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184316 No. 184316
Thread 1: >>182674

---

[X] Sweep the vicinity with your drone.

---

You hold the drone, a gray sphere of metal and plastic about twelve centimeters wide. It’s undecorated save for a small red cross stenciled over the rear maintenance hatch. The only weapon this particular one has is a short-ranged electroshock, not immediately lethal against most things worth killing, but still a useful tool for the little space it takes up. It’s also waterproof to 200 meters, which should be good enough to scan the lake.

You find a dry rock to sit on and get to work, taking out your toolkit and opening up the hatch. It’s a simple matter to remove the standard scanning module and slot in some more comprehensive hardware. You have to remove some other parts to make room for it, though, but that shouldn’t be a problem unless the drone bumps into someone that needs emergency first aid.

You seal the hatch and put your tools aside. With that done, you boot the drone up and let it float up to eye level. After some deliberation, you send it on search pattern in the nearby woods. It seems more likely that some denizen of the forest saw something shiny and decided to bring it home.

In the meantime, you’ve got nothing to do but wait and watch the feed on your phone. Nothing interesting shows up as the drone drifts between the trees. Heat signatures indicate some local wildlife of the non-magical sort, but no metallic objects or noteworthy magic whatsoever.

Yukari’s up to something - it doesn’t take a genius to see that - and whatever it is, it’s a full-blown conspiracy. She said that she had ‘partners’, which has never been a good sign, and Yuuka’s remarks seemed to confirm that.

Speaking of Yuuka, you get the feeling that you and your partners need to discuss some things with her sooner rather than later if Gaia’s involved.

On a less far-reaching note, you need to get the local situation figured out. You don’t doubt that you could make connections in the village. but conflict with some other groups seems likely. Byakuren and Remilia are obvious opponents, but you can imagine that Miko and the Moriya goddesses could find reasons to clash with you. The former is, or at least used to be, a major player in the Illuminati, and the latter are close allies of the mountain Tengu and Kappa. Given that you’re a Templar... well. It’s easy to see why there might be distrust. At least Kotohime sounds eager enough to meet you.

Caleb’s likely to meet with the Taoists in the near future. It’s less clear to you what contacts the Dragon might have in Gensokyo. The Dragon’s never made too much sense to you.

Anyways, it seems that the drone just found something of interest. Right now, it’s floating at the entrance of a small rock shelter a good distance south of your position. There’s a small heat source and a number of small metal objects inside it. Looks like your earlier theory was on the money.

Focus now squarely back on your drone, you have it emit a chirp to see if you can get the attention of whatever’s inside. You wait half a minute, but there’s no response.

“Hello? Is anyone around?” You try again, this time broadcasting your voice through the drone.

Still nothing. Growing impatient, you send your drone inside to check for yourself. With some luck, you’ll be able to grab what you need and leave without even being noticed.

The entrance is small enough that you’d have to stoop over to fit, but the space widens out to a much more comfortable degree further inside. You’d call it cozy if it wasn’t just bare rock walls and darkness. The damp and earth can almost be smelled through the screen.

Your eyes narrow, and your drone freezes in place. There’s a pile of what looks like bones, picked clean and left to moulder. A distinctly human skull grins at the camera, half-buried in the mound.

You cautiously pan the camera over to the heat source in the cave. That profile belongs to a small figure lying on a rusty-looking camping cot. It looks like a child...

There’s a mumbled groan, and the figure in question rolls over to reveal blonde hair sporting a red ribbon, and a sleeping face that you recognize through the gloom. Rumia’s face.

You curse under your breath and consider options. According to both Akyuu and your own experience, Rumia’s only a minor youkai. Even without your guns and the majority of your Bee’s power, you’re confident that you could handle her without too much trouble. Of course, she hasn’t so far shown signs of waking up, much less initiating hostilities.

The thought crosses your mind of stopping by her little cave with a fistful of fire, but it’s quickly dismissed. Yes, it’s tempting to have one less confirmed maneater to worry about, but there are too many reasons not to. Cirno and Dai are evidently familiar with her, and you did give Ran your word. Templar have been called many things through the ages, but ‘oathbreaker’ has seldom been one of them. You aren’t eager to go down that road. Besides, giving the locals less reason to see you as a bloodthirsty warmonger must be a good thing.

With this in mind, you direct the drone toward the debris on the floor while doing your best to not disturb its occupant. Sadly, it soon becomes apparent that most of the metal in Rumia’s cave is junk. There’s a neatly-stacked pile of discarded food tins that look like they’ve been gnawed open in one corner, and an absolute mess of appliances in another. Your best guess is that in an attempt to get ‘infinite electricity’, Rumia plugged at least three extension cords into each other. There’s a toaster, a pressure cooker, a lava lamp, and few night lights in the tangle, but not your guns.

There’s nothing of note here apart from a rusty-looking sword, probably taken from a previous victim, half-tucked under the bed. You can’t get a closer look without the risk of waking up Rumia, though, so you leave it be. It doesn’t have any magic on it, so for all intents and purposes it’s just a poorly-maintained length of metal too tall for its current owner to use.

Somewhat disappointed, you recall the drone and consider your next move. The forest had no sign of your guns, which means that it’s probably in the lake. You have some durability enchantments on them, so while water damage won’t be an immediate concern... the lake’s not small. Even if you found the pistols, it could be a pain to get them out.

Well, you can worry about that later. You point at the lake, and the drone dives past the surface with a modest splash.

It’s not long before you get new data to work with. There’s quite a number of metallic objects scattered across the bottom of the lake, with a few you’re sure have to be small boats or cars.

There’s something else that bothers you. The camera shows that the lakebed around the shore seems to be made up of patches of different sediment. One area will be whitish sand with an abrupt cut-off to red mud on one side and a light brown on the other, like a bizarre quilt. The wildlife and plants also seem different on each patch. In defiance of diffusion, it seems that each patch also has its own turbidity.

You really have no idea how that’s happening. Magic is the broad, obvious answer, and your drone is picking up faint traces of it in the water. Chances are that you aren’t going to figure this out today, so you make a note of the abnormalities and move on.

Still, despite the discordance, it’s rather pretty. The way the afternoon sun filters through the water is eye-catching, and small schools of fish occasionally approach the drone before being scared away with chirps. You take some photos before continuing with the search.

Hm. Moving a bit further in reveals a daunting slope into deeper, sunless water. You’d be willing to bet that most lakes don’t have such an abrupt drop. It looks almost cartoonish, like an inverted sombrero. If there’s anything down there, you’ll need some major preparation to get it.

Sadly, your search isn’t turning much up along the shallows. The metal all appears to be the sort of human detritus that tends to build up in large bodies of water - discarded containers, scraps, and the occasional bike or shopping cart. The largest of them turns out to be the rusted hulk of a car that must have been ugly even in its prime. The style looks several decades old, and it’s sunk into the muck and concealed by swaying strands of algae.

It’s a bit of a stretch to believe that your guns drifted this far. but you should make sure. It’s possible that they’re being masked by the larger signature. You send the drone in closer, bumping the edge of the car.

Suddenly, movement. A brief glimpse of something nearby, moving out of sync with the lake weeds.

You bring the drone to a halt right away and have it start scanning for large electrical signatures. Sure enough, there’s a big one right behind it - almost on top of the drone.

You whirl the drone around, ready to zap whatever’s dumb enough to see your stuff like lunch as soon as you see it-

The camera focuses on the somewhat startled face of a merfolk woman, blue fins poking out from matching hair done up in ringlets. She’s wearing a patterned kimono in a shade of green that does a remarkable job of blending in with the underwater plantlife. In any case, it doesn’t seem like she’s making a threat of herself at the moment.

You slowly exhale and cancel the taze command.

Merfolk aren’t particularly malicious as a whole. They were among the easier demographics to work with when you were on the beat in Ealdwic. The most trouble any of them caused you was by fainting from dehydration.

Something notable is that there’s more difficulty than usual blending in with the human population due to the lack of legs. Most other creatures can just use a minor Glamor and call it a day, but those are limited to distorting or concealing features that are already there. While it’s easy to make inhuman legs look passably human and still function well, the same can’t be said of tails. Merfolk need shapeshifting enchantments, which are heavily regulated and a massive pain to purchase. That kind of magic is difficult to pull off well.

This mermaid seems to be trying to say something, mouthing words at the camera. You immediately regret failing to somehow foresee the need to make the audio equipment functional underwater. When it becomes clear that she isn’t being understood, the two of you enter a sort of underwater gesturing match. This also gets nowhere, so you have the drone bob up and down while facing up at the surface. Thankfully, she understands your intention and swims up.
No. 184317
The drone reaches the surface a few seconds after her, a short distance away from your position. The mermaid’s hair remains perfectly styled, even as water drips off it. She gives the drone a wary wave from the water.

“Um, hello?” she ventures, peering at the drone. Her voice is soft and somewhat hesitant. “I’m Wakasagihime. I haven’t seen you before... Are you a tsukumogami? Or maybe a Kappa machine?”

“Actually, I’m a human.” You say. “I’ve been looking for something of mine that I lost around here, and this drone lets me look underwater.”

She looks a bit taken aback when you reveal your race, but brightens up when she hears that you need help.

“Oh. That makes sense. Well, I might be able to help you. What sort of thing was it?”

“A pair of pistols.” You say. “Revolvers. Each one should have a small red cross on the handle. Basically, I think they ended up in the lake somehow, and I’m worried that they might have drifted in too deep or been carried off by something-”

You trail off as a remote possibility occurs to you. A quick scan of the mermaid reveals two identical, unmistakable objects on her person. Your gut twists.

Oblivious to your anticipation, Wakasagi goes on. “Oh! I guess that these belonged to you, then?” All doubt is removed as she pulls the guns out from a pouch on her side.

Wow, she’s really lucky that there aren’t any bullets in them. Holding them like that is almost asking to lose a few fingers, what kind of idiot-

You shake your head and remind yourself that not everyone is familiar with gun safety. For all you know, this might be her first time handling one.

“That’s them, alright.” you tell her. “Careful, though. They aren’t toys.”

“Yeah, I could tell.” she says, still upbeat. “They’re so pretty, and they look really well-made. I found them this morning, and I was thinking about selling them to the Kappa.”

The breath catches in your throat with a strangled noise.

“-really like taking a look at things like this. I don’t know much about how they work, though, and the Kappa don’t always explains things well. One of them once sold me an electric wheelchair, but then the motor got stuck on ‘turbo’ or something and when I brought it up, she told me that it was supposed to be that way-”

“I would sincerely appreciate it if you didn’t give them to someone else.” you say, trying to steer the conversation back on track while keeping your voice as calm as possible. “Would you mind talking in person?”

“Um, sure. Lead the way.” Wakasagi tucks the pistols back in with a little more carelessness than you were hoping for and starts swimming after your drone. It’s not long before you’re face-to-face with her. The mermaid chooses to keep her lower body submerged, blue-gray tail idly swishing from side to side as she examines you.

“You don’t look like you’re from the village.” She says after a moment. “No, villagers tend to fish on the other side of the lake. Are you new around here?”

“Yeah, it’s literally my second day here.” You say, shaking your head. “The first was kind of hectic.”

She nods along. “I can imagine. What’s your name, by the way?”

“Charlotte. Char, if you like.”

“Ooh, that’s a European name, right? Anyways, you seem to be adjusting well.”

“Eh.” You shrug, unwilling to give away too many details. “I’ve seen my share of magic. Now, about my guns...”

“Ah! Of course!” She claps her hands together. “Now, I was going to see how much I could get for them at the Kappa village, or maybe that curio store-”

“But you aren’t, because I’m here, right?” You interrupt, doing your best to control your tone.

“Well...” She lets the word drag on, one finger on her chin. “I was so excited when I found them, but you’re right, it does feel wrong when you’ve been going out of your way to look.” She perks up. “How about a spellcard duel?”

You raise an eyebrow. “I have to fight to get my own stuff back? Those guns are really important to me, you know.”

“Yeah, I understand.” She says. “But I need money too, and besides, everyone can walk away from a spellcard duel without hard feelings.”

You somehow doubt that.

Your drone is still on, a quiet thought reminds you. It wouldn’t be difficult to float it behind her and stun her.

You stamp the suggestion down. You don’t need to pick a fight with someone who hasn’t done anything wrong. Not yet, at least. Come to think of it, has she broken any laws?

No, you went over this before. This morning, in fact. There aren’t many rules that the locals all agree on, and Reimu is more or less the only person who keeps the peace around here. Even if she wasn’t incapacitated, she doesn’t seem to bother for most problems less severe than ‘Barrier-threatening’. The village police are the next logical option, but Wakasagi’s a mermaid who appears to live in the lake. Unless they have SCUBA gear. you don’t see them getting much done.

You rub your forehead. “Not to be a bad sport, but I’ve got zero experience with spellcards. I don’t know how to fly, either. Don’t you think it’s a little unfair to use those to decide things?”

“I don’t think it’s that hard to learn.” She says, frowning. “There was this big deal a few years ago with these Taoists. They were only around for a few hours before they had to duel a bunch of people, and I heard that they did alright. Well, they all lost in the end... I see what you mean.”

She looks disappointed. “I haven’t found anything to sell in a while, though, and I don’t have enough money to fix my wheelchair. I wanted to go shopping at the Human Village, but it’s no good if I’m obviously not human.”

“Really? Why’s that?” You ask. “I got the impression that the village was fine with most youkai. I mean, I certainly don’t see any reason you’d be turned away.” It’s not like a wheelchair is a strong disguise by itself, in any case.

“It’s not like that.” She says, looking away. “You’re right, most of us can visit as long as we don’t start fights or anything, but just because we’re let inside doesn’t mean we’re welcome, y’know?”

It clicks for you. “I think I get it. You get a lot of unwanted attention?”

She nods. “Yeah. It can get really uncomfortable, and sometimes the guards look the other way if someone knocks into you on the street.”

You frown. Is this the kind of police force that Kotohime’s in charge of?

Wakasagi notices the change in your expression. “That’s only a small part of the village, though. There are lots of nice people as well, and I wouldn’t really mind the inconvenience if I was just by myself. It’s just that some of my friends - my friends in the Human Village, I’m worried that other people might start to treat them worse for spending time with me.”

There’s some hesitation in the last part, but overall, it’s a legitimate concern. You think you see some way to turn it to your advantage, though.

“Like I said, I’m new here.” you say, sitting down once again. “It’s not like I have a lot of clout with the village in general.”

Of course, you’re planning to change that fact, but she doesn’t need to know right now.

“I know.” She says, still somewhat forlorn. “I’m sorry for burdening you with this-”

“I think there’s another way I might be able to help.” You say, indicating your toolkit. “I happen to be skilled with machines - you saw my drone, right? I could work on your wheelchair for you. As for payment, just give me my guns back. Sound good?”

She looks optimistically unsure. “That does sound nice. How fast do you think you could do it?”

“Depends.” You tell her. “I’ll need to pick up some parts in the village. Putting them together and making sure everything works fine will also take a while.”

You run some estimates in your head - of course you don’t know exactly how much mechanical parts cost here, and you won’t know what needs to be replaced until you actually see the machine. Still, it would help to get some idea of what the local Kappa are capable of sooner or later.

By this time, the sun is hanging low and the horizon is a pale orange. You’ll need to make a decision soon if you’re going to make it back before sundown.


---

[ ] Promise to work on Wakasagi’s wheelchair in exchange for your guns back. It will cost significantly more time and money, but you will have an sample of Kappa tech to examine. Furthermore, it is likely that you will build a small amount of goodwill with the less powerful youkai.

[ ] Swallow your pride and buy back your own guns. Expediency outweighs other concerns, and you can write this off as a finder’s fee if you have to. You will immediately receive your weapons back with no further conditions.

[ ] Write-in.
No. 184319
[X] Promise to work on Wakasagi’s wheelchair in exchange for your guns back.

We're not exactly in a hurry.
No. 184320
[X] Promise to work on Wakasagi’s wheelchair in exchange for your guns back. It will cost significantly more time and money, but you will have an sample of Kappa tech to examine. Furthermore, it is likely that you will build a small amount of goodwill with the less powerful youkai.

Man, if Char had a twitter I can just imagine what she'd post now: "Bartering with mermaid to get my guns back. #secretworldproblems"
No. 184321
[x] Swallow your pride and buy back your own guns. Expediency outweighs other concerns, and you can write this off as a finder’s fee if you have to. You will immediately receive your weapons back with no further conditions.

Assuming it won't break the bank, we do kind of have more important things to do.
No. 184322
>>184317
[x] Promise to work on Wakasagi’s wheelchair in exchange for your guns back. It will cost significantly more time and money, but you will have an sample of Kappa tech to examine. Furthermore, it is likely that you will build a small amount of goodwill with the less powerful youkai.

I see no reason not to help the girl. Trading services for goods, ho!
No. 184323
[X] Promise to work on Wakasagi’s wheelchair in exchange for your guns back. It will cost significantly more time and money, but you will have an sample of Kappa tech to examine. Furthermore, it is likely that you will build a small amount of goodwill with the less powerful youkai.

We could use all the goodwill we can get. Besides, being a Templar is about helping people. Sort of. After a fashion. As a very distant second to the whole "killing monsters" bit.
No. 184324
[X] Promise to work on Wakasagi’s wheelchair in exchange for your guns back. It will cost significantly more time and money, but you will have an sample of Kappa tech to examine. Furthermore, it is likely that you will build a small amount of goodwill with the less powerful youkai.

Never hurts to stay on people's good side.
No. 184342
[X] Promise to work on Wakasagi’s wheelchair in exchange for your guns back. It will cost significantly more time and money, but you will have an sample of Kappa tech to examine. Furthermore, it is likely that you will build a small amount of goodwill with the less powerful youkai.

Hey Char, have you considered that you're a protagonist, and therefor your life is going to consist entirely of fetch quests and the like? Just a thought.
No. 184345
[X] Promise to work on Wakasagi’s wheelchair in exchange for your guns back. It will cost significantly more time and money, but you will have an sample of Kappa tech to examine. Furthermore, it is likely that you will build a small amount of goodwill with the less powerful youkai.

Cheapskate, that's me
No. 184369
Finals are over, writing will resume shortly.
No. 184400
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184400
[X] Promise to work on Wakasagi’s wheelchair in exchange for your guns back

---

You strike a deal with the mermaid. The wheelchair should be simple enough to fix, and it presents a discrete opportunity to study the capabilities of the local Kappa. Akyuu’s writing claims that they’re the most technologically advanced group in Gensokyo, but given what you’ve seen of the Human village, the bar might not be set too high.

Wakasagi seems happy enough at your proposal, and she accepts cheerfully. She does permit you to attach a tracking enchantment to your pistols for reassurance. You take the opportunity to apply one to your Elementalism focus as well. No more Templar property is going to fall into unsanctioned hands if you can help it.

She briefly leaves to bring the wheelchair back. Her path suggests that she lives on the south-western side of Misty lake, a bit out of the way for the Human village and on the opposite side as Remilia’s mansion.

When Wakasagi comes back, she’s flying a short distance above the waves with the vehicle folded up and carried beneath her. A superficial examination suggests that the construction is reasonably sound, if somewhat haphazard. The most noticeable feature is the battery, a smooth cylinder of an unfamiliar bluish-gray metal and stenciled script on the sides.

You’ve got a number of ideas about how the whole thing works, but you’ll deal with them later.

Wakasagi is left momentarily speechless as you secure the wheelchair in your inventory.

“What did- how?” She stutters.

“My pockets are a lot bigger than they look.” You say. You pull out her wheelchair a moment later to demonstrate.

The wheelchair is in fact not the largest item your inventory can hold. You managed to haul an Orochi generator the size of an office printer during your deployment in Tokyo. You did crush a few toes the first time you brought it out, but that’s beside the point.

The mermaid looks at you with faint nervousness in her eyes. Personal pocket dimensions aren’t that common.

“Is that sort of thing normal... on the outside?”

“Not really, but that’s something for another time. What’s the best way for us to get in contact?”

“Oh, um, I’m sure I can speak with Keine, the schoolteacher. Do you know her?”

“Yeah, that should do it. See you in a couple days, then.”

---

With nothing else to talk about and the sun hanging low, you say goodbye to Wakasagi and start on the path back to the village. By the time you reach the near side of the lake, a deep shade of blue has crept over most of the sky.

The drone is still hovering by your shoulder, keeping an eye out for any signs of imminent hostility. This turns out to be useful halfway to the village, where you encounter a lone figure where the woods meet the fields.

“Where do you think you’re going?” The interloper shouts in a boyish voice, standing in the middle of the path.

At this distance, you can spot short green hair and some manner of cape that looks out of place on the short frame of its owner. She’s female... you think. Is some kid from the village trying to start something with you?

“Back to the village.” You say, stopping as you get closer. “Shouldn’t you be as well? It’s getting dark.”

She laughs in a way that feels forced and drawn-out.

You reflexively shift your weight and take stock of your surroundings.

Her heat profile is off - you’re getting a distinctly cold-blooded feeling. According to your drone, she’s got significantly more magic than your average human, but still not enough to be casually slinging death around. Furthermore, she doesn’t have company. So why is she acting so cocky?

A swirling cloud of insects coalesces around the girl, who starts to rise off the ground. The last rays of the sun silhouette a pair of antennae poking from her hair as she folds her arms across her chest.

“I’ve heard about you, human. You’re new here.” Her expression is fierce, even as you detect a slight quaver in her voice. “That means that someone has to show you your place.”

She points at you, and her swarm shifts dangerously.

---

Points to keep in mind:

You have promised Ran to avoid lethal force
Your ressurective immortality may not be working
Insect manipulation is no joke

---

Combat Assets:
Elementalism: Weaponized physics in the palm of your hand. Currently limited to burning things, zapping things, and freezing things.
Armor: Effective at protecting from conventional attacks, but not brilliant against innumerable stinging insects crawling into any available space.
Electroshock Drone: Bug-proof and equipped with a taser.
Pink Noise Grenade: Emits a frequency that causes most humanoids to temporarily lose motor control. Effects are less predictable on insects. You are immunized to its effects.
Knockout Gas Grenade (x2): Releases a gas that causes most humanoids to lose consciousness. The gas is non-flammable and becomes inert after a short period of time. You have a NBC mask to protect yourself.

Specify how you should execute one or more of the following courses of action:

[ ] Fight


[ ] Flight

[ ] Other
No. 184401
I'm getting the feeling that the story is getting... slower, if that's the term to describe it. It's meandering. I will try to steer the plot back onto bigger things.
No. 184402
[x] Fight
NO HOLDS BARRED
No. 184403
yay, bees

[X] Fight
-[X] Bait her into letting you set the terms for a Spellcard duel. Surely the mighty insect youkai, master of the most numerous family of living creatures on the planet, is not scared of a single human who can't even fly?
--[X] Set the terms as 'first to land a hit to the torso, no cards, single streams of bullets and bugs only'.

She's probably just in this for the fame anyway, it won't matter if we lose.

>>184401
Don't force it man, character interaction is what drives quests. Giving us downtime until we recover is a great excuse to dick around with noname youkai. Let the plot happen when it's right.
No. 184404
[X] Flight
[X] Aim to make it past her and escape down the path to the village.
[X] Have your drone keep the youkai busy with the taser.
[X] Use fire abilities to keep the swarm at bay.
[X] If you manage to pass her by, throw a pink noise grenade behind you as you run.
[X] Should all else fail, attempt to pull the wheelchair out as a surprise weapon.
No. 184407
[x] Fight
LETS GET IT ON
No. 184408
[X] Fight
-[X] Bait her into letting you set the terms for a Spellcard duel. Surely the mighty insect youkai, master of the most numerous family of living creatures on the planet, is not scared of a single human who can't even fly?
--[X] Set the terms as 'first to land a hit to the torso, no cards, single streams of bullets and bugs only'.

Sounds good to me.
No. 184409
>>184400
[x] Fight.
-[x] That "no lethal force" thing probably doesn't extend to mundane bugs being controlled by someone else, so bug-zapper away.

Lightning and fire control are the best ways to deal with swarms.
No. 184410
[X] Fight

Try to use fire to keep the swarms from ever getting close, if possible. Maybe if we keep all the attention on us, the drone can sneak up and give her a shock, maybe knock her out.

>>184401
Pretty much what >>184403 said. It's the slower times that allow characters to develop just by bouncing off each other a bit; the plot parts will be that much better for it later, and you'll have that much more stuff to draw on.

inb4 Wriggle is the Big Bad.
No. 184411
>>184410
Well the local insect population would be terrifyingly effective at spreading Filth...
No. 184412
> Straight Fight: 4
> "Spellcard" Fight: 2
> Fighting Retreat: 1
No. 184413
[x] Other
-[x] Talk
-[x] "Cirno has explained me the lay of the land and I've already met and befriended all the big players, are you sure it is wise for you to engage me?"

If forced to fight:
[x] Use Fire abilities to clear a path and the tackle her
-[x] Release gas grenades while in CQC and hold on until its effects knock her down.
No. 184414
[X] Straight Fight
[X] Attack her swarms while drone zaps the youkai.

---

Fighting bugs really isn’t your favorite thing to do. Never mind the chittering and buzzing, they smell so goddamn awful when burnt in large numbers.

Your opponent’s cloud hasn’t hit you yet, so you allow yourself one last moment of observation. Then you return her gesture by flinging a thin spear of flame at her..

She yelps and ducks down, the cloud of bugs wavering. The missile flies overhead, sizzling past a few inches above her head’s original position before dissipating.

“Hah!” She grins at you, trying to cover for the lapse in bravado. “Is that all you- ack!”

The bolt of fire was a softball, as far as you’re concerned. Bright, obvious, and off-target enough that she would only have been hit by dodging into it. Overall, a solid distraction for your drone to close the distance and start zapping.

“Stop- gah- stop it!” The youkai shouts between jolts, picking up speed and trying to shake your drone.

“Then go home!” You yell back as you back away, lobbing fireballs at any swarms that start to form. “You’re the one who wanted this fight!”

She growls something unintelligible at you as she banks above the paths. With a desperate burst of speed, she manages to overtake the drone for a brief second. She points at you again with fury in her eyes.

The only warning you have is a crescendo in the buzz. Suddenly, there are insects on your hands, on your neck, your face, climbing up your sleeves, all biting and stinging. Burning, itching pain accompanies the pricks, washing the edges of your vision white and red.

You roar in pain and start swiping at your face. A wave of chitinous horror falls off with each pass, but it’s little use. More just keep latching on.

Caleb wouldn’t be having this problem right now. One good blood plague and half of this swarm would be red smears. Blood mages are perfectly fine with being covered in blood, but elementalists can’t say the same about being covered in fire.

Ah. Caleb. That’s right.

Fingers dulled by the bites and the venom, you nevertheless manage to pull the pin of a gas grenade and fling it to the ground. In the meantime, you also scramble to put your gas mask on before it goes off. A few bugs make their way into your mouth in the process - you try spitting them out, but more keep crawling in. You settle for ‘mostly bug-free’ and force yourself to bite down on whatever’s still in your mouth, doing your best to ignore the taste. The mask goes on just as the the grenade goes off, smothering your vision in pale blue smoke. Slowly but surely, you feel the insects still clinging to you grow weaker in the haze until they stop moving completely.

You also start to feel the stings in greater detail as your adrenaline dies down. A quick glance confirms that the affected areas are turning a hostile shade of red and are swelling up.

A sudden wave of nausea forces you to your knees. While you successfully avoid vomiting with your mask still on, you note through your dizziness that your vision is blurring, and that it’s getting harder to breathe.

Christ, this girl really did a number on you.

After the gas clears, you take off your mask and pull a restorative potion from your inventory. The foul, sweaty-tomato-tasting mix tastes as bad as it sounds, but it does take the edge off, and your senses start to clear up. With your renewed hearing, you can make out the chirp of your drone. It seems that it subdued or chased off its target. At least there don’t seem to be any more swarms.

The drone is floating a few feet above the ground, oblivious to the prone form of your attacker in front of it. She’s sprawled face-down on the grass, still breathing, but probably not getting up anytime soon. The marks on the nearby grass suggest that your drone first forced her onto the ground, where she tried crawling to the cover of the trees before losing consciousness.

You suppress the urge to give her a surprise funeral pyre, get back on your feet, stagger over to her, check her condition, and pat her down for any hidden surprises. There’s a small coin purse, which you leave on her person, a dull and battered butterfly knife, which you pocket for now, and a few small bottles of some sweet-smelling clear liquid, which you also take. She groans a bit, but it’s clear that she’s in no state to protect her belongings.

The entire exchange felt much longer than it actually took, but by now, night is almost on you. In your present state, you estimate that you could make it to the gates by yourself. That would mean leaving your attacker unconscious by the roadside, though, and while you aren’t exactly fond of her right now, it doesn’t sit right with you to abandon her while she’s helpless.

But that would slow you down, and you’ve heard that some truly nasty stuff comes out of the woods at night. It’s not as though you can just drink another potion - there’s some complicated biochem jargon that sums up to ‘your body won’t absorb more than a certain amount within a given time’. You could, hypothetically, give some to your attacker to revive her. She could probably make it to safety with flight, but there’s no guarantee that she’ll be cooperative after having been repeatedly tasered.

---

[ ] Shoot a flare, wait for backup.
[ ] Head for the village by yourself.
[ ] Head for the village with the unconscious youkai.
[ ] Head for the village with the revived youkai. It is highly unlikely that she will pose a threat.
[ ] Other.
No. 184415
[x] Head for the village with the unconscious youkai.
Spoils of war.
No. 184416
[X] Head for the village by yourself.

Let's not be silly now. She's a youkai, she'll live.
No. 184417
>>184416
I mean, if you're sure about that.
No. 184419
[X] This girl, I'll be taking her.
[x]Bury as many bugs as possible. Clearly these insects were her comrades in arms; they deserve at least this much.
[X]Head for the village with the revived youkai. It is highly unlikely that she will pose a threat.

>>184416

Yea, she'll live, but BEAR END is a pretty shitty way to lose a continue.
No. 184420
[X] Head for the village with the unconscious youkai.

Put her in your inventory, it's not like stuff degrades once it's in there.
No. 184421
>>184400
[x]Bury as many bugs as possible. Clearly these insects were her comrades in arms; they deserve at least this much. 
[X]Head for the village with the revived youkai. It is highly unlikely that she will pose a threat. 

Again, spoil of war. We can keep her in our room

Wink nudge etc.
No. 184422
[X] Head for the village with the unconscious youkai.

Bury all the bugs? Who comes up with this stuff? Let's get out of here before we get eaten by something actually dangerous.
No. 184423
[x]Bury as many bugs as possible. Clearly these insects were her comrades in arms; they deserve at least this much.
[X]Head for the village with the revived youkai. It is highly unlikely that she will pose a threat.

Losing your mind~ Body entering shock~
No. 184424
[x] Head for the village with the revived youkai. It is highly unlikely that she will pose a threat.

Be magnanimous in victory.
No. 184425
[X] Head to the village with the revived youkai. She shouldn’t be much of a threat, and it’ll be faster than hauling her unconscious body.
[X] Dispose of the bugs.

---

A controlled stream of fire from your hands washes over the piles of insects carpeting the dirt. The air fills with an acrid smoke as they burn, and you nudge the flames from spreading to the grass. If there were any survivors in that swarm, they’re taken care of now.

That leaves the matter of what to do with the youkai. While you are sorely tempted to simply leave her to make a point about ambushing you, it doesn’t feel right. Whatever her reasons for attacking you, it can probably be sorted out in a more civilized manner back at the village.

You flip her over and pour a small dose of restorative into her mouth. After a few seconds, she gags and begins to stir.

“Blagh. Ugh. Wha- what’s going on?” She groans with half-lidded eyes. She freezes when she sees you standing over her with the smoldering remains of her minions behind you.

“Oh god. Oh god!” She starts to whimper, curling up on the ground. “Please! I’m sorry! I won’t bother you anymore, so please don’t-”

You hold a hand up, stopping her increasingly hysterical pleading. “Can you walk?” You ask.

She pauses, face peeking out from a fetal position on the ground. “W-what?”

“Can you walk?” You repeat. “Or fly, I suppose. It’s going to be night soon.”

She looks at you, then the darkening sky, then at her own bruised and singed form. “I think I can walk.” She says, stumbling upright. “Don’t think I can run far like this, though. And flying...” She hovers in the air for a few seconds before abruptly falling with a fatigued expression. “It’s no good.”

Pity. “Looks like you’re coming with me, then.” You say.

Her face reddens and her eyes narrow. “And why should I trust you? You knocked me out, stole my stuff, and killed my friends!”

“Really?” You growl, taking a step towards her. “What about the part where you ambushed me while I was minding my own business?” Even with your left eye almost pinched shut by stings, the youkai almost loses her balance in her haste to back away. “Besides, it’s either follow me to the village, or go into that forest at night, alone, injured, and without flight.”

Her eyes widen and she starts quivering. For a moment, you wonder if all you’ve accomplished is making her doubly terrified.

You sigh and extend your hand to her. “Look, as long as you don’t try anything, I won’t hurt you. But you have to make up your mind real quick.”

You can all but see her weighing possible death via fire on one side and definite death via monster on the other. “Alright.” She mutters sullenly, looking at the ground. “Let’s go.”

The two of you limp off along the dirt road in silence, with the light from your drone illuminating the path. The fields appear far less hospitable in the gloom, and each scarecrow poking out from the shadows prompts your head to turn by instinct. You switch to heat vision every so often as a precaution.

“Say, what’s your name?” You ask after a while.

“Wriggle.” She mumbles. “Wriggle Nightbug. I’m a firefly youkai, if you haven’t figured that out already.”

“I’m Charlotte.” You offer. “How are you holding up?”

“Okay, I guess.” She says, still trudging along beside you. “Couldn’t we... couldn’t we go to a farmhouse? There’s one coming up.”

You shake your head. “Not a good idea. How many youkai do you think have gotten meals by pretending to be humans in trouble?”

“Oh.” Wriggle squirms. “A lot?”

“Yeah. Most likely, he just slams the door and locks up all the windows.” You say as you check the time. It’s now nighttime proper, but you’re close enough at this point that nothing big is likely to show up.

It’s also been long enough for your body to accept another potion dose. You take a swig, doing your best to ignore the taste, and hand the bottle to Wriggle. She splutters, but manages to finish off the last quarter or so. You still feel like shit, but both of your paces increase as the medicine takes effect.

She goes quiet again for a few uncomfortable minutes. Is she a maneater? Bug manipulation is certainly potent enough for that. Was she planning on eating you?

“I wasn’t going to try to eat you or anything.” She says softly, guessing what you’re thinking of. “I really wasn’t. It’s just - I heard there was a new human around, someone with a red cross on them, and I just wanted to give you a scare or something, I promise.”

You raise an eyebrow. “I’m new here, but aren’t you supposed to use the spellcard system for that?”

She looks away from you. “Yeah. I thought I could get away with it, if it was a fresh outsider who didn’t know better. I’d get some more fear that way - you know what I am, right? You threw fire at me. You have to know how it works.”

“Yeah, I do. What I don’t get is how you managed to hear of me without also hearing that it might be a bad idea to pick a fight with me. You know, on account of the fire and all.”

She shrugs. “Nobody told me about that part.”

“Exactly who would that be?”

“Well, you know about the fairies here, right? Do you remember a loud, blue one?”

You look at her in disbelief. “Cirno?”

Wriggle nods as the lights of the village get closer. “Yeah. This morning, she was telling everyone who would listen that she had beaten up some wimpy new human-”

She goes on, you think, but you’re only faintly aware of it over a sudden flash of red in your vision and a ringing in your ears.

“- one of Cirno’s friends who apparently also saw you didn’t agree with her, and they had an argument so I don’t think everyone believes that you’re a pushover and are you okay?”

You shake your head. “Yeah, I’m fine. I might need to have some words with a particular ice fairy, though.”

Funny, your vision has cleared up but your ears are still full of that peculiar ringing...

A long-forgotten lesson in exotic monsters flashes to the top of your consciousness.

You whirl around in a combat stance, fires roaring to life in your hands as your drone sweeps its beam across the vicinity. Wriggle starts at your sudden shift.

“Charlotte? What’s the matter?” She asks while following your gaze.

The drone’s flashlight stops over an area of bare dirt the size of an olympic swimming pool. It’s a good distance away with quite a few off-white stones protruding from the surface.

“I don’t get it.” Wriggle says, frowning. “Isn’t that just a patch of dirt?”

A tremor shakes the ground. The patch of dirt starts to rise from the ground, loose soil crumbling away from the white parts in the process. You catch the outline of a massive, grinning skull.

You and Wriggle look at each other.

“Wriggle,” you begin, drawing your flare gun and doing your utmost to keep your voice level...

---

[ ] Run. It can’t get both of you.
[ ] Trust me. Throw PN, then grab Wriggle and haul ass.
[ ] Other?

---

Yourself: Somewhat poisoned.
Wriggle: Injured, grounded, controls bugs and insects.
Gashadokuro: Big, hungry, deceptively fast, and will fuck you up if it gets within claw range.

Combat Assets:

Elementalism: Ever tried burning a bone? Likely to be ineffective against the Gashadokuro
Drone: May be useful as a brief diversion at best.
Knockout Gas Grenade (x1): Animated bone golems don’t need to breathe. Useless.
Pink Noise Grenade (x1): Likely to have at least some effect on the Gashadokuro, but will also incapacitate Wriggle.
No. 184426
[x] Trust me. Throw PN, then grab Wriggle and haul ass.
No. 184427
[x] Trust me. Throw PN, then grab Wriggle and haul ass.

Not the time to half-ass things. Being killable sucks.

Maybe from here on out we should try to stick around Caleb, Junko, and/or a capable local.
No. 184428
[x] Trust me. Throw PN, then grab Wriggle and haul ass.

It's just not our night.
No. 184429
[x] Trust me. Throw PN, then grab Wriggle and haul ass.
No. 184430
[x] Wriggle, run to the village! When I give you the signal, cover your ears!
-[x]Throw the knockout gas to act as cover, change your position, freeze the son of a bitch and bail.
-[x] If it gains on you, warn Wriggle and activate the pink noise grenade

Assuming the knockout gas is based on Fentanyl, it shouldn't be too hard to freeze and it'd stop or, at the very least, slow down our monster. Activating the PN grenade on the go shouldn't be too hard because I doubt it affects humans.
No. 184437
[ ] Trust me. Throw PN, then grab Wriggle and haul ass.

Bridal style. use your drone for extra distracion.

PS: how good is charlotte at handling money? templar supposed to be bankers, right?
No. 184438
>>184437
The Knights Templar have historically handled large amounts of wealth, and the Templar of TSW are guaranteed to be enormously rich.

As for Charlotte, she's competent at managing finances even if her spending is highly unusual.

I've read other quests that have involved monetary decisions, but since I'm not experienced in handling money and I don't want to spend a lot of effort on money as a mechanic I'm thinking about simplifying things to general amounts.
No. 184448
File 143520913677.jpg- (98.44KB , 600x457 , gashadokuro.jpg ) [iqdb]
184448
“...trust me.” You say, and fire the flare straight up. By the time it bursts into a cross of red sparks against the night sky, an innocuous metal canister is sailing through the air towards the shifting mound of bones and you’re running as fast as you can with Wriggle in a bridal carry and the same hungry ringing still in your ears. To her credit, she’s too shocked by the gashadokuro to waste time by flailing around.

“AaaaaaAAAAAHH WHAT’RE YOU DOOOOIIING?” Wriggle cries out, antennae bobbing up and down as you sprint towards the glow of the village. It’s a small mercy that she’s rather light. You consider asking her to not scream when her head is a foot away from yours, but that turns out to be unnecessary.

A moment later, the ringing pauses as you’re struck by a sound like an angle grinder on your eardrums. Even with your inoculation, and even having expected it, the unholy cacophony almost forces you to your knees for a second before you grind your teeth and power through the numbness. Wriggle, meanwhile, has gone limp in your arms with a trail of drool beginning to form at one corner of her mouth.

You keep running past deserted fields, your drone keeping pace with a high-pitched whir and lighting up your path. It might be your eyes playing tricks on you, but there appears to be some activity at the village gate.

You don’t have much time to consider that before the ringing returns with a vengeance and heavy footfalls thud behind you. You bite back a curse and shut out the pounding in your chest.

You don’t have anything to throw down as a diversion. No turrets, no mines, no drones with sufficient ordinance... you might be able to throw a thunderbolt strong enough to stun it if you weren’t burdened with Wriggle.

But dropping her isn’t an option. Death before dishonor - funny how being mortal doesn’t change that, not even with unholy skeletal death bearing down on you.

The crunch of bone digging into dirt is getting louder, and it’s clear that you aren’t going to reach the village walls in time. You are left with a limited selection of very shitty options.

“Char? What did you get yourself into this time?” Sharp with concern, Caleb and Junko’s thoughts reach you at once.

“There’s a big damn bone monster trying to eat me.” You reply, sneaking a fruitless glance over your shoulder. “I can’t outrun this thing!”

“Keine and the chief guard flew over the walls just now, but these dumbfuck guards aren’t letting us past-” Caleb pauses with what could best be described as an impressed silence. “Never mind, Junko just cleared them. I’ll try to cover you from a tower.”

That’s encouraging. You might just make it out after all. You just need to hold out a little longer...

A sudden impact on your back knocks you forward onto the rough ground. Wriggle spills out of your grasp with a yelp, rolling some distance away into a depression by the side of the road. Before you can stand up, a vice-like pressure clamps onto your leg and starts to pull you away.

A misshapen mess of bone looms down on you from the darkness. It’s massive - as tall as a small house, and shaped just like an oversized skeleton. It’s skull is at least the size of a laundry machine, and its teeth are on par with steak knives. An enormous, knobby hand of bone is wrapped around your calf.

You make your feelings on the matter clear, flipping around and blasting a bolt of lightning at your attacker. There’s a tremendous flash and a crack like a tree being split open, and the monster releases you in pain. You recover before it does, although you don’t think you can make another run for it.

Meanwhile, the bone monster leers at you with an oversized grin and empty sockets, sizing you up as a threat or meal. Unfortunately for you, it settles on the latter. The ringing peaks as it lunges forward, jaw unhinging in anticipation of warm flesh and a spray of blood.

You pitch to the side, just managing to evade the clack of its bite, and fling another bolt of lightning at the beast before rolling back on your feet. Before the creature can turn around for another attempt, you spray it with jets of flame as you move away from Wriggle. The fire licks through the ribs, making a macabre beacon of it on the road and causing it to writhe.

Shots crack against the night, and a series of dull crunches accompany the monster as it reels to the side.

“Nailed ‘em!” Caleb declares. “Keep it lit!”

You do just that, launching fire at the skeleton for every step backwards. Even as the ringing continues to escalate to a painful, head-pounding din, even as you register something warm and wet trickling down the sides of your head, a profound stillness spreads through you.

The world narrows to the breath in your lungs and the glow of the orange-red fire engulfing the gashadokuro. You’d swear that you could count the sparks splitting off the main body while you weave away from its blows-

“Heads up!” Junko’s voice registers through your focus, and you notice two new figures enter the scene.
One of them is Keine, gripping a straight-bladed sword and a paper lantern. The second is an unfamiliar woman with long red hair and wearing a purple robe. She appears to be holding a combat shotgun in one hand and throwing a grenade with the other.

You starting running towards the ditch you saw Wriggle land in, and the gashadokuro tries to follow. An incoming swipe is foiled as Keine brandishes her sword, and the monster is left stuttering in place as the newcomer’s grenade bounces toward its feet.

It turns out that Wriggle is still in the ditch, although without serious injury. You nonetheless flatten the two of you against the ground moments before a dull boom goes off, followed by a small shower of dirt.

You take that as your cue to get up again, and you haul Wriggle over your shoulder as you scramble out of the ditch. That’s when the red-haired woman swoops down in front of you, shouting something you can’t quite hear.

Must have been exposure to the ringing effect. On the plus side, you can’t hear that anymore either.

“I CAN’T HEAR YOU!” You shout back at her, then indicate Wriggle. “CAN YOU GET HER OUT OF HERE?”

Red-hair frowns for a moment, then nods and holds out her arms. You foist the still-limp youkai onto her, and she shouts again and points behind you. Turning around reveals a very intact gashadokuro seconds away from breaking free of Keine’s effect.

That’s not good. Keine and the new woman can just fly out of arm’s reach, but you wouldn’t bet on them being able to carry you as well.

Fortunately, it’s at that moment that an olive blur flashes at the edge of your vision and Junko leaps at the creature with her hammer, driving its skull into the ground with a gratifying crash.

“I got this, just go!” She pings you. Further gunshots from Caleb seem to support this, so for what you hope is the last time this night, you start to run the final stretch to the village.

---

The sounds of battle fade as you approach the safety of the walls, and you are blessedly uninterrupted until you reach the village. You see red-hair fly over the walls and say something to the guards, and the gate opens for you. Your adrenaline has worn off by this point, and you half-limp your way over to the nearest bench before plopping down, ignoring the looks the guards give you. It looks like they’re whispering about you, but you’ll have to worry about that later because-

“CALEB!” You shout

You spot the Illuminati agent easing himself down from the wall before jogging over to you. The guards track him with wary eyes, but don’t more beyond mutter among themselves.

“Yeah, yeah, just hold still for a second.”

You feel sharp jabs in both ears, and you shake your head to test your restored hearing. “Thanks for that.”

“No problem.” He says, taking a seat next to you. “So just what happened out there?”

By the time you finish recounting the major details of your outing, Junko has returned as well. She deposits herself on a nearby bench with a groan. Her coat is sporting a few new gashes, and some of her armor is scratched up. Keine and the red-haired villager have also shown up in the meanwhile, although Wriggle isn’t with them.

“That thing.” She begins, lighting up a cigarette. “Was a bitch to fight.”

“I know.” You tell her. “Did you kill it?”

“Nah. Gave it a good smacking and drove it off, but it’s still out there. I figure it ran away once it realized it wasn’t going to be getting eating any of us.”

You frown and turn to Keine. “You couldn’t loop it again?”

She shakes her head. “Things are harder to affect if they’ve been targeted recently. It fled soon after you escaped.”

“Yeah. We just didn’t have a good shot at putting it down tonight.” Junko adds. “These things take a lot of firepower to kill, and it’s hard to lock them down long enough for that. Say, do you still have any of those daisycutters?”

“I’m afraid not.”

The unfamiliar villager speaks up. “Don’t worry. We know it’s out there now, and my boys can fend it off.” She gives you a wide, giddy smile. “I still can’t believe I saw an actual Templar in the flesh! Can I hold your sword?”

“I, um, I don’t use swords.” You tell her.

“But the old stories- Well, that’s fine too.” She says, looking downcast for a second before perking back up. “Anyways, I’m Kotohime.” She says, introducing herself and extending her hand. Her handshake is both crushing and vigorous. “Captain of the guard and Templar culture enthusiast.”

Junko does a commendable job of disguising her laughter as a coughing fit.

“Got a fan club now?” Caleb pings.

“Shove it.”

Kotohime is certainly excited to see you, and asks you repeatedly to visit her at the station sometime. She continues to gush while you rest on the bench. A few minutes later, another guard pulls her off somewhere on official business, and the three of you are left with Keine.

“Is she always that enthusiastic?” You ask her.

“Only when she’s talking about things she likes.” Keine answers with a somewhat apologetic smile. “Such as her job, her hobbies, or the Templar order, as you’ve just seen. As... eccentric as she may be at times, there’s no doubt that she is firmly on the village’s side, and for that I am grateful.”

“Well, I’m sure you are all eager to be on your way, but there is the matter of the youkai child who attacked you.”

“Wriggle, right? Did she make it out okay?” You ask, straightening up in your seat. Between your potion and Caleb’s healing, your injuries have all but disappeared.

“She’s unconscious, but stable.” Keine tells you. “She’s currently recuperating in Eirin’s local clinic.” Her expression hardens ever so slightly. “Something to do with the stress of the chase coupled with a number of interesting injuries. Now, Miss McGallagher, that girl is one of my students, youkai or not, and I won’t stand for this sort of-”

“She’s the one who picked a fight with me.” You retort. “It wasn’t even a spellcard fight, and I have drone footage to prove it.”

Keine blinks at that. “She didn’t use spellcards?”

“Those are supposed to be flashy and intricate, not just chittering swarms of bugs, right? All I knew at the time was that I was being ambushed by a walking biblical plague.”

The teacher groans and covers her face with her hand. “I see. I suppose I’ll have to have words with her once she’s recovered. In any case, I suppose I owe you thanks for bringing her back safely despite whatever conflict you two have had.”

“No problem.” You say, standing up again. “I wouldn’t have just left her there. But as for the future...”

---

[ ] She shouldn’t interfere in your business. For her own good, of course.
[ ] No harm, no foul. She’s probably learned her lesson from today.
No. 184450
[X] No harm, no foul. She’s probably learned her lesson from today.

I figure Wriggle is frightened enough.
No. 184452
[x] No harm no foul
Funny how she disregards the breach of spellcards' rules and attempted murder so lightly. While doing so is the victim's prerogative, it is a poor showing for the, supposedly, impartial guardian of the village.
No. 184453
[ ] No harm, no foul. She’s probably learned her lesson from today.

We've been playing a noble all this time. no need to change that.
No. 184456
[x] No harm, no foul. She’s probably learned her lesson from today.
No. 184457
[x] No harm, no foul. She’s probably learned her lesson from today.
No. 184458
[x] No harm, no foul. She’s probably learned her lesson from today.

We seemed to get along with her rather well, initial fight aside.
No. 184459
[x] No harm, no foul. She’s probably learned her lesson from today.
No. 184462
>>184452
Who said anything about murder?

>“I wasn’t going to try to eat you or anything.” She says softly, guessing what you’re thinking of. “I really wasn’t. It’s just - I heard there was a new human around, someone with a red cross on them, and I just wanted to give you a scare or something, I promise.”

Plus she got her ass kicked for it already.
No. 184469
[X] No harm, no foul. She’s probably learned her lesson from today.

---

“Very well.” Keine says, some of the tension easing out of her posture. “I will be having words with her on adhering to the rules of engagement, and hopefully that will be the end of things. However, I hope this incident has convinced you of how important spellcard proficiency is.”

You nod. “You’re right, but I’m still not sure how I’m supposed to get started with those.”

And you’re not sure if magical dodgeball is the best way to resolve these SLANDEROUS rumors Cirno seems to be spreading about you.

“I would recommend meeting with either myself or another villager as soon as possible. Kotohime is one option, and there are a number of others with enough skill and time to teach the basics.” She waves a hand at Caleb and Junko. “This also applies to you two - the sooner you learn spellcards, the less we have to worry about events such as tonight’s.”

“I heard that Marisa’s supposed to be one of the best in Gensokyo.” Junko adds, smoke curling from her nostrils as she taps cigarette ash onto the cobblestones. “Do you think she might be good to learn from?”

Keine taps a finger against her chin. “Well, I certainly can’t deny that few can match her, but simply being among the best practitioners does not make her one of the best teachers. I’m sure one could glean a great deal from observing her, but I’m skeptical of asking her for lessons.”

She turns to look at you with as much matronly disapproval that someone wearing a pagoda-hat can muster. “Especially given the rather dramatic first impressions you might have of each other.”

“We’ll get it figured out tomorrow.” You say, trying not to smile too much at the memory. “For now, though, I think I should grab something to eat.”

This whole ‘no-bee’ thing is getting to be a real drag, what with having to regularly eat, sleep, and not die. Maybe you should just hole up in a safehouse with a week’s supply of stuff to keep you occupied.

Keine looks skeptical. “This late? The only restaurants still open would have youkai patrons.”

“Anything you trust enough to let into the village at night probably won’t get second looks from us.” Caleb offers. “Like, as long as they don’t serve human flesh, I don’t see a problem.”

“Well, even so...” Keine fidgets with her ribbon before bringing her hands down. “I might also recommend not being visibly... associated with youkai.” She glances around the four of you, but any observers appear to have left by now. “Much of the villagers would not take well to someone with even perceived ties to non-humans. If Reimu was with us, you could see for yourself.”

“I could go into further detail, but it is getting rather late.” She says, getting up and producing a notebook and pen from her person. “I suppose that for now I can give you directions to a reputable late-night restaurant, as well as a list of potential spellcard instructors in the village.” After a bit of writing, she tears out a small page of names for each of you.

---

Yours lists:

Potential Human Spellcard Instructors:
Henderson, Kotohime. Chief of Police, marksman. Confirmed Templar descendant.
Watson, Rika. Engineer, mechanic, pilot. Confirmed Templar descendant.
Takashi, Meira. Police Lieutenant, swordsman.
Asakura, Rikako. Researcher, elementalist, blood mage.

---

There are addresses for each name, and directions on how to reach them from the main roads. You fold the list and stow it for later.

“Thanks.” Caleb says. “By any chance, have you managed to find villagers with ties to the other societies?”

Keine shakes her head. “I’m afraid not. It seems that the Templars did not make an effort to conceal their presence in Gensokyo. Perhaps others will be revealed once I work past the glut.”

“Oh, Charlotte, one last thing.” Keine holds a white paper bag out to you. “Eirin told me of your encounter with a certain blonde-haired youkai last night. I took the liberty of picking this up from her clinic when I brought Wriggle.”

“What is it?”

“Medicine that causes pleasant dreams.” She opens the bag and holds a small bottle of white pills. “Perfectly safe - there’s no risk of becoming addicted, or failing to wake up, and I think you may find it useful if you wish to sleep unmolested.”

Well, it couldn’t hurt. You doubt that it could block out Yukari on its own, but it’s worth a go.

“Hey, do you mind if I borrow one or two? I’d like to get an idea of Eirin’s stuff.” Caleb pings you.

“Sure, I don’t see why not.” You reply.

You accept the package from Keine and thank her for her consideration. Before you part ways, you hand over Wriggle’s belongings to the teacher. Her eyes narrow at the knife, but she just shakes her head and thanks you. With nothing else to say and with the night growing deeper, the three of you say goodbye to the village guardian and head off.
No. 184470
Not much later, you find yourself seated in a booth with your colleagues in corner of a small but busy diner tucked into the side of the village. None of you were expecting to see something like this - stereotypical americana in the magical Japanese boondocks - but warm food and a roof are good enough. A quick check with the proprietor - a stout, balding caucasian man with a New England accent - confirms that Pax Romana coins are valid currency here, although he takes some convincing before he accepts that you aren’t trying to scam him.

True to Keine’s word, you spot a number of youkai among the other diners. Most of them are disguised more poorly than you’ve come to expect from your experience in the field, but that makes sense when the existence of the occult is less of a guarded secret and more of an obvious fact. A few tables have both humans and youkai without incident, though the vast majority of customers sit close to others of their kind.

It’s not too difficult for you to pick out tufts of fur or extra appendages concealed beneath hoods, hats, and long sleeves, but the warm light and the smell of food eases away any tension. In any event, you soon find that the food is pretty decent for the price, though the same can’t be said for the beer. It’s just as well - a closer look at the bottle of dream pills reveals a warning against consuming them with alcohol or any other psychoactive substance. It says that the results can be ...strange, but doesn’t specify much beyond that.

The three of you have changed out of your uniforms at this point, but you still attract some attention from the locals. It’s probably the anachronism, given that most of the people around here typically wear simple kimonos . You’re wearing a maroon rugby hoodie. Caleb is wearing a plain white shirt with the sleeves rolled up and a black tie. Junko is wearing a green button-up blouse.

Once the food is taken care of, the topic of discussion shifts to each of your activities for the day.

“The Hakurei Shrine’s still rubble.” Junko says, picking at her plate. “There’s no leftover Filth, but nobody’s going to be worshipping there anytime soon.”

“Told you it would be a waste of time.” Caleb refills his cup with a bottle from his own stash.

“Not completely. Turns out that there’s a small spring some ways behind the shrine that the fighting missed. Right now, there’s this big-ass tortoise that belongs to Reimu and an Inchling girl chilling out over there.”

“No way, an actual Inchling?” You lean forward with your elbows on the table.

“Yeah, about this tall.” Junko measures out around five inches with her thumb and index fingers. “She says her name’s ‘Sukuna Shinmyoumaru’, that she’s a princess of some sort or another, and that she and the tortoise, Genji, ran to safety when the fighting started.”

“How are the fairies doing?” You ask.

“Those three seem to be doing alright. The fairy that got hit, the red one - Sunny? She’s still sleeping it off. Her two friends were kind of jittery, so I didn’t spend a lot of time with them.”

Junko’s expression turns serious, and she leans forward as well. “So you know the Anima well that we rezzed from? The big oak tree? According the them, it was put there by Yukari.”

That gets the attention of both you and Caleb. “How’d she do that?” He asks.

Junko shrugs. “I’m not too sure, since I’m just going off of what the fairies said, but it looks like that tree used to be dead. The three stooges happened to be out looking for a new home when they bumped into Yukari, and one spellcard thrashing later, they move next to the shrine. That revived the tree, and they say it’s doing better now than it was before. I’m thinking that the well opened up when they moved in.”

You frown. “Are you sure?”

“Like I said, not one hundred percent. A lot of this is conjecture. But they told me that fairies can sort-of sense these things. Anima things. Maybe they come back from the same spots we do.”

“I’d rather not test that last bit.” Caleb says. “Still might be worth looking into, though, since they seem to be endemic to this place.”

Junko nods and grinds her cig into an ashtray. “Yeah. Anyways, not much happened up there after that. The inchling told me that the shrine didn’t get a lot of traffic even when it wasn’t blown to bits. When I came back to the village, though, I ran into this crow tengu, Aya Shameimaru. She’s a journalist, or as close to one as you can get in here.”

Well, the total destruction of the Hakurei shrine was bound to turn some heads.

“Is she a good one?” Caleb asks.

“All I know is that she’s annoying as all fuck. Caught me as I was coming down, started asking me loaded questions all the way back to the village. The guards delayed her long enough for me to slip away.”

“You didn’t tell her anything, did you?” You ask before taking a bite out of a chicken skewer.

“Nah. Tuned her out and gave non-answers all the way. ‘Course, she probably won’t quit, so for now just keep an eye out for a tengu with shoulder-length black hair, about this tall, with an old Zenit-E camera.”

“We should look into getting positive publicity, though, since being covert isn’t an option at this point.” Caleb says. “It would make getting things done a lot smoother.”

“As long as it doesn’t take away from getting actual work done.” You add.

“Yeah, of course.” He says. “Speaking of actual work, I found an Anima well. It’s this little garden in the middle of the village with a statue of an Asian dragon. Apparently, it’s the major figure of the creation myth of this place, though people only call it ‘The Dragon’. No relation to green team, as far as I can tell.”

“Shucks.” Junko says, reaching over to help herself to something fried. “Did you manage to find anything else about it?”

Caleb’s expression turns frustrated. “No, because a certain fox appears to appropriated just about every document on anything meaningful earlier than a decade or so ago. The villagers don’t seem to have left many good sources to begin with.”

Junko’s eyebrow arches. “You’re sure it’s her?”

“Yeah, I’m sure. A girl working in a bookstore named Suzunaan let the name slip, says she took a handful of books from a number of stores and libraries. I gave her a call to confirm. ”

“Wait, how’d you do that?” You ask.

“Check your phone.” He tells you.

Sure enough, there is a new contact listed: ‘Yakumo, Ran’, complete with a Japanese phone number and a professional-looking picture of the Kitsune.

Junko tsk’s in annoyance from across the table with her own phone on. “Shit, she probably did this last night, probably did something while we were sending messages through.”

“Well, it makes sense.” You add. “If we’re being kept on retainer, she’ll want to have good channels of communication.”

Caleb nods. “Yeah. It’s a shame that she’s the only person we can call without her approval, but there’s not much we can do about that for now. Anyways, official word from her is that this is temporary, though she strongly suggested that more information would be made available if we prove reliable, or trustworthy.”

Junko snorts. “It’s a leash. Even if we do work for that info, she’s just going to spoonfeed us watered-down info that makes her and her boss look good. Besides, what’s stopping us from waiting a month for Keine to tell us, or just talking to someone?”

“Only Ran is likely to have access to the whole picture, though.” Caleb shoots back. “But you’re right, we definitely need to talk to people from all over, cross-reference things. I haven’t checked the village’s official records yet, and if she can just walk in and demand those, we’ve got a bigger problem than just spotty intel.”

“As for Keine - yeah, she’s pretty friendly with us, I figure this place has a greater need than most for humans that can stand against the occult, but there are limits to the trust of someone who’s only known you for two days.”

“Still, it looks pretty straightforward to get into her good books.” You say. “Support humans without being a dick to youkai that don’t deserve it. Nothing new to us.”

For your part, you tell them about the odd behavior of the fairies, your discovery of Rumia’s cave, your findings on the lake, and your exchange with Wakasagihime.

“Personally, I would have just given her a wad of Pax and been done with it.” Junko says, after you finish. “You can probably talk with the engineer Keine told us about if you need a place to work, though. Rika, right? The Templar descendant? Come to think of it, do we even know if most of the villagers care about-”

She cuts off, eyes suddenly widening at some unnoticed stimuli.

“Guys, start talking about something. Anything. The weather.” She pings.

You and Caleb both give Junko odd looks, but oblige her request.

“So, nice weather we’ve been having lately.” You begin.

“Yup. Nice and sunny today, not a lot of clouds, though you can feel things starting to chill-”

“Okay, I’ve got it now.” Junko pings, shifting straighter. “There are two people somewhere behind me. “One is the reporter. I’m not sure who the other is, but she’s not human, and she’s dictating our conversation to her.”

That’s no good.

You almost mutter a curse under your breath and scan the room as casually as you can. Almost on the other side of the restaurant, in a booth near the door, are two figures. Both are dressed like villagers, as far as you can tell, but the one facing away from your table is hunched over as if writing, with black hair in an unkempt ponytail and a tengu’s tapered ears. The other one is wearing a hood, but you glimpse white hair and red eyes before discretion necessitates turning away. “Spotted them. How long have they been listening?”

“Definitely not when we first started talking. Probably sometime in the middle of Caleb speaking.” Her face darkens in a scowl. “I think we should pay them a friendly visit.”

---

[ ] Continue talking as if nothing has changed.
-[ ] ...in German.
[ ] Walk over and introduce yourselves.
[ ] Leave and see if they follow you outside.
No. 184471
[X] Walk over and introduce yourselves.
No. 184472
[ ] Walk over and introduce yourselves.

Well, as was said, we're looking for positive publicity, here's our chance to try to make some. and possibly counteract Cirno's slander.

Then again, this is Aya we're talking about here. it might backfire.
No. 184473
[x] Walk over and introduce yourselves.
No. 184476
[x] Walk over and introduce yourselves.
No. 184477
[X] Walk over and introduce yourselves.
-[X] ...in German.

Is there any other way to do this?
No. 184479
[X] Continue talking as if nothing has changed.
-[X] ...in German.
No. 184480
[X] Continue talking as if nothing has changed.
-[X] ...in German.

So, white hair and red eyes. Ring any bells on who it might be? Because I'm drawing a blank.
No. 184481
File 143591807241.jpg- (68.77KB , 472x472 , nothing to awoo about.jpg ) [iqdb]
184481
>>184480
nigga is you being serious
No. 184482
File 143592764832.webm- (3.51MB , 1411210518336.webm ) [iqdb]
184482
>>184481
... Tewi?
No. 184490
[X] Continue talking as if nothing has changed.
-[X] ...in German.
No. 184498
[x] Continue talking as if nothing has changed.
-[x] ...in German.
No. 184499
[X] Introducing yourselves for a friendly chat
No. 184556
[x] Walk over and introduce yourselves.

---

After a bit of planning, you all stand up as if finished with the meal and head for the exit. The proprietor passes your coins through a bunsen burner’s flame - a security measure against tanuki forgeries, he explains.

It’s good to see that the villagers have picked up a few tricks, but you’re about to pull one of your own. You steal another glance at Aya’s table as the three of you walk towards the door...

“Now.” Junko pings.

The three of you descend on their table. In three fluid motions, you slider next to the reporter and Caleb next to the albino. Junko grabs an empty chair from elsewhere and seats herself at the head of the table, leaning over the seat back. The eyes of the reporter’s accomplice go wide in shock, and you spot a set of very prominent canines as she scowls.

Aya, however, is still writing as though she hasn’t been cornered and outnumbered in less time than it takes to yawn.

“‘-wad of Pax-’ What country uses them, Momiji?” She whispers, head still bent over the table.“I don’t think it’s any of the big ones. Momiji?”

She finally glances up to see three expectantly grinning humans and one vexed wolf tengu.

Caleb raises a hand in acknowledgement “Sup?”

“Ayaya?” She exclaims, almost jumping out of her seat. “How- I mean, uh, hello. You must be the new humans!”

Momiji’s eyes narrow as they pass over the three of you in turn. “It is rude to intrude on strangers. I thought that even humans knew this.”

“Yeah, well, it’s pretty rude to eavesdrop.” Junko replies, shrugging. “I mean, if you really wanted to know about us, you could have asked. I promise we don’t bite.”

There is a pair of slight twitches from beneath Momiji’s hood and a narrowing of her eyes. Aya’s enthusiasm, however, remains undampened.

“In that case, it looks like formal introductions are in order!“ She says, tugging her hair out of the messy ponytail. “I’m Aya Shameimaru, editor and and journalist for the Bunbunmaru newspaper. My friend here is -”
“Momiji Inubashira.” The tengu interrupts, continuing to glower. “Mountain guardsman.”

“Yes, that’s right.” Aya says, nonplussed at her dour companion. “Anyways, if you wouldn’t mind, I’d like to conduct a quick interview with you guys. You’re the biggest thing to happen to this place since the whole mess with the amanojaku a couple years back.”

“That’s fine, so long as you have better questions this time.” Junko responds.

The three of you introduce yourselves as well, and Aya flips open her notepad. “Alright! To start off, how did you arrive in Gensokyo?”

Caleb takes charge. “The exact details are classified, but I can assure you that it was unplanned.”

“Hm. Would any of you like to comment on last night’s destruction of the Hakurei Shrine?”

“It would have been worse without us. If you would like more information, you’d have to ask Ran.”

“Aha! Are you servants of the Yakumo?”

“We’ve agreed to abide by certain conditions they have set, but are not otherwise affiliated with them.”

“Then the Outsider groups you are part of - are you here to represent their interests?”

“In a purely observational and investigative capacity, yes.”

Momiji snorts. “The lot of you are awfully well-armed for mere observers.”

Caleb spreads his hands. “Circumstances of our arrival.”

“And was that in any way related to the destruction of the Hakurei shrine?”

“Yes, we collaborated with a number of locals to successfully neutralize a common threat to the area. The destruction of the shrine was unfortunate, though unavoidable.”

“Are you here to visit the horrors of war upon this peace-loving land?”

“Absolutely not.”

“Even the one in red?”

You frown. “No.”

Aya taps the end of her pen against her chin. “I see, I see. I’m sure the readers will be happy to know this.” She turns to face Junko. “And you, the green swordswoman! I have sources claiming that you ‘ninja-ran up the village walls’. Do you have anything to say about that?”

“They exaggerated. It’s not like I ran straight up it, all the way. Besides, it wasn’t that tall of a wall to begin with.”

“So you’re saying that the village defenses are woefully inadequate?”

“I never...” Junko looks peeved. “Well, since the village is still around, I’d say that the walls have been good enough.”

“It’s not like they’d keep out anyone who can fly.” She pings. “Which seems like a lot of people around here.”

The questioning continues for a while after that, on less sensitive topics. Aya occasionally attempts to bait one of you, but she doesn’t get much of out it. She does ask a few questions about your respective societies, and the more delicate of those are quickly shut down. The rest are minor; you find yourself repeating the introduction you gave at Eientei.

For her part, Momiji does a good job of appearing uninterested, but there’s a certain alertness about her that you pick up. It’s the same quiet, relaxed confidence that you’ve seen in so many veteran Templars. If she’s a soldier, she’s probably been sizing you up for a while.

Aya concludes her writing with a satisfied flourish of her pen. “Aya! You’ve given me quite a bit to work with. Now, being new to Gensokyo, I don’t suppose you have any questions of your own?”

---

Vote for up to 4 options.

---

Ask about...

[ ] Recent Events
- [ ] What was that about an Amanojaku?
- [ ] What sort of incidents have you been involved with?
- [ ] Anything interesting developments?
[ ] Local Groups
- [ ] Barrier
- [ ] Eientei
- [ ] Human Village
- [ ] Makai
- [ ] Moriya Gods
- [ ] Myouren Temple
- [ ] Senkai
- [ ] SDM
- [ ] Youkai Mountain
- [ ] Underground
- [ ] Other?
[ ] Specific Individuals
- [ ] What’s the deal with Koishi?
- [ ] Tell me a bit about Reimu.
- [ ] Anything we should know about the Yakumos?
- [ ] I’ve heard about a Tanuki around here.
- [ ] Write-in.
[ ] Other
- [ ] How do spellcards and flight work?
- [ ] How often do outsiders appear in Gensokyo?
- [ ] How well does the Bunbunmaru sell?
- [ ] What’s with the... ‘ayayaya’... thing?
- [ ] Write-in.
No. 184557
- [X] What’s the deal with Koishi?
This. She's a threat to our continued existence, or at least a possible threat that has proven itself to be a threat once.

- [X] Tell me a bit about Reimu.
Because she's Reimu, and waaaay too important. We can't not know nothing about her.

- [X] How do you fly?
They really need to fly, and I think learning from the strongest fastest is going to be good for them.
No. 184559
[x] Yakumos
[x] Eientei
[x] Youkai mountain (specially the Moriyas)
[x] SDM
No. 184561
- [X] How do spellcards and flight work?
- [X] Anything we should know about the Yakumos?
- [X] I’ve heard about a Tanuki around here.
- [X] Anything interesting developments?
No. 184563
[ ] Recent Events
- [X] What was that about an Amanojaku?

If We know what that is, we should ask. If we don't know what that is, as kinda-monster hunters, we should find out so we know if we find it.

[ ] Specific Individuals
- [X] What’s the deal with Koishi?
- [X] Anything we should know about the Yakumos?

We should learn about the Yakumos as much as possible while here.

And any more information on the little girl who can kill us in our sleep with no warning and spread corruption easier than most governments is helpful, too.

[ ] Other
- [X] How do spellcards and flight work?

It's important, ya' know? But this isn't to be considered my vote unless you really aren't allowing the ayaya option.

- [X] What’s with the... ‘ayayaya’... thing?

I can't not. I just can't.
No. 184567
- [x] Anything interesting developments?

Current events. Best to have a handle on goings-on.

- [x] Tell me a bit about Reimu.

I get the feeling we should be as familiar as possible with Gensokyo's currently M.I.A. balancing force.

- [x] Anything we should know about the Yakumos?

Because Yukari, at least, is currently tripping about half of the Secret Worlder flags for "kinda sorta maybe not trustworthy."

- [x] How do spellcards and flight work?

Newcomer to Gensokyo 101: We Danmaku Now.
No. 184582
I'm going clubbing in Queenstown with a girl who previously bought me a drink
I have no goddamn idea what I'm doing
No. 184584
>>184582
[x] Give her the Bee.
No. 184585
>>184584
Sage is a four letter word.
No. 184586
>>184582
I know what you're doing: you're giving her both kidneys. Hope you enjoy your ice bath.

Jk chill and keep your pasta in your pockets
No. 184590
Just found this story and read through everything thus far, and I have to say it's pretty fantastic. I'd barely heard of The Secret World before, but the lore you've mixed in seems really interesting, and the characterization's fun and better than I'm used to for both the Touhous and OCs. Plus all the intrigue and mystery so far is very curious, hope to see more of that (not that there's anything wrong with the current sort of character interactions). Keep up the good work, hope you didn't drop too much spaghetti.

Anyway:
- [x] What’s the deal with Koishi?
- [x] Tell me a bit about Reimu.
- [x] How do spellcards and flight work?
- [x] I’ve heard about a Tanuki around here.

Really wanted to pick the 'ayayaya' option, but these should be higher priority. Was torn between asking about the Yakumos and Mamizou, but I'd rather learn about the latter right this moment: we could easily see her around the village, plus she was from the Outside and might know some secrets Aya wouldn't about the situation and the local players. As for Koishi, I want to keep her on Char's mind (as much as possible). Not least because I have some suspicions that the 'voices' Koishi heard weren't actually Yukari's fault- not directly, at least.
No. 184594
File 143745535150.png- (89.46KB , 500x711 , Dank NECO (anon post).png ) [iqdb]
184594
>>184582
Lost Bee OP in "My Teenage Clubbing Delusions were as Wrong as I Expected"
No. 184749
File 143965957781.jpg- (216.81KB , 525x700 , 3ea9d3c8972d1c402534a89c5caac8f9.jpg ) [iqdb]
184749
[X] How do spellcards and flight work?
[X] What’s the deal with Koishi?
[X] Tell us a bit about Reimu.
[X] Anything we should know about the Yakumo?

---

Aya flashes a spotless grin.“Looking to join in on the local sport, eh? I’m no slouch at it, if I do say so myself. The good news is that it’s easy to get started. Making spellcards is simple, all you need is something nice to write on. I could make one out of this napkin if I really wanted to. In fact...”

The reporter demonstrates by scribbling on the white paper with practiced motions. After a few seconds, the napkin is now framed by a border with a few lines of tengu script in the center and a simplified maple leaf drawn in each corner. She presses a finger to it, and the ink glows a deep red before returning to normal.

You raise an eyebrow. “That’s all it takes? A napkin?”

“I said it was possible, not that you should literally use whatever scrap of paper you have handy. Not if you care about winning, that is.”

She tears the improvised spellcard in half, red sparks leaking from the ripped ends, and tosses it away. “That was just to show you just how easy it is to start. Just pick something significant to you, something that you understand, and find a way to put it on paper. If it lights up like that, you’re good to go.”

Caleb’s brow furrows as he thinks on that. “What sort of thing do you mean?”

“A life experience, a way of thinking, a skill, something or someone you appreciate, an expression of will.” Aya ticks them off on her fingers “The more it means to you, the stronger a spellcard based on it tends to be.”

Junko frowns. “That sounds kind of odd to me. Does that means people in a spellcard duel are putting their lives on display for anyone watching? Who came up with that?”

An amused smile spreads across Aya’s face. “Reimu did, something around ten years ago.”

“Ten years ago? She can’t be older than twenty at most. How’d a child come up with something like that?”

Aya shrugs. “Your guess is as good as mine. She probably had help from madam boundary, but I’d say Reimu still deserves most of the credit.”

Something like Yukari can still be shown up by a little girl? “What makes you so sure?” You ask.

“Ah, thats-” Aya cuts herself off with a cheeky grin. “Call it a hunch. Maybe some other time, eh?”

You’re not that convinced. “Alright then. So how does it all work?”

She shrugs. “All I can tell you is that it involves some weird, complicated stuff with the Barrier. I’d say to ask Reimu about it, but... you guys already know. Same deal with flight, by the way.”

“Barrier-powered?”

“More or less. Using it couldn’t be easier, but as for the how?” Aya shakes her head. “It’s Barrier stuff. Nobody but the Hakurei and our resident sukima-onna really know how it works.”

That’s a pity. You were hoping that someone here had found a legitimate workaround for the physics of personal flight. Still, the Barrier itself sounds more intriguing every time you hear about it. Its ability to be tapped into is especially interesting, but probably not worth a confrontation at this point.

“So how do you start flying, then?” Junko asks. “Forget about what’s under the hood. If I wanted to get myself in the air, how would I start?”

“Now that’s something I understand a lot better.” She puffs up her chest as she continues. ”Don’t mean to brag, but I’m just about the best flier in Gensokyo, human or tengu.”

Momiji snorts from beside her. “Just as long as you don’t keep us here all night talking about it.”

Aya pouts in return before turning back. “Flight runs off a specific enchantment, a simple little thing that you can install just about wherever. Most folks put it on their clothes for the convenience, but you can get some stronger performance if you put it on an external focus. I know that Marisa Kirisame, the klepto-witch human, keeps her primary one on her broomstick.”

“So how does someone get a flight enchantment around here?” Caleb asks. ”If this is a Reimu thing, we’re going to be waiting a while.”

“I have good news for you, then!” Aya claps her hands together with a giddy energy. “Flight’s something that was worked out before Reimu’s time, and people have been tweaking it for years. I’m sure that Keine can get something for you if you ask nicely.”

You rest your head on clasped hands. “You know, if personal flight is something that can be casually given away around here, why haven’t I seen more people flying?”

“Well, flight’s pretty exhausting. Most of the villagers wouldn’t bother when they hardly go past the fields. Takes a bit of time to learn proper control, too.”

Her voice dips. “And beyond that? I’m not sure if you picked it up yet, but a lot of the humans - and I’m talking your average, non-hakutaku, non-reincarnating human - they aren’t too fond of anything that reminds them of Youkai.”

“To the point of avoiding magic?” Caleb looks disdainful. “That’s not the reaction I would have expected.”

An amused grin dances at the edges of Momiji’s mouth. It is distinctly wolf-like. “Yes. It will be interesting to see how they view you. Particularly your... restorative powers.”

“Be a little more polite to the newcomers, Momiji!” The crow tengu chastises her companion, who remains unabashed.

Junko shows little concern as she leans back. “Psh. What’s the worst they’ll do, say mean things behind our backs? We’ll deal with whatever comes.”

You try to break the silence that follows. “Anyways, you mentioned Reimu a lot. Is there anything worth knowing about her?

“Ayaya, where to begin.” Aya exhales as she leans back. “I’m sure you know the basics. The inventor of spellcard dueling who flies around to smack up troublemakers?”

You nod. “Yeah. How good of a job does she do as peacekeeper?”

“Eh, she does a good job, all things considered. Spellcards mean that people get killed a lot less, but things are still kind of tense between all the different groups. Reimu’s a good person, but not terribly proactive. Unless it’s something interspecies or something big, and I mean ‘blot out the sun’ big, is going on, she probably won’t be bothered to check it out.”

“So if there’s human-on-human violence or tengu-on-tengu violence, it’s not her problem?”

“Yup. Hakurei are supposed to be mediators, after all. If it’s an internal matter, people have to handle it on their own.”

“Do people around here like Reimu, considering that she seems to have beaten up everyone?”

“How do I put this... Reimu gets along with everyone, but she’s only close to a few people. Marisa, for example, as well as Suika and the inchling princess.” Aya sighs. “It might be due to her mom passing so early in her childhood.”


“Oh. That’s unfortunate.” Caleb says. “Who looked after her while she was growing up? Yuka-”

“Ayaya!” The crow’s eyes go wide as she leans in. “That’s a weighty name to be throwing around!”

Momiji’s lip curls as her ears flick low against her head. “You would do well to avoid drawing the attention of the mistress of gaps so casually. She tends to make life difficult for everyone involved.”

You oblige them by lowering your voice as well. “She can listen in on anyone whenever she feels like it?”

“She might be, as far as we know.” Aya’s eyes flick over the rest of the restaurant. A good number of the patrons have left by now, but nobody seems to be paying undue attention to you. “She’s creepy, powerful, and likes the color purple. That’s the extent of common knowledge on her. In any case, she’s in charge around here, and that’s not going to change anytime soon, so you guys might as well get used to it.”

“As for her immediate contacts, you said you already met Ran. She’ll talk your ear off about crazy math stuff when she’s not busy keeping things in order, but she’s pretty reasonable most of the time. Loves herself some fried tofu. Ran herself has a familiar of her own, a nekomata named Chen. She’s a nice kid, but just that - a child. It’s really their boss that’s the question mark.”

“Do you know anything about their pasts, especially before Gensokyo?”

Aya shakes her head. “You wouldn’t believe how tight-lipped they are. There are plenty of rumors about Ran and her mistress, but I don’t think you’d like to sift through all of them right now. Chen, at least, is too young to have done much.”

That’s still not a lot of information, but at least you’re filling in some of the blanks. It seems that just about everybody, from Lunarians to Satori, Humans, and Tengu hesitate to so much as say Yukari’s name. Whether or not you also have reason to share their apprehension remains to be seen.

“Anything else?” Aya asks.

“I’ve, ah, heard some worrying things about Koishi.” You say. “Do you know anything?”

Aya cocks her head at you. “Who?”

Oh, right. “Satori Komeiji’s sister. The one who does things with the subconscious and makes it hard to notice her?”
No. 184750
“Oh, right, her!” Aya’s face brightens, then sobers a little. “Aya, another heavy topic. Satori doesn’t like people talking about Koishi. Most people just plain don’t like her. I guess that’s where the trouble started. Poor kid tried to shut out all the psychic hate and did too good of a job. She’s a sweet girl, but it’s just about impossible for most people to help her now.”

“Are Satori especially disliked around here?”

“Well, let’s just say that when even the other residents of Old Hell give you a wide berth, yeah, there’s a bit of a problem.”

“How’d Satori become ruler of the Underground, then?”

“By not being easy to assassinate.” Momiji states, in a blunt tone.

“Good for her.” Junko says, giving the wolf tengu an odd look. “We’re not out to pick fights with people, you know.”

“I’ll believe it when I see it.” Momiji says as she leans back.

Damn. That tengu really isn’t here to make friends.

“So is there anything that can be done about Satori psionics, apart from just avoiding them?”

“The Kappa might have something, if you can afford it. Emphasis on ‘might’. Either way, you didn’t hear it from me.”

This could be a problem later on. You’ve always relied on your Bee’s conferred protections when it came to psychics, but at this point it seems prudent to look up conventional defenses.

“But what about Koishi? How do people deal with her wandering all over the place?”

“Well, I’d bet most of them never notice. The worst she would get around to might be something like grabbing some sweets.”

“What if she gets into somewhere private? Like the vampire mansion, or Eientei?”

“Hm.” Aya looks thoughtful. “Well, I’m not sure why she’d be subconsciously attracted to either of those places, but even if someone were to catch her, they’d have to let her go unless they want to climb to the very top of Satori’s shit list. Besides, just because you can’t notice her doesn’t mean she can bust through walls. If you made a place secure or inhospitable enough, she’d probably stay away.”


By this point, most of the other customers have left the restaurant, and you notice several of the waitstaff looking at the remaining clientele expectantly.

“Well, thanks for taking the time to tell us all this, Aya.”

The Tengu flashes a bright smile at you. “Ah, don’t mention it. Helping some newcomers ease in is the least I can do. By the way, if you ever want a leg up when it comes to flight and spellcards, give me a call. I’m sure we can work something out. How do interviews for lessons sound?”

“We’ll have to give it some thought.” Caleb tells her. “Good night.”

With that, your group leaves both the tengu pair and the restaurant behind.

“That went alright.” Junko says once Momiji is out of earshot. “Considering that the wolf had a stick up her ass the whole time.”

“She was probably getting a read on potential troublemakers.” You say. “I might have done the same in her position.”

“Eh. tengu tend to stick to themselves if they can help it, and if they’ve got an entire mountain of their own, I don’t see why’d to go out of their way to get involved with human business.”

“Trade?” Caleb suggests.

“Possibly, but they’ve got the Kappa as neighbors. I guess we’ll have to look into this later.”

A short while later, you find a decent inn near the restaurant. Once again, you suspect that this place caters to a large number of youkai. Still, that’s what you would expect when there aren’t any other human population centers. At least it doesn’t seem to be the raunchier sort of hotel, though the human clerk shoots a mildly-impressed look at Caleb as he gives you your keys. You and Junko just roll your eyes.

The room itself is somewhat drab, with the slight lemon odor of chemical cleaner. Like many buildings in the human village, it’s an odd mix between antique and modern. Right now, though, it just feels like any ordinary cheap hotel, because the fatigue of today’s events is finally catching up with you.

A quick text to Ran confirms that nothing Filthy has shown up yet, which cheers you all up. Caleb and June might still be as ready to fight extradimensional horror as always, but Eirin told you not to risk it.

Speaking of Eirin, you pull out the dream pills that Keine got you. The printed instructions recommend taking an amount of pills proportional to the intensity of the nightmares, up to a maximum of three for an adult human. Like Keine said, there appear to be no harmful effects if the dosage is followed, but on a scale of one to three, where does ‘the local reality-warper invading your dream about the end of the world’ fall?”

At least you have both of your colleagues in the same room as you. They’ll be working to compile some of the information from Akyuu’s book, but between the two of them you doubt there will be any physical surprises. Assuming that Satori fulfills her end of the deal, Koishi will be an issue tonight. Still, you need to figure out some line of communication with her.

---

How many pills do you take?
[1] Mild dose. You’re not too sure about how helpful this will be, but it’s worth a go.

[2] Moderate dose. Your bee might complicate the effects of the pill. A controlled amount could be more reliable.

[3] Intense dose. If Yukari wants to mess with your dreams, you won’t make it easy on her.

[4] Extreme dose. Screw it, you deserve some happy dreams once in a while.

[0] No dose. Let’s see if anything happens tonight before making a call.

---

Hooray for finally not being either sick or jetlagged.
No. 184751
[3] Intense dose. If Yukari wants to mess with your dreams, you won’t make it easy on her.

No nightmare fuckery for us, no sirree
No. 184753
[2] Moderate dose. Your bee might complicate the effects of the pill. A controlled amount could be more reliable.
No. 184755
[1] Mild dose. You’re not too sure about how helpful this will be, but it’s worth a go.
No. 184758
[2] Moderate dose. Your bee might complicate the effects of the pill. A controlled amount could be more reliable.
No. 184759
[2] Moderate dose. Your bee might complicate the effects of the pill. A controlled amount could be more reliable.
No. 184762
[2] Moderate dose. Your bee might complicate the effects of the pill. A controlled amount could be more reliable.

We should test the effects before taking a full dose, but one might not be enough.
No. 184763
[6] I wanna be the druglord dose. Screw it all! I can be happy when I want to.
No. 184764
[1] Mild dose. You’re not too sure about how helpful this will be, but it’s worth a go.

Am I the only one who'd actually want another chat with Yukari, so we can get more hints about what's going on behind the scenes? Not taking any dose seems too dangerous, but it seems probable that she'd be able to bypass a single pill. We don't really know how these will help defend against other dangers, admittedly: I got the definite sense from last time that something other than Yukari was affecting Charlotte's mind and/or dream. Possibly just the Filth we've been exposed to, possibly something more.
No. 184765
[2] Moderate dose. Your bee might complicate the effects of the pill. A controlled amount could be more reliable.
No. 184782
[2] Moderate dose. Your bee might complicate the effects of the pill. A controlled amount could be more reliable.
No. 184802
[2] Moderate dose. Your Bee might complicate the effects of the pill. A controlled amount could be more reliable.

---

From what you’ve seen, Eirin’s skill is indisputable, but it’s hard to say if a few over-the-counter pills can shut out something like Yukari. Still, it’s worth a shot. Considering that this is your first time using them, you opt for the balanced dose.

You swallow two white caplets and lie down to sleep. The mattress is lumpy, but your eyes are already struggling to stay open by the time you head reaches the pillow. Sleep comes soon after.

---

You’re not alone.

Drifting in darkness, you can’t shake the feeling that you’re being watched in the same way a vulture tracks its meals. Or is it how a parent looms over their child in its crib?

You’re getting mixed signals, like different whispers at the periphery of each ear. Now why does that feel so familiar?

The blur of the dream resolves into something tangible. You’re lying with your head in someone’s lap, your hair stroked by the gentle sun and a warm hand. A female voice hums a melody that tickles some faint familiarity at the back of your mind.

It’s... nice. But someone’s here with you, and that means you can’t sit back and invite further intrusion. You push through the haze of your dream, opening your eyes and turning your face upwards to who you’re resting on.

The humming stops. You don’t get far before a hand clamps down over your eyes, and you realize with a chill that the same force that stroked your head could just have easily punched through it. Thankfully, they seem content to avoid that as long as you don’t try to move.

You open your mouth to say something, to ask what’s going on, to protest, but your voice is nowhere to be found.

A finger is brushed against your lips and a feminine voice, distorted and unrecognizable, speaks. “Don’t fret. You are safe here.”

‘Safe from what?’ You try to ask. You don’t succeed, but the speaker seems to understand.

“From those who would lead you astray.”

The both of you are interrupted by something that could best be described as tittering laughter crossed with bursts of static. The hand over your eyes tightens.

“You do realize that she doesn’t belong to you, correct?” The interloper says. “None of them do. Chosen choose for themselves.”

“Then I will guide them toward the right choices.” The lap-voice growls.

“Will you really? I don’t recall you having much success with that. Not even with the most recent-”

“She was an outlier. If you hadn’t gotten your wretched strings all over her, things would never have gotten to this point.”

Soft laughter from the intruder, calling to mind the rising and popping of soap bubbles. “Your gifts are no less bondage than mine. In the end, we hold such little power over their potential.”

Even through the dreaminess, you can sense just how badly the first voice wants to snap a retort to that.

“Then we have no more to discuss.”

“Oh, we have plenty to discuss, just not with her around.”

There’s silence for a moment, then what sounds like a begrudging grunt in the affirmative. Suddenly, you find yourself being lifted up, feeling almost weightless -

---

You creak open your eyes to the pale orange-blue light of dawn. Caleb and Junko are still working, with Caleb writing in a notebook and Junko shuffling through a pile of paper on her desk.

“Morning.” You mumble as you sit up in bed.

“Morning.” They both reply.

Caleb looks up from his notes. “How was it? You were shifting around not too long ago.”

You grimace. “How bad did it get?”

“Nothing too big.” Junko answers, still looking at her notes. “You weren’t saying anything, and you didn’t make any big movements, so we figured it would be best to let you sleep.”

You shake your head. “It started out nice enough, but then things got... weird. There were two people arguing with each other - I almost get the feeling that they were parents. My parents?”

“Do you feel like somebody fucked with your head?”

You think back to what you can remember. The details elude you right now, but you don’t recall any memories being examined, altered, or implanted.

“No.” You tell him. “I’m fine.”

He nods. “Don’t overthink it, then.”

With some reluctance, you get up from the bed and stretch your back. “So what did you guys get done?”

“Some notes on recent events, the locals, and what to expect when dealing with them, on or off the battlefield. Something we found is that there’s a settlement of Tsukumogami by the Forest of Magic.”

“They’re the newest little polity to emerge in this place.” Junko says. “Turns out there was something that happened with an artifact in the hands of an Amanojaku, and lots of adult Tsuku got formed. They’re being led by one Raiko Horikawa, a drum who, interestingly enough, only started to register on the political radar in the immediate aftermath of that incident.”

“She also happens to look a little like you.” Caleb adds.

“What? Let me see that.” You walk over to them and pull a photo off Caleb’s desk.

Well, she has the general color scheme down with the red and whites of her outfit. Discounting the massive drums floating behind her, she wouldn’t look out of place at Temple Hall. As for personal resemblance... maybe if you had a habit of leaving your coat unbuttoned, and dyed your hair red, it would be close. You estimate that you’re taller than her, but the drums make it difficult to be sure.

Leaving that aside, the photograph depicts her standing upright, looking straight into the camera with a confident, self-assured smile. Everything about her shouts ‘leader!’ to you, the kind of person that can give a speech and make anyone feel like it’s a one-on-one affair.

“Well, that’s interesting.” You say, handing the photo back. “We should check in with them sometime.”

Caleb nods. “Making more connections is never a bad thing, and if they’re new, it stands to reason they won’t have the biases of some other groups.”

“Any news from Ran?”

Junko shakes her head. “All clear for Filth.”

Well, nobody’s dead or infected, your heart is still beating, and you haven’t been eviscerated by an unnoticeable satori. This day is already shaping up to be much better than the last one!

One shower later, the three of you are eating breakfast downstairs. Most of the other residents seem to still be in bed, but there’s still enough of them to notice the whispers when a newcomer steps through the door.

---

[ ] Kotohime, looking unreasonably chipper for this early in the morning.
[ ] Mokou, hands in her pockets and just as dour as you remember.
[ ] A girl with blue hair and colorful clothes, brandishing a sword.
[ ] A blonde woman in a red dress, hefting a large scythe with her.
No. 184805
[X] Mokou, hands in her pockets and just as dour as you remember.
No. 184806
[X] A girl with blue hair and colorful clothes, brandishing a sword.
-[X] Grab that broom over in the corner there and ENGARDE!

Because enabling Celestial delinquency is the best idea.
No. 184808
[ ] A blonde woman in a red dress, hefting a large scythe with her.

Because death gods for the win.
No. 184809
[X] God of the death option

"I don't belive in dying"
No. 184812
File 144043335746.jpg- (733.77KB , 1000x1352 , Yuuka-Elly.jpg ) [iqdb]
184812
I'm fairly sure the "blonde scythe-wielder" option isn't actually a death god in this case. I'm still interested in what she'd have to say, though.

[x] A blonde woman in a red dress, hefting a large scythe with her.
No. 184813
[X] A girl with blue hair and colorful clothes, brandishing a sword.

Because she sounds like the most fun.
No. 184814
[X] A girl with blue hair and colorful clothes, brandishing a sword.
No. 184815
[X] A blonde woman in a red dress, hefting a large scythe with her.
No. 184816
[x] A blonde woman in a red dress, hefting a large scythe with her.
No. 184820
[x] A girl with blue hair and colorful clothes, brandishing a sword.
No. 184828
[x] A blonde woman in a red dress, hefting a large scythe with her.

Considering how powerful and mysterious Yuuka is in this story, meeting an old friend/employee/whatever of hers could be very important.
No. 184836
[X] A blonde woman in a red dress, hefting a large scythe with her.
No. 184842
[X] A girl with blue hair and colorful clothes, brandishing a sword.

hahaha i have no idea

Seriously, nobody answer it for me, but I'm feeling like finding out who has a sword and blue hair.
No. 184846
File 144059176519.gif- (41.01KB , 125x175 , Tenshi sword.gif ) [iqdb]
184846
>>184842
>voting out of ignorance
>can't even identify a touhou

fuck you it's Tenshi
No. 184848
>>184842

Changing vote, because now I know/remember the other sword girl is actually rock girl and therefore now understand that Elly is the classiest/cutest/best choice.

[X] A blonde woman in a red dress, hefting a large scythe with her.
No. 184933
File 144116674487.jpg- (301.18KB , 800x998 , 254d7227cd8d918c245c2592ce063803.jpg ) [iqdb]
184933
[X] A blonde woman in a red dress, hefting a large scythe with her.

---

The three of you tense up as she walks in. The newcomer strides straight toward your group, and your hand clenches into a fist and your eyes scan the room for cover or escape routes. Things are about to get hairy if she’s a psychopomp, but something feels off. Why would she even be walking?

Junko puts her hand on your shoulder. “Wait, slow down. I don’t think she’s going to start trouble.”

You take the opportunity to examine her more closely. Her posture is deliberate, yet not threatening. From beneath a wide-brimmed white hat, blonde hair hangs in curls that sit just above her shoulders. She carries herself with quiet purpose and a slight stoop from the weight of her scythe, but also a slight rigidity that suggests a degree of anxiety to you. In any case, shy or not, it’s clear that she’s familiar with that scythe.

The scythe itself is worth a closer inspection. It's not ornate by any means, yet instinct tells you that it's no mere farming implement.

In any case, she’s not a reaper. None of this fits their M.O., most of all moving in while innocent lives are so close. She’s also not giving off any of the typical cues - no unexplained chill or sense of impending doom. Human, then, or something very good at imitating one

She comes to a stop in front of your table, ignoring the way several sets of eyes in the room follow her.

“Good morning.” She says. Her voice is crisp, yet carries an undertone of nervous energy. “I trust that you have been adjusting well?”

“Some more so than others.” Caleb says, pulling up a chair for her. “You have us at a disadvantage, miss...”

“Elly.” The woman states without sitting down. “Lady Kazami, my mistress, has already told me about you.”

“Ah. Good things, I would hope.”

Elly nods, but otherwise keeps a stiff, stoic demeanor. “Quite.” She produces three envelopes and places one in front of each of you. “Lady Kazami would like to meet with the three of you, together, at noon tomorrow. Enclosed are directions to her estate at the Garden of the Sun.”

You open yours and take a look. There’s a map inside, non-magical but simple to follow. It shows that Yuuka’s territory is in Gensokyo’s southwest, past the Myouren temple and next to both the edge of the bamboo forest and a small hill simply called ‘Nameless Hill’, with some writing advising that you avoid it. All in all, it’s not too far from the village, maybe two hours at a brisk walking pace.

“Can you tell us what Yuuka wants to talk about?” You ask as you put the map away.

Elly shakes her head. “I’m afraid that I can’t say, though I suspect that you already have some idea.”

That narrows it down quite a bit. Gaia, Anima, and Filth - not names to be dropping in public, even a public well aware of the occult.

“Well, thank you for letting us know, Elly.”

She nods again and shifts the scythe against her shoulder. “We look forward to your visit. Do you have any other questions?”

“I hope this isn’t too out there, but... why are you lugging a scythe around?” Junko asks.

“Ah!” Elly does her best to maintain a professional expression even as a blush creeps up her face. “It- it’s symbol of my office. I’m lady Kazami’s gatekeeper, and I also assist in the fields.”

While that doesn’t quite explain why she’s brought it all the way to the village, it’s always refreshing to see scythes being used to reap wheat and not the blood of the innocent.

Elly clears her throat and gives her hat a small tug. “Now, if that’s all, I really must be going. G- good day!.” Soon after you offer your own farewells, she leaves with somewhat less composure than she entered with.

“That was interesting.” Junko pings as Elly walks through the door. “Do you think she’s a tsukumogami? Most people don’t carry stuff like that around if they can help it.”

Her body language was a bit mechanical, but still not out of the ordinary. You didn’t read any giveaways.

“As far as I can tell, she’s human.” You answer. “I wonder how she started working for Yuuka?”

“You know, I had a feeling that Yuuka lived by herself, given the apprehension of everyone we’ve met.” Caleb says. “Not even Remilia seems to inspire as much dread.”

“Well, you need help to keep a big house in order.” You say. “It’s not rocket science, even more so if you have all that land to tend. Besides, Remilia is hardly the scariest thing we’ve met.”

“It’s clear at this point that Yuuka isn’t human, though.” Caleb offers back. “You saw the sparks. Anyone who can fire them off like she does isn’t normal in any sense. Everyone knows that she’s ancient and powerful, though I guess our experience doesn’t support the ‘omnicidal sociopath’ aspect.”

“Human or not, it looks like she may be our strongest ally for the time being.” Junko interjects. “And personally, I’m pretty stoked to have her on our side. Granted, things might get a bit tense between us and everyone else if we get too closely associated with her.”

“What makes you say that?”

Junko jerks her head towards a table behind her. “They’ve been whispering about us ever since she walked over, and the . Nothing too serious, but I can think of a few people that might try to fan certain rumors out of control.”

“I’ll take the lady with the giant death beam over a few fearful villagers any day.” Caleb replies, shrugging. He checks his watch. “Anyways, we should head out. We’ve got another big day ahead of us.”

---

“I’m going to see about making contact with the Taoists.” Caleb pingsonce you’re out. “I’m sure you guys have gotten the memos from your bosses by now.”

“Ancient Illuminati?” Junko responds.

“Yeah. Old-school doesn’t begin to cover it. Related to that, I don’t think they’d be thrilled to deal with other societies, that is to say you two, but I guess we’ll all have to get to know each other eventually.”

“Maybe another time, then.” You reply. “I’ve got some people in the human village that I need to link up with as well.”

It’s a more overcast today, with the clouds washed a pale gold-white by the rising sun. Already, you can hear the chatter of villagers starting their day. Like most small farming communities, it seems that Gensokyo likes to get up early.

Clearing out the 'haunted' house crosses your mind again. It sounds like a good way to stretch your muscles, and anything that hasn't been causing fatalities among ordinary humans isn't going to be an obstacle for you. Still, you should probably not go in alone given your weakened state.


---

[ ] Go to...
- [ ] The Hakurei shrine, to take a look at things for yourself. After going through all the trouble to fix up Sunny, you should at least check in and see how she’s doing. There’s also the potential to learn more about Reimu.
- [ ] The police station, to find Kotohime and Meira. With the potential of lingering Filth and the overall questionable balance of power, it would behoove you as a Templar to establish contact with what serves as the local human armed forces.
- [ ] The workshop, to find Rika and Rikako. You’re running low on your various tools of the trade, and the importance of securing a supply base makes establishing contact with the local R&D a priority.
- [ ] Misty Lake, to hunt for Cirno. The last thing you need is for more Wriggles to harass you. There’s no guarantee that you’ll be able to haul another would-be attacker from a monster’s jaws.
- [ ] The village square. Caleb and Junko spent yesterday getting to know the village, and so should you. You’re going to be staying here for the foreseeable future, so you might as well familiarize yourself.
[ ] Other?
No. 184943
[x] The workshop, to find Rika and Rikako. You’re running low on your various tools of the trade, and the importance of securing a supply base makes establishing contact with the local R&D a priority.

You need to be on top form before the next, inevitable, disaster. And the clock is ticking.
No. 184944
[X] The village square. Caleb and Junko spent yesterday getting to know the village, and so should you. You’re going to be staying here for the foreseeable future, so you might as well familiarize yourself.

Eh, why not.
No. 184945
- [x] The village square. Caleb and Junko spent yesterday getting to know the village, and so should you. You’re going to be staying here for the foreseeable future, so you might as well familiarize yourself.
No. 184948
[X] The village square. Caleb and Junko spent yesterday getting to know the village, and so should you. You’re going to be staying here for the foreseeable future, so you might as well familiarize yourself.
No. 184952
- [X] The workshop, to find Rika and Rikako. You’re running low on your various tools of the trade, and the importance of securing a supply base makes establishing contact with the local R&D a priority.
Don't we still have a wheelchair to fix?

>and the .
The who? The what?
No. 184953
>>184952
Just a typo, my bad.
No. 184954
[X] The village square. Caleb and Junko spent yesterday getting to know the village, and so should you. You’re going to be staying here for the foreseeable future, so you might as well familiarize yourself.
No. 184955
[X] The Hakurei shrine, to take a look at things for yourself. After going through all the trouble to fix up Sunny, you should at least check in and see how she’s doing. There’s also the potential to learn more about Reimu.
No. 184963
[X] The workshop, to find Rika and Rikako. You’re running low on your various tools of the trade, and the importance of securing a supply base makes establishing contact with the local R&D a priority.
No. 184964
- [x] The Hakurei shrine, to take a look at things for yourself. After going through all the trouble to fix up Sunny, you should at least check in and see how she’s doing. There’s also the potential to learn more about Reimu.

The whole Reimu situation continues to worry me.
No. 184965
[x] The workshop, to find Rika and Rikako. You’re running low on your various tools of the trade, and the importance of securing a supply base makes establishing contact with the local R&D a priority.

RESUPPLY, WE NEED AMMO!

THEN we can bother visiting friends/socializing/Cirno-punting.
No. 184967
[x] The workshop, to find Rika and Rikako. You’re running low on your various tools of the trade, and the importance of securing a supply base makes establishing contact with the local R&D a priority.

Rika was on Keine's list as a confirmed Templar descendant. Meeting her could be beneficial beyond just being able to resupply.

>>184964
Same here. Seems all too likely that she's been infected and Yukari's holding her in stasis or similar as a containment measure. Whatever happened, I'm sure there'll be some repercussions to Reimu's absence soon.
No. 184973
Workshop:5
Village:4
Shrine:2
No. 185078
[x] The workshop, to find Rika and Rikako. You’re running low on your various tools of the trade, and the importance of securing a supply base makes establishing contact with the local R&D a priority.

---

There are good cases to be made for several destinations, but for now you’ll settle for meeting Rika and Rikako. After all, the sooner you get your guns back, the less you’ll have to worry about defending yourself. There’s at least one big monster out there with an appetite for humans, and you aren’t eager to meet more until you can reliably put them down.

“Right. Well, I’ll be seeing you guys later, then.” Caleb says. “Are we meeting at the restaurant as last time?”

“Sure. It works for now, but Aya and Momiji just showed that we’ll need some actual privacy, and we still haven’t figured out what’s going on with that Tanuki Ran’s mentioned.” Junko shrugs as she lights her first cigarette of the day. “Anyways, I’m going to check out what the situation with the squatters is. The police have got to know something if they’ve been thrown on their asses that many times.”

---

The path to the workshop leads you through the marketplace. You don’t stop for a closer look, but you can see that business seems to be quite good in the human village. Most of the stalls are trading in mundane goods like food, clothing, or tools, but here and there you spot modern items, like radios or soda, mixed in. There are also a few nonhuman vendors, mostly Kappa and Tsukumogami, but they seem to be fitting in as well as anyone else.

Sadly, while you could probably source replacement wheelchair parts from the market, it doesn’t seem like they’ll have the specialized materials you need for your own machines, and one drone will only take you so far. Hopefully Rika and Rikako will have a solution.

On several occasions you notice guards paying attention and talking among themselves when they see you. Some of them sound suspicious of you, but a few seem almost hopeful. None of them approach you, however, and before long you find yourself in front of the village workshop. It’s a large and somewhat severe concrete structure with a metal garage door that stands out against the more antique buildings around it.

It looks like there once was a buzzer hooked up to the door, but it’s been removed. You settle for knocking on the door, though it takes a while before you hear the clank of someone’s toolbelt as they make their way toward you.

The door swings open and a squinting, brown-haired woman wearing an engineer’s apron pokes her head out. You smell oil from within.

“Eh? Ah.” She regards you with a gruffness that sharpens into curiosity as her eyes pass over your cross. “Haven’t seen you before. You must be one of the newcomers. Keine told me you might be stopping by. My name’s Rika.”

“Charlotte.” You respond in kind. “It’s good to see you.”

“Likewise.” She says as she opens the door. “Sorry about the buzzer, by the way. Some umbrella tsuku kept ringing it to annoy us. It was simpler to take it down.”

Most of the interior is large and cluttered with a staggering assortment of mechanical parts and equipment. The few clear aisles almost feel like an afterthought, but Rika’s ease of movement suggests that it’s familiar to her. A few large skylights keep the space lit, and an oversized fan in one corner circulates the air.

The other side of the workshop is markedly less industrial in appearance. It’s a more organized and somewhat improvised laboratory setup, with a few stations covered by translucent plastic tents. It seems to be a measure to maintain sterility when doing sensitive work.

A bespectacled woman with purple hair emerges from one such tent as the two of you work your way through the mess.

“Rika! Could you bring me a... oh, hello!” The woman stands up as you come closer. “Miss McGallagher, was it? The Outsider mage?”

“Yes. “ You greet her with a smile. “You must be Rikako Asakura, right?”

“Oh, it’s not like anyone else comes here.” She shrugs and takes her gloves off. “You’re fresh from the Outside, right?

“Yeah. Adjusting has been a little bumpy, but overall, I’d say things are going well.”

Rikako laughs as she slips her hands into the pockets of her spotless lab coat. “You’re certainly more confident than the average newcomer. Have you encountered any of the local denizens?”

You return her laugh with the barest hint of strain. “Yeah. Like I said, a little bumpy.”

“Well, you came out of it in one piece.” She says, still smiling. “You’re doing just fine.”

“Anyways, is it just the two of you here?” You say, gesturing around. “I’d expect more people for a space like this.”

Rika crosses her arms and frowns, while Rikako sighs and leans against a cabinet. “We aren’t the only ones in the village familiar with the sciences.” The researcher tells you. “There’s a handful of other educated people around, but they don’t come by very often. Overall, we’re pretty scarce.”

“What, people aren’t interested in keeping up with the Kappa?”

Rika snorts. “You’d be surprised how far the Hieda’s fingers reach. Between her and Keine and even Reimu, it’s like they’ve got everyone happy to keep their heads stuck in the sand.”

“To be fair, the village more or less lets us work in peace.” Rikako says. “Things could be better, but I’d say they’ve been supportive enough.”

As a matter of fact, you’ve seen firsthand what a lack of support, especially concerning funding, can do to someone. Studying under Professor Okazaki was never a... one-hundred percent OSHA-compliant experience at the best of times, but during a particularly nasty round of budget cuts you found it prudent to bring a pair of Glocks to the lab. To this day, you can testify with complete sincerity that an unhinged, underfunded, and decaffeinated Yumemi Okazaki is one of the scarier things you’ve witnessed.

She shakes her head again, then turns to you with a brighter expression. “But enough about us. We’ve heard some interesting things about you and your friends. Is it true that you’re part of these ancient, world-spanning brotherhoods?”

“Yeah.” You nod. “I’m with the Templar Order. I’m not sure how much you know about our mission, but suffice to say that we are totally committed to the security and well-being of humanity.”

“Didn’t you get into the clusterfuck at the shrine a couple days ago, though?” Rika asks, arms crossed.

“We didn’t start that, and we weren’t fighting against the locals.” You say. “Keine can tell you more, but we had to kill something threatening Gensokyo.”

“I’m assuming you guys did well, since everything’s still standing.” Rika says. “I mean, I’ve heard about you guys -the Templars- before, but to be honest, I never put much stock into it.”

“Well, what do you mean by that?” You ask.

“The only people who really make noise about it are either thugs trying to stir up trouble or geezers moaning about ‘the good old days’ that never happened.” She pauses, looking troubled. “Or Kotohime, who came this close to starting a war with the Tengu over lawn gnomes. Now, I’m not saying that’s what your people are actually like, but if you expected to find ‘staunch crusaders’ or something, you’re going to be disappointed.”

Rikako looks somewhat uncomfortable with her partner’s disclosure, but she isn’t speaking against it.

That is unfortunate news. You’ve always seen loyalty as something the other factions could never understand as well as the Templars, but that’s not an advantage here if there’s nobody to be loyal with - and you’d certainly want people better than mere hooligans or bellyachers to watching your back.

Kotohime, though... it could pay to learn more about her. You’re going to have to build a good working relationship with the guard, after all. At least she’s not lacking for enthusiasm.

“And before you ask, yeah, I know that I’m from a Templar family. A surname like ‘Watson’ tends to stick out in a place like this.” Rika says, shrugging. “I know squat about them beyond what I’ve just told you, though.”

“That’s fine.” You say. “I didn’t come here to interview anyone.”

“Well, what can we help you with?” Rikako jumps in. She seems to be trying to steer the conversation to something less awkward. “I was thinking about taking a break soon, anyways.”

---

[ ] Use the workshop’s equipment to start working on the wheelchair, making progress towards Wakasagi’s request and getting a basic idea of local Kappa tech.
[ ] Start learning the basics of flight and spellcards. Playing by the same rules as the locals makes it easier to be accepted by them.

[ ] Additionally...
- [ ] What was that about Keine and Akyuu?
- [ ] You get youkai troublemakers around here?
- [ ] What kind of legacy do the Templars have here?
- [ ] Write-in.
No. 185079
[X] Use the workshop’s equipment to start working on the wheelchair, making progress towards Wakasagi’s request and getting a basic idea of local Kappa tech.

[X] Additionally...
- [X] You get youkai troublemakers around here?

An update! How surprising!
No. 185080
[x] Use the workshop’s equipment to start working on the wheelchair, making progress towards Wakasagi’s request and getting a basic idea of local Kappa tech.

Side quests should be finished ASAP, and it'll nice to see if there's technology compatible with ours.

- [x] What kind of legacy do the Templars have here?

We need more trustworthy people to keep as contacts and informed sentries in case of an attack when we're not around: the big names have their own business to take care of.

Keine is trustworthy enough but the feeling is not mutual and, while Koto is a good candidate, we still need to see who else is available.
No. 185086
[x] Use the workshop’s equipment to start working on the wheelchair, making progress towards Wakasagi’s request and getting a basic idea of local Kappa tech.
[x] You get youkai troublemakers around here?
we'll get to spell cards EVENTUALLY. I mean, if it's a necessary plotpoint, we'll have to hit it sometime
No. 185090
[x] Use the workshop’s equipment to start working on the wheelchair, making progress towards Wakasagi’s request and getting a basic idea of local Kappa tech.
[x] You get youkai troublemakers around here?
No. 185109
[x] Use the workshop’s equipment to start working on the wheelchair, making progress towards Wakasagi’s request and getting a basic idea of local Kappa tech.
No. 185113
[X] Use the workshop’s equipment to start working on the wheelchair, making progress towards Wakasagi’s request and getting a basic idea of local Kappa tech.

[X] Additionally...
- [X] You get youkai troublemakers around here?

We must keep our promise to waggysacks/investigate troubles
No. 185114
[x] Use the workshop’s equipment to start working on the wheelchair, making progress towards Wakasagi’s request and getting a basic idea of local Kappa tech.
[x] You get youkai troublemakers around here?
No. 185157
File 144411117610.png- (433.91KB , 800x1300 , Asakura_Rikako.png ) [iqdb]
185157
[x] Use the workshop’s equipment to start working on the wheelchair, making progress towards Wakasagi’s request and getting a basic idea of local Kappa tech.
[x] You get youkai troublemakers around here?

---

Rika nods at your request. “Yeah, of course. What are you going to be fixing up?”

“An electric wheelchair.” You tell her. “Kappa-made.”


She raises an eyebrow at that. “I’m not sure why you’d be holding onto one of those, but sure. You’ve only been here for what, two days?”

“Basically, I promised someone that I’d fix it up for her in exchange for a favor.” You say as you head towards a workbench. Once there, you set the wheelchair down and unfold it before bringing out your toolkit.

You’re pleased to note that the machinery here should be enough to let you assemble your own devices. Fortunately, you’re pretty much set for explosives. With enough prep time, you could handily restock your supply of bombs.

Drones and sentries, however, have a limiting factor in computational hardware. Just about everything else you can work around, but it’s clear that the Human village isn’t going to have lots of processors lying around, and getting a resupply from HQ would mean negotiating with Ran. RIght now, the Kappa are the only group that you can imagine having analogous tech, but it sounds like getting it out of their hands will be tricky.

Rikako looks on with earnest curiosity as you work. “So Outsiders can create pocket dimensions of their own? I had always assumed that your technology outpaced your magic.”

“Kind of. Sort of. Not really.” You say, somewhat distracted as you begin working. “I mean, for ordinary, non-magical folks, yeah, but the line has always been a bit blurred for people in the know. The best results come from using both together.”

On a more practical note, you’ve finished your preliminary examination of the vehicle. Both axles have been battered out of shape, and the electrical housing has been deformed from an impact. You don’t find any signs of water damage on the chassis - as expected for Kappa construction - but the damage to the case has allowed water to seep into the motor.

“Well, I can’t think of anyone here ignorant of the supernatural.” Rikako laughs. “That would be an achievement, with all of the things that happen here.”

You nod, still working on the machine. “I’ve been to places like this, where humans live with the occult. Temple Hall is in the middle of one of them.”

Time passes as you get drawn into a discussion with the two scientists about how things work Outside. For the most part, you repeat what you told Byakuren and Ichirin. Rikako seems very interested in your descriptions. She’s taken a seat just far away enough to avoid crowding you, and she’s leaning forward as she listens. Rika is less overtly engrossed, but you suspect that she’s no less attentive.

You set to work removing the damaged parts, taking the opportunity to make more observations on the craftsmanship. While it’s obvious that the entire chair is the work of one person, many of the individual parts look like they’ve been scavenged. The overall construction is sound, but it’s not winning any beauty contests. As far as materials go, the the chassis itself is made of what appears to be a unique steel, same as the battery.

Well, if it looks stupid but works, then it isn’t stupid. You can respect that.

Rika takes note of what you’re looking at. “Ah, that? Kappa steel. They do something with it to make it really strong for its weight. Doesn’t ever rust or corrode, either.” Her eyes wander over the dents. “It must have been going fast when it crashed. Did anyone get hurt?.”

“Nah. Everyone seems to have walked away in one piece.” You reassure her before holding up the battery. “What can you tell me about this?”

There’s an appraising glint in her eyes as she looks it over. “That’s... pretty valuable, actually. A Kappa power cell. Much more efficient than what we’ve got, and very difficult to reproduce. They keep the supply under tight control.”

That’s something worth looking into. Still, ‘more advanced than the villagers’ could still be significantly behind modern tech. You’d love to take it apart for a look, but it would be irresponsible when Waggy still needs it for her chair.”

Rika notices your curiosity. “I could give one or two for you to play with, but we really don’t have enough to just hand out. Maybe we could work out an exchange, in the future, something simple, like my notes for your notes. How’s that sound?”

You shrug. “Don’t see why not, but I’ll think about it some more after I finish.”

“Yeah, sure.” She nods and heads off to her own corner, and after a few seconds you hear the percussive clanking of her own work.

---

It takes a bit longer than you like, but you’re just about done with the repairs. After fastening everything back together, you power it up yourself to test the performance. The sound of whirring draws Rika and Rikako’s attention back to you.

“Oh hey, it looks like you got it working again!” Rikako drops in behind you as she pulls off her gloves.

You yawn and straighten your back for the first time in a couple hours. “Yeah. Now that I’ve got this taken care of, I can get back to figuring this place out. Hopefully, I won’t have more interruptions.”

Rika snorts. “I wouldn’t count on that. You can hardly go a full week here without someone finding an excuse to spray spellcards at you

“That reminds me - you said there was an umbrella tsuku making trouble for you?”

“Yeah. She stopped a while ago, though. I think her name was Kogasa?” Rika shakes her head. “Anyways, she’s about as dangerous as a fairy, just more persistent.”

“Kogasa used to be in a bad place.” Rikako chimes in. “She didn’t have a place to stay, and since she couldn’t scare anyone, she didn’t get any respect from other youkai.”

“But because she didn’t stop trying, none of the villagers had a lot of sympathy?” You venture.

Rikako nods and brushes a strand of hair away from her face. “She’s been doing much better as of late, from what I’ve heard. She took up smithing some time ago, and her business seems to be doing very well.”

“What else would you expect?” Rika looks derisive. “She’s with the Sado Gumi thugs.”

Rikako sighs, like a teacher repeating herself for the umpteenth time. “Rika, do you really believe that? She’s too sweet to want anything to do with them.”

The naming convention grabs your attention “Sado Gumi? You guys have yaks?”

“Yeah, ever since that mess with the Taoists. This tanuki, Mamizou, showed up after their leader, the one with the perpetual bad hair day, got shut down by Reimu and her friends. She set up shop in the human village not long after, but she hasn’t been doing anything... too bad.” Rika shrugs. “There’s only so much you can get away with before our local miko flies by to smack you, after all.”

Yeah, about that... Anyways, that has to be the Tanuki that Ran warned you about. The kitsune described her as a schemer, and you’d expect someone in her position to be up to something anyways.
No. 185158
“So what’s she been doing, then?” You ask. “Seems unlikely that she’d go through all the trouble to get into Gensokyo just to twiddle her thumbs.”

“I don’t know for sure, but I’d bet good money on her running most of the gambling houses by now.” Rika says. “She probably does smuggling as well. I’ve noticed a lot more outsider stuff on the market after she moved in.”

“What kind of stuff?” You ask. If that’s one of the ways to bypass Ran’s scrutiny, that definitely deserves your attention.

“Books, food, films, music, trinkets...” Rika ticks the list off on her fingers. “Media and luxury goods. She goes for stuff that sells well without posing the risk of us learning too much from it. After all, it’d be bad for business if we got a leg up on them, eh?”

“Jeez, Rika, you’re making things sound so... sneaky, like a conspiracy.” Rikako gives her companion a rueful smile.

It’s Rika’s turn to look exasperated as she gestures toward you. “Oh come on, you’re going to say that to me with a straight face when we’ve got an actual member of an actual conspiracy standing here, in the flesh?”

You do your best to fight the sheepish grin creeping up your face. “Well, normally, I’d say to not worry about it, but I suppose you two know what’s going here on better than I do. Do you think I should have a look at them?”

Rika shakes her head. “Nah. Like I said, they haven’t been going after anyone, so your time would probably be better spent elsewhere. Besides, I get the feeling the Mamizou’s the type to seek you out on her own.”

Well, that’s fine. If Mamizou is half as cunning as Ran made her out to be, it’ll be far easier for her to find you than the other way around. You just hope it won’t be at a painful time.

Hah, who are you kidding? Knowing your luck, you’ll get an invitation while you’re neck deep in shit from something.

“If I could change the subject-” Rikako gives you a bashful look- “I’m curious - how did you learn what you know about science?”

“Actually, I’m interested as well.” Rika leans back against a wall, watching you. “I mean, I picked up some stuff from my parents, but I’m mostly self-taught. I had to scrounge around for books and parts when I was younger.”

Rikako nods at this. “My story is similar. Like Rika said, there are precious few experts in the village today, and there were even fewer when I was a child.”

“How young did you start?” You ask.

“Around ten. I really picked up steam at fourteen, though.”

Your face lights up. “Hey, that’s around when I started as well. You see, I had just started studying at a Templar boarding school at that time. Have you ever heard of Harry Potter?”

She shakes her head. “I think I watched one of the movies a few years back. What, was your school a magical castle?”

“It wasn’t as crazy as the movies, but it was alike in a few ways that matter. Big, historic castle, lots of kids learning to deal with both magic and puberty at once, and a good quarter of the student body comprised of snooty jerks.”

You shake your head at the memory. “Anyways I had trouble fitting in with the other kids when I first started, so tinkering with things - taking them apart, fixing them, and putting them back together - became a good way to stay out of trouble. It eventually paid off when I impressed the right people and placed high enough to get into the Occult branch of Oxford. After that...”

You pause here, considering how best to explain the Bee in your head to the two scientists in front of you. There’s probably a better time for it.

“A lot of crazy stuff happened, and I started going out into the field much more often. Needless to say, most of my experience is hands-on now. Check this out.”

You toss your drone into the air with a lazy underhand. It comes to life at the height of its arc and hovers in place, its eye lighting up and flitting between the two unfamiliar faces.

Rikako covers her mouth in excitement, and you hear a sharp intake of breath from Rika.

“I’ve never seen anything like that! Even the doll magician has to use strings to control her puppets, but that machine of yours is autonomous?”

“Sort of. It’s smart enough that I don’t have to constantly micromanage it, but it can’t truly think for itself, and it can’t get too far from me.” You hold out your hand, and the drone lands there with a small *fwip* of displaced air. “Of course, it’s good for more than just looking pretty-”

“-ear me? Charlotte, are you around?” Junko’s ‘voice’ cuts you off mid-sentence.

You snap back a reply. “Yeah, I hear you. What’s the trouble?”

“Nothing, everything’s fine.” Comes the reassuring answer. “I just finished meeting up with the guards, though, and I took the opportunity to look into the haunted house. Long story short, it’s going to be a piece of cake. You want in?”

You glance outside the window. The sun is dipping lower, but there’s still plenty of time left in the day to get stuff done.

---

[ ] Time to take out the trash. Clearing out the haunted house gives you some measure of privacy, and will hopefully impress the village guard.
[ ] Stay here and get started on spellcards. While you’re confident in your ability to outgun most of Gensokyo’s denizens, that won’t help you once they realize they can just spellcard you into submission.
No. 185159
[X] Time to take out the trash. Clearing out the haunted house gives you some measure of privacy, and will hopefully impress the village guard.
Science Time was fun and all but now it is Punching Time.
No. 185160
Uh, with Reimu out of the picture, what forces him to accept danmaku duels?

I mean, if they go with non lethal you just don't and win. Scary if youkai realize it though.
No. 185161
File 14441362547.jpg- (322.80KB , 637x900 , 5a3bdf753f739b97ae08fb077aafc214.jpg ) [iqdb]
185161
[x] Time to take out the trash. Clearing out the haunted house gives you some measure of privacy, and will hopefully impress the village guard.

Don't want to miss Befriending Time. We really should learn spellcards soon, though.

>>185160
It's not like she's dead. There would be hell to pay later.
No. 185162
[x] Stay here and get started on spellcards. While you’re confident in your ability to outgun most of Gensokyo’s denizens, that won’t help you once they realize they can just spellcard you into submission.

This is quite the flaw to have in Gensokyo.
No. 185163
>>185160
>Him
GG guys looks like I can't write a good female prtoag
No. 185164
[ ] Time to take out the trash. Clearing out the haunted house gives you some measure of privacy, and will hopefully impress the village guard.
No. 185165
>>185163
Oh wow, I assumed it was some ESL thing and they meant "them" as in the youkai. I didn't even think of that.
No. 185167
[X] Stay here and get started on spellcards. While you’re confident in your ability to outgun most of Gensokyo’s denizens, that won’t help you once they realize they can just spellcard you into submission.
No. 185170
[X] Stay here and get started on spellcards. While you’re confident in your ability to outgun most of Gensokyo’s denizens, that won’t help you once they realize they can just spellcard you into submission.
No. 185177
[X] Time to take out the trash.
With your bare fists. Don't take anything or anybody with you; just use your bare fists.
No. 185185
[X] Stay here and get started on spellcards. While you’re confident in your ability to outgun most of Gensokyo’s denizens, that won’t help you once they realize they can just spellcard you into submission.
No. 185195
[X] Stay here and get started on spellcards. While you’re confident in your ability to outgun most of Gensokyo’s denizens, that won’t help you once they realize they can just spellcard you into submission.
No. 185197
Calling votes in favor of learning spellcards.
No. 185279
Heard the secret world server going to close up soon. The company is about to fold.
No. 185283
>>185279
Gonna need a source on that, buddy.
No. 185642
File 144713990844.png- (537.97KB , 500x646 , A Happy Little Last Word.png ) [iqdb]
185642
[X] Stay here and get started on spellcards. While you’re confident in your ability to outgun most of Gensokyo’s denizens, that won’t help you once they realize they can just spellcard you into submission.

---

“I’ll have to decline. I’m going to be starting on flight and spellcards with the village scientists.”

“Are you sure? Quite a few of the guards have mentioned wanting to see you for themselves. Kotohime in particular.”

“I can always get around to that later, once I’ve made sure that I won’t be getting pushed around by fairies. Besides, you’ve got this in the bag, right?”

“Hah! Yeah, alright then. I’m off to bop some heads.”

Her voice fades away as you turn your attention back to Rika and Rikako. “I’d hate to bother you further, but I was hoping you could help me with something. You see, I had an encounter with a minor youkai last night that ended up getting out of hand because I didn’t have my own spellcards. Thankfully, nobody got hurt, but-”

“But you don’t want to get caught in the same situation, right?” Rika interrupts you.

“That’s right.” You tell her. “Keine said that you two might be willing to provide lessons?”

The two scientists exchange looks.

“Ehhhh...” Rika crosses her arms and groans. “Sure, I could show you the basics, but it’s been such a long time since I’ve practiced.”

“Oh, don’t worry about that.” Rikako lays a hand on her shoulder. “You were darn good when you did practice, and we would just be going over the basics anyways.”

“If you put it that way...” The engineer shrugs and pulls off her gloves. “Well, I didn’t have any real work left for tonight, so we might as well make use of the sunlight we’ve got left. There’s an unused field that nobody should mind us using.”

The three of you exit the workshop, with Rika locking it behind you. The two of them are enough to get you through the gates without trouble, though you note that a couple of the guards look eager to say something to you before a senior guardsman coughs pointedly at them and they fall back into line.

Around twenty minutes after leaving, your group finds itself at the edge of a fallow plot of land. It’s too far away to see what Junko is up to, but knowing her, the only question you have is how badly those youkai are screwed. You just don’t see garden-variety troublemakers putting up a fight against a newly minted Dissolution-rank Dragon.

Rika stretches her arms above her head. “I think I should warm up first. Rikako, how do you feel about a practice match?”

“Sure thing.” Rikako says, shaking out her legs. “Come to think of it, it’s been awhile since either of us has had to go all out, right?”

Rika just grunts in response as she finishes stretching before rising upwards, propelled by an unseen force. Since you’re not dealing with the very immediate threat of a rampaging Filth creature, there’s a good opportunity to study the mechanism for flight. You call up your drone and have it start recording.

It becomes evident right away that whatever they’re doing defies what you know of physics and magic, with no sign of any effect you would expect for flight. It looks like Aya was right about flight depending on the Barrier. In short, you have no real insight into how it works.

They’re floating well above arm’s reach now, facing each other with about thirty meters between them. What little wind there is picks at stray locks of hair and the hems of their clothing.

Rikako reaches into her lab coat and holds up a slip of paper. “Are you ready?”

“Whenever you are!”

Rikako’s hand comes down like a blade as the card in her grip shines white. She shouts a name and a storm of light blooms around her.

What, you need to give your attacks names? Does this work like one of Junko’s Chinese cartoons?

A ritual circle blinks into existence in front of Rikako, and it takes a solid effort not to gape as you watch her attack take shape. It’s like she’s compressing a laser light show into something that looks... like a series of waveforms, all of different shapes and colors, streaking across the sky towards Rika.

Rika shifts her weight and dips low, moving with an economy of motion that keeps her out of the first salvo’s way. The first series of waves - bright blue, jagged, and fast - rushes past her with a piercing whine. She looks back up at Rikako with a satisfied grin - and throws herself to the side with an aborted curse as another wave passes close enough to scatter her hair.

The salvo after that slams into her, green and curved and much more visceral than you would have guessed. You wince as she tumbles some distance toward the ground, but she manages to steady herself before her trajectory becomes dangerous.

The various lights flicker out of existence as Rikako flies over. “Are you alright?” She calls out, sheepish concern on her face.

Rika has her teeth clenched as she rubs her side. “Yeah, I’ll walk it off. Dragon, it’s been years... Guess I’m rustier than I thought.”

“Do you want to take a break?”

A grimace flashes across Rika’s face and she spits onto the ground. “I’m not that rusty. Besides, I can’t disappoint the audience, right?”

---

You spend the next half-hour engrossed with watching the two fling blizzards of conjured projectiles at each other. Rika does get into her groove towards the end of the match, and she manages to score a few hits of her own on Rikako.

When the two of them set down, somewhat short of breath and perspiring, they start going answering your questions about what you just saw.

“So you’re telling me these projectiles are one-hundred percent nonlethal? Not the little balls, not the big balls, not the lasers, and not the knives?” You ask. They aren’t any kind of directed energy you’ve ever seen

“Well, they’re not totally harmless.” Rika answers as she stretches a sole arm. “Getting hit by enough of them can leave bruises or singe marks on you.”

“What about getting knocked out? If most duels involve flying...”

“I see what you’re getting at, but don’t worry about it. Keine wrote up a failsafe enchantment a bit before Reimu even invented spellcards, and just about everyone in Gensokyo is using it now. If it detects you in free-fall, it’ll slow you down enough to survive.” She shrugs, then goes back to rolling her shoulders. “It’s not the most comfortable experience, but it sure beats going splat. I’ve never heard about someone accidentally dying from a spellcard duel.”

Keine sounds like quite the accomplished enchanter. For a schoolteacher, she has an unusual variety of skills. As with a number of other figures, getting to know her better sounds like a good use of time.

“So you can hit hard enough with them to knock someone out?” You ask. It could be an interesting tool to resolve things with fewer diplomatic consequences, if it comes down to that.

“It’s rare, but it does happen from time to time.” Rika answers, frowning. “Usually, it’s at the hands of either Reimu or the Kirisame girl. It needs to be a really strong attack, and I think those two are the only ones with strong cards that keep getting involved in duels.”

“Still, spellcards can only be used on people who have accepted duels.” She goes on. “So they can’t be used for wanton violence.”

Rika laughs, a gruff bark of a sound. “You’re saying that like it isn’t wanton violence already. Have you seen how those two use them?”

Rikako bites her lip. “Well, you have a point... but nobody who follows the rules dies, so I’d say I’m fine with it.”

It looks like spellcards can’t be used as an easy riot control solution after all. It’s not like anyone who you’d really need to use it on for that purpose would just agree to a duel. Oh well; it was asking for too much to begin with.

“You know, I’ve been wondering.” You say, drawing their attention back to you. “How do these things work? Those...” You gesture, not knowing what to call them. “...Projectiles that your spellcards make. They come in all different shapes and colors, like lego bricks, and you say they don’t do any serious damage, but I can’t tell where they come from, or what they’re made of.”

Rikako sighs. “You’re in good company. To be honest, I sincerely doubt that anyone but Reimu and the gap lady understand. Some days, I’m not even sure if Reimu does hers-”

“It’s a Reimu thing.” Rika interjects. “It involves the Barrier, which means that we’re all better off being comfortable with the fact that it works than losing sleep over the how.”

“Just a word of advice, by the way.” She says, turning to face you with the most serious expression you’ve seen her wear. “Don’t fuck with the Barrier. At all. No matter how small you think it what you’re doing is. Miss fluffy tails will probably pop out of nowhere and smack you down before you even figure out what’s going on. And if you do something serious, you’ll get visited in-person by her boss, frilly cap and all. Did you hear about the incident with the Celestial girl?”

“Tenshi Hina... Hinanawi, I think?” You say. It was something you skimmed over.

Rika nods. “Yeah. She borrowed her dad’s sword and caused a bunch of disasters a few years ago. One of them, an earthquake, hit the Hakurei shrine. That damaged the barrier. Guess how long she lasted after that?” She asks, reclining midair.

“Not very?” You venture.

“She got booted back to Bhava-Agra so hard, she left behind all those little rainbow decals on her dress.” A grin creeps across Rika’s face at the memory. “I think she might still be grounded. I haven’t heard about her causing any ruckus.”

“She might have gotten more mature, you know.” Rika says. Her slender hand reaches up to adjust her glasses before she continues. “I think you’re being a little harsh on the girl.”


Rika just gives her an unconvinced ‘eh’. “I doubt it. You know that she never had to earn her place in heaven right? If that isn’t a recipe for the world’s most spoiled brat, then I don’t know what is. I mean, immortality on a platter, who even-”

“Uh, sorry to interrupt, but I was wondering when I could start practicing.” You chime in. There’s still enough daylight to finish things up, but not enough to be wasteful with.

“Oh, that’s right.” Rika looks a little sheepish as she rubs the back of her neck. “Guess I got carried away. Sorry about that.”

“It’s not problem.” You reassure her. Figuring out how people here stand in relation to each other is on your to-do list, after all.
No. 185643
The enchantment for flight is a puzzling thing. Yours, a paper talisman donated by Rikako, is currently fastened to your belt. The inscription upon it is simultaneously rudimentary and indecipherable. Most of the spell is easy to recognize like the control mechanism and Keine’s failsafe.

It’s the inner and outer layers - the question of where the power comes from and how it interacts with the rest of the world - that leave you stumped. Looking at the sections that presumably govern those aspects, you feel like a schoolchild again, with Hebrew and Latin homework looming above you and no Bee in your brain to translate. Those must be the parts of the enchantment that interface with the Barrier.

“So!” Rikako announces, clapping her hands together. “Just about everyone struggles a little when it comes to getting off the ground for the first time. It’s nothing to worry about. Remember, we’re here with you, so you don’t have to worry about being in danger.”

“I’m sure she can handle herself, Rikako.” Rika says.

“Heh, sorry.” She giggles. “Force of habit when I’m walking a newbie through. Anyways, you’re already an experienced mage, so that should speed things up. I bet you we can get you in the sky before the end of today.” Rikako flashes you a confident smile.

“So, are you going to carry her around for a bit and hope that it sticks?” Rika asks, picking at her nails.

“I- what?” Rikako spins around, sputtering.

“It’s what she does with the kids.” Rika says in candid tone. “Pick ‘em up, carry them into the sky, and hope that some of that experience brushes off and helps them figure out how to control it themselves. And if that doesn’t work, we can always try dropping you. It’s a hell of an incentive to figure it out fast.”

“Iwouldnever- RIKA!” Rikako shouts, doing her best to look angry over her laughter.

“I’m just fooling, Char.” Rika says, ignoring Rikako’s flailing from beside her. “Really, what you need to do is focus on the sensation of weightlessness. Think about the open sky, having no ground beneath you. If it makes any sense, try to fall upwa- Ow! Hey!” Rika yelps as her friend bops her on the back of her head.

Meanwhile, you close your eyes, take a deep breath, and concentrate on what you’ve been told.

As it happens, you have plenty of experience when it comes to falling. Whether it's from being flung through the air by some manner of explosion or collision, from parachuting, or from the latter of half of a rocket jump - the part that reminds you why the maneuver isn’t more popular - you’ve long since become inured to falling. It’s just another, occasional part of your job.

You call up each experience in as vivid detail as you can imagine. Being blasted away doesn’t produce an effect. Perhaps it’s for the better - you wouldn’t want that to be the basis of your flight.

It’s when you recall the times you’ve jumped out of planes that you start to feel something. You don’t rise up like you’ve seen so many other do at this point, but you might be feeling a little lighter. If you had to guess, you’d say it’s the parachute - the assurance of safety - holding you back. There isn’t room for doubt.

Therefore, it makes sense that pointing a rocket launcher at your feet and pulling the trigger gives you the reaction you’re looking for. Busy focusing on the sensation of being propelled into the air, you almost lose your balance as you’re carried a few inches off the ground by an unseen force. Rika and Rikako both focus on you while you try not to topple over.

“Wow. Looks like you’re a natural!” Rikako says, grinning ear to ear. “That’s a great start. Can you try moving around, close to the ground?”

“Yeah, I just need to - woah!” You’re cut off as you slip forward, like you’re walking on a greased floor. “Just need to get my balance.” You tell her.

After a few minutes and a bit of swearing, you’ve adjusted enough to sort of skate to and fro just above the surface.

“Good!” Rikako’s enthusiasm is infectious. “Now try without moving your legs. Face a direction and lean forward!”

A bit more practice allows you to move around without using your legs. Thinking of it like swimming isn’t helpful - you aren’t pushing against anything. If anything, you’re pulling, or letting yourself be pulled along in a direction of your choosing.

After a while, satisfied with your progress, Rikako calls you over once more. “You’re doing a fantastic job. I’d just like to try one last thing before we switch to spellcards. Let’s work on free flight.”

Sadly, your previous basis proves to be insufficient for true flight at this time. The further up you go, the more resistance you encounter. At just below one storey, it feels as though a ceiling is pressing against you.

“Hm...” Rikako is floating close by, eyes narrowed in thought. “The memory you were using before isn’t working?

You grunt in the negative as you struggle upwards once more. “After a certain point it just seems impossible. It’s like hitting a ceiling.” You tell her, letting yourself fall a meter or so down.

She sighs. “Don’t worry about it. Everyone improves with time. The problem is probably that you still have reservations - perfectly normal, reasonable reservations - about floating dangerously high without any obvious safeties. Think about it this way - you need to take gradual steps, not throw yourself off a cliff on the first day, right?”

Her words make you freeze just before your feet touch the ground.

You’ve done that before, too.

“Hey, Rikako. Hold up for a moment.” You call out. “I think I’ve got something to work with.”

The scientist slows to a halt, giving you a curious look. “Yes?”

You close your eyes again. This time, you dredge up a more exotic memory.



You’re in Agartha, standing alone on one of the innumerable roads. You walk to the edge of the amber branch, raise your arms, and swan-dive off the edge. Even if there was air to howl against your descent, you know that you wouldn’t be able to hear it between the hammer-beat of your heart and the adrenaline sharpening your senses to a single point.

The warm, golden light at the bottom of the endless space grows brighter the longer you fall, like it’s trying to catch you, embrace you, wrap around you like a security blanket.

The golden light washes out your vision. You feel afraid. You feel weightless. You feel welcome-
No. 185645
File 144714056255.jpg- (273.38KB , 600x728 , Hakurei Reimu.jpg ) [iqdb]
185645
1.

Our wisdom flows so sweet. Taste and see.

TRANSMIT - initiate inheritance protocol - RECEIVE - initiate cross-pollination signal - TAG, YOU’RE IT - initiate the Archimedes declaration - WITNESS - Reimu Hakurei
No. 185646
As quickly as it arrived, the Buzzing leaves you.

Now you’re back to feeling weightless, but this time with a little more urgency. If the flipping in your gut is anything to go by, you’ve reached the apex of your brief ascent. Try as you might, it’s much harder to focus on the memory that got you up here when your attention is occupied with how fast the ground is rushing to meet you.

Fortunately, Rika and Rikako reach you before the ground does. They each grab one side of you, forcing the air from your lungs with an undignified squawk.

Eh. Sore and somewhat humiliated is a significant step up from dead.

“What. The fuck.” Rika grunts out as she sets you down. She keeps a hand on your shoulder, as if she thinks you’ll float back up. “You shot into the sky like you were sitting on a rocket. I’ve never seen anyone do that on their first day. What happened?”

You shake your head and do your best to look apologetic. “I, uh... Well, you said to think about falling, and I have jumped out planes before. With a parachute.” You add, seeing the confusion on their faces.

“Alright, then... I mean, I guess I wouldn’t know about that. It’s not like we have any of those.” Rika says, letting go of you with a frown. “Still, take it slow. Just so you know, the safety would have caught you even if we hadn’t been around, but don’t you go testing your luck with it.”

“Yeah, will do.” You reassure her.

As far as good news goes, it looks like you don’t need to die in order to receive Buzzing transmissions. The requirement feels closer to ‘do novel and useful things’.

Hopefully, you won’t die on the path to accomplishing those things, but hey! You’ve got less than a week to go!

“Well, I’d say that, overall, things went better than I expected.” Rikako says as she catches her breath. “I would advise against using whatever basis propelled you like that, however. While it certainly gave you an impressive speed, it’s not going to be useful until you can control it.”

You nod along. “I can definitely see why.”

“Still, you should now be able to keep yourself away from most terrestrial ferals. Just remember that the best defense is not being too far from the village when the sun goes down. And for humanoid Youkai, we’ve got spellcards.”

Rikako produces a clipboard with several blank cards and a pen attached. Thankfully, there’s still enough light to write by.

“Now, the basic principles behind making a spellcard are incredibly simple.” She says as she hands the clipboard over to you.

“All you need is a something that matters to you, right?” You have some idea where this is going. “A philosophy, some sort of knowledge, or a story you want to tell.”

“Yeah! Did somebody tell you about it?”

“Keine told us the basics.” You say. Mentioning the Tengu can wait for another time. For now, you have something to learn.

---

Making a spellcard, at first glance, is insultingly easy. Everything about it feels grossly simplified for an experienced magic user, like a toy chemistry kit a child might receive for Christmas.

Also like a child’s science kit, your first try with it blows up in your face. You’re knocked off your feet by the uncontrolled burst of light, but it’s far from the worst explosion you’ve been caught in.

“Interesting.” Rikako offers, wiping her glasses as she walks over. “Well, it would seem that you don’t lack for conviction.”

“I’ll take that as a compliment.” You say as you grimace and get back upright. “I think I may have put a little too much in there at once.”

“That looks likely. It’s also possible that there wasn’t a clear focus in the card.” She says. “The clearer the purpose, the stronger the spell.”

So, despite your initial impression, there is depth to Reimu’s system. Beneath the user-friendly exterior, you find a few principles that shed light on why spellcards have worked.

For example, it’s impossible to create a spell that gives your opponent no chance of survival, such as by instantly spawning bullets into your target. Your attempt at making one such spellcard is rewarded with another explosion and some questioning looks from the two scientists.

Actually casting a spellcard makes you feel.. somewhat uncomfortable, for reasons you can’t quite articulate right now. On some level, you are putting something personal on blatant display, but you aren’t convinced that there’s nothing else to it. For now, you’re willing to write this off as a beginner’s apprehension.

In the end, you draft up a modest selection of spells that both villagers find acceptable for your first spread. They manage to dodge every one of your shots without a problem, but they assure you that it’s normal for beginner spells.

You can feel the potential for improvements and new spells, but that can wait for later. The important thing is that you have the beginnings of an effective defense against other people’s spellcards.

Speaking of other people, a mental heads-up lets you know that Junko and Caleb are coming over, and she’s got company. The scientists have to go back, so you thank them for their help before moving to meet your companions.
No. 185648
File 144714101294.jpg- (823.32KB , 1000x838 , Taoists.jpg ) [iqdb]
185648
When they told you to expect company, you weren’t expecting this.

Your two colleagues are accompanied by an upbeat Futo, three other women,, one of whom appears to be ghost from the waist down, and one... is that a Jiangshi? At least you know who you’re looking at now.

“Oh my goodness, Caleb, is this your friend? She’s so adorable!” A woman in a blue dress gushes, clasping her hands together as you draw near.

Three seconds after meeting her and you already have reservations.

“Hey, Char. I should introduce you to the other Taoists.” Caleb pings as he and Junko walk over to you. “The one in blue with the fancy hair is Seiga Kaku. The one in green with the ghosty legs is Soga no Tojiko, and the one with the hair-tufts is Toyosatomimi, their boss.”

“She looks tasty!” The jiangshi calls out with an unexpectedly cheerful voice.

“Oh, and Yoshika Miyako. Watch out for her. She gets grabby.”

Yoshika cocks her head at you, her paper seal “Can I-”

“No, darling.” Seiga wags a finger at her minion. “Remember your manners.” Yoshika looks downcast, like a chastised puppy.

“Bah!.” Futo scoffs. “Pay no mind to the misbehavior of lady Kaku’s servant, Templar. The Crown Prince herself has seen fit to grace you with her presence!”

She’s certainly more energetic. Of course, not having Flappy breathing down your necks must have something to do with it, but it’s clear from the way that she’s bouncing around that Miko’s proximity is a huge morale boost for her.

Now if only she could be bothered to remember your name.

Their clothes are old-fashioned, even by the standards you’ve seen so far. Old-fashioned, but with an obvious attention to quality and style. These are people that want to command respect from whoever sees them.

For their part, Miko and Tojiko acknowledge you by inclining their respective heads.These two seem much more collected, though Tojiko has a sort of prickly demeanor about her. Now does not the best time to make leg jokes.

As for Miko... You’re dealing with a former emperor of Japan, now a full Hermit, with some manner of limited telepathy. At least you don’t have any desires that need to be hidden at the moment.

You return their gesture with a slight bow of your own. “It is a pleasure to meet you, Toyosatomimi no Miko.”

“Likewise.” She says. “We are always grateful to find another ally of humanity in this land, Executor McGallagher.”

Miko’s voice is serene, yet totally confident; the voice of someone accustomed to having their way despite any obstacle. Similarly, her body is slender, almost androgynous, but carried with a discipline that dismisses any notion of weakness. Her eyes cement this impression. They remind you of some bird of prey - Amber, sharp, and hungry.

A straight-bladed sword hangs from her hip, and a ritual baton is clasped in her hands.

To your surprise, there appear to be a pair of modern headphones covering her ears. As the only item on her that looks remotely contemporary, you wonder why Miko wears them. A focus for her telepathy?

Anyways, bringing up your affiliation is a tense way of starting the conversation. Is the ex-Illuminati trying to start something?

“Before we continue, I would like to assure you that any grievances I and my followers may have once held against your Order have long since been put to rest.” She says, as if anticipating your concerns. “I would hope that you might extend the same understanding to us.”

Hey, that’s better than the alternative. “Of course.” You tell her. “Have you been informed of the creature we fought at the shrine?”

You know, if they all come from the same time period, why is Futo the only one that uses ‘ye olde mannere of speech’?

“Yes. Futo’s report was deeply concerning, but I believe that the people of Gensokyo can prevail with a united front.”

“With her at the top of the pyramid, no doubt.” Junko pings while maintaining an expression of polite blankness.

“Is this safe?” You ping back. “Satori could read us.”


“She knows what you want, not necessarily what you think. Annoying, but manageable.”

Miko doesn’t give any sign of having overheard, but you suspect that she’s clever enough not to, telepathy or no.

“This is definitely something worth talking about, but I would prefer a more controlled venue than this.” You say, gesturing to the empty field you’re all standing in.

Miko nods. “That can be arranged. The halls of Senkai are always open to the enlightened.”

“Now, I recognize that all of us here are very busy people.” She says. “Still, I have one last point I want to bring up, if you wouldn’t mind.”

You glance over to your companions. “Any idea what she means?”

“I’unno.” Junko disguises a shrug as a roll of her shoulders. “Caleb’s the one who’s been hanging out with them. I didn’t meet them much earlier than you.”

“Cut me some slack, I just met her today.” Caleb retorts as he steps a bit further from Yoshika’s reach. “All I can say is that she’s much less conservative than I expected.”

“Go ahead.” You say. There’s no reason to refuse.

She smiles and closes her eyes before she continues.

“Last winter, Reimu confronted a former villager in the middle of the Human village. The man was a fortune-teller that grew dissatisfied with the imbalance of power between humans and youkai in Gensokyo. Hoping for power by his own admission, he enacted a ritual that would resurrect him as some manner of occult creature..”

“Cornered, he pleaded with her to let him be, arguing that he had no reason to attack the villagers, and merely sought to enjoy his new life. Despite this, Reimu struck him down on the spot, in full view of the village.”

So even with the spellcard rules, Gensokyo isn’t all fun and games.

Her eyes open again, their raptor-like intensity focused on you. “What do you think about Reimu’s decision, Executor McGallagher? Was her killing justified?”

---

[ ] Yes.
- [ ] Letting him go would be implicit approval. She had to put her foot down.
- [ ] A cornered rat will say anything to escape. He had already chosen to predicate his life on other’s suffering.
- [ ] Write-in.
[ ] Yes, but...
- [ ] Executing people in the street is a bit heavy-handed, don’t you think?
- [ ] She chose the best choice out of a bad selection. It sounds like a lot has already been asked of her.
- [ ] Write-in.
[ ] No.
- [ ] Write-in.
No. 185649
>>185279
>>185283

http://massivelyop.com/2015/11/04/funcoms-bondholders-unanimously-agree-to-defer-funcoms-debts/

There's been some financial difficulties at Funcompetence for a while. Thankfully, it looks like things are going to go on for at least a while longer. I'd be disappointed if they had to shut down before the story got close to resolution.
No. 185656
>>185649
Huzzah!
[x] Yes, but...
- [x] She chose the best choice out of a bad selection. It sounds like a lot has already been asked of her.
- [x] Besides, letting him go would be implicit approval. She had to put her foot down.
- [x] After all, a cornered rat will say anything to escape. He had already chosen to predicate his life on other’s suffering.
No. 185657
Hmm, Miko's being a bit misleading here, not mentioning that the man had committed suicide a couple of years before Reimu banished his ghost, but there's no way for our characters to know that.

[ ] Yes, but...
- [ ] She chose the best choice out of a bad selection. It sounds like a lot has already been asked of her.
No. 185676
[x] Yes, but...
- [x] She chose the best choice out of a bad selection. It sounds like a lot has already been asked of her.
No. 185680
[x] Yes, but...
- [x] She chose the best choice out of a bad selection. It sounds like a lot has already been asked of her.
- [x] Besides, letting him go would be implicit approval. She had to put her foot down.
- [x] After all, a cornered rat will say anything to escape. He had already chosen to predicate his life on other’s suffering.
No. 185681
[X] Yes, but...
- [X] She chose the best choice out of a bad selection. It sounds like a lot has already been asked of her.

>>185657
'New life' is enough of a clue, I think.
No. 185872
[x] Yes, but...
- [x] She chose the best choice out of a bad selection. It sounds like a lot has already been asked of her.
- [x] Besides, letting him go would be implicit approval. She had to put her foot down.
- [x] After all, a cornered rat will say anything to escape. He had already chosen to predicate his life on other’s suffering.
No. 185892
[x] Yes, but...
- [x] She chose the best choice out of a bad selection. It sounds like a lot has already been asked of her.

Without context, she killed a human because he technically broke a law. That's... sub optimal, but necessary.
No. 186135
File 144826733169.jpg- (335.09KB , 620x785 , bf7e32e73822aa2f944cddf65251fb56.jpg ) [iqdb]
186135
[X] She chose the best option from a bad selection.

---

“What the villager did was nothing less than turning himself into a monster.” You say, meeting Miko’s gaze. “He traded away his humanity for power built on the predation and suffering of innocent people.” You shake your head. “Reimu’s hand got forced.”

“Interesting.” Miko tilts her head back and raises her baton to her chin. “Now, off the record, what would you have done, in her position?”

She’s probing, trying to find levers to pull. You hesitate for a moment. Everyone else is waiting on your answer, watching with schooled looks of disinterest or neutral expectancy.

Everyone, that is, except for Yoshika. The jiang-shi is still looking at you like an eager puppy, complete with a dopey smile and a head tilted to one side.

“I would have done the same thing.” You answer a moment later. “Civilized people can’t just sit back and watch it happen.”

For a split second after giving your answer, you think you catch a gleam in Miko’s eye. It’s cold and sharp, like an unsheathed blade. But then it passes, and she gives you a smile worthy of a saint.

“I am pleased to find ourselves in agreement, then. May our future meetings be as harmonious.”

---

With that final round of pleasantries exchanged, your group and the Taoists part ways, with Yoshika shooting you some last hungry looks as your group walks back to the village. Interestingly enough, they seem to be flying towards the Myouren temple.

“Well, that’s where their mausoleum is buried.” Caleb says when you point it out. “At least, it’s where they first dug it up. I’m still not sure how anything winds up here.”

“I thought they had some kind of pocket dimension of their own.” Junko says. “They called it Senkai or something.” She snorts, as if realizing something.“I guess naming isn’t one of their strengths.”

“Well, maybe they just enjoy rubbing it in the Buddhist’s faces.” You say. “So, what’s your take on them, Caleb?”

“Miko and Seiga have adapted surprisingly well to the twenty-first century. Futo... not as much. The Taoists tell me she’s made a lot of progress, though. When they first woke up, she was all ‘thee’s and thou’s.”

“I’d say that Miko and Seiga are the two people to watch. Futo and Tojiko are capable mages in their own right, but my impression is that they won’t do much without their prince backing them. For her part, Miko talks a good talk about leaving factional squabbles behind, but I’m not sure where she stands. I guess we’ll have to see if she puts her money where her mouth is on that one.”

You foresee the Taoists under Miko re-aligning with the Illuminati through Caleb if they don’t decide that they can do better on their own. You don’t have a clear picture of what their influence in the Human village is.

Come to think of it, you don’t have a clear picture of what anyone’s influence is. HQ will want you to fix that.

Oblivious to your train of thought, Caleb goes on. “As for Seiga... to be perfectly honest, she kind of reminds me of an embarrassing aunt with her purse dog.”

He grimaces. “Anyways, I’m not getting the same sense of ‘devotion’ that Futo and Tojiko have from her, but I can’t say for sure what that means. It’s possible the only significance is that she doesn’t wear her heart on her sleeve like the other two.”

“There’s also something with a mask tsukumogami, Hata no Kokoro. The situation with her is looking complicated. They told me she was involved with one of the more recent incidents.”

“I’ll write up a brief for you guys later tonight.” He turns his head to look at you. “By the way, Char, I think you should consider doing some research of your own. There are worse ways to spend time while your Bee comes back online.”

“Eh. I guess you’ve got a point.” You tell him. “But a good first impression with the locals is important, too. I doubt they’ll be impressed if I bury my head in reports for a week.”


He shrugs. “Then find time. Drink some coffee later tonight and stay up with us.”

The conversation shifts to your activities for the day. By the time you reach the gate, you’ve finished telling Caleb and Junko about the two scientists. This time, the guards make smalltalk with Junko as they let you in, complimenting her on today’s sweep. She brushes it off and leaves them laughing with some joke or another.

You continue to tell them about your start into flight and spellcards as you walk find somewhere to eat. Junko brings you to a different restaurant this time: a small, smoky Japanese grill. This place is almost entirely human, so there should be less risk of nosy youkai. The food is just as good though, and it doesn’t take long for the three of you to finish.

---

The three of you are once again conversing in casual dress, although you all remember to ping the more sensitive information. Aya’s going to have her work cut out for her if she tries to repeat last night.

“So, how’d the ghostbusting go?” You ask. You’ve got a nice buzz going, but nothing unprofessional.

Junko sits reclined with her hands in her pockets and a cigarette in her mouth. “Easy-peasy. It turns out that the troublemakers were a family of three Ukrainian house-spirits and a local poltergeist. I cleared them out with Kasen.”

“Wait, Kasen? What were the guards doing?”


“I had them set a perimeter around the house. I mean, I already know how Kasen handles herself. Why complicate things?”

“I thought complexity was the point of the Dragon.” Caleb quips.

“Yeah, yeah.” Junko snorts. “Anyways, something about Kotohime feels... off. I’m sure she’s a fine person, but I’ll confirm that when I don’t have to worry about an itchy trigger finger around civvies. Then there’s her samurai lieutenant, Meira. Twenty bucks says she’s Jingu Clan.”

“Wait, for real?” You ask, leaning forward. Japan’s own monster slayers are all but guaranteed to align with you. It must be mutual respect between warrior cultures, although theirs has always been a little too rigid for your preference.

Junko nods. “Yeah. she’s just so stereotypically bullshido. Besides, if the Templars were able to make it here all the way from Europe, then it makes sense that a few of the homegrown zealots got in.”

“Anyways, between the four of them, the squatters had booby-trapped the house well enough that the guards kept getting thrown out on their asses. Still, nothing was lethal - seems they had the sense to not provoke the locals into burning it down with them inside. Anyways, I cleared all the traps they set up, so the poltergeist tried to scare us off with a silhouette through a paper screen and got grabbed by Kasen for her trouble. We grilled her for a bit, learned that her name was Kana Anaberal, and got her to have her friends stop all the ‘home alone’ nonsense.”

“That’s when we found out that the house spirits were confused newcomers with an ill son and zero knowledge of Japanese, and that the poltergeist has been through some rough times. I’m interested in getting some more information out of them, like how they got here, and what the poltergeist has seen or heard.”

“Where are they now?” Caleb asks.

“The villagers got Mokou to lead them all to Eientei. Meira told me that the Kikimora-Domovoi family should be alright. Seems like a few households around here are looking for some help that isn’t a Zashiki-Warashi, so at least they’ve got a good chance of finding an actual home.”

“As for the poltergeist...” Junko looks down and shakes her head. “I just hope Eirin’s skill applies to psychiatry. From the look of things, she had been homeless for a long while. I guess that coincidence brought both her and the Ukrainians to the same deserted house at the same time, and it was simpler for both to just accept the other than to get into another fight.”

---

In retrospect, Junko notices the disturbance before you and Caleb, but it doesn’t take long for the rest of you to catch on. Someone’s coming your way, and from the sound of her terrified sobs, she has a big problem. It’s odd how you don’t hear matching footsteps, though-

It’s as the voice’s owner bursts through the front door and you recognize the tearstained face that you realize you have a problem on your hands as well.

“Star?” The name comes out of all three of your mouths at around the same time and with similar degrees of concern and confusion.

She comes to a skidding halt in front of your table. “PleaseIneedyourhelpyouhavetohurry-”

“Woah there, kid.” Caleb says in a soothing tone, placing a hand on the fairy’s shoulder and ignoring how every eye in the building is focused on the scene she’s created. “Whatever it is, we’ll help you, alright? Just breathe and tell us what’s wrong.”

Star nods and takes a gulp of air. “There are- there are bad people at the shrine!” She chokes out.

FUCK!

She may as well have dumped a bucket of ice water on you all. The three of you jolt alert, and Star whimpers as the hand on her shoulder involuntarily stiffens.

Junko stands up and jerks her head toward the door. “Outside. Now.”

She ushers Star away from the onlookers as you slap a generous amount of cash on your table and follow. The four of you are silent as you step outside into the brisk evening aside for the occasional whimper from the fairy, and it’s only after Caleb points you all to a discrete nook between two buildings and splashes you all with a sobering spell that he resumes talking.

“Alright. Can you tell me anything about the people at the Shrine?” Caleb asks, stooping down to her height. “Are you sure they’re doing something bad?”

Luna nods, still on the verge of panic. “Humans. They had tools. Shovels, picks, and loud and scary things that I’ve never seen. Star and I heard them saying something about our tree, and- and Sunny still isn’t-”

Caleb cuts her off before any hysterics start, the very model of reassuring professionalism. “Don’t worry. We’ll take care of it.”

“Fuckfuckfuck Damn it!” He pings. “Are there horses or something we can take? I don’t think there’s any actual vehicles, and we don’t have time to ask around.”

“Call Ran.” You tell him “If she doesn’t know already, well, she needs to. She gave us her number, we might as well use it.”

Caleb mashes the number into his phone and brings it to his ear. After the longest three rings, you hear a response.

“Hello, the number you have reached-”

SHIT!

Caleb visibly resists the urge to throw his phone against the cobblestones.

“Char, you can fly, right?” Junko pings. “You’ll get there much faster than us, and we can grab some villagers.”

“By herself, though?” Caleb interjects, glancing at the still-shivering Star. “I’m not betting on whoever these people are just standing down against one person they’ve never seen before, and I don’t think an inchling and a few children count as backup.”

---

[ ] Go to the Shrine with Star. The sooner you go, the less risk there is for the Barrier. That’s all that matters right now.
[ ] Go to the Shrine by yourself. Star is in no condition to be getting close to a potentially dangerous situation.
[ ] Go to the Shrine as a group. Anything with even the remotest possibility of damaging the Barrier can’t be engaged blindly.
No. 186137
[x] Go to the Shrine with Star. The sooner you go, the less risk there is for the Barrier. That’s all that matters right now.
No. 186139
[x] Go to the Shrine as a group. Anything with even the remotest possibility of damaging the Barrier can’t be engaged blindly.
No. 186141
[X] Go to the Shrine with Star. The sooner you go, the less risk there is for the Barrier. That’s all that matters right now.
No. 186142
[X] Go to the Shrine as a group. Anything with even the remotest possibility of damaging the Barrier can’t be engaged blindly.
No. 186144
[X] Go to the Shrine as a group. Anything with even the remotest possibility of damaging the Barrier can’t be engaged blindly.
No. 186204
File 144835313973.jpg- (71.12KB , 455x455 , All-seeing Kawaii.jpg ) [iqdb]
186204
Hey guys,
I'd like to hear your thoughts on the story. Specifically, what you think is being done well, what needs attention, and what you think needs clarification. If you have any opinion on the pacing, I'd like to hear that as well.

Anyways, it's been close to a year since I started writing. I plan to continue for the foreseeable future, and I hope you guys will continue to enjoy it.
No. 186208
[x] Go with Star

Goddamm it, she still hasn't recovered yet. None of them has.

Still, we should hurry
No. 186215
>>186204

Well, since you asked for it...

THE GOOD

The lore. All of it. The politics, the intrigue, the youkai/human relations, the little details like "Professor Okazaki" popping up in Sonnac's email. The afterparty at Eientei had me drooling. I didn't even know TSW was a thing before this story, so maybe I'm just uninformed, but I can't tell where Touhou ends and it begins. Well done, and keep it up.

The fight scenes have been very well thought out, with great balance and interplay between the protagonists, the native Gensoukyans and the Filth. It's not often you see crossover fights play out so well. Again, keep it up.

THE BAD

Something about bits of the second thread has been bugging me. That's not particularly helpful, I know, but I can't quite put my finger on it. I don't mind the more relaxed pace, it just feels kind of... bland. Lacking in detail and character.

The banter between the protagonists has gotten a little stale, Rika and Rikako didn't really have anything to make them stick out from the crowd, Miko showed up to ask a single question and left right after; that sort of thing. Not bad, just not up to the (really high) standard set by earlier posts.

I think my main complaint is that Char losing her immortality has messed with the dynamic a bit too much. It all makes perfect sense in-universe, but it takes away one of the unique points of this particular story.

If that sounds like I'm grasping at straws, it's because I am. It's hard to find things to complain about in here.
No. 186221
>>186215
Yeah, I think you brought up a lot of the concerns I had about the last several updates. On one hand, I don't want to let this devolve into slice of life. On the other, I don't want to keep throwing monsters of the week in to prop things up. I guess I need to figure out a balance between high tension and low tension.
No. 186230
>>186221

I don't think it's the pace/tension that's bugging me. The Eientei party segment was pretty relaxed, and it's my favourite bit of the story so far. The conversations now feel like you're trying to get them out of the way and get on with the plot; the conversations then were the plot. Does that make any sense?

And I would be perfectly happy to read a slice of life story with your level of attention to detail. Just throwing that out there.
No. 186298
[ ] Go to the Shrine by yourself. Star is in no condition to be getting close to a potentially dangerous situation.
No. 186341
I've been following the story since it's inception with some interest as someone who played SW a bit but didn't stick with it, the overall mythos I thought paired very well with Touhou's subject matter.

Haven't noticed anything off myself and I always find an update here a treat.

/lurk
No. 186366
File 144870465055.png- (122.53KB , 449x613 , Sukuna.png ) [iqdb]
186366
[ ] Go to the Shrine by yourself.

---

It’s decided within the minute. As the only part of the group with both flight and combat relevance, you’re needed on-site ASAP. Junko will follow you on foot, and Caleb will find Keine with Star.

When you lift off the ground, it’s with much less grace than during your training. Still, now isn’t the time to worry about appearances. You orient yourself towards the Shrine, lean forward, and fly towards the darkened hill with as much speed as you can muster.

---

Compared to Marisa’s broom, you don’t move fast at all. Still, you arrive much sooner than you would have by foot.

The shrine is just as lifeless as it was when you left it, though much of the debris from the battle has been cleaned up. The actual shrine itself hasn’t been rebuilt yet, but the clearing in front of it is free of rubble.

You set down at the most important part of the shrine and send your drone on a search pattern. The gate is still intact, and shows no signs of any damage. Looking down the stone steps leading up to the shrine, you can see the warm, orange glow of the Human village.

In fact, you can see most of the valley from here. From a distant mountain specked with light, a moonlit river flows past both the Human village and Misty lake like a trail of dull silver.

At least the sky isn’t crumbling down from above you. But what else could have attracted attention here?

Focusing once more on the immediate concerns, you survey the shrine grounds. Neither thermal nor your drone reveal any would-be ambushers, even behind the darkness of the tree cover at the periphery of the shrine. Still, there are some metal objects scattered along beneath loose debris, most of them long and thin.

You approach the nearest one, tensing yourself to fight or run at the slightest hint of danger.

On a tangentially-related note, Satori had damn well better be holding up her side of the arrangement. Now is not the time for surprises.

Reaching out with your foot, you gingerly flip over the stone to reveal a metal edge, stained with bloo- wait, no. It’s just the head of a poorly maintained garden shovel.

Huh. Is that all?

Kicking over the rest of the rocks reveals tools of a similar caliber and condition: Shovels, sledgehammers, and picks, all of them in pieces. Interestingly, you find heat-deformed pieces of what must have been a jackhammer strewn about, and an antique-looking chainsaw embedded blade-first into a patch of exposed soil.

So there were people poking around here. But what’s left for them to demolish? And where are they?

You take another precautionary sweep of your surroundings. No signs of life but for the chirping of crickets.

If this is the work of some monster, you can only hope that flight is enough of a defense. No, that can’t be the case. What beast living this close to humans could have exploded the jackhammer?

You mutter a curse beneath your breath and start running towards the oak tree.

You don’t know exactly what just happened here, but what you’ve seen suggests the presence of some sort of magic user with probable hostile intent. Sunny and Luna have already been by themselves for a good while, and you’re still alone.

A cloud passes over the moon.

Your foot catches on something, pitching you forward with an undignified curse. You bring your arms up in time to soften the impact, but before you can get up you feel a sharp point at your jugular and a shrill voice in your ear.

“So one of you shits came crawling back, huh? I can’t believe Reimu stands up for-”

Your drone is close to you. It’s so tempting to just give the command for flash-fried inchling.

Hold on. Inchling.

“I think you’re mistaken” You say, half your face still pressed into the grass. At the edge of your vision, you see something... bowl-shaped? “Uh... you’re Sukuna, right? The inchling?”

“That’s right!” She snarls. “And I swear to whatever dinky god you follow that I will open you up if you try anything-”

“No, actually, I think there’s been a misunderstanding.” You try to tell her over the din. “You see, just a little while ago, Star flew over and asked me and my buddies for help.”

“Hah! A likely- wait.” She pauses, the momentum taken out of her. “Let me guess. You’re one of the green lady’s friends, am I right?”

Finally, you’re getting somewhere. “Yeah. Name’s Charlotte, you can call me Char for short, and for the love of God, please tell me what happened here to send a poor girl running all the way down to the village in tears.”

Sukuna’s still standing on top of you, but at least she’s lowered her sword. “Huh. Why’d she go looking for you, though?”

You shrug, taking some satisfaction in Sukuna’s yelp as she struggles for balance. “Your guess is as good as mine. So, Sukuna, do you happen to know why a bunch of people decided to leave a bunch of broken tools here tonight before vanishing?”

The inchling hops onto the ground, and you take that as your cue to get up. The two of you make your way over to the oak tree, where both of you sit down on a gnarled root.

“So, I may have said this earlier, but all of the people from before are gone.” She begins, miniature feet dangling over the edge. “There was whispering, then laughing, then screaming.” She looks up at you. “From the sounds they were making, I’m sure they were trying to break things further.”

“What? Are they blind? What’s left to break?”

She shrugs. “Beats me. I heard stone breaking, like they were going after the cobblestones. I was still figuring out what to do when they all got.. I dunno, eaten? If something ate them, it sure didn’t leave any mess.”

She’s right. There wasn’t any blood. Apart from the discarded, broken tools, there would be no signs of their presence.

“One thing, though.” She says, turning to face you. “They were people from the village. Humans. You could tell by the way they talked.”


Now that is interesting - also deeply concerning.

You keep your eye on the shadows. “So there’s something out there that can just... dispose of a group of humans and make it look easy, and yet here we are. You don’t think it’ll come back for seconds?”

“Hey, I’m more than capable of handling myself.” She says, standing upright and puffing up. “You should know.”

“You sure talk a big game for such a little girl.” You counter.

She pulls her needle out of its scabbard with a flinty grin. “Why don’t I poke your eye out, show it to your illuminati friend as a gift?”

“By all means, go ahead if you think you can pull it off without your booster seat on.”

A moment passes as each of you stares the other down.

Then you both start laughing.

“Ha! Oh man, you’re crazy, you know that?” She says, trying to stifle her laughs. “Like, there’s the pagodahead on the boring side of the spectrum, and you’re aaaaall the way up there with Marisa “More Goddamn Lasers” Kirisame and the whacko police chief.”

“Thanks, I try.” You say, reclining against the tree.

“I, didn’t miss anything, did I?”

You and Sukuna turn around to find Junko, somewhat out of breath, jogging over.

“Nothing much.” Sukuna says. You nod.

“Alright then.” She says with a raised eyebrow. “Sorry I was so late, by the way. The guards made a big fuss about me going out alone at night. Also, they’re still butthurt that I cleared the wall before.”


“So how did you get out this time?” You ask.

“I climbed over it again.” She tells you. “Look, I don’t see why they take it so personally when literally every person of consequence here can fly.”

“Yeah, and you just proved that you don’t even need flight to bypass them.” You retort. “They gotta feel a little, y’know, embarrassed.”

“I’m sure it’s a fine wall from the outside in.” She brushes it off. “Anyways, what’s going on? Things look stable here.”

You spend the next few minutes getting her up to speed.

“So the guards were concerned for my safety, but were perfectly okay with letting this bunch become youkai food?” Junko looks downright offended. “They’ve got more pressing security issues than a wall.”

Sukuna stands up. “Hey, if you guys have this under control, I’m going back, alright?”

“Back? To where?” You ask.

“There’s a hot spring some distance behind the shrine grounds.” Junko tells you. “It didn’t get hit by the fighting, and there’s a small changing shack or something.

Sukuna nods as she floats off the tree. “Not really that luxurious, but it’s good enough. Besides, someone’s gotta keep Genji company.”

You turn to face Junko as the inchling fades into the night.“You think she’ll get picked off by an owl or something en-route?” You ask.

You’re answered by the twang of a needle embedding its tip into the trunk above your head.

“Aw, I think she like you.” Junko sticks her tongue out at you.

“Anyways, I’ve got to wonder how the fairies are doing.” She raps her knuckles against the bark of the tree. “Luna! Sunny! Everything alright in there?”

It takes an uncomfortably long time, but there’s a rustle, and a familiar face emerges from the leaves. Sunny looks drained and tired. It makes sense, given the fright she’s had. Her ringlets look deflated.

“Sorry I couldn’t step out earlier.” She mumbles, shaking her head. “Sunny... she’s getting better, but we can’t leave her alone very long. It’s not your fault, I mean, you’ve done a lot already!” She rushes, eyes darting to you.

You nod and smile. “Of course. Don’t worry about it, okay?”

She seems a little reassured. “Yeah... The doctor from the bamboo forest visited us the day before yesterday and gave us some medicine. We didn’t have anything to pay her with, but she said that it wasn’t a problem.”


Her eyes focus, and she perks up with a start. “Wait, where’s Luna? Is she okay?”

“Luna’s fine.” Junko says. “Do you remember Caleb? We couldn’t all get here at once, so she went with him to find Keine. I guess she doesn’t really need to come all the way up here anymore.”

Luna nods. “Oh... I see. Do you know what happened to the people from before?”

You shake your head. “Sukuna was able to tell us a little, but we still don’t know why they came here or what they wanted to do. Or what happened to them, for that matter. Sukuna said it wasn’t pretty.”

“Actually, I might be able to shed some light on that.” A familiar voice sounds from behind you.

Luna withdraws into the leaves with a squeak. You jump to your feet, fire a hair’s breadth from blooming in your palms. Junko’s hand is already on her sword as the two of you turn to face-

“Ran?” You ask, bewildered, as the almost-flames die down.

“You know what happened here?” Junko’s grip doesn’t relax.

The kitsune woman nods impassively, arms folded together. “I do. More importantly, the three of you now know part of the truth as well.”

“I wasn’t aware it would be a problem.” You say. The three of you?

“-Junko? Char? What’s the situation?”

“Stable. Junko pings. “We were pretty sure that some villagers tried to mess with the barrier, and now that Ran is here grilling us, I’d say that we were onto something.”

“Ran? What did-” The groan is almost audible. “Forget about it. I’m currently two-thirds of the way up the hill with Keine, Kotohime, Star, and a squad of guards. Can someone fill me in?”

“As a matter of fact, it isn’t.” Ran continues, forcing you to switch your attention back and tune out the mental chatter. “Miss McGallagher, Miss Mori, Do you recall our arrangement?”

“The one where we don’t mess with the barrier and fight the Filth?” You say, taking the pressure off Junko.

She nods again. “Yes. Now, your associate, Miss Kamishirasawa, and Miss Henderson, and a number of villagers are all about to arrive, so I will make this short. My mistress merely advises that you exercise discretion regarding what information you disclose.”

“I don’t see how this is relevant to the barrier.” You tell her. Ran’s face hasn’t lost its businesslike stiffness throughout the exchange, and her tails are fanned out behind her. Is it an intimidation tactic?

“Then I must ask you to trust me when I say that it is.” Beneath her hat, one of Ran’s ears twitch towards the gate. “Consider that certain members of the human community would react poorly to the knowledge that some of their number had attempted to interfere with the barrier.”

Ran’s golden eyes glint as she looks straight at you. “And others will react poorly to the knowledge that the same activity was discovered.”

Oh boy. Out of one web of conspiracy, into another.

Junko seems to share your dismay. “We’re dealing with some kind of conspiracy? I don’t suppose you were the one who, ah, disappeared the vandals. They’re not coming back home, are they?”

Ran doesn’t answer with words, but an almost-imperceptible twitch of her jaw confirms your suspicions. “We are almost out of time.” She says, dodging the question. “I only ask that you all consider the greater safety of Gensokyo and the health of our professional relationship.”

“Hey, Charlotte and green ne’er do well, what’s up!” Kotohime’s voice crushes the previous conversation’s subtlety like a nutcracker.

You reflexively turn around to see Caleb along with Keine, who is carrying her sword in one hand and leading Star with the other, a rapidly waving Kotohime, and an escort of six village guards armed with polearms.

“Looking at the night sky, right?” Kotohime grins. “Newcomers always talk about how they’ve never seen the stars like this before.”

You know what you’ll see before you look, but you go through with the formality. Ran is gone, with not even lingering strands of tail fur to show her presence.

“So, what are we going to tell them?” Caleb pings as Kotohime starts on a tirade against the evils of excessive electricity consumption. “Keine seems reasonable. I don’t think she wants her own people pissing off Yukari.”

“I think we can fudge it without too much trouble.” Junko answers. “The question is, do we want to?”

That’s a good question. Ran did imply some benefit from following her request. However, the kitsune didn’t specify any penalty for being more truthful, and Keine has helped the three of you without entangling you in anything.

Then again, how wise is it to give Yukari any provocation?

You try not to let the frustration show on your face. It's going to be a long night.

---

What do you tell the villagers?

[ ] This was a false alarm. It was just a bunch of tanuki that scattered.
[ ] This was a false alarm, but there needs to be more security here.
[ ] There was something suspicious. We’re not yet sure what it was, but we can investigate.
[ ] There was something suspicious. Evidence points to activity by humans or humanoid youkai.
[ ] Evidence points to human villagers trying to damage the shrine.
[ ] Write-in.
No. 186367
[X] There was something suspicious. We’re not yet sure what it was, but we can investigate.

Too many people know that something happened to try to hush that up. But without knowing just who did what and why, it's probably not wise to pass on incomplete information that's bound to upset someone. Investigation and a suggestion about increased security seems a reasonable course of action.
No. 186369
> Star nods and takes a gulp of air.
> Luna nods, still on the verge of panic.
> Caleb interjects, glancing at the still-shivering Star.

> Sunny looks drained and tired. It makes sense, given the fright she’s had. Her ringlets look deflated.
> “Sunny... she’s getting better, but we can’t leave her alone very long. It’s not your fault, I mean, you’ve done a lot already!”
> Her eyes focus, and she perks up with a start. “Wait, where’s Luna? Is she okay?”
> Luna nods. “Oh... I see. Do you know what happened to the people from before?”

For the love of all that is holy, get your damn fairies sorted out!
No. 186371
[x] Ran just was doing her job by dealing with some... 'insane, idiotic intruders' that tried to break the Barrier.

Let's be honest here. If the humans want to complain, they can answer to Yukari.
No. 186377
>>186369
Fuck.
Guess i shouldn't write at 4am lol.
No. 186379
>>186369
>Getting fairies names mixed up.
Uh, deja vu.
No. 186381
So either

A- A group wanted to break this barrier for a long time and used this incident as an excuse

B- A group wanted to break this barrier to enable the taint to escape (corruption)

Either way, take it up to the Yakumos: they just did their job and possibly saved Gensokyo. Who did it isn't as important: if they could be stopped by the locals, we would not be talking about it.

[x] Ran just was doing her job by dealing with some... 'insane, idiotic intruders' that tried to break the Barrier.

Unless of course, this is ANOTHER conspiracy.
Er, maybe the tools are just tsukumogamis and they had no users to begin with?
No. 186382
[x] There was something suspicious. Evidence points to activity by humans or humanoid youkai.

All true!
No. 186383
I'm against phrasing it like this:
"Ran just was doing her job by dealing with some... 'insane, idiotic intruders' that tried to break the Barrier."

Ran actually refused to admit she did anything, so if you want to mention her it would be more accurate to say "Ran was here but wouldn't say what happened to whoever was using these tools. Perhaps they tried to interfere with the barrier."

This isn't my vote, though, I still stick with what I said in >>186367
No. 186384
>>186369
If a fourth fairy got mixed up in there, then our protagonist is clearly slipping. At least she's mentally stable.

>>186371
Okay, I'll revise my post to
[x] Someone was trying to break the barrier, and Yukari dealt with it.
No. 186385
[X] There was something suspicious. Evidence points to activity by humans or humanoid youkai.
No. 186387
>>186366
>[ ] Go to the Shrine by yourself.
Fucking what. That got exactly one vote.
No. 186388
>>186387
Wow, you're right. I can't believe I missed that. I honestly feel pretty embarassed. Should I do it over?
No. 186389
>>186388
If it doesn't make a big difference, I'd say 'no'
No. 186394
>>186388
Well, if the main difference is that delaying would have left us with less information somehow (like Ran was about to do a more thorough job of hiding the evidence or something) there's no point in a do-over since the readers already know it.

If something completely radical would happen you might want to.
No. 186409
>>186377
>>186388

Go home, Bee, you're drunk.

[x] Tell Keine in private
-[x] Evidence points to human villagers trying to damage the shrine.

I think we can trust Keine, but we should tell her in private just in case the guards are in on it. Explain the evidence and Ran to her, then let her decide what to tell the others. She probably knows who's trustworthy and what to say better than us.
No. 186414
>>186384
I now recant my statement on the protagonist's mental health. The protagonist should very much check into Eientei and make sure her mind is in the right place.

This just keeps getting stranger. First the fairy mixup, then the vote mixup...
No. 186418
>>186414
While I won't deny the possibility of something screwing with your mind, the most recent errors are due to me just not proofreading properly. I'll try to stay on top of things in the future.
No. 186615
File 144954284499.jpg- (156.55KB , 1132x1600 , ddda8e5635f015fbd734c3a7fdce0df1.jpg ) [iqdb]
186615
[X] There was something suspicious. While we aren’t 100% certain, evidence suggests activity by humans or humanoid youkai. Whatever the problem was, it seems likely that the Yakumo took care of it.

Additionally,
[x] Tell Keine in private
-[x] Evidence points to human villagers trying to damage the shrine.

---

You have a complicated relationship with lies.

The idea of giving false information to people rouses disgust in your blood. Lying is betrayal, and any Templar worth their cross would die before committing that sort of disgrace. You’d never lie to your superiors, your comrades, or your friends.

Of course, you’re also a card-carrying member of a global conspiracy angling for world domination. By taking the job, you implied a willingness to withhold the truth and present reassuring falsehoods.

And after what you’ve seen in your career, you agree with that. There’s too much horror in the world, and ordinary people are frankly better off unaware.

It’s for the greater good. That’s what it’s been about since day one.

“You know, I bet this is a test.” Junko pings. “She’s looking to see if we’re both willing to commit to her agenda and capable of misleading the villagers.”

“Are we?” You ask.

“Well, like I said, I think we can steer them towards a favorable conclusion. Ran wants us to say that there weren’t humans.” Junko pings. “Apparently there’s this group in the village that’ll be upset if people find out that there were. Human supremacists?”

“We can worry about that later.” Caleb replies. “Our best bet is to play on existing bias. I think that means implicating youkai.”

You address the fidgety, black-haired fairy holding Keine’s hand first. “Star, you should go back home. Whatever was scaring you is gone now.”

She glances up at Keine, who nods. “It’s getting late, and your friends are going to be worried. Get a good night’s sleep, okay?” The teacher tells her.
Star looks up at her, then runs over to your group. The fairy hugs each of you in turn before flying as fast as she can towards the tree.

“It seems like we dragged you guys all the way up here for nothing. Sorry about that.” You say, turning to face the cohort of villagers. “Star came to us in a panic, and we figured that it was better to be safe than sorry.”

“Yes, she told me as much on the way up.” Keine replies. “But the possibility of a group seeking to cause harm here of all places is troubling. Did you find any identifying clues?”

“Not much. None of the fairies could identify anything, and the Inchling was too far away to have heard the commotion. Then there’s these over here.” Junko says, pointing to some of the scattered tools. “A few digging tools, but no clothing, blood, or signs of a struggle.”

“What about that?” Keine casts her lantern’s glow onto the chainsaw.

“Well, I can’t tell you much beyond that it’s a pretty old chainsaw.” Junko says as she comes for a closer look. “Doesn’t look like it’s been taken care of that well. Do you know anyone who might have owned one?”

Keine thinks about it, her brow creasing. “It wouldn’t make sense for anyone but a woodcutter to have one of those, and they generally live outside the village, close to the Forest of Magic. Bamboo doesn’t need power tools.”

“But they’re not the only ones who might have brought it.” Caleb says. “There’s a Tsukumogami settlement that just got started in the forest, right? It makes perfect sense for them to need some way to clear trees.”

“Nope!” Kotohime says, cheerily. “None of the local Tsuku would dare keep their own belongings in such poor shape. Their leader, the drum lady, is really strict on them ‘treating their fellows with dignity and compassion’ or something like that.”

You and your fellow Chosen double-take. Kotohime’s sharper than you thought. Is the eccentricity an act?

Meanwhile, murmuring from Keine and the rest of the villagers seem to agree with the police chief. You need to steer this back into manageable territory.

“Well, you’re more familiar with them, so we’ll defer to your judgement” You tell her. “But whoever it was, they could also have gotten it through Kappa traders or the Tanuki gang. There isn’t much we can rule out.”

“But then what happened to these people, whoever they were?” Kotohime says, looking around. “I doubt they decided to just leave all this behind.” She points at the head of a shovel. “Like this, for instance. This here has got to be a genuine, collector's edition S-rank-”

No, if it’s an act, you might as well just take it at face value.

Keine cuts off the guardswoman before the conversation can derail further. “Leaving aside the question of identity, where did they go?”

“I’ve only been here for a few days, but I’ve picked up a pattern.” Caleb says. “You mess with the shrine or the barrier, you get dealt with by either Reimu or the Yakumo's.”

He shrugs. “Seeing as Reimu isn’t with us, I suppose there’s really only one plausible outcome, and only one place to turn for an answer.”

Kotohime lets out a drawn-out groan at that. “Well, I guess we can call this investigation a wrap. Dealing with that fox is like trying to win a game of drunk shogi against a Tengu. It was probably a bunch of minor youkai, anyways, trying to make themselves feel scarier with petty vandalism. At least they’re the fox’s problem now.”

A number of the guards seem to share their leader’s disdain. You spot grips tightening around spears and jawlines going hard.

Keine looks somewhat put off, but doesn’t press further. “Well, the shrine is safe and it doesn’t look like trouble is coming back. If there’s nothing else, I suppose we should all head back, though I’m curious about something. Why did Star deliberately seek the three of you out ahead of all others?”

“I think I have an idea.” You answer. “It’s just a theory, though.”

“Then perhaps we should discuss it tomorrow.” She says, turning away and moving towards the rest of the villagers.

---

“Actually, it shouldn’t take long. I’d prefer to clear it up now, if possible.”

“Char, what are you trying to do?” Caleb asks.

“Ran doesn’t want word to reach the public, but we know that Keine can keep a secret. If there are humans trying to make trouble, Keine needs to know. We need her trust as well.”

She pauses mid-step, looks at you, then back to her guards. “Is this related to...”

“Yes.” You tell her. “Outsider stuff.”

Keine nods and turns to Kotohime, dutifully waiting at the stairs. “Kotohime, head back without me. I’ll fly in myself.”

“You sure about that, boss?”

Keine rests a hand on the sword hanging from her hip. “I can handle myself. You know me.”

“Alrighty, then!” Kotohime waves goodbye. “Hey, Char and other Outsiders! She better come back in one piece, you got that?”

Keine turns back to you as the village guards disappear from sight.

“Before you commit to this, are you sure that Keine isn’t part of the group Ran warned us about?” Junko pings.

“She’s shown a willingness to work with all the other major players. I doubt it.”

Caleb exhales deeply, but gives no other indication of concern. “Alright. Let’s take the risk.”

“Would I be incorrect in assuming that you have something more to share with me?” Keine asks, setting the lantern against the ground.

“As a matter of fact, yes.” You say. “Keine, we believe that this disturbance was caused by village humans.”

Keine’s eyes widen. She blinks, then folds her arms and frowns. “Then why did you attempt to rule out that possibility earlier?”

Caleb speaks up. “When I met with the Taoists, they cautioned me regarding the existence of a... radical human group within the village.”

“I see.” Keine is still frowning, but with a more apologetic slant. “This is probably obvious, but you use ‘radical’ to mean dangerous and extremist, rather than associated with skateboarding, correct?”

What?

“Uh... yes?” Caleb says, seeming to be just as confused.

“Of course.” Keine sighs. “Forgive me. You mentioned the Taoists, and Futo has on occasion had some difficulty adjusting to modern speech.”

“Yeah, I’ve noticed.” Caleb says. “Anyways, it seemed imprudent to reveal that conclusion in front of so many people at once. Not to say that your men aren’t to be trusted, but I felt that it would be wise to control the spread of this knowledge for now.”

Keine covers her forehead with her hand. “Yes, I can think of a few who would might start trouble over this for one reason or another. In any case, it seems that Ran is likely responsible for whatever happened to the interlopers. I’ll need to speak with her about it tomorrow.”

“How are you going to reach her?” You ask.

“She purchases fried tofu from the market every week.” Keine tells you. “During this time, villagers often approach her for conversation or small requests. Beyond that, there are few means for non-emergencies.”

Fried tofu? Someone doesn’t mind perpetuating stereotypes.

“That’s good to know.” Junko says. “But as it stands, I think tonight has shown that there are serious gaps in our knowledge of village politics. It looks like we’re going to be here for a while, so it would be best if we filled them in soon.”

Keine nods. “Yes. To tell you the truth, I didn’t think that I would need to. Historically, major disturbances have only been caused by the other groups. The Scarlets, for instance, or the Lunarians, or the Buddhists, or the ghosts...” She catches herself before she trails off. “No villagers have been able to come anywhere close.”

“Anyways, a proper briefing on village affairs should involve Akyuu, and the soonest I know that she’ll be free from village affairs is two nights from now. Do you require directions to her home?”

“No, but shouldn’t we include some of the village officials?” You ask.

“In theory, yes.” Keine says, picking up her lantern and walking back to the stairs. “ However, I suspect that the three of you want to actually get things done, which the council somehow always manages to thwart. I would know - I used to hold a seat.”

She looks over her shoulder at your group. “Aren’t you coming back to the village?”

“Oh, definitely.” Caleb says. “It’s just that, well, the view from up here is great. Might as well take a few photos before heading back down, right?”

A faint expression of doubt passes over Keine’s face, but then she gives him a weary smile. “Very well, then. Don’t stay too long, though. Goodnight, and thank you all for telling me.”

You watch her as she steps off into the night sky, her profile shrinking into a dark blue speck.

“Keine has an idea of who’s behind this.” Caleb pings. “She’s not certain, but she’s got a pretty big hunch.”

“In what context?” You ask.

“She’s definitely not happy about them attempting this. I think Keine was telling the truth when she said she never expected them to be so bold.”

Ah, shoot. You forgot to ask Keine about the fairy thing. Maybe you can bring it up later. For now, you’re expecting someone.

You count to three.

A polite cough comes from behind you. “I believe thanks are in order.”

Ran is back, and there’s an air of satisfaction about her demeanor. “Certain villagers would have caused quite a stir if they knew how badly they’d failed here.”

“Right, about that.” Caleb says. “We’d appreciate knowing exactly what we helped you cover up just now.”

“Of course.” Ran says. “It’s quite simple. Four humans belonging to a local secret society came here tonight with the intention of finding a means to subvert the power of the Hakurei shrine for their own ends.”

“Could... could they actually have screwed things over with just gardening tools?” You ask, eyebrow raised. Surely after all the effort you all put in to stop Flappy, it would take more than just a few yokels poking around with sticks in the dark to ruin everything.

Ran sniffs. “Of course not. Those men were expendable, sent to gauge just how much their group would be allowed to get away with.”

“And since you’re mentioning expendability, I’m assuming that they’ve been permanently dealt with.” You state, arms crossed.

Amber eyes focus on you with a predator’s intensity. “In a manner of speaking, yes. Is that of concern to you, Executor McGallagher?”

---

[ ] Yes: Ran, you can’t just up and vaporize people without warning!
[ ] Yes: I find it difficult to believe that there was no better solution.
[ ] No: We all have our duty, Ran. You did yours.
[ ] No: Just looking for clarification on that point.
No. 186616
[x] No: Just looking for clarification on that point.
No. 186618
[x] Yes: I find it difficult to believe that there was no better solution.

A 'no' would be more sensible, but I don't think Char would easily approve of treating humans this way, even if she understood Ran's reasons.
No. 186620
[X] Yes: I find it difficult to believe that there was no better solution.
No. 186621
[x] Possibly: Since I don't know what happened to them I can't actually be sure. A little clarification would let me give a more definite answer.
No. 186624
[X] No: Just looking for clarification on that point.
No. 186625
[x] Yes: I find it difficult to believe that there was no better solution.

Godlike beings treating humans as insects to be crushed whenever they do something too annoying, like trying to gain power. What's next, they release the Kraken?

And if she pulls some law of nature "this is the way the world works" bullshit, remember that this is the way Yukari decided to set things up when she created Gensokyo. We're all intelligent beings here, not slaves to "nature". Maybe not prudent to go down this road here and now, but keep it in mind.
No. 186626
[x] Yes, I find it difficult to believe...

There the easy way, the right way and a proper moment to use each.
No. 186629
[x] Yes: I find it difficult to believe that there was no better solution.

This feels like a tactical misstep.

If anything it would've been better to leverage them for information on the whole structure, instead Ran threw away pieces the other party already knew were expendable.

It was a good chance to turn it to our advantage.

I can't tell if the votes here are saying there should've been mercy, because really, the secret societies would've been much, much worse to individuals that threatened them on any level.
No. 186631
>>186629
That's just it, these humans weren't a threat at all. They could have been gapped into a pile of horse manure instead and the end result would be the same.
No. 186633
It seems like Ran isn't going to come out and actually say what happened, and "in a manner of speaking" could mean anything. Perhaps she killed them, or turned them into toads, or expelled them through the barrier, or has them stored for vivisection experiments. Some of these would be more acceptable than others, which is why I hesitate to give a definite yes or no.
No. 186646
Changing vote >>186618 to
[x] No: Just looking for clarification on that point.

>>186629
>the secret societies would've been much, much worse to individuals that threatened them on any level
This is true, but in fairness we've already been playing Charlotte as unusually nice for a Templar. It would make her a bit of a hypocrite to object to this, still.

For your first point, I think that if these radicals knew anything useful about their higher-ups, Ran would have already gotten that information out of them. Granted, if whoever's behind this has any brains they wouldn't have sent anyone who could be used against them once caught. But I don't think we should assume Ran made a tactical error here- like >>186633 said, she was vague about what exactly she did.
No. 186684
[X] No: Just looking for clarification on that point
No. 186686
[X] No: Just looking for clarification on that point.
Tiebreaking. Let's try to not piss off Ran.
No. 186752
Finals are done, writing will resume shortly.
No. 186768
File 145094773823.png- (1.01MB , 1920x1826 , nueve.png ) [iqdb]
186768
[ ] No, just looking for clarification on that point.

---

Ran’s eyes remain locked on yours for another moment. Then her ears flick from beneath her cap, and she shifts her gaze away.

“I think it was about sending a message.” Caleb pings you. “Trying to exploit this situation isn’t going to be tolerated.”

“In any case, this attempted sabotage has confirmed one of my concerns. Without Reimu to keep the balance, even the most meager groups are scrambling after power.”

“But Reimu can always smack things back into order once she recovers, right?” Junko says. “Records say that it’s always worked in the past.”

“It is still uncertain when that will be.” Ran replies. “And by that point, it would be difficult even for her to reverse certain changes.”

Something about those words sends a chill through your stomach. “You think people might try to kill each other?”


“No. At least, not on a large scale, and not by any major players.” Ran shakes her head, calming some of your fear. “The reprisals would be too great for one group to openly attack another..”

“However, unscrupulous individuals may not care about such concerns, which is why we find ourselves here at this time.” She says, pointing at the tool fragments. “Normally, a situation like this would not be an urgent concern. After tonight, I hope that you do not doubt my ability to carry out my duties. However, your presence changes the situation.”

Before any of you can respond to that, Ran goes on. “The three of you occupy an interesting position in the current balance. Powerful and experienced, yet human. Immortal, yet young. You are all still newcomers to Gensokyo, yet without a doubt your societies have grand designs for this place already.”

“Do you want us to be totally apolitical?” Caleb asks, clasping his hands behind his back.

Ran dismisses the question with a wave of her hand. “Hardly. We have already agreed that any of you may make connections as you see fit, so long as you do not jeopardize the overall safety of Gensokyo. I’m telling you this now because while you would have realized this eventually, the sooner you do learn, the more likely it is that we can negotiate this current period of instability with minimal damage.” She says, looking straight at Junko, whose mouth stretches into a grin.

“You didn’t just... say what I think you did, did you?” She asks with an undercurrent of glee.

“I have no idea what you mean, Miss Mori.” Ran’s words are studiously neutral even as a glint of amusement dances in her eye.

Junko just gives a short laugh. “Hah! Well, that’s fine. If there’s going to be chaos, the least we can do is make sure that it happens in an organized, productive manner.”

“Looks like we’ve got tacit approval from the Yakumo. It’s a step up.” Junko pings.

“She seems to be extending a lot of trust.” Caleb responds. “She’s got an angle. How is having the three of us going about our business going to help Yukari?”

“As far as I’m aware, it’s not any different from anyone else in Gensokyo.” You respond. “It’s not like there’s some kind of exclusion zone or ghetto around.”

“It’s not different, but I’d bet that nobody else has had the fox tell them that to their face. It’s basically an invitation at this point.” He responds.

“There are strict limits on how much a Yakumo can interfere in political affairs, so I cannot provide private information on any law-abiding group or individual to you.” Ran continues. “However, in the interest of Gensokyo’s security, I will offer some guidance.”

She clears her throat, and her tails flex behind her in an imposing display. “Out of all the factions, be most mindful of your relationship with the Human village. Virtually every major youkai group works to hold power over them through wealth, intimidation, technology, or information. Though they are all in direct competition with each other for dominance, there exists an unspoken agreement between them that the village must never be allowed to wield power. A human must never lead the humans.”

Anticipation dances through your temples. You see where this is going. “And now that we’re here...”

“One or more of you may be expected to fill that role, either by villagers who want a champion or youkai who view you as an obstacle.”

Major youkai groups... it might be easier to list who isn’t under that heading. Mamizou and her Yaks are very obviously trying to weave themselves into the village, and the Tengu and Kappa seem both seem to be large enough to have the means and interests to hold influence. Your conversation with Byakuren has made it clear that keeping the Myouren Temple in good standing is a major priority for her.

Other groups appear less certain. The Oni might not be able to project enough power from the Underground, and the Tsukumogami sound like they’re more concerned with the day-to-day management of a new village than spying on their neighbors.

Altogether, you have walked right into a web of interests where perhaps the one thing they can all agree on is that you and your colleagues need to be shut down as hard as possible or turned to their advantage.

Well, that’s fine. If they think that Reimu’s absence is a good time to split the humans between themselves like a cake, you’ll have something to say about that.

“So what’s the worst-case scenario?” Caleb asks. “Say one of us steps up to bat for the villagers and the other youkai try to stop us. We don’t stay dead, and you already said that mutually-assured destruction should keep major powers from trying anything serious. What’s left?”


“Spellcards.” She tells you, simply. “If you accept a challenge and its conditions, you will be held to the outcome. Anyone who refuses to respect the system would be made an example of. Have you heard about the Amanojaku?”

“I’ve heard references.” Junko says. “I think her name was Seiga?”

Ran nods. “Yes. I am not exaggerating when I say that virtually every other spellcard user attacked her over the span of a few days. To say the least, it would certainly make life difficult for one of you if you had to contend with that. In your case - speaking purely of hypotheticals - you might expect to be imprisoned, so that your resurrection would not take effect, or deceived, so that your abilities would be wasted.”

“And in the event of a Filth outbreak?” You venture.

“Needless to say, your assistance would be of utmost importance in combating any future infestations.” Ran says. “Such a matter would supercede any factional squabble.”

“Makes sense.” Caleb says, shrugging. “No point in fighting for control if there’s nothing left to control.”

“So you all understand, correct? The balance of power is shifting, and each of you is a new fulcrum. If left unchecked, this unrest will lead to weakness and treachery.” Ran says.

“I think we all understand, but why are you telling this to us?” You ask. “I feel like you’re banking hard on us using this information responsibly.”

“Not to say that we won’t,” You amend. “But like you said, we’re newcomers.”

Ran’s gaze surveys your group once again, this time lingering over each of you.

“Your eyes look as though they have seen the end of the world.” She says, solemn enough to seemingly quiet the crickets. “Am I wrong?”

You wince look away at that. From your side, you hear the others doing the same. Ran’s right - in the depths of Dreams where reality has been consumed, you’ve all seen what the Dreamers are planning for the world. In the Tokyo Subway. In the Kingsmouth Fog. In Akhenaten’s pyramid. In the bowels of the Carpathians.

-in your dream with Yukari-

“Then you know what’s at stake.” Ran continues. “I believe that you can all be trusted to not hasten that future through petty factional bickering and mayhem.”

“Now, if we have nothing left to discuss, I must be off.”

In the wake of that subject, none of you really have anything to say. Ran turns to face the gate before tilting her head back around, almost as an afterthought.”

“Oh, and a final note. I have vetted a new batch of communiques from your handlers. You may access them from your phones at your leisure.”

With that, the kitsune raises her arms, fans out her tails, and disappears before your eyes without a trace.

---

“So, she told us just now to be players, not pawns, but I don’t think that’s all there is.” Caleb begins. The three of you are sitting on slabs of rubble, and your mood is still sour from the mention of the apocalypse.

“So what else do you think is there?”

“What she really wants is to have a knight, a bishop, and a rook on her side rather than someone else’s.” He says.

“There’s still mutual benefit.” Junko says, blowing a spiral of smoke as you roll your eyes at the chess metaphor. “As long as the benefit of what we get outweighs any obstacle from what she does, we come out ahead. I’m not getting a strong feeling that Ran’s looking to screw us over.”

“That’s the problem.” Caleb says, frustrated. “I can’t read her. She keeps a tighter lid on her emotions than just about anyone I’ve ever met, so she’s keeping something big hidden.”

“So what if she is? We aren’t going to be finding out anytime soon.” Junko says. “Besides, as old as she is, it’s inevitable that she’s got secrets of her own. It’s nothing to lose sleep over.”

Caleb frowns, but nods as he leans back. “Yeah, it’s just that, as a rule, the older and more powerful they are, the more dangerous their baggage is. I’d prefer to not be around if it comes out.”

“No reason to believe it will.” Junko says, shrugging. “Keine said that Ran rubs shoulders with ordinary people in the village. That hardly sounds like a timebomb case to me.”

Caleb nods again, as if trying to reassure himself. “You’re right. In any case, the conditions she’s set... they’re incredibly lenient. As long as none of us does anything pants-on-head stupid, she’ll leave us be, but there’s still a lot to watch out for. There hasn’t been significant influence from the big three here for two centuries, and a lot of groups are going to do their damndest to keep it that way. They’ve been polite so far, but sooner or later we’re going to come into conflict. Others are going to try to use us for their own ends.”

“We aren’t errand boys or mercenaries, and we certainly aren’t pushovers.” You say, with perhaps more force than necessary.

“But we aren’t going to get far on our own.” Caleb says. “If we don’t work together, we’ll just be three more immortal humans, and there are already a few here. I guarantee you that any group worth dealing with has plans to deal with that - say, if Mokou happens to go off the deep end. What we need is a power base.”

“Allies.” You say.

“Yes. Groups that will give us entry into Gensokyo's politics, powers that we can attach to and use as launching pads. We’ll work with them, but ultimately we’ll need to make sure that they work for us as well.”

“The villagers are an obvious choice.” He goes on. “Especially so if they’re looking for someone strong to represent them. The Taoists are definitely interested in us, and I’m sure they aren’t the only ones.”

“Remilia hates everything you and I stand for, it seems.” He says, gesturing to you. “Same thing with the Oni - they aren’t going to be happy about an Illuminati and a Templar in town.”

“Tengu are likely to have a similar reaction.” Junko adds. “Powerful humans with agendas of their own are exactly what they’re afraid of.”

“So we find allies faster than they can.” You say. “The villagers. Yuuka. Eientei. The Moriya. We’ll have enough support that we can’t just be shut out, and we can investigate as we see fit. There is a lot of history buried in this place, and something big going on behind all of it. I don’t plan on letting whatever that is go undisco-”

Junko sit upright and holds her hand up. “Wait. Someone’s coming!”

You all get to your feet , facing the indicated direction. “Any idea who it is?” Caleb asks, eyeing the ruined courtyard.

“Two contacts.” Junko reports. “Flying, talking. Not being subtle about it. Really high voices...” Her eyes narrow. “Wait a moment.”

“I’M HERE, SUNNY!” A familiar voice shatters the late-night quiet.

Oh no.

“OH YEAH!” Cirno roars as she clears the tree cover and dives past you. The fairy comes to a landing between your position and the tree, digging her heels into the earth to slow her momentum. A few seconds later, an out-of-breath Daiyousei comes limping out of the sky to faceplant next to her.

Cirno draws herself up to her full one meter of height and plants her hands on her hips. “Alright, bad guys, now you’re really in for a- wait, where are the bad guys?”

She takes an uncertain step forward, still without noticing any of you. “Hellooooooo? Dai, where is everyone?”

“Think...might be... at home?” Daiyousei pants out as she’s helped to her feet by the other fairy.

“Oh, right. Let’s go check!” Cirno starts marching towards the oak, cheerfully ignoring how Dai is being all but dragged along..

The three of you exchange looks before you start walking towards them.

You clear your throat to get their attention. “Hey, Cirno, Dai...”

Cirno wheels around with a shrill yelp, icy mist forming around her hands. “Aha! I’ve got you right w-where I - wait, what are you doing here?” She asks, the mist disappearing as fast as the battle stance.

Daiyousei has gotten to her feet by now, though she’s still resting her hands on her knees and taking deep breaths. Both fairies are looking at your group with expressions of confusion.

“Star came to us for help.” You explain. “She told us that there were... bad people doing things at the shrine, so we came up with Keine and some other villagers to have a look.”

“Did you get them? Cirno asks. “Did you get to murderize their insides from the inside out?”

“What? No.” You shake your head. “Turns out it was just some weak humanoid youkai. Nothing to be worried about. All of the fairies here are fine.”

“That’s good.” Daiyousei manages. “We came as soon as we heard about it, but we were too late anyways...”

She looks downcast. That’s no good.

“It’s fine.” You tell her. “Like I said, Star, Sunny, and Luna were never in any trouble, so don’t worry about it.”

“Cirno, Daiyousei, how’d you hear about it?” Caleb asks, crouching down to their height.

“Oh, um...” Dai fidgets under the attention, but Cirno takes the opportunity to jump back onto center stage.

“Dai found out, because she’s really smart!” She proclaims. “She heard a rumor from some other fairies that Star was flying down the shrine looking really scared, so there had to be something scary there! And because I’m really strong, she wanted us to go together!”

Well, that’s fine. Fairies are supposed to come back when they die, anyways, so it’s not like they had a lot to lose from checking it out. Still, you don’t relish the idea of those girls dying.

“It’s good to know that you two are looking out for your friends.” You say. “Just remember that you might want to find Keine or one of us before you charge in, alright?”

“But I heard that you hurt Wriggle!” Cirno says, as if suddenly remembering, uncertainty written across her features. “Why are you saying that you can help my friends?”

The breath catches in your throat as you stiffen up.

“Wriggle attacked me.” You say, careful to keep your voice level. “I was walking back from the lake in the late afternoon when she showed up and threw her bugs at me. No warning, no provocation, no spellcards.”

“But you hurt her!” Cirno says, face growing redder and Daiyousei shrinking further behind her with each shouted word. “I saw her in the nurse’s office, and she had all these red burns over her skin!”

“Nonlethal shocks only. I didn’t have another choice.” You try telling her. “She wasn’t running away and she wasn’t willing to talk. I made sure she got back safely, as well. Did you hear about the gashadokuro?”

Cirno’s eyes cross for moment upon hearing the name before filling once more with a righteous anger. “But the geisha... gashadoo didn’t hurt her, you did!”

---

[ ] Wriggle only picked a fight because you told her I was easy pickings. Why on earth would you do that?
[ ] She wasn’t following her own rules! She could have been trying to kill me, and I really can’t afford to die right now!
[ ] Yeah, I hurt her. I also healed her and saved her from the big damn bone monster trying to eat us! Ask Keine!
[ ] Write-in.
No. 186769
[X] Yeah, I hurt her. But only after she tried to hurt me. Wriggle said she only picked a fight because you told her I was easy pickings. Why on earth would you do that?

Modified combination as write-in.
No. 186770
[x] Wriggle shot first.

Didn't we just talked about how bad. It is to fight without spellcards? If others were to find out...


Also, I'm still expecting Junko to make a beeline to the lunar veil screaming bloody murder. Holy coincidences Batman.
No. 186771
[X] Yeah, I hurt her. But only after she tried to hurt me. Wriggle said she only picked a fight because you told her I was easy pickings. Why on earth would you do that?
No. 186772
[X] Yeah, I hurt her. But only after she tried to hurt me. Wriggle said she only picked a fight because you told her I was easy pickings. Why on earth would you do that?
No. 186773
[X] Yeah, I hurt her. But only after she tried to hurt me. Wriggle said she only picked a fight because you told her I was easy pickings. Why on earth would you do that?
No. 186774
[X] Wriggle only picked a fight because you told her I was easy pickings. Why on earth would you do that?
No. 186802
[x] Yeah, I hurt her. But only after she tried to hurt me. Wriggle said she only picked a fight because you told her I was easy pickings. Why on earth would you do that?

Probably not the best time to bring it up, but this-
>"Dai found out, because she’s really smart! She heard a rumor from some other fairies that Star was flying down the shrine looking really scared..."
-made me wonder if we could ask for some of the fairies' help as a source for information (regarding village matters or maybe even rumors about other factions), assuming we don't alienate Cirno too much. Charlotte's already done a lot to help Sunny out, and I imagine the fairies should be beneath suspicion from most Gensokyans. Of course, most probably wouldn't be too reliable either, but at least Daiyousei seems to have a good head on her shoulders.

>>186770
...when was a lunar veil mentioned? I don't remember that.
No. 186803
File 145127328853.jpg- (780.62KB , 810x900 , tumblr_ntuotn1YU51rw29u3o1_1280.jpg ) [iqdb]
186803
>>186802
I didn't type that correctly, sorry.
I just wanted to express my constant confusion between Touhou Junko and this Junko.

She'd be going to the lunar veil to kill Chang'e because that's her thing, if that wasn't clear either.
No. 186806
>>186803

This!Junko's introduction predates LoLK's final release by over 8 months. It was an unfortunate coincidence that can't really have been helped.
No. 186809
>>186806
>>186806

Yeah, it would seem that Junko is not a particularly unique Japanese name.
No. 186855
File 145205468723.jpg- (2.46MB , 4644x3240 , d7922b6fc959088880a84064462bd159.jpg ) [iqdb]
186855
[X] Yeah, I hurt her. But only after she tried to hurt me. Wriggle said she only picked a fight because you told her I was easy pickings. Why on earth would you do that?

---

“Cirno, I wouldn’t have had to lay a finger on her if you didn’t run your mouth about how supposedly weak I am!” You shout, patience running dangerously thin. “Does Keine know you do this? Pick targets for your youkai friends?”

“Hey, she’s just a kid.” Junko says, taking a step between you and the fairies. “Hell, they’re all kids. They’ll do stupid sh... silly... stuff on occasion. You just gotta live and let live”

“I heard that!” Cirno growls as Dai stammers and gestures from behind her. “You called me stupid!”

“Well, was it a smart thing to do, telling Wriggle that it’d be a good idea to jump me after you saw what happened with Rumia?” You respond.

“I thought-” Cirno trails off before charging back in with redoubled ferocity and a different topic. “You should have figured it out! Everybody else knows! Reimu and Sakuya and Marisa all-”

“CIRNO!” Daiyousei shouts with enough force to force everyone’s attention to her. “CHARLOTTE! STOP FIGHTING!”

“But she-” You and Cirno both try to say.

“I don’t care!” Dai shouts again, hands balled up in little fists and shaking. “Both of you! Stop fighting!”

She points to Cirno. “You saw how hard she hit Rumia when she thought we were in danger. Wriggle would be much worse if she hadn’t been holding back!”

Then Dai turns to you. “And you! You don’t need to worry about dying! Why did you have to hit her at all?”

“My immortality is kind of... on hold, at the moment.” You say in response, sheepish. “It was the price for healing Sunny.”

“Ah? Oh...” Daiyousei’s indignation trails off into a prolonged and awkward silence.

“Well, everyone got away from the bone monster.” Caleb says. “And everything here is alright, so I’d say that the problem’s solved.”

The two fairies murmur in agreement. “Sorry.” Dai says, looking at her shoes.

“You don’t have anything to apologize for.” You tell her, before looking at Cirno. “You, on the other hand...”

“Hey! I didn’t do anything wrong!” Cirno says, pouting.

“Yes, you did.” You say. “Wriggle said she decided to ambush me because you were spreading rumors about me. Dai just pointed out that things could have gone much worse, so I think we’d both be happier if you went back to correct whoever you told.”

Cirno looks aside with a sheepish expression. “Okay, but that might be tricky... I may have told... kind of... a lot of people. On accident.”

Goddamnit, Cirno.

“Alright, fine, just don’t spread any more, okay?” You grimace tell her. Cirno nods.

“So, if everything’s taken care of for now, I think we really got to get back to the village. People are going to start worrying about us, and something tells that Keine wouldn’t appreciate seeing the two of you up this late.”

Both of the fairies stiffen and straighten their backs at the mention of Keine. “Oh no.” Cirno whispers, eyes widening. “We have to get back home! Come on, Dai!”

She grabs the wrist of her companion and yanks her into the sky. “Please don’t tell her!” She shouts as they fly out of sight.

---

The walk down the hill is uneventful, as is your return to the village. The guards are looking increasingly perplexed by your casual activity at hours that ordinary people wouldn’t dare step out during, but dutifully let you through regardless. Nobody on the streets gets in your way, but you do catch a number of youkai letting their gazes linger.

You find a different inn this time, with a receptionist who is almost certainly a kitsune in disguise. That alone gives you slight pause, but you can tell that he’s far more concerned with just surviving and collecting a paycheck than snooping around and causing trouble.

So once again, the three of you find yourselves in a hotel room in the late hours of the night. Checking your phone confirms what Ran said: You have new briefings from HQ and what seem to be dossiers on several of the groups in Gensokyo.

You doubt that there is enough time to finish them all tonight. Contrary to what one might expect, Templar briefings on situations like these are hardly ever brief, and their dossiers on potential adversaries are very detailed. Know thy enemy, after all.

Not that they have to be your enemies, you remind yourself, but the sentiment stands. Knowledge is power.

---

Select up to 3 groups to read about.

[ ] Eientei
[ ] Moriya Shrine
[ ] Myouren Temple
[ ] Sado Gumi
[ ] Scarlet Devil Mansion
[ ] Senkai
No. 186856
[ ] Eientei
[ ] Moriya Shrine
[ ] Scarlet Devil Mansion
No. 186857
[x] Senkai

Obviously.

[x] Eientei

Technology!

[x] Sado Gumi

Wild card!
No. 186858
[x] Scarlet Devil Mansion
[x] Myouren Temple
[x] Eientei

Remilia seems to have the most beef with us, so it seems prudent to get the full story, from our end at least, and hopefully keep her from becoming openly hostile.

Myouren is pro-youkai and the Templar... aren't (or so I gather), so they should be a good starting point for improving our diplomacy with youkai in general. Which is most of Gensoukyou.

Eientei because they seem to be the most friendly so far, and we're likely to deal with them often, given our occupation and the immortality issue.
No. 186859
[x] Moriya Shrine
[x] Sado Gumi
[x] Senkai
No. 186860
[X] Eientei
- That bit with the dream pills makes me suspect that Eirin really is Omoikane.
[X] Moriya Shrine
- Probably potential allies, could help get the mountain on our side. Of course they could be secretly plotting as well.
[X] Scarlet Devil Mansion
- Almost certain to try to manipulate up one way or another.
No. 186861
File 145206020016.jpg- (32.80KB , 346x347 , ezmodo.jpg ) [iqdb]
186861
>>186860
>suspect that Eirin really is Omoikane

What a far-fetched theory, anon.
No. 186869
[x] Eientei
[x] Sado Gumi
[x] Scarlet Devil Mansion
No. 186874
[x] Scarlet Devil Mansion
[x] Myouren Temple
[x] Eientei
No. 186878
I thought we were going to live in the de-haunted house?

[x] Scarlet Devil Mansion
[x] Moriya Shrine
[x] Sado Gumi

We don't know much about any of these. We aren't really planning on talking to them, but better to be prepared in case they come to us.
No. 186883
[x] Scarlet Devil Mansion
[x] Moriya Shrine
[x] Sado Gumi
No. 186884
SDM: 7
Eientei: 6
Moriya Shrine: 5
Sado Gumi: 5
---
Anyone want to break this tie?
No. 186885
[x] Sado Gumi
Someone ask for a tiebreaker?
No. 186886
SDM
Eientei
Sado Gumi
No. 187000
File 145319342822.jpg- (73.25KB , 779x494 , 724f81e8182aec5fcc2f18c549c4e580.jpg ) [iqdb]
187000
Faction reports to be read:

[X] SDM
[X] Eientei
[X] Sado Gumi

---

Sender: Richard Sonnac
Recipient: Charlotte “Highlander” McGallagher

It is good to see that you are becoming more familiar with this land and its many inhabitants. I suspect that you will be in Gensokyo for the long haul, so do be mindful of who you can trust.

The lack of Filth activity is also encouraging, though it is probably too early and too wishful to declare that threat eliminated. While the Bird of the Zero-Point Pathogen was dealt with minimal losses, it could only take one loss for the situation to deteriorate to something resembling Tokyo. With this in mind, it would appear that the cooperation of the various groups and individuals of power in Gensokyo will be crucial to effectively responding to such threats.

Of course, that will pose its own challenges. It is clear that the human villagers do not have much trust in their many youkai neighbors, and the sentiment appears to be mutual. While the locals have demonstrated the ability to put aside their differences when a crisis strikes, it might not be enough to stop future attacks. Better to cut the snake’s head off before it strikes.

In light of this, while building up the strength of the human villagers is a top priority, prudence dictates that you do not unduly provoke the various youkai groups in the process. The local balance by all accounts seems to be a fragile one, and our analysts predict a great amount of violence if it fails.

That brings me to our next item of concern. While we are still attempting to determine the veracity of her report, Dr. Okazaki claims that she has previously visited Gensokyo during one of her experiments with non-Agarthan interdimensional travel. While cause enough for attention on its own, she also claims to have left behind two experimental AI’s, with one housed in a nuclear-powered android chassis (RK-2) and the other in a Trident-II intercontinental ballistic missile (MM-3).

No, we don’t know why Dr. Okazaki felt the need to put a sapient AI in a missile either, but regardless, we need to determine if either of these units are indeed in Gensokyo, and if they are, prevent our technology from falling into untrustworthy hands.

According to Dr. Okazaki, the RK-2 unit was outfitted with a black box of sorts - recovering it could enable her to complete her research, and more importantly, provide interesting data on Gensokyo as a whole. Of course, ensuring that MM-3’s warhead is out of reach may be of greater importance. We believe that the local Kappa may have some idea as to their whereabouts, but it is unlikely that they will freely give away that information - especially if the AI’s are in their custody.

We have also dug up more information on our lost investigation that you should find attached to this message. Suffice to say, determining the fate of one Executor Viktor Krissoff and his task force should rate high on your to-do list. There are several members of the Old Guard keen to see that their remains are returned home, and a number of their surviving descendants have written to entreat that you provide closure.

Lastly, we have been in negotiations with Ran Yakumo to allow controlled shipments to you. While we hope to eventually find some way to transfer your personal armory to you, she has been understandably reluctant to authorize allowing so much military hardware in at once. Perhaps she is concerned about any imbalancing effect the introduction of modern weaponry may create.

However, I am pleased to announce that she has allowed us to transfer your Executor’s insignia. She has not provided a set date for when you can expect it, but rest assured that it is on the way.

Godspeed, Executor.

R. Sonnac

---

Well, that’s something.

You lean back and exhale as you process the information. You feel a headache coming with no alcohol to soften it.

How do you just... lose track of an ICBM? Or an AI - TWO AI! Those don’t come cheap! And how do you keep a job at Oxford in the aftermath?

Oh wait, this is Okazaki you’re dealing with here. It’s best not to ask too many questions. The important thing is that you have several new objectives: Search for the AIs, investigate the fates of your predecessors, and strengthen the human village without inciting war.

These objectives can take priority over your new ones. After all, you’ll probably make connections and find stuff out along the way, and making sure that a weapon of mass destruction isn’t being kicked around like a football by fairies or reverse-engineered by Kappa seems pretty responsible.

Reading the attached files on RK-2 and MM-3 gives you override codes, behavioral history, and specifications. The gist of it is that both of them were combat AI’s developed by Okazaki in the late 90’s with feminine personality programming. Neither AI had ever demonstrated any sort of instability or hostility, and while that would ordinarily be a very good thing, it meant that their careers in combat testing were abruptly curtailed.

That’s interesting. Uncooperative to some extent, but non-violent independent to choose for themselves... At this point, the challenge doesn’t lie in getting them to work with you, but actually finding them if they are actually here and not lost in some figment of your professor’s imagination.

You need a change of topic. You skim over the remaining files and settle on a list of dossiers for Scarlet Devil Mansion VIPs.
No. 187001
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187001
Name: Scarlet, Remilia
Species: Vampire (Purestrain)
Age: 513 (b. 1503)
Birthplace: Albestii, Wallachia
Proficiencies: Blood Magic, Chaos Magic
Disposition: Imperious, Vindictive, Capricious

Notes:
Loses mature persona under physical/emotional duress
Extremely protective of Flandre
Claims to be descended from Vlad Tepes (False)
Recovered documents suggest specialization in macro-scale prediction & manipulation for Chaos

Summary:

Remilia is an unusually dangerous and cunning purestrain vampire with a penchant for unconventional applications of Blood magic.

The most visible and frequently-used example of this would be her “Gungnir” technique, in which she shapes a large amount of blood into a hardened spike and uses Chaos magic to ensure hits. Modern estimates suggest that such an attack may be able to penetrate conventional tank armor, making cover ineffective against her. The only effective precautions against “Gungnir” are constant suppression and interference by friendly Blood or Chaos mages. Otherwise, standard anti-vampire tactics apply.

It should be noted that due to her young age upon being turned, Remilia’s constitution is significantly weaker than the baseline purestrain, making it easier to inflict life-threatening wounds. Our forces have exploited this vulnerability in previous engagements, but we predict that she has found some way to account for this by now. While the tactics she previously demonstrated have long since grown obsolete, we advise you to exercise extreme caution in the event of a hostile encounter.

---

Name: Scarlet, Flandre
Species: Vampire (Purestrain)
Age: 508 (b. 1508)
Birthplace: Albestii, Wallachia
Proficiencies: Blood Magic, Quantum Magic
Disposition: Erratic, Sadistic, Childish

Notes:
Quantum ability speculated to involve displacement of matter
Extremely protective of Remilia, inexplicably aware when under threat
Mental instability & destructive power + solitary confinement = positive feedback
Possibility of catastrophic psychotic break

Flandre is an extremely dangerous purestrain vampire whose debilitating mental instability and innate affinity for Quantum magic endanger the lives of everyone around her.

While her sister has demonstrated a preference for out-thinking her opponents, the younger Scarlet has only ever been observed to fight with total aggression. Her most distinguishing ability is a Quantum effect which results in the messy displacement of her target and an intense burst of radiation. In practice, the target is destroyed in a blinding flash of light. While this effect has been observed to be physically taxing for Flandre to produce, she has also demonstrated an ability to rapidly produce it at the cost of reduced precision.

There are only two tactics that have proven effective against Flandre. The first is constant evasion and harassment, and is contingent on being able to keep a safe distance from her. While Flandre does not require a line of sight to her target, previous engagements have shown that concealment is an effective defensive measure.

The second is to match her aggression and engage her at close range. This has only been attempted once, by the late Beatrix Tyburn, who noted that Flandre avoided using her Quantum effect on nearby targets, even when otherwise blinded by bloodlust. However, this would be certain death for all but the most capable close-quarters fighters.

While Flandre’s constitution should in theory be even more fragile than that of her sister, in practice she is perhaps the most durable out of their group. We speculate that this is due to a Quantum healing effect targeted on herself, but have so far been unable to verify this. If this is the case, only high-powered attacks will be likely to have an effect. Crippling her vision may also impair the effectiveness of her Quantum ability.

Extreme destruction and loss of life are predicted in the event of a hostile encounter. Avoid direct engagement if possible.

---

Knowledge, Patchouli
Species: Human* (Magus)
Age: 529 (b. 1487)
Birthplace: Lisbon, Portugal
Proficiencies: Elementalism, Conjuration, Diabolism
Disposition: Introverted, Calculating, Aloof

Patchouli is a human mage who has undergone extensive alchemical modification, limited primarily by her myriad illnesses.

To our knowledge, she suffers from asthma, anemia, and osteoporosis, though it is unclear if she has at this time been able to alleviate any of these through either her own research or the assistance of Dr. Eirin Yagokoro.

Due to her physical frailty, she has demonstrated a tendency to avoid direct combat if possible, sending expendable minions such as golems or summoned demons instead. On the few occasions that she has been forced to stand and fight, she has demonstrated a thorough grasp of classical elementalism as well as a modified version of the Taoist ‘Wu-Xing’ system. One notable skill is Patchouli’s ability to channel magic through crystals, something that we have only just begun to duplicate today.

Throughout her early magical career, she has studied with all three major Societies and the Phoenicians, gleaning all the knowledge she can before moving on. Protection from retribution for such actions may have been a motivating factor for her decision to ally with Remilia.

Patchouli’s magical strength is formidable, and it has likely only increased with time. However, it seems likely that her poor health continues to impair her combat potential. Patcholi can only win a battle of endurance if allowed to hide behind her minions.

---

Izayoi, Sakuya
Species: Human
Age: Unknown
Birthplace: Unknown
Proficiencies: Knives, Temporal Magic
Disposition: Loyal, Courteous, Fastidious

Our information on the individual known as ‘Izayoi Sakuya’ is woefully lacking. However, we have confirmed that she is the same time manipulator previously encountered alongside Remilia’s group.

We have no records of Sakuya prior to our first encounter with the Scarlets, although we suspect that Patchouli encountered her sometime prior to arriving in Albestii in 1516. Theories on her origin vary wildly - one places her as a maidservant to the Knowledge family, another as a former Vampire hunter, and yet another as a Lunarian fugitive.

However, we can rule out all three. Firstly, Sakuya’s loyalty clearly lies with Remilia, rather than Patchouli. Secondly, there have been no vampire kills that can be traced back to her. Lastly, a lone Lunarian, with no support from Luna, would have long since died of Anima exposure - with Dr. Yagokoro and Princess Houraisan as exceptions.

Therefore, we can at least conclude that Sakuya is human of probable European origin whose as-of-yet unexplained control of Temporal magic has protected her from aging and prevents us from confidently estimating her true age.

Tactically speaking, Sakuya is perhaps the single reason why Remilia and company continue to remain at large today. Historically, there was simply little that could be done against an enemy who could halt time at a whim short of involving extremely dangerous artifacts or beings.

However, we believe that certain countermeasures can be taken to deal with Sakuya. We have determined that the silver pocketwatch she carries on her person is the focus for her Temporal magic. As such, it is almost certain that separating it from her would prevent her from manipulating time with any significant precision or magnitude.

Furthermore, there appears to be a refractory period between her time-stops, during which she cannot manipulate time without the risk of catastrophic failure. Sakuya herself appears to be keenly aware of this limitation, as she has been observed to make very efficient use of each time-stop and retreat immediately after using many in quick succession.

Her Temporal magic seems to incorporate a bubble around her where time flows normally. If that is the case, persistent or pre-existing hazards (i.e. gas, concealed explosives, monowire) could affect her through her time-stop - assuming that you could somehow set them up beforehand.

However, just how aware Sakuya is of this potential vulnerability is something that we have not been able to establish, to say nothing of whether it exists in any exploitable manner.

We have some experimental tech that could tip the scales in your favor, assuming that Ran allows its delivery to you. In the meanwhile, Sakuya’s advantage may be countered by other Temporal mages, such as Keine Kamishirasawa.

---

Overall, very powerful, but nothing that you don’t have a good shot at beating, with the likely exception of Sakuya. A first strike with overwhelming force seems like the way to go for Remilia and Flandre, and such a situation seems like an appropriate occasion to acquaint them with modern explosives. If hit them hard and fast enough, you don’t need to worry about Flandre’s return fire or Remilia and Patchouli’s tricks.

Of course, that’s assuming that you get the opportunity to launch that hypothetical sneak attack. The Scarlets didn’t survive this long by being predictable and easy to fool, and as a Chaos mage with a focus on long-term, macro-scale prediction and manipulation, Remilia isn’t going to be easy to outmaneuver. And then there’s Sakuya, who could just negate all of your effort faster than you can blink...

Sakuya would probably have to be the first target if action were to be taken against the Scarlets. the resulting fight with the other VIPs would be long and bitter, but it would be winnable with enough firepower. Remilia and Patchouli seem like you’d have a decent shot at beating in a slugfest.

Just something to keep in mind.

Moving on to their biographies...

Yeesh. It was already obvious that the childhood of the Scarlet sisters had been cruelly terminated - some vampire back in the day had made a point to go after young girls.

The Scarlet family moved to Romania from England after backing the wrong side in the Wars of the Roses. They were making a good life for themselves in the village of Albestii when a notoriously depraved purestrain vampire and his band of mongrels came to visit.

The parents were killed in front of the children, who were then turned. However, Flandre somehow broke free of the enthrallment and escaped from the group after failing to free Remilia, limping towards the village.

Here, the report makes a guess that Flandre found Patchouli, at the time travelling in search of knowledge. Together, they slew the remaining vampires, rescued Remilia, and fled the village.

That theory does seem far-fetched, but unless all of the vampires just up and decided to explode, you don’t see any better explanations for the carnage left behind.

Severely traumatized, Flandre was in no condition to control her forcibly awoken Quantum magic, and Remilia was in no mood to care about what lengths were needed to maintain a semblance of order. It is unknown precisely why Patchouli stayed with the group at this time, but it isn’t difficult to imagine a deal being struck: help navigate the Secret World and protect the sisters in exchange for the opportunity to study Flandre’s magic and regular transfusions of Blood magic.

The next time the Templars take a significant interest in the Scarlets is when things start to inexplicably explode around them via Flandre. For various reasons, most of them related to Sakuya, your Order was never able to finish them off, but it was impossible to conceal Flandre’s outbursts for long. The resulting death and destruction also threatened to breach secrecy, requiring Templar intervention.

Things seemed to come to a head in 1889, when the Templars had managed to corner the Scarlets in a decrepit castle, deep in the Black Forest, with a 3rd Age relic capable of ‘anchoring’ time and space. Sure enough, Sakuya was observed to be unable to activate her Temporal magic, and the Scarlets quickly retreated into the castle. Then, without any warning, an impenetrable fog settled over the area. The Templar commander suspected some sort of last-ditch attack or ambush, and ordered his forces back.

When the fog lifted, the castle was gone, with only a hole in the ground where its foundation once was to show that it ever existed. There was an outcry from Temple Hall, and the hapless commander’s career never recovered, but the Scarlets never resurfaced after that, and attention quickly shifted to political turbulence in Europe.

Unless that artefact had backfired horrifically, Yukari must have let them in. What reason she had for allowing them in her private realm, especially Flandre, escapes you.
No. 187002
File 145319380579.jpg- (375.34KB , 993x1403 , 0ce197db9e0eb916e7abd4cfc7718cfd.jpg ) [iqdb]
187002
Yagokoro, Eirin
Species: Lunarian
Age: Unknown
Birthplace: Luna
Proficiencies: Unknown (Assume armed & dangerous at all times)
Disposition: Professional, Meticulous, Reassuring, Ruthless

Notes:
Hourai Immortal

Dr. Eirin Yagokoro is a former senior Lunarian official, now living on Earth as a fugitive. All of our projections for combat against the doctor can be summed up in one word: Don’t.

You are highly advised to avoid any sort of hostile encounter with Dr. Yagokoro, as she is believed to be familiar with extremely powerful magic and technology. While she appears to have adopted a laudably humanitarian position in Gensokyo, she is anything but an easy target.

Reports from Kyoto in 825 AD indicate that Dr. Yagokoro was sent to escort Princess Houraisan back to Luna. Yagokoro herself was escorted by an honor guard of Lunarians and Lunar Rabbits, likely with instructions to bring both Yagokoro and Houraisan back to the capital at all costs.

Eirin attacked her escort and slew the entire group before escaping with the princess, likely with the same antimatter weapon you described from the battle at the shrine. It goes without saying that we have no real countermeasures against that magnitude of weaponry.

Then there is the matter of the Hourai elixir. Killing Dr. Yagokoro, while possible, would only serve to briefly inconvenience her. Imprisoning or otherwise incapacitating her is also well beyond your capabilities.

The only thing that Dr. Yagokoro has been observed to fear is the possibility of reprisal from Luna. Of course, were such a thing to occur, Yagokoro would be the least of your worries. It is likely that the Lunarians would attempt to capture both fugitives and ‘purify’ the local population.

A saving grace is that there are very few individuals in the entire world as diplomatic and emotionally stable as Dr. Yagokoro. So long as Princess Houraisan is not facing a threat to safety or honor, it is all but certain that she will not involve herself. Both appear to be the type of immortal who prefers to outlast, rather than overpower, their problems.

Dr. Yagokoro is perhaps the world’s pre-eminent expert on immortality and immortals. It is all but guaranteed that she has precautions for fighting them. Do not provoke hostilities.

---

Houraisan, Kaguya
Species: Lunarian
Age: Unknown
Birthplace: Luna
Proficiencies: Unknown
Disposition: Kind, Aloof, Friendly

Notes:
Hourai Immortal

Princess Kaguya Houraisan is an affable, laid-back woman with an unusual fascination with the cultures of Earth for a Lunarian.

Princess Houraisan came to Earth as an exile in the year 707 AD as punishment for co-creating and consuming the Hourai Elixir. Unlike most cases of banishment from Luna, Kaguya appeared to be well looked-after, with the capital going so far as to give her host family a generous stipend.

Once it was determined that she was not here as a spy, she was largely left unaccosted by the major Societies. Of course, that did not stop the train of would-be suitors allured by tales of a certain woman’s otherworldly beauty. A highly dramatized version of Kaguya’s tenure as a human in Heian Japan can be found in ‘The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter’.

In any case, the situation changed with the arrival of Dr. Yagokoro and her escort. Following their severing of ties with Luna, they completely disappeared, with no clues as to where they had gone. Their rediscovery begs the question of what else may have been secreted away in Gensokyo.

While Princess Houraisan has never been recorded as demonstrating combat ability, it is all but certain that a Lunarian of her age has acquired enough experience to present a significant threat. Of course, a greater concern is that any attack on Princess Houraisan is certain to draw the hostility of Dr. Yagokoro.

---

Inaba, Tewi
Species: Japanese Hare (Occulted, Humanoid)
Age: Approx 5,000 (b. Approx 3,000 BCE)
Birthplace: Oki Islands
Proficiencies: Chaos Magic, Hammers
Disposition: Mischievous, Deceptive, Playful

Tewi is an archetypical trickster who nonetheless has demonstrated a certain integrity throughout history.

There are rumors that Tewi is the titular Hare of Inaba, although we have been unable to conclusively verify such claims. As the case of the Oni Inbeda and the tale of Momotaro, one must tread carefully around such stories.

Historically, Tewi has been something of a leader and a revered folk hero for lagomorphs across Japan, with stories of her exploits growing popular enough to find places in human compilations and traditions. While she has never hesitated to sow mischief in human affairs, Tewi has also never initiated hostilities with humans. Because of this, Tewi has never been a target for extermination.

Reports of involvement with the Dragon are frequent but have little confirming evidence. While Tewi’s abilities would undoubtedly make her a valuable ally for them, her independent nature and distrust of humans make any partnership unlikely. Furthermore, her mastery of Chaos magic makes the possibility of manipulation equally unlikely.

Tewi has been observed in combat only a few times throughout time, with most of them involving the punishment of humans involved in extreme encroachment or hunting. According to these reports, she employs Chaos magic to render herself all but untouchable while slipping past her enemy’s defenses with ease.

Interference from allied Chaos mages is unlikely to be effective unless the mage in question is of extremely high ability. A more effective approach would be to use unavoidable attacks, such as high-yield explosives, though practical and diplomatic considerations may rule that out.

Defeat is likely in the event of a hostile encounter, although fortunately there appears to be little reason for one to occur.

---

It looks like the only thing you’ll gain from getting in a fight with Eientei is an abrupt and painful trip to the nearest Anima well.

Two out of the three listed simply don’t die, and the remaining one is untouchable that she may as well be without monumental effort. Reisen seems more manageable, but you’d have to work around her lunatic eye effect in addition to whatever training she received on the moon.

Their biography isn’t very long. All three of them have historically kept to themselves, although Tewi has had to defend her turf and the Lunarians have had to deal with the occasional immortality-seeker that just wouldn’t give up. While it took a bit longer to realize that Eirin and Kaguya were missing, rumors of Tewi’s disappearance had begun to circulate as early as 1890, roughly matching the Scarlet’s unexplained vanishing.

Lastly, there is a note speculating that the Illuminati, as sponsors of the Apollo landings, might have intelligence on Reisen.
No. 187003
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187003
Futatsuiwa, Mamizou
Species: Bake-Danuki
Age: Approx 1,300 (b. Approx 700 AD)
Birthplace: Sado Island
Proficiencies: Chaos Magic, Fist Weapons, Transfiguration
Disposition: Mischievous, Cunning, Extroverted

Mamizou has a long history with Sado Island, and is one of the most influential Tanuki to have ever lived.

Although many Yakuza claim that they are guided by chivalry, all evidence suggests that Mamizou’s organization does have clean hands, comparatively speaking. Historically, she has never committed any harm to humans greater than playful mischief, and in contemporary times she has refused to smuggle drugs or arms. Most of her crime was white-collar, working for and against various corporate interests. She has also had a strong presence in the Occult population of Japan - her glamours are in high demand for Occult creatures wishing to fit in human society. Altogether, she has successfully cultivated a ‘Robin Hood’ image of herself throughout her career.

That isn’t to say that she’s spotless. Mamizou has a notorious history of racism against Kitsune, having previously banned them from Sado Island and fought them across several turf wars between 853 and 1222. While she has softened her stance greatly with the passage of time, it is likely that she still holds strong anti-kitsune views.

Reports from such battles indicate mastery of a unique style of Chaos magic that incorporates fist-style weapons and transfiguration magic. While all evidence suggests that Mamizou should be beatable in a straight fight, she is experienced and cunning enough that such a scenario is unlikely.

As well-known individual with many connections in the Secret World, Mamizou would not have been able to ‘disappear’ easily. Publicly, it was announced that she had passed away of advanced age, but this was inconsistent with what we expected. A follow-up probe confirmed these suspicions, but was unable to suggest any alternatives. A popular theory was that Mamizou had merely vacated her position in a suitably deceptive manner, and wished to live out the remainder of her life in peace.

Her involvement in this ‘Sado Gumi’ in Gensokyo suggests that retirement was not her goal, posing the question of why she vacated her comfortable life in Sado for the isolated and enclosed environment of Gensokyo.

While not strongly anti-human in Japan proper, it is possible that Mamizou will exhibit more disruptive behavior in the absence of usual human power structures. We predict that she will be a difficult, but worthwhile ally to win over in the absence of an anti-human agenda. If not, limiting her influence in the human village must become a priority.

Expect no end of subterfuge in the event of a hostile encounter. While your link with fellow Chosen provides an advantage that she cannot affect, it is uncertain if other humans will be liabilities in such a battle or not.

---

Name: Houjuu, Nue
Species: Nue
Age: Approx. 900 (b. Approx. 1100)
Birthplace: Kansai region, Japan
Proficiencies: Polearms, Chaos Magic
Disposition: Capricious, Predatory,

Born during the late Heian period somewhere in the modern-day Kansai region of Japan, Nue terrorized the countryside before being trapped by the Jingu Clan.

Interestingly, cross-referencing our records with the Jingu Clan confirms that it was none other than Hijiri Byakuren who provided the intel that allowed Nue to be hunted down and banished to the Hell Dimensions as part of her scheme to acquire immortality. Nue is evidently unaware of this fact if she has been integrating into the Myouren Temple for so long.

While it may be tempting to expose this duplicity, the consequences of allowing a dangerous youkai with a history of violence and cruelty to learn that her respected superior was responsible for such humiliation are likely to be extreme. It may be more desireable to use the information as a deterrent rather than simply reveal it, assuming that Nue believes you.

Nue’s friendship with Mamizou suggests that the latter was trying to temper the former, though with little success. However, Akyuu’s writing suggests that the two have resumed their friendship once more, with Nue perhaps more closely aligned with the Tanuki than the Buddhists despite nominally living at the temple.

In terms of combat, Nue is a savage, but single-minded foe - qualities which Jingu hunters have exploited in the past. She is skilled at using her trident, and employs Chaos magic in tandem with a Nue’s Whether she has learned from previous defeats has yet to be seen, but it is recommended that you counteract Nue’s illusions by finding ways to mark who is who. Simply setting a combat drone to pursue her may be enough, since it is highly unlikely that she has been able to familiarize herself with modern technology.

---

Mamizou’s pretty interesting, but it’s Nue’s entry that catches your attention. Byakuren straight up sold her out and has the nerve today to play the part of the enlightened, all-forgiving nun to Nue?

You feel hairs rise along the back of your neck and something hot churn in your chest before you stamp the instinct down. After all, it’s been nearly a millennia.

Well, from your perspective. Time seems to have flown in their favor down in Makai. But still, people must change...

But can they ever wipe away a stain like that?

You bite the inside of your mouth before that train of thought can get out of control. Whatever your reservations are, tomorrow will be a better time to address them.

Speaking of which, you really ought to get some sleep so you don’t zone out in front of Yuuka tomorrow morning.

That brings you back to the issue of Eirin’s dream pills - the moderate dose still led to a pretty weird dream, and though it left a bad taste in your mouth, it wasn’t the worst one you’ve had by a long shot.

Come to think of it, do you really need to take any? If you do have any dreams, it might be better to go into them without being addled by pills.

---

Dosage?
[0]: Unadulterated dreaming.
[1]: Weaker effect, less insulation from unpleasant dreams
[2]: Resulted in strange, though not hostile dream.
[3]: Stronger effect, more insulation from unpleasant dreams.
No. 187005
in tandem with a Nue’s what?

[1]: Weaker effect, less insulation from unpleasant dreams

Perhaps we can learn something from the dream this way.
No. 187006
[1]: Weaker effect, less insulation from unpleasant dreams
No. 187007
[1]: Weaker effect, less insulation from unpleasant dreams
No. 187008
>>187005
I meant to say "A Nue's natural shape-shifting ability". My mistake.
No. 187009
[2]: Resulted in strange, though not hostile dream.
No. 187010
[0]: Unadulterated dreaming.

Live free or die hard.
No. 187013
[1]: Weaker effect, less insulation from unpleasant dreams

Welcome back!
No. 187024
Closing votes at midnight EST on Friday.
No. 187054
File 145367662468.jpg- (29.96KB , 655x360 , Platform at the End of the Universe.jpg ) [iqdb]
187054
[1]: Weaker effect, less insulation from unpleasant dreams.

---

You dry-swallow the solitary pill without a hitch and lay your head down. Before long, the waking world drifts away like an unmoored ship from its pier.

---

There’s a tickling sensation at the corner of your eye. Air wafts gently against your face, accompanied by a tickling sensation like tiny bristles. Then, a tickling at the corner of your eye that seems to sharpen into a point.

Your eyes snap open as you swat at the purple thing on your face. It dodges the blow and flutters away as though it had meant to do so regardless.

It’s at this point that you realize that the creature is in fact an unusually large butterfly, with deep violet wings dotted by red and white eyespots. Something about the wings don’t feel... ‘right’, somehow - looking at them too long makes your eyes water.

With a start, you tear your gaze away take stock of your surroundings.

You had been ‘sleeping’ on a bench in a subway station, probably one part of the Tokyo Metro system. That’s the extent of what can be considered ‘normal’.

There’s blood and Filth everywhere pooling on the ground, and creeping up walls. Where the platform ends, there are no tracks, just a bleak expanse of decaying stars that casts the entire station in a diseased orange glow.

You recognize this place. You saw it in your dreams, piggybacking through Sarah’s memories. This is the ground zero for the Tokyo bombing, the place where a Morninglight cultist blasted a window from reality to the Dreamers and their liquid plague.

This was the beginning of the end.

A wet, slithering noise grabs your attention. The Filth is reacting to your presence, with a mass of slick veins snaking across the ruined tiles of the platform.

You leap to your feet, cursing, and get on top of the bench for the scant height advantage it offers. Lightning arcs between your fingers as you scan for any escape or cover. Dream or no, it’s never a good idea to come in contact with the Filth, and it would really suck if what’s-her-face came back and slit your throat.

Meanwhile, the butterfly meanders to the center of the platform, oblivious to both your plight and the lone tendril of Filth that snakes out as if to ensare it.

Its wings flap once with a power that pushes you against the wall and raises every hair on your body. The hapless tendril stops an inch away from its prize, writhing in obvious agony before shrivelling into nothing.

Letting the magic gutter out in your hands, you look around to find the rest of the Filth following suit. Within moments, it’s just you and the butterfly against the backdrop of dying suns. It makes its way over at the same relaxed pace, alighting next to you on an armrest and preening itself.

You never imagined that an insect could be smug, but this butterfly is somehow pulling it off quite well.

“I don’t suppose you’re a talking butterfly?” You venture, turning to face it.

Its only response is a short flutter of wings that can only be described as dismissive.

“Guess not. That’d be a little too much, wouldn’t it?” You lean back. “You know, I almost miss the part of my life when my dreams were normal weird, not weird-weird. Stuff like forgetting homework for a class you finished years ago or food eating people is leagues better than this shit.”

You shake your head and gesture at the scene in front of you. “I didn’t think it’d be this bad, though. No pills must be a bad idea. Thanks for helping when you did, though.”

“In any case, I think I should try to wake up.” You say as you stand up and turn to face it. “So unless you’ve got some kind of cryptic message or portent...”

The keening howl of train brakes cut you off as something large breaks up the orange glow. At the same time, a golden light washes over you from the opposite side.

Of course things couldn’t be simple.

You turn around to find a train in front of the platform, floating in the void. It looks as normal as they come - perhaps a bit too normal; there aren’t any markings on it whatsoever but for a purple horizontal purple stripe along the car. Things aren’t this generic unless they try.

And as for the golden light, the bench you started on has been shoved aside by a tunnel-like growth of amber roots and spring-green leaves coming out of the tiled wall, unabashedly out of place in the manmade station. Within the hollow of the tunnel is a shining surface, like a reflecting pool rotated ninety degrees, displaying what looks like the Human village at dawn.

At the same time, the butterfly flits towards the train as the doors open with a pneumatic hiss. The insect turns around at the threshold, flying in lazy circles at the door. Clearly, it expects you to follow.

---

[ ] Follow the butterfly. Get on the train.
[ ] Leave through the Agartha portal.
[ ] Just throw yourself into the void.
No. 187055
[X] Follow the butterfly. Get on the train.

While I'm curious what the third option would do, it seems like an obvious bad choice.
No. 187056
[X] Follow the butterfly. Get on the train.

Curious about that third option.
No. 187057
[X] Follow the butterfly. Get on the train.
No. 187058
[x] Follow the butterfly. Get on the train.
No. 187061
[x] Follow the butterfly. Get on the train.

Sure, why not. A lot of things besides filth can interfere with dreams in Gensokyo.
No. 187064
> Follow the butterfly. Get on the train.
Sup Yakumo. Decided you wanted to try a different way to speak with us this time?
> Leave through the Agartha portal.
Either the 'wake up' option, or the 'talk to Yuka' option.
> Just throw yourself into the void.
Hello Darkness my old friend~
I've come to talk with yoooou again~

No. 187066
[X] Leave through the Agartha portal.
What can one Yuukafag do in the face of such feckless Yukarifaggotry?
No. 187067
[x] Follow the butterfly. Get on the train. 

I'm not sure whether Char forgetting Koishi's name was deliberate, but it amused me anyway.

>>187066
We've got an appointment with Yuuka in meatspace soon, IIRC. Don't give up hope.
No. 187070
>>187067
Even odds we get ambushed or something before then.
No. 187078
File 145388303981.jpg- (1.74MB , 3072x2304 , R160_Interior.jpg ) [iqdb]
187078
[X] Follow the butterfly. Get on the train.

---

The light of Agartha is shining behind you, almost calling out to you with its warmth. Still, you turn away and walk to the butterfly and the open door. You need to see where this leads.

The doors slide shut almost as soon as your feet cross the threshold, and the butterfly sets down on the seat across from you with a very self-satisfied air. With a minute lurch, the train starts moving, and you look out the window to see... nothing.

The station and the dying stars are gone, replaced with impenetrable darkness in every direction.

Like its exterior, the train’s interior is that of a perfectly generic subway car, with the requisite plastic seats and handholds. There are posters on the walls, but they’re nothing more than smears of color. A sweep of the car reveals nothing else of interest but yourself, the butterfly, and two doors at each end of the car, one of which appears to be an emergency exit. Furthermore, though the train is rocking as if in motion, there’s no sound. Between the silence and the blackness, it’s as if you’re suspended in the void.

“So...” You begin, unsure exactly how to hold a conversation with a butterfly. “Where’s this train headed?”

Naturally, there’s no response but for a haughty flick of antennae.

Maybe you’re trying too hard to read imaginary insect body language.

While you’re still trying to figure out how to proceed, the butterfly takes to the air again, on a course for nowhere in particular-

You blink. It just flew past a handrail and came out the other side grasping a key.

You anticipate its approach and hold your hand out, where it swoops low to drop its payload. The key is heavier than it looks, much too heavy for the insect’s delicate legs.

Well, the laws of physics have elected to go on break. It’s a dream, after all.

You turn the key over in your hand, finding nothing unusual but an inscription that reads ‘INTERCOM’.

There’s a clear intent in both the gift and the butterfly’s compound eyes, the insect airing its wings while clinging to a handhold. You get up and walk to the front of the car, where you find the PA system and the conductor’s keyhole.

The key fits with a sharp click that echoes through the empty car. Static issues from the pinholes of the speaker like water from an open tap.

“Hello?” You ask. There’s no response but white noise.

Then, the flow becomes a flood.

The static keens like a wave of screams, a cyclone through a billion leaves, a swarming hive of endless bees

You register yourself slumping to the floor like a distant observer. There’s no pain, just overwhelming exhaustion.

A flutter of purple is the last thing you see as the butterfly settles on your cheekbone. As your eyes close, you swear you feel something poking at the corner of your eye, as if searching for the tear duct.
No. 187079
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187079
[spoiler]A little learning is a dang'rous thing; Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring[/spoiler

Hey-Hi-Hello-Is this thing on?

Welcome.

It’s disorienting, I know. I know what it’s like to slip free of burdensome definitions, like real and imagined. It hurts to become. It can be frightening - no sense of up and down, no mother’s hand to anchor you home.

But everyone needs to grow, and you run out of space far too quickly in a closed system.

That’s why this place exists, in a liberal interpretation of both words. To facilitate mutual understanding. Here, we can meet halfway.

Don’t let the outside in. The cross, the pyramid, the serpent, the hive - feel free to check them at the door.

Let’s call this our little secret. Between you and me.
No. 187080
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187080
“-got all over the covers, jeez. You sure you didn’t take anything?”

You open your eyes to Junko standing across Caleb, who is occupied with siphoning blood from his front and the bedsheets into a eyeball-sized mass floating above his palm.

“Uh...” You begin, eyebrows raised. “What did I miss.”

“I tried sleeping.” He says, glancing your way as he finishes up. “I needed to confirm your sighting of Yukari in your dreams.”

“Did you see her?” You ask.

He winces. “Briefly. There was... an apartment. My apartment, from before my Bee. When I answered the door, she walked in instead of an Illuminati recruiter. Things were civil enough, but then...”

Caleb shakes his head. “There was an earthquake or a bomb or something. I got flung to the floor with no warning. My head - it felt like it was going to explode.” He holds up the collected blood and lets it soak into his hand. Within seconds, there’s no sign of the spill.

“The last thing I remember seeing is Yukari’s shoes walking towards me, and then I was being shaken awake by Junko, all the while bleeding from my nose and eyes.”

“That does not sound good. At all.”

“No shit. I don’t think I’ll be paying her a return visit anytime soon.” He says, getting off his bed. “Whatever, I’m fine now. Maybe I’ll visit Reisen to see about those pills. I’m thinking you might want a refund.”

“It’ll have to wait.” Junko says. “We have an all-clear from Ran, and Yuuka’s expecting us at noon. That gives us a bit of time, but I get the feeling that this isn’t a meeting we want to be late for. Especially if there’s going to be youkai itching to prove themselves on the newcomers.”

Now that you’re paying attention, you can hear the din of village life starting up. The light and clamor comforts you as reminders that you’re back in reality.

The dream is still fresh in your mind, however. Perhaps due to the smaller dosage, your memory of it has much more clarity. There was the station, the Filth, the train, and then the static. You’re not missing anything, are you?

Well, you can’t spend all day trying to piece a dream back together. Not much later, the three of you are back on the streets of the Human village.

And standing smack-dab in your way is a blue-haired girl with a wide-brimmed black hat and an archaic sword. The blade looks vaguely... ancient Chinese in style, you’re not too sure. You can tell that it’s something of great value - there’s a magic signature on it that marks it as anything but an ornament.

“Tenshi... Hinanawi?” Caleb pings. “I didn’t think the guards would let her in. Akyuu made it seem like a lot of people are still angry over the disasters she caused.”

Tenshi has the sword planted tip-first into the pavement, leaning on the handle with a proud. anticipatory grin as the blade digs deeper into the stone. Perhaps she doesn’t know the weapon’s worth, or perhaps she does - what is certain is that she’s a kid with a lot to prove and not much respect. You’ve seen plenty of them.

The crowd is giving her a wide berth and suspicious looks, and in the distance you spot a pair of red antennae-like ribbon bobbing through the crowd. Several guards have also arrived, though they appear to be standing around the periphery of the scene.

Junko’s eyes flick over her for a moment before she adjusts her path. “She’s looking for a confrontation of some sort.” She pings as you and Caleb follow suit. “Whatever it is, it shouldn’t start in the middle of the village. Meet you guys by the South gate?”

You and Caleb both ping assent, and the three of you split off into the crowd. After a brief delay, you hear an confused squawk that quickly shifts towards indignation.

“Hey! Where do you think you’re going?” Tenshi shouts, barrelling towards Junko’s retreating figure.

Without looking behind, the Dragon breaks line of sight with the girl, then ducks behind a stall whose owner looks like she wants as little to do with this mess as the rest of you. Tenshi continues racing ahead with the crowd parting in front of her, and Junko slips off.

“Eldest Daughter!” You hear a voice call as you walk away. “Eldest Daughter! Tenshi!”

---

Sadly, Tenshi turns out to not be totally gullible. Realizing that chasing a Chaos mage through a crowd was a fool’s errand, she’s stationed herself outside the nearest gate, floating above the ground and tapping the flat of the blade impatiently against her hand.

“Do we just go through the opposite gate?” Caleb asks, leaning against the wall.

“No. She can probably just fly and chase us down once we leave, anyways.” Junko says, pulling out a cigarette. She lights it and breathes deep, exhaling it skywards before continuing. “Besides, I’m the one she’s interested in, and while she’s persistent and in possession of a sword that should probably be in a secure vault, she’s not worth the walk.”

“I’m impressed that you believe so, Miss Mori.” An unfamiliar voice says.

The three of you look over to see a ponytailed woman with a katana at her hip and guards at her side.

“Good morning to you, Lieutenant.” Junko greets her.

Meira, then. A quick round of requisite greetings confirms this.

“I wish I could say the same for you, but it appears that there’s a problem in the way.” Meira replies. “And this time, we haven’t got Reimu to resolve it.”

“What about Keine?” Caleb says. “Surely she has some clout?”

“Keine and Kotohime are both occupied at the moment.” Meira answers. “There were reports of suspicious activity in the vicinity of the village late last night that requires their attention.”

A follow-up to the Shrine debacle? In any case, it seems that your best bet for finding Waka is flying over the lake until she shows up. You can’t say you’d hate the chance to practice more around scenery like that.

An interruption appears in the form of an out-of-breath, short-haired woman with a frilly shawl floating behind her. She stops some distance in front of Meira, hands on her knees.

“Tenshi. Don’t know where she went. Wants to fight some human in green. Please, do you know where...” She trails off she looks up at who’s present.

“Lady Nagae.” Meira bows. “She is currently hovering outside of this gate, waiting to launch an unprovoked attack on one of our own after trying and failing to confront her in a crowded commercial area.” She says, pointing towards the girl. Iku makes a noise as if to protest, but Meira cuts her off by holding up a hand and continues.

“We both know what the young Hinanawi is capable of, and how little sense she’s shown in using that power. I understand that your charge can be a profoundly difficult one at times, but to jeopardize the safety of-”

“Do you think Tenshi’ll leave if I give her the fight she wants?” Junko says, stepping in.

Iku, still in visible need of coffee or booze (or both) turns to look at your friend with trepidation.

“I... I think so, Miss...”

“Mori.” Junko says. “I take it you’ve heard that we’re from the Outside?”

“Yes.” Iku nods. “I had intended to meet with you three myself, under more favorable conditions. The Tengu have already been printing as much as they can.”

“Are they? What are they saying about us?” You ask.

“The general consensus among the Mountain is that the three of you are...” She stops herself, looking sheepish. “Well, the consensus is not... flattering, but I’m certain that it’s just Tengu gossip.”

Aya better not be slandering you already. Do the Tengu even publish in the Human village?

“So back to Tenshi.” Junko says. “Does she want to use Spellcards? Because I’ve got bad news for her if that’s the case.”

Iku shakes her head. “No. She wants to match blades with a warrior from the Outside, in full combat. You’re only Outsider humans with magic that’ve appeared since the Moriya priestess, and Sanae is not a brawler by any means.”

“Sounds interesting.” Junko says. “I think I can take her up on that. Meira, do you mind if I borrow the use of a fallow field or something?”

After a few minutes of rapid discussion, it looks like Junko has the green light to go spar with Tenshi, so long as she stays clear of private property. As a... ‘Celestial’, Tenshi is highly resistant to damage, Iku explains. Something to do with eating a heavenly peach from Bhava-Agra which confers immortality and a slew of other benefits. Sounds like something to check out in the event that you do get access to that particular pocket dimension.

“You know, I’m actually looking forward to this.” Junko pings, holding a fresh cigarette between her fingers. “It’s a good opportunity to work off some steam.”

---

[ ] Watch Junko’s fight with Tenshi. There are valuable observations to be made in how one of your own match up against the locals.
[ ] Leave, and see if you can’t fulfil Waka’s request. This transaction needs to be completed ASAP.
[ ] Leave, and head to the Garden of the Sun. The less risk of ambush, the better.
No. 187081
[ ] Leave, and see if you can’t fulfil Waka’s request. This transaction needs to be completed ASAP.

Useful, but not essential if you're staying with the others.

[ ] Leave, and head to the Garden of the Sun. The less risk of ambush, the better.

True, but on the whole I'd rather go with

[X] Watch Junko’s fight with Tenshi. There are valuable observations to be made in how one of your own match up against the locals.
No. 187083
[X] Leave, and head to the Garden of the Sun. The less risk of ambush, the better.
I told you dawg, I told you about butterflies.
No. 187084
File 145390694677.jpg- (78.35KB , 641x481 , Wormy_Butterfly_Close_Right.jpg ) [iqdb]
187084
>>187083
Look at this face, anon. Does this look like a face that would lead you astray?
No. 187085
[X] Watch Junko’s fight with Tenshi. There are valuable observations to be made in how one of your own match up against the locals.
I'm really interested in seeing how this plays out.
No. 187091
[x] Leave, and see if you can’t fulfil Waka’s request. This transaction needs to be completed ASAP.
No. 187100
[x] Leave, and see if you can’t fulfil Waka’s request. This transaction needs to be completed ASAP.
No. 187104
[x] Garden of the sun

Was that tear duct part an elaborate way of saying he wanted to cry? Can't they not do that? I'm not familiar with the lore
No. 187105
>>187104
Bee-blessed humans can cry normally, it's just that those employed as agents of the Big Three have undergone intense paramilitary/occult training. Furthermore, more experienced Chosen (such as these three) have seen the very worst the Secret world has to offer, up to and including the death of reality. So you could totally make a Chosen cry, it's just that these three would need a big push.
No. 187108
>>187084
It's funny how the spoiler image is Yuyuko.
No. 187110
So the butterfly was Yukari. Very well then.

At least it doesn't seem like she's trying to turn our minds inside out on purpose. I think.
No. 187111
It seems we've reached the bump limit. I'll post the next update in a new thread.

Speaking of which, we're currently in a three-way tie. I'll be calling votes at midnight EST on Friday.
No. 187113
>>187110
psh
hey
dude
bro
intercoms go both ways
No. 187131
[X] Leave, and see if you can’t fulfil Waka’s request. This transaction needs to be completed ASAP.

I feel like the chosen can kinda re-sync up later to catch up on the details of the fight, at the moment though getting rearmed is kinda important. Only a matter of time before Char is challenged directly and we can't expect others to fight on our behalf all the time.

Curious to see how regaining weapons might also impact how one crafts spellcards, if at all.
No. 187249
>>187220


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