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180784 No. 180784
"The ability to quote is a serviceable substitute for wit."
—W. Somerset Maugham


Once upon a time there was a human girl living in the human village. Kosuzu Motoori was her name, she loved books with a passion, and she was the farthest a human could be from "normal" without becoming a reiterating fairy mass murderer.

Kosuzu liked to spend her days on the library/book rental shop/printer factory she worked part-time; Suzunaan, the Bell Hermitage. She kept her collection of books there, most of them hailing from the outside world--including the incredibly uncommon A Taxonomy of Mer-kin Husbandry, Sanguine Desserts for Vampires, Kids' Guide to Foul Lying and The Art of Bestial History among many other rarities--, and she always looked for new additions to her lot. The young librarian often rented them to her few clients at abusive prices, knowing very well she held the monopoly on the so-called Outsider Books, and remorselessly exploiting it for all it was worth.

For those of you still interested in paying Suzunaan a visit--you naive people, you!--, the building itself is almost unrecognizable from other houses in the village. Instead, you ought to follow the invasive odor of incense that usually oozes out of its windows; a strong yet surprisingly relaxing scent that infiltrates the nostrils and forcibly opens the mind with the delicacy of a drunken lobotomy bunny doctor who lost her bone saw -- a word of advice: never, ever, get smashed around Eientei interns. If you are lucky enough to lack a functioning nose, you'll have to make do with looking for a tacky rotten sign that reads "SUZUNAAN" in big kanji, barely hanging from the roof.

In case the censer miraculously ran out of incense and the sign finally gave in to rust, any person with a minimal attunement to magic could still tell where Suzunaan was in the labyrinthine streets of the human village. Lately there was an evil, unsettling aura surrounding the library, as if the Amateur Magi Nightly Sabbat was being held in session continuously inside its walls. This simile was in fact not that far from the truth. Although Suzunaan held no meetings of crazy cultists or witches in training--not counting a certain ordinary magician--, the truth was that Kosuzu was "unknowingly" stocking up on fairly dangerous tomes that no human should ever possess.

Namely, the kind that are referred to as Demon Books, written by youkai bored enough to do their more unfortunate friends a favor and record their existence on paper before they vanished in a puff of logic. These tomes are the last hope of those beings whose existence has been denied even by Gensokyans, and who are still waiting to recover from their sleep, which is why some of these Demon Books pose a threat to humankind if said beings are ever released again. The catch is that these books are written in an unreadable script, which greatly decreases the chances of accidental unsealing -- and to Kosuzu's chagrin, their retail value as well. Unless you somehow know how to decipher the characters and have a plan that requires building an army of forsaken evil youkai, Demon Books are practically worthless for a normal human.

But as it's been said in the first paragraph, Kosuzu Motoori was anything but normal. Aside from her obsession with rare tomes, the one thing that made her stand out from her neighbors was, in fact, her newly found ability to decipher any book by touching it, including the aforementioned Demon Books. And some of the big fish of Gensokyo, who were always keeping an eye on any potential threat to the balance of the Land of Fantasy, were starting to suspect that her recent hoarding of Demon Books foreboded an ambitious plan for Gensokyo's domination -- never minding that the young librarian had absolutely no reason whatsoever to rule over what amounted to a fantasy sinkhole chock-full of lunatics and weirdos.

It was the perfect recipe for disaster, and everyone but Kosuzu herself was well aware of it. Suzunaan was slowly becoming a breeding ground for an incident of massive scale, yet none of the recurrent incident solvers moved a finger to prevent it, because heroes are never proactive about such things -- where's the fun and merit of solving an incident before it ever happens, after all? That would make an incredibly boring game, and they couldn't have that, goodness gracious!

No. 180785
You are Ran Yakumo, a wise nine-tailed kitsune youkai on a secret mission to prevent the aforementioned disaster. Sick of your master's laziness and the Hakurei maiden's passivity, you have decided to take matters on your own hands.

You are standing in front of Suzunaan, taking in the cold air of the last days of winter. Snowflakes fall gently from the grey sky; the last of a particularly long streak of icestorms that have left Gensokyo covered three feet deep under cold white. The villagers are excitedly digging out the snow, building wooden stands and bleachers, hanging wreaths and pennants, and generally busying themselves with the preparations of the upcoming Spring Festival. It's like the harvest season all over again, except instead of bamboo stalks there is ice, and instead of kernels of rice there is more ice.

The reason for their uncommon enthusiasm is this year's Risshen event. The Hieda family, in collaboration with an "anonymous sponsor" (read: your master), are organizing a special challenge that they call "Survival Mamemaki Chase Game" or something like that, and they're advertising a grand prize for the victor. Many of the village's professional hunters, who normally are content to watch their kids throw soy beans at each other from the sidelines with beer in hand, suddenly had their interest picked by the promises of fat cash. Meanwhile, the usual participants would derive morbidly sadistic pleasure from the misfortune of the poor sucker that's going to get roped into playing the role of the Oni. The excitement and expectancy are palpable in the air.

But you are incapable of enjoying this festive atmosphere -- it's being drowned by this unnerving aura of evil magic and the stink of strong incense that's coming out of Suzunaan. You mindlessly twirl the frilly umbrella you borrowed from your master while you pondering your options.

You were expecting the magic aura, and you had stocked yourself on protective charms accordingly. But that foul smell... God, this incense is awful! It feels as if tentacles of smoke are trying to choke your mind through your sensitive nostrils. You have half a mind to turn tails, scoot back home and spend a few hours under the bath tub to rinse that stench off your body.

You should've brought another charm against pestilence. Or a hazmat suit. Either was fine.

But you aren't going to abort this mission for this slight miscalculation, oh no. This is one of the few occasions you're executing a plan on your own volition, without depending on your master's near-clairvoyant levels of prediction. Since no one else gives a single bother about what's going on inside that stinking library, the responsibility falls on your hands by default. And today's the last day to do what had to be done, so you have to suck it up and live up to your family name, or else Gensokyo would face full-life consequences.

And if you can find that ungodly incense and vanish it from the face of Earth while you're there, all the better. It'd be yet another favor the humans owe you to the already lengthy list. Not that anybody knows about that list -- god forbid them if they ever find out the village is just another protectorate of the Yakumo.

Getting back to the matter at hand, your mind quickly thinks of several ways you can tackle this:

[]You are good at stealth, so you'll enter from the window when nobody's watching.
[]You are a master of disguise, so you'll enter from the front door as a human customer.
[]You are are a quite strong fighter, so you'll just barge in with Spell Cards hot.
[]Write-in.


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

I've been reading that discussion going on at the rage thread, and someone mentioned they'd like to see those stories with shorter but faster updates again, so I thought I'd oblige. Besides, since some people think my kind of writing is "/th/ fare" (whatever that means), well, I'd thought I'd try my luck here and stick with fast updates rather than the lengthy ones I was originally planning for this idea of mine.

I'll try to update this daily, so if I skip one day, you can bash me and call me names to your hearts' content.
No. 180787
[X]You are are a quite strong fighter, so you'll just barge in with Spell Cards hot.
Stealth? Who need stealth when you have nine tails full of power?
Also:
[x] Superman "Soaring En no Ozunu" as a spell-card of choice.
No. 180789
[x]You are a master of disguise, so you'll enter from the front door as a human customer.

The foxiest choice.
No. 180790
[x]You are a master of disguise, so you'll enter from the front door as a human customer.
No need to wreck the place in the middle of the village.
No. 180791
[x]You are a master of disguise, so you'll enter from the front door as a human customer.

It's disguise time!
No. 180793
[X]You are a master of disguise, so you'll enter from the front door as a human customer.

Hopefully there'll be somebody human in the store who'll be fooled by the disguise.
No. 180794
[x]You are a master of disguise, so you'll enter from the front door as a human customer.

Subtlety!
No. 180795
[X] You are are a quite strong fighter, so you'll just walk in with Spell Cards ready and challenge her openly.
No. 180796
[x]You are a master of disguise, so you'll enter from the front door as a human customer.
No. 180798
[x]You are a master of disguise, so you'll enter from the front door as a human customer.

Disguises work inordinately well against Kosuzu.
No. 180799
[x] You are a master of disguise, so you'll enter from the front door as a human customer.

Knock knock, bookkeeper.
No. 180800
[x]You are a master of disguise, so you'll enter from the front door as a human customer.
No. 180801
>11 votes
>ELEVEN.
Holy shit.
[X]You are a master of disguise, so you'll enter from the front door as a human customer.
No. 180802
[x] You are a master of disguise, so you'll enter from the front door as a human customer.
No. 180804
[x] You are a master of disguise, so you'll enter from the front door as a human customer.
No. 180812
[x]You are a master of disguise, so you'll enter from the front door as a human customer.

Kosuzu has never been great at seeing through disguises. Let's hope she still is.

>>180801
I wouldn't get my hopes up. Most beginning stories have a lot of votes from interested and curious. If the vote becomes consistent, then I would be impressed.
No. 180819
[x]You are a master of disguise, so you'll enter from the front door as a human customer.

You deftly mutter a few words in an archaich language and run your free hand over your foxy tails and ears in a practiced motion. In just a couple of seconds, they disappear under an illusionary coat of magic, rendering them invisible to the untrained eye. Kitsune like you are widely known for disguising themselves as humans, and you've been practicing this art long before youkai anthropomorphism became a thing in Gensokyo -- and certainly long before Gensokyo even existed. This particular branch of magic comes off as second nature to you; in a way, you're just honoring an ancient tradition of your kin.

Once you've made sure that the only way you stand out among the common folk is because of your frilly occidental attire and not because of your most beastly parts, you push the door to Suzunaan, close your umbrella and stride in with confident steps.

To nobody's surprise, a bell rings above you when you open the door all the way. Waving through the dense fog of incense, you find yourself in a dark and cramped room, illuminated only by a couple of candles on a small counter-reading table. Darkness has never been a trouble for your keen eyes, though, so you're perfectly able to distinguish the rest of the room even in this dim light. At your left, there are about four of five rows of bookshelves, filled with tomes and scrolls of diverse nature in an organized chaos. Normal and Demon Books find their place in the racks with no apparent order or distinction, your magic senses tell you -- and they seldom have failed you.

You marvel in horror at such carelessness from the bookkeeper. If it were up to you, those Demon Books would be tightly shut and sealed in a completely isolated chamber, covered in a myriad protective charms. Actually, that is your intention all along, isn't it? You'd better get down to work.

"Good morning! Welcome to Suzunaan!"

Before you can do anything, a petite girl comes from the door behind the counter and greets you with her upbeat, childish voice. Your intelligent mind instantly recognizes her as Kosuzu Motoori, the bookkeeper in question; her identity given away by the light red hair tied in twin ponytails with decorative little bells, the checkered kimono and especially that apron with the names "KOSUZU" and "Suzunaan" written in front. She exudes an aura of sweetness, cheerfulness and innocence that makes anyone unable to blame her for all the troubles she indubitably causes to all her friends. Not that it's going to work on you, of course -- you're above this kind of intrinsic charm. Other than that, she's not that remarkable compared to other humans.

Rather, your attention is caught by the other woman behind that door. On the surface, she looks like your typical middle-aged woman: long brown hair adorned with a leaf-shaped hair clip (curious decoration, you note), brown eyes behind half-rimmed spectacles, and dressed with a plain green robe and a checkered scarf around her neck. But there's something fundamental about her that just feels wrong. Maybe it's that piercing, calculating glare she's shooting at you. Perhaps it's the fact that the foul smell you've been cursing all this time actually comes from the pipe she's smoking. Most probably is because you can detect faint traces of magic surrounding her, much like you. And by the way she's checking you out, you have the impression she feels exactly the same about you.

An old adage comes to mind: "it takes a thief to catch another". You'll have to watch yourself with that woman(?) around.

"May I help you?" Kosuzu's voice brings you back from your thoughts. "Are you searching for a book in particular? We have a wide selection on Outsider Books for sale and rental."

[]Be polite: Ask her about the tome you're looking for. You're a customer, after all.
[]Be efficient: Tell her you're just checking the shelves, and search for the book yourself.
[]Have a plan to extort anyone you meet. A fight with that suspicious woman is inevitable.
[]Write-in.


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

>>180812
For my part, I'll try to keep the update rate constant, regardless of actual length of the update. Except for a period of two week in which I'll be going with my family to a beach, meaning I'll be cut off from the rest of the world and unable to write. I'll make sure to notify in advance.
No. 180820
[X]Be polite: Ask her about the tome you're looking for. You're a customer, after all.

Be polite, be polite, and always have a plan to be polite.
No. 180821
[X]Be efficient: Tell her you're just checking the shelves, and search for the book yourself.

That woman seems a tad suspicious. We shouldn't risk her discerning our true motives by asking about the book directly.
No. 180822
[X]Be polite: Ask her about the tome you're looking for. You're a customer, after all.
No. 180823
[x] Be polite: ask her about the tome you're looking for. You're a customer, after all.
No. 180824
[X]Be polite: Ask her about the tome you're looking for. You're a customer, after all.

>A fight with that suspicious woman is inevitable
I see what you did here.
No. 180825
[X]Be polite: Ask her about the tome you're looking for. You're a customer, after all.
No. 180826
[x] Be polite: ask her about the tome you're looking for. You're a customer, after all.
No. 180829
[X]Be efficient: Tell her you're just checking the shelves, and search for the book yourself.
No. 180851
[X]Be efficient: Tell her you're just checking the shelves, and search for the book yourself.
No. 180854
[x]Be efficient: Tell her you're just checking the shelves, and search for the book yourself.

I want to search for this myself.
No. 180855
[x] Be polite: ask her about the tome you're looking for. You're a customer, after all.
No. 180860
[X]Be polite: Ask her about the tome you're looking for. You're a customer, after all.

"Yes, I was wondering if you had a certain book," you tell Kosuzu. "Very uncommon, written in ancient, undecipherable sigils."

"Ah, you've come to the right place! We in Suzunaan specialize in rare books in strange languages!" She exclaims, not bothering to hide her pride. "So what's its title?"

You dart your eyes to and fro, furrow your brows ever so slightly and bring your sleeve to cover your mouth, as if to convey a feeling of secrecy and nervousness to the young girl. Of course, it's all studied and on purpose. It's one of the oldest tricks on the book of making humans drop their guard and open up to you. Not like Kosuzu needs to open herself up anymore, though; she already has that spark in her eyes that tells you have her curiosity.

"I'd rather discuss it in private, if it's possible," you whisper, looking at the woman behind the door. She looks like she isn't interested in your conversation, but you have a feeling she's really listening. "The contents of the book are of... uh, a delicate nature, to put it lightly."

And now you have her attention. Kosuzu nods in understanding, and points at the small space between two bookshelves, shielded from unwanted eyes. Really, humans can be so gullible! Once you pique their interests, they're practically yours to command. With just the mention of a rare book, a flash of a pale thigh, the sound of a purse of coins, or the promise of a Klondike bar, all but the most stoic of people would do anything if you play your cards right. And you've been playing this game for long enough to know all the tricks.

"Here, we're in private now," Kosuzu says once you two walk to that separated place. "So, about that book..."

"Yes, yes," you look behind your shoulder--again, just for show--and once you "made sure" nobody followed you, you speak again in whispers. "It has many names, but it's best known as... the Necrotelicomnicon."

You were waiting for Kosuzu to let out some sort of surprised or terrified exclamation after hearing that dreaded name, but she subverts your expectations by remaining as nonplussed as before.

"Ehhhh, sorry, that doesn't ring a bell," the librarian shakes her head, making her bell decorations jingle, and chuckles at her own little joke. "But I do have a similar scroll around here: the First Kanji Manuscript of the Necronomicon. Want to take a look?"

"No, not that one. Maybe you know it as the Liber Paginarum Fulvarum instead?"

"Lee-beh-ruh pah-jee-noo-muh foo-roo-ba-roo-muh?"

Oh great, she doesn't even know how to speak Latin! How could she call herself a collector of rare books and not have a minimal notion about the most basic languages of arcane knowledge? Preposterous! You bet she only knew about the Necronomicon from pop culture, this amateur. Since you don't want to waste half an hour teaching Kosuzu how to spell in Latin, you take the closest pen and piece of paper you find and write the name down for her.

"Oh! Yeah, I think we have a book with this title," she says after reading it. "You're lucky, miss; I received it not two days ago. Give me a second..."

The young bookkeeper tiptoes around the shelves, searching through the disorganized piles of books and scrolls with the commodity of someone who feels at ease in her own order over the disorder. It's not long before she comes back, holding an old-looking book.

"Here," she hands it to you.

You don't even need to see the cover to know it's the one you've been pursuing all this time. Its aura of pure evil and scabbiness forewarns about the horrors inside its yellow pages -- though only people trained in magic can detect it, which is probably why Kosuzu is treating it as if it were just another uncommon book, completely unaware of its terrible contents.

The Necrotelicomnicon, also known as the Liber Paginarum Fulvarum in Latin, is an eldritch tome dedicated to contacting all manner of horrifying demons and other otherworldly denizens of darkness through the use of complex technology. Legend has it that the mad Arab Al Aksandir Garambel wrote it after he was driven insane by his very first summoning, a terrifying entity known only as "Wa'tz'ynn". While those beings aren't really that dangerous compared to the original Old Ones, they are much easier to invoke, as you only need a sufficiently advanced communication device to call them into this dimension -- and worse still, allow them to spread their influence like a deadly virus.

Some time ago, this book would have posed next to no threat for Gensokyo, thanks to their denizens still living stuck in the Meiji Era. But now that those Moriya gods are kickstarting the modernization progress as of late, the risk is increasing exponentially. You even saw a tengu girl with a mobile phone, for crying out loud! If someone were to learn the codes inside the Necrotelecomnicon and send them to other phone users...

And that's not all: unlike the majority of other forgotten things that appear in Gensokyo, this book was purposely brought here through a spell that breached the Great Hakurei Border. Someone out there is planning to release all those demons into this peaceful land, no doubt about it. But that someone was sloppy in the spell, and could not manage to control the spot where the Necrotelecomnicon would materialize in this side of the Border, and it sounded all the alarms your master installed in it.

As the de facto maintenance person of the Border, you went out to chase the tome before it fell on the wrong hands. Your search has led you here, to Suzunaan, where most rare books end up. Does Kosuzu want to use the Paginarum Fulvarum for her own purposes? Is it just another valuable addition to her collection? Or is there someone else--?

"Is it of your liking, miss?"

Again, Kosuzu interrupts your musings. Right, this is not the time to wonder about the culprit. First you must secure the Necrotelecomnicon and the other books.

"How much do you ask for it?" You ask.

"Let's see..." She brings her finger to her chin, pondering the best starting price. "Since this is a one-of-a-kind book, how about... Hmm, let's say, seven-fifty thousand yen?"

You barely manage to hold a rude expletive from coming out of your mouth. 750,000!? That price is insane, even for a tome that makes people go crazy! Sure, you recognize that she's only trying to start a hassle, but come on, six digits are over the top! More so for a book you're planning to take away for free. Anyway, you don't feel like keeping up with this charade any more.

"I'm sorry, I'm afraid I cannot meet that number with my current funds," you apologize. "But I'm still interested in acquiring this book in the future. Say, do you have a phone number?"

"Eh? A phone number?" Kosuzu gives you a quizzical look. "Even if I had one, why would you want it?"

"To keep in touch with you about this deal. Why else?"

"Oh, it's just that you sounded as if you were asking me out, you know."

"... What."

Kosuzu regales you with a mischievous grin and a hearty chortle, but the slight blush in her cheeks don't go unnoticed by you. Honestly, what kind of weird fantasies is this girl imagining?

"Heehee, it's just like the beginning of the light novel I'm reading! I never imagined I would be hit on by an elegant lady like yourself, miss."

"I assure you, I'm not hitting on you in any conceivable manner," you quickly retort. "And I advise you to stop confusing that trite literature with the real world."

"Aww, you're not taking me to a date? Oh, how unfortunate!"

You let out a weary sigh. Why do you keep encountering such weirdos in your missions?

"No, I'm not. Rather..."

[]"I'm taking all your books. You don't seem to realize how dangerous this kind of books really are."
[]"I'm taking your bookshop license. I can't have you selling Demon Books to the first person that comes by."
[]"I'm taking you to prison. You're arrested for illicit possession and sale of forbidden books".


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

>>180824
Care to tell me? Because I don't see what I did there. I usually insert some references here and there, but I believe that was not one of them.
No. 180866
All of those seem a little harsh, to be honest.

[x]"I'm taking all your demon books. I can't have you selling them to the first person who wanders by."
No. 180873
[x]"I'm taking you to prison. You're arrested for illicit possession and sale of forbidden books".

Let's play it like Ran's some kind of police officer.
No. 180876
[x]"I'm taking your bookshop license. I can't have you selling Demon Books to the first person that comes by."

Another update? Let's see if you can keep this up like Keymaster did.
No. 180877
[X]"I'm sealing your special ability; some books were never meant to be read."
-[X]"No hard feelings, okay?"
No. 180878
[x] "I'm taking your bookshop license. I can't have you selling Demon Books to the first person that comes by."
No. 180879
[x]"I'm taking your bookshop license. I can't have you selling Demon Books to the first person that comes by."

Although, doesn't Kosuzu live with her parents? Can't we ask them to be a bit stricter on the things they sell here?

>>180876
I'd rather not pressure OP into Keymaster-levels of update speed, honestly. Most times, the author gets burnt out if they try for quick updates.
No. 180880
[x] "I'm taking your bookshop license. I can't have you selling Demon Books to the first person that comes by.

Seems the only reasonable one.
No. 180884
>>180879
>I'd rather not pressure OP into Keymaster-levels of update speed, honestly.
>>180784
>I'll try to update this daily, so if I skip one day, you can bash me and call me names to your hearts' content.

He said it himself. Fast daily updates Keymaster style.
No. 180889
WARNING: Unmarked Forbidden Scrollery spoilers ahead. Read at your own risk.

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

[x]"I'm taking your bookshop license. I can't have you selling Demon Books to the first person that comes by."

A stunned silence follows your declaration, and lingers for a long moment. Kosuzu's joking smile has frozen in her face, and you can practically see her shattering inside. Soon enough, she goes straight to the famous denial phase:

"Hahahahaha, wow, that's a mean joke, miss! You almost fooled me for a second!"

"I'm afraid I'm serious," you reassert your statement. "Kosuzu Motoori, for using and selling illegal books, thus endangering the public order in Gensokyo, your license and Demon Books in your possession will be forfeit. Failure to comply will result in a fine and/or a sentence."

"No, that isn't right! You can't take away my hobby like that!" She exclaims, all upset. The second phase of anger has started to show itself. "I swear I haven't done anything wrong! What did I do to 'endanger the public order'?"

"Oh, glad you ask. I happen to have here a list over here with all the transgressions you've commited as part-owner of this library."

Under Kosuzu's disbelieving gaze, you produce a piece of parchment from your sleeve, roll it open, cough to clear your throat and read it out loud:

"Let's see... 'Suspected of unsealing a word-eating youkai, and then the smoke youkai Enenra in a failed attempt to control it.'"

"I-i don't know anything about that," Kosuzu stutters, quite unconvincingly.

Of course, even without that weak defense, you know she's lying. You took care of investigating that incident on your own after the shrine maiden exterminated Enenra.

"No? Then how about 'releasing a fox-fire that possessed household supplies throughout the village'?" This time, you can practically see the color draining out of her cheeks. "Which reminds me, lately there have been various reports of a large group of silverware tsukumogami running around in little legs. The Night Parade, they call it. Are you sure you have nothing to tell about this?"

Kosuzu can only shake her head ever so slightly, like a child who has been caught and is futilely attempting to escape her parent's scolding. That makes you wonder if her parents are actually aware of what her daughter is selling in their store. Regardless, Kosuzu is old enough to take responsibility for her own actions -- and you're here to show her that.

"And surely you must remember the incident about the disappearance of Inari Hood."

"Y-yes, I do remember it. But it was found and taken back to its shrine in the end, right?" Kosuzu says. "What does that have to do with me, anyway?"

"Around that same time, the Hakurei Maiden was bedridden with a mysterious disease."

"What!? Reimu was ill?" She exclaims in genuine concern.

"No need to worry," you reassure her. You might be trying to punish her, but you're not so heartless as to lie to her about her acquaintances. "Thankfully a magician by the name of Ms. Kirisame was able to cure her by using the Inari Hood to talk with a white snake, who pointed her to the cause of Hakurei's illness."

Kosuzu brings her chest and exhales a relieved sigh. She sure does care a lot about the Hakurei Maiden, huh.

"Which brings me to the real problem: I have several witnesses claiming to see Ms. Kirisame enter this very shop shortly afterwards. And soon after that, they report seeing a mysterious winged snake flying out of Suzunaan."

The librarian cannot suppress a guilty grimace forming on her already nervous facade. Yes, you got her right where you want her. Now it's the time to nail the final nail on her metaphorical coffin.

"Some of them even called it an 'evil dragon'," you let those words sink in for a couple of seconds. "If I didn't know any better, I'd believe that this dragon and the snake were one and the same, and this incident was only a misdirection to hide the revival of a god. But I can't help but wonder that, if this was truly staged from the beginning, then who'd go as far as to poison Ms. Hakurei to release a malicious deity onto this land?"

"Wait a sec, are you saying I would hurt my friend to... to...?" The librarian, partly in anger and partly in tears, chokes on her words.

"Far from it, Ms. Motoori. I was merely guessing, but as they say, when there's smoke, there's a youkai making a fire. And right now there's an immense cloud of smoke coming out of this library, which is why I deem necessary to suspend your license."

"That's-!"

"Would you rather keep discussing your careless treatment of Demon Books? Such as the incident with that newborn kututsura? Or the cursed love letters?"

"Oi oi oi, don't you think that's quite enough, Foxy MacBully?"

You're interrupted by that woman from before. After hearing your heated argument, she must have decided to butt in and put a stop to your verbal smackdown -- her glare is a clear warning, telling you that you're in her turf, and that you're messing with the wrong person. Yes, you really should have expected an interruption like this one. Things are never that easy.

"... Excuse me? Foxy Mac-what?" Besides, what kind of dumb moniker is that?

"Ms. Sado!" Exclaims Kosuzu, all too happy to see her.

"What's more, what right do you have to accuse her of unsealing demons, when you're the one disguising yourself as a human?" The woman continues. "I knew you were up to no good the moment you showed up hiding your nasty tails, but come on, even for a bitter kitsune hellbent on ruining a little girl's fun, don't you think you're being way too hard on her?"

[]"This doesn't concern you, miss. I suggest you mind your own business."
[]"I have all the right in this land. I am an agent of the authority of the Yakumo lineage."
[]"Am I hard on her? Probably. But with this I'm making sure she doesn't cause any more incidents."
[]"You're the last youkai I want to hear that from, bake-danuki."
[]"Looks like the real culprit finally shows up."
[]Write-in.


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

Meh, I'm not really convinced with how this update turned up. I had to cut it in half when I saw I wasn't going to meet the "deadline". In my defense, a World Cup Final doesn't happen everyday.
No. 180890
[x] "I'm taking your bookshop license. I can't have you selling Demon Books to the first person that comes by.
No. 180891
[x] "Am I hard on her? Probably. But with this I'm making sure she doesn't cause any more incidents."

Germany strong.
No. 180894
[x] "Am I hard on her? Probably. But with this I'm making sure she doesn't cause any more incidents."
No. 180896
[X]"You're the last youkai I want to hear that from, bake-danuki."
-[X]"Besides, I believe you have had to clean up after the girl's messes yourself, have you not? I recall noting how many of your kin suddenly obtained new tools and weapons after the first Night Parade incident."
[X](Turn back to Kosuzu)"Besides, this is about you. Your actions have on multiple cases endangered those around you. However, I am willing to give you a chance to speak your own views. What do you have to say for yourself?"
No. 180897
Actually, I take back my last post. I'm adding a little bit:

[X]"You're the last youkai I want to hear that from, bake-danuki."
-[X]"Besides, I believe you have had to clean up after the girl's messes yourself, have you not? I recall noting how many of your kin suddenly obtained new tools after the first Night Parade incident."
-[X]"Plus, I have tried to be relatively straightforward with my actions. That is more than either of you can claim to have done."
[X](Turn back to Kosuzu)"I apologize if I deceived you at first, but my point still stands. I do not believe you have malignant intentions, but your irresponsibility endangers the human village, and the balance in Gensokyo as a result. If you prove to be cooperative on your probation, you may be granted your license again."
[X]"However, I am willing to give you a chance to speak your own views. What do you have to say for yourself?"
No. 180898
[X]"You're the last youkai I want to hear that from, bake-danuki."
-[X]"Besides, I believe you have had to clean up after the girl's messes yourself, have you not? I recall noting how many of your kin suddenly obtained new tools after the first Night Parade incident."
-[X]"Plus, I have tried to be relatively straightforward with my actions. That is more than either of you can claim to have done."
[X](Turn back to Kosuzu)"I apologize if I deceived you at first, but my point still stands. I do not believe you have malignant intentions, but your irresponsibility endangers the human village, and the balance in Gensokyo as a result. If you prove to be cooperative on your probation, you may be granted your license again."
[X]"However, I am willing to give you a chance to speak your own views. What do you have to say for yourself?"

This. It at least gives Kosuzu a chance to defend herself some.
No. 180903
[X]"This doesn't concern you, miss. I suggest you mind your own business."
No. 180908
I'm going to need a tiebreaker to start writing the next part. Currently there are two votes for each one of these:

[x] "Am I hard on her? Probably. But with this I'm making sure she doesn't cause any more incidents."

and

[x]>>180897

The first vote to break the tie --or if any other option somehow gets three votes-- will be called for immediately.
No. 180909
>>180908

[X]"You're the last youkai I want to hear that from, bake-danuki."
-[X]"Besides, I believe you have had to clean up after the girl's messes yourself, have you not? I recall noting how many of your kin suddenly obtained new tools after the first Night Parade incident."
-[X]"Plus, I have tried to be relatively straightforward with my actions. That is more than either of you can claim to have done."
[X](Turn back to Kosuzu)"I apologize if I deceived you at first, but my point still stands. I do not believe you have malignant intentions, but your irresponsibility endangers the human village, and the balance in Gensokyo as a result. If you prove to be cooperative on your probation, you may be granted your license again."
[X]"However, I am willing to give you a chance to speak your own views. What do you have to say for yourself?"
No. 180910
>>180909
Sold! Thank you, Tiebreakerman!

I hope you're happy, guys, because you're making it difficult for me to establish Ran as the bad guy.
No. 180911
>>180910
Yes.
No. 180914
>>180910
Eh? The bad guy? But she's totally right. Kosuzu is being completely reckless and putting everyone's life in danger.
I mean imagine if some guy waltzed in, asked "GIVE ME YOUR MOST DANGEROUS BOOK," and she just gave it to him.
No. 180915
>>180914

I guess Satzibeli's intention was to make Ran the grumpy-guts killjoy especially when her mark is a cute young woman but as you said, she's being reasonable and she's got a good reason for doing this. Diplomacy-fu go?!
No. 180916
[x]>>180909

Your worst predictions about the woman seem to have come true. Not only she saw through your disguise right away; she even blew your cover in front of your target in the worst moment possible! Certainly a harsh setback towards your goal, but if she thinks you won't get back at her for this, she's got another thing coming. Two can play this game.

"I don't believe you're the most indicated person to accuse someone of wearing a disguise, skunk," you hiss.

"Whoooooa, whoa whoa there!" Ms. Sado feigns shock by taking an exaggerated step back. "Let's keep this show family friendly, okay? We have a kid in the audience!"

"Hey, who you calling a kid?" The librarian complains.

"You know perfectly what I mean," you cut them both short. "Isn't it about time you end this masquerade?"

Kosuzu looks at the woman inquisitively. The frown of suspicion is beginning to appear on her astonished expression. "... Masquerade?"

"I don't know what she's talking about either, Little Bell," Ms. Sado shrugs her shoulders, in a last ditch attempt to save face. "I already did my part at that incident with the menrieki, if that's where you're trying to get."

"It's too late to play the fool. Ms. Motoori is a smart person; she'll find out sooner or later after this," you say. "And I'm starting to lose my patience, to be honest. Why don't we stop beating around the bush and end this charade?"

The youkai disguised as a woman squints at you, then glances at the confused Kosuzu, then squints back at you, back at her, back at a speck of dust that flew in front of her face, goes cross-eyed for a split second and finally focuses her piercing glare at you. You hear her click her tongue inside her mouth -- she must've realized already there's no way she can keep her true identity secret from Kosuzu any longer. You bet she's mentally cursing you with all her spite, although she does a good job hiding it.

"Ms. Sado, what's this all about!?" The little human exclaims. "I don't understand what's going on!"

"Little Bell, you can stop calling me 'Ms. Sado'."

"Huh?"

With a near perfect synchronization that only the best of friends and the worst of enemies can achieve (and you hope it's the latter), the two of you drop your disguises and reveal your true selves. With a simple mental command, you let your illusionary magic coat vanish in the air, baring your fox ears and your nine golden tens for the world to see. At the same time, a sudden (and stinking!) cloud of smoke covers 'Ms. Sado', and once it clears up, it uncovers a youkai sporting a huge raccoon tail on her back, and two equally beastly ears under a big leaf hat.

Unfortunately, you know all too well who is the tanuki in front of you. Likewise, she instantly recognizes who you are:

"Ran Yakumo, the Shikigami of the Youkai of Boundaries."

"Mamizou Futatsuiwa, the Bake-Danuki from the Island of Sado."

"Y-y-y-youkai!?" Understandably, Kosuzu lets out a surprised loud yelp.

Of all the tricksters and manipulators you've had the "pleasure" of meeting, Mamizou certainly isn't the most notorious nor dangerous on your long list. On the other hand, it is said that the best smugglers and thieves are precisely those who are not famous and appear inoffensive at first sight. You did your fair amount of research on her when she was summoned to Gensokyo right after the incident with the Taoists, but although you suspect her of taking part in most of the recent incidents, you could never find hard evidence to pin her down. Only experts who have been in the game for long know how to cover their trail so thoroughly. And Mamizou has already proven to be one not be triffled with, if the stories you've heard from your fellow kitsune are true.

"I should have imagined you were behind this," you say. "Ms. Motoori might be a klutz-"

"Hey!"

"-but some of the incidents I mentioned earlier were too convoluted to be caused by mere incompetence. I reckon you were pulling on the strings all this time, sweet-talking and deceiving this girl into doing all the dirty work for you."

"Now now now, that is a pretty severe accusation you're throwing here, Ran. Can I call you Ran?" You shoot a glare at Mamizou, but you don't expect her to drop that overly familiar treatment even if you explicitly told her. "First of all, why would I go through so much trouble to, as you say, "sweet-talk" Little Bell? What would I gain out of it?"

".. I admit I don't know what's your ultimate goal, but I do know that the Night Parade meets up every month at your tanuki bonfire."

"So? What does that prove exactly?"

"It proves that you tanuki have a suspicious relationship with the Night Parade!" You almost feel like point the accusatory finger at Mamizou, but you manage to supress that urge. Professionalism before all else. "Considering the fact that the Night Parade originated from Suzunaan, and your presence here, it's very likely that you had a hand on the birth of those tsukumogami."

You believe your argument was sound enough to, at the very least, throw Mamizou back and put her on the defensive. Instead, she remains completely unfazed -- in fact, she's just a loud cackle short of laughing in your face.

"Oh, that's so unreasonably paranoid of you, Ran! Do you really believe I'm trying to build an army of walking cups and lamps, huh?" Sneers the tanuki. "The only thing that means is that those young tsukumogami know where're the best parties at!"

You can do nothing but grit your teeth while Mamizou has a hearthy laugh at your expense. This is made more painful to withstand knowing that, without evidence, you can't really lay a finger on her.

"Really, you're so tense, girl," the youkai walks to you and puts her arm around your neck, which you are quick to swat away. "Maybe I ought to bring you to our spot one of these nights, have you unwind a little. You look like you really need it."

But now that you think about it, you don't need to lay any part of your body on her, literally or metaphorically. You weren't even expecting Mamizou here in the first place; she wasn't a factor in your mission. Whatever her reasons for influencing Kosuzu are, you only need to cut the tanuki off her resources to thwart her plans -- in other words, do what you originally came here for.

The inner machinations of your mind are an enigma to all but your master. Right now, your mind is on overwork, quickly devising a new course of action to bring the tanuki's deserved comeuppance. Said course brings you towards your original mark: the little girl who's silently watching the heated argument between two youkai who she believed to be human.

"I guess I owe you an apology, Ms. Motoori," you crouch down to meet the human's teary eyes on her own level.

"... Eh?"

"I realize I made some out-of-place assumptions about your intentions," you choose your next words carefully. "But do you see why am I so adamant about the Demon Books you possess? It's because people like Ms. Futatsuiwa here will go as far as to manipulate you and use your collection for their own ends."

"Lady Sad- Futatsuiwa would never do something like that!" Kosuzu exclaims. "She's my best client, and she has helped me countless time to solve mysteries and incidents with her wise advice!"

"After what you've seen today, can you still say she helped you out of altruism and goodwill?" You press on. "Think about it, you didn't even know her real name and species until a couple of minutes ago. Compared to her, I've been more straight-forward to you than she's ever been."

Kosuzu opens her mouth to say something, but she can't find the right words to refute what you're telling her -- especially since she's starting to realize you're telling the truth.

"I'm just trying to do what's best for Gensokyo as whole, and right now that means I have to correct your irresponsible tendencies with Demon Books before bigger disasters and tragedies happen. However," you show her your best reassuring smile, "if you cooperate with me and promise to be more careful in the future, I'll see it so that you'll have your license back in short notice. That I promise you."

The librarian droops her head, and her lips are spelling silent words, trying to form a coherent sentence and failing. Her tongue is just reflecting the conflict going on in her young mind: she's debating herself between standing for the person she admired, despite learning she might have been using her for her own goals, and accepting what the bad fox says and give up her collection. You almost feel sorry for the poor girl. Almost. You've grown used to this kind of scenes to be really bothered about your marks' plights.

After a long, long while, Kosuzu shakes her head, wipes the tears in the corners of her eyes, and stands up tall. The girl takes an exaggeratedly deep breath, and says:

"I..."

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

Sorry for not giving options this time around. This update was growing longer and longer, and I was getting tired, so I thought it best to cut it before it became too big. Besides, who doesn't love cheap cliffhangers? [/jk] Though you can easily guess what will Kosuzu say, I reckon. This story would be better on /shorts/ otherwise. Next update will begin the story proper, so stay tuned for tomorrow!

>>180914
>>180915
Ehhhh, close but not quite right. What I actually intend is You really thought I would spoil my own story when I haven't even gotten started yet? Too bad, you get nothing! You lose! Good day, sirs!
No. 180921
I suck at this come on guys we must have at least on guy here who can do better than that.
No. 180929
>>180921
Do better than what?
No. 180930
>>180929

Yea I was confused about what that dude was talkin about as well.
No. 180931
"I refuse!"

...

Well, you certainly weren't expecting this. Now you're reminded of why you don't like dealing with humans: when they face something that threatens to break their status quo, they often act stubbornly and enclose themselves in their little delusional shells. And it takes a lot of time and effort to break that shell without resorting to outright mind manipulation and/or brain washing -- which is a huge no-no for you in this time and age.

"I don't see why I should listen to you!" Kosuzu crosses her arms and lets out an incensed 'hmph'. "You come here disguised as a human, accuse my number one client of being a conniving manipulator, try to take my license away, and you still have the nerve to act all righteous about it! You really are a bully!"

You know, that remark coming from her actually hurts a bit. You can't help but feel a tiny speck of regret over- no, no no no, don't let yourself be swayed by her charm! You have a clear goal in mind and you won't be deterred, no matter how many puppy eyes and puffy cheeks you encounter.

"You may think of me as low as your heart desires, but you can't deny your 'number one client' was lying to you from the beginning," you point at the tanuki with your thumb, who has been suspiciously silent all this time. "That adds credibility to my claims, don't you see? Or is it that you don't want to see it?"

"Sh-shut up! I won't have you badmouthing Ms. Sado like that!" Shrieks the little librarian. "It's true that I'm shocked to learn she was a youkai all along... even so, she's given me advice and helped me out when I most needed it. You, on the other hand, you are just trying to steal my books, simple as that. So if you don't have anything else to say, I ask you to leave this shop right now!"

You pinch your nose and let out a long groan of exasperation. It's clear the librarian won't listen to any more of your rightful justifications when she's behaving this... mulish. You didn't want to come to this, but when people refuse to be reasonable, the most effective way to make them realize their errors is to put them in another's shoes and make them see it from a second perspective. Time for plan B, then.

"Well, you heard the lady," Mamizou sneers smugly, taking a puff out of her pipe. "Seems like you're a... how do you fancy-pants say it? 'Persona non grata'? Anyway, you're not welcome in Suzunaan any longer, so don't come back unless you have actual evidence to back your claims."

Of course, you don't listen to her. Leaving now means the tanuki will have precious time to cover her tracks like she did so many times before, and you can't let that happen, not when you're this close. Still, you cannot overstay your presence here. This is, in effect, your last chance to make your move.

"You stay quiet there," you tell Mamizou, cutting her off. "So, Kosuzu Motoori, you would defend Mamizou Futatsuiwa's honor and goodwill openly, even after what you have learned of her this day?"

The librarian is initially taken aback by your sudden sinister tone and seriousness (though you have been pretty serious all this time, you think), but she musters enough resolve to meet your eyes and nod energetically.

"Of course! She might be a youkai, but she's my friend first and foremost."

Mamizou smiles, apparently moved by her vote of confidence -- if it's feigned or not, you cannot tell, and you don't care. You have your eyes set on your prey, and your prey alone.

"And you would testify in her defense were she formally and legally accused in a trial for her actions?"

"I would!"

"And you would willingly abide by her, even if she were found guilty, to the point you would challenge the court's judgement?"

Kosusu thinks her words twice at the gravity of your words, but even so, her answer remains the same:

"... Yes. Even if her actions do seem a bit... shadowy, she has the good of her people in mind," she shoots a quick side glance at the tanuki, who bows in appreciation. "If that's the way I can repay her kindness, then you can bet I will stand by her, no matter what."

Kosuzu might be clumsy, reckless and stubborn, but she's loyal to her friends, you give her that. It's such a pity that her loyalty is misplaced on the wrong people.

"I admire your spirit, young human," you say. "But is it not reasonable that loyalty and trust be tested thoroughly if found undeserved? I put it to you, Kosuzu Motoori, seller of Demon Books; will you heed my challenge?"

The human and the tanuki arc their eyebrows, interested and fearful of your next words equally. The bait has worked well.

"If you would face and complete my trial, I will relent on my pursue of the Demon Books, and leave you alone to your own designs. Plus, you will receive a hefty sum for all the troubles caused. But if you fail or decline, I will take your license and your books, and you can be sure I will find proof of Futatsuiwa's machinations in the tomes you've been using."

Kosuzu brings her hand to her chin, giving your challenge a hard, long thought. But Mamizou, after seeing her protege is seriously considering taking up your offer, jumps to her side and attempts to dissuade her.

"You don't have to do this! She's just trying to trick you, like all foxes do. If you accept, you'll be falling straight into her trap!"

"Let us hear what's the trial, at least," Kosuzu ignores the tanuki's plead. "If only for curiosity."

She's fallen for it, hook, line and sinker. Now you just have to reel her in.

"It's as simple as it sounds: you just have to participate in the Survival Mamemaki Chase Game as the Oni, and spend seven consecutive days without getting caught or defeated by your pursuers."

"That Risshun traditional game?" Kosuzu says. "Well, that actually sounds easy. I was expecting something more ominous and dangerous, like retrieving a lost artifact in the middle of the Forest of Magic, or slaying a furious beast in the Youkai Mountain, or climbing the peak to the Celestial's Heaven, or..."

"You really shouldn't give her more ideas, Little Bell," comments Mamizou. "Besides, I'm sure there's a catch. There always is."

"No, no tricks, no catch, it's the real thing, McCoy would approve of this," you nod sagely. "You'll not gainsay my terms are fair and just. If it matters, there was a woman who passed a similar challenge and earned her pardon."

The little human returns to her thoughts, considering your proposal for a last time. But at this point, it's almost a certainty what will her final answer be.

"Very well, then. Ran Yakumo, I accept your challenge!" Kosuzu exclaims with all her resolve.

"Excellent!" You allow yourself to show a victorious smile. Then, you produce another piece of parchment, with a lengthy business-like contract written and a dotted line under it. "Now if you could sign here, would you kindly...?"

Kosuzu, all too confident and excited, picks up the same pen you used earlier and quickly scribbles her sign on the line with a smug expression on her face, not bothering to read the bullet points. Meanwhile, Mamizou can only put her palm on her face and watch in horror how the naive librarian is signing the closest thing there is to her own death warrant. There's nothing she can do to stop Kosuzu's (and her own) impending doom; you've already had your way.

"Then I bid you farewell and wish you good luck, Ms. Motoori," with a waggle of your finger, you create an exact copy of the contract and tuck it back inside your sleeve. "You're going to need it."

"We shall see who gets the last laugh, Lady Kitsune."

As you exit Suzunaan (not before reapplying your human disguise on you), you get to hear the tanuki starting to berate the librarian on her poor and rash decision, before it gets drowned by the ruckus of people outside. But it's too late to change things now, and you and Mamizou know it. Getting the Demon Books is just a matter of waiting now. Just in case, you'll sneak in the library at night and apply a second cover sealing to the tomes -- you detected the mark of Hakurei sacred amulets attached to some of them when you inspected the bookshelves, but the Maiden had done a sloppy job at it. Other than that, your job here is finally done.

But really, what you most appreciate above all else is that you finally managed to get away from that tanuki's stink. The festive atmosphere is becoming more and more alluring now that you have one less thing to worry about. Maybe you'll indulge yourself and take a walk around the stands. The day is long, and this next Setsubun promises to be exciting!

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

Remember when I said I would be out for two weeks on a vacation? Well, that "holiday" of mine begins this Saturday, and I will be out until August 3rd. That means I only have three updates left until I'm forced to call an hiatus (not of the "this story's dead, Jim" kind, mind you).

I did say I would begin the story proper today, but then I realized it would be stupid to start it only to abruptly stop it before it even picks up. That's why I decided instead to dedicate these next three updates to expand a bit on the backstory. Specifically, these ones:

[]Read Setsubun: A cautionary tale of soy beans, oni and you.
[]Read the rules, terms and conditions of the Survival Mamemaki Chase Game.
[]Witness an insufficiently revealing and most vague encounter between two sinister silhouettes.


If you have other questions about the story (though I doubt it), I will do my best to answer them as long as it doesn't involve spoilers. Be sure to ask them before July 19th, because I won't be able to address them after that date.
No. 180932
[x]Read the rules, terms and conditions of the Survival Mamemaki Chase Game.

Just how screwed is Little Bell?
No. 180935
>>180932
In a scale from one to ten: twelve.

[x]Read the rules, terms and conditions of the Survival Mamemaki Chase Game.
No. 180936
[X]Witness an insufficiently revealing and most vague encounter between two sinister silhouettes.
No. 180941
[X]Read the rules, terms and conditions of the Survival Mamemaki Chase Game.

This is pretty neat! Shine on, OP, shine on.
No. 180942
[x]Read the rules, terms and conditions of the Survival Mamemaki Chase Game.
No. 180943
[x] Read Setsubun: A cautionary tale of soy beans, oni and you.

Perfect for me.
No. 180952
<<The Survival Mamemaki Chase Game (henceforth referred to as "the Game"), is a massive social game based on the long-lived tradition of the practice of Setsubun. To celebrate the coming of Spring, the residents of the Human Village throw soy beans at the entrance of their homes and at people dressed as Oni to dispel demons and bring in good fortune.

Taking advantage of the good reception that the Spell Card Rules have in Gensokyo, the Hieda family and some esteemed sponsors (henceforth referred to as "the Direction") have devised a new twist to the game of Mamemaki, implementing the Rules of danmaku battle. All people, human, youkai, spirits ot any other species with some expertise in danmaku are cordially invited to participate in this event, with the possibility of winning a grand prize for the victor.

This document serves both as a rulebook for all contestants to follow during the Game, and as a legal contract to follow the rules.


General Rules

These points apply to all contestants. Breaking any of these rules will entail disqualification from the Game, a monetary fine or even physical punishment at the ARBITER's discretion, depending on the severity of the fault.

•The Game will be held starting the dawn of February 7th and finishing the dusk of February 14th, for a duration of seven consecutive days.

•The HUNTERS' objective is to chase the ONI and attempt to capture it before the time runs out. If the HUNTERS manage to defeat the ONI and bring it to the Human Village Plaza (henceforth referred to as "the Plaza"), they will be appointed winners of the Game. If the ONI manages to remain uncaught for the duration of the Game, it will be appointed victor.

•The ARBITER is a referee personally chosen by the Direction to ensure that all the battles and actions performed by the contestants are within the rules. She has the authority to supervise duels, designate winners and losers in case of doubt, penalize faults and disqualify rule-breaking contestants on the spot. Moreover, if there's a situation where the life of a contestant is in dire danger, the ARBITER can also intervene and deal punishment as she sees fit.

•All contestants must carry their respective labels visibly at all times to be identified as participants. The HUNTERS have to wear the Hunter Blazon; the ONI, the Red Oni Mask, and the ARBITER the Staff of the Arbiter.

•Non-contestants cannot be attacked by any participant of the Game under any circumstance, except for self-defense.

•All battles and duels between contestants will be carried out under the Hakurei Spell Card Rules: Full Contact variation. The usage of lethal force and illegal items or Spell Cards is thus strictly forbidden under the most severe penalty.

•The Direction will not be responsible for any injuries, traumas or deaths caused by feral youkai, natural accidents or warranted retaliations for not following the above rules.


Rules for Hunters

These points apply specifically to those participants who have signed for the HUNTER team.

•To be legally accepted for participation, the contestants must present their ID Card and medical records, pay the entry fee at the administrative booth in the Hieda Mansion and fill the form distributed there. To apply as a group, you must specify so when filling out the form.

•When a HUNTER defeats the ONI in danmaku combat and brings it to the Plaza, they will be appointed victors of the Game, and will receive the full prize. If the winners are part of a group, the money prize will be divided among all members of the group equally.

•To engage the ONI in a danmaku duel, the Hunters must throw soy beans at it while shouting "Demon out! Luck in!", as to follow the tradition. Failure to do so invalidates the battle, and the capture of the Oni will not count towards victory.

•HUNTERS may hogtie and carry the ONI only when the ONI has no Lives left.

•The usage of bait and traps to lure and capture the ONI is permitted, as long as the ONI does not suffer any injury as a result.

•Attacking fellow HUNTERS is strictly forbidden, especially if they are attempting to defeat and capture the Oni ("killstealing"), or are carrying it to the Plaza ("flagstealing").


Rules for the Oni

These points apply specifically to the participant playing the role of ONI.

•To be legally accepted for participation, the contestant must sign this form and present it to the ARBITER before February 7th.

•If the ONI manages to remain undefeated and uncaught by the HUNTERS, it will be appointed victor of the Game, and will receive the full prize.

•The ONI's real identity will be initially kept secret. If it hasn't been discovered yet after the fifth day, the Direction will release an announcement where the ONI's real name and face will be revealed to all contestants.

•The ONI cannot engage in combat or attack any HUNTER without noticeably announcing said intention. Failure to do so will result in immediate disqualification.

•If the ONI loses all its Lives as a result of a danmaku battle against HUNTERS, it must willingly turn itself in to the HUNTERS that took its last Life away.

•As a special rule, the ONI is permitted to run from any danmaku battle and hide away until the HUNTERS desist the search and put an end to the engagement.

•The ONI is not allowed to hide in the same place or building for more than one day. If it attempts to take prolonged refuge or barricade itself inside for any longer, the Direction will announce the ONI's current location, along with its real name and face if they haven't been revealed yet.

------------------------------------------------------

The undersigned hereby agrees to turn in her bookshop license and all the Demon Books in her possession should she be not appointed victor of this Game. If she wins, she will be given her license back and a sum of 100,000¥ in indemnification.
Ran Yakumo


The undersigned hereby agrees to participate in the Survival Mamemaki Chase Game as the ONI, and pledges herself to follow the above rules and play fairly.
Head of the Game Direction Comitee: Akyuu Hieda
Appointed Arbiter: Reimu Hakurei
The contestant: Kosuzu Motoori.>>

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

I know, I know, you must've have as much fun reading this as I writing it. That is, close to zero. Who the hell even reads the terms and conditions, anyway? I tried to avoid as much legalese as I possibly could, but even so I realize this stuff is hard to remember. That's alright, you don't need to. I'll make sure to link to this post and remind you whenever a certain rule becomes relevant to the plot.

Also, if you have any questions about this guideline, please do not ask them right now. You will probably forget about it in the middle of the hiatus. Besides, there will be a character that will explain the rules to Kosuzu in-universe (and any doubts you and she have).

That said, there's still two more pieces of backstory left to explore:

[]Read Setsubun: A cautionary tale of soy beans, oni and you.
[]Witness an insufficiently revealing and most vague encounter between two sinister silhouettes.
[]Nah, that's enough "backstory" for a lifetime.

No. 180954
[X]Read Setsubun: A cautionary tale of soy beans, oni and you.

More fun we can pull out.
No. 180955
[x]Witness an insufficiently revealing and most vague encounter between two sinister silhouettes.

Has to happen at least once per story
No. 180957
[X]Read Setsubun: A cautionary tale of soy beans, oni and you.
No. 180960
[x] Witness an insufficiently revealing and most vague encounter between two sinister silhouettes.

Okay I am looking forward to it. For now this please.
No. 180961
[X]Read Setsubun: A cautionary tale of soy beans, oni and you.

Eh, let's get the background down.
No. 180963
[x]Read Setsubun: A cautionary tale of soy beans, oni and you.

Lore is good stuff.
No. 180984
[Excerpt from a historical record of traditional holidays and a study of their origins by K. Kamishirasawa]

Setsubun is the day before the beginning of Spring in Japan. Although the term literally means "seasonal division", it usually refers to the Spring Setsubun (properly called Risshun), celebrated yearly on the first week of February as part of the Spring Festival. In its association with the Lunar New Year, Spring Setsubun can be thought of as a sort of New Year's Eve, and so is accompanied by a special ritual to cleanse away all the evil of the former year and drive away evil spirits for the year to come. This special ritual is called Mamemaki (literally "bean scattering").

The new year is also the time when the spirit world becomes close to the physical world. People believed that by performing the Mamemaki, any evil spirit that might wander too close to one's home would be driven away. Other customs during this time include religious dances, fasting, and bringing tools inside the house that are normally be left outside, to prevent the spirits from possessing them and becoming tsukumogami.

The origins of Mamemaki have its roots in an ancient Chinese festivity, like practically every Japanese tradition ever. More precisely, it is believed to hail from the obscure legend of a heroine known only as Kurenai, who faced an evil oni and liberated a town from its reign of terror in one of her adventures. At the time of the tale, oni were known as mighty, boisterous and malevolent creatures that followed the exotic tradition of pillaging cattle, raping houses and burning women. They were the undisputed kings of the youkai hierarchy, the ones at the top of the food chain -- and they were all too content to lord it over their subjects and victims.

The part of the legend that concerns us has Kurenai, a wandering kung-fu trainee disguised as a traveling entertainer, arriving to a human settlement ruled by a particularly vicious oni warlord. When she's caught and captured by his minions, the heroine attempts to use her charms and her martial dances to entertain him and convince him to let her go. But the oni would not be so easily pleased -- he instead challenges the heroine to one of the bloodiest sports ever conceived: stone frisbee.

At the time, stone frisbee was a hit among the oni and humans alike, albeit for entirely different reasons. The participants arranged themselves motionless on a field in the dead of night, and took turns throwing a heavy stone disc at each other until one of them died from repeated hits. The grisly ritual supposedly pleased the gods of harvest (who were pretty hardcore back then) and produced ludicrous gibs that actually ensured that bountiful crops grew in the bloodied field. [Modern oni carry on the tradition with lightweight plastic discs and, as usual, completely fail to get the point. More on this practice in Page 235.]

There are wildly different accounts on how the match unfolded, but all agree on the same ending. The most accepted version tells of how Kurenai uses her ki manipulation to subtly deviate the trajectory of her throw, making the stone disk hit a conveniently placed barn near her opponent. The big granary is knocked over and spilled tons and tons of soy beans over the helpless oni, who wasn't permitted to move due to the rules of the game. When Kurenai and the prisoners dig him out of the mountain of beans, they find out the oni was dead -- he had choked to death after the beans obstructed his trachea. But the heroine and the villagers, none the wiser, thought the soy beans had magical properties that debilitated the oni to the point he was crushed by the avalanche.

Stories about this battle spread like wildfire through the nearby villages, and many humans all over the country started to retaliate against the abusive oni by throwing soy beans at them, trying to replicate Kurenai's feat. Of course, this was nothing but a mere annoyance for the oni, who either took it as a demand for a duel (with terrible results for the "offending" human), or simply ignored them altogether. But the humans, stubborn and determined as they are, never let up the attack.

Eventually, there was a point when oni would actively avoid human settlements just to not get unceasingly pelted. This proved to be their undoing; the humans thought the soy beans worked effectively against them, the rumors spread and settled in their minds, and due to the fickle ways of faith and belief, the oni actually developed a real weakness against soy beans. It wouldn't take long before the oni swore humans off and left for Old Hell -- although this wasn't the only reason, getting assaulted 24/7 with a torrent of soy beans to their faces certainly helped.

This incident is what gave birth to the tradition of Mamemaki as we know it. In honor of Kurenai, traveling entertainers, who are normally shunned during the year because they are considered vagrants and beggars, are welcomed on Setsubun to perform morality plays. Their vagrancy works to their advantage in these cases because they are believed to take evil spirits with them when they leave. Because Setsubun is also considered to be apart from normal time, people might also practice role reversal. Such customs include young girls doing their hair in the styles of older women and vice versa, wearing disguises, and cross-dressing -- again, like the heroine of the tale. This custom is still practiced among geisha and their clients when entertaining on Setsubun.

The tale of Kurenai and the oni goes to show that legend and belief are powerful forces. It should be no surprise that an otherwise unbeatable monster acquired a weakness to a mundane item simply by dint of everyone believing it to be effective. That is, after all, how youkai and gods came to be in the first place.

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

Definitely more entertaining to write than the last update. I hope you guys enjoy this. Now there's only one scene left to write before I go on vacation, but if you don't want it, I can forgo doing it.

[]Witness an insufficiently revealing and most vague encounter between two sinister silhouettes.
[]I'd rather not. Have a nice holiday, faget.

No. 180985
[x]Witness an insufficiently revealing and most vague encounter between two sinister silhouettes.

Come on write that last thing before the vacation. You can have some nice time there and yes I enjoy it.
No. 180986
[x] I'd rather not. Have a nice holiday, faget.
No. 180989
[x] Witness an insufficiently revealing and most vague encounter between two sinister silhouettes.

The plan is proceeding as planned. They don't suspect a thing, but that person from you-know-where is preparing to use...that! Well, I'm sure you know what happens then.
No. 180990
[x] Witness an insufficiently revealing and most vague encounter between two sinister silhouettes.

Stone frisbee sounds fantastically fun.
No. 180997
[x] Witness an insufficiently revealing and most vague encounter between two sinister silhouettes.

>Kurenai, a wandering kung-fu trainee
>ki manipulation
Meiling pls.
No. 181002
A not so long time ago, in a place not so far, far away, there was a mysterious figure standing in the balcony of an abandoned warehouse in the outskirts of the village. Clad in a coat as dark as the night around him, the figure smoke out of his pipe and contemplated the stars above. His thoughts wandered to and fro, thinking of many things and nothing in particular at the same time.

But there was something the mysterious man did not want to remember at all, and despite his attempts to stop thinking about it, his mind kept on reliving that moment. Calamity had befallen the room he and his idiot companions were in not two minutes ago; the result of a moment of pure, distilled stupidity and lack of forethought. With such a bad company, the man in shadows always wondered if they were going to get anything done properly at that rate.

"Came to take a breath of fresh air, Mr. T?"

And lo and behold, there came the greatest idiot of them all. Another figure, dressed exactly the same as him, had come out of the dreaded room and joined him in the balcony.

"Mr. A," the first man greeted the second. "I thought you didn't smoke."

"I don't. But it's even danker inside, so..." the second man shrugged. "Turns out using that 'ominous mist generator' in a cramped room wasn't a smart idea after all."

"Yeah..."

Well, that was your own goddamn fault, thought Mr. T. That idiot didn't even remember that Mr. K had asthma when he installed that stupid machine to, in his own words, "give the place a more mysterious ambiance". Truly a stroke of genius -- almost as big as Mr. K's stroke of heart. Mr T. pitied those fools, but really, with the streak of stupid-ass decisions they were making, they were bringing it on themselves.

"Mr. T, be honest with me," Mr. A asked him. "Do you really think the Plan will come together?"

"The truth?" Mr. T took a deep breath, and dropped the bomb: "Not a chance in both Hells. We can't even do the ritual without the--"

"Shhhh! Don't say it aloud!" Mr. A put his hand on the other man's mouth to hush him. "Remember: always use confusing and general terms when we talk about the Plan."

"What? But we're the only ones here. Why can't we talk normally?"

"You never know if someone's spying on us. You're not careful about this, and next morning we our whole conversation is posted in the Net."

"I don't even know what are you talking about, boss."

"Just do as I tell you, Mr. T," Mr. A ordered his subordinate.

Mr. T let out an exasperated sigh. His urge to strangle the ringleader with a gold chain was rising exponentially by the minute.

"As I was saying," he continued, "carrying out the summoning is impossible without the... thing the other guys were supposed to recover. And that was the easy part. Those suckas can't even do a pick-up properly."

"Apparently someone else got to it first," explained Mr. A. "We were about to talk about it, but then this stuff happened."

"Oh. That changes everything," the mysterious man mulled over that information for a few seconds. "Was it... her?"

"If that were true, we wouldn't be sitting here discussing it, now would we?"

"... Point taken." For once, he thought.

An awkward silence settled in, and Mr. T took that chance to take a much needed puff of his pipe to relax and think of his next words.

"With due respect, boss--"

"Spare me the pleasantries," Mr. A cut him off. "Nobody really means it whenever that phrase appears."

"On the contrary, Mr. A; I intend every whit of respect you are actually due," Mr. T. said, concealing the scorn in his words with a deadpan tone. Not that he would ever notice, even if he put a huge neon sign above his head. "Personally, I think this whole affair is pointless. Why are we even doing this? We don't even have a common goal, for crying out loud!"

"Well, don't cry out loud. Someone might be listening," said the ringleader. "Now, let me show you something."

Under Mr. T's inquisitive gaze, Mr. A put his arm around his partner's shoulder, and made him turn around to see the scenery in front of them.

"Lay thine eyes upon this land, Mr. T, and beho--!"

"Oh, and please stop calling me 'Mr. T'," the smoker man interrupted. "It's getting annoying, and it makes me feel like a brutish gentleman of color."

"... Someday, in the near future, all of this shall be yours," ignoring his plea, Mr. A encompassed the area with a wave of his arm. "Yours... Yours... Yours... All yours."

"Mr. A, this is a barren clearing."

There was another awkward silence as the ringleader stared at the empty tracts of land surrounding the abandoned building. It wouldn't have been surprising if a tumbleweed came rolling out of nowhere -- except for the fact that tumbleweeds are not native to Gensokyo, so there was no tumbleweed to succinctly show the desolation. This didn't deter Mr. A from giving his "rousing" speech, however. He shook his head scoffingly and patted his partner in crime's shoulder.

"Ah, Theophilus, Theophilus, still so green in the matters of life..."

"So that's going to be my new moniker? Theophilus?" He exclaimed in disbelief.

"How old are you, Theophilus?"

"Thirty-seven."

"Thirty-seven, huh. No wonder," Mr. A looked far away in the horizon, as if recalling a particularly melancholic memory. "When you get to my age, you'll begin to understand things, in due time."

"Weren't you twenty-five, boss?"

"Look, Theophilus, see that tree over there?" He pointed at the lone, dry trunk standing in the middle of the prairie. "Yeah, that one. Yours shall it be too."

Mr. A gave his subordinate a few reassuring pats, and allowed himself to show a proud smile, while the smoker man glared at him like he had just escaped from mental care.

"Theophilus, son of Thanatos, behold: Our future empire!"

"Excuse me, but my father was called Shinjiro."

"Don't screw with me, Theophilus!" Mr. A, fed up with his grumpy subordinate's constant interruptions, burst. That was the last straw. "Get out of my sight at once! Instead of complaining, why don't you go do something useful for once, like- like getting the thing back! Yeah, that'd be great. Don't come back until you've recovered it. Now get moving!"

Mr. T Theophilus tossed his pipe out of the balcony in annoyance and, with nary a word, stormed out of the building. While he was understandably angry with his idiotic boss and his incompetent fellows, the mysterious man was actally glad he gave him that order. God knew he was the only member who actually got things done; if it wasn't for him, they would still be conspiring behind bedtime story books. Besides, it was the best excuse to not go to the reunions and see their faces -- although the obligatory black cloaks were actually a nice touch, he gave his boss that.

For the time being, Thepohilus was content to think about the praises who'd get once the plan does come together. People would remember him as the man who ushered a new age in Gensokyo -- the man who carried the whole team.

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

So that's it for the first part of the story. I'll be back in August 3rd, so expect the next update the 4th.
No. 181003
What a couple of maroons
No. 181116
By the way, I've been wondering, is the quote in the original post a dig at my story perhaps?

Regardless, I found the coincidence quite humorous
No. 181118
>>181116
I had thought it was a dig at YAF myself, since he always uses quotes. And perhaps also a joke in itself, since he's using it as a quote.
No. 181216
Day 0: February 6th

The sound of someone knocking at your door brings you back from dream limbo. Still half-asleep, you grumble the first thing that comes to your groggy mind:

"Leave me alone!"

"Dear, it's me," your mother's voice reaches your ears muffled through the door. "You haven't eaten anything since yesterday, and you didn't even touch the tray I've left here. You're worrying me! Are you okay?"

"Of course I am, mother, I'm totally fine," you groan, feeling anything but.

"Are you sick? Do you want me to call a doctor?" Oblivious to your sarcasm, she keeps fulfilling her motherly duty of nagging her child.

"No, I don't want to see a doctor, or anybody for that matter! It doesn't concern you!"

Mother is at a loss of words for a few moments, but then she seems to understand what's going on, in her infinite parental wisdom.

"Oh, I see, I see. You're going through that teenage phase, right, sweetheart?"

"It's not a phase!"

"Don't worry, it's just a part of growing up. That means you're becoming a full grown woman," you can perfectly picture her nodding sagely behind the closed door. "But you don't have to bear with it alone. That's what mothers are for."

"Oh my god, mom, you don't understand! Leave! Me! Alone!" You pound your fist on the table to emphasize your annoyance.

A sad sigh reaches through the pillow you're using to cover your head. It must be exaggerated, you tell yourself, but...

"One of your friends came to visit an hour ago. That blonde girl with the big black hat and the broom."

<<Marisa>> you think. You only knew her as one of Reimu's acquaintances, but you soon became great friends thanks to your shared interest in strange books. The ordinary witch often goes "treasure hunting" and "borrows" most of her books--unlike you, who acquires them in a more honest way--, but you have to admit she often finds really rare magic tomes that you would never get through your channels. <<Not that it matters anymore. I won't be able to exchange more books after tomorrow.>>

"She was very worried about you, since you haven't gone out for a whole week," you mother continues. "It took me a lot of talking to get her to leave. She can be very stubborn, and she cares about you a lot, you know?"

You can't find a suitable answer, so you just remain silent. You didn't think you could feel any worse than before, but again, your mood has reached a new unimaginable low.

"I'll leave lunch over here," you hear the quiet sound of another tray being placed behind the door. "Call me if you need something, alright?"

You don't answer her back, even as you hear Mother's steps drawing away. And although your stomach is making the rumblies fiercely, the knot in your throat takes your appetite away, so you don't feel like getting the tray with her lovingly home-cooked meal. You'd rather lie there and forget about everything, let time slip away. Becoming a shut-in doesn't sound that bad compared to the hell that awaits you. You'd spend the rest of your days in your room, cut off from the world and safe from the bad people that will hunt you down. You'll eat Mother's food and read books until you die...

"Wait, I won't even have my books," you remember, and your mood sours even more. "Aw man, this is the worst!"

You are Kosuzu Motoori; in the Human Village you were born and raised. On your library you spend most of your days, chilling out, reading, relaxing all cool,
collecting Demon Books when you're not at school. Until one day a fox youkai who was up to no good started making trouble in your... uh, in Suzunaan...

"Gah, this is stupid!" You throw your pillow on the air after the umpteenth fruitless attempt to fit your plight into a catchy tune. "Maybe it's for the best. That's song's overrated anyways."

Regardless, the fox youkai, who goes by the name of Ran Yakumo, has taken your bookshop license away and sealed all your book collection, and she's challenged you to participate in the Survival Mamemaki Chase Game as the Oni. And you, rash and fool like many youngsters before you, agreed without a second thought. It wasn't until your trusted friend Ms. Sado (<<no, she's Mamizou Futatsuiwa now>> you remind yourself) explained the game to you in detail when you realized how big was the pile of dung you've willingly dived headfirst into.

The contract you're currently crumpling in your hands goes into a lot of detail about the Game, but the gist of it is that you'll be chased by half of Gensokyo for a whole week, and you'll be constantly challenged to danmaku duels. If you get beaten and caught you'll be kidnapped and carried like a sack of potatoes, but that's not the worst part; you'll also lose your license and books forever to that devious fox, and Mamizou's honor will be defiled and questioned.

You wouldn't be so scared if you actually knew how to fight and survive in the wild, but you weren't much of an outdoors person, so you didn't bother with that. Now you're regretting not learning danmaku like the rest of your neighbors, along with many of your stupid decisions you've made in your life. If only you could be half as strong as Reimu, you wouldn't even be worried about this...

"Hmmm, Reimu... I haven't seen her for a month or so," you mutter to yourself.

Reimu Hakurei, the Shrine Maiden of Paradise. One of your earliest and more trusted friends, though not really interested in buying you books, sadly. Whenever there's an incident, the miko is always at the ready to put an end to it with a good dosage of amulets -- and that includes all the times your Demon Books acted weird. You and her have investigated and solved mysteries regarding strange happenings with youkai and spirits, using that famous "brains & muscle" routine that works so well in novels. In fact, she's saved your own hide a couple of times already, when your curiosity got the best of you. Not that you would ever admit it was your fault; she can be really scary when she's mad.

"I could really use her help right now. Too bad amulets can't help me invalidate this damned contract-- Wait, maybe..."

Going on a hunch, you uncrumple the contract and read it carefully again. You swear you saw her name somewhere... Yes, at the bottom! Reimu Hakurei is the Arbiter that is alluded to several times at the rules. You don't know how in the world she got involved in this, but if she's in such an important position, there's a chance she--

You open the window and peek outside. The chill of the last days of winter hits you in the face like a painful slap, and the snow covering the streets and roofs of the Human Village is already starting to melt under the sun's warmth. However, you are more interested about what's above. Namely, where the sun is at this moment.

"The sun's just past its zenith, so I still have time!"

You hurriedly put on your comfiest winter clothes, a warm coat and a scarf, and tuck the contract in one of the coat's pockets. The trek ahead will be long and cold, and you don't want to get a cold now -- or worse, that night falls down while you're still in the middle of the way.

The Hakurei Shrine, the place where Reimu is nine out of ten times, is hours away on foot from your home -- and it varies depending on the weather and the amount of fairies swarming the forests. It would only take you half an hour if you knew how to fly, but at the time you thought learning the history of Mer-kin civilization was more interesting than that. Another thing to add to your growing list of regrets.

You storm out of your room, ignoring the tasty food with its appetizing smell at the door. In your rush, you practically slide down the stairs and almost crash with your mother, who had come to see what was the fuss you were making about.

"Kosuzu! What happens? Where are you going?"

"I'm in a hurry, mom! I gotta go, see you later!" You shout as you open the door outside.

It's just past noon, so you have about... six, maybe seven hours before the sun sets. You want to be at the Hakurei Shrine before night falls, and hopefully find Reimu there.

"No, she has to be there," you tell yourself. "The Oni must give her the form to participate in the Game, after all. I thought I'd never say this, but I appreciate this obstructive bureaucracy for once."

The trip to the Hakurei Shrine takes around three hours, if the weather is favorable and the fairies aren't rowdy. This means you don't need to rush to the Shrine right now; that very rashness got you into this mess to begin with. You ought to take it (somewhat) easy, and make sure you arrive there safe and sound.

[]Go to the Village's walls and set to the Hakurei Shrine, without further delay.
[]Walk around the Village Plaza, get a feeling of how are the future participants doing.
[]Go back to your house, see if there's something useful for your journey in there.


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

Hey guys, I'm back as promised. Hope you didn't forget about me. I had a lovely holiday, thanks for asking. But you didn't come here to hear me rambling about virgin beaches with transparent waters and medieval castles at mountain peaks, right? You came here to read stories, so let's get back to the regular schedule.

In Day 0, your choices and actions will flesh out Kosuzu's personality and inclination for the rest of the story. There are many ways to get to the Hakurei Shrine; some more direct and faster, others longer but more rewarding, and all of them are valid and legit. It's about the journey, not the destination, and all that. Just remember, you have to be at the Hakurei Shrine before night, otherwise it's game over and we'll have to restart from the beginning of the day.

>>181116
What is your story? That quote was mostly self-depreciating and ironic humor, but it's also a jab at people that puts quotations at the beginning, like >>181118 says. It just so happens that YAF is the worst offender of this practice.

"I am reminded of how Joe Queenan once suggested that if mediocre books were going to preface with quotes from great literature, how great literature could return the favour by prefacing themselves with quotes from Tom Clancy explaining the technical specifications of a military helicopter."
--MightyGodKing on Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

No. 181219
[x]Go back to your house, see if there's something useful for your journey in there.

Eat. Get supplies. Possibly emergency family secrets. And then rush like all hell to the Shrine!

Also, welcome back, Satzibeli! Looking forward to this story!
No. 181220
[x] Go back to your house, see if there's something useful for your journey in there.

Ohhhh we're her for the rest of the story. That makes way more sense I guess. Would the prologue have ended with Ran getting her to agree to be the Oni no matter what we voted for?
No. 181221
[X]Go back to your house, see if there's something useful for your journey in there.

Better safe than sorry.

And would Kosuzu have been the Oni no matter what?
No. 181222
[X]Walk around the Village Plaza, get a feeling of how are the future participants doing.
No. 181228
x]Go back to your house, see if there's something useful for your journey in there.

This is going to be fun. Well for us, obviously not for our little bell here.
No. 181231
[x]Go back to your house, see if there's something useful for your journey in there.

Before you exit the Village, you decide it'd be better to go back home and gear up for the path ahead. After all, the road to the Shrine is long and full of dangers for the weak and the unwary. You are very aware that you fit squarely into the first category, so if you don't want to take the one-way ticket to Higan, you ought to prepare for the trip properly.

The chiming bell you love so much rings as you push the door to Suzunaan open. You find your mother at the entryway, who was just finishing putting her boots on -- she must have been preparing to go after you. She arches her eyebrows in surprise when she sees you, clearly not expecting you to return so soon, merely half a minute later.

"Kosuzu! Why did you run off like that?" She exclaims. Her voice denotes reproach and relief at the same time, like only a mother worried for her child could make. "I thought you'd been possessed by an evil spirit! Again."

"No, I'm not possessed by anybody!" You exclaim, flustered. That incident with the love letters is something you'd rather forget. "I, uh... Remembered I had to go deliver something to a person, and the deadline is today so I have to hurry, but I forgot the thing here, so..."

Mother stares down at you, as if trying to discern what you really mean with that vague explanation. Because there's no doubt she knows you're just telling her a half truth -- you've never been able to get away with lying to her. You reckon all mothers have some sort of internal lie detector that only works with their children or something. More probably, she knows you too well to guess when you're hiding something from her.

"... Alright, I won't ask what you're up to this time," Mother finally says, surely seeing how restless you are. "I should be grateful you finally decided to get out of your room."

"Thanks, Mom!"

You plant a quick kiss on her cheek and walk inside--

"Stop right there, missy!" Mother yanks you violently by your scarf and chokes the air out of your throat rather violently. "Did you forget your manners too? I told you not to step on the tatami with your shoes on a million times before! Take them out before you dirty the floor with mud!"

"Y-yes, Mo... ther... Air..."

Being defeated before your journey even starts--and by your own mother!--is kind of embarrassing even for someone like you, so you comply and replace your mountain boots for your comfy slippers. Then you walk inside, under your mother's gaze. She seems like she wants to talk to you more, but you don't think you have time to spare for a mother-daughter bonding session right now. You told her you are going to get something you forgot, but what are you exactly looking for?

[]Food. The lunch must still be in the tray, steaming and warm. Nutrition is key!
[]A weapon. Venturing into the wild without one is risky; you want to defend yourself.
[]Money. In case you need to buy something... or make a donation to Reimu for once.
[]A book. Ran sealed your whole collection, but maybe she overlooked something.
[]Advice. Mother's lived longer than you; she may help you out with your problem.
[]Nothing. You'd better be on your way before it gets too late.
-[]Go to the walls.
-[]Go to the Plaza.


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

>>181220
>>181221
Yeah, the whole premise of the story is that Kosuzu is forced to be the Oni, so I had to do a little bit of necessary railroading back there. What did change is the reason why Little Bell is in the game, which will have a certain impact in the plot later. I promise I will keep railroading to a bare minimum in the future.
No. 181234
[x]Food. The lunch must still be in the tray, steaming and warm. Nutrition is key!
[x]Money. In case you need to buy something... or make a donation to Reimu for once.
[x]Advice. Mother's lived longer than you; she may help you out with your problem.

Railroading is fine, I was just curious.
No. 181235
[X] Advice
[X] Food

How many and what genders parents do we have?
No. 181237
>>181231
So, how many of these are we supposed to choose?
No. 181241
[x]Food. The lunch must still be in the tray, steaming and warm. Nutrition is key!
[x]Money. In case you need to buy something... or make a donation to Reimu for once.
[x]Advice. Mother's lived longer than you; she may help you out with your problem.

In truth I can't think of anything else. We're not trained enough for a weapon and how is a book gonna help us on our journey?
No. 181244
>>181235
Two parents: one male and one female. Like a normal family. Because Kosuzu is a normal girl. Yup.

>>181237
Pick all you want, but none of them are free actions. Meaning it'll take time to do each one of them, some more than others. I mean, when did you hear about a person that can eat a mountain of food in an instant? That's preposterous!
No. 181248
[X]Food. The lunch must still be in the tray, steaming and warm. Nutrition is key!
[X]Advice. Mother's lived longer than you; she may help you out with your problem.
No. 181251
[x]Food. The lunch must still be in the tray, steaming and warm. Nutrition is key!
[x]Advice. Mother's lived longer than you; she may help you out with your problem.


Your stomach roars in protest, already deciding for you. You were too overwhelmed with dread and worry to even notice what Mother cooked for you, but now that you've calmed down a bit, you're starting to notice the effects of not eating anything for more than twenty-four hours.

"Mom, uh, can I..." you stammer. "Can I have lunch now? I'm a bit hungry."

Your mother chuckles softly, in understanding. "It's right where you left it."

You waste no time in trotting up the stairs, to find the tray right in front of your door, like Mother said. It's a miracle you didn't knock it over when you rushed out of your room like a bullet. The plate is still warm and steaming, and the distinct odor of spices stimulates your nostrils, waters your mouth and lifts your spirits. You already know what dish Mother prepared, and you love her a bit more for that.

"Yes, it's Mom's Spicy Hot Lo Mein!" You squee. "Just what I needed for a cold day in the snow!"

You bring the tray to the kitchen, take your chopsticks and slurp the noodles away with the glee and urgency of a starving person. It is said that every cook has a special recipe that only he knows how to do well, regardless of how badly he prepares other dishes. In your Mother's case, her culinary masterpiece is a stir-fry of wheat noodles, cooked with both spices and herbs, both delicious and spicy. The spices make them spicy, and the herbs make them... delicious. Too bad "herby" isn't a word.

As you gulp them down, the spices leave a hot taste in the back of your mouth, and the noodles warm your belly -- but Mother claims she also puts a bit of "motherly love" in the Lo Mein. You're reminded of how Father affectionately calls her "his spice girl" when they believe they're alone, though you don't know if it's because of her cooking skills or-- yeah, you'd better stop thinking about that stuff and keep eating.

"My my, glad to see you're so lo-mein-tenance."

You look up from the plate to see your Mother smiling at you, at the opposite end of the table. Many people say you've inherited your hearty and modest beauty from her, but that's where the similarities end. You both have copper red hair, auburn eyes and petite frames, though Mother has wider hips and slightly bigger breasts, understandably considering the age difference. In respect of personalities, you and she are total opposites -- at least in your opinion. While you are optimist and cheerful, she is stern and serious (barring the occasional sarcastic comment); when you act all carefree, she turns into a total worrywart; you are more of an indoors person that enjoys reading in the library, and she loves going outside and chat with her friends; you like puppies, she likes kittens, and so on.

"How long have you been waiting to make that awful pun, Mother?"

"More than you think, dear," she sighs. "Your father loves me and my food, but my humor escapes him like donations escape your miko friend."

"That's one more thing I took after him," you say after gulping down another mouthful of pasta with water. "I guess your sophisticated jokes are not compatible with the simpleton blood of the Motoori bloodline."

You father disagrees with that, of course; he often says you are the living image of her wife, it's just that you have yet to grow up. In your opinion that's not the case; that you are already mature enough for your age, and that you've taken after him more than her. He was the one that planted and nurtured your passion for books since you were little, and you love him for it. But that's not to say you love your Mother any less...

Except when she looks at you with those amused eyes, like she's doing right now. Like she's having a laugh at your expense for something you're doing that only she finds funny (is spit falling off your mouth? Did you stain your coat with food?). And that perennial smirk... it's as if the whole world is a joke that only she gets. That's when you find her most insufferable. And yet...

You think your next words carefully. Mother has always been supportive to you, but even she will get mad if you tell her you're involved in the Survival Game. If she grounds you now, you will lose by default, and you'll have to kiss your books goodbye.

"Mom, have you... do you have enemies?"

"Enemies?" She tilts her head, taken by surprise. "I.. guess so? It's almost impossible not to garner someone's dislike, no matter how nice and saintly you try to be. That said, I was a particularly... picaresque lass when I was your age. So yes, I'm sure I had my share of enemies back then."

<<That's a first. She doesn't like to talk about her past,>> you think to yourself.

"But that was in the past," she continues, as if reading your mind. "Now I live the life of a housewife, I'm happily married to my husband and I find joy in counseling my little troubled daughter."

"Have you ever been chased by those enemies?"

"No, never. I made sure I never gave them reasons to do so." Mother squints her eyes and pierces you with her glare. "What did you do this time, Kosuzu? Who's after you?"

"I haven't done anything, and there's nobody after me!" <<Yet.>> "It's just an hypothetical situation."

"Hypothetical situations seldom are hypothetical."

"No, it's just--" Then, all of a sudden, the perfect excuse comes to your mind. Or was it always there? "I'm curious. I want to learn more about you, Mother."

Your progenitor arches her eyebrows, surprised, or maybe flattered, but you can't tell she hasn't really bought it.

"Well, if that ever happened to me, I think... I dunno, maybe I'd ask help from a bigger fish," she shrugs. "I had a few friends that were strong and scary, people that were in good terms with me, or that owed me a favor. People nobody would want to mess with."

<<Just like Reimu and Marisa.>>

"Say those friends of yours can't help you..."

"Then I would get myself better friends," Mom says, unequivocally.

"Mother, please, I'm serious!" You groan. "Imagine the whole town is out to get you. What would you do?"

"Alright, alright! Well, in that case I..."

Mother closes her eyes, deep in thought, as she tries to imagine herself on your boots -- unknowingly, of course.

"I could flee where I want to, to a place where they'll never find. I'd leave this land, take the chance to explore places out of this town, where nobody has ever been before, where I would never be found again.

"I could help if I want to, and hope everything'll work out right. Life is a negotiation, everybody wants something, and sometimes you have to give to get what you want. So I'd go out there and be nice to other people, lend a hand, try to be the better person.

"I could fight if I want to, I could leave my foes behind. 'Cause my foes could fight, but if my foes don't fight, well, they're no foes of mine. Fight punches with punches, and bullets with bullets, the Gensokyo way.

"I could go where I want to, because the night is young and so am I. I'd dress real neat from my hat to my feet, so that no one recognizes me, and I would trick them into believing I'm a completely different person.

"I could rise if I want to, and surprise them with my war cry. I can act real rude, totally removed, and swat away all those imbeciles. If I don't fight back, nobody will, so I'd put some fear into them and teach them not to mess with me."

When she finally finishes, you let out the exasperated groan you've been holding for so long. "Are you giving me advice, or trying to sing a song?"

"Who says songs don't teach you morals?" She counters with that obnoxious smile of hers.

You remain in silence, mulling over the options she's given you. Honestly, they all seem like crap. Running away forever, becoming an errand girl, disguising yourself, fending your pursuers off, intimidating them... You don't like the sound of any of them, but you realize you'll have to do things you're not used to if you want to win the Game. You've read many books where the protagonist do that kind of stuff in a regular basis, but do you have what it takes to be an adventurer?

"The bottom line is that you should follow your instincts," Mother says, sensing your moment of weakness. "If you stay true to yourself, you will eventually find a way to get through your troubles, without compromising your own values. Even if everything looks bleak, don't lose hope. There's always a solution."

"That sounds so cliche, Mom," you chuckle.

"Well, excuse me, princess, I'm not as literate as you are, alright?!" She swats her hand away. "But look at it this way: if there are so many books saying that, there's a big chance it's not just mumbo-jumbo, right?"

"Hmmm..."

Most of those books are idealistic and fantastic, to say the truth. The real world doesn't work like that... but then again, Gensokyo is the Land of Fantasy. Maybe you'd do well in taking Mother's advice to heart.

"But it's a hundred of trained people against a defenseless little girl," you mutter. "There's no way she could hold on for long..."

"I'm sure that little girl still has some friends willing to help her out, even if the entire town is against her."

"Huh?"

"Even among those hundred, maybe there's someone who doesn't hold as much hostility as the rest," Mother explains. "Maybe, with a little bit of pleading and convincing, that someone will take pity on the girl and lend her a hand. Maybe that someone will take the girl in and protect her. And if they find her, maybe that someone will hold them off while he shows her the backdoor, giving her enough time to escape."

<<The question is, is there a person who would do that for me?>>

"I think... I think I get it now. Thanks for the help, Mother," you leave your chopsticks on your empty plate and stand up. "The food was delicious, by the way."

"No problem. That's what mothers are for," she smiles again, but this time there's real sincerity behind it. "Come back if you ever need help. I'll always be here for you, you know that."

"Will do."

You nod in appreciation and are about to take your leave, but before you exit the kitchen, Mom interrupts you.

"Oh, and if you're really going to participate in the Mamemaki, you really ought to learn danmaku."

If you had something in your mouth, you would've spat it out at Mach 3. "You knew!?"

"Fufufu... I couldn't consider myself your mother if I didn't!"

Her lips curl up and show her white teeth, mocking the naïve girl that was about to embark in her own adventure.

[]Before leaving for good, you still have to get something:
-[]A weapon. One you can wield easily, if possible.
-[]Dough! You mean, dosh. You mean, cash. You mean, money.
-[]A Demon Book, if that fox missed one in her inspection.
-[]Ask Mom to pack you a second serving of her Lo Mein to take away.
[]You're good to go now. Let's get moving before it gets late!
-[]Go to the walls.
-[]Go to the Plaza.

No. 181252
[x]You're good to go now. Let's get moving before it gets late!
-[x]Go to the walls.

Tempted to check out the opposition, but Kosuzu needs to get to the shrine and get a crash lesson in danmaku. Pronto.
No. 181253
[x] Dough! You mean, dosh. You mean, cash. You mean, money.
[x] Ask Mom to pack you a second serving of her Lo Mein to take away.

Two bribes for Reimu.
No. 181254
[x] Dough! You mean, dosh. You mean, cash. You mean, money.
[x] Ask Mom to pack you a second serving of her Lo Mein to take away.

A second bribe is nice as well, but I'm more thinking about the distance we'll be traveling. It would such to walk the whole way back on an empty stomach.
No. 181272
[x] Dough! You mean, dosh. You mean, cash. You mean, money.
[x] Ask Mom to pack you a second serving of her Lo Mein to take away.

Bribery is the best policy after all.
No. 181277
[x]Dough! You mean, dosh. You mean, cash. You mean, money.
[x] Ask Mom to pack you a second serving of her Lo Mein to take away.

Before you forget, you go back to your room and take your hidden stash of money from your secret spot. In a completely inconspicuous wallet you keep all the money you manage to salvage from your job at Suzunaan. Many people complain about the "abusive prices" you put on your books, but they don't understand anything! What they don't realize is that you do need to pay the shop's rent, electricity and water, and some of the rarest books you have in store weren't exactly cheap to begin with, what with being eldritch tomes and all that. The truth is that your wallet sees less than the tenth part of what you earn from selling those books.

You count all the small change and bills you've saved for three years, amounting to a bit more than 10,000¥. You originally planned to buy an interesting book for your own personal collection when you saw one, but after the recent developments, it seems you're going to need them to survive out there. That is, if the youkai outside the Village accept yen as currency. For all you know, they might deal in meat instead -- and you have your own flesh in too much regard to just give it away like that.

"I'll just think of this as an inversion to recover my books," you say as you empty the contents of your stash into a small purse, which you tuck safely in one of the inside pockets of your coat.

You gain 10,000¥.

Feeling the reassuring weight of coin in your personage, you walk down the stairs to the entrance. There, resting besides your boots, there is a bento box wrapped in a purple cloth with a bell motif, and a note attached to it. You pick it up, feeling the warmth seeping through the fabric, and read the message.

<<As you asked, here's another serving of your favorite dish. This was supposed to be your father's part, but he's out again with his new friends, so he can't complain. And I have a feeling you will need it much more than him anyway.

Be brave and be safe! Love,

Mom ♥>>


You acquire an item: Mom's Spicy Hot Lo Mein

You turn around, and see your dear mother leaning from the kitchen door, giving you a knowing wink. Feeling a wave of deep appreciation for her care, you return her your best and sweetest smile before you put on your boots and leave, this time for real.

"Alrighty," you say aloud, rocking your head to both sides and looking at your surroundings. "My stomach and my wallet are full, so I have to get to the Shrine before it gets--"

"Late! I'm late, late, late!"

Without any time to react, you're tackled to the ground from your left (<<What? There was nobody there just a second ago!>>) and you get a mouthful of snow for not closing your yapper before hitting the floor. You prop yourself up with your arms and spit out the muddy snow with a cough, and try to spot who took you for a opposing quarterback.

"Ow ow ow ow ow, my nose~~!"

Sitting in front of you there's a short girl with a long, fluffy blonde mane that reached to her hips. Her asymmetrical red bow stands out, and goes well with the red and white dress that vaguely reminds you of a witch's attire. She carries a small wicker basket hanging from her left arm, and a square black backpack similar to those from your school -- no, scratch that; it is the bag from the Village school. This girl must be one of Keine's students, but you don't think you've ever seen her before. You'd certainly remember someone with a hair like that.

"I'm sorry, I'm sorry!" The blonde girl apologizes while pinching her nose, all reddened by the blow and the cold. "I was running because I'm late for school and I lost my cat and I was just going around the corner looking for him but I didn't see you and--"

The loud gong of the town hall's bell interrupts her bashful rant, signaling the hour past noon. <<Don't worry, Kosuzu. You still have around five hours before sunset. Plenty of time to reach the Shrine.>> you tell yourself. The girl, however, cannot remain calm, and screams out a high-pitched yelp.

"Oh no, I'm super late! I'm gonna get scolded! Gotta go!"

And she runs off like she came in, like a protagonist of a slice-of-life comedy, leaving a trail of white dust in the air as her quick strides fly past the snow-covered streets. You didn't even had time to think what to say to her when she disappears behind a corner far away.

"... Odd girl."

You are about to go your own way when your foot stumbles upon a strange object. A purple, frilly umbrella lies on the snow, right besides the mark that the blond girl's buttocks left on the snow.

"Huh, did she drop this when she crashed into me?"

You attempt to pick it up; it is surprisingly heavy for its appearance, like its shaft was made of a really dense metal instead of aluminum or wood. But more importantly, you have a nagging feeling that you've seen this umbrella before, somewhere...

You acquire an item: Strangely familiar umbrella

You briefly ponder the possibility of running after the girl and returning the umbrella back to her; after all, it looks really expensive, and she will probably be worried when she realizes she lost it. But on the other hand, you don't exactly have much free time to go on a wild goose chase -- because you know it'll be difficult to find a person in the crowded streets, even someone as striking and flamboyant as that girl.

[]Forget it, you have much more pressing matters to attend. Off to the Walls!
[]Finding that strange girl will probably be worth your time, you think.
-[]Follow her to where you last saw her. She couldn't have gone too far.
-[]You'll have more chances to find her if you ask around the Plaza.


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

There's a new thread at >>/words/1011 where I will be keeping a list of all the items and Spell Cards you find throughout this adventure. I will also make sure to link to the inventory whenever appropriate, like I did here. I recommend you take a look at it; you might find clues in the items' descriptions to solve certain quests or puzzles.

Also, since the plot is moving kind of slow, I hereby decree that access to Suzunaan is now vetoed for the rest of the day. We have spent too much (real) time in there and we gotta keep the story going fast!

>>181253
>>181254
>>181272
But "bribing" is such an ugly word! Reimu will appreciate it if you refer to that as "altruistic donation".
No. 181283
[x]Forget it, you have much more pressing matters to attend. Off to the Walls!

Time to get moving.
No. 181291
[x] Forget it, you have much more pressing matters to attend. Off to the Walls!
No. 181297
I actually had a random thought, what if we pay Akyuu a visit to get tips on how previous 'Onis' succeeded.
No. 181303
[x]Forget it, you have much more pressing matters to attend. Off to the Walls!
No. 181310
[x]Forget it, you have much more pressing matters to attend. Off to the Walls!

You decide to ignore what just happened and be on your way. Although you still have a lot of time, you cannot go chase people all over the village either. The sooner you get to the Hakurei Shrine, the better.

That said, there still is the matter about the umbrella the girl dropped. If you leave it here, you're sure someone else will take it, and she will never see it again. Too bad you can't afford to go after the girl, or turn the umbrella in to Lost Luggage. No, you will carry it yourself and return it once you get back home, in good conditions if possible. You hope that girl won't be needing the umbrella until tomorrow.

----------------------------------------------------------------

It only takes you a couple of minutes of strolling through the streets until you spot the frozen walls surrounding the gate. Almost seven hundred feet high they stood, three times the height of the tallest building in the village they sheltered. Your father said the top was wide enough for a dozen armored warriors to walk abreast. The gaunt outlines of huge catapults and monstrous wooden cranes stood sentry up there, like--

Okay, now you're just being silly. If they were big and imposing in the past, that you ignore -- but in their current state the walls are, to be honest, a ridiculous joke, a shadow of their former greatness. That, if you can even call a crude barricade made of mortar and sharpened bamboo stalks of three meters tall a "wall". Even the weakest of youkai would have no troubles breaking through it with a bit of force... If they don't simply decide to fly over it, what with the lack of watch towers or archers to shoot them down. And don't even mention the catapults and the cranes -- there's no need for a degree of engineering to know the bamboo would not withstand the weight of heavy machinery at its top.

And if you ever wear the black, it'll be only at your own funeral. <<Which might be very soon, considering my horrid luck,>> you think somberly.

All in all, the wall does a terrible job at defending the Village against the dangers of the forest. But why should it? The humans can always count on the Hakurei Maiden to exterminate any youkai that goes on a rampage. Nowadays, you have even less motives to worry about a youkai attack, thanks to Reimu and the Spell Card Rules -- in fact, some youkai have already started to mingle with humans and getting along, save for some overly conservative people here and there. Or were they here all this time? Ever since you learned that Ms. Sado was a tanuki all along, you can't be sure anymore.

Take for example the young guard stationed at the door today: a Chinese girl of crimson eyes and long fiery red hair. Going by her jovial, round face and her slender, small figure (even smaller than you!), this person looks more like a fifth grader than a police officer. However, her uniform does identify her as a member of the Village guard: yellow cap adorned with a white bow in her hair, green and yellow clothing, and the regulatory baton.

The first thing that comes to your mind is asking her if she's too young to work as a guardswoman, but you reconsider when you look at how she carries off her training exercises with a group of practice targets. That is, if by "practice targets" you mean "snowmen", and by "training exercise" you mean "rolling giant balls of snow". However, she does so with an energy and speed unfit of her apparent age. <<Human age.>>

When you walk closer, the redhead guard notices you, and in her rush to get back into character, she drops the ball she was making for her next snowman's head.

"G'day, ma'am! I'm Officer Orange, at your service!" She salutes in an stiff, practiced motion, as if you were her superior and didn't just catch her frolicking in the snow.

"At ease, soldier," you chuckle and wave your hand dismissively. Orange's shoulders relax visibly. "I only need you to open the doors, if you please. I need to go out."

"Sure thing, miss, let me get the key and-- wait!" The guard was about to get something from her pocket, but she stops midway when she suddenly remembers something. "I'm sorry, but I am not allowed to let any resident of the village pass without an ulterior motive."

"What!?"

"Orders from Commander Kotohime. Apparently the fairies and some low-rank youkai are in war and they're shooting each other on sight, or something like that. I wasn't really paying attention at the meeting, eheheh..." She rubs the back of her head apologetically. "Anyway, the case is that the roads through the forest are really dangerous right now, so citizens are not permitted to go out unless they have an official document of authorization. Sorry."

"Man, that's total bull!" You complain. "Can't you look the other way this time? I'm in a lot of hurry, and I promise I will repay you later."

"Negative. The well-being of all the citizens rests upon my shoulders. If something happened to you while you're out there, the responsibility would fall upon me," Orange explains. "And forgive my impertinence, but you don't really look like you could defend yourself if a youkai attacked you."

"Guh..."

You hate to admit it, but she's completely right. You don't have a proper weapon--and the umbrella probably doesn't count, no matter how sturdy and heavy it is--, and you don't know how to fight with danmaku. Your only hope to survive if you're ambushed by fairies or youkai would be to run faster than they can fly. And you're not very confident on your legs' ability to outrun supernatural beings...

"However..."

"What? What is it?" You perk up.

"Do a little favor for me, and I will grant you permission to pass. For this time," Orange lowers her voice to a plotting whisper. "If you're able to get me what I seek, I could consider you resourceful enough to survive in the wild on your own, and open the doors for you. How about it?"

[]{Show the Game Contract} "I need to see the Arbiter to deliver this paper. I believe this document counts as official authorization."
[]"Okay, if you'll really let me pass, let's hear that request of yours..."
[]{Challenge} "You say I can't defend myself. Allow me to prove you otherwise."
[]{Lie} "Forget about it, I came here to tell you there's a fire at the plaza!"
[]{Pickpocket key} "Look, a knife nut meido behind you!"
[]{Intimidate}"I got a better idea: I'm going to stab you in the gabber with my umbrella, and I'll go through the doors, and you can writhe in pain right there with your snowmen, how about it?"
[]{Go the the Plaza} "Eh, I changed my mind. I'm not going to go outside after all."
[]Write-in.


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

Remember when I said your actions and choices in Day 0 would shape Kosuzu's personality for the rest of the story? Well, this is one such choice. Since this is just a prologue, you can be a little risque and try things you would otherwise be too wary to try out. Everybody starts being a novice, they say. There will not be big penalties in case you fail horribly, I promise.

>>181297
I was actually hoping someone would bring the Hieda up. You may go visit her and ask her yourself if you decide to go to that Plaza you're apparently trying to avoid by all means.
No. 181312
[X]{Challenge} "You say I can't defend myself. Allow me to prove you otherwise."

At the very least, we can get a few pointers after we get beaten up.
No. 181315
[x]"Okay, if you'll really let me pass, let's hear that request of yours..."

It's not that I'm trying to avoid the Plaza. It's just that when you say "there's a time limit," I personally go "time to motor!"
No. 181325
[X]{Go the the Plaza} "Eh, I changed my mind. I'm not going to go outside after all."

Let's go to her best friend/client's house then, knowledge is kind of key in this conflict. Dont fret, its not like we're spending all 5 hours there..
No. 181341
I see there's a tie here that needs to be broken. And I also happen to have an appointment today, so I won't be able to write. Given the circumstances, I'll wait another day for the tie to break and update tomorrow instead.

This technically means I'm breaking my promise to update daily, so you can call me names if you wish to now.
No. 181349
[x]"Okay, if you'll really let me pass, let's hear that request of yours..."
No. 181353
[X]{Challenge} "You say I can't defend myself. Allow me to prove you otherwise."

Let me just reestablish that tie for you...
No. 181359
>>181353

I don't even follow this story. I'm posting this purely to spite you.

[x]"Okay, if you'll really let me pass, let's hear that request of yours..."
No. 181360
[x]{Go the the Plaza} "Eh, I changed my mind. I'm not going to go outside after all."

Akyuu can probably get us authorization if we ask.
No. 181365
[x]{Show the Game Contract} "I need to see the Arbiter to deliver this paper. I believe this document counts as official authorization."

Shouldn't bother us with some favor-pushing.
No. 181369
[x]"Okay, if you'll really let me pass, let's hear that request of yours..."

"Super! I'm glad I can count on you!"

Orange smiles brightly when you give her the response she wanted to hear. For a brief moment, she reminds you of the little sister you've never had; adorable and annoying at the same time. She takes both of your hands and squeezes then in a bit too tight handshake for your liking. <<How can one small girl like her hide so much strength?.>>

"So what do you need so badly?" You ask, as you slither your achy hand out of her grip.

"Well, it's kind of a long story..."

Orange coughs to clear her throat, and you have to suppress the urge to groan. Like it or not, it looks like you're in for exposition time.

"I wasn't always a guard, you know?" The redhead begins. "It never was my dream to end up like this. I'm actually a traveling martial artist in training, wandering the earth to learn the secrets of kung fu, like many did before me. The tenets of my school oblige me to help the people I meet if they're in need... Even if it's only to fill a lack of personnel for an upcoming festival. That Kotohime weirdo said that every wall should be protected by a strong and reliable guardsman with knowledge on kung fu. I personally think she's just following the trend from the Scarlet Devil Mansion, but the matter is that she recognized my abilities and was in need of help, so--

"I feel sorry for you, Orange, really, but could you please get to the point already?" You interrupt her, impatient. "I told you I haven't got all day."

"Okay, okay, geez!" Orange pouts. "Since you're in such a hurry, I'll settle with anything warm you can find. I'm frozen to the bones and I need to get some heat in my system. Don't want to turn into one of those while standing guard, eh?" She points at one of her snowmen. "That'd be one hell of an undignified end for a legendary warrior on the rising."

"Just 'anything warm'? Did you really need to explain all that unnecessary spiel if you were only going to ask for that?"

"Well, if you didn't cut me off like that, you'd get it! Besides, I need to practice on my backstory, for when I become famous and strong. I will not be a Stage 1 Boss forever!"

You find it difficult to correlate the strength of a warrior to her backstory. After all, even the strongest of bosses of Gensokyo seldom go into lengthy expositions to explain their motives for causing the incident of the day, preferring to let their Spell Cards speak for them. That usually gets expanded in later side material -- you know that better than anyone, since Suzunaan is often the place where that kind of literature gets printed.

But now it's not the time to ponder such things. You'll need to give Orange something to warm her up if you want to cross the gates without getting yourself into trouble. That's the kind of quest that will waste your limited time and make your life even more difficult than it already is. But as your Mother said, "life is a negotiation. Everybody wants something, and sometimes you have to give to get what you want." Will you trade your valuable time to earn passage? Or would it be better to look for another way through?

Unless a better idea occurs to you, it seems you're stuck with completing this errand. You have a bad feeling it won't be the last one you'll be tasked in the next week. Or today, very probably.

[]Accept Orange's request.
--[]Give her something from your Inventory.
(>>/words/1011)
--[]Go to the Plaza to begin your search.
[]Refuse Orange's request.
--[]{Challenge} Start a danmaku duel for the right to cross the doors.
--[]{Lie} Deceive her into leaving the area, and sneak past the doors. (Write-in)
--[]{Pickpocket} Distract her somehow and steal the doors' key from her pocket, then exit when she's not looking. (Write-in)
--[]{Intimidate} Scare her until she "willingly" gives you the key. (Write-in)
--[]Write-in.


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

Very short update after two days. I wrote this under the effects of a hangover and sleep deprivation. My head hurts like hell and I can't think properly. My apologies.

>>181353
You're the worst kind of person. I hope you stab your toe in a corner.

>>181359
>I don't even follow this story. I'm posting this purely to spite you.
But you're not much better than him. I'd prefer it if you post because you find my story interesting, not only to counter trolls.
No. 181370
[x]Accept Orange's request.
--[x]Give her...You!
No. 181371
>>181370
That's brilliant!

[x]Accept Orange's request.
-[x]Give her a nice warm hug.

Hugs warm the body and the soul.
No. 181372
Nice try, but I suspect that's going to get vetoed because we'd need to stay here to keep her warm, which is a no-go for obvious reasons.

[x]Accept Orange's request.
--[x]Go to the Plaza to begin your search.
No. 181373
[x]Accept Orange's request.
--[x]Give her...You!

I shall also join the hug force.
No. 181378
[x]Accept Orange's request.
--[x]Give her...You!

I came here because I felt a disturbance in the hug force. As if millions of orphans cried out for hugs and were suddenly silenced
No. 181382
[x]Accept Orange's request.
--[x] Give her hugs!
--[x] Well, also your extra lo-mein. It probably won't keep warm all the way to the shrine, anyway.
No. 181388
[x]Accept Orange's request.
-[x]Give her a nice warm hug.

Okay, I just can't resist this. Besides, if Kosuzu and Orange were to join forces, few could withstand their adorableness.
No. 181389
[x]Accept Orange's request.
-[x]Give her a nice warm hug.


Something inside you clicks on, a sort of instinct you never knew you had in you. Used to being treated as a child by all your colleagues, you've never found yourself in the role of the mature, supportive person. And though you don't really know Orange's age--or species, for that matter--, you have an inexplicable urge to comfort her, to take care of her. It's the first time you've ever felt like this, and yet the answer is clear as day.

Poor little Orange, standing guard so diligently, as cold creeps up inside her clothes. Poor little Orange, who wants to travel the world to become the strongest martial artist. Poor little Orange, standing all alone in the snow, making snowmen to forget about her solitude. She only asks you for something to keep her hot, but the truth is that she needs another kind of warmth, even if she doesn't realize it.

So you do what big sisters usually do to console their younger sisters, and pull her in a bear hug, draping your arms around her back and squeezing her.

"Wa-wa-wa-wa-what are you doing!?" Orange exclaims, all flustered. "Let me go!"

"Shhhhhh, it's alright, let it all out..."

At first the redhead attempts to struggle free, though she doesn't seem to put much effort into it. You are fully aware that she could easily throw you away with a hold, so the fact that Orange's not putting much resistance means she does want to be hugged, past her initial embarrassment. You should probably feel abashed too, but the spirits of all big sisters in the world seem to have possessed you and impel you to keep hugging.

Soon enough, Orange stops squirming altogether, and puts her own arms around your waist, returning the affection.

"Yeah, that's good," you whisper. "Don't you worry, everything's going to be alright." <<But am I saying that to her, or to myself?>>

You quickly dispel those grim thoughts from your mind, and start thinking about sugar, spice and everything nice. You read somewhere that imagining fuzzy things helps you release good vibes from your body that pass on people around you, or something like that. You never gave much regard about this kind of mumbo jumbo, but hey, you might as well give it a try now that you can.

And it seems it works! Sorta. Orange buries her face in your shoulder and nuzzles her head against it, letting out a long, pleased hum. A blissful smile curves up in her lips, framed by a slight blush on her round cheeks. The aroma of her shampoo reaches your nostrils; it smells of... strawberries, to your surprise. You thought Orange would go for the obvious choice, but come to think of it, strawberries do fit her hair color better.

"You're warm, miss," the redhead says, snuggling you like a giant teddy bear.

Involuntarily, her grip becomes stronger, to the point it strains your spine and threatens to snap it in half. You tap Orange's shoulder, who is quick to understand and break the hug. Probably for the best; any longer and it would have been a bit awkward.

"Wah, I'm- I'm sorry! That was improper of me!" She exclaims.

"Don't sweat it. It was my idea to begin with," you respond. "More importantly, do you feel better now?"

"Uh... Yeah, I think so?" Orange brings her hand to her chest and closes her eyes. "I feel... how do I explain it? It's as if there's a little fire in my heart that keeps me warm, like a bonfire..."

"Then it worked as intended," you smile. "Now, I'd love to keep you company, Orange, but I really need to get going, you know."

"Oh. Oh! Right, let me open the doors for you."

The guard runs to the gates, still flushing like a tomato, and fumbles with the key, almost dropping it in the snow. Only her cat-like reflexes avert the clumsy fall, as she catches it in the air and quickly inserts it into the giant keyhole. Two turns of key and a push later, the Village doors are finally open for you. The path through the forest of willows awaits.

"Be careful out there," Orange warns you with a straight face. "The other youkai living in the wild are much less civilized, and I don't believe they will settle with just a hug."

"I'll keep that in mind." Actually, you already knew that, since you've made that trip several times before, but you don't want to ruin her serious moment. "Thanks for letting me through."

"It is I who should be thanking you. You've given me a precious gift that I will hold dear while it lasts," the redhead brings her fist to her palm and bows, in an educated gesture from her kung fu school, most probably. "By the way, I didn't catch your name..."

You turn around and give her your best sincere grin. "My name's Kosuzu Motoori, but my friends call me Little Bell."

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

Your progress so far
•You've eaten your Mother's special dish, and asked for a second serving to take away.
•You've received a pep talk from Mother.
•You've taken your life savings from your hidden stash.
•You've bumped into a strange girl, and picked up the strange umbrella she dropped.
•You were blocked by Orange, the gate guard. You hugged it out with her, and she let you pass, moved by your kindness. She probably became smitten with you because of that.

Time spent: 1h15m aprox.
Time remaining: 4h45m aprox.

You missed out a lot of stuff and people by not going to the Plaza, but on the other hand you have a lot of time left to tackle your next obstacles in the next updates. If you keep this rhythm, you may even have free hours left to spend at the Hakurei Shrine once you get there.

And that's it for Part 1 of Day 0. Tomorrow will begin the adventures of Kosuzu in the Canal of Willows, where she will meet weird and potentially dangerous people on her way to the Hakurei Shrine. Stay tuned.
No. 181391
>You missed out a lot of stuff

I hate when CYoA authors do this. Liked the rest of the update though.
No. 181401
C-cute.
No. 181411
>>181391
Seriously. If you're going to give us a time limit and meaningful choices don't taunt us about making them.
No. 181419
You quickly, deftly, merrily, decidedly make your way through the Canal of Willows without a hitch, which comes as a mild surprise. Exhausted from maintaining a continuous fast pace and from carrying all those adverbs around, you take a deep breath, lean back against a nearby pole, and rest for a minute. You look up to the sky to see where the sun is; although the willow trees cover up the sky, the light from the star shines brightly through the leaves and branches, melting the snow and ice.

"I must've been walking for an hour without stop," you mutter between pants, "but the sun is still up, and I think I'm halfway to the Shrine... At this pace I might even be back home for dinner!"

Still, there is something that bothers you, and it's the fact that you're taking less time than normal to cross through the Canal. The path was treacherous due to the morasses and patches of ice from the still thawing snow, in addition to the always present roots growing in the middle of the road -- but that was the least of your worries when you decided to make the trip. The Canal of Willows is usually swarmed by fairies playing pranks on the unwary traveler, which prove to be a big nuisance and a waste of time, and you were expecting to run into a couple of flocks.

But not today. The forest is completely silent, worryingly so. You didn't hear a single shout or laugh, a single spell being casted, a single flutter of wings, or a single rustle of leaves on your way here. There was not a single fairy, youkai or animal critter on sight; the forest was devoid of life, and not even the wind dared to blow. The only sound that broke the silence were your steps on the snow or mud, echoing in the green and white stillness.

In its place, the scenery was unusually bleak and battered. Scorched marks appeared everywhere on the ground and the trees, and some of the willows had fallen or were about to due to intensive damage. Someone out there had used strong magic extensively, and it appeared to have cleared out the path for you of potential enemies. It does not relieve you in the slightest, if that was their intention -- rather, it achieves the opposite effect on you. If you do have a sort of guardian angel watching over you, his/her/its methods are very... extreme, to say the least.

"Is this what the aftermath of one of Reimu's runs looks like, whenever she goes to solve an incident?" You ponder aloud. "I almost feel sorry for those fairies that suicidally charge at her. They probably deserve it, though."

When you stand back up, you see that the pole you were leaning on is actually a signpost, and the sign on top of it is some kind of cautionary notification painted in striking yellow. There is a crudely drawn map, and you can see a star that says "You Are Here (But Where's Your HEAD, Man?)," and near it two different lines that are supposed to symbolize the bifurcation you're facing right now. A message is written just below the picture, which reads:

<<The path to the Hakurei Shrine is currently undergoing reparations for the upcoming Spring Festival. Travelers are FORBIDDEN to go right for their security, as the building site is dangerous without proper protection. Travelers are encouraged to take the left road and circle around the mound to reach the Hakurei Shrine, until the works are over.>>

"Aw man, I have to do a detour?" You groan in exasperation.

It's not that you're worried about being late --you still have about 4 hours of sunlight, you reckon--, but you've never taken the left road, seeing as the right one is more direct and comfortable to walk. You have no idea how well paved (or not) is the left track, or what kind of dangers should you expect on the way. Call it force of habit if you will, but in the situation you're in, you'd rather take the road you're more used to, instead of going through an unexplored path.

On the other hand, this caution sign must be there for a reason. Fairies are not intelligent enough to pull off a prank like putting false signs, so you should assume there actually is a construction site ahead of the right path. And where there is a site, there usually is someone working there who will undoubtedly order you to turn back and take the other path. Again, you have time to spare, but having to undo all your steps is really annoying and tiresome nevertheless. You'd like to avoid that if you can help it.

[]Take the right road. That's a sign, not a cop. It can't tell you what to do.
[]Take the left road. It'll be a long and treacherous path, but a safe one. In theory.
[]Cut through the forest. You're feeling a bit adventurous today, and it's definitely the shortest way.


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

>>181391
>>181411
It wasn't my intention to "taunt" you. I only tried to take note of what you did and what you did not as a sort of summary, but upon rereading it again I see where are you coming from. I apologize if I made you feel deceived or scoffed at, and I promise to choose my words more carefully next time.

If it matters something, the stuff you missed isn't really that important, so don't worry too much about it. The people you didn't meet, you will very probably meet them at later points in the story. The backstory exposition you didn't receive will certainly be explained by other people at other times as well. And the items you missed weren't critical in any way, and you can perfectly solve puzzles and battles without them.
No. 181421
[x] Cut through the forest. You're feeling a bit adventurous today, and it's definitely the shortest way.

Plenty of time, might as well do something dumb.
No. 181422
[x]Take the left road. It'll be a long and treacherous path, but a safe one. In theory.

Stupid detours, telling people what to do, making travel times unnecessarily long...
No. 181425
[X]Take the left road. It'll be a long and treacherous path, but a safe one. In theory.

Yeah I don't want to get conked on the head by falling building materials.
No. 181429
[X]Take the right road. That's a sign, not a cop. It can't tell you what to do.
No. 181440
[X]Cut through the forest. You're feeling a bit adventurous today, and it's definitely the shortest way.

We'll be fine. What's the worst that could happen?
No. 181441
>>181440
Dang it, and I was just about to start writing.

So, I need a tiebreaker pronto, or else I'll have to postpone the update for tomorrow.

I'll make sure to call the votes from now on.
No. 181442
[X]Cut through the forest. You're feeling a bit adventurous today, and it's definitely the shortest way.
I haven't read the update but here you go.
No. 181459
[X]Cut through the forest. You're feeling a bit adventurous today, and it's definitely the shortest way.

Setting aside your common sense--which is a common practice in Gensokyo, paradoxically--and everything your parents taught you about safety outside the Human Village, you take neither path and go traverse the brushwood. You rationalize your urge to explore the forest by telling yourself that, since you haven't seen any fairy or youkai so far, it's very improbable that you'll stumble upon one now. Regardless, there's no doubt that what you're about to do is madness, but well, it was your own folly what put you in this situation to begin with. What harm could it do to you at this point?

And so off you go, wandering through the bushes and under the trees' shade, where tall grass covers the dirt and snow covers the grass like a cold mattress. You try your best to stick to the same line, but the unequal terrain and the vast vegetation hinder your progress, and you often have to change directions to circle a fallen tree, an insurmountable slope or hidden quagmires that smear your boots and socks.

Soon enough, after passing through hundreds of seemingly repeating trees, you lose your sense of orientation and become hopelessly lost. You think about how this wouldn't be a problem if you knew how to fly -- or being more realistic, if you remembered to bring a compass with you. But it's no use lamenting your carelessness now, you tell yourself. For now, you do what you should've done before, and recall what your parents told you to do whenever you became lost in a forest.

"Okay, first, stay calm," you recite from memory. Should be easy. You just mustn't think about the myriad of youkai that could be lurking in the shadows, waiting for you to drop your guard to pounce on you and-- "... Goddammit."

"Second, do not walk aimlessly. Start retracing your steps." And lose all your progress and valuable time? Like hell you are!

"If unable to do so, stay put until the searchers find you." What searchers? Who would be looking for you at this time? They would only send scouts once night falls, and by then it'll be already too late.

"As a last resort, follow a stream downhill or downstream..."

Yeah, that sounds sensible enough. Finally, some advice you can follow in this situation! Because there is a river around this area, right? Why would it be called the Canal of Willows if there wasn't? Unless the forest is actually a Genius Loci, and it has a digestive tract of its own, and the name alludes to that. That sounds even more horrible than getting mauled by feral youkai. Stop thinking about that, dammit!

So you resume your pseudo-aimless walk, hoping to stumble upon the river of the Hakurei Shrine, whichever comes first. A couple of minutes later (or so it feels to you), it turns out it's neither. You find yourself in a small clearing, where a blue-haired girl in a blue-and-white dress is playing with her red-and-blue ball, throwing it to the air and picking it up when it falls with a 'thud' to the snow. Unaware of your presence, she keeps on throwing her ball up again and again, without all the care in the world. She doesn't seem to realize she's in a forest full of youkai, or simply doesn't care. More importantly, perhaps she knows the way to the Hakurei Shrine.

"Excuse me," you say, coming out of the bushes. "I appear to be lost and I was wondering if you could-- Oh."

When you take a better look at the girl and the scenery, you realize your previous assumptions were all completely wrong. Namely:

First, the girl is, in fact, not a normal girl. Judging by her unusual heterochromia--her left eye is the same turquoise blue as her hair; the right one is ruby red--, and considering the place you're in, all signs point to her actually being a youkai.

Second, the game she's playing with her ball is, in fact, not a game. You follow the flying ball with your eyes, and find out there's a weird looking umbrella stuck at the top of the tree. The umbrella is a darker shade of purple than your own, but unlike yours, it also has a big red eye and a long gooey tongue. <<A karakasa obake, perhaps?>> If so, that would confirm your earlier suspicions about this girl. Apparently the karakasa girl is trying to knock the umbrella over by throwing the ball at it, but she's too weak to even reach the branch above her. A pitiable spectacle, specially for a youkai.

Third, the ball is, in fact, not a ball at all. Something felt off about it, and when you squint your eyes, you discover with horror that it's actually a disembodied human head, which belonged to a girl with short red head tied in a huge blue tie. Her eyes stare at the distance, unfocused, devoid of life. Which should be natural for a severed head, but right now you're in no condition to think clearly about it.

And last, but not least, your salutation has made the karakasa youkai un-unaware of your presence, and is now looking at you in shock -- probably mirroring your own expression, you imagine. However, she recovers quickly from the surprise, and quickly runs towards you, with relief(?) painted on her face.

"Nice, an human! I'm in a hurry, I have to join my companions before the battle begins, but I got stuck at the tree, see? So I can't go with them until I get myself down but I can't reach it with this bag of flesh and I need your help please!"

[]Do nothing. Stare at the girl confused. Wonder what's for dinner. Probably you.
[]Register what's happening, realize a youkai with a severed head is speaking to you and...
--[]Inarticulately scream.
--[]Preemptively strike.
--[]Bravely run away.
--[]Dramatically faint.
[]Write-in.


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

>>181442
Thanks, I guess...?
No. 181463
[x] Do nothing. Stare at the girl confused. Wonder what's for dinner. Probably you.
- [x] "Why don't you just fly up to it?"
No. 181464
[x] Do nothing. Stare at the girl confused. Wonder what's for dinner. Probably you.

Considering the area isn't painted with blood, it's probably a spare Sekibanki head.
No. 181465
[x] Do nothing. Stare at the girl confused. Wonder what's for dinner. Probably you.
- [x] "Why don't you just fly up to it?"

So much confusion.
No. 181484
[x] Hug her. Tell her it will all be okay.
No. 181485
x] Hug her. Tell <s>yourself</s> her it will all be okay.
No. 181486
[X] Of course I'll help you. That's the entire reason I came here. My umbrella spoke to me of a beautiful lady umbrella in dire need of assistance. With our umbrellas united, there is no challenge we cannot overcome.
No. 181499
Gonna call it for >>181463's vote. I would've liked that last write-in to win for its originality and the leeway it gives me to play around, but alas, the majority spoke.

>>181484
>>181485
If your mother (or other appropriate parental figure) asked you to get a peanut butter pot that's in the uppermost shelf, would you hug her tightly and tell her soothing words instead? I'm sure she'd appreciate the show of affection, but that wouldn't change the fact that the pot is still up there, out of her reach.
No. 181502
[x]Do nothing. Stare at the girl confused. Wonder what's for dinner. Probably you.
-[x]"Why don't you just fly up to it?"


The blue-haired youkai keeps rambling and rambling hastily and breathlessly, but you aren't listening to her. You are devoting your whole attention to making sense on the scene before your eyes, and what does it entail for your well-being... and it's a task more difficult than you thought. There is a youkai in front of you holding another girl's head, and you know youkai are known for eating humans. That much is clear. You mean, it's in their nature, right? It shouldn't come as a surprise to you, who has studied about them in your Demon Books. It's the most normal thing in Gensokyo.

But this girl, this karakasa youkai right here, does not seem to want to eat you. Actually, she's asking you for help. A human. Who are the natural prey for youkai. What's the deal with this? Does she want to use you before devouring you, like humans do with cows and oxes? Perhaps she's already had her fill. After all, she's holding a head; maybe she's eaten the rest of the body and wants to have the head as a trophy or something. Why would she speak to you, then? Is she really that desperate that she has to resort to asking the first person that comes by? Now that you think about it, the forest is unusually desolate of people...

Wait, what was her problem again?

"You said you were stuck at the tree?" You raise your hand to interrupt the girl, who somehow was still blabbering on and on and on.

"Eh? Well, yeah, right there, see?" She points at the tree where her umbrella is.

"And why don't you just, you know, fly?"

"Oh, but I can't!"

"How's that? I thought all youkai know how to fly."

"And I do, but I'm stuck, dummy! You even said so just now," the karakasa sticks out her tongue, mocking your apparent mental slowness. "I got my foot stuck in the branch and I can't move, that's why I'm in trouble!"

You were about to call her out on her stubbornness and faulty logic, but then it dawns on you: this youkai thinks of herself as the umbrella, not as the girl. It all makes sense now! Okay, not really; it's impossible to know the inner machinations of a youkai's mind, but you feel you understand where she's coming from a little bit better.

"No, no, no, you misunderstood me," you shake your head. "I meant the girl I'm speaking to now. The fleshy body."

"Oh! But this 'fleshy body' can't fly," the karakasa explains. "It's my real form the one that does the flying and floating around. The flesh only serves to carry myself around and spoo- I mean, speak to other people."

"Ah."

There went your fool-proof plan. You have a feeling she's kidding with you about the 'not able to fly with this body' thing--you know for a fact Reimu and a couple of other humans can perfectly fly on their own--, but you can't do much about it when she acts so close-minded. Arguing with a youkai is usually pointless, what with them having a completely different train of thought from humans.

That said, the girl is still looking at you expectantly, as if you were a divine envoy from the heavens (<<Are youkai pious, anyway?>>) that answered her prayer and expressly came to her help. You feel that you should do your best to lend her a hand, and you do have enough time to spare in picking an umbrella from a tree -- the question is how, because the tree is too high for both of you to reach. More importantly, is it a good idea to involve yourself with youkai, even if they look as inoffensive as this poor girl? For all you know it might be a trap to lure you in...

[]Agree to help the karakasa obake.
--[]The best way to recover an umbrella is with another umbrella!
--[]Perhaps you'll have better luck at tossing the head up?
--[]Write-in.
[]This is not your problem. Leave her and be on your way.
[]Before doing anything, you have a few questions for her.
--[]She didn't tell you her name. She must have one, right?
--[]What's with that head she's carrying around?
--[]She mentioned something about her 'companions' and a 'battle'.
--[]Ask her for directions to the Hakurei Shrine.
--[]Write-in.

No. 181504
[X]Agree to help the karakasa obake.
--[X]The best way to recover an umbrella is with another umbrella!

If it's suck in a tree, I don't think throwing Sekibanki's head will be enough to dislodge it. You need your own stick to dig in to dislodge and what better than your own umbrella?
No. 181506
[x]Agree to help the karakasa obake.
--[x]The best way to recover an umbrella is with another umbrella!

Like... get up on her shoulders? Throw it like a javelin? I need to think about this one.
No. 181507
You guys realize whose umbrella that is, right? Don't go losing it now.
No. 181509
[x]Agree to help the karakasa obake.
--[x]The best way to recover an umbrella is with another umbrella!
No. 181512
[X]Agree to help the karakasa obake.
--[X]The best way to recover an umbrella is with another umbrella!
No. 181513
[X]Before doing anything, you have a few questions for her.
--[X]What's with that head she's carrying around?

If the answer doesn't involve dismembering cute little girls, then

[X] Agree to help.
No. 181528
[x]Agree to help the karakasa obake.
--[x]The best way to recover an umbrella is with another umbrella!


Driven by a sudden burst of inspiration, you take a few steps towards the tree and confidently draw your (well, that odd girl's) umbrella.

"Watch this, uh... What was your name?"

"Tatara. Kogasa Tatara."

"Okay, Kogasa Tatara, I'll show you how it's done!"

The karakasa obake is stuck approximately three meters high between the branches of a willow tree, about ten meters from where you stand. Truth be told, you've never tried to do this for real before, but your target is big and close. It ought to be an easy hit, but you'll have to strike it with force, or else the umbrella won't be dislodged from the branches. Thankfully, your tool is heavy enough for the job; it's only a matter of giving it enough momentum.

You close your eyes and grip your umbrella like a javelin, ready to throw, concentrating until your consciousness has extended to the very tip of your umbrella. You can actually feel the distance between you and the target, the air currents that would influence the umbrella's flight, even the slight differences in barometric pressure for which you'll have to adjust. Seeing the trajectory of your projectile in your mind, you confidently fling the umbrella, fast and true.

Since you were concentrating so hard on the force of your throw, though, you forgot to let go of the umbrella. It makes a swift arc through the air, still clenched in your fist, and the tip pricks your upper thigh. Kogasa tilts her head, oblivious to your howl of pain, tilts her head.

"Oh, is this what you humans call 'slapstick'?" She asks, amused by your antics. "I never knew it's meant to be taken literally, but I don't think that's going to help much."

"S-shut up, you!" You stutter while you rub the sore spot. That's going to leave a nasty bruise.

Trying to not let it get to you, you stand up with renewed resolve. This time you decide to dispense with the fancy throwing and resort to the another tried-and-tested method. You grip the umbrella like you would a regular stick, raise your arm above your shoulder and toss. The purple umbrella flies away, twirls in the air a couple of times and hits Kogasa's tsukumogami half... but not with enough force, unfortunately. The tongued umbrella is shaken by the impact, but it remains stuck right where it was, while the frilly umbrella bounces off and, by whims of a mischievous fate, niftily hooks itself on another branch by the grip.

"... Ah."

You lose your Strangely familiar umbrella

"Whoopsie!" Chuckles Kogasa, sticking out her tongue. "Guess we're now umbrella-less partners in failu-- hey, are you crying!?"

Before you know it, you have fallen to your knees and started to sob and hiccup. <<Why?--you think--Why is everything going wrong now? Why are the gods forsaking me in my moment of need? What did I do to deserve this?>> It must be all the tension you've accumulated these past days, you understand, and it must have taken its toll on you. Still...

Kogasa hesitatingly approaches you and lifts a wandering hand, but unsure of what to do with a crying human girl, she lets it fall to her side. Normally the karakasa girl would be delighted to witness such a reaction, but your tears of heartrending sorrow are probably not the kind of feeling she tries so hard to elicit. Then you realize you're showing weakness in front of a youkai--who is holding a severed head--, which is the one thing you cannot do, even if Kogasa doesn't seem intent on doing you harm. For the moment.

So you quickly wipe off your tears and stand up again. "It's-- it's nothing, I'm okay," you tell Kogasa, as convincingly as you can. "This is... Only a temporary setback! Yeah, not a problem at all."

"If you say so," she shrugs. "But our umbrellas are still up there."

"I know..."

You walk up to the tree and jump as high as you can, but you are a few inches too short to reach the tip of your umbrella with your fingers -- and you're not even near Kogasa's. If only you ate your vegetables when you still were in your growth spurt...

"Well, I'm out of ideas," sighs Kogasa. "Perhaps I should return this to its owner, or else she'll get really mad at me."

"Return what?" You turn around, and see the red-haired head the youkai is holding. You suppress the urge to vomit Mom's noodles on the snow, and try to maintain a straight face. "Oh, that? I don't think a corpse will mind you stealing its head."

"I didn't steal it, I only borrowed it!"

"You borrowed it, or borrowed it?" You ask, recalling a certain black-and-white magician with .

"Eh?" The karakasa tilts her head, confused. "But you just said the same thing twice."

"No, there's a different meaning because of the inflection I put in my voice, indicated by the ital-- ah, never mind."

You don't really feel like explaining the intricacies of double meanings to a youkai, especially when you should be trying to get your umbrellas back -- or better yet, making your way to the Hakurei Shrine. Kogasa seems to catch the indirect and drops the matter, acting as if she lost interest in your impromptu semantics class.

"Besides, I didn't get this head from a corpse," she adds. "It belongs to the rokurokubi girl that guards the old bridge."

"The rokurokubi?" <<Youkai with the power to stretch their necks to great lengths.>> "Don't you mean 'nukebuki'?"

"Umm... Probably? I often confuse them," Kogasa sticks her tongue again and winks. At this point, you have a feeling it's her personal tic. "She called herself the Dullahan of the Willows, if I remember right. And she's really, really scary, I tell you what. I even asked for permission before I took her head, you know? But she got angry anyway!"

"Most people would be. A head's not the kind of thing you'd borrow to a random passer-by. Or anyone."

"But she had a lot to spare! What matters if she loses one? She's got, like, four or five more!" She huffs, indignant.

"I wouldn't know. I only got one, and I hold it in high regard," you shrug. "But yes, I think it'd be rude not to give it back once you're done."

Kogasa nods absentmindedly and looks up to her umbrella. Truth be told, all this talk about object halfs and separated body parts felt totally alien to you, who has spent all her life with all her limbs attached -- and you hope it'll stay that way until the end. Just as Kogasa can't understand human euphemisms, you don't really get the youkai view on rental and loan of floating heads. Simply speaking, it's a concept that never crossed your head, pun not intended. Okay, it probably was.

But all of that is irrelevant. The important thing now is that you're still at square one, minus one umbrella. Your frilly purple umbrella dangles from the branch just a few centimeters out of your jumping reach, almost mockingly so. Kogasa's karakasa is even higher, a meter above yours. You briefly consider the idea of getting help, but whose? Or maybe there's still something Kogasa and you can still do...

[]You two can't do this on your own. Better search for help.
--[]You might regret it later, but maybe you could ask that Dullahan of the Willows?
--[]Kogasa mentioned earlier she had to 'join her companions'. Where are they?
[]Don't give up so easily! You have to think of a way to reach the branches... (Write-in)
[]You feel sorry for Kogasa, but you can't spend any more time in this. Be on you way.


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

I couldn't update yesterday because PARTY HARD of reasons. I brought dishonor on my trip and my site. I'll go commit sudoku in the near future.
No. 181529
[x] Don't give up so easily! You have to think of a way to reach the branches... (Write-in).
-- [x] Just climb the damn tree, Kogasa. I'll help you up into it, throw the umbrellas down to me.
No. 181531
[x] Get on Kogasa'a shoulders.

Okay. It's just a few inches above Kosuzu, which means that if Kogasa gives her a boost or something, Kosuzu should be able to reach out and grab her own umbrella. And with Kogasa's umbrella just a meter beyond that, it should be close enough for Kosuzu to knock out of the tree with her own umbrella. I'm certain that, as a youkai, Kogasa has enough strength to hold Kosuzu steady.
No. 181533
>>181531
Given that Kogasa was too weak to throw the Sekibanki head, maybe it should go the other way around?

Also, come on, upskirt shot. You know you want it......

(Yes I'm shamelessly plugging my own vote)
No. 181535
[x]You two can't do this on your own. Better search for help.
--[x]Kogasa mentioned earlier she had to 'join her companions'. Where are they?
No. 181536
[x] Don't give up so easily! You have to think of a way to reach the branches... (Write-in).
[x] Get on Kogasa'a shoulders.

She's a youkai. I would expect her to be able to bear Kosuzu's weight more easily due to being stronger.
No. 181539
[x] Get on Kogasa'a shoulders.
No. 181540
[X] Take off your scarf and shimmy up the tree Mulan style.

I'll make a man out of you yet, you adorable librarian.
No. 181547
Calling it for asking Kogasa to boost Kosuzu up the tree. Sorry, >>181533, but today it is not the day where you will get your no-panty shot.

>>181540
That would have been an amusing scene to write, but sadly Kosuzu lacks both an instrument and the musical talent necessary to cram up three months of intense physical training into a three-minutes-long training montage song.
No. 181620
[x]Get on Kogasa's shoulders.

"Kogasa, get on your knees," you say.

"Huh!? Did I do something bad?" Exclaims the youkai, startled. "This is not about the whole head thing, right? Are you going to punish me?"

"Gods, no, why would I do that!? I'm not the one whose head you stole in the first place."

"I did not steal it! I said 'please' before I took it!"

"It still counts as larceny, no matter how polite you are about it."

Kogasa tilts her head in confusion. "Larceny?" She parrots.

"Theft of personal property."

"I see..." The youkai nods absentmindedly again, clearly not paying much mind. "You humans and your weird vocabulary. What's the point of using words nobody else knows or can say comfortably? I just don't understand that."

<<Oh boy, here we go again,>> you sigh internally. She's behaving just like those troublesome kids you read stories to in the afternoons. They often interrupt your lectures with stupid questions and annoy their more attentive fellows, and they'd easily know the answers if they just paid a bit of attention. You suppose their parents force them to come to Suzunaan in hopes that, with your stories, they might catch up with the lessons they skip at the school.

But as you know all too well, it's really difficult to teach the unwilling to learn. Among the most common complaints are the complicated words that often pop up in "advanced" literature. You oblige every time they ask what this and that words mean for the umpteenth occasion, but sometimes it feels like you're teaching the walls instead of people. And that gets you on your nerves badly.

"They say a man with a scant vocabulary will almost certainly be a weak thinker," you quote, not without a tinkle of animosity.

"But I'm not a man. I'm a karakasa obake!" Kogasa exclaims with a smug grin. "I can perfectly handle myself with the words I already know!"

"Pffft, yeah, that's why you're asking a human for help, because you can totally do by yourself."

The youkai's smile quickly turns into a grimace, hurt by your condescending words. You are filled with that blissful feeling of superiority that you always have when your verbal opponent gets told... but that also vanishes just as fast when you see Kogasa staring at her feet with a dreary expression. Perhaps you've been a bit too harsh on her, but still, that was a really low blow! You and your damn tongue... How could you, Kosuzu?

"Kogasa, I-- I'm sorry, I didn't mean to snap at you like that..." You pat her shoulder reassuringly, but she isn't fazed in the slightest by it. "Look, I know how are we going to get our umbrellas back. And this time it's going to work for sure."

Kogasa's head turns to you like a whiplash at the mere mention of it. "Really!?" She gasps.

when you nod, her lips turn from a sad frown to a radiant smile, in what has to be the fastest mood-swing ever. Not even you, with your "teenage phases" as your mother calls them, have ever experienced such an extreme emotional roller coaster in your (comparatively short) life. Speaking of life, how old is Kogasa, exactly? <<She's a tsukumogami, a spirit that has possessed an object abandoned for a hundred years, so...>> A century old, minimum. And yet she behaves like a kid of ten, which goes to show how weird the youkai psychology is compared to humans. Alas, you're not here to ponder about the intricacies of the mentality of an embodiment of a possessed umbrella.

"Yes, really," you nod. "Now come give me a boost. We don't have all day." Well, at least you don't.

Kogasa dutifully follows your instructions and lends you a shoulder--in both senses--for you to step on. It takes you a minute to steel your confidence in your balance, another to trust in Kogasa's strength, and a third to actually put a foot up already. When you finally manage to stand on the youkai's shoulder, you find that, despite her frail appearance, Kogasa is more than capable of sustaining your weight. Your balance, however, is not on par; your body dangerously tips forward while you secure your unstable footing, and the human-youkai tower almost falls over twice before it gets in position.

After that, picking your umbrella from the branch is a trivial matter.

You (re)acquire an item: Strangely familiar umbrella

Reaching Kogasa's, however, is not, as it's stuck a good distance away from where you stand. But you, in an incredible stroke of genius, had already planned ahead for this eventuality. It's really simple, really, but most genius ideas shine for their simplicity. You see, the trick is--don't get lost now--the trick is to use the umbrella you just picked to snatch the other one! It's simply brilliant! Heh heh, 'simple'. That's a good one.

"So, are you going to do it now or next week?" Kogasa interrupts your thoughts. "My shoulders are getting numb. I'm usually the one who is picked up, not the other way around, you know."

"Uh, right, sorry."

You deftly twirl your frilly umbrella on your hand and reach out for the dark purple, tongue-lashing umbrella. Your umbrella's grip hooks on the karakasa's shaft, and--

"Eek!"

Kogasa shivers beneath your feet, prey of a sudden fit of tremors. You almost lean backwards completely because of that, and you have to grab the branch with your free hand to avoid falling over.

"This is the worst time to get a cold now, Kogasa! Get a grip!" You shout at her.

"M-mind yours too!" She responds, embarrassed.

You see her puffing laboriously, her breaths coming out of her mouth in small clouds of mist, and her cheeks are red as a tomato. What's wrong with her? That's just the effects of physical exertion, you tell yourself, and not because of weird tsukumogami anatomy... You hope. Better get her umbrella pronto, in any case. With a grunt and a sharp tug, you manage to knock the tongued karakasa out of the branches.

"Ahn~~!"

Kogasa's moan reaches your ears just as the youkai's knees give up completely. Unable to maintaining your balance, you topple over and fall down spectacularly. Luckily for you, the snow softened the crash; otherwise you could have broken a rib or two. At least you got both of your umbrellas back, which is good.

"Goddammit, Kogasa, are you trying to kill me or what?" You grumble, as you stand up and dust the snow off your coat. "Okay, well, I suppose that's the normal thing to do for a youkai, but--"

As you notice, the karakasa isn't listening to you. She's absorbed in her own world, clutching her umbrella half in a tight hug. It would be a heartwarming scene if it wasn't because her face has turned completely red and her eyes are all glazed over. Your theory about her catching a cold is losing its base almost as fast as you did.

"I apologize if I... uh, touched somewhere... inappropriate for a karakasa," you say. "It was the only way given the situation, so, um, yeah."

Her response comes as a whisper: "S'alright..."

She also mutters something unintelligible, but you think you hear the words 'rough', 'handle' and 'like'. You decide to ignore it in order to protect your innocent mind from-- Bah, who are you kidding? Of course you know all there is to know about the bees and the birds, and their more "advanced ministrations". In fact, you take pride in having a small section dedicated to erotica at Suzunaan, and you know the contents of those books in great detail. Same goes for your whole library, really -- you couldn't consider yourself a decent librarian if you don't know what you're putting in store. It's not like you spent a lot of time reading that kind of books, definitely not more than a girl your age should. Honest.

A-anyway, Kogasa still has that silly smirk on her face, caressing the cane of her other half like in a trance, and sometimes giving you a quick side glance with those dichromatic eyes. You can't tell if she's looking at you like a love-struck girl in front of her crush, or a fearsome predator behind her prey. It's equally off-putting and worrisome.

"W-would you knock that off?" You stutter. "You're giving me the creepies."

"Ehehehehehe..." Oh great, now she's doing the creepy giggle too. "It's been too long since a human cared for me so much..."

"Huh?"

"Always unwanted, always useless. Always forgotten at the corner. Always thrown at the trash. Always looking for someone who accepted me. Always rejected," the karakasa slowly stands up, covering her gaze with her other half. The purple umbrella's eye stares at you with lusty intensity, and the tongue almost looks like it's licking its lips, if it had lips. "Tell me, why did you stop to help a hideous, good-for-nothing umbrella?"

"Why?" You repeat, feeling more scared by the second. "D-do I need a reason to help someone?"

Kogasa chuckles at your evasive response, this time with a much eviler undertone to it. "Ahhh, you don't see that kind of unselfish love around here often. Much less from a human. Or perhaps it comes from naivete? You, bell girl, you are a keeper, oh yes."

Uh oh. Looks like the karakasa obake you thought inoffensive and illiterate is, in fact, much better versed in difficult vocabulary than she let on from the beginning. You have been thoroughly tricked, and you're about to forcefully become the toy of a slightly obsessive tsukumogami! Well, most tsukumogami are obsessive by definition, but still, you certainly weren't expecting the sweet and air-headed girl to go full-on possessive girlfriend mode in the blink of an eye.

You are now reminded of the many warnings you've received from your parents, your teachers and your books: "Some youkai will pretend to be in a helpless situation to lure the unwary, and when they less suspect it, they go for the kill." Why do these useful tidbits of advice come to mind only when it's too late? In any way, that particular maxim has become outdated; youkai are no longer allowed to kill the humans they attack, thanks to the Spell Card Rules, so at the very least you don't have to fear for your life...

Oh wait, you don't know how to fight with danmaku yet. Which means the Rules do not apply to you. Crap. You tightly grip your umbrella and grit your teeth even tighter, prepared to fight your enemy...


You're fighting Kogasa Tatara, the Troubled Forgotten Item!

Surprisingly (or unsurprisingly as the case may very well be) many objects which one would normally think inanimate are not merely animate within Gensokyo. Constructed by some person, then animated by some bored or spiteful spirit (traits that most times go hand in hand), tsukumogami are fully capable of kicking the arses of many an unsuspecting traveler. Like you at this very moment.

The karakasa obake are umbrellas that are typically portrayed with one eye, a long tongue protruding from an open mouth, and a single foot, generally wearing a geta. Going by this description, Kogasa fits squarely into this category of tsukumogami, except for the additional human-like girl half, which seems to be the norm around these lands. Then again, youkai are able to change their looks to a certain extent, so it's probable that she has modified her appearance based on what a karakasa obake should look like according to folklore. Like many people and other youkai in Gensokyo, tsukumogami can also be slaves to the trend, and Kogasa is not an exception.


You briefly wonder about this excerpt of trivia that suddenly popped in your mind. Trivia won't do much to help you deal with your enemy, no matter how related it is. It's right there in the dictionary, first definition: "unimportant facts or details". Why do you keep thinking about useless stuff when there are clearly more dire matters that need your attention, then?

"Don't leave me alooooooone, bell girl..."

Oh, right, the battle. Kogasa slowly strides towards you with a threatening aura, smiling and giggling like a maniac. Her umbrella half eyes you with a killing intent, and its tongue stretches, shrinks and rolls like a living whip about to lash out.

What will you do now, oh scaredy-Little Bell?

[]Attack with:
--[]Unarmed strikes.
--[]Strangely Familiar Umbrella.
[]Defend.
[]Evade.
[]Cast Spell:
[]Jiggle:
--[]Strangely Familiar Umbrella. (?)
[]Use item:
--[]Mom's Spicy Hot Lo Mein
[]Run away.
[]Surrender.
[]Write-in.


Inventory: >>/words/1011

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

I owe you yet another apology, but this time there is a good reason for my schedule slip. To make it short, I was sick, which made me feel dead tired. I tried to write the daily update as always, but had no strength left to even look at the monitor, so I left it unfinished. When I got better, I saw that what I wrote was utter shit (never write with a high fever, kids), so I erased it and rewrote it from scratch. Since I was already lagging behind the schedule, I thought "hell, why not, let's make it longer to compensate", but I ended up taking even more time.

Anyway, onto the important matters. You are now in battle against an enemy, and the tallying of votes works a bit differently than normal. Don't worry, I'm sure you will figure it out in no time. Because Kosuzu isn't knowledgeable in the formalities of danmaku yet, your basic options are limited at the moment (more actions will be unlocked once Reimu teaches you how to fight). You still are permitted--and encouraged--to come up with tactics or unorthodox actions on your own with the Write-in option.

Be advised, though, that the enemies won't be standing still while you work out your magnificent plan, so you might wish to account for counter-attacks or interruptions. As they say, no plan ever survives enemy contact. If you keep it simple, the chances of failure or backfire might be significantly reduced. And as a final piece of advice: you can guess what your opponent is going to do by looking at the semi-hidden hints.
No. 181622
[x]Grab Kogasa's umbrella and fondle it.

No, seriously. Get the umbrella and do lewd things with it, disable her entirely. After that, [x]RUN
No. 181624
[x]Jiggle:
--[x]Strangely Familiar Umbrella. (?)

I'm not sure what this even means or why it would be a choice, so it's probably the best choice.
No. 181625
[x]Jiggle:
--[x]Strangely Familiar Umbrella. (?)

Distract her and then flee!
No. 181627
[x]Defend.

So, Kogasa's about to get the first strike off. Might want to guard against that, while:

[x]Jiggle:
--[x]Strangely Familiar Umbrella. (?)

Dunno. The Words document indicates increasing familiarity, so maybe it can help out?
No. 181629
[x]Defend.
[X]Use item:
--[X]Mom's Spicy Hot Lo Mein
>its tongue stretches, shrinks and rolls like a living whip about to lash out.

Kogasa has a tongue. Let's introduce her to the joy of spicy cooking!

Sure our lunch may be partially/totally ruined then but hey we could gain a convert!
No. 181634
[x]Write-in.
-[x] Offer to let her join you; "You can come with me, if you like! I don't mind!"

Worth a try, maybe?
No. 181635
[X] STOP! Nobody move, or the umbrella gets it! Let's all calm down and think this through. after all...it would be a shame if your little buddy here had an, shall we say, "accident", now wouldn't it?
No. 181637
[x]"Is this how you treat people who try to be nice to you for a change? This is why you can't have nice things!"

I don't know if that'll be enough to make Kogasa stop attacking us, but at the very least it'll give her pause. Enough time to do all the above.
No. 181641
Didn't expect all of you to vote for different things. I thought someone would come up with a plan and everybody else would agree.

Oh well, calling it for... Heck, I dunno, I'll try to work out all the different votes. Somehow.
No. 181642
>>181641
Not the Lo Mein one, I hope. Most of us wanted to save that for Reimu.
No. 181646
>>181642

Yea well, most of us also prefer Kosuzu alive. Best laid plans ect...ect....
No. 181650
[1]Defend.
[2]Jiggle:
--[x]Strangely Familiar Umbrella. (?)


The karakasa's tongue (the umbrella, not the girl) flies towards you with sleazy intentions. But you consider yourself too young to be on the receiving end of the ol' lickaroo, so you put your own umbrella between you and the attacking muscle. The tongue coils around the lavender silk, leaving trails of gross, sticky spit all over it. That blonde girl won't be too happy to hear about this.

You shake and wiggle your umbrella, trying to free it from the karakasa's slimy grip. At the same time, Kogasa is attempting to disarm you by pulling harder, using her comparatively greater strength, but the sliminess of the tongue works against her efforts. Soon the struggle degenerates into a tug-of-war, threatening the integrity of your umbrella.

"Stop this already! You're going to break it!" You scream. "I don't know what's gotten into you, but I'm sure we can talk this through like civilized beings. Or don't you care about what happens to your fellow kin?"

"'Kin'? Ha! Why should I care about a rival?" Kogasa responds. "In fact, why do you care so much about it!? I thought you were going to take care of me, and me alone!"

"I didn't say such a thing! Besides, this umbrella is not even mine. I, uh, accidentally borrowed it from a stranger, and I intend to return it intact!"

"Borrowed, or borrowed?" She chuckles, ironically echoing what you asked her earlier.

"It's... complicated."

"Then let me simplify things for you: I am the only umbrella you will ever need!"

She pulls again with surprising (hark hark) strength, making you slip and fall face first to the snow. Your umbrella is still in your hands, though -- the karakasa's spit has lubed it too much and had escaped the tongue grip. Which is good for your chances of survival, but utterly disgusting nonetheless.

[3]Defend.
[4]Grab Kogasa's umbrella and fondle it.


As you stand up, you see Kogasa preparing her next attack. It looks like she decided to dispense with the tongue play and just pounce at you, raising her umbrella to trample you with its geta. You react quickly enough to grab your own umbrella (ewwww!) and block the stomp. Both of you wrestle for a short moment, but before she inevitably overpowers you, you manage to run a finger along the karakasa's base, tickling her "foot". She breaks into a fit of giggling and relents in the lock, which gives you the opening you needed to land a kick on Kogasa's shin and roll away while she grunts in pain.

"Now you're just being nasty!" You shout at her, but it's as effective as trying to calm a frenzied boar down with a red capote. Bull? Goat? Green? Whatever. "This is ridiculous! I don't want to fight you! Please!"

Kogasa doesn't answer your plead, and simply glares back at you with those hungry, disturbing heterochromatic eyes. Her mouth is disfigured into a terrifying grin, that of a predator that enjoys the hunt, relishing the moment when she's about to pounce on her spunky prey. Speaking of hungry...

[5]Use item:
--[X]Mom's Spicy Hot Lo Mein


That metaphor gives you an idea. You don't know for sure if it'll work, but you don't have many options either way.

"I see... You must be hungry!" You exclaim. "I also get all grumpy when my belly's starving. And it just so happens that I have the perfect solution for that!"

Under the youkai's curious gaze, you produce the package your Mother prepared with love for you. Part of you is a little iffy on giving away your favorite dish to your enemy, but you'd rather conserve all your parts than your food.

"Here, these are fried noodles with spices and herbs," you say as you open the box and reveal its contents to Kogasa. "I don't mean to brag, but I'm willing to bet you haven't tasted anything like this in your whole life. C'mon, doesn't it look appetizing? Is it making your mouth water?"

"It does look yummy," the youkai concedes, "but there is a much better plate in front of me that I'd rather eat up."

"Oh, I get it, you're going to say human flesh is the tastiest, or something like that," you put your box away, since it's clear she doesn't want it. "Well, save it. If you're going to devour me no matter what, at least spare me the cliches, will you?"

"Flesh? Yuck! I'm not like Rumia! My tastes are much more refined than hers," she grimaces in pure disgust. You briefly wonder who is this 'Rumia' person; you decide to put her on your list of 'people to stay ten miles away from', based on Kogasa's comment. "No, no, what I really feed on is your fear, human."

"My... fear?"

Kogasa strides towards you, chuckling like a madwoman (madumbrella?), but despite all your instincts yelling at you to get away from her, your muscles refuse to obey your orders. And so you stand there like a twig about to break, while the youkai drapes an arm around your shoulders in a not-very-subtle-at-all gesture of possession. You have to suppress a shiver from running down your spine when the karakasa puts a long fingernail under your chin and pulls your head up a bit.

"Very softly down the glade runs a waiting, watching shade, and the whisper spreads and widens far and near," she croons a somewhat familiar cradle song, as she runs her finger down your neck, leaving goosebumps over your skin at its wake. "And the sweat is on your brow, for she passes even now... She is Fear, O Little Bell, she... is... Fear!"

The last word comes out in an inhuman, guttural growl, more befitting of a ghost than a cute girl. For added emphasis, Kogasa scratches your right trap with her nail, making your skin ache and burn. That is enough to make your body react, and you push her away with all your might. If it's because you truly feared for your life, or because you were repulsed by how she broke the last verse's metric, you will always wonder. Well, not really.

"Well, how was it?" The youkai taunts you. "Are you feeling it now, Miss Bell?"

You bring your hand to where the scrape itches. When you lower it back, you see it's stained with copious sweat and a bit of blood. That's definitely going to leave a scar on your pristine skin -- the first one of the many you will undoubtedly earn on your adventure... if you manage to survive this battle. You hope she didn't put anything worse inside you, like a curse. That would be terribly inconvenient.

"I left you a mark to remember me by," Kogasa chuckles. "Be surprised! Are you surprised?"

"Surprised? N-no, not at all," you lie. "I'm just grossed out, that's all."

"Lies. I can still taste the lingering panic inside you," she brings her bloodstained nail to her mouth and puts on a show of sucking it clean with delight. "And it is de-li-cious~~!"

She says that, but the disgusted grimace that curls up on her lips for a split second didn't escape you. True to her earlier word, she actually isn't used to the taste of blood, but she puts up with it to maintain her scary facade. Or perhaps there really is an underlying flavor only youkai can enjoy.

"Guess you won't be needing me anymore, after you've had your fill," you say. "Are you going to get rid of me now?"

"Don't be hasty! There's still so much fun to be had!"

She wields her umbrella again, intent of pestering you until you surrender or faint, whichever happens first. But you're tired of being on the defensive, and steeling your waning resolve and bravery, you step in to get the next strike. Unfortunately, you don't have training in any sort of battle arts, be it danmaku or martial or weaponry. You are fully aware that there's no way you can beat a youkai in a contest of pure strength.

[6]Jiggle:
--[x]Strangely Familiar Umbrella. (?)


Therefore, your only hope is to trust in your umbrella, and pray you can unleash its hidden power before Kogasa scares you into submission. You do the first thing that comes to mind: opening the umbrella and spinning it in front of your opponent's face. Kogasa remains nonplussed and amused.

"Is that supposed to hypnotize me?" She asks. "Or are you trying to out-surprise me?"

"No," you respond, "Actually, I don't know what I was trying to accomplish." Well, you do have a general idea, but--

Wait, what was that? For a moment, it looked like the air in front of you twisted and distorted on itself, and it hurt just to look at it... but the next second it's gone. Weird.

"That's my trademark, pal," Kogasa doesn't seem to have noticed that. "No way a puny human gets to bite my style!"

She attacks you, bludgeoning you with her other half, but you close your own umbrella and deflect the blow.

"What's your deal!?" You scream at her. "First you say you'll kidnap me, then you give me the creeps, and now you want to hurt me? Make up your mind already!"

Kogasa swings her umbrella a few more times, but you easily backstep away and avoid the blows. You had a feeling she was being too erratic in her behavior, even for a youkai., and this practically confirms your suspicions. One moment she's possessive, the other she's aggressive, and the next one she's outright scary and then back to aggressive... It's almost as if she doesn't have a clue on how to behave in front of her prey, and tramples over herself.

<<Or maybe she's just not in her sane mind, for a youkai definition of 'sane'?>> You think to yourself. You are reminded of the last incident Marisa and Reimu told you about, the one where youkai were acting all weird. The Miracle mallet incident, you recall. Is Kogasa's behavior the remnants of that spell? But Reimu assured you it was all solved and taken care of... What is going on here?

Anyway, you need to snap Kogasa out of whatever is taking a hold on her -- if not for her well-being, for your own.

"You said I was a keeper, yes? Yet you try to break me," you say. "I was only being nice to you, and you repay my kindness like this?"

"I, ah, uh... Shut up and stay still!"

The karakasa tries the tongue whip tactic again, but you sidestep, confident in that the same trick won't work on you a second time. Except it does, because the tongue turns in midair and grabs you by your ankle. The sliminess in your skin is already disgusting and spooky in itself, but somehow your very spirit feels even dirtier and by the tongue's touch. Despite your terror, you are resolved to win this battle and bring the karakasa obake down, even by words alone if everything else fails.

"I wouldn't have minded to take you with me, if you wanted," you keep on pressing. "But if this is how you treat people, then it's no wonder why nobody likes you!"

That last statement hits Kogasa like a truck (supposing trucks are as heavy as the Outsider books tell), and she visibly blenches, hurt by your words. Your words, stingy like a dart, have hit the bullseye on her unstable psyche. Or goatseye. Boarseye? Green eye?

"Nobody... likes me...?" She whispers, about to break down in tears. "I already knew that..."

A part of you almost feels sorry for her and wants to hug her and apologize to her. The more rational part says that she deserves worse after what she's done to you.

"Well then..." Kogasa takes a breath, showing a furious scowl. "If I can't be liked no matter what I do, then I can sure as hell be feared!"

She produces a card from somewhere -- a Spell Card. The magic piece of paper glows blue, and the atmosphere glows darker, which leaves Kogasa (and her oncoming bullets) in the spotlight.

"Monster Sign 「A Forgotten Umbrella's Night Train」"

As she declares her Spell, she twirls her umbrella in circles, and red bullets come flying in concentric rings. At the same time, a procession of ghostly copies of the umbrella appear out of nowhere, running all over the place in a conga line (or like a train, hence the Spell Card's name) and pouring myriads of blue amulets in their trail.

It looks like none of those bullets are actually aimed at you, but if you stay still for too long, it will be a matter of time before you get swarmed and a stray bullet hits you by chance. You need to do something to dispel the Spell, or find another way to get rid of a train of umbrellas. Or hope you are agile enough to avoid all the bullets until the Spell Card times out.


[]Attack her with your umbrella before the danmaku grows denser.
[]Pray to the Luna Shooters and graze like crazy.
[]Cast a Spell Card of your own
[]Jiggle your umbrella a third time. Perhaps this one will be the charm. (?)
[]Use item:
--[x]Mom's Spicy Hot Lo Mein
[]Run away before your escape is completely cut off.
[]Surrender and hope she won't hurt you too much.
[]Write-in.


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

Meh. I went through three rewrites of this scene and I'm still not very convinced about how it turned out. Oh well, at least I reached a good compromise between every option.

Also, this usage of all votes is in no way indicative of how the "different tallying method" is supposed to work. Think of this as a special exception due to all the different votes.
No. 181652
[x] Charge right through the barrage at Kogasa like a mad (wo)man
-[x] Hug option
No. 181653
Okay, to be a little bit meta:

The blue amulets use a random pattern and the red bullets are fixed. None of these are actually homing, so if we step out of the path of the red bullets we should be fine. So:

[x] Use the umbrella to deflect the blue amulets if possible.

[x] Sidestep the red bullets.
No. 181654
>>181652

I like this plan

[x] Charge right through the barrage at Kogasa like a mad (wo)man
-[x] Hug option
No. 181663
The underlined parts are apparently supposed to be hints, but I honestly have no idea how they related to the vote, unless >>181653 is right and we're supposed to metagame her game patterns, so might as well go with that.


[x] Use the umbrella to deflect the blue amulets if possible.
[x] Sidestep the red bullets.
No. 181670
>Wait, what was that? For a moment, it looked like the air in front of you twisted and distorted on itself, and it hurt just to look at it... but the next second it's gone. Weird.

... oh. Right. I really should have realized.

[x] Slice the space before you with the tip of the frilly lavender umbrella, tearing it open.
- [x] "Hax Sign 「A Borrowed Umbrella's Doom Train」"
-- [x] If this fails, which it probably will, take the moment of uncertainty it produces to charge in.
-- [x] If it succeeds, smile Yukariishly. "Surpri~ise~♪"
No. 181672
[X] Hide behind the tree until her spellcard breaks, then charge in and resume umbrella CQC.
-[X] Repeat step 1 if she declares another spellcard.
No. 181684
Best bet is to slash with the umbrella and hope it works as intended. This is Yukari's parasol, or so it seems. In short, <I>I wholeheartedly agree with >>181670.</I>
No. 181685
[1]Charge right through the barrage at Kogasa like a mad (wo)man.
-[x]Hug.
[2]Use the umbrella to deflect the blue amulets if possible. Sidestep the red bullets.


Similarly to what happened with Orange, your sisterly instinct awakens once more. Beneath the rage, the obsession and the psychosis, Kogasa is just another poor lonely girl in desperate need of love and attention. While you are fully aware of the dangers, there is no way you can't ignore this. Even if it'll hurt you, you will give her a bit of the care she craves. If it worked with the gateguard, why wouldn't it work with the karakasa?

There's still the thing about the bullet barrage, though. You stare intently at the danmaku, trying to spot a safe gap in the waves from where you will begin your charge towards Kogasa. <<But it looks impenetrable! How does Reimu do it?>> Does it take a special talent to crack a danmaku pattern, or does it come with experience? In you inexperience, you can't find any easy way through, no matter how hard you look. Therefore, there's only one possible option for you.

Swallowing your fear and gritting your teeth, you run towards the bullets, frantically waving your umbrella around. Sure enough, you are promptly stopped on your tracks by an avalanche of bullets that escape your "block". You hoped you could deflect the incoming bullets with your umbrella, and while some of them did bounce off, it turns out the fabled "Spin Reflect" that so often afters in fiction doesn't work in reality, as your aching body and burnt clothes can attest to. Or maybe you don't know how to properly wield a weapon to pull off this stunt. Go figure.

But you aren't giving up so easily! After going through the Spell Card once, you believe you have figured out a relatively safe path to reach Kogasa and hug the sadness out of her. Ignoring the pain in your arms and legs, you let out a war cry and charge once more through the danmaku. You duck, sidestep, deflect a few bullets with your umbrella, stop, dash, keeping an eye on your immediate surroundings, all without a rest. Your progress is slow but steady, as you inch closer and closer without taking a hit...

And then it hits you. Focused as you were on the bullets, you forgot about the train of ghostly umbrellas, and before you can react they are already on a collision path towards you. Only that the collision never happens -- the phantoms merely phase through you like you aren't even there, and the effects it has on your psyche are not very pretty, to say the least. You may have avoided physical pain, but the mental wounds scream in your head, almost driving you insane.

"Life's a bitter shame, ain't it now?" Says Kogasa. "You should've gone off the rails when you faced the crazy train!"

It takes you a lot of your willpower to even stand up after suffering this vicious attack on your mind and soul, but somehow you manage.

"I know... I know things went wrong for you," you huff, "but... but you've got to listen to my words, Kogasa! It's not too late to learn how to love, and forget how to hate!"

You almost want to hit yourself in the face for spouting such a cliche, melodramatic line. Kogasa looks like she might oblige.

"So that's how it goes, huh?" The youkai lets out a long sigh and shakes her head. "If only it were so easy..."

"What do you mean?"

"I can't bear living with-- with something that's just not fair, you know?" Explains the karakasa. "Do you believe I didn't try to 'forget' on my own? It's not as easy as you think. Not when I was forgotten myself, strayed, abandoned. No, bell girl, I can't simply 'forget' how to hate. It's the whole reason why I became a tsukumogami in the first place."

<<I see it now,>> you think. <<This is Kogasa's true self, before she became a vengeful spirit. The clouds of sadness and loneliness, piling up on top of her...>> It's no wonder why she ended up possessing an umbrella -- because there was nobody who wanted to shelter her from the storm, she was forced to become something that protected her from the rain. Just thinking about the hardships she had to endure makes you want to hug her tightly in your arms and whisper sweet words of solace in her ear...

... But how can you do that when she's actively trying to push you away, with waves after waves of danmaku? Your eyes wander to your arms, aching from the burns that ate through your clothes and scorched your skin. You're not sure your body can't take much more punishment -- and without the protection the Spell Card Rules grant, an unlucky hit may very well cost you your life. <<Is there really nothing I can do?>> You think sourly, looking at your umbrella.

Wait. The umbrella...

[3]Slice the space before you with the tip of the frilly lavender umbrella, tearing it open.

You recall how the air -- no, space itself snarled and contorted in front of you when you waved the umbrella the second time. What would happen if you do it a third time, with a small hint of what will happen?

With a single motion, you use the tip of the umbrella to "rip" the air in front of you. A strong wave of pure magic abashes you, as a dimensional rift is created by the umbrella's power, in the form of a ribbon held by two red bows at its ends. At the other side lies an incomprehensible sight, what your limited mind defines as an "infinite nothingness" for lack of a better term. From that parallel world, countless demonic eyes stare back at you, as if telling you're not welcome in their realm.

Your own instincts wish for nothing but to heed their warnings, but when the other alternative is to get blasted to death by a crazed karakasa, what other choice do you have?

***You acquire an item: Gap Folding Umbrella***

And so, hoping you aren't plunging to your demise, you step inside the gap...

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
No. 181686
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Although there is no apparent source of light in this "place", the space in the dimensional rift is just lit enough that your eyes hurt as they strain to see across
it. Under the red eyes' baleful stare, you walk for what it seems a long instant, or a short eternity. Meanwhile, a disembodied voice begins to speak.

"The girl is entering the Rift Betwixt Boundaries... A dimension not of sight and sound, but of really weird stuff that usually turns out to be predictably ironic," the voice booms, as you glimpse blinking eyeballs, spirals, and star fields as far as your mind can reach -- and beyond. "That signpost up ahead: The Gap Zone."

The portal behind you disappears, and in its place you see a pedestal with a strange cocktail glass sitting on it. As you approach it, the voice begins again, somewhat more quietly:

"The girl enters a special place... The Gap Zone," it says.

You look over your shoulder and locate the speaker: it's a gorgeuos woman in her late twenties, but her violet eyes hide a wisdom far beyond her apparent age. She lets her long blonde hair loose under a pale pink mob cap, adorned with a red ribbon. The deep purple dress is loose and elegant in its simplicity; it reminisces you about the Victorian attire described in those Outsider books you avidly read, and yet somehow it still clings her sultry hourglass figure.

She is truly a goddess of beauty, capable of garnering the admiration of males and females alike with ease. But something feels fundamentally alien and
wrong about her, so you decide to ignore her and focus on the tasty beverage instead.

"The girl approaches the pedestal," the woman says. "She's forgotten what she came here for, and she only has eyes for the cocktail. She doesn't know it yet, but she just wants a little booze to help her through the day. Little does she know that she's got herself a corner booth in that neighborhood bar known as... The Gap Zone."

Doo doo doo doo hum the eyes, accompanying the blonde woman's narration with their ominous soundtrack.

***You acquire an item: A glass of Pan-Dimensional Gargle Blaster***


"The girl picks up the cocktail and places it in her inventory," she continues. "She rolls her eyes at me and starts to walk away. She flips me the bird as she leaves, never suspecting that that particular bird will not fly in... The Gap Zone."

Another rift opens up in front of you, leading back to your own world. You walk towards it, hearing the woman's voice grow ever fainter as you leave. "The girl takes a step, and then another step... and then another... never suspecting that--"

<<Man, what a weird gal,>> you think to yourself, as you cross the gap and leave the Rift Betwixt Boundaries for good.

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

When you find yourself back in the real, three dimensional world, you notice that you have reappeared behind Kogasa.

"Huh!? Where did she go!?"

The karakasa is frantically shaking her head, looking in vain for the target that had literally vanished in front of her. Little does she know that you had taken a shortcut to her blind spot through... The Gap Zone.

You couldn't have asked for a better opportunity to turn the tide of the losing battle. While she's distracted and confused, a myriad of possibilities opens up to you. You only need to reach out your hand and take the one you want the most.

[]Deliver a finishing blow from the back, and end this battle.
[]Sneak away now that she isn't looking, and never turn back.
[]Open a gap to the Rift Betwitxt Boundaries just under her feet.
[]Pull her into a surprise bear hug from behind.
[]Spook her vocal chords out, and show the karakasa how it's done.
[]Write-in.

No. 181687
>>181686
[x]Pull her into a surprise bear hug from behind.

Say reassuring words to calm her down
No. 181689
[x] Pull her into a surprise bear hug from behind.

This is a dumb idea, but I don't want to live in a Gensokyo where Kogasa is lonely and crazy.
No. 181690
[x]Spook her vocal chords out, and show the karakasa how it's done.

Assert dominance, and make her yours.
No. 181693
[]Spook her vocal chords out, and show the karakasa how it's done.

Yukari being terribly bored and messing with Kosuzu was arguably the best part of this update. I was giggling the whole time.
No. 181697
[X]Spook her vocal chords out, and show the karakasa how it's done.
No. 181700
[x] Pull her into a surprise bear hug from behind.

Man Yukari must've been watching the Venture Brothers ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H8yQhXDquII )

That or the Twilight Zone.
No. 181701
Imma need about three fiddy. And a tie breaker.

Pic unrelated.
No. 181702
Is that some cheating I see? Hopefull kosuzu is prepared to face the consequences of raising the flag of foul play.
No. 181703
[x]Pull her into a surprise bear hug from behind.
No. 181704
Alright, called for hugs.

>>181700
The second hit the mark. I was tempted to reference the whole opening narration, but I felt that would be too obvious.

>>181702
You raise a valid point of concern. Cheat items are indeed not allowed in formal danmaku duels, but notice how Kosuzu, by virtue of not having any Spell Cards on her, is not under the jurisdiction of the Rules, for worse and better. Reimu will frown upon the use of Yukari's umbrella, of course, but she won't be able to punish Kosuzu for it even if she wanted.
No. 181705
>>181704
I thought it was Venture Brothers at first due to all the "...the Gap Zone" in the narrative. Rod Serling would only use "...the Twilight Zone" at the end of the opening, or ending, IIRC.
No. 181717
[x]Pull her into a surprise bear hug from behind.
No. 181720
[x]Pull her into a surprise bear hug from behind.

The most logical thing you should do, if you regard your own well-being, would be to bash her neck in, or simply run away while you still can. But how can you bring yourself to do such dishonorable, cruel things when there's a poor little youkai in desperate need of solace? No, you will make Kogasa happy, and you will not stop until she gives in to the power of friendship.

<<I am about to comfort a youkai with hugs.>> The mere thought of it still sounds insane. Hours ago, not even your wild imagination could picture you doing this -- hell, you fighting a youkai was far-fetched on its own, period. Funny how things change when you're desperate. <<What would Reimu say if she saw me now?>>

But it's no use worrying about that now. The target is in your sight, unaware of your presence, and the salvo of cuddles and pettings is way overdue. You sneakily walk towards the karakasa and, before she has time to react, you put your arms around her belly area and squeeze her slim frame against your own body.

"Wah! Where did you come fr-!? What are you doing!?" The karakasa exclaims startled.

"It's no use resisting!" You apply more force on your grip when Kogasa starts squirming. "You're gonna get taken home, like it or not!"

"That's my line! Let me go!"

"Shshshsh shhhhhhh... It's alright, there's no need to be upset," you whisper the first soothing words that come to mind in her--overly sensitive, you notice--ear. "You're not alone anymore. I'm here."

Kogasa turns her head around and looks at you with teary eyes. "You... you mean it? For real?" She asks, her voice about to crack.

"For real. Now let it all out."

You raise a hand to pet and ruffle her blue hair, and that's when Kogasa breaks down. The youkai falls down on her knees between sobs and hiccups, and you let yourself be dragged down with her -- all to keep cradling her. For all the power and craziness she exhibited in the fight, she really is just a fragile little girl.

But, you know, hugging her feels nice for you too. You wouldn't mind staying like this for a little while longer

Only a couple of minutes, that's all...

---------------------------------------------------------------------

"So, you calmed down yet?"

The youkai dries her reddened eyes (the blue one at least; the red one is a lost cause) with her arm, and nods weakly. "Yeah, I'm good. I think."

<<About time, yeesh.>> You didn't believe it was physically possible to weep like a baby for fifteen minutes straight unless you were, well, a baby. But Kogasa was more than eager to prove you wrong, and boy did she have a lot to vent out. And to be honest, you didn't do much to stop her. In fact, you also wanted to let out your anxiety and join her in the river crying, but someone has to play the role of the cool and collected big sister and keep the bridge from sinking.

You look up to the sky, basking in the fuzzy warmth of Kogasa's body. Then you see the sun, and remember that the real ordeal is far from over. Behind the willow leaves, the sky is starting to turn into a violet hue; the sunset is getting closer by the minute. You estimate a little more than an hour has passed since you ventured into the forest, certainly more than you expected. There is still plenty of time to reach the Hakurei Shrine--about three hours, probably--, but perhaps you ought to avoid interruptions like this one. You'd also like to have a bit of extra time to learn danmaku for your upcoming battles.

"Hey," Kogasa tugs on your sleeve to catch your attention."Should I start calling you 'master' now?"

You wince, startled by how easily this youkai has thrown such an statement. The books never said anything about tsukumogami submitting to the first person who lent them a shoulder to cry in. Is this supposed to be normal? You said this a couple of times already, but youkai sure are weird. Still, 'master' does have a nice ring to--

Whoa whoa whoa whoa whoa, wait, are you seriously considering that!? That's seriously disturbing, Kosuzu! Did you have a sadistic side inside you that has just awoken? <<It must be those puppy eyes,>> you attempt to convince yourself. <<Yeah, that's it! This is the infamous 'youkai moe' I heard about. Get a hold of yourself, girl! You're much better than that!>>

You shake your head vigorously, trying to expel those indecent thoughts out of your mind. "Uh, n-no, that, ah, won't be necessary," you stutter, as your cheeks light up. "Just call me by my name."

"I don't know your name."

"Kosuzu Motoori, but just call me Kosuzu."

"'Kosuzu'? 'Little Bell'...?" The karakasa tilts her head. "But I've been calling you Little Bell before, when, uh... that. Is 'Little Bell' truly your real name?"

"Y-yeah, got a problem with that?" You grumble. "And before you ask, yes, my hair decorations are based on it, not the other way around."

"No, I don't have any problem! I think it's a beautiful name, and it suits you!" She flashes you a sweet, radiant smile, and your maiden heart flutters for a second. "In fact, we'd make a great duo! The Little Bell and her Little Umbrella! What do you humans call it? 'Suzu-X-Gasa', or something like that?"

"What!? No! Don't go shipping people like that! It's indecent!"

"Huh? But I don't see any ships around here."

"Ahh, never mind..."

It's hard to imagine this sweet little youkai was trying to terrify and murder you twenty minutes ago. Seriously, what's with all the cuteness and innocence all of a sudden? What a foul move! If Kogasa keeps saying that kind of things, people might get the wrong idea about your relationship. Actually, what is your relationship? Kogasa called you 'master' and put herself in your care, but hidden fetishes aside you don't feel comfortable with a master-slave dynamic. Maybe Kogasa does, but you've received a fair upbringing, and you were taught that romantic relationships must be founded on equality and respect for the partner, and you should probably stop thinking about this stuff while you're snuggling a cute girl.

Before you're tempted to do something you'll surely regret, you break the hug, stand up and walk around in circles, pondering more important things. You'd like to think it's to get the blood running through your numbed legs again, but that would only be a half-truth. Mostly, you want to put some distance between you and her to clear up your confused mind from... un-maiden-like thoughts. So you distract yourself by kicking pebbles, and stones, and red-haired heads--

Wait, what?

"Eek! The head!" You scream in disgust when you realize what you've just punted away.

"Oh? I must've dropped it before without noticing," says Kogasa, not put off in the slightest.

In fact, she picks it up cradles it in her bosom and pets it, like it was a stuffed animal. Adorable, but highly disturbing. <<Goddammit, Kogasa, be cute or be creepy, but please not both at the same time!>>

"S-so... what are you going to do with... it?" You ask. "That Dullahan would probably want it back."

The karakasa takes the head in one hand and looks at it straight in her lifeless eyes. With that stoic expression on her face, you can hardly imagine said Dullahan to be a fellow of infinite jest and most excellent fancy. On the other hand, you wouldn't be precisely too happy if someone stole your head, so...

"I suppose I'll hold on to it until I meet her again. Uh, or I could just leave it here and forget about it," Kogasa adds when she sees your disgusted grimace. "I'm sure she'll find it easily if she's searching for it."

"Well, I'd rather not walk around with a disembodied head if I can help it, but it'd also be very rude of us to not return it," you say. "Also, Kogasa, didn't you say before that you had to 'join your companions'?"

As soon as you remind her, the karakasa gapes at you, in dawning comprehension.

"Ack! My friends! They must be fighting on without me!" She exclaims, alarmed.

"Fighting who?"

"The fairies, mast- Kosuzu! We were ambushed, we were only three, and they were a lot and came from all sides! I was blown off by a great fairy's wind spell, that's how I got stuck in the tree. Oh god, they might have fallen without my support!" She grabs you by your shoulders and shakes frantically. "You came from the west road, right? Please tell me, did you see any body on your way here?"

"Eh? Oh, hm..." You close your eyes, jogging your memory. "I saw a lot of burn marks and fallen trees, but you're the first person I've seen since I left the Village. I think."

"Really? Thank goodness," she lets out a sigh of relief. "That means they have gotten out of there safe and sound. So now they should be at the necromancer's lair. Heck, maybe they're even fighting her right about now--"

"Wait wait wait wait, hold up. Did you just say 'necromancer'?"

"Yes, a devious one!" Kogasa nods. "She's using the new road's construction site as a cover-up, but in reality she's raising an army of undead to invade the Forest of Magic! But my companions and I have formed a party of warriors and adventurers, and we embarked on a campaign to stop her evil plans!"

<<Oh, they're just playing around. That's a relief.>> Actually, that sounds a lot like one of those board games your good friend Akyuu has taken a liking to. Maybe it caught on in the youkai community too? Nevertheless, actual necromancers aren't unheard of in Gensokyo, so there's a chance the line between pretend and reality is more blurred than you'd like in their particular game.

"My, that sounds really bad!" You exclaim, faking surprise. "You should really join your partners and aid them in their battle!"

"Nah, I have a much important duty to carry out."

"Which is..."

"Need you ask? I have to protect my master of all harm, like a good umbrella!"

Oh dear. Seems you're stuck with this clingy tsukumogami for the foreseeable future. You don't know if you should feel grateful or angered to her. Well, if she wants to make herself useful, there's no reason why you shouldn't take advantage of her predisposition, right?

[]{Go to Hakurei Shrine} "I must go to the Hakurei Shrine immediately. Can you guide me there?"
[]{Go to Old Bridge} "We can't leave the head here. You have to return it. Don't worry, I'll accompany you."
[]{Go to Road Construction Site} "You know? You've picked my interest. Let's go see how your fellows are doing."


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

>>181705
That was just a repetition gag. Sadly, adult swim isn't broadcast in my country, so I only know about the most memetic things like Dr. Weird.

>>181717
Sorry man, pool's closed.
No. 181721
[x]{Go to Hakurei Shrine} "I must go to the Hakurei Shrine immediately. Can you guide me there?"

We'll stop by the Old Bridge on the way back.
No. 181722
>>181720
[x]{Go to Hakurei Shrine} "I must go to the Hakurei Shrine immediately. Can you guide me there?"

Let's get on with waht we set out to do.
No. 181723
[x]{Go to Road Construction Site} "You know? You've picked my interest. Let's go see how your fellows are doing."

I could not be happier with these results.
No. 181724
[x]{Go to Hakurei Shrine} "I must go to the Hakurei Shrine immediately. Can you guide me there?"
No. 181726
[ $ ] {Go to Hakurei Shrine} "I must go to the Hakurei Shrine immediately. Can you guide me there?

I kind of want to add a write-in where we tell Kogasa not to be so clingy, comparing her to an undesirable umbrella (one that's sticky, flimsy, can't close, etc.), but I have no idea how to phrase it.
No. 181727
[x]{Go to Hakurei Shrine} "I must go to the Hakurei Shrine immediately. Can you guide me there?"

Kosuzu really needs to learn danmaku.
No. 181728
>>181727
Why learn danmaku when we can have our umbrella harem do it for us?
No. 181733
[X]{Go to Road Construction Site} "You know? You've picked my interest. Let's go see how your fellows are doing.

Necromancers, as a general rule always carry a nice supply of Demon books unique and scholarly literature pertaining to the dark arts. I'm sure Kosuzu would want to get her hands on such a prize.
No. 181734
>>181728
Don't be ridiculous. Orange isn't an umbrella.
No. 181735
[X]{Go to Hakurei Shrine} "I must go to the Hakurei Shrine immediately. Can you guide me there?"

We need to learn danmaku fast! Then we can help with Kogasa's quest.
No. 181737
>>181734
Not yet. We still have time.
No. 181739
Alrighty, Kosuzu will be boarding the Karakasa Express all the way to Plot Ville shortly.

>>181728
>harem
B-but muh pure toohoos

Besides, most danmaku duels are 1v1 no items fox only final destination, so even if you manage to get a lot of friends and allies, it would be advisable to at least learn how to defend yourself in bullet hell. Those are my two cents and since I'm the writefag my cents are worth more than yours.

>>181737
Wait, how and why are you turning Orange into an umbrella?
No. 181740
>>181739

>no items

I call bullshit. Most of the 2hus have a weapon or item associated with them, And Raymoo totally used Yukari's Gap Folding umbrella in Subterranean Animism. I think it's when someone's running around with 8 items that Reimu draws the line.

Also, Fox a shit. Get gud scrub.
No. 181767
[X]{Go to Hakurei Shrine} "I must go to the Hakurei Shrine immediately. Can you guide me there?"

"Ehhh? The Shrine?" Kogasa doesn't sound very thrilled about the idea. "But that's where the red-white lives!"

"The 'red-white'? You mean Reimu? Yes, that's exactly who I need to see."

"But... but she beats up youkai, and doesn't afraid of anything!" The karakasa shakes her fists, abuzz. "She's like, the archfoe of every tsukumogami in the world!"

"It baffles me how can you say 'archfoe' correctly and botcher the grammar so badly at the same time."

"Eh, well, that... Doesn't matter!" Kogasa blushes. "She'll beat me up the moment she sees me! That's what happened the two times we crossed paths."

<<So they know each other already? Reimu didn't tell me about that...>> It's true your friend isn't very talkative about her duties as a shrine maiden, but it still makes you wonder how much Reimu has kept you on the shade.

"Don't worry about that," you pat the youkai's head reassuringly. "Reimu is a good friend of mine. She won't lay a hand on you as long as you're at my side, I'll make sure of that."

"She didn't use her hands to hurt me."

"... Fine, I'll ask her not to use the amulets too."

That will be more difficult, though. Reimu always carries ofuda on her in case of emergency, and you have witnessed her infamous happy trigger in action. Mix that with Kogasa's inclination to cause troubles, and you have the a danmaku battle about to explode out of the metaphorical boiling pot.

"So, shall we be off, then?" You say.

Kogasa lets out a weary sigh. "I suppose I have no other choice, huh?"

"You brought this on yourself when you decided to become my umbrella," you shrug. "And just to let you know, there's a very high probability that I'll encounter worse things in the near future. You still sure you want to be with me?"

"O-of course! I'll face anything for my master!"

Seeing Kogasa swallow her fears and putting on a brave face for your sake fills your heart with a deep sense of appreciation and gratefulness for the loyal tsukumogami. The least you can do to reciprocate is to live up to the trust she's placed on you.

"Very well then! Lead the way, my dear umbrella!"

--------------------------------------------------------------------------

As the sun begins to set behind your backs, you finally spot the first of the many red torii, at the bottom of the long set of stairs that welcomes the visitors to the Hakurei Shrine. Up until now, Kogasa had been bobbing and floating impatiently in the air, waiting for you to catch up every time your walking rhythm fell off her flying's pace. But as soon you began to crossed the first arch and climbed the first steps, the karakasa suddenly stops right on her tracks and winces in clear discomfort.

"Is something the matter, Kogasa?" You ask, concerned.

"Ah, uh, it's nothing, I'm fine," she answers, but you can tell she's anything but. "Well, it's just... This place does not welcome youkai. How do I put it? It's as if the atmosphere itself is trying to push me out, you get me?"

"Can't say I do. I don't feel anything strange." Then you recall a certain factoid about the structures you're passing through. "Torii usually mark the entrance to a sacred place, like this shrine. It's very probable Reimu has placed some sort of anti-youkai barriers to protect it."

"Makes sense," the karakasa nods. "But I've been told that many youkai come to party here when the cherries blossom, so there has to be a way to bypass it."

"I don't think Reimu would be so lazy as to neglect her own shrine's barrier..." You start, but your voice trails off when you remember what kind of person the miko is. "On second thought, she is very capable of that. I think her carelessness has weakened the barrier so much that youkai are able to traverse it without much trouble."

"... That doesn't say good things about me. Am I really that much of a weakling?" Sighs the blue girl.

"No, no, you're pretty strong, Kogasa! I can attest to that," you point at your tattered clothes.

"With all due respect, mas- Kosuzu, but you're not exactly the strongest human in Gensokyo," she snorts. "I appreciate your compliment, really, but you can't make that kind of statement without any idea of how really powerful are the biggest fish around here. I mean, you don't even know danmaku, and you've spent most of your life living inside those walls, away from youkai turf. I bet I'm the first youkai you've spoken to openly."

"The second, actually," you mutter bitterly, thinking about Ms. Sado. <<But can I consider our relationship an 'open' one when she hid so much from me?>>

"Huh?"

"Never mind. The case is, you're misunderstanding me. I was just saying that there must be a part of the barrier that's weaker than the rest, like... Over the torii, perhaps?" You posit, glancing at the red archs.

"You mean, flying over them? Why didn't I think of that?" Kogasa approaches you with a mischievous smile, and extends her umbrella half to you. "Hey, master, hold on to me. I'll carry you over."

"Come on, do I look like a babysitter to you? I'd rather stay down to earth, thanks." That's not the real reason you're declining her offer, though. The memory of the karakasa's reaction when you touched her shaft is still vivid in your mind. "And yet, I can't help but wonder how nice it is being able to float wherever you like. I wouldn't need to climb these damned steps if I knew how to fly, for example."

"It's very convenient, yeah," she demonstrates it by reclining herself horizontally in midair, while she floats up the second torii's top. "But it's not as exciting as you make it sound, really."

"You only say that because you were born with flight. Most of us eternally-grounded humans have fantasized with taking the skies at least once," you sigh with melancholy.

"Tell me that when you get caught in the middle of a storm. The wind blows you away, you get all wet and confused; you don't know where's up and where's down. And in the end, you find yourself lost in the middle of nowhere... That, if you didn't break your ribs on the fall. That sucks big time, I tell you!"

"I'll try to stay clear from storms, then."

"But, you know, this time I'm actually glad it happened," Kogasa winks at you. "The winds of destiny carried me to our fateful reunion, where I met my young and kind master."

"That's just corny, Kogasa. Cut that out," you stifle a laugh. If she's really trying to woo you, she'll have to do a much better work. You're way above overused lines from romantic novels. "By the way, how are you doing up there? We're halfway through."

"Oh? I didn't even notice that! You were right, Kosuzu!" Exultant, Kogasa does a few twirls and somersaults in the air. "The barrier has no effect up above! Hey, hey, I already see the Shrine! It's... Huh, what a letdown."

When you (finally!) reach the top of the stairs, you're greeted by the sight of the Hakurei Shrine, the temple that guards the Border between Gensokyo and the Outside World at its easternmost extreme. But for all the fanfare, grandeur and hype that the mere mention of its functions implies, you have to agree with Kogasa here; the building itself is nothing to write home about. But you'll give it a try nonetheless, because it's your job.

If you had to describe it with one word, that would be a "ramshackle". Despite having been rebuilt from the ground a whooping amount of three times over the past decade, the main building is still bland, old-fashioned and offers poor protection from the cold. Add all that to the long and dangerous trip villagers like you have to make to get here, and it's no wonder why Reimu seldom gets any visitors and donations. This means the miko has no budget to restyle the shrine and make it more appealing to potential worshipers, which in turn begets less visitors, and so goes the endless cycle of financial and faith poverty. As an entrepreneur, you understand how troublesome this situation is for your friend, but you also know she won't break the cycle by complaining about it.

The one redeeming mark the Hakurei Shrine has is the grove of cherry trees at its backyard, a particularly popular spot for flower viewing in spring. However, spring has yet to arrive, and the flowers don't blossom until a month later. When they do, however, the sakura and the sake run non-stop at the picnic parties, and the partygoers fall flat drunk. You've yet to attend one of those --because you were too young to go drinking until morning, said your father--, but according to what Marisa and Reimu have told you, the sight of the whole Gensokyo from the top of the hill framed by the falling petals is absolutely breathtaking. The sight of inebriate people doing drunken shenanigans too, but for different reasons.

None of those beautiful sights and ebullient meetings are currently present, though. A peaceful silence envelops the whole place, like the mountains of snow piling up on the courtyard and the roof. Which is somewhat strange, because Reimu always makes sure to keep her courtyard clean and presentable in her daily routine.

"I don't see the red-white," says Kogasa, not without a hint of relief. "Do you think she went off to do... miko business?"

"Probably. But let's check inside, just in case," you start to walk towards the building, while the karakasa follows closely. "I bet we'll find her under the kotatsu, trying to keep the little warmth she has."

---------------------------------------------------------------------
No. 181768
When you do find her, you see both Kogasa and you were on the right. As you predicted, Reimu is sprawled under the blankets of her table in a very un-maiden-like manner, covering herself from the cold. But, in a surprising subversion of your expectations--and confirming Kogasa's guess--, the black-haired miko is actually doing some sort of paperwork, as evidenced by the piles of documents at her both sides. Her black hair, usually combed and tied in two hair tubes and a red tie, is completely disheveled and loose, expanding like a mattress on her back. The stress and ennui have left their mark in her expression, tarnishing with wrinkles her otherwise sharp but smooth features.

Oddly, Reimu isn't aware of your presence in the slightest. She keeps on reading the paper in front of her, then picks her brush, dips it in the inkpot, draws her elaborate signature at the bottom of the sheet, blows a bit to dry the ink, places the paper in top of the left pile, takes the next one from the left, and repeat. It isn't until you hawk and cough when she notices you.

"Kosuzu? Wasn't expecting you," her voice is monotone, but her eyebrows do show surprise. She then addresses Kogasa. "And you... have we met before?"

The karakasa does not respond. Instead, she cowers behind you and lets out a scared yelp.

"Shy, aren't we? Whatever," Reimu quickly loses interest in the youkai, and fixes her dull gaze on you. More precisely, your shredded attire. "How did you ruin your clothes like that, Kosuzu? Was it that youkai? Need me to get rid of her?"

She brings a hand under the blankets, supposedly to get something from under the table--an amulet, most probably--and in response, Kogasa shrinks even more behind your back. You raise your hand to stop the miko before she opens fire.

"No! No, she didn't do anything. Well, actually yes, it was her, I tried to help her, she attacked me and we got in a fight, but it's okay, we made up and now we are partners. Sort of. Please don't hurt her..."

Reimu squints her eyes and glares at Kogasa and you, and for a moment you believe she will not heed your (admittedly shoddy) explanation and fire away. But in the end she lets out a long sigh and returns to her scribbling. She must have thought it wasn't worth all the hassle.

"If you say so," the miko points at the table, where a pot of tea and three ceramic cups stand. "Tea's over there. Sorry I can't serve it to you, but I'm a tad busy, as you can see."

"Ah, we don't mind. Thanks for the offer."

"S-sorry for the intrusion," mutters Kogasa meekly.

As you take a seat on the table and drape the blanket over your legs, you notice other two people at the other side. One of them is a petite girl with very long orange hair and a simple white shirt with the sleeves torn off, but what really strikes you is the set of two long horns sprouting from both sides of her head. The other is a grown blonde woman of exotic beauty dressed with a frilly white dress and a purple tabard over it, and although you think this is the first time you've seen her, she seems strangely familiar to you for some reason. Both of them are sound asleep, quietly snoring with any care or decorum.

"Who are those two?" You ask Reimu.

"Hm? Oh, them?" She doesn't even avert her eyes from the paper she's currently reading. "Disregard them, they're only freeloaders."

"They're youkai, aren't them? No offense, but I believe a shrine maiden shouldn't let youkai sleep at her own shrine."

"And I believe a Demon Book collector shouldn't go befriending youkai that destroy her clothes. Especially when she helped the shrine maiden to vanish other evil youkai," the miko gives you a knowing side-glance. "No offense."

"... Point taken."

Kogasa opens her mouth to say something, but she thinks it over, and in the end decides to not speak in front of Reimu and attract unwanted attention. The room falls into an awkward silence, with only the sound of Reimu's brush over the paper, the quiet breathing of the two slumbering youkai, and the occasional sip Kogasa and you take from your (lukewarm) teas. You need to tell Reimu about your participation the Mamemaki game, but you can't bring yourself to drop the bomb. Heck, you're more scared of her reaction than what your own father would say. It's kind of funny and sad at the same time.

Reimu takes the umpteenth paper from the right pile and glances at it with obvious disinterest. You take another sip. Reimu picks her brush, dips it in the inkpot, and draws her elaborate signature at the bottom of the sheet. Kogasa takes another sip and darts her eyes around, nervous. Reimu blows a bit to dry the ink, places the paper in top of the left pile, and takes the next one from the left.

Unable to take it anymore, you decide to be the one to break the silence:

"Soooooo, what are those papers, Reimu?"

"Registration contracts for that stupid game," the miko grumbles. "I've been volunteered into being the 'Arbiter', and one of my duties is to make sure the papers are in order."

"Oh, you mean the Mamemaki Game? I thought Akyuu and the direction took care of the paperwork."

"They got their hands full scheduling the stands and the street performances, so this hag roped me in-- uh, I was assigned to this job," Reimu stares at the sleeping blonde woman with contempt. "I have to read every single one of these contracts, reject those participants that attempt to bring illegal items or Spell Cards, and sign those who follow them correctly. As if I didn't have more important matters to attend!"

"If you had one of those ink seals with your own signature, you could save some time. Just saying."

Reimu stops with her brush and stares blankly at the nothingness, in that state of terrible realization you've come to call 'reevaluation of one's life choices'. However, she shakes her head to snap out of it and resumes her work.

"See? This is why I'm not good at legal stuff. I'm a miko, not a lawyer! I don't know how to be efficient at this!" Reimu lets out another sigh. She seems to have lots to spare today. "But really, what pisses me off is that all my work will be for nothing."

"How so?"

"Well, you see, the game needs someone playing the role of the Oni; someone who's willing to get chased around by these hundred or so participants," she points at the papers she's signed. "So far, nobody has applied to be 'it'. Understandable, if you ask me. Nobody likes being harassed twenty-four/seven for a whole week. And well, without the Oni, the Game can't start, simple as that. So it'll surely be cancelled, and all the hours I spent reading and signing contracts will be wasted."

If there was ever a good moment to spew the bad news to her, it is now, you realize. Otherwise you won't be able to muster the necessary courage.

"Reimu, uh, about that."

The miko, already suspecting it, puts the brush back in the inkpot and stands upright. "I don't think I like that tone... What is it?"

Without further ado, you take the Game Contract you foolishly signed and slide it across the table for Reimu to see. Even before she lays her eyes on it, a hint of a stupefied grimace already forms in her lips, and the more she reads, the more shocked she gets. In any other circumstances, seeing the unflappable Reimu flip her stuff would be an amusing spectacle to behold, but it all changes when you're the recipient of her cold ire.

"You can't be serious, Kosuzu," Reimu shakes her head, still in denial. "This is gotta be a bad joke. Tell me it's a bad joke."

You can't bring yourself to look at her in the face, so you hang your own head low and look at the blanket. "I wish it was, Reimu..."

The miko brings her hand to her head and pulls a rebel strand of her hair, looking even more stressed than she was before. However, she doesn't explode in anger as you thought she would -- maybe out of consideration for you, or probably to not awaken the two youkai sleeping at her side. Her scolding, in a barely contained shout, still tugs at your chest badly.

"I don't-- I don't believe you would be so... so dumb to join the Game, much less as the Oni! How can you even think about it!? For crying out loud, you don't even know how to defend yourself!"

"Actually, she did defeat me," Kogasa jumps in. "Not in the most conventional way, true, but--"

"Shut it! Your input is not needed," Reimu snaps at the karakasa, who shrinks herself until she almost hides under the table. "There's gotta be a strong reason for you to go through this. I want the whole story, Kosuzu... And don't leave any details, you hear me!?"

By the looks of it, Reimu isn't going to let you out of the hook this time. Well, now that the beans have been spilled, there's nothing else to do but keep rambling forward...

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

When you finish your lengthy sob story, Reimu lets out yet another weary sigh, this one much longer than the rest. She rubs her temples with her thumb and index finger, and her eyes are closed in deep thought.

"Honestly, you really have a knack for getting in big troubles..."

"But you always were there to get me out of them, right?" You say, desperate. "I know I've asked you for help too many times before, but now, more than ever, I need you, Reimu! Can't you do something about it?"

The miko crosses her arms and gives you a pitiable glare, shooting down your last hopes.

"I wish I could, Kosuzu, I really do, but not even I holds authority to invalidate a signed contract," she shakes her head. "Moreso when the Yakumo are involved."

"The Yakumo?"

"In short, this hag right here," she points at the blonde woman again with her head, "is an extremely powerful youkai that, along with six other sages, erected the Hakurei Barrier and founded Gensokyo as we know it. Because of that, her family holds a great deal of political and magical power, and even the Hakurei must listen to what she has to say. That Ran kitsune you met? That's her shikigami."

"So basically, Master got into a bad deal with the most influential family of Gensokyo, and she can't weasel her way out of it," Kogasa sums up.

"Basically, yeah," Reimu nods. "But, did I hear that right? 'Master'? I didn't know you were into that kind of thing, Kosuzu."

You aren't in the mood for jokes right now. Your spirits have sunk so low, you'd need a crane to get them out of the metaphorical well they're drowning in.

"So what you're saying is that I'm royally screwed, right?" You whine. "Is there really nothing I can do?"

Reimu scoots closer to you and pats your shoulder. "A piece of advice, from friend to friend: give it up. There is no way you can win the Game. You'll only hurt yourself, or even get killed. It's not worth it."

"Wh- How can you say that, Reimu!?" You exclaim. "I-I can't lose my books like this!"

"If I can be bold, Kosuzu, that's probably for the best."

You are at a loss of words. You certainly weren't expecting your most trusted friend to betray you like this.

"That kitsune has a point. Those Demon Books are extremely dangerous, you know that. As a shrine maiden, one of my duties is to protect humans from the evil forces that threaten their well-being, and those books are pure evil in parchment," Reimu pauses to take a sip from her own cup. "The only reason I didn't expropriate your collection myself was because of our friendship, because I trusted you would be careful with them. But what am I to do if another person denounces your malpractice? Your Demon Books are a threat to the Human Village, that's undeniable. I don't want you to risk your life for something that can kill other people on the long run."

"... How... How can you do this to me...?"

You start sobbing, and Reimu removes her arm from your shoulders awkwardly. In her place, Kogasa returns the hug you gave her before, but it doesn't ease your stress. You know fully well Reimu and Ran are in the right. Your collection comprises books of unspeakable ancient evils, waiting to be unleashed upon this world and cause chaos. But even so, you spent your whole life reuniting your money and spending your time to build the greatest library of rare tomes in Gensokyo-- no, of the world. Losing everything like this is just...

"No. No. No. I won't let it end like this," you mutter. "I won't allow it, Reimu. I won't let that damn kitsune take away everything I worked so hard for!"

"Kosuzu, think about what you're saying."

"Oh, I thought about it. I had a whole week to think about it. And I had enough thinking and moping around!" You stand up, all flared up. "You are going to teach me danmaku, and I will take up arms, and I will win the Game, and I will get back my books! Just you see!"

Reimu glares at you straight in the eye, piercing your very mind with that calm stare of hers. But you are too worked up to back down, and so you hold her gaze with your own. Meanwhile, Kogasa shakes her head to you and her and back to you, watching the sparks fly with in distress. Finally, Reimu gives up and lets out--you guessed it--another long sigh.

"Oh, fine, suit yourself. I know I can't win when you get this stubborn," she shrugs. "But let me ask you one thing: are you really sure you want to do this?"

[]"..."
[]"You're worrying too much, Reimu. I'm more resourceful and capable than you think. I can handle myself out there."
[]"It's not just about me. That fox insulted and accused my best client too! I won't let her image be tarnished so!"
[]"I for one welcome the challenge. I like to live life on the edge every once in a while. I say, let'em come!"
[]"That kitsune thinks she can trick me like this... Ha! Let's see what she says when I outfox her! She won't see it coming."
[]"The Yakumo are about to find out what happens when you piss me off! Anybody else gets in my way, I'll beat them too!"
[]"... Yeah, you're right. This is way out of my scope. I should listen to you and just give up."
[]Write-in.


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

Again, sorry for the tardiness and the excessive length. How come nobody has called me a faggot yet? I totally deserve it.
I had to rewrite this scene several times to fit Kogasa's inclusion, which I hadn't planned for. Anyway, here's the last choice that counts towards Kosuzu's personality for the rest of the story. Although at this point, it won't matter much, but it will still serve to flesh out our heroine's motivation to participate in the Game.

>>181740
Those associated weapons are considered items the same way Fox's blaster and Link's sword are in SSB. Which is to say, they aren't.

Also, I believe Reimu didn't use Yukari's umbrella per se. Instead, Yukari lent her powers to Reimu via her communication orb.

And lastly, there are legal combat items and illegal ones. Reimu will explain it in detail on the next updates.
No. 181769
[x]"I for one welcome the challenge. I like to live life on the edge every once in a while. I say, let'em come!"

Bold Little Bell.
No. 181770
[x] "I for one welcome the challenge. I like to live life on the edge every once in a while. I say, let'em come!"

We're here to collect books and seduce youkai, and someone's threatening to steal our books.
No. 181771
[x]"I for one welcome the challenge. I like to live life on the edge every once in a while. I say, let'em come!"

Kinda banking on them tripping over themselves trying to get to Kosuzu.
No. 181773
>>181768
[x]"I for one welcome the challenge. I like to live life on the edge every once in a while. I say, let'em come!
No. 181775
[x] "Well, no. In fact, I'm absolutely sure I don't want to."
- [x] "It's just that the consequences of not doing this are something I want even less."

Also considering [ ] Return Yukari's umbrella, although this might not be the right time for it.
No. 181779
[x] "Well, no. In fact, I'm absolutely sure I don't want to."
- [x] "It's just that the consequences of not doing this are something I want even less."
No. 181782
[x] "Well, no. In fact, I'm absolutely sure I don't want to."
- [x] "It's just that the consequences of not doing this are something I want even less."

>>181775
[x] Take Yukari's hat. Could always use more armor.
No. 181785
Called for the bold, defiant response.

>>181782
>stealing a toohoo's headwear
You monster
No. 181786
[]"The Yakumo are about to find out what happens when you piss me off! Anybody else gets in my way, I'll beat them too!" 
No. 181792
[x]"I for one welcome the challenge. I like to live life on the edge every once in a while. I say, let'em come!"

It's only after you've spouted your declaration of intent that you realize you should've stayed your tongue and think it over more carefully. After all, it was this hot-blood of yours what got you into this mess in the first place. If someone else was eavesdropping on you, that person would already know who is participating as the Oni. Anonymity is your best ally in the Game, and you might have blown it off before it even started.

Thankfully, the only people who were witnesses to your boasting are Reimu and Kogasa -- the only two you can trust. Those other two youkai are still sound asleep, and aren't in any condition to listen--

"Uwaaaaaa..." The blonde lady wakes up with a big yawn, and stretches her slender gloved arms in the air. "What's with all this racket? Can't a lady have her beauty nap in peace?"

"Ah, Yukari," Reimu puts on her straight 'I-don't-give-a-single-bother' face again, as if she didn't just have a heated argument with you. "Haven't you hibernated long enough on your own house? You've hogged precious blanket space from my guests."

"Oh, did I?" The youkai rubs her eyes, and then she finally notices your presence. You swear she flashes you a knowing smile, but it's gone the next second. "My, where are my modals? My name is Yukari Yakumo. I apologize for my rudeness; it wasn't my intention to cause inconveniences to Reimu and her friends."

Kogasa returns the greeting with a rigid bow, still nervous, but you remain silent and shoot a cold glare back at the youkai. <<You've caused me much more inconvenience than taking up space.>>

Yukari, as if she's reading your mind, smirks dauntlessly at you, which greatly disturbs you. It doesn't help that the feeling of familiarity grows stronger by the second. <<Where did I met her before...?>>

"So, Reimu, did you finish the papers?" Yukari addresses your friend. "I don't think I need to remind you, but the direction wants all the applications checked and delivered before tomorrow's noon."

"Sheesh, I'm on it, I'm on it, don't nag me," groans the miko. She goes to pick the brush again, but she's struck by a sudden bout of realization, and glares at Yukari. "You knew this, didn't you? You knew Kosuzu would apply for the role of Oni, so you had me do the paperwork despite the talks of cancellation."

"Wait, this is all your doing!?" You stand up, enraged. "I'm going to risk my life, and be pursued by hundred of hunters, youkais, and who knows how many fairies, because of you?"

"Now, now, now, let's not get carried away," Yukari waves her hand dismissively. "It's true that I had notice of a person interested in participating in the Game as the Oni. However, I had absolutely no clue about his or her identity until now. The one who 'forced' you to enter the Game was my shikigami."

"Your shikigami..." You have a feeling she's lying. Or at least, that she's not telling the whole truth.

"Ran," Reimu says. "So you're blaming your servant now, Yukari?"

"I'm not blaming her. She was only doing the job I commanded her," the blonde youkai explains. "I ordered her to pick someone willing to play the Mamemaki Game, and offer her the great prize. And she chose her, simple as that."

"And why me, of all people?" You ask. "I'm not strong, I'm not a fighter. Heck, I don't even know danmaku, for crying out loud!"

"That is what I'm still wondering. My guess is that she had her eye on you long before the Game was organized," Yukari takes a fan out of somewhere and fans herself with it, covering her mouth. "Honestly, I don't know what she was thinking. I explicitly told her to look for a strong and capable fighter. And forgive my forthrightness, young girl, but you don't seem to... ah, meet those requirements."

"You're wrong!"

Of all the things you weren't expecting, Kogasa jumping out to interrupt the conversation was what you were not expecting the most. Reimu's also surprised by the karakasa (one more point to Kogasa for that), but Yukari seems completely unfazed by her. Unfortunately, the blue-haired youkai doesn't take well being the center of attention of the two most powerful individuals in Gensokyo, plus her master.

"Ah, uh, what I m-m-mean is..." Kogasa stutters. "Mast- eh, Kosuzu might not be good at Spell Card duels, true, and she hasn't fought a real battle in her life... But! B-but she has her heart in the right place! Uh, metaphorically, I mean. I know for a fact that her literal heart is where it's supposed to be. A-anyway, she's kind and sympathetic, she helped me in my time of need, a-and she listened me out too! My master might be weak of body, but her spirit is strong!"

Reimu and Yukari exchange a look, the miko flabbergasted and the youkai amused. You, on the other hand, have mixed feelings about Kogasa's discourse. While the uplifting compliments are nice, the matter is that you don't want to be in the Game, and this doesn't help.

"Very touching speech, but it takes more than a kind heart to win the Game," Reimu finally speaks. "It's as Yukari said; this is a role for experienced fighters, not philanthropists. The other participants won't give a fairy arse if you're Gensokyo's idol or not."

"An idol, you say?"

Yukari arches her eyebrows ever so slightly, and there's a strange gleam shining on her purple irises. You only knew her for five minutes (or did you?), but that's enough for you to understand that those calculating eyes don't spell anything good.

"... What devious plan are you plotting this time, Yukari?" The miko seems to share your bad feeling. And since she's known her for much longer than you... "My hands are already full with your stupid Game. I don't have time for another of your shenanigans."

"Nothing of the sort, my dear Hakurei. Your worry is unwarranted." The blonde woman then turns her head at you, as she closes her fan. "Your tsukumogami companion has convinced me. The audience wants to see spectacular danmaku battles, but perhaps a non-action laddette like you will spice up the Mamemaki festival in ways no-one will be expecting. A good-spirited Oni, who instead of terrorizing and kidnapping people, goes swaying and conquering hearts everywhere she goes. Now that's an interesting spin to the tradition, don't you think?"

"Uh, yes...?" You respond, confused.

"I'm looking forward to your performance, Kosuzu. I'm sure you won't disappoint me. Now, Reimu," Yukari speaks to the miko, who is caught by surprise by the sudden turn in the conversation. "Weren't you going to teach her danmaku?"

"Eh?"

"You wouldn't let your friend wander alone in the forest, while she's stalked by bad men and feral youkai, without any means of defense, would you?" The youkai runs a finger down Reimu's chest and sinks her nail over her heart area. You can tell by the miko's reaction that she's not comfortable with it, but she doesn't do anything to stop Yukari. "The contract absolves you of any responsibility, but I know you well. You'd still feel guilty if something... bad happened to her. And seeing as how Kosuzu is disposed to participate no matter what..."

"Ahhhhh, alright, alright! I'll do it!" The shrine maiden throws up her arms in the air, defeated, and stands up. "Everyone, go outside and wait for me at the yard. I need to get some preparations ready."

Having said that, she walks over the sleeping horned girl and exits through the left room, leading to the inside. Is it okay that she leaves you in such company? Yukari throws you a knowing wink, that manipulative hag. What's her deal? Her violet eyes are impenetrable to your scrutiny; you're incapable of discerning what's going on inside that mind of hers. Kogasa just shrugs and smiles at you meekly, content with how she did her part. If only you could say the same...

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

This update was growing longer and longer, so I decided to cut it in half before I missed the deadline again. Expect the next update early tomorrow, and sorry for not giving you options yet.
No. 181798
Why do I expect Yukari to try to get some idol singing contest put in?
No. 181805
>A good-spirited Oni, who instead of terrorizing and kidnapping people, goes swaying and conquering hearts everywhere she goes.

I like where this is going.
No. 181814
Ten minutes later--although it felt like a whole day to you--, Reimu comes back from the shabby warehouse, loaded with boxes and training dummies. She had combed her bed hair and put on her typical red lace and tubes. Her unconventional miko attire reveals her (in)famous armpits and her juicy calves to the cold air, but she seems completely unfazed by the harsh climate. If you didn't know your friend any better, you'd say she's preparing for battle, or an incident.

Until you see her serious, stern face; a facade you're not familiar with. The person in front of you is not Reimu the aloof girl you've always known, but Reimu the Shrine Maiden of Paradise, a complete stranger. All bets are off when she detaches herself from her easy-going persona. The miko lets her cargo fall to the snow, and opens one of the boxes.

"Kosuzu, catch."

She produces something you can't quite identify before she throws it at you, and then it hits you. Haha, good joke. Everybody laugh. Roll on snare drum. No, it's too early for the curtains.

"We're off to a great start, I see," Yukari sneers.

Rubbing your nose, you crouch down and pick the offending object from the ground. It's a paddle made of barnished cherry wood, suspending several crotal bells strung with coiled brass wires in a tree patern. You remember seeing this on a book about Shintoism and Kabuki theatre plays; in fact, you vaguely remember Reimu using this very instrument a few years ago in a public performance at the Village.

***You obtain an item: Kagura-suzu***

"A kagura-suzu?" You ask.

"After long and careful deliberation--"

Yukari lets out a quiet snort from behind the fan, but Reimu ignores her altogether.

"... I believe this tool is the most indicated for you. Don't let its looks deceive you; it's a powerful artifact. We shrine maidens use it in purifying dances and divination rituals."

"Oh, oh, are you going to teach master the Kagura dance?" Kogasa asks.

"Of course not, you dolt!" She bops the karakasa in the head with her gohei, and the youkai lets out a whine. "Time's short, so I'll run you through a crash course of danmaku. You ready?"

"Ready as I'll ever be," you nod.

"Fine, now listen up, this is important. Danmaku is all about allowing humans and youkai to duel without..."

Reimu goes on to explain the theory and basis behind the Spell Card Rules, lives, blah blah blah, power, bombs, blah blah blah, Spell Breaks, blah blah blah. Your exhausted mind dozes away and tunes her voice off. You've already heard this spiel from Marisa several times, whenever she told you about the last bunch of fairies she obliterated, or filled you in on the last incident and how she totally kicked butts. You wish to tell Reimu to skip the rules, that you are already pretty familiar with them and get to the real deal already. But when she's all serious like this, you can't bring yourself to interrupt her, so you just stand there and nod automatically every time the shrine maiden finishes a sentence. Yukari seems to share your sentiments, as she barely conceals a bored yawn behind her slender hand, and Kogasa is just as restless.

"... and so, as long as you manage to shoot your opponent a lot, and not get shot yourself, you should be fine," Reimu finally finishes. "Now let's put that into practice. Step forward."

<<About freaking time.>> You do as you're told, and place yourself in the spot Reimu marked with her foot, facing the target dummy she put in there sometime between her lengthy explanation.

"Remember: empty your mind of superfluous thoughts. Find a definite image, memory or emotion you hold dear and latch on to it. Extend your consciousness to the catalyst in your hands; in your case, the kagura-suzu. Picture the danmaku pattern you wish to create in your head, and release."

"And don't stab yourself in the leg, that's important!" Kogasa jokes.

"Hark hark, very funny," you groan. "Still, that sounds a bit, uh, over the top, maybe? Marisa had a shorter and simpler guide to use her Master Spark."

"Yes, but she's a magician, she has a mini-hakkero and she knows a little bit more about danmaku than you do," says Reimu. "You, on the other hand, aren't versed in the magic arts and lack a magic furnace."

"Most of my books hold esoteric knowledge. Does that count?"

"No, Kosuzu, Demon Books don't count as magic powers. In fact, if you ever try to use any spell from one of those books, I'll bury you and your library in amulets, is that clear?"

Taken aback by her stern tone, you swallow and nod weakly. With Reimu the Shrine Maiden, it's better not to take any chances.

"Good. Start with something simple: Fire a single bullet in a straight line and knock the target down."

Right, focus. You take down a deep breath and run down the guideline Reimu gave you. Empty mind. Definite image... The kagura-suzu itself will work, for starters. Then, extend consciousness. Picture a bullet flying straight, and--

"You almost got it, Kosuzu!" Kogasa cheers you on.

You release the bullet that was forming on top of your instrument. The white sphere of light slowly flies a couple of meters, bobbing up and down... and then it vanishes in an underwhelming puff. Reimu can't help but let out a weary sigh, and Yukari chuckles.

"Oh dear, it's your mother all over again, Reimu."

"Don't bring Mom into this," the shrine maiden snaps. "At least she could break boulders in half with the back of her hand. She didn't even need danmaku in the first place."

"Hey, don't worry, master," Kogasa, oblivious to the miko and the youkai's quarreling, approaches you and pats your shoulder reassuringly. "We've all been amateurs at some point. You just need practice."

"I know, I know, but..." You look at the kagura-suzu and shake it. The bells jingle with a gentle tone, but it doesn't ease your stress. "Do I have enough time to get good before the Game?"

"No, you don't," Reimu answers your rhetorical question with her trademark bluntness. "That's why we can't afford to dilly-dally like this. Try again."

She's true, you won't accomplish anything berating yourself. This is going to be a long, tough night, but the days ahead will be even worse. This is just preparation for your challenges during the next week. Renewing your resolve, you grip your catalyst and concentrate for a second time, putting your whole being into the danmaku.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------
No. 181816
The sky has turned pitch black, painted with infinite dots of light. The cold air seeps through your clothes, freezes your sweat and grips your achy bones. You've lost your sense of time, but if you had to hazard a guess, you'd say you've been practicing for about two hours... in vain. Your mind feels like it's about to explode, and your labored breath can't supply enough oxygen to your brain and muscles.

But you can't give up yet. Not now. Not until you can shoot a stream of bullets correctly! You don't want to make a fool out of yourself when you face your enemies!

"Not good enough. Once more!" Shouts Reimu from the yard's porch.

"You can do it!" Kogasa waves her arm at you, giving you much needed encouragement.

Right. Concentrate. Empty. Definite. Extend. Picture, and--

"Ei!"

You cry as you shake the kagura-suzu and release the energy. The bells chime with the soothing sound you've come to memorize, and three bullets come out flying in a straight line at a moderate speed. Your danmaku flies true towards your target and hits its torso. One strike, two strikes, the third one finally manages to topple the dummy, and it falls to the snow with a satisfying 'plof'.

"Yes! I did it!" You scream and jump in excitement, celebrating your victory.

You hear applause for your successful performance; Kogasa cheers you on with her cute enthusiasm, and Yukari regales you with an elegant clap of her gloved hands, which speaks volumes considering she's been still as a statue this whole time. But Reimu remains completely unamused, unflappable, unchanged.

"Reimu?"

You shoot your friend a pleading glance, as you wait for her verdict. The shrine maiden slowly raises and strides towards you, not once breaking eye contact with you. Her serene, neutral expression hides her true thoughts and sentiments. You find yourself holding your breath as she slowly opens her mouth and...

"... You're ready," she declares.

"Really?"

"Of course not! That level of shooting is below Easy mode, and we're out of time," she huffs. "Congratulations! You're a failure, and the Game hasn't even began yet."

"That's rude!" Kogasa complains. "You can't just brush her aside like that!"

"Aren't you being a bit too hard on her?" Says Yukari, not too pleased about the maiden's response. "She's improved a lot for a complete novice in just a couple of hours. It's not enough, I know, but she works hard. Which is more than I can say about you when you were in her shoes, or have you forgotten?" You see Reimu wincing at that, but she quickly regains her composure. "Your friend might not be talented like you, but she isn't a lost cause yet."

"Probably. But she's still a year too early to be facing a youkai in a duel," Reimu shakes her head. "Just forget about it and go home, Kosuzu. This is way out of your league."

The shrine maiden begins to pack the things back in the boxes, under the disapproving gaze of Yukari and Kogasa. A wave of anguish and dismay crashes over your head like a bucket of ice, and you slump your shoulders in defeat. And yet...

"So I failed, did I?" You mutter without looking at Reimu's face.

"Yes," she nods.

"Did I?"

"Yes."

"Did I?"

"Kosuzu, where is this going?"

"Where it's going is, I don't need you!" You explode. "You've only been insulting and criticizing me, even after I gave my best! How can you expect me to get good if you're not willing to lend me a hand?"

"With only two hours of practice, I wasn't expecting you to learn anything, period."

"No, you're just a terrible coach, and a worse friend! You couldn't help me cancel the contract, you don't want to help me with danmaku... Bah!" You deliver a kick to the felled dummy in frustration. "Go away and finish signing those stupid papers! I'll put this Game on myself!"

"Pffft, yourself?"

"That's right, fancy armpits, myself!" You walk up to her, seething with rage, and stand on your toes to her eye level. "So why don't you take your little failure, roll it up sideways and stick it up your--"

"Hey hey hey, stop that, gals!"

Out of nowhere, a new character enters the stage. She comes in hot, leaving a literal trail of stars behind her broom, and lands with a 'controlled crash' as she likes to call it. After the resulting cloud dust sets up, Marisa Kirisame flaunts her witchin' hat and her frilly ebony dress, as she jumps between Reimu and you to put some peace between both of you.

"Fighting is never good!" The blonde magician starts. "As fellow protagonists we have to have respect for each other and accept our differences without enmity. There's not much to be gained from hostility, you dig? Heh, I said something good for once, and it rhymed!"

The crowd goes silent, and not a single 'HO' was given that day. When Marisa realizes her entrance didn't elicit any reaction, she steps back and rubs her neck awkwardly. "Oh come on, I was just trying to liven up the mood..."

"Tch, fine!" Reimu shakes her head in annoyance and turns her back on you. "Since I'm such a bad friend, why don't you have Mari coach you? And you're right; I have lots of paperwork to deal with. Leave me out of this; I wash my hands. Now where did I left the M◯x...?"

Without further ado, the shrine maiden walks away and goes back inside, not before taking a yellow can from one of the boxes on the way. The cold wind, as if sensing the tension in the ambient, dramatically picks up again and raises a mist of snowdust. Nobody dares to be the first one the break the silence -- and because you're still worked up, it's probably for the best. Eventually, someone has to speak up, and Marisa decides to be that person.

"So... what the hell just happened? Did I pick a bad time to pay a visit? And how come Lil' Bell is here at these hours?"

"Actually, you couldn't have better timing," answers Yukari. "We were just teaching Kosuzu how to fight in Spell Card duels."

"Really? That's awesome!" The witch takes your hands and gives them a vigorous shake. "Last week you were sitting quietly with your books, and now you feel the thrill for adventure. How fast the kids grow up, eh? Hahaha! But, how come the sudden interest? You were never too thrilled about danmaku."

"Oh, well, you see..." You stammer. "I, ah, I heard about the Mamemaki Game and I thought, 'hey, this could be fun', so... I signed up!"

"Wow, talk about unexpected..."

Technically you're not telling a lie, only a half truth, but even so you feel awful for not being honest to Marisa. After all, there's a great chance you'll meet as rivals in the next week... The mere thought of it makes you shiver in panic.

"Kosuzu asked Reimu to teach her danmaku, and they practiced a lot," explains Kogasa for you, "but she lost her patience and they got really angry and scary!"

"Who lost her patience, Suzu or Reirei?"

"Yes," Yukari says succinctly.

"Oh," Marisa looks at you, then at the door from where Reimu disappeared. "Yeah, you two have tendency to... uh, burst."

"Since it came down to this, I was wondering if you could take her place and teach me," you ask her.

"Anything for you, my dear librarian!" Marisa smiles and ruffles your hair affectionately. <<Wow, that was much easier than I expected.>> "How far did you get before I arrived?"

"Reimu ran her down the rules and the basics, and she taught her how to shoot basic bullets," Yukari explains. "I believe she's ready to create her first Spell Card."

"Your first Spell Card, eh? Ah, the memories..." The magicians sighs in melancholy. "Conjuring the first Spell is like a rite of passage, or a coming of age. It'll be difficult at first, but once you get used to it, you'll be making your own Cards as easy as ABC. It's super fun, you'll see!"

"I-i'll trust in your guidance, Marisa," you bow in appreciation.

"That's not how you should be calling me."

"Huh?"

"Sensei, Lil' Bell. I want to hear you say it, come on!"

"Absolutely not!"

"Boo, you're no fun," she pouts. "M'kay, I need paper, brush and a quiet place."

Marisa takes your hand and drags you inside the Shrine, strutting like she owns the place. Before you know it, you find yourself in another empty room, sitting in a cushion in front of Yukari and Marisa. Since there were only three spots, Kogasa was forced to perch herself alongside you, but she doesn't seem to mind in the slightest. If anything, she looks positively more relaxed.

"Alright, let's get started. First, I want you to focus, Kosuzu."

You nod and follow Marisa's indications, emptying your mind and keeping it still as the waters of the pond behind the shrine.

"Now let your thoughts loose, let your conscience wander freely. Concentrate on the first thing that comes to mind, whatever that is, and don't let it go."

You do what you're told, and...

"I think... I think I hear something inside my head," you tell Marisa.

"Describe it. What kind of sound are you hearing? What feeling does it awaken on you?"

[]A song that repels your misfortune.
[]A chime that soothes your pain.
[x]A tune that uplifts your spirits.
[]A ring that disconcerts your opponent.
[]A cry that terrifies your enemies.


Also, what name do you wish to give your Spell Card?

[]Have Marisa name it for you.
[]Write-in.


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

And finally, you acquire your first Spell Card, and you get to choose its name and effect! According to Kosuzu's defined personality, by default your Spell Card will work as a buff spell in battle, but you can change it if you want another. Each one will have different effects either on you or your enemies, so choose wisely.
No. 181817
[x] A chime that soothes your pain.
[x] Warding Sign [Bell-Shaped Shield]
No. 181820
[x] A chime that soothes your pain.
[x] Warding Sign [Bell-Shaped Shield]

Sure, I can get behind this. Kosuzu could sure as hell use the defense buff.
No. 181822
[X] A cry that terrifies your enemies.
[X] Death knell 「Three Chimes at Midnight」

Thanks alot Kogasa.
No. 181832
[x] A cry that terrifies your enemies.
[x] Death knell 「Three Chimes at Midnight」

I like the name of this one.
No. 181833
[x] A cry that terrifies your enemies.
[x] Death knell 「Three Chimes at Midnight」
No. 181834
>>181820
I don't know if I should come forth and say it... Oh, well, here it goes: the soothing chime is not the defense boost, but the healing spell. If you truly want to aim for the defense buff, you ought to try luck with another option.
No. 181836
>>181834

Oh. Well then, in that case, please change >>181820 to:

[x]A song that repels your misfortune.
[x]Protection Sign [Lucky Bell]
No. 181837
>>181822
>>181832
>>181833

This can tottaly be a tag-team spellcard with Kogasa. Kinda like Seiga and Yoshika do.
No. 181839
So the majority voted for the debuffing spell, huh? I find that quite surprising. Giving the sweet and caring Kosuzu a Spell Card titled Death Knell 「Three Chimes at Midnight」 seems kinda out of character...

Then again, >>181837's idea sounds very appealing. After all, bells are often used in terror movies to instill tension, which could work wonders with Kogasa's ability to surprise humans. In the end, it ultimately depends on how well you use it.
No. 181840
>>181839

>out of character

I disagree. Kosozu collects Demon Books for a living, im sure she is intimately familiar with dark magic/debilitating effects/curses. She might not want people to see that side of her; is perhaps why we are just now being exposed to her darker side.
No. 181841
>>181839
>Giving the sweet and caring Kosuzu a Spell Card titled Death Knell 「Three Chimes at Midnight」 seems kinda out of character...

Look at it this way. Kosuzu cares about her new friend Kogasa so much that she's willing to base her very first spell card on her. If that's not the sign of a sweet and caring friend I don't know what is. Especially taking >>181837 into account, this spell card is basically harnessing the power of teamwork and friendship to make it work.
No. 181842
>>181839

The girl's got claws, she's just never had to use them before. What she holds most dear is being threatened; better believe that she's gonna get serious.

Besides, Kosuzu's a big-sister type, right? What kind of big-sister wouldn't come to the defense of their little siblings?
No. 181845
>>181839

In addition to what everyone else said, it seems like the difference between Kosuzu and her opponents is so big that debuffing her enemies it might do more than buffing or healing herself would.

Also, it could probably represent how she's feeling right now with so much on the line and so little to work with. Her own death knell, so to speak.
No. 181859
I have always been a big fan of debuffs/status effects in games. Even more so than their respective counterparts. Dark Shaman Kosuzu route is very welcome in my book.
No. 181863
[x]A cry that terrifies your enemies.
[x]"Death Knell 「Three Chimes at Midnight」"


"Do you read horror books, by any chance?" You ask the three, after careful consideration. "Not you, Marisa. I know for a fact you've 'borrowed' some from Suzunaan."

"Eh, I told ya I'd return them when I die, right?" The magician replies, chuckling. Still the unrepentant burglar, you see.

"I believe I still have my collection of horror books somewhere... I used to be an avid reader, you know," says Yukari. "Perhaps you should direct that question to your companion instead."

"You kidding?" Kogasa exclaims offended. "Terror is my middle name! I've studied countless of those stories you humans tell each other at bonfires, so that I can spook my victims better!"

"Heh, I still have to see you put that knowledge to good use," Marisa scoffs. "Didn't they tell you that paper umbrellas stopped being scary since last century?"

"Knock that off, would you?" You cut her off. "Kogasa can be legitimately scary when she puts her heart on it. I vouch for that."

That greatly pleases the karakasa, who has to contain herself to not throw herself at your arms. Little does she know you weren't defending her just for the sake of stopping Marisa's uncalled harassment. Fighting the creepy clingy Kogasa is an experience you don't want to repeat ever again.

"Bah, you haven't seen the face of true terror yet," shrugs the magician, while she takes her hakkero out of her pocket, throws it in the air and catches it again in a practiced motion. "Little spirits and stray umbrellas stop being scary once you learn how to shoot magic bullets."

"Weren't you going to help her with that?" Kogasa says. "I still have to see you put your boasting to good use."

Marisa frowns, insulted by that hit to her pride, and eyes the karakasa with animosity. "You trying to pick a fight? What makes you think the third time's gonna be different, hun?"

Kogasa doesn't talk back, but she's all too happy to return the stare. If she glared at you with those disturbing eyes, you would be one jumpscare short of wetting your pants in fright, but the blonde magician doesn't seem intimidated in the slightest. Maybe her claim that firepower brings confidence is true after all. The atmosphere turns tense, and you expect one of them to lunge at the other's throat any moment now...

Until Yukari stands up and brings her own overbearing stare to the strife. At the same time, an unnatural pressure fills the room and weights on everybody's shoulders.

"Ladies, I want to get this over with soon," her calm voice hides an implicit threat. "Let's set our differences and quarrels aside for the time being and lend Kosuzu a hand at once. There's not much to be gained from hostility, right, Marisa?"

If there is something that the black-white hated more than being insulted by a "weak" tsukumogami, that's looking like an hypocrite in front of a powerful youkai and one of her best friends. Marisa had no choice but to back down, but not before shooting the karakasa another death glare. You can't help but wonder what's wrong with her. She usually isn't this belligerent or spiteful to anybody, not even her worst enemies. Why is she picking on Kogasa? What did the karakasa do to her?

"Okay, okay..." Marisa sighs. "So, why did you bring that up, Kosuzu?"

"Oh, yes. You know when the protagonists arrive at the abandoned village in the middle of a storm in the night, and all of a sudden a lighting falls and the church's bells ring and it's all very spooky?" You explain. "Well, I heard those bells in my head. Three chimes, sending shivers down the spine."

"Oh?" Yukari arches an eyebrow in mild surprise and amusement. "I wasn't expecting such a dark theme from a gentle girl like you."

This provokes a hearty chuckle from Marisa. "Nah, she's at that age. It's just a phase. It'll pass in a year or so."

"Ah, is this what you call 'shuneebeeyouh' or something?" And Kogasa also joins the let's-poke-fun-at-poor-Kosuzu bandwagon. Great.

"Oh my god, you don't understand! It's not a phase!" You protest. "I'm super serious!"

Truth be told, you do have a good reason for going with Death Knell, but you don't feel like sharing it with the others. They might get the wrong idea, especially Kogasa. Gosh, if Kogasa heard about it, you wouldn't see the end of her... excessive adoration, to put it mildly.

"If you say so," Marisa grabs the paper she requested earlier, dribbled a few sigils and scribbles in a weird magic language, and hands it to you. "Now, recall that sound, and focus on this paper, as if you were to cast a danmaku barrier."

You hold the magic paper in your hands, bring it close to your chest, and concentrate. The bell tolls three times in your head. Your hair stands on end (metaphorically), and you feel goosebumps running down your skin (not so metaphorically). The overwhelming sensation of fear and dread paralyzes you, and you freeze, unable to prepare against the terrors of the dark.

When you open your eyes again, the card throbs with magical power -- your power.

"Is this it?" You mutter. "This is my own Spell Card?"

"Not quite yet. There's still one tiny little thing we must do," Marisa says, looking at the wall behind you. Or rather, she's thinking about the person behind it. "And we might have a little problem in our hands with that."

"What?"

"In order to legalize a Spell Card and the next ones you make on your own, the Hakurei Maiden must sign her approval on that paper," Yukari explains.

"Oh..."

Yes, that might be a problem, what with the huge fallout you've had with her. She said she didn't want to take part in this, and she "conveniently" forgot to mention she was the only person in Gensokyo that can authorize you to use Spell Cards... This reeks of a last ditch attempt to force you out of the game by default. How could she do this to you!?

"But do not fret, little brave girl!" The blonde youkai goes on, speaking in secretive hushes. "Because I have a plan to circumvent this obstacle."

Your interest picked, Marisa, Kogasa and you lean towards her, and Yukari lets herself show a devious grin.

"It's very simple. You only need to keep Reimu distracted and entertained. Meanwhile I will swap one of the contracts from the pile for your paper. If all goes well, she'll write her signature up without even noticing, and voila! Spell Card GET!"

"That's dishonorable!" You gasp in indignation. "Tricking her into giving her consent to something she knows nothing about just-- just..."

"Refresh my memory, but didn't this whole drama start because someone didn't read her contract before signing up?" She asks, while looking at you sternly. "What difference makes one measly little paper in the pile? I can assure you Reimu isn't even looking at those contracts when she signs them up."

A wave of disgust and spite washes over your chest. <<If only I could slap you across that smug, machinating mouth of yours...>>

"I gotta agree with Lil' Bell here," Marisa butts in. "Even for you, this stunt is plain Machiavellian."

"Machi-what?" Parrots Kogasa. "When did food enter the equation?"

"No, Kogasa, it's not about food. It means what Yukari's suggesting is a sly, rascally, devious thing to do."

"I prefer the term 'cunning', thank you very much," huffs Yukari, pretending to be offended.

"Even so, I won't deceive my friend like this," states the magician. "I'm sorry, but don't count me in on this."

"Come on, Marisa, now you're getting cold feet? This wouldn't be the first time you lied to her. Not by a long shot."

Now it's the time for Marisa to be on the receiving end of Yukari's piercing stare, and she can't do anything but hang her head, part in shame, part in impotence. It looks that in the dirty laundry airing department, the blonde youkai has no rival.

"Remember that you only need to take care of the distraction," Yukari continues. "The one who will be doing all the 'dirty work' is me. Perhaps that will ease your conscience."

"Just taking part in this is bad enough," you mutter. "I cannot lie to Reimu like this, no matter how angry I am at her. She's my friend, and she's a good person at heart."

"Bah, you humans and your weird sense of 'honor'," the blonde youkai scoffs. "But let me tell you one thing. I've know Reimu far longer than both of you. I've watched over her, trained her since she was just an infant. If there's something I've learned about her, it's that once she has her mind fixed on something, she won't yield. Right now, she's convinced that letting you participate in the Game is a terrible idea, and that it will cause your harm. And while she might come off as stubborn and rude, she truly cares for you, Kosuzu Motoori. That is why she won't sign your Spell Card."

The worst part is that, despite your wishes, Yukari's absolutely right. Incapable of coming with a good retort to that, you grind your teeth and mull over Yukari's words, as they gnaw at you from the inside.

"If you think you can change her mind, then please, by all means try," she continues. "But as I said before, I want to wrap this thing up quickly. I am a very busy youkai, and I have matters to attend to elsewhere, so I can't stay here all night. My offer to help is only for a limited period. So, what say you?"

You glance sideways at Marisa, silently asking her for help, but you notice that she's as hesitant as you are. And Kogasa, as lost and confused as she is, won't be of much use in this matter. Yukari's plan to trick Reimu is devious and dishonorable, but what else can you do? You do need the have your Spell Card legalized if you want to participate in this Game, but unless you can somehow convince her...

[]Go with Yukari's plan.
--[]Offer yourself to distract Reimu. This is for your benefit, so you must be the one sucking it up.
--[]Ask Marisa to distract Reimu. She'll have a better chance at entertaining her than you do.
--[]Ask Kogasa to distract Reimu. Surprising people is her shtick, and she won't feel any regret for doing it.
[]Attempt to convince Reimu.
--[]Do it yourself. You have unfinished matters to discuss with her, after all. Maybe an apology too...
--[]Ask Marisa to do it. She knows her better than you, and they're not angry at each other.
--[]Ask Kogasa to do it. Perhaps she'll change her mind if she sees Kogasa will be with you.
[]Write-in.


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

Again, sorry for the delay. Had to do some urgent paperwork for college and real life stuff, and that kept me away from the computer.

I must say, you all made some very compelling arguments. I tried to fit all that reasoning the best I could. Still, the idea of a "Dark Shaman Kosuzu" just sounds kinda unfitting for a person who up until now has been dealing out hugs like promotional fliers. Anyway I'll see what I can do.
No. 181869
>>181863

Dark Shaman seems like a somewhat applicable title for a class that specialises in heals/curses. Why are you so against ☆Magical Devil Girl Kosuzu-chan☆?

[X]Go with Yukari's plan.
--[X]Offer yourself to distract Reimu. This is for your benefit, so you must be the one sucking it up.

This is in no way dishonorable. Getting everything set up and authorised is Reimu's one job. If she isn't reading what she's singing, she deserves whatever consequences arise from that.
No. 181872
X]Go with Yukari's plan.
--[X]Offer yourself to distract Reimu. This is for your benefit, so you must be the one sucking it up.

>>this Game

I just keep losing every time I read this, you magnificent bastard.
No. 181875
[X]Go with Yukari's plan.
--[X]Offer yourself to distract Reimu. This is for your benefit, so you must be the one sucking it up.
No. 181877
>>181869

I would like to add:

-[X] By giving her food, a massage, and a promise that she'll always be our friend no matter what.

to my vote.
No. 181878
[x]Attempt to convince Reimu.
--[x]Do it yourself. You have unfinished matters to discuss with her, after all. Maybe an apology too...

I figure that lying to Reimu is just an all-around bad thing to do. My idea is to let her know that Kosuzu is going to be participating in the game no matter what, and the least Reimu can do is give Kosuzu the chance to defend herself.
No. 181887
[x]Attempt to convince Reimu.
--[x]Do it yourself. You have unfinished matters to discuss with her, after all. Maybe an apology too...

Part of being mature is owning up to your mistakes, and Reimu's issue with Kosuzu comes off as Little Bell being too immature and hot-headed to be the Oni or watch over her books. Hiding behind Yukari will only make things worse.
No. 181889
[x]Attempt to convince Reimu.
-[x]Do it yourself. You have unfinished matters to discuss with her, after all. Maybe an apology too...

I think Kosuzu cares too much about her friends to try and trick them like this. I also think Reimu cares too much about her friends to allow them to fight youkai without the protection of spell cards.
No. 181890
Aw man, and I was just about to finish the update. Again, I should've called it way sooner. I brought this on myself.

Welp, since there's a tie, I guess I'll have to wait for a tiebreaker. And this update will have to wait for tomorrow.
No. 181894
>>181890
Well, then.

[x]Attempt to convince Reimu.
-[x]Do it yourself. You have unfinished matters to discuss with her, after all. Maybe an apology too...
No. 181896
Called. Update soon-ish, if my own paperwork goes without a hitch.
No. 181908
[x]Attempt to convince Reimu.
-[x]Do it yourself. You have unfinished matters to discuss with her, after all. Maybe an apology too...


"You know what? I'm going to do exactly that," you finally say. "I'm going to have a long, nice chat with Reimu, and I'm going to ask her to sign my Spell Card up."

Yukari, clearly disappointed by your response, lets out a sigh. "Didn't you listen to what I just told you, Miss Motoori?"

"You bet I did, Miss Yakumo! And Reimu will listen too, and she will complain a lot, and she will nag me even more, but in the end she will understand and let me participate in the Game. Because while we sometimes don't agree with each other, we're still good friends, and we solve our differences with honest words, not underhanded duperies."

The youkai's expression stays impassive and unamused, hiding whatever is going on in that mind of hers. She doesn't say a word nor moves a muscle, but her inhuman violet eyes are fixed on your whole self. You feel the pressure of the room has shifted around you, threatening to crush you, and your shoulders tremble under her overbearing, overpowering aura. Yukari doesn't even need to make a show of power to make you realize the abyssal difference between her might and yours; she's fully capable of dominating you by her presence alone. If she keeps staring you like that, you're going to get drowned in the purple of her irises...

Then a clap echoes in the room, and you snap free. You hear another, and another, and another, until it gradually turns into a slow round of applause.

"Yukarin, I believe you've just been what in human lingo we refer to as told," Marisa chuckles, "and by a normal teenage villager, no less."

"That stubbornness is far from normal," the youkai shakes her head ever so slightly, and the pressure vanishes, much to your relief. "Most people in her situation wouldn't reject an genuine offer to help."

"Kosuzu's not most people! She needs no help from a meanie like you!" Kogasa exclaims, sticking out her tongue at Yukari. Where did she get all that bravery all of a sudden?

"Yow, she's feisty!" Says Yukari. "Make sure to wear gloves around her, Motoori."

She meant it as a derisive comment, but on second thought you might take on that piece of advice... For entirely different reasons. You're not sure if wearing gloves will alleviate the karakasa's 'sensitivity', though.

"Oh well, do whatever you want," the blonde youkai closes her fan and puts it... where? Did it just vanish from thin air? "But don't come back crying if Reimu chews you out."

<<I won't. Wouldn't want to waste more of your precious time,>> you would've liked to respond. But you're not sure you'd be able to stand more of Yukari's pressuring eyes, so you just stay quiet and do your best to return her stare without crumbling down. Luckily, Marisa comes once again in your rescue:

"'Kay, it's settled! We'll be waiting for you at the yard, while we get things ready. Go get 'er, Lil' Bell!"

The magician does an air fist-bump to encourage you... except she also puts her thumb between her index and her middle finger, while winking mischievously. Your cheeks go red with embarrassment when you understand what she means.

"M-Marisa!"

Prey of a sudden bout of abashment, you stand up and storm out of the room, with nary a word to stutter. As you leave, the blonde girl laughs her arse off at your reaction, that lewd girl. At the same time, you hear Kogasa attempting to go after you, but she's stopped by Yukari. The last words you hear from her are that Kogasa should not 'disturb your moment of intimacy', or something like that. Either she decided to join in the fun like before, or she doesn't want the karakasa helping you in your upcoming argument with Reimu. Knowing her, it's probably both. In any case, you're alone in this.

Only when you calm down a bit, it occurs to you. <<Perhaps Marisa did it to put some distance between Yukari and me, so that a fight wouldn't break out,>> you realize. A fight you'd have zero chances of winning. With that quick thinking, the magician deserves more credit than you give her. Or maybe you're reading too much into it.

You plant yourself in front of the room where Reimu is. Your right to partake in Spell Card duels, and thus being allowed to participate in the Game hinges on this next conversation. Never in your life have you felt so nervous about speaking to a friend of yours, but at this point you can't back down, not after showing such bravado to Yukari. You take a few deep breaths, steel your confidence and before you lose your courage, slide the door open.

You find Reimu exactly where she was when you first saw her today. Bored expression, dull eyes, tired slouch and mechanical moves; the sight of your friend signing the neverending pile of papers reminds you more of a Shrine Maiden of Ennui than one of Paradise, unless her concept of Paradise includes tons of paperwork. But Reimu is not Akyuu. The only reason she's yet to fall asleep over the paper sheets is thanks to the yellow can of coffee resting close to her. Or rather, the caffeine from said can that she drank like water. You hope she won't grow an addiction to it.

If there's one good thing you can say about this, it's that her previous anger has been washed away by pure tedium. Perhaps your chances of not being chewed out immediately by her are better than you think, despite what Yukari said.

"Reimu," you call out to her.

The miko stops her writing and throws a quick glance at you, before returning to her task.

"Didn't I tell you I wash my hands of your affair?" She says.

You ignore her stern caveat and take a seat at the right side of the table. Despite her surliness, she doesn't throw you out of the room or tell you to scram. Your presence, however unwelcome, must be preferable to hours of solitude and boredom with those papers.

Still, Reimu doesn't seem to be in the mood for having a chat. If you want to get her to sign your Spell Card up, you must be the one who brings it up. The question is, how will you go about it?

[]Be serious, and ask her upfront.
--[]Tell her your participation is your atonement for not taking appropiate care of your Demon Books.
--[]Ask her the real reason why she won't let you take part in the Game. Tell her to be honest to you.
--[]Berate her about her hiding the fact that only she can legalize Spell Card, and ditching you.
--[]Try to convince her that you can take care of yourself, with a little help from Kogasa.
--[]Make a bet: If you can beat her in a danmaku duel, she'll have to accept your request.
--[]{Show Gap Folding Umbrella} Tell her you managed to defeat a youkai by yourself just fine.
[]Be nice, and ease the tension before asking.
--[]Apologize to her for all the rude things you said to her; tell her you didn't mean any of it.
--[]Attempt to make small talk. Ask her about her life, recall old times, crack some jokes...
--[]Give her a warm make-up hug. Everybody loves huggies, and she's no exception!
--[]Maybe a massage will do her well? She looks so stiff and tense. She needs to relax a bit.
--[]{Give Mom's Spicy Hot Lo Mein} Offer her your food. Reimu's always hungry for tasty treats.
--[]{Give Pan-Dimensional Gargle Blaster} What you two really need is sharing some good booze!
[]Write-in.


Inventory: >>/words/1011

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

College administration is hell.
No. 181909
Okay, here we go:

[x]Be nice, and ease the tension before asking.
--[x]Apologize to her for all the rude things you said to her; tell her you didn't mean any of it.
--[x]{Give Mom's Spicy Hot Lo Mein} Offer her your food. Reimu's always hungry for tasty treats.
--[x]Tell her your participation is your atonement for not taking appropriate care of your Demon Books.


Kinda mixing up both categories, but my reasoning is that Kosuzu kinda got carried away and said some stuff she shouldn't have. She should apologize, and also offer the food as a gift to a friend. Then she should own up that she really wasn't as careful as she should have been. Still; those books are Kozuzu's life, and it's important to her to try and save them.

That said, if someone has a better idea, I'm more than open. I kinda suck at this kinda stuff.
No. 181914
[X]Be serious, and ask her upfront.

I don't really like any of those sub-choices.
No. 181917
I suppose I should be asking for yet another tiebreaker now...

... but there's, uh, something else I want to write, so for the time being there's no rush in calling the votes. So, um, yeah, votes are still open.
No. 181918
[x]Be nice, and ease the tension before asking.
--[x]Apologize to her for all the rude things you said to her; tell her you didn't mean any of it.
--[x]{Give Mom's Spicy Hot Lo Mein} Offer her your food. Reimu's always hungry for tasty treats.
--[x]Tell her your participation is your atonement for not taking appropriate care of your Demon Books.
No. 181931
[X]Be serious, and ask her upfront.
--[X]Tell her your participation is your atonement for not taking appropiate care of your Demon Books.
No. 181932
[x]Be nice, and ease the tension before asking.
--[x]Apologize to her for all the rude things you said to her; tell her you didn't mean any of it.
--[x]{Give Mom's Spicy Hot Lo Mein} Offer her your food. Reimu's always hungry for tasty treats.
--[x]Tell her your participation is your atonement for not taking appropriate care of your Demon Books.
No. 181933
I'm gonna call it now, but the update and the new thread will have to wait until the Writing Contest finishes. Or maybe a bit earlier.

So, now that this is going autosage, I'd like to thank you for sticking with me even with my irregular schedule. I also want to ask you, what do you think so far of this story? What are your expectations? What do you think I could do to make it better?
No. 181934
Well, so far I'm really liking the story. Not too many complaints, although it's funny that you bring up expectations. I think you and the readers might have slightly different ones. Like, you were expecting us to head to the plaza, whereas we were more conscious of the time limit, and wanted to learn danmaku. I'm not sure if that threw off your narrative much, but it's something to keep in mind. Still, that's pretty much just nit-picking.

Is it safe to assume that today was the tutorial, and things are going to start picking up when the game starts?
No. 181935
Is this goin to be another "act cute to win" story?
No. 181940
>>181935
You say that as though it were a bad thing.
No. 181944
It's pretty damn good as is. A sh*t storm will happen at some point, so think about how you want to react to that.

Cute to win is fun, but can get repetitive, on the other hand it's really easy as an author to give obvious choices and not have them get picked.

But that's all just generic advice. .
No. 181986
This thread isn't dead, is it?
No. 183112
I miss this story.
No. 183160
Me too. ;_;
No. 194575
>>/gensokyo/14618

Might as well post this here so future generations will know its dead.