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File 157273829357.png - (1.21MB, 1200x800, lay down your arms.png) [iqdb]
200549No. 200549
“What did you think would happen?”

Gripping the sheath of my master’s sword, I turn to look at her. Her eyes are, of course, on the sky. She’s right. She was right, but...

“I won’t say I don’t admire you,” she says, lifting her tea cup from its top, drinking it with her eyes closed. “But I’ve told you. I’ve told you and told you: that age is over. What did you think would happen?”

“... I want to have a dream,” is how I answer. “Can’t I have a dream?”

“Hm,” is her reply.. until she calmly says, “no.”

She gazes on the sky again, and I follow her stare.

“You’re no Hakurei, you’re no Konpaku.”

Kon... what?

“You’re a Nakahara. Live with that.”

Nakahara... huh.

The sky is covered in pale cherry blossoms, so thorough it’s as if snow was never there. They scatter eagerly, covering Gensokyo with the warmth we’d been missing, missing. The long winter is over, spring returned by the Shrine Maiden. The human who set off before me. She’s human, so what makes us different?

Why couldn’t I have gone?

Under the moon, every petal glows with ghostly light. Even though we’d had so much trouble, even though this had driven so many of us near to death... seeing it, seeing the end... it’s so beautiful, I almost think everything was worth it.

I turn back to walk by my master, back into the dojo.

I’ll practice my swings, and then go home to bed.


What’s your name?

[] Taro.

[] Ken.

[] Ryousuke.


++++++++

Nannerwrammer, two days late, meaning a very short timer

Time remaining: ::Timer ended at: 2019/11/03(Sun)05:00

Expand all images
>>No. 200550
[x] Ken.
feeling like senpukyaku-ing some anime bitches
>>No. 200551
[x] Taro.
>>No. 200552
[x] Taro.
Poh-tay-toe.

I don't usually follow your stuff, but okay sure I'll give this a try.
>>No. 200553
[x] Ryousuke
>>No. 200554
[x] Ken.
>>No. 200557
[x] Ryousuke.
>>No. 200563
Aren't you brats lovely? First vote is a three-way tie.

Rolling 1d3 => 1
>>No. 200564
File 15727616646.png - (2.04MB, 1000x852, brand new morning.png) [iqdb]
200564
[X] Taro.

/////

When morning comes, I can hardly believe the feeling.

Birdsong and warmth; a pink hue is bleeding into my room through my window. I was starting to forget what spring was like.

After getting ready for the day, I speak with my parents at breakfast about the news of the Hakurei’s victory and the season’s return. News spread fast, of course. We’d been experiencing winter for months, and the return had been fast once the Hakurei had gone out.

“The Shrine Maiden is amazing, huh?” I say.

My mother looks at me from where she’s standing (at the sink), but doesn’t reply.

“She does her job,” says Father, chewing on the fish of his meal. He absently shifts the pile of bones on his plate and looks at me. “Speaking of, what are you planning to do today?” he asks.

“‘Planning’...? I have to go to school today and—”

“Just about everywhere is celebrating the return of spring. You can do whatever you want today, Taro-kun.” he says, still eating. I blink. Whatever I want? “Your mother and I will be walking around today. You can join us, but I know that’s the last thing on your mind. Look, you hurried and finished eating without even thinking of it.”

My chopsticks are already down behind my rice bowl. I utter, “Huh?”

“Go.”

I get up and run to the entrance, calling as I dash, “Thanks for the meal! I’m off!”

I grab my bokken from beside the door, and fly through.

The village is painted almost more beautifully than the sky from last night. People are loudly chatting about spring, about new harvests and flowers. Flowers are outside of several homes, providing bursts of blue and red to the cherry color still raining down and littering the streets. I stomp through petals, hurrying fast. I do get time to myself, but never is that during the week. I’ve got to go fast if I’m going to see her:


[] I don’t ever get to see Kamishirasawa-sensei when she has time off.

[] Akyuu has been so busy lately.

[] The rabbit in the bamboo forest should be even lazier than usual now that Gensokyo is wrapped up in celebration.

++++++++

Time remaining: ::Timer ended at: 2019/11/03(Sun)12:00


image source: https://www.pixiv.net/en/artworks/24243784
short timer again
>>No. 200565
[x] I don’t ever get to see Kamishirasawa-sensei when she has time off.

Never not Keine
>>No. 200566
[X] The rabbit in the bamboo forest should be even lazier than usual now that Gensokyo is wrapped up in celebration.
>>No. 200567
[x] Akyuu has been so busy lately.
Akyuu a cute
>>No. 200568
[x] The rabbit in the bamboo forest should be even lazier than usual now that Gensokyo is wrapped up in celebration.
>>No. 200569
[x] The rabbit in the bamboo forest should be even lazier than usual now that Gensokyo is wrapped up in celebration.

Reisen route never ever.
>>No. 200570
[] The rabbit in the bamboo forest should be even lazier than usual now that Gensokyo is wrapped up in celebration.
bun wooing
>>No. 200571
[x] I don’t ever get to see Kamishirasawa-sensei when she has time off.
learning
>>No. 200572
[x] The rabbit in the bamboo forest should be even lazier than usual now that Gensokyo is wrapped up in celebration.
>>No. 200580
File 157279292879.png - (2.60MB, 1600x1263, the lucky rabbit.png) [iqdb]
200580
[X] The rabbit in the bamboo forest should be even lazier than usual now that Gensokyo is wrapped up in celebration.


I turn a corner, sliding past a courier and rushing to cross the bridge to the town center while he hollers at me. With the strap of my sword’s bag held tight in my fist, the bag itself jostles and the end of it, stiff from the wood blade inside, smacks against my shin over and over as I go. I’m pretty proud of my legs, though. It doesn’t hurt at all.

“Morning, Taro-kun!”
Morning, Rana-san.
“Taro-niichan! The sun is shining!”
Yeah.
“Taro! Are you heading into the forest again!? Get me some bamboo shoots!”
Do I have to!?

I don’t want to!

“I won’t!” “Aw...”

After yelling that over my shoulder, I finally clear the market. The way to the bamboo forest is surprisingly clear. Maybe everyone’s going to the Lake instead, or the shrine.

I need to go there.

The bamboo forest is one of the few places we’re allowed to go, though everyone also says it’s dangerous. Leaping from the stone rise of a restaurant near the western wall (and the owner yells at me), I spot the emerald top of it just beyond. I land on the teeth of my right geta and dash ahead again.

“Ah, Taro...”

When I’m approaching the wall, the guard there looks at me and calls me out. I keep moving for the wall, though.

“Don’t—” he says, and I jump at it, securing my hands and feet on bricks that they find without me even thinking. “Taro!” yells the guard. He starts marching toward me, but I’ve already cleared half-way. “You damn monkey!” he screams. “Get down from there!”

“No!”

“At least learn how to fly!” he demands as I start pulling myself up onto the tiles of the wall’s rooftops.

“Maybe,” I reply, and I move to the other side to start my climb back down.

The bamboo forest is a place we’re allowed to go, but only if we’re harvesters or we go through some registration. Long registration. I get it, but...

I won’t get lost. She never lets me.

When I’m a few meters from the ground I drop, running toward the forest again. Once I’ve started getting closer, the sound of my home starts to fade, and once I’m close, I look briefly at the whole thing.

Taller than any building, greener than any grass, more numerous than a party of fairies and standing together closer than anyone from the village; once I’ve seen this, I run into the Bamboo Forest of the Lost with a smile on my face.

The Forest’s name is an obvious one, like all of the other’s in Gensokyo. The Human Village, Youkai Mountain, The Forest of Magic, Misty Lake...
If you don’t know where you’re going, you get lost, and a youkai attacks you,

... When I start, this will be the first place where I’ll work.

The forest isn’t easy to swing a sword in, but once you’re practiced enough, and wielding a blade sharp enough, bamboo falls when you cut it through—not like other trees. My hands have finally started to show progress, and I’m proud of that.

I slow down now that I’ve gotten far enough from the entrance. There aren’t any cherry blossoms here, so I suppose that’s why no one’s come around. Walking the thin paths of the forest and looking at the sunlight filtering through my present, verdant surroundings, I feel like this is what they’re missing out on. We missed so much of spring that summer will be soon. It’ll be more agonizing walking through here, then, not to mention how even youkai will want to do flower viewings what with spring back.

This weather,
this jade-colored view,
this silence,
this place...

I really like it here.

I turn off the beaten path, and head for where we usually meet. If you don’t know where you’re going in the Bamboo Forest of the Lost, you get lost, and eventually attacked. But, for a while know, I’ve known where to go in here,

A bit deep within the forest is a place where sunlight struggles to reach; only present as thin slivers somehow having made it through the canopy. It’s colder than elsewhere because of this, or rather—it tends to stay in contrast to the current season. Cool in the summer, and cozy in the winter. I’m glad she told me about this place.

It takes me a few minutes to find it. The floor was beaten down by our feet, and it looks like she hasn’t been here since yesterday. I walk over to the boulder I usually sit on and brush away a few fallen leaves from the top of it before leaning against it instead.

There, I close my eyes, and I sing (quietly).

Kagome, kagome. The bird locked in the cage there—
When, oh when will it come out? During the night, when dawn drew near
A crane and a turtle slipped and fell.
Now, who’s standing behind you?


I feel hands over my face, covering my closed eyes, and I hear:

“Inaba,”

“Spring is here,” I say.

Her hands move down to my shoulders, and I feel her push against me. Then, her voice is next to my ear, asking: “Are you a fairy now?”

I open my eyes, and turn my head, meeting her hazel stare. With gusto and a smile, I declare: “Greetings, Tewi!”

“Hello, Taro-san,” she says, pleased.

~~

“I set up everything for you, and for what?”

“I’m sorry...”

“‘Sorry’? I risked a lot more than a ‘sorry’ is worth.”

“... I’ll pet you?”

“I’ll let you pet me. My spring molting is already done.”

I slide down from the boulder and sit cross-legged opening my arms. Tewi stands up, walks to me in a few steps, turns, and sits in my lap. I try to ignore how much I like her hair’s scent; we’re about the same height and it’s right in front of my face. I get serious instead, putting my right hand on her head and securing my left arm around her stomach.

And, I pet her. She’s soft as ever. A little softer, actually.

You shouldn’t fraternize with youkai, it’s dangerous... is what they say. But, youkai rabbits? That’s a bit of an absurd notion. If Tewi was ever dangerous, my instincts would tell me that.

“Your hands are callused, huh...?” she mumbles.

“Oh—um... sorry,” I apologize.

“Don’t say sorry so much, own yourself and what you do, Taro-san,” Tewi instructs. I nod, my nose ticking the back of her hair.

All youkai rabbits are gentle and pretty. They’re rabbits who survived hunting or abandoning, and who groomed themselves into something special. Tewi is the prettiest of the rabbits I’ve seen, and she knows that. She’s small—a little smaller than me—and her eyes are arresting and red: this gorgeous, deep shade unlike any other rabbit’s I’ve seen. Her human-like hair is a lush and healthy dark brown. The hair of her lop-ears is spotless white, and the ears themselves are fun to pla—um, they feel nice to the touch. They’re warm, smooth, and very fluffy, and overall Tewi is one of the nicer animals I’ve pet. She always seems to enjoy it as much as I do.

“It’s too bad we can’t go back in time,” she says while I’m toying with her right ear. “I wanted to see your name in a Tengu’s paper.”

“It could’ve been in the death passa—uh, the obituaries,” I tell her.

“Yeah,” she replies, and I frown at that. “You need to do more than swing a sword around to survive in Gensokyo.” Tewi nestles into me further, her tush pushing into my waist. My expression grows severe, and I hold my left arm around her tighter. “You aren’t cute like me, and you’re too many thousand years too early to have my wiles and wisdom. You aren’t as fleet of foot as me, either.”

She slides down, until her head is in my lap (I see, her eyes are closed). This rescues me, thankfully. After I let her go, I put my hands on her face and start carefully massaging her squishy cheeks.

Her eyes open, I meet with them.

“What should we do?” she asks.

“To get me to not second guess when I’m right there and ready to go?”

“Yes.”

“I don’t know, Tewi.”

And, she smiles with warmth, her lips curling up fantastically. “Lucky for you, I’m the most brilliant rabbit who’s ever lived.”

“Lucky for me, you’re you,” I say, smirking and twisting my eyebrows.

“You’re getting cleverer now,” Tewi compliments, reaching a hand up to touch my cheek in turn. Then, she pinches me, tugging that out. “I’ll repay your favor, guaranteed, and luck won’t have anything to do with it.”

She lets go, and slaps my face playfully once. “But you’re such a kid, Taro-san, that you need this Inaba to guide you still.”

“Sorry.”

She slaps at me again, saying “Hey,” and my smile grows.


Long ago, in The Land of Illusions, women and men of the Human Village were largely trained especially to subdue, exorcise, and exterminate youkai.

Time remaining: ::Timer ended at: 2019/11/04(Mon)09:00

>>No. 200581
File 15727930013.jpg - (1.92MB, 2678x720, the land before and now.jpg) [iqdb]
200581
It was a land of artisans, skilled in protection and death.

Over time, over the course of muddy history, this heritage was lost. Instead the youkai needed protection, and death became overall discouraged. Even the last surviving line of shamans and exterminators, the Hakurei, has lost much of its knowledge to this day. The current Shrine Maiden knows no better how to deal with an oni than a village man, for instance.

You can be a fisherman, a chef, an architect, a scribe, a historian, a guard; you can, really, be near anything you can imagine.

But in the present time of Gensokyo, you cannot be a warrior.


... Still, times of peace do not mean absolute tranquility.

That is why the Shrine Maiden exists.

But the Shrine Maiden’s duties, and the duties of a “protector”, are not one and the same.

The boy raises a dull blade because of that, and marches into a world of fantasy against all heed.



“Alright, Taro-san—”


[] “let’s get you some magic.”

[] “let’s get you in the sky.”

[] “let’s get you some knowledge.”


I hear that, and my smile vanishes.

There’s no doubt in my mind: we’re going to be stealing.
>>No. 200583
[x] “let’s get you some magic.”

tfw you well never play with Tewi's ears
>>No. 200584
[x] “let’s get you some knowledge.”
Read motherfucking BOOKS
every GODDAMN day
>>No. 200585
[x] “let’s get you in the sky.”

Fly away now, fly away now, fly away!
>>No. 200586
[x] “let’s get you in the sky.”
>>No. 200588
[x] “let’s get you some knowledge.”
>>No. 200589
[x] “let’s get you some knowledge.”
>>No. 200591
[x] “let’s get you some knowledge.”
i wanna fly high
>>No. 200592
File 157282897043.png - (346.92KB, 850x1000, __tatara_kogasa_and_kijin_seija_touhou_drawn_by_un.png) [iqdb]
200592
>meeting her hazel stare
>her eyes are arresting and red: this gorgeous, deep shade unlike any other rabbit’s I’ve seen
ruby

ruby ruby rRUBBIICCCUNND
>>No. 200595
[x] “let’s get you in the sky.”
>>No. 200600
[X] “let’s get you some knowledge.”
>>No. 200613
File 157291069195.jpg - (201.84KB, 848x419, another story.jpg) [iqdb]
200613
Short timer. Image is NSFW, but not very. Source is:
https://danbooru.donmai.us/posts/853017

++++++++

/////

This is a story from not so long ago.

The boy, at an age where he was starting to form the shape of who he was, found a wounded, barefoot rabbit, dressed in a pale and sakura nightgown. Her chest, and left arm, had been burned.

He acted at once, but what is it you think he did exactly?



[] He did his best to dress the wound.

[] He licked the wound to sooth it.

[] He carried the rabbit on his back from the forest, past the village, and up the eastern hill, to find aid from the Shrine.


Time remaining: ::Timer ended at: 2019/11/05(Tue)11:30

>>No. 200614
[x] He carried the rabbit on his back from the forest, past the village, and up the eastern hill, to find aid from the Shrine.
>>No. 200615
[x] He did his best to dress the wound.
>>No. 200616
[x] He carried the rabbit on his back from the forest, past the village, and up the eastern hill, to find aid from the Shrine.
always do things the hard way
>>No. 200617
[x] He carried the rabbit on his back from the forest, past the village, and up the eastern hill, to find aid from the Shrine.

Let's get more character interactions.
>>No. 200618
[x] He carried the rabbit on his back from the forest, past the village, and up the eastern hill, to find aid from the Shrine.
>>No. 200622
[x] He carried the rabbit on his back from the forest, past the village, and up the eastern hill, to find aid from the Shrine.
>>No. 200624
[x] He carried the rabbit on his back from the forest, past the village, and up the eastern hill, to find aid from the Shrine.

This is the aftermath of that thing with the sharks, ain't it?

Better be sure the Nanowrimo sharks don't go after you too.
>>No. 200625
[x] He carried the rabbit on his back from the forest, past the village, and up the eastern hill, to find aid from the Shrine.
>>No. 200632
File 157296313896.png - (328.76KB, 689x785, tei.png) [iqdb]
200632
>>200624
>This is the aftermath of that thing with the sharks, ain't it?
Nice to recall, but it is not. That she was burned is your hint for that.

Anyways, loose timer (feel free to vote even if it runs out) TWO CHOICES
but one is less important

++++++++

[X] He carried the rabbit on his back from the forest, past the village, and up the eastern hill, to find aid from the Shrine.


Yes. Then, that’s good: you have been paying attention. Even then, that was the sort of boy he was.

Of course, it would have been better to bring the rabbit to that Lunar doctor... but at the time, she would surely and mercilessly have taken his life, no? Not that one could have found it regardless. All the Shrine Maiden did was grow irritated, but only to the point of letting it show on her face. Inaba Tewi, after all, is no sweet and innocent rabbit. Not that the Shrine Maiden needed anything more than the fact that Inaba Tewi is a youkai rabbit, but the fact stands: she is a sinful person, full of wicked thoughts.

Nakahara Taro did not save her life, but his gesture left on her a surprising impression.

Not much of a story? Piecemeal is better, if we are only speaking of metaphorical feasts.



Every once in a while I wonder: was Miss Reimu right about Tewi? But, well, I don’t—it’s not as if I ask that in the usual way it is asked: where the answer suggested within the question is “they were right, and I’m only starting to realize it”.

For me, I’ve always asked that question with a carried answer of “no, of course not”.

Tewi takes a leaf from my hair and my head from the clouds. We’re standing in the clearing, after she decided that we should go the strange house by the lake: the Scarlet Devil Mansion.

“Show me your arms.”

I roll my sleeves as instructed, Tewi squeezes my right arm with both of her hands, pulling back her left thoughtfully to her lips after looking a while, only to look some more with her eyes narrowed.

“Flex!” she orders, and I do so. Her lips curl in the sly way they do when she feels like she’s won something. I allow myself a little bit of a smile, too, because of that. “Can I see your stomach?” she asks.

“Mm,” I answer, and I open the front of my robes, letting her examine my abdomen. Her small fingers move across my musculature purely practically, and I’d like not to blush, but that’s impossible. Eventually, she stops her ticklish movements and, with her hands still on my stomach, she announces her evaluation.

“This should be fine, right?” she asks, glowing with the delivery of her appraisal.

“W-Well, I’m tougher but...” I’m tougher, but, serious youkai are just...

Tewi grins. “It’s fine!” she insists, pulling my robes back closed and un-bundling my sleeves. She grabs my face, shaking my head a bit. “We don’t need to do anything like fighting today. Trust me, Taro-san: I’m not a fighter at all!”

“I trust you, Tewi,” I say, speaking with vibrancy and putting on a fresh face to match.

“Aww!” Tewi moans, closing her eyes and smiling cheek to cheek. She brings her hands to my head and pushes down on my skull, rubbing at my aggressively. “You! You, you’re so—agh! Cute!”

Suddenly, she lets me go and moves to my left side, throwing her arm over my shoulders and pulling my close. Having shut my eyes from her rubbing at me, I open them to see her looking straight at me, smirking again, her forehead just touching mine by a side. I catch sight of her other hand on her hip, and feel excited.

“Let’s get this job done, alright?”

Excitement, despite the guilt. Oh, we’re definitely going to steal something: I know it. But I always end up feeling like this once she’s got her mind set, and has posed to show it. I nod, she joyfully rubs her cheek to mine, and she starts guiding me out of the forest.

/////

Tewi was the one who got me lessons with my sword master.

She was the one who taught me how to climb walls.

She trained my running form, and she often teaches me ways around the bamboo forest.

She was the one who made it possible for me to take my master’s sword, so that I could march into the cold and cut down the culprit who had driven Gensokyo into endless winter.

I feel like I disappoint her too often.
Every time we’re together, I can see in her eyes what she sees in me.
I think, if she had been next to me when I had Master Rena’s sword in my hand, I would’ve gone wherever the snowdrifts took me, be that to frozen hells or other worlds, without any hesitation.

But I wish she wouldn’t get me to carry her on my shoulders so much.

“Go, Taro-san! To the Lake! The Lake!”

“I know where.”

Her thighs are on both sides of my face, the back of my neck is warm, and I can see her wiggling toes below. She isn’t heavy, but that isn’t the problem. Even if she was heavy, that wouldn’t be it.

If anyone from the village ever sees me ferrying her like this, I don’t want to imagine how fast the word would spread. I wouldn’t even want to think about going to school if that happened.

And, I can’t neglect to mention that she’s, well... she’s soft. And... How to say... I’m not the kid who picked her up in the forest anymore, you know? I... I’m not sure she... really understands that? Honestly...! This isn’t even the way I carried her back then!

It’s... not... bushido! Akyuu... Kamishirasawa-sensei... Father—they’ve all been talking about it—it, and I’m not going to be able to stay composed if she keeps doing this stuff!

“What’s up?” Tewi asks, bending forward so her ears flop down and she can see my face.

“Nothing,” I say, trying to sound serious.

“Alright,” she says, lifting up... It’s not alright!

I run off the road, having gotten out of the bamboo forest, and I give the village a wide berth.

“Hey Taro-san, what’s your favorite thing about spring?” Huh?

“My... favorite?”

“Yeah, tell me,” she declares. “Tell you”, hm...?


[] “The flowers!”

[] “Sakura!”

[] “The weather!”


Will that do?

“Oh...? That’s—Oh, that’s the Lake! You’re real fast today!”

Hm.

I want you off my shoulders before I start thinking about this too much—or worse, I stop thinking about it at all end—

Ahh... her underthings are so smooth... and they smell nice...

“Right,” Tewi says, and she tugs my hair in that direction. I stumble this way, confused. “Watch where you’re going.”

Looking left, I see I was on a course for water.

Focus...

Right. Misty Lake.


Misty Lake is particularly beautiful in the spring.

A body of water sparkles the most in summer of course, but that is dazzling, not beautiful. Beauty, you see, is more than sight. It is scenery.


No, scenery is metaphorical here. The scene of a place, its present story, its atmosphere and surrounding occurrences: this “scenery”. The Lake, saved from the bitter clutches of winter, is greeted by the sun in spring, and a hundred flying leaves and blossoms carried over it by the wind. It’s honestly very lovely, and the boy thinks so as well of course.



The Lake is a more well-traveled place than the forest, but that tends to make it a bit worrying. I quite like coming to look at it, though.


See? Even this stuffy boy cannot help but pay it compliments. It is a thing of danger and beauty, at once.

So, it’s no wonder he became caught up with you.



It isn’t really the time to be admiring that, not far off now is the gatekeeper of the devil’s mansion, and I’m to take Tewi from my shoulders here before we proceed with this guard in mind.


[] The plan is to confront her.

[] The plan is to sneak to the side of her, and infiltrate.

[] The plan is to talk with her.


Time remaining: ::Timer ended at: 2019/11/06(Wed)03:00

>>No. 200638
[x] “Sakura!”
[x] The plan is to sneak to the side of her, and infiltrate.

I wonder who the narrator for the bold text is supposed to be?
>>No. 200643
[x] “Sakura!”
[x] The plan is to sneak to the side of her, and infiltrate.
>>No. 200648
[x] “The weather!”

[x] The plan is to sneak to the side of her, and infiltrate.
>>No. 200657
[x] “Sakura!”
[x] The plan is to sneak to the side of her, and infiltrate.

I assumed the bold text was Tewi's narration.
>>No. 200660
File 157304397610.jpg - (1.74MB, 3508x2552, knowledge is power.jpg) [iqdb]
200660
[X] The plan is to sneak to the side of her, and infiltrate.


I kneel and put Tewi down.

“By the way,” she suddenly speaks up while she’s dismounting, “‘sakura’? That was a boring answer.” She looks at me like she pities me.

It’s the obvious answer...

“‘Cause it’s obvious,” says Tewi. I scrunch up my face, annoyed. Well, it’s fine if it’s a boring answer: it’s the right one.


You agree?


Of course, I like them too.



That doesn’t matter. We run to avoid the gatekeeper’s sight, find the part of the red walls that has the best footing, and we hurry over the ramparts.

~~

It isn’t the first time we’ve burgled the library of Scarlet Devil Mansion.

Although it’s home to powerful youkai, it is actually mostly just a home to fairies. So long as you remain inconspicuous, you can get in and out of this place unscathed.

I can’t say that I enjoy thieving tomes, reference books, compendiums et al., but the benefits and my goals are worth a muddied conscience.

That is the best way to think.

Having said... or rather thought that, the Mansion is quite unnerving, and that’s something very difficult to reconcile. The fairies inside of it tend to not wander the halls, leaving them empty and dark. Sunlight never finds its way here because there are no windows outside. Often, you can hear a girl’s laughter, distant, but still echoing.

The library is hardly any better. Its silence is something intense, leaving you focused on every little sound that occurs. We’re never alone when we come here, either... a witch lives here, in this basement, and neither Tewi nor I can fight with a great magician.

... But, that is also the reason that we’re here at all, I guess.

I take a thin book from the shelf in front of me. It’s a catalogue or plants, nothing remarkable. Beside me, Tewi is carefully searching the witch’s collection and pulling down titles and subjects of interest, dropping them into a sack she’s brought. Looking at this book, though...

How do I say it? It’s a strange reminder, of everything; for this past Incident in particular.

Isn’t my life too controlled? All of our lives...

Not that I want to be free, or to overthrow the ways or...

I just want to feel... To feel like I have “a chance”.

It’s really hard for me to put this feeling into words.

But, it’s a feeling I know that Tewi shares.

Your lot in life is not what determines your life, everything you do is what determines it, or more importantly, everything that you can do.

Hm.

I rather like to think of it this way: if the circumstances ever feel completely out of your control, and there is no way this vice can be broken, then life is not worth living. End it.

Dying is “a thing you can do”, a détermination ultime. With chosen death, you can define your life more clearly than fate. In fact, you crush fate completely.

...

This part of the story is pretty boring.

They don’t encounter anyone. It is Inaba Tewi he’s with, after all. You remember her, right? She isn’t someone easy to even find yourself in a fight with, and she isn’t foolish about her life and wellbeing. It has been a very long time since she suffered sincerely, and even the wound that the boy helped treat—it was no real matter, not considering that at the time she had long become a servant and partner of the Lunar Sage.

This is when he starts becoming an expert on how youkai, gods, and ghosts tick, however. Even before he can be a match for them, he has the theories for their defeat. Admirable.

But it’s so boring...

Inaba Tewi, for all her inimitable craftiness, is cursed to be careful. Even when she presented him the opportunity to steal the sword... You can’t think she thought he would be in any danger, can you? She believes in him...

Come, tell me, what would you rather hear? I’d rather have something else to tell.



[] I’ve heard about it, but he hasn’t told me about his first youkai subjugation. Wasn’t it not work? He did it without having expected it.

[] He mentioned Miss Akyuu, who I must admit I am very curious about.

[] I wish to know more about his parents.

[] Has he ever kissed anyone?


Time remaining: ::Timer ended at: 2019/11/07(Thu)04:00

>>No. 200663
[x] Has he ever kissed anyone?

smooth
>>No. 200665
[x] I’ve heard about it, but he hasn’t told me about his first youkai subjugation. Wasn’t it not work? He did it without having expected it.

Backstory time!
>>No. 200673
[x] Has he ever kissed anyone?

Outta nowhere
>>No. 200676
[x] He mentioned Miss Akyuu, who I must admit I am very curious about.

>With chosen death, you can define your life more clearly than fate.
go away Sartre
>>No. 200684
[x] I’ve heard about it, but he hasn’t told me about his first youkai subjugation. Wasn’t it not work? He did it without having expected it.
>>No. 200691
[x] Has he ever kissed anyone?
>>No. 200692
File 157313351549.jpg - (420.77KB, 750x1049, miss not appeared yet in this story.jpg) [iqdb]
200692
Two choices again.

++++++++

[X] Has he ever kissed anyone?


...

Now, why would you ask something like that? Hm...? So you—


Hmm...


What? What’s the matter?
Well I could chastise you about that question, but I think that would be rather un-fun of me, and decidedly ignorant if we must be honest. It’s valid, and I can answer you—Hm?


Why, how else? You know exactly how. If you don’t think that you know how, think deeply on how, and you will come to find there is an obvious explanation.

Anyway, I can ans—Oh, what is it now, honestly? Goodness... Hey, how about I ask a question?

If I told you the answer was “yes”, would you be disappointed?



[] Yes, I would.

[] No, I wouldn’t.


Hmhm... I see.

Well I won’t tell the answer just yet in any case. I do think it’s interesting, a passionate story. Let’s talk about how he came to the precipice of a kiss, and I will tell you whether he did or did not... Why, it starts not even long after where we just were. He was assisting the Child of Miare with—


Now, don’t get ahead of yourself.


/////

Is Hieda no Akyuu a special person?

I find myself asking absurd questions like that often, since the Spring Snow Incident was resolved.

“Use your eyes on your task, Taro. I don’t need them aimed at me and dividing my attention,” Akyuu chastises me. I drop my gaze at once to the mentioned task, stammering out a reply.

“Y... Yes!” It’s very pathetic.

I am here, arranging the Hieda Mansion gardens, because... It’s really just this... way of things, I suppose. There are a few big houses in the Human Village, and these houses aid everyone else in a great many ways. We rely on them for architecting, medicines, organization, records... and in return, they rely on us for tasks and favors. When I say us, I mean children. It’s us kids, specifically, who tend to help out when we aren’t at school or learning our parents’ work. I was asked here today. Yesterday it was Takayama Yuika.

“Well now that I’m looking at you,” says Akyuu, taking my attention away. She points at a potted tree three steps behind me. “I’d rather have that closer to the porch. Do that.”

Akyuu is special in that I enjoy her company but find her, at times... yeah, best to put it as “difficult”.

The sickly, short and violet-haired Hieda no Akyuu, the fabled Child of Miare who can remember anything she ever sees, is in actuality the latest incarnation of a line of humans gifted with this memory, who can remember parts of old memory of ages long gone. Because of this, she’s a child—

“No, not that close.”

—but she acts like an old woman.

“Yes, ojou-sama,” I answer.

And she stops writing whatever record she is keeping up there on her porch to give me a flat and bothered look. “Don’t get snippy,” she says. Snippy... I sigh, and pick up her rake, prepared to walk into the Zen garden.

Honestly, I think of Akyuu as a friend, but it’s hard to keep that in mind when I’m “working” for her.

“Hey Taro,” she suddenly speaks up, though her nose is back to her scroll when I raise my head to look at her. “I think I could have a job for you, on the lake as a guard. Might you be interested?”

My raking stops.


[] “Of course I would!”

[] “... How dangerous would that be?”

[] “Would it pay?”


Time remaining: ::Timer ended at: 2019/11/08(Fri)04:00

>>No. 200693
[x] No, I wouldn’t.
Precocious child is precocious.


[x] “Of course I would!”
He strikes me as the kind of kid who'd jump at any opportunity to prove himself.
>>No. 200694
[x] Yes, I would.
[x] “Of course I would!”
>>No. 200696
[x] "No I wouldn't" (lie)

It's not like I like you or anything...!

[x] “Would it pay?”

Pride doesn't buy food.
>>No. 200697
[x] No, I wouldn’t.

[x] “Of course I would!”
>>No. 200698
[x] No, I wouldn’t.

[x] “Of course I would!”
>>No. 200742
File 157330002688.png - (1.44MB, 1357x657, job.png) [iqdb]
200742
Pardon my lateness. I don't count updating other stories to nanowrimo, so I'll have to write two tomorrow.

++++++++

[X] “Of course I would!”

“Even if you’d just be helping an elderly fisherman?” she asks.

Well, “Yes!”

“Then, you can get going an hour after noon. I’ll tell the requester to wait at the Northern gate for you.”

What a chance!


“What a chance!” he thinks. What do you think of that eagerness? Oh, don’t answer. I know that you understand it completely.

So the boy goes to the lake...


~~

“Don’t worry, sir, I can protect you absolutely!” I swear.

“Oh, I’m glad. Such strong youths nowadays,” says the fisherman, not moving from where he’s already sat down. I know: I know he doesn’t really think much of me since I’m a kid, but the Lake, for all its dazzling beauty under the high sun, isn’t a safe place.

Sea creatures can pull a man in by their fishing line, beasts wander around the shores, fairies like to push you into the water once the mists set in (which is why the fisherman chose to get to work after noon)—it helps to have someone, anyone else to watch your back wherever you are outside of the walls. So that is me for him today. His back and front—all around him will not escape the justice of my red-oak blade.

...

...

...

The day is extremely uneventful.

After three hours of nothing but catching fish occurring, my sanity is beginning to wear.

I won’t falter! No! But... it’s really, really boring!

He’s caught so many though... I know it’s his job, but seriously. He’s caught twenty-five of the things. That’s absur—Whuh?

It was twenty-five, wasn’t it?

There... doesn’t look to be twenty-five on the racks he set up. How many is that...? One, two...

Oh no.

I whip my head around seeking the culprit and ‘lo, in the distance, floating toward the forest of magic, is a pile of freshly caught fish. No doubt about it: fairies.

I shout out a report of the situation. “Sir! There are fairies making off with your catch!”

“Ngh... Well then... get ‘em!” he says, and I notice that this old man is struggling with his fishing rod.

“... Do you need help, Sir?”

“Oh, naw! Get goin’!” he dismisses me.

“What... What if that’s a sea monster...?”

“You think I’ve been fishing this lake so long without knowing a monster from a mermaid and a catch from a killer? Don’t underestimate me, boy! Go! That catch’s more important that my might be losin’ my rod!”

What am I here for if not protecting you!? Aaaaggh!!

FINE!

I turn on my heel and fall into a stance, ready to dash and cut if I need to.

The fae are many meters away now, but I can still see them.

I—


[] rush forward quickly and quietly. I have to stop them!

[] kick a stone their way. They may be invisible, but they shouldn’t be incorporeal.

[] breathe in deeply, readying a frightening and powerful yell. Fairies, after all, are notorious cowards.

Time remaining: ::Timer ended at: 2019/11/10(Sun)02:00

>>No. 200743
[x] rush forward quickly and quietly. I have to stop them!
>>No. 200744
[x] rush forward quickly and quietly. I have to stop them!

If we alert them they'll just fly away with the fish.
>>No. 200751
[x] breathe in deeply, readying a frightening and powerful yell. Fairies, after all, are notorious cowards.

>but I can still see them
>They may be invisible
What?
>>No. 200756
[x] breathe in deeply, readying a frightening and powerful yell. Fairies, after all, are notorious cowards.
>>No. 200758
>>200751
the fish is visible
>>No. 200760
[x] rush forward quickly and quietly. I have to stop them!
>>No. 200773
File 15733862388.jpg - (359.49KB, 700x627, fairy failure.jpg) [iqdb]
200773
[X] rush forward quickly and quietly. I have to stop them!


My running form is more similar to falling and leaping than an ordinary sprint. Whether it’s efficient or not, I can’t say, but this rabbit’s way of flying forth is certainly fast, provided you’ve practiced.

With air rushing past my ears, I make it to the fairies in less than twenty bounds, readying a swing of my sword without waiting.

“WaaAAAHHhhAH! Star!!” I hear, and I feel a rush of air before my face as some of the fish start to fall. Striking toward the air itself, I suddenly feel something under my foot. I can’t see what it is, but it destroys my balance and I start to fall over—on top of the squealing obstruction.

“Ugah!! Sunny! I tripped!”

More fish fall over. As I’m dropping, I see that only one, large catch is left in the fae’s possession: floating fast as if it’s fleeing. The little thief is getting away!

I reach out for the space beneath the fisherman’s quarry, and... there! Cloth! I grasp it, and pull back, and from a sheet of yellow sparks I tug out a ginger-haired, white- and red-wearing fairy, dragging her to the grass as I finally and awkwardly collapse. Underneath my calves is another fairy in white: this one is a blond who’s done up her hair in drills. I look overhead and see a third fairy flying over the forest of magic, her black hair and blue dress swaying gently in the breeze.

Well. That was inglorious.

A voice sounds overhead with the words: “Nice: meat!” and an impenetrable darkness falls over me.

This is...!? A youkai! It has to be!

I manage to get onto my feet and ready my sword and then sunlight returns. I blink. All of the fish is gone, and one of the two fairies (the blond). The red-head sits up from where I dropped her and starts looking left and right. “Luna!? Where’d you go!?” she cries. Then she sees me while she’s searching and falls onto her front side in a scramble to get away. “Oh no!” she yells. “The human can see me!? A-And he can hear me! Lunaaaa!!”

Where is the fish!?

I look up toward the Forest of Magic again and—What! A ball of shadow flying through the sky!? A new thief!!

I look down at the panicking fairy...


[] She manipulated my sight. She must be a light fairy. I toss the fairy of light at the darkness.

[] “Hey,” I say, “help me. That ball stole your friend.”

[] I wish she would shut up... Looking back at the forest, I run forward again. Time to climb the trees.


Time remaining: ::Timer ended at: 2019/11/11(Mon)03:00

>>No. 200774
[x] She manipulated my sight. She must be a light fairy. I toss the fairy of light at the darkness.

Hit a mf with another mf
>>No. 200775
[x] She manipulated my sight. She must be a light fairy. I toss the fairy of light at the darkness.

FROM DOWNTOWN
>>No. 200777
[x] She manipulated my sight. She must be a light fairy. I toss the fairy of light at the darkness.
>>No. 200781
[x] She manipulated my sight. She must be a light fairy. I toss the fairy of light at the darkness.

Perfect.
>>No. 200789
[x] She manipulated my sight. She must be a light fairy. I toss the fairy of light at the darkness.
>>No. 200800
File 157344525826.gif - (1.88MB, 785x559, DIRECT HIT.gif) [iqdb]
200800
[X] She manipulated my sight. She must be a light fairy. I toss the fairy of light at the darkness.


“Huh!? What!? AAAAAHH!!??”

She weighed enough that tossing her still felt like it would have momentum, and indeed, she flies well without her wings. I send the fairy with speed to the dark orb. It enters the darkness, explodes with light, and – apparently – slams its head into the skull of the youkai that had summoned the shade.

I hear their yelps of agony from a distance, and things start to fall: two fairies, a red-eyed and yellow-haired, female “child” youkai... and fish.

My eyes widen.

Oh no.

Why... In my haste, it seems that I’ve neglected the question of “How will you retrieve the stolen goods?”

I start moving without thinking, pushing my legs to their limit and feeling my heart resist. It seems that I’m overexerting myself... even though these are all non-aggressive small-fry. That doesn’t really bode well.

I keep my eyes on the fish, trying to guess where in the forest they’ll land. If they spread out too much th—WHAT!?

“WHAT’S... THIS!?” I yell, slamming my heel down to stop myself.

The fish... The fish has all been trapped in blocks of ice and suspended in the air!

How!?

“I did it!” shouts a voice from behind me. I turn my head fast.

Halfway from here to the shore is a... fairy, surely, fluttering several meters from the ground, dressed in blue, and with light-colored hair and irises to match. Her hands are out as if grasping, and her wings are icicles. Icicles! Ice fairy!

“I’ll take these home!” she declares, and with a flinch I look to the sky to see fish-blocks flying in front of it: from the Forest, to her.

I scream inside my head.


[] Recall the form of the Lepus and jump at that fairy!

[] Shout for the fairy to stop at once, and declare combat!

[] Throw your wooden sword at the fairy’s face!



Time remaining: ::Timer ended at: 2019/11/11(Mon)12:00


++++++++

image sources:
https://danbooru.donmai.us/posts/3433314
https://danbooru.donmai.us/posts/1618838
>>No. 200802
[x] Recall the form of the Lepus and jump at that fairy!
>>No. 200803
[x] Throw your wooden sword at the fairy’s face!
>>No. 200805
[x] Recall the form of the Lepus and jump at that fairy!
>>No. 200806
[x] Throw your wooden sword at the fairy’s face!

This counts as danmaku, right?
>>No. 200807
[x] Recall the form of the Lepus and jump at that fairy!
>>No. 200838
[x] Recall the form of the Lepus and jump at that fairy!
>>No. 200865
I think I'm three or four updates late.

Keep in mind there's no real excuse, I just played video games all day yesterday.
>>No. 200866
File 157378160092.gif - (84.90KB, 299x320, hohoh.gif) [iqdb]
200866
[X] Recall the form of the Lepus and jump at that fairy!


I step forward and fall low, bending my knees and building my strength.

“Fairy!” I bellow (um, well, I try to bellow but my voice is... not entirely manly), “Release your plunder!”

“Panda?” the fairy says, looking down at me. “Oh? You’re approaching me?” she asks particularly quizzically. Her eyes sparkle, and she grins. “Instead of running away, you’re coming right to me, the strongest fairy, Cirno!?”

“Fairy of Ice, Fairy of Fire, Fairy of Light,” I begin, “no matter which, a fairy will fall to the blow of a bokken very well, you will soon learn.”

I take my jump.

“So yes I am approaching, and apprehending you! Fairy, Cirno!”

I rush through the air almost impossibly.

Impossible for any ordinary human. But my legs have been trained by the White Hare of Inaba! I will not fall from the sky so fast.

Fifteen feet. I push my body fifteen feet into the air, kicking up a spray of earth with the launch. The air screams around me. I begin to cut my blade forward.

“Ice Sign!” she calls, a card slipping out of her sleeve and shining in front of her chest. “‘Icicle Fall’!”

A spell card...!?

An explosive sounds booms out, and ice flies out from her in four, turning lines, rotating all past me...!

Literally... past me!

Nothing hits, even if I make no attempt to dodge!

... What sort of danmaku is this!?

I hit the fairy from the side of her stomach.

“OOF!” she groans, spitting with the blow. Her entire body moves with it... no durability whatsoever! I strike her down, and the effect of her card ends. Behind me, the fish falls too. I carefully fall back down, distributing my wait and turning over to reduce the impact. With this, it’s done...

“Guh, gwuh...”

“Hm!?”

A bit away, standing up is the strongest fairy, wobbling and holding her stomach.

I march over and hit her once on her head with my sword,

“Gah!” she cries, and when she falls this time she does not get back up.

“It’s fine...” I say coolly, spinning my blade once in front of me before easing it into a loop on the side of my belt, “even if you die, a fairy never dies forever.”

I turn on my heel and collect the fish.

~~

Nearing the evening, the fisherman was finally done. He was especially happy that his fish had been frozen, and gave me a few coins for that... though it wasn’t me. He left for the village after, and I was left at the shore, tired.

Indeed, I’m very... very tired.

“Haaahhh...” I sigh, my whole body shaking.


[] There’s still daylight. I’ll take a short rest before a tree.

[] I want to see Tewi... It would be nice to brag.

[] I had better go see Akyuu about the job being done. That old man seemed so flippant, he may not have reported the fact.


Time remaining: ::Timer ended at: 2019/11/15(Fri)12:00

>>No. 200870
[x] There’s still daylight. I’ll take a short rest before a tree.
>>No. 200871
[X] There’s still daylight. I’ll take a short rest before a tree.
>>No. 200872
[x] I had better go see Akyuu about the job being done. That old man seemed so flippant, he may not have reported the fact.
>>No. 200873
[x] I had better go see Akyuu about the job being done. That old man seemed so flippant, he may not have reported the fact.
>>No. 200874
[x] I had better go see Akyuu about the job being done. That old man seemed so flippant, he may not have reported the fact.
>>No. 200880
[X] There’s still daylight. I’ll take a short rest before a tree.
>>No. 200881
Coin flip: tails!
>>No. 200882
File 157383691766.jpg - (85.09KB, 1500x1500, yunomi.jpg) [iqdb]
200882
[X] I had better go see Akyuu about the job being done. That old man seemed so flippant, he may not have reported the fact.


...

Oh look at you. Are you that proud to make an obvious guess?

Fine, you were right to suspect. But, tell me this: did he, or did he not?



[] Of course he didn’t.

[] Of course, he did.


And what makes you say that? Anyway give me a moment to drink. I’m getting a bit parched from all this tale-telling.

Time remaining: ::Timer ended at: 2019/11/16(Sat)03:00

>>No. 200883
[x] Of course, he did.
>>No. 200884
[x] Of course he didn’t.
>>No. 200885
[x] Of course, he did.

Lol scapegoat update to comply with the daily schedule
>>No. 200886
[x] Of course, he did.

Drink
>>No. 200887
File 157386905470.png - (786.46KB, 1000x1202, otsukare.png) [iqdb]
200887
~~

Right, where were we?


The sun is beginning to set by the time I reach the Hieda Manor. The manor itself is fairly empty... the servants are busy preparing dinner and readying the baths. It was similar in the village as I was walking here. I’ve heard that in the outside world, this is a time that’s very busy actually, and that when night falls people don’t go straight to bed. It sounds horrible.

In the slippers I was given at the gate, I step lightly over the mansion’s surrounding porch, making my way to the garden where I left Akyuu. I look at the sky absently and don’t think about much of anything. Am I pleased with myself for doing a job well done? I’m not really sure. I think that my backing down on try to resolve the Spring Snow Incident is still gnawing at me. It was a month ago now... Is this “that”? The ennui of adolescence?

“Watch your step, Taro.”

“Hn?”

I look down at my foot, about to step off the rise to collapse me onto rocks below. I flinch, and bring it back, returning to balance in an instant. That voice...

“Thank you.”

... was Akyuu, of course.

“I should thank you,” I say, “I was about to shame myself!” I grin at her.

“That would be fine. Ruining the Zen here would give me a headache,” she says. Her hand is already on her forehead, though, and she’s slouching quite deeply.

“You’ve been hard at work,” I compliment her.

“I’ve been working,” she replies, almost with a musical quality to her words—she seems bitter.

“When will you complete the next manuscript of the Gensokyo Chronicle?” I ask her, stepping toward her so that I might look over her shoulder at her writings. “I mean no rush. I’m very curious!”

“At this rate...” she mutters, straightening up and looking over the scroll before her, “two... three years? Two. It’ll be two... three. Hm.”

She reaches into her collar, grabbing the muscle between her neck and shoulder—her trapezius. The press of her fingers tells me she’s squeezing it, and she rotates her arm gently. I sit on my knees behind her and put both my hands into her robes from her collar, holding on to that muscle and its double on the other side of her neck.

So, I massage her.

“Mm... Why, this is sudden,” she mumbles, her body swaying with my pushing and kneading.

Sudde—? Oh!

“Ah. Ahh...” I give a voice to my realization. This is a little sudden, but... “I’m used to massaging old ladies when they’re looking tired,” I tell her.

Now she grumbles, “‘Old ladies’... Taro?”

“Yes?”

She lifts the hand she’d been using to pinch herself and checks the knuckles against my skull.

“Ow!”

“I’m as old as you, Taro,” she complains.

What! “You’re almost two-thousand years old!”

I’m right! She is!

“My soul’s... ugh, forget it,” she relents. But...

“What about your soul?” I don’t really understand. Honestly, my thoughts are feeling a bit spotty right now.

“You know what,” she says. Then, she sighs. “Maybe I do act as old as old as two-thousand, though...”

“Well, it’s alright! Mature women are charming!” I compliment her.

“Shut your mouth, Taro.”

I shut my mouth, and keep massaging. She’s stiff. I should probably massage her right hand, wrist, and arm as well, since she’s been writing all day.

“How was your first job, anyway?” she asks me.

I shrug.

“... Speak!” she commands. Oh!

“It went mostly fine, until some fairies came around.”

“Fairies...” she repeats, just a little angrily.

“I dealt with them swiftly. They’re just fairies. I think there was a youkai, too, but it didn’t turn into a fight.”

“Aren’t you lucky?” After saying this, I see her start to mass the lower half of her right palm. Yeah, I’ll definitely have to do that. Tewi does that after she’s penned too many writings for her rabbits and enterprises. Tewi isn’t strong, but Akyuu is very weak. Even massaging her, I feel like I have to be more careful. “Did the old man give you your reward?” Oh, she’s still talking.

Answer her! “Three mon.”

“Thr—”

She stops.

Then, she grabs my left hand, turning her head that way and squinting one eye toward me (not that she could really see me without being a rokurokubi).

Three?” she repeats.

“Yes! I’m very happy with that!” I tell her, smiling brightly.

“You were owed twenty,” she says. I... What?

Akyuu heaves a rattling sigh while I fret at her back.

“That—... I keep records, you know? What record am I to keep here? If I say that Zouman short-changed you, I’ll be asked about it. If you ever let it slip that he gave you three mon, I’ll have to answer as to why the reward wasn’t properly conferred. Did he think I had to give you the reward? If I take money from the Hieda coffers, what am I supposed to say about that!? How do I explain that!?”

With her growing heated, I simply continue to fret. I haven’t really dealt with someone angry before.

“Uh,” I begin, “it’s fine if it’s three. I don’t need any money.”

“You are owed money, and three is not fine.” Is she scolding me!? “This... I don’t want you to look into it, ugh. Ugh! This... it should be so simple but this ruins everything!”

“I’ll make twenty... seventeen mon!” I tell her. “Then it won’t matter! You can just write the record and it’ll be done!”

“That’s nice of you, but regardless I’m going to need to send someone to ask about this. To see if it was a misunderstanding or... haaaahhh...” She heaves a sigh, her shoulders drooping. “I’m tired, Taro.”

Aw, no...

“Can I help? I’ll ask Zouman about it and...” She shakes her head.

“You aren’t supposed to deal with money matters, you’re only labor.”

Akyuu begins to stand up. I watch her rise and turn, her right hand to me. “Get up,” she says.

I take her hand and stand in front of her.

She looks to the garden, and I look too. Silently, we just look at it.

“What really frustrates me,” Akyuu speaks all of a sudden, “is that I had a laborer do a job almost pro bono.”

“At... At least this is the first time,” I reassure her.

“It’s not the first time,” she replies.

Ahh... I can feel my face involuntarily shifting to show my dismay.

“I’ve actually made quite a few mistakes, or rather... I don’t really make mistakes. I remember too well for mistakes to take hold of me, but I guess... I’m... Hahh, I’m inexperienced and unclear-slash-naive.”

She says this with her hands on her hips, and I notice her thin arms from the fact that her sleeves are rolled up—probably to avoid being stained with ink. The way she said that last part... she was definitely repeating someone else’s words.

I fiddle with my fingers.

“It’s tiring,” she admits, with a dark and withering look in her eyes, “and aggravating. I remember especially... how to put it? Vexation, from the weight of responsibilities and expectations.” She looks at me, cocking an eyebrow. “You know, they wait on me hand and foot here in the mansion. I think it’s less because I’m weak and will die young and more because I have the most managerial work to do in this entire village. The gumonji is a deeply valued ability, Taro-kun.” She shows me an empty and open grin. My frown deepens.

“...” I look at my feet.

Then, I look at her, and put my hand on her head, petting her. She glares.

“... Don’t pet me,” she orders.

“I appreciate you, Akyuu,” I say. I smile, though my smile is getting dull as night comes nearer and nearer. “Everyone does. You are invaluable and tragic. I think you’re amazing, and I think I’m not alone in that opinion.” I put my free hand on my hip. “I will sort out the matter of the twenty mon,” I say, closing my eyes and putting more strength in my smile. “If the matter looks like it might come to you regardless, then I will earn forty... eighty mon, and deliver it to you. I don’t want you to be frayed from others’ failings. That is not fair.” I open my eyes, looking warmly at her impeccably straight hair as I palm my hand over it. “You should take rest,” I say. “If you need rest, I’ll take you somewhere! We... Haven’t you not been with the other village kids in a while? You don’t go to the temple school, so we only ever get to see you on errand days...” I stop petting her, and realize, “I’m babbling.”

“Yes, you’re babbling,” she confirms. “But... I appreciate the babbling. I only needed to vent. Don’t worry, I do take breaks, even if it’s only to sleep...”

Once more, we both look at the gardens. I feel myself nodding off a bit.

“Taro.”

“Hmn?”

Akyuu has her arms folded, and she’s looking at me with a smirk. “I would really rather you not go on empty handed, but I can’t give you anything monetary without raising a fuss. Not even a single mon. Here—”

She puts a hand to my left cheek; a small, but dusted-black thing that she uses to pull my other cheek toward her. She then slightly raises onto her toes, and carefully plants her lips against my face, leaving a blush behind.

“For now, I hope my appreciation for your work and words is conveyed with this,” she says, closing her eyes and looking proud.

I touch where she kissed. It feels intensely warm... In my drowsy state, I’m almost unsure of what happened.

“Not... to say a kiss from the Child of Miare is worth only seventeen mon,” she assures me a sly glance and smile. I grip the hand against my cheek closed. Suddenly, I feel invigorated by a feeling of conviction, rising up within me.

I take Akyuu’s right hand into both of mine, squinting at it. I kneel, and kiss the back of it, holding the hand tight, especially where I had seen her hold it before.

Her back straightens, but she doesn’t say anything.

“Um...” I say my eyes unable to hold in one place for longer than a second, “you don’t owe me anything, but for that kiss I felt you were owed one in returned. So uh... it is given... Akyuu... -sam... A... A... kyuu...”

I look up at her face. It’s a deeper red than the twilight sky.

“Uh... haha! Yes! That’s... gentlemanly!” she stammers.

“It’s, uh.... tradition! Or-Order and business!” I insist.

“Wha—!? Sure!?” she agrees, looking away, but not pulling away.

I close my eyes and let go of her, holding both of my hands up and wide open, my face beaming. “I’ll go home now! See you later, Akyuu!”

When I open my eyes a squint, I see her mirroring my gesture as she says, “Yes! See you tomorrow!”

“Tomorrow”... I wasn’t supposed to be here tomorrow!

“See you!” she repeats, waving rather quickly.

“Yes, goodbye!” I answer, and I back away, waving as I go.

When I am passing the corner to leave her presence, I grab hold of the cloth over the left side of my chest. Before I lose sight of her, I see Akyuu doing the very same thing.


...

What?

You said you wouldn’t be disappointed. Is the problem that the kiss was not romantic? Come now, you’re a child as well—you know. The Hieda girl is still young. Her old-life memories only relate to the Chronicle of youkai that the Children of Miare are tasked to maintain. Children, doing childish things... though they are getting past the age of simple “child” at this point, yes.

I honestly think it’s very cute. I doubt they had any real tension... they were just a pair of embarrassed kids, hmhm.

Indeed, this was a more entertaining portion of his life. Now then—



[] You lied!

[] Did he kiss somebody on... their lips!! Did he have a romantic kiss or not!?

[] (Say nothing. Silently fume.)


Time remaining: ::Timer ended at: 2019/11/16(Sat)12:00

>>No. 200888
[x] (Say nothing. Silently fume.)

silently fuming can solve all problems
>>No. 200889
[x] You lied!
>>No. 200903
[x] Did he kiss somebody on... their lips!! Did he have a romantic kiss or not!?
>>No. 200905
[x] (Say nothing. Silently fume.)
>>No. 200908
[x] Did he kiss somebody on... their lips!! Did he have a romantic kiss or not!?

Kiss, kiss, fall in love
>>No. 200914
File 157391409094.jpg - (200.73KB, 1920x1280, You.jpg) [iqdb]
200914
[X] Did he kiss somebody on... their lips!! Did he have a romantic kiss or not!?


Quiet. Do not demean yourself.

What? Don’t give me such a look; I never allow myself to be demeaned.


No, never.


You are escaping the point—


He has. Now you’ve heard it, would you like to tell me who?

I am telling this story, you think I do not know its events?



Yes.

Lift your head.

You know who it was that first took Nakahara Taro’s lips.







Yes, that’s right.








It was you.



Stop your fretting, from hereon I will tell the story a bit differently, as it will suit things better. I enjoy how it has been but, if I don’t change how the story is told... Oh my, so you do understand.

Keep understanding. We will move on now, to the first true winter after the too-long last. You remember it, don’t you? I hope that you did not forget. I know that you forgot that, so...


Good, you remember.

It was the first true winter after the too long last. Mother nature and the fae she bo
re gave no particular mercy, given spring had been so cruelly shortened. So, I thought that it would be best if I gave Gens
okyo some out of season spring for its next winter.

After all it was I who had it taken away only months before.

The winter was in fact very bad that year if I recall. Rather, I know that you thought it cold. It was one of those things you wouldn’t give me any peace over, even though it was your mistake that had you sent into the living world.

You remember the time; tell me what you did wrong.


[] I misplaced the leftover spring after you’d told me to go disperse it. You were throwing it around and I didn’t trust you when you said it would make sakura trees bloom.

[] I neglected my duties to gather the lost spirits that had escaped after the barrier was damaged. I... was too relaxed and spent time warming up in the manor

[] While I was in Gensokyo, I dropped the lantern that draws spirits to it, losing track of it completely. I also hid this truth from you.

>>No. 200915
[x] I neglected my duties to gather the lost spirits that had escaped after the barrier was damaged. I... was too relaxed and spent time warming up in the manor

So the two narrators were Yuyuko and Youmu all along, huh.
>>No. 200918
[x] I neglected my duties to gather the lost spirits that had escaped after the barrier was damaged. I... was too relaxed and spent time warming up in the manor
>>No. 200919
[x] I neglected my duties to gather the lost spirits that had escaped after the barrier was damaged. I... was too relaxed and spent time warming up in the manor
>>No. 200926
[x] I neglected my duties to gather the lost spirits that had escaped after the barrier was damaged. I... was too relaxed and spent time warming up in the manor
>>No. 200939
File 157396406412.jpg - (1.19MB, 1500x1660, mu.jpg) [iqdb]
200939
[X] I neglected my duties to gather the lost spirits that had escaped after the barrier was damaged. I... was too relaxed and spent time warming up in the manor.


That’s close. I recall you doing that, but... this isn’t the same matter. It was certainly a result of your being neglectful, but no. You really can’t remember? Are there more mistakes you’ve made that I’m simply unaware of? Why, I’ll keep that in mind.


The stage is set, so let’s continue.

In order to gather spring, indeed I’d had the barrier rent. When you weren’t at home, heating yourselves, I’d sent you to use the Soul Torch as it’s meant to be used: as a beacon for lost souls who had indeed escaped. Snow fell, ordinarily, and pretty absolutely but not gorgeous at all. If it were a summer snow, now, that would be something to behold. The winter was winter, same as each and every year coated in crystals white and frigid. Same, save for of course the phantoms. We have little to do in our place. Managing, at least, should have been something we were capable of. I sent you out into the frozen lands of the living, and you thoughtlessly dropped the lantern.

At the time you were trudging through snow and worrying about it, supposedly. You had your hands before your chest, held together and fingers fidgeting. If I were to know what you’d done, who could imagine the punishment? You know it now, and I suppose you can say that, then, you were right to know concern. The Soul Torch is one of a kind... we can’t lose it so whimsically.

How to find such an item once lost? Where could you have dropped it? Unfortunately, you couldn’t feel its presence as strongly as the other spirits, so sensing it was out of the question. You would have to find a gathering of ghosts, of course. You were in the Forest of Magic, halfly searching for just that. Your other half was gripped in worry.

You didn’t even notice that you weren’t alone, even though the scene was almost silent from the deafening trait of snow and snowfall. You should have heard the running steps, but alas. The appearance of a phantom being shoved through snowdrift by some violent person, there, some meters out ahead of you, took you completely by surprise. You gasped, didn’t you?

A young boy, seemingly a little younger than you, and fully human, was suppressing this phantom. His hand was not bare: it was gloved with a shining and white thing, and small wisps of pale energy bled from it gently. You recognized it as an item from the Netherworld—or rather, an imitation? It allowed the corporeal to force the spectral into somewhat physical form. The boy – in fact all dressed in white, with thick clothing: robes, trousers, a scarf and a hood which had fallen down in his lunge – had a crowd of bottles on his belt, clanking loudly throughout the quiet, evening woods. Almost each bottle held fast a cold and caught phantom soul.

This person was an exterminator of youkai.

He wrangled the ghost in his grasp, loosing a new bottle from his belt. It was a small but active phantom, likely excited from the rush the boy himself was feeling—reciprocating, you know? He wrestled it up, and stuffed it into the container, taking a tin cap from a separate line of caps hanging off his waist and quickly topping, twisting the bottle shut to trap it. After putting the now-filled bottle to his belt again, you saw him turn and there saw the recognizable case for a bokken on his back. A young exterminator, braving Gensokyo’s wilds with a wooden sword... You narrowed your eyes, and chose to stop him.

“Hail!” you said, so loudly. The boy looked at you, perplexed, and then his eyes became transfixed on your ghostly half. Something seemed to align in his head, from what you could tell of the movement in his eyes, and his ghost-gloved hand flew to the case on his back.

“So you are responsible...” he said darkly. He fished inside the case, and withdrew his practice blade. “This land is cold enough as it is!” he boomed! “Phantom enchantress, you will return what little warmth the winter has!”

And, you drew your youkai blade, then...!

... Mmh, pardon. I find that I’m, presently, feeling somewhat foggy on the details. What exactly was it that you did next?


[] I, recognizing him as a warrior, struck back without mercy.

[] I found reason for a moment, and sheathed my sword at once. When he came, I pulled the sheath off my waist and defended against his first attack.


Time remaining: ::Timer ended at: 2019/11/17(Sun)13:00

>>No. 200942
[x] I found reason for a moment, and sheathed my sword at once. When he came, I pulled the sheath off my waist and defended against his first attack.
>>No. 200946
[x] I found reason for a moment, and sheathed my sword at once. When he came, I pulled the sheath off my waist and defended against his first attack.
>>No. 200948
[x] I, recognizing him as a warrior, struck back without mercy.

Please, guys, Youmu is too much of an excitable dork to think of talking things out when presented with a fight. Haven't you played the games?
>>No. 200949
[x] I, recognizing him as a warrior, struck back without mercy.
>>No. 200950
File 157399071568.png - (1.09MB, 610x610, Screenshot_74.png) [iqdb]
200950
[X] I, recognizing him as a warrior, struck back without mercy.
>>No. 200951
[x] I, recognizing him as a warrior, struck back without mercy.
>>No. 200952
[x] I, recognizing him as a warrior, struck back without mercy.
>>No. 200953
File 157401083889.png - (1.58MB, 1888x2524, fight.png) [iqdb]
200953
[X] I, recognizing him as a warrior, struck back without mercy.


Yes, as you should. Perhaps the only proper act of yours that day.


Now, now; smile!



You struck back with the speed of your Master’s hand.

He actually had expected as much. After all he had identified you by your phantom-self, and was ready for the strength of one who was greater than merely human. He ducked your blade; your slice extended past the edge of its steel and swiftly cut through the trunk of a tree faraway. He dragged his sword up through snow, aiming for your torso, and so you drew the ancestral blade. The short sword on your waist. As if he hadn’t seen it.

Youmu... Of course he had.

You had your wrist struck for your foolishness, and less than pain; shame and surprise ran through you. It was enough for him to show that his phantasmal glove came paired. His left hand found your phantom half, and tore it away from you, while he thrust the tip of his bokken into your soft stomach. They are rather big: you half-phantoms’ phantom halves.

He pulled it from you, and it manifested in your human shape, taking up its copied blade. This he had not expected.

“Unfair!” he shouted! “Half-phantoms could do this!?”

You were on the ground, your sword stabbed into the earth to keep you up. A blow there, it would cripple anyone. Your other half was at the ready, yes, but she felt the pain too. He didn’t have enough experience to tell.

“Human, I recognize your ability...” you said, standing on shaky feet. You pointed your longsword at him and cried! “But know this!” Pfhmhm... Ahem. “But know this! I will not show you any mercy! You will be put down here.”

You know what he did? He kicked snow into your face and with speed cut the drift below to cast more snow into the face of your phantom.

“Ahh!?” you yelled.

He took advantage and shoved against your phantom half. It dropped the phantom sword, which faded to nothing. He grabbed you and dragged you along, to yourself, where he struck your flesh body’s wrist again so that you would drop your wakizashi. He was growing quite phenomenally skilled at the time. Perhaps, that alone was something you couldn’t contend with? Regardless he threw your phantom into the snow and stomped her chest with his boot. He rammed his sword into the underside of your longsword’s hilt, and like that he had you disarmed. After, he abandoned his own sword, had yours, and knocked away your wakizashi with the toe of his available boot. With your own blade now aimed at your throat, the battle was over.


[] No! My phantom half still had her Hakurouken!

[] I regret to admit it... but that is the case.

[] I... I disarmed him right back! I am human, but he is only human! It... It was simple!


++++++++

The previous image source is: https://danbooru.donmai.us/posts/1119371
here's the timer-
Time remaining: ::Timer ended at: 2019/11/18(Mon)04:00

>>No. 200954
[x] I... I disarmed him right back! I am human, but he is only human! It... It was simple!

Nah, as much of a dork Youmu is, I doubt she'd lose so badly against a human kid.
>>No. 200955
[x] I... I disarmed him right back! I am human, but he is only human! It... It was simple!
>>No. 200956
[x] I... I disarmed him right back! I am human, but he is only human! It... It was simple!
>>No. 200957
[x] I... I disarmed him right back! I am human, but he is only human! It... It was simple!

COMMENCE BULLI
>>No. 200958
[x] I... I disarmed him right back! I am human, but he is only human! It... It was simple!
>>No. 200967
File 157405318514.png - (2.33MB, 1200x1697, above+below human.png) [iqdb]
200967
[X] I... I disarmed him right back! I am human, but he is only human! It... It was simple!


Oh? Was that how it went? Oh, right, it was. Silly me.

Having the tip of a blade to your throat—your own blade in fact—was no easy thing to swallow. Had you swallowed without any pause, thoughtlessly, that esophageal movement... it would have brought the blade through skin, cut, and bled. You stayed your soul, and did not act impulsively. Yes, I know. You may want to tell me that you turned this situation on its head just as quick your situation prior had had its head turned by him, but; say you moved right.

He would redirect the blade, and have your head.

Say you made to grab his hands...

He would run your neck through the moment you tried.

You waited. He was waiting, so words were surely coming very soon. And they did.

“Your sword hand is fast,” he gave you, “but, it feels as if you haven’t fought much.”

What were you thinking, then?


It felt familiar... Yes, I suppose it would.

“I will let you speak, half-phantom,” he said to you, his voice dark, like this, “Oohh—OOOHH! I will—
Fine. Fine! I will not exaggerate!

“There are phantoms rampant throughout the Forest of Magic,” he told you, “do you know why this is?”

“Yes! I—... No! I do not!”

...

“You do know?”

“I just said I do not!”

“... You’re too suspicious. I will take you to the Hakurei and—”

You ducked suddenly, away from the sword’s tip, threw back your foot through the snow, and in a flash brought it forth down the now-cleared path, up, and the toe of your shoe fiercely met with his jewels.

“Gwuhgh!” Pfhaha! “Gah—!” He—!... Ohh... ha! Supposedly, the look on his face...! Ohh... Haaa... Oh.

He... He dropped there and then. His clothes were very thick, yes, but a half-phantom is indeed very strong. It was as if this padding—this armor, it simply wasn’t there. Well, for a lad, even an inappropriate tap is enough to render the leg beside numb, you know. He tried to hold on to your sword, and you could see that, so rather than immediately disarm him you used martial arts. You crashed the heels of your hands against his chest, such that his boot released your phantom as he fell back. There you took his sword arm, and knocked away his other which had the hilt firm in its grasp, and you brought your elbow to his face.

He was in pain, and you dragged him over your head, threw him down into the snow, and your other half wrested the Roukanken from the boys hand. You stood, one foot on his throat, and his arm locked into yours, not caring that he could see everything underneath your skirt.

Always keep that in mind, Youmu. Yes, you should be ashamed.

His pushing you was undoubtedly impressive, but as you’d showed it was full of openings, especially against the superior strength of a being fused with the power of the dead. “Those phantoms belong to me, but I did not send them here,” you told him. “I will take this arm if you do not tell me where the ghosts are congregating!” Your phantom self held your physical katana to the boy’s elbow. You would not hesitate. You had some nerve, given this was all your fault.

“Hah...! Hah...!” he breathed. “I... hah...” was all he could say. His eyes were on your sword.

He looked around himself. He could, you knew; he could do something. He wasn’t utterly defeated, but... Unlike you, indeed he was only human. He cursed, and acknowledged that he had been defeated.

“I... am unsure...” he told you.

“Release those you have captured,” you ordered. “Use your other hand. If you do a single thing outside of this command, the arm goes!”

“Yes...” he muttered, and he began to release the phantoms, twisting his bottles open so they could depart. As you thought, all of them were coaxed toward one place.

“Hmph,” you grunted, boyishly. What? You went, “Hmph, so there.”

You let go his arm. You snatched your youkai blade from your dead-self, which became its usual, bubble-shape and flew to your ancestral blade, taking it up and giving it to you. When you took your boot from his throat, you planted it beside his stomach. You kicked him, heavily, into a tree away where he crashed, and snow fell over his body. You sheathed your swords, and kicked up his bokken into your freed palm. You spun it, and looked it over, two fingers to the reversed edge and felt down in examination. It was a fair blade for a young warrior. You turned it in your hand again, and, feeling stylish, you closed your eyes and stabbed it through the earth before you. “Yes, I have fought little,” you admitted to him, “but I am not merely human. Know your limitations, and surpass them with a different warrior!” You didn’t know, but he began to rise. “I am not a foe that you can face—”

He threw a snowball in your face.

Again, void of hesitation, you began to draw your sword at once, or... once the disorientation from being blindsided had begun to ebb, but there you felt the slam of a blade down on the guard, denying you. You went for your wakizashi, and felt a boot rough and furious against your chest.

He kicked you down! And you pulled your long sword up together with sheath still on, your eyes still blinded but you anticipated the—STRIKE! Against you! It clattered with jittering metal and whole wooden, beautiful sound. Still blind, there you gracefully fought against him.

Enough blindfolded training will give you that skill, of course. Youki spared you little in physical training, even if philosophy still escapes your head. Calmly, practiced, you swung your sheath as he swung his sword, matching him by ear instead of eye. The air moved with him, and you felt that too. You could not detect his body, but defending was enough. Your phantom half... without you, it is a bit useless.

Eventually the two of you had each other’s blades stuck in the ground below, brought together and holding you apart. You thought to reach for your Hakurouken, and he grabbed your wrist. With the rattle of your Roukanken against his wood weapon, you could feel how all his power was there, and around your wrist, with all desperation and a just, fiery conviction. He was, firmly, against you.

You opened one eye despite the cold.

And...? You said?


[] “We are at a misunderstanding. Let me go, and I will show you the source of the phantoms.”

[] I have a duty here in Gensokyo, but this fight...! I feel duty-bound to finish it. Human warrior... Show me all of your efforts!

[] “How did you train...? Your movements are unlike the way of the sword and hand that I know, You brute... You fight like a beast!”


Time remaining: ::Timer ended at: 2019/11/18(Mon)15:00

>>No. 200968
[x] “How did you train...? Your movements are unlike the way of the sword and hand that I know, You brute... You fight like a beast!”
>>No. 200971
[x] “How did you train...? Your movements are unlike the way of the sword and hand that I know, You brute... You fight like a beast!”
>>No. 200976
[x] “How did you train...? Your movements are unlike the way of the sword and hand that I know, You brute... You fight like a beast!”
>>No. 200978
[x] “How did you train...? Your movements are unlike the way of the sword and hand that I know, You brute... You fight like a beast!”

Like a... cow, for example?
>>No. 200979
[x] “How did you train...? Your movements are unlike the way of the sword and hand that I know, You brute... You fight like a beast!”
>>No. 200980
File 15740808996.jpg - (764.15KB, 1200x1600, next to none.jpg) [iqdb]
200980
[X] “How did you train...? Your movements are unlike the way of the sword and hand that I know, You brute... You fight like a beast!”


Yes!

“You fight like a student,” was his answer, and from your expression—from your teeth grit and your brow furrowed, I take it you resented his remark, but his remarks were still on. “Beasts,” he followed, “are not fools, and beasts especially not-fool are exceptional kinds. They are good to know.”

“You... learned from youkai!?”

You found your strength here, and you knocked up his sword, falling into a stance to thrust. You said, “That is incredible...! Vile... incredible!” And finally, with a crack of snow, you fully opened both your eyes. “When I defeat you... I’ll have you tell me which beast this was!” And you stabbed forward, impacting the bark of a different tree with the force. He jumped, onto your sheath. Your face showed this very much baffled you, but here you held the sheath with your right hand and took out the sword with your left, just as he leapt over your head, turning—flipping to your back side. The Roukanken shined brightly as it left its scabbard, and you brought it to him—this kind of moment is so very fast, it sounds better to say “it was as if time slowed”, doesn’t it?

It was as if time slowed. He saw your strike and brought out his blade to defend, but your Roukanken, forged by youkai...



Yes.

It could cut his sword.

He landed behind you, the severed top of his blade stuck in soft soil—softened from the heat of your movements. You switched the blade over your palm to grab it reverse, and you made to stab backward. He leapt underneath your arm and snatched your sheath from your other hand.

His defiance must have been intriguing to you. The flower on your scabbard shivered in the hands of another, and you looked at the seals along the sheath, surely wondering what purpose it was they were meant to serve. He put both hands on your family’s second weapon, and he raised the sheath, his feet planted and his eyes fixed fast on you. Snow crunched under four feet as you both engaged again. Your sword, after all, cannot cut its sheath.

But you had your eyes now, there was nothing disabling you. His legs were strong, and he sometimes would jump unpredictably in an attempt to move past your offense and guard, but with all your senses availed he was more akin to a fly to you. You could strike him down, provided he stood still, but otherwise he only bothered.

Eventually, in the midst of this bought, you turned your blade again and checked his throat with its pommel. He expelled into your face and you checked his body next with your shoulder. When he was knocked into the snow again you stomped on his chest as he had stomped on the chest of your phantom. You aimed your sword-tip down at the tip of his nose, realizing then that you had kicked up a sweat. It was unusual for you, outside of training. He made no effort to fight back. He was coughing still, and had let go of the Roukanken’s scabbard. He had nothing.

“Now!” you announced, to order:


[] “Stand down.”

[] “Your name.”

[] “Come with me.”

Time remaining: ::Timer ended at: 2019/11/19(Tue)04:00


++++++++

And now I'm caught up. The timer is, as always, floating. Vote past it if you want and I haven't yet updated.
>>No. 200981
[]"Hand it over. That thing, your dork soul."

[x] “Your name.”

It's only polite to ask for the name of the person who made us use 10% of our power.
>>No. 200982
[x] “Your name.”
>>No. 200983
[x] “Your name.”
>>No. 200984
[x] “Your name.”
>>No. 200985
“Your name.”
>>No. 200991
[x] “Your name.”
>>No. 200996
File 157414286231.png - (797.45KB, 1128x1553, bushi___doh.png) [iqdb]
200996
[X] “Your name.”


Koff! Koff...!” he coughed, and spat. Then, “Eh?”

“Answer!” you bellowed!

“I am Nakahara Taro...” he said. “Who are you?”

“I am the half-phantom, Konpaku Youmu, and today I have defeated you... Nakahara... Taro-dono!”

“Yes, that appears to be the case...” after saying this, he coughed again, and his expression turned with a short wave of confusion. “‘Konpaku’...?” he said.

“You have heard of us,” you said rather loudly.

“Just... the name. So, a sword-bearing clan... now that makes sense...” He was muttering.

“Know this...” you said, quite ominously, as you took up your scabbard and sheathed your sword with flair, “had it not been for the laws of this land I would have slaughtered you.”

“You did not even abide by the laws... ugh.”

You had taken your foot from his chest, you see.

You chastised him. “Neither did you!” you said. “Where were your spell cards? Danmaku? I saw none of it! You found me with a blade, so I gave a blade in kind.”

“It wasn’t ‘in kind’...” he grumbled, turning over and starting to push himself up. “Who comes at a bokken with a katana and a wakizashi?”

“Who comes at a katana and a wakizashi... with a bokken?” you replied. Yes, I’ll give you that Youmu. That was a smart moment for you. My, you’re cute.

Continuing—

He looked embarrassed at that reversal; there was red amidst all the while now. You finally felt the thrill of battle sitting down, your blood was cooled.

... It was certainly cold: winter in Gensokyo. You shivered.

“... You thought a scarf was all that you needed in this weather?” he asked you.

“I... I-I-I d-did,” you admitted. Sweat and winter air was a merciless combination... You held crossed your arms and held their fore-s.

He smugged at you. Grin, grin. “Freeze like you’ve frozen my lands, half-ghost,” he said. You glared at him, your teeth chattering. “You finished my sword...” he continued, now stood up, though slouching a bit, his eyes on his feet. He looked at you again. “But I don’t need a sword to catch phantoms,” he said. He walked over, and picked up the bottom part of his severed sword. “You’ve set me back,” he told you, “but there’s still daylight. I will go finish my work. Good bye, Konpaku Youmu-dono.”

He walked away. He made it quite a way, too before you were at his back and shoving into his side for warmth. “Go away!” he snapped.

“I must find the phantoms!” you insisted. “I will follow you until you show them to me! And d-don’t t-t-t... t-t-t-t—... TRY anything strange, or I will cut you down again!”

“You’re ridiculous!” he shouted, but he was too weak now to even shove you.

“Needs must be met. Show me the ph... phantoms!”

Now when Yukari explained all of this to me, she neglected to mention how you clung to Nakahara Taro. Youmu, explain.


[] ... I pushed into his side and had his right arm in both of mine.

[] ... I stayed at his back and pushed my arms under his, holding him around his torso.

[] ... I had him carry me, keeping my arms around his neck.


Time remaining: ::Timer ended at: 2019/11/20(Wed)03:00

>>No. 200997
[x] ... I pushed into his side and had his right arm in both of mine.

Options two and three feel a step too forward
>>No. 201003
[x] ... I pushed into his side and had his right arm in both of mine.
>>No. 201004
[x] ... I pushed into his side and had his right arm in both of mine.
>>No. 201008
[x] ... I had him carry me, keeping my arms around his neck.

Can't get much more dorky than a piggyback ride
>>No. 201009
[x] ... I pushed into his side and had his right arm in both of mine.
>>No. 201012
[X] ... I had him carry me, keeping my arms around his neck.
>>No. 201015
[x] ... I pushed into his side and had his right arm in both of mine.

As much as I want princess carry, this seems like the most fitting choice for a dork
>>No. 201021
File 157426001434.jpg - (256.03KB, 1024x724, shiro.jpg) [iqdb]
201021
[X] ... I pushed into his side and had his right arm in both of mine.


That’s fairly close.

So you walked with him, hand in han—... arm in arms. Are you satisfied? You walked, and were surprised that he spoke first.

“... Why are you here?” he asked, his breath turning crystal as it left his tongue.

“You’re asking now!?” ...

“I’ve been taught to use what I have when I feel it will work,” he said, very plainly. “Thus I forewent interrogation.”

“That didn’t work, though,” you reminded.

Quiet.” He went silent for a little, and said... “Answer.”

So you did. “I was here to find those phantoms, or rather, to find... what’s brought them here.”

“You mean, you can stop them gathering?” he asked. You nodded. “Well I have little choice apart from believing you...” he admitted, closing his eyes and puffing a new cloud from his noise. “I hope that you can.”

“I must!” Sigh... Again, who was to blame for all this? Must, and yet the situation only arose because you... Hmmm... Thinking back on this part of the story, I really ought to reprimand you more.


Stop complaining, we are moving on.

The forest stayed very quiet; he led you where he had already been heading and in time the dark wood cleared to find the abode of another Halfling. Morichika Rinnosuke-san is a charming young man on the outskirts of both the Forest of Magic and the Human Village. As you approached his home and store, Kourindou, finally your phantom blood began to stir. The Soul Torch was most certainly there.

Well that was one reason you believed so; also, the old, aged, aching wooden building was swarmed with the less-alive half of your kind. They tried to get through the windows, they phased through the walls, the chimney was not safe and they generally seemed to very much enjoy being around the shack, and freezing it. Without a doubt: they were being coaxed by the Soul Torch. You squeezed his arm.

“Bring me to the door!” you ordered. Nakahara Taro’s face twisted with irritation as he leaned away from you. You... are very pushy at times.

“The source is in there? In Kourindou?” he asked you after lowering his hackles.

“I-Is something the matter?” though your blood was stirring, it was your colder blood. Your teeth were chattering again.

“Morichika-san is a finder and seller of lost things, but he will sell lost things back even to those who lost them. He is a shrewd and possessive half-youkai,” Taro explained.

“...” You stared at him quietly.

“Do you understand?” he asked you.

You nodded.

... You shook your head.

“You... if there’s something in that shop that you need to stop the phantoms... something like an artifact or object, as it would likely be in Kourindou, then then he will want to sell it back to you! Do you have any money?”

You shook your head.

“I can’t trust you to fix this. I won’t let you attack Morichika-san for whatever you’re looking for either,” He was accusing you!

I wouldn’t attack him!” you insisted!

“A youkai that I honor taught me to never trust any youkai at all. I do not trust Morichika-san, either... halfway,” he revealed, looking at the ghosty home-slash-store.

“Then you should trust me too! Halfway!” you yelled!

“Shhhh!” he shushed you, with his free hand up in a silencing gesture. “He can’t know we’re talking about getting something from him!

“I know something of deals.” He said, setting his shoulders and gazing upon Kourindou again. “Let me handle this,” he asked.


[] And you agreed.

[] But you disagreed.

Time remaining: ::Timer ended at: 2019/11/21(Thu)05:00

>>No. 201022
[x] But you disagreed.

The prices our Youmu Konpaku, raised as a dork, cannot slash are close to none!
>>No. 201024
[x] But you disagreed.
>>No. 201025
[x] But you disagreed.
>>No. 201026
[x] But you disagreed.
>>No. 201027
[X] But you disagreed.

I feel like Youmu would have both some amount of pride, and a sense of responsibility for this event, preventing her from not taking care of it herself.
>>No. 201029
[X] And you agreed.
>>No. 201033
[x] But you disagreed.
>>No. 201036
[x] But you disagreed.
>>No. 201042
File 157434191137.png - (220.45KB, 850x700, Excuse me!.png) [iqdb]
201042
[X] But you disagreed.


“I cannot allow that!” you boomed! He shushed you again, and once more you gave a shout: “This is my responsibility! Take me to the door!”

He shut his eyes and ground his teeth together. He was in no position to insist, and so without another word he did as you told.

You had him knock on the door. A sign in the front window informed the two of you that Kourindou was closed for business another hour and change. That didn’t mean the store was empty... Kourindou’s proprietor doesn’t leave his self-made cave. After a few more knocks, and your cries of, “Excuse me!” and “Could you open up please!?” ...

... well, he did.

“We’re closed,” said the white-haired man, and he shut the door.

Taro frowned, and you were aghast.

“Knock again!” you yelled, so he knocked.

“Pardon, children, but maybe you don’t understand the needs of business,” said Morichika Rinnosuke as he opened his door once more, the sound of a bell more obvious now with how strongly he’d done so. “There are rules to them. They open when they open, and when they are closed business does not operate. If you can understand that, please come later.”

“I insist, I can improve your situation!” you said. Taro, he looked at you as if you were mad. “I need something inside your store!” you cried, giving a most desperate plea. Taro, he shot a stare as sharp as a sword at you.

You—!” he started, but he held his tongue... and face—held with his actual hand. You continued on.

“Please, I beg you!” you shouted. Morichika Rinnosuke looked upon you, his coin-color eyes shining with opportunity.

“It’s very early,” he said, “but if your situation is so desperate, then I will make an exception.” And he let the two of you in.

A filthy, awful place; Kourindou is. When I lit the Torch after he had found it in Muenzuka, I could sense how trapped the lantern felt in that awful storeroom: full of odds, ends, knicks, knacks, and scores of sundry trash marked goods””, many from the Outside World, few that he even wanted to sell despite the premise of his entire store. You cannot see in Kourindou further than a leg’s length, and the air is suffocated by a hell’s amount of dust. It is terrible, and Yukari always smells faintly of old things when she pays that half-human a visit.

In this place, the Soul Torch burned for you powerfully. You knew where it was almost the moment you stepped foot, even if you could not actually see the needed thing.

“What are you looking for?” Rinnosuke asked you, standing at his front counter with a hand on its top. He looked rather tired, but there was a glint within his spectacles: a quietly exciting spark.

“Could you have, perchance, realized that you are being plagued by phantoms?” you asked him after having Nakahara Taro close the door behind the two of you (you still held on to him).

“Oh, was I?” said Rinnosuke.

“Yes,” you answered seriously... only realizing then that the inside of his store, despite having phantoms coming and going through the main and back rooms, was rather warm. A look around told you he was heating the place. You... Sigh, you were tempted to stay, weren’t you?

... At any rate, the store owner played plain and dumb, something one of you children noticed. It wasn’t you.

“Could you have, perchance, stumbled across and taken a small, paper lantern?” you asked.

“I have many lanterns, so you will need to be more specific,” said the man.

“It should be small enough to fit in your palm,” you said, and here you let go of the human boy to demonstrate your meaning through gesture. “And it should be glowing, even without a flame.”

“Give me a name,” said Rinnosuke. “If I’ve seen the object, I will know. I have a small special ability in these eyes that affords that,” he told you, tapping the side of his glasses’ frame.

And, “Oh!” you naively uttered! “The Soul Torch!” you said. Had I been there, I would not have said anything, but you’d have certainly known my irritation once we’d returned home. Taro, who was there, slapped his forehead.

“What is this Soul Torch?” asked Rinnosuke.

You said, “The Soul Torch is an item used for guiding a countless number of souls, and it is something that came from the Netherworld. Its light can be seen by spirits no matter how far away they are or how many obstacles are in the way. And, once they see it, they flock to it.”

“Is that so?” Rinnosuke pondered rather obviously. “Well, I think I found something like that before winter began.”

He said that and walked to the back of the store, leaving you to shout, “You have it!? Yes!”

Nakahara Taro was steadying his breathing. His eyes only left Rinnosuke’s back once he had turned through a doorway.

In a minute, Rinnosuke returned with the Soul Torch on his palm, and he asked you, “Is this the Soul Torch?”

“Ah, yes, yes, that’s it. Could you return it to me, then?” you asked. You forgot.

“This is a store,” said Rinnosuke. “Can you afford this?”

“How... How much does it cost?” you asked. Taro made to look at a figurine on a low shelf next to the store’s entrance. He was actually putting something in place, secretly.

“‘How much’...” Rinnosuke repeated, “have you ever heard, Miss Customer, of the phrase ‘if you have to ask, you can’t afford it’?”

And, your pale cheeks went even paler.

“Wh... What?” you stammered. You needed that lantern. “I need that... can’t you give it to me? It’s very important and you won’t have to worry about phantoms any more...”

“Didn’t I tell you, Miss Customer?” Rinnosuke started to remind. “There are rules to business. One of them is that goods and services come with a price, not fr—hm!? W—... What!?”

Taro had jumped past the store owner, thrown his scarf over the older man’s eyes, and swiped the Soul Lantern. He landed behind Rinnosuke, crouched, and then leapt backward powerfully, slamming the door open which—! had been propped open moments ago by the old hilt of his gone practice sword. He escaped with all haste, not saying a single word to the befuddled half-youkai.


[] You gave chase.

[] You joined him.

Time remaining: ::Timer ended at: 2019/11/22(Fri)04:00

>>No. 201043
[x] You joined him.
>>No. 201044
[x] You joined him.

Grand Theft Gensokyo
>>No. 201046
[x] You gave chase.
>>No. 201048
[x] You joined him.

Silly Taro, he should've put a bucket on his head instead.
>>No. 201050
File 157439696914.jpg - (781.96KB, 1549x2067, imagine it's Taro.jpg) [iqdb]
201050
[X] You joined him.


When Rinnosuke finally took the scarf off his face and readjusted his glasses, he saw your phantom half leaving his store and your shoe leaving his sight. He marched forward quickly, shouting “Hey!” out the door, but... you and the boy were already well within the trees.

So, let’s move ahead to there: well within the trees, the fleet of foot boy, trained by a rabbit, rushing straight through. You made it to his side very quickly, flying as he ran.

“Y-You stole it!” you said. He was surprised at your catching up so quick. “I can’t believe you did that!”

“Is this not yours!?” he asked, holding up our Soul Torch. The spirit inside it flickered as if to answer. “He stole it first! That’s the sort of man Morichika-san is! A man without repute! You don’t deal with him, you trick him!”

“You said you wanted to deal with him!”

“I would have worked the price down to as little as possible...” Taro told you, leaping over a log and, it seemed, his ultimate direction was towards the lake. “I would rather not have stolen, but you’re too naive! He was about to take advantage of you!”

Maybe he wasn’t!”

“He was!”

“Was he...!?” Said as if the thought had not occurred to you...

“I don’t want this dreadful device—you take it back.” He then passed you the lantern. He stopped after it had changed hands. Misty Lake, presently frozen, was before you both. “My job is done,” he said, and he looked like he would collapse.

“You were working, so... do you need my word to prove your work is com—oh. Oh...”

He collapsed.

The boy was, after all, only a boy. He hadn’t ever run so fast after taking a beating. He was tired, he collapsed in the snow.

Of course, you did not leave him there, with snow falling on his head.


[] You brought him back home.

[] You brought him to the village.

Time remaining: ::Timer ended at: 2019/11/23(Sat)04:00

>>No. 201053
[x] You brought him back home.

How scandalous, Youmu!
>>No. 201054
[x] You brought him back home.
>>No. 201055
[x] You brought him back home.

clearly there's no reason why bringing taro to Hakugyokurou could lead to any problems
>>No. 201058
[x] You brought him back home.
>>No. 201060
[x] You brought him to the village.
>>No. 201063
[x] You brought him back home.
>>No. 201064
[x] You brought him back home.
>>No. 201073
[x] You brought him back home.

Youmu's gonna be a bad girl.
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