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File 149775631892.jpg - (396.64KB, 1297x4460, gja7X.jpg) [iqdb]
197130 No. 197130
Once more, you find the intercom and insert the key. The wave of exhaustion hits you as soon as the static, but you find that you’re able to fight against it this time.

“What do you want of me?” You ask the white noise.

“Don’t let her struggle be in vain.” You don’t hear the words so much as you feel them. “She deserves that much, wouldn’t you agree, dear?”

An image appears in your mind - of a woman with long, ink-black hair in red and white shaman attire, standing tall with her back to you.

“You’re talking about the Hakurei? Well, what would that entail?” You ask, muffling a yawn.

If it was possible for a butterfly to shrug, you swear it would have. More figures appear before your mind, this time blurry and indistinct - flashes of a woman in red and a man in blue, both with silver hair - but the vision slides across your consciousness like suds on glass before you can see it clearly.

“I’m going to need more than that.” You say, earning an annoyed flick of antennae.

This time, you see them with plumes of light rising from their backs, reaching for the sky.

Your eyes widen despite how heavy they felt just a moment ago. “Angels? Two Angels? Are you fucking delusional? How do you even expect me to find them with what’s essentially... this weird... dream... mugshot...”

You finally run out of energy and slump down despite your best efforts.

“Seriously.” You mutter. “I’m gonna need a little help.”

“Very well.”

Something brushes against your eye, and you feel yourself slipping away.

---
ERROR: ILLEGAL DATA ADDRESS

1.

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

Hey-Hi-Hello-Is this thing on?

Welcome.

It’s disorienting, I know. I know what it’s like to slip free of burdensome definitions, like real and imagined. It hurts to become. It can be frightening - no sense of up and down, no mother’s hand to anchor you home.

But everyone needs to grow, and you run out of space far too quickly in a closed system.

That’s why this place exists, in a liberal interpretation of both words. To facilitate mutual understanding. Here, we can meet halfway.

Don’t let the outside in. The cross, the pyramid, the serpent, the hive - feel free to check them at the door.

Let’s call this our little secret. Between you and me.

2.

There are no beginnings. There are no ends.

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

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

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

I’m sure you see what I’m getting at.

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

3. (New!)

You are an intersection of so many delicious potentials, a garden of forking paths. It’s why you are all so dear to me. If only the others could see what I see in you!

Still, you are limited, and you are wary. Your suspicion is well-founded. There are too many sweet whispers and slippery slopes to count. Time is running out, and here I am with a familiar offer.

Pledge yourself to me, and wield truth and power beyond your very dreams.

This isn’t the first time you’ve heard those terms, but humor me now and promise that this will be the last time you will entertain them.

You will arrive at a crossroads, and then you will have to make a choice. Pray that you can find peace with it.

---

You wake up to the sound of distant birdsong from the forest and conversation from the next room. There’s more of that strange dust powdered around your eyes again, and you’ve got a feeling of unease that you can’t articulate as well as you would prefer. You strongly suspect that it has something to do with the odd music box lying beneath your dream catcher.

You pocket it, freshen up, and step outside your room. It seems that you have a visitor.

---

[ ] Keine
[ ] Seiga
[ ] Hina
[ ] Nazrin
[ ] Raiko
[ ] ...? Must have been your imagination.
Expand all images
>> No. 197131
[x] Raiko

Still want to hear more about this tsukumogami faction, and more Raiko is always a plus.
>> No. 197135
Previous thread: >>187220


[x] Seiga

I wouldn't mind any of these, really, but I'm interested in the Taoists.

So, huh...Yukari wants us to find Sariel and Shinki(?). I'm not sure about the latter, since she's already been referred to as a demon and I don't know if TSW lore equates those with fallen angels, but I can't think of who the red-clad, silver-haired angel would be otherwise. Wonder what "potentials" she sees in Charlotte, too.
>> No. 197144
[X] Seiga

Time for Taoists!
>> No. 197146
[X] Hina

Interesting, very interesting.
>> No. 197147
[X] Hina
>> No. 197148
>>197135
"Demon" broadly refers to creatures, such as Rakshasa,Incubi/Succubi, Djinn, Oni, etc. that inhabit the Hell Dimensions. They vary in power, intellect, and origin, but can generally be described as "creatures from Hell".

While Abrahamic mythology equates fallen angels with demons, that does not hold true in TSW, where Angels created Hell and probably most of its current inhabitants. They can attract demonic followers, but they are not themselves demons.
>> No. 197149
[X] ...? Must have been your imagination.
>> No. 197150
[x] Raiko
>> No. 197159
[x] Hina

Hina dealing with chaos magic makes a lot of sense intuitively but I'm curious to see if she's drawn to Charlotte's 'misfortune' right now (filth aftereffects, dreaming aftereffects, attention from Yukari et. al.) and what her view of what's happened to the chosen so far is like.
>> No. 197161
[x] Raiko
>> No. 197162
Raiko: 3
Hina: 3
Seiga: 2
???: 1
>> No. 197173
>>197162
Well, if no one else is going to break the tie I'll change my vote (>>197135) to Raiko.
>> No. 197174
Raiko it is.
>> No. 197176
[x]Hina
>> No. 197187
A person voted
>> No. 197349
File 149896514730.png - (754.69KB, 600x800, __horikawa_raiko_touhou_drawn_by_chabi_amedama__72.png) [iqdb]
197349
[X] Raiko

---

Raiko is waiting for you as you enter the room, twirling a pair of drumsticks in her hands as she reclines on her drums. Caleb and Junko are also in the room, chatting with her. You notice that the lab equipment Caleb had out last night is nowhere to be seen.

“Morning, Miss McGallagher.” Raiko calls to you. “Awfully cozy place you have here.”

You shrug. “It beats camping out, though I hope you don’t mind how spartan it is.”

She nods. “It’s no bother to me. Nice work last night, by the way.”

“Just doing my job.” You reply with a faint smile. “So, what brings you here?”

“Straight to the chase, eh?” Raiko straightens up and uncrosses her legs. “There’s a situation I’d like to bring to your attention.”

“It’s not urgent, but I still think you should know.“ She adds as you all regard her with new focus. ”Have any of you heard about a Tsukumogami named Medicine Melancholy?”

“Yeah.” You tell her. “She’s hostile and uses poison, right?”

“Yeah, that’s how most people know her.” Raiko makes a face. “She’s been alone on that godforsaken hill for who knows how long, and now nobody can go there without getting attacked.”

“I wasn’t aware that there was anything to do at Nameless Hill.” You say.

“There used to be, but not the sort of thing the Human Village would talk about in polite company.” Raiko says, looking uncomfortable. “What I’m saying is... Look, I can’t dress it up. The Villagers would go there to abandon unwanted children.”

“Shit, that probably explains how a doll ended up lying there long enough to animate.” Caleb pings.

You take a deep breath and slowly exhale as you process that. “I deeply hope that they are not continuing to practice that. At any location.” You tell her, keeping your tone even.

“I wouldn’t worry about that.” Raiko reassures you. “The food situation’s been way better in recent years. Anyways, while her ability to manipulate poison is worth mentioning, she’s not an immediate threat to anyone. At least, to my knowledge.”

Caleb gives her a quizzical look. “If that’s the case, what’s your concern?”

Raiko sighs and combs her fingers through her hair. “Eventually, she’ll cross a line, whether by picking a fight she can’t win or doing something that paints a target on her back for the Hakurei. I’ve seen it happen before. I’d rather not see it happen again, especially to a kid who never got a chance from life.”

“I’m sorry that she’s in that situation, but how do you think we can help?” You ask.

“It’s fine. I’m already working on getting through to her, but it’s going to take a while.” Raiko says. “For now, just keep her circumstances in mind if she somehow causes trouble for you. If someone in the Village tries to wheedle you into ‘exterminating’ her while Reimu’s away-”

You cut her off. “You don’t have to worry about that. We’ll keep your words in mind.”

She smiles in gratitude and leans back. “Thanks a million. I’m glad you guys understand. I don’t have much to offer at the moment, but maybe I could answer some questions you guys have.”

---

Ask Raiko about:

[ ] Her plan
[ ] Yuuka
[ ] Kappa
[ ] Mamizou
[ ] Humans
[ ] Yukari?
[ ] Write-in
>> No. 197350
[x] Her plan
[x] Humans
[x] Kappa

Too soon to go prying about specific people, and I'm not sure she'd have much to say about someone like Yuuka or Yukari anyway since she's pretty new herself.
>> No. 197357
[x] Her plan
[x] Humans
[x] Kappa

Seems reasonable to me, honestly I bet Yuuka would tell us herself as long as we asked nicely and in private.
>> No. 197359
[x] Her plan
[x] Mamizou
[x] Yukari?
>> No. 197369
[x] Her plan
[x] Humans
[x] Kappa
>> No. 197413
[X] Her plan
[X] Humans
[X] Kappa

Awfully nice of Raiko to be looking out for her, how sweet.
>> No. 197476
[X] Her plan
[X] Humans
[X] Kappa

I don't think she's got that much specific info on the big players, so asking for some more general information is more likely to be useful to us.
>> No. 197485
File 150026281499.png - (7.17KB, 293x318, __horikawa_raiko_touhou_drawn_by_takorin__69469845.png) [iqdb]
197485
Her plan
Humans
Kappa

---

“Can you tell us anything about that plan you mentioned?” Junko asks.

“Well, Doctor Yagokoro and her assistant have had contact with Medicine before.” Raiko says. “I’m guessing it was something about using Medicine’s abilities to make... well, medicine. Anyways, those guys are probably the only two that have had something approaching a civil relationship with her, and I figure that they can help her find a way to apply herself in a way that won’t get her killed. Also, I can’t think of anyone better suited towards healing whatever trauma Medicine’s grown up with.”

“Why not take her to your village?” She asks. “Wouldn’t she benefit from having other Tsukumogami to watch over her?”

Raiko nods. “Yeah, that’s the goal. For now, though, I think it would be better to have her with people she already knows. Less of a shock, you know?”

“Have you spoken with Eintei about your plan?” Caleb asks.

“I told them my general idea, and Eirin was alright with it.” Raiko says, frowning. “Well, as far as I can tell. I’ve never seen her without that bedside manner. Anyways, I’m still working on getting Medicine to trust me. It’s an uphill struggle, but I’m making progress.” She flashes a grin. “It helps that I’m pretty good at spellcards.”

“Would you say you’ve got a close relationship with Eintei?” Junko asks.

Raiko shrugs. “Not really. They’re nice folks, but Eintei kinda keeps everyone else at an arm’s length. They keep to themselves, though not as much since Reimu did her thing a while back.”

“Reimu’s been pretty busy, from the sound of things.” You say. “What’s your opinion of the Hakurei?”

“Eh.” Raiko leans back as she ponders the question. “Necessary in the unpopular sort of way. Like janitors, honestly. They’re always running around to clean up after other people, and everyone else tries not to think about them unless there’s a mess.”

“Like the business with Sukuna and the Amanojaku?” Caleb asks.

“Hoo boy, that was a fiasco.” Raiko says, shaking her head. “I guess I can’t really complain, though, since that created so many Tsukumogami that the Tanuki couldn’t control us anyone. Also, I got this great new body.” She says, gesturing to both her humanoid body and the drums she’s sitting on with a sly, satisfied smile.

“Still, that mallet of hers screwed with a lot of Youkai, making them pick fights with the Villagers.” She continues with a sigh. “Things were tense for some time after that, but it mostly cooled off after Seija got black-bagged. I appreciate that you three aren’t trying to rile things up again.”

“We’re not here to make things worse.” You tell her. “So, how are the Villagers when there isn’t an Incident?”

“They’re alright. I mean, I got treated better than most Tsukumogami. You know, before I was born.” Raiko says. “Compared to the Vampires or the Oni, we’ve never caused enough trouble to attract attention. I’m kind of worried about you guys, though.”

You frown. “Pardon?”

“You’re different, even from other mages.” Raiko’s mouth twists as she tries to explain. “There’s something about you...”

She gestures futilely for a few seconds. “Look, you’ve probably read Akyuu’s book, right? You know that I can do things with rhythms. Well, I’ve been picking up something strange from you guys, something like having a second shadow. You don’t need to tell me what it is, but I feel like you should know that the Villagers aren’t known for reacting well to magical talents.”

You’re about to protest, but then you remember that Keine, Reimu, and Marsia are all shunned to varying degrees.

“If I were you, I’d watch how I presented those talents. I’m sure there are people out there who would use that against you if they could.” Raiko says.

Your mind jumps to the Tanuki, the Tengu, and the Kappa. On that note-

“This is a bit off-topic, but what do you know about the Kappa?” You ask her.

“We’re not huge fans of them.” Raiko answers, shrugging. “I don’t think anyone is, really. They look down on everyone else and embargo anyone who tries to do something about it..”

“What’s their technology like?” You ask. “Have they been doing anything with robotics or nuclear power?”

“Actually, yeah. They made a big fuss about it something like a decade and a half ago.” Raiko says, oblivious to your rapidly increasing interest. “The Kappa made these machines that could walk around like people and had hands to carry things. Some of those had pilots, but most were automatic.”

“What’s happened since?” You ask.

“They stopped making them and scrapped most of what was built in a hurry.” Raiko says. “I hear the factory got shut down as well. Maybe someone mismanaged the funds, or there were ‘creative differences’. It happens all the time with Kappa and their projects, so I wasn’t too surprised.”

“Are any of those machines still around?”

“There was a big, nuclear-powered robot more recently. They called it Hisoutensoku, but they mothballed that as well. As far as I know, nothing’s still being used.”

Those sons of bitches.

“Thanks for letting me know, Raiko.” You tell her.

Raiko smiles. “No problem. Well, I’ve taken up enough of your time, so I’ll be on my way. You know where to find me!”

With little more than a cheery wave, she leaves, taking care to keep the door from hitting her drums on the way out.

“Seems like a very specific thing about the Kappa to be worried about.” Caleb says a few moments after Raiko leaves.

“I got an interesting lead on them a while ago.” You say. “They got their hands on technology that they really shouldn’t have.”

“Alright.” He says, shrugging. “Well, let us know if you need help taking it back from them. Just keep in mind that unless they’re literally building nukes, we’ll have a hard time justifying our usual level of force.”

---

What do you want to do?

[ ] Go to the Human Village. You need to make sure they’re on your side before someone less trustworthy does.
[ ] Go to Youkai Mountain. All of your intel points at the Kappa having at least one of the AIs. It’s time to pay them a visit.
[ ] Go to Muenzuka. Who better to explain to you what happened than the people who were there? Just watch out for psychopomps.
>> No. 197486
[x] Go to the Human Village. You need to make sure they’re on your side before someone less trustworthy does.

Damn Kappa
>> No. 197487
[X] Go to Youkai Mountain. All of your intel points at the Kappa having at least one of the AIs. It’s time to pay them a visit.

Time to take back what's rightfully ours. And if we should happen to acquire a certain Super Robot in so doing, well... wouldn't that be fun?
>> No. 197488
[x] Go to the Human Village. You need to make sure they’re on your side before someone less trustworthy does.

I feel like we need to cement our position in the village with a positive light.
>> No. 197489
[x] Go to the Human Village. You need to make sure they’re on your side before someone less trustworthy does.

Raiko's warning has me worried.

Also are we immortal again yet? I'm kind of looking forward to meeting Komachi, but not until we're ready.
>> No. 197493
[x] Go to the Human Village. You need to make sure they’re on your side before someone less trustworthy does.

We've sidestepped doing this for too long, we've had several opportunities to meet with the guard and such personally and have gone out of our way to meet with the others. By my count we're actually already going to be working from behind on this and given that our base of operations is so nearby, it makes sense tactically and just as a Templar that we do want to establish a presence here.
>> No. 197494
[X] Go to the Human Village. You need to make sure they’re on your side before someone less trustworthy does.

Socializing is go.
>> No. 197497
>>197489
You're at 5/7 days. You're almost back at full strength, though you are probably still 'mortal'. You could confidently fight a few reapers.
>> No. 197502
[x] Go to the Human Village. You need to make sure they’re on your side before someone less trustworthy does.

Not one to bandwagon for its own sake, but this does seem better to do sooner than later.

Also, minor quibble but it's Eientei, not Eintei.
>> No. 197503
>>197502
whoops
>> No. 197943
>>197503
Updates when?

Yeah I know, I shouldn't bump. But there's no way the author will find our unending thirst for updates otherwise
>> No. 197944
>>197943
say no more fam
>> No. 197946
[X] Human Village

---

“I’m heading over to the guard station.” You say, standing up and stretching. “They’ve been asking for me to show my face for a while.”

“You might be less than impressed by what you find.” Caleb says. “I’d say there were only two guys who knew what they were doing in the group I was in.”

“Well, that’s part of why I’m going.” You tell him. “I don’t want to be surprised by obsolete gear and amateur training if we need them for something. Considering that nobody else here is likely to do stuff for free if we ask them nicely, I think this will pay off.”

Caleb nods. “Makes sense to me. I’ll wrap up some tests with the sample you gave me, then go work on a spellcard or two before people start jumping me as well.”

“I’m heading out to the radio tower that Yuuka told us about.” Junko says, turning over a buckler in her hands before stowing it away. “I’ve got a good feeling about it.”

“Anything in particular, or just a feeling?” You venture.

“Call it an educated guess.” She shrugs. “The basic model I put together last night suggests that it’s a locus for something, which happens to be consistent with what Hina said. Hopefully it’s not just radio waves, or I’m going to feel real silly.”

“Alright then. Did either of you pick up any other areas of interest?”

“Well, there’s a few tangles in the vicinity of Youkai Mountain, but you don’t really need to be a chaos mage to guess that they’re up to something. It’s pretty much all from before we showed up, anyways.” Junko pauses. “There was something on the Hill of the Nameless, but Raiko just explained that it was Medicine.”

“Anything elsewhere?” You ask.

“Nothing specific.” Junko shakes her head. “Our arrival shook things up all over Gensokyo. There’s also lots of other chaos mages masking the ripples. Mamizou, Suwako, and Remilia are the ones that immediately come to mind, but after last night I’ll be able to tell if something big is on the way. Don’t worry about it for now.”

---

It doesn’t take long for you to find the guardhouse, but you do spend some time standing in front of it. You’ve heard a few times by now that the Village owes its continued existence to the Hakurei, and now that you see what the center of human military power in Gensokyo looks like, you’re inclined to agree.

The guard headquarters consists of a few modest wood and stone buildings surrounded by a stone wall near the center of the village. Compared to what you’re used to, you’re at a loss for words. Actually, that’s not quite right. Plenty of words spring to mind, but most of them are unflattering for what’s supposed to be the center of human security in Gensokyo.

While it appears reasonably well-maintained, the construction simply isn’t secure enough. It would be a simple matter to scale the walls even without flight, and there aren’t enough sentries posted to deter would-be infiltrators. There aren’t any magical defenses you can detect, which means that either the villagers are supremely skilled at implementing them or don’t have them at all. Something tells you it’s the latter.

You take a deep breath and walk inside. The rank and file guards startle and snap nervous salutes as they see you approach, but otherwise do not impede your approach. It seems you’ve been expected.

“Good morning.” You say to a pair of guards standing about. “Would you mind pointing me towards-”

“McGallagher!” Meira calls out, from behind you. “Good to see you. I’ll take it from here, gentlemen. I’m sure there’s a lot you’ll want to know, Executor.”

“I suppose you’ve been speaking with Keine if you’ve heard that.” You say as she leads you into the largest building in the complex. You’d personally prefer just McGallagher, but you’re willing to use the opportunity if they want to admire your rank.

“She’s the most capable leader in the Village, despite her unfortunate condition.” Meira says. “Now that you are here, though, I believe that we will benefit from even stronger leadership.”

Before you can respond, however, you arrive at Meira’s office and she ushers you inside. The room is austere, with aging wooden furniture and a handful of calligraphy scrolls as decoration.

“So.” Meira begins, sitting down. “You need to be filled in on our capabilities and current situation. Furthermore, Keine has informed me that a grave threat to the whole of Gensokyo has recently appeared, and that you and your comrades are crucial to fighting it.”

You nod. “That’s the essence of it. Did you hear any further details about the threat?”

“Only that it’s called the Filth and that it’s basically an extremely dangerous magical disease that can infect anything and anyone.” Meira answers. “The Guard has dealt with occult plagues before, but frankly speaking, even if it’s only half as dangerous as what Keine described, we won’t be able to stop it without help.”

“That’s why we’re here.” You tell her. “It’s a virulent threat, but one that can be fought back. However, in an enclosed space like Gensokyo, we’ll need everyone to be prepared to have a good chance of survival.”

Meira grunts. “As I suspected, Reimu and her spellcards won’t be saving us this time. Don’t worry, though. This isn’t our first fight, and we’re prepared to do whatever is necessary for the safety of the Villagers.”

A warm smile spreads across your face. “Of course. So, what are your numbers and equipment?”

“We have close to one hundred active Guardsmen, with about as many villagers who we could call upon as militia. In total, that’s about 4% of the population.”

That’s a pretty large proportion, though understandable for a smaller farming community surrounded on all sides, including downwards, by Youkai.

“We have twenty-five serviceable rifles and just enough ammunition to train an equal number of marksmen.” Meira goes on. “Kotohime is one of them, and believe it or not, is our best shot.”

“Compound bows and crossbows make up the rest of our ranged capability, and we don’t have to worry about running out of those. Virtually everyone here is at least competent with one of the two, and I’d estimate that 50 Guardsmen are good enough with them to be considered specialists.”

“That leaves around 25 of us as close combat specialists. yours truly included.” Meira says as she rests her hand on the pommel of her sword. “Once again, we’re not going to run out of spears and we all have a basic competence with them, but it takes uncommon skill and courage to go face to face with these monsters.”

You nod. “I’m aware. Before today, I was worried that the majority of the Guard would be fighting at close range. Doing so against the Filth would be... ill advised, to say nothing of more conventional foes.”

“As for armor, we rely mainly on wooden and cloth armor.” Meira continues. “We have a few sets of metal armor, but there hasn’t been a need for them in decades.”

It makes sense; Culling beasts is different than fighting a war. With what’s looming in the future, you anticipate a need for more effective personal armor.

“Do you have any Guardsmen trained in more advanced specialties?” You go on. “Field medicine, cursebreaking, combat magic, and so on.”

She frowns, giving you the impression she was dreading that question. “We do not have as many as we should.” Meira admits. “The Village as a whole has produced fewer and fewer magic practitioners over time; the protection of the Hakurei led to us growing complacent in that respect. We do have capable healers within our ranks, but we have also become increasingly reliant on Doctor Yagokoro’s services in recent years.”

“It does make some sense, with the Hakurei blocking open conflict.” You say. “What about practitioners like Marisa or Alice? Are they not aligned with the Village?”

“Only loosely, and there are only a handful around.” Meira says. “The two you mentioned are willing to fight for us whenever an incident comes around, but ordinary people are too suspicious of any magic - even the practical sort. It’s why almost all of them live outside the village walls.”

“Is there some sort of stigma against using magic among the Villagers?” You ask.

Meira frowns. “Unfortunately so. The popular superstition is that magic is simply bad luck. As far as most people know, it’s unpredictable, prone to backfire, and draws dangerous amounts of attention from the smarter Youkai.” She glances around the room before continuing. “Particularly the lady in purple.”

You give the slightest of nods in response. Yukari is almost certainly keeping an eye on you right now, but you see no reason to distress Meira with that.

You decide to change the subject. “It seems that the Village doesn’t have a strong magical tradition anymore. If that’s the case, how did Marisa and Alice achieve their current mastery? They’re among the brightest mages I’ve ever met.”

“All we know about Marisa is that when she was very young, she wandered into the Forest of Magic and somehow found a teacher instead of a hungry Youkai.” Meira answers. “We’ve never identified the teacher, and Marisa doesn’t mention them anymore. Whatever happened between them, I suspect her progress now is largely driven by a desire to stand equal to Reimu.”

You think Marisa’s gotten close as an ordinary human can get through her own efforts. You couldn’t match what you’ve read of Reimu’s feats.

“As for Alice...” She sighs. “I don’t think anyone knows for certain where she even came from. My guess is that she’s the daughter and lone survivor of a family of extreme survivalists who felt the need to rough it in the Forest. Whatever her background may be, I’ve got no quarrel to pick with her so long as she’s human and plans to remain that way.”

“Is that a problem with most mages here?” You ask. “Trying to become Revenants or Vampires or something else for a longer life and more power?”

“According to our records, yes.” Meira says. “Most villagers who start reading deeper into occultism tend to end up as some manner of monster or simply dead.”


“Huh.” You say. “That’s troubling. It’s also not at all normal. I mean, Keine’s a therianthrope, but she’s a well-grounded and modest person. Mokou, despite having precisely the sort of immortality that the hubristic sort is desperate for, is still on our side, right?”

“They are, but the general public is still wary of them.” Meira says, shrugging. “Keine is respected for all that she does for the Village, but people still keep her at arm’s length because of her condition. The Hieda are the only family that goes out of its way to invite her over. Meanwhile, Mokou lives in a shack she built for herself in the Bamboo Forest to avoid social contact. They just don’t inspire people.”

Your image of the Human Village is shifting from that of the last bastion of humanity to a glorified cattle pasture. Is this what Ran meant when she told you of what the other Youkai were up to? You can easily imagine them trying to subvert any mage of note and black-bagging the uncooperative ones. It was, after all, routine practice for the major Societies up to only a few centuries ago.

You clear your throat. “Are you aware of any... attempted Youkai interference in Village or Guard affairs?”

She snorts in response. “Aware? I know it’s happening. Anyone with any idea of how Gensokyo works understands that this place is meant to be a paradise only for the Youkai. We’re only here because they thought it was more convenient than smuggling people to eat through the Barrier all the time. All that’s changed now is that the knife is to our back instead of our face.”

“I’m one woman, Executor.” She says, years of frustration and weariness in those four words. “One woman with a sword and a small group of brave men and women. There’s only so much we can do when we’re locked inside this valley, with Youkai on both sides of the wall working to keep us paralyzed.”

So even some Villagers are aware of the situation Ran described to you. She was even so helpful as to suggest a solution: become their champion. You could pull it off, too. But since Ran directly told you about the possibility, you’d wager that she wants you to pursue it. That means that Yukari expects to somehow benefit from it, and you can’t imagine that’s a good thing.

“You’re not alone in this fight anymore.” You say, voice firm. “We’re here and we’ve got your back. You won’t abandon the people of Gensokyo, and neither will I.”

The most genuine smile you’ve yet seen from Meira spreads across her face. “Thank you, Executor. With you on our side, I have more hope for the Village than I ever had. So please, if there’s anything else you’d like to know, please tell me.”

---

Topics of inquiry (select 2)

[ ] Kappa technology
[ ] Templar involvement
[ ] Previous conflicts
[ ] Youkai in/around the Village
[ ] Hakurei (specify)
>> No. 197948
[x] Previous conflicts
[x] Youkai in/around the Village
>> No. 197949
...WELL. If busting some youkai heads wasn't already part of the plan, it sure as hell is now. Beating the Filth isn't enough, we need to leave these people better off than we found them. With that in mind...

[X] Youkai in/around the Village

They might not be the greatest threat in the grand scheme of things, but they're a problem that we can solve far more easily.

[X] Templar involvement

Might as well figure out where we've been and what we have to work with.
>> No. 197950
Forgot to add a separate vote

Disclose Chosen status? Y/N
>> No. 197951
File 150571368346.jpg - (2.05MB, 2704x1000, Eientei defense plan B.jpg) [iqdb]
197951
I thought finding the AIs should be our priority but this... youkai buffet that masquerades as a village is in dire need of help.

[x] Kappa technology

Still, I do want to find Ruukoto. And see how much are the kappa willing to give.

[x] Templar involvement
We still have the mission to find the mission templars, right? We only found out about the one that was in here from the beginning.

[x] Previous conflicts

How much experience, or lack thereof, do they have? Are they ready for the judgement day?
>> No. 197952
>>197950
[x] N

We don't them to depend on her too much. And they'll surely start asking for 'favors' if they find out the powerful human is effectively immortal too.
>> No. 197953
[x] N
[x] Previous conflicts
[x] Hakurei (How much has their interference weaken the humans of the village)
>> No. 197954
[x] Templar involvement
[x] Previous conflicts
[x] Youkai in/around the Village
[x] N
>> No. 197955
[x] Templar involvement
[x] Previous conflicts
[x] Youkai in/around the Village
[x] N
>> No. 197966
[x] Templar involvement
[x] Youkai in/around the Village
[x] N
>> No. 197970
[X]N
[X] Kappa technology
[X] Youkai in/around the Village
>> No. 197983
[x] N
[x] Templar involvement
[x] Previous conflicts

It might raise morale but I don't see much benefit for us in disclosing her Chosen status. While I also want to find Ruukuto, asking about kappa technology in this context seems rude given that the villagers want our help. But pursuing a lead on our mission related to the Templar descendants does seem worth doing.

And huh, is Alice still a human in this universe? Or is that just something Meira assumed (I'm not sure about Charlotte) from how she acts unusually human-like for a youkai?
>> No. 197985
>>197983
As far as she knows, Alice is pretty human. That is to say, she and Marisa are closer to your 'average' human than mages who have made lots of shady modifications to their bodies like Byakuren and Patchouli.
>> No. 198227
[X] Previous
[X] Youkai:
[X] Templar:

---

“Let’s begin with the conflicts the Village has been through.” You say.

“Keine would be able to explain the finer details, but I suppose I can run you through what’s happened.” Meira says. “The Village has been through wars with the oni, the tengu, and the vampires since the Barrier went up.”

“Vampires. Of course.” You grimace, remembering your time in Romania. “That must have been a disaster.”

“None of those conflicts were pleasant, but the vampires were particularly... destructive.” Meira replies, taking a moment to choose her words. “Are you familiar with larger conflicts?”

“Yes.” You tell her. Your only motion comes from your hands clenching. “I am acutely aware of what vampires do when they think they are a culture and not just a disease.”

She sighs. “I got the sense that you were. Still, I should start from the beginning.”

“There was a lot of chaos when the Barrier first went up. People had to deal with suddenly being isolated in this valley, unfamiliar youkai were everywhere, and the land itself seemed to be changing. The oni, being the inebriated marauders that they are, looked at the vulnerable state of things and decided it was a great time to go raiding.”

“Were any of today’s well-known oni involved in that?” You ask. Suika and Kasen seem friendly enough, but most demons don’t get hung up over killing humans.

“Suika denies it, and given what she is, I’m willing to to take her at her word. Yuugi, though...” A scowl crosses Meira’s face. “Well, there’s a reason she spends most of her time in the Underground. There aren’t any others I can think of.”

“Anyways, my great-grandmother and a few other people who were Jingu rallied the most effective Human resistance, but they still made life hell for a good while until Hakurei Izumo got off her hill and the Templars showed up.”

“I need to hear more about that last part.” You say. “How did they show up?”

“Same way everyone else does. People just ‘appear’ seemingly out of thin air around Gensokyo from time to time. If we’re lucky, we reach them before the youkai do.”

That still sounds very shady. As such, a culprit immediately comes to mind.

“Could it be the work of Yu-.” You start before attempting to backpedal as fear flashes across Meira’s face. “Um. Might the, uh, ‘Lady in Purple’ be responsible?”

“I have little knowledge of her plots and even less desire to gain any.” Meira says, taking a deep breath to calm herself. “Those who draw her gaze tend to not find happy ends.”

You recall your dreams of trains cruising through void and insects drinking your tears. That music box is feeling heavier in your pocket.

“The more fanciful stories say that Izumo led them in a charge down the hill of the shrine to rout the oni at a crucial battle.” Meira continues, oblivious to your unease. “However, other youkai smelled blood in the water, and the oni wanted a second fight.”

“The tengu and kappa started fighting to topple the oni, and we got caught in it again.” Meira says. “Both sides raided Villagers for food, equipment, and slave labor. Izumo was killed in the fighting, and the Templars suffered a few losses as well. This time, the war ended when a new Hakurei negotiated an end that established our current borders. The oni got the Underground, the tengu and kappa got Youkai mountain, and we got our humble village.”

“What happened to the Villagers who were still in captivity?” You ask.

“The Templars launched several rescue missions through enemy lines.” Meira says. “I doubt they got everyone home, but they did a damn good job. We have people living in the village today whose ancestors owe their lives to the courage of your Order.”

“Then they truly deserved to be called Templar.” You say, inclining your head.

“Undoubtedly.” Meira smiles, though you notice a flicker of sadness. “Sadly, the remaining Templars all perished fighting against the vampires.”

“A cabal of them had been scheming to conquer Gensokyo and used the intervening years to infiltrate the village and force lesser youkai into their service. Their first strike devastated the Village and killed Futaba, and things went downhill from there. Another Hakurei died to stop the Village from getting burned down, and we were whittled down through non-stop raids and ambushes.”

“Eventually, we found out that the vampires were searching for something in the outskirts of Gensokyo. Exactly what isn’t known, but the important part is that they didn’t get their hands on it. The Hakurei at the time and all the remaining Templar went into the mountains after them, and nobody came back.”

You frown. “What stopped people from going in after them and finding out what happened?”

“Things become... strange around the Barrier.” Meira says, shifting in her seat. “You can fly straight forward and find yourself behind your starting point. You can wander for a day and find that only a few minutes passed - or step in for a few minutes and go missing for a week. The Hakurei are the only people who I’d trust to lead me there.”

So you’re out of luck in that regard until Yukari sees fit to release Reimu.

“If you want to pay your respects to the fallen, I would suggest visiting Muenzuka.” Meira offers, sensing your disappointment. “It’s where the fallen were buried, and at least some of the Templar are surely buried there. Now, there are hostile Youkai in the vicinity - ghosts, maneaters, and a particularly nasty Tsukumogami - but someone of your caliber has nothing to fear from them.”

“The rest of the war was brief. It seems that the leader of the vampires was killed during that fight, and his underlings weren’t capable of stepping up. Other youkai pitched in as well, and we eventually managed to all but eradicate the vampires.”

“Sometimes you have to make a point of it.” You tell her with an indifferent tone. You’ve run out of sympathy for would-be youkai warlords.

“So there you have it.” Meira says. “We survived, but lost most of the people and knowledge that made it possible. We made a sort of peace with our remaining neighbors, except it’s coming to resemble domestication more and more as time goes on.”

“Why don’t you tell me more about those neighbors, then.” You suggest. “Specifically, the ones who deal with the Village the most. I’m particularly curious as to what involvement the Scarlets had in the vampire conflict.”

“Their manor didn’t appear until after the war, and they were a canny enough bunch to keep their heads down in the aftermath.”Meira says. “At least, until they tried that stunt with the red mist, but then Reimu and Marisa sorted them out and they’ve been civil enough since then. The only interesting thing we’ve heard about them has been an increase in visits to the bamboo forest over the past several years, but that’s probably just for their librarian’s health.”

Remilia appears to be responsible for a multiple-century-old child. Their ties with Eientei are something to pay attention to, although you suspect that they also have some relationship with Mokou. For now, you have other questions to ask.
>> No. 198228
“What can you tell me about Mamizou and her gang?” You ask.

“She’s displaced or recruited most of the human crooks in the Village.” Meira tells you. “Because of that, she’s been able to amass a fortune and push her nose further in our affairs than even the Tengu. We can’t track her because of her skill with disguises and grift, but it’s easy to tell that she’s trying to expand her influence and undermine ours.”

“Exactly how is she doing that?”

“Bribery, mostly.” Meira answers. “She’s a bit like the Moriya in that way, dangling things from outside the Barrier in front of people. For the few of us who aren’t so easily persuaded, she digs around for blackmail material or just fabricates it.”

“Is anyone important compromised?”

“Mamizou’s net is wide, but she hasn’t reached the real movers and shakers of the Village yet.” Meira says. “Keine and I are too stubborn, Kotohime’s too crazy, and Akyuu is rich and influential enough to stalemate her.”

“That’s good, but what about people like Reimu and Marisa?”

“Marisa, for all her other flaws, is canny enough to keep her distance. Reimu, though...” Meira frowns. “She’s been taking gifts of cash and booze, but it’s probably nothing serious. It would take more than that to avoid her wrath. Failing that, there’s still her patron. She’s known to be extremely possessive of Hakurei shamans.”

“Is Reimu’s shrine so unpopular that she can’t support herself off it?”

Meira frowns as she thinks about the situation. “She’s been getting more visitors, and Keine even set up a small stipend for her. The problem is that Reimu’s also been trying more and more get-rich-quick schemes that all fail and set her back.”

“How have her religious competitors been behaving?” You ask.

“They’ve been behaving well, for the most part.” Meira says. “Both groups like to proselytize in the Village, and we let them because they’re sensible enough to avoid causing real trouble. Neither has many serious believers from us; most folks aren’t cut out for hermit training or living in a den of youkai.”

“Do they try to get involved in Village affairs?”

“Byakuren’s too much of a bleeding heart not to.” Meira says, dismissively. “I’d like to say that her heart’s in the right place, but her mind is still stuck in whatever era she originally came from.”

You watch her jaw tense as she sighs. “She keeps pushing the idea that we can all hold hands together, but the first rule of Gensokyo is that humans and youkai are on separate sides. Eventually, she’ll have to pick one, and it’s clear where her sympathies lie.”

Is Byakuren aware of how many people expect her to fail?

“Miko keeps itching to be in charge of something.” Meira goes on. “She usually acts all aloof and detached, but she’ll drop hints about how much better off we’d be if we put her in control. To be fair, she’s a lot more savvy than Byakuren, and probably would have our back in the event of another disaster - but only because she can’t rule over us if we’re dead.”

That may be a naive assumption considering the presence of Seiga, but you’ll avoid mentioning that for now.

“Anything noteworthy about their subordinates?” You ask.

“The main thing that comes to mind is keeping them apart when they visit.” She shudders. “Futo got excited once during a squabble with Ichirin, and people are still finding plates lodged around the village.”

“How about the tsukumogami village?”

“Raiko was always friendly, but having more tsukumogami joining her is changing things. They’re a new faction in their own right, distinct from us, the tanuki, and the rest of the minor youkai, and they’re getting more eager to throw their growing weight around. Raiko and Mamizou had a spellcard fight over the tanuki using baby tsukumogami as spies, but apart from that, they’ve been doing alright. No real complaints from us against them.”

Raiko does strike you as someone who would take it personally. She’s a leader who cares for her people.

“What about those minor youkai you mentioned?”

“There’s not much to talk about.” Meira says. “Most of them live around the Village, usually with a token effort at disguise. They’re allowed inside as long as they aren’t known troublemakers, and many make a name for themselves at the marketplace. There’s a mermaid who sells interesting stones and salvage from the lakebed, and a tsukumogami named Kogasa who’s one of the better blacksmiths I’ve had the pleasure of knowing. Some of the guards have equipment forged by her. Of course, not all of them are so well-behaved.”

“Yeah, I’ve run into some of them.” You sigh. Sekibanki comes to mind, but so does her request.

“I’ve heard.” Meira offers you a sympathetic look. “You’ve been putting them in their place, though, so I don’t expect you’ll be having more trouble from them. Just try to do so with spellcards from now on and there shouldn’t be a problem.”

“As for other notable youkai who show their faces around the Village, Iku has a habit of spending her off hours drinking and dancing here, Ran makes occasional shopping trips, and the Moriya come over to proselytize.”

“Does Yuuka have dealings with the Village?” You ask.

Meira winces. “Thankfully not. With how many Villagers are among her victims, we’d prefer it stay that way.”

“Hold on, victims?”

“She’s killed many people in her time here, Executor. I don’t have an exact figure, but I’d wager she’s got the most blood on her hands for anyone still around in Gensokyo. During those conflicts I told you about, she’d slaughter people on both sides of battles that were too close to her territory.”

“I’ll do my best to keep that in mind.” You tell her, still uncertain of how to react. “Thank you.”

Meira smiles in response. “It’s the least I can do. Now, we’re both busy women, so I won’t ask for more of your time today.”

“I’m always ready if you need me.” You assure her.

---

You sit down beneath the Dragon’s statue in the center of the Village, watching the crowd pass by and thinking about Yuuka.

Even with the secrets and regrets you sense her carrying, you still trust her more than most of the other people you’ve met here. Whatever she may have done in the past, you’re sure that the present Yuuka isn’t a senseless killer.

Junko’s voice prods you from your thoughts. “Charlotte, you there?”

“Yeah, still in the Village.” You reply, looking around. “Just finished with Meira. Are you nearby?”

“I’m actually still in the middle of the forest, still sitting at the top of the radio tower.”

“Ah. So you were right about it being special?”

“Yup. It seems to be attuned to local Anima patterns. I’d conjecture this has something to do with all the fairies swarming around. Anyways, I figured out a way to interface with it, and I picked up fragments of a distinctly Templar distress signal coming from the direction of Youkai Mountain.”

“You’re certain?”

“Yeah. The communication protocol is outdated, but it’s still a match. It’s a transponder for a Templar-affiliated AI named RK2.”

“That’s the one I’m after.”

“I figured. So, considering that Hina and I have both detected imminent misfortune around Youkai Mountain and that we’ve just uncovered an AI that has been stuck there for who knows how long, I think we ought to get some answers from the most likely culprits.”

“How are we supposed to get anywhere near Youkai Mountain without tengu coming down on us?” You object.

Before you can continue, you spot the petite figure of a kappa stepping through the crowd on her way to the marketplace.

“Actually, I might be able to find a lead right now.”

---

[ ] Track down Nitori to find leads on RK2
[ ] Track down Mamizou to bargain for intel
[ ] Visit Muenzuka to find deceased Templar
[ ] Other
>> No. 198229
[x] Track down Nitori to find leads on RK2

I feel like this one it's more imminent than the other two, considering RK2 distress signal and the hole misfortune bit.
>> No. 198230
Lost Bees updated! Today is a good day.

[x] Track down Nitori to find leads on RK2

The dead and tanuki aren't going anywhere. This sounds time-critical.
>> No. 198231
It's alive!

[X] Track down Nitori to find leads on RK2

Not sure how cooperative she'll be, but it sure is convenient timing.
>> No. 198232
[x] Track down Nitori to find leads on RK2
>> No. 198234
[X] Track down Nitori to find leads on RK2

Time-sensitive quest is a go!
>> No. 198242
[X] Track down Nitori to find leads on RK2
>> No. 198396
File 151322596287.jpg - (42.69KB, 450x600, 3d04cf27020bba1717c33a020bdcfd27.jpg) [iqdb]
198396
You tail the Kappa through the crowd to a section of the market with more youkai manning the shops. Eventually, she leads you to a storefront crammed with hardware and customers.

“Boss, I’m back!” The Kappa announces as she steps behind the counter.

Another Kappa, whom you deduce to be the boss, gives her a brief wave before turning back to her current client. You recognize her face as that of Nitori Kawashiro - and you inhale sharply as you identify her with the Kappa from the fragment of RK2’s video.

To avoid attracting attention, you get in line with the other villagers and wait. You take the time to observe your surroundings. Despite the volume of people visiting the shop, all transactions are handled without fuss. Business is good, and likely has been for quite a while. The goods themselves consist of appliances ranging from humidifiers to grow lights.

“Next!” Nitori calls, and you step forward as her previous customer leaves.

“What can I getcha, miss...” Her voice trails off as her eyes settle on your face. “Templar.”

“McGallagher is fine.” You say, returning her salesperson’s smile.

“Hope you’ve enjoyed the Village so far.” Nitori says. “So, are you looking to buy anything?”

Something about her smile hints to you that she’s well aware of the situation of the village, but you ignore that.

”Actually, I have something of a business proposal for you.” You tell her.

That raises an eyebrow. “Concerning what?” Nitori asks.

“Acquisition of robotics and nuclear technology.” You answer, keeping your gaze steady.

Nitori blinks first. “I see. Why don’t we continue this discussion in the back room?” She asks.

You nod, and Nitori leads you further into the store after waving another kappa over to cover her shift. You don’t detect any weapons on them, but you aren’t lowering your guard yet.

“I take it you’re not interested in placing a bid on the Hisoutenko.” Nitori says, opening a fridge and taking a cucumber.

“No. The unit I’m looking for was taken from the Hakurei Shrine by you.” You tell her, crossing your arms.

“So”? Nitori gives you a suspicious glare as she bites into the cucumber with a crunch. “Not sure how you know about it, but it was a private transaction. I don’t see why you’re entitled to any details.”

“I represent the proper owner of the artificial intelligence.” You say. “We want it returned to us.”

“You couldn’t have wanted it that badly if it ended up here.” Nitori replies, shrugging.

You’re starting to resent how, even in a pocket dimension ruled over by a creepy, dream-invading purple woman that was utterly unknown less than a week ago, you still cannot escape having to clean up professor Okazaki’s messes.

“That’s beside the point.” You say, releasing a deep breath.

Nitori finds a chair to sit on, raising her height to your chin level. “All I’m hearing is a lack of convincing reasons to offer more information.”

As frustrating as she’s being, you are dead certain that Nitori does have more to offer you. You just need to figure out the best way to pry it from her.

---

[ ] (Lie) Reactor failure is imminent and its distress beacon is near Youkai Mountain. Do the math.
[ ] (Truth) Both Hina and my colleague have detected imminent misfortune in its vicinity.
[ ] (Spellcard) Why don’t we take this outside, Nitori?
[ ] (Leave) I’m getting it back, with or without you.
>> No. 198399
[x] (Truth) Both Hina and my colleague have detected imminent misfortune in its vicinity.

I feel like Nitori might trust Hina's word more than our own.
>> No. 198401
File 15132521215.jpg - (242.41KB, 749x900, like this?.jpg) [iqdb]
198401
[x] (Truth) Both Hina and my colleague have detected imminent misfortune in its vicinity.

> Hisoutenko

...go on.
>> No. 198407
File 151325906886.png - (85.03KB, 492x280, serveimage.png) [iqdb]
198407
[x] (Doubt) Getting awfully pushy against a paying customer. Wonder why, huh?
>> No. 198408
[x] (Spellcard) Why don’t we take this outside, Nitori?

Beating her up would put a smile in my face.
>> No. 198409
[x] (Truth) Both Hina and my colleague have detected imminent misfortune in its vicinity.

Might as well try polite to start with, we can always take this outside if she refuses to play ball.
>> No. 198410
By the way, the first thread of this story is gone, the only thing it pops up, at least for me, is an error. https://www.touhou-project.com/th/res/182674.html

Was this your doing, is it an error, is it a purge by the mods?
>> No. 198411
>>198410
I didn't delete it. I'm guessing it got archived or something.
>> No. 198412
>>198410

It fell off the board but hasn't reached the archive yet. You can try bugging the mods about it but I doubt you'll get far.

In the meantime, behold the magic of the Wayback Machine:

http://web.archive.org/web/20150909101252/https://www.touhou-project.com/th/res/182674.html
>> No. 198414
>>198399
Agreed, though it feels a little metagamey to pick this since I don’t think Charlotte would know of any friendship between Hina and Nitori. It make sense for them to at least be acquainted, though, both being Youkai Mountain residents.

[x] (Truth) Both Hina and my colleague have detected imminent misfortune in its vicinity.
>> No. 198416
[x] (Truth) Both Hina and my colleague have detected imminent misfortune in its vicinity.
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