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File 154109902381.jpg - (213.17KB, 850x638, village diorama by rekishitai.jpg) [iqdb]
199414 No. 199414
Generations ago, before Gensokyo was sealed away, the patriarch of the Sen family led an expedition into the rolling hills along its southwestern side, where the trees grew so thick that it was pitch-black even at noon, and behind each tree lurked a malicious youkai. The legends say he and his brothers and cousins went out with many amulets adorned upon their necks, and armed with crane-feather arrows and blades made from the precious iron of the Youkai Mountain.

They emerged weeks later, battered and scarred but alive to a person, and announced news of their victory. Such fear did they strike into the malevolent spirits of the forest, they announced, that even the foul winds didn’t dare blow while they were there. The governor was so pleased with the Sen family’s success that he granted their dynasty a great swathe of land in the rolling hills between the two mountain ranges.

Then, the Great Hakurei Barrier went up. It was nice in a way, since it meant getting away from the watchful eye of the centralized imperial government, but it also took away the fear of the Shogun deciding you were a bit too uppity and deciding to kill your entire family. Details get much more fuzzy around there — there were border disputes, suspicious land purchases, what may or may not have been a civil war, and so on.

The point being, that sort of thing doesn’t happen much anymore, thankfully. The humans of Gensokyo have reached a tense but solid peace, and the Human Village has grown into more of a large town, with tiny new villages sprouting up around it. Things are comfortable enough that folks have even started growing luxuries like tea and sugar and silk, and some of the braver humans have even started trading with the various types living on the Youkai Mountain, providing both valuable metals and various exotic knick-knacks.

Which ultimately brings the subject to me, Morozumi Goro. Our family is the head of the small village of Magarimachi in those same rolling hills, with a few hundred people living there. The local elders handle most of the domestic affairs, but it’s up to us to make sure the village and the capital-v Village stay updated on each other and don’t step on each other’s toes. The family does alright, and I get plenty of opportunities to travel around, whether for work or just because nothing much is happening at home.

Directions are:

[ ] North, in the direction of the Youkai Mountain, and some new market town causing a hubbub. It’s called Amaden, or something?
[ ] South, towards the Great River that runs between the two mountain ranges of Gensokyo. There’s a neighboring village that earns its keep through fishing and trading, and you’ve stayed on good terms with them.
[ ] West, towards the Human Village proper. There’s always something happening there, whether it’s checking the market, listening to gossip, or rubbing elbows with people.
[ ] East, towards the ends of the Human Village’s circle of influence. The only people living out there are the loggers and trappers who, frankly, can be scarier than any youkai you’ve seen.
[ ] Center, right were you already are. Check in on the family and the dirt-grubbing millet farmers.
Expand all images
>> No. 199415
Hm, interesting premise. Pretty different from the standard fare, certainly.

[x] Center, right where you already are. Check in on the family and the dirt-grubbing millet farmers.

Might as well learn more about our character and where he comes from.
>> No. 199417
This is my entry for this year's NaNoWriMo contest at >>/gensokyo/15589

I'm now going to attempt to do the timer without messing it up.

Time remaining: :: Timer ended at: 2018/11/02(Fri)20:30

>> No. 199419
[x] North, in the direction of the Youkai Mountain, and some new market town causing a hubbub. It’s called Amaden, or something?

A spiritual successor to Kinu Yasumi's almanac?!

Tell us what happened to Iwao. Please.
>> No. 199420
[x] North, in the direction of the Youkai Mountain, and some new market town causing a hubbub. It’s called Amaden, or something?
>> No. 199421
[X] East, towards the ends of the Human Village’s circle of influence. The only people living out there are the loggers and trappers who, frankly, can be scarier than any youkai you’ve seen.

The mountain is familiar territory. I want to go to a part of Gensokyo we've never seen before.
>> No. 199425
[x] Center, right where you already are. Check in on the family and the dirt-grubbing millet farmers.
>> No. 199435
[x] North, in the direction of the Youkai Mountain, and some new market town causing a hubbub. It’s called Amaden, or something?

Now get Fluffy Mask to do more Glutton so we can have more Amaden.
>> No. 199438
[X] South, towards the Great River that runs between the two mountain ranges of Gensokyo. There’s a neighboring village that earns its keep through fishing and trading, and you’ve stayed on good terms with them.

I've always wondered how would small groups of humans survive in Gensokyo.

So far, the answer is: they don't.
>> No. 199444
[x] South, towards the Great River that runs between the two mountain ranges of Gensokyo. There’s a neighboring village that earns its keep through fishing and trading, and you’ve stayed on good terms with them.

I wanna see something new.
>> No. 199451
[X] East, towards the ends of the Human Village’s circle of influence. The only people living out there are the loggers and trappers who, frankly, can be scarier than any youkai you’ve seen.

I wanna see those weirdos who live at the edge of society. How do they not get eaten
>> No. 199452
Closing votes, we're off to the North!
>> No. 199455
File 154118874384.jpg - (553.31KB, 1024x769, game is Emperor Rise of the Middle Kingdom.jpg) [iqdb]
199455
[x] North, in the direction of the Youkai Mountain, and some new market town causing a hubbub. It’s called Amaden, or something?


On paper, Amaden was technically a semi-autonomous trade outpost at the edge of the Youkai Mountain. In reality, it had become a commercial hub, independent in all but name, and had grown quite a reputation. It presented itself as a place of wealth and advancement, where kappa, tengu, and humans could mingle to make deals, share ideas, and develop projects. That was unrelated to its actual reputation, which was more concerned with the many bars, brothels, and other red-light appeals said to reside there.

That was why, when I told my wife that I was going to visit Amaden, her eyes narrowed at me. I had a wife, by the way. Her name’s Yae, and although she was short and had a baby face and adorably chubby cheeks, everyone had learned it was dangerous to underestimate her. Her small size made her very good at hitting you right in the center of mass if you made her angry.

“I was just thinking about the crow tengu that came by a few weeks ago, the one who said she was part of the Trade Association. She said they were trying to gather more information on what the Human Village produced. It could be a good chance to make a little extra money. And here, this is all I’m taking with me. Enough for lunch and a little extra,” I said as I showed her a thin stack of small bills.

“A little extra, you say?”

“Aw, c’mon. You know this wouldn’t be enough to buy a girl as nice and sweet as you,” I said, leaning in to give her a peck on the cheek.

Her narrowed-eye glare broke as she snickered. “True,” she stroked her chin, pondering the mischief I could get up to, “but what if you get tempted by the chance to pet a wolf tengu’s tail?”

“You’ve heard about those tail cafes?” I said.

Yae let out another snicker of laughter, then yanked a bill off of the top of the stack.

“Just go on, you little scamp. And if you get up to any trouble, I’ll know,” she said, grinning wide and returning the peck on the cheek.

I took a moment to pack my bags before heading out. I took copies of any paperwork I thought I’d need, including the deed to the village and proof that I was connected with the Human Village, as well as a large dagger with a scabbard that went around my waist. I had never found need to use it for anything other than cutting paper, but as far as the Human Village was concerned, if you were a landowning family then you needed a ceremonial weapon to prove it, and if they didn’t have the time and materials for everyone to make swords, then you’d have a dagger and you’d wear it with pride.

With one more kiss on Yae’s cheek, and one more teasing warning from her with a waggle of her finger, I left the house. Or rather, I left the door that opened onto the small Morozumi compound, a few buildings surrounded by red earthen walls with a large garden in the middle. Leaving always took a few extra minutes, saying goodbye to my mother working in the garden, and my brother on the porch, asking them both about how my father was doing. Despite going gray-haired, my father hadn’t let age slow him down at all, and while he was very diligent, he was sometimes diligently batty. My mother would have to talk him down during family meetings when he kept going on about “demesne limits” and “de jure ducal claims.”

I made my way over to the stable and hopped up on my horse, Kiso. By far the best part of my meager rank was being able to afford a horse. The hamlets seemed to flow away from me like a lazy river as I rode north, following one of the Great River’s branches. It took a few hours, but it was still late morning as I saw the borders of Amaden off in the distance.

As I drew closer, I started to hear the noise, too. A low, rumbling din of conversation, foot traffic, the hefting and dropping of wooden crates and the sound of cargo rafts creaking in the river. It was almost overwhelming compared to life in a small village. I shook my head, trying not to gawk. Other people were sharing the road with me now, and I didn’t want to look like I’d just fallen off the daikon cart.

A bored-looking wolf tengu with bags under her eyes was sitting at a booth with a banner labeled “Visitor Certification — Second District” hanging above it, wearing the distinctive armband of a Trade Association agent. His frizzy hair and white facial hair made him look a bit like a Samoyed, a detail I kept to myself as I dismounted and walked up to him.

“Just staying for an afternoon? In that case, here’s your receipt for horse storage. That’ll be two yen. Please list your name here and your horse’s name here,” he said, skipping over any beginning parts to our conversation.

He tore a stub off of the bottom of a piece of paper and handed it to me, then shoved a pen and paper in my hands. I let out a quiet grumble. This was why I had brought extra money, I thought. If anyone knew how to nickel-and-dime you, it was a bunch of traders.

“Purpose of your visit?” he said as soon as I handed the filled-out form back to him.

“Be good to Kiso, now,” I said.

“The Trade Association prides itself on protecting all trading equipment, living or otherwise, maintained on its premises, and if said equipment suffers any undue physical or emotional damage you can submit a claim for restitution,” he droned as if reading off an invisible script. He paused, then gave me a look to remind me I hadn’t answered his question.

“Well, good. Ahem. I’m here because I wanted to work with the, uh… so, y’know how some TA tengu came through, looking to work with the villages, find out what they were growing and stuff?” I made vague gestures, wishing I had remembered a name or a proper noun involved. Thankfully, that description seemed to be good enough for the pencil-pusher, who handed me another paper and opened up a map.

“In that case, you’ll want to see the TA Second District offices, right here,” he said, pointing to a building a few blocks straight up from where I was, “ask to speak with their Communal Outreach department. This form is a Mercantile Negotiation permit. It allows you to make business arrangements and deals within the borders of Amaden, but does not entitle you to any transfer of physical goods through Amaden with intent to sell or to establish any permanent or temporary business-to-consumer establishments within the borders of Amaden.”

“Okay?” I said.

“Enjoy your stay, sir,” the nameless bureaucrat said, already turning his attention to the person behind me. I took a quick glance behind me as another wolf tengu with a TA armband came by and took Kiso away. After watching for a few seconds, I saw he was good enough with a horse to relax at least a little.

So this was Amaden, I thought as the sounds of business filled my ears. What a place. It was totally different even from the Human Village proper, and as my feet started to follow along with the flow of people, I was assaulted with advertisements for bars, restaurants, outlet stores, and anything else a person could feasibly spend money on.

[ ] Check out the restaurants. A place like this is sure to have some unique eats.
[ ] Get right to business first.
[ ] Find a place to get some good local gossip. There’s bound to be some absolutely wild stories from here.
[ ] T-t-tail cafes, you say?

This post has been acknowledged and generally approved by Fluffy Mask. Fluffy Mask retains the right to declare any of the above material canon, non-canon, or a shit. Offer not valid on Wednesdays.

Time remaining: :: Timer ended at: 2018/11/03(Sat)21:00

>> No. 199456
[x] T-t-tail cafes, you say?

awoo motherhecker

Don't put a big red button with DO NOT PRESS and expect me not to hammer the fuck out of it.
>> No. 199457
[x] Find a place to get some good local gossip. There’s bound to be some absolutely wild stories from here.

resist fluffy tail
>> No. 199458
[x] Find a place to get some good local gossip. There’s bound to be some absolutely wild stories from here.

Information is power. Rumors are some kind of information, right?

Tail cafes are tempting though
>> No. 199459
[X] T-t-tail cafes, you say?

I already lost to the tail. It has taken me.
>> No. 199463
[x] Find a place to get some good local gossip. There’s bound to be some absolutely wild stories from here.

You guys can't be trusted to marry any girl if you are so easily tempted.
>> No. 199464
>>199463
Well OBVIOUSLY we'd have to marry a girl with a fluffy tail! Don't you know that's the most important indicator of marital success?
>> No. 199466
[X] T-t-tail cafes, you say?

It's not a temptation, it's just a way to let off some steam.

It's no nut November, I guide people to debauchery because I can't.
>> No. 199467
File 154119733671.png - (236.31KB, 704x396, waifu material.png) [iqdb]
199467
[X] T-t-tail cafes, you say?
>> No. 199473
[x] Get right to business first.

Business before pleasure.
>> No. 199491
[x] Find a place to get some good local gossip. There’s bound to be some absolutely wild stories from here.
>> No. 199495
[x] Get right to business first.
>> No. 199498
[X] T-t-tail cafes, you say?
Pleasure before business.
>> No. 199509
Closing votes!

[x] T-t-tail cafes, you say?

in which we succumb to temptation.
>> No. 199515
File 154128476811.jpg - (136.90KB, 640x800, momimomimomimomi.jpg) [iqdb]
199515
Like a fool, I had assumed that if I made a straight shot from the district entrance to the Trade Association office, I’d avoid any of Amaden’s infamous temptations. Any businesses peddling time with pretty girls in one form or another would be, I believed, discreetly hidden from sight a block or two away, rather than right there on the main road with a large banner labeled “Furu-Furu”, a cute young wolf tengu in a sleeveless maid uniform and a pink bow tied up at the base of her swishing, sandy-blonde tail standing out front.

The pretty young wolf smiled straight at me as I passed, a smile that showed off her thin, pale lips and gently blushing cheeks. My head turned on its own to smile back. She gave me a look as if I was the only person out walking right now, and when she raised a hand and subtly beckoned for me to come closer, my feet almost got tangled as they changed course.

“Hello, sir! You must’ve come a long way. Wouldn’t you care to relax a bit?” she chirped.

I had the uncomfortable feeling that I had been pegged, as if the wolf girl knew more about me at a glance than she was letting on. I prepared my excuses.

“Just looking for a light lunch, not anything…” I gave a cough, not knowing how else to tactfully explain what I wasn’t looking for.

“Great!” She clasped my hand in hers. “Furu-Furu is a world-class tapas bar and cafe. Do you like tapas? There’s a special on stuffed peppers today.”

“Tapas? I’m… not familiar,” I muttered. It immediately occurred to me that the safe answer would’ve been to say “no, thank you,” and what I was saying was a little more like plausible deniability.

“They’re all the rage in the Outside World, sir. Come on in and take a seat! I’m Ayu, by the way!”

I hesitated at the doorway, unsure of whether I should give my name. “Goro. Pleased to meet you.”

I couldn’t refuse an invitation now. Well, I easily could’ve, but a part of me didn’t want to. Besides, for all I knew, finding any establishment in Amaden that didn’t include racier extras felt unlikely. From the cut of Ayu’s uniform, it didn’t seem like things could get too unwholesome, at least.

I took the plunge and let her lead me inside. The place seemed nice enough. It was well-lit, clean, with tasteful decoration in the form of potted plants.

“Welcome. What would you like to drink?” asked a wolf tengu woman in a more sober uniform that matched her black-and-white streaked hair and ears. Behind the restaurant podium, she stood looking at us as if we were a couple coming in for a date.

A gesture from Ayu directed my attention to a large blackboard, titled “Furu-Furu Tapas Bar and Tail Cafe.” It was covered with a list of extravagant — and expensive — drinks. Even a plain cup of green tea or coffee cost over twice what it would’ve in the Human Village. I touched my pocket reflexively as I scanned the menu again, my eyes drawn to the words “Tail Cafe.” There was a bit of a knot in my stomach as I realized what I’d just been dragged into.

Ayu tugged on my sleeve, leaning in close like a schoolgirl whispering a secret. “You should try the matcha latte, it’s delicious.”

She wasn’t touching me directly, but she stood near enough that I could feel a slight breeze from her tail wagging. I looked up at the board to find the item. Matcha Latte — Matcha powder, steamed milk, honey. (Made with local tea!) — 3.5 yen.

“Two matcha lattes, then?” The waitress was already scribbling in the order.

I cocked my head at the mention of two drinks, then looked over at Ayu.

“You need some pleasant conversation with your drink, right?” Her eyelashes fluttered in an exaggerated way. A twinkle in her golden eyes told me she was already enjoying teasing me.

I pursed my lips and nodded to the waitress. My neck felt like it was made of rusted metal.

Ayu laughed and bopped my shoulder, making me flinch. “Aw, you’re so tense! Don’t worry, though. I’ll help you lighten up.”

The waitress led us deeper inside, past a flight of stairs. A row of padded booths ran along one side of the wall, with wooden half-walls between them to provide a little discretion and privacy. Soft jazz played over invisible speakers. It must have been a slow time of day judging by the few empty-handed waitresses, who walked back and forth at a leisurely pace. Even the baristas were fiddling with jars behind their counter for lack of much else to do.

A girly giggle rang out from somewhere down the aisle, followed by a deep and very self-satisfied hum. I turned my head, then felt Ayu’s elbow gently nudge my side.

“This looks like a good place to sit, don’t you think?” she said, directing my attention away from what I realized was another customer.

I gulped, excitedly wondering what sort of mischief went on here, then tried to hide my embarrassment as I took a seat at the booth. Ayu took a seat across from me.

“I’ll be right back with your drinks, sir,” the waitress said with a quick bow. I watched her walk off, struck by the good view of the black fluff of her tail, and started to glance around again before Ayu tugged my sleeve again.

Giggling, she pointed in my direction. “What’s the story behind that dagger of yours?”

Her ears cocked towards me as if she wanted to pick up every last detail of what I said. I could see the little white tufts of fur on the insides of her pink ears, and the way her ears drooped just a little at the top. I did a double take as I remembered that I was, in fact, wearing a dagger prominently in its sheath on my waist.

“Ah, right.” I put a hand over it. “It’s not a problem, is it?”

“Not at all! I just thought it looked very fancy,” she said, putting an elbow on the table and resting her chin in her hand.

Right, she may have been cute but she was still a tengu. They were so proud of their supernatural nature that a human like me could probably charge at her with a horse-cutting sword and she’d think it was a funny prank. Despite that, I didn’t see any hint of pride from her as she looked at me expectantly, ready to hang on my every word.

“It’s a Human Village tradition. When you’re a local village head, a weapon is as good as proof of your title.”

Her eyes opened wide with golden sheen of awe. “Wow! If I had known you were a big-shot ruler, I would’ve…”

“Aw, shucks, I’m not exactly a big-shot. Well, I’m not a nobody either, but my name doesn’t mean much outside of… the village.” I caught myself, a small but smart voice inside my head telling me not to reveal where I lived.

“So what brings a ruler like you around here?”

I’d never been called a ‘ruler’ before. It wasn’t exactly inaccurate, and was definitely a stretch, but it felt good to hear from a pretty girl’s lips. Goro the Ruler, sending the peasants to work as he sees fit. That had a real ring to it.

Leaning back, I flashed a satisfied smile at Ayu. “I was looking to see if I could work out any deals with the Trade Association. Put the land to good use, you know?”

Ayu put a hand to her lips as she started to blush. “How generous of you! A lot of humans don’t want to have anything to do with the TA. Why, I heard that a crow tengu out surveying villages got zapped out of the sky!”

I bit back a laugh. From what I’d heard, the poor bird had swooped over the Hakurei Shrine one too many times and took Reimu’s wrath for “being a nuisance,” though as far as I was concerned, Reimu was one to talk. The girl was more like a force of nature than any human — a nuisance at best and a menace at worst.

The waitress re-emerged, setting down two large mugs on the table in front of us. They were filled almost to the brim with green-colored matcha latte, and one of the baristas had amused themselves drawing white curving tails in milk on the top of them. She lingered for a moment, and when I looked up at her, she leaned closer with a salesman’s gleam in her eye.

“Sir, if I may…” She whipped a laminated card out of her apron and displayed it. “As you know, we are a tail cafe, and what else would you come here for but tails? It’ll cost you a small extra charge, but if you want, Ayu can come around to your side. Then you can feel her tail to your heart’s content.”

Despite having known this was what tail cafes were for consciously, something about being blunt told about it shocked me. I looked at Ayu, who hid her mouth behind her hand and fluttered her eyelashes at me. Her tail wagged in a tantalizing display of sandy-yellow fluff.

“No pressure, of course. You’re free to keep talking from across the table,” said the waitress with a shrug. “I’ll just leave this here.”

The card dropped onto the table right in front of me, like a challenge thrown down to provoke me. I eyed it. Some quick mental math told me I could afford to take advantage of the offer. The question, then, was merely one of gumption.

[ ] Jump on it. Who knows the next time you’ll get a chance to get a handful of soft, fluffy wolf tengu tail?
[ ] Stick to chatting with Ayu for now. You might learn some important things about Amaden, and besides, you like the ego-boost.
>> No. 199517
Oops, forgot the timer. I'm going to set it for midnight, since the week will be starting up again soon.

Time remaining: :: Timer ended at: 2018/11/05(Mon)04:59

>> No. 199518
[X]Touch fluffy tail
>> No. 199519
[x] Stick to chatting with Ayu for now. You might learn some important things about Amaden, and besides, you like the ego-boost.

Let's be faithful to our wife and avoid devastating consequences.
>> No. 199520
[x] Stick to chatting with Ayu for now. You might learn some important things about Amaden, and besides, you like the ego-boost.
Any more, and it's trouble.
>> No. 199521
[x] Jump on it. Who knows the next time you’ll get a chance to get a handful of soft, fluffy wolf tengu tail?

F L O O F
>> No. 199524
[x] Jump on it. Who knows the next time you’ll get a chance to get a handful of soft, fluffy wolf tengu tail?

Not going for it would be like going to a steakhouse and ordering a salad, and that ain't right. Nope, we need that big ol' steak nice and bloody. Or, well, fluffy in this case.
>> No. 199525
[x] Stick to chatting with Ayu for now. You might learn some important things about Amaden, and besides, you like the ego-boost.

This is fine.
>> No. 199529
[x] Jump on it. Who knows the next time you’ll get a chance to get a handful of soft, fluffy wolf tengu tail?

Already ate the poison, might as well finish the meal. Something like that.
>> No. 199544
[X] Jump on it. Who knows the next time you’ll get a chance to get a handful of soft, fluffy wolf tengu tail?

Lotus Pavilion: Tail Edition
>> No. 199547
Closing votes!

[X] Jump on it. Who knows the next time you’ll get a chance to get a handful of soft, fluffy wolf tengu tail?

Ayu! Jump on it, jump on it, jump on it!
>> No. 199552
File 15413800508.jpg - (635.37KB, 762x1000, You must pet.jpg) [iqdb]
199552
[X] Jump on it. Who knows the next time you’ll get a chance to get a handful of soft, fluffy wolf tengu tail?

I picked up the card. It felt as dense and heavy as a piece of buried treasure. I set it back down, greeted by Ayu’s golden eyes, and smiled.

“I believe I will, thank you,” I said.

“Yay!”

Ayu hopped from her seat over to my side of the booth, facing me. I raised my hand and paused when I saw the waitress looking at me.

“Just a few quick things to note, sir. You can pet her tail to your heart’s delight, but no hand-to-skin or hand-to-clothes contact. Tengu tails are very sensitive, so take care when touching. Other than that, have fun, sir.”

The waitress gave me a short, quick bow and then left us to our business.

“I’m a new girl here, so… please be gentle,” Ayu purred through the bashful smile on her blushing face.

I let out an incoherent wheeze as I reached out behind her and gingerly touched my fingers against the fur of her tail. Ye gods, it was soft. I stroked my hand along it from the base of her tail all the way to the tip. She let out a gentle hum and gave her tail a wag as I pulled my hand back.

“Do you like it, sir?”

“I love it.”

Ayu giggled. I put my hand against the base of her tail again, touching deeper this time. I felt the soft strands of fur cascade over my fingers like silk threads, and the way her tail wiggled happily in my gentle grasp. The fur sprang back to its full, fluffy shape as soon as my hand passed over it, as if preparing itself for another petting.

I felt the stress drain from me as I reached back up for a third pet. I sank against the booth, and Ayu closed her eyes and rested her head against my shoulder. Her tail made little swishing sounds as the hair brushed over the smooth surface of the booth. Parts of my body that I didn’t even know had been tense started to relax, and I could swear I felt my blood pressure dropping. I got a feeling for the shape and curve of her tail, the movements of my hand becoming natural as I drew long, sloping lines against it.

“I’m glad you like it, sir,” Ayu said softly.

“Mhm,” I murmured.

“Your hands are so gentle.”

“Thanks.” I smiled.

I blinked, suddenly feeling as if I had just taken the most refreshing nap of my life.

“How long do these sessions usually last?” I asked, keeping my voice low. If she told me I had just spend three hours petting her tail in quiet bliss, I would’ve believed her.

“Mm… you don’t want to ruin the atmosphere worrying about something like that, do you?” She said, a coy smile on her face as she sat up to take a sip of her latte.

“I’d hate to come up short when the tab came,” I said, starting to regain my senses as I found the most discreet way to ask if I was about to get scammed.

“Don’t worry, I’ll let you know… Goro.”

I let out another happy sigh as she said my name. Still petting her with one hand, I reached out to take a sip of my drink. I never would’ve considered having milk and honey with green tea, but I had to admit it was tasty, and it matched with the wonderful feeling of petting a soft, long, sandy-blonde tail. My hand was moving on its own now, keeping time with a steady, rhythmic stroking as if it had finally found its true calling.

Ayu and I took another sip, and I had a dim recollection of wanting to talk about something other than how good her tail felt. I cleared the honey and milk from my throat and looked down at her.

“Local tea, huh,” I said.

“Mhm. It’s good, isn’t it?”

“I didn’t know that was a big thing around here.”

“Sheesh, I guess I’m not the only newbie here,” she teased.

She reached a finger out and booped me on the nose. I shivered in my seat.

“Maybe you could tell me a thing or two, keep me from being too much of a tourist,” I said. I gave her an extra-long pet, my fingers sinking deep enough to feel the firm skin of her tail underneath.

Aya giggled, sat up, and took another sip of tea. The atmosphere felt more casual now, though that didn’t stop my hand from being permanently latched along her tail.

“It’s more of a human thing, they’re the ones who do most of the growing. Some humans get too into it, acting like it’s thanks to them that Amaden exists, and the rest of us should all… no offense, hee.”

“None taken. That’s the sort of stuff I want to know before I make a fool of myself here.”

Aya wiggled in her seat, her thighs nudging close enough to me to get me feeling a little tense again.

“Couldn’t you give me a hand with that, Ayu? Tell me how I can keep myself out of accidentally getting arrested?”

Ayu let out her soft, tinkling giggle again. “Really, I’m not the person to ask that sort of thing. I’ve never dealt much with the TA.”

“Pretty please?”

“Oh, what am I going to do with you. But I suppose if you mess up and get arrested, you couldn’t see me again. So, okay.”

I blinked. The fact that I could be a repeat customer hadn’t occurred to me until she said it. She gave me a few friendly pieces of advice, punctuating each one with a soft sigh whenever my hand reached the tip of her tail. Expect lots of bureaucratic nonsense from the TA, don’t bring up the subject of “valley kappa,” and don’t refer to tengu by anything other than "tengu.” Calling one a “wolf” was asking for trouble, and calling one a “dog” was asking for bodily harm.

“Thanks. It’s good to know what I’m getting myself into here,” I said.

“My pleasure. You’re a sweet guy, so I’m sure you’ll do just fine.”

Ayu reached for her cup, then saw that it was empty. She glanced to me, then back at her cup, then slowly turned her head back to me.

“You know, Goro… well… I’m not supposed to do this, but,” her face turned red, “I like you, and… before you leave, if you wanted to go a little further…”

I breathed in deep through my nose. My eyes opened wide as Ayu turned towards me, sitting so close, her expression almost pleading. I felt my heart start to pound. I looked into her eyes, and then my gaze drifted. They found the big, round, perky pair staring right back at me. This is wrong, I thought, but I knew I couldn’t resist. They almost begged me to touch them, rub them, feel them up. I took a deep breath and reached my trembling hands towards her.

“F-forgive me,” I murmured, and touched the backside of her ears.

“Aahn,” Ayu moaned.

Her ears wiggled and twitched as I gave them a gentle scratch, and then her whole body started to wiggle as I scratched them again. My fingers ran along the short, thin hairs covering her ears, yielding to the slightest touch, each movement of my fingers making them shiver.

“O-okay, we need to stop,” Ayu groaned, and touched my arm. I pulled my hands back, both of us panting as she took a moment to straighten her mussed hair.

“Whew. Sorry, the manager would get mad if she saw me doing that. It was great meeting you, Goro.”

I nodded. “Thank you so much, Ayu.”

“I’ll take you up front. I’m here Thursdays through Sundays if you ever want to come back.”

“Thank you,” I said again, not knowing what else to say.

I had a strange feeling in the pit of my stomach, the feeling when you’ve just done something absolutely wonderful that you never want to speak of again. I made my way to the front, my mental math surprisingly turning out to be the actual total, gave a good-bye wave to Ayu, and emerged out onto the streets of Amaden.

I took a moment to compose myself, straighten my clothes, and shift the front of my robe to hide the recent “development” down there. With that done, I checked that all my paperwork was still with me. The way Ayu had talked about the Trade Association made it sound like they spoke a different language, only understood among themselves, and I wanted any advantage I could have on my side. Holding the “Mercantile Negotiation Permit” in my hands, I read over the fine print for the first time.

This permit entitles the bearer to conduct blah blah with all appropriate blah, including but not limited to TA-licensed distributers and wholesalers, agents of TA-approved purchasing and selling operations or programs, and/or blah blah, including raw, intermediate, or finished blah blah blah from blah such as mining, fishing, logging, and agricultural operations, and/or blah blah such as workshops, manufactories, warehouses, refineries, putting-out systems, finishing shops, alchemical laboratories not located on non-earth celestial bodies e.g. the moon.

I may not have understood all of it, but if I squinted and held it at just the right angle, it looked like I could explain how it matched up with what I was doing. The TA District Two building was within sight from here, so I made a straight shot towards it, trying to merge with the growing flow of people and avoid any glances at the bright signs and loud offers coming from the businesses around me. I broke away from the foot traffic like a fish jumping upstream and went through the wide double-door entrance.

It was cramped and spartan inside, the polar opposite of Furu-Furu, and the air was somehow stuffy despite the doors being wide open. Three crow tengu receptionists sat at the front desk, each of them currently occupied with what looked like other TA members. I took a look at the signposts, forms, and pamphlets littered around the tiny waiting stools in search of a quick hint that would guide me through the first step.

[ ] Chat up the fellow human waiting his turn at one of the seats.
[ ] Take a look at the basket of forms for one that might be relevant.
[ ] Scan the names of the pamphlets for something possibly helpful.
[ ] Read over those looming timetable-looking things hanging on the wall.

Time remaining: :: Timer ended at: 2018/11/06(Tue)04:59

>> No. 199555
[x] Chat up the fellow human waiting his turn at one of the seats.

That was fucking great.
>> No. 199559
[x] Scan the names of the pamphlets for something possibly helpful.


W-welp.
I'm a repeat customer.
>> No. 199560
[x] Scan the names of the pamphlets for something possibly helpful.
>> No. 199565
[X] Scan the names of the pamphlets for something possibly helpful.

"So You're Addicted to Tail Cafes"
>> No. 199572
[X] Scan the names of the pamphlets for something possibly helpful.
>> No. 199574
>Petting

L-lewd...!

[X] Scan the names of the pamphlets for something possibly helpful.

We don't want to make a fool of ourselves by not knowing basic stuff, right? People that don't read pamphlets, the FAQ or help files go to hell when they die.
>> No. 199577
[X] Scan the names of the pamphlets for something possibly helpful.

>"So You're Addicted to Tail Cafes"

We'll make a mental note to pick up one of those later.
>> No. 199586
>>199577
[X] Scan the names of the pamphlets for something possibly helpful.
That feeling when every story I'm trying to vote calls it as I catch up reading.
>> No. 199588
File 154147450139.jpg - (98.74KB, 566x799, c2bfeab035d2946a299f78bca50377ac12443a5d.jpg) [iqdb]
199588
[x] Scan the names of the pamphlets for something possibly helpful.

The pamphlets had, at one point, been organized in neat rows and carefully stacked, but they had long since been reduced to scattered ruins. I parsed through the mingled-together quarterly reports, staff listings, and sub-branch mission statements until I saw a name that caught my eye: Communal Outreach Department Updates. If I remembered right, that was the name that the faceless TA goon at the entrance had mentioned to me.

I gave it a look. Most of it was written for other TA agents and full-time merchants, but I found some nice tidbits.

”As it stands, the flow of trade goes directly from Amaden to the Human Village. This has been lucrative for both parties, but has restricted trade to bulk goods bought and sold on on one party’s terms. Our goal is to branch out trade, connecting to smaller human settlements where terms can be negotiated on a case-by-case basis to take advantage of local needs and resources, creating markets for consumer goods and finished products.

Our first attempt has educated us on potential difficulties and setbacks with this program, but we are undeterred in the belief that it is a project worth pursuing.


A small black and white photo of a male kappa with a slight smile sat underneath the text, labeled “Kokemae, 2nd District.”

The last part of the pamphlet was devoted to thanking various funders and supporters. I was in the middle of checking for any names I recognized when I heard a soft but firm “Next, please,” from the front desk. I stood up and approached the unoccupied crow tengu receptionist, with perfectly-maintained black hair and a blank secretary smile. I spoke up with a cautious confidence. I knew I could get through the first sentence, but I didn’t know what would happen after that.

“Does Mr. Kokemae handle the Communal Outreach Department here?” I asked.

“That’s right, sir,” she said, with a formal and dispassionate ‘sir,’ rather than the ego-swelling kind I had enjoyed so much at Furu-Furu.

“Is he taking,” I wondered what word would fit — visitors? Offers? Solicitations? Inquiries? Inquiries. — “inquiries at this point?”

She looked me up and down, again in the formal and dispassionate way. “And who should I tell him is inquiring?”

“I’m Morozumi Goro. I represent the village of Magarimachi as its head, and I was looking to participate with the, the thing.”

“The outreach program?”

“Yes, thank you.”

The crow tengu typed something into her kappa-tech doodad. “He’s in the main room, through those doors. You can go give him a visit, he’s number 17. Anything else I can help you with, sir?”

“Any forms?”

“Those come later,” she said with a sad smile.

That went much more smoothly than I had expected. I wasn’t sure if that should make me feel relieved or nervous as I walked into the main room. Inside was a mix of kappa, tengu, and humans crowded around two long tables, stacks of papers divided among them, busy at work. Sitting next to the placard marked with a 17 was a haggard kappa. I didn’t know much about kappa ageing, but he looked to be middle age, with some gray hairs and a day’s worth of stubble.

“Mr. Kokemae?” I said, speaking up over the low, steady din of the office.

Number 17 turned around. His baggy-eyed face turned up in a smile when he saw me.

“Hi! Are you Mr. Morozumi? I just got a message about you. You’re here for the outreach program, aren’t you?”

“That’s right. Though I have to admit, I’m not entirely sure what I’ve gotten myself into. I saw the pamphlet outside and that helped clarify a little.”

Mr. Kokemae took a second to shoot a gloating look to someone three seats over, who responded with an equally short bemused look. Given that everyone seemed to have heard the story about the TA crow tengu getting zapped for flying around the village too much, I had to wonder what sort of reputation this program had around here.

“That’s no problem at all, Mr. Morozumi. Hopefully I can clear everything up for you. Our goal is, well, I’ll put it this way. We have lots of local producers who want to get in on the trade with human settlements, but the Human Village really only wants to do large-scale trade. Buying copper ore, selling grain, things like that. There isn’t room in that system for, say, toolmakers or tailors. That’s why we’re looking to build networks with other settlements directly. Here, I’ll show you an example,” Mr. Kokemae said, speaking clearly even as he rushed through the words.

He passed me a chart showing examples of what the program might look like: they offered things like equipment for farming and landscaping, fertilizer, and building material, and in return they were looking to buy anything from leather to salted fish. Alternatively, they were even willing to fund land reclamation programs if the land would be used to grow things Amaden wanted.

“How does that look to you? Anything catching your interest?” Mr. Kokemae said. I could see the restraint on his face, as if he was stopping himself from getting on his knees and begging. I sucked my teeth.

“It could definitely be useful, but I’m not going to commit to anything just yet. Is it alright if I take a copy of this?”

“Of course! Here, let me get a few things for you. Follow me.”

Mr. Kokemae hurried over to a large white plastic box against the wall. He tapped a few buttons on it and it began to spit papers out into a nice, neat stack. I was glad I had left room in my bag. I wasn’t sure how much I’d be able to do by myself, if anything. All big decisions like this were made at a local council where I met up with the heads of the four or five neighboring villages, and I’d just be one voice. As Mr. Kokemae handed me a stack of price lists, I decided on how much I’d commit to the idea.

[ ] I’ll bring the subject up at the next meeting. I like the idea, but I can’t promise anything.
[ ] I’ll bring the subject up, and if anyone else is on my side, I’ll come back ready to make a deal.
[ ] I’ll bring the subject up, and soon the peasants will be running kappa-tech harvesters! That’s a thing we can get, right?
>> No. 199589
Whew! As a heads up, expect later updates on Mondays and Wednesdays, those are my long days.

Time remaining: :: Timer ended at: 2018/11/07(Wed)04:59

>> No. 199592
[x] I’ll bring the subject up, and if anyone else is on my side, I’ll come back ready to make a deal.

Reasonable enthusiasm.
>> No. 199595
[x] I’ll bring the subject up, and if anyone else is on my side, I’ll come back ready to make a deal.

Gotta come back for our precious Ayu.
>> No. 199601
[x] I’ll bring the subject up, and if anyone else is on my side, I’ll come back ready to make a deal.

Although he probably means if two more people are on his side.
>> No. 199607
[x] I’ll bring the subject up, and if anyone else is on my side, I’ll come back ready to make a deal.

It's win/win/win: one group get more technological resources and the other gets more primary resources.

The third win was Ms' Fluffy Tail.
>> No. 199613
[X] I’ll bring the subject up, and if anyone else is on my side, I’ll come back ready to make a deal.

Reasonable enthusiasm, to show that we personally are on board with the idea.
>> No. 199614
[x] I’ll bring the subject up, and if anyone else is on my side, I’ll come back ready to make a deal.

Wtf, we have timers now? Haven't been here in months, quite the surprise.
>> No. 199619
[x] I’ll bring the subject up, and soon the peasants will be running kappa-tech harvesters! That’s a thing we can get, right?

>not wanting kappa-tech harvesters for your wheat/rice/millet/etc.
>> No. 199620
>>199614
They're new, introduced this month, mostly fornanowrimo
>> No. 199621
[X] I’ll bring the subject up, and soon the peasants will be running kappa-tech harvesters! That’s a thing we can get, right?

Que the bad infomercial showing some gibbering idiot operating a tractor incorrectly.
>> No. 199623
[x] I’ll bring the subject up, and if anyone else is on my side, I’ll come back ready to make a deal.

Never hurts to hedge one's bets.
>> No. 199625
File 154155422126.jpg - (217.42KB, 850x842, you'd think it was a Momiji story since she&#.jpg) [iqdb]
199625
[x] I’ll bring the subject up, and if anyone else is on my side, I’ll come back ready to make a deal.

I held up the list of goods. “I’ll show this at the next regional council. You’ve got my interest, and you might get theirs too. I’ll let you know what we’d want. It’ll probably be around a week before I’m back.”

“Splendid. Downright fantastic, in fact. We can work out the matter of transportation once we know what sort of order we’re looking at. Magarimachi, that’s out east, right?”

I nodded. “It’s by the big bend in the river.”

Kokemae smiled knowingly. My partial committal seemed to be the best news he’d heard in a while. “Say no more. I studied geography back in the day. This should be everything you’d need: a more detailed price list, some order forms, that sort of thing. Anything else, sir?”

I took the papers and slid them into my bag. “I think that should do it. Thanks.”

“No, Mr. Morozumi, thank you.”

After a brisk handshake, Mr. Kokemae nearly skipped back to his station and I led myself to the door. I heard a muted conversation loud enough to make it over the rest of the office noise come through the door.

“Told you,” came Mr. Kokemae’s voice. It was met with a barely-hidden harrumph of disdain.

“Yeah, let’s see how much you can bring in from out in the sticks.”

I shot a scowl at the door, deciding that I would show that nameless office worker, then headed for the exit. I left the stuffy air of the TA building, out to the streets that were filling up with what must’ve been the lunch rush. My stomach tightened. If I hadn’t already spent my money getting handfuls of soft, luxurious tail-fur, I could be buying lunch right about now. I had expected a pang of regret at the thought, but instead my fingers twitched as I thought about that glorious tail some more.

A pedestrian bumped into me, then shot me a glare for standing there daydreaming in the middle of the road. With my business done, I got the feeling there wouldn’t be much else to do here without spending money, so that meant it was time to head back home. I fished out my permit, handed it to the bureaucrat at the entrance, and had my horse Kiso brought back to me.

The air seemed clearer right away as I left the bustle of Amaden behind me. The ride back home gave me some time to think, starting with a few more thoughts about Ayu’s tail, but then moving on to some thoughts about Magarimachi.

Truth be told, we definitely were the sticks, but I could change that. Being situated away from the river-bend meant the water was too fast-flowing and unpredictable to irrigate, so we had to depend on rainfall for the low parts and pasture land at the parts too high to grow much else than grass. With a lot of work the land could be a lot more productive, but the peasants were already too busy squeezing what they could out of the land.

I thought about what might be useful. Minerals like sulfur and limestone were quite useful to replenish leached soil, and might be worth it if they could be transported cheaply. Good-quality tools and materials could be useful, but it was also a social liability. They’d have to be a really good deal before I’d risk being known as the guy who buys tools from the tengu and lets the poor blacksmith and carpenter languish from lack of business. Buying anything the Human Village could produce from a different source was just asking for accusations of favoritism.

I wiped the sweat from my brow as I felt the afternoon sun. I would be glad to get back home, and still with plenty of sunlight left. I wondered what the rest of the day would hold for me after lunch.

[ ] My economic interest is piqued now. I should do some research.
— [ ] Peruse the family book collection.
— [ ] Have a chat with the nearest conveniently-located advisor.
— [ ] Talk with the peasants. They might not be the most well-researched, but they’re the ones who work the land.
[ ] Spending time with the family. It’s always nice to stay on good terms with your brothers and cousins and nephews, especially when some of them are heads of their own villages.
— [ ] Your immediate family back home.
— [ ] Your cousin, head of the fishing village to the south.
[ ] Hold court for a while. The peasants always have something or other they want an official ruling on.

(This won’t be our only chance for any of these options — family members and local complaints aren’t going anywhere — so don’t worry about closing any doors.)

Time remaining: :: Timer ended at: 2018/11/08(Thu)04:59

>> No. 199626
[x] Spending time with the family. It’s always nice to stay on good terms with your brothers and cousins and nephews, especially when some of them are heads of their own villages.
— [x] Your cousin, head of the fishing village to the south.

HEY COUSIN CATCH ANY MERMAIDS LATELY
>> No. 199627
[X] My economic interest is piqued now. I should do some research.
— [X] Talk with the peasants. They might not be the most well-researched, but they’re the ones who work the land.

Their knowledge often goes ignored.
>> No. 199628
[x] Spending time with the family. It’s always nice to stay on good terms with your brothers and cousins and nephews, especially when some of them are heads of their own villages.
— [x] Your cousin, head of the fishing village to the south.

So, while we were stroking soft fluffy tail, was he rubbing smooth mermaid tail?
>> No. 199629
[X] My economic interest is piqued now. I should do some research.
— [X] Have a chat with the nearest conveniently-located advisor.
>> No. 199631
[x] Hold court for a while. The peasants always have something or other they want an official ruling on.
>> No. 199644
[x] Spending time with the family. It’s always nice to stay on good terms with your brothers and cousins and nephews, especially when some of them are heads of their own villages.
— [x] Your cousin, head of the fishing village to the south.

I'm gonna aim to close votes at around 4 PM EST for the rest of the month, and then get the update out in the evening.
>> No. 199649
File 154164894740.jpg - (437.13KB, 1476x1042, art by amibazh.jpg) [iqdb]
199649
[x] Spending time with the family. It’s always nice to stay on good terms with your brothers and cousins and nephews, especially when some of them are heads of their own villages.
— [x] Your cousin, head of the fishing village to the south.

I followed the wide arc along the base of the hills that marked the borders of Magarimachi and continued south, following the rough footpath that had developed over time. Within minutes I had left it behind and entered Mizumagari, the neighboring village located along a crook of the large river that ran through Gensokyo. That was the domain of my younger brother, Shigeto.

Shigeto and I had always been on good terms, even if it we were a bit more distant than with other siblings. Discussing relations with Amaden made a good excuse for dropping by and talking to him. I certainly wouldn’t have saved the subject for the regional meeting, those were just a formality where we all signed off on the things we already agreed to days or weeks ago.

I was greeted first by the smell of the village. There was the pleasant smell of the river itself, rich with earth and mineral, then the less pleasant smell of fish guts and poo. I had thought about getting some tea and snacks from the visit, but that smell had a way of ruining my appetite. The river was unpredictable here, with a tendency to flood and retract at will, but it rewarded the people who stuck with it: the locals were busy weaving rushes, drying seaweed, and making whatever they could into something useful as I approached the village square.

Unfortunately, the list of things to find in Mizumagari did not include mermaids. Those were out by the Misty Lake, or so I had heard. I found Shigeto around that same village square, keeping an eye on something or other when I caught his attention.

“Hope I’m not interrupting anything,” I said, sliding down from Kiso. My legs trembled as the soreness in my thighs caught up with me.

“Nothing urgent. I’ll see what I can do,” Shigeto said with a sigh, turning and walking away from the scene.

“What happened?”

Shigeto made an expressionless smile. He had always seemed to take being the youngest sibling as a sort of challenge to keep up, and still made a show of his growth and maturity even as an adult. It made him come off as snide, hence the more distant relations.

“There have been some complaints about fish scraps and guts going missing during the night. That by itself wouldn’t be anything out of the ordinary, but it’s happened to several people at this point. They’re all professionals, they know how to keep their things safe from stray dogs and faeries, and anything bigger would’ve made a lot more noise.”

“Faeries?”

Shigeto grimaced. “They used to nick some, then go around throwing half-rotten fish guts at people. Used to. Anyway, the fellow I was talking to was a fisherman, and he told me he had figured it out. He said the thefts always seemed to take place after a funeral, such as last night. He told me he was up in the middle of the night, and he caught a glimpse of large red cat eyes outside, followed by the outline of a human figure and the sound of cart wheels.”

I pursed my lips as I pondered what he told me. “You don’t think…”

“I do. I think Rin Kaenbyou, the corpse-carting cat, has been carting off with our fish as well. Anyways, that’s our problem. What brings you here today, Goro?”

I was interested enough in the fish-theft whodunit that it took me a moment to respond. I gave him the short version of my trip to the Amaden Trade Association building and the offer I’d received and promised to mention at the next meeting, complete with a few now-creased papers to show him. He nodded appreciatively.

“I like the look of those salt prices,” he said.

“Yeah, there never seems to be enough salt to go around.”

I wasn’t sure why I was already pressing the subject. It was an interesting opportunity, sure, but it wasn’t life-changing. Maybe it was just something different, a new project I could involve myself in and feel a little bigger than my corner of Gensokyo.

“Tell you what. If you help me with our little cat problem, I’ll join in on this at the next meeting.”

“You were sounding like you wanted it to happen anyway,” I groaned.

Shigeto’s odd little smile grew back on his face. “I do, and this way I can get some help from you too.”

I let out a laugh. “Alright, you got me, you little troublemaker.”

I thought about the problem. It was small enough that I doubted we could bring anyone in. Talking to the Hakurei shrine maiden was right out — she dealt with threats to the existence of Gensokyo itself, and never did anything halfway. Ask her to stop Rin from stealing your fish and she’s liable to put a crater in the village and tell you that she can’t steal your fish if you don’t catch any.

[ ] I dunno, are there any corpse-cat-repellant charms?
[ ] I could get my hands on some trappers and see if they can set out something to catch her.
[ ] If you’re short on people, I can send some men to keep watch overnight.

Time remaining: :: Timer ended at: 2018/11/09(Fri)04:59

>> No. 199655
[x] I could get my hands on some trappers and see if they can set out something to catch her.

It's like fishing, but on land. Maybe we'll figure something out, too.
>> No. 199658
[X] I could get my hands on some trappers and see if they can set out something to catch her.

I dunno man, get some dogs or something. Maybe leave a note asking her to pay for it. I'm not sure what people do with fish scraps and guts, but since there are complaints they must be worth something.
>> No. 199660
[x] I dunno, are there any corpse-cat-repellant charms?
>> No. 199661
[x] If you’re short on people, I can send some men to keep watch overnight

In b4 we have to go to the underground palace to place a formal complaint
>> No. 199664
[x] If you’re short on people, I can send some men to keep watch overnight.
Orinrin dance party
>> No. 199667
[x] If you’re short on people, I can send some men to keep watch overnight.

I don't think nekomata comprise part of a trapper's usual fare. But I could be wrong.
>> No. 199668
>>199667
Nor kasha, for that matter...
>> No. 199670
File 154171159750.gif - (338.01KB, 1120x880, nyoooom.gif) [iqdb]
199670
[x] If you’re short on people, I can send some men to keep watch overnight.

We've got a cat to catch, boys. At some point. Eventually. We'll hear how it went.
>> No. 199671
>>199670
If I see that GODDAMN CAT one more time...
>> No. 199672
File 154172689698.jpg - (599.74KB, 663x828, brekkie with Minoriko.jpg) [iqdb]
199672
[x] If you’re short on people, I can send some men to keep watch overnight.

“Tell you what,” I said after some thought, “I’ll ask for volunteers to keep watch around the village tonight, and I’ll cover any costs.”

“We’ll split the costs fifty-fifty,” Shigeto said.

“I won’t argue with that.”

My horse Kiso and I had been following Shigeto as we talked, and when I looked up, I saw we were closer to the river now. I soaked in the ambience, the creaking of wood and splashing of nets and crunching of tall grass, the burble of the river still audible underneath all the noise.

“It’s good to see you again, little brother,” I said.

Shigeto paused. “You too. Thanks for helping.”

“And I’ll be seeing you again at the meeting?”

He turned his head to watch a fishing raft drift by. “Yeah.”

I smiled. “Good. Take care now, good luck.”

“You too.”

I pulled myself up onto Kiso’s back, feeling a hint of pride for having done my duty as an older brother. The sun hadn’t moved as I headed home. Good, I thought. I should still make it in time for lunch. It had been such a busy day already, so I was looking forward to the chance to relax for a little bit.

I made it back to the family compound, making sure Kiso was safe and sound before heading in and spotting Yae and my mom walking together, on their way towards the main building.

“You made it just in time! We were about to start eating without you,” Yae said, hurrying over to me.

“It’s good to be back,” I said.

“How was it? Did everything go okay?”

“It went better than I thought. I’ll tell you the full details later, it’s a long story. For now, let’s eat.”

Most meals in our house were an extended-family affair. Aside from the compound itself, one of the biggest shows of our status was the massive circular chestnut-wood dining table that took up a whole room by itself. It was big enough to fit me, my wife, my older brother, my parents, and my grandparents. It needed every last bit of room, already loaded up with bowls and plates and steaming hot side dishes by the time I took my seat.

Rice was doled out, my mom serving my father and grandparents while Yae did the same for me and my older brother. It was late spring now, so the days of dreary winter meals were gone, replaced with blanched greens, bamboo shoots, anchovies, and all the spring onions I could ever want. My dad and grandparents usually ate in silence, obligingly tolerating the small talk and chatter from everyone else. Mom gave her detailed thoughts on this season’s haul from the garden and how it compared to last year’s, while Yae asked some polite, gentle inquiries to my parents. We hadn’t been married that long, and she liked to make sure she was all caught up on the family business and fitting in properly. My brother told some snippets of gossip from the Human Village. He had a second home there, or really more of an apartment, but made sure to come back home for every meal, and not just because it was cheaper that way.

As the last course was finished and the dirty dishes started to be collected, I felt relaxed and rejuvenated. At the same time, a nagging thought came up in the back of my mind. Soon Yae would be asking all about my trip to Amaden, wanting to hear about the odd new town. I thought about the touchy subject of my time at Furu-Furu Tail Cafe. As people started to rise from the table, now was my chance if I wanted to have a moment alone with anyone to talk.

[ ] Tell your mother about it. She knows how to handle awkward family matters.
[ ] Tell Yae about it. She’s your wife, after all.
[ ] Don’t bring it up. It doesn’t need to be a big deal, right?

Time remaining: :: Timer ended at: 2018/11/10(Sat)04:59

>> No. 199673
[x] Tell Yae about it. She’s your wife, after all.
>> No. 199674
[x] Don’t bring it up. It doesn’t need to be a big deal, right?

You wouldn't tell your waifu about every doggo you pet, right?
>> No. 199676
[x] Tell Yae about it. She’s your wife, after all.
-[x] She needs to get a tail.

There are marital aids for this situation, right? While it is understandable, of course, that not every woman can be blessed with a nice fluffy tail, there's options for the sadly deficient, right...?
>> No. 199677
[x] Tell your mother about it. She knows how to handle awkward family matters.
Fuck if I know what it's like to have a wife!
>> No. 199687
[X] Tell Yae about it. She’s your wife, after all.

It's completely pure doggo petting. Bring her along next time so she can experience it as well.
>> No. 199689
[x] Tell Yae about it. She’s your wife, after all.

Wives can read minds. She'd figure it out eventually anyways.
>> No. 199697
[x] Tell Yae about it. She’s your wife, after all.

A married couple should fluff together.
>> No. 199703
[x] Tell Yae about it. She’s your wife, after all.

We will be a proper, honest husbando
>> No. 199704
File 154180871185.jpg - (433.59KB, 1848x1347, haus.jpg) [iqdb]
199704
[x] Tell Yae about it. She’s your wife, after all.

I made up my mind to tell Yae, and soon. I didn’t know what it would mean to her, but I knew that the longer I waited, the more suspicious it would look. I caught her attention as she started stacking up dirty plates from the dining table.

“Will you join me in the bedroom for a little bit after cleaning up, Yae?” I asked.

“I’d love to,” she said with a smile.

Despite its size, our house only had five rooms, though each one was as big as a small apartment. Tucked away in the southwest corner of the house was the sole family bedroom. It was crowded at night, of course, but during the day it served as the prime location for any naps, quiet conversations, or quick lovemaking sessions to have during the day, often with several of those things happening at the same time. I took my bag off and set it at the corner of the room, still full down with papers. I’d have to bring it to the study later, when I told the rest of the family about my dealings in Amaden. I may have been the head of Magarimachi, but at home, my parents and grandparents were the real heads.

I leaned back on one of the cushions and looked at the large painting hanging up against the wall, flanked by windows. It was a gift to the family, showing a string of small hills so wet with spring rain that miniature rivers formed in the crooks between them, the blue water blending with the green grass and dots of soft-red peach flowers. It soothed me as I thought of all the talking still left to do today.

“Hi, honey.”

Yae’s soft voice woke me from my daydreams. She let herself in and slid the door, leaving just an inch open, then walked over to me.

“Hi,” I said back.

She sat down next to me, close enough for our hips to touch. She liked whenever we had the chance to be alone. She lived with her whole heart, and she struggled to contain it sometimes. When we had some privacy, though, she could speak her mind and get as close as she wanted without any disapproving glances from my more reserved parents.

“I wanted to tell you something,” I said.

Yae’s lips wiggled, trying to judge my tone and decide on an appropriate expression. The story of the tail cafe tumbled out from me. I didn’t mention Ayu’s name, but I recounted each step from my attention being caught by the banner up to the brief but intense ear-scratching before leaving in a hurry. Yae sat in silence for a few seconds, waiting for the next detail.

“Was that it?” she asked.

“Yeah,” I said, pursing my lips.

“Was that really it? No promises to meet later? No little trips to a private room with her?”

“Yes. Er, as in, yes, that’s really it, and no, I didn’t do anything else like that.”

“And how much money did you spend?”

I took my bag and opened it, taking out the three small coins that made up my change. “This is all that’s left from what I went with.”

Yae began to smile. “You look so nervous.”

“I didn’t want to… I mean… I was worried you’d…”

Yae put an arm around my waist. “That I’d think you cheated on me?”

“Yes.”

She let out a laugh. “She said you could touch wherever you wanted, and you chose her ears.”

“That’s… a good point,” I said, needing a moment to follow the thought. I chose her ears, rather than a handful of butt.

“So did you want her, or did you just want the chance to touch a tengu’s tail?”

I thought about it. I suppose it didn’t hurt that she was cute, but any non-fluffy parts were clearly a secondary part of the experience.

“The tail,” I said.

“Good.”

She leaned in close and gave me a peck on the cheek.

“You aren’t mad, then?” I asked.

“Honestly, you’re such a worrywart sometimes, silly. I’m not mad. Well… as long as I get to do the same,” she said.

“The same?”

Yae leaned against me, her tummy now pressing against my side.

“Maybe I’d like to feel a tengu tail too. You made it sound so nice, after all,” she said with the impish grin she had whenever she felt like giving me a playful tease.

“Sheesh, you’re silly too,” I said, my voice dropping low as I put an arm around her and turned her touch into an embrace. Her lips touched mine in a short, tender kiss.

“You only have eyes for me. Right, Goro?” she whispered.

“That’s right,” I whispered back.

“Tell me.”

“Yae, I only have eyes for you, honey.”

She let out a delighted little squeal. She shifted up into my lap, straddling my legs, her head slightly higher than mine now as her hips rested on my thighs.

“We’ll have this room to ourselves a little while longer, you know,” she murmured into my ear.

[ ] Prove to Yae that she’s the only one for you.
[ ] Yae has a lot of love to give. Let her give it.

Time remaining: :: Timer ended at: 2018/11/11(Sun)04:59

>> No. 199705
[x] Prove to Yae that she’s the only one for you.
>> No. 199706
[x] Yae needs a tail. Resolve to find an appropriate marital aid.
>> No. 199707
[x] Prove to Yae that she’s the only one for you.
You know what? I'm fine with fluff.
>> No. 199708
[X] Prove to Yae that she’s the only one for you.
>> No. 199709
[x] Yae has a lot of love to give. Let her give it.

Fluffy love.
>> No. 199710
Just to make sure there's no confusion, "Yae has a lot of love to give. Let her give it" here means give it to you, rather than unleashing her to the world and/or letting her go out and take you on your word about letting her pet tails.

Also, next update will be choiceless. Instead, we'll be seeing out how the day's choices played out before going to sleep and waking up to a new day with new decisions. Thank you for your time, and resume voting... now.
>> No. 199723
[X] Prove to Yae that she’s the only one for you.

Sweet sweet lovin' shall be provided.
>> No. 199727
[X] Prove to Yae that she’s the only one for you.

I felt the pleasantly soft weight of Yae’s body pressing down on my lap, her body against mine. With one arm around her, I reached out to undo the sash around her waist. Her kimono began to open itself, showing a line of skin down her middle, spreading outwards to show more and more of her body.

It fell off of her shoulders, a cascade of falling fabric that left her bare breasts in its wake. I breathed in deeply. We had been married for months now, and yet I still felt a rush of excitement and anticipation as if it was our wedding night. There were still new secrets to discover about Yae, parts of her that she only showed when nobody else was around. The way she could be forceful and yielding, doting and teasing, bashful and confident, all at the same time and never not seeming like Yae.

I pressed my head to her bare collar, feeling her breast on my cheek.

“I love you,” I said.

“I love you too,” Yae whispered back.

My hand slid underneath her robe and reached her stomach, feeling the slight squish of her jelly-belly, then went down. My fingers followed the curves of her waist, then her hips, then her buttocks. They rose and fell and turned as naturally as strips of paper in a breeze.

“You aren’t thinking about tails now, are you?” Yae said.

I blushed and let out a bashful smile. Yae put a hand against the back of my head, my hair curling between her fingers, and held me against her chest. Her hips rocked back and forth, feeling the firm spot growing in my lap.

“Not at all,” I said back, then drew a sharp breath through my nose as her hips pressed against my firmness.

“Tell me what you’re thinking about.” Yae’s voice went low and breathy, a voice I only heard when we were this close together.

I thought of a few things to say, but I was never quite the type of lover who could pull off saying something like ‘I’m thinking about how much I want to please you’ without sounding silly. Instead, I shifted my lap, holding Yae close to me as I rolled her onto her back. Her kimono splayed out against the floor, like a canvas to better present her naked body. I peeled my own clothes off, and for the next while, no words were necessary.

We laid there together for a good while afterwards, until the constant light and sounds of motion outside reminded me that there were still things left to do today. We discreetly slipped out to clean ourselves up and change clothes, and a newly rosy-cheeked Yae took our dirty clothes out to wash them.

Now looking and smelling presentable again, I brought my attention back to other issues. I went to the study, where my father was already busy looking over some documents from the family archives. I stood there for a moment, making myself known but not wanting to intrude.

“These aren’t anything urgent. Go ahead, tell me what brings you here,” my father said, setting the documents aside and turning to me.

I recounted the details of the trade offer to him, as well as the results of my visit to Shigeto’s place. It was just the second time I told it, but already I started to feel like I was repeating myself. Thankfully, he liked his information concise and clear. As far as he was concerned, any embellishments and flourishes should be saved for poetry.

“…so I said that I could offer him some men to help with an impromptu night watch tonight.”

“Tonight,” my father repeated.

I nodded. My father crossed his hands in his lap, and my nodding became a bow to beg for his patience. He let out a slow, long sigh.

“Son, I might have gone slow-witted with age, if I didn’t have to keep myself sharp to protect you from your own ambitions.”

“Thank you, father. Sorry, father,” I said, bowing again.

“I’m glad I had these out already,” he said with a quiet grunt as he fished out one of the documents. It was a list of households in Magarimachi, organized in rows, filled with new names squeezed in near the bottom and crossed-out names of families that left or died off.

“These are the households eligible for corvée labor during the spring season. Get three people, each one from a different family, and inform them that they will be aiding Mizumagari with what may be a youkai. Provide them a day and a half’s supply of food each, and that they should bring whatever equipment they deem necessary. If Shigeto thinks they’ll need weapons, then he can provide them himself. As for Amaden, leave those papers with me and I’ll consider the subject.”

I thanked my father again, and apologized again for good measure, then took the list as he offered it to me. Most labor obligations here were regular, communal activities like maintaining roads or plowing, and I had forgotten how difficult it could be when trying to organize something quickly and remember all the little exceptions and changes that had built up over generations.

The process took up most of the rest of the day: wrangling everyone together, explaining what they were about to do, providing them their food, and finally sending them off before dragging myself home as the sun began to set.

[ ] sleep

Time remaining: :: Timer ended at: 2018/11/11(Sun)23:59

>> No. 199728
[x] sleep

I sleep.

Wholesome lovemaking between married people. Such degeneracy. I love it.
>> No. 199729
[x] sleep

They might have even held hands, the perverts!
>> No. 199734
[X] Wake up and take a piss
>> No. 199743
[x] sleep

sleeping_shaq.jpg
>> No. 199747
File 154198126217.jpg - (402.25KB, 1193x974, no orins allowed.jpg) [iqdb]
199747
Once I made it back home, my body made it very well-known that I had met my quota for the day, and any further requests would be put in the queue for tomorrow. It was just as well, as the sun had started to set, and even my father started to relax when the sun was down and there wasn’t anything worth burning candles for. Chit-chat and snacks followed for a while, everyone gradually migrating to the family bedroom before drifting off to sleep.

____________________________

Elsewhere, off to the south, the day was just beginning for three men. They marched around the perimeter of the village plaza, the man in front carrying a torch as the two men behind him carried farm equipment and carpentry tools that also worked as weapons in a pinch. They soon got bored of that, and rather tired, so they set themselves and their gear down against the wall of a rope-making shed, close enough to keep an eye on the big wooden tubs full to bursting with fish parts that were, apparently, such an urgent matter.

“D’you really think it’s Kaenbyou Rin behind all this?” said Yuuta, resting his dull hay-cutting sickle in his lap and wondering why he had bothered to bring it.

“Feh. We’d have more than a hunch to go on if it was, y’know? I heard she breathes smoke, and her nails are long and orange-red like flames, so she can turn a soul to ashes with a sweep of her finger. I think they’d’ve seen more’n just a glimpse if it was her,” said Atsushi, trying to find somewhere to rest the torch that wouldn’t accidentally start a fire.

“I-I, well… I heard she was cute,” Hayato blurted out.

Even with the low light, he could tell the other two were glaring at him.

“That is to say, y’know… you can’t be sure what she looks like, there’s all the different stories…” Hayato trailed off.

“So what do we do if we actually, y’know… run into her, and she’s breathing out smoke and shooting fire and all that?” Yuuta asked, fidgeting.

“Hayato can seduce her,” Atsushi said.

Yuuta let out a snicker despite his fear, and Hayato’s blush became brighter.

“Nah, nah, I’m sure it’s nothing. We’ll scare off a wild goose and that’ll be the end of—”

The creak of wood made the three of them go silent.

“Did you hear that?” Hayato said in a whispered hiss.

Yuuta made a squeak that served as a ‘yes.’ He took the torch, curiosity outweighing his fear, and the three of them rose up.

“That cart wasn’t there before,” Yuuta said, the muscles on his neck flexing with fear.

“Who goes there?” Atsushi barked.

There was a loud yowl, and behind one of the tubs, a human figure leapt twelve feet straight up into the air. Her limbs flailed and clawed at thin air, then landed back on the floor without a sound. Voices shouted, doors slammed open and floors creaked as the village awoke with a start. As people started to pour out into the plaza, the figure slunk out from behind its hiding spot. The torchlight showed her to be a lithe girl, her long red hair done up in twin braids, and a pair of cat ears pointing straight up in panic.

“Told you,” Hayato whispered.

“Shaddap,” Atsushi whispered back.

“H-Hi,” the girl said.

There was a brief silence, then Atsushi responded.

“Hello,” he said.

“You scared me,” the girl said. In the dim light, her black tails could just barely be seen bristling and standing straight up.

“Have you been stealing our stuff?” one of the villagers chimed in. He was a stocky, grizzled man who, judging by the way he jabbed his fish-boning knife accusingly at the girl, wasn’t the type to be scared by a sudden youkai appearance.

The girl put her hands on her hips. “Well, I didn’t exactly see your name on it!”

“Oh, child,” the villager growled at her.

“I’m not a child! And you’d better not pick a fight with me!” the girl harrumphed back.

“Ahem! Are you Kaenbyou Rin?” Hayato cut in.

“Hm? Yeah!” Rin turned to him, suddenly smiling and forgetting the other man.

“Uh… this stuff is village property, Rin, ma’am. Miss?”

Rin gasped and put a hand to her mouth. “It is?”

The other villager spluttered with anger. “The hell did you think it was? A giveaway?”

“Yes.” Rin looked guiltily at the floor.

“That stuff makes us good money, you know! And if you can’t pay for what you stole—”

“I’m really sorry, how much was it worth?” Rin said, digging out coins from her pocket.

Everyone stepped closer, taking a look at the glint of the coins. Then, moving as one, the four of them formed a huddle.

“Did you see that? That’s silver!”

“Let’s scam her,” Atsushi said.

“No,” Yuuta said.

“Yes,” the villager said. Before anyone else could get a word in, he broke away from the group.

“Ahem. If you’d like to buy some more of our share, at fair market value…”

____________________

“And this is just my share!” Yuuta hooted with laughter, holding up a shiny silver coin as I rubbed the sleep from my eyes.

“Where are the other two?” I mumbled.

“Blind stinking drunk.”

“Fair enough. Good work, and you can keep…” I said, and even in my sleepy state I was still smart enough to glance back at my father and wait for his approving nod before finishing. “You can keep the money.”

“Woo! Thanks, my lord, sir,” Yuuta said with a hasty series of bows before skipping away.

“At least there’ll be no complaints. Oh, thank the Bodhidharma, the green tea’s ready,” my father said.

We both took a cup, and after taking a minute to stretch and wake myself up, I noticed him giving me a look.

“Now then, I trust you’ll be as productive today as you were yesterday?”

“Yes, father.”

I thought over the things I had considered yesterday, but never quite got around to.

[ ] Dealing with matters here, holding court and listening to the locals’ concerns.
[ ] Give someone a visit.
— [ ] The forest village out east, the last village of the regional council.
— [ ] The Human Village, where my brother’s busy rubbing elbows with the bigwigs.
[ ] Do some learning on economics and trade.
— [ ] My father has a respectable library available.
— [ ] My father also has strong opinions he’s more than willing to share.

Time remaining: :: Timer ended at: 2018/11/13(Tue)04:59

>> No. 199748
[x] Dealing with matters here, holding court and listening to the locals’ concerns.

Probably should just check the inbox to see if there's any pressing concerns on the home front. It'd be a shame if there was some local disaster that dampened our chances at getting our vague little trade plan together.
>> No. 199749
[X] Dealing with matters here, holding court and listening to the locals’ concerns

Gaining experience, building reputation... it is a must.

Also, I didn't like how they scammed her.
>> No. 199755
[X] Do some learning on economics and trade.
— [X] My father has a respectable library available.

>>199749
I don't either. Feels like it'll bite us in the ass one day. Better prep some emergency snacks and booze to soften any hard feelings that come to complain.
>> No. 199756
[x] Give someone a visit.
— [x] The forest village out east, the last village of the regional council.

>Being upset about small village price gouging of wealthy city folk

Please, it’s nothing. If you’re gonna wave around money, prices go up, it’s the same anywhere.
>> No. 199759
[x] Dealing with matters here, holding court and listening to the locals’ concerns.

In which Goro decides to do his job

>>199749

Pshaw, scamming city folk is a time-honored tradition for the peasants, even if said 'city' is actually a palace made from the ruins of an abandoned Hell.

(and Orin will get the last laugh eventually)
>> No. 199760
File 154208378236.png - (356.29KB, 500x394, 500px-CometSightedEvent.png) [iqdb]
199760
[x] Dealing with matters here, holding court and listening to the locals’ concerns.

“I should visit the neighborhood elders first. See if there’s anything I need to handle, after being out all day.”

My father nodded. “You’re catching on.”

Calling the process ‘holding court’ was a bit ostentatious, which is why I still called it that anyway, but only in my thoughts. Any dispute was first supposed to be worked out between the two parties involved, and then, if that didn’t work, it should go to the village elders. Then, if they couldn’t work it out — or, more likely, if they wanted to pass the buck — it went to me. Despite technically being three steps up the ladder, the cases I handled were rarely very severe. They usually concerned small debts, overstepping customs, or someone having the gall to move their plow half an inch into the other person’s land. We were equipped to handle more serious cases, but our official public-beating sticks (sized in accordance with the severity of the offense) were mostly gathering dust lately.

The sun wasn’t up yet, so I helped myself to the family breakfast first, followed by a discreet hug and peck on the lips to Yae. Then, after making myself presentable, I headed out from the compound towards the village. Magarimachi was never exactly ‘bustling,’ but this was as close as it came. It was the tail end of the planting season, and no matter which direction I looked, there were people dotting the countryside, bending up and down to pack every last fertile strip of land with potential crops. There was a single road that ran through the village, forking halfway through with one path going to our estate and the other leading towards the Human Village, and everything here that wasn’t either a house or piece of farmland was clustered just past that fork in the road.

It may not have seemed like much, but our convenient location had turned us into something of a local stop. People knew they could rent a bed, get a good meal, and buy basic supplies here, and that was something I could take pride in. My pride was only slightly dampened when I saw the village elders already gathered in front of the village hostel, sitting around the snoring, drunk bodies of Atsushi and Hayato. Yuuta was there, sitting with the look of someone guilty but still trying to figure out what they were guilty of. A small crowd had gathered, ready for a free show.

“Morning, Mr. Morozumi. We were just considering going to catch your ear,” said Hamuro, one of the elders. He was fiddling with his long, wispy, whisker-like beard, an old habit of his whenever he was mulling something over.

“Oh, dear. I hope they didn’t wreck anything,” I said.

“Thankfully, they didn’t. But they did show up in the middle of the night with a month’s salary and an outrageous story about swindling a youkai, then asked for all the drinks they could get. Yuuta here vouched for them and said it was true.”

I may have spent most of my time at home, but I still had been here long enough to get a feel for most everyone who called it home. If I had to guess, Atsushi had dragged poor Hayato into the night of revelry. Hayato was too polite to say no, and Atsushi was too hopped up on success to realize that showing off some extra money and telling a tall tale made him look like a poorly-disguised bandit instead of a hero.

“It’s true, so far as I know. These three were on night watch duty in the next village over. If we want to wait for more details, I’m sure we’ll hear their side of the story soon.”

Hamuro hid a laugh. “We wanted to be sure first.”

“Am I not in trouble, then?” Yuuta said, glancing around as if he expected someone to jump at him with a new accusation.

Hamuro shared glances with the other elders, who then glanced at me.

“If there was no damaged property, public disturbance, or unpaid tab, I’d say the hangover and embarrassment are a suitable punishment by themselves,” I said, quiet enough that it didn’t carry to the crowd.

There was a general nodding of agreement, followed by the two of them being hauled back into the hostel to sleep it off.

“Mind if I join you in your duties for a bit?” I asked.

Inagawa, another elder and long-time friend of my father’s, made a smile that raised up his face that had gone sunken with age. Unfortunately, I knew that smile.

“Ahh, you sound just liked you did as a young’n, asking nicely if you could tag along with the grown-ups. Don’t look so embarrassed, that’s a compliment! You don’t let your title go to your head, you still talk to an old soul like me with respect.” He turned to one of the other elders. “You remember those days, don’t you? Whenever we discussed something, he’d scrunch up his little face and rub his chin like he was deep in thought, and…”

Hamuro announced that there was a matter to deal with at one of the hilltop farms, saving me from the rest of the story. The elders, despite looking worse for wear, could still keep up a good pace as we made it to the house we were looking for and heard the story. Apparently, a family had made a complaint that they were being taxed for owning several chickens that had since died from sickness. After a quick check of the records, it was discovered that they never paid taxes on their chickens to begin with. The matter was quickly resolved with a small fine and a requisite amount of groveling.

Next up was a more pressing concern: a teenager had been spotted peeing in the local duck pond. After a short investigation, the guilty party was found and admitted to his crime. With him being young and a first-time offender, he was let off with a warning. After that, since a few hours had passed and there was nothing else demanding their attention, the elders decided to take a short break for dango and green tea.

I happily tagged along for that part. They preferred to eat in silence, despite how chatty they could be otherwise, but Inagawa motioned for my attention near the end of our snacking. We stepped outside, his face suddenly stern as he looked at me.

“Your father has always been ambitious, you know. He’s a good man, never acted out of order or aggrandized himself, but I always told him, Magarimachi will grow on its own. Trying to hold the whole village on his shoulders’ll just give him a sore back. Even after passing the village title to you, he’s held onto so many responsibilities.”

He sighed. “Then again, maybe he was right. Maybe that ambition of his was just a passion for his duty, what made him keep everything so neatly in order. Ambition, by itself, can be a virtue or a flaw. It’s a little like archery. Strength only matters so long as you’re aiming at the right goal.”

His stern face softened. “Anyway, sorry to bring that up to you so suddenly. And don’t go seeing this as taking sides or telling me what you’ve decided on. I’m just getting on in years and wouldn’t want to pass away still wishing I’d said this or that.”

I let his words settle and mix in with my thoughts. I began to wonder how others saw me, and how they’d see me when my father was gone and his duties became my duties.

[ ] I should take after my father’s attitude. Even if my title is small, being in charge means I have to act the part.
[ ] I don’t have to take on my father’s attitude. Trying to run the place like a kingdom means you have a king’s headaches without the rewards.

Time remaining: :: Timer ended at: 2018/11/14(Wed)04:59

>> No. 199761
[x] I should take after my father’s attitude. Even if my title is small, being in charge means I have to act the part.

Command and Conquer.
>> No. 199762
[X] I should take after my father’s attitude. Even if my title is small, being in charge means I have to act the part.

If we don't, there won't be an excuse for us to go to tail cafes.
>> No. 199766
[x] I should take after my father’s attitude. Even if my title is small, being in charge means I have to act the part.

Conquer everything.
>> No. 199771
[x] I should take after my father’s attitude. Even if my title is small, being in charge means I have to act the part.

The fact that he considers it small speaks volumes of his ambition. That's good. But you have to walk before you can run.
>> No. 199774
[x] I don’t have to take on my father’s attitude. Trying to run the place like a kingdom means you have a king’s headaches without the rewards.
Let the old farts pull their own weight. Sounds like they tend to fob off a lot of their work, anyway.
>> No. 199778
[x] I don’t have to take on my father’s attitude. Trying to run the place like a kingdom means you have a king’s headaches without the rewards.

+5 increased vassal opinion
>> No. 199780
[x] I should take after my father’s attitude. Even if my title is small, being in charge means I have to act the part.

Goro has gained the trait 'ambitious'
>> No. 199782
File 154216477739.jpg - (39.62KB, 741x487, oh dang its dango.jpg) [iqdb]
199782
[x] I should take after my father’s attitude. Even if my title is small, being in charge means I have to act the part.

“Ah-ah, you were about to tell me something, weren’t you? Keep your decision private for now. Whatever you’re thinking, hold it gently. Like a painting that hasn’t dried yet.”

“I will. Thank you, Inawaga.”

“Thanks for listening. And here, speaking of your father, take this back with you. He’s always liked the stuff.” Inagawa stepped inside and returned a moment later with some dango, wrapped up nice and neat in a small paper package.

As I left for home, his words swished back and forth in my thoughts until my head started to tilt. I could see the reasons behind both sides, and could see the flaws on both sides as well. That, perhaps, was the point — it wasn’t just a matter of finding the ‘right’ or the ‘best’ option. The voice of my old tutor intruded. “When you see a matter as two exclusive sides, you have already strayed.” He would say it over and over, waving his hand each time as if the very idea let out a bad odor.

“Good afternoon, Morozumi!” one of the farmers called to me as I passed. Then, like a nearly forgotten afterthought, he straightened up to bow.

“Good afternoon,” I said back with a slight nod.

I felt slightly irked by the interaction. As I kept walking, I remembered another often-repeated lesson from my tutor.

Certainly, he had said, it is best to be appreciated by one’s subjects. But that does not mean to treat them as a friend. Could a friend, he asked, ever go to another friend and demand taxation from him? Could a friend deliver a legal judgement upon another friend, grant or revoke privileges to him, assess his fields? Question after question followed, each one like a swing of a hammer driving the same nail in deeper: holding a position of power means your relations to other people are fundamentally different. Acting otherwise was insincere at best, and at worst it led to the misuse of power.

Yae came out to greet me as I reached the compound walls. “Welcome home! Did something happen?”

“Hm? Not especially. Thankfully, the business today was pretty routine. Petty mischief, that sort of thing. These are for father,” I said, holding up the box of dango.

“Oh. You just looked so… serious. Like you had something big on your mind.”

I smiled and stood up straight. “I do have something big on my mind — Magarimachi.”

Yae’s eyes sparkled and she stopped just short of giggling. I couldn’t tell if she was impressed at my rare attempt at saying something cool or if she just thought it was adorable. I made a quick glance around to see if anyone was watching, and then risked a quick hug and peck on the cheek to Yae. Being serious didn’t mean I couldn’t think Yae was cute.

Once back inside my home, I decided the dango would make a handy excuse to drop in on my father. He was, as usual, busy making notes of some form or another in the study. I couldn’t help recognizing the name on the scroll where he had calmly but firmly added “and five hens and one rooster” to the land records. News traveled surprisingly fast around here sometimes.

“Back so soon?” my father asked.

“Yes. Only simple matters today, thankfully. Inagawa sent some of his wife’s dango for you.”

He let out an appreciative “ooh,” which was high praise for him.

“You know I never eat in here, though,” he said.

“Well, I was also…” I glanced over at the Amaden papers I had left for him, a more polite way to ask his thoughts without outright asking. They had been neatly stacked, and a few notes and marks were visible on the top paper, so I knew he had given them a thorough once-over.

My father set his pen aside, folded the record up neatly, and put it in its home. He motioned for me to sit as he turned to face me directly.

“This seems to have become a pet project of yours,” he said.

My first instinct was to apologize, but I bit back the urge.

“However, before I can let you proceed in good conscience, I must be certain that you know what you’re getting into, and what a project like this could entail.”

I expected a lecture, but after a moment of silence, he gestured towards me. “Tell me.”

I was caught off of my mental footing, but I righted myself. I’d listened to enough lectures of his, I figured, that I could just say what I had expected him to say.

“There are image concerns. Even though it looks very established, Amaden’s political situation is… unclear. Depending on who you ask, the Trade Association is everything from an informal government to just a loose collection of shopkeepers. If even they don’t know who they’re aligned with, then we won’t know what we’re aligning with. It could also look like we’re working outside the Human Village’s authority, trading with Amaden directly rather than going through their channels. That’s not even mentioning the economic risks if the deal goes poorly.”

I was shocked to hear my own words, not just because I was badmouthing the idea, and not just because I was making points I hadn’t considered until that very moment, but also because they were worryingly legitimate points.

“Very true. And for all that we’re risking, what are we getting in return? Why, and how, would this deal be good for Magarimachi?” my father said.

“Did anything catch your interest on the list of—”

I looked over at the stack of papers again. They had to be covered with his thoughts on every last detail, mentioning everything he liked and disliked about the idea. The fact that they were still there to begin with told me that he was interested. If he thought it was a stupid decision, he would’ve already used the paper for scrap.

“You started this project, and I’m choosing to hope you did so with a good reason in mind. So let’s hear it,” my father said.

I jolted as if he had just bellowed at me. Yet again, I had expected a lecture from him, and again he passed it to me instead. I glanced to the side, feeling suddenly bashful. The box of dango sitting by the wall caught my eye. For a split second, I could swear I saw Inagawa giving me a knowing smile and reminding me that news does, in fact, travel very fast here, even when you think you’re having a private conversation.

“It’s a potential moneymaker, of course. Not just being able to buy things that are in short supply in the Human Village, but finding better prices for the things we make. Plus, aside from the trading itself, any Amaden merchant who comes here will be paying for market-stall space and service fees.”

My father smirked. Nickel-and-diming merchants was one of the few things that brought him genuine pleasure.

More than that, though…”

[ ] It would bring our neighboring villages together, politically and economically. We’d be one step closer to a single unit.
[ ] It would mean communication. Merchants don’t just bring goods, they bring new information, new developments, and new opportunities.
[ ] It would mean the chance for investment. If they want more lumber, then they'll give us saws.

Time remaining: :: Timer ended at: 2018/11/15(Thu)04:59

>> No. 199784
[x] It would mean communication. Merchants don’t just bring goods, they bring new information, new developments, and new opportunities.

Information is power. It is a cliche because it is true.
>> No. 199786
[x] It would bring our neighboring villages together, politically and economically. We’d be one step closer to a single unit.

Magarimachi Local Farmer's Co-Op.

More seriously, though, dealing with an up-and-coming set of burghers looking to expend their influence and wealth, it's best to have unity and solidarity among our people. Otherwise, it'll be Genoa all over again.
>> No. 199788
[X] It would mean the chance for investment. If they want more lumber, then they'll give us saws.
>> No. 199791
[x] It would bring our neighboring villages together, politically and economically. We’d be one step closer to a single unit.
Additionally, consider that whatever human part of Amaden is probably going to retain some loyalty to the village. Imagine creating a human trade complex that spans from the village to the mountain.
>> No. 199794
[X] It would bring our neighboring villages together, politically and economically. We’d be one step closer to a single unit.
>> No. 199795
[X] It would bring our neighboring villages together, politically and economically. We’d be one step closer to a single unit.
>> No. 199796
[X] It would bring our neighboring villages together, politically and economically. We’d be one step closer to a single unit.

It's always good to have neighors who'll bail you out if anything goes wrong cooperate with you, right?
>> No. 199800
File 154225286889.jpg - (136.00KB, 850x630, learnifying in progress.jpg) [iqdb]
199800
[x] It would bring our neighboring villages together, politically and economically. We’d be one step closer to a single unit.

“None of us could do this by ourselves. A single village doesn’t have the money or the resources to set up a trade network. Only if all three of us chip in on this — us and Mizumagari and Numamagari — will any of us get something out of it. And then, if we’re working together on this, maybe we can turn the regional meeting into something more than just agreeing to do the same things we’ve always done.”

“Careful,” my father cut in suddenly.

He had been looking pleasantly surprised at first, but now his face had gone stony again. He slowly and carefully straightened himself up and picked up the box of dango. Without a word, he carried it out of the room, then stepped back inside and closed both of the doors. Then, he stepped back to the table and sat back down. I watched the whole process with a growing nervousness.

“What you’ve said is true. Heaven knows, those regional meetings can seem like a dithering little nicety, but I remember when the alternative was far worse. When I was a child, each meeting had us at each other’s throats, accusing one another of plots and schemes, threatening revolt or worse. Every meeting threatened to turn into a declaration of war. For years, it was like that. There was never exactly a turning point. We never signed a contract saying not to bring up anything of consequence at the meetings. We just rattled our swords at each other, over and over, and slowly realized the stalemate would never break and we were wasting our time and resources.”

My father closed his eyes took a deep, heavy breath, then heaved out a sigh. “I pray I’m just being paranoid. I’ve fought hard for peace, and I’d sooner die than lose it. Remember that.”

I sat there biting my lip, my cheeks flushed and burning. I knew that things hadn’t always been as pleasant as they were today, but the thought of my little brother trying to put a knife in my back seemed so silly it nearly made me laugh, despite the uncomfortable atmosphere. My father cleared his throat, the knots in his forehead disappearing.

“Just know when to stop. If you don’t remember any other word I ever told you, remember that. If you ever start to see your neighbors or relatives as means to an end, they can tell. I agree that this Amaden trade holds great potential. See what comes from it. Examine the situation carefully and then, only then, decide on the next step.”

I nodded in silence. I was still thinking of what I could say when he turned back and picked up the stack of papers.

“Now then, speaking of Amaden, I suppose it’s time I told you my thoughts on the subject.”

My father started picking through the documents, as if his face hadn’t been tightened from painful memories just a moment ago. From his perspective, he was less interested in what could be bought than what could be sold, and he had emphasized a number of details that I had skimmed over in my initial excitement. There was a minimum value for selling, not exceptionally high, but an important reminder that we couldn’t just toss a bolt of cloth and a sack of grain in a cart and call it a done deal.

The Trade Association would, at the very least, want permission to talk to the village heads without being chased out of town, and permission to buy and trade grain, fruit, and livestock futures, through middlemen if necessary, in the same markets and/or auctions that the locals used. The list of footnotes seemed never-ending. It nearly made me marvel on their willingness to spend ink and paper asking to trade on our non-existent peach futures market.

“With that page finished, I believe that’s the last of them,” my father finally said once we made our way to the bottom of the stack.

I rubbed my palms against my face and gave my tired, unfocused eyes a reprieve. “Whew.”

“That’s what I meant when I asked you if you knew what you’re getting into. It might be easy enough to laugh off the demands now, but then maybe years later, the orchards have grown and you decide a futures market might be worthwhile, and they come knocking on your door with — oh, I almost forgot about the dango.”

My father stood up in a hurry, sparing me from any more talking and reading.

“I’m going to treat myself to Inagawa’s very kind gift, and in the meantime, you should visit Numamagari before the end of the day. If they don’t approve, then we’re just on a wild goose chase,” he said, half-shouting to me from the other room.

I stood up, my legs complaining as they unfolded from their sitting position. It seemed my father’s thoughts on where I should go weren’t up for discussion. Still, he had a point, and I had planned on visiting there anyway, even though I didn’t want to.

I stretched my legs as I took my bag and looked through the storage room. Numamagari was the village to the east, away from the Human Village, and moving away from the Village meant fewer creature comforts and more unfriendly youkai to stumble upon. It may not have been that far from home, but it was the sort of place where you keep a few extra things in your pack ‘just in case’ and stayed clear of the roads at night. Even with the sun still high in the air as I stepped out, I knew that on the way I might bump into something like…

[ ] ...an overly enthusiastic faerie of spring.
[ ] …a supposedly spooky karakasa obake.
[ ] …a mouse-wielding Buddhist youkai.

Time remaining: :: Timer ended at: 2018/11/16(Fri)04:59

>> No. 199801
[x] …a mouse-wielding Buddhist youkai.
Think of the treasures she could find. Super good for everyone.
>> No. 199804
[x] …a supposedly spooky karakasa obake.

kogasa is objectively the cutest 2hu so I will always vote for her
>> No. 199807
[x] …a supposedly spooky karakasa obake.
>> No. 199809
[x] ...an overly enthusiastic faerie of spring.

>Not voting for fairies

Y'all are objectively wrong.
>> No. 199820
[x] …a supposedly spooky karakasa obake.

Youkai Moe > Maüs >>> Fairies.
>> No. 199824
[x] …a supposedly spooky karakasa obake.

We might need something to protect us from the sun.
>> No. 199834
[x] …a supposedly spooky karakasa obake.

spoops are inbound
>> No. 199836
>>199804
>>199809
>>199820
y'all's bitches
>> No. 199844
File 154234003851.jpg - (166.71KB, 1440x900, odorkroke.jpg) [iqdb]
199844
[x] …a supposedly spooky karakasa obake.

After the usual preparations, I had set off for Numamagari. I had tested my knife before heading out, making sure it was still sharp. Ceremonial or not, a foot of sharp metal was useful to have in the woods. I had a yaku-yoke charm made of silk thread, one of the many heirloom amulets in the family. The only way to get a good amulet around here was to have it passed down through the family or commissioning one. Buying pre-made amulets was just asking to get scammed by some peddler swearing up and down that it was blessed by every god that ever existed and a few that didn’t. Lastly, I had a few strips of dried meat, because if all else failed and I was confronted by a vicious hungry youkai, I could toss them out, run away, and hope the youkai went for the flesh that didn’t fight back.

I probably didn’t need any of it, since hundreds of people traveled the road each day and youkai eventually learned to steer clear of more populated areas, but I didn’t want to ‘probably’ not get their arm bitten off, so the preparation was non-negotiable. Despite all that, it was shaping up to be a pretty uneventful trip as the road took me past a gently-sloping hill and out of my territory.

That was how Numamagari got its nickname, “the end of the bend,” as in the end of the bend in the road. Being past the hills didn’t mean that it was any easier to travel, since the road was soon surrounded on both sides with swampland. With no other travelers to make pleasant conversation with, I found myself remembering my father’s comments about the infighting of years gone by.

I may not have known the full story, but I knew that the previous heads of Numamagari had caused the most trouble. First they claimed unfair treatment when the land was parceled out, being handed swampland while their brothers got farmland and rivers. After that, they had moved their estate further east, deciding that if they couldn’t squeeze more land from their neighbors, they’d just push deeper into unclaimed land. The result was as unpleasant as it was predictable: Numamagari held a great swathe of useless, undeveloped, and indefensible land and frustrated their villagers who just wanted to settle down and make a living. It was only when those frustrated peasants came to the village head’s door with an ultimatum that Numamagari cooled its heels.

“Eeeeek!”

I was snapped out of my thoughts by a sudden shriek and the loud creak of wood.

“Help me! Please, help! Help!”

It was a woman’s voice coming from my left side. My heart started thumping as I ran in the direction of the voice, drawing my dagger, kicking up water as my foot hit a puddle.

“I’m coming, don’t worry!” I shouted back at the voice.

“Please, come quick!”

I could tell I was getting closer to the voice, but I didn’t see anything.

“Where are you? I can’t…” I said.

“I’m right here,” the woman’s voice said. It had dropped down to a whisper, but I could still hear it with perfect clarity. I realized I may have been a suicidal idiot.

Something grasped my shoulders. A garbled yawp came out from my throat as I tried to scream ten different words at once. Years of practice in wielding a weapon vanished in an instant as each part of my body jerked in a different direction. I jabbed and slashed my dagger aimlessly before realizing my eyes were closed.

My stomach turning, I opened my eyes to see an upside-down face grinning wide at me with a pair of red and blue eyes.

“Oh ye gods, it’s just Kogasa,” I sighed with relief.

“Whaddaya mean, ‘just Kogasa’? I got you pretty good there, didn’t I? Didn’t I? You should’ve heard how you screamed.” Kogasa poked a finger against my forehead for emphasis, beaming with smugness.

I had read the Gensokyo Chronicle cover-to-cover, so I knew that Kogasa’s adorably childish grin wasn’t hiding a sinister disguise underneath it. She was just, well, adorably childish.

“You… yeah. That was a pretty good bait,” I said between gasps, my heart still pounding.

“Bait? I mean, yes!”

Once I stepped back, I saw Kogasa was hanging by her ankles from a strip of thick rope with paper charms weaved into it, and the tree she was dangling from was surrounded by a ring of protective salt. Silly as she was, Kogasa was still a youkai, and that meant physical harm didn’t pose any threat. I could’ve run my dagger clean through her and it wouldn’t even be an inconvenience. A youkai was a spiritual creature, and therefore only weak to spiritual weapons, like that innocent-looking circle of salt she was trapped inside.

“Ahh, I see. You just pretended to fall into a trap and call for help, then?” I said, putting my dagger back in its sheath. It was my turn to grin now.

“Of… of course. Yes. Maybe,” Kogasa said, struggling to stay smug.

“Ahh. I’ll be on my way, then. Well played, Kogasa. Good luck with your next victim.”

“You aren’t just gonna leave me here, are you?” she yelped, grabbing a handful of my collar.

I turned back to look at her. Her grin had disappeared, replaced by a lip-curling, cheek-puffing pout.

“Listen to me, buddy. If you leave me trapped here, I’ll… I’ll start crying. And you’ll have to hear it as you walk away and think about how you made an innocent girl cry.”

“Innocent? Really?” I said, but I was too much of a sap to leave her there after that threat.

I nudged the ground with my foot and broke the ring of purifying salt. With that spiritual barrier opened, Kogasa could move freely. She hauled herself up to untie the rope around her ankles, falling straight into the mud before she thought through that idea.

“Thanks,” she muttered, still pouting as she stood up and shook off the dirt.

“You’re welcome, I think. See you later.”

I took a few steps away. Kogasa sprang in front of me, her enthusiasm restored now that she was free and still pleased with her little victory.

“Where’re you going?” she asked.

“Numamagari.”

“What’re you gonna do there?”

“Are you really going to follow me?” I said with a groan, knowing I couldn’t do much to stop her.

Kogasa responding by sticking her tongue out at me and giggling. I already could see smoke from village fires rising up through the trees. I was liable to run into people any moment now, and they’d want to know why a karakasa was tagging along with me. I thought about what I should say.

[ ] I’ll politely inform them that they’ll need to replace that salt-ring trap, which seemed to be quite effective.
[ ] Kogasa’s an adorable goober, and that makes me want to be nice to her. I’ll tell them she pulled off a surprisingly good scare.
[ ] Kogasa’s an adorable goober, and that makes me want to tease her. I’ll tell them I’m bringing a captive youkai as prisoner. (It would be a joke, of course)

Time remaining: :: Timer ended at: 2018/11/17(Sat)04:59

>> No. 199845
[X] Kogasa’s an adorable goober, and that makes me want to be nice to her. I’ll tell them she pulled off a surprisingly good scare.

Mentioning the trap's effectiveness should be done behind closed doors, discreetly.
>> No. 199847
[ ] Kogasa’s an adorable goober, and that makes me want to be nice to her. I’ll tell them she pulled off a surprisingly good scare.
>> No. 199849
[x] Kogasa’s an adorable goober, and that makes me want to tease her. I’ll tell them I’m bringing a captive youkai as prisoner. (It would be a joke, of course)

BULLI
>> No. 199850
[x] I’ll politely inform them that they’ll need to replace that salt-ring trap, which seemed to be quite effective.
-[x] The sun is beating down on you harshly, you should get something to protect you. But where will you find a parasol or something like that...?

Cute...!
>> No. 199851
[x] I’ll politely inform them that they’ll need to replace that salt-ring trap, which seemed to be quite effective.
-[x] The sun is beating down on you harshly, you should get something to protect you. But where will you find a parasol or something like that...?

BELIEVE IN THE HEART OF THE WRITE-INS
>> No. 199852
[x] I’ll politely inform them that they’ll need to replace that salt-ring trap, which seemed to be quite effective.
-[x] The sun is beating down on you harshly, you should get something to protect you. But where will you find a parasol or something like that...?

n o b u l l i
>> No. 199853
[x] Kogasa’s an adorable goober, and that makes me want to be nice to her. I’ll tell them she pulled off a surprisingly good scare.

Well, I mean. She IS a goofy goober.

An adorably goofy goober.
>> No. 199854
[x] I’ll politely inform them that they’ll need to replace that salt-ring trap, which seemed to be quite effective.
-[x] The sun is beating down on you harshly, you should get something to protect you. But where will you find a parasol or something like that...?
>> No. 199855
[x] I’ll politely inform them that they’ll need to replace that salt-ring trap, which seemed to be quite effective.
-[x] The sun is beating down on you harshly, you should get something to protect you. But where will you find a parasol or something like that...?

Kogasa's true power isn't frightening humans but her ability to make them go "d'awww!"
>> No. 199859
File 154242140144.jpg - (374.52KB, 850x698, brella.jpg) [iqdb]
199859
[x] I’ll politely inform them that they’ll need to replace that salt-ring trap, which seemed to be quite effective.
-[x] The sun is beating down on you harshly, you should get something to protect you. But where will you find a parasol or something like that...?

Kogasa tossed a few more questions at me, her short hair bouncing as she cocked her head. Oh, why the hell not, I thought to myself. I was bemoaning the lack of a travel partner earlier, and now I had one.

“That mark? It was put there by one of the foresters. I think that’s their family name on it. That shaped mark means it’s going to be harvested down to the roots and taken out, either to thin out the area or make room for a more valuable sapling. It might not look like it, but this forest is carefully organized, especially around here.”

“Ooh, cool. You know so much stuff,” Kogasa said, already walking towards a thin red-brown tree that caught her eye.

“Careful, I think that’s a hinoki cypress. You don’t want to get caught touching one of those.”

“Is it dangerous?” Kogasa said with a gasp.

“Yes, as in, if someone sees you touching their cypress tree, you’re in big trouble. They make some of the highest-quality lumber you can get around here.”

“Aww, fine. Ooh, but what about —”

“Ahem, Kogasa,” I said.

She stopped bouncing back and forth between whatever caught her eye and turned to me.

“The sun’s a little hot today. Do you think you might have anything…”

I hadn’t even finished my question before she pranced over and unfurled her eggplant-colored umbrella, holding it over my head. It was a little unsettling seeing the umbrella’s thick tongue dangling over the edge, but it still did the job, and a contented smile grew on Kogasa’s face at the chance to put it to use.

With Kogasa now in a happy silence, I could hear the distant sound of running water, but still no other voices or movement or signs of human activity. Isolated as the place was, I had still expected to run into someone working in their neck of the forest.

“Have you seen anyone else around here, Kogasa?” I asked.

“Nope, not yet. Wait… waaait…” Kogasa put her other hand to her forehead and peered off into the distance. “Aha! People sighted!”

She pointed off towards a sloping part of the forest ahead and to the left of us. It was barely visible through the trees, but I could see a cluster of people gathered there. Kogasa let out an odd little cackle of anticipation.

“Don’t,” I said.

“But—”

“Whatever it is, don’t. This is Numamagari. Half of the people here have very large axes, the other half have been setting traps since they were children, and all of the people here are…”

I paused to try and find the right word. Reserved? Distrustful? Prone to killing village heads until our dynasty had to track down our oldest cousin’s son and he promised them he wouldn’t cause trouble?

“…stern,” I decided. “Besides, you’re already busy with protecting my head, right? We’re going to go over and talk to them normally.”

“Murf, fine, if you insist,” she said.

This part of the forest was dry and flat enough that we could step away from the road and make a straight walk towards them. As we got closer, I recognized one of them as Hirohide, my aforementioned oldest cousin’s son and current head of the village, along with about six other people.

“Pardon the intrusion,” I said from a safe distance, and watched as seven different reactions played out among them in silence as I approached with Kogasa in tow.

“The, ahem, one of the salt-ring-and-rope traps needs to be set up again,” I said. Kogasa smiled as if she was just happy to be included.

“Hello, Gor—”

“Th’ one on the black pine with the big knot between the lowest branches?” one of the other men said, interrupting Hirohide. Between his full beard, wide shoulders, and the way he stood up straight and almost a head taller than me, he almost looked like a tree come to life, and I understood why nobody made a fuss about him interrupting people.

I glanced at him, then at Kogasa, then back at him. “I think so?”

“Bah! We’ll have to settle this tomorrow, then. That trap was meant for bigger prey than you, lass. It must be fixed before the night.”

There were nods of general agreement from the rest of the group, and everyone quickly dispersed except for Hirohide.

“Sorry if I interrupted anything,” I said.

He shook his head. “Land survey. There are a few new families so we have to stake it out, make sure nobody gets more than their share. Don’t worry, it’ll be weeks before we’re done anyway. Also, Kogasa is following you,” he said.

“She’s keeping me safe from the sun,” I said, and couldn’t help smiling.

Hirohide looked straight up, then back down at me.

“What sun? This is a forest, Goro.”

“I know, but I had to tell her something to keep her out of trouble,” I said.

Kogasa gasped, apparently shocked by the realization. “It’s still nice having me protect your head though, right?”

“Of course, Kogasa.” I gave her a pat on the head.

“Ehehe! No, wait, I’m still a little mad at you for fibbing to me,” she said, trying to harrumph at me through the head-pat.

“Ah. Did you come here with something in mind?” Hirohide asked me.

“Oh, yes, that’s right. There’s a deal that the family has been considering, opening up relations with the Trade Association in Amaden. It’s fairly involved, so I wanted to give you the chance to take a look and see the details before the regional meeting. Would now be a good time to discuss it back at your place?”

“Alright, sounds interesting. We can head back. I’ve got some time available now.” He started to walk back home, and I followed after him.

“There’s room for both of you here!” Kogasa chimed in, hopping between us and motioning for us to gather underneath her umbrella.

“I’m fine, thanks.” Hirohide stepped to the side, trying to get a private word with me, but Kogasa immediately moved over to keep the umbrella over him.

“Right then, I’ll just say it. You weren’t thinking of bringing Kogasa along, were you?”

Kogasa turned towards me right away, preparing another pout in case I even considered abandoning her. The poor girl went through more emotions in a day then I did in a month.

[ ] Let her tag along for discussions. You’ll get some odd looks, but at least you’ll keep an eye on her.
[ ] Let her stay at the house for a little bit while the grown-ups are talking. That’ll at least contain any trouble she causes.
[ ] Distract her with the village children. You have a feeling she’ll be sticking around, but you can at least sneak away from her for the meantime.

Time remaining: :: Timer ended at: 2018/11/18(Sun)04:59

>> No. 199861
[x] Let her tag along for discussions. You’ll get some odd looks, but at least you’ll keep an eye on her

I require more umbrella youkai moe
>> No. 199862
[x] Let her stay at the house for a little bit while the grown-ups are talking. That’ll at least contain any trouble she causes.
The thinking man's bulli.
>> No. 199863
[x] Let her stay at the house for a little bit while the grown-ups are talking. That’ll at least contain any trouble she causes.

This is not abandoning her, it's just a little pause. We wouldn't let any villager in, so we have no argument for letting an outsider in.
>> No. 199865
[x] Let her tag along for discussions. You’ll get some odd looks, but at least you’ll keep an eye on her

I am a big fan of the amount of Kogasa on THP lately
>> No. 199868
[X] Let her tag along for discussions.


I really don't think Kogasa'd be interested in financials, but she wants to tag along? I guess we should make sure she knows what she's getting into — fairly mundane trade shit — before asking her if she wants to come sit in. And then because Kogasa is the objectively cutest 2hu, she can come.

And because Kogasa pouting would end me, if the other options win, we should make it clear it's not just 'ditching her to drink and play or something', it's 'we're doing dull trade stuff so entertain yourself for a bit before we come back'.
>> No. 199871
[x] Let her tag along for discussions. You’ll get some odd looks, but at least you’ll keep an eye on her.

She doesn't seem the type to gossip and it'll probably bore her out anyway.
>> No. 199875
[x] Let her tag along for discussions. You’ll get some odd looks, but at least you’ll keep an eye on her.

Surely nothing can go wrong from letting a random youkai sit in on sensitive economic and political discussions.
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