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File154109902381.jpg- (213.17KB, 850x638, village diorama by rekishitai.jpg) [iqdb]
199414No. 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
File154118874384.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
File154119733671.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
File154128476811.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
File15413800508.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
File154147450139.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
File154155422126.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
File154164894740.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
File154171159750.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
File154172689698.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
File154180871185.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
File154198126217.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
File154208378236.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
File154216477739.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
File154225286889.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
File154234003851.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
File154242140144.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.
>>No. 199877
File154250818415.jpg- (217.89KB, 850x478, out east pic by rat1989.jpg) [iqdb]
199877
I pursed my lips, looking at Kogasa’s expectant, guilt-inducing smile before turning back to Hirohide.

“Just as a warning, if this looks like it might lose me any face I will absolutely direct any blame towards you.”

“Me? Cause trouble?” Kogasa said, aghast at the very notion.

“Then, in that case, the closer she is to me, the less trouble she can cause. Better than leaving her out to cause trouble.”

Hirohide turned his head, mulling over the thought. “Fair enough. But, still, this sounds like an important conversation. Is it really safe to let her sit in on it?”

“If it goes forward, it’s going to go on the record, so it won’t exactly be confidential after that. If it doesn’t go forward, then it’ll be beside the point.”

“Who’re we gonna kidnap?” Kogasa chimed in.

“Nobody, this is a trade deal. You can come along if you really want, but it’s not exactly riveting.”

“Will there be snacks?”

My eyebrows rose. Now that she mentioned it, I was getting a little hungry.

“C’mon, both of you. Of course there’ll be snacks,” Hirohide said. I wasn’t sure if he was charmed by our antics or just figured he’d treat both of us like excitable children.

The trees thinned out as we approached the center of Numamagari: a lowland clearing that, after thorough draining and irrigation, grew into temperamental but fertile rice paddies. Women and children made up almost everyone out working here, taking care of the fields while the men were out hunting and logging. Reactions ranged from people ignoring us, to the occasional snicker, to a teenage boy who made a boob-grabbing gesture at Kogasa before getting whapped on the head by his mother.

We made it to Hirohide’s house, which was more like a small castle. It stood on top of a raised stone platform, and it went up rather than out, like three large rooms stacked on top of each other. Unlike our walls, which were more designed to look nice and keep the noise out, these walls were made of massive logs at least twice as tall as I was, each one sharpened to a point on top. As if that didn’t drive the point home enough, my eye was drawn to the thin spaces along the second and third floors, slits for raining arrows outside while staying safe inside. It almost felt silly to think of it as a house. This was a keep.

Despite how imposing it was, though, there was no shortage of people mingling and dawdling around behind the timber walls: family members, employees, and the occasional hanger-on. I came here rarely enough that I didn’t know which was which.

“Boo!” Kogasa shouted, to a few more snickers and a few casual hellos.

Hirohide led us to the second floor, with Kogasa occasionally stopping to shout “boo!” at someone else along the way. We seated ourselves at the table, tea and snacks were brought in, papers were placed, and the discussion could begin.

“Right, then. Get me up to speed,” Hirohide said, gently swatting at Kogasa’s hand when she tried to take the entire tray of rice crackers.

I gave him the short version, followed by handing papers over to him and answering any questions. Kogasa tried to peek over his shoulder to read, but made a frowny face when she saw the actual contents. After a few pages, he put a page down on the table and pointed to a part of the fine print.

“If this is going to go through, I want to make this very clear: Forest land is granted to families in exchange for land taxes. No matter how much surveying and bargaining is involved, it is not, in any way, a land market or a lumber futures market. If we had tengu coming in here trying to buy up land, there’d be fighting in the streets.”

I nodded, completely agreeing. To people who didn’t know him, Hirohide looked like someone out of his league, struggling to keep up. In truth, he had learned how useful it was to listen carefully and only speak on serious matters when he knew exactly what he wanted to say. Kogasa chimed in when we reached the section on metal trading, informing us that she was a blacksmith too, and if we needed anything, she would be happy to make it.

Once all the pertinent details had been dealt with, Hirohide arranged the papers back into a stack. “I’d be happy to go along with the plan, but I’ll let you know upfront, I can’t say how much I’d be participating. You have my blessing to go ahead with it, but I can’t promise I’ll be buying this or selling that.”

“That’s alright. No need to commit to anything that concrete yet. Right now we’re just deciding if the deal itself is worth doing.”

We packed up the papers, went through the final formalities, then made a leisurely walk back out.

“It’ll be evening soon,” I said, once we were outside and the sky was in view.

“Yeah. One last thing, though. I wanted to say,” Hirohide glanced back to see if anyone was watching us. “Thanks for bringing me in on this. It’s hard enough to stay involved with the other villages out here, and my family ties aren’t as close. You could’ve just had me sign on at the meeting if you wanted to.”

“We’re in this together,” I said, grinning with satisfaction and being a proper, attentive family member yet again.

“I’ll be holding you to that the next time I need help. Anyway, I won’t keep you any longer, so stay safe on the way home.”

“He’s in my capable hands,” Kogasa said, popping out from around a corner and opening the umbrella over my head again.

“Lucky him,” Hirohide said as Kogasa dragged me away, back towards Magarimachi.

The road out was more active this time, active enough to pass the occasional team of men hauling back the day’s wood, along with foraged food, dead leaves for fertilizer, and the occasional deer. I saw the massive bearded man from before adjusting the ropes on the tree that had snatched Kogasa. He silently pointed to his eyes, then to her, and we started walking a little faster.

“So, what do you think you’ll do when we— er, when I get back home?”

“An important fella like you needs a bodyguard, right? I can hang out there at night, and if anyone tries to come in and rob you, I’ll spook ‘em to death! Boogableh!” Kogasa demonstrated, turning her umbrella and making the long tongue splat against the side of my face.

“I’ll see what the rest of the family thinks of that,” I said, wiping off the saliva. I didn’t want to know what it was made of.

“How about you? What’re you gonna do?” she asked.

“Isn’t that a bit personal?”

“Not if I’m gonna be your bodyguard. I need to know all the secret stuff you’re gonna do so I can watch you like a shadow.”

“Alright, you’ve persuaded me. I’m probably going to talk with my brother-in-law. He usually lives at the Human Village with my older sister, but he spends a lot of time back home with us, too. He’s the most informed about the Human Village, so he can help me work out how we’ll manage this in the big picture.”

“Eww, more trade talk? I thought important people were supposed to be busy plotting assassinations and having affairs.”

“I warned you. My job is a lot more boring than that.”

“Maybe I can change that,” Kogasa said with a mischievous smile.

“Don’t get any funny ideas, now.”

We made it back to the borders of Magarimachi. It was early enough that some sun was left in the day, and people were still out in the fields. A few children started jumping up and down and waving at us.

“Hi, big sis Kogasa!” they shouted.

“Boogityboo!” Kogasa shouted back.

My legs were sore by the time we reached the compound. For all the good things my new sense of ambitions gave me, all the extra walking was starting to be a drag.

“I’m home,” I called out as I came close.

Family members trickled out to see me, with Yae hurrying to the front.

“Welcome home, honey! Oh my, who’s this you brought with you?”

I shot a quick glare at Kogasa, hoping she wouldn’t decide it was a good time for a joke.

“I’m Tatara Kogasa, newest bodyguard of the… what’s your family name, again?”

“It’s ‘Morozumi,’ sweetie,” Yae cooed, reaching up to pinch her on the cheek.

“Hey!” Kogasa squirmed.

“Sweetie?” I said.

“We can keep her, can’t we? Just for a little bit. Let’s see if she really is a good guard,” Yae said, giving her another pinch on the cheek. She didn’t wait for an answer before taking her away to show her around the house.

The rest of the family watched her head away, then slowly turned back to look at me with varying degrees of approval.

“Ahem. Good news, everyone. Numamagari’s going along with the deal, so we’re three for three. Haruma, have you been able to hear the details?”

Haruma was my brother-in-law, and it was a relief to see him still at home, even if he seemed to wonder what I was thinking by bringing Kogasa home. He nodded.

“Yes. Father and I already had the chance to talk about it earlier today.”

“Great. I know it’s short notice, but would you be wiling to discuss that before dinner? With all of us in agreement, I’d like to have your help with how we should bring it up at the Human Village.”

He nodded again. “I was thinking the same thing.”

I resisted the urge to hurry through with the rest of it. I was home for the day now, and we had all evening to work things out. Haruma and I moved from room to room as we discussed it, stopped for dinner, bumped into Yae introducing Kogasa to my grandparents, and then went back to our discussions. Finally, we settled on a plan.

[ ] Tell them we're open to limiting how much goes in and out, make it look less scary. We’ll hedge our bets that way, and the real money for us is in the taxes and renting out market space, anyway.
[ ] Offer Human Village folks the chance to be included in the operation, not let them run it, but let them take a cut of the money. What we lose in income we’ll make up for in influence with the village.
[ ] Tell them they should work it out with the TA, since they’ve already got a line open with them. Passing the buck could mean giving up some of our bargaining power. That way, the Human Village would pick any fights with the TA, not us — and to be honest, they’re probably better at arguing for open trade.

Time remaining: :: Timer ended at: 2018/11/19(Mon)04:59

>>No. 199878
[x] Tell them we're open to limiting how much goes in and out, make it look less scary. We’ll hedge our bets that way, and the real money for us is in the taxes and renting out market space, anyway.

I wish we knew how they are. I'm betting on "xenophobic and conservative" but...
>>No. 199885
[x] Offer Human Village folks the chance to be included in the operation, not let them run it, but let them take a cut of the money. What we lose in income we’ll make up for in influence with the village.
Keeping control of the means of production while winning influence seems like a winner to me. Sure, it'll probably involve The Village poking their nose in a bit deeper and having their hand out for their percentage, but that's just a give-and-take cost of doing business.

The first option could work as well, but arbitrary limits on trade sound about as good as no trade, depending on how the Amaden guys think. Plus, it could turn into an ongoing struggle to redefine the terms if we start on that foot.

The last one's a non-starter. Losing bargaining power pretty much ensures we'll get screwed. Better to have The Village (maybe) back us up in an argument than have them take over for us.
>>No. 199888
File154256314882.jpg- (46.86KB, 620x640, IMG_20181028_092837.jpg) [iqdb]
199888
>Economics


[X] Offer Human Village folks the chance to be included in the operation, not let them run it, but let them take a cut of the money. What we lose in income we’ll make up for in influence with the village.
>>No. 199890
[x] Offer Human Village folks the chance to be included in the operation, not let them run it, but let them take a cut of the money. What we lose in income we’ll make up for in influence with the village.
>>No. 199893
[x] Offer Human Village folks the chance to be included in the operation, not let them run it, but let them take a cut of the money. What we lose in income we’ll make up for in influence with the village.

Morozumi Goro
Suzerain: Human Village
This type of Tributary can NOT be called to war.
>>No. 199895
[x] Offer Human Village folks the chance to be included in the operation, not let them run it, but let them take a cut of the money. What we lose in income we’ll make up for in influence with the village.

Scheming dreams for dealing teams
>>No. 199900
[x] Offer Human Village folks the chance to be included in the operation, not let them run it, but let them take a cut of the money. What we lose in income we’ll make up for in influence with the village.

“Yeah, that should work,” Haruma said.

“It isn’t playing our hand too much, is it?”

“That’s the question, we don’t know how the hell it’ll all turn out. I think this makes a good… call it insurance. If this thing turns out successful beyond our wildest expectations, everyone would be clamoring for a piece of it anyway, and if it’s just a couple carts a year or something, it wouldn’t be worth interfering in. We’re just promising them a seat at the table.”

I tilted my mouth.

“I know the Human Village talks a big game, but it’s mostly just talk. As long as we aren’t stupid about this, and as long as we make it clear that this isn’t an exclusive deal, they won’t mind it enough to do anything.” Haruma absent-mindedly traced a finger around some of the notes we took as he talked.

“Really?”

“Yeah. If anything, Magarimachi being stable and growing means they’re less likely to do anything. The Human Village doesn’t seriously intervene once there’s nothing for them to lose.” He made a slightly grim smile. I wondered if he was remembering watching that exact process happen.

“I mean, I never expected they’d start marching people in and occupying the place, but we’re connected in a lot of ways, and they’re the ones with the right to cut off those connections,” I said.

“Exactly. Hence, we give them a seat at the table here. It’s another connection to their benefit. And our benefit, of course, but you know,” he said, almost sounding exasperated but also proud to have the answer ready and waiting.

I couldn’t argue with that, and Haruma wasn’t one to make suggestions like that lightly, since he’d be the first one answering questions. The matter was settled, and there was still some daytime left for relaxation. I sat out on the porch, leaning back and putting my feet up as I enjoyed the view.

“All done?” Yae called to me, Kogasa still in tow.

“Yep, finally. I get to relax a little.”

Kogasa hurried forward and knelt next to me, opposite Yae.

“That lady is terrifying! She might look short but when she takes you by the hand you aren’t getting away, that grip strength is something else,” she attempted to whisper to me.

Yae sat down between us, giving Kogasa the occasional hair-tousle as we sat and spent a lazy little while watching the sky. I covered my mouth as I let out a sizeable yawn.

“It’ll be bedtime soon,” Yae said.

Glances were exchanged between the three of us.

“Yae. I know you’ve taken a liking to her, and so far the rest of the family is tolerating her, but she is not going to sleep in our bedroom.”

“But she can be like our practice daughter!”

“Hey, I’m older than both of you put together, probably,” Kogasa said.

“See? She’s so cute!” Yae said, giving her an extra helping of ruffling.

“And besides, I have to keep watch. If anybody wants to sneak into the Moro… uh…” Kogasa faltered.

“Morozumi.”

“The Morozumi compound, they’ll have to go through me!”

Having decided that for herself, Kogasa sprang up, opened her umbrella, and floated up along the compound walls. She set her feet down on top, then reached down and clung to it, realizing that the top was never intended for standing on.

“Um. Are you alright?” I called up to her.

“I could do it in my sleep,” Kogasa said, balancing herself carefully.

Yae patted my shoulder. “Let her give it a try, she’ll figure it out on her own.”

We made our way to the bedroom soon after that, with Yae and I nestling under the sheets and getting comfortable just as the sun was going down, getting the prime bedroom location before other people started to trickle in. It was a pleasant night, not too cold or too warm, though we were woken up in the middle of the night by the sound of Kogasa accidentally falling off of the wall, making sure to shout “I’m okay!” to us as she climbed back up the wall.

Despite the interruptions, we were still able to manage a good night’s sleep. I woke up as the sun started to shine on my face, and as I gently stirred, felt my arm still around Yae. I’ll stay like this just a little longer, I thought to myself. I looked around to see Hamura’s bed empty. I was warm and cozy, but still felt a slight shiver. I hoped he remembered that Kogasa--

“Surprise!”

“Hnargh!”

He hadn’t remembered.
>>No. 199901
No options this time, sorry. I had the update all planned out and soon realized, after a study session for an upcoming exam, I didn't have near enough time or energy to get the whole thing written in one sitting, so I posted the part that I managed to complete.

I'm counting it as an update because dammit I'm writing an internally-consistent story involving a growing amount of inter-related people and events building up to a conclusion, that gets me some kinda leeway, right?
>>No. 199902
[X] Adopt Kogasa
>>No. 199903
[x] Kogasa daughteru
>>No. 199906
File154268028280.png- (703.59KB, 1023x724, brellasmith.png) [iqdb]
199906
Kogasa put her hands on her hips and showed a triumphant grin as we poured out of the bedroom, as if she expected us to applaud her performance. Haruma pulled himself up from the ground, swatting the dirt off of his clothes. My mother gave me one of her looks, the one she used when I was a troublemaking kid, and my father tried to do the same but had to bite his lip to keep from laughing. Yae, once she was awake enough to realize what happened, looked at Kogasa like a proud parent.

Haruma sighed. “Well, we’re all awake now, at least. Let’s be off shortly, shall we?”

“Wherever you’re going, your brave and attentive bodyguard will follow,” Kogasa said, folding up her umbrella and jabbing it forward like a spear.

“Have you considered work as a professional buffoon instead?” Haruma said, seeing her statement more as a threat.

“You can get paid for that?” Kogasa said.

I slipped away to the storeroom to get a nicer set out outerwear and a small gift to bring along. This wasn’t my first time asking a favor of the Human Village, and I had gotten a feeling for the process. Yae came with me, helping me put on all the parts of my kimono.

“I’m going to have to stay back and help prepare for the meeting,” she said as she helped me fasten the long, thin belt around my waist, making sure it held up all the various bits and pieces.

“I see.”

“You’ve been out of the house a lot lately,” she said, her face drooping.

“I’m sorry. I hadn’t known this whole project would involve quite so much running back and forth. It’ll be settled tomorrow, though, and then I’ll be able to stay home with you more often.”

Yae hugged me from behind once my outfit was completed. “It’s just… I don’t want to sound greedy. I know you’re working on something bigger than us, and I don’t want to keep you from your job. Sometimes I still feel like the odd one out, especially when you’re gone all day.”

She broke the hug, letting me turn around and give her a kiss on the lips.

“We’ll make up for lost time soon, don’t you worry. And if you think you’re the only odd one out, you should’ve seen the look my grandparents gave me earlier.”

Yae smiled. “Thanks. Take care.”

I gave her one more quick hug and left the storeroom, almost bumping into Haruma. With the appropriate goodbyes said for now, he nearly pushed me and Kogasa to the door and led the way towards the Human Village.

I wasn’t sure why he was in such a hurry, but sometimes he didn’t need a reason. He made a surprisingly good match for Nazuna, my sister, in how they both saw their marriage as something to keep up with every so often before going back to their separate tasks. I didn’t even see that as an insult; they were just two sourpusses who were lucky enough to meet each other.

Now that the travelling had begun, Kogasa saw her chance to launch another volley of questions, not directly aimed at either of us so much as just tossed into the air for anyone who wanted to answer. Haruma looked to be tired of her curiosity before it even began, and I suppose I couldn’t blame him after the shock she gave him this morning, so I started to answer her. I rather liked the chance to show off what knowledge I had, describing how one of the water mills worked and explaining that the direction of the wind would change with the time of day, letting people sail against the current of the river in the early morning hours.

“How about that?” Kogasa said, pointing to a cart with someone curled up next to it.

“That… oh dear,” I said.

We hurried over. I was worried we had stumbled upon a crime scene, but as I got closer I saw the figure by the cart had a fiery-red set of ponytails and a large pair of furry, black cat ears. It was Kaenbyou Rin, and judging by the way she was curled up with her tails slowly swishing, she had decided to take a nap in the middle of nowhere.

She roused herself awake as we approached, making Kogasa frown as her potential scare was ruined. Her tails swished faster as she stretched her arms and rolled over on the ground.

“Does something like this happen every time you travel, or…” Haruma whispered.

“It’s been a very odd week,” I whispered back.

“You didn’t get yourself cursed while I wasn’t watching, did you?” Haruma said, shaking his head.

“G’morning,” Orin mumbled, smacking her lips.

“Everything alright?”

“Hm? Yeah, sure.”

“You were kind of napping in the middle of the road.”

“Ohh, right, that.” Orin put a hand on her cart and hauled herself to her feet.

“Looks like something happened,” Haruma added, looking at the wheels. One of them had gone loose and slanted.

“Well, I was on my way back from Mizumagari, my cart was loaded with some more delicious fish, and it started to wobble. So, I thought to myself, ‘Maybe it’s too heavy. I’ll just help myself to a little bit now, take some of the weight off,’ and then I was feeling full and the sun was so nice,” she interrupted herself with a yawn, letting her tongue curl and her feline fangs stick out.

Kogasa got on her hands and knees next to the offending wheel. “It looks like the pins fell out here. Did you just use wooden pins?”

“Yeah,” Orin said, yawning again. Even in her human form, she arched her back and twisted her shoulders like a cat as she let out a full-body yawn.

“Well, we’re going to change that. Goro, you’ve got some kinda forge or furnace back home, right?” Kogasa said, bouncing back towards me.

“First, tell me what you’re planning.”

“What do you think, you goof? I’m gonna make up some metal pins for her cart.”

I had a vague recollection of one of the footnotes from Kogasa’s entry in the Gensokyo Chronicle, something about her picking up some influence from Ippon Datara. It was easy to forget, since her bubbly smile didn’t exactly make me think of the vengeful spirit of a mangled ironworker. I looked over to Haruma, expecting him to dismiss the whole idea, and saw him mulling it over instead.

“Do you want to keep going?” I asked.

“I know, it’s a distraction, but listen.” He leaned closer. “She might be hauling our corpses off someday, so let’s leave a good impression on her while we have the chance.”

“But that’s just for sinners, right? She hauls off the bodies of sinful souls to burn them.”

“Well, I mean… you should hedge your bets, right?” Haruma made a noncommittal gesture that left me with a lot of questions.

I turned back to Kogasa and Orin. “Well, we aren’t too far away. I suppose we could hurry back to take care of this.”

We turned our party around and headed back towards the main road of Magarimachi. Orin directed the wobbly cart, getting a few stares from people as we pulled up to the house of the local blacksmith. His workshop was already set up for the morning, a sort of half-room with no roof above him but with walls full of tools on either side. We interrupted his breakfast as he sat out front, holding a piece of egg halfway to his mouth as he stared at us.

“Hi, long story. Anyway, mind if we commandeer that for a little bit?” Kogasa said, pointing to the unoccupied bellows.

The blacksmith slowly set his bite of food back down on his plate, looked at Kogasa, then at Orin, then at me.

“I’ve got to see where this is going,” he said.

Kogasa was already putting on a kerchief and padded apron, though I had no idea where she’d been hiding it. She bustled about the workshop as if she’d been there for years, picking out tools, perusing the different thicknesses of iron bars in stock, measuring the necessary size of the pins, and then lighting the forge and pumping the bellows.

“Well, I’ll be damned. Look at her go.”

A few people had wandered out to watch, and the whole scene was bizarre enough that even Haruma seemed to loosen up. There was no formal script to barging into someone’s house with two youkai and asking to use their forge, so he let himself act naturally for once.

“Is she doing it right? I wouldn’t know the first thing about telling a good smith from a bad one,” he said.

“She’s definitely got experience. It took me a long time before I could start it up that smoothly. The real test is coming up soon, though.”

Kogasa put one end of a thin iron rod into the forge, then paused to straighten herself up and wipe her brow. She looked back to us and caught the blacksmith’s eye, realizing she was being watched. She gave him an oh-just-you-wait-and-see smile and returned her attention to the furnace. She pulled the rod out from the fire, glowing orange at the end, and set it on the block. She picked up the hammer and the noise of ringing metal started to echo out through the streets.

“Iron looks like it’s a good temperature. Mmyep, good posture, elbow’s not too low, working with the whole arm and not just the hand,” the smith said under his breath as he watched, like he was evaluating his apprentice.

It was a loud, hot, and dirty process, and yet it was almost calming to watch Kogasa go through the motions with a contented smile on her sweaty face. I was enjoying watching it and listening to the occasional commentary. Even Orin had curled up on the floor a safe distance away, out of Kogasa’s path but close enough to feel some of the warmth.

The sounds of a sudden swear and the jostling of a people took my attention away. I saw Atsushi struggling to break out from the middle of the crowd, but this was hardly the first time Atsushi had sworn loudly and attempted to flee, so by now most people knew the routine and held him back. Orin sprang to her feet, watching Atsushi get grabbed around the arms.

“I think I recognize him,” she said.

Realizing he was cornered, Atsushi dragged himself forward and gave Orin an embarrassed smile.

“Hello again, Miss Kaenbyou, ma’am,” he said.

“What’s going on?” Orin asked, turning towards me.

It seems she still hadn’t realized what had happened last night, and how much money he’d helped to fleece from her.

[ ] Act first. Discreetly tell Orin that a bucket of fish guts does not normally cost a handful of silver coins.
[ ] Have Atsushi admit what he did. At some point he’ll learn his lesson, and it’s always a little fun to watch him apologize.
[ ] Inform Orin that there had been a little mistake with how much she’d been charged recently, and it will definitely not be happening again, isn’t that right, Atsushi?

Voting closes at

Time remaining: :: Timer ended at: 2018/11/20(Tue)21:30

>>No. 199907
[X] Have Atsushi admit what he did. At some point he’ll learn his lesson, and it’s always a little fun to watch him apologize.
>>No. 199908
[x] Have Atsushi admit what he did. At some point he’ll learn his lesson, and it’s always a little fun to watch him apologize.
>>No. 199909
[x] Have Atsushi admit what he did. At some point he’ll learn his lesson, and it’s always a little fun to watch him apologize.

The reputation of the village is at stake. Well, maybe not, but Orin deserves better. I'm really happy we get to right this wrong.
>>No. 199916
[x] Inform Orin that there had been a little mistake with how much she’d been charged recently, and it will definitely not be happening again, isn’t that right, Atsushi?

b u l l i
>>No. 199923
[x] Have Atsushi admit what he did. At some point he’ll learn his lesson, and it’s always a little fun to watch him apologize.
>>No. 199925
[x] Have Atsushi admit what he did. At some point he’ll learn his lesson, and it’s always a little fun to watch him apologize.
Bad Atsushi.
>>No. 199931
[x] Have Atsushi admit what he did. At some point he’ll learn his lesson, and it’s always a little fun to watch him apologize.

The rules for groveling for forgiveness must be upheld!
>>No. 199933
File154276615580.jpg- (259.48KB, 850x781, tfw no good pictures of Gensokyos cramped shopping.jpg) [iqdb]
199933
[x] Have Atsushi admit what he did. At some point he’ll learn his lesson, and it’s always a little fun to watch him apologize.

Atsushi had always maintained that he never harmed anyone, and by 'anyone' he meant anyone who lived in Magarimachi. As far as he was concerned, any travelers or visitors entered another plane of existence as soon as they left Magarimachi.

Through no fault of his own, he’d been stuck with a small plot of land that could barely supply himself, let alone a family. Rather than work a side-job or a trade, though, he instead bounced from scheme to harebrained scheme in any attempt for a quick windfall. It was common knowledge by now that he was stuck in Magarimachi, since if he ever showed his face in the Human Village there would be a queue lining up to hit him.

“Do you remember what happened when you saw him before, Orin?”

Kogasa began her hammering again, and I realized we should probably do this outside. I stood up and walked out onto the road, gesturing for Orin to follow, but she blushed and shrank back from all the eyes suddenly watching her. Sympathetic ‘aww’s came up from the crowd.

“What’d you do to that poor, sweet little girl?” someone demanded.

Atsushi turned around. “Okay, first of all, are you really going to take the side of the corpse-stealing youkai, even if she does happen to be kinda cute?”

There was a pause.

“Right, fine, don’t ask a question you don’t want answered. Okay, here’s what happened,” Atsushi said, scratching his head.

“Before you start, let me remind you that I can call in Yuuta and Hayato as witnesses if I have to,” I said.

“Oh, for the love of…” Atsushi sucked his teeth. “Alright, alright, I’ll cooperate.”

He told a version of that night’s events that matched closely enough to the version Yuuta and Hayato had told, starting as they went out on watch and ending as they divided up their haul.

“And in closing, I would like to remind everyone that I was very equitable with letting everyone else take their fare share.”

“Wait, so you mean I didn’t have to pay all that much? What was it supposed to cost?” Orin said.

“Ta-dah!”

Everyone’s heads turned as Kogasa emerged from the shop holding four thin iron pins. Seemingly oblivious to the scene she walked in on, she carried them over to the cart and started to put them in. Conversation started among the crowd.

“How much would it cost to fill that cart with fish guts?”

“For what she paid, she could’ve bought the ship herself, probably.”

“Anyone seen the other two? They shouldn’t get off the hook.”

A very polite sort of mob justice followed, with Hayato and Yuuta being guilted into showing themselves and returning what was left of their share of the spoils. Atsushi had already spent his paying off some money he owed his neighbor, and so some ideas were tossed around. Some people suggested writing up his debt to Orin. Others, arguing that it was an act of theft, suggested the public-beating stick be dusted off. Orin had her own thought: come harvest time, have him pay off the debt with food from his farm.

Atsushi threw himself on his hands and knees at my feet. He begged for mercy, and after years of practice, he had become rather good at it.

“Please, Lord Morozumi, my land is so meager and small. A debt is one thing — take my labor, take my money, but please, let me keep the broken grains of rice in my bowl!”

After a few kowtows, he lifted his head and we both looked over towards Orin. Seeing our attention on her, she made the most meek, sad, pitiable frown I had ever seen. Atsushi’s fists balled with the anger of defeat. If you wanted to try and out-manipulate someone, he realized, never tangle with a cat.

It went on the record that Atsushi would pay in-kind when harvest time arrived, and the crowd dispersed. Atsushi would be fine eventually, of course. He’d beg someone not to drive him to begging on the streets if he just owed them dinner. Kogasa finished up the repairs, and the four of us set out once more on the road.

“I’ll just be following ‘til we get close to the village. I have to go see mom— I mean, see Satori before she starts worrying about me. Wow, it really does feel more sturdy,” Orin said, looking back at the cart as she walked. All the connecting parts held tight over any bumps in the road.

“Another satisfied customer.” Kogasa nodded to herself.

The two of them got along well, which made an odd sort of sense, and Kogasa spent the walk asking Orin for the scariest ghost stories she knew, right up until Orin had to say her goodbyes and head off towards the mountains.

Haruma checked the sky as we made it to the Human Village gates. “Looks like we made good time coming here, against all odds.”

“A little scare can get your morning started better than any cup of tea,” Kogasa said, her smug grin showing again.

Even though it wasn’t the early-morning rush or the lunch rush, the Human Village was still thronging with people. Every entrance to the Village would lead its visitor right into a bustling arcade with offers for food, tea, clothes, brooms, playing cards, kitchenware, and more.

“Ah, sheesh, I can’t believe I forgot to ask. I’m assuming it’s at the usual place, right?” I asked Haruma.

“Mhm.”

“Did you get any chance to tell them about our extra guest?”

Haruma let out a laugh. “Yes. It sounded like they thought it’d be some unique entertainment.”

“Whoa, whoa, whoa, are you taking me to a ryoutei?” Kogasa said.

“That’s right,” I said, grinning at the thought.

“Ever been inside one, Kogasa?” Haruma asked.

“Never! I mean, I snuck into the kitchen of one of them once, but I got chased out pretty quick.”

“What have you heard about them?” Haruma showed a rare playful grin.

Ryoutei were the upscale restaurants of the Human Village, though just calling it a ‘restaurant’ was doing it a disservice. They didn’t just offer every type of food you could ever want, they offered entertainment, poetry, music, pretty girls pouring you an endless supply of alcohol, and most importantly, discretion. Eating at one was like having a private palace for an afternoon, and it was no wonder why it’s where deals were made among anyone who mattered in the Human Village. Their status and secrecy were also the source of endless rumors among people who would never get the chance to be inside one.

“Orgies! Cults! Human sacrifices!” Kogasa shouted. The hum of conversation stopped for a moment as everyone turned, saw it was Kogasa, and then resumed their business.

Haruma laughed hard enough to make his shoulders rise.

“Am I gonna get locked up in some nobleman’s basement after the meeting?” Kogasa continued.

“No, sheesh! And don’t smile when you say that!” Haruma said with another laugh.

The ryoutei for our meeting was closer to the center of the village, further away from the noise of the hoi polloi. Whitewashed walls kept any prying eyes away, and a well-trimmed lawn surrounded the building, bragging that it was so wealthy and luxurious they just had some extra land sitting around growing grass.

A prim-looking woman greeted us at the side entrance with a stiff, deep bow. “We’re deeply sorry, sirs. Your hosts informed us that the meeting would have to be delayed slightly. We beg your patience, but if you come back in an hour, we will be ready.”

“Noooooo,” Kogasa said.

“That’s perfectly alright. Thank you for letting us know,” Haruma said. We turned away, and as soon as the woman was out of earshot, he changed his tone.

“Urgh, figures they’d see us as an afterthought. Well, whatever, looks like we have a little bit of time to spend. Anyone have an errand they need to run?”

I thought back to Yae, and my promise to make up for lost time.

[ ] Get a gift for her. Something she’ll enjoy to tell her she’s in my thoughts, even when I’m busy.
[ ] Get something for the meeting tomorrow. Order some food to be sent to lighten her workload and tell her we’re in this together.

Voting closes in

Time remaining: :: Timer ended at: 2018/11/21(Wed)21:30

>>No. 199935
[x] Get a gift for her. Something she’ll enjoy to tell her she’s in my thoughts, even when I’m busy.

These sapphires would accent her eyes...: 24.7 gold
This bracelet is nice.: 12.4 gold
I’ll give her my love.: Yae’s Opinion of You: -5
[Th-this is a tail, isn’t it?]: Goro falls in Love! Yae gets an event: The gift of a Tail. (This option is available because you have a fetish.)
>>No. 199936
[x] Get a gift for her. Something she’ll enjoy to tell her she’s in my thoughts, even when I’m busy.
>>No. 199942
[X] Get a gift for her. Something she’ll enjoy to tell her she’s in my thoughts, even when I’m busy.

seriously need to adopt kogasa
>>No. 199943
>>199942
Adopt a youkai: You have developed a close bond with a youkai who, despite being an ancient being of supernatural power, acts and appears like a young girl. She has grown to respect you. Perhaps it is time that you properly enshrined her as a familiar spirit?

Yae gets an event.
Morozumi Dynasty: Gets an event.
Tatara Kogasa: Gets an event. +15 Opinion.

If Successful: Tatara Kogasa gains title 'Guardian Spirit'
Morozumi Dynasty: +5 Opinion
-10 Cynical Opinion
-50 Zealous Opinion
-25 Other Religious Groups Opinion

Morozumi Dynasty: +10 Opinion with Youkai
>>No. 199951
[x] Get something for the meeting tomorrow. Order some food to be sent to lighten her workload and tell her we’re in this together.
A trinket shows thought. Making her life easier shows consideration.
>>No. 199957
[X] Get a gift for her. Something she’ll enjoy to tell her she’s in my thoughts, even when I’m busy.
>>No. 199959
File154286131614.jpg- (300.81KB, 1200x790, I'm a big fan.jpg) [iqdb]
199959
[x] Get a gift for her. Something she’ll enjoy to tell her she’s in my thoughts, even when I’m busy.

Wandering away from the ryoutei meant we were still smack dab in the middle of one of the upper-class districts, the perfect place to buy a nice gift. It may have been quieter here, but the signs of activity were everywhere: the gentle sound of sawing and carving inside a folding screen-maker’s house, or the clack of a polished-clamshell stone from a friendly game of Go at the nearest teahouse.

“What were you thinking of getting her?” Haruma asked me.

I scratched me chin. I wanted something meaningful, something she couldn’t get from anyone else. Flowers were right out, Yae preferred gifts that didn’t just turn into compost in a week or two. “An accessory could be nice, especially if it was something that could be useful and not just pretty. Something a little more than just decoration.”

“I”m a silversmith too, y’know. Just, since you were speaking of jewelry,” Kogasa cut in.

“Hm… hair clip, folding fan, anything like that?” Haruma offered.

“A folding fan would be perfect.”

“Then I know just the place, follow me.”

He was in his element for once, leading us with confidence through the streets that seemed to change with each step from houses to restaurants to shops. We stopped in front of a large building that nearly hid the street behind it from our view, plunked down by an intersection in a way that seemed to demand the attention of any passers-by. Red cloth signs on black backgrounds were hanging from the roof like war banners:

“Echigoya Merchant House
Crafts of All Makes and Materials
Orders, Deliveries & Commissions”

Kogasa and I stopped to gawk, but Haruma was unfazed by it and waved for us to follow him down the street.

“The stuff in the merchant house is overpriced unless you’re ordering something really big. It’s always better to go right to the maker if you can,” he said.

He led us to the house of one of the fan-makers. That was one of he things that always amazed me about the Human Village. There were so many people that they needed more than one family who did nothing but make folding fans, and each one of them had enough customers to make a good living. After some thinking and a few questions, I walked out with a a fan that opened up to reveal two figures sitting under a tree at one side of it, and a short poem written in calligraphy on the other side, detailing a hot summer afternoon spent in a secret spot of shade. I wasn’t much of a poet, but the meaning would be as clear for her as it was to me: a promise of the lazy summer afternoons we’d spend together once the planting season and the constant meetings were over.
__________

With that business settled, we arrived back at the ryoutei, this time greeted with a smile instead of bad news. The entrance was a humble, innocent-looking unmarked door, but when I stepped inside I was bathed with a sense of luxury. A long polished wood table at in the middle of the room, big enough to seat at least twenty people. A shelf lined with various fortune-bringing figurines and talismans stood up out of arm’s reach, poised to send their good luck to any diners sitting below.

Mr. Sen, one of the people we were schedule to meet, was already seated at the table. His attention was focused on the woman playing the koto in the corner of the room, providing some pleasant but unobtrusive music to the scene. He looked over to us and stood up as we walked inside.

“Ah yes, good. My deepest apologies for the delay, some urgent business came up. Miss Hieda will be with us in just a moment, she’s just dropping something off, and then we’ll be ready to begin.”

“Miss Hieda’s coming?” I said as we took our seats.

“Yes, she’s been involving herself with everything related to Amaden. She’s been avoiding any public statements about it, and hell if I know what she’s cooking up, but she’s definitely cooking up something.”

Mr. Sen quickly shut his mouth as Hieda no Akyuu entered. She saw Kogasa seated next to me, nodded politely, seated herself, and gave each of us a sideways glare before putting her default polite smile back on. With everyone now seated, our hostesses poured us cups of warm sake and the first course of smoked octopus was brought out. The conversation started with some small talk directing the conversation towards Amaden and the Trade Association, easing into the subject at hand.

Everyone here had already had a good while to read over the proposal, form their plans, and discuss it among their house — except for Kogasa, of course — so this meeting wasn’t about explaining anything or working out details. Instead, it was the much more delicate art of sweetening the deal. Miss Hieda could end the deal with a word, and she knew it. We knew it too, and she knew that we knew it, so the burden was on us to grease her and Mr. Sen’s palms just enough for us to slip the pen into their hands.

That sort of work was Haruma’s demain, and as the second course was brought out, small bowls of chilled tofu with three kinds of roe, he gave his first offer. With a few simple little tweaks, Mr. Sen could become one of the co-owners of the exchange center that would be built in Magarimachi, giving him some influence in the running of the business and, more importantly, a share of its income. I knew he’d be one of several co-owners, so his say in the business would be limited and he’d be perfectly free to ignore it and just collect his share. Kogasa was staying on her best behavior as he talked, probably because of the constant side-looks Hieda no Akyuu was giving her.

Up until now, Miss Hieda had been following the conversation in an interested but distant manner, as if she was part of an audience. After Haruma finished his pitch, she spoke up.

“Will you be looking to expand the trade if this goes forward? It’s a rather limited deal.” Her tone was remarkably neutral, not revealing any hint of if she thought a limited deal was a good or bad thing.

“Any expansion would mean another round of contracts, and you’d have a seat at those as well,” Haruma replied.

“I see, thank you. Now then, I’ll agree on two conditions. First, I’m going to send someone in my place to come to your regional meeting tomorrow. Secondly, I want this trading operation to mirror the political stance of the Human Village’s trade with Amaden.”

Haruma hid his reaction, though I couldn’t resist pinching my lips together. We both tried to think of how to ask more about it without sounding like we were trying to find out her future plans.

“It was never our intention for it to be fully independent, or belligerent to the Human Village’s intentions.”

“Good. So if we say our trade with Amaden stops, your trade with Amaden stops. If we support a cause in Amaden, then I want everyone at your exchange supporting the cause too.”

I had to resist the urge to wince. It wasn’t as if she didn’t hold that power already. Once word got out that Hieda no Akyuu had taken a side on an issue, any disagreement would be asking for suspicious glances. Still, hearing her state it so bluntly felt like she was putting me in my place.

We didn’t have a choice, though. Either we agreed or the deal was over. We agreed to the terms, consoling ourselves with the stewed scallops and bamboo shoots that were placed in front of us as the third course arrived. The atmosphere lightened now that the serious discussion had more or less ended, but Miss Hieda’s comments left a cloud hanging over the room. What’s more, the thought of treating myself to high-class cuisine and alcohol while the rest of the family was working hard at home. I kept my drinks to a minimum, and as the last course was served, I knew there was just one choice ahead of me for the evening.

[ ] And that choice was to head home and brace myself for tomorrow.
>>No. 199960
Final third, everyone! Another choiceless update, since this was what a lot of options have been leading up to. That means everyone too preoccupied with turkeycide tomorrow won't be missing their chance to vote. Happy Danksgiving, y'all.
>>No. 199961
[x] Plot to usurp title: Hieda Clan

It’s perfect.
>>No. 199964
Maybe she's a doppelganger? A sudden change in direction and a blunt statement of something tacit are clear indicators.

Seriously now, she obviously is planning something. We'll see, I guess.
>>No. 199967
>>199964
Considering how she stressed following the Village's party line, she may actually be opposed for some reason. Look at how much deference the other guy showed her. It's not hard to believe others might act the same. She could probably give a thumbs-down in a private meeting and scupper the whole thing then.

Definitely something screwy.
>>No. 199968
File15429444556.png- (1.23MB, 900x856, Suzuspectacles.png) [iqdb]
199968
[x] And that choice was to head home and brace myself for tomorrow.

Returning home last night had been like walking into a typhoon. Even Kogasa had gotten involved in the preparations after my mother dragged her out of her hiding spot and put her on porch-sweeping duty. My gift to Yae still sat in my bag. I could hardly say hello to her between all the work, let along present her with the gift, and by the time the work was done we had all collapsed into bed.

We figured a few extra people might be coming up, but I had never expected the scene that greeted me outside the next day. Shigeto and Hirohide where here, of course, along with one or two immediate family members and important subjects of theirs. There was Asagao, a servant of the Hieda family, with the Hieda family crest displayed prominently on the back of her overcoat. Motoori Kosuzu had tagged along with her, looking lost but enjoying herself as she watched the crowd. Even Kokemae, the kappa pencil-pusher from the Trade Association, had somehow caught wind of the meeting and brought himself here with a half-finished paper cup of tea in one hand and an overstuffed briefcase in the other. A sleepy-looking wolf tengu with a nametag marked “Patrolwoman Iwabori — 5th District” was mechanically passing out advertisements for various TA distributors to anyone who wandered within her range.

The gathering had already grown past any size we could reasonably fit inside the compound, and had spilled out onto the main street instead. The local store-owners had already jumped on the opportunity, adding to the noise as they hawked snacks and sweets or a once-in-a-lifetime chance to buy a family heirloom that had been gathering dust.

“I’ll handle them,” my father growled to me, pushing past us and walking through the entrance.

“Right! The regional meeting will begin shortly! Anyone who does not have a food peddling license has five minutes to pack up their carts and leave the area before fines are issued!”

The peddlers started scrambling to pack up, like kids seeing a parent come home early. Haruma put a hand on my shoulder.

“Asagao’s going to be planning something. I don’t know why, but the Hiedas don’t exactly seem enthusiastic about our plan. Asagao’s smart enough that she won’t be tipping Miss Hieda’s plans, so if you ask me, she’ll be trying to stir the pot, rather than try to push any agenda.”

“What about Kosuzu?” I asked.

“She’s… unpredictable. I have no idea why Miss Hieda sent her, since frankly I’d never want her arguing on my behalf. The girl never had a thought she didn’t say out loud. In any case, she’s going to be another source of runarounds. That’s why you’ll need to have my back on this, and I’ll have yours. They might try to get us disagreeing with each other or distract us, or even threaten us. Are you with me?”

I nodded. “You have my complete trust.”

“Good. I won’t misuse that. And I gave the same talk to father a few minutes ago. The Hiedas tried to scare us but I’m not going to cower, and I’m not going to let you cower either.”

Underneath his stony face was a vigor and enthusiasm I hadn’t seen from him in a long time. He looked at me as if he was about to lead us into battle, and in a way, he was. We may have been cornered by a superior army, but if we surrendered, we sacrificed the chance to prove our bravery.

My father walked back to us now that the peddlers had scattered. He rubbed his forehead and looked me over. His face was tense, with creases in his brow as he took slow and heavy breaths.

“The future of Magarimachi’s in your hands, boy. Now that the Hiedas are involved, anything you say and do here will reflect on all of Gensokyo’s opinion of us. I’ll do what I can to help, but I won’t be able to save you. I pray you’ll make us proud.”

“Thank you, father. I… I never thought it would grow into this, but I promise I’ll make you proud. If I can’t handle this, I’m not fit to lead Magarimachi.”

I sniffled and wiped the tears that were forming on my face. Yae and my mother waved to me from the porch, silently cheering me on as we walked past the family walls and the meeting began.

___________

“So it’s just you, huh? Wow, the TA must not really care about this either,” Kosuzu chirped, smiling wide.

The bells in her hair jingled as she turned to talk to an uncomfortable-looking Kokemae. Asagao sat next to her, her small lips drawn in a slight frown as she held herself almost immobile. Patrolwoman Iwabori flinched, looking sad but not surprised to be forgotten already. We had set up an impromptu meeting place in the courtyard, since the meeting room was too small. Yae and my mother bustled around fetching things or serving tea, occasionally needing to be covertly held back by my grandparents when Kosuzu opened her mouth.

“The outreach program had a slight mishap recently. It was something out of any of our hands,” Kokemae said.

“Ohh, that’s right! The tengu Reimu zapped for being a nuisance,” Kosuzu guffawed.

“Ahem. Miss Motoori raises a good point,” Asagao cut in. “Human-youkai relations can be a very sensitive subject. The Human Village is large enough to manage it through careful mediation, but there has already been word of several local incidents.”

“Several?” Kokemae said.

This was bad. Kokemae needed to realize that those two weren’t on his side, and quickly. It’d be an uphill battle getting him to listen to ‘the local yokels,’ as Kosuzu had put it, over two big names from the Human Village, no matter how adversarial they were.

“There was word of a youkai being threatened and forced to pay an absurd sum for fish at Mizumagari. I fear it sets a sour precedence for trade with Amaden. I apologize for having to inform you here, of all places, but it was a recent development,” Asagao said, turning her steady, emotionless eyes towards Kokemae.

I saw Yae and my mother standing behind Kosuzu’s side of the table. They exchanged a quick glance and quietly hurried into the study. Haruma gave a short nod to Shigeto, easy to miss unless I had been watching for it.

“That was unaffiliated with any licensed trade, or anyone from Amaden. The matter has been dealt with and a settlement was reached in both villages involved,” Shigeto spoke up, his serious voice on full display.

“That’s good to hear. Though, if possible, I would like to see any related documents, to make sure the—”

“Then have a look at this!”

Yae hurried to the table, shoving Atsushi’s official agreement to pay Orin come harvest time in front of Asagao’s seat. Yae smirked victoriously at Asagao before realizing she had gotten a bit too excited and shuffled back.

“Is she your wife? Good catch, man,” Kosuzu half-whispered to me.

Kokemae leaned over, taking a look at the document. “Wow,” he said as he scanned over the conclusion.

“We take any act of theft seriously, no matter who the victim or perpetrator is,” I said, crossing my arms.

“That is comforting to know. Then if everyone has seen this document to their satisfaction, let us put it back,” Asagao said icily.

She held the paper out for Yae to take it. Her face showed no change, still stuck in its slight scowl, but it felt to me that we had just scored a victory.

“Wait, was that Atsushi’s name on there? That little punk still owes me late fees,” Kosuzu groused, as if she had any room to call someone else a little punk.

Things seemed to calm down after that as we went over a few minor details involving the ratios of workers and money between the TA, the Human Village, and Magarimachi.

“As long as we’re on the subject, are whorehouses really as important to Amaden as I hear?” Kosuzu blurted out.

“We… we were not on that subject,” Shigeto spluttered, going red in the face.

“I’m just saying, I hear some stories. From friends. And there’s a number of very popular books at Suzunaan about the subject. They just fly off the shelves.”

“I’d appreciate it if we could stay on topic,” Shigeto said.

“I’m just asking! You were going on about trading anything and everything.”

“I’m afraid prostitutes are not a trade good,” Kokemae cut in. His mustache wiggled like an indignant caterpillar.

Hirohide looked slightly surprised and jotted down a quick note. I tried not to think about it, though it would probably be in high demand in a village full of lonely loggers.

The tension was unbearable as we neared the end. Half of us were red-faced, either from embarrassment or anger, and I worried we were one comment away from the whole affair collapsing in front of us. We moved to the issue of building sites and Haruma revealed a map of the local area. To my dismay, Asagao and Kokemae took out their own maps they had brought. A quick comparison showed that they were ever so slightly different in where they placed certain geographic features. That by itself wouldn’t be a problem, but if a mountain base or river tributary was in a slightly different spot, it meant that the borders of the Mountain and the Human Village would be slightly different too. It was almost tailor-made to start an argument.

“We should use our map. It shows the smallest area, and it’s what we’re primarily concerned with here,” I hurried to add.

“Ahem. Mr. Morozumi, you agreed that this trading operation would mirror the Human Village’s political stances. If you share our stance, you use our maps,” Asagao said, jabbing her map with a finger and talking down to us like troublemaking children.

“You what?” Kokemae shouted.

“Why would that be a problem, Mr. Kokemae? This just means they’ll operate by the same rules as our already-existing trade relations. It would only be cause for concern if you were looking to influence local opinion.” Asagao’s lips turned up at the edges in a slight hint of a smirk before settling back down to their normal position.

“Let me see that map,” Kokemae huffed, snatching Asagao’s map and putting it next to his.

He traced a finger along a part of it. The valley between the river and Amaden was wider than on the other maps, and little bits of Amaden’s borders were shaved off around the corners. They were subtle changes, only visible to someone looking for them, but they all favored the Human Village.

“And you had the gall to accuse me of influencing… Miss Asagao, do you have any idea what this means?”

“Mr. Kokemae, I assure you, the terms are the same as—”

“The hell they are! I’ve seen Human Village maps before, and this one is decidedly different.”

Kokemae rose to his feet, map in one hand as he pointed at Asagao with his other hand. “Miss Asagao, may I remind you that Amaden is still a Mountain tributary? If you knowingly brought this… this forgery of a map to our discussion, then this is tantamount to a land grab! I’m giving you one chance to walk back on this, Miss Asagao. Drop the subject and agree to use one of the other maps. If you do not, I will have no choice but to return to the Mountain and inform the Youkai Mountain government that you have attempted to fabricate a claim on Mountain land!

Kosuzu snickered.

“And why in Moriya’s name is she still here?” Kokemae roared, jabbing a finger at Kosuzu.

“Cause it’s fun to make you mad. Akyuu promised me a book if I tagged along,” Kosuzu said with another snicker.

Asagao’s eyes snapped open wide, though her mouth remained set.

“You little… Did Hieda send you here just to cause trouble?” Hirohide shouted, standing up to join Kokemae.

“Yeah, I mean, we’re meeting in someone’s backyard, so when Akyuu asked me if I could help derail the meeting, I thought, ‘How hard could it—’ hgggk!”

Asagao’s long, slender arm hooked around Kosuzu’s neck in a single jerking motion, putting her in a chokehold.

“You had one job, Kosuzu. One job,” she hissed as she squeezed her arm around her.

___________

Roughly half an hour later, the dust had settled. Hirohide was having a hushed conversation with Kokemae about Amaden-based suppliers of erotic literature, seemingly unperturbed by the black eye he received from Asagao while peeling her off of Kosuzu. Asagao approached us, her face painted with embarrassment, and bowed.

“My deepest, sincerest apologies for my behavior. I implore you not to consider my actions as reflecting on the character of the Hieda estate,” she said.

[ ] This matter goes far beyond Magarimachi. We have no choice but to let it be known.
[ ] Offer to forgive and forget the whole affair. Forgiveness, Haruma once told you, is the first step for proper blackmail.

Voting closes at

Time remaining: :: Timer ended at: 2018/11/23(Fri)21:30

>>No. 199969
File154295060646.png- (170.80KB, 438x464, carefully consider.png) [iqdb]
199969
This is a really tough question.

Do we spread Vicious Rumours about the Hieda, or do we extort a Favour out of them?

On the one hand, if we were already agitating to splinter the hold of the Hieda over us, and damage their influence in the village, this sort of incident would be just the thing we'd need to sway anyone on the fence or cause their less-reliable allies to distance themselves.

But we're not. We haven't been. The ones who would benefit the most from that would be Amaden. We might be able to leverage a favour from them for it, if we'd already discussed it with them and were, again, acting against the Hieda explicitly.

At least the other option does give us benefits directly. Swaying opinions about the Hieda is one thing, but direct benefits are another altogether.

I really, really, really want to blacken the eye of the Hieda Clan, though...

Or just Akyuu's eye. Just give Akyuu an actual black eye.

Hrm.


...fffffine, but I reserve the right to come back and second-guess myself later.

[x] Offer to forgive and forget the whole affair. Forgiveness, Haruma once told you, is the first step for proper blackmail.
>>No. 199970
[x] Offer to forgive and forget the whole affair. Forgiveness, Haruma once told you, is the first step for proper blackmail.
-[x] But you will owe us a favor for that one.

Chansu da ze!
>>No. 199971
Also we should have let her strangle Kosuzu. Nothing of value would have been lost.
>>No. 199972
[X] Offer to forgive and forget the whole affair. Forgiveness, Haruma once told you, is the first step for proper blackmail.
>>No. 199975
[x] Offer to forgive and forget the whole affair. Forgiveness, Haruma once told you, is the first step for proper blackmail.

Leverage on the personal emissary of the Hieda is a pretty big deal, especially if Akyuu is going to be difficult to deal with in the future.
>>No. 199977
It's Kokemae she should be worried about keeping quiet, anyhow.
>>No. 199982
[x] This matter goes far beyond Magarimachi. We have no choice but to let it be known.

If she sent someone directly to cause discord, I doubt it will stop there. Forewarned is forearmed.
>>No. 199983
[x] This matter goes far beyond Magarimachi. We have no choice but to let it be known.
b u l l i
>>No. 199989
[x] Offer to forgive and forget the whole affair. Forgiveness, Haruma once told you, is the first step for proper blackmail.

Got eeeeeem
>>No. 199990
File154302967931.jpg- (23.50KB, 472x472, the face of chaos.jpg) [iqdb]
199990
[x] Offer to forgive and forget the whole affair. Forgiveness, Haruma once told you, is the first step for proper blackmail.

"Bloody humans," Patrolwoman Iwabori sighed as Kosuzu flailed in her grip. She held her up by the ankle, like holding a venomous snake at bay, as Kosuzu slapped at the air helplessly.

"You can't arrest me! The only crimes I'm guilty of are being cute and speaking my mind! There’s that one fraud case, but that’s being handled in another jurisdiction!”

“I told you, I’m not arresting you. Just stop trying to run every time I put you down. Buf!” Iwabori let out a woof-like noise as Kosuzu’s hand got a little too close to slapping her.

Kokemae dabbed at his forehead with a handkerchief, wiping up the sweat that was still beading even after things had calmed down a little. He joined the huddle we had formed on the porch, where we were out of earshot for Asagao and Kosuzu but still able to keep an eye on them.

“Hi, so, whew! Listen, I kind of blanked out for a minute back there. Did I say anything I’ll regret?”

I exchanged a few looks with my family. Haruma shook his head.

“It had a lot of ‘if’s. It was certainly passionate, but it was more a suspicion than an accusation, and given the circumstances, you had reason for it,” he said.

“Oh, thank Tenma.” Kokemae gave his brow one more wipe, then folded up his handkerchief.

“It was kind of cool, to be honest,” I said.

Kokemae looked up, suddenly grinning so wide that his mouth hung open slightly.

“Really?”

“Yeah, that was like something out of a court intrigue story.”

Kokemae basked in the praise. Haruma gave me the quick smile he used to show I was doing well in following his plan. I wondered if he thought I was just buttering up Kokemae so he’d help us, but I believed what I said. I got to watch someone point a finger at a Hieda clan envoy and accuse her of conspiracy, and if that wasn’t awesome, nothing was.

“Stay focused, Goro. This is an opportunity,” my father cut in, nudging his head toward Asagao.

The huddle continued. After a quick discussion, we agreed that pressing the issue publicly wasn’t the way to go. The Hieda clan could claim that it was all an honest mistake, or kick out Asagao to save face. Kokemae agreed, adding that the Mountain was busy with its own host of problems, and escalating anything related to Amaden was strictly a last resort.

That didn’t mean that all this wasn’t useful, though. The threat of a potential headache that could be deployed at will was a powerful one. We’d just have to use a little tact and the right amount of pressure as we put our plan in action.

__________

“Right, I think it’s safe to say nobody here wants to see this turn into a major diplomatic incident,” I said to Asagao, sitting back down at the table.

She made a single, stiff nod of her head.

“So, considering the circumstances, the best way to avoid any suspicion right now is for you, as envoy of the Hieda clan, to sign off on the proposal as it stands, since we’ve followed the concessions Miss Hieda requested.”

“Debatable,” Asagao said, somehow filling her droning voice with malice.

“We’re willing to let this go and give you a show of good will, and we’d like a show of good will in return. If the Hieda clan continues to interfere, however, you never know when someone might leave an anonymous list of someone’s wrongdoings at an important doorstep, and if witnesses come forward saying…”

“Fine,” Asagao cut in, snatching the last page of the document and taking out her copy of the Hieda clan’s seal.

“I still get the book from Akyuu, right?” Kosuzu said.

“Shut up,” Asagao said as she stamped her approval.

__________

Kosuzu and Asagao refused to leave with their tail between their legs, holding their heads high instead as we escorted them out of the Morozumi compound entrance. I saw Kogasa half-hidden along the corner of the wall, but before I could say anything, Asagao turned her head and gave her a glare infernally frightening enough to make her think twice.

With those two gone, the rest of us shared one more round of bows, farewells, and high hopes. People trickled out one by one. Even Haruma went back to his apartment in the Human Village, wanting to see his wife, Nazuna, and keep an eye on the aftermath of the meeting. I closed the compound doors and turned around, seeing the rest of my family still standing on the porch.

“We did it!” I pumped my fists in the air.

Yae ran up for a hug, almost knocking me over as she threw her arms around me.

“Thank you so much for your help. You got those papers out just in time,” I said, returning the hug, gently swaying back and forth as I held her in my arms.

“You looked so cool and confident, honey,” Yae said, resting her head against my shoulder.

“I couldn’t have done it without you.”

I looked up to see my parents and grandparents smiling as they started to drift around the house, getting back to a normal day’s business after that whole affair. There was no tongue-cluck or sideways look over being a little too publicly enthusiastic for each other. We had worked hard for this, I thought to myself. We’d earned it.

“Oh, that’s right. Come with me. I got you something.”

I led Yae to the storeroom and opened my bag, handing her the gift. She unwrapped it, then spread the fan open.

“A little something for the lazy summer days,” I said.

“Goro, it’s gorgeous,” she breathed.

She looked it over, then slowly folded it up and set it safely aside. She turned around and slid the door closed, then turned back to me with her special smile.

“Honey?” I said.

Yae wrapped her arms around me, holding me tighter this time, enough for me to feel her body against mine.

“You’re all done, Goro. And that means we can make up for lost time, right?” she said, then peppered me with little kisses to make sure I got the point.

“Mhm.”

I put a hand along the back of her head, stroking her soft, straight hair. In a few days I’d be busy again, approving building plans and taking visits from merchants, but for now, I was free. I could take Yae on a little vacation somewhere, just the two of us.

[ ] Let’s spend a night somewhere in the Human Village. We can treat ourselves to good food and entertainment — as long as it’s far away from where the Hiedas live.
[ ] Let’s spend a night somewhere in Amaden. We can see the place for ourselves and slip away from any prying eyes.
[ ] Let’s spend a night right here, and just relax.
>>No. 199991
[X] Let’s spend a night somewhere in Amaden. We can see the place for ourselves and slip away from any prying eyes.

gotta stop at the tail cafe
>>No. 199992
[x] Let’s spend a night somewhere in Amaden. We can see the place for ourselves and slip away from any prying eyes.
My favourite place in the world.
>>No. 199993
[x] Let’s spend a night somewhere in Amaden. We can see the place for ourselves and slip away from any prying eyes

Work AND fun
>>No. 199994
[x] Let’s spend a night somewhere in Amaden. We can see the place for ourselves and slip away from any prying eyes.

What better place to get our wife a nice tail than the place that taught us their wonder?
>>No. 199995
[X] Let’s spend a night somewhere in Amaden. We can see the place for ourselves and slip away from any prying eyes.

Try as you might, the allure of the tail will always reel you back in.
>>No. 199999
[x] Let’s spend a night somewhere in the Human Village. We can treat ourselves to good food and entertainment — as long as it’s far away from where the Hiedas live.
I wouldn't say that Amaden is the most romantic of places.
>>No. 200001
File154308827768.png- (199.70KB, 600x600, nazget.png) [iqdb]
200001
NAZGET!
>>No. 200002
>>200001
FFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFF
>>No. 200004
File154308913372.jpg- (446.78KB, 600x847, nazget noooooooo.jpg) [iqdb]
200004
>>200001
>nazposter on missing the slowest GET in history
>>No. 200005
File154309098492.png- (57.49KB, 251x251, 1412199595576-4.png) [iqdb]
200005
>>200001
Close

>>200000
>>No. 200006
[x] Let’s spend a night somewhere in Amaden. We can see the place for ourselves and slip away from any prying eyes

Why, where on earth would Goro want to go in Amaden? Is there some sort of attraction he's already visited there?
>>No. 200007
File154311556545.jpg- (280.10KB, 600x800, Kogasa is too pure to go to Amaden night life tho.jpg) [iqdb]
200007
“Let’s do something special to celebrate. Let’s go to Amaden.”

“Aww, but it’s so far away,” Yae mock-pouted.

“But you know what that means, right? We can get a nice, private room to ourselves. No interruptions from family members, no sudden messages, nobody from the Human Village coming to drop by…”

I pressed my lips to Yae, less of a kiss than a slow, gentle moment of connection.

“On one condition,” she whispered to me.

I let out a soft laugh through my nose. I already had a hunch what her condition would be.

__________

I thought I had seen Amaden before, but that was late-morning Amaden, during business hours. This time I was getting my first glimpse of evening Amaden, when the bean-counters began to flood out of their offices in search of food and vices, and it made my previous vision of Amaden look downright reserved compared to the glowing signs and hawking voices I saw now.

The queue at Furu-Furu Tapas Bar and Tail Cafe was still thankfully short. As we approached the front desk, Yae pulled out a card from underneath her robe. She looked up at me with a smile I could only describe as devilish. It was Ayu’s business card, complete with a note from her saying “see you again~ <3” written in the corner.

“I never even knew she gave me a card,” I stammered.

“It fell out of your bag when you got home. You were already so nervous about telling me, so I just didn’t mention it. Ahem, is Ayu here tonight?” Yae turned to the waitress at the front desk.

The waitress pursed her lips and glanced to the side before putting on her business smile. She must’ve had different expectations when an out-of-town woman brought her man into a tail cafe and started naming names. Seeing neither of us looking particularly angry, she relaxed.

“As a matter of fact, she is! And I’m sure you’d both like a tail of your own to pet, isn’t that right?” the waitress said to me.

“Surprise him,” Yae said, still grinning.

“Erm, not too much of a surprise,” I added.

The waitress led us past the line of booths up front. Many of them were already occupied, including one where a wiry mouse-girl sat with a heavy scowl.

“Can you believe it? Honestly, as if babysitting at the temple wasn’t enough. You’d think being a top flunkey of Bishamonten himself would mean something would go right for me. Honestly!” The mouse-girl harrumphed loud enough to be heard several booths down as she petted the tail of a wolf tengu desperately trying not to look bored.

The waitress led us into a small maze of larger booths, all carefully positioned like miniature rooms to provide maximum discretion in as little space as possible. The booth was circular, letting Yae and I sit next to each other while leaving room for our soon-to-be guests.

We ordered some beer to start. We had barely any time to wait in excitement before Ayu came out to meet us with pitchers of beer and water along with empty mugs. Another wolf tengu girl followed just behind her, a striking beauty with silvery white hair. She was a smidgen taller than her partner, and when she leaned over to see us, I couldn’t help but notice she was more filled-out in the hips and buttocks region too. Ayu made a beeline towards me, but Yae caught her attention.

“Nope, you’ll be with me tonight, cutie,” Yae said.

Ayu’s smile went blank for a moment before she composed herself and sat down next to Yae. The other girl took her seat next to me.

“I’m Momo. I hope I’m a pleasant enough surprise for you,” she giggled, showing me a winning smile as if I’d already enchanted her.

“You’re a very pleasant surprise,” I said.

“That smile of yours… You’ve got something in mind, don’t you?” Momo said with a smirk that said she had something in mind too.

I looked back and forth between Yae and Momo. Yae blushed and took a sip of beer, starting to look a little nervous now that she was so close to the forbidden fruit.

“We were both hoping to get the chance to… give your tails a pet.”

Momo wiggled in her seat as she let out another soft laugh. “Is that right?”

“Goro’s got a very gentle touch,” Ayu chimed in.

“Ahem, you’re with me tonight, aren’t you?” Yae cut in, though her confidence was starting to falter.

“Oh goodness, sorry. I didn’t mean to ignore you.” Ayu, now comfortably back into her tengu hostess persona, batted her eyelashes at Yae and swished her tail in wide sweeps, making it impossible for her to ignore the sight.

“Mm, don’t you go ignoring me either,” Momo purred.

This time, it seemed, there wouldn’t be any small talk before getting to the action. She took my wrist in her hand with a loose, gentle grip as she turned towards me. She led my hand around her, behind her waist and down to the base of her tail. Her tail was thicker than Ayu’s, with long hairs that weaved through my fingers. Petting her tail felt like putting on a warm coat on a cold winter’s day.

Yae blinked, then picked up her mug of beer and drained it. She reached out slowly for the tail, wiggling her fingers to prepare them for the sensation. Ayu tilted her hips, bringing the target closer to Yae’s hand.

“Oh my, that’s soft,” Yae gasped as she made first contact.

“Nnh, you’re touching it so delicately,” Ayu murmured.

“Do you like it delicate?” Yae said. Her face was still flushed, but it was a different tint now, less embarrassment and more the alcohol hitting her.

“It, um, it tickles a little,” Ayu said with a demure smile.

“Hmhm, you aren’t going to let her outperform you, right?” Momo giggled.

“Outperform?” I said.

Momo pulled herself into my lap, sitting sideways and leaning against me. “You’re going to make me feel as good as she does, aren’t you?”

On cue, Ayu began shivering and letting out soft oohs as Yae stroked her tail with more confidence. Yae’s eyes went wide as the devilish grin returned to her face.
__________

“Feel free to come back! Just, there’ll be a three-drink limit next time,” Ayu consoled us as we were gently but firmly escorted past the rear exit of Furu-Furu’s. The door closed shut behind us with a heavy click of the lock.

“Wow,” Yae breathed, her hair still mussed and sweat still beading on her face.

“Yeah,” I breathed, taking a few deep breaths.

“That was entirely worth it,” Yae said after a moment of pensive silence.

“Yeah. But let’s never tell anyone else about that, right?”

“Agreed,” Yae nodded, running her fingers through her hair to set it straight.

We took to looking for a place to spend the night as it started to get dark, exploring Amaden as if we were wandering along in the wind. I was still tipsy, but more than that, I was deeply drunk on the wonderful freedom. No matter where I went before, whether it was the Human Village or Magarimachi or any of the dozens of other villages, one day’s adventure became the next day’s gossip. I could never know if or when I was about to bump into someone who knew me and let all of Gensokyo know what they saw me doing. Here, though, we were faceless. I smiled down at Yae, and I could see the same thoughts written on her face.

We came to a street packed with ‘love hotels.’ The phrase was new to me, but there wasn’t much room to misinterpret a name like that. We passed by the gaudy ones with neon lights, and passed especially quickly by the grungy, cheap-looking ones, until we found a smaller one with a stylized antique look to it and a wooden placard that said “Pillow Book” hanging from the front of the roof.

“Ooh, ‘courtesan’ rooms?” Yae said, reading off the sign next to the receptionist.

“Those are our special rooms, behind a secret tunnel, just like the secret trysts of emperors from centuries ago,” the receptionist said.

Yae nearly melted at the thought. “Is one available?”

The receptionist handed us a key once we fumbled our way through paying up-front. “The tunnel has a two-meter clearance. Pillow Book is not responsible for any injury, mental distress, or loss of property suffered during passage through the tunnels. Second one on the right, and have a good night, you two,” he finished with a wink.
__________

Elsewhere in Amaden, three figures met in secret, their bodies only visible as shadows in the dark room.

“So he’s already here?” said one figure. It had a man’s voice, clipped and precise but with just a hint of aristocratic bearing.

“Yes, he came here with his wife late this afternoon. We have them right where we want them,” said the second figure, a woman’s breathy voice that seemed to ooze control and influence.

“Excellent. It seems Goro was kind enough to do our work for us.”

“Woof, woof,” said the third figure. It was a dog.

“I’m well aware that it’s dark, but candles are expensive. Remember the diagram?”

The second figure sighed before speaking in unison with the first figure.

“’Free’ in Amaden means everyone is paying for it.”

To Be Continued
>>No. 200008
I find hilarious the fact that touching a fluffy tail is such an experience. I can't say J don't envy them though
>>No. 200009
glad to see lil naz getting some pets in
>>No. 200020
Drinks drank! Tails touched! Shadowy cabals caballed!

Naz entertained?
>>No. 200027
File15431983736.jpg- (142.83KB, 591x906, Maridog.jpg) [iqdb]
200027
The Trade Association had started as a loose collection of like-minded retailers and innkeepers, back when Amaden was little more than a rest stop for the scattered tea plantations along the edge of Youkai Mountain territory. Amaden grew from a rest stop to a village, from a village to a market town, from a market town to a burgeoning metropolis.

Likewise, the TA had swelled from an informal gathering to a de facto local government with obligations and a chain of command, still run by those same retailers and innkeepers. Ama’ake was the Executive Councillor, tasked with leading meetings of the General Assembly, where Amaden-wide issues were discussed. It was ostensibly a title of great authority and power, but in practice, he thought, he was a glorified babysitter. Being a unique experiment within Gensokyo, the Assembly had none of the breathless pomp and rituals that usually served to keep things on track. Thus, most of his time during meetings was spent keeping down personal spats, stamping out outrageous calls for favoritism, and taking the liquor and dice games away from bored councilmen.

It was noon as Ama’ake sat on the third-floor patio of the TA headquarters building, getting a view from above of Amaden’s main artery. Joining him were the two others who made up his personal cabinet of advisors. There was Hitsuji, an elegantly slender woman who had worked as an courtesan before making enough business and earning enough ‘favors’ to start a place of her own. Her transition into the TA was seamless, and she quickly rose through the ranks. As she had put it, “the only difference between this and my old job is that in politics, the dick-sucking is figurative.”

The other was Hoppi, a talking Shiba Inu. Her origins were unknown; she had simply shown up one day along with a corner store selling newspapers, snacks, and tobacco. She was cute as a button, and because of her chubby cheeks and curly-q tail and fluffy, toasty-brown coat, few people realized how ruthless she was at negotiating until it was too late. She was singularly responsible for the creation of Amaden’s bottled pre-brewed tea industry thanks to that advantage.

Ama’ake had hoped that someday, the other councilmen might wonder why they were being outperformed by a prostitute and a dog. He still hoped.

“The Morozumis are here to see you, sir,” a TA clerk said from behind the door to the patio.

“Good. Let them in.”

A husband and wife stepped out onto the patio: Goro and Yae Morozumi. They were dressed in casual clothes, showing a spring tan along their faces and forearms. Parts of the side of Goro’s short hair stuck up like broom bristles, and the indentation of a pillow was still visible along the side of Yae’s hair. They bowed, then looked at Ama’ake with a confused expectation, knowing he was important but not really knowing why.

“We got your letter, sir,” Goro spoke up.

Hitsuji was a co-owner of Pillow Book, so it was simple to leave a discreet note for them to find when they woke up. Ama’ake nodded to Goro and Yae.

“I received a report from Kokemae about the meeting yesterday in Magarimachi. It seemed to cause a bit of a stir.”

“Did it say anything about the, ahem, the maps?” Goro coughed.

“It mentioned some trouble there, yes. I’d like to hear your side of the story first, though.”

“Well, I just, um… The Hiedas brought a map with some things shifted on it, they made the Human Village look a little bigger than it was, and Kokemae said if they tried to push it he’d say they were fabricating a claim on Mountain land.”

Ama’ake pursed his lips, but said nothing. He looked neutral, not blank and stiff like Asagao, but like a judge. The silence pressed on Goro, starting to feel a little like a counter-accusation.

“I just… all I wanted to do was set up a trade post, you know? I never meant for this to get political and turn into a scandal,” he sighed.

Ama’ake shook his head. “Well, the good news is that we certainly have no intentions of escalating this.”

“The bad news?”

“The bad news is that trade is always political. The General Assembly claims to be a place where different districts can cooperate, but at every meeting there will be tengu saying humans have an unfair advantage, humans saying tengu have an unfair advantage, and kappa insisting on raising a stink about— ahem. That is to say, I’m sure the moment we have another talking dog running a store in Amaden, they can depend on Hoppi’s support, if you understand what I’m getting at.”

“Unless they’re a Spitz,” Hoppi added with a flop of the head.

Goro and Yae reeled back as Hoppi spoke. Hoppi gave them a look that managed to convey that they shouldn’t make a big deal out of it, despite her limited degree of facial expressions.

“With that said, there are a sizeable number of humans in Amaden, as you can see,” Ama’ake gestured to himself and Hitsuji, then to Goro, waiting for him to fill in the next part.

Goro shook his head. “I’m not going to take a position. I’m staying neutral.”

“Neutrality is a position in and of itself, Morozumi. I don’t wonder if that’s why the Hieda clan has been pestering you. They’ve refused to take any official stance on Amaden’s status, whether it should ‘belong’ to humans or tengu or be officially independent. They could be keeping that in their back pocket, waiting for the right moment to pick a side, or try to eke out more bribes and promises from one side. They might also just be doing it for the hell of it, the loony little…” Ama’ake cleared his throat again. “I hope my point is clear.”

Goro nodded. “Is that what you brought me here to tell me, sir?”

“Part of it. There’s one more matter. Kokemae remarked on an interest in the purchase of erotic literature. Well, Hitsuji here is becoming invested in the market,” Ama’ake said.

Hitsuji nodded. Hoppi got up on his hind legs and put a paw on the table.

“And may I interest you in the purchase of bottled tea? It’s increasingly popular among all small retailers for its portability and convenience.”

“Aww, such a cute little dealmaker!” Yae beamed at Hoppi, reaching a hand out.

“I would recommend against that, she bites,” Ama’ake said.

__________

That brings us to the end of the Goro’s story, or at least, to the end of the bit that’s told in chronological order from a single perspective. We’ve still got a few days left to Nano-Reimu, though, which gives us some time to explore around. We could fast-forward a bit to see the epilogue to Goro and Yae’s adventures, take a look at where some of the other characters wound up, look at an alternate scenario, or any other little nooks and crannies of Rural Concord that spark your curiosity.

[ ] See the epilogue
[ ] Where did _____ wind up? (choose a character)
[ ] What if _____? (choose an alternate scenario)
[ ] Other
>>No. 200029
[X] Where did Kogasa wind up?
>>No. 200030
[X] Where did Kogasa wind up?

MOAR UMBRELLA!
>>No. 200031
[X] Where did Kogasa wind up?
>>No. 200035
[x] What if we tried to punish Hieda?

I'm curious about where goro ends up, but we'll find about that in the epilogue I guess
>>No. 200036
that's a big doggo
>>No. 200037
[x] Where did Kogasa wind up?
[x] Where did Ayu wind up?

Tell us about our girls!
>>No. 200038
> That brings us to the end of the Goro’s story, or at least, to the end of the bit that’s told in chronological order from a single perspective.

Wot? I thought it's just starting to get interesting!
>>No. 200039
Let's see, where to start...

[x] Where did Orin end up?
[x] Where did Asagao end up?
[x] Where did Kosuzu end up?
[x] Where did the three stooges from Magarimachi all end up?
[x] Where did Ayu end up?
[x] Where did Koyomi end up?
[x] What if Goro and Yae had gone to the Village instead of Amaden?
[x] What if Goro didn't forgive and forget the whole affair?
[x] What if Goro misdirected instead of making Atsushi own up for scamming Orin?
[x] What if the plan had been to let the Village negotiate with the TA?
[x] What if Goro had bulli'd Kogasa?
[x] What if Goro had run across a mouse-wielding Buddhist youkai?
[x] What if Goro hadn't taken on his father's attitude?
[x] What if Goro hadn't decided to fess up about touching fluffy tails?
[x] What if those three stooges hadn't been sent to Mizumagari?
[x] What if Goro had gotten eager about kappa-tech harvesters?
[x] What if Goro had chatted up the fellow human at the TA office?
[x] What if Goro hadn't touched fluffy tail?
[x] What if Goro had gone anywhere but Amaden at the start?

Kind of a dick move, I know, but I can't help wanting to know, y'know?
>>No. 200043
[X]How would the Furu-Furu scene play out if Goro was a female and the wolfs were male?
>>No. 200044
>>200043

I’d like to vehemently second this question.
>>No. 200045
>>200043
>genderswapping OCs
y tho
>>No. 200046
File154328628550.jpg- (131.96KB, 850x1092, boogityboo.jpg) [iqdb]
200046
The ink was scarcely dry on the final signatures that opened up Amaden-Magarimachi trade before the effects became visible. Half-finished buildings, stalls, and carts stood just outside the cluster of established buildings in the village center, and every day brought a few new venturers and small-time merchants wanting an early look.

Tatara Kogasa was talking with one of those small-time merchants, a young-looking crow tengu woman with curly black hair and yellow-tipped feather. She gestured at the selection of everyday metal necessities she had laid out on the table in front of her: a shovel blade, a kitchen knife, a small collection of sewing needles.

“So you can see my handiwork for yourself. I can take commissions and orders no matter how small, whether that’s a small order or an order of small things.”

The crow tengu picked up one of the needles, giving it a once-over before setting it back down. “It’s certainly solid craftsmanship. Are you licensed to sell to Trade Association members?”

“Ah, yes, one moment. I have it right here, I just need a moment to BOO!”

Kogasa opened her umbrella in the crow tengu’s face, making her stumble back. In the second it too her to catch her footing, Kogasa had already vanished, along with the display of her wares.

__________

My family had given Kogasa a lukewarm reception at first, but she was growing on them whether they liked it or not. She had even coaxed my mother into giving her the occasional candy and affectionate tousle when she came over to visit, though it often came with a stern but loving lecture about staying out of trouble. I was almost worried she was going to run a racket, bouncing from room to room at the Morozumi compound getting a treat and a head-pat from everyone she encountered.

It was possible that she had already done just that, since I happily gave her a cup of tea when she found me and Yae in the living room.

“Humans like youkai-made stuff, right? That’s how all your legends go, some dork finds a magic youkai sword, full to bursting with whatnot, and it gives him all kinds of powers,” she pouted after taking a sip.

“With whatnot?” I asked.

“Y’know. Full of youkai… magic… juice, or whatever it is.”

“I suppose it’s not exactly untrue,” I said.

“Then how come, hypothetically speaking, when a cute youkai who’s a skilled blacksmith and a natural salesmen tries to sell my — sell her stuff, it never goes right?”

“Aw, there there,” Yae said, putting a comforting hand on Kogasa’s shoulder.

“For all they know, my stuff could be full of power too. Maybe my shovel blades could dig on their own, or the sewing needles could automatically dye cloth while you make it,” Kogasa continued, looking forlorn at her bag of unsold ironware.

“That’d be a loom, wouldn’t it? You use needles to…”

Yae waved my words aside. “Let a girl dream, Goro.”

“Yae, can’t you tell her she just needs to get a license?”

“But that’s so boring! You need to fill out papers, and then wait to get approved, but I already have stuff to sell now!”

“Have you tried asking the smith? You seem to get along well with him. He’s let you use his furnace.”

“Yeah, but he said he doesn’t have to deal with the TA ‘cause he just sells stuff locally.” Kogasa heaved her shoulders and frowned, as if that was proof that the world was conspiring against her.

“Well, maybe you should go work with him some more. Who knows? With all the things happening here, he might have too much work for one person,” Yae offered. Her shoulder-pat grew into a hug from the side as she leaned closer to Kogasa.

“That’s it!” Kogasa shouted, sitting straight up and nearly knocking Yae backwards.

“You see? The answer was right in front of—”

Kogasa interrupted Yae. “The black market! You don’t need a license to sell there.”

“Um, dear, I don’t think—”

“Thanks for your help, I’m off to find the nearest moving-man!”

Kogasa picked up her bag, skipped out of the room, and took to the sky. Yae and I stood up, watching her as she floated away.

“I’m a little worried that someday her visits will be less like doting on a kid and more like harboring a wanted criminal,” I said.

“Yeah. We’d still harbor her, though,” Yae said.

“Yeah.”

__________

(Votes will be collated, and not all of them will take an entire update, so feel free to vote for several options. I took off the ‘epilogue’ option because I figure it deserves to be its own 30th post. Pretend I listed all the options in >>200039 and gave each one its own choice so I don't have to make the options bigger than the update)


[ ] Where did _____ wind up? (choose a character)
-- [ ] Orin, Asagao, Koyomi, Atsushi, Ama'ake, and any other of Goro's friends, family members, and local stooges
[ ] What if _____? (choose an alternate scenario)
-- [ ] Tail resistance, Nazcounter, sprung upon by spring faerie, umbrella bullying, non-Amaden beginnings, etc.

>>200043

ask Yae
>>No. 200047
[X] What if _____? (choose an alternate scenario)
[X] Nazcounter
[X] Sprung upon by spring faerie
[X] Where did _____ wind up? (choose a character)
[X] Orin
>>No. 200048
[x] >>200039
[x] >>200043

It’s easier this way.
>>No. 200049
[x] Where did Ayu wind up?
[x] What if _____?
-- [x] Nazcounter
-- [x] umbrella bullying

Was not bullying the umbrella our one great mistake?
>>No. 200050
[X] What if _____?
-[X] Goro had cheated on Yae with Ayu.
>>No. 200056
[x] What if _____? (choose an alternate scenario)
-- [x] Tail resistance, Nazcounter, Spring Fairy, Orin

"Orin" means what alternate consequences could have had the Orin event.
>>No. 200064
[x] >>200039
Rather than repeat myself...
>>No. 200068
File154336510721.png- (253.88KB, 719x900, Naz is the angers.png) [iqdb]
200068
[x] ...an overly enthusiastic faerie of spring.

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.

All those emergency measures sat unused as I walked through the forest. The parts of the forest closer to the settlement were divided up into sections owned by individual families, but this far out was the commons, owned by the village as a whole. There was an eye-crossing list of unspoken rules about what could be taken by whom, and when, and how much, and secondhand stories of brawls starting from something like a fox being hunted during mating season made their way to me every year.

There was no arguing it was worth the trouble, though. The forest was like a single massive creature, humming softly with the crunch of deer hooves on leaves, the chirp of insects, and the swaying of tree branches. My eye was drawn to a splash of pink color near the trail. A patch of peonies, previously wilted, had sprung back into full bloom. I slowed my steps to look at it, but they soon began to wilt again. I looked ahead, seeing a thin patch of flowers blooming in front of me like a carpet unrolling.

“Hello?”

I called up as I heard a tree branch rustle. I couldn’t help smiling, since I had a hunch who it was. The rustling stopped, and I was able to hear a soft buzz for just a moment.

“Is that you, Lily White?”

I heard the same soft buzz.

“It’s still spring, isn’t it?”

“Yes!”

As I suspected, Lily White burst out from the leaves of a nearby tree. She was the rarest of sights: a faerie everyone was happy to see. She swooped down, her long blonde hair rippling in the wind. A row of thin wings, like the petals of a flower, buzzed behind her as she flew in a circle around me, rejuvenating the dead and wilted flowers in her wake. She sang at the top of her lungs as she swooped and corkscrewed through the air.

“It’s spring! Spring is here, winter is over and spring is here!”

As suddenly as it had started, she drifted to a stop and plopped down on her feet next to me.

“But not much longer,” she sighed.

She was right. We were in the last month of spring, which was probably why she was this far east to begin with. She gave a forlorn little kick to a patch of dry leaves on the floor, briefly turning them green and full again.

“You should enjoy it while it lasts though, right?” I said.

“I s’pose. It’s just, this spring was extra beautiful and springish, and I don’t wanna see it go,” she sighed again.

“Do you want to follow me? I’m going east too, so you can tag along.”

Lily lifted her head and smiled at me. She nodded, then hopped behind me and started crawling up my back. She was short enough that it took her a few good steps to make her way up it. Her arms draped over my shoulders, her light body taking its place next to my bag.

She tagged along with me for more than just my trip to Numamagari. Once I told her about how humans were happy to see her, and how they liked the way she made plants grow and bloom, she all but demanded that I take her back home with me. Yae, of course, had absolutely no problems with the situation. She even invited her to spend the night in the family bedroom, though Lily could hardly stay still for a minute even at night, and any attempt at snuggles quickly failed.

My parents liked seeing her, too. They both insisted they were nice to her only because it was the proper thing to do, since Lily’s presence benefited the whole village, but that niceness included more than a few head-pats and piggyback rides. She even became a local curiosity for a bit once people saw that she didn’t leave after a day or two. She hung around the Morozumi compound for a few weeks, but as June came around, we knew she had to leave. There were a few poorly-hidden sniffles among the family as she said her goodbyes for the year, promising to show up again next February as she always did. Only once we went back inside did we notice she had decided to take a pack of cookies from us for the trip back.

__________

[x] …a mouse-wielding Buddhist youkai.

All those emergency measures sat unused as I walked through the forest. The parts of the forest closer to the settlement were divided up into sections owned by individual families, but this far out was the commons, owned by the village as a whole. There was an eye-crossing list of unspoken rules about what could be taken by whom, and when, and how much, and secondhand stories of brawls starting from something like a fox being hunted during mating season made their way to me every year.

There was no arguing it was worth the trouble, though. The forest was like a single massive creature, humming softly with the crunch of deer hooves on leaves, the chirp of insects, and the swaying of tree branches. I was so busy looking off into the distance that I nearly tripped over my own feet as a mouse ran past me. In the time it took me to steady myself, three more mice ran past, squeaking and scampering.

I watched them as they gathered in a circle near a tree. Another small mouse, its brown fur almost invisible next to the tree, was curled up near the trunk. It shivered, and even on its tiny body I could see that one of its legs was bent in a way it shouldn’t be. The mice squeaked among themselves, and then two of them came rushing towards me. I could swear they were looking up at me as they stood near my feet.

“Sorry, little guy. Um, get well soon,” I said.

I glanced down the road, but one of the mice nipped at my ankle, forcing my attention back on them. They rose up on their hind legs and started to wave their little front paws.

“You… Do you want me to help?” I said.

They nodded. Mice that understood human language was far from the oddest thing I had seen, but I wished there was an easier way to tell them apart from normal mice at a glance. I walked over to the poor injured mouse, getting on my knees.

“Do I pick it up? Do you want me to carry it?”

The process was difficult, with me asking questions and the mice either nodding yes or shaking their head no, growing frustrated at my lack of proper mouse-handling technique. After a few minutes, I was walking forward again with the injured mouse cradled in my hands and the other mice deciding to stow away in my pockets. It made for slower walking, but I wasn’t about to risk having a pack of mice chomp at me. The mouse in my hands let out a delicate little chutter, which at least made me feel better about my hesitant good deed.

I was rescued from the awkward situation as I saw a short, gray-haired woman hurrying towards me. She was a mouse-woman, rather, and her round ears bounced and flopped on her head as she ran towards me. I recognized her as Nazrin, which was a relief, since the encounter with the mice made more sense now, but also unfortunate since it meant being around Nazrin.

“Hold still. I don’t trust those grubby mitts of yours,” she said as she pulled to a stop in front of me.

“I did the best I could,” I said, feeling a little like I’d been taken advantage of as she reached into my hands.

“That would be the problem. Up you go, little guy. You’re safe now.”

Nazrin scooped up the injured mouse from my hands, then pulled her tail closer. An empty basket dangled from the tip of her tail, and the other mice scampered out of my pockets to crawl into it. The process of four mice climbing over me made me shudder from my shoulders to my toes, and I let out an unsettled grunt. The mice gathered in Nazrin’s basket and positioned themselves around their injured comrade as he was lowered into it. With that taken care of, Nazrin put her hands on her hips and scowled up at me. She picked up her dowsing rods, which turned forward and pointed at the dagger around my belt.

“Bah,” she said.

“I didn’t even do anything.”

“Bah,” she said again. “I was looking for a sword in a lake, not a kitchen knife in a swamp. Sometimes this thing’s definition of ‘treasure’ is seriously underwhelming.”

“Maybe the real treasure is the friend you made along—”

Nazrin pointed a dowsing rod inches away from my face. “Don’t make me bite your kneecaps off, because I’ll do it.”

__________


>[X] What if _____? -[X] Goro had cheated on Yae with Ayu.
ever heard of Space Jin?

“What if we bullied Kogasa” and “where did Orin and Ayu wind up” both got more than a couple of votes, along with some various “where are they now”s, so I’m taking them off the list and I’ll be doing them tomorrow. Feel free to vote among the remainders and I’ll provide an Alternate-Dimension Gaiden glimpse at a few more of them for Update 29. Thank you all for indulging me with this odd little third-act experiment.

[xxx] What if Goro hadn't touched fluffy tail?
[xx] What if Goro had gotten eager about kappa-tech harvesters?
[xx] What if Goro had chatted up the fellow human at the TA office?
[xx] Where did Asagao end up?
[xx] Where did Kosuzu end up?
[xx] Where did the three stooges from Magarimachi all end up?
[xx] Where did Koyomi end up?
[xx] What if Goro and Yae had gone to the Village instead of Amaden?
[xx] What if Goro didn't forgive and forget the whole affair?
[xx] What if Goro misdirected instead of making Atsushi own up for scamming Orin?
[xx] What if the plan had been to let the Village negotiate with the TA?
[xx] What if Goro hadn't taken on his father's attitude?
[xx] What if Goro hadn't decided to fess up about touching fluffy tails?
[xx] What if Goro had gone anywhere but Amaden at the start?
>>No. 200069
[x] What if Goro hadn't touched fluffy tail?
[x] What if Goro had gotten eager about kappa-tech harvesters?
[x] What if Goro had chatted up the fellow human at the TA office?
[x] Where did Asagao end up?
[x] Where did Kosuzu end up?
[x] Where did the three stooges from Magarimachi all end up?
[x] Where did Koyomi end up?
[x] What if Goro and Yae had gone to the Village instead of Amaden?
[x] What if Goro didn't forgive and forget the whole affair?
[x] What if Goro misdirected instead of making Atsushi own up for scamming Orin?
[x] What if the plan had been to let the Village negotiate with the TA?
[x] What if Goro hadn't taken on his father's attitude?
[x] What if Goro hadn't decided to fess up about touching fluffy tails?
[x] What if Goro had gone anywhere but Amaden at the start?

I know you thought I was joking, but here I am, voting on everything.
>>No. 200070
[xxx] What if Goro hadn't touched fluffy tail?
[xx] What if Goro had gotten eager about kappa-tech harvesters?
[xx] What if Goro had chatted up the fellow human at the TA office?
[xx] Where did Kosuzu end up?
[xx] What if Goro and Yae had gone to the Village instead of Amaden?
[xx] What if Goro didn't forgive and forget the whole affair?
[xx] What if Goro misdirected instead of making Atsushi own up for scamming Orin?
[xx] What if the plan had been to let the Village negotiate with the TA?
[xx] What if Goro hadn't taken on his father's attitude?
[xx] What if Goro hadn't decided to fess up about touching fluffy tails?
[xx] What if Goro had gone anywhere but Amaden at the start?


Most seem really interesting.
>>No. 200072
[x] Where did Kosuzu end up?
[x] Where did the three stooges from Magarimachi all end up?
[x] Where did Koyomi end up?
[x] What if Goro didn't forgive and forget the whole affair?
[x] What if Goro misdirected instead of making Atsushi own up for scamming Orin?
[x] What if Goro hadn't taken on his father's attitude?
[x] What if Goro hadn't decided to fess up about touching fluffy tails?
I don't even want to imagine a world without fluffy tail.
>>No. 200074
>everything I voted for got written
excellent
excellent
>>No. 200075
> ever heard of Space Jin?
The, umm, CBT guy?
>>No. 200078
[x] >>200039
[x] >>200043

etc. etc.

Tell us everything.
>>No. 200083
File154345867520.jpg- (307.49KB, 768x900, Kogasad.jpg) [iqdb]
200083
[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)

“I’m gonna tag along with you, so there. Nyeh.” Kogasa stuck her tongue out at me, then lowered her umbrella so I could see its tongue doing the same.

“I’m also gonna make you tell me stuff. What’s that?” She pointed to a rope strung around the trunk of a young tree.

“That’s a straightener. Makes the tree grow up straight, so you can get long, straight plants for boats and houses.

“Ooh, neat.”

She asked me a few more questions as we got closer to Numamagari. I had to admit it was hard to stay mad at her, but I still wanted at least a little comeuppance after she scared me half to death. A little while later, I heard the sounds of whacking and cutting and creaking wood. An entire household’s worth of people were working to uproot a nasty-looking stump. They stopped to take a look at us. Kogasa froze, suddenly looking nervous.

Seeing my chance, I put a hand firmly on her shoulder. “I captured a youkai from the forest,” I announced.

“Wha— Captured?” Kogasa reeled.

“Yep. We caught you trespassing in the forest, so I’m taking you to Youkai Jail.”

A few snorts of laughter came up from my small audience. Kogasa, not in on the joke, turned to me with her eyes wide and her mouth open.

“You… you traitor!”

“Careful, or I’ll double your sentence for badmouthing me,” I said.

Kogasa threw herself at me, her round eyes starting to fill with tears. “Nooooooo! Have mercy!”

Before I could bask in the dangerously exhilarating thrill of bullying Kogasa, a middle-aged woman kneeling by the tree stump spoke up.

“Relax, he’s joking,” she said, giving me a glare.

Kogasa blinked. She wiped the budding tears from her eyes and saw how I was trying not to laugh.

“You scared me, you jerk! I thought I was gonna do hard time!” She pulled herself away from me and began to swat me on the head with her umbrella.

“Ow! I thought you liked scares,” I said, still trying not to laugh even as I was pelted with blows from her umbrella.

“Only when I’m doing them, you poop!” she said, giving me one more swat of her umbrella before pulling back and pouting.

She eventually forgave me after a few private apologies, once we were out of earshot of everyone else in the forest. After that, our journey went similarly to how it otherwise would have, with Kogasa being too energetic to stay on one thought for too long. Once we got home, though, Kogasa told Yae all about my little prank. Yae made me give her a second round of apologies and promise not to bully ‘our precious honey-bun’ ever again.

__________

[x] Where did Ayu end up?

Working at Furu-Furu had always been a part-time gig for Ayu. It wasn’t uncommon for any young tengu with a cute face and a nice tail to work at one of the many tail cafes to make a little extra money and a few connections while they were busy being on the bottom rung at their other job.

For her, that other job was at Shirata Lumber and Silviculture Services, running errands and filing papers. It was a few months later, on a warm Monday morning, that Ayu heard a few of the salesmen grousing over some names that sounded vaguely familiar.

“Blasted humans, am I right? I mean, why’d they even open up trade if they’re gonna take so much off the table?”

“He said it’s out of his hands. Can’t tell his neighbor what to do,” the other salesman said with a resigned sigh.

“Yeah, and he — the other guy, Hirohide, right? — keeps acting like we’re calling him away from the front lines every time we try to talk.”

The second one laughed. “We could be, for all we know. I mean, it’s humans.”

“Heh, yeah. I just wish the Morozumis took this whole thing a little more seriously.”

Ayu’s ears twitched with recognition. She looked up from the decades-old records she was burrowing through.

“Pardon me, did you say ‘Morozumi’?”

__________

[x] Where did Orin end up?

Orin started to sweat, even in the cold air of the Underground. She wondered how she was going to explain to Satori that she was a day late and carrying a bucket of treats for herself. Then she remembered that Satori could read her mind and started sweating harder.

When she finally found the courage to show herself at home, Satori was mostly unfazed. She had lived around cats for centuries and gotten used to how they behave, so at this point she expected at least a few bizarre surprises and stories whenever Orin came home.

As months passed, it was almost winter before Orin remembered someone owed her money for something she vaguely remembered and set off looking for Magarimachi again. She knocked on a few doors, giving their occupants a serious fright before telling them she was trying to find Atsushi, and no, she wasn’t going to take his dead body, and yes, she was knocking on doors at random to find him.

Eventually, someone was kind enough and calm enough to direct her to his house, where she knocked on its door once again. A nervous Atsushi opened the door, along with another man who was hurriedly trying to hide some papers away after seeing who was there.

“Orin! Goodness, what a surprise. Ahem. We… we had sort of thought you’d send a little advance notice,” Atsushi said through a forced smile.

“Alright, what’re you two doing?” she asked, using the same tone that Satori often used on her.

“Just, um, writing! That’s not important, though. I’ll get your payment ready. Just a second!”

The journey out had given Orin the time to remember more details about Atsushi, and she had expected him to start groveling for mercy. Instead, he hardly seemed to care about the money as he nearly shoved it into her hands. It was all more than a little suspicious, especially now that she recognized the other fellow inside as Hayato, one of the other people who had scammed her.

“Well, now that that’s all settled,” Atsushi said, glancing towards the doorway as if he was trying to will her to leave.

“What’cha writing? Satori likes to read, so— “

Hayato let out a stifled shriek and reflexively dove towards the wall. Realizing there was neither any cover or any escape in that direction, he pulled himself up from the floor, his whole face red.

“She, er… she wouldn’t be interested in it,” Atsushi said, now visibly gesturing towards the door.

“Let me look at that. You two are up to something, aren’t you?”

“I can explain!”

”Silly human. I don’t want your money,” the kasha purred.

I wriggled in her grasp as she crawled over my body. I was excited despite my fear. No, not despite it. The palpable fear made my heart thump. Despite the threat of death, I felt more alive than I ever had before. The kasha took my hand in hers, guiding it towards her.

“Now… send me to heaven, or I’ll send you to hell.”


“What,” Orin said.

“It’s a… well, you see… Hayato said he thought you were cute, and—”

“Don’t sell me out,” Hayato cried.

“We’re both just in it for the money! There’s a big demand for erotic literature lately.”

Orin threw the piece of paper aside. Hayato snatched it up, carefully putting it back in order with the other papers.

“It’s slightly more legitimate money than what I was making before!”

Orin rolled her eyes and let out a laugh.

“Pfft, what kinda weirdo would want to read about having sex with a youkai?” she asked, then laughed again as she strolled out the door.

__________

If my counting is correct, then these five options all got the most votes:

[x] Where did Kosuzu end up?
[x] What if Goro didn't forgive and forget the whole affair?
[x] What if Goro misdirected instead of making Atsushi own up for scamming Orin?
[x] What if Goro hadn't taken on his father's attitude?
[x] What if Goro hadn't decided to fess up about touching fluffy tails?

I don’t exactly think I’ll be able to do all five of them, but expect to see some of them get answered tomorrow.
>>No. 200084
[x] adopt kogasa
>>No. 200085
[x] adopt kogasa
-[x] adopt harder
>>No. 200092
[x] give Ayu the wood
>>No. 200097
[x] adopt kogasa
[x] >>200039
[x] >>200043
[x] More of Ayu

You can’t just stop there! There’s gotta be more about Ayu, right?
>>No. 200099
File154354262768.png- (298.44KB, 900x686, delicious history.png) [iqdb]
200099
[x] Where did Kosuzu end up?

“Who, me? Pfft, I’m doing fine. Are you kidding?” The bells in Kosuzu’s hair jingled as she shook her head at the very idea.

Nazuna hadn’t asked anything. She had just come in hoping to return her book without much fuss, but she seemed to have walked in on a conversation that apparently involved her without her knowledge or consent. Kosuzu glanced back and forth, making the bells jingle again to make sure nobody was listening.

“I mean, between you and me, it’s not as if the potato-humpers out east are even literate to begin with, so it’s not as if it’s a big loss,” Kyouko said with a dramatic shrug.

“I see,” Nazuna said, very clearly using the tone of someone who had already stopped listening.

“Besides, it’d take more than a little bit of controversy to sink me! If that was all it took, I’d be out of business by now.”

Nazuna had never doubted the notion. Kosuzu, somehow, seemed to have friends in every high place in Gensokyo. Whatever nonsensical intrigue she stuck her nose in, it would be promptly taken care of and covered up. She could’ve summoned a hundred demons that Reimu had to hunt down for all anyone knew.

Leaving Kosuzu to jabber away about how okay she was, Nazuna lay her book on the counter, stepped away slowly, and left Suzuna’an for what was probably the last time. There were other book-lenders.

[x] What if Goro didn't forgive and forget the whole affair?

We were still in our huddle, trying to figure out how best to take advantage of our only partly accidental victory. I gestured at Patrolwoman Iwabori Koyomi, locked in her very one-sided struggle with Kosuzu.

“I just have to ask and make sure: Is she arresting Kosuzu or anything like that, or…” I asked.

“Who, Koyomi? She’s barely got the authority to say hello to her. Most she could do is politely ask her to follow her willingly back to the station and fill out a self-arrest form,” Kokemae said with a guffaw.

Koyomi’s ears drooped as she let out a sigh.

“Anyway, we shouldn’t let this opportunity go to waste. This could be big,” I continued.

“Hold on. You aren’t considering anything rash, are you? I mean, listen, the Hieda clan meddling with local village politics isn’t exactly a shocking scandal.”

“It is as soon as Amaden’s involved,” I said.

Kokemae blinked. “That’s… one way to look at it. I didn’t mean any of that ‘fabricating claims’ stuff I was shouting about and, um, listen, my ass is on the line here.”

“Let’s just give them a little bit of a scare, right? Let them know we aren’t going to take this lying down.”

“Careful. Listen,” Haruma said. “There’s a traditional, time-honored way to inform Gensokyo of complaints against the Hieda clan.”

__________

A package arrived in Magarimachi the next day.

To the Morozumi estate,

You have made your voice heard with regards to your dissatisfaction over the Hieda clan’s mediation in recent discussions. After careful consideration of the circumstances, while we are not admitting any guilt or culpability related to said mediation, we wish to show our desire for future cooperation with the enclosed ‘gift’ for you to ‘invest’ in your ‘definitely not terrible project.’

See you in hell,

Hieda no Akyuu.


__________

(Today has been a very bizarre day, so I’m just going to summarize the rest. Since I had only a very rough outline of what I was planning at any given time, don’t see these as “what the story would’ve been” as much as interesting side-notes)

[x] What if Goro misdirected instead of making Atsushi own up for scamming Orin?

Orin, not being particularly up-to-date with modern market prices, assumes everything went just fine and returns home. Satori can’t help but notice the disappearing money and appearing fish parts, and after hearing what happened, she informs Orin that she should probably just stick to buying things from actual stores from now on.

Atsushi and the other stooges, later remembering the whole ‘kasha’ thing, attempt to return some of the money to Orin. Not knowing where she lives, they donate to the nearest shrine and say a few prayers and well-wishes in Orin’s name. Somehow, it all works out.

[x] What if Goro hadn't taken on his father's attitude?

Goro still cares about the project he got himself into, of course, but he takes a more “what will happen will happen” attitude. When he goes to talk over things with his father, he expects that pappy will still want to take over every detail. When pappy starts to grill him on some parts of the trade agreement, he says that he doesn’t want to upstage or gainsay his dear father.

Goro’s father doesn’t take the notion too kindly, and firmly informs him that there’s a difference between “don’t fix what ain’t broke” and being lazy. At the same time, Gorodad starts to realize how much he’s taken over his son’s duties, and that it might be time for him to step back a little and let his son learn more through experience, not just from being told what to do.

[x] What if Goro hadn't decided to fess up about touching fluffy tails?

At one point I had intended to have another subplot, “the Morozumi Curse.” In exchange for the family’s good fortune in gaining bona-fide titles and land, they were cursed to encounter all forms of irresistible tail, never making proper human heirs as they were too busy with freaky interspecies sex. Goro’s mother saved the dynasty through means that Goro really doesn’t want to think about (the sexual appetite and stamina of a moose in heat).

It was a bit too silly, even for this story, and with the way things turned out, there was never a good place to put it; it was a subplot largely unrelated to the main hook that didn’t really advance anything. Anyway, to answer the question: the secret is eventually revealed thanks to Ayu’s dropped business card, and while Goro insists that it was just some innocent tail-petting, Yae decides that for the good of the family line, Goro needs to spend a day or two in the bedroom with her for ‘remedial action.’
>>No. 200100
Akyuu is such a bitch
>>No. 200105
File154362999989.jpg- (3.85MB, 2048x1536, Map(3).jpg) [iqdb]
200105
A year and a half had passed since I first met Ama’ake and received his cryptic warnings and reserved congratulations. Even back then, when I was still riding high on success, so much was still up in the air, but the groundwork I laid at the start helped carry me along for the rest of the challenges.

There were some growing pains at first, to be sure. The first people the TA sent over were apparently not used to the way things worked in a small village, and had to shave a zero off of even their conservative offers for buying. Even so, the reality of the situation finally began to sink in after that. Numamagari had thought they’d stay hands-off, but when they saw the sale price for planks of spruce wood, they soon decided that a single footpath wouldn’t be enough, and built a dock to load up boats with wood to ship downstream to us.

As the first few sales and shipments went smoothly, I learned that I had gained a reputation as an honest dealer willing to compromise, which was apparently in very short supply in Amaden. Some had taken it to mean I was a pushover, but that impression usually didn’t last very long after meeting me — or the rest of my family. Every so often, a human from the TA would ask for a better deal with an appeal to “sticking together, you know?” I would tell them that, thanks to a footnote in the trade deal, they would have to bring that up with the Hieda clan, and that would usually be the last I heard of the subject.

It was a crisp autumn Friday, and that meant market day. The sudden appearance of tengu and kappa was still something of a novelty, and there were a few rubberneckers along with the people who were there on business. Even when I didn’t have other business there, I liked to keep an eye on the main street on market days, just as a reminder for everyone to keep things on the up-and-up.

The market had been open long enough that I started to notice familiar faces. Patrolwoman Iwabori Koyomi was there on what I assumed was patrol duty, but judging by the way she hovered around the food stands with a large bag of fried squash seeds, she might have just been visiting. A few passers-by tried to chat her up, only to receive an unwelcome glare for distracting her from her snack.

Kogasa would usually be creeping around somewhere on market days as well. Despite Yae’s best efforts, she was too energetic to stay in one place for long, but market days were a good opportunity for her to look around and ask the local smith if any of her works turned out to have special magic properties. The answer was always “not yet,” as far as any of us knew. Even Orin showed up sometimes, though that was usually in cat form, looking to swipe some unattended food. I had hoped that our previous friendliness with youkai would’ve worked more in my favor with Amaden, but as I had soon learned, the average tengu didn’t care very much about anything a human thought.

Except, perhaps, for one. A prim-looking crow tengu with stiff black hair and a large, prominent forehead was heading for me, pen and notebook in hand.

“Hello! Fumii Teru here, with the TA Quarterly. We’re doing an article on the trade in Magarimachi, and I was hoping to have a word with the human behind it all,” she said with a smile that was equal parts imposing and desperate.

It took me a moment, but I recognized the name. She was the crow tengu who had taken a lump from Reimu for causing too much noise flying over the shrine. Hopefully, this work was a little safer for the poor gal, I thought as I looked at her frayed smile again.

“Of course he will! Come with us and we’ll take you home. That is, you can hold an interview at our home. And join us for dinner, if you’d like.”

“Great!” Teru beamed.

I put a hand on Yae’s shoulder and whispered to her. “Yae, please.”

“You saw that smile, didn’t you? That’s the dejected smile of someone who never got the motherly love they needed,” Yae whispered back.

“I can hear you, ma’am,” Teru said, still smiling.

“Do you accept my offer?” Yae said back.

“Let’s start with the interview. If you wouldn’t mind showing the way?”

We walked away from the crowd towards the hilltop that held the Morozumi estate. I’m important enough for an interview, I thought to myself with a growing pride. I couldn’t resist getting started on my story as we walked back.

“It started when I heard that the Trade Association was looking into the industries of some of the villages. It sounded like an interesting opportunity, so one day, I headed North.”
>>No. 200106
We did it! It has been did! I’m glad you all enjoyed the story, since writing something with relatively little involvement with actual canon Touhous is always a bit of a risk.

Speaking of which, to very belatedly answer >>199419 , yep. I was the author of Kinu Yasumi’s almanac under a different name. Long story short, I wasn’t as good at plotting back then, and I loaded it up with more and more subplots and things going on without resolving that it collapsed under its own weight, as did I. Seeing as that was also a Nano-Reimu story, I had intended for this to be something of a spiritual successor, hence the cameos.

If you want to see more of Amaden, a certain mask with more floof than usual is working on a story set there in /youkai/
>>No. 200107
>It took me a moment, but I recognized the name. She was the crow tengu who had taken a lump from Reimu for causing too much noise flying over the shrine. Hopefully, this work was a little safer for the poor gal, I thought as I looked at her frayed smile again.

In a way, it was all thanks to her, uh? I hope she's happy now.

What a good way to end a good story. FeelsGoodMan
>>No. 200108
>>200106
WHERE IS THE KEINE BATH MASKMAN

YOU SAID THERE WOULD BE KEINE BATH

good job on this one tho
>>No. 200125
>tfw kogasa wouldn't stand still long enough to get adopted
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