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189261 No. 189261
“Just how long are you planning to lay about?!” she asked a split second before unleashing a most vicious attack. The world spun around as I tumbled to the floor, crashing onto a pile of old newspapers.

“I was trying to take a nap!” I snapped indignantly, smarting from the fall. Why the hell would you put a hammock next to a window with a view if you didn’t want people just laying around and sleeping? Three days with her and already I felt like I’d never understand her.

The feeling was very mutual, apparently.

“It’s been three days already, you can’t keep doing just nothing,” she scowled, crossing her arms as she looked down at me. “I’ve got my next edition just about done and all you’ve accomplished in the meantime is to scarf down most of my snacks.”

I sprung up to my feet and patted away the dust. “A bit gutsy of you to be so disrespectful. I mean, chances are, one day I’ll be your leader.” I cocked my eyebrow, trying to stare her down. I was taller, so if she thought she could just push me around, she was dead wrong.

“That’s the whole point,” she paused and bit her lower lip, clearly thinking it more prudent to not be quite so insultingly candid. Grabbing her fan from nearby, she began to smack it gently but firmly into the palm of a hand, using the prop to underscore her words, “if you don’t complete the ceremony, you will never be a leader. Instead, you’ll be little more than a petulant child forever.”

“Hey now, Aya,” I frowned, “I’ve completed my coming-of-age ceremony just like you. Just because you’re like a two or three years older, doesn’t mean you have to act like you’re much better than me.”

“Says the twerp who just tried to pull rank on me,” Aya swiftly smacked me on the top of my head with her fan. It didn’t hurt. She was holding back. “Until you’re accepted as part of the leader caste, you’re about as important as the common crow. Don’t you forget that. Now don’t make me regret promising to help you out.”

“Promise? Father forced you to,” I smirked, “heard your little newspaper might get taxed quite a bit if I fail. All those inks and paper… real expensive stuff, would be a shame if they got even more expensive. Could even force an independent paper out of business due to spiraling cost.”

She rolled her eyes. “Nice try. But unlike you I don’t need to be threatened to help out my fellow tengu. An elder asks for a favor, I gladly help out however I can. It’s our way.”

“What’s the deal with all the machinery, anyhow?” I deflected. Even though her home was a simple two-room affair, it was filled to the brim with stuff whose purpose I couldn’t divine. All those handles, gears and latches moved as if they had a mind of their own. The first day I had arrived, I watched Aya work them, feeding the machines both ink and paper but I still didn’t quite understand the process. All I knew was that I had been given a little corner by a window and had been told to sleep in the hammock.

“Don’t change the subject,” Aya rebuked, and pushed me towards the window. She pointed at the village nestled between the trees and the occasional plume of smoke that extended all the way to the base of the mountain. “If you don’t shape up and take this seriously, you’re going to disappoint all the people out there. Like it or not, you’re the first tengu in years to have a shot to join the council.”

“Yeah, yeah, and I bet you’ll tell me that if I fail then all the young tengu will have no one to speak for them,” I brushed her off, “funny, I’m told to do my best but I’m usually then reminded that the elders know best whenever I criticize the process.”

“It’s the way we’ve done it for as long as anyone can remember,” Aya said quietly, repeating a familiar line,“only the most clever, audacious and wise of us are fit to lead. If you can’t find others to speak for you and attest to your deeds, then you can’t hope to ever succeed.”


“It’s Ms. Shameimaru to you,” she cut me off, “you’re under my care, so treat me with respect. Come on, let’s go into the village. Maybe it’ll inspire you to start to take this more seriously when you meet the people you’re going to represent.”

Man, she was bossy. But maybe she had a point. I wasn’t going to get anywhere just sitting around. It was time to spread my wings, so to speak, and prove myself worthy of my birthright...

That kind of junk sounded embarrassing even in my own head.

We were through the door and on the way down to the square when I spoke up, ignoring her call for formality, “Yo, Aya?”

“Yes?” she sighed, clearly deciding it wasn’t worth scolding me again.

“Why do you have to be so cold to your childhood friend like that?”

“We barely knew each other as children,” she frowned, “hung out with different crowds. Just how hard did you hit your head earlier?”

“To think I was just about to call you cute. That is, when you’re not busting my chops,” I clicked my tongue, making up an outrageous lie. She was cute, but I would never seriously admit it. I’d never hear the end of her teasing if I did!

“Oh shaddup,” Aya hit me with her fan again. It seemed to give her an idea. Her brow scrunched momentarily and then a smile formed on her lips. “Tell you what, I’ll race you to the square. No flying, to make it fairer. If I win you behave like a good little boy for the rest of the day. And if you win...”

“You have to be nicer to me. None of this badgering. Oh and you kiss me in public. Cheek is fine, just to let the others know what’s really up.”

“Aren’t you asking for a bit much?” Aya sighed. But quickly enough, a cocky smile flashed across her lips, “fine, I accept. I’m not going to lose.”

That was where she was wrong. I had already thought up a cunning plan. The square was between hewed stone and tall trees. A direct route wasn’t necessarily the fastest as there were countless drops and obstacles that could add or shave precious seconds in a race. Not to mention that racing with countless youkai about was always a challenge, one never knew when one would literally run into someone else… or whose feathers you’d end up ruffling.

[] Keep as close to Aya as possible. She’ll slip up with the constant pressure.
[] Use the route that follows the stream – it’s longer but there’s less people and obstacles.
[] Gliding over gullies and from roof to roof technically doesn’t count as flying.


Hullo, hullo, here's an easygoing story about tengu and growing up. Will also have plenty of adventure! Not in /youkai/ because it'll feature a very diverse cast of characters as we move about in Gensokyo. No real update schedule besides "when I can" which should be often enough. Starting off with a choice that'll narrow down the protagonist's personality a little more.

I'll ask that when you vote, you add a little comment. Otherwise I won't count it when tallying. Why? Because I like to steal ideas and work in stuff from the readers. Not to mention that any and all feedback is helpful. Also helps get conversation going and may inspire others to get even more creative. Doesn't have to be something too fancy: I sure won't mind even something as simple as praising Aya's sexy legs or talking to another fellow reader. I just encourage you to try and do what you can.
No. 189262
[x] Keep as close to Aya as possible. She’ll slip up with the constant pressure.

Keep a crow close.
No. 189266
[x] Gliding over gullies and from roof to roof technically doesn’t count as flying.

I'd rather not have the MC come off as a hardass
No. 189267
[x] Use the route that follows the stream – it’s longer but there’s less people and obstacles.

When's Momiji
No. 189268
[x] Gliding over gullies and from roof to roof technically doesn’t count as flying.

When you challenge the fastest in Gensokyo you have to win by cunning.
No. 189270
[x] Keep as close to Aya as possible. She’ll slip up with the constant pressure.

Nothings better than shit talking her so hard she'll end up tripping!
No. 189271
[x] Keep as close to Aya as possible. She’ll slip up with the constant pressure.

Better start practicing your kissing chicken-legs.
No. 189278
[x] Keep as close to Aya as possible. She’ll slip up with the constant pressure.
No. 189280
[x] Gliding over gullies and from roof to roof technically doesn’t count as flying.

i missed ToY already
No. 189286
The MC seems like a conceited little shit. That's... Perfect. And appropriate. He is trying to become a politician no?

[x] Gliding....
No. 189293
calling and will write soon.

I miss it nearly every day.
No. 189300
Oh neat, a new story. I never got around to reading ToY even though I wanted to. It's still up there on my to-read list after I get through a couple other stories.
No. 189301
File 146541534070.jpg- (905.00KB , 1090x1649 , audacious girl.jpg ) [iqdb]
To any onlookers, we probably looked like a pair of fools. We grinned at one another, brimming from ear to ear with confidence. The objective was to make it to the marker at the center of the village, the one that commemorated it its founding. Because we could have been at it all day deciding the rules, we opted to simply start by mutually counting down from three.

“Make sure you don’t trip and fall, I’d hate to see you hurt yourself,” Aya goaded me, “I know it can be distracting for you youngsters to keep your hats balanced.”

“You must be going senile in your old age,” I replied in kind, “only thing you’ll be seeing is my dust.”

I motioned for us to get started. Otherwise we would have been trading barbs forever.

I looked down at the course below. A winding trail worked its way down the mountain with the occasional house at the side. It was just past midday and there were a few other tengu milling around. There were a few businesses further on and therefore more people. But the biggest challenge there was avoiding the trees while, at the same time, minding the sudden cliffs and gullies that came up without warning.

I could already picture where I’d jump and where I could save some time by avoiding the trail altogether. We set off at the exact count of three.

Aya was slightly faster than me at the start. I kept up with her for the first part of the descent, keeping close enough that she could always see me in her peripheral vision. We were two blurs down the mountain path, far faster than most youkai could dream of going. We ran into our first bystander and had to dodge to either side. Even our fellow tengu would be hard pressed to get out of the way in time at our speed.

Cursing followed our wake. I smiled and jumped onto a roof of a house just ahead down slope. In a second, I had jumped across to the next roof even further down. Naturally, I used my wings to break the fall. Still, I managed to smash a roof tile accidentally. But there was no time to apologize and I kept moving ahead. I overtook Aya quite easily and was in the lead when the trees started getting denser.

A lot of homes were built into parts of the larger trees. It was a way to save on building materials and also to keep the greenery intact. It did mean, however, that going from roof to roof had the additional problem of dealing with branches poor visibility. That poor visibility almost cost me dearly when I jumped from a roof and found that I about to go over a cliff. I took a second desperate jump from the edge and wasn’t able to calculate my landing zone properly and ended up scraping my leg against a spiny shrub.

That wasn’t the end of my grief.

Aya had no qualms about using the same type of shortcut as me. She was at my heels as we cleared the final gully before the village center. It would be a proper sprint to the end. With narrow streets and a lot of people moving about, it was hard to maneuver freely. The split second where I had to slow down so as to not ram into a wolf pushing a cart full sake meant that Aya was able to overtake me. It was close, so close and I kept up while trying my hardest to look for an opening I could exploit.

My body was working overtime to make it to the end. It felt like my heart was going to leap out of my throat if I didn’t keep my mouth shut. All I could hear was my own breathing, my heart and the fluttering of my clothes. But it was the same for her, I wagered. I was sure that I spotted beads of sweat on her face as she tried her best to win. It was incredibly cute to see her so fixated on winning. All the more reason to put her in her place!

The square at the center of the village was an actual wooden platform erected amid the trees. Twin slopes spiraled out from opposite ends up to about mid-tree level. With the uneven terrain, it was just barely at the height of the homes and small shops that circled the square. It was a design inspired by humans but improved by the tengu. All I had to do was reach the marker in the middle first.

We barreled up the ramp side by side, with her a mere foot’s length ahead.

The marker was in sight, that old bust of Lord Tenma was almost within arm’s reach… my feet moved as fast as they could. I felt like I could win in the next few seconds!

A blow like a hammer hit me in the leg. I toppled over, rolling violently, sliding on the wooden platform for a few body lengths’ worth of distance. I couldn’t feel a thing with my body still operating to the limit. I ignored everything but my thoughts of winning and those of vengeance. Aya. Damn her! I was going to teach her a lesson for taking me down like that!

That was, until, I saw that Aya was also recovering from stumbling. Boy, did she looked she pissed. Her expression mirrored my own. She scanned around looking for me, thinking to do to me the same thing I had planned to do to her. We locked eyes. And confusion crept in for a moment. Her brow furrowed but then her anger intensified. Mine did as well. We jointly looked for the culprit, ignoring the fact that we were both scuffed up real bad and our clothes were a mess.

“!!!” Aya grunted angrily when she saw who had sabotaged the race. Another tengu, arms crossed, floated just about the marker. Her smug expression set my blood boiling as well. “You crossed the line, Hatate!” Aya barked.

“I stopped a pair of troublemakers from disturbing the peace in the village. I even used a controlled burst of bullets,” Hatate replied with a disgusting smirk. “Still trying to cause trouble to get your scoops eh, Aya?”

“We were in the middle of a race, you moron!” I interrupted “you ruined a perfectly good bet!”

Just who the hell did she think she was?

Hatate frowned. It seemed that she hadn’t even cared about my presence until I yelled at her. “You’re wasting your time dealing with this fraud, anyhow. You’re better off forgetting she exists, ” she said, looking down her nose at me.

I turned towards Aya. She looked calmer. Her eyes narrowed with cool focus as we locked gazes again.

[] Team up to teach Hatate a lesson.
[] The race is still on! Go for the marker!
Screw th-
[] Screw it. They’re not worth it.
No. 189302
[X] Team up to teach Hatate a lesson.
No. 189303
[x] Team up to teach Hatate a lesson.

the worst tengu at it again
No. 189304
[X] Team up to teach Hatate a lesson.

You know I've always wondered how Touhou Tengu keep their hats on while moving at high speeds, since they don't seem to be attached to anything. The geta make sense since there's a strap on them.
No. 189305
[X] Team up to teach Hatate a lesson.

Let's wipe that smug look off her face!
No. 189314
[x] The race is still on! Go for the marker!


Tengu hats have a built-in balancing mechanism and weight so much that no achievable value of velocity will generate enough wind resistance to cause them to sway.
No. 189320
[x] The race is still on! Go for the marker!
No. 189322
[x] Team up to teach Hatate a lesson.

I'm sure Aya will make sure to finish the race first while he's busy, but I don't mind. And Hatate was kind of a jerk to her.
No. 189324
So what's the terminal velocity of an unladen crow tengu?

[X] Team up to teach Hatate a lesson.

She's got it coming.
No. 189329
[x] Team up to teach Hatate a lesson.

A way to bond and I doubt Aya would pull a stunt given how upset she was over the stunt.
No. 189330
[x] The race is still on! Go for the marker!

I was worried that this would end up making us look silly but it's honestly more interesting than the other options
No. 189351

Accelerate the Tengu to 40,270 km/h, the velocity required to exit earth's atmosphere and gravitational pull. This kills the Tengu.
No. 189352
A slight nod was all that was needed to seal the deal.

Hatate blathered on and on, boring us with her opinion on Aya. Basically, she ignored me. And that would be her undoing.

I walked towards Hatate calmly. Aya watched me from the corner of her eyes. Funny how powerful the mind was. Though I saw that some of the skin on my arm was raw from the fall, I couldn’t feel it at all. Wreaking vengeance was all I could think about. I focused my anger into action.

There was no hesitation as I hit her twice from the side with a stream of bullets. It did little more than tear her blouse slightly. Hatate spun around, looking shocked, almost falling to the ground. She shouted something but it didn’t really matter. Aya was already following up the distraction with a torrent of her own. It almost caught Hatate in full but she managed to shoot up higher into the sky and avoid the full brunt of the attack.

“Two against one is no fair,” Hatate shouted, no longer looking as confident as before. As a crow, her pride wouldn’t let her show any anxiety but I could tell she was struggling to find a way to improve her odds. It was what I’d do too, if the tables were turned.

“As if you had any idea what sportsmanship means,” Aya shouted, not slowing down as she shot another barrage at her. We zoomed in closer as Hatate fell back in a blink of an eye. More bullets followed as she retaliated. But she was off-balance and her shots were wide off the mark. Ours were a little closer to target.

I found myself thinking that fighting was way more fun than winning a race. Not that I was any good at it. I had the speed common to all our kind, sure, but I lacked the technique and power that the both of them were showing. My attacks were opportunistic and weak but I enjoyed the thrill of keeping my opponent off balance. Rapidly changing altitude and attacking from different angles was much more than actually damaging scoring big hits.

Aya was beautiful in motion. I could keep up with her when running but in the sky she was on a whole different level. She zipped about like a woman possessed, outputting a steady stream of projectiles at Hatate; secondary attacks zoomed with precision to where her opponent had been only fractions of seconds earlier. I had to admit, I probably would have been hit a dozen times over if I had been on the receiving end of the attacks.

“You messed up my hair!” Hatate yelled indignantly as a bullet shredded a ribbon. A single pigtail wasn’t as cute, definitely. I laughed and looked on over at Aya. It was about time to wrap things up. I sped towards Hatate, forcing her to focus solely on me for a moment. She probably believed that Aya wouldn’t shoot with an ally so close to her. But I had seen the look in Aya’s eyes and I knew that all she would exploit any opportunity that came up. Hatate shot at me point blank, venting her frustration in full, “quit helping her out!”

I got hit in the shoulder by a bright ball of pain. But the smirk never left my lips as Aya focused her full intensity on the target. Hatate was done for. She only just managed to avoid hitting the ground at high speed. With tears in her eyes, she cursed at us and speed off, disappearing into the treeline.

“Nice shooting,” I complimented Aya as we drifted slowly towards the ground. Her last blast had almost clipped me as well but I had managed to get out of the way at the last moment.

Aya nodded, a broad smile on her face, “that fledgling won’t be trying anything else anytime soon. We taught her a harsh lesson.”

“What about the race? I asked, looking down towards the square.

“Call it a draw,” she laughed and ruffled my hair, adding to the already tussled mess. Hers was matted in places as well, a combination of the high speed movements and sweating from the race. But our appearances didn’t matter. We looked victorious and that was enough. “I’m in a good mood now, so let’s just get a bite to eat and a celebrate.”

“Your treat?” I asked, playfully pushing her away with a light punch.

“Sure, why not?” she agreed, “I think you learned a good lesson about teamwork. That’s an important skill for a leader to have.”

“Oh, give it a rest already,” I laughed. The heady feeling of victory and camaraderie sure was intoxicating.

Tengu ingenuity was without peer. The humans liked to set up carts and stalls full of foodstuff they would peddle in their village. We, with the help of our kappa friends, had introduced a measure of modernity to our cooking process. So even the humblest of carts had grills that were hotter and cooked foods faster than anything else around. It gave us more time in our days to get things done.

Aya and I each had a bowl of food in front of us in no time at all. Naturally, we drank with our meal. Not too much, but enough to dull some of the edge from all the blows we had endured earlier. There was a time and a place to drink and place to drink like an oni. We made some conversation as we ate, mostly about airborne tactics. I wasn’t ashamed of asking her all about any tips she might have. We were on wholly different levels in that regard.

“I guess a lot of it comes down to raw experience,” I concluded. Aya had been in a lot of scraps and had traveled to nearly everywhere in Gensokyo. “I’m going to have to leave the mountain if I want to improve myself significantly, right?”

“Oh look at this one,” Aya teased after slurping down a mouthful of noodles, “might have some wisdom inside that head, after all. Realizing the limitations of yourself and your environment are the key to growth.”

“Shush, you don’t get to act all high and mighty when you’re still fighting over stupid rivalries.”

She sighed, “you’d get along with Hatate probably. You’re very alike.”

“I don’t see what I have in common with that obsessive twerp,” I told her.

“Uhuh,” she smiled knowingly, trying to get under my skin.

[] What’s the deal with Hatate, anyhow?
[] She’s not exactly easy to get along with either.
No. 189355
[x] What’s the deal with Hatate, anyhow?

Legendary teamwork. Well, for one of them, at least.
No. 189356
[X] What’s the deal with Hatate, anyhow?

That might have made it harder for our protagonist to get to know Hatate later, but it was completely worth it.
No. 189358
[X] She’s not exactly easy to get along with either.

If MC acts like Hatate, and Aya is friends with MC, doesen't that mean Aya could be friends with Hatate as well? They need to bury the hatchet already.
No. 189360
[X] She’s not exactly easy to get along with either.

poor taters
No. 189361
[x] She’s not exactly easy to get along with either.

Focus on present, and clever, company.
No. 189362
[X] What’s the deal with Hatate, anyhow?

But I like Hatate. And Aya. Wolves are good too! Tengu are just great.
No. 189363
[x] She’s not exactly easy to get along with either.
No. 189364
[x] She’s not exactly easy to get along with either.

Hatate who?
No. 189372
[X] What’s the deal with Hatate, anyhow?

Actually curious
No. 189374
>>There was a time and a place to drink and place to drink like an oni.

>>time and a place to drink and place to drink

Uhh, okay?

[X] What’s the deal with Hatate, anyhow?

Because if it's because her newspaper is better and more popular than yours, I'm out of here.
No. 189382
[X] What’s the deal with Hatate, anyhow?
No. 189396
File 146561181572.png- (648.61KB , 800x600 , crow judgment.png ) [iqdb]
“At any rate,” I tried to stop her from getting too carried away, “what’s her deal? She doesn’t like you, sure. But there’s got to be something else to it, right?”

Aya seemed to stop to think about it, putting down her bowl and staring up towards the sky. She laughed quietly to herself before turning to me, stating, “like I said, you’re very alike. You both think that your way of thinking is the only one that’s correct.”

“Sure, but I could say the same about most people,” I shook my head, feeling that she was still teasing me somehow. It was a little hard to tell what she was thinking, since she was so good at steering any conversation away from herself. “If I’m similar to her, why don’t I hate you?”

“I’m not a rival, maybe,” she tilted her head, saying something that she knew was a flimsy explanation. “Maybe if we ever sat down and had tea together we could see things eye to eye. As it stands there’s too much raw emotion, too much passion. Something like that, maybe,” Aya shook her head with a sly smile and then helped herself to the last bit of noodles in her bowl.

“So you’re saying you got on the wrong foot, basically? Or are you just saying that she’d see things your way if she would only try?” I asked, knowing that there was a good chance she was just being patronizing.

“Does it really matter?” Aya shrugged, “point is, she’s too brash and stubborn. Again, like you.”

“I really hate you,” I said with a shake of my head, “if I get offended at that, you’re just going to claim that I’m proving your point. If I don’t say anything, you’re going to keep on walking all over me.”

“Such are the dilemmas faced by our leaders,” she snickered, clearly enjoying herself.

But, it did open another door. “So you’re saying, I guess, if Hatate is similar to me, she also has leadership qualities?”

“Aye, that’s definitely what you should take away from this conversation,” her words were heavy with sarcasm.

“I should have just tried to win the race instead of helping you out...”

“Hey, you got a free meal out of it, no whinging now,” Aya said, slapping me on the back. She motioned towards my empty bowl, asking if I wanted anything else. I shook my head.“’sides, you know,” she continued, “I can kind of see you and her as some sort of power couple. Rising to the top of our society through grit and cunning.”

“You’re just making up a story for your papers,” I dismissed the notion with a wave of her hand.

“Maaaaaaaayyyybe,” she chuckled, “I do get letters from time to time asking about the hottest gossip. People love relationship drama, so maybe you’d be a good subject.”

“Yeah, I’m just going to keep myself unattached for now, got other worries to deal with first,” I nipped that idea in the bud. It was hard enough to figure out my future without having to deal with whatever trashy romance story Aya was hoping for.

“I guess I won’t bring up the wolf thing,” she shot me another knowing look.

“What are you talking about?” I hadn’t the faintest clue what she was getting at. “Is this another desperate attempt at creating a rumor?”

“Let’s just say that trusted sources have confirmed that moonlit encounters may be regularly taking place between certain well-bred crows and dutiful wolves. Innocent curiosity about fellow tengu, maybe. Maybe much more to it than that.”

“While I’m sure that’s really interesting to your readers, I’m sure that you’d already have run the story if you had any proof,” I said, not sure where she was going with the subject.

“It’s just a little reminder to be discreet in matters of the heart, whatever your inclinations may be,” she patted her camera with a smile that oozed sleaze, ”free advice from someone who cares,”

I sighed. I could read between the lines.

“Guess I’ll have to learn to use people like you too,” I said, “learn to distract from my own shortcomings by making the conversation about something else.”

“Oh, aren’t we clever?” Aya sounded as genuine as I expected. We left the stall and started walking. She was quiet for a few moments and her follow up was more measured, offering little of the earlier scorn, “if the whole leadership thing doesn’t work out, you can always come work with me. But let’s make it work out, okay?”

“You’re really the worst,” I told her with a smile. And that was the end of our conversation for a while.

We walked through the busy streets and Aya stopped now and again, mostly studying advertisements and any newspapers that happened to be on display. The great mass of tengu was lively as always and our village was filled with energy. The occasional kappa and lesser youkai were also around, mostly looking to trade or services. The human village was far away and not everyone was comfortable dealing with things in the human fashion. It hadn’t always been so integrated, though, and I remembered that when I was smaller there was quite a bit of friction between us and them. I wondered what changed Lord Tenma’s mind.

“You know why they asked me to help you out, right?” Aya finally piped up again when we were clear of the main body of people that tended to gather aroudn the shops.

“Because father fancies you?”

“If he does, then he has good taste,” Aya chuckled, “but no, it’s because I know everyone worth knowing. I’m out in the field nearly every day. Unlike Hatate and unlike you.”

“So, what, you’re going to take me on a journey?” I asked.

“Nope, not at all. I’m going to do what I do best and point out where the real story is. I’m sure you can connect the rest of the dots.”

“Yeah, I become wiser, I get the job, gotcha. Make new friends too.”

“Close enough,” she winked, bringing the topic to an end. We had stopped in front of a bath house. The mountain was full of hot springs and pretty much all of the youkai in the area liked to relax in them. It was a normal thing and you could usually find all sorts of creatures sharing the same pool. “Let’s go in,” Aya urged, “after that run and swatting down that pesky bird I think we could do with some relaxing.”

[] Go into the women’s side.
[] Go into the men’s side.

This is just to determine the protagonist's sex, nothing else. Hasn't been defined until now if you haven't noticed. The choice will affect the type of relationships with some characters and a few situations. As well as maybe put things in a slightly different perspective in a few cases.
No. 189399
[x] Go into the men’s side.

either way is good
No. 189401
[X] Go into the women’s side.

I like the way you write Aya. Although I suppose that could be said of most other characters too.
No. 189403
[X] Go into the men’s side.

honestly I'm mostly just interested to see if we meet anyone over on the men's side
No. 189406
[x] Go into the men’s side

Sounds like tenguMC's certainly is getting accquanted with the others.
No. 189409
[x] Go into the men’s side.

He's a work in progress, but has potential. I guess that's why Aya has taken him under her wing.
No. 189413
[x] Go into the men’s side.

Neat character interaction so far.
No. 189415
[X] Go into the men’s side.
playing as a girl is overrated
No. 189417
[x] Go into the men’s side.

once this is all over this (if the vote wins) guy is going to be a great leader, if only because he will have the patience of a saint (or insert applicable term here) after being (and dealing) with Aya the whole time!
No. 189418
[x] Go into the men’s side
No. 189423
[x] Go into the men’s side

If the shoe fits...
No. 189433
[X]Complain to the manager that his oppressive establishment only has two options for gender

[x] Go into the men’s side
No. 189434
[X] Penis
No. 189436
I went off to my own side of the bath and started putting away my clothes. A small mirror was just beyond the first curtain that separated the changing area from the rest of the bathhouse. I caught my own reflection momentarily and checked to see if my face hadn’t been scuffed up by the fight. Seemed that I was fine. But staring at my face made me feel strange and a powerful urge to list my key features and describe myself from head to toe. That was way too self-indulgent, though, and I wasn’t in the mood to be quite so vain.

Not to mention that it got me thinking of an ad I saw in Aya’s paper. Maybe it was all the weird solvents and ink I had been breathing in the past few days but it had stuck with me. “FSM, enjoys moonlight flights, must like adventure,” it had said. I couldn’t help but wonder if I fit the bill.

I supposed that being naked helped me be a little more reflective, weirdly enough. I tried to brush aside any more stupid thoughts as I got into the bathing area proper. As it was mid-afternoon, the place was pretty empty. A sole elderly wolf sat by the edge of the area, rinsing himself off methodically. The actual hot spring sat empty. It was clearly not the biggest bath on the mountain and its pool could hold a dozen or so bathers on my side. A flimsy bamboo partition divided the pool in half; presumably it was regularly removed whenever the baths became unisex due to demand. I washed up before taking a soak.

Maybe the medicinal properties of hot springs were overstated. I wasn’t too sure if it’d help with my bruises and scrape much. All the same, the hot water felt good against my skin. I quickly got used to the heat and retreated to a corner, leaning back against rocks and relaxing. It was quiet and I managed to space out properly before trouble came calling.

“Psst, you there?” she called from the other side of the partition.

“No, I’ve drowned, “ I sighed, wishing that Aya respected the sanctity of bath time.

“Oh, I guess you’re the type to haunt a location forever because you died a virgin or something.”

“I’m-” I sighed again, deciding it would be stupid to even acknowledge the comment,”what do you want?”

“I’m booooorrreeed. There’s no one here and I felt like making conversation,” she said. “I can see the back of your head from here, by the way.”

“You shouldn’t peep,” I told her.

“How else am I going to get my ranking of the mountain’s most eligible bachelor’s done?” she joked.

I would have preferred to have ignored her for a while. Listening to her be stupid was just going to make me feel lightheaded faster. “I’m sure the other customers mind your peeping very much,” I said, hoping to get her to back done.

“What, you mean wolfy? He left like five minutes ago, in case you haven’t noticed.” I looked around. He had left the stool at the edge of the area and was nowhere to be seen. I was completely alone in the bath. “Man, how can you call yourself a crow when you so obviously suck at noticing things?” Aya laughed at my expense.

“I’m part of the elite, not a lowly scout,” I fired back, “my abilities should be more focused towards the cerebral side of things.”

“Ooh, get a load of the princeling,” she laughed again, unimpressed, “come on over to my side for a bit, talking through a hole in the wall is kind of boring.”

“Do you think I’m stupid or something?” I sighed, “why the hell would I cross over to your side? Best case scenario you make fun of me for taking you seriously. Most other scenarios involve some combination of scandal, blackmail and general unpleasantness.”

“Oh, come on,” Aya put on a sweet act, “I’d never blackmail someone I promised to help.” She splashed around a little to emphasize her next point, “in case you haven’t noticed, I’m pretty naked in here. Can’t really hide a camera on me. And even if I could, I’d risk getting both camera and film wet, ruining them.”

“Still not seeing the upside to this,” I told her, stealing a cautious glance at the partition. There was a pretty sizable hole a bit over water level. I could make out Aya’s eye and part of her face from my side. How the owners hadn’t fixed that yet was beyond me.

“I did mention I was naked, right?” Aya laughed, “a beautiful woman is calling you to keep her company in the bath, that should be motivation enough.”

“A shrew doesn’t exactly count as beautiful,” I replied, looking away.

“I’m so hurt that a petulant child insulted me,” I could picture her rolling her eyes as she spoke. “Part of being an adult is knowing how to get along with others. I’m sure you knew already, but late at night this is a mixed bath. You think all the youkai who come here have an orgy or something? Nope, they know that it’s natural and don’t make a fuss.”

“Still not going to let you trick me,” I said.

“Hm, maybe the truth is that you’re afraid,” she taunted, “afraid of how you might react with such sweet temptation before you. Come on, prove that you can handle yourself in uncomfortable situations.”

“...you’re so full of crap.”

“Am I?” she chuckled. “You’re making this a bigger deal than it needs to be. Just swim under the partition and we can see if I’m right or not. I might even share a nice bit of information I overheard the other day. About a certain cute tengu that fancies you.”

[] Nope, still a trap.
[] Fine, it’s not a big deal.
No. 189437
[x] How about YOU come over to this side? Like you said, there's no one there.

No. 189438
[X] Fine, it’s not a big deal.

I have trouble believing that a young man is going to be able to win this battle against Aya
No. 189439
[x] How about YOU come over to this side? Like you said, there's no one there.
[x] If that doesn't work, then stay put. It's still a trap.

I'm honestly curious if she'll go for it. If not, then we get more Aya teasing I suppose. Which is fine? Is that fine?
No. 189440
[x] How about YOU come over to this side? Like you said, there's no one there.
[x] If that doesn't work, then stay put. It's still a trap.

I feel like just being a stubborn ass and refusing is too rough, we need to make a counter offer of her joining our side. I can just FEEL the hijinks that would ensue if we went over to her side; She may not be alone in there for long and we don't need a scandal to start about us going into the women's side.
No. 189441
For all effects and purposes, I'll count that write-in as "it's a trap". There was a bit of conversation that got cut dealing with telling her to come over because it muddied the focus of the choice which basically is about both confidence and whether to trust her or not. Sorry, should have handled it better but writing choices is always the hardest part of updates.
No. 189442
[x] How about YOU come over to this side? Like you said, there's no one there.
[x] If that doesn't work, then stay put. It's still a trap.

No matter how safe it might seems, going to the other side is a misunderstanding waiting to happen
No. 189443
[X] Nope, still a trap.

I'm slightly disappointed at how the votes were overwhelmingly for male.
No. 189446
[x] Fine, it’s not a big deal.

sure why not
No. 189448
[x] Fine, it’s not a big deal.

Nothing venture, nothing gained!
No. 189449
gotta be bold
[x] Fine, it’s not a big deal.
No. 189450
[X] Fine, no big deal

Hello? Bath-time with Aya? Sure, I'll wash your back if you'll wash mine.
No. 189451
Thanks for the clarification. I know write ins are hard to manage sometimes.

[x] Fine, it’s not a big deal.

A trap? Maybe. But still worth it.
No. 189452
[x] Why don't we switch places?
No. 189459
Not sure how much free time I'll have tomorrow so I'm going to go ahead and call it and write another update just in case.
No. 189467
File 146571252843.jpg- (119.46KB , 773x1092 , safe for her line of work.jpg ) [iqdb]
As Aya continued to promise the world to me, I slid under the water. The partition didn’t extend much below the water level, so it was easy to find a spot to swim under to get to the other side. I surfaced by a rock formation to one side of the area.

“Oho~” Aya greeted me enthusiastically, “so you decided to join me after all!”

She was by the partition, looking carefree as she leaned back onto another set of stones. It was a casual pose, one that left her submerged to about breast level in the water. No doubt yet another way of teasing me. I wasn’t about to stare but as a man I had to at least admit that she was reasonably well-proportioned. I moved in a little closer, mindful of not being too close to the entrance. I noted that her hair was done up in a bun, likely to avoid getting it wet. Between the mist and distortion of the water, there was little more to see of her body.

“Don’t you get any strange ideas now,” I joked, adopting a position similar to her own. We were sat face to face. If I wanted, I could touch her just by stretching my leg under the water.

“You’re in better shape than I thought,” she said with an ambiguously light smile. Wasn’t sure where she was going with that. “you could be a real lady killer if you applied yourself.”

“No thanks. Seems like too much of a hassle. I mean, clearly I’ve already got my hands full with just you, I don’t want to complicate my life more.”

“You have to be more ambitious if you’re to be a leader,” Aya winked, “Lord Tenma broke a lot of hearts back when he was in his prime, don’t you know.” She shifted her body down, leaving only her neck and head above water. I soon found out why. I felt her toe rub against one of my crossed legs. She winked again, lowering her voice to a breathy whisper, “don’t squander your natural gifts. Use them to your advantage.”

“Like you’re using yours right now?” I asked coolly. As… galvanizing as her underwater carress was, I wasn’t about to give her the satisfaction of overreacting. It was a matter of pride and, more importantly, a matter of keeping things under control.

“Exactly,” she giggled, withdrawing her foot and rising back out of the water. She sat up straight, giving me a full view of her bosom. I tried my best to not star at the hues pinkish tones right at eye level. Water droplets shimmered as they rolled down, making things… much harder to bear. “If someone is distracted by something as trivial as this,” she explained, cupping the underside of her breasts with an arm, “they’re then easy to manipulate.”

“Well, what’s all that about someone who fancied me? Just another lie to get me to come over?” I asked, ignoring her sultry figure.

“Sort of, kind of,” she said, before slinking back down to a more modest pose, “and in case you were wondering, not only are they shapely but they’re also quite soft and fun to play with.”

“Noted,” I acted with indifference. Not sure it was too believable. I had tried not to obsess too much about her brazen exhibition. My voice was calm but, truth be told, my heart was agitated. I only hoped that my face didn’t betray any real emotion. Other body parts hadn’t committed one way or another. “Now you were about to say something about a cute tengu?”

“Would it make you happy if I was that tengu?” she asked softly, once again returning her voice to a nearly inaudible whisper. Calling it a demure act would be an understatement.

“But you’re not, right? So let’s get down to business.”

“My poor little maidenly heart can’t take such boldness, I’m liable to swoon!” Aya leaned back again, pretending she was lightheaded.

“Okay, I’m going to take your lack of answer as a sign that you just made it up,” I sighed.

“Like I said, sort of, kind of,” she stuck out her tongue playfully, taking as long to recover from her fake fainting as doing it in the first place. “It’s more like idle tongues talking about the future of our society. And I may have overheard a few girls saying that you weren’t too bad-looking. One of them may have said that you didn’t seem like a complete idiot.”

“...that’s really not much,” I said, shaking my head.

“It’s enough,” Aya nodded, “you did a good thing coming over. It was real bold. So to keep you on a roll, the next thing you should do is go talk to one of these tengu. You need to get used to dealing with groups of people and getting them to do what you want. Nobody will follow a leader that can’t get things done. ”

“This sounds like a really half-baked plan,” I voiced the obvious misgivings anyone would have. “I’m basically gambling that I’ll get a good reception. Didn’t you say that I had to leave and find people elsewhere?”

“That’s not mutually exclusive with what I’m saying now. I’m not asking you to date someone or anything, just chat someone up and leave a good impression on them. It’s good practice for when you meet people outside of the mountain.”

“Yeah, you know what, whatever,” I was getting too tired to fight her. Between her continuous playing around with me and her disjointed advice, my head felt like it was going to melt away entirely. The hot water wasn’t helping things much either. “I’m going to rinse off and get out of here,” I told her, “I’ll see you outside.”

“Fine,” she rolled her eyes, “and to think I was going to offer to wash your back.”

I flicked my hand half-heartedly towards her, letting her know just how much I believed her. I returned to the men’s side of the bath and got out. It was funny but, as I cooled off at the edge, the memory of Aya’s supple figure was somehow more enticing than when it was right in front of my eyes. I felt that I was grinning like an idiot.

Aya was waiting for me outside the bathhouse. Though her eyes were alight with mischievous energy, she held off from making any comments about me. Instead, she urged me to follow her towards the lower parts of the village. “Changing of the guard,” she said, pointing to a group of tengu who were coming back from the woods into the village. They were a group of wolves, all young and all female.

“My would-be fans,” I preempted her thought.

“That’s right. I want you to get one of them to go join you for a cup of tea,” she explained, “simple enough, right? It’s up to you to decide how you want to do it.”

I took a few steps away from away and began to approach the group. I had to pick the right target. Not only that, but I had to use the right line. What was more important, I wondered: deception, charisma or outright audacity?

[] Confidence and normal flirting ought to do the trick.
[] Pretend to be writing an article and ask one of them for an interview.
[] Admit to being put up to the task and angle for sympathy.
[] Some other write-in option

To make up for the snafu of the previous vote, here's a chance to try something creative if you like. If not, I've put a bunch of somewhat different approaches you can try. Also, goddamn it was hard for me not to be more explicit about Aya's appearance and I ended up deleting a lot of stuff so as to not drag the story down with needless smut.
No. 189468
[x] Confidence and subtle flirting ought to do the trick.

Changed it a bit, though I'm a bit biased towards this as it's how I carried myself with girls, though it wasn't really flirting. Wound up getting some nicknames though.
No. 189469
Don't discard all of that smut now. We may need it for later. Anyways, standard flirting conduct should be fine. If it doesn't work don't get too worked up, that's part of the game.

[X] Confidence and normal flirting ought to do the trick.
No. 189470
I don't like asking for pity and lies have a way to bite you in the ass

[x] Confidence and normal flirting ought to do the trick.

I want to see his normal approach before I start to criticize it.

>Drag down the story with needless smut

Don't you mean 'Enrich the story with delicious smut'?
No. 189471
[x] Confidence and subtle flirting ought to do the trick.

>Don't you mean 'Enrich the story with delicious smut'?
That sounds about right. Actually that would probably make this have to go to /at/ though.
No. 189472
[X] Confidence and normal flirting ought to do the trick.
No. 189473
[x] Confidence and subtle flirting ought to do the trick.

If there is anything I've learned about getting chicks from my Visual Novels, you need to act confident and avoid too much spaghetti. Then show them your fedora collection.
No. 189474
>her eyes were alight with mischievous energy

I think she knows something we don't

[X] Observe the group dynamic before moving in. Try to identify a shy/demure wolf.
-[X] This is a sneaking mission.
No. 189477
[X] Confidence and normal flirting ought to do the trick.

Personally I don't care for needless smut. Probably an uncommon opinion.
No. 189479
[x] Confidence and subtle flirting ought to do the trick.

We're testing the waters here, after all. This is the first time we've done this, after all.
No. 189480
[X] Confidence and normal flirting ought to do the trick.

If he's man enough to just waltz into the women's side of the bath, he's man enough to flirt.
No. 189481
[X] Confidence and normal flirting ought to do the trick.

smut is nevr bad
No. 189494
[x] Pretend to be writing an article and ask one of them for an interview.

A good crow knows when subterfuge can be used to his advantage.
No. 189529
File 14658087059.jpg- (1.22MB , 2480x3507 , nothing to awoo about.jpg ) [iqdb]
The group noticed me soon enough. A quick scan of faces showed that they weren’t openly hostile to my approach. On the contrary, at least two of them seemed to be intrigued. One whispered something to the other and both smiled at the private comment. It would be madness to try overextend myself, so I chose to focus my efforts on the one who had smiled first.

“Hello,” I began, having once heard the obvious bit of advice that you had to start with a greeting. My target wasn’t the prettiest of the bunch, if I had to to be honest, but I had to go for whoever seemed most receptive. “Sorry for interrupting your conversation, but I couldn’t forgive myself I didn’t come over.”

“Oh, and why is that?” she played along, flashing a toothy smile. Her friend stood by with an equally interested look while the rest of the group evidently decided to simply move on.

“Well… it’s kind of embarrassing,” I said, scratching my head, “you’ll have to promise not to laugh.”

“Hm, I don’t think I can promise that,” she said coyly, evidently pleased at being the center of attention. I saw her tail twitch, perhaps a preamble to a proper wag. “You’ll just have to try and see what happens.”

“Alright,” I acted dumb, “ I thought you were pretty cute. And, uh, I wanted to see if you’d be willing to join me for a cup of tea nearby. So we can talk and get to know each other a little better. But, um, if you’re busy...”

It was, of course, a blatant lie. The only nervousness I felt was because I wanted to get her to come along, not because I thought she was pretty. I mean, she wasn’t bad-looking or anything, but from the moment that Aya had told me I had to convince one of them, I stopped looking at them as girls. It was the only way I could keep my cool. Truth be told, I wasn’t sure how much of what Aya said about me was her genuine opinion and how much was bullshit. As far as my ego told me, I wasn’t ugly or anything. But cute? Charming? That required a leap of faith I wasn’t sure was warranted.

“Ohh,” the girl smiled again, looking over at her friend, “what do you think, Sayaka? Think he’s cute enough?”

“He’s got a nice face...” Sayaka said, winking at me, “he’d be a good catch I think.”

“Oh, so you don’t mind if I leave you alone?” the girl asked her friend.

“Go for it!” Sayaka encouraged her, “I’ll carry your stuff home if you think that you won’t make it for the night~”

“Oh, stop being so dirty!” the girl laughed, handing her friend her rucksack with her gear. She turned to me, adding with a roll of her eyes, “please ignore my friend, I’m sure you’re nice and all, but I’m not that kind of girl. Let’s have tea and see if we get along.”

“Sounds fine to me,” I said, happy at how easily things were going. I smiled and peppered her with inane small talk while we left her friend behind. We took a left, through a narrow alley to avoid having to take the long way around among the crowds.

I was wondering just how much longer I’d be able to pretend I was interested in her, when my plan got turned around on its head. The wind was knocked out of me as I slammed up against the wall. The girl gasped in surprise. But a single glance from my assailant kept her from saying more.

“I-I’m sorry,” she said as she fled, “nice meeting you but I should go now!”

I pushed back, struggling to get air back into my lungs. A sneak attack was no fair. Besides, I had reached my quota for physical effort for the day already. It didn’t seem like my attacker agreed, since she pressed me harder against the wall as her eyes narrowed. The hell was her problem? I thought as I finally regained my breath and was able to kick her away with a weak blow.

“What did I ever do to you?!” I tried to say, really wheezing more than actually getting words out. She was a dressed like a guard, her equipment slung over her shoulder. Her eyes were narrowed, telling me that she wasn’t much in the mood for talk. I supposed I had to count myself lucky that I didn’t get stabbed right away.

“What’s your relationship with her?” she snarled, ears and tail stiff.

“I just met her, sorry if she was your girl or something,” I said something absurd but it was the only thing that came to me. Why the hell else would I be attacked if not out of a jealous rage?

“Don’t be an idiot!” the girl snapped.

“Depending who you ask, that can be a tall order...” I faced the situation with humor, trying to see if she’d take her intensity down a notch.

“I mean the crow you were with, you were talking before approaching my friends.”

“A slightly annoying would-be mentor,” I told her the truth. It was the kindest way of putting our relationship. Object of affection, she certainly wasn’t. Childhood friend neither. Overbearing and annoying, sure.

The girl stiffened and reached for her sword.

“Listen,” I told her, “I don’t know if you’re trying to intimidate me or what, but I’m telling you the truth. So how about you take a deep breath and tell me why the hell you just attacked me, m’kay?”

She sighed. “Maybe I did overreact...”

“No kidding,” I said, “you really shouldn’t attack fellow tengu. Even if I’m a crow and you’re a wolf, we should still get along.”

It didn’t seem like it’d be too hard to get along with her under normal circumstances. And not only because she was better-looking than the girl she had chased off. Sure, the well-proportioned and athletic body helped. As did the deepness of her eyes; they were probably cute whenever she wasn’t trying to hurt someone. The messy bangs and wild strands of head were down-to-earth and definitely would make her more approachable than the imperious-looking Aya. Probably. Maybe I was projecting. Side effect of trying my hardest not to lose my cool.

“If only it were that simple,” she shook her head. Both her shoulders and tail drooped. It didn’t seem like she was going to stab me, at least. “I suggest you never listen to anything she has to say about anything, ever.”

“We are talking about Aya, right?”

“The one and only Shameimaru.”

“Hm… it seems that she’s got enemies everywhere,” I said, suddenly thinking that maybe listening to her advice wasn’t such a good thing after all. If her enemies became mine… well, I didn’t really feel like being slammed up against walls again. “So where do you fit in?”

“Victim of harassment,” she said angrily. Still a very sore spot, by the sounds of it.

“You wouldn’t believe the things she’s made me do...” I smiled, trying to see if I could find common ground with her. Or, at the very least, if I could avoid getting her riled up again. If push came to shove, I could probably outrun her. But I didn’t really want to risk getting skewered in the process.

“I guess I should just say that you should stay away from her and don’t do anything she says. Like harass hard-working wolves.” She frowned and began to turn around, like she was just going to walk away.

“Waitasec,” I called after her, “this is just too weird for me. Shouldn’t we at least exchange names. Y’know, as mutual victims of Aya’s bullying?”

She laughed, her face at once losing its serious edge, “mutual victims? I guess that’s one way of putting it. I saw how she talked to you, it’s clear she’s not treating you like an equal. But I know who you are. Rather, who your father is.”

“Hm, that’s unfair,” I complained, “I still want to know who you are.”

“Why does it matter?” With a shrug, she added, “you stay out of my way, I’ll stay out of yours.”

[] Tell her she’s cute, that’s reason enough.
[] Because it might be useful to work together in the future.
[] It’s simply good manners between tengu.
No. 189530
[X] Because it might be useful to work together in the future.

If push comes to shove, we tell her she's cute, but to say that straight away after we've just been flirting with one of her friends, we'll look like a player.
No. 189531
[x] Because it might be useful to work together in the future.

Work first in this case, we should save the cute remarks for later. Makes me glad we didn't go for something more out there.
No. 189533
[x] Because it might be useful to work together in the future.

Wolf and co. ganging up to tease Aya sounds like a cool plan in the future. But meanwhile, might as well be pragmatic.
No. 189534
[x] Because it might be useful to work together in the future.

It would be wise to mention that we would like a friend to help out if we ever want to get a little payback on Aya. She would probably jump at the chance to help us with that
No. 189541
[x] Because it might be useful to work together in the future.
[x] Is this friend Hatate? My apologies for getting roped into attacking her.
No. 189545
[X] Because it might be useful to work together in the future.

I am fairly tempted to call her cute, but I don't really want to make our protag into the womanizer type. I like the idea of having him be mostly serious but somewhat weak to strong advances (like Aya did earlier)
No. 189552
Victim of harrassment? I'd rather be more careful. Mentioning how cute she is might catch her off guard. She seems to already be well acquainted with Aya though.

[X] It’s simply good manners between tengu

A simple if not boring reason, but it strikes a chord in this particular interaction. This sounds like Momiji Inubashiri and bringing up manners might pointedly remind her of the lack of decorum she showed just now. If this is her usual behaviour, it may not have any effect. But if she got a little carried away in the moment, we might be rewarded with a blush and the upper hand.
No. 189557
[X] It’s simply good manners between tengu.

I wonder what the total enemy count is for Aya. Maybe it's reached triple digits.
No. 189563
[X] It’s simply good manners between Tengu.

Easy there Momi, you're crossing over into yandere ex-girlfriend territory.
No. 189564
[x] It’s simply good manners between tengu.

Seems like a good comeback in a civilized* society such as this, no?
No. 189565
[X] It’s simply good manners between tengu

Eh, I don't think we really need to have any backup allies for any sort of payback against Aya, other than some teasing she's been more or less on the level and despite some opportunity to take advantage of our trust, like fighting Hayate with us rather than going for the finish line, hasn't betrayed our trust. I'd say as a lead we shouldn't be preparing to 'pay back' those who have been pretty loyal to us... we might come to regret the decision sometime from now, but it doesn't look like it from here.
No. 189567
[X] Because it might be useful to work together in the future.

Making contacts is always useful, specially if he plans to become a leader someday
No. 189568
[x] Because it might be useful to work together in the future.
Also because it's hard to stay out of someone's way when you slam into them full force, but that's just nitpicking.
No. 189569
[x] Tell her she’s cute, that’s reason enough.

What the hell is everyone else doing? This is an option to tell a favored white wolf tengu that she's cute. There is no better option!

Where are my fellow brothers-in-arms? This cannot stand. I need this.
No. 189572
I like best wolf but now isn't the right time to flirt. Gotta have the right mood for it.
No. 189580
[X] It’s simply good manners between tengu
No. 189581
[X] It’s simply good manners between tengu
No. 189587
[x] Because it might be useful to work together in the future.
[x] Is this friend Hatate? My apologies for getting roped into attacking her.

No, really, we gotta apologize for the Hatate incident.
No. 189617
Writing soon.
No. 189647
Maybe I was being stubborn or maybe I still hadn’t gotten over being treated so roughly, but I didn’t want to let her go without getting a few things sorted out. It wouldn’t hurt to try. Hopefully. “You’re not really taking into account the potential benefits of having me as a friend,” I started.

“I don’t need any more friends,” she said, “especially not any friends of hers.”

“I get that Aya isn’t very popular with you. But is it fair to lump me in that category when I haven’t really done anything wrong?”

“I am just walking away,” she reminded me, tapping her scabbard with a hand. “That’s about all the understanding you’re going to get from me.”

“So you’re just going to walk away on a potential friend and ally? Awfully small-minded,” I argued, feeling emboldened for some reason. No way she was going to attack me again, I wagered. I could push it a little. “There’s probably a lot of ways we could help one another. Maybe even outright work together. I have nothing against you or wolves.”

She raised an eyebrow, clearly skeptical of my claims. “Thinking that your self-interest is to my benefit is such a crow-like thing to think,” she said, “I don’t care for your intrigue and your power blocs. I like the people that I like and I don’t need a reason to care about anyone. Or, dislike and not care as the case might be.”

“You’re not really even giving me a chance here,” I forced a smile. It was hard to reason with someone who didn’t really seem like she wanted to listen to a dispassionate argument. Whatever affection one might have for someone else was not really the same as what mutual value you had in any kind of relationship.”Is it really that big of a deal to imagine yourself cooperating with me from time to time on common interests?”

“Let’s revisit the issue of the need ever arises,” she said, looking like she had had just about enough of my sophistry. With a shrug, she left me alone, heading back towards where I had first encountered the group of tengu.

I supposed that was a better goodbye than a sword through my gut. Or getting cursed at. Not as good as making a new friend, however. Probably would have been useless to ask her out for a cup of tea, too. If I was lucky, she would have just laughed in my face. In the end, I failed at what I set out to do. I left the alley and rejoined the rest of tengu society.

The afternoon sun had forced a lot of tengu back in their homes for a break. Still some walked about the streets, out shopping or meeting up with friends. I kept to the shade mostly and headed towards one of the relative vantage points in the area. The street I was on coiled up a bit of especially steep slope to a small group of homes. It had a commanding view of the places I had been walking past, so keeping track of an individual would be easier from up there.

I found Aya leaning against a wall, letting others on the street pass her by as she read a newspaper. Nobody seemed to pay her much attention as the passed by. There was no doubt in my mind that she had been waiting for me, probably keeping a close eye to see whether or not I’d be successful. I caught a subtle glance in my direction that pretty much confirmed it.

I approached her, trying to think about what I’d tell her. Didn’t seem that I had to bother. She spoke without even looking up from the paper, “wolves are often stronger than they look.”

“Keeping an eye on the competition?” I asked, ignoring the statement and pushing down the newspaper in her hands. Least she could do was make eye contact like a normal person.

“Not exactly,” she replied, folding away the paper, “found it on the ground, had time to kill. Nothing to it more than that.” That was only partly true, I was guessing. “What, do I have anything on my face?” she asked with a sly smile, “you’re bound to make a girl blush if you keep staring at her so much.”

“I was just wondering how much you knew and what exactly it was you hoped for,” I told her. It didn’t escape my notice that her camera was out of its protective case.

“It never hurts to keep an eye open and an ear to the ground,” she said. “I didn’t hope for much but to see how you reacted in a wholly unexpected situation.”

“Am I going to see a picture of myself in the next edition?”

“Nah, no need for that to be a story,” she didn’t bother denying the implication. “It’s not needed right now.”

“Needed? So you’re going to hold it over my head?”

“Give me a little more credit than that,” she laughed, poking me in the shoulder playfully with a finger. I wasn’t very amused. She picked on the fact in a most annoying way, “don’t pout,” she teased, “stuff like blackmail is really boring. Unless you’re pointing out a hypocrite. The pictures I took was something more like a journal. A little side project I’m working on.”

“That doesn’t exactly inspire confidence...”

“Hm… what if it turns out that I’m secretly in love with you and am taking pictures to build a shrine to my one true love?”

“Too far-fetched,” I told her with a sigh.

“Is it now?” she widened her eyes to doe-like proportions.

“Yes,” I insisted firmly. “But I can see that you’re not going to be honest with me, so I at least hope you have the decency to give me a heads up if you ever decide to screw me.”

“Don’t worry,” she smirked, “if that day ever comes, I’ll be gentle.”

It didn’t seem like she was going to be more forthcoming. So I tried to change the subject, “so what are we going to do next?”

“What lesson do you think you just learned?” she asked, “besides that I’m adorable. I mean with the wolves.”

“That some people just don’t want to cooperate,” I said with a shrug. It was hard to overcome a predisposition.

“Partly right,” Aya said, “but I thought by now you would also realize that relationships and society are pretty complicated. Because of me you’ve had two bad encounters today. And that’ll affect you going forward one way or the other. It’ll be that way with anyone else you meet and anything you decide to do. It all comes together in ways you can’t always predict. All you can hope for is to make the best of the situation.”

“Gee, those almost sounds like words of wisdom,” I wasn’t too thrilled with her so-called lesson. The build up was terrible and her reasoning seemed to vary from moment to moment.

“I’m sure you’ll appreciate what I’m trying to tell you in due time,” she said with an annoying little smile. The kind that looked absolutely patronizing. “I’m going to go home for now, you’re welcome to come with me if you like. I have some work to do but if you help me out with that, we can then talk some more after. I’m sure you’ve got a lot of questions for me that you’ve been raring to ask all day long.”

[] Help her out and get her to provide actual helpful information.
[] Take a break from her for the rest of the afternoon.
No. 189648
[x] Take a break from her for the rest of the afternoon.

I just feel some time away would help.
No. 189649
[X] Take a break from her for the rest of the afternoon.

I can only take so much smug tengu in one day. Besides, like she said, hanging out with her has given us two bad experiences. No need for more.
No. 189654
[X] Help her out and get her to provide actual helpful information.

A day can only have so many bad experiences.
No. 189664
[X] Take a break from her for the rest of the afternoon.

This does give us another opportunity to get to know BEST WOLF
No. 189671
[X] Help her out and get her to provide actual helpful information.

Ok, we can't let the many and varied nature of Aya's personality flaws distract us from her usefulness. If this house call is a bust, only then can we decisively says Aya withholds her title of worst Youkai Mountain 2hu. Just need to put up with her a little longer.
No. 189673
[X] Help her out and get her to provide actual helpful information.
let's see where this rabbit hole goes...
No. 189674
[X] Help her out and get her to provide actual helpful information.
No. 189676
[X] Take a break from her for the rest of the afternoon.

Stay objective and reflect a bit. This was a valuable lesson. Have to leverage our own personal brand identity with Aya's rep.
No. 189679
[x[Take a break from her

It wasn't completely her fault, like she said, but she didn't exactly help
No. 189680

Maybe that's why she's trying to help now if you'll let her.
No. 189681
[x] Help her out and get her to provide actual helpful information.
sharing tengu wisdom is good
No. 189686
[X] Help her out and get her to provide actual helpful information.
No. 189803
Sorry been busy and lazy and I didn't want to do a half-assed update just to have something done. There'll be something soon enough, but not sure when exactly since it depends on my schedule and how tired I am. Maybe later tonight if we're lucky.
No. 189819

You picked a pretty suspenseful update to take a break.
No. 189870
File 146655834210.jpg- (801.32KB , 1000x713 , <insert tengu pun here>.jpg ) [iqdb]
“Suit yourself,” Aya wished me well with a smile without even batting an eye. Hard to tell what she was thinking. Part of me thought that she tried to put me on constantly, for her own amusement. So it was hard to tell when she was being genuine and respecting my wishes. But that didn’t really matter. I’d see her later.

Without having a destination set firmly in my mind, I decided to walk around for a while. My feet took me to familiar places, higher up on the mountain, far from the shops and market. The slope became steeper, the path harder to follow, and the gullies rarer. The trees were older, larger and proudly replete with leaves on their thick and oftentimes gnarled branches. This older part of the forest was thick with undergrowth and was hard to travel on foot. If one were to climb up to the tree tops, most of Gensokyo would be visible from the heights. Not that many people did that.

Humans were rare so high up, as were most things that depended on their feet to get around. I walked because of my stubbornness, but most would fly around, ignoring the difficult terrain altogether. A stray bead of sweat formed on my temple and dripped down slowly as I cleared the last bit of the climb. I was just above a big entrance to a system of caves that connected with a lot of the interior of the mountain. Cliffs and sheer drops were the norm for the area and a stepping on a loose bit of rock could spell disaster if you couldn’t react in time.

And yet, it was in a place like that that the most important members of tengu society chose to make their homes. Nestled between rocks or between trees, dozens of homes housed our most illustrious and great peers. Each ancient home tended to have a commanding view of the mountain below, a permanent reminder that to rule you had to know what was going in your society. Unsurprisingly, unlike the messy structure of our little village below, territory and families were clearly delineated and assigned to their areas. It wouldn’t do to have an upstart clan next to the most venerable one, after all. And it was somewhere in that rigid space, whose rules weren’t clear to all but the most wizened of inhabitants, that I had grown up.

A few familiar faces milled about, all looking too self-important to even nod in greeting as I passed by. I was used to it but I couldn’t help but compare it to the more comradely ways below. Maybe I was getting too full of myself, but part of the reason I accepted Father’s judgment was to get away from the stiff formality and casual indifference for a while. So why come back? I really had no idea why I had bothered.

My home was about the same as always, a grand temple built to the egos of my ancestors. As I stood before the old wooden structure, I understood that the luxury within was both my birthright and my anchor. Even if I didn’t become whoever Father wished me to be, it would be unlikely that I’d be cast out. At least right away. I’d be forced to marry a relative and, through them, the family’s status would be preserved. I bet that Aya was more interested in the gossip and struggles of the ruling class than by me. It was only natural, I supposed.

I thought about going inside for a look around. But there was no point to that. Despite Mother’s fretting when I was younger, I resisted accumulating too much junk in my room; most of the possessions I had were able to fit in a knapsack I had taken when I left. A familiar ceiling and bed were the only real lure to go in and, as tempting as it was to take a nap in a familiar place was, I didn’t really feel like risking having to deal with running into the others.

Instead, I simply flew away. The afternoon was still pleasant and I closed my eyes as the wind caressed my body. I floated down lazily the side of the mountain, doing the bare minimum to stay aloft. It was soothing to simply look down at the world and let my thoughts run wild. Like, I wondered what was happening by the far shore of the lake, by that mansion with all the fairies in it. I’d never been. Likewise I’d never been to the emerald-green bamboo expanse that grew off from one side of the human village all the way to mountainous terrain far, far away. I knew that there was a lot happening inside the smoky vents that came out of the side of the mountain too. Sometimes kappa, sometimes other things hard at work on whatever it they did.

The sun felt good against my skin; I drifted down beyond the tengu, past the great waterfall. I wasn’t sure how long I spent just flying around aimlessly, letting the gusts of wind carry me back and forth across the mountain. A few crows passed me, flying back up to towards the top of the mountain, no doubt scouts for some overly-serious tengu. I thought to myself. But no, I watched them go towards that shrine instead of the tengu village. Whatever for? I looked back at where they had come from – a riverside clearing by the foot of the mountain. It was the kind of place that was popular with youkai looking to sunbathe and then cool themselves off with the waters from the stream.

[] Stop by the shrine.
[] Go to the stream.

Wish it was a break of my own choosing, heh.
No. 189873
[X] Go to the stream.

Might find some good company.
No. 189874
[x] Go to the stream.

Maybe we'll get to meet Nitori.
No. 189878
[x] Go to the stream.

Hopefully there'll be some sort of Kappa. I was sort of hoping to run into someone outside of the mountain
No. 189895
[X] Go to the stream

Tryna catch some water type 2hus.
No. 189899
[x] Stop by the shrine.

Water 2hus are nice and all, but faith 2hus are better
No. 189904
[X] Stop by the shrine.

Just been reading the Hina thing, so I'm interested to see how you portray her.
No. 189911
um... I double checked a couple of times here, but it was 6 to 5 in favor of help out Aya, why was teh other option the one that happened? if you are going to stick with it that's fine, just wanted to double check and in that case...
um, actually not sure which option I want to go with, I'll just see what happens
No. 189918

He only counts votes with a comment attached. The tally then would be 5-4.
No. 189923
[x] Stop by the shrine.

Maybe we can even go sit on one of those giant pillar things!
No. 189925
File 146666130013.jpg- (264.83KB , 627x885 , sleeping crow.jpg ) [iqdb]
See the opening post of this thread, right after the options. alternatively, >>189918 is the gist of it. If you want to make up your mind, you'll have at least a few hours yet. Since I'm way too tired to write right now.

Hopefully I'll manage to pick up the slack tomorrow at some point and start getting into gear.
No. 189928
[x] Stop by the shrine.

It's important that we establish good relations with our resident gods! definitely not for waifu reasons...
No. 189945
[X] Stop by the shrine.

See why the others are going.
No. 189948
Starting to write nowish, update hopefully won't take too long.
No. 189954
File 146673792918.jpg- (488.43KB , 855x1000 , a goddess.jpg ) [iqdb]
The shrine was high up in the mountain, higher still than where I used to live. I had never visited before. No reason to, really. Along with the rare human, a few of the local youkai were known to show up there from time to time. But I just couldn’t see the appeal. Gods were important and powerful, I understood that, but they really didn’t affect my day to day life. Certainly not like the tengu bosses did; the wrath of an angry great tengu certainly hurt a lot more people than a curse from a god in my experience. All of that said, our surely-perfect and wise leaders had opted to try to get along as well as they could with the gods of the mountain, so there might have been something more to it.

I wasn’t in a particular rush to pursue the crows, and opted to circle upwards leisurely from a distance. I’d already taken a bath and so I wasn’t too keen on working up a sweat. I watched as they disappeared somewhere around the top of the shrine, near the main building. I landed just beyond the final step up, looking around to see if maybe they had gone into the trees nearby. I smiled to myself, thinking that someone who didn’t understand just how capricious birds truly were might think that a group circling a shrine might be some sort of omen. They weren’t perched on the tall angled roof, nor brazenly on the very thick twisted rope that hung across the shrine’s entrance.

There was a peaceful quiet to the area. With most of Gensokyo far below, all there was to hear were the steady currents of wind rustling trees in the distance. I listened for the crows – if they had any business in the area, they would surely call out to one another soon enough. When no caws were forthcoming after a few minutes, I decided to be a little more proactive in my search. My feet made an impressive amount of noise on the flat stones that paved the way to the building. What would have normally been an inaudible step elsewhere was amplified to an unreasonable degree by the now-broken silence.

There was a donation box set up just below the rope. I wondered how much they got in a week. And how much I’d have to give to get a blessing if I wanted one.

“Anything you can spare will be more than enough,” someone seemed to guess at what I was thinking. A woman emerged from behind a coil of the thick rope that had been almost casually left to a side of the shrine. Due to her small frame and youthful appearance, including clothes that had frogs playing around depicted on them, I would have mistaken her for a mere girl. But there was an air about her of dignity and confidence that only came from a combination of power and maturity. She walked towards me with a reserved smile, hands casually clasped behind her back. She asked, “do you wish to perhaps buy a charm? We’ve got several of those too. Though I’d have to look in the back to see what we have in stock, I don’t really handle this stuff normally.”

“Sorry, I’m not really interested in blessings today,” I told her.

“Oh? How about a curse then? That ought to be easy enough to arrange...” she said with a wink, her smile shifting from cautiously polite to impish.

“No thank you, I’m quite happy with the amount of misfortune I’ve experienced lately,” I said. It wasn’t too much but it wasn’t too little. Enough to keep life interesting, certainly.

“Alright, so what brings you to the shrine today? I don’t believe I’ve seen you here before, somehow I doubt that you’re a neighbor that’s just to borrow a cup of rice,” she said, looking hard into my eyes, like they’d talk directly to her. With a slight, “hmm,” her light grey eyes looked away pensively. Her hands unclasped and she fidgeted with the wide brim of her hat; the golden flax color of the material nearly blended with her slightly lighter hair and so it at times it was hard to tell where the hat began and her head ended. I watched for a while, kind of curious to see what she would do next. “I’ve got it!” she smiled once again at me with a knowing look.

“I’m not quite sure what you’re imagining now...” I tried to preempt whatever it was she was about to say.

But, instead, she ignored me and then started to talk over me, “it’s hard to believe that she’s so popular already. I thought she’d do well with the humans in the village for certain but I see that her charms appeal to youkai too… I’m kind of proud but also worried about her if that’s the case… I mean you’re not half-bad in looks and maybe you’re her type… something tells me that that’s a possibility. But I’m not sure it’d be for the best if she seriously started dating around just yet.”

“Umm, who are you talking about?”

“Our young and pretty shrine maiden, Sanae,” she chuckled and winked again, “but you already knew that.”

“Sorry but I’ve never met her. Or seen her for that matter,” I explained. I’m sure that there was at least one youth among the tengu that fancied her, we were a diverse bunch. But I didn’t really gossip and chat with most of my peers, so even if she had a strong following I wouldn’t know about it.

“Hm, is that so?” she raised an eyebrow, looking like she didn’t believe me. “You wouldn’t lie to a goddess, would you? I might end up cursing you, after all...”

“It’s the truth,” I assured her. A goddess, huh? I didn’t know what I was expecting from the deities on up at the top of the mountain, but it sure wasn’t her. Surely goddesses were supposed to be less casual and more reserved. Though I couldn't really tell what she was thinking, she seemed like she might be easy enough to get along with.

“Alright, I won’t be rude and I’ll believe you for now,” she said, still looking suspicious of me. “So then, what does bring you up here? Sanae is out and if it’s not about her and not about getting a blessing...”

“I was following a bunch of crows up here,” I confessed. There was no reason to lie. “It’s strange that they’d come all the way up here instead of our village.”

“Crows you say?” she put a hand to her chin. Her hat bobbed as she tilted her head downwards slightly. “Maybe they came to see the other goddess here? She’s also not around at the moment, just left actually...”



We both were thinking the same thing, it seemed like, but didn’t say it out loud. Probably because neither of us seemed to really understand what the connection was. So jumping to conclusions was silly.

“Well, I’m sure it’s not important,” I finally said. It didn’t feel right to waste the time of a goddess with idle speculation. “Sorry for wasting your time.”

“Not at all,” she said with a shake of her head, returning to that initial polite reserved smile. “In fact, you’ve given me something to do while I wait for them to return.”

“I have?”

“Of course. It’s quite boring to be alone here. Someone to chat with and pass the time is something of a godsend,” her eyes lit up with some excitement.

“Ah, I see,” I nodded, feeling that I had gotten entangled in something unexpected. Though she looked harmless enough, affable even, something told me that she would be quick to remind me that misfortune had a way of finding people for no real reason at all if I told her I had better things to do. “Shall we sit somewhere and have some tea then?”

“That’s a lovely idea,” she nodded making her hat bob again, “I’m liking you more and more by the moment.” And with a laugh, she added, “but don’t think that good manners will get you a free blessing. You’ll still have to donate for that.”

“I wouldn’t presume to,” I half laughed and half sighed. I followed her into the shrine proper, towards what I assumed were the living areas. It looked just like your normal household, well lived-in and tidy. There were a few decorations and personal items scattered about, including a wall scroll depicting a frog jumping between rocks in a river, trying to avoid a snake. She opened a sliding door by the side of what was probably the dining room, revealing a small porch that looked out from the side of the shrine. Saying something about enjoying a nice view, she urged me to make myself comfortable while she made the tea. I sat on the tatami by the small table and looked out over Gensokyo.

No point in wondering what I had gotten myself into. I watched the sun begin to sink in the afternoon sky. There was still a while before it got dark. My new companion returned soon enough, bringing a small tray with two cups full of tea. She sat next to me, instead of on the opposite end of the table, and the impression was that she also wanted to stare out at the landscape. Were all goddesses that informal? A high-ranking tengu would never be so unguarded around someone they had just met.

“...you’re making a weird face,” she said to me, apparently having been staring at me for a while.

“Ah, sorry, I just don’t really know what to say,” I said, hoping that my expression hadn’t betrayed my thoughts. “It’s just my first time meeting a goddess and I’m not sure what we should be talking about.”

“Whatever you like, I’m a pretty normal person, you know.” she said, laughing like it was no big deal. Normal for a goddess, maybe. The whole needing faith thing but her in a different category than, say, a run-of-the-mill youkai. “I’d put forward a topic but I’m afraid that I sometimes forget what people other than those who live here think like. I don’t want to risk boring you. We’re getting to know one another, so maybe something a bit more personal? ”

It was hard to tell just exactly she was hoping for. Normal people would know what to talk about. But, hopefully there was no harm in just going for it and hoping for the best.

[] So, what is the day-to-day life of a goddess like?
[] Frogs… she has a thing for them by the look of things.
[] Why did she think I was Sanae’s type earlier?
No. 189957
[x] Frogs… she has a thing for them by the look of things.

It'd be interesting and I feel the Sanae thing could wait.
No. 189958
[X] So, what is the day-to-day life of a goddess like?

Likely consisting of 'bother Sanae' and 'bother Kanako'
No. 189959
[x] Frogs… she has a thing for them by the look of things.

more suwako pls
No. 189963
[X] So, what is the day-to-day life of a goddess like?

Time to chat with the (second) best goddess.
No. 189966
[x] Why did she think I was Sanae’s type earlier?

Time to find out what Sanae is like. I feel like Suwako should be most interested in this line of talk, anyway.
No. 189969
[X] So, what is the day-to-day life of a goddess like?

best goddess route go
No. 189970
[x] Why did she think I was Sanae’s type earlier?

My tengu senses are tingling, gossip ahoy.
No. 189973
[X] Why did she think I was Sanae’s type earlier?
plot hookin
No. 189974
[x] So, what is the day-to-day life of a goddess like?

The most interesting option, unquestionably.
No. 189975
[x] So, what is the day-to-day life of a goddess like?

hard to not choose the potential Sanae gossip, but day to day life is just too appealing
No. 189980
[X] Why did she think I was Sanae’s type earlier?

Face it guys; Suwako will never get a route. We might as well stay with a true and tested 2hu who we know will put out.
No. 189981
[x] So, what is the day-to-day life of a goddess like?
No. 189984

See the last paragraph in >>189261
No. 190027
[x] So, what is the day-to-day life of a goddess like?

You've never been able to ask a god questions before.
No. 190032
“The tea is lovely,” I commented. Despite the assurances she had given me, it wasn’t too easy for me to just start talking about whatever came to mind. There was a disparity in rank between us. One that I knew I didn’t fully understand. So instead of putting my foot in my mouth and risking offense, and unpleasant consequences, I opted for caution.

“It’s nothing special,” she said, looking at me with some impatience. Clearly she thought that modesty and timidity were virtues that were best shown with restraint. The unasked question behind her polite smile was, of course, “are you just going to waste my time?”

I didn’t expect to be cursed just then and there. But any more delay would be a risk. “Well, you’re the first goddess I’ve ever met...” I just blurted it out, “what exactly does a goddess do? I mean in the day-to-day.”

“Ah,” her smile sharpened, pleased that I had gotten on with it, “like I told you I’m pretty normal. What does anyone do on their average day?”

“Eat, sleep, possibly work and spend time with friends,” I said, sensing that her question wasn’t entirely rhetorical. It was a why of sounding out my thoughts as well. “Sometimes I get to meet new people and learn new things.”

“Well then,” she nodded and took a sip of tea before continuing, “a goddess does all those things too. Most of my days are quiet and without much excitement. Sometimes someone like you will show up and I’ll talk to them. But most of the time the others interact with any arrivals to the shrine.”

“Isn’t it a little boring?” I asked. It was at least for me. “Day in and day out, the same faces, the same places. And then people expect things from you even though you’d rather be doing something else.”

“The faithful deserve some recompense,” she observed, “a blessing or a small miracle from time to time isn’t too much of a hassle.”

“...” I checked myself before I said something too stupid. Learning about her was more important. “What exactly counts as a ‘small miracle’?”

“Positive things that might have well have happened,” she answered, “it’s a small nudge from maybe to probable. Like, bumping into a girl you fancy on the street, finally getting that opportunity to ask her out.”

“I’m sure most people would prefer more rain for their crops and the like,” I said, “but I think I understand. Hard to prove that it’s a goddess that’s helped you out, however.”

“Flashy miracles are only to be used sparingly,” she said like it was common knowledge, “hope is what matters more when it comes to faith. I can’t answer every prayer but I try to do just enough.”

“I’m not convinced it’s a good system,” I said and then quickly added with a smile, “I say that with all due respect, of course.”

“Of course,” she smiled back. If she was annoyed, she was doing a good job of hiding it.

Off in the distance, a crow cawed. Moments later, another caw sounded in response. I finished my cup of tea while thinking of how to follow up, trying to push out all other thoughts. The sun was closer to sinking off in the horizon. Already the edges of the sky were tinged with red and purple.

“Why not just help as much as you can and get dedicated followers?” I asked.

“Because it’s only natural for people to get complacent after a while,” she put down her cup and flicked one of the longer strands of hair that came down to her chest. “If you do too much, people forgot how to solve their own problems and, worse yet, they start blaming you for everything that goes wrong.” With a giggle, she placed a hand onto my shoulder before leaning in and finally sliding it down next to mine on the ground, “then again, that’s the kind of thing you already should know, isn’t it?”

“Sorry, I don’t follow,” I said, trying to figure out what exactly she meant while not showing too much of a reaction. A goddess’ hand was soft to the touch, that was about all that I figured I knew at that moment.

With her breath gently tickling my ear, she clarified, “we’re not so unlike. I am a goddess and someone accustomed to dealing with the demands of those without power. It’s a burden that you would know well as a ruler.”

“A ruler? What makes you say that?” I turned my head to face her. And I dragged myself to the side, creating more space between us. She had been almost close enough to kiss me if she had wanted.

“A would-be one, perhaps,” she seemed adamant in her assessment, slinking back and nodding with her arms folded across her chest. For am moment I thought she was going to get up and offer more tea, as she grabbed both cups and placed them back on the tray. She decided against it, instead elaborating further, “too young right now, likely.”

“I suppose that a goddess would know about that sort of thing.” Anything with divine powers was liable to know more than the average person. Made sense.

Sensing my premature conclusion, she shook her head, as if to tell me that my thoughts were wrong. “The way you carry about,” she said, “your posture, your walk, the intelligent eyes and the clear internal filtering before you speak. From the moment I saw you arrive at the shrine, I knew you must have been from one of the ruling clans.”

“I suppose I should consider myself lucky, being flattered by a goddess,” I said, with a chuckle. More than ever, I wasn’t sure just exactly what it was she wanted from me.

“Trust me, I’m not offering any compliments yet,” she said. “All I’ve said that you are an archetype. There are other types of rulers too and you actions are more important than your outlook.”

“My outlook isn’t very good,” I told her, trying not to make the conversation too much about me again, “I’m not sure I’ll ever get there and, for the moment, I’m an absolute nobody.”

“A nobody who is keeping a goddess company,” she smiled, stuck out her tongue playfully, and sprang up to her feet.

Without saying anything else, she left with the tray. I watched the sky become increasingly streaked with orange and reds as the sun got closer to the horizon. I still didn’t know what she wanted from me. Maybe the life of a goddess was as dull as she made it out to be and she was just playing with me. It shouldn’t surprise me that she could guess about my background, I supposed. Goddesses tended to be around for hundreds, if not thousands of years. Figuring out people wouldn’t be too hard after all that time.

When she came back, she brought back a few rice crackers as snacks along with more tea. “You know,” she said, once again sitting down next to me, “I don’t believe that I’ve asked for your name yet.”

“I haven’t asked for yours either,” I said, “I was worried that a goddess like you might take offense and curse me.”

“Moriya, as in the name of this shrine,” she said, “and Suwako as is in… well, doesn’t really matter anymore. Call me whatever you please, these days I’m finding that I’ve outgrown formality in most situations.”

I nodded, “Tokushige is my illustrious forebearer’s name and Hidetsugu is my given name. But please don’t call me that, I don’t really like my name much.”

“Hide is no good?” she asked. “Cute little Hide sounds good to me.”

I was being teased by a goddess. One that looked like a young girl, but a goddess nonetheless. The temptation to be casual and annoy her back was great. But she wasn’t Aya. And it’d be more than my feelings that’d risk getting hurt if I upset her.

I shrugged, taking a bite from a rice cracker to think for a moment.

[] Hide is fine
[]<Some other nickname goes here>


[] Be bolder and ask about the real reason she wanted to talk.
[] Get proactive in countering her teasing.
[] Let her direct the conversation for a while.

One from each.

Not going with strict majority for the nickname. A combination of what I like with what people seem to like is what I'll likely choose.
No. 190033
[X] Hide is fine
[X] Get proactive in countering her teasing.

I wonder what kind of leader our protagonist would be.
No. 190035
[X] Hide is fine
[X] Let her direct the conversation for a while.

No need to get serious too quickly.
No. 190036
[X] Hide is fine
[X] Get proactive in countering her teasing.

Can't come up with any decent nicknames, but you know you gotta flirt with that goddess
No. 190044
[X] Hide is fine

Yeah...I really can't into Asian names.

[X] proactively counter her teasing.

I mean like, MC would have to say some pretty fucked up shit for Lolifrog to be like "OK It's curse time motherfucker". We got lots of wiggle room here
No. 190045
[X] Hide is fine
[X] Get proactive in countering her teasing.

Well, she seems like she wants to pass the time more than anything, and being too formal will not help at all.
No. 190047
[X] Hide is fine
[X] Get proactive in countering her teasing.

I find it difficult that Suwako would curse us if we teased her. She might even enjoy someone being this friendly with her.
No. 190048
[X] Hide is fine
[X] proactively counter her teasing.

I was always one for teasing so yup, do the teasing and don't stop.
No. 190049
[X] Hide is fine
[X] Get proactive in countering her teasing.

Let's do the opposite of getting serious.
No. 190052
[x] Tsushi

Stupid as fuck, but I lack imagination. What I do have is hunger for raw salmon.

[x] Be bolder and ask...

I didn't know she had an ulterior motive... It certainly didn't seem that way: a goddess hanging around her own shrine is common and tsu-shi did go to the shrine on a whim. And, again, boredom is a perfectly good reason for talking.

But an option like this implies that he is sure that there is. And now I want to know just what it is.
If I had to guess, and it is a wild guess, she didn't. As in, she didn't guess whom he was and wanted to talk to him in order to, hopefully, inspire a change in the ways of the Tengu
No. 190053
[X] Hide is fine
[X] Get proactive in countering her teasing.
No. 190056

Post something story related with your vote or it won't count.
No. 190057
[X] Hide is fine
[X] Be bolder and ask about the real reason she wanted to talk.

My vote is pissing in the wind, but I want to see the character begin to mature and gain some confidence.
No. 190058
[x] Tsushi
I'm a fan. Better than Hide for sure.

[x] Get proactive in countering her teasing.
And no use in boring her.
No. 190067
Will write and update 'soon' as my schedule hopefully clears up. Still not sure about the nickname. The one suggestion just doesn't do it for me even though I fucking love puns and play and words, sorry. I'll keep thinking about it and I'm open to suggestions too for a while longer. Doesn't really have to be Japanese either, seeing as "Arc" was definitely not Japanese and he was a human villager in his respective stories.
No. 190078
[X] Hyde
[X] Be bolder and ask about the real reason she wanted to talk.

just going with my gut in all honesty.
No. 190082
As for nicknames... I was thinking of
[x] "Kanpaku"

Considering he doesn't like his name (Hidetsugu) I looked for famous people like that and, lo and behold, Hideyoshi had a nephew of that name; whom, after his heir died before taking the throne, became Kampaku in its place (basically first minister for feudal Japan: chief advisor of Emperors... Is this where Youmu's surname came from?)

So, not only it is a nod to the name he hates, it is also a subtle indication that he will never be more than an advisor to the people actually in charge. The fact that the historical person liked little boys is just more salt in the wound.

In unrelated news, those two where the only retainers who didn't belong to the Fujiwara clan. Oh and he, despite his preferences, had a daughter named Okiku.

If it is too long, "Sekkan" was the name given to retainers in general and "Sessho" was the version of "Kanpaku" that, instead of assisting adult emperors, assisted young ones until they became adults. I guess if Tenma died today, Aya could become his. Could you imagine her as leader of the Tengu? I could, easily.

Or you could make it shorter, like "Kanpa" which sounds like Kappa now that I think about it. Maybe he has a preference for shy swimmers?
No. 190087

I think you guys' respective literary and historical allusions might be lost on the characters. Living in a pocket dimension probably tends to curb one's education.

Besides that though, I'm not opposed to using them since they are more imaginative than my copy-pasted vote.
No. 190088
Hidetsugi died 300 years before the border was erected.
No. 190094
“You know, I don’t think I care that much after all,” I said after a pause. Probably was close enough to the truth. Whatever a goddess wanted to call me was fine. I decided. That said, she was staring at me. Staring close, like she expected something from me with upturned eyes. It would be wise not to confuse that for innocence or even a coquettish streak, I thought. There was something to her that kept me off-balance and, though it didn’t necessarily seem like there were any bad intentions behind her actions, it still made me feel uneasy.

“Real rough around the edges,” she said, shaking her head. “How do you expect to inspire people when you’re doing your best to sabotage yourself? Be more charming, I dare you!”

“So this is a divine intervention of sorts?” I joked, “I can’t help being who I am. Bless me if you want, if you think that’ll help.”

“Detachment is for hermits and cynicism is the easy way out,” she said, flicking my forehead with her index finger. “Life is always surprising, no matter if you’ve been around for ten or ten thousand years. If you try your best, you’ll seldom have regrets.”

“You’re pretty nosy for a goddess,” I said, rolling my eyes, “if someone else was watching us, I think they’d mistake you for a bossy sister torturing her brother.”

She smirked, paused and looked like she was going to say something. But instead she flicked me again on the forehead. Harder. It actually stung a little. She frowned and began to mouth something. But she sighed, and changed face immediately and smirked again, saying, “I can work with being family. There’s nothing wrong with being a hardworking, pretty cute sister who is trying to motivate her helpless brother to make something of himself.”

There certainly was nothing wrong with her ego. Commenting about her liberal use of positive adjectives was a waste of time. So I instead I took another sip of tea and stared out at the developing sunset. The few clouds in the sky shimmered with light as the sun moved past them and long purple shadows covered some areas below. “It’d be strange to have a goddess as a sister,” I said at long last, “how would that even work?”

“Could be a half sister. Gods have been known to have semi-divine offspring. Or by marriage,” she answered, like it was really what I was getting at. I understood the logistics, it was the day-to-day that was more worrisome. Indulging herself, she tried to sell the scenario harder, “it’d be useful to have someone in the family to perform miracles when needed, don’t you think?”

‘I think it’s a miracle we’re even having this conversation,” I shook my head and smiled at her, “come on, sis, let’s stop wasting our time talking about stupid things.”

“Why should we? We’re keeping each other company, everything ought to be fair game,” she replied with a shrug. Taking her cup to her lips, she sipped more tea and stared out at the sunset. “Funny at how quickly time flies, isn’t it?” she said quietly.

“Y’know, Suwako...” I began and then paused. Maybe using her given name wasn’t too smart. “Or is it Lady Moriya?”

“We’re just two people talking, no need for formalities, esteemed Tokushige,” she said with a giggle. “Maybe if there were others around, some decorum would be necessary, but so long as I feel that you’re coming from a good place, I don’t mind what you call me.”

“Well then,” I nodded, going along with it for the moment.

Before I could finish my thought, however, our conversation was cut short. A pair of new arrivals entered the room. One was unmistakably another goddess – tall and with a dignified smile, she wore a long dark skirt and red top over a white blouse that was tied off in places with miniaturized versions of the rope that hung in front of the shrine. The other was a girl who looked to be roughly my age, perhaps a little younger, wearing what was probably a priestess’ outfit. The priestess was holding a mid-sized bag up against her chest.

“Oh, hello guys,” Suwako greeted them casually, barely bothering to turn around, “I’ve made tea if you would like some.”

“Hm, is that so?” the tall woman asked, looking at me with her arms folded in front of her chest. Pretty obvious that she wanted to know who I was. But I felt that maybe just addressing her directly might be rude.

“I’ll go get more cups,” the priestess said with a smile, not noticing or not caring about the sudden tension in the room.

“So...” the woman walked towards us with suspicion in her eye, “who is this tengu?”

“Be a little nicer, Kanako,” Suwako chided while showing no signs of responding to the other woman’s pressure otherwise. “It’s not like we have interesting guests every day.”

“What’s so interesting about him?” Kanako asked, clearly not caring if she was being rude to me.

“For one, he’s an excellent lover,” Suwako replied.


That one hung heavy in the air like an unpleasant smell for a few excruciating seconds before Suwako laughed. “I’m joking, just joking, you really ought to learn to be less uptight, you know.”

Kanako bit her lip and shook her head. But, somehow, the heavy presence I felt earlier had lost some of its oppressive edge. She looked down at me and addressed me directly, a little stiffly but not harshly, “so what brings you to the shrine? For all her frivolity, it is rare that this one here asks someone in.”

I introduced myself quickly, as was proper. Kanako nodded, apparently appreciating the proper deference. “I was simply curious as to why crows would come all the way up here,” I explained succinctly, “I’ve spend a lovely time just chatting and drinking tea.”

“Oh yes,” Kanako said, “crows do come here from time to time, it’s not so unusual. Some of your fellow tengu do at times as well. We have a positive relationship with your community.”

“So I’ve heard,” I said.

The priestess returned, bringing with her a pair of cups and a kettle. She just went ahead and sat next to Suwako and poured out tea. “I’m Sanae,” she introduced herself with an earnest smile, “I’m the resident shrine maiden and I help out Lady Suwako and Lady Kanako however I can.”

“Pleased to meet you,” I introduced myself.

Kanako sighed and unceremoniously sat down next to me and was handed a cup by Sanae. “I’m the main goddess of this shrine,” she introduced herself, “no doubt you’ve heard talk of the great Kanako even in your village.”

“No doubt,” I stated, taking a sip of my lukewarm tea. It wouldn’t do me much good to tell her just how little I knew about the shrine or, in fact, cared about it.

“Will you be taking supper with us, Mr. Tokushige?” Sanae asked, “I ought to get started in the kitchen soon.”

“Ah, no, thank you very much for the offer, but I ought to get going,” I answered, feeling a little put on the spot. Abusing the hospitality of a pair of goddesses was likely a risky proposition. “And, no need to call me mister anything. Lady Suwako has been addressing me with my given name and a few other nicknames and I’m fine with that level of informality.”

“Maybe you’ll stay if we bring out the sake?” Kanako cut in. With a roaring laugh, she added, “you tengu are supposed to be good at holding your drink. And I like a good challenge.”

“Thanks kindly but...”

“Oh leave the poor lad alone,” Suwako frowned, “no need to badger him too much. He’s put off by your indelicate touch.”

“You just don’t want me to find out why you were spending time with him,” Kanako rolled her eyes. “And don’t give me any more of that incredible lover nonsense.

“You’re just jealous...” the blonde goddess retorted.

“Lover?” Sanae scrunched her brow in confusion, not following the conversation in the slightest.

I cleared my throat, still hoping to make a graceful exit before things got too out of hand. “It’s been a great honor to meet you all but, truly, I should take my leave.”

“Alright,” Kanako grumbled, “I won’t keep you.”

“I’ll see you around,” Suwako winked at me.

Sanae offered to walk me out. Which was completely unnecessary. I could just walk out to the porch and then fly. It was a transparent ploy. One that the other two ignored as they went back and forth about this and that with some intensity. I was escorted to the front steps of the shrine. The sun had been entirely swallowed up by the horizon, the last dying streaks of light quickly fading. The new moon sat quietly in the sky, occasionally peering through the clouds.

“I take it you wanted to talk to me in private?” I asked. She had been staring at me without saying anything. Her sense of fashion was strange: a coiled snake and a stylized frog clip were both in her hair. In truth, thinking about it, they were no crazier than the ropes or weird eye-like things the goddesses were wearing.

“Yes, I did,” she said softly, “Lady Suwako is unlikely to say the truth but Lady Kanako is right, it’s rare for her to talk to anyone from outside the shrine. It can’t be coincidence that you appeared after we left either… so maybe…”

“Maybe what?” I asked, “like I said earlier, I only came here because of idle fancy.”

“If you say so...” she looked down at her feet, “I suppose that your kind of youkai like hiding the truth as much as possible.”

I couldn’t believe it. She actually went with that stereotype. Not cool. Was I to believe everything I’d heard about shrine maidens too? Getting judged up so quickly was unfair. Maybe it was all the ribbing earlier with Suwako, but I didn’t want to just let it go.

“Okay, fine, I’ll tell you the truth,” I said, bringing my words to a whisper. I signaled her to come close. It was time to mess with her a little. She leaned in, looking like she was buying the act.

[] It was an arranged marriage interview for her, obviously.
[] Suwako wanted to get a new priest just for herself.
[] Whatever it is, it’s none of her business!

Yeah, I avoided all direct links to the established clans because reasons. Took a while to figure out a good name, incidentally. Not least because of my not-so-great japanese skills and not wanting to be too on the nose about certain things.

Might do something with the role/title as the nickname, that's not a bad idea. Punting it further along until I think about it some more.

Also I have a lot of things to say about shy kappa in swimsuits but it may be too improper for my pure, innocent readers. At least at this point in time.
No. 190096
[X] Suwako wanted to get a new priest just for herself.

Lewd implications.
No. 190098
[X] It was an arranged marriage interview for her, obviously.

I feel like this is the trolliest answer towards Sanae, which therefore feels like the answer Suwako would want him to give
No. 190099
[X] It was an arranged marriage interview for her, obviously.

Clearly this is what happened.
No. 190100
[] It was an arranged marriage interview for her, obviously.

whelp, Aya's going to have a fun time with this option...
No. 190101
[X] It was an arranged marriage interview for her, obviously.

Definitely trolling here.
No. 190102
[x] Suwako wanted to get a new priest just for herself.

Very interesting, Suwako's reaction to the sister comment that is.
No. 190106
[X] It was an arranged marriage interview for her, obviously.
Looks fun
No. 190110
[X] Suwako wanted to get a new priest just for herself.

Sanae probably won't believe us about marriage, but this seems reasonable.
No. 190111
[X] Lady Moriya wanted to get a priest just for herself.

Let's not reveal our hand too early. Also, all we need now is a rival Loli imouto and the ancient prophecy will be fulfilled.
No. 190112
[X] Lady Moriya wanted to get a priest just for herself.

wasnt it originally a part of japan before yukari decided to go full isolationist though
No. 190113
[x] It was an arranged marriage interview for her, obviously

The priest comment could be construed as an insult on Sanae. Also: maximum troll.

Indeed. It seems like Hide almost got cursed, then Suwako decided not to punish him for something he couldn't have known.
No. 190115
[X] Whatever it is, it’s none of her business!

Someone had to.
No. 190117

>could be construed as an insult on Sanae

As well it should. If Hide knew so little about his resident Goddesses, that means she's doing a piss poor job as a shrine maiden.
No. 190118
[X] Suwako wanted to get a new priest just for herself.
No. 190119
[x] It was an arranged marriage interview for her, obviously
-[x] I'm looking forward to spending time with you, Sanae.

A marriage between a high noble of the Tengu and a living God can only do wonders for both parties. After all, she doesn't get her powers for being a shrine maiden, but for her status as a God of wind.

It is a pity she still has prejudice for our kind, but we'll have time to fix those misconceptions when we start working into consummating the union.
No. 190120

I dunno about that. Most societies separate church and state for a reason.
No. 190121
File 146722841669.png- (556.60KB , 1440x900 , beer and chill.png ) [iqdb]
Actually writing now, hopefully won't take too long.
No. 190122

Waiting warmly
No. 190126
File 146723964054.jpg- (167.92KB , 482x800 , of aprons and crows.jpg ) [iqdb]
“Lady Suwako is worried about your future,” I told her. It didn’t seem like too much of a stretch to imagine that was true generally. Living together like that, even an ageless goddess would start to think of anyone younger as their son or daughter. I was sure that I hit the mark – Sanae didn’t violently reject the premise and showed hungry expectation in her yes. So, I continued, “a young shrine maiden all by herself, it must be tough. Anyone can see that. A lot of burdens and not much time to dedicate to oneself.”

“She shouldn’t worry, I manage just fine,” Sanae said quietly. Clearly she wanted to know where I fit in but held back, hoping I’d just explain more.

“Be that as it may,” I said, “you’re in the prime of your life, and you should have help. Or at the very least, good company. That’s why we were talking about your future. Together.”

“Eh?! But I don’t see how you could have anything relevant to say.” she blurted out, quite rudely I thought. Or maybe she was just naive enough to be so blunt. Either way, it didn’t endear her to me.

“On the contrary,” I shook my head, hiding my feelings. The news had to be delivered calmly, without a trace of scorn or humor for it to be believable. “I was interviewed by Lady Suwako to see how suitable I was as a candidate.”

It didn’t seem she follewd what I was getting at. “Candidate for what?” she asked, clear confusion in her eyes.

“Marriage, of course,” I dropped the bombshell like it was nothing, “if all goes well, we’ll be betrothed soon enough.”

“I see,” she smiled with a nod. But soon the meaning of my words sunk in; she showed a quick succession of feelings including confusion, shock and worry on her face. “This is the first I hear of it!” she blurted out, like that was somehow important to the premise.

“Obviously,” I said. “Meeting a candidate before he was screened properly would be a waste of time. I’m happy to say that I think I’ve made a good impression with Lady Suwako, so I’ll be looking forward to spending a lot more time with you in the future.”

“Eh, but you’re a youkai!” she quipped dumbly, like that had anything to do with anything.

“I’m still a man,” I kept my cool, “and I’m somewhat important among the tengu. Or I will be. Makes sense to have a close partnership with our local shrine. History is full of strategic marriages.”

She frowned, “it’s all too premature.”

“Why would it be?” I played my part as well as I could, “you’re an attractive young lady and you can’t continue to be unattached forever. I’m sure that you’ve got many suitors and adore being the center of attention, but you also have a duty to your goddesses. Mainly in ensuring that there’ll be future shrine maidens and priests at the shrine.”

“I… suppose that I never thought about it that way,” she still looked worried but was beginning to see the logic in my argument. Just the edge that I needed.

Naturally, I doubled down, “I have to say, I was a bit reluctant at first, but meeting you, I see that my fears were unwarranted.”

“Eh, what do you mean?” she seemed to be off-balance, reacting to the last bit that I said instead of the overall absurdity of the situation.

“I mean that you’re my type,” I smiled, “a cute smile, a pure heart and a modest attitude. In short, the real goddess of the shrine.”

“I don’t know what to say to that,” she looked conflicted, half-embarrassed and half-unsure of herself. Truth was, she wasn’t bad looking at all. Putting aside her odd sense of fashion, she had plenty of good features. Hidden by her long, somewhat flowing clothes, were what I was sure were a shapely pair of legs as well as a plump bust. And I was only half-teasing about her smile. There was a girlish quality to her features that was a little unrefined but certainly alluring. Was she easy on the eyes? Definitely.

“It’s fine,” I said, “I know it’s rather presumptuous of me, but I hope you’ll favor me with a sweet smile so I savor it until we next meet.”

“I can’t imagine myself being with a youkai,” she said with a sigh. “I’m sorry, I’m sure you’re great, but this is all just a misunderstanding.”

“With time, I’m sure you’ll come around,” I told her, choosing to present myself as confident and optimistic. “It’s a bit silly to expect love at first sight, I’m sure you’ll agree. But love is something that grows between two people who open their hearts to one another. So I’m sure that when we get to know each other, we’ll be happy.”

“We’ll see...” she said, her face still troubled.

“Goodnight, Sanae,” I smiled at her, hoping it made a good impression on her. I thought about a kiss on the cheek or on her hand, but maybe that was going too far. I wasn’t confident I could keep a straight face. My desire for revenge had been satisfied.

“Yes.. goodnight,” she said, waving lazily with her hand, clearly lost in thought. I was sure that she’d talk to Suwako about it and then get upset over my lie. I just hoped that it didn’t make her angry enough to come chase me down and exterminate me. It’d be bad politics but a woman scorned was dangerous.

I left the shrine with a self-congratulatory smirk on my face. That made up for sacrificing most of my afternoon to the whims of a goddess. Maybe I’d get cursed later but, at least for the moment, it felt like it was worth it. It would be great if Suwako played along or acted dumb. Looking down on youkai was unforgivable, we had feelings and desires too.

There was nowhere to go except home. Aya’s home. No one else would be expecting me and I didn’t really have the money to be spending frivolously on entertainment. Flying back to the village was pretty quick. The crowds that were present in the daytime had dissipated and the only people in the streets were hard-working tengu looking to socialize and unwind after a long day. I spotted another pack of wolves walking together, chatting happily to one another. Once per day was more than enough. I made a quick stop before flying back.

I found Aya in the middle of the printing process. She was wearing an apron to keep the ink of her clothes. The problem was that she had also loosened her blouse and taken her skirt off completely, leaving her indecently exposed from the back.

“Modesty is unimportant while working, I see,” I greeted her as I came in. With all those wheels, lever and flowing paper, she had to be mindful every step of the way.

“It’s more comfortable when you have to move around quickly,” she answered, scarcely looking up from her work. “Besides, I’m sure you’re loving the fact that you can see my panties.”

“Oh grow up,” I said, coming closer to see what she was doing exactly. Aligning paper by the looks of it. “They’re black and plain and a female is wearing them. Am I supposed to be losing my mind or something?”

“You should when the woman you love is wearing them,” she said, adding a bit of levity to the conversation. “Now come on and give me a hand here, you can ravage me from behind later.”

With a shrug, I helped her out. There wasn’t much work left to be done and we finished up quickly. Clearly she had been at it all afternoon. The smell of fresh ink made my head swim some.

“I brought a little something,” I told her after the last batch was done, “a little sake for us to enjoy tonight.”

“How thoughtful,” she nodded with a smile, untying the apron. She let it drop to her feet, exposing her front as well. Her lower blouse buttons were undone and her bellybutton was showing. “Don’t stare so much, pervert,” she teased.

“I’ve seen much more just today,” I reminded her, “stop thinking so highly of yourself. Should I make dinner this time around?”

“Hm, no, let me, you got the drinks after all.”

Aya put her skirt back on but didn’t bother to fix her blouse. She put on a different apron on, a lighter, more whimsical, one that had a drawing of a crow and a heart on the front. Tucked away in a corner away from all the printing material and equipment was a small stove and cooking supplies. She lit a fire and began to look at what she had on hand.

We worked together. Aya didn’t resist my offer to help out. I chopped up while she handled the actual cooking. Things got done fast; I hadn’t realized how hungry I was until I ate the first mouthful of rice. I asked her about her new edition – she said that it was just the usual stuff. I told her about my afternoon – it seemed like she was impressed that I had spent so much time with Suwako.

“Those two at the shrine are always scheming something,” she said, like it was common knowledge. “I’d tell you to stay away, but maybe sticking close to them you can get a really good scoop. It’d be nice if you contributed something to my paper.”

“Not really a writer,” I said, reaching for the sake bottle. I poured some more for the both of us. We’d worked our way through about a fourth of the bottle. But the night was still really young. There was a good breeze coming in through the window, blowing away unfortunate combination of food and ink.

Aya didn’t force the topic any more, instead she happily gulped down more of the sake. She could be pretty cute when she wasn’t being so forceful. Or maybe that was just the alcohol talking. If I wasn’t careful, I’d be liable to start feeling hot in the face.

“Looks like you’ve got a burning question on your mind,” she remarked astutely. I clicked my tongue. Sharp as always, with or without that little notebook of hers.

Ah, what the hell. The atmosphere was good. I made up my mind to bring up something foolish and very honest.

[] Did she think that it was worth the bother to become a leader?
[] I was curious to know what her type was like.
[] Confess to teasing Sanae and ask for any advice on dealing with the people from the shrine.
No. 190127
[X] Did she think that it was worth the bother to become a leader?

I didn't expect him to take the troll so far.
No. 190128
With any luck, Suwako will find it funny and won't expose the lie. Then we can roll with it for as long as it's amusing. Could even lead to something, who knows?

[x] I was curious to know what her type was like.
I don't really care about Aya's preferences, but the banter and tone are good, so whatever.
No. 190130
[x] Confess to teasing Sanae and ask for any advice on dealing with the people from the shrine.

Bring up something foolish and honest sounds like this.
No. 190132
[x] I was curious to know what her type was like.

maybe he can tease aya into being less teasing herself
No. 190134
[X] Confess to teasing Sanae and ask for any advice on dealing with the people from the shrine
No. 190136
[x] I was curious to know what her type was like.

I enjoy the banter that goes on between him and Aya. This might lead to a nice back and forth talking about this
No. 190138
[x] I was curious to know what her type was like.

I wonder if she'll answer seriously.
No. 190140
[x] Confess to teasing Sanae and ask for any advice on dealing with the people from the shrine.

I don't think Sanae is girlfriend material, but maybe she could use a friend to get rid of that prejudices she has. As for Aya... I see her as a mentor more than anything, but I wouldn't say no.

Also, I thought he was basically Arc as a Tengu but this guy is more cynic and egotistical and a better actor. The way she tricked Sanae with a straight face right to the end was nice.
No. 190141
[X] Did she think that it was worth the bother to become a leader?

Time for character development.
No. 190142
[x] I was curious to know what her type was like.
I'm curious.
No. 190143
[X] Did she think that it was worth the bother to become a leader?

I actually want to know what Aya thinks about it.
No. 190144
[X] Did she think that it was worth the bother to become a leader?

I hope we didn't accidentally lock in on a Sanae route. Though Hide's sheer apathy to such sights is something, dunno what yet.
No. 190145
Alright, calling it because I'm still around and I think that's most of the votes I get.
No. 190146
>Sanae route

That'd be great. But, from what we have seen, it's hard mode.
No. 190148
File 146727080052.jpg- (91.85KB , 450x437 , crow didly.jpg ) [iqdb]
“You’re still staring,” Aya said, eyebrow raised. She slumped a little in her chair, as if she had suddenly become tired. The message was clear: quit stalling.

I stopped delaying and just spat out my question,”I wanted to know about your preferences. What you look for in a guy.”

“Hm, isn’t that a little presumptuous?” she sighed, letting her shoulders go slack, “I mean, what if I’m into girls? Or into both guys and girls?”

“Fine,” I rephrased the question, “partner then. Of the romantic kind. Better?”

She laughed and sat up straight again. I half expected her to tease me outright. But, instead, she took another drink and gave a somewhat vague but serious answer, “I honestly don’t think about that sort of thing too much. To me people are either interesting or not interesting.”

“What makes someone interesting?” I asked.

“It’s one of those things that you just know when you see it. It doesn’t have to be because of what they do. It’s a mindset and context. In a way, I guess I like all the people that I’ve interviewed for articles. They’re all interesting.”

“Eh, I’m not too satisfied with that answer,” I told her. It was too wishy-washy. Didn’t really separate romantic feelings from intellectual curiosity.

“Why’s that?” she smiled, urging me to pour more out to drink. “Is it that you actually fancy me and are trying to figure out a way into my heart? Or is it what’s in my panties that you’re interested in?”

“I was just curious,” I said, ignoring the bait. That was a setup that I was comfortable ignoring. I poured more sake for the both of us. We were quickly working our way through the bottle. It didn’t feel like I was losing control of my functions yet, but things seemed more fluid and my thoughts were a little less organized. She was such a tease, even when she was being serious. Even though I’d never admit it out loud, it was charming to have her constantly pushing me to be on my back foot.

“I bet you’re wondering if maybe you’re not a bit of a masochist of asking,” Aya guessed, coming somewhat close to the mark. It was really, really, exciting to have someone challenge me like that. Everyone else in my life treated me according to my background or with the usual sociable politeness. Even if Aya said something that was obviously a load of crap, I knew that she was saying it for a good reason.

Or if not a good reason, at least a fun reason.

“Maybe I do fancy you,” I decided to throw caution to the wind and just go with whatever felt right. I finished off my sake in a single gulp. I couldn’t really taste the sweetness anymore, it just felt reassuring when it got down to my belly. I chuckled, “who knows what truths may come out when someone has so much liquid courage in them.”

“Who knows indeed?” Aya nodded in agreement, also finishing off her drink. She motioned for more. I was all too happy to oblige.

“So, you going to throw me a bone or what?”

“Honestly, it’s not something I really think about,” she said with a shrug. It didn’t convince me at all. “Don’t give me that look,” she laughed, “you look like a sad puppy.”

“I know I’m cute, no need to remind me,” I said. That was the best retort I could think up on the spot. I had to check myself so that I didn’t just blurt out the first thing that came to mind.

“With all this drink you’re plying me with, maybe I’ll end up saying or doing something foolish,” she said, winking at me.

“Oh, quit teasing me so much, I’m not impressed.”

“Fine, fine,” after drinking some more, she put down her cup and crossed her arms, adding, “I suppose I can give the question some more thought.”

“Hooray, my prayers have been answered,” I intoned with some sarcasm. Then again, maybe that was a little unnecessary. She wouldn’t get the whole being cursed thing I had been grappling with in the afternoon.

“What would someone I was attracted to be like?” she bit her lower lip as she thought about the question. I drank small sips of sake, doing anything to not to show her how I’d worked myself up to hear the reply. “Hmm,” she started to voice thoughts out loud, “they would have to be understanding, have a good sense of humor and good at dealing with the unexpected. Being tall wouldn’t hurt. Someone I could trust and who trusted me. I think someone who was interested in working as a team is my type.”

“That’s a bit better, but still kind of vague,” I told her.

“Heh, well, you’ll get a kick out of the logical conclusion: you’re pretty much my type if you think about it.”

“I don’t see it,” I said.

“Well, it’s a bit more complicated than that, I’ll admit,” she said, closing her eyes. Her nose twitched as she walked me through a fantasy scenario, “if I was your wife, I’d be pretty much set for life. Not only would I never need to worry about money again but I’d have a lot of political clout and be able to run any kind of story I wanted and I’d have a very strong footing when interviewing reclusive people.”

“That’s just a good case for your business, that has little to do with my personality or looks,” I said, somehow picturing her flaunting her status by looking smugly down at Hatate. It was a somewhat amusing scene. But I realized that my mind was wandering. I sharpened my focus, stating, “your ambitions aren’t really related to what you’re looking for in a partner.”

“Aren’t they?” she asked, opening her eyes. “I want someone who’d be supportive of that. Who’d help me fulfill my dreams. And, of course, I’d be doing the same for him.”

Him? What happened to you being into girls?” I asked a smart ass question.

“That was before I became addicted to your love-making skills,” she answered with a giggle. Over half of the sake bottle was gone. Aya poured some more out. I was beginning to get comfortably numb, feeling a nice contrast between my internal warmth and the cool breeze from outside.

“Still though, I guess that’s the best answer I’ll get,” I conceded. “I was kinda hoping you’d say something simple like, ‘I’m into guys with beards that read poetry’ or whatever.”

“Maybe I’m into guys who I can share a drink with and talk about stuff that’s both silly and important at a relaxed pace.”

“Nah, that can’t be right,” I smiled, “that’s just the alcohol talking.”

“So how about you?”

“What about me?” I acted dumb. Not too hard when sitting perfectly still was getting harder.

“What sort of girls do you like?”

“Hey now, maybe I’m into guys,” I laughed.

“Wouldn’t be surprising, considering how nonplussed you were in the bath today,” she joked, surely, but there was a sharpness to her words that may have revealed her actual opinion.

“Don’t worry, you’re plenty attractive,” I told her, deflecting the question. “Just had more important things to worry about, you know.”

“Well, I find it cute that you try your best,” she said. Slip of the tongue or more teasing? I couldn’t tell. Her cheeks were slightly rosy – much like I imagined my own were.

“Being married to you wouldn’t be that bad, I think,” I said. In my own indirect way, amid the joking, I guess it was my way of telling her that she was alright. “It’s not something that I can picture. I mean you’re alright, but it’s not like I have a crush on you or anything.”

“Whoa, there’s some sudden and unexpected honesty!” though she laughed and tried to pass it off as a joke, I thought that maybe I had caught her slightly off guard. Probably. I mean, the drinking couldn’t just have been affecting me.

“I think a lot would have to happen for us to be a couple,” I continued, “but it’s not impossible.”

“Ha! That’s totally something I should be saying!” Aya slapped her leg with a real sense of excitement in her voice.”Maybe we would work out, we do think alike some of the time. We could get you to be Lord Tenma’s replacement with our combined powers.”

“Would you like to have kids?” I asked.

“Some day, sure,” she answered, “we’re both too young to be thinking about right now, I think. Why, do you want to practice first?”

“I think we’d both have to be way drunker for that to happen,” I laughed and poured even more to drink. Aya accepted and agreed with my assessment.

We talked some more about our hypothetical married life. Making plans for a future that we both knew was unlikely to happen was weirdly fun. There was no pressure to see it through and it was, instead, just a mildly pleasant thought experiment. Aya went from plausible to absurd easily. Lording it over other tengu was easy enough but getting even the oni to submit to our awesome power and perfect marriage? Really far-fetched.

“Oh shut up,” she dismissed my complaints about the latest silly thing she said, “you’re being a bad husband. And to think that I was going to tell you that I was going to let you have concubines in our new kingdom.”

“It’s unfair of you to suddenly bring that up,” I feigned hurt by forcing a frown.

“Polygamy used to be the way of the tengu until pretty recently. I think we’re only like the second generation where it’s no longer common,” she said.

“Guess that repopulating was important after we had to leave the outside world.”

“Things were probably really bad,” she agreed, nodding. With a piercing look and sly smirk, she prodded, “I bet you’re thinking about your harem right now, aren’t you, you pervert?”

“Why would I?” I answered, “I’m a happily married man.”

The joking continued for a while longer. It was only when we were out of sake that we started to wind down. It got late, quickly. Talking to her was easy and it was the first time since I had met her that I felt that we had truly shared a moment.

We did a half-assed job of cleaning up after ourselves. We were both tired. Aya went to her room and got changed into her sleeping clothes while I cleared the area around my hammock. There was work to do in the morning, she reminded me. A yawn prevented her from explaining in detail, but she said something about me having to make a few important decisions and that I had better rest up.

“G’night, Hidetsugu,” she turned off the lights and began to retreat towards her room.

“Wait a sec,” I stopped her. I felt more sober, more in control of my thoughts. But I was still relaxed, the filter in my mind let all manner of thoughts flow through. It was time to cap our conversation about love and life. “I know that we talking about all sorts of different things earlier. But there’s something that I didn’t get the chance to confess. I’m only going to say it once, though.”

“...I’m listening,” Aya said softly. She stood at her door and I could just barely make out her shape in the darkness.

[] She had a nice body. But my positive opinion of her had nothing to do with those shapely distractions.
[] If either of us ever did grow to seriously like the other, it should be an honest discussion.
[] Joke that both her tengu ‘friends’ would be part of the harem. The power of love would get them to mellow out.
No. 190149
[x] She had a nice body. But my positive opinion of her had nothing to do with those shapely distractions.

None of the options really feel right to me, but this is the best fit for drunken chat aftermath. Being too serious would be a major turn off.
No. 190150
[X] She had a nice body. But my positive opinion of her had nothing to do with those shapely distractions.

Not interested in an Aya romance, and joking at this time is inappropriate.
No. 190153
[X] She had a nice body. But my positive opinion of her had nothing to do with those shapely distractions.

I don't think we'd set this kind of thing up and just cop out with the third option, and number 2 is a little heavy for right now. It can stay unspoken for a little longer.
No. 190156
[X] She had a nice body. But my positive opinion of her had nothing to do with those shapely distractions.

She's serious for the moment, so this is the best option.
No. 190157
[X] She had a nice body. But my positive opinion of her had nothing to do with those shapely distractions.

I like this drunken chatter.
No. 190158
[x] She had...

I know you hate one sided votes but, the second one is too serious for two tired drunks and the third one is a step too far in the other direction and takes the focus out of Aya. This is their moment, so I can't really vote for that with a clear conscience.

In addition, it is a way to calm whatever minor fears she might still have after he ignored her body twice in a row.
No. 190180
[x] She had a nice body. But my positive opinion of her had nothing to do with those shapely distractions.

Consider it true and that he's likely tipsy enough to be this honest.
No. 190181
[x] If either of us ever did grow to seriously like the other, it should be an honest discussion.

rough group of choices. to be honest. First option is a bit too glib for me, while the third is just meh. Second is probably a bit too serious for drunken time, but drunks getting too serious isn't unheard of or anything
No. 190182
[X] She had a nice body.
No. 190188
[x] If either of us ever did grow to seriously like the other, it should be an honest discussion.

Just felt like choosing this one. It's a serious thing.
No. 190189
[x] She had a nice body. But my positive opinion of her had nothing to do with those shapely distractions.
have to agree with this being the best option, 3 is just way too out there, and two, while it would probably be my back up choice, doesn't really fit for me.
No. 190242
[X] If either of us ever did grow to seriously like the other, it should be an honest discussion.

Other two options aren't consistent with the mood here. Aya is being serious for once, and I think Hide should be too.
No. 190250
[X] If either of us ever did grow to seriously like the other, it should be an honest discussion.

I think being serious for just a moment reflects well on Hide's character. That and the other options feel a bit too non-serious for me.
No. 190252
at the same time he is tipsy enough to be honest. If not for the drinking I think more people would choose that.
No. 190253
[X] If either of us ever did grow to seriously like the other, it should be an honest discussion.

I don't really like the other options. Besides, being serious with Aya will only help with developing our relationship, which sounds rather nice.
No. 190255
[X] If either of us ever did grow to seriously like the other, it should be an honest discussion.
-[X] Not to say she wasn't cute as fuck, though.
No. 190256
[x] If either of us ever did grow to seriously like the other, it should be an honest discussion.

there was joking about looks earlier so being a bit serious won't hurt
No. 190322
File 146801757563.jpg- (582.80KB , 850x1307 , just crowing.jpg ) [iqdb]
“Maybe you should have had a little less to drink. For that matter, I’m sure I should have drank a little less too,” Aya giggled. She came closer, smiling and surely mirroring my own foolish expression.

“I’m not saying it because I’m drunk, you know,” I assured her, trying my best not to sound like I was too far gone. “I’m being genuine.”

“Oh, trust me, I believe you. And appreciate it,” she said, kissing me on the cheek. It was a pleasant surprise. “It’s why I’m not going to be mean or take advantage of you, like many an unscrupulous crow would. Teasing someone when they’re being genuine is a little too cruel, and I don’t want to risk you teasing my poor maidenly heart either if I’m honest,” she winked. “All there is to say right now is that it’s late and that some things just have to take their time. So goodnight.”

“Yeah, you’re right,” I nodded, holding back a sigh. Not that I was unsatisfied or anything, on the contrary, I felt somewhat relieved. It was just that I wasn’t sure if I had been as eloquent as I needed to be. Some focus may have returned to my thoughts, but the dulling comfort of drink had perhaps left me complacent with my first choice of words.

I climbed into my hammock and wondered if I had done the right thing. I wasn’t too used to telling women that they were beautiful – nor at being genuine that if things needed to progress, it had to be done from a place of mutual honesty and respect. I was sure that she understood what I meant; she had kissed me not because of pity, but because she surely felt what I was feeling too. Even if things weren’t going to head in that direction, it was something that needed to be unambiguous from the very beginning.

My thoughts were half-coherent as I swayed gently in the hammock. Maybe I shouldn’t have admitted to thinking about her body; perky bits of flesh haunted my mind. Thankfully it didn’t take long for me to find sleep.

I wasn’t out for very long, however. My body was very clear that I needed more sleep, my every muscle feeling stiff and uncooperative. My mind, on the other hand, was roused almost immediately by the noise of Aya moving around, hard at work at an early hour. I knew that I also had to get a move on. The body was in no mood to be merciful in face of the facts and punished the mind by sending a pulsating headache. No doubt it was aggravated by all the alcohol I had drunk. My throat was impossibly dry.

I wobbled down from the hammock and took the first few steps towards revitalizing myself. Water was a priority.

“Once you’re done praying to the gods to make the pain go away, I could use a hand getting things sorted out here,” Aya acknowledged my shambling figure wryly. She was busy going back and forth, working by lamplight, dividing up paper into different bundles. There was an energy to her that seemed impossible to understand. No one who could have drunk as much as we had and slept as little, could be so chipper. Even the sun needed more rest than we got!

After nearly drowning myself with an incredible amount of water and then getting dressed, I was more ready to deal with a new day. Almost, anyhow. “I’m going to make breakfast, want some?” I asked Aya, my voice a little hoarse. She shrugged, looking like she didn’t mind either way.

Working next to a fire helped me gather my wits some more. The predawn hours up on the mountain were cool all year round. Sure, it was worse when there was snow but unless you were a guard or a laborer, you generally didn’t have to worry about it until a respectable hour. A hot meal was just the thing to end the war between mind and body.

Aya joined me when the food was ready, taking a break. “Maybe I should just keep you as my live-in servant,” she joked, digging in, “it’s nice not to have to worry about breakfast when pressed for time.”

“You wouldn’t get your money’s worth,” I told her, pacing myself so that I didn’t just aspirate the food, “this is about the limits of my cooking abilities. I’ve never had to make anything fancier than rice or noodles.”

“Only slightly worse than me then,” she smiled and shoveled more food into her mouth. She didn’t have the same reservations about pacing herself as me.

I picked up the pace, deciding that it couldn’t be helped. We were done soon enough and I didn’t bother to wash up, instead immediately joining her in sorting out the rest of the newspapers. Things didn’t take too long with the two of us hard at work. All we were doing were separating the right number of copies for subscribers in different locations. When the last string was tied around the last bundle, we were ready to start delivering.

The sun would come out from the other side of the mountain anytime. It was too cumbersome to carry all the papers at once and so deliveries took her multiple runs to and from her home. We’d be done faster if we split up. Aya entrusted me with a few addresses nearby and zoomed off in the sky at great speed. I smiled to myself, thinking that her work ethic was certainly very charming. Not even a mild hangover and an early start slowed her down.

I tried my best too. In a way, it was an opportunity to explore a whole new world. I seldom was awake so early in the day so I had no idea what happened aroudn the mountain in the mornings. Turned out, quite a bit. The vast majority of youkai were still asleep, some recently retired from a full night of carousing and doing whatever else random youkai did. But, elsewhere, others got an early start. I saw plenty of wolves and some crows moving about the village. Most traveled in groups, some stopping off a few of the open eateries to grab breakfast.

Rival newspapers were also hard at work. More than one tengu was doing the same thing as me, going from home to home, leaving newspapers on doorsteps. I never quite understood why there were so many other newspapers, but it seemed to be something that most tengu were fine with. The way I saw it there was a limited amount of news and analysis that you could do in a week. After a while you were just reporting on the mundane. I knew that there were literary entries and all sorts of competitions going on, too. Still, I couldn’t say that it interested me.

After clearing my first bundle, I returned to Aya’s home and picked up another. I had to go a little further away, down the slope of the mountain, to deliver those. Turned out that the kappa read tengu newspapers too. All around the river and tributaries, I delivered papers. The bulk of the deliveries, however, were at the source of the river. There, a waterfall crashed over the entrance of a large cave. There was a lot of steam in the air, coming from deep inside of the mountain.

The kappa were a strange lot. They were perhaps more organized as a society than the tengu. Each member had a defined role and they happily did what was expected of them day in and day out. At the entrance of the cave was a young kappa in a small booth, monitoring access in and out. All the kappa that went in checked with him and he wrote down their names on a clipboard. My newspapers were supposed to go to individuals but Aya had scrawled a note that I should just leave it at the entrance. It seemed that the guard was in on the arrangement. He greeted me politely and made me sign a slip, giving me one where he had signed in return. Proof of delivery.

I had to admit, I was often curious about what the hell the kappa did underground all the time. I knew that the tengu elders were somehow involved but they weren’t exactly a talkative bunch. We were told only as much as we needed to know. I had my doubts if it was for good reason or not. Asking the nearby kappa was likely to be fruitless, too. There was no point in doing anything but exchanging pleasantries and going on my way. It was the same with the tengu that I passed on my way down from the mountain. I saw the wolf from the previous day and she hardly even acknowledged me as I fly by. She was at a post at the base of the mountain – a quiet spot which hardly anyone passed.

I went back up the mountain as the sun shone unambiguously in the morning sky. There was still a lot more work to do and, if we were lucky, we’d have all the papers delivered by ten. My hauls kept getting more distant. I was nearly at the edge of the lake with my last delivery. I was sure that Aya was going even further, zipping through the sky without restraint. Still, I managed to get my work out of the way faster than she expected, I thought. There were only two stacks of newspapers left. Both of which I assumed that she expected to deliver herself.

[] Go above and beyond in helping Aya out.
[] Use the downtime to socialize a little.


A compromise. Think it's a good solution given the comments. Also: a reminder that this story doesn't have 'routes'. Any sort of romantic entanglement is secondary to other plot stuff
No. 190323
[X] Go above and beyond in helping Aya out.

Might as well help out, even if he's slower.
No. 190325
[X] Go above and beyond in helping Aya out.

It can't hurt.
No. 190333
[X] Go above and beyond in helping Aya out.

Why not go the extra mile and get even more favor from Aya.
No. 190334
[x] Use the downtime to socialize a little.

No routes sounds good to me, call me crazy but I think its socialization time now.
No. 190345
[X] Go above and beyond in helping Aya out.

If the route/romance stuff is going to be secondary, it makes more sense to focus votes around building Hide's character.
No. 190347
[x] Use the downtime to socialize a little.

If we're actually planning to become a leader we need to learn more about the place.
No. 190356
[x] Go above and beyond

Aya's lessons will be fruitless if he doesn't show he has what it takes to fill Tenma's geta. And, as we all know, the life of a public servant is sacrifice.
No. 190361
[X] Go above and beyond in helping Aya out.

Let's surprise her.
No. 190385
[x] Use the downtime to socialize a little.

meeting new people is always nice
No. 190394
[X] Go above and beyond in helping Aya out.
No. 190417
[X] Use the downtime to socialize a little.
No. 190418
[X] Go above and beyond in helping Aya out.

We can't just leave two sets there; even if we have done all ours, we must go above and beyond our duty as a chosen leader of the proud tengu race.
No. 190428
File 146843691453.jpg- (656.76KB , 675x900 , just peachy.jpg ) [iqdb]
Sorry about not being more timely with updates. I've been meaning to write for a while but a mix of tiredness, being busy and good old fashion laziness have kept me from buckling down and writing. I'll try to have something done within the next 24 hours, fingers crossed. We seem to be steering away from fellow tengu and it should be exciting to encounter starkly different ways of thinking going forward.

Image is unrelated for now and simply offered as means of apology.
No. 190437
I looked over the two bundles: one was marked “the usual gate,” and the other “bamboo”.

Not exactly very clear where each was supposed to go. But I wasn’t about to let Aya’s shorthand keep me from trying my best. It was the right thing to do – I told myself. It couldn’t hurt to ingratiate myself further with her, either. Thoughts from the previous evening still echoed through my head as well; I liked her well enough and even if our partnership didn’t become as personal and intimate as it very well could, part of me thought the possibility of genuine affection a little bit alluring. Who didn’t enjoy a heartfelt smile from a pretty girl, after all?

It wasn’t a strong enough feeling to be called fantasy and I was careful not to let myself get too lost in my own head. The cool morning air felt crisp and helped me keep focused on the task at hand. I flew quickly, wasting no time in leaving the mountain. I chose to maintain a certain minimum altitude, surveying the land below from a comfortable height. Gensokyo was practically completely awake. Humans moved about in the fields off to the distance even as fairies and lesser youkai began to play and move about by both the lake and nearby woods. Winter was a distant memory and the days were getting hotter and longer. As the sun came up higher in the sky, it’d be increasingly tempting to take a quick dip in the nearest body of water.

I hovered around the human village for a while. It was fascinating how lively it was in comparison to the mountain. Trade was bustling and villagers of all ages went back and forth to shops and homes. No doubt later they’d go off to a tavern for a drink and maybe a meal. I’d heard that you could get nearly every kind of foodstuff or raw material from someone if you looked for it hard enough. We tengu were resourceful and productive but we couldn’t hope to match human creativity if only because we were a tiny community in comparison. I couldn’t blame some of the more sociable youkai for going to the village from time to time to buy hard-to-find things.

Aya had likely already stopped by the village to deliver her paper. I didn’t linger very long and so I continued to fly. Figuring out where the rest of the delivery was meant to go was more important.

The only real clue was “bamboo”. I couldn’t make sense of the other note and so had just grabbed that pile and hoped for inspiration. It hopefully referred to the vast expanse of green on the other side of the village. I knew of it but had never bothered to explore the area. Something about tall leafy stalks of bamboo that were densely packed together was unappealing. There was plenty that could be hidden within the virtual sea of green that couldn’t be discerned from up in the sky. Walking around aimlessly wasn’t exactly my idea of fun.

A thin wisp of smoke coming from somewhere in the bamboo caught my attention. I set down near it and discovered a tiny house nestled between the overgrown plants. It was somewhat smaller than Aya’s place: a single room with a small porch by the looks of it. The smoke was coming from a window around the back. Safe bet that its owner was home, I thought as I knocked on the simple wooden door in the front.

A girl answered the door. Slender and with hair that extended nearly to the ground, she wore red trousers that looked baggy and ill-matched to her more delicate and frilly shirt. The ribbons in her hair matched the patches on her trousers and it looked like the whole ensemble was homemade. She stared at me quietly, her hands behind her back.

“Sorry to be a bother,” I said, feeling that if I didn’t say anything she would continue to simply stand there, probing me with her intense red eyes. “I was wondering if maybe you were aware of the other residents of this forest? You see, I have a few newspapers to deliver and I’m not exactly sure where I have to go.”

“I’m not a subscriber,” she said with an indifferent shrug. Her delivery had a slightly harsh edge to it, making her otherwise girlish voice somewhat hostile.

“Can’t tell me who else might be in the area?”

“No, but that crow is pushy,” she said, “she often leaves a copy here anyways.”

“Oh, so I am supposed to give you one of these,” I separated a paper from the stack, handing it over to the girl. She took it reluctantly. If I had to guess, she wanted the interaction to be done with as soon as possible. Refusing might make me be insistent, she likely thought. I smiled at her, “With this successful delivery, I won’t bother you anymore, thank you for your time.”

“...wait,” she stopped me just as I was about to leave.

“Is there anything else you need?” I asked.

She crossed her arms, keeping the paper in one hand. It didn’t seem like she was too sure about herself. Or me for that matter – she looked me up and down, like she was trying to determine whether or not I was worth her time. At last, she sighed, and spoke up, “you’ll never find where you’re supposed to go by yourself. I’ll take you there if you give me a moment.”

“Ah, really? That’s really nice of you, thank you,” I said, feeling like it was a lucky break. It did feel like I wouldn’t be able to find anything else in the bamboo forest by just wandering about aimlessly.

The girl was fairly uncommunicative. Telling me to wait, she retreated back into her house. She did return to the door offer breakfast – a porridge of some sort – but when I told her I had already eaten she lost interest in me again and closed the door. I sat on a rock nearby patiently, setting down the bundle of papers for a moment, figuring that she would come around soon enough. Several minutes later, I was proven correct. She emerged from her home with a small bag slung on her shoulder and indicated that I should follow her.

We set off into the forest, following no visible trail. It seemed that she knew exactly where she was going but I had no idea how she managed to keep her bearings. As far as I could tell, every direction was the same endless green. We didn’t do much talking while we trekked and my few attempts to start up conversation were met by stony silence. While she didn’t tell me to shut up, I felt discouraged from blathering off too much when she offered no response even when I introduced myself.

Even as I wondered what out destination was, it was becoming clear that there was a lot that was hidden by the thick bamboo canopy. We crossed a small stream at one point and came about several small rocky clearings here and there. The terrain wasn’t as flat as it seemed from above and we skirted around a small hill. She stopped a few times to pick up small bamboo shoots, putting them silently into her bag. Cooking supplies, no doubt.

At last, we arrived at our destination. Even though I was only carrying a few newspapers, my arms had begun to ache a little from the weight. We must have walked for the better part of an hour. I had to admit, I hadn’t expected to see a mansion in the middle of the forest. It was a pretty sizable property, somewhat larger than the homes that I was used to at the top of the mountain, half-hidden by the forest. It seemed like an old building in its design but its mostly wooden structure showed no signs of weathering. My guide stopped at the entrance. It didn’t seem like she was going to go in. I thanked her and hoped to get something – anything – from her but she stayed silent, shrugging when I suggested that I wouldn’t forget the favor. She quickly disappeared back into the forest, leaving me completely alone.

I walked towards the door but was intercepted before I reached it. A short, black-haired girl with large rabbit ears hopped onto the cobbled path in front of me. She smiled at me, “the delivery is a little later than usual.”

“Sorry, I wasn’t sure where exactly I was supposed to deliver these. I needed a little help finding this place,” I said, offering her a paper from the small stack in my arms. She grabbed the whole lot at once.

“This place is Eientei,” she said, setting the pile of newspapers by the door,“and did your girlfriend not explain how to find us?”

“You mean Aya? She’s not my girlfriend,” I told her, “she doesn’t know I’m here, either. I came here of my own initiative.”

“It’s a little boring if you deny that kind of thing so completely,” the girl said, pouting a little.

“Sorry if I spoiled your fun,” I shrugged, “maybe you can tease me about something else?”

She giggled, her otherwise floppy white ears perking up slightly in excitement. “Would you like to come in for a while, maybe have a cup of tea? I’d like it very much if I could figure out how to tease you best.”

“I really shouldn’t...” I declined politely. I watched as a few normal rabbits appeared from nowhere and carried off the pile of newspapers swiftly. Were they the ones that read the various copies? It was an odd mental image.

“Oh come on, don’t be shy,” the girl hopped to my side, linking her arm with mine, “I know I’m cute and all but I promise that I won’t make your girlfriend feel jealous.”

“I told you once already, she’s not my girlfriend…” I sighed, half-heartedly fighting her steady tug towards the door. Kidnapped by a small rabbit in a pink dress. That was a new one.

“Oh, a handsome guy like you is sure to have a girlfriend, even if it’s not that other tengu,” she laughed, being transparent in her flattery. “And, if by any chance you don’t have one, I might know a few people who might be a good match for you.”

She kept talking nonsense the whole while she led me to a small room just by the front door. From the little that I could see of the rest of the mansion, it was a well-kept home. We sat on cushions by at opposite ends of a small square table. There was little else in the way of decoration in the room, just a small flower arrangement by one of the walls. At one point she introduced herself as Tewi. The small talk that normally came with exchanging names was brief, and the conversation continued at her her own pace.

“It’s unusual to see tengu this far from the mountain most of the time,” she said, “you really must owe her a big favor if you came all this way.”

“It’s not that, I just didn’t have anything better to do this morning,” I told her.

A small white rabbit came into the room and pressed itself up next to her. “The tea should be here soon,” she said. I supposed she could understand the little fellow just fine. Sort of how I could usually make sense of what crows up on the mountain were trying to say. If they were anything alike, they spent most of their time talking about food. Tewi, by contrast, talked about anything and everything, from how playing hide and seek in the bamboo forest was fun to how humans made the best candies.

“I couldn’t really say,” I replied to a comment about how humans were really clever at figuring out how to work with limited resources. I admitted, “I’ve only briefly interacted with humans.”

“Just as well,” she said with a nod, “they like to complain about how youkai are unfair, but they’d just as soon take advantage of us if they could.”

“They’re interesting enough, “ I said with a shrug, “and it’s not like they’re going away anytime soon.”

“Hm, a bit weird to hear a tengu be so reasonable,” she said.

“Well,” I chuckled, “we might be better than them but it doesn’t mean that I can’t admit that they have their interesting side. But, more importantly, it sounds like you’re familiar enough with tengu. I thought you said it’s unusual to see us out here.”

“And maybe you’re sharper than you look, very observant,” she nodded, but dismissed the topic, “don’t worry about it, I’ve just been around long enough to meet all sorts of folks. That’s why I’m tempted to set you up with a lovely girl that I know.”

I bit my lip. Pointing out that she was being patronizing wasn’t going to get me anywhere. Unlike some of my other recent encounters, there was nothing about Tewi that indicated that she could make my life difficult if I upset her. Then again, looks could be deceiving. The fact that the rabbits seemed to defer to her meant she had some sort of status. Maybe she was worth getting to know better. My impression was that she knew a lot more about my kind that she was letting on.

[] Indulge her matchmaking talk to get on her good side.
[] Keep on the subject of human-youkai relations – clearly she has more to say about the subject.
[] Try to get her to talk more about herself, offering up a some personal information to get the ball rolling.
No. 190440
[X] Indulge her matchmaking talk to get on her good side.
No. 190442
[X] Keep on the subject of human-youkai relations – clearly she has more to say about the subject.

Sounds intresting.
No. 190443
[X] Keep on the subject of human-youkai relations – clearly she has more to say about the subject.

I'm interested in what she has to say.
No. 190444
[X] Try to get her to talk more about herself, offering up a some personal information to get the ball rolling.

I find it a little suspicious that Tewi is being so forward after only knowing MC for like....5 seconds. Also, as a side note, Hide needs to step up his teasing game. At this rate all the teasers in Gensokyo are going to walk all over him.
No. 190451
[x] Try to get her to talk more about herself, offering up a some personal information to get the ball rolling

We want to keep the focus on her and that talk about pairing will probably lead us elsewhere. Besides, he is curious about her and she did say she want to know how to tease him better, heh.
No. 190453
[X] Try to get her to talk more about herself, offering up a some personal information to get the ball rolling.

He doesn't know much about her at all yet.
No. 190473
[X] Indulge her matchmaking talk to get on her good side.

I got my money on that it's Reisen and dammit she needs a route!
No. 190476
[X] Keep on the subject of human-youkai relations – clearly she has more to say about the subject.

I think this will prove to be very useful in case we do become almighty ruler of the tengu or whatever, something along the lines of better human-youkai relations.
No. 190478
[X] Indulge her matchmaking talk to get on her good side.

It's pretty in character given Sanae
No. 190482
[x] Indulge her matchmaking talk to get on her good side.

More as a character builder than anything. Hide's been pretty unwilling to take up this kind of talk with anyone other than Aya, and biting now will stop Tewi from bugging us further about it while potentially leading in another direction we're interested in.
No. 190499
I'm going to try to write up something now despite the three-way tie because I probably won't have any time to do so later. Hopefully it'll turn out alright.
No. 190500
Uh, it really is a three way tie. What the fuck are the odds?
No. 190510
File 146862698419.png- (29.23KB , 694x470 , table manners.png ) [iqdb]
“That’s a good expression you have right now,” she said, smiling broadly, “it’s so grown up with just a hint of uncertainty showing in a tiny wrinkle just above your finely chiseled nose. Then again, that blend of boyish vigor with enigmatic yet piercing eyes makes it hard to tell what you’re really thinking about.”

“What’s next?” I asked, arching an eyebrow, “going to start talking about my powerful arms and taut muscles here and there? That lovely girl of yours must be pretty desperate if you’re so keen on inflating my ego. Hoping to build up my confidence?”

“Ah, so clever, I think I’m falling for you myself!” she giggled, pulling her dress a little with one hand and fanning herself with the other. Though obviously put on for effect, her carefree tone and predisposition to quick bursts of coy laughter did a good job at hiding what she was really thinking. Was it boredom that led to her flirtatious teasing? I couldn’t quite believe it. She was in control of the conversation and probed deftly about my circumstances and background between every other line.

I wasn’t too forceful about it, but hinting that I wanted to talk about humans was a bust. If I tried a little harder, I was sure that she’d say something genuine in an unguarded moment. But, instead, I found myself trying my luck as opportunities for any meaningful exchange came up. After she said something about my dignified posture, I took a shot at regaining some control, “don’t take this the wrong way,” I said, “but you don’t seem the type to care much about that sort of thing. I could sit here stony-faced all day long but I get the feeling that you’d continue to have your fun.”

“Making fun of someone without any dignity is just bullying,” she quipped with a fast wink, “and if I have the luck of running into someone interesting, I try to make the most of it.”

“I should consider myself lucky for running into you,” I overacted, sighing like the weight of the world was on my shoulders, “and so I suppose it’d be a sin not to make the most out of this experience.”

“Ah, aren’t you precious?” she puffed her lips out and blew a very loud kiss at me. “So smart, so clever, so handsome. A god among men. Or youkai as the case would me.” Another of her quick little laugh followed, a somewhat nasally-pitched “nyehehe”.

“If only you knew how little flattery affects me,” I shrugged, “I’ve heard phony praise all my life. People say it because they think they have to, but usually it’s because they want something from you or those around you.”

“Probably true enough,” she nodded, “cynical but correct. But only for a certain kind of person. You remind me of someone I see all the time.”

“No doubt they’re as clever and handsome as I am,” I joked, my tone flat and dry.

“Oh, she’s certainly got her charm if you’re into her type, but calling her ‘handsome’ is a bit weird. Especially since I think she’s way more intimidating for the average person than you are. You’re approachable. Like, ‘pinch-butt-on-street-run-away’ and suffer no real consequences.”

“I like to think that I’d be cross at you if you harassed me like that,” I told her, somehow suspecting that something that childish wasn’t impossible with her. Though her more poignant observations about me and people at large that escaped her every so often let me know that she was definitely older and more experienced than her petite almost child-like appearance let on, it was clear that she was young in spirit.

“Shush, you’d love the attention and you know it,” she blew me another kiss. Before I could say anything else, the tea finally arrived. Carrying the tray was a somewhat tall girl with an outfit somewhat similar to Aya’s; a short-yet-partially-modest skirt, white blouse and a necktie. Her color scheme was different, as was her hair, and the long lilac strands contrasted with the light tones of her clothes. She was a rabbit, too, her eyes were the same red as Tewi’s but her ears were more pointed and stiff. “Speaking of loving attention...”

“Thank you for the tea,” I nodded politely as she placed the cups on the table.

“You’re very welcome,” the girl spoke softly, wearing a polite smile.

“Isn’t he a looker?” Tewi had the cheek to talk about me like I couldn’t hear her, “don’t you just want to nibble on him raw?”

“I’m a vegetarian, so no,” the girl rolled her eyes, evidently used to Tewi’s very forward personality.

“Don’t worry. I’m certain he has a really tasty carrot under those clothes,” Tewi laughed again, sounding like a dirty old lech.

“Is she always like that?” I addressed the girl directly, looking for an ally.

“Only when she can get away with it,” she replied, shaking her head. The comment had affected her slightly and I noticed that she stole a quick glance at somewhere besides my face. But that could be forgiven under the circumstances.

“Would you like to join us?” I asked, shutting out Tewi entirely. Maybe a degree of sanity would return if she was there as a buffer.

“I need to sweep the front… but I suppose that I could take a small break,” she nodded and took a seat on another side of the table between Tewi and I, “it isn’t every day that we get visitors, after all.”

I introduced myself. She told me her name was Reisen. An odd name. I took a sip from my cup. There was something different about the flavor of the green tea, but it was good. Like a more flowery aftertaste. “This tea is lovely, did you make it yourself?” I asked her.

“I brewed it, but my master made the blend,” she said, grinning like it was a point of pride, “it’s really tasty, right?”

“It’s certainly different,” I replied, “I wouldn’t mind drinking it more often.”

Tewi was sat quietly. She stared at us with a smug little smile on her lips. When I took another sip, she spoke, “perhaps it’ll be a love triangle instead. This is the start of something, I can feel it.”

“You’re going to give our guest a bad impression,” Reisen sighed, “he doesn’t know the first thing that you’re talking about.”

“Oh, but you do,” Tewi fired back, “the rabbits told you that our guest was a handsome young man, didn’t they? That’s why you took so long, because you were making sure that your hair was perfect before you came in.”

“...there’s nothing wrong with looking nice when meeting someone new,” Reisen gave a reasonable reply but the uncertain pause compromised the message.

“I agree,” Tewi smirked, “and there’s nothing wrong with being honest either.”

I cleared my throat. Things were liable to get out of hand. “I’m not very sure you’re a very good matchmaker, Tewi. There’s no need to force things, anyhow.”

“This is a happy accident,” she said, “Reisen is lovely, as I’m sure you’re thinking right now, but isn’t really who I had in mind. Good breeding requires good breeding to match, don’t you know?”

I gave Reisen a look, asking her if she knew what Tewi was talking about. She shrugged and smiled, taking another sip of tea. “It seems that we’re talking about love for some reason,” Reisen said softly, “but haven’t you been complaining that things have been boring for you lately? So maybe you should start looking for someone for yourself first.”

“Nice try,” Tewi waved a finger at her, like an adult dressing down a child, “but you’re the one wearing your nicer tie and...” she paused and sniffed the air in a theatrical manner, “and, my word, perfume. Subtle fragrance, too, you smell like a lovely summer’s day.”

The smaller rabbit’s observation engendered an almost instant reaction from Reisen. She slouched, pulling herself backing into herself, fidgeting with the tip of her tie with her fingers, right by where a small decorative carrot was clipped on. She mouthed something, like she had a comeback but stayed quiet.

“There certainly is nothing wrong with wanting to look nice when meeting someone new,” I said, trying to be a neutral actor. Things were liable to get more uncomfortable if I didn’t say anything. “And even if I’m not what you expected, I really appreciate that you took the effort. It’s not unreasonable at all.”

“Ah, thank you,” she relaxed a little, looking up at me with genuine relief. “I’m not sure why I let her push my buttons like this. I’m normally a lot more confident, you know!” she forced a chuckle, stating the last bit like it was a big joke. I had to admit, the girlish display of mild assertiveness was somewhat endearing. I understood how it felt to be over your head and under pressure.

“Well, I’m afraid that I wasn’t expecting to be met by someone that took the time to look so nice, so I’m probably a huge letdown,” I made a joke, to lighten the mood. My usual outfit was comfortable and functional but it wasn’t exactly stylish. My privileged status meant that the fabric was a bit better than the average tengu’s but I fit well enough in a crowd.

“Oh get a load of you,” it was Tewi’s turn to roll her eyes, “such modesty in a race known for being so arrogant. This silver-tongued emissary from the mountain is winning over the hearts and minds of us simple rabbits.”

“Be nice,” Reisen scolded her, narrowing her eyes, “he’s just showing manners.”

“Yeah, and winning over your heart,” Tewi said. “Not to mention other parts of your body. Careful that they don’t start poking out through that thin little blouse of yours in your excitement.”

“...don’t be so dirty,” Reisen was a little more firm in her rebuke. But the beginnings of color in her cheek hinted that some of what Tewi said had flustered her. If only just slightly.

“At any rate, this tea sure is nice,” I loudly brought the subject back up, acting like it was all just a big joke. “I could listen to you guys go back and forth all day long but wouldn’t it be much nicer to get to know one another instead? Properly, I mean. Without all the innuendo and more of the genuine kinship that youkai are supposed to feel for one another in our enlightened times.”

“Ah, so you’ve met those religious nutters?” Tewi chuckled, taking the hint.

“Just heard of them,” I replied, “I’ve only met the people at the shrine on the mountain, not all those others that are closer to the humans.”

“There’s nothing wrong with wanting to live in peace and harmony,” Reisen said, “anyone who wants to avoid more conflict is alright so far as I’m concerned.”

“So many ideas, so little time~” Tewi blurted out cryptically, complete with a mysterious little wink.

I ignored her for the moment. It was clear she was having fun. Keeping a semblance of coherence in the conversation would require me to be a little more proactive. I took a sip from the cup, finishing off the tea.

[] Reisen mentioned something about a ‘master’. Try to find out more about the household.
[] They seem to have strong feelings about the other youkai groups, ask about that.
[] Ignore Tewi’s taunts and just continue to get to know them better.
No. 190511
[x] Ignore Tewi’s taunts and just continue to get to know them better.

This choice just screams at me, pick me pick me coach. Jokes aside, getting to know them better is always a good choice in my book.
No. 190512
[x] Ignore Tewi’s taunts and just continue to get to know them better.

This version of the two are pretty interesting. I want to see more of them.
No. 190513
[x] Continue to know them better

Holy fuck I really like them. Even though I think Kaguya would make a better partner for him. A bit out of his league, maybe.
No. 190514
[x] Ignore Tewi’s taunts and just continue to get to know them better.

Really loving this Reisen so far.
No. 190520
[X] They seem to have strong feelings about the other youkai groups, ask about that.

I'm curious what they have to say.
No. 190524
[x] Ignore Tewi’s taunts and just continue to get to know them better.

I'd think it'd be nice to get to know them better.
No. 190525
[X] Reisen mentioned something about a ‘master’. Try to find out more about the household.

I'll usually pick the option to find out about things he's ignorant of.
No. 190529
[x] Reisen mentioned something about a ‘master’. Try to find out more about the household.

Getting acquainted with even more vibrant personalities sounds like a choice I can't refuse.
No. 190533
[X] Reisen mentioned something about a ‘master’. Try to find out more about the household.

Time to expand his world.
No. 190550
[X] They seem to have strong feelings about the other youkai groups, ask about that.

Need to get a better feel for the relationship dynamic among the many yukai factions.
No. 190551
[X] Ignore Tewi’s taunts and just continue to get to know them better.
No. 190553
[x] Reisen mentioned something about a ‘master’. Try to find out more about the household.
even more networking
No. 190560
[x] Ignore Tewi’s taunts and just continue to get to know them better.

Sounds better than the other options
No. 190624
New thread.

Thread Watcher x