tell her your name.
[x] Fisher
No. 178098
[x] With your name. It would not foolish to reveal too much information now—she saved your life, of course, but that's not a valid reason to spill your guts. At the same time, you owe your life to this woman. At the very least, you can tell her your name.

Did everyone forget to read this part?
>After that, what do you ask her? (Basically, the first three questions you'd like to ask Mokou about pretty much anything you'd like. A note: how you word these questions (or specify how they are asked and what other miscellaneous comments these write-ins may contain) may or may not inform Mister Whaler's characterization.)

Anyway, I'm gonna ask the writer to please skip the Gensokyo exposition somehow since we all already know it.
As for questions,

[x] Can I get a smoke?

Even in near-death, one must make time to look cool.
No. 178099
>>178098
It's only "cool" when you never have to worry about tar buildup screwing up your ability to breathe or never suffering from the ill-effects of tobacco, which oddly enough fits Mokou quite well.

We on the other hand are an assassin that still requires physical fitness in his line of work, which tobacco use will certainly not help in.
No. 178100
[x] With your name. It would not foolish to reveal too much information now—she saved your life, of course, but that's not a valid reason to spill your guts. At the same time, you owe your life to this woman. At the very least, you can tell her your name.
[x] Fisher
No. 178102
You know considering the consensus for names seems to be "Fisher", do you think that's a last name? Samuel Fisher? Or is that too blatant a name drop from Splinter Cell?
No. 178104
>>178098
Well, not so much forgot about as much as I don't think we have much to go on for now to ask questions about. Except, of course, the generic questions: "Who are you?" "Where am I?" "What the hell was that thing?" Favorite color? Capital of Assyria? Air-speed of an unladen swallow?)
There is of course the "trick question" of asking for the way back to whatever landmark we choose to use, but besides that... I don't know.


Also, she's already offering us a smoke. We don't really need to ask for it.
>She crouches down and reaches into her back pocket to pull out a pack of cigarettes. After shaking it a little, Mokou holds it out to you.
No. 178108
You wouldn't normally hand your name out to someone you just met—if this was Dunwall, you'd sooner dance in the middle of Holger Square, chanting 'I'm a spell-casting heretical murderer-for-hire' at the top of your lungs—but Mokou saved your life, and tended to your wounds. Even you have standards.

"My name is Fisher." You take a single cigarette. Mokou looks like she's going to ask something else but seems to decide against it. Your answer seems to satisfy her... and is good enough for now.

You turn the white cylinder over in your fingers. It looks very... neat. Machine-made, definitely, which is a little surprising. Ever since the blockades began and the factories closed, the cigarettes were all smoked or bartered away. The only ones you'd had for a long time were the ones you rolled yourself, or to be more precise, the ones you bartered for from your comrades. You've always been horrid at rolling the stupid things.

Not that you smoked frequently. The smell of tobacco could stick to your uniform like nothing else, and for an assassin that was far from ideal.

You are about to ask for a lighter when Mokou snaps her fingers. A burst of orange light blossoms from her fingertips, accompanied by the muted whoomph of displaced air. When your vision returns a moment later, you realize that the end of your cigarette has been lit. Your eyes move from the cigarette in your hands to the tongue of flame dancing at the end of Mokou's index finger. She chuckles softly at the expression on your face and then shakes her hand. It's not all that surprising when you realize that Mokou's hand comes out completely unscathed.

Witchcraft. If you had not just been spat out by the Void itself (or if you didn't possess sorceries of your own), you might have exhibited a stronger response than raising your eyebrows and taking a puff from the cigarette. It was obvious that strange things were afoot in this Gensokyo place, what with its giant ghoul-faced spiders; witches were another story entirely.

"I know you have about a thousand questions right now... but you must be starving." What did you last eat, before coming here? A tin of potted whale meat spread onto some crusty bread, washed down with some rotgut you bought from a Dead Eel. And how long was it since then? You honestly could not say. "I think I've got some leftovers, but before that..." Mokou stands up and moves over to one of the paper doors. Behind the door seems to be a pantry or closet of some sort. Among the sacks and jars and other miscellaneous things, you see your sword leaning against a crate. Your boots and mask sit nearby as well.

"Your things are in here." She picks up a large leather knapsack sitting atop the same crate and tosses it to you. "I took the liberty of washing your clothes as well. Can't have you walking around in your underwear, after all... and I doubt you'd fit into anything I could lend you." She waves away your attempts to thank her. "You can thank me by not trying to get yourself killed again... and by putting some clothes on." With that she walks out of the room, letting the sliding door clatter behind her.

As soon as she leaves you stand up. You ignore the pain and slip out of the bedroll. You then take your trousers and shirt from the knapsack and pull them on. It is surprising how clean they are: aside from some neatly-made stitching, there's no sign that they were the bloody rags they were before. With that done, you sit cross-legged on the ground, and search through the knapsack.

All your things are here, though some of the pouches are stained with the spider beast's dried ichor. As far as you can tell Mokou hasn't gone through anything, not even through your coat pockets. It makes you feel a little relieved. In spite of that, you still wonder how you'll explain your admittedly outlandish garb away. You suppose that you will cross that bridge when you get to it.

The white-haired woman returns a minute or so later, setting a tray laden with meat skewers and a tea set on a short wooden table. You cannot identify what sort of meat it is, but the meal smells delicious. Mokou gestures for you to join her, and you do so.

"I hope you like yakitori." A thoughtful expression crosses her face as you pick one up. "What're you supposed to say to outsiders...? Er, bone appertif?" You shoot her a blank look. She returns it by shrugging her shoulders. There is a mildy apologetic look on her face as she lights a cigarette.

Despite your misgivings—the last meat skewers you've seen were the ones people made out of plague rats—the meat skewer is actually quite delicious. There's no milk or sugar to put into the tea, but the blend is pleasant enough on its own. When was the last time you had the ability to sit down and sip at a nice cup of tea like this? You really cannot say.

Mokou's been silent the entire time, her gaze fixed on the wispy smoke trailing up from her burning cigarette.

"Look, Miss—"

"Mokou."

"Beg pardon?"

"Nobody calls me Miss. Mokou's fine."

"Alright then, Mokou. I'd like to get back home as soon as possible. Do you know where I can book passage for a ship to Gristol?" Mokou turns to look at you. She considers your question—loaded as it was—with more than a little incredulity on her face.

"We're quite far away from the ocean, and I've never heard of a country named Gristol. How did you enter...?" You feel your unease grow, but keep it from changing your placidly curious expression. Mokou stops herself and shakes her head. "Never mind."

A thoughtful and mildly troubled expression crosses her face. She mutters something to herself—you catch her saying something like 'too early for her to be messing with outsiders'. Her mutterings abate after a moment, and she turns to you again. "I'm not sure you understand the situation you're in. It's my fault, really..."

Mokou closes her eyes, and for a long moment is silent. When you're about to ask her what's wrong, she launches into what you can only describe as the most fantastical story you've heard in a long, long while.

Your white-haired rescuer speaks of the land you're in—Gensokyo, The Land of Fantasy. For thousands of years it was a wild land haunted by youkai—spirits and monsters and other such night-things—and those brave humans who dared to fight them.

Mokou's story was concise but informative: she spoke of how the unceasing march of rationality and secularism threatened to extinguish them utterly. In response, man and youkai joined efforts and created the Great Hakurei Barrier, creating a realm separate from the rest of the world.

By the time she finishes, your head is spinning. You don't know where to start, what to even think... Where exactly did that black-eyed bastard send you?

"So, that thing that attacked me..."

"The tsuchigumo?"

"Yes. That... thing." You don't want to even try discerning what that means, or how to pronounce the word without looking the fool. "It was a youkai?" It's obvious by now, but you need to hear her say it out loud. The final nail in the coffin, so to speak. You're no stranger to the strange, but you've just listened to a very strange tale, and even though you've enough proof, you're still plagued by doubt.

"Yep." If she notices your unease, Mokou does not comment on it. "You don't see them come down from the mountains often. Guess that bastard was plain hungry. Now that I think about it, I was looking for that one." Mokou reaches with one pale hand, picks up one of the skewers that you haven't eaten and takes a bite. "Guess you found it first. You should count yourself lucky that I was around when you stumbled on him."

"I suppose I do."

"Hrmph." Mokou rolls her eyes again. A lull in the conversation ensues—Mokou is lighting another cigarette, but you decline as she offers you another one—as you ponder what you've just learned, and lets you formulate your next question.

[ ] Inquire about the monster that attacked you, and why she was looking for it.

[ ] Ask her about leaving Gensokyo. Surely there's a way out of this Hakurei Barrier.

[ ] Ask her about herself. She doesn't seem like a spirit or a youkai...

[ ] Write in?

——

This update feels pretty 'meh' to me, so I apologize if you feel the same way about it. Thanks again, friends, for all your advice, and reading your discussions about what to do and such is really such a joy! I hope I can provide more material for such discussions as this CYOA continues.
No. 178109
Here's Fisher's current inventory and powers.

Inventory


1 Whaler uniform: It's your organization's calling card. The Dead Eels have their tattoos and gaff hooks, the Hatters their ridiculous hats and the Whalers have their industrial gas masks and whaler leathers. Daud kits his men well: your overcoat is reinforced with a industrial-strength synthetic material, the boots muffle your footsteps and you've enough pockets and pouches to last you two lifetimes.

Sword: Standard issue among the Whalers. Stick 'em with the pointy end.

Dagger: Has a handsomely decorated oxbone hilt. Weighted for throwing. Can easily fit up a sleeve or boot.

1 Wristbow: You've lodged bolts in the eyes of quite a few unlucky sods with this well-crafted weapon. Its design makes it better for close or mid-range fighting—you can even use it as a sort of motorized stabbing weapon—though you have spent your own money on increasing the range and accuracy of your own wristbow.

18 bolts: steel-tipped and reinforced for extra durability. When fired from your wristbow, it can reliably punch a hole in a man's skull at fifty paces.

4 sleeping darts: Potent and very expensive. Will knock out a grown man for hours.

1 explosive dart: A small amount of whale oil lies within the shaft of this bolt. They are designed to create a localized but powerful explosion at the point of impact.

2 chokedust grenades: They hamper breathing and water the eyes. Good for making getaways, or creating an advantage in a fight.

suicide pin, hidden in a secret pocket in your right glove: contains poison distilled from the blue-green algae native to the Flooded District. It's said to be very painful, but death comes quickly.

maintenance kit: a pouch full of simple and portable tools to maintain all your weapons and a few replacement parts for your wristbow. There's even a sewing kit with spools of different types of thread in there, for mending your uniform—or stitching up a wound in a pinch.

first aid kit, partially used: Currently contains two single-use packets of hemostatic powder, a bloodied roll of gauze dressing, and one dose of laudanum.

2 bone charms: You carry two of the strange, whispering bits of whale bone on you. One is kept in a secret pocket in your overcoat and the other you wear clipped to your belt.

100 Regent-minted coins: Mostly in the form of coins of ten or five. They are tightly packed within a pouch so that they would not jingle as you move.

Powers


Arcane Bond: The covenant with Daud as his Whaler means you've been granted magical powers (tetherings and transversals) and other supernatural characteristics (resistance to some poisons, inhuman endurance, etc). The true extent of these powers is unknown to you, your colleagues and maybe even Daud himself.

Transversal: Short or long-range teleportation. It is also known as 'blinking'. It requires picturing a place in your mind—near or far—and imagining yourself there. It is usable in combat, but blinking more than a few times in quick succession nauseates the caster greatly. You may also perform long-range transversals; in your case, however, you must perform direct reconnaissance before transversing there or you must be intimately familiar with your destination.

Tethering: You encase your target in a halo of greenish light, pulling them towards you till they hang before you, utterly helpless. You are also able to pick up smaller objects within range (ten meters or so for man-sized targets, twice as much for smaller items) with significantly less theatrics.

Vitality: The dark magic that suffuses your body has strengthened your constitution. You are able to get through fights carrying wounds that would incapacitate or kill others. Combined with your grueling training, this makes you and your fellow Whalers fearsome indeed.

Agility: You run faster and jump higher than normal men. The difference is not so great as to seem superhuman, though you can certainly make some impressive standing jumps.

——

Regarding the bone charms: You can go onto the wiki and suggest two choices, or leave it up to me... yeah, I hope this is adequate! Also the title on my image was too long...
No. 178110
[x] Ask her about herself. She doesn't seem like a spirit or a youkai...

So, Sam Fisher? Anyways, the update was passable, it did its job of keeping the narration going.
No. 178111
The update was fine. The obligatory Gensokyo exposition segment is always a bit tedious. Tedious as it is though, I'd like to get some info on what kind of Gensokyo we've landed in. Is it a more lighthearted one like Keymaster's or a death world like Kahi's?

[X]-Inquire about leaving Gensokyo
[X]-How organized are these youkai? Are they all wandering monsters or are there intelligent factions?
[X]-Rundown on the local factions.

I'd ask more about leaving, but I doubt it'll be easy as walking out if The Outsider wants us here. Chances are shit's about to hit the fan somewhere, and we're going to get sucked into the center of it. Anticipating that, best learn as much about the landscape as we can while we've got a breather.
No. 178112
[X] Ask about the Local Factions
It'd be best to know so we don't step on one guy's toes and get a thousand others after us.
No. 178113
[X]-Inquire about leaving Gensokyo
[X]-How organized are these youkai? Are they all wandering monsters or are there intelligent factions?
[X]-Rundown on the local factions.
No. 178114
[X]-How organized are these youkai? Are they all wandering monsters or are there intelligent factions?
[X]-Rundown on the local factions.

Since it's apparent that we can't just up and go home, it's good to know a bit about the lay of the land.
No. 178117
[X] Ask about the Local Factions

As for the bone charm, can we have Acrobatic Killer: Quick Dodge?
No. 178119
For bone charms I want:

Acrobatic Killer: Quick Dodge - Ability to dodge bolts/arrows

Arcane Assassin: Void Channel - 20% increased duration for powers, increased range for Blink and Windblast
No. 178120
[X]-Inquire about leaving Gensokyo
[X]-How organized are these youkai? Are they all
wandering monsters or are there intelligent factions?
[X]-Rundown on the local factions.
No. 178123
Acrobatic Killer sounds like a good bone charm to me, as if we do end up in a major conflict we'll be able to dodge danmaku easier.

But for the second I want Spirit Water. Even with a small boost our powers are nothing compared to the big power players, and their powers apparently have no limited magic reserves like us. We'll need to be able to replenish our reserves quickly, and nothing's easier than taking a sip of water. If we get in a struggle it'll become an issue of quantity over quality for us, spamming what cantrips we have to avoid getting crushed by the godlike power the upper tier youkai will no doubt be tossing around freely.
No. 178125
>>178123
I agree with this. We might be able to find a container to haul around as well, basically becomimg a replacement for the mana potion which name I can not remember.
No. 178126
>>178125
>find a container to hold water

It's not that hard to find a container to hold a (drinkable) liquid, which is commonly referred to as "a bottle".
No. 178128
>>178126
A bottle? Damn, why have I never thought of this before?!
I've had to carry water in my hands this entire time. Not very useful, can only go like, 10 steps.
No. 178150
[X]-Inquire about leaving Gensokyo
[X]-How organized are these youkai? Are they all
wandering monsters or are there intelligent factions?
[X]-Rundown on the local factions.

I like the sound of quick dodge and spirit water. I don't think spirit channel is quite as useful because we have a more limited selection of powers compared to corvo. Also I believe the mana potions were Sokolov-something or others.
No. 178154
>>178150
Mana potions are called "Piero's Spiritual Remedy" and Health potions are "Sokolov's Elixir".
No. 178160
>>178128

Hands??? I've been using my lap this entire time!
No. 178178
You watch as Mokou stands up to slide the door open. When she steps back, you realize that you're still in that bamboo forest you woke up in. The clearing surrounding her house is considerably neater, though you do see evidence of what appears to be large bonfires, here and there.

"That's better." Mokou sits down on what appears to be a wooden walkway of some sort—a porch?—and quietly enjoys the the breeze. The wind is cool, dispelling a humid, almost muggy atmosphere you didn't realize was hanging within the little room. Soon it is pleasantly cool.

As you enjoy the breeze you realize that the strange double-voice that plagues your conversation is... fading, for lack of a better word. She just spoke in 'your' language, with only a hint of that strangeness that was confusing you moments ago.

If you concentrate, however, you can still 'hear' her speak in her native tongue. She gives no sign that she's aware that it's even happening: whatever spell you've been subjected to must be growing stronger, or something to that effect. Again, you have to wonder who put it on you. You get a feeling Mokou would have mentioned it at this point, had she been the one behind this strange happening.

So who could have done it? The Outsider?

"How long was I out?" You defer to pursue a more comfortable question a moment later. Certainly, your wounds have healed some, but they sill hurt quite a bit. As far as you cam tell, no time seems to have passed from when you arrived in Gensokyo to this very moment, but that in itself would be ludicrous.

"A... day, I think." Mokou notes your incredulous expression with a shrug. A whole day wasted, when every second was worth its weight in gold. You've never wasted so much time before, not since you joined the Whalers.

Though you've never been thrown headfirst into the void, either. Neither have you fought a spirit—or whatever that thing was. To take your mind off things you speak to Mokou once more, recalling something she'd said when talking about Gensokyo.

"You mentioned other outsiders. I take it that I'm far from the first person from the... Outside to arrive here?"

"Yeah. We get a few of human outsiders every few years, though none of them just pop up so far from the barrier like you did." Mokou gets that far-off look in her eyes again as she speaks. "More often than not, they've got no magic and they're pretty clueless. A lot of them do something really stupid and end up as youkai food. The lucky ones are those who cross paths with someone who would give a crap about a normal human and points them in the direction of the village."

"Do any of them manage to leave Gensokyo?" She looks like she's been waiting for this question.

"Yeah, most who live long enough do. You'd have to go to the Hakurei shrine if you wanted to leave. Letting outsiders leave is one of the shrine maiden's duties, after all." That sounds promising, and yet you can't help but detect a little doubt in her tone.

"Where is this shrine?"

"It's on the other side of Gensokyo, right on the edge of the barrier. It's a good distance away from the human village, but most youkai know better than to try to attack anyone taking the road to get there."

"While we're speaking of youkai, how organized are they? Are there any... well, groups, or tribes? Or are they all like that... tsuchigumo?" Mokou gives you an inscrutable look before she continues.

"Most of Gensokyo's youkai are as smart as animals... and aren't much more than that." As she speaks, the woman puts out what's left of her cigarette in an ashtray, and lights another one. The ashtray is packed full with ashes and cigarette butts. "They're not smart enough to organize in any meaningful way, or do anything past trying to kill you if you step on your territory—which, by the by, you did." She frowns at you, and you have the grace to appear a little contrite. "So that's a lesson for next time. Though I certainly hope there won't be a next time, in your case." There's an awkward pause for a moment, which both of you tactfully ignore. Mokou glosses over it by continuing to lecture you.

"Then you have the more intelligent youkai, like the ones who helped establish the barrier. Most outsiders wouldn't be able to most of them apart from humans, at first."

"So they can take human form." You've heard the stories: spirits wearing the faces of beautiful women or harmless old codgers trying to steal the minds of the good, Stricture-loving everyman. Though it seems that in Gensokyo, they're anything but stories.

"Yeah, most of them. If you're gonna ask why, you should ask someone else. I'm not big on that sort of thing. What I do know is that youkai—intelligent or otherwise—tend to be solitary critters. They don't really gather in big groups unless there's a party or when something big happens. Sure, there are a few exceptions... for example, you have your tengu up on Youkai Mountain." You wonder if you'll be able to remember all these names by the time Mokou's finished explaining things to you. It doesn't seem that pertinent: it's not like you plan to stay here for long, after all. "They and the kappa are some of the closest things we've got to youkai 'organizations', though they don't do much aside from chasing intruders from their territory."

"When dealing with youkai in general, my suggestion is to be cautious, or avoid them entirely. Sure, some won't gobble you up on sight, but there are plenty of youkai who would just stomp on you without giving you a second glance, or make you their new plaything till they get bored."

"And when they get bored?"

"Most would probably eat you." Mokou says this rather disturbing fact without batting an eyelash. To your credit, you don't react past raising one eyebrow.

"That's nice."

Mokou then rattles off a few names of other local power players who would count as representing or being part of a faction—including a 'vampire' (whatever that was—as far as you could tell that means some sort of blood-sucking revenant) recluse who lived in a mansion by the Misty Lake, a holy woman who led a temple dedicated to some unfamiliar sect, a couple of goddesses squatting on the tengu's mountain (you nearly choke on your tea when Mokou names them as such) and other such figures. You're glad for the information, but it's quite vague, almost irritatingly so. What few questions you ask gives you little information past Mokou's generalizations.

"Really, Fisher, you shouldn't have to bother with all of this. If you're going to try and leave Gensokyo, all you have to do is go down to the village. When you're there, you just wait for Hakurei to show up and ask her to help you get home."

"You never know what could happen." Mokou raises her eyebrows again but doesn't say anything more.

"Right. On the other hand, the humans in Gensokyo can generally be trusted. Aside from some local grudges between families they look out for each other. There are even a few outsiders who've made a living for themselves here." Considering you've just been told that most outsiders end up as youkai food or worse, that comes as another surprise. "Hey, some decide to stay."

"I see. So it would be fair to say that humans—especially outsiders like myself—get the short end of the stick here, in Gensokyo." She nods. You shrug your shoulders and sigh. "Isn't that pleasant?"

"With any luck, this place shouldn't be your problem for much longer, no more than a few days at most. The doctor said that you should be able to travel tomorrow. Lucky for you, my friend Keine should be here by then. She can get you to the village. From there it should be easy to get to the Hakurei shrine."

"Your friend?"

"Yes. Her name's Keine Kamishirasawa." Another nigh-incomprehensible name. "She's the self-appointed defender of the human village... when she's not teaching history to the local brats."

"I see." Something Mokou said strikes you as being a little odd. "Escorted by a schoolteacher through a land of spirits and monsters? That's comforting." You try to inject some levity into your tone, but her expression grows stony.

"Keine's a schoolteacher, but she could thrash you senseless with both hands tied behind her back." You wouldn't peg Mokou as the lying sort... or as the type to exaggerate things. That still doesn't convince you fully, but as she said before: Gensokyo is very different from the Outside, much less the Empire of the Isles.

Nightfall is approaching quickly, or so the sky tells you. It's dyed a brilliant shade of orange, streaked with gold and a thousand other colors. You've lived in smoggy Dunwall for so long that you've almost forgotten what a proper sunset looks like. The sight is quite beautiful, and you take your time appreciating it.

After a period of silence, Mokou stands up and stretches languidly.

"I'm heading out." The white-haired woman steps down from the porch and begins to walk away without looking back at you. "I trust that you can keep from doing anything stupid." She stops, then looks back at you. "If you're hungry, there are still some skewers out back. Just heat them up on the fire... and don't burn my house down." When you nod, the strange woman tucks her thumbs in her pockets and walks off, disappearing into the undergrowth.

You are alone again, and you have to wonder: where is she going? You have the sudden crazy urge to follow her; her stories of a land of fantasy inspires a burning curiosity, not to mention Mokou herself. She's... well, you haven't met anyone quite like her in a long time, and you've a thousand questions. Then, you remember how close to death you just were little over a day ago. The painfully cliched idiom—cats and what their curiosity gets them—comes to mind.

And yet, the desire to find out more is there.

What do you do for the rest of the evening?

[ ] Follow Mokou into the bamboo forest.

[ ] Eat dinner and sleep early.

[ ] Practice your tethering with some small objects from your knapsack. After that, try a transversal or two.

[ ] Go over your weapons and equipment, and make any repairs as you deem necessary.

[ ] Write in?

——

Quick Dodge and Spirit Water it is, though let me warn you now I'm not going to strictly follow the game's mechanics regarding magic (after all I don't know how any stomach could ingest half a dozen bottles of plague elixir in less than an hour.) Also, sorry about the delay. I've been busy with things, and playing through the Dishonored DLCs for various tidbits for the story. Hope the update's worth the delay, friends.

[spoiler]Also I spelled Keine's surname wrong like thrice. She's great but her hat and her surname are just silly.[/spoilers]
No. 178186
[X] Go over your weapons and equipment, and make any repairs as you deem necessary.
>after all I don't know how any stomach could ingest half a dozen bottles of plague elixir in less than an hour.
Magic!
Probably.
No. 178187
[x] Follow Mokou into the bamboo forest.
What could go wrong?
No. 178189
[X] Go over your weapons and equipment, and make any repairs as you deem necessary.

On the one hand, we have ADVENTURE!, and on the other we are boring and actually stay alive and out of trouble.

...Meh, whatever.


>after all I don't know how any stomach could ingest half a dozen bottles of plague elixir in less than an hour
Half a dozen bottles isn't that troublesome. If each bottle is, say, half a litre then that's three litres. You'll need to piss badly after drinking that much, but you can do it. Especially if you have a whole hour.
Liquids go through your system pretty fast, after all, since they don't have to stop and be digested first.

It's when you drink half a dozen bottles in less than a minute that things start getting weird.
No. 178191
[x] Go over your weapons and equipment, and make any repairs as you deem necessary.

>It's when you drink half a dozen bottles in less than a minute that things start getting weird.
Good thing we're not being speedran then.
No. 178193
>>178189

Do have to wonder if you can overdose on plague elixir. Now that would be sad.
No. 178194
[x] Practice your tethering with some small objects from your knapsack. After that, try a transversal or two.
>teleporting
>in the forest of the lost
Should be amusing.
No. 178197
[X] Go over your weapons and equipment, and make any repairs as you deem necessary.
No. 178199
[X] Go over your weapons and equipment, and make any repairs as you deem necessary.
[X] Practice your tethering with some small objects from your knapsack. After that, try a transversal or two.

It's always best to be prepared and ready. Practicing our abilities to keep them sharp and repairing our weapons and equipment will allow us a better chance in taking on anything that attacks us.

It's certainly much better use of our time than walking around an unfamiliar land at night, unfamiliar with any potential dangers.
No. 178202
[X] Go over your weapons and equipment, and make any repairs as you deem necessary.
[X] Practice your tethering with some small objects from your knapsack. After that, try a transversal or two.
No. 178225
[X] Go over your weapons and equipment, and make any repairs as you deem necessary.

It's pick something to do for the rest of the evening, picking two will just mean we do less with each option.
No. 178227
[X] Go over your weapons and equipment, and make any repairs as you deem necessary.

If it's between the two options I'll choose this. Not sure who's skulking around in the dark, and if it's a choice of being seen repairing what appears to be hunting equipment and practicing spells I'll choose repairs. I'd like to keep the facade we're a relatively harmless tourist going as long as possible.
No. 178286
You decide against indulging your curiosity and slide the door closed. With the temptation out of your sight (and hopefully your mind) you begin to root through the knapsack that Mokou gave you. It's a little strange to think that all your earthly possessions in this strange land is contained within this sturdy little bag... not that a Whaler had much else in the way of personal belongings in the first place.

Aside from your weapons and your clothes, all you ever owned were your earnings from the jobs you were given. The stash you had maintained for years—nearly six thousand coin (in valuables and coinage) locked in the back room of a half-drowned office building in the middle of the Flooded District—couldn't be farther away right now.

The bag is emptied onto the floor, and you begin taking inventory. The pouches you'd normally strap onto your overcoat or belt are emptied and set aside. As you go, you stack them in a neat pile arranged by their condition. Luckily for you the most you need to do wash one or two of them: the ichor that would have otherwise ruined them doesn't seem to act like any sort of blood you've seen: it flakes off easily when you rub it with a finger, though it does nothing for the smell. When you are finished, you begin to pick out your weapons and ammunition, mentally tallying them up as you do so.

One sword, a dagger, one wristbow, ammunition for the former—standard and exotic—and two chokedust grenades. You've carried more equipment into the field, though this loadout is nothing to sniff at. Of course, you have no idea when you can restock your inventory. If ever, at that.

That doesn't make you feel any better so you decide to focus on the task at hand. There's little else that can be done at this point, after all. Your hand lingers against the worn handle of your dagger. After a moment you let your fingers slip around the carved oxbone hilt and pick it up. At this point, this weapon might as well be your talisman: you've had this dagger since before joining the Whalers, from when you were little more than another one of Dunwall's many mudlarks. You pick up the blade, and test it against the tip of your thumb. You nod with satisfaction and set the blade down.

Your sword is another story. Even after giving it a glance, you already know to open the pouch that contains your tools. After considering your selection, your hand hovers over the sharpening steel. You decide against it and take the whetstone in its place. Taking the sword in the other hand, you settle down and tend to the weapon in a way that can only be described as automatic. After so many years, honing a sword comes as naturally to you as breathing. The repetitive sounds of the stone rasping against metal, the smooth movements of your arm as it pumps up and down: it is all terribly familiar to you.

The only problem is the task requires hardly any thinking at all: as soon as you settle into the routine, you find those questions creeping up on you again. They haven't gotten any easier to think about, so you are almost glad to finish.

When you do so, you realize with a start that night has fallen outside... yet your vision hasn't been affected one bit. When you look overhead you see a lamp... floating of its own accord. For a moment you think about swatting it down, but think better of it. Mokou did say that magic was quite common—though not an everyday occurrence—in Gensokyo, but it's another thing to see the evidence itself. You didn't even notice the lamp coming on. You have to wonder at what other magic your host has around her home...

Staring at the lamp quickly becomes a waste of time, so you slip your sword back into its sheathe and take up your wristbow. It seems to be in perfect shape, though you take the time to disassemble it. In less than a minute—as you've been trained—the weapon lies in over a dozen pieces on the mat before you. The puzzle of coiled springs and miniature motors shine like a roll of newly minted coins in the lamplight. After a routine inspection you lubricate some of the smaller pieces and reassemble the weapon. There were a few kinks in the mechanisms that you wouldn't have caught otherwise, so you feel that the time you took inspecting the weapon was well spent.

Grabbing your coat, you pull two carved pieces of whale bone from their places and set them down on the mat. As soon as they leave your grasp the humming becomes audible. It is a soft raspy sound that grates against the back of your skull. The charms sing with voices that are just on the edge of intelligible, forming half-words that you can almost understand. You know not to listen too closely; you've heard the stories and know there's at least some truth to them.

You only own these bone charms due to a series of happy coincidences and a lot of dumb luck. What little power they offered you has saved you time and time again in the years that you've carried them. Despite that they never failed to make you a little uneasy. As always, you feel a little apprehension as you clip the charms onto your person, but the singing stops immediately.

Then, you inspect your uniform, or more precisely, what you aren't wearing at the moment. One thick overcoat, an industrial gas mask, two belts, a pair of fine boots and a pair of even finer gloves. You pick up your mask and turn it over in your hands. With dismay you note there's a small crack in the right lens. When you slip on the mask to check the damage, it doesn't hinder your vision in the slightest. Even so, a crack is a crack—you'd fail Thomas' weekly uniform inspection faster than you could blink. It would be simple back home, to pop the lens out of a spare mask or to discard this one entirely.

You're not sure if the mask will even be useful in this situation. The universal dread that your uniform inspires will not aid you here. The people of Dunwall feared the shiny lenses and dull leathers of the Whalers because of what what their presence promised, and that's only because your organization built its reputation with almost two entire decades of bloodletting. Walking around in full uniform would just make you more conspicuous, and that's the last thing you want.

Taking it all in—how varied your gear is, and yet how little you actually have—makes you feel a little glum. Considering what Mokou told you, you know that any sort of fight with the locals would most probably end badly. That's not to say you're a stranger to horrible odds, though you feel that you'd have a harder time outwitting a goddess than, say, some drunken watchmen and their arrogant officers.

Your stomach grumbles loudly as you pack up again. It seems that taking inventory and maintaining your weapons took longer than you thought. Well, Mokou did say that there was still some food to be had, so you find your way out of the house by recalling the path that she took before. Mokou's house is rather small, and the paper-thin sliding doors only contribute to this feeling of fragility that the house gives you.

What sort of woman lives here—fire-slinging witch or otherwise—if she doesn't even have a proper door to keep intruders out?

There's what appears to be an open-air kitchen directly behind the house. After searching around for a few minutes, you somehow manage to start the fire with a tinderbox. When you heat up the leftovers (without burning Mokou's house down) you go back inside and eat your fill. Thankfully your dinner is uneventful. From time to time you hear strange sounds outside the house—unfamiliar bird-calls and such—but nothing disturbs your meal.

After you are satisfied, you try to get some sleep.

How do you fare?

[ ] You fall asleep right away, and your rest is blessedly peaceful.

[ ] Sleep does not come easily, and you are haunted by very strange dreams.

[ ] You cannot sleep at all.

——

Sorry about the delay, mi amigos.
No. 178296
[X] Sleep does not come easily, and you are haunted by very strange dreams.
No. 178298
[x] You fall asleep right away, and your rest is blessedly peaceful.
No. 178310
[X] Sleep does not come easily, and you are haunted by very strange dreams.
No. 178314
[X] Sleep does not come easily, and you are haunted by very strange dreams.

Fine, let's have a dream sequence.
No. 178321
[x] Sleep does not come easily, and you are haunted by very strange dreams.
No. 178328
[x] Sleep does not come easily, and you are haunted by very strange dreams.

So OP, what's your update schedule? Are you trying to update every other day?
No. 178346
[X] Sleep does not come easily, and you are haunted by very strange dreams.

I like the mask simply because it looks pretty cool, but its probably not a good idea to look so suspicious.
No. 178349
>>178328

Yep! I'll try my best to update this story every other day.
No. 178354
[x] Sleep does not come easily, and you are
haunted by very strange dreams.

Eh, I don't care much either way when it comes to dream sequences, so let's just have one since the majority seems in favor of it.
No. 178355
>>178349
That's good to hear, but be sure to remember to give yourself some extra time if you need it. This thread always be here. Countless good writers have dropped their stories because they felt pressured by the "obligation" to update conflicting with real life issues.

Looking forward to see where you take us.
No. 178445
>>178355
This.
Stick to your schedule if you think you can, but we won't complain if you can't as long as you at least let us know. You don't even have to give a reason, just say "Busy. Can't update." or even "Dropping this, go away".
The worst is stories that you always hope might come back one day, so getting a straight answer is always better than false hope.
No. 178479
You have one of your usual nightmares. You dream that you are strapped to a table in a chapel of the Oracular Order. As always, one of the sisters stands above you. Her habit is trimmed with the markings of a senior augur: the gold trimming of her sleeves are stained with blood and viscera.

Behind her are the crimson drapes of the Abbey overlooking a dozen other tables, each with its own animal—hounds, cats and the occasional pig, all with their throats slit. Their bellies have been cut open, ropes of intestines curled out into the answers to the questions of the brass-faced Oracles.

Neither of you speak as you thrash and strain against the iron shackles. Even when your skin breaks and the blood flows freely, your restraints don't budge.

It doesn't work.

It never does.

The Abbey-woman remains silent as she walks around the table. She lopes like a hungry wolfhound, her brass face never leaving yours for a single moment. When she makes a single circuit around you, she begins again, tracing one gloved hand down your chest.

The Oracle's hand is cold, and her touch sends a shiver of disgust up and down your spine. She is prodding you in the way a butcher prods a carcass before cutting it up to sell at the market.

You study her mask, like you always do.The mask of an Oracle is quite unlike that of her Overseer brethren. Rather than a heavy-browed scowl, there are tears molded streaking down its cheeks; the lips are parted in a plea or a moan.

And yet it is the same: the brass is polished with clear pride and brand of the Abbey is set in the mask's high forehead. It is a proud symbol against the engulfing cosmic darkness, against heretics and witches—against men like you.

There is the clatter of metal as the blind woman selects a tool from the tray. Your gut wrenches in a horrible sensation of betrayal when you see that it is your knife.

The Oracle wraps her slender fingers around the oxbone hilt and raises it high. There is a ritualistic grace in how she moves—you can almost hear her muttering the Litany under her breath, as the mask turns to face you.

There is a moment when she holds both hands high, letting the candlelight sparkle off the edge of your blade.

It lasts for only a moment. Like an arrow released from the bow, she brings the flashing blade down into your flesh with a single blow. Just as she opens you up from your throat to your crotch—before the rats would otherwise crawl from the wound to tear at your face—the world dissolves in a mess of red and grey and Void-spat blue.

Eventually, a wave of darkness overwhelms your mind.

The next thing you see is a woman walking down one of Dunwall's streets. You are tailing her from the rooftops, slithering past chimneys and over the tumbling sea of tiles and bird shit, transversing across the yawning gaps with an ease you've never experienced before.

You don't know exactly where you are; every time you look down, you see a different street. At one moment you see the winding roads of the Estate District. When you look again, the stranger is walking down John Clavering Boulevard.

For a moment or two there is a street that you do not recognize at all: you see dirt roads flanked on either side by squat wooden buildings. Before you can get a good look, it changes again: the woman is now walking through the Flooded District, stepping over dead weepers and past river krusts like they aren't even there.

The woman walks past empty checkpoints and abandoned stalls, a parasol held overhead to block out the sun. The only sounds that can be heard is her feet upon the ground and of your own breathing as you continue to follow her.

You fix your gaze upon the woman in an attempt to identify her. It doesn't take you long to realize that she is utterly unknown to you: she's not one of your contacts, or one of your victims, or even someone you might have passed on the street in the past.

She is quite possibly one of the most stunning women you've ever seen. She cuts a fine figure in a dress of rich purple fabric. You see blonde hair that falls over her slender shoulders: in a way she seems to be the most vibrant thing on the empty street. When she looks up, a pair of violet eyes seem to shine up at you from the gloomy streets below.

When you look away, you see that the world has changed once more. On either side of her are the plague-dead, spilling into the street. They are forced out from storefronts, out of doorways, surging from every nook and cranny like floodwater from a poorly maintained levee. They are coming from every conceivable opening possible, and for a moment you wonder if the woman will be buried in them.

You watch with fascinated disgust as rats gnaw at exposed feet, or burrow through the off-white shrouds to get at the flesh beneath. The woman apparently thinks nothing of her surroundings; she doesn't give the slowly growing field of corpses so much as a glance, not even when they begin to turn the wide boulevard into little more than a flesh-choked alleyway.

It is a miracle, you think, that she's simply not swallowed up by the tide. Maybe it's only a matter of time before she's caught up in the putrefying flesh.

The thought unsettles you. Surely she could smell them rotting, see the rats skittering over the sackcloth... you want to warn her. But in the way that things happen in a dream, you know that you simply can't. You have to make do with tailing her.

When the street changes to Treaver's Close—you spot the familiar trio of whitewashed skulls—you see that she's been joined by a companion: another woman, though this one is considerably stranger.

Besides the style of her dress—long sleeves that cover her hands, the skirt with its unfamiliar cut—the newcomer is strange in other, more obvious ways.

For one thing, she to have a multitude of tails. They are long tufts of fur, not unlike a fox's. You spend a few moments trying to count them, or to verify you aren't just seeing things.

Then you notice that the cap that she wears is not merely shaped after some unfathomable trend: one of the protruding bits visibly twitches. Upon closer inspection they resemble the outline of animal ears—again, they remind you of those skittering orange-furred animals once you saw, lifetimes ago.

You go down on one knee, peering down at the corpse-choked street and at its two sole inhabitants.

Eventually, you find yourself picking the two of them apart, as if you were shadowing them on Daud's orders. It's clear that the taller woman (if she is even a woman) is the subordinate: you can read it in the way she walks slightly behind her companion with a studiously indifferent expression.

When the tailed woman makes what you can only assume is a report of some sort, the woman holding the parasol does nothing but incline her head, presumably in understanding. Although the fox-tail's body language reeks of urgency, the one with the parasol does not seem to share such emotions.

A fragment of the newcomer's speech floats up to your ears, and you strain to hear it.

"Mistress, I have already sealed the breach in the forest, but I have yet to find the intruder. I've never seen anything like—" Her voice fades away. You fail to hear anything else.

The woman with the parasol doesn't react past nodding her head. When she finishes, her companion bows deeply, then moves out of sight.

The woman is alone once more.

As if on queue she turns and looks up, right in your direction. Her eyes transfix you, pinning you like a butterfly to cork board.

"Hasn't anyone told you that it's rude to eavesdrop on a private conversation?" You can hear her plainly, as if she's standing right in front of you.

Even though her tone is light—almost teasing—those bright eyes are as cold as steel. Alarm bells go off in your head and you try to move away, transverse to some safe spot, to escape. A part of your mind, the part that houses instincts formed over millions of years, tells you to flee.

It's a futile effort.

"I cannot blame you for being so curious, but you should know better than letting yourself get caught." What is she talking about? You try to answer, to cut her off and explain yourself but the words do not form on your lips. "Really, I would expect better from what you've done so far... but I'm rambling." The woman shakes her head as if to reprimand herself. "It's useless to talk at this point. I will be seeing you soon, Outsider."

The woman's lips curl up into something like a smile, and raises one delicate hand. The gesture reminds you of a second, signalling the start of a duel.

When she brings her hand down, your vision explodes into a mess of violet and blue.

——

When you awake, you spend a minute or so lying there, recalling what you can. That was an uncommonly vivid dream, if it was one to begin with. Staring at the ceiling and listening to bird-song doesn't inspire any breathtaking revelations, so you decide to get up.

The door slides open as soon as you stumble to your feet, letting sunlight filter into the room. Mokou stands before you, clutching a cup of tea in one hand. Her hair is rumpled, the red-white ribbon is missing and there's a tired expression on her face. You recognize it well: it is—was?—common among your comrades, after a night's worth of knife-work or patrolling.

"You talk in your sleep." It seems that your host didn't particularly enjoy her night, wherever she went. There are bags under Mokou's eyes, and she grimaces. Her frown deepens when presses one hand to her side.

She quickly takes her hand away when she notices you staring.

"Keine'll be here soon. There's some breakfast for you, if you want it." When you mutter something that is supposed to be 'yes' or a 'good morning' or a 'I would love some breakfast'—you haven't really decided—she nods and slides the door shut.

After getting your bearings, you roll up the bedroll and leave it in one corner of the room. In the daylight, Mokou's house looks remarkably run down. You have to wonder how old it is. Idly, you try to imagine a family living here, though you don't know what kind of family your white-haired host would have in the first place.

When you join her in what you assume is the living room, you see that Mokou is tucking away into her breakfast, which a bowl of glutinous-looking grains, grilled fish and a bowl of some sort of broth—with a pair of... sticks. You sit down at the low table once more and stare down at the tray before you.

Where the spoon and fork would usually be is another pair of wooden sticks. It's obvious what they're for.

"How was your sleep last night?" Mokou speaks with her mouth full of the grains. She keeps her tone conversational, though there's a curious glint in her red eyes. She seems to be ignoring your plight, or doesn't seem to notice. Rather than answering right away you pick up a cup of the fragrant tea and take a sip.

It's nice, but it's just not what you want. You'd suck on a river krust and spit in the Lord Regent's face for a cup of good coffee right about now.

Maybe a pot.

——

How do you reply?

[ ] Speak the truth—you had an unsettling dream.

[ ] Deflect the question with some excuses.

[ ] Gloss over the question and ask what happened to her. She doesn't look too good.

[ ] Avoid the question entirely. Ask about those stick utensils—you have no idea how to use them.

[ ] Write-in?

——

Thank you for the kind words, friends, and apologies for the delay and the weak end to today's update. Still gotta find my sea-legs, feel out 'my' Gensokyo and such. I hope your weekends are all enjoyable so far!
No. 178481
[X] Avoid the question entirely. Ask about those stick utensils—you have no idea how to use them.


After having secrecy forced into us so long, being a Whaler, I don't think we'd just say "Oh, I had this weird dream" and explain all the details.
Let's instead just exaggerate, if that is even needed, our confusion about chopsticks.
Let's hope we can at least get a spoon or something. (Asian civilizations might not have had the same tableware as us westerners, but they did at least have similar utensils even if not used for the exact same purpose.)
No. 178482
[X] Avoid the question entirely. Ask about those stick utensils—you have no idea how to use them.

Good to have you back OP.

Yeah, we've been Daud's subordinate for too long to not know the weird vivid dreams usually have significance. It's best we avoid mentioning details about anything really until we get our bearings. So Yukari and Ran are coming for us? Greeeat.

>See you soon Outsider.

I wonder if Yukari understands the significance of that. I wonder what the Outsider's motives could be sending us to this place. I have no clue who'd win if The Outsider and Yukari threw down, so I wonder why he chose to send one of his servants here of all places and antagonize Yukari.
No. 178484
[X] Avoid the question entirely. Ask about those stick utensils—you have no idea how to use them.
No. 178488
[x] Avoid the question entirely. Ask about those stick utensils—you have no idea how to use them.

>Yukari-sama laying down the law.
Jeez, go easy on the poor guy, he almost died yesterday.
>>178482
The Outsider was Yukari all along, calling it now.
Or maybe Yuuka. Mugenkan seems like a fun holiday destination, right?
No. 178500
>>178488
Silly theories aside, the way it was capatalized seems to imply she knew what she was saying, who The Outsider is. However, I believe, simply she fucked up. She got the wrong guy. She thinks YOU are The Outsider, not some assassin who works through his powers.
In short be afraid of Yukari. She considers you a threat.
Oh also
[X] These damn sticks.
No. 178504
>>178500
>Fisher=The Outsider

If Yukari's mistaken us for The Outsider she's made a very big mistake. She's gravely underestimated TO's power if she expected Ran to be enough to find him. She might think he's some touhou type deity or an old magician passing out bits of his power if she thinks she can just walk up to him and smack him down.

As a near omnipotent being TO probably knew what everyone in Gensokyo could do when he sent us here so she likely doesn't scare him. If she finds him (aka he gets bored and decides to pop in on her) she's going to get a big surprise when he just won't go down... Or he'll just keep watching as Yukari hunts us down and never realizing we're just a lackey.

tldr: It looks like Yukari has fucked up big time and The Outsider's going to troll her no matter how this turns out.

Hey OP it got a question, what happens to Runes when you get a power upgrade in universe? Do they disappear or are they just stored away never to be seen again?
No. 178505
[x] Avoid the question entirely. Ask about those stick utensils—you have no idea how to use them.

Regarding the possible mistake, I can't imagine Yukari mistaking Fisher for the Outsider.

I think she would know the difference in power between the two.
No. 178512
>>178504
Or maybe she's simply using Outsider as a title to refer to anyone who is, you know, from outside the Boundary.
No. 178514
>>178512
But then why would it be capitalized?
No. 178516
>>178514
>title
No. 178518
>>178514
The same reason Englishman or American is captitalised when talking about an individual.
No. 178524
>>178512
>>178518
Ah, but see, when Mokou refers to us, She says outsider, but it isn't capitalized, even though she is, essentially, using it as a title. Why the difference between Mokou and Yukari? It could just be a simple mistake by the author, however I'll just assume for now everything he does is deliberate.
No. 178535
>>178524
Mokou is presumably a lot less formal than Yukari, what with the whole forest hobo thing and all.
I think you're reading way too much into a single capitalised letter.
No. 178542
>>178535
If you say so. But if I'm right I'm going to gloat my ass off.
No. 178543
For what it's worth I read the same thing into it.
No. 178563
>>178535

Can't you see? That is EXACTLY what the moriya Shrine wants you to think. You're playing directly into their hands man.
No. 178577
Sorry about the delay, the update should be up tomorrow afternoon at the latest (It's 11:36 PM as I type this, if you need a reference point.)

Also regarding Outsider vs outsider... the capitalization is deliberate. Yukari's usage is not in reference to The Outsider, just in reference to you, the guy from who made a ruckus by damaging her barrier.

Past that I cannot confirm or deny anything else, I feel like I'm saying too much without making an update as-is. Showing, not telling, you know?

Pic not related... at all.

Well, you could take a romantic boat ride down the Canal of Willows in the future, if you so wish.

That's mostly a joke.
No. 178587
>>178577
>Mostly a joke.
>Mostly
That means that it can still happen!
Romantic get away with [Insert Touhou Here], here we come!
No. 178600
>>178577
It's difficult to imagine the stone cold assassin & a Touhou falling in love. Most of the Touhou characters seem well-enough adjusted in the head that "assassin" as the spouse's job would seem weird IMO.
No. 178605
>>178600
And then you've got Mokou, carrying out a blood feud with a fellow immortal, murdering each other UNTIL THEY DIE TO DEATH near-daily.
If anyone would be cool with it, it would be Mokou. Assuming she doesn't already have a thing going with Keine.
No. 178608
>>178600

Hmmm, let's make a list of touhous who would be okay with that:

Mokou; old enough and seen enough death not to be too fazed by it. Probably wouldn't like it if we continued being an assassin though.
Miko; was an emperor in life, probably used to sending people to their death. I wouldn't be surprised if she's hired a few assassins in her time too.
Yukari; wouldn't really care. Isn't afraid to get rid of inconvenient people for the good of Gensokyo.
Ran; read Yukari.
Rumia; killing people for moneyfood? okaywiththat.jpg
Kanako; Goddess of war.
Nue; old fashioned youkai.
Seija: Assassin = disapproval of society = Seija win.

That's just off the top of my head. I could probably think of a few more if I really cared too.
No. 178609
I'm really sorry, friends, it looks like I won't be able to post the update tonight like I said I would. Rest assured it will come in the morning!

Again, thank you for your patience.
No. 178611
I imagine the mindset of most youkai to be different from humans. Where a human looks at an assassin an feels scared or disgusted, a youkai (whose species needs to eat and or terrorize humans to continue to exist) will probably go "Eh, it's a living."

Considering that it's theoretically possible to pair Fisher up with anyone. I wouldn't mind a Ran route personally. Fluffy tails needs more love on THP.
No. 178625
>>178611
but muh phoenix
No. 178643
"I slept fine." The doubt is plain on your host's face, but she does not reply immediately. "Mokou, I'm afraid that I..." She looks up at you. Her expression becomes a little incredulous when you gesture at the stick utensils. "I apologize. I've never even seen utensils like this before." You don't need to exaggerate on that point.

Mokou raises her eyebrows again as if to repeat her previous question—where did you come from?—but instead she sets down her bowl.

"They're called chopsticks. Pick them up like—yeah, like that." She talks you through the process, holding up her own 'chopsticks' to demonstrate. It is easier than it looks, but you feign difficulty without much trouble.

As far as you can tell, Mokou swallows the bait: she seems blissfully unaware that you're playing up your ignorance. Thanks to your 'ineptitude' she soon become engrossed in teaching you how to use those chopsticks of hers. It seems that she has forgotten her question.

At least for the moment.

"Now hold it like that, between your thumb and—no, not like that, it'll just fall that way." It takes a few minutes of Mokou's snappy instructions before you get a basic understanding of how the utensils—chopsticks, or so they're called—work.

"Well, just don't get yourself invited to any fancy dinners and you should be alright." By the time she is satisfied (or frustrated) with your efforts—you are not so sure which—she hands you an oddly shaped spoon that you are subsequently informed is for the soup. "I forgot to set give you yours. I don't usually entertain guests." Mokou says by way of explanation. When you reply with little more than a shrug, she returns to her own meal.

There is silence for a few minutes before you speak up again.

"What do you call this? It's quite good." While you meant to play up the 'enthusiastic yet clueless tourist' angle, you don't have to lie about that. It's simple, but the fact that it isn't canned or rotted or drowning in salt makes it one of the better things you've eaten in months.

"It's miso soup. Nothing special." Despite her dismissive tone,you see the ghost of a smile flashes across her face. Mokou finishes eating before you and you see that she is already fiddling with her cigarettes. Rather than lighting another one up, she looks at you. "I have to ask. What were you doing on that rooftop?"

"I was getting my bearings." Why spin a tale when the truth would suffice? "Could you please pass the rice?" Your host hands you the bowl with a quizzical look.

"Do you usually climb on top of people's houses to... 'get your bearings'?"

"I do, yes."

"I... see." Mokou leaves it at that. She puts out her cigarette in her half-finished cup of tea, ignoring your scandalized expression. It is only a matter of seconds before the fire is dancing at the end of her fingertip as she lights yet another cigarette.

You wonder why the smell of burned tobacco doesn't hang around her, or why her teeth aren't ruined like so many other frequent smokers you've known. If you had to guess, you'd chalk it up to magic.

After all, if this place had floating lanterns, why stop there?

When you think about it, it would be awfully convenient if you could have some sort of magic to clear up your more obvious scars. Many of your comrades believed that they made you look 'dashing', but they were drunk at the time. Your reasoning was more practical. Scars made a face easier to remember, after all, and that was a liability in your line of work.

Just as you finish musing on that point, you hear hear three sharp raps—someone's hand upon wood—from outside the room. Then, you hear a muffled voice, some distance away.

"May I come in?"

"It's not locked, Keine!" Mokou's house is smaller than you thought—it doesn't take very long before the stranger slides open the door to Mokou's living room.

The schoolteacher who could 'thrash you with both arms tied behind her back' turns out to be a pleasant-looking woman in a blue dress. She seems to be several years Mokou's senior and for a moment you wonder if they could be sisters, what with their similar hair tones. Past that, she seems rather normal.

Until you see what you assume is her hat.

It almost looks like a little building, as nonsensical as that sounds. Not even the silliest noblewoman at the gaudiest costumed ball—you would know, as you've snuck into quite a few of them in your day—wore anything like this. Mokou seems to note your expression and catches your eye. She shoots you a meaningful look that isn't too hard to discern: don't ask.

"Oh, good morning, sir." The newcomer—blissfully unaware of your incredulous expression—gives you a once-over. Keine's gaze moves over your face and latches onto the scar beneath your left eye. Her face twitches in surprise. She is tactful enough to hide the look beneath a harmlessly amiable expression. "I'm Keine Kamishirasawa."

"Fisher." You stand up—knees creaking in protest as you do so—and shake her hand. You note that her grip is surprisingly strong, especially for someone with such soft hands.

"It's been a while since I've met someone from the Outside. It's a pleasure to meet you, Mister Fisher." Keine then turns to her friend. "Mokou, you remember Airi, the fishmonger's wife? She gave me this on my way here, for you." She reaches into her basket and hands a parcel wrapped up in paper. When Mokou unwraps it you see that it is a bundle of dried fish, the kind you just had for breakfast.

"Jeez." Mokou smiles in embarrassment as she places the package on the table. "She still hasn't gotten over what I did, has she?"

"Yes, she's always asking after you when she picks up Takeo from school."

"She should know that's pointless to ask."

"Airi's just being polite, you know." Keine reaches out for the tea set, and pours herself a cup.

"It's troublesome if she keeps harping on about stuff that happened ages ago."

"Well, maybe you should go tell her that yourself, if you're so concerned about it."

"Guess I could..." You note that Mokou has finished her cigarette, yet has refrained from lighting another one. Maybe Keine didn't like the smell of tobacco.

"You should, next time you see her... by the way, when was the last time you came down to the village?" Mokou does not reply to Keine's needling words. Keine, on the other hand, notices Mokou's teacup-ashtray, eyes it with open distaste but doesn't comment on it. "Really, I'm afraid that you're going to start growing mold if you shut yourself away for much longer."

"Yeah, yeah." Mokou has the grace to look apologetic. "I'll hop on by when I'm not busy." Keine rolls her eyes and turns her gaze to you.

"I have to ask... what brings you to the forest, Mister Fisher? You're quite far from the Barrier."


"I didn't pass through the barrier, you see. When I... arrived here, I found myself in the forest. Got in a bit of a mess, I'm afraid." You shrug sheepishly. "Mokou found me and gave me shelter."

"Yep. He nearly got himself eaten by a wild tsuchigumo. It got him pretty good, but I got Yagokoro to come over and fix him up." Keine raises an eyebrow at that.

You recall that Mokou had said something about doctor's orders, when she spoke of resting till you could travel. There's that sinking feeling in your stomach again—the treatment you received was presumably extensive, especially when you think about how much blood you must have lost.

It must have been expensive.

You've never met a single altruistic physician in your entire life, and you're not about to suddenly believe that this Yagokoro person would be any different. You hate being in anyone's debt, anyways. Settling your dues is yet another problem to consider on top of everything else you currently have on your plate.

Of course, it's entirely possible that Mokou paid for you: but that just leaves you in her debt...

"Appearing in Gensokyo like that, and so far from the barrier... that hasn't happened in a while." Keine's expression darkens as she contemplates her tea. "Do you know what you're going to do next?"

"I plan to find the Hakurei shrine. Mokou told me that the caretaker is responsible for giving people like me a way to leave Gensokyo." You doubt it's going to be as simple as that. The Outsider wouldn't send you here if you could just find this Hakurei person, have her bypass this Barrier and walk your way out of this place, but you couldn't very well sit here and do nothing.

"Do you think you could escort him to the village, Keine? I'd take him myself, but Tewi's asked me to go find some of her rabbits. Dumb shits got themselves lost somewhere." Mokou doesn't seem too happy with the idea, but Keine doesn't seem to mind.

"I'd be happy to."

"Thank you, Miss Kamishirasawa. I appreciate it."

"It's no problem at all." She smiles warmly at you.

With that decided, the two women catch up with each other: from what you understand they meet like this regularly. Keine talks about some troublesome students and asks how Mokou's yakitori stand is doing. Mokou recommends some alarming disciplinary measures and avoids the schoolteacher's queries about her business.

They don't ignore you completely: from time to time they ask for your opinion on whatever little thing they happen to be talking about, and you give your say, however meaningless it may be. When it's obvious that you're just going to sit there and sip on your tea, they stop trying to include you in their conversation. Before you know it, they're in a world of their own.

You watch as Mokou's guarded expression seems to fade away in Keine's presence. There's a vibrancy that you didn't see before: she's speaking a lot more for one, and she's a lot less... aloof. It suits her, you think, far more than the indifferent mask she's worn up till now.

You don't really mind that their conversation leaves you behind. It's not like you were much of an eager participant to begin with.

After a while you do have to wonder how productive sitting there and sipping Mokou's tea actually is. While you could certainly wait for Keine here, you could always do something productive.

What do you do next?

[ ] Stay to listen in on their conversation, but remain an observer for the most part. Surely you'll learn something useful.

[ ] Make ready to leave for the village. Pack up your things, arm yourself (as appropriate), et cetera.

[ ] Go and leave them to their gossip. Maybe you can freshen up a little: you did see a washbasin near the kitchen.

[ ] Write in?

——

It's late, but here's the update! I apologize in advance for any flaws or mischaracterizations, as always... Regarding the 'stone cold assassin' remark that >>178600 made: it's really up to you (through your choices, write-ins and the comments/justifications regarding your choices) to define Fisher's characterization (whether he's as stone cold as you say he is, or if any coldness is merely a reaction to the 'fear and grief that seeps into your bones in Dunwall' to quote the first DLC), which I must admit has been lacking so far. Not enough stimuli, you know? I've a backstory in mind, but how Fisher has reacted to it—not to mention how he will react to Gensokyo and its colorful denizens as he explores it—is entirely up to you guys.

Regarding routes and stuff... I mean I have some ideas floating around, but if you're not up for that sort of thing, then that's how it'll be! Whatever happens I hope I give you guys an enjoyable story.

Also, Burial At Sea Episode 2...
No. 178644
[X] Stay a while and listen
The other two votes feel "Meh." Freshening up might be good, but I'm sure we can always pack up later. Not like Keine won't wait.
No. 178646
[X] Stay to listen in on their conversation, but remain an observer for the most part. Surely you'll learn something useful.

We might glean useful info about Gensokyo by sticking around
No. 178647
[x] Go and leave them to their gossip. Maybe you can freshen up a little: you did see a washbasin near the kitchen.
I smell a random encounter.
No. 178648
[X] Stay to listen in on their conversation, but remain an observer for the most part. Surely you'll learn something useful.


You'd be surprised how much information you can get from just listening to people prattle on about their daily lives.
No. 178652
[X] Stay to listen in on their conversation, but remain an observer for the most part. Surely you'll learn something useful.
No. 178653
[X]-Stick around and listen.

I don't trust Mokou around Keine alone. She's obviously suspicious of us, we don't need her confiding her distrust in our soon to be guide while we're out of earshot.
No. 178654
[X] Stay to listen in on their conversation, but remain an observer for the most part. Surely you'll learn something useful.

>>178653

She'll probably just find some other occasion to tell her, but we might as well delay it.
No. 178655
[X] Stay to listen in on their conversation, but remain an observer for the most part. Surely you'll learn something useful.
No. 178663
>>178644

>Stay a while and listen

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gMAbNFptzAA

[x] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tAVVy_x3Erg
No. 178664
>>178663

Funnily enough, Deckard and Cain were going to be options for Fisher's first name.

I am aghast I can't believe I didn't see that reference
No. 178719
Apologies about the delay, update should be up tomorrow evening by the latest. And I forgot to sage, please shoot me.
No. 178762
It isn't long before there is another lull in the conversation. You take advantage of it by scooping up your empty cup. The clatter—one that you caused intentionally—draws all attention to your end of the table.

"May I?" You indicate the pot of tea with your free hand. It's as good as an excuse as any.

"I'm finished." Mokou's lighting another cigarette while ignoring Keine's expression. The schoolteacher realizes you're looking at her and allows her expression to return to that polite smile you saw moments ago.

"I'm fine. Go right ahead."

You nod in thanks at the two of them. With that, you stand up and move towards the screen door. You slide it open and sit on the porch, setting the pot of tea beside you. Turning your back to them isn't wise—you've learned that body language and facial expressions can be worth worlds of information—so you lean against one of the columns. Your vision isn't obscured, and if you're lucky they'll think you're dozing off.

Despite the task at hand, you cannot help but appreciate the view. The scenery outside is beautiful and you certainly don't need to exaggerate on that point. Again, you find the way that the light streams in through the thick bamboo to be mysterious, almost eerie.

You aren't sitting there for your enjoyment, however, and focus on listening in on Mokou and Keine's conversation. You haven't even poured yourself another cup of tea before the red-eyed woman speaks up again.

"How're the preparations coming along?" She's playing with her pack of cigarettes now, fiddling with one of the white cylinders.

"They could be going better, but it can't be helped. We'll just have to work double time to get everything ready... on the bright side, Youmu finally agreed to take her part in the play."

"Really? I thought she was too busy phantom-hunting." Mokou had touched upon Gensokyo's restless dead before but not in any detail. You knew little, past mentions of a palace in the sky and of its 'princess'. Ghost princesses and holy men hunting an ethereal creature of the Void (or whatever passed for such a place here) certainly were interesting things to try and imagine. "Dragon above, now I gotta go see that." Keine makes a face, and Mokou rushes to assuage her. "Er, not that I wasn't going, you know?" Keine just sighs, though not unhappily. "Didn't... er... didn't the headman have hire some local exterminators to clean out the town hall out?" You have to wince at the younger woman's transparent attempt to change the subject.

"He did."

"I see you're speaking in past tense.... so those losers actually managed to do something for once without calling in the Hakurei girl. I'm impressed."

"They're not losers, Mokou." Her tone is chastising, but it's lighthearted rather than condemning. "They managed to get them under control and out of the village. At the end of the day, Youmu said they're nothing to worry about. This rise in phantom attacks is a seasonal thing." Despite that there's doubt in Keine's voice. "What's important is that Reimu hasn't deemed it worth investigating at this point. I suppose we should be lucky for that."

Hakurei... Reimu? You surmise that Mokou and Keine were speaking about the same person. Would that mean whoever takes care of the shrine seems to stick her nose into other people's business? It seems plausible. You note the undeniable undertones of respect in Keine's voice: whoever Reimu is, she's definitely a Somebody in this strange land. "I just hope that nothing happens, especially not during the festival."

"Yeah, wouldn't that be fun? Reimu'd come in and kick the teeth out of anyone who so much as looks at her the wrong way." Keine smiles as if the thought is actually enjoyable. "That'd certainly be exciting."

"True, but at least we'd find out if there's something going on after all."

"I don't know about that. It doesn't really feel like an incident to me just yet. It lacks..." Mokou makes an airy gesture with one pale hand. "You know, that... incident-ness those other events had. Did the dragon statue go weird again, like those other times?"

"No, it didn't... incident-ness is not a word, by the way."

"You know what I'm talking about. There aren't any newcomers of note, and nobody's throwing a major fit about the spooks. As much as I'd like to see it, I don't think there'll be a ruckus, barring some bullshit out of the blue." Mokou takes a drag from her cigarette. "Guess this means we'll be seeing Yuyuko at the festival, huh?"

"Mhm. I've already taken that into account."

"That's sure to stretch your budget. Dragon knows that one's got an appetite."

"Indeed. I managed to get old Hoshijiro to sell me his stock at a bulk rate."

"That miserly old geezer?"

"The very same one."

Their talk quickly becomes irrelevant—the food that's going to be served at the festival, getting the 'Prismriver sisters' to appear, so on and so forth. You continue to listen but learn nothing of any immediate and obvious value. Instead you think on whatever spell or charm was placed upon you. Now they're speaking in your language, clear as day—you can still hear their native tongue, if you focus. Their voices bear a mild accent, yes, but it's so slight that it's nearly unnoticeable.

It's disturbing, how quickly it has taken root in your mind. At the same time you are somewhat grateful for it. You don't have time to learn other languages.

Could this be one of the gifts the Outsider spoke of, while you were flying headlong through the Void? Until proven otherwise, you decide to assume as much. It's not an entirely comforting thought, as you're certain it means that there's some horrible drawback you won't see till it's too late.

It's that, or you're just being paranoid again.

It is almost noon when Keine and Mokou seem to run out of things to talk about. They promptly finish their little get-together by clearing away the table and steadfastly turn down any of your attempts to assist them. You've ran out of tea long ago, and for a moment you nearly drifted off to sleep. You must be more fatigued than you thought.

"I'm sorry for taking so long, Mister Fisher." Keine tucks a lock of silvery hair behind one ear and shoots an apologetic smile your way.

"It's no trouble." Well, it is, but you're not stupid enough to say so. "I'll just go gather my things."

You duck into the room you slept in and gather your belongings into the bag Mokou gave you. You haven't the time to neatly arrange everything or equip yourself, so you store most of it into the knapsack that Mokou has given you. That does not mean you step out into the world unarmed. After sliding your sword onto your belt, you slip your dagger in a hidden pocket and tuck your wristbow beneath one sleeve.

The entire exercise may be a cold comfort, especially considering what lives in Gensokyo, but you'd rather open your own throat than go unarmed. That went double for such a dangerous place like this.

You know better than to walk around with your mask on, so you tuck it and your gloves into the knapsack as well.

When you return, both women glance at the sword on your belt, but do nothing else. Keine then turns to Mokou, who hasn't moved from her spot in front of the table. She's looking out the open screen door, resting her chin in one hand. Her expression could be described as indifferent.

"Have a good day, Mokou. I'll see you at the festival?" There is a hopeful tint to the schoolteacher's voice.

"Yeah, yeah. Don't get so worked up about it. I'll see you then." She smiles at Keine and waves a hand dismissively. You take the opportunity to step forwards and thank her.

"Thank you, Mokou." She doesn't look at you, giving you a nod instead of any verbal acknowledgement.

"Well, Mister Fisher, shall we be off?" Your new guide gestures to the door, and you follow her into Mokou's front yard. As you go, you can almost feel Mokou's red eyes burn into your back.
th
From there, you enter the forest. It takes some effort to push past the bamboo but for the most part it's peaceful. You listen to your feet crunch against the dead leaves and the wind rushing through the stalks. Barely a minute passes and Mokou's house is swallowed up by the shadowy forest. There isn't even a path to follow, but your guide seems to know where she's going.

Or not.

It's not long before you realize that the schoolteacher's route is wildly erratic. From time to time she glances at the canopy above her, then makes a sudden turn into a thicket of bamboo stalks without warning. Then she'd stand still again, studying the sky or the forest before her, only to take you in a totally different direction.

Is she lost? Some minutes pass in this fashion and your doubt in this woman begin to grow. But before you can voice your question, the forest begins to thin out considerably. You can see an open field in front of you with a wide dirt path in the middle of it.

You can't resist asking Keine a question when the two of you exit the forest and reach the field. You hasten your pace a little bit and end up walking beside the schoolteacher.

"Miss Kamishirasawa... In the forest... was there some path that I didn't see? Forgive my saying so, but for a moment I was worried we were lost."

"Actually I..." Keine trails off, presumably formulating a proper explanation. "The Forest's strange like that. It's magical to some extent, keeping mundane people lost and confused, hence the name Bamboo Forest of the Lost. There have been a lot people who walked in here, over the centuries. Legend says most would never leave, though it's different these days. It used to be a lot more dangerous before Mokou and the other settled here." You assume this Tewi, owner of the lost rabbits, is one of these people.

"The histories don't specify whether it's just wild magic that youkai once exploited, or if it was created by them in the first place. Anyways, the forest... distorts itself, making some distances longer or shorter than they actually are." Keine glances back at you, to see if you're keeping up. "Mokou's been here for years, so she's learned to turn it to her advantage. She just taught me how to see the signs."

It's all very fascinating, but it's ultimately irrelevant. If you'll have your way, you'll never have to worry about the Bamboo Forest of the Lost ever again. The thought seems to motivate you, and you continue to follow Keine.

——

The lands outside the bamboo forest turn out to be full of rolling hills and wide open plains. It reminds you a little of your earliest days, romping through that farm outside of Driscol. The idyllic nature of it all almost makes you feel nostalgic. The sky is a disarmingly beautiful shade of blue, and there's not a cloud to be seen. Though the sun is shining brightly, it's not unpleasant. A cool wind blows down on you, stealing away any uncomfortable heat.

After Keine spoke at length about the Bamboo Forest of the Lost, she tried making light conversation, but was dissuaded by your terse replies. Thankfully she didn't even breach any of the more troubling questions—who you were, why you carried a sword, so on and so forth.

After a while, your guide stops beneath the shade of a few trees. When you stop, she turns and looks at you with a little concern on her pleasant features.

"Do you want to take a break? I know Doctor Yagokoro saw to you before, but..."

"I'm fine." You're not, actually. The walking has taken its toll on you, more than you want to admit. It only serves to make you angry—angrier?—with yourself. You once ran across the Estate District with a bullet lodged in one shoulder and one of your comrades slung over the other. Now you're liable to keel over after walking a bit?

It's shameful.

Your train of thought is suddenly cut short by a voice in the distance.

"Hey! Heeeeeey!" You hear a high pitched voice—a young girl's?—overhead. You crane your neck... and see a black ball of darkness whizzing about overhead. The voice speaks again, and you're certain it comes from the flying ball in the sky. "Hi, Teacher Kammyshara! Who're you talking to? I never heard his voice before!" Keine's expression turns slightly pained at the mangling of her surname but keeps her composure.

"Good afternoon, Rumia." Keine's expression is as amiable as before, but her tone suggests it's anything but. "This is Mister Fisher, an outsider. He arrived very recently—"

Keine yelps in surprise as the blot zooms down towards the two of you. The ball of darkness—roughly the size of a small carriage—descends to float at eye-level before the two of you. Its surface wavers slightly... and reveals the face of a young girl with blonde hair. She can't be more than ten years old, but the ravenous cast to her expression—not to mention the bloody crimson of her eyes—marks her as something else.

Is this another youkai?

When she looks at you, her smile turns several shades more beatific. "An outsider?! Can I have him?! I'm so hungry, I haven't eaten a human in such a looooooooong time!"

It can't be anything but a youkai, you note dryly.

"Absolutely not." Keine sounds every bit the punctilious schoolmarm. It would be funny, if she didn't seem to talking about you being eaten by this floating girl-thing.

"I'll duel you for him!"

"No." Keine closes her eyes and rubs the bridge of her nose with thumb and forefinger.

"C'mon, Teacher, I'm so bored..."

"Two cards."

"No! That's too little!" The girl's voice is shrill and grates against your ears."Four!"

"We really don't have the time to play, Rumia." When the girl begins to pout, Keine shakes her head with a gusty sigh, placing both hands on her hips. "Three, and that's my final offer."

"Yes, yes, three spellcards!" Rumia's face slips back beneath the veil, and the little ball of darkness zips back into the sky. She's flying in clumsy circles above the two of you. Keine turns to you with an apologetic look on her face.

"Could you please stay right here? I will just talk with Rumia over here, and we'll be on our way."

With that, Keine steps forwards... and upwards.

She's flying. After a moment you remember to close your mouth. You stare and stare and try to make sense of this utterly bizarre situation. First was the girl who wanted to eat you, this haggling of cards, then now Keine's flying. It's a lot to take in, in such a short period of time.

Then the sky then erupts in a display of color: you think of fireworks, but fireworks aren't that bright, not in broad daylight. Neither do they move so languidly, and not in such patterns!

You shake away your amazement, and try to take stock of what exactly is happening. You can detect two distinct streams of the multicolored projectiles: one is coming from your the outstretched palm of your guide, and the other from the blonde girl. The two combatants weave and bob through the iridescent patterns with a grace that seems inhuman—and may very well be.

You now see that Rumia's truly a girl instead of some misshapen beast like you originally thought, having discarded her black sphere to better hurl her green-and-blue orbs at Keine. She's quite small, and if she hadn't bargained for you like smoked bacon at the Sunday market, you would have said she was cute, in her little black dress.

What do you do next?

[ ] Stay where you are.

[ ] Find a better vantage point.

[ ] Shoot at Rumia with your wristbow.

[ ] Write-in?

——

It's come later than I said it would, sorry. I edited as best I could but it's 5 AM here and I'm going to bed. Thanks again for reading, my friends.
No. 178763
[X] Stay where you are.

Don't need a better vantage point.
No. 178764
[x} Find a hiding spot.

I'd rather not risk getting caught by some other beastie while our guide's distracted.
No. 178765
[x] Shoot at Rumia with your wristbow.
She just said she wants to EAT him. That's kill and eat, if you didn't realize. I think nobody will be blaming the poor guy for shooting the damn girl-shaped monster thing in self defense.
No. 178766
[x] Find a better vantage point.

>If you'll have your way, you'll never have to worry about the Bamboo Forest of the Lost ever again.
Aw, but I like Mokou.
No. 178767
[X]-Find a better vantage point.

Ghost attacks? The plot slowly thickens. At least Mokou didn't find us shifty enough to consider us a notable outsider. Hopefully that won't change.

I don't want to get too close, but it wouldn't hurt to get more info on spellcard duels.

The update speed's no biggie OP. It's understandable for a new write to take a little while to find their rhythm for updating.
No. 178768
[X] Find a better vantage point.

Keine got this one, and we can take a closer look at Gensokyo's choice of problem solving.
No. 178769
>>178762

>"Yeah, wouldn't that be fun? Reimu'd come in and kick the teeth out of anyone who so much as looks at her the wrong way." Keine smiles as if the thought is actually enjoyable. "That'd certainly be exciting."

Please pretend that it says Mokou, not Keine... now that I've slept I'm seeing errors...
No. 178773
[X] Find a better vantage point.
No. 178786
[Z] Find a better vantage point
As much as I'd like to shoot a bolt in between Rumia's(or anyone's) eyes, Imma have to be a little meta here and say Fuck pissing off the locals.
No. 178787
[X] Find a better vantage point.
No. 178793
[X] Find a better vantage point.
No. 178825
[X] Find a better vantage point.

We have no idea what's going on, so it's time to gather some information.


>>178786
It's not even that meta considering that Fisher doesn't really have much choice other than to trust his guide.
The sensible choice right now is to find out as much as possible about all this flying and fireworks.
For all he knows, Fisher might actually be just a single faux pas away from being left to be eaten by youkai, and shooting someone in the face is quite likely to be such a mistake.
No. 178861
The update should be up some time tomorrow, thanks for your patience.
No. 178869
>>178861
Cheers for the update, I'm enjoying the story so far
No. 178877
The magical duel unfolds above you like the the most lavish fireworks display you've ever seen.

It is akin to those firepowder-based fancies that nobles seemed to need at their more extravagant parties. In many ways the sight before you is the same. The sky is overwhelmed by a storm of color and sound, of lights blossoming into intricate patterns. The orbs and streams of light whizz and pop like bullets zipping overhead.

Then there's the fact that it's more than a pretty light show. It's a magical duel, something you've only heard about from drunken old men relaying old wives' tales. It seems the magic is quite different from any story you've heard, but that's to be expected.

It's easy to pick apart the two overlapping patterns. Past there being two tides swirling against each, it's not difficult to see the overlying aesthetics of each duelist's projectiles. Rumia's magical missiles tend towards red and blackish orbs fired in simpler patterns to Keine's comparatively dizzying array of blue lights soaring in rigid geometric shapes. Every now and then you see a circle floating in thin air, ringing the schoolteacher in bright light. Compared to that, Rumia's magic is quite simple-looking, even drab.

You've only seen one other example of magical projectiles: the shadowy darts fired off by the Brigmore Witches. They tore flesh and caused wounds to fester. To even imagine one of Delilah's people firing this many projectiles at you is quite scary.

Though it seems whatever magics were being thrown around here were not nearly as deadly. Rumia's constantly being battered by Keine's projectiles and you can see her face twist up in annoyance and pain, but she soldiers on. You would say that the projectiles were then harmless: you could never be sure with magic.

In spite of your caution it feels like you're watching a game.

Maybe it's because the girl's laughing.

You can clearly pick out her voice over the ruckus. She dances across the sky, her skirt swishing gently as she spins about like a mad top. Keine's not so expressive. She opts for expressing herself with her magic: she holds her hand out and fires another barrage of light and energy soar towards the little blonde girl.

You'd be lying if you said the girl's presence in this entire affair didn't bother you, just a little bit.

Normally one would not involve children in duels.... what if the duel was magical in nature?

And what if the child wasn't a child, one who wanted to eat you?

You've never met a child who would challenge anyone to any sort of duel outside the meaningless games of youth. You're almost certain she's a youkai—a man-eating phantasm locked up in this land of fantasy for her own survival—but you're finding the entire situation to be more than a little off-putting.

You're being foolish, you tell yourself. It's nothing more than a scrap of inconvenient conscience acting up at the worst possible time. It still surprises you a little but even a man in your line of work has some standards left. Almost all of the Whalers did, maybe even Daud. Not involving children was one of yours.

You have to remind yourself that this Rumia isn't even human.

Conjecture and hypothesizing—with a dash of pointless moral guilt—is meaningless until you can get some proper answers out of someone who doesn't want to eat you. For the moment you resign yourself to simply watching Keine and Rumia's aerial duel.

You don't have much of a view from where you stand, and craning your neck is beginning to hurt. The landscape is rather bereft of vantage points from which you can observe them better.

There—one of the trees that you and Keine were sheltered under scant few moments ago. Its boughs are as thick as any eave or railing you've ever walked upon, so it's the best choice. Or the only choice, unless you suddenly learned to fly like those two.

You close your eyes and imagine the tremors of the thickest branch as it would shift under your weight, accompanied by the whisper of leaves trembling lost in the sound of their duel.

When your eyes are opened, you are perched upon a particularly thick branch. The leaves provide a decent measure of cover and luckily enough do not obscure your view.

Just as you push the leaves aside, you see Rumia stumble past a barrage of Keine's projectiles with one arm raised in the air. You spy something shining in her hand, though it is something that has a distinctly different light to it compared to the projectiles that were floating about moments ago.

"Darkness Sign:「Demarcation」!" Her voice is shrill with triumph. Is that one of the cards they spoke of?

The air surrounding Rumia darkens, and a great circle of light explodes from where she's floating. As it expands across the black patch of sky, waves of light surge towards Keine. Even with the drastic increase in volume, Keine doesn't seem fazed by what's coming right at her. She slips through gaps in the patterns and over the arcs of light.

Rumia then begins to speak, even as she clumsily dodges Keine's incoming fire.

"Come on, Teacher! Didn't you see his face? You probably won't like the taste of him one bit!"

Over the years you've been called many things by many people—most of those things being rather unpleasant, truth be told—but being likened to a stale loaf of bread (or something palatable) is not one of them. It'd be more amusing if it didn't mean she intended to eat you.

"I'm not going to eat him, Rumia. He's a guest."

"Well—" Rumia yelps in pain when a flurry of projectiles smack her in the stomach. The expanse of darkness flickers for a moment, then reappears. "Hey!" Keine's only response was to send another flurry of projectiles towards the little girl. The two of them are close enough for you to see Rumia's face go red with indignation. "Teacher, you're not playing fair!"

As before, there's no response save a sudden increase in Keine's magical missiles. You don't know if you're seeing things, but you think you detect a smirk on her face.

"I thought I told you before, Rumia. It's not smart to talk so much in the middle of a spellcard duel!"

The child-thing's face twists up in indignation and motions with both arms, like a conductor to some invisible orchestra. A wall of red light several meters wide erupts from her fingertips and bears down on the schoolteacher like an angry wave. Just as the wave misses Keine and disintegrates into nothingness, another one follows. Then another, and another.

Despite the inhuman expression on Rumia's face and the energy she puts into her gesticulations, Keine sidesteps it and redoubles her assault.

Just when you think Keine's been boxed in, a particularly dense cluster of projectiles smacks Rumia right in the face. It sends the little blonde girl reeling backwards, spinning in the air like a leaf on the wind.

It looks like her spellcard's been disrupted completely: her projectiles disappear with a flash, and the sky around her returns to normal.

Keine's volley knocks her back quite a distance. When she manages to right herself, there's a scowl on her pink face.


Whatever she says or does next is lost when you hear a mechanical sort of click somewhere to the left of your current position. It isn't loud, and you're not even sure that you heard it. It catches your attention regardless.

It's not a welcome sound, nor is it one you'd expect up here. You think of crossbows firing or tripwires being triggered and tear away your eyes from the duel. You glance towards where you thought you heard the noise: a particularly leafy section of the tree you're sitting in.

You stare for several moments with one hand upon your blade... and no foe leaps out at you.

When several moments pass, you let out a breath you didn't know that you were holding. It's not entirely certain that you heard anything... but you could never be too careful.

You turn your head back to the combatants. Rumia's declared a second card. You don't know what it's called: whatever she said was lost in the rumble of spellfire.

Another expanse of the sky is shrouded in darkness once more, though now it is considerably thicker. The only way you can pinpoint the little girl's location is by searching for the source of her magical artillery.

Keine seems to have no trouble zeroing in on her.

It seems that the duel fight is moving away from your position. Relocation is necessary at this point, if you want to continue observing them properly.

Though there's always the option of moving on by yourself. She may be winning this fight, though it's taking up all her attention. You're certain she wouldn't notice you leaving till you were long gone. The duel seems to be in its ending stages. Surely that's enough time if you were to continue on your own.

Then there's always that sound to consider...

What do you do?

[ ] Transverse to another tree.

[ ] Stay in the branches and climb to your next destination.

[ ] Transverse to the ground.

[ ] Hop down from the tree.

[ ] Leave and make your way to the village by yourself.

[ ] Write in?

——

I hoped I wouldn't upload it at 1.47 AM local time, but here we are... I had to think a lot about spellcard duels and whatever while writing this update. And by that I mean struggle to write the update while playing FTL's new Advanced Edition. It's so fun... But I did think about spellcards and stuff, honest. As always, thank you for reading.

P.S. Please forgive me in advance for any typos or whatnot...
No. 178878
The click sound makes me think pressure plate, but since there's no DON'T MOVE A MUSCLE option I'm inclined to think otherwise.
This'll take some thinking to decide.
Saged for non-vote.
No. 178879
>>178878
A pressure plate on top of a tree branch? What sort of sense does that make?
It's clearly just Aya shenanigans.


[x] Hop down from the tree.

We got our better look, but still being on top of a tree when they notice you won't look good.
No. 178880
>what a cute lil anthrophage.png

Lookin' very Shou there, Rumia.

[x] Stay in the branches and climb to your next destination.

Aya and Fisher sitting in a tree~
No. 178881
>>178879
...I don't know how I didn't think of that.
Excuse me while I make sure I didn't kill brain cells hiiting my head.
No. 178882
[x] Hop down from the tree.
No. 178884
[x] Transverse to another tree.
I'm sure Aya will be harassing us at some point regardless.
No. 178885
[x] Stay in the branches and climb to your next destination.
No. 178886
[x] Stay in the branches and climb to your next destination.

I'm just interested in meeting more Touhous for now, to have a wider set of options to choose from about who to interact and associate with.
Right now, Mokou is still my favorite in this story, though.


Also, are there cameras in Dishonored? Or, at least, in your version of it? Just wondering how Fisher would react to one.

I haven't really gotten very far in the game, but with the general feel of the tech I'd imagine something like silver plate photograpy.
All I know is that there is a scene in the intro with a painter, which suggests that camera's might not exist but I figure that if they do, it's probably those "sit absolutely still for a minute or your blurry black and white image is ruined" kind of cameras.
Meaning painting is easier, cheaper and looks better but cameras still exist and as long as the motif is absolutely static (i.e. inanimate objects) they're useful because there is not much "human error" in the image.
I mean, they have tesla walls and combustion engines so some form of photography wouldn't be too unreasonable.
No. 178887
>>178884

You sure you want show off our ability to teleport Transverse in front of Aya?
No. 178889
>>178886
With Dishonored's tech level, I'd say cameras there would be more akin to folding cameras (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Folding_camera) or box cameras (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Box_camera). Dishonored has freaking TV technology, or at least Dunwall Tower has one in the main foyer, under the rule of Hiram Burrows. I wouldn't be surprised if that was a Sokolov one-of-a-kind thing, but their tech level seems to be around the 1910s/1920s I'd say.
No. 178890
Same guy who wrote >>178889: the image shown is a vintage 1920s camera. I'd think that's what Dishonored's style of cameras would be like.
No. 178891
[x] Hop down from the tree.
>Tree camera trap
Well that's not good.

Now if we get in trouble later everyone will know what we look like. I wanted to stay under the radar as long as possible and reveal our powers at a critical moment.

I keep imagining lying broken at beaten at a youkai's feet, having them gloating over us... Then Fishers suddenly stands up, teleports right in front of them and puts a knife through their heart while they're surprised.

It's inevitable for people to know Fisher's fishy later when Aya checks the film, but might as well keep the act going if we get jumped in the near future.
No. 178893
[X] Hop down from the tree.

Might as well try to preserve some hope we're just mundane.
No. 178900
>>178891
I doubt it's somehow a trap. Aya probably just happened to be in the tree.
(Not to mention, it's more likely she's taking a picture of Keine and Rumia dueling than Fisher's sudden teleportation.)
No. 178974
Update will be up tomorrow, or the day after that. Been a rough week. Thank you for your patience, fellas.
No. 178975
>>178974
Waiting warmly~
No. 179086
Whatever's making that noise has got you spooked.

You think of the dozens of traps you've seen in your career: both ones you had defeated—or triggered—and the ones you yourself had set up. Who knew why there was some sort of device up there? Maybe the locals were protective of their trees.

Maybe a smarter youkai had set them up to catch humans, though you think that's rather ridiculous.

Either way, you didn't want to stick around to find out. After judging the distance to the ground—a skill you've had to learn early on in your career as an assassin—you step off from your perch to land feet first.

The impact sends a jolt up your legs, but it's not enough to slow you down. You feel some small measure of satisfaction when you realize that if you'd been a normal person, the landing—feet first and all—would've hurt a lot more. Maybe you would have sprained an ankle. Maybe you'd break something.

You would say that you're not hurt was thanks to your years of training and experience... and the Void-spat energies suffusing your body. Even if you've fought as one of Daud's men for over a decade, you've never learned the hard limits and mechanics of the powers you've been given. Not that it was something you thought about: you knew your personal limits, what you could and couldn't do. That was enough.

You turn your attention back to the duel and follow the flashing lights. It doesn't take very long to find a better place from which you can observe the duel with ease.

The schoolteacher is now on the offensive. She's in the middle of casting another spellcard, a dizzying array of blue and green orbs locked into shapes: they fly in rigid geometric patterns, hexagons and the like. The pattern reminds you of stained glass windows, though a thousand times more vibrant.

It is by far the most ostentatious show of magic you've ever seen. Forget seeing through the eyes of rats or carving magical scrimshaw from the bones of leviathans. Even an idiot could gawp at the light show and know it for what it was.

Rumia's quickly losing speed: dozens of Keine's projectiles fizzle into nothingness as they smack against her body. Even if she manages to dodge them, she's flying into her opponent's trap. It only takes a few moments before several concentric rings of light circle around her like a noose, following her no matter what direction she tries to fly in. She's trapped, and everyone knows it, even Rumia herself.

One of them—you don't know who—shouts something, and the entire aerial battlefield explodes in a blinding white light.

Your vision returns a moment later, just in time to see Keine zipping across the now empty sky at a remarkable speed. On the other hand, Rumia flies about like a drunken housefly, her arms hanging loosely at her sides. From time to time you think she's been knocked senseless, but she still manages a halfhearted burst of fire every now and then.

In spite of that, she's still fighting: her opponent is plastering her with projectiles and still wave after wave of magical darkness is hurled blindly in Keine's vague direction. For a moment you think her sheer willpower will see her through, but Keine dodges Rumia's clumsy barrage as if it isn't there.

She closes the distance between them in moments... and slams her forehead into Rumia's face.

The sound—a surprisingly loud clonk—could be heard even from where you stand. Before you can fathom why the otherwise reasonable schoolteacher would do such a thing, you see the little youkai tumble out of the sky.

The blonde girl's magic seems to have left her: she embraces gravity's pull like a skewered bird, like any other unfortunate who find themselves falling from a considerable height. Her trajectory—which is impressive, even when taking into account the fact that Keine hit Rumia at an alarming speed—sends her into a thorny-looking bush. The little girl is enveloped by the underbrush to the sound of shuddering branches. You can't help but wince a bit. That couldn't be pleasant, no matter what you were.

After wheeling about in the sky for a few seconds, Keine spots you and begins her descent. In stark contrast to Rumia's dynamic landing, hers is considerably more graceful. She doesn't stop when her feet touch the ground, and walks up to you as if she'd just had to fulfill some menial errand.

"Well, that's that." Keine dusts her hands off. "We've wasted enough time here, Mister Fisher. Shall we be off?"

"What..." Now that you have the opportunity to actually make sense of what happened, it takes you a moment or two to actually find the words. "What in the Void was that?" The curse slips from your lips involuntarily, but you think it's quite appropriate in this situation.

"Oh, that? It wasn't anything. Just a little spellcard duel." Keine smiles reassuringly at you. "Rumia was just playing around, as usual. She's a playful little girl, but... well, you know how kids are." Her smile turns indulgent, and she looks like she expects you to laugh off and wave your hand dismissively, saying something like 'oh, she was just being silly!' in agreement with the schoolteacher's words.

"That headbutt was illegal. Most definitely illegal!"

A young woman's voice rings out from the trees behind you, killing whatever nonsense you were about to mutter. You spin about to confront the speaker... who, like almost all the other people you've met here so far, is descending from the sky under her own power. It shouldn't be so surprising—you just witnessed a duel between two other flying girls—but one could forgive you for being a little slow in getting used to such things.

The newcomer looks to be a slim specimen on the cusp of womanhood, with dark black hair. She's wearing a white blouse and a short skirt, which are again of a fashion unfamiliar to your eyes. Perched atop her head is what you assume is her hat. The strangest things she's wearing are her shoes: they look like wooden clogs, except there's a long strip of wood jutting out from the bottom. Despite their ungainly appearance, she's walking towards the two of you without any sort of trouble.

There's a strange boxy thing resting against her chest. From this distance it's hard to make out any real details past the fact that it seemed to be made of metal, and that it was hanging from a strap around her neck. Was it some accessory popular among the youth in a trend peculiar to this world?

"The people of Gensokyo must know about this flagrant violation of the spellcard rules, Miss Kamishirasawa!" She's pointing directly at Keine, the fires of righteous conviction burning in her eyes. She's not even glancing in your direction.

"Aya?!" Keine's expression is caught somewhere in between being surprised and irritated. "What are you doing here?"

"What kind of question of that? I'm Aya Shameimaru, Gensokyo's greatest reporter!" She puffs out her modest chest and puts her hands on her elbows in a show of defiance. "I wouldn't be able to give people the bleeding edge of what's what if I was sitting around on my butt all day at home, now would I?!"

"No, you wouldn't..." Keine's placating tone doesn't seem to impress Aya at all. She harrumphs loudly, and picks up that strange box-thing from the strap around her neck. It's not some oversized bit of jewelry, you realize. It's a tool of some sort. "Aya, do you really have to...?"

You squint at the device in her hands. It's not a weapon. It lacks a muzzle, pointy bits, sharp edges or anything you could reasonably associate with hurting people. Then again, it need not be mundane in the first place, though you're certain it's not some sorcerer's wand, or something like that. If anything it reminds you of some Sokolov invention you once saw at one of those hoity-toity exhibitions open to Dunwall's aristocracy.

"Of course I do. Hey, say 'cheese'!" There's that awfully familiar click noise again—

For the second time today, you're blinded by a sudden flash of light. When your vision (thankfully) returns a moment later, you see the girl pushing past you to get to Keine, pen and miniature notebook in hand.

"Now then... Miss Kamishirasawa, could you care to explain why such brutal violence against poor Rumia was necessary?" She's jabbing her pen in Keine's chest accusingly, in between scribbling down notes. There's a certain flourish to way this Aya girl is writing: you'd liken it a bit to the way a conductor waves a baton, though you imagine it does no favors for her penmanship.

"The poor thing's not much of a bother to anyone!" The dark-haired girl pauses to reconsider what she just said, though her pen doesn't stop moving. "Well, no, not exactly... she's still a man-eating youkai after all." Aya has the grace to appear a little embarrassed. "But she's not much of a harm to anybody if you aren't an outsider or an idiot, and that's the truth!"

She doesn't wait for Keine to answer. Instead, she turns towards you, her eyes glittering in anticipation.

"How about you, sir?! Can you tell me your take on today's shocking abuse of the spellcard rules, from someone like Miss Kamishirasawa, no less? The people of Gensokyo have to know!"

"I'm not familiar with the local customs, Miss Aya, so—"

"This is your first spellcard duel?" You open your mouth to say something like 'yes', but she leans in, as if you've just become the most interesting thing in the world. "So you're an outsider, right?" Aya squints up at you. Even with her strange platform shoes, she's quite short compared to you. "And seeing as your outfit's really weird, you must be from far away, maybe even farther than the continent!"

"Well, I'm—"

"This is great!" The dark-haired girl smiles beatifically. Clutching her notebook in both hands, she turns around and talks to herself. It seems she's finally put her pen down: it's tucked behind one of her ears... which just so happens to have a noticeable point.

Is this talkative young woman yet another youkai? At least she's not a giant spider.

"A dark-eyed outsider with a mysterious scar on his face..." She's talking to herself, whilst looking at some indeterminate point in the distance. Aya taps her pen against her bottom lip thoughtfully. "He's weird, and he's here in Gensokyo! That's definitely interesting enough to mention in the article."

"You're going to write an article?" Keine frowns.

"Do you have wax in your ears? Of course I'm gonna tell people about this!"

"Really, Aya... things like this happen all the time." The schoolteacher adjusts her ridiculous hat and sighs. "I don't think anyone would find a little duel to be the... 'bleeding edge' of what's happening in Gensokyo."

"Says you! I have a very extensive audience." Aya crosses her arms over her chest, though she does look a little insulted. "And Gensokyo's a bit bigger than someone's back yard. How'd the kappa ever find out about this duel without the Bunbunmaru?"

"Why would the kappa care about something like this?"

"That's not the point!" Aya's cheeks are a bright pink, and she glares at Keine. "The point is that people have a right to know what's going on! And it's my job to tell 'em!"

The mention of a front page and an audience makes you grimace inwardly. It's eminently obviousthat she must work for a local newspaper. That could very well draw unwelcome attention to you, from all sorts of folk in this strange place. You remember what little Mokou had told you about Gensokyo... and of your dream, still vivid in your mind's eye.

If those women from your dream were real... well, you can safely assume that they're somewhere here in Gensokyo. That certainly didn't bode well for you, if your previous encounter suggested anything.

Your stomach sank. If things continued as they did, your original intentions of remaining inconspicuous would quite hard to follow through on, some time in the immediate future. On the other hand it seemed that the 'spellcard duel' could be more interesting thank you. If you act boring enough, you may be nothing more than a minor detail penned in Aya's article. An afterthought. In addition, refusing to answer any of her questions may be more suspicious than giving her a half-truthful interview.

"Mister Fisher, we really should get going." Keine doesn't look very impressed

"Fisher..." The girl muses on your name, scratching her chin in an almost theatrical fashion. A pink tint rises to Keine's cheek, but Aya doesn't seem to notice. "Sounds kinda silly, but a name's important, right?" She nods to herself and picks up that strange device once more. "Hey, could you do me a favor and look this way? I wanna take your picture. For tomorrow's issue of the Bunbunmaru! You don't need to give me an interview or anything, I got all I need right here!" She pats her pocket with one hand, then stops. "Well, I'd like that interview, but... yeah! You know what I mean!"

"Anyways, could you look this way, Mister outsider?" Aya is gesturing at you to face towards her. That infernal contraption—it must be a heliograph machine, if she wants to take your picture. You've only heard of the things, as they were restricted for the ludicrously wealthy, or for those in Sokolov's inner circle of associates and sycophants. But Aya's device was a lot smaller than the stories said they were...

Whatever the case was, she was gesturing for you to move, so she could get a better shot.

Do you let Aya take your picture?

[ ] Yes.

[ ] No.

After that, what do you do next? (Feel free to specify any specific questions, statements, actions, etc.)

[ ] Talk to Aya.

[ ] Leave with Keine.

[ ] Check on Rumia.

[ ] Write in?

——

If you want to know why this is late, blame FTL: Faster than Light's Advanced Edition (with the Captain's Edition mods, mmm...) and Berserk. I can't believe I haven't read it before now...

>>178886 I did a little research on the history of cameras—kinda weird, but hey, if it'll help the CYOA, why not?—and I would think daguerrotypes/'heliographs' (the name of the original process seems to be more Dishonored-y to me) would be more appropriate for the setting, but that's just my opinion. Sure, Sokolov made Burrows a view screen but as you said, it feels very extraordinary seeing as it's the only example of any technology of its kind. I'm sure Sokolov's got blueprints for more 'modern' cameras here and there, but I'd think a man like Fisher would not have the chance to see them, barring extraordinary circumstance.

>>178886 You flatter me. It seems that I choke up a little before introducing a new character because I think 'Oh God I'm gonna fuck up her character and it'll be a disaster' but then I realize that it's just a CYOA, yadda yadda yadda. Not an excuse to not try my best though. Glad you're enjoying her, I'll try my best to live up to your expectations.

Once more, I apologize in advance for typos and errors (it's 4.11 here...), and thank you for reading this CYOA.
No. 179087
[x]destroy the strange box of blindness and her notes on us if she has any from when she was spying.
Reason why? we don't want Yukari or anyone else important any closer to finding us. Failing that I vote this:
[x]no
[x]leave with Keine
No. 179088
>>179086
[X] Yes
[X] Talk with Aya
Getting the interview and picture over with would be better in tne long run, seeing as she won't bother us after. If we take the gamble on her thinking us boring, she likely won't put in the picture either.
Anyway get her off our ass now rather than later.
No. 179091
[X] Yes.
[X] Talk to Aya.

An interview is okay, but we're probably the most boring person she'll ever talk to.
Fisher's a "whaler" which means "a fisherman", just like his name. He's trying to get back home, and Keine has offered to take him to someone who can apparently help him.
He has no idea what all these "spell card" or "youkai" things are, he's just a regular "outsider" as they call it and that's all there is to his story...

>>179088
The risk is that she doesn't have enough news to fill the paper and she'll just throw everything in there. I mean, a spellcard duel, no matter the circumstance, is not any kind of news in Gensokyo. Aya even kind of admitted so herself, but she's still reporting on it for the sake of reporting.
I agree that just being a short, boring article is better than trying to avoid her and causing her to go "full reporter" on us, though.
Until she realized that nobody is that boring and she starts stalking us anyway because we must be hiding something...


Yes, I kinda want Aya to go after Fisher because it adds more to the story than if she just decides that he's boring and ignores him, but from the in character point of view; trying to convince her that he's not worth her time rather than trying to evade her makes more sense. Hiding in plain sight, you know.
No. 179092
[X] No.
[X] Leave with Keine.

I would rather not have our picture taken. It'll spread our face around when Aya does her daily newspaper route and I don't think that's really a good idea, what with Yukari and Ran looking for the guy.
No. 179093
[x] No
[x] Talk to Aya

Seconding telling her that we're a "fisherman" to seem boring. Not having a picture to go with the article might make it less likely for her to publish it in the first place.
No. 179094
[X] No.
[X] Leave with Keine.
No. 179095
[x] No.
[x] Talk to Aya.
Explain that, back home, we have issues with oppressive governments and that becoming known to the general public here could lead to unfortunate encounters.
We'd appreciate if Aya would leave any identifying descriptions out of her article, both for our own safety and that of others who might read it.
No. 179096
[x] No
[x] Talk to Aya
No. 179099
[X]-Yes
[X]-Talk to Keine

Not letting her take a picture of us will make us look suspicious.
No. 179104
[x] No
[x] Talk to Aya
No. 179219
Easter's left me tuckered out. Reply will come later this week. Thanks for your patronage so far, folks!
No. 179751
>>179219
>Reply will come later this week.
RIP
No. 180063
>>179751 "And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth!"

Eherm. Long story short, life hit me hard, as in 'no internet or computer access for around a month' hard. Sorry I didn't tell you guys or anything, it's mighty rude of me to leave you hanging for so long. But that's enough, let's get the show going again.

——

"I'd rather you didn't." You raise your hand when Aya brings her 'camera' to bear. The device's large glass lens glints brightly in the sunshine, reminding you of the polished belt buckles of a zealous Watch officer on the beat. If you didn't know any better, you'd call the glint of the light hungry, if anything. "If you don't mind."

She looks disappointed, to put it mildly.

"Hey, c'mon, it's just a picture... are you camera shy or something?" The way Aya puts it makes it sound like a horrible thing, some gross failing in your moral fiber. "I gotta get something for the article, you know."

"You already got a picture of him, didn't you?" Before Aya can take another picture, Keine leans in as she speaks, hands clasped behind her back. She's smiling amiably, though you can detect the faintest hint of mischief in her voice. "You could just ask him a few questions instead of blinding the poor man with that camera of yours."

"I... er..." Aya falters, obviously not wanting to concede defeat outright, but continues. "Fine. I can accept an interview!" The way she's saying it doesn't brook much argument. "The photograph I've got should be enough... and that youkai was sensitive to light! How could I have known that she'd go blind?"

Keine just gives her best 'mildly disappointed teacher' sigh. You resist the urge to shiver—or laugh—as you recall the pillowy, middle-aged schoolmarm from those infrequent days when your own shadow darkened the schoolhouse doors. You take the opportunity to accept the renegotiated terms.

"That's alright with me." You wished to speak with this strangely upbeat girl anyways. From prior experience, journalists were a risky source of information—they made a living spreading sensitive information around, and one wrong word could sink an entire job before it began—but it wasn't like she knew who you were.

If you weren't careful, that could certainly change.

Aya nods, relieved that something's going her way.

Seemingly satisfied, Keine drifts off to 'give you two some privacy', as she puts it. You shift your attention to Aya, as she clears her throat. You follow her to sit beneath the gnarled branches of a nearby oak tree.

The wind is blowing gently, and birds can be heard in the distance. It is serene--and if not for the girl sitting in front of you, it would be easy to forget the magical duel that took place mere minutes ago.

"I'm afraid I'm not very interesting... Aya, was it?" She nods happily.

"Yup! You're in the presence of the crow tengu, Aya Shameimaru! I'm the reporter, writer, editor and publisher for Gensokyo's number one newspaper, the Bunbunmaru!" By the little stance she takes—hands on her hips, wide smile on her face—this is supposed to mean something to you. "And don't worry, everyone's story is interesting to someone!"

You simply nod. Your response seems to disappoint Aya somewhat—she wilts, just a little bit, was she expecting you to be impressed?—but she perseveres.

"C'mon, sit down. You're gonna make me nervous if you're just gonna stand there the whole time." You oblige the youkai-girl, and sit crosslegged in front of her. For a moment there is silence as Aya scribbles in her little notepad again—some initial observations, which you hope won't be a bad thing, when 'your' article is published. When she finishes, she looks up at you. "So! Basics first. Who are you, Mister Fisher?"

"I'm a Whaler."

"A whaler? You hunt whales?" When grunt a vague positive, Aya chuckles. "Guess you've got an appropriate name." If only you had your mask. You'd roll your eyes if you had less self control. "Well, you're pretty far from the sea, mister whaler."

"That I am."

"And you carry a sword." She doesn't punctuate her last sentence with a question mark, but it is a question nonetheless.

"Yes." The sound of the wind is all that can be heard, aside from Aya's furious scribbling. "For self-protection."

"You must come from a pretty dangerous place, then."

"It is what it is." You work in a group lousy with cryptic bastards, so it's not really hard to try your hand at being insufferably vague. "I know my way around a brawl, that much is true." You casually rest your hand on the blade's hilt, patting it like you would a dependable workhorse. "And I've reason enough to be armed."

"I see." Aya scribbles something down, then pauses. Slowly, her tone's become less sing-song, though it is still far from businesslike. "Most outsiders aren't as... interesting as you, Msiter Fisher. Usually they're more scared, always asking questions, whining about some two-bit youkai having them for breakfast." You raise an eyebrow but it goes unnoticed. "I take it you've been given a primer on Gensokyo by now?"

"Yes. Though it's really all above me. Spellcards and youkai..." You make an airy gesture with one hand."It is all beyond me, if I may say so."

"I know, right? A lot to take in, learning that those old stories your granny'd tell you are actually real." She chuckles, reaching with one hand up to tuck a lock of dark hair behind an ear. An ear that you realize is pointed. Aya is so focused on scribbling in her notepad that your ogling goes unnoticed. It's another detail to remember, you suppose. "Not that we'd expect anything else from Teacher Kamishirasawa, our steadfast defender of the human village." She smiles widely, then scribbles something down. "So, what'd she tell you?"

"Ah, you're mistaken." She opens her mouth to protest, but she lets you continue. "Fujiwara no Mokou was the one who told me about Gensokyo." You hope you've pronounced her name right. "She was the first person I met after arriving here." The spider youkai didn't count, hopefully. "After giving me shelter, she saw fit to tell me about this land. Enough, I suppose, for someone who intends to leave."

"Oh, really? You're not going to stay?" Aya sounds honestly surprised, but she doesn't let you continue, launching into a ramble of her own. "I see... okay, you said you met Mokou first... that'd mean you didn't come in through Muenzuka, or the Road of Reconsideration. Now that's kinda unusual. I mean, most outsiders who show up don't know how they got there, yeah... but the bamboo forest? You're sure you didn't stumble in there or something?"

"I'm sure."

"Well, there are worse places where you could have arrived in Gensokyo, to be honest. I'm glad you weren't eaten, Mister Fisher. If that happened, my article would've been so boring! And that would've been really bad, you know?" You try and smile reassuringly.

You exchange a few more vague questions—pointless things, like what you thought of the fight (it was nothing you'd ever seen before) or what you thought of the combatants (you didn't know Rumia but you know that you dislike the idea of being eaten, and Miss Kamishirasawa—again trying your best to pronounce that mouthful of a name—was very polite, very helpful, you could see why such a woman was in charge of protecting a village), so on and so forth.

You try your best to appear bland, but there's not much you can do about your outfit, or the blade on your hip. For what it's worth, Aya doesn't follow up on your own background: either she's satisfied with your terse responses, or... or what?

At this point, the only way she could try and get more information on you was to ask you herself. It takes a while but it seems that your interviewer is satisfied with what you've given her so far. With a flourish—she's very showy, it seems—Aya tucks her notepad away and meets your gaze.

"So, seeing as you're new and all, and I am one of the most informed people in Gensokyo... I could answer a question or two, if you want! Fair's fair, after all." She grins as you consider her offer. While you hate to keep a lady waiting, there's an opportunity for gathering more information here. "I mean, you just gotta have a question or two!"

What do you do?

[ ] Ask a question...
-[ ] about a woman in a purple dress and a parasol.
-[ ] about Rumia.
-[ ] about the Human Village, and the festival.
-[ ] about herself.
-[ ] Write in

-[ ] Make your farewells, and leave with Keine.

-[ ] Look for Rumia.

-[ ] Write in?

——

Again, I'm back! Life was one hell of a bitch for a while. But now I'm here. Sorry for the huge inconvenience, friends. Also it's nearly 4 AM, so there might be a fuck up here or there....
No. 180064
Hey, welcome back! I missed this.

[X] Ask a question...
-[X] about Rumia.
-[X] about the Human Village, and the festival.
-[X] about herself.

I don't want her to know that we're aware of Yukari, she might start blabbing.
No. 180068
Ask:
-[ ] about Rumia.
-[ ] about the Human Village, and the festival.
-[ ] about herself.

Good to see you're back. Take your time and no worries about the delay. Just make sure you give some warning before you disappear.
No. 180073
Ask:
-[ ] about Rumia.
-[ ] about the Human Village, and the festival.
-[ ] about herself.


Summer is here, and I for one, am glad.
No. 180075
[x] Ask a question...
-[x] about Rumia.
-[x] about the Human Village, and the festival.
-[x] about herself.

yay
No. 180091
[x] Ask a question...
-[x] about Rumia.
-[x] about the Human Village, and the festival.
-[x] about herself.
No. 180148
You can see Keine out of the corner of your eye. She's still reclining underneath a tree of her own. You can't keep your guide waiting forever, but you are reminded of the lackluster explanation that Mokou gave you the other day.

You've just gotten your first taste of how Gensokyo's denizens solves its problems and you would be lying if you weren't fazed in the least. And to think it was being passed off as a minor happening, so much so that the only thing that made it special was your presence.

Despite your doubts you keep a pleasantly placid expression. It is another mask you keep in your possession, you might say. It's one of the many tools you've learned are vital to your work.

Another of those tools is information. As one of your fellows always liked to say, it was one thing to have a knife, but you were fish bait if you didn't know where to stick it without getting stuck yourself.

Normally, you'd be concerned with details: routines, quantity and quality of guards hired, infiltration and exfiltration routes... but now you need context. It's been a while since you've gone travelling, but if you think of it like the jobs you did in Morley or Serkonos—it wouldn't make everything better, but it's a point of familiarity. It gave you a logical procedure you can follow.

"That's very kind of you, Miss Shameimaru. Every time I learn something new, it only seems to raise more questions about this place." You sigh, absentmindedly rubbing your scarred cheek as you do so. "Any assistance you can give me would be most appreciated."

"Miss Shaimeimaru's my mom. Just call me Aya." She gives you a knowing smile, the sort your fellows would have accompanied with an elbow to the ribs. It slides off her face like butter on a hot skillet when you don't react. "Oh... I thought that was a joke, outside the barrier. Guess you didn't hear that one before." She has the grace to look embarrassed for a second or two, before coughing loudly. "A-anyways, what do you want to know?"

"Who was that girl? The one that challenged Keine to that danmaku duel?"

"Oh, Rumia?" Aya spins her pen between her ink-stained fingers. The dark-haired girl is young—physically, at least. If you were to put a number to how old she looked... if she was human, she couldn't be older than seventeen, and that was you giving her the benefit of the doubt. "She's a youkai. Does stuff with shadows, manipulates them or something like that."

That would explain the splotchy darkness she tossed around in her 'danmaku' battle, and the fact that she was flying in the middle of a ball of shadow when she first appeared.

"I mean, it sounds pretty impressive, but it's not. She doesn't do much aside from wandering around, or hanging out with some of her friends to pull pranks on people, stuff like that. She's not all bad, even if she wanted to eat you. She's not bright, either... just don't leave the village by yourself at night and you should be okay. I'd tell you to play a game with her so she'd be less liable to challenge you to a duel next time she sees you, but seeing as you're an Outsider that wouldn't end very well." Aya glanced upwards, brown eyes glancing towards the direction in which Rumia went... or fell, if you were to be precise. "Wonder where she went off to. You shouldn't worry about her too much. Unless you do something really dumb."

"I see. I'll try to avoid provoking her, then." So she was a potential enemy—no, enemy wasn't the word. She seemed more akin to a wolfhound, or some witless thug who favored a certain back alley. A hazard, to be avoided... or exploited, if the circumstances favored it. "What can you tell me about the village?"

"Oh, the human village? It's where almost all of the humans live, ever since they first settled here centuries ago. It's pretty big, considering the circumstances and there are even a few smaller settlements nestled here and there across Gensokyo."

That comes as a bit of a surprise, but if the people settled here centuries ago, they must have a predisposition for hardiness. Humanity had a natural urge to try and expand, to tame the wilderness for their own benefits... though the inhabitants of this land could be forgiven for being a little slow to domesticate the territory. You expect the man-eating children could curb even the hardiest pioneer's enthusiasm.

"Pretty much all of Gensokyo's humans visit the village frequently, from your farmers bringing in their harvest to those wannabe youkai hunters. Now, those guys are crazy... for humans, anyways. ."

"Right, where was I? The Human Village... it's where you should go if you're an outsider. The other... what's the word? Hamlets? The smaller settlements—And I mean really small, most don't have more than a dozen people at most—are kinda xenophobic. I mean, they won't toss you to the wolves, but they're not gonna give you a warm welcome, either." You wonder if she's talking from personal experience, judging by the look of distaste that's creeping onto her features. "It's easiest to get to the Hakurei shrine from the village, if you wanna leave."

"I see. I'll keep that in mind. Miss Kamishirasawa was talking to Mokou about a festival that is going to take place there. Would you know anything about that?"

"Yeah, a spring festival's going to happen in less than a week. It's pretty big around these parts, so anybody who's anybody—youkai, human, whatever—will show up. Lots of fun, too. Drinking, fireworks, that sort of thing. I always get good stuff for the newspaper, so I'm looking forwards to it." Aya nods diligently, patting her strange flashing device as if it's a small excitable pet.

"A festival?" You think of the various Abbey-sponsored ceremonies you've seen back home. Hopefully the people here have better taste than those zealots in their brass masks. "It's been a while since I've been to one of those."

"Really? If that's the case, why don't you stop by? They don't have festivals outside the barrier like they do in Gensokyo, I can tell you that."

"I'll consider it." Waiting that long isn't an option, as tempting as a party with a flock of youkai sounds. Though if 'anybody who's anybody' will be there... if you fail to reach the Hakurei girl by then, maybe she'll make an appearance at this festival. You glance at Aya. "It's quite charitable of you, telling me all this."

"I told you, didn't I? It's my job to keep people in the know." She crosses her arms over her chest. The line sounds rehearsed, but you give no comment. "It'd just feel wrong if I didn't give you something in return after you agreed to be interviewed, you know? I mean, humans are humans, but I'm not one of those youkai who'd sooner throw you into a stock pot or whatever."

"That doesn't mean you have to sit down and give me a lecture on Gensokyo."

"So you don't want me to help you? Can't a simple tengu be generous, from the kindness of her heart?" Aya places one hand over her heart, pouting comically.

"I suppose they can." You shrug, admitting your defeat with a wry smile. "I do appreciate your help, Aya."

"Don't sweat it." She smiles and makes an airy gesture with one hand. "Jeez, have I been here for that long?" Aya's checking a wristwatch and frowning. She stands, dusts herself off and tucks her pen into her breast pocket. "I gotta head on back if I wanna get the next issue ready in time. I'll see you around, Fisher." The tengu then shoots into the sky, stopping to hover just above tree level. "Maybe you can give me your first name, next time!"

Without waiting for an answer, she zips off over the treeline. Moments after she disappears, you see that Keine's already approaching you.

"Thank you for waiting, Miss Kamishirasawa. I just had a few questions I wanted to ask her."

"I don't blame you. Aya is well informed." It sounds like she would have preferred to use some less polite term for it. "We shouldn't stay here for much longer. I'm sure someone else will be around to investigate the ruckus soon enough." It's a logical decision, so you begin to follow Keine. As she walks, she scans the treeline, as if she expects a posse of troublemakers to burst from the bushes...

——

The rest of your trip is peaceful enough. Keine takes you through a scenic countryside: Keine leads you on a path that goes through through rolling hills and wind-swept fields. The sun beats down on the both of you, but a moderate breeze takes away the heat. Like before, there is little conversation, though Keine points out a farm here and there, with the occasional comment about its inhabitants. After a while, you settle in a silence that is only halfway comfortable.

When you stand atop a particularly tall hill, Keine stops. She's looking down, at something in the distance, and turns to you when you join her.

"There it is."

The village is larger than you imagined: from the hill you can see that it's closer to a town in size. It is surrounded on all sides by a gently curving wall, with half a dozen towers placed around its circumference. The wall itself changes from stretches of mossy rock to relatively new-looking sections of earthwork. There are even some areas where the wall is made of wooden palisades before again returning to time-worn rock. You see scaffolds here and there, with men hauling stones around on makeshift pulleys and the like.

Encased within this slapdash wall is a collection of buildings in varying size. It's hard to tell from here, but they seem to be similar in construction to Mokou's house, though some are several stories high at most.

Even from here, you can hear it: the sounds of people going about their daily routine. Living, breathing, making their way through the streets without fear of plague. You've lived in the Flooded District for so long that it's almost surreal to think that the majority of those buildings aren't dilapidated weeper dens, or else shelters for the desperate survivors.

"Recently, the headman approved a long-term project to renovate the wall surrounding the village." It sounds like she doesn't think highly of the idea. "It's been hard to keep the fairies from pulling pranks on the workmen, or from other youkai trying to scare the living daylights out of them." There's a weary expression on Keine's face. "I know it'll be worth it in the end, but..." The schoolteacher looks at you as if seeing you for the first time, looking a little embarrassed. "I'm sorry, I shouldn't be complaining to you about such silly things. We should press on."

With that, she leads you down to the village's main gate.

The wooden gate is rather simple compared to the wrought-iron monstrosities that you can recall. Even the two towers erected on either side seem like slapdash work compared to the blued steel of Sokolov's automated monstrosities.

Your disparaging assessment of the village's defenses is interrupted by the piercing cry of a crow. You crane your neck, watching as the bird in question flies over the village, away from you and Keine.

A chill runs up your spine. You never liked those birds, ripping at dead faces with their black beaks, or else staring at you with beady eyes. But this was different. You felt something in its shrill call.

"It's probably nothing."

"What?" Keine's looking at you curiously.

"Ah, it's nothing. I was just thinking to myself." She looks at you for a moment, but doesn't say anything.

The guards here aren't too different from guards you'd see anywhere: barrel-chested men with rough hands, clutching spears or crossbows when they'd rather be out drinking or whoring. It doesn't take more than a second of careful scrutiny to realize that they're second-rate. They stand around listlessly, letting most folk pass by without so much as a cursory glance. You even see two ugly fellows discreetly passing around a hip flask when they think no one is looking.

Wherever you go, it seems that they pick the laziest fellows for the most important work. It'd be so easy to sneak past these bums or cut them down, even without the Outsider-given powers you possess.

"Miss Kamishirasawa." The youngest—and apparently the only sober—man among them greets Keine, bowing his head respectfully. She replies in turn, but by the way she's glaring at his comrades, she's not pleased with any of them either.

"Good afternoon, Gin." The guard shoots you a look, but Keine's presence seems to dispel any apprehension he has. In spite of that, you catch his eyes as they linger on your scar and on the sword you wear. There's no question that he'll remember your face.

But he won't have a reason to, you remind yourself as Keine walks down what you assume is the village's main street. You'd be nothing more than a vague impression of a suspicious character in his memory, while you'd be back in Dunwall, at Daud's side.

It has been so long since you've been around so many people—you don't count the other Whalers: you knew them and they knew you, and half of the time most of them were out on assignments or else patrolling the Flooded District—that it's a little startling. Flashes of color and light and sound surround you, but it's not the groan of a weeper or the muzzle flare of a Watch officer's pistol: instead fine silks are hung from the arms of a doddering tailor and you spy a wolf-eared(!) girl haggling with a butcher for a haunch of meat. People garbed in strange robes are everywhere. Men and women and children of all shapes and sizes are talking and laughing and arguing all around: the sheer amount of life surrounding you is almost overwhelming.

Keine stops in a moderately sized square. In the center is the statue of a winged serpent, surrounded by candles and sticks of burning incense. Is this their god? After giving it a momentary glance, she turns to you.

"Well, here we are. Mokou said you wanted to see the shrine maiden right away, but I don't know if she's in town. I wouldn't suggest travelling to the shrine now, not in your condition. There's an inn for outsiders nearby, called the Halfway House. I think we should go there, before anything else, see if we can get you a room."

You catch a glimpse of something at the edge of your vision, and turn to see a restaurant of sorts. There's a sign, above the open doorway, written in the local tongue. As your eyes pass over the incomprehensible script, your vision blurs. The characters on the wooden sign seem to writhe like a tangle of black snakes.

Your vision shifts again, and a impression rises to the top of your mind: you're looking at a restaurant owned by a man named Yamada. There's a special for today: a bowl of noodle soup and tea. It's identical to the feeling that you had when you first heard Mokou speak—a duality that is impossible to describe. You're seeing two things at once, one superimposed over the other, and it's giving you a headache.

"Are you alright?" Keine's voice cuts through your confusion, and you realize that you're grimacing.

"I—yes, I'm fine." Your eyes are watering and it feels like your brain is going to turn into a thick, glue-like stew. "I'm just a little tired."

"You look more than tired." Her brows are knotted with an almost motherly concern. "There's a tea house over there. Maybe you should sit down, even for a few minutes."

You consider how to answer Keine. While you do feel weak, you're not going to keel over dead. Besides that, it feels positively strange to be led around like you're a tourist fresh off the boat... but you had to face it. At this point, you might as well be one. Her knowledge could be very valuable.

Though you could always go on by yourself—as a schoolteacher and protector of the village, Keine must have something she's putting off for your sake. It might be possible to use that to go on into the village by yourself. After all, she seems to be a person of note within the village, and any eyes on someone like would be eyes on you as well.

> Continue...
[ ] With Keine
[ ] Alone

> You intend to...
[ ] Order a cup of tea till your headache goes away
[ ] Find the inn
[ ] Write in? (Specify an objective, or destination you're looking for in particular.)

——

There was a bit of a delay here because I always get a bit antsy when thinking of what Touhou Girl X is gonna say. I guess that's one of my biggest fears, just writing a bad interpretation (especially with important characters who I plan to bring out later on... the 'movers and shakers' of Gensokyo, you know?) Yeah, I know this is Touhou I'm talking about, and this is my CYOA, but I want to write likable characters who you guys want to interact with. Then there's the matter of Fisher not having enough character himself... Bah, I'll just have to keep it in the front of my mind as I write. Enough whining from me, and thank you for the kind words as always!
No. 180151
[x] Order a cup of tea till your headache goes away
>spoiler
Your Aya was pretty good. Actually has a personality without resorting to overblown skirt-flipping and AYAYAYAYA spam.
Was Mokou just a bit part?
No. 180156
[X] With Keine
[X] Order a cup of tea till your headache goes away

I think we're being watched with or without her. We might as well keep her around as long as possible.
No. 180166
[X] With Keine
[X] Order a cup of tea till your headache goes away

I think Yukari used some sort of crow youkai to spy on the Lunar Capital, that's likely what Yukari sensed. If Yukari isn't aware of our location now she will be soon. Keeping Keine around will at least make Yukari hesitate before gapping us away when nobody is looking.
No. 180176
I'm very embarrassed. Please pretend there's a 'and wait' in the first option of the second action...

>>180151 That's up to you and your choices, friend!
No. 180209
[x] With Keine
[x] Order a cup of tea till your headache goes away


If you're accepting a bit of constructive critisism, this part was a bit weird to read:

"The rest of your trip is peaceful enough. Keine takes you through a scenic countryside: Keine leads you on a path that goes through through rolling hills and wind-swept fields. The sun beats down on the both of you, but a moderate breeze takes away the heat. Like before, there is little conversation, though Keine points out a farm here and there, with the occasional comment about its inhabitants. After a while, you settle in a silence that is only halfway comfortable.

When you stand atop a particularly tall hill, Keine stops."

It's sorta "Keine Keine Keine Keine".
You shouldn't have to use a name more than once in such a short time.
(For example, "Keine takes you through a scenic countryside: Keine leads you on a path that goes through through rolling hills and wind-swept fields." could cut away part of the middle. Just make it "through a scenic countryside, on a path that[...]". The next time you mention her name, you could replace it with "she", and the last one could be e.g. "the two of you stop on a particulatly tall hill".)
No. 180297
The update should be up by tomorrow. Thanks for bearing with me, fellas.

>>180209

Thank you for the advice, and I'm always looking for constructive criticism. Thank you!
No. 180332
The world shifts and churns before your eyes, as if you were attempting to transverse from one end of Dunwall to the other. Accompanying that is this peculiar sense of vertigo, a tingling in your feet and in the pit of your stomach even though you have your feet firmly planted upon the earth.

It's not a particularly new feeling—after joining the Whalers, you suffered terribly after first forging that arcane bond with your master. The energies of the Void could pulp a man's spirit like a rotten pear—or so the stories went—so it only seemed natural that being infused with the stuff wouldn't do your body any good.

You were one of the lucky ones: you can tether and transverse with the best of them, and you've never suffered any of the headaches or bouts of amnesia that some of your comrades reported from time to time.

Until now, that is.

As you struggle to come up with some explanation for your current state, you realize that you know so very little about the powers you've been given, even if you're one of Daud's best men. Even Daud himself knew very little about how they worked, if he knew anything at all. Before it was of little consequence—you only cared whether the powers worked as the others said they did—but you are just frustrated.

"Alright. That sounds like a good idea." You remember Mokou's cigarettes and wish you had some to smoke as you had your tea. Or better yet—you wish you had your pipe and a bag of fine Serkonan tobacco.

Keine nods, a poorly hidden expression of relief on her face.

"Okay. It's just over there." She leads you to the rather shabby building at the other end of the square. Past the brittle sliding doors, you are met with a rather sparse interior, with the only bit of decoration being a curious brush painting hanging on the wall. The wooden tables look very old, but you get an impression of cleanliness from the entire place.

There are only two other people here: a wizened old woman behind the counter and a young man in an apron. The serving boy stumbles over himself to greet the two of you, while Keine exchanges polite greetings with the server and the old woman. She is pleasantly surprised to see the village's famous protector in her own tea house, and launches into a cheery conversation that seems to make your headache worse. The owner doesn't speak much to you past her hesitant hello, even after Keine introduces you as a traveler who just arrived in Gensokyo.

The old woman soon excuses herself, while the boy ushers the two of you to a window seat, scribbling down Keine's order on a notepad. You're glad for the silence that he leaves in his wake.

You cast your glance out the window and towards the square, which is almost devoid of people. Then you see a peculiar sight: a particularly large crow is standing in front of a restaurant on the opposite end of the square. It is so still that for a moment you wonder if it's a statuette to accompany the dragon.

As if it was waiting for you to look at it, the creature leaps into action, hopping along the edge of the square. Its movements are quick, almost jerky: it looks like the bird is being yanked along by an invisible thread. From time to time you see the crow twitch involuntarily as it hops along.

You wonder if something's wrong with the bird, but the clattering of porcelain draws your eyes back to your table.

"Here you go." Your server looks supremely indifferent, even as your guide frowns at his carelessness. It seems that this has happened before, as the young man—more of a boy, really—disappears before he can be reprimanded. Keine looks positively disappointed, and sighs gustily as she busies herself with the items on the tray. It doesn't take more than a few seconds before a steaming cup of hot tea sits before you, along with a plate of some curious ball-shaped pastries.

Keine takes her cup and blows on it gently. You refrain from picking it up right away and for the moment satisfy yourself with watching the fragrant steam curl up into the air.

"I'm sorry, Mister Fisher. Mokou told me that you were still recovering after your run-in with the tsuchigumo, but I must have overestimated Yagokoro's work..." She tucks a lock of hair behind one ear, in a gesture that seems nervous. "It was careless of me, really."

"Don't worry. I should be the one apologizing." Scooping up your cup, you take a cautious sip. "Ah. It's very good."

"It's the house specialty. Please, try the rice cake."

The 'rice cake' is soft to the though, almost gelatinous, and it's filled with an unidentifiable red paste. It's almost too sweet for your tastes, but it's quite delicious. "It's good." Keine finds your response rather amusing, and chuckles softly. You find yourself inhaling the other little cakes on your plate, leaving nothing but the rice flour on your fingers.

As you find yourself wishing for more, you realize that your headache has abated somewhat. There is still a dull throbbing in your temples, but it's bearable now.

"Ah, how much is the bill?" You are already reaching for your knapsack, and for a certain leather pouch inside it. You didn't even know how much your coin was worth here, though you did have the pieces of ten. The ugly little things—stamped with the likeness of the Regent himself, that shriveled prick—were made almost entirely out of gold. That had to be worth something to the people here.

"Please, you don't have to. You're a guest, after all." Keine's look of surprise is quickly replaced by a smile. "How are you feeling?"

"Better. It seems that you were right. I think I just needed a moment to catch my breath." Keine nods as she sips her tea. Your words seem to mollify her somewhat. "I'm sorry for the trouble."

"It's no trouble to help someone who needs it."

You don't really have an answer to that past the usual empty platitudes, so you nod and pour yourself another cup. You glance outside once more to see the crow. It hasn't flown off: instead, it is slowly hopping around the square like a clockwork toy.

Every time the occasional villager passes by, it flies up in a flurry of black feathers to fly in a silent circle above the square. When the offending villager has left, the bird lands exactly where it was moments ago and continues hopping about like a fish struggling against a line.

It is, quite frankly, bizarre.

The strangest thing is that nobody seems to notice the bird's odd behavior even as it hops past their stores or flies circles over their heads. It could be that Gensokyo's crows were particularly eccentric beasts, but you refrain from pointing it out to your guide.

You are suddenly reminded of Delilah's revenant hounds. The hounds were ugly things, wizened corpses draped in the meanest layer of leather and sinew, with exposed skulls bleached by time or else by a butcher's knife. The beasts stalked the halls of Brigmore Manor, mauling your comrades with as much vigor as their living kin. Your memories of their ferocity are still very clear in your mind—the sting of partially healed wounds is a testament to that.

If one could enchant a wolfhound... who was to say that a witch couldn't enchant a crow? Though it could be a symptom of something else—maybe it merely had a lamed wing. Maybe it was just a particularly stupid crow.

A semblance of clarity returns to your thoughts. Maybe the tea is more potent than you thought... or maybe you're just falling back into old habits, ignoring the pain to deal with threats to your person, whether they're real or imagined.

Whatever the case is, you're almost certain that the crow will reach the front of the tea house in a minute or so.

You then...

[ ] Ignore it and have another cup of tea. It's just a stupid crow, nothing more. Your headache must be worsening your paranoia.

[ ] Tell Keine you'd like to go find the Halfway House. You have your suspicions... but they are merely suspicions. You've got better things to do.

[ ] Point out the crow to Keine. She might know what this thing is, and dispel your paranoid thoughts... or even confirm them.

[ ] Find a back door and put some distance between you and the crow—and whoever is controlling it. The inn won't be going anywhere, now will it?

[ ] Shoot the crow with your wristbow. If it's truly a magical spy, you'll just have to send its master a message. You never liked those filthy carrion-eaters anyways.

[ ] Write-in?

——

Sorry that this is a bit late, and if it's not the greatest update (please point out any errors, it's nearly 5 AM and I'm sure I've missed one or two of them.) I got Watch Dogs and got pretty distracted, so I'm sorry about that, haha! The game isn't the super groundbreaking amazing game that Ubisoft said it'd be, but I find it really fun. I've hit way too many civilians while en route to missions, though. As always, thank you for reading.
No. 180335
>>180332
[x] Point out the crow to Keine. She might know what this thing is, and dispel your paranoid thoughts... or even confirm them.
No. 180336
[X] Point out the crow to Keine. She might know what this thing is, and dispel your paranoid thoughts... or even confirm them.

Well, we brought her along for a reason.
No. 180337
[x] Point out the crow to Keine. She might know what this thing is, and dispel your paranoid thoughts... or even confirm them.

Either way, that crow's behavior is far from normal.
No. 180338
[x] Point out the crow to Keine. She might know what this thing is, and dispel your paranoid thoughts... or even confirm them.
No. 180340
[x] Point out the crow to Keine. She might know what this thing is, and dispel your paranoid thoughts... or even confirm them.
inb4 she can't see it
No. 180341
[X] Point out the crow to Keine. She might know what this thing is, and dispel your paranoid thoughts... or even confirm them.
No. 180363
[X]-"Get lost" in a empty alley and shoot the crow.

Do we really want to point the crow out to Keine? She'll probably understand we're being followed but she'll wonder how a normal "whaler" was perceptive enough to see a magical spy.
No. 180399
[X]-"Get lost" in a empty alley and shoot wings of the crow. Then, interrogate the bastard.

Interrogations for the god of interrogations!
Torture scenes for the torture scene throne!
No. 180408
>>180399
Oh, yeah. I'm sure that will really help us avoid attention.
No. 180415
[X] Point out the crow to Keine. She might know what this thing is, and dispel your paranoid thoughts... or even confirm them.

Never hurts to ask.
No. 180480
[X] Point out the crow to Keine. She might know what this thing is, and dispel your paranoid thoughts... or even confirm them.
No. 180524
The update will have to come this week, friends! This week's been rough. Thank you for your patience!
No. 180714
>>180524
?
No. 180834
"Miss Kamishirasawa." Keine looks at you, her cup of tea halfway to her mouth. Despite the situation, you can't help but find it an amusing sight.

"Hm?"


"Outside the shop. In the square, there's a crow..." She tilts her head, waiting for you to continue. "Just now, it was hopping about and acting very strangely in general." It's difficult to try and put what you saw into words. "I don't think..."

"Oh, you don't have to worry about it... it's just a crow. There aren't any animal youkai who are stupid enough to come this close to the village." Keine cups her cheek as she looks outside. "Well, some do, but we deal with them quickly."

"No, it's not that, I... it was..." It's futile, you realize, and stop. She must be thinking about what Mokou must have told her: you were attacked by an animal youkai moments after arriving in Gensokyo, after all.

"I... you must be tired." She frowns in apparent concern. For some reason it's irritating to see. "We should leave... when you're ready, I mean. I think it's time to get you to the Halfway House."

"I'm fine." Your words come out a little harsher than you would've liked. "Thank you." You spot a frown pass over her fine features but she doesn't say anything else.

When you glance at it again, the bird is preening itself with its beak. Now its movements look natural, with no trace of its previous behavior. Could you have been hallucinating, or else reading too much into the quirks of some winged rat? You cannot say.

As if reading your mind the bird glances in your direction with a beady eye. After a moment, it squawks—you'd say in indignation, but you're not that far gone, not yet—and flies off in a flurry of black feathers. It's hard to resist, but you refrain from shooting the flying pest with your wristbow. It would've been a stupid thing to do—or would it?—but it would've been a good way to relieve yourself of your current frustration.

Fostering a healthy sense of paranoia is something you've had for most of your life, even before you became a Whaler. It was only natural, when you had suicidally confident guardsmen out to stick you for an extra ration of whiskey, or those brass-faced zealots looking to torture you till you'd sing the Seven Strictures at the top of your lungs.

If you'd been speaking with Thomas or Rinaldo, things would be different—by the Void, even Pickford Hearn wouldn't have dismissed your worries like this woman just did. At the very least, they would've done something about it. Though it isn't like you expect anything from her: she's a schoolteacher with quite a lot on her mind. You must look quite the fool to her right now. But there's no use complaining about it, and no use in making a scene by going out and investigating the feathered pest.

Keine quickly finishes her tea, pays the server and leads you out into the village proper. You quickly escape the hustle and bustle of the main streets, but even then you still find yourself surrounded by people. It's a reminder of your lonely lifestyle... and of how quickly Dunwall's population dwindled.

Grim thoughts aside, you begin to see a pattern in the activity of those surrounding you. Several middle-aged women sit in front of a store, their laps festooned with armfuls of rope. They're stringing paper lanterns along its length, chatting noisily as they do so. A boy runs stumbles past the two of you, a box of what appear to be ornate masks in his arms.

As usual, Keine is met with a chorus of greetings from the natives. Again, the schoolteacher's presence seems to legitimize yours, so no one bothers you too much aside from nasty looks and too-loud whispering.

"Everyone's really getting into the spirit of the season." Keine is smiling to herself as she speaks, admiring the hard work going on around her. Just as she speaks, a man turns around the corner, clutching several bolts of silk in spindly arms.

"Ah, Teacher Kamishirasawa!" He manages to stop himself before he runs into the two of you. He bows his head whilst wheezing out what you assume are apologies.

"Good afternoon, Hayase." In spite of this clown's antics, Keine remains relatively calm.

"Good afternoon to you as well. I needed to ask you about the sorcerer's robes, since I couldn't get ahold of anyone else. You see..." You remember Keine and Mokou talking about a play being put on during this festival everyone's talking about.

Their conversation is short, and as soon as Keine gives him an answer the man scurries off. He was in such a hurry that he didn't even pause to acknowledge your presence, unlike virtually everyone else you've met in town.

"I did hear a little about a play before. What will this year's production be?" You doubt it would be 'The Young Prince of Tyvia', though considering your luck, you feel like anything is possible.

"Ah, this year they're going to perform 'Okuni and the Sorcerer', one of my personal favorites. We haven't performed it in such a long time." You find title intriguing, but with any luck you'll be long gone before the play begins. "I do hope you'll come, if you've the chance."

You give her a nod, not wishing to say anything more concrete.

You notice that foot traffic is steadily decreasing as the schoolteacher leads you deeper into the village. The footpath shrinks as the buildings grow larger and older as you go along. It isn't long before the two of you are alone.

"There it is." Keine doesn't have to point: it's obvious, even from where you stand. The inn is a surprisingly large building that stands adjacent to an older section of the town wall. Unlike most of the village's buildings, it stands several stories tall, and is surrounded by a sturdy-looking wall.

When you pass through the Halfway House's imposing wooden gates, there is but a single living being to be seen. You see a slender man in his seventies with long white hair. He is sitting at a table beside the front door, wearing a dark green robe—a kimono, as Keine named them—that nearly makes him disappear in the shadows of the dimly lit courtyard. Despite the lines on his face and shaggy white hair, the man's eyes are sharp and his posture supple.

"He's a half-phantom." Keine mutters to you, as if that's supposed to mean anything. When she realizes her faux pas, she sighs. "Ah, well he's... just don't ask about the... you know."

This man's—half-phantom, whatever the case may be—attention is fixated on a deck of cards spread out across a table, though you feel his gaze upon you as soon as you cross over the threshold.

"Ah, good afternoon." You note that a long white scar traces over his left eye. There's a strange sort of air around this man, a strangeness you can't exactly put into words.

Then you see the cloud gathered around his feet. It's an opaque mass of white cloudlike vapor. It reminds you of a fog bank rolling in over the Wrenhaven, except it's barely large enough to obscure his feet. You'd liken its movements to a drowsy cat, though you're not sure if the comparison is apt. Keine did mention something about half-phantoms. So the man was part-spirit.

"Oh, it's Miss Keine. Certainly has been a while since I've seen you." He places a card down as he speaks, then stands up. It's then when you see it: the man may be of advanced age, but it's clear that he's far from senile. He looks as spry as someone half his age. "You've been busy with the festival, I s'pose. Keeping well, I hope?"

"I have, I have." She nods briskly. "I hear business has been slow lately, so I decided to bring you a new customer."

"How thoughtful of you." He turns to you with one hand extended. "I'm Youki Konpaku, and I own this inn."

"Fisher." You take the man's hand. His handshake is like his speech: brisk and businesslike, yet not without a measure of steel.

"That's a good name." He nods in approval, a serious expression written on his face. "Welcome to the Halfway House, Mister Fisher." He sits back down again and picks up a card. A look of annoyance flickers over his features before he places it down onto the table. "We only have two other guests—outsiders like yourself, by the way—staying with us right now, so you have free rein to pick almost any room you wish. Any talk of payment can come later, because you look dead on your feet."

You wouldn't have used such a dramatic turn of phrase, but he's right. You'd like a mug of mulled cider and a bowl of hagfish chowder, but you can take whatever you can get right now.

"Now, for the rules of this establishment..."

Before he continues, the tranquility of the scene is broken by yet another villager. This one practically hurls himself through the gate. This newcomer is a wild-eyed youth with flyaway hair. His robes look disheveled, and he is barefooted. He's not as out of breath as the man you saw earlier, though this fellow looks considerably more agitated.

"I-Ichirou?" Before she can say anything else, the fellow stabs a finger in the direction from whence he came.

"Miss Kamishirasawa! I'm so sorry to interrupt you but the Kirisame girl and one of the servants from the Scarlet Devil Mansion are having a duel outside Suzunaan. Nobody knows who started it, or why, but at this rate they're going to flatten the entire neighborhood!" If the upcoming play was to be a comedy, you certainly hope this man will have a part in it. You haven't seen anyone so ready to piss himself in ages.

Keine's face visibly blanches, and she turns to you.

"I-if you'll excuse me, I have to go and attend to this..." This Ichirou man is hyperventilating at this point. You'd think his family was being gnawed on by weepers, the way he's wringing his wrists. "I'll leave him with you, Youki, if that's okay."

"Don't worry, don't worry." The old man sits back down at his table with a grin on his face. "Go and protect the village, Kamishirasawa. We'll be cheering you on from here, as usual." He waves her off with one hand and returns to his game.

You're standing between the two of them, so it's getting a little awkward, so to speak.

The old man looks at you as he continues. "I'll take care of Fisher here, so there's nothing to worry about."

[ ] Follow Keine. Watching another spellcard duel may give you more information on the local politics than hours of probing questions ever could.

[ ] You've had enough excitement for one day. Stay at the Halfway House and get some rest. The owner is strange, but if Keine vouches for him, you can trust him.

[ ] Decline this Konpaku man's services; that old aphorism about sleeping in the panther's den comes to mind. You can rest—for free—in some alleyway of your choice.

[ ] Write-in?

——

This took way longer than a week to write, so you have my deepest apologies, friends—I should also apologize for the length of the update. Life has been really tough for a while, in a lot of ways. It's why I wasn't able to say anything till now. Again, I'm sorry for being flaky.
No. 180837
[x] Follow Keine. Watching another spellcard duel may give you more information on the local politics than hours of probing questions ever could.
No. 180838
[x] You've had enough excitement for one day. Stay at the Halfway House and get some rest. The owner is strange, but if Keine vouches for him, you can trust him.

Hey, I'm just glad to see this thing update! Anyway, I'd like to learn a bit more about Youki.
No. 180839
[X] Follow Keine. Watching another spellcard duel may give you more information on the local politics than hours of probing questions ever could.

Hopefully we'll learn things that will help us create our own.
No. 180840
[x] You've had enough excitement for one day. Stay at the Halfway House and get some rest. The owner is strange, but if Keine vouches for him, you can trust him.

We probably shouldn't go near the commotion, I don't much like the thought of sleeping alone in an alley, either.
No. 180842
[x] You've had enough excitement for one day. Stay at the Halfway House and get some rest. The owner is strange, but if Keine vouches for him, you can trust him.

No need to be rude. I imagine trouble will find US soon enough.
No. 180843
[x] You've had enough excitement for one day. Stay at the Halfway House and get some rest. The owner is strange, but if Keine vouches for him, you can trust him.
Time for sleep and hopefully dreams.
No. 180868
[x] You've had enough excitement for one day. Stay at the Halfway House and get some rest. The owner is strange, but if Keine vouches for him, you can trust him.

Staying at an unfamiliar inn versus sleeping in an unfamiliar back street.
I think I know which one I'd prefer.
No. 180892
[x] You've had enough excitement for one day. Stay at the Halfway House and get some rest. The owner is strange, but if Keine vouches for him, you can trust him.
No. 181087
"Thank you, Youki." Keine's practically being dragged away by the panicking Ichirou. "Take care, Mister Fisher. If you need something, you can usually find me at the school."

"Thank you... and I'll keep that in mind." With that, the schoolteacher leaves... or, more accurately, is led away.

Several moments pass in the silence left in her wake, before the old man speaks.

"As I was saying... the rules of this establishment are simple. No fighting, alcohol or magic on the premises. If you wish to smoke, do so here, in the courtyard." You can understand the smoking, but magic? Well, when you think about it, the colorful displays of a danmaku duel would certainly be a nuisance in a place like this. You dismiss the notion and accept it as just another sign that you're hopelessly new to this land. "As for drinking, or magic... that sort of this is for younger men like yourself, so the least you could do is do all that in the village proper. There's plenty of bars in the village, believe me. Wonderful places to get into a drunken brawl, though don't come crying to me if they get it in their heads to try and run you out of the village."

"I won't cause any trouble." Not if you don't have to. "You won't have to worry about me, Mister Konpaku."

"I certainly hope so." Youki begins to move towards the entrance of the inn, but stops and turns to you again.

"Ah, before I forget... if you're thinking about bringing company over for the night, don't." When he sees your expression, Youki lets out a dry coughing sound you guess is a laugh. "I'd be happy to recommend a few places to have a romantic night out, but if you ruin my sheets or my sleep, you'll most certainly regret it."

There's little chance of that, you think as you give your host another nod.

You then find yourself trying to remember the last time you actually had a woman. You realize that it's been a while—which, upon further reflection, is understandable due to your line of work and the plague burning out half of Dunwall, which was far from conducive to anyone's love life, except maybe those of the rats—but it's no skin off your nose. A roll in the hay's not exactly high on your list of priorities right now.

"As for where you'll be staying... only one room currently is available on the ground floor, though no one is staying on the second. There's always the attic room, but that's a bit inconvenient, I think... but it's up to you. If you need some clothing, there's a closet in the attic. I'm sure you'll find something there that will fit you. If you find something you like, you're free to take it. All I ask is that you be reasonable."

"Ah, For free?" When was the last time you got something for free? Aside from the things you stole, of course... it's just surprising for something like that to come up.

"I just said they're free, didn't I? Most of them are donated by travelers or the villagers. Quite a few people show up on my doorstep with little more than the clothes on their back, so I've found it convenient to keep some clothes on hand."

"Dinner will be ready in a short while..." Youki pauses as he sniffs in your direction. He raises a hand to his face and waves it before his nose. "And you reek." He is correct—even before arriving in Gensokyo, you didn't exactly have the time for proper grooming, what with you and yours waging a shadowy war against a coven of bloodthirsty, power-hungry witches—but you think he could stand to be a bit more polite. "Luckily for the both of us I just had a bath drawn and warmed... you can have it." You begin to protest, out of sheer politeness rather than anything else, but he waves them away. "Don't say anything, you most certainly need it more than I do. It's this way. Come on, before you stink up the whole place."

He crosses over the threshold and enters the Halfway House. After the briefest pause, you follow him. In what you take to be the lobby, the old man removes his slippers before entering the building, placing them on a rack of some sort. You take your boots off, setting them beside the unfamiliar-looking footwear. The wooden floors are cool against your feet, even through your socks.

The architecture of the Halfway house is somewhat familiar to what you are familiar with: it seems the outside is little more than a facade to blend in with the rest of the villages. The solid wooden floors and carved furniture are familiar in a way that is almost comforting.

As you walk down the hall, you overhear people talking in one of the rooms: couldn't be more than two or three speakers, judging by the noise they're making. Must be the other guests Youki mentioned.

Thankfully, he doesn't bother to introduce them to you, deigning to lead you down another hallway, where he stops to give you some last instructions.

"It's just down the hall. Second door to your left. Leave your dirty laundry in the bin, and I'll have the girl wash it. And when you're ready, the dining room is just here." He indicates a set of double doors.

You thank Youki again and he leaves you to your business. The bathroom... is quite different from any bathroom you've seen before. There is a tub, yes, but it looks very cramped. There's a drain in a tiled area, where you suppose you'll take your bath, and a... stool? At least the soap looks familiar.

You pause to wonder at how you're supposed to go about this, but your desire to be clean overwhelms the need to be polite. To hell with foreign etiquette, you think as you begin to strip. You're tired and you've been through the Void and back. Literally!

After some deliberation, you toss your grass-stained uniform into the bin that Youki spoke of... after you empty out its many pockets and place your things your knapsack, which you leave in a corner of the bathroom. Your bone charms begin to sing as soon as they leave your possession, but at this point you want to cling to the familiar noise.

When you unwind the bandages covering your body, you see patches of fresh skin, tinted a raw pink. This in itself isn't something alien to you: the Void-energies that you are regularly exposed to has strange effects on your body. It's just that you didn't expect to be healed so soon... though you remember that a doctor who may or may not be magical in nature saw to your wounds.

Silently, you thank this Yagokoro woman—at least that's the name Mokou mentioned, now that you think about it—and hope she doesn't come calling to collect her debt. Not until you've left Gensokyo for good.

Picking up the wooden ladle, you douse yourself in water. With quick, methodical movements you work up a lather, dislodging the dirt and muck of your travels. The hot water is divine, and so is the feeling of being clean for the first time in Void knows how long. It's surprisingly enjoyable to watch the filthy water flow down the drain.

For a while you sit on the stool with your back against the wall. In a moment of weakness, you let yourself go so far as to sigh loudly. In a perfect world, you would be able to find this Hakurei girl and forgo staying the night... but now that you've had a moment to stop, you're having trouble keeping your eyes open. Keine and Youki are right: you feel dead on your feet. You can feel your joints creak and it's a struggle to keep from falling asleep here. From what you've learned, you certainly need to keep your wits about you, if gods and spirits haunt the shadows of Gensokyo.

After you bathe, you dry yourself off and slip into one of the fluffy-looking bathrobes hanging from a hook on the wall. You're glad there's no mirror here: you must be quite a sight, wounds and all.

If only they could see you now—you just had a piping hot bath all to yourself with soap that didn't make your skin feel like it was going to peel off... and now you were wearing a fluffy bathrobe. The only time you've actually seen a bathrobe was when you killed some up-and-coming whaling tycoon in the Estate District. Now you were waltzing around in one of the damn things.

You consider yourself lucky that nobody accosts you as you make your way to the attic that Youki mentioned with your knapsack in tow.

It defeats your expectations by being neatly arranged and utterly clean, with nary a cobweb or dust bunny to be seen. There are two doors that you can see. One of them leads to the attic bedroom—it turns out to be small, but with a bed that looked reasonably comfortable—while the other must contain the closet that Youki spoke of.

What he referred to as a 'closet' is a room of its own: clothes are piled everywhere, folded up in neat stacks or hanging from hooks. The fashions represented within the closet is diverse: you recognize the cut and material of some of the items within... and others are as alien to you as anything you've encountered here in Gensokyo. You are not imaginative enough to visualize how some of these garments were meant to be worn.

When you get over the minor distraction, you decide to forgo the flowing robes favored by the locals. Instead you pick out a pair of worn-out trousers and a nondescript white shirt, with sleeves long enough to conceal your tattoos. They fit reasonably well and do not hinder your mobility—it would be a shame to be caught and slain by some foe because you couldn't run, after all.

When you go downstairs and into the room that Youki spoke of, he's the only person in the room, the design of which is, unlike the rest of the inn, very similar to Mokou's house. That is, it's very sparse, with little furnishing aside from a ridiculously low table. He beckons for you to join him, indicating a meal that has been set out for you.

"The other guests have already eaten dinner." He states it flatly, without any hint of accusation in his tone.

"I apologize for keeping you up."

"It's fine. I'm the host here; I can't have you eat dinner by yourself, can I?" The old man's untouched dinner is set out before him. He glances at your new clothes, his gaze inscrutable. "You look a lot better. There's nothing like a good bath after a long journey, is there?" You give him a grunt as you pick up the chopsticks and tuck in. Youki's timing is impeccable—the food's still hot.

It isn't long before Youki tries to strike up conversation once more.

"I haven't had a guest carry a sword into my inn for some time."

"I apologize if it bothers you."

"No, no, don't bother. You must have come a long way. Gensokyo's not very kind to most newcomers, so maybe it's a good thing you have something to defend yourself with."

"I wouldn't think a sword on its own is enough to deal with youkai." The tsuchigumo's fangs glint in your mind's eye. Anyone trying to deal with those monsters on a regular basis would need wheel-lock pistols... or magic unlike anything you've seen, though you've seen plenty of that already.

"They're just animals, and if you're attacked by a youkai, it's most probably a reward for your own foolishness. Wandering off the paths and such. Though the shrine maiden's made sure no one's been eaten recently." Youki waves one hand dismissively. "People are the real problem, or so I've come to realize. Thankfully, we haven't had a bandit problem here in centuries. Any criminals stupid enough to hide out in this region would just get themselves eaten by the youkai. Then the barrier was erected, and even more youkai moved here."

"I've been lucky enough to find generous host who told me as much."

"Hah." He nods. "That must have been Keine."

You don't bother to correct him.

"Gave you the tour already, didn't she? How long do you plan to stay?"

"Gensokyo surely is an interesting place, but I fear that I must leave as soon as possible." Youki's certainly asking quite a few questions. He could just be playing the part of a polite innkeeper, making conversation... or what?

"Then you'll be looking for the Hakurei Shrine."

"I was told as much before. The... shrine maiden, she is the gatekeeper between this realm and the outside world, or so I am led to believe."

"Of course she is. You know, I thought I'd have to lecture you about which way's up around here. Of course Keine'd make sure you knew which way was up, but... I kinda like doing that. Eh, whatever." As his gaze drifts off, the old man reaches up and scratches his chin. "The Hakurei shrine... the current shrine maiden is a bit lazy, but who doesn't shirk their responsibilities every now and then, especially at her age? She does take her duties seriously whenever an incident occurs, but she lacks discipline in almost everything else. It's no wonder nobody donates to her shrine anymore."

You nod in mute agreement as he rambles on about his mixed opinions on the girl and her place in local politics—it doesn't matter at all to you; the shrine maiden could be a withered old fossil like Granny Rags who'd never had an honest day's work in her miserable life. All that mattered was whether or not she could guarantee your exit from this strange land.

After Youki's rambling pans out and he falls silent, the rest of the meal passes quickly and quietly. When you finish, you set the chopsticks atop your plate.

"Thank you for the meal."

"Mm." You stand up, and the old man does the same. "Thank you for indulging an old man and enduring his senile muttering. You can leave those there—the girl will see to it. Good night, Mister Fisher."

With one last nod in your host's direction, you leave the room and head off to bed.

——

Which floor do you decide to stay on?

[ ] Ground floor: You'll have easy access in and out of the inn by foot. It's crowded, though.

[ ] Second floor: You can jump from your window onto an adjacent rooftop for a quick escape, or some reconnaissance work.

[ ] Attic: Your solitude here is guaranteed, though walking down all those stairs might get a bit inconvenient. Also provides a good view of most of the town.

——

[spoiler]This update is super late... and it feels bluh. So yeah! Yeah. Also, if you're wondering, the update image is of a traditional Japanese bathroom. I spent way too much time reading about them, and I didn't really use any of that information in this update. Thanks again for reading.[/i]
No. 181088
[X] Second floor: You can jump from your window onto an adjacent rooftop for a quick escape, or some reconnaissance work.

The attic is too sorta isolated I'd say and the ground floor has too many people to sneak by in case we need to.

It's great to see the update for this story. I forget does Fisher have the Stop Time power with him?
No. 181089
>>181087
Access to a window is c
convenient for escapes, and a, at least for now, barren floor looks to be fine. Bunking in the attic might also draw attention to us. Thus, I must vote
[X] Second Floor
No. 181090
[X] Second Floor

Sounds good enough.
No. 181091
[X] Ground floor: You'll have easy access in and out of the inn by foot. It's crowded, though.

If someone tries to screw with us they'll have more trouble with lots of witnesses and we're more than capable of defending ourselves.
No. 181093
[X] Second floor: You can jump from your window onto an adjacent rooftop for a quick escape, or some reconnaissance work.
No. 181094
[x] Second floor: You can jump from your window onto an adjacent rooftop for a quick escape, or some reconnaissance work.
No. 181095
[x] second floor
No. 181097
You know I wonder, combat wise how does Fisher compare to Corvo or Daud in melee and magic?

And what about stealth is he sorta close to Daud or Corvo in that aspect as well?
No. 181101
>>181097
We can only hope he also has the power to become completely invisible when standing above anyone.
No. 181102
>>181101
Well he's our protagonist and is currently in a video game series, so presumably yes.
No. 181107
[X] Second Floor
No. 181109
[X] Second floor: You can jump from your window onto an adjacent rooftop for a quick escape, or some reconnaissance work.
No. 181147
[X] Second floor: You can jump from your window onto an adjacent rooftop for a quick escape, or some reconnaissance work.
No. 181154
>>181087
[x]second floor

Take stock of the situation at hand.
No. 181176
The second floor proves to be as quiet as you've hoped. The air is a little musty, so you have to wonder when was the last time someone stayed up here. As you move from door to door, you hear a loud creak as you step on a loose floorboard.

You immediately decide to use that room. If anyone tries to sneak in, that would probably give you a few seconds to react. It's not perfect, but it's something. You can think of some other security measures tomorrow, if at all. The downsides to being isolated like this is outweighed by the advantages, or so you feel.

Luckily for you the sparsely decorated room is graced by a traditional bed versus the bedroll-thing you used in Mokou's house. It feels like a defeat to admit that you relish the sight of a soft pillow and thick sheets, but it's hard to care about that. After stowing your knapsack in one corner (and your dagger beneath your pillow) you practically fall into the bed.

Sleep comes quickly, and with it, a dream.

——

"Fisher."

You are roused from your sleep by a voice. It is that of one of your comrades—Harris Ashton, you believe. Rather than getting up, you lie there, eyes closed. You're not sure why you don't get up, but you don't care enough to figure that out.

"Slept with his mask on..."

As soon as he mentions it, you realize that's the source of the clammy feeling, and of that awful smell. don't even remember doing that. You just remember Thomas resting a hand on your shoulder and telling you to get some rest.

"Fisher." The second voice is gruff and muffled by a mask. "Fisher, if you don't get up, I'll throw you into the canal."

"Lay off, Derleth. Poor bastard's been awake since they hit us."

At the word they, a storm of vivid images rise to the surface of your sleep-muddled mind—the fervent prayers and coolly delivered threats, the smell of gun-shot and spilled blood, the glinting of light upon steel swords and that unceasing flood brass masks—which provides enough of a jolt to rouse you from your sleep and out of your miserable excuse for a cot.

This room once served as the workplace for dozens of clerks and other assorted paper-pushers, but it's now one of several barracks spread across the building formerly known as the Rudshore Chamber of Commerce. A cursory glance out the window tells you that you've slept for a few hours at least. The sun has already risen, but the Flooded District is still cast in shadows and the previous night's chill.

Many of the cots are occupied by the wounded, who groan and mutter to themselves at irregular intervals. Various Whalers—the few adequately versed in medicine—move like ghosts among the wounded, checking bandages and administering what little medicine that was saved during the attack. Their uniforms are splattered with blood. This in itself would not be strange—those Whalers with clean uniforms are in the minority right now—save for the fact that they're drenched in the blood of their comrades.

"About damn time." Derleth pushes you aside and all but collapses into the spot where you were sleeping. He is asleep in moments... and you note that he hasn't taken his mask off, either. When you glance at Ashton, all you get is a shrug.

"Fisher, you should go get something to eat before you head out."

You're so dazed that you take the suggestion as a command—despite the fact that Ashton is your colleague rather than your superior, but in the state you're in, any sort of instruction saves you having to think for yourself. And he's just being kind, maybe too kind for a person in his line of work. Normally it'd be something to tease him about. The thought just puts a bad taste in your mouth so you just duck out of the room.

The cafeteria is in what was presumably a meeting room, one of many in the building. Years ago someone managed to turn the room's large heater into an oven of sorts, and the fancy mahogany tables were quickly repurposed for the men. The room is full of men but there is no conversation. Whalers constantly tranverse in and out, either heading back to their duties, or arriving to grab something before heading back out into the field. You quickly grab the first plate of food that you see—not even bothering to nod at the tired-looking Tyvian fellow on cooking duty—and head off to a shady corner.

The bread is stale but still edible, but you're just glad there's no mold on it. In contrast, the slab of potted whale meat had been cooked to your satisfaction. It's honestly surprising, considering the current state of affairs. You spread the potted meat and make something that you hope can be called a sandwich. Your meal, the sad thing it was, is relatively filling. There's even enough for seconds, seeing as Rudshore's halls are a sight emptier today.

When you finish, you are told that the pot of water hasn't been boiled yet; the men are drinking it faster than the lone Tyvian can clean it. With a shrug, you are given a bottle of whiskey—you imagine it's meant for the infirmary, to dull the pain and sanitize wounds, but right now, a little anesthetic seems appropriate. You take a swig. It's not a lot, just enough to burn your throat and chase away the last dregs of your drowsiness away.

That's enough, you think, as you set the bottle aside and leave the room. As soon as you pass into the hallway, you clench your fist, close your eyes and transverse. It feels different from the norm: the current of power flows easily. Eagerly, even: you imagine the Void-stuff surging through your veins, singing the way your blood does at the height of a duel.

The world disappears in a flash of purple and to the sound of a butterfly beating its wings.

It reappears a moment later.

What do you see?

[ ] A pile of corpses beside a raging pyre, tended to by several of your comrades. To one side, one of the wounded sorts scavenged equipment.

[ ] An empty side street in the middle of the Flooded District. You are ankle-deep in filthy water and refuse. It's the beginning of a familiar patrol route.

[ ] A guard post set up in the ruins of a lawyer's office, with an excellent view of the district. You are alone save for a spyglass, a finely-made crossbow and a bushel of crossbow bolts.

——
It's a bit short, sorry fellas. I'll try to get the next update out sooner since I have a clear idea as to what I want to do. Can't believe we're almost at the end of the first thread though...
>>181088 No, he doesn't have Stop or Slow Time. That's exclusive to those Marked by the Outsider. You do, however, benefit from the second rank of Arcane Bond. All I'll say is that not even Daud truly understands the magic he and his assassins wield...
>>181097 Fisher is no slouch in combat, veteran Whaler that he is (have you fought those assassins in a straight-up fight? They're annoying!) but he's definitely subordinate to both Daud and Corvo. He's skilled with his magical powers, but again that's not much compared to what Daud and Corvo are capable of. Marked by the Outsider and all that.
Thanks for reading!
No. 181178
[x] A guard post set up in the ruins of a lawyer's office, with an excellent view of the district. You are alone save for a spyglass, a finely-made crossbow and a bushel of crossbow bolts.

Will Fisher "level up" as it were, getting new skills and abilities?
No. 181179
>>181176
[x] A guard post set up in the ruins of a lawyer's office, with an excellent view of the district. You are alone save for a spyglass, a finely-made crossbow and a bushel of crossbow bolts.

Might as well see fisher in action.

Also will we see anymore of the outsider as the story progresses?
No. 181180
[X] A guard post set up in the ruins of a lawyer's office, with an excellent view of the district. You are alone save for a spyglass, a finely-made crossbow and a bushel of crossbow bolts.

Might as well get to see Fisher in action
No. 181181
[x] A guard post set up in the ruins of a lawyer's office, with an excellent view of the district. You are alone save for a spyglass, a finely-made crossbow and a bushel of crossbow bolts.

Sounds interesting.
No. 181182
[x] A guard post set up in the ruins of a lawyer's office, with an excellent view of the district. You are alone save for a spyglass, a finely-made crossbow and a bushel of crossbow bolts.
No. 181183
Gonna call votes now, so I can get an update post before the thread autosages.
No. 181848
Your arrival is heralded by the muted whip-crack of displaced air. Dust swirls in the early morning light that streams through a pair of double doors, illuminating the spacious room with an eerie chiaroscuro.

Once upon a time, this was one of the many offices of commercial law distributed throughout the Financial District. What this particular one did for the city is now lost to time. Sure, you could rifle through the numerous files here and piece together its history, but you have hardly any free time as it is—especially with recent events taken into consideration.

This particular office stands on the edge of Whaler territory. The only thing that makes it worth guarding is the fact that it is within reasonable distance to one of the many dumping grounds that the Watch uses to dispose of those sick with plague—dead or alive.

Every so often a bunch of desperate plaguers try and pass through here. Whether they're weeping blood or nursing the early stages of the contagion, they often see Whaler territory—relatively undamaged by the initial chaos after the district was abandoned—as the perfect place to hide till they puke their guts out.

Your job right now is to dissuade them of such notions.

With that in mind, you check the cache stored within a locked set of drawers. It's a small relief, but everything is where it should be. Nestled underneath some rags are several doses of plague elixir, a first-aid kit, some purified whale oil meant for body disposal, a spyglass, flares. There's even that infamous copy of Daughter of Tyvia that Reynolds was looking for...

You glance at the book with some fondness. There have been drunken evenings spent in the barracks with a few of your closer comrades, passing this exact book around along with a bottle of whiskey, as you all took turns reciting the dreadful dialogue with fervor.

Pushing it and those memories aside, you take the large and expensive-looking crossbow underneath it. Even though it has been phased out of use by the City Watch, it's still quite deadly, especially in the hands of you and your comrades. In fact, it is perfect for what your current posting required.

As you approach the balcony, you spy a note pinned to the wall, presumably left behind by the last man to stand duty here:

Dozen or so Weepers have holed up right at the end of the block. Don't think they intend on going any deeper into the district, but be wary.

It isn't signed and don't recognize the handwriting, but there are only a few people who are assigned to this post. You're only here because most of those men are now dead or injured.

You wonder if the author of this note is still alive.

After slinging a quiver full of bolts on your back, you walk out onto the balcony with the spyglass in hand. It doesn't take long before you find the poor bastards he spoke of—they're shuffling around outside what was once a restaurant that catered to the clerks that worked here.

Most of the weepers—all garbed in the finery of the elite, though the bloodstains do little for their appearance—stand in place, gaping emptily into open air. A few are lucid enough to rummage through the bins, but that's all.

You're satisfied that they're not going to rush your position and are about to lower the spyglass when you spot a familiar face. After thirty seconds or more, you realize that, yes, you did know this man, once upon a time. His face may be battered nearly to the point where you couldn't recognize it and he may be covered in his own blood and vomitus, but you do know him.

His likeness was once emblazoned on posters all across Dunwall, even in the Estate District: the man is—was—a conductor of considerable renown. During his rapid and recent rise to fame he had written several symphonies that were all the rage in fashionable circles. Some said that the Empress was his patron, which had only accelerated his rise to stardom.

Whatever the rumors were, it was true that he'd been involved in more than a few jobs with your organization. You think that his fame had more to do with the fact that he'd arranged more than a few jobs with your organization than anything else.

It's funny, when you think about it. You recall him walking down the Estate District in all his silken finery, usually with some high-class courtesan (the sort that didn't smell like the sewers) on his arm. He'd say hello, chat with some baroness or a whaling magnate, only to duck into an alleyway where several of your comrades skulked in the shadow. He'd give names, hand over a heavy purse of gold coins and skitter away as if he'd be afraid you'd bite him.

Weeks later, a competitor would find themselves discredited—or worse, though as an employer the work he gave tended to shy away from bloodletting.

Now he's here, gaping out into a flooded street with dead eyes crusted over with his own blood.

For all his acclaim, or his willingness to take it from others, the love of Dunwall's elite didn't save him when the plague came calling. Then again, the Empress was dead as well. In the face of her death, anyone else dying seemed positively unremarkable.

Whatever the case may be, you his music, and you feel charitable that morning. You load and shoulder the crossbow. Shooting a target at this range is trivial, but you take special care when taking aim at this man.

Several heartbeats later, you pull the trigger. The bolt soars through the chilly morning air, lodging itself behind the weeper's eye. He totters around for a moment, his body slowly catching up to the fact that it was supposed to be dead.

After several long seconds, he topples backwards and falls into the murky water. His body hasn't been in the canal for ten seconds before you see several dark sinuous shapes move towards it. The water begins to churn, the foam dyed a thick red by the work of what appears to be half a dozen hagfish. Not a pretty sight, but you watch nonetheless.

In contrast, this bunch of weepers seem so far gone that they don't even realize that one of their own is dead. It's a little melancholy to think that you're the only one to mark is passing, but it is of little consequence.

At least you gave him a clean death. It's far cleaner than what those other poor bastards will get, certainly. If anything, you think it's a generous reward for the continued patronage he's given. A thank you of sorts.

Or maybe you just wanted to kill something. It doesn't matter, really: it was just a way to kill some time, draw your thoughts away from the Overseers and their snarling masks—

You hear a sudden crash from across the way. A pair of wooden double doors on the same floor as you are thrown open with a clatter and a small cloud of dust. Across the way, you see a girl in rags, coughing and waving a cloud of dust away from her face.

She's only a few years younger than yourself, though judging by her size, she could easily pass for someone much younger. She's thin, almost birdlike, with a head of hair you suspect hasn't seen a comb in months. On her belt is a rough-looking blade, probably scavenged from a long-dead mugger.

When she ceases her coughing fit, she spots you. Her jaw falls slack and the color visibly drains from her face.

After the surprise is banished in less than a heartbeat by years of training, an icy certainty freezes your heart and clears your mind.

You know the rules that Daud set down, girl or not.

She's been in your territory. She knows where you are. Left to her devices, this street rat has the chance to do what a strike force of battle-hardened Warfare Overseers couldn't: she could bring about the end of the Whalers. All things considered it would be a pathetic way to go, outed to the Watch by some no-name mudlark who'd trade in the deadliest gang of assassins in all the isles for a mouthful of bread and a day's worth of elixir.

It only takes a moment for you to act—you toss the crossbow aside (you'll pay for the damages later) and raise one arm. The wristbow bolt sails past her head, but she ducks back into the building with a muffled shriek. You perform a textbook transversal into the building. You've been in here a few times, so it's trivial to pick up her trail. The girl's footsteps are easy to hear, even through the walls of the building.

In contrast your own footsteps are nigh soundless, even as you sprint through the deserted hallways like a wolfhound with a scent.

You turn the corner, only to have a door slammed into your face. It's a laughable effort. By that point, your movements are almost automatic: you kick the door down, swoop in and tackle the figure to the ground.

She's not struggling in the least. You would've found it odd, but you don't allow yourself to think, to do anything that wasn't part of your training. Your dagger comes out from its sheath: the blade flashes inthe dusty light as you lift it up to slam down into that smirking face, with its violet eyes—

You freeze.

It takes a moment or two before you realize the woman who is lying beneath you is not the girl you chased into the room. She doesn't speak—instead, a little smirk forms on her lips as she looks up at you.

Somehow you stay perfectly still, staring incredulously at the woman you've got beneath you.

It is a shock to realize that you are looking down at the woman you saw before, in your previous dream. You're suddenly finding it very hard to speak. However, she doesn't.

"So, what happens next?" She isn't fazed in the least, not by the fact that you're straddling her with your knees, or by the dagger held over her.

You stumble away from the woman. Like some whiskey-sodden drunk, you bump into the desk as you stand up, though you manage to keep a tight grip on your dagger. Your dagger is about the only thing you're certain of: Your gloved fingers are wrapped tightly around the oxbone hilt, so tightly that you're squeezing the blood from your fingers.

You watch as the newcomer blinks sleepily—even letting out a quiet yawn—as she gets up, dusting herself off with gloved hands. She is wearing the exact same thing as before, that strange purple-and-white dress, and the white cap with its red ribbon.

The woman then seats herself atop the desk, crossing her legs. She quirks one eyebrow at you, but when you do not speak, she lifts one gloved hand.

You watch, utterly transfixed, as a single butterfly flies in through the window. It lands atop her extended forefinger. The butterfly's wings are iridescent... and if you didn't know any better, you would've said that it glowed with a soft light of its own. She is content to watch as it crawls over her hand—if anything she seems awfully interested, though not surprised, by its appearance—then return to the tip of her finger. After a moment the insect takes wing and flies in a semicircle above your heads. It flutters off and disappears without a sound.

As if remembering your existence, the woman turns her gaze to you.

"So we meet again, Outsider. I'm flattered you'd want to see me again so soon... and in such an intimate setting. How forward of you." She taps her cheek with a gloved finger as she gives you a once over, bright eyes glinting with amusement. You then realize that you're far from presentable—not that it matters in the least, but it's all of you can think of. "I don't know anyone who would invite a total stranger into one's memories like this."

Memories? What is she talking about? As if reading your mind—or your face, when you remember you are currently bereft of your mask—the woman chuckles softly.

"Now that I'm here, you have nothing to say?" She rests her chin in one hand. "You must be the bashful type." She doesn't seem to like that observation very much. "I've been told that men like you are cute, but I have little patience for people who stand admiring their navels."

In the face of such a bizarre observation, you elect to remain silent.

Her expression darkens, just a little bit. "If you're not going to say anything, I might as well give my opinion about all this." She gestures to the office with one hand."Your spellwork's not bad, but you're a few centuries too early to impress Yukari Yakumo."

Spellwork? The last time you checked, having a vivid dream did not count as magic.

The woman—Yukari—gets up from her seat and begins to walk around the office. Her gaze lands on seemingly random places—she looks at the railing of the balcony, a patch of sunlight hitting the wall, then the motes of dust floating about in the stagnant air, then the papers scattered across the office.

After a moment, she sits back down again, picking up a loose scrap of paper from the table. It is held between her thumb and forefinger, and she scrutinizes it as if it's the most interesting thing in the room.

"This dreamspace is quite detailed... and you're lucid." She rubs her fingers together, turning the strip of paper into dust. "For a human, this is quite the accomplishment."

"I don't understand what you're talking about." You state weakly. You're still trying to come to terms with the fact that this was, in fact, a dream.

"Ah!" Yukari's lifts a hand to cover her open mouth, though it's obvious that any surprise she has is feigned. If you weren't so bewildered, you think you'd be insulted. "He has a tongue." When you don't reply, you think you detect a hint of genuine puzzlement on Yukari's face, though it's quickly lost behind another smile that is as alluring as it is mocking. "Surely, you don't expect me to believe that you did not create this dreamspace, or invite me into it?"

Yet another silence stretches out between you, though you've gathered enough nerve to speak—or act. You can't just stand there like some halfwit reeling from his last plug of habber weed. You need to say something to this woman. You could always try something else, but Void knew what would happen....

[ ] Write in.

——

Holy crap, nearly a month since the last update... I was supposed to upload this such a long time ago but then my laptop had a severe case of 'not-turning-on-itis' and I was without it for most of that time. I was pretty scared I'd have lost the damn thing and everything on it, including my notes and such. As you can see, my fears were mostly unfounded. Hope everything's alright with you guys.
No. 181849
Seeing as I won't be able to get another update in without hitting autosage, I'd like to take this time to ask you all your thoughts about my handling of this quest so far... well, horrible update schedule aside. I think I can remedy that by not endeavoring to make a long update every month or so, which frustrates me because I'd like to get the ball rolling plot-wise... but then I feel we still need to meet more touhous so you guys can gather your party and whatnot. But I'm rambling. As I was saying, I'd like to hear your thoughts, comments, suggestions, critiques, etc. Thank you again for bearing with me, and thank you for reading!
No. 181850
[x] "...To be very clear. I don't know who you are, and I don't know why you are in my dream. Quite frankly, I'm hoping that you are about to reveal both to me."

Yukari is being rused by The Outsider.

Anyway, I'm enjoying the story. I like Fisher, and it's nice to see someone who can actually hold their own (more or less) in Gensokyo. No real complaints, so far.
No. 181851
[x] >>181850

>>181849
I would have liked to spend more time with Mokou, she barely shows up in anything these days. That's about it.
What I'd like to avoid in the future is spellcard duels. Yes, I know, it's Gensokyo and bulletspam is the whole point of the franchise yada yada.
It's just that almost every story ever finds some way for the MC to learn how to spellcard, and rarely do they ever make it particularly interesting.
I'd like to stick to nocards punchy fighting, if at all possible.
No. 181853
[x] "...To be very clear. I don't know who you are, and I don't know why you are in my dream. Quite frankly, I'm hoping that you are about to reveal both to me."

Don't see much else we can do other than pretend to be a powerful dream wizard. Which might be funny, but unproductive.
No. 181854
[x] "...To be very clear. I don't know who you are, and I don't know why you are in my dream. Quite frankly, I'm hoping that you are about to reveal both to me."
No. 181855
[x] "...To be very clear. I don't know who you are, and I don't know why you are in my dream. Quite frankly, I'm hoping that you are about to reveal both to me."

Can't really say anything else.

>>181851
There's also the fact that danmaku is completely flashy and deliberately designed to be beautiful and flashy and inefficient and such. They're designed as non-lethal duels, whereas as an assassin our own tools of the trade are designed around being stealthy and ambushing. Of course if we do a non-lethal run here let's hope we can find a way to make sleep darts and hope we've practiced our choking technique or whatever.
No. 181856
Also I forget but when/what Touhou game does this stake place around or after or before?
No. 181857
>>181855
We already killed some spider youkai.
No. 181881
>>181857
Was the spider youkai a sapient being or just an animal? Mokou mentioned most youkai are little more than animals. That spider youkai didn't seem to be any smarter than an animal.
No. 181921
[x] "...To be very clear. I don't know who you are, and I don't know why you are in my dream. Quite frankly, I'm hoping that you are about to reveal both to me."
No. 182710
OP was murdered by a gap hag.
Yukari a shit, always and forever.