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File 14544778981.png - (74.12KB, 271x220, Templar Executor.png) [iqdb]
187220 No. 187220
Previous Thread: >>184316

---

[X] Leave, head to Misty Lake to get back guns & practice flight, then head to the Garden of the Sun.

---

You step off into the air as soon as you exit the gate. Turning around, you see Junko walking towards the floating Celestial. Words seem to be exchanged, either banter or terms of engagement, then they move some distance away from the village in an empty field. Tenshi lands on the ground and Junko spits out her cigarette and draws her own sword.

Junko raises her hand, palm upturned, and a disproportionate amount of gray smoke starts billowing from the discarded cigarette, obscuring her from view in seconds. Tenshi takes a step back in alarm, brandishing her sword as rocks rise into the air around her.

You turn away. You’ve already seen what comes next, and while it’d be pretty funny to watch Tenshi blunder through her first illusions, you have more important matters to deal with.

---

There’s a stone-lined canal, flanked by willows and benches, that flows past the side of the village and appears to lead to the lake. You couldn’t have asked for a better route to practice on.

While going too high still seems to be a problem for you, going faster doesn’t. The water and the willows ripple in your wake as you fly low to test the limits of your speed. It’s a shame your drone can’t keep up, or you would be recording this.

Of course, that’s when an idiot in red decides to jump out at you from the tree cover.

You swerve away with a curse, somehow keeping yourself from colliding with either her or the canal banks before shooting the interloper a scathing glare. At least nobody seems to be hurt.

“You’re fast, human, but you’re not fast enough to escape me!”

Any and all concern for the ambusher evaporates like water on a skillet.

The girl who jumped you gets up, floating a bit higher than you. She has short red hair and a matching cape, which she is currently draping over herself in an attempt to look intimidating.

It isn’t working. A little flapping about doesn’t rate anything but derision after time spent around Templar brass - yes, it’s somewhat embarrassing that they’re still wearing capes in the twenty-first century, but at least they make it look good.

“Excuse me, but what’s your name?” You ask, taking out Akyuu’s book.

“Seikibanki.” She tells you, clearly annoyed at your lack of reaction. “Surely you’ve heard of the fearsome dullahan haunting the canal of willows?”

You frown as you leaf through the pages. “Dullahan? You’re awfully chatty for a Dullahan. Awfully horseless, too.”

Seikibanki glowers at you. “I don’t like your attitude, human. Perhaps if you beg for mercy, I’ll allow you to continue on your way.”

You scarcely register the threat. Let’s see... according to Akyuu, Seikibanki is actually a rokurokubi, some sort of japanese youkai. She’s not very strong, either. Wriggle is probably more of a threat.

“Let me guess. You heard from Cirno that I was an easy target.”

“Ha! Me, associate with the likes of fairies?” Seikibanki scoffs. “Someone will have to punish your insolence, huma-”

“I have a name, you know.” You interrupt her. “Look, I would appreciate it if you would just let me be.”

“After your... uh... insubordination? I think not!”

You resist the urge to clasp a hand over your face. You really don’t want to waste time on this clown. Why can’t they all be as reasonable as Waka?

---

[ ] Attempt to outrun her.
[ ] Attempt to find help.
[ ] Try to scare her off.
[ ] Stun gas her and leave.
[ ] Challenge her to a running spellcard duel.
[ ] Clarify* to the local youkai that it is unwise to accost you.

*Yank her head off her shoulders and play keep-away with it until she admits defeat, thereby proving
Expand all images
>> No. 187222
[X] Attempt to find help.
while
[X] Challenge her to a running spellcard duel.

Since she apparently wants to fight, agree to the duel to prevent her from doing anything that could be permanent. Deliberately run the duel towards your destination, as it's reasonable to suppose that the mermaid would be helpful when you get there.
>> No. 187226
>> 187222

Seconded.

Seems solid, also lets us field test Char's attempts at spellcards. Though losing here would be pretty bad (Chosen can fight vs Tenshi equally(?) without spellcard dueling, but if the Chosen suck at spellcard duels and just lose repeatedly then that's an entirely different problem).
>> No. 187229
[x] Clarify* to the local youkai that it is unwise to accost you.
>> No. 187230
[X] Challenge her to a running spellcard duel.
>> No. 187232
[x] Clarify* to the local youkai that it is unwise to accost you.

Sounds hilarious.
>> No. 187234
[x] Clarify* to the local youkai that it is unwise to accost you.

Let's head off this situation before it becomes a problem.
>> No. 187243
It might be worth noting that if we engage in attacks outside the spellcard system, even against weak individuals, it might come back to bite us later.
>> No. 187246
>>187234
You and your dirty puns.
>> No. 187248
[x] Clarify* to the local youkai that it is unwise to accost you.
BULLY THE BANKI

also you should put a link in the old thread you mong
>> No. 187250
4 in favor of gently chastising the rokurokubi
3 in favor of spellcarding down to the lake

Calling vote at midnight EST on Friday, ~27 hours from now.
>> No. 187251
[ ] Clarify* to the local youkai that it is unwise to accost you.

HUTTAH NECK SNAP
>> No. 187260
[*] Challenge her to a running spellcard duel.

Its a really hard choice, the Clarify choice does sound hilarious but... probably won't win us any points with the locals that we might want for later, perhaps if we as a part of the clarification* agree to a spellcard duel after we finish our business?
>> No. 187336
File 145523127430.gif - (403.57KB, 1018x715, Run Banki Run.gif) [iqdb]
187336
A number of considerations run through your mind. On one hand, openly defying the local code of conduct isn’t going to make people trust you, and the local youkai won’t like hearing that you did so against one of their own, but on the other... isn’t that the point?

Yes, breaking the rules is bad, but so is being attacked every time you leave the village without an escort. You have things to do, and if a little fear is the price of being able to do it without fending off glory-seeking youkai on a daily basis, so be it.

Besides, this particular youkai is in need of a lesson in respect.

“Hey, human, are you even listening?” Seikibanki is still going at it, arms folded and leaning back, as if against an unseen wall. “Tch. Seems like you need to be taught a lesson in mann-”

She’s too caught up in her little monologue to react. You push your flight as fast as it can go on a course straight at her.

Eyes widening in surprise, she tries to duck. It only brings her head into better grabbing range. You wrap your arms around your prize, careful to both present nothing for her to bite and to avoid gouging anything out. After a split second of resistance, a pop reminiscent of an uncorked bottle sounds, and you live up to your callsign as your momentum leaves Seikibanki’s headless body is left flailing in the air, trailing faint smoke from its neck.

That smoke thickens and roils. Within moments, it’s coalesced into a number of lesser heads leashed to the stump by wispy trails, almost identical to the original. There’s something off just enough about each one that you’re able to pick out - eyes a different shade of red, thinner nose, widow’s peak - but their expressions of retributive anger are identical, and they’re all flying towards you.

You quickly put a stop to that by vigorously shaking Seiki’s primary head up and down while backpedalling to put a willow between you and your pursuers.

It’s not long before the angered expressions of the attacking heads shift to confusion and nausea, with the body itself staggering around as though drunk. Soon, the last head has dissolved into vapor and floated back to the body, which is curled rather pitiably on one stone-lined bank of the canal. It seems to have tangled itself in the cape while fumbling. Seiki’s primary head is dry heaving in your arms, eyes unfocused.

She’s not going to be an issue in the immediate future, so after resisting the urge to slam dunk her head, you take the time to deposit it on a nearby bench before retrieving her body and laying it beside her. A quick check confirms that she’s fine.

You sit on the remaining length of the bench as you wait for her to recover. Your drone is hovering above your shoulder as added insurance, but to be honest, you’ve already proven that you don’t need it against her.

After a minute or so, Seikibanki gropes for her own head and sticks it back on her neck. You study her baleful glare as she lurches upright.

Defiant. She’s not foolish enough to try attacking you now, but she’s nowhere near as cowed as Wriggle was.

“Stuck around to laugh at me, huh?” She says between clenched teeth, hackles raised. At least she’s dropped the ‘PUNY HUMANS!’ routine.

“No, actually.” You say, turning to face her. “Just to ask that you not ambush me in the future.”

Her face turns redder. “Ambush? I was challenging you to a proper duel. You’re the one who assaulted me, and you’re saying that I’m the one in the wrong?”

“So what am I supposed to do, play dodgeball with bored youkai whenever I step foot outside the village?” You retort. Hopefully, Seikibanki doesn’t know about Reimu yet. “Fuck, my friend just got singled out for a fight, and she didn’t even leave the village. Don’t you have something better to do?”

“That’s none of your business.” She retorts, eyes narrowing. “And it’s not my problem what anyone else does, youkai or not.”

It is if someone repeats the Wriggle situation - but you don’t think bringing that up at the moment will do you favors.

“You don’t have to like me, Seikibanki.” You tell her. “But if you’re smart, you won’t try to harass me. Look, if you want a spellcard duel, just ask like a reasonable, civilized person. If nothing else, I would hope that you now understand that I’m not the best target”

“Come off it.” She growls, undisguised vitriol in every word. “You’re just like the rest of the villagers. You act like you’re so much better, but in the end you’ll break your own rules whenever it’s convenient.”

Your hand curls into a fist as the thump of your heart drowns all other sound. Who does she think she is?

You bite the inside of your cheek, using the pain to ground yourself. “I’m sorry you think so, Seikibanki. Goodbye.”

With that, you stand up and leave her behind as you take flight.

The entire exchange has left a bad taste in your mouth - the boil of anger tinged with the chilled slickness of guilt in your stomach.

Also, Seikibanki appears to be following you.

You wheel around, lightning dancing in your hands. If she still wants a fight, then it seems politeness has proven insufficient.

“Why are you following me?” You shout.

She reels back, putting her hands up in a protective gesture. “Gah! Stop! I’m not following you, I’m just going to the lake!”

“Oh.” You dismiss the magic without lowering your guard .“What a coincidence.”

The two of you continue flying, with Seiki a bit behind you. Maybe she’s still a bit disoriented.

The ordered canal and its rows of willows ends at a small dam, where water spills over with a soothing drizzle. At the terminus, it gives way to a stream that winds for some distance through the grass and shrubs before disappearing into fog.

Wait, that isn’t fog, it’s mist. Mist tends to rise around the lake around noon; that’s why it’s called Misty Lake. Finding Waka in these conditions might be a little troublesome.

“What are you even coming here for?” Seikibanki breaks the silence. “Not a lot to do unless you have business with the vampire.”

“I’m actually looking for a particular mermaid. Her name’s Wakasagihime, and she asked me to fix something for her.” You say.

Seikibanki starts when you give her the mermaid’s name.

“You’re familiar with her?” You ask in response.

“Yeah. We’re friends.” She says, looking at you with suspicion.

Uh oh. This could get awkward.

“I’m guessing she asked you to work on that wheelchair of hers.” She says.

“Yeah. I fixed up the chassis and the motor casing. I also took the liberty of disabling the ‘turbo’ mode. Hopefully, there’ll be fewer crashes that way.”

Seiki’s face tells you that she’s still smarting from her defeat, but it seems that she doesn’t distrust you enough that she won’t let you meet with her friend.

“I’ll help you find Waka if she has business with you.” She tells you, still glaring. “But you better not even think of raising a hand against her.”

“Of course.” You nod.

Seiki leads you along the edge of the mist, flying over the shore at a slow pace. Eventually, the two of you reach a small, rocky cove. Seikibanki sets down and taps a pattern on the surface of the water with her foot as you watch.

After a few moments, Wakasagihime surfaces and shakes the water from her hair.

“Ah, welcome!” She greets both of you warmly. “Charlotte, I didn’t expect to see you so soon! Are you and Banki here acquainted already?”

“You could say that.” Seikibanki says, shifting to appear less disheveled.

Waka’s smile falters for a moment as her eyes flick between the two of you. She can tell that something happened, but you’d wager that a sense of politeness or diplomacy is keeping her from prying.

In any event, she’s certainly happy to see her repaired wheelchair, setting herself down and testing it out on the beach. The chair’s thick, tread-like tires navigate the sand and pebbles surprisingly well, and the mermaid is beaming with satisfaction as she drives back to you.

“Thanks so much! It runs like it’s new. Well, here’s your things back!”

She reaches into her pouch and brings out your pistols, carefully wrapped in a gauzy silver-blue fabric, oblivious to the look of shock on Seikibanki’s face. The Rokurokubi’s eyes dart between you, your weapons, and her friend in a mix of fear and puzzlement.

Well, that’s to be expected. You just demonstrated the ability to utterly dominate her in a fight with little more than your bare hands, and now you’ve got guns. Any scrap of survival instinct in her is probably screaming.

The sun is climbing, and you need to leave soon. Still, something about the entire exchange doesn’t sit right with you. Wakasagi has been nothing but pleasant, but there’s no doubt in your mind that Seiki will tell her about what happened.

It might be better for everyone if Wakasagi hears about it from you.

---

[ ] Leave
[ ] Tell Waka about what you did.
[ ] Emphasize Seikibanki’s aggression. Attacking random people is generally considered poor manners. So is demanding supplication in the style of cartoon villains.
[ ] Emphasize your role. You weren’t exactly fighting for your life, and your response may have been too harsh. Someone of your office should hold themselves accountable.
[ ] Other?
>> No. 187337
[x] Tell Waka about what you did.

Best to just tell it like it is. We did what considered justified, but trying to spin the tale one way or the other won't reflect well on us. Let her draw her own conclusion.
>> No. 187338
[x] Tell Waka about what you did.

Our business with her is concluded, so if she takes the truth the wrong way, well then that's just a shame, isn't it?
>> No. 187339
> Seikibanki

You may want to adjust your spellchecker.

[x] Tell Waka about what you did.
>> No. 187340
[x] Emphasize your role. You weren’t exactly fighting for your life, and your response may have been too harsh. Someone of your office should hold themselves accountable.


we goofed, didn't quite turn out as funny as expected (from our end at least) and this is probably our best shot at mitigating the damage
>> No. 187341
>>187339
Whoopsie doopsie
>> No. 187342
[x] Emphasize your role. You weren’t exactly fighting for your life, and your response may have been too harsh. Someone of your office should hold themselves accountable.

Eh, I guess trying to reconcile costs us nothing at this point.
>> No. 187343
[X] Tell Waka about what you did.
-[X] Offer to make it up to Sekibanki

I can't resist the Rokurokubi.
>> No. 187344
[X] Emphasize your role. You weren’t exactly fighting for your life, and your response may have been too harsh. Someone of your office should hold themselves accountable.
>> No. 187345
[X] Tell Waka about what you did.
-[X] Offer to make it up to Sekibanki
>> No. 187349
[x] Tell Waka about what you did.
-[x] Offer to make it up to Sekibanki

Yeah, knew the *Clarify option wasn't wise even if it looked amusing. Oh well.
>> No. 187350
Now I feel like I should have at least made it a bit funnier, with a convenient basketball hoop or something.
>> No. 187352
[x] Tell Waka about what you did.
-[x] Offer to make it up to Sekibanki
>> No. 187353
[X] Emphasize your role. You weren’t exactly fighting for your life, and your response may have been too harsh. Someone of your office should hold themselves accountable.
>> No. 187359
[X] Tell Waka about what you did.
-[X] Offer to make out with it up to Sekibanki
>> No. 187360
[x] Tell Waka about what you did.
-[x] Offer to make it up to Sekibanki.

Hype.
>> No. 187602
File 145672095876.png - (742.55KB, 733x900, 6193c6bbfe64992e11062948c8348b1a.png) [iqdb]
187602
You tell Waka about your dispute with Seikibanki, doing the best you can to keep your voice and your temper level. The urge to cast yourself in a better light is tempting, pulling at each unformed word, but you pull harder.

Something like this isn’t going to make a liar of you.

When you finish, Wakasagi is still seated in her wheelchair, hesitation and discomfort written across her face as she continues studying yours.

Seikibanki stands behind her with her arms folded across her chest, and you can tell that her tall collar is concealing a scowl.

“I see.” Wakasagi says, quietly. “I had hoped that something like that hadn’t happened. At least everyone’s okay” She looks you straight in the eye. “Hey, Charlotte. Is it true that you’re a Templar?”

“Yes.” You tell her. No point in hiding it.

Seibanki starts as you say so. “You’re joking, right? Everyone knows that the Templars are just some fairy-tale the humans invented to feel better about themselves!”

“I assure you, we’re very real.” You cut her off, feeling a pulse in your head beginning to pound. “And while our mission is to defend the innocent, we don’t appreciate people insinuating that humans ought to... how did it go, ‘beg for mercy’.” Your glare is stronger than the Rokurokubi’s, and she looks aside.

Wakasagi’s expression remains pensive, though there’s a hint of nervousness as she looks at the tension of the scene. “I think I get it now. Seikibanki, did you say anything about humans being, um, weak, or anything?”

A mumbled response. “Might’ve. A bit, yeah.”

Your exasperation boils over. “Look, I’m still working out how different things here are, but where I’m from, it’s considered bad manners to ambush someone and talk shit about their race.”

The mermaid sighs. “Banki, we can’t say things like that anymore. Not after the mess with the Inchling and the Amanojaku.”

“She was new, okay! I thought it’d be okay if we stuck to spellcards.”

“But because she’s new, she might not understand local customs.” Waka explains, staying patient. She turns to face you.

“Charlotte, some youkai like to banter with humans before spellcard duels. They hear about really powerful people, like the vampire or the Moriya goddesses saying things like that, and it seems like a cool thing to copy. I can see why you’d take offense, especially if you were just minding your business, but nothing’s meant by it, really.”

“Why are you taking her side?” Seikibaki asks. “What about me? I’m the one who just wanted spellcards and got manhandled for my trouble.”

A thought occurs to you. If you buried Seikibanki up to her neck, you could use her to tee off for golf practice. Sure, heads aren’t very aerodynamic, but you could always go for quantity over quality.

“I’m not. Charlotte, you really can’t keep doing this.” Wakasagi’s voice interrupts the errant thought. “Lots of people are going to get angry at you, and if Reimu comes after you...” She shudders. “If you’re concerned about getting dragged into duels all the time, I guarantee you that it’ll get better. It’s just that, well, people are eager to see what the newcomers are like. Just give it a bit of time and it won’t be a problem anymore.”

“That sounds reasonable.” You say. It’s still not good, but at least there’s an out.

You can’t bring yourself to argue with the mermaid. Her eyes are clear, wide, and perhaps a bit too trusting.

“I don’t suppose there’s anything I could do to clear this up?” The offer leaves your mouth without much thought. For a moment, Banki looks about to say something that will sour the mood, but seems to reconsider after glancing back at your holstered pistols..

“Give me a proper duel.” She says, voice still colored with resentment. “Come to the piers in the early afternoon, when most of the mist has cleared. I’ll be waiting for you.”

“Alright. I’ll be there.” You promise.

You wish the two youkai goodbye and head off, feeling much more tired than when you first left. At least your guns are undamaged and back in your hands.

---

With that episode weighing on your mind, you’re a bit surprised when you get a phone call while flying back through the willows. You’re even more surprised to see that it’s Satori. Needless to say, you answer it immediately.

“Satori?”

“Hello, Charlotte.” Coming through the phone, her voice sounds even more listless than you remember.

“I hope you’re doing well.” You tell her. “I’m a bit curious as to how you got this number.”

A soft laugh. “Ran provided it to me. I had a brief chat with her after bringing Koishi back home as per our agreement.”

Oh, right. It’s uncomfortable to realize how quietly the memory of that event slipped out of sight.

“If you’re worried about privacy, don’t be. Ran only gave it to me when I explained the situation to her, and I don’t have any plans to share it.” Her tone shifts to concern. “You do remember what I’m talking about, right?”

“Yeah, I do. It’s been there, just under the surface, but I didn’t realize how... unimportant it was starting to feel.” You say. Christ, that girl did a number on you.

“Well, it’s good that you have any memory. It’d be a hassle to explain the whole thing again.”

“How’s Koishi doing?” You ask. “You said she gets... stressed when she doesn’t get to roam.”

“She’s been handling things better than I expected, and all of the pets are thrilled to have her back. Still, I’m seeing her staring out the windows more often. We’re running out of her favorite candy, too, and it’s going to be a while before I can get anymore.”

“Anyways, I’m rambling. Things are holding up.” She says, stopping herself. “Thanks for asking about her, by the way.”

There’s something about the way she said the last bit that makes you want to smile.

“Don’t mention it.” You tell her. There’s occasional sipping from her end, and faint animal calls.

“If you don’t mind me asking, how have you been adjusting to Gensokyo?” She asks.

You laugh. “It’s been bumpy. Lots of people wanting spellcard duels when I just want to get from point A to point B.”

“I can imagine. Powerful outsiders appear rarely enough that word spreads quickly when they do. As for powerful humans... I believe the most recent individual was Sanae Kochiya. If memory serves, she spent most of her first days picking fights with the mountain’s residents before her parents got her to calm down and apologize.”

“But back to what we were talking about before; Have your dreams been better?” She asks, her voice turning serious.

“It’s been... better.” You tell her. “They’ve still been strange, but there’s a downward trend in hostile strangeness. Eirin’s medicine might have something to do about it.”

“I see. The doctor certainly knows what she’s doing.” She lets a sigh escape. “Well, just as long as the gap lady leaves us alone, I suppose.”

She clears her throat, and you hear her set down the cup. “I hope you don’t mind, but I’d greatly appreciate it if you and your colleagues would visit my home. There are several matters that I believe warrant discussion, and Utsuho in particular has voiced some interest in talking with you about physics.”

Getting to know Utsuho sounds like a good idea. The sooner you can scope out the person who reportedly throws around miniature suns like water balloons, the better. Still, it’s a long trip to the Underground, and there isn’t much chance of getting things done on the surface in the meantime.

Her voice turns sly. “I also have a wine cellar. An extensively stocked wine cellar, with the finest spirits acquirable below or aboveground. The Aki sisters produce a lovely shochu.”

Now that’s just dirty.

“I’ll discuss it with my colleagues.” You tell her. “Do you have their numbers as well?”

“Yes, I do.” She says. “Well, do give it some thought, would you?”

“Of course. “ You spot a familiar green-clad figure on the road below. “Satori, something just came up.”

“I see. Well, do take care. Try not to get caught out at night.”

---

From your aerial view, you can see how the Garden of the Sun earned the name. Ordered rows of sunflowers blanket the flat plains, bounded by a river on the far end and criss-crossed by footpaths. A few small groups of fairies flit above the flowers, playing among themselves. Towards the center, the sea of green and gold gives way to orchards and other plots, with a mansion at the center.

You catch up to Junko at the outskirts of Yuuka’s fields. The Dragon agent is strolling along the dirt path, taking bites out of a suspiciously familiar peach.

“Yo.” You hail her from the sky, and she waves at you as you set down and start walking beside her. “I take it that the fight with Tenshi went well.”

“Yeah. It turns out that I deal with her rocks better than she deals with my Chaos magic.” Another bite. “Man, they’ve got some tasty peaches up there.”

“How’d you get that, anyways? Something tells me she didn’t just hand it over.”

“She didn’t. I grabbed it off her hat while she was distracted by illusions.” Junko finishes off the fruit and tosses the pit by the roadside. “She wasn’t weak, by any means, but her bark ultimately outweighs her bite by a large margin. Even if we account for the full extent of her sword’s power, its owner is thoroughly mediocre.”

“How mediocre are we talking?”

“We went for best two out of three in an empty field. Round one was with magic allowed, and like I said, that was a complete stomp for me. The second was just swords, and it ended about the same. Her bladework and footwork both have some glaring weaknesses”

The walls of sunflowers do a good job of blotting out external noise. Occasionally, you hear the chirping of birds or the raucous laughter of nearby fairies, but for the most part there’s only the murmur of wind through the leaves.

Overall, it seems that someone of Tenshi’s caliber isn’t a huge concern as an opponent against one of you. Given that she’s considered to be fairly powerful around here, this helps you to gauge your standing.

“She’s got potential, though.” Junko goes on. “If she can just learn to put aside her ego and learn, she could be great someday. Until then...” She shrugs. “Not sure how I’d do against her in spellcards, but it’s good to make clear where we stand on the local ladder.”

“People were watching?”

Junko nods. “Yeah. Word spread through the village pretty fast that the newcomer was smacking around a Celestial. It seems that most Celestials aren’t liked much - they’re seen as condescending snobs, and Tenshi has a reputation as an immature bully. There was lots of cheering when I knocked her down.” She scowls. “I think I saw Aya flitting around. I’m not looking forward to how she’ll spin that story.”

You take a breath, inhaling the sweet, earthy scents of rich soil and lush vegetation. Warmed by the sun and fragrant with herbs and flowers, the very air feels alive and nurturing.

“Eh. At the end of the day, people will hear that we’re not to be pushed around.” You tell her. “Say, did you check on the safehouse?”

“You mean the place I cleared with Kasen? I stopped by after Tenshi stomped away in a huff. I got the power running again, and I paid some cleaners to freshen it up. It should be ready by the time we get back.”

That’s good to know. Any privacy you can get will be helpful. The next step would be warding against intrusion or surveillance, but between the three of you, that shouldn’t take much time.

By this point, you’ve cleared the sunflowers and are now walking past meticulously kept groves of trees and shrubs. Ripe fruit adorns their branches, but you resist the desire to pluck one. Considering who their gardener is, it’s likely to be very bad mojo.

“Say, do you know where Caleb went?” You ask.

You’re interrupted by a lightshow from the other side of the house. Green and yellow sparks unfurl like flower petals against the noonday sky.

“Looks like he’s getting a spellcard lesson.” Junko grins. “Why don’t we watch?”

The two of you make your way around Yuuka’s home, where you find Elly standing on the veranda with her arms folded, watching the spectacle with some trepidation.

“Morning, Elly.” Junko greets the gatekeeper, who jumps to attention in surprise, hands reaching for the hilt of her scythe before she recognizes you two.

“Ah! H-Hello, Miss Mori - Miss McGallagher. Please, do have a seat.” She stammers as she indicates a few wicker chairs to the side.

You sit down and look up. Caleb and Yuuka are both in the sky, with the former doing his best to evade the latter’s projectiles. The green-haired gardener’s cheery, effortless smile contrasts with Caleb’s clenched-jaw focus as he tries to avoid the storm issuing from the tip of Yuuka’s parasol.

He does an admirable job, but only prolongs the inevitable. A thin stream of light clips his shoulder, spinning him into one sphere that hits him in the gut and another that smacks into the side of his head. Yuuka halts her attack right away, folding up the umbrella.

“I think that’s enough for now.” Yuuka says as she descends. A smile is still on her face, but it’s more pleased than triumphant - like a teacher satisfied with her pupil. “You’ve certainly begun to understand what is needed. I have no doubt that in time, you will be able to hold your own.”

She looks at you and Junko before her feet touch the ground. “Ah. Charlotte, Junko. I’m pleased to see that both of you have arrived.”

Caleb lands with less grace, almost losing his balance as he lands.

“You alright?” You ask.

“Yeah. It feels worse than it actually is. I’ve checked.” He tells you, shaking his body out. “Don’t mind me. I’ll be fine in no time.”

Yuuka pats him on the back as she passes by, a faint glow around her hand. Caleb straightens up, surprise coloring his face for a moment. Yuuka just chuckles.

“Please, do come inside.” She says as Elly holds the door. “There is much we need to discuss.”

---

From the moment you enter Yuuka’s home, you’re struck with a sense of it being... off-balance. It’s a nice house, to be sure, well-designed and looked after without being ostentatious. Large windows let generous amounts of sunlight inside, and the furniture is practical with a hint of elegance. Overall, it’s clean, warm, and smells of wood.

You take another sniff. It’s living wood, as though the trees were never felled for lumber.

Well, Yuuka’s got something going on with Gaia. It wouldn’t be surprising.

Still, there’s something off. Some small but persistent note of dissonance, like a puzzle missing a single piece.

It’s something minor you’ll get to later. Everyone’s seated in the parlor, a smallish room with a fireplace by the side.

“I’d love to entertain you three as guests, but for now, we must take care of business.” She says, sighing. “I suppose we should start from the beginning. Gensokyo was created some one hundred and thirty years ago when Yukari and five others raised the Hakurei barrier to isolate it.”

“Others? You can’t be more specific?” Caleb asks, frowning.

Yuuka offers an apologetic smile. “I’m afraid so. I can tell you that I am one of them, and that the first Hakurei was another, but naming the others would draw their attention to you, and I assure you, that would be problematic. I’ve heard that you’re already familiar with Eblis, so I trust that you already have an idea of their age and power.”

You and your friends blanch. One Eblis was bad enough.

“Please tell me that at the very least, they don’t share his temperament.” Caleb asks.

“Or his goals.” You add.

Yuuka laughs. “No, no. They all have their eccentricities, but nothing so destructive. Yukari doesn’t take kindly to vandals, after all.”

“If you’re using Eblis as a measuring stick, does that mean Yukari’s working with Angels?” You ask. “Even fallen ones.”

Yuuka just gives you another thin smile. “I’m sorry, but for the same reasons, I can’t tell you.”

That’s worrying. The more you hear about Yukari, the more some part of you wants to just shut the door on Gensokyo and throw away the key. Dealing with someone that can apparently wrangle Angels - Angels! - into some semblance of cooperation... you might be a bit unprepared.

Eblis was a fallen Nephilim, marooned in Hell with most of his power atrophied, and he still took a small army to put down. You’re good at your job, very good as a matter of fact, but you’re just one person.

“Don’t be alarmed.” Yuuka says, leaning forward with a terrifying intensity in her eyes. “I will be the first to admit that my strength has declined, but I can tell you with no trace of arrogance that there is nobody in Gensokyo is foolish enough to cross me and what I stand for.”

She takes a breath, and her demeanor is gentle again. “I have always stood for Gaia, I will stand beside her Chosen.”

You think back to her Sparks - searing pillars of golden light, as pure and inevitable as an act of nature.

You feel a bit safer with those backing you up.

“Now, where was I? We created the Barrier. It is the purpose for Gensokyo’s existence.” Yuuka goes on. “It was envisioned as a defense system to protect the world from the Dreaming ones. The fact that it has been breached is not encouraging.” Her expression darkens for a moment. “Filth mutates endlessly. Our work is thorough, but we never expected to account for every possible strain. Still, I doubt that the creature we faced at the shrine was able to slip past on that principle.”

“Each member of Yukari’s circle provided some service or function essential for the Barrier. I have already explained mine. To my knowledge, each other member has upheld their obligations, except for one. Hakurei.”

“Do you mean Reimu?” Junko asks.

“No. The first Hakurei. She was one of you.” Yuuka explains. “Chosen by Gaia and blessed by the Bees, though as you can see, she is no longer with us. That isn’t to say that she’s dead. When it became apparent that something was wrong, I personally demanded answers from Eiki. She swore upon her office that they didn’t have any clue where Hakurei’s soul was.”

“Do you have any idea who or what was responsible?” Caleb asks.

The answer is immediate. “Yukari.” The contempt in her voice raises hairs on the back of your neck. “She has so many secrets and schemes, and Hakurei was growing stronger and stronger. By removing her from play, Yukari would have eliminated a perceived threat and delivered her infant replacement into the palm of her hand.”

“Reimu didn’t seem particularly fond of Yukari when I met her.” Junko says. “In fact, the first thing she asked was whether I was a part of Yukari’s latest joke.”

Yuuka laughs at that. “Reimu can be like that at times. She’s such a sweet child, but there some things that you shouldn’t touch unless you’re looking for a fight: Her shrine, her money, her food, and her free time.”

“But leaving that aside, I can’t stress enough how good of a manipulator Yukari is, or how far her reach extends. No doubt she is already working to ensnare you.”

Yuuka’s eyes flick over yours. For some reason, guilt flashes in your stomach.

Yuuka goes on without incident. “Still, it is possible that Yukari was not involved in Hakurei’s disappearance. If I had been certain that she was, I would have already ended my involvement with her.”

She places a hand on the grip of her umbrella. “And rest assured that I will not sit by if someone attempts to make any of you disappear in a similar manner.”

“Now, I said earlier that I could not name the others for you, but I can point you in the right direction. I can think of several leads you may wish to pursue. The Hakurei Shrine, for example, has deeper foundations than one might expect, and although the Dragon statue in the Village does not command the same respect it used to, the devout still offer libations of beer.”

“Now then, I’ve taken up enough of your time. You must have questions for me.”

---

Vote for up to three topics.

[ ] Yourself
-Why are you so feared?
-How did you meet Elly?
-What... are you?
-How does your Master Spark work?
[ ] Gensokyo
-What’s the deal with Fairies?
-Where are the Anima Wells?
-What was life before Reimu like?
-Are any groups that will cause trouble?
[ ] Individuals
-Yukari
-The First Hakurei
-Shinki
-Mima
[ ] Other?
>> No. 187603
[ ] Yourself
-What... are you?

The million-dollar question. On top of the immediate benefits of knowing what's up with her, that context may shine some indirect light on the other entities responsible for the Barrier.

[ ] Gensokyo
-Where are the Anima Wells?

A pretty immediate concern for the Chosen. Also might give some insight as to the nature of Gensokyo on a larger scale.

[ ] Individuals
-The First Hakurei

Suddenly, she's become a very important piece in whatever game is being played. Right now, we know very little about her. This seems like an excellent opportunity to remedy that.
>> No. 187604
[x] Yourself
-How did you meet Elly?
-What... are you?
[x] Gensokyo
-What’s the deal with Fairies?
-Where are the Anima Wells?
[x] Individuals
-Yukari
-The First Hakurei
>> No. 187605
[X] Yourself
-What... are you?

[X] Gensokyo
-Where are the Anima Wells?

[X] Individuals
-The First Hakurei
>> No. 187606
File 145673998429.jpg - (0.99MB, 1000x1363, c936c23c6c5745de16fd889ce6832c29.jpg) [iqdb]
187606
>taking bites out of a suspiciously familiar peach.
Oh Junko, you have no idea, do you?
>and tosses the pit by the roadside
I hope Yuuka appreciates the gift.
>A smile is still on her face, but it’s more pleased than triumphant - like a teacher satisfied with her pupil.
>“I have always stood for Gaia, I will stand beside her Chosen.”
So best. Marry her, Char.
>For some reason, guilt flashes in your stomach.
Good. Yuuka knows about that fucking butterfly and will hopefully take steps to fix it.

[X] Yourself
-What... are you?
Ten bucks she's a former Dreamer, or what's left of one.
[X] Gensokyo
-What’s the deal with Fairies?
What's their game? What's their angle?
[X] Individuals
-The First Hakurei
Yukari a shiiiiiiiiiit
>> No. 187607
[x] Gensokyo
-What’s the deal with Fairies?
-Where are the Anima Wells?
[x] Individuals
-The First Hakurei
>> No. 187608
[X] Yourself
-What... are you?

[X] Gensokyo
-Where are the Anima Wells

[X] Individuals
-The First Hakurei
>> No. 187610
Ah, there we go. Nice to have someone seemingly willing to give us straight answers about things.

>-Mima
...does Charlotte even know about Mima? I would be tempted to pick this if I remembered her showing up or being mentioned in the story.

Anyway, for votes:

[x] Yourself 
-What... are you? 

[x] Individuals 
-The First Hakurei

[x] Other
(Write-in) You said you can't give the names of the others who created the Barrier, but what about motivations? Is there anything you can tell us about the goals of those involved?

She might not be able to, but this would be valuable information if we want to keep looking into the Barrier, which I think would be worthwhile.
>> No. 187611
[X] Yourself
-How did you meet Elly?
[X] Gensokyo
-What was life before Reimu like?
[X] Individuals
-Shinki
>> No. 187615
>>187610

Then, there was a bit of unpleasantness when a number of demons decided that they’d like to share the news with Earth and soak up some Anima. They opened up a number of Hellrifts, except they found themselves in Gensokyo, rather than Earth proper. The locals flipped their shit, and Reimu, Marisa, Yuuka, and somebody named ‘Mima’ stormed through and wrecked a good deal of Makai as they fought with Shinki.

From Thread One, after being told about some shenanigans. So yeah, Char does know Mima's existence.



I do not think asking Yuuka directly about herself is wise. It feels like too obvious a step and it gives me pause, like something we should be working through understanding on our own over time and piecing together. The difference between staring at Medusa and finding what she looks like by looking at a mirror.

[x] Gensokyo
-Where are the Anima Wells? (Defendable locations, important for any major event that we will be having in Gensokyo and making sure we have access to these locations is paramount moving forward.)

[x] Individuals
- The First Hakurei (Cornerstone element of barrier, etc.)
- Mima (Gives insight on Master Spark, directly/indirectly perhaps if Mima is still contactable in some way)

What made the Hakurei important enough to be part of the barrier itself? There has to be a distinction here between mortal power/divine power and whatever the Hakurei have going for them, the question is what and why the Hakurei are the medium for that instead of the being itself. (In a land of Gods, why does whatever God that Reimu follows not necessarily have direct form like others.)
>> No. 187622
File
Removed
>>187606
Sadly, Yuuka doesn't see Charlotte that way. Better luck next time, anon.

>>187610
You know about Mima in passing. She's little more to you at the moment than a name.

>>187615
Come on, don't you trust her, anon?
>What made the Hakurei important enough to be part of the barrier itself?
Hakurei isn't part of the Barrier in the sense that she's a walking keystone or power source. Yukari works with Boundaries to keep things separate and Yuuka works with Anima to keep things alive. Hakurei and the others have similar duties to fulfill. In Hakurei's case, this allowed Reimu to take over and keep Gensokyo running when her predecessor disappeared.
>why does whatever God that Reimu follows not necessarily have direct form
That is an excellent question that should be further explored, perhaps during a visit to either the statue or the shrine.
>> No. 187646
>>187622
>Sadly, Yuuka doesn't see Charlotte that way.
Yet.
>> No. 187649
>>187622
>Come on, don't you trust her, anon?

In a game of pawns, I don't trust anyone attempting to move pieces.
>> No. 187655
>>187649

Hey, it could be worse. It could be a Game of Thrones.
>> No. 187664
File 145723315098.gif - (378.35KB, 550x600, 1440636439125.gif) [iqdb]
187664
>>187655
>It could be a Game of Thrones.
>Thrones
>> No. 187787
File 145903089877.png - (46.24KB, 413x244, c7VtsvZ.png) [iqdb]
187787
[8] The First Hakurei
[6] Where are the Anima wells?
[6] What... are you?

---

“Hakurei was truly remarkable.” Yuuka says, her eyes taking a faraway look. “We found her in Japan a long time ago, though just how long eludes me. Centuries? I’ve always had trouble keeping track of time. She was a warrior-priestess of some militarist order, banished to a forgotten mountain shrine as a result of petty politics. We found her soon after her Bee did, and after some convincing, we were able to begin work on Gensokyo in earnest.”

“Her immortality kept her alive all these years.” Her eyes flick back to your group. “I’m not sure if anyone’s told you about that, by the way. Old age isn’t something you’ll have to worry about.”

Yuuka is making the generous assumption that the planet will still be around by the time that becomes relevant, but that’s not something to bring up in conversation right now.

“As an aside, I should warn you of something.” Yuuka says, turning to you. “You especially, Charlotte. I mentioned earlier that the Yama do not have Hakurei’s soul. That being said, I suspect that they may try to detain one of yours, should the opportunity present itself. Given that Charlotte is still mortal for a few days, they may target her.”


That idea gives you pause. There’s precious little the afterlife hates than the dead back in the world of the living. It’s never been an issue before, but the local bureaucracy sounds like it might be stubborn on this.

“Just be aware that you are always welcome to seek shelter here.” Yuuka tells you with a smile that shows just a hint of teeth.

“Anyways, like Reimu today, Hakurei was the closest thing Gensokyo had to a peacekeeper, though she tended to be much more... final in her verdicts.”

“She killed people?” Caleb asks. It wouldn’t be surprising, especially if she came from the Jingu like you suspect.

Yuuka nods. “Quite a few. It was simply how things were back then - the chaos of a lawless frontier and the tension of cramming so many races together, with just one woman on the ground to keep some semblance of order. “

“Hakurei did an excellent job, considering the burden we placed on her, but it took a toll on her. I watched as she grew ever more isolated. Reimu was a rare light in her life, but even that basic joy was denied her.” The distant look returns to her eyes. “I wish I could have done better by her.”

“If Reimu’s mom was such an important figure, why don’t people talk about her more?” Junko says, frowning. “They don’t even seem to write about her that much.”

“She did her job too well.” Yuuka replies. “The problem with neutrality is that eventually, everyone comes to distrust you. By the time she disappeared, there was simply nobody left with both the resources and the desire to investigate, and many were happy to overlook that part of their history.”

“Not even the villagers?” You ask.

“Aside from the schoolteacher, no.” Yuuka says. “She’s always been an inquisitive one, but sadly, it seems that such an attitude is rare among the villagers.” She snorts. “Did you know that they’re descended from some of the best youkai hunters in this part of the world? There was already a strong community when we began, and others came while the Barrier was more permeable. To think that their spirit has decayed to this superstition and ungratitude...”


Yuuka sighs. “Do forgive me, I’m rambling again. The fact of the matter is that even if anyone were to go searching - and I doubt that many did - their results would be extremely limited. Of course, none of those people carried Gaia’s blessing. I believe that answers may lie behind doors that will only open for you.”

“What was Hakurei’s function for the Barrier?” You ask. “Was peacekeeping her only duty?” It seems wasteful for Yukari to go through all the trouble of recruiting a Chosen to be a policewoman.

“Do you think she was a Panopticon?” Caleb pings.

“I doubt it.” Junko replies. “She’d have too much trouble passing herself off as normal.”

Yuuka shakes her head. “I suppose the best word for it is ‘mediator’. While Gensokyo was still just an idea, an agent was necessary to act on our behalf without attracting undue attention. When it became a reality, someone was needed to understand the people and keep them in balance. Beyond that, I suspect that she may have mediated between us as well, because I am still surprised that we all managed to cooperate this long.”

“Yukari’s circle has been diminished by her loss, even if they don’t admit to it.” Yuuka says after a pause. “Reimu has wrought her own miracles, but she can’t fill the shoes of a giant.”

“Is Reimu one of us?” Caleb asks. “A Chosen.”

“Oh, no. She’s not quite ordinary by any means, but she does not carry that particular gift.” Yuuka says. “The only Chosen to have set foot in Gensokyo before you was Hakurei.”

“What was she like?”

“The answer would depend on when you saw her and who you asked.” Yuuka says, smiling again. “Longer lives mean that one’s character is shaped by more events, and Hakurei was particularly busy with hers.”

“The Tengu, I think, would describe her as a cruel tyrant, a human they could never hope to best.” She says, ticking a list off on her fingers. “The humans would call her aloof and arbitrary and worse, though never to her face. The Oni refuse to speak of her beyond whispers, and the lesser Youkai are simply relieved by her disappearance. There used to be vampires other than Remilia until they crossed the line. If they were still alive, I’m sure they’d call her a madwoman - someone for whom genocide was a mere sport.”

Yuuka closes her eyes and takes a moment to compose herself. “I knew her as a woman of profound wisdom and virtue, whose determination was unyielding and who strove for peace. She was flawed and she made mistakes, but she ultimately made choices that held Gensokyo together.”

She opens her eyes, irises catching the sunlight like wine. “And for all that she did, someone saw fit to reward her with... nothing.” She scowls. “Not even death.”

“We will discover the truth.” You tell her. Not as a reassurance, but as a statement - expressing a simple fact that will be made real.

“I know you will.” Her smile is faint, but it’s there. “If you wouldn’t mind, is there another topic you’d like to know about?”

Something less personal seems to be appropriate, and Caleb broaches the topic of Anima wells. This mention visibly improves Yuuka’s mood, and she wastes no time diving into the details on each one. She has so much to say that it’s all you can do to keep up with her.

---

Persistent Anima Well Locations:

Human Village:
- Dragon Statue: Located in the center of the village. Constructed in the likeness of a deity said to have been present at the creation of Gensokyo.

Hakurei Shrine:
- Fairy Oak: Located some distance behind the Shrine. Home to Sunny, Luna, and Star. Easy access for nearby hot spring.

Scarlet Devil Mansion:
- Flowerbeds: Located on the mansion grounds, within the walls. Closest well to Misty Lake. Likely to be swarming with Fairy maids during daylight hours.

Myouren Temple:
- Graveyard: Located some distance behind the temple proper. Closest well to Senkai. Potential for hilarious misunderstandings with temple disciples.

Forest of Magic:
- Kourindou: Located at the edge of the forest, next to the secondhand store. Closest well to Tsukumogami village, Alice’s home, and Marisa’s home.
- Radio Tower: Located in the deep forest, at the base of an overgrown radio tower. Has become a hub of Fairy activity in recent years.

Bamboo Forest:
- Mokou’s Shack: Located in the vicinity of Mokou’s home and a significant distance from Eientei. Closest well to Eientei. Yuuka assures you that the Bamboo Forest will not play (many) tricks on you due to a healthy respect/fear of her.

Youkai Mountain:
- Aki Farm: Located near a farmhouse between the edge of Youkai Forest and the base of the mountain. Closest well to the Kappa centers of Genbu Ravine and Untrodden Valley. Inhabited by sister goddesses who are friendly but somewhat down on their luck.
- Giant Toad’s Pond: Located halfway up the mountain. Closest well to the main Tengu village cluster and Moriya Shrine. Inhabited by a semi-divine giant toad that detests troublemakers but is otherwise peaceable. Relatively secluded.

Muenzuka:
- Mound of the Nameless: Located on a small hill covered in spider lilies. Inhabited by a hostile doll Tsukumogami with control over poisons. Considered dangerous due to aforementioned Tsuku, remote location, and numbers of hostile occult creatures. Closest well to the Higan River and two nearby roads.
--The Road of Reconsideration leads to the Forest of Magic and is a notorious hunting ground of predatory youkai.
--The Road of Liminality leads to Youkai mountain and is inhabited by friendly ghosts.

Garden of the Sun:
- Orchard: Located next to Yuuka’s home. A favored playground for Fairies, though they are all careful to avoid damaging the plants.

The Underworld:
- The Deep Road: Located at a watering hole in the cave system which serves as a midway point between the surface and the Former Capital.
- Palace of the Earth Spirits: Located in a fernery on the Palace grounds. Closest well to the Former Capital.
>> No. 187788
With Yuuka enjoying the subject so much, you spend more time discussing the Anima wells than anticipated. It’s as though she has a story to share about each one.

“Goodness, it’s been some time.” Yuuka says, looking outside the window. “Would you like something to eat?”

“Actually, I’d appreciate something.” You say. Funny how you didn’t notice the feeling until now.

“Excellent. Elly, if you would be so kind?”

Elly enters the room at Yuuka’s summons and nods. “Would the other guests like anything?”

Caleb nods. “Yes, please.”

“Sorry, but I’m full.” Junko tells Elly. “I got food before coming here.”

Yuuka frowns. “Are you sure? As strong as you are, eating well is still something you shouldn’t ignore.”

That’s unusual. Getting close and personal with occult nasties is a calorie-intensive affair, and Junko is fresh from fighting Tenshi.

“I appreciate the offer, but I’m already kind of stuffed on peaches.” Junko says, offering a rueful smile. “Next time for sure, though.”

“I should at least offer you something to drink. I do have a bottle of mead that I’ve been waiting to open. Perhaps the three of you could help me with that?”

The lunch that follows is one of the best you’ve had, despite its simplicity and modest size. The meal consists of fresh bread with slices of cheese and sauce, while the mead has floral notes. Almost all of it was likely sourced from Yuuka’s own farms.

Back to business, though. Something to note is that you’ll have some explaining to do if you use Anima wells on private property, such as for the SDM, the Palace, and Youkai mountain. It would be problematic to die, resurrect, and then die again to a trigger-happy Tengu patrol or mob of fairy maids.

Do the Tengu here even have guns? Food for thought.

Of course, there’s a question that has been nagging at each of you since the moment you first met Yuuka.

“If you don’t mind me asking - and it’s fine if you don’t want to say - what are you?” Junko ventures.

Yuuka is quiet as she studies her face. The silence fills the room like a cloud, and you wonder if she’s made some grave mistake in asking.

Then her lips curve in a bashful smile. “Well, as the Miare’s book will tell you, I’m a simple flower youkai. I’m old and feared. Isn’t that enough for you?”

“Well, none of the flower creatures I’ve ever met have come remotely close to firing off Sparks.” Junko says.

“‘Youkai’ seems to be an umbrella term around here.” You add. “Alice, Patchouli, and Byakuren are considered Youkai. Even we might qualify. It doesn’t narrow things down by much.”

Yuuka laughs into her hand. “That’s true. The villagers certainly seem to enjoy speculating, though. Still, I don’t think the three of you would.”

She hesitates before continuing. “I understand why you ask, but I do not wish to reveal such a secret just yet. Suffice to say that I am a servant of Gaia, a custodian of Gensokyo, and - if you would permit it - a friend to you.” Her smile is warm.

“I guess that’s a question we’ll leave for later.” Junko pings.

After all, the most important thing is that, whatever she is, Yuuka is on the same side as you.

---

Unfortunately, the moment is interrupted by a knock on the door.

“Pardon me, milady?” Elly’s voice filters through. “Our guests have a visitor from the village. It seems that their presence is requested at once.”

The three of you exchange questioning glances. Was it something one of you did?

“Come in.” Yuuka answers. She looks as confused as you.

The door swings open, admitting Elly and Kotohime. The police chief’s swagger is a sharp contrast to the gatekeeper’s timid slouch, bordering on insolent.

“Hey, guys!” Kotohime greets you before turning the frowning owner of the house. “Sorry to interrupt, Lady Kazami, but there’s been a matter of village security. Keine wants all three of them back ASAP.”

“Whatever it was, it ain’t my fault.” Junko pings.

“Surely there is some mistake.” Yuuka says, voice cool and smooth. “I find it difficult to imagine a single reason why any of these three would endanger the village.”

“Hah! You’ve actually got it backwards, ma’am.” Kotohime titters into the sleeve of her kimono. “There’s been an attack by ferals outside the walls.”

The words call you to attention, and your hands itch for the familiar grips of your pistols as you look outside the window. It’s approaching sundown - not when most monsters like to prowl, but if one got cunning or hungry enough, anything might go.

“The council called an emergency meeting, and Keine wants the Outsiders there.” Kotohime goes on. You notice that the postures of your companions have become similarly taut, like coiled springs.

Yuuka’s frown persists for a moment, but soon disappears. “Is that so? In that case, I shouldn’t keep her waiting. We had finished our discussion, anyways.”

“Great!” Kotohime flashes Yuuka a grin before she turns to you. “Alright, you guys, let’s get moving!”

You all offer thanks to Yuuka for her hospitality and head out into the sunset. Kotohime slaps a spare flight enchantment onto Junko, and your group takes off in the direction of the village.

---

“So just how many attacks are we talking about?” Caleb asks, shouting above the wind. “And how many casualties?”

“Nine attacks, seven casualties.” Kotohime shouts back. “Four got away with injuries, but the last three...”

Her expression of implacable, almost-manic cheer doesn’t waver. If anything, it tightens, but a dangerous edge flashes across it for a moment.

“The monsters got lucky.” She says, for once without fanfare.

Kotohime leads you over the gates to a large and important-looking building in a plaza at the center of the village. Sure enough, you spot the Dragon statue that Caleb and Yuuka both told you about. Even from two stories in the air, the robust garden around it and a floral-sweet aroma confirm it as an Anima Well.

Your phone buzzes in your pocket. Satori’s sent a text confirming Koishi’s status for the night. You acknowledge her and turn back to see the guards snap a salute to Kotohime as she lands, which she returns with a surprising amount of polish.

Kotohime looks over her shoulder as you touch down. “Let’s get going. Keine called a bunch of big names over. Wouldn’t want to keep ‘em waiting.” Kotohime jerks her head towards the door.

The inside looks like it was impressive once upon a time, but now the air inside is stale and heavy with the scent of lacquered wood and pipe smoke.

“So who else is here?” Caleb asks.

“Oh, Kirisame and the muscle wizard youkai sympathizer-” Kotohime starts.

“Uh, you mean Byakuren?” You suggest.

“Yes, that’s what I said.” She huffs and goes on. “There’s also the Taoist prince and the chief Tsukumogami. By a previous agreement, the moon people will deal with their own security.” She shrugs. “It’s not as though they need our help in that maze of bamboo anyways.”

So this must be a meeting of every group that’s at risk of attack. Predators like to go for humans if they can help it, but they aren’t too picky about where their terror comes from.

Kotohime heads towards a set of doors from which you hear muffled discussion. Reaching it, she flings it open to reveal Keine, Meira, and Byakuren looking up at you from around a large table.

Marisa is seated at the opposite end, leaning back in her chair while flipping her hakkero in her hand. She looks like she’s at a movie theatre instead of a security meeting.

Miko doesn’t even react as you enter. Like before, her demeanor is aloof as she watches the proceedings. Thankfully, Seiga and her puppylike zombie is nowhere to be seen.

A red-haired stranger is also there, dressed in a white sports coat with a matching knee-length skirt. She’s leaning forward in her seat, one leg folded over the other, with a decorated drum set seated in another chair behind her. She must be Raiko.

“Apologies for the delay.” Caleb says, walking in and sitting down without a pause. “We left as soon as Kotohime found us.”

“Kotohime told us there were attacks. Are we organizing a response?” Junko asks, as the rest of you except for Kotohime follow suit. She just smiles, waves, and heads back out.

“Yes. In fact, our plan is mostly complete.” Meira says. “Did Kotohime give you any details?”

Junko shakes her head. “Only numbers on casualties.”

“I see. Well, we were just talking about areas of concern.” She says, indicating a map on the table. “Myouren Temple can cover itself just fine, and the Taoists are entirely out of reach. What we’re worried about are the outlying farms around the village, populations near the Bamboo forest, Misty Lake, and the Forest of Magic, as well as the Tsukumogami village in the Forest itself.”

“I don’t think they’ve got enough guards to cover all this territory.” You ping, examining the map. “I mean, the village might if they had more fliers, but that doesn’t seem to be the case.”

“Yeah, I haven’t seen a single guard in the air aside from Meira and Kotohime.” Junko replies.

“What I want to know is why the village has these expansions that it evidently can’t guard by itself.” Caleb pings. “Is the plan to just rely on the likes of Reimu and Marisa? Yeah, looks like it.” He points to names written across the map. “They’re assigning stronger people to help cover weak spots.”

“About the Tsukumogami...” You begin, facing Raiko. “What’s the issue with your security?”

“We just don’t have enough guards.” She answers, shrugging. “We don’t live very far into the Forest, and I’ve always been enough to chase away anything that showed up, but I’m just one woman. I’d prefer not to gamble with my people’s well-being.”

“We’ve already gotten a number of volunteers for patrols.” Meira says, drawing attention back. “I understand that the three of you are still new to Gensokyo, but in times like these, every bit of help matters. Can you offer any assistance?”

She wasn’t expecting a response that swift or affirmative. “Are you sure about that? The monsters that come out of the forest at night are no joke.”

“I mean, it’s not like we’ve been dealing with dangerous occult creatures all over the world for the past several years or anything.” Junko says with a shrug and a grin. “Just tell us where the biggest ones are.”

“I see. If you’re sure, then.” She nods to Keine, who slides a number of scrolls to you. “Most of the attacking youkai were not huge threats. It’s the one that did manage to kill, this Gashadokuro, that’s an issue. However, now that blood’s in the air, more of them are sure to come out.”

You start. Could it have been the same one? A place this small probably doesn’t have a lot of giant skeletons roaming around.

“Making things worse is the fact that it seems to have improved its... ‘ringing’ effect.” She goes on. “Witnesses say that the monster paralyzed its victims with it.”

Crap.

“So let me take a crack at it.” Marisa says, looking bored. “I’ll stick wax in my ears and stay out of reach.”

You shake your head. “That thing attacked me before. It’s got my scent, and I doubt that it’ll pass up another chance to get me.”

Marisa scoffs. “If you couldn’t finish it off then, what makes you so sure?”

“She was weighed down by some youkai kid.” Junko interrupts, saving you the breath. “Besides, she used up all her bombs and stuff in the fight at the shrine.”

You nod. “Give me tomorrow to prepare, and by this creature will be fertilizer by the end of the night.”

Byakuren frowns. “That seems rather... reckless. Are you sure about that?”

Miko smirks at her rival. “Come now. None of us here need to be baby-sat.”

“I mean, this is a hunt, not a slumber party.” You say. “And while that thing is hungry and vindictive, it isn’t stupid. I can take maybe one extra person with me before it just chooses another target.”

You’re stronger than you were, as well. You can feel your power returning with each day, and the amounts restored are getting larger.

“What about the paralysis?”


“We’re resistant to that sort of attack.” Caleb explains. “It’ll just stumble us for a moment.”

Byakuren nods, still looking dubious. “Alright. I don’t wish to imply that you’re not up to the task. It’s just, well, nevermind.”

“There’s something she wants to say pretty badly.” Caleb pings, studying her face as it adopts its usual smile. “Just not now. Think she’s worried for someone or something.”

“I don’t need her worry, and the monsters don’t deserve it.” You reply.

“The Gashadokuro is actually our biggest concern right now.” Meira says. “If you can take it down like you say, the rest of our patrols should be able to move with less risk.”

You consider how to arm yourself for tomorrow night. You still have some casings and miscellaneous parts, but not enough to build a complete bomb. Asking Ran to let you receive military-grade explosive is a risky proposition at this point, so you’d better head over to the village lab tomorrow.

“In the event that a humanoid youkai attacks someone, what’s our course of action?” Caleb asks.

The room goes silent.

“It’d be a violation of the truce.” Marisa says, looking him in the eye. “Everyone knows it. They’d be or hunted down.”

Keine nods. “Human and Youkai would both go after them. Thankfully, this hasn’t happened in over a decade, and I don’t believe it will happen in the coming nights.”

The rest of the meeting concludes not long after, with Marisa all but dashing for the exit. As everyone else stands up to leave, Raiko turns to face you with a relaxed grin.

“You know, I’ve heard that you know a thing or two about slinging lightning. How do you feel about dueling me with it, once you’re back up to full?”

“Sounds fine by me.” You answer. “Although you’ll have to wait in line behind Meiling.”

She laughs at that. “Ha! Alright, then. Just stop by when you’re ready. In fact, visit whenever. It can get too quiet in the Forest at times.” With that, she and her drums walk out the door.

Something else catches your attention. Byakuren approaches Miko, opening her mouth to speak to the Taoist leader before she leaves. She barely gets a few words out before she’s interrupted.

“My blade will not falter against the enemies of humanity.” Miko says, not even turning to face Byakuren. “I advise you to follow my example.”

Something about Byakuren’s posture in that moment reminds you that she was locked in Hell for a reason. It passes, however, and she turns to your group with anxiety in her eyes before leaving herself.

Meanwhile, Caleb calls out to Keine. “Excuse me, Keine, but it seems like we aren’t going to have enough time to discuss things tonight.”

She looks up from the papers lying across the table and sighs. “Yes, these events have taken us all by surprise. I don’t think I’ll have much time in the coming days, so I took the liberty of writing down the relevant information. I hope that it’ll answer any questions you may have.” Keine passes a thick envelope to each of you, then stands up, yawning.

“I apologize, but I should head home. It’s getting late. Eirin’s told me that you don’t need to sleep as much, but I still think that you three should turn in as well.” She says, glancing at you. “Charlotte in particular. How have your dreams been?”

---

[ ] They’ve been fine.
[ ] They’ve been weird.
- [ ] It’s nothing to worry about, though.
- [ ] I think I need help dealing with them.
>> No. 187789
[X] They’ve been weird.
- [X] It’s nothing to worry about, though.
>> No. 187790
[X] They’ve been weird.
- [X] It’s nothing to worry about, though.
>> No. 187791
[X] They’ve been weird.
- [X] It’s nothing to worry about, though.
>> No. 187792
[x] They’ve been weird.
-[x] I think I need help dealing with them.

It makes sense that Miko would eagerly stand in defense of humanity, but I never thought about it.

I wonder what is worrying Byakuren though.
>> No. 187793
[X] They've been interesting...
-[x] Perhaps you can help me decode them?
>> No. 187794
[x] They’ve been weird.
- [x] It’s nothing to worry about, though.

I think we can deal with the dreams on our own. But just in case it becomes a danger to us at some point, we should clue the others in slightly.
>> No. 187795
[X] They’ve been weird.
- [X] It’s nothing to worry about, though.
>> No. 187796
File 145913063311.jpg - (898.28KB, 1032x1500, 30a936b57ba68b1ddd8037c5b2ed9ec0.jpg) [iqdb]
187796
[X] They’ve been weird.
[X] It’s nothing to worry about, though.

---

“My dreams have been unusual.” You admit, putting your hand on the back of your head.

Keine’s eyes narrow. “Unusual in what way?”

“Nothing much. People talking, past events, butterflies doing weird things.” You tell her. “I don’t think it’s a big deal.”

She doesn’t look sure. “Butterflies? If you can remember that particular element, it might be important. I’m not familiar with dream interpretation, but I think you should get it looked at if it recurs. Call me superstitious, but I’ve learned to err on the side of caution in my life here.”

“I’ll keep that in mind.” You tell her. “Thanks, Keine.”


She smiles back at you. “It’s nothing, miss McGallagher. Have a good night.”

The three of you have the room to yourselves after Keine leaves.

“Are you sure it’s nothing to worry about?” Caleb pings.

“Pretty sure.” You reply. “I mean, didn’t you also get visited by Yukari?”

He scowls. “Yeah. I don’t appreciate people trying to mess with me in my sleep.”


“Sounds like you guys should start sleeping with a dreamcatcher out.” Junko says. “I wasn’t the only one who kept one from Solomon Island, right?”

“I guess I’ll start wearing mine to bed, then.” You say.

“Same. We’ll just have to see how this situation develops.” Caleb pings. “About the upcoming hunt - If nothing else, this sounds like a good way to build standing with the villagers.”

“Are you sure there isn’t going to be a real threat?” Junko replies.

“Not to any of the locals, assuming they aren’t pants-on-head stupid. Definitely not to one of us.” He answers. “Honestly, Marisa could deal with the bonedaddy solo with that spark of hers, but Charlotte can do that AND make it come to her.”

“I’m thinking we should space out our patrols, assuming they let us have input.” He says. “The Tsukumogami village is too new to have any strong political ties, and Raiko doesn’t strike me as carrying deep-seated grudges. Like she said, they need strong allies. We need local allies.”

“A fine match.” You say. “Still, because they’re so new, I don’t think they’ll have as much knowledge of Gensokyo’s past.”

Personally, you’re looking forward to the opportunity for some good, wholesome smiting of nocturnal horrors.

Junko shrugs. “Plenty of other sources for that. What I’m really curious about is Yuuka’s remark about the Hakurei Shrine. You know, the bit about ‘deep foundations-”

A knock on the door interrupts your silent conversation. “Hello?” Byakuren’s voice calls out. What’s she still doing here?

She lets herself in, closing the door without sound. Her hands are clasped together in front of her, tight enough to bring the knuckles into relief.

Byakuren musters a weak smile. “Hello. I’m sorry to approach you in such a way, but I didn’t believe that it was a good time to voice my concerns earlier.”

“Concerns?” You ask. “Is there some gap in your defenses?”

She shakes her head. “No, we have that matter under control. What I’m worried about is the village.”

Byakuren deliberates on her next words. “There has been... stability... for a long time. Mutual acceptance, for longer than I’ve been here, in large part thanks to Reimu. It hasn’t been perfect, but it has let people, both human and Youkai, grow together.”

“But due to these attacks, people are scared and hurt, especially without Reimu to provide assurance.” She goes on. “I’ve gone into the village to see for myself, and they aren’t going to be satisfied without lashing back at the ferals.”

You frown. “What’s wrong with that?”

“The peace is fragile.” Her voice drops, almost to a whisper. “I told you some of it at Eientei, Charlotte. Acceptance, for my brother’s temple and my brother’s dream, has always been tenuous. The villagers are hesitant to let go of past scars.”

“There’s also the people who went missing at the Shrine.” Junko pings. “Twenty bucks says that issue gets conflated with this one and people get even more riled up.”

“You’ve seen the plans.” Byakuren says. “They haven’t had a hunt this big for decades.”

“I get it now.” Caleb pings. “She’s scared, probably because of what went down in the Heian Period.”

You scoff. “What, she thinks her temple’s going to get raided again?”

“No, but she is afraid that hate for the ferals will transfer at least in part to hate for humanoids.” He replies. “It’s not a totally unreasonable fear.”


You all take a moment to contemplate Byakuren. She’s formidable, to say nothing of her followers, and although you haven’t checked this particular dynamic out, they seem to be respected enough. Whatever concerns Byakuren has, ‘existential’ does not currently describe them.

“So it’s an ideological issue.” Junko pings.

“I’d be more touched by this appeal to human-occult relations if the person making it hadn’t been so eager to manipulate both for personal gain.” Caleb says.

And he doesn’t even know about the whole Nue business. Sheesh.

You’ve kept her waiting in silence for a while, though, and Byakuren is starting to look more uncomfortable.

“We think we understand where you’re coming from.” You tell her. “But what are you asking of us?”

“You musn’t treat this like a mere sport, as Miko will.” She says, disdain flashing across her face before she looks away. “I would ask you to not dispatch these misguided creatures wantonly or cruelly. Please keep your compassion close.”

Caleb frowns. “None of us inflict suffering for its own sake, Lady Byakuren. It’s unprofessional.”

When it comes down to it, Byakuren is asking you to trade standing with just about everyone else for standing with her, and from her nervous expression, she knows it.

---

[ ] There is a place for compassion and it isn’t here.
-[ ] These monsters need to either learn fear or go extinct.
-[ ] We’ll be mindful, but we have our jobs to do.
[ ] We will limit our involvement in the hunt.
-[ ] We expect some moderate favor owed in exchange.
-[ ] We expect moderate support in future endeavors.
>> No. 187797
[X] There is a place for compassion and it isn’t here.
-[X] We’ll be mindful, but we have our jobs to do. That said, cruelty has no place in the hunt either.
>> No. 187798
[x] We will limit our involvement in the hunt.
-[x] We expect moderate support in future endeavors.

I think this is the only way to avoid the bad end where she closes into herself more and more until she becomes susceptible to the taint. Do not want Byakuren dead end.
>> No. 187799
File 145913580239.png - (120.59KB, 465x558, 46d0a2710e8d76fb5c9d87026ec2cbca.png) [iqdb]
187799
>>187798
>> No. 187800
[x] We will limit our involvement in the hunt.
-[x] We expect moderate support in future endeavors
>> No. 187801
[x] We will limit our involvement in the hunt.
-[x] We expect moderate support in future endeavors.

I'm assuming this doesn't preclude us taking care of the Gashadokuro and the like. There's a real threat here, and not just to humans, as Raiko's presence shows.
>> No. 187802
[X] There is a place for compassion and it isn’t here.
-[X] We’ll be mindful, but we have our jobs to do.
We have a job to do, and we're going to do it whether she likes it or not.
>> No. 187803
>>187801
You'll still be killing the bonedaddy, it's just that Byakuren doesn't want you to exterminate everything.
>> No. 187805
So am I the only one who thinks some of Byakuren's followers may have been involved in the attack, and that's a factor in what was worrying her? Probably not the named UFO crew, but I could see her trying to teach some of the ferals Buddhism, and if that didn't work out for youkai like Yamame I doubt Byakuren would have much more luck with these types. Beyond that, even if allegedly no humanoid youkai were involved, I wouldn't be surprised if Nue had felt like disguising herself and getting involved in human hunting/scaring.

Will actually avoid voting just yet, since it's fairly close. I'm sympathetic to Byakuren, but the Chosen might have a lot to lose here from visibly siding with her, judging by
>asking you to trade standing with just about everyone else for standing with her

Bee, I'm trying to remember, do you generally accept write-ins? Am trying to think of a compromise-inclined one.
>> No. 187806
>>187805
Write-ins are allowed.
>> No. 187807
[X] There is a place for compassion and it isn’t here.
-[X] We’ll be mindful, but we have our jobs to do. That said, cruelty has no place in the hunt either.
>> No. 187808
File 145921929411.jpg - (8.70KB, 126x126, 1412550528745-0.jpg) [iqdb]
187808
>>187799
SON OF A BITCH I KNEW IT
>> No. 187813
[x] >>187800
-[x] Do you suspect that some of your followers may be involved?
>> No. 187820
>You'll still be killing the bonedaddy, it's just that Byakuren doesn't want you to exterminate everything.

So what would the other two be doing while we fight that thing? We already said we can only take one other person to fight it, and I can't see how they could sit this out now without pissing everyone off. I'm not sure I understand what these choices entail.

[x] Whichever choice means we hunt, but not obliterate, the weak ones.
>> No. 187822
>>187820
The other two would be hunting elsewhere, probably to build standing with other groups and to see what they're capable of. Having them accompany you would be overkill, though I guess you could cajole Caleb into providing overwatch.

Does that answer help?
>> No. 187841
>>187822
So they'll be doing that even if we choose "limit our involvement in the hunt"? That's even more confusing. There doesn't seem to be any difference between the choices.
>> No. 187842
>>187841
[ ] There is a place for compassion and it isn’t here.
Basically telling Byakuren to shove it, you're monster exterminators, they're monsters, do the math. The more you kill, the more respect you gain with certain groups i.e. the human village while conversely becoming distrusted by groups such as Myouren temple who are uncomfortable with the idea of unkillable human super soldiers slaughtering every feral they can find.

[ ] We will limit our involvement in the hunt.
You're still monster hunters and there are still monsters that need hunting, but now you're going to refrain from a heavy show of force. Other groups will be disappointed that you aren't putting your muscle into it, but Byakuren will either give you some favor (such as information they would otherwise not share) or will come to trust you more since you are demonstrating that you aren't a genocidal murderhobo.
>> No. 187843
[x] We will limit our involvement in the hunt.
-[x] We expect moderate support in future endeavors.

>>187842
how does the "We’ll be mindful, but we have our jobs to do." sub-choice factor into the first part then? because the tone doesn't quite seem to match the explanation...
>> No. 187844
>>187843
Not the guy, but it sounds like a meaningless pleasantry to me.

You can't have your cake and eat it, either you kill only what you have to or you kill everything.

Showing mercy to things that eat humans decreases our standing with human factions, killing every thing that eats humans, even when they're not actively trying to do so, decreases our standings with groups that can afford to be charitable.
>> No. 187845
-[x] We’ll be mindful, but we have our jobs to do. We'll try not to make a grand show of it.
>> No. 187848
[X] We'll control our presence in the hunts. In return, we expect support in our future endeavors.

Basically, you'll deal with the biggest threats i.e. Gashadokuro rather than actually being MMO characters and killing everything. Hopefully, this will not encourage anti-youkai sentiment as much.

>>187844
Yeah, the question there was mostly a matter of flavor. I figured I might as well provide a choice for how you would say it. Is that generally a bad decision for quest writing, considering that I offered a different choice altogether?
>> No. 187864
>>187848
>Yeah, the question there was mostly a matter of flavor. I figured I might as well provide a choice for how you would say it. Is that generally a bad decision for quest writing, considering that I offered a different choice altogether?

Bit late, but for my two cents: as a reader, if there are different choices offered I'll generally assume some sort of tangible difference will result from them. Admittedly, how we'll say something could qualify for that. But before you clarified I did think that the "monsters must learn fear" vs. "we'll be mindful" choice, for instance, would have some effect on how Byakuren would view us afterwards. (Basically, one losing us slightly fewer points with her, if nothing else.)

So I don't think it's a bad decision as such to have subvotes of this kind, but IMO in general it's nice to have the impression our choices are significant, as opposed to 'meaningless pleasantries' as another anon put it. (Which is why I wanted to do a write-in, just couldn't think of a good compromise, but I'm happy with the non-murderhobo outcome so it may not matter much.)
>> No. 187866
>>187864
Ok, I'll keep that in mind.
>> No. 187900
File 145998708130.jpg - (120.23KB, 640x480, 061b0982e1848eac74187b56954773a6.jpg) [iqdb]
187900
[X] We’ll control our presence in the hunt. In return, we expect support in our future endeavors.

---

“You’re sure about this?” You ping.

Asking a Templar to hold back from a monster hunt feels wrong on an intrinsic level, like placing a firefighter in front of a burning house and telling them to sit and watch.

On another level, your superiors aren’t going to be pleased if Junko becomes dominant over the villagers instead of you. She’s already got a head start from clearing the house and beating Tenshi.

“I think it’ll pay off later.” Caleb replies. “We’re still going after the biggest threats, so we’ll still have some presence.”

“I thought you said you didn’t trust her.” Junko pings, glancing at Byakuren.

“I don’t, but she isn’t going to screw us over, because then we’ll just go back to doing what we do best.” He answers. “If nothing else, she does care a hell of a lot about her temple, and we can leverage that.”

“I still don’t like it, but I’ll go along with it.” You say. “Preserving stability and all that.”

You wish you had Australian Templar here. There wouldn’t be any hemming and hawing about preserving the fragile feelings of predatory skeletons, only shouts of “YOUKAI ON THE BARBIE!”

“Alright then.” Junko nods. “We should at least study the local balance before trying to change it.”

You turn to Byakuren. “Alright, we’re still going to help the villagers, but we won’t make a show of it. Some of these things need to die. I doubt that the villagers will be thrilled, but you’re right. We’ll do what we can to keep things stable.” You add. “We just hope that you’ll support us as well, should the need arise.”

Is that how you’re supposed to say that? It sounds so... mercenary.

Byakuren seems fine with it, though, nodding as you finish.

“Of course. Thank you all for understanding, and don’t worry.” She says, bowing her head. “I won’t forget your help.”

---

You all leave shortly afterwards. Byakuren heads for the eastern gate, and the three of you head over to the new safehouse.

It’s a one-story wood and brick building. The roof and walls are weathered, but not decrepit, and the floor creaks under your weight. Once you get inside, you and Caleb immediately begin looking at how defensible it is.

“The walls can be reinforced somewhat, but it won’t be enough against anything worth defending from.” He says, looking into the kitchen. “Of course, since everyone here can fly, the roof is the real weak point.”

“Hopefully we won’t be pissing anyone off that much.” You reply, looking around. “So, how about a counter-surveillance or counter-intrusion angle? I might need to set up a workshop away from the Village, and I don’t like the idea of Marisa dropping in and helping herself to my things.”

“That would be doable.” He says after a moment of thought. “I think I could figure out a way to tag things. If they were to go missing, they would leave a trail to the thief. Still, I think the best security we’d get is by not having anything sitting around to steal. As for counter-surveillance...”

Caleb shrugs. “Well, you’re out of spare drones. I could set some bugs around the perimeter, but they’d be less reliable. Contracting this out to a demon or animating a scarecrow wouldn’t be worth the bad publicity. For now, I’ll go set up some wards.”

“You guys know there’s a basement, right?” Junko says, leaning against a wall. “It’s at least a bit more private. There should be just enough room for all of us to work, as long as we don’t let messes pile up.”

You take a look for yourself, using an old ladder leading down from a corner of the kitchen. The basement turns out to be a stone-walled room, with a few small windows, that the previous occupants used for storage. There’s nothing left but empty containers and shelves, but you see some use for this place once you get a workstation set up.

---

It looks like you’re back to reading reports for tonight. You should start doing your own evaluations of the major groups and individuals soon, but you need a foundation for now.

You’ll have to figure out what to do with your dreams as well. It’s not quite clear what’s going on, but someone is clearly interfering with them. Whether that interference will prove benign is less clear.

You should keep a dream journal. If weird stuff is going to keep happening, you might as well document it.

Anyways, about your objectives - You could offer to train the village guards. It would give you a better understanding of their capabilities and help them stand on their own. As a bonus, you wouldn’t be breaking your word with Byakuren, although she and other skeptical groups still wouldn’t be excited to see a stronger human presence.

You still don’t have leads on either the missing AI’s or the previous Templars, although Keine’s report might have some clues.

Studying recent technological developments of the Kappa seems like a good plan. Sudden breakthroughs in robotics, computing, nuclear power, or similar fields could indicate reverse-engineering of Templar tech.

On the topic of Executor Krissoff, Rika did mention that some were buried around Muenzuka. The Templar are notorious for their hatred of necromancy, but they put down too many of the restless dead to be unfamiliar with it. If you tracked down the grave of one of the task force, your status as a fellow Templar might be enough to anchor them back for a conversation.

This sort of thing tends to be minor to most afterlives, akin to running a red light, but the one here sounds particularly strict. Yuuka went out of her way to warn you that Eiki might send reapers after you, so giving the yama further cause is risky. You could always research in a more conventional way.

You rub your face. Still, all of this will have to be figured out tomorrow. You need to prep for the hunt and give Seikibanki her duel, so you’ll have to be careful with your time tomorrow.

---

Select up to three reports. Cross-referencing counts as one report.

[ ] Moriya Shrine: Kanako Yasaka, Suwako Moriya, Sanae Kochiya
[ ] Myouren Temple: Byakuren Hijiri, Shou Toramaru, Ichirin Kumoi & Unzan, Murasa Minamitsu, Nazrin
[ ] Taoists: Toyosatomimi no Miko, Mononobe no Futo, Soga no Tojiko, Seiga Kaku
[ ] Human Village Sub-factions (New)
[ ] Human Village Relations (New)
[ ] Cross-Reference (up to three)
- [ ] Mamizou Futatsuiwa
- [ ] Reisen Udongein Inaba
- [ ] Tewi Inaba
- [ ] Remilia Scarlet
- [ ] Flandre Scarlet
- [ ] Patchouli Knowledge
- [ ] Sakuya Izayoi

To clarify, being more knowledgeable about groups will increase your chances of success when working with or against them, and exposes tactics, abilities, and vulnerabilities that you might otherwise have had to discover the hard way.

While Templar records are thorough, most of them are also several hundred years out of date in this case. Furthermore, they can’t feed you intel on ‘native’ groups, such as the Tengu. More insightful information will, by and large, have to come from within Gensokyo.
>> No. 187901
[X] Myouren Temple: Byakuren Hijiri, Shou Toramaru, Ichirin Kumoi & Unzan, Murasa Minamitsu, Nazrin
[X] Human Village Sub-factions
[X] Cross-Reference
-[X] Mamizou Futatsuiwa
>> No. 187902
[X] Moriya Shrine: Kanako Yasaka, Suwako Moriya, Sanae Kochiya
[X] Myouren Temple: Byakuren Hijiri, Shou Toramaru, Ichirin Kumoi & Unzan, Murasa Minamitsu, Nazrin
[X] Human Village Sub-factions (New)
>> No. 187903
[X] Moriya Shrine: Kanako Yasaka, Suwako Moriya, Sanae Kochiya
[X] Myouren Temple: Byakuren Hijiri, Shou Toramaru, Ichirin Kumoi & Unzan, Murasa Minamitsu, Nazrin
[X] Human Village Sub-factions (New)
>> No. 187909
[X] Moriya Shrine: Kanako Yasaka, Suwako Moriya, Sanae Kochiya
[X] Myouren Temple: Byakuren Hijiri, Shou Toramaru, Ichirin Kumoi & Unzan, Murasa Minamitsu, Nazrin
[X] Human Village Sub-factions (New)
>> No. 187994
File 14611324586.jpg - (1.33MB, 1262x1500, 6c992d18ea5dd80a5c8f2a3eb03c17c3.jpg) [iqdb]
187994
Byakuren followed her younger brother into the Buddhist clergy in her mid-twenties, though Byakuren followed the Tendai sect at Enryaku temple while Myouren pursued Shingon at Todai temple. The two rose through the ranks through a combination of diligence and proaction in resolving disputes between humans and youkai. However, their lenience towards youkai bred suspicion among their peers.

Byakuren’s descent began in 1069 when Myouren was killed at the age of 50. He had been trying with little success to mediate between a local magistrate and a clan of tengu. The magistrate came to see Myouren as an obstacle to his own power and had him executed. When Byakuren found out, she was beside herself with grief and anger. However, she soon discovered that neither her temple, her brother’s temple, nor the tengu themselves cared enough to help.

At that point, Byakuren severed ties with her temple, ostensibly going into self-exile. It was the last that most expected to see of her.

In reality, she had begun colluding with demons in order to gain personal power. Myouren’s death had incited both a fear of her own mortality and a desire for revenge. Byakuren brokered numerous deals with the Hell dimensions for youth, power, and knowledge in exchange for souls.

Using her unfamiliar, younger appearance, Byakuren fomented distrust and hostility between humans and youkai. Villagers would go missing in the night, and their grieving families would beg the conveniently-nearby nun to deliver justice. Youkai would be tipped off about vulnerable caravans and charge into ambushes. In either case, Byakuren would deposit her victims through Hellrifts to be drained of Anima by greedy demons. In exchange, Byakuren received transfusions of power from Hell and adoration from those she had fooled.

We hope it is clear to you why we remain skeptical of Byakuren Hijiri.

She began to have a change of heart in the twilight of the Heian period, when she met the individuals who are now her most loyal followers. Perhaps in an attempt to wash her hands of blood both human and youkai, she founded the Myouren temple. It is likely that she chose the name in memory of how Myouren never wavered in his own pursuit of peace.

Not long after, the Jingu clan discovered evidence of her earlier duplicity and contacted us for assistance. It is unclear whether Byakuren continued her crimes during this period, though eyewitness reports all agree on how little she appeared to age.

In any case, we saw a treacherous magus, who had hoarded power by deceiving and sacrificing both humans and youkai to Hell, gathering large numbers of humans and youkai together. For all we knew, she was planning on feeding her entire flock to demons.

The rest is history. Most of the temple lost faith and fled upon hearing the truth. The rest fought desperately to keep our forces from entering the temple, but a team of Jingu warriors (whose names have unfortunately been lost) were able to slip past the defenders. It is believed that they pushed Byakuren through a hellrift she had opened earlier in the battle to draw power from. This caused the portal to destabilize, drawing in almost all of the temple (half-transformed into a ship at this point) and its defenders.

---

Name: Byakuren, Hijiri
Species: Human* (Greater Magus)
Age: 1012 (b. December 17th, 1014)
Birthplace: Hakuba, Japan
Proficiencies: Fists, Blood Magic, Diabolism
Disposition: Pious, Duplicitous, Matronly, Guilty

Byakuren appears serene and benevolent, but lacks true inner calm. Similarly to Remilia Scarlet, her composed exterior reveals internal weakness during intense stress. Despite this, she is a charismatic leader and a capable administrator who inspires great loyalty and admiration from her followers. This is evident in her liberation by her closest followers. While we are not particularly fond of the object of their devotion, their effort to recover her merits respect.

The purple discoloration in her hair is a result of prolonged exposure to Hell and hints at less visible changes to her physiology. Furthermore, her scroll has been upgraded with the addition of exotic Hellish materials. If anything, she has become more dangerous.

Before her banishment, she was obsessed with her brother’s passing, her own mortality, and the means by which she could learn from the first to escape the second. Though now immortal, it is possible that her reawakened conscience leads her to regret how her brother’s legacy will always be tainted by her fraud and murder.

This matches your report concerning her behavior and position in Gensokyo. This incarnation of the Myouren temple does appear to be more wholesome than its predecessor, although we still advise caution in your dealings with her. Byakuren’s vision of equality remains untenable, and the fallout from its inevitable failure will be messy.

As perhaps the only leader in Gensokyo that openly advocates for human-occult balance, however flawed, Byakuren may be useful for preserving preserving interspecies stability once distrust of us has been overcome. Furthermore, while any information on Gensokyo’s local hellscape would be valuable, it may be unwise to revisit the topic with her.

Altogether, Byakuren is closer to being the enlightened savior that she pretended to be in Heian Japan, she is still insufficient and at best will only be able to delay human-youkai conflict. Her actions have shown awareness of this fact, and her fear of repeating past mistakes will prove a powerful motivator.

Fists: Byakuren is a master of several mundane and supernatural disciplines. While your colleagues may be able to hold their own against her at least temporarily, your own lack of supernatural hand-to-hand training makes keeping distance critical. Byakuren’s enhanced athleticism and the prevalence of flight in Gensokyo will make that difficult.

Blood Magic: Byakuren uses Blood Magic almost exclusively to empower herself, granting extreme durability, regeneration, speed, reflexes, and strength. Your electromagnetic Elementalism should be able to disrupt any enchantment she is capable of casting. Failing that, removing access to Byakuren’s scroll should weaken her to a lesser degree.

Diabolism: Byakuren has extensively studied Hellish magic and fighting styles. She can conjure hellish winds and hellfire to inflict severe damage on unprotected targets, though these effects are mid-ranged at best.

---

Name: Toramaru, Shou
Species: Bengal Tiger (Occulted, Avatar)
Age: approx 960 (b. Approx 1050)
Birthplace: India
Proficiencies: Spears, Transmutation (via Pagoda)
Disposition: Earnest, Emotional, Diligent

Shou has a pleasant and honest demeanor, but can be surprisingly immoderate given her position and professed religion. Akyuu’s entry suggests that her love of drink is alive and well. Favor has been lost over lesser infractions, though Bishamonten seems to be fond of her indeed if she is still able to use the Pagoda.

An interesting thing to note is that, as an Avatar of Bishamonten, Shou is supposed to outrank Byakuren. Shou is actually second in command in the Myouren temple, though she appears perfectly content in her position.

Shou’s public Memento entry claims that she is not skilled in combat and that spear she carries is ornamental. This is mostly false. While it is true that Shou embodies Bishamonten’s domain of treasure rather than war, she remains a capable fighter, with the potential to inflict severe damage using the Pagoda. It is likely that Shou’s description in the Memento was designed to reassure the Human Village. As an Avatar of Bishamonten, people would look to her as a source of blessings, and as such it would be important to appear approachable in order to attract visitors and potential disciples to the temple.

The ammunition requirement for the Pagoda hinders the Buddhists from abusing it in order to hoard wealth, as Shou almost literally needs to burn through money to use it efficiently. Nonetheless, it could be used to give the Myouren temple a significant economic advantage. Based on our experience with similar artefacts, it is likely that Shou and Nazrin are the only individuals in Gensokyo capable of using the Pagoda unless there are others favored by Bishamonten.

Spears: Shou is proficient in the use of spears, but not enough to pose a significant threat to a fighter of your caliber.

Pagoda: The Pagoda is a 3rd age artefact bestowed upon Shou by Bishamonten. Akyuu writes that it comprises 80% of Shou’s total power, and we are inclined to agree. In combat, it projects laser-like beams of light that are capable of curving to follow their target. Anything struck is either incinerated or transmuted into precious materials, such as gold or gemstone. The Pagoda has a lengthy recharge period that can be exploited, but that can be shortened by fuelling it with precious materials. As a result, Shou can maintain fire with minimal pause in an ideal situation. Engaging her from extreme range or at close range should yield the best results.

---

Name: Kumoi, Ichirin
Species: Unclear (Formerly human)
Age: approx 955 (b. Approx 1060)
Birthplace: Nara, Japan
Proficiencies: Fists,
Disposition: Zealous, Tenacious, Outgoing

Name: Unzan
Species: Mikoshi-Nyudo
Age: approx 940 (b. Approx 1045)
Birthplace: Nara, Japan
Proficiencies: Fists, Shapeshifting
Disposition: Shy, Stubborn, Dutiful

This duo can almost be thought of as a single entity. Despite being individuals, Ichirin and Unzan do almost everything in unison to a degree that is unseen outside of specialized cases, such as Tsukumogami. Due to Unzan’s extreme shyness, Ichirin is the de-facto decision maker and speaker. Most consider Unzan to be a fluffy pink accessory or pet. Do not make that mistake.

To her allies, Ichiren is bright, cheery, and helpful. To her enemies, she is the exact opposite. Her interactions with you before the shrine battle have demonstrated this to you, although she may soften her attitude given time.

Fists: Though less experienced that Byakuren, Ichirin and Unzan are highly capable in fist combat. Her style is characterized by using rapid, high-impact punches from both her and Unzan to overwhelm their target. It is further distinct from Byakuren’s in that it incorporates a berserker state in which she can ignore all but the most debilitating injuries. She can’t do much beyond punching range, but Unzan is always present to ferry her.

Shapeshifting: This is what sets the pair apart from other brawlers. Due to Unzan’s ability as a Mikoshi-Nyudo to shapeshift, Ichirin always has either a flanker, a mount, a weapon, or a second pair of arms to punch with. While it is true that Ichirin is the ‘face’ of the partnership, ignoring Unzan in a fight with her is foolish. Strong magical attacks will be effective against Unzan due to his semi-corporeal state, and will consequently leave Ichirin much weaker.

---

Name: Murasa, Minamitsu
Species: Spectre
Age: approx 954 (b. approx 1062, d. Approx 1085)
Birthplace: Oki Islands, Japan
Proficiencies: Hammers, Hydrokinesis
Disposition: Obsessive, Eloquent, Unstable

Records show that Murasa was a sailor’s daughter who drowned when their ship capsized during a storm. Survivors raised an uproar over allegations that the captain had immediately abandoned ship, leaving his crew and passengers to die. Before anything could be done about the situation, however, the captain bought another ship and attempted to flee. He didn’t get far before his newly-constructed ship sank in full view of the harbor.

This was Murasa’s first sinking, claiming over ten lives. Over the next three years, she would be attributed with approximately 140 direct kills in total. Her disruption of shipping led to food shortages that might inflate that amount.

She was ultimately exorcised by a wandering nun in 1088 who declined to be named, according to imperial sources. In reality, the nun was a reinvigorated Byakuren who released Murasa, who then anchored herself to her savior instead of her shipwreck.

She was far more reclusive during that time, as both she and Byakuren surely recognized that the presence of a murderous ghost, ‘reformed’ or not, would be bad PR. Another aspect is that Murasa has never shown any signs of actual interest in Buddhist teachings. It is likely that Byakuren was and remains Murasa’s reason for remaining in the world of the living.

Akyuu writes that although personable and friendly, Murasa still poses a threat to those who spend time around water. Though we cannot verify first point, we can confirm the second. Due to the circumstances of her death, Murasa will likely demonstrate more unstable and violent behavior in the presence of large amounts of water.

Hammers: Murasa uses her anchor in combat as a hammer to pulverize her targets. Combined with her selective tangibility, this allows her to strike hard from unexpected angles. While she can’t do much outside of close range, she can easily close the distance.

Hydrokinesis: Murasa carries a ritual ladle which is capable of conjuring large amounts of water which she can manipulate as attacks. Common uses are flooding enclosed spaces, knocking down targets, and impeding movement. Murasa will almost certainly attempt to kill targets by drowning as long as there is enough water. Elementalism should be able to counter her hydrokinesis, and magical attacks in general should be effective against her incorporeal form.

---

Name: Nazrin
Species: Mouse, indeterminate subspecies (Occulted)
Age: approx 974 (b. approx 1042)
Birthplace: Unknown
Proficiencies: Summoning (Mice)
Disposition: Dutiful, distrustful, timid

Nazrin was a disciple of Bishamonten sent to prepare Shou for becoming an Avatar. She succeeded, and decided to remain with the newly-promoted Shou as a subordinate. As such, she is far less devoted to Byakuren than other temple members, but not to an exploitable degree.

Her dowsing ability is highly interesting. Using her dowsing rods and cohort of rodents, Nazrin is able to locate precious metals, magical signatures, scents, etc. with a high degree of accuracy. We predict that there are many areas, such as Youkai mountain and the Underground, where her ability to detect and retrieve items of value will be impaired.

Due to her ability to gather information through rodents, we recommend rat-proofing your safehouse as soon as possible. Killing her rodents is inadvisable at this time as her dowsing ability makes her too useful to alienate without further provocation.

Though she has little direct combat ability, Nazrin is a strong tactician. Most of the better tactical decisions made by Byakuren seem to have originated from her.

Summoning: Nazrin can summon and control a wide variety of mice and rats. They are primarily used to help her search for treasure, and they often provide useful intelligence for her in the process. In combat, most of their value comes from their reconnaissance, although they can be used offensively to overwhelm targets by weight of numbers.

---

It looks like almost all of the Myouren Temple VIP’s started out as bandits or similar nuisances before being recruited by Byakuren. Shou stowed away on a ship from India and is thought to have resorted to highway robbery. Ichiren and Unzan became mercenaries after being rejected by both humans and youkai. Murasa haunted a bay by sinking passing ships.

You’re getting an impression of brute force from their combat profiles. Their strengths lie in bashing stuff at close range with the exception of Shou, who blasts stuff from mid-range. Nazrin seems to be the only dedicated tactician among them, and she doesn’t even spend most of her time at the temple.

As for their history... Byakuren’s present relationship with Nue proves that she’s not as spotless as she would like people to believe, but she’s not the same villain from a thousand years ago. You’re not even speaking about your own experience with her - people here aren’t idiots, and nobody would tolerate her if she was shoving people through portals to Hell. Miko’s verbal daggers would be literal ones if she had the chance to eliminate her religious rival and be hailed as a defender of the common good.

And on the topic of the common good, at least Byakuren is reaching out to you to try and maintain it. Even if you don’t agree on the exact balance of power she has in mind, their goals are in the right direction and you can work with that.

It’s odd that in another time and place, you would have shot her back to hell without any doubt. Now, she looks like more like an ally than most.
>> No. 187997
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187997
Name: Yasaka, Kanako
Species: God (Sky, Storms, War, Snakes, Technology, Action)
Age: Approx 2,300 (b. Approx 300 BCE, deified Approx 250BCE)
Birthplace: Sakurai, Japan
Proficiencies: Elementalism, Onbashira, Aerokinesis
Disposition: Authoritative, Short-sighted, Acquisitive

The Boshin War was the last time any Japanese god participated in battle as combatants. As a result, there has been no opportunity to evaluate Kanako’s tactics or abilities since 1868. Still, materials that you have provided from within Gensokyo suggest that she is still formidable.

Kanako is defined by both her need for control and her inflexibility. She is known to make increasingly poor decisions in situations that do not go according to plan, and as the recent history of Gensokyo would suggest, she is still apt to outfox herself. However, it should be noted that she and Suwako have had over two thousand years to perfect their partnership and learn to cover each other’s weaknesses.

Her addition of technology to her domains suggests that she is taking steps to avoid obsolescence and guide the technological development of Gensokyo using her own understanding of modern science. This may lead to conflict if you or your colleagues begin introducing modern technology to the human villagers.

In the event of a hostile encounter, victory will be dependent on striking first, ideally against Suwako.

Elementalism: Kanako uses electrical elementalism to strike down her targets from long range and ice elementalism to impair their movement as they come closer.

Onbashira: Onbashira are conjured for use at range as projectiles or in close quarters as bludgeons. Given their mass, even a grazing hit will result in severe injuries. Projectile Onbashira have demonstrated some guidance capability.

Aerokinesis: Used in combination with Elementalism to produce localized storms, driving opposing flyers from the sky, making it harder to hit her, and forcing ground targets to seek cover.

---

Name: Moriya, Suwako
Species: God (Earth, Water, Fertility, Frogs, Reaction)
Age: Approx 2,500 (b. Approx 500 BCE)
Birthplace: Suwa, Japan
Proficiencies: Blood Magic, Chaos Magic, Geokinesis, Hydrokinesis, Summoning (Mishaguji)
Disposition: Deceptive, Relaxed, Unstable

Due to diminished faith intake, Suwako has assumed a corporeal form of a young girl of varying age with a playful, carefree, and somewhat scatter-brained persona. It is critical to keep in mind that this is nothing more than an act, motivated by her desire to raise Sanae and come to terms with her (at the time) impending death due to faith deprivation. Since Sanae is now almost an adult herself and the faith income has stabilized, it is very likely that Suwako will return to scheming and interfering in mortal affairs in earnest.

Historically, Suwako has used her skills to sabotage food production, poison wells, and spread disease to weaken her foes into submission. However, it is unlikely that she will attempt this on a large scale in the confined environment of Gensokyo.Though she prefers sabotage to direct confrontation, Suwako is a versatile and effective combatant when the need arises, capable of adapting to unfamiliar situations as they unfold.

In the event of a hostile encounter, we recommend that you locate Suwako’s position and use explosives to flush her out. Suwako’s offensive capability against airborne targets is limited. However, Kanako is effective at forcing targets to take cover, presumably on the ground.

Geokinesis: Suwako’s weapon of choice allows her to crush, bury, or obstruct targets from long range. With the ability to detect targets through vibrations in the ground, it is almost impossible to escape her notice without Chaos magic. Tunnelling through the ground makes her highly mobile and difficult to detect.

Hydrokinesis: Her hydrokinetic attack is a pressurized jet of water and abrasive particulate, resembling a modern jet cutter in both mechanics and destructive effect. While devastating, it is suffers against distant or fast-moving targets, and requires prolonged contact for full effect.

Chaos & Blood: Her demonstrated abilities are powerful, though not particularly unique. Suwako’s access to healing, plagues, and evasion give her an advantage in prolonged battles. Standard countermeasures apply.

Mishaguji: These lesser curse deities take the form of white snake-like creatures varying wildly in size, with the largest recorded specimen having a girth of over six meters and a length of over sixty meters. Mishaguji stalk their prey by ‘swimming’ through the ground, surfacing to inflict blood plagues or bite. Small-arms fire has proven to be effective at penetrating their carapaces, although finding a clear shot will be difficult. They are intelligent and capable of understanding speech. It is worth noting that Mishaguji have difficulty travelling through harder sediment.

---

Name: Kochiya, Sanae
Species: Human* (Demigod)
Age: 20 (b. March 2nd, 1996)
Birthplace: Suwa, Japan
Proficiencies: Aerokinesis, Chaos Magic
Disposition: Excitable, Devoted, Insecure

We are surprised that Sanae was allowed to participate during the battle against the ‘Flappy’ creature. Our analysis suggests that while she has great potential, she is not powerful or experienced enough to face such a threat. This was likely the result of a miscommunication on the part of Sakuya Izayoi, who did not understand the magnitude of the threat at the time. It is fortunate that she survived the encounter, but we recommend not allowing her to participate in the event of a future outbreak.

In Japan proper, Sanae was observed to be a quiet, bookish child with few friends. She had difficulty relating to the mundane world, concealing her relationship with the occult, and coming to terms with having been given up for adoption by her biological parents. Since appearing in Gensokyo, it seems that she has become much more extroverted and eager to explore her powers and surroundings. Given your extensive experience with the occult, it is likely that she will seek you out in some way, although it is unlikely that her parents will approve.

Sanae has earned top marks in science before her disappearance to Gensokyo, and if mentions of her involvement in a cold fusion experiment are to be trusted, her aptitude has only increased. Talking with her could determine how close their technology comes to the current standard.

Aerokinesis: Accounts suggest that Sanae’s aerokinesis is not as developed as Kanako’s, but remains potent enough to be noteworthy and will likely increase in strength. Expect similar techniques.

Chaos Magic: Sanae’s ‘miracle’ effect is an expression of her innate affinity for Chaos Magic. By channelling power, she is able to affect various low-probability outcomes, such as weather, lightning strikes, lottery numbers, spontaneous combustion, etc. The more improbable the desired outcome, the longer Sanae must channel, limiting its combat effectiveness. At this time, we suspect that Sanae has not developed her Chaos Magic to a combat-effective level..

---

The primary products offered by the Moriya shrine appear to be blessings to agriculture, health, and water provided by Suwako, with secondary products being blessings to weather and industry from Kanako and various shamanic services from Sanae. Kanako and Sanae are responsible for attracting new followers, while Suwako handles performing most of the actual blessings and curses.

Realistically speaking, the Moriya are far more likely to oppose you through political means, rather than open combat. None of their curses should persistently affect you unless you started practicing agriculture. It seems that they have established themselves among the Tengu, though the relationship appears to be more transactional than reverent, and support among the Human and Kappa populations appears to be limited. Both historical records and materials from Gensokyo point to Kanako acting as the public face of the shrine, while Suwako performs most of the intervention.

We predict that Kanako and Suwako are likely to court your assistance for purposes related to securing faith. While they may be powerful allies, getting tangled into whatever scheme they attempt next could cost significant amounts of time and political capital for results ultimately detrimental or irrelevant to greater objectives.

---

The Moriya are definitely an interesting bunch. Sanae in particular sounds like a good connection to make. At Eientei, she gave you the impression of looking up to you and your friends, and the curiosity she displayed might draw her back with questions about past exploits. That’s something to keep an eye out for once she gets released.

Her parents, however, are more likely to see you as competitors. The better you do your job, the less need people will have for their patronage, causing them to become weaker and widening the gap...

Ran was onto something. The Moriya definitely won’t let you claim influence over the village without either a fight or some other settlement.

And yes, the report confirms that Suwako and Kanako are Sanae’s parents in every way that matters. They’ve been ritually married since the Yayoi period, and their marriage seems to have only grown stronger with the passage of time.

In fact, analysts believe that Kanako’s concern for Suwako’s declining health was the deciding factor in relocating to Gensokyo. They certainly have done an admirable job of raising Sanae. She’s pretty well-adjusted for someone born with divine power in their blood.

Your eyes narrow as they pass over a note mentioning that Kanako fought hard to keep Sanae out of a predatory ‘gifted child’ program targeting those with magical affinity. Good. Snake that she may be, Kanako doesn’t fuck around when her family is on the line.

Considering that they started out as leaders of rival kingdoms at war with each other, they’ve done well. Maybe they should look into adding “marriage counseling” to their domains.

Anyways, the Moriya present both an opportunity and an obstacle. On one hand, you have an stepping stone to Youkai Mountain, knowledge of how to pass through the Barrier, and a possible ally through Sanae. On the other hand, they’re going to be very sensitive about interfering with their faith income and unwilling to see you as equals unless you force them to.

It looks like you’ll just have to step around them for a while.
>> No. 187998
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187998
Most villagers are involved in farming, with the next largest profession being crafts and trade. Due to the many threats faced by humans throughout their history, the village is generally suspicious of all youkai and occult elements. During the tenure of previous Hakurei shamans, relations ranged from cold war to open war. Thankfully, Reimu’s oversight has led to an unprecedented thaw of relations between virtually every major group. Obstacles remain, but the trend of the past two decades has been peace and stability.

Puritans:
A small but vocal percent of the village continues to believe that all Youkai are threats. They frequently reference Templar and Jingu heritage, calling upon fellow villagers to remember historical grievances.They are disproportionately represented among the village’s wealthy and impoverished, and among the village guard, with Meira being one example.

I am confident that the villagers who were punished by Ran were members of this faction. There have always been people who felt that Reimu was an inadequate protector, and that the power of the Hakurei shrine was being wasted. The fact that this group actually made an attempt, no matter how crude or foolish, is a major threat to Gensokyo as a whole. I must ask that you not share knowledge of this. In the meanwhile, I will look into increasing security at the shrine, though recent events will mean a lack of spare guards. I would appreciate any assistance you could offer.

With the arrival of you three, word has quickly spread among them of human outsiders with advanced weapons, veteran experience, powerful magic, and no fear of Youkai. The Puritans are the most excited by your arrival, hoping that you and they can work together to assert human dominance.

Reformers:
A growing number of villagers are calling for improved relations with the Youkai of Gensokyo, and believe that humans and Youkai can coexist. Despite widespread distrust of Reimu due to her association with Youkai, Reformers rightfully view her as the greatest ally to the Human village.

Though I previously identified with the Puritans and disdain idolization of Reimu, I find myself more aligned with the Reformers today, along with Rikako. We are hopeful that you can contribute to the peace and find a way to bring the best aspects of modernity to the village.

It is worth noting that some of the most radically liberal villagers have attempted to ‘defect’ to the side of Youkai, either by trying to become one or by establishing cults to worship powerful figures. You may have heard about the incident involving Reimu and the fortune teller. These are dealt with as soon as they become known, and there are no cults currently active.

Village Youkai:
While the village is still not very welcoming to Youkai, things have improved to the point where a significant number of non-predatory Youkai now live in or around the village. Tsukumogami and miscellaneous humanoids comprise the majority, with significant Tengu and Kappa minorities. Youkai are still discouraged from spending time in areas such as the school and face scrutiny and distrust from the rest of the community, but are gradually winning acceptance. However, the recent Amanojaku incident has set tensions to a tipping point.

Out of all the groups within the village, the lesser youkai look upon your arrival with apprehension, especially now that rumor of Charlotte’s altercation with Wriggle has circulated. I will do what I can to discourage similar incidents, but you should still prepare for challengers if travelling alone.

Homesteaders:
Though it remains risky to do so, a small number of villagers choose to build homes for themselves away from the village. Most of these homesteaders live at the edge of the Forest of Magic or the Bamboo forest, and often work as woodcutters, hunters, and miners. Reasons for living on the outskirts of human territory are diverse. Some want to become friendlier with the occult, others believe that they are escaping from increasing youkai presence in the village, and others still seek more solitude that the village can offer. Regardless of personal motivation, any homesteader that has survived their first year has demonstrated a significant amount of self-sufficiency and resourcefulness.

---

Your eyelids are heavy after having read all that. While you did get a lot of information that will help you in the coming days, for now, you need to get some sleep.

You stand up and stretch. It looks like Junko’s already gone to sleep, and Caleb is covering the night shift.

“Getting some shuteye?” He says, glancing up at you from what looks to be Keine’s report on village relations.

“Yeah.” You say, suppressing a yawn. “Y’know, I just read that Byakuren could get Nazrin to spy on people using rats. I’m not sure what kind of intel you can expect from rodents, but do you think you could figure out a way to deter them?”

“I’ve got a few ideas. I’m guessing you want nonlethal options, though.” Caleb pauses, then raises his hand as beads of blood form around his fingertips. He gives each floating droplet a sniff before letting them soak back into his skin.

“I’ll mark entry points with predatory scents.” He says. “Nobody but the mice are going to notice unless they really go out of their way, and it should send a clear message to them.”

You thank him, then plod over to the door. Along the way, you find Junko sprawled on a sofa, snoring like an idling motor. Hopefully her dreams won’t be a bunch of cryptic mumbo-jumbo like yours.

You step outside, filling your lungs with the midnight air. After fishing about in your inventory, you take out a stout metal thurible, your dreamcatcher, and a vial of sage. You pack the herb in the censer and light it with a snap of your fingers before holding the dreamcatcher above the resulting smoke.

The cordage is frayed in some areas, surviving only by the grace of your simplistic needlework, and the feathers have begun to fade. Still, there’s a power in it that sets it apart from a cheap tourist gift You can feel that power begin to shine anew as the smoke washes over the dreamcatcher’s lattice, carrying away the stains and restoring its warm, brown-gold color.

With that taken care of, you head back inside and head to a bedroom, changing into sleepwear before hanging up the dreamcatcher and flopping onto the bed.

You take the same amount of pills as last night and let the day’s fatigue flow over you. There’s a butterfly that you need answers from, and the dreamcatcher should help you get them.

---

A low rumbling and rhythmic rocking jerks you awake as if you had dozed off. You open your eyes to find yourself on the same train you got knocked out in last time. The windows still show nothing but empty blackness, but at least you were seated instead of sprawled across the floor.

More importantly, a flash of movement catches your eye. You turn around to find the butterfly resting on the dreamcatcher’s web, sunning its wings in the artificial light of the train.

Your hand immediately reaches for your belt, despite knowing that your guns are almost certainly useless against it.

“So...” You start, sitting upright. “You’ve got something you want to say, right?”

The butterfly flits over to the intercom at the far end of the car. At the same time, you become aware of a familiar weight in your pocket. Sure enough, it’s the intercom key.

“I can’t say I completely understand what’s going on here, but there’s got to be a better way for us to talk than knocking me out every night.” You say, eyeing the bug. “I mean, seriously. At least buy me dinner first.”

Its wings start shaking, as if trying to contain laughter. After a moment, it composes itself and flies over to your hand. Your gut reaction is to draw your hand away, but you relent and let it roost on the tip of your finger.

The butterfly strikes you as a paradox. It feels weightless in your hand, yet heavy with intent. It’s smaller than wallet, but its presence fills the room. If you could get a close enough view, you’re sure you’d find your own face is mirrored endlessly in its many-sided eyes.

A shudder runs down your arm and you twist your gaze away.

---

[ ] Use the intercom. The butterfly is insistent, and playing its game may be the best way to proceed.
[ ] Demand an explanation.
-[ ] Who the hell are you?
-[ ] What the hell do you want?
-[ ] Why the hell should I trust you?
[ ] Emergency Exit. Screw this, you’re out.
>> No. 187999
Well, I just violated 'show, don't tell' for about 15 pages. If you think that this format is too boring, please let me know. I'd appreciate recommendations for alternatives.
>> No. 188000
[X] Use the intercom. The butterfly is insistent, and playing its game may be the best way to proceed.

I don't think it's too bad in this case, since that's the sort of report we asked for.
>> No. 188001
[x] Use the intercom. The butterfly is insistent, and playing its game may be the best way to proceed.

>>187999
Personally, I don't mind. It's an infodump, sure, but I think that's only a real problem when it isn't justified and breaks immersion. Given that Char is literally reading reports to get up to speed on what's up with Gensokyo, it's perfectly fine - particularly since it generally remains an interesting read.
>> No. 188003
[x] Demand an explanation.
-[x] What the hell do you want?

Barging in on people's dreams every night is rude, unless you have a damn good reason. Let's hear yours.

>>187999

Reads okay to me. It was a bit confusing seperating the Templar reports, Keine's report and Charlotte's musings in the wall of text, especially since I'd forgotten all about Keine, but the actual content is fine.

It's pretty interesting reading, all things considered.
>> No. 188005
>>187998
[x] Demand an explanation.
-[x] What the hell do you want?
>> No. 188006
[X] Use the intercom. The butterfly is insistent, and playing its game may be the best way to proceed.

>>187999
Considering the whole point was for it to be an in-character infodump, I'd say it worked out well enough.
>> No. 188007
[X] Use the intercom. The butterfly is insistent, and playing its game may be the best way to proceed.
>> No. 188008
[X] Use the intercom. The butterfly is insistent, and playing its game may be the best way to proceed.
>> No. 188009
[x] Use the intercom. The butterfly is insistent, and playing its game may be the best way to proceed.
>> No. 188044
[X] Use the intercom.

---

You’ve gotten this far by having faith in one variety of supernatural insect. Seeing what another one wants of you shouldn’t hurt.

The butterfly flutters off your hand as you stand up, following a short distance behind you as you head to the other side of the train car.

This time, the static assaults you as soon as you turn the key. You hold out a little longer than before, propping yourself against the door as exhaustion and noise overtake you.

Then the door slides open and you fall to the floor regardless. The last thing you see before your eyes close is that damn butterfly fluttering past your head.

Something’s grabbed the scruff of your collar. It pulls you up effortlessly, but carries your limp body through the doorway and lays you down with a delicate touch. Maybe it’s the fatigue speaking, but this seems to be a nicer seat than the molded plastic ones in the first car.

A familiar tickling on your face. A familiar poke at your eye. And then, nothing.

---
1.
A little learning is a dang'rous thing; Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring

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.

2.
There are no beginnings. There are no ends.

The Buzzing has told you some of it. Space folds, all points touch... but that’s just the barest hint.

Demarcation is porous. Borders are malleable. Opposing forces feed each other.

Rain falls into the river flows into the ocean rises into the clouds condense into the rain falls into...

I’m sure you see what I’m getting at. It’s all water in the end.

Separation is an illusion, and you may not like what it conceals. Little bee, have you enough courage to look behind that veil?

---

You awaken to the sizzling sound of something being cooked. Before you do anything else, you inspect the dreamcatcher for damage or stains, but you don’t find anything but a light dusting of purplish... something. It’s an iridescent powder - Butterfly scales? You manage to shake some of it off into a sterile pouch for analysis.

It turns out to be Junko making several omelettes. Caleb’s coffee maker is on the counter, but the man himself is nowhere to be seen.

“Morning.” You call. “Where’s Caleb?”

“You just missed him” She says, flipping three omelettes high into the air and catching them all. “This mask Tsukumogami, Kokoro, came knocking and dragged him away.”

You frown as Junko hands you a plate and starts to lay into her own. “She’s the one behind the little religious conflict something like three years ago. What did she want?”

Junko shrugs. “As best as I can tell, she said wanted to hear about theater in the outside world. I think she’s actually bringing him to meet Mamizou or Miko, though. Probably Mamizou. It looks like she’s friends with the Tanuki and all the religious leaders except for the Moriya.”

You raise an eyebrow at that. “So someone wants to talk to Caleb without intereference?”

“Possibly.” She says between bites. “Anyways, Caleb had his own plans, but then Kokoro put on what I’m guessing is her ‘threatening’ mask and said she’d duel him over it. He decided that it was too early in the day to get smacked around by the same Tsuku who beat Reimu, Miko, and Byakuren at once.”

“What, you didn’t stop her? It’s not like she was feeding on the emotion of the entire village again.”


She spreads her arms wide. “No spellcards, remember? She put on her angry mask again when I offered to follow. Besides, Caleb can handle himself.”

It’s not a bad use of time if he can make a connection with the yaks here. You’ve been wondering when Mamizou would show up.

Your phone buzzes as you finish breakfast. It’s Satori, and she’s texting that her promised delivery of parts and materials has arrived at the village workshop. The manifest she attached shows that she didn’t skimp on her reparations; after rebuilding your shotgun, there should be enough to upgrade one of your machines.

“Say, did you have any weird dreams last night?” Junko asks, interrupting your thoughts. “I didn’t have any. I guess the powers that be around here don’t think I’m interesting enough.”

You laugh. “Lucky you. I saw the butterfly again, but things seem to be getting better.”

She grins. “Cool. Enough weird stuff happens during the day without that to worry about.”

You review what you’re going to be doing today. You’re meeting Seiki and Waka at the mermaid’s cove for the spellcard duel at noon, but you still have some time before that. Afterwards, you need to prepare for the hunt at night.

---

[ ] Examine the Village Guard. You might have to depend on them to hold the line in the future. If that’s the case, you’d prefer for them to be competent, i.e. not panicking at the first sign of trouble. Increasing your influence over the village is also a good idea.

[ ] Investigate Muenzuka. You’ll have better luck around sunset, but going then will necessitate workshop prep in the morning. There is also a risk that the afterlife will take offence. Other, hostile ghosts might show up and require re-killing, which you could write off as target practice.

[ ] Visit the Shrine. If you’re getting better, Sunny might be as well. You could send her something of a care package, get a feel for Reimu’s life, and maybe exchange bantz with Sukuna. You can also check out Yuuka’s hint about the foundations.

[ ] Tour the Village. Getting a better idea of who lives in the village and where things are will be useful. Kosuzu at the Suzunaan will be excited to meet you, and you can go hunting for Caleb. You can also check out Yuuka’s hint about the Dragon statue.

[ ] Practice Spellcards. Losing your first spellcard duel to such a lowly youkai would be a bad start. A bit of practice beforehand could go a long way to preventing that. Sekibanki doesn’t strike you as a particularly tough opponent, but you’re in no position to get cocky.

[ ] Explore Gensokyo. Familiarize yourself with your surroundings, practice flight, and bask in the idyllic scenery here in this secluded slice of the world.
>> No. 188045
[x] Visit the Shrine. If you’re getting better, Sunny might be as well. You could send her something of a care package, get a feel for Reimu’s life, and maybe exchange bantz with Sukuna. You can also check out Yuuka’s hint about the foundations.

All the possibilities I can think of for the 'foundations' hint are ones that interest me.

>Don’t let the outside in. The cross, the pyramid, the serpent, the hive - feel free to check them at the door.
Hm. Someone's thoughts on the factions might have changed, perhaps?
>> No. 188046
[X] Visit the Shrine. If you’re getting better, Sunny might be as well. You could send her something of a care package, get a feel for Reimu’s life, and maybe exchange bantz with Sukuna. You can also check out Yuuka’s hint about the foundations.
>> No. 188047
>>188045
Maybe it's just an appeal to open-mindedness.
>> No. 188048
[x] Practice Spellcards. Losing your first spellcard duel to such a lowly youkai would be a bad start. A bit of practice beforehand could go a long way to preventing that. Sekibanki doesn’t strike you as a particularly tough opponent, but you’re in no position to get cocky.

You finally spelled her name right! I knew you could do it!
>> No. 188049
File 146181298516.jpg - (55.90KB, 321x448, 141075718585.jpg) [iqdb]
188049
>>188048
Aw, thanks anon. Really means a lot to me.
>> No. 188050
[x] Practice Spellcards. Losing your first spellcard duel to such a lowly youkai would be a bad start. A bit of practice beforehand could go a long way to preventing that. Sekibanki doesn’t strike you as a particularly tough opponent, but you’re in no position to get cocky.
>> No. 188051
[X] Visit the Shrine. If you’re getting better, Sunny might be as well. You could send her something of a care package, get a feel for Reimu’s life, and maybe exchange bantz with Sukuna. You can also check out Yuuka’s hint about the foundations.
>> No. 188054
File 146189823313.jpg - (3.11KB, 128x128, 1412554060710-1.jpg) [iqdb]
188054
[x] Visit the Shrine. If you’re getting better, Sunny might be as well. You could send her something of a care package, get a feel for Reimu’s life, and maybe exchange bantz with Sukuna. You can also check out Yuuka’s hint about the foundations.

Everyone's on a clock. They don't know it yet, but they are. Danmaku will be of no use when the time ends.

Also, I miss Reimu.
>> No. 188055
[x] Visit the Shrine. If you’re getting better, Sunny might be as well. You could send her something of a care package, get a feel for Reimu’s life, and maybe exchange bantz with Sukuna. You can also check out Yuuka’s hint about the foundations.
>> No. 188059
>>188054
I like the way you think.
>> No. 188061
[X] Visit the Shrine. If you’re getting better, Sunny might be as well. You could send her something of a care package, get a feel for Reimu’s life, and maybe exchange bantz with Sukuna. You can also check out Yuuka’s hint about the foundations.

Want to see Sunny & Reimu again
>> No. 188111
[x] Visit the Shrine. If you’re getting better, Sunny might be as well. You could send her something of a care package, get a feel for Reimu’s life, and maybe exchange bantz with Sukuna. You can also check out Yuuka’s hint about the foundations.
>> No. 189051
Still here, just being kept busy by a summer internship. An update is well underway.
>> No. 189255
File 146534839130.jpg - (176.12KB, 832x539, HakureiShrine.jpg) [iqdb]
189255
[X] Visit the Shrine.

---

“That’s a good idea.” Junko says, nodding. “I was thinking about visiting them myself, but I don’t think I should put off spellcards any longer. I’ll go later in the day.”

You think back to Seikibanki and Wriggle. “Yeah. Any idea which teacher you’ll look for?”

“Depends on who I can find.” Junko says. “Meira and Kotohime are going to be busy preparing, so I’ll go ask the engineers you mentioned.”

“Yeah, they’re nice folks.” You reply. “Say, when you checked up on the fairies the other day, did they mention anything in particular they’d like?”

“Luna likes coffee.” Junko answers, gesturing at the coffee maker. “She’s been drinking it black. They also like sake, but I don’t think that would be responsible of us.”

She scarfs down her remaining food and stands up. “Tell you what - I made extra, but they need it more than I do. Why don’t you bring that with you?”

That sounds like a much better idea than boozed-up supernatural children flying through the air.

While you finish your breakfast, Junko fixes her hair into a ponytail and covers it with a baseball cap.

“You’re staring off.” Junko says, adjusting the brim of her cap. “Is something on your mind?”

“Yeah. You remember what we heard about the shrine, right?”


She frowns. “Are you sure it’s smart to go poking around? We both saw how Ran dealt with those villagers.”

“Yuuka said it was fine.” You offer. “If Ran does show up, I’ll drop it.”

Junko’s expression softens. “Alright. Well, the ground got torn up like tissue paper. I wasn’t paying close attention at the time, but I’m pretty sure there wasn’t anything to suggest some sort of tunnel or vault. I didn’t notice underground chambers when I visited the fairies, but once again, I wasn’t keeping an eye out for them, and the grounds were still messed up.”


“Ran’s response means there’s got to be something, though.” You say. “Why kill people over a false rumor?”

“I bet she’d call it ‘sending a message’.” Junko says. “A kitsune of her age and stature isn’t going to lose sleep over a few humans, and it’d be a good exchange in her eyes if their disappearance kept others from messing with the barrier.”

“Anyways, if you’re going to sweep for something, I’d recommend looking at the storage building she had off to the side. It didn’t get hit as hard compared to the rest of the area.”

“Poking around the warehouse of a shrine that just got demolished?” You shake your head. “That’s a quick way to get the resident god pissed off at you.”

Junko laughs and pulls out a cigarette. “Funny thing about that. Nobody seems to know where the Hakurei Shrine’s god is.”

That gives you pause. “Well, it’s got to be around somewhere, right? Unless the whole thing is a diversion, and Reimu doesn’t actually need to borrow power from a god. Considering who her mom was...”

“Let me stop you there.” Junko says, clapping a hand on your shoulder. “Literally every source I’ve seen - Aya, Akyuu, the three Fairies, Reimu herself - has never questioned the existence of the Hakurei’s god, even if nobody knows who or where it is. Either there’s some massive, multi-faction coverup to hide the most prominent feature of gensokyo’s most prominent individual - or the god’s just somewhere else. Ockham’s Razor.”

You shake your head. “Yeah, you’re right. Maybe I’ll find more about it up there.”

---

Farmland blurs into forest as you coax all the speed you can get from the flight enchantment. Before too long, you’re touching down at the entrance to the Hakurei shrine.

It’s funny how fast you’re acclimating to flight. You’re no stranger to magic, but you always imagined that there would be a longer learning period. The powerful locals are still much better at this than you, but you’re not stumbling over air anymore.

You aren’t the first person to come here.

Kotohime waves and shoulders an AK as you touch down. “McGallagher! Good to see you! Ready for the hunt tonight?”

You grin back, matching her enthusiasm. “One hundred percent. I hope you guys will be able to put all the fresh bone meal to good use.”

“Hah! More people around here need to have your spirit, Charlotte.” She leans forward, laughing without a care in the world.

Charming, but you notice several magazines of ammunition, a flare gun, and two grenades clipped to a vest, concealed behind the folds of her robe.

“Keine posted you here?” You venture.

She nods. “She called in a favor. I’d rather be preparing the village, but when Keine asks something of you, you can’t just say no, y’know?”

You didn’t, but it’s interesting to note that a schoolteacher can give orders to the chief of police. Is Keine the center of the Human Village?

“So, have you seen anything suspicious?” You ask.

“Well, the vampire and her maid showed up earlier in the day. She did that thing with her watch where she teleports away before you can catch her, though.”


You narrow your eyes. “Did she break anything?”

Kotohime laughs at your suggestion. “I haven’t heard about the mansion being turned into a crater yet, so I’m guessing not. I mean, Reimu never had much to steal in the first place, and I didn’t find anything missing.”

Your mind jumps to setting some kind of ward or bug, but they could have done that without breaking Sakuya’s time-stop unless they got careless. They might have been looking for someone, but they don’t seem interested in the fairies and you can’t imagine why a haughty vampire would want to associate with an inchling.

“There was also that hermit.” She goes on. “You know, the pink one with the bandaged arm? She’s still hanging around, actually.”

“Kasen?”

“Yeah, something like that.” Kotohime waves her arm dismissively. “Something about her feels unusual, but then again, I suppose hermits in general are pretty rare. Either way, I like her more than those Taoist weirdos. At least Kasen seems to remember what it’s like to be human.”

“Human... right.” You say, raising an eyebrow. “Actually, I have a feeling that-”

“Say, do you think you and I could organize some training for the guard?” Kotohime asks, oblivious to your doubt. “I’m sure you’ve got loads of Outsider tactics and stuff, and we’ve never gotten an opportunity like this.”

“I’ve been thinking about the same thing, and I would love to, but that would take a lot of time” You stress. “My schedule today is already booked for today, and there’s still much left .”

“Aw. I put Meira in charge of preparing the guards for today...” Kotohime looks crestfallen, then perks up and claps her hands together. “I know! You could come at any time to observe our training and equipment and give us your opinion! Anything we can use to improve ourselves would be appreciated.”

That sounds fine. You’re wary of getting your hands tangled in what passes for the human military here, especially after promising Byakuren that you wouldn’t stir up tensions.

Still, it’d be unacceptable for the human village to depend on a handful of powerful individuals to solve all of its problems.

“Generally speaking, what kind of equipment do you guys have?” You ask. “Apart from you, I haven’t seen a lot of guards with firearms.”

“That’s because there aren’t enough to go around.” She tells you.

You frown. No guns? Your heart goes out to these tragic, deprived people.

“I mean, we know enough from books and the occasional newcomer to make our own, it’s just that we get a lot of our metal through trade with the Kappa and Tengu.” Kotohime says.

“I’m guessing they aren’t going to sell you metal if they think you’ll turn it into guns and ammo.” You say. It’s evidence for Ran’s claim of an anti-human conspiracy.

Kotohime looks apologetic. “Yeah. It’s the same situation with gunpowder. We’re scrounging for bullets just to practice with, so it’s much easier to just train people with swords or glaives.”

“Those aren’t bad weapons, but in this day and age, you have to be really good if you want to justify using them.” You say.

“I know. I’m kind of hopeful, though. Now, it might be easier to convince people to let us buy up more of the copper for gunmetal instead of silly things like pipes and wire.”

On second thought, maybe guns aren’t that important.

In any case, you could use this opportunity to see if Kotohime has any answers for you, but from what you’ve seen of her, it’s hard to say if it would be time well-spent.

---

[ ] Ask about Okazaki, RK-2, and MM-3. Technology is only an advantage when you have it and your enemies don’t. Knowing your old professor, she’d be impossible to not notice if she did show up.

[ ] Ask about Executor Krissoff. It is important for many reasons to learn when and how your fellow Templars fell. With how... fascinated Kotohime appears to be, she may know something useful.

[ ] Ask about the history of the Hakurei Shrine and its notable inhabitants and visitors. You’re here to look around anyways, so it couldn’t hurt to see if Kotohime knows anything.

[ ] Ask about the situation between humans and youkai. Ran said that just about everyone has it out for the humans, and both Waka and Byakuren have described worrying attitudes. You should hear from one of them.

[ ] Ask about another subject. (Write-in)

[ ] Bid her farewell. You don’t have a lot of time to spare for standing around and chatting with questionably sane policewomen.
>> No. 189260
[X] Ask about the situation between humans and youkai. Ran said that just about everyone has it out for the humans, and both Waka and Byakuren have described worrying attitudes. You should hear from one of them.
>> No. 189264
[x] Ask about the situation between humans and youkai. Ran said that just about everyone has it out for the humans, and both Waka and Byakuren have described worrying attitudes. You should hear from one of them.
>> No. 189281
[X] Ask about Executor Krissoff. It is important for many reasons to learn when and how your fellow Templars fell. With how... fascinated Kotohime appears to be, she may know something useful.
>> No. 189283
[x] Ask about executor Krissoff

We promised to limit our active intervention. But humans should be able to hols their ground by themselves
>> No. 189287
[x] Ask about Executor Krissoff. It is important for many reasons to learn when and how your fellow Templars fell. With how... fascinated Kotohime appears to be, she may know something useful.

I'm more interested in the other questions, but this seems like the one Kotohime would be most likely to have answers for.

> Seikibanki

You're doing this on purpose, aren't you?

>> No. 189298
>>189287
What, did I misspell something again?
>> No. 189338
File 146545186142.png - (789.67KB, 706x800, seikibanki.png) [iqdb]
189338
>>189298

http://en.touhouwiki.net/wiki/Sekibanki

I can't unsee pic related.
>> No. 189340
>>189338
Cute.
>> No. 189342
>>189338

Sukiblueki
>> No. 189349
>>189342


That was the idea. See http://danbooru.donmai.us/posts/1531583

>> No. 189354
>>189338
Pic unrelated, actually: Not Eiki Shiki enough.
>> No. 190293
File 146795323341.jpg - (74.33KB, 480x640, 4bbc16df9585421f0a6882bc62c72860.jpg) [iqdb]
190293
[X] Executor Krissoff
[X] Village/Youkai relations

---

“Krissoff? So that’s how you pronounce it, then.” Kotohime looks pleased to have learned something new. “He helped fight for the village’s survival in the early days, when things were really bad. The Oni tried to take over, followed by Tengu lashing out from the Oni and Vampires trying to put themselves ahead in the chaos.”

“That’s a lot of fighting.” You say. “How long ago was all that?”

Kotohime taps a finger to her chin. “If I’m remembering right, the general period of fighting was from twenty years after Genosokyo’s founding to forty-five.”

If she’s accurate, that means the residents of Gensokyo were busy tearing themselves apart from approximately 1905 to 1930. Meanwhile, events on the outside would have occupied the attention of anyone in a position to investigate.

“Keine or the Miare probably know the details better than me. Still, we owe a lot to the sacrifices of Krissoff’s Templars and the previous Hakurei shamans.” She continues.

You frown. “Not many people seem to know about him, and a lot seem to think the Templars are just some child’s tale.”

Kotohime shrugs. “People here tend not to dwell on the past with so much stuff to deal with in the present. It’s also harder to remember the dead when they didn’t leave behind anything to bury.”

“He and his company died fighting Vampires up in the mountains. We don’t know much about what happened there, because literally everyone died.”

“They must have done a good job of things.” You say. “Aren’t Remilia and her sister the only Vampires left?”

“There are a few others, but they’re beaten and they know it.” Kotohime tells you, nodding. “Remilia and her group were said to have barely left their mansion during their first years, so they didn’t get caught in the fighting.”

You can imagine Remilia’s reasoning. Confused, isolated, and barely saved from certain death, she wouldn’t have been eager to jump back into danger.

“It was the last really big battle Gensokyo had, and it was a total bloodbath.” She goes on. “There’s a myth that you can find a literal lake of blood from that fight in the mountains, but it’s nonsense.”

“I see.” You say, frowning. Things may have gotten more complicated. “Do you know if there are any burial sites or descendants at all? Surely they didn’t all fall in the same battle.”

“Well, there aren’t any at the Village graveyard. Trust me, I’ve checked many times. I even accounted for the possibility of multiple burial layers-”

She catches sight of your disturbed expression and smiles apologetically. “Sorry, shouldn’t have said that. Anyways, I’d go have a gander at the graves at Muenzuka. It’s the only other place where you could find old human graves. I went myself a few years ago, but most of the graves are either unmarked or illegible by this point, and one of the Shinigami showed up after a while to ask me to leave.”

At least you know where to go to investigate that particular thread.

Curiosity prompts you to ask a last question about Krissoff. “What do the stories say about him?”

She answers almost before you’re done asking. “Fearless, relentless, and a bulwark against the monsters of the night.” There’s no trace of hesitation or doubt in her voice, as though she’s reading off a memorized script.

You smile. “A true warrior of the Order, then.”

Kotohime smiles and sighs. “If only I could be like him, someday...”

She might have what it takes, even if her overall grip on reality is a bit loose. There’s a steel in her, beneath the clueless surface, that you suspect will serve her well. She must be head of the guard for a reason.

---

According to Kotohime, the Youkai here are starting to realize that things go better for both sides when they don’t cause trouble for humans.

Most people credit Reimu, but she thinks that the Hakurei as a whole are responsible.

Hakurei Minako, who was both the previous shaman and Remiu’s mother, was notoriously brutal to any Youkai that stepped out of line. Her predecessor, Hakurei Kazue, was even harsher, having prosecuted the war against the Vampires with ruthless efficiency.

Between the wrath of a Templar Executor and a Hakurei with no regard for spellcards, it’s no wonder there aren’t many Vampires left. Whatever brand of magic Reimu’s clan uses, it’s potent.

As for day to day interactions, Fairies are mostly nuisances who typically attempt pranks or petty thievery without significant malice or forethought. They stay perpetually young and innocent, which is another way of saying that they don’t learn. Because of their low attention spans, they keep repeating the same childish tricks and keep forgetting why they shouldn’t.

Cirno, Dai, and the three Fairies at the shrine seem to be outliers in terms of intelligence. Daiyousei in particular seems like a really bright kid.

A lot of the Youkai living in or around the Village are Kitsune and Tanuki. Some of them disguise themselves and get involved in questionable stuff, but they aren’t going to start shit in the heart of the village. Overall not a problem, though Mamizou’s crew is becoming bolder.

Rarely, a small party of Oni will venture up. Just like on the Outside, you’ll hear them before you see them, and smell them even before that. They’re tolerated as long as their wallets hold. Apparently, Kotohime is one of the few guards either brave or foolish enough to deal with any of them that get too drunk.

Relations with the Tengu and Kappa are still in the last thaws of a cold war. There is trade in machines, electronics, minerals, and publications, but most of it appears to be intended to display technological, military, and cultural superiority. It’s no secret that the Kappa charge Humans more, and Humans still aren’t welcome on Youkai Mountain.

Relations with minor Youkai and Fairies have improved more than any other group in recent times, especially since Keine started holding night classes for them. Understandably, many villagers are uncomfortable with letting Youkai in close proximity with their children. Kotohime mentions a night sparrow Youkai who learned how to balance finances from Keine and now runs her own food cart.

Kotohime knows about Wakasagihime. She’s one of the most well-liked Youkai known to the Village, though being a Merfolk makes it troublesome to visit it herself.

Interestingly, Kotohime also knows about a certain troublemaking Rokurokubi. She and her friends made a big ruckus by the canals a couple years back. There’s talk about how some sort of ‘Miracle Mallet’ caused this behavior, but Kotohime believes that it’s an excuse.

You’re tempted to agree with her, but you’re not sure since Wakasagi cited the same reason. Asking someone involved with the incident, like Marisa, would be helpful.

Anyways, Kotohime gives you a hint about Seikibanki’s spellcards. One of them can’t hit you if you’re not moving. You can’t wait to make use of that tip.

Grinning, you say goodbye to Kotohime and enter the Shrine grounds. You soon run into a familiar figure standing in front of the main building.

---

“Kasen?” You call.

Startled, she turns around from examining the building. A relieved smile spreads across her face as she waves at you.

“Oh, it’s you. I just wasn’t expecting anyone to show up. Most people don’t visit the Shrine on the best of days.” She explains.

“Well, I need to check up on the Fairies.” You tell her. “I’m almost recovered, but I don’t know how Sunny’s coping. How about you?”

“I suppose I’m here out of habit. For a few years now, I’ve been stopping by to provide Reimu with advice on shrine management and proper conduct for a priestess.” She sighs. “If only she would listen...”

“I never did get to see the Hakurei Shrine on a normal day.” You say, surveying the shrine grounds.

It looks nice, in an unremarkable sort of way. Neat and modest are the two words that come to mind. Lonely is another. A scattering of leaves is starting to pile on top of the flagstones with nobody to sweep them. From the gate, you can see nearly all of Gensokyo, but the distance is palpable. People have told you how aloof Reimu has always been, and now you’re imagining her watching from her hilltop shrine as life in the valley goes on without her.

You frown and force yourself back to the present. “You know, I’ve heard that Reimu’s relationship with the Occult has made her unpopular among the Villagers. It’s clearly not the state of her shrine.”

“To be honest, it’s something of both.” Kasen replies, frowning and putting her hands on her hips. “If Reimu could just put in the honest effort to draw in villagers instead of coming up with hare-brained schemes every other week, people would be willing to overlook her personal relationships. I mean, honestly - it’s not as though she goes out of her way to invite Youkai in!”

For someone you’re certain is an Oni in a paper-thin disguise, Kasen is endearingly concerned with the proper order of things. Suika was remarkably friendly as well, though it seems the same cannot be said for the overall population here.

The disguise keeps bothering you, though, like a itch at the back of your mind. She’s clearly trying to pass herself off as Human, which isn’t something that bothers you. What does bother you is that deception in general is aberrant behavior for Oni in much the same way sociopathy is aberrant behavior for Humans.

She notices you looking. Perhaps she has some idea of what you’re thinking about, because she blushes and changes the subject. “Anyways, between the usual low traffic and Kotohime at the gate, I don’t think anyone else is coming.”

You’re probably overthinking it. With how involved Ran’s getting with you, there’s no way she’d let Kasen get close to Reimu if she thought the ‘Hermit’ was a backstabbing thug.

“Yeah.” You reply, laughing. “I get the feeling she’s a good person, just... overzealous. I wouldn’t mind her watching my back.”

“Oh?” Kasen’s lips curve into a playful smile. “Just because you’re immortal doesn’t mean you should toss away your life so carelessly.”

“Hey, I meant that!” You grin. “Anyways, I should head over. Fairies can presumably feed themselves, but I figured that they’d appreciate some food either way. Do you plan on sticking around the courtyard?”

“I was just about finished anyways.” She says, fiddling with her bandaged arm. “Would it be a bother if I accompanied you?”

“Not at all.”
>> No. 190294
File 146795343579.jpg - (680.99KB, 1275x613, bae8b166035b0c75ccf839acce753da4.jpg) [iqdb]
190294
You aren’t much of a botanist, but the Fairies’ oak is looking a touch beleaguered to you. Yellow is creeping onto the leaves in spots and along the edges, but the effect is only somewhat more pronounced than the seasonal changes on the rest of the trees.

“Sunny!” You call out. “Luna! Star! Are you guys home?”

A few moments later, the leaves rustle as three children climb out of the branches and float down. You’re relieved to see that Sunny is on her feet, though she still looks pale and weak as she sits down on the roots.

“Hi.” Sunny says after a few moments. Her voice is as weak as her smile, but she is glad to see you. “I heard that you saved me from the... scary thing.” She shudders. “I’ve never been so scared.”

“I hope you’re doing better now.” You say. “Have you been having nightmares?”

She shakes her head. “Only one, when I got hurt but before you healed me. It was scary...”

“Sunny’s been getting better, though.” Star says, covering for her friend. “Her sleep has been better and we’ve both been taking good care of her. Doctor Yagokoro also stopped by and gave us something to call her with if we needed help!”

She holds up a paper talisman. The impeccable handwriting on it describes in simple terms that tearing the paper will send an alert to Eientei.

It’s good to see that the Fairies have some way of calling for help if they need it.

The Fairies’ eyes widen when you present them with food.

“Wow, is all of this for us?” Luna asks, on the verge of drooling. “Is it really okay if we have it?”

“Go for it.” You tell them, and they dive in. Sunny and Star pick sweeter foods, but Luna goes for the thermos of coffee. “How do you guys usually get food?”

To her credit, Star finishes her mouthful before answering. “Um... we can forage for stuff around the forest. Stuff like mushrooms or nuts.”

You frown. “Is that really enough for all three of you?”

Kasen speaks up from beside you. “Fairies don’t really need to eat; they just think that they do. As long as the part of nature they’re bound to is healthy, food is optional.” She casts a chastising look at them. “Of course, ‘borrowing’ food from Reimu or the village market doesn’t hurt.”

The Fairies laugh nervously and look away, blushing.

Talking with the Fairies is entertaining and carefree, though you don’t take what they say at face value.

“Cirno and Dai? They’re our friends. We met during the... um.” Luna glances at Sunny. “Should we tell them?”

Sunny nods. “We can trust them”
“The Great Fairy War.” The three Fairies declare.

You raise an eyebrow. “The what?”

“All of the fairies basically shot spellcards at each other” Star explains, smiling sheepishly. “It’s also how we met Cirno and Dai.”

“Oh wow, you guys know each other?” You ask.

She and her friends nod. “They’re our rivals! Cirno beat us in the war, though, so we have to accept her as number one.”

“So she’s the strongest fairy?”

“Yeah, although she should really put a sock in it at this point.” Luna rolls her eyes. “I mean, we get it already.”

“Well, she’s got pretty decent magic for a kid of her age.” You say. “What do you guys do?”

They all perk up at this. “I control light!” Sunny announces, almost losing her footing as she springs to her feet.

“I control sound!” Luna shouts as well.

“And no creature can hide from me!” Star finishes. “Together, we are...”

“The Three Fairies of Light!”

You cover your mouth to stifle your laughter. They’ve clearly rehearsed this.

Kasen gives you a sympathetic look. “In practice, Sunny makes them invisible, Luna makes them silent, and Star knows the positions of nearby creatures.”

You stop laughing.

“It’s not as bad as it sounds.” Kasen says, a wry smile on her face. “You’ll notice how none of them listed ‘common sense’.”

“No, it’s because those two go to Keine’s classes and we don’t!” Star exclaims. “I bet they learn all sorts of secret Human tricks.”

“The only tricks they’re learning are basic manners, literacy, and arithmetic.” Kasen says, rolling her eyes. She turns to you. “Keine is holding classes for friendly non-humans as well.”

You nod. “I heard as much from Kotohime. It’s good that people are getting a fair go.”

“But if we went to school, we wouldn’t have as much time to play!” Luna pouts.

“We’re much closer to the Village now.” Star says. “We may as well check it out sometime. After all, we’re not going to be pulling any pranks for a while.”

“We used to live in a tree in the Forest of Magic.” Sunny explains. “It was nice, but it wasn’t as nice as the tree here, and being closer let us prank Reimu a lot more.”

Luna’s face lights up. “Yeah! Like that time we almost made her fall into that river!”

“Are you sure you should be saying that?” Star whispers. She isn’t whispering very well, which is why you and Kasen can hear her. “I mean I’m pretty sure Charlotte’s a human too, and you know how the Hermit is...”

Kasen gives the Fairies another stern look.

“How nice can a tree get?” You ask. It’s not as though they have a treehouse in the branches.

“We can sorta... go inside it. It’s bigger on the inside” Sunny says, frowning. “I don’t know how to explain. It’s a fairy thing.”

Odd, but not too odd. Nature spirits can be like that. You could check it out, but it’s not high on the to-do list.

“Do you happen to know where the Inchling is?” Kasen asks the Fairies.

“She went off a while ago with Genji carrying her.” Luna says. “I think she might have been looking for Marisa.”

“Genji?” You ask.

“Reimu’s turtle.” Kasen explains. “He’s been with the Hakurei for a long time. He can fly, which is how Reimu used to get around before she learned it for herself. Of course, now he’s old and spends his time around the pool behind the Shrine.”

“So she’s got some sort of spirit guide as well.” You say.

A thought occurs to you. “Is he intelligent?” You ask.

Kasen thinks about it before shaking her head. “He’s certainly brighter than any turtle you could pluck out of the lake, but not to the degree I think you mean. He’s never spoken.”

Reimu lives alone and spends her time keeping the shrine prepared for visitors it usually doesn’t get. Company does stop by, but it is overwhelmingly in the form of Marisa or Kasen.

You’re surprised to hear that Reimu barely practices her magic, having seen for yourself some of what she can do with it. It’s true that some mages are more gifted than others, but you’ve never heard of natural talent letting someone bend reality over their knee in such a way.

Back to Reimu, though. Leaving aside the fact that these three children have such a potent shortcut to stealth at their fingertips, you need to work on your investigation.

You say goodbye to the Fairies of Light and leave them to the remaining food.

You and Kasen head back to the shrine grounds. “Well, that was fun.” You say.

Kasen laughs. “Don’t expect every fairy to be like that. These three are unusually powerful and clever for fairies.”

“Wait, so is Cirno really above them?” You ask. If she represents the intellectual pinnacle of fairykind...

Kasen shakes her head. “In terms of magical strength, yes, but Cirno’s more stubborn than she is cunning. Her green-haired friend is among the elite as well, although ‘elite’ and ‘fairy’ are somewhat opposed concepts.”

Interesting. Oh well, back to business. You pull your drone from your inventory into your hand, make sure it’s in proper condition, then wind up to toss it airborne-

You blink. Kasen’s bandaged arm has sprung forward, holding your hand back and revealing smoke and a stump at base of her arm.

A confused look is on her face. “Charlotte, what are you doing?” She asks.

“Scanning the Shrine.” You answer, testing the strength of her grip. You aren’t winning an arm-wrestle with her, full power or not.

She shakes her head. “I realize. I mean, why are you?”

---

[ ] Full Disclosure: Yuuka hinted that there was something to find here. She said something about ‘deep foundations’.
[ ] Omission: I heard a rumor that there was something to find here. Something about ‘deep foundations’.
[ ] Entreat: You know that I’m not going to fuck up the Shrine after going through all the trouble to save it.
[ ] Bluff: What, you’ve never seen someone take their drone out for a walk before?
[ ] Write-in.

---

Please let me know what you think about the quality and the direction. Nobody's complained, so I hope that's a good sign.
I probably worry more about this sort of question than you guys do, but I think it's still an important question to have answered.
>> No. 190295
Not sure how Kasen will handle 'lies' as an Oni, of omission or otherwise.

Which means either being truthful or dodging the omission entirely by asking her directly what she knows about the deep foundations that the shrine has.

We have some room to investigate things but is it possible that scanning in this way may alert Ran in a negative way? I can't recall Char being given a full blank check to dig up secrets and this has potential to be a large one. Might have to see what Kasen knows and feel it out from there.
>> No. 190300
[X] "Is it wrong to survey the shrine grounds after a large scale battle? It wouldn't be the first time the shrine has collapsed from what I heard."
>> No. 190303
[X] Semi-Obfuscated Partial Disclosure: One of my sources hinted that there was something to find here. Something about ‘deep foundations’.

Mostly because I know Yukari's watching and I want to annoy her because she's a shit.
>> No. 190306
I don't know anything about TSW save what's been mentioned in this story, but with how serious everyone is about Filth, I'm actually confused as to why Charlotte wouldn't want to double-check the place. Assuming that is a legitimate concern, we don't even have to lie:

[x] Misdirect: Is there any particular reason why I shouldn't? We did just fight a large-scale battle against Filth here.

> Please let me know what you think about the quality and the direction. Nobody's complained, so I hope that's a good sign.

Spell my waifu's name right! Lose the extra i! OCD aside, it's all good. Keep it coming!
>> No. 190309
[X] Full Disclosure: Yuuka hinted that there was something to find here. She said something about ‘deep foundations’.
>> No. 190313
[X] Semi-Obfuscated Partial Disclosure: One of my sources hinted that there was something to find here. Something about ‘deep foundations’.
-[x] "Yukariiiiiiiiii... I know you're watching..."
-[x] "Said source began with a Y, just so you know."
--[x] (obvious lie) "And I don't think they're in Gensokyo at the moment."

TROLLING IN PROGRESS

Let's hope that Yuuka isn't in the Dream World at the moment. I, for one, would like to see her run to Yorihime or Yamame or Yoshika. Just saying "it began with Yu" would rule out several funny choices for Yukari to drop in on (namely, Ran, Youmu, Youki, Yamame, Yorihime, or Yatsuhashi) and falsely claiming that they're not in Gensokyo right now adds Yumeko, YuugenMagan, Yuki, Yuki (the one from Samidare,) Yuuta Kirishima and Yuitia of Banshiryuu, and Yumemi to the list.

I want to see her run about trying names at random.
>> No. 190326
[X] Semi-Obfuscated Partial Disclosure: One of my sources hinted that there was something to find here. Something about ‘deep foundations’.

I've been happy with the quality so far.
>> No. 190328
[X] Misdirect: Is there any particular reason why I shouldn't? We did just fight a large-scale battle against Filth here.
>> No. 190373
[x] Semi-Obfuscated Partial Disclosure: One of my sources hinted that there was something to find here. Something about ‘deep foundations’.

Was going to vote for Misdirect at first, but I think Kasen's canny enough to see through it and I don't want to antagonize her. I still feel like tipping off Ran / Yukari to Yuuka's involvement with the Secret Worlders might have consequences down the line, so that's not ideal, but this seems like the best option out of those that have actually gotten votes. (Also, IIRC Genji talks to Reimu in the PC-98 games, but that's a pretty minor divergence from canon if he's not capable here.)

On the question of quality and direction: direction seems fine to me, quality's fine for the most part but there were a couple things about this last update which seemed a bit off.

This doesn't seem like something anyone else minded, but the section starting with
>According to Kotohime
felt somewhat jarring with how it was placed: I know that the vote was for information, and we've seen similar sections of lore/exposition previously, but just cutting from dialogue to a distanced infodump feels off to me. I see how it might've been hard to convey all that information in dialogue, but the way it's written just felt...out of place, sort of. Like it was halfway to one of the Templar reports, but not at an entirely fitting time.

On a more concrete note, during the fairies conversation, this part-
>“It’s not as bad as it sounds.” Kasen says, a wry smile on her face. “You’ll notice how none of them listed ‘common sense’.”
>“No, it’s because those two go to Keine’s classes and we don’t!” Star exclaims.
...seemed like there was a sentence or two missing between Kasen's line and Star's. The topic had shifted away from Cirno and Dai, so Star's line (presumably referencing them) seems somewhat apropos of nothing.

Neither of the above's that big a deal, just thought I'd point them out since it's relevant-ish to what you asked.
>> No. 190379
[x] Semi-Obfuscated Partial Disclosure: One of my sources hinted that there was something to find here. Something about ‘deep foundations’.
-[x] Someone whom I have no right to mention with his permission, by the way.

No lies.
>> No. 190391
>>190379
>with
>his
ya spud
>> No. 190393
>>190391
FUCK
>> No. 190412
>>190373
Thanks, I'll keep it in mind. The shift you described was honestly me worrying about updating and trying to give info without spending time on more dialogue. I'll keep an eye on that.
>> No. 190743
File 146940803539.jpg - (49.21KB, 500x406, 5c9902b9b0b203878144187775f0ba64.jpg) [iqdb]
190743
[x] Semi-Obfuscated Partial Disclosure
>Deep foundations
>Anonymity

---

“Is this really necessary?” You say, tugging your arm as you turn to face Kasen. “I’d just like to be sure that the site’s clean.”

Kasen looks you in the eye. “But everyone knows that already. Wherever any remnants may be, they certainly aren’t here.”

You close your eyes and take a deep breath. It’s not often that you let yourself be cornered by a demon, but Kasen’s right. Ran’s already been through the area with a fine comb, and people like Eirin would have checked for themselves.

“Alright.” You say, relaxing your bound arm and powering off your drone. “I’ve been reading things and talking to people, and I found a hint regarding the Hakurei Shrine. Something about ‘deep foundations’.”

“That’s odd.” Kasen raises an eyebrow. “Who told you that?”

“I’d rather not say.” You tell her. “They appear to be... sensitive about having their name used.”

Her eyes widen for a split second, and the bandages squeeze your wrist before she catches herself. “You’re listening to that sort of source?”


“I thought I’d just scan things, see if there was anything at all of major concern at the Shrine, and listen if Ran told me to stop.” You shrug to the best of your ability. “I’m not stupid enough to start blowing things up here.”

“Well, if that’s the case...” Kasen trails off, studying your face. She doesn’t seem that satisfied with your explanation, but you feel her hold on you loosening.

A moment later, the bandages around your arm unwind. Within a moment, they slide off and reform into Kasen’s arm with a rustling chorus.

“I’m sorry for reacting that way.” Kasen says, turning away as a blush creeps up her face. “It’s just that people poking around the Shrine don’t tend to have the best of intentions, and when you mentioned who you had been listening to...”

She sighs. “She’s nothing but trouble when she isn’t hibernating. Promise me that you won't blindly believe what she tells you, okay?”

She’s talking about Yukari, right? That purple aberration is probably watching right now.

“Alright, I’ll refrain from drinking the kool-aid. And don’t worry about holding me up - I can’t quite blame you.” You reassure her while shaking out your arm. “I mean, I’ve seen what happens when idiots crack open stuff they shouldn’t. Tell you what- if you’re that concerned, why don’t you keep an eye on me?”

Kasen raises an eyebrow at that. “Well, if you insist. I hope you’re prepared for disappointment, though. If there is something buried around here, we wouldn’t be the first to find it.”

You grin and toss your drone up. It boots up before the peak of the throw and begins hovering at eye level, waiting for orders. “Pessimism is such an unappealing trait. Why don’t we see for ourselves?”

Kasen rolls her eyes as she watches your drone’s lens flit between you and her. “So is overconfidence, if I’m remembering your words correctly.”

Your laughter is interrupted by the buzz of your phone, and you take it out. Your suspicions have been confirmed - Kasen’s got a demonic signature. Unlike her physical appearance, it’s masked quite well - better than a Succubus. Better than an Oni has any right to.


For Christ’s sake, she literally just filed down her horns and put bun covers on them!

You look over and see Kasen offering her hand for the drone as if expecting it to perch, her head tilted to one side.

“You know, this is the first good look I’ve been able to get of your drone. Does it have a name?” She asks, reaching out to cup it between both hands.

You take a deep breath. Kasen isn’t a threat. “No, unless you consider ‘Firefly Unit 07’ to be an actual name. It’s currently the last of its many siblings.”

She releases it, and the drone floats a bit higher up this time, warily keeping its lens on her. “Firefly’s a perfectly fine name, you know.”

You shrug. “I’m not big on naming gear. Anyways, I should get working.”

You point at the shrine grounds, and your drone whirrs over to investigate. You and Kasen follow behind.

---

Scanning the Shrine grounds with your drone turns up no sign of anything concealed or worth concealing. There aren’t any hidden passages, artifacts, or magical signatures beyond the minimum for what a magical shrine could have. Considering Reimu’s power, it’s a bit confusing, but perhaps her deity just hasn’t moved back in yet.

On the other hand, the torii that you struggled to defend is a nexus of subtle power, with threads of Anima snaking from both the ground and the sky to twine across the gate in fractal patterns. You don’t dare to examine it - even without Ran, instinct is telling you that anything more invasive than putting your hand on it is going end in extreme pain. Disrupting that web would be similar to jamming a fork into an electrical outlet.

“At least it’s fine.” You say, squinting at it. “I think. Actually, I have no clue how this thing works, but there’s no obvious sign of corruption or damage.”

“Don’t feel too bad about it.” Kasen says, standing a respectful distance away from the gate with her arms folded. “I don’t think anyone but Ran and her mistress understands how it works.”

“Yeah, and everyone else is happy so long as it continues to work.” You say, pointing your drone towards the storage shed. “That’s what Aya told me. Surely there’s other people, like Reimu, who know something.”

“Reimu knows, but I’d say she knows it on a gut level.” Kasen explains, frowning. “She wields the Shrine’s power as well as any of the other Hakurei, but she might have trouble explaining it to someone who wasn’t born with it. Of course, she isn’t even here right now...”

The Fairies’ oak tree is magical, but that’s what you’d expect of a big tree inhabited by a trio of nature spirits. There’s certainly nothing beneath it but roots and soil.

The hot springs contain a slight touch of magic and elevated amounts of inoffensive minerals, but neither in noteworthy amounts. It’s little more than a really nice hot spring. Maybe you should use it sometime when you’re not busy.

The storage shed contains nothing of interest; weathered tools, assorted junk, and a small amount of food and drink are all that you find. In fact, the amount of nothing it contains is bothering you. You hope that Reimu isn’t expected to subsist on this amount of food.

“I see Reimu follows the ascetic lifestyle, though I get the impression it’s not by choice.” You prod a burlap sack of rice with your foot. “Won’t mice get at this?”

Kasen shrugs. “Animals love Reimu. The Fairies of Light once almost got Reimu to walk into a river with an illusion, but fish swam up and formed a bridge for her. I’m not sure if she noticed.”

You snort. “So she’s a Disney princess too?”

“A what?”

“Eh, nevermind. Any idea what causes that effect?”

“I think it has something to do with Reimu’s character.” Kasen answers. “Despite her usual laziness, she’s incredibly honest and uncomplicated. Animals can tell if someone has those qualities, you know.”

“Hm. Speaking from personal experience?”

“Of course!” She stammers. “I have a- a few animal companions at my dojo, and all of them are there by their own choice! I would never be able to have such a bond if they couldn’t trust me.”

“Say, what kind of animals are we talking about?”

“Oh, um...” She seems taken aback by your change of topic. “All sorts. Animal care is something of my specialty at this point. Off the top of my head, I’ve got an eagle named Kanda, a tiger named Houso, and a Raijuu named Mukou.”

“So you deal with both mundane and magical creatures? I can’t imagine how much work it takes.”

She laughs and smiles. “Everyone needs a hobby.”

Back to the search. The main building contains little of anything, even personal effects. You hoped to find some record of previous Hakurei here, but there’s nothing around. If any artifacts did survive, they’re likely in Ran’s custody. Reimu’s own amenities look downright spartan - You could fit most of her belongings the luggage trunk you kept all your stuff in throughout most of your school years.

A quick use of EM vision confirms that Reimu doesn’t have wired electricity, but she does have a number of appliances sitting about, like an electric fan and a rice cooker. They make use of the same Kappa battery that you saw in Wakasagihime’s wheelchair. The print on these indicates that they are the product of one “Nitori Kawashiro”.

Once again, you’d love to acquire some for research, but stealing from the Hakurei Shrine’s shaman isn’t going to endear you to its god.

Before you can finish that sentence, your drone zeroes in on the central shrine and starts chirping.

“Did Firefly find anything?” Kasen asks, poking her head out of an adjoining room.

You frown. “I think. It looks like it’s headed for the household altar.”

It looks ordinary to you. Once again, nothing stand out to you at a glance, but your drone has taken a particular interest in one of the gems left as shintai. Wait a moment...

You blink and recoil. That’s not a gem. It’s an eye with a bright blue iris, sized for a young girl.

Kasen starts as she approaches it as well. “What on earth?” She points at it with a shaking, wrapped finger. “That wasn’t there the last time I was around.”

Whatever it is, the eyeball isn’t reading as biological. You reach over and gingerly pick it up. To your surprise, it’s cold and rigid. Is it a glass eye?

No, the material’s wrong. This is some sort of plastic. As you turn it over, you discover tiny, worn print beneath the ocular nerve:

RK-2 OPTICAL RECEPTOR 02

Yeah, that’s Okazaki’s work. Someone else would have just called it a camera.

Well, the good news is that you’re holding a lead on one of the robots in your hand. The bad news is that it’s mostly unaccounted for, and the other one - the one in a fucking cruise missile - is definitely here as well.

“Kasen?” You call out, fingers tightening around the eye. “This item happens to be important for my investigation, and from what you said, it doesn’t seem to be an object of worship. Can you think of any reason why I shouldn’t take it?”

Kasen looks slightly green. “No. Reimu’s done questionable things in the name of drawing visitors, but even she would find this off-putting. I don’t think she’d put that there. Maybe it’s a fairy prank?”

You stow the eye. It’ll have to be inspected when you get to the workshop. “This is going to sound silly, but did you ever see or hear of a...” You groan. “Robot maid... around the Hakurei Shrine?”

She gives you the sort of look that you reserved for ‘special’ clients when you were still working IT. “A what?”

“Okay, probably not.” You sigh. “Long story short, we thought there might be a couple missing robots here, and I just found the eye from one of them. It’s for the best that I figure out what happened to them as soon as possible.”

Kasen glances at your drone. “Are those robots like this one?”

“No. They’re both as smart as a person, if not more. The one missing an eye is humanoid with green hair, and the other one...” You trail off. You’re in no mood to explain what an ICBM is at the moment. “The other one is complicated.”

“Well, if you’re looking for information on robots, the Kappa seem like the obvious source to visit.” Kasen says, thinking it over. “Although...”

“Not that friendly towards Humans, right?”

She gives you a thin smile. “Well, not all of them. I know that Sanae talks to the friendlier ones. Alice might also be worth talking to, with how invested she’s been in making an autonomous doll.”

AI’s been figured out since the sixties, but maybe Gensokyo’s isolation has led her to make new discoveries. Either way, it’s an option.

---

You stand in the courtyard and turn around, surveying your surroundings. Where else could you look?

You feel a gentle tug on your sleeve.

“Kasen?” You ask, raising an eyebrow.

“Yes?” She asks, stepping out from the door of shrine.

That’s odd. She couldn’t have reached for you, even with her bandaged arm, so what was it? Nobody else is around, and there isn’t even any wind.

Before you can dwell on it further, your eye wanders across the main building of the shrine, with the donation box right in front of you.

You didn’t consider it important earlier, but now it sticks out to you. You glanced over that on your first pass, didn’t you?

Kasen notices what you’re looking at. “Oh, that? I doubt there would be anything in it. People aren’t kidding when they say that the Shrine doesn’t get visitors.”

“After all she’s done for the villagers?”

Kasen nods. “People around here don’t like how friendly the major youkai seem to be with her.”

You frown. “Better than the alternative. What, do they think she’s in league with them?”

The report on Byakuren rises to the surface of your mind. The doubt must be visible to Kasen, as she hurries over with an expression of concern.

“Of course not.” She reassures you. “Trust me - to her, youkai aren’t friends, they’re nuisances. You can ask anyone who’s spent time around Reimu, and I’ve spent more time than most.”

You recall what Aya told you. “So the youkai like her more than she likes them?”


Kasen considers your words and nods. “That’s a good way of putting it.”

“I suppose she sees other humans, like Miko and Byakuren, the same way.” You say, stepping next to the offertory box. “Troublemakers who now pose a threat to the success of her shrine.”

You peer inside the donation box. A scant few coins glint from inside. It doesn’t look like enough to subsist on.

“You know, I’m not sure if she’d warm up to me or my friends.” You say as you pull out your wallet and start counting banknotes.

“I think she’d have fought you with spellcards.” Kasen says, shrugging. “It’s how she’s greeted every high-profile newcomer.”

“You say that like we would have caused a scene like the Moriya or something. Do you think we might be able to beat her?”

Kasen’s answer is immediate. “No.”

You wince. “Damn. That’s humbling.” You push a generous stack of bills through the slats of the donation box. “Still, for all she does, I think she deserves more than that.”

You close your eyes, bow your head, and clasp your hands.

---

Pray for...

[ ] Insight
[ ] Courage
[ ] Fortune
>> No. 190744
[X] Insight
>> No. 190745
[x] Insight

What are we missing?
>> No. 190746
[X] Insight

>Nobody else is around, and there isn’t even any wind.
Hello Koishi.
>> No. 190747
[x] Insight
>> No. 190748
[x] Insight

I'm not one for bandwagoning, but Charlotte isn't exactly lacking for courage, and fortune seems kind of...gimmicky to pray for in a CYOA.

Good update. I'm enjoying getting to spend time with Kasen.
>> No. 190754
[x] Insight
>> No. 190756
[X] Insight
>> No. 190769
[x] Insight
>> No. 190773
[x] Insight
>> No. 190892
File 146986004896.jpg - (106.73KB, 480x800, tumblr_nn5odq1uUb1szpoq6o1_540.jpg) [iqdb]
190892
[X] Pray for insight.

---

It’s been some time since you asked a higher power for a favor. Gaia blessed you, and though you enjoy immortality, you have to admit that She didn’t ask for your permission. Still, you compose and offer a silent prayer to the resident kami.

“Deity of the Hakurei Shrine, I ask for an insight into the darkness of this land. If you find my cause humble and just, grant me this boon.”

Only the wind breaks the silence of the moment. In the next -

---

Lore: Gensokyo, Groups
[The Enumerated]

1.
Our wisdom flows so sweet. Taste and see.

TRANSMIT - initiate the thirty-two paths - TEN AND NOT NINE - initiate the husking cadence - RECEIVE - initiate the Yosher arrangement -TEN AND NOT ELEVEN - initiate the emergency council - WITNESS - The Enumerated.

---

Kasen looks at you with a raised eyebrow. “Is something the matter?”

You blink and shake your head. “No, I guess I just got a little carried away with the prayer.”

She holds your gaze for a second longer than necessary, but looks away and doesn’t challenge your excuse. “Well, for all of its flaws, the Hakurei Shrine is still capable of granting blessings. It’s a shame that more villagers don’t make the trip up and ask for them.”

You check the time, and find that it’s uncomfortably close to your duel. “Well, it was lovely to spend time here with you, but I’ve got to get going. There’s something I need to take care of by the lake if I’m going to be ready in time for the hunt tonight.” You tell Kasen.

“You’re participating?” Kasen frowns. “Have you fully recovered?”

You shrug. “No, but the monsters out there aren’t courteous enough to wait for that, so out I go.” A grin spreads across your face. “Don’t tell me you think a big skeleton is enough to take me down.”

Kasen smiles back. “Prudence is a virtue, Charlotte. As long as you aren’t going off into the night alone, you should be fine.” A thought seems to occur to her. “You are going with someone, right?”

Your brief silence is answer enough for her.

“Charlotte, please. You’re taking a needless risk. Surely one of your colleagues could work with you?”

“We planned to operate separately.” You explain. “It would be more efficient and more reassuring to the general populace if we had a presence in three areas instead of one.”

Kasen still isn’t pleased. “I believe that you should still bring someone to aid you. Perhaps one of the veteran guards, or whoever else will be involved. Even I could be there.”

“I’ll figure it out by tonight.” You tell her. “Thanks for your concern, but for now, I really ought to be going.”

“Alright.” Kasen says, folding her arms across her chest. “The final decision is yours to make, of course. Still, I would avoid taking too many risks while your resurrection is still missing.”

You nod. “Gotcha. See you tonight, then.” With that, you step into the air.

---

You reach Waka’s cove on the later side of ‘on-time’, but the important thing is that you’re present. Wakasagihime and Sekibanki are waiting for you, and so are a handful of humanoid youkai - Kitsune, Tsukumogami, and two other merfolk watch you as you land. Fairies are also present, floating about at a respectful distance as they watch.

You greet them as you walk forward, your demeanor calm and unhurried. “Good afternoon, Sekibanki. Wakasagihime. I wasn’t aware there’d be an audience.”

Waka’s face reddens as she turns away. “We didn’t mean to, but word got out...”

“Getting stage fright, human?” Sekibanki interrupts. She’s standing with her collar pulled almost over her mouth and her hands on her hips. Her past arrogance has clearly returned.

Somehow, you’ve got a pretty good idea how word got out.

“If you don’t want to start, we can always find another time.” Waka says, trying to reassure you.

You just sigh. “No, it’s fine. It doesn’t change much.”

You draw a spellcard from your inventory and turn it over in your hand, holding the card between your fingers. Meanwhile, the background murmuring from the onlookers rises. Were they expecting a weaker, fearful human?

They’re in for a rude awakening

Sekibanki scowls and brandishes a spellcard of her own, a dark red paper talisman with blue script.

A chilling wind blows through, breaking up the afternoon sun dancing on the lake surface and herding the lingering mists. Not a bad backdrop for your first duel.

You block out the chatter of the audience as you stare down Sekibanki. She’s got a familiar look on her face. Anger, because someone’s challenging her. Doubt, because she doesn’t know if she can win. Fear, because she’s afraid to lose.

Perhaps unnerved, Sekibanki ends the standoff and rises into the air, raising her card to the sky. As you follow her, the card flares blue and one of her heads materializes next to her. She grins and points at you, and the head unleashes what can only be described as expanding walls of light at you.

“Think fast!” Sekibanki shouts.

As the walls race towards you, they reveal gaps you can slip through. You seize the opportunity, though having to account for three dimensions of movement leads to some close brushes.

A lull in the barrage gives you a moment to reflect. You’re not feeling pushed to your limit yet, but you can’t bank on that being all Seki can throw at you. A glance down at the audience shows that the majority of them are cheering loudly for Sekibanki to beat you, though the fairies seem to be just shouting in general.

Also, Aya’s in the crowd. You’re not sure if she just showed up or if you didn’t notice her earlier, but that is definitely her clicking away with a camera.

Damnit.

---

[ ] Outlast her. Sekibanki is awful cocky for a hedge youkai. She’ll make a mistake you can pounce on sooner rather than later. All you have to do in the meantime is not fuck up.

[ ] Overwhelm her. Sekibanki talks a big game about fear and hunting, but you know them better than her. Hit hard and fast, and dictate the tempo of the duel.
>> No. 190893
[X] Overwhelm her. Sekibanki talks a big game about fear and hunting, but you know them better than her. Hit hard and fast, and dictate the tempo of the duel.
>> No. 190904
[X] Outlast her. Sekibanki is awful cocky for a hedge youkai. She’ll make a mistake you can pounce on sooner rather than later. All you have to do in the meantime is not fuck up.
>> No. 190908
What would be better for the people in Gensokyo to read? One option is hiding our skill, the other is showing it.

I think it will make people comfortable if they think of the new outsiders as all bark and no bite. Let's talk the slow approach.

[x] Outlast
Besides, our rival's patience is... Lacking.
>> No. 190912
We're used to fighting and dictating tempo in real battles, making it so that we win without touching her I think is the true win -- hides our strength levels from the populace with Aya snapping so that the only thing she gets is pictures of Seki's spellcards instead of anything of our own but also proves we're not someone to be ignored.

Good space to work in and gives us some practice with a fighting style that is still foreign to us, shouldn't ignore a learning opportunity for what it is, in the future they're only going to get harder.

[x] Outlast her. Sekibanki is awful cocky for a hedge youkai. She’ll make a mistake you can pounce on sooner rather than later. All you have to do in the meantime is not fuck up.
>> No. 190917
[x] Outlast her. Sekibanki is awful cocky for a hedge youkai. She’ll make a mistake you can pounce on sooner rather than later. All you have to do in the meantime is not fuck up.
>> No. 190923
[x] Outlast her. Sekibanki is awful cocky for a hedge youkai. She’ll make a mistake you can pounce on sooner rather than later. All you have to do in the meantime is not fuck up.
>> No. 190935
[X] Outlast her. Sekibanki is awful cocky for a hedge youkai. She’ll make a mistake you can pounce on sooner rather than later. All you have to do in the meantime is not fuck up.
>> No. 191295
[X] Outlast.

---

Even if Aya wasn’t here, it’s clear that the spectators expect you to put on a show. While the urge to once again knock Seki’s head off is tantalizing, you can’t just go apeshit on her. You need a plan. Everyone’s expecting you to try and match Sekibanki’s offense with your own. However, patience isn’t one of her strong points. If she has to keep chasing you, she’ll get frustrated and start making mistakes. Add in what Kotohime told you about that one card’s blindspot...

You grin. This is going to be fun if you pull it off.

Sekibanki’s still looking at you, anticipating a spellcard of your own in retaliation as her own peters out.

“Go on, human!” She shouts. “Let’s see what you’ve got!”

You answer her by raising your hands in front of you and firing a barrage of red and white shots, mimicking a gout of flame. Seki reacts within moments, darting out of the path of your attack. She looks down at you with a grin full of bravado.

“It’ll take more than-”

“Heard you the first time.” You snap, firing a second attack travelling from the direction Sekibanki used to evade the first. She isn’t fast enough this time. Seki shouts as the curtain of red and white sparks sweeps over her. As your attack dies down, you see Sekibanki smacking a fist against her side and grimacing. You must have gotten a shot in.

When she locks eyes with you again, there’s only fury. She snarls and holds up another spellcard. There’s a flash of light, and her head detaches itself. A heartbeat later, a sunburst of danmaku radiates from her empty neck. You dodge the initial spread with room to spare, but something slams into your back and knocks you straight into the path of the next.

As it turns out, danmaku hurts. The ray of light sears through you like an electric current, and you grunt in pain and surprise before you reorient yourself. You spot Sekibanki’s smirking head as it floats from behind you back to her body. The crowd goes wild, although Wakasagihime winced and looks away.

Well, you said it could be fun. You never said it was going to be easy.

---

For the second time since the beginning of the duel, you pick yourself off the ground and shake the dirt off. You’ve given as good as you got, but Sekibanki has much more experience than you do. The crowd, sensing the end of the match, reaches a fever pitch. From above the lake, a dishevelled, singed, and wobbling Sekibanki strikes a pose with a spellcard in her hand.

“You put up a good fight, human, but there was only one way this fight could end!”

The card flares, and a swarm of heads coalesce around Sekibanki before spreading out to surround you.

“Stand still and I’ll make this quick!”


Each head, including the original, grins and fires beams of light from their eyes. You’re stuck on the ground in the center of a tightening web of light and pain, and for the love of you, you can’t stop smiling the grin of a fox who found the henhouse unlocked.

You can see the blind spot. The pattern mirrors its creator: Loud and flashy, but marred by a critical overconfidence that you are once again about to exploit.

A moment before the beams hit, you move- not up and not aside, but forward. The crowd gasps and the eyes of each head widen as you sprint towards the Rokurokubi floating above the choppy water of the lake’s edge, hand closing around the first and only spellcard you’ll use today. With Seki’s shots striking the ground all around you, you make a running leap and propel yourself upwards, towards your foe’s startled face.

“Fine!” She growls, raising a hand at you. “Have it your-”

“Muzzle Sign: Powder Burn!”

A cone of sparks erupts from your card. At this range, the majority of them connect with a gratifying *pop* that sends Sekibanki falling from the impact and you from the recoil. The safeties kick in before either of you hits the water, but Sekibanki, still disoriented, tries to land and falls into the lake right away. Her head bobs above the surface a second later.

“I can’t swim! Help!” She shouts, flailing her arms

You suppress a chuckle at the abrupt change in attitude. She was floating above a shallow area, so you aren't too concerned. You fly over to haul her out regardless, but you’re not the only one with that idea. Wakasagihime dives into the water with breathtaking grace and swims to her struggling friend.

From what you can see through the rising mist, the crowd is going wild. Most of them seem to be crying foul, but the rest are too impressed to be angry. As for the Fairies, it seems like they just appreciate the excuse to be loud and raucous. Aya isn’t going to lack writing material.

Well, as long as they aren’t going to start shit once you get back, it’s all the same for now.

It’s a testament to Waka’s skill that she reaches Sekibanki only seconds after you do. You grab her arms and pull her above the waves, while Waka follows your example and supports her body.

“Are you alright?” You ask her as you all start moving back to shore.
She glares at you with the fury of a sopping wet cat. “M’ fine.” She growls, though she doesn’t reject your assistance.

“Both of you did really well!” Wakasagihime says, trying to keep things civil. “It was such a close match. Everyone back at the shore is going to be talking about this for a while!”

“So flight doesn't work underwater?” You ask.

“I’m afraid not.” Waka replies before her friend can say anything. “For whatever reason, it doesn't work if you're surrounded by water.”

“Huh. Well, good to know.” You look down at Sekibanki. “Hey, good game.” You tell her. “I mean it.”

Another glare. “Yeah. Thanks.”

Silence descends upon you, but Sekibanki looks like something’s bothering her. It’s not long before she brings it up.

Seikibanki lowers her voice. “How’d you know about that last spellcard?” She asks you.

“I saw an opening and I went for it.” You tell her. “You had me in something of a corner, and I figured that if I was going to lose, I ought to at least give everyone a show.” You say, indicating the crowd of youkai. It’s true enough.
>> No. 191296
You’re almost back to shore now, and both you and Waka let Seki move on her own for the sake of her dignity.

“You know, shouldn’t the mist be gone by now?” You ask. “I read that it’s supposed to peak at noon, but this looks like it’s getting thicker.”

“I’ve been thinking the same thing.” Waka says, turning to you. “Maybe there’s a storm rolling i- woah!” She almosts falls forwards as the tide draws in.

Wait. You three aren’t that close to the shore yet...

You turn around in time to see a swell of dark blue lakewater rush towards you, faster than any of the other waves. You try to fly higher, but the wave rears up and smacks you into the lake regardless. You spot Waka trying to keep Seki from being swamped as well, and then you go under.

The water's dark, cold, and raging as though in a storm. It saps the warmth from your blood and the breath from your lungs. You manage to find the surface and start swimming up, but right before you reach it, something icy and heavy wraps around your leg like a chain. You struggle against it, but it isn't moving and you're running out of breath.

There's only one option. You hope that Waka and Seki aren't going to be too close. Closing your eyes, you find your center and sense for a path to the shore.

Less than a heartbeat later, there's a booming crack as you shift into lightning and drop onto the beach, panting and coughing up water. Sekibanki, still sopping wet, is staring at you from about ten feet away.

“Where's Waka?” You shout.

“She went back to get you.” Seki says, taking a step back with wide eyes. “What the hell did you just do?”

“Later.” You say, turning around to scan the water for the mermaid. She's swimming back to shore, almost ignoring the turbulent water around her.

You raise your hand towards her and clench it into a fist, flash freezing the water around her to buy her some space. She flops onto land a few seconds later and raises herself into the air before heading next to you and Seki.

All of the spectators have fled at this point, and it's easy to see why. The fog has coalesced into a pallid screen across Waka’s cove, making it impossible to see outside the immediate area. A column of steam is rising from where you shifted into lighting, and the waves are splashing farther and farther on the beach - closer and closer to you.

“You two should leave.” You address the pair of youkai. “Just for a bit. It'll be safe to come back when the fog clears.”

“But- there's something in the lake trying to get you!” Waka protests, on the verge of hyperventilating.

“Listen to her.” Seki says, glaring at you. “Don't be an idiot.”

You grin and shake your head, spilling drops of water across the sand. “No, this problem is only going to get worse if I try to ignore it, and I can't just leave it parked outside of your house. Besides...” You cup your hands together and conjure a flame, both to warm you and highlight your position. “I'm far from helpless.”

Waka and Seki both recoil from the fire in your hands. “So you were right, then.” Seki mutters. “The Templar are real.”

“Banki, we should go.” Waka tugs her sleeve before looking up at you with fear in her eyes. “Charlotte, if you- when you finish this, we need to talk. For now, promise me you'll stay safe, okay?”

You nod. “I promise.”

The two of them fly off, and you turn back to contemplate your attacker.

You hate fog. It's a weather phenomenon that New England has taught you to despise with more intensity than you reserve for most people. Just like then, there’s something - in this case, someone - behind it who wants you to die. A thermal scan of the water confirms this.

“It looks like you've got something to tell me, Minamitsu.” You shout toward the water. “Why don't you come out and say it?”

A plume of water erupts from the lack surface. When it dies down, a pale figure is floating there, holding a massive anchor with casual ease in one hand and reeling in its chain with the other.

“Charlotte, huh?” She drawls, eyes glowing an eerie blue-green. “You're more slippery than I expected. Why don't you come a bit closer, so you can get acquainted with the other half? She finishes winding up the chain and hefts the anchor to her shoulder.

You take the opportunity to study the specter in front of you. Murasa has a boyish, youthful complexion that reminds you how young she was when she died. It's also twisted in a hateful grimace that also reminds you of how she’s now a restless ghost given purpose by murderous revenge. Her sailor uniform is rippling as though she's still submerged, and from beneath her cap, her jet-black hair is doing the same.

Well, the chain wasn't in the dossier. You almost have to admire her effort to learn a new way of kill people.

You ignore the goading and look her in the eye, not letting the creeping chill weaken your fire. “What do you want to tell me?”

She sneers. “Don’t give me that. You really think you or any other snake wearing a cross can claim the moral high ground?”

As a matter of fact, yes. You'll be the first to admit that your society isn't perfect, which is something the old guard would rather die than do. Still, the Templar remove more evil from the world than they put in.

Murasa is waiting for a response, but you've learned that it's best to let angry, violent people rant for a while. Sometimes it lets them calm down to the point that they can be reasoned with, but most of the time it just gives you more time to plan their takedown.

Of course, Byakuren isn't going to be happy if you forcibly exorcize one of her closest subordinates.

Murasa continues, infuriated by your silence. “You're all just a bunch of fork-tongued do-gooders who think that your shit don't stink. Hijiri was giving people a second chance! We were living between the cracks in a world that hated us and wanted us ground into the mud!”

Tough shit. This is a world for humans, by humans. It's been that way since the days of clay tablets and cuneiform, and there is no space to spare for creatures that skulk around in the dark, nipping at the heels of mankind. As nice as today's Byakuren may be, your order didn't stomp her into Hell a thousand years ago just for fun.

“I remember what you people did.” Murasa goes on, the bone-white grip of her knuckles standing out against the black anchor. “I remember who killed us and kicked us into a fucking corpse of a world to rot, even if the others want to pretend that everything's fine.”

She's put quite some thought into this rant, though you can't fault her. As a vengeful spirit, Murasa would literally cease to exist in this world without her grudge. It's just a shame that her grudge is posing an obstacle to your mission and physical well-being.

You're strong enough to deal with her, if you have to. You don't think that's the best option, though, considering that word is guaranteed to have gotten out by now. Aya also doesn't strike you as the type to spook easy; fog wouldn't register as an obstacle to a scoop like this.

At this rate, you won't be able to use the bathroom without someone jumping out of the toilet and assaulting you. You almost miss your previous deployments. Sure, just about everything was trying to kill you, but at least everyone knew the score. Monsters kill humans, humans kill monsters.

Well, that's not the main issue, and that thinking isn't going to work here and now. What's the best way to resolve the standoff?

---

[ ] Argue: Byakuren had a lot of blood on her hands.
[ ] Descalate: You’re right. We made a mistake.
[ ] Intimidate: You sailor-ghost-maggot! Do NOT make me kill you again, Murasa!
[ ] Invoke: Does Byakuren know about this heart to heart?
>> No. 191297
[x] Invoke: Does Byakuren know about this heart to heart?
>> No. 191298
[x] Invoke: Does Byakuren know about this heart to heart?
>> No. 191299
Wait, shit, that wasn't me double-posting was it?
>> No. 191300
>>191299

You could try deleting both. Only your IP can delete your posts, far as I know, and even then you need the password.
>> No. 191304
[X] Descalate: You’re right. We made a mistake.
>> No. 191305
[X] Invoke: Does Byakuren know about this heart to heart?

In this case, we're more likely to get results by stalling until someone else arrives than we are to change her mind.
>> No. 191306
Part of me wants to go a fifth route, something along the lines of, "Wow, Byakuren asked us for a favor, we agreed to help her and she sends one of her trusted to come hunt us down? I guess we can see her true colors now if that's what she does for people that help her out."

I give it a 30/70 on either instant enrage or instant "fuuuuuuuuck".
>> No. 191308
>>191299
It's not. One of those is me, and I'm pretty sure I'm not you.
>> No. 191311
[x] Parenting: Murasa, go to your room. I'm calling Lady Byakuren. The two of you can talk it out.
>> No. 191312
[x] Invoke: Does Byakuren know about this heart to heart?
>> No. 191313
Seems like Charlotte would be much more comfortable if she could just smash all the uppity monsters who attack her. It's understandable, but I have to wonder how the other Secret Worlders are feeling about the need for youkai diplomacy. And was that lightning ability from the game? I haven't personally played it.

>>191306
I kind of want to do this too, now. Though I think there's also some chance that Murasa would just assume Charlotte was lying, if she doesn't believe Byakuren would forgive dirty Templars. ...which could still happen with the Invoke option, but:

[x] Invoke: Does Byakuren know about this heart to heart?
>> No. 191314
[X] Invoke: Does Byakuren know about this heart to heart?
>> No. 191315
[X] Argue: Byakuren had a lot of blood on her hands.

Pissing into the tide because fuck Byakuren and her little gang of monsters.
>> No. 191316
Y'all need youkai jesus.
>> No. 191317
[x] Argue: Byakuren had a lot of blood on her hands.
[x] Invoke: Does Byakuren know about this heart to heart?

Are these two compatible?
>> No. 191321
>>191317
If the first answer enrages Murasa, she won't listen to the next.
>>191313
You don't have to worry about Caleb or Junko starting any wars without you looking. They're getting accosted by Gensokyo's denizens as well. As for the lighting ability, there's an elemental outer ring ability that teleports your character forwards and cleanses them (I think). I'll look up the name when I'm back home.
>> No. 191334
x] Descalate: she has found a new way know and that's why we support her.

Siding with Byakuren in that fateful choice is the success that keeps on giving
>> No. 191340
>>191313

"Flicker
Elementalism, Altered States (21 AP)
Instant cast, 20.0 cooldown
You teleport 10 metres forward, cleansing all root and snare effects from you."
>> No. 191341
Invoke is in the lead with 6 (7?) votes out of 11.
>> No. 191354
[X] Invoke: Does Byakuren know about this heart to heart?
>> No. 191932
File 147634051393.gif - (867.17KB, 500x281, Touhou Buddhist Diplomacy.gif) [iqdb]
191932
[X] Invoke

---

You stand your ground against Murasa, the fire held in your hands a ward against her chilling presence. She’s glaring at you with the kind of hatred that takes several lifetimes to ferment, and has already led to one murder attempt.

You take a deep breath. “Murasa, I don’t think you should do this. We shouldn’t fight. If you want to use spellcards-”

She sneers at you and raises her anchor, pointing it at you. “So you’re a coward as well?”

The only acknowledgement you give the insult is a momentary flicker in the flame. “Does Byakuren know about this?”

Murasa goes stiff. “What was that?”

“She asked us to help preserve the peace between humans and youkai, and now here we are.” You say. “I’m getting mixed signals.”

Her eyes narrow. “You think you get to use her name?” She shouts, the waves breaking against the shore with increasing violence.

You’ve struck a nerve. You had hoped that Murasa’s devotion to her savior would outweigh her hatred for you, but it seems that the two have become conflated in her mind.

You press on. “Do you think this is the best way to represent Byakuren’s mission?” You retort. “What happens if you kill me? What do you think everyone else is going to do about a youkai killing humans?”

“Youkai kill humans all the time.” She growls, looking into your eyes. “It’s just the way things are. What’s one more?”

“Not anymore.” You say, voice low and fire high. “Not today.”

Murasa’s jaw is taut as she grapples with your words, grinding her teeth together. She’d be hyperventilating if she could still breathe.

She leans forward with a scowl on her face. “We’ll see about that.”

WIthout further warning, she raises her ritual ladle to the sky and points it at you. In response, the water of the lake gathers into a massive wave and surges forward to swallow you. With a shout, you thrust your palm forwards and make a fist. Fire turns to ice, and the water’s roar dies down to a groan as it freezes in seconds.

This doesn’t stop Murasa, who phases through the wall of ice, snarling in fury as she swings her anchor to crush you. You take a step back, launching yourself into the air, and shield your eyes from the spray of sand the impact kicks up. Murasa’s stronger and faster than an average specter.

She isn’t fast enough. You follow the rattling of chains and punch a fireball toward the sound. There’s a sizzle and a shriek, and you turn to find Murasa propping herself against her anchor. Her abdomen is blurry and indistinct, the details smudging together like ink on wet paper until she grimaces and her form clarifies itself.

“Go home, Minamitsu.” You warn her, arcs of electricity dancing between your fingers. “Whatever vengeance you’re looking for, you aren’t going to find it here.”

She doesn’t bother responding to you, instead howling in fury as she lashes out with her chain at your head. You curse and swerve, trying to escape, but you aren’t fast enough this time. Murasa catches your ankle and yanks you back onto the ground.

You spit out wet sand and prop yourself up as you feel a pull on your leg. Murasa is dragging you to the water instead of the other way around.

She forgot that the chain works both ways. With a snarl, you reach over and clamp a hand onto it . Murasa jolts backwards, releasing her hold and losing coherence throughout her entire body.

“Didn’t think that through, did you?” You shout, shaking yourself free and standing up. “I don’t enjoy repeating myself, Minamitsu. You aren’t going to win, and the longer it takes you to realize this, the worse things are going to get for your temple when people find out.”

“That’s fine.” She says, driving her anchor into the sand and standing on it. “I can do discrete.”

“Of course you can.” You snort. “That’s why you made a point of interrupting a public gathering and endangered youkai who have nothing to do with either of us just to get at me. You don’t get it, do you?”

You take a deep breath, and fire dances along your fists. “I’m going to fly back to the village now, so I can prepare and help in accordance with how Byakuren, YOUR RESCUER, AND THE WOMAN WHOSE WORD YOU ARE PRESENTLY DRAGGING THROUGH THE MUD, personally asked me to.” You roar, daring her to answer. “Any objections?“

Murasa flinches at your shouting and bares her teeth, seething with impotent rage. The waves melt back into the lake as she stands defeated.

“Good. We can sort this mess out later.” You say as you turn away from her. “I’ve got a job to do.”

You fly away with your drone, paying attention for any signal of attack. There’s no whistle of chain or spray of water, and even the chill is fading. Murasa isn’t coming after you.

---

The rush of adrenaline wears off and is replaced by a churning in your gut. Things with Byakuren just got much more complicated. You don’t think she tried to backstab you, but failing this hard at keeping her subordinates in line is almost as bad.

How trustworthy could she be if she lets stuff like this pass?

You grunt and shake your head. You’ll hear what they have to say for themselves first.

Your drone points to a section of the forest beneath you and beeps. It’s found the heat signatures of Wakasagihime and Sekibanki, and it seems they’ve noticed you too.

You set down in the clearing, keeping weight off your ankle. “The problem’s been taken care of.” You announce to Waka and Seki. “It’s safe to head back.”

Sekibanki is still damp, but has regained much of her composure by now. The two of them managed to carry along the wheelchair during the commotion, and Waka is now sitting in it.

Sekibanki narrows her eyes. “You didn’t kill whoever it was, did you?”

“I gave her a stern talking-to, and no, that’s not a euphemism for anything.” You say. “Everyone made it out of this alive and well.” You’re interpreting the word broadly, but that isn’t important for the discussion.

The color has returned to Wakasagi’s face, though she’s still worried. “I can’t imagine anyone or anything in the lake doing this to you. You haven’t even been spending that much time here. What happened?”

“Someone wanted to show off.” You say, avoiding eye contact with Sekibanki. “They decided that they wanted to make a name for themselves by attacking in front of a crowd.”

Waka’s eyes widen in horror and she gasps. “But that- you aren’t supposed to attack someone like that!”

“The no-kill rule, right?” You ask.

“She might not been out to kill you.” Sekibanki says. “I mean, she could beat you only mostly to death and still be technically in the clear.”

“Not speaking from experience, I’d hope.” You tell her. “Well, nobody got killed, and I’ve backed her into a corner. She’s not going to cause any more trouble.” You sigh. “I’m sorry that you got involved.”

“It’s alright, but... can every human from the outside do that?” Waka asks.

You call a candle-sized flame to the palm of your hand. “Magic?”

She and Seki both wince at the sight, and you immediately snuff it out with a flick of your wrist. “Yes. Charlotte, I know that you’re not going to hurt people with it-”

You hope so too, but that doesn’t seem to be worth much in here.

“- but I just want to let you know that it’s going to make people nervous.”

“That’s odd. Marisa and Reimu seem to show off all the time, and their magic is much flashier.” You frown, and a thought occurs to you. “But they use spellcards all the time.”

Sekibanki nods. “Yeah. Don’t get me wrong, nobody likes getting beaten up by her, but at least we know she isn’t going to kill anyone who sticks to the rules. Back at the lake, when you were looking into the mist- You’ve killed before, haven’t you?”

You can tell that the question has been on their minds for a while, ever since you first tore Seki’s head off. Are they worried that you’re going on some kind of rampage tonight?

“Yeah.” You tell them. “More times than I can count. None of them without good cause.”

“What kind of cause could there possibly be for such a thing?” Waka asks.

“Preventing or avenging the slaughter of innocents.” You answer, not looking away. “Gensokyo is different from the rest of the world. As big as the incidents you guys have on a regular basis, ours are bigger, and the bad guys aren’t polite enough to bother with spell cards.”

Maybe Yukari and the Hakurei did a good job of screening out all the crazies. Maybe all the troublemakers died out in the early chaos.

“So you’re saying that they’d round up people like us?” Seki asks, accusing.

“Not unless you started killing people.” You retort. “You’d be severely overestimating your importance in the eyes of an organization that has dictated history and protected humanity for five thousand years.”

“What about youkai?”

You turn back to find Wakasagihime looking into your eyes. “Does protecting humans mean killing youkai?” She asks.

The clearing is silent. It feels like more eyes than just these pair are watching you.

“No.” You say. “Humans and youkai have fought each other, but that isn’t the only way we’ve met. It doesn’t have to be.” You sigh. “Look, I’m human and you’re not, but neither of us wants to hurt people.”

“But isn’t it your job?” Waka asks. “You’re a Templar, and you have guns and fire.”

“People don’t alway love their jobs.” You say. “Being skilled at something is different from enjoying it.”

From the looks on their faces, Waka and Seki remain unsure.They’re wary about what you represent, but don’t have any reason so far to panic around you.

“You’re saying a bunch of nice things now, but the Village is full of assholes just itching for a power trip.” Sekibanki says, folding her arms. Waka winces and looks away. “They’ve gotta be drooling over you and your buddies. Whether you like it or not, you’re making them bolder just by being around, and that’s going to make life hell for us.”

“It’s alright, Banki.” Wakasagihime tries to reassure her friend. “The Hakurei miko will sort things out.”

“First off, I have to say that I've seen her whack way more youkai than humans.” Seki says. “Secondly, she's missing. Nobody knows where she went or when she's coming back.”

Wakasagi gasps and puts a hand over her mouth. “Since when?”

“Since the big ruckus at the Shrine.” Sekibanki says, looking at you. “I’m guessing you and your buddies were there?”

You shrug. “I would hope so. We were there, working with a bunch of people from all over Gensokyo. I was hoping that it would have been a bonding experience and they wouldn’t send people to kill me later, but that might be wishful thinking.”

Sekibanki groans and shakes her head. “I’m not even going to ask. Just-” She glances over at Waka, who jerks her head slightly at you.

She winces as she looks back to you.“Look, I’m sorry for approaching you the way I did. It was honestly pretty stupid, and I should have known better. I just wanna ask you to not hold it against the rest of us.”

“You mean other youkai?” You ask. “Sure. I wasn’t going to.”

“I was specifically thinking about us, uh... ‘lesser youkai’.” Sekibanki says, her voice growing scornful at the term. “You know, the sort who don’t have giant mansions or spooky lake assassins to sic on you. I mean, we’re the last folks they need to worry about getting eaten by-”

“Banki!” Waka raises her voice. You weren’t sure if she had it in her. “I don’t like the term either, but that’s just what people call those of us who aren’t part of any of the big groups.” She says, fighting the quaver in her voice. “The Village is full of kind people, but some of them aren’t... kind.”

“Yep.” Sekibanki nods, a dark expression on her face. “We’re easy targets, is what she’s trying to say. We aren’t few, but we’re scattered and in easy mobbing distance. Just something to keep in mind before you go get the guardsmen all fired up tonight.”
>> No. 191933
File 147634098481.jpg - (75.08KB, 500x497, tumblr_n92lmgU6Ar1tqspp6o1_500.jpg) [iqdb]
191933
You part company with them not long after. The conversation taught you a bit more about the social web of Gensokyo, and you like it even less. If Waka and Banki are correct, then the Village as a whole may have to change before it can be a trustworthy ally.

Speaking of the Village, you arrive there without fuss. The heavy smell of lakewater clings to you, but everyone is polite enough to avoid mentioning it.

Perhaps too polite. The Village guards react to your presence much sooner this time, straightening up as soon as you come into view, with a couple raising hesitant salutes as you draw near.

You see two problems with this. The first is that you haven’t formalized your relationship with the guard yet, which could make things awkward if people start expecting you to wield authority you never wanted. The second is that their salutes are so sloppy that it makes you twitch.

There are more guards out and about, likely as a show of force. Most of them are wearing an expression halfway between boredom and nervous anticipation.

You acknowledge them with a nod as you pass and head straight to the workshop. You’ve got work to do.

Rikako answers the door this time.

“Hi- oh, my. I take it you’ve been to the lake?” She holds the door open and blinks as she takes a breath.

“Yeah. It’s a long story and I’d prefer to talk about it later.” You say, following her inside. “The important thing is that I won. I couldn’t have done it without your lessons.”

Rika isn’t in sight, but the muted sound of welding gives some indication of where she is.

Rikako smiles. “Please, I only showed you the very basics. It’s good to see that you’re getting some experience, though. Anyways, you’re here to pick up the Satori’s package and prepare for the hunt tonight, right?”

“Yeah.” You point to a briefcase with several ofuda attached. “Would that be it?”

Rikako nods. “That kasha of hers dropped it off first thing in the morning. She must have been worried about Marisa stealing it.”

You groan. “Don’t even joke about it. The first time was enough trouble.”

You take a closer look at the briefcase. It’s made of leather, worn and scuffed with age. The writing on the Ofuda is simple and precise, and seems to be dampening the magical signature of the contents.

Whatever’s inside is going to be interesting.

“Alright. If you don’t mind me asking, what’s in the package?”

“It’s a replacement shotgun, for a weapon of mine that was inadvertently destroyed.” You explain as you undo the clasp and open the case. “She was ambiguous on what to expect, but I imagine it’s... something...” You trail off as you examine the weapon inside.

Your previous weapon was nice, but this one is almost a work of art.

It’s an antique boxlock shotgun. You can only marvel in silence as you hold it. Its stock and grip are made of dark Royal walnut, and tarnished brass filigree adorns the sides of the breech. Its barrels are black, and have been shortened to make it more maneuverable. Whoever it belonged to valued both form and function.

A slip of faded parchment is affixed to one side of the stock with a crumbling wax seal that bears the unmistakeable sign of your Order. One the other side, that same cross is repeated in red, white, and gold paint. There is an inscription on a barrel that reads “Rosslyn”.

This gun belonged to a member of the expedition. None of them were named Rosslyn, but it appears that somebody was in the habit of naming their guns.

This is a crusader’s weapon, forged with conviction and anointed in blood.

Of course, it must have been at least a century since it was last used. In addition to converting it to fire your Anima instead of bullets, you’ll have to repair some of the faulty components.

“Wow.” Rikako breathes. “That’s certainly impressive. I wasn’t aware that Satori was a gun collector.”


“I just want to know how she got it.” You say. “This belonged to one of the Templars from the first days of Gensokyo.”

There’s a note at the bottom of the case:


---

Charlotte,

I hope this letter and its accompanying gift find you well. I imagine that you have had a thorough look of the weapon by now, and hope that you have found it satisfactory. While I am no gunslinger myself, I believe that it is a sufficient repayment for the unfortunate damage my sister caused you.

You must be wondering where I found such an exquisite weapon. The truth of the matter is that not even I know, even after using my extensive talents. This “Rosslyn” happened to be stored in a section of the Palace that I do not frequently use, and it is unclear to me how long it has been lying there.

In light of all the questions this raises for both of us, I would like to once more remind you of my invitation to visit. We have much to discuss, and the Palace affords a great deal of privacy.

Sincerely,
Satori Komeiji, Viceroy of the Former Hell

P.S. I have noticed a slight presence from the weapon. I suspect that it may be host to a developing tsukumogami - it’s certainly old enough.

---

You’re currently very grateful that, of all the weapons Satori could have possibly compensated you with, she chose this one. If she wanted to give you a reason to go all the way down there to chat, she succeeded. At least she’s taking the initiative to reach out to you rather than vice versa.

The tsukumogami issue is a surprise, but perhaps to be expected with such a high concentration of youkai. Given its background, it would be more likely than not to be aligned with you. You’ll just have to be vigilant against any attempts to influence your behavior, though your recharging Bee should stop most of it.

“You know, if that’s a Templar weapon, you should take it with you when you visit Muenzuka.” Rikako offers. “Chances are that at least a few Templars are buried there, and one of them might have owned it in the past. Between that and you being an actual Templar, I’m sure you’d get a reaction if they’re buried there.”

You nod and stow the note. “Hopefully that reaction won’t be from the local reapers.”

She gives you an awkward smile. “Well, no use in dwelling on that. Anyways, I’ve got to attend to a project of my own, so feel free to use whatever’s available to prepare. Just remember to clean up afterwards; Rika will be very upset otherwise.”

---

You have time for up to two projects.

[ ] “Rosslyn”: Antique boxlock shotgun. High damage potential in close quarters, passable effectiveness at medium range. Appears to have belonged to a previous member of the Templar task force. Possible nascent Tsukumogami. Unclear how it came to be in Satori's possession.
[ ] 1 IED: Will kill or incapacitate the Gashadokuro outright on a direct hit and inflict severe damage on a glancing hit. Collateral damage may be a concern. Will be retained if not detonated. Weaker than a Daisycutter.
[ ] 1 Turret: Firepower and effective range varies depending on loadout but is more sustained than bombs. IFF negates threat of friendly fire. Requires repairs if damaged.
[ ] RPG-7: Able to inflict severe damage against fortified targets and structures from range, though with a lengthy recharge period. Rocket jumping can be used to move or ascend faster than opponents may be prepared for, but will injure yourself.
[ ] 2 Drones: Can be outfitted for a variety of roles including combat and recon. Firepower and effective range are both limited but compensated for by mobility and evasion. Recon drones are difficult even for magic-users and youkai to detect when still. Requires repairs if damaged
[ ] RK-2’s 2nd Eye: Whatever intel is in there could be of great, though not immediate, importance to you and your Order.
>> No. 191934
Time and energy are going to be limited for the next couple of months due to university. However, I don't plan on abandoning this project as long as I have support.

As always, your feedback and opinions are appreciated.
>> No. 191935
[X] “Rosslyn”: Antique boxlock shotgun.
[X] 2 Drones: Can be outfitted for a variety of roles including combat and recon.

The shotgun for reliable close-quarters damage, the the drones for versatility.
>> No. 191936
>>191934

You have my respect for that, if it counts for anything. But then, just starting a Secret World and Touhou crossover had me giddy, way back when.

Anywho, good luck with university, and good luck finding time to write!

...In as non-sarcastic a way as possible. Seriously, wish you well~ I'd hate to lose another author I respect.
>> No. 191937
[X] “Rosslyn”
[X] RK-2’s 2nd Eye
>> No. 191938
[X] “Rosslyn”
[X] RK-2’s 2nd Eye

This seems like it'd give the most information.
>> No. 191939
Oh boy, things got complicated.

While I'm more than glad that we chose Byakuren's support and her ideals of balance over earning more favor with the village (which still evens out due to our group historic tradition of defending humanity) it doesn't seem to have earned us much favor with Youkai; Even those in her inner circle.

I suppose the bias against powerful outsiders is too great. It all hinges on being fair and balanced© on the expedition.
That should sway their hearts and show the village that there's a third option between kill or be killed.

Hell, even if Youkai Jesus is planning on double crossing the crusaders, an honest-to-god effort could convince her.

[x] Rosslyn

Do want masterwork shotgun. And, if it turns into a Tsukumogami, that just means another ally in our quest.

[x] Turret (long range)

Sustained support, specially one that can't hit allies and sits safely on the back line, should help morale and enable the group to fight longer. And, if you manage to put a Kappa near one, you don't even have to worry about downtime.
>> No. 191941
[X] “Rosslyn”: Antique boxlock shotgun.
[X] 2 Drones
>> No. 191942
[x] “Rosslyn”
[x] 1 Turret
>> No. 191949
Rosslyn: 6
Drones:2
Turret:2
Eye:2
>> No. 191950
[X] “Rosslyn”
[X] 2 Drones
>> No. 191951
[X] “Rosslyn”
[X] Turrets

Fuck yeah ties
>> No. 191953
[X] “Rosslyn”: Antique boxlock shotgun.
[X] 2 Drones

Didn't like the scene with WakaBanki. Felt like it popped up out of nowhere.
>> No. 191955
>>191953
Shucks. It didn't feel right for me to not bring them up after they fled. They'd at least want to know that the danger was gone and that you weren't dead, and I thought that it would be weird if you just popped in to say 'i'm fine' and went off. I suppose I could have had Charlotte send the drone after them. I'll keep it in mind for next time.
>> No. 191958
>>191955
It was the infodump, really. It was too long and had too much back and forth over Charlotte's argument that Templars aren't all bad.
>> No. 191959
[x] 1 IED
[x] RK-2’s 2nd Eye: Whatever intel is in there could be of great, though not immediate, importance to you and your Order.

Go go wind pissing.
>> No. 191962
>>191955

Thought the scene was fine as it was. Not sure what the criticism was about.
>> No. 191963
I thought the scene was fine. This has been an info heavy story anyways.
>> No. 191964
Sometimes infodumps are unavoidable. I think it's just fine in a situation like that, personally.
>> No. 191968
Char talking to Waka and Banki was my favourite part. The whole templar/youkai dynamic is really well done.
>> No. 191970
I think it would've been strange not to have that scene. There wasn't time for a post-battle chat before then, and we needed to sort out where we stood now. The conflict would've felt unresolved otherwise.
>> No. 192003
[X] “Rosslyn”
[X] RK-2’s 2nd Eye
>> No. 192024
10 votes for Rosslyn
4 votes for drones
4 votes for eyes
1 vote for the IED
>> No. 192054
I need a tiebreaker between the eye and the drones.
>> No. 192055
>>192054

>>191959 here, I'll change my vote to [x] can't beat them drones, then.
>> No. 192056
[X] Rosslyn
[X] Drones
>> No. 193316
[X] Rosslyn
[X] Drones


---


The RK-2 unit’s eye is important, but not immediately so. You can always examine its data once you’ve instilled the fear of humanity into the monsters threatening the Villagers.


You take care of the drones first. Having built so many of them before, these two don’t take long. You have enough spare parts in your inventory for these, but you’ll have to get a resupply through Ran if you want more. Since the Gashadokuro is made of enchanted bone, you mount microburst lasers instead of the usual electroshock emitters. The damage will still be small, but more effective against armored targets and annoying enough to give you more breathing room.


Restoring Rosslyn takes more time, as your respect for both the weapon itself and its original owner causing you to work with special care. Your meticulous disassembly reveals only slight damage and wear, considering the amount of time that has passed. You clean, repair, and replace as necessary before putting the weapon back together and etching the Anima conversion enchantment onto it. You can tell by holding the gun that it was intended for hands larger than yours, but it’s not going to throw your aim off. You’d love to get some practice with it, but there just isn’t enough time. A field test will have to do.


If Satori is correct and the shotgun is actually a tsukumogami host, it could try to affect your behavior. It isn’t likely to get far against your mental defenses, but it is important for you that you are the one using the tool and not vice versa. You could try to suppress the tsukumogami, but that would worsen performance and draw the ire of the local tsuku. If it matures, the situation would become far more complicated.


Every tool has a purpose. However, a mature tsukumogami is more than just a tool. If this ‘Rosslyn’ manifested a body, they would likely be cooperative, but there’s no guarantee of loyalty.


The policy for this situation states that you are to deliver the tsukumogami to HQ for evaluation. Unfortunately, that’s currently impossible. Fortunately, you’re an Executor now, which is good enough for the foreseeable future.


You leave aside that hypothetical and finish your preparation by cleaning your pistols. The familiar ritual of gun maintenance helps you meditate on your duty and how best to accomplish it. Greater beasts than your current quarry have been slain by your hand and these guns. You aren’t worried.


As you finish up, you hear someone being let in. You look up to see Caleb walking towards you.


“Hey. Working hard, I see.” Caleb pings. He drops a few newspapers on a table before pulling up the nearest seat and sitting down. As he does, he sniffs the air. “Why do you smell like you fell into the lake?”


You grimace. “I’ll tell you later. You look like you’ve got something on your mind. Did anything bad happen with Mamizou?”


“Not quite.” He gives a short, uncomfortable laugh and looks around before continuing. “Besides the usual posturing, she made two very interesting implications: She’s got a way to travel through the Barrier, and Ran is supposed to be dead and buried under a rock.”


That gives you pause.


“Care to elaborate?” You say, raising an eyebrow. “Let’s start with her access. If we manage to get our hands on that, Gensokyo’s outlook against Filth will be much better.”


Caleb shrugs. “Either she came in a few years ago with disturbingly accurate accounts of recent events, including the hotspots we’ve been to, or she’s got someone feeding the news to her. I don’t know what your dossier said about her, but mine doesn’t list that level of precognition.”


“What if she just gets the information from people who fall into this place?” You suggest. “Wait, no. That wouldn’t explain the occult stuff.”


“Well, we’ve already established that you can’t get a signal through the Barrier, even with the tech in these phones.” You go on, turning it on for him to see. “The only times we’ve been able to communicate are when Ran specifically routes it through.”


“Yeah. That actually ties into my second point.” He says, his expression growing darker. “Mamizou claims that there was a sadistic and cunning kitsune active in Japan around the eleventh century. She collaborated with the Jingu to hunt her down, and was there when they killed her. That’s why she was surprised when she saw the kitsune buying fried tofu in the village under the name ‘Yakumo Ran’.


“Maybe they didn’t actually kill her?” You say.


“Mamizou denied that.” Caleb replies. “She said they made sure it was her actual corpse, and not a decoy. Given Mamizou’s experience with illusions, there’s no reason to doubt her.”


You shrug. “So what’s the deal, then? If we’ve been talking to some sort of kitsune zombie, I have a feeling you’d let us know.”


He shakes his head. “She’s alive. She breathes and has a pulse. I can feel blood in her veins. I don’t think that she’s being reanimated.”


“That’s weird.” You say, frowning. “Still, we’ve only got the word of a notorious swindler to go by. Did she offer any actual evidence?”


“Mamizou acknowledged that we didn’t have a good reason to take such a claim on her word alone, but I couldn’t detect any lying.” He says. “She seems serious about it, and I think that it’d be good for us to avoid trusting either of them too much. Besides, I wouldn’t put it past Mamizou to try screwing with us by sabotaging our relationship with Ran, a kitsune.”


“Two birds with one stone, then. Why’d she tell you these things, anyways?” You ask. If you were her, you would think twice about badmouthing the very powerful lieutenant of the local and possibly omniscient reality warper.


“She was showing her face, acknowledging us while also presenting herself as a major player. Apparently, this isn’t the first time she’s met us. She says she was at the Eientei party, disguised as-”


“Mokou.” You realize. “At least for part of it. Oh man, it didn’t register to me that something was wrong when I saw her with Kaguya after she left with Remilia.” You bury your face in your hands. “Just brilliant. That’s so embarrassing.”


“In your defense, you were too busy being happy that we won, and she’s been doing this for longer than our combined age.” Caleb says. “She said that the Eintei crew saw through it, but decided to play along.”


“So yeah. That’s how I spent the day. Dragged along by a tsukumogami to have a chat with a tanuki mafioso before checking out . So, why do you smell like lakewater?”


Oh, right. “Remember the duel I had earlier today?” You begin. “Minamitsu interrupted. She tried to drown me, I drove her back and called her a traitor to Byakuren. Then I came here to work.”


Caleb’s eyes widen in shock, and his mouth sets in a grimace. “Seriously? Byakuren let this happen after making us promise to help her? You know, I didn’t want to take Miko at face value concerning the Buddhists, but this is a mess. Murasa’s supposed to be one of her closest companions, so what does this outburst say about Byakuren’s trustworthiness?”


You nod. “Yeah, I’m not impressed. Byakuren better have a damn good explanation for this, or we’ll need to make clear what happens when people fail to honor promises with us. For now, though, I'm going to attribute this to incompetence instead of malice.”


Having said that, you turn your attention to the newspapers that Caleb brought. They all appear to be editions of the ‘Bunbunmaru’, and you and your colleagues feature prominently on the front pages.


OUTSIDERS APPEAR, DESTROY HAKUREI SHRINE IN BATTLE


OUTSIDER MAVERICK BRUTALIZES LOCAL IN NIGHTTIME AMBUSH


OUTSIDER SWORDSMAN TROUNCES INFAMOUS CELESTIAL IN DUEL


“Oh, for the love of- I saved her life!” You snap, leafing through the papers. “And that wasn’t my ambush! Who wrote that drivel?”


“Aya.” Caleb answers with a rueful grin. “She’s been trying to portray us as scary, violent, and ruthless. The tengu don’t want us here, so they’re trying to make the villagers suspicious as well.”


You sigh. “There’s a limit to how much they can spin a story, especially if their audience can see our work for themselves.”


“Yeah. I heard that Aya’s going to be covering the hunt, so there could be a change to get some leverage with her and the rest of the tengu media. Of course, she might just paint us even worse.”


“We can't let that happen.” You tell him. “If we can’t depend on the humans in Gensokyo, who else is there?”


“Well, there’s always Yuuka.” Caleb offers.


“Alright, fair point.” You admit. “But while she’s powerful, she isn’t invincible, and she appears to have no friendly involvement with anyone outside of her manor. We need the Village, and that means that competing Youkai need to be taken down a peg.”


“We’ve got an opportunity for that tonight.” He says, grinning. “I'm looking forward to the exercise.”


---


A small crowd has gathered at the small roadside shrine serving as the rendezvous. Most of the people there appear to be village guards, but you can spot a number of important youkai and villagers among them. No Myourenji representatives are here, which is just as well. There will be a better time to go nuclear on Byakuren.


The guards are wearing armor of metal and lacquered wood. Most of them are carrying a spear and a sword or machete, but a significant number are carrying bows instead of spears. Eight of the most competent-looking have World War 2-era bolt-action firearms that look to be a mix of Lee-Enfields and Arisakas. Other than their talismans, your drone isn’t detecting significant magical signatures from the group, so they don’t have any mages. They don’t seem to have any electronics either, so no modern comms.


Overall, the villagers aren’t demonstrating the level of expertise that you’re accustomed to working with. At least the gunners aren’t going to run away screaming when they face what goes bump in the night. Assuming that what you’re seeing represents the upper levels of guard competence and equipment, they have a lot of room to improve. If there’s another Filth outbreak and these guys have to hold the line, it won’t be pretty.


Junko is in their midst, demonstrating bladework and regaling them with tales of your group’s past exploits as the guards listen with rapt attention.


“-So we pull ourselves over the wall and take the sentries by surprise. Charlotte goes after the vampire goons, and I charge the officer himself. Spilling blood would draw attention that would cost us time, so I swept snow into his eyes, then bashed my pommel into his pallid face and hit him with an elbow to the temple, then stomped on his throat to keep him quiet.” She says, demonstrating the strikes with a grin. “Charlotte had made popsicles of the other hostiles by then, so we just pushed them over the wall and let gravity clean up before moving on.”


She looks up at your approach. “Speaking of which, here they come. Just in time, too.”

From the other side of the group, Keine notices your arrival and calls for attention. Meira barks an order to the guards, and they jump to a haphazard attention.


“Now that we’re all here, we’ll be going over the plan one last time.” Meira announces to the crowd. “Each of the six teams will monitor their assigned area for the night. If you encounter a feral, engage it, but don’t pursue it into the forest. Watch your backs and don’t split up under any circumstances.” She thumps a fist against her chest. “Now get out there and give ‘em hell!”


“If you want to work with someone, you should ask them while they’re still here.” Junko says, adjusting her armor while the guards . “We have to get to know these people one way or another.”


You can spot a number of people you've previously met milling around. Kasen is here, and she gives you a wave and a warm smile when your eyes meet. It looks like she still remembers her request to go with you.


---


Select a partner:


[ ] Alice: Follow up on those interesting questions her dolls posed.
[ ] Aya: Potentially reduce the severity of propaganda against you.
[ ] Kasen: Ask more questions about Gensokyo's history.
[ ] Marisa: Acquire more knowledge on Gensokyo's number two.
[ ] Mokou: Establish rapport with a fellow immortal.
[ ] Raiko: Establish rapport with a fellow Elementalist and a potential ally.
[ ] None. Make a statement of power.
>> No. 193317
[X] Mokou: Establish rapport with a fellow immortal.

This way if something goes wrong we have immortal backup. Also, Mokou is best girl.
>> No. 193320
[X] Raiko: Establish rapport with a fellow Elementalist and a potential ally.
>> No. 193322
[X] Kasen: Ask more questions about Gensokyo's history.

Maybe she can tell us more about Ran and Mamizou.
>> No. 193325
[X] Mokou: Establish rapport with a fellow immortal.

>before checking out .
>while the guards .
Is Yukari stealing words on us?

Also, thanks for the Christmas update.
>> No. 193327
>>193325

Editing on mobile is difficult.
>> No. 193329
[x] Raiko: Establish rapport with a fellow Elementalist and a potential ally.

I think it'll help Char's image to be seen co-operating with a youkai. Alice prefers to keep to herself, Aya's just as likely to lie out her ass and Kasen's undercover, so that leaves Raiko.

Who also happens to be the leader of the tsukumogami faction. Definitely worth getting in her good books if possible.
>> No. 193331
[x] Kasen: Ask more questions about Gensokyo's history.
>> No. 193358
[x] Raiko: Establish rapport with a fellow Elementalist and a potential ally.
>> No. 193359
[x] Kasen
Here's hoping she dies have info about certain characters...
>> No. 193466
[x] Kasen: Ask more questions about Gensokyo's history.

Just finished rereading this story in its entirety and now having played a bit of TSW I think I appreciate things a lot more. There's all these neat little references that I really enjoy funding. Here's hoping for more updates.
>> No. 193471
>>193466

I know, right? He gets the little lore bits spot-on, not to mention that everything just feels right.
>> No. 193505
[X] Kasen
>> No. 193625
>>193316
[X] Raiko: Establish rapport with a fellow Elementalist and a potential ally.
>> No. 193626
More story instead of practical things like rapport or reducing propaganda? Come on.
>> No. 193632
File 148575506229.png - (953.97KB, 750x663, Gashadokuro.png) [iqdb]
193632
[X] Kasen

---

You approach Kasen through the crowd. She looks surprised at first, but recovers by the time you get close.

“Kasen, do you mind watching my back for tonight?” You ask.

“Oh, um, of course.” She says, an over-wide smile on her face. “Where are you going?”

“At the outskirts of the farms, where Wriggle and I first encountered it.” You tell her. “I can zap it if you can hold it down or trip it.”

She considers your offer for a few seconds, then smiles and nods. “Very well. I trust that you have a plan?”

“Yeah, I do. Come on and I’ll explain it on the way.” You tell her.

---

“You know, I distinctly remember telling you to exercise caution.” Kasen says, looking at you from across a small campfire. Her arms are folded across her chest as she gives you a disapproving glare.

“What? I’m more than capable of dealing with anything the bonedaddy can throw at me.” You say, stoking the fire with loose straw and twigs.

Kasen frowns. “I’m not calling that into question; I just feel like there must be a better way to lure the creature out than using yourself as bait, given your present condition. Also, what’s a bonedaddy?”

“Well, blundering through the forest at this hour is more dangerous. As for the other thing...” You just snort. “I’ll tell you later.”

You and Kasen arrived at the field outskirts without incident. The gashadokuro wasn’t around, but your drone scan found tracks indicating that it’s close. After confirming that the other groups aren’t getting chomped on, you and Kasen decided to wait. Hence, the campfire, giving you something warm to sit around as well as an extra lure for things going bump in the night.

“What’s the outside world like these days, Charlotte?” Kasen asks. “It’s been so long since I’ve come here. There have been people and books that have fallen in through the years, but I imagine that you’ve got a better idea.”

“That’s a pretty open-ended question.” You say, leaning back to watch the rising smoke as you think it over. “Well, technology has come a long way since Gensokyo was formed. It would take way too much time to go over everything that’s changed. Do you know what a cellphone is?”

“Yes. The tengu and kappa have a few of those.”

“Airplanes?”

“I haven’t seen one in person, but I know what they are.”

“Computers?”

“I’ve heard about them. I think the kappa have a few.”

“The internet?”

She pauses. “The what?”

“Okay, I’d guess you’re up to the 70’s. That’s a big thing to miss, but you aren’t that far behind.” You say.

“Population is another big one.” You add. “When did you enter Gensokyo?”

Kasen squirms. “It’s difficult for me to remember.”

“Well, there were about one and a half billion people on the planet in the late 1800’s. Now, there’s over seven billion.”

You look back at Kasen to see her looking at you with an incredulous expression. “Are you sure about those numbers?”

You laugh. “Yeah. Well, you’re not the worst off here. Byakuren’s crew comes from the turn of the millennium, and Miko dates even farther back. I’d bet they’d have heart attacks if they saw modern Japan.”

“You might be underestimating them.” Kasen says. “News of the outside is slow to come here, but it does come.”

You shrug. “Modern Tokyo probably has more people in it than all of Japan did in their day, to say nothing of differences in culture and technology.”

The conversation dies down, and you take the moment to check the drone feeds. Nothing yet.

“If you don’t mind me asking, what led you to come to this place?” You ask.

Kasen looks at the ground. “I had a few reasons. I was... sought out by Hakurei Izumo, the first Hakurei. She had the same power that you do and a plan for salvation. She offered me the chance to be part of a noble cause.”

“Fighting the Filth?”

“Among other things, though that was the primary goal.” Her eyes narrow. “I can’t say I’m pleased with the progress we’ve made on the others.”

You wait for her to go on, but she sighs and changes topics. “She was Yukari’s most active and effective partner. Without her, Gensokyo wouldn’t have survived this long. There were other collaborators, but I was fortunate enough to never have met most of them.”

“Are you talking about people like Ran?”

Kasen shakes her head. “Ran is Yukari’s subordinate. The Hakurei and a select few are able to operate with more autonomy.”

“So what happened to the Hakurei?” You ask.

Her expression grows somber. “She’s... no longer with us. I don’t know what happened to her.”

“I heard that she didn’t die.” You offer.

“I mean, the entire point of a Chosen is that they don’t stay dead.” Kasen says. ”It’s more plausible that she was sealed away, but the only person I know of with the ability to do so would have been herself.”

“You’re not suggesting that she’s hibernating or something, right?” You ask.

“Of course not.” Kasen says, shaking her head. “She had no reason whatsoever to abandon her duties, and no possible justification for leaving Reimu without her mother.”

“So one of the most important people in Gensokyo disappears one day, and everyone else just shrugs and carries on?” You ask. “She can’t have been that hated.”

Kasen offers you an apologetic smile. “At some points in time, she was. She changed so much since I first met her, for both good and ill.”

“Maybe Yukari’s remaining partners know more.” You say. “Perhaps they could shed light on this.”

“I would strongly caution against seeking them out.” Kasen says, looking troubled. “Without saying anything that would attract unwelcome attention to either of us, none of them are known for their benevolence towards humans, and most dwell in realms hostile to life. Asking them for the truth - if they even have it - would be dangerous, and even more so with their leader.”

So you might get answers, you might get bullshit, or you might get your entrails strewn about like party streamers. Well, nobody said your job was going to be easy or painless.

“Is this why you were interested in what’s under the Hakurei shrine?” Kasen asks.

“Yeah. It just seems important to figure out. A lot of her mom’s duties fell on Reimu, but I’ve got a feeling that others may have been neglected.”

“Speaking of realms hostile to life, wasn’t there some kind of Hell incursion a while back?” You ask. “I heard that Reimu, Yuuka, Marisa, and someone else went in and wreaked havoc.”

Kasen winces. “I was unfortunately unavailable during that incident, occupied by deep meditation and reciting sutras. Hermit things.”

...Riiiiiiiiight.

“So, does anyone know what happened?”

“There hasn’t been any real communication between the realms since then.” Kasen says, thinking about it. “You could ask Marisa and Yuuka. There’s also the librarian’s assistant in the vampire mansion, though you must already know the risks involved with trusting succubi”.

You’re no stranger to the deception of succubi, but Koakuma seemed pretty alright to you. Contacting her may be impossible for now, though.

”Lastly, I suppose you could ask members of the Myouren temple, but I get the impression that they aren’t comfortable with the subject for... regrettable reasons.” She finishes, giving you an apologetic look.

“Do any of the local oni, like Suika or Yuugi, know anything?” You ask, trying to keep your tone casual.

It doesn’t work. Kasen jolts upright as though your question zapped her and starts stammering. “W-w-well, no, of c-course not! Everyone knows that the oni were banned from returning on pain of nerve mutilation by decree of she of the swiftest wing and burning blade-”

She catches herself, takes a breath, and takes a moment to regain her composure. “What I meant to say is that Makai is merely one of many areas in Gensokyo where Oni are not, strictly speaking, welcome, including Youkai mountain, Bhava-agra, and the Human village.”

“Doesn’t Suika own property in Bhava-agra from beating up Tenshi that one time?”

“They don’t like to talk about it.” Kasen replies with a restrained smile.

Awkward silence reigns once more. You use the time to check on the drones. Still nothing.

Does Kasen think you’ll kill her or something if she admits what she is? You hope you haven’t given people the impression that you’re looking for any excuse to kill them.

You also hope that Kasen doesn’t actually think her disguise is working on you, but that’s another matter.

Kasen interrupts your thoughts and the crackling flame. “It must have been an honor.”

You look back at her. “What do you mean?”

“Being blessed by the Bees.” She says. “Being chosen by the will of the world.”

You laugh. “Well, I’m not complaining about all the powers She gave me. I try not to let it get to my head.”

“Have you ever wondered why?” She asks.

“Why what?”

“I mean, why you were chosen. Out of all the supposed seven billion humans on Earth, why you and your friends?”


You shrug. “Well, why not? It had to be someone. I guess my number got pulled.”

Kasen gives you a small, pleased smile at your answer. “I suppose so. From what I’ve seen, you wield your power with skill and grace.”

“Flattery will get you nowhere.” You laugh and warn her in a playful tone. “You’re pretty alright yourself.”

She hesitates for a second. “Really?”

You shrug. “Sure. It’s good to see someone going out of their way to help the humans here.”

Kasen winces at that.

“Something wrong?” You ask.

She shakes her head. “N-no, I just, um... I think the monster is close.”

You’re skeptical, but at that moment a muted chime sounds. Your drones have detected the gashadokuro.
>> No. 193633
File 148575525098.jpg - (70.16KB, 592x624, 1f571beee6258d60fbca5ef6bb43b911.jpg) [iqdb]
193633
You give Kasen the signal to be quiet. The two of you wait together as the crackle of the fire becomes drowned out by thumping footfalls and a familiar ringing.

“Are you ready?” Kasen mouths.

You give the slightest of nods as a grin creeps across your mouth. Meanwhile, the footsteps of the beast have stopped at the edge of lunging range.

You snap your fingers.

The ringing is replaced with howling as your drones zoom out of concealment, piercing the darkness with thin red beams.

You and Kasen are both standing in an instant, your hands crackling with lightning and hers uncoiling like a snake to ensnare the beast.

The gashadokuro is too occupied trying to swat drones out of the air to brace for your attack. You raise your arms and hurl a bolt into its side, earning you a booming crack and a roar of pain. It lurches back, smoking and missing a few ribs.

You grin with an adrenal thrill. More of your power is returning.

Recognizing you as a threat, it lunges for you. You backpedal, but it turns out to be unnecessary. The gashadokuro seems to trip mid-swipe and crashes to the ground in a graceless heap.

Behind it, you see Kasen digging her heels into the ground and pulling back on her bandaged arm. “Now, Charlotte! Before it gets up!” She shouts.

In a moment, you adopt your firing stance and take in the scene. The beast of bone struggling on the ground, Kasen struggling to keep it there, that odd shadow without anything to cast it, and the waxing moon illuminating the entire-

Wait, hold on. Something isn’t right.

You grit your teeth. Nevermind that, you need to focus. You raise your pistols in an eyeblink and level them at the skull of the Gashadokuro.

Kasen shouts again, sweat beading on her face. “Char-”

The thunderous report of your revolvers cuts her off. For a heartbeat, the entire world is reduced to just you, your target, and the recoil of the bullets punching holes into the latter.

When the dust settles, the creature’s skull is a shattered, perforated ruin, but it’s still clinging to scraps of unlife. It thrashes about on the dirt, becoming weaker with convulsion. The gashadokuro’s ringing is slow and labored now, like the tolling of funeral bells. Appropriate, if melodramatic.

Kasen approaches what’s left of the skull, but backs off when she sees you walk forward, drawing Rosslyn. It all but leaps into your hands as if eager for the task ahead.

“Stay dead this time.” You whisper.

The gun barks, and the ringing is silenced as the creature’s oversize skull finally rolls away from the rest of its body before coming to a stop in a furrow formed by its pre-post-mortem struggling. You holster the gun, then retrieve a pouch of purification salt from your inventory and toss its contents over the remains.

“If you show up again, I’ll make what’s left of you into a xylophone.” You mutter. “Good riddance.”

Kasen takes careful steps around the motionless bones while her bandage coils itself back up. She tries to say something to you, but you can’t hear anything. When you tell her this, she nods and walks towards you.

She surprises you by placing her hand against your face, but you get over it as you notice a gentle warmth and the return of your hearing.

You give her an appreciative smile as she withdraws her hand. “Thanks, Kasen.”

“It’s nothing much, just a simple use of my Hermit training.” She says, returning your smile. Is that a blush on her face?

That’s nice and all, but there’s still something bothering you. What was it?

You look over Kasen’s shoulder at the anomaly you noticed before the fight. It seems to be moving away from you at high speed, leaving a pair of humanoid figures on the ground. One of them has green hair.

You take a step closer, ignoring Kasen’s blush and widening eyes.

“Charlotte?” She asks, taking a step back.

“I swear to god, if that's Wriggle again I'm going to kick her ass so hard it'll light up.” You growl.

Kasen gives you a blank stare as you move past her. “What?”

“Whoever you are, I’m getting tired of being hounded by youkai.” You call out as you approach, directing a drone to shine a light on the pair. “So why don’t you two just go home before...”

You squint as you get a better look. “Cirno? Dai?”

“DAI! WHERE DID RUMIA GO?” Cirno shouts, struggling to her feet before spotting you. “OH HI CHARLOTTE! GREAT JOB DESTROYING THAT BIG SKELETON THING! C’MON DAI, SAY HI!” She tries to help Daiyousei up, but her friend seems to still be affected by the paralysis frequency.

You resist the urge to bury your face in your hands. “Well, at least they don’t want to pick a fight.” You say. “Do fairies not have bedtimes or indoor voices?”

Kasen shrugs. “Good luck finding someone crazy enough to try enforcing a bedtime. Also, we’re outdoors.”

“For the love of- you get my point.” You snap.

Kasen gives you a sympathetic look as she moves to restore their hearing. By now, Cirno has propped Daiyousei on her feet and is trying to wave her limp arm at you. Dai does not look amused by this.

Kasen heals the two fairies in a similar way, but seems unable to cure Daiyousei’s paralysis. In her enthusiasm, Cirno doesn’t seem to have noticed - or maybe she has, and she’s speaking twice as loud to compensate.

“That was super cool!” Cirno says, hopping up and down in place and illustrating her words with increasingly excited gestures. “You went zap and hit it with lightning while your little ball things were going ‘pew pew pew’ with their lasers, and then Kasen grabbed it, and then you were all like ‘bang bang bang’ with your-”

“Cirno, you don’t need to remind me about something that I did literally a few minutes ago.” You interrupt. “Why were you two out here?”

“Oh.” That gives her pause. “Um... we wanted to watch you?”

“Brilliant. There’s not enough time in the night to fully explain how foolish it was for two untrained children to go out by themselves at night in an area with active man-eating monsters.” You go on, seething. “With or without flight.”

“Well, we aren’t children, and you aren’t the boss of me!” Cirno says, putting her hands on her hips and sticking her tongue out.

You almost throw up your hands in frustration, but Kasen taps your arm.

Kasen leans forward with a crafty smile. “Well, I guess I’ll just let Keine know that two of her students were out at two in the morning, trying to get themselves squashed by a giant skeleton.”

Cirno visibly deflates at the mention of her teacher’s name, and Daiyousei shrinks back in spite of her paralysis.

“Wait, no, please don’t tell her!” Cirno pleads. “It doesn’t matter if we get hurt, anyways. We always-”

“I don’t care if you guys keep coming back; you shouldn’t be dying to begin with!” You interrupt. “Look, you know how dangerous these things are. Why on earth did you think it was a good idea to get this close without even warning us?”

“Because we wanted to be stronger.” Daiyousei mumbles, taking you by surprise.

“Eh?” You manage. “What’s the connection?”

“You’re strong, and brave, and smart.” She continues. “Every time I see you or your friends, you do something even cooler. I’ve never seen anyone use magic like that before!”

“There are plenty of mages here who are just as strong as me, and a lot of people who are just as brave.” You say. “Patchouli has been practicing for longer than I’ve been alive, and Marisa clearly knows her stuff.”

“But they aren’t as nice to fairies!” Cirno says. “They think we’re stupid and don’t like talking with us.”

To be fair, you’re also not impressed by the current situation.

“That’s still not a good enough reason to do this.” You retort. “Besides, what you saw was the result of a lot of training and experience. I know you aren’t quite as old as you look-”

“I’m at least sixty!” Cirno declares, oblivious to your disturbed expression.

“Wow, that’s going to give me some major cognitive dissonance.” You say, shaking your head. “Anyways, just because you have magic doesn’t mean that you’ve applied it.”

“Does that mean you can’t help us get there?” Daiyousei asks, looking at you with pleading eyes.

You take a deep breath and consider your options.

What’s the protocol for little girls imploring you to teach them how to bend physics to one’s will? Common sense says not to - magic isn’t some toy for children to play with and takes time to teach, even at a fundamental level. Besides, what good use could they have for combative magic?

Still, studying the behavior and capabilities of these fairies wouldn’t be a complete waste of time, and Daiyousei does puppy dog eyes better than you’re willing to admit.

Kasen turns to face you. “You aren’t giving this serious thought, are you?”

---

[ ] Train them
[ ] Don’t train them
[ ] Other?
>> No. 193637
[x] Train them
[x] Train them
[x] Train them
[x] Train them
[x] Train them
>> No. 193638
[x] Train them

All my yes.
>> No. 193639
All of my wat.

Part of me wonders if this might save them from Filth down the line.

Another part of me wonders if it might make them overconfident and do the opposite.

...but most of me hasn't got past "hnnnng".

[x] Train them
>> No. 193640
[x] Train them
>> No. 193641
[x] Train them

I can't help but think this is going to bite us in the ass somehow, but goddammit I can't resist.
>> No. 193643
[X] Train them

I feel like this could just lead to them picking a bad fight and getting in a lot of trouble. Hopefully part of training will be knowing when to pick your battles.
>> No. 193644
[X] What? Don't be crazy, Kasen.
[X] Train them

The village militia could use some work too. Maybe after they're humbled by this mission.
>> No. 193645
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193645
>>193641
>> No. 193646
>>193645
FFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFF-
>> No. 193648
Calling this for training the fairies.
>> No. 195095
I've been getting my ass kicked by a combination of senior year classes, job/gradschool searching, and general poor time management and lack of motivation.

I want to return to this, but I don't know when. I'm sorry.
>> No. 196191
>>195095
As a reader, that's the second-last thing I want to hear. As a writer, I'd be a massive hypocrite for complaining. So I'll just settle for waiting warmly until you return.

...just make sure you do return, okay? I love this story.
>> No. 196319
>>196191
Thanks for reading my quest.
>> No. 196468
File 149552717881.jpg - (79.94KB, 1023x724, 3b296fa62bd569d2e88ee66693bde410.jpg) [iqdb]
196468
[X] Train them

---

“Take your time and think about it.” You tell them. “If you’re serious about learning, we’ll make something work. If you aren’t...”

Silence expresses your point better than words could. The fairies wince.

“Good. Now scram before I tell Keine.”


“Thank you!” Cirno shouts. To your surprise, the two fairies run forward to hug you at waist height before giving clumsy bows and flying off.

“You’re seriously considering this?” Kasen asks, watching them disappear into the night.

You shrug as you walk to the creature’s corpse and crouch down. “To be honest, I don’t know how it’ll work out. If this is some sort of childish impulse, I’ll shut them down and that’ll be the end of it. If they aren’t... well, I needed to figure out what Fairies are capable of sooner or later.”

Wow, you two really did a number on that thing. Though no longer animate, its pockmarked and scorched skull is on the verge of rolling away from its ruined vertebrae.

Perfect. You pull out your phone and take a photo of your job well done.

“Kasen, can you give me a hand?” You say. “I want to bring back proof.”

She gives you an awkward look, and a flush of embarrassment runs through you. “Shit. I didn’t mean it like that-”

Kasen sighs before offering a thin smile. “It’s fine. I’ll forgive you if you help pack some bones for my pets to chew on.”

“These things are like rebar.” You say, giving her an incredulous stare. “What kind of pets are you keeping?”

Kasen just giggles as she snaps off a loose rib.

---

With your trophy and a number of miscellaneous bones secured, the two of you fly back to the village at a leisurely pace. It’s been a productive excursion.

“You’re not going to teach those two anything dangerous, are you?” Kasen asks.

“Just control and precision.” You answer. “Dangerous is the last thing I want them to become. Was there some kind of disastrous Fairy-related incident in the past that I should be aware of?”

“Fairies aren’t like human children, Charlotte - or rather, they are, but their immortality complicates things. They have a child’s understanding of morality and consequences.”

“I think that Cirno and Dai are smart enough to know that most things stay dead when they’re killed.” You say. “They don’t strike me as ignorant or indifferent to death.”

“Those two are unusually smart for Fairies.” Kasen says. “What happens if one of them shows off, and others try to copy them?”

You’re about to reply, but then memories of Cirno running her mouth hit you at the same time as a mental image of half the forest on fire.

“Huh.” You manage. “That’s something I hadn’t thought of. Maybe I should be a bit worried.”

“Just keep it in mind for now.” She says. “For what it’s worth, I do appreciate you reaching out to them. Most people don’t treat Fairies well, although I’ve noticed that Fairies are better behaved towards you.”

You snort. “If that’s the case, I’d hate to see what Cirno looks like when she’s trying to be a brat.”

You wonder how the rest of the hunt went. You think you saw Caleb going with a Villager team and Junko accompany Mokou. There shouldn’t have been casualties, though you doubt that they bagged anything as large as your kill.

“So about what I was telling you earlier...” Kasen says, lowering her voice. “I’d advise you be very careful when dealing with... well, you know. Her and her partners. They visit people through dreams, some more so than others.”

You wince. “I noticed. It looks like she’s taken a shine to me. I’m dealing with it. Can they hurt me through a dream?”

“They aren’t supposed to harm anyone who doesn’t interfere with the functioning of Gensokyo, and you haven’t done that yet.” Kasen says. “Now, I can’t guarantee that they won’t overstep - or that you won’t -”

She gives you a pointed look. You can only muster a sheepish smile.

“In any case, my advice is to avoid making enemies of them.”

“I’ll do my best.” You reply. “Dying is such a chore.”

Kasen tuts at you. “Just because you’re immortal doesn’t mean you should value your own life any less.”

“Ehhhhhhh.” You say. “Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy being alive and not in pain very much, but it’s better that one of us catch the bullets than you guys, right?”

“I suppose.” Kasen says, glancing at the approaching Village walls. “Well, I should return home now. I trust you can report for us?”

You nod, and she clasps her hands together. “Excellent. Then I leave the last business of the night to you.”

She begins walking away, but after a moment of hesitation, faces you again with a small smile. “I enjoyed talking with you, Charlotte. I hope we can meet again, under circumstances that don’t involve violence.”

“Same to you, Kasen. That sounds nice.” You say, returning her smile.

With nothing else to say, Kasen takes off into the night sky and-

Hold up - did what you just do qualify as a date?

Eh. Whatever, it wouldn’t be the worst one you’ve had.

---

“Welcome back, Executor.” Meira greets you at the gate with a relaxed smile. “Judging by the lightshow you put on, things must have gone well.”

“You could say that.” You reply, taking out a piece of vertebrae and holding it up for her and the nearby guards to see.

“Well, I’ll be.” She steps forward and squints at your trophy before looking back at you. “You don’t fool around, do you?”

“I take pride in the work I do.” You tell her as you stow the bone. “You can find the remains of the beast scattered across the fields closest to the lake.”

She’s treating it like a big deal, but you consider it more of a speedbump. Not having your full might back made it trickier, but the gashado is nowhere near your most impressive kills.

You also have your promise to Byakuren, despite Murasa’s little fuckup. Just thinking about it makes your blood boil, but you’ll wait to see how she addresses it before bringing it up.

Meira nods and turns to the other guards. “You see, men? That’s what a job well done looks like.”

You try to ignore the impressed looks and murmuring being directed at you, and clear your throat. “How have the other teams done?”

Meira shrugs. “Everybody’s come back in one piece. The Illuminati agent helped a few of our boys bag some ghosts down by Nameless Hill, though the Dragon didn’t find anything with Mokou. Other teams got a few kills here and there, but nothing as big as yours.”

“Anyways, thanks for checking in. I’ll send someone to clean up tomorrow morning” She goes on. “Speaking of which, do you think you could come in sometime tomorrow?”

“I would like to.” You sigh. “There’s been a lot of stuff going on since I got here. A lot of people ambushing me. If they’re feeling courteous, they’ll even use spellcards.”

A hungry glint appears in Meira’s eyes. “Pardon?”

You probably shouldn’t have said that. “Nevermind. It’s just that I’ve seen a lot of youkai eager to prove themselves against the new guys. Of course, they’ve been losing, but it’s making everything take that much longer to do.”

Meira nods along in sympathy. “Yeah, there’s a few troublemakers around. I’m not looking forward to not having Reimu around to smack sense into them every now and then. Keeping the peace will fall to us regular folk for a while, and I think it would be great for morale if you could come visit.”

“I mean, look at that!” She says, pointing to the piece of bone in your hand. “I can count the villagers I’d trust to go after that thing on one hand, and you took it down like it was routine!”

Despite not having a deep understanding of the village guard, you’re inclined to agree about her first point. The average militia fighter a village like this could muster, train, and equip would only have a fighting chance against these nocturnal horrors with strong tactics or numerical superiority. Preferably both.

At least that the inexperience of such guards, as well as the awe you’ve been seeing in their eyes, means that you could whip those green Rookies that appear to comprise a majority of the guard into something approaching a competent force faster than otherwise.

“I did have help.” You reply, trying to deflect some of her praise. You don’t think it would have been that painless without Kasen. Or bombs.

“Well, you get the idea.” Meira smiles at you again. “I understand that your time is strained, so I’ll try not to pester you too much from now on. I just want you to know that you represent a lot of things to us, McGallagher, and for the first time in as long as I can remember, people can dream about looking back up from the dirt.”

You laugh. “If you put it like that, I guess I’ve got no choice but to do my best, eh?”

“Thanks for the encouragement.” You tell her, holding her gaze. “I won’t let the village down.”
>> No. 196469
The flight back to the safehouse is uneventful. Upon entering, however, you notice an unexpected guest.

“Caleb, you know there’s a mouse under you, right?” You ask, giving the rodent an amused look. It’s currently sitting under his chair, eating a bit of cracker held in its paws.

“Yeah. This guy’s from Byakuren.” Caleb says without looking away from the various devices on the table. “Well, he’s from Nazrin, but with a message from Byakuren. It’s about Murasa’s tantrum.”

He’s pointing at a tiny square of sealed and folded parchment lying away from the other equipment. You open it and smooth it out to find neat and elegant writing:

---

Charlotte McGallagher,

I offer my profound apologies for Murasa’s action. She acted alone, before I was able to inform her of our cooperation, and without any of our knowledge. Rest assured that she will not make another attempt to harm you. Though I still implore you to recognize our earlier agreement, I am more than willing to offer reparations to you.

With utmost sincerity,

Byakuren Hijiri

---

Well. She’s fast on damage control. You feel some of your anger dissipating as you read the letter. Murasa (and by extension, Byakuren) fucked up and Byakuren knows it.

The offer for reparations is interesting. While your own funds are substantial, they aren’t bottomless. A bit of Shou’s wealth could go a long way.

Alternatively, there are more subtle forms of repayment. You could request information, particularly regarding the Taoists, the Tanuki mob, and Makai. You could also coerce them into acting on your behalf on some endeavour - and given that Byakuren already owes you a favor, you could get them to go further.

“I’m guessing she’s trying to cover her ass.” Caleb says, still looking through a microscope.

“More or less.” You answer, glancing at him. “What are you working on?”

“Trying to study the weird dust you gave me.” He says. “The particles look suspiciously organic.”

“Can I have a look?”

He gets up and you take his spot. After adjusting the lens, the specks of purple come into view.

They look like butterfly scales.

Something about it makes your skin crawl for a moment. “Huh.” You manage. “What do you think they look like?”

“My first impression was flower petals, but now I’m thinking that it might be pollen.” Caleb shrugs, then frowns as he studies your face. “Is something wrong?”

You shake your head. “I just have an odd feeling about it.”

“Yeah, I get you.” Caleb says. “I wouldn’t recommend further contact with any of it. At least, not until I run some more tests, but I’m not sure how I could find a good subject.”

“You’ve got a mouse right beneath you.” You joke.

“Ha ha.” He deadpans. “I’d like to avoid the possibility of Nazrin sending a mouse to slit my throat while I sleep. Anyways, I’m guessing you had an enjoyable evening with Kasen?”

“Yeah, it was pretty alright. We killed the skeletor without notable trouble. Actually, scratch that.” You pause, trying to come up with words while Caleb raises an eyebrow.

“To make a long story short, let’s just say I agreed to potentially teach Cirno and Daiyousei elementalism.”

Caleb is silent for a moment, then chuckles and turns back to his sample.

“Well, it’s your call. It’s probably a good thing they’re learning your school of magic. I’m not sure I’d want to see how those two would handle Blood.”

You shudder. “Yikes. Yeah, that’s probably for the best. Is Junko back yet?”

“Yeah, but she’s busy in the basement going over some data and curios she got from a lady named Hina Kagiyama.”


“The local misfortune goddess?” You ask.

“Yeah, that one. It turns out that she’s quite skilled in Chaos magic. Anyways, Junko visited the border of Youkai mountain and wants to get started on constructing a causal model for Gensokyo.”

You frown. “What, did the Tengu not stop her?”

“Evidently not, although you’ll have to ask her if you want details.”

He looks up. “I almost forgot - she made contact with a pair of sister goddesses as well. Shizuha and Minoriko Aki. Apparently they’ve been going through rough times in terms of faith income, but are amicable towards humans and may be willing to work with us. If we help them out-”

“-we have a contact within the Mountain.” You finish.

“We would also get some influence over anyone who eats food, since Minoriko is a harvest deity. From what I’ve heard, however, this might be something that you should leave to me and Junko. I don’t want to try it, but I get the impression that the Tengu are going to freak if a Templar gets that close to the mountain, even if you technically aren’t in their borders.”

“That makes sense.” You say. It seems likely that your predecessors came into conflict with the Tengu at some point. “Well, thanks for letting me know. I’ll go see what I can get done tonight.”

“Hold on.” Caleb says, extending his hand. “Before you go, Junko passed a Buzzing transmission to me. She says she picked it up while visiting the Anima wells that Yuuka pointed out.”

You take his hand in your own and close your eyes.
>> No. 196470
File 149552773185.jpg - (821.54KB, 2763x1800, LR7ZWFk.jpg) [iqdb]
196470
Gensokyo:

1.

Our wisdom flows so sweet. Taste and see.

TRANSMIT- initiate the ex-Taito syntax - HALF-BLESSING - initiate the Kármán demarcation - CIRCA 1885 - initiate the founder’s syndrome - RECEIVE - initiate the Wonderland Frequency - CAUTION - mind the gap - WITNESS - Gensokyo

2. ?
3. ?
4. ?

5. (New!)

Another custodian of a failing divinity, Hakurei is a kindred spirit, a natural fit, a fertile soul.

Sweetling, you know this song and dance, a tune set to the beat of a heart that pumps blood and honey both.

Her hands gather the first of many pilgrims. On her altar the lightless shroud for coming days is woven.

Initiate the Rubicon bypass.

6.

Lesser things have been wrought by greater partners.

A Yggdrasil is uprooted and occluded as the Barrier rises. Yukari will have her chance to overcome flawed origins. That is her Dream. That is our half of the agreement.

Her half is to change the rules of the losing game we play.

Yet we cannot peer beyond the curtains of gangrenous stars. We weave golden threads into Yukari’s tapestry. An agent is planted in her sandbox to see how well oblivion keeps its promises.

Begin year zero of the Gensokyo experiment.

7. ?
8. ?

9.

What of our trinity?

The dust settles. Hakurei wishes it to be so, and so it is. Violence is the primordial language, spoken since the first protein devoured the second, and here her fluency becomes peerless. The peace is kept by virtue of her monopoly on war.

The architect rebuilds in silence, glimpsed only in the mottled half-light of dreams and visions by the more perceptive residents. Stories spread of a great dragon protecting the world within its coils, and a statue is raised in His image.

Yukari surpasses our greatest expectations. Mountains and forests and a river to contain the dead are on permanent loan from where they won’t be missed. The histories are not so much masked as they are wiped blank. Why? Who? Where? When? How?

Initiate the REM evasions. The answers lie behind too many unblinking pupils. It’s rude to stare at a lady.

10. ?
>> No. 196471
You shake your head to clear it as the buzz of new knowledge fades. “Sounds like more stuff about Gensokyo’s past. I think they were talking about the first Hakurei.”

“Yeah, there’s no questioning that they were important from the very beginning.” Caleb says. “Still, something’s started to bother me. Have you noticed how people seem kind of... inconsistent when talking about non-Reimu Hakureis?”

You frown. “What do you mean?”

“Well, Yuuka spoke of Reimu’s mom as though she was the only other Hakurei since the very beginning, which makes sense if she’s one of us. However, other people imply that there were several distinct individuals, which contradicts that.”

“Now that you mention it...” You frown. “That is odd. Maybe she learned shapeshifting from Ran and decided to use it to fuck with people.”

He shrugs. “Maybe. It’s something that needs to be cleared up if we want to avoid confusion moving forward. In any case, I should get back to work.”

---

Filth Status (via Ran): CLEAR
Immortality Status (via yourself): 4/7
Koishi Status (via Satori): Home

Favors owed BY Byakuren: 2

---

Current Objectives & Leads:

Prepare for potential Filth outbreak
Discover fate of predecessor Templars
- Investigate Muenzuka
- Satori?
Discover fate of previous Hakurei(s?)
- Unclear
Discover fate of RK2 and MM3 units
- Recovered ‘eye’ (!)
- Kappa?
- Rikako/Rika?
- Marisa/Alice/Patchouli?
- Kourindo?
Protect the Human Village
- Prowling ferals
- Sado gumi infiltration
- Guard assessment & training
Conduct research
- Fairy training?
- Finish faction reports
- Local history
- Local VIPs
- Strange dreams
- What is Gensokyo anyways and why was it created
Acquire and consolidate power
- Develop spellcards
- Construct equipment
- Seek allies


Vote for up to three actions and then for whether or not to take dream pills.

[ ] Taoist Report: Increase knowledge on and combat effectiveness with/against Toyosatomimi no Miko, Mononobe no Futo, Soga no Tojiko, Seiga Kaku.
[ ] Decrypt RK2 eye data: While the eye units have only a small amount of integrated memory, it could give unique insight on the Hakurei Shrine and its inhabitants as well as the fate of the rest of the RK2 unit.
[ ] Create spellcards:
- Area denial, to counter swift opponents
- Saturation, to counter analytical opponents
- Precision, to counter nimble opponents
- Trick shot, to potentially surprise opponents.

[ ] Pills
[ ] No pills
>> No. 196472
I rewrote the Buzzing entry on Gensokyo because I felt like it needed improvement in terms of organization and style. I did this because I think you guys would appreciate better written cryptic bullshit more than poorly written cryptic bullshit. Also, I think you would get fed up with finding the 18 entries I initially wrote. To be clear, I am trying to avoid retconning because I feel like that will just lead to more of a mess.

I want to write a list of objectives and relevant information every few threads to keep track of what has been done and what needs to be done for the benefit of both myself and the audience. I think this will help keep the story focused without necessarily becoming railroaded. Please let me know what you think of this idea. I'm open to adding or taking items off the tracker subject to popular request, but I want to keep it mostly informative.

Favors can be exchanged for goods and services, and are quite significant (if somewhat arbitrary) measures of obligation. For example, you have two favors owed to you by the Myouren temple. At zero favors, you could not get them to tell you anything particularly useful about Makai because they don't trust you that much and they really don't want to think about Makai. At one favor, you could get them to tell you useful but not secret information like weather patterns, local flora/fauna, factions, tech, recent events, etc. Two favors spent at once could coax them to reveal things like who the major players are and their personalities/tactics/abilities/plots, hidden caches/routes/facilities, and other juicy things. It's worth noting that while factions will generally honor any favors they owe, they are also generally aware of how many favors they owe you and will try their best to not be perpetually indebted to you. Also, you can owe favors, and bad things will generally happen if you renege.

Lastly, do you guys think it would be a good idea if I added a romance to this story, or should Charlotte be wise to the thot ways of Gensokyo's bachelorettes?

In any event, thank you for staying with me.
>> No. 196477
>>196472
Eeh, I'll really go either way, but I'd rather she get a very firm foothold in Gensokyo before she takes on any romantic aspirations.
>> No. 196478
>>196477
Yeah, I think so too. It would be a future possibility, not an immediate one.
>> No. 196479
So we aren't voting for actions because she has her agenda full?

[X] Decrypt
Miko is about the only major power I somewhat trust, if only for the other guys' reports.
[X] No pills.

They have been useful so far. I suspect we are giving information, but we're learning too.
>> No. 196485
[X] Decrypt
[X] No pills.

I'm always in favor of romance.
>> No. 196486
[X] Taoist Report: Increase knowledge on and combat effectiveness with/against Toyosatomimi no Miko, Mononobe no Futo, Soga no Tojiko, Seiga Kaku.
[X] Pills

I have to agree with the sentiment that it's a bit early for relationships to start budding. But on that note, how long has Charlotte been in Gensokyo? It's been a while, so I've forgotten.
>> No. 196487
>>196478
Then go for it
>> No. 196488
>>196479
You have time to vote for up to three of the actions. Each spell card counts as one action.
>> No. 196490
It's back!

[x] Taoist Report: Increase knowledge on and combat effectiveness with/against Toyosatomimi no Miko, Mononobe no Futo, Soga no Tojiko, Seiga Kaku.
[x] Decrypt RK2 eye data: While the eye units have only a small amount of integrated memory, it could give unique insight on the Hakurei Shrine and its inhabitants as well as the fate of the rest of the RK2 unit.

More info is always better.

[x] Create spellcards:
- Area denial, to counter swift opponents

Cale did just mention that the tengu probably don't like us, and we know Aya's trying to start shit, so...

[x] Pills

Fuck Yukari.
>> No. 196544
[X] Decrypt RK2 eye data

[X] Create 2 spellcards:
- Area denial, to counter swift opponents
- Trick shot, to potentially surprise opponents.

[X] Pills
>> No. 196556
Glad to see this back.

[x] Taoist Report: Increase knowledge on and combat effectiveness with/against Toyosatomimi no Miko, Mononobe no Futo, Soga no Tojiko, Seiga Kaku.
[x] Decrypt RK2 eye data: While the eye units have only a small amount of integrated memory, it could give unique insight on the Hakurei Shrine and its inhabitants as well as the fate of the rest of the RK2 unit.
[x] Create spellcards:
- Trick shot, to potentially surprise opponents.

[x] No pills

>>196472
I don't currently have time to go back and compare the Buzzing entries to previous versions, but the ones in this post seemed well-written enough. And I think that's a good call on retcons.

The info/objectives list seems like a fine idea to me. The current statuses and objectives at the end of this last post seemed like a good balance of brief and informative (and amusing, with "Koishi status"). I get the feeling you meant there'd be something more in-depth every few threads, which also seems fine. Favors system looks straightforward enough.

As for the romance question...I'm not saying I'd mind one, but I think you should just write what you want to write. If you'd want to explore Charlotte pursuing something with Kasen or another character, go for it. If you have no preference one way or the other, the general sentiment seems to be approving but wanting to wait until later, which sounded all right with you.
>> No. 196619
[x] Taoist Report: Increase knowledge on and combat effectiveness with/against Toyosatomimi no Miko, Mononobe no Futo, Soga no Tojiko, Seiga Kaku.
[x] Decrypt RK2 eye data: While the eye units have only a small amount of integrated memory, it could give unique insight on the Hakurei Shrine and its inhabitants as well as the fate of the rest of the RK2 unit.
[x] Create spellcards:
- Trick shot, to potentially surprise opponents.

[x] No pills
>> No. 196705
[X] Decrypt
[X] Taoist Report
[X] Trick shot spellcard

[X] Take pills
>> No. 196718
>>196705
Actually I need a tiebreaker on whether or not to take pills.
>> No. 196719
>>196718

[X] Take Pills
May as well take this ride to the end.
I'm sure these pills don't have any side effects!
>> No. 197022
File 149724276949.jpg - (99.28KB, 400x600, 551f2e6cd2c0b4061385b24087c8faad.jpg) [iqdb]
197022
>Accessing data...
>ERROR: Read error during access
>Possible corruption of local filesystem
>Attempt to restore file integrity?
>Y
>Restoring... 5%
.
.
>Restoration complete
>Attempt playback? (y/n)
>Y

Your screen flickers to life, showing a grainy view of the Hakurei Shrine interior. RK2 appears to be sweeping the floor, though with more enthusiasm than skill. It looks up to see two girls, Reimu and Marisa in their adolescence, chatting with each other and glancing at itself. The silent recording doesn’t give you the finer details, but you suspect that they aren’t impressed with the android’s quality of housework.

RK2 looks away.

The scene changes. Reimu is sitting at a table in the main room, looking expectantly at RK2. She’s older now, and she and the shrine both appear to be more threadbare. The AI serves her a bowl of rice with unsteady hands, and Reimu seems to grunt something in thanks. She’s not starving, but she’s dangerously close - her cheeks are hollow, her arms are more bone than flesh, and her sunken eyes are watching the food with vulture-like focus. Reimu eats the food as fast as she can without risking spilling any, then looks to RK2. Reimu says something before dropping her vacant gaze to the table..

The scene changes again. You’re looking at the inside of the shrine again, and nothing looks like it’s changed. Reimu is standing in front of RK2 in a heated conversation with a female Kappa that appears to center on the AI, whose gaze seems to be nervously darting between them. Finally, the two seem to reach an agreement. Reimu’s eyes all but sparkle as the Kappa pulls out a large bag of coins from her oversized backpack, and she sifts her hand through it as if to prove its existence to herself.

The Kappa says something and beckons RK2 over. The AI looks to Reimu, who gives her one of the guiltiest nods you’ve seen. After that, the AI looks down at the ground as she takes one hesitant step after another towards the grinning Kappa.

>End of recovered data.

---

It was probably too much to hope for the local Kappa to keep their hands off technology like that, but at least you now have a good idea of where the AI is. You still need to confirm if they still have it, and figure out reacquisition. What you know so far suggests that they have a very low opinion of humans, so there is a significant possibility that you’ll need to pay them a discreet visit to reacquire RK2.

The content of the recording is another matter. You’re filled with pity for how much Reimu has had to endure, but also shock that someone would pawn a several million pound nuclear-powered AI-equipped android for food money. Whatever deal she got was definitely not a good bargain.

Were they really going to just let her starve?

You shake your head and start reading the dossier on the Taoists to take your mind off the subject.

---

Toyosatomimi no Miko, known as Prince Shotoku during the Asuka period, was briefly the highest-ranking Illuminati in Japan. The heavily Illuminati Soga clan had the Imperial House under their control during that time, so once they determined that Miko would be a good figure to install on the throne, there was little opposition. The discovery of her empathic psionic abilities was a surprise, but was not seen as enough cause to change their plans.

However, Miko could not be satisfied with the life of a pampered figurehead. She had always been an ambitious and empathic, if not necessarily compassionate, youth. She soon proved to be exceptionally capable and disciplined, achieving mastery over any field she pursued and instituting sweeping changes throughout the country.

Despite resenting being used as a puppet by the Illuminati, she eventually fell prey to their classic obsession with eternal life. This search brought her into contact with Seiga Kaku, herself a high-ranking Illuminati from China and a master of Blood magic.

Through promising immortality, Seiga swayed Miko into formally joining the Illuminati and converting to Taoism, along with scheming to cement their power through actions such as spreading Buddhism. As demonstrated by Miko’s presence in Gensokyo, that promise bore fruit for her and her closest subordinates. However, the Fujiwara clan (with our backing) overthrew the Soga shortly after Miko’s ‘burial’. As we assumed that her attempt at becoming a Hermit had failed and since there were no longer any Illuminati in a position to revive her, Miko and her companions remained undisturbed for over one thousand years.

As far as we are able to determine, the Illuminati are as surprised as we are about Miko’s success. We do not believe that Miko will attempt to reclaim her position among them, especially since the outside world is effectively locked out of Gensokyo.

Currently, the Taoists appear to be currying favor in the Village by taking in acolytes and arguing in favor of standing against the local Youkai. While we agree in spirit with the latter point, it is important that it is done in a way that does not violently end the delicate peace. Furthermore, you would be not easily recognized as a major ally of the Human Village if Miko took the role before you.
>> No. 197023
File 149724294262.jpg - (278.49KB, 756x680, 7ea34d0b9d07a4c27912df6bc98a18aa.jpg) [iqdb]
197023
Name: Toyosatomimi no Miko
Species: Human* (Hermit/Shikaisen)
Age: 1443 (b. February 7th, 574 AD)
Birthplace: Asuka, Japan
Proficiencies: Blades, Elementalism, Psionics
Disposition: Calm, casual, ambitious, diligent, polite

Miko is a composed and relaxed individual, as befitting someone who achieved Hermit-dom through Taoism. At the risk of waxing purple, she is very much ‘in-harmony’ with her internal desires as well as that of the people around her and her surroundings as a whole.

However, perhaps as a result of her Illuminati background, she uses her spiritual understanding to subordinate the natural order described by Taoist doctrine to her own worldly goals.

Local writing matches our profile of her and furthermore suggests that she is remarkably casual and personable when dealing with villagers. It was possible that her earlier aloofness was due to evaluating you as a potential threat to her plans. Regardless of her demeanor from now on, remember to not confuse her calmness for complacency.

When she acts, expect it to be deliberate and calculated. She was an emperor, and even as a Hermit she has not sublimated her hunger for the throne.

Swords: Miko was one of her time’s finest swordmasters, and we have no reason to believe that her long slumber has reduced her skill. Of note is her “Shichi-sei Ken”, a particularly well-crafted and enchanted blade that she uses as a magical focus. Due to the procedure she underwent to become immortal, her soul is technically inside her sword.

Elementalism: Miko is extensively trained in light elementalism. Common applications include conjuring flashes of light to disorient foes and focused beams to sear targets from longer ranges than conventional Elementalism. While this school lacks the power of other branches, Miko has demonstrated that she is skilled at using it to complement her already lethal swordcraft.

Psionics: Miko was born with what we now understand to be a psionic ability to detect, though not directly manipulate, the desires of other people. Combat applications include using the fervor of those nearby to invigorate herself. Though she has not demonstrated significant offensive potential compared to other psions, it is possible that she has learned new techniques.

Regardless, it is extremely difficult to conceal one’s intentions from her. I have confidence that you and the sort of company you keep are sufficiently disciplined to prevent Miko from manipulating you, but I caution you to be aware of the risk nonetheless.

---

Name: Mononobe no Futo (Futsuhime)
Species: Human (Hermit/Shikaisen)
Age: approx. 1450 (b. Approx. 580 AD)
Birthplace: Osaka, Japan
Proficiencies: “Feng Shui”, Elementalism
Disposition: Excitable, Prideful, Skittish, Jovial, Conservative

Futo was a member of the anti-Soga Mononobe clan who conspired with Miko to betray it and defect to Soga. Reports suggest she did so at Miko’s behest, after being promised immortality and becoming enamored with her and her vision for the future.

Even during her human years, Futo was an inflexible, old-fashioned lady who was deeply uncomfortable with the introduction of Buddhism and other societal changes of the time, and attempted to cope by burning down several Buddhist temples. It is apparent that Futo is still struggling to adapt to even the stunted modernity of Gensokyo, although one may hope that she has a better grip on her pyromania.

“Feng Shui”: Futo is skilled at detecting and manipulating Anima, though she likely knows it as Qi. Regardless, she can channel this power through ritual plates, providing allies with cover or armor, obstructing enemies, and generally consolidating control over the battlefield. On a strategic level, we believe that Futo may be one of the better-equipped individuals in Gensokyo to analyze your powers as a Chosen (despite her outwardly airheaded demeanor), with potentially unpleasant consequences.

Elementalism: Futo is proficient in the Taoist elements, though her style makes overwhelming use of fire. Compared to you, we predict that she will have significantly more intensity, but equivalently less stamina. Anyone who can weather her initial ferocity will find the rest of the fight easy.

---

Name: Soga no Tojiko (Tojiko no Iratsume)
Species: Spectre (Formerly Human)
Age: 1436 (b. Approx 580 AD)
Birthplace: Asuka, Japan
Proficiencies: Elementalism
Disposition: Irritable, Casual, Sensitive

Tojiko is the daughter of a Soga clan leader and was married to Miko during her rule. Whether that detail of their relationship has persisted to the present day is unknown, but suffice to say that Tojiko is loyal to Miko, not the Illuminati.

As a person, Tojiko is reported to be shockingly gruff and plain in her speech despite her noble upbringing, although ultimately a considerate person to the few she developed bonds with.

Something to note is that the reason Tojiko is a Spectre and not a Hermit like the other Taoists is because of Futo. In a fit of pique, she swapped Tojiko’s intended phylactery with an unsuitable fake, leaving her with no corporeal body to inhabit. This is par for the course when it comes to Illuminati squabbling, but it is very unusual that the two seem to have reconciled. Unfortunately, you will likely not be able to leverage that part of their history against them.

Elementalism: Tojiko specializes in electrical Elementalism, and specifically makes use of ‘artillery-style’ strikes from long range. However, this means that her efficacy should be limited in indoor or otherwise enclosed areas.

---

Name: Kaku, Seiga (Huowu, Qing’e)
Species: Human (Hermit)
Age: Approx. 1700 (b. Approx. 300 AD)
Birthplace: Luoyang, China
Proficiencies: Blood Magic
Disposition: Amoral, Doting, Capricious, Prideful

Seiga was a Chinese noblewoman who first pursued Taoist magic while following her father’s example. She honed her art until adulthood, when she married into another noble family. However, she found her life unbearably restricted, and faked her death by completing the final Shikaisen ritual. With her past life abandoned, Seiga ventured forth into the world on her own.

Her wandering took her across a significant amount of the known world at the time. Eventually, she travelled far enough to encounter the Illuminati, who were impressed by her abundance of experience and lack of moral scruples. Once in their ranks, she returned to Asia with a mission to further their goals in Japan.

Blood Magic: Seiga is an extremely skilled and versatile master of Blood Magic. She has demonstrated proficiency in direct attacks, healing, disease, and necromancy, though she has a particular fascination with the latter.

This is demonstrated in her favorite Jiangshi, Yoshika Miyako. Formerly one of Seiga’s few companions, Miyako was another Hermit who travelled alongside her before perishing in a fight against Demons. Failing to heal her friend, Seiga turned to the next best alternative she knew, reanimated Yoshika as a Jiangshi, and went on to invest an unusual amount of care into the resulting undead.

To summarize modern necromancy, the Jiangshi shares only Yoshika’s name, not her soul. It is essentially a puppet of flesh pressed into an admittedly above-average facsimile of life by Seiga’s whims. While local writing indicates that “Yoshika” has some personality, it is almost certain to be an unconscious imitation of one built through centuries of parroting resulting in something more similar to a chatbot than a person.

Of course, lacking souls has never stopped undead from being dangerous. We do not believe that Seiga would have installed any truly exotic modifications into Yoshika, as they might interfere with her image as a replacement. Expect the Jiangshi to be significantly stronger and tougher than usual.

---

Now that you think about it, Seiga is pretty much the archetypical Illuminati.
Amoral
Manipulative
Selfish
Unnatural lifespan extension
Blue

Thinking more seriously about what you’ve just read, Miko and her group look to be another group with ambitious plans for the Village. Their goals are technically aligned with yours in that you both want to kick out Youkai subversion, but you’re worried that Miko’s the sort of person to seek out power for its own sake.

Also, they don’t seem fond of you three as a whole. You get the idea that they’ve got some residual camaraderie with Caleb as a fellow Illuminati, but it doesn’t extend to you and Junko. It would be very premature to count them as allies.

As far as you can tell, most of the important Villagers you’ve met so far are trustworthy. If they haven’t rooted out the infiltration by now, though, you aren’t confident that they’re going to without help. As Ran pointed out, you and your comrades are well-poised to do that, but if Miko beats you to it you’ll have a harder time getting the respect you need to get things done.

---

You’re in the mood to do something else after finishing the reports, and your thoughts turn to your spellcard duel with Sekibanki. From what you can tell, she’s one of the weaker opponents out there, and you still won by only the skin of your teeth. You have a lot of room to improve.
With that in mind, you take out some paper, your nice pen, and start trying to find something you can use. After a few failed starts, you resolve to base this card off your understanding of Elementalism, learned through hundreds of hours in the aptly-named Crucible training ground.

It’s a simple principle, but that doesn’t stop it from being effective, and you think it could catch a few foes by surprise. You try to make the first half feel like ‘baby’s first spellcard’, a low projectile count conical attack with lazy patterns, to mess with your opponent’s expectations. You are, after all, new to this game.

After seven iterations of the pattern, you stop screwing around and throw out several converging lightning bolts at them with as little warning as you can get away with. Its concept needs to be tested and refined, but your new spellcard makes you feel a little better about your odds.

Obtained: Elemental Force “Thor’s Hammer” (T2 Trickshot)

Current Spellcards:
(T2 Trickshot) Elemental Force “Thor’s Hammer”
(T1 Trickshot) Muzzle Flash “Powder Burn”
(T1 Precision) Revolver Sign “One in the Chamber”
(T1 Saturation) Aidelon Sign “Flame Manifestation”
(T1 Area Denial) Frost Warning “Freezing Point”
>> No. 197024
File 149724328785.png - (160.65KB, 309x325, Gaia_Engines_Lore.png) [iqdb]
197024
With nothing else to do tonight and more work waiting tomorrow, you swallow your pills, hop into bed, and close your eyes.

---

You ‘wake up’ in the train again.

The first thing you notice is that the interior is different - the seats here are nicer. It’s still nothing fancy - a little more legroom, cushions instead of bare plastic - but noticeably more comfortable than where you were before.

The second thing you see is that the butterfly is waiting for you. This time, it’s resting on top of a slender box wrapped as a present with a rich purple ribbon. It flutters off as it sees you wake, letting you reach over and take the box. A card is tucked into the ribbon, and reads:

“A gift, freely given, for playing along.”

No strings attached, eh? You open up the box to find a small cube, smooth and pleasantly cool to the touch, with black-green mirrored sides and a small metal key in its side.

Confusion occupies your mind for a moment before you realize what you’re holding. It’s a music box modeled after a Gaia Engine, one of the many buried containment measures against the Filth.

You experimentally turn the key with your fingers, and for a moment, the cabin is filled with resonant, harmonious chiming. You swear you can hear a gentle voice humming at the back of your consciousness, like a half-remembered lullaby. Between the phantom voice and the rocking of the train, you almost feel like drifting away...

You stop playing. You don’t think the song of this miniature is the same as that of the actual Gaia Engines, but there’s no denying that there’s something... odd about it. Whatever it may be, you hesitate to keep playing.

The butterfly is back. It must have returned while you were engrossed with the music box, but it seems engrossed itself, with its wings spread wide and it’s antennae drooping.

---

[ ] “What do you want of me?”
[ ] “Who are you?”
[ ] Attempt to catch the butterfly.
[ ] Play the music box.
[ ] “You’re serious about this, aren’t you, Yukari?”
>> No. 197025
You hit auto sage, OP. Figured I'd warn you.
>> No. 197026
[x] "What do you want of me?"

C'mon, stop screwing around.
>> No. 197030
[X] “You’re serious about this, aren’t you, Yukari?”
>> No. 197039
[x] “What do you want of me?”
>> No. 197042
[X] “You’re serious about this, aren’t you, Yukari?”

Gotta be direct with a schemer like her.
>> No. 197046
[X] “What do you want of me?”
>> No. 197048
[x] "What do you want of me?"
>> No. 197049
[x] “You’re serious about this, aren’t you, Yukari?”

I don't remember if spoilered options had particular significance, but this one amuses me.

No major surprises in the Taoist dossiers, though that's an unusually sympathetic take on Seiga's creation of Yoshika. I don't mind at all, and rather like the explanation, just wanted to note it. Also I approve of you managing to make Reimu's poverty something other than the typical punchline. Poor Ruukuto.
>> No. 197136
>>197130
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